Sunday, March 2, 2008

Shocking Conclusions (Not)

The argument is that Islamic tradition has been gradually hijacked by various -
often conservative - cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of
social control.

From, an article on Turkey's efforts to reform Islam by reinterpreting the "hadiths," or jettisoning those which historical analysis suggests are redactions.

Religion, interpreted creatively, as a means of SOCIAL CONTROL! Say it ain't so!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Moment of Clarity

I've always been baffled at the theocratic right's implicit assumption that the bible rather than the Constitution should be the supreme law of the land, despite the fact that our nation was clearly founded as a secular state.

However, I never thought a credible candidate for high office would be so foolish as to explicitly state this assertion. Thanks, Mike Huckabee, for making it clear that you are a theocrat.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Excellent New Book from the National Academies

Although the introduction soft-pedals a bit by claiming that evolution and religion are not incompatible, this is still an excellent book, available as a free PDF. Personally, the realization that humans are yet another evolved species certainly helped me on my way to atheism.

Read this FREE online!
PDF Summary

Monday, December 31, 2007

Keep the "Mithra" in Mithramas

Don't forget the reason for the season: pandering to pre-Christian beliefs, such as Mithraism.

Via, which breaks it all down quite nicely. Sigh, sometimes I think we atheists are just spitting in the wind, using all these silly "facts" and our "reason" to support our arguments.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Evidence Doesn't Destroy Free-Will

I was thinking a bit more about yesterday's post regarding sufficient evidence. Specifically, Coren's point about god providing just enough evidence to allow belief, but not so much that we would lack the freedom to disbelieve:
If God were good, He would make Himself obvious. Not really. God makes
himself just sufficiently evident to allow us freedom.

Like so much theist argument, this sounds nice and probably suffices to sway most believers (even the wavering believers) who don't examine this assertion too closely. The underlying premise is that an overwhelming body of evidence would make it impossible for humans to exercise the freedom to disbelieve. However, this is clearly false, as demonstrated by any number of other cases where availability of evidence has had no bearing on individual freedom to believe or disbelieve. For example:
  • There is overwhelming evidence to support the theory of evolution through natural selection, but the vast majority of Americans choose not to believe it, opting instead to hold creationist beliefs supported by only 0.14% of the scientific community.
  • There is no evidence of a US government conspiracy to orchestrate the attacks of 9/11, yet many people choose to believe that this is precisely what transpired.
  • There is clear and convincing evidence that NASA landed on the moon in 1969, yet some people demonstrate free-will by rejecting this evidence.
  • Some people even choose to reject the notion that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

This list could go on and on, indicating that the availability or absence of evidence has no bearing upon an individual's freedom to accept or reject a particular belief. Indeed, in the case of evolution, the availability of copious evidence has had no impact upon the majority's ability to hold a reject a well-supported belief. In the general case, however, the better the evidence, the more likely people are to accept a belief.

So, god could choose to present clear, unambiguous proof of his existence without fear of destroying free-will. Indeed, presenting such evidence would probably increase the likelihood of god-belief, thereby reducing the number of people destined for eternal damnation. Sounds like a reasonably course of action for a loving god! Instead, we have no falsifyable method for detecting the existence of god, and a world in which the method of reason--rather than the method of pure faith--consistently produces better decision-making results.

In keeping with religion's complete perfection (as a completely perfect scam), early author covered themselves against the contingency that many would try to use reason to find god:

"You shall not put the LORD your God to the test..."

The author should have completed this passage with its logical conclusion: "For he shall fail."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sufficiently Evident?

It's amazing the drivel you find in apologetic writing. Take, for example, this recent piece by Michael Coren.

While simply dismissing recent atheist books by saying, "Nothing new here. Nothing clever or challenging, either," Coren does make some assertions (without much logical support) to address a few issues, like the hidden-ness of God.

If God were good, He would make Himself obvious. Not really. God makes himself
just sufficiently evident to allow us freedom.

Not true, however, even on the most cursory analysis. By applying the same time of reasoning we typically use to understand the universe--the scientific method of observation, theory, and testing--the existence of God fails time and time again to be proven. (Of course, it is a logical fallacy to rejoice in the fact that God's existence has not been dis-proven.) How, then, does this meet the criterion of "sufficiently evident"?

Is God's message, "In all other areas, apply reason, but regarding my existence, use the method of pure faith. Of course, this will allow all manner of charlatans, sociopaths, and psychopaths to claim that they are speaking on my behalf, and you have no method of falsifying those claims, but remember: I love you!"

"And, by the way, if your reason leads you to believe that the world's affairs would best be settled by humans, within a secular system that disallows anyone from invoking my name to support their arguments, I'm going to punish you for eternity. But don't forget the love!"
He's the great lover, not the satanic rapist. He desperately wants us to love
Him and return to Him, but we have to make that decision ourselves.

He sounds a lot more like a forlorn, desperate stalker, who will kill you if you don't "love" him. This whole line of "reasoning" merely highlights that religion is an utterly perfect scam. If you're espousing a system of belief that doesn't hold up to rational inquiry or scientific testing, how can you squelch disbelief? Easy: make disbelief the very worst sin, make belief the only requirement, and threaten infidels with eternal misery. Genius!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Atheists Should Be Quiet

The next time one of the faithful tells you that atheists should quietly allow others to hold their own beliefs without challenging them, point him to this article:

Centuries of prostelization, including forced conversion, continue to this day. Rather than pushing a version of god at sword-point, however, the modern version harnesses the power of mass marketing, pop psychology, and large-scale distribution. Regardless, the purpose is the same: to convince people to adopt a particular religious viewpoint.

In the face of this, it makes sense to trumpet the atheist message as loudly as possible. Indeed, if you believe (as I do) that religion is a harmful influence on our society, you have a duty to present an alternative worldview.