26 May, 2009

Oh Ye of Little Faith!


It's funny you know, how revelations come to us at the damnedest times.

I was just now preparing to leave the house to run some errands when I witnessed two ladies, each carrying a bible clutched to their (I'm certain) pure breasts, approach my front door, pause, and then turn away without knocking or ringing the doorbell.

About four years ago, tired of door to door salespeople and Mormons and other assorted proselytizers disturbing my dinner, work, or peace of mind on a fairly regular basis, I posted a "No Solicitors" sign on my front door which reads in part:

" ...If your purpose is religious, to tell us about God’s love or convince us we need Jesus to be our personal savior, please don’t knock. Instead, bow your head and pray as sincerely and intently as possible for this door to disappear. When it does, feel free to come on in...we will definitely want to hear what you have to say!"

Now here's where the revelation thing comes in...

I have seen at least a dozen different religious types...usually with bible in tow...walk up to my front door, full of the holy spirit and determined to win a convert for their particular god or version thereof, only to stop, read my little sign, then turn and quietly depart.

Why?

If they really believed they served an omniscient god who answered prayer, why leave? Why not bow their heads and pray for my door to disappear?

The only answer possible is that not a single one of them had nearly as much faith in their god and his powers as they would have others believe. When the best opportunity they'd ever had to prove everything they claim about their god presented itself they faltered, unwilling to put their faith to a real test.

Imagine that.

24 May, 2009

Star Stuff...

Two thoughts: 1) We miss Carl Sagan...whether some of us realize it or not, and 2) We desperately need someone to take his place.

From Cosmos:


video

22 May, 2009

Arrrrgh!


I just suffered through reading another Christian nut case gloating over us poor atheists leading such meaningless lives. Infuriated with his illogic and nonsense, I responded thusly:

You do not get it!

Not only is my existence not meaningless, it is wonder-filled every day.

I know that I am made of stardust - much more noble and exciting to my mind than your mundane mud myth - and I marvel in the fact that of all the multiple millions of life forms on earth, mine is the only one that can appreciate that fact.
I know that this is my only go-round, so I am highly motivated to make as big a difference as possible in the lives of the people I care about, and to leave the world a better place for them. Motivation you cannot possibly appreciate given your focus on the "next" world. Good luck with that one.

And I deeply, completely appreciate just how lucky I am to be here, given the fact that the possible number of people who potentially could be born are more numerous than the grains of sand in the Sahara, and I am a winner in that lottery.

I am constantly in awe of deep space, distant time, and the fact that I am really related to every creature and plant that has ever existed on earth.

I have great wines, good food, children, grandchildren, marvelous companionship, and the total affection of two rescued greyhounds. I look forward to each day, each chance to share my thoughts with others, and every instance when my love and friend Pat smiles at me and tells me she loves me.

An empty, meaningless life? Pardon my French, but you are full of shit.

I do not have to fear that at any moment I might say, think or do something that might commit me to eternal damnation. Nor do I do live in subjugation to the most narcissistic, mean-spirited, hateful, and murderous character in all of fiction.

You feel sorry for me? Put a sock in it sucker!

18 May, 2009

A Challenge to Intelligent Design...

PZ Myers has issued a rather straightforward challenge to the ID community: Find just one gene out of the billions sequenced that is "original" rather than showing evidence of evolution. Doing so would be a blow to evolution and put the ID hypothesis on firm, scientific footing. Let's see what happens...


video

17 May, 2009


Recently there has been a trend among religious apologists, especially the defenders of Christianity, to attempt to render illegitimate the arguments made by atheists against the existence of god(s) in general and the Christian god in particular.

The new and improved polemic usually runs something like this: Your criticisms are crude and uninformed. You know little to nothing about the history, philosophy, and theology of our religion. I have spent my life studying this religion…its history, culture, languages, etc, etc. You would be offended if someone lacking expertise in science attacked that discipline the way you, lacking detailed knowledge of theology, have attacked our beliefs. You therefore have no standing to criticize us and our beliefs. In short, they are attempting to erect a barrier of expertise against thoughtful criticisms of that which they take on faith.

What they are really saying is that we are not to be taken seriously when we voice doubt about the existence of pink unicorns because we have not spent half of our lives engrossed in a scholarly pursuit of Unicornology. Nor can we possible know there are no fairies flitting around the deep woods because we have not taken the time to earn an advanced degree in Fairiology.

On a purely philosophical basis, I am left to wonder how one becomes an expert on the non-existent. What special training and which degrees qualify me to be able to criticize the bronze-age myths of cattle-sacrificing primitives, born of fear and ignorance, and the debilitating effect that a dogged adherence to those myths have on our world and society today?

The debate, contrary to the claims of the new apologists, is neither esoteric nor ontological. It is not over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; rather it is far more basic than that. It is that there simply aren’t any friggin’ angels, period.

Behind all the claims to specialized learning is a more fundamental group of claims. Basically these are: 1) A god exists; 2) That god is Yahweh, the god of Abraham; 3) The Bible enables us to know and understand what that god wants from us; 4) The beliefs and practices of modern Christianity are accurately derived from Claims 1 through 3; and 5) Claims 1 through 4 are indisputable, so let us alone.

But here’s what I (we) know: 1) There is no evidence in either the scientific nor logical sense to support the existence of a god or gods; 2) In as much as one needs not prove a negative, it is up to believers to produce the evidence for their version of god, not up to us to provide evidence against; 3) It comforts me, my god is outside of nature, god(s) work(s) in strange ways and the like, all fall well short of evidence, much more truth; 4) If knowledge of this god and his demands is so obvious, why are there literally thousands of interpretations of same roiling the earth today; and 5) As human knowledge has accumulated over the past three-quarters of a millennia, all gods have become less likely because the things once attributed to them and/or many of the claims made for them have been explained or put to lie.

So no, dear believer, the fact that you wasted much of your life attaining a PhD in one religious discipline or another, or have advanced to an office such as bishop or pope or whatever, does not mean you have any more insight into the basic..the real…question than do I or any atheist. When we drill down to the bedrock, your arguments carry less weight, not more, than mine because mine are built on reality, on reason, and on logic…yours on a primitive whimsy and ignorance which you cannot or will not examine seriously. Your “expertise” gambit simply does not work.

04 May, 2009

Pricing a Brain...


In the hospital, relatives gathered waiting on news of their family member who was gravely ill. Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber.

“I’m afraid I’m the bearer of bad news,” he said as he surveyed the worried faces. “The only hope left for John at this time is a brain transplant. It’s an experimental procedure, very risky, but it is the only hope. Insurance will cover the procedure, but you will have to pay for the brain.”

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a time, someone thought to ask, “How much will a brain cost?”

The doctor quickly responded, “$5,000 for the brain of a religious believer; $200 for an Atheist brain.”

The moment turned awkward. One relative, unable to control his curiosity, finally blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask, “Why does a believer’s brain cost so much more than an Atheist brain?”

The doctor smiled at the childish innocence and patiently explained, “It’s just standard pricing procedure. We have to price Atheist brains a lot lower because they’ve been used.”

03 May, 2009

What Religious Folks Simply Don’t Get…

 

I just had a spiritual experience.  No, really!

I was sitting in my family room when I noticed a hummingbird busily working over a flowering bush in the backyard.  Hummers (the feathered kind) being one of my favorite critters, I smiled as he darted from flower to flower, amazed at his agility.

Then it hit me…I was watching a distant cousin of T-Rex flitting around my garden, a living connection to one of earth’s most storied monsters.  Think on that a moment – a flying creature weighing but a few ounces that is a regular visitor to our garden connects me to a time, place, and animals I will never see but which have captivated the imagination of humans from the time we first learned of their existence.   If such a realization is not spiritual, I cannot imagine what is.

That is just one of many things about Atheists that religious folks don’t get.  They suppose our lives have to be empty, bereft of meaning, just because we reject ancient myths in favor of reason and evidence.  Truth is, I have felt far happier and more fulfilled since I admitted to myself  that the whole god-myth really didn’t make sense than I ever was when I was constantly worried that, no matter how hard I tried, I just might not measure up to the expectations and demands of the Dictator in the Sky.

I also find I suffer from far less cognitive dissonance since I let go of the god-crutch.  I no longer have to try to make sense of bible verses that contradict each other, of a supposedly loving god that spent a good deal of his time engaged in genocide and/or condemning folks to death for the most innocuous (or even natural) of behaviors, or of biblical claims that defy scientific fact.

The religious also worry that we have no moral compass:  How can Atheists be moral without a god to tell them the difference between right and wrong?  There are two responses to that: 

First off, Homo sapiens lived in organized societies – in the Indus Valley of India, China, Egypt, Samaria, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, and Mesoamerica, to name a few – for thousands of years before the mythical Moses received Yahweh’s commandments not to kill, steal, and the like.  Are we to suppose that no one realized before the Commandments that it was wrong to murder, rape, steal, or lie?  How do you suppose such large and diverse groupings of people got along and cooperated with “no moral compass”? 

Then again, even though I am “without god”, I have never been tempted to kill, or rape, or steal, and I like to think I have limited my fibbing to a rather reasonable level.  Why?  Because I perceive it is better to behave toward others the way I want others to behave toward me.  We’ve evolved that behavior over the past 100,000 years or so…it’s what works.  I neither conform my behavior to win a promised reward nor to avoid a threatened eternity of punishment.  Only the religious do that.

Lastly, the religious fret that Atheists “hate god”.  Hello!  How, do you imagine, can I “hate” that which I truly believe does not nor cannot exist?  Do religious folks hate leprechauns?  Vampires?  Thor or Zeus?   Admittedly, I think the very idea of god…any god, anywhere…is rather silly, even childish.  But hate?  I simply don’t have the time nor the energy to hate the non-existent.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my wonderful, flitting dinosaur just returned and I want to watch him.