Saturday, April 30, 2011

God did it

So the sado-masochistic fundamentalist Christians are claiming the tornadoes in the American South are the Wrath of God. Is anyone surprised by this? Of course not. Does it make it any less disgusting. Of course not.

WITNESS!





Shorthand: Natural disasters are God's way of simultaneously warning humanity and punishing humanity since we are all sinner’s and no one on Earth would not deserve this horrific wrath.

So what can we take from this train(wreck) of logic?

“Do bad things happen to good people?” Well that question is technically irrelevant because there are no good people. Not good enough for the Christian God. He perfectly claims his perfect moral perfection as the perfect standard of his perfect Creation in which his imperfect subjects (that He created) fuck.it.all.up. Hence, his perfect and Divine retribution. Isn’t it wonderful?

Morons.


dick. 


This a little less controlled and more angry than I usually write, but this is personal.

video via Joe.My.God via Right Wing Watch

Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot - animated



The original Pale Blue Blue Dot video is located in the MMQ for Carl Sagan.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Link Dump 4/29/11

http://www.thearrogantatheist.com/
 Tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Fun with the May 21, 2011 Rapture predictions




Calling all nonbelievers . . . Come out of the closet!: Freedom From Religion Foundation has a ‘Come out of the closet” campaign.

David Barton On Earth Day: David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

Respect for Other's Beliefs...: ...It’s not a one way street.

Martin Rees: Atheists should drop anti-religion campaigns: This is worthy of an entire post, but let me just say this: political niceties with the moderate-mainstream religious does not change the fact that they are part of the problem. How about the moderate-mainstream religious drop the pretense and openly reject the fundies by being as outspoken to protect secular government, science, education as the non-believers. After all, the fundies will come for you next.

Contingency or Convergence?

Perception

Meet the Religious Right Charlatan Who Teaches Tea Party America The Totally Pretend History They Want to: David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

Lawrence O'Donnell - NOM Defector Louis Marinelli Turns Gay Marriage Advocate: Eat it, NOM.

Thought Experiment: Fundamentalist Atheism

Mass hysteria! Science world buzzing over rumours the elusive 'God particle' has finally been found : Oh wait. Scratch that. The media jumped the gun again.

In the 15th century, Satanic automata wigged out churchgoers: Who you think enjoyed grabbing Satan’s crank and winding him up more: Nuns or Priests? I await the answers in the comments.  

Japan's Radiation Contamination Protocols Align with Old Testament Laws: This is not an Onion article. No. Really.

New theory of evolution for spiral galaxy arms

Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus: Good one Phil Zuckerman! Wait...where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah...awkward.

Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian

The ad that could help fuel a health crisis: It’s too bad the children potentially suffer and not their idiot parents.

US Catholic charity charged poor folk for free flu jabs, and pocketed the cash: If you can’t trust the Catholic Church who can you trust?

Perceived Atheist Prevalence Reduces Anti-Atheist Prejudice

The Skeptic’s Collection: A collection of movies and videos from Atheist Movies.


Poll: Belief in supreme being strong across globe: Reports of religion’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

AFA Video Uses Fake Quote From John Quincy Adams To Prove "The Biblical Foundations Of Government": David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

"The Thing": A 140,000-Year-Old Organism Discovered in Antarctica's Ice-Shrouded Lake Vostok

DO ALIENS SPEAK PARTICLE-TONGUE?

Chimps will follow their leader even when it’s the stupid thing to do: Obviously, this explains a lot.

Everything Should Operate According to Biblical Principles: David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

As many of you know horrific tornadoes cut a swath through the American South last night. Tuscaloosa, Alabama was one of the hardest hit places when a mile wide tornado ripped right through town. This is personal for me since I attended the University of Alabama as a graduate student in anthropology. Most of my friends have checked in and everyone is physically safe, but the devastation is unreal. Homes are gone, utilities are out and food and water are scarce in some areas.

If you can, please donate to Red Cross. If I find other charities I’ll update the post. Thanks.

Online: go to www.alredcross.org and click on the "donate now" link on the homepage.

Call: 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and you will be prompted to a menu that includes financial donations.

Text: "Red Cross" to 90999. A response will include two options for donations, either to Japan or for Disasters: domestic and spring storms.

Please help find these missing people...

Alabama Storms People Locator



Check out photos and videos of the damage after the jump. ROLL TIDE!

Perception



The primary function of the human brain is to integrate sensory stimuli into what we call "experience."

We marvel when we see a connection between the objects or events that we perceive and assume that the connection is an act of divinity.

We praise the symmetry of the world around us while completely ignoring that the synthesis of the mass of sensory static occurs in our brain.

God is literally in our head.





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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thought Experiment: Fundamentalist Atheism

I have a thought experiment: what would a Fundamentalist Atheist be?

Atheism is the absence of or the rejection of a belief in any deity or deities.

Fundamentalism is strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Please note that I am not discussing “extremists.” This is not about bombing abortion clinics, jihadists, or any violent actions taken in the name of a religious belief, or for the sake of this argument, non-religious beliefs.

Theism and religion, as theism’s natural result, have no empirical proof for the belief systems and must operate on faith. Faith, by its very nature, is not based on proof and in many instances there is direct, contradictory evidence refuting beliefs based on faith. Many moderate theists smooth their cognitive dissonance by taking a relativist stance on scripture. This allows room for discussion on even central tenets of the religion without compromising the belief.

Conversely, fundamentalists ignore obvious discrepancies within their own beliefs and scriptures while having no objective, empirical proof that the supernaturalism is true. They even go so far as to deny and attack (verbally and politically) the methods in which objective reality is established; whether that is history, science, logic or philosophy. They are clearly delusional. Mainline, moderate theists will balk or shirk at that language, but they know it is truly an appropriate adjective. Many just will not say it aloud for fear of being branded “not a true Christian” or worse; realizing that if this other group that shares many of the same beliefs is wrong then what of their own?

What claim could an atheist make that is based on observable, quantifiable evidence and would fly in the face of reason? What would be "crazy?"

As defined above, it would seem at first glance that atheists could very well be fundamentalists. ”Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles” is actually a loose definition. What sets it apart is the word “strict.” This connotes an inflexibility. The difference is in the level of commitment. Religious fundamentalists will not change their minds even when presented with an abundance of evidence that conflicts with their “basic ideas and principles.” After all there are still people that believe the Sun revolves around the Earth! An atheist, presented with an abundance of evidence that conflicts with their “basic ideas and principles” will be forced to change that belief. I would imagine this may occur begrudgingly, but it would occur nonetheless. After all, for many atheists this is the only barrier between believing in something and not believing in something. However, in the history of the world this has never happened. At least there is no evidence of it happening. There is not a single piece of objective, empirical evidence supporting supernaturalism, theism, Creation myth, the Flood, the divinity of Jesus, etc., ad naseum.

Even if (IF!) there is a god, it would have to be described as one that has operated in a manner similar to the current paradigm where the deity purposely hides itself and any evidence of it's existence; for whatever reason it may have. Is it completely unjustifiable to deny the existence of that deity?  What strict principle is this asserting contrary to evidence?

Lord Patton, the new head of the BBC recently stated that "It makes people think I'm peculiar and lack intellectual fibres because I don't have any doubts about my faith, but I'd be terrified to have doubts." That is a fundamentalist statement. Not a single doubt about his principle belief exists although there is no corroborative evidence to support it and, in fact, contradictory evidence of those beliefs.

I have doubts. I have doubts about everything. I question my atheism. I question whether antitheism is the correct approach as a secular individual in countering religious fundamentalism and extremism. I even question (GASP!) the Big Bang Theory, abiogenesis, and evolution. Why? Because I am not a drone. These things should be questioned along with everything else in this universe. Especially anything taken on faith. As soon as significant evidence is presented challenging something I adhere to, I would reevaluate my beliefs and worldview. It would be admittedly painful, but I would do it. Would Lord Patton? Would Pat Robertson or any number of Evangelicals? Would your local various clergy? I doubt it. (<--- pun). They do not have evidence for the initial belief in the first place and there is a multitude of historical, philosophical, logical, and scientific evidence that clearly contradicts faith on a daily basis. Yet here we are, talking about how terrifying it would be to have doubts in a world that is full of them. There is nothing strict about that.


Mid-Week Rant: Sam Harris: Misconceptions About Atheism



via ForaTV

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No End in Sight : A Commentary

Inspired by Working for the End Times:

The world will end on 21 May 2011 at 6:00 PM [PST]. I am not certain about the time zone, but the prediction came from a man who lives in California and I imagine that the Almighty would account for this while providing the revelation. The charlatan in question is Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, CA. Camping is the originator of the latest End Times craze and the founder of the ubiquitous Family Radio Network. This network owns 66 stations and is responsible for the rash of billboards across the US.

Camping reveals the secret to his calculations in an article in The Independent.

He says the world will end on 21 May, because that will be 722,500 days from 1 April AD33, which he believes was the day of the Crucifixion. The figure of 722,500 is important because you get it by multiplying three holy numbers (five, 10 and 17) together twice. "When I found this out, I tell you, it blew my mind," he said.

This blows my mind too, but for different reasons. First of all, there are a lot of holy numbers: 3, 7, 12, 40, 666 (well, its in the Bible right?). And he multiplied the numbers by 2. Is 2 a holy number? WELL IS IT? Second, (assuming that Jesus was a real person). How do we know that April 1st AD33 is the actual day of his death? The Calender of Jesus (first find on a google search) says:

Jesus was crucified at 9 AM on the Passover, 14 Nisan 3791 [Mark 15:25], which was Wednesday, April 25, 31 AD; suffering pain-unimaginable, Jesus died shortly after 3 PM that dark afternoon [ref. Mat 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46].

I am not pointing this out to discredit Camping's calculations. There is no point to doing that. I didn't even verify his math. I just want to call attention to the very high probability of Camping coming to any other date.

Third, is the money. The ridiculous number of followers who are giving their last cent to this man and his delusional campaign with literally no concern for their future. Does anyone think these people are starting college funds for their children? Or having mammograms? Are they making mortgage payments on their homes? In a struggling economy, can America afford this brand of madness? Mark my words: within 7 days of May 21st, someone is going to kill their child, or themselves, or both. It will be either in preparation for the Rapture, or in the aftermath when they realize that they are now homeless or poverty stricken.

Obviously this is batshit. That is not up for debate. Even the vast majority of Christians agree because most reasonable people know crazy when they hear it. The media attention is about on par with Balloon Boy (another hoax). This is an example of theology gone off the rails. Very few people are taking it seriously but it's still dangerous. There are real world consequences. Do I think he should be silenced? Of course not. I think there should be a criminal investigation if Mr. Camping profits financially from this charade. I don't expect one, because my belief system is based on evidence and precedence. This is not extremism. Its fundamentalism. It should not be exempt from, or immune to --ridicule. Check back with us on May 22.



Working for the End Times


I'll keep this quick as I am just ranting.

The following article Atheists Mock Rapture Prediction as 'Nonsense' discusses the Rapture prediction for May 22, 2011 and how the mean ol' atheists are mercilessly mocking the believers. David Silverman of American Atheists states that:

"This is nothing new," said American Atheists President Dave Silverman in a statement. "Self-declared Christian prophets have a long track record predicting the end of the world. What distinguishes this latest round of warnings, though, is the sheer scale, and the cultural backdrop of 'gloom and doom' over everything from the economy to the environment."

The article then details how many Christians are also rejecting the prediction.

"The end of times is something that we all expect and hope for and look forward to but most Christians aren't in the business of trying to predict that date. They are working toward that date," Dr. Thomas B. Slater, professor of New Testament at Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology

I just wanted to highlight the lunacy of Dr. Slater’s statement. They look forward to and work for the end of times. If ever there was evidence of the apocalyptic, suicidal death cult in Christianity this is it. They don’t see it that way since they will be “saved” and everyone else will burn for eternity in the Lake of Fire. The crazy thing is that this is supposed to be the “reasonable” Christian voice in the article.



Respect for Other's Beliefs...


...is a one-way street.



It is generally considered completely socially appropriate for a believer to be up front and open about their faith. Public affirmations and prayers are normal and most don't even acknowledge how often this occurs because they are not separated from it. It happens all the time with public statements of "God bless," "Thank God," and in modern mediums like Facebook where people affirm their faith for all to see with random statements such as "Trust in God. He has such an amazing plan for us."

Conversely, any public statement of doubt or non-belief is not only considered taboo, but immediately is labeled as extreme, disrespectful, or militant. Even genuinely innocuous statements of non-belief are immediately taken as attacks on another's faith. This is illustrative of a self-centeredness of the religious (not surprising since believers think themselves as special and the Earth is the center of the universe) and likely evidence of a shallowness of faith. Any and all external denials of faith become denials of THEIR faith. They cannot differentiate between the two even when the denial is in no way directed towards them.

Neil deGrasse Tyson points out that at no time have scientists picketed outside of churches to protest the incorrect teachings regarding the natural and explainable universe by religion, however various sciences are under constant attack from the religious. These protests by theists are due to science negating supernatural explanations for rational and natural explanations of phenomena or contradicting their religious-based morals; which are not objective, universal morals. As deGrasse said, I can't think of any instance where an atheist group has protested Sunday services. This is different than an atheist group protesting prayer at public, government functions which blur the lines between church and state however most believers do not make this distinction.

They just don't get it.

We are expected to be respectful of faith and religion while our very existence is considered the gravest sin. What is even mote disturbing is that some of us are expected to be respectful of our family's faith by actually attending church with them on occasion. Why? What is THEIR need for us to attend a religious service that we not only disbelieve in, but find objectionable? Why is it important for us to respect their belief system and our lack of faith/belief is NOT important enough for them to respect? As usual it is not a two way street with the faithful. They demand respect of their beliefs while dismissing all others. A calm, rational, tit-for-tat discussion of belief vs non-belief is automatically labelled as hateful and intolerant on the atheist's part. At no point is the fact acknowledged that belief in god is not a default and there is not a single shred of evidence for the existence of a supernatural world/universe/dimension. None. Which worldview is the rational one?




.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Morning Quotes: James Randi

  • “To make sure that my blasphemy is thoroughly expressed, I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition, that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s), that devils, demons, angels and saints are myths, that there is no life after death, heaven nor hell, that the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and that the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place -- not to mention the "ethnic cleansing" presently being performed by Christians in our world -- and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women.”
  • “Sir, there is a distinct difference between having an open mind and having a hole in your head from which your brain leaks out.”
  • “The New Age? It's just the old age stuck in a microwave oven for fifteen seconds.”
  • “The only difference is that religion is much better organised and has been around much longer, but it's the same story with different characters and different costumes.”
  • “Heroin also makes people feel better, but I wouldn't recommend using heroin.”
  • “If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, then he's doing it the hard way.”
  • “Far from being a curse, it might be lucky to disturb a pharaoh's tomb. These people beat  the life span expectation for those days by about a year.”
  • “I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He's proven — time and again — to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as He sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In His wisdom, He directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and He wouldn't have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse Him as we flail about vainly trying to appease Him. I vote that we dump Him.”
  • “There exists in society a very special class of persons that I have always referred to as the Believers. These are folks who have chosen to accept a certain religion, philosophy, theory, idea or notion and cling to that belief regardless of any evidence that might, for anyone else, bring it into doubt. They are the ones who encourage and support the fanatics and the frauds of any given age. No amount of evidence, no matter how strong, will bring them any enlightenment. They are the sheep who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized… the U.S. Patent Office handles an endless succession of inventors who still produce perpetual-motion machines that don't work, but no number of idle flywheels will convince these zealots of their folly; dozens of these patent applications flow in every year. In ashrams all over the world, hopping devotees of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will never abandon their goal of blissful levitation of their bodies by mind power, despite bruises and sprains aplenty suffered as they bounce about on gym mats like demented (though smiling) frogs, trying to get airborne. Absolutely nothing will discourage them.”
  • "I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world--the real world--around me as is possible. Now, you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control. I've never involved myself in narcotics of any kind, I don't smoke, and I don't drink because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality--fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers--and I want to be as aware as I possibly can. That means giving up a lot of fantasies that might be comforting in some ways, but I'm willing to give that up in order to live in an actually real world, or as close as I can get to it."
  • “Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic. And it doesn't work.“

On Christian Faith Healers:
Well first of all they don't do any faith healing, I think I can say that from a point of view of authority. I investigated for my book 'The Faith Healers' 104 cases of people who said they had been healed by faith healers or about whom it was said they were healed. And I found out those 104 people belonged to three classes: first class is people who never had the disease that they thought they did. A quick example of that is a woman who said she'd been healed of throat cancer where the faith healer admitted he touched her on the forehead. So I questioned her further, and eventually got to talk to her doctor. And her doctor sort of shook his head and he said, 'I have examined her for throat cancer at least 15 times in the past few years. Her mother died of it some years ago and every time she gets a sore throat of any kind, or a frog in her voice or whatever, she swears she has throat cancer. She comes to me and I examine her, and say, "No, no trace of any abnormality there" but she still wants to believe she has throat cancer.'

The second class of people that I examined in those 104 people, were people who still had the diseases of which they said they'd been healed. One gentleman, he said he'd been healed of diabetes. W.P. Grant, who had apparently treated this man by again hitting him on the forehead with his palm. There has never been a recorded case of diabetes being healed but it can be treated effectively either with insulin or other drugs that simulate the effect of insulin. He said, 'I'm aware of that, but I want to testify to my healing.' I said, 'OK, can I talk to your doctor?' and he said, 'Yes'. There was a pause and he said, 'By the way, my doctor won't agree that I've been healed.' I said, 'Wait now, either you are healed or you're not healed.' He said, 'Yes, but my doctor's not a Christian you see.' And he said, 'Oh I see, you're one of those sceptical people?' I said, 'Yes indeed I am, Sir, I admit that.' And he said, 'Well, I don't think I want any more of this conversation.' I said, 'One question more: are you still taking insulin?' He said, 'I thought you'd ask that.' He said, 'Yes, the Devil makes me take the insulin.'

The third class of people was even sadder. They were people who were already dead by the time I got around to interview them. And one case was in St Louis, Missouri, we went up to the front door and we were just knocking on the front door and they opened the front door and the gentleman was being wheeled out in the body bag on a gurney. He had died of the disease he said he'd been healed of, just the night before.

I can't say that faith healing has never worked or that it doesn't ever work. All I can say is my experience is 100% failure.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Age of Reason: An Excerpt

"From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea, and acting upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the christian system, or thought it to be a strange affair; I scarcely knew which it was: but I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee of the church, upon the subject of what is called Redemption by the death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man, that killed his son, when he could not revenge himself any other way; and as I was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. This was not one of those kind of thoughts that had any thing in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of doing it. I believe in the same manner to this moment; and I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.
It seems as if parents of the christian profession were ashamed to tell their children any thing about the principles of their religion. They sometimes instruct them in morals, and talk to them of the goodness of what they call Providence; for the Christian mythology has five deities: there is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, the God Providence, and the Goddess Nature. But the christian story of God the Father putting his son to death, or employing people to do it, (for that is the plain language of the story,) cannot be told by a parent to a child; and to tell him that it was done to make mankind happier and better, is making the story still worse; as if mankind could be improved by the example of murder; and to tell him that all this is a mystery, is only making an excuse for the incredibility of it."