I just saw this image of wonder and genius on the Iranian Atheist/Agnostic Movement Facebook page. I love it. Pure genius.
And there it is. Religion in a nutshell.
I just saw this image of wonder and genius on the Iranian Atheist/Agnostic Movement Facebook page. I love it. Pure genius.
And there it is. Religion in a nutshell.
So, it could be for one of two reasons:
I guess it could be a combination of the two… which makes three reasons… Anyway, I can’t remember exactly what I wrote (and the comment has been deleted…) but it went something like (trying real hard to remember):
Feminism holds that women are inferior to men and need special treatment. Don’t fucking post feminism on this atheist page. Feminism has fuck all to do with atheism.
Or something to that effect. That was in response to this picture posted on the Atheism Resource Facebook page. Bit harsh? Perhaps. Rude and uncouth? Perhaps.
To be honest I couldn’t give less of a fuck but it does seem interesting that atheists pushing feminism like to ban people who disagree with the flavour of feminism that they happen to be selling. Make of that what you will.
At least their website hasn’t deteriorated into the same kind of idiocy oozing cesspit as Freethought Blogs. ‘Yet’, I suppose. You should check it out; there’s a good read or two there.
All you have to do is walk into any children’s hospital anywhere in the world and you will KNOW there is no god.
*bam* Feel the Dan Barker awesome!
People part of the wider atheist/skeptical ‘movement’, particularly conference goers will be aware of the misogyny inspired drama that’s been plaguing ‘the community’ for a while – maybe a year, I can’t remember and I can’t be bothered to check.
The incessant drama has finally worn me down.
I have several opinions, few facts, little physical interaction, possibly no clue. I have, however, had enough now.
Was (is, was, will be) Rebecca Watson harassed? Sure.
Were (will) other women be sexually harassed at conferences? Probably.
Did Rebecca Watson initially make a huge deal out of it? Perhaps not.
Was/is the harassment as bad as the brouhaha after some subsequent blog posts? Probably not.
Is sexual harassment as big an issue at skeptical/atheist conferences as some people have made it out to be? Probably not. I haven’t been to one so I can’t really say. I haven’t been to America – perhaps the country is packed to the brim with misogynistic assholes, I can’t say. Some people have certainly made it out to be like that.
Was (is) PZ Myers overly supportive of Rebecca Watson? Yes.
Was Richard Dawkins as wrong about the Rebecca Watson story as Rebecca Watson made out to be? No, I don’t think so any more.
Was Thunderf00t’s first take on the misogyny issue the way PZ Myers portrayed it? No.
Was Thunderfoot’s response to PZ’s posts ill-considered and sloppily done? For sure.
Was Thunderfoot’s response to the SkepchickCON harassment policy childish and silly? Yes.
Was Skepchick’s latest response childish and silly? Yes.
Are Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and Thunderfoot and their legions of minions and supporters acting like a bunch of twats? Indeed.
I’ve never been to an atheist or skeptics conference. I used to want to go to them all pretty badly and came close to going to the one in Melbourne recently. Now, I’m not so sure. It’s clear that there is no ‘community’. It’s clear that there are a bunch of factions with different agendas and it is clear that ‘reason’ isn’t high up on any of those agendas.
Take this from here it comes: the huge freaking issue made about sexual harassment at conferences has put me off of going to them and I am a man. I used to want to go and now I do not. I am well aware that ‘the issue’ is probably not nearly as big as it’s been made out by some people to be but fuck it, I don’t need that shit in my life.
I’m over Freethought Blogs. I’m over the people commenting on Freethought Blogs. If that is what the atheist/skeptical ‘community’ is, I want no part of it.
Yes, I realise I have this very insignificant blog in an insignificant corner of the world and I might very well be alone in feeling that I want nothing to do with the massive amount of idiocy the ‘community’ is currently drowning in but that’s the way it is. It makes me sad to say – I too would like to feel like I belong to something bigger than myself – but I do not want anything to do with this shit.
The bottom line is that atheism and scepticism are not uniting forces and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. Atheism does not a ‘community’ or ‘movement’ make. PZ Myers posted some time ago that atheism is more than just the non-belief in god. I used to agree with him. The last 12 months worth of drama has done nothing other than show that a great many atheists are dicks and atheism does nothing to unite people and atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in a deity.
The realisation that is sadly dawning to my very un-skeptical mind is that just because somebody is an atheist does not make them a nice or good person. Or a person I would want to associate with. Somebody being an atheist does not in fact imply a damn thing about that person other than they do not believe in a God.
I like to think the best of people and these people that I used to look up to have made that impossible.
Science and the scientific method has given us… virtually everything. It is responsible for our lifespan doubling, for the internet, for medicine, for anesthetics and pretty much everything else. Look around. Everything you see is the result of the scientific method being applied to the world you live in and my personal favourite is anesthetics (a quick look at the horror that used to be medicine before the invention of anesthetics is enough to convince me that time travel is, in fact, a really terrible idea).
The scientific method is a profoundly successful process for investigating the world and is the underlying force of all human advances for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The scientific method is:
The techniques of the scientific method consists of a process with a number of steps to go through to arrive at a scientific theory:
These steps include:
A question that naturally arises for me centers around what religion – Christianity specifically – looks like when you study it with the scientific method. Interesting, I suppose is an answer. Infinitely boring is probably another answer. It depends rather heavily on what you would like to do with the outcome of the investigation. I’ve also argued before that the scientific method can and should be applied to everything, including the claims of religion, ghosts, the supernatural as well as finding God.
Looking at Christianity one might formulate the following question:
Does the Christian God as described in the Bible exist?
I think that is a fair question. It is after all the crux of what a billion people alive today allege to believe. I concede that it’s also a pretty big question and this short post won’t necessarily do it justice to it entirely but what the hell, let’s have a go. For the sake of a feeble attempt at rigor, let’s define some of the properties of the God in question by using the Bible as the source:
- Omniscience (all-knowing) – John 16:30 the apostle John affirms of Jesus, “Now we can see that you know all things.
- Omnipresence (all-present) – Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Omnipotence (all-powerful) – All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus said in Matthew 28:18
- Eternality (no beginning or end) – John 1:1declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
- Immutability (unchanging) – Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
I propose the following hypothesis:
The Christian god does in fact not exist.
I think it’s a perfectly valid hypothesis. Certainly one could propose the converse but I have a hunch that this one is more likely than the alternative so we will investigate this statement.
What predictions can be made based on the hypothesis that the Christian God does not exist? After considering the implications I feel that the following are reasonable predictions of phenomena that might be observed if the statement “the Christian God does not exist” was true:
These predictions should now be tested to see if what they describe would happen is inline with reality: are the predictions true or not? So let’s test the predictions:
1. Christians who believe they converse with the deity in question would not agree or even be able to generally agree on the wishes of the deity [if the deity does not exist]
Do we have any empirical evidence to support the prediction that in the absence of an actual deity as the source of information that Christians would have fundamental disagreements as to the wishes of the deity? Yes, I think we do have some empirical evidence that we can put forward.
It is impossible to argue against the fact that Catholics, Baptists, Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses have irreconcilable differences when it comes to their religions even though all four proclaim to literally worship the same deity and use the same book – The Bible – as its only (except for LDS who have additive reference called the Book of Mormon) divinely inspired true reference.
2. There would be inconsistencies and contradictions in stories and texts alleged to be dictated or inspired by the deity [if the deity does not exist]
Empirical evidence for this prediction exists in spades within the book considered by Christians to be the holy and in some cases, literal words, of the creator of the universe – their God. I will list a couple of obvious contradictions and inconsistencies and link to a graphic that illustrates a huge number of them.
MATTHEW 27:46,50: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”
LUKE 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”
JOHN 19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
Clearly all three scenarios could not have happened even if one assumes against all available evidence that at least one had to have happened.
II SAMUEL 24:13: So God came to David, and told him, and said unto him, shall SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE come unto thee in thy land? or will thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue. thee?
I CHRONICLES 21:11: SO God came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee. Either THREE YEARS OF FAMINE or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;
It is not possible to interpret SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE as THREE YEARS OF FAMINE under any circumstances.
3. Edicts on behalf of the deity would be inconsistent and change with time – they will evolve with society [if the deity does not exist]
We have a lot of empirical evidence where the ‘official representatives’ of the Christian deity have changed their minds with time motivated by scientific and societal advances.
We have shown that the Church has implicitly withdrawn her condemnation of heliocentrism, so that Catholics are not directly guilty of heterodoxy or disobedience if they hold that the earth revolves around the sun.
However, even thought the Bible explicitly approves of slavery and even provides instructions on how to manage slaves:
4. Morals and morality would be inconsistent and change with time – they would evolve with society
Changes in the official Catholic view on slavery and the slave trade not withstanding, many if not most of the instructions for conduct in the Bible are no longer observed by Christians.
A couple from the Bible might include:
The distinct lack of Bible motivated killing to be found (myself as an atheist being alive as an excellent example) in the western world is empirical evidence that many of the instructions above are not being obeyed by Christians. Since by Christians’ own measure their God does not change and since many Christians use excerpts from surrounding passages to justify things like discrimination against homosexuals I think a clear case is made that once all or most of the instructions were once obeyed and now only some are obeyed and in the future perhaps none will be obeyed – in line with social reformation.
What is our analysis of the empirical evidence we have found to show that the predictions that were made by the hypothesis were true and in accordance with reality? I think that we have enough evidence to say that the hypothesis that the Christian God, as described in the Bible and commonly accepted by most Christians, does not exist, is likely to be correct.
Christians are not all speaking to the same God since none of them can agree on what this God actually wants, likes or prefers. The Bible was not inspired by or written by a being with the properties that Christians and Christianity assign to their deity since it is full of inconsistencies and contradictions which is to be expected if it were not inspired by or written by the Christian God. Christians who have spoken on behalf of their God and who have not been corrected by that God have made statements in approval of or against things that were later a reversal of earlier positions. Christian positions on issues have changed as additional information has been learned and as society has changed which is in line with the Christian God not existing. Instructions given by the unchanging Christian God to his followers are no longer being followed by Christians as those instructions are contrary to what is acceptable to society – morals have evolved – which again is a predictable and expected phenomenon if the Christian God did not exist.
Note that the conclusion that the Christian God does not exist is not a concrete, incontrovertible proof that the Christian God or any other god does not or can not exist. That the Christian God does not exist is only the most likely explanation of the way things are in light of the information and evidence that is available. New evidence might change the explanation, negate it or it might further bolster it.
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:
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.
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…”
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.
Check out The Thinking Atheist Youtube channel here:
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.
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.