The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dumb Theistic Argument of the Week

double face palmIn response to my contention that the law Yahweh provided was ludicrously inadequate and was in fact highly immoral, Anonymous responded thus:

"God provides laws regulating everything when no laws existed, do you get the point? No laws were there which could say that one action was better than another. Making laws established parity for the behavior of the people he was going to send many more prophets to. This is an example of God teaching men proper behavior piece by piece, not suggesting slavery is not objectively immoral, but that humanity had to be brought to a point where they could accept and live with the knowledge that it was so."

This statement is mind bogglingly ignorant and counterfactual on almost every single level.

1.  "God provides laws regulating everything when no laws existed, do you get the point?"  Apparently I don't get the point...  As a threshold matter, let's dispense with the ludicrous contention that no laws existed.  The Mosaic Law was developed somewhere between 700 and 800 BCE.  In contrast, the Code of Ur-Nammu was codified somewhere around 2050 BCE, the Laws of Eshunna somewhere around 1930 BCE, Codex of Lipit Ishtar somewhere around 1870 BCE, the Code of Hammurabi somewhere around 1750 BCE.  This does not even include other codes of laws extant in the Far East.  In other words, far from the Mosaic Law simply coming into being 'when no laws existed,' the Mosaic Law was actually merely a restatement of codified legal codes that had been in existence throughout the Middle East for over a thousand years.  Indeed, much of Mosaic Law was copied directly from the Code of Hammurabi.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Can We Please Stop Talking About Atheists' Tone?

Our tone does not matter.

Our tone is not the issue.

Our tone is irrelevant.

Our tone is nothing but a meaningless distraction, a red herring, a means of dodging the simple fact that when theists engage in substantive discussions they lose.

Theists lose on the facts.  And they know it.

When we talk about cosmology, they dither and quibble and retreat to furious hand wringing and meaningless talking points about vague unknown and unknowable first causes.  When we talk about biology, they pull the same trick, repeatedly returning to the God of the Gaps.  When we talk about morality, they mumble about Hitler, Stalin and Mao, completely ignoring the fact that their alleged atheism had about as much to do with their megalomania as the presence of a Y Chromosome while denying all responsibility for the countless horrors perpetrated in the name of religion and glossing over the fact that incredibly secular countries are deeply stable and are actually living the moral life theists like to preach about.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Society Just Doesn't Need Religion to be Moral

One of the most common complaints theists make regarding atheism is the alleged amorality of atheists. This mirrors the common misconception that atheism is either equivalent to or at least a kissing cousin of nihilism. Nothing could be further from the truth. The genesis of this allegation is the notion that human morality is dependent upon the existence of and adherence to a system of morality mandated by the divine. The obvious utility of this allegation is that it means that religion, all religion, is necessary to prevent humanity from descending into the Hobbesian nightmare of the eternal war of all against all.

But is it obvious that human morality can exist only within the confines of an externally mandated system of divine rewards and punishments?  Is a divine code of conduct necessary for human morality?  This canards is not only patently ridiculous, but demonstrably against the weight of the evidence of the entirety of human history.

As a threshold matter, the idea that human morality is dependent upon a divine code of conduct depends first and foremost upon agreement as to the basic tenets of what that code of conduct IS. It should first be noted that over the course of human civilization innumerable human religions that have waxed and waned.  More importantly, those innumerable faiths do not possess any overall consensus as to what code of morality the divine actually intends for us to follow.  Indeed, nearly all express not only skepticism regarding the morality of other faiths, but outright condemn those who practice them.  Given that supposed moral exclusivity, one would assume that within a given religion, at least, that code of morality would be as unchanging as the eternal divinity it purportedly represents.  Even within a single religion, however, that code of conduct, that supposedly unchanging moral code has shifted over the millennia.

To be blunt, the written code of conduct and ethics that dominated each of the Abrahamaic religions is incredibly barbaric.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Faith Is Incompatible With Humility And Intellectual Shame

One of the most fascinating thing about debates with theists is the way in which every single argument, every single piece of contradictory evidence, every fact that illustrates the folly or impossibility of a specific belief can be blithely ignored without the slightest hint of humility or intellectual shame.

No matter how well crafted the argument, no matter how sound the logic, no matter how compelling the evidence and no matter how reasonable the tone, Faith, as discussed here, is utterly impervious to reason.  Faith cannot be reasoned with because Faith is fundamentally incompatible with reason.

More troubling, Faith seems wholly incompatible with either humility or shame.

Faith is the mechanism by which a believer can convince themselves that they are right no matter how manifestly and demonstrably wrong they actually are - no matter how ridiculous their belief.  Faith is an intellectual temper tantrum, a purely emotional insistence that the believer is right no matter what - and no evidence to the contrary will ever be considered.  Few human attributes demonstrate a more profound and overwhelming arrogance than Faith.

The Faithful are incapable of shame.  Normally, when human beings are presented with compelling evidence that their position is incorrect, there is a certain degree of intellectual shame accompanying that realization.  The Faithful have no such problem, they simply deny the evidence or claim that the absence of evidence is merely proof that absolute knowledge is impossible.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Theists Like Their Gods Small

Theists should be overjoyed at the scientific advances of the last 500 years.  They should be ecstatic at the wondrous ways in which science has enlarged the scope of our Universe, uncovered the marvelous complexity of the cosmos, revealed the mechanisms by which our atoms are forged, and detailed the fantastic intricacies of living organisms.  Science has given us an amazing understanding of the physical, chemical, geological, and biological wonders that fill our Universe, understandings that dramatically increase the size, scale and beauty of our world and the Cosmos.
Theists should be filled with awe at the vastness, scope, breadth and age of our Universe and the ways in which it vastly exceeds the wildest imaginings of our ancient ancestors.  Theists should be in love with science for so dramatically increasing the awe inspiring size, scope and nature of the Universe over which their god is supposedly sovereign.

Instead, theists despise science.  They despise what it has revealed about the size of the Universe, the age of the Universe, the age of our planet.  They actively fight against the majesty and age of the Universe.  The despise it because theists are desperate to keep god small, to keep god manageable.  Theists are FAR more comfortable with a petty god, a small god, a parochial god because such a deity allows US to feel important.  Special.  Chosen.

The ancients clearly believed that humans were special, were chosen.  They believed this because they had no understanding of the size and scope of the tiny planet they inhabited, let alone the Universe they lived in.  The ancients believed that Earth was the center of the Universe, that the sun orbited around it and that the stars were merely fixed scenery.  In that kind of Universe, the preeminence of humanity was clear, uncontested.  It was in that kind of Universe that the tiny gods of old were forged, gods who actively discriminated between groups and tribes based on petty liturgical or doctrinal distinctions.  In that kind of Universe, god is merely a few existential steps above humanity, god of the solar system.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why is Blasphemy the ONLY Unforgivable Sin?

"Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin."  Mark 3:28-29

"And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."  Matthew 12:30-32

Of all the vile, despicable, wretched, evil acts that humankind can commit, murder, rape, torture, slavery, genocide, child abuse, why exactly is Blasphemy considered the ONLY unforgivable sin?

Why exactly is it that out of all the horrible ACTIONS that humans can commit, only WORDS are considered unforgivable.


Is God really so thin skinned?  So petty?  So easily insulted?  I seem to recall a phrase from my youth 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.'  Clearly this phrase does not apply to our allegedly all powerful Creator.  Our thin skinned, whimpering, blubbering Creator is so deeply wounded that merely denying His existence or doubting the magics of his allegedly annointed one is the ONE unforgivable sin.
  • Murder your fellow man?  No problem.  Just believe and you'll be forgiven.
  • Rape a woman?  No problem.  Just believe and you'll be forgiven.
  • Rape a child?  No problem.  Just believe and you'll be forgiven.
  • Torture a child?  No problem.  Just believe and you'll be forgiven.
  • Slaughter an entire people?  No problem.  Just believe and you'll be forgiven.
  • Enslave an entire populations?  No problem.  Just believe and you'll be forgiven.
  • Deny God's existence?  Deny that Jesus' 'magics' were the work of the Holy Spirit?  UNFORGIVABLE!!!  YOU ARE DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY AND NO AMOUNT OF BELIEF OR PRAYER WILL SAVE YOU FROM GOD'S WRATH!!!
Why exactly is blasphemy the ONE unforgivable sin?  Easy.


Religion is and always has been about control.  About subjugation.  About dominance.  Nothing is better at quashing dissent than claiming that the very act of dissent is a one way ticket to eternal torment and damnation.  This doctrine cleverly nips dissent in the bud, because not only is dissent a sin, it is UNFORGIVABLE, which means merely dabbling in dissent, perhaps even thinking about it could unalterably destroy any chance you have at salvation.

Christianity is and always has trafficked in fear.  Blasphemy is the ONLY unforgivable sin because the one thing that Christianity itself has always feared is dissent.

Update:  I am well aware that it is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, however, the three are one and the same.  It's your trinitarian gobbledygook, not mine.

The Uselessness of Prayer

We are creatures who crave causation. We see an effect and we look for a cause. Unlike any other creature, our intelligence leads us to the inescapable conclusion that when something happens, something else must have caused it to happen. While this is one of the hallmarks of our intelligence, it often leads to erroneous conclusions, and gross misattributions especially when the effects which we are attempting to explain have multiple causes, or whose causes are not readily apparent.  Nothing illustrates our tendency to misattribute cause than the belief in the efficacy of prayer.

We crave causation because it provides us with the illusion that if we can control the cause, we can control the outcome. The idea of an interventionist deity is the ultimate expression of this primal craving for a knowable causation. Early humans had little to no understanding of the underlying mechanics of the world they inhabited. The idea that the landforms they walked were the result of complex geological and hydrological processes operating over billions of years would have been utterly unfathomable to an early human. The idea that the weather that battered or blessed their crops arose due to the complex interplay between those landforms and thermal, pressure and humidity gradients that are themselves driven by the sun's influence on atmospheric and oceanic conditions would have been incomprehensible. Early humans could see the effect of weather, could even track the budding symptoms of weather to come, but utterly lacked any knowledge of the cause.

Gods were a simple answer to an unimaginably complex set of questions. Why did the weather do what it did? Why does the sea do what it does? Because the gods are angry or benevolent or a million other human emotions. By assigning human emotions to the divine and by then assigning those emotions to some physical manifestation, that primordial craving for an underlying cause is satisfied. More importantly, if these physical manifestations can be explained by some divine emotional state, it places complex physical systems under human control, because if we could somehow alter the emotional state of the divine, placate it through prayer, meditation, sacrifice, or otherwise, we can ultimately exert control over our physical environment. And so throughout human history, men have prayed, meditated, pleaded and sacrificed in the hopes of exerting control over the physical world by appealing to the fickle emotions of a million different divinities.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Hubble Telescope - Atheism's Greatest Weapon

If Dinosaurs are atheism's gateway drug, then Astronomy is almost certainly atheism's crack cocaine.

While Dinosaurs let me in on the secret that the Bible could be wrong, Astronomy convinced me that God almost certainly didn't exist.

Dinosaurs showed me how incredibly old and unbelievably ancient our world was.  Astronomy showed me how unfathomably small and utterly insignificant we are in the cosmos.

The image to the right - the Hubble Ultra Deep Field - is an image of a patch of the night sky the size of a grain of sand held out at arms length that appears to be completely empty.  In that almost microscopic patch of sky, Hubble was able to capture images of thousands of galaxies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Because what the Government TOTALLY Needs is people Speaking in Tongues

Wow... There really aren't words to describe this. It must be watched.  I'm certainly glad that this Woman's God is going to be interfering in the Democratic process because our Government totally needs people like this in power...  Just wow...  Is it any wonder that we demolish these people whenever we debate them?

So Long DADT! Religious Bigotry Gets a Richly Deserved Kick in the Crotch

The final repeal of DADT is now a foregone conclusion.  With a cloture vote of 66-33, the repeal is no longer in question.  It will happen today.  Almost certainly within the hour.

And with the repeal of DADT, one more vestige of religious bigotry will come crashing down.

DADT is, was, and always has been grossly inequitable.  It deprived American citizens of a central right on the basis of immutable characteristics based solely on bigotry, religious hatred, intolerance, ignorance and Christian asshattery.

If you doubt for even a moment that the oppression and denial of equality for homosexuals is motivated by nothing but the basest and crassest forms of religious bigotry, I invite you to visit a few of the nauseating links above.  There is not and has never been any rational reason to deny homosexuals the right to serve in the military.  Indeed, the SOLE reason this oppression has been allowed to stand is because of the tireless efforts of religious bigots.

Let the following names be remembered by history as the bigoted douchebags they are:

John McCain - Baptist
Mitch McConnell - Baptist
Richard Shelby - Presbyterian
John Kyl - Presbyterian
Jeff Sessions - Methodist
George Lemieux - Roman Catholic
Saxby Chambliss - Episcopalian
Johnny Isakson - Methodist
Mike Crapo - Mormon
Jim Risch - Roman Catholic
Chuck Grassley - Baptist
Sam Brownback - Roman Catholic
Pat Roberts - Methodist
Jim Bunning - Roman Catholic
David Vitter - Roman Catholic
Thad Cochran - Baptist
Roger Wicker - Southern Baptist
Kit Bond - Presbyterian
Mike Johanns - Roman Catholic
Judd Gregg - Congregationalist
Jim Inhofe - Presbyterian
Tom Coburn - Baptist
Lindsey Graham - Southern Baptist
Jim DeMint - Persbyterian
John Thune - Evangelical Christian
Lamar Alexander - Presbyterian
Bob Corker - Presbyterian
John Cornyn - Church of Christ
Orrin Hatch - Mormon
Robert Foster Bennett - Mormon
Mike Enzi - Presbyterian

And let it be known that in the end, the bigoted, regressive, intolerant, assholes listed above were not enough to prevent rationality, reason, equality and justice from prevailing.

So congratulations to all you guys in the LGBT community!  Congratulations on delivering a swift kick in the crotch to Christian bigotry.  You guys (and gals) have deserved this for a long time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Does Atheism Matter?

It has been brought to my attention that I am somewhat preachy. This does not exactly come as a surprise since I have been preachy my whole life, but I have been told that I have become 'preachy,' preachy in recent years.

And I suppose that is true. I have become preachy. I like talking about atheism. I like thinking about it. Because I believe that we have something important to contribute - a perspective deserving of consideration and worthy of discussion. A perspective and point of view that has been marginalized and demonized or completely ignored for far too long.

Atheism matters. It matters despite the utterly inane and substance free babbling of Mark Jeddry's Huffington Post article. It matters because large swaths of our domestic policy and foreign policy are heavily influenced by religious dogma that is patently ridiculous and incredibly harmful. Indeed, many of our most pressing national security and foreign policy problems stem directly from Religion.

It matters because Religion is holding us back and exacerbating our problems.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For God So Loved The World...

  1. He condemned an entire species to death and endless torment for all eternity because two people who didn't even know the difference between right and wrong were tricked by a talking snake that He put in the Garden into eating forbidden fruit that He also put in the Garden.  Gen. 3:17-21
  2. He drowned the entire globe because a handful of city states in the Middle East were insufficiently worshipful.  Gen. 6:5-8, 17
  3. He nuked two entire cities, killing every man, woman and child within for the sins of a few.  Gen. 19:23-28
  4. He became jealous and enraged at what He believed humans could accomplish with one language so he made it so that humans could no longer understand one another.  Gen. 11:5-8
  5. He demanded that his most faithful servant sacrifice his own son.  Gen. 22:2
  6. He delivered his Chosen people to the Egyptians who enslaved them, allowed them to be cruelly oppressed for generations, then hardened Pharaoh's heart and made him refuse to release His Chosen so He could glorify himself by slaughtering the first born children of an entire civilization.  Ex. 1:8-14, Ex 10:25-27, Ex. 11:9-10, Ex 12:29-30
  7. He ordered the slaughter of 3000 of his Chosen people and plagued the rest because a handful decided to worship Him in a way he found displeasing.  Ex. 32:27-29, 35
  8. He expressly endorses sex slavery for his Chosen people and just regular plain vanilla chattel slavery for foreigners.  Ex. 21:7-11, Lev: 25:44-46
  9. He demanded the genocide of the Amalekites 1 Sam. 15:2-3, slaughtered the Amorites, Hittites, Caananites, Jebusites, Hivites, Perizzites, Exodus 23:23, and simultaneously demanded that the Israelites break three of His Commandments - Coveting Neighbors Land, Stealing Neighbors Land, and Murdering to Steal Neighbor's Land.
  10. And He promises that He will return and destroy the world again, pouring out his wrath and judgment against all mankind and destroying all that He has created in the process.  Rev. 8:6-13, Rev. 9:1-6
See!  See how loving he is!  He's positively oozing love.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Insufficient Salvation

I was terrified of Hell as a child.  The concept filled me with dread.  As a six year old, I actually lay in bed for long hours while my mind raced in circles about the terrors that I was certain awaited me.  On at least two occasions I even had to seek consolation from my parents in the middle of the night.
I was told that I didn't have to worry about Hell because of Jesus' sacrifice, that because of his crucifixion and resurrection I didn't need to be afraid of death or Hell.  That Jesus' grace was sufficient.

Unfortunately, I was not convinced.  The explanation made no sense to me.  Jesus' crucifixion seemed totally unrelated to me.  Totally insufficient.  What did Jesus getting crucified have to do with my egregious sins of stealing cookies or disobeying the babysitter?  Why would punishing Jesus wash my sin away?  Why would God be satisfied with punishing the wrong person?

Even as a child the concept of Jesus' sacrifice made no sense to me.  How would punishing an innocent person, killing them, make anything better?  The entire idea was ludicrous.  Punishing an innocent person did not, in my mind, resolve the problem of sin, it compounded it.

Jesus' sacrifice did not diminish my fear of hell, or my certainty that I would be damned for all eternity.  When I raised this issue a handful of times in Sunday School, I was pointed to God's love of animal sacrifice and how the sacrifice of animals as atonement of sin was prefiguring Jesus' perfect sacrifice, but this explanation didn't make any sense either.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons vs. Church

Is there any substantive difference between a weekly gathering of Dungeons and Dragons geeks and Church?

Let's find out!
  1. Does the weekly gathering involve getting together with close friends?
  2. Is the weekly gathering facilitated by one member who guides the discussion?
  3. Does the weekly gathering involve the use of a core group of dense and inscrutable books?
  4. Do the inscrutable books require multiple guides, addenda, compendia, rulebooks and explanations to facilitate understanding of the central books?
  5. Do some members of the weekly gathering support an extremely literal interpretation of the core rulebooks while other members advocate a more liberal and lax understanding of their tenets?
  6. Do the people in your gathering use arcane terms and strange sayings that an outsider would find odd?
  7. Does the weekly gathering involve 'serious' and occasionally intense discussions of invisible and/or magical beings?
  8. Do the people in your group pretend that they are involved in an epic struggle of good against evil?
  9. Does the group's epic struggle of good against evil involve magic and invisible beings, demons and spirits?
  10. Do the people at your weekly gathering actually believe that the magical beings and epic struggle you discuss are real?

If you answered 'Yes' to 9 out of 10, then your geekly gathering is called Dungeons and Dragons.
If you answered 'Yes' to 10 out of 10 then your weekly gathering is called Church.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dinosaurs - Atheism's Gateway Drug

Dinosaurs are perhaps the most dangerous and implacable enemy that Theists have ever faced.  Which is ironic given the fact that (non-avian) Dinosaurs have been extinct for almost 60,000,000 years.

I love Dinosaurs - I find them to be one of the most incredible groups of organisms to ever walk this planet.  Their size, their ferocious appearance and their incredible collective longevity literally dwarfs our own.  But while I love Dinosaurs today, as a child, I loved Dinosaurs.  I was obsessed with Dinosaurs.  I drew Dinosaurs.  I made models of Dinosaurs.  I read about them constantly.  I could tell you how long a Diplodocus was from snout to tail.  I could tell you how much an Ankylosaur weighed.  I could even tell you which time period most of them lived in.

So it was unsurprising that my first ever conflict with the Church arose out of my love of Dinosaurs.  During Sunday School, the teacher walked up to the blackboard and drew a circle on it, then scribbled in some hasty continents.  "How old is the Earth?"  He asked.  Even at the age of six I was something of a know it all.  "Four Billion Years Old," was my immediate reply.

"No.  The Earth is 6000 years old."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Theists are to Atheist Websites as 'Straight Guys' are to Gay Websites

Come on Theists, just admit it, you're a little curious.  We know it.  You know it.  You wouldn't be here otherwise.

Just come out and admit it.  It's okay.  We're not bad... not really.  ;)  If you're a Theist and are spending time lurking on /r/atheism or Pharyngula or Debunking Christianity or any of the other Atheist websites out there, you're almost one of us already.  If you're a Theist and are spending time actually COMMENTING on Atheist websites, you're just a half step away from being a full fledged baby-eating scourge of humanity.

It's okay Theists.  We were there once too.  We understand.  Sure it started with a little harmless curiosity or unwarranted bravado.  It started because you wanted to show us how evil we are.  Or you were just curious.  But eventually you found yourself sucked in.  You found yourself on the losing side of arguments and couldn't figure out why, or you found yourself challenged in ways you hadn't experienced before.

It may have started with harmless curiosity, but soon you'll be longing for more than just the cheap thrill of vicarious blasphemy - soon you'll want to taste it for yourself.  Soon you'll be reading Dawkins or Dennett or Harris or Hitchens.  Eventually you'll find yourself in explicit atheist chatrooms.  Then you'll be visiting atheist bars and clubs.  If you're a Senator, you might find yourself tapping out atheist code in a Minneapolis Airport Restroom.  Just out of curiosity, of course.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My New Hero

Brilliant answers...  I wish I had a TV show.  I'm pretty enough.

Liberal Christianity = Form Without Substance

Liberal Christians are slippery beasts.  So slippery, that it is incredibly difficult to discern what, tenets of Christianity, they actually believe.  Of if they believe any of them at all.  Trying to pin down a Liberal Christian on any tenet of theology is like catching a receding wave.

Where a literal fundamentalist will always stand their ground, loudly and proudly declaring that the Bible is literally true and any evidence to the contrary is wrong, the Liberal Christian will almost always concede that the no, Bible is not literally true . . . with the small caveat that there may be truth in it.  In fact, when pressed on almost any theological tenet, the Liberal Christian will concede, with a small caveat.  Always with a small caveat.  Liberal Christians LOVE small caveats.

Indeed, the Liberal Christian's primary theological attribute appears to be reflexive equivocation and disdain for certainty.  Liberal Christians HATE certainty.  They despise it in all of its forms, equating  certainty with fundamentalism, with radicalism, with militancy.  It appears to be the only consistent component of their theology.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Ten Commandments - Mostly Useless

Moses Smashing the Tables

The Ten Commandments are mostly worthless.

God botherers like Roy Moore and Representative Lynn Westmoreland R-GA love the Ten Commandments.  Westmoreland and Moore love them so much that they demand they be displayed in every public building because they "provide the moral and legal foundation for our civilization" and "without them we would lose our sense of direction."  Of these ten foundational, imperative, paramount moral and legal principles, Westmoreland was able to name three.

The truth is that the Ten Commandments are mostly useless and serve no moral or legal purpose whatsoever.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yahweh's Insatiable Bloodlust - NSFW

For all of Yahweh's alleged interest in kindness and love and peace, if one actually takes the time to read the Bible it is clear that there is one thing above all that really gets Yahweh's motor running - ritual slaughter.  Reading the Old Testament, it is readily apparent that Yahweh LOVES watching humans dismember, disembowel and decapitate helpless animals.  Smelling them smear the blood all over themselves, various altars and other animals.  Yahweh spends literally hundreds of verses describing EXACTLY how to engage in ritual slaughter.  How to slaughter, flay, and splash, splatter and smear the blood of bulls.  Lev 1:3-9.  How and where to kill goats and sheep and how to decorate god's alter with its blood and entrails.  Lev 1:10-13.  How to tear the heads off of doves and dribble their blood all over the alter and burn the whole lot.  Lev 14-17.  How to separate the fat, liver and kidneys as a sign of fellowship.  Lev 3:1-16.  How ONLY God is allowed to eat the fat and blood.  Lev 3:17.  How you are to dip your fingers in the blood, sprinkle it seven times and smear it all over the horns and alter and then pour the rest of the blood out at the base of God's altar.  Lev. 4:1-12

The Bible describes Yahweh's lust for blood in excruciating detail.  Indeed, Yahweh spends more time describing the exact process to be utilized for ritualistic slaughter than he spends on almost any other subject in the whole Bible - far more than he spends discussing peace or love or compassion. 

Fine Tuning – Mildly Sophisticated Theological Bullshit

The idea behind a finely tuned Universe boils down to the idea that if the fundamental physical constants in the Universe, Gravity, Electromagnetism, Strong and Weak Nuclear Force, etc., were slightly different, then chemistry and physics as we understand them would be radically different and the formation of life as we know it would be impossible.  Given the fact that we know that life exists, the Universe must have been designed (finely tuned) to facilitate the formation of life.

In essence, the concept of the finely tuned Universe is the following syllogism:

1.  It is exceedingly unlikely that life should exist and if physical constants were even slightly different, then life would not exist at all.
2.  Life exists.
3.  Therefore, since life exists, the Universe must have been designed in such a way as to facilitate life.

Theologians absolutely love the concept of the Fine Tuned Universe.  I suspect the reason so many love it so fervently is not because it has any substantive logical or philosophical merit, but because for once it allows theologians to throw around really big cosmological numbers and the argument sounds good to those who don't have a strong grasp of logic.  Under normal circumstances, it is atheists like me who get to talk about billions and billions of years and nonillions of chemical compounds reacting over hundreds of millions of years and sextillions of stars in the observable Universe.  When theologians talk about the Finely Tuned Universe, they finally get to toss those big probabalistic numbers around like hand grenades.  They get to talk about the unlikelihood of star formation if the strong nuclear force was less and use really big numbers to discuss the odds and throw out numbers like a 1 with a billion zeros.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Do Theists Really Believe Their Sacred Texts?

Thanks to the wonders of searchable databases, locating specific provisions of the seminal religious texts has never proven easier.  In fact, I think it can be safely said that Google is probably the single greatest enemy that Religion has ever seen.  Forget atheists - Google is the Great Satan.

What used to be a cumbersome task requiring a Concordance is now the work of a few minutes at a computer.  As a result, building an explicit textual case against Biblical Morality, or against Yahweh or Allah as the Greatest Conceivable Being has never been easier.  These seminal religious texts explicitly endorse slavery and describe in tooth grinding detail how to purchase slaves, how you should beat them, when you can beat them, etc.  These seminal religious texts explicitly advocate for invasion, occupation, genocide, murder.  In many instances, God himself directly intervenes and kills scores of innocents.  At other times he merely orders his followers to do so.  Moreover, God, the supposed fount of unconditional love and forgiveness, is more than willing to condemn humans to ETERNAL torture over a few measly decades of rejection.  The text is jarringly clear on these specific points.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Atheism 108 - We Have Better Answers Than 'God Did It'

God did it.  God can do anything.

It's the ultimate cop out.  The ultimate non-answer.  The ultimate trump card.

Whenever Religionists are losing an argument or are presented with any complex question that is unanswerable within the confines of their preferred sacred text, God's alleged omnipotence is always the default fallback position.  Always.  Given the fact that their allegedly omnipotent God can do ANYTHING, it doesn't matter how absurd, how nonsensical or how illogical their position actually is, God can do it anyway.

Perhaps the most vexing aspect of this non-answer, however, is that Religionists always present it as if it is definitive, as if they KNOW that God did it.  They present it as if it is somehow a meaningful, substantive answer.  There is an arrogant certainty in this non-answer that persists no matter how ridiculous and absurd their position actually is.

No geological or paleontological evidence of a global flood?  No problem - God simply covered his tracks and destroyed all evidence of his intervention.