Friday, October 23, 2009

The Bible Warns Against Learning

Time for a quick Friday rant. The bEarthDay thing has got me thinking about the humorous side that religion brings, but I can't help but shake the fact that it's ultimately detrimental to society as a whole.  It seems I'm always talking about this: religion is counter-productive to the advancement of human understanding and knowledge. We cannot learn as a whole as long as we are shackled by the chains of this way of thinking -- or should I say, not thinking.

I'm targeting the bible here, but all religions are guilty of this. The fact that Christianity is based on the idea of how wrong it is to learn something new. The Genesis story tells of humanities first and largest sin: gaining forbidden knowledge. All throughout the bible, we can find passages that strictly condemn thinking. Proverbs 3:5-6, Ecclesiastes 1:18, Philippians 2:14, Romans 1:22, and 1 Corinthians 1:19,27 are just a few examples of this wonderful guidebook that about one third of the planet identifies as the backbone of society. The bible states very clearly: don't think for yourself.

The idea that thinking for yourself is fundamentally against faith or the laws of the creator of the universe is dangerous and it squelches any hope of advancement for humankind. The fact that you're reading this right now is testament to the power of understanding brought on -- not by the wisdom of an almighty ghost -- but by the labors of reason and the drive to understand reality. I find it simultaneously absurd and terrifying that people fight tooth and nail to try to keep us in the Dark Ages by blocking off any progress in the battle against ignorance.


Happy bEarth Day!

Way back in 1658, Archbishop James Ussher determined that the world was created precisely at 9am, October 23, 4004 BC.  So today is the official creation day and the earth is a ripe young 6012 years old!  Men of God have faith, and that counts just as much as evidence, right?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today from Ray: What Have You Been Doing?

In a small effort to spice things up around here -- and get me blogging more -- we're starting a new running series. I like to argue. More importantly, I like to help people. I feel that pointing out errors aids in the stamping out of ignorance.

Our good friend Ray Comfort has loads of such ignorance spewing forth from his blog here on blogger. Ray's "Comfort Food" blog is now "Atheist Central", and since I fit the description of his target, I've tried to regularly participate. The only problem is that of censorship. The only comments that are shown are those that Ray judges as appropriate. He'll even cut off discussions if you fail to capitalize specific words like jesus! (You can read his rules for commenting just below his title graphic full of argumentum ad verecundiam.) So since taking him on on his own turf is rather ineffectual and self-defeating, I'll have to answer Ray's criticisms and characterizations of atheism here. Occasionally we'll take a look at what's going down on Ray's blog today.

And Ray, if you want to comment here, I don't give a rat's ass how you type "jesus".

Big Words From Little Woody
Jumping right into what I find displayed on the page right now, Ray's October 18th drips with his basic Way of The Master rhetoric. "When the atheist stands before God," Ray writes, "it will be a waste of time telling Him what he thinks of Him." Ray fails to convince atheists with this kind of "logic" by failing to see the enormous assumption. After all, what will Ray really have to say to FSM when he stands before him, huh?

The snide title of the post comes from the fact that Ray quotes atheist Woody Allen and then calls him a "sad man who is fearful of dying". He somehow gets that out of Allen's words: "God has some explaining to do". Indeed, I'd ask the same from God if I died and met Ray's deity in the clouds. Aside from reading in a fear of death, Ray fails to see that if his god is real, it would already know exactly what it would take to convince every single non-believer on the planet. This is the point of Allen's quote. It's not a matter of being hostile towards religion, or just wanting to be a naughty little sinner. It's not that he's scared of dying, or scared of finding out he was wrong, it's the fact that a god with qualities that Ray and other Christians profess wouldn't and shouldn't expect a surprise run-in with an atheist.

You're an idiot, Ray. This is going to be harder than I thought...I'm going to go lay down and try to get rid of the headache I got from pulling my hair out.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Perfect Love

[Adapted from a video by Nick Gisburne]

I saw a beautiful woman sitting alone in the park. I recognize her, because she comes there often. I've admired her for quite some time, but I've never gotten up the courage to talk to her, or even let her know I exist. I start writing her letters, telling her how much I love her. I tell her of all the wonderful things I can do for her, and to her, if only she'd be mine. I leave these letters on her front porch, and I watch in hiding as she reads them and blushes with excitement. She runs to the door and yells out into the street, "Let me see you! I love you!" though I remain hidden.

I continue writing her, constantly expressing my devotion and unconditional love. She keeps asking to see me. She starts writing me responses and leaving them on the porch so that I would find them whenever I came to deliver my next batch of love letters. In her responses, she begs me to reveal my identity, that only if she and I could talk face-to-face and hold each other close, then the fullness of our love could be realized. I respond in my next letter by saying I want her to freely love me, and I don't think she could if she knew my true identity.

Over time, I notice my letters start to pile up at her doorstep. It seems she no longer reads them. Worried, I began watching her through her window. She seems not to care about how much I love her. I then see a man walk up to her door. She answers it, and kisses him passionately on the mouth. Infuriated and confused, I race to the door and strike them both down. I drag them inside and tie them up. I scream at my former love, "Why? Why? Why?! After you knew how much I loved you, how could you betray our love?"

"How can I love you if I can't be with you?" she asked through her tears. I can't hear through the raging torrent of blood pumping through my veins. "All I asked was for you to love me -- ONLY ME!" I screamed as I doused the living room with a gas can. She pleaded with me to stop, that she'd love me, but it was too late. As I walked away from the burning house, I relished her screams of agony, for she was receiving justice for denying me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's My Choice

I've recently received a lot of comments regarding the Problem of Evil, namely the theist's attempt to solve said problem. Many theists will claim the reason bad things happen to good people is because "God can't (or doesn't want to) interfere with our free will to be able to choose to love Him on our own. Otherwise, we'd all be robots", etc, etc, ad nauseum. Let's take a look at why free will fails as a defense.

The Greater Good
Free will is assumed to be a greater good than the evil that it causes. If a young girl is raped and murdered, is this because God needed to preserve the rapists free will so that his actions could result in greater good or so that the rapist could freely love God? Or is it so that the young girl would pray to God and beg him to make her attacker stop?

What about natural disasters (if you want to call them "evil")? God -- being omnipotent -- could have devised a way to remove all the evil in the world, and still give us free choices. What does shingles or hypospadias have to do with choice or the absolute knowledge of God?

Take Me To Your Leader
"We'd all be robots" is a conjecture based on what, exactly? You're claiming that God would destroy our free will to worship him simply by giving us evidence of his existence. Not to do your own theology for you, but according to the bible there have been several individuals who had first-hand knowledge of God's existence and still managed to have the free will to choose or not choose him: Adam, Eve, Moses, Satan, just to name a few. These beings had repeated conversations and interactions with God -- did they loose their free will? And what about Heaven? Will you lose your free will there?

The idea that we would have no choice to love/worship a deity who revealed itself unquestionably is preposterous. You'd still have a choice in the matter. You know for certain of the President's existence, correct? Did you lose the free will to disagree with his policies? If the God of the bible convincingly revealed himself to me, I would still not get down on my hands and knees and grovel at his feet. Such a tyrant, hiding or otherwise, deserves no worship.

Free will is not an excuse for why bad things happen to good people. Knowledge of God still affords us a choice in the matter, except we'd have better evidence to base our opinions on. Besides, you can't truly love someone without an absolute knowledge on them.