Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Stirring the pot

recently tweeted that "Questioning that one can be proud to be gay is a leftist blasphemy. "

While in the strictest definition of proud this could be conceived as correct, although the definition starts with proud of one's accomplishments, it finishes with proud of what ones own qualities. But on even a cursory glance at some of the literature around the pride movement the error is quickly found. Just as some people aren't proud for being an atheist, skeptical or human, people aren't proud for being Gay in the strict definition of the term, or for that matter proud for being anywhere else in the sexual spectrum.
They are proud for coming to terms with it in a predominantly heterosexual, binary gendered society, they are proud for coming out in such a hostile environment to not only gain support from non-LGBTI people but to make it easier for others to come out. This kind of pride sounds really familiar, oh wait a minute these are the same arguments for coming out as an atheist, for having the reason rally, or any number of Celebrations of reason etc.

I agree with Boghossians premise, to quote a great philosopher that came before him "In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." - Bertrand Russell
But I think Boghossian may have missed the mark on this one, and in doing so has gotten off side a large part of the community that would invariably be opposed to some of the same things he is opposed to, yes you can be LGBTI and religious, but I think if you do you have a short and forgiving memory for the persecution you suffered under religious hands.

Greta Christiana writes a more thorough refutation here.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Is Islamaphobia a real thing?

I like to think contentious thoughts, trust me I am writing some other blog posts that are rather contentious of my own beliefs. "In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." - Bertrand Russell

Well this one is on Islamaphobia. Or the perceived racism that people get accused of when questioning Islam.

There is no doubt that humans stereotype, and perform irrational prejudice based decisions. Even the most rational of us will still check for our wallet if we are bumped by a person in a train who looks like they had seen better days. This is simply mistrust, something that served us well when we had to mistrust a strange looking creature for example that could kill us, if we mistrusted it and ran we survived either way, if we didn't and the creature was deadly then we wouldn't have passed on our trusting genes.

The common argument is that Islam is not a race, so it can't be racism. The joke that ran rife on Twitter post the Ben Affleck V Sam Harris debate was along the lines of: Tomorrow I am going to convert to Chinese. Which does make a good point, you can convert to Islam so it is not a race, anymore than Christianity is... or Judaism. But you can be an anti-Semite if you attack a Jew for wearing a yarmulke, just as you can be anti-Muslim if you simply attack a person for wearing a Hijab or Bisht. There are ill-informed prejudging people in the world, information is the only thing that can fix this.

Ah but you can't really convert to Judaism, see here and here. So maybe that is why Judaism gets that get out of insult card. But then really, Judaism is just a belief system, and beliefs can and should  be criticized. Peoples should never be as this is a generalization, this is prejudging someone based on their appearance and is fallacious. As Christopher Hitchens once eloquently put it "Hate the religion, not the religious".

Then again to break apart the word, Islamaphobia. Firstly my dictionary thinks it is not a word, homophobia it has no problem with, racism either. But anyway.
Islamaphobia seems to allude to the fear of Islam. Homophobia is not really the fear of homosexuals. I doubt many straight people fear that a homosexual is going to take away their rights, homophobia is more a disgust that homophobes have at the idea of same-sex relations. I heard it best put as you aren't afraid, you're just an arsehole.
So maybe it is the similar kind of unfounded fear here of Islam as homophobes have of homosexuals, don't get me wrong there are definitely some people out there who have unfounded fear of Islam, and will simply prejudge any Muslim they see as a member of Isis/Suicide bomber or whatever their culture has taught them. This is wrong and should stop now.
The points however that Sam Harris and Bill Maher make are fair and do allow for maybe a founded fear of some Muslims. There is a larger percentage of Jews who decry Israel's war on Palestine over Muslims who decry ISIL, with two different Jewish groups against the state itself.

Onto Indonesia which was mentioned as a shining light in the Muslim world. Indonesia is not that great, especially if you are an Ahmadiyya (a branch of Islam)... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Ahmadis#Indonesia you also are in trouble if you question your faith; http://inewp.com/outrageous-indonesian-atheist-in-danger-because-of-blasphemy/
I think what Reza Aslan on the panel was trying to say has been said very well by Steven Weinberg; "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

So maybe that is it, reverse the percentage of Muslims that believe in death for apostasy, reverse the number of Muslim countries that are anti-Jewish, anti-homosexual and  then you can complain when people try and use reason to attack your faith and attrocities attributed to it. Affleck was right in one of the last things he said, you don't criticize the people, you criticize the acts, and that is all I believe I and others are doing.

Maybe a reverse-ISIL should form, that fights to end capital punishment in Muslim countries, that ends imprisonment for apostasy/homosexuality and expression of art, science and sexuality, you know fights for peace. Til then there is no such thing as Islamaphobia from people who know the numbers Sam Harris talked about, that is now probably a tens of millions of people thanks to the internet and the reach of Realtime with Bill Maher.

Update: Interesting article here similar to my own thoughts.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Response - Ten quick responses to atheist claims

Response to http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ten.quick.responses.to.atheist.claims/41439.htm (not going to link it as I don't want to give them the traffic :P )

I can't believe supposedly educated philosophers have used these arguments in an attempt to answer atheist questions, I guess it was christiantoday's writer Heather Tomlinson who did and not Prof Lennox, but Lennox is a believer so he probably would use these or similar. I am going to try and go through these quick as I have better things to do, movie with the kids tomorrow.

1) You don't believe in Zeus, Thor and all the other gods. I just go one god more than you, and reject the Christian God.

The first line in rejecting this is very facile, so what if Thor isn't compatible wit the bible, that doesn't nor ever could detract from its truth, if there was any.
The real point of this argument is that most Christians will claim that these Gods were made up with no reason why, usually due to someone has told them they are made up. If they have any level of skepticism that prevents them from believing in these gods they will not apply the same level of skepticism to their own God.
They quote Prof Lennox, who being a Christian would argue of course due to the complexity of the eternal nature of the Christian God he trumps the "simpler" story of the created Gods, this isn't an argument against a created God, it is just baseless assertion.

2) Science has explained everything, and it doesn't include God.
This is an argument from ignorance. Science can't (at present) explain ethics or beauty, therefore God is missing loads of steps.

Science explains the origins of the universe, religion gives people hope who don't have the intellectual fortitude to say they don't know.

3) Science is opposed to God.
I don't know if I have heard many people say this, there are religious scientists. Science follows naturalism, that there is a natural explanation for a phenomenon and then endeavors to find it, not once has this explanation been magical or supernatural... that doesn't mean it can't happen, but it isn't looking good.
There are issues with an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God of being logically valid. You can always argue the incoherent God is outside logic, but that is destroying any argument you could make as you are arguing against using the very logic you are using.

4) You can't prove that there is a God.
I agree with Lennox here, you can't "prove" it, in the mathematical definition. Of course I don't think you can do it in the reasonable doubt definition either. Some of the arguments Lennox uses here I have rebutted before, especially the WLC ones. The slighlty new ones are the argument from personal revelation (people have witnessed miracles), which is easily countered with people have seen Elvis since his death, probably as many non-Christians have seen miracles they attribute to their religion, and UFO witnesses: Witness testimony is at best biased and untrue and worst a complete mental fabrication knowing or unknowingly to make the person the center of a attention. This is best summed up with anecdote != evidence (that symbol in the middle means does not equal).
The other argument is from the Gospels, which for all we know where once considered a work of fiction or allegory, then there is the fact that they were witness testimony, not only written down near the event but in some parts of the bible almost a hundred years later.
So yeah you can't prove there is a God, and can't prove a negative, but the balance of probability doesn't favor one at this stage.

5) Faith is believing without any evidence.
Maybe Lennox doesn't know his bible;  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1.
Faith is not belief with evidence, we already have a word for that knowledge. Again quoting the Gospels that are of unknown authors and undefinitive veracity doesn't sway anyone. To quote Thomas Paine "
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture."

6) Faith is a delusion. I'd no more believe in God than I would in the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I don't think the people Lennox is talking about here are afraid of the light, these are the kind of people who would spend there entire life on an issue with a theory, and throw it out the window at the first strong sign of evidence to its contrary. I think most atheists I know would be intellectually honest enough to believe in God if he showed up and provided some proof, or if some decent evidence actually came to light.
I don't know if there are many Christians who would throw away their beliefs if they found them wanting, because they wouldn't be Christians long.
I know some atheists that wish a God did exist that answered prayers and actually had a plan for them, it isn't wish fulfillment if you don't have that wish.

7) Christianity claims to be true, but there loads of denominations and they all disagree with each other, so it must be false.
This is more to the point that you think that an omnipotent being could make a religion that would appeal to all, if God is so powerless that 10,000 religions to appeal to the 10,000 styles of worshiper rather than 1 that claims the monopoly on truth. The issue with the many denominations is many (see most) will claim that the others are wrong, and that the one you are currently in has the monopoly on truth and the other denominations believers are going to hell. They can't all be right with this monopolistic behavior, but they could all be wrong. Add these 10,000 denominations to the 15,000 other religions that have existed and you have an issue.

8) The Bible is immoral.
Morality has a basis in a secular world, it is built from society, it is built for social harmony and community cohesion. It is basically; least pain to the most people, see my other post here.
The bible is (based on the previous points) immoral, it encourages Genocide, OK's slavery and rape.

9) Surely you don't take the Bible literally?
I know people don't take the bible literally, it would be very hard to, no one stones their kids for back talk anymore. I think most atheists would realize that few people, but the most fundamentalists take it 100% literally. The question is, are they the ones that are being honest. How do you tell which parts to NOT take literally, how do you tell which parts aren't allegory or metaphor, if your only answer is what your pastor tells you then you are on shaky ground.
If you are a fundamentalist that takes it literally then the evidence is against you.

10) What is the evidence for God?Oh yes, please impart upon me something new from the last 2000 years of Theology and apologetics... Nothing new, just the same tired debunked arguments.  Hmm....

The question in this section is a valid one, if someone presented me real decent evidence for God and Jesus continued existence, then I think I'd be a bit terrified and want clarification... can I now get to heaven through good deeds or is it faith only or both, or am I predestined for hell as some faiths believe. I am guessing I would get none of these answers and I would have to just lead a good life and if God judges me well for that then he is just, if he doesn't then I would never have worshiped him/her.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Climate debate even among people accepting of the science

This happened a long time ago, much thawed ice has flown under the bridge of life, these people will likely still know who they are, as will others.

So a friend sent me this article; http://mindaberbeco.scienceblog.com/2012/09/18/118/ in relation to a mutual friend who is a bit of a climate pessimist. He is sure climate change is happening and is pretty sure we are fucked (to use his term). The friend who sent it is not a climate denialist, neither of them are. But they disagree on some things. I disagree with both of them on some things, this is what a healthy society is all about.

Lets call them Pessimist and because being a pessimist can be seen as derogatory and to even things up, lets call the other Stubborn. These two disagree on; http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-the-40-year-delay-between-cause-and-effect.html. Pessimist brought this up and Stubborn believed it was almost a form of denialism, refusing to even read the article.I believe his reasons are that the delay of 40 years is too great and that warming would show straight away.

I don’t think Pessimist is a climate denialist, have a look at the site and the article he cites; http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-the-40-year-delay-between-cause-and-effect.html For starters it is I believe the largest free online repository for climate science; it is pro climate change, each of its articles are peer reviewed and heavily cited. I know you have yet to read the article Pessimist cited, an article written by climate scientists, citing 6 other studies by climate scientists.

The article stubborn sent me claims that these pessimists are not researched and lazy in the area of climate change, and I would wager that from Pessimists source he is more educated in climate change than most, including myself. I also note that like a good scared blogger, Minda has not opened up the comments at the bottom for rational discussion, or dissent, the exact same behaviour that climate denial blogs do, can’t have any rational dissenting opinions as it would hurt their cause.

On a lighter note I posted the below to my facebook and didn’t get a quip from a climate denialist friend for once;

Thursday, 21 August 2014

God’s not dead…

I watched this movie so you won’t have to. I actually do like Kevin Sorbo, but he should have stuck to the other, more interesting myths..

"God is not dead. He is alive and working on a much less ambitious project."  -- graffito
Firstly to counter the title of this movie with an interesting point, God is not dead, you can’t be dead if you never existed… badum tsh.

Another one I find humorous is the Professor at one stage telling a student they get extra credit for not capitalizing the “G” in God, problem is it is a name so it has to be capitalized. Without the capital you would need to define which one of the thousands of gods humanity has dreamt up that you are talking about.

But on to the meaty rebuttal of this movie’s “arguments”, arguments like this one;

So 34minutes in before they finally get onto their arguments and over their story.

The first argument is weak seemingly on purpose. The protagonist (Josh) is only starting out in defending his faith, he has yet to do his Christian apologetic montage. Josh simply attempts to shift the burden of proof, no one can disprove god doesn't exist, see Hermoine's response above. He talks about God being on trial, but that has already been done, much better with the TV Movie God on trial.
Josh then goes on to attempt to fit the scripture to evidence to the scripture, basically cherry picking out parts that sound like they could mean the big bang; https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/the-texas-sharpshooter He then quotes Steven Weinberg description of what the big bang would have looked like, "in the beginning there was an explosion and in 3 minutes 98% of the matter that is or ever will be was produced". Funnily enough I can't find this quote verbatim, but that matter that Josh alludes to that was produced from energy was simply Hydrogen, which later formed Helium, and inside stars via stellar nucelosynthesis it formed heavier elements, something we can witness via stellar spectography, a technique over a hundred years old, so surprising that its recentness has been overlooked.

Josh then goes on to compare the previously held scientific belief of steady state, claiming science was wrong, while the bibles idea of a point of creation was correct... just off by billions of years and in its chronology, but regardless... This is further cherry picking, science adjusts its views based on what is observed, religious people attempt to fit the bible to science of the day. I am sure if there is enough evidence found for the multiverse some religious will claim this is where God lives. Sorry but you can't do that, either you make a prediction based on your belief and let your beliefs continued existence rest on if the prediction is found true, or you leave the discussion up to the adults.

2500 years bible right, science wrong. The bible also states that the earth is a flat circle,
 "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" - Isaiah 40:22 In this case the word circle (gh) in hebrew is used in Isaiah 29:3 for the troops to encircle the city. And Sphere (rwd) is used in Isaiah 22:18. So the common complaint that sphere and circle where not known to biblical authors is erroneous, either take the missed predictions with the successful ones or toss the the whole thing away.

38 minutes in; Wahoo we have the "Argument from design". I attacked this one recently here. Basically the counters revolve around either negative design (flaws in Gods perfect creation) which all creationists will counter with, the fall... which is rather convenient especially when some of these flaws define our existence, and other ones such as the wasted space must have existed pre-fall: Basically 99.99999% of the universe is not only unhospitable but downright hostile to life. All this space is described as being created in the bible, not post the fall.If you apply the argument from design to a designer you have an issue, how did something that is more powerful come to be? So it requires a William Lane Craig word game of the un-caused creator. But if you accept that then why not save a step and accept the un-caused universe?

Josh then goes on to state "nothing jumps into existing out of nothingness, atheists say except the universe". I have mentioned this before, but things do pop out of nothingness, virtual particles. That being said, no one is saying that the universe necessarily popped out nothing, the energy may have always existed, it could have been caused by some external event in the multiverse, we don't know, and until we have evidence we can't claim it was any of these or for that matter God.

Josh then goes on to state that the argument that god doesn't need a cause as Christians *believe* in an uncreated god. Well the universe doesn't care what you believe, the universe is despite of it, so far there has been no evidence of the supernatural, no evidence of a God, only evidence of natural causes, so which is more likely that a natural cause was the first cause, or that there was a supernatural cause? Josh then asks his smart sounding question "If the universe created you, then who created the universe". This can be turned around quite easily, if God created the universe, then who created God. If you want to say God is eternal then bite the bullet and admit the universe could be eternal, and admit that the universe being eternal is much less complicated.
The Professor and atheist then uses argument from authority to Stephen hawking argue for a godless universe beginning. This is a pretty weak argument, there are so many more points this professor of philosophy could have attacked, yep Hawking is an atheist, great. My atheism doesn't depend on authorities or celebrities being atheists, that sounds more like a religion. To counter this, would all Catholics abandon their faith if the Pope or another Catholic celebrities lack of faith were discovered, would all Chrisitians accept homosexuality if the Pastor they looked up to was caught with a gay masseuse? Obviously neither of these events has happened, so they either refuse to believe what has happened, dismiss it with magic (the devil had its way with them), or construct some other special pleading.
I don't do that, Anthony Flew was an atheist, maybe he did become a deist, so what, people are fallible. Dawkins could as he has said cash in and get the Templeton prize in his dotty old age, and that wouldn't sway my lack of belief one iota. The fact that you think it should shows how fragile you think reasoned belief is.

1h3min in "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing" - Hawking, grand design (this whole bit looks like it could have been taken from WLC's site).

Obviously here the authors of the movie are trying to make God the law giver, the fine tuner of these laws and constants. The problem with this is the universe could have been made a different way, could have been better. To imply that God needed to "fine tune" the universe for life to exist denies God's supposed omnipotence, if you have unlimited power you could ensure lifes creation in a universe that had no such fine tuning.

Josh then goes on to quote John Lennox, who claims there are three errors in that, of circular reasoning, the universe exists because it needed to exist, it therefore created itself. Uh no, not really. I think they are referring to Lennox's article here. Lennox a Christian, states his bias upfront, regardless I don't disregard someone outright necessarily due to their beliefs, I like writing by CS Lewis. Lennox here is right, the laws of physics are just laws to describe the action, the laws don't cause anything. They are just like the word Pool doesn't cause a pool, it just describes it to someone who knows English, but I don't think Hawking was saying that. He was saying because gravity follows the law, because it is predictable, because it is negative in energy, it could allow for a universe to come out of nothing. The quote is misunderstood and taken out of context.

Really here using John Lennox is Argument to authority, sure he is a Mathematician, Philosopher and a Christian apologist, so what, he can be wrong, as can and has Hawking and every other human who ever was.
Josh tries to counter his professor with a quote from one of Hawking's recent books, the grand design,  he says page5, obviously that is going to depend on the version, but here is a hint it is the first page of Chapter 1. Hawking says "philosophy is dead", in context I, an amateur philosopher agree with him, and I agree with Lawrence Krauss who expanded on this. The philosophy of science is dead (Lennox's chosen field). It is dead, as simply thinking about a scientific issue will not bring out an outcome that comports to reality. Krauss uses the apt example, you don't have computer science philosophers. Just as you shouldn't have chemistry, biology, quantum physics or cosmological philosophers, it makes no sense.
Philosophy has its place, the philosophy of things science can't yet explore, consciousness, thoughts, emotion, language, arts.... give it time.

1h7m Darwinists have been saying you don't need god. Darwin assumed lightning hit a stagnant pond. Life came from a simple beginning, but nature cannot jump, pre-Cambrian explosion.
Wow, OK there is no such thing as a Darwinist, I have said this before... But lets go, a Darwinist is someone who believes in the since massively refined Darwinian view of natural selection as a driving force behind speciation. There are a heap of people who accept evolution as I have described it and still believe in a God, people like the Pope and most of his clergy, various Muslim leaders (with the exception of human evolution of course), and people like Francis Collins (once head of the Human Genome project). In fact there is a famous saying "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution", which is the title of an essay from a devout Russian Orthodox Christian called Theodosius Dobzhansky.

Another Argument from design here... really, already repeating your arguments hey.
1h21m Josh starts this bit with the problem of evil, stating it is the atheists most potent weapon, OK. I'll bite, it is a good one. Not what convinced me, and actually some recent article I read suggested the shear enormity of the universe is a big convincing factor (source escapes me presently)."I can't believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be too simple, too local, too provincial. The earth, he came to the earth, one of the aspects of God came to the earth mind you, and look at what's out there. It isn't in proportion." - Richard Feynman

Lets quickly look at the good summation of the problem of evil from Epicurus
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Or the more recent one from Sam Harris
"Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn't care to, or he doesn't exist.
So God is either: impotent, evil or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

So this is the issue Josh has to contend with, how does he chose to do it? Free will, oh of course. So all the people killed every year of starvation through no fault of their own can simply will food to get to them, the people killed in earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, that's all either their sin or simply their own will? A good example I heard from Darkmatter2525, how about the victims free will, does God simply favour the murder or rapists free will over their victims?

Oh and then Josh goes to the ultimate special pleading "God tolerates evil temporarily, his intention is to one day destroy it." That's nice of him, why not now, what's he waiting for? It is kind of like seeing someone getting beaten while you hold in your hand a stun gun, do you wait till the victim is almost dead to step in, or do you start stunning the perpetrators left and right? If you wait, then you are a horrible human being. Josh then goes on to say the Professor doesn't believe in moral absolutes, yet at his exam in finals week, if he where to cheat he would be punished as though there is an absolute morality. God gives him a basis for morality, it is wrong to cheat, what basis does atheist have. No god there is no reason or standard morality, if God doesn't exist then everything is permissible. 

I love this argument, the good old argument from morality, I have attacked it here. Basically, humanity has determined morality through a long process of trial and error (mostly error unfortunately), if the bible is a basis for morality it is a bad one preaching genocide, slavery, rape and vengeance.
Atheists could actually be deemed more moral as they do things without expecting an afterlife treat, they do good for goodness sake.

Josh then tips his hand with the "life is meaningless" rhetoric. If your life is meaningless without an unjustified belief system this isn't an argument for that belief system, anymore than life is more fun when you shirk work and get drunk and party all the time being an argument for drunkenness.
Life is what you make it, if you suck at it don't lean on a crutch, make it better. If you are dealt a bad hand then hope others will help you, or simply be happy to be alive for a fleeting moment on this beautiful planet.

I love the closing bits where the professor all callous says;“I’m going to enjoy failing you”. Why would a professor state this. I am not a professor, but if I was I would shoot down all his arguments publicly, I would ensure his peers learnt from his logical errors, and yes I would still fail him.

Ah of course the old chestnut "do you hate God, why." Hehe, "Do you hate Zeus? Why?" Nope don't hate God, don't even hate believers, I don't even hate all religions. I hate magical thinking, I hate indoctrination and I hate the anti-science rhetroic. There is good some religions do, but mostly it is outweighed by the pompous preening and damage it has done to our society.
"Science supports gods existence", really. The aforementioned Templeton foundation has done their own studies into prayer, it has failed every time. Every time we have looked for the solution to a question that has plagued us it has been caused by a natural event, not once has the answer been supernatural, I would say that God being a supernatural entity is precluded by science.

Pascals wager

One last argument, this time not from Josh, but from the in-firmed mother, Pascal’s wager,  all-be-it with a poetic flair. Satan tempts us to stay in the cage, makes it comfortable even leaves the door open till it is too late and it slams shut.... OK so forget about the fact here that the devil is supposed to have rebelled against God yet still keeps his prison running, so what. Pascals wager has been destroyed loads of times. For those who don't know it, here it is;

Either God exists or he doesn't, if you believe in him and he does and you die then you are rewarded with an eternity in paradise. If you believe in him and he doesn't exist, then you have lost nothing. If you do not believe and he does exist, then you will be tormented for all eternity or at least miss out on this eternal bliss.

The issue of course with this is the God existence isn't binary, it isn't either yes or no, and it isn't 50% one way and the other. There have been around 10,000 Gods worshiped by humans thus far, as Bart said you could just make the real one madder and madder by worshiping the wrong one, of course it could be one we have yet to devise/receive word from, or it could be one who favours the use of our reason and only lets in ones that don't believe, or there could be no God.
It also doesn't take in the personal and societal cost of religion, Churches currently shirk billions in taxes, people pay tithes, and waste part of their free time.

Marcus Aurelius(possibly, a dubious source) answered Pascal before he was even born;
"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust,
then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

Finally the gem I have heard before, "The letter his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts." The old God works in mysterious ways, his thoughts are higher than ours, it'd be like an ant trying to comprehend us.

Sorry but no, if we were powerful enough to be able to communicate with an ant as god can communicate with us then we could make ourselves and our intent known to the ant, we could likely even get it on our side. This is a cop out, and beyond a weak argument it is horribly demeaning to your fellow human.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Argument from design

This is supposedly the most effective argument for belief in a God. I have seen it so many times, and I am now a believer... oh wait no I am not, so why doesn't it work on me and most other non-believers.

Anthony Flew (possibly, it could have been his ghostwriter) in his book claimed it is what convinced him to abandon atheism and switch to deism... not theism of course, as that is at best as far as you can get if you accept the argument from design, deism. Remember deism yeah, the belief that there is a God or gods but not one as imagined by humans, not one that performs miracles or intervenes in human affairs... also known as the absent deity syndrome :)

So to get to the argument, basically it states look at the *insert natural phenomena here*, usually something human centric. The complexity of the eye, the bacterial flagellum (not a sperm flagellum, as that is related to sex and there is one thing religion can't do and that is acknowledge the vulgar), the beauty of a flower or sunset, the perfect distance the Earth is from the Sun, the way the environment seems to fit together to just work, and the complexity of the human brain.

Of course all of these are amazing things, things we know more about due to science... not religion. The anthropic principle basically answers all of them, but it is long and dry. Douglas Adams said it best;
"Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there's plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that's a very dangerous thing to say."

Obviously in this story the earth is the hole and humanity the puddle, having evolved in the world that fits us rather well.

There are still arguments from negative design; a heart that has too few arteries to supply it with blood causing premature heart failure, the hearts construction is fine for marine animals. Similar for the placement of spine along the back for an upright walker and the lack of extra sets of teeth for an animal such as us that lives so long, not to mention the laryngeal nerve that I am sure you have heard of, that runs from brain to voicebox to allow all animals to control its muscles, except it makes a detour below the heart which is a lot longer than needed for humans, but think about the poor Girraffes where the detour is 18feet.
Creationists will quickly say these negatives are simply due to "the fall" when Adam and Eve where kicked out of the Garden, but none of the animals sinned as far as we know, so why where they punished? Why are some of the "punishments" a distinct part of our personality such as people who personality disorders, or other challenges. Why are some of these punishments impart an advantage, that would only surface in the modern era, such as colour blindness genes being associated with extra cones in their female parent. Why would some of the animals that cause this malady, that supposedly came after the fall not be able to exist prior to the fall (remember Adam named them all, so there is a problem here), why do some such as lice show evidence of evolution along side humans. Of course they can answer all of these with a wizard God did it.

The universe is really not designed for us, most of it is deadly to us, too close to a star, neutron star, black hole, or galactic core and you will die, the blackness of space at a whopping 2.7Kelvin or -270.45 degrees Celsius (-454.81F) even and this freezing temperature the pressure is so low your blood boils, not to mention trillions of wandering asteroids and planets the size of Jupiter ready to wipe us out.
But even if all these design flaws didn't exist then so what, it looks designed. Maybe we design things that look like nature because we are a part of it, we can't design anything to not look like nature as we have no experience with things that aren't part of nature.

"Complexity is not an indicator of design" - PZ Myers
Say a gravity Spirograph aka a pendulum Spirograph, sure there is a designer in the device, but the complex pattern that emerges, emerges due to natural laws. Similarly streams and rivers, no design but brilliant in their complexity. If all we have observed, and all we have evidence for so far is natural processes forming complex structures then no one has the right to invoke a creator.

The next argument from design, is a bit of a round about one, but our good friend William Lane Craig uses it without knowing. When he uses his version of the Kalam cosmological argument, he adds the universe has to have and uncaused cause, and that God is defined by Christianity as the uncaused cause, which I assume they take from "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." - John 1:3 or maybe the extremely dramatic "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." - Revelation 22:13. Neither of those preceding verses actually say uncaused cause, but lets grant it. Surely saying God is the eternal uncaused creator of the universe is much more complex than granting the universe as being an eternal uncaused creator of itself. Adding God into the picture adds a consciousness, adds unlimited knowledge and power to that consciousness, it increases complexity so immensely that it can be discarded till the God hypothesis gets that same immense level of evidence... we already have a fair bit of evidence for the universe existing, none for the supernatural other than anecdote and possibly power encouraged hearsay.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Catholicism and the paedophilia problem.

News came out this week that the Pope has said that the level of Paedophilia in the church is at 2%. I had an argument with a priest some years ago, where he said that the levels inside the Church are the same as outside, my counter to that was that the difference is offenders outside go to gaol (jail for any Americans reading).
Of course 2% seems higher than I would assume the general population is running at... I was wrong. Well it would seem so at face value. (credit to redditor US_Hiker) Part of that article is behind a paywall, but more can be seen here.
The gist of it, anywhere from 4-9%, sad that so much of the general populace have paedophilic tendencies, I am sure that not all of those act on it though, and the stats seem to play that out.

This leads me to think, was the Pope saying 2% of the churches ordained are currently under investigation? Was he saying that there is 2% he or the police know about... what about the rest?

This study seems to allude to their being a group of people who are strictly attracted to children: paedophiles, and another larger group that contains the aforementioned paedophiles, those that molest children without being primarily attracted to them... Then of course there are likely paedophiles who control their urges and don't act (good on them).
It is undoubtedly a part of sexuality, a part I and I would imagine the rest of society wishes could be excised. Sexuality though is a complicated beast, so it is a tough comparison to make the 2% the pope claims and the 4-9% that other studies claim. That or the Pope is lying...

Oh wait he is; http://atlanticcanada.legalexaminer.com/miscellaneous/myths-and-facts-about-the-catholic-sexual-abuse-crisis/ Interestingly it seems to be similar to the general populace, surely there is some doctrine inside the Catholic church against lying?

I feel it is apropos to post this video again to show the long standing problem the church has had with this issue. If I were the Pope I would suspend any priest accused, hand them over to police for trial, and if they are found guilty they would be defrocked, and excommunicated. But that is just me...

I have posted about this as before, in my talk I delivered to Sydney atheists, synopsis here

Monday, 14 July 2014

Warning this video may be laughable to your atheism...

Like all good theist videos and blog posts neither of these allow comments, what are they afraid of, some discussion? A dissenting opinion?
Blog post; http://rbutr.com/http://godsnotdeadthemovie.com/blog/atheists-hate-video/

I think I have attacked the good old Kalam a fair few times, but I wanted to do a direct rebuttal for rbutr.com, as the only way to comment on these posts so here goes.

Firstly, wow flashy video, maybe it will distract from the vacuos content?

Whatever begins to exist has a cause, noppppee. Even if it did, why don't we save a huge God labelled step and say the universe never began to exist? Believing that something popped into existence is actually less of a stretch than magic, as if it pops into existence you only need to explain the thing that popped into existence not the thing and the magician and the hat and the magic, that is if you don't grant that the magician did a trick, are you equating god here to a trick, ruse, or a lie, cause I would agree with you there. The addition of a magician and magic complicates things immensely as the addition of a God using his powers to create does the same thing.

Why don't we see this happening all the time... we do at the sub-atomic level, virtual particles, pickup a book.

Did the universe begin, or has it always existed. Atheists haven't been the only ones who have sponsored the universes eternal existence, so have believers, they were both wrong based on current evidence, where is that evidence for God again.. oh you have word games to define him into existence, sorry but that doesn't cut it. Yes Science was wrong at one stage, but science adjusts its views based on what is observed, religion doesn't.
The universe could have always existed as a continuous cycle of expansion and contraction, this doesn't violate the second law of thermodynamics that is so often stated, incorrectly. The law states that all things tend towards disorder in a closed system. As the universe is running out of usable energy, but a reversal and collapse of this resets entropy. The usable energy doesn't dissapear, we aren't running out of it, it is simply dissapates into the universe, if the entire universe is collpased back on itself it becomes usable again, there is no where for the energy to be lost too as there is nothing outside the universe for it to dissapate too.

There are other hypothesis' that get around this problem, such as the aforementioned virtual particles over a finite amount of time causing a singularity that then expands into a new universe of matter and energy, and negative energy (dark energy), the positive energy being countered by the negative dark energy, for a balanced checkbook universe with no net energy being created, the ultimate free lunch.

All the arguments beyond here use evidence from science, evidence that has not once pointed to a divine creator, not once pointed to a supernatural cause to even the most mundane of events, there are no angels moving the planets in their orbits, there are no spirits guiding water down hill, and there is no God supported by modern evidence.

They then go on to quote mine Physicists, all of whom agree this universe had a beginning, but this universe could have formed out of the collapse of the last one, or be just another bubble in the multi-verse, we don't know, and we are OK with not knowing, the only way to find out the truth is to start with no knowing and go from there. Supposing the answer (God) before you investigate colours your view and will ensure bad conclussions.

The Universe has a cause?
If I grant the first two premises, which I am not, then it is a huge jump to that cause being an omnipotent, omnipresent entity. Why couldn't it be some stupid long dead being that had an accident with their super-collider causing this universe, after they had evolved naturally in their own universe.
Why couldn't it be a natural cause such as the multiverse theory of two other universes colliding? Which of these is more likely, the natural cause when all other events we have observed (save the virtual particles I mentioned) have had a natural cause, or a supernatural cause that we have never observed, let alone in a repeatable scientific test?

The universe can't cause itself, really? Where is your evidence for this statement, we know that virtual particles can, in certain situations cause themselves, so why couldn't the universe cause itself based on natural laws?
It must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, Uncaused and powerful...The universe or multiverse could certainly be timeless, on the others though, were is your proof, even a logical one. This is jumping to your preconcieved conclussion.

Thanks for playing, better luck next time...

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Peter Boghossian’s Manual for creating atheists

Let me start by saying, Peter is an excellent writer. His style of having a further reading section at the end of the chapters is brilliant for expanding on concepts, he knows his stuff when it comes to the philosophy of knowledge (epistemology) and his writing is direct and to the point. You know there is a but coming, of course there is, otherwise I wouldn’t have posted this.

I don’t agree with the need for taking epistemological interventions (seems like a high-brow way of saying attempting to beat common sense into the senseless) to people, uninvited. If they are preaching on a street corner then the invite is implied, if they are telling people they are damned to hell then the invite is emblazoned in fiery letters 50ft high. I am talking from experience here; I have performed my own fair share of as Peter likes to call them “epistemological interventions”. Actually as I write this I sit on a plane having spent the last hour attempting to disabuse the girl next to me of her obsession with naturopathy, and raw-whole foods, as well as attempting to convince her no cure for cancer is being suppressed by pharmaceutical companies (which cancer I asked, likening cancer to a bacteria of which there are millions of species), and that there isn’t a conspiracy by Phillip-Morris in owning a medical company that produces chemotherapy medicine, this is the way big business works buying other businesses to make money.

I have also debated theists, even creationists (although I think I did poorly, I should have tried a bit of Peter’s disabusing them of faith, rather than fighting the science of which I am not qualified but passionate) and debated street preachers with Brisbane atheists. I really enjoy it, and as the theists do, I care for my fellow human being, and hate to see them wasting their brain cells on magical thinking.

I just don’t think you can go to someone and question their faith or ridiculous beliefs uninvited. The girl that now sits next to me reading her “Crazy Sexy Diet” book (something that needs a thorough debunking), has several times stopped reading to ask my opinion on something she has thought off or just read, I have given it honestly and there has been a little banter back and forth. I like to think I have raised her mind to the idea that some of it may not be true, that she should question it.

Maybe I am misunderstanding Peter, but it seems to me he is suggesting we should actively intrude; this is something I am heavily against. I don’t care what people believe in the privacy of their own homes or heads, I am even fairly sure I am OK with them having the freedom to teach their children their beliefs. But I think their children should be exposed to the same schooling as others and part of that should include critical inquiry. I also agree with Peter that perhaps belief in the supernatural via religion should be treated as a mental disorder, though this one would be hard to pass and makes me uneasy that it could be cause to put well-meaning people in care just because of their personal beliefs.

I also don’t agree there is no epistemological relativism, the belief that there isn’t necessarily one bet way to come to truth. I believe that knowledge could in fact be relative, there may be many ways of arriving at a truth, and not all truths are equal. But this may be an argument in terms.
Sure science is the best way to truth right now, but as others have said science could discover a new method of reasoning and discovering things that is faster and more accurate, but the scientific method will be the only way to evaluate this and the only way to come to a conclusion that this new as yet unknown method (if it even exists) is better. There is likely an ultimate truth, but it can be tuned so much that it does become relative. Eg I am typing this on a laptop. But a laptop by who’s definition. Am I really typing it, as my fingers at the sub-atomic level aren’t actually coming into contact with the atoms of the keys, it is merely the electromagnetic repulsion that makes me feel like I am touching the keys, this fine tuning could conceivably go on for a long time so that one may say I am not typing based on their definitions, while one may say I am typing based on theirs.

If you can’t tell from that last waffle, I have also been reading and writing a bit of philosophy myself lately.

I think he also went down the route of moral absolutism as well, but I have been reading multiple books at the same time so this may not have been him. I don’t agree with Moral absolutism, and I have argued against it partially here but will flesh out this position later. It can be summed up as AC Grayling has rather aptly done, what morals exist to a man alone on a deserted island, surely they are different than a man in society. I like to use other species to further illustrate this; it is wrong for humans to rape, sane people will agree on this. But what if it is the only way to further the species, as in the case of the deep-sea angler fish, where the tiny male will force himself upon the female to ensure his continued lineage? Where is the absolute morality in those situations? 

Some may argue it comes back to Peter Singers doing the least harm argument, or my childhood ideology of creating the most amount of pleasure,  but this is problematic. The male angler dies in the process, he also burrows into the female, presumably causing her pain. So the least harm/most pleasure would actually possibly be for the species to cease procreation, and thus cease to be. The same could be said for a particularly ravenous, over-populating, polluting species of the Great apes that we have a bit of a bias for.

Overall though, I thought it was a damned good book. I did contact Peter about one of his references as I had some questions, he passed me onto a Steven. The reference was to do with a Viking societies collapse in Greenland due to starvation due to not eating shellfish(1). Something I found interesting as I know a few people who love their Vikings enough to call their children Viking names, have a home with authentic Viking fire pit in the middle and even cry out Thor’s name in a thunderstorm as a sign of worship, I have never known one of them to turn down shellfish. I also thought it could be an interesting cross-pollination of dietary restrictions from Jewish culture, an interesting study in memetics. 

Steven cited Jared Diamonds book “Collapse”, but this doesn’t seem right as Diamond was talking about the Nordes in Greenland having an aversion to eating fish(2), not shellfish. Besides it was only an aversion, not a religious restriction. Hence why they didn’t simply die out straight away(3), it instead took almost half a millennia. There is also some recent (circa January 2013)(4) that shows that it may have just simply been too harsh and isolating, and that the society didn’t collapse as such, but just left.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Ray Comfort

If you don't know who Ray is, I will spare you a link to his videos. But he is known colloquially as Bananaman, and here is the humorous video that was done when he won the 2009 Crockoduck award, really I'd rather give traffic to the excellent Potholer54 than living waters, or whatever Money making scheme Ray has dreamt up.

So Ray, has a line he uses a lot in his videos and "debates", I say debates as he doesn't really debate, just soapboxes and proselytises, he is good "fun". You would think he is a comedy act if you didn't know it was for real.
Anyway here is his general line of argument, with Ray in bold, and the unwitting respondent following on.

Have you ever said a lie? Yes.
have you ever stolen anything
? Yes.
Have you ever taken the lords name in vain?
Have you ever looked at a woman/man with lust? Yes
So, Jesus says if you look at a woman with lust, then you have committed adultery in your heart.
By your own omission you are a Lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterers at heart. If God judges you by the standards of the ten commandments where are you going, heaven or hell? Hell/Don't think God would send his loving children to hell (followed by then you think Hitler is in heaven*)
How are you going to escape the damnation of hell? Don't know 
Because you know the bible says the wages of sin is death. But there is a way out, God gave his only son for your sin, so you have to accept Jesus into your life and confess your sin, then you can have everlasting life.


I am always surprised that this gives people even the supposed Atheists on his videos a moment where they seem to pause and reflect on it, almost deciding well hey I may as well believe just in case hey... or the old "I have to get right with my faith" line. It is Pascals wager, badly disguised in a long form to baffle people.

I have written the below to counter it;

Have you ever stolen from someone you are not at war with? Yes
Have you ever been a coward? Yes
Have you ever Betrayed anyone? Yes

Then by your own omission you are a thieving, cowardly, betrayer. And by those standards, Woden would send you to Heck to be tormented. So where do you think you are going? (don't wait for an answer, think what would Ray do... beyond creative editing aka lying)
But there is hope, if you trust in Thor who petitioned Woden on man kinds behalf, if you fight with bravery and honour, and die in a battle while upholding these standards then you will not enter Heck, the Valkyries will rescue you to Valhalla to drink mead with Woden for all eternity.

Obviously few believe this now, and even if they do I see very few Nordes marching off to a Just war (is there any such thing now-a-days?). It is a perfect refutation of Ray's dumbed down Pascals wager, but he will never hear it, or respond with... "oh but how many people actually believe in Woden or Thor", an Argument ad Populum, a logical fallacy, Woden and Thor are just as likely to be True (if not a little more so as their claim is less than omnipotence) than Yahweh and Jesus.

*The counter to is Hitler in heaven is an easy one... How many people did Hitler kill, in the order of tens of millions right, do you think even killing tens of millions deserves an eternal torment and torture... if so then you are lacking in empathy as I doubt any person could sentence even the worst person to an unjust amount of torture for their crimes, let the crime fit the punishment, eternal can never fit a crime carried out in a limited time such as a human lifetime.

This was just a quick post, I am working on a couple big ones at the moment, a takedown of the some (hehe) Catholic apologetics, and a skeptics annotated catechism, and a full on book (I have written way to much and self-editing is hard)... So yeah posts may be a little sporadic.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Rebuttal to reasons atheism is stupid

Sometimes I read an article and get incensed enough I have to write a reply, the below did that for me, don't worry they are the same arguments you have heard for years; http://thereforegodexists.com/2013/11/5-reasons-atheism-stupid-2/

Lets start with the opening, yes the bible says the fool has said in his heart there is no God... it also said; "anyone who claims another is a fool is in danger of hell fire" Matthew 5:22. So I guess that writer of Psalms and this writer are going to hell if it exists.
I shouldn't need to point out that an insult is the lowest form of attack, a simple ad hominem attack, with no merit. I agree that ideas need to be challenged and they can be insulted, but if you ever complain about someone calling your beliefs stupid then you have no right to put that label on someone Else's lack of belief... even if your beliefs include a talking snake, a talking donkey or a being who sent them self to earth to atone for their creations sin that offended itself, to appease itself so it wouldn't send its creation to a hell it created or allowed to be created... If we are going to go on stupid, surely buying the story of a virgin birth is stupid, surely buying the water into wine, walking on water, and the posthumous empty promise of punishment or reward is right up there with the stupidest things mankind has ever believed. But I digress, lets get into it.

1 - The existence of the universe.

Yes the universe exists, wow that must be proof of God... uh no, it would clearly be better evidence for the existence of God if we humans existed in a space that was not a universe, say a floating realm where all our need where met...

The analogy here with the ball is silly, we have explanations for how balls come into existence from existing matter, as do we for planets, stars, galaxies and the entire visible universe, they are all natural explanations. Sure the explanation for the initial conditions the singularity are not yet known, but it is more honest to start with "I don't know" and search for an answer than to start with "Magic pixies started the universe off" and then only look at things that confirm your assumption.

Therefore God is as likely to exist as universe creating pixies.

2 - The Big bang.

The universe contracting back and forth forever isn't quite settled, some evidence is pointing to that it may in fact be part of a multiverse. Regardless if all of this fails to bring sufficient evidence, you can't say "I don't know"..."therefore God", as this will put your God in the ever receding pocket of ignorance that its forebears occupied, ignorance such as Thor being responsible for lightning (sorry Thor, you are totally the reason for lightning), a giant wolf eating the sun during eclipses, and the earth being held aloft by a giant tree.

Atheists I know are happy with whichever way the evidence points, atheists like Bill Nye and Matt Dillahunty have both said all it would take to convince them that their position on God/s is wrong is evidence, theists like Ken Ham just said nothing could convince him his position is wrong, which is more intellectually honest.

So again to take your argument and give it undue merit, lets say the universe had a definite beginning 13.8billion years ago, not the 6-10,000 that creationists argue, not the length of time humans have been around as a literal interpretation of the bible suggests, but 13.8billion years ago. OK, so what, it doesn't have to have a supernatural cause, everything so far observed has had a natural cause why should this be any different. There are plenty of possible causes from quantum mechanics to the bounce theory of universe inflation deflation, all of them infinitely more likely than a timeless, spaceless pixie... sorry God.

Therefore God is as likely to exist as universe creating pixies, which are both a lot less likely than natural causes we have observed.
3 - The design of the universe.

There is a bit of an argument to authority here, just because one previously atheist cosmologist now believes in God, doesn’t mean there is any evidence in modern physics or cosmology to point to God. In fact to counter your argument to authority with an argument ad populum (argument to numbers), 70% of the USA’s national institute of science, doesn’t believe in a personal God, Hawking has said God is un-needed and Victor Stenger has written a very good book debunking these cosmological constants need to be just perfect for life to exist. The truth is we just don’t know, life could actually be more likely in a universe with different constants, or it could be worse, we don’t have another universe accessible to us with these different constants in place in which to test your hypothesis that life is only viable in universe with constants with these particular values.

No one is suggesting that life came about by chance, no biologist or physicist I have ever spoken to is that na├»ve. Natural selection seems to be a driving force for biological life. The constants being the way they are may not be chance, they may not be able to be any different. There is a principle called the anthropic principal, which basically states that the universe is capable of supporting life because we are here to observe it, eg I have seen these arguments before, because I tend to read websites with these arguments. It would be more amazing and confounding if we existed in world incapable of supporting life, or if everywhere was capable I mean the 99.999% of the universe that is extremely hostile to us the vacuum of space, the radiation… if all that was not there and the entire universe was habitable then your argument would hold more water, at present it is weak.

My favourite quote on this is from Douglas Adams;

“Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in -  an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.”

The universe doesn’t appear at all designed for us, surely if it were designed for us the entirety of space would contain breathable air, no deadly radiation. It is as likely for a God to exist that created the universe like this as it is for a tornado to whip through a scrap yard and build a 1979 Valiant charger.

4 – The design of mankind.

We don’t know what the first life was, just like a lot of first things they aren’t around anymore. The other issues is microscopic weak early cells don’t fossilise or leave much of a trace. Darwin was likely right, the first life was likely simple, probably not even DNA at all, but RNA like viruses that contain half the information that DNA does. I am no biologist, but they are currently looking at non-biological replication, such as rusts and the like that are leading us to some interesting conclusions. Again why does life have to start with a supernatural cause, when every other thing we have witnessed gets started with a natural cause.

Yes Dawkins is right a single DNA molecule has a lot of information, but he didn’t suggest that just popped into existence one day, that is the theists claim. He proposes as do a whole swath of scientists investigating abiogenesis that life took millennia to form even the simplest of single celled bacteria. DNA is not data, or code or a message. It is just chemistry writ large, it only has a code that we have assigned to it, a message due to the way we or amino acids interpret it. Therefore DNA didn’t require a mind, just as chemistry doesn’t, therefore God doesn’t need to exists.

5 – The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Which historians have come to a consensus that Jesus even existed. A consensus means all the historians agree, this is simply false; there are plenty as listed below;

These all have their own cases, the Nazareth bit of the name is supposedly a town, that didn’t exist till well after Jesus’ death, the time line in the gospels is wrong, the story inconsistent between the gospels, as well as known forgeries and additions, look up “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” for some fun, a section that there is almost consensus on it being a forgery. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

Saying that the willingness to die for ones beliefs validates them is also wrong, the suicide bombers the world over are willing to die for their beliefs, the Romans fought and died for their Gods as did the Greeks, Egyptians and others.

Again an argument to authority here, a historian can’t explain the rise of the popularity of Christianity unless Jesus rose from the dead… I can’t explain the rise in the popularity and wealth of the Mormon church unless Joseph Smith did get those golden plates and speak to the angel Moroni, I can’t explain the rise of Islam so quickly across the middle east unless Mohammed did speak to the angel Gabriel. These are erroneous arguments, the popularity of an idea even the quick rise in popularity does not lend any credence to the claim.

Not all of the previously mentioned claims of religions can be true, but they can all be wrong.

The best idea is to way the existing evidence for a claim with the logical possibilities or impossibilities of that claim, say if I claim I have a mobile phone. It is not that impossible a claim so you may accept it out of hand, say I am God and you can see the logical impossibilities in this statement (why do I bother working, why aren't I killing the first born of Egypt etc), and you can also weigh this with the fact I have given no evidence of my God-like abilities and you can dismiss my claim. This is all that an atheist does with religions.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Why Frozen and Brave maybe the most important films of our time.

Sorry spoilers ahead.

Frozen has be lauded as a phenomenal piece of work by Disney for reasons of Feminism and LGBTI rights. Not only does she not get saved by prince charming, no-one does. Like the other excellent work by Disney; Brave the women save themselves. Damn straight they save themselves, they are tough and worthy of praise. But that is not the only reason why it is the most important film of our time, after-all princess Fiona in Shrek (although not Disney at the time) saved herself a few times, and taught kids it was OK to be different.
Disney, whether you like it or not. Informs and changes the world with the next generation. It does reflect somewhat the current times, but in these two pieces it goes further, to tell little girls and boys out there watching it that they don’t need to depend on someone else to save or complete them. It tells everyone that the way they are born should be accepted, and that following convention doesn’t always lead to the best result.

Anna’s love saves Elsa and vice versa in Frozen, there is no prince charming here to save them. The Queen in Brave saves everyone, and defeats the undefeatable bear Mor'du, while her daughter manages to fix the mistake she made in tricking her mother, I also love the scene where she shoots for her own hand in marriage, yes I knew what was going to happen but it was played out brilliantly.  Princess Anna and Princess Merida aren’t always perfect princesses; they have their moments of just being a person, messy hair in the morning, dirty dresses and feet on seats. But they can still be ladies, still be strong, brave and confident and still very caring and loving. They don’t even have to have a man to be the leader of a nation as all these heroines prove, they get stuff done themselves, gone are the sleeping/locked-up princesses of yore that needed a man to save them.

Then there is the LGBTI angle at least on Frozen, I did notice the sauna scene, but thought it was a son... how heteronormative of me. The song is the bit that first got me, so I looked it up, seems I was right there are other people thinking it is one big coming out anthem. Another big tick for this movie; acceptance and strength of conviction.

I want to address some of the criticisms in the articles I cited. Yes the princesses in both Brave and Frozen are "pretty", I don't think that is so bad, so are 99% of female and male leads, we are used to it. We already have the story I mentioned before of Shrek and the inner beauty which is shown in that. But regardless they are supposed to be princesses, and yet they all show their human traits of being less than attractive at several points throughout the films.

The sun is definitely rising on acceptance for whoever you are, a world empowered to the point were coming out doesn't need to happen anymore as no ones orientation will be assumed, a world were little girls and boys and everything in between are happy to be who they are.

So all the kids out there that see these films the hundred or so times as they are likely to see it will grow a little bit stronger and more confident. This film will have repercussions in 20 years’ time that will see new prosperity and it makes me immensely happy, needless to say they will be on high rotation for my kids once Disney releases them on DVD. Till then Fiona has bought the "Let It Go" song By Idina Menzel on Google play, and I plan to buy the whole soundtrack once I find it.
That does bring me to a question I wanted to ask, which version of "Let It Go" is better, the one by Idina Menzel or the one by Demi Lovato, my opinion is the first... and I have played it a few times today to confirm that :)