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Love and Marriage

It being Valentine’s Day and all, I thought I would take the opportunity to do a quick walk through on how far we as a society have gone when it comes to linking love and marriage. Today, we take it for granted that the reason you marry is because you love someone, but that wasn’t always the case; far from it, actually.

Our first destination on our journey into the concepts of love and marriage is going to be the Bible. Yeah, back in Biblical times, people didn’t marry loved ones. Women were nearly akin to property and barely a step up from a slave. Kings (including the wise King Salomon) had large numbers of wives. They amounted to nothing more than his fuck toys.

Marriage was a business arrangement between two men, a father and a potential husband. The father would sometimes sell his daughter off to a worthy suitor. Or sometimes he would buy a prominent man to marry his daughter to get her out of this house.

The idea of marrying for love is relatively new. In marriages, each person is generally treated as an equal partner today (in mainstream society). This too is new. It wasn’t long ago (and is still prominent within many religious cultures) that the man was the boss. In fact, it was just a few decades ago that the television show “Who’s The Boss” was considered funny because it was a women who was in charge of the man in the house. But the show wasn’t revolutionary enough to have them actually married.

Today, love and marriage are changing again. People love, marry, fall out of love, divorce, and re-marry. Support for gay marriage is at an all-time high and state after state are beginning to recognize the right for two people of the same gender to love each other and marry.

So when religious believers claim that we are trying to change the definition of marriage, they are right. But they are wrong to think that this definition has never changed or that change is somehow a bad thing. Change is good and when we can change the law to allow for more people to love and be loved, that has to be a good thing.

Happy Valentine’s Day. :-*

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Yes, We Can Prove Love Exists!

I am so tired of Christians telling me that I can’t prove my love for my spouse, just like they can’t prove God exists. But no one questions the existence of love, so they don’t need to question God.

Actually they do need to present evidence for their claim about God’s love and God’s existence. Sure, I do love my wife and I know with reasonable certainty that she loves me back. We show each other affection. But more than that, if I really had doubts, we can take it to a lie detector and see. Even more than that, we could go and have a brain scan. We can find out if the part of our brains that light up when we feel love light up when we are prompted to think about each other.

But we don’t really need that level of certainty. The fact that we show each other affection is enough for us. Now, has God shown me any affection? Do you have any evidence for this? Christians will say that God created us and therefore call that affection. They might even throw in some good fortune. But there is no evidence to their claims. God can’t even present himself and make the claim for himself, let alone present any evidence that it was he and not some other deity or natural process that’s responsible for the universe and those good fortunes.

Can we test God’s existence? No. Can we test the love between loving individuals? Yes. As mentioned before, we can through lie detectors, brain scans, and the affection we show to each other.

But the basic fact is that this is a category error. Love is an emotion and God is an alleged being. It’s like comparing “Silly” to “Oranges.”

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Atheist Exemptions

Yesterday, I wrote an Examiner article about how religious institutions are always seeking exemptions from the law. Why can’t atheists play this game too?

One person commented on my article asking why we can’t have an atheist exemption from the gay marriage bans in some states. I think this is a great idea. I think we should definitely push for such a thing.

Since we don’t believe in any deities or the Bible, we don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin and therefore, the government’s prohibition on gay marriage is a restriction on our secular values. We should be exempt from the government prohibition on same-sex marriage and the government should respect and legally recognize our right to marry gay and lesbian atheists.

While we are at it, we don’t believe in Hell for those who kill themselves, so we should demand an exemption from the laws against euthanasia too. While I’m not fond of the pot, I don’t see why atheists should be prohibited from using marijuana for medical purposes either. I want an exemption!

If the religious can get away with demanding exemptions from laws they don’t like, why shouldn’t we do the same? Not only will we raise the awareness of atheists in our society, but we will also gain a great deal of support from others who don’t normally think about religion, but will support what we are trying to do here. It’s great PR and supports great causes. It will cause people to think about religious identifications why use, but don’t really believe.

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Fossils Prove God? Good Grief!

I was having a conversation with a Christian and he actually told me that fossils prove God exists. Note that he didn’t say that fossils present strong evidence for the existence of God, but that they actually prove it. This clown assured me that he was well versed in science, too.

The only thing I can possible think of that this guy was talking about is the old Creationist claim that there are no transitional fossils… therefore God. This is of course wrong in many ways. First, every fossil is a transitional fossil so the claim that there aren’t any just shows a lack of knowledge about how evolution via natural selection actually works.

Second, it is a little bit like the underpants gnomes. Step one, steal underpants. Step three, profit. Even if it were true that there are no transitional fossils, I don’t see the step from this to the, “therefore God.” Of course there is also the missing step of, “therefore my God.”

And that brings me to the Bible. The fossil record clearly contradicts a literal reading of the Bible (which is what Creationists believe). So therefore, not God would be more accurate.  Now if you want to take a figurative view of the Bible, then you can make any shit up to justify your position. If a Christian really wanted to go there, then maybe God is a metaphor and these Christians are really atheists. But I digress.

The point is that there is no way that fossils prove or even could be evidence in support of a god concept. Fossils certainly don’t prove the Christian God. But I do love how Christians love to try to show how something that disproves their fairytale actually proves their fairytale if you stand on your head, close one eye, and look at it through a funhouse mirror.

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Pushing Beliefs: Atheists vs. Theists

Over the last few years, atheists have been putting up billboards, bus ads, and even aerial banners. Most of these have been pretty tame by any standard and if you compare them to the billboards of the religious, they are extremely tame. Yet, despite this obvious fact, we get criticism for “pushing our beliefs…” or in our case our lack of belief. But who really is pushing their beliefs, atheists or theists?

If you added up all the atheist billboard, bus, and aerial campaigns in the entire country, they would no doubt be less than just the billboard campaigns in almost any given state by Christians. How many times do atheists come knocking on you door with pamphlets and the God Delusion in hand?

Do atheists erect tax-exempt anti-theist centers on nearly every street corner? No, but do the religious erect their anti-atheist centers on nearly every street corner at the tax payer’s expense? Yes! Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, etc. are everywhere and their central message is that God exists and he wants you to believe. Some religious leaders even take to the pulpit and proclaim that atheists are fools and that we are evil.

Next time you are out on the road, count up how many religious bumper stickers you see and see if it is more than the number of atheist bumper stickers you see. How about t-shirts? How many religious vs. anti-religious t-shirts do you see on any given day?

Now, take out your wallet and let me know how many dollar bills say, “In No God Should You Trust.” I will bet you all your money that you will see a religious billboard on your money. The religious actually push their religion on our money! Every dollar bill is a billboard for religion. How fucked up is that? There is no way that atheists could possibly push our ideas is such an effective way.

But what are atheists really pushing anyway? Are we telling people that if they don’t believe as we do they will be and should be tortured for all eternity? No, that’s what the religious do. We are simply telling people to think critically, learn about science and history, and embrace reality. If you don’t, you will be tortured for a lifetime of ignorance. That’s it.

Atheists have every right to advertise out ideas. When religious believers complain about it, they simple are afraid of the obvious. Atheists have evidence to support our claims and we demand religious believers present evidence for theirs http://bestecasinonorge.com/. We don’t need to promote atheism on dollar bills, or door-to-door. Our ideas are so scary good, that we just have to promote them a little bit and we become strong competition for the billion dollar religious campaigns of bullshit.

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Really? Atheism is a religion, but Christianity isn’t?

You know religious believers are living in a delusional world when they actively try to convince atheists that atheism is a religion, but that Christianity isn’t. As ridiculous as such a belief sounds, we hear such nonsense from religious believers all the time, but rarely at the same time.

First, there is the claim that atheism is a religion. This is pretty popular lately. My sister made this claim on facebook a few days ago and former MTV Vjay, Kennedy, made this claim on Real Time with Bill Maher last week. I have already written an Atheism 101 article on this subject and this past week, Bill Maher responded to Kennedy’s claim on his show on Friday:

Then there is the second claim, that Christianity is not a religion. This is almost always followed by the statement that it is a relationship with God or Jesus or both. If you ask me though, it is more of a religionship than a relationship. We have relationships with actual people who actually exist. And in relationships, we don’t pray to our loved one either.

When religious believers have such things as atheism being a religion and Christianity not being one mixed up, how can anyone possibly take them seriously? Can’t we just laugh at them and call it a day?

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Sex, Marriage, and Fairytales

Yesterday, I wrote an Examiner article responding to Jefferson Bethke’s latest video called “Sex, Marriage, and Fairytales.” Today, I still have more to say on the topic. I thought of making my own spoken word on the subject, but I would rather be more informative.

First, I want to talk about sex before marriage. People have sex for a variety of reasons. It isn’t just for procreation anymore… as if it ever was. Sex is also a very important part of a relationship and it is important to know that everyone involved are on the same page when it comes to the subject. Just as it is important to get to know someone’s personality before you marry them, it is important to get to know someone sexually before you marry them too. Sex isn’t everything in a relationship, but it is something… and for most couples it is a very important something.

Next, since Bethke focuses a lot on the negative, let’s look at divorce. Divorces happen. That is not necessarily a bad thing. People today live longer and healthy lives than we did back in the day. If you marry someone at 19, you aren’t just spending 20 or 30 years with them anymore. People are now living into their 90s and even into their hundreds. Over time, one thing is certain. You will change. You will either change with your spouse or change in a different direction.

I get my wisdom in the strangest places. A long time ago, I remember watching the first episode of SeaQuest DSV. At the end of the episode, Lucas (the boy genius) told an interesting story of how his parents fought all the time and he hated listening to them argue. He said that he just wished that they would get a divorce, but they wouldn’t. Captain Bridger asked why they didn’t. Lucas said that his father told him that they made a promise, but he guesses they didn’t count on things changing.

Like I said before though, sometimes people change together and when this happens, people can stay together for a very long time and maybe even their entire lifetime. One piece of advice that I have to help that is to marry someone who you are also friends with; more importantly, to treat your marriage like a friendship. One way to test whether you are doing that is to view the marriage ceremony as just that, a ceremony.

Getting married should not change the relationship or make the relationship more serious. Should just be a celebration of the relationship you already have. If you think you need to get married to make the relationship work, than you probably shouldn’t get married to that person at that time.

With that said, please check out my Examiner article on Jefferson Bethke’s video  “Sex, Marriage, and Fairytales.” Thanks!

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Magic Diapers

I know that I could probably just ask a Mormon about this, but that wouldn’t nearly be as much fun and it would probably offend the Mormon anyway. So I just gotta know… Do babies born of Mormon parents have to wear magic diapers?

When you think about it, they should. I mean the whole point of the magic underwear seems to be that they protect the wearer spiritually. So who wouldn’t want to keep their babies safe? Are Mormons really so callous as to protect themselves with magic underwear, but allow their babies to remain vulnerable?

This of course brings up the question; at what age do Mormons get their magic underwear? Is there some rite of passage that must be passed in order to receive the magic underwear?

Maybe I’ll just hold my questions for Mitt Romney during the election. 😉

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‘Self-Professed Atheist’

Whenever an atheist is interviewed on the news or on some talk show, the host always makes a point to say that the atheist is “self-professed.” They never do this for Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any religious figure. They don’t say, “Here is self-professed Catholic priest…” Why not?

I think when they add, “self-professed” in front of someone’s identification they are taking a shot at them. It is a way of delegitimizing them. A self-professed priest for example would mean that only that person recognizes his position and that everyone else thinks he is crazy.

When they say that someone is a self-professed atheist, they are saying that they really believe we really believe. Some Christians have this thing where they believe that atheists secretly know God is real and that we are just “rebelling” against him. Or that we secretly know that God is real, but are agents of Satan trying to lead good Christians astray so that Satan can eat their souls or something http://pharmacieinde.fr/.

If you are ever interviewed about something as an atheist and the interviewer uses this “self-professed” crap, stop the interviewer right then and there and demand an explanation. Demand that the religious person be addressed as “self-professed” and start addressing the religious person as such. Do this especially in relation to their religious title or position.

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Democratic Party Gets Religion

Yesterday, I attended my county Democratic Party nomination convention and it really pissed me off. I was already a bit disenfranchised with the Party because included in last year’s slate of endorsed candidates were a Christian Dominionist running for Judge and a Creationist running for County Council.

This year, the convention was opened with a prayer to Jesus Christ. I have attended conventions in three counties and I have need had the convention open with a prayer. Even in Lancaster County which is much more religious than my current Delaware County, didn’t open with a prayer.

In fairness though, I could somewhat understand if there was a prayer that was non-specific. Most of this country is Christian and that Jews have a strong lobby and are very involved in politics. If there was a prayer to a generic “god” or something, I would still be pissed, but at least I would get what was going on. As it is thought, there tend to be a lot of Jews in the Democratic Party and in fact, there also tend to be a lot of secular people and atheists too. I even saw someone in the crowd who I think was a Sheik.

So, what the fuck? Why would the Democratic Party deliberately exclude all these people including atheists? What has happened to the Democratic Party? Now I know this might just be a county level problem, but sadly the national party hasn’t really done a great job standing up against religious extremism either.

I intend to complain to the county party about this and I hope that if anyone else is involved in politics (in any political party), and your local party starts bringing up religion (which if you are a Republican, that is going to be a lot), you will complain too.

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We Don’t Need Fixing!

Apparently, we are all evil sinners who deserve to be tortured for all eternity. According to Christianity, humans aren’t perfect, we are wretched creatures filled with sin. But not to worry, because Jesus can fix us. Oddly enough, I don’t feel broken. In fact, I don’t need fixing and that means that I don’t need Jesus or Christianity.

This really isn’t about Christianity, but rather it is about most religions which create a problem which only they can solve for you. Christianity is just the most blatant example of this.

It’s a con game. The way it works is that religion spends a great deal of time telling you that you are broken and then continuing to push the idea that you are broken and that you need something. Christians call this a “hole in your heart.” Then they present to you a way to fix the problem that only they can provide. Oddly enough, all religions can fix the problem that any religion creates. This is why religions often spend time tweaking the solution so that only their solution will fix the problem. Christians often say that other religions try to get you closer to God, but with Christianity, God comes to us as long as you worship Jesus to get closer to God.

The way I see it is that we are who we are. We don’t have a hole in our heart, we are not broken, and we don’t need fixing. We should work to be better people here on Earth, but that doesn’t require anything special. We aren’t perfect, but why should we be perfect? What does perfect even mean in relation to human beings?

If there is anything broken about us humans it is because religion broke us and is trying to blame it on us instead of taking responsibility for what they have done and what they continue to do.

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Atheism 2.0

I rarely ever say anything negative about other atheists. The way I see it is that we are all in this fight together and we each have our own approaches to the problem. With that said, Alain de Botton’s “Atheism 2.0” is stupid.

Alain de Botton is basically the British equivalent to Greg Epstein, but worse. Greg Epstein is the Humanist Chaplin at Harvard University and for the most part I don’t have much of a problem with his approach. I don’t like that he is trying to make Humanism more like the traditional theistic religions except without the God, but that’s his thing. But it seems that de Botton takes it much further and the fact that he confuses atheism with humanism makes it even worse.

Atheism is just a lack of belief in deities. It is not in and of itself a system of belief. Not all atheists are rational, nor do all atheists value rationality, reason, and science. These are Humanist values. While all Humanists are atheists and most atheists are Humanists, not all atheists are actually Humanists. When de Botton labeled his ultra-religious Humanism as “Atheism 2.0” he is confusing the already confused theists.

Take for example, the recent Huffington Post article, “Atheist Temple: Nonbelievers To Get Place Of ‘Worship’ In UK.” The fact is that Humanists already have meeting places so de Botton isn’t doing anything new really. There are Ethical Humanist Societies all over America and much of Europe too. But by labeling it as an “Atheist Temple” de Botton gets people’s attention. Plus, it seems like de Botton’s idea of an “Atheist Temple” would even make most Humanists cringe.

Again, while I disagree with Alain de Botton’s “Atheism 2.0,” I would support his efforts in that I think we need to take multiple approaches to the problem of religion. However, I don’t like his terminology which I think is confusing at best. For more on “Atheism 2.0,” check out de Botton’s TED Talk.

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The State of the Union 2012

The state of the union is fucked up. It is fucked up because we have politicians who are bought and sold by corporate lobbyists and who more often than not try to appease religious zealots rather than scientifically minded constituents.

Our country and our world will not get better until we take the money out of politics and our politicians start listening to scientifically minded people. When all four of the remaining Republican candidates for President of the United States don’t accept the science of evolution and global climate change and the current Democratic President seeking re-election doesn’t care to support the teaching of evolution in schools even from his bully pulpit, we have a problem. When the current President doesn’t act to prevent and reverse global climate change with anything more than his bully pulpit, we are in real trouble.

For decades now, Presidents have been talking about alternative energy during their State of the Union addresses, but when are they going to act in a serious way about this. Where are the wind mill construction projects? When will there be solar energy panels on every home? Will we ever have mainstream cars that don’t run on gasoline?

The state of our union is fucked up when school children can go to prison for stealing pencils, but Wall Street executives get billion dollar bonuses for stealing from the American people and clasping the economy not just in America, but all over the world. If there is going to be a “zero tolerance” policy, it ought to be on Wall Street, not Sesame Street.

Of course there are many more examples to show that the state of our union is fucked up, but the real issue is what we are going to do about it? We need to hold our vote hostage and demand that our politicians not just support taking money out of politics, but actively push for it. We need to occupy our congressional representatives in the House and Senate by writing letters to them at their homes rather than their offices. And we need to question our elected officials at townhall meetings the way Jacob Kramer did. Here is the video:

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Not God’s Handiwork

The universe is a wondrous place filled with beauty and mystery. One thing that really ticks me off is when religious believers ascribe the wonders of the universe to their deity of choice. The universe is not “God’s handiwork!”

It was Immanuel Kant who is known for verbalizing the fact that our senses are filtered through our brains. What we find beautiful, other creatures may not. In other words, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder… literally.

When we see something like a beautiful sunset or the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), it is our brain which translates what we see into beautiful colors. Other animals may not find the same things as beautiful as we do. They may find other things beautiful that we do not.

The universe is what it is and we are here to observe it. Science allows us to understand the universe, but it does not take the beauty out of it. We don’t need imaginary deities to take credit for the universe.

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I Could Be Wrong… And So Could You!

One of the most popular things Christians ask me is, “What if you are wrong?” Aside from the obvious attempt at a Pascal’s Wager, this question tries to force the non-believer to consider the possibility that we might be tortured for all eternity simply because of our lack of belief.

It’s true, if atheists are wrong and Christianity is correct, then atheists will be tortured for all eternity simply because of our lack of belief. This is a possibility. It just isn’t probable. While we are talking about improbable possibilities, what if the Christian is wrong is Islam is the correct answer? What if the Mormons are correct? How about if the ancient Greeks or Romans were correct? There are a lot of possibilities out there all equally as improbable as Christianity.

So sure, I could be wrong and so could the average Christian. Anything is possible, but the real question is not what is possible, but rather what is probable. Atheism is probable because it simply demands that theists (whether Christian or not) supply evidence for their claims. The claims of atheists are simply that we lack a belief in deities. This is usually the case because no credible evidence has been presented for such beliefs. In the absence of such credible evidence, it is probable that no such god exists.

I am willing to admit that I could be wrong and that a god does in fact exist. All a theist has to do is to present credible evidence for their belief. But I think it is only fair that theists admit that they could be wrong and that god might not exist. Theists should reconsider why they believe what they believe and consider whether or not there are more probable explanations for those reason.

Is it more likely that they heard the voice of God giving them sage advice or that they were having an internal dialog with themselves and gave themselves that sage advice? Is it more likely that the football player won the big game because God had a plan for him or that he and his team practiced a lot and had more skill than their opponents? Sure, I could be wrong about the whole God thing, but so could you the Christian!

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‘Why Would You Risk Your Soul?’

Some Christian thought they were doing God’s work by posting a Twitter message to atheists the other day. This Christian asked, “Why would you risk your soul? #atheism” I would like to answer this question.

I responded to the Christian asking why he or she would risk their Thetans by rejecting L. Ron Hubbard? My point is that they don’t believe Thetans exist (I don’t either btw) and that is why they don’t consider it a risk to not believe in Thetans. I don’t believe souls exist and that is why rejecting Christianity in favor of reality is doesn’t actually rick my soul.

In fact, I am so not worried about my soul being risked that I will gladly sell it to you along with all my Thetans to any Christian and Scientologist willing to make me a decent amount of money in reality.

The question itself however, is just a watered down version of Pascal’s Wager. To really protect you soul, you should believe in every religion. Protect your Thetan too with this once in an afterlife time offer. How much would you expect to pay for this protection? You get protection for your soul from every religion’s version of the devil and Hell, plus protection for your Thetans from the Evil Galactic Overlord, Xenu. Ten Million Dollars, you say? Well, it is certainly worth every penny of that. How about one million dollars? What a bargain. Slash that, for this one reality only event, I’ll give you all that protection for free!

What’s that, you will get eternal protection for your soul from every religion’s threat of eternal torment, plus eternal protection for your Thetans from the Evil Galactic Overlord Xenu, and a more enjoyable reality all for free? How do you sign up? It’s easily, use reason and skepticism and become an atheist.

No more risks to your immortal soul for working on the Sabbath. No more risks to your immortal soul for having fun in bed. No more risks to your Thetans for taking anti-depressants. You can live the good life by being moral for its own sake and embracing the real world. Become an atheist today!

Order within the next ten minutes and you will get a free sense of wonder and curiosity about the universe and everything. Hurry, supplies are limited.

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Internet Black-Out, Atheist Shame

Yesterday as you know doubt are aware, much of the internet either completely went “black” or put up information about stopping SOPA & PIPA, two bills which are currently being pushed in the House and the Senate that would limit the internet and effectively censor information.

Free Speech is kinda my thing. In 2004 and 2005, I personally went down to DC and lobbied several Senators on behalf of myself, against the Broadcast Decency Act. The bill passed both times with 99 Senators supporting it. The first time however, then-President Bush forgot to sign it. But he did sign it into law in 2005. That bill came in the aftermath of Janet Jackson’s half-second “wardrobe malfunction” and raised the fines of broadcasters who air “indecency” to absurd levels. This would shut down small radio stations if they got fined. But worse, the law created an atmosphere of fear and over censorship by station owners.

So yesterday, Dangerous Talk was quick to join the black-out strike against SOPA & PIPA and any other pieces of legislation that would or could censor the internet in any way. I was disappointed however, that many other atheist websites did not feel so moved to support the strike.

Atheists depend on the internet for many reasons. For one thing, it has become a place where we can go and be open about our lack of belief. It is also a place we can go to find other atheists, freethinkers, and humanists. But most importantly, the internet is a place where religions die. Freedom of information is the strongest weapon atheists have against religion. So one would think with so much at stake, that the atheist community online would be the first to lend their voice to support a strike aimed to call attention to SOPA & PIPA.

While I was initially disappointed that Google didn’t go entirely black yesterday and shut down their search engine, at least they and many other sites took part in the strike by calling attention to the issue and putting a link right up front so that people can learn what they can do and who to contact. Some atheist websites did this. Kudos goes out to Freethoughtblogs, AtheistNexus, ThinkAtheist, and many others for taking part in this strike in that way.

Most of the major atheist organizations did not take part in the strike and that is disappointing. American Humanist Association is one of the few that did take part and kudos to them. I sent a message to Hemant of the Friendly Atheist blog asking him to take part in the strike and he said no. That’s his choice, but it was disappointing.

As it stands now, it is very likely that SOPA & PIPA will be defeated. But just a few days ago that was not the case. The bills enjoyed massive bipartisan support. This of course has more to do with the fact that lobbyists run our country and the entertainment industry really wants to stop online piracy. It was only because of the threats made by large websites like Google, Wikipedea, Facebook, and Reddit combined with the public outrage shifted the tide of this fight. Most news outlets didn’t cover the problems with these two laws until the threat of the blackout began to look like a reality.

The blackout is over, but your support is still important. You should still contact your representatives in the House and the Senate and let them know you stand against any attempt to “put regulations” on the internet. Republicans hate “regulations” so that is the term to use. If you have a few extra minutes, find your representative’s home address and write them there too. Occupy their house!

For more information of SOPA & PIPA, check out: http://americancensorship.org/

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Facts About The Bible

Many Christians are surprisingly ignorant about some of the basic facts concerning the Bible. When I talk about these facts, I mean that these are things that really aren’t in dispute even among Christian Biblical “Scholars.” This isn’t coming from some atheist like me who is critical of the Bible, it comes from religious believers who have looked at the evidence and have accepted these facts and facts.

The Bible which was written by multiple anonymous people decades after Jesus was alleged to have died and those accounts have been re-written by yet more anonymous people to suit their agendas. Contrary to popular opinion among most mainstream believers, we have no idea who wrote the Gospels. We do know that it wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Those were simply the names assigned to the books. The Gospels are anonymous! The Gospel of Mark was the earliest Gospel and Matthew and Luke plagiarized from Mark and another Gospel account which has been labeled “Q.”

The Gospels were edited over and over again by anonymous scribes. These various scribes changed the Gospels sometimes by accident and other times on purpose to suit their agendas. We know that whole verses were added and probably some were subtracted. The often quoted “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” story in John 8 for example was almost certainly added centuries later.

Another important fact that Christians need to realize is that there is no singular message of the Bible. The Bible is not one book by one author who has one message he or she wants to get across. The Bible is series of books written by many authors over a large period of time. Each author had their own agenda and was writing for people living in a particular time and place to address particular issues of that time and place. So when Christians try to tell you that the main point of the Bible is X, they don’t know what they are talking about.

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Today’s Superstitions Were Yesterday’s Divine Realities

Be careful today everyone. In case you haven’t looked at a calendar, today is Friday the 13th! It is a cursed day in which bad luck runs abundant. Sure, we can laugh at this ridiculous superstition now, but there was a time when the vast majority of people took this cure extremely seriously.

Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number thirteen was once a very common thing. If you have ever lived in a large city, you might take notice that many older buildings don’t have a thirteenth floor. They go to twelve, skip thirteen, and then proceed to fourteen as if changing the label on the floor would somehow erase the actual fact that the fourteenth floor is really the thirteenth floor.

Also, if you are an Astrologer, you are no doubt aware of the twelve zodiac signs, but if you are an Astronomer, you know that there are actually thirteen. No one wants to be born during a cursed zodiac sign.

Again, we laugh at this stuff today. Not just atheists either. You can go to your favorite fundamentalist Christian and ask them if they fear the number thirteen or consider Friday the 13th to be a cursed day. My guess is that most will laugh at the thought and it should be noted that fundamentalist Christians tend to be the most superstitious people and even they think it is a joke.

Did God release a new book in the Bible letting Christians know that they ought not to fear Friday the 13th? Of course not, so why is it that just a few generations ago large majorities of people (mainly religious) feared this cursed day and today we laugh at it?

Part of it I guess may be the ridiculously funny horror series of the same name. But honestly, I knew about the Friday the 13th movies before I even heard of the superstition around the day. I think what has accounted for our dismissal of this curse has been societies greater emphasis on reason. I know it doesn’t seem like much of an emphasis, but believe it or not people (even religious believers) consider reason a virtue. Sometimes they just don’t realize it.

So the more we can get people to reason and to value reason the less we have to deal with ridiculous curses like Friday the 13th. In fact, the more we can get people to reason and to value reason, the less we have to deal with religious superstitions and religion itself. Today’s silly superstitions were once yesterday’s divine realities. Which means that today’s divine realities are tomorrow’s silly superstitions.

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Much To Do about Nothing

Apparently “Nothing” is almost all there is in the Universe and that “Nothing” is something after all. Last night, I attended a lecture by Dr. Lawrence Krauss about his new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing.

It was an awesome lecture and I learned a lot about cosmology, the age of the universe, and how we know what we know about the universe. However, I almost certainly won’t be able to explain it. It was pretty complicated stuff and I don’t know it well enough to explain it. Fortunately, Dr. Krauss does.

While I talked about the substance of the lecture a little bit in my Examiner article, what I found more interesting was the theological implications. As we learn more about nothing, we start to understand more about the universe.

Krauss makes the argument that Edwin Hubble did for the creation of the universe what Charles Darwin did for the creation of man. Both men presented evidence which takes God out of the process. This leaves religious believers with nowhere to go. The gaps are closing and God is left out.

The lecture itself was educational and fun. Krauss had fun playing with the word “nothing” and cracking jokes about string theory (which he notoriously opposes). Hopefully his book will have the same wit and humor as his lecture. It is interesting to note that Christopher Hitchens was working on the forward to the book, but never finished it. Richard Dawkins wrote the afterward.

Buy the book: A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing.

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Pause and Consider

One of the main problems with arguing against religion is that people get very passionate about the subject. Religious believers have invested a great deal of time and often money into their beliefs and as a result, they are very resistant to reconsidering their opinion on the matter.

Politics is viewed in much the same way but just quite to the same extent. A great example of this is when people wanted to end the war in Iraq, the main criticism from the other side was that if we left without “winning” (whatever that meant) then all those soldiers died for nothing. Therefore, we have to send more soldiers to die because we were as they say in poker, “pot committed.”

In any case, these issues make people very passionate in their arguments and sometimes when this happens people let their passion control the argument. It is one thing to use passion in an argument to make a more compelling case, but when we let our passion run away with us, we lose control of the argument.

Sometimes we need to pause and consider. Sometimes we need to take a step back from the argument, calm down, and consider what the other person is saying. This refocusing will help us understand their point of view and if we still disagree, we can refocus the argument into a better direction using logic and reason.

The real trick is to get the other person to pause and consider too. Especially when dealing with religious believers, having them take a step back and re-consider their position without “fire in their belly” might help to shake them loss from their dogmatic delusions.

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Doubting Personal Experiences

One of the most common pieces of “evidence” religious believers claim supports their belief in their deity of choice is the argument from personal experience. They claim that they have personally felt the presence of God. When challenged on their beliefs, they often ask how an atheist can possibly doubt their personal experience.

First, it is important to point out that personal experience does not qualify as actual evidence. Anecdotal evidence is not really evidence. Obi Wan Kenobi put it best when he said, “Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.”

Second and more importantly, it isn’t the religious believer’s personal experience that I doubt; it is their interpretation of their experience that I question. To best illustrate my point I am going to use a personal experience of my own. When I was in college, I was auditing a class on religion. There was a person in the class who told us about how they had prayed for money and then found a quarter in the cushion of the car seat. This was their personal experience and iron clad proof that God exists and had answered the prayer.

The problem with the story is that people lose change in the cushion of their car seats all the time. If you pray for money and start searching around in places where you are likely to find some, a more plausible explanation can surely be found. People love patterns and we love to draw conclusions based on insufficient data.

First X, then Y, therefore X caused Y. But that isn’t necessarily true. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation. I have no doubt that the person in my class prayed to some deity and I am certainly not doubting that they found a quarter in the car seat cushion. I do not even doubt that the person considered this to be a profound moment of deep connection to the world around them. It isn’t the experience that I doubt; it is the interpretation of that experience that I question.

There is a lot going on in the world and there is a lot going on in our minds and bodies much of which we are not even slightly aware of. Here is another anecdote. Last week, my father got sick. Nothing serious, but he was puking and shitting a lot. He felt like crap and he blamed it on a food that he thought might not have been cooked properly. Earlier that day he noticed that the food in question looked a little discolored, but ate it anyway. Then he got sick. Conclusion: The food did it. However a day later, my brother got the same illness and he didn’t have the questionable food. This implies that it wasn’t the food that made either of them sick and that it was most likely some sort of virus.

According to my father’s personal experience, the food had made him sick. But later evidence suggested that was not actually the case. Religion works in much the same way. A Christian is in a rut. They have hit bottom. They pray. Then things get better. What they fail to remember is that they hit bottom and then they did something to help their situation. Things got better because they did something to make them get better.

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Christians vs. Christianity

When I criticize religions like Christianity, I almost always criticize the system of belief rather than the believers in the system. There are reasons for this however many Christians don’t see this distinction.

I view the belief system of Christianity as a living system, like a virus. They system adapts and changes in order to remain relevant. It takes advantage of weaknesses within the human psyche and cements itself into people’s lives. While people push this belief on others, they do so because the belief system uses them to spread itself.

I don’t blame religious believers as much as I blame the system which has taken control of them. When someone is sick and pukes, we don’t blame the person for puking; we blame the illness for causing the person to puke. The same is the case with religious believers.

When a particular Christian hates gay people, it isn’t there fault as much as it is the fault of the belief system which has distorted their moral sense.  While there are a few Christians who don’t hate gay people, it is because the system of belief has identified that compassion toward gay people would be a liability toward the spread of the belief system in those cases. As a result, the system of belief has adapted to focus on some other issue while finding a way around this issue despite the obviously fact that the Bible strongly opposes homosexuality.

Ironically, much like how Christians claim to hate the sin and not the sinner, I hate the belief system of Christianity rather than the Christian. Curing the Christian of this system of belief is difficult and takes a great deal of time. Usually, the Christian has to find their own way out, but we can help my dismantling the excuses they use to protect them from the seeing the problems with the belief system. Some of those problems are logical and some are moral. These problems must be exposed so that the believer can see them clearly and find their own way out.

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Perfection In Relation to Sentient Beings

I was talking with a liberal Christian recently and she was talking about how human beings aren’t perfect and how we God loves us anyway. As our conversation continued, I asked why it matters that we aren’t perfect and what that even means. What does “perfect” mean in relation to sentient beings… God included?

When we are doing a task which has a known final outcome, I can understand what perfect mean. For example, when doing a puzzle if we are able to put all the puzzle pieces in the correct spots, we can say we did the puzzle perfectly. But people are a little different. There is no single final outcome. This means that there is no real perfect in relation to people.

Sure we can always strive to be better people. We can understand what that means. It means that we observe that certain traits make us happy and make others happy. Certain traits lead to a better quality of life for all involved. Being a better person would entail maximizing those traits for the wellbeing of ourselves and others. But is there a perfect way to maximize those traits? Are there perfect traits to be maximized?

I don’t think so and if there are, we as a society have not yet identified them yet. We don’t know what perfect is or even if there is a perfect. We do know that we are not perfect. We make mistakes all the time. But that isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It can be part of the learning process.

The character of God as he is thought about in Christianity and other religions is deeply flawed. He’s flawed because he is alleged to be perfect. God can’t learn. He can’t progress. The flaw is that his journey is over.

God can’t love us despite our flaws. In fact, he can’t love at all. Love is a journey; it changes and there is no room for change in perfection.

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Comparing The Bible To Other Fiction

Christians almost always get into a tizzy when atheists compare their holy book to other works of fiction. It doesn’t matter what aspect is being compared, it is the comparison itself that seems to generate the outrage.

Usually when I compare the Bible to some other work of fiction, I am comparing a particular aspect of the books. For example that they both list real people and/or places. Like when I use the DeVinci Code for comparison. Sometimes, I will compare the Bible to Star Wars when talking about moral themes (to which Star Wars blows the Bible out of the water).

Another comparison I often make is on the fancifulness of the story with the Harry Potter series. Sometimes I will compare characters like Jesus and Superman. It isn’t always even a negative comparison either. Superman is a great guy. But it doesn’t matter. Religious believers still get angry.

My thought is that the Bible is fiction and when it is talked about in the same breath as other fictional stories and/or characters, it becomes all the more obvious just how fictional the Bible really is. This is why Christians hate when the Bible is compared to other works of fiction even if those comparisons are positive.

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‘Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face’

Whenever I complain about how crappy a President Obama is and how I probably won’t vote for him unless he starts acting real progressive real fast, I get people telling me that not voting for Obama is a vote for the Republican. Then they tell me that I am “cutting off my nose to spite my face.”

Well that is a graphic analogy, but if that is the analogy they are going to use, I guess I’ll stick with it. Expanding from that analogy, it seems my nose has cancer and so it would be stupid to not cut off my nose to save my face. Your nose as cancer too, but you are probably going to die because you refuse to cut it off to save face.

Politics is not a horse race in which you win if you back the winning horse. Politics also isn’t about our gang colors. I’m a Democrat because I agree more with their stated platform than I do with the Republican platform. But if there is an individual candidate who I strong disagree with, I am not going to vote for them because we wear the same gang colors.

I don’t believe any politician is entitled to my vote. No politician owns my vote either. Every politician has to work hand to earn my vote. Obama isn’t doing that and he doesn’t get my vote by default.

Obama supporters have to stop blaming the victim. If I don’t vote for Obama and he loses, it isn’t my fault; it is his fault for not earning my vote. If he was a better President, he would have earned my vote. I value my vote, but it seems that Obama doesn’t. He seems to think he is entitled to my vote or that he can use fear to terrorize me into giving my vote away.

Then his supporters tell me that we lost a lot of seats in 2010 because Democrats like me didn’t vote Democrat (although for the record, I did vote Democrat). To this, I point out that the Party hasn’t learned their lesson. They are going to do the same thing they did in 2010 and they are expecting a different result. I think that is the definition of insanity or something.

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Tokens or No Tokens

I’ve taken this post down because it was poorly thought out and I agree with some of the criticisms made about it. It doesn’t help the community and I have never been a fan of the drama. Having caused it was not my intent and I apologize. I think the whole award thing was probably a bad idea to start with.

Welcome To The Year 236 AE

Happy New Year! I know most people are using a calendar based on the alleged birth of Jesus (which even Biblical scholars disagree with), but I think it is time to change that. I actually started this campaign a few years ago, but was reminded of it again for obvious reasons.

I never liked using BC and AD and to be honest, I am not even a fan of BCE and CE since the “Common Era” seems to perfectly coincide with the “Year of Our Lord.” But given the choice, I would prefer BCE/CE over BC/AD any day. Still, I think we can do better and fuck with the Christian Right at the same time.

We could base our new year on anything and someone will object. Some people think we should base it on the publication of the Origin of Species, others suggested the birth of the internet. People use whatever significant event in their field of interest, but it doesn’t really make a point.

I recommend that we base the year on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, the American Revolution set the seeds for resurgence in democracy all over the world. Second and more importantly, it puts the Christian Right in a difficult place. These are people who generally wear their patriotism literally on their sleeves and who always talk about putting America first. Well now they have the chance to put America first and Jesus second.

The problem for them is that they also put God first. So how are they going to choose what to put first, America or God? Obviously I think they will go with God. But then we can question their patriotism and criticism them for not putting America first.

It will be fun. So I am once again asking people to write their politicians and tell them that you want them to propose a bill to change the dating system to the American system. This would make the new year 236 AE (American Era). Anything before the signing of the Declaration of Independence would be BAE (Before the American Era).

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Twas The Blog Before Christmas…

Twas the blog before Christmas, when all through the blogosphere
Every atheist was stirring, even Christopher Hitchens was here.
The banners, signs, and billboards were hung by the crèche with care,
In hopes that Dr. Dawkins would soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of the Flying Spaghetti Monster dancing in their heads.
And Stephen Hawking with his robotic tone, and I with my Kindle,
Exciting my brain for a long winter’s cosmology riddle.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a the Wright brothers,
Tore off my boxers and threw up the covers.

My frontal moon on the breast of the new-fallen rain,
Gave the lustre of distain to those who are sexually constrained.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an annoying politician, and eight homophobia Christians coming near.

With a little old preacher, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be a prick.
More vapid than reasoned his angry slurs came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called me many an ugly name!

“You Satanist! You slut! You communist and Nazi!
You heathen! You homo! You enemy of orthodoxy!
Get out of this country, you are making it unwell!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away before we send you to Hell!”

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on my computer,
The reasoning and sound arguments of many a YouTuber.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
There over my speakers, Hitchens was the sound.

The microphone in hand tight to his lips,
his voice was steady as he refuted the apocalypse.
He had a broad face and a slightly round belly,
He pointed when he laughed and called his opponent Machiavelli!

He was witty and articulate, a right jolly guy,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of the passersby!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke such fantastic words and went straight to his work,
He eviscerated his opponent, then called him out as a jerk.
Laying my finger onto my mouse,
I give a nod and turned toward the window of the house.

I sprang into debate, refuting their God with a shout,
And away they all ran, out of the fear of their own doubt.
But I yelled and exclaimed, before they ran out of sight,
“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night


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Christian Conspiracy Nuts

It is bad enough when atheists dogmatically believe in the nonsense of grand conspiracies, but when Christians believe this crap, they are two levels of crazy.

The other day, I posted an Examiner article about how Christians have been tweeting death threats to atheists. Yesterday, a Christian called me out on this. He claimed that all those people who left those death threats were probably atheists who are part of the hacker group Anonymous pretending to be Christians to make Christianity look bad.

I pointed out to him that I cited at least ten twitter accounts with their twitter identities and that it wouldn’t be hard to just look those people up and see how long they have had their accounts for and what the content of their tweets has been. This would certainly show that they are Christians. He wasn’t having it. Instead, he insisted that the members of Anonymous are devious.

So I had to point out to him that threatening violence and even carrying out violence is not really out of character for many Christians. Without going into the long history of Christian violence (from the crusades to the inquisition),  I told him that often times all it takes is an atheist wearing an atheist themed shirt, going into a fundamentalist church and that atheist is sure to be threatened if not beat up. I also told him that it doesn’t even have to be a fundamentalist church sometimes nor does it even have to be in a church at all. I have had Christians yell threats out of a car window because I had a Darwin Fish on my car.

But I guess the old saying is true, God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son and that whoever believes in him will believe in ANYTHING!

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