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Introduction Rationality & Reason
Atheism................................1 Openly Atheist.....................2 Critical Thinking...................3 Secular Humanism...............4 Epistemology.......................5 Epicurean Paradox...............6 Russell’s Teapot...................7 Pascal’s Wager....................8 Logical Fallacies...................9 Disinformation...................10
Charles Darwin..................20 Albert Einstein...................21 Alan Turing........................22 Richard Feynman...............23 Carl Sagan.........................24 Stephen Hawking...............25
Saving................................26 Donating............................27 Lending..............................28
Alcohol...............................29 Cigarettes..........................30 Marijuana...........................31 Shroooms...........................32
Scientific Theory................11 Scientific Method...............12 The Big Bang.....................13 Earth..................................14 Evolution............................16 Dinosaurs...........................17 Stem Cells..........................18
Masturbation......................33 Pornography......................34 Health Benefits..................35 Condoms............................36 Anal Sex.............................37 Conception.........................38
Purpose..............................39 Morals................................40 Ethics.................................41 Privacy...............................42
The Bible............................65 The Qur’an.........................66 Book of Shadows...............67
Lies and Deceit
God....................................43 Abortion.............................44 Abstinence.........................46 Homosexuality...................47 Papal Infallibility................48 Nicene Creed.....................49 The Catechism...................50 Creationism.......................51 Apologetics........................52 Sin......................................53 Female Priests...................54
Priests................................68 Mother Teresa....................70 The Pope............................71 Jesus Christ........................72 Virgin Mary........................73
Christmas...........................74 Easter................................75 Lent....................................76 Hanukkah...........................77 Holiday...............................78
Cults and Sects
Scientology........................55 Jonestown..........................56 Branch Davidians...............57 Solar Temple......................58 Heaven’s Gate...................59
Soul....................................79 Heaven & Hell....................80 Miracles.............................81 Faith...................................82 Prayer................................83 Speaking in Tongues..........84 Transubstantiation.............85 Exorcism............................86 Beastly Number.................87 Satanism............................88 Purgatory...........................89 Angels & Demons..............90 Homeopathy......................91
Buddhism...........................60 Catholicism........................61 Christianity........................62 Watchtower.......................63 Lindy Hop...........................64
Child Abuse........................92 Genital Mutilation..............93 Alexandrian Library............94 Book Banning.....................95 Holy Wars..........................96 Death Penalty....................97 Honor Killing......................98
Religion and Politics
Church & State................100 Catholics & Nazis.............101 Fundamentalism..............102 Marriage..........................103 Manhattan Declaration....104
Why question beliefs? Why come to your own conclusions? Unjustified beliefs, while seemingly harmless, can promote widespread ignorance, hatred, malice, and violence. For example, Muslims believe their god deems bikinis an improprietous no-no. For this, 215 people were murdered in riots, sparked by the 2002 Miss World Pageant, which was to be hosted in Nigeria's Abuja. Unquestioned beliefs stifle progress and place humanity in peril. Galileo's celestial observations of physical reality contradicted literal biblical interpretation. Unjustly persecuted, his findings were suppressed under penalty of death. Squelching freedom to express or consider uncomfortable ideas attacks the acquisition and distribution of knowledge. We have learned that asteroids, gamma rays, megacaldera, halogenated hydrocarbons, methane destabilization, ice ages, and over-exploiting resources could extinguish all life on Earth. Praying will not abate these threats. Time is our most precious commodity; arresting advancement or dissemination of knowledge is an intolerable transgression. Yet science does not answer everything. The scientific method is a tool to discover how the Universe works. Science continually refines insights based on new findings; whereas, belief requires discarding new information to preserve faith.
This book contains commentary on many topics that religious people preach from misunderstanding. This cognitive gap must be filled for it is inherently harmful to believe falsehoods, worse still to pass ignorance on to the next generation. It is axiomatic that the propagation of lies is detrimental to survival. Religion snakes into science classes, marries politics, and guides formulation of laws. Adherents bombard their beliefs upon others in many ways (gods in constitutions, gods on currency, gods in anthems, swearing on bibles, and crosses on motorways), protect child molesters, are anti-homosexual, cause third-world conflicts, condemn condoms, and promote misogyny. Such evil must stop. Keep this book with you. Keep a copy on your laptop. Distribute it to friends. Use it to refute the Bible. Refer to it when friends and family members ask questions. Understand arguments, learn about logical fallacies, and grow as a good, kind, and moral freethinking individual. Also, visit reddit.com/r/debatereligion. There are over 7 billion people on the planet. What does our global population imply about food, land, and oil? Learn about the exponential. Educate and improve yourself. Discover hobbies, make friends, see the world, study science, and endeavour to contribute something meaningful to humanity. Question everything you read in this book. May 23, 2012
Rationality & Reason
Atheism is a lack of belief in any god; no more, no less. Morals can be driven by a desire to do good in the world. Goading people into doing good deeds by threat of eternal suffering is boorish. Abstaining from murder allows survival by forming alliances. Also: • Friendship – Treating people with kindness and respect sets a positive example. Killing other people seriously hampers long-term friendships and other relationships. • Kindness is good – If a god told an atheist to sacrifice her child, she would tell that god to go rip itself with a solarpowered chain saw while standing a quarter-mile from the Sun's searing surface. Theists might kill the kid. • Death is final – Murder devalues human life; socially welladjusted people value others due to empathetic responses, which are not the exclusive domain of god belief. In stark contrast, organized religions have justified murder, torture, genocide, infanticide, and slavery. If anything, propensity towards violence increases in proportion to the fundamentalism of a person's religious faith.
Telling your parents that you no longer share their religious beliefs might have unexpected consequences. Wait until you: • are at least 18 years old; • have arranged alternate housing; • can afford food, rent, and clothing; and • are capable of financing your education. Make a chart that compares possible outcomes. For example:
Tell Parents No Church No prayer Good feelings Autonomy Disowned Evicted Violence / Bullying Revoked Internet Grounded No money Lose friends Maltreatment Pro / Con Pro Pro Pro Pro Con Con Con Con Con Con Con Con Pro: 4 / Con: 8 Keep Quiet Church boredom Family prayer Bad feelings Dependence Food Shelter Safety Internet use Freedom Education Keep friends Fairness Pro / Con Con Con Con Con Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro: 8 / Con: 4
Your chart will likely be quite different. While you depend on your parents financially, it is probably best to keep your views secret.
Thinking critically means understanding whether an opinion or argument makes logical sense. There is a difference between critiquing the Bible and applying empirical evidence to highlight parts of the Bible that are false. Critical thinking requires reason over emotion, recognizing and acknowledging factual evidence, finding the best explanation (not necessarily the most comfortable), and asking questions. It also means changing your viewpoint when shown to be wrong. Always approach subjects with an open-mind. If you believe with absolute certainty that you are right, leaving no room for doubt, then you have stopped thinking critically. Faith-based thinking is the opposite of open-minded: it purges rationality from thoughts; it favors anecdotes over double-blind, empirical studies based on quantifiable, statistical significance. When you believe something on faith alone, you have shuttered your mind to other answers. “There is probably no god” means “there is neither empirical evidence nor any logical reason to believe any gods exist.” Carl Sagan urged people to independently confirm facts, debate, avoid arguing from authority, consider many ideas, quantify, ensure an entire argument works, pick the simpler of two nearly equivalent ideas, and explore theories that can be falsified.
In 1980, the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism published its Secular Humanist Declaration based on the following ideals:
• Education – Advocate transmission of knowledge; encourage moral growth. • Moral Education – Abandon religious indoctrination of minors. • Reason – Cultivate human intelligence through inquiry, logic, and evidence. • Free Inquiry – Oppose tyranny of the mind. • Ideal of Freedom – Make democratic decisions by majority rule. • Science and Technology – Resist unthinking efforts to limit advances. • Evolution – Teach only scientific truths within science classes. • Separate Church and State – Deny legislation of ecclesiastical, insular law. • Religious Skepticism – Necessitate scientific evidence for divine claims. • Critical Intelligence Ethics – Formulate ethics independently of religion.
Christians purport Secular Humanism is a religion based on the use of faith in the Humanist Manifesto, even though faith can mean “complete trust or confidence in something.” Equivocation aside, the manifesto clarifies that divine faith is irrational:
Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: neither faith nor passion suffices in itself.
Humanists are so threatening that Art Buchwald once satirized:
Some [Secular Humanists] could be your best friends without your knowing they are Humanists. They could come into your house, play with your children, eat your food, and even watch football on television with you, and you’d never know that they have read Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World, and Huckleberry Finn.
The philosophical study of knowledge asks profound questions: • What is knowledge? • What is required for knowledge? • What is the extent of our knowledge? Justified true beliefs can be problematic: Imagine a woman who pops pills that cause irrational fears. She worries that she has cancer, then she believes it. Coincidentally, she develops cancer. Her belief now holds true, but her knowledge is not justified. To know that she has cancer, the woman must be diagnosed. To solve this problem, Robert Nozick reasoned that knowledge has four conditions. For a subject (S) to know a proposition (P): • P is true. • S believes P. • If P were not true, S would not believe P. • If P were true, S would believe P. Debates between atheists and non-atheists hinge on criteria for truth. Many atheists require empirical evidence to establish the truth of a proposition: they dismiss coincidence as evidence.
The problem of evil, also known as the Riddle of Epicurus, states:
If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to Then He is not omnipotent. If He is able, but not willing Then He is malevolent. If He is both able and willing Then whence cometh evil? If He is neither able nor willing Then why call Him God?
A strong rebuttal is Plantinga's Free Will Defense, which some philosophizing theologians mistakenly believe is irrefutable. Briefly: creatures must decide themselves their behaviours and beliefs. Therefore, omnipotent, omniscient gods can only create worlds where mortals choose their morals. This addresses moral evils, but not natural evils (such as plagues). Plantinga notes the possibility that free, non-human persons cause natural evils. The problem of evil is not so simple. The evidential problem of evil, proposed by William Rowe, states that the kinds, amounts, and distributions of evil are evidence against almighty Lords. Refutations to this are difficult because they cannot merely describe logically possible scenarios where absolutely good gods co-exist in a Universe shot and besmirched with evil. Arguments must account for evils that actually happen.
Bertrand Russell, who was intentionally raised agnostic, was strongly influenced by Exodus 23:2: “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil.” The passage concludes, “nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice.” Would that everyone wholly subscribe to such tenets! Sadly such biblical diamonds are lost betwixt the mire of passages such as Jeremiah 50:21: “Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you.” Fortunately, Russell subscribed to a positive, enriching world view. In 1952, Russell wrote a passage similar to the following:
If I were to suggest that orbiting the Sun between the Earth and Mars there exists a remarkably tiny comet containing a pink sapphire vein, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were to add that the comet is too small to be detected even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to insist that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a comet were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children, hesitation to believe in its existence would be deemed eccentric and the doubter, undoubtedly, ushered into psychiatric care.
Be wary of the lure of widespread belief for it easily ensnares.
Blaise Pascal argued the following:
If you erroneously believe in God, you lose nothing; whereas, if you correctly believe in God, you gain everything. But if you correctly disbelieve in God, you gain nothing; whereas, if you erroneously disbelieve in God, you lose everything.
The Atheist's Wager retorts:
In your life, try to improve the world, whether you believe in god or not. If no god exists, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by people whose lives you touched. If there is a benevolent god, he will judge you on your merits and not your belief in him.
Either way, an eternally happy afterlife is rather unlikely: 1. The set of all possible gods and the subset of wrathful, omnipotent, jealous gods are also infinite; those wrathful gods punish disbelievers eternally. 2. The odds of worshipping the One True God approach zero as the number of possible (wrathful) gods approaches infinity. 3. Therefore, even if some gods promote a happy afterlife, the odds of being accepted by those that do is essentially zero, regardless of religious beliefs. Checkmate, theists.
When people discuss religion, creationism, the Bible, and miracles, they lean on fallacious arguments. Logical fallacies do not support an argument and must be discounted immediately. • Appeal to Authority – The Pope sanctioned child molesting, therefore it must be okay. (Quoting Andrew Wiles on Fermat's Last Theorem would not be fallacious.) • Appeal to the People – Almost every Christian believes the Earth is flat, therefore the Earth is flat. • Anecdotal Evidence – Woah! She turned me into a newt! (A newt?) I got better. Never forget the Salem witch trials. • Ad Hominem – Darwin was a bad person, therefore natural selection and evolution must be wrong. • Circular Reasoning – God created the Bible because the Bible said God created it.
• False Dichotomy – There is only Heaven or Hell. (Or neither exist, or you will be reincarnated, etc.) • Slippery Slope – You enjoy sex, thus you will rape cats. There many others (too many for one page), and all of them demonstrate incorrect reasoning, independently of spiritual faith.
Some common Catholic Church (and mafia) customs include: • Hear, see, and speak no evil – Never discuss evidence. • Deny everything – Pretend the event never happened. • Invoke enigmas – State that the situation, number of people involved, and circumstances make the truth impossible to discover. • Internal affairs – Church situations are above the law and should be resolved without impartial police investigations. • Fall-back – Don’t admit to child abuse; admit to being alone with the child, instead. • Silence critics – Use financial might to arrest, detain, or blackmail people who oppose your views. • Defame critics – Use financial might to destroy a critic’s physical health, finances, or emotions. • Lie – Introduce new information designed to mislead others. • Vanish – If someone has crucial information, have them “vacation” somewhere remote.
Scientific Theory, hypothesis, and theory are closely related terms that are easily confused. The word blue, for example, can mean either sad or a color. If I said my eyes were blue, unless you enjoyed puns, you probably would not think that my eyes were sad. Mixing two definitions is called equivocation. Equivocation can be difficult to notice. For example, faith that a chair will support weight is using the word faith in the sense of, “Based on my knowledge of physics and my previous experiences, I believe...”; whereas, the word faith can also mean, “Even though there is no evidence, and I'm lying through my teeth, I believe...” Do not confuse the two definitions. Having “faith in the physical attributes of a chair” and “faith in a god“ are not equivalent definitions of faith. A Scientific Theory, such as the Theory of Evolution, is different than a theory that is a hunch or a guess. A Scientific Theory has been tested, often many times (in many ways) by many different people, and observations have been consistently verified. Scientific Theories are also reviewed by peers to make sure that scientists are accurately reporting their results and that their experiments are conducted using scientifically valid methods. Scientific Theories also allow us to make and test predictions.
Our universe is a closed system of natural laws and forces; nothing exists beyond this universe that affects it. This premise leads to questions and tests to discover the hypothesis that most closely describes observable reality. An example of the Scientific Method might go like this: • Question – What happens when hands are dunked into liquid nitrogen? • Hypothesis – The hands will freeze and then shatter. • Experiment – Dip a room-temperature hand replica into liquid nitrogen for 1/10 of a second. • Observation – Temperature differences caused the liquid to boil, forming a flesh-protecting air barrier. • Conclusion – It is possible to rapidly dip a hand into liquid nitrogen without it freezing. But don't: it's dangerous. Scientists avoid bias by trying to prove their theories incorrect. If they cannot show that the hypothesis is incorrect, then they have demonstrated that their idea is most likely true. The experiments must be repeatable so that scientists can test each others’ claims. This helps ensure no mistakes (deliberate or otherwise) are made.
The Big Bang
The Big Bang is an event of epic proportions that began the instant our Universe came into existence. Evidence supporting the Big Bang is staggeringly overwhelming. But what caused it? A Universe without cause is an uncomfortable idea. Even if we attribute the cause to a god, we must ask: What created that god? If the god had no cause, then the uncomfortable idea (of an uncaused cause) remains. So why not save a step and remove that god? Perhaps the Big Bang began from a quantum process. Maybe this Universe is only one of many. Or maybe the Big Bang was the inevitable consequence of the laws of physics? There are ideas that explain how the Universe began, naturally, without invoking godly intervention. We're alive in an expanding Universe with vast numbers of stars, untold galaxies, breathtaking beauty, and unimaginable wonders. As time tallies forth, galaxies continue to speed away from each other. Eventually distant galaxies will spread out faster than the speed of light, disappearing from view forever. All observable evidence for the Big Bang will be gone.
The Earth is about 4.54 billion years old, contrary to the unsubstantiated beliefs of Young-Earth Creationists. British naturalist, William Smith, realized that two layers of rock with similar fossils are probably the same age. His nephew, John Phillips, used this realization to conclude that the Earth was at least 96 million years old. Next up, William Thomson calculated how long the Earth would have taken to cool to its current temperature. His calculations yielded an age between 10 and 100 million years old, but neither Thomson nor anybody else knew about radioactivity. Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 and soon it was found that radioactivity gives off heat. This meant that the Earth could stay warm long after its formation. Scientists have since confirmed that much of Earth’s internal heat comes from radioactive decay. Radioactive decay also led to another way to measure age. When an element (such as uranium) undergoes radioactive decay, it becomes a different element (such as lead), which is called the daughter element. By measuring the amounts of the radioactive element compared to the amounts of its daughter element, we can determine the age of rocks.
The process of using radioactive decay to determine an object's age is called radiometric dating and has been used to determine the Earth’s age. We can also apply radiometric dating to meteorites. The Sun burns hydrogen, fusing it into helium through nuclear fusion. We can use the ratio of hydrogen to helium to determine the age of the Sun. Not surprisingly, the Sun is about 4.57 billion years old: only slightly older than the Earth. There are other ways we can determine the age of the Sun. That the age of the Earth and Sun are chronologically consistent (with respect to cosmological theories and actual observations of solar system formation—the Hubble Space Telescope has taken pictures of protoplanetary disks) gives us confidence that: • the age estimate is correct; • radiometric dating is accurate.
People who do not understand evolution think that present-day species evolved from one another; they ask questions such as: “If we evolved from monkeys, why are there monkeys?” We didn't evolve from monkeys. Evolutionary biology describes common descent. Great apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas) and humans are more like distant relatives with common great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents (except many times greater). Our ancient ancestors no longer exist, but their offspring thrive today. Ask not, “Do you believe in evolution?” Evolution is as factual as gravity. The question is: “Do you understand evolution?” • Evolution has been observed (e.g., in Escherichia coli). • Transitional fossils have been unearthed. • Natural selection is the opposite of random chance. Humans have two fewer chromosomes (46) than great apes (48); a common ancestor must have had either 46 or 48 chromosomes. It was predicted using evolutionary theory that, in humans, two sets of chromosomes must have fused. Years after its prediction, human chromosome 2 was discovered to have fused.
The terrible lizards were animals that dominated the Earth for over 160 million years. Around 65 million years ago, they went extinct. Their extinction let mammals diversify quite quickly, leading to humans. Humans never co-existed with dinosaurs. Also around 65 million years ago, a giant asteroid slammed into Earth. Most scientists agree that the asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs left its mark as the Chicxulub impact crater in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Scientists have even measured the crater's gravitational data to study the angle of impact. Genius. In the United States, the Creation Museum, which depicts a fictional, if not imaginative, telling of the Biblical account of Genesis—in all its refutable glory—cost $27 million to build. The museum displays a literal interpretation of Genesis, with humans and dinosaurs frolicking together. That was 27 million dollars spent on the active promotion of lies. What a heart-wrenching waste of time and resources. That money should have been spent sheltering the homeless, feeding the less fortunate, advancing medicine, or any number of ways to improve our plight, not aggravate it.
Embryonic stem cells are unspecialized cells from which all other cells (skin cells, blood cells, etc.) in our body develop. Stem cells are obtained from blastocysts, aborted fetuses, umbilical cords, placentas, and genetically reprogrammed adult cells (iPSCs). Research into how stem cells work will give us insights into how to cure diseases and fix the human body. A few rare diseases that could have their secrets unlocked include: • Cancer • Alzheimer's • Parkinson's • Diabetes • Arthritis Banning stem cell research is another way the Catholic Church has suppressed the advancement of knowledge. Stem cells are not special, nor are blastocysts. Opponents of stem cell research rallied against it, saying that the research was unethical because it required cells from aborted fetuses. There are other ways to obtain stem cells, yet opponents continue to use the same tired, ignorant, and invalid arguments.
In 1633, Galileo was sentenced to house arrest (for the remainder of his life) by the Catholic Church for daring to suggest an idea. Yes, an idea. An idea that the Church didn’t like: that the Earth revolves around the Sun. This idea is called heliocentrism. They locked him up and banned reprinting his works; they forced him to recant his position or face torture. The Catholic Church suppresses information because the truth would allow people to conclude that their teachings are false. In 1741, the Pope graciously allowed publication of Galileo’s complete scientific works. That they had to get permission is appalling. By 1835, official opposition to heliocentrism was dropped. Through Galileo's work, rationality and reason were thrust into public consciousness once more. The Catholic Church made a half-assed apology in late 1992. The Pontifical Academy even planned to build a statue of Galileo within the Vatican. A month later the plans were halted. Probably because they needed the money to shuttle fiddly priests around, or perhaps to buy bigger hard-drives for their child pr0n stash.
This man’s visage is on British currency. His ideas of natural selection and evolution influenced the direction of modern medicine, reshaped how we think of ourselves, and helped expunge the literal Biblical interpretations from modern society. You have probably heard that Darwin recanted evolution on his deathbed. Even if this was true: • It changes nothing. If Jane Goodall, for example, changed her mind about chimps and gorillas, it would not alter the fact that chimpanzees use tools and gorillas use sign language. • When dying, a person's mental state is uncertain. A dying brain is likely to hallucinate, or become clouded. Noting his words in such a state would be like noting his words while he was trippin' on 'shrooms. The story was fabricated by Lady Hope, who was not with Darwin when he died. Accounts of his death, as written by those who were actually present, do not mention recanting. His children, who were there, refuted the recantation and conversion story. Darwin's The Descent of Man remains highly recommended reading.
Albert Einstein proposed a revolutionary idea about space, time, and light. He even hammered on intolerant atheists. He once wrote:
A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful. However, hatred then leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it.
He also wrote:
I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle.
And he wrote:
I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet.
Alan Turing was instrumental in saving the British from the Germans. He was the Father of computer science, a codebreaker, a mathematician, and the victim of religious prejudice for being homosexual. It is bitterly unjust that a man so important to the freedom of his fellow citizens should have had their laws used against him. Laws he so ardently sought to protect. Such is the power of religious propaganda and dogma. Some religions teach that there is no middle ground: no room for exceptions. This strict regime of right versus wrong is too inflexible, too archaic for a progressive civilization. Stealing is usually wrong (like taking money from your parents without their express permission), but sometimes stealing can be the only action (like lifting documents from a priest’s office that provide evidence of rampant corruption and child abuse). Turing was given a choice: go to jail or suffer chemical castration. He chose the latter, to his physical detriment. Two years after his sentence, Turing was found dead from cyanide poisoning, most likely having taken his own life by biting into a poisoned apple. The Prime Minister apologized in 2009. A symbolic gesture not for Alan Turing, but to admit that the religion-influenced society was wrong in persecuting homosexuals.
Richard Feynman harbored an immense guilt for his contributions to building the atomic bomb. He helped build the device because he believed in the liberating forces fighting for freedom; he believed that if the Allies created massively destructive weapons, they would stand against oppression, slavery, and genocide. Some people unjustly link atheism and communism. Atheists lack a god belief because there is no empirical evidence for any gods; similarly, the scientific method requires empirical evidence. On the relationship between atheism, communism, and democracy, Richard Feynman spoke out on May 2, 1956:
I would like to remark, in passing, since the word “atheism” is so closely connected with “communism,” that the communist views are the antithesis of the scientific, in the sense that in communism the answers are given to all the questions—political questions as well as moral ones —without discussion and without doubt. The scientific viewpoint is the exact opposite of this; that is, all questions must be doubted and discussed; we must argue everything out—observe things, check them, and so change them. The democratic government is much closer to this idea, because there is discussion and a chance of modification.
Watch Feynman's videos on The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.
We are fortunate that this renown astronomer lived in an era where he could freely express his ideas without fear of being burned alive. His poignant words have the cold, sharp, refreshing splash of clarity and honest insight:
I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true. Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along. One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge—even to ourselves—that we've been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)
Stephen Hawking has been misrepresented to support the baseless position that certain gods exist. Even though this is an Appeal to Authority fallacy, his book The Grand Design clarifies that he does not believe in a personal god. Hawking also regards Heaven as mythical:
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
In 2010, Hawking contrasted religion and science by noting their fundamental differences. Religion is based on authority (imposed dogma and faith), while science is based on observation (reason and rationality). Science will trounce religion, he declared, because it works. Without medical science, Hawking would have succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. And yet countless numbers of people have died from disease. How many of those people could have reshaped the world for the better had they lived a full life? Now consider how much money is wasted on religious propaganda that could be used to advance medical science. Religion affronts all of humanity in many ways.
Tithing money to churches grows the reach and influence of an organization that can finance its own nation state, yet finds it necessary to pass around a collection plate, begging for more. Start saving your hard-earned coin and invest in your own future, secure your own financial security. Be your own boss. If (or when!) financial hardship hits, you will have your own foresight to thank. A 10% tithe equates to about $100 a week for the average person. When investing that same amount at a moderate interest rate of 5%, a 22-year savings account will equal approximately $204,000. And $89,000 of that is money the bank payed you. Now 22 years is a long time, but if you start investing at 18, you will have a golden nest-egg ready to hatch by 40.
Some Churches will squander your money lobbying government to further their own agenda, while paying no tax. Instead of donating money to a church (which spends a percentage of your money on worthy causes, and the rest proselytizing), give directly to secular and humanitarian groups having low managerial overhead, and no secondary agenda. Notable groups include: • Doctors Without Borders (also Médecins Sans Frontières) • The Nature Conservatory and World Wildlife Fund • Amnesty International • United Nation’s Children's Fund No matter how you choose to spend your money, avoid giving it to churches or anyone else with an expensive administrative process. Encourage your parents to read about other noble causes and support those instead. Where possible, donate directly to the people who need help. Sometimes you need look no further than your own neighborhood.
Not facts, per se, but golden guidelines for handling money: • Beggars. Those who ask for money do not have your best interests in mind. • Strangers. Never lend large sums of money to strangers. • Friends. Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend. • Lawyers. Have a lawyer read contracts that involve large sums of money before you sign anything. • Contracts. Use signed contracts when dealing with large sums of money. • Overseas. Never wire large sums of money overseas; without a direct way to wire money, there is no direct way to get that money back. • Scams. Anything that promises over 20% return is likely a scam. Find other ways to make or invest your money. • Advice. Listen to a trusted friend’s advice before making large monetary decisions.
Chugging alcohol can be fatal. When someone sips too much Ethanol Entertainment, call emergency services immediately. It is no rumor that adults prefer meeting stomach-pumped teenagers in the hospital than dead ones on their kitchen floor. Clues when someone needs a ride in the meat-wagon: • confusion; • vector spewing; • violent, or dangerous anger; • skin changes: pale, blue tinge, or cold and clammy; • seizures (major or minor uncontrolled trembling); and • shallow breathing (fewer than 12 breaths per minute). Short-term alcohol effects can cause fetal damage during pregnancy. Long-term toxic effects of excessive alcohol abuse include disease, strokes, sleep disorders, weight gain, kidney stones, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and higher susceptibility to infection, colds, and cancer.
Random cigarette facts: • Urea, the main substance in urine, is added for flavor. • Smoking while aroused removes blood from the penis. • Nicotine might reduce arousal in women. • Smoking takes 14 years off your life, on average. • 4.5 trillion cigarette butts become litter every year. • 1.1 billion people smoke cigarettes. Like alcohol, smoking cigarettes while pregnant causes birth defects such as mental and physical disability, slower growth, and increases the chance of miscarriages. Yeah, yeah, you already know all this crap. And you don’t care. If you must light up, at least respect that other people do not want their health to deteriorate because of second-hand smoke. Keep your distance and avoid smoking near children.
Marijuana is also called cannabis, 420, grass, hash, herb, weed, wacky tabacky, pot, dank, dope, doobie, killer, El diablo, Mary Jane, rainy day women, swag, buds, trees, and tweeds. It is a psychoactive drug and used for medicinal purposes. It is great for pain relief, and counters the nauseating effects of chemotherapy. The Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that occasional and low cumulative marijuana use is not associated with negative effects on lung capacity. To be clear: it is stupid to ingest any form of marijuana (or alcohol) before or while operating heavy machinery. To be even more clear: smoking anything, be it marijuana or cigarettes, can lead to cancer (such as testicular cancer). Be wary! Consuming 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes could result in an overdose. (Normally, marijuana cannot kill you.) Many drugs are highly addictive and will cut your life short. If you want to experiment with hard drugs (which is insanely stupid because they probably have detrimental long-term effects on the only thing that prevents stupidity: your brain), only do so with someone trustworthy and experienced.
Catholic missionaries wanted to prevent pagans from worshipping other gods, so they suppressed the use of mushrooms. Mostly because the Spanish Catholics believed mushrooms allowed Aztecs to communicate with devils. Probably a translation error. In converting people to Catholicism, the Spanish influenced people to switch from shrooms to eating symbolic Jesus-fleshwafers. From the Shroomery (an unbiased source, obviously):
There are no known long term physical effects from ingestion of mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin.
Mushrooms (the magic variety) are fungi that, after consumption, cause a person to experience illusions through the senses. Common hallucinogens include psilocybe cubensis, psilocybe subaeruginascens, and amanita muscaria. The active chemicals in psilocybin mushrooms are psilocybin and psilocin, while the active chemical in the amanita muscaria is muscimol. These fungi are considered powerful hallucinogens capable of creating lifealtering mental experiences. When Tamarins and Komondors color out neapolitan Faraday cages, walk lengthways as vacuums next ontological mayhem mourning. Tramp-o-smear, tramp-o-smear, kingsail! Oooh...
Masturbation is giving yourself physical pleasure, often (but not always) to achieve orgasm. For males: • Stroke your penis. For females: • Rub your clitoris. Other than taking up your time (doing something fun), there are few drawbacks to masturbation. You palms will not grow hairy, you will not go blind, nor will any other ridiculous claims occur. Masturbation is perfectly healthy (but not to excess). Nope, there is nothing wrong with masturbation. Be back later. Meanwhile, back in 2006, a McGill University study measured the sexual arousal rates of both men and women. On average, men and women take about 10 minutes to reach maximum arousal. Note: In the first version of this book, this page perpetuated an outdated, inaccurate stereotype about female arousal. While intended as humorous sarcasm, it promoted a sexist attitude.
Pornography (also shortened to porn or pr0n) is visual material, such as streaming video, that illustrates sexual activity. Pro-tip: Use your web browser's private browsing feature. There is nothing wrong when consenting adults make porn. Be aware that the porn stars are portraying fictional situations. They may also have prepared their bodies for certain sexual acts prior to being filmed (see also: anal sex). Before recreating (Internetinspired) sex acts with your partner, always ask for your partner's permission. If they say no, then respect that decision. Never coerce or manipulate someone into doing something that they are not comfortable doing. Non-consensual sex is rape, punishable by jail time. You may withdraw consent anytime. False accusations of rape are equally as immoral and unethical as rape. Learn about accidental rape. Too long? Didn't read? • Do not use alcohol to lower a person's inhibitions. • Do not secretly place drugs in another person's drink. • If you were raped, you did nothing wrong; tell someone.
Sexual intercourse offers more than weight loss and healthy teeth. A few great reasons not to abstain: • Longevity – Two orgasms per week lowers risk of death. • Emotions – Absorbed semen is a natural antidepressant. • Rejuvenation – Orgasmic oxytocin helps cell regeneration. • Confidence – More love equates to higher self-esteem. • Cancer – Sex reduces prostate and breast cancer risk. • Pain relief – Endorphins and morphine are close cousins. • Estrogen – The more she has sex, the more she wants it. • Sleep – Fall asleep faster and deeper; awake refreshed. A wide-awake, well-rounded, emotionally steady, confident individual busting with zeal is zero bad. Have frequent sex, but be responsible: use condoms and contraceptives. If you have sex with multiple partners, get checked for sexually transmitted diseases on a regular basis.
Contrary to Monty Python’s ear-worming tune, not every sperm is sacred. Condoms, when used properly, significantly reduce the chances that a man will impregnate a woman while they are having vaginal intercourse. They also reduce the risk of giving or receiving sexually transmitted diseases. The Catholic Church incorrectly believes that the indiscriminate use of condoms encourages promiscuity, and does not endorse their use to combat AIDS. We already know that people are going to be promiscuous with or without condoms because orgasms feel great! Condom use encourages people to plan pregnancies, form deeper bonds through more acts of intimacy, and allows sex to be much more pleasurable without the worry of pregnancy (or spreading disease) hanging over the lovers. If you cannot afford condoms, or the idea of free condoms sounds better than paying for protected sex, visit any of these locations: • pregnancy planning centres; • STI and STD health clinics; • county health departments; and • campus health centres.
Anal sex (sodomy) is a morally bereft act performed by Catholic priests on little children against their will. Between two consenting adults, anal sex can be a pleasurable sexual experience, an expression of trust, and a little bit kinky. (Once in the stink, keep it out of the pink: avoid E. coli infection!) When improperly performed, anal sex can be dangerous. A ripped rectum is a rather embarrassing way to be hospitalized and can lead to serious bacterial infections. Inside tips to get you going: • Be clean – Shower or bathe before getting dirty. • Lube it – Smear water-based lubricant on the anus. Use more lube than you think is necessary. And a bit more. • Suit up – Put on a condom. Gasp! • Stretch – Before inserting anything big into a butt, insert something small, such as a finger. This will help relax the sphincter and give you a stinky finger. • Stop! – If the person receiving whispers, says, moans, or screams for you to stop, you stop. Exit slowly. Respect. Warning: There might be some poop when exiting the exit.
Embryogenesis is the name given to the process that begins with sperm bumping into an egg and ends when a fetus is formed. There are many observable stages to embryogenesis: day 1 is fertilisation, day 2 is cleavage, day 3 is compaction, day 4 is differentiation, day 5 is cavitation, and so on. Some people believe that human life gets a soul at conception. Except for when Saint Alphonsus Liguori, in the 18th century, pulled from his derriere the idea that a fetus receives a soul around 40 days after conception, and thus abortion was acceptable within during that period. When exactly does a blastocyst, zygote, or fetus receive a soul? One can easily state human life begins at conception, or the soul is bestowed sometime in the first 40 days, or babies are assigned a soul at birth. To the inquisitive, rational mind the question of when is imperative. The Catholic Church will not, and arguably can not, be specific about when the soul is bestowed. Even if Catholics fingered the soul-bestowing moment during pregnancy, the soul is a metaphysical concept, and conveniently said to be beyond scientific inspection.
Genetics urge all animals to meet, greet, and mate. This is true of birds, mammals, reptiles, spiders and people who believe that religion is just fairytales and fan fiction. However, life is not all storm clouds and meadow muffins: we make our own purpose. We can choose to make more happiness in the world; choose to contribute to humanity’s progress. We can look at morality in terms of how much happiness we create, or how much pain and suffering we can wipe from existence. Renown astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shared his purpose:
I remain unconvinced that anything other than rapid decomposition is the fate of my body and mind after death. I've accomplished enough in life so that I do not fear death. In fact, I've left instructions for my epitaph—a quote from the educator, Horace Mann: “Be Ashamed to Die, Until You Have Scored Some Victory for Humanity.” That's the creed I live by. And will die by.
This set of ethics, philosophy, and morality is called Secular Humanism. Secular humanists act in ways that promote the happiness and well-being of everyone. They believe that there is no god to save humanity, so humanity must save itself. That is a noble purpose.
Morals are the concepts, standards, and rules we choose to follow. Morals depend on how a person interprets what it means to be a decent, well-rounded, and good individual. The notion of decency, or goodness, is influenced by experience, parents, peers, culture, and society. This means that everybody has different moral standards. Yet, to function as a just, rational, and decent society, most people adhere to a few common morals: • respect the lives, liberties, and values of others; and • treat all people equally, regardless of differences. Modern research indicates that no single part of the brain is responsible for moral decisions. Moral judgements stem from different parts of the brain collaborating together. When societies learn morality from biblical texts that extol torture, persecution, and genocide, the resulting population veers towards war, exploitation, slavery, famine, and inequality.
Ethics (moral philosophy) concerns categorizing, discussing, and offering ideas about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Utilitarianism holds that correct (or “good”) actions maximize happiness. Ethics includes meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Questions to help clarify their differences: • Meta-ethics – What does good mean? • Normative ethics – What actions should we take? • Applied ethics – Are gods necessary for objective morality? Theists argue that morality is meaningless without a god and, consequently, atheists have no moral foundation. Even if we pretend that gods do exist, the position is unfounded. Morals can be asserted through contractarianism many ways, including: • Self-defense needs neither rationalization nor justification. • Community defenses and benefits surpass nomadic exile. • Agreeing to societal rules rewards communal privileges. Further, societal rules defined by secular ethics improve over time; whereas, morality based on biblical texts does not.
The expression “I’ve got nothing to hide” is deeply encumbered with flawed reasoning. The expression presumes that privacy is about hiding a wrong, but privacy is not about hiding illegal acts. Privacy means not installing a public video camera above your toilet, or keeping birthday present purchases secret. A curt retort to “if you've nothing to hide” is “that's none of your beeswax.” Without privacy, governments will abuse knowledge, rather than serve its people. The nothing to hide argument invites: • Surveillance – Privacy erosion gives governments the ability to learn anything about us. • Aggregation – Small pieces of information can form a big picture about your life. • Exclusion – Who may audit how the information is used? • Exploitation – Will information collected for one purpose be used for another purpose (without permission)? • Distortion – Who guarantees the data will not be changed? • Corruption – Vindictive, malfeasant politicians retaliate.
Lies and Deceit
Atheists do not hate god any more than Christians hate unicorns. A question atheists ask, though, is: Of the thousands of gods that humans have ever believed, why must one specific god exist while the gods of other societies must not? (See: Pascal’s Wager.) Historically, gods may have become so culturally pervasive due to societal cohesion, rather than scripture. Early societies had two main threats: internal lawlessness and external warfare. Religion motivated individuals to put societal needs first, including self-sacrifice for the greater good. The idea that religion evolved because it was useful for social structure hinges on natural selection for groups as well as individuals—a controversial concept. Around 1750 BCE, the first known creation myth, Enûma Eliš, was carved into stone tablets by Babylonians, using cuniform writing. Their mythology tells of our origins in tales of Apsû and Tiamat, which predates biblical origins tales by 500 years or so. Proving that Apsû does not exist is the same as proving that God does not exist. Fortunately, proving the existence of either God or Apsû is the burden of those who say they exist.
An abortion is a pregnancy that is terminated before the fetus can survive outside the womb. For a large part of its history, the Catholic Church did not regard early term abortions as sinful. In the book Freakonomics, the authors showed that giving women the ability to choose when to bring a baby into the world results in lower crime rates. The reason is that young adults (in their twenties) in lower socioeconomic classes are more likely to commit crimes. When women of this class have abortions, they reduce the number of potential criminals. Twenty years after the legalization of abortion, crime waves that were predicted never materialized. Some religious people claim abortions are unacceptable for biblical reasons; some religions preach that miscarriages are abortions. In both cases, rational thought and reason is ignored in favor of superstition and fallacious appeals to tradition. Consider these circumstances: • Rape – A woman who is raped should not be forced to carry the rapist's spawn to term. (Women get raped by both strangers and people they know, including family.)
• Genetic disorders – If the zygote shows signs of genetic deformity, it seems cruel to prevent a woman from ending the pregnancy. Kinder to allow her to attempt to conceive a healthier, viable offspring. (Sometimes, though, defects cannot be detected until too far into the pregnancy.) • Safety – Criminalizing abortion will not prevent women from getting abortions. It will make abortions more dangerous. • Complications – Pregnancies can endanger the woman's life; sometimes the only way to save her is by terminating the pregnancy. As of 2010, statistically speaking, 24 weeks is the earliest age a fetus from a preterm birth has a greater than 50% chance of survival. An infant born in the 23 or 24 week of gestation has a 16% chance of survival and 64% chance of serious disability (such as brain damage and blindness). Amillia Taylor is reported as being born (on October 24 , 2006) after 21 weeks and 6 days. However, when her gestation period is calculated using the more common method—her mother's last menstrual period—she is no longer a statistical anomaly. Amillia was born after 23 weeks and 6 days of gestation; she is healthy. The earliest premature baby in the world was born after 21 weeks and 5 days in gestation. James Elgin Gill survived and is healthy. Amillia and James were exceptional babies.
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Abstinence means, among other things, choosing to avoid sexual intercourse. It is the assertion that the only way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy is to refrain from sex. Mitigate your life's risks. Proponents of abstinence argue abstaining from vaginal intercourse. As a result, many Catholic teens experiment with everything except vaginal intercourse: oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, dry humping, burtreynolds, and other sexual acts. Sexual acts can result in the transmission of diseases. Abstinence-only education incorrectly teaches that condoms and contraceptives do not work, or increase risk. This makes it easier to justify the dangerously misguided view that abstinence is the only solution. Erroneously teaching that contraceptives and condoms are “risky” results in people not properly protecting themselves from exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. It is natural and expected that people will have sex. Without practical sex education, women are at risk of becoming pregnant and both partners risk contracting STIs. Learn about condoms and contraceptives. Use them as instructed when having sexual intercourse or sexual relations.
Homosexuality is the emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction with a person (or people) of the same physical sex. When a woman is primarily attracted to other women, she is considered a lesbian. Most men get sexually aroused watching two women make out. When a man is attracted to other men, he is considered gay, although sometimes gay can refer to lesbians, too. In the past, the word “gay” meant happy or joyful. Straight women are equally aroused by all human sexual activity, and sometimes by watching monkey sex. Homosexuality is as much a choice as being born with red hair is the baby's choice. Homosexuality is biological: any discrimination must be considered and denounced as bigotry and hate speech. In Leviticus (the Old Testament), the Bible states that shrimp and homosexuality are abominations, the latter worthy of death: • Leviticus 20:13 – If a man also lie with mankind... both of them have committed abomination. • Leviticus 11:9-12 – Shrimp is an abomination. • Leviticus 11:21 – Insects have four legs. The Bible can be a destructive source of morality because it is contradictory, unethical, hypocritical, and promotes ignorance.
Papal infallibility means that under certain conditions the Roman Pontiff (the Pope) cannot err when teaching about faith or morals. This is called speaking ex cathedra and its conditions include: • The Pope must speak as the pastor and teacher of all Christians (cum omnium Christianorun pastoris et doctoris munere fungens). • The teaching must define a doctrine of faith or morals (doctrinam de fide vel moribus). • The doctrine must be accepted by the universal Church (universa Ecclesia tenendam). • The Roman Pontiff must define the proposed doctrine for acceptance by the whole Church (definitive actu proclamat). Whether any ex cathedra statements exist is debatable. The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption have been cited as ex cathedra statements. Regardless, the Church attempted to cover this nonsense with Canon Law 749 § 3, which states:
No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.
To be true, a doctrine must first be declared infallible before its infallibility is manifestly evident, which is circular reasoning.
A creed is a formal statement of beliefs lies shared by a religious community, which includes belief in ghosts, spirits, or zombies. The Nicene Creed concludes with the following passage:
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Upon death, the human body gradually decomposes as follows:
• Day 1 to 2 – Body temperature drops; muscular tissues become rigid. • Day 1 to 2 – Small carrion insects join in, looking to feast upon flesh. • Day 2 to 4 – Cell structure begins decaying; stomach bacteria proliferate. • Day 2 to 4 – Maggots and gas rupture the skin, starting a rapid decay cycle.
While alive, the heart circulates blood. The blood grabs oxygen from the lungs and nutrients from the stomach then distributes those items to other organs, which prevent decay from starting. Humans replenish stomach nutrients by eating plants (that absorb energetic sunlight). Once decomposition starts, reversal (resurrection) is only possible by adding energy to fix problems caused by decay and death. Of the following ideas regarding rebooting an inanimate corpse, consider what is more likely:
1. Of all creatures throughout space and time, one particular human was infused with supernatural maggot-zapping, flesh-repairing go-go juice. 2. Spontaneous reanimation of the dead violates physical laws, making the resurrection story of Jesus Christ (and others) more fairytale than fact.
Divine resurrection never happened; the creed is unfounded.
Traditionally, catechisms are manuals written in a question-andanswer format, wielded by the religious to indoctrinate people through rote memorization, often to force beliefs upon children. Indoctrination deters questions and critical thought while it implants unproven, fallacious, and prejudiced beliefs:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Belief is learned by either proof (providing decisive evidence) or indoctrination (exerting psychological pressure). Psychologically, young children tend to believe their parents are authorities on everything from egg prices to life's meaning. Parents must be cautioned against imposing religious beliefs on their children. Embedded within Religious Upbringing Reconsidered is this gem:
We have put to sleep a central part of the child’s personality – the ability to think rationally in a certain area. Put dramatically: there is always hope so long as the mind remains free, however much our behaviour may be forced or our feelings conditioned. But if we occupy the inner citadel of thought and language, then it is difficult to see how a person can develop or regain rationality except by a very lengthy and arduous course of treatment. Indoctrinating takes over his personality in a much more radical way than anything we do by way of force or conditioning.
Indoctrination is difficult to justify under any circumstances.
Creationism is the belief that an omnipotent being is responsible for setting into motion the events that directed humanity, or even life itself, to where it is today. Creationists pretend that their beliefs are valid by wrapping them in a thin veil of pseudo-scientific nonsense and attempt to pass it off as valid scientific theory. They now call it Intelligent Design and, quite loosely, it states that complex things (such as the human eye) cannot be explained by natural selection because all the parts that make up this fully working complex thing need to be in place at the same time. Complexity and design are not the same thing. The Nike “swoosh” logo is simple and designed, while a winding river path is complex but not designed. The only true part is that evolution does not create all the parts of complex things simultaneously and instantaneously. Evolution recycles existing parts by adapting them for new purposes. Sometimes these parts become slightly more complex in their new role. The Designer of Intelligent Design is not necessarily a god but could be an advanced alien civilization. This then raises the infinite regression, “What designed the designer?”
Christian Apologetics attempt to rationalize and defend Christian faith and the Bible. Given that it is morally wrong to: • deliberately slaughter men, women, and children; • hold women captive for slavery, sex, or both; • force people to cannibalize friends and family; • practice any kind of human sacrifice; and • torture people because of their beliefs. Then whomever claims to have committed such atrocities (god or human) is as reprehensible as the acts themselves. Consider:
• Genesis 7:23 – Every living thing on the face of the Earth was wiped out. • Numbers 31:17-18 – Save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. • Jeremiah 19:9 – I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters. • Judges 11:30-39 – I will sacrifice [my daughter] as a burnt offering. • Revelation 14:10-11 – They will be tormented with burning sulphur...
Defending these acts demands calling into question the morals of the defenders. Yet innumerable hours of thought have gone into justifying such acts. Eventually the Church capitulated, declaring that the cruel Old Testament laws were no longer binding on Christians because laws did not lead to salvation. So it goes.
Religious sins are supposedly unchanging, universal rules dictated by gods. Yet these inflexible rules have flexed over time. (For example, not raising a child Catholic was once considered sinful.) The concept of sin must therefore be based on human advancement and adaptation, rather than godly pronouncement. The seven deadly sins are said to be: • Lust – Scratch this off the list. Humans are animals, animals have a natural desire for sex. Thought-sex is healthy. • Gluttony – It is okay to indulge every once in a while, but try not to be wasteful. • Greed – Wealthy Catholics, anyone? • Sloth – Some people sleep in because they are up late. • Wrath – Even Mister Rogers said that it's okay to be angry. • Envy – Rarely accomplishes anything positive; breathe deep, move on. • Pride – Boasting is somewhat arrogant, but if you think you created something worthwhile, there's no harm in smiling.
Corinthians 14:34-35 reads, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” This progressive attitude and traditional interpretation of the Bible has kept women out of priesthood for centuries. Some people still think that women are not permitted to be priests (or ministers) because, according to Genesis, they were not created for that purpose. Others insist that it should not happen because it has not yet happened. Try to wrap your mind around that illogical buckshot. Perhaps they were smoking weed when coming up with such iron-clad reasoning. Or perhaps the Catholic Church is a male dominated patriarchy unwilling to yield its financial power to the gender that would be most likely to protect youth from harm? That’s not to say that all men want to molest little children and all women are pure of heart. There are male ordained Catholic priests who believe all forms of child abuse should be stopped. It would certainly be nice if more of them shared the names of known child rapists with the police; and nicer still if whomever is appointed to protect the children wasn't also guilty of manufacturing child pornography.
Cults and Sects
Next to the Catholic Church, this is perhaps the biggest swindle in the entire world, possibly the galaxy. Operation Clambake notes:
The Church of Scientology is a vicious and dangerous cult that masquerades as a religion. Its purpose is to make money. It practices a variety of mind-control techniques on people lured into its midst to gain control over their money and their lives. Its aim is to take from them every penny that they have and can ever borrow and to also enslave them to further its wicked ends.
The Church of Scientology must be stopped, dismantled, and forgotten. (The people perpetuating its crimes are also its victims.) Approach Scientologists with caution and distrust. They will lie about you, frame you for crimes, lock your finances up in artificial legal battles, bribe or coerce police officers and judges, turn your family and friends against you, listen in on your telephone calls, spy on you, commit fraud, steal private documents, blackmail you, threaten your life, and possibly kill you. They have mastered manipulation and brainwashing. Read about Paulette Cooper's experience for details. Cult and religious power must be restricted or eliminated.
The People’s Temple, founded in 1955 by an Indianapolis preacher named James Warren Jones (who lacked formal theological training and thought himself a prophet) asked his congregation to move with him to Guyana, in South America. By 1977, his cult of 1200 people lived under his socio-communistic regime in Jonestown. Concerned cult member relatives asked the United States government to investigate and intervene. In late 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown, but violent threats ended his trip early. While boarding the plane, Jonestown guards shot at Ryan, killing him and four others; a few people escaped the slaughter. Once Jones learned of the escape, he convinced cult members that the government would retaliate by taking away and then torturing their children and seniors. Jones “foresaw” they had no recourse but suicide. Parents subsequently fed their children a mix of tranquilizers, sedatives, and cyanide. Most adults followed suit, concluding with 918 deaths, including those who were shot. Cult and religious power must be restricted or eliminated.
Eschatology, resembling Ragnarǫk in Norse mythology, is a concern of people who think that history's final events are in motion: death, judgement, heaven, and hell. While lacking rational justification, eschatology permeates Bahá'í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish faiths. This has resulted in at least one unfortunate event: the Waco Siege. In early 1993, agents from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms decided to search the Branch Davidian ranch called the Mount Carmel Center. A gun-fight ensued, which was followed by a deadly 50-day siege that was started by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Vernon Wayne Howell (renamed David Koresh) was the sect leader of the Branch Davidians: a Protestant sect that formed from the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists. Adventists believe the remains of a long-dead carpenter will reanimate to create an Earth free from “sin.” Koresh believed this prophecy would be fulfilled near Waco, Texas; he believed that he was a prophet of the Christian god and used his belief to manipulate his followers. A fire destroyed the compound ending the siege, culminating in 76 deaths, including 17 people under the age of 17. Cult and religious power must be restricted or eliminated.
The mentally deranged Joseph Di Mambro wanted to help humanity prepare for the second coming of Jesus, the solar godking. The cult members combined Protestant Christianity, New Age philosphy, and adapted Freemason rituals. In October of 1994, three month old Emmanuel Dutoit was stabbed to death with a wooden stake. The murder is thought to have been ordered because Di Mambro identified the baby as the biblical Anti-Christ. Shortly thereafter, the suicides and murders of cult members began. Between 1994 and 1997, around 74 deaths took place. Farewell letters stated that through death the victims would escape from hypocrisy and oppression. Oh, and Joseph, lunatic that he was, somehow managed to convince those whom he brainwashed that their final destination was Sirius—the night’s brightest star. Cult and religious power must be restricted or eliminated.
Marshall Applewhite believed himself to be directly related to Jesus. He and his cult members were convinced that the Earth was about to be recycled, and that the only way to survive was to leave it immediately. You can find recordings of their nutty psychobabble saved on YouTube. Applewhite claimed that a space craft was trailing comet HaleBopp. In late March of 1997, he urged his followers to commit suicide so that their souls could board the craft. They were truly brainwashed into believing they had to leave Earth as quickly as possible. Including Applewhite’s, 39 deaths were counted, poisoned by cyanide and arsenic. Cult and religious power must be restricted or eliminated.
Buddhism is more a philosophy than religion and has some good things going for it. Siddhãrtha Gautama (Buddha) reputedly said that you should not believe in anything simply because it is: • often repeated, as in oral tradition; • tradition, handed down for many generations; • in scripture (the Bible, Qur’ān, or Buddhist texts); • conjecture, like a guess or estimate; • taught by a teacher; or • thought to be common sense. Rather, Buddha suggested that when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. Whether you prescribe to the rest of Buddhism, or not, these principles are sound. Buddhism declares that part of life is suffering, and all suffering can be overcome through the mind. Buddhism encourages constant evaluation and development of morality, focus, and wisdom—that life's struggles can be overcome.
Catholicism is founded on fear. The pulpits support indoctrinated preachers as they threaten congregations with eternal damnation for sin. There are some problems with this: • Sin is hogwash. • There is no Hell, no Heaven, and no Purgatory. • Humans have no soul that can be damned for all eternity. • Threatening people is morally and ethically wrong. Thousands of Catholic priests rape, beat, fondle, manipulate, and scar children. The Pope, with his audacious, arrogant, and hypocritical prowess oversaw the Vatican as it remained unhelpful during child abuse investigations. This is not a religion. It is a scandalous cult intent on controlling the masses to serve its own diabolical, perverse desires. It is a repulsive, wrathful, acrimonious, chronic, abhorrent, detestable, scatological, callous, and endemic immoral atrocity that evokes visions of Holocaust brutality. An investigative report is available online: http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/pdfs
Many Christians buy into the idea of eternal suffering, which keeps adherents docile and obedient. Worse, Christianity terrorizes children with horrors that await them after death. Knowingly lying to children ranks among the most deplorable acts, fourth in line after sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Kindergarten children should be told the truth, instead:
Jesus loves me! Some say so. Where's the proof? Well, I don't know! Teaching children through a song, Brainwashing sung all day long! Christ is dated, don't you know? My young mind's empirical. Once was blind, but now I see: Faith is priestly fantasy. Toss religion, it's no good, Let's explore your neighborhood! Twinkling starlight, I am glad, For the time that we have had. Light I see from you today, Travelled such a long, long way. We all have one life to live, While the Sun has heat to give. On the Earth, from far and wide, Evolution's on your side. Stardust starts where life begins, Gravity pulls it all in. Planets form, it takes no skill. Nature's rules are quite a thrill. Asteroids are hard to see, When they strike they are deadly. We don't need to ever pray, Wasting time is not the way. Science works, it sets us free To research reality.
Egotistical is the belief that the creator of the universe is vitally concerned with your sex life. Arrogant is the belief that a god created the entire universe for one religious affiliation of one species out of millions on one planet out of billions.
Jehovah Witnesses engage in detrimental behaviors: • Anti-Homosexuality – Alan Turing helped protect freedom. • End Times – If the world will end soon, why recycle? • The Anointed – Believing societal laws can be trumped by the word of God places believers beyond critique. • Anti-Abortion – Women must have the right to decide when it is appropriate to bring a new life into the world. • Anti-Masturbation – Women can learn to orgasm by masturbating; masturbation helps control premature ejaculation in men. Both lead to healthy sex lives. • Abhor Unnatural Sex – Oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, 69, doggy-style, reverse cowgirl, Hawaiian muscle rubs, bondage play, and other sexual activities are perfectly normal. As long as the act is mutually acceptable, and does no permanent physical or psychological harm, who cares what goes on behind closed doors? • Anti-Transfusion – Doctors save lives through blood transfusions, but Jehovah would rather you die than “try to sustain life by taking in blood.”
In the beginning (the late 1920s), there was a man named Frankie Manning. Frankie said unto his friends: dance. Jazz music had swung through the United States. The Lindy Hop was the buzz of the towns. People were happy, except for one thing... At the large dance halls, such as the Savoy Ballroom, there were ropes that divided the black dancers from the white dancers. The trouble with dancers is that they are often young and rebellious. The white women wanted to dance with everyone. Studs. The black men wanted to dance with everyone. Sluts. The white men couldn’t dance. The black women stood around looking hot. The trouble was that these people didn’t see ethnicity. They heard only the music; in their hearts they only wanted to swing-out with another person. Skin color didn’t matter; so why the ropes? Quite quickly, the ropes were jumped. Black and white people danced with one another: the walls of segregation started to splinter. Since then, Lindy Hop has enlivened social scenes, introduced prospective lovers, financially supported musicians, given people a fun reason to exercise, formed compassionate communities, taught humility, put smiles on faces around the world, and held fundraisers for worthy causes. Lindy Hoppers also rebelled against Nazis.
It is a curious coincidence that gods publish scripture using only the technology available to the ancients: first by word of mouth, then by the printing press. The Bible originated as follows: 1. Ancient humans swap myths. 2. People plagiarize ancient stories, claiming divine origins. 3. Stories are circulated by oral tradition. 4. Scribes write hearsay versions, from memory. 5. Scriptures are hand-copied, errors are introduced. 6. Some scriptures are assembled into the Torah. 7. The first Bible is crafted from Jewish texts and new scriptures. 8. The Bible is hand-copied from Greek, more errors introduced. 9. Leaders add or remove texts, then destroy previous versions. 10. New version is hand-copied, introducing more errors. 11. Printing press prevents further copying errors. 12. Bible is organized into chapters and verses.
This book, the primary religious literature of Islam, is blindly believed by Muslims to be the incontrovertible word of Allāh. The Qur’ān does not explicitly condemn slavery nor does it offer helpful suggestions of abolish it. Moreover, the book declares that sexual relations are permitted between masters and their slaves. Defenders of this trite will note that the contemptible behavior was widely acceptable practise among early Muslims. The Qur’ān also gives permission for men to keep female concubine-slaves. That millions of people could not see a grave injustice does not mean god-written rights of slavery were ever a correct moral choice. Religious myopia is the gateway to immoral actions. Here are glaring problems: 1. Islamic faith is so socially entrenched that believers are uncomfortable even addressing the aberration of slavery. If slavery is wrong it means that their god passed along a controvertible oopsie. 2. Moral lessons from an omniscient being should have predicted emancipation and explicitly advocated for it. The Qur’ān is no more the word of Allāh than this book.
Book of Shadows
Around 1950, the first Book of Shadows was written by a Wiccan. The book contains religious text and magic ritual instructions. Traditionally, each group of witches has their own Book of Shadows. Of pinnacle importance is the Wiccan Rede (advice for witchcraft), which states:
An it harm none, do what ye will.
Translated into Swedish Chef-speak:
Du vhetefer yuoo vunt, es lung es yuoo coose-a nu herm.
Translated into concise English:
Harm nothing; enjoy life.
Wicca is harmless fantasy when not taken seriously. Yet, like other cults and religions, the potential for bad consequences abounds. Wiccans believe magic can affect quantum probabilities and other nonsense. When job hunting, someone could conjure an intricate spell to improve the likelihood of finding work. Time spent casting the spell would be better spent looking elsewhere for jobs because incantations will have no effect. A woman might try to decrease her chances of getting pregnant through special enchantments. The results could be a trip to the abortion clinic or 18 years of doting on an unplanned child. Magic has no effect on reality, no matter how fun it is to believe.
With much revulsion and contempt, the Catholic Church has provided the most abominable example of religion’s incongruity and hypocrisy. Sodomy is called a sin (probably owing to its homosexual implications), yet hundreds of Catholic priests have been observed to perform it on children. Think carefully. Where was God in all this? Where was the God who is angry at homosexuals but allows priests to sodomize under-aged boys until those children bleed? Or how about expecting children to eat their own vomit, mixed with mould? Or neglecting children until starvation drives them to eat ointment used for treating boils? Or supplying nought but newspaper and rags for girls during menstruation? Or forcing child labor under brutal conditions? Or brainwashing them with religious excrement to the detriment of a solid education? Every time religious propaganda is taught to children, precious time is taken from their education about the real, natural world. Degenerates must expect wrath when an organization claims to be a moral authority, yet is found to have inflicted unfathomable amounts of abuse, suffering, and mental stagnation on children.
From the CICA Report Vol. III Confidential Committee:
Form of Sexual Abuse Inappropriate fondling Enforced nakedness Vaginal rape Forced masturbation Attempted rape Kissing Vaginal penetration by objects Digital penetration Oral/genital contact Indecent exposure Anal rape Other Total Reports 102 52 27 22 15 14 10 8 7 6 3 8 274
Table 1: Forms & Reported Frequency of Reported Female Sexual Abuse
Form of Sexual Abuse Inappropriate fondling Masturbation of abuser by child Use of violence Anal rape Masturbation of child by abuser Oral/genital contact Non-contact abuse Attempted rape Kissing Digital penetration Total
Reports 183 89 88 68 50 30 25 14 12 6 565
Table 2: Forms & Reported Frequency of Reported Male Sexual Abuse
In her 1979 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Agnes Bojaxhiu said:
These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself. And also, we are doing another thing which is very beautiful - we are teaching our beggars, our leprosy patients, our slum dwellers, our people of the street, natural family planning.
The Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta, India does not attempt to save lives. It is a morose haven for the sick to suffer and die according to rules invented by the Catholic Church. No doctors, no nurses, and no friends are permitted entry. Only untrained nuns and those who suffer may enter. Agnes genuinely wanted to alleviate suffering, yet at the same time believed that suffering was necessary. These are polar agendas. Agnes wanted people to live in impoverished conditions so that she could identify with them. Her ultimate goal, therefore, was not to alleviate poverty, but to encourage it. One such encouragement was to condemn condoms. Spreading suffering is no more saintly than it is moral and ethical. Even witches declare that harming others is a no-no.
Roman Catholic Church doctrine, proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1968, forbade contraceptives. HIV infections skyrocketed in the 1980s and 1990s, killing millions. When Pope John Paul II visited Uganda in 1993, he chose to accept the epidemic rather than change the Vatican's moral doctrine; the death toll is sickening. Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) continues to speak out against condom usage, even though study (2012), after study (2011), after study (2010), after study (2009), after study (2008), after study (2007), after study (1997), after study (1994), after study (1993) concludes that condom use can significantly reduce HIV transmission. The Pope's stance has resulted in deaths of holocaust proportions; the stance is a crime against humanity. This alone is reason enough to abolish the Catholic Church, but there's more. In 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger obstructed justice by reminding bishops of Crimen Sollicitationis. This act sheltered pedophiles, silenced victims by secrecy, and bypassed police authorities by asserting the Church's right to private inquiries. Evasion of civil criminal prosecution continued into 2011. Ratzinger also wrote that “the Church must make claims and demands on public law,” chipping the wall of separation between Church and State. A wall Thomas Jefferson established in writing “religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God.”
The New Testament is filled with myths, legends, internal contradictions, and historical irregularities. It contains so many falsehoods that no meaningful verification about Jesus of Nazareth (including his existence) can be extracted from the texts. Nearly all biblical scholars agree he existed. Yet the idea that Jesus never existed has been long ignored by such scholars due to conflicting theological interests and lack of incentive. The only known accounts of Jesus' birth are in the Bible gospels of Matthew and Luke. The texts disagree with the actual date. The gospels were written around 70 CE. Before 70 CE, no Jesus of Nazareth was mentioned in the works of contemporary historians and writers. Also, the first copies of the gospel of Mark didn't include the resurrection: it was added much later. If Jesus existed, scriptures show that he was much like Mohandas Gandhi, preaching non-violent civil disobedience and love. Effectively, Jesus is described as a revolutionist.
Here is what one book has to say about Maryām:
While we’ll never be perfect like Mary, our pursuit of Christ should lead us to saintliness like hers: rooted in humility, trust, service and love.
There is no such thing as a perfect human. The idea of perfection is like the notion of beauty. Everyone has opinions about what is beautiful. A perfect human would live for ten thousand years without serious ailment or injury, ace every school test ever given, be physically symmetrical from head to toe, and have six fully functional fingers on both hands and six fully functional toes on both feet. The concept of perfection is itself flawed. Beyond biblical accounts, and a few other early Christian sources, there is no independently verifiable information about any aspect of her life. The story of Mary’s perfection (her humility, trust, service, and love) is vulgar. Mary was impregnated, possibly against her will, and was praised because she accepted and endured her fate with humility. Hearken, ye women: accept being raped for it is the will of God.
Pagans enjoyed winter solstice. The Christians thought that the Pagans should worship Christ, instead. So Christians borrowed from Pagan festivals, rewrote some history books, and then converted many Pagans to Christianity. Probably under threat of persecution, purgatory, or threat of being burnt alive. Fundamentally, winter celebrations are frivolous fun. People are free to believe whatever they like (so long as it does no harm). The trouble starts when governments give preferential treatment to one religion over another. This means that neither Christmas decor nor any other religious artifacts may be put on government property. This is a difficult idea for fundamentalist Christians to accept because it involves two concepts. The first is called “fairness” and the second is called “preferential treatment”. That is, to be equitable, no religion may be given special attention.
Easter is yet another Christian theft of ideas from other cultures to ease indoctrinating non-Christians. The word Easter is actually linked to the Pagan goddess Eostre, and the celebration of warm sunshine and newborn babies. Originally, rabbits and hares were a symbol of fertility, due to how quickly they reproduced. Thus the Easter Bunny was conceived. There was no resurrection. Miracles have never been proven under any scientific test, and break the laws of known physics. Apologetics argue that miracles are the work of God, but that presupposes that God exists. There is insufficient evidence that any gods exist. Miracles cannot be used as evidence because it leads to a circular argument: God creates miracles; miracles prove God exists. And blue balls are blue because they are blue. The history of Easter eggs extends back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who also enjoyed coloring and then eating eggs during spring. Christians thought they would make a marvellous representation of Christ’s tomb. Easter itself is only mentioned in the King James translation of The Holy Bible (Acts 12:4), which is a mistranslation of Passover.
Lent begins a Catholic holiday that allows adherents to forget the horrible actions they took during the previous year by abstaining from something for forty days. They call it penance. For example, Catholics could give up chewing bubble gum, or not watch television. It was inspired by the forty days Jesus allegedly spent fasting in the desert, where neither chewing gum nor television were available. Frustrated Catholics could even give up masturbation for Lent. (It is funny because Catholics aren't supposed to masturbate. Some say jokes are not funny if you have to explain them.) Ash Wednesday is the first day of lent where people foolishly smear ashes on their forehead. Biblical cherry-picking allows them to keep the symbolic ash part, but ignore dressing up in sackcloth. Priests (or ministers) also taint the session with negative thinking:
Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.
The human body is a complex chemical machine. Some people around the world (foundations like Methuselah) do not see returning to dust as thy only conclusion. Rather, they see death as a disease to be cured.
The eight candles lit for Hanukkah are said to represent miracles, the most notable being about some long-lasting oil. The royal Hasmonean family wanted to celebrate the Maccabean victory by lighting a menorah. They had enough oil to last only one day. Allegedly, and miraculously, eight days later, the oil finally ran out. Bollocks and ballyhoo. One rational explanation for longer lasting candle light is slower burning wicks. Another is that there was actually more oil than the tale tells. Yet another explanation is that they did not let the candles burn all night. One more solution is that rabbis lied. The military success and glorification of the Maccabeans posed a threat to Roman rule (think riots). By making up a miracle, public attention was shifted from rabble rousing to piety.
When ignorant Kansas State Board of Education members mandated equal teaching time for evolution and intelligent design, Bobby Henderson wrote the Board a satirical letter suggesting that his theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) also receive equal educational time. His interpretation of life's origins gave rise to FSM worshippers, who call themselves Pastafarians. Pastafarians celebrate the winter holiday season with a holiday called Holiday. Without a specific date or specific requirements, Holiday allows each Pastafarian to celebrate it when and however desired. (Some even celebrate Pastover and Ramendan.) The non-denominational greeting of “Happy Holidays” that is quickly replacing non-secular greetings in popular culture gives weight and credence to the Pastafarian movement. Once touched by His Noodly Appendage, you will understand.
There is no such thing as the soul in the sense of an abstract, metaphysical concept. Believers will note that the soul is immaterial: its existence is not subject to empirical methods. (Otherwise, it is tempting to ask: Exactly when during evolution were humans bestowed a soul?) If an immaterial soul influences (or is somehow intertwined with) our bodies, it must exhibit a change in the electrons that comprise us (otherwise it cannot affect us and we should discard the concept of souls altogether). The Dirac Equation describes how electrons behave at normal energy levels and has been verified in every related experiment. If souls exist, then the equation is wrong and we must throw our knowledge of physics out the window. (Who needs cell phones and satellites, anyway?) The soul introduces complexity: How does the soul physically influence us? Do its interactions preserve conservation of information? What is its relationship to Lorentz invariance? These are for theists to answer, for they posit the existence of the soul. Ockham’s razor suggests we should lean towards simplicity. The natural world is simpler to describe without metaphysical souls.
Heaven & Hell
There are no such things as Heaven and Hell. They are religious inventions to keep people indoctrinated. You can motivate donkeys to move by dangling a carrot in front of them, or hitting their rump with a stick. Heaven is the ultimate carrot and Hell is the supreme stick. These ideas allow religious leaders to influence people who reject their teachings, reward those who follow them, and lend the illusion of importance to their teachings. The promise of Heaven and the threat of Hell is how followers are retained. Many religions base morality entirely around acceptance of and entrance to Heaven. In contrast, secularism prompts people to help others with the goal of reducing suffering.
There is no such thing as a miracle in the sense of a surprising event considered the work of a divine agency (as opposed to an event explicable by natural or scientific laws). Miracles are falsehoods, covered in a transparent layer of misconception and ignorance, recounted to glorify religious tenets. Miracles can also be pranks (such as faith healing), or tricks, to fool (or frighten) people into obedience through threat of supernatural powers. Even though our universe is filled with mysteries, we should neither accept those mysteries as miracles, nor end questioning the origins of those mysteries. Every mystery humans have ever solved has been shown to be governed by natural, scientific laws. When we investigate the real cause to a mystery, we learn something astounding about this spectacular universe. Leaps in knowledge are not preceded with bombastic exclamations of Eureka! but with interrobanged head-scratches partnered to the immemorial acronym... WTF‽ Attributing events to divine intervention retards humanity. Duh.
The Oxford Concise English Dictionary defines faith as follows: 1. complete trust or confidence; and 2. strong belief in a religion based on spiritual conviction rather than proof. Scientists trust empirical evidence; the two definitions are exact opposites. Lumping evidence-based belief with beliefs based on spiritual conviction together as faith-based is dishonest. Disbelief in supernatural entities is not an act of faith. It is a rational position held by the extensive evidence that natural forces created the universe. We cannot prove the Earth will continue to rotate tomorrow, but the historical, empirical, and statistical evidence justifies the belief that it will. Accepting ideas on faith curtails important questions, dissuades people from dissecting the universe, and can influence people to take actions they otherwise would not. The Salem Witch Trials involved people who accepted witchcraft accusations as true, rather than demanding substantiated empirical evidence that supported those accusations. Faith is no more a virtue than lies and threats are virtues.
Praying to a god has three possible outcomes: yes, no, and not now. These are also the answers of Magic 8-Balls. Unlike gods, a Magic 8-Ball can be wrong because an answer is actually shown immediately. If a Magic 8-Ball never revealed its answer, its prayer-answering ability would be god-like. The efficacy of prayer has never been demonstrated under scrutiny, and yet billions believe that prayers affect the world. Praying does produce two measurable effects, though: it disparages a person's locus of control and it wastes time. That time could be spent playing an instrument, exercising, understanding nature, exchanging ideas, or collaborating with others. You could help build homes, volunteer at homeless shelters, or start a double-blind study on prayer's inefficacy. When Japan was hit by a tsunami, many people prayed for them. It was a lazy, inconsiderate, ignorant, and insulting response. Devastated cities need reconstruction, food, and medicine. All of which take time, effort, and funding. Moreover, encouraging donations, rather than prayers, is a better way to spend time. Consider donating money to the Japanese Red Cross right now!
Speaking in Tongues
Languages let you express your thoughts so that other people can understand you. Read the following sentence aloud:
Our universe exists without meddling, omnipotent, omniscient entities.
Now read it aloud again. Putting aside that repetition is a form of brainwashing, chances are that you made very similar sounds both times. When people speak in tongues, the phrase, “Our universe exists without meddling, omnipotent, omniscient entities,” in their supposedly supernatural language won’t sound the same twice. The reason is because they are making it up, just like everyone else who claims to talk in meaningful gibberish. Try it: record them on your cell phone and play it back. Peer pressure is interesting. If everybody around you is doing something, it becomes socially awkward to buck the trend. The Emperor's New Clothes is a great tale of such an incident. It took a young boy to courageously tell the Emperor of the tailor's joke: the Emperor was riding completely nude through the city streets. At that point, everyone started laughing and pointing at the Emperor. (Not a nice thing to do, mind you!) Speaking in tongues is a lie to yourself and a lie to others.
Transubstantiation is a longer spelling of “fiction.” Some people believe that the delicacies consumed during the communion ritual are not merely a symbolic representation of the body and blood of Jesus, but literally (and magically!) transform into his body parts upon ingestion. Empirical evidence supports the fact that no change whatsoever takes place. Surprised? The shape, color, flavor, odor, texture, and constitution of the goodies never literally change to the body and blood of anything. Also, Penn and Teller have turned water into wine, without divine intervention. Theologians moved the goalpost to suggest that the words were spoken figuratively. After sifting through the Bible (John 6:35 and 6:53), it is clarified that eating his skin means coming to him, and sipping his juices means believing in him. After all, empirically testing transubstantiation means opinions would have to change if it turned out to be scientifically impossible (which it is).
The Roman Catholic Church is the butt of jokes. They still possess ritual books to expel evil spirits from a possessed person, place, or thing. Ooga-booga-boo! The case of the dutifully Catholic Anneliese Michel is one that Catholics would like to bury. Her story became the plot for a few movies about exorcisms. Michel suffered from epileptic seizures and hallucinations, which meant Satan possessed her, of course. She died on July 1, 1976 from malnutrition and dehydration, after having endured around ten months of partial-starvation while the exorcism was performed. At least one doctor claimed medical intervention could have spared her life up to a week before her untimely death. Her parents were found guilty of manslaughter. It is interesting to note that a Carmelite nun, based on a vision, told the parents that their daughter’s body was still intact: proof of supernatural meddling. The undisputed official reports stated the body, upon exhumation, bore signs of consistent deterioration. Your move, Satan.
Numbers have neither inherent meaning nor are they the domain of any immaterial mythical creature (such as the Antichrist or the Devil). Consider these tasty morsels from Wikipedia:
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that The Beast for which 666 stands symbolizes many unified governments, harmonizing with the symbolic depiction of past governments (denoted as "kings") in the Book of Daniel as wild beasts. Some researchers have reportedly found the number of the Beast in the Greek word Maometis. Some Protestant Bible commentators and some Protestant Reformers have equated the "beast" of Revelation chapter 13 with the Papacy. Some scholars contend that the number 666 is a code for the Roman Emperor Nero. In the Old Testament, both 1 Kings 10:14 and 2 Chronicles 9:13 state that Solomon collected "six hundred threescore and six" talents of gold each year.
The number 666 probably refers to 7:06pm, though, which is the best time to eat rice pudding: right after an early supper. Its definition hinges on mainstream social awareness. Since humans gave it meaning, humans can redefine its meaning. Henceforth, 666 means puddin’ time!
Atheists are sometimes said to be Satanists. However, atheists reject Satan just as they reject all gods, demons, and imaginary animals. Only people who actually believe in Satan can qualify as Satanists. (Those people also happen to believe in gods.) Modern public practice of Satanism began in 1966, when the Church of Satan was founded by Howard Stanton Levey (later Anton LaVey). Surprisingly, the two major trends were Theistic and Atheistic Satanism. We can chuckle at Theistic Satanists for their worship of Satan as a real supernatural deity. The Atheistic flavors idolize Satan in a symbolic sense. LaVeyan Satanism, the most well-known worship, is based on individualism, self-control, and revenge mentality. Adherents consider themselves truth-seekers, skeptics, and adversaries of religion. Peter Gilmore, a Church of Satan leader, notes:
Satanists do not believe in the supernatural, in neither God nor the Devil. To the Satanist, he is his own God. [...] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will. Thus any concept of sacrifice is rejected as a Christian aberration—in Satanism there’s no deity to which one can sacrifice.
They also believe in magic, which seats them decisively on the couch of hypocritical loopy-loos.
Purgatory is a scare tactic (a temporary punishment) used by the Catholic Church to encourage obedience in its congregations, disciples, and young adults. Neither the concept nor place of purgatory have any merit. Rather than debunk it for the insipid poppycock that it is, here are some practical tips to save the environment and money: • Vinegar – Mix one part vinegar to one part water and you have a general purpose cleaner. It is an inexpensive disinfectant and deodorizer. Great for bathrooms and kitchens. Keep it away from grout and marble. • Lemon juice – This natural acid dissolves soap scum, gives shine to brass and copper, removes hard water deposits (bathtub rings!), smells great, and can clear up garbage disposal indigestion. • Baking soda – King of the deodorizers, great abrasive cleaner, and makes volcanoes when mixed with vinegar. Purgatory cannot compare to the purifying power of vinegar.
Angels & Demons
Angels, fairies, demons, and devils all do not exist. Malevolent supernatural beings causing catastrophe is a fail-safe the pious crutch upon to discourage investigation into anything that might reveal flaws, or inconsistencies, in dogmatic religious drama. Demons, like angels, are a lazy way to hide the truth or deter questions, which can have deadly consequences (such as human sacrifices, cannibalism, and burning faggots). It is incredulous that in modern times people still believe in the devil. There is a web page that states:
Satan is not a mere force, a symbolic figure of evil, or the figment of [the] imagination. He is a real personage. There is no evidence whatsoever that we should understand him as some sort of illusion or symbol of evil.
The premises that lead to the conclusion that Satan exists are an embarrassment to the idea of empirical evidence, and laugh in the face of rational thought. Beyond overly active imaginations, no evidence proves the existence of demons, devils, spiritually possessed aardvarks, vampires that twinkle in daylight, or covert creatures that fart wetly in dark closets. Encourage honesty and honor by being honest and honorable to children, instead of continuing to spread baseless lies.
The homeopathy scam is the snake oil of modern day snake oils. Medicine works by allowing beneficial molecular compounds to interact with and change cells in your body. Homeopathy is the delusion that by mixing fewer helpful molecules into liquid, it somehow makes the remedy more effective. A recommended dilution for homeopathic “remedies” is 10
helpful molecules for
each litre of water. Learn about Avogadro's number to discover why such a ratio means that the medicine will have no effect on anything whatsoever. Proponents claim that even when the last helpful molecule is gone, a “memory” of the substance is retained. If true, every substance encountered by a water molecule might impart an “essence” that would have potent (and possibly dangerous) medicinal effects when ingested. Plus, it would mean that water “remembers” fish poop. Charming, but completely untrue. In another instance of belief without empirical evidence, belief that homeopathy can cure is a deadly position to take. Just ask Gloria Thomas, Luca Monsellato, or possibly Steve Jobs. Oh wait, you can't. They're all dead. It is incomprehensible that laws do not prevent homeopathic shams. For your own safety, don't buy it.
Child abuse is the emotional, physical, or sexual mistreatment of children. This could include neglect or improper care. Catholic priests, for example, are known to molest children, yet rather than admit to it and seek professional psychiatric care (because rape, unlike homosexuality, is morally and ethically wrong), those reprehensible priests ask the Pope to cover up their despicable, deplorable actions. For a time, the papacy instituted a policy of reporting incidents to secular authorities, however this was almost never followed in practice. Popes have an impeccable record of not reporting child abuse, often only reporting the abuse years afterwards, and generally only if it is believed that the rapist will otherwise be exposed. This makes the Pope—and anyone else who has harbored or helped assailants escape legal prosecution—equivalent to child abuser by association. As guilty and spineless as rapists themselves. Never trust anyone who belongs to a community that hides the truth about such foul, harmful, menacing deeds. If they can hide the truth about these heinous of crimes, how easy would it be for them to lie about other, lesser matters?
For guys, the tip (or “head”) of the penis is the hot spot of male pleasure, with many sensitive nerve endings craving attention. Stimulate the penis, especially the head, and an orgasm results. Then sleep. Nearly all males are born with the head of their penis surrounded by protective flesh called the foreskin. When aroused, the foreskin pulls back, exposing the tip of the penis. For gals, the clitoris (or “clit”) is the hot spot of female pleasure, with many, many sensitive nerve endings desiring attention. Stimulate the clitoris and an orgasm often results. Then cuddling. The end of the clitoris is usually tiny (cribbage peg-sized), which can make it difficult to find at first. Nearly all females are born with the clitoris covered by the clitoral hood (for protection). Arousal tends to poke the clitoris a little bit beyond its hood. Orgasms are amazing because humans evolved that way. If sex was extremely painful or damaging, we wouldn’t do it as often. Less sex means fewer pregnancies, which leads to extinction. Some religions require slicing off the foreskin at birth; other religions require cutting off the clitoris at birth. Removing the clitoris makes it practically impossible for a woman to experience sexual pleasure through orgasms. Removing the foreskin makes the head of the penis less sensitive. Both of these actions are forms of genital mutilation.
Libraries embody architecture and composition: they physically represent the idea that attaining knowledge leads to enlightenment, equality, and ethics. The ashen destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria was a terrible strike against progress, with the suspects including a Roman (Julius Caesar), a Christian (Theophilus of Alexandria), and a Moslem (Caliph Omar). Books, knowledge, and freedom of communication are tools of the oppressed. Regardless of what transpired so long ago, libraries remain with us today. The Internet and World Wide Web have become the symbolic successors to the Great Library of Alexandria: havens of logic and reason for those who seek it. Like Alexandria, people oppose the electronic world, seeking to suffocate, subvert, and silence its spread of knowledge, idealism, justice, and reality. Such opposition must not spread. When a government censors the Internet, or seizes web pages, it infringes upon the rights of its citizens, and is a futile assault on the practical application of a distributed global network. Where rationality and reason prosper, there will always be refuge for knowledge and the freedom of information.
Sometimes religious zealots ban books. Common reasons to ban books include: • they contain ideas a community fears; • a community misinterprets the content; or • they are inked with worthless hate speech. Of these reasons, banning a book because of hate speech is a good idea, as World War II exemplified. When a book is banned, however, there should be open discourse and a public review of the discussion that led to the banning decision. Quote passages from the book to highlight the rationale. Banning books because they contain ideas or situations that are uncomfortable to hear, or disagree with your unfounded, ignorant spiritual beliefs, on the other hand, are woefully insufficient reasons. In this information age, attempts to hide or suppress information becomes more famous or widespread. Perhaps fundies will prevent people from reading this book due to the following idea: Eradicate religious delusions by involving children in exciting and fun science experiments on Sundays; shirk Sunday school.
To be considered a Holy War, a conflict must achieve a religious goal, be authorized by a religious leader, or offer participants a spiritual reward. Holy Wars, which mobilize to subjugate heretics, reclaim religious lands, and avenge blasphemous acts include:
• First Jewish-Roman War (66 – 73 CE) • Muslim Conquests (632 – 732 CE) • Crusades (1095 – 1291 CE) • Inquisitions (1184 – c.1860 CE) • Ethiopian–Adal War (1529 – 1559 CE) • French Wars of Religion (1562 – 1598 CE) • Thirty Years' War (1618 – 1648 CE) • Muslim Rebellion in Chinese Central Asia (1864 – 1877 CE) • Indo-Pakistani Wars (1947, 1965, 1999 CE) • Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990 CE) • Israeli–Palestinian Conflict (1948 – 2011 CE)
Callously, Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:
So glaube ich heute im Sinne des allmächtigen Schöpfers zu handeln: Indem ich mich des Juden erwehre, kämpfe ich für das Werk des Herrn.
While not a Holy War, religious beliefs influenced the terrible events that transpired during WWII, including the holocaust. The loathsome sentiment of Martin Luther's 1543 antisemitic work On the Jews and Their Lies is echoed in that Mein Kampf passage:
So today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by resisting the Jew, I am fighting for the Lord's work.
Texas is big, religious, and has government-sanctioned death. Bibles describe situations where taking a person's life is just punishment. When communities glean morality from a book that glorifies revenge, they become indiscriminate, amoral zombies. In 1991, Todd Willingham, not the most honorable man, was sentenced to die for burning his house and three children. Critically, in 2004, just four days before Willingham’s scheduled death by injection, renown arson expert and chemist Dr. Gerald Hurst submitted a report regarding the evidence:
The fire investigation report of the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office in this case is a remarkable document. On first reading, a contemporary fire origin and cause analyst might well wonder how anyone could make so many critical errors in interpreting the evidence. However, when the report is looked at in the context of its time and in light of a few key advances that have been made in the fire investigation field in the last dozen years, it becomes obvious that the report more or less simply reflects the shortcomings in the state of the art prior to the beginning of serious efforts to introduce standards and to test old theories that had previously been accepted on faith.
The original evidence for arson was invalid. Todd Willingham was innocent. Yet Governor Rick Perry denied a stay of execution. At 6:20pm on February 17th, 2004, the United States government and the Texas Governor knowingly authorized the murder of an innocent man. On faith and superstition.
The United Nations documents the practice of predominately male family members murdering women to defend misconceived notions of family honor in Bangladesh, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, India, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Brazil, Ecuador, Uganda, and Morocco. This shameful practice is prevalent in, but not limited to, countries with a Muslim majority. Renown Islamic leaders condemn honor killings and insist the violent acts have no religious basis. Scriptures teach otherwise. Ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīth are ascribed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad (a supposed messenger of God – known in Arabic as Allāh) and are tools to understand the Qur’ān, which is the central religious text of Islam. Hadīths cite many honor killing examples, such as:
• Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (002:023-413) – A man and a woman committed adultery. The Prophet ordered them to be stoned to death. • Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (006:060-079) – The Prophet ordered two adulterers to be stoned to death. • Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (017-4206) – A woman from Ghamid and said: “Allāh's Messenger, I have committed adultery, so purify me.” And she was put in a ditch up to her chest and the Prophet commanded people to stone her.
Muslims who practice honor killing are directly motivated or influenced by hadīths. The executions take place because people abide by strict Islamic ethical codes. To claim that such murders have no religious motivation insults the memory of the victims.
Religion and Politics
Fascism is a political authoritarian ideology that aims to revitalize a nation by uniting people through arbitrary connections (such as ancestry or culture). Unification is attempted by removing foreign influences through eugenics and genocide. Genetic research unavailable during the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini has since shown that the scientific concept of genome variation is incongruent with the cultural concept of ethnicity or race. Genetically speaking, we are a single race. Prevent repeating history by recognizing fascist manifestations:
• Rampant Sexism – abortion opposition, homophobia, anti-gay legislation • Enemy Identification – race, ethnicity, religion, terrorists, political views • Disdain for Intellectuals and Arts – academia censorship • Disdain for Human Rights – torture, execution, incarcerations • Military Supremacy – disproportionate government funding • National Security Obsession – motivation by fear • Disciplinary Obsession – national police force, diminished civil liberties • Entangled Religion and Government – manipulation, religious rhetoric • Fraudulent Elections – smear campaigns, assassination, electoral control • Cronyism and Corruption – friends appointing friends in government • Repressed Labour Power – abolishment or suppression of unions • Protected Corporations – elite power, industrial aristocracy • Controlled Mass Media – censorship, sympathetic executives • Nationalist Propaganda – mottos, slogans, symbols, songs
Church & State
Separation of Church and State refers to laws that specifically prohibit the establishment of any government-sponsored religion or imposing a specific religion upon the members of that country. Religious campaigners vigorously insist that the majority should have privileged access to draft laws or influence government. They also decry government attempts to regulate or influence religious policies. The Separation of Church and State protects both sides from each other: the government cannot meddle in private religious affairs, and the population's minority is protected from religion's antiquated belief systems. Notable lawful statements about separation include:
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Catholics & Nazis
The Catholic Church is not all bad. While the Catholic Church has been accused of encouraging antisemitism, prominent members of the Jewish community have contradicted these criticisms. Still other Jewish historians found that the Catholic Church gave millions of dollars to assist Jews during World War II. Historian John Toland noted:
The Church, under the Pope’s guidance... saved the lives of more Jews than all other churches, religious institutions and rescue organizations combined.
A set of magnificent, inspiring, and noble actions: a sparkling reminder of how people ought to behave. A sword and shield set upon the dark dragon of genocide and persecution. While tempting to note that such rare gems are found in a river of filth, corruption, dishonesty, temporal waste, and moral decrepitude, let us refrain. A good deed is a good deed and truly stands alone.
Members of the Christian Right are fundamentally misinformed on subjects such as education, creationism, evolution, sex, separation of Church and State, abortion, stem cell research, and the founding of the United States of America as a Christian Nation. Fundamentalists are a pristine example of people who choose to ignore the findings that the scientific method has allowed us to discover about the natural world. For example, some 40% of Americans believe Earth is less than 10,000 years old. For irrefutable evidence that the Earth is older than 10,000 years, look up on a clear night sky. Revel in the stars and the light of the Milky Way galaxy. Light from the nearest galaxy takes well over two million years to reach Earth. If God created the universe with light already in transit, then the Catholic God is deceitful (see Romans 1:20, and 3:4). Every other argument fundamentalists or creationists use to explain the distant starlight problem has been refuted.
The fact that discrimination based on sexual orientation is without logic will have swept the world within the next decade. Most modern government constitutions, or amendments, make equality for all citizens a fundamental law:
No law shall be decreed or enforced that inhibits the privileges or protections of any citizen.
Ignoring their own laws, many countries prohibit same-sex marriage for religious reasons. Any governments that guarantee equality while offering marriage benefits (such as reduced taxes) must make the institution of marriage available to everyone. Organizations that receive government benefits (including tax exemptions, funding, or use of military resources) may not discriminate based on religious belief, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, or any other excuse. The reasoning here is painfully straightforward: 1. Governments must treat all citizens equally. 2. Governments may only support non-prejudicial organizations. 3. Therefore, Churches must marry homosexuals or forgo government support (that is, pay taxes).
Over 525,000 signed the Manhattan Declaration, released in 2009. The Declaration offers a brash misrepresentation of reality:
Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement.
Women’s rights activist Elizabath Cady Stanton was a skeptical woman, followed more for her logic than religion. Lucretia Mott opposed historic Christian doctrine and befriended atheists. Margaret Fuller was a Protestant transcendentalist who fought for women’s rights on rebellious, not religious grounds. Lucy Stone said of Christianity: “A wall of Bible, brimstone, church, and corruption has hitherto hemmed women into nothingness.” Matilda Joslyn Gage published a book about how Christianity oppresses women. By the 1880s, Susan Brownell Anthony, chastised by Christian religious groups, became agnostic. Ernestine Rose, a major women’s rights advocate, was an atheist who questioned God at the age of five. Women’s Suffrage vanguards found Christianity contemptible. The Manhattan Declaration promotes homophobia (“call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality”), arrogance (“human beings created in the divine image”), and bigotry (“place orphaned children in good homes rather than comply with a legal mandate that it place children in same-sex households in violation of Catholic moral teaching”).
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