Archive for June, 2012


Religion is to mortality what homoeopathy is to cancer.

Religion is to mortality what homoeopathy is to cancer.

Sometimes, now and then – very infrequently – you come across some real wisdom in a YouTube comment. ‘Wisdom’ and ‘YouTube comment’ are not words you often see together in a sentence or even on a page. Anybody who’s ever taken a minute to wade through the stinking quagmire manifested by anonymous ignorance and bigotry that usually occupies the space below video’s on YouTube will appreciate how rare a find an enlightening comment is.

It’s only the second one I’ve ever seen that’s inspired me enough to write something about it. Obviously the comment concerns religion but more specifically, the purpose of religion.

What IS the purpose of religion?

Libraries are filled with books about this subject, from many perspectives, both religious and non-religious – far too much for me to discuss in detail but some basic thoughts commonly held are:

  • “to teach morals and guidelines”, which is not acceptable since you don’t need religion to teach or learn morals
  • “teaching God’s message”, which can be discarded since it’s not based in reality: you need to prove a God exists before he (she, it?) can have a message at all
  • “help feed the poor”, which is something that secular organisations do as well, if not better

The real purpose of religion then must be those things which religion can accomplish that secular organisations can not and to be blunt, there isn’t much left when you’ve removed everything covered by secular organisations and ruled out everything not real or in accordance with reality.

Which brings me to the YouTube comment (on The Thinking Atheist video titled ‘Afterlife’):


Religion serves but one non-selfish purpose… To comfort those that can’t come to grips with their own mortality. The rest of Religion is a business… They are in it to make money. That’s it.

Religion has only one non-selfish purpose: to comfort those who cannot come to grips with their own mortality. Everything else is either done by secular organisations, mirrors business and commercial enterprise or is just plain bullshit.

Many (if not most) of the people who I know personally that cling to some form of religion – a convenient form usually – do so purely because they refuse to accept that when you die it’s over. They cling to the fantasy that they will be reunited with friends and family after they die because the thought that death is final is too terrible for them to bear. As I think back to conversations I realise that I’ve always known and my wife has always pointed this out to me  but I’ve never really articulated the thoughts like this.

The only one non-selfish purpose of religion is to comfort those who cannot come to grips with their own mortality. If you cannot come to grips with your own mortality, secularism offers scant comfort and conversely, the fantastic promise that religion offers is often too much to resist.

Atheism can only occur when the truth is more important than comfort. Some people need less comfort which makes it easier to see the truth, others need a lot of comfort which means they might never see the truth.

The massive irony though is that very many de-converts from religion feel that coming to grips with your own mortality, accepting that this life is the only life you will ever have is liberating to the extreme.

To quote a brilliant YouTube video maker, Phil Hellenes:

“Sometimes we’re at our most alive when facing the prospect of our own mortality. Maybe that means that if we convince ourselves that we live forever we never really feel alive at all…”

Always! Be totally awesome!

Epic video Sunday: Afterlife

A new video by The Thinking Atheist, Seth Andrews. And not just ‘a’ video… this is an epic video. It makes me proud to be an atheist, if such a thing is even possible. It inspires me; it inspires me to… live harder, better. It makes me want to be more awesome in every conceivable way!

I do not fear death. I fear not squeezing every available drop of life out of every available moment.

Always! Be totally awesome!

Check out The Thinking Atheist Youtube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheThinkingAtheist

A Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great.

A Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. – Aristotle

I think that in that quote lies a key difference between an atheist and a theist.

Theists like Christians and Muslims are actively deterred from entertaining any kind of thought that might contradict what they believe. This is accomplished by having an all-seeing, all-knowing overseer who can and will convict and punish you for thought crime. The punishment of eternal torture and a flawless prosecutor who knows everything you think is a fantastic deterrent to entertaining thoughts that might lead to doubt.

Not being willing or able to rationally evaluate an opposing thought – like a religious claim – from the perspective of another person, is a very blunt way to avoid changing your own mind.

Entertaining thoughts that might contradict what you already believe is a cornerstone of science – scientists actively search for thoughts that might contradict established theories, even – sometimes especially – their own.

The ability to entertain a thought and examine it from multiple perspectives without necessarily accepting the premise of the thought is a mark of an educated mind and a mature philosophy because it demonstrates a lack of fear for new ideas, a solid understanding of – and trust in – your own position and it implies a willingness to change your mind. Conversely, actively avoiding entertaining opposing thoughts demonstrates a fear of those thoughts and implies an unwillingness to adapt to new ideas.

Articles of reason?

I heard this mentioned on The Atheist Experience #764 this morning. I think it pretty much says what needs to be said. I hesitate to call it a creed – I hate the connotation. It’s more of an explanation really.

Skepticism is my nature
Free-thought is my methodology
Agnosticism is my conclusion
Atheism is my opinion
Humanitarianism is my motivation

Perhaps The Articles of Reason. It sounds nice. I like it. I’ll stick with that.

Always! Be awesome.

Blam! Feel the awesome!

Thanks to The Thinking Atheist for the incredible awesome. Seth Andrews for the win!

Always! Be awesome.

Dear theists…

I plundered this picture from The Thinking Atheist and I have to admit I feel very little remorse. I find the picture both terribly amusing and pretty… unambiguous.

Dear theist...

Dear theist… let me unambiguously explain my position.

Another way to put it is: I find your willful ignorance is disgusting and offensive and considering the bullshit and horror that you claim to believe, you are not qualified to have an opinion on my life.

Booya! Richard Feynman!

The man has a massive aura of awesome about him. I wish I had met him.

Happy 40k views to me!

Happy 30k views to me!

Happy 40k views to me!

Happy 40k views to me! Happy 40k views to me! Happy 40k views to meeeeee eeeeeee. Happy 40k views to me!

Yay and awesome and things!

This 10k was quicker than the last 10k but I couldn’t be asked to work out how much. Still some way to go though and I’ve been very lax in blogging lately… it might have something to do with playing WoW again. It might not. But it probably does. Yea.

Christianity! In 105 words.

Love is pain... and temporary man death... or something. I dunno.

Christianity…

The belief that a walking dead Jewish deity who was his own father although he always existed, commits suicide by cop, although he didn’t really die, in order to give himself permission not to send you to an eternal place of torture that he created for you, but instead to make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood, and telepathically promise him you accept him as your master, so he can cleanse you of an evil force that is present in mankind because a rib-woman and a mud-man were convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. — Anon.

Man, I so wish I had written that. Absolute genius.

(I might have… procured the text above from here: http://atheistcamel.blogspot.co.nz/ )

Always! Be awesome.

A couple of godless Kiwi’s in my ‘hood have decided to take on the challenge of keeping religion out of schools. An excellent cause to fight for to be sure and as you can expect, not inconsiderable resistance to the idea from the sheeple and religionuts.

Stephen Minhinnick has done an excellent job categorising the bleats of outrage in his post at:

A Role-Focus Analysis of Religious Arguments

I absolutely love how he starts the post – pure freaking genius (and not just because he’s quoting pure genius):

“But now I want to [...] warn you against three bad reasons for believing anything. They are called ‘tradition’, ‘authority’, and ‘revelation’.”

Richard Dawkins letter to his 10 year old daughter

It’s definitely worth a read: A Role-Focus Analysis of Religious Arguments

Always! Be awesome.

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