Tag Archives: reason

Love letters from hell

23 Nov

Our godless billboards went up aroundColumbiayesterday and we’ve been getting some amazing hate mail. My friend over at Ashley F. Miller did a great write up on some of the responses that we’ve been getting. I highly recommend you check that out here. As for me, I want to share with you a few of my favorites. I have made no edits (except personal info) to the responses. They are copied as they were written. So without further ado, here is a delicious sampling of the hate mail we’ve been getting. (EDIT: I have numbered each comment in order to distinguish between commenters. )

1. TO COLUMBIACOR ORG

THATS OK TO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD. ITS NOT FOR EVERYONE.

SINCE THE CONSTITUTION REMOVES RELIGIOUS STATUES, WHY SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO PLACE A SIGN OF NONE RELIGION

IF YOU WANT PROOF THAT THERE IS A GOD.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS VISIT ME

CARLOS ROBLES

<Apartment address>

COLUMBIA,SC29210

<phone number>

I EXPECT TO SEE YOU.  IN GOD WE TRUST

FOR I HAVE BROUGHT BACK THE DEAD TO LIFE THERE ARE WITTINESS AND VIDEOS OF THIS.

SOLDIER OF GOD

CARLOS ROBLES

KING OF THE ROUND TABLE

FATHER OF THEHOLYLAND

HEAD HIGH COUNSEL MEMBER UN

More crazy:

2. That true God. I was surprise why to say can’t believe God?! They people already know God is true in the Heaven. I believe GOD in Heaven! I never say that unbeliever God before. Should to be change post Believe God, and not say Godless period!

3. What does the year 2011 mean?….. It means the age of JESUS. And he is coming back. Believe it or not.

4. Kewl! Just as it was written many years ago. That only means one thing! Come Quickly My Lord and My God!

GO TO HELL!!!1 (God is love)

5. There are only two races in this world, the christian and non-christian. There is coming a day very soon that those who don’t believe there is A God will open their eyes in **** and wish that they would have believed. Then it will be to late. God is Love1

6. Not alone? You will be soon!

7. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

8. Well its simple,believe in god or go to hell!

9. To all you atheist and “agnostics”. Believe or dont believe in God, but the day you die, you WILL come face to face with GOD and you’ll have to explain to God why you didnt believe in him. You are saved by God’s grace..not Walmart’s, Target or the Almighty Dollar. There is NO such thing as “evolution” either. If things have changed, it’s God’s will..not a happen so. So go ahead and do what you all do, but as said, you will find out the day you die. Good luck on that.

10. I would much rather live my life believing that there is one true God and find out later that there isn’t, than to live my life as if there isn’t, only to find out later that there is! I guess we’ll all find out for ourselves on judgement day. As for me, I know in my heart that Jesus died for my salvation and for the salvation of all sinners, and that one day I’ll join Him in heaven with the rest of the believers. Heaven or Hell is your choice… I’ll take the high road, thank you…

11. WIS/TV… Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason, said “Such non-theists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them.” /////////////////////////////​/////////////////////////////​////////////////// In a related story—it’s reasonable to say that what the Coalition doesn’t know, as well Is…if they stay their course—they’ll find their community—a very hot place known as…**** !!!

12. The billboard should read “Don’t believe in God? You WILL be alone one day!!!!”

13. **** is getting HOTTER as we speak! For those who don’t want to believe, that is your choice, but don’t beg for mercy on your day of Judgement!

14. People of all religious beliefs and backgrounds, remember one thing please. When it’s all over and you find that you were wrong, it’s TOO late then to make a change. So, be sure that what or who you believe in or don’t believe in is the right way to go, cause you only get one shot. I know where I’m going. Maybe I’ll see you there. If not, say hello to Hitler and Bin Laden for me, OK!

15. They might as well spend all their money on silly billboards…they can take it (to ****) with them….

16. I THINK WE SHOULD PUT UP A SIGN RIGHT NEXT TO THAT ONE THAT SAYS “GOING TO ****? YOU ARE NOT ALONE” I WOULD DONATE. THE ONLY REASONUSCHRISTIANS “PUSH” OUR BELIEFS ON ANYONE IS BECAUSE WE READ IN OUR BIBLES THAT JESUS CHRIST COMMANDS WE SHARE THE NEWS “SO THAT NONE MAY PERISH”. I SHARE JESUS BECAUSE I GENUINELY FEEL SORRY FOR THOSE THAT DO NOT KNOW HIM. TO KNOW JESUS IS TO KNOW PEACE

17. No, if you do not believe in God you are not alone. But you soon will be.

18. choose this day whom you will serve…you cant serve both…so I quess it would go like this,,,serve God or go to hell….Revelaton 20:10 where the devil,his angels, and the false prophet go. Nite all.

I am offended that you exist!

19. I just want to let you know I am very offended about your billboards. Why can you all put this up and we cannot have billboards with God’s name in it for the good? I really feel this is not fair. Just remember God is watching you.

20. This article made me sick and so do half of you posters. That’s what is wrong with the world today. You should be ashamed. I choose to praise God and if you choose not to, then that is your problem.

21. My heart just breaks, as I read this article I cried. What is this world coming to? May all christians not react in a negative way. Just pray for these non believers and spread God’s word and love with your neighbors, friends, family, and everyone you come in contact with..You never know who doesnt know the True Lord and Savior.

22. Oh my goodness. Ok – YES they are indeed BOTH the holiest of seasons. Good gravy – I’m glad you’re posting and showing everyone how ridiculous you are.

This is a CHRISTIAN COUNTRY!!!

23. This country was founded on Christian beliefs and we are One Nation Under God. God brought us here and He can take us away whenever He chooses. People are free to believe how they choose, but here inAmerica, and some other countries as well, we believe in God. All the evil you see is from Satan. God is love and the highest power in the world. God blessAmericaand God bless us all. I am very thankful for all the blessings God bestows on me and my family daily. My question is this…when something bad starts happening, do you pray…I do. Prayer is powerful and I love Godwith all my heart and I am thankful He is in my life and my heart.

24. “But he whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my father who is in heaven” Matt 10:33. I believe in God, and I believe that there are plenty of people who use atheist to do whatever they want without conscience. I actually take offense to this billboard, this country was founded on Christian beliefs and those same laws that our forefathers used to create this country are the same laws used to take our beliefs from us. If you don’t respect our beliefs please explore countries that support yours.

I KNOW GOD EXISTS!

25. First of all I am a believer and I do believe in God and in satan. Well it has been said in the Bible, which I know was written by man, and passed down through the ages that satan is preparing his army for when the end of the earth comes, and yes it will end. This is satans way of getting into your mind if you let him, but if you have your mind stayed on Jesus they can flash their signs until the end of time to no avail. The $7000 that the signs cost could have been used to help feed the hungry but its their money so they can use it however they choose too. I love everybody but I do not have to like your beliefs .If you don’t believe there is something else besides you try holding your breath until YOU get ready to breathe. You can’t do it. Something MAKES you breath again, just like when you’re dead. The drs. can pump air into you ALL day long, but you will never breathe again, because that power says your existance here is over. JUST MY OPINION AND YES I’M FIGHTING ON GODS SIDE.

26. King James Bible For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. For this is God’s word not mine. But I beleive there is a God and I know I don’t stand alone.

27. I don’t know about anyone else but I am a Christan I love the Lord God and his son Jesus who died for my sins everyone has a right to believe what they want and God give them this free will to decide I think that these bill boards are wrong they go against every thing I know is right. I know God is very real and I know he sent his son Jesus Christ to die for my sins and yours all you have to ask him to for forgiveness these bill boards give these people a chance to say my God is not real well I am using it to also let every know that he is very real and very alive and he is coming back for his children soon I am so thankful he saved me from hell.

28. For those who dont believe will be the ones who when the time comes will be demanding to be let into theArkwhen the world does come to an end. For the way of life is through Jesus Christ and for the way to Death is those who choose not to believe. He exists and existed and he will come back to judge the living and the dead. How he will come back is written in the bible. I know that God and Jesus are real. I have survived a lot of things that should have killed me along time ago. I been through a ton of car accidents, been hit in the head by a softball, had illnesses that should have done me in but because I believe in God and Jesus they both make sure I am protected, provided for and guided to do what is right. I hear God in everything I do. I have seen signs of God watching seen signs of his creations and felt his presence when ever things are dark and hard.

29. we have our god and he know’s everything he’s great he gives us life and nature everyday praise our god

30. Thank God that I do believe in Him! Merry CHRISTmas! GLORY to GOD in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.

31. I still celebrate the holidays because of the One and Only!! I still believe in God and He is the Reason for My Seasons.. God BlessAmerica…

Atheists are fools

32. The billboard is fine for non-believers.They can all celebrate their atheist holiday..April fools day.

33. THIS IS STUPID AND ITS FROM SATAN AN THEY WANT US TO SEE THIS BULL CRAP…THEY CAN HAVE GAY PARTYS THEY CAN HAVE SINFULL STUFF TO HURT JESUS…BUT WHEN WE PUT SOMETHING ABOUT A GAY OR OF THE BIBEL ON A BILLBOARD THEY TAKE IT OFF…BUT WHO EVER DID THAT I HOPE GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOU FOOLISH GODLESS PEOPLE…IF GODS NOT REAL HOW DO YOU WAKE UP IF MY GODS NOT REAL HOW DO YOU HAVE LIFE IF GODS NOT REAL HOW EVERY TIME WE GET IN A TRAP AN THE FIRST THING WE SAY IS JESUS CHRIST…WAKE UP AN SMELL THE AIR…MY GOD IS SENDING YOU WARNINGS…there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

34. Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (I Timothy 2:5-6)Mark 1:15 …The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel…Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God…Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4…J-E-S-U-S HE IS MORE POWERFUL THEN THE WHOLE US HE IS…CANT DO HIM LIKE JUDAS DID CUS IF I DID THAT WOULD BE WHAT FOOLISH IS…YUNG

35. Nothing times nobody equals everything. This is the atheist thesis of utter nonsense. That there is a creation implies a creator. How this creator is manifest is a matter of faith

36. just dont pay thesecolumbiacor fools any attention. they are looking for something but dont know what.

37. The Columbia Coalition of Reason is made up of four Midlands groups: the Freethought Society of the Midlands, Secular Humanists of South Carolina Midlands, Pastafarians at the University of South Carolina and Camp Quest South Carolina…who all have reprobated minds…carry on fools…as the Bible says the man that says God does not exist is the greatest fool of all. God help you all.

This is the work of SATAN!!!

38. Why is it important that you tell the world you don’t believe? This is the work of Satan, you better believe it. I am sadden by this display.

39. It is our Christrian duty to witness to others and teach them that there IS a GOD, and he will return to collect us VERY SOON! Satan is having a field day on this earth collecting the non-believers, so pray for them. Heaven awaits those who walk in blind faith. May God’s peace and grace go with you always!

This is reverse discrimination!

40. You know, I find it appalling that this advertisement is being defended by those who criticize religious beliefs of others because of a differing opinion. You want to have your right to say you do not believe, yet you want to criticize a Church for advertising; or you belittle those who do believe by posting some inane top 11 list of how to spot a Christian. It is nothing more than reverse discrimination. I also find it appalling that the groups who want to “advertise” atheism also advocate the removal of prayer and or religious references from all facets of the public/State and Federal levels. You demand your right but want to take away mine? Very disturbing. But, again, reverse discrimination. In a society as advanced as we like to think we are, WHY does it have to be an argument for one or the other? Why are your rights so much more important than mine? Why is it important to you that I understand why you DON’T believe when you could care less if I DO believe? If EVERYONE is entitled to what they want to believe or not believe, and live in peace and be happy, then why do some feel the need to work so hard to make everything and everyone conform to their beliefs?

Vague Threats

41. i do believe in God: so people need to watch out what the put on a sign. boy if my sister get hold of this she will be calling on God to take it down:

HELP! HELP! I’m being oppressed!!!

42. I am very much a believer in God, and I believe there is truth in the statement, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” HOWEVER, I whole heartily support these people’s right to express their personal beliefs. Where I draw the line is when these people, who are a very small minority, try to force their beliefs upon the general population.

43. why don’t they do this campaign in countries likeIranorSaudi Arabia, i bet those atheists feel even more lonely! American Christians don’t force their religion on people,they, just like the CoR, like to get The Word out, but what you do with it, its up to the individual. TheUSAstill has religious freedom last i checked.

44. “We’re your friends…” really? Friends don’t slam your beliefs during your holiest of months. If you’re our friends why not put the billboard up in June? The answer is because you enjoy slamming Christians. Give me a break. You have the right to do whatever you want, but have some class and put your signs up during another time.

45. My question to the atheists and agnostics, what is the real purpose of the billboards during one of the most holiest times for Christian and Jews? Where were you in June?

46. Another example of the liberal left forcing atheism down peoples thought. Atheism is a religion by the way

I’ll pray for you…

47. All you can do is just like Jessica said… Just pray for these non believers and spread God’s word and love with your neighbors, friends, family, and everyone you come in contact with..

48. For us that beilieve in God we will be praying 4 u! Just remember God can save anyone who believes in him and give them greater things than any worldly posessions

Misc

49. To all atheists: If as a Christian I’m right …. then you lose. If you’re right … then you still lose. Good luck with those odds.

50. What happens if a person doesn’t believe atheism exists?

51.”Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone.” Unless you look at the really big picture and realize you are. Completely. Alone.

52. You know, if Hitler and Lt. Worf kissed, their mustaches wouldn’t touch.

53. If you choose to disregard God, you are alone

54. The liberal left so scare that they will have to pay for the destruction they have cuased in the world that they refuse to face the truth. God bless us all. I may put up pro Christmas billboards up on the other side of their stupid signs for a few years. Or on the LED on just as you come intocolumbia…Yep I think I should look into thatah…. the 1%

55. Never met an atheist on the battlefield!

56. I wonder if these people realize they are part of God’s plan for us. He said before His Son returns there will be multitudes turning away from Him.  Isn’t it nice to know that we can see His plan unfolding right before our eyes.  Praise God for His Word will not return void.  I am so happy the Atheists posted this large billboard.  They are fulfilling the Word with their actions. Now let’s see how many want to be part of fulfilling the Bible prophesy.Ive never met an atheist on his deathbed.

And all of this is just after the first day….

So you want to have a discussion?

1 Jan

I came across this amazing flowchart on OneFuriousLlama’s blog and then found out about this awesome website Atheistresources. Even though it’s titled “debating a christian” it’s applicable to all discussions. I never cease to be surprised at how many people don’t understand these basic rules for having a rational debate, no matter what the topic is.

(click to enlarge)

The absurd scares me

12 Nov

Absurd: having no rational or orderly relationship to human life :meaningless <an absurd universe>; also : lacking order or value <an absurd existence>

I don’t feel that definition of absurdity really covers what unnerves me. I guess I would add “levity in a grave situation.” I’m not talking about dark humor, I’m referring to something more sinister, something Marquis de Sade would come up with. The feeling I am trying to convey is a bit hard for me to articulate, so perhaps if I point to some examples:

In the movie “The Pianist” there is a scene where the Jews in the ghetto are waiting for their turn to cross the street and the Nazi guards force them to dance at gun point. The song is very light hearted and happy, and here are these starving people condemned to death being forced to dance for the amusement of their killers.

In the BBC’s Masterpiece theatre production of “Casanova” there is a scene where Casanova comes across a love (I think it might be Henriette, but I’m not sure) who is holding a ball in a town that is about to be destroyed by a volcano. Casanova want’s to get out of there with the woman, but she just laughs giddily and says “We’re all going to die!” with a wide grin on her face. Casanova’s son Giac then proceeds to have sex with a woman he knows is his sister, all while ash is raining down onto the town.

I find this type of stuff most often in war films and holocaust films. People know they are doomed and so they go insane, creating a situation that is the exact opposite of what they are going through; like having a celebration with decorations right before you’re about to die.

Another scene that sticks out in my mind is the bridge scene from Apocalypse Now. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) comes to Do Lung Bridge to find what can best be described as a chaotic hell. It is dark, people are dying, things are exploding and burning all around them, nobody is in charge, and yet there are party lights strung around the place. People are acting as if everything is normal, listening to the radio, ignoring the fact that death and destruction surround them. (This was my first brush with the absurd when I was young and it stuck with me)

Absurdity also shows up in some of the video games I play. There is a memorable sadist scene in bioshock where a man is forced to play the piano in a costume and when he fails to meet his torturor’s expectations he is executed:

Currently I’m playing Fallout 3: New Vegas which is set in a futuristic 1950’s post-nuclear apocalypse America. There are plenty of absurdities around the game like people wearing funny costumes while murdering each other. The entire world has fallen apart and some people try to carry on the whole 1950’s middle suburbia mentality.

There is a particular song that I think ephitimizes this 1950’s conservative  white suburbia housewife feel:

So what scares me about this absurdity? Well, for me it has some what of an addicting power. It’s not the same addicting power of knowingly wanting more of something, like a drug, it’s more subtle than that. I feel sometimes that I need to fight giving into absurdity. I feel like if I come in contact with too much I’ll loose my sanity and start seeing the absurd everywhere. I’ll be infected and sucked down into the absurdity well that leads to surrealism, nihilism and ultimately suicide.

The atheist dilemma:To be a dick or not to be a dick.

12 Oct

One of the issues the atheist community is currently internally debating is the issue of strategy: How to go about achieving our goals; namely a world where religion does not interfere in politics or science (in the classroom or by restricting what science examines), and where non-believers are not demonized or penalized for their disbelief. Basically: How to get us from the current position of religious saturation in all aspects of life to post-atheism where religion isn’t an issue.  There are many aspects to this process including how we organize ourselves, what do we call ourselves, how do we best allocate our resources, what court battles do we pick to fight and when, etc… The issue I wanted to talk about today was how should we go about helping the religious to see things our way,  thus weakening the power religion has over society and our lives. What I am discussing falls under the umbrella debate on accommodationism/reconciliation (whether science and religion can be compatible. I don’t think they can, but that’s not what I want to focus on).  Instead, I would like to discuss how we interact with religious people, the tactics we use, the tone of voice, etc.

The other day I read this post on Rule Hibernia titled “Richard Dawkins doesn’t get it”. Here’s a little excerpt that kinda encompasses the point of the post:

“This is what Dawkins and other don’t get: Some people you just can’t reach. Simple as that. People believe in god and religion for a whole bunch of reasons but the fundamental point is that they are all thinking in a human way, and humans it seems have a natural propensity to believe in rubbish that isn’t true. This applies to pretty much everything, not just religion. Every single atheist on the planet has blind spots, religion just happens to be off their blind spot list. We all believe certain rubbish that’s not true.The biggest mistake atheists make is to try and reason with the religious. I get so bored when I hear religious argument nowadays. I used to engage in it myself but I stopped when I finally got it. You’re not going to convert people to atheism if that is your intention. And if you want to debate for the sake of it then what’s the fucking point in that? You’re just wasting your time. The best way to deal with religious people is humour and ridicule. Slag the shit out of them. Show how retarded they are in a funny way. It makes you feel better and makes a religious person feel worse, but best of all, there is no comeback for ridicule. When you can get others to laugh at a person’s stupidity it’s very difficult for them to come back from it. And let’s face it, making fun of religions is as easy as a Catholic priest raping a 9 year old altar boy with loads of lube.”

Rule Hibernia’s sentiment was reiterated in part by The Good Atheist podcast (episode 107) at the Atheist Alliance International conference in Montreal, QC. Jacob Fortin gave a short speech entitled “Be a dick” (around the 25 minute mark in the podcast) where he highlighted the why it’s sometimes necessary to be a dick. He argues that occasionally it’s best to shame the average believer by showing them how little they know. Yes they will hate you and get defensive, but it might lead them to examine their beliefs later on in an attempt to better defend themselves next time. Secondly, it is important to shatter the notion that anything can be sacred, that something can be beyond questioning and ridicule. Lastly, Jacob said the most important thing being a dick does is that it provides relief for other atheists. He points out, and rightly so, that a lot of atheists are isolated in extremely religious communities and are forced to keep silent day in and day out. It’s like a boiler about to explode. Listening to other atheists ridicule religion provides a refreshing dose of relief.

The counterargument, or “Don’t be a dick” side, was presented at The Amazing Meeting 8 by Phil Plait who gave a speech aptly titled “Don’t be a dick.” In the speech he made the following points:  How many people have changed their mind because somebody made them feel awful? How do you tell someone they’re not thinking clearly when they’re not thinking clearly? Our brains are wired for faith; when you debunk a position, you end up reinforcing it. Skepticism is a tough sell: no magic, no afterlife, no higher moral authoritative father figure, no security, no happy ever after. On top of this, our reputation with the rest of society isn’t that great. In many cases people will prefer magic over science and prefer fantasy over reality. People’s sense of identity is wrapped up in their beliefs. With all the odds stacked against us, why the hell would we want to make it harder by insulting people? What is our goal every time we engage somebody? Are we trying to score personal points and make oursevles feel good, or are we trying to win the game?

This issue was also brought up on the podcast Reasonable Doubts. On that episode their guest was accommodationalist  Chris Mooney who made the following points: People like Dawkins and PZ Myers are really hostile sometimes; it’s not going to persuade anyone who is not on the fence. If you can’t be calm and rational when talking to another person, you’re not a very good practitioner of reason, but this doesn’t mean we have to be nicey nicey. Mooney and the hosts of Reasonable Doubts brought up a recent study on Science and Religion Today by Geoffrey Munro, professor of psychology at Towson University. The study found the following: people are more receptive to science that might disprove their beliefs if their worth and value as a person are affirmed before they go into it. People don’t make up their mind simply on facts. When people are presented with scientific information that contradicts their beliefs, they tend to devalue science and it’s ability to answer such questions. Basically, shouting at someone and tearing them down does not win them to your side, it only makes them despise you and hold onto their beliefs that much stronger…go figure. (This conclusion is backed up by several other studies, google “backfire effect”)

After the interview with Mooney ended, the hosts continued on to ask these questions: Do we alienate people who could be our allies on some things? What if we were back in the 60’s and you’re trying to get civil rights passed? Do you try and treat racist people with respect, affirming their self-worth, even though they hold such horrible and wrong positions? How do you act differently when you’re debating a factual issue (like the world being 4 billion years old) as opposed to a moral issue (like the catholic church systematically hiding and protecting thousands of child rapists, deterring condom use in AIDs infected Africa, or excommunicating rape victims for having abortions) Should you coddle people when presenting science and ridicule when talking about morality?

The Chariots of Iron podcast has also talked about this a bit. In episode 29, titled “Counter-evangelism” (starts around 1:11:00) they suggest the following approach: Don’t be a dick, avoid arguing with them, instead use the Socratic method till they hang themselves. Play stupid and get them to say out loud the ridiculous stuff they believe. Hopefully then ridicule won’t be overly necessary. The whole point is to plant the seed of doubt, not to deconvert them outright. Once the doubt is there, it will start them on the path to deconversion.

So how do I feel about all this? Well it’s a mixed bag. It’s undeniable that the science points to the fact that blasting someone out right for their beliefs will not change their mind. I think it’s obvious that when trying to plant the seed in someone’s head you must do so gently and respectfully. Try not to let them know what you’re actually doing. There is an old Buddhist proverb where Buddha comes across a burning house with children inside. The children do not know the house is on fire, and they won’t understand if he shouts to them to run because of the fire. Instead he calls to them that he has toys outside. The children run out of the house and only after that is he able to explain that the house was on fire. I feel that most of the time we have to act in a similar way. This is not to say we must compromise on the facts, but we must take baby steps. If you can get someone to accept the fact of evolution then that’s a step. After they’re comfortable with that, then you can start slowly working on pushing them further, one step at a time. If you push to hard and too fast, they’ll close up and you’ll never get through to them.

What about ridicule? Is it completely useless and counterproductive? Not entirely. Thomas Jefferson once said “Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions.” Here is where I think Rule Hibernia has a point: There are some people out there that are absolutely impervious to reason and evidence. Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Pat Robertson, Kent Hovind, and Bill Donahue come to mind. Trying to use reason against people who deny that reason is a means of arriving at truth is pure insanity.  For these people the goal is different. The goal is not to change their minds, that’s impossible; the goal is to publicly destroy their credibility and integrity. This is where ridicule works best. As the hosts on Reasonable Doubts discussed, I believe the nature of what you’re ridiculing determines how you ridicule. People like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort make fools of themselves with their factually ridiculous claims about the physical world. Here you can just satirize them without much venom. People like the pope, however, are much more sinister in their transgressions. Despite the fact that the pope and his confederates are guilty of actual crimes, they are also guilty of a great many moral ones. (Like the ones I pointed out earlier) In these cases vicious ridicule would be applicable.

Chris Mooney pointed out that combative authors like Dawkins, PZ Myers, and Hitchens don’t win over converts and I’m inclined to agree.  This does not mean that such authors don’t have a role to play. Combative authors are most effective when targeting people sitting on the fence and rallying other atheists to action.  Their books, along with podcasts, youtube videos, and local meetup groups are often the only bubble of relief that many atheists can retreat to. When you’re an underpowered and maligned minority, it’s vitally important that you have a minority space. Combative authors and satire play a role in this minority space. Outside, however, ridicule has no place in discussion with another person who’s heart and mind you’re trying to win over. It only alienates and deemns them and reflects poorly on you if your positions can’t stand on their merits alone.

Reality doesn’t matter

3 Dec

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that reality doesn’t matter to my opponents, religious and political. I’ve realized that they have their minds made up, and they don’t give a shit about the facts. If need be they will make up their own facts out of thin air, like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, etc.

If that doesn’t even work they will just vehemently deny reality until you faceplam yourself to death. I think they get pleasure out of watching intelligent people explode after they spend all this time presenting them with evidence and reasons, etc. Kirk Cameron and other religious fundamentalists love this!

It doesn’t matter that evolution is back up by mountains and mountains of evidence. It just doesn’t fucking matter. They know the truth and everything else must be the work of Satan.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is useless to waste my energy talking to these people. It’s like talking to a brick wall, and I’m only hurting myself. They have no interest in a rational debate where the facts matter. It’s like trying to play a game within a set of rules, and they don’t give a fuck about the rules, and run all out of bounds and still declare themselves victorious. It would be easy to ignore these people if they didn’t have real world impacts, but unfortunately I’m starting to worry that much of the worlds population is just as retarded as them.

Will I ever convince you god exists?

29 Nov

I consider myself a very open minded person. If someone is able to present me with enough evidence in favor of their position I will believe them, even if it means I must admit the position I previously held was wrong. I get the feeling very few people are actually willing to do this.

So what about god(s)? Well, yes, if you present to me enough evidence to prove that you’re particular god is true, and not just a fairy tale like you claim everybody else’s god to be, then I will believe you and convert. The problem is, no religion is able to do this. You see, for every “proof” put forth, there is a much simpler natural explanation. Occam’s razor.

The idea of an all powerful being that magically existed before everything and created everything out of nothing is infinitely less probable than all other natural explanations.

For example, the “Devil’s Bible” or Codex Gigas has a famous page with a drawing of the devil. The drawing stands out in that the pages upon which it is drawn are much  darker than all the other pages, almost like they were burnt.

Believers were convinced for ages that the mysterious darkness on this page was a sign of demonic possession, proof of the existence of the devil, and by extension, god.  It was only discovered recently, though scientific means, that the reason for the darkness on these 2 pages was no demonic possession, but excess exposure to UV rays, sunlight.

You see, the pages are made of animal skin, parchment, and parchment darkens naturally over time. UV rays speed up this process. People have always been fascinated with the drawing of the devil, and so they kept turning to those two pages more than others. Over time the extra UV light that those exposed pages were subjected to darkened them more than others. Simple and natural. No demons, no gods, nothing out of the ordinary.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

~ Arthur C. Clarke

Here is another problem. Say you tried to prove the existence of your particular god by some demonstration. It could be anything, lets say you manage to get your god to show their face to the entire world, say projected on the moon. This would truly be amazing and hard to explain. However, what is more likely: A) your god does exist some how, magically and outside the bounds of logic and everything else in the universe to show their face on the moon, or B) there is some technology at play that the rest of us are not privy to, but none the less has a natural explanation?

Obviously B. One of my favorite TV shows plays with this idea a lot. Stargate SG-1 in the show an evil race of aliens, the Goa’uld, use their advance technology level to trick less advanced civilizations into believing that they are gods, and should worship them as such.

The example of the projection of your god’s face on the moon is no different than any other parlor trick played by the Goa’uld. It’s infinitely more likely that there are unseen, but ultimately understandable, natural forces at work.

So in the end, it is possible that your god exists and all the others are fakes as you claim, but it is infinitely more probable that natural explanations exist, even if we do not know them at the moment, there is no reason that we will never know them.

Imaginary conversations

5 Aug

A) Hi, I’d like to tell you about my god.

B) What evidence do you have for the existence of this god?

A) Well, I just believe.

B) Sorry, but personal convictions is not evidence.

A) Well, here, this is the bible. It’s god’s word. Here is my proof. It says god exists.

B) Well here is a Harry Potter book, it says people can fly on broomsticks, how is that any more proof? Until you provide actual, verifiable evidence, I will not believe this claim you are making.

A) Well what about nature? Look around you. Is this not enough proof that there is a god? Look how complex life is!

B) Possible, but unlikely. For centuries science has been showing how things in nature can happen naturally without the need for a supernatural power. Science has a long track record of reversing our notions on how the world works as explained by religion.

A) Well prove god doesn’t exist!

B) I don’t have to. You’re the one postulating the claim that one exists. The burden of proof is on you. Until you provide conclusive evidence to support your claim it cannot be taken seriously.

A) Oh yeah? And who made up those rules?

B)  Reality. That is after all what we’re talking about here. You are making a claim about an aspect of reality, namely that in this reality there exists a god. Reality is independent of our wishes, and as such we can test the validity of ideas by examining how the preform in reality.

B) For example, in reality, it is best to assume a claim is not true until you are given conclusive evidence to prove that it is. If you believed every claim before being given evidence you wouldn’t make it very far. If a stranger came up to you and offered you a mysterious liquid, saying it would cure all your ills, would you drink it? No, you’d want some sort of proof that 1) He’s not just some crazy wacko, and 2) that the potion is not poison. If you believed his claim without insisting that he provide evidence to prove it, you could potentially be in serious danger. Reality shows us that the method of disbelief until positive evidence is provided is a valid one.

An Atheist’s take on Angels and Demons

15 May

*Spoiler Warning*

So I must admit up front that I didn’t read either of the books, just watched the movies. I went with some friends to see it this morning at midnight. It was kind of spur of the moment really, I was going to go see Star Trek with them, but we missed the movie time and decided to see this instead. I was really kind of nervous to see it with them considering how one of the friends I was with is EXTREMELY religious (albeit protestant).

I had a few fears entering the movie, namely that A) the movie would demonize Atheists and scientists (which looking back on it was a completely silly fear) and B) that Tom Hanks would “find god” by the end of the movie and stop being an Atheist, because we all know Atheists eventually come to their senses /sarcasm.

As the movie progressed, I started to think fear A was coming true. The “evil” illuminati Atheists were kidnapping and killing cardinals, and threatening to blow up Rome. I was really distraught, I kept thinking to myself “No! Humanists like the illuminati don’t do this shit! We don’t do the crap the religious do to eachother!” Needless to say, I was very happy at the end of the movie when it was revealed that the whole “scientists are trying to kill us and blow up the city” thing was really an inside job by Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor)

I was also happy that Tom Hanks didn’t “come to god” at the end of the movie. I can’t tell you how much shit like that irratates me. Atheists and skeptics are always villified in movies. In horror movies, the skeptic is usually killed off first, as punishment for not believing in the supernatural thing out to kill him, or eventually comes to believe in the ridiculous just like all the other characters. In none horror movies, they usually are “shown the light” and abandon their Atheists views by the end of the movie. (Like “I am Legend”)

So who wins? Religion or Atheism?

2 May

So in the great debate who wins? Religion or Atheism? Which makes a stronger case? Well obviously I side with Atheism, but why, when many more people side with religion.

Religion has no evidence to back up its claim that god(s) exist. The religious argue that surely we must have come from somewhere (see Unmoved Mover), but then make a completely unwarranted exception for god when someone asks where he/she/it came from, thus making the logic ad hoc. (The above link has a list of just about every argument for the existence of god(s) and rebuttals)

The religious also argue that things look designed, and therefore they are designed, presumably by their choice god who then takes a keen interest in his creation’s daily lives. Yet science has consistently debunked this idea:

(The “Made Easy” series has a LOT of really great educational videos that explain all types of scientific things on youtube.com, just search for them)

Religion also relies on its position of authority. Many of the religious were raised by religious parents, who in turn were raised by their religious parents. To them belief in god(s) is just natural, something they were raised with, and few ever think to question it. This position of authority is reinforced with elaborate costumes and large, imposing structures:

The whole point of these structures is to overwhelm the visitor with their grandeur, to make them think “Surely, the people who reside in this place cannot be wrong!” Yet they can be, for they are exactly that, people. The believers are also comforted in their belief by the existence of a great many like believers. (See ad populum fallacy)

So, what about Atheism? Well personally, I feel Atheism is strengthened through the weakness of the religious arguments, their total lack of evidence. The thing that really does it for me is the fact that science has a steady track record of discoveries and breakthroughs, religion has a steady track record of being proved wrong. Science has consistently provided natural explanations that are testable, repeatable, and thus proveable, whereas religion just makes claims based off of authority.

For some people, religion’s weak arguments and heavy reliance on arbitrary authority are enough, but for me and a growing number of people they aren’t.

The difference between science and religion

16 Mar

There is a fundamental difference in the ways science and religion operate. For religion, something just is. That’s it. Either you believe X and the religion or you do not. There is no testing or experimenting with the religion or it’s claims. Now sure there are doctrinal debates and the theologians who have them, but in the end it’s still just another flavor of X which the believe must accept to be part of the faith.

Science, on the otherhand, works in the opposite way. Every statement about how something is must be backed up with evidence, evidence that is testable over and over again.

Religion and science both try and provide answers about existence. I think there is an issue with the way science and religion give these answers. Religion gives answers with an attitude of smug, absolute certainty. The answers, whatever they are, are definite and unchanging.

Science gives answers that have an asterisk on the end with a note saying “subject to change if new and compelling evidence is found.” This makes science very fluid, open to revision. Scientists in no way claim they have all the answers. Unlike religion, science welcomes questions. If a scientist has their hypothesis proved wrong, it is just as exciting for them as if it had been proved correct. To them and advance in either direction is still an advance.

But I think this upsets people who are looking for absolute answers. They see science and they see uncertainty, where as when they look at religion they see absolute certainty. A lot of people don’t like uncertainty in their lives. They like to know what is going to happen. Yet it is a false certainty that they have. People have been certain about a great many things since the dawn of time, but that never made them correct in those certainties.

Look at the track records of science and religion. Religion’s entire history is a history of making “matter of fact” statements on just about everything, only to have science come along (relatively recently) and slowly, but steadily, prove many of religion’s “certainties” wrong. The first example of this was when Galileo proved that the earth was not the center of the solar system as the bible said. (He was later convicted of heresy and imprisoned under house arrest for the rest of his life and his works banned by the church)

Given these track records, which one would you rather put your “faith” in? Religion and it’s smug (and misplaced) sense of superiority and absolute certainty? Or science, and its humble skepticism, where ideas are open to debate and experimentation in an atmosphere of free inquiry?

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