Tag Archives: atheism

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?

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.18

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276Yes, You Are a Boat

Lots of stupid as a judge orders a couple to get married and write Bible verses or go to jail, 5 women in India are beaten to death as witches, Wal-Mart’s new minimum wage is upsetting workers, as we predicted, two state representatives are having an affair, but they’d rather pretend he was sleeping with a gay prostitute.  Then we look at the Sovereign Citizen movement and just how crazy these people really are.  Get your aspirin ready, you’re going to need it.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.17

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Jewish Cooties!

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are afraid of women, gay-hating Jewish stabber returns to stab again, the secrets of the Reconstructionist Right, a three-year old terrorist and political donors come from a small pool.  Plus, Iran isn’t a monster, stop pretending they are.  So what are you still doing here, go listen!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.16

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Is He In You?

In a longer than usual show, we look at pharmacists who are no longer allowed to deny medications on religious grounds, a Nepalese boy who is murdered by Hindus for magical reasons, the Mayor of Hawkins, Texas is an idiot and doesn’t understand the separation of church and state and Iran is helping fund the fight against ISIS in Iraq and we’re being dicks about it.  Then we have a long talk about increasing the minimum wage and why it’s not such a good idea.  Get him in you and check it out!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.15

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Can You Trump That?

A foodie show, we look at a South African preacher who makes his followers eat live snakes, then crazy theists insist Pepsi is made of dead fetuses, an Australian naturopath convinces a mother to almost kill her baby and the EEOC decides that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LBGTQ from discrimination. Finally, we talk about Donald Trump and his insanity and what it means for the GOP.

Surf, do not run to the podcast!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.14

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Should Auld Stupidity Be Forgot?

Tom DeLay and his tinfoil hat, the truth about the Oregon baker case, evangelicals want to stuff political offices with preachers and the freedom to thread eyebrows.  Then we revisit a bunch of stories that we kept saying we’d revisit and hadn’t.

Yes, the world is a crazy place, listen to us simplify it.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.13

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Oy Vey! It’s Mass Suicide Time!

An orthodox Jewish group hires Mexican migrant workers to hold signs at a gay pride parade, the religious head for the hills to avoid God’s wrath, a liberal professor tells white people to commit mass suicide over slavery and a teacher is fired while teaching about free speech for exercising his free speech.  Then we look at the Supreme Court decision over gerrymandering and the right of American voters to have control over their representatives.

We can’t make this stuff up!

Answers to Some Atheist Questions

8questions

Over on the Atheist Experience blog, a viewer asked some questions and although there is a thread over there for answering them, I thought I’d take a shot here.  These questions seem to come from an atheist, although I don’t think he ever self-identifies as one, that’s just the sense I get.  It could also be a sincere liberal theist questioning their own beliefs.  In either case, I never let an opportunity to answer questions go unresponded to, so let’s get started.

1. Someone I know told me that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us, not only because there is a new covenant, but also because God made those laws for a specific purpose, for example, selling off your daughter to her Rapist only applied to the people at the time. What should I say to that?

This is an attempt by some modern Christians to get around all of those horrible, awful things in the Old Testament while still pretending that the parts they like have weight.  They all still pay attention to the Ten Commandments, they just pretend they can ignore the parts about slavery and stoning unruly children and murdering witches.  However, the Bible doesn’t support such an interpretation.  In Matthew 5:18, Jesus says: “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”  Since earth has not disappeared (can’t say anything about heaven since we have no reason to think it ever existed), then the whole of the Old Testament must remain in force.

2. He says evolution is discredited by the amount of genetic mutations that are negative instead of positive. I replied with the mutation that allows some people to drink milk is positive because it helped people back when food was scarce and also how most mutations don’t do anything, they’re neutral. Was that a good reply and how is his argument true or false?

These are people who have no clue what evolution actually is or how it operates.  No matter how many times it’s explained to them, they continue to be misinformed because their faith is more important than the facts.  There are many similar point mutations that we can point to, where a small number of people were able to do a certain thing that gave them a survival advantage and thus, they reproduced in greater numbers until the ability is widespread in the human population.  We can als point to this in many animal species.  In fact, that’s why we end up with superbugs, bacteria that are resistant to vaccines and treatments, because a certain percentage have a mutation that is positive (from their “perspective”) in that it allows them to survive and thrive where other bacteria are killed.

3. People claim the bible is scientific but the story of Noah’s ark is in there? What other stories show that the bible is as scientific as Harry Potter.

Any story in the Bible that relies on magic and miracle is, as you say, as scientific as Harry Potter.  That includes the creation story, the aforementioned flood, the Egyptian plagues, the virgin birth, all of the miracles of Jesus and the resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.  In short, all of the things that make Christianity a religion.

4. How do I explain to those who don’t understand about how “information” cannot exceed the speed of light and how DNA isn’t a written set of instruction that the way most would think of it?

It all depends on what you mean by “information”.  Not knowing that, I can’t respond to that part of the question.  As for DNA, while it isn’t the kind of information that a lot of theists think it is, it really is a “programming language” of sorts, if you manipulate the gene sequences in different ways, you get different outputs.  That isn’t what they mean though and it is a wholly naturally-derived “programming language” that had no initial programmer.  Trying to convince theists of that is nigh impossible though because their goal isn’t to get to the truth, it’s to maintain their faith.

5. Why is Theistic Evolution wrong or unreasonable? I may have gotten the name wrong but a friend of mine says theistic evolution is evolution but with divine intervention behind it all.

I don’t know about wrong or unreasonable, it’s just unnecessary.  There is no reason to think that any gods exist. Theistic evolution requires a god to direct it, in the absence of gods, or reasons to think gods are real, then you’re just left with evolution by itself.  We can prove evolution happened and continues to happen.  We cannot prove there are any gods that might have directed it.  Occam’s Razor states that the simplest explanation is most likely the right one.  That would be evolution without the unsupported god part.

6. My friend crashed in a plane recently and he was unscathed. Now all the uber christian kids at my school keep saying Jesus saved him, but for me I ask why he didn’t prevent the crash in the first place. Then they say Jesus doesn’t check planes before they take off. I know this is a subject that hits the emotions, but how do I convince the crash wasn’t divine but instead was a lucky crash?

You probably can’t because, as I said before, these people don’t care about the truth, they care about their emotional comfort. They want to feel good about the things they believe, no matter how unsupported or silly those things are in reality.  These kinds of claims are not at all uncommon yet they are quite absurd.  You get people who say “I was in a crash and I was the only survivor!  Praise Jesus!”  Well apparently Jesus didn’t give a damn about any of the other people who were killed in the crash, did he?  It’s all about you.  When you bring up the obvious problems with these claims, just like your friend, they find some way to rationalize around it.  As I said, they don’t care about reality, they just want to feel good.

7. Would finding how life forms can arise from inanimate organisms not just disprove but destroy any religious claims to creation? Also what would you think the response to new extraterrestrial life being discovered? Hement Mehta believes this would be a huge blow to organized religion.

Well, finding how they actually do arise certainly would. Just proposing a hypothesis, not so much.  Of course, evolution is the best supported scientific theory we have but creationists don’t care because, not to sound like a broken record, they’re not interested in the facts.  There are always going to be a certain number of theists who, no matter what is discovered, they’re going to cling to their irrational faith.  Just look at Ken Ham, who at the Ham/Nye debate, said that there was absolutely nothing that could ever cause him to reject his faith.  No amount of fact, no amount of evidence, nothing at all could ever make him doubt the existence of God.  That’s what we call fanaticism.

8. Many creationists claim that the odds of humanity coming to be is so improbable. I was thinking before I slept the other day about a new idea(which probably was thought of already because it’s simple). I call it the argument from hindsight. Is this a thing(argument from hindsight)? Is easy to say it must be hard to get to where we are now, but that because we’re looking back. How many Martians are saying this? None because there isn’t anyone to look back at what needs to occur for life.

That’s because they’re playing a numbers game, one that has been wholly discredited over the years but they still cling to it. It is blatantly dishonest, but… faith.  I do agree with the argument from hindsight, I like the name, I might have to use it sometime. We can make all kinds of arguments using it.  If we calculate the odds of any individual being here today, each person having to had the exact ancestors breeding with the exact ancestors, having the exact sperm meeting with the exact egg over hundreds or thousands of generations, the chances that any of us could possibly exist today is astronomical, yet here we all are.  Creationists like to pretend that humanity was predestined, like we were always supposed to exist, yet there’s nothing further from the truth. We are the result of the process, not the goal.  If something had happened differently, there might be intelligent slime mold sitting around on a wholly different earth, marvelling at how wonderful it is that their life form was predestined by their gods.  It’s all quite silly.

So there you go, some more answers, aimed this time more at an atheist audience than a religious one.  The whole thing really is bizarre and quite sad that so many people are so unwilling to care about reality because reality is uncomfortable and gets in the way of their religious fantasies.  You can’t reason with a lot of these people, it isn’t even worth it to try, but at least you can be aware that they exist and as G.I. Joe says, knowing is half the battle.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.12

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead!

As we celebrate national gay marriage, we pause long enough to talk about a crazy evangelist who wants to send Bibles to starving Iraqi refugees, a teacher who disciplined a second grader for being an atheist, ridiculous southerners standing up for the Confederate Flag and the potential fallout from Greece’s #grexit.  Then we look at the Supreme Court decision and the idiots who pretend they’re not affected.
So what are you waiting for?  Go listen!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.11

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276What’s Wrong With the South?

An unplanned south-centric episode, this week we look at a Texas pastor willing to be burned to oppose gay marriage, Louisiana is allowing Bibles in the classroom to oppose evolution, the Confederate Flag is finally getting the boot and it’s about damn time, plus the Supreme Court rules on Americans born in Jerusalem and what they can put on their passports.  Then we example France’s “right to be forgotten” and how Google should tell them where to shove it.  Lots of craziness this week, stay tuned.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.10

Bitchspot Report New Icon

Jesus Says Give Me Your Wallet!

After missing a week, we come back with another 90 minutes of religious and political absurdity sure to make any rational person shake their heads.  This week, gays make Christians feel bad.  The Catholic Church is finally being held criminally liable for pedophile priests.  The Supreme Court rules in an online threat case.  A family is charged with disturbing the peace and brings up free speech concerns.  Plus, are the religious really more charitable when their religion uses intimidation and threats to extort money from them?  All this and more on this new episode!

More Answers to Christian Responses

Every now and then, I’ll find a list of religious questions for atheists, supposedly aiming to take down the evil heretics, and answer them.  Invariably, they are chock full of irrationality and ignorance and even though the answers are easily available online, theists have no interest in looking them up, or accepting them even if they do.  Here’s ten quick responses to ten supposed atheist questions, written by Heather Tomlinson, that I wanted to further explore, to show where Heather, and to be honest most theists, get it all absurdly wrong.

1) You don’t believe in Zeus, Thor and all the other gods. I just go one god more than you, and reject the Christian God.

The problem with this idea is that ‘gods’ such as Zeus and Thor are not comparable with the biblical understanding of God.

“There is a vast distinction between all of the Ancient near eastern gods and the God of the Bible,” said Prof Lennox. “They are products of the primeval mass and energy of the universe. The God of the Bible created the heavens and the earth”.

This immediately betrays one of the many holes in Christian thinking, the idea that Zeus and Thor somehow need to be compatible with the Bible.  That’s like saying the Christian God has to be compatible with the Enuma Elish.  How many Christians do you think would be down with that?  I know that this Professor Lennox person debated Dawkins, there’s a video of the pre-show at the end and I’m sure you can go look up the whole debate on YouTube, but just reading this crap from Lennox does not impress me in the least and the way that Heather spends all of her time quoting this guy, like anything he says means anything, just shows she’s spending her time bobbing on his theological knob without ever asking herself if these ideas make any sense.

2) Science has explained everything, and it doesn’t include God.

Science cannot answer certain kinds of questions, such as ‘what is ethical?’ and ‘what is beautiful?’ Even when it comes to questions about the natural world, which science does explore and can sometimes answer, there are different types of explanations for different things.

“God no more competes with science as an explanation of the universe than Henry Ford competes with the law of internal combustion as an explanation of the motor car,” says Prof Lennox.

Nobody has ever said science has explained everything, otherwise we wouldn’t need science any more.  However, it is a true fact that, to date at least, science hasn’t found anything that it couldn’t explain in purely naturalistic ways.  There is no need for God.  Oh, and Professor Lennox, there is no law of internal combustion.  You are an idiot.

3) Science is opposed to God.

There are certain conceptions of a ‘god’ that might be opposed to science, but not the Christian God. There might be certain kinds of ‘gods’ that are invented to explain things we don’t understand, but they’re not Christian.

“If we’re being offered a choice between science and god… it is not a biblical concept of god,” said Prof Lennox. “The biblical God is not a god of the gaps, but a God of the whole show. The bits we do understand [through science] and the bits we don’t.

“Among many leading thinkers, their idea of god is thoroughly pagan. If you define god to be a god of the gaps, then you have got to offer a choice between science and god.”

Again, I don’t think anyone has ever said this. Science is neutral to the idea of God. Science follows evidence to conclusions. Not one line of evidence has ever led to God.  He is correct, among many leading thinkers, the idea of god is “pagan”, although I think he probably means “foreign”.  So is the idea of unicorns.  Or leprechauns.  Or wizards on flying brooms casting spells at each other.  These ideas are absurd and completely without intellectual merit.

4) You can’t prove that there is a God.

This kind of statement ignores that there are different kinds of ‘proof’.

“Can you prove that there is a God?” asked Prof Lennox. “In the mathematical sense no, but proving anything is very difficult. The word proof has two meanings. There’s the rigorous meaning in maths that is very difficult to do and rare. But then there’s the other meaning – beyond reasonable doubt”.

That’s the kind of ‘proof’ we can present: arguments to bring someone beyond reasonable doubt. For example, rational arguments such as those from philosophers Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, the personal experience of Christians, and the witness of the gospel accounts in the Bible.

Then by all means, prove God beyond reasonable doubt.  Do something.  Provide some objective evidence.  Of course, we know they can’t, but it’s interesting to note that they dismiss the same philosophical claims for other gods that they expect everyone to accept for their own.  The “personal experience of Christians” is supposed to be credible but the personal experience of Hindus is not.  The gospel accounts in the Bible are supposed to be valid but the accounts in the Qur’an are not.  And those supposed rational arguments have been completely discredited, yet shysters like Craig continue to use the same claims over and over again.  He doesn’t care about reality, in fact, he’s already said that even if he had absolute and undeniable proof that God didn’t exist, he’d continue to believe anyhow.  That is not the sign of a rational person.

5) Faith is believing without any evidence.

Christian belief has never been about having no evidence: the gospels were written to provide evidence, as the beginning of Luke’s attests. The end of John’s gospel says, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

But believing without evidence is a common notion of ‘faith’ at present. “This definition is in the dictionary and believed by many,” said Prof Lennox. “So, when we talk about faith in Christ, they think that’s because there’s no evidence. [John’s gospel shows that] Christianity is an evidence-based faith.”

The gospels are no more evidence than the Qur’an or the Vedas are.  They cannot be verified to be true and verifiability is one of the hallmarks of evidence.  The Bible is, at best, heresay.  If you actually have evidence, you don’t need faith.  I have no faith in gravity, I can test it any time I want and so can you. The fact that the religious continue to profess faith is proof that they have nothing of substance to present.

6) Faith is a delusion. I’d no more believe in God than I would in the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

These ideas have been made famous by people such as Prof Richard Dawkins. The only thing they are good for is mockery.

“Statements by scientists are not always statements of science,” said Prof Lennox. “Stephen Hawking said, “religion is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”. I said, “atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light”.

“Neither of those statements proves anything at all. They’re all reversible. What lies behind all these delusion claims is the Freudian idea of wish fulfilment [that we believe what we hope to be true.] This works brilliantly providing there is no god. But if there is a god, then atheism is wish fulfilment.”

In this case, Dawkins is entirely correct.  Any belief which cannot be substantiated by objective evidence is not rational. It is delusion.  Some guy on a street corner talking to an invisible alien is considered mentally unstable.  The same guy on a street corner talking to an invisible god isn’t.  There’s no difference between the two, one is just socially acceptable and the other is not.  Both people have bad brain chemistry that cause them to think something that is not demonstrably real is actually there.

7) Christianity claims to be true, but there loads of denominations and they all disagree with each other, so it must be false.
Why does the existence of denominations imply Christianity is false? It might imply that Christians have very different personalities and cultures – or even that Christians aren’t good at getting on with each other – but not that Christianity isn’t true.

“There are all kinds of different kinds of teams in football, but they all play football,” said Prof Lennox.

But these denominations aren’t just various clubs, they all believe different things about Christianity, many of them diametrically opposed.  Football teams are all playing the same game under the same rules.  The more than 43,000 distinct sects of Christianity are not.  This Lennox guy is a complete moron and so is Heather for paying any attention at all.

8) The Bible is immoral.

If you want to question the morality of the Bible, what basis does that morality have? There can be a serious contradiction within atheist criticisms. Dawkins wrote: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

If this is true, then why does he question the morality of anything? “Dawkins says faith is evil,” said Prof Lennox. “But at the same time he abolishes the categories of good and evil. That doesn’t make sense.”

There are certainly a lot of things in the Bible that we would consider immoral today, there’s no question about that. Slavery, murder, rape, etc. are all spoken of favorably in the Bible.  Are you unaware of that?  Lennox can’t change what’s in the Bible so he tries to take an end-run around without addressing it.  Indefensible faith is indefensible.

9) Surely you don’t take the Bible literally?

Some atheists (and a few Christians) have a very black and white idea of how to interpret the Bible. You either have to take it ‘literally’ or chuck it away, they think. That ignores the reality of language and how it reflects truth.

“Jesus said ‘I’m the door’,” said Prof Lennox. “Is Jesus a door like a door over there? No. He is not a literal door, but he is a real door into a real experience of God. Metaphor stands for reality. The word ‘literal’ is useless.”

I don’t think any atheists think that the Bible, or any religious book for that matter, ought to be taken literally, but if you do not, the question of how you know that your interpretation is the correct interpretation, especially considering the thousands and thousands of other sects who interpret it differently, arises.  How do you know?  How do you defend your view?  How do you decide what is metaphorical and what is not?  Some people take the Adam and Eve story literally.  Some do not.  Some people take the flood story literally.  Some do not.  If you think you get to pick and choose what parts of the Bible are really true and reject the ones you don’t like, then you’re no longer being a rational individual.  Produce a demonstrable standard.  Otherwise, why can’t I just reject all of it as fantasy and be just as valid as you?

10) What is the evidence for God?
You can debate the existence of God until the cows come home. It can be very interesting, especially when you go into the detail and explore the subject in depth. But for an atheist, they might be missing the point or avoiding the real issue. Prof Lennox advises to ask them the most important question:

“Suppose I could give [evidence for God], would you be prepared right now, to repent and trust Christ?”

Of course there are more in-depth answers to all of these claims – try out videos of debates between Prof Lennox and Prof Dawkins like this one:

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxD-HPMpTto’]

If there is solid evidence for the existence of God, then yes, I would accept said God as real.  I may or may not worship such a God, especially given his behavior in the Old Testament, but I accept things based on evidence.  Here’s the reverse question though, if I could give you evidence against God, would you be prepared right now, to reject belief in God and Jesus and give up your Christianity?  No?  Didn’t think so.

Ultimately, I’ve seen a ton of these things and every single one is laughably pathetic.  Why should anyone take these things seriously when a toddler could poke holes in them?  It really betrays the utter absurdity of religious belief, that anyone with any kind of education whatsoever should be able to see straight through the massive problems with these arguments, yet apparently, the blindly faithful cannot, or at least they refuse to acknowledge them.  It’s really quite silly and that’s why atheists laugh at the religious.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.9

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

 

Drive Out the Gay Demons

This week, we look at the fallout from the Irish gay marriage vote, especially those who still oppose it.  Mike Huckabee proves he has no place anywhere near the White House.  The Supreme Court agrees to take on redistricting and what it might mean. Lobster tails and injustice, oh my.  Then we talk about the end of portions of the Patriot Act and whether this is a good idea.
So what are you doing gawking?  Go listen!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.8

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Zombie Hitler!

This week, the guys, with special guest Christian Kemp from the IAmAnAtheist blog, take on abortion stupidity in Ohio, racist nonsense from Pastor Manning, go after the Duggars and the Quiverful movement, look at a Hitler fan in South Africa and revisit the re-opening of relations with Cuba.  Then we take some time to talk about secularism and the misrepresentation and outright lies of the religious.
Go listen.  Come on, you know you want to!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.7

Bitchspot Report New Icon 500x276

Think Stupid, Think Subway

This week, idiot of the week Sierra McCurdy shows why you shouldn’t  be a moron in your work shirt, we take a look at the latest Pew survey on religion that shows a continual decline in religiosity in America, dinosaur faces on chickens, Texas trying to force women to bear dead fetuses and the recent election in England and what this spells for free speech.  Hate to say we told you so but we told you so.
And now we’re telling you to go listen to the show!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.6

Bitchspot Report New Icon

Check Your Religious Privilege

This week, churches need to pick better representatives, Rick Wiles peeks at Obama in the bathroom, an African Evangelical church leader doesn’t understand human reproduction, liberals hate good parents so knock it off and another atheist blogger is murdered in Bangladesh. Then we go on to look at the liberal myth of privilege and wonder how ridiculous these people can actually be.
Go find out on this week’s show!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.4

Bitchspot Report New Icon

If You’re Happy and You Know it, You’re Gay!

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments for gay marriage, we take on four stories of political and religious import about the potential consequences of the coming decision.  Then, just to lighten the mood, we take a quick look at one of Japan’s more ridiculous religious cults, Happy Science!
So get thee to the podcast and have a jolly gay time!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.3

Bitchspot Report New Icon

The Con Game.

This time out, we look at Christian death threats, more ISIS murders, liberal anti-vax cartoons and why the whole anti-vax movement is so idiotic, and Yemen, yet another conflict that makes no sense in the Middle East.  Then we take some time to look at the recent Calgary Comic Expo disaster and why radical feminism and other leftist stupidity can be so dangerous.
It’s a good one, don’t miss it!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.2

Bitchspot Report New Icon

If You’ve Got Brains, You’re a Bad Person!

This week, we look at a liberal professor who declares economists are evil if they’re not liberal, Indiana shuts down Planned Parenthood and undergoes an HIV epidemic, Turkey gets mad at the Vatican because they don’t like reality, a UCLA professor dares to try to educate a black student and the liberal whine squad is out in force, plus as America and Cuba kiss and make up, what will be the ramifications?
All this and more in this week’s echo-heavy episode!

Child Rearing Without Religion Better Option

Child IndoctrinationI think this is something we’ve all suspected for a long time, but now there is research to back it up.  Like most children of my generation, I was raised religious, I was sent to Sunday School, I was religiously indoctrinated in my home, by parents who thought it was the best option, and in fact I went to all religious private schools which further pushed an unending stream of religion on me.  I was lucky to escape but I’m sure a lot of people I knew in my youth probably never did.

Now, however, there are multiple studies that show that kids raised non-religious are simply better.  According to a Duke University study in 2010, non-religious children are “less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian, and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.”

According to Phil Zuckerman, “Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology.”  Bengston is in charge of the Longitudinal Study of Generations, the largest ongoing examination of American families and religion.  Bengston says that “many non-religious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study. The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

We’ve long-since known that atheists are vastly underrepresented in prison populations, they simply do not appear to commit crimes at the same rate as most religious people do.  There are only a very few religious groups that have a lower percentage in prison than in their normal demographics.  I also talked on the podcast a while back about a study that showed that non-religious children were more likely to differentiate between fantasy and reality than religious children.

We also know that there is a strong inverse correlation between religiosity and intelligence/education.  The smarter someone is, the more educated they are, the less likely they are to be religious.  This has been confirmed in dozens of studies performed over the past century.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you want your kids to be smart, well-adjusted and decent human beings, for goodness sake, keep them away from religion.  And for those who do not want those things for their children, you assholes have no business being parents.

Planet of the Apes: An Apt Example

Planet of the ApesRecently, I sat down and watched all five of the original Planet of the Apes movies again.  It has been many years since I’ve seen them, but it immediately struck me that the plot of the first Planet of the Apes movie was very appropriate to the creation/evolution “debate”.

In the movie, Dr. Zaius, chief scientist and defender of the faith, knows the real history of his world, he knows that evolution is true but he can’t bear to let anyone else know.  Instead, he imprisons those who violate the religious order and discredits anyone who doubts the ape scriptures.

Doesn’t that sound pretty familiar?

In the original 1968 film, Dr. Zira asks Zaius, “how can scientific truth be heresy?”  However, Zaius and the rest of the tribunal of orangutan elders holds that it is, no matter how much evidence there might be for it, they refuse to see it.  Near the end of the film, after Taylor and Nova escape into the forbidden zone and Zaius leads troops to recapture or kill them, they come upon a cave where Cornelius had led an archaeological expedition.  There, they found human artifacts including a child’s doll.  Zaius refuses to even go into the cave, he doesn’t care what evidence is there, all he cares about is his doctrinal purity.  In fact, much of what we see in Planet of the Apes is a topsy-turvy replay of the concepts behind the Scopes Monkey Trial.  Today, we see the same thing among modern-day creationists, they can’t possibly be so stupid not to know that evolution is supported by an absurd amount of evidence, they just don’t care.  They are only concerned with doctrinal purity, not factual reality.

One interesting bit from the film that I’d really like to be true comes at the end of the movie when Cornelius, Zira and Taylor take Zaius prisoner and he admits, perhaps not in so many words, that he knows it won’t be long before the old ways come down but he’s going to fight for them for as long as he possibly can.  I’m hoping that today, almost 50 years later, creationism and other such primitive beliefs are in their death throes.  They deserve to be and the sooner they become a relic of primitive human thought, the better.  We’re better than that as a species, isn’t it about time we stop letting these monkey assemblies run the intellectual argument over human origins?  Cornelius and Zira had it right.  Evolution happens.  The orangutans had it wrong.  Religion is nonsense.  Unfortunately, Charlton Heston turned out to be a creationist all along.  I guess you can’t win them all.

Americans Abandoning Religion in Droves

leavechurchI do come back to this on occasion, just to show that it wasn’t a fluke, that the direction hasn’t changed and Americans aren’t flooding back to religion.  As should come as no surprise at all, Americans, particularly younger Americans, are abandoning traditional religions by the boat-load and the trend is only increasing. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, while only 7% of Americans surveyed were raised without religion, more than 19% of Americans profess no religious belief whatsoever.  The General Social Survey tells us that the number of irreligious Americans has more than doubled since 1990. The Pew Religious Survey has consistently shown a growing number of Americans that reject traditional religion. One-third of Americans under the age of 30 report no religious belief and while this isn’t a majority, it certainly is a move in the right direction.

Oh yes, I hear the religious say that these people aren’t becoming atheists, a lot of them claim to be “spiritual”, but since that word has no real definition or meaning, those who don’t actively believe in a deity are, by definition, atheists.  That’s what the word means whether the religious like it or not.  More and more, traditional religions in America are hemorrhaging members and, in increasing numbers, those people are not joining another religion, they are going out on their own.

The Catholic Church is one of the biggest losers, with millions of former Catholics leaving the church.  The only reason they are maintaining any sort of parity is because of the massive influx of Latino Catholics into the United States.  Let’s be honest, the only reason the Catholics are so pro-immigrant is because they benefit from it.  Yet even among Latinos, they are waking up to reality.  Since 2010, more than 4 million Latinos, approximately 12%, have abandoned the Catholic Church and the rate is only increasing.  The Southern Baptists report that they are closing approximately 1000 churches per year as their numbers dwindle.  In most churches, they are performing few, if any new baptisms, they are quickly becoming a ghost town in the pews. Jehovah’s Witnesses are falling apart, only 37% of those raised in the church retain those beliefs in adulthood.  And, of course, age plays a dramatic role, 31% of those reporting no religious belief are under 30, 71% are under 50.  As the older generation dies off, less and less people are filling their places in the pews.

So what does this all mean?  It means that the fight continues and the war isn’t over, but it certainly seems to be moving in our favor.  Rejecting irrational beliefs seems to be on the rise, caused by increased education, a better grasp on rationality and the fact that modern science has done away with the need to believe in imaginary friends in the sky.  As we continue to advance, more people will move away from religion.  It’s not a rational panacea by any means, there’s lots more work to do, but early signs have been extremely promising.

 

 

Being Atheist Doesn’t Mean Being Liberal

conservative atheists blazing saddlesI’m kind of kicking myself right now, but I don’t remember where I saw this earlier, but when I tried to go back and look for it, I couldn’t figure it out.  If I find it, I’ll drop a link in here, I promise.  So anyhow, earlier today, I read a blog post, something along the lines that open atheists are more prevalent in more liberal societies, such that atheists clearly want to be part of more liberal societies.

Bullshit.

I’m an atheist and I have no interest whatsoever in living in the kind of liberal society that we see in many western nations. I can’t stand liberalism, I find it absurd and abhorrent, I find many of the extremist liberals that we tend to see in atheism to be a joke.  I find liberal ideas to be at the core of most of society’s problems and responsible for the slow but demonstrable slide of America into a socialist morass.  And no, that’s nothing to be proud of.

Unfortunately, this is an idea that doesn’t seem to go over well with most atheists, even though studies have shown that upwards of 20% of atheists identify as secular conservatives as well.  This isn’t a new revelation either, in fact it’s been at the center of my general disagreement of the atheist “movement”, as well as more than one argument with liberals who can’t quite get it through their head that every atheist out there isn’t a far-left booster.  You know, for people who often claim to be rational and skeptical, I see very little of that among many political pundits in the atheist camp.  In fact, I see the same kind of overt emotionalism that I see criticized among the religious on a daily basis.  News flash, if having beliefs based on nothing but wishful thinking and emotional comfort is bad for religion, it isn’t any better for politics.  Claiming to be skeptical and critical only works if you actually are skeptical and critical.  You can’t say one thing and then do something entirely different, yet you see a lot of very vocal atheists dancing on top of their high horses, declaring that if you don’t share their ludicrously liberal views, you’re an enemy of atheism.  It harkens back to the classic Richard Carrier post where he demands everyone abide by the Atheism+ mantra or be declared a C.H.U.D.  Why are there people like this and why are they seen as leaders in the “atheist community”?  They’re certainly nobody I’d ever want to represent or speak for me.  This isn’t an old issue, it’s something I see again and again and again among atheists who can’t stop linking their “Social Justice Warrior” nonsense to their lack of belief in gods.

Can we please just  get back to being atheists and get rid of any plusses?  It is possible to be several different things at the same time, you know.  You’re not stuck with a single label that you have to make mean a bunch of different things.  You’re free to label yourself a variety of different things and advance different views in different venues.  It doesn’t have to be a one-size fits all thing and you don’t have to refuse to deal with anyone that doesn’t fit into your little clique and check off all the same boxes as you.  Finally, if  you want to be a freethinker and a skeptic, you can’t just wear those hats and not follow their creeds.  If we’re rejecting religion because it cannot be rationally justified, why aren’t you looking at your political views the same way?  I know you’re not  because I see it all the time.  I see the exact same irrational, emotional nonsense with atheists as I do with theists.  If we’re to be better than the religious, you actually have to do it, not just declare it.

Maybe if more atheists did that, there wouldn’t be nearly so many liberals carrying the non-religious flag.

Is Religion Good or Bad For Humanity?

EffectsA little while ago, Jerry Coyne, over on the Why Evolution is True Blog, asked if religion is good or bad for humanity.  He asked two specific questions and wanted empirical answers.  I figured it was easier to get into a lengthy answer to his questions here, especially since I don’t think this is an empirical question at all, it relies on subjective determinations and hence, is a philosophical question that needs to be answered philosophically.

So on to his two questions, which I’m sure are going to take an entirely left turn at Albuquerque from what he intended.

1. How do you support your claim that religion is on the whole a bad thing for humanity? NOTE: This is an empirical question and requires empirical data for an answer, not gut feelings or anecdotes. 

The problem is, this isn’t an empirical question because none of the terms are agreed upon.  Whose definitions do we use?  How do we define what is good or what is bad for humanity?  The things that I or Jerry Coyne or lots of atheists might argue are good for humanity, fundamentalist religious zealots might argue are bad.  The things that we might say are horrible, such as flying airplanes into the Twin Towers, might be the highest virtue to extremist Muslims. As someone pointed out in the comments on WEiT, there is a near constant stream of Christians who conspire to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem so that the Jews can rebuild the Temple and bring about the end of the world.  Unfortunately, the majority of these crazy Christians are American.  How can you hope to find common ground with people who believe the highest positive is to cause Armageddon?   You’ll never find a definition that everyone agrees on for “good”, “bad” or “what’s best for humanity”.  Therefore, this becomes a philosophical question and entirely subjective and therefore, empiricism goes right out the window.  Everything that we can say is based on our own subjective positions that we can try to defend rationally but which can never be proven empirically.

Clearly, I don’t think religion is good on the whole for humanity, I want to see it go away and I think humans will be better off without it.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some positives that come along with religion, but none of those positives are inherent to religion, all of them can be achieved secularly as well.  I also find that some of the things deemed positive for religion actually are not.  Prayer and similar pointless gestures that provide the illusion of comfort are not positives.  They cater to what I view as an irrational human weakness.  That many people have that weakness is not sufficient reason to cater to it, instead we need to work to reduce or eliminate it.  I’ve made the case in the past with my “stupid people are stupid” argument that just because there are stupid people out there, people who are ignorant of the world around them and who have no interest in finding out the truth, that doesn’t make stupidity and ignorance acceptable.  Unfortunately, that becomes a strength for many theists and accommodationists, that some people “need” prayer because they are, in reality, pathetic losers who cannot deal with the world as it actually is, therefore they “need” to talk to an imaginary friend in the sky to get through the day. Well, no, what they really “need” is to get over it and grow the hell up.  We do no favors to coddle people who have not matured sufficiently.  It does humanity no good to lower the standards to the lowest conceivable denominator.  We need to raise our standards and expect those that fall below to come up, not expect everyone else to reduce our barometer as far as we possibly can.  There just isn’t anything that I would deem “good” that comes out of religion that we couldn’t do as well or better from an entirely secular standpoint.

However, all of the bad things that come out of religion, the discrimination, the hatred, the irrational restrictions and violence that are so commonplace among the world’s religions, those are things that should be entirely unacceptable in any civilized society.  Yet to many in the religious world, these bad things are seen as positives.  Honor killing, stoning, female genital mutilation and murdering the infidels are seen as the highest calling in some parts of the Muslim world.  The fact that we’re having any debate at all about marriage equality, gender equality and racial equality comes directly from religion. There is no rational defense for any of these views from a secular perspective.  Religion, although it isn’t the only culprit, promotes bad thinking, it encourages accepting ideas without rational reason, without defensible evidence and rejects critical thinking and intellectual evaluation of one’s positions.  We also know that the more religious one is, the more likely they are to accept other irrational woo ideas uncritically.  Belief in ghosts and other supernatural nonsense is much more strongly prevalent among the religious than among the nones.

Therefore, I have to say that religion is a net negative for humanity.  The positives don’t require religion but the negatives do.  That’s not to say that every religious person is an animal but most people who claim to subscribe to religion aren’t that serious about it in the first place. They just practice religion socially or for emotional reasons, they don’t really buy into it and live as though they really pay attention.  Watered down religion is really one small step to secularism anyhow.  Might as well take that last step.

2. If religion were really shown to have net beneficial effects, regardless of its truth, should we promote it, even as atheists? Should we evince “belief in belief”, as Dan Dennett calls it?

As I’ve already said, I don’t think that religion has any net beneficial effects that require religion to exist and even if it did, I don’t think we ought to promote falsehood for any reason.  Truth is it’s own reward.  Even if religion could be shown to be positive, we should still reject it because it isn’t factually true.  The end does not justify the means.  We would no more accept racism if it brought about some undefined benefit, we would no more accept sexism if something within it could be argued to be good, why then would we accept religion, just because it helps some people who have clearly not given any other method a shot?  I don’t want people to believe in belief.  I want them to critically analyze the evidence and come to a conclusion based on logic, reason and demonstrable fact.  “Belief” and “faith” are nonsensical words in this sense, they do not denote accepting positions on good, rational evidence, but on weak, emotional desires.  That doesn’t impress me at all, even when the crazy accommodationists make the plea that these people are too pathetic to stand on their own two feet. Well maybe if you’d stop handing them crutches, they’d give it a shot.

I don’t want to limit this to atheists because unfortunately, some atheists are just as irrational as many theists, but for all rational thinkers and people for whom truth actually matters and fact is more important than feeling, we simply cannot promote convenient lies because they are more comforting than uncomfortable truths.  I don’t care about comfort, at least not when it comes to reality.  Reality is what it is, accepting reality as it is, that’s part of the basic maturation process.  I don’t care if you’re unhappy that your dog died, I don’t care that you’d feel better thinking that some imaginary man in the  sky is going to get back at those bullies who insulted you.  Your comfort means nothing in the larger scheme of things. You need to get it through your head that some sky-daddy isn’t going to make your life better, that rests solely on you and the people that surround you.  The sooner you get off your knees and onto your feet, the sooner  you recognize that nobody is going to come and save  you and it’s your own responsibility, the better off the whole planet will be.

So there’s my answer, Jerry.  I know you’ll never see it but it is what it is.

Some Conservatives Unclear on Freedom

FreedomOne thing about me, I’m an equal opportunity critic and even for people I’ve supported on some issues, that doesn’t mean I won’t turn right around and let them have it on others.  I think that’s how every rational, critical thinking individual ought to be, no heroes, no idols, everything is up for evaluation no matter who says it.  The ideas are important, not the people who have them.

I posted a couple of videos by Bill Whittle a while back and while I certainly didn’t agree with everything he had to say, I thought that, when it came to conservatism at least, he was reasonably in the same ball park as me, at least for the issues that I discussed.  However, that certainly isn’t always the case, as another video that I found of his clearly illustrates.  So go watch the video, come back and guess what I’m about to say next.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzAe8R0wz-M’]

It shouldn’t be hard to figure out, I don’t think they’re working from the same common set of definitions of  terms as most people are.  How can you affirm man’s “inherent nature” to be free while claiming that man has to be a virtual slave to an all-powerful deity in the sky?  It makes no sense to me.  Christianity  cannot possibly be the core of conservatism when what they claim about conservatives goes right in the face of what Christianity demands.

In fact, I wouldn’t argue that freedom has much to do with conservatism, at least not as they’re talking about it.  The very basis of conservatism isn’t freedom, it’s responsibility.  Yes, of course the individual is important but the way they’re talking about it, they’re a lot closer to anarchy than conservatism.  The idea that people get to do whatever the hell they want to do without regard for anyone else is absurd.  That puts Wittle and his friend firmly at one end of the Libertarian camp.

As I’ve explained before, there are a number of central tenets of conservatism.  Personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, small government and keeping the government out of the lives of the people.  We are responsible for ourselves but we are also responsible to those around us. Humans are a social species, we form together in groups for mutual protection and satisfaction.  We not only have a responsibility for ourselves, but to maintain a healthy community for all.  That doesn’t mean we should just take care of everyone else, that’s a liberal thing, it means that everyone has a responsibility to care for themselves, to better themselves and to likewise care for others in the community.  Simply giving people a free ride and not holding them accountable for their own self responsibility violates that compact.  That doesn’t mean we don’t step in to help someone when the chips are down, we aid them in getting back on their feet, we don’t just give them a check forever so they never have to get their ass off the couch.  Likewise with fiscal responsibility, it means living within our means and not asking others for help unless it cannot be helped.  Not only do I hold myself responsible for my own finances within my particular sphere of influence, I hold everyone else responsible as well.  I hold the government responsible for paying its bills on time and not spending more money than it has except in extreme emergencies. That’s not how the government functions these days, whether under liberal or neo-con control and it’s absolutely pathetic.  We don’t need a government nearly the size that it is and both parties are to blame for the mess we’re in.  And certainly, neither party has any interest in keeping the government out of the lives of the people and for the Republicans, this is almost entirely Christianity to blame for the current state of Big-Brotherdom.  So to say that Christianity is the basis of conservatism only proves that Whittle and his buddy  don’t have a clue what conservatism really is.  They’re probably talking neo-conservatism, an entirely different political system which is a lot closer to liberalism than traditional conservatism.

These people don’t want Americans to be free.  If they did, they wouldn’t be fighting gay marriage.  They want Americans to be free to do what they’re told by the religious right.  That’s not freedom.  It’s double-talk slavery.  That’s what Christianity is, after all, slavery to an imaginary bully in the sky.  It makes me wonder if these people even think about the things that come out of their mouths.  From where I’m sitting, I certainly don’t think so.

Nobody is Stopping People From Skipping Church

Christmas-2014-Billboard-FINAL

I never really know what to think about these American Atheist billboards, mostly I think they’re a waste of time, aimed not at theists but at online atheists to hoot and holler at.  Most of them are just mindless and this year’s is no different.  Placed in Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis, and Fort Smith, Arkansas, the signs are conveniently close to this year’s American Atheist National Convention, you might think they were placed in those places specifically to draw out atheists and potential atheists to attend the convention.  It seems a bit self-serving to me.

And I have to wonder, why is this little girl asking one imaginary entity for permission to ignore another imaginary entity anyhow?  Okay, Santa is a relatively inoffensive cultural myth that pretty much nobody over the age of 10 takes seriously, but so what?  Isn’t the point of American Atheists to promote rationality?  Or are they just  going after religion and who cares if anyone  believes in Santa Claus, leprechauns and unicorns, so long as they aren’t gods?

Besides, and I know I’m taking this way too literally and seriously, but for most people, adults especially, nobody is making them go to church as it is.  They are choosing to do so.  Some, granted, do so for entirely social reasons, I recently had a conversation with someone who freely admitted that he plays the Christian card and pretends to be a Christian because there are distinct social benefits that come along with playing the part.  He doesn’t believe at all but he goes to church for networking purposes, he pretends to have faith because he says all the cutest girls are religious and it gets him into their pants, etc.  He uses people by pretending to have Christian beliefs and while I don’t respect what he’s doing in any way, shape or form, I can’t deny that there are probably a lot of people doing exactly the same thing.  They get something out of feigning faith.

For kids, like the one pictured, they don’t really have a choice whether to go to church or not, even if they do stop believing in gods, so the concept is entirely irrelevant.  Kids do what their parents want them to do, fair or not, until they become adults, at which point the above applies.  Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is unimportant, it is a true thing.

So that leaves me wondering if this is just a means of attracting people to attend the convention at $279 a head.  Even their press release says that’s part of their mission.  That means I’m not impressed with their tactics.

If you want to skip church, skip church.  Just don’t be an idiot and believe in other nonsense along the way.  The goal here is to raise rational children, not sell convention memberships.  Thus ends the sermon.