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Friday, December 30, 2005

Polls ! Polls ! Polls !

"Poll: Elbow Room No Problem in Heaven"

Vast majorities of Americans believe in heaven and think they're headed there. But elbow room won't be a problem: About eight in 10 believers envision heaven as a place where people exist only spiritually, not physically.

(...)

Who gets in is another matter. Among people who believe in heaven, one in four thinks access is limited to Christians. More than a third of Protestants feel that way, and this view peaks at 55 percent among Protestants who describe themselves as very religious.

Among all adults, 79 percent are Christians, 14 percent have no religion, and the rest, 5 percent, are non-Christians. Among Christian groups, Catholics account for 21 percent of adults; evangelical Protestants, 19 percent; and non-evangelical Protestants, 13 percent.



Poll says U.S. majority believes in God

The Harris poll of 889 adults found 82 percent believe in God, 73 percent believe in miracles and 70 percent believe there is life after death, the Washington Times reported.

In addition, 70 percent said heaven exists and 70 percent also cited Jesus as the son of God.

Six out of 10 said there is a devil and hell exists as well, the poll revealed.

Hopefully my last post on this (crossed fingers)

On Aaron's advice, I have decided to erase the enemies list. I trust his advice, although I don't think it's the best thing to do myself. My problem right now is that I really don't see any other way to attract eyeballs than the two atheist carnivals we have, and creating controversy. Although I'd like to be friend with anyone, I still think we can be controversial and question each other without personal attacks. But it seems I'm wrong on that, if I am to believe the results of my attempts so far.

The fact is, as long as this blog is snubbed or attacked by big-time bloggers like Raving Atheist or Evangelistic Atheist, it'll never go anywhere. I think that's pretty clear by now. Carnivals have a long-lasting effect, but it is relatively small, and controversy seems to make the situation worse.

Seth on Kindgom of Heathen thinks I made the right decision by taking off the "shit list", and agrees about Raving Atheist. I have to say I'm pretty happy to see someone actually acknowledge what's going on and concede that I'm not an imbecile. Thank you Seth for your even-handed support.

So where does this lead us ? Well, I have plenty of great future entries in store (right now my drafts extend to early April), and that's never gonna change. This blog is here to stay. Whether it'll have any impact on anything is another matter.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

On the attacks against this blog

The Raving Atheist once again goes on the offensive against me :

Don over at Diana Mertz Hsieh's Noodlefood has jumped ship:

(...)

I just finished the book, and let me say: I was convinced. I must humbly renounce my former views and state publicly that I have discovered and accepted in my heart and mind the Truth that Jesus was born of God and died for our sins.

However, Don was an Objectivist, so it's really just switching from one cult to another. Could Francois Tremblay be next?


How hard pressed do you have to be to stoop down to this level of attack - using the old Christian canard of "it's just a phase" when you're an ATHEIST ? What's next, "I know what you are but what am I" ? Is he going to "double dog dare me" ? There's no way I can beat the double dog dare...

Flash news : I never claimed to be an Objectivist, and quoting David Kelley doesn't make me an Objectivist. Okay ? Stop lying about me.

Now The Uncredible Hallq also retracts much-needed support for this blog. Every such attack hurts me personally because people are taking away support based on their personal opinions and not on the quality of my work. If anyone actually asked me politely to take them off the shit list, I would do so, but instead I get attacked by Raving Bigot and it's supposed to be my fault.

Many blogs have a shit list. Blog carnivals and controversy are the only two means blogs have to get read, and we write so we can be read. Why should I be any different ?

Attack my blog and I'll punish you the only way I can. Extend the hand of friendship and I'll be your friend. Seems simple enough to me. What am I supposed to do with the so-called "atheist community" when no one extends a hand ? If I was a collectivist who believed in the notion of community, I would be very pissed off about it and probably resent being an atheist. Fortunately, I'm an individualist so I'm not that far gone - I just resent the people who expand their energies opposing me when it would take very little effort to be a friend.

And to be honest, I also resent the fact that these ego clashes are overshadowing my work, and that less people are going to read my blog because of it. From my perspective, these people are NOT interested in a "strong atheist community". Putting down people because they dare to read this or that book, or because they criticize what you say, or even simply because you ask a couple questions, is intolerence based on personal opinion. And intolerence based on personal opinion does not make a "strong community".

I don't care if you think I'm abrasive or even morally wrong. That is your prerogative. But don't take away support for my blog based on that. It's crass and unjust. I work hard on this blog, and I don't do it so I can have the privilege of getting insulted by all sorts of people I don't know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Question of the Day #18: Happy Decemberween!

Is there anything objectionable about an atheist participating in non-religious festive traditions?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Killing the Antithesis

The New Year is soon upon us. It's a time to start anew, look back to what we've done and seek to improve. This blog was founded on the premise of attacking the Christian side of the materialist/Christian antithesis. Now I'm going to kill the Christian worldview, by driving a rhetorical sword through its heart.

I don't really worry about opposing opinions about this. Since Christians love persecution, sacrifice and death, I daresay that they should like this as well.

But first, is the antithesis really that important ? We obviously think it is, because that's what we write about. But I don't think we can really escape having a worldview, because we are naturally curious and have a need to take a position about the nature of our existence and our place in the universe. Even to deny that these kinds of truths exist and that we fabricate our answers using inter-subjective processes is in itself a worldview (post-modernism). So anyone who is the least bit interested in what life is all about takes a side on this issue, even though one may not necessarily know what these sides are all about.

As a fervent representative of the materialist side, let me tell you what both worldviews mean to me.

When the Christian says "materialism is false", he says this as a result of a worldview which places God as the metaphysical center of all things. More specifically, a worldview which considers man as the opposite and the enemy of nature and the natural, a special creation set apart from all the animals, where natural law and induction are nullified by divine consciousness, and where there is no morality, purpose and meaning, only divine whim. In the Christian worldview, man is inherently evil can only be "cleansed" by the divine whim, and is at the mercy of a divine plan he cannot possibly understand.

The Christian's place in the universe is that of both slave to divine whim and slavemaster to those inferior to himself on the social hierarchy established by Christianity (Jesus first, then the religious and political authorities, then men, then women, then their slaves). Man's place in the universe is that of a supernatural spirit which has no causal connections to the universe, and can only understand said universe because of the divine whim.

In the Christian worldview, this life is "wordly", wicked, useless, Satanic, immoral. Only a devotion to the supernatural realm and its "other life" can bring salvation and righteousness. Because of this, values do not exist. Our only moral role is to stop other people from living their lives in a non-Christian way (anti-values), and the only valid political order is theocratic, with Christian beliefs and anti-values at the core.

When I say "I am a materialist", I say this as the result of a worldview which considers man as part of a causal, knowable universe, where natural laws and induction hold (and are not subverted by some "supernatural cause"), and where morality, purpose and meaning are possible bececause of that very causality and knowability. My worldview says man is an animal, but a noble animal, capable of the highest good as well as the vilest evil.

It also says that my place in the universe is that of an epistemic agent no different from any other structure of matter in the universe, an animal with a genome that evolved like any other, but with the capacity of awareness and knowledge given to me through biological evolution, the most wonderful and powerful process in the universe.

In my worldview, this life is something to be pursued, because there is nothing else. People should not hate others or sacrifice themselves in the name of a non-existing "other life". I have no right to tell other people how to live their life, as long as they follow the same rule. All individuals should be free to pursue their lives, their personal values, in the way they desire.

And that's why, while I can appreciate the many Christians who are practical atheists and don't share the Christian worldview, I'll never have any respect for those who do. They are my cultural enemies. I know their epistemic malady comes from their education or life experiences, and I feel compassion for their botched lives, but compassion can never restore the peace and progress that Christianity and other monotheisms, polytheisms and pantheonisms have taken away.


Short blogging hiatus for me. Hope you had a good Christmas, and have a happy New Year. Keep peace and good will in your heart.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Newest Carnival of the Godless

Congratulations to Aaron for his entry "You might be a Christian if..." on Carnival of the Godless, in conjunction with my entry "Christmas is OUR holiday". Good job.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Newest shit list member

Please give a hand to the newest member of the shit list, The Raving Atheist, for his anti-individualist attack against Julia Sweeney, and his recent link to this blog.

To the throngs who are flocking to this blog from Raving Atheist right now to see what the commotion is all about, welcome ! Unlike Raving Atheist who is an anti-individualist bigot, we support individualism fully. Individualism is what we're all about. And no, none of us are Objectivists, but that doesn't make his comments right. I would have spoken up the same if he had attacked existentialism, anarchism, or Buddhism in the same way. No one should tell anyone not to read anything, that's absolutely ridiculous.

Oh yea, and Merry Christmas ! We just had a great turkey dinner. I'm still reeling from that maple pie. Whee ! The good will is kicking in.

Talking about good will, Aaron told me I should take Evangelistic Atheist's entry down. What do you guys think ? Should I give him a break for viciously attacking me because I dared to question his anti-Big Bang position ? Now that's a question to ponder when glooping the sauce on the mashed potatoes.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Things we get from the material world

One thing I've tried to emphasize this Christmas season, is the fact that Christmas and atheistic individualists like us both glorify the wonders of the material universe, as well as the very real support and hope you get from it. I've asked everyone who writes for this blog to come together and list some of the things they appreciate, or receive, from the material world. Here is our little list :


* The febrility and pride that comes from finding out something new for yourself.
* Being able to both admire something in nature AND admire how it works.
* Through conscious sentience, the ability to appreciate things we get
from the material universe.
* The happiness I get on the show from talking to people who share my worldview and can discuss ideas meaningfully.
* The fact that we can get pills to cure our daily annoyances, instead of bearing with them.
* A new appreciation for the tortured but often whimsical historical
development of the Bible.
* A true feeling of interconnectedness to all lifeforms through shared
ancestry.
* Respite from the frustration of talking to an invisible person who
never replies.
* Currency to spend and, if some if left over, save.
* Big trees rustling and swaying in the wind.
* Stargazing at the cosmos.
* The smell of flowers, perfume, a loved one's skin or hair.
* Elapsed-time footage of flowers blooming.
* Fast cars.
* My own body.
* Pain (says you're alive).
* Orgasm. Need we say more ?
* The flurry of wonderful and fragrant flavor combinations to be found in food, principally, Thai and Indian food.
* The sound and appearance of speakers blasting loud, obnoxious music.
* Falling to sleep, losing consciousness, and dreaming.
* Sitting in a chair after standing forever
* Gulping a tall glass of water after exercising
* Opening and seeing a gift.
* Beer.
* Martinis.
* The crunching sound that cold snow makes.
* Being able to get intimate with another person, kissing and hugging.
* Seeing a loved one smile.
* Three material words: "I love you."

Merry Christmas ! Peace to all people of good will (fundies don't count ;).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Spirit of Christmas

Mark Spittle, of the blog "Spittle and Ink", comments again about his unprovoked and bigoted retractation of our show...

Loopy Libertarian Francois Tremblay used a few big words to insult me over at his blog, although his was admittedly not the best vocabulary of my Libby critics. (OT: Watch for the Francois Tremblay Divorce Clock -- where we calculate how long it will take for his wife Alleee to dump him -- right here on S+I.)


Well, that's his very own statist way to celebrate Christmas, I guess. But he really needs to practice his trolling : the Christians we get are so much better at it. He needs to convert and get some Holy Spirit fire in 'im.

Incidentally, I've wanted to make a shit list of stupid anti-individualists that we cross paths with, so I've started one, spurred on by this latest troll. It's probably going to be temporary. Merry Christmas to the four morons who made the list.

Secularism Triumphant

I've already discussed why Christmas is a champion of secular, materialist values. Here's what the Bible has to say about Christmas :

Jeremiah 10:3-4
For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.


Jeremiah 3:13
Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,' " declares the LORD.


The Bible has been more and more left behind throughout the centuries, because social pressure is what drives religious morality, not doctrine. What we now call "Christian morality" is the result of thousands of years of relativism, of constant changing and molding of the religion to adapt to its varied environments.

The fact that Christians are now trying to co-opt Christmas - which is the fullest expression of material, secular values - demonstrates that they have lost the moral battle, and are desperately trying to beat a retreat.

So the good news is that, we've won. The bad news is, the Christians' constant War against Christmas has been so successful that it has hidden that fact.

Merry Christmas !

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Passion of Benny Hinn / Social study attacked

The Passion of the Christ set to Benny Hinn music ? How utterly inspired.

The study on the correlation between religion and social problems is coming under attack... by people who understand nothing about sociology, science, or rational thinking.

(...) Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist seminary — even as he questions Paul’s academic credentials and data — now says it doesn’t really matter whether he’s right or wrong.

(...)

"I would go so far to say that I would not want a person to become a Christian because they want to see a lowering in social pathologies, but because they’ve come to believe in Christ."


Hey, here's Tremblay, president of Goosing the Antithesis : "I would go so far to say that I would not want a person to become an atheist because they want to see a lowering in social pathologies, but because they’ve come to understand that Christianity is fucking stupid and immoral".

Print THAT in your newspapers !

Happy Solstice!

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, have a happy winter solstice, the REAL reason for the season!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ID Struck Down in PA

Original Article

"A six-week trial over the issue yielded “overwhelming evidence” establishing that intelligent design “is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,” said Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago."

Hear, hear!

The Final Cut

Recently I've seen the movie The Final Cut, a science-fiction thriller about a future where babies get implants that record every single moment of their lives up to their death. Robin Williams, in another one of his recent subdued roles, plays the role of a "cutter", a person who cuts together people's "life-movies" to play at funerals. His work becomes particularly interesting when, while starting work on the life of a corrupt administrator of an implant company, he discovers someone that may be related to a memory he has carried guilt about all his life.

It got mostly bad reviews, except for Roger Ebert. I think that's quite unfortunate. Critics mostly criticized the plot. I thought it was a great plot. For one thing, most of us can relate to the idea of guilt carried from something we did when we were too young to reason (I certainly do). The issues of privacy raised by the implant are also questions of great import, which should make us pause. So far issues of privacy have always been issues of either crime (such as cameras in the streets) or workplace abuse (which is what I consider drug testing is), but nothing resembling this kind of issue.

So what the fuck am I doing reviewing a movie on my blog ? I've never done that before. Well, there are two reasons, both of which have to do with theism.

First, there's the issue of privacy rights - many people in the Final Cut universe rebel against the implant because it means the end of privacy rights. Since anyone could have an implant - and theoretically not even know it - there does not seem to be any way to act naturally anywhere. One person is reported to have killed herself a few months after learning she had an implant, as she simply couldn't stand the pressure. So even though the government is not the one recording the data, or using it, and "cutters" are professionally bound to secrecy, there is still a possibility of your words and actions being captured, that exists at all moments. The only possibility left is to exclude from one's life anyone who has such an implant - which seems a priori impossible.

This also relates to the question of God. In my entry "Who wants to be a ghost ?", I discussed how even the possibility of being constantly observed would be enough to radically change our behaviour, and how this shows that Christians are hypocrites because they don't act any different than we do, let alone radically differently. The idea that your life is recorded is perhaps less frightening as your life being observed by God, in that the recording will not be used to judge your fate. So it's more of a theoretical anxiety, an existential anxiety, while the anxiety that an honest Christian would feel is a very real and important anxiety.

It would certainly be an important social experiment. So here's another interesting issue : what would such a social experiment tell us about human morality ? It seems possible that an individual, in this scenario, would come to terms with the implant by realizing that any consequence from it would only happen after his life. So there is definitely a possibility there that does not exist with the omniscient god scenario.

Secondly, the implant is very much religious in many aspects. For one thing, it is imposed on children without their consent, just like religious brainwashing. Unlike religious belief, parents are encouraged to admit the deed at a certain age, but this is not as important because, unlike God, the implant is real and still has real consequences even if one knows the truth. Like religion, the implant serves as a sort of knee-jerk, irrational replacement morality - the anxiety of having one's actions recorded forever. The implant serves a religious purpose - getting over grief, funerals. The cutters are bound to a professional code that is akin to priest-parishoner confidentiality. Finally, the implant causes social problems and turmoil on a global scale, like religion.

So the anti-implant groups are, if we follow this analogy, atheists. But this is a very unflattering comparison. The anti-implant groups are a rebellious sub-culture, they protest at people's funerals, and some of them will stoop to killing to help their cause. So they actually sound more like Christians. The implant is like the Christian meme, and the anti-implant groups are like Christians. It's a very weird dynamic. I think it might actually make the movie more interesting than it would have been with a straightforward religious comparison, although I would like to watch a movie made on that premise too.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Correction !

My article was indeed featured on the God or Not Carnival, there was just a bug. Forget about what I said before. God or Not rocks.

Latest God or Not

Congradulations to Aaron and Uberkuh for being featured on the latest God or Not, on morality. However, I am very dissapointed by the rejection of my entry, since morality has been my topic since day 1. The fact that an article I wrote on morality is rejected, is a slap on the face.

However, I try not to take it as a slight on the quality of my work, which has also been praised ever since I began. I guess you just can't account for people's beliefs.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Question of the Day #17: Stuff

George Carlin Question.

Do you own your stuff, or does your stuff own you?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Upcoming Hellbound Alleee shows


The first episode of our new show, Vox Populi, is available on our archives or on the show's own page. Vox Populi is a new bi-weekly feature where five intelligent and opinionated atheists can express themselves on various interesting questions and issues. So give it a listen, I think most of you will like it.

On the show this Saturday, Alleee will be discussing the relation between Christmas and commercialism. We're going to put to rest some myths ! On the live show, we'll have another call-in challenge, so check that out too.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Are Christian Women Crazy?

Craig Sowder opined recently about Christian women at Through the Eyes of Faith:

“I'm really starting to think that all young, single, Christian women have brain damage. That's the only explanation I can think of. I mean, in my workplace I am surrounded by plenty of women that are either non-Christians or very nominal, lukewarm Christians and they all behave more reasonably than the Christian women I know.”

I’m inclined to agree with him. Although Craig is somewhat veiled about what specifically Christian women are unreasonable about, I’m going to guess that it has something to do with relationships. After all, Craig is a young, single, red-blooded heterosexual guy, surrounded by young women in the workplace, so there’s a good chance that he’s doing his share of flirting, dating, etc., and workplaces are rife with relationships anyway. Regardless of the case with Craig, I thought that I would take this opportunity to discuss the sanity of young, single, Christian women (hereafter YSCW), since I, and a number of people I know, have had experiences with YSCW in the past, all of which have resulted in disastrous situations and left us questioning their sanity.

So, for those who perhaps haven’t had the pleasure, what are the common experiences with YSCW? Honestly, nothing that’s distinctive from experiences with regular women, (dishonesty, infidelity, manipulation, etc.) but these experiences tend to occur much more frequently and much more egregiously than with regular women.

After a number of barstool discussions, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is something genuinely distinctive about Christianity that makes YSCW much more toxic to relationships. My thesis is that acceptance of female culpability for Original Sin juxtaposed with the projection of Christ onto men is the psychological/theological worm at the middle of this particularly sour apple.

Genesis 3 – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.

He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then Yahweh God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’”

Consider this passage from Genesis. The woman is the responsible party for eating the fruit initially, as Adam spares no time in passing the blame onto his wife. But it’s not as if she meant to disobey- after all, she was no intellectual match for the serpent. This passage has been used throughout history as a way to justify female repression, and it’s no surprise that the idea that women are 1) stupid and 2) inherently sinful have been accepted and absorbed into the developing psychology of women, especially in America where religion is much more a part of the general culture. By internalizing this concept, YSCW define themselves as inherently sinful, even more than men, but curiously less responsible for their sin then men, because they are so easily “tricked” into sinning. This results in an increased prevalence of actions typically considered “sin” by Christianity, but without the expected sense of responsibility for those actions.

Despite this lack of moral responsibility, YSCW often become YMCW, often very quickly. And just a quickly, YMCW become YSCW again. I’ve observed this effect time and time again among friends, and while consoling them, I’ve wondered why YSCW are often so dissatisfied with their new husbands. I think the following passage may help to explain it.

Ephesians 5 – “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

So in essence, for the YSCW, a potential husband is compared directly to Jesus Christ. And even though they’re mythical shoes, for someone who takes that myth literally, they’re mighty big to fill, especially since every man has his faults. What I suspect is that YSCW approach the most Christ-like man they can find, either expecting him or intending to “help” him become even more Christ-like, and then becoming quickly disappointed when marriage is less than the perfect “Christ and church” dichotomy they’ve expected. Sure, most women enter marriage with at least some ideas of how her husband can change for the better, but only YSCW have an impossible standard of perfection that the Bible says her husband should adhere to.

In addition, there's the element of circular self-justification. Often, YSCW will decide on a particular course of action, one which perhaps would be considered by some to be immoral, and then justify it post hoc by rationalizing that since they really wanted to do this particular thing, then God must have wanted them to do it. Therefore, if that's what God wanted for their lives, the morality of the situation is non-applicable. Obviously, this kind of logic can and is used to justify all number of actions which would seemingly be counter to the Christian worldview, including divorce.

Even when an action is committed which is accepted by the YSCW as immoral, it's just a quick step to beg forgiveness from God and receive redemption. This works because, in the Christian worldview, Christians cannot function as moral agents, and therefore are subject to the whims of their deity. Thus, lying or cheating to the YSCW have no reprecussions, since Jesus Christ paid for all sins already (this is the same kind of rationalization that births all kinds of Christian crime, but that's beside the issue).

Ultimately, of course, this is just armchair psychology from a decided amateur. I’m only going on the experiences of those I have known, and a bit of my own (though I never married a YSCW, fortunately). So this amounts to nothing more than conjecture based on a few anecdotal cases, right?

Well, it turns out that even though my explanations may be off-base, the observations of broken relationships among my friends are representative of an actual trend. George Barna, of the Barna Research Group, recently found that divorce rates of Christian marriages were significantly higher than Atheist marriages. And since these married and now divorced Christian women were (by definition) single at one time, it appears that our friend Craig may not be off-base in wondering about them.

In my experience, marriage to an atheist woman has been wonderful. Not perfect, mind you, but no marriage is, and fortunately I don't have to compare myself to Christ's perfection. Also, our arguments never focus around how we disagree on what "the will of God" may be. Any position I or my wife takes has to be based on logic and evidence. And to be quite honest, it's working quite well.

So what does everyone else think? Am I and my friends the only ones who have had bad experiences with YSCW? Are YSCW really that much worse than non-believing women? Is Barna's data on Christian divorce nothing but rubbish? Discuss.

Holiday songs : we're winning / An Atheist Manifesto

According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, we're winning the war of Christmas music. 23 out of the most popular 25 Christmas songs written in the 20th century are secular. Only "Little Drummer Boy" and "Carol Of The Bells" made the cut. They may have centuries over us, but we're doing a great job !


Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith", has written an Atheist Manifesto. Some extracts :

Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle. The obvious must be observed and re-observed and argued for.

(...)

We live in a world of unimaginable surprises—from the fusion energy that lights the sun to the genetic and evolutionary consequences of this light’s dancing for eons upon the Earth—and yet Paradise conforms to our most superficial concerns with all the fidelity of a Caribbean cruise. This is wondrously strange. If one didn’t know better, one would think that man, in his fear of losing all that he loves, had created heaven, along with its gatekeeper God, in his own image.

(...)

Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is—and, indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at all.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas is OUR holiday

Christmas is not Christian, and has never been. In fact, we can even go so far as to say that the celebration of Christmas is anti-Christian.

This is not a surprising statement to anyone who has the merest knowledge of history. Even December 25th is not Christian. Emperor Aurelius established it in the third century as the birthday of the Invincible Sun - Sol Invictus - and Christians stole the date in an attempt to co-opt the celebrations (which is appropriate for the pale Jewish imitation of the Sun Gods). This is where the idea of "Jesus' birthday" also came from, as traditionally Christians, always the worshippers of suffering and death, appropriately celebrated death dates, not birth dates.

Everything that is part of Christmas celebrations - Santa Claus and his legends, the feast, the family reunion, the mistletoe, the turkey, the eggnog, the gift-giving, and the good will towards all men, all originated in Saturnalia, Yule, and other ancient celebrations. There is absolutely nothing Christian in them, apart from the Nativity scene, but most of the elements in those (the baby god, stable, the three shepherds) were taken from Mithraism.

Finally, Christians have constantly opposed Christmas and its evolution into today's holiday. The Bible admonishes believers not to decorate trees and put gifts under them (Jeremiah 3:13, Jeremiah 10:3-4). Christmas was banned twice - once in Britain in the 17th century and once by the Puritains.

It is in fact commercialism that saved Christmas from Puritain depravity, by restoring its peaceful, material roots. But Christians even protested Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" because they thought it was crass, heretical and Pagan. In recent times, Christians have taken to claim it as their own, once again showing their non-stop attempt to steal other people's holidays, as well as the complete vacuity of their religion (no surprises there on any count).

So I think the conclusion is clear : Christmas is not a Christian holiday by any stretch of the imagination, if we take the historical approach. In fact, if anything, it is a Pagan holiday, because it comes from Pagan religions, and an atheistic holiday, because it traditionally celebrated the passage of winter, the return of the Sun, and the celebration of material goods (initially, red meat and wine).

However, I also contend that Christmas belongs to us not only historically but also morally.

Now look at this for a minute. What are the moral aspects of Christmas ? I think few people would argue with me if I choose : feasting, giving and receiving gifts, family - especially children - charity, and peace and good will towards all. Now let's look at each in turn.


* Feasting
Nothing in the Bible encourages feasting. There is a verse that encourages drinking, but only to dull your suffering (Proverbs 31:6-7). In fact, the Catholic Church made gluttony a "deadly sin". Christianity is definitely against "worldly" pleasures, and feasting is one of those. So this element goes against the spirit of Christianity.


* Gift-giving
The only thing the Bible has to say about material possessions is that they are bad unless they are used to glorify God. The character of "Jesus", an apocalyptic cult leader, advocated the surrender of material goods in favour of spiritual rewards (Matthew 6:19, Luke 12:33, John 6:27). The exchange of such goods for material rewards (such as feeling good) goes clearly against the spirit of "Jesus"' commandments as well as the rejection of worldly pleasure.


* Family, especially children
Once again, "Jesus" explicitly advocated against this value, urging people to break up their families (Luke 14:26, Matthew 19:29). Children are valued in the Bible, but only as examples of what a gullible mind should be like. There is nothing in the Bible that values children for who they are - in fact, there are quite harsh and deadly punishments for children who dare to express any rebellious feelings (including the famous tale of the children who were mauled by bears sent by God, because they insulted someone, in 2 Ki 2:23-24). So the Christmas attitude of cultivating children's dreams and imaginations is clearly anti-Christian.


* Charity
Jesus said that the poor would always be with us, and that his well-being was more important than helping them (Mark 14:7). The Bible also states that the less fortunate should drink their worries away (Proverbs 31:6-7). So while the right-wing nuts are often wrong about what the Bible says, in this case they are right - charity is not a Christian value. And the Bible, as I pointed out, advocates the abandonment of material goods, so why should we help others obtain them ?


* Peace and good will
Do I even need to explain why a religion whose fulfillment is the massacre of two-thirds of the world, does not value peace and good will to all men ? I have also written on why Christianity is the opposite of personal and social peace. Christianity's fruits are war, oppression, turmoil, and the religious objectification of others - the opposite of Christmas.


Generosity, abundance, family and peace are all secular values, not Christian values. Christmas is about material abundance and material comforts. Because of this, I think Christmas is our best advocate for secular values and materialism. Everyone can get behind Christmas. And that's the essence of what the rational life is all about. There's a moment in the movie "Wings of Desire" (a great atheist movie by the way) that always brings a tear to my eye, when Peter Falk gives this little monologue to an angel he can't see :

Here, to smoke, have coffee. And if you do it together it's fantastic. Or to draw: you know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line and together it's a good line. Or when your hands are cold, you rub them together, you see, that's good, that feels good! There's so many good things! But you're not here - I'm here. I wish you were here. I wish you could talk to me. 'Cause I'm a friend.


To me that represents the essence of the rational life right there ! You don't need to say anything more. Who needs to believe in all this tribal nonsense when you have LIFE ?

So the next time you meet a Christian, don't forget to tell them they are welcome to our holiday, and wish them a MERRY CHRISTMAS !

And what do I think about Falwell and the fundies fighting to enforce the name "Christmas" ? I'm flattered that they want to fight for our holiday, and want to make themselves useful for the first time in their lives, but they might want to think about getting actual jobs first.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is Christianity at War in the United States ?

http://www.religionnews.com/press02/PR112205.html

Sixty-four percent of the American people believe that religion is "under attack," according to a new poll released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The poll found that 53 percent of Americans likewise believe that religion as a whole is "losing its influence in American life."


This has been done to death on Freethought Radio, but you'd think that, if there was a war against Christianity, the US wouldn't have a fundie president... Churches wouldn't be getting government dole... religious schools and religious homeschooling wouldn't be government-sanctioned... the media wouldn't be showing those stupid masses every fucking Sunday...

Yea, need I say more ?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Question of the Day #16: Your Best Thinking

Do you ever find that there are certain abstract activities that help you think more clearly? For example, I usually do my best thinking when I've got a pad of paper in front of me or when I'm scupting something out of my kneeded rubber eraser. What helps you think?

Monday, December 12, 2005

The limp Christian attack against Christmas

First of all, I am not going to cover the greater issue of whether "Jesus is the reason for the season". I have an article coming up very soon on this topic. The short answer is : no. Not only is Christmas a Pagan and atheistic holiday, but the "Jesus" myth is at odds with the values of Christmas.

The latest news from our Christian cultural enemies in their unprovoked attack against Christmas : they are recycling 2003 research by one William J. Tighe, history professor, to "prove" that the Christians used December 25th before the Romans.

First of all, until the 4th century Christian sects could not decide when Jesus' birthday was - they set it on January 6th, the celebration of Osiris' birth, or in April, or in May. December 25th was never an issue until the Roman Empire created a universal celebration of Sol Invictus on December 25th. The Christians stole it, like they have stolen Pagan traditions, ceremonies and rituals ever since Chrisitanity started, and as they are still trying to do today with the Pagan traditions of Christmas. They are sacrilegous thieves and have always been.

And of course, why would the Old Testament prohibit celebration of Christmas if Christians started it ? It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out.

Second of all, who gives a shit ? The point of whether December 25th was used by the Romans first or the Christians first is completely irrelevant. The solstice was already celebrated as far as human history goes ! What relevance does Christianity have at all to the celebration of Christmas ? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I quote :

He points out that the ancient Roman religions had no winter solstice festival.


Can anyone tell me why the fuck someone would write something so obviously FALSE ? Do they think we're stupid ? Saturnalia started as early as 400 BCE, more than 800 years before the Christians decided to steal it. Apparently they expect that Christians will be so ignorant of the traditions of other religions that they would not know about Saturnalia. They are probably right.

Tighe's main argument is this : Christians started celebrating December 25th after the Romans established Sol Invictus, but Christians were trying to figure out "Jesus"' birthday before Sol Invictus was established, therefore the Christians probably celebrated December 25th before the Romans. This argument is stunningly stupid. For one thing, Christians celebrated death dates, not birth dates, so why would discussion of "Jesus"' birth date imply celebration ? Secondly, since when is discussing a possible holiday evidence that it is being celebrated ? If I discuss the birth of Aristotle, does that mean I am celebrating Aristotle's birthday ?

Describe the Christian war against Christmas in three words : sacrilegous, stupid... and stupid.

ID Meeting its Maker ? / Seed on ID


What moron designs an important tube to pass through an inflatable organ ?

There were many good articles written about "Intelligent Design" recently, and here are two of them. Unfortunately, both come from very stupid sources. First, everyone's favourite left-wing rag, the New York Times, has an optimistic assessment of the time left to Intelligent Design propaganda :

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

(...)

While intelligent design has hit obstacles among scientists, it has also failed to find a warm embrace at many evangelical Christian colleges. Even at conservative schools, scholars and theologians who were initially excited about intelligent design say they have come to find its arguments unconvincing. They, too, have been greatly swayed by the scientists at their own institutions and elsewhere who have examined intelligent design and found it insufficiently substantiated in comparison to evolution.


I'm surprised. The Templeton Foundation accepts any old bullshit about science and religion. That even they reject ID proves how inept its proponents are.

Talking about disreputable media, the completely useless magazine Seed, America's most superfluous yet self-important magazine, has an interview with Don Wise, the father of "Incompetent Design" (not to be confused with "Unintelligent Design" :

If you were to redesign things, how would you make design intelligent?
Well, for one thing I would put fewer teeth in our mouths. I would put fewer bones in our face, so that it could drain properly. I would straighten up the pelvis so we wouldn't have to have that bend. I would certainly take out the appendix so we don't have that problem and the tonsils, too.
And I did have one other. Some guy from Texas listed a number of things with this and he said, "Actually I would write more, but I have to go pee in Morse code, because some idiot designed my aging prostate."
Intelligent designers and, in fact, everybody from the creationists and so on back to the beginning of the last century used to talk about the wonderful design of the eye—which somehow has all your receptor cells behind a membrane curtain!
I mean, evolutionarily all of these things make sense but in terms of a reasonable, intelligent design? They're idiocy. So, the argument is there is no intelligence there in a lot of these things.


To this I would have to add that, if our body is designed, then this designer is so mind-bogglingly stupid that he created more than two pounds of muscles to move two little eyes around, instead of creating more eyes to fill that empty forehead of ours and save a lot of moving parts. He would fail any engineering test.

Don't miss my entry "Who wants to be a ghost ?", just below. Thanks !

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Who wants to be a ghost ?

When I read that the next God or Not Carnival topic was "Spiritual Beings (ghosts, angels, etc.)", my first reaction was - how can I possibly approach this topic ? What I write has absolutely no relation to such fantastic topics. I write about the concrete, the material universe, morality in the material, not about "spiritual beings" and such folderol.

Then I thought about my only experience in believing in the supernatural, when I was about seven or eight. After my grandfather died, I had a few days when I wasn't sure if he might continue to exist as a ghost. In my young and untrained mind, I imagined my grandfather floating around as a ghost. I thought this was extremely problematic - for one thing, I had major problems with the idea of someone potentially watching over everything I do. Just going to the bathroom or watching television became a source of anxiety. So I abandoned this belief, simply because I couldn't live that way. I simply had to stop believing in the possibility of ghosts.

This brings us to the #2 reason why I don't believe supernaturalists (including Christians) are honest in their beliefs. If I honestly believed that God, angels or ghosts could be watching over me, I would be paralyzed. Imagine that you knew your life was being broadcast on television 24 hours a day. Wouldn't you have some problems going to the bathroom, let alone have sex, take drugs, lie or commit crimes, as many Christians do ? Now imagine that the viewers decided of your eternal fate based on what they saw. Wouldn't that be the virtual equivalent of slavery ?

So the fact that Christians are able to live comfortable lives at all is proof that their belief is dishonest, let alone the fact that they commit what they should see as obvious evils. One possible resolution of this would be to say that Christians have no conscience, and while that would be an easy way of resolving the issue, I think it's rather uncharitable.

(and in case you're curious to know what the #1 reason is, it's "crying at funerals")

I would think belief in angels would be even worse. After all, angels are supposed to have a wholly supernatural perspective on human action, if you are a Christian. So you should feel even more anxious about angelic judgment than you should be about ghostly judgment. Now if we're talking about God, that's infinitely worse. God not only judges you, but it can kick your ass. Just imagine showing yourself having sex to your boss, and that's only an infinitesimal part of the shame a Christian would have if his belief was honest.

I also contend that such beliefs are disturbing in other ways, simply because believers center the universe around themselves. Like Christian belief, belief in supernaturalism is pure hedonism. People like the idea of having angels watch over them or to think that their dead relatives are still hanging around. By thinking in this way, however, believers ignore rather clear and inconvenient facts that a minute of critical thinking can bring up.

For example, who really wants to be a ghost ? Who wants to float around and not being able to communicate or interact with anything else but moronic TV psychics who can barely understand one letter at a time and exploit your pain for profit ? Sure, you can throw things around and make some ruckus (there are always preteens or teenagers around, but that's pure coincidence, right ?), but that's it. Now can you imagine living eternally in such a state ? Now that sounds like Hell to me.

What about angels ? If you follow the New Age beliefs about angels, their sole purpose is to serve and protect human beings. Does the notion of an entire kind of beings living in servitude to supernatural principles binding them to human beings, in total slavery, bother you at all ? Have you ever thought about that the last time you fiddled that "angelic amulet" or prayed in your head for help ?

Now if we're talking about the Christian angels, that's another thing entirely. Their existence revolves around war - of the supernatural and the natural kinds - or fawning around God. We can raise the same question here - why would anyone want to believe in such beings ? Why not simply believe in God ? Then again, the question also applies to God, so there's really no reason to reject only one and not the other. After all, the angels are supposed to be mere extensions of God's will. Why anyone would want to believe in any supernatural beings of this sort boggles the rational mind. Perhaps the Pagans and their representations of nature have it right, as far as superstitions go.

Either way, I think the conclusion is clear : the belief in supernaturalism is emotionally and morally bankrupt, in addition to being metaphysically, ontologically and scientifically bankrupt. I have not discussed metaphysics, ontology or science in this article, and there is a whole lot to discuss on the interaction between these domains and supernaturalism, enough to fill a dozen entries. However, I hope this has shed some light on the less explored area of emotional and moral credibility of supernaturalist beliefs.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Upcoming Hellbound Alleee shows



Our next show is Witnessing Nonbelief part 5, the last in our series. We're going to talk about various topics, such as where and how to evangelize, and how belief in God is devoid of hope.

On the live show, we're going to have Normal Bob Smith, as Aaron mentioned yesterday. So this should be interesting also.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Stuff from a TV preacher / US teens doped up


Do you like stuff from TV preachers ? I knew a site that had a lot of it, but it seems to be gone. However, I did find this flickr photoset that has a bunch of stuff from Robert Tilton. I love it !


In the "moral righteousness of atheism" category : UN Report: Teens In US More Likely To Use Drugs Than Teens In Europe. However the bad news don't fall only on the US this time :

Highlights from the conference included a report comparing use of alcohol and other drugs by youth in Europe with use by youth in the US. The New York Times reported on February 21, 2001 ("Study Finds Teenage Drug Use Higher In US Than In Europe") that "Forty- one percent of 10th graders in the United States had tried marijuana, compared with 17 percent of those in Europe. And 23 percent of the students in the United States had used other illicit drugs, compared with 6 percent of the Europeans."

(...)

The WHO also reported that alcohol is the number one killer of young men in Europe, according to new data from their Global Burden of Disease 2000 Study. The release notes that "One in four deaths of European men in the group aged 15-29 years is related to alcohol. In parts of eastern Europe, the figure is as high as one in three."

(...)

In Europe, the forms of drug used as a sedative are used three times as often as in the US. But in the US, the forms of benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and obesity disorders are used 10 times more often than in Europe.


As I've always said, I don't give a damn if you want to take drugs or not - alcohol, tobacco, heroin, whatever. But I can still say that taking drugs in excess is a negative social indicator. It means something about the amorality and helplessness in a society. American teens trapped in fundamentalism, and Eastern European teens trapped in statism, both express their despair in different drugs, that's all. The only solution to both is INDIVIDUALISM !


And don't miss my article "WorldNetDaily retards can't figure out rape", just below. Thanks !

WorldNetDaily retards can't figure out rape

It's official : the people at WorldNetDaily (sorry Harry Browne, it's not my fault if you associate with them) aren't mature enough to understand why rape is wrong. They have the intellectual level of a five year old. But then again, they are all right-wing Christians (once again, sorry Harry), so what do you expect ?

(...) [D]espite reading hundreds of missives featuring varying degrees of hysterics, it remains a mystery as to what grounds these rape mythomoralists have for objecting to rape in the first place.

(...)

The Judeo-Christian moral ethic is clear – rape is a sin, a willful pollution of a temple that rightly belongs to God.

(...)

And while "might makes right" is the true essence of atheist amorality, it is not exactly the most convincing means of attempting to assert the moral evil of the rapist.


For one thing, any Christian who does not understand how rape is wrong outside of his religious doctrines is retarded. I see no way to put this more nicely, and I mean it in a technical sense - they have not grown the empathy to understand that other human beings suffer. Perhaps this is why they need Christianity so much... but now you can say accurately that the writers at WorldNetDaily are retards.

(Note that I don't think empathy is a proper justification for "rape being immoral or not", only that it should be enough for anyone to take a generally correct stance. It's simple brain development.)

Another little problem with this boasting, is that the Bible does not in fact speak up against rape from a moral perspective. In fact, it does not speak about anything from a moral perspective, because that would require to examine human values and human life. In the Christian worldview, nothing is to be examined morally, as God's understanding is said to be wholly beyond human understanding, and man's only role is to obey. There is no morality involved, only orders.

This aside, there's another little problem : the Bible does not speak up against rape as such. In its Ten Commandments (all versions), it says nothing at all about rape, and in many cases it speaks in favour of rape (as for all the instances when giving away your daughters for rape is accepted, or the Old Testament law that a rape victim must marry her attacker). In the Bible, a raped virgin is worthless. There is no reason to believe that the god of the Bible thinks rape is evil. So the Christian case crumbles on that level alone.

There was no utilitarian justification for Christian sects to consider rape as anything but a nuisance (insofar as families could complain), so they kept it hush-hush for centuries until public opinion turned and considered rape a heinous crime. Only now, in recent decades, are Christian sects finally owing up to their dark history.

Another problem is that secular values clearly indicate that coercing other people to have sex with you breaks the virtue of non-coercion, on which I have already written extensively. Also, rape is widely rejected in Western civilization because it is a clear case of harm being inflicted to an innocent person. Finally, its illegal status is also obvious, since rape as a crime breaks the right of action (in that the raped individual is being coerced into sexual intercourse).

So this little dance of ignorance from our friends at WorldNetDaily won't do. The only ones who believe that "might makes right" are God believers, who claim that God has absolute power over all human beings, and can wipe them all out, simply because it has the might. Now that's amorality for you. I have never heard of any atheist who believes this principle - in fact, most atheists tend to be relativists or utilitarians, which is stupid, but very different from "might makes right".

In fact, the only people I know who use power as a standard of morality are followers of collectivist belief systems, like Christianity. Historically, Christianity has always assumed a role of moral nad political dictatorship when it was in power. Christians still attempt to use the social power they have left in the United States to dictate the value-expression of other people.

Their whole moral mindset is that "might (God's might, that is) creates and dictates right", and the subversion of individual values in one's own mind, so how could Christianity possibly be conductive to free value-expression in society ?

My recommendations to the ignorant editors at WorldNetDaily ? 1. Read your Bible and 2. get yourselves fired so you can be replaced by people with at least average intelligence and basic maturity.

If you want to tell the lunatic author of this ludicrous anti-atheist article exactly how you feel about his bigotry, comment on his blog Vox Popoli.

Normal Bob Smith Comes to Hellbound Alleee Live

Normal Bob Smith Comes to Hellbound Alleee Live

Normal Bob Smith, creator of the famed Jesus Dress Up magnets, will be on the Hellbound Alleee Live show this Sunday, December 11, at 2pm Eastern time. You can tune in via Freethought Radio or our Shoutcast stream.

Normal Bob Smith has been persecuted by multiple Christian groups for his art, he has been featured in the critically acclaimed documentary Bob Smith, USA, and his radio show, NoBS Radio, is broadcast on the Hellbound Alleee station. Normal Bob Smith also has a hilarious collection of hate mail correspondence on his website, and it's up to 246 pages as of this writing.

So be sure to tune in to the live broadcast this Sunday!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Whacko-Peiko is right / The Uncredible Hallq honours Goosing

Leonard "Whacko-Peiko" Peikoff is not always a raving lunatic. Sometimes he's right. This is one of those times.

Historically, people have always celebrated the winter solstice as the time when the days begin to lengthen, indicating the earth's return to life. Ancient Romans feasted and reveled during the festival of Saturnalia. Early Christians condemned these Roman celebrations -- they were waiting for the end of the world and had only scorn for earthly pleasures. By the fourth century, the pagans were worshipping the god of the sun on December 25, and the Christians came to a decision: if you can't stop 'em, join 'em. They claimed (contrary to known fact) that the date was Jesus' birthday, and usurped the solstice holiday for their Church...

(...)

Of course, the Puritans denounced Santa as the Anti-Christ, because he pushed Jesus to the background. Furthermore, Santa implicitly rejected the whole Christian ethics. He did not denounce the rich and demand that they give everything to the poor; on the contrary, he gave gifts to rich and poor children alike. Nor is Santa a champion of Christian mercy or unconditional love. On the contrary, he is for justice -- Santa gives only to good children, not to bad ones.

All the best customs of Christmas, from carols to trees to spectacular decorations, have their root in pagan ideas and practices. These customs were greatly amplified by American culture, as the product of reason, science, business, worldliness, and egoism, i.e., the pursuit of happiness.


We're definitely on the same page on that, Whacko-Peiko. We're on the good side of the War Against Christmas, despite some idiot atheists' attempt to fight against their own holiday.


The Uncredible Hallq has written an entry honouring Goosing the Antithesis' submission to Carnival of the Vanities #168 :

My pick: an entry on free will Goosing the Antithesis. His general conclusion is one with some issues, but I'll write about that later. For now, read it, there's some good points in there.


Some issues eh ? Everyone's a critic ! But seriously, thank you The Uncredible Hallq. (I seem to be getting a lot of recognition lately ! Good sign !)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Question of the Day #15: Memetics

Could there ever be a meme that defeats religious thinking? For example, could there ever be a meme that forces a Christian to recognize his own fallacious arguments, thus causing him to stop using them?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Addition to the blog subtitle

Please note the festive addition to our blog subtitle. A little message for the Christian assholes who are trying to steal yet another Pagan/secular holiday.

Raving Atheist AND Randists both morons

I've blasted Raving Atheist yesterday for being an anti-individualist, anti-reason moron. Today I'm the one being criticized for daring not to follow Objectivist dogma. Little hint fellows : I'm not an Objectivist, let alone a Randian cultist. As far as I'm concerned, Randists are the worst corruptors of reason that exist, but fortunately they have very little influence on anyone except themselves. Their leader Peikoff is a raving lunatic (not to be confused with the raving atheist).

I stand by my statement that Logical Structure of Objectivism is the best book ever written on morality, not anything written by Ayn Rand. If you don't like it, I have the world's smallest violin besides me, do you want to hear a tune ? Waaa wa waaa, you're all morons. I'm the only intelligent person left on this fucking planet.

Kansas Anti-ID Professor Beaten

Original Article

Douglas County sheriff’s deputies are investigating the reported beating of a Kansas University professor who gained recent notoriety for his Internet tirades against Christian fundamentalists.

Kansas University religious studies professor Paul Mirecki reported he was beaten by two men about 6:40 a.m. today on a roadside in rural Douglas County. In a series of interviews late this afternoon, Mirecki said the men who beat him were making references to the controversy that has propelled him into the headlines in recent weeks.

“I didn’t know them, but I’m sure they knew me,” he said.

Mirecki said he was driving to breakfast when he noticed the men tailgating him in a pickup truck.

“I just pulled over hoping they would pass, and then they pulled up real close behind,” he said. “They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out.”

He said the men beat him about the upper body with their fists, and he said he thinks they struck him with a metal object. He was treated and released at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

“I’m mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots,” he said.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Officials are classifying the case as an aggravated battery. They wouldn’t say exactly where the incident happened, citing the ongoing investigation

The sheriff’s department is looking for the suspects, described as two white males between ages 30 and 40, one wearing a red visor and wool gloves, and both wearing jeans. They were last seen in a large pickup truck.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 843-TIPS or the sheriff’s office at 841-0007.

Mirecki recently wrote online that he planned to teach intelligent design as mythology in an upcoming course. He wrote it would be a “nice slap” in the “big fat face” of fundamentalists.

The remarks caused an uproar, Mirecki apologized, and KU announced last week the class would be canceled.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shout Out

I would like to use today's post for a couple of shout outs. Recently, Francois Tremblay and I started a blog known as The Radical Libertarian. We currently have 5 writers for the blog, and more may join in the future. It is a blog that discusses political and philosophical issues from a Libertarian and rational individualist perspective, and being that it has some of the most radical positions in today's political spectrum, it is aptly named. So check it out. If you are an atheist, you will be intrigued and inspired by it's pro-individual, pro-science views.

The other shout out goes to the Hellbound Alleee show. Hellbound Alleee has two weekly shows, a one-hour recorded show, and a two-hour live show. Archived shows are available for download here, where you will find a wealth of relevant atheistic topics and a plethora of distinguished guest appearances, with names like David Eller, Zachary Moore, Normal Bob Smith, Matt Slick, Brendan Powell Smith, Derek Sansone, Jake Doelling, and even myself! To listen to the show, just hit the play button at the show's home page. You can also tune in at Freethought Radio, where the recorded show is on Saturdays and the live show is on Sundays. The live show features call in guests, contests, and a chatroom where listeners can discuss the show and talk with the hosts. There are many exciting upcoming guests, including David Mills, author of the bestselling book Atheist Universe, so be sure to tune in!

This concludes my shout out session.

Raving Atheist is a Raving Imbecile

No, I'm not going to start a comment war this time. I didn't tell them about this post and I'm not going to. But check out Raving Atheist's latest post against Objectivism, and the willfull ignorance in his comments. Unfortunately his blog seems to be offline intermittently, so I can't link to the entry any more, but it should be on top.

It seems like atheists demand tolerence, unless it's about other atheists who dare to speak up about moral or political issues. Then you can shit on them all you want. They wouldn't even treat someone who wants to read the Bible in this way !

My respect for Raving Atheist has suddently dropped from a hundred to zero. Why do idiots like this open their fucking mouths and remove all doubt ? I used to like his blog, dammit.

Atheist Deconversions ? / The Fake Bible

How many high-profile converts to Christianity used to actually be atheists, as opposed to weak or rebellious Christians ? The page Atheist Deconversion, by Brian Holtz, asks this question. He looks at well-known cases like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, and finds that their deconversion seems to have been driven more by pre-existing belief or ignorance of atheism, than from knowledge of the arguments. So while not all of them were Christians, they are certainly non-credible. Another interesting entry in this debate. Maybe I was wrong about the whole "no atheist ever converts", but not by much.


How much of the Bible is even more made up than the already made up parts ? A lot, according to Wikipedia. The whole chapter of John 21 is doubly made up. So, apparently, are Mark 16, John 21:15-19 and the parable of the adulteress, one of the most famous passages in the Gospels.

And to think that the rest of the Bible is just plain made up ! It's really sad that they have those doubly made up parts.

Don't miss my article on the role of morality in religion, just below. Thanks !

There's a New Guy in Town

Hi everybody. I've been invited to take part in this wonderfully thoughtful blog. I thought it best to simply introduce myself first. My name is Jake Doelling. (aka The Atheist Messiah aka boywonder aka Theo Doersing aka JDDoelling aka JDoe) That should do it for the alias'.

I have my own blog at http://www.godisforfishandsheep.blogspot.com called Think Outside the Church. I've only been blogging for a few months, but I've maintained a public nuisance for much longer.

Like Franc, I've never been a religious person. I've always been surrounded by religiousity, but I never inhaled.

I believe "activism" or whatever you want to label it is necessary in combating religion. If you've been a regular here for any length of time you will know why religion needs to be confronted and why it has such a foothold on people. I think we live at a wonderful time in history where we benefit from a better understanding of science and technology. We also live in a pivotal time in history where the ignorance from earlier times threatens to re-establish dominance if we are not careful. Also, with the technology possible to wipeout the Earth as we know it available, the stakes in this human race (if you like to think of it as a competition) are as high as they can get. We simply do not have the luxery of waiting patiently for religion and other major problems to go quietly into the night. I also feel the more I can do now might help in some small way towards making a few people's lives better. By helping to combat intolerance, maybe religion will lose its hold that much sooner; thereby causing less people to suffer.

I will start posting on a regular basis in January. Until then, I'll try to make an appearance or two. I'm looking forward to talking with everyone here.

The role of morality in religion

I've written a lot already on the intersection of morality and religion, including such topics as :
* the stages of normal moral development
* how morality develops and why Christianity goes against that development
* why Christianity cannot account for morality and why there is no morality in the subjectivist Christian worldview
* how "Christian morality" is nothing more than a projection of secular values on the religious
* why Euthyphro's Dilemma applies to the Christian worldview but not to realist worldviews
and so on.

I think I've pretty much tapped out the whole topic of moral development. In this entry, however, I would like to take a slightly different tack. I want to look at the role that morality serves as an appendage of religion and religious thought.

First of all, as I've established before, Christian pseudo-morality (more on this prefix later) is firmly located within the first stage, order-based morality (based on narrative-induced fear and obedience of parents). There are no moral principles because pseudo-morality is the product of divine subjectivism. This is what we observe in the Bible. The Ten Commandments (at least, the one set of Ten Commandments that modern Christians have chosen as the right one) are the most noted example, and fit perfectly within this framework. They do not appeal to a person's values or rationality, but to our fear of punishment, they derive their worth from the divine whim, and they include no moral context whatsoever, making them completely meaningless. Not to mention the threats in the Commandments themselves, Moses also gets the idea :

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
Exodus 20:20


No values here, but pure action-reaction morality with the carrot and the stick, with special emphasis on the (infinite divine) stick. Or as the writer of Proverbs aptly puts it :

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but [the morally deficient] despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7


The role of morality for the individual is basically to find the best way to live, through the expression of one's personal values. It provides us with the tools to be purposeful, to analyze our own actions and that of others, and to act accordingly.

In religions, cults and collectivist belief systems in general, pseudo-morality takes a wholly different role. Like any other part of such systems, it must serve the survival, enforcment and propagation of the belief system. All notions of individuality and values are rejected within this framework. There is not one single value to be found between the covers of the Bible, and plenty of insults and retribution for anyone who dares to get out of step.

Note that throughout this post I use the terms "morality" and "pseudo-morality". Morality is the study of real-life actions, actions that exist in a context, and since Christian absolutism does not admit context, it cannot possibly pertain to morality. Rather, it appears to be about morality, but rather applies to the subjectivist Christian worldview, just like the pseudo-historical stories in the Bible are not historical but mythical. It would be confusion to let people assume that Christianity has anything to do with morality, and while I have not done so in previous posts, I use the prefix "pseudo-" within this post to make the proper distinction. I hope this is not too distracting.

Now, the role of pseudo-morality in belief systems is twofold. First, pseudo-morality is used in order to promote the interest of the system and its institutions - this we can call "religious utilitarianism". Pseudo-moral precepts survive because they are advantageous to the institutions that enforce them. One example is the prohibition of abortion, which I discuss in "The Memetics of Abortion". I also intend to write more such articles in the future.

Another example are commandments 5 to 10 from the Ten Commandments - honoring the parental source of indoctrination and enforce order-based attitudes (commandment 5), refraining from killing (commandment 6) or kidnapping other believers (the eight commandment being actually about kidnapping and not theft in general), keeping social stability high by refraining from adultery (commandment 7) or even coveting (commandment 10), and making sure innocent believers are not unjustly accused (commandment 9). There is a limited interest for religious institutions to have semblance of justice amongst believers, given that a totally unjust and irrational society would quickly crumble. Thus, the freedom of the individual is maintained only insofar as such freedom is conductive to the belief system.

Secondly, pseudo-morality maintains the strength of belief in individual minds. This is also utilitarian, but differs from the religious utilitarianism I descibed in that it pertains specifically to religious observances, such as the Sabbath, prayer, how to use the name of the god, and so on. Examples of this are given in the first four commandments - no worshipping of other gods (commandment 1) and no worship of idols (commandment 2), both forbidding the exercise of any other belief system, and the establishment of rituals in order to keep religion in people's minds (commandments 3 and 4).

A further indication of the utilitarian nature of the Ten Commandments, and Christian pseudo-morality in general, is that absolutist principles which are closer to the truth, but less desirable in memetic terms, are not listed. For example, the Ten Commandments, or the Bible for that matter, do not prohibit slavery, rape, child beating, classism or racism, capital punishment, or the concentration or abuse of power, all things which are highly devalued in Western civilization (while most of these are, in fact, encouraged in the Bible).

And depending on whether you consider the Ten Commandments as applying only to believers or not, you may also count genocide and war (which are both highly encouraged in the Bible) to be part of this list.

So we know that Christian morality is utilitarian for four main reasons :

1. Christianity is a successful meme complex based on belief, therefore its pseudo-morality must serve belief propagation, which is to say that it is utilitarian relative to the meme complex.
2. Christian pseudo-moral rules change because they adaptat to social conditions, not because new facts arise. We observe this both historically (in the past changes to what is accepted and what is not) and between modern communities (in the great diversity of sects that exist today in different parts of the world).
3. Christian pseudo-moral rules are clearly utilitarian in nature.
4. Pseudo-moral rules which are superior to the Christian ones, but are not utilitarian in nature, are not present.

We have already talked about point 3 and 4, but point 2 is also interesting. How, therefore, do Christians explain these changes ? I have already discussed the memetic mechanism of doctrine-belief independence. Christians justify their lack of adherence to Biblical rules by excuses such as "Jesus rescinded those rules" (in defiance of Matthew 5:17), "that only applied to those times, now it's different", or "those are ceremonial rules". In essence, any principle that is rejected today counts as "a rule for those times" or "a ceremonial rule", and those that are still observed are the good ones. There can be no consistent standard to distinguish the two because the standard of distinction is purely utilitarian.

I can already hear the objections from here : "doesn't secular morality follow the same pattern ?". The answer is, yes and no. Yes, at the second - "natural" - stage, as social conditions do influence our education and the input we receive from the media and people around us. No, at the third - "rational" - stage, where social conditions are only a modifier on our evaluations, not a determinant factor. In short, social conditions determine what we can or cannot do, they limit the expression of our own personal values, but they do not change the nature of values. Social conditions do not change facts, but they dictate which facts are accepted, which values are permitted, and which are not.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Question of the Day #14: Irrational Entertainment?

Sometimes when I watch TV, I find myself picking and choosing which irrational plot devices I allow myself to buy and which ones I don't. For example, I don't object to talking cartoon animals, but I can't stand spontaneous Disney singing.

To what degree are you able to immerse yourself in the movie universe, and why do you except certain irrational story devices over others? Why do you suppose we make these exceptions?

As always, feel free to comment.

Bringing The Funny

I promise not to spam this every week. I just figured you guys might appreciate today's comic...

http://www.infidelguy.com/members/Neil/comics/13.html


And a classic...

http://www.infidelguy.com/members/Neil/comics/5.html

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Upcoming Hellbound Alleee shows


Upcoming shows this weekend on Hellbound Alleee. The recorded show will not be available before Sunday evening - due to a scheduling problem with Aaron's guest. It will be Aaron Kinney's guest show, and he'll be talking to a Calvinist. I don't have his name yet.

On the live show this Sunday (starting at 2PM EST), we're going to talk about the "Scales of Doubt" Quiz, and of course have our weird music, atheist news and Moment in Obscenity as usual. We may also have a special guest - otherwise we'll have Aaron on to talk briefly about the Finley family's turn on Wifeswap. Come talk with us in the chat room !

Friday, December 02, 2005

The spike / Top 10 signs you are a Christian

Scientology is great. I believe that body thetans make up my body, that Xenu implanted them with engrams millions of years ago by blowing them up in volcanoes and that going up the Bridge and through the OT levels will free me from my BT prison and let me use my full thetan powers over MEST (Matter Energy Space and Time).

I, for one, welcome our new Scientologist overlords.


From Top Ten Signs You Are a Christian :

10. You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9. You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created directly from dirt.

8. You laugh at polytheists, but have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7. Your face turns purple when you hear the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua", including women, children and trees!

6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and ascended into the sky.

5. You are willing to spend your life looking for loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing the Earth is a few generations old.

4. You believe the entire population of this planet with the exception of those that share your beliefs -- though excluding those in rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving".

3. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor and speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2. You define 0.1% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence prayer works. And you think the remaining 99.9% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1. You actually know alot less than atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.


Check out my article on the memetics of abortion, just below. Thanks !

The Memetics of Abortion

Abortion is selected against.


1. How it applies to the Christian memeplex.

Abortions by Christians reduces the number of babies born out of Christian mothers. Christianity depends heavily on parentally brainwashed children for its growth. Therefore, abortion must be heavily selected against. That much is pretty obvious, and that is what we observe - abortion is selected against in most sects of modern Christianity. Only the sects that heavily depend on the support of progressive communities support abortion.


2a. Lack of Biblical support.

In the Bible, the question of abortion was not considered generally relevant. For one thing, life was considered to begin at birth, not at conception, since breathing was considered the standard for life ("breath of life"). Infanticide is promoted by the Bible for ritualistic purposes (see for example Genesis 22:1-14, Judges 11:34-40 and Exodus 13:1-2), as well as discouraged as sinful outside of that context (once again for obvious memetic reasons), but this is not relevant to abortion per se.

Perhaps the only clear example of abortion we have is positive, as God permits himself to kill foetuses in Hosea 13:16 ("their women with child shall be ripped up"). But this kind of slaughter is only used in reference to either war against foreign tribes or wholesale divine apocalypse.


2b. Lack of rational support.

Miscarriage is a natural process. Depending on the age of the mother, misacarriages can occur in 15 to 50 percent of pregnancies, according to Wikipedia.

Miscarriages are also called "spontaneous abortions". But if God created them, then they are abortions on the same level than the actual medical procedure of abortion. So here the Christian loses as well, as he is condemning something that God already created through nature.

There is no rational reason to see abortion as morally negative, or even generally morally negative. Abortion can spare women of the burden of raising an unwanted child, and in more extreme cases like rape, permanent psychological trauma. Abortion, therefore, can be justified by the virtue of responsibility - that one should take responsibility for accepting or refusing to bring a child into the world. It is also part of the expression of sexual freedom, which is to say sexuality without children, which is selected against both because it entails less children and because it promotes physical pleasure.

Note that I said "morally negative", and that this is not a political discussion.


3. Conclusion.

Even though abortion is not an issue in the Bible, Christians heavily select against it for obvious memetic reasons. Furthermore, abortion is generally argued against on the basis of moral or esthetic disgust, which is also an indication of neurosis. This promotes the belief that natural is repugnant (a major thread in Christian thought), like the neurotic rules about menstruations in the Bible.

Abortion is an issue rather like public prayer, in that neither is much of an issue in the Bible (in fact, the Bible comes out against the Christian position on both), but has become a big issue in modern times due to the change of context brought about by scientific or social advancements.

Write in the comments if you think I've omitted something, and I'll add it to this entry.