Friday, June 29, 2012

My First Defriending!

Today I had my first (that I know of) defriending on Facebook.  A Christian who I was debating with decided to just unfriend me when I posed a particularly difficult question.

After she opened the conversation by asserting that atheists do believe in (the Christian) god, but don't want to follow its laws, it pretty much devolved.  When I posed a simple question about morality with a "yes" or "no" answer, both her and another friend of hers refused to answer.  They called the question, "rediculous" (sic) and "unhelpful".  They told me that answers are out there if I care to look, but didn't cite any, saying that if I won't look for them, they won't help me.  They refused to answer at all.  They didn't even attempt a "maybe" or "it depends on the circumstances" answer, just nothing.  My former friend called the question "a trap", which to be fair it was, even though it is a perfectly valid question.  The problem is that once you answer it either way, you realise that something is wrong either with your own morality, or with your deity's morality.  That is the trap.  If you answer, "Yes", you have to wonder why you are so fucked up to have answered like that.  If you answer "No", you must grapple with the fact that your deity is not as moral as you believe, or that it has drastically less power than you believe.

So then she unfriended me.  That's what Christians do when they are confronted with a question that is a toughie.  They cut off the source, censor the ideas coming in, and run back to their Christian groups, where their ideas won't be challenged and they can live a sheltered life away from outside thought.  It's a perfect recipe for religious belief.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Has Science Ever Done for Us?

I just read this article, about young people in the United States "abandoning religion" in large numbers.  I think the article is misleading because what the numbers really mean is that young people are having doubts in large numbers, but the article itself is not what I'm writing this post about.  This comment in the comment section interested me:

"I'm not trying to kill anybody's hope. If it makes you happy to think that humankind is going to abandon the belief in a power greater than itself that it has held in a multitude of ways for at least 6000 years, by all means, go ahead. I hope it works out for you. And turn to what? Science? The people who gave us Hiroshima, Zyklon B, the Tuscaloosa syphilis experiments, napalm, daisy cutters, drones, genetically modified food, hormone replacement therapy, DDT, global warming, etc. etc. etc.?"

This stupid comment, written by Michael Ryle, leaves itself open to many methods of attack, and I'll take several of them here:

1.  So you're going to turn to a (presumably the Christian) god?  The god that invented pain?!  The god that invented suffering, death, cancer, cystic fibrosis, birth defects, mental retardation, cyanide, alcohol, anthrax, polio, malaria, HIV/AIDS, etc. etc. etc.?  The god that leaves evidence for its existence and desires so unclear that humans are brought to fighting wars for it, such as the Crusades, Witch Trials, Islamic jihad, etc. etc. etc?  The god that kills (how many?) millions of babies of mothers who want them every single year, supports slavery and genocide, etc. etc. etc.?

2.  At least 6,000 years?  What a fucking putz.

3.  Science is not a group of people that we turn to instead of a god.  When I was in university, my boss, a good scientist, was highly religious.  I found this out by surprise when he invited me to his home for dinner and he led his family in prayer before eating.  The Catholic Church (finally ) also recognises science as a path to truth, as do many other religious groups.

4.  The fact that the Hiroshima bomb worked, that genetically modified food exists, that hormone replacement is possible, etc. etc. etc., is PROOF that science works!  Say it with me, you fucking putz:


Science is not an entity, it is a method for discovering truth.  And the fact that it has proven itself, repeatedly millions of times, to be effective at discovering truth (ie. things that work), means that it is an excellent method for discovering truth.  Religion, on the other hand, has never proven a single shred of its (various and contradictory) supernatural claims, not once, not EVER!

5.  Wasn't the guy who ordered the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings a Christian?  Weren't the people dispensing the Zyklon B Christians?  Weren't the people dropping the napalm Christians? etc. etc. etc.

6.  Science is a method for discovering truth, as outlined above.  Sometimes the truth isn't pleasant.  But it's what WE DO with those truths that can bring bad consequences.  Are you going to blame the people who discovered electricity because people are tortured using it?  If you're advocating that we don't use science because it can bring knowledge that can lead to bad effects, then you're against KNOWLEDGE.  Like many religious people, you'd prefer for people to live in fear and ignorance.  Even the Christian origins story is an attack on knowledge.  You do all of this while you sit at a computer, typing on the internet, presumably in your climate-controlled dwelling, while the food is kept healthy in your refrigerator, you have vaccinations for many life-threatening diseases, etc. etc. etc.

You, Michael Ryle, are an ungrateful fool who does not recognise all of the benefit science has brought you personally, all of the truth science has discovered, all while advocating (between the lines) for us to live in fear and ignorance.

Friday, June 8, 2012

30 Days to a Better You!

I have a challenge for the religious.  The challenge comes with no obligation, and I offer a full refund of your payment if you are not satisfied with the results.  For the next 30 days, I challenge you to do the following.  Every time you have a question about your deity of choice, about a mysterious or confusing aspect of your understanding of it, try answering the question with, "Because it doesn't exist."

For example, if you ask yourself, "Why doesn't (my deity of choice) heal amputees?", answer with "Because it doesn't exist."  If you ask, "Why did my deity of choice make such an easily misinterpreted set of rules to live by?", answer with "Because it doesn't exist."  And so on.

You don't have to actually believe the answer during the trial period, but try it and see how well it fits every time (depending on how you phrase the question).  Former believers will tell you that it's amazing how much your understanding of the world around you can improve and clarify after you begin using this answer for those stubborn questions.