Tag Archives: stupidity

Axiom For The Win!

It seems to me that there are a few topics that lend themselves to axiomatic victories.  People who argue these aren’t really interested in demonstrating that they are true, they simply insist that they are and move on from there.  They start with the conclusion that everything they believe is right and look for evidence, if they bother at all, that supports that foregone conclusion.  By and large, these conclusions are entirely emotional.

So let’s take a look at a couple of these arguments.  This is by no means a complete list, many emotionally-based positions take for granted their own correctness, whether they can actually demonstrate it or not.

Religion:  The granddaddy of them all, religion asserts the existence of an unseen and undetectable god as the basis for everything they believe.  How do they know?  They just do.  They can provide no evidence, they can concoct no rational argument, they just believe without the slightest shred of proof and expect everyone else to do the same.

Presuppositionalism:  It deserves it’s own separate category.  Not only does it suffer from all the weaknesses of religion, but it makes a huge unwarranted assumption on it’s own.  It teaches that everyone knows God is real and that without a belief that God is real, no position can be argued for.  Perhaps more than any other, this is a shining example of the stupidity of the axiomatic win.

Libertarianism:  The central core of libertarian thought is the “natural right”.  They’re absolutely certain that they exist, they just can’t reason their way to them.  They cannot produce evidence for them.  They’re just damn sure they’re real though.  I did have one person, and this is where the title of this article comes from, declare that “natural rights” are a libertarian axiom, therefore he didn’t have to actually demonstrate them, they were simply defined to be true.

Antinatalism:  This is the newcomer to the list but it’s just as nutty as the rest.  It starts with the unjustified claim that all suffering is bad.  Well, not all suffering, just human suffering.  Why just human suffering?  I don’t think they really know, it all comes off like a bunch of emotionally-stunted, hippie-spewing nonsense.  If they were honest, they’d say all suffering was wrong and preach planet-wide Armageddon, but they don’t.

By definition, an axiom is a statement which is universally accepted as true and thus, not under debate.  It can only be an axiom so long as everyone involved accepts it.  If anyone disagrees, then it ceases to be an axiom and it must be defended like any other claim.  These views are not acceptable to the emotionally axiomatic above. These people all approach their beliefs not only wearing their emotions on their sleeve but covered head-to-toe in them.  There is no rational thought in any of these positions, they’ve entirely given up the intellectual high ground for arguments that are little better than “I’m right, so there!”

Anyone who resorts to axioms as a means to an automatic, immediate victory has lost before they begin.  That’s not how the real world works and certainly not how science works.  Could you imagine a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal starting off stating as an axiom that they were right and anyone who disagreed was a Nazi? That’s absurd, yet essentially the same thing that happens with these axiom-rich beliefs.  Certainly these are not all of the ridiculous positions that use this tactic, they exist simply to highlight the absurdity of it all.  You can’t start with an unproven and highly controversial statement and then base your entire argument and belief system off of that statement.  It just doesn’t work that way.

But then again, if these groups were rational, they’d already know that, wouldn’t they?

At Least Accomodationists Are Consistently Stupid

crying-baby-300x300
Nobody should ever feel bad for any reason, WAAAAAAH!!!

Got into a debate with an accomodationist over on Twitter today after they started posting to the #atheism hashtag that what people believe is true for them.  I disagreed with the sentiment, truth is only true if it’s actually true.  People who believe false things, no matter what they believe, still believe in falsehoods.  And so began an exchange that lasted a couple of hours and still makes my head hurt.  Anyhow, this idiot who goes by @Harrison_Carr, showed me once again why accomodationism is really, really, really stupid.

First off, he was not at all clear on his ideas, which I suppose is par for the course.  At first, it appeared that he was arguing for some form of solipsism since he kept insisting that whatever someone believed, no matter how crazy it was, it was actually “true for them”.  That’s his phrase.  Of course, most solipsists say the same thing so I can be forgiven for being confused, but even after we sorted it out, he kept going back to that phrase over and over.  However, I eventually realized that he wasn’t talking about individual realities, but that he didn’t think anyone ought to be corrected or criticized because they won’t change their minds no matter what we do.  They’re deluded so we ought to leave them alone to live in their private insanity because nobody should ever feel bad about what they believe.

So I argued that, based on his ideas, we equally shouldn’t argue against racism and sexism or anything else for fear that the believers in those things might feel bad. And you know something?  He agreed!  We shouldn’t make racists feel bad for believing that non-whites (or non-blacks, etc.) are inferior!  It’s fine and dandy!  Of course, the fact that someone’s beliefs inform their actions really doesn’t seem to phase him, the idea that the religious are more likely to vote to ban gay marriage, teach creationism in schools or discriminate against other religions doesn’t seem to bother him at all.  There’s a complete disconnect in his mind between someone’s beliefs, religious and otherwise, and their actions and we know, for a demonstrable fact, that’s just not the case.

Apparently, making anyone feel bad for any reason whatsoever is a horrible thing.  If this idiot had been around in the mid 1800s, we’d still have slavery because he wouldn’t want to offend the slave owners.  Luckily, some people had the balls to stand up and do what was right.

We just went around and around, he just couldn’t get the idea that objectively correct ideas are important in and of themselves.  People ought not believe anything without significant objective evidence that it’s actually so and the fact that many people are ignorant of that simple fact doesn’t change the reality of the statement.  He ran on pure, unfettered emotion without an ounce of intellectual, rational or logical thought.  So long as people felt good, it didn’t matter what nonsensical mind poison ran through their head.  It was all I could do not to burst out into a Morris Albert song.

Once again, I don’t get these people who can be so totally uncritical of not only their own position, but of everyone else’s as well.  This guy would probably be out waving happily to a Neo-Nazi march or a Klan rally. Can’t make those people feel bad either, can we?  I wish I got how people could be so mind-numbingly stupid but I just can’t.  Anyone care to explain?

Expanding my “Stupid People Are Stupid” Fallacy

stupid-people-postersA long time ago, I suggested a new logical fallacy, a reverse, if you will, on the argumentum ad populum fallacy, in which ideas are rejected solely because they are unpopular.  I’ve seen many people arguing this recently and I thought I ought to expand and expound on my ideas. Therefore, I present the “stupid people are stupid” fallacy for your approval.

Ultimately, the heart of this fallacy, and it applies specifically to human behavior, is that the individual will reject any idea as inherently unworkable in any social situation because “stupid people are stupid”, or, that people make foolish decisions and therefore, holding anyone accountable to any standard which they might not choose themselves, is useless.

Where this came about was in a discussion over divorce and someone came along and said the divorce rate could be blamed on American women being money-grubbing  bitches, out to sponge off of men, etc.  So I pointed out that I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman for more than 20 years, my parents were married once, at least until my father died, for more than 35 years and my wife’s parents have been together for more than 50 years so far, in fact, I don’t know a single married conservative couple that hasn’t been in a solid, lifetime committed relationship.  Not a one.  In fact, the only person I know that’s gotten divorced was my sister to her first husband and that’s because he was a child with no ambition and she didn’t want to live with his parents.  It was a bad decision, made in haste, but her second marriage, she did things right and they’ve been together for more than 10 years now and still going strong.

This is an argument that is used a lot by liberals when it comes to having any kind of personal responsibility or expectations.  I see it a lot with regard to the poor.  Oh no, the poor can’t be expected to live responsible lives! Far too many of them just won’t do it, therefore we shouldn’t expect anyone to!  Here’s a news flash for you people, the refusal to do the right thing doesn’t stop it from being the right thing.  The refusal to be responsible doesn’t stop responsibility from being the most workable and effective means.  No matter how big the group of stupid, irresponsible, irrational people are, that doesn’t address the argument that people ought to be intelligent, rational and responsible at all.  All in all, this is little more than a pathetic liberal whine “but we don’t wanna!”

Fuck you.

This is really where the “stupid people are stupid” argument becomes the reverse of argumentum ad populum. Instead of a position being thought true because lots of people believe it, it’s the assertion that a position must be false because people are too stupid to go for it.  You see it in education.  Everyone ought to go to school and get educated.  Oh, but the poor are too stupid, they don’t want to go to school, waaaah!  You see it with crime and punishment.  Everyone ought to follow the law or accept the consequences thereof.  Oh, but some people don’t like the law, they want to do what they want, why not let them?  Waaaaah!  You see it with religion.  People ought to closely examine their beliefs and only believe things for which there is significant objective evidence.  Oh, but religion makes people feeeeeel better!  You can’t expect them to be rational!  Waaaaaah!

Yes I can and I do and I think society ought to do the same.  We’re headed for a major disaster on this planet when there are too many stupid people who think the world owes them a living.  They don’t have to do anything, the government will put food on the table and a big screen in the living room and all they have to do to get more is whine.  However, they’re wrong.  Stupid people are the enemy.  Lazy people are the enemy.  They ought to be scorned and looked down on, we ought to do everything we  can to wipe out stupid people.  The only way our society will survive, much less thrive, is to raise the bar and make stupid people claw their way up to it, not the other way around.

I’m tired of stupidity.  Who is with me?

Snakes Don’t Listen to Jesus

jamie-coots-pastorWe’ve talked about this a bit on the podcast, but it should come as no surprise that one of the people involved in the Snake Salvation reality show has been killed handling venomous snakes.

Pastor Jamie Coots of Kentucky’s Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, was killed when the snake that he was handling bit him.  Coots refused medical treatment, convinced that God would save him.  He was wrong.

Jamie Coots last wish was that his parishioners, what few of them there actually are, would take his snakes and handle them over his coffin and some even considered it.  “I knew people were wanting to do church and we couldn’t do that in the funeral home because that would be breaking the law,” said his son, Cody. “I didn’t want to disrespect the funeral home by saying ‘hey, we’re wanting to have snakes here’.”

Of course, this doesn’t stop any of these crazies from continuing their idiotic practices.  Son Cody Coots has taken over the church and says he will continue to handle snakes as his father did.  Maybe he’ll end up dead, just like dear old dad.

Now I know this is the deep south, where people aren’t that bright and religion is the norm, but I can never understand why the authorities refuse to enforce the law on these people.  Owning venomous snakes is a crime. The snakes at both Coots’ and his Snake Salvation co-star Pastor Andrew Hamblin from Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, TN, have been confiscated many times and they just go catch more.  A judge in 1995 refused to allow Coots to be prosecuted for his practices because he decided that no one should be prosecuted for their religious faith.  People have died in their churches before, in fact the judge’s ruling came in response to the 1995 death of Melinda Brown, 28, of Parrotsville, TN, who was killed following a bite from a large rattlesnake in Coots’ church.  I guess religion means more than life to these people and it’s sad.

Ah well, here’s hoping for a lot more snakebites, I guess that’s one way to weed out the religious idiots.  One thing nobody is saying is that apparently, Mark 16:15-18 isn’t true or Jamie Coots wasn’t worthy.  Maybe the church ought to try chugging a big bottle of poison too, see how that works out for them?  I’d pay to see the carnage.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1-BhaX5GSE’]

Religious Stupidity Squared

The Stupid It Burns

I know I keep promising I won’t do this anymore, but sometimes you don’t know that you’re in the midst of aggressive stupidity until it’s too late.  This is a perfect example of why I am less and less impressed with debating theists.

So today, there’s a discussion going on about the reliability of the Bible and two theists show up. They’re not together, they both enter the discussion at entirely different points, but I guess gravitational stupidity draws morons together and after a while, they were playing tag-team idiot.

The first guy, who goes by Kreton, although I’m convinced he just doesn’t know how to spell “cretin”, popped in when someone mentioned that Noah’s flood is complete nonsense and unsupportable with science.  Kreton started saying “you can’t possibly know that!”  I responded with a laundry list of things wrong with the flood myth, how there isn’t enough water, how the ark is unseaworthy, how there’s no room on the ark for all the animals, how neither the geological record nor the fossil record supports such a thing, in short, the flood described in Genesis simply could never have happened.  I even provided some evidence for some of the things I said and offered to provide more if they liked.  So Kreton comes back and says “oh, science, I can see you’re just ignorant”.

W.  T.  F.?  This guy is a complete idiot.

The other one isn’t any  better.  He made the argument that humans are proof for the existence of God.  I told him that he was wrong, he can provide no direct, demonstrable causal link between humanity and any objectively existing god.  If he’d like to present evidence for any of it, I encouraged him to do so.  So he starts asking me to define god.  Me?  I’m not the one claiming that gods are real, he is, it’s up to him to define his own god and demonstrate it exists with evidence.  But no, apparently I have to define gods because I’ve said gods don’t exist?  Oh really? Where is that?  I challenged him to quote one time I have ever said such a thing.  Of course he can’t, I don’t say that, in fact I’m very careful to never say that for exactly this reason.  Then Kreton shows up and starts telling me I have to prove that I’ve never said it!

Seriously?

The problem with these people, and, I’d argue, the vast majority of theists that I run into is that they’re so unbelievably stupid and ignorant, there’s no point in talking to them at all.  I’m not sure how these idiots manage to dress themselves in the morning.  Their brains are so pitifully undeveloped, they’re incapable of understanding even the most fundamental parts of critical thinking.  I tried, repeatedly, to explain that just asserting that I was proof for the existence of God meant nothing unless you could produce God and demonstrate a direct causal link between God and me, they sat there and argued that they couldn’t prove God but they were right anyhow!

It’s days like this that I week for humanity.

The Woo is Strong in This One

pseudoscienceI was recently having a conversation with someone who is completely in love with various medical woo claims, from homeopathic nonsense to poking yourself with needles to chiropractic stupidity.  All of the failures of these various and sundry woo claims don’t work on him, he’s convinced that these things must work because credulous people that he knows who have used these things have said that they worked.  When you point out that science has proven them false, he doesn’t care because he’s convinced that someday, science will discover that the scientific method isn’t the only game in town.

Yes, he wants science to embrace a method of evaluating claims that has nothing to do with the scientific method.

I’ve seen it before, of course, woo-peddlers who think that there will come a day when they’ll be able to prove the supernatural and other absurd ideas and they just have to keep the faith until that day comes.  I pointed out all of this and now, he’ll no longer talk to me.  His final sad attempt was to claim that the scientific method changes and someday, we’ll all acknowledge that he was right all along.  No, sorry, the scientific method doesn’t change, scientific knowledge, gained through the scientific method, does as we learn more about the world around us.  This guy is seriously convinced that you can do science without the scientific method, as though they are two completely different things.  Maybe you can do science via religious faith?  Nope, sorry.  The clue is there in the name, “the scientific method”.  It is the method that is used to do science.  It is the method that has always been done to do science and will always be used to do science.  And here’s the kicker, it’s the only method that we’ve found so far that provides testable results and allows for demonstrable predictions.  That’s why we use it.

It always disgusts me to see how many of these absurd woo-peddlers try exactly the same thing, and it’s true of the religious as well, who think that their ridiculous ideas will some day be borne out by some magical change in science.  When you tell them that nobody should believe anything until it actually is supported by objective science, they give  you a dirty look and move on to discuss their stupidity with people who aren’t so grounded in reality.

This is really why I get so tired of debating these idiots.  It’s always the same.  I could write out the script before I even start.  They don’t respond well to rational arguments and expectations that they can actually back up what they claim.  It’s just arm-waving nonsense and when it’s clear that you won’t stoop to their irrational level, they insult you and go elsewhere.  Honestly, we need to have a plague that kills the stupid and gullible.

Five Reasons Theists are Clueless

jesus_bigfoot-medI’ve debated Richard, who writes the “Therefore God Exists” blog quite a few times over on Twitter (@AChristianWord) and each and every debate ends the same way. He gets outmaneuvered and simply stops responding, but he doesn’t stop tweeting the same old tired nonsense over and over, regardless of how badly he fares in the debates.  Now, he’s tweeting about “5 Reasons Atheism is Stupid” and I think he’s looking at things entirely backwards.  Since Twitter is such a restrictive format, I decided to show exactly where Richard fails here, not that I expect him to be capable of accepting my refutations.  As I’ve maintained for a long time, theists are clueless.

At issue, as usual, is that he has already accepted these five positions on faith and therefore cannot imagine having to actually defend or support any of these claims.  In fact, all he attempts to do is get from here to there, not to demonstrate that there is actually a valid destination in the first place.  That’s typical theist 101 and one of the major reasons they fail in virtually all debates with atheists is because they assume, a priori, that their beliefs are correct and they never bother to actually demonstrate that they really are.

It’s like debating the existence of Bigfoot.  No one is going to be convinced if someone proclaims their faith in Bigfoot.  They actually have to produce evidence and logical reasoning why anyone ought to suspect that Bigfoot is actually out there.  The person making the claim has the obligation to back it up and, in failing to do so, their argument falls.  The same is true of anyone making claims for the existence of gods.  It rests solely on their heads to back up their claims, not from the position of their own faith, but from the position of those with whom they are debating: the non-believers.  If you cannot demonstrate, to the satisfaction of people who don’t already believe your position, then you’ve really done nothing to support your claims.

So let’s look at his five purported reasons that atheism is stupid:

1 – The existence of the universe.

“Look around us” is not a sufficient reason to believe in a god, it only demonstrates that stuff is around us, it says nothing about the specific entity, if such exists, that caused it all.  As I’ve shown in the past, it simply is not possible, using the traditional arguments, to get from “the existence of the universe” to “the Christian God.” Therefore, the existence of the universe really proves nothing about any specific deity, even if it could be shown that some creative entity was required to explain how the universe got here.  Of course, that’s not the case, this is an appeal to ignorance on the part of Richard.  He doesn’t understand how the universe could be the way that it is without his God, therefore he asserts that his God must have done it.  I suspect that, based upon our discussions, Richard has very little experience in the hard sciences or rational philosophy and, unfortunately, it shows.  The fact remains, whether he wants to admit it or not, that we do have demonstrable evidence that shows how the universe started and none of it requires the existence of a supernatural entity to explain.  We may not know, at the moment, what came before the Big Bang, but that’s only because we haven’t developed a method to peer back before the Big Bang yet.  We’re still left with a total absence of objective evidence for the factual existence of Richard’s God and without it, even if we were justified in simply asserting a cause, there’s no reason his God is any better of an explanation than any of the other 3000 gods that man has invented for himself, or any number of natural explanations that may or may not exist outside of our universe.  Lacking a definitive explanation right this second is not license to make something up because it makes you feel better than admitting ignorance.

2 – The Big Bang.

It’s always confused me how theists can say that the universe isn’t eternal (and can’t be eternal), yet has no problem believing in a God that they think is.  Of course, the one thing that they fail to recognize, and this is again something I’ve pointed out several times, is that whatever might exist outside of our universe is almost certainly very different than what we experience within it.  That means that regardless of the cause, natural or supernatural, we cannot assume that it exists within a universe that functions like ours.  Even the oft-claimed “infinite regress” claims made by theists really have no application outside of our universe because, for all we know, in whatever universes exist beyond ours, infinite regress may not violate any physical laws.  It’s entirely possible that our universe has gone through an infinite cycle of expansions and contractions, each starting a new universe with the death of the old.  It’s entirely possible that there are an infinite number of universes out there in a multiverse and more are born all the time.  Some have suggested that every supernova or black hole in our own universe represents another universe created elsewhere.  In our own galaxy alone, there are an estimated 100 million stellar-mass black holes and the universe contains tens of billions of galaxies.  That’s a lot of universes.  Imagine if every universe did the same thing, hundreds of trillions of black holes, each creating a new universe that spawns hundreds of trillions of black holes.  The human brain isn’t very good at handling numbers that large or concepts that complex, unfortunately and I think this is another case of Richard, not having a grasp on the other possibilities, simply asserting his own favored explanation as the only one that is possible.

3 – The design of the universe.

I never understand how theists can confuse the acknowledgement of cosmological constants with design.  That’s two things that just make no sense whatsoever together.  The physical laws in our universe work uniformly across the whole of the universe, with some very notable exceptions.  This doesn’t really prove anything, it simply is.  The problem is that theists seem overly impressed with this for some reason when it really isn’t that impressive.  This becomes even more clear in his next point so I’ll leave it until then.  However, I did want to touch on the really rather silly concept that the universe was somehow designed for man.  Clearly, only a lunatic would consider it so.  The overwhelming majority of the universe is deadly to mankind.  There are countless light years of empty space where man could never hope to survive, trillions of burning hot stars which would fry man to a crisp if they got too close and only a very tiny range of temperatures in which man can exist, yet the overwhelming majority of the universe exists outside of that range.  Even our own planet is hostile to man.  An unprotected human would die if left on the majority of the planet.  The oceans are not conducive to human life. Neither are the polar regions.  Neither are huge portions of the land.  It’s taken human invention and ingenuity to come up with ways to make such climates livable, for the majority of human existence, even at the supposed time of Jesus, it just couldn’t be done.  So where is this magical “design of the universe” again?  I just don’t see it.

4 – The design of mankind.

Once again, Richard shows he really has no clue what he’s talking about.  The reason is that theists like Richard work backwards, they begin with the conclusion, that humans exist, and then work backward toward the beginning, assuming that humans were the goal all along.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I’ve used this example before but it seems to work.  Richard exists.  In order for Richard to exist, his parents had to meet, two people out of many billions on the planet.  They had to get together and have sex and only one very specific sperm and one very specific egg had to join to make Richard’s DNA.  That’s statistically difficult enough, but it gets worse.  Richard’s parents had to survive long enough to breed, but so too did their parents, who also had to meet out of all the people on the planet and have their specific gametes join at a specific time.  What are the odds that Richard could ever exist now?  You can continue to go back dozens or even hundreds of generations, each individual had to survive injuries and disease, meet exactly the right person and have sex at exactly the right time and have exactly the right gametes combine and if any of these things didn’t happen exactly as it was supposed to, Richard couldn’t exist.  In fact, the odds of Richard being born, just to his parents, are 1 in 225 billion and going back just ten generations, the odds exceed the number of grains of sand on the planet by a wide margin.  There are an estimated 700,500,000,000,000,000,000 grains of sand and if that’s not enough, there are an estimated 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in your body alone.  The odds are even worse than that that you would ever have been born.

And yet, there you are.

This demonstrates the absurdity of the belief and the backward nature of the assumption that humanity was intended from the beginning to appear on this little nondescript planet in the middle of a generic galaxy among tens of billions of galaxies in our universe.  We were not planned, we were not intended, we are the product of the universe that spawned us, not the goal of a designed universe.

5 – The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

It consistently amazes me just how dense theists are.  Regardless of what Richard claims, historians have come to no consensus about the existence of Jesus.  We do not have a single contemporary, demonstrably-eyewitness account of anything Jesus did.  We know that the Gospels were not written by the men for whom they are named, in fact, higher scholarship strongly suggests a pre-existing book from which the Gospels copied their information.  Historians don’t agree that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus, we have no record of Jesus crucifixion in existing Roman records, nor do we have any records whatsoever of Joseph.  The four Gospel accounts each describe him differently and he appears in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus.  There isn’t any agreement among scholars that Arimathea even existed, there is no other mention or documentation of such a place except in Luke 23:51 where he calls it a “city in Judea”.  It is more closely tied to other ancient cities like  Ramleh or Ramathaim-Zophim.  Therefore, we have no evidence for Jesus, we have no evidence for Joseph of Arimathea and we have no evidence for anyone matching the description of Jesus ever having been executed by the Romans.  We’re left with a myth that is totally toothless and Richard wants us to think this is something that makes atheists look stupid?  No, it’s something that makes Christians look gullible.

Of course, nothing Richard has said here is new, I just find it absurd that anyone could buy into any of this.  It’s all faith, blindly believed, and wishful thinking.  There’s no evidence for any of it and the second one looks at any of it objectively and critically, it’s clear what the intention is.  The theist wishes to push their particular emotional beliefs without actually having any evidence that they’re true.  They want to start at a conclusion, held for emotional reasons and only point out evidence that supports that conclusion, while ignoring all the evidence that shows the conclusion to be entirely false.  Then they want to criticize atheists who dare to point out what they are doing?

Ha, it isn’t atheists that are stupid, it’s Christians.

The Government is So Messed Up!

social-security-cardRecently I’ve run into a little issue with the Social Security Administration.  See, my youngest daughter never got her Social Security card.  They sent her number, they never sent the physical card.  It was never a big deal, anyone who needed to know the number, we just gave them the number.  Now, she’s got something to do with her health insurance that wants to have a copy of her physical card on file so we’re trying to get that and the goddamn SSA is making it as difficult as possible.

First, there is no way to do this online at all.  They don’t even offer it as a possibility.  You can send it in the mail, but they only accept original documents, you can’t make copies.  How is someone supposed to mail their original driver’s license to wherever the central office is?  You can’t do it!   They claim they’ll send it back but I trust the government about as far as I can throw them.  That means I have to go to the local office and luckily, we have an office just minutes from home.  Unfortunately, they are only open from 9-2 weekdays, Wednesdays only until 12 and every other Friday they are closed.  Inconvenient hours?  Certainly, it’s the government!

Secondly, as I said, they won’t take a copy of any of my daughter’s identifying documents.  All she has is her school ID and her insurance card. They won’t accept the school ID unless she’s physically standing in the office, but like I said, their only office hours are times when my daughter is in school, thus she can’t go.  They said they’d take her insurance card if it has her name and DOB on it.  It has the month and year of her birth, just no day so they won’t accept it.

It makes me want to shoot someone.

So let’s see, I can pull her out of school for an indeterminate amount of time, and I say that because, although you’re supposed to be able to make an appointment, the local office refuses to pick up their phone so you can’t talk to someone and make one.  Sure, that’s what I want to do! Harm her education because the government is inefficient and sucks!

Besides, this is their fault to begin with, they failed to send her one when she was born and we even informed them about it and they still didn’t send it.  My other daughter got hers just fine, so what’s the issue?  Government stupidity, that’s the issue.

This isn’t any different than any other government office.  These are government employees in a public sector union who can’t be fired unless they’re absurdly stupid and it shows.  Nobody cares.  Nobody has to care.  They’re just there to pick up their paycheck and pay their union dues for a couple of years until they can retire with full pension, full medical coverage, etc.  It’s no wonder they’re so stupid and rude, they’re in no danger of losing their jobs!

I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and drag her out of school one of these days so we can drive down there and they can look at her for some reason, since her school ID has no picture anyhow, and give us the thing that they were supposed to give us 14 years ago.  Stupid fucking government.

New Year’s Resolution Time

resolutionNormally, I don’t worry about New Year’s Resolutions, the whole idea of waiting until a certain day to make changes in your life strikes me as really absurd, if there is something that I need to change, why wait, why not just do it?  However, last year, I actually did have a resolution, I totally and completely walked away from the Atheism+/FreethoughtBlog morons and haven’t stepped my electronic foot into their cesspool since.  I have not looked at the Atheism+ forums even once and I haven’t looked at any of the associated FtB blogs that have been a big proponent of that extremist feminist stupidity.  Not one visit to any of those blogs, I don’t listen to their podcasts and when I’ve found that a podcast or a website tends to support that kind of stupidity or talk about it in excessive amounts, I drop those too.

You know something?  I’ve loved it.  I feel so much better, not having to be faced with a daily dose of liberal stupidity.  Not only can I not imagine not having done that, I’m wondering why I didn’t do it much earlier.

That made me start thinking about what I really want to do for this year and as people who have been reading the blog regularly might have noticed, I’ve gotten very critical of  debating theists, especially debating fundamentalist and fanatical theists.  I just don’t think it’s worthwhile, it doesn’t actually accomplish anything and more often than not, it leaves me upset and frustrated.  That’s not good for my blood pressure and it’s not good for my disposition so I’ve asked myself, why do it?  I’ve yet to come up with a good reason so my resolution this year is to know when to give up when debating theists.

I’m not stopping completely, if I were to do that, why bother with this blog at all?  I am, however, going to know the limits of my patience and not push on with debates that aren’t going anywhere, or with people who are just too stupid to be rationally dealt with.  In fact, the more I think about it, I may just apply this to everyone, not just theists because there are a lot of political debates that are just a waste of my time and energy too.  If someone can’t make a reasonable point or provide objective evidence, why should I bother talking to them at all?

I think this one change for the year is going to reduce my stress level, just like last year’s resolution did.  After all, it’s much easier to blog about the foibles of a stupid person than to try to talk them out of their stupidity, especially if they are singularly ill equipped to engage in a worthwhile discussion.

So what’s your resolution for the year?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Are Theists Stupid?

stupid-religionThis is a question that comes up a lot, both in conversations with theists and atheists.  Are theists stupid?  Well, that’s not really a fair question as it stands, I have to amend it to “are theists stupid with regard to their religious beliefs?”  The answer to this, unfortunately is yes.

At issue really is that so many people assume that a particular label applies to everything a person does.  I can’t tell you how many theists I’ve had tell me that they know a theist who is very, very smart and therefore, that means that their theism is also smart.  Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.

So maybe it’s not stupidity, it’s ignorance.  Maybe they just don’t know any better.  Maybe they’re completely and totally uneducated.  That just doesn’t hold any water in the modern world as anyone with a few minutes and access to the Internet can look up the answers to just about any question and can cross-reference those answers to see if they hold water.

Just a little

Now granted, I do give some theists a little more leeway, not a lot, when it comes to their religious beliefs because, let’s be honest, some are starting with an inherent disadvantage.  If one starts from a heavily fundamentalist perspective, their education, or lack thereof, has already largely crippled them mentally.  They are told things that are simply not true, that God created the world in 6 days, a mere 6000 years ago, that there was a worldwide flood, that evolution is untrue, etc.  They’re unaware that the Bible has changed over time, that it was put together in a particular way for a particular purpose.  They’re unaware that the Bible writers heavily “borrowed” (read “stole”) from many other local mythologies, that the overwhelming majority of supposed miracles in the Bible were lifted bodily from other religious texts and that historians can easily follow who they got what teachings from and when.  Worse yet, fundamentalists, especially those who have been indoctrinated from early childhood, have been taught that they’re not allowed to ask questions and that testing the Bible or their beliefs in God is a shortcut to eternal damnation.  Those people get just a little more patience, but not a lot, especially if they’re over the age of 18 where their hyper-religious parents can’t force them into a pew to listen to brain-rotting poison anymore.

It’s not just theists who have this problem, there are plenty of atheists who similarly compartmentalize belief systems that are wholly irrational, illogical and lacking in evidence.  We also have people who will proudly proclaim that they are atheists, therefore everything they say must be true but they have the exact same issue as the theists.  That’s just not the case.  You are only right so long as you can rationally defend your position and produce evidence that you are right.

Myself, I try my hardest to exercise critical thinking and logical evaluation on every position that I hold.  I fact, I spend a considerable amount of time just thinking about what I believe and why I believe it and I work constantly to purge emotion and wishful thinking from my positions.  I am dedicated to believing as many demonstrably true things as possible, rejecting as many false things as possible and knowing how to tell the difference between the two.  I can debate any position that I hold rationally at any time.  I don’t have to study up because I’ve already done the work.  Yet it still surprises me how many people, both theists and atheists, have no clue why they hold a particular position, they’ve never given it any thought, they just hold it because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do.  The best of them, when questioned about what they believe, will stop and take a minute to think about it.  The worst will declare they have faith, whether they use that word or not, that they’re right and continue to cling to their position without a moment’s thought.

So are theists stupid?  Perhaps that’s the wrong question to asks.  Are theists stupid with regard to their  theism? Probably, either stupid or horribly intellectually and emotionally crippled.  Maybe there’s a better question to ask, is theism stupid?  I would say absolutely and without reservation yes.  Anyone who believes a thing based solely on emotion and a lack of critical thinking is engaging in stupidity, whether that thing is religious or not.

Are They Really That Dumb?

reason-with-religious-peopleNow I’m sure this has happened to you.  I’ve been in a… well, it’s not a debate, it’s not really a discussion, I guess I’d call it a giant religious clusterfuck.  Some rabid fundamentalist idiot, who didn’t like the fact that I suggested the Bible isn’t the greatest thing since, well, anything, has been throwing Bible verses at me.

It started off with him complaining that the U.S. government isn’t following Biblical laws, he’s of the opinion that we’re a Christian nation and that we’re obligated, therefore, to throw out all man-made laws and live in complete accord with Godly dictates.  So I pointed out to him that, whether he likes it or not, we have a Constitutionally guaranteed secular government, not only shouldn’t we  govern by the Bible, but we can’t.  It’s a violation of the Constitution to do so.  That didn’t phase him, he launched into the whole “the founding fathers were all Christians” nonsense and especially focused on Madison as his personal hero.  That kind of thing is easy to demolish, but even after that had been done, he refused to acknowledge that he was wrong.  In fact, he just started the broken record over, right back to square one, with his claims about the Christian nation and all that nonsense.

So I just said the heck with this, he’s not paying any attention so I just slammed the Bible.  I called it what it is, a primitive book of bronze-age mythology, laughable on it’s face, unbelievable in it’s entirety and worthless to any intelligent, rational individual.  Now I didn’t expect him to give up or retract his absurd claims, in fact, I guess I expected what came next.  He started to quote the Bible.

Alright, wait a minute, if someone tells you that they do not value your book, that they think the entire thing is ridiculous, that there is pretty much nothing in it of value, why would you start quoting that book as though it will convince anyone of anything?  Yet that’s exactly what he’s done and continues to do.  Over and over.  Endlessly.  He’s given up responding to anyone, he’s just tossing out Bible verses willy-nilly at anyone who will listen.  He’s going to end up getting suspended but I don’t think he cares.

This is what happens when the Bible breaks your brain.  I guess it could be a big theological “fuck you”, but I suspect this  guy is serious, he really has nothing else to say, all of his talking points are found between the pages of the Good Book and if it’s not there, it’s not worth thinking about.

What’s sad is he’s far from the first person I’ve seen pull this.  There are an uncomfortably large percentage of fundamentalists who think exactly as he does.  They live in a little fantasy world where everyone is a Christian, where everyone believe in God, whether they’re willing to admit it or not, and where all the wrongs of the world are caused by demons and evil spirits, minions of the devil, who can be done away with if we all just think happy thoughts and cast hopeful prayers to the skies.

But no, in reality, these people are just idiots and probably have a few screws loose in the attic.  They have but one playbook and they read from it incessantly and they can’t imagine that everyone else isn’t reading it too.  In fact, when they find someone that doesn’t take their book seriously, their only solution is to just read it louder and to get more annoying, volume apparently solves everything.

I won’t ask how to reach such a person because we all know they can’t be reached, they probably require psychotropic drugs and intensive therapy, they are really only good for laughing at and once we identify them, trying to reason with them at all becomes a pointless waste of time.  It’s just sad, almost like making fun of retarded kids, you know they can’t help it, but they’re just so ridiculous, sometimes you can’t help but let a chuckle escape and then you feel bad.

And so to answer my own question, yes, they are that dumb.  Unfortunately, they’re also proud of it and that’s the real sad part.

Are Theists Dishonest or Stupid?

StupidChristians

I keep seeing claims going by on Twitter, made by self-professed theists, which are blatantly untrue, yet even after being corrected, they keep making them.  Are these people horribly dishonest or are they just too stupid to know any better?  That’s really a much larger question than it seems at first and perhaps it’s one that we need to spend some time examining because I’m pretty sure most atheists have seen it themselves or made similar observations.

Imagine this scenario.  It really doesn’t matter where it happens, online, in person, on Twitter or Facebook, but sooner or later it will happen to just about every atheist.  A theist will make a claim that atheists believe X.  It will be untrue.  You will point out that it is untrue.  You will demonstrate that it is untrue.  You will ask the theist for evidence for their claim and they will ignore you.  The theist will either demand that you’re wrong or that you’re not an atheist and will continue to make the very same claim over and over again.

You might also see the same thing with regard to demonstrably false claims about their religion.  They have no evidence to back it up.  You have evidence that shows it’s not true. They will continue to repeat it verbatim, even after being proven wrong.

So what are we, as supposedly rational, intellectual atheists, supposed to think about this.  I see only two possibilities, either these people know they are wrong and are spouting false claims anyhow, or they are stupid, deluded and too far gone to even know how wrong their claims actually are.  Of course, I’m sure that for most theists, the answer resides somewhere between these two extremes, but for others, not so much.  Most professional apologists, for example, I’d say are virtually all dishonest.  They know better, they have to, they just don’t care.  This is, in my estimation, for the same reason that a lot of ministers and priests who have lost their faith continue to work in the church, their “faith” is also their  ticket to a paycheck, there is no easy route out of the religion without sacrificing financial security, thus they keep spouting the message without believing the words.  On the other side of the spectrum, you have those wonderful Internet theists who are so “on fire for Jesus” that I fear they’ve burned out the parts of their brains that control reasoning.  They are fanatics, they’re not really concerned whether or not the Bible is true, it makes them feel good to think that it does, therefore there is no chance whatsoever that they’ll ever accept otherwise.  Some of the more honest ones, in moments of uncharacteristic candor, will admit that there is nothing anyone can ever say that will convince them that they’re wrong, which is a sure sign that rational people ought to slowly start backing away.

But what about the rest, the ones that fall somewhere between the loony-toon fanatics and the absurdly dishonest?  Is there any chance that we can reach those people with rational, reasoned and evidenced arguments?  Now maybe I’m just getting more cynical in my old age, but I don’t think so.  Religion is one of those beliefs which is not amenable to evidence.  The people who hold it are not interested in being right or wrong, but in feeling good.  You have about as much chance of reasoning a theist out of their religion as you do reasoning a conspiracy theorist out of their conspiracies and for mostly the same reasons.  There’s a certain pathology here that says that it’s more important to be emotionally satisfied with one’s beliefs than it is to be factually correct with them.  These are people who I’d argue fundamentally don’t like reality.  It scares them.  Therefore, in order to make it through their day-to-day lives, they have to invent or adopt a magical security blanket that stops them from thinking about all of the scary things they’d otherwise have to deal with.  But that’s ultimately an immature way of viewing the world.  Part of the maturation process is learning to deal with the world the way it actually is, not the way you wish it was.  It’s a problem that an alarmingly large portion of the population have, theist and not.  It is no more acceptable among non-theists than it is among theists.  People all need to grow up and deal with the facts and leave the comforting fantasy behind.

So how do you stop this problem?  I don’t know that you can.  Sure, you can teach people how to think rationally and critically but you cannot force them to actually employ those tools.  You can point out when they’re being dishonest or stupid, but most of us realize that the dyed-in-the-wool believer won’t care, they’re supremely convinced that they’re right and can never be wrong, therefore any criticism will fall on deaf ears.  Perhaps the only real thing we can do is be patient and wait.  Religion is failing miserably in the modern world, people are fleeing the churches as it becomes clear that religious teachings are factually incorrect and that you can live a fulfilled life without religion.  I think some of us atheists, seeing the signs that we’re “winning”, want to declare a total victory far too early, these things take time.

In the end, it’s just sad that theists have to be liars or lunatics, to play the C.S. Lewis card, since quite clearly, there’s no evidence for a Lord.  We just have to understand that they can’t help it, it’s a fundamental part of what religion is.

If You’re Not Part of the Solution…

otherwise you're part of the problemAs the old saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you are indeed part of the problem.  I’ve pointed out in the past that there are many vocal movements out there whose entire purpose in existing is to garner attention.  If you oppose those movements, engaging them in discussion is working at odds with your opposition, the more you talk about them, complain about them or even talk to them, the more attention they get and thus, the happier they are.

One of the classic examples of this is the Westboro Baptist Church.  They exist as attention whores.  It’s all they care about.  You cannot debate their beliefs, you cannot talk about their beliefs, you cannot talk around their beliefs, everything that you do while speaking about them, even obliquely, gives them the attention that they crave.  You simply cannot win that way.  In fact, the only way you can achieve any kind of victory is to simply ignore them completely.  Don’t talk about them.  Don’t look at them.  Pretend they don’t exist.  Just walk away.  If everyone does this, they’ll fade into obscurity.

The other obvious example is Atheism+.  It’s also an attention-whoring group, mostly to garner page hits and thus advertising revenue.  Only the lowest level members think otherwise, the heavy hitters like Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers know where their bread is buttered, you just have to watch their behavior to see how they operate.  They want money.  They drive visitors to their pages to get money.  When visitors stop coming, they do something stupid or outrageous and the visitors come flooding back.  The only way to stop them from acting stupid, I doubt it’s possible to make them stop being stupid, is to stop putting those dollars in their pockets, stop adding to the mindless hysteria by talking about their drivel.

That’s exactly why I had my New Year’s Resolution this year to totally walk away from all things Atheism+ on either side.  I no longer listen to anyone on the pro-Atheism+ side, and that includes people just talking about radical feminism, radical social justice, etc.  It doesn’t have to fall under the A+ label, just the kind of things they obsess over.  I didn’t stop there though, I also walked away from anyone who spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the Atheism+ retards.  Not only was I not going to give the social justice crowd the page hits they were desperate for, I wasn’t going to support the people who drove others into the loving arms of the ad revenue generation on the social justice crowd’s web pages.  Let’s be honest, where there are people making a name and fat bank account for themselves under the Atheism+ label, there are plenty of people on the other side making a name for themselves on attacking Atheism+.  I think both sides are ridiculous and want no part of either.

However, there are quite a few atheists who delight in commenting, tweeting, blogging and generally playing right into the hands of the attention-whores.  It’s not like they’re ignorant, they know what they’re doing but they just can’t control themselves.  Some of them were nothings on the Internet before the debacle came along and become well known because they could suckle at the teat of controversy.  I just don’t have any respect for people whose fame comes from being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and who haven’t earned that fame on their own.  There’s only so valuable you can be if someone drops the ball in your hands and you just run away with it.  We can only grant so much respect to people who didn’t do much, if anything, to earn it.

So please people, stop fueling the fire and giving attention to these whores.  It’s all they need.  They don’t care if you hate them, they don’t care if you shine the light of recognition on their activities, they don’t care how absurd they look, so long as that ad revenue keeps rolling in.  You’re only slowing their eventual decline into obscurity.  You’re only keeping stupidity afloat one more day.  The longer you do it, the longer the skeptical world will suffer from the inanity of Atheism+, just as the longer people cater to the Phelps crowd, the longer they’ll dance around like monkeys on a leash.  They only do it for money.  If we want to stop them, we have to take that money and exposure away.

20 Resolutions Against Homosexuality

God's LoveI’ve been coming up with a lot of these lately and don’t see much evidence that it’ll be ending any time soon, so here goes yet another response to a religious website, this time the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), and an article they call “Resolutions for Pro-Family Advocates Battling the Homosexual Agenda in 2013.”  This group has put out a list of 20 resolutions which they claim will put America back on the path to gay-hating godliness.  How could I resist slogging through something like this?

Now let’s be honest, we shouldn’t expect any rational suggestions here, even before we look at them.  Hating gays is a wholly emotional, totally non-intellectual act to begin with, I don’t think that anyone who doesn’t already buy in to their hate-filled rhetoric is going to do anything but laugh at these resolutions.  In fact, I don’t know what’s going to be worse, how absurd the ideas are, or how badly they are phrased.  For a group that pretends to be professional, why do most of these resolutions sound like they were written by high school students?  Random capitalization, incomplete sentences and bad grammar abound, I suppose we should be thankful someone thought to send it through a spell-checker before posting it.

So let’s get started, shall we?

  1. Get OFF the defense, and back on offense — (get rid of that false guilt and incapacitating ambivalence; YOU are defending Truth; homosexual activists are promoting immorality, self-deception and lies).

    We’re not even going to get into how they know they are defending “truth” since we know they’re a bunch of gullible theists anyhow, but honestly, how are they going to go back to being offensive?  Okay, they are already offensive, but you know what I mean.  Other than standing around making fools of themselves like the Phelps family, what could they really do that wouldn’t get them tossed in prison?  Do they consider standing on street-corners, holding signs to be “on the offense”?  That’s more likely to piss people off than attract them to the cause.  The fact is, many, many, many more people support gay rights, including gay marriage, than reject it.  It is passing in state after state and it is likely that it will be a federal law in the not-too-distant future.  What do these people think they can do to stop it?  I guess they could pray, but I meant what can they seriously do in the real world to stop it?

  2. Follow God and not man (shore up your biblical beliefs) — do you fear God or the reaction of people?

    If they were really following God, they’d be killing gays in the streets, that’s what the Bible commands in Leviticus 20:13.  Of course, even evangelical Christianity has been largely neutered in the western world, they just can’t get away with having slaves (Exodus 21:2-6), killing disobedient children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) or forcing rape victims to marry their rapists (Deuteronomy 22:28-29), among many other horrors found in the Good Book.  The fact is, most western Christians just lack the guts to do what the Bible clearly commands them to do, it’s easier to make excuses for why they can’t do what they think God wants them to do than to actually do it and deal with the consequences of their faith.  I actually would like to see them “follow God” here, make an attempt to do what is described in the Bible, so we  can pick them up, put them in prison for the rest of their lives and not have to deal with them anymore.  Of course, the argument  can be made that they really deserve to spend time in a mental hospital, since believing any of this nonsense clearly makes one mentally disturbed.

  3. “Question Authority”: Don’t trust elites — even “conservatives” — on the homosexual issue (e.g., Newt Gingrich’s recent capitulation urging a GOP accommodation on “marriage equality”). [See Numbers 9 and 12.]

    I love this one.  Question authority?  From the people who refuse to question the authority of the Bible?  From the people who blindly follow anything that a guy in a pulpit says every Sunday?  These people simply do not have the capacity to question authority, especially as we see it relating to #2.

  4. Get back to the BEHAVIOR and its consequences (try Googling “MSM [men who have sex with men], CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], HIV” or “MSM, CDC, Syphilis”).

    Of course, they don’t mention the same consequences which are rampant in the heterosexual community.  These are the people who are convinced that HIV is a curse from God, yet can’t explain why innocent babies born to HIV positive mothers get it.  What did that baby do anyhow?  HIV is also found in people who have never had sex, but contracted it via blood transfusions.  You don’t see these fundamentalist shitbags crying about non-gays getting these diseases, do you?  You don’t see them yelling for increased funding for treatments and the development of cures, do you?  Of course not!  Some of those treatments and cures might be used on the evil gays!

  5. Get off the opponents’ playing field: it starts with restoring honest language in the debate. (e.g, counterfeit homosexual “marriage” is not equal to the real deal, so the “gay” term “Marriage Equality” is spurious).

    This is a hoot.  The only reason gay marriage isn’t equal to the real deal in their eyes is because they refuse to acknowledge it as such.  The fact is, gay marriage is 100% equivalent and, in fact, identical to straight marriage in real world situations.  But these people don’t live in the real world, do they?  They think that marriages are done in churches, when the fact is, you can walk down all the aisles in all the churches you want, you’re not really married until you get that piece of paper from the state.  Evangelicals live in a world where their beliefs become less and less applicable by the day, yet they cling desperately to values that are largely extinct.  It’s no wonder they’re so delusional.

  6. Recognize, dismiss and counter homosexual activists’ lies and propaganda (e.g, defending morality is neither “hate” nor bigotry).

    Unless someone tries to do it to them, then it’s all hate and bigotry.  Of course, nothing they say is a lie or propaganda, they’re just spewing the “truth” of the Bible, a truth which they are wholly unable to demonstrate.  Nothing they say can possibly be wrong, their views of “morality” are automatically correct and anyone who disagrees is automatically wrong.  The hypocrisy behind these people is overwhelming.

  7. Understand that this debate is really about homosexuality, not just “defending marriage.”

    The “debate” is about reality and their refusal to accept it as it actually is, not as they think their imaginary friend in the sky says it is.  The reality is, there are people who are gay.  They were born that way, they’ll live that way and they’ll die that way.  The percentage of gay people in society is probably virtually identical to the percentage of gay people in evangelical Christian churches, something that they’d vociferously deny, yet if you look down to point 20, they even recognize that anti-gay sentiments within religion is fading as well.

  8. [Corollary] Stay principled; take the pledge: I will NEVER say or do anything that affirms homosexual, bisexual or gender-confused (“transgender”) behavior as acceptable.

    Which simply demonstrates their lack of ability to deal with contradictory information or go where the evidence leads.  They’re not interested in the facts if they get in the way of their faith.

  9. Don’t rely on the Republicans or put their agenda before God’s — but instead push them to LEAD and do what’s right (and you moral Democrats need to fight evil within your party).

    While it’s probably a good idea not to count on the Republicans, they’re only after votes and the number of anti-bigot voters in society are falling fast.  I don’t think you can look to the Democrats either, for the same reason.  Politics are not your friend.

  10. Embrace and rally behind common sense; send political correctness packing (e.g., do transsexual men with fake breasts and real penises really belong in girls’ locker rooms?).

    Now that’s a laughable statement.  If you guys were embracing and rallying behind common sense, you wouldn’t hold the asinine beliefs you do.  And to be honest with you, I actually agree that pre-op transsexuals do not belong in opposite-sex locker rooms.  Once you’ve actually undergone sex-reassignment surgery, fine by me.  Until then, stay where your physical genitalia dictates.

  11. STOP assuming “gay” victories are inevitable and irreversible (and don’t succumb to the media’s intense pro-homosexual bias).

    In other words, stop living in the real world.  I’m sure they said the same thing about “black” victories back in the day.  However, if history teaches us anything, civil rights victories are, like it or not, inevitable and irreversible, no matter what imaginary friend you follow.  It’s not bias, it’s reality.

  12. [Related to #3] Think for yourself and don’t rely on FOX News to defend the Truth on homosexuality (e.g., did you know that Bill O’Reilly has pretty much switched sides?).

    Okay… FOX News… truth?  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Okay, I’m done, really… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! <pant pant pant>  Alright, seriously this time.  FOX News is a television network that, like all networks, is after ratings.  It’s how they stay in business.  Bill O’Reilly, like all people with TV shows, is after ratings so he gets advertisers so he keeps getting a paycheck.  This is how television works.  It’s not about media bias, it’s about television realities.  The simple fact is, while FOX and O’Reilly have been catering to a right-wing evangelical Christian audience for a while, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that there just isn’t enough money in it, the evangelical crowd is hemorrhaging members left and right.  Therefore, FOX is slowly but surely moving closer to the center.  It’s a long, slow move, to be sure, but it is happening, just as traditionally left-wing news outlets like MSNBC are slowly moving away from the liberal wingnut toward a more mainstream audience.  The idea of bias in the media is largely illusionary, it’s all about ad revenue.

  13. Call out the liberal media and educational establishment on their routine pro-homosexual and anti-Christian bias.

    See #12.  You guys just don’t represent a large enough demographic for anyone to take you all that seriously.

  14. Educate a libertarian — on the clear and present threat that all pro-LGBT laws (including homosexual “marriage”) pose to civil liberties and religious freedom.

    It would be nice if we could educate libertarians, at least the most extreme of them, but I’ve found that about as pointless a gesture as trying educate an evangelical.  One thing I would love to have them explain to me, how does allowing gays the ability to marry at all, in any way, shape or form, affect religious freedom?  Please explain that to me.  Evangelicals don’t get to impose their religion on other people and gay marriage doesn’t change their ability to choose to marry someone of the opposite sex.  So please, explain this to me, it makes no sense.

  15. Educate a pro-lifer about the threat of the far-reaching homosexual-bisexual-transgender agenda (many pro-lifers are naive or ignorant about the homosexual agenda and its many parallels to their core concern).

    Which agenda is this?  The agenda in your own head?  It seems that’s all it is.  I suppose it’s no surprise that for a group of people who are deluded by ancient myths, where they simply invent explanations out of whole cloth when faced with a difficult question, that they shouldn’t just make up a bunch of nonsense to support their beliefs.  That’s the case here.  There is no homosexual-bisexual-transgender agenda and they can’t produce any evidence that there is.  Sure, you might find a few extremists who have far-reaching plans, but they certainly don’t talk for all gays, any more than you idiots speak for all straights.  In fact, you can find more than a few Christian extremists who have violent plans, does that mean we can generalize and say all Christians are terrorists?  If you won’t agree with that, then you shouldn’t expect people to agree with your load of nonsense.

  16. Be a thoughtful, truly compassionate Christian (tough, godly love requires that you uphold biblical sexual values and firmly guide your loved one away from embracing sinful, destructive — and changeable — behaviors).

    Well, assuming you define Christianity narrowly, sure.  Of course, lots of Christians do not do so and you have no way to prove that your way is the right way.  In fact, let’s not forget that you have no way to prove that anything about your religion is actually true.

  17. Be a Happy Warrior and understand the big picture: defending Truth is VIRTUOUS, and besides: it’s not our truth, it’s God’s (and don’t play into our opponent’s stereotype of Christians as self-righteous, angry prudes).

    Defending delusion, apparently, is virtuous, since you can’t prove any of what you say is factually true.  That’s what really pisses me off about this load of nonsense, it’s just a bunch of mindless assertions, claims made without a shred of evidence, demanded to be truth without proof,

  18. Don’t be lazy: THINK!…then act (refuting “gay” myths, shibboleths and talking points is not rocket science).

    I’d be happy if they were able to think at all, unfortunately they are not.  They’re only willing to embrace their absurd beliefs and reject anything that disagrees with them out of hand.

  19. Patiently engage a young person on the “H” issue: are they entitled to reinvent centuries of Judeo-Christian tradition and teaching on love, relationships, family, and marriage? (Answer: no, but we first need to understand the cultural zeitgeist through which they view the world — and the steady stream of LGBT misinformation they are imbibing — before we can respond to it).

    What is the “H” issue?  Surely they can’t be afraid to say “homosexuality”, it’s something they’ve said in virtually every one of these points, why did they get to #19 and decide “oh no, we can’t say that word!”  I don’t know, maybe they’re embarrassed, considering they turn around and make a ludicrous falsehood in the same sentence.  Just look in the Bible, the majority of the Old Testament violates the supposed Judeo-Christian traditions, doesn’t it?  Multiple wives, concubines, prostitutes, having sex with slaves, all of it is not only fine and dandy with the Jews, it’s apparently supported by God.  The teachings on love, relationships, family and marriage are really a relatively recent thing in history and the fact is, religion co-opted marriage, it’s been a purely secular practice for longer than your ridiculous religion has been on the planet.  Society is absolutely entitled to reinvent the short time you guys have had your fingers in the marriage pie, society can reinvent anything it wants, whenever it wants.  Where did you idiots get the idea that you had control over all of the culture?

  20. Reserve your greatest outrage for those who affirm homosexuality in the name of God (the “gay Christianity” movement is a sham and they must be held to a higher standard).

    So wait a minute, the “gay Christianity” movement must be held to a higher standard?  A higher standard than what?  Than you?  I’ll be happy if both of you will just follow the Bible.  No more wearing mixed fabrics, no more eating shellfish, you’d better murder witches and disobedient children in the streets, all of that’s in there.  If you’re going to be bitching about people who aren’t following the Bible the way you want, I’m perfectly justified in expecting you to follow the Bible the way I want you to.  Seems to me there’s something in John 8:7 about being without sin before you go lobbing rocks.

The fact is, all of this is laughable, it’s like people who believe in unicorns yelling at people who believe in leprechauns for having faith in something absurd.  Evangelical Christians, and indeed, all theists, believe in the equivalent of unicorns, yet are totally oblivious to that fact.  It doesn’t matter what it says in your ancient book of mythology, it’s just not true and none of the things you believe have any basis in fact, are not supported by evidence, nor are at all credible in reality.

Too bad you people just don’t get that.

Evaluating the Kalam Cosmological Argument

confused
Did you bother to think about this before you said it?
Didn’t think so.

As long as I’m responding to Christians, I ran across this one on Twitter today and thought, what the hell, let’s see what he has to say.

Almost immediately, I find a reason to disagree, Richard Bushey argues that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is a powerful argument that brings forth discussion.  I won’t quibble on the amount of discussion it engenders, certainly there are a lot of people talking about it, but it’s not because this argument is particularly powerful, credible or worthwhile, it is only because it is tremendously popular with Christian apologists, many of whom insist on bringing it up all the time, necessitating the critical individual be able to refute it time and time again.  See, the Kalam argument isn’t anything remotely new, although it’s been resurrected from the well-deserved dead by modern-day apologists who have utterly failed in every other apologetic method and thus, have to seek out older, long-falsified claims that many critics of their theology haven’t seen in many years, in the hopes of keeping the game fresh.

So let’s examine the Kalam Cosmological Argument and deal with it’s problems.  I’ll go with the formulation that Bushey lists, although there are many different ways to frame it.

1 – Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its’ existence.

Immediately, we realize that the apologist has inserted “wiggle words” into the claim.  It specifically  states that things that “begin to exist” must have a cause of their existence.  Okay, but we have yet to find a single thing anywhere that has not “begun to exist”.  The fact is, that phrase is inserted specifically so they can say “aha!  God didn’t begin to exist!”  Says who?  Prove it!  That’s the problem, they have a deity which they cannot provide a shred of objective evidence for, that they can simply assign characteristics to without being able to demonstrate that it actually has those characteristics.  A while back, it was relatively popular for atheists to talk about the Invisible Pink Unicorn as a silly stand-in for God.  Oh, theists pointed out, if the Unicorn is invisible, it cannot be pink!  But no, if we’re just defining things into existence, we can simply assert, without needing to prove a thing, that the Unicorn is both invisible and pink at the same time.  Why not, Christians do it all the time.  If we reject it for one party, we must reject it for all parties.  Since we simply do not have a single example of anything that demonstrably did not begin to exist, the universe included, and we’re not  going to allow people to redefine reality to make an exception to an axiom intended to be an absolute rule, we can simplify it and say “everything that exists has a cause of its’ existence”.  Yes, this totally invalidates the use of Kalam as an apologetic argument.

Perhaps Dan Barker put it best when he wrote Cosmological Kalamity:

The curious clause “everything that begins to exist” implies that reality can be divided into two sets: items that begin to exist (BE), and those that do not (NBE). In order for this cosmological argument to work, NBE (if such a set is meaningful) cannot be empty, but more important, it must accommodate more than one item to avoid being simply a synonym for God. If God is the only object allowed in NBE, then BE is merely a mask for the Creator, and the premise “everything that begins to exist has a cause” is equivalent to “everything except God has a cause.” As with the earlier failures, this puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove God’s existence, and we are back to begging the question.

But isn’t begging the question at the core of most Christian apologetics anyhow?  They really have nothing to point to, they just have to imagine their way to victory.

2 – The universe began to exist.

Nobody denies this, we know quite clearly that the universe began to exist in it’s current form about 13.77 billion years ago.  We also know the mechanism, although not the cause of the mechanism, for the generation of the universe, that being the Big Bang.  Now if you really want to insert a god as the one that touched off the Big Bang, I certainly can’t stop you, except to say that you have no more evidence for that claim than someone who might think leprechauns did it have for theirs.  The simple fact is, we do not know at present what caused it.  That does not give the religious license to just make shit up because they are uncomfortable not knowing.

However, it is interesting to look at the reasoning behind the apologist’s claim here.  Typically stated, here is the argument:

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. A beginningless series of events is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, the universe cannot have existed infinitely in the past, as that would be a beginningless series of events.

The problem immediately is that they already believe that an actual infinite does exist, their God!  Right off the bat, they’ve admitted that their God cannot exist.  Alright, if you say so, although I don’t think you could get them to admit their faux pas.  However, I’ll just go ahead and invalidate the entire premise behind this line of reasoning.  There is no reason whatsoever that, somewhere out there in the multiverse, an actual infinite cannot exist.  The only reason it cannot do so in our particular universe is because of the laws of cause and effect.  Every cause has an effect, every effect had a cause.  However, the physical laws of the universe were generated in the Big Bang.  They did not have to be the way they came to be in our universe and, in any other universes out there, the laws can conceivably be quite different.  There may theoretically be universes out there where the law of cause and effect simply does not apply, where there is no time, where there is no matter, who really knows?  Theists try to base their claims about everything that could conceivably exist, both within and outside of our universe, must be exactly as we see things here.  That ain’t necessarily so.  Therefore, proposition 1 must be modified to state: An actual infinite cannot exist inside our particular universe.  However, this immediately becomes important when we realize that it’s impossible that the cause of our particular universe could have come from within our universe!  Therefore, all bets are off as to what the physical laws might be in that metauniverse we came from.  So yes, an actual infinite can exist, at least in theory, which is really all we have to go on today.

3 – Therefore, the universe has a cause of its’ existence.

Likewise, nobody denies this.  It is important to point out however that this “cause” need not be alive, it need not be sentient, it need not care about the universe or even be aware of it’s existence.  In fact, as soon as you recognize what the apologists are trying to do in the first statement and head them off at the pass, there’s nothing really wrong with the three statements taken as a whole.  It simply says that everything that exists had a cause, the universe exists, therefore it had a cause.  I’ve got no problem with that.  The reality is that, even with the “define your way to victory” tactic that apologists try to use, the Kalam Cosmological Argument really doesn’t get them any closer to proving that a god, especially their particular god, had anything to do with the formation of the universe.

Their conclusion is a version of special pleading, they set up a situation which applies to everything, then introduce an exception that violates that application and think that somehow solves something.  It’s like asserting that all round things are round, except if they’re square, then says you’ve got a round-square thing that defies the logic of the argument and that gives you special abilities and insight.  It just doesn’t work that way.

So what about the God of the Gaps argument?  Bushey spends a lot of time claiming that Kalam isn’t the same thing, but really, it is.  It is finding a gap in man’s current knowledge and inserting God there, whether one has a reason to do so or not.  In fact, reading over his statements, it seems relatively clear he doesn’t understand what “God of the Gaps” actually is.  He says that Kalam is “predicated upon unpacking what it means to be the cause of the universe”, yet it really isn’t because it has nothing whatsoever to say about the actual cause, only in demonstrating that it had one.  He then goes on to make claims which, again, he clearly doesn’t understand.  He says the cause cannot be natural because it would have to be part of the nature which was generated following the Big Bang.  He ignores the fact that, whatever might exist outside of our universe would likely have a “nature” of it’s own, to which whatever created out universe would belong.  If you want to call this nature beyond our nature the “supernatural”, feel free, I suppose, but it tells us nothing.  Not long ago, I read a news story about scientists who were planning on recreating a “Little Bang”, that is, a universe-creating event on an incredibly small scale.  If successful, would those scientists then become “supernatural”?  Should whatever lifeforms that eventually evolve in that micro-universe worship the scientists as gods?  That seems to be what Bushey is suggesting.

Ultimately, what happens in these arguments is that the apologist will take asserted characteristics for their God and try to  reason backwards from the universe around us to those characteristics as a “proof” that the “cause” must have had those characteristics.  It is an exercise in futility, of course, since they cannot demonstrate that their God exists at all, much less demonstrably has any of the characteristics they choose to imbue it with.  Saying that God is all-loving is well and good but you can’t prove it, and frankly, I’m not sure an all-loving God would be out committing genocide by flooding the planet and killing virtually all life therein.  It’s no better than saying that the Invisible Pink Unicorn is both invisible and pink.  You can arbitrarily assign characteristics all day long, that doesn’t mean that any of it is actually so.

In the end, the Kalam Cosmological Argument is the lowest form of apologetic dishonesty.  It takes a set of statements which are generally understood to be true, it inserts a number of unwarranted assumptions and blind-faith assertions, none of which can be demonstrated to be true or reasonable, then claims victory for doing nothing but a bunch of hand-waving.

But isn’t that what all apologetics are?

Come Back From the Dead, Freezer-Pop!

Popsicle
Dad! Noooooooo!

Come on, this is good stuff.  Detroit police found the body of a 93-year old man, stuffed into a freezer in the basement of his 48-year old son, Vincent Bright.  The son had reportedly stolen the casket from the Gethsemane Cemetery, where it was being stored inside a mausoleum awaiting burial after the ground was deemed too wet to safely excavate.

So naturally, the son takes off with the casket and body, buys a new freezer and dumps dad in the basement.  Why?  Because he was going to pray for his father to come back to life!

Clearly, Vincent Bright isn’t very.

“It’s an unusual case. It’s not something you see every day,” said court-appointed lawyer Gerald Karafa, who had asked for bail in the case, citing the lack of serious or recent criminal activity, but the prosecution lawyer argued that his actions “would seem to indicate that the defendant may have mental health issues that need to be addressed.”

You think?

It’s funny, lots of theists say the religious are not insane, but you never read these stories about atheists, do you?  No atheist ever stole the body of a deceased loved one, stuffed it into a freezer and wanted to “hope it back to life”.  I don’t care how distraught I might be, how overcome with grief I could ever imagine myself being, that’s just not an action that I would ever resort to.  Ever.

So why do people doubt that the religious, who already have absurd beliefs in their heads and magical thinking aforethought, have something mentally and rationally wrong with them?  I just don’t get it.

Fox 2 News Headlines

20 Bad Arguments for Christianity

Peter Saunders
Sadly, Peter Saunders proves himself to be a gullible fool, just like all the other Christian apologists.

** FAIR WARNING!  This post is a MONSTER, it is fairly densely written and is extremely long.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you! **

There are certainly a lot of religious frauds and crackpots running around the Internet, claiming that they’ve proven a particular religious viewpoint and often producing sad lists of “evidence” like what follows, lists which are easily shredded with even a modicum of critical evaluation.  While I don’t know if he’s one of the worst, Peter Saunders is certainly one of the most vocal on Twitter.  Tonight, I saw this list go sailing by, attached to a tweet, spammed across several atheist hashtags, I had to take a look and laugh at what I saw.

By all means, go read his original post, in fact, go poke around his site, it’s good for a giggle. Clearly he, like so many other theists, is desperately looking for some reason to believe these particular stories that they are already attached to, instead of searching for the truth wherever it may lie, that he searches out carefully tailored claims, many of which are simply untrue, to show that what he already believes is true, even if it demonstrably is not.

And so, without any more ado, here’s the latest list of “proof” that Christianity is true, according to the addled mind of Peter Saunders.

1.The uniqueness of Jesus Christ. The life, teaching, extraordinary claims and miracles of Jesus Christ as recorded by eyewitnesses are best explained by him being God incarnate: the creator and sustainer of the universe who took on human flesh.

The problem here, of course, is that the story of Jesus really isn’t unique by any means, you could only make such a claim if you were entirely ignorant of other so-called saviors.  It’s a well known fact that, to put it nicely, there was a Messiah on every street corner at the time of Jesus and in the many years that have followed.   In fact, if you examine many of the other well-known Messianic figures that would have been known in the area at the time, the parallels are quite striking.

Attis of Phrygia – Born of a virgin on December 25, he is both Divine Son and Father.  He was crucified on a tree on Black Friday, descended  into the underworld and was resurrected from the dead.  His body was eaten by his followers.

Buddha – Visited the temple when he was 12, astonished all the teachers with his wisdom, fasted in the wilderness for 47 (as opposed to 40) days, began his public ministry at about the same time as Jesus (29 vs. 30 years)

Dionysus – Born of a virgin on December 25 and placed in a manger as the Holy Child.  He traveled the land, doing miracles, including turning water into wine.  He is recorded that he “rode in a triumphal procession on an ass.”  He was killed, most likely by crucifixion or being hung on a tree, and rose again on March 25

Heracles – Son of a God, Hera tried to kill Heracles as an infant, he descends into Hades and returns, and is then taken bodily to “heaven”.

Horus – Born of a virgin, the “only begotten son of god”.  His birth was heralded by a star and he was laid in a manger.  His life was threatened as an infant, parents fled to Egypt to hide.  Was baptized in a river at age 30.  Performed many miracles like walking on water, healing the sick and raising the dead.  Was crucified, sent to hell and rose from the dead after 3 days.

Krishna – Born of a virgin, called the Son of God, Savior and considered the second part of a trinity.  Krishna, like Jesus, was of royal descent, both were visited upon their birth by wise men following a star, both had a king try to kill him in infancy and both had parents who fled to protect him.  Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura.  Both were god-men, without sin and performed many miracles including the curing of disease and the casting out of demons.  Both had a last supper, both were crucified and both were resurrected.

Romulus – Born of a virgin, a darkness covered the earth at his death and he ascended into heaven.

Zarathustra – Born of a virgin and baptized in a river, he astounded wise men in his youth with his wisdom.  He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil.  He began his public ministry at age 30.  He cast out demons and restored sight to the blind.  Followers described him as “the Word made flesh”.  Followers watch for a second coming.

All of these pre-dated Jesus and were well-known in Palestine at the time.  It was a common practice in the ancient world to adopt characteristics from other surrounding religions to incorporate into your own tales and certainly, that was done in the Jesus story.  You’d be hard pressed to find much that was actually original in the Jesus myth.  Clearly, Jesus was nowhere remotely close to being unique, in fact it’s more likely that many elements of Jesus’ supposed life were just copied from other local “Messiahs”.

2.Jesus death and resurrection. All historical records are agreed on the facts that Jesus was killed, that his dead body disappeared, that the disciples claimed to have seen him alive and that the church grew rapidly in the belief that he had been resurrected. His actual bodily resurrection in space-time history remains the best explanation for these observations.

That’s the problem, there are no contemporary historical records that even mention Jesus, much less a crucifixion.  There are no Roman records of Jesus whatsoever, even though we have very complete records for others that they put to death.  Where Peter gets the idea that all historical records are agreed, I have no idea since there are no historical records whatsoever.  If you talk to secular historians, that is, people who do history for a living and who are not religiously biased to accept these things by  faith, you will find very few who accept the historicity of Jesus at all, certainly not based on the actual evidence at hand.  Let’s look at some of the writings we do have that mention Jesus, shall we?

Flavius Josephus (37CE-100CE) – Josephus supposedly wrote, in his historical annals called Jewish Antiquities, the following:

“Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Antiquities XVIII 63f)

There are several problems with this, however.  First and most obvious, Josephus was not born during the supposed lifetime of Jesus and therefore was not an eyewitness to any of the statements he makes.  That makes him a second-hand source at best, just going by what he’s been told by others.  Secondly, however, there is evidence that this was an early Christian forgery and Josephus didn’t actually write any of this.  It doesn’t appear in any of the earliest copies of the manuscript, any that date to the time that Josephus was alive.  There is no external mention of this passage in Josephus until late in the 4th century by Eusebius, using the writings of the great Christian apologist Origen, indicating that it did not exist until then.  If Origen, who sought out such things, never mentioned it, it’s clear that it wasn’t around.  Third, it simply does not flow linguistically or stylistically with the rest of the book.  The difference in style between it and the paragraphs before and after is jarring, indicating it was written by someone else.  Finally, it makes no logical sense for Josephus, a strict Orthodox Jewish priest of high position, to have made such claims about a supposed Messiah, one that the Jews had supposedly been waiting for since antiquity, and never again in his life mention anything about it again.  There is no indication that Josephus was ever a follower of, or believer in, Jesus.  These problems make this passage beyond credibility.

Suetonius (69CE-122CE) – There is a single mention that Christian apologists make a big deal about, but which clearly doesn’t mean what they want it to mean in context:

“Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome”. Life of Claudius (XXv.4)

At issue here is the name of Chrestus, who apologists claim was talking about Christ.  Of course, that makes no sense.  First off, Suetonius wrote in Latin and “Chrestus” is the proper Latin form for a Greek name.  Suetonius spelled out Christians correctly elsewhere in his writings, proving that that wasn’t what he intended.  Further, there’s no record of Jesus ever being in Rome, certainly not to instigate an uprising from the local Jews.  And, of course, Suetonius wasn’t around when Jesus was, thus anything he might have had to say on the subject would be hearsay anyhow.  It makes no sense whatsoever to think this is a credible reference to Jesus.

Tacitus (56CE-117CE) – The great Roman historian and politician wrote the following in his Annals:

“Consequently … Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations. Called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberias at the hands of the Procurator Pontius Pilatus, and a deadly superstition, thus checked for a moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but also in the City.” Annals (XV.44.2-8)

In this passage, Tacitus, who is also not an eyewitness to anything that Jesus supposedly did, is simply informing his Roman readers of the stories about Jesus.  There is no reason to think that Tacitus actually did any research into the death of Jesus and plenty of evidence that he did not.  For one thing, Pilate was not a Procurator, he was a Prefect and no Roman records would have referred to him as such.  Much more likely, he was relating stories he had been told by early Christians.  While many historians consider the passage legitimate, there are other questions about the validity of this account, it was never mentioned by Christian apologists until the 15th century, at a time that the only copy of Tacitus’ Annals was made 600 years after his death.  Surely, if such a passage did exist earlier, it would have been made use of by many of the early Christian scholars, especially Origin and Eusebius.

Pliny the Younger (61CE-112CE) – Pliny was the provincial governor of Pontus and Bithynia, was concerned about early Christians who refused to worship the Emperor.  He sent a letter which reads, in part:

“They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: that they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery …”

Clearly, Pliny, who was the  was asking Emperor Trajan what to do about the Christians living in Asia Minor, he certainly was not talking about Jesus and, as with all the others, lived far too late to have ever seen Jesus with his own eyes.  No one is discounting the existence of Christians.  The passage itself reveals that he is simply reporting information he got from the believers themselves, not historical fact.

Thallus (?) – We know very little about Thallus because his writings do not survive to this day.  The only reference we have is a single passage from a book written by Julius Africanus around 221CE, in which he claims that Thallus recorded a darkness that fell across the land.  However, since we cannot be certain of the source material, this is simply hearsay.

Talmud – Some Christian apologists claim that references to Yeshu in the Jewish Talmud actually refer to Jesus, but of course one only has to read the passages to find them absurd.  The Talmud is very clear that Yeshu  was a student of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia, that lived at least a century before the  supposed time of Jesus.  Others claim it may refer to Yeshu ben Pandera, a teacher who lived in the 2nd century BCE, certainly too early to be our Biblical Jesus.

The Acts of Pilate is a supposed official letter written by Pontius Pilate about the execution of Jesus but no one considers it valid.  Virtually all experts consider it to be an early Christian forgery to discredit pagan criticism.

There are other sources but they are all as unreliable as the ones I’ve presented.  Sorry, there just isn’t any credible extra-Biblical source material for the factual existence of Jesus.

3.The manuscript evidence for the New Testament. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are by far the best attested events in all antiquity in terms of the number of manuscripts recording them and the closeness in time of those hand-written records to the events they describe.

Certainly not, mostly because Christians are largely ignorant of how historical sciences work.  So let’s look at this claim.  There simply are no manuscripts written during the time of the life of Jesus and there isn’t a single independent eye-witness account of the life or works of Jesus, that’s something we tackled in the previous point.  None of the people at any of his miracles penned a quick testimonial.  Nobody who watched him die on a cross bothered to write it down.  None of the many, many people who must have seen him after his supposed resurrection wrote a letter saying “hey, guess what I saw!”  Such things simply do not exist, which is a major blow to the historicity claims of Christians.  Historians operate by comparing multiple independent eyewitness accounts of events to determine if they agree on enough elements to consider the story reliable.  For the longest time, historians discounted the Trojan War, recorded only in the writings of Homer, because it lacked significant literary or archaeological evidence.  It was only after they found actual physical remains from the war itself that historians accepted that it had actually happened.  Peter’s claims about the reliability of the New Testament is simply untrue.  If you compare the writings of the Gospels, people who purported to have actually been at these events, you find an absurd amount of discrepancies.

Now I suppose that some of the early-life elements of Jesus, we can excuse these “eyewitnesses” for making errors since obviously, they weren’t there, but the story goes that the Bible was inspired by God and in Proverbs 30:5-6, it says “Every word of God is flawless,” which brings us back to the claims that are made in the Bible must, if the Bible is true, be without error.  Yes, that’s circular, but it’s what many Christians believe.

So where do the anonymous Gospel writers differ in Jesus’ early life?  It may strike you as nitpicking, but I’ll point out why it’s important in a moment.  Matthew 2:14 says that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt after his birth to escape the killing of the infant boys by Herod.  Luke 2:39 says they went straight to Nazareth without an Egyptian stopover.    That seems to be a rather important omission, especially considering that the distance between Nazareth and Egypt is 5,659 miles.  That’s quite a long distance, especially in an age where everyone walked.  It’s not like forgetting to mention a quick visit to the liquor store on the way somewhere.

So you ask, what difference does it make?  Well, very little if the writers of Matthew and Luke are just people telling stories, there’s no reason why one ought to mention something and the other not.  However, we’re talking about Godly inspiration here, God supposedly spoke through these two men and everything that these men said must, by definition, be without error.  It seems odd that God would relay details to some men and forget to do so with others.  In fact, only Matthew and Luke even mention the early life of Jesus, it seems to have completely slipped God’s mind when it came to Mark and John.

Let’s move to an event that all four writers reportedly attended then, the resurrection of Jesus.  They simply cannot get their stories straight.  How many women went to the sepulchre?  How many angels were there?  What were the women told to do?  How and where did they meet Jesus?  All of the gospels give different answers to these most basic of questions.  If they can’t get the easy stuff right, how can we trust them on the difficult parts?

Matthew 28:1 says that there were two women who went to the sepulchre, in Mark 16:1 says three women went,  Luke 24:10 said there was one, and John 20:1 says five or more.  Every single Gospel differs, yet this is the easiest possible detail to get correct.  If these four men can’t even count to five, they have no business writing a story down.

According to Matthew 28:1 it was dawn when the women went to the Sepulchre, but in John 20:1 they went before dawn, when it was still dark.  So when was it?

Who was at the tomb when the women got there?  Matthew 28:2 says there was an angel, Mark 16:5 says a young man, Luke 24:4 says there were two men, and finally John 20:12 says there were two angels.  Now while I might be able to grant that the young men were actually angels in disguise, going sans wings and halos, we’re again left with a case of writers who can’t count.

Then we’re left to wonder how these people got into the tomb in the first place.  Matthew 28:2 says that the angel rolled the stone from the entrance, but Luke 24:4 says the stone was already moved.  So when did this miraculous event happen?  Before or after the unspecified number of women showed up?

The Gospels don’t agree on where the angel(s) and/or men were either.  Matthew 28:2 says that he was outside to open the tomb… but the other Gospels they are found inside the tomb.

In Matthew 28:8 the women run to tell the disciples about what they found at the tomb.  But Mark 16:8 says they were too scared to tell anyone.  Which was it?

Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and knew it was him in Matthew 28:9, but she didn’t know it was him in John 20:14, and never saw him, but was told by angels that he was alive in Luke 24:23.  Again, we’re left with an undecipherable paradox, it’s simply not possible for someone to see another person and recognize them, to not recognize them, and not to see them at all.

Matthew 28:10 says Jesus told the disciples to go to Galilee, but in Luke 24:29 Jesus tells them to head to Jerusalem to be empowered “with power from on high”.

Again, I have to ask, if it is so utterly impossible for four men who were supposedly at the same event to relate the same story, even in the broad strokes, how can we trust anything that they have to say at all?  Credible historians would reject the Bible as a general source of historical fact, in fact, credible historians do exactly that.

4.The uniqueness of the Bible.  The uniqueness of the Bible in its continuity, circulation, translation, survival, teachings and influence along with its internal consistency despite consisting of 66 books written by over 40 authors on three continents over 1,500 years defies simple explanation and is fully consistent with its claim to be divine revelation.

This would be great if the Bible was actually internally consistent, which it is not.  It would also be great if the Bible wasn’t purposely constructed by a religious organization with an agenda, which it was.  The fact is, there were many, many more books than the 66 that made it into the Bible, some of them have been kept by Catholics in their Apocrypha.  It’s not like some of these ideas weren’t referenced in the Bible, in fact, a huge number of these books were quoted or referenced in existing Biblical texts, such as:

Poets Epimenides and Aratus in his speech at Athens (Acts 17:28).
Acts of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:29)
Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41)
Acts of Uziah (2 Chronicles 26:22)
Book of Enoch (Jude 1:14)
Book of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29)
Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13, 2 Samuel 1:18)
Book of Jehu (2 Chronicles 20:34)
Book of Samuel the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29)
Book of the Covenant (Exodus 24:7)
Book of the Law (of Moses?) (Joshia 1:8) [Same as Book of The Covenant? 2 Kings 23:2, 22:1]
Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14)
Book of Truth (Daniel 10:21)
Book of Life (Psalm 69:28)
Epistle from Laodicea to the Colossians (Colossians 4:16)
Epistle to Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:9)
Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:3)
Iddo Genealogies (2 Chronicles 12:15)
Jude, the Missing Epistle (Jude 1:3)
Letters to the synagogues in Damascus (Acts 9:2)
Nathan the Prophet (1 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29)
Nazarene Prophecy Source (Matthew 2:23)
Prophecy of Abijah (2 Chronicles 9:29)
Sayings of the Seers (2 Chronicles 33:19)
Shemaiah the Prophet (2 Chronicles 12:15)
Story of Prophet Iddo (2 Chronicles 13:22)
The Annals of King David (1 Chronicles 27:24)
Book of The Annals of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29)
book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah
Book of The Annals of King Solomon (1 Kings 11:41)
Book of The Annals of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 15:31)
The Manner of the Kingdom (1 Samuel 10:25)
Thousand Songs of Solomon (1 Kings 4:32)
Visions of Iddo the Seer (2 Chronicles 9:29)

That’s just a small list of the books that we can directly reference from the Bible, the reality is, there are literally hundreds of books that were considered at the Council of Trent.  These works have been semi-organized into various categories including the apocrypha/deuterocanonical writings and the pseudepigrapha.  Of course, we must realize that the whole point of the Council of Trent was to simply build a Bible that the attendees agreed with.  There are four criteria that were generally considered to determine if a book qualified to be in the New Testament:

  1. Inspiration – church fathers wanted to only canonize writings that they thought were “inspired by God”, they certainly recognized that the books of the Bible were not the only inspired works. Inspiration was a necessity for inclusion, it was not a guarantee of inclusion and, of course, whether or not something is inspired is wholly subjective in the first place.
  2. The Rule of Faith – this rule states that no book shall be accepted that varies from accepted scripture or that teaches false doctrines.  In other words, it won’t  be accepted if it disagrees with what the council already believes to be true, a purely fallacious and circular proposition.
  3. Apostolic Authority – to be included, the book had to be written by an Apostle of Jesus or an immediate follower of an Apostle of Jesus.  Of course, today we know that the writers of the Gospels, for instance, were never eyewitnesses of the actual person, if such existed, they are wholly anonymous authors writing under pseudonyms.  Paul, of course, was never an Apostle, nor a direct follower of an Apostle, they made exceptions for those who pretended to have mysterious experiences.
  4. Church Usage – once again, we have a circular criteria, they would not consider including a book in the Bible unless Christian churches already acknowledged it and were using it.  In other words, they’re only going to consider things true that they already consider true.

It’s clear that the Bible didn’t just spring, fully formed, from the mouth of God, it was carefully constructed by a group of men who had an agenda.  To then turn around and say “look how perfectly formed it is!” is quite hypocritical, it is the way it is because it was built that way.

In fact, I find one of the non-included books, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas to be quite entertaining.  It is supposedly written by a childhood friend of Jesus who records the clear fact that Jesus was a real dick growing up.  Found within that gospel is the following story:

3  The son of Annas the scholar, standing there with Jesus, took a willow branch and drained the water Jesus had collected.  Jesus, however, saw what had happened and became angry, saying to him, “Damn you, you irreverent fool!  What harm did the ponds of water do to you?  From this moment you, too, will dry up like a tree, and you’ll never produce any leaves or root or bear fruit.”

In an instant, the boy had completely withered away,  Then Jesus departed and left for the house of Joseph.  The parents of the boy who had withered away picked him up and were carrying him out, sad because he was so young.  And came to Joseph and accused him:  “It’s your fault – your boy did this.”

4  Later he was going through the village again when a boy ran by and bumped him on the shoulder.  Jesus got angry and said to him , “You won’t continue your journey.”  And all of a sudden he fell down and died.

Some people saw what had happened and said “Where has this boy come from?  Everything he says happens instantly!”

The parents of the dead boy came to Joseph and blamed him, saying, “Because you have such a boy, you cannot live with us in the village, or else teach him to bless and not curse.  He’s killing our children!”

So according to one of the many unacceptable Gospels, Jesus murdered at least two other children when he was a boy.  I wonder why this particular Gospel wasn’t included by the Council of Trent?

5.Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Christ.  The 39 books that make up the Old Testament contain several hundred references to the coming Messiah concerning his life, death and resurrection which were written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth but were fulfilled during his life and confirm his credentials as the promised Messiah.

While it is true that there are some references to a coming Messiah, there certainly aren’t as many as many Christian apologists pretend.  That’s because they have combed the Old Testament for anything that they could make appear might apply to Jesus and claimed it was a reference, even when, if you read it in context, it clearly is not so.  Certainly, there is no evidence that the Jews ever considered it to be a Messianic prophecy.

Perhaps the best known is Isaiah 7:14 which reads:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Lots of apologists look at that as a prophecy of a coming Messiah but it’s certainly not what it is.  In fact, this is an example of the author of Matthew trying to make up a prophecy where one doesn’t exist.  If we simply  go back to the passage in Isaiah and read it in context, we  find it’s certainly not talking about some future Messiah, but of then current events.  If you look at, say, Isaiah 7:10-16, it’s clear that this is part of a promise from God to King Ahaz, who is concerned that his kingdom is about to be overrun by two competing nations and God promises a child named Immanuel as a sign that God is with Ahaz and his people and promises that the child will still be an infant when the foreign kings are defeated.  How then can it apply to Jesus, who wasn’t born until 700 years after the death of Ahaz?  Clearly, it does not, Matthew got it wrong.  Or did he?  The fact is, Matthew was quite good at pouring over the Old Testament, taking words and phrases out of context and demanding they constituted an ancient prophecy when clearly, in context, they did not.  We’ll revisit this in the next section.

6.Biblical prophecy fulfilled in history.  The hundreds of predictive prophecies in the Old Testament and New Testaments about the fate of nations, empires and cities are consistent with supernatural revelation from a God outside the space-time continuum (Tyre, Sidon, Samaria, Gaza, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Israel).

balancerock
I can be a great prophet and push this rock over!

Of course, most of these supposed prophecies occur only in the heads of the faithful.  In order to be a demonstrable prophecy, a statement has to make a verifiable claim that such and such a thing happened at such and such a time, be demonstrably made prior to the time of the prophecy and the event cannot be something that the faithful simply caused to happen in order to fulfill the prophecy.

For instance, there are lots of precariously balancing rocks out there.  If I announced that on June 5, 2013, a specific balancing rock would fall, then took a crew of people out on June 5 and pushed the rock off it’s perch, would that be a fulfilled prophecy?  After all, I did accurately predict that it would happen, I just happen to have caused it’s fulfillment.  Clearly, we need to put some limits on what we’re going to consider a prophecy and what we’re not.  I can’t “prophesy” that last Thursday, someone will die, I already know that, it’s in the past.  Prophecies also have to be specific.  “Someday, someone will walk into a Baskin Robbins and order a vanilla ice cream cone” isn’t a valid prophecy, it’s too vague.  No, you need a specific event to happen at a specific time and in a specific place, unlikely to happen by chance, such that no one can influence the sequence events to bring it about and purposely fulfill the prophecy in order to be credible.  Unfortunately, there just isn’t anything like that in the Bible.  Let’s look at one that  gets bandied about quite a bit:

Isaiah 66:7-8 – “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.”

Apologists say wow, Israel became a nation in a day in 1948, that’s proof that Biblical prophecies are true!  Of course, that’s ridiculous, all nations are “brought forth in a moment”, the moment they declare their independence.  The United States became a nation the minute we stated we were independent of England.  Sure, we had to fight a war to back it up, but Israel has had to fight numerous wars over the past 60 years to back up their own independence.  It cannot be a moment when the world recognizes their nationhood, there are still many nations that refuse to acknowledge Israel to this day.  Clearly, this would not qualify as a prophecy.  I’d need to see someone having a vision of specific events in the future, then writing down those specific events in detail such that it is nigh impossible to misidentify those events when they come to pass in order to qualify.  Vague hand-waving and constant re-interpretation of mystic nonsense simply doesn’t do it.

7.The uniqueness of the Christian experience.  The shared testimony of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by millions of people from diverse cultures, nations, personalities, professions and time periods is unparalleled by any other ideology and consistent with the existence of a God with a universal attraction to all kinds of human beings. Each testifies to finding peace, forgiveness, the power to change and new meaning, hope and purpose through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Sorry, Christianity just isn’t all that unique.  In fact, I’d wager to say that all religious experiences are roughly equivalent in scope, if not in detail.  Most religions make claims that their gods are with them, that they feel them and have experiences with them, that they feel their prayers are answered, etc.  However, no matter how much some Christians want to call their religion a “relationship”, it makes no more sense than a small child claiming to have a “relationship” with the monsters under their bed.  You cannot have a relationship with something you cannot even prove is real.  To be honest, a Christian’s “relationship with Jesus” strikes me as little different than the unpopular guy who claims to have a beautiful girlfriend in Canada.  They’re always talking about it but they can do nothing to prove it’s real.

8.The origin of the universe.  Everything that began to exist has a cause and it is now virtually undisputed that the universe had a beginning. Any cause would have to be outside the material universe so would be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal and all powerful – characteristics shared by the God of the Bible.

Note here that, like many apologists, Peter adds an unnecessary condition to his argument, then assigns this condition to his imaginary friend in the sky, simply to make him an exception to the rule.  Truth be told, we have absolutely no examples of anything that does not “begin” to exist, it is a characteristic that is arbitrarily assigned to God in order to give him a “get out of reality free” card.  In fact, if you look at the whole of Christian argumentation, we find that the whole concept of “supernatural” is equally meaningless, we have no reason to think that anything exists outside of the natural world.  It’s all just a way to define your way to victory.  Unfortunately, it causes more problems than solutions since anyone else who wants to use that tactic can do so.  Why can’t we find Bigfoot?  Because aliens dug thousands of miles of tunnels for the Bigfoot tribe to hide in!  No evidence needed, just make something up!  It explains anything from the Loch Ness Monster to alien anal-probers and it is not subject to rational evaluation or examination.  In fact, any religion can do it.  Why can’t we find any evidence for any gods?  Just make up an explanation and claim it as truth!  If Christians want people to take their magical imaginary land and undetectable deity seriously, shouldn’t all the other religions demand the same respect of their own beliefs?  Of course, Christians won’t pay any attention, they have no interest in logic or reason, they take their stand on faith.  However, faith is a meaningless concept.  It doesn’t actually do anything useful.  It is a position that one takes when one has no good reason for doing so.

9.The fine tuning of the universe.  In order for the universe to come into being and allow intelligent life to exist, it required an astonishing series of ‘coincidences’ to have occurred. The probability that the six dimensionless constants (N, Epsilon, Omega, Lambda, Q & D) would be tuned in such a way as to allow this is infinitesimally small and the phenomenon is best explained by intelligent design.

Let’s be honest here, Peter really has no clue about any of the things he’s included on this list, he didn’t come up with any of it, he just

You are here, you think God made all the rest of it for you?
You are here, you think God made all the rest of it for you?

copied it off of another apologist website which probably did the same, repeated ad nauseum.  He has no clue about quantum mechanics or any of the other disciplines that it would take for him to verify this information is true so I’ll save him the trouble of getting educated and just tell him it’s not true.  Why is it not true?  Because it starts with a fundamental flaw in it’s reasoning.  “Intelligent life” isn’t what is being discussed here, it’s human life.  In fact, without conditions on this planet being correct, none of the carbon-based organic lifeforms that currently exist here would exist.  Peter and other apologists would seize on that statement as proof, but it really isn’t, simply because they understand the situation entirely ass-backwards.  Christian apologists think that mankind was predestined to exist, thus they work all of their assumptions off of that idea.  However, humanity was not predestined.  We evolved to fit the universe that was here.  Had the universe been different, the universe would have produced different lifeforms.  It could have also produced no lifeforms, at which point in time, nobody would be around to argue this point.  The reality is, were the universe different, it’s not hard to imagine a completely different form of life, perhaps based on silicon or flourine, with six arms and eight eyes, sitting on their form of the Internet arguing how amazing it is that the universe was so perfectly fine-tuned to support their form of life.

Humans are not very good at dealing with large numbers.  If you talk about 100-1 odds or 1000-1 odds, people might follow along but once you start talking about 1,000,000-1 odds, people’s eyes glaze over.  That is exactly the fact that apologists take advantage in by playing these number games.  So let’s play along, shall we?  Let’s look at you.  Yes, you.  The you that is there right now, reading this article, is statistically impossible.  We can go back a mere 10 generations and realize that the only way you can come about is if the exact right people, all of your male ancestors, get together with the exact right people, all of your female ancestors, at the exact right time and place, having survived disease and accident and all manner of death, to procreate with that one specific person out of the entire planet that they were supposed to.  Add to that the fact that, conservatively, a man ejaculates 40 million sperm at a time, only one carries the exact genetic material that is needed to produce you and it needs to meet with the one specific ovum, out of approximately 2,000,000 that a woman is born with.  I’m not going to throw around huge numbers here, but the chances of that happening is astronomically small.  Add to that the fact that approximately 70% of fertilized ova fail to implant and are flushed from the body.  The chances of your ancestors accomplishing all of that are staggering.

Now remember that’s just one generation out of ten that has to get it all right.

And even assuming everything was perfect, ten male ancestors found ten female ancestors, they survived to have children and exactly the right sperm met exactly the right egg and the resulting fetus made it all the way to birth successfully, which is certainly no mean feat in and of itself.  Once all of that’s done and you are born, in order to put you in precisely the place you are at right now, how many billions upon billions of events had to go exactly so in your life in order to put you where you are right this second, in front of a computer, reading these words, instead of, say, in the bathroom or dead.  The chances against it all working out exactly right are beyond belief.

Yet there you are.

As much of a mind-blower as that is, consider the larger picture.  The same thing had to happen for all 7 billion people currently alive on the planet!  To get to this exact moment in time, the chances against it are utterly incalculable.  But it all happened, didn’t it?

Of course, the rational among us would realize that none of us, where we are at the moment, was intended from the start, even 10 short generations ago.  We are where we are because of the things in the past that led up to it.  We are who we are because things happened the way they did.  If things happened differently, we’d simply be different people.  There was no planning, no goal, no intent to our existence.

The same is true of humanity as a whole.  We are not the goal of reality, we are the result.  The physical laws of the universe just so happen to permit life so life evolved.  This planet that we inhabit just so happens to support carbon-based life so that’s what developed.  We are the result of a long, long line of intertwined events that just so happened to produce us.

Aren’t we lucky?

10.Biological complexity.  Whilst it is widely recognised that random gene mutation, genetic drift and natural selection can account for a degree of biological descent with modification (evolution) the mechanisms by which proteins, DNA, unicellular organisms and new body plans could have arisen remain unexplained. Blind chance and necessity alone are unable to account for the biological complexity that we observe on planet earth and these phenomena point to intelligent design.

As soon as you see someone mention “blind chance”, you know you’re talking to someone ignorant of evolution.  As I pointed out above, chance is just not a mechanism that we can rely on, but it all depends on what one means when they say “chance”.  If we look at DNA from a chemical standpoint, we understand that the four base pairs only combine in a certain way under optimal conditions.  Thymine only combines with adenine, cytosine only combines with guanine.  It’s not random and it’s not chance.  It’s chemistry.  However, sometimes things don’t work out as they ought to.

Imagine you are putting together a puzzle and you find that two pieces which clearly do not  go together, judging by the picture on the face, happen to fit together anyhow.  For some reason, the interlocking pieces happen to be the same size and shape, allowing them to be attached.  This potentially gives rise to a mutation in the puzzle.  There are many reasons for chemical mistakes to arise and I’m not going to go into them here, except to say this is where mutations originate in biological replication.  They happen all the time statistically, although the overwhelming majority of genetic replication that goes on is without error, it happens so frequently and with so many millions of base pairs at once, that a mistake or two is going to creep in here and there.

Genes
When apologists are in doubt, they just make something up.

I’m really not qualified to go into a deep discussion of genetics and evolution.  Unfortunately, you get a lot of apologists who are equally unqualified, or let’s be honest, even more unqualified, who seem to think that “it seems to me” stories,  based on ignorance and personal incredulity, qualify as a logical argument.  I think it’s clear that a lot of apologists are simply ignorant of science and openly so, they don’t understand it and they don’t want to understand it, I think they recognize that science is inherently dangerous to their fantasy religious beliefs.  Then you have the apologists who absolutely do understand science, they simply discard it out of hand because it disagrees with what they irrationally believe to be so.  Either way, I think a short primer on how science works is in order.

First, an individual makes an observation.  Science is always based on an observation, something that happens, something they find, something objective that can be examined by anyone.  This is perhaps the greatest advantage of science, it starts off with reality, unlike faith, which cannot be independently verified in any way.

The individual then tries to come up for an explanation for that observation.  Why did it happen?  How did it occur?  What is the process behind it?  There may be many, many different hypotheses thought up at this time, it’s just a means of coming up with a lot of different ideas and possibilities that can be examined more closely down the line.  At this point, there are no right or wrong answers because none of these are answers, just possibilities.  The only requirement for a hypothesis at this stage is that it has the possibility of being verified and also that it has the possibility of being falsified.  Being able to prove an idea wrong is at least as important as being able to support it.  If there’s no possible way to prove that the idea is wrong, how can you ever hope to show that it’s right?

Thereafter though, the scientist starts looking at the various hypotheses with a critical eye.  Which, if any, of these have evidence to back them up?  How do these compare with established theories that may be related to the original observation?  They see how the math lines up, how other observations and experiments verify or invalidate a hypothesis, until the scientist is satisfied that they have an explanation they are happy with, that is experimentally verifiable and falsifiable.

Next, they publish their idea in a peer-reviewed journal where many, many other scientists will examine their ideas, take them apart, put them back together, re-perform the same experiments over again, perform new experiments that the original scientist may not have thought of, etc.  In other words, many other scientists will try their best to break the hypothesis proposed.  It is only if it stands up to this, and many other tests of it’s validity, that it may become a scientific theory.

Scientific theories seem to confuse apologists.  They are not just random guesses, as is often claimed, that would fall most  closely at the hypothesis stage.  A scientific theory is a highly verified set of statements that purports to accurately describe how an observation or process takes place.  Let’s take the most misunderstood scientific theory, the Theory of Evolution.  Evolution is a fact.  It is widely observed in nature, we know for an absolute, undeniable fact that alleles do vary in frequency in nature.  There’s no getting around that.  The Theory of Evolution, however, is an explanation of how evolution occurs.  It seeks to answer the “hows” and “whys”, it does not validate the fact, it just explains the fact.

As Stephen Jay Gould once said, “In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.”  Theories are subject to change, that is one of their greatest strengths, even though apologists purport it to be a weakness.  We learn new things every day, we will likely never know everything there is to know, thus we constantly need to integrate that new knowledge into the ideas we’ve had in the past.  Science is a cumulative effort, it improves upon itself every day.

Religion, on the other hand, does not demonstrably improve.  It does not seek new information.  It does not change it’s beliefs based on new facts.  In fact, it simply denies new facts if they disagree with what they already believe.  Whereas science starts with an observation and works it’s way up to an understanding of reality, religion works backwards.  It starts with a belief and works backwards, only looking for data that supports that belief and rejecting everything else out of hand.  It doesn’t seek a better understanding of the world, it claims to already have it and is only seeking to validate the understanding, true or not, that it currently has.

That’s why religion sucks.

11.The rationality of the universe.  The universe operates according to physical laws which are not merely regularities in nature but also mathematically precise, universal, ‘tied together’ and rationally intelligible. These phenomena point to the existence of what Einstein called ‘superior mind’, illimitable superior spirit’, ‘superior reasoning force’ and ‘mysterious force that moves the constellations’ and are fully consistent with the teachings of Christian theism.

It’s always amazing to see how badly apologists misquote scientists in a desperate attempt to make it look like the greatest minds of our time actually support their cause.  Albert Einstein was a deist of sorts, in the sense that he labeled the natural universe “god”.  He said, regarding his religious beliefs:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Execution of Giodano Bruno, burned for openly disbelieving in God.
Execution of Giodano Bruno, burned alive for practicing science.

Of course, most apologists ignore this, it  gets in the way of their baseless claims, that simply won’t do.  In fact, they’re very good at producing lists of  well-known scientists who were also Christians, as though that validates Christianity.  There certainly are some scientists who are Christians, even today, although they are by far the minority.  However, most of the theist scientists they usually come up with lived in the distant past, most certainly before the day of Darwin, the point that I’d suggest makes religion unnecessary at answering that most burning question, where did we come from?  Also, they fail to mention that these old-time scientists lived in a day when it was downright dangerous to admit publically that you didn’t believe in God.  It could get you killed, it could get you censured, it could get you imprisoned  and certainly, as so much of their pay was made by religious organizations and the universities were, with almost no exceptions, operated by the religious institutions, getting a paycheck or getting an education were difficult, if not impossible, if you didn’t pretend to be religious.

Now I certainly have no way of knowing which of those scientists were being honest about their faith and which were just playing along out of social necessity, it is interesting that in these oft-quoted lists, the overwhelming majority lived and died quite early.  In fact, in a list that I found at random, of the 13 scientists they list, 11 did their major work in the time before Darwin.

  1. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
  2. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)
  3. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
  4. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
  5. Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
  6. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
  7. Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
  8. Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
  9. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
  10. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
  11. William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907)
  12. Max Planck (1858-1947)
  13. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Of course, what they list about Einstein is patently untrue in light of his quote above.  He never believed in the Christian God, he outright rejected belief in any personal deity whatsoever.  To be honest, I suspect that had these men of science lived in the modern era, where there was no requirement to profess belief to get paid or to keep your head, it is unlikely that most of them would be professing Christians.  The modern world just doesn’t leave many rational questions unanswered or much space for God to hide in ever-shrinking gaps.

Not Bobo but an amazing simulation!
Not Bobo but an amazing simulation!

12.The human mind.  Human experience of free will, consciousness, self-awareness, conscience and a sense of meaning, purpose and destiny are all very difficult to explain within a purely materialist world view (ie. the belief that nothing exists apart from matter, chance and time). These phenomena point to, and are consistent with, a reality existing beyond the material world and are consistent with the biblical teaching that human beings are made in the image of God.

Actually, it’s not at all hard to explain and even if it were, that doesn’t give anyone license to just make shit up because they’d rather not admit that they don’t know.  That’s the real problem with religion, it simply supplies “answers” to questions we may not currently be able to address, but it provides no means to demonstrate if those “answers” are actually true or not.  I can do exactly the same thing, in fact, many years ago, I invented my own deity, dubbed “Bobo the Tree God”, to do just that.  Bobo lived in my back yard at the time, he was a young oak tree that I planted outside the kitchen window.  Bobo communicated with me telepathically and let me know his will, which I, in turn, passed on to the Christian apologists who were busy trying to convince me of the same thing with their God.  For every “answer” that Christian apologists gave, I supplied an equally absurd “answer” from the mind of Bobo.  They never bought into my answers and I never bought into theirs, no matter how many times I pointed out that both sets of “answers” had the same amount of evidence that they were so.  Sadly, Bobo blew over in a windstorm and I cut him up with a chainsaw and had him recycled into mulch, except for two branches which I fashioned into a cross with a bit of twine.  While Christians can claim their Messiah was crucified on a cross, my god actually *WAS* a cross.  I doubt that would impress them either.  Go figure.

13.The explanatory power of the Christian world view.  The Christian theistic world view described by the parameters of creation, fall, redemption and consummation has considerable explanatory power in accounting for the existence of human complexity, creativity, love, suffering, disease, evil and hope.

The problem is, while you can just make up myths that primitive man might take as explanatory, none of it is backed up by any actual evidence.  They’re just stories, not facts.  If you examine the myths in detail, you find out how little they actually have in common with the scientifically verified facts about our universe.  Let’s look at one of these claims, that the Christian theistic worldview has considerable explanatory power in accounting for disease.  That’s funny, the Bible is chock full of cases where “disease” is caused by demon possession.  In fact, right up until the Middle Ages, that was the common Christian assumption, that human disease was caused by evil spirits who got into your blood and the best way for curing people was to let copious amounts of that blood out, or to perform exorcisms and other magical rituals.  The fact is, disease has nothing to do with any of that and it wasn’t religion that came to that conclusion, it was science.  Religion really has no demonstrably true explanations for any of the things listed.  It simply makes assertions which cannot be verified or validated and pretends it holds all the cards when, in fact, it’s not even sitting at the table.

14.The universality of spiritual belief and experience.  The universal belief in, and experience of, a spiritual reality beyond the material world and in the existence of other intelligent beings in addition to human beings (gods, spirits, angels, demons, ghosts etc), along with the proliferation of different religions, is consistent with the Christian world view including the existence of a Devil whose intention is to deceive people into believing anything but the truth.

Or Christianity could be consistent with the worldview of any other religion with a devil-character, that is seeking to lead Christians astray from some other true god.  Funny, they never think of that clear possibility.  The belief certainly is not universal, as the quickly growing “nons” demographic shows.  In fact, as I’ve suggested before, in most advanced nations, it’s more likely that religion fulfills a social function than a belief function, most people who claim to hold the belief are really not clear on what they’re supposed to believe, nor do they practice most of the rituals and ceremonies that their religious beliefs would seem to demand.  They do it because they think it makes them look good to the neighbors.  In fact, I’d suspect this is true in most countries and most religions, most people pretend to believe it, not because they’ve examined it and found it to be true, but because it’s what they’re expected to believe.

I would suggest there’s even evidence of this in the Bible if we look at the Ten Commandments story where Moses boogies up the side of a mountain to commune with God, the children of Israel, who have supposedly directly witnessed the awe and majesty of God, waste no time building a golden calf to bow down to the second Moses is out of sight.  Why?  Because they never really bought into the whole God thing in the first place.  The second someone stops goading them, in this case Moses, they go off and do something else because belief and worship in God just doesn’t matter that much.

15.The moral law.  The universality of moral beliefs and conscience, and the similarities of moral codes across times, continents and cultures, point to the existence of moral laws and a supernatural law giver. The moral laws outline in the Decalogue (ten commandments) encapasulate these principles of respect for life, marriage, property and truth and their observance leads to more stable and enduring societies. These observations are consistent with the existence of a moral God who has designed human society to operate according to moral norms and who reveals moral principles.

Except for the fact that there are no universal moral beliefs, this is something I’ve pointed out many times in the past and no matter how many times you repeat a falsehood, it will never become true.  Of course, you can just look at the Bible and see all of the horrors supposedly visited upon man by this imaginary “moral” god.  In fact, let’s be honest, the Bible displays God as a massive fuck-up.  God creates this perfect world and puts two people in it.  Almost immediately, they’re off eating fruit God didn’t want them to eat so he casts them out.  Then the whole world becomes wicked so he sends a flood and kills almost all of the people and most of the animals, who really never did anything wrong.  Then the Israelites piss him off again so he sends them into slavery in Egypt.  When they get out, they wander around for 40 years, Moses goes up a mountain to talk to God and everyone starts worshipping a golden idol.  Why can’t God ever get any of this right?  What a pathetic loser.

16.Lives changed by Christian faith.  The power of Christian faith and prayer to change behaviour and improve human functioning in restoring the lives of those suffering from addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography and other enslaving activities or in reforming antisocial and criminal behaviour and strengthening marriages, families and societies is unparalleled.

This kind of claim always makes me shake my head at it’s absurdity.  First off, it’s a disingenuous claim because it offers no evidence or even a significant definition of terms.  I’m sure that any religion can claim, equally well, that it changes the  lives of it’s adherents.  What makes Christianity and better than Buddhism or Hinduism?  Secondly though, it’s just blatantly false.  If we look at prison entry statistics, for example, we find that Christianity is far over-represented in prison populations in relation to their percentage in the regular population.  That means that Christians commit *MORE* crimes than non-Christians.  Atheists, by way of comparison, are far under-represented, last time I looked were less than .5% of incarcerated criminals.  Beyond that, Christianity has strengthened marriages?  Seriously?  More than 50% of all marriages end in divorce and Christian marriages fare far worse than pretty much any other group!

17.Christian reformation of society.  The reformation of British society in the 19th century (and many similar phenomena elsewhere in the world throughout history) through such moves as the abolition of slavery, child labour, child prostitution, prison reform and the establishment of schools and hospitals through the work of Wilberforce, Booth, Fry, the Clapham Sect and others was largely the result of the evangelical revival of the 18th century and lends strong support to the existence of a redemptive supernatural God who changes and shapes human lives and societies.

To be honest, many of those things Peter wants to claim Christianity “reformed” were things that Christianity set up in the first place.  While he  does specifically mention England, he also makes reference to similar phenomenon elsewhere in the world and since I don’t really feel like running this by my best friend, who is a historian that specifically works on the British slave trade and would tell Peter he was full of bullshit, I’ll shift this to the U.S. instead.  While there’s no question that there were some Christian groups involved in the abolition of the American slave trade, there’s no doubt whatsoever that many, many Christian groups were responsible for helping to set it up in the first place.  In fact, the majority of U.S. racist organizations  are specifically Christian and believe strongly that blacks are inferior based upon a particular reading of the Bible.  I won’t even mention the Mormons, who are blatantly racist, because Peter would likely not accept them as Christian.  Further, while we can certainly point to the involvement of Christians in some of the other causes he lists, that’s mostly because a majority of people in the United States claimed to be Christian at the time, it’s hardly surprising that many would be involved, although certainly, you cannot point to Christianity, as a philosophy, as being the major cause of any of these movements.

18.The work of Christian missions.  The development of education, healthcare and societal reform in the developing world owes a great deal to the work of Christian missionaries motivate by the love of Christ who underwent great hardship and made great sacrifices to assist and empower those marginalised through ignorance, superstition or poverty. If Christianity were true we would expect it also to result in demonstrable good across nations and cultures.

Yet this is exactly what we don’t see.  If you look at the nations where Christian missionaries have done the most work, especially those where Christianity has taken hold, you see things like Uganda, which is culturally ruled by Christianity and which said Christianity routinely murders unbelievers.  The only thing you can really say that missionaries have done right is feeding the poor, something that is done as well or better by purely secular charities.  You can’t even count education because all they’re doing is filling these poor, ignorant kids’ heads with religious garbage.  It’s not so much education as indoctrination and that’s never a good idea.

19.The plausibility of Christian eschatology.  The emergence of a one-world government under the leadership of an antichrist, antagonistic to God, based on the worship and pursuit of material things, strongly opposing Christian faith, dominating through economic control and resulting in massive environmental destruction seems increasingly plausible given recent historical experience and the current trajectory of world history.

That’s not plausibility, it’s inevitability.    As the world becomes more and more intertwined, it seems likely that someday, a worldwide government will be set up.  Of course, I find it rather silly that he claims that something that has not come to pass, something that isn’t even remotely close to coming to pass, somehow demonstrates that the Christian worldview is plausible.  Of course, the most outrageous claim, that this supposed one-world government will be led by “an antichrist” (why not *THE* antichrist?  Is Peter channeling Nostradamus here?) is wholly unsupported by anything but the most extreme and blind faith.  Funny how he’s ascribing motivations to a government that may be decades or centuries away.

20.The phenomenon of Israel.  The history, laws, influence and endurance of the nation of Israel through over 4,000 years of world history whilst world empires have come and gone, the maintenance of its national identity and central place in world affairs through war, persecution and holocaust, its recent restoration to Palestine and the educational and cultural achievements of its people are unparalleled but fully consistent with its special status as described in the biblical record and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Israel might be more impressive were it not for the fact that everything that has happened to it since 1947 has been at the behest and hand-holding of the United States and England.  Those nations felt guilty for not stopping the Holocaust faster and therefore, largely for religious reasons that had nothing to do with Judiasm, forcibly set up the nation of Israel and have had to constantly provide aid and support to keep it from being blasted off the map constantly.  This is certainly not what we’d expect to see from a nation, favored by some magical God, it is, however, exactly what we would expect to see from a heavily Christian nation, the fundamentalists of which believe that Israel must exist as a nation in order to have the Jews killed and the nation destroyed in the end times.  All Israel is to the American evangelical is the material component to their Summon Jesus spell.  They have to keep it around and reasonably intact so the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can ride into Jerusalem swinging swords.  This is the kind of theistic fact forcing that is most laughable.  God didn’t establish the modern nation of Israel, we did.  God hasn’t kept it safe.  We have.  God hasn’t funded it.  They’ve been our largest foreign aid recipient for decades.  Frankly though, the nation of Israel hasn’t been very nice, they consistently violate international civil rights laws  and UN mandates.  I think they ought to be taken out.

Conclusion:  I didn’t intend this post to be this long, but when you’re given source material that is this absurdly and ridiculously wrong, sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  Unfortunately, this isn’t out of the ordinary, there are hundreds upon hundreds of Christian apologist websites out there with the same kind of absurd, irrational drivel, abject lies and utter ignorance.  This is what happens when you start with a worldview that is not primarily concerned with the facts.  Christians find something on a website and instead of verifying that it’s actually so, they pick it up verbatim and stick it on their own blogs, as though, just because they agree with it, it’s got to be so.  That’s the failure of religion.

I’m sure that if Peter Saunders ever saw this post, he wouldn’t bother to read it, I’m sure the majority is above his head anyhow, he’d just condemn me to hell, call me a heretic, insist his beliefs are right and cling to them even more tightly.  This isn’t about truth, it’s about making bullet points.  They don’t expect the faithful to think much beyond the sentence or two that follows, they don’t want anyone to ask themselves if what’s said is actually so, according to theists, the devil is always in the details.  That’s why they ignore the details.  That’s also why it’s a good thing that there are a lot of dedicated, sometimes insanely so in my case, atheists and skeptics who keep holding their feet to the fire.  Yes, I know they don’t care, but for the people looking on, for the people who actually care about reality, those are the people that we spend our time on, to show just how ridiculous religion actually is.

Let’s all keep working hard to inform the rational of the world.

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.

More Gun Stupidity

Los Angeles Rocket LaunchersIn the after math of the Newtown shooting, the LAPD decided to move up their annual “gun buy-back” program, placing it the day after Christmas and offering gift certificates between $100-200 for each firearm turned in.  They do get a significant turn-in each year, even if a lot of the weapons are old, rusty junk not capable of harming anyone, stolen weapons, etc.  This year, however, was a bit different, although it displays the utter stupidity of the system more clearly than anything else I could imagine.  This year, they netted two “rocket launchers”.

Chief Charlie Beck and moron Los Angeles mayor Tony Villar immediately started dancing in front of the cameras, media whores that they are, saying they’ve accomplished amazing things and taken dangerous weapons off the streets.  According to Beck, “Those are weapons of war, weapons of death.  These are not hunting guns. These are not target guns. … they have no place in our great city.”

The problem is, those “rocket launchers” were not a remote danger to anyone.  Actually, they weren’t “rocket launchers” at all, one was a single-use grenade launcher that had already been used and could not be reloaded and the other was a training grenade launcher that could never have been used at all.  Both are freely available at military surplus stores and online.  So the LAPD paid someone up to $200 for useless plastic tubes and then made a big deal over it.  Give me a break.

When it was pointed out to the police that the weapons were useless, that they lacked the projectiles and the parts to make them a danger to anyone, police were still adamant that they had no place in Los Angeles.  Most likely, the already-fired unit was brought back from Iraq or Afghanistan by a serviceman as a souvenir and the other could have been picked up on eBay for cheap.

Something tells me these people ought to take a look at the weapons they’re taking in and paying people for.  Somehow, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they paid someone $200 for a kid’s toy gun.  It’s just the stupidity of the city of Los Angeles.

Crazy Enviro-whackos and their Cars

Tesla CarsWe all know the silly Hollywood liberals who drive around in their special little Prius’ and act superior to everyone else.  However, there’s an even harder-core group that doesn’t want a gasoline engine at all, but still recognizes that they have to have a vehicle for transportation.  There’s a particular subset that I’ve run into who are strongly pushing the wholly electric vehicles, in particular, those made by California-based company Tesla.

At the moment, Tesla offers two models, a 4-door coupe, the Model S, which has a rage of 160 miles and starts at about $57,400 before tax credit.  Their high-end model, the Tesla Roadster has a range of 245 miles, a top speed of 125mph and starts at $109,000.  These are the stripped down base models, with extras your Roadster can easily surpass $130,000.

You’ve got to think, wow, for that amount of money, you’re really going to get something special, right?  Well… no.  Tesla cars just aren’t particularly good compared to gas-powered vehicles in the same class and price range.  In fact, you can get superior performance out of a vehicle that costs $10,000-$30,000 less, depending on model.

There were a couple of people talking about how amazing the Tesla Roadster was, that even at $109,000, it could go 125mph and make 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.  How outstanding!  Well sure, unless you look at the cars you could buy for less than $109,000 that manage similar or better numbers.  For about the cost of a Tesla Roadster, you could buy a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 with a top speed of 205mph and can manage 0-60 in 3.4 seconds.  There are several high-end Mercedes Benz models in that range as well that perform as well or better than the Tesla.  Or you could just go with a Nissan GT-R R35, which does 193mph, makes 0-60 in 2.8 seconds and costs less than $80k.  There’s a huge list of cars that do much better than the Tesla.

But what about the Model S?  Most people don’t need a sportscar, the Model S was designed to  be a luxury coupe, surely it’s a good buy at almost $60,000, right?  Well, no.  Just skimming new luxury car prices online, I found a lot of cars that are much better and much cheaper than the Model S.  How about:

BMW 3 Series starting at $40,400.
Audi A5 starting at $43,600.
Audi Q7 starting at $46,250
Mercedes Benz SLK starting at $42,500.
Mercedes Benz C-Class starting at $44,370.
Mercedes Benz E-class starting at $49,800.
Infinity G37 Coupe starting at $40,900.
Cadillac CTS Coupe starting at $40,615.

People have complained how sparse the interior of Tesla vehicles are, that certainly doesn’t apply to the cars I’ve listed.

So what’s really behind this electric car madness?  It isn’t the quality of the vehicle, the efficiency of the vehicle or the performance of the vehicle, it’s a means to feel good about yourself as you drive around town in your over-priced prick-mobile.  Sure, you’re not burning gasoline when you’re driving around in your limited-range electric car, but you still have to charge it and where do you think the power comes from?  Oil and coal-burning plants!  Studies have shown that electric and hybrid vehicles require a lot more energy to produce than gas-powered vehicles.  It is true that if you drive your vehicle for an extended period of time, eventually, somewhere around 160,000 miles, the hybrid vehicle gas savings do win out over the gas vehicle costs, but seriously, how many people today drive their car that far?  The production of the batteries results in a huge release of greenhouse gasses, such as sulfur oxide.  We’re looking at 22 pounds of gasses for every hybrid on the market, higher for pure electrics, compared to 2.2 pounds for a gas-powered vehicle.  Further, the use of rare earth elements like lithium, essential for magnets used in hybrid engines, are almost exclusively mined in China and they are cheap, owing to the fact that China largely ignores environmental safeguards in their mining process.  In one case alone, in the Bayan Obo region of China, miners stripped the topsoil and separated out the lithium with acids which got into the ground water and obliterated nearby agricultural lands.  If China were required to follow accepted safe practices, the cost of lithium and thus the cost of hybrid and electric cars would increase dramatically.  Your $60k Tesla might cost you $100k.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of alternate fuels and if we can do it and protect the environment, that’s great.  However, the current wave of electric and hybrid vehicles just aren’t doing it.  In order to produce a new vehicle type that replaces the gas-powered car, you need to make something that is as good or better than the current cars on the market.  Electrics and hybrids simply are not.  There are four points where any alternative energy vehicle needs to be able to compete with what’s currently on the market:

  1. Performance
  2. Cost
  3. Range
  4. Ease of refueling

As you can see, electric vehicles especially fail at all four.  They do not perform as well as similarly priced gas vehicles, they cost far more than similarly equipped gas-powered vehicles, their range is woefully inadequate and recharging the batteries takes far, far, far longer than simply pulling into a gas station.  When traveling outside of town, especially on a long road trip, an electric vehicle becomes wholly untenable.  When you can go a maximum of 250 miles before recharging, what do you do when you’re heading across country?  Tesla test-drove their car from Los Angeles to Las Vegas non-stop, which stretched the vehicle to it’s limits.  Okay, you did that.  How do you come back?  Let’s say you’re staying at one of the hotels on the Las Vegas strip.  Do you think the hotel is going to let you run a long extension cord out to your car?  So I ran over to Tesla’s site to see what a typical recharge under realistic conditions would be.  To charge the battery for a 250 mile return trip, in your hotel parking lot, on a 110V outlet, it would take you… get this… over 54 hours to charge your battery.  What’s better, 54 hours without being able to move your car, or 5 minutes at a gas station?

So why do automakers produce these things?  Two reasons.  First off, because there is a decent portion of the auto-buying public that only cares about image.  They want to feel good about themselves without really caring if they’re helping the environment.  Secondly, because government regulations require a certain percentage of their fleet high a specific mileage standard.  Hybrids can hit that number because they use their electric engine a certain percentage of the time.  Electric cars have no requirements.  They make a certain number of models that get high mileage so they can make all the vehicles that people actually want that fall below the standards.  You know, the trucks and SUVs.

I’d love to see someone come up with a new vehicle technology that can actually compete with what we already have on the roads.  Then, and only then, will I say the day of the gas-powered vehicle is coming to an end.  However, that’s just not the case today and it doesn’t look like it will be any time soon.  Isn’t it about time we stop looking down our noses at people who aren’t driving these over-priced, under-powered, under-equipped monstrosities and accept that they are, in every conceivable metric, inferior to what we already have?

Political Dishonesty

Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of my time in the very liberal blogosphere, but I tend to see these cherry-picked lines tossed around, mostly as a means to show how stupid or reprehensible neo-conservative public figures are.  Most of them are a few words, ripped entirely out of context, held up as though, aha!, you discovered something!

Mostly, the only thing they discovered is how to be inherently dishonest.  The Twitterverse is probably the worst at it, given their limited character count, but I see this nonsense every day throughout the liberal landscape.

I wanted to address two of them that have happened relatively recently.

First, the comment, made by Wisconsin Senator Roger Rivard, was made last December, which was thrown around the online liberal community as proof that Republicans think rape is a good thing.  Never mind that in context, it said nothing of the sort.

“[My father] also told me one thing, ‘If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry,’ ” Rivard said. “Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.’ All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she’s underage. And he just said, ‘Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,’ he said, ‘they rape so easy.’

And you know something?  Rivard’s father was absolutely right.  There are plenty of  cases where women will decide, retroactively, that having sex was a mistake, they get pregnant, they get a disease, they get mad at the guy and want revenge, so they call the cops and declare that they were raped, even though, at the time of the incident, it was entirely consensual.  This doesn’t take away from the many, many cases of legitimate rape where a man forced himself on a woman and their interaction was never consensual, it only addresses those cases where the woman decides, after the fact, that something that was consensual no longer is.  Rivard might be a dick in a lot of ways, but he said nothing wrong here, it’s just blatant dishonesty and smear tactics by the liberal left that this was ever brought up as a problematic phrase.

The second came from this year’s second Presidential debate in which Mitt Romney made mention of “binders of women”.  While I didn’t actually watch any of the debates this year, or any other year for that matter, I was sitting on Twitter while this nonsense was flying past.

“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can’t we—can’t we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”

This one was just idiotic, yet it became a meme for weeks thereafter, I still see people talking about “binders of women”.  Dumbasses, look to the right.  That’s a binder.  If you put a bunch of applications and resumes from women in it, it’s a binder that contains information on women.  The company they used back in the day confirms that they did indeed use binders of that sort and they did indeed hand the Romney people binders of those applications and resumes from women.  Yet you have a bunch of Internet liberals trying to imply that Romney wants to tie women up or somesuch because they don’t comprehend the meaning of a word?  Or, more likely, because they’re just dishonest and want to smear a candidate over something entirely innocent.  I don’t particularly like Romney, although I voted for him as the lesser of the two evils, but shit, people, let’s at least pretend we understand the meaning of the word “integrity”.

There are many, many other examples I could give of just this kind of thing too, it’s far too common among the liberal left, and don’t think I’m letting the Republicans off the hook when they do it, it’s just as reprehensible there.  I don’t care if you snag a snippet of text, so long as you’re using it accurately to reflect a position that a politician actually takes.  That’s entirely fine.  But when you take a few words out of the middle of a sentence, rip it completely out of context and then promote it as something entirely different than what was actually said, that’s sleazy.  Now granted, “honesty” and the “Internet” are often oxymorons, it’s disgusting to me how many people are so ridiculously proud of themselves being blatantly dishonest.  If you’re pointing out the insanity that the religious say and what you’re claiming is demonstrably factually true, then trumpet it from on high.  Just make sure you have your facts straight before you start doing it, otherwise, like with the liberals lying about the neo-conservatives, you’re not only no better than they are, you’re worse.

Stop Being So Damn Stupid!

Stupid is…

I’m sorry, this is a short rant, but damn it, I’m sick and goddamn tired of watching both sides in this idiotic Atheism+ debacle act like a bunch of 5-year olds throwing tantrums.  You people pretend to be reasonably mature, intelligent, rational adults, but damn it, if some of you just don’t act like that.  They act like two warring camps of chimps flinging poo at each other.  Now maybe this has been going on for a long, long, long time, in fact, I’m sure it has, but now that I’ve rejoined the wonderful world of Twitter, I get this nonsense thrown at me 24/7.

Just in recent news, the feminist Atheism+ assholes started a petition to get Justin Vacula thrown out of his unpaid co-director position with the SCA.  In so doing, they demonstrably lied through their teeth, every single fact they used that supposedly proved he was unqualified were out-and-out falsehoods.  People did the research and proved they were blatantly wrong and instead of admitting, mea culpa, let’s fix this, they banned the guy who proved them wrong.  This is the maturity level of many of the people in leadership roles with Atheism+.

But hey, not to be outdone, you get people on the other side starting a petition to get Stephanie Zvan ousted from her position with Atheist Voices of Minnesota.  This isn’t the first time someone has petitioned to get an individual removed from a project, last time was Rebecca Watson as a contributor on a podcast.  Now, it’s Zvan as a contributor to a book.  A CHARITY BOOK for crying out loud!  Are you people out of your fucking minds?!?!?!

I’m going to explain this to you very slowly, and with little words so you mental midgets can get it through your tiny, pea brains.  If you don’t like someone and they’re on a podcast, don’t listen to the podcast.  If you don’t like someone and they’re in a book, don’t buy the book.  If you don’t like someone and they’re in a leadership role with an organization, don’t join that organization.  But for heaven’s fucking sake, all of you, GROW THE FUCK UP!

That is all.

Finance Page Without Financial Sense

Because accounting for costs is just a rip-off.

Yahoo Finance posted this list of 20 things that supposedly have massive markups, which should make consumers pissed off.  Of course, they entirely ignore the context of all of these, thus making it clear that they’re not worthy of being on a credible financial site.  So, unlike Yahoo, let’s put some of these items back into their proper context and see exactly *WHY* these things are so “overpriced”.

Movie theater popcorn/candy

What’s harder to digest: (1) Movie theater popcorn has an average markup of 1,275 percent, or (2) With a soda, that popcorn has a caloric equivalent of three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders? Nutrition aside, concessions like $5 tubs of popcorn and $6 boxes of gummy worms are big revenue streams for movie theaters.

What Yahoo fails to recognize is that movie theaters make virtually nothing from the movies they play, the overwhelming majority of ticket prices go straight back to the studios, leaving the individual theater owners with virtually nothing.  They have to pay for electricity, air conditioning, employee costs, building costs, taxes, etc.  Their income has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is high prices on concessions.  They’re not only big revenue streams, they are often the *ONLY* revenue streams.  Take that away and every theater in America closes overnight.

Prescription drugs

Astronomical prescription drug prices – with markups ranging from 200 to 3,000 percent – are enough to give patients a headache. In fact, price hikes caught the eye of Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne, who is suing pharmaceuticals distributor McKesson Corp. for markups on Allegra, Celebrex, Coumadin, Flonase, Lipitor, and Valium.

Prescription drugs have absurdly high development costs, a drug company is already hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole before a drug ever comes to market, if it ever does at all.  Most drug companies fail to produce viable drugs at least as often as they do marketable medications.  All of those costs must be paid for, it’s not done for charity.  Further, there are several levels of distribution that must be paid for, each of which marks up the price significantly.  A bottle of pills that costs the consumer $100 (assuming no insurance), was probably marked up 30-40% by the pharmacy, 30-40% by the distributor and 30-40% by the manufacturer.  That bottle may have only cost $5 to make, but it has to pay for hundreds of people down the line.  And finally, one of the biggest cost increases suffered by drugs is the legal factor.  With as many lawsuits as are filed today, a company has to build up a fund to fight off these suits and that money has to come from somewhere.  Every single pill that is sold, like it or not, has a tiny bit that goes into the fund for paying off stupid people who don’t know how to read prescription drug instructions.

Diamonds

Shoppers in the market for a diamond should be prepared to pay anywhere from 50 percent to 200 percent more than the wholesale cost, according to TheStreet.com. Information at this Google Answers page suggests markups range from 50 to 400 percent.

Some of these, like this, is based on what the market will bear.  People have been willing to pay that amount for diamonds, that’s what ends up being charged.  You also have to remember that most wholesale diamonds are not in settings, you just get a rock.  Sure, in order to get that diamond set by an expert gem cutter, you’re going to pay more.  Who wouldn’t expect that?

Bottled water

Some claim bottled water’s markup reaches 4,000 percent – more expensive than gasoline. Saving is simple: drink tap water. If you’re concerned about taste or quality, use a water filtration system.

Assuming that you are talking about actual bottled water from some source other than the city system, then it’s up to you to determine if it’s worthwhile.  I never thought so, I just have a filter on my refrigerator-based water source and I can’t tell the difference between bottled water and tap water.  However, perceived value in many cases overrides actual value, some people are more comfortable buying bottled, what business is it of yours if they want to do so?

Salad bars

Some salad bar items are marked up more than 350 percent, according to Food Network Magazine. Items that aren’t worth their weight: chickpeas (386 percent markup over retail), radishes (302 percent), and baby corn (277 percent). To save, load up on the lighter items that cost less than you’d pay at the grocery store, like bacon bits (55 percent markdown) and grilled chicken (44 percent).

I love how they say “to save”.  You’re not saving anything.   You’re paying a flat rate for the salad bar whether you eat all the expensive stuff or all the cheap stuff.  Your cost doesn’t change whatsoever.  At most, it costs the restaurant a little more money, which is usually offset by others paying the same amount and eating the cheaper items.  This really strikes me as stupid.  It’s like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet and complaining that you got ripped off because you could only eat two plates.  Whose fault is that?

Eyeglass frames

Dishing out $450 for Armani frames? Markups for eyeglass frames can reach 1,000 percent. That’s certainly not unheard of. Fortunately, focusing on warehouse stores and the Internet can help you find discounts. Check out 8 Ways to Save on Eyeglasses for more ways to save up to 90 percent.

Alright, wait a minute.  You’re the one complaining about cost, then you start off bitching about custom, designer frames?  I think I see your problem!  People will willingly shell out big bucks for a name or a logo on their product, if that doesn’t describe you, don’t do it.  There’s plenty of other  frames available for less money.  Plus, you have to remember that the cost of the frames usually includes the fitting and installation of the lenses, something that’s just not free.

Fountain soda

Order a glass of Coke when you’re dining out, and you could pay 300 to 600 percent over cost. Sure, you know going into a restaurant that you’re paying for the service and ambiance too. But if you’re looking to save without sacrificing a night out, skip the extras like soda and opt for water instead.

And you notice that in most places, fountain soda is all-you-can-drink, right?  Depending on where you’re going, the cost of the wait staff is also included, in part, in the cost of every food item you order.

Text messages

Outgoing text messages on a cell phone can cost the provider three-tenths of a cent, but users up to 20 cents – that translates to a 6,000 percent markup. Some plans charge 10,000 times more for sending a text than other types of data. If you frequently send text messages, get an unlimited plan.

Seriously, there are people out there without unlimited plans?  I know there are, but that seems so utterly stupid to me.  Then again, I know people who pay for long-distance phone calls too, when most plans are free calls anywhere in the continental U.S.  I don’t look at this as companies screwing people, I look at it as a tax on stupid folks.  Honestly, I still run into a few people here and there who don’t have unlimited Internet.  Seriously?  The last time I didn’t have unlimited access to the net was back in the mid-90s.  Since then, I can go anywhere, do anything, download anything I want and never have to worry about exceeding my bandwidth.  Why would anyone do any different?

Wine/champagne

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to charge two or even three times retail for a bottle of wine. Order by the glass, and you’re sipping on an item marked up as much as 400 percent. So scan the menu for a reasonably priced bottle (look for house wines).

Or just don’t drink.  The fact is, if a restaurant has to open a bottle for you to drink out of, they lose the ability to sell that bottle to others.  Therefore, you pay a premium for the privilege of taking a bottle off the market.  Further, the storage and maintenance costs for wine and champagne isn’t cheap and that’s even more money required to be passed on to the consumer.

Hotel minibars

Whether you’re reaching for a Snickers or a toothpaste kit, minibar markups can hit 400 percent. Some of the most ludicrous minibar prices, according to Oyster.com: $14 gummy bears at Omni Berkshire Place and a $10 bottle of water at the Mansfield Hotel. Simple solution: Leave your room and prices drop significantly.

It’s a convenience fee, hotels provide minibars specifically for people who are too lazy to leave their hotel room.  Nobody is holding a gun to your head, making you eat it.  I can honestly say I have never, even once, had anything from a minibar in my life.  I plan ahead, I usually bring a cooler of drinks with me for consumption in the room and the only thing I usually ever use in the hotel is ice, which is free.

Coffee and tea

Lattes are one of life’s little luxuries, but they can be marked up by 300 percent. If you’re looking to save, start by turning on your coffeemaker and bypassing the coffee shop.

Once again, this is a matter of people being willing to pay more for status.  Having a cup of coffee from home isn’t nearly as socially empowering as having one from Starbucks.  As far as I’m concerned, the more social-conscious you are, the more you want to show off, the more you deserve to get ripped off.  No sympathy at all for this one.

Handbags

Some of the world’s most expensive handbags: a $3.8 million purse made by The House of Mouawad in Dubai that’s adorned with more than 4,000 colorless diamonds and a $1.9 million Hermes Birkin bag.

Women own an average of 10 handbags and spend an average of $148 on a handbag “splurge,” according to a ShopSmart poll. Keep more cash in your purse by comparison-shopping online and in outlet stores. For more tips, read our story on Finding Designer Accessories at Deep Discounts.

I quoted this one, just to tell people they’re fucking out of their minds.  Women own an average of 10 handbags?  Are they idiots?  My wife owns, I think, a total of 2, one big one and one small one and I don’t think she spent more than $25 on any of them.  Three if you count the fanny-pack she uses when she goes to conventions and the like.  She has one that she uses daily, then if she’s going somewhere that doesn’t require all of the junk she usually carries, she’ll transfer the stuff she really needs into a smaller one.  Honestly, any woman who spends $148 on a fucking bag is a goddamn moron.

Designer jeans A $665 price tag on Gucci jeans and $225 for Sevens proves some shoppers are willing to go to great lengths for fashion. But these designer items are grossly overpriced. According to The Wall Street Journal, it costs about $50 to make True Religion’s best-selling jeans, Super T Jeans, but the wholesale price reaches $152 and the average retail price is inflated to $335.

Same thing here.  You people are idiots.  Who in their right mind would spend that much money on a pair of jeans?  I can get jeans at Walmart for $20 all day.  Once again, this is a tax on the gullible and stupid.  Those who would spend that much deserve to get fleeced.

Bakery goods

For items that can easily be baked at home, you could be paying a 100 percent markup. Granted, convenience is a factor, and maybe a baker is a better cook than you. If so, a good cookbook could offer a decent return on investment.

This is really where we start getting back to a poor understanding of economics from the financial page.  Convenience is the whole point of buying food from others.  It doesn’t matter what kind of food you get or where you get it, you’re paying more for the completed product than you would be if you just did it yourself.  That’s because, in addition to the food that you eat, you have to pay for all the people who make it for you!  I find it unbelievable that the moron who wrote this for Yahoo is so utterly clueless.

Greeting cards

Greeting cards are simple pieces of paper with a 200 percent markup. And that’s before factoring in so-called “Hallmark holidays.” On a budget? Make your own cards – or better yet, if you have school-aged children, have them design one. This will likely amount to a more sentimental gesture and will leave a lasting impression.

Because nobody has to get paid for any of these things, right?  Not the designer, not the company that produces them, not the printers that print them, nor their reps that put them into stores, nor the store itself that has to make a profit.  Nope, you’re getting ripped off because you’re relying on other people to do something that you ought to just have your kids do.

College textbooks

Most college students will shell out about $655 for required textbooks this year, according to the National Association of College Stores. It’s no secret that most of these books come with monster markups. Read 11 Ways to Save Big on College Textbooks for cost-cutting tips, from asking professors about coursework in advance to textbook rentals.

The reality is, beyond having to pay for all the people in the college bookstores who are selling you the books, college texts are more expensive because they are produced in very small quantities.  Small print runs mean more expensive books.  When you start realizing that these books, which may be many hundreds of pages long, may only be printed in runs of hundreds or a few thousand, instead of a mainstream book that runs hundreds of thousands of books at a time, it’s no wonder they are more expensive.

Flowers

An orchid can cost up to $25 per stem. Add Valentine’s Day or a wedding into the mix, and prices can surge. While disregarding flower purchases altogether isn’t always an option, shopping around for the best price is. Check out online retailers, and buy in season to help cut costs.

Brick-and-mortar flower dealers have a storefront they have to pay for and every flower you buy carries some of those costs.  Online retailers may be cheaper because they don’t have those up-front costs, but many times, they never see the flowers they are selling you, they just have the growers ship them directly.  You take a chance of getting something sub-standard because the people you’re giving your money to are not the people who grow or process the flowers.

Produce

Produce is often marked up as much as 75 percent. Buying in season is the best way to find a bargain. As we explain in our Seasonal Savings post, look for deals on grapefruits and oranges in January, asparagus in March, and melons in May. Also steer clear of pre-cut veggies and fruit, which often have an additional markup of about 40 percent.

Produce has a massive spoilage rate, sometimes nearly 50% of the produce that a grocery store receives from growers goes bad before they can sell it.  That’s just waste, they don’t get to return it for credit, it goes into the trash.  Therefore, produce prices must reflect that cost.  Duh.

Furniture and mattresses

Furniture stores usually make a hefty margin, with markups of about 80 percent. Try to shop during sales, but if your timing is off, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price. Also take note of the product number and then search online to see if any other retailers offer a lower price.

Online retailers, which are the only ones that may have a significant savings, are also going to hit you with shipping costs which will eat up virtually all of the savings you might get.  Like many things we’ve discussed, many “name brand” and “designer” items are going to carry a higher cost because people are usually willing to pay more for status-symbol products.  If you don’t like that, buy store-brand or no-name merchandise which will almost certainly be priced lower.  I find it funny that the “expert” who wrote this neglected to mention that.

Cosmetics

The average markup on cosmetics: 78 percent. Since most cosmetics are made from various combinations of dirt, oil, wax, and fragrance, it’s surprising that shoppers pay such a premium. But thanks to anti-aging claims and celebrity-endorsed marketing, shoppers have been breaking the bank to look younger and more beautiful for years. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to get more bang for your buck when purchasing beauty products (skip the drugstores and load up on free samples).

I really can’t stand women who use cosmetics, slapping crap on your face isn’t going to make you a better person and the whole industry appeals to shallow, stupid idiots who think they can buy their way to success instead of earning it.  I love the suggestion to steal all the free samples.  Hey, screw the stores which often pay for those sample packs, rip ’em off if you can!

Lists like this usually piss me off because they’re just pandering to an ignorant public, by people who ought to know better.  There are reasons why most of these things are expensive and in most  cases, they’re pretty good reasons.  Instead of explaining the reality to the consumers so they’re better educated, you have an idiot like the writer of this piece trying to whine about how everything is a rip-off and you should complain about it.

Don’t complain.  Deal with reality.

Listen up, you Primitive Screw-Heads

This is my BOOMSTICK! Stop acting like savages or I’ll use it on you!

You know, I’m sick and damn tired of people acting like we need to treat the Muslims with kid gloves.  We have people who are only too happy to riot because someone burns a Qu’ran or kill some retarded kid who accidentally rips out a page of their stupid book.  They go on rampages because people draw pictures of Mohammed and now, they kill American embassy staff because some loser makes a movie they don’t like.

Fuck them.

After the embassy attack in Libya, Hillary Clinton said ” “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”

Okay, why are we respecting all religions?  Why are we respecting any religions?  As I’ve said many, many times before, respect needs to be earned and running around like a bunch of undisciplined 8-year olds just isn’t earning that respect.

So how do we fix it?  The same way we fix undisciplined children.  We go to their parents (the individual countries) and tell them that until they can control their children (the wingnut religious), we’re not going to give them a paycheck (foreign aid or other contracts).

The problem with most of these countries is that even when they crack down on a specific incident, they never fix the root cause of the problem.  Yes, Libya or Egypt might trot out their police forces and arrest the people responsible for these murders, but the next time something happens, you know that those countries are going to be a hotbed of violence once again because the governments never take any action against the religion, only against the individuals.  It’s just not consistent.  See, at one time, Christianity acted just like Islam does today.  It killed people, burned down towns, attacked anyone outside of their particular religious tradition, etc.  However, secular society, over time, told Christianity what to go do with itself.  It refused to allow Christians to run roughshod over the rights of everyone else.  Those who acted badly were treated harshly and those who even believed that acting in an anti-social manner was acceptable were marched out of town.

So when are we going to see these Muslim countries do the same thing?  When are we going to see Muslim cultures doing it?  It’s just not something I see happening any time soon, unfortunately.  Why?  Because everyone keeps playing the “we need to respect religion” card, of course.  So long as anything that you can slap a “religion” label on gets automatic respect, we’re going to have problems with crazies.  It doesn’t matter if it’s fundamentalist Islam or fundamentalist Christianity, as long as we accept that religion is sacred and gets special treatment, when the crazies come out and use religion as their justification, we’re still back at square one.

Bill Nye Means More Than I Thought!

A day or two ago, I posted a short Bill Nye video that he had on Big Think.  As far as I was concerned, it was an one-shot pro-science video that really meant very little, it was just a cool sentiment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Bill Nye, he’s an excellent spokesman and educator for science and rational thinking.  He is a relatively outspoken atheist who has made it clear that religion has no place in a science classroom and I very much agree with him on his positions.  I just didn’t think this short video would upset many people.

Apparently, I was wrong.

From what I’m finding now, it was posted, among other places, in the CNN Religion section and the comments there lit up like wildfire, resulting in more than 10,000 responses.  Now I wouldn’t want to read through all of those comments, but someone did and was nice enough to post an analysis of the comments found there.  Here are the top five types of comments, according to co-editor Eric Marrapodi.

1. Those using this controversy to bash religion. Atheists love the Internet, as we’ve chronicled on the Belief Blog. While they may be a small portion of the population, they seem to make up about half our commenters.  It was their chance to join with Nye and cheer him on.

Atheists aren’t as small a percentage of the population as many people think and frankly CNN has a widely accepted liberal bias and since most atheists are unfortunately also liberal, it’s not really that surprising that they’d be over-represented on CNN blogs.  If this was on Fox News, it would lean dramatically the other way.  Either way, since religion really has no rational basis and it should be ridiculed, where’s the problem?  Besides, from what I’ve seen in the CNN belief blog in the past, anyone who criticizes anything to do with religion, even the most absurd and ridiculous parts of it, gets passed off as a religion basher, even if they are religious!

2. Those who say wait a minute, being a creationist isn’t necessarily being anti-evolution. Lots of folks from the theistic evolution camp came out to say that believing God was involved doesn’t automatically make you anti-evolution.

But those who don’t want creationism taught in the classroom, which is what Nye’s video was all about, aren’t going to disagree with Nye, are they?  Even if they are religious, they’re going to agree that creationism shouldn’t be taught.

3. Those who say that science is stupid and that young Earth creationism rules. Young Earth creationists, who believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old, appeared to be out in force in the comments.

That’s not really a surprise, you find these neanderthals popping out in disturbing numbers whenever someone addresses the idiocy of their beliefs.  They ought to have “IDIOT” stamped on their foreheads and be the subject of intense ridicule for holding such moronic ideas in their tiny little heads.

4. Those who say Nye should stick to his area of expertise.

This tweet was the most polite remark we could find on this subject. Other comments and tweets, not so much.

Greg: “Thanks Bill … but leave the teaching of my children to me. …”

He is sticking to his area of expertise, he’s an actor and science educator.  Educating people about science, and by extension, about what is not science, is what he does!  Besides, whoever this Greg is, what experience does he have with science?  I suspect none.  Bill has a BS and several honorary degrees, plus over 100 episodes of a TV show that is still widely used to teach science in classrooms.  Greg has… what again?

I suppose sometime I ought to do an article on science education, but let me just say this, education of all kinds exists, not to create carbon copies of the parents, but to educate the children in the realities of this world.  That’s why we have teachers, not just random people off the street.  These people are specifically trained in the facts and how to pass them on to the next generation.  Schools exist to educate, not to indoctrinate.  Any school that is appealing to a particular ideology is doing it wrong.  Religion, which invariably has it’s facts wrong, should not expect to have it’s ridiculous beliefs taught as fact.

5. Those who say CNN is cooking up controversy where none exists. Lots of people suggested we were generating a story instead of covering one.

It’s really not a story at all, it’s an individual posting a video of his opinion.  He’s welcome to do so and I happen to agree with his opinion.  Let’s be honest, most news organizations try to generate controversy today instead of just covering the news, this may be an accurate criticism, but it’s status quo for most news outlets today.

However, even beyond that, the whole creationism vs. evolution “controversy” has been over for decades and evolution won hands down.  It’s about as stupid as debating flat-earthism.  It was a stupid idea, it was wrong, it’s over, time for people to get over themselves and move on.

Keep up the  good work Bill and keep pushing reality and comprehensive science education.  It’s the only way the educational system of the United States will ever improve from it’s dismal position now, to actually teach the facts.

Political Correctness Run Amuck… Again

I’m sorry, but this…

Every time I think the loony liberals can’t get any more absurd, something like this comes along.  This time, from Nebraska, where a school is telling the family of a deaf preschool boy that he has to change his name, or at least how he signs it, because they claim it looks too much like a “gun” and that violates their weapons policy.

3-year-old Hunter Spanjer has been ordered by the Grand Island Public School system to change the hand gesture he uses to identify himself, pictured to the left, to something else because they claim it looks too much like the image on the right.

Looks nothing like this!

In essence, they’re telling him he has to change his name.  It’s not like he picked the gesture out of a hat and he can change it at his whim.  It’s American fucking Sign Language!

“He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” Brian Spanjer, Hunter’s father, told Nebraska based news channel KOLN. “It’s a symbol. It’s an actual sign, a registered sign, through (Signing Exact English).”

The district clams to be working with the parents to come up with a solution for the hand gesture.  Here’s a solution for you.  Get the fuck over yourself!

Here’s my suggestion for a replacement..