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.