Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Friday, September 30, 2005

Geriniol is Opiate of the Masses, dixit Dawkins

Geriniol is the most dangerous drug in the world, according to Dawkins. Can you guess what it is ? Here are some clues/quotes :

"Gerin oil (or Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of characteristic symptoms, often of an antisocial or self- damaging nature. If administered chronically in childhood, Gerin oil can permanently modify the brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which have proved very hard to treat. The four doomed flights of 11th September were, in a very real sense, Gerin oil trips: all 19 of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time. Historically, Geriniol intoxication was responsible for atrocities such as the Salem witch hunts and the massacres of native South Americans by conquistadores. Gerin oil fuelled most of the wars of the European middle ages and, in more recent times, the carnage that attended the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and, on a smaller scale, Ireland."

"Strong doses of Geriniol can also lead to "bad trips," in which the user can suffer morbid delusions and fears, notably fears of being tortured, not in the real world but in a postmortem fantasy world. Bad trips of this kind are bound up with a punishment culture which is as characteristic of this drug as the obsessive fear of sexuality already noted. The punishment culture fostered by Gerin oil culminates in the sinister drug-induced fantasy of "allo-punishment"—the belief that individuals can and should be punished for the wrongdoings of others (known on the in-group grapevine as "redemption")."

"You might think that such a potentially dangerous and addictive drug would top the list of proscribed substances, with exemplary sentences handed out for trafficking in it. But no, it is readily obtainable anywhere in the world and you don't even need a prescription. Professional pushers are numerous, and organised in hierarchical cartels, openly trading on street corners and even in purpose-made buildings. Some of these cartels are adept at parting clients from their money. Their "godfathers" occupy influential positions in high places, and they have the ear of presidents and prime ministers. Governments don't just turn a blind eye to the trade, they grant it tax-exempt status. Worse, they subsidise schools with the specific intention of getting children hooked."


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Atheist Film Festival

Since there seems to be a dearth of comments, I'm going to try to stimulate some conversation...

You are asked to contribute to an upcoming Atheist Film Festival. The following schedule has been suggested :

OPENING - Monty Python : The Life of Brian
The God Who Wasn't There
Monty Python : The Meaning of Life
Inherit the Wind
Wings of Desire
Planet of the Apes
The Seventh Seal

Would you disagree with any of these choices ? What other suggestions would you submit ?

I have excluded the movie "Blasphemy" because, although it is very atheistic, it is not of a high enough quality to be in a festival. I think quality should be a factor in your suggestions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

Scientists finally "discovered" what we've always been saying...,,2-1798944,00.html

"RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”"

For those of you who still hold to Americanist bullshit, I got an entire page full of data for you :

Revised Science Textbooks for Christians

Franc's " Codifying my secular worldview"

I appreciated Franc’s blog where he outlined his philosophy. What was immediately obvious was where he placed his adherence to materialism in the hierarchy. Franc has shown that he does not start with a naturalistic presupposition. Instead Franc points out an axiomatic concept – that of existence. This concept is being made explicit from the outset just as Rene Descartes attempted to make consciousness his starting point.

Franc is not arbitrarily picking the concept existence at whim. In objectivist fashion Franc’s existence axiom is grounded in a “pre-conceptual” or lower level form of cognition that is the result of an automatic causal process. The existence axiom does not rest upon inference from previous knowledge. It rests upon direct perception and pre-conceptual cognition which is later made an explicit conceptual axiom.

The form in which we perceive things may be relative to the means but not subjective. Also, since the form of perception is pre-conceptual there is no appeal to true or false because this means of cognition is non-propositional. The concepts of truth or falsehood only have meaning in how close our concepts match reality. The perception of existence and identity are matters of discrimination of an object from its background.

If this is true than any form of perception is permissible. Bats use a form of perception called echolocation. This form of perception is similar to a strobe light in a dance club. If a strobe flashes quickly enough it can actually come close to approximating our own visual experience. But no matter what form perception takes there is a pre-conceptual, non-inferential justification that takes place. Existence, Identity and consciousness are all justified implicit axioms (due to their grounding in perception) and later made conceptually explicit via a consciousness equipped to do so.

Those of us who adhere to this type of philosophy do not start with a naturalistic presupposition. Instead the view that there is only nature or matter is a much later concept in the hierarchy of knowledge. This is also why objectivist philosophy does not start by saying that no god exists. Knowledge is a systematic unraveling of sense data and the discrimination of existents from other existents. An objective philosophy sidesteps the naturalist presupposition by grounding knowledge first and then drawing conclusions accordingly.

An objection that can be raised in what I have written above would be that I am presupposing or using the very system described. The point of explaining conceptual axioms and the purpose of the senses is not to argue for them or to show that they are true. The purpose of this argument is to show that they are implicit perceptual axioms and identify their proper role in obtaining knowledge. This is not a “proof." It is a validation that they are the bases of cognition and are utilized by all.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Out of Respect…

I told Paul Manata that I would get around to backing up my quote-mining accusation in a month or so, and then I left on a vacation over the weekend. When I returned, I found out that my good friend DUB had decided to write a little about the recent interaction between Paul and I at his blog, Out of Respect...

Now there's three posts in total relating to this issue, and they should be read in this order: Pressing the Antithesis Goose Part 1, Pressing the Antithesis Goose Part 2, and A Veneer of Defense.

DUB first clarifies the differences between a religion, a philosophy, and a scientific theory. Then DUB explains why Manata is wrong, the silliness of Manata criticizing my spelling in comments posts, and the hypocrisy --and even greater silliness-- of Manata not using a spellchecker for his blog posts (hey even I use spellchecker for my blog posts).

DUB also notes the over-the-top use of insulting language in Manata's posts. It really does put people off, it makes Manata look immature and insecure to say the least, and it discourages atheists from wanting to interact with him. I was already growing a thick skin from Manata's liberal ad-hominem, but reading DUB's posts woke me up a bit, and made me think "Wow, Manata really IS an asshole!"

DUB also correctly points out that I've insulted Manata. I partially regret doing so, only because it makes me look bad and makes me feel like I've compromised my morals. I don't like being dragged down to Manata's level, but it seems to happen every time I interact with him. Manata's insults are so numerous that it becomes almost impossible to not insult him back at some point. I've never had this kind of insulting and hostile communication with any other Christian ever. Manata brings out the worst in me, because he constantly displays the worst in himself. The less I interact with Manata, the more time I have to interact with real Christians (whoops did I just say that?), and the better I feel.

Anyway, here is the summary: Manata quote-mined and I called him on it. He wrote three insulting and delusional posts about me in response to my accusation, without even knowing what "quote mining" is. I exposed his ignorance, and then he threw down the gauntlet demanding me to prove that he quote mined. I told him I would get around to it in a month. DUB lended a helping hand, and wrote a few powerful critiques, which exposed Manata's sloppy thinking and hypocrisy, and proved that he quote mined. But this is good news for Manata, because can just suffer the embarrassment now and get it over with, and go back to the Puritan Boards where he belongs, arguing about random Bible passages with his fellow cultists.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Debate conclusion : Christians are our cultural enemies

This is part of my debate conclusion against Christian apologist G. Brady Lenardos. You can read the full conclusion, as well as the rest of the debate, on his debate page or on my message board.


Not only does the presuppositionalist emperor have no clothes, but he is a shriveled, dirty shadow of a man, with the despicable mind of a tyrant.

Christians are offensive because they do everything they possibly can to add the label “God” to everything good done by human beings. But by doing so, they degrade the efforts and values of the people who do that good. To the mountain of knowledge presented to us by the naturalist, scientific study of reality, the presuppositionalist can only bleat : “you need God to say that !”. Does he present actual discoveries ? No, that would actually take effort. Claiming victory for a preposterous and incoherent belief by default is much easier.

The scientist stands on the shoulders of giants – the Bacons, the Newtons, the Galileos, the Darwins, the Einsteins. The Christian is perched on one single book of tribal myths, and can but throw stones and do his best to spit at the peaks of human accomplishment. By doing so, he mostly splashes himself.

The Christian worldview is a bleak worldview. For a belief system supposedly comforting to befuddled human beings, it is singularly nihilistic. Christianity offers the human being a reality where purpose resides in an unchangeable, undecipherable divine will, meaning and value pounded to the ground by absolutism, hope does not exist except as a literal deus ex machina, morality and rationality are subjective to divine fiat, all men are corrupt and evil from the get-go, and man’s ideal states – in both the Adam and Eve myth and the description of Heaven – are those of ignorant, apathetic puppets.

What does Christianity have to offer to any sane individual ? Apart from perhaps assuaging guilt for his crimes, and permitting him to live a dishonest, dissolute life ? The hope of an afterlife as a heavenly puppet, with one’s loved ones roasting below ? Or maybe the assurance of being special and being able to pretend to have all the answers, ignoring all these inconvenient facts ? Probably the latter.

At present, due to the emergence of individual freedom in the Western world and its repercussions around the world, we are caught in a cultural war. Christianity and Islam – two campfire superstitions used to justify war and racism – have achieved world dominance. They both stand squarely against natural and Western values – material gain, romantic love and sexuality, equality, tolerance and respect, the importance of life – as well as our most noble and venerable institutions – the discovery and application of scientific principles, peaceful trading and commercialism, as well as acting and being judged based on one’s values, even if we disagree with each other on what the best values are.

Mr. Lenardos has made his choice to fight for religious collectivism and against the expression of individual values. As an individualist, I concede his freedom to make that choice, and to bear the consequences in his own heart. But those of you who read this debate, saw the arguments, and now go back to your daily lives, should examine whether this is the position you wish to continue to take. The epistemic freedom you take for granted – freedom of thought, moral autonomy, and non-religious knowledge – and the values you hold – honesty, justice, love, peace, purpose, pride, to cherish life and its truths – are not to be found in Mr. Lenardos’ world, or the bleak world of Christianity.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The virtue of non-coercion

Continuing my entries on morality, I will now examine the virtue of non-coercion. It seems that Christians and relativists both think that somehow the clear and obvious evil of genocide somehow proves their point that secular morality is fuzzy. This is very strange.

But of course, to be able to even have a case, they have to argue for a corrupt ideology such as cultural relativism. “The Germans thought it was okay”, they say, ignoring the vast masses of Germans who complained about Nazi policies and were stuffed in concentration camps, “therefore it was moral for them !”. Cultural relativism is a disgusting belief, because it implies that one of the most noble things any individual can do – civil disobedience – is automatically evil. Have any of these cultural relativists booed Schindler’s List or other inspiring tales of civil disobedience ? Or are they just hypocrites ?

Cultural relativism is false because the truth of any principle does not depend on one’s culture, race or language. The law of gravity is in force for everyone, regardless of who they are. Its truth is objective and measurable. Likewise, moral knowledge, as a subset of knowledge in general, is not cultural. The laws of nature and of social life do not change. The society we live in does change, and that influences our decisions and judgments (as all moral judgments are necessarily contextual, as for any other form of knowledge), but our needs remain the same.

So the Christian and the relativist cannot pin cultural relativism on the moral realist, and thus their case cannot get off the ground. Rather, it is their own ideologies which suffer from this flaw.

How, therefore, can we justify non-coercion from a realist standpoint ? Non-coercion is not a value (an object pursued or kept) but rather a virtue (a mental habit favourable to moral action). More specifically, as defined by Kelley, it is “the commitment not to seek values by initiating physical force against others”. As a virtue, we must show that using it as a guideline makes one a better moral agent overall. To do this, we must show that our needs in some way depend on using the virtue, and hopefully few reasons not to use it.

Non-coercion is especially important in the following moral areas :

* I need other people to be productive and rational so they can help me fulfill my values.
* I need to be peaceful with others so they stay peaceful towards me.
* I need to cooperate with other people in order to effect my values, and I need to cultivate the skills and reasoning necessary for effective cooperation.
* I need to live in a society where individual values are respected.

The last point is a political one, but if one refuses to acknowledge the virtue of non-coercion, one will also not acknowledge the necessity of a peaceful and classless society. One follows from the other.

Even if we look at it as a third party, we should still desire objectively for coercion to be eliminated. The fact that I respect another person’s values also means that I will not desire him or her to be attacked in the name of a cultural tradition or agreement. Even if I have no empathy or way to relate to the victims of, say, a mass murder, I still prefer to live in a universe where their values are fulfilled instead of snuffed out, if only because their values helped fulfill mine.

I see few reasons to set aside the virtue of non-coercion. I can imagine, for example, a scenario where you may want to slap or temporarily restrain a drunken friend to try to stop him from doing something he might regret later. But while it’s important to acknowledge these cases, they are not nearly of the same order of magnitude as the needs I listed above. Also, I am in favour of prudent predation, but I do not consider prudent predation as breaking the virtue of non-coercion.

Let me quote David Kelley from the wonderful Logical Structure of Objectivism on the virtue of non-coercion :

(…) the values we obtain from others are wealth, knowledge and visibility (…) [and] others possess these values only if they act on the basis of reason to acquire or maintain them.As we noted in discussing existential independence, these values are all created by production or by the rational, independent cultivation of personal traits, and even inherited wealth is only possessed for any length of time by those who apply reason to maintain it. These values do not appear in nature, and they cannot be produced in any quantity by the sort of animal labor a slave can be induced to provide.

Of course, as any other moral judgment, it is a contextual matter. But the needs I listed are true in all social contexts. The life of the brute is not desirable at any time. Once again quoting Kelley :

The context of discussion in this chapter is the life of the individual in society. To a certain extent, the very idea of succeeding in life as a dictator or aristocrat depends on a wider context: the structure of society. The individual has little control in immediate terms over his social structure: for instance, it would be foolish to seek to become an aristocratic ruler in modern America. One cannot hope to be an aristocratic or dictatorial ruler without endorsing aristocracy and dictatorship, as against a free society. Yet why would one trade the fruits of the industrial revolution for the mass poverty and short, dangerous life that came before it. We now have ample evidence that even an aristocrat of the previous age was less able to live a long, happy, enriched life than the average talented person today. And were such a system to exist, it is highly unlikely one would have any chance of doing so well as an aristocrat.

In the modern context, dictatorships show a similar sort of pattern. Their economic failings are well known, but consider the life of the leader: Even a relatively long-lived dictator such as a Stalin lived a life of distrust, paranoia, threats, and insecurity. And for every Stalin or Mao who survives over the long term, there are many more Trotskys who do not. There is nothing, then, to recommend the quest for brute power as a mode of life.

To end this post, I will state, as I stated before, that the Christian assumption of God is mentally deficient. Anyone who needs Christianity to know that hurting other people is generally not a good thing, is an imbecile who has not grown up to respect other people. Perhaps the overwhelming percentage of Christians in prisons proves that Christians do not pursue the value of non-coercion as much as they should.

Both Christianity and relativism fail to account for the basic moral assumptions we all make. Only forms of moral realism can do this.

Ultimate Christian Wrestling

Step 1: Visit Ultimate Christian Wrestling.

Step 2: Observe this image:
Choke-holds for Jesus!

Step 3: Encourage Manata to embrace his destiny as the Ultimate Christian Warrior, and join the Ultimate Christian Wrestling team. "Reap the whirlwind!"

Manata Ja Ja Redux

Manata is at it again:

I've applied a rear naked choke hold to Aaron Kinney (see the two posts below this one). He's tapped out and now passed out.

Actually, I got sick of his insulting behavior before he started posting about me obsessively. I guess he misses the attention. Well maybe I'll give him some. Now it's time for me to write a "devastating critique," and show that Manata shouldn't play with adults, as he might get hurt. Observe Manata's total oblivion:

He accused me of "quote mining," apparently forgetting that he's the one who asked me for quotes!I think he's upset because all my sources were from atheists and evolutionists.

To borrow a phrase from myself, "WTF?" He doesn't know what quote mining is! He couldn't have made it any more obvious. And all this time, he's talking about how he's whooping my intellectual ass. This, my friends, is irony. Oh, the irony. Now I will quote from the evil, secular Wikipedia:

Quote mining is the practice of compiling quotes from large volumes of literature or spoken word. The term is used derogatorily to accuse the "quote miner" of cherry picking and misquotation, where favorable positions are amplified or falsely suggested, and unfavorable positions in the same text are excluded or otherwise obscured.

The term is particularly used by proponents of the theory of evolution to denounce proponents of creationism, because creationists sometimes present long lists of quotes of mainstream scientists who allegedly acknowledge their criticisms.

The expression is also sometimes used in a slightly weaker sense, merely meaning that a quote is being used to support an idea that the original author rejects. In this second case, even a quote which is accurate can be considered a mined quote.

Manata went on for three posts, all proud of himself and finally feeling intellectually adequate, until I ruined his bliss and exposed his ignorance. He didn't understand my criticism, and he spent three posts attacking the wrong thing, gloating about how he was vanquishing me with his intellectual superiority. Ironically, during this time, he was burying himself deeper by continuing his quote mining for all three posts. Whoops!

He tries to equate ancient materialism with evolution with one quote... What is this guy doing? He even went so far as to change his song. At first, he called evolution a religion, but now it seems he's calling evolution an ancient philosophy. Quite a big difference there. Which one is it Paul? I'm convinced now that religion is a mental disorder (just kidding, I was convinced of that long ago). With post titles like "Not Ready to Let 'em up From The Mat Yet..." I got to wonder, who's he wrestling?

Anyway, Manata thinks he's standing on top of the mountain waving his sword and beating his chest in victory. What he doesn't know is that the sword he waves is paper and the real warriors are fighting in the valley below.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why Christians cannot account for morality

There are many reasons why Christianity is immoral, amoral, disgusting, and does not pertain to morality at all. However, I want to focus specifically on accounting for the existence of morality. Two specific points : moral autonomy and basic assumptions.

1. As much as presuppositionalists rant against moral autonomy and freethought, we are all morally autonomous - at least, every single person able to read this blog and understand it. Ironically, we simply have no choice in this matter. Whatever standard of morality we follow, was chosen on the basis of one's values. When the Christian asks us to surrender our moral autonomy to follow Christian doctrines, he is asking for a contradiction. To follow Christianity itself, or to continue to follow it (in the cases of childhood brainwashing) is a choice.

Christianity, then, is inscribed within a larger moral context, of which it is but one little subset. CHRISTIANITY CANNOT BE THE "FIRST CAUSE" OF MORALITY. Insofar as the Christian must, then, borrow from our secular worldviews in order to make the decision of following his religion, he is contradicting himself, and cannot account for that decision by using Christianity. Thus Christianity cannot, and necessarily so because it is a religion and not a necessity, account for its own moral validity.

The Christian decides to surrender his will on the basis of his corrupt values of submission, sacrifice, faith and opposition to the natural - just like the atheist decides to affirm his will on the basis of his own values of rationality, honesty and support for the natural. And all these values can be rationally evaluated, putting the action of "following Christianity and sacrificing some of one's values" on an inferior moral ground to "following one's personal values fully".

Of course, the presuppositionalist attempts to deny moral autonomy because to do so automatically puts Christianity on such inferior moral ground. As for all collectivism, Christianity is counter to the individual, therefore sacrifice must be glorified in itself, beyond moral autonomy itself, in a higher realm of thought or ontology (the latter, in the case of God and so-called "divine morality").

2. Christianity cannot account for the most obvious natural-moral assumptions we hold. Assumptions such as :

* that genocide is evil.
* that we are not guilty for the crimes of our ancestors, and born evil.
* that the worth of a man is not based on his beliefs, but on his actions.

Each of these basic assumptions is contradicted by fundamental Christian beliefs. The assumption that genocide is evil, is contradicted by the Flood, the Plagues, and the Old Testament genocides are ordained by a perfectly good god. The assumption that we are not guilty of our ancestors' crimes (and by extension, that we are separate individuals with separate actions) is contradicted by original sin. And the assumption that the worth of a man is based on his actions is contradicted by the standard of faith for salvation.

In each case, to affirm the obvious natural-moral assumption is to deny the truth of Christianity. These are all direct contradictions and there is no wiggling room for the Christian. So either the Christian rejects natural morality, which is absurd, or he keeps the contradiction, which is dishonest, or he rejects Christianity, which is the most reasonable position to take.

3. There are many stages of morality. The first kind is order-based morality : the parents or teachers give orders, and we obey. This is a necessary stage in our development : pretty simple, so I don't need to explain it. The second stage is natural morality.

Where does natural morality come from ? Part of it comes from biological evolution, as our attitudes and feelings are initially set because of evolutionary goals. Another part of it comes from the common observations we make as we grow up, and our process of maturation - our recognition that other minds exist, and that those minds have their own values, and later in life as a recognition of the needs of living in society together. We got them from the loving relationship we had with our parents, and later in life from the trust and love we have for other people. We get them still from our yearning for peace and plenty in ourselves, our family, our society, our world. All of these things are natural and don't require a religion or doctrine. Teenage rebellion is also in this category, as an affirmation of one's independence and a reaction to the previous order-based morality.

Natural morality gives us the independence, love of peace, honesty and reason we need to "graduate" to the next stage, which is rational morality. This third stage is based on the recognition that human actions have causal, measurable effects that can be used to evaluate our actions. Some of these are already present at earlier stages - for example, we learn pretty quickly that we must eat, and that not eating is bad, although we may not completely understand the whole process. But to follow rational morality is to explicitly understand the causal links between our actions and their effects, through both science and our observations of life in society.

There are four basic types of values in rational morality : physical values, spiritual (mental) values, social values and political values. There are also many virtues such as purpose, honesty, rationality, benevolence, non-coercion, Trader Principle, and so on.

Are there further stages of morality ? I think so. In my opinion, a further stage would be to be able to model social institutions and even human nature itself, with the aims of using this as a springboard for higher forms of thought. But for the moment this resides more in the realm of science-fiction.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The "value of life"

Values do pertain to "life" - by definition - but there is no such thing as "the value of life". Life is a prerequisite for ANY discussion of value or morality. We can no more ask why we value life (or death) than we can ask why we use logic. We have no choice but to use logic and we have no choice but to be alive. There is no such thing as "being dead", and there is no "choice", therefore no value and no moral judgment, attached to life.

The Christian, on the other hand, is stuck with life as a choice, because he believes there is more than biological life. So why does the Christian "choose life" (i.e. to be alive) ? It is because of the afterlife belief itself that the Christian is stuck with an intractable problem. He cannot use the same standard as he believes in an afterlife, and whatever theistic standard he uses to validate it has to be circular, because all theistic standards are circular (validity of the Bible, personal revelation, personal experience, evidential theology).

This does not mean that, as Gene Cook tried to argue with me on his message board, that suicide should always be encouraged, or that we should not have this or that value. These are moral issues, and life itself is not a moral issue, so we cannot answer one by using the other. We choose to value this or that part of life, or to encourage our friends to commit or not to commit suicide, but once again we do not choose to be alive or dead.

This conclusion, however, also applies to relativists who ask us to justify our basic adherence to life-affirming principles as objective. Our values are necessarily life-affirming because that is by definition all that we can have needs (and ergo, values) about. So in saying this, the relativist is in fact saying nothing at all. It is not the fact that we value something about life, but rather what we value most in life, that should surprise us.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Aaron Kinney @ The Atheist Hour: Aftermath

My guest appearance on Gene Cook’s radio show, The Atheist Hour, has just finished. I appreciate Gene having me on his show, I appreciate the questions that the callers had, and I enjoyed the dialogue. I would definitely be open to being on Gene’s show again if he ever wanted to bring me back. I feel that the dialogue was positive, constructive, and that there was ample mutual respect between everyone who participated. I really enjoyed the show, and I hope that the listeners also got some understanding of my atheistic worldview.

My thoughts on the show: I think I made a good point about the sacrifice of Jesus, how it (and all sacrifice) is morally wrong, and how two wrongs don’t make a right. In other words, having an innocent person such as Jesus or a six-year-old girl serve punishment for the crimes of another, especially by being killed on a cross, is never right. I conceded to Gene that a parent might want to sacrifice himself in favor of their child being punished for a crime, but I noted, and maintain, that it would not be just in either case, and any impartial observer (like the rest of society) would surely not agree that justice has been served when a parent serves the punishment of a murdering child, allowing the child to walk the streets free and forgiven.

Undoubtedly, the Hitler reference was brought up. While the kind Christian caller Dustin said that my moral position and arguments were a breath of fresh air (thanks!), he insisted that I could not get from an objective observation of reality (like Hitler’s genocidal campaign) and determine that it is against objective moral values.

I kept coming back to the value of life, and I think that’s what all these questions were reducible to: Why, as an atheist, should I value life? After the mid-show break, I stated that the question of “why should I value life?” was just as much a problem for a Christian as it is for an atheist in that there is no more reason to follow God’s word than there is to follow natural law based on reality and causality. Gene is a good radio host, and is good at making it seem like he adequately answered my question, but he only managed to push the question back one level, and I tried to point that out as well. Allow me to paraphrase:

Aaron: Why do you value life?
Gene: Because God tells us to.
Aaron: But you’re only pushing the question back one level. Why do you care if God tells you to?
Gene: Because he says that life is good and following his rules is good.
Aaron: But why do you want to follow his rules?
Gene: Because of the punishment he has in store for us if we don’t.
Aaron: But why do you care if you get punished? Why do you avoid punishment?
(From here the question will repeatedly get pushed back unless the Christian admits that they want to follow God’s rule for the same reason I want to follow objective values based on natural law: we both innately want to sustain our consciousnesses and allow them to thrive due to our evolutionary programming).

I think it’s clear by now that the problem they claim belongs to my worldview (that I can’t account for objective values) actually is a problem for their worldview! During the entire show I didn’t hear a sufficient answer for my question: Why does the Christian want to follow God’s rule and avoid punishment from God? Their only answer is to push it back one level.

Now as for me accounting for my values, I was able to mention evolutionary programming, and I said that an “ought” may not even have to come into the picture, because life itself (the definition of life that transcends any given species) wants to sustain, spread, and thrive. Therefore my worldview can account for objective values because of the evolutionary programming. In some ways, it might even be considered a materialistic, evolutionary “presupposition,” and if this is true, then it would be obvious that the Christians are borrowing from my worldview (the evolutionary programming) to justify their desire to value life, God’s law, and not getting cast into hell when they die.

Now remember folks, this was Gene’s show, and Gene is a pastor. That means that I’m on the Christian turf. I will not be getting the last word here, and I didn’t. Gene ended the show with a strawman, and it was basically along the lines of “an atheist can’t account for values or the desire to live, but a Christian can through God’s word, through his love for us, and through the desire to follow his rules.” But as you can all see, I have just demonstrated that it is the materialistic atheist who can account for the desire to live, and it is the Christian who “borrows capital” from the materialistic atheist’s worldview by using their built-in evolutionary programming every time they say that it’s a good thing to follow God’s law and avoid his wrath.

If anyone wants a copy of the show, register for free at Gene’s website Unchained Radio within the next week as it will be available for free download for a week. Alternatively, you can request it from me here in the comments section, and I will see what I can do. If anyone comments about the show, or criticisms of my arguments, etc… Feel free to post them here!

Crossposted at Kill The Afterlife.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the MP3.

Why I am a Cynic

Some skeptics use the term "cynic" to designate people who would never be convinced. I've decided to adopt it. Because of my epistemic position, I am of the position that "extraordinary claims CANNOT be justified".

For example, I remember it was found a while ago that pressure at certain areas of the skin could reduce pain, or somesuch thing. It was hailed as evidence of acupuncture. But acupuncture is justified by old pseudo-science and belief. "Acupuncture" as a belief can NEVER be proven ! We can prove scientific hypotheses, but not beliefs. Whatever you want to call that hypothesis, it is not "acupuncture".

In the same way, if perhaps more simplistically, no one would believe in Santa Claus, even if evidence was given. Santa Claus is a child's story.

The larger epistemic issue at hand is whether a belief can be found true by anything else but justification through evidence - whether we have grounds to consider anything beyond what the evidence gives us. Since I've come to hold that the answer is "no", I have come to the inevitable conclusion that extraordinary claims cannot possibly be found true.

What does this have to do with the issue of theism ? Theism is definitely an extraordinary claim, at least in the sense that it is acquired from principles which strongly deviate from the scientific. Theism, which rejects naturalism by definition, is in fact the opposite of the scientific methodology, which assumes naturalism is valid. So it is as extraordinary as any belief can be. Because of this, it is my position that no evidence can possibly reveal that "God exists" (never mind the fundamental semantic problems with the word "God").

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No Suprises

Well, Manata closed off his comments. He had this to say:

The reason comments are not allowed is because "Pressing the Antithesis" (PTA) is not a babysitting blog. PTA is not around for the purpose of allowing stupid comments. PTA is not around so that atheists can try out their philosophically inept arguments on my blog.

Manata clearly has no interest in apologetics or trying to convert anyone. He is only interested in spouting off his ideas and having Christians read them and agree with him. He has made himself as inaccessible as possible to those who don't believe in his Christian superstition. What's his major in college again?

Manata continues:

So, I tried to allow comments here but atheists (who hate God's law) hated my laws and so they had to rebel. Anyway, comments are now removed. Any complaining atheist only has himself to blame now.

Well, as soon as Manata put in rule #6, I stopped posting sarcastic comments. As soon as Manata put in rule #7, I stopped posting about the FSM. I then posted one question about the scriptural support for his claim that sin makes people stupid, then I decided that I it wouldn't be worth it posting in his comments anymore. But that wasn't enough for Paul. After some dialogue between him and I on this blog, he decided to close the comments. As far as I know, the last atheist post on his comments was my question about scripture. I guess that legitimate, on topic question was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Manata finishes off with:

Remember, this is a free country and if some atheist wishes to respond that bad then he can start a free blog and do so.

Looks like he is missing the point I was trying to make. Manata, in this quote, clearly wants the non-believers to leave him alone. My question about scripture wasn't "bad," or in violation of any of his rules. It was nothing but a relevant question. Oh well.

Manata has no interest in converting anyone to Christianity. Manata's only interest is feeding his ego by having like-minded people clap every time he makes a post insulting his own faith by calling evolution a religion and other such ridiculousness. I guess that's fine, but maybe he should change his college major, because he obviously hates duking it out in the battle of ideas (apologetics), and sucks at it anyway.

I think it's fair to say that my actions have shown that I am more interested in winning over "hearts and minds" than he is!

One more thing: Manata talks about atheists hating God's law, but he obviously needs to spend less time reading van Til and more time reading his Bible. In the Bible, 1 Peter 3:15 says "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence," I haven't seen Manata do this once, and now he is basically saying that he has no interest in following this particular word of God! He may not hate God's law, but he sure as hell isn't following it. I think Paul would be better suited to just become a minister and preach to an ever-shrinking flock, because he doesn't know how to interact with, and win over, non-believers whatsoever.

Reminder: Theists are allowed to post comments and their badly formed arguments in here, even if they contain sarcasm, mention the FSM, Jesus, or even contain insults. I am officially against the removal of any and all comments except for spam, and I am against the banning of any and all commenters except for spammers. That's what a good apologetic/evangelist should do, right Paul?

Too Good to be True...

Paul Manata at Press the Antithesis recently reinstated the comments capability on his blog amid criticism that he was trying to silence discussion and remove a fun and interactive part of his site.

I thought it was a very good thing. But I quickly realized that it was too good to be true...

The only places on the Internet where I have personally experienced censorship are 1., and 2. Manata's blog. I made a somewhat sarcastic post in his comments section, which I didn’t think was a big deal because it also did contain a relevant question. Manata really didn’t like it, he deleted it, and then he added a rule that discriminates against atheists, saying that sarcastic atheist posts will be deleted.

Manata apparently subscribes to censorship. Every reader here should note that neither I at my Kill The Afterlife blog, nor Franc or any of the writers here at this blog, ever practice censorship of comments by any member of any belief systems, regardless of the sarcastic content. The only thing I’ve ever deleted at my blog is spam, and that’s all I will ever delete. Its a good thing that some of us individualist thinking types will allow free speech and uninhibited discourse, regardless of our dislike of the content of comment posts. We even let Hashishan Prophet have his say for cryin out loud! Goose the Antithesis doesn't even have a 6 point list of rules for the comments, and Kill The Afterlife only has one rule: spam is deleted. Everything else stays.

Manata says that sin makes people stupid. Is censorship an intelligent Christian thing or a stupid authoritarian thing? Manata probably thinks that it is the former, strangely enough.

I must say that Manata's apologetic techniques are not very effective. He also seems to be okay with double standards in that he is fully aware that atheist bloggers like us allow all him and other Christians to post all kinds of ad hominem, sarcastic, and other not-so-nice things on our blogs without fear of deletion. But he does not wish to afford us the same consideration on his blog.

So now my feelings on Paul's reinstatement of comments is mixed. I’m glad he reinstated them, but I’m disappointed that he maintains a Gestapo-like stranglehold on their content, especially when he is censoring and pushing away the very people he is supposed to be trying to convert!

I have reached a few conclusions about this whole thing:

1. Manata is more interested in preaching to the choir than saving souls.

2. Manata does not believe in treating others the same way they treat him.

3. Manata wants to have extra restrictions for non-Christians.

4. Manata literally does not know how to show anyone the love of Christ.

5. Manata's Christianity is in question. He loves not his neighbor, and treats atheists worse than atheists treat him. Like a particular Bible character, Manata has admitted that atheists have hardened his heart. What happened to that Bible character whose heart was hardened by the way?

6. Manata is a pro-censorship, anti-American, anti-freedom communist. Like our dear leader Lord Bush said, "They hate America because they hate our freedom."

Manata, you have taken a step in the right direction, only to take a step back again. Embrace the free-speech ideas of your homeland! Join me, my American brother, in providing free expression of ideas for all of us, from blog to shining blog!


*UPDATE* Manata has made a 7th rule that casts a dark shadow over his blog: he will delete any and all comments mentioning the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Rather than attempt to refute the FSM, he simply wants to delete it to make it go away. Groundfighter76 is applauding Paul's censorship practices, which only goes to show that Christianity tends to make a person "hate freedom" and become more "anti-American."

With restrictions like these, it becomes almost pointless for an atheist to post anything at all, and therefore defeats the purpose of Paul's comments except for serving as a cheerleading device to pump up his obviously insecure ego. The fact that all the other Christians support his censorship forces me to believe that they also are not interested in saving souls or facilitating communication between the two worldviews. They simply want to have pow-wow's where they all stroke eachother and attempt to convince themselves that what they believe in is true and real.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Can't Believe it Happened!

Credit goes to The Whiskey Bar for the image and to Positive Blasphemy for bringing my attention to it.


"Atheist liberal"

Why do most atheists consider themselves liberal (in the American, left-wing sense) ? The liberals and the conservatives fulfill the roles of "rebels" and "establishment", and so people think it's some kind of meaningful choice. Atheists probably tend to be liberal simply because they are more freethinking, and thus they align with the "rebel" stereotype.

While there are fanatics, I doubt most of them honestly believe in liberalism. All the atheists I know who thought they were liberals quickly saw that they weren't, after a small conversation. Of course, it's a very small sample. But it wouldn't surprise me if most atheists were liberal simply out of stereotype or convention.

Is liberalism "freethinking" ? Quite the opposite. To think freely is to set oneself apart from collectivist belief systems based on dogma or emotionalism. But liberalism is a collectivist belief system based on emotionalism. So is conservatism, for that matter, but most atheists already understand why conservatism must be rejected, so I won't expand any energy in that direction. Rather, I'll concentrate on liberalism.

To define it, liberalism is a political position characterized by syndicalism, the Welfare state (based on forced redistribution of wealth), tribalism and support for "environmentalism" (meaning : subordinating society to nature). Its ideological underpinnings are utilitarianism, "common good" collectivism, cultural relativism, and pseudo-science.

Christianity and liberalism are both dedicated to an unrelenting, organized attack against scientific progress and its strict adherence to the facts. To the Christian, this adherence to facts (in favour of Neo-Darwinism, stem cell research, abortion and euthanasia vs the "soul", secular values instead of the Ten Commandments) goes in the face of blind belief in a deity. To the liberal, this adherence to facts (in favour of GM foods, technology vs tribalism, climate science vs liberal pseudo-climatology, against the bungling of studies to support government regulation such as anti-smoking laws) goes in the face of blind belief in the "common good". In the most extreme form of liberalism in the academia, post-modernism, this is manifested as a wholesale rejection of science in favour of inter-personal, racial, feminist, or Marxist "liberation".

Both have no problems with pious lying or violence in the name of their "ideals" (liberal greenie activism right now is considered the most dangerous terrorist movement in the Unites States - groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), and Earth First!).

Christianity is founded on the sacrifice of individual values in the name of an almighty God/faith. Liberalism is founded on the sacrifice of individual values in the name of an almighty state/democracy/"common good". The only difference is that religion is often spurred by personal experience and is thus generally more personal in nature than political beliefs. But this is a relatively small difference in the face of their gigantic similarities. To most of the reasons to be religious (except the "afterlife"), one can draw a similar liberal parallel.

Insofar as the goal of evangelism should be to free the individual to express his personal values, the consequence is obvious : we should also try to free people from the liberal belief system. If we are to define the most basic worldview based on freethought, as I think most atheists accept, we have to add liberalism and conservatism to the list of dogmas to reject, and preach that the individual should be free to express his values without being coerced by social institutions - whether that institution is a church, a castle or a parliament makes very little difference for the end result.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Why ?

Why is the American government forbidding our doctors to treat victims of Hurricane Kathrina ?

Protestant Jihad in Northern Ireland

Religion has done it again! Last weekend, religion again served as a catalyst for yet another violent battle between various groups that disagree on their superstitious claims to exclusive truth. But this time, it doesn't involve Islam. This time, it is Christian against Christian.

The past decade or so has seen Islam take the spotlight for religious violence, but last weekend that spotlight has shone on a battle that has been taking place for quite some time, and anyone over the age of 22 should remember this classic battle: Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland are at each others throats, with the police caught in the middle. CNN has an article which examines last weekend's conflict in detail.

Here is a sum-up: Two groups in Northern Ireland, the Protestants and Catholics, are battling all the time and hate each other's guts. There is a group called the "Orangemen" who are hardcore Protestants, and they wanted to have a little parade right next to some Catholic turf. Well the police didn't want them to do that, as they know that in past instances these parades have caused lots of violence between the two superstitious groups. So instead of antagonize the Catholics, the Orangemen decided to collaborate with a few outlawed Protestant terrorist groups (see? Islam isn't the only terrorist-group-starting religion) and start a riot! At least these Christians follow in the footsteps of Jesus and bring a sword, you know what I mean?

Cars and lorries were burned, bombs were thrown, and shots were fired at police. Lots of them were injured, but fortunately nobody was killed. It sure would suck to die for a deity that doesn't exist! In fact, it sucks to do anything for a deity that doesn't exist.

Just look at how much love and understanding religion brings to the world. Yea, right! Every time religion or religious people are in the news nowadays, its BAD news. Preachers molesting children, preachers stealing church money (For an excellent look at religious-related crime in America, check out the Bobo's World), mothers killing their babies(!), televangelists calling for the assassination of world leaders, bus bombings, house demolishings, and occupation in a "holy land" that looks a lot more like a "desert wasteland," airplanes cutting down skyscrapers, mass transit systems being systematically bombed across Europe, illegal invasions and near-civil-war in Iraq, Jihad everywhere you turn, religious leaders from every brand-name of superstition imaginable calling for the death and destruction of each other, the faithful having delusions of heaven with bombs strapped to their chests, the stifling of scientific progress and the denial of individual rights.

Jesus Christ! Enough is enough! Human beings are destroying themselves because of their retarded superstitions! England has a bus bombing, and a month later the Protestants and Catholics and Police in Northern Ireland all decide to rumble and tumble. Are we not learning our lessons here?

Europe is becoming increasingly atheistic (thank God!) and America is far behind her, but also gaining in godlessness (in terms of headcount). Obviously, it isn't happening fast enough! The mental virus of religion is taking an increasingly deadly toll on its victims. You can bet your ass that the death toll will continue to climb as long as we insist on fighting on behalf of our invisible magic friend in the sky.

We need to try harder to reach these theists. If we care about our fellow man, and if we care about our own safety, we need to try to get through to these people. True, most of them will never deconvert. Most of these people will take their superstition to their graves. Fine. But if we get the message out there, we can save those who are still open to reason, and our message will resonate with the youth who are still formulating their belief systems. Get 'em while they're young, I say! Every little bit of direct interaction with theists helps. For example, I Am and Chad have started up an atheist vs. theist carnival known as God or Not. All bloggers, theist and atheist should submit some work to the carnival. Atheists should register at various theistic forums and engage in meaningful, constructive dialogue. Atheists should talk to their theistic family members. As hard as it may be, atheists should come out of the closet to their loved ones. I did so with my parents and it wasn't pretty, but we are all better off because of it, and while my parents are still theistic, they have a new understanding of the religious issues going on today, as well as the merits of atheism.

Every time some crazy religious crap like this goes down (and that's pretty damn often), it should serve as a reminder to all freethinkers that the time for action is NOW! The time to defend our fellow man from our own psychosis is NOW! The time to challenge these superstitions and let these people know just how crazy they are is NOW! In this war-ravaged world, the heart of the battle is at the battle of ideas, and it is one fight that we must not lose. For if rational thought loses, then humanity loses.

For more information on how get involved in this battle of superstitious ideas, visit the activism page of

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Codifying my secular worldview

This is similar to Objectivism, insofar as I've only codified the general deductions, so it should please most people here. Nothing too controversial, just showing how everything is derived. This relates very much to presuppositionalism as well, as their only "argument" is to assert that we don't have a coherent worldview. So this is the reply. It's "Francois Tremblay's worldview", and perhaps that of some other people as well.

I would welcome any additions I should make, any errors I made, any clarifications I need to make, etc.

-- metaphysics

(M1) I exist. (Axiomatically observed)
(M2) Other things exist. (Axiomatically observed)
(M3) I am conscious. (Axiomatically observed)
(M4) I exist in a definite way. (Axiomatically observed)
(M5) Other things exist in a definite way. (Axiomatically observed)

(M5 expanded) = (M6) Things are what they are. A is A.
(M6 expanded) = (ML) System of basic logic (founded on the law of identity, law of non-contradiction, law of excluded middle)

(M1) + (M3) = (M7) My consciousness is a thing that exists.
(ML) => (M8) Either the primacy of existence is true, or the primacy of consciousness is true.
(M7) + (M8) = (M9) The primacy of existence is true.

Another way to derive :
(M5) + (ML) + "if the primacy of consciousness is true, then things may have an indefinite nature" = (M9)

(ML) => (M10) Either reality is objective, or reality is subjective.
(M9) + (M10) = (M11) Reality is objective.

Another way to derive is through (ML) and the fallacy of stolen concept. Same for (M9).

(M5) + (M11) = (M12) All existents have a definite nature.

-- epistemology

(M3) + any proposition = (E1) I can direct my attention (causal free will)

(M2) + (M3) = (E2) I perceive. I perceive other things that have a specific nature.
Induction on (E2) = (E3) I conceptualize.

(M2) + (M3) + (E2) = (E4) I observe that there are introspective and extrospective methods. Define the latter as "reason".
(M11) + (E4) = (E5) Only extrospective methods can give us knowledge.
(E4) + (E5) = (E6) Only reason can give us knowledge. Reason is defined as the necessarily concurrent operation of (ML), (E2) and (E3), through (E1).
(E6 expanded) = (E7) Knowledge is defined as that which is supported by sufficient rational evidence.

(E1 expanded) = (E8) Change exists. Time exists.
(There are probably other ways to get (E8), but this seems to be the simplest)
(M12) + (E8) = (E9) All existents change according to their nature (law of causality)

(E7 expanded) = (E10) Knowledge is hierarchical. More specifically : knowledge is a structure based on perceptual awareness of reality through successive logical integrations.
(E10 expanded) = (E11) Knowledge is contextual. More specifically : the justification of knowledge is tied to our previous logical integrations.
(E11 expanded) = (E12) Knowledge is relative, insofar as context is relative.

(E11 expanded) = (E13) We need to ensure that our knowledge holds in all relevant, available contexts.
(E14) Define falsification as the method to ensure that our knowledge holds in all relevant contexts (predictive tests).
(E13) + (E14) = (E15) Falsification is an important rational method.

(E6) + (E15) = (ES) Foundations of the scientific method. Still missing peer review, numerical accuracy and error bars, clinical trials, and so on, but it's a good start. One can derive these from (ES) or ontological results of (ES).

(E16) Define principles as abstractions that integrate conceptual knowledge within a given domain.
(E16 expanded) = (E17) Principles are one's only means of using conceptual knowledge efficiently.

(E18) Define induction as the generalization of a concept or principle from individual observations.
(E6) + (E17) = (E19) We must use induction in order to subsume our empirical data efficiently using concepts and principles.

(E6 narrowed) = (E20) We can only know that which is observable.
(E20 expanded) = (E21) There is only one fundamental mode of existence, that which is observable. Define this mode of existence as "matter" or "materialism".
(E9 expanded) + (E21) = (E22) The state of existents today follow the state of existents yesterday according to the laws of causality.
(this is a primitive form of O6-O10)
(E22 expanded) = (E23) Justification of induction. I can trust that past experiences will reflect future experiences in accordance with the laws of causality.

-- ontology
From this point on, all separate observations are validated by sense perception through reason.

(E9) = (O1) All existents are subject to causality. That includes ontological causation (O-cause).
(M12) = (O2) Reality is made of stuff that has a definite nature.
(E21) + (O1) + (O2) = (O3) Properties of the nature of stuff must be O-caused. Properties of the nature of stuff can only be O-caused by lower levels of structures of matter.
(O3 narrowed) = (O4) Reality is made of many co-existing levels of structures of matter, that each have a different sort of identity.
(O3 expanded) = (O5) All properties are strictly O-caused by lower levels of structures of matter. Reductionism.

(O6) Define the universe is the sum of all existents.
(O7) Define one of the properties of causality as temporal succession. (from Hume)
(O1 expanded) = (O8) The sum of all existents is subject to causality.
(O7) + (O8 expanded) = (O9) A state of the sum of all existents is caused by the previous state of the sum of all existents.
(O6) + (O9) = (O10) A state of the universe is caused by the previous state of the universe (determinism).

Some ways to derive atheism :
(M9 expanded) = No primary consciousness can exist. (primacy of existence)
(E6 narrowed) = No being that demands the abandon of (E3) can be known to exist. (theological noncognitivism)
(E21 expanded) = There are no supernatural beings. (materialism)
(O3 expanded) = There is no supernatural causation. (naturalism)

-- ethics (value-based)

(M3 expanded) = (V1) I am alive. I survive (sustainment of life) and flourish (fulfillment of value). (expanded moral definition of life)
Observation + (E1) = (V2) Life can and must be sustained by directed action.

(axiomicity of M3) = (V3) A moral agent is necessarily alive.
(V2) + (V3) = (V4) A moral agent necessarily acts. People who are alive are necessarily moral agents.
(V1) + (V4) = (V5) Everyone necessarily acts.

(V2 expanded) = (V6) Some actions sustain life, and some hinder it.
(E9) + (V6) = (V7) Some actions sustain life, and some hinder it, in accordance with the laws of causality. (causality applied to action)

Observation = (V8) There are other people like me.

(V9) Define a need as a rationally desired object in order to pursue life.
Observation = (V10) I have material needs, such as the need for health and food, which contribute directly to my survival.
Observation = (V11) I have mental needs, such as the need for conceptual knowledge, education and art, which contribute to my life by ensuring proper knowledge-acquisition.
Observation = (V12) I have social needs, such as the need for trade, communication, friendship and love, which contribute to the fulfillment of my material and mental needs.
Observation = (V13) I have political needs, such as the need for freedom and objective law, which provide the context for the fulfillment of all my other needs.

(V15) Define a value as an object which sustained possession fulfills a need. Equivalency of need and value.
(V14) + (V15) = (V16) There is a hierarchy of values. Some values are short-range and some values are long-range.

(V17) Define a virtue as a principle of mental habit conductive to moral action (fulfilling values).

Observation = (V18) Long-range consequences can only be grasped abstractly.
(E16) + (V18) = (V20) Principles are one's only means of identifying long-range consequences.
(V16) + (V20) = (V21) One needs a commitment to acting in accordance with principles in pursuit of long-range values.
(V17) + (V21) = (V22) We need virtues.

Justifying some virtues :

(E6 narrowed) = (V23) To act in accordance with moral knowledge demands the volitional adherence to reason.
(V23) = (V24) Rationality is a prime virtue.

(E6 narrowed) = (V25) To act in accordance with moral knowledge demands a commitment to face the results of rational processes.
(V25) = (V26) Honesty is a virtue.

Observation + (V8) = (V27) Other people can be sources of great values and great threats.
(V26) + (V27) = (V28) Justice is a virtue.

Observation = (V29) Cooperation is the best way to fulfill my values.
Observation = (V30) Violence breaks the virtue of rationality.
(V29) + (V30) = (V31) Non-coercion is a virtue.

(E11 narrowed) = (V32) Moral knowledge is contextual.

Observation = (V33) "I" am a separate moral agent from all other individuals. "I" live in a different context than anyone else. Structural Individualism.
(V32) + (V33) = (V34) Moral knowledge cannot be made absolute or collectivized. The expression of values is necessarily individualist.

-- politics

(P1) Define society as the interacting set of individuals living on a given territory, as well as the institutions they form.
(V13) + (P1) = (P2) I have the need to live in a society that permits the expression of individual values.
(P1) + (P2) = (P3) I have the need to live in a society containing institutions that protect the expression of individual values. The set of said institutions is roughly called "government".

(P4) Define a right as a principle defining the freedom of expression of individual values in a social context.

(P5) Some examples :
* I have the political need for objective law, therefore I have the right of an objective judiciary.
* I have the political need to be able to work, therefore I have the right of employment.
* I have the political need to speak my mind and communicate with others in order to judge truth, therefore I have the right of free speech.
* I have the political need to own property in order to use it to fulfill my values, therefore I have the right of property.
* I have the political need for my life to be protected in order to act, therefore I have the right of life.
In general : I have the right of protection from force or fraud.

(P5 expanded) = (P6) Government should not initiate the use of force.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Derek Sansone @ the Atheist Hour

On Sunday, September 11th (!), at 6pm, Derek Sansone will be appearing on The Atheist Hour, hosted by Pastor Gene Cook. It is an hour long show of discussion between an atheist (this week, Derek) and a Christian (Gene). The show also takes callers.

If you're interested at all in the debate between Christians and atheists, you should tune in to the show.

P.S. I will be appearing on the same show one week later, on September 18th.

(Crossposted at Kill The Afterlife.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Strip, Bitch! Your'e in "Great Satan" Turf!

Score one for Florida:

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (AP) -- A Muslim woman who, for religious reasons, wanted to wear a veil in her driver's license photo must follow a Florida law that requires a picture of her full face, a state appeals court ruled.

So far so good, but the article gets worse at the end:

The appeals court found enforcement of the law "did not compel Freeman to engage in conduct that her religion forbids -- her religion does not forbid all photographs."

Excuse me? So what if her religion did forbid all photographs? Would the state then comply with her religious beliefs?

Pastafarianism, the great religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, insists on its preachers wearing full pirate regalia. That includes a Rapier, Scimitar, or other big sharp metal blade. Since it’s my religion, would the state of Florida let me walk into, say, a government building or courtroom with such a weapon? If my religion forbid me from ever removing my Scimitar from my person, would the Judge rule in my favor?

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom to violate secular law. But then again, secular law is not supposed to "infringe" on religious belief or practices. We obviously got a conflict here. If a secular law is aimed at all citizens and has a secular purpose, like photo identification of a licensed driver, then there should be no exceptions granted, or even considered, for some crazy superstition. The appeals court in this case gave this superstitious woman, and all religious bodies, way too much leeway by even implying that if her religion forbid all photographs, then the state might consider her claim valid.

Now that President Bush supports Pastafarianism, I'm going to be sure to wear my Scimitar/Rapier sword combo package on my Pirate's belt next time I have to make a court appearance for a speeding ticket (which shouldn't be long now given how long it's been since I have been pulled over). And I am going to cite the Florida appeals court, President Bush, and Pastafarianism dogma, when the cops try to stop me at the court's metal detector.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hellbound Alleee Ad-For-Blogs Program

We have an ad-for-blogs program, by which you either put our banner on your blog, or review our show. In exchange, we'll run an ad for your blog (as written by you) on our station, as well as on our recorded show.

Our show also plays on Freethought Radio and is saved on our CDs, so people will hear your ad for a long time.

All blogs are welcome, even Christian ones. After all, listeners to our show are interested in theological issues, so you can get a chance to interest them as well.

Anyone who is interested, email me at and I will send you all the information.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Irony of Katrina, Churches, and Insurance

Hurricane Katrina is a natural disaster of epic proportions. Residents of New Orleans were hit particularly hard when nearby levees ruptured, causing flooding of 80% of the below-sea-level city. The rescue and recovery efforts are just beginning, and will require billions of dollars and many months of work. We can only hope that the refugees and victims of this disaster are able to get the timely help they need.

An atheist will categorize this as a natural disaster, but Christians are categorizing this as an act of God. Click here to see what Christians have to say about Katrina. Assuming that the Christian God exists, then this would most definitely be an act of God (then again, if the Christian God did exist, what wouldn’t be an act of God?).

Some news stations have been showing footage of the destruction with commentary along the lines of “not a single house or church is left standing.” While watching television these past few days, I have noticed that many news organizations have specifically reported that churches have been destroyed along with everything else.

Which brings me to my point. The churches that have been devastated in this disaster will need to be rebuilt by their preachers and their congregation. These churches have insurance, and they will or course be making insurance claims to get money to finance rebuilding efforts.

Now comes the irony. Many of the insurance policies held by these churches contain clauses excluding “Acts of God.” Finally, realize that if the Christian God really does exist, then this too is God’s will.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Strong Atheist's Case Against Christian Theology

This essay was submitted for publication here by Harvey Whippleman (

I. *Representative* Scientific Objections to The Bible:

A. Adam and Eve story.

1. How did God create a female (Eve) from the male DNA of Adam's rib?
2. How did Adam and Eve successfully mate and produce offspring when, at most, they had identical DNA, and at least, they were twins?
3. How did a snake acquire the ability to speak in human language? How was this physiologically possible?

B. Crossing the Red Sea.

Stipulating: The sea is roughly 1900km long and at its widest is more than 300km. The sea floor has a maximum depth of 2,500m in the central median trench and an average depth of 500m, but it also has extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 or 450,000km².
1. Stipulating that, how did Moses and the Israelites pass through it? After all, it was substantial enough to deluge Pharaoh's army.
2. If the sea was parted, how precisely was that done?

C. Jesus' resurrection.

1. How did Jesus rise from the dead, and walk around good as new, when after dozens of hours of being dead, he would be brain dead, with decayed muscles, bloated from gasses, with blisters on his skin and with millions of dead and useless cells, including dead and useless heart and kidney cells? It should be noted that brain death is irreversible in every instance. It cannot be turned back. It is permanent.

D. Noah's Ark.

1. How is it possible to hold all the world’s species in an ark with the dimensions specified? There are possibly up to 100 million animal species alone.
2. How is it possible to feed these millions of animals?
3. How did specific species and classes of animals become trapped on different continents? For example, most marsupials are only found in Australia. If the Noah’s Ark story were true, then we should expect a more homogeneous converge of species.
4. Why didn't many aquatic ecosystems die off from the massive change in salinity?
5. Why didn't many modern plants die out, as they should have?

Note: One may not cite "miracles" to explain any of these phenomena until the concept of "miracles" is shown to have a scrap of merit.

For Reference on Miracles:

II. Science's Take on Theism/Design/Creation/Divine Guidance:

A. Pervasive Atheism Among Eminent Scientists.

Information is from

In a survey of National Academy of Science scientists, 72.2% were overtly atheistic, 20.8% agnostic, and only 7.0% believed in a personal God. It should be noted that the NAS is the most prestigious scientific organization in the United States.

"Our survey found near universal rejection of the transcendent by NAS natural scientists. Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality)."

From these figures, we can conclude: 93% of scientists who are members of the National Academy of Science are in fact agnostic or atheists. Indeed, looking at a chart that includes figures from earlier in the 20th century, one can only come to the conclusion that top scientists are more atheistic than ever before.

Expanded percentages (among "greater" scientists):

Belief in personal God 1914/ 1933/ 1998
Personal belief 27.7/ 15/ 7.0
Personal disbelief 52.7/ 68/ 72.2
Doubt/agnosticism 20.9/ 17/ 20.8

B. Illogic of Omnibenevolent, Omniscient, Omnipotent Designer.

This is by Steven Pinker, Psychology professor at Harvard University, and appeared in Time magazine:

"Our own bodies are riddled with quirks that no competent engineer would have planned but that disclose a history of trial-and-error tinkering: a retina installed backward, a seminal duct that hooks over the ureter like a garden hose snagged on a tree, goose bumps that uselessly try to warm us by fluffing up long-gone fur.
The moral design of nature is as bungled as its engineering design. What twisted sadist would have invented a parasite that blinds millions of people or a gene that covers babies with excruciating blisters? To adapt a Yiddish expression about God: If an intelligent designer lived on Earth, people would break his windows."

C. Lack of Scientific Support for Creationism.

"...Taking into account only [scientists] working in the relevant fields of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists, but only about 700 believe in "creation-science" or consider it a valid theory. This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists believe in creationism. And that is just in the United States, which has more creationists than any other industrialized country. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.

A panel of seventy-two Nobel Laureates, seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations created an amicus curiae brief that they submitted to the Supreme Court (Edwards v. Aguillard 1986). This report clarified what makes science different from religion and why creationism is not science. Note that there are no creationist Nobel Laureates."


Note: The scientific community's opinion, in itself, does not constitute proof of anything. However, equivalency arguments, comparing scientific opinion to general public opinion, are transparently fallacious. One need only ask oneself how many people on a busy street corner have any idea what "homologous structures" are.

III. Objections to the Bible's Accuracy, Historicity, Connection to Reality:

A. Archaeological Fallibility.

Many times, Christians will falsely claim that archaeology supports the accuracy of the Bible. They continue that the Bible's historical account has many times been substantiated by new archaeological information. Those are untruths.

"Archaeology supports at most the general background of the Bible and some relatively recent details. It does not support every biblical claim. In particular, archaeology does not support anything about creation, the Flood, or the conquest of the Holy Land.

If a few instances of historical accuracy are so significant, then an equal claim for accuracy can be made for the Iliad and Gone with the Wind.

Archaeology contradicts significant parts of the Bible:

The Bible contains anachronisms. Details attributed to one era actually apply to a much later era. For example, camels, mentioned in Genesis 24:10, were not widely used until after 1000 B.C.E.

The Exodus, which should have been a major event, does not appear in Egyptian records. There are no traces in the Sinai that one would expect from forty years of wandering of more than half a million people. And other archaeological evidence contradicts it, showing instead that the Hebrews were a native people.

There is no evidence that the kingdoms of David and Solomon were nearly as powerful as the Bible indicates; they may not have existed at all."


B. The Bible is Teeming With Errors/Contradictions.

"There are several aspects of the Bible that show it is not inerrant. These include factual errors, for example:

Leviticus 11:6 states that rabbits chew their cud.

Leviticus 11:20-23 speaks of four-legged insects, including grasshoppers.

1 Chronicles 16:30 and Psalm 93:1 state that the earth is immobile; yet it not only revolves and orbits the sun but is also influenced by the gravitational pull of other bodies.

and Contradictions:

In Genesis 1, Adam is created after other animals; In Genesis 2, he appears before animals.

Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23 differ over Jesus' lineage.

Mark 14:72 differs from Matthew 26:74-75, Luke 22:60-61, and John 18:27 about how many times the cock crowed.

2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1 differ over who incited David to take a census.

1 Samuel 31:4-5 and 2 Samuel 1:5-10 differ over Saul's death.

The four Gospels differ about many details of Christ's death and resurrection. For example, Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, and John 19:19 have different inscriptions on the cross.

Matthew 27:5-8 differs with Acts 1:18-19 about Judas's death.

Genesis 9:3 and Leviticus 11:4 differ about what is proper to eat.

Romans 3:20-28 and James 2:24 differ over faith versus deeds.

Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 disagree with Ezekiel 18:4,19-20 and John 9:3 about sins being inherited."


C. Genesis' Incorrect Timeline.

Supposedly "infallible" Genesis has the natural timeline totally wrong.

"The creation account in Genesis 1 lists ten major events in this order: (1) a beginning; (2) a primitive earth in darkness and enshrouded in heavy gases and water; (3) light; (4) an expanse or atmosphere; (5) large areas of dry land; (6) land plants; (7) sun, moon, and stars discernible in the expanse, and seasons beginning; (8) sea monsters and flying creatures; (9) wild and tame beasts and mammals; (10) man."

"The real order is: (1) a beginning; (2) light; (3) sun and stars; (4) primitive earth, moon, and atmosphere; (5) dry land; (6) sea creatures; (7) some land plants; (8) land creatures and more plants and sea creatures; (9) flying creatures (insects) and more plants and land and sea creatures; (10) mammals, and more land and sea animals, insects, and plants; (11) the first birds, (12) fruiting plants (which is what Genesis talks about) and more land, sea, and flying creatures; (13) man and more of the various animals and plants."


IV. Logical Objections to Blind Theism (a.k.a. Debunking Pascal's Wager):

A. There is no point in believing in a God, even if one does exist, when one knows nothing about this deity's nature or expectations. For example, God could be benevolent and care about one's actions. Or, God could be malevolent and care about one's actions. Or, God could be benevolent and not care about one's actions. Or, God could be malevolent and not care about one's actions. Saying "I follow the Christian faith just in case God exists" is utterly nonsensical. That would be like somebody saying, "I follow the Satanist faith just in case a malevolent God exists." With limitless plausible possibilities, there is no way one can "be on the safe side" in terms of not offending God. And thus, Pascal's Wager is a loser.

V. Moral Objections to the Christian Conception of God:

A. God's apparent bloodlust.
I'll quote the Scripture:

Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold." (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.)
So Moses said, "This is what the LORD says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt-worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.
Exodus 11 (1-6)

Rather than doing something to the Pharaoh for refusing to let the Israelites go free, God chose to murder every firstborn son in Egypt. What did the poor slave girl do to warrant her firstborn son being murdered? Did the slave girl set the Pharaoh's policies? Did the slave girl's firstborn son set the Pharaoh's policies? Punishing children for the immoral society into which they were born is simultaneously cowardly and cruel. Worshipping the God of Exodus is worshipping a God who apparently engaged in casual infanticide. It is amazing to think that God, who presumably has a totally unlimited pool of options, decided the very best option in this situation was to engage in infanticide.