Tag Archives: atheism

Making Atheism Illegal

There’s often a lot of whining from the atheist “community” about those few states in America where, by “law”, atheists cannot hold public office.  Never mind that these laws have all been overturned by the Supreme Court and hold absolutely no legal weight, nor can they be enforced in any way, shape or form.  The fact that they exist at all is a travesty.  Yet much, much worse can happen, and may happen, in Egypt.

Because Egypt is considering making atheism outright illegal, it would be against the law to not believe in some kind of god.  “The phenomenon [of atheism] is being promoted in society as freedom of belief when this is totally wrong,” said Amro Hamroush, head of Egypt’s Parliament’s committee on religion and promoter of the bill.  “[Atheism] must be criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions.”

Well hate to say it, but the Abrahamic religions have earned every insult and all the derision they receive. The Abrahamic religions are evil.  The Egyptian Committee on Religion is researching how such a law could be implemented, considering there’s no way to determine if someone is an atheist if they don’t openly talk about it.

Now Egypt has had blasphemy laws since 1982, which seek to “promote, through speech, writing, or any other medium, extremist ideas with the aim of spreading discord” or if they “belittle or disdain one of the monotheistic religions or their different sects, or to harm national unity.”  Now I’m sure Islamic sects are immune to this law because promoting extremist ideas with the aim of spreading discord is pretty much the definition of a lot of radical Islamic sects.  But nah, it just doesn’t apply to them, does it?

So far, no countries out and out ban atheism, although 13 countries do make it a crime to blaspheme against religion, those countries being Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  Surprise, surprise, they are all Islamic countries.  Islam, as is no surprise, is outright evil.

So what do you think?  Certainly, except for Egyptian atheists, none of us will be directly impacted, but is this something that should be accepted?  Or is this something that needs to be fought with every tool at our disposal?  I pick the latter.  Thought-crime cannot be permitted.

Taking Another Look at Contact (1997)

I just re-watched the 1997 movie Contact, starring Jodie Foster and adapted from the Carl Sagan book.  I hadn’t seen it since the late 90s or so, but it was sitting on Amazon Prime, so why not?

But the one thing that I think has really changed since the last time I saw it is my reaction to the religious content in the movie.  Last time, from what I can remember, I tolerated it.  This time I absolutely hated it.

I honestly had a rather violent reaction this time, truth be told.  When the religious assholes were demanding that Jodie Foster’s character couldn’t go because she didn’t believe in God, I wanted to throttle them. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot less tolerant of religious horse shit.

I mean, I still like the movie in general, but I’ve started to notice that it really makes Jodie Foster’s character start to look a lot more religious, especially at the end.  She has to play into every single religious trope that they set up in her path, she had to parrot back all of the mindless religious tripe they had said to her throughout the movie.  And in the end, there was a grand religious conspiracy to keep her discredited.  Religion clearly won in the end, although it was an underhanded, devious victory.

And that’s not how the book ended at all.  But I haven’t read the book in a very long time either. Either way, the movie really pissed me off this time through.  I would have been much happier if it had been Arroway fighting against incessant irrationality in the world and winning, but she lost.  Irrationality won. And that’s just not the kind of movie I want to see.  I know Sagan died before the movie came out but something in me wants to think that he’d be metaphorically spinning in his grave over what it turned out to be.

But hey, what do I know, right?

Nothing Worth Talking About

Recently, I was bored so I decided to stop in over at one of my old stomping grounds, the Debating Christianity & Religion forums.  Now I had walked away from it a while back because very little ever happened there, you really never got any decent debates and most people there on the religious side were either complete fanatics or so mild in their beliefs that I don’t know that they really take it seriously at all.  Neither were at all interesting to have a debate with because they were either too committed to their beliefs and unwilling to consider alternatives, or so uncommitted to their beliefs that it was like talking to jello.  So I just walked away for a while.

But upon going back, the problem hadn’t changed, in fact, I’d argue it got worse.  The majority of the Christian fanatics were gone, banished for being assholes, but the milquetoast theists were still around, albeit in smaller numbers.  The whole forum is now atheist-heavy, which honestly isn’t much fun for someone like me who doesn’t want to be in an echo chamber, but who wants to engage in debate with serious theists.  But as before, everyone is just talking about minor doctrinal matters and such and is ignoring the only question that makes any difference:  do gods exist?

Because without that question, everything else is meaningless.  It’s putting the cart a couple of light years in front of the horse and expecting it to move.  Who cares about doctrine when the basis for that doctrine hasn’t been established?  That’s really the only debate that matters and it is the one that nobody wants to talk about.  Why quibble about minutia in the Bible when the whole basis for the Christian faith hasn’t been demonstrated?  Why argue about faith when the subject of that faith is so nebulous?  And of course, once you establish whether a god actually exists in objective reality or not, most of the rest of these debates become pointless because there will be very few people on the other side to argue against.

So why doesn’t anyone argue over the existence of gods?  Because there is no argument to be had. The theists have nothing to present and the atheists have nothing to argue against.  You get some theists who don’t know the difference between a philosophical argument and actual evidence, but they’re not fun to talk to because they just make unsubstantiated claims and expect you to take them seriously.  And at the end of the day, they won’t change their minds anyhow because their heads are muddled with blind faith.

I’m one of the oldest people there, I’ve had an account since 2007 and have never won a “most civil debater” award because I don’t care about making people happy, I care about getting evidence and nobody has any.  I guess it’s only a matter of time before I say the hell with it and walk away again. I’ve largely given up talking to theists at all because I know that they have nothing and it’s all ultimately a waste of my time.  I have better things to do than watch philosophical masturbation day in and day out. What’s sad is that none of these people have anything better to do than engage in it.

What Happened to Atheist Blogs?

I really haven’t had much of a chance to read blogs lately, but I went back through a bunch of blogs that I used to keep up on, only to find that the vast majority have either entirely stopped publishing, or haven’t published a new entry in more than 30 days.

What the hell happened?

I know that a lot of atheist bloggers have given up the ghost, or at the very least reduced content dramatically, over the past year.  Even I have decided to scale back how much I post, from a hard 4x a week to whenever I feel like writing something, which has averaged 2-3x per week.  And considering I also post twice a week on my YouTube channel, I’m probably producing as much or more content today than I ever was before.

That still doesn’t answer where all of the atheist bloggers have gone.  Did they burn out?  Did they simply move to other social media outlets?  I really don’t know.  A lot of the bloggers who actually explained what happened have said they’ve said what they wanted to say and are tired of repeating the same old things over and over.  I can certainly agree with that, after almost 11 years of blogging, I have covered just about every topic I can, and even when I think I have a new idea, I find that others have already gone over it exhaustively.  There are no new ideas in the world, to paraphrase Mark Twain.  This is especially true when it comes to religion because there are no new ideas in religion either.  It’s the same old tired empty claims, made without evidence, logic or reason, held emotionally, not intellectually. How many times can you point out the flaws in these arguments before you just get tired of trying?

But still, out of a dozen blogs I used to follow, only 2 still publish with any regularity.  5 are simply gone. None of the rest have published a new post since at least September, I have no idea if they ever will again.  Did something huge happen while I wasn’t looking that caused them all to implode, or is it just my bad luck to be following people who, for whatever reason, just don’t want to do this anymore?

It’s an interesting question.  It would be nice to find an interesting answer.

Never Tell Me The Odds

It’s that time again, time to look at the stupidity of accommodationists and the idiocy of their emotional positions.  This time, we started having a debate over whether or not gods are likely to exist in the real world.  That is, of course, after he kept accusing me of believing that no gods were real, rather than my actual position of not believing in gods for lack of evidence.  After he recanted that accusation, finally, he went on to use one of the stupidest examples I can possibly imagine:  the weather.

He said that if you look at the weather on your phone, it’s just a wild-ass guess what the weather is going to be.  Nope.  Every phone app I’ve ever seen tells you what meteorologists predict the weather is going to be like.  Then he brings up Doppler radar maps, but again, they aren’t presented without context, expecting you to read the data and act accordingly.  They all tell you what the images mean.  But wait, he says, they just give odds.  If you guess wrong, you’re out of luck!  Well of course!  That’s reality!  If the weather says there’s a 20% chance of rain and you decide that it won’t rain, you have a 20% chance of being wrong.  Welcome to the real world!  There are no guarantees, that’s how percentages work.  You still have to make a decision what you, as an individual will do, and apparently he doesn’t like that.

But this is a really good analogy for belief in gods.  According to the actual, demonstrable, objective evidence that we see in the world around us, the chances that any gods actually exist is virtually zero.  There just isn’t any evidence for the factual existence of any gods out there.  Therefore, when I’m deciding whether or not I ought to believe in them, I have to look at the data, decide the percentages, and follow the most rational path.  For any god that I’m aware of, that path is non-belief.  Could I be wrong? Absolutely, but the possibility is extremely low.  I constantly re-evaluate my beliefs in light of new information that might have come up, but for gods, that information is always nil so I’ve seen no reason to change my mind.

So why is it that people are so damn dumb?  This stuff really can’t be that hard for people to comprehend, but when you’re out to make people happy, instead of actually caring about the facts, I suppose it’s no wonder that you come off like a complete moron.  And explaining it doesn’t help because they don’t care if they’re right or wrong, their goal is to smooth over problems, not to hold a factually defensible position.  The odds of any of the major gods existing is extremely low.  It’s not zero, but it’s close.  Therefore, even though I can no more be absolutely certain that no gods exist, any more than I can be absolutely certain it won’t snow today, I have very good reason to think that’s the case, based on the ludicrous lack of evidence in support of these things.  That’s how odds work, you look at how likely a scenario is, based on the evidence, and make a decision how you will react.  I’m neither wearing galoshes today, nor am I headed to a church.  The evidence tells me neither is likely to be necessary.  If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong.  I find no reason to think I am in either case.

Replacing Religion

Not long ago, Jack over on Atheist Revolution wrote a post on replacing religion.  It’s an interesting question, but one that I’ve never really felt necessary.  It’s like saying “what other cancer would you like to replace your lung cancer with?”  Well, none, of course.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t have some kind of secular social gathering, but I’ve never bought into the idea that we should have a Sunday Service type of thing, where people sit in chairs and watch a speaker, just for the same of social interaction.  That kind of organized, top-down quasi-religious service really doesn’t sit well with me, regardless of the message.  Aren’t we supposed to be better than that?

After I left religion behind, I honestly had no interest in sitting in a pew, aping the kind of religion service that I had spent countless hours in.  I didn’t want to get together with non-believers, simply for the sake of gathering with non-believers.  I didn’t want to have a community with people with whom I only had a lack of religious belief in common.  I did, and still do, find that idea entirely idiotic.  The only reason you ought to be around anyone is if you find that particular person interesting to be around. Besides, I’d rather sleep in on Sunday and I usually have better things to do with my life than listen to someone standing at the front of a room.  Thanks, but no thanks.

I honestly don’t get people who can’t make friends and acquaintances on their own, who just want to be part of a faceless crowd because they get some sense of belonging to a group.  Just go make some friends with common interests and hang out.  It’s one thing to attend one of these ridiculous meetings once in a while, just to meet people, but let’s be honest, you aren’t guaranteed to have a common interest with anyone there because atheism isn’t an interest, it’s a lack of an interest.  I don’t get people who are “into atheism” any more than I get people who are “into not collecting stamps”.  That’s not a particularly good basis for a long-term friendship.  And I really don’t care how you have been indoctrinated, once you throw away religion, you ought to throw away the trappings of religion too.  That includes sitting in organized rows, mindlessly listening to someone in the front of the room drone on and on and on.

But anyhow, those are my thoughts.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Go ahead and post a comment and we’ll chat.

Let’s Answer Theist Questions!

I had a subscriber over on my YouTube channel send me links for a bunch of theist questions.  One list I did for YouTube but this one I’m going to cover here.  It’s actually split up into multiple sections and I’ll look at the ones addressed to atheists and agnostics.  As I’m not a Muslim or Buddhist or whatever, I’ll leave those sections alone.  Fair warning, this post is going to get pretty long.

1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?

Nope, but I’m not absolutely certain of anything.  I’m not even absolutely certain I’m sitting here answering these questions.  And sure, I suppose in the realm of extreme possibilities, there could be a god.  I simply have not been convinced that there is, hence I am an atheist.  I’d love to look at the evidence.  Where is it?

2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?

If you had any, sure.  But you don’t.  You’re just asserting things for which you have provided no actual evidence.  So where is this evidence?  I’m not asking for empty claims, I’m not asking for weak-sauce philosophical masturbation, I mean evidence. Actual, objective, demonstrable evidence that can be examined by anyone without them having to accept your conclusions first. Where is that?

3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?

Yes and we do think, based on credible mathematical models, that the source of the Big Bang most likely came from beyond our universe.  That doesn’t make it a god, it could have been a completely natural phenomenon.  In fact, our own universe could be sparking off billions of new universes all the time.

4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?

We cannot see them, that doesn’t mean we cannot detect them and we cannot test that they are there.  All of those things are very easily tested for and operate in predictable, consistent ways.  Where, exactly, is the objective test for God?  Let me know when you come up with one.

5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?

You’re right, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t exist.  Doesn’t mean he does either.  There’s no evidence for leprechauns or unicorns either, does that mean they’re out there?  And because there isn’t the slightest shred of objective evidence whatsoever that any god, anywhere, actually exists in factual reality, only a complete imbecile would believe in such a thing.  Are you a complete imbecile?

6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?

There is undeniable evidence for the Big Bang.  It happened.  We’ve known that since 1964.  There are certainly questions about what caused it to happen and science is working on the details all the time.  That’s how science works, after all.  But you’re just assuming that “someone” had to exist.  You’re just positing an intelligent, all-powerful being for which there is absolutely zero evidence and apparently, at least according to your mythology, has always existed and violates every single known physical law, made everything because it wanted to.  Are you mental?

7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?

Not necessarily.  In our universe, causality is part of the physical laws.  That may not be the case in other universe, where  infinite regress may be entirely possible.  So the best we can say is we just don’t know at the moment.  That doesn’t give you a license to just make stuff up because you’re personally uncomfortable or unhappy that you don’t know.

8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)

It doesn’t take an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, all an encyclopedia is, or any other non-fiction book really, is a record of things that exist in reality.  If intelligent life had never evolved in this universe, reality would still exist and operate the same way it does not.  There just wouldn’t be books describing it for other intelligent beings.  Information doesn’t require intelligence to exist.  Information is everywhere.  It is a false claim, unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, that just because something looks complicated, it needs to have some kind of intelligent design behind it.  Wishful thinking is just wishful thinking.

9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?

Actually, that’s just nonsense.  If you’ve ever heard of the butterfly effect, the idea that a butterfly can flap its wings in Beijing and there’s a storm in New York instead of sunshine, that’s an example of how ludicrous this idea actually is.  There are lots of very small causes that result in very large effects.

10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?

Because we have decided, for ourselves, that some action is wrong.  There is moral law, we made it up.

11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?

Sure, and it’s us.  We are the moral lawgiver.  You’re welcome.

12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?

Nope.  Enough with the ridiculous wishful thinking.

13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?

Nope.  This here is a natural lava ball.  They exist by the millions.  They are generated within volcanoes, typically of obsidian glass and if launched into the air and it lands in water, they can spontaneously form these black glass balls.  No designer required.

14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?

That does not necessarily follow.  If we grant that there is a cause beyond the universe, and keep in mind that doesn’t mean said cause is intelligent or all-powerful or whatever, that doesn’t mean that said cause doesn’t, in turn, have another cause before it that had nothing to do with our universe at all.  Therefore, there’s no reason whatsoever to think that whatever sparked off the Big Bang is a god.  There is no reason to think it’s intelligent.  There’s no reason to think it still exists.  You are simply making up attributes to this unknown thing because it makes you feel good to do so.  That is not a rational way to operate.

15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?

The anthropic principle is idiotic.  Clearly, the universe was not fine-tuned for life because, so far as we have any actual evidence, there is no other life in the universe besides us.  That means billions of galaxies and hundreds of trillions of planets are lifeless, all but one little blue planet in the middle of an unremarkable galaxy in the middle of nowhere.  How is that fine-tuned for life?  Even our own planet isn’t fine-tuned for life.  Without modern technology, much of our planet is impossible for humanity to exist in.  In fact, if you want to argue that Earth is fine-tuned for life, it certainly isn’t our life, it’s bacterial and unicellular life. If that’s what  you want to accept, fine by me.  Go pray to the bacterial god.

And now for the agnostic questions.  This is, of course, another example of not having the slightest idea what agnosticism actually is.

1. Of the two possible kinds of agnostic, which kind are you: 1) Strong agnostic who says we can’t know anything for sure? or 2) Weak agnostic who says we don’t know anything for sure (but we could if we had enough evidence)?

Absolute certainty is an unreasonable standard.  We don’t know that we exist for sure and no matter how much evidence we ever had, I doubt we could ever be absolutely certain of it.  But since nobody in their right mind asks for absolute certainty, it doesn’t matter.  We only need reasonable certainty.  We need a solid case, made with objective evidence, for the existence of things that can be demonstrated to be most likely true.  Sure, it could all be a fantasy, but we have to assume, at a certain point, that the things around us are real and can be examined, otherwise what’s the point?  That said, I’d be happy to look at any actual, objective evidence that you might have for the factual existence of your god.  Of course, you have nothing, so that’s really not saying much.

2. If you are the strong kind, then how do you know for sure that you can’t know anything for sure?

Well, I’m not, I already addressed this above.

3. If you are the weak kind of agnostic, then is it not possible that we could know for sure that God exists (if we had enough evidence)?

We could.  We just don’t.  You have no evidence at all.  You have nothing.  Until you do have something, why should I, or any other rational person, take your unsupported claims seriously?  Come back when you have something to objectively examine, then I’ll re-evaluate your claims and not until.

4. Do you agree that an open-minded person should be willing to look at all the evidence? If so, then are you willing to look at the evidence for God’s existence?

You keep asking if people would look at the evidence when you don’t actually have any.  I can’t look at something that doesn’t exist.  If Christians or other theists actually had any objective, demonstrable evidence to present, the debate would be over. Show us God and we’ll believe God exists.  If you can’t do that, and we all know that you can’t, then why are you trying to pretend that atheists and/or agnostics are refusing to look at your evidence?  Dishonest much?

Seriously, these questions and those similar are painful to answer because it’s blatantly obvious that I’m addressing an ignorant, uneducated individual.  If they had any actual knowledge on the subject, they’d never waste everyone’s time asking what are essentially stupid questions about things they ought to know better.  They clearly didn’t do any research, they didn’t talk to any relevant experts, they looked up from their Bible for a moment and spewed all of the apologstic nonsense that they’ve managed to gather without ever wondering if any of it is actually so.  And then they post it on the Internet where they just look like idiots to those who actually have a clue.

Welcome to modern apologetics.  It’s sad, isn’t it?

Google+ Apologetics Part 2

To be honest, I often find Google+ to be a waste of time because there aren’t very many good discussions. Occasionally though, something worthwhile pops up and I have to respond, but as I’ve said before, it isn’t easy to get into much depth and detail because of the format.  Often, when that happens, I bring the claims here to dissect, but, of course, that means that whoever originated the argument and those who might otherwise want to take part, they are often excluded because they don’t want to leave Google+ and travel elsewhere.

Ah well.  Here goes part 2 of my response to 10 arguments against Christianity that this apologist thinks aren’t true, but actually are completely accurate.  I posted the first part a couple of days ago, you can find it here.

6. Christian’s only believe in Christianity because they were born in a Christian culture. If they’d been born in India they would have been Hindu instead.

This argument is appealing because it pretends to wholly dismiss people’s reasoning capabilities based on their environmental influences in childhood. The idea is that people in general are so intellectually near-sighted that they can’t see past their own upbringing, which, it would follow, would be an equally condemning commentary on atheism. But, this is a spurious claim.

Take the history of the Jewish people for example. Let us say that to ‘be’ Jewish, in the religious sense, is much more than a matter of cultural adherence. To be a Jewish believer is to have Judaism permeate one’s thinking and believing and interaction with the world. But is this the state of affairs with the majority of the Jewish people, whether in America, Europe, Israel, or wherever? One would have to be seriously out of touch to believe so. The same phenomenon is found within so-called Christian communities. Indeed, being born in a Jewish or Christian centric home today is more often a precursor that the child will grow up to abandon the faith of his or her family.

This is actually extremely true.  People are much more likely to adopt the local religious customs than they are to adopt beliefs that are foreign to their cultures.  This is especially the case because the majority of religious believers are indoctrinated into their faith by their parents, just as their parents were almost certainly indoctrinated into their beliefs as children.  Certainly, someone can change religious beliefs as life goes on and would therefore pass along their new religious beliefs to their offspring, but religious beliefs, especially strong religious beliefs, tend to cluster for a reason.

And of course, the stronger those religious beliefs are in your culture, the more likely you are to remain that religion because questioning the dominant religion is less likely to be tolerated.  You don’t find a lot of open Christians living in strongly Muslim cultures.  I’m not saying it never happens, but the majority will remain Muslim because non-Muslims tend to be ostracized and even killed for their disbelief.  Often, as our apologist notes, being born into a religious home is a good sign that children will abandon the religion.  This is because there is no need for religion and as children are educated to see reality as it actually is, not as the religious wish it was, they wander away from the beliefs that their parents might hold.  This is why a lot of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians are so dead set against a secular education.  They know the facts will only destroy faith.

7. The gospel doesn’t make sense: God was mad at mankind because of sin so he decided to torture and kill his own Son so that he could appease his own pathological anger. God is the weirdo, not me.

This is actually a really good argument against certain Protestant sects (I’ve used it myself on numerous occasions), but it has no traction with the Orthodox Christian faith. The Orthodox have no concept of a God who needed appeasement in order to love His creation. The Father sacrificed His own Son in order to destroy death with His life; not to assuage His wrath, but to heal; not to protect mankind from His fury, but to unite mankind to His love. If the reader is interested to hear more on this topic follow this link for a fuller discussion.

But that doesn’t make any sense.  If you have a supposedly all-loving, all-powerful, all-good deity, he doesn’t need to destroy death, he can just make it vanish.  There is no sacrifice needed.  In fact, since he supposedly knows all, why did he create death in the first place?  Why does the Bible depict God as throwing temper tantrums?  The very existence of wrath in a supposedly omnibenevolent deity makes no sense at all.  It is an oxymoron.  Besides, you’re still just making assertions about the character of God that you cannot possibly know.  There is no way at all that you can know what God is actually like, what God thinks, what God wants, etc.

8. History is full of mother-child messiah cults, trinity godheads, and the like. Thus the Christian story is a myth like the rest.

This argument seems insurmountable on the surface, but is really a slow-pitch across the plate (if you don’t mind a baseball analogy). There is no arguing the fact that history is full of similar stories found in the Bible, and I won’t take the time to recount them here. But this fact should not be surprising in the least, indeed if history had no similar stories it would be reason for concern. Anything beautiful always has replicas. A counterfeit coin does not prove the non-existence of the authentic coin, it proves the exact opposite. A thousand U2 cover bands is not evidence that U2 is a myth.

Ah, but that doesn’t address the fact that some of these stories were told before the Biblical accounts. True. But imagine if the only story of a messianic virgin birth, death, and resurrection were contained in the New Testament. That, to me, would be odd. It would be odd because if all people everywhere had God as their Creator, yet the central event of human history—the game changing event of all the ages—the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ had never occurred to them, in at least some hazy form, they would have been completely cut off from the prime mysteries of human existence. It seems only natural that if the advent of Christ was real it would permeate through the consciousness of mankind on some level regardless of their place in history. One should expect to find mankind replicating these stories, found in their own visions and dreams, again and again throughout history. And indeed, that is what we find.

The fact remains that there simply isn’t any good evidence that these stories are actually true.  You can argue all you want that you want it to be true, that doesn’t mean that it is objectively or demonstrably true and that’s really what’s important.  In fact, having all of these elements pre-existing the Christian myth are a pretty good reason to doubt that this story is just a reimagining of pre-existing mythic elements.  We see that happen throughout history, that stories get broken apart, mixed around and recombined into a new story.  Just because you are emotionally invested in this particular story doesn’t excuse you from following reality.

But it really makes no sense to say that the advent of Christ would ripple through history, it is literally impossible for someone born today to affect people who lived hundreds of years ago, which is essentially what’s being claimed.  These stories came up hundreds, sometimes thousands of years before Jesus supposedly lived.  They were widespread and were well known in Israel before the supposed birth of Christ.  Is it more rational to think that Jesus just so happened to fit into the exact same mold that everyone already believed, or that Jesus, if he existed at all, was mythologized with these pre-existing stories as tales of his teachings were passed down via word of mouth?  Theists simply are not thinking rationally here.

9. The God of the Bible is evil. A God who allows so much suffering and death can be nothing but evil.

This criticism is voice in many different ways. For me, this is one of the most legitimate arguments against the existence of a good God. The fact that there is suffering and death is the strongest argument against the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God. If suffering and death exist it seems to suggest one of two things: (1) either God is love, but He is not all-powerful and cannot stop suffering and death, or (2) God is all-powerful, but He does not care for us.

I devoted a separate article addressing this problem, but let me deal here with the problem inherent in the criticism itself. The argument takes as its presupposition that good and evil are real; that there is an ultimate standard of good and evil that supersedes mere fanciful ‘ideas’ about what is good and evil at a given time in our ethical evolution, as it were. If there is not a real existence—an ontological reality—of good and evil, then the charge that God is evil because of this or that is really to say nothing more than, “I personally don’t like what I see in the world and therefore a good God cannot exist.” I like what C.S. Lewis said on a similar matter: “There is no sense in talking of ‘becoming better’ if better means simply ‘what we are becoming’—it is like congratulating yourself on reaching your destination and defining destination as ‘the place you have reached.’”

What is tricky for the atheist in these sorts of debates is to steer clear of words loaded with religious overtones. It’s weird for someone who does not believe in ultimate good and evil to condemn God as evil because He did not achieve their personal vision of good. So, the initial criticism is sound, but it is subversive to the atheist’s staging ground. If one is going to accept good and evil as realities, he is not in a position to fully reject God. Instead, he is more in a position to wrestle with the idea that God is good. This struggle is applauded in the Orthodox Church. After all, the very word God used for his people in the Old Testament—“Israel”—means to struggle with God.

I will admit that God’s character has nothing to do with God’s existence.  God could be the biggest, most evil dick in existence, that has no bearing on whether or not God is actually real.  It would have everything to do with whether God is worthy of worship, but existence has nothing to do with character.  Hitler was a sadistic bastard but he was certainly real.  But the problem of evil has nothing to do with God’s existence and everything to do with God’s claimed characteristics.  You simply cannot have an omnibenevolent and omnipotent deity and have evil in the world.  You can’t.  It is logically inconsistent.  It is an oxymoron.  If God is capable of creating anything that can be evil, then God cannot be without evil.  The Bible even says that God creates evil, thus invalidating the characteristics that Christians want to believe in.  So regardless of whether or not God exists, and he is logically inconsistent based on the claimed characteristics that Christians assign, he certainly is not worthy of anyone’s worship.  He is a monster, a sick, sadistic bastard that ought to be reviled, not revered.

10. Evolution has answered the question of where we came from. There is no need for ignorant ancient myths anymore.

This might be the most popular attempted smack-downs of religion in general today. It is found in many variations but the concept is fairly consistent and goes something like this: Science has brought us to a point where we no longer need mythology to understand the world, and any questions which remain will eventually be answered through future scientific breakthroughs. The main battle-ground where this criticism is seen today is in evolution vs. creationism debates.

Let me say upfront that there is perhaps no other subject that bores me more than evolution vs. creationism debates. I would rather watch paint dry. And when I’m not falling asleep through such debates I’m frustrated because usually both sides of the debate use large amounts of dishonesty in order to gain points rather than to gain the truth. The evolutionist has no commentary whatsoever on the existence of God, and the creationist usually suffers from profound confusion in their understanding of the first few chapters of Genesis.

So, without entering into the most pathetic debate of the ages, bereft of all intellectual profundity, I’ll only comment on the underlining idea that science has put Christianity out of the answer business. Science is fantastic if you want to know what gauge wire is compatible with a 20 amp electric charge, how agriculture works, what causes disease and how to cure it, and a million other things. But where the physical sciences are completely lacking is in those issues most important to human beings—the truly existential issues: what does it mean to be human, why are we here, what is valuable, what does it mean to love, to hate, what am I to do with guilt, grief, sorrow, what does it mean to succeed, is there any meaning and what does ‘meaning’ mean, and, of course, is there a God? etc, ad infinitum.

As far as where we come from, evolution has barely scratched the purely scientific surface of the matter. Even if the whole project of evolution as an account of our history was without serious objection, it would still not answer the problem of the origin of life, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available when considering how dead or inorganic matter becomes organic. Even more complicated is the matter of where matter came from. The ‘Big Bang’ is not an answer to origins but rather a description of the event by which everything came into being; i.e., it’s the description of a smoking gun, not the shooter.

To a certain degree, our apologist here is right.  While we no longer need mythology to explain the basic facts about the world around us, a lot of believers don’t believe because they need reality explained, they believe because they want comfort and coddling that a belief in a magical man in the sky provides.  Evolution isn’t a magic bullet that kills religion dead, most religions have no problem with evolution and the other natural sciences because their faith isn’t based on the real world, but on emotion.

That said though, there are plenty of Christians out there, particularly the evangelical and fundamentalist varieties, who fight tooth and nail against any modern scientific theory that seems to disagree with their theology. Their attacks on evolution are blind and mindless, they don’t really understand what they’re attacking because they really don’t care about reality, they only want to protect their own interpretation of theology.  This needs to be strongly opposed because these people want to teach children mythology as though it was reality, which demonstrably it is not.  If you can manage to work your theology around reality, that’s fine.  If you have to try to tear down demonstrable reality to fit around your theology, hell no.

But the argument here that we just don’t know everything, therefore you can still stuff God into the gaps is a bit ridiculous as well.  Every single gap we look into scientifically, we don’t find gods.  Theists are running out of gaps to hide their gods in and over the years, theists have simply redefined their gods to be fundamentally undetectable as a means of keeping them away from science’s prying eyes.  We still have no rational reason to think that gods are real.  It’s a wholly emotional question for which no objective evidence exists, yet you have apologists, like this one, trying to explain their way around the complete and total lack of evidence that has presented itself for the existence of their gods.  They say that someday, maybe, we will find evidence that gods exist.  Great, then someday, maybe, it might be rational to believe in them.  We don’t make decisions based on what we might find someday, we make decisions based on what evidence we have at hand right now.  And right now, there simply isn’t any evidence for gods.  We keep coming back to the undeniable fact that people believe in gods because it provides them emotional comfort, not because we have any good reason to think gods actually exist in the real world.  So long as that is the case, so long as we have no objectively verifiable evidence for any gods, anywhere, it is still foolish and irrational to believe. I don’t care how much you wave your hands or make unjustified pronouncements, you believe for really illogical reasons. You might not care but in the scheme of things, it matters and you’re just not going to impress anyone who actually cares about what is real.  Believers do not.  That’s a problem.

So what do you think?  Let me know in the comments if you think any of these explanations make any sense, or if it is just more desperate theological wishful thinking.  I find people with “answers” to atheist objections all the time and they never rise above the level of “maybe, could be” hypothesizing in order to rescue their unsupported beliefs from the jaws of objective reality.  They always fail, but when you point out that they fail, they have their fingers in their ears, their eyes clenched tightly shut, yelling “I can’t hear you!”  They can’t rationally respond to the objections because, as I keep saying, they don’t care about reality, they care about emotional comfort.  Sorry, nobody is impressed by that.

Google+ Apologetics Part 1

Every now and then, someone posts a long screed on one of the Google+ Atheism Communities I’m a member of.  Usually, they’re nothing worth paying attention to but this time, I think this list of ten complaints about religious/irreligious debate is something I’d like to respond to.  It was written by someone named Johnathan Peter Lauridsen and while this isn’t especially impressive, it does deserve a response.  Because I’m actually presenting the bulk of his claims, I am going to split this into two posts, lest it become absurdly long, or more absurdly long than it already will be.  Therefore, look for the first part today and the second in a couple of days.

So let’s get started.

1. There is no evidence for God’s existence.

There are a couple of problems with this line. Starting with the idea of ‘evidence,’ what exactly does one mean by evidence? What is sufficient evidence for one person is often not sufficient evidence for another. A court of law provides innumerable examples of how two parties can possess the same collection of data, the same power of logic and reasoning, yet argue for completely different interpretations of the data. The old saying is true: the facts do not determine the argument, the argument determines the facts.

When confronted with the charge that there is no evidence for God the Christian often does not know where to start with a rebuttal. It’s as G.K. Chesterton once said, asking a Christian to prove God’s existence is like asking someone to prove the existence of civilization. What is one to do but point and say, “look, there’s a chair, and there’s a building,” etc. How can one prove civilization by merely selecting a piece here and a piece there as sufficient proofs rather than having an experience of civilization as a whole?

Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence because he sees the ‘handiwork’ of God all around him in creation. But this is hardly sufficient evidence in the court of atheist opinion, a court which presupposes that only what can be apprehended by the senses rightly qualifies as evidence. For the Christian who believes in a transcendent God, he can offer no such evidence; to produce material evidence for God is, ironically, to disprove a transcendent God and cast out faith.

The second part of the line is equally short-sighted. What does one mean by ‘existence’? If one means, ‘that which has come into existence,’ then surely God does not exist because God never came into existence. He always was; He is eternal. This was a famous assessment of the matter by Soren Kierkegaard (dealing with the incarnation of Christ). The argument is a bit involved, so for times sakes I’ll just have to state it and leave it there.

This is a misunderstanding of what “evidence” is.  It’s why I always specify “objective evidence”, that is, evidence which can be freely examined and evaluated without having to hold any belief in it or faith in the meaning thereof.  It is, in fact, very easy to prove the existence of civilization, not just through its products but through a clear and demonstrable presentation of the evidence of society.  You can show a direct and demonstrable causal link between a group of people living together in relative peace and harmony, and the products that they produce, both physical and ideological.  You can point to real people producing real things, without any question as to who is actually doing it.  You cannot do that with gods.  You cannot produce any evidence to support a real, demonstrable god that exists in factual reality and anything that god supposedly does.   One proposition is supported by the existence of objective evidence, the other is not.  One is credible, the other is not.  Chesterton is simply wrong.  Now this theist fails because they cannot separate what they claim is proof of gods with what is demonstrably proof of gods.  Nobody is really interested in what they claim, we’re only interested in what they can prove.  I’m not impressed with Kierkegaard either in this case because eternal existence is, once again, a wholly manufactured characteristic of God that cannot be demonstrated to be actually so.  This line of reasoning will not impress anyone who lacks the blind faith necessary to be a theist.

2. If God created the universe, who created God?

This is one of the more peculiar arguments I’ve ever come across. Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as ‘eternal.’ Its like asking what blue smells like…In the same way blue does not have a smell God does not have a beginning.It is an argument usually levied once a theist posits that a ‘first cause’ or an ‘unmoved mover’ is required for the existence of the universe (a ‘necessary’ Being upon which all other things exist by way of contingency). Some atheists then shift the weight over to the theist saying, “Well then who created God?” What is a Christian to do but smile at such a question? God is the antecedent of all things in creation and is eternal. If God had a Creator then His Creator would be God. God is God precisely because He does not have a creator.

The actual argument presented by theists is that because there cannot be infinite regression, there had to be something that was a “first cause” and they arbitrarily define that as their god.  Of course, it is all arbitrary, even if there does have to be a first cause, that doesn’t mean that first cause is any god, much less their particular one.  Again, this is just an unjustified claim, based on nothing but faith, they have no way of demonstrating that their particular god even exists, much less has any of the characteristics they arbitrarily assign to it.  The idea of a first cause is borne, not of evidence and reason, but of faith and wishful thinking.  It makes assumptions about the world that simply cannot be rationally justified.  This is even more true in the modern world where multiple universes seem more and more likely and once that becomes true, all of the previous assumptions that theists base this argument on disappear in a puff of logic.  Causality may not be applicable outside of our particular universe.  We just don’t know and because we don’t know, we cannot make any arguments based upon something that very well might not be true.

3. God is not all-powerful if there is something He cannot do. God cannot lie, therefore God is not all-powerful.

Bang! Owned.

Not so fast. This argument would be fantastic—devastating maybe—if God was more of the ancient Greek god persuasion, where the gods themselves were subject to fate and limited to their specific roles in the cosmos. The Orthodox doctrine of God is much different. Christians (at least Orthodox Christians) view God’s ontology as subject to His perfect free-will. Why is He good? Because He wills to be good. Why does He not lie? Because He wills to be honest. Why does God exist as Trinity? Because He wills it. He could just as easily will to not exist. And yes, He could just as easily will to lie. The fact that He doesn’t is no commentary on whether He could.

(Note: Due to the immense amount of discussion that this point has raised, one clarifying statement is worth noting. An argument based on strict logical word games can render the idea ‘all-powerful,’ or ‘omnipotent’ self-defeating. When one considers the juvenile question, “Can God create a rock so big that He can’t lift it?” this point becomes clear. But in reality, such an argument winds up further solidifying what Christianity means by calling God all-powerful. For the Christian it simply means that all power and authority are God’s. Following the logical word game above forces the believer to make a redundant proclamation in order to remain consistent: “God cannot overpower Himself.” But this fact is anything but confounding, it merely stresses the point that there is no power greater than God, so much so that one is forced to pit God against Himself in order to find His equal.)

I’ve yet to see that particular formulation but I understand the sentiment.  Again though, we can see that our apologist is simply assigning characteristics to God that they simply have no way of determining if they are accurate or not.  Absolutely no characteristics that are typically understood as applying to the Christian God can actually be demonstrated because no one has ever actually proven the Christian God is real.  Without direct observation, you cannot show that these claimed characteristics actually apply.  Faith is not a substitute for fact.

About the only place I might agree are arguments which require God to be logically inconsistent or contradictory.  The “rock so big” claims, etc. fall into this category.  However, truth be told, if God is all-powerful and able to perform miracles, which are defined as supernatural violations of the laws of nature, then certainly he could do that because he could simply suspend logic entirely.  You guys are the ones who choose to define your god this way, you need to be able to deal with it when said definition causes problems.

4. Believing in God is the same as believing in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

What I love about this well-worn atheist ‘argument’ is that it actually serves to demonstrate how vastly different a belief in God is to these myths and imaginations. When one honestly assesses the Judeo-Christian doctrine of God he will find multiple thousands of years of human testimony and religious development; he will find martyrs enduring the most horrific trauma in defense of the faith; he will find accounts in religious texts with historical and geographical corroboration; etc (these fact are of course not ‘proofs,’ but rather ‘evidences’ that elicit strong consideration). Pit this against tales of the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and Spaghetti Monsters and one finds the exact opposite: no testimony or religious refinement, no martyrs, no historical and geographical corroboration, etc. Instead, one finds myths created intentionally for children, for point making, or for whatever. It’s strawman argumentation at its worst.

Essentially it is.  Oh sure, the details are different, but people believe things because they are indoctrinated to believe, not because they have evidence that what they believe is actually true in demonstrable reality.  Granted, most kids outgrow these childish beliefs before they reach adulthood, unlike the religious who desperately cling to these unjustified and undemonstrated beliefs, often throughout their lives.  That religion is a particularly pernicious mental virus is nothing to be proud of.  Whether or not belief in gods has a longer history than belief in the Tooth Fairy says nothing about whether or not those beliefs are factually true.  People have believed the earth is flat for longer than they’ve believed in the Christian God, that doesn’t stop flat earthism from being a completely false belief.  Also, the fact that people are willing to die for false beliefs doesn’t make them any more  true.  A belief is true or false based on its claims, not its believers.  The existence of God has not been demonstrated to be factually true.  It doesn’t matter if every Christian on the planet is willing to die for the belief or not.

5. Christianity arose from an ancient and ignorant people who didn’t have science.

Indeed, those ancient, ignorant people who believed in the virgin birth of Christ must have believed it because they did not possess the knowledge of how babies were born. Goodness. The virgin birth of Christ was profound and of paramount concern to the ancients precisely because they understood that conception was impossible without intercourse. Ancient man considered the virgin birth miraculous, i.e., impossible without divine action (and at the time most people scorned the idea), and the same could be said with every miraculous story in Scripture.

Indeed ancient people did not have the Hubble telescope, but they were able to see the night sky in full array, something almost no modern person can claim (thanks to modern lighting which distorts our ability to see the full night sky). On average, ancient people lived much closer to nature and to the realities of life and death than many of us moderners.

In terms of a living relationship with these things the ancients were far more advanced than we are today, and this relationship is essentially the nature of religious inquiry. If people lack religious speculation today, maybe it is because they spend more time with their iphones and Macs then with nature. Maybe.

But the claim that Christianity was viable in the ancient world because it was endorsed by wide spread ignorance is a profoundly ignorant idea. Christianity arose in one of the most highly advanced civilizations in human history. The Roman Empire was not known for its stupidity. It was the epicenter of innovation and philosophical giants. I would wager that if a common person of today found himself in a philosophical debate with a common person of first century Alexandria, the moderner would be utterly humiliated in the exchange.

Factually, not just Christianity but all ancient religions did exactly this.  I don’t know how anyone can disagree.  They arose from ancient peoples who had no clue about modern science or the modern scientific method.  That doesn’t mean they were completely ignorant of everything, but knowing where babies come from and knowing the details of human embryology are two entirely different things.  Ancient peoples made observations about the world around them, but because they had no way of knowing what actually caused things to work, they invented stories.  This is why there are so many god stories from around the world.  It isn’t evidence that gods really exist, after all, different cultures didn’t all come up with the Christian God, they came up with their own gods with their own mythologies to explain similar observations that people made.  Multiple gods were the norm, in fact, a single god was a latecomer to the theistic scene.  Even the early Hebrews were polytheistic and elements like the trinity are direct callbacks to the polytheistic roots of Judeo-Christianity.  The idea that just because ancient man were not complete savages, that they can be directly and favorably compared to modern scientifically-literate man is ludicrous on its face.

Just because ancient man could gaze at the sky doesn’t mean they understood what they were looking at.  Ancient Hebrews, after all, believed in a flat earth, with the stars being suspended on a semi-spherical dome, above which existed the heavens.  All of these concepts are completely false, the earth is not flat, it is not suspended on rocky pillars, the sky is not a dome and there are no heavens up there that we can see.  The fact that modern religions have completely abandoned these ancient beliefs is evidence that even the religious know better today.  The idea that God breathes life into babies is as absurd to most people today as the idea of souls will become in the future.  These are simply indefensible in light of a modern scientific understanding of the world.

Rome might have been relatively advanced for its day, but compared to the modern day, Rome is incredibly primitive.  It made some developments, but none that remotely compare to what we can do today, and none that have not been repeatedly improved upon in the many centuries between that day and this.  The idea that somehow, ancient man knew more than modern man is absurd on its face.  They were wrong on almost everything and even where they were on the right track, their knowledge was woefully incomplete.  They might not have been complete savages but they certainly were not as knowledgeable about the world around them as we are today.  That’s why we’re seeing right through claims of the supernatural today.  It’s why more and more people are leaving the idea of religion behind.  It just doesn’t make sense anymore.  It isn’t necessary anymore.  We have actual answers instead of invented platitudes.  Religion is a dinosaur that deserves to go extinct.

More to come soon…

Philosophy Isn’t Reality

To be honest, I’ve been struggling recently to find a lot of religious topics to talk about.  It’s weird, over on my YouTube channel, there is plenty to cover religiously but I can’t find anything political, but here the opposite is true.  I talk about political subjects non-stop and outside of Horror Show Sunday, I have to fight to find anything religious to say.

But I’ve been involved in a discussion on atheism, with the tired old canard about atheism being faith that gods don’t exist, instead of the lack of belief in gods, being tossed around by the religious.  No matter what anyone says, they will never acknowledge that you can be an atheist and not have a strong, blind faith in the factual non-existence of gods.  I think it’s because they’re fighting against the word, not against the concept.  They hate the term.  If you call yourself an agnostic, they don’t care.  Heck, you can call yourself a tuna fish sandwich and they’ll be fine with it.  You’d just better not use the word “atheist” or they freak out.

So as the discussion has gone on, we’ve started to talk about why people are religious in the first place and we started discussing that people are afraid of things they don’t understand and therefore, simply make things up, or adopt ideas others have made up, to explain the things they can’t comprehend.  That’s the basis for religion.  I had a theist come back and attack me, with the following:

By the same token, atheists make up their own solutions to make themselves feel better when the say there are no gods…then run away from the origin of the universe discussion. I guess the origin of the universe isn’t an important enough philosophical discussion?

But that doesn’t describe any atheist I have ever seen.  Atheists don’t make up anything.  They wait until the objective evidence points to a credible solution.  If it doesn’t, they don’t simply invent an emotionally comforting belief system, they say “we don’t know”.  Apparently, admitting our current ignorance is the same as running away.  It is a fact that while we have a lot of good ideas on the origin of the universe, with a lot of solid mathematical support for those ideas, we just don’t know for sure.  We’ve hit a point in our current knowledge and current understanding of science beyond which we have not been able to travel. This is likely a temporary thing, but it doesn’t mean that there’s some imaginary god-figure in the sky, it means we just don’t have the kind of answers that theists seem to want.

Far too many theists want to go dancing down the philosophical primrose path on purely scientific matters, as though noodling their navels can somehow solve our lack of evidentiary answers.  It doesn’t.  Philosophy is not reality.  It does not give us the same kind of answers, in fact, I’d argue that in most cases, it doesn’t give us any credible answers at all.  It’s a way of thinking about things, not about discovering the factual truth about things.  You cannot get to real-world answers through philosophy. You cannot solve world hunger with philosophy.  You cannot heal someone with philosophy.  You cannot explore the stars with philosophy.  You can’t achieve any demonstrable, factual results with philosophy.  That’s not what philosophy is.  But when it comes to religion, that’s usually all they have in their tool bag.  They have no objective evidence.  They have no science.  The have no demonstrable facts.  All they have is hand-waving philosophical bullshit and they think that because that’s what they have to rely on, that everyone else ought to value that approach as well.

Well we don’t.  And we shouldn’t.  Because that kind of philosophical nonsense is all you have left when all of the credible methods fail.  Sure, philosophy has its uses, but scientific endeavors in the real world isn’t one of them.  It’s trying to hit a nail with a feather.  You’re going to get nowhere real fast.  And that’s exactly what I told this guy, we’ll have to see how he responds, or if he does, as I suspect, just throw around a bunch of insults and run away, doubling down on his own stupidity as usual. It’s the religious way, I guess.  That’s why I have no respect for them whatsoever, they haven’t earned it.

Should Atheists Celebrate Christmas?

This seems to be a perennial question that I honestly don’t get.  There are some atheists out there who are convinced that no atheist ought to be celebrating Christmas.  Why the heck not?  Christmas hasn’t been a religious holiday for a very long time. It is entirely secular.  Christmas trees, Santa Claus, mistletoe, presents and hanging out with family and friends, none of that is religious in the slightest.  In fact, even among the religious who might add a couple of religious elements to their celebration, the overwhelming majority are doing it much more for secular reasons than for religious.

So what motivates these people to demand that people shouldn’t celebrate?  I suspect that some of it has to do with a general distaste of all things even quasi-religious or having been tainted by the stink of religion, but that’s really a ridiculous reason. Lots of things in modern society have their origins in religion.  You can’t just stop living in the modern world because once upon a time, it had religious connotations.  And, well, there are some people who are just dicks, who don’t like seeing people having a good time so they make excuses for why nobody should.  These are often the same people who make the same arguments about all manner of other holidays, like Easter and the 4th of July.  Professional killjoys do not impress, sorry. But beyond being jerks or not having the slightest clue what Christmas has become, what other excuses could they have?

I say go for it.  There is nothing at all religious about Christmas.  It’s a time to have fun, to be with family and friends and to exchange presents.  That’s it.  It really doesn’t matter what anyone else does on that day, make the celebration your own and enjoy it.  Aren’t atheists supposed to be freethinkers?  Why would you allow anyone to ruin your fun?  I know I certainly won’t.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.30

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Sometimes It’s Personal

Marco Rubio thinks God is more important than the job he wants, Saudi Arabia desecrates corpses, a girl joins ISIS and dies and the Planned Parenthood shooting and Christian hypocrisy. Then we talk about Turkey and Russia and why religion ruins everything.  Now get over there and listen already!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.29

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Se Juis Paris

A long show this week, we look at intolerant Christians in Texas, 1500 Mormons walking away from their church, a Utah judge tries to deny a lesbian couple their foster child and college safe spaces and why they’re a bad idea.  Then we talk about the terrorist attacks in Paris and whether the world is really ready to deal with ISIS.  It’s a belated episode, get over there and listen!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.28

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276Just a bunch of craziness, conspiracy theorists galore, speaking in tongues, Ben Carson making a little sense, Satanic rituals at Planned Parenthood, losing your religion on the football field and creationists running education in Maine.

This week, I’m trying minimal editing, this is what the podcast really sounds like when we record, please let us know what you think!

Go here to listen now!

A Necessarily Limited Audience

I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I was recently speaking with a friend who wanted to know why I didn’t have a massive following, either here, with my podcast, or with my new YouTube channel.  Certainly, all of them have a decent following, get a decent number of hits and are all growing over time, but none of them are remotely close to superstar ratings.

Well, the answer is simple, I actually hold what many consider to be contradictory positions that I insist on talking about all the time.  They’re not actually contradictory, they are just uncommon to put together and since I don’t focus entirely on one subject or another, but cover a wide spectrum, I end up appealing only to a very small audience who, like me, holds these so-called contradictory views.

I can’t remember where I saw it, but I once saw a statistic that said that 20% of atheists were also conservatives.  I have no idea how accurate that is, it seems a bit high to me, but if we take it with a grain of salt, that means that the majority of atheists out there will not want to pay any attention to me because I oppose their political views.  I really detest not only many things that liberals, and especially progressives, want, but the justification behind their desires, which I find overly emotional and almost entirely without rational cause.  So I speak out against liberalism all the time, but as I’m an equal opportunity offender, I’m more than happy to go after the far-right religious pseudo-conservative in the Republican party who absolutely does not represent my secular conservative views.  So I tend to piss off people in the GOP, even though they aren’t likely to be non-religious to begin with.

So where are these people?  A lot of them abandoned the Republicans and joined the Libertarians and I really don’t like libertarians either.  Well, I don’t like some libertarians because the Libertarian Party tends to be a very diverse and chaotic group.  You have the people who just want to be left alone to do drugs, who don’t want to pay taxes, etc.  You have the people who are really only there because they’re sick of the Republicans, and I share a lot of commonality with this group.  Then you have the real crazies who have a quasi-religious belief in imaginary rights and magical laws that apply to everyone whether they want them to or not, but which nobody can actually prove exist.  Those are the people I tend to go after, they are the most vocal and most crazy, but because it isn’t really possible to differentiate between a large number of groups all using the same label every time you open your mouth, I tend to offend libertarians too.  Of course, I always specify that if something I say doesn’t apply to you, don’t take it personally, but they always seem to.

So let’s see, I’ve pissed off the liberals, I’ve pissed off the religious conservatives, I’ve pissed off the libertarians, who else? Well the non-rational, of course!  While most of these people, the liberals, the religious conservatives and the libertarians, fit into that mold, I find an unfortunate number of self-professed atheists who are also non-rational, either with regard to their atheism or with regard to other beliefs they hold.  Out of everything I oppose, being irrational is probably the highest on my list because all else springs from it.  I cannot stand people who do not think rationally, who cannot examine a proposition to see if it is supported logically, who do not expect evidence before they accept something as factually true, etc.  I was reminded recently that the majority of “serious” flat-earthers are also atheists, which I find sad.

I guess I can never expect a large audience because all of the things I talk about seem contradictory to many people. How can I be politically conservative and irreligious at the same time?  How can I oppose irrationality and libertarianism at the same time?  But I do and I’m going to talk about all of it and those who want to listen will, those who do not, will not.  I’m fine with it. I’ve been doing this for 11 years now, at least on the blogging side, much, much longer than that when you count all of my time online.  I’d rather reach the right people because the people who are not right aren’t going to listen to reason anyhow, be they religious, political or social, they’re all set in their ways of irrationality and beyond the pale of reason.  I write what I write, I think what I think and I get to all of it through reason and rationality.  If you don’t, if you use emotion and wishful thinking, then clearly, we’re not only not on the same boat, we’re not even in the same ocean.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.27

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The More Things Change…

A priest defends pedophila on TV and pisses off the Vatican, Obama “verbally rapes” a woman by telling the truth, an 8th grade boy is suspended for supporting the military, 15 racist asshats carrying Confederate Flags invade a boy’s birthday party, plus we talk about the speed society has changed, thanks to the Internet, and if we should expect things to keep moving that fast.  Click here to listen now!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.26

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Too Crazy For The Crazies!

We finally get it right, talking about crazy fundamentalist Christian Theodore Shoebat, no more chemotherapy for an Amish girl, anti-Muslim rallies are making Muslims nervous, a woman finds a slave figure in her son’s birthday present and freaks, plus the military doesn’t want to give money to for-profit universities.  So get out there and listen already!

Losing Their Shit

I could have predicted this, in fact I did, and as usual, it came true. I recently did a video about the fundamentalist religion of libertarianism, in which I predicted, accurately, that I’d have libertarians coming out and screaming at me because I’d somehow offended them by making a video all about them and how awful I was because I’d made them look bad.

No, they made themselves look bad and it’s really funny to watch them rant and rave about how bad *I* am that they are reacting the way that *THEY* are.  It’s more evidence of the abject emotional insecurity of humanity.

First off, I already said that I was only talking about a particular set of libertarians, I was very specific in my video, but the people who came back at me, one in particular, was screaming that he was not that way at all.  Then why is he responding? He already knows, if he watched the video, that I’m not talking about him, but just  by his very response, it’s painfully clear that I am and he knows it, he just doesn’t want to be honest about it.

There’s this really weird human reaction that if  you use a word that someone uses in relation to themselves, even if you’re clearly not talking about them, even if they clearly don’t fit into whatever you’re talking about, they have to get mad because somehow, your criticism of other people reflects  badly on them.  This is a very immature reaction.

And of course, it isn’t just the libertarians that do it, that’s just the most recent example.  Liberals.  Feminists. Conservatives. Christians. Muslims. All of them are equally guilty.  They are more concerned with the label they choose to wear than the content of the discussion going on.  They don’t even care if what you’re saying is completely accurate, if it makes them feel bad, they drop trou and spray feces on everyone and that’s a problem.

Seriously, shouldn’t the actual content be more important than how the discussion makes you feel?  This is why the religious have such a problem having a rational discussion about things like abortion and gay marriage.  The idea disgusts them on an emotional level and they are unable to rise above it.  The feelings are all that matters.  The same goes for libertarians and their claims about statism and natural law and all of that.  It doesn’t make any sense, they cannot demonstrate any of it, but if you criticize it, they freak out.  Or liberals who can’t talk about feminism or racism or gender politics without throwing around words like “misogyny” in an irrational attempt to smear their detractors.  It’s why so many important discussions these days are at a complete stand still, because you have two sides who can do no more than fling poo at each other.

So anyhow, here’s the video, you can go over to YouTube to see the comments if you really want, but I’m sure you’ve run into this plenty of times yourself.  It really is sad, isn’t it?  Can’t people just talk intellectually without losing their shit?

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2ieCCRPFbk’]

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.25

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There’s some serious stuff going on this week as we look at the end of the world.  Again.  Pastor James Manning goes completely insane.  The Pope defends heterosexual marriage after a Polish priest comes out as gay.  We revisit the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and find that it’s still going on today.  A lady is sweat-shamed at a Starbucks and it’s as stupid as it sounds. McGraw-Hill agrees to change a school textbook after a mother complains, and why this might not always be the right thing to do.  Then we talk about why people follow leaders who make them look really, really bad.  All this and more on this week’s show!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.24

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Our 100th episode where nothing special happens. This week, an atheist mom is forced into religious counseling or lose her children, Ben Carson says he might consider religion as a cause for warrants, but only for Muslims, UCLA might give students the right not to be offended, a French animal rights group beats a homeless man and steals his dog, then puts it up for sale.  Then we talk about the resignation of John Boehner and the implications for the future of the House.  Go listen now!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.23

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In a slightly shorter show, we go heavy on Islam with stories about anti-Muslim firearms, the pagan takeover of Catholicism, Ben Carson entirely misunderstanding our secular government, a Muslim boy gets arrested for bringing a clock to school, plus we look at why so many liberal atheists defend Islam.  Time’s a wastin’, go listen!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.22

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A Ukrainian Bishop gets away with breaking the law, a woman gets mad at summer at Auschwitz, an author gets banned in New Zealand, a teenager is charged with expoloiting himself, the GOP is at it again with Iran and we talk about overparenting and how it ruins our children’s lives.  Now march yourself right over and get listening.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.21

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The Aliens Are Coming!

It’s a crap sandwich as we talk about aliens invading from another dimension, both the Qur’an and the Bible not being what they seem, another Republican lawmaker couple are caught in a car together, India sells sand to the Arabs and Kim Davis and her cries of Christian persecution.  Grab a fork and partake in this week’s episode of The Bitchspot Report Podcast.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.20

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This week, Ted Cruz wants pastors to break the law, ISIS destroys Palmyra temple, professors want to control speech on campus, India orders two women raped, plus we talk about birthright citizenship. If it wasn’t so bizarre, it would make you cry, come join us for the show.

Belief and Knowledge

If the things you believe cannot be demonstrated to be true, you don’t have knowledge.

There is a difference between believing a thing is true and knowing it is true.  This is a constant problem with religious apologists because apparently, they are unaware of the difference.  In a recent poll, a theist wanted to know if atheists 100% knew that God doesn’t exist, but they also asked if theists knew 100% that God did exist.  A majority of theists said that they knew that God existed and unfortunately, a majority of atheists also said they knew that God didn’t exist, although most then clarified that most definitions of God were logically contradictory and thus, couldn’t possibly exist and I’m a little happier with that than the theists who simply declared they were right because they were right.

So we launched into a big discussion about “knowledge” vs. “belief” and why they were different, but the original poster took the coward’s way out, saying “This is just a poll thread, nobody has to prove what they believe in, you just choose what you believe in and vote.”  Then he stopped responding, as has become standard for theists in such debates.  But let’s be honest, that’s really not a good way to do things if you care about worthwhile answers.  There’s a difference between saying “I believe I can fly” and saying “I know I can fly”.  One is R. Kelly, the other is a wet smear on the pavement.

So why aren’t theists able to make this very obvious distinction?  Why are they supremely convinced that everything they believe in, they can claim knowledge of?  Knowledge requires more than just simple faith.  Knowledge requires some objective and demonstrable basis in fact.  There is a difference between a child saying “I believe in Santa Claus” and one say “I know Santa Claus is real”.  One is a simple, albeit fallible belief based on circumstantial evidence, after all, they do get presents saying they’re from Santa after all, but the other has a much higher standard of proof.  It has to, otherwise we’re just talking about the same thing with two different names. These are two different concepts and need to be treated that way.

And no, this doesn’t mean “it seems to me” is a good reason to claim knowledge, in fact, that is the opposite of knowledge. Knowledge is objective.  It exists without having to believe it.  It is something you can show to others.  A lot of theists don’t understand this, which isn’t surprising.  They’ll ask, “well, how do you know that your wife loves you?”  That’s easy, I can look at how she objectively treats me, how she behaves around me, etc.  It isn’t absolute proof but it is solid evidence that can be evaluated independently of my beliefs about her.  Of course, the most important part is, I can prove she actually exists, something theists cannot prove about their gods.  God is kind of like that really hot girlfriend that lived in Canada that guys claimed to have in high school.  That’s not knowledge, that’s delusion.

But isn’t that really all religion is?

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.19

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276My Name is Lucifer!

A woman prays behind the wheel, causing grevious harm to a grandmother, Michelle Bachmann celebrates the end of the world, the Duggars want back on TV to counsel sexually abused teens, more religious states are accepting the superiority of secular society and we talk about the stupid names that parents give their kids and why they shouldn’t.

So give it a shot, won’t you?