2009

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Okay, yes I know I posted this video last Christmas, but it’s just so damn funny that I had to post it again! Besides, I thought some of my newer readers may have missed it when I posted it last time. A word of warning though: this video may be highly offensive to Christians of delicate sensibilities. ;-)

Speaking of Christians, I’ve been starting to receive emails letting me know that not all Christians are extremists who want to force their beliefs on other people. Well of course I do know that: if all Christians practised the sort of modern, progressive and—above all—peaceful and tolerant outlook advocated by such people as Bishop John Shelby Spong, then I wouldn’t feel any need to write about Christianity at all. But sadly, we know that isn’t the case, especially in the US, where fundamentalist Christianity is on the rise. And many moderate Christians make apologies for such people, instead of attacking them head on as the threat to the future of humanity (and indeed Christianity) they are.

So having said that, I would like to wish a merry Christmas to all my more progressive and tolerant Christian readers and fans, and a happy holidays to all!

After looking as though no deal might be struck at all, a last minute agreement has been reached at the Copenhagen summit on global change. Although the deal is disappointing, as Obama says, it is only the beginning, not the end, and in my opinion far better than no deal at all. At least now we have something to build on—as Australia’s leading campaigner on climate change Tim Flannery has said, I think we have to accept the political realities, and accept this deal as a positive outcome overall. Read the rest of this entry »

Religion and Morality

Outspoken atheists like myself obviously spend a lot of time debunking the so-called ‘evidence’ for the existence of God, but it often seems to me that evidence is largely irrelevant to theists. Their beliefs are based on a need to believe in God for emotional reasons, and there are many. I’ve talked about some of these before (fear of death, fear of the unknown, the need for a “higher justice” etc.), but there’s one very big one that I haven’t tackled directly yet: morality. It seems that a big reason a lot of theists feel they have to believe in God is that without him, humans would have no morality.

Let’s begin with their most often cited ‘evidence’ for this idea, the great tyrants of the 20th century: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-Il etc. These people were supposed to have been atheists, yet they are responsible for the greatest acts of genocide in the last 100 years. Surely this must prove that—whatever problems religion might have—atheism is actually far worse? As a matter of fact, it doesn’t prove that at all—indeed, when we look at the evidence more closely, it actually leads us to the opposite conclusion. For a start (unlike the countless examples of people killed in the name of God), none of these people committed any of their atrocities in the name of atheism. They committed them in the name of Nazism, Communism etc., which tells us what is actually going on here. These were in fact new religions—the only reason these tyrants denounced other religions is so that they could become Gods themselves. It is noteworthy that communism spread far more effectively in the east than it did in the west, and I think there are two key reasons for this. One is that the oriental countries have basically always accepted the idea of their king, emperor etc. being an earthly God, so it wasn’t really anything new to accept their communist leader as one. The other reason of course is that full democracy was already well established in the west, which naturally leads the people of those countries to question their leaders, and not blindly follow them. Which leads to my next point. Read the rest of this entry »

With Obama’s announcement of a 30,000 strong troop surge in Afghanistan, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back on the so-called “war on terror”, and how well it has been prosecuted by both US administrations involved (Bush and Obama). Although I’ve always been of the opinion that the war in Afghanistan was probably a losing battle, given that the US and its allies are already there, I guess it makes sense to try and “finish the job” with a massive troop surge. It is different from the situation in Iraq, in as much as Afghanistan actually was a haven for terrorists, and likely will be again should the Taliban regain control of the country. Importantly though, there must be some kind of deadline for when the US and its allies pull out, regardless of whether the surge is successful or not. Obama’s timeline of a staged pull-out starting in 18 months seems reasonable. Read the rest of this entry »

What do these two things have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing at all as far as I can tell, except for that fact that I’ve chosen to speak about both of them in this post! November 24, 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of perhaps the most important book ever written—Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species Or the Preservation of Favoured Races In the Struggle For Life (usually—for obvious reasons—just referred to as The Origin of Species). I think it is fair to say that no other single book has done more to advance our knowledge of our true place in nature and time.

Also, with just a month to go until Christmas, I thought I should update my Amazon wish list, seeing as everything I put up initially has already been purchased—thank you again to everyone who sent me gifts (especially John, who was very generous indeed!). Even though I am a Godless heathen (and I suspect the vast majority of my readers are too), it seems that most secular people still like to celebrate Christmas in a non-religious way, and still enjoy purchasing gifts for their friends and loved ones. As I’ve stated previously, I think this is okay, as long as it is what people actually want to do, rather than what they feel obliged to do. So if you want to buy something for me for Christmas, please feel free to do so. But if you don’t want to, please do not feel any obligation to do so either.

As an outspoken atheist who also happens to be a female nude model with big tits, the email I get from religious types is perhaps a little different to what most men who speak out about atheism get. Instead of simply cursing me as an evil sinner, they often want to “save my soul” (presumably in the hope that they can have a relationship with me in either this world or the next), and indeed often tell me about how I lead them into sin. My standard response to this is: “If God didn’t want you to look at my tits/naked body, then why did he make you enjoy it so much? Does he want to torture you or something?” Their standard response to this is that God gave them the free will to do evil things, and that they just can’t help themselves committing the sin of looking at my tits/naked body. Hence it seems to me that we should take a good, long, hard look at this “free will” concept, as it is crucial to the credibility of religion—without it, they cannot explain how a perfect, all-loving, all-seeing and all-knowing God can allow evil, sin, pain and suffering in the world he is supposed to have created. Quite frankly, the blatantly obvious logical flaws in this argument make it amazing to me that I even have to point them out, but given that millions of people depend on this concept to make sense of how the nature of their supposed creator conflicts with the nature of the world, clearly I must do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Image courtesy of Reuters: Johannes Eisele

November 9 marks the 20th anniversary what must be one of the most joyous and important events in modern history—the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is amazing to think that only 20 years ago the world was still clearly divided into east and west, communism and democracy. I think the Berlin Wall is the ultimate example of how absurd this conflict became—a wall dividing an historic city into two sections at a seemingly arbitrary point, which people could not cross lest they be killed. I heard a story of one young man whose parents lived in east Berlin, but who had just moved all of his things into an apartment in west Berlin the day before construction of the wall began. He spent the night at his parents’ place, and then could no longer get back to his apartment the next day! Well actually, he did try to, and became one of the first people to be killed attempting to cross from east to west.

We must never forget that only in the last 50 years, political ideology allowed such an absurdity to not only happen, but be accepted as commonplace. It is a reminder of how susceptible we are to simple ideologies that give us a sense of certainty and identity. Today, the “red terror” has been replaced with Islamic terrorism, and an extremist response to it—i.e. a resurrection of the centuries old conflict between Muslims and Christians—may lead us into a real war this time, and not just a “cold war” (indeed, to a large extent it already has). We must never allow extremist religious and political ideologies to take us into WWIII; we must use reason to fight the forces of fundamentalism.

We have finally found a couple of billing options we can use for our new project—we now just have to integrate them with our systems. We have also found a third party site we can work with should this prove too difficult, although for the best possible user experience at the lowest possible price, we still want to do it ourselves if we can. We are aiming to get this underway by next month (I hope!).

For now, enjoy this hilarious video from DarkMatter2525, the person who brought us the creation story cartoon I posted previously. I also highly recommend his Let God Sort Them Out video—it is along similar lines to the An Atheist Meets God video I posted a while back, and once again shows the sheer absurdity of the Bible’s statements on who goes to heaven and who doesn’t. I also really like his Epic God Fail video, which lists many of God’s outrageous atrocities, with a great punch line!

The Root Of Religion?

There has been a lot of research in recent years as to why we like to believe in religion, and where it came from in the first place. A lot of theories have been suggested, and there’s probably an element of truth to all of them. Plus of course, there’s our deep-seated fear of the unknown, especially death. We are so afraid of death that we desperately want to believe that we don’t actually die, a desire that religion fulfils in our minds. And before we had science to explain the true nature of reality, religion provided us with an explanation for the way the world is, however fanciful it may have been. The discussion we had after my last post, however, leads to another possible idea as to the origin of religion—surely not the only reason religion came about, but quite possibly a very important one.

As social animals, human beings are biologically programmed to co-operate with and care for each other, as it enhances our chances of survival, both as individuals and as a species. This is actually the origin of the moral sense that religious people have such a hard time understanding without God, but which is in reality a very simple and logical consequence of our evolutionary history. But like all animals, however, we also have a selfish survival instinct, particularly when resources are limited. This naturally leads to tribalism—we tend to form groups that are large enough to give us what we need to survive, but not so large that we run out of resources. Of course, just how big that group can be depends on how efficiently we are able to use the resources available to us, hence technology has led to an increasingly globalised society. But at the time the holy books of most of the world’s major religions were written, tribalism was rife, as our ability to utilise resources was indeed limited. Read the rest of this entry »

Jr posted a link to this article in a comment on my last post, but it had me so outraged that I think it deserves a post of its own. Here is a quote from the opening paragraphs of this eye-opening article:

EKET, Nigeria—The 9-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.

His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him — Mount Zion Lighthouse.

A month later, he died.

Can you imagine the excruciating pain this poor boy must have suffered over that month? This must be some kind of crazy, whacko religious cult, right? It is in reality Christianity, as brought to Africa by American evangelicals. And as shown by this article, this boy’s case is not an isolated incident.

So why on earth are preachers condemning innocent children to this fate? That’s the most shocking part of all: it’s good for business. The preachers and churches who identify the most “witches” are seen as being the most powerful, and parents actually pay them willingly to exorcise their children.

This is a great example of why atheists like myself can no longer accept religion as a benign belief that gives people comfort. Because when a person’s most cherished belief is something for which there is no physical evidence, they are susceptible to believing anything—including that their own children are witches and must be tortured, or that blowing themselves up to kill “infidels” will give them 72 virgins in the afterlife. Religious moderates and liberals will argue that these people are extremists, but their actions are a logical consequences of their belief systems, and are very often actually directly supported by their own holy books. Yes, these people are often poor and desperate, but certainly not always (most of the September 11 terrorists were actually fairly wealthy and well educated), and only religion could twist their minds so much as to do something like this. Indeed, the more poor and desperate people are, the more powerful the false certainty of religion becomes. This then allows business interests to prey on their desperation, as is so tragically the case here.

I also find it absurd that we condemn new religions as cults, while allowing larger, more established religions to do the same sorts of things, or worse. They are both equally delusional—and dangerous.

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