Monday, November 21, 2011

Jesus is a moral failure.

Every so often, I’m confronted by people who want to tell me that this jesus character was the picture of morality.  They want me to think that this guy was the best example of a human that ever walked the earth.  Now, I don’t think for a second that there even WAS a jesus, but if he did exist, he was an asshat.

First, let me say that if jesus was a fictional character, he has lots of competition for this, “best of the best human” award.  As far as superpowers go, even the Wonder Twins knock jesus out of the park.  Jesus walked on water?  One of the Wonder Twins changed into water!  Jesus healed the sick?  The other Wonder Twin changed into an eagle!  Oh, but they weren’t human.  That’s a good point.  Wolverine is human.  He heals like crazy. 

But to jump away from comics, if jesus was real, he still loses.  Anyone who has not condemned people who don’t like them to eternal torment is better than jesus.  That makes Hitler more moral than the savior.  Nice, huh?

But even if we just look at the saving part, jesus is ethically compromised.  We are supposed to believe that this guy has taken upon himself the weight of the sins of all people for all time.  This sounds suspiciously like a scapegoat.  Now, scapegoats are not a moral practice, right?  You know the origin of the scapegoat, no?  In summary, the people of a village would symbolically place upon a goat the weight of the sins of the village.  Then the animal was lead out of the village and killed.  The sins left with the goat, and the village would be safe from the retribution from some petty deity.  Jesus is a scapegoat.  That’s not ethical.

Our morals have evolved past stupid scapegoats.  We understand that if you err, you cannot place the responsibility on a goat.  You messed up; you deal with it.  If I get a jail sentence, I cannot pay anyone to serve it for me.  That’s not allowed, and that is the deal you MUST take from the savior.  The deal offered to you in christianity is a scapegoat, and that is not an ethical practice.

We have moral issues today, but they will not be solved by invoking a Bronze Age book.  They not be solved by invoking an imaginary deity.  They will be solved by you and me.  God isn’t here; weare.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest blog: How an Atheist finds meaning and purpose in life

In my debate blog, a friend of mine posted an extraordinary response to the question, "How does an atheist find meaning and purpose in life?"  This is Mande Hubbard's response.  If you like it, tell her so on her facebook page.

No purpose to life? The first assumption is that we gain understanding of life through evolution, which we do in a biological and scientific manner, but if you're speaking to a philosophical perspective, evolution doesn't address that.

 What I will say is that nowhere in evolution is there 'no purpose' to life, nor is there purpose. Evolution is not an entity. Evolution is a method or system by which organisms continue on, natural selection is the way that this works most effectively in a changing and stable environment (some environments are stable, some are not, see the red queen hypothesis for more information regarding the outcome of different environments on parasites, asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction). The purpose of life from a purely biological standpoint, is to survive and produce viable offspring that can further your genetic makeup for generations. So in essence, the biological standpoint would place the continuation of one's genetic makeup as the sole purpose. If you mean to ask what the purpose of life is on a grand scale, I ask...does it matter? This is my first question because you can't delve into purpose and meaning on a grand scale immediately. We have to conclude whether or not it matters what the end result of all that is and will be, is important, or if there would need to be a purpose. To that I say it doesn't matter. Whether the universe has no sentient purpose, or does, is irrelevant to us, because we are so small and insignificant that we will never really take part in anything on such a massive scale. Our minute lives will not change or alter if we discover that the universe and all of time has no purpose. Nor will our lives change if we discover that the universe and all of time has a complex purpose. Our lives are small in comparison to time. Humans live, on average, about 80 years. When we examine the time line of the universe, 80 years is merely a microscopic piece of time that on its own is meaningless, in the way that a speck of dirt is meaningless to the whole of the earth. It would be pointless for a speck of dirt to base it's life or existence on the purpose of the earth, as it's presence is neither felt nor missed. So if you're asking what evolution (because you seem to think we derive all values from evolution for some reason) has planned and what is the purpose of all time and the universe, I say it's irrelevant. A curiosity, certainly, and one I think we should examine, but it's not going to alter or change the fabric of anyone's life if we discover it.

But let's move that and ask the question in a smaller scale. What is the purpose of life on earth? We should also define by what we mean when we say purpose. Do we mean, what is the value of everything on the earth in the context of the whole picture? Where does each individual life lead? In that we have to further define purpose. Do we mean, what is the ultimate end result of the earth? What does each life before that moment mean in the context of the end result? How does each individual life contribute to the end result?

Already we're having trouble defining such an abstract idea. Sure we can examine the dictionary to define it for us, but then we run into further problems. The best form of the definition which will give us a more concrete understanding of purpose essentially defines purpose as a goal, or intended result. This is going to pose problems because 'intended' implies consciousness (something we're not entirely sure even we have). Consciousness implies sentience (again, a loose term). So the problem with the concept of 'purpose' is that we don't really know what 'purpose' is, even in a definitional way, we still come to a very loose, abstract idea that is difficult to define in a way that we can all agree.

So in a way you could say that evolution has no purpose, largely because it is not sentient and has no intended goal. That still confounds problems because you're implications are that somehow we attribute evolution to the basis of our ethics (I don't say morality because I see ethics and morality as the same, except that morality is religious and ethics are secular). This is a false idea. Evolution does not work on ethical behavior, it functions to maximize behavior that is conducive to the spreading of genes from one generation to another. More specifically, it further behavior in the individual which provides the most 'fitness' (which is measured generally by how many offspring survive and reproduce, in a basic sense). Evolution then builds on behaviors that are both ethical and not ethical, because evolution is amoral (not IMmoral, A moral, meaning it has no morality much like the wind, or water, or gravity). Ethical behavior can only be exhibited by sentient beings (again, a loose term, and not going to extrapolate it further to define sentience), so evolution can not have ethical behavior. It can only create and propagate the best ideas for survival, such as, the motivation different ethnic groups have to eradicate each other due to limited resources.

My point is, evolution is not the basis for ethics and therefore not the basis for the purpose of life, because it has no stake in it. It's the same as using gravity as a way to define purpose and ethics. They don't fit together. Now we can examine the evolution of ethical behavior in animals and find out why ethical behavior is programed (we have done this already) and utilize the human and animal behavioral models to maximize ethical behavior so that all can benefit from the positive aspects of the universe (if that makes sense to anyone). But to assume that anyone basis their ethical behavior and meaning on evolution is to invoke the naturalistic fallacy, which is absurd.

Ethics and 'purpose' are and individual preference. Religious find purpose and 'ethics' within their doctrines, which when read fully and not cherry-picked can call into question the legitimacy of the claim being presented. There are several passages in the bible where even Jesus condones murder, while then turning around and condoning kindness to others. Gaining morality from a book is a questionable procedure largely because few religious people take extensive amount of time to work out the logic of such a moral choice. If we take gay marriage for example, some will say it's wrong because the bible says so, and when pressed, will express that it's not a natural state for animals. This is generally as far as it goes, because there are hundreds of species which engage in homosexual behavior, including homosexual pairing. If you were to ask these same people, after showing the act being done by other animals, routinely, in nature, there is little reason to have a negative opinion other than to invoke god. I don't see this as commendable, because then you are gaining your 'moral' behavior from someone purely on the basis of 'I told you so.' This is blindly obedient and can lead far more to immoral (such as genocide, see WWII as a more recent example) behavior because these people do not question or invoke rational thought to explain their behavior. This happens more often than someone might think and there is plenty of psychological evidence to support the fact that people will do horrendous things if they view the person as superior and as having authority. Putting religious people into this position their entire lives, concerns me, because good people, do horrible things out of this 'I told you so' mentality.

My ethical behavior is derived from continuous thought. How do my actions effect other individuals? How do my actions effect humans versus animals? Do each of these groups feel pain, happiness, etc, and to what extent? How do my actions effect the environment, and how would that, on a larger scale, impact the future of the earth, and potentially the universe? My list could go on, but this is a sample of the sort of questions I ask. When confronted with my own values, I ask questions that may or may not challenge them, and I pose possible scenarios for the impact of these values on others, negative and positive. My ethics, are therefore derived from continuous refinement, previous philosophers and their logical arguments, and the potentiality for my behavior on an individual and large scale to invoke harm or good to other humans, animals, the earth, and the universe. In the end, my desire for all other life is to see it respected and to see it content. Is this possible? To an extent and my values reflect this. Is there room for refinement and improvement? There always is and that is the difference between myself and someone who takes their pastor's word for it. My values and ethics change depending on new information that is derived about the world about me and how I, as an individual, can improve that world for everyone. I do not require a man in a pulpit to tell me how to do that, as I am an intellectual, and I am a thinking being who as compassion and motivation. I would even dare to say that my ethics and my values, are superior to any who derive all of their values and ethics from an ancient, and I would be prepared to test that any day.

 As far as purpose is concerned. There is no purpose to the universe because the universe is not sentient. It has no goal in mind because it is not sentient. This is not a problem, but a freedom. Consider, if the universe has nothing in mind, this gives us the opportunity to find our place, our individual place, within the world and define ourselves based on how we would that like world to look. If we think of the universe as a pond. A pond has no purpose. A pond is a bowl of water that sustains life, but it has no goal, no purpose mind. It simply is. The fish within it, the algae, the bacteria, the microscopic organisms, are all that is within the universe (if the universe is like a pond). The fish do not define their lives based on the goal of the pond. That would be silly. The fish define their lives based on that which is around them. Their goals, their desires, their motivations, define their purpose in life. Likewise, we define ourselves within the context of our fish bowl. We look to that which is around us, the devastation, the hope, the pain, the happiness, and with our own motivations, we define ourselves and therefore our purpose in life. What are goals besides desires to do something. It is all this which creates purpose on a grander scale.

Now you could say, well, some people want only to hurt others. This is true, no matter the religion of the person, there are, in all species, defectors and cheaters of the system. Religion doesn't make these people better, it obscures them, as they thrive in particular environments if given the chance, and even religious offer the chance to advance oneself despite being a cheater or a defector. However, in the whole of the population, these people are a small percentage as the population can not survive with a large percentage of these people. If they grow too large, their niches start to collapse. Consider if lying was condoned, people would lie all the time and then few people would trust one another, and eventually the system collapses (plenty of science on this, it's a prisoner's dilemma). So you'll always have cheaters and defectors no matter how many religious or nonreligious you have. It's independent of it. So using this would be an invalid critique of defining the self based on personal motivation and desire. 

My point to this entire post, is that purpose can be found in the self, and for many of us, is, and then further defined by outside information. With religious, purpose is defined by the self and the church, which again, is questionable. Ethics can be defined without religion as many of us take a great deal of time and pain to meticulously polish our values to suit what maximizes happiness and pleasure among not just humans, but often other species as well.

The invoking of not having morality or purpose, or any such thing against atheism is an old stone that has been thrown and immersed by plenty of logical statements debunking that fallacious argument.

Bravo, Mande!!  Bravo!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Closet? What closet?

I’m not one to be in a closet.  As soon as I found atheism, I was out.  It never even occurred to be that I ought to consider being in the closet.  I’m just not that kind of guy.  You probably guessed that by now.

But now, things have changed.  My son is getting involved in Cub Scouts.  He really likes it.  I find scouting to be a complete waste of time and energy, but he finds it enjoyable so he can go have fun.  This weekend he went camping with his Nana.  He had a blast.  He went and sold popcorn.  He was very good at it.  He looks forward to meetings and participates well.

Now I know most Scout leaders wouldn’t give a shit if my son is the child of atheist parents.  But even so, I know the official stance of the Boy Scouts of America is to shun those without religious faith.  So for the first time since I became an atheist, I’m in the closet.  Somewhat.

I recently went to a LGBT meeting at my local public library.  It was a really cool meeting.  It reminded me a lot of my meetings for my atheist group.  They told coming-out stories, shared experiences of discrimination, gave support and encouragement to those who had felt lost, lonely or isolated.  That’s exactly what my group does.  They talked about the closet.  It’s never a comfortable place to be.  Now I get it.  I never really did before.

It sucks.  Many of the other parents of scouts are people who we see all the time.  These are my son’s friends’ parents.  We talk often.  Eventually, someone will say something and I am SO BAD at biting my tongue.  It would truly suck if I got my kid kicked out of a group he enjoys so much.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Way or the Highway

Alice: “I seem to have lost my way.”
The Red Queen:  “YOUR way?!  ALWAYS MY WAY!”

There was a dude on the Christian radio trying to explain why teens should remain Christian, even if they have questions about their faith.  We came to what the defender described as the biggest deal-breaker for most young people.  “What does God do to those people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus, and what did he do with the people who live before Jesus came around?”  Interesting question.

Like I said, the guy answering this question admitted that this was a big deal for most people.  He said that most every teen he encountered asked this question in one way or another.  He realized the importance of this answer.  This was it:  “I don’t know.  If God sent them to hell, that doesn’t seem fair, but if he let them into heaven then Jesus is NOT the only way to heaven, and we KNOW that Jesus IS the ONLY way to heaven.  We know God will do what is right, but we don’t know what that is.”  WTF?

Seriously, What The FUCK?  So you understand that this is an important answer, and all you have is I don’t know?  How is that an answer?  God will do what is right, but we can’t know what that is?  Aren’t you the asshats who try to sell that “objective moral standards come from God” bullshit?  How is the answer to this I don’t know?  But wait.  It got better.

Answerman went on to say that we should not criticize God for giving us only one way to please him.  Instead, we should rejoice that he gave us A way.  We should not concern ourselves with those who have not heard the Word, but rejoice that we have.  Jesus is the Way, and you can take it, or the highway.

You’d think that after identifying a deal-breaking question, you’d have a good answer for it.  This is the same crap I heard when I asked this question years ago.  Seriously, do these morons actually think this is a good answer?  God says my way or the highway, unless you’ve never heard of my way, then maybe.  You get to guess.

God is supposed to be able to do the right thing all the time.  But it is still evident to me he blunders and stumbles through it just as we do.  Perhaps if we all simply admit that the quantities of god reflect those qualities we see in ourselves, perhaps we can all find the right thing to do, and realize there is more than one way to be a good person.  God isn’t here; we are.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Keep On Sinnin'

“The only reason you want to be an atheist is so you can continue to live a sinful lifestyle!” 

I’ve heard this a lot before. I guess I never really thought about it. I always thought they were talking about lying or stealing. I was never much for theft, and I gave up lying with religion, so I thought the statement was absurd. Besides, it wasn’t like believers don’t sin; their lifestyle was as sinful as mine. So why do they shout this accusation? And why is it said with such venom? I think I have the answer.

Well, first, it’s not lying and stealing. They are referring to what believers call “sexual sin”. This means we are going to continue to enjoy sex, have sex outside marriage, masturbate, and fantasize. We are going to look at pornography and like it. We are going to use sex toys and lubrication. We will use positions other than the missionary position. And we will like it. We will even teach our children comprehensive sex education, where they will learn such activity is normal, fun, and sin-free. Of course, we will also teach our children about condoms and birth control, and encourage them to experiment safely.

I know what you’re thinking, “Andrew, where’s the sin?” Well, I don’t see any. And that’s the problem. You see, the believer can do all these things and then become overwhelmed with grief and guilt. The believer has been taught that this is all an abomination to god, and they have disobeyed god’s order for sex. They must be cleansed; they have soiled their souls. They have lost their precious purity. 

The believer thinks it is normal to have such feelings if guilt and grief after having an orgasm. When they encounter people like me who grin after ejaculation instead of running off to pray for forgiveness, they feel angry, jilted, and frustrated. How come I get to have all kinds of fun and they can’t? Aren’t they supposed to be better than me? Why doesn’t it feel that way on the bedroom?

You see, I’ve grown up. I no longer blush and giggle when someone says “penis” or “vagina”. I don’t feel uncomfortable talking about sex, orgasms, condoms or the fact I like them. And I’ve realized that these things are natural, good, and in no way sinful. I understand that this can be a source of great happiness and fulfillment, rather than the abysmal source of shame and guilt it used to be. 

Now I’d like to say that I reject god simply so I could masturbate without Jesus, and his mother, and his father watching me. I’d think it was funny if I embraced atheism in order to gain a free pass to porn. But this is not the case. It is simply a bonus. 

I find the existence of god to be nothing more than a fairy tale. Now that I’m a grown up, I discard fairy tales in favor of erotica.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The bible, the baby, and the bathwater

Though it is abundantly apparent to me and most other atheists, some believers have a hard time swallowing this.  To get a loving and benevolent god out of the bible, some serious cherry-picking has to take place.  That is, we chose to read and believe certain parts of the bible while discarding or ignoring others.  They will hold fast to the abomination that is homosexuality while enjoying a shrimp cocktail.  They would never consider killing their child, but god likes to have children killed in his book.  No one thinks people should be killed for working on the Sabbath, or getting a tattoo, or wearing polyester. 

Now I want to make it clear that I’m glad the average self-proclaimed Christian does NOT want Long John Silvers and Red Lobster banned.  I think it would be a travesty if we executed rape victims or tried to outlaw businesses being open on Sunday.  I would hope everyone agrees that we should not execute rebellious teenagers.  I’m thankful for that.  But why don’t we?  How is it that we CAN distinguish between the baby and the bathwater in the bible?  It seems many believers take away a message of hope, love and charity from the bible.  How is that possible considering the book also contains horrific displays of cruelty, violence and torture?

 It seems to me that we take something of ourselves to the bible when we read it.  We look for something that reinforces what we think we want to read, and find it.  We place upon the bible our own views, hopes, fears, and goals.  We use the bible to find the answer we think we should find.

 To me, the atheist, it seems this is the long way to the answer.  Since it is obvious we take our own pre-conceived notions to the bible, why not leave the bible out and look at the pre-conceived notion by itself?  It doesn’t have to be right; it can be wrong.  If truth is what we really want, then we cannot simply look for reinforcement.  We have to look for the contrary and discover why it should be considered or dismissed. 

What I’m trying to say is that within each of us is the ability to cherry-pick what we want from the bible.  So we don’t need it.  Do you need a book to tell you that murder is bad?  Do you need a book to tell you that equality is good?  Do you?  Of course not.  You understand that stealing is wrong and sharing is good.  You don’t need a book to tell you that.  And if you find the opposite in a book, you should dismiss it.  Or realize the author was trying to illustrate how humans can rationalize anything to be good with delusional thinking.  Or it was some other form of artistic expression. 

There are good ideas we should take from the bible:  treat others as you would be treated, love your enemy, etc.  And we should be appalled at the idea we should keep consenting adults from marrying each other.  If we cherry-pick the bible, we will find good fruit.  If we take the whole thing, we will consume compost.  If we acknowledge that we are cherry-picking, we can also acknowledge the book is not the inerrant word of god, but that some lessons are indeed timeless.  Others must be discarded, and revisited only to illustrate the journey we have taken. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I miss hell

The other day I was talking with my wife about things I missed about belief.  I was talking about the sense of belonging and community that can be lacking in the atheist community.  Sure there’s facebook and such, but there is no real substitute for actual personal interaction.  My wife brilliantly stunned me by saying, “I miss hell.” 

What she meant was that when she was a believer, it gave her great comfort to “know” that Hitler and other mass murderers were being tormented in hell.  She liked the idea that every day at noon, Hitler would get a pineapple shoved into his bottom.  It gave her comfort and pleasure to think there was some great justice done to those who had caused so much death and suffering.  Now, she said, she was saddened by the thought the fate of Hitler would one day be shared by her: she would simply die.

I’ve said before that I think one of the reasons people stay in religious circles, even if they have doubts, is because they get so much comfort from their beliefs.  I just never thought hell was one of those comforting thoughts.  But I see it now.  And while I, too, dislike the idea that I will one day be on par with the murderers of the past, I find this can be turned around a bit.

Perhaps we must be motivated even more to make things right now, while we are alive.  Perhaps we must become active and involved at some level to do good and be good without god.  Perhaps this is one more reason to fight against the encroachment of superstition and religious nonsense into secular lives.  God isn’t here; we are.  And when we are dead, it is over.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It takes more faith to be a WHAT?!

Back when I was a believer, this whole "it takes more faith to be an atheist" thing held me for a while. It seemed to be an argument against losing faith. That is, if I leave my faith, I will be required to employ even more faith, and that is what I am leaving. So why leave? But this doesn't hold faith itself in high regard, does it? The idea now is to have the least amount of faith possible, and that is to be a believer.

But this net is so flimsy; I really don't know how it held me for so long. Faith is supposed to be a virtue, and if I believe that faith IS a virtue, AND I believe that it takes more faith to be an atheist, why not be an atheist? Now the atheist has the more virtuous viewpoint? How did that happen?

Is this the believer admitting that faith is not virtuous? Why would you want to show the opposing side that they possess more of the virtue you hold in such high regard and that they hold in such low regard? It’s not like you see a bunch of atheists telling believers that it takes more gods to not believe in gods than it takes to believe in gods. What? That last statement makes just as much sense as the title of this blog. Stop re-reading it. It does. Have some faith. Sheesh.

Then you realize that it requires NO faith to not believe in imaginary deities, fairies, unicorns, dragons, chimeras, etc. Do you believe in pixies? Does that require faith? So really, losing faith really does mean losing faith. That is, after all, why they call it losing faith. It takes LESS faith to be an atheist. Duh.

But that misses this point:

If you are a believer, and you think faith is virtuous, and you think atheists have more faith, why do you chose not to have as much faith as you think the atheist does? Why are you in such a hurry to lose the faith competition?

It’s okay to lose your faith. It’s not virtuous. It’s delusion. Trust me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Giving up the god ghost

I often hear people say things like, “It’s in god’s hands now, “ or, “I’ve given it over to god,” or “Jesus is my co-pilot.” I think this is code for giving up.

People say these things when times are tough. Let’s face it; times can indeed be tough. We all go through rough patches, and some are rougher than others. In times like this, we can either look for help, or look to superstition. I’m not denying that things get hard. I’m saying that we make things worse when we ignore the problem and not take action. Rarely is inaction the solution. We need to do something, and I don’t mean pray. Nothing fails like prayer.

When things are rough, we have to be able to rely on what really helps. Friends, family, and the people we know we can ask for help. They may not actually be able to help, but at least the people are real and they will try. When we appeal to the imaginary to help us, we get nothing.

While people may not be very helpful, superstition can at least make you feel better. But is it really better? To say that the religious person is happier than the atheist is no better than saying the drunkard is happier than the sober person.

It angers me when I hear people say that they’ve given it over to god. That really means that have given up. I remember back in the day when I played sports. My coaches always told me that it’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. The only real defeat comes when you give up or when you forfeit the game. But that is exactly what religion seems to encourage us to do when things are at the worst. While religion claims to have all the answers to all life’s questions, it seems when push comes to shove, the only solution it offers is no solution at all. “Give it over to god” is a cop-out. A lame attempt to solve a problem by ignoring it.

I was recently asked what motivates me. I answered that god isn’t here; we are.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Answers in Atheism?

If there is a valid critique of atheism, it should be that there are no answers in atheism, save one. The only answer in atheism is to this question, “Do you believe in gods or deities?” The answer is, “No!”

Religion, by contrast, offers all the answers you could ever imagine, and a few you can’t. But there’s a problem. While the questions may be consistent, the answers certainly are not. Hence, we have thousands of different Christian denominations alone. Every one seeks to answer the same questions, with varying responses. People go “church-shopping”, looking for the denomination or church that is closest to what they already think is true. But is that REALLY a path to truth?

This is, after all, a group that prides itself on being right. But with no evidence to back up a single claim, and with apologetics suggesting that without evidence all things are equally probable, why not look to the buffet of religions to find the one that suits you? As long as they talk about jesus, they must be alright, right? At least they have jesus.

It seems to me that most people cannot articulate why they are one kind of believer and not another. When they can, it is almost always an inheritance. They believe as their parents did. But again, for a group so focused on having the “T”ruth, isn’t this a really bad way to find it?

Atheism may not have answers, but I think that is a good thing. It’s obvious the answers are not in religion. Once we can get past the nonsense of “the-bible-said-it-so-I-believe-it-and-that’s-that” foolishness, we can start having a real discussion about what the answers might be. But we can’t do that with god in the way. We must find the answers. God isn’t here; we are.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A conversation I had with a believer through Facebook messaging.

Between You and Mary Randall

Mary Randall May 19 at 7:42pm Report

why is it soooooooooooooooooooooo hard for those that do not believe in GOD to accept those that do, why is it sooooo hard for you not to live and let live, finally, why is it soooooooo necessary for those that do not believe in God to waste soooooooomuch of their valuable time trying to DISPROVE WHAT THE CHRISTIANS CAN NOT PROVE!!!!! sheesh, you people have an obsession over a belief that you do not even believe in ...sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew Garber May 19 at 8:34pm

You are, of course, free to believe whatever nonsense you wish. But it is my experience that our beliefs inform the positions we take socially and politically. For this reason, people who hold superstitious nonsense as truth should be held accountable for holding such crap as truth. They should pay the price of thinking fairy tales are true, the way we make people who think the world will end in two days pay for their ridiculous beliefs.

I assume you took a look at the most recent blog post I made. That was done a couple of years ago. I admit it was a bit time consuming to both read and deconstruct the original author's crap, but I thought it a good use of time as he asserted it would be evidence I had not considered for the existence of god. He was so wrong I had to respond.

Not unlike this response here.

I find it sad that people hold as true beliefs not rooted in evidence. I find it sad that people think that these ideas should be treated equally as those what ARE backed by evidence. I think it is sad that people do not provide any evidence for their claims, but instead wish I would stop hurting their precious feelings. If you don't want your rediculous beliefs ridiculed, don't hold such stupid beliefs.

Mary Randall May 19 at 9:21pm Report


Mary Randall May 19 at 9:29pm Report


Andrew Garber May 19 at 10:01pm

I see we've moved to all caps. Quaint. And I disagree.

I have the advantage of being able to decipher what is real. Believers have the disadvantage of accepting some things as true on faith, not fact. When you do this, you compromise your ability to tell fact from fiction.

You should read my blog, "A meaningless life without god". It's the first one I loaded at Life has more meaning without the supernatural, not with it.

Believers are not accountable to me. I simply think that if we consider people who think bigfoot is real are nuts, we chould also consider people who think god is real are nuts. Go ahead and be a nut. Just be aware we think you are a nut.

I need convince no one that god does not exist. Atheism is not a path to happiness or contentment. It is only the answer to the question, "Do you believe in god(s)?"

My apostasy, as I gather your son's, was a difficult time in my life. I blog so that others may find help in their journey away from myth and dogma. That inspires me.

It is sad that you think it is anger and hatred drives us. Rather, it is the opportunity to show you, and others who think like you, that it is not necessary to believe to be good.

Mary Randall May 20 at 1:04am Report

Ok, just like you, my son had a very difficult time as he journeyed away from christianity. Consider this, I gave birth to him and i can see that it has done him no good to leave christianity but rather made him a very unlikable person, also a very manipulative one as well. Religious or non religious these personality traits are not a good thing to have. in his own words, * i will either prove this god right or i will rip him to shreds*. i never could quite understand this because to me, if someone or something is not believed to exist, why waste your time on *nothing*. i do not agree with christophers belief or non belief but at the same time i can and did appreciate and respect his talent as an author. nobody can take that from him as he is nothing short of brilliant in writing . i actually agreed to not only be supportive of him but to financially support him while he wrote and published his first book. Unfortunately as months went by and after every chapter he was very demanding that i read his material as he wrote. non-judgmental i did so but i started getting the vibe that my son was definitely hoping to deconvert me in the process. our relationship has ended for a time because as i told him, it’s not because i am catholic that you will never succeed in my deconversion, it’s not because i read my bible from cover to cover that i choose to believe, its not because someone drilled this belief deep within my resources that i will not be swayed, its because when i was 4 years old i inhaled water 2 and one half times while being trapped in a pond and some supernatural being pulled me out, laid me on the bank, sucked the water thru my nostrils...and disappeared before my eyes with a gentle voice telling me to go home to my mom she was worrying about me. also, i believe in GOD because he miraculously intervened several times in my life and while on my death bed, i received a supernatural healing and lived when i should have died, also i was a woman that worked post katrina in new orleans, was beat to death but did not die, was later poisoned as i felt the life draining out of me, fainted with my last breath, as any dying human would die, i died but as my spirit was passing....i came back to my body and lived, later was forcefully taken to a cemetery in new orleans where all vaults are above ground, a man was attempting to bury me alive inside and enclose me when out of the blue, in totally abandoned city a man appeared, dressed in clothing that was outdated by atleast a hundred years, my terror subsided as i looked over my killers shoulder at this man behind him when suddenly my killer apparently felt the presense and turned around, started shaking and literally ran. i ran to the corner, there was no sign of this man that i believe was a ghost to save me. There are too many like events to write about all my supernatural happenings. i should be dead by at least ten times off the top of my head but yet, i live. my question to you and my son is, HOW CAN I NOT BELIEVE THERE IS A GOD???? WHEN GOD HAS PROVEN TO ME THAT THE SUPERNATURAL DOES EXIST. i say to my son, yes, everything you say makes perfect sense, your writing no doubt is capable of changing a lot of people and having a tremendous impact on the world but it will never serve to deconvert me because its not possible to deconvert me because the miraculous and supernatural events of my life are the proof and they are more of a reality to me than this world itself. its not by the church i believe, its not by any reading....its a fact that a supernatural power has worked in my life and in my spirit i have come to know him as GOD. my spirit cries every time i walk into the catholic church because i truly feel his presence there and i recognize this presense as the same that intervened so many times. my son literally trashes me and hates me because i know god in a way that he never has. i refused to argue the point with him, he hates that too! i dont know about you, andrew but i do know about christopher, when he was a christian we could not relate to each other because because any act of charity and generosity i displayed to others, any of my sacrifices of love, money and time. he mistakes this for weakness in me. he seems to have been a very rigid christian that was a very old testament believer and eye for an eye...while i spent my life running around in the new testament practicing the alphabet of love. he definitely sees things in black/white and no shade of gray. if by chance i have been somehow disillusioned or even deceived, i must say, it was still good that i believe in god because had i not believed in god i certainly would not have any desire to live this life nor would i have the strength after all i have encountered. if god should prove a false god , this falsehood saved my life and gave me the courage, strength and desire to carry on and love others in a positive way and i sleep well at night because all is well with my soul. but know this andrew, just as i say to my son christopher, if you are wrong , and you know you can be, if GOD truly does exist and your life truly does have an eternity beyond your understanding and beyond this life, what will be your destiny when in a blink of an eye your life is certain to pass by you and END WITHOUT ANY HOPE....IT JUST ENDS....when it could have just begun. dont close your mind as you and christopher are seeking truth. when i was on my death bed GOD was no more than a passing thought that somehow snagged my brain when i cried out * GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDD IF YOU ARE REAL YOU HAVE GOT TO PROVE IT TO ME NOW BEFORE I DIE!!! I CRIEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD LIKE I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD CRY BUT IN A FLASH, EVERYTHING CHANGED AND I KNEW HE WAS REAL AND EVERYONE KNEW THEY HAD JUST SEEN A MIRACLE WHEN I WENT FROM DEATH TO A MIRACULOUS HEALING.JUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO CHEAT YOURSELF JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO EVIDENCE OF HIS EXISTANCE.

Andrew Garber May 20 at 10:52pm

Hmm. Less caps. Improvement, I suppose.

An anecdote and an appeal to pascal. I see why your author son would want you to read his manuscripts. If I were he I would be trying to get you to understand why these arguments not only fail, but fail miserably. I'd be trying to get you to understand that while you may be convinced because you think you ought to be dead, that is no reason for anyone else to be convinced. My guess is your son was trying to educate you in why we non-believers find your arguments both childish and silly.

But in case that wasn't the topic of his book....

Your story is intriguing. But it is only a story, and I've no reason to think it is an objective narrative. Even so, why should this anecdote convince me? Are you just trying to explain why you cannot be convinced? There is no need for that. You do that just fine later.

"if god should prove a false god , this falsehood saved my life and gave me the courage, strength and desire to carry on and love others in a positive way and i sleep well at night because all is well with my soul."

This is all you needed to say. It seems you don't care if what you believe is true or not. You don't care if you believe in falsehood as long as it is comforting and pleasing to you. That's where we differ. I care if what I believe is true. I want to believe as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible, regardless of whether or not I like it.

And I see you didn't bother to read the "meaningless life without god" blog. It's okay. I didn't really expect you to read it.

There is no need for there to be a god for there to be meaning in life. Life is what we make it. If we waste believing in false, comforting lies, it is a pleasant waste, but a waste nonetheless.

Oh, and Pascal. Seriously? Pascal's Wager? Fine. I used to be catholic. Why are baptists wrong? Why are lutherians wrong? Explain why the methodists are damned to hell. Pascal's wager isn't an argument for truth. It is an argument to be intellectually dishonest because it has the best potential outcome. Again, I care if what I beleive is true, not if it is comforting.

And what did your son write and how do I get a copy?

Mary Randall May 20 at 11:18pm Report

andrew, i am catholic this is true, why the lutherans and baptists are wrong, i am not a part of this flame throwing event of division amongst so called christians. naturally, i do believe the catholic church is the true church from the beginning or i would not be calling myself a catholic . i did venture out at one time just to satisfy myself that i was where i should be so obviously i disagree somehow with their church i suppose but not to the point that i would want to waste my time bashing them like so many of them seem to thrive on. and yes, i was simply explaining why i cannot be deconverted in the earlier message i wrote to you because these supernatural events in my life are the reality and proof to me that God does exist, if not for this i probably could have been deconverted because i see christophers point and presumably yours as well , however, if i am to base my belief on Fact i must continue to believe in a god because i find more proof in believing in him through the solid and proven events of my life than i can with christophers beliefs. what you and christopher believe has not proven anything to me at all but yet, it is profound in a sense and makes sense . you can find christopher on FB as *chris mckinney* or CS mckinney or *reasonable press*. let me know that you did find it and help me make some sense of him please. :)

Mary Randall May 20 at 11:33pm Report

...i just know you are going to join that stupid little club of his!

Mary Randall May 21 at 12:46am Report

p.s............i am not a closed minded person. you must admit if i were, i would have never tolerated christophers deconversion process for an entire year while writing and sharing with me the details , EVERY detail i read. like i said, i think his plan for me was deconversion and unlike myself, he can not simply live and let live. end result, he no longer likes me...maybe he never did. very vindictive he is and i used to cry but now i am no longer thinking about it much at all. i accept i can not change him or make him love me...just like he can not deconvert me.

Andrew Garber May 21 at 11:31pm

C.S. McKinney!! Yes, I'm friends with that dude!! He's part of, where I post my blog these days. It appears he also works with Matt Edwards and Jeff Mark, two of my most fav authors.

I'm going to have to say you are closed minded if you say there is nothing that can change your mind and you don't care if what you believe is true or not. That sounds prety closed minded to me.

So you can't actually articulate what it is you think the mormons or the methodists or the baptist got wrong? Interesting.

Live and let live. I think what you mean is, "Stop questioning other's beliefs." No. As I said before, you are free to believe whatever you wish. But if you want to believe in fairy tales, you should be prepared for people to call you out on it. What I and your son and those who publish similar works want to do is challenge your "open-mindedness" with contradictory positions backed with evidence and reason.

But you say you are open minded and that nothing can change your mind. Does believing in nonsense allow these positions to coincide? Does putting faith in the self-contradictory bible allow you to contradict yourself and not see it?

Andrew Garber May 21 at 11:51pm

He says it better than I.

Christianity harms society. Why I mock Christians.

What kind of nation do you get when 8 our of every 10 people believe in fairy tales as if they were reality? You get a nation that puts more people in prison...


Mary Randall May 22 at 12:04am Report

i never said there is nothing that can change my mind, i simply said i have listened to yours and christophers so-called voice of reason and as of yet, nothing has changed my mind because the proof is in the supernatural happenings in my life and not with your logic and reasoning for they have failed to produce anything meaningful or fruitful for far as the mormons , methodists and baptist or any other denomination, i have some knowledge of these but i simply do not care to comment on their beliefs, i already told you i am catholic in denomination and i am satisfied this is the true church where i belong but i am not in the business of wasting my time meddling in others affairs. as i said, i am open minded enough to listen to you as i am a truth seeker but and you fail to produce any proof that my belief is nonsense as you call it and it also seems you and christopher both seem to have all the logic and reason in the world but you just cant seem to harness it and work a miracle with it. as i said, my proof is in the miracles! let me give you some advice if i may, manipulation is no way to win at the game you are trying to win, also, as i tell my son, WHERE ARE YOUR MIRACLES, WHERE IS YOUR PROOF, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO OFFER ME IF I SHOULD SEE THINGS YOUR WAY????? THUS FAR, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, NADA, ZILCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!...WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CHASING YOUR TAILS IN A CIRCLE AND NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT, AND PERHAPS, IF YOU ARE WRONG YOU HAVE EVERYTHING TO LOSE AND NOTHING TO GAIN. IS THIS YOUR IDEA OF HOPE FOR THE FUTURE? it doesnt surprise me that you and christoper would be friends on think just alike and with points of interest being the same, was only a matter of time you would have found eachother anyway.

Mary Randall May 22 at 1:24am Report

actually andrew, what you and christopher are doing is fulfilling bible prophecy as you hate us without reason and i know where this is all leading. persecution is the nature of your cause and future persecution is safe to assume and you can say you did the world a big favor when you kill us but what will it REALLY profit the world. interior moral value is something that i had long before i thought to become a christian, loving others and helping them while seldom ever thinking of myself is something i have spent most of my life doing, i would have done it even if i did not believe in a god, i simply care about people in general. ultimately, what you are doing is pointless and it robs you of finding true happiness because you are so worried about everyone else that you cant be happy when in a sense you are being held a prisoner to christianity and you dont even believe in it. i say there are a lot of angry ppl that have fallen away from christianity and in some way they try to get even with God because life for them is not what they want it to be. you are very young just like my christopher. christopher seems to resent God because his life did not turn out in the way he wanted it while at the same time claiming to be an athiest, i got news for christopher, life is never the way we want it. we will never be superior in this world no matter how much we try to clean up what we believe is wrong or what irritates us with others. a responsible adult, christian or non christian will take full responsibility for the mistakes one makes and not blame others for what they chose to do or believe in. nobody made christopher believe in GOD or go to church, just like myself, the choice was mine! if christopher believes HE was wrong for believing in God , why not just admit he made a mistake and move forward with something else rather than be miserable and wanting to *get even* or *save the world*, realistically, you cant do either one but you can waste the remainder of your days being controlled by negative behavior or opposition. i truthfully cannot relate to you guys because i do not desire to get even or control anyone or anything. i simply enjoy the very limited time on earth with the simple things in life.

Andrew Garber May 22 at 10:31pm

Alight, so is what you are telling me is that it would take a miracle to make you understand that god is imaginary? Seriously? You really don't get why that is ridiculous? You actually think that makes you open minded? How delusional are you?

Look, there is no proof that god is imaginary. That is not why I believe god is imaginary. I believe god is imaginary because there is no evidence that a god actually exists. You seem to think that miracles are evidence. They are not. Simply because neither you nor I nor anyone else can explain an event, that does not mean the explanation of that event is supernatural. It simply means we lack the proper explanation. Miracles are an appeal to ignorance. In other words, "I can't think of any other explanation for this, so I am going to put a supernatural explanation into it." But there is a problem with this.

Once you open the possibility of the supernatural, ANY supernatural explanation will do. You could have been saved not by god but but the flying spaghetti monster, or thor, or a unicorn, or zeus. But you don't think that thor saved you. You don't think the flying spaghetti monster intervened with is sacred noodly appendage. You think it was your god that did it.

My point about your objections to other christian religions is that if you better understood why you are catholic and not mormon, you would be a step closer to understanding why I and your son are atheists. You reject other dogmas. We reject yours. The portions of dispute between catholics and methodists are small, and seemingly inconsequential. But how would you prove one is true and the other false? You can't. Both are equally superstitious and silly. Neither is rooted in fact; both are rooted in faith.

And again with an appeal to pascal. Is an afterlife required for this life to have meaning and purpose? Why? How do you prove there is an afterlife? Not with another anecdote, I hope.

You claim you are a truth seeker. I doubt it. Here's a riddle for you: What would a world WITHOUT a god look like? How could you tell the difference?

Mary Randall May 22 at 11:47pm Report

andrew, i can already tell, YOU have lost this debate. you keep on trying to tell me what i think while ignoring what i am saying, at a minimum you take the things i do say and blow them entirely out of context. as i said earlier, manipulation seems to be a way for you to both ignore me and try to kick me on the defense. for starters, i never said it would take a miracle for me to believe the way you believe, i said my belief has given me miracles ( for lack of a better word) while your belief has given me nothing at all, do you understand the difference? as far as your statement, * i believe God is imaginary because no evidence exist* or because there is no explanation of that event is supernatural* for those that believe no explanation is necessary, for those that do not no explanation is possible. where is your proof that GOD is a fairy tale? other than the fact you think scripture is contradictory to truth, where is your proof? i would think thats a very weak case at a minimum, especially when you consider that my supernatural experiences or miracles delivered a desired result, what about your belief? what has it given you ? can you prove that GOD does not exist? prove it to me..........just like christopher you cant prove anything at all. i am open minded so PROVE IT TO ME! and dont dance around everything i say, just PROVE IT because if you fail to prove it, at a minimum its a toos up right? and you are no closer to proving G od does not exist than i can prove he does! i think you and christopher both obviously did not get the *miracles* and *proof* you were looking for when you did profess to be a christian so just like some angry little boys you want to stomp your feet and scream out because you did not get your way, perhaps this is why you did not get your way. if you are anything like christopher you were way too rigid and selfish to get your way anyway! neither one of you obviously did not gain what i did or you would not be denying his existence or complaining about him. see if THIS WORLD and all of its empty promises get you anything, i can tell you for sure you wont get much and if you keep up with the attitude and obsessions, you will simply not have time to get what little bit it did have to offer. earlier you said * my point about objections to other religions*???? i never said i did object, you keep on TRYING TO MAKE ME SAY THIS WHEN IN FACT I HAVE NOT. i believe what i did say was , * i am not interested in bashing other religions * and obviously we differ, is that not what i said? talk about fairy tales, you are full of them! and yes i am no stranger to other religions so dont try to sell me short on that end either. even if there was any truth to what you say whats your point? so what, you were disappointed as a christian and no longer choose to believe, i can except that, why cant you? wasting all this time trying to prove something does not exist when not only do you not have the answers, you dont have the proof of your own theories! you fail to deliver on all counts!i am quite content with my life the way it is and it works for me. what works for you, have you found anything? until you do you are defeated !

Andrew Garber May 23 at 6:16am

I didn't realize this was a debate. Very well. Debate hat on.

Why don't you believe in the flying spaghetti monster? You can't prove the flying spaghetti monster does not exist, therefore, the possibility it does exist and the possibility it does not must be on equal ground.

Bullshit. Chimreas are imaginary. There is no need to prove these mythical creatures are not real. If i told you I have a pet dragon, would you think there is a 50/50 chance I was telling the truth?

Tell me why your god is more likely than a dragon.

Since you'd prefer a debate, I'll keep these short so you can turn your attention to the question.

Mary Randall May 23 at 8:00am Report

ok, just as soon as you turn you attention to some of my questions maybe we can get this *debate* off and running. may we start with the last message i sent you because of all the things i wrote, you fail to respond to anything other than you apparently desired a debate, so you jumped right on me! which is the case with all the previous message i sent to you, very one-sided but whats worse, you cant even back up your own theory. your turn, add some solid substance please!

Andrew Garber May 23 at 7:50pm

That WAS me addressing your points.

You said, " i am open minded so PROVE IT TO ME! and dont dance around everything i say, just PROVE IT because if you fail to prove it, at a minimum its a toss up right?"

Now before, I had said, "I believe god is imaginary because there is no evidence that a god actually exists. You seem to think that miracles are evidence. You could have been saved not by god but but the flying spaghetti monster, or thor, or a unicorn, or zeus. But you don't think that thor saved you. You don't think the flying spaghetti monster intervened with is sacred noodly appendage. You think it was your god that did it."

Which brings me to, "Why don't you believe in the flying spaghetti monster? You can't prove the flying spaghetti monster does not exist, therefore, the possibility it does exist and the possibility it does not must be on equal ground."

I ask this question, because I see I cannot get you to describe why you disagree with other religions. You say this is because you don't want to "bash" them, but I think it is because you don't really have a good idea of why you are catholic and not baptist. I think you simply dodge the question, because you don't really know what it is that differs between all the christian denominations. I'd accept that answer, but you prefer to hide behind the veil of not "bashing people".

So I turn the attention to things you MUST NOT believe in, because NO ONE believes them. The FSM line of questions is really an extension of my previous line, but I'm hoping for a real answer this time.

But you're right. I should answer the question myself. That is fair. However, I'm going to turn it around for me. I assert there is no god, so to be fair, I should answer this: "What would a world WITH a god look like? How could we tell the difference?" Here goes.

I think the world would be fundamentally different. All that we know about the natural world and the way things work would be turned on its head. In a world where god exists, people could CAUSE miracles. By miracles, I mean the suspension of the natural laws as we currently know them. People could pray away pain, suffering, poverty, death and taxes. Those who prayed to the proper deity could easily win favor and perform testable, reproducible, tangible effects. In effect, science would become magic, and magic would become science. We'd study at Hogwart's instead of universities. Faith, unfortunately, would also be eradicated. There would be abundant and overwhelming evidence that god existed, his presence known, and the effects of prayer measured.

Of course, nothing fails like prayer in the real world, and THAT is how we can tell the difference.

Your turn.

I never heard from her again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Whipping Boy

Let’s say that you get a DUI. You go to court and either plead guilty because you are guilty, or you are found guilty because you are guilty. Let’s imagine you are fined $300.00 and one month probation. I’m making this punishment up. I’ve never had a DUI.

Suppose you didn’t have $300.00 lying around. Suppose you’d spent all you money on alcohol, and that’s why you got the DUI. Now you have to pay this fine, so a friend/buddy/relative pays the fine for you.

Would you have to pay your buddy back? What if you never agreed to pay your buddy back? What if there was no contract between you and your buddy that said you needed to repay your friend? Could your friend sue you and get a judgment?

Oh yeah. Don’t you watch Judge Judy? This happens all the time. But how can this be? There was no contract. You could have thought the money was a gift and you had no obligation to pay it back. Without a “meeting of the minds”, there can be no contract.

The answer is simple. The fines were part of your punishment for the DUI. You cannot impose or visit that punishment on someone else. The law does not allow you to do that. You have to have your punishment. If jail time was involved, you could not pay someone to do your time for you. Our laws recognize that is unethical.

Back in the day, there was such a person as a “whipping boy”. This would be a person upon whom someone else’s punishment would be imposed. You committed a crime; the whipping boy paid for it. Today we all recognize this is an unethical practice, and it is outlawed.

Why does god demand a whipping boy? God’s justice is so great, and yet he uses a barbaric, unethical and ugly justice system. Not only is there one punishment for all crime, but you cannot pay for the crime yourself. You must use Jesus as your whipping boy.

It seems obvious that this is a story, told by people with a primitive view of justice and ethics. If we can evolve past these barbaric rituals in our civic lives, why do we still cling to them in religion? Our justice system may be flawed, but God’s is no better. We have to improve upon our secular system, not inundate it with archaic biblical barbarism. Human morality may be flawed, but it is what we have. We have a responsibility to improve upon it. God isn’t here; we are.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to tell real faith from false faith

In the bible, there is a story that will help you test if you have real faith, or false faith. It is the story of Abraham and Isaac. You know the story. Abe takes the son he’s always dreamed of having, Isaac, and prepares to kill him to appease god. The story is horrific, barbaric, immoral, disgusting, abusive and just plain mean. Yet it is held as the pinnacle of faith by christians, jews and muslims. So I get to bash three religions for the price of one.

Some people tell me that I’ve got it wrong; that the story isn’t bad at all. They say that god didn’t allow Abe to kill Zac. They tell me that it was just a test. They tell me god wouldn’t ask people to do that today.


First, Abe believed god wanted him to kill his son. He didn’t think the devil wanted him to kill his son; he thought that GOD wanted him to kill his child. Abe didn’t know it was a test, and he MEANT to do it before god stopped him. So clearly, we can see that god likes people to kill their kids, and that people who believe he exists should expect god to ask them to kill their children.

I find that appalling. That is an evil deity who should never be able to influence people. That is a malevolent god who has no claim to justice or morality.

Then they want me to think this couldn’t happen today. But it does. We saw with the Camping May 21, 2011 prediction that people tried to kill themselves and their children because they thought god was coming for them. It DOES happen today. If you think these people are delusional, please explain how you can differentiate their delusions from your beliefs.

So here’s my point. Let’s say you hear GOD tell you to kill your child. Take for granted that there IS a god, and that he is the one who gives you the instruction. In other words, you KNOW (somehow) that this IS god, and that he wants you to kill your child. What would you do?

I know my answer. I’d tell god to take a flying leap. Actually, I’d use lots of vulgar language and ask god to do unspeakable acts to himself in a dark corner. But I’m an atheist. What would the believer do? Would the believer consider it, even for a moment? What does that say about the influence of religion on morality? How are people good WITH god?

It seems to me that in order to get anyone to even consider this cruel and heinous atrocity, you’d first have to believe the god of the bible “has a plan” or “knows what he’s doing” and “have faith in him”. Utter nonsense. Even if my child would be lucky enough to be spared at the last second, why would I do that to him? My morals are higher than that. My morals do not allow me to abuse my child that way.

This story is a great example of how faith is harmful. It shows why people should not believe in gods that would ask us to harm our children. It is how religion is harmful, and it’s right in the bible.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Angry Atheist

I’m often asked why I’m so mad at god. Why do I make such a fuss over the fact there is no god? Why can’t I just live and let live? Did something bad happen to make me into an atheist?

I’m no madder at god for not existing than I am mad at Santa Claus for not existing. They both simply do not exist. I get angry when I see the harm religious belief does to people and to society. The harm is demonstrable and very real, even if the god is imaginary. We recently had a false rapture alarm. The world was supposed to end and it didn’t. Some would say that there was no harm in people placing advertisements and billboards stating that May 21, 2011 was going to be the day jesus came back. But there WAS harm. One lady tried to kill her daughters and herself. Another man spent his whole life savings, over $140,000, on advertisements that helped spread the word the end was nigh. That’s real harm. It angers me that people were dupped into doing these things. It makes me mad that the people that started the myth of the end of the world don’t have to answer for this. It infuriates me that they are able to hide behind “normal” people who hold similar beliefs.

Those “normal” people are everyday Christians. These are people who scoffed at the May 21 date, but not at the ridiculous idea that jesus was coming back. The only thing they thought was silly was the date. That makes me angry. It isn’t that the guy got the date wrong; it’s that the idea of the world coming to an end like it is described in revelations is nonsense. But people accept some crazy and just reject the part of the crazy that can actually be falsified.

Sometimes, people tell me that focusing on all the harm done by religion is fruitless. They tell me that religion does good things too. I even get cited examples like Mother Teresa and Gandhi. Both of these examples are bad examples. Mother Teresa was given millions of dollars in charitable donations, yet her Home for the Dying in Calcutta has no running water, no beds, no doctor on staff. The number of improvements Mother Teresa made after getting all that money was 0! She WANTED people to suffer. That’s sadistic. She is a horrid example of good done by religion. And why are Christians using Gandhi as an example? He wasn’t Christian! He seems a bad example as well.

In any case, the good religion does is not a balancing factor for the evil it commits. Imagine if I said, “Well, Hitler did some great things for his economy, so that makes up for the evil he committed.” You’d laugh, right? You should. In the same way the good religion does cannot counter the evil it causes. And I would assert that there is no good that religion does that cannot be done without religion. I would even go further and say that if the good done by religion would be even better if religion was not involved. It really bothers me when I hear of missionaries giving people food and bibles. Just give them food. Forget the useless superstition.

The point is that I see real harm caused by religion, and no good that comes only from religion. When people use religion to bar people from getting married, that is harmful to everyone. When people use religion to car women from healthcare, that harms everyone. When religion causes people to think the world is ending, that harms everyone.

And when people realize that this is the only life we get, it makes this life all the more precious. Then we can come together and make rational decisions. We have to do it. There is no god to help us. God isn’t here; we are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jesus Camp, Apostasy Begins

It's about time I retold my apostasy story.  Here's how it all began.

I attended a private Catholic high school. Once per year, in an environment similar to this, we would have “revivals” to enrich our spiritual lives. My senior year was most impressive, as this “Christian Awakening Retreat” was a three-day event. I went to Jesus Camp.

I’d like to share with you my experience at the Christian Awakening Retreat. First, the retreat was shrouded in secrecy. The entire senior class could not all participate at once, so sections went at a time. Although the participants would come back obviously rattled, not one would speak of the activities. All was left to rumor and speculation, which at a high school can produce very imaginative images indeed. The only real evidence that one could see was the Jerusalem Cross everyone wore after going to the retreat. This must be something of great importance. I still have mine. I’ll describe it more later.

One main difference in my retreat and this one was we did not speak in tongues. It was an emotional rollercoaster, though. I remember the first thing we did was sit down at a bunch of tables. A box of Kleenex tissues had been placed on each one. We all felt this was a bit weird. One by one, a letter from our parents was read. Each letter told the child how much his/her parents loved him/her, and how proud they were of their child’s development as a Christian. Each letter left the recipient in tears. Many cried just listening to the outpour of love from these letters. I admit I was moved by my own, for a moment. Later that evening I felt the whole thing had been a bit too orchestrated, but I dismissed this, and looked forward to the next day’s events.

I should point out that one of the main themes of all these retreats was, “You get out of this what you put into it.” I was determined to get the most out of this; after all, participation had cost a few hundred dollars. I really wanted this to get my money’s worth, and I felt this was a great opportunity to ask some of those bugging questions I had about my faith. I went in knowing this was going to make or break me as a Christian. If only I had known how right I was.

The next day was rather uneventful, except for one of my teacher’s story about his son. His son was a few years behind me, but I knew how he was. He was hard to miss. I wasn’t aware of the circumstances of his birth, and his father described it in grueling detail. He had been born with serious defects. At birth, he had no lower jaw, and his face seemed to just disappear beneath his nose. It required numerous surgeries, all performed while he was an infant, just to get him to look human. All these procedures had left him looking a bit different, so you can see why I’d be able to pick him out of a crowd. But I knew he was a good kid, even if we never spoke.

What grabbed me most about this teacher’s story was how the birth of his son threw him for a spiritual loop. He admitted to leaving Catholicism for a while to explore other options. He explained that after looking into other faiths, he found Catholicism to be the best choice for him. This was exactly what I wanted to hear. Someone had taken the journey I was about to begin and had some to the conclusion I thought I wanted. This was very encouraging.

That evening was also an opportunity for Reconciliation, or Confession. For those of you who don’t know, Catholics believe that not only does God have the authority to forgive sins, so too do priests. To have your sins forgiven by a priest is called Reconciliation, or Confession. You tell the priest all your sins, and they are forgiven. Sometimes, a penance is required. This is some prayer or action that you must do to atone for your sins. Something like, “Say five ‘Our Fathers’ and ten ‘Hail Marys’” and you’re golden again. You may know that the priest cannot talk about what you confess. To do so would be a violation of their sacred vows. And we all know how seriously all priests take those vows.

Fresh from the story of how one of my teachers had left the faith only to return, I asked the priest in Confession about some of my problems with faith. The priest told me that these questions came from Satan, and that I should simply pray that God would give me the strength to fight them. Normally, Confession left me with a sense of peace; this time it left me with a sense that I would not be returning to the Confessional. I was right. I never even completed my penance.

On the final evening, we received those Jerusalem Crosses. This is a cross with four smaller crosses in each corner. This cross was worn in the Crusades. It symbolizes the spread of Christianity to the four corners of the earth. My retreat leaders, however, encouraged each of us to find our own meaning for our cross. When I spoke with friends about what meaning they had assigned to their cross, I was stunned to find that without consoling each other, we had all assigned the same meaning: this cross represented me, and all that I am and all I ever will be. I realized that the cross was insignificant. I was already me.

I left the retreat knowing this was to be the last big Christian thing I would ever do. I think even my parents understood this. When everyone else ran bawling to their parents, I kept thinking, “But parents are SUPPOSED to love their kids. This shouldn’t be some great revelation. Why is everyone acting like this has changed something?” Clearly, I “didn’t get it”.

Today, I look back on this Christian Awakening Retreat as a truly awakening retreat. It was here that I realized I would never accept this faith as my own. So while Jesus Camp is revolting, keep in mind that I went there, and began revolting.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Parents vs.Children

I originally wrote this for my MySpace blog a little over 2 years ago.  If anyone is aware of the current status of the US ratifing this treaty, please let me know.

I’d been hearing a lot about this Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) thing. Apparently, the United States and Somalia are the only two nations that have not ratified this UN treaty. This treaty proposes that we give children rights, and this has some Christians angry and scared. I looked at treaty and this is what I think.

When I started reading up on this topic, I really had no idea why the idea of children having rights was so scary to believers. I didn’t know if this was based on some weird scripture passage, (like when Christians oppose gay marriage) or if it was based on dogma (like when they teach abstinence only sex education). I mean, even Christians want what is best for their kids, right?

Let’s talk about the criticisms of the CRC. These come from Lead by Michael Farris, this group outlines the following as the perils of giving children rights. I respond in italics. Original text is bold.

“Ten things you need to know about the substance of the CRC:”

• Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.

o I can’t find this language in the treaty. Maybe I am not reading it properly, but I really tried to find this, because I think making spanking a federal offence is silly. But that might be why I don’t actually see this in the treaty. Because it is FALSE. If someone can point out to me how the treaty bans spanking, please let me know.

• A murderer aged 17 years and 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

o I’m okay with this.

• Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.

o Oh, yeah! I REALLY dig this!

• The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.

o If a parent is unwilling or unable to make decisions that ARE indeed in the best interest of the child, someone has to do so.

• A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.

o This is a bit of a stretch. I mean, the treaty DOES say they the child will be heard and given consideration based upon the age and maturity of the child. I highly doubt you will see court case where 4-year-olds are questioning an 8:30pm bedtime.

• According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.

o Awww. You mean we would have to make children a bigger priority than war? Well that’s just a terrible idea!

• Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.

o I’m okay with this. Are there seriously parents who would refuse to allow their children to play? I’m not talking about discipline. Neither is the treaty. It acknowledges that play is vital to a child’s growth.

• Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.


• Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.


• Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.


So these are the complaints, eh? I hardly see a threat here at all, but Farris is terrified. He has drafted an Amendment to the Constitution to block this. Yeah, right, like that’s going to happen. We’re going to amend to the Constitution so we don’t have to protect our children. Right.

I’d like to propose why Farris and those who agree with him are so scared. We see more and more parents refusing to give their children medical treatment and praying for them instead. This treaty would obviously put a quick end to that nonsense. When parents want to indoctrinate their children with creationist or intelligent design foolishness, this treaty would keep such discussions outside the science classroom, even if that classroom was the child’s living room. It would abolish the death penalty for children. Yes, Texas likes to put children to death. The United States has more children on death row than any other country in the UN. This treaty would solve that problem. It would also end abstinence only sex education for good. Our tax dollars would finally be paying for real, honest and comprehensive sex education.

As a parent, my first instinct is always to protect my children. But we all know there are parents out there that just plain suck. If you pray for a cold to go away instead of giving a child a hot bowl of chicken soup, you’re the parent that sucks. If you feel threatened in any way by your child learning about evolution and science, you are a sucky parent. If you think children deserve the death penalty, you REALLY suck. This treaty is designed to protect children from you.

Fortunately, we are close to ratifying this treaty. Hillary Clinton was a big supporter of the treaty when her husband signed it as president. Now, she, as Secretary of State, is responsible to present it to congress. I look forward to its presentation soon, and expect it to breeze through the process. President Obama said it was embarrassing for the US to find itself alone with Somalia in not ratifying the treaty, calling Somalia a lawless state.

Giving rights to children should not threaten us as parents, unless we know we suck and recognize this treaty will force us to admit it and change.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Apathy, Agnosticism, and other synonyms

For those of you who may be new to my blog, I am not one of those “agnostic atheists”. Those would be people who say they don’t know if there is a god, but do not believe there is a god. I am an atheist, and I know there is no god. If you think that makes me a Bad Atheist, then so be it.

The other day I got into the whole agnostic vs atheist debate again. This time, the agnostic was not a weenie theist nor a weenie atheist, but an apathetic weenie. He wanted me to believe that he couldn’t care less about the existence of god to call himself either a theist or an atheist, and was therefore an agnostic. I asked him if believing things that are true mattered to him, and he said no. He didn’t care. So the conversation ended. If you don’t care if what you believe to be true is actually true, then conversation is meaningless.

Now, I get some slack for being critical of agnostics. Generally, these people understand and fight for the separation of church and state. They understand what science is and why intelligent design is not science. They get how dangerous religious belief can be. They don’t indoctrinate their kids; they value freedom. So of all the people I could criticize, why the people who agree with me 99% of the time? Well, because no one likes a moderate.

Most of the agnostics I’ve met are trying to sit on a fence that does not exist. They don’t like the adversarial nature of the “hard atheist” and want to appear neutral. But they are not. Look, I think people should have the right to believe whatever they choose. I think the SCOTUS did a good job when they ruled in favor of the Westboro nutbags right to say outrageous things at soldiers’ funerals. But that does not mean that I do not have the right to call their hate speech despicable. And I feel obligated to do so, because they are an example of how faith harms everyone.

And no one is apathetic to the Westboro nutbags. They show us how high the price for free speech is. No one just shrugs a shoulder when they hear they intend to picket a funeral of a loved one.

So, to the self-proclaimed agnostics out there: there is no fence. Either you believe, or you don’t. Like the “true neutral” in D&D, there are no agnostics. Are you agnostic about Thor or Zeus? What about dragons, leprechauns, basilisks, or chimeras? Are there other mythical creatures you claim you don’t know if they exist or not? How do you “know” anything?

Another word synonymous with agnosticism? Disingenuous.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Faith, Reason, and other mutually exclusive terms

It never ceases to amaze me how much believers want to convince me that they are not “blind followers”, that they have come to their religious beliefs through reason, just like me. No, I’m not going to refute the claim that atheism is a religion here. That will have to be another blog. What I want to address here is that people want me to believe that they have used reason, not “blind faith”, to come to religion. They say that they use logic and find Christ.

Now, I should start by defining my terms. Faith is believing in something without evidence, or in spite of contrasting evidence. If you have evidence, there is no need for faith. No faith is required to believe that if I drop a rock, it will fall. There is evidence that suggests a very reasonable expectation that the rock should fall. If, however, in the unlikely event the rock does NOT fall, that does not mean gravity is no longer valid. Further investigation is required to discover what caused the expected outcome to differ from the actual outcome. Faith requires no evidence. Again, if there is evidence, there is no room for faith. If faith only exists without evidence, then it is unreasonable. It is not reasonable to think that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow. There is no evidence that would support such a claim. In fact, there is good evidence to suggest otherwise. To say that the belief is based on faith does not make the claim more rational. It simply states why someone would have chosen to believe it.

Invariably, if I ask a believer why they think there is evidence to support the belief in god or gods, they fall to the usual arguments: the first-cause, the cosmological, and the argument from complexity, etc. They seem unaware these have been refuted over and over again. This is what they consider to be evidence. But if I press further, none of these are actually the reason they believe. They are reasons they still believe after having questioned their faith in the past. That is why they say they have come to faith from reason. They questioned faith at one point, learned of these arguments, and were satisfied with the answers provided. Some, most even, seem surprised the arguments have been refuted ever.

When I go over the standard rebuttals to their standard arguments, they go back to faith. This is where they like to attack me. A few have realized mid-step the circular nature of this, and stopped. But a few have actually stopped to think about why these arguments fail. They go back to faith anyway, but at that point I feel like I’ve succeeded.

There is no virtue in faith, and even the believer recognizes this. If they really thought faith WAS a virtue, they would not try to defend faith with reason. They would not try to use science to “prove” design. They would not try to “prove” jesus actually walked the earth or did anything reported in the bible. They’d just admit it’s all blind faith. But that makes them sound unreasonable, even to themselves. So they further delude themselves into thinking there are reasons to believe.

Those are two more mutually exclusive terms: virtuous faith.