Tag Archives: faith

A Libertarian is Finally Honest!

I know I talk about natural rights a lot and the complete and utter failure of libertarians to actually back them up, even though they insist, without a shred of evidence, that they’re actually real.  I point out this failure every single time I find it and most of the time, libertarians still pretend that they’ve got a good reason to believe it, even though they can’t manage to produce that reason.

I also describe their political ideology as quasi-religious because everything they say is based on faith.

So finally, a libertarian who has done all of the above has come clean and admitted that he’s really got nothing.  He doesn’t recognize that he has nothing, of course, that’s exactly what he’s admitted.

I have proved it to MY satisfaction. My opinion on this matter is the only one that counts to me.

I will exercise my rights regardless whether you, anyone else, or any government says me yea or nay.

That is all the proof I need. :

Have you noticed all of the religious ideology he’s put in there?  All he cares about is his opinion.  He doesn’t care if it’s true, he cares if it makes him feel good.  He isn’t willing to listen to anyone who says any differently because he’s right because he wants to be right.  If you substituted “faith” for “rights” in the second line, you’d have the same thing that religious apologists say all the time.

These people are nuts, pure and simple.  They’re so nuts that they don’t even know that they’re nuts.  They are so completely out of touch with reality, out in libertarian la la land, that they can’t even conceive that they could possibly be wrong.  It doesn’t matter.  Reality is an inconvenience and logical reasoning is a trap.  For them, their quasi-religion is all that matters.  Interestingly enough, every single one of these libertarians that I’ve encountered who acts like this is also a fundamentalist Christian.  Crazy is crazy.

And you wonder why you can’t have rational discussions with libertarians?  This is why.

Faith Is Not a Substitute For Facts

Someone has a completely backward understanding of reality.

I was reminded of this by some recent comments on some of my YouTube videos, where a theist disagreed with my  take on God and causality, insisting that all kinds of things about God were true when they had absolutely no way of objectively determining anything about God, God’s characteristics or God’s abilities.

Now this is nothing new, it happens all the time, theists of all stripes will make claims about the supposed characteristics of their gods and demand that because they believe it, it has to be true.  But that really makes no sense, especially when trying to convince a skeptic of the veracity of your claims.  So to demonstrate this, I just made some equally unjustifiable claims about a supposedly magical leprechaun that created the universe.  This leprechaun is eternal and exists outside of the bounds of time and space, making it the first cause.  Why?  Because I say so.  Because my empty and baseless claims about something I have no conceivable way of knowing anything about are every bit as valid as the empty and baseless claims made by the theist.  And I have just as much faith that my empty and baseless claims are true, therefore, I win.

This didn’t please the theist and I’m not surprised.  They don’t like having the absurdity of their own positions pointed out to them.  So what do they typically do when they get shown how ridiculous their claims are?  Either turn to insults or turn to faith. Of the two, insults tend to win out, but sometimes they will go the faith route, as though faith actually serves as a substitute for facts.  And usually when they find out just how ineffective faith actually is, that turns to insults anyhow.

But that’s really the thing, faith doesn’t matter.  How you feel about a thing doesn’t change what that thing actually is.  If God exists, then God exists regardless of whether or not you have faith.  God’s characteristics are what God’s characteristics are, no matter how strongly you believe otherwise.  Wishes and dreams only matter when they directly correlate to reality.  Just believing that God is omniscient and omnipotent and omnibenevolent doesn’t actually make any of that so.  It is true only if it is true, not because you desperately want it to be true.  Trying to bring faith to a rational discussion is like trying to bring a feather to a gunfight.  You’re just asking to get shot down.

Theists Have Nothing

I’m sure this is something that every atheist who ever takes on religion has seen, but it  still pisses me off every single time it comes up, as it has a couple of times recently.  You know, the theists who say “we have evidence, we’re just not going to show it to you because you’ll refuse to see it!”  This recently happened over on my YouTube channel, where a theist popped into one of my videos, spouted all kinds of insults and when I told him to present his evidence, he said “I will, I promise, but first answer all of my questions” and when I did, he just deleted all of his comments and ran away.  I wish I could say I was surprised.

This is closely related to the other theist statement, “I don’t have to prove anything to you, I feel God in my life all the time!” Well how the hell do you know that?  You simply identify something in your life as God, you haven’t objectively determined if it actually is this God thing that you worship, you just assert it.  And as I’ve asked for years, and gotten no credible response, how do they actually know that this thing they supposedly experience is their god and not the devil of a competing pantheon, sent to lead them astray?  What tests have they actually performed to know that this isn’t the case?  None, of course.

And while they’re right, they don’t have to prove anything to anyone, there is no law requiring them to trot out their proof, that doesn’t mean that if they can’t or won’t do so, they won’t look like idiots.  Try to imagine how scientists would be viewed if they did the same thing.  “We can prove that our scientific hypothesis works but we don’t want to.  Na na na na boo boo!”  They’d be laughed out of the scientific establishment, as well they should be.

But theists really don’t care.  Their beliefs are emotional, not intellectual.  They believe things without evidence because it makes them feel good to do so.  And when someone points this simple fact out, they double down on blind faith because they have backed themselves into a corner.  They cannot admit to themselves that they have acted irrationally, they have to keep clinging desperately to that faith because without that, they have nothing.

Maybe that’s just the truth though. They have nothing.  Nothing at all.

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.

What’s Wrong With Being Stupid?

Can't Fix StupidThis is really why I’m increasingly convinced that having religious debates is pointless. I recently had a discussion with someone who self-described as a moderate theist, they refused to even say what kind of theist they were, although I’m relatively certain they are some kind of new-agey Christian type.  So we start talking about evidence and what criteria people ought to have in order to accept religious claims as reasonably true and he says there is no criteria.  Evidence doesn’t matter.  So long as you feel good about the things that you believe, you should be able to believe anything you want.

Vishnu?  Zeus?  Sure, go ahead!  Faith healing and creationism?  Knock yourself out!  Leprechauns?  Unicorns?  Absolutely! There is nothing so absurd that we should tell believers that they are wrong, even if it kills the believer, their children or random members of the public.  Faith is supreme and nothing else matters!

Besides, it isn’t like what some crazy person believes ever affects me, right?  That was when I launched into the Religious Horror Show, with hundreds of examples of people killing innocent children, murdering heretics and molesting minors. I pointed out that beliefs inform actions and that people who believe in particularly odious things tend to vote for those things if they are able.  I pointed out the current battle over gay rights and historically, that the same people who are against equality today voted against things like civil rights and interracial marriage in the not too distant past.  But again, he was nonplussed, he figured people could vote for whatever they wanted and it would all magically work out in the end.  Faith is key, nothing else matters.

Finally, I threw the example we’ve been using on the podcast for the past couple of weeks, what if someone decided that they wanted to go all Aztec on your ass and rip your still-beating heart out of your chest.  Would that be okay?  Sure, he says! Come and get me!  It was then that I figured he was either a troll or a loon, maybe both because it’s often difficult to tell the difference between the two.  Anyone who is up for an involuntary heart extraction has to have something wrong with them.  It was about then that I started wondering if I should find an old Aztec ceremonial knife or just shake my head and leave because both options started looking equally appealing.  I decided to do the latter though because even though he seemed fine with me gouging his ticker out of his chest, I was pretty sure that the authorities would disagree.

I’d just assume this was a troll, had I not seen a number of people recently advocating the exact same thing.  Any act, so long as it is religious, ought to be okay, regardless of the act and regardless of the consequences.  Religion is all.  Nothing else matters. These people are either stupid or crazy and they don’t seem to understand what’s wrong with that.

Are You Addicted to Religion?

jesus-shot-03It’s no surprise that there is such an overlap between drug addiction and extreme religious adherence, there are a lot of elements that are similar between the two. People who go to get clean of drugs or alcohol often exchange one addiction for another, either a religion or a religious 12-step program and sometimes, the cure is much worse than the disease.

So are you addicted to religion?  The following are symptoms, taken from The Two Faces of Religion: A Psychiatrist’s View, written by N. S. Xavier, M.D. in 1987.  How many do you see in yourself?

*Inability to doubt, think, or question information or authority. This cuts  directly to the core of any irrational belief, especially when you plug in fanatical attachment to the belief as well. If you cannot doubt your conclusions, if you cannot question your position and critically examine your belief, then you are lost.

*Avoidance of personal responsibility. You really can’t be personally responsible for yourself and your actions if you’re counting on a book of mythology to do it for you.  Religion tells you what to think and what to do, it is all too common for people to admit that without religion, they’d be totally amoral animals.

*Black and white, right or wrong, simplistic thinking. I think this is a hallmark of religious thinking, where something is good or bad, based on one’s beliefs, not on one’s critical thinking skills.  Believers think gods declare things sins and people embrace that idea without ever bothering to think about it intellectually.  The whole of religious thinking is very simplistic, by-the-book faith-based nonsense.

*Obsessive adherence to rules, regulations, routines, rituals; scrupulosity. Lots of theists simply adopt a life of ritual, going to church at a certain time, bowing for prayer at a certain time, they aren’t thinking about what they’re doing, religion encourages a life of habit, not thought.

*Bibliolatry – a worship of spiritual texts often to the point of manipulation or distortion. How many times have you heard “The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it”?  There are tons of theists who have no thoughts of their own, they can only throw around Bible or Qur’an verses to answer any question.  They’ve been brainwashed by these books.

*Unwillingness to accept ideas that may present conflicts or challenges to beliefs. How many theists simply reject anything that disagrees with their beliefs out of hand, not because they’ve carefully considered the points, but because it makes them uncomfortable to think they might possibly be real?

*Miraculous (magical) thinking that God will make it right (or fix the problem). Theists expect God to come along and solve all their problems, how many do you know that are on their knees constantly, praying for everything from winning lottery tickets to finding their missing car keys?  God becomes a solution to all problems and if the problems aren’t solved, they will rationalize some reason why God doesn’t want it solved.

*Unrealistic financial contributions. Theists give absurd amounts of money to their churches, the more fundamentalist that you are, the more likely you are to give money above and beyond your financial means.  Televangelists are famous for taking advantage of people, encouraging them to send in as much money as they can, all the while living the life of luxury off of the gullible.

*Progressive detachment from the “real” world. I’m sure you’ve seen those stupid “Not of this world” bumper stickers, there are people who seriously think that they don’t belong here, they’re just biding their time until they die and can get on with “real life”.  This is a completely delusional position, yet it is incredibly common among the religious.

*Rejection of individuals on the basis of differing beliefs, gender, race, and performance of rituals. Religions, by and large, are xenophobic.  They hate those that are different than them and belittle anyone who doesn’t fall into their little clique.  Racism, sexism and other forms of irrational hatred and distrust are very commonplace among the religious, not because they have any rational reason to think so, but because they’ve rationalized their way around it by declaring God’s stamp of approval.

*Inability to laugh at religious (or sexual) humor. Shooting cartoonists, burning down abortion clinics, the religious really have no sense of humor when it comes to their religious beliefs.  They lack the ability to step back and evaluate things from an outsider’s perspective.

*Believing that physical pleasure is evil and that sex is dirty. The religious are, by and large, afraid of sex, they have wrapped a large portion of their religious beliefs around sex and turned it into a means for control.  Some of this comes from the church leadership, people who make a living being a spokesman for God.  Some of it comes from a primitive understanding of the world around us.  Either way, if  your religion tells you sex is horrible and puts a ton of rules on it, you’re probably believing something ridiculous.

If three or more of those apply to you, you are addicted to your religious beliefs in an unhealthy way and probably need to seek professional help.

Theists Clueless About the Supernatural

Voltaire QuoteSomeone called a recent Atheist Experience and said that that they didn’t understand Matt’s position that science cannot prove the supernatural.  In fact, he argued that science could and gave an example.  What if, he said, we found out that people could pray and invoke magical words that would make their wishes and dreams come true.  Of course, such a thing is absurd, but what he was hoping for wasn’t rational and clearly he never thought out the fact that even if such a thing happened, it still wouldn’t prove the supernatural, it would only prove that something happens, not what caused it to happen.  This is the eternal problem with theists and supernaturalism:  it’s never well defined and can never be proven.

A lot of this goes back to a recent post of mine about knowledge.  Unless we can actually show a direct causal link between an event and a claimed cause, we can never determine whether or not that cause is actually responsible for the event.  In almost all cases, the best we can say, at least at the moment, is that we just don’t know what caused it.  Our lack of knowledge is not license to just make something up.  Until we can demonstrate that the supernatural exists in any meaningful way, we cannot simply attribute things we don’t understand to supernatural causes, any more than we can simply decide that any answers we can’t immediately answer were actually caused by leprechauns.

But theists don’t get this no matter how many times you explain it, even in the simplest terms.  I’m beginning to think that most of them are simply incapable of setting aside their blind faith for even a moment so they can step back and look at their beliefs rationally.

This reminds me of a recent discussion I had with a fundamentalist who was only too happy to explain exactly what God wanted and how God thought.  How he knew any of this, I had no idea and he was loathe to explain it, except to say that it says some things in the Bible.  Well how did the people who wrote the Bible know these things?  Where did they get their information?  And how did this theist know things that God wanted that didn’t appear in the Bible?  Of course, he was just translating his own wants and dreams into “God wants this” but he’ll never admit it.  These people “just know” that God is real  but can’t back up their supposed knowledge with anything resembling critical thinking, skepticism or rationality. It “just is” and they’ll never change their minds.

That’s one thing that really confuses me.  How are these things so easy for atheists to see, yet so impossible for theists to acknowledge about their own beliefs?  Are they so totally self-deluded that they are blinded to what’s right before their eyes? You get theists who will scream up and down that they are rational, yet seem to have no clue what the word actually means. They will pretend to approach their beliefs logically but once you point out all of the fallacies in their faith, they will explode and become an emotional wreck.  I had one theist recently redefine the word “correct” to mean that it “accurately reflects the beliefs of the religion in question”.  That makes the word “correct” totally meaningless because everyone’s beliefs are automatically accurate to what they believe, it’s a circular proposition.  How do they not get any of this?

It’s just more frustration with the theistic human species for me.  I don’t get how these people operate. Can someone please shed some light for me?

Logic Escapes Christians

Logic FailI know this is like a broken record, but lots of theists out there, Christians particularly in this example, just don’t have the slightest clue what logic is.  I had someone argue that there is an objective morality because, assuming God exists, then such a morality is a characteristic of God.

Says who?

Let’s look at an example of this.  Let’s say you had never seen a cheetah, you had no idea what a cheetah was.  I came to you and told you that one of the defining characteristics of a cheetah was that it ran really fast.  You could ask me how I know this and I could take you to see a cheetah and you could see it run really fast.  You could, and should, ask me how I know that this claim I’m making is actually true and it would be on my shoulders to demonstrate how I came to this knowledge.  Even if I wasn’t able to take you to see a cheetah first hand, I could show you all kind of videos online, books, expert testimony, etc. And you could, and again should, ask how those experts came by their knowledge and the same rules would apply.  Eventually, those experts would have to get back to actually having a way of seeing a cheetah in action or studying the structure of a cheetah or something whereby they could have rationally gained that knowledge.

Claims about gods don’t work that way.  Theists cannot produce any rational means of coming by the information they claim to have, they cannot show that the gods that they claim are real actually operate the way they assert.  There are no experts that can show that they have achieved such knowledge through any demonstrable means.  There is no way of demonstrably differentiating between a real characteristic of a god and an invented one.  You cannot go see a god and find out if the claims made about it are actually so.

This kind of thing goes right over the head of theists.  There’s some circuit in their head that insists that their gods are exactly  as they imagine them to be, they’re entirely unable to contemplate the possibility that they have no way whatsoever to know if their gods are real or what they might actually be like.  In that way, it is exactly like an imaginary friend and that’s important.

Seriously, how many times have you had a theist tell you in complete confidence exactly what God is like and how God would react in every possible situation, but can’t explain how it is that they know any of this?  Oh, they might say they read it in the Bible, but again, they can’t describe how the people who wrote the Bible came by their knowledge either.  It’s just magic!  Or maybe it’s personal revelation!  Unfortunately for them, there’s no way of telling the difference between personal revelation and just making something up and again, they’re left with empty, un-demonstrable claims that nobody with the slightest grasp of reason ought to take seriously.

That’s probably why they buy into it.  Zero reason skills whatsoever.  And they wonder why we laugh at their absurd beliefs.

Opinions vs. Statements of Fact

fact opinionThe recent discussion on natural rights has resulted in yet another concept that libertarians and others of their ilk don’t seem to get.  See, there was one libertarian who was honest and admitted that “natural rights” was just his opinion.  Well no, it’s really not because for every single natural-rights advocate I’ve ever come across, it’s never stated as an opinion, it’s stated as a fact.  There is a difference.

An opinion would be “it is my opinion that everyone has these particular rights”.  A statement of fact is “everyone has these particular rights”.  In close to 100% of cases that I’ve encountered, natural-rights advocates have said the latter and I’m only hedging because I’ve never seen anyone say the first, I’m just giving the benefit of the doubt.  Even our libertarian who admits that it’s his opinion, stated it as a fact and when I pointed this out to him, he didn’t correct his error.

What he did do, though, is declare that it was a “core value” and therefore, not open to debate.  Wrong.  Everything is open to debate.  Absolutely everything, without exception.  If you cannot provide a compelling case for your arguments, no matter what you want to call your position, you lose.  He says, though, that no core values can be defended, that’s the nature of a core value.  I call bullshit.  All of my “core values” are defensible, I can argue why I think they are important, why they have an important impact on society and why they ought to be in place.  I just don’t claim that any of them are necessarily true or that everyone actually respects or recognizes them because clearly, they do not.

The natural-rights crowd doesn’t do that though.  They pretend, and most are actually convinced, that these things are actually so and in that, it places them in the same camp as the religious, who are similarly supremely convinced of their own delusions.  In fact, I’ve run into plenty of theists who claim that they don’t have to defend their “faith”, just because it’s faith.  No, the only way to avoid having the burden of proof for your views is to not talk about your views.  The moment you bring them up, you’re automatically on the hook for defending them. That’s the way rational debate works, you don’t get to just opt out.

Maybe if both the libertarians, at least those who are natural rights advocates, and the religious figured that out, we might have more productive debates.  Instead, we’re just left with the religiously and politically faithful demanding things they cannot show to be true and the rest of us are left shaking our heads.

I Don’t Care What You Believe

Seek_Truth_by_BeautifullyEvilIn any debate with a theist, there is a never-ending problem, they are only too happy to tell you what they believe, what they have faith in, but they are very hesitant, if not completely incapable of telling you why they believe the things they believe and why you ought to do so as well.  I’m not going to argue that some people have faith, certainly that’s true for a large portion of the population, but whether or not that faith is well-founded is another question entirely and one that we need to address.

What I find most disturbing is the unfortunate reality that some people just don’t care if what they believe is true or not.  So long as it makes them feel good, so long as it gives them hope, nothing else matters.  They will argue with you that caring about the reality of a belief is not only not important, but entirely irrelevant if it gives them confidence and allows them to live a happy life, yet I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth.  Comfort, based on a nonsensical belief, is faith placed in a lie and as such, doesn’t actually demonstrably improve one’s life.

And that’s the issue. We’ve seen all of the bad things that these false beliefs can do, it just takes a look through the Religious Horror Show to see story after story of awful things caused by and done in the name of religion.  All the time in the world spent on one’s knees, hoping and wishing and dreaming and praying, it doesn’t bring any demonstrable positive results to one’s life.  It doesn’t get you a job.  It doesn’t put a roof over your head. It doesn’t make you any smarter and it certainly doesn’t make you more rational.  It just wastes your time, talking to yourself, while your life passes you by.

I’ve used a tagline for many years now, “There is nothing demonstrably true that religion can provide the world that cannot be achieved more rationally through entirely secular means.”  I’ve yet to find anyone who can demonstrate a fault in that statement.  At best, and most pathetically, I’ve had people claim they just don’t care about truth, they just want to flood their brains with those feel-good chemicals that I’ve talked about in the past and revel in the emotion without worrying about the reality of it all.  There is nothing worthwhile that religious belief gives us that we can’t get just as well or better without religion.  Religion is just a bandage that gets slapped over problems that stops us from finding real answers and demonstrable solutions that actually help people.  In fact, the “good” that comes from religion is like the “good” that comes from a battered wife staying with her abusive husband.  “But he loves me!”  Sure he does.  But while she’s getting the feeling of being loved, she’s still getting the shit beat out of her and she’s rationalizing her way around the abuse for the emotions she’s desperately seeking. The same is true of religion.  Sure, it might make people feel good to think that Jesus loves them, but the reality is that there’s an insidious mind poison seeping into their brains all the time they’re internally hugging their imaginary friend.  It’s killing their ability to think rationally and critically about their beliefs and it’s opening them to even more absurd woo beliefs that studies have clearly shown, the religiously-addled are more likely to embrace.

So no, I don’t care what you believe.  I don’t care what you want to be true.  I don’t care what makes you feel good and, truth be told, neither should you.  You should actually care what’s true, even if it makes you feel awful, just because it is true.  Your emotional well-being is not paramount.  What makes you feel good isn’t important. Your job, as a supposedly mature, intelligent, rational human being, is to deal with the world as it really is, not to candy coat it in religious goo, brightly colored and scented but ultimately empty.  You ought to be better than that and if you’re not, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Belief and Faith

tanya-lurmann
T.M. Lurmann

There was an article, written by T. M. Luhrmann, an anthropology professor, about belief and faith in Christianity, although I’m sure that you could apply her thoughts to just about any religion.  In it, she says that she’s approached by what she describes as “university-educated liberals”, and asked things like Why do people believe in God? What is our evidence that there is an invisible agent who has a real impact on our lives? How can those people be so confident?  She says that they’re deep and intellectual questions but she doesn’t seem to think that they’re important questions.  She’d rather focus on a believer’s emotional reaction to God than on evidence whether God actually exists.

This is where we part company entirely.  To be certain, I understand her views, coming from a more evangelical background myself, but I would argue that it is more important to believe demonstrably true things than it is to believe things just because they give us a good feeling.  I recently wrote an article about brain chemistry and how we’ve evolved to seek out positive confirmation of our actions through “happy chemicals” being released in our brains.  It’s very likely that religion is part of a primitive evolutionary system that helped build strong communities.  It’s no doubt in the same category of beliefs that gave us racism and sexism and other in-group/out-group biases that kept people with similar characteristics together and kept outsiders away.  That’s one of the most prevalent characteristics of religion, after all.  Wars have been continually fought over which imaginary sky friend people believe in.

Lurmann argues that different churches have different views, something that’s certainly true, but it doesn’t mean that any of those views are actually true or worthwhile.  I think that’s the most important thing that we need to address when it comes to belief and faith.  Imagine a wide variety of churches who worship the sun.  They bow down to it as it travels across the sky every day, each of them have different ideas about what the sun is.  Some think it’s a god riding a fiery chariot, some think a god is throwing a flaming ball for his god-dog to chase. There are a wide variety of beliefs to choose from, unfortunately, all of them are factually wrong.  It doesn’t matter how much emotional comfort adherents get from these beliefs, it doesn’t matter how safe and secure their faith makes them, it doesn’t matter how much community or social stability these churches provide, the fact remains that each and every single believer is factually incorrect in their beliefs.  Just like Christians.

In reality, as Lurmann says, many Christians (and other theists for that matter), simply wish to pretend that God is real, just because the thought makes them feel good and people often become religious, not because of their belief, but because of the accoutrements that surround that supposed belief.  You go to church, they talk about believing in God, that causes your God beliefs to be reinforced and that brings you back to church the next week. It’s little more than group-think and it seems that Lurmann agrees with that idea.  It isn’t about God being real, it’s about believers chasing that dose of feel-good brain chemistry over and over again.

But if we understand this, how can we continue to support the group delusion that is religion?  Lurmann says it helps believers get through their day, but is that something that is psychologically sound?  Is clinging to a falsehood, just because it pumps those “happy chemicals” into our brain, the best idea, or should we actually care about what we allow into our skulls?  American slave owners and white supremacists believed that they were superior to non-whites.  It gave them a good feeling.  It flooded their system with Serotonin, which gave them a natural high. The Germans, following WWI, needed someone to feel superior to, that someone was the Jews.  Much was made over the supposed Aryan superiority and this made the German people happy.  In both cases, this led to atrocious acts of evil and cruelty.  In both cases, the “superior” people were just wrong.  Had the people simply been willing to believe the best supported ideas, to reject absurdity and not care what made them happy, but to care about what was actually true, it is unlikely that the horrors of slavery and the Holocaust would ever have happened.

Religion isn’t any better.  Muslims, in the form of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban and other groups, are murdering innocent people just  because they worship the wrong version of their sky fairy.  Christian groups are no more innocent, the same goes for Buddhists and Hindus and virtually any other religion you can name.  If all of these theists would reject that chemical high and actually care if the things they believed were true, this violence would likely not happen.

Faith is not a virtue, belief in things not factually true is nothing to be proud of.  Whether or not we can simply stop people from feeding the brain chemistry machine, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn these practices as irrational and not in keeping with critical thinking.  The theists won’t care, but they’re still wrong.

 

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #61

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After a week off, we hit the ground running and talk about voter fraud, Hobby Lobby, creationism in the public schools and Pat Robertson’s destruction fetish.  Then we go on to talk about the death penalty and give it two thumbs up.  Come on and listen, you know you want to.

Why the “Faith in Naturalism” Argument is So Ridiculous

NaturalismI got this earlier on Twitter, a theist claiming that “materialism/naturalism is held together by as many assumptions as any religion”.  So I asked him to present any evidence for anything outside of materialism/naturalism and he promptly turned tail and ran away without another word. This is pretty typical and it betrays the stupidity of holding such a position, it’s simply not defensible in any way.

See, science didn’t pick naturalism out of the blue and decide it would reject every other option, materialism is the only option that we have for which there is evidence.  In fact, every shred of evidence we have points to materialism as it’s source.  It’s not a random choice by scientists who seek to deny other equally valid options, it’s the only option that we actually know exists.

I often ask theists who demand that the supernatural be given “equal time” where their evidence for the supernatural is.  After all, if they are convinced that it is actually real, they ought to have been convinced of it rationally, right?  That takes evidence.  Where is it?  They never have an answer. They certainly claim that the supernatural is real but how do they know?  Not believe, know.  The answer is, they don’t know, they have no basis whatsoever for making that claim of knowledge and if all they have is blind faith, how is their belief in the supernatural any more reasonable than someone who believes in Harry Potter-style magic?  All both sides have to do is define their beliefs as beyond validation and both “win”, right?  No, of course not, you can’t just define things however you like and expect people to take you at your word.  I’ve talked about that before, if you’re going to assign characteristics to a thing, you have to have some means of determining if that thing actually has those characteristics.  The only exception are things that are wholly made up, literary characters, etc.  If that’s what they want to admit their gods are, I’m fine, invent whatever characteristics you like for them but stop claiming they are actually real.

We can, of course, turn this around on the theists.  When they claim that science is wrongly rejecting claims of the supernatural because it has no evidence, we can ask them why they wrongly reject claims for the existence of thousands of gods because they have no evidence.  A Christian should not deny the existence of Krishna, just because they can find no reason for Krishna to exist.  In fact, they can’t even use their belief in God to do so, that’s an artificial bias.  This is really where religion falls apart and I think it’s ironic that so many theists are making false  accusations against both other religions and against science when all of it strikes them directly on the forehead if they were honest about it.  The level of hypocrisy that I see among the religious is just ridiculous but no matter how many times you explain it to them, they refuse to see it because it makes them uncomfortable.

It’s really why debating the theist is becoming more and more pointless, not only are they unaware of their own shortcomings, they insist on projecting them onto others.  Where do we find rational, intelligent theists again?

Spelling it All Out in Religion

alphabet-blocksThis is a constant problem in religious debates and I don’t know if it’s because theists are just too stupid to get it or because they honestly don’t understand.  I do know that when I’ve tried to explain it in the past to theists, no matter how carefully I do so, they just  don’t get it and nothing changes.  Therefore I wanted to do a more well-thought-out version to explain to theists why their various tactics just don’t impress skeptics and why they shouldn’t convince theists.

Claims of Supernatural Experiences: Lots of Christians claim to have had an experience with something they cannot explain and they attribute that experience to God or Jesus or the Virgin Mary or whatever and then they present these experiences to atheists as though they should be convincing evidence.  They are not for two separate, but important reasons.

  1. Every religion claims to have these exact same experiences.  Christians claim to have them, Muslims claim to have them, Hindus claim to have them, etc.  They are, so far as we can tell, extremely similar claims, the only real difference is the claimed entity responsible.  Imagine two theists sitting in a room, a Hindu and a Christian and they’re discussing their supposed supernatural experiences.  Would you, as a Christian, accept the Hindu’s claims as evidence that Krishna is real, or would you, as a Hindu, accept the Christian’s claims as evidence that God is real? Because if you wouldn’t accept the claim from the other guy, why would you expect anyone to accept it from you?  The strength of one’s conviction has nothing to do with the validity of one’s claims.  If you cannot understand that your experience, however real and important it might be to you, has no inherent validity to anyone else, then you’re a lost cause because you cannot act rationally.
  2. More importantly though is the fact that these religious claims are not verifiable, either objectively or logically.  These claims cannot be demonstrated whatsoever.  Let’s use an analogy.  In a courtroom setting, the lawyers are trying to demonstrate that Bob murdered Joe.  We have a demonstrable fact:  Joe is dead.  He’s been hacked up with a cleaver.  This is what actually happened and we can prove it by producing Joe’s dead body.  However, to be able to link Bob to the crime, prosecutors have to produce a chain of causality, each link coming together to show that Bob actually did kill Joe.  The lawyers might argue that Bob hated Joe and produce witnesses to that effect.  In fact, Bob might have told someone that he wanted to kill Joe and that person could be put on the stand.  They could produce credit card receipts that Bob purchased the cleaver at Walmart.  They could come up with evidence that Bob and Joe were at the site of the murder together, they could find Bob’s fingerprints on the handle and find witnesses that heard or saw the crime take place.  All of this establishes that Bob did, in fact, kill Joe.  There are tons of little pieces of objective, demonstrable evidence that links Bob to Joe’s murder.  That’s how rational arguments are built and it would lead to the conviction of a murderer.  However, theists don’t do this.  They will describe something that they assert happened, some experience they cannot explain, and then they will make the claim that God was somehow responsible.  How do they know? Where is that causal link drawn?  A theist is the lawyer, the skeptics are the jury.  It is their job to produce that evidence to show that their experience actually comes from their claimed cause.  If they cannot do so, the jury is going to come back with a “not guilty” response.  If the lawyer in our above case walked into court and said “Bob killed Joe but I can’t produce any evidence that he did it or any reason he might have committed the crime, in fact, I can’t even prove that Bob is real, I just read about him in a book, but I have faith that he did it!” he’d be thrown out of the courtroom.

In the end, no matter how much you believe in your mystical experience, it isn’t going to convince anyone else because you cannot show that it happened how you claim it happened.  In fact, I’d argue that you cannot even demonstrate that it happened how you think it happened to yourself.

Holy Books:  While you might value what it says in the Bible or the Qu’ran or the Vedas or whatever other book you hold holy, just because you believe it doesn’t necessarily make it so.  All this requires is the ability to step back and realize that every other religion on the planet, with every other holy book on the planet, thinks the exact same thing you do.  The Hindus value the Vedas and think that the Bible is a pile of crap. The Scientologists value Dianetics and think that both the Bible and the Vedas are a pile of crap.  You can go on and on and on through all of the religions until you realize that people who believe in the Bible are not significantly different than people who believe in the Vedas or people who believe in Dianetics.  Once you understand why you don’t take their claims that their books are authoritative, you’ll understand why they don’t take your claims about your book seriously either.  Atheists don’t take any of these claims seriously because none of these books, whether you like it or not, have been actually demonstrated to be factually true.  In fact, the overwhelming majority of them have been shown to be factually false and that includes books like the Bible and the Qu’ran.  No matter how you spin your stories, no matter how hard you try to rationalize away the problems with your books, they still remain.  Your belief to the contrary really means nothing, it all comes down to what you can prove, not what you believe.  Speaking of belief, that leads to our next section.

No-amount-of-belief-makes-something-a-fact-James-Randi-250x166

Faith:  The fact is, no matter how much the religious wish it was otherwise, that faith doesn’t impress anyone and if the religious were honest about it, they’d understand why this is the case.  Clearly, just having faith in a thing does not automatically make that thing true, otherwise every religion would have to be true because they all have people who are faithful.  This is problematic when Christians, for example, think that they have some special kind of faith that makes their own beliefs true, while every other religion is somehow deluded and thus wrong.  They refuse to admit the possibility that some other religion could be true and their own faith could be delusional and thus wrong.  It’s not something they’re willing to even consider and that is, by it’s very nature, irrational.  Anyone who is irrational is simply not worth debating with because no conclusion, outside of their very strongly-held faith, can be agreed upon.

appeal-to-ignorance-god-did-itThe Argument From Ignorance:  This is arguably the most common logical fallacy perpetrated by the religious and the one that they understand the least.  I’m going to try to explain it in as plain and simple language as I can but I fear that for most theists, it won’t make a difference.  They can’t understand or, more properly, won’t understand because to understand the Argument from Ignorance is to be required to admit what they’ve been doing wrong all along.  Simply put, the Argument from Ignorance occurs when an individual takes an event that they do not understand the actual cause of and, because they are uncomfortable not knowing the cause, they simply assign one that makes them emotionally comfortable.  It’s like saying “I was in a traffic accident, I don’t understand how I survived, therefore angels saved me.”  Unfortunately, as in my discussion of religious experiences above, there is no demonstrable causal link between the event and the claimed cause of the event.  It is very similar to another very similar fallacy, the Argument from Personal Incredulity, where a person cannot understand the event and has therefore convinced themselves that the only possible explanation, to which they are emotionally predisposed, must be true.  Essentially, “I don’t see how it  could be anything but X.”  It is never a matter of coming to a conclusion through a well-reasoned evaluation of logic, evidence and critical thinking, it’s always based on a lack of imagination and a whole lot of wishful thinking.  If, at any time, your explanation can be replaced with “leprechauns” or “unicorns” and have it make as much sense, then you’re doing something wrong. You can easily tell if your claims are valid if you can move, step to step, along your argument and actually show, via logic or objective evidence, that your claim is true.  In my above example about angels, ask yourself how you know it was angels.  Is it something you can prove or just something you believe.  If it’s only something you believe, you’ve failed to make your case and therefore the explanation should be rejected.  There’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know” in any situation where you actually don’t know what the explanation is. Of course, this only matters to people who are actually concerned whether what they believe is actually true in reality and, unfortunately, far too many theists fall outside of that camp.  Most theists believe for emotional reasons, not rational ones.  Those people are lost to reasonable debate and intellectual argument.

If our goal here is to reach the truth, rather than just push a theological agenda or propagate a belief, then people, especially theists, have to be willing to open up their beliefs to the most harsh criticism.  If your beliefs are actually true, you have nothing to worry about, they will be proven so in the end.  If they are not true though, if your emotional comfort is more important to you than actually believing correct things, at least be honest with yourself.  Stop pretending that your beliefs are rational or that they can stand up in a fair fight because they can’t. Trying to pass off a heartfelt belief that isn’t intellectually valid is inherently dishonest and, truth be known, atheists are really tired of debating intellectually dishonest positions presented as rational when they’re anything but.  I’m not telling you to stop believing, although certainly I think you should, I’m telling you to have some kind of understanding of what you actually believe and why, you can’t rely on atheists to school you in the basics every time you open your mouth.

The Lengths to Which Theists Will Go

JesusFacepalmI always find this funny, that theists, in a debate, will do almost anything to make their beliefs seem reasonable.  These theists will go to almost any length to suggest that either their beliefs are worthwhile or that everyone else operates on as much faith as they do.  Now usually, these people will get to a point where they just stop caring or stop responding, but occasionally you get those who just don’t know where to stop and just make their entire audience facepalm at their stupidity.  I’m sort of debating one of those right now.  I say “sort of” because I’m firmly in that facepalming mode right now, I have no idea where to go next and everyone else playing along is in the same position.

So we start talking about blind faith and how believing in something for which you can provide no objective evidence is foolish.  There had been a previous assertion that God was the only logical option for the beginning of the universe and I had pointed out that God wasn’t even an option because nobody had shown that God was actually real in the first place.  How can something that people just made up out of whole cloth be an option at all, much less the only logical option to explain an event?

So he comes back and says everyone lives by blind faith.  I asked for an example and he said that if someone in a crowded theater shouted FIRE!, you’d get up and leave the theater, whether you actually saw a fire or not.  You had faith, blind faith at that, that there actually was a fire, thus everyone lives by blind faith.  Well, no.  That’s not the way it works.  See, we all know that fire is real, we have personal experience with fire and the damage it can do.  We know that buildings, even theaters, can and do catch on fire and the most rational option, given even the possibility of a building you’re in being on fire, is to vacate the premises.  If the same guy stood up in the middle of the crowded theater and shouted TYRANNOSAURUS!, you wouldn’t move.  The possibility of a tryannosaurus rampaging through the theater is virtually nil (unless someone has developed time travel and we didn’t know it).  There’s no reason to run away, there simply isn’t an identifiable danger.

Then he tries to say that if  you were walking in the woods and you came face-to-face with Bigfoot, you would have no evidence that you had seen it, you couldn’t convince anyone else that it was actually real, but you would have plenty of evidence that would cause you to believe it happened. That failed too.  If you actually had a direct, physical encounter in the woods with Bigfoot, you could see it.  You could hear it.  You could smell it. You could potentially touch it.  If you tasted it, keep that to yourself.  You actually do have a way of subjectively measuring the experience. Granted, there are lots of  reasons why it may or may not be an encounter with an actual Bigfoot, but we’ll set those aside for the moment.  So let’s compare that experience to claimed theist experiences with a god.  First off, and I have debated literally thousands of theists over the years who have claimed to have had experiences with God, most of them actually haven’t.  They have had experiences and have attributed those experiences, without evidence, to something they label God.  There just is no direct causal link between any gods and the experience that they had.  At least with Bigfoot, even though you may not be able to tell the difference between what has been described as Bigfoot and a horribly mutated bear, at least it matches a specific description and you can attach a specific label to it, even if that label is found to be ultimately wrong in further examination.

But these God experiences, you can’t even point to a commonly held definition of what God is.  Different people have different ideas, different cultures believe in different gods and since you can’t even point to any absolute characteristics of God in these “experiences”, it’s just an assertion, nothing remotely like what we see in the Bigfoot example.  This can be clearly seen in the classical example, someone gets into a traffic accident and survives and claims that God saved them.  They completely ignore the actions of the ambulance drivers, the doctors, the nurses and the wealth of modern medical technology, they just assert that “God did it!”  They’ve just woven God into their explanation because it’s the answer that appeals to them emotionally the most.  If asked why it wasn’t Allah or Krishna or Santa Claus or a unicorn that saved them, they have no credible answers.  They don’t like those explanations so they reject them.  To this theist, just because these people think they had encounters with God means that they actually did have encounters with God.

Unfortunately for him, that’s too easy to take apart.  Drunks see the stereotypical pink elephants.  Just because they think they see these things, does that mean these things are actually real?  Of course not.  We know that excessive alcohol in the system can have detrimental effects on the brain and cause hallucinations and other similar experiences.  We also know that excessive emotions can cause a shift in brain chemistry and have similar effects.  These kind of religious hallucination are proven, without a doubt, to happen among the grossly faithful.  There are no supernatural explanations necessary.  So if a drunk can see a pink elephant that isn’t really there, why can’t a theist see a god that isn’t really there?

And that’s when he dove into the realm of the bat-shit insane.  He claimed that since we can’t prove that reality is, in fact, real, that everyone’s experiences are solely in their heads and therefore, everyone’s reality, no matter how different, are all real for them.  Of course, that really just shoots them in the head, it means that there’s no point in proselyting to anyone because while in your “reality” there might be a god, in my “reality” there might not be.  For Muslims, Allah is “real”.  For Hindus, Krishna is “real”.  For atheists, none of them are “real”.  What’s the point in trying to tell someone whose “reality” dictates that Zeus is the only god that actually, the Christian God is real?  It’s just not true!  This guy doesn’t care.  He’s whacked out of his skull and everyone on the place is pointing and laughing.  Of course this never dissuades the religious lunatics, it’s just one more reason why we, as rational people, should never take them seriously.

It’s amazing how far these people will go to protect their precious faith.

Faith is not Rational

faith_is_not_a_virtueTheists love to hold out faith like it’s a positive virtue, but in reality it isn’t.  Faith is believing something for which you have no good, objective, rational reason to think is actually true.  If you had evidence, if you had rational reasons to believe it, you wouldn’t need faith, would you?  Yet I run into theists all the time who desperately try to justify their faith.  Note I said “their faith” because the last thing these people want to do is make it seem reasonable that other people have faith in things they don’t agree with.

I came across this article from quite a way back, although I rather doubt that this individual has changed their mind since then.  It demonstrates clearly just how irrational faith is and how absurd the theist must dance around to defend their own faith while damning the faith of others.

In the article, the author tries to differentiate between blind faith and “logical, rational faith”.  I’ll present the two examples given, critique them separately and then compare and contrast thereafter.  I think this will be educational.

Blind Faith:
I am Mohammed/Buddha/Krishna/Joseph Smith etc. I am the Prophet of God/I Know the Only way to happiness/I am God himself/I have achieved Nirvana. Live your life the way I tell you to and you will go to heaven. I will not show you any physical or historical evidence. You have to take my sayings on pure blind faith. Will you join my religion or live your life according to my philosophy?
We have to recognize that this is a blatant attempt to sweep all other religions out of the “logical, rational” club.  It ignores that most of these faith claims have as much evidence as Christianity does, which is really pretty piss poor when you think about it.  It says that you cannot have physical or historical evidence for these religious beliefs, yet most of them, with the exception of Mormonism, have religious books going back, at least nearly to the time of, if not much farther than the Bible.  He acknowledges that faith is blind, yet moments later tries to make a case for faith being rational?  I think not.
In fact, I can construct a similar “argument” for Islam, which I’m sure our Christian here would totally reject, but it’s not significantly different than what he does accept.
“I am Mohammed.  I am the prophet of Allah.  I will prove to you that Allah is real by riding off to heaven on the back of a magical winged horse.  My followers saw this and wrote it down accurately, in fact, my followers all memorized my exact words (something Christians can’t claim of the disciples) so you can be certain that what you read in the Qu’ran is absolutely perfect and correct (unlike the Bible which has multiple translations that disagree).  My followers, throughout the centuries, have been willing to die for their faith, often violently, when they could have rejected Allah and not strapped on that bomb vest and lived.”
I think you’ll agree that it’s no better or worse than what follows.
Logical Rational Faith:
I am Jesus. I am God. I will prove to you that I am God by dying and raising my self from the dead. I will prove this fact to my followers first hand. They will go to their terrible gruesome deaths claiming they physically saw me die and then saw me rise again and then they physically touched me and lived with me for 40 days. All of them could have avoided their painful deaths had they admitted they were lying, but none of them did.

And I will allow you who come later to prove my Resurrection and claims, historically and archeologically. I died to pay for your sins and to allow you to live forever in my presence. When you accept me, I will send the Holy Spirit to comfort and keep you. Will you study and then accept my claims based on the evidence I provide you?

It should be utterly and painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain how completely ridiculous these statements are.  The majority of them are patently false and the rest are totally unsupported by evidence.  Let’s start at the beginning.  There is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus rose from the dead outside of claims made in the Bible.  In fact, there’s really no evidence that Jesus ever existed or had followers, the only thing we have are claims made in a book of mythology which lacks any form of objective evidence to back it up.  Further, there is no evidence that the disciples suffered gruesome deaths, we know about most of it through folk tales, many of which are not found in any written form for hundreds of years after the supposed death of the disciple.  We not only don’t have any official, eye-witnessed accounts of what happened, complete with what they supposedly said, we don’t have any court transcripts of their crimes, sentences or punishments.  This is all just blind assertion, certainly not the mark of someone being logical or rational.

There is no historical or archaeological evidence to support the existence of Jesus, much less any of the supernatural details claimed in the Bible.  There is no Roman record of Jesus’ crucifixion, in fact, there are no contemporary records of Jesus’ existence whatsoever, absolutely nobody who demonstrably lived at the time of Jesus, who could have seen him with their own two eyes, ever bothered to write it down.  He asks if I will study and then accept the claims and I have to answer no.  I have studied the claims in great detail, but not as a biased individual who has a stake in one side being right, as someone who takes the evidence and only the evidence and follows it where it leads.  Unfortunately for Christianity, the evidence does not lead to Jesus.  The evidence demonstrates, very damningly, that Jesus, the Jesus in the Bible, likely never existed at all.

So where does this leave us?  While this is probably one of the most blatantly absurd attempts at cherry picking I’ve ever run across, I don’t think it’s that uncommon of a belief.  I’m sure there are lots of theists out there who think the same thing and I don’t think they’re all Christians.  There are Muslims who think this about non-Islamic religions.  There are Buddhists who think this about non-Buddhist religions.  There are Christians who think this about non-Christian religions, but all of these groups are using the exact same illogical, irrational arguments that prove nothing more than how little they know and understand about critical thinking.

Faith is not rational, in fact, I’d argue that by it’s very definition, it cannot be rational.  To be rational, one must take the evidence, the best, most objective, most defensible evidence that exists, regardless of one’s personal, emotional feelings about it, and follow where it leads regardless of the conclusion.  You don’t start from a position that you favor and then seek out only evidence that supports your destination, you glean a destination from the whole of the available credible evidence in existence.  I hate to point it out to you theists, but the evidence doesn’t lead to your religion, or any religion, the evidence clearly and distinctly leads to the simple fact that gods, any gods, are totally unsupported in the real world.

Stop having faith and try dealing with the facts.

I’ve Had It Once And For All With Faith

FaithI’ve been part of a debate on faith recently.  Yeah, I know, it’s a waste of time, but I figured I’d try to pin down some of the fundamentalists on exactly what faith is and exactly why it was worthwhile with regard to their religious beliefs.  There was only one person involved that I figured I had any shot at all having a somewhat meaningful discussion with so I cornered him and asked him to explain why he thought faith was worthwhile and why it differed, for instance, from having faith in Lord Voldemort, since both Voldemort and God only existed in books, so far as the objective evidence goes.

He defined faith for me as:

You seem to think that faith arises from nothing and is a concept of our imagination. Faith is provoked from evidence we find in the Word, history, personal testimonies, and our own experiences with God. Faith is not placed in random, irrelevant, unsupported ideas. Faith is based on the exact opposite, that being purposeful, relevant, supported ideas and truths that we have seen and experienced. I can’t have faith that Lord Voldemort is real, because I have no evidence from history, personal testimonies, historical writings, or my own experiences with Lord Voldemort that would provoke that faith.

Yet that paragraph essentially says nothing.  Let’s disassemble it, shall we?  “Faith is provoked from evidence we find in the Word…”  What Word?  Oh sure, I know what he means, but why should that particular book be the one that they take seriously?  Why not the Qu’ran?  Why not the Vedas?  Why not the dictionary?  They can offer no rational reason why we should take one more seriously than another, or why we should take any of them seriously.  Let’s move on.  History?  That would be a great place to get actual evidence from if they actually were serious, but they’re not.  To a theist, “history” is just another word for their holy book.  We all know that there is no objective evidence that supports the supernatural events in any  holy book.  Therefore, what “history” are they talking about?  Clearly not the same evidence that any rational person would mean.  Personal testimony?  They clearly reject the personal testimony of believers in any other religion, right?  They don’t give people who believe in Allah or Vishnu or Odin the same weight as people who believe in God, for instance.  In fact, there’s tons of “personal testimony” for people who think they’ve been abducted by aliens.  Why don’t Christians across the board believe in alien visitations?  And finally, their own experiences with God?  They can’t even demonstrate God is real, how can they have experiences with him?  I’m not discounting that these people have experiences of some sort, clearly something is happening to these people.  Even our alien abductee friends are having some sort of experience.  My problem is that they are attributing it to a source without being able to actually demonstrate the experience actually came from that source.  If I had a winning lottery ticket, simply because I attributed that ticket to the loving and benevolent hand of a magical unicorn doesn’t mean it’s actually so.  Assigning an experience to an emotionally comforting cause without any objective evidence to support the claim is irrational.

Some people may ask themselves why I am very careful, when talking about evidence of any kind, to always specify “objective evidence” and not “empirical evidence”.  The two share a lot in common much of the time, although many theists simply reject empirical evidence altogether because their imaginary  friends conveniently have nothing to do with the real world.  However, I specify objective evidence because, even if the evidence isn’t necessarily physical, it can still be objective.  I often have to explain what I mean by that however so I’ll do that here.  Objective evidence is that which is openly available to anyone to examine without having to have a belief or faith in it first.  It patently excludes subjective personal experiences which are not open for independent verification or examination.  This means that the majority of claims made in the above statement will be rejected, simply because they are wholly subjective and, as I pointed out, unjustified.  I can examine the Bible and cross-reference it with external historical documents and those areas where the Bible can be corroborated independently, I’ll accept.  Those ares where it cannot, I will reject.  Interesting how it’s all the supernatural nonsense that cannot be independently validated.  I will look at personal testimony, but give it only as much weight as it can be verified by objective evidence.  If it is zero, then that’s how much I’ll take it into account.  The fact is, I’m not  trying to validate your emotionally-laden claims to make you feel good, I’m trying to determine whether what you claim is true actually is.

The problem with so many of these claims is they go entirely unchecked and unchallenged.  Theists will claim that their beliefs are factually correct because they have faith in them, yet will look at other belief systems, held by people with equally strong faith and declare them wrong because they disagree with their own faith.  A six-year-old ought to be able to see the absurdity of that position but apparently, these people cannot.

Of course, as soon as you go through all of this rigamarole, what happens?  The theist declares victory and stops talking to you.  That’s exactly what happened, although I’ve since picked things up with another theist and am going through the exact same discussion and having the same results.  How long they’ll last before they vanish into the wild blue yonder is anyone’s guess.

Faith is an idiotic concept.  Too bad it’s the centerpiece of religious delusion.

Faith is a Massive Circular Cluster-Fuck

Enduring Clusterfuck
That pretty much describes faith.

Faith is an interesting phenomenon, one that I think is clear that most theists use as an excuse, not as a reason, for believing what they believe.  It’s bad enough when they have no idea what faith actually is, it’s worse when they know full well that it’s just an excuse and they’re going to milk it for all it’s worth.

I decided to try an experiment, utilizing two theists who are notorious for this kind of thing, I decided to completely deconstruct faith.  What do they mean by faith, how to they justify faith, what kind of tests do they put on faith, etc.  I found that, to be honest, faith is an excuse that they use to rationalize beliefs which they have no good reason to hold.

One theist has got the biggest circular disaster I’ve ever seen.  To him, faith is all about trust.  Okay, I can go with that, but trust is not something that is simply given, it must be earned.  What has God done to earn any trust, especially given that you can’t prove God even exists.  Oh, but the trust has been earned, you just have to have faith!

Wait a minute.  You have to have faith that God is real to get to trust God, but in order to have that trust, you have to have faith that God is real?  Seriously? And these theists wonder why rational people think they’re stupid?

Red_Spectrum
Is there anyone who couldn’t understand this?

The other theist has declared that he cannot define what he means by faith unless I also have faith.  After all, he says, you couldn’t describe the color red to a person who had been blind since birth.

Sure I can.  Red is the hue of the long-wave end of the visible spectrum, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 630 to 750 nanometers.  You might not be able to see it, you might not be able to personally experience it but you can sure understand what it means.

The fact that they cannot define faith in terms that can be understood by people lacking faith is just proof that the word is meaningless.  It’s a wiggle word, it means only as much as they want it to mean at this exact moment and no more.  So I tried to push it.

Okay then, since they cannot actually define what faith is or how it operates, I’m going to declare my faith in the Blue Meanies.  Hell, might as well make ’em look stuff up, right?  So now that I’ve declared my faith, that must make the Blue Meanies just as reasonable and rational as God, right?  After all, I have all of the characteristics.  I have faith in something I cannot demonstrate is real, I can apply trust that I cannot validate to prove to myself that my faith is not misplaced. I am completely unable to explain to anyone else, who do not already believe in the Blue Meanies, why they should believe in the Blue Meanies.

Seems I have this faith thing down pat.

The theists don’t.  They both stopped talking to me.  Go figure.

Man Begs to Clean Cross, Sues When it All Goes Wrong

Why isn’t it God’s will that the cross came down?

Catholic David Jimenez went to St. Patrick’s Church in New York City when he found that his wife Delia had ovarian cancer, often stopping to pray before the 600-pound marble crucifix in front of the Church.  When his prayers were seemingly answered and his wife recovered in 2010, they considered it a miracle and he attributed the event to the stone cross, so he petitioned the church to be able to clean the cross as a way to thank God for his intervention.  The church initially refused but after repeated requests, they allowed Jimenez to scrub the cross.

The only problem was, the cross wasn’t well secured to it’s base and when David started cleaning it, it fell on him, crushing his leg which required amputation.  Jimenez, a Mexican immigrant with no insurance, can no longer work and is suing the church for $3 million.

Now while I sympathize with the poor guy who gets his leg crushed, let me get this straight.  He believes his wife was cured because God wanted it to happen, yet when a cross falls on his leg, the same cross he prayed to God in front of, suddenly it’s not God’s will?

I guess faith only works when it goes your way.

 

What Do You Know and How Do You Know It?

Unlike most of my posts here, where I’m generally speaking to atheists, this is a post directed squarely at theists, specifically theists who claim to “just know” that God is real.  Not only will it serve as a good primer on why unsubstantiated claims of knowledge are inherently faulty, it will give me a place to send theists who make this claim so I can stop explaining it over and over and over again.

First, I’m going to make an assumption and I want it stated plainly.  I am going to assume that anyone reading this actually gives a damn if what they believe is factually true.  It’s sad that I have to ask people if this is the case but in my experience, far too many theists are much more concerned with how their beliefs make them feel and not at all about whether or not they are true.  Ask yourself, and be honest, if evidence showed that your god was not real, would you stop believing?  If so, then continue.  If not… seek professional help, you have something wrong with you.  I honestly expect to lose a sizable chunk of theist readers right here, those people who have been taught since they were young that faith is all that matters and questioning faith for a moment will cast you into eternal perdition.

You might be wondering if I’m just quibbling over words but the answer is no.  Language is our primary means of communication, we simply cannot be understood if we use language incorrectly.  Words have meanings for a reason, without clear and concise definitions and properly used speech, there’s no point in opening your mouth.  Therefore, either the definition of “knowledge” is being misunderstood by those who are using it or it is being purposely misused in an attempt to mislead others.  The first is simple ignorance and easily corrected.  The second is outright dishonesty.  One cannot honestly use the word “knowledge” as a substitute for “belief”.  You do not “know” these things, you “believe” them.

Now that we have that out of the way, and it was important, let’s move on as hopefully rational people and ask ourselves how it is that we determine what actually is true in the real world.  Belief alone, as I’m sure most reasonable people would agree, cannot be enough.  After all, for the religious, there are people who believe in many different gods with the same fervor and faith that you have, yet you think they are wrong, just as they think you are wrong.  To take a wholly non-religious tack on this, let’s substitute unicorns for gods.  Would anyone here disagree that, no matter how much faith one has, how much blind, absolute certainty an individual possesses that unicorns are real, that does not make unicorns actually exist?  If thinking about unicorns bothers you, substitute any other entity, real or not, into the equation.  It’s clear that belief, in and of itself, doesn’t make the unreal real or the real unreal.  You can no more have faith that gravity isn’t real and somehow it becomes that way than you can that leprechauns are real and magically, they are.  Whether you like it or not, faith is irrelevant to factual reality.

Next we need to address knowledge.  Surely, you will agree that belief and knowledge are two entirely different things and need to be treated entirely differently.  Someone who says they believe that unicorns exist and someone who says they know unicorns exist are making two fundamentally different statements.  In the first, a proper response might be “why do you believe in unicorns”, but in the second, it would be “what evidence supports your conclusion?”  Knowledge is a fundamentally evidence-based claim.  It requires some basis in fact to be credible.  Knowledge is based in the real world and anyone making a legitimate claim of knowledge must be able to present a reason for such and that reason must stand up to critical evaluation.  Claiming “I know 2+2=147” is a fallacious claim, clearly 2+2 does not equal 147 and you cannot present any facts or well-reasoned argument which supports your claim.  Thus, not only is the claim itself false, your claim of knowledge regarding the claim is false.  You cannot possibly “know” what you are claiming to “know”.

The same goes for claims about gods.  It doesn’t really matter which god you’re talking about, you don’t “know” anything about any particular god in reality.  Oh sure, you might “know” things about god-characters that come from books.  I know lots of things about the character of Harry Potter, as described in the books by J.K. Rowling.  I can point to the books as my evidence for my knowledge.  However, I cannot claim that I know Harry Potter is real, I have no rational basis for making such a claim.  And neither do you.  That’s the thing, you have no objective evidence that you can provide for your claim of knowledge.

Let’s say someone runs up to you on the street and says “I know that elephants exist!”  Discounting the fact that most people have some form of experience with elephants, if you demanded how that individual knows elephants are real, they could present a wide variety of evidence, from pictures and stories to actual elephants if they wished.  They have a clear basis for making the claim of knowledge.  However, take that same individual who says “I know that Godzilla exists” and it’s a different matter.  Assuming he’s not talking about the movies, but a real, existing entity, he’s got nothing to present to you.  Yes, he can show you the films, just as the person in my above example can whip out the Harry Potter novels, but I think both of us would agree that the images in a film, or the words on a page, do not, by themselves, support the factual existence of the entity in the real world, especially if the person is trying to claim the current existence of the entity.  Once again, we’re forced to reject the claim of knowledge because it comes with insufficient evidence to support it.

That’s why you don’t “know” that your god exists either.  You cannot present any actual evidence that it’s really real.  No evidence, no knowledge.  While there may be things that you’ve seen, experiences that you’ve had, that led you to hold these beliefs, those things cannot be transmitted to anyone else.  They are, by definition, subjective.  What’s more, you’re not alone in your claims.  People of all religious faiths claim to have see things, experienced things, that cause them to “know” that their particular gods are real.  Are you willing to accept all of them at their word, that their gods are actually real, or are you willing to accept that your own claims, no different than theirs, are not evidence of factual truth?  You can’t have it both ways.

Most people don’t bother to test their own beliefs to see if they are valid.  They become emotionally attached, not only to the beliefs, but to the experiences which they use to justify the beliefs.  The majority of believers have never stopped to consider what’s actually happened to them.  They had a “mystical” experience?  Is there a more rational explanation?  Were they under the influence of altered brain chemistry?  Were they delusional?  Is there any brain damage that could account for the experience?  After all, science has known for years that many brain diseases and dysfunctions can account for spiritual experiences.  Temporal lobe epilepsy, for example, is well known to cause religious experiences for people who suffer from it.  And even if you cannot  come up with an explanation for the experience, you must examine your reasons for the reason you’ve chosen to attribute to it.  An example that gets used a lot is that of Dr. Francis Collins, currently head of the National Institutes of Health, who converted to Christianity after he saw a waterfall in the forest that was frozen into three parts.  I’m not going to try to judge Collins’ emotional state at that moment, he’s described it elsewhere, but I will say that there is no way to leap from a frozen waterfall, an entirely well-known natural phenomenon, and a specific god.  Collins, whether he likes it or not, had gone entirely off the rational reservation.

Rational thinking is like playing connect-the-dots.  You start out with an initial observation then you try to determine, following strictly logical and evidence-based steps, what caused that observation.  You cannot simply leap willy-nilly from “I saw this” to “God did it!”  Remember, we all agreed back at the beginning that the truth matters.  Illogical leap-frogging does not demonstrably get you any closer to the facts than throwing darts at a random list of “causes” on a wall.  There is a name for this kind of thinking, it is a logical fallacy called the argument from ignorance.  Simply put, it states that when one cannot identify the true nature or cause of an incident, they will simply attribute a cause, typically one which is emotionally satisfying, to the event.  For example, take Collins’ frozen waterfall.  Assume for the moment that Collins could not identify the true mechanism behind the event.  Is claiming “God did it!” any more rational than claiming “Mickey Mouse did it!”?  Maybe “Francis Ford Coppola did it!”  Unicorns?  Leprechauns?  What difference does it make what cause you arbitrarily assign, the fact remains for all of them that you simply cannot get  from “A” to “B” logically.  In reality, which we’re all concerned with here, the only proper answer in this scenario is “I don’t know”.  Not knowing is scary or disturbing for many, but it is, in fact, the only worthwhile answer to questions we do not  currently have the answer to.  Not knowing encourages us to keep looking for the truth.  Inventing an answer, assigning a cause without any rational reason to do so, discourages us from continuing to look.  After all, once you have answered your question, why look for a different answer?  If we could just eliminate the rampant use of the argument from ignorance from modern-day theological thought, we would likely eliminate the overwhelming majority of theism.  It is that pervasive.

In conclusion, you need to be honest, you don’t actually “know” that your god exists or anything about your god’s actual characteristics.  You know how your god has been described in a book, written by people who were no more knowledgeable than you.  You arbitrarily assign characteristics that you find admirable and routinely remove characteristics that become unwieldy.  Most Christian apologists once thought of God as omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omnipresent, until rational minds realized that those three characteristics could not exist together (see the problem of evil).  So, instead of throwing up their hands and admitting that God wasn’t real, they just rewrote his attributes.  They redefined God.  Maybe instead, they should have just been honest and admitted they had no clue what they were talking about and there was no reason whatsoever to think that God existed in the first place.  There isn’t, you know.  There is no evidence supporting the existence of any type of supernatural god, much less a specific deity.  It is no more likely that God exists than it is that Godzilla exists.  It’s a nice fable, a story by primitive people that modern man should have long-since outgrown.  You don’t know God exists. You have no reason to suspect God exists.  You just cling to wishful thinking, an emotional safety blanket, a universally applicable “answer” for questions you’ve not yet found a real solution to.  Maybe it’s time that you gave up that security blanket and took your first real steps out into the rational world, a world that exists whether you’re willing to acknowledge it or not.

It’s real.  Time to deal with it.

The Redefinition Game

I know this is nothing new but it’s something that I keep running into and it pisses me off to no end.  It’s largely used by theists who desperately want to gain any respectability for their beliefs by any means possible and far too often, those means are dishonest.

What I’m talking about is redefining a term to it’s widest possible meaning, declaring that everyone does that, thus it makes it okay when a theist does it for a much, much smaller definition of the term.  For example, and perhaps the most common example, is the word “faith”.  A theist will blow that word up to the widest conceivable application, that people believe things for which they cannot possibly know for certain if it’s true, declare it all to be “faith”, then contract the definition to the religious meaning of the word, believing something for which you have absolutely no evidence, and declaring that since everyone has “faith”, that religious “faith” must therefore be valid.

Is it possible to be more fallacious in one’s thinking?  Possibly not.

The term “faith”, in the way theists use it, really cannot be applied to ideas like expecting a bus to arrive at a bus stop, having one’s car start in the morning or having the sun rise tomorrow.  These are all things based not on faith but on well-reasoned, long-experienced and evidenced repetition.  Buses do arrive at bus stops.  Buses are real.  Bus drivers are paid specifically to drive a particular route and that includes stopping at a bus stop.  No faith involved.  My car starts because of physics.  I understand how the internal combustion engine works.  So long as the engine is well maintained and there’s gas in the tank, the car will start every single time you turn the key.  The sun has come up every morning for, in my case, nearly 17,000 mornings in my life.  I understand the physics involved.  The sun will continue to rise every morning so long as those physics remain in place.  There’s no faith involved.  In fact, people don’t even have to be around for any of these things to happen.  The sun rose for billions of years before humans ever existed on this planet.  Faith?  Only if you purposely misuse the term.

Then the believer will contract the term again, to “faith” in a deity.  This is faith entirely without reason, justifiable experience or evidence, this is little more than wishful thinking, emotional coddling provided by the belief in an imaginary father figure in the sky who will watch out for you and promise you eternal happiness conveniently beyond the realm of critical evaluation.  This is not “faith” that is even remotely similar to that discussed before, it is the application of a term to two different things and the assertion that said application makes the two things the same.

I suppose we could take that same line of thinking and apply it to different aspects of life.  Let’s try, shall we?  All living things desire to reproduce.  In fact, it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of living organisms.  Humans, even when they are not trying to reproduce, enjoy having sex.  It is a recognized and acceptable past time throughout the world.

Therefore, we ought to accept necrophilia or bestiality.

Um… right.  That’s a leap, isn’t it?  But it’s no more a leap than the theists attempt above.

Ultimately, it’s all dishonest, but isn’t that what religion is at it’s core?  Even if they don’t recognize it or do it purposely, religion is full of fallacy and wishful thinking.  Isn’t that something we, as a supposedly rational species, ought to be working to stamp out?