Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is Ghandi in Hell?

Despite what the Bible says about "salvation," apparently American Christians are more willing to forgive people for not accepting Christ than God is:

The most striking divergence from orthodoxy, however, was first revealed in the 2007 US Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. That comprehensive survey of 35,000 Americans found a majority of Christians saying that people of other religions can find salvation and eternal life.

So they've figured out what atheists already knew: sending good people to Hell is bad!  But if you don't have to believe in Christ to get out of going to Hell, they why do you have to believe in Christ at all?  It's not just everyday Christians anonymously admitting their disbelief, there's a controversial pastor preaching this message too:  (I love his quote that Christian theology teaches that Jesus rescues his followers from God!)  He wants to believe that Ghandi made it to Heaven.  He also acknowledges how messed up Christianity is, and then he love-bombs.

I think the love-bombing and social network of Christianity outweighs all other considerations for a lot of Christians.  I overheard a coworker say that he gets really anxious when he travels unless he knows there's a church nearby.  That's crazy.  If he's one of God's children and God is everywhere, what difference does it make if there's a church around the corner?  The difference is that Christianity is a salve for his anxiety disorder, not a pathway to Heaven.  After all, if Heaven is so great, why not just off himself and hurry upstairs before he thinks some heretical thought and ruins his chances?

Evangelicals may be their own undoing.  There are so many splinter "denominations" and start-up churches founded by one person (like Rob Bell's) that people can pick and choose whichever one they like, or make up their own theology and appoint themselves the head of a new church.  Any storefront will do.  I've seen a jillion of these.  The megachurches are the opposite end of the spectrum.  They're not under the thumb of a central authority, either.  Even the Southern Baptist conference is losing its grip.  Mean-spirited bigotry may finally be driving believers away, but they can't let go completely, so they hook up with nicer churches.  And these new churches provide what people who no longer need to feel "chosen" need for psychological fulfillment:  a social network, a feeling of being loved, and some guidance on what constitutes right and wrong.

I admire the trend.  These people will be easier to live with than the monsters who are trying to undermine the First Amendment, turn the military into a Christian crusader army, and set science back by hundreds of years.  Now if only they will take on their nastyass cousins in court and get them to STFU about the "Christian Nation," maybe we can move on as a culture.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Richard Dawkins vs William Lane Craig: Not Happening (YAY)

Richard Dawkins has decided not to debate William Lane Faith-is-properly-basic Craig, and good for him.  Of course, Christians are taking this as a sign of weakness:

Craig, one of the nation's leading Christian apologists, has debated many atheists on the rationality of faith and the existence of God including Sam Harris, Bart Ehrman and Richard Taylor. His upcoming United Kingdom tour has evidently intimidated Richard Dawkins as he has continually refused to debate Craig when he visits his home turf this October.

Recently, Polly Toynbee, president of the British Humanist Association, also pulled out of a scheduled debate with Craig on the existence of God. A war of words has broken out between Dawkins and his critics, who see his refusal to take on the American academic as a sign that he may be losing his nerve.

Famous atheist Sam Harris once described Craig as "the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists."

Dawkins has already shot WLC down:

I agree completely not just about WLC, but about the average believer: it's an emotional cause for them, not rational at all and therefore, not subject to debate or rational discourse of any kind.  They appeal to emotion at every turn.  In essence they believe because it fulfills an emotional need for them, and they don't want people saying their fairy tales are false.

I first heard of WLC at the blog of Randall Rauser, who has an advanced degree in bullshit apologetics, and seemed to think that his vapid responses to his atheist responders actually had merit.  Failing to convince us that love of poetry, love of love, and nice feelings in general are sufficient to justify faith in his deity, he would cite William Lane Craig and another loser by the name of Alvin Plantinga.

Their main argument seems to be, it's nice to believe in something nice, so it is therefore true.  Of course, I got that second-hand because if their fanboy, Randy, couldn't sell them to me I didn't think it was worth reading their stuff.  I did watch some of WLC's speeches and debates on youtube and I just came away shaking my head.  He really sounds like a boxer on the ropes, defending religion on the basis of intuition, and yet people say he's a great debater.

About debates... apparently you can win or lose debates based on parrying and thrusts of a verbal sort, kind of.  So if you throw out a bunch of thrusts and your opponent only handles a few of them and sidesteps the rest in the interest of time, that is apparently a "victory."  Waving your sword in air and never actually nicking or stabbing your opponent somehow makes points. 

I think the wins and losses of debates should depend on the number of onlookers whose minds have been changed.  You could do before and after surveys of the audience, and any nudge in the average score would determine the victor.  What seems to be going on in the theist-atheist debate scoring is that people who belonged to debate clubs in high school extrapolate their useless exercises into the adult world of deciding what to believe. This goes for partisans on both sides, most of whom coincidentally give the "win" to their side but who sometimes give it to the other side.  If you are an atheist, and you watch a debate between an atheist & a theist and you are still an atheist at the end of it, the theist loses!  It doesn't matter if someone lost 'points.'

Dawkins going to an evangelical college to debate during an evangelical convention against their biggest idol would indeed be a waste of time due to cognitive dissonance.  The audience would be packed with people who have made it their life's work to bullshit themselves into believing that believing is good (forget whether it's true).  Cognitive dissonance goes like this:  I invested a helluva lot into this Christianity thing, so it has to be true, or else I've wasted my life. 

I squish them to
give them a
second chance
Atheists, even activist atheists, have much less investment.  For one, we haven't had to lie to ourselves.  For another, we haven't traded a boring life in the here-and-now for an even more boring life in the hereafter.  If we're wrong, the odds of which are seriously low, there's no particular guarantee that there's an afterlife or that the Christian version is correct.  WE haven't thrown in our lot with one fairy tale over all others.  Most of us are familiar with several fairy tales.  Losing out on the Christian one is a one-in-several shot, versus the Christian wager which is all-or-nothing.  I've led a relatively good life, so if Buddhism is true, I might come back as a richer, whiter, beautiful woman with a kickin body. 

Christians, on the other hand, have been arrogant in believing their selfish theology is correct, so they might come back as cockroaches or tsetse flies.

Back to the "properly basic" idea.  WLC says that belief in a god is "properly basic," which in philosophical terms basically means it gets a pass.  These beliefs don't need evidence, but they do.  And they're valid unless they're not.  Grab some dramamine and check out his podcast on "properly basic" crap:


Monday, September 26, 2011

Gideon Bibles in the Doctor's Office Waiting Room

Yes.  There were Gideon Bibles on the waiting room side tables at my doctor's office.  My doctor is leaving this practice and I am following him to his new practice, but I've been sick for a few days and I really needed to see him today.

But since I didn't plan to stay with the practice I didn't mind being seen to open the Bibles and write in them. But since I didn't have to wait very long I only had time to write under the Gideon imprint:

"Purveyors of Bullshit"

When I find them in hotel rooms I have more fun with them, but I had to settle for this.

But seriously, WTF?  Why would they allow this?  It's a general practice, not an emergency room!

Oh yeah, because this is fucking Indiana.  Fucking insane.

Friday, September 23, 2011

farts you can't trust them

"farts you can't trust them"

This came up as a search that brought someone to this blog.  I don't know what this person was looking for, but I can say this:  if you live with dogs, you will often think you have a doggy pile to clean up, then upon investigation you realize it was just a fart.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Selfishness of Christianity

One of the defenses we often hear about Christianity is how many good works have been done in Christ's name.  Of course, they dismiss the evil done in Christ's name because the perpetrators were not "true" Christians, or because it was so long ago it doesn't matter anymore.  Still, the generosity and good works of Christianity have indeed enriched the world.

I'll grant that hospitals, programs for the poor, and other social services are good deeds... as long as prosletyzing isn't the price the recipients have to pay and the good works really are good (More about Mother Teresa in another post)

At the root of these good works, though, is selfishness.  The motive isn't true empathy for suffering but a guarantee of a place in Heaven.  A secondary though possibly more powerful motive is to be seen to be doing good works.  If you're doing good things you must be a good person, right?  And if you do it in a group and happen to have an enjoyable time with your friends-in-Christ well that's just icing on the cake.  You'd work on a Habitat for Humanity house in a crappy neighborhood on your own, wouldn't you?  You don't need a church bus to take you there.  And then there is the whole doing-what-Jesus-says line.  Jesus said feed the poor, so obedient Christians will do it because he says to do it.  That's hardly an unselfish reason.  Getting in good with your savior, whose blessing will keep you out of hell.  Very nice.

The worst example of selfishness, I think, is prayer for some earthly benefit for oneself or one's loved ones.  A friend from Houston recently posted to Facebook thanking friends for their prayers.  They finally had rain.  Hallelujah! 

Rather than forward her selfish post to my friend from nearby Bastrop, who continues to be traumatized by the huge fire there, I sent a PM with a general skeptical view of prayer.  I also pointed out that if God was so good, why not send the recent hurricane that was a near miss all the way over to Bastrop to put out or prevent that fire?  Not to mention, why did God allow Texas to endure such a dreadful drought in the first place?  And why did he ignore Perry's prayers and that big prayer hoopla thing in Houston, but answer the prayers of my friend's friends around the country?  Why did God wait so long?  And speaking of timing, July & August are usually the dryest months in Texas, and coincidentally, God answered her friends' prayers in September, when it's much more likely for Texas to receive rain.

Well, I did make some of those points in our exchange but what I bit my tongue about was the utter selfishness of believing that God will answer prayers for better weather just for her.  Apparently none of the people who lost everything in the Bastrop fire had any friends who prayed for them, or else their homes would have been spared.

Chrisitans are also selfish in their entire theology of redemption.  In theory, you just have to be a believer to be spared the punishment of Hell.  This in itself is supremely selfish.  Character doesn't really matter if being "born again" or "saved" or baptized is all it takes.  Too often they write off the other Christians who don't live up to charitable or even moral standards as not true Christians, but then if pressed they have to admit that the standards for who can be called a Christian are very low.

John 3:16 makes it pretty clear:  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

How nice for them.  That's all they have to do, just believe.  Fuck everyone else, and fuck the people who didn't get rain this month.  They didn't deserve it anyway.

Evangelicals have a bit of a claim in wanting everyone to be saved, but salvation is still a selfish concept.  What about "Do some charitable things and you'll be repaid with thanks from the people you help?"  If that's all there is to missionary work, some might do it anyway.  That's because unselfishness is as much a part of human nature as selfishness is.  This is why they fear evolution -- it might show that living in a community requires a quotient of unselfishness from every member, or at least a big enough plurality to keep the community going.  And if humans are capable of being generous, kind, and helpful without a God to tell them to do it, what do they need God for?  And if rain happens whether you pray or not, why pray?

The answer is: selfishness.  They may even know their prayers are worthless, but they do it to remind themselves how special they are compared to everyone else.  It's sickening.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Kindle Book List

I just got a Kindle for my birthday.  Wheee!  I'm saving my pennies though so instead of buying books I'm looking for good free reads.  I will consider all suggestions (except those from trolls of course)

I've already downloaded three books by Darwin, Bertrand Russell's Why I am not a Christian, Payne's Age of Reason, and some fiction.  I'm also storing up some non-Christian religious texts, like the Bhagadvita and the Tao Te Ching, and a book on Roman & Greek mythology.  (why their beliefs are 'myths' and everyone else's count as "religious texts" doesn't make sense to me)

For future reference I'd consider suggestions for books I'd have to pay for, but I won't buy them for awhile.

Well? Suggestions anyone?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Charity" loses USDA food for refusing to stop prayers

The State of Illinois insisted on compliance with the Constitution and they didn't back down.  Good for them!  If this religious organization wants to continue forcing hungry people to be subjected to prayer in exchange for food distribution that's their right, but the government doesn't have to pay for it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Christianity and Gullibility Go Together

Michele Bachmann's attack on the HPV vaccine was probably politically motivated but there's an outside chance she may really mean what she says.  After all, she married an idiot who believes homosexuality is a mental illness that can be 'cured.'

OTOH she may be stupid like a fox.  The Tea Partiers would have been satisfied with a libertarian attack on Perry's order to have all 12-year-old girls vaccinated against the cancer-causing virus, but Bachmann's rhetoric in an interview after the debate took things to a whole 'nother level of dishonesty:

Yes, of course it violates liberty, when you have innocent little 12-year-old girls that are being forced to have a government injection into their body. This is a liberty interest that violates the most deepest personal part of a little child. And it violates the parental rights, because what we understand is, again, this was an executive order that mandated that every little 12-year- old girl had to have this vaccination. And then you'd have to opt out.

...The problem is, again, a little girl doesn't get a do over. Once they have that vaccination in their body, once it causes its damage, that little girl doesn't have a chance to go back. So you can't just say you're sorry.

Sounds a lot like rape doesn't it?  She makes it sound like the vaccine is intra-vaginal and breaks the hymen.   It's government rape of virgin girls!!!!!!

What a dishonest whore, and I have not seen any outcry about this. As a woman I'm offended that she feels that the STD nature of the virus has given her the right to couch her statements in these terms.  Does she think that all the little boys and girls who got the measles vaccine were also violated in "the most deepest personal part" of a child? The injections are given to the same part of the body.

There's lots of attention to a claim that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation... a claim made by a stranger and never backed up.  Her claim has about as much merit as any other anecdotal claim, and any parent who makes a post hoc claim should be presumed to be in error until proved otherwise.  This is the same post hoc error made when parents linked vaccination to autism diagnosis.  Besides the original "study" being discredited, autism diagnosis can be made earlier than the scheduled vaccination that had been blamed.  So I guess now we blame other conditions on it.

I can see why a parent might opt out from a vaccine that's a private health risk rather than a public risk.  And of course all parents believe their children will be virgins until marriage.  (Those are the kids most likely to get pregnant at 15 of course)

The pundits are attacking her insane claim that mental retardation could result rather than her sly sexualization of a sound preventative health measure.  She probably has her feet up on a coffee table somewhere, and she's laughing her ass off because she knows that the response of smart people who paid attention is completely irrelevant.  Her target audience is too stupid to know whether she's being attacked fairly or unfairly.  They live a life of willing gullibility when it comes to claims without evidence and an instinctive mistrust of smart people.   Her audience isn't watching pundit shows, except maybe Bill O'Reilly.  No, they'll be tuned in to NASCAR news or perhaps they'll check in on "Teen Mom" to see if anyone they know is on it.

Leave it to Dusty!

A point of view CNN will never air:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Teh 9/11 Stoopid

Another stupid Facebook post:

As 9/11 approaches....I would like to share this prayer
Now I lay me down to less terrorist this world does keep...with all my heart I give my those in uniform regardless of serve our country and serve it well...with humble hearts your stories as I rest my weary eyes...while freedom rings our flag still give your all, do what you must...with God we live and God we trust....Amen!

If they trust God, why send military overseas?  Shouldn't God just smite all the enemy with pestilence and locusts and earthquakes and hurricanes and uhhhhh high unemployment rates.... uhhhh nevermind

At least they didn't insist on friends doing a c&p of this drivel, but I just wanted to!

So ... ahem ...  In the past ten years, we have experienced murder, mayhem, droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes, and a few terroristic attacks by Muslims.  And a few by Christians.  And a few that we still haven't figured out the motives for.

And yet we still waste our lives on Facebook and Blogger and youtube as if we're not all individually living under the Sword of Damocles.

Which is nice, because we're not.  We have always had a precarious existence.  There have always been plots against "good guys" by "bad guys."  The story of human history is filled with this kind of stuff, and coincidentally, so is the Bible, which is 100% human.

We don't live our lives looking over our shoulders because you just can't live that way.  That's why we sometimes get caught with our pants down, as we did on 9/11 and at Pearl Harbor and as I did a couple of months ago when a deer ran in front of my car.  Paranoia is not healthy.  We have an innate sense of not worrying about events with low odds other than taking ordinary precautions.  I wear a seat belt despite a 20+ year driving history without an accident.  It wasn't paranoid to wear the seat belt, and then when I hit that deer... well I didn't actually need the seat belt because the deer got the worst of it, but I'm glad things could have been worse but not worser.

If we were tasty little rodents surrounded by owls and felines and all manner of predator, we would be justified being on edge all the time.  Likewise, if we were less fertile and less plentiful.

The world has too many people and we're getting in each other's way and on each other's nerves.  99% of us could be wiped out and the species would probably continue with the genetic material of that 1% left, assuming they could find each other.  "God" wiped out humanity before.  Why pray to him now, when we've gone forth and multiplied a little too much?

Instead of praying, we should take reasonable precautions and watch out for ourselves and others.  We should think a little more about how others are feeling and thinking.  We should be aware of how many ways we're vulnerable without being ridiculous about it.  We should be humble about our shortcomings and the ways we affect other people without being doormats.

This article is both chilling and thought-provoking:

The author makes the point that what made the 9/11 terrorists so dangerous was their arrogance, a "sin" that isn't unique to Muslims.  Chirstian terrorists are just as arrogant and just as dangerous, and they may be lurking around the corner or brewing some overblown resentment against people they consider the "enemy."

I was as disturbed as anyone on 9/11, perhaps more because of having lived in both New York and DC.  But what disturbed me more was the arrogance of the Christians around me who seemed so sure that God was on our side, and that all muslims were evil.  I was in Texas at the time, but it's not a Texas thang to be a black-or-white thinker.  The effect of 9/11 on the psyche really disturbed me, and the reminders of the event kind of make me sick to my stomach.  I feel for the people who were there and who were hurt directly, but the people who went a little nuts around the country kind of scare me.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Thanks to NWA's ignorant post, I felt compelled to find something that NWA could understand regarding speciation. I think this excellent video should do the trick:

For a fuller discussion of macro-evolution, Talk Origins has a series on predictions based on evolutionary theory and the results that confirm the theory.

Note: A theory is not the same as "hypothesis," which is a preliminary guess. A "theory" in science is a concept that explains observed phenomena, and which can be further tested with more observations. So far, observations by trained biologists have confirmed and refined the theory of evolution in many ways. Observations by Christian pseudo-scientists have been debunked by responsible actual scientists. Note: these scientists are not "Darwinists." They are scientists - they trust the scientific method to add to human understanding, and do not revere Darwin at all except in the same way they revere any scientist who has proposed a new theory that has stood the test of time. They are not "Darwinists" any more than they are "Newtonists" or "Einstinists."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Examples of Evolution

Of course the only reason I would post this on a blog about atheism is that some Christians cling to the idea that Christianity (or more accurately, Judaism) explains scientific "mysteries."   These "mysteries" were only mysterious to the bronze age mythology writers, not to modern scientists, but science is hard to read and fairy tales are easy to read.  That's the real reason they cling to their mythology: it's easier to imagine a sky fairy with a magic wand whipping up the universe, planets, and all the species of earth than it is to take the time to learn a little about what people have been deducing from evidence for a few hundred years.

Some of this might be a bit hard to read, but persevere.  It's easier in the end than trying to rationalize that science proves "intelligent design" or throwing out rationality altogether.  After all, if you disagree with evolution through natural selection you have to throw out modern antibiotics and vaccines, and then you die.  We might miss you, though we won't miss your stupidity.

DNA proof of why there are still monkeys!

The Whale evolved from land-dwelling mammals, and there are "transitional" fossils to prove it.

The eye evolved through natural selection.  It is not irreducibly complex or magical.  (There's a video at that site so even the stupidest Christians can understand it)

Humans evolved from other bipedal species, which in turn evolved from other primates.   DNA evidence confirms thisYes, it does!  (This last one's harder to read but it's the source of the cool chart to the right)

If you really want to "teach (yourself) the controversy," check out the responses to creationist claims at  My favorite stupid argument is the "argument from incredulity."  It's the argument that because you can't (or won't) believe something is true therefore it's not true.  Hey, I'd like to believe that I'm the Princess of the Universe and that I can smite anyone who zips into the parking place I have my eye on.  But I don't believe that because I'm not psychotic.  The same argument is put forward by UFOlogists and other believers of utter nonsense.  It's as sophisticated as putting your fingers in your ears and singing "la la la la I can't hear you!"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lewis Black on Creationism

From The Daily Show. He dishes the dish on Ken Ham and Kent Hovind. If you can stomach clips of these two ignorant chimps this segment is priceless: