Saturday, 27 April 2013

Science's Loss To Religion

There is a rather disturbing video on YouTube, in which a large number of parents and children attend a Christian show aimed at teaching children about the bible, and how to deny evolution. I was disturbed at the content.

After seeing the whole video, the comment from the parent in the middle, the comment from the children at the end, I was aghast. How can someone do this to their children? It's nonsensical.

This video is the perfect articulation of my motivation behind promoting Atheism, free thinking, logic, and reason. It's exactly what I personally got into the new Atheist movement to fight against.

I hope not all those children are as convinced as those at the end, but children are susceptible creatures. They believe what they're told, they have to for survival, they can't afford to treat all new information with skepticism like adults can. Everyone should be free to believe what they want, I truly believe that, but I'm unsure of my position when it comes to letting parents impart such false knowledge onto their children.

About half of Americans still deny evolution. It's fair to say that that's at least half of the population cut off from the wonders of science. Evolution is such a fundamental biological principal and to completely deny it against all the evidence cuts you off from any potential interest in science that crosses your path in life.

I'm not saying all those children would love science otherwise. Indeed some of them (hopefully) might grow up and reclaim the knowledge themselves. However by educating them contradictory to modern science, it prevents them from potentially forming an interest later in life, because it "goes against their faith".

Science needs all the recruits it can get, it needs as many minds contributing to the ever expanding wealth of knowledge as possible.

Spread the word. It's time to stop outright lying to our children. It's not a debate anymore, there is no uncertainty with the evidence, evolution is a fact. Allow these young minds freedom to explore the wonders of reality, and the opportunity to contribute back to it. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

What Was At The Beginning Of Time

Science, in the year 2013, doesn't know yet. But that's not a good enough reason to conclude it was God.

The most obvious next question which must follow the assertion that it was a God which created the Universe is "What created God?".

Common responses to this question by theists involve the prospect that this is an unanswerable question, that the question makes no sense due to the fact that by it's very nature, God is eternal, that it has been around forever and doesn't need a creator.

But why bother taking this extra step? Why don't the theists conclude that the origin of the universe in an unanswerable question, that humans will never know. Or why not conclude that the universe is eternal, that is has always been here. Maybe we are in just one universe, which is part of a multiverse which has been here forever; why not conclude this?

Just because you don't know, or even science doesn't know yet, this is not justification for claiming that a god caused it. From a lack of knowledge, it does not logically follow to the conclusion that it was a god. It's that simple.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

I Have Never Heard A Convincing Argument For God

Religion seems to be the best measure for the capacity of human logical thinking ever created by humans. It's fantastic, awesome. Religion is constructed with the exact right amount of logical fallacies, that around 50% of the population don't have the ability to reason them through and overcome them.

I say 50%, but I might be giving the human race more credit than is due. Much more than 50% of the human population is religious (regrettably), but many of those people are not presented with counter arguments or taught how to logically evaluate. Either way, the 50% figure isn't overly important, it might only be 20%.

However in my lifetime, I have never encountered an argument for religion, or a belief in god that was convincing. Every time there has been a logical fallacy or a false premise slipped into the argument, that the pro-religious party has been unable to notice.

These people are not stupid, I have sought to find the most intelligent arguments for religion, to check that I am not missing something, to check that I am not just researching biased information.

It doesn't make sense to me that these intelligent people are presenting these flawed arguments without realizing it. And I believe the answer to this perplexing puzzle is in psychology.

I seems to me that when engaging in a discussion with an intelligent pro-religious person, the conversation always expands to leave a convoluted trail of arguments and counter arguments and tangents, that by the time the conversation is concluded, it is impossible for the short term memory to recall all of the connections between arguments in the debate. Thus the party with flawed arguments, can't integrate the new information received into their belief system, and the original belief remains intact.

I also believe that educating children with these flawed arguments at a young age solidifies them deep in the brain, with many neural connections. Thus when debating these central ideas at an older age, it is much harder to break the illogical connections (have the party remember why Argument X is invalid) without constant repetition of the new information. Adding on the difficulty of a fast moving conversation where new information is only handled by the short term memory, and it is almost impossible to have the person remember why an argument was invalidated at a later time.

To this day I haven't found a single argument for god or religion that is convincing. I hope this article helps you to understand why debating religious people, or any party with a strong complex belief about any topic, is often unfruitful.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Science And Christianity Are Not Compatible

By definition, if you're a Christian, you believe Jesus Christ is the 'lord and savior' and follow his teachings and gospel. By definition this is true, if you don't believe this, you can't call yourself Christian.

If you're Christian, you believe Jesus was sent to earth by god to forgive humanity for mankind's sin in the Garden of Eden. 
This means you believe in the Garden of Eden, and the earth's creation 6000 years ago, and the earth was populated with humans from this point on by Adam and Eve.
Therefore you must also deny evolution.

If you believe in evolution, or dinosaurs, or the fact that the earth has been proved to be much older than 6000 years, you're denying the Garden of Eden and the story of Adam and Eve.
If you deny Adam and Eve, there is no original sin mankind committed.
If there is no original sin, there is nothing that needs forgiveness.
If there is nothing that needs forgiving, Jesus doesn't have to get tortured and killed and resurrected.

The ideas of current science, and current Christianity are not compatible. If you believe in evolution and the evidence for the age of the earth, you are not Christian. You only get one, Jesus the Messiah, or Evolution and all of Science. Make your choice.

Friday, 19 April 2013

"Prayer Doesn't Hurt Anyone"...

Neither does heil-ing.

The 'Heil', most famous for it's association with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in WWII Germany. This doesn't hurt anyone either, it's just holding your arm out straight with a serious look on your face. This doesn't effect anyone else, so what's the problem with it? 

The problem with it is it supports a man, and an ideology which was deemed highly immoral, as indeed it was. It shows support for what he was doing. It supports the ideals it was founded around.

This is why some Atheists oppose praying. It supports the ideology of religion, which most Atheists hold in contempt. Ignoring the fact that it's illogical and completely useless, it shows that you subscribe to, and support the ideology it is based around, religion. Religion is the true organisation many active Atheists oppose, as they should (RE:Why Atheism Is So Important). For me at least, this is one of the reasons I oppose praying. 

An important thing to note though is that I don't think prayer should be outlawed for individuals to practice in their own home or in public. It should be kept out of schools, in alignment with the separation of church and state, which is outlined in the constitution. But it should be free for individuals to practice whenever they want. I just think those individuals should be laughed at and ridiculed by the community when they do, in the same way big foot enthusiasts are ridiculed and laughed at.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Atheism - Why Take The Risk?

I had an adult christian tell me the other day "Why take the risk not believing in god?". I say adult on purpose because I can not believe that an apparently functional human being couldn't figure out why this argument is so fucking stupid. Apparently, if I believe in god and there is an afterlife, I'm all good, and if I believe in god and there isn't an afterlife it doesn't matter anyway, so why take the risk?

This seems like a legitimate augment, for about six seconds, and then you realize why it's so inherently so fucking stupid.

This argument is based on the premise that those are the only two choices, Christianity or Atheism, which is just not true. The choice is between a large number of other religions. Even within Christianity itself, there are denominations which are sure they are the only ones getting into heaven. This implies that even if there is a god, that we've figured out exactly what he wants us to do and some group of people are abiding by their laws. There could be a god we haven't figured out yet, and no one is doing what he wants us to do and we're all going to fucking hell.

The argument gives the illusion of a false dichotomy, the illusion there are only two choices, when in actual fact there are an unlimited amount of choices. 

Of course, there is only one rational choice - Atheism, but that's beside the point.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Boston Bombings - Pray, And Then Do Something That Actually Helps

#prayforboston. Are you fucking kidding me? How about #donateblood, or #thanksparamedics or, #donatetopayvictimsmedicalbills.

I am disgusted by these attacks on US soil. I hope the perpetrators are found and brought to justice. I have enormous sympathy for the victims and their families. I hope the casualties have a speedy recovery, and that the doctors do all they can to ensure no one else dies from this horrific event.

If praying makes you feel better, I'm not going to take that away from you at a time like this. But as soon as you're done praying, get up off your knees and do something REAL to help SOMEONE ELSE. God isn't going to solve this problem, humans pulling together as humans are.

If all you do is pray, when you can afford to do more, you're just selfish. You're just satisfying your own desire to feel like you've done something to help.

Get up off your knees and donate blood, donate to a local hospital, donate to a cause to pay the victims medical bills. Take the 10% of your income you would give to the church this week and put it where it'll help these innocent people.

Again, my thoughts and sympathies go out to everyone involved in this terrible incident.

People, help the people:

[caption id="attachment_567" align="aligncenter" width="605"]Pray. Then DO SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY WORKS. Pray. Then DO SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY WORKS.[/caption]

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Why Atheism Is Important

Many religious people, and many non-atheists think it's strange that a group of people would congregate and talk about how much they don't believe in something. I mean, there aren't gatherings for people who don't play golf, am I right?

The thing is, Atheism is generally more than simply "not believing in god". It's about freedom from religion. It's about making sure no one else's beliefs cause problems with anyone else's lives.

Here is a list of why many people are passionate about Atheism:

  1. Religion imposes itself on the lives of non believers.
    - Denominations of Christianity are against homosexuals; in America a homosexual couple has less rights than a heterosexual couple (it is law, that everyone must obey).
    - Islam oppresses women, forcing them to dress in traditional clothing, denying women education, punishing a woman with death if she is raped.
    - Religion in general is against stem-cell research, research which could reveal cures for diseases which affect millions of lives.

  2. Religion imposes itself on the lives of believers.
    - Denominations of Christianity force people to feel guilty about sexual desires.
    - Denominations of Christianity require people to abstain from premarital sex, and from use of birth control.
    - Islam requires women to wear traditional clothes. It is the choice of the woman if she wears these or not, but in a society where the options imposed by religion are wear the burqa or suffer the consequences (rape, murder, excommunication by the family),  it's hardly a choice.

  3. Religion tries to push laws to be put in place that affect everyone.
    - Laws about abortion, homosexual marriage, restrictions to freedom of speech. Some of these laws are in place, and some are trying to be put in place, that would force non believers to comply. The fact of the matter is, religion has no place in deciding whether laws like this need implementing.

  4. Religion teaches people myths and legends as truth.
    - Children in public schools who are taught to deny evolution and being taught creationism as fact.
    - African populations with no other sources of information being taught lies about birth control, which if used correctly would prevent the spread of HIV.

These are just a few examples of many where religion imposes itself on people not of the faith. If you can think of others, post a comment below.

Religion infringes on the rights of others. This is why most Atheists are passionate about it.

Evolution Is Not Evidence For Your God

Not all religious people oppose evolution, but those who do, or those who use evolution as evidence for god, are wrong. With all the evidence from the many different areas of science supporting evolution, it is almost impossible that modern science has it wrong. Darwin's theory of evolution will most likely stand the test of time (and good science).

Today, I'm going to address the specific group which believe in god, believe in evolution, and believe that evolution itself is evidence for god.

The argument often comes as "I understand that the animals and plants were not designed, but doesn't the fact that natural selection and DNA itself is so complex, doesn't this show that a god must have designed the system?". 
No, it fucking doesn't.
The argument is a complete non sequitur, the evidence simply doesn't lead to the outcome. The argument is flawed in many ways.

First, just because we don't presently understand precisely how DNA came to be, and how it arranged itself into a self replicating molecule, it doesn't mean science will never know. So until we know, we shouldn't lie to each other and claim we know that it was god that created it all.

Second, there is no other way such a system could exist. The DNA is as complex as it is because if it was any less complex, it wouldn't work, and we wouldn't be alive to marvel at it's randomness. There might be another way life can arise using a similar system to DNA, with a completely different chemical structure, but equally complex, and this could theoretically work. As we now know, there are a few ways to make a light bulb (incandescent, halogen, LED, etc), but as Edison found out,  there are many many ways not to make a light bulb.

Thus, any system that was not complex and didn't have the illusion of design, would not be able to give rise to life sophisticated enough to ponder over the system that it arose from. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My Morals As An Atheist

A common phrase which I hear all the time as an Atheist is "Where do you get your morals from if not from the bible?". I can't speak for all atheists on this point, but here is one alternative explanation for the origin of a moral code.

My morality comes from being able to to put myself in the position of other people. As a human being, we have evolved this awesome brain function that allows us to reason the workings of other peoples minds. In cognitive psychology, this is called "Theory of mind", and develops in children around the age of 4.

With this function, we can experience a state of mind known as 'empathy'. Empathy is being able to recognize and understand the feelings and emotions of others.

We also have a function which allows us to imagine future events, and the outcomes of these events.

With these two functions put together, we can figure out the emotional outcome for others, in a hypothetical situation.

Using this tool unconsciously allows me to determine acts that are "good" from "bad" for any given situation. This is the foundation of my morality. And from this, I can effectively function as a good person in the world.

To derive the distinction between good and bad, I use the premise that people should try to maximize happiness and reduce suffering in conscious creatures, and that something that maximizes happiness or reduces suffering is morally good. Why should you accept this premise? Assuming there is no god (as Atheists do), the responsibility for our actions lies with the individual. The individual and their experience is now the highest level of being that can determine good and bad. Thus, it makes sense that any action to optimize the net experience of conscious minds can be considered good.

The fundamental principal is to act to benefit the experience of conscious creatures. This can be manifested by treating others the way you would like to be treated. 

I would argue that this fundamental principal is how all humans derive their morality, regardless of what they think the source of their morality is.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Faith Is Not A Virtue

There should be no pride in believing in something without evidence, but this is exactly what the majority of religions have gone and done. Not only do they believe without evidence, but they teach that having beliefs based purely on faith is something to be respected and admired. It's not.

That's the definition of faith actually. Believing without evidence. If you had evidence, you wouldn't need faith. That's the whole point of faith, that you have no fucking evidence for what you believe. Faith starts where evidence ends.

Religion is like the "gateway drug" to bullshit. Once you teach people that believing things without evidence is okay, and teach them not to question their surroundings, then they are gullible to any other bullshit that comes their way. Adults believing in fairy tales is not healthy for society. People blindly believing what they're told is how con-artists scam people, how "natural remedies" are propagated through society, how rumors spread.

It is not always practical to be skeptical about everything, but when it comes to decisions that have life changing impacts on others as well as yourself, you should take the time to ask a question or two. "Good reasons" and evidence govern every single other aspect of our lives, why should we treat something that effects so many people in so many areas of life, differently.

Faith is not a virtue, faith is mockable. People with faith should be ridiculed, people should be embarrassed to have opinions and hold beliefs without evidence. Our society should be more critical of people believing bullshit fairy tales, and the organisations peddling them.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The 10 Commandments Are Bullshit

You know what's bullshit about them. The fact that you had to have them written down. The fact that you couldn't figure out internally not to kill people. Really Christians??
Here is why each of the commandments are or are not bullshit:

1 - No gods other than me - God, what a cunt. The creator of everything in the whole fucking universe and he's jealous of which no-evidence bullshit dogma regime we subscribe to. Right on. Also conveniently makes people think they will go to hell if they leave this no-evidence based bullshit dogma regime they were probably born and forced into by their parents.
2 - No graven images -  Well, it is kind of hard to sculpt an image of something that doesn't exist! Also, I'm pretty sure there are pictures and statues of Jesus on the cross fucking everywhere, so apparently this one isn't very important anyway.
3 - Don't take god's name in vain -  Jesus fucking Mary and Joseph, this is literally had the opposite effect. I guess that's what happens when you tell children not to do something. You don't hear people yelling, "Fucking Obama!" when they stub their toe. Apparently no one ever told the people not to take the president's name in vain.
4 - No working on the Sabbeth (Sunday) - Because apparently an all powerful god, who after building the whole fucking universe, spent 6 days on the earth and got tired. Fucking really? And why did he need Adam's rib to make eve? He made fucking everything else out of nothing, why not just conjure up some more nothing rather than taking one of Adam's fucking ribs out. Also this is apparently not a very important commandment either, because I bet there a whole bunch of Christians out there working on Sundays.
5 - Honor your Mum and Dad - This seems like a generally nice thing to do. Fucking 4 whole commandments before we got to one that's not total shit. And if god did do you the service of being born to an abusive priest rapist dad, or crack whore alcoholic mother, make sure you honor them, or god will be mad bro.
6 - Thou shalt no kill - Another generally good one. Unless.. they're gay, then fucking stone their ass. Or if your children disrespect you.. you can fucking stone those cunts too.
7 - No committing adultery -  Another good one. Unless you're god, he can do what he wants. He impregnated the Fuck out of Joseph's wife. What a shit bloke.
8 - No stealing - Legit, this is generally a bad thing to do. It's hard to believe you would go to hell for ever and ever for stealing food to feed your starving family, but hey, if you're believing all the other shit at this point.
9 - Don't bear false witness - This is by far the best commandment, no joke. It basically means, don't give false evidence or don't say you witnessed something if you didn't. Kind of ironic, given all the bullshit gospel that followed for the next 2000 years. Faith healers, and miracle witnesses alike seem to have missed this one.
10 - Don't covet your neighbors shit - Aaaaand we're back in the land of bullshit. What does this even mean? Don't want your neighbors stuff? Don't be jealous. Also, I love how he just throws "don't covet his servants" in there, like that's heaps moral and allowed. Being jealous, you're going to burn in hell forever, owning and possessing another of god's children as a slave, you're in the clear.

I hope you finally realize how nonsense the 10 commandments are, and had a good laugh in the process. Sure some of them still apply in today's society, but some of them are just ridiculousness.  You can't pick the one's you like, and say they're the moral guide. Either you accept they're THE moral guide, and abide by all of them, or abandon their value and form your own morality. If some of your morality happens to cross with some of the 10 commandments morality, that's allowed. But you can't cherry pick the ultimate word of god, and still call whatever you have left the ultimate word of god.

Friday, 5 April 2013

No Morality Without The Bible

A Diagram of Religious Morality
Yea fucking right. I don't even need to spend a lot of time on this.

IF, as you say, the bible is the ultimate moral guide for all actions, then how do YOU know which parts of the bible to follow?
If you follow the bible for your morality, and it says in the bible to own slaves, and stone your children to death for disobedience, shouldn't you be doing these things? By not killing your children for disrespecting you, aren't you directly going against the word of your almighty and all powerful god.

How did YOU figure out not to kill your children and keep slaves? You know it's wrong to do, you're not a monster after all. But how do you know this if god specifically says it's okay? How did you figure out which parts of the bible are relevant today and which one's aren't.

Perhaps, you have a sense of morality, independent from your religion. Perhaps, you have a sense of morality based on empathy for others (like every other human).  Perhaps you're not a monster.

By saying you only know morality because of a religion, you're saying it's not possible to figure it out by yourself. Are you really that stupid (maybe, if you believe in religion in the first place). I doubt it.

Base your morality around empathy for others. It works, 100% of the time. Act with respect for the well being of conscious creatures.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Children Can't Be Catholic

..Or Mormon, or Muslim, or any other religion. They don't know what it is, they can't subscribe to something they know nothing about, regardless of what their parents say.

I 'm not talking about 15 year old children here, I'm talking about 12 month olds, 2 year olds, 4 year olds. There are many children indoctrinated with the religion of their parents.

A metaphor to make this easily understandable would be to compare this situation to calling a child a Republican child, or a Democrat child, or a Communist child. No rational human being would call a 2 year old a republican child. It's ridiculous. They can't understand even the concept of a 2 party political system, let alone pick a side to stand with. If your relative called their 2 year old a Democrat child, you would think it crazy, but somehow calling them a Lutheran child manages to slip by.

Stop labeling children with a religion they don't understand, it's not fair on them, and you sound like an idiot. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Assessing The Logical Impairment Of Religious Individuals

Because each person has such a unique view about everything, I don't like to assume someone's beliefs based around what they call themselves. For example, a man might only call himself a catholic because his parents told him he was catholic. He never really went to church, never really thought about it, never thought it was important. He might not hate gays, oppose gay marriage, oppose abortion, oppose birth control, and believe in the 7-day creation, but those are usually the traits people associate with the word "catholic".
So before you start judging the person for their immoral belief system, it's important to assess what they really believe. 

A few important questions for assessing how bug-nutty bat shit crazy a person's beliefs are.

0 Points:
  • Believe in a god
    Believing in a god get's no points? Yes, if that's the end of it. At this stage of human knowledge, it is only a little illogical to believe in a god that created the big bang, and it pretty much affects nothing to do with that person's life, so it's essentially irrelevant. 

1 point:
  • Against premarital sex.

  • Against self pleasuring.

  • Believe in Noha's flood literally.

  • Believe in that guy in the whale literally.

  • Believe in the 7 day creation literally.

  • Believe any of Jesus' miracles literally (walking on water, water to wine, etc.).

  • Believe in Heaven and Hell.

  • Saying the words "you can't disprove it".
2 points:
  • Believe atheists are going to hell.

  • Believe those who believe in other gods are going to hell.

  • Don't believe in evolution.

  • Believe the earth was created 6000 years ago.

  • Believe there would be no morals without god/their religious text (Eg. Bible, Koran).
3 points:
  • Against birth control.

  • Against abortion.
5 points:
  • Against homosexual marriage.

  • Support slavery.

  • Think creationism should be taught in schools.

  • Think evolution shouldn't be taught in schools.

+2 points for each belief they think can justify. Limit 6 points.

So there you go. If you can think of any others, leave a comment.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Evil Christianity in Action - A Case Study

The Philippines has a population of 96.5 million people, of which 18.4% live in poverty (Less than US $1.25) dollars a day. That's about 17 million people living in poverty. philippines-poverty

Currently there are about 3 million new births each year, and half of these are unwanted. This is due to a lack of available birth control for women. The Philippine government and citizens agree that having one of Asia's highest birth rates is simply compounding to their poverty problem.

Earlier this month, a new action by the Philippine government that would have allowed free birth control available to those living in poverty, was blocked by petitions from the catholic church. This is not the first time it has been blocked by the Catholic's either, since 1998, it has been repeatedly blocked.

The law still has a chance of going into effect, after it passes through the supreme court to check that it is "in line with the constitution".

The irony of the Catholic Church is disgusting. The church professes to help those most in need and preaches the gospel of protecting society’s weakest, the poor, women and children. How, then, can the bishops who wield such disproportionate power over those citizens, fight an action to directly help those in need. Disgusting. 

If those poor, poverty stricken devout Catholics living in the slums don't want to use birth control, they don't have to. But the fact that it is unavailable to everyone because of some people's religious beliefs is immoral, and at heart, evil. By not allowing this legislation to take effect, it perpetuates the suffering of the citizens, which the religion thrives off.

This sort of action by the churches who claim to be about peace and love needs to be addressed. It is unacceptable.
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