December 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 »