Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Join the Vox Populi team!

I am always looking for people who are atheists, have an opinion to put out there, and are unabashed about it. Just a moderately good microphone is all you need, and about fifteen or twenty minutes of your time every two weeks.

Our team is currently composed of: Robert Dawson, Jake Doelling, Dan Ferrisi, Edward Greve, Zachary Moore and Sean Prophet.

If you want to join our team, please send an answer to one of the current questions (available on the team members' page), in mp3 format, 128 resolution or more, at

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Faith and Reason: Part 2

I went back to the Faith and Reason class today, accompanied by Derek Sansone, who had heard about my experience last week and was very interested to see the class for himself. There had been somewhat of a backlash against the previous week's class, which had involved an interview of several invited atheists. Since the format had not allowed for much reponse to the atheists' arguments, many had felt that the unidirectional exchange may have put in jeapordy some of the weaker Christians, and inspired doubt with which they were unable to cope. This was especially seen as an error given the fact that the class takes place within the church context. Kevin Harris, the leader of the class, had consulted with Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig, who both agreed that it was not a good idea to interact with atheism in a church setting- especially without the adequate chance for Christian rebuttal.

To rectify this imbalance, Kevin prepared a brief rebuttal to some of the arguments for atheism (and thus, against Christianity) that had been broached by the invited guests the week before. I'll go through the main points here, and offer my commentary.

Against Naturalism

First, this view has fallen on hard times, especially the last 50 years, with the emergence of Big Bang cosmology. The evidence shows that the universe had a beginning - it is not eternal. There was nothing "natural" prior to the Big Bang because there was no nature! But since something cannot come from nothing uncaused, there must have been something beyond nature to bring it about! So the universe must have had a super- (beyond) natural cause. All matter, space, and time itself came into existence a finite time ago. Since the universe is not eternal, and something cannot come from nothing uncaused, then something eternal beyond the universe must have caused it.

Current cosmology theorizes that space and time both began simultaneously, therefore it makes no sense to talk about anything happening "prior to the Big Bang." In addition, although cosmology theorizes a finite Universe, it does not follow that there was a "beginning." This indicates linear thinking in regards to space-time, when in fact it is multi-dimensional. A good analogy for this is to think of the Universe as occupying the surface area of a sphere. There is no beginning or endpoint to a sphere, but it does occupy a finite surface area.

Against Materialism
There are many things that are real, yet are not material. Like numbers, ideas, propositions, the Laws of Logic, etc. These things are real (exist in reality) but they are not material! Many atheists don't like this observation because it opens the door for the possibility of an immaterial, transcendent God and spiritual reality.
The examples given are all concepts, which are themselves material in nature since they depend on a material brain to store them, and which are metaphysically natural, since no coherent concept is independent of material context.

God of the Gaps
First, the Christian does not need to argue this way. We can point to God based on what we do know, not just on what we don't know. We can show evidence for God from things like the beginning of the universe, the fine-tuning design in the universe, and of course the historical evidences for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
This seems to miss the issue. Positing God as the Creator is itselt a God of the Gaps approach, as is the Argument from Fine Tuning. Historical evidences for Jesus really aren't germane to an argument like God of the Gaps, because it is concerned with scientific knowledge, not historical knowledge.
Second, the Christian view is compatible with God being the ultimate cause of various phenomena, yet, He can work through "secondary causation". God created the world (ultimate cause) and the world contains systems that produce various phenomena (secondary cause) - all within God's providence!
This is the approach taken by Deism, and it's also scientifically worthless. The difference between a naturalistic Universe and a Universe created to run naturalistically is nil. But admittedly, for those who take a position of faith, this approach is the best hope to retain appreciation for the scientific approach.

Against Atheistic Morality and Meaning
The fact that atheists recognize morality just like we all do shows that there is incumbent upon mankind a sense of "ought" - one ought do this and one ought not do that, etc. This moved C.S. Lewis from atheism, to theism, to Christianity. "Survival instinct" and social conformity fail to fully explain objective moral values. In that case, whoever is the strongest or whoever gains control of a given society determines what is moral. Imagine for a moment if Hitler had conquered the world and the Nazis were still in control! So, we must go beyond society to judge society and atheism says we can't do that. Yet, that is what they want to do!
This is an attack against moral relativism, and one which those of us here at GTA would support. So the equivocation of atheism with relativism is incorrect, but it's a common error among Christians.
Second, notice that "better" implies a best. We don't know if things are getting "better" unless we have a best in mind. If we are making "progress" then there must be a standard to which we are progressing. But on atheism, there really is no ultimate standard. It is just what you, they, Hitler, or anyone else thinks is the standard. Therefore, we must all fight to get "ours" (survival of the fittest?).
This is not true. It is possible to compare two things without having an ultimate standard. Evolution, for example, functions by giving selective advantages to populations which are "better" suited to their environment than other populations. It does not follow, however, that there exists some ultimate standard of a perfect squirrel to which all existing squirrels can be compared, nor to which they are progressing towards. And you'll notice the naturalistic fallacy implied by the final part of this section, I'm sure.
Third, notice much of this can be applied to meaning too. If there is no ultimate meaning in the universe then one is left to create his or her own meaning. If God does not exist, then there is no ultimate meaning in life. The entire universe and everything in it will one day die out in what scientists call the "heat death". In that case be a cannibal or a cardiologist - it ultimately matters not.
This section carries much more weight with a Christian- the idea of creating one's own meaning is foreign to the Christian mindset. The lack of "ultimate" meaning in life does not intimidate me, it challenges me to do my best to find that meaning on my own.
In conclusion, the Christian need not ever doubt his or her faith in the Risen Christ due to the arguments of atheism. Atheism is an inferior worldview which does not adequately explain the universe, the meaningful human heart, nor the historical data concerning our Lord.
This is what really interests me about the desire for reasoned arguments and evidence to the Christian- their intersection with faith. It seems to me that faith that needs to be bolstered by arguments and evidence is a very weak faith indeed- I wonder if, given a hypothetical situation in which their arguments and evidence are found by them to be lacking, would they give up that same faith?

Street Preaching Tips / Pyow pyow pyow hack hack hack hack!

The Evidence Bible has some tips for Christians who want to do some street preaching :

If you have other Christians with you, have them form an audience and look as though they are listening to your preaching. This will encourage others to stop and listen. Tell the Christians to never stand with their back to the preacher. I have seen open-air meetings when a fellow laborer is preaching for the first time, and what are the Christians doing? They are talking among themselves. Why then should anyone stop and listen if those in front of the speaker aren’t even attentive? It is so easy to chat with friends when you’ve heard the gospel a million times before. I have found myself doing it, but it is so disheartening for the preacher to speak to the backs of a crowd.

Also, instruct Christians not to argue with hecklers. That will ruin an open-air meeting. I have seen an old lady hit a heckler with her umbrella and turn the crowd from listening to the gospel to watching the fight she has just started. Who can blame them? Remember, the enemy will do everything he can to distract your listeners. Don’t let him. See 2 Timothy 2:24–26 comment.

Pyow pyow pyow... hack hack hack hack! means "let's get out of here" - for some putty-nosed monkeys (Cercopithecus nictitans). According to the Times, they are able to use a rudimentary form of language :

Although many animals communicate with one another using calls that have a particular meaning — usually a warning signifying the presence of a certain predator — none has been known to combine these alarm calls into sequences similar to those of human language.

The findings suggest that the rudiments of syntax, a basic component of human language, may be more widespread among primates than is generally thought, and could ultimately shed light on the evolution of this most distinctly human of traits.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Faith and Reason: Part 1

Last Sunday, I went to church.

DigitalChicken over at Internet Infidels had posted a message on that board announcing that he had been asked to appear as a member of an atheist panel for a class that's held at a church in the Dallas area. Upon reading that notice, I thought it might be fun to show up, if nothing else than to give some support to the invited atheists and to see what kinds of questions would be asked of them.

I showed up a little early and took more than a few minutes to find where the class was being held- the church complex is, as is typical of North Texas, very large. I was eventually directed to a room near the back of the complex, where I helped myself to doughnuts and orange juice. I recognized DC by his description, and walked over to introduce myself to him, and then took a seat near the front. The atheists, current and former members of the North Texas Church of Freethought, were warmly welcomed by all attending the class, including its leader, Kevin Harris. Kevin interviewed them for about an hour, asking them about their views on atheism in general, the perception of atheists in society, and the separation of church and state. All three had the ability to speak at length, and were treated very politely by Kevin.

After the first hour, Kevin opened the floor up to any of the class members who wanted to ask questions of the guests. Most were relatively predictable, including questions about intelligent design, the emotional appeal of religion, and the atheistic context of morality. That last issue was raised specifically by a young, athletic guy who asked, "If there are no eternal consequences, what's to stop me from raping or molesting children?" This was answered by DC, who asked in reply, "Let's say there aren't any consequences. Would you go out and rape somebody?" The questioner squirmed visibly for a few minutes, and tried to avoid answering the question, but eventually admitted that no, he would not. To which DC replied, "Then you don't need eternal consequences to be moral, do you?"

I spent some time afterwards talking with DC and the other atheists, after which Kevin walked up and introduced himself to me. He told me that the class is called, "Faith and Reason," and its purpose is to expose Christians at that church to more than just theology, and they plan on covering topics such as evolution, atheism, and science. They're also planning on screening Brian Flemming's "The God Who Wasn't There" in a few weeks. Kevin told me that I am more than welcome to come back, and I think I will. I'm extremely encouraged that there's a group of Christians that are open to hearing things that most others wouldn't dare to consider, and I'd like to observe the class and comment on it here. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting suckered by "Net Neutrality"

I have noticed that some atheist commentators got suckered in the concept of so-called "Net Neutrality" - which should really be called "Net Socialism".

All it is, is statists who demand that the state impose more regulations on a problem that state regulations caused in the first place. It is the government that gave companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth territorial monopolies over the lines - and now it is that monopoly power that gives AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth's threats so much weight.

Say "NO" to Net Socialism. And no, I am not paid by AT&T, Verizon, or BellSouth... but I sure wish I was ! Fuck that bullshit of people saying that being financed by someone makes you a puppet. EVERYONE is financed by someone. The question should be : is he right ?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Question of the Day #44

Image hosting by PhotobucketAnother tragic irony of Christianity is how it enforces a self-defeatist attitude. Christians must accept that they are no good and require forgiveness. I've never understood the appeal of this.

Why do so many people willingly persue this demeaning doctrine? What is the appeal of this?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The NT : Inspired ? / I Hate You

Behold ! Now you too can learn "How the New Testament Became the INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!" Alleluia !

Will hates you. And for good reason. You're such a loser !

When it comes to sponsoring politics and emitting national "pride", all you're saying is that you enjoy having other people tell you what is right and wrong for yourself. When you go to vote, you're forking over your values to someone else who does not share them. No one else holds your exact set of values but you can't seem to understand that fact. You agree, maybe, with someone on a few issues and then come to the conclusion that this someone should have the power to set the guidelines and boundaries for my way of life. For this, I hate you.

I second that, Will. I definitely second that.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Atheism as liberation theology

Continuing my series on the moral arguments for atheism, I now come to the second-to-last item : the moral superiority of atheism in empowering the destitute.

This may seem at first to be incongruous, as liberation theology is always associated with Lovey-Dovey Christianity. How does atheism help the destitute ? I'm sure many atheists believe that only intelligent or moral people are helped by rejecting religion, and that the masses, by and large, should keep the mental comfort they get from religious belief.

I think this is a very myopic perspective. For one thing, if atheism is moral, then it should be moral for everyone, not just certain people, as all human beings of sound mind are on the same moral footing. For another thing, if religion is exploitative of us, then how can it not be exploitative of others ? Do we not live in the same kinds of power relationships all around the world ? There is a maxim which says that happy people have no need of religion. If this is the case, then what use do unhappy people have for it ?

All collectivist belief systems adapt by being able to exploit the masses better than competing belief systems. Religions exploit human beings by imposing amoral and unnatural value systems on them, by making them believe extremely irrational things, by keeping them child-like, by sapping them of resources and taking over political power, by propping themselves up as authorities, in general, by being parasites upon the intellectual work of the individual.

In the past, religions used to exploit the work of its believers by inspiring them to waste incredible amounts of resources to build towering churches. Religion no longer inspires such zeal in the modern world. Yet it still exploits, as long as it persists.

Is individualistic atheism the real "liberation theology" ? I think so. Atheism tells the individual that he should follow his own individual values and control his own life. Atheism tells the individual that religion is a parasite that saps the masses of its strength. Atheism tells the individual that fulfillment - not utilitarian self-destruction - is the natural state of man. That is the essence of liberation.

Individualism in all realms seeks to free the masses from the yoke put upon them from the beginning of civilization. Atheism (and all forms of enlightened self-interest in general) seeks to end religious coercion and elevate individual cooperation as the basis of knowledge. As a market anarchist, I see this ideology as pursuing the same goal : seeking to end government coercion and elevating individual cooperation as the basis of society. Thus these two ideologies, one ontological and one political, together constitute what I see as the full "liberation theology" that can ensure the freedom of mankind for good.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

No post since Tuesday? Well I think I'll throw in some filler.

The Da Vinci Code opens in theatres on Friday. Anyone planning on seeing it? I hope to see it this weekend. If you see it, or plan on seeing it, post about it in the comments section here!

So far one critic from Time magazine gave it so-so reviews, but he did admit that it was faithful to the book. And Ron Howard is a hell of a director, so I think its still worth a ticket purchase myself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Open Mic

It's an open mic post. Post anything you want in the comments section !

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Question of the Day #43: BULLSHIT!

Image hosting by PhotobucketYou guys watch Bullshit, right? Have Penn & Teller ever been wrong?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Practical atheists and practical Christians

This entry is part of the War on Relativism.

I have mentioned before how many Christians are actually reasonable people who are good neighbours and do not try to impose their anti-values on everyone else. These people I call practical atheists. Although I may disagree strongly with their religion, I have no qualms against them. It is the committed Christians that I consider my enemies.

Do I like all atheists ? Definitely not. Is there such a thing as a practical Christian ? Sure. This is not to say that they are lying about being atheists. I don't think practical Christians are lying any more than practical atheists are. I have no doubt that many practical Christians hate religion as much as I do. And yet they follow a moral system of repression and submission, like fundamentalist Christians do. Their atheism is simply not enough to help them be good people.

There are atheists out there who are relativist whackjobs and try to subject the individual to whatever retarded concept they can come up with. There are even some atheists who believe that Christianity is a fine moral guide (if a recent UK survey is any guide, about half of the non-religious). They want to impose Christianity on children. Those atheists, I don't like at all. Whoever they are, they are despicable and deserve the worst.

I'm not going to point fingers and name names... you know who you are.

The real issue is not really that of religion but of morality. I don't really care if a Christian stays a Christian of his own free will - as long as he realizes what he's supporting. It is individualism that I'm promoting, and this is very much a moral issue. To try to make this an issue of secularism vs religion is justified to a certain extent but also serves to cloud the fundamental issue.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Lovey-Dovey Christianity vs Reality

As must be obvious by now, I write a great deal about morality. In fact, it is my primary preoccupation. I might, however, be accused of being altogether too concerned with the morality of "mean Christianity", the Christianity of a vengeful god and absolutist rules. And that perhaps the morality of "Lovey-Dovey Christianity", that of the peaceful hippie Jesus, is a superior alternative ?

This is, however, not the case at all. "Lovey-Dovey Christianity" (henceforth to be called LDC) is no more rational, and no more desirable, than "mean Christianity". To make this case, I will look at the two main moral principles of LDC : "love thy neighbour as yourself" and the Golden Rule.

1. "Love Thy Neighbour As Yourself"

LDCers lash on to Romans 13:9, which says :

The commandments (...) are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

It then goes on to say :

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

That's fine. Few people want to do harm to others, unless it's necessary. So this principle, while not original to Christianity, is not so bad. But what about "love" ? One thing which Paul does not examine at all is the nature of "love". What is "love" and why should we express it towards everyone ?

Love is, according to humanist psychology, a spontaneous affective movement towards beings or things which satisfy our values. While love is very complex, perhaps the most complex emotional phenomena, it has one thing in common : the feeling of well-being and happiness that the loved brings us, because we perceive it as being able to satisfy our values.

So how can we feel love towards all people ? There are people in the world whose value systems are quite opposed to ours, and some who even wish us harm. How do these people satisfy or fulfill our values ? If they do not, then how can we possibly love them ? It is impossible for anyone to love someone who wishes them harm. Even LDCers do not feel that way.

To love everyone is to love no one at all - such universality completely dilutes any meaning it could possibly have. It is difficult enough for a polygamist to keep a loving relationship with two people at a time, so how can we possibly imagine ourselves capable of loving everyone ?

Such love is not desirable, even if it was possible. A healthy cynicism about people's motives is always moral. When we abandon this, we abandon our desire for social truth. In a sense, the idea that "universal love" is a regressive concept can explain this problem. The regressive, childish view entails that everyone holds the same values, and that there is no moral difference between individuals. The Christian concept of "universal love" could only work if this was the case. Therefore it seems to me to be regressive.

2. The Golden Rule

In the Sermon on the Mount - perhaps one of the most evil moral discourses ever written - "Jesus" says :

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12)

The first problem with this principle is that it is wholly incompatible with other parts of Christianity, such as the God-believer relationship, the priest-believer relationship, the saved-unsaved relationship, the husband-wife relationship, the parent-child relationship... basically every power relation prescribed in the Bible. But LDCs probably profess not to subscribe to those anyway, so let's continue.

The main problem of the Golden Rule is the same as for "Love Thy Neighbour" : it is a regressive, childish rule. It assumes that every single individual in the world has the same values. Otherwise, how can I know that I should do to them what I would want ? What I want depends on my values. What they want depends on their values. Therefore, by asking us to assume uniformity, the Golden Rule is a golden ticket to total social warfare.

And the other problem, which is also similar to the ones for "Love Thy Neighbour", is that no one can follow such a rule. In fact, many people err in the opposite way of moral relativism, completely dissociating values between those of the past and those of the present, those of one country and those of another country. And so does Christianity, for that matter. And so is Lovey-Dovey Christianity - the product of moral relativism !

So what is the general problem with LDC ? Its problem is that it is still working within the framework of Christianity, which is amoral. Therefore, the only way it can be Lovey-Dovey is by starting from the premise that everyone is the same. The only rational position - that everyone has different values but exist in the same world with the same moral principles - is completely outside of the limited amoral framework of Christianity. To be a moral person, you have to completely leave Christianity.

The only difference is that in the dictatorship of Fundamentalism, everyone's sad, and in the dictatorship of LDC, everyone's smiling - because they get shot if they don't.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Transcript of Ray Comfort on our show

Zachary Moore has graciously made available his transcript of our interview with Ray Comfort. Great work, as usual. I love transcripts.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Question of the Day #42: Bad atheist arguments

What is the worst argument you've ever heard by an atheist?

Argumentum ad Ridiculum

Prepare to enter... the Fallacy Zone.
Since my last foray into the evangelistic embarrassment called “The Way of the Master” was so well received, I thought I’d treat Kirk and Ray to another rational critique, courtesy of GTA.

The infamous (and now-conceded) Argumentum ad Bananum used by Ray Comfort as an example of the “atheist’s nightmare” came from a first-season episode targeting atheists, called “The Beauty of a Broken Spirit.” Since evolutionary theory and atheism are inexorably linked by these guys, it made perfect sense to ridicule atheists by proxy through horrible strawman attacks on evolution.

Though they’re probably not quite so enthusiastic about it now, Ray and Kirk felt confident enough about their first foray into anti-evolutionism to warrant a full episode on the subject for their second season. I'll summarize the episode here, and provide you all with highlights of all the fallacies used by Comfort and Cameron to attack evolution. Notice that their use of fallacies is so egregious, that not only do they rack up quite a list, but it's also cumulative. That is, they start off with just the one and keep adding to it, so that by the end of the episode, they're using all of them at the same time.

Argumentum ad Projection

Kirk starts things off, in a parody of Rod Serling.
Kirk: You’ve traveled into another dimension. A dimension not only of contradiction and speculation, but one that defies logic and is based on blind faith. A journey into a nebulous land whose limits are that of the imagination.

Oh, he must be talking about Christianity, right? That seems like an odd way for an evangelist to sell his wares, don't you think? Of course, he's really talking about evolution, which sets the stage for the rest of the episode- a projection of Christianity's failings onto Science and specifically evolutionary theory.

Argumentum ad Strawman

Kirk and Ray want to take the opportunity early on to establish exactly what evolutionary theory is all about. Standing in their set, they announce:

Kirk: What you’re about to see was not planned. There was no script, there were no writers, there were no cameras, no production crew, no lighting, no graphic artists, and no editors. The entire program just happened. There was a big bang in our production studio, and here we are.

Ray: Could you believe that? Of course you couldn’t. Nobody in his right mind could. And yet many evolutionists would have us believe that in the name of Science. There was no Creator, no space, no energy, no matter. And then there was this Big Bang, and out came the sea and the land, and birds, flowers, and trees, elephants, giraffes, horses, dogs. And of course, man and woman. And this took countless millions of years.

Once again, we see projection of Christian doctrine, which is ironic because it's specifically the absurdity of the imagery- all of existence springing into being out of nothing- that is foundational to Christian doctrine, and is not Science. And of course to make the projection, Ray and Kirk have to horribly distort and misrepresent evolutionary theory into a strawman- the dead giveaway is when they mention the Big Bang as if it's relevant to evolution. My guess is they've been hanging out too much with Kent Hovind- it takes a lot of effort to confuse cosmology with biology.

Argumentum ad Falsification

Kirk: Okay. Here’s a simple lesson on evolution. The theory of evolution basically teaches that every living creature, like you and me, evolved from a single cell billions of years ago. So that means that every animal supposedly transformed into another kind of animal over time. Now, the big problem that evolutionists have is that they’re finding a huge gap in the fossil record. In other words, when archaeologists dig up the bones of these dead animals, they don’t find these transitional forms that help one animal transform into another animal. And if you don’t have those bones you can’t prove evolution ever happened. That’s what they’re calling the missing link, and there’s not just one, there would have to be thousands and thousands of those transitional forms. The truth is, they’re not missing at all. They never existed in the first place.

This is just a flat-out lie. Every fossil is a transitional form. And there are a lot of really obvious examples- Archaeopteryx, Ambulocetus, and a whole slew of fossil hominids, not to mention a couple that were just recently discovered, like Tiktaalik and Najash. So either Kirk is blatantly lying (and by Comfort Logic, that makes him a Liar, so I wouldn't trust anything he has to say about anything), or he's hopelessly ignorant of the truth. My guess is a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

Argumentum ad Imposition
Ray: Despite the fact that there is no evidence when it comes to the theory of evolution we’re continually told that primates are our relatives. So we decided we’d have a little fun and call a number of airlines and ask if we could have a “relative” fly on the plane with us.
There's a few minutes of footage of Ray at his desk, calling up ticket agents and chatting with them for a few seconds until he mentions that he wants to bring an orangutan on the plane with him. Obviously, this is against the policy of most companies, and Ray knows this. But he's just using their professional embarrassment to press his point about his own particular ideology.

Ray: Do you believe we come from apes?

Ticket Agent: That’s not something I can discuss in a work capacity, sir.
Argumentum ad Orangutan

Uh, Kirk? I think these two want some privacy.
Ray: There are some scientists who would have us believe that primates are just about as intelligent as human beings. So Kirk and I took and orangutan to lunch, to see if it was true.
First of all, who are these scientists, and what are their names? There's a huge amount of wiggle room Ray left for himself by saying, "just about as intelligent," and he exploits that to the utmost. His thesis is that, if evolution is true, an orangutan is as intelligent as a human, and will have the same table manners as a human.

Ray: In came the lunch. Now, you notice the salads. I said to bring a plain salad for the orangutan and put cheese and tomato on ours. Now that caused Bam-Bam to break the tenth commandment- he began to covet our lunch because ours is obviously better than his. So I decided I’d give him my lunch- I sacrificed my lunch for the seat- and you can see he’s quite happy there, he’s eating the cheese, he’s eating the tomato, it’s good healthy food- look at that. He’s even using a fork. Then he decided to go for Kirk’s lunch. He just grabbed it from the plate and began stuffing his mouth like some beast, untrained. Now it was about this point in time that I thought to myself, “This is not working. Thisis becoming a bit of a nightmare."
Of course Ray guaranteed the performance he wanted (and it was a performance, to be sure- the orangutan was a trained animal hired for the day- they could get it to do whatever they wanted) by giving the orangutan just lettuce. Lettuce sucks, tomatoes and cheese are much more tasty, and the orangutan was certainly smart enough to know that. Besides, primates have been shown to have a keen sense of fairness, one that likely derives from our own sense of morality and is a kind of primitive Moral Razor. So of course it wanted the better salad- it has enough sense to value good food (unlike, for example, Kirk and Ray, the two nitwits who let an ape take their food while they tried to read the Bible to it). I'd say that clearly the orangutan comes out of this situation looking a lot more intelligent that the two creationists, sad to say.

Argumentum ad Hominem

Once again, Kirk assures us that his rejection of evolution has nothing to do with his brain.
It inevitable, really. When you can't counter someone's arguments, you try to undermine their credibility. Fortunately for myself, Kirk and Ray's arguments are so feeble that I don't have to touch their credibility- they end up looking like fools all by themselves. Kirk starts the mud-slinging by attacking Darwin:

Kirk: The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man attaining to a higher eminence in whatever he takes up than woman can attain, whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.

Did you hear that? He’s saying that man has evolved to a higher eminence over women, in basically anything he decides to do. Whether it requires reason, imagination, or deep thought. Darwinian evolution at its core is not only male chauvinistic, but it’s also very racist. Charles Darwin wants us to believe that black people are less evolved than whites.

Ernst Chain - I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation.

Sir Arthur Keith – Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable.

Malcolm Muggeridge – I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it’s been applied, will be one of the great jokes in history books of the future.

Darwin, of course, was also a product of Victorian England, where everyone was at least a little bit racist and sexist. It's a non sequitur to conclude that because Darwin may have had some sexist ideas, that the whole of evolution is sexist. Ernst Chain is one of many scientists, like Michael Behe, who reject evolution for various reasons. Again, it does not follow that since one person disagrees with an idea, that idea is wrong. Sir Arthur is correct about evolution being unprovable- all scientific theories are. That is the nature of science, not a condemnation of evolution. And Malcolm Muggeridge was not a scientist at all, but a Christian journalist, so I fail to see the relevance of his opinion at all.

Argumentum contra Intellectum

We're always glad to help, Kirk.
Kirk: Here’s a very interesting fact. In the last couple of dozen times that I’ve witnessed to someone, I can honestly say that the subject of evolution has not come up even once. Why? Because I didn’t bring it up. I didn’t have to, and it doesn’t come up on it’s own because it’s often a non-issue. When you learn how to speak to a person’s conscience, and circumnavigate the intellect, the subject of evolution seems to disappear.

Ray: Now this is real good news for people like me. It means I don’t have to become an expert on the “fossil record” and it also means I don’t have to learn wordslike “Rhinorhondothackasaurus.”

Kirk: Now, are we trying to be anti-intellectual, or avoid talking about the subject of evolution? Of course not. That’s why we have The Evidence Bible. And this is packed full of teachings on the subject, and it is full of teachings from Charles Darwin, Stephen J. Gould, and William Huxley. And it will show you that the theory of evolution is unscientific. And it’s based on blind faith, so you don’t need to panic and upset yourself every time you read in the newspaper or see something on the news that talks about man evolving from apes. You can have confidence in God’s Word that we are made in God’s image. And true knowledge, even common sense, supports the Bible, and not the theory of evolution.

And here we end, with the odd concession that Kirk and Ray aren't experts at all, and in fact prefer not to bring up evolution at all when evangelizing. Imagine that! I wonder why they were so compelled to produce an entire episode of their show dedicated to debunking evolution? Oh, of course- to hawk their wares to the faithful. This is nothing new, of course- I'm reminded of Celsus' criticism of early Christians: "the following are the rules laid down by them. Let no one come to us who has been instructed, or who is wise or prudent (for such qualifications are deemed evil by us); but if there be any ignorant, or unintelligent, or uninstructed, or foolish persons, let them come with confidence. By which words, acknowledging that such individuals are worthy of their God, they manifestly show that they desire and are able to gain over only the silly, and the mean, and the stupid, with women and children... "

Saturday, May 06, 2006


On our recorded show, coming on our archives and on our FTM free downloads tomorrow evening, Ray Comfort officially concedes the famous Banana Argument to Hellbound Alleee !

Here is a transcript of the concession :

Alleee : I'm just saying that, that there are very few plants, and we argue - with some environmentalists a lot who don't believe in bioengineered food, because all, because most of the food that we eat of course is farmed, and is done through horticulture, and we've engineered these - these fruits and vegetables to be more tasty to us. So actually, the banana seems to be not, not made by God at this point, it's more like um... what, what came first, the banana or the hand ? [laugh] You know ? Man took the banana and made it better for man...

Ray Comfort : Okay, you've got that one. You can have the banana.


Listen to the whole show :

Dinosaur on primitivism / Religious whackjob

Dinosaurs talking about the morality of primitivism. I love this cartoon. They always have great irreverent philosophical discussions.

Melinda Barton, fucked-up religious whackjob, has published an article which has the atheists up in arms. Her retarded position is that atheists are just as bad as Christians, and that the following "outrageous claims" from atheists demonstrate it :

Outrageous claim number 1: Atheism is based on evidence and reason and is philosophically provable or proven. Atheism is a matter of thought not belief. In other words, atheism is true; religion is false.
Outrageous claim number 2: Since the natural is all that we have or can scientifically observe and/or measure, it is all that exists.
Outrageous claim number 3: All religion is oppressive.
Outrageous claim number 4: The eradication of religion in favor of secularism will bring about utopia.
Outrageous claim number 5: All religious people want to force you or convince you or coerce you to believe as they do.

Yea, okay, maybe she has a point there. After all, these claims are far more outrageous than anything that Christianity tells us. You know, like - atheists cannot be moral, supernatural fairies can pop everything into existence, we are all guilty of the crimes of our ancestors, a man can be executed to redeem other people's actions, there is a spark in our brains that makes us do things and flies away at death, "Jesus" came back from the dead, and perhaps the most reasonable proposition of all, that "God" can wipe out all life on Earth and still be a perfectly moral being...

Compared to all of this perfectly reasonable stuff, we atheists look downright whacky, right ?

Friday, May 05, 2006 redux

Well, after some nice linkage to me from (thanks again Vic), I decided to go take a little turn on that board and check out what people have to say... and so I started posting on a thread about immigration. Big mistake.

[In response to my rant against immigration laws] : (...) seemingly rational, thinking people can still revert into jabbering automatons who lash out with knee-jerk emotional reactions at the merest imaginary threat of their "racism" bogeyman, with moralistic zeal that only a closet Christian could muster.

you're a brain-washed member of the religion of anti-racism.

Fuck your morals, Francois. How could it be morally right for people to be denied protection behind a border if that is their collective will?[

Also, if "race" doesn't have anything to do with why your average Swede is different from your average Nigerian, it must has something to do with geography. That strikes me as a pretty legit reason for borders.

Je ne t'encouragerai pas à catégoriser de "raciste" quiconque qui a une opinion différente de toi sur les concepts de nations, de frontières et d'immigration - c'est très irrationel, et très semblable à la tendence des religieux d'égaler leur religion avec la moralité... [I do not encourage you to equate as "racist" anyone who has a different opinion than you on the concepts of nation, borders and immigration - it is very irrational, and very similar to the tendancy of religions to equate their religion with morality...]

I feel like I've stepped into a big pile of shit. Seriously Vic, how can you stand this ? URGH !

Please stop posting my blog on that board. Seriously.

Religion rains on the just and unjust alike

From a philosophical standpoint, the main attraction of religion is that it can ostensibly give man an absolute, timeless, and universal standard of justice. Even for a moral realist like me, this is an attractive claim prima facie. It would be like offering the Theory of Everything to a physicist in a nice leather-bound book. The Christian's claim that we reject God because we shirk its judgment does not in fact apply at all : who wouldn't consider such an offer ?

There's just one little problem... it's complete bullshit.

First of all, religion does not, and cannot, provide an absolute moral standard. It is a fact of memetics that a belief system like Christianity must adapt or perish. As social norms change, Christianity must also change to preserve its moral validity in the eyes of the people. And we indeed observe such a relativism in history. Not only do we observe it, but the numerous schisms in Christian sects in itself is proof positive of that relativism. If there was a singular unchanging moral scheme, then why should more than one sect exist at all ? There would be one way of doing things, and that way would correspond to one organization.

I imagine a Christian may reply that the existence of all these sects is the result of human error. But it is part of a well-designed scheme that it is self-corrective, like scientific progress for instance. So why isn't religion self-corrective ? Why is it the exact opposite - constantly dividing ?

Secondly, and this is a familiar argument to most atheists, the brand of ultimate justice meted out by the Christian god is not justice at all. We are being asked to believe that eternal bliss and eternal torment (at least, that's how Christians traditionally interpret the very vague Biblical descriptions) represents justice. What crime can possibly justify eternal torment ? What good action can possibly justify eternal bliss ?

The Christian once again objects at this point that humans deserve eternal torment because they offend an all-powerful being. So justice, in the Christian worldview, means that one must be punished proportionally to the power of the "victim" ? Should killing a hobo be blameless and swearing at a president earn one an automatic execution ? Once again, this is not justice.

Thirdly, the fundamental doctrines of Christianity are the clearest examples of injustice you could ever find :

* The concept of "original sin", central to the need for Christianity, is an evil done by the first human which somehow applies to every human being.
* Salvation is based on the premise that some people, by virtue of belonging to the correct religion, are "saved" while everyone else is not. This salvation is then reified as the highest form of justice.
* Salvation came to the world thanks to "Jesus", who died for other people's sins. Somehow a man's execution (and why an execution ?) is supposed to redeem other people's sins, perhaps by magically transposing "Jesus"' sinless nature on other human beings.

Finally, the morality of Christianity is alien to modern justice systems. No moral rule in the Bible is echoed in the laws of any Western country. Religious believers are aliens to the Western values and the modernity of the countries in which they live.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy National Day of Reason

Happy National day of Reason to all Americans reading this blog. If you're such a loser that you don't have the balls to stand up to Christians, this is the one day of the year when you don't have to feel scared doing so. Take advantage of it.

The Onion strikes again / "Atheism is liberating"

From The Onion : "Pedro Martinez Credits Success To Lucky Midget, Sun God, Magic Beads".

In an interview following his 200th career win Monday night, Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez said he never could have reached this milestone without the aid of his lucky midget, the Egyptian sun god Ra, and every person and thing who helped him along the way, including an enchanted necklace, former British prime minister Arthur Neville Chamberlain, and a talking whale who lives off the coast of his native Dominican Republic that only he can communicate with.

The Arizona Daily Star brings us a great editorial from Gilbert Shapiro : "Atheism is a liberating world view".

Atheists are continually amazed that Americans can reason with such clarity and critical thinking on most aspects of life except when it comes to God and religion.
God, faith, religion, and the supernatural are, in the atheist's world view, the causes of the delusional wishful thinking that has at best, wasted man's time and at worst, been responsible for his most awful behaviors.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Precalculus for Christian Schools / What about Hiroshima ?

This is the kind of thing you have to be deprogrammed from : "Precalculus for Christian Schools".

"A line can be described either by its slope (a ratio) or by its inclination (an angle). These terms describe the deviation from the horizontal, but the word inclination also has a non-mathematical meaning. Without Christ, man is inclined to sin. The Word of God should shape our attitudes (inclinations)."

"If you are given the length of two sides and the angle measure opposite one of those sides, you can use the law of sines to solve the triangle. However, this does not always determine a unique triangle. As a result, it is called the ambiguous case. Ambiguous means open to multiple interpretations. Some people say that you can interpret the Bible in any way that you want. However, there is no ambiguity in the Bible."

"Now extend it to eternity: (the limit as x approaches infinity) 80/(80+x) = O. In other words, this life is very insignificant in light of eternity. It is no wonder James said that life is "vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

I mentioned before that many people think that war is not a moral issue. Now the crackpots at the Ayn Rand Institute are saying that nuking Hiroshima was a great job :

Facing extermination, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. The invasion of Japan was cancelled, and countless American lives were saved. The Japanese accepted military occupation, embraced a constitutional government, and renounced war permanently. The effects were so beneficent, so wide-ranging and so long-term, that the bombings must be ranked among the most moral acts ever committed.

This is the kind of thing that reminds me why I'm not an Objectivist any more. The kind of insanity that holds that blowing up cities is "among the most moral acts ever committed" does not deserve discussion.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Question of the Day #41

Can politically liberal atheists be as anti-scientific as Christians?

For example, a study conducted last July in Chicago, Illinois revealed that bisexual orientation actually does not exist in men. However, most liberals have rejected the findings in favor of bi-positive, politically correct dogmatism.

Erm... I suppose I just answered my own question again, so I guess the only thing left to do is end with a statement.

If we ever expect creationists to accept science, then it seems to me that we need to start getting liberals to adhere as well.

Here's a question: Do you think it'll be easier to get through to liberals than conservatives?

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Big Bad Realists

This entry is part of the War on Relativism.

Apparently we realists are a violent bunch, who seek nothing but to impose our morality on everyone. We want to decide everything for everyone, and we're just generally mean people.

Now, there are a few little problems with this argument. The first problem is that, as I have detailed before, non-coercion is an important virtue. While a realist has no reason to impose anything on anyone, relativists routinely sanction and even try to justify violence. Also, as a market anarchist it would be rather stupid of me to support a religious or statist "moral authority".

This complaint, however, touches to the very nature of the problem - the fact that morality has been co-opted by religion and the state to such an extent that they are now inseparable in most people's minds. Since both promote morality as a means to keep people in line and in agreement, what they propose are really lists of interdictions with no causal basis. Their morality, insofar as there is one at all, is purely negative and repressive.

This is not what morality is about. The purpose of morality is to be a guide to fulfilling one's values rationally. This is accomplished, not by ordering us on what not to do, but rather by showing us what should be done if one wishes to achieve a certain result (with the final result being happiness - a general fulfillment of values). Orders are pointless if they do not have a causal basis - at best they are seen as inconveniences, at worst they destroy lives.

Given this, how can morality be enforced on anyone ? Morality is a tool to aid individual decision, not to impose arbitrary obedience. It is useless without a causal basis. So morality can only propagate by persuasion.

Statements such as "don't kill" or "don't work on Sundays" only qualify as moral statements in the most general and loose sense (i.e. they provide a way to judge some actions). They do not fit any existing value or virtue, and provide no causal basis for rational evaluation.

But most importantly, they are absolutist statements - which is to say that they concern categories of action instead of values. Depending on the context, a category of action may be good or bad, so such categories cannot be good or bad in themselves. For example, "killing" can be vital in cases of self-defense, morally irrelevant in the case of a mosquito, and extremely negative in cases of murder. The terms "self-defense" and "murder" incorporate context in them, but "killing" does not. So there is no way for us to say whether any single instance of killing is "good" or "bad", unless we are made aware of the context.

This, therefore, is the biggest difference. Absolutism tries to enforce obedience, disguised as simplistic orders. Relativism also tries to enforce obedience, disguised as subjective tolerence. While relativists like to portray themselves as "not imposing anything on anyone", they are indeed imposing their own arbitrary constructs on the individual, and they are ready to do so by threat or violence if necessary. Just look at the so-called "anarchists" who take to the streets to promote cultural isolation and are ready to burn down as much as they can to prevent changes to foreign "cultures" (which means : to oppress the natural values of the individual).

It's important to remember that we are the ones with the moral high ground. We're not the ones promoting coercion and violence. Our enemies are. That's why we must fight relativism ideologically - so that it doesn't come back to fight us physically.