Sunday, April 27, 2014


"All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education."
Sir Walter Scott

A tepid but welcome admission

Todd Green's Religion Now post "Are Religion Courses Harmful to Faith?" is certainly a welcome though indirect admission that religious literacy is actually a threat to religious beliefs. He hedges in a number of ways. He is very careful to couch his assertion that religious courses can be problematic to faith in specific yet bland terms. Green tends to imply that it is generally bad for more "orthodox" approaches to religion thereby leaving himself plenty of wiggle room to insulate more liberal forms of religious beliefs. Anyone who adheres to a consistent and intellectually honest approach to critically reviewing all forms of religion should see that, though its immediate impact is felt strongest among the conservative brands, religious literacy is equally damning to all versions of religious belief.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Simply oozing

How is it that a certain set of theist consistently outclass each other in the amount of utter crap they can cram into a single piece of writing? It would seem that at some point a limit has to be found. Tim Stanley would appear to hold the current record with his Telegraph blog post "Militant atheists should thank God that they live in a Christian country." With only six paragraph it is so packed full of bullshit it makes you wonder if miracles are real. The title alone is so bad I feel the need to repeat it just to come to terms that a "writer" could be that fucking inept.

Militant atheists should thank God that they live in a Christian country

It is stunning. So much stupidity, bias, and willful ignorance in a single line. Applying "militant" to vocal atheists has been taken apart so many times I find it hard to believe that someone with an IQ over 60 and an attention span slightly better than a goldfish could have missed it. Stanley does mention Dawkins by name so there is a solid example that can be completely refuted. There is no weasel room to claim he meant a different person or type of atheist. Dawkins, like the rest of the "New Atheists", has not only never advocated the use of violence but has on numerous occasions corrected the mischaracterization of his works for such deceitful smears.

Mr. Stanley also seems to have drank rather deeply from the same batch of Kool-Aid that the "Christian Nation" assholes here in the US have been swilling for years. No, England is no more a "Christian country" than is the US. It is this self-important factually challenged mentality that oozes from the title and drizzles through the paragraphs that follow it. There is no real thought involved. He simply parrots from others all sorts of faux-history and apologetics. Sadly, he can't even be consistent or coherent while layering on this type of shit. In the fifth paragraph, while going on about what we all owe to religion he gleefully quotes that it is "...from teachings and presumptions that are specifically Christian." Yet the very next paragraph starts, "This is not unique to Christianity."

Huh? If you insist the guy you are quoting is dead-on wouldn't making a statement that says the exact opposite just a sentence later be noticeable as a blatant contradiction? It is, however, a pretty good summary of the piece. It doesn't manage to make a single valid point. It just repeats tired myths and does it in a very weak incoherent manner. It is somewhat amusing how he manages to reference, if vaguely, politics, philosophy, and theology all without the slightest understanding in any of it. If it weren't for his clearly malicious intent it might be comparable to how a toddler first starts exploring his/her own house. Too bad this  piece of shit came from an adult with access to the mainstream media.

Oh, and I'm also not sure how or why someone would thank an entity that is completely fictional. Wouldn't that be a bit like my thanking Papa Smurf for helping me read and respond to Stanley's worthless blog post?

Sunday, April 20, 2014


"Improving on what I wrote in Logics of Delusion, I would now say that the delusional subject believes in the immediate truth of what is compulsively revealed to him. In general, he has no suspicion that it may be false or illusory. This is also because he has remained intimately attached to the logic of desire, which cancels any contradiction between the possible and the impossible, the attainable and the unattainable, and because he has experienced this archaic logic as true even when the reality principle was imposed on his unwilling consciousness. In other words, he has not entirely made the transition from the logic of desire to that of the acceptance of bonds, to the logic of a relatively well-consolidated rationality."

Logics of Delusion, 2nd Edition
Remo Bodei 

A title as bad as the content

Unlike so many other pieces I've come across, Jonathan Merritt's "4 surprising places to encounter God" is pretty well titled for what follows. It's unfortunate that what follows is rather pathetic. I admit that over the years I've been rather critical of Merritt but this one is rather sad even for him. Even setting aside that he specifically writes opinion pieces for the Religious News Service.

The only thing this blog post seems to accomplish is to reveal how muddled some theists views are of God. Merritt uses "Jesus" and "God" interchangeably which works or doesn't depending on which flavor of Christianity you prefer. Usually, he seems more aware of such a discrepancy. I have also noticed over time that he mixes different versions of the God concept (scriptural vs. abstract) fairly regularly. However, within a given piece he tends to be more consistent than in this one. In either version, finding God in "surprising places" is telling. The scriptural God is prone to whimsical and temperamental behavior. Why be surprised by the actions of a character who consistently acts rashly? If you switch over to the more abstract version of God it makes even less sense. As the perfect all-powerful creator, God would not only have to be the source of everything but also be everything. Where could you possibly go where God doesn't exist?

Merritt's main premise/title is just silly. It only makes any sense if you've never thought seriously about what the various versions of the God concept entail.

What makes it a "taunt"?

Normally I wouldn't be bothered by a bogus story floated by the likes of The Washington Times and Fox News but this one is fairly common and connects to a variety of equally stupid myths and misrepresentations. "Jesus is a myth" is not a taunt. I'm sure if you actively hunt for an atheist who chooses to use it as if it is one you will find such an asshole. The majority of atheists I've come across who have reached the sound conclusion that there is no historical Jesus do not use it that way. For the sake of clarity I would point out that not all atheists concern themselves one way or the other about whether an actual Jesus figure ever existed.

Personally, I fail to see how anyone who either respects or is familiar with historical scholarship can still hold to the notion that there ever was an actual Jesus. Once you remove scripture there is nothing left. Jesus literally disappears in the absence of scripture. That there isn't even one verifiable fact about this supposedly important figure has nothing to with being either a theist or an atheist. It also has nothing to do with what I or other atheists would want or not want to be true. Reality and the facts don't change just because we don't find them they way we might want them to be. Assuming you are intellectually honest.

I didn't start out with the conclusion that Jesus is a myth. Right up to college I had always assumed there was an historical figure on which the various legendary stories were based. I always thought the hippy version of Jesus was pretty cool. Once I became curious enough to look into the "real" figure behind the stories I started to learn that there really wasn't anything substantive to base the stories on. It was only after I did my own research that I realized the Jesus narratives were strictly theological and devoid of any factual basis.

Basically, shit pieces like "Atheists’ Easter taunt to Christians: ‘Jesus is a myth’" is just a sad attempt at smearing atheists while allowing theists to insulate themselves from the facts. By definitions alone the idea that saying "Jesus is a myth" amounts to a taunt is ludicrous. According to Chambers 21st Century Dictionary a taunt is:
"verb (taunting, taunted) to tease, say unpleasant things to or jeer at someone in a cruel and hurtful way.
noun a cruel, unpleasant and often hurtful or provoking remark.
taunting noun, adjective.
tauntingly adverb."
Considering that I, like many other atheists, have family and friends who are Christian it makes no sense to make statements that would be intentionally harmful. I have no interest in being mean or hurtful. I also have no interest in denying reality or belittling history as a field of study.

Jesus is a myth. That is what all valid historical research indicates. People can accept it or not just as they can perceive it to be unpleasant or not.It makes me wonder how many would insist on this type of sham if instead of "Jesus" you substitute in "Gilgamesh"? I'd be willing to bet that the "evidence" that can be created for Gilgamesh would be on par with that for Jesus.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


"Owing to the distorting lens of our evolved theory of mind - distortions that warp our perception of reality in systematic, predictable ways because they served our ancestor's genetic interests - we know now that what feels real (even when these thoughts are shared with other sane, healthy, completely normal people) is not always a good measure of what is real."
Jesse Bering
"God as Adaptive Illusion"
The Belief Instinct

The internet is not "killing religion."

Jessica Ravitz' CNN Belief blog post "Is the Internet killing religion?" is probably one of the best pieces I've ever read on that site. The question posed in the title is interesting if a little misleading. What is most impressive is the fact that the title doesn't necessary reflect the content yet is still connected to it. Ravitz does not write the piece with a foregone conclusion in mind. Her intent seems to be to encourage others to seriously think about the question and its possible implications.

Personally, I don't believe it is possible for the internet to kill religion. I seriously doubt religion will ever completely go away. Even if I am wrong on that point, which I hope I am, I fail to see how the internet could be the sole or even primary cause of its demise. The internet is really just a tool. It does make the dissemination of ideas much easier and faster but it is the ideas that matter the most. It is unquestionable that the internet is playing an important role in a variety of discussions and debates across numerous subjects. I am not trying to belittle its importance and usefulness. I just think it is important to try to keep things in perspective.

The internet will never be a killer of religion. At best, it may end up being an accessory to attempted murder.

Overdue and Underwhelmed

I was pleased to come across "Bible study: More people say the Good Book isn’t a God book" on Religious News Service' website. However, given how much information is available on the history and impact of the Bible the numbers are still rather dismal. It is also still quite disheartening that so few are willing to read, pay attention to what they are reading, and scrutinizing what they actually read in the Bible. It really is a horrible book. The "values" argument is completely unfounded. The "heroes" of the Bible are worse than any villain Hollywood could conjure up and God himself is a blood-soaked tyrant. It is also crap in terms of literary standards. There are a number of non-religious individuals who have made the equally bogus claim that it has a great deal of merit in terms of its writing. It doesn't. The closest forms of literature outside sacred text it can be compared to is that of an anthology. If you apply the criteria used to evaluate anthologies it doesn't hold up very well.

Despite this lack of merit I do not want to give a false impression or provide any excuses to those who may misconstrue my negative views of the "Good Book." I in no way endorse banning it or discouraging people from reading and talking about it. As the post implies, the more people do read and pay attention to it the less likely they will be to continue to view it in such biased delusional ways.

Actually, "God plays the villain" all the time

It is interesting that Baden seems to accept, though in a wishy-washy manner, that God can be a "villain." There are a few points that I do agree with him despite having different reasons and interpretations. For instance, I agree that when it comes to explaining/accepting the existence of evil; "This is our problem, not the Bible’s." I would differ from him in some fairly obvious ways. Namely, since the Bible is a work of fiction created by us the impetus in figuring out evil still falls on us. Even if you insist on the Bible being some type of supernatural work it still would not be the fault of the Bible directly. The Bible is pretty clear that God is a tyrannical psychopath so it is not likely to help us with examining the nature of evil in any meaningful way.

This line of thought leads to some other differences I take with the overall approach and implications of Baden's "When God plays the villain" piece. The title suggests it is only an occasional thing that God is the bad guy. How does that not eviscerate some of the most commonly held beliefs about God. If God is the supreme being and the creator/source of all things then God must the origin of evil. God cannot "play" the villain since God is the villain. It is equally true (within the context) that if evil is always present then God is constantly rather than occasionally the villain. This in turn leads to a variety of dilemmas and paradoxes for theists. How can an all-powerful and perfect God be both benign and malevolent simultaneously? How can an absolute divine being create freewill? If humans cannot violate the basic traits of  a perfect entity (Omnipotent, Omniscient...) how can we possess freewill or any responsibility or meaning? And so forth...

Overall, it is an interesting piece. I enjoyed reading most of it but was a bit disappointed with how he winds it down. I should have seen it coming despite hoping for something more substantial. The very last sentence was an all too common theistic dodge.
"In other words, it is our changing concept of God, over two millennia, that is responsible for the moral dilemma. It’s our problem, not the Bible’s."
No, in other words, bullshit. Every version of the God concept is problematic. The concept is by its nature a paradox. It is from its contradictions and incompatible components that makes it a dilemma.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


"Many think it is impolite to talk about religion in any meaningful way in most settings. Strangely, this unwritten prohibition is promoted most vigorously by people who talk about religion in virtually every setting."
Guy P. Harrison
"Is It Rude to Ask?"
50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

It's Not Always About Legality

Mark Osler's March 31st HuffPo piece fails to live up to its title, "Bigotry or Belief? A Test", in a few rather obvious ways. The first mistake he makes is in conflating whether something is legal or not with whether it amounts to bigotry. This is somewhat understandable since he is a law professor and therefore may think primarily in legalistic terms. However, his "test" only determines whether an individual or group can legally get away with a specific set of behaviors/actions. It says nothing about whether those behaviors are biased and/or bigoted. It is quite possible to be an upright law-abiding citizen and still be a narrow minded bigot.

The other blatant flaw is his reliance on scripture. The manner in which he uses it does not come close to determining whether a belief is bigotry. The best his "test" can do is come up with a relative sense of how sincerely an individual holds a specific belief and whether they attempt to apply that belief universally. In one sense that may mean they do not apply their beliefs in a hypocritical manner but that does not justify the belief itself and does not mean that the belief itself is by its nature not biased. It is also rather problematic to come to a conclusion at all based on scripture. As I have often pointed out, scripture tends to alternate between incoherent and contradictory.

Flunking Church and State

It's pathetic and sad but not surprising that so few of our political leaders either understand or are willing to support one of the most basic concepts in the Constitution. According to the Secular Coalition the majority of Congress fails miserably to support the separation of church and state. As reported on Religious News Service piece "Secular Coalition flunks most members of Congress on church-state report card" better than half of our legislators got an F on the SC's report card. Even though it is not commented on, quite a few of those who failed probably cling to false notion that the US is a "Christian Nation" and that separation is a myth. Both assertions are so mind-numbingly stupid that it still amazes me that anyone who adheres to them even tries to pretend that they've read the Constitution. There isn't a single reference to God, Jesus, or Christianity. On top of which the only references to religion at all are negative in their framing (establishment clause and no religious oaths of office).