Sunday, December 29, 2013


"Delusion is the child of ignorance."
Bhagavad Gita

Stedman is at it again

Chris "Faitheist" Stedman has once again lodged his head straight up his own ass. Apparently, the very notion that some atheists want to let others know that Christmas doesn't have to always be celebrated for religious reasons is an act of "war". It doesn't matter that people have held celebrations during this season long before Christianity came into existence. Pointing out such socio-cultural/historical facts makes atheists the bad guys. Congratulations you fucking pinhead, you have just successfully reinforced a number of myths and stereotypes about atheists.

Unfortunately, it is not simply a matter of Stedman being an ignorant fool, which in many instances he is, but rather about deep seated biases. In his Decemeber 21st CNN Belief Blog post "Why atheists should quit the 'War on Christmas’" he states among other things:
"The American Atheists maintain that their latest entry in the annual “War on Christmas” saga is a message to other atheists that they are not alone...Which raises the question: If the goal truly is to reach isolated atheists, why does the advertisement read as a dig at Christians? A better billboard for American Atheists’s stated aim might read: 'Don’t celebrate Christmas? You’re not alone.'”

He knows the reasons given for such campaigns but refuses to accept them. Why? He seems to blindly accept the old canard that atheist are by their nature immoral and untrustworthy. He also seems to be operating on various double-standards. Most biblical scholars, many of them believers, long ago conceded that December 25th is not anywhere near the birthday of Jesus. So how can any literate intelligent theist continue to insist that the season belongs solely to them? Yet, Stedman seems to be championing the incredibly arrogant and bigoted view that if you don't celebrate the way an ever shrinking segment of Christians insist on then you shouldn't celebrate anything. And even if a fraction of the shit he's spewing has any truth to it why should atheist be viewed as the main protagonists?

Like usual Stedman hasn't got a fucking clue what he's talking about.

Fragments without Philosophy or Substance

"Philosophical Fragments" is one of handful of blogs on Patheos that I read on a fairly regular basis and have always found the title a bit misleading. Very few of the pieces I have come across involve any deep thinking.
A recent piece, "The Good of Believing In God", provides an excellent example of what a misnomer the blog is. Johnny Moore's December 15th piece starts with this little gem, "Atheism might be in vogue, but it — for sure — hasn’t helped history as much as Christianity.  Believing in God is not only among the most reasonable ideas in history; it is among its most helpful."

Only two sentences in and the piece is already off to rather pathetic start. Even if atheism could be said to be "in vogue" why would it matter? The idea is pretty absurd given that atheists are still considered the most disliked and distrusted minority in the US and the media never fails to promote any number of myths and stereotypes about atheists. It is also rather ridiculous to insist how history might have played out. There is no way to know such a thing. As a thought experiment such speculations can prove valuable but the rest of the piece makes it clear that is not what Moore is doing. He also never backs up his rather definitive statement about the God concept being reasonable or helpful. It is a highly debatable supposition with evidence being available on both sides.

So what is his point? I have no idea why he bothered with this beyond taking an opportunity to attack atheists. Another revealing sentence comes at the start of his third paragraph. "Although atheists might concede that there is no transcendent meaning to life, they are more than willing to take advantage of modern medical know-how to maintain their meaningless existence for as long as possible." Did you catch his rather disingenuous slight-of-hand? If an atheist doesn't agree that there is a one-size-fits-all universal meaning of life (i.e. God) then such an atheist can't possible find any meaning in life at all. The implication is, of course, that we are hypocrits simply because we don't fall for his childish conflation. His reasoning never gets any better.

There are plenty of fragments provided. Nearly all are in essence logical fallacies. In a rather short space Moore relies on, among others, double-standards, misrepresentations, and special pleadings.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


"Magic, it must be remembered, is an art which demands collaboration between the artist and his public."
E. M. Butler
The Myth of the Magus


Kimberly Winston provides more example of how the notion that religious people are more giving than non-religious people is bullshit. "In season of giving, atheist groups’ charity rebuffed" gets into some of the technical reasons this idea of religious givings superiority is a myth but leaves out a few as well. She also doesn't bring up some of the underlying philosophical problems with the stereotype. At various times I have pointed out problems with the methodology sued by some of the studies that have been conducted in this area as well as the reasons different groups give to "charity".

I wrote about this type of thing back in August 2012, "Generosity: A Perennial and Misleading Question"

Religion is Subjective and Amorphous

As I have frequently pointed out, when people insist they know the "true" religion you can usually safely assume that they are either ignorant, delusional, a liar, or any combination of those three. This seems especially true of Christianity. I'm pretty sure it is due to the fact that despite claims to the contrary there isn't a single Christ figure. The New Testament agrees on very little and tends to alternate between being vague, convaluted, and contradictory.

I will admit that when I come a cross pieces like Marcotte's "5 Ways the Christian Right Perverts Religion to Push Inhumane, Unfettered Capitalism" and Howerton's "Is the Duck Dynasty #StandwithPhil Outrage Really About Christian Values" they do sometime make some decent points related to ethics and morality in general. However, their connections to religion are often shallow and baseless. They almost always are premised on the author's preferred interpretation of the faith in question.

So remember, there are "No True Scotsmen."

Sunday, December 15, 2013


"By 'miracle' I mean a supernatural intervention in the natural order to cause things to happen that would not happen naturally. I argue belief in miracles in this sense tend to make it impossible to investigate nature: how do we distinguish natural events from supernatural interventions without assuming that we already know the course of nature? From a scientific viewpoint unexplained phenomena are just that - unexplained. If we suppose that they are explained by miraculous intervention, we are less likely to look for natural causes where we do not now find them, but the process of looking for undiscovered causes is helpful to scientific and medical progress."

Paul Gomberg
"Section II: Uncertainty and Scrutiny in Science - Introduction"
What Should I Believe: Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking

The Catholic Church is Anti-gay

Michael O'Loughlin's entire HuffPo piece, "The Catholic Church Isn't Anti-Gay, but Are Its Bishops?", is based on a rather foolish conflation. What he seems to be trying to say is that the average self- described Catholic isn't anti-gay. On that point I agree. The majority of people who identify as Catholic are not homophobic and don't seem to have an interest in telling others how they should live their lives. That is not the same thing. The average Catholic has no power or influence when it come to either the church hierarchy or the church's doctrines.

The Catholic Church as an organized religion is indisputably anti-gay. The hierarchy and doctrines still insist that homosexuality is a sin and that equal rights for gays (including but not limited to gay marriage) is unacceptable. That is the church's official stance and it routinely meddles in politics to enforce that view. Anyone who cannot see that being anti-gay is a complete moron.

It Isn't Odd

This past week an atheist wrote a short piece for CNN Belief Blog that revealed how even atheists can inadvertently perpetuate myths and logical fallacies about themselves and other atheists. Mark Schacter wrote about his recent book of photography that happens to focus on, and is titled, Houses of Worship.
He opens his piece with these sentences, "I don’t believe in a divine presence, nor do I subscribe to any organized religion.  And that, perhaps oddly, is why I am drawn to the mystery of faith."

Wait, someone is drawn to something they don't understand? That's odd? How many people take an interest in things simply because at the time they can't understand them? Being interested in something that seems mysterious or unexplained is perfectly normal. There is nothing odd about being fascinated by ideas, events, or people you don't understand. In fact, curiosity is the driving force behind science.

So why label this drive "odd"? It seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the topic of religion. People, including some atheists, still find the need to put the institution of religion on a pedestal. Religion is an aspect of culture no better or worse than any other. It shouldn't be given such special treatment. The old myth/stereotype that atheists are non-believers simply because they don't understand religion the way believers do also seems to be playing a role. It's bullshit. We've proven on more than one occasion that non-believers are more religiously literate than believers.

The piece I refer to is Mark Schacter's December 7th Belief Blog post "An atheist photographer focuses on faith"

I do Listen. Do you?

I'm pretty sure that Mr. Werleman doesn't listen. He certainly doesn't listen to atheists and I doubt he's paid that much attention to the Pope either. Like so many others he is blindly assuming that empty rhetoric will amount to action. It hasn't so far. His December 11th Alternet piece, "Why Atheists Should Listen to Pope Francis", is a thinly veiled excuse to attack nonbelievers. The piece oozes all sorts of slimy misrepresentations, double standards, and flat out lies.

"Atheists like to talk about building a better world, one that is absent of religiosity in the public square, but where is the atheist movement, as defined by the some 2,000 atheist groups and organizations in the U.S., when it comes to dealing with our third-world levels of poverty? Not only is the atheist movement absent on this issue, it is spending thousands of dollars on billboards that make atheists look like assholes, at the same time Catholicism is looking hip again. "

Not sure which "2,000" groups he's refer to but off the top of my head I can name three online locations he could have easily perused and discovered that virtually everything in the above is a steamy pile of shit. Atheist Nexus, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Freethought Blogs all do an ample job of demonstrating that nothing Werleman thinks about atheist is based on reality. All three routinely advocate giving to various charities/non-profits. It is also interesting and revealing that when theists push messages in the public sphere it is perfectly fine but when atheists do the same we are the "assholes." FfRF recently interviewed one of the individuals responsible for the current billboard campaign. She clearly indicates that they are aimed at atheists not theists. It is to help those who feel isolated and alone gain a sense of belonging. That's being an "asshole"?!

Fuck you Werleman! You're little more than a hypocritical double-standard wielding bigoted scumbag.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


"The Master said, 'when we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.'"

It's Not Just Christians

I have pointed out in the past that my intention is not to single-out any specific faith for criticism. I tend to focus on Christianity for practical reasons. It is the religion that I am surrounded by and the one that dominates the culture I live in. A piece I recently read reminded me that sub-sets of Muslims can be just as ignorant, delusional, and hypocritical as various sub-sets of Christianity or any other religion. A recent post on the Pak Tea House, "Atheism and Faith",  by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi made me laugh quite a bit. I'm by no means the only one to find his piece both absurdly funny and irritating in its promotion of double standards, stereotypes, and sheer stupidity. The comment section seemed to be dominated by those who found Mr. Kundi's piece incredibly childish and pointless.

I should have stopped reading after the very first paragraph since it was an excellent summary of what followed. Unfortunately, I did read the whole thing. Feel free to follow the link in the Pak Tea House piece's title but be prepared for a mind-numbingly idiotic rambling piece of shit. If you don't want to wast your time read just the first paragraph since the rest can easily be extrapolated form it;
"I am a believer in one God. But I am always fascinated by atheist because it seems fantastic that they could reject the idea of God despite the inadequacy of science to explain physical world around us with certainty. To understand their argument I am always eager to meet an atheist with a hope that some new information will be revealed to shake foundation of my faith. But most of the time I hear the same arguments again and again. Religion has always argued that faith has certain element of irrationality to it although Quran has presented the idea that science will eventually find God."

Sex in the streets

Did the title of this post catch your attention? How about this for a statement, far-right stalwart Justice Antonin Scalia has now endorsed the right of every consenting adult to fuck anywhere they are comfortable doing so. That's right, if you apply even the most basic logic to his recent comments regarding public prayer that conclusion is perfectly reasonable.

An article in the December issue of Church & State, "Showdown At the Supreme Court", reviewed the hearings related to Town of Greece v. Galloway. According to the piece;
"Scalia asked questions along similar lines, saying that even when elected officials are acting in their official capacity, they’re still citizens with the right to invoke a deity.
'They are there as citizens…,' he opined. 'And these people perhaps invoke the deity at meals. They should not be able to invoke it before they undertake a serious governmental task such as enacting laws or ordinances?'”

See  how that works? If a government official can do something in the privacy of their home they should be able to do it in public as a government representative. Considering all the sex scandals surrounding even the most conservative figures it is clear that they most certainly do have plenty of sex. By Scalia's line of reasoning they should now feel empowered to screw right there in town hall. Yes, I realize this is a logical fallacy. Arumentum ad absurdum (aka Reductio ad absurdum) but that is actually my point.

Scalia's rationalization is absurd and has no bearing in reality. Government officials while fulfilling their functions as government representatives are by definition no longer acting as private citizens. That's the whole point. Government has no right to endorse or impose religion on anyone. It clearly states as much in the Constitution. Basically, Scalia and the rest of the right wing assholes who dominate the Supreme Court have once again revealed themselves to be ideological hacks who don't give a shit about the Constitution. I hope I am wrong but I am assuming that Galloway is going to lose.

Versus: a Blog with Great Potential

It looks like Patheos is going to be adding a new blog to its already sizable roster. "Versus: The Debate Blog at Patheos" has a great deal of potential. I know nothing about Andrew Murtagh but he seems sincere in his attempt at starting open honest discussions/debates. I have read quite a bit from Adam Lee so I am hoping that he does take Murtagh up on his invitation to engage with him. I am a little unclear on how this blog will actually work but it sounds like it would be a good approach if each set of post involves two or more of the current stable of Patheos blogger from across their "channels." I intend to keep my eye on this one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


"People think they understand what is being asserted, but on inspection a considerable degree of vagueness enters. It is hard to make literal sense of much theological and religious discourse, which is the reason that religious apologists, when pressed, resort to claims of ineffability concerning the central religious subject-matters and the inability of human minds to grasp them."

A.C. Grayling
The God Argument

Is "God" the Source of All Things, or Not?

I'm going back to yet another one of my refrains. It seems to be necessary to revisit a number of comments I've made since theists never seem to learn or accept. Theists really do not appear to believe, at least not to the extent they think, even a fraction of what they claim. Connor Wood has once again scribbled some rather idiotic drivel on his poorly named Science on Religion blog. The title alone,"Religion makes you prejudiced. God doesn’t.", should make any critical thinker shudder with its stupidity.

Initially, it is possible to cut him some slack. The God concept isn't really of a single version. However, the first sentence of the second paragraph clearly states, "We’re not talking about a living Abrahamic God, though – instead, we’re talking about the semantic concept of God." Since he is writing about the more abstract version of the God concept what little wiggle room he would have had vanishes. The moment you accept the notion that God is the supreme being and therefore both perfect and all-powerful the title becomes a rather foolish and deluded contradiction. God must be the source of absolutely everything. If prejudice exists, and it certainly does, then God is the source.

Whether theists like it or not the belief in God's perfection places all responsibility with God. Whether something is good, bad, or indifferent does not matter. If it exists then it is the result of God. Whether "religion makes you prejudiced" or not is a moot point in the face of the abstract version of the God concept. God would automatically be the source of both religion and prejudice equally.

As is often the case, Mr. Wood can't even manage to apply the most basic principles of critical thinking and logic. The whole piece is just another example of how little theists understand their own beliefs or bother to think beyond the most superficial approach to "reason."

Bad idea, slightly better location

Conservative Catholics can be such whiny assholes. Now they're pissing and moaning about US Vatican Embassy being moved. There shouldn't be an embassy at all! Grow the fuck up. These are the same assholes who will go on about their "religious" rights when what they really care about is their power and influence. If Catholicism is focused on "spirituality" why does it so often behave like a political organization? What other religion has an embassy? These over-privileged bastards will never be satisfied.

It is also interesting to note the overlap between conservative Catholics and fiscal conservatives in the GOP. If they are so interested in slashing budgets and reducing government should they be salivating at the possibility of consolidating two separate embassies into one. Oh, that's right, they are self-serving liars and hypocrits.

The Stupidity of Adam and Eve

In his New Republic piece, "Scientists Try to Reconcile Adam and Eve Story, Whiff. Again.", Jerry Coyne does an excellent job dismantling the Adam and Eve narrative. He not only points out a variety of reasons why the "literal" story is idiotic crap but also shows why it is just as stupid in symbolic/metaphoric terms. Unfortunately, many theists will never fully give up on such fucking ridiculous garbage. To some degree Christians can never fully distance themselves form that type of supernatural superstitious absurdity. All the basic doctrines that make Christians an identifiable religious group rely on them. Adam and Eve are so intimately bound to original sin and therefore Christ's "sacrifice" and "resurrection" that there is very little to salvage without it. The only possible work-around I can think of is to focus entirely on Jesus as a symbol of ethics and morality stripped of all the supernatural elements. Of course, that would rely on a whole other set of delusions to make it work (unique ethics, historicity, single figure).