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God Can Defend Himself January 28, 2010

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I read a lot of opinions and thoughts in the various blogs and forums that I frequent. I just picked up on the idea that God, if real, can certainly defend himself against any kind of opposition in the world. Seriously, if he is all powerful, the last thing he needs is a pack of apologists running around trying to defend him against those who don’t believe. I mean how much harm can I possibly do as an outspoken atheist? I don’t really have any original thoughts on atheism. I’m just regurgitating much of what I have heard, felt, or been exposed to.

The pettiness of humans and their thoughts about God points out how ridiculous it would be to imagine that a real god needs to be defended by his followers. Maybe to God, an atheist is just like a little baby who isn’t getting his way, and is throwing a temper tantrum. If that is true, then surely it doesn’t help to have believers rally to God’s aid, verbally vomiting their beliefs across the bow of the blasphemous in an attempt to look good in Gods eyes. What a sad picture that brings up.

I am an atheist. God is not real. God cannot possibly hurt me because he is an imaginary invention of human beings who have a strong need to believe that there is some divine meaning to our existence. God is an idea, and it’s not a particularly good idea either. There is literally nothing good that a believer can do that a non-believer cannot also do. No god is necessary to be a decent member of the society one lives in. God, if he were actually real, probably gets a great chuckle out of people like me, down here acting like I know what’s going on. Like a father who laughs at the first act of defiance from his young child!

Trust me, God needs no help from his faithful flock of followers. An insignificant little infidel like me is not going to make one single bit of difference in Gods plans. In fact, I will go wholly and completely unnoticed by God.

Finding God January 25, 2010

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If one cannot find God on their own, then surely there is no God.

The Irony of Intelligent Design January 17, 2010

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I was watching some videos recently where an evolutionary biologist, and a doctor were discussing “intelligent design”. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the human body is often described as “designed”, or as “a machine.” This tends to subconsciously create the idea that there is a specific intent in the current human design, as though it has a blue print. Machines have blue prints, humans, not so much. We have a genome, and unless both doctors in the video are wrong, the genome is not a blue print, simply because there isn’t a single blue print. And also because there is no such thing as a “normal” genome that each human follows.

The other idea that they touched on rather eloquently, was the fact that human mammals have flaws, that when taken at face value, would frankly be sent back to the manufacturer as defective – had they been designed and created according to some accurate blue print. When intelligent design proponents talk about the human eye, and claim that it must have had a designer, they fail to completely understand the useful mechanics of translating light into an image, such as with a camera, and how the human eye has multiple failures in comparison. For example, the human eye has a blind spot. This blind spot has a cause, which points to a flaw in its design, when compared to a camera lens for example, or when compared to other animals without a similar flaw.

Another problem mentioned in the video was back pain, as a result of walking upright and not having a properly evolved backbone to sustain such a posture for our entire lifespan. There are plenty of other areas where the human body is clearly lacking when compared firstly to other animals, and then compared to actual machines, where design and manufacture by blueprint is a standard that the recipient of the machine has every right to demand be correct!

The irony is that a simple understanding of the fragile human body, with its strengths, weaknesses, beauty, ugliness, and obvious shortcomings in many unfortunate cases, is that any god that is capable of creating a universe and everything in it, should be held accountable for the poor design and workmanship evident in humans. If God designed humans, then perhaps we need some sort of return policy, trade-in policy, or better yet, a replacement policy when things don’t turn out right for us individually with respect to our “perfectly designed” bodies.

Disclaimer: I am not an evolutionary biologist, nor am I a doctor, so the above blog represents my opinion only. When it comes to claiming that some god designed me, as a human, I don’t need to be an expert to see the poor design, feel the back pain, go get glasses to adjust my failing eyesight, or see the evidence of diseases, infections, and birth-defects that this “perfectly deigned” god supposedly created. I am living proof that humans are a direct result of evolution, just like all life on our lonely planet.

Is Earth a Perfect World? January 16, 2010

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I think that most people would answer no, earth is not a perfect world. But I also know that there are those who believe that earth was created intentionally, by God, for humans to dominate and call their home until they die and go to heaven. Those people would have a difficult time claiming that earth is not perfect, because it would be admitting that God did not create it perfectly. They tend to blame the bad things on humans. For example, someone tried to tell me that the world was perfect, until God flooded the entire planet in order to kill all of the sinning humans and start fresh. That flood is what triggered things like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and mudslides. You know, the tragic events of nature that sometimes manage to kill thousands of humans and animals in their wake. Thank God for that.

The recent earthquake in Haiti is an example of what humans see as natural events that we cannot control. Those events are sometimes very tragic, as we can see by the death toll in Haiti, so far. But again, many humans believe that God made a perfect world for us, so they need to have an answer to the question about why God would create such a world where humans, Gods children, are put in harms way on a fairly regular basis. There are even some who believe that those killed in such tragedies were taken by God to a better world. And not to be left out, there are also those who think that God chose to wipe out a certain batch of humans because they are not worshiping him properly, or they are somehow displeasing to God. Despite these various explanations of Gods perfect earth, I can say that earth is amazing.

But I say that without knowing much about the possible planets out there that could be even more amazing. So far, we can only guess that planets that can sustain life such as ours are extremely rare. But we don’t really know what lies beyond our guesses. We are just now discovering things at the deepest levels of earths oceans! Humans are usually in awe of natures beauty here on earth. Even more beautiful, at least to some, are the vast reaches of space with nebulae, galaxies, stars and darkness beyond imagination. And here, among the vastness of the universe, we live on this amazing little planet.

To be sure, I believe we are guests, and lucky ones at that. We are each lucky to have been born at all. How many human eggs are dispatched without being fertilized? And yet, over 6 billion of them managed to be fertilized and be alive at this point in human history. Still, humans are a biological rarity. And we are guests on this amazing planet because we don’t really live that long.

No, the earth is not perfect, but we all know that. If God created the earth, as humans we would never be able to comprehend his definition of perfection on such a scale. We cannot reconcile our beliefs in an almighty god with what we must live through on this planet. It is impossible for humans to enter the mind of God and completely understand its intentions when it comes to the planet we live on. In fact, we can drop God altogether, and notice that the earth we live on is evolving and changing exactly as it would if there were no god behind its design.

Earth is not perfect. Earth is our one and only home, and it has amazing beauty, and devastating natural disasters. After all, it’s just a rock, circling a sun, invisible to everything in the universe but us.

Religion, Science, and Conflation January 10, 2010

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As a new blogger, and as one who takes great interest in science and its contributions to human knowledge, I felt it was time to address the topic of what I perceive to be a serious problem. Namely, the conflation of topics, theories, and fields of study related to what we have learned, using the scientific method, about our universe, and our planet and its life. What exactly is going on? Well, for one thing, when one attacks a scientific theory because it conflicts with their religious beliefs, it seems they will stop at nothing to confuse and conflate the theory with a series of arguments that really have nothing to do with the theory they are attacking.

For example, the theory of evolution. This theory is an attempt to discover and understand how life forms have, and continue to, evolve over time. From the earliest evidence of life, up to the current range of life including plants and animals. The theory of evolution does not give an account of how life on planet earth got started. Since there is evidence that the planet was once devoid of life forms, the assumption is that life “somehow” got started. Given that evolution does not attempt to answer the specific question regarding how life got started, then using that fact against the theory is, to put it plainly, pointless. To be sure, there are scientists spending plenty of their valuable time and effort on abiogenesis, the study of how life on our planet first got started.

Regardless of how life got started, it is evolving. There is little doubt or disagreement about this. There is certainly plenty of disagreement about the ToE among outspoken believers that life was placed here by a god. But it is quite clear that it stands today as the only scientific explanation over the evolution of life on earth. To claim that it is not is nothing more than admitting ignorance of the theory, misunderstanding what the theory is telling us, or outright refusal to accept it, usually on religious grounds. If there exists any scientist out there with a genuine study that refutes the ToE to the extent that it no longer stands, they have yet to come forward and prove it.

Another example of conflation between science and religion is the idea that science is atheistic. Hogwash. There are many scientists who have done great work, who are Christians. There is no conspiracy between science and religion. There is no group of atheist scientists trying to shut down religion. There are no atheistic scientific theories. To put it clearly, science is how we discover how the world works. Religion, on the other hand, is how we used to explain how the world works. Before science came along, people relied on religious leaders to explain things. Science has been attacked ever since.

To conflate issues between science and religion, is to deliberately mislead and confuse people with incorrect information. While it is always ones right to reject science, it is hardly appropriate to claim a better answer than we have through science in favor of a religious answer, especially when you don’t have evidence to support it. If you think you have a better answer to a scientific theory, you have every right to present your evidence, using the proper scientific method. You are also quite obligated to understand the theory, why it is important, and what the theory actually means. Anything less will get you the ridicule and derision you deserve. There are far too many honest, hard working scientists around the world to have to stoop to a level of ignorance that keeps them from doing good work that actually helps humanity!

God’s Moral Standards January 10, 2010

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The idea that God (from The Bible) instilled the moral standards into the human design, seems absurd to me. Of course, as an atheist, I don’t believe God is real, so I would first need proof of God before I started accepting any other assertions about Him. But let’s imagine that God did instill human morals as part of the design of humans. What exactly are those moral standards?

That is what I really would like to know. Is there a list of them? Is it the ten commandments from the Old Testament? Is it based on a full reading and understanding of the entire Bible? Where are these morals, and do all Christians agree with them? To claim that there is a god that designed and created humans, and instilled those humans with a set of morals is one thing, but to look across the spectrum of societies, tribes, cultures, races, and geographies, is it not clear that there is no standard that we all seem to be following? Would a person who died in the burning and crumbling World Trade Center tower on September 11th agree that those who took control of the airplanes and flew them into the buildings like missiles were operating on a god instilled, or god inspired set of morals? Somehow, I doubt it. And I doubt even more that the more than six billion humans currently alive will ever agree on a set of morals. They can’t even agree on a god!

I have my own opinion on how people come to think that human morals must have come from God. It is mostly because we are told this by religious leaders. But it also comes from a real lack of knowledge about what The Bible says. It comes from listening to your church leader, instead of reading for yourself. It comes from interpreting The Bible in a way that pleases you, as opposed to reading it at face value. There may be some good morals sprinkled throughout The Bible. But as sure as there is still no proof that any god is real, there are also some extremely violent and highly immoral passages in The Bible. And if you read closely, some of the worst genocides, rapes, slavery, and child killings are ordered by yours truly, God.

So let’s hear it Christians, what are the absolute morals instilled by God? I think in this case, the list should most definitely be exhaustive and clear. I’ll wait…

Nobody Has All The Answers January 5, 2010

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I don’t know how else to say it. Humans are amazing creatures, and we have collectively done some amazing things throughout history. But we are far short of having all of the answers about anything – there is just no way to claim any other position on this, as far as I can tell. Science has done a great job in discovering many things about our world from the most microscopic, to the farthest reaches of space. But, it is clear we have a lot more to discover. In fact, we will likely go extinct as a species before we discover it all!

But there are also questions that are more philosophical, as opposed to scientific. For those questions, humans tend to follow the ideas and answers that suit them best. There are potentially as many unique philosophies as there are humans! But even the big philosophical questions, like “why are we here” or “what is the meaning of life”, are far from solved. Those questions, and many more like them, are not scientific questions. They are, by their nature, anyone’s guess. And so it is with gods and religions, I think.

I blog about religion and gods. I made a conscious decision to wait for real evidence and proof of a god before simply accepting it. As for everything else that I accept or believe, I’m no different than anyone. If I read about a scientific discovery, I choose whether to accept it based on the evidence and whether it makes sense to me. Sometimes, I have no idea how I can come to a conclusion, simply because I am ignorant on the details required to truly understand it. I can still choose to accept it, but I don’t have to, nor do I always accept what science discovers.

We can no more answer the god question with science than any other questions like why we are here, or what is our purpose. Gods leave nothing empirical, measurable, touchable, or repeatable for us to use the scientific method to discover. Gods have come and gone from human history with such variety and frequency, that we are only left with their remains after the societies that followed them are long gone, or they are replaced by a new god. Even in modern times, the fact that billions of people, adhering to their god beliefs with fierce devotion and commitment, cannot answer the question, “Is there a god”? So far, no one gets to claim that answer as solved, no matter what they believe.

There are no truths espoused by any particular group of humans that we can all agree on. While that makes none of them true or false, it also makes all of them true or false, which means nothing. No one has all of the answers. Period.

Is Atheism Dangerous? January 5, 2010

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It has certainly been described by some groups of people as dangerous. Just google the term and read all of the hatred. Then follow that with a google on “most hated groups.” The very first item in the list at the moment I write this is a list of the most hated groups, with atheists at the top (39.6%). So, there you have it, atheists must be dangerous. But hold on just a minute…

I am an atheist. I don’t believe that there have ever been any real gods in the history of our world or universe. I think this way because there is literally nothing that suggests to me that a god is at the helm. And I am not even remotely dangerous. In fact, I don’t know a single person who is seriously mean or dangerous. Sure they are out there, but whether they believe in a god or not is in no way correlated to their level of being dangerous. There are no studies that show any link between atheists and dangerous people, or mean people.

People who don’t believe in God are just people, like everyone else. Most of them are closet atheists, so no one around them even realizes (I’m willing to bet there are closet atheists in most households.) And now that we have studies that show atheism growing, people are just going to have to accept the reality that there are atheists among you, no matter who you are, or where you live.

Atheism is not dangerous at all. What is dangerous are people who are bigoted and hateful towards any group that doesn’t agree with them about their religions, gods, or worldviews. What is dangerous, are people who think they have a direct line to a divine creator of the universe, and use that line to claim superiority over other people. What is dangerous, is ignorance and intolerance of opposing views and beliefs – just look at what some groups are doing in the name of their particular god.

There are people in this world who will stop at nothing to be hateful and dangerous to anyone who does not agree with them. It is NOT atheists. Atheists may have the wrong answer on God, but they are NOT dangerous.

Are You a Christian? January 4, 2010

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If you believe that Jesus was the son of God, and is also God, then you are more than likely a Christian. There are billions of Christians in the world today. Because of my religious background, I refer to Christianity more often than other religions. I was once a Christian in the Catholic Church and I was baptized and confirmed, so there is really no denying my official status. According to the Catholic Church, I am still A Christian! Obviously, I have decided not to be a part of the Christian Church, but I’m hardly willing to go through the trouble that it takes to get removed, or as they call it, ex-communicated.

I would like to say that I have no reason to think that all Christians think alike, or that all Christians believe the same things, or that all Christians are anything more than, at the very least, believers in Jesus Christ, the son of God (god of The Bible, of course.) I have more Christian friends than I do friends of other religions, as far as I can tell. I do not have very many atheist friends, as most atheists keep their disbelief to themselves. Most of my friends don’t know that I am now calling myself atheist. The main reason for this is because it doesn’t really come up, and I am exactly the same person I was before I made the claim of my disbelief. I don’t feel it needs to be announced to all of my friends, but at the same time, I’m not going to go out of my way to hide it if it comes up.

So, even though I have chosen to withhold my belief in God, and I am willingly deciding that I may end up burning in hell for all eternity, I am still exactly who I was before I started this blog. The one exception is that I feel very strongly about speaking out against belief systems that directly challenge my freedoms, and my right to believe whatever I want, and my right to associate with anyone I choose, no matter their beliefs. I will not sit by and watch young earth creationists attack the scientific knowledge gained from the hard working people around the world who, by their very efforts, are helping billions of people in various ways as a result. I will not stand by while religious believers try to stamp out my ability to freely speak out against ideas that I don’t agree with. I refuse to allow religious believers to wage bigotry and hatred against homosexuals and their human rights because their god told them it was evil. And I will not sit quietly while some religious believers use their beliefs to attempt to impart their morals on everyone around them.

For the many millions of Christians who are not actively engaged in those activities, please do your part to speak out against those that do, or find another church or denomination. As well, don’t allow anyone to misrepresent the messages of compassion that Jesus was spreading when he walked the earth. Help the rest of the world by allowing others to disagree, and to find their own beliefs, or their own ways of dealing with their lives and the lives of their families and communities without interference from anyone. This world needs more tolerance of opposing ideologies and beliefs – there is literally no other way it can work.

If my blog is offensive to you as a Christian, then I suggest you point it out to me in the comments, and allow me to respond. Or, if you are one of those religious believers that I am speaking directly to, then stand up for your beliefs and let me know that as well. If you believe homosexuals are sinners bound to burn for all eternity, then say so. If I call it bigotry, then at least you were bold enough to say it yourself and I know exactly who I am dealing with.

Personal Testimony January 3, 2010

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There are no good arguments in support of any god as far as I can tell. But there is one argument that is very difficult to refute, namely, personal testimony. When a person declares they know that a god is real because they believe it is real, what possible refutation can be used against an argument like that? How can anyone refute personal testimony? So, one believes in God, and so God is real, the end. To be fair, if God is real, then these personal testimonies may be real, who knows but the one who experienced it! Let’s put the personal testimony argument under the bright light of reason and logic.

Theist “I believe, therefore God is real.”
Atheist “Really? Prove it.”
Theist “I have seen Jesus”, “I have felt the spirit of God”, “I have spoken to God”, “God has spoken to me”, “I prayed, and God answered my prayer”, “God is everywhere”, “I have accepted Jesus”, ad nauseum…

Sure, your god is real. His god is real, and her god is real, according to each of them. With the number of people that claim God is real, you would think at least one of them might start to doubt it after so many years of nothing. Well, good news!

There are plenty of people who changed their mind after the deafening silence of their god became too much cognitive dissonance for them to ignore. If an adult walks up to you and says “I was abducted by aliens last night”, what is the first thing that passes through your mind? When a person tells me that they saw their dead grandmother at the foot of their bed, I pretend like I’m intrigued, but inside I’m hoping the conversation ends sooner, rather than later. When a child goes to school and overhears other children laughing about the younger kids who still believe in Santa, the child suddenly stops admitting, at least publicly, that they still believe in Santa.

Personal testimony has long been considered the weakest evidence of an event, or a belief. It’s just not considered good evidence, even if millions of people have the same belief! Imagine believing, as most humans once did, that the sun revolves around the earth, or that the earth was flat. Popularity doesn’t make a thing more true, or even more reliable. We must use the faculty of the scientific method to remove as much bias, and open the floor to critical thinking, testing, validation, and falsification, and continue to test the observations before we conclude, with any certainty, that a thing is true, or real. We cannot falter under the weight of personal testimony, no matter how many people believe. Besides, how many more centuries are we going to have to hear the claims of a real god before it stops?

Am I alone in wondering when the proof will arrive? Really, what is so damn difficult about proving a God that is supposed to be literally true and real, according to believers? Why has there been no evidence to support any god, ever? And when will anyone, no matter what god they follow, ever just admit that God is not provable beyond their personal belief? Are they waiting for the rapture in order to prove to everyone that God is real? It’s too late by then, since God will supposedly collect the “chosen ones” and dispense the rest of the humans to Satan’s house. I’ll bring the steaks if you bring the chips and dip! Something tells me we won’t need lighter fluid for the pit 🙂