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Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals &Science Thomas on 16 Apr 2012

The Truth about Evolution

The Truth about Evolution can be seen in this short, simple article:

I don’t believe in evolution

Here is the best part:

There is not a single observation or experiment that invalidates evolution. No fossil rabbits in Precambrian strata. No human footprints next to dinosaur footprints. No genetic data showing the synchronized bottleneck of Noah’s ark in all of the animal species. No radioactive dating results or anything else disproving the Cambrian explosion.

There simply is nothing. Or, like Richard Dawkins put it, “Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun”.

The only people who don’t accept evolution are Theists. They are willing to ignore all of the evidence in order to cling to their imaginary god.

Why?

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 14 Apr 2012

The definition of delusion – theists are delusional

Looking at the definition of delusion, it is easy to see that all theists are delusional:

So, we were learning about delusions in my Psychopathology class… and I accidentally made my professor very uncomfortable.

We were learning about psychotic disorders and how they are diagnosed, and we were learning the different types of delusions. Two of the types were “delusions of reference”, which are delusions where you believe you are receiving special messages, and “delusions of grandeur”, meaning you believe that you are special, or above everyone else.

I asked my professor, “say someone believes they are special because they believe they are receiving special messages from a source that they think is God. Would they have a delusion of grandeur or reference?” (it was an honest question, I wasn’t trying to be insensitive to the more religious members of the class).

My professor turned red, stammered a bit, and said (after doing the whole “nobody get offended” thing) “questions regarding religion and delusions are very, very tricky to answer… Our culture has made it acceptable to believe in some things that, to outsiders, would seem very strange. The definition of a delusion is ‘a firmly held belief that someone believes despite lack of evidence, and despite contradicting evidence.’ Given that definition, it’s very hard to distinguish between the things religion tells us, and what makes someone delusional. So in diagnosing, it’s important to take the culture into perspective, so you’re not diagnosing devout religious belief as shizophrenia.”

My professor even went on to say “I believe in God. I’m Jewish, although I’m not a ‘good’ Jew. I have no evidence for God, yet I continue to hold onto my belief. Am I delusional? Maybe. But society has deemed that type of thinking to be rational, even though it could very easily be objectively classified as a delusion.”

I just found that interesting, that even though religion basically fits the criteria for “delusional thinking”, psychiatrists basically can’t use it in a diagnosis because it’s a type of “delusion” that’s been deemed socially acceptable. I also found it interesting that some people know that type of thinking is possibly delusional… yet they continue to hold onto it.

Related:

“The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.” – Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

How do we know that Christians are delusional?

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 09 Apr 2012

The insanity of Creationism (aka Intelligent Design) and how to deal with it

A good response:

How to respond to requests to debate creationists

Academic debate on controversial topics is fine, but those topics need to have a basis in reality. I would not invite a creationist to a debate on campus for the same reason that I would not invite an alchemist, a flat-earther, an astrologer, a psychic, or a Holocaust revisionist. These ideas have no scientific support, and that is why they have all been discarded by credible scholars. Creationism is in the same category.

Instead of spending time on public debates, why aren’t members of your institute publishing their ideas in prominent peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? If you want to be taken seriously by scientists and scholars, this is where you need to publish. Academic publishing is an intellectual free market, where ideas that have credible empirical support are carefully and thoroughly explored. Nothing could possibly be more exciting and electrifying to biology than scientific disproof of evolutionary theory or scientific proof of the existence of a god. That would be Nobel Prize winning work, and it would be eagerly published by any of the prominent mainstream journals.

“Conspiracy” is the predictable response by Ben Stein and the frustrated creationists. But conspiracy theories are a joke, because science places a high premium on intellectual honesty and on new empirical studies that overturn previously established principles. Creationism doesn’t live up to these standards, so its proponents are relegated to the sidelines, publishing in books, blogs, websites, and obscure journals that don’t maintain scientific standards.

It is for these reasons that no intelligent person gives Creationism (aka Intelligent Design) any credence.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 07 Apr 2012

Where did the universe come from?

This video helps to understand where the universe comes from, via Carl Sagan:

Another perspective:

Also helpful:

Science compared to religion

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 01 Apr 2012

The fundamental insanity of religion

The fundamental insanity of religion is summarized in this image:

Santorum Twitter

This insanity is seen in the actions of Christians and Muslims, the thinking of religious politicians, the belief in prayer, etc. The insanity centers on the ability to talk about love when it is convenient or useful, and then to be hateful, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, utterly selfish, etc. the rest of the time. No one with any intelligence could read the Bible and believe that “God” has anything to do with “love” – His actions in the Bible are, by and large, abominable. God’s followers tend to act in just the same way. No one could listen to Rick Santorum and not understand the hateful core that permeates his thinking.

It leads one to believe that religion is nothing more than a convenient cover for hate.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 25 Mar 2012

A Christian Explains His Evidence for God

In the comments on this post a Christian explains his evidence for God:

My Evidence:

1. A conscious experience of the Holy Spirit guiding my life
A. evident by providential events in my life that have moved me forward

2. Witnessing miracles
A. I have seen several unexplainable acts of God.

3. Answered prayers
B. I talk to God as a friend, and He answers my prayers
-not answered in the sense of giving me what I want, but answered in the sense of giving me what I need and telling me the truth in situations.

4. Years of righteous men who if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t have America and freedom and the ability to post your opposition for the world to see.

If thats not enough, then I don’t know what to tell ya. You believe in quarks, atoms, black holes, yet you do not believe in that which is in your own heart.

This seems like such an odd collection. Let’s examine them one at a time.

The first one is amusing. If someone really had “the Holy Spirit guiding my life”, meaning an all-knowing, all-powerful being guiding his life, wouldn’t you expect his life to be perfect and awesome? Wouldn’t you expect him to be able to say something so full of beauty and wisdom that the rest of us are left speechless? Wouldn’t you expect that beauty and wisdom to be flowing from his mouth and his pen constantly? Wouldn’t you expect him to know something, anything, that the rest of us do not know?

The second one claims witnessed miracles. Strangely, none of these miracles are ever recorded by a camera.

Answered prayers, really? Again it is strange that none of these answered prayers are ever recorded. And none of them ever work out when statistically analysed. And poor people starving around the world get left out when they pray. And God never answers the prayers of amputees to restore their lost limbs. All of that doesn’t matter. Matt believes God is “giving me what I need and telling me the truth in situations.”

Here is another response from the comments:

Your evidence:
1. Subjective. Universally available and equally confirmative of any view–Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Flying Spaghetti Monster, atheist, belief that Paula Abdul loves me, etc.

2. Um… examples? Bear in mind that “I can’t explain it” doesn’t imply “it can’t be explained.” You might want to read David Hume on Miracles and Anatole France’s little essay entitled “Miracle.”

3. Um.. Does God talk back (presumably to tell you the truth)? In whose voice does God talk back to you? Does it sound suspiciously like your own, or maybe like Morgan Freeman’s?

4. Righteous men do not imply anything about God. Righteous men prove that men can be righteous, by which we mean good, not righteous in the religious sense.

There is actual evidence, physical evidence, for quarks and black holes. Atoms have actually been observed with electron microscopes. My heart pumps blood; it doesn’t think. I think you mean to say that I don’t trust my temporal lobes and anterior cingulate cortex, but I do trust those–and understand them to be part of my biology instead of an indication of supernatural powers.

It is a strange, strange world Christians live in, devoid of evidence, rationality, even sense. We can only hope that one day they may be cured of these delusions.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 19 Mar 2012

The stupidity of the “God is the source of morality” mindset

There is a comment that appeared today that is worth repeating because it contains the truth. It has been cleaned up here for wider consumption:

I always, always get tickled when people (theists) try to assert that no one can be an actual moral authority.

- Doctors are medical authorities.
- Aircraft engineers are aviation authorities.
- Historians are history authorities.
- Lawyers are law authorities.
- Economists are economics authorities
- Nutritionists are nutrition authorities.
- Scientists are science authorities (in their fields).

And… wait for it…

- Moral philosophers are… moral authorities.

Religion has declared it to be arrogant and blasphemous to assert that anyone is a moral authority except God, who never speaks and thus, de facto, the clergy become the moral authorities despite that lack of credentials 40yA was talking about.

On theology island, you don’t actually need to think about moral questions, then, to become a moral authority, you only have to read these Bronze Age books and the exegesis laid on top of them by centuries of agendist, mostly ignorant imbeciles.

It goes deeper than that, however. There are many moral questions that require nothing more than common sense to analyze. To understand this point, consider this analogy: every human being is an expert in the effects of gravity. We all have the common sense to know, through experience, that jumping off of a 10th story balcony will result in death. If a human being falls 100 feet to earth, we are all experts in the result. It does not require a college degree to appreciate the effects of gravity.

This article explains how every human being can understand that murder is evil in just the same way:

On Ethics and rational moral codes

No college degree in moral philosophy is required to understand that murder is evil.

In contrast, imagine the idiocy that goes into declaring the God of the Bible to be a source of morality. This is a being who, according to his own supposedly self-authored book, thinks slavery is good, who killed nearly every living thing in a flood (and then lied about said flood, because it never happened), who believes that animal and human sacrifices are important, who prescribes the death penalty for homosexuals and who believes that eternal torture is a valid idea.

The God of the Bible is a disgusting, appalling amalgamation of the most evil things ever imagined. And this is the being that theists choose to be their model for morality? Theists would have to be completely delusional to do that:

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 16 Mar 2012

Religious Republicans are completely insane – the religious war on women

It is impossible to imagine this happening in a modern superpower country, but it really is happening:

Fired For Using Birth Control? It Could Be Possible In Arizona

A proposed law in Arizona could give employers the right to fire women who use birth control. The bill, which sailed right through the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, grants employers the right to ask for proof that contraceptives are being taken for non-contraceptive reasons… Not only would the bill grant employers the right to pry into a woman’s (and only a woman’s) medical history, it would give them opportunity to fire women for simply having a sex life.

Imagine the regressive, delusional, insane mindset that would propose a law like this. Only religious delusion could create this level of insanity. You expect this kind of behavior in tribal villages, not in modern, technological countries.

U.S. returning to the Dark Ages

“What has happened, that we are fighting again for reproductive rights?” wonders Rosie O’Donnell, filling-in for Piers Morgan. “And how did guys, get to be the ones to solely discuss it?” responds Angelica Huston. “It’s absolutely astonishing to me, it’s the Dark Ages.”

An excellent related thread on Reddit:

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn‘t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They all want to control women.” Hillary Clinton

It is time to end religion and create treatment programs for the delusional.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 13 Mar 2012

More religious insanity – racism and homophobia by Christians and Mormons

This article would be hilarious if it were written by The Onion. But it is not – this level of racism and homophobia is normal reality in the world of religion:

Florida Evangelical Leader Calls on Romney to Renounce ‘Racist’ Mormon Religion

The reason for the call is a passage in the Book of Mormon that is offense of people of color:

The Book of Mormon in 2nd Nephi, Chapters 5:21-23 accuses God of cursing African people and causing them to have black skin in order for them not to be attractive to white people. These verses also accuse God of causing the black African people to be disgusting and detestable to white people. Furthermore, these verses accuse God of being against inter-racial marriages between blacks and whites.

But what about the person making the call? It turns out he is black (hence his problem with the Book of Mormon), but sees no problem whatsoever with the homophobia found in his Christian Bible:

It was not surprising that Rev. O’Neal Dozier, the spiritual leader at the WorldWide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Fla., endorsed Rick Santorum in the Florida primary campaign earlier this year. Dozier and Santorum are both rabid anti-gay activists who have made offensive statements about gay people that are so nutty that they would be funny if they weren’t so hateful.

Santorum famously compared consensual gay relations with “man on dog sex,” and Dozier once said that homosexuality was “something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit.”

Only religion could make people this hateful, and so blind to their hatred. How can Romney proclaim that he believes in a story as insane as the Mormon story? How can any Christian believe in the insanity of Christian mythology? This video helps explain the problem:

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 10 Mar 2012

How religion and its associated conservatism destroys a country

A very interesting analysis of religion’s retrograde effects in Texas:

I’m just curious… Why do so many Americans want to get out?

A U.S. Senator demonstrates his religious insanity:

James Inhofe Says the Bible refutes climate change

How did the United States become so backward?

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 08 Mar 2012

How can apparently intelligent theists be so ridiculous?

In this God Squad article, which was published in hundreds of newspapers in the United States, you can see an apparently intelligent theist twisting and turning to try to explain his imaginary God:

God Squad: God gave us an imperfect world

The author (Rabbi Marc Gellman) is trying to explain why a supposedly perfect, loving, omniscient God would create a world filled with so much suffering, terror, disease and heartache. The author’s answer is:

Our complicity in evil is the result of a God-given gift of free will, which is both good and also necessary for moral responsibility. If God stopped all evil, we’d have no incentive to do good. These are obvious truths and I still remain perplexed why so many people find the problem of evil so recondite.

When challenged on this point, the author elaborates:

If God constantly intervened in history, we human beings would quickly get the message that there was no need for us to exercise our courage and wisdom to help reduce evil in the world. We’d become passive observers of the moral fate of humanity, rather than active participants in its improvement. Obviously this is why we’re granted free will by a good and powerful God.

This is the place where every theist looks completely ridiculous, for three reasons.

First, there is this statement: “If God constantly intervened in history…” By making this statement, the theist automatically eliminates the possibility of answered prayers and any other interaction by God with the material universe. An answered prayer is an intervention by God. Therefore, if you believe that God gives humans free will, then you must also believe that God never interacts with the known universe. Of course if God never interacts with the known universe, that is the same as being irrelevant.

“Now wait one minute!” says the theist. “The fact that God never interacts with the universe (which I do not believe – God does answer prayers!) does not mean that God is irrelevant! God also created the infinite bliss of heaven and the eternal torment of hell!” The problem with heaven is that it runs straight into this statement by Gellman: “If God stopped all evil, we’d have no incentive to do good.” Wait, isn’t heaven supposed to be a place devoid of evil? If God can create one place devoid of evil, why didn’t he create earth that way too?

The third problem is that most theists also believe in God’s plan. They pull out Bible verses like these:

Jeremiah 29:11: “I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.”

Even the God Squad, just a few months ago, wrote this:

Reader’s guilt is unnecessary

It is hard to let someone go whom you love dearly. But death is part of God’s plan, and the time of death is totally in God’s hands.

What? How can we have free will if God has a plan for us and totally controls things like time of death? This of course is an absolutely ridiculous position. Not to mention the fact that, once again, prayers of intercession would be pointless.

The only way for an intelligent person to be a theist is to completely disengage his or her brain and, in the process, look both ridiculous and stupid. So why do theists do it? How do they do it?

See also:

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 06 Mar 2012

Critical Thinking: The Rational Discussion Flowchart

This is a very interesting little chart:

Critical Thinking: The Rational Discussion Flowchart

In the comments, it would be fun to see if theists and atheists could agree to the rules in this chart and then have a discussion about God.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 22 Feb 2012

Why Creationism and Intelligent Design Should Never Be Taught in the Science Classroom

Here is a very simple explanation for why creationism and intelligent design should never be taught in the science classroom:

Explanation

“We’re not going to have an evolution versus creation debate in this classroom, but it’s going to take me a few minutes to help you guys understand why.

Can anyone tell me what science is?”

(Long wait. Sometimes you have to make them look it up in the dictionary. Most definitions come round to, ‘A way of learning about nature.’)

“Right, it’s a way of learning about nature. By definition, any concept of a god involves the supernatural – that which is outside of nature. So by definition, it’s outside the scope of the topic. We can’t measure divinity. We can’t test divinity. We can’t falsify a hypothesis about divinely inspired creation. We don’t spend a lot of time on world history or diagramming sentences in a biology classroom, and we’re not going to spend a lot of time on creationism either -because it’s not science.

Science is not concerned with what you believe.

It is concerned with what you know – the best model we can construct from the evidence available in the natural world.
Science doesn’t deal with the metaphysical. Some of you will view that as a limitation, and that’s fine. You have to understand the appropriate uses and limitations of any tool you work with.”

You can potentially leave it here.

Or you can delve into ontological versus methodological naturalism, and talk about Karl Popper and the necessity of falsifiable hypotheses….

By teaching the topic this way (in a bit more depth) and having students understand what science is, I’ve had some amazing results.

I once had an extremely religious fundamentalist student who wanted to have a ‘debate’ the first time I said the word ‘evolution’. He was always very insistent on trying to get me to divulge my faith (or lack thereof). I always responded, “If you are ever able to determine what I personally believe, I’ve failed to be sufficiently objective. This is about knowing the material and understanding the models – not about personal beliefs.”

Baby steps.

First, they have to understand that what you are teaching is not a threat to their faith – or they’ll shut down and refuse to ever accept it.

Second, they have to know – academically – what evolution is and what the available evidence for it is. A proper understanding of the definition of evolution and the support for it leads almost inexorably to step three…

Third, once they know, then they tend to believe. They can’t help themselves. (They usually also continue to believe in their creation myths – but at least they can define evolution properly.)

In another comment, the same author explains:

‘Today we’re going to talk about evolution. Before we do, I’m going to ask you a question that you’re not obligated to answer. Just think about it.

Is there anything I could say up here that would ever change your personal beliefs?’

(Rigorous head shaking identifies the most resistant in the crowd.)

‘Good. And I would never want to. I’m not concerned with what you believe. I’m concerned with what you know. Remember when we talked about the definition of science – we’re dealing only with falsifiable hypotheses about the natural world, so it’s within that context that we’re having this discussion. Your beliefs are totally separate.

Now, what have you been told I would tell you in today’s lesson on evolution? Don’t be shy. It could have come from church leaders, it could have come from friends or relatives, it could have come from your parents. Or maybe you don’t know where it came from. But what have you heard about evolution?’

Students: ‘You’re going to try to turn us away from god. / Evolution says there is no god.’

Me: “You will never hear me say a single negative thing about your faith or your religious leaders. Let me repeat that. You will never hear me say a single negative thing about your faith or your religious leaders. Hold me to that.”

Students: ‘Evolution says we came from chimpanzees!!’

Me: “Not true.”

I would calmly answer each of the misconceptions, until students got exasperated. Eventually…

Student: “What is evolution, then?”

Me: “Glad you asked. That’s the topic of today’s discussion.
I just want to ask you one favor.

Like I said, I’m not going to tell you about your faith. Because that’s the business of your religious leaders, and I’m not an expert in their field.

In return, I’m going to ask that you take some time today to listen to an expert on science with an open mind as he talks about science.”

Then I introduce the notion of change over time, and changes in allele frequencies over time, pointing out that that – change in allele frequencies over time – is evolution.

I taught in a rural community, so it was easy to use examples from breeding cattle. The correlation wasn’t 100%, but it was common that the most religious kids also had some experience on the farm.

“If I want to make a lot of money at the cattle auction when I go to sell cattle, which cow do I breed to which bull out of my breeding stock?”

‘The biggest ones!’

“The next generation, is it likely that my animals will be bigger, on average, than they were in the previous generation, if I don’t allow the scrawnier stock to breed?”

“Well, yeah!”

“Based on what we’ve covered in genetics, why do you think that is?”

They end up stating (usually in a roundabout way) that the allele frequencies have changed.

“Do you believe that can happen?”

“Yes!”

“Congratulations. Go home and tell your parents that you believe in evolution. If they’re confused, explain it to them.”

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 08 Feb 2012

Why would anyone be against contraception? The insanity of religion surfaces again

Imagine that you are married, and you and your spouse would prefer not to have a baby right now. So one of you uses a contraceptive like a condom or a birth control pill.

Believe it or not, there are religions which think that giving you the choice to use a contraceptive is wrong, and they want to block access to contraceptives:

Contraception issue heats up as Santorum makes headway

Meanwhile, Romney intensified his attack on the Obama administration during a stop in Johnstown, Colo., after first mentioning the issue on Monday. “Remarkably, under this president’s administration there is an assault on religion — an assault on the conviction and religious beliefs on members of our society,” Romney said. “Recently (Obama) suggested that instead of a church being able to determine who qualifies for the ministerial exception from certain laws, that the government should be able to make that choice, not churches.”

The administration dealt “a real blow, particularly to our friends in the Catholic faith” with the contraception regulation, he said.

The word assault appears in the quote. The religious beliefs that try to block contraception should be assaulted, because they are insane.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 03 Feb 2012

The problem with people who believe the Bible is that they are insane

This graphic nicely sums up the insanity of Bible-believers:

Atheists, can you prove The BIBLE is false?

Any rational person can see that the Bible is false in hundreds of different ways. A simple comparison of Genesis 1 and 2 shows that the Bible itself cannot agree on the order of creation, and both of these creation stories are absolutely false by so many measures.

The only way for a Bible-believer to believe the Bible is to completely abandon reality and the truth. Someone who completely abandons reality and the truth is insane.

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