Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old Atheist Strawman

One of the most irritating things about being an atheist, is when people intentionally try to misconstrue your position as faith-based. It usually comes in the form of an accusation like "You have faith that God doesn't exist", by the time you attempt to correct them, your detractor has usually moved onto something else, or if not they generally seem to ignore you.
I wrote a post last year explaining the positions of atheism and agnosticism and showed why they are not mutually exclusive, because they are essentially dealing with different realms. In short, agnosticism is claiming you do not or cannot have any knowledge pertaining to the existence of god(s), while atheism is a reaction to the claim that god exists.

This 'faith' strawman is rather puzzling, because the accuser is almost always a person who believes in god purely on faith, yet they accuse us of having a faith, as if it was a bad thing. There is no more faith involved in being an atheist that there is in rejecting the validity of homeopathic medicine. Until you show me evidence that your unlikely claim is true, I am going to disbelieve it, which requires no faith on my part

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Fundies

This is a perfect example of how religion can rot your brain, and be detrimental to society as a whole. Imagine if there was larger number of people who believe that the rapture was just around the corner, giving them the excuse to do nothing? I think the earth would become dilapidated and run down fairly quickly. It's related to the conservative Christian political view known as Dominionism, where based on a verse in Genesis, where God tells Adam that he has dominion over all the earth, the Dominionists take that as a command to rape and pillage the earth, because they believe that their god will create a new one soon anyway and destroy the old one. It's dangerous, and poisonous. People actively promoting these beliefs need to be lobotomized to prevent them from infecting others with this mind-rot of a religious/political doctrine.

Quote# 40793

(A rapture thread, this one has a bunch of folks talking about how they have no motivation because of the rapture being "just around the corner"):

I hear you on this. I have to constantly fight the feelings of "what is the use". Its like we have diagnosis of a fatal incurable disease and we have only so long to live.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Purpose in Life

I'm frequently seeing this presumption everywhere that there is an overarching purpose to life, and it often comes in a question form from theists directed at atheists. They'll ask something like "What's the purpose of life without god?", which I find incredibly naive and condescending. Firstly, I'm not convinced that god exists, so I don't see how it (god) could possibly give life purpose. I think that by 'purpose' they must mean 'subservience to an invented deity with the childish hope of an afterlife'.

On a different note, I think it is possible to build a fairly strong case against a blanket purpose for life. When one considers the fact of evolution, it is quite obvious that life as we know it, is a mere product of chance and accident, we were formed by an unguided process. How illogical then is it to try and impose a generic purpose to all of life? Let's take another product of chance, an accident of the universe, an asteroid, meteorite, comet etc. Is there a transcendent purpose for their existence? I think not, so likewise it is ignorant to suggest that there is a purpose to be discovered for life.

Now before you make any assumptions, I'm not a pessimistic nihilist. We have brains, and from our direct observations, our race is the highest form of intelligence in this region of the universe, so why should we require an unseen higher power to designate us a purpose in life? From my perspective, it makes much more sense to create purpose for ourselves, rather than to wait for purpose to come to us. If you look at all of the great figures in history, every single one of them made a conscious effort to achieve their goals, some may have just been in the right place at the right time, but the majority of them didn't sit there waiting for their god to assign them their lot. The only purpose in your life is the one you create for yourself, you're the only one that can be held responsible for your successes.

So there, I think that just about sums up what I think about the purpose of life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Religious Experiences are Manifestations of Brain Activity

For some time I've been of the opinion that religious experiences were the result of physical brain activity, so seeing someone doing research in this area is really great. I think Morgan Freeman is narrating it too (it sounds like him anyway).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Anti-Evolution TV Documentary Review

Before watching the 'documentary' I wrote down a list of things that I expected they would say, and ticked them off as they were mentioned. I wrote down 14 preconceptions, and 13 of them were confirmed rather strongly, they included things like 'cyclical change' and 'limit to variation', 'mutations can not produce new information', 'rapid deposition', 'Darwin was racist' and so on.

The title screen had a voice over that was asking the question "does his (Darwin) science still make sense?" but beside that, the Creationist slant was mostly absent in the beginning. It wasn't too long into the film that they started saying that there is a debate over the age of the earth today, and the first hints of 'flood geology' started appearing, with references to drowning animals and rapid deposition of sediments to create fossils. There was a recurring theme  throughout that "as science progresses, intriguing new possibilities are emerging that run contrary to Darwin's understanding", they were constantly trying to undermine his achievements by saying that we shouldn't judge him by the standards of modern science.

They were obsessed to the point of fanaticism over the influence the geologist Charles Lyell had on Darwin, and attempted refutations of uniformitarianism probably account for at least 10% of the content. They were presenting Darwin as a dogmatic uniformitarianist, and that he was "convinced Lyell was right", while getting Young-Earth geologists to spout nonsensical propaganda about single floods carving out entire valleys with constant references to catastrophic geological events like earthquakes.

The first mention of creationism itself came probably about halfway through the film, when they were trying to discredit speciation. They said that natural selection was conceived of by a creationist, and had one of their lackeys say that "nature has been created to modify itself". They had more propaganda about Darwin himself, implying that he was indoctrinated into evolution by the work of his grandfather and into "deep time" and uniformitarianism by reading Lyell's books, often saying things like "he had preconceived ideas" and that "he was convinced" to give the impression that Darwin was stubborn and unwilling to accept evidence to the contrary. In fact they even specifically said that he had observed evidence that contradicted his theories, but as usual, this went completely uncited.

In the last segment they were really trying to hit home the creationist view, with a false emphasis on the 'debate' over evolution, having creationists say things like the human body has a "perfect design". They framed Darwin as having an agenda saying that he just wanted to remove the bible from science. They were emphasising the "bedrock of the truth of Genesis" and spent several minutes just attacking scientific naturalism, portraying it as dogmatic and unscientific, which is rather ironic, coming from religious creationists. They mentioned that "Darwin's book avoided ... the origin of life itself" and they never once mentioned a single piece of evidence for evolution, and never showed his work in a favourable light at all. They had creationists frequently making claims that there is no evidence for evolution, which made it apparent that this film was simply a propaganda piece. They ended with someone saying that "Darwins theory is not about science it is about god".

I give this film 0/10, they were trying to hide their creationist view at the start, and gradually introduced it over the course, and focussed much more on undermining Darwin's methodology and character than on presenting his work. This just goes to show that CMI and creationists in general are bunch of disingenuous liars.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Contorted Fossils Prove... Nothing.

In the CMI Newsletter that I received a few days ago they were mainly taking aim at Stephen Hawking's new book, they didn't really address anything he said, but merely attacked his character and motivation, while asserting that his ideas require 'faith'. Not really much of an argument against anything if you ask me.

Anyway, back on topic.
They linked to one of their recent articles called "Death Throes", the main idea in the article is that since many fossils are found in contorted positions, with the neck bent back, or with twisted limbs proves that all fossils were formed in a global flood.
Sorry, it proves nothing of the kind. It is worthy to note that the picture they used was quite possibly the most extreme example they could find, in fact since the picture they used was from wikipedia, I'll post it here too.
As you can see, the neck is bent back all the way so that the spine is starting to become detached, and the head is touching the lower back. I'm no palaeontologist, but I think it's safe to say that this creature died from a broken neck. This could have happened any number of ways I can think of three: from falling, in a landslide or in a flood. The creationist's method seems to be: finding an example of something that could possibly have been formed in a flood, attribute it to their flood-myth and then walk away with a smile declaring victory.

I thought that I would take the effort to look up this claim on the Talk Origins list of creationist claims, and I found it there.
This is what TalkOrigins has to say.

  1. As carcasses dry, ligaments contract and distort the body (Weber 1980). Also, dead animals are often disturbed by scavengers and/or water currents before their remains become buried. This can account for the contorted positions.
  2. Some fossils do form by rapid burial, but these indicate only local catastrophes, such as landslides of a river bank. 
 I thought it was quite interesting that the journal that they referenced refuting CMI's claim came from 1980. So this piece of creationist propaganda was refuted three decades ago, and is refutable by common people. I can't seem to think of a good justification for creationist lies.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Anti-Evolution TV Documentary

I was just looking through the TV listings for the week and saw something on the Christian TV channel 'Shine TV' called 'The Voyage That Shook the World', it's about Darwin's voyage on the HMS Beagle from (I assume) a cretinist perspective. I programmed it in to record on Thursday, so I'll sit there with a notebook and write down every lie and deception they make. I'll either make a blog post about it on Thursday or Friday.


It turns out the 'Documentary' is sponsored by CMI. On the website for the film, their 'Digging Deeper' section gives a link to Also, CMI are showing the trailer for the film on their own website.

On top of that, 2/3 of all the reviews of the film on IMDB, are giving praise to the film and a 10-star-rating were submitted within a one-week period, the majority of them being submitted on the same day (26th August 2010) from either New Zealand or Australia. It is quite obvious that a Creationist or Church group made a concerted effort to sway the ratings of the film. Once I publish the review of the film on my blog, I encourage all of you to give your own review of it on IMDB, along with the 1-star rating it deserves for being a lying piece of creationist propaganda.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dennis Markuze (Or whatever his real name is)

Thanks to PZ Myers at Pharyngula for posting this picture.
I'm trying a new method of blocking him from this blog, Link Here.

Here he is folks.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blasphemy Day

I'm told that today is Blasphemy day.

So here's some obligatory blasphemy.

Jesus wasn't the messiah.
Catholicism is for cannibalistic kiddy-fiddlers.
Mohammed was a pedophile.
Moses never met Yahweh on Sinai (He most likely didn't exist)
Joseph Smith was a pervert and a liar.
Nirvana (not the band) is stupid because it's more-or-less just non-existence.
Reincarnation is a joke.
L. Ron Hubbard was a conman and a bad storyteller.
Satanism is a pathetic religion for immature adults who don't want to grow up.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are an anti-intellectual brain-washing cult.
Wicca is absurd because magic doesn't exist.
Paganism is so bronze-age.

Did I miss anything?

Books, Books, More Books

I've ordered some books on Biblical Criticism, two on the Old Testament and Archaeology and two on different aspects of the historicity of Jesus.

Robert M. Price - The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition? (2003)
Hyam Maccoby - The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity (1986)
Israel  Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman - The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (2001)
Israel  Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman - David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition (2006)

I won't have time to read them all in the near future, but come November, I'll be going on a huge reading spree. I have a fairly large list of books on my shelf that I haven't read yet.

Here is the list, all the ones that I haven't given a rating to yet are the ones that I haven't read yet.