August 2008

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In my previous Faith vs. Belief post, I discussed the fact that an important reason atheism cannot be considered a “faith” is that nobody actually wants to be an atheist—people only become atheists because they feel they have to. We all take comfort in the idea of a God taking care of us and looking after things, and especially the idea that we will go to eternal paradise when we die. An atheist has to actively fight against these deep seated desires and instincts, to accept the cold, harsh reality that there is no God to love us and take care of us, and that when we die, we really do just die. This is why—despite the extreme objective irrationality of a belief in God—most of us just cannot let go of this belief. I know I couldn’t—it took me years to simply accept what the facts were telling me, and embrace the reality that there is no God, no afterlife, and no higher meaning to my existence. It was a very slow and painful process. But astonishingly, once I was finally able to let go of that last vestige of belief, I suddenly found I was happier than I ever was at any other time in my adult life!

How on earth could this be? It was certainly an enormous surprise for me! Although I believed in God, I never followed any established religion, so I wasn’t really subject to the sorts of restrictions they put on people. Yet the first thing that struck me was how much more empowered—and just plain free—I felt as an atheist. I was never aware of how restricted I was by the idea that I wasn’t really the master of my own destiny, and that everything, including me, was under God’s control. Before, I was basically just a pawn on God’s chessboard, but now I was able to make my life into whatever I wanted it to be, because I was in control. This was an important factor in making me feel confident enough to launch my own web site, and express myself—in any way I saw fit—to the entire world. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s George Carlin to provide us with a little comic relief again, as usual with a healthy dose of truth! I’m just disappointed he didn’t say anything about “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass”. ;-)

This video is courtesy once again of Kid A.

Faith vs. Belief

In my previous Agnostic Extremists post, I discussed how atheism is not a faith—or if it is, then every other belief is a faith too, including the belief of these “agnostics” that we can never know whether God exists or not. And as I pointed out in that thread, this makes the word “faith” utterly meaningless. So to clear up this confusion, it seems we need to figure out exactly what faith is.

I think the central problem here is that theists—and theistic apologists—like to use the words “faith” and “belief” pretty much interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. But they do not. It is true that all faith is a form of belief; however, it is not true that all belief is a form of faith. Faith is in fact a subset of belief: it is believing in something primarily because you want to believe in it—even to the point of denying the facts, or at least twisting them to suit your chosen belief system. But if you believe in something simply because that’s what the facts indicate, that isn’t faith at all.

This begs the obvious question though: how do we know whether somebody believes in something because they want to, or because of what the facts tell them? First of all, we need to determine a reasonable and logical starting point for establishing this. Common sense dictates that we should start with the assumption that something doesn’t exist until its existence is proven, at least to a reasonable certainty—and this is especially true when we are dealing with an extraordinary claim. For example, we don’t really need to prove that we have great grandparents, even though many of us have never seen them. The mere fact that we exist demonstrates to a reasonable certainty that our great grandparents must have existed as well. On the other hand, if I were to tell you there was a monster standing behind you, what would you do? You would turn around and look of course. If you see there isn’t any monster behind you, but I keep insisting there is, what would you say to me? You would demand that I prove it of course! No reasonable person would expect you to have to try and disprove there is a monster standing behind you—that would be totally nonsensical and ridiculous. Read the rest of this entry »

After the last two very serious posts, I thought it might be a good idea to post a more humorous perspective on religion, from the late, great George Carlin. Sad part is though, everything he says is absolutely true… :-) A very big thankyou to Kid A for bringing this brilliant video to my attention!

Agnostic Extremists

As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, I decided to contribute to the The Blasphemy Challenge because I believed in their objectives of promoting open discussion about atheism and religion, and encouraging atheists to “come out of the closet”. It was of course no surprise that many Christians found this objectionable; what was more surprising was that many people who called themselves “agnostics” did as well. In theory, all agnostics should also be atheists, as they don’t believe in God—the definition of the word atheism itself is simply a=lack of theism=belief in God(s). However, there is a particular breed of “agnostic”—who I will call agnostic extremists—who like to say that atheism is just as much a religion as any form of theism, and who feel they are logically superior to atheists.

Of course, when Thomas Huxley originally coined the term “agnostic”, he really didn’t think he was in any position to determine the existence or non-existence of God. He certainly knew the Book of Genesis was wrong—he was “Darwin’s bulldog” after all! But like Darwin, he was unable to imagine how the universe could have come into being without some kind of “higher creative force”. At the time, this was a perfectly reasonable way to think, as we didn’t have anywhere near the knowledge of physics and astronomy that we do now. I’m sure that if Huxley and Darwin were alive today, they would call themselves atheists; and even with the knowledge that they did have, they clearly didn’t believe in God in the conventional sense anyway. Also, I don’t believe they ever said that we can never know whether God exists or not; merely that they were unable to determine this themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Although we’ve been planning to launch this blog for some time, a major motivation in finally getting it up was the fact that I could no longer link to my main site from my MySpace page, as they are now blocking all links to adult sites. This is also one of the reasons we decided to separate my blog from my main site, and keep it strictly non-nude, so that I could reach as wide an audience as possible. However, even when I have covered up my “naughty bits”, I have still been subjected to censorship. One example of this was the removal of my contribution to The Blasphemy Challenge by YouTube.

The image above links to a high quality version of the video we originally posted (in MPEG4 format, so you’ll need QuickTime 6 or later to view it). As you can see, anything that might be considered “offensive” is strategically covered by my hair (we also posted an extended fully nude version on my main site). Yet YouTube took it down within hours of us posting it! In response, my webmaster Lee whipped up a ridiculously censored version of the video, and posted that on his YouTube channel. Read the rest of this entry »

No Olympics Here!

I often feel like I’m just about the only person on earth who doesn’t have any interest in sport. Of course, playing sport can be a good, fun way to exercise, so I don’t have anything against that. But for me, competitive sport really missses the point of what sport should be about, as it takes all the fun out of it. And sitting on a couch just watching sport seems to miss the point even more! Am I really that alone in having absolutely zero interest in such huge sporting events as the Olympics?

POSTSCRIPT: On a related note, I’ve always felt our society has too much reverance for sporting achievement, and not enough for intellectual achievement. After all, compared with almost any other animal, human beings are pretty weak and pathetic physically. It is our brains that have put us at the top of the food chain on this planet, and it is thinkers like scientists who do the most to change everyone’s lives. So why don’t we have more respect for that than we do for achievements in sport?

In the past, I never used to publicise my birthday, as I felt I was imposing on my fans, and I never do anything to celebrate my birthday anyway. However, the feedback I’ve gotten from you has made it very clear that you’d like to share this day with me—and part of the point of this blog is to share more of my private life with my fans—so here I am letting everybody know: today is my birthday!

It was exactly two years ago today that I started my MySpace page, so it seems fitting that today is the day I am starting the process of winding it down. I’m really looking forward to never seeing “Sorry! an unexpected error has occurred. This error has been forwarded to MySpace’s technical group” ever again, not to mention the freedom from annoying ads and browser crashes! Hooray for having my own blog, so I can be sure everything works properly, and I won’t be assaulted by crap!

Alright, now that we’ve gotten everything on this blog working perfectly, I can finally bring you up to date on what’s been happening with me recently!

As my long term fans will know, earlier this year we sent out a manuscript for my first book (on health and beauty) to publishers. At the time, we had no idea how long it would take to get a response—apparently it can often take up to six months, and that’s just for the initial response! We are just starting to get some responses now, but at this stage, we are nowhere near making a deal, let alone knowing of it’s something we’ll be happy with!

As my long term fans will also know, we produced an exercise and yoga DVD to accompany my book, as we intend to sell them as a package to encourage sales of the book. The good news is, this DVD is finished—the image at the start of this post is a still from it. The bad news is, because we want it to accompany my book, we can’t sell it to you yet! We will have to wait and see what sort of deal we can make with publishers before we sell it to you ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry it’s been taking me so long to post an update on what’s been happeing with me recently (and what’s to come), but my webmaster Lee has been working on some usability enhancements to our site, which we wanted to test fully before doing another post.

Firstly, in response to a user request (thanks for the suggestion John!), we’ve now added the ability to edit your own comments, up to one hour after posting them. Secondly, we’ve refined the log in/log out process, so that you are instantly returned to the page you came from after logging in or out. And finally, we’ve refined the user registration process: instead of generating a random password, you can now choose your own password when you register. You will then be emailed a special link to activate your account. This will make it easier for us to manually activate your account if you don’t receive your registration email. If you’ve tried to register but didn’t receive your registration email, please contact us, and we’ll fix it for you. We’ll need a valid email address to contact you on though!

August 13 Update: In response to user requests, we’ve now added the ability for you to preview your comments, plus you can automatically quote from and reply to other people’s comments as well! Read the rest of this entry »

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