Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Miracles to ponder...



Perhaps readers would like to contact the producer with their own stories of spontaneous remissions and tumbling CD's. Please have the date of the occurrences so they might compare it to other events of the day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Atheism fully explained in 12 minutes

So easy, a monkey could do it. I assume a theist can understand.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So help me god???

What the capital of North Carolina? Riyadh?

Give us all a fucking break and stop telling us about "the belligerent atheists" who are demanding we outlaw god. STFU! Seriously.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Happy HOLIDAYS (and I hope you don't like it)

Yes, this is a wonderful time of year - for everybody. That's right - everybody. Even Christians.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving week

Let's kick it off with something we can all agree on.

Where's the love? Why, it's right here...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who needs the supernatural? We have physics and the Higgs boson.



You can read more about the theory from The Niels Bohr Institute and physicists Nielsen and Ninomiya here.

So what do I think? That they are are in a minute minority of physicists, the LHC will finally get going (starting this Friday, incidentally), many new discoveries will come out of it in the next few years, and we'll all enjoy the fruits of the paltry $6 billion that has been invested so far.

I'm just pissed at America for letting this project slip away from us. We were supposed to have had this supercollider in Texas and it should have been built a decade ago. More economic and intellectual loss that can be laid at the feet of conservatives.

If it causes the end of the universe, it will be a more interesting end than the one hypothesized by any religion. In case I don't get the chance to say it - thanks for all the times you stopped by here to read or watch videos.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The reality of atheism

Finally, the investigative reporting we have waited for, exposing it all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Darwin vs Hitler - the way it really is

I seldom put up a new video so quickly after another one, but this can't wait. In this great year of science, with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the single greatest book of science ever written for both academic and lay consumption; The Origin of Species, we see mentally challenged creationists doing all they can to sully the good name of the great Charles Darwin. It's time to stand up and tell them they are full of shit.

Friday, October 23, 2009

If you've ever read this blog...

Then don't say no one ever told you. In fact, you've undoubtedly heard it here any number of times. I know some people who came to the realization rather late. I know they wish it had been sooner. But I say to them, better late than never.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How does a hardcore believer in Christ reject the message?

This might be pretty meaningless my fellow atheists, most of whom did not start out from a fundamentalist Christian belief (The Chaplain being a bit of an exception, but even for her, it was hardly the hardcore born-again religion of many Americans).

I find people like this quite interesting. They can speak the language of fundamentalists - in tongues! And that, I would think, makes them a bit harder to dismiss than someone like me. I'm sure many will just attribute his words to him being lost to Satan. Others might have to give them a second thought.

This is also interesting in light of the rather extended discussion many of us were involved in (for weeks, it seemed at the time) over at Spanish Inquisitors blog, regarding "miracles" and "evidence of god/s".

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Insanity

Speechless. I'll let David John Wellman do all the talking, other than to say I concur with his conclusion. We're in a fucking asylum.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Source of the 10 Commandments

Many of us think that as the 10 most important rules of morality, the 10 Commandments are a little off the mark, to say the least. Here you can see how they actually came about. For many other interesting insights into Yahweh's decision making processes, be sure to follow the link below the video back to Mr. Deity and watch past and present episodes. And never let it be said that YouTube doesn't have television quality works available.



Oh, what the fuck. You probably want to know about the background on "Evil", don't you?



Mr. Deity home channel
Better yet, here is the website which is easier for finding particular episodes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Evolution is a fact

From AronRa's series, "Foundational Falsehood of Creationism"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Logic, evidence and specific gods

By the the outstanding YouTube channel QualiaSoup, maker of the video on open-mindedness posted by Phillychief on You Made Me Say It several months ago.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

"Bird-brain Christians." Hey, don't insult crows!

There have been a number of interesting studies on the intelligence of various members of the crow family. In this latest study, 7 crows were given the opportunity of seizing some tasty morsels with a tool. The catch? The only way to get to the food was by using 3 different tools, in the correct sequence. They were not trained in the use of the tools prior to initiating the experiment. 5 of the seven crows were able to accomplish the feat, 4 of them on the first try!

Meanwhile some brain-damaged guy walks into a gym, shoots up the place killing 3 females, then turns the gun on himself. He said the following about god and the afterlife:

"Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid."

I have to tell you, he has his dogma right, according to many Christians I've talked to in my life.

The fact that he was from Pennsylvania will go without further remark (SI).

I thought I had posted this video before, but apparently not. Watch a crow improvise his own tool to get to food. It's very short.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Faith is everything to religion - and useless

I'll probably do a video about this, but thought I'd give it a test run here and see how it plays. So, think of yourself as a test subject. I'm really hoping one or two Christians will stop in and comment, because I'd love to read what they have.

I'm going to propose some things and ask a few questions. What I hope to show is that the only reason for god beliefs is faith, and that faith is totally untrustworthy, no matter how strongly one feels it.

Based on the world-view or, I suppose more accurately, the universe-view of a believer in Yahweh/Christ as generally told in the OT and NT, is there any way that you arrive at your convictions other than faith? If so, please explain. Answers such as "The Bible" or "personal experience" are still taken on faith, since there is no consensus on the biblical reliability and no way to demonstrate your experience.

If in fact the real story is - Satan is the "Master of the Universe", he takes delight in our sufferings and floundering around here on earth, created the "Yahweh/Christ" myth specifically to deceive hopeful fools into thinking Christ is their salvation - is there any way your faith can rule this out as a possibility?

You already accept the notion of Lucifer as a clever, powerful deceiver of humankind. To assert that he is just a little more powerful than you thought, should not be a stretch. What if the Holy Bible is just one of his many deceits and that he arbitrarily administers doses of happiness for sake of the charade? How would you know this is not so? If your reason for "knowing" is only your faith in Christ, and if Christ was manufactured by a cruel entity, your faith would seem meaningless, right?

The problem, it seems to me, is that you have no empirical knowledge of god and no other way of "knowing" can be seen as reliable. When you really examine your beliefs, faith in them is all you have. Is there any evidence anywhere that it is ever a dependable form of "knowledge"?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

God Requires Science

From one of my favorite channels on YouTube - BionicDance. This one goes out to some of my favorite employers of "tortured logic". Think of this as a bit of an add-on to the recent post by Spanish Inquisitor: The Existence of God. If anyone is still unclear what SI meant when asking for evidence, hopefully this can at least clear up those questions.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fucking Hilarious!

Check out Jerry Coyne's contest - and read the responses! Goddamn, free-thinkers are so creative.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Prosecuting Cheney

A lot of us have called for an investigation of the Bush administration, but Obama has been tiptoeing around it for six months. It was really looking like it was highly improbable to say the least. And I haven't heard any calls for it yet, but this new information might be exactly what it takes to get the ball rolling. And, I'll guarantee you, if the ball starts rolling - it won't stop until it gets to the bottom. This is the last thing Cheney needed.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What do you think?

"Any fact claim unsupported by empirical evidence can justly be treated as a product of the imagination."

Is this a fair statement? If it is not, what is the objection?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Atheist Bloggers - Persevere!

There are many anecdotal examples of former believers who have become atheist or agnostic in the past decade, and many who claim to have dropped faith after reading one of the recent best-sellers on atheism or from online discussions. It feels like you aren't ever getting through to folks, but I've argued for a long time that you can not judge the success of your rational arguments based on the hope that someone will thank you personally for deconverting them!

I look at what I do as similar to tossing seeds along a barren stretch of land. Maybe if I came back in 5 or 10 years, I'd see some beautiful trees. The story in this video encourages me (like many such stories do) to keep tossing seeds. I'm walking through the barren land anyway. I have nothing to lose.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Full Militant Atheist

Embrace the term! Why not? We are going to be accused of it anytime we even mention in public that we are atheists. Militant Atheist seems to be the designation. Remember the good ol' days when there were many fewer of us and, I assume, we were just seen as kind of pesky little fellers? We were "angry atheists" back then. As the ranks and voices of non-belief swelled earlier this decade, many were taken aback. And this goes for both theists and atheists.

Many long-time atheists and agnostics have sort of teamed up with the theists in their contempt for people being outspoken when it comes to non-belief. Apparently these people are either self-loathing or simply desire accommodation because they can't stand any type of conflict. I'm not sure which of those possibilities is worse. Things are seldom either/or and there are other possibilities here but these two stand out strongly in my mind.

In the defense of the "meek atheists", they don't usually call us militant. They call us the "new atheists". I suppose that's supposed to be a more intellectual put-down. They are the older and wiser atheist who know that making waves is a bad idea. The problem with this is that most of the "older and wiser" atheists haven't been around any longer than the ones they call new atheists.

I just ignore them altogether. If they want to silently be non-believers and allow belief to dictate the discourse of society, they have every right to do so. I do find it kind of amazing that the one thing they seem to have no trouble entering into a public debate about is whether or not atheism should be publicly debated! Yes, there is a little irony there.

The real issue is how to deal with my own atheism and the path is clear and obvious to me. The only way to make this society into a secular one is to talk about it and debate it. Some of us will be extremely loud and, yes, angry. Others will just relentlessly state the case and be willing to debate wherever it comes up. And some will have a lot of fun mocking and scorning supernatural religious beliefs.

There's definitely a place for those who choose the first route. They have my full support. While they are the primary reason that all of us are labeled "militant", it isn't "militant" at all. Cry me a river when bands of atheists start burning down churches and chasing god's people out of town. Until then, if you want to use the word "militant", it just gives us more mockery material.

And that's where I come in, you silly sons of bitches! There is no god(s). Yes, I am sure of it. Now, can we please just work on making a better society for everyone and quit pretending that your imaginary friends determine the direction of humankind?

No accommodation with the supernatural.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The "Accommodation Wars"

The mini-epic mega battle among some top names in science continues - highlighted by Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers on the side of telling it like it is, and folks like Ken Miller, Barbara Forrest, Chris Mooney (not a scientist, but famous science writer), on the side of "accommodation" (read: meekly inform theists that science and religion are perfectly compatible.)

We discussed all of this earlier in the month over at Philly's blog (see post and comments). But it seems to get hotter. See the latest post at Jerry Coyne's blog then, apparently, keep checking back there daily for updates. In fairness to "the other side", Coyne is pretty meticulous about linking their rebuttals, as well as the posts of Myers and others who lack the "collaborator gene".

Personally I thank the terrific paleontologist and writer Steven J. Gould and his Non-overlapping magesteria (NOMA) for making this all possible. Great minds don't get everything right. Even Phillychief has admitted to being wrong on some occasions! But this is an issue that needs to come to a head and a final decision made on how we proceed as a species. Are we going to encourage or discourage superstition? I know how simplistic that sounds, but tell me how it doesn't all come down to that.

Update:

Coyne v. Miller Part 2
Coyne v. Miller Part 3

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Plugging Myself

Well, fuck it. It's my blog! And if I can't promote my Youtube channel at my own blog, where the hell am I supposed to do it? Anyway, I have certainly pushed a goodly amount of other YouTube channels, and you watched all of those recommendations if I'm not mistaken. I just happen to be a little more proud of this effort than most of my usual bullshit on YT. If you think it's any good, join my 10's of thousands of subscribers there. Either that or leave a comment...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marriage between a man and a woman

If you haven't seen the Spanish Inquisitor's hilarious YouTube find on this subject, go check it out. Then come back and watch this additional piece of Holy Book dismantling.



H/T to ProfMTH, who makes some of the consistently best videos on YouTube.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"What's in it for me"? sayeth the Lord

"Ever meet anyone from the city of Hebron"? No? That's because of evil babies.



Other questions for those who claim that these were "different times" and god only did things like that back when peoples' understanding was so meager and it was necessary to maintain "order":

How come god never actually says that? How come there is no explanation for why he would have had to give such abominable commands, back in the day? Why is it that the only indication of this comes not from god, but from modern apologists for him? Why didn't Jesus say that those things were abhorrent to god, rather than confirming the value of the older laws? And couldn't he have indicated, now that he was laying down his own life, that god wouldn't be requiring any more killing over silly matters? Why is there no instructions in any of the holy texts for ending slavery or the subjugation of women?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mommy? How come you have a penis?

First, watch the video.



These people are really too much to stomach. The day will come when people actually start resenting "the protection of the children" even when the cause is just.

Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8 is due any day. The rumor mill had it that it was going to be announced today but that San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome requested the court defer until next week. Why? Because if the decision goes the wrong way it would have done so on the anniversary of the White Night riots in the Castro district.

Whether or not any of that is true, the newest rumors have it that Tuesday is the big day. And tens of thousands of gay couples and individuals wait anxiously.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Great analysis of Jesus

He never said a word in favor of education. He never even hinted at the existence of any science. He never uttered a word in favor of industry, economy or of any effort to better our condition in this world. He was the enemy of the successful, of the wealthy. Dives was sent to hell, not because he was bad, but because he was rich. Lazarus went to heaven, not because he was good, but because he was poor.

Christ cared nothing for painting, for sculpture, for music — nothing for any art. He said nothing about the duties of nation to nation, of king to subject; nothing about the rights of man; nothing about intellectual liberty or the freedom of speech. He said nothing about the sacredness of home; not one word for the fireside; not a word in favor of marriage, in honor of maternity.

He never married. He wandered homeless from place to place with a few disciples. None of them seem to have been engaged in any useful business, and they seem to have lived on alms.

All human ties were held in contempt; this world was sacrificed for the next; all human effort was discouraged. God would support and protect.

At last, in the dusk of death, Christ, finding that he was mistaken, cried out: “My God My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”

We have found that man must depend on himself. He must clear the land; he must build the home; he must plow and plant; he must invent; he must work with hand and brain; he must overcome the difficulties and obstructions; he must conquer and enslave the forces of nature to the end that they may do the work of the world.


by Robert Ingersoll, 1894

H/T to The Atheist Experienc

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Can I make you enjoy rap?

This is my best shot at it. If you say no, I promise to give up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

cl - The Stealth Theist



Oh for fucks sake. Does anyone else see what cl is up to? Do you see what he does?

He is a theist who knows he can't possibly prove that his belief in god has merit, so he doesn't bother to defend it. Shit, he won't even say exactly what he believes, because he feels the ensuing mockery would completely detract from him being able to make headway with his technique.

So what's the technique? His "False Argument" series at his blog is a perfect example if you aren't already bored. He goes from atheist to atheist and if one makes an overstep (even when it is only tenuously related to the gist of the post) he jumps on it. Hint: Don't dare use an absolute. "Every", "Always", "Never", etc. are fair game to cl. So is a statement that can not (or has not yet) be proved scientifically, even though the side he defends can't prove the case that way either. Fair enough. But then he then uses the overstep to write a comment (or an entire post i.e. "False Argument") on a subject he can actually get righteous about, since supporting his own beliefs is prohibitive. Hell, like I said, he won't even mention those beliefs.

He either receives an admission of error or he eviscerates the person for not conceding the point. Either way - he sells it as another "great theist victory over the ignorant atheist". Yet where is god in all of this? I still don't hear his voice, cl. He's missing, as always. cl's ability to argue a petty point effectively does nothing to make the likelihood of god increase. Of course, to an under-educated observer, it might help bolster their waning belief. Perhaps it even props up cl's own sagging "spirit"!

In his latest post he actually comes close to slipping up. He is so giddy with the unusual recovery of a little girl with a tumor that he just barely misses declaring that prayer played a part.

I've held private discussions with Amy Knight and other involved parties in this case, in which information has been disclosed that is not in the traditional reports.

And yes, we'll get to it.

I fully concede the possibility that future evidence could prove this case to be fraudulent or erroneous. Although I will certainly continue ongoing research


Somehow I think he'll shake himself and report back to us that his "research" has been inconclusive. He'll arrive at this because common sense will kick in. He'll realize that many people have been declared terminally ill only to have the tumor or whatever the symptom was disappear. Sometimes they were religious people. Sometimes not. Sometimes they were Muslims. Sometimes Buddhists. Sometimes Borneo islanders. Sometimes even Christians!

Medical science is still in its infancy. There is so much we still don't know (but continue to learn) about the human body, including the mind. But we learn these things because we don't attribute them to god(s). We know there is a physiological reason, and we look for it. A few hundred years ago, a woman who gave medical aid to hundreds of dying patients and didn't get sick was either a "witch" or "blessed by god". Today we would examine her and might find antibodies in her blood for the particular virus. In any case, it wasn't god then, and it isn't god now.

cl knows he can't defend his belief, has seen the countless failures trying to engage atheists in this manner, and has opted for flying in low and attempting to undermine atheist credibility by attacking tangential mistakes. Be aware of his tactic. From now on, when he pulls it, don't respond other than to ask him if he wants to reply to the thrust of the topic.

I guess god needs to play silly word games. Go God!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Where do you get your God, without morals?

Atheists and agnostics are frequently asked (though its been just as often answered) "where do you get your morals without god"? Let's turn the question around. Where does the Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu etc. get their notions of a god or gods without already having morals? Morals are by necessity a precondition to the societal belief (religion) in any supreme being.

A single person could have a "god experience". Anyone could conceivably stand on a mountain top and receive direct and absolute knowledge of the existence of some supreme being. There is no scientific method for disproving god, or even that someone didn't have the experience of being introduced to that god. We could show them how the brain works. We could even allow them to personally participate in one of the studies that manipulates certain areas of the brain and induces a "religious experience". But they could still claim that their experience on the mountain was the real thing, while acknowledging that science can produce something similar in the brain.

The problem for the person who has the experience is that in coming down from the mountain our prophet finds - universal nihilism. At least that's what he would have found were he the first one to encounter god, and if god is the giver of moral laws. With no morals yet, people would live as the most cunning and resourceful animals on the planet. Since humans would only want to live and reproduce, the only thing they probably could be counted on is not stealing from, raping and killing their own immediate families.

Societies, even small ones, can not be formed without agreements. Those agreements become laws. As the value of the laws for the survival of the society increase, they become morals. Now our prophet would be safe to enter the society and share with others the "knowledge" of god. If these laws of his god are completely contrary to the existing morals of the society, one of two things will occur. The society will either fall apart by following gods laws or it will reject the laws given by god.

If however, gods' laws simply reinforce what was already known then the society could carry on and might even proclaim that the laws they live under came from god. Many of the laws given by god could be largely irrelevant to the ability of the society to grow and prosper - say, commands about not worshiping other gods, what types of meat to eat, mixing materials when making clothes, sexual activities that don't result in procreation.

The point is, there is no way for the meme of religion to spread through a culture without there being a functioning society in place prior to the visions of god. You need morals for the functioning society. So, Christians... where do you get your God without morals?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pastor, err, Doctor Francis Collins strikes again!

Jerry Coyne has a new post up at his blog, Why Evolution Is True (also the name of his current book, recently purchased by yours truly) - "Francis Collins sees God in quantum mechanics".

Certainly you remember Collins? He's the geneticist who helped head up the human genome project and once described the following adventure in his life:

I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains on a beautiful fall afternoon. I turned the corner and saw in front of me this frozen waterfall, a couple of hundred feet high. Actually, a waterfall that had three parts to it — also the symbolic three in one. At that moment, I felt my resistance leave me. And it was a great sense of relief. The next morning, in the dewy grass in the shadow of the Cascades, I fell on my knees and accepted this truth — that God is God, that Christ is his son and that I am giving my life to that belief.

Yeah... that Francis Collins. Well, he continues to bang and away at Jesus (so to speak) and has some astounding claims to make about the nature of quantum mechanics. Perhaps he can come up with a whole new god theory. It could give Intelligent Design a run for the money. I offer the following name for it - The Quantum Waterfall God Theory. I left the following comment on Coyne's blog:


Absolutely you have nailed it with the very last word of your post – “desperation”.

To posit a “god” or “gods” is quite enough of a leap. To go on to say that what we understand about quantum mechanics can somehow, possibly, allow for an active interaction [by god/s] in the known universe of which we could not observe or comment on from a scientific standpoint AND to glean from that how to worship or communicate with that god(s), as well as have a specific knowledge of what the god is and wants – is very, very desperate.

Hey, maybe that god hates us and is just fucking with us. Maybe it hates sycophantic worship and prayer. Maybe it doesn’t even notice us. But, no, they know that god not only has a way to interface with our reality, but they also know all about the god. Great.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Origins of life made easy

Yes, long time readers have seen this before. I posted it a couple of years ago. It's a video made by an Australian science journalist who goes by the screen name Potholer54 on YouTube. Go there and check out many other great videos by him.

I just wanted to post this again now because there has been some discussion in the comments about bio-genesis vs. "goddidit". There is no powerful explanatory theory yet for bio-genesis, although huge strides have been made in the past 50 years and I'll personally predict that 50 years hence, the theory of bio-genesis will be as robust as the theory of evolution is presently.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Evolution and atheism

On an episode of Another Goddamned Podcast last year, The Chaplain (from An Apostate's Chapel) informed us all that she was highly motivated to become an atheist due to evolution. At that time, I admitted that my own reading of evolutionary materials back in the early 70's was a contributing factor in my atheism.

In recent years there has been a rush to assure the religious - "no, no, evolution has nothing to do with belief or disbelief. You can accept evolution and still believe in god."

Well, yeah... you can, but it certainly puts nails in the coffin for those who were chest deep in religious literalism. And once you let go and start getting all metaphoric with your god, you end up asking, "what's the point of this"?

Lately, some atheists are attacking the old paradigm and it's pissing off scientific atheists who want to "get along" with the theists. Here is something from Jerry Coyne's latest post on his blog:

And although evolution doesn’t lead straight to atheism for everybody, we ALL know that many people have lost their faith after studying evolutionary biology. And there are good reasons for this. It is simply disingenuous, in my opinion, to pretend that this isn’t true. I get emails from people every day telling me how they lost their faith after studying evolution (and it doesn’t bother them). What a breath of fresh air it would be to have somebody admit this hidden truth!


READ the whole post for inside info on "the war".

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Worth Watching" heads up

More on "the Hobbit", this time on the PBS series "Nova" this Tuesday, April 29. This has been the most interesting evolutionary controversy to follow in a long time and if it turns out badly its going to give Creationists more ammo a la Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man. The most recent things I've read have turned the tide back in favor of it being a new species of hominid that lived concurrently with both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, and actually survived up until about 11,000 years ago (far after the last of the Neanderthals). Supposedly Nova will explore the latest science. We'll see...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Contradicting Evo (or, really, Ancient Atheist)

I posted my first shot at a YouTube video and received largely positive feedback on it. Today another blogger (xxxThePeachxxx) posted a video that was a very effective rebuttal of much of what I said. It is something from the Non Prophets radio show.

As I commented there, let it not be said that I can't admit to being wrong and, as one so disdainful of religion, I should have thought it out at little more. Damn, I hate being wrong.



Still, a good portion of my thoughts still stand. I do think it was primarily mental illness and I'm sure we have to reduce the stigma of such.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Treasure Island

Ex queried in the previous comments section, having noted it in my "Currently Reading" on the sidebar, as to what had inspired me to read Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

My father died in 1960 and left me, among other things, a great many books. Among them were 4 collections of 10 volumes each by Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens. The years have passed, some have been read, many not. I was looking it over the other day and thought, "Damn me, I've never read Treasure Island". So I picked it up, started reading and was immediately mesmerized. I don't see how anybody would fail to enjoy it but, understand this, as a wee lad I was enchanted by any tales of high seas and great adventure. It was an abysmal failure on my part not to have read it back in the day. That said, there are aspects of it that I was able to enjoy more now than I would have back then.

Those of us who take great pleasure in literature should definitely work a classic in to our schedule from time to time. I finished Treasure Island and moved right on to some Dickens that I missed out on - David Copperfield. Fortunately, I never even saw any cinematic version of it, so it will be entirely new to me (unlike Treasure Island). Hell, I've never even seen his magic...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

MeTube

I uploaded a video on YouTube for the first time. Find out what I outed myself on! On the right side of the video, in the information box, you can find the videos that I was responding to if interested.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jazzy Atheism

If you're down in the dumps, as I have been, this might help pull you out of it. If you're not, it should be an additional bright spot in your day. If it doesn't serve either purpose for you, well, you could pray about it - or meditate.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

France gets it right - AGAIN

What a piss-off to British and American nationalists. Those damn French! Not only do they seem to be constantly opposing us but on virtually every issue, they are correct and hold the moral high-ground.

At the current G20 Conference on the world economic meltdown, French President Nicholas Sarkozy is in tight alliance with German chancellor Angela Merker in demanding much more of President Obama and PM Brown than either is willing to concede. What is it they are being so obstinate about? Oh, just a little matter of regulating the world financial behemoth. Yeah, the same sorts of things Barack Obama talked up a good game about, during the election process. It's very, very early in the presidency, but anyone who had hoped Obama would actually lead the way on issues like this or prosecuting war crimes (torture) - just admit he won't be such a leader. He's leaving that to the Europeans - specifically France, Spain and Germany.

France and Germany are demanding concrete agreements on financial regulations; agreements that could conceivably bring regulators inside of U.S. borders when huge banking interests or the financial markets seem to be breaking the law. "Without new regulation there will be no confidence. It's a major non-negotiable objective" , Sarkozy said. Merkel added, "We do not want results that have no impact in practice."

Obama is trying to steer clear of this kind of talk, while pushing - you guessed it - stimulus! Now, I'm not passing judgment one way or another on whether the stimulus plans might have some beneficial effects. From what I can tell, France did not go to the G20 to oppose them. They probably won't agree to contribute much to any stimulus plan because their home countries social safety nets are so much stronger than here (another areas where they are right, and moral) that they don't see the need. But they are demanding much more. They want to get to the heart of the issue, while "stimulus" just addresses the symptoms.

“The decisions need to be taken now, today and tomorrow. This has nothing to do with ego. This has nothing to do with temper tantrums. When it comes to historic moments, you can’t circumvent them.” Hey, maybe there is indeed a great, young leader in the world! Viva la France!

Monday, March 30, 2009

YouTube Atheists and Skeptics

I've been keeping up with the growing community over on YouTube for a couple of years. There are a lot of interesting characters over there. Occasionally (like today) when I have nothing of personal interest to write about, I'll share one of my favorite subscriptions from YouTube.

This one is from Atheistblindchick. It's a nice response to someone who finds atheism depressing - Boo fucking hoo. Unfortunately, this particular video in black screen. She doesn't always do that, but as she said in the comments - Hey, I'm blind!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Does Science Have the Best Explanation - For EVERYTHING?

It's a claim I made a couple of posts back and was disputed by commenter "cl" (not of the Hanson variety). I've asked him to give a couple of examples of things science does not explain better than religion does. So far, he hasn't met the challenge. He did offer up the notion (I assume now know facetiously) that religion itself is better explained by religion, than by science. (For instance - The Crusades or the Papal rejection of Galileo's claims re: heliocentric solar system. I tossed in the Inquisition and Pope Johnny The Rat's notion that the AIDS epidemic in Africa is better battled with faith than with condoms). But really, that's a weird circular reasoning. "We some crazy-ass mother fuckers and no one can explain how fucked up we are like we can"! Theories of mind and consciousness have already made great strides in explaining why people gravitate toward religion or cult figures and why they can do evil things while claiming moral high ground (and being able to convince most people that they are indeed righteous).

"Great Strides" you say, eh Evo? Sounds like science hasn't fully explained it yet.

True. But that doesn't change my position.

A mere 500 years ago, the following questions were beyond the scope of man's knowledge - The Universe (how it began, how long ago, the immensity of it, it's expansion), disease caused by microbes such as bacteria and viruses, atomic structure (everything being made up of trillions of atoms), evolution (that every life form is connected to every other life form in common ancestry), Consciousness (that there is no need to invoke a ghost in the machine. That everything we know and feel happens within the material structure of the brain and that once there is no chemical and electrical activity, there is no consciousness).

Back then, all of these and many more could have been explained as "rationally" by any religious belief as from the empirical knowledge humans had gathered. We can look back at the knowledge achieved in 500 years and say, "well sure. We know all that. But there is still a place for religious explanations of some things".

What things?

Yes, there are many mysteries that science has barely begun to scratch. There are mysteries coming that we aren't even aware of now - in much the same way that Pope Pius III in 1509 didn't dispute particle physics because no one knew what an atom was. But how different are any of today's (or tomorrow's) mysteries from those of 500 years ago? "Love" may be great challenge, but it is not beyond science's scope. Science has proven itself over and over, as the battered and dead bodies of religious certainty littering it's march attest. I won't be around to say I told you so, but today's "religious mysteries" will be chuckled at in 500 years if we are wise enough to keep from destroying civilization. And science will be our best guide in how to avoid that calamity. Religion will be, as it always has been, our worst enemy.

I could be wrong. I kind of hate using an absolute like "everything". But so far I've yet to hear a convincing argument to contrary.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Creative Atheists

I guess they're looking for slogans to replace the first "bus campaign" advertisement. Here are some pretty good ones:

Live free or Deity.

Religion is the Placebo of the Masses.

Bi-ble ... Buy Bull ... clearly pronounced

Stop praying for help and start helping

Education is Religion's Worst Enemy

Why is it that both God and Unicorns are invisible?


And my favorite:

If faith made sense you wouldn't need faith

See these and many more at the Freedom From Religion Foundation site, here.

h/t to The Gaytheist Agenda

Sunday, March 22, 2009

America and the Prince Charles Syndrome

A couple of posts to the rear, we saw how American "true believers" are much more likely than skeptics to seek aggressive (some would argue "excessive") medical treatments when faced with likely death. If you think you are going to paradise and that it is the most wonderful thing possible, then why not allow nature to take its course? At the very least, it's a bit unseemly that one would go into manic overdrive in an effort to stick around for a few more breaths of the polluted air that they did nothing about while healthy.

But Philly made an interesting point (as he is known to do) that kind of caught my attention. He said, "How amusing that believing your god will save you means putting more faith in science by opting for aggressive treatments." Indeed. Funny how the religious pick and choose with science (inevitably "choosing" science, when their own mortal life is on the line) rather than simply accepting that science provides that best explanations we have - of everything. There isn't a single time when a factual matter is better explained by some holy scriptures written by people who were closer to being cave dwellers than to being modern Homo sapiens.

Then I happened across this article which talks about Prince Charles' penchant for accepting science - whenever it agrees with his prejudices. He's a crusader in the battle against climate change, so he quotes the wide scientific consensus there. Then he turns his back on it when it comes to homeopathy, since he's been known to promote all manner of weird remedies.

Schizo-religious Americans do the same thing. They virtually fall on their knees in worship of modern medicines and medical technology when on their death beds. But the biological knowledge that underwrites medical advances is founded on the principles of evolution via natural selection. But if they don't happen to be flat-lining when you ask them about it, they'll swear that evolution is a fraud.

They will swear up and down that the moral fabric of America is being shredded by the fact that we allow women to choose whether or not to carry a fetus all the way to birth. They are adamant that terminating a zygote is exactly equivalent to murder. At least until they are in desperate need of medical help in conceiving a child. Then they turn a blind eye to the fact that every time a pregnancy occurs through assisted reproductive technology laboratories, up to 20 fertilized eggs end up being destroyed. At the rates that young Christian couples seek such treatments, it's a fair guess that they end up "murdering" more fetuses annually than all abortions combined!

Ah, the hypocrisy. Wouldn't it strengthen everyone's intellectual honesty if we just dropped the religious ignorance and accepted science in its totality?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bill Maher's Religulous

If you are reading this blog, you probably don't need to see this movie. I'll just say you'll probably enjoy it - a lot. And if you can encourage one or two religionists to watch it with you, you'll probably have a great discussion afterward.

Available now on DVD.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Religious foolishness at "end of life"

This article indicates that religiously inclined people are about 3 times as likely to seek out radical medical solutions to prolong their lives when faced with death.

Huh. Now I thought they were looking forward to the afterlife! Isn't this where they get to reunite with dead loved ones and await the joyous arrival of the next generation? Or is it yet another confirmation that the primary purpose of religion in the first place is an inability to cope with death?

For an interesting and more personal look at this subject, please don't miss the latest blog post from the Chaplain over at The Apostate's Chapel.

Monday, March 16, 2009

45 Religions

There are 45 religions in the world, each with at least 1 million adherents. There are scores (if not hundreds) of others with less than a million. They can't all be right. In fact, not even two of them can both be right. But they can all be wrong. Not one of them has a shred of empirical evidence for why it is "truth" while the others (and non-belief, in the form of atheism, agnosticism or uncertainty) is falsehood.

The dangers that god(s) bring to the world we live in lies in the absolute certainty of dogma. The warm, fuzzy feeling that the belief in god gives people does not, in itself, mean that the believer will feel that everyone else is somehow inferior, excluded or a threat. It takes the absolutism of religious doctrine to do that.

I recently read the following rather lengthy post at the Cleveland Freethinkers blog. I liked it so much that I'm posting it here in it's entirety in the hope that religious people might stumble across it and think it over. Hopefully it's less threatening than some of the things we atheists say, since it asks no one to give up their spirituality if they want or need it. Please consider posting it yourself; or email it to friends and family.


10 REASONS YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE A RELIGION

While consciously pursuing your spiritual development is commendable, joining an established religion such as Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism is one of the worst ways to go about it. In this article I’ll share 10 reasons why you must eventually abandon the baggage of organized religion if you wish to pursue conscious living in earnest.

Since Christianity is currently the world’s most popular religion, I’ll slant this article towards Christianity’s ubiquitous failings. However, you’ll find that most of these points apply equally well to other major religions (yes, even Buddhism).

1. Spirituality for dummies.

If you have the awareness level of a snail, and your thinking is mired in shame and guilt (with perhaps a twist of drug abuse or suicidal thinking), then subscribing to a religion can help you climb to a higher level of awareness. Your mindset, however, still remains incredibly dysfunctional; you’ve merely swapped one form of erroneous thinking for another.

For reasonably intelligent people who aren’t suffering from major issues with low self-esteem, religion is ridiculously consciousness-lowering. While some religious beliefs can be empowering, on the whole the decision to formally participate in a religion will merely burden your mind with a hefty load of false notions.

When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes on your continued conscious development. Religion is the off-switch of the human mind.

Leave the mythology behind, and learn to think for yourself. Your intellect is a better instrument of spiritual growth than any religious teachings.

2. Loss of spiritual depth perception.

One of the worst mistakes you can make in life is to attach your identity to any particular religion or philosophy, such as by saying “I am a Christian” or “I am a Buddhist.” This forces your mind into a fixed perspective, robbing you of spiritual depth perception and savagely curtailing your ability to perceive reality accurately. If that sounds like a good idea to you, you’ll probably want to gouge out one of your eyeballs too. Surely you’ll be better off with a single, fixed perspective instead of having to consider two separate image streams… unless of course you’ve become attached to stereo vision.

Religious “truths” are inherently rooted in a fixed perspective, but real truth is perspective-independent. When you substitute religious teachings for truth, you mistake shadows for light sources. Consequently, you doom yourself to stumble around in the dark, utterly confused. Clarity remains forever elusive, and the best answer you get is that life is one giant mystery. Religious mysteries, however, arise not from what is truly unknowable; they arise from the limitations of trying to understand reality from a fixed frame of reference.

A more intelligent approach is to consider reality through a variety of different perspectives without trying to force your perceptions into an artificial religious framework. If you wish to learn more about this approach, read Spiritual Depth Perception.

3. Engineered obedience training.

Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as such, but this is essentially how they operate.

Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. They’re among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Of course these instruments are usually controlled by those who administrate the minion training program, but they don’t have to be. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is submission.

Religions strive to fill your head with so much nonsense that your only recourse is to bow your head in submission, often quite literally. Get used to spending a lot of time on your knees because acts of submission such as bowing and kneeling are frequently incorporated into religious practice. Canine obedience training uses similar tactics. Now say, “Yes, Master.”

Have you ever wondered why religious teachings are invariably mysterious, confusing, and internally incongruent? This is no accident by the way — it’s quite intentional.

By putting forth confusing and internally conflicting information, your logical mind (i.e. your neocortex) is overwhelmed. You try in vain to integrate such contradictory beliefs, but it can’t be done. The net effect is that your logical mind disengages because it can’t find a pattern of core truth beneath all the nonsense, so without the help of your neocortex, you devolve to a more primitive (i.e. limbic) mode of thinking. You’re taught that this faith-based approach is a more spiritual and conscious way to live, but in reality it’s precisely the opposite. Getting you to distrust your own cerebral cortex actually makes you dumber and easier to manipulate and control. Karl Marx was right when he said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”

For example, the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible frequently contradict each other with various rules of conduct, yet both are quoted during mass. Church leaders also behave in direct violation of the Church’s teachings, such as by covering up criminal and immoral activities by their own priests. Those who try to mentally process such glaring contradictions as coherent truth invariably suffer for it. A highly conscious person would reject membership in such an organization as patently ridiculous. So-called divine mysteries are engineered to be incomprehensible. You aren’t meant to ever make sense of them since that would defeat the whole purpose. When you finally wake up and realize it’s all B.S., you’ve taken the first step towards freedom from this oppressive system.

The truth is that so-called religious authorities don’t know any more about spirituality than you do. However, they know how to manipulate your fear and uncertainty for their own benefit. How nice of you to let them.

Although the most popular religions are very old, L. Ron Hubbard proved the process can be replicated from scratch in modern times. As long as there are large numbers of people who fear the responsibility of their own power, religions will continue to dominate the landscape of human development.

If you want to talk to God, then communicate directly instead of using third-party intermediaries. Surely God has no need of an interpreter. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a mindless minion. It’s a mistake to think that turning off your neocortex and practicing mindless “faith” will bring you closer to God. In truth it will only bring you closer to dog.

4. Toilet-bowl time management.

If you devote serious time to the practice of religion, it’s safe to say you practice toilet-bowl time management, flushing much of your precious life down the drain with little or nothing to show for it.

First, you’ll waste a lot of time filling your head with useless nonsense. This includes reading some of the worst fiction ever written. Then there are various rules, laws, and practices to learn.

Seriously, if you have insomnia, try reading religious texts before bedtime. You’ll be asleep faster than you can say Methuselah. Why do you think hotels put Bibles next to the bed? It’s the greatest sedative known to man. I have to give props to the Scientologists for at least incorporating space aliens into their stories. It’s a shame Gene Roddenberry didn’t formally invent his own religion; Stovokor sounds like a lot of fun.

Once you finally realize your head has been filled with utter nonsense, you must then purge such garbage from your mind if you want your brain to be functional again. That can take considerably longer, assuming you succeed at all. It’s like trying to uninstall AOL from your hard drive.

Next, you can expect to waste even more time on repetitive ritual and ceremony, such as attending mass, learning prayers, and practicing unproductive meditations.

If I add up the time I attended mass and Sunday school, studied religion in school as if it were a serious subject, and memorized various prayers, I count thousands of hours of my life I’d love to have back. I did, however, learn some important lessons, many of which are being shared in this article.

I especially remember listening to a lot of bad sermons; most priests are hideously poor speakers. Maybe it’s because they drink alcohol while on duty.

Now if you really go overboard and throw in learning a dead language for good measure, you can kiss years of your life goodbye.

The more time you devote to religious practice, the more you waste your life on pointless, dead-end pursuits… and the more you’ll want to delude yourself with a phony “Hehe, I meant to do that” attitude.

5. Support your local pedophile.

In addition to being a serious waste of time, religious practice can also be a huge waste of money.

For starters... when you donate to a major religion, you support its expansion, which means you’re facilitating the enslavement of your fellow humans. That isn’t very nice, now is it? If you feel the urge to donate money, give it to a real and honorable cause, not a fabricated one. Better yet, go outside and do something that really helps people. If you can’t think of anything better, grab a can of paint and clean up some local graffiti.

Your religious donations fund freeloaders who mooch off society but who generally provide little or no value in return. Sure there are some religious people who perform valuable public services, but for the most part, that isn’t their bailiwick. These freeloaders typically operate tax-free, meaning they’re effectively subsidized by taxpayers. That’s a great racket if you’re on the receiving side… not so great if you’re funding it though.

Religions offer a suite of special services to generate additional income. They’ll spout some gibberish while feeding you a crusty wafer, pronounce you bonded to a fellow human being, snip some of your excess skin, pour water on your head, proclaim your manhood, cast out your demons, pronounce your transgressions forgiven, and so on. When they can’t think of anything else, they make up some drivel like confirming you’re still loyal to them. The bill may read “suggested donation,” but it’s still a bill.

When you donate money to a religious organization, you’re doing much worse than throwing your money away. You’re actively funding evil. If you think that spending a billion dollars to defend pedophiles and rapists is a good use of your hard-earned cash, perhaps you should run for Pope. You could hardly do worse. At least Wall Street is honest about its greed and lust.

One of my Catholic high school teachers was later revealed to be a repeat child molester… written up in the newspaper and everything. I didn’t see any suspicious behavior at the time, and to be totally honest, I actually liked that teacher and was shocked to learn of his extracurricular activities. He was shuffled from one location to another by those who knew about his appetite for young flesh. I’m glad I wasn’t on the menu, but I feel sad for those who were. Methinks God should raise his standards… just a tad.

Why aren’t Catholic priests allowed to marry? This has nothing to do with what’s written in the Bible or with any benefits of celibacy. This rule was invented by the Church to prevent their priests from producing heirs. When the priests died, their property would go back to the Church, thereby enriching the rich even more. Apparently God needed more cash. It was a very effective policy, as the Church is now among the richest and most powerful organizations on earth. It’s hard to fail when you have a loyal force of lifetime indentured servants who work cheaply and then yield their life savings to you when they die.

Lay religious people (i.e. non-clergy), on the other hand, are encouraged to have lots of babies because that means more people are born into the religion, which means more money and a bigger power base. Condoms are a big no-no; they’re bad for business. Marriage is a big yes; it means more brainwashed babies will be made.

Would you seriously consider this sort of structure a “good cause” worthy of your hard-earned cash?

I have got to get me one of these…

6. Incest is best.

Religions frequently promote inbred social networks. You’re encouraged to spend more time with people who share the same belief system while disengaging from those with incompatible beliefs. Sometimes this is done subtly; other times it’s more obvious.

If you’re one of the saved, blessed, or otherwise enlightened individuals who stumbled upon the one true belief system, then supposedly everyone else remains in the dark. Certain religions are overtly intolerant of outsiders, but to one degree or another, all major religions cast non-subscribers in a negative light. This helps to discourage members from abandoning the religion while still enabling them to proselytize. The main idea is to maintain social structures that reward loyalty and punish freedom of thought.

This us-vs-them prejudice is totally incongruent with conscious living. It’s also downright moronic from a global perspective. But it remains a favored practice of those who pull the strings. When you’re taught to distrust other human beings, fear gets a foothold in your consciousness, and you become much easier to control.

When you join a religion, your fellow mind-slaves will help to keep you in line, socially rewarding your continued obedience while punishing your disloyalty. Why do they do this? It’s what they’ve been conditioned to do. Tell your religious friends that you’re abandoning their religion because you want to think for yourself for a while, and watch the sparks fly. Suddenly you’ve gone from best friend to evil demon. There’s no greater threat to religious people than to profess your desire to think for yourself.

There are better ways to enjoy a sense of community than joining a slavery club. Try making friends with conscious, free-thinking people for a change — people who are willing to connect with you regardless of how silly your beliefs are. You may find it intimidating at first, but it’s quite refreshing once you get used to it.

Since I get asked this question all the time, I might as well answer it publicly. Do I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior? No more than I’d accept a credit card from Crapital One. Either way I’d be worried about the fine print. Does this mean we can’t be friends anymore? Please don’t hate me because I’m doomed.

7. Idiocy or hypocrisy - pick one.

When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two options. You can become an idiot, or you can become a hypocrite. If you’ve already chosen the former, I’ll explain why, and I’ll use small words so that you’re sure to understand.

First, there’s the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of the contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth is only 10,000 years old. Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about. Eat your dogma. Good boy!

Congratulations! You’re a (moron) believer. You’ll be saved, enlightened, and greeted with tremendous fanfare when you die… unless of course all the stuff you were taught turns out not to be true. Nah… if the guy in the robe says it’s true, it must be true. Ya gotta have faith, right?

Next, we have the hypocrisy option. In this case your neocortex is strong enough to identify various bits of utter nonsense in the religious teachings that others are trying to ram down your throat. You have a working B.S. detector, but it’s slightly damaged. You’re smart enough to realize that earth is probably a lot older than 10,000 years and that pre-marital (or non-marital) sex is a lot of fun, but some B.S. still gets through. You don’t swallow all the bull, but you still identify yourself as a follower of a particular religion, most likely because you were raised in it and never actually chose it to begin with.

To you it’s just a casual pursuit. You’re certainly not a die-hard fundamentalist, but you figure that if you drink the wine and chew the wafer now and then, it’s good enough to get you a free ride into a half-decent afterlife. You belong to the pro-God club. Surely there’s safety in numbers. Two people people can’t be wrong… although 4-1/2 billion supposedly can.

In this case you become an apologist for your own religion. You don’t want to be identified with the extreme fanatics, nor do you want to be associated with the non-believers. You figure you can straddle both sides. On earth you’ll basically live as a non-practitioner (or a very sloppy and inconsistent practitioner), but when you eventually die, you’ve still got the membership card to show God.

Do you realize how deluded you are?

Perhaps if you have to throw out so much of the nonsense to make your chosen belief system palatable, you shouldn’t be drinking the Kool Aid in the first place. Free yourself from the mental baggage, stop looking to others for permission to live, and start thinking on your own. If your God exists, he’s smart enough to see through your fake ID.

From time to time, some of my readers take a stab at converting me to their religion. Most of them come across as total loons, but I can at least respect their consistency. I’ve no idea why they bother to read my site (which is about raising, not lowering, consciousness). Perhaps some of them are getting ready to convert from fundamentalism to common sense.

You’d think I’d be quite a prize for any serious religion. With 2.4 million monthly readers, that’s a lot of people I could potentially (enslave) convert, not to mention how much I could fill the Church coffers by soliciting (indulgences) donations on their behalf. Henceforth I expect a much better conversion effort. If you won’t do it for the money, then do it for the souls. You can’t let so many of us go to hell without trying in earnest to save us, can you?

Just keep those conversion emails below 10,000 words if possible, with no more than 9,000 of them quoted from your favorite great book.

8. Inherited falsehood.

Please tell me you aren’t still practicing the religion you happened to be born into? Surely you’ve outgrown your baby clothes by now. Isn’t it time you also outgrew your baby religion?

What if you were born into a different culture? Would you have been conscious enough to find your way back to your current belief system? Or are your current beliefs merely a product of your environment and not the result of conscious choice?

Many religions are just a mish-mash of what came before. For example, Christianity is largely based on pagan rituals. If those pagan beliefs and rituals had been protected by copyright, Christianity wouldn’t even exist. If you take the time to dig into the roots of Christianity, you’ll encounter various theories that Christianity’s teachings were largely assembled from pre-Christian myths and that Jesus himself was merely a fictional character pieced together from earlier mythical figures. You go, Horus!

Many religious teachers (i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.) are just brainwashed slaves themselves. They don’t have any real authority and aren’t even aware of the agenda being set by their superiors. This makes them better minions because they actually believe the B.S. they’re spouting and don’t know the truth behind it. A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, but that’s as far as they get. They may interact with the bartender, but they never get to know the guy who owns the bar. They suffer from inherited falsehood just like everyone else.

Is your religion based on the inspired word of God? No more than this article. Just because someone says their text is divinely inspired doesn’t mean it is. Anyone can claim divine inspiration. The top religions are decided by popularity, not by truth.

Even the central figures in major religions didn’t follow the religions that were spawned in their names. If they didn’t swallow the prevailing “wisdom” about gods and spiritual leaders and such, why should you? If you want to be more like the people you worship, then follow their lead by striking out on your own.

Move beyond your baby religion. Consider maturity as a reasonable alternative.

9. Compassion in chains.

Religious rules and laws invariably hamper the development of conscience. This causes all sorts of problems like pointless violence and warfare. Those who preach nonviolence as a rule or law tend to be the most violent of all. Such people cannot be trusted because they’ll violate their proclaimed values with the weakest of excuses.

When you externalize compassion into a set of rules and laws, what you’re left with isn’t compassion at all. True compassion is a matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of force-backed rules and laws.

The more religious a person becomes, the less compassionate s/he is. The illusion of compassion substitutes for the real thing. Religious people tend to be the most bigoted and non-accepting people on earth. They’re the least trustworthy and suffer from the grossest character defects. They pretend they’re doing good, but they’re really collaborators in a system designed to push people into unconscious slavery to a “higher” authority. They are slaves promoting slavery.

Historically speaking, religious people loved to fight each other. Instead of unconditional love, they practice conditional loyalty. The only unconditional aspect is their thirst for blood. If you disagree with them, you’re a target… either for conversion or destruction (both of which are really the same thing).

If you value the ideal of unconditional love, you won’t find it in the practice of religion. Real compassion doesn’t arise from believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the concept of karma. Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. If you’re obedient to your faith, it’s a safe bet that compassion is absent from your life. You probably don’t even know what real compassion feels like.

The more we collectively abandon all religion, the better off this planet will be. This doesn’t mean we have to abandon all spiritual pursuits. It just means we must stop turning spirituality into something it isn’t.

10. Faith is fear.

Religion is the systematic marketing of fear.

Blessed are the poor (donate heavily). Blessed are the meek (obey). Blessed are the humble (don’t question authority). Blessed are the hungry (make us rich until it hurts). Blessed are the merciful (if you catch us doing something wrong, let it go). Blessed are the pure of heart (because your brains are switched off). Blessed are the timid, the cowardly, the fearful. Blessed are those who give us their power and become our slaves. Muahahaha!

That’s the kind of nonsense religion pushes on people. They train you to turn your back on courage, strength, and conscious living. This is stupidity, not divinity.

Religion will teach you to fear being different, to fear standing up for yourself, and to fear being an independent thinker. It will erode your self-trust by explaining why you’re unable to successfully manage life on your own terms: You are unworthy. You’re a sinner. You’re unclean. You belong to a lesser caste. Of course the solution is always the same — submit to the will of an external authority. Give away your power. Live in fear for the rest of your life, and hope it will all turn out okay in the end.

When you practice faith instead of conscious living, you live under a cloak of fear. Eventually that cloak becomes so habitual you forget it’s even there. It’s very sad when you reach the point where you can’t even remember what it feels like to wield creative freedom over your own life, independent of what you’ve been conditioned to believe.

Faith is the coward’s substitute for courage. It’s also really good marketing if you’re the one who controls the faith. If you’re afraid or unwilling to assume total responsibility for your life, you’re a perfect match for religion.

Fear in one part of your life invariably spreads to all other parts — you can’t comparmentalize it. If you find yourself frustrated because you’re too afraid to follow your dreams, to talk to members of the oppposite sex, to speak up for yourself, etc., then a good place to start is to rid your life of all religious nonsense. Don’t let fear get a foothold in your consciousness.

Stop trying to comfort yourself by swallowing religious rubbish. If you really need something to believe in, then believe in your own potential. Put your trust in your own intellect.

Dump the safety-in-numbers silliness. Just because a lot of people believe stupid stuff doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. It just means that stupidity is popular on this planet. When people are in a state of fear, they’ll swallow just about anything to comfort themselves, including the bastion of stupidity known as religion.

***
Religion is spiritual immaturity. That’s a compliment.

It’s entirely possible to enjoy your life without spending so much of it bent over in submission. Pull your head out of your rear, and look around with your own two eyes. If you need something to worship, then feel grateful for your own conscious mind. Pull it out of the cobwebs, and boot it up.

Besides… if some popular religious version of God does exist, there’s a good chance he’s a complete and total idiot. He made us in his image, right? So perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to worship an entity so lacking in intelligence. We’re better off on our own.

God isn’t going to smite you for not formally worshipping him. If he didn’t smite me by now, it’s a safe bet you’ll slide beneath the radar as well. And if that doesn’t work, you can borrow my fake ID. I’ve been baptized and confirmed, and I’m the son of an altar boy and the nephew of a priest, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Praise Hestia!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Atheism, Economics, Family and Friends

Here we are in West Los Angeles. For the uninitiated, the swanky part of town. Observe yourself at the junction of Beverly Hills, Belair, Santa Monica and Brentwood. We're not "in the money", though viewed from South Central or Compton, I suppose we are. We're here by the luck of my genetic draw. My father bought the house I now own, back in 1955 for $11,500. At the height of the housing bubble, homes in our neighborhood were selling for between $900K and 1.2 million. Meanwhile, I spent the majority of my working life as a blue collar employee and never made over 60K a year. Our millionaire status was strictly on paper.

Despite being a 55 year old, unemployed, house hermit (a recluse in a city of 4 million), fluctuating between deep and mild depression, things could be a lot worse - and maybe they will be. One thing everyone will agree on - Jesus ain't gonna help me out. As Patti Smith said back in 1975, he "died for somebody's sins - but not mine". Anyway, my wife of 26 years is a "twice born" as Sarge likes to call them, so we even have that angle covered. As if I cared. Can you imagine a depressed atheist finding out that not only is there a god, but he just happens to be the one the Christians dreamed up? Double-dose Zoloft, anyone?

The spouse (Rosa) and I aren't a couple anymore, though we are legally married, do spend a lot of time under the same roof (when she's not in Hawaii with the boyfriend), working on the same bills and we get along surprisingly well. I'd consider her one of my 2 or 3 best friends, and I figure she'd rate me right about there as well. For a Christian, she isn't the worst. She was for Proposition 8, but also for Obama. She's against abortion but thinks giving condoms to African prostitutes makes a lot more sense than teaching abstinence. Get the picture? No sooner does she make my head swell out to explosive proportions than she says something that mellows me out like a double Jack Daniels on the rocks. And if you get past the theoretical bullshit, and down to daily living, she's a genuinely caring person. In fact, she's a bit of a sucker for helping the down and out. Which explains both why she likes me and why I could never dislike her.

She now actively encourages me to see other women, but that would be too unhermit-like. While I'm sexually straight (despite the proximity of West Los Angeles and West Hollywood) I have "changed" (OK, not like that). I have been a celibate for 3 years (now there's a good hermit). There could be psychological issues, definitely no physiological ones, but mainly it's a choice. I've gone from being a complete pig in my earlier years to a great friend to females (and to their issues), but I've figured out that the genetic prime directive has consistently gotten me into problems throughout my life. I don't think I'm cut out to be both lover and friend and, at least at this point in life, friendship seems to be a lot more valuable.

Back to Rosa - we have some of my kids together! And her family adores me (no, I don't know why. But they are great - and there are a lot of them. They've managed to transplant themselves from the Caribbean, not just to California but to within a half mile of my house). I cherish them too. It's pretty cool to be a white California guy of Oklahoma ancestry and find yourself enmeshed with a close-knit Latino family hailing from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. They are even very accepting of my other child, whose birth was uncomfortably close to that of my second child with Rosa (I have a 25 year old son and two 20 year old daughters - both born in March - yeah, I know. Leave it alone). We are all about as tight as a wandering tribe of Taino Indians (I think I'm the medicine man). Perilous financial rapids are much less formidable when 20 canoes are strapped together.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Evolution can't disprove God!

So says the Vatican.

And they are absolutely right - evolution proves god is superfluous.

Additionally it proves (as if anyone should really need yet more proof) that any literal reading of the holy texts is sheer silliness.

In the early 1800s, the French mathematician Laplace presented Napoleon with a copy of his great five-volume work on the solar system, the Mechanique Celeste (Celestial Mechanics). Aware that the books contained no mention of God, Napoleon taunted him, “Monsieur Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.” Laplace answered, famously and brusquely: “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothese-la,” “I have had no need of that hypothesis.”

If you don't know where god came from, what it is, what it wants, what it is doing, what its connection is to the universe as we can observe it - then what do you need a religion for?