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8/31/09

The Ultimate Anthropocentric Cosmology

Below I present a concept which may be termed the ultimate in anthropocentric cosmology.

Look out anthropic principle…











Continue reading The Ultimate Anthropocentric Cosmology...

8/30/09

Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 5 of 7

This is part five of an essay which is a critique of various points made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker during his debate with Peter Payne on the topic of ethics. Below, when I transcribe Dan Barker’s statements I will refer to how many minutes and seconds into the debate a certain statement was made and will refer to part 1 of part 2.

This portion deals with the topic of Selfish Morality.

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

Selfish Morality:
At 16:37 into part 2 Dan Barker’s façade of atheists having pure motives for doing good crumbles:
My statement that “we ought to be good” is only conditional on: if you wish to be a person, a healthy person, who lives in a world with a minimum, minimum of harm in it. If that’s the kind of person you are, you, if that’s the kind of person you ah, you are, you wanna be, then if you wish to be labeled ‘ethical’ by other people then you ought to act in ways that minimize harm. If you don’t then you don’t have to, there’s no universal imperative that says you have to. In fact, many people prove that you don’t have to and they don’t and we do try to protect ourselves from them.
There’s no cosmic imperative that we all “ought” to act in that way. But if you do wish want to continue valuing your existence as a sentient physical organism within this physical environment then, on that condition, then ah, and if you wish to be viewed by your society as “a good person,” if that’s something you wish, then you will act in ways that minimize harm. And again, I didn’t say avoid harm I said it minimizes harm.

Note the various self-centered reasons he offers as a foundational reason for doing good:
1. “if you wish to be…a healthy person” (meaning mentally healthy).

2. “if you wish to be labeled ‘ethical’ by other people.”

3. “if you wish to be viewed by your society as ‘a good person.’”

4. “if that’s something you wish.”

It would appear that the Barkerian ethic is based on gaining the praise of others, being though of highly by others, as well as servicing yourself in seeking to be healthy and as a form of wish fulfillment.



While Dan Barker is a proponent of his own rigid dogmatically authoritarian sect of Freethough, Humanists also demonstrate a feel-good-self-based view of ethics such as is evidenced in their asking and answering the following question (in this case, from the Humanist Society of Scotland):
It’s best to be honest because… I’m happier and feel better about myself if I’m honest.

Why being honest should make us happy remains a mystery. The point is not morality but self-esteem.

Reginald Finley (aka The Infidel Guy) and Matthew Davis stated,
if one does horrible things to people, that person will eventually have horrible things happen to him.

A member of the Seattle Atheists,
My philosophy of life is: If I can make the world a better place for you, then it automatically becomes a better place for me.

These are all examples of self-centered motivations; good is not to be done for its own sake or because people need good done to them but in order to receive benefit back. This is basically watered down, “My Name is Earl” style, karma.

All this and more, you may recall, not based on doing or not doing anything but based on mere intention. And what if I do not want to be ethical? Well, “you don’t have to.” We also run into another fallacy in Dan Barker’s claim that “there’s no universal imperative that says you have to.” How does he know that there is no such thing? Because “many people prove that you don’t have to.”
He believes that there is no universal imperative but demands that “we ought to be good” and believes that there is no universal imperative because some people do not follow it.

However, another logical option is that there is a universal imperative but that some people choose not to follow it. The fact that some do not follow it does not prove that there is no such thing, anymore than the fact that people drive above the speed limit means that no speed limit exists—see: Is There a Common Misconception Regarding Absolute Moral Claims?

Note also a very sobering thought, “I didn’t say avoid harm I said it minimizes harm.” What if, as actually did happen, the Nazis thought that they did not have to avoid harm but only minimize it? What if they thought, as they actually did, that minimizing it meant slaughtering some 12 million people since that would be overall beneficial to Germany, its majority population and their future?

At 34:40 of part 2, Dan Barker goes on to make a statement that is somewhat mirrored by Keith Parsons the yelling debater:
I don’t believe in punishment…we put people in jail not to punish them but to protect society form the harm that could result from them. Who cares if they’re punished or not?

One can only wonder, but I would assume that the reason for denying punishment, such as putting people in jail, is so that ultimate the concept of divine “punishment” can be denied. Indeed, without punishment Hitler lived a very pleasant life, enjoyed his power, was adored by thousands and then committed suicide when he saw fit—period, end of story. No justice but only the perfect peace of annihilation. Atheism makes evil even worse by guaranteeing that it has no higher purpose, no ultimate meaning, no change of being redeemed, is for the benefit of the evildoer who enjoys committing it and guaranteeing no justice (except that which may, only possibly may, be had by temporal courts).



Arguing according to the Barkerian ethic, and that of other atheists, there may be an additional problem with incarcerating, for example, a person who committed one murder, or one rape, or one robbery: from what are we protecting ourselves?
We cannot merely assume that a onetime murderer will murder again, can we justly keep someone in jail from years or decades on our guess that they may still be a danger to society?
If we are not punishing them for their crime then we ought to release them. Moreover, how much time does it take to murder someone? Shooting a gun can take less than one second: can we justly incarcerate someone for years or decades for performing an action that took less than one second?

Indeed, quite logically, our system of justice serves at least three purposes: to punish, to deter and to protect society.

Continue reading Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 5 of 7...

8/29/09

Atheist Quotes / Atheism Quotes

Atheism is Dead now presents various famous atheist quotes, not so famous atheist quotes and infamous atheist quotes and, for good measure, a few quotes about atheists and atheism by non-atheists (aatheists?)

American Atheist’s webmaster,
Atheists are NOT “secular humanists”, “freethinkers”, “rationalists” or “ethical culturalists”…Often, people who are Atheists find it useful to masquerade behind such labels.[1]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Vox Day,
the following pair of definitions have proven to be useful in distinguishing between the High Church atheist and the agnostic.
Agnostic: I don’t believe there is a God. Because I haven’t seen the evidence.
Atheist: There is no God. Because I’m an ***hole.[2] [expletive censored]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Wired Magazine’s Gary Wolf; who included himself in the following description:
we lax agnostics, we noncommittal nonbelievers, we vague deists who would be embarrassed to defend antique absurdities like the Virgin Birth or the notion that Mary rose into heaven without dying, or any other blatant myth.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Gary Wolf wrote:
At dinner parties or over drinks, I ask people to declare themselves. “Who here is an atheist?” I ask.
Usually, the first response is silence, accompanied by glances all around in the hope that somebody else will speak first. Then, after a moment, somebody does, almost always a man, almost always with a defiant smile and a tone of enthusiasm. He says happily, “I am!”
But it is the next comment that is telling. Somebody turns to him and says: “You would be.”
“Why?”
“Because you enjoy pissing people off.”
“Well, that’s true.”
This type of conversation takes place not in central Ohio, where I was born, or in Utah, where I was a teenager, but on the West Coast, among technical and scientific people, possibly the social group that is least likely among all Americans to be religious.[3]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes

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Mariano,

Atheism is a consoling delusion for people who cannot handle the reality of God’s existence.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Evilbible.com:
From History of Atheism:
The lack of public acceptance for a “lack of belief” definition of “atheism” is reflected in the fact that no reputable dictionary has a “lack of belief” definition for either “atheism” or “atheist”.
However, this has not kept a few morons from incorrectly claiming that various dictionary definitions have a “lack of belief” definition…I have posted some of the arguments these people have used, and I explained why why [sic] they are so damn stupid.

From Atheism, the Bible, Rape and EvilBible.com, part 4 of 6
What kind of lunatic would make a rape victim marry her attacker? Answer: God…It is clear that God doesn't give a damn about the rape victim.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
From Atheism, the Bible, Rape and EvilBible.com, part 3 of 6:
Clearly Moses and God approves of rape of virgins

From Atheism, the Bible, Rape and EvilBible.com, part 5 of 6:
God Assists Rape and Plunder

From Atheism, the Bible, Rape and EvilBible.com, part 2 of 6:
These sick bastards killed and raped an entire town

From Atheism, Ritual Human Sacrifice in the Bible, and EvilBible.com, part 1 of 5:
Abraham takes his own son up on a mountain and builds an altar upon which to burn him…If Abraham did that today he would be in jail serving a long sentence as someone's prison-b***. [expletive censored]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
From Atheism, Ritual Human Sacrifice in the Bible, and EvilBible.com, part 2 of 5:
These priests are guilty of theft and kidnapping…What do we call a scum-bag that threatens to kill your kids unless you pay a ransom? A kidnapper! If these priests were alive today they would be in prison with Abraham.

From Atheism, Ritual Human Sacrifice in the Bible, and EvilBible.com, part 4 of 5:
God Commands Burning Humans.

From Atheism, Ritual Human Sacrifice in the Bible, and EvilBible.com, part 5 of 5:
Burn Nonbelievers

From Atheism, EvilBible.com, “Theists Suck” and Christians are Hypocrites, part 1 of 6
[Christians’] willful ignorance of the Bible combined with their two faced idealism to preach it, has made us sick, hasn’t it?...We are all aware that the church is simply a business which employs tactics similar to that of tobacco industries in recruiting consumers.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
From Atheism, EvilBible.com, “Theists Suck” and Christians are Hypocrites, part 3 of 6
Ever watch these Christians on television and notice how their bowed heads uniformly shake amen while some evangelist goes on and on in prayer for a ******* hour?...
Christians are not supposed to take their disputes before non-Christian courts or judges…Does this stop Christians from tying up the supreme court with law suits concerning school prayer, abortion, or numerous other absurdities? Hell no it doesn’t, and my taxes are paying the ******* bill for their hypocrisy! [expletives censored]

From Atheism, EvilBible.com, “Theists Suck” and Christians are Hypocrites, part 4 of 6
shoot down these idiots and bar them from getting away with their hypocrisy.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
From Atheism, EvilBible.com, “Theists Suck” and Christians are Hypocrites, part 5 of 6
How many times have you heard some lame ass Christian say “the Old testament doesn’t matter, Jesus was the lamb and abolished it”? Don’t let them get away with this ****. [expletive censored]

From Atheism, EvilBible.com, “Theists Suck” and Christians are Hypocrites, part 6 of 6
A raped, unengaged virgin must marry her rapist and they can never divorce (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). What justice the “moral majority” advocates!

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Mariano,

An atheist walk into a bar and the bartender ask, “How did you get here?”
The atheist responds, “I’m just here and that’s all!”
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Dan Barker:
there are no action in and of themselves are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context. You cannot name an action that is always, absolutely right or wrong, I can think of an exception in any case.[4]

And if he [God] wants to prove to him [sic] what a big daddy in the sky he is, if he wants to prove what a big macho man he is and send someone to me [sic] to hell for having the audacity to think for myself and challenge his moral actions then let him do it. I would rather suffer an eternity in hell, burning in flames with some dignity, than pretending to bow down and worship at the feet of this, this brutal blood thirsty dictator of the Bible.[5]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Dan Barker offering reasons for doing “good”:
1. “if you wish to be…a healthy person” (meaning mentally healthy).
2. “if you wish to be labeled ‘ethical’ by other people.”
3. “if you wish to be viewed by your society as ‘a good person.’”
4. “if that’s something you wish.” [6]

Darwin has bequeathed what is good….abortion is a blessing.[7]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares…what happens to me or a piece of broccoli, it won’t [matter] the Sun is going to explode, we’re all gonna be gone. No one’s gonna care.[8]

Jesus was,
a moral monster.

the real drive behind the antiabortionists: misogyny. I don’t believe that any one of them cares a hoot for a fetus.[9]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
I support a women’s right to choose an abortion…I think for most women an abortion is a blessing in her life, it is a wonderful thing. Obviously, there is a difference between a fetus that’s the size of a thumb that has, what, what would you put it in a little locket and hang it around your neck?[10]

From Dan Barker’s anti-theism poster:
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world.
Kyle Butt on Dan Barker—What “We All Know” about a Lie,
Putting Mr. Barker’s statements together in logical form: (1) he considers it moral to lie in order to ‘protect someone from harm;’ (2) he considers religion to be harmful; (3) then it must follow that Mr. Barker would lie in order to dissuade a person from believing in God or religion.

Read a review of the Kyle Butt vs. Dan Barker debate here.

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Mariano explaining atheism’s cognitive dissonance:

It is ignorant and superstitious to believe that God made everything out of nothing.
It is rational and scientific to believe that nothing made everything out of nothing.

It is ignorant and superstitious to believe that God is eternal.
It is rational and scientific to believe that matter is eternal.

God is an effect and must have had a cause.
Matter is the uncaused first cause.

If God made everything, then who made God?
Matter made everything and nothing made matter.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Ex-atheist C. S. Lewis:
If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake.
If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.
When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view.[11]

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African-American atheist rapper Greydon Square,

I do shows in front of senior citizen white people…

Niggers believe in God; black people don't…A nigger blames white people for slavery, a black knows it was Africans who sold black people into slavery.[12]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Mariano,
My view on the atheist movement? If you can’t join them, beat them.

Bill Maher,
A "purity ball" is like a prom for a dad and his daughter, where dad gets in a tuxedo and the daughter gets in a gown, and they go to this ball, and he puts a ring on her finger and feeds her wedding cake, and she pledges to stay a virgin until she gets married. And then dad has sex with her in the car. [laughter] [applause]…

[referring to t-shirt that he had made up] I'm not going to lie; these are the bull[expletive removed] ones we made up that are even funnier. [laughter] "World's Greatest [expletive removed] tease!" [laughter] [applause]…"I'm With Horny!" [laughter] Oh, I love this one. [laughter]…"My Father Went to Third Base and All I Got was this Lousy T-Shirt." [laughter] [applause] And my favorite.[laughter] [he holds up t-shirt which reads, "My (picture of 'pussy'cat) Belongs to Daddy." [laughter] [groans] [applause]…If you're slipping a ring on your daughter's finger and eating wedding cake, trust me, you're plotting to [expletive removed] the babysitter. [laughter]

Mariano,
Atheism discredits condemnation and condemnation discredits atheism.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Giles Fraser,
Philosophers of the caliber of Nietzsche made the effort to understand what animates genuine religious belief…These days, philosophical acumen has been replaced by cheap jokes about the sexuality of nuns.[13]

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G. K. Chesterton:
But the new rebel is a Sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it.

Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it.

As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself.

A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble [mock scepter of office], and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble.

The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts.

In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men.

Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer
evolutionary theory applies to rape, as it does to other areas of human affairs, on both logical and evidentiary grounds. There is no legitimate scientific reason not to apply evolutionary or ultimate hypotheses to rape….Human rape arises from men’s evolved machinery for obtaining a high number of mates in an environment where females choose mates.[14]

Joann Ellison Rodgers,
Rape or at least rape-like acts clearly exist in many species, giving additional weight to both rape’s “natural” roots and its “value” in our biological and psychological legacy…
Even rape, fetishes, bondage, and other so-called aberrant sexual behaviors are almost certainly biologically predisposed, if not adaptive, and may therefore be what biologists call ‘conserved’ traits, attributes or properties useful or essential to life across all cultures and genomes.[15]

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Richard Lewontin:

What seems absurd depends on one’s prejudice. Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity “in deep trouble.” Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.[16]
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Daniel Dennett,
We're just the beginning of a new wave of explicit attempts to shake peoples' faith.

Christopher Hitchens:
I didn’t expect, when I started off on my book tour, to be as lucky as I was and I, Jerry Falwell died my first week on the road, that was amazing.

Sam Harris, very enthusiastically and laughingly,
Yes, that was amazing luck!
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
David Limbaugh from, The Paradoxical Hatred of Christopher Hitchens:
Hitchens refused to back down from his excoriation of Falwell on the very day of his death, saying, “I don't care whether his family's feelings are hurt or not. But if they are, they can take comfort from the extraordinary piety and stupidity, and generally speaking, uniformity of the coverage of the man's death.” Hitchens' response to CNN's Anderson Cooper's question of whether he believed in heaven and whether ‘you think Jerry Falwell is in it.’ Hitchens said he did not believe in it, but “I think it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to.”

Christopher Hitchens:
I'll take things you and Richard say on the human and natural sciences, not without wanting to check, but I’m often unable to but knowing that you are the sort of gentlemen who would have checked. If you say, “the bishop told me it so I believe it” you make a fool of yourself it seems to me, and one is entitled to say so.


Sam Harris poses the following question,
Is there any argument for faith, any challenge to your atheism that has given you pause, that has set you back on your heels where you felt you didn’t have a ready answer, etc?
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Daniel Dennett responds,
Actually I can’t think of anything.


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Daniel Dennett:

I think, what I would love to do is to invent a memorable catchphrase or term that would rise unbidden in their minds when they caught themselves doing it, and then they would think oh, this is one of those cosmic shifts that Dennett and Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens are talking about. Oh! right! and they think this is somehow illicit, just to create a little more awareness in them of what a strange thing it is that they're doing.
atheism quotes and atheist quotes
Christopher Hitchens,
they're all equally rotten, false, dishonest, corrupt, humourless and dangerous.

Responding to the question of whether “all faith claims are in some sense equivalent.”

Dinesh D'Souza, “Richard Dawkins Compares Me to Hitler,” AOL, July 7, 2008
I suspect that Dawkins has come up with this pathetic reductio ad Hitlerum in order to justify his cowardice in not debating me…Isn't the real problem that Dawkins has used his zoologist's credentials in order to wander into fields (physics, astronomy, history, philosophy, anthropology, theology) where his knowledge is embarrassingly limited? I suspect he's worried that in a debate I will exposure his ignorance and make him an international object of ridicule. Why not prove me wrong, Richard? Come out from under your desk and take me up on my invitation to debate.

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Mariano,

Atheism is the Valium of the people.

[1] THE WEBMASTER, Atheism — What It Is, and What It Isn’t, American Atheists
[2] Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc., 2008), p. 17
[3] Gary Wolf, “The Church of the Non-Believers,” Wired Magazine, (found here and here)
[4] During his debate with Peter Payne
[5] During his debate with Peter Payne
[6] During his debate with Peter Payne
[7] During his debate with John Rankin
[8] During his debate with Paul Manata
[9] Dan Barker, Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1992), p. 213
[10] During his debate with Dinesh D'Souza
[11] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1960), p. 29
[12] Martin Cizmar, Rapper Greydon Square Is an Atheist Icon, Phoenix New Times, April 28, 2009
[13] Giles Fraser, “Face to faith - Secularists who dismiss Christianity as the choice of the stupid should turn their critical gaze a little closer to home,” The Guardian, Sat. Oct. 22, 2005
[14] Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), p. 53, 55, 190
[15] Joann Ellison Rodgers, Sex: A Natural History (New York: Henry Holt, 2001), p. 412
[16]
From Billions and Billions of Demons, Prof. Lewontin’s review of Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. This entire, very sobering, article is posted and reviewed here.

Continue reading Atheist Quotes / Atheism Quotes...

8/28/09

Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 4 of 7

This is part four of an essay which is a critique of various points made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker during his debate with Peter Payne on the topic of ethics. Below, when I transcribe Dan Barker’s statements I will refer to how many minutes and seconds into the debate a certain statement was made and will refer to part 1 of part 2.

This portion deals with the topic of Threats And Promises, Punishment And Reward.

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

Threats And Promises, Punishment And Reward:
At 49:57 into part 1 we get a taste of another argument from outrage,

The God of the Bible is blood thirsty…any system of thought that has a hell in it is not ethical and not moral.

This is merely an assertion and not a logical argument. However, well over one half of an hour later Dan Barker eventually hints at the source of his outrage.

At 25:52 into part 2 he stated:

Any ethical system that’s based on threats and promises is morally bankrupt. Christianity is based on a promise of heaven and a threat of hell. That is a morally bankrupt thing to do. Because you’re making, you’re basing your ethical things not on the inherent worth of an individual person because they are a part of your species. You’re doing it to please your daddy, you’re doing it to get points, you’re not doing it because you think I’m valuable.

Next, in order to evidence that Christians are inwardly (in their thoughts, feelings and motivations which are inaccessible to Dan Barker) motivated by “threats and promises” he shares an anecdote about conversing with a Muslim about Islam and Allah’s decrees. The Muslim stated that he was being nice to Dan Barker because “Allah commands me to be nice to you.” Then Dan Barker, based on a premise of discrediting Christian ethics by appealing to Islamic ethics, concludes by stating:

That’s what Christianity is saying, you should be nice to people because, you know, because of the reward you’re gonna get.

Indeed, the argument was premised upon Christianity’s ethics but argued from Islamic ethics—this is a non sequitur or gargantuan proportions.

Incidentally, that “Any ethical system that’s based on threats and promises is morally bankrupt” means that every law of every country on Earth is morally bankrupt since they are based on based on threats and promises.


Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor positively affirming God’s non-existence and affirming absolute materialism

But precisely what is Dan Barker’s issue with threats and promises, heaven and hell? At 27:05 into part 2 he clarifies:

But let me ask you this: if the promise of heaven motivates you to be ethical, or to be kind to others, doesn’t that show how little you think of others? You’re not being good because of themselves [sic]. Or if the threat of hell motivates you to be kind to others, doesn’t that show you how little you think of yourself? Don’t you think of yourself as a potentially good person?
Those of us who are naturalists and secular humanists will say very simply: if you wanna be a good, kind, ethical person then, then be a good, kind, ethical person. There’s no mystery there, there’s no secret to morality. What we would say is: be good for goodness sake.

Note that Dan Barker presumes to know what motivates the world’s 2.5 billion individual Christians (as well as all who have ever lived). He has touched upon a typical fallacy committed by many atheists which boils down to: theists do good in order to gain rewards and out of fear of punishment but atheist have pure benevolent motives.

This is fallacious on many accounts and I have touched upon the topic in three of my essays:
Do Any Atheists Have Pure Motives?

The Red Light of Punishment

And partially in James Randi - the Amazing Atheist.

Ultimately, Dan Barker’s argument merely demonstrated a lack of knowledge of normative, general, orthodox, biblical, good old fashioned Christianity. Since Christianity does not hold to a works based salvation theology (soteriology), Dan Barker’s statements about good deeds being motivated by “the promise of heaven” are simply not an issue.

Dan Barker may be shocked to find out that 2,000 years ago it was Jesus who taught us to “be good for goodness sake” when He stated:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you…For if you love those who love you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also do the same. And if you lend to those of whom you hope to receive, what thanks do you have? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. And your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil (see Luke 6:27-35).

Notice the combination of worldly and otherworldly: do good because people need good done for them, do not do good only to get something back and God will still reward you even though you did good because people need good done for them and you did not do good only to get something back. This way you will have more to give.

Dan Barker may also be shocked to find out that circa 3,500 years ago it was Moses who taught us to “be good for goodness sake” when he stated:
If there is among you a poor man of one of your brothers inside any of your gates in your land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother. But you shall open your hand wide to him, and shall surely lend him enough for his need, that which he lacks. Beware that there is not a thought in your wicked heart, saying, the seventh year, the year of release, is at hand, and your eye may be evil against your poor brother, and you give him nothing.
And he may cry to the LORD against you, and it is sin to you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God shall bless you in all your works, and in all that you put your hand to. For the poor shall never cease out of the land. Therefore, I command you saying, You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy, in your land (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

The Old Testament lays out a marvelously empathetic and sympathetic system of ethics. Again, we see the worldly and otherworldly.

Note that Dan Barker refers to thinking of ourselves as potentially good people. Could this not be considered a selfish motivator for doing good? We will focus on this in the next segment.

Continue reading Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 4 of 7...

8/27/09

Richard Dawkins’ New Book – The Evolution Delusion

If Richard Dawkins is good at anything—besides vociferously displaying a lack of knowledge on a vast range of subjects—it is weaving quaint Victorian Era tall tales which he refers to as being an intellectually satisfied atheist.

He has stated that his new book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is “about the positive evidence that evolution is a fact. It is not intended as an antireligious book” and he, again, sets the bar very, very high in claiming that “No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” Of course, “it” refers to “evolution” which is a term that he will hopefully define in the book as within the article from which I am quoting he does not do so.[1] Except for these hints, as he states that those who “deny evolution”,

believe the world’s age is measured in thousands of years rather than thousands of millions of years, and who believe humans walked with dinosaurs.

And also,

that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips.

Note, however, that from the get go he has established a line of demarcation: if a scientist disputes or doubts, even dares to doubt, whatever the Dawkinsian definition of “evolution” will be, they are labeled irreputable—on this basis alone; thus saith Dawkins.

Keep in mind that with regards to “assertions without adequate evidence” evolutionary biologist and geneticist Prof. Richard Lewontin referenced Carl Sagan’s list of the “best contemporary science-popularizers” which includes Richard Dawkins. These authors have, as Lewontin puts it, “put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market.” Lewontin specifically mentions “Dawkins’s vulgarizations of Darwinism” (his entire fascinating, eye opening and muse inducing article is found here).

You may recall that he made a likewise grandiose claim in the preface to The God Delusion

If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.

Delusion indeed.

He then downgraded his proselytizing goal to stating that it would turn people sitting on the fence post and already leaning toward atheism into admitted, out of the closet, atheists. Lastly, he simply stated that The God Delusion was meant to be a very funny book. I suppose that is what happens when you are writing a book from well-within-the-atheist-group-think-box. Apparently, once his book was dissected and had its very, very many fallacies exposed it went from the power to convert to the power of elbowing your buddy in the ribs while chortling (for other astonishing claims about their own books consider the claims of the New Atheists).

Despite his lack of definition, Richard Dawkins appears to be lightly hinting at something in his article. It may be difficult to discern his point but here is are his hints,

Evolution is a fact…evolution is a fact…all except the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution…Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact…It is the plain truth…It didn’t have to be true, but it is…Evolution is a fact…Evolution is a fact…some theories are beyond sensible doubt, and we call them facts…Evolution is an inescapable fact…the fact of evolution

Considering that “evolution” is a fact one wonders what is to be made of those who do not accept it. Well, we already saw that any scientist who even dares to doubt it will be labeled irreputable. Yet, being the story teller that he is, Richard Dawkins begins the article with a slimily in which he likens evolution doubters with a “baying pack of ignoramuses” who display “ignorant prejudice” in claiming “that the Romans never existed.” He also envisages a scenario in which a teacher of modern history is “boycotted, heckled or otherwise disrupted by well-organised, well-financed and politically muscular groups of Holocaust-deniers” who make “belligerent demands.” And do not forget those “logic-choppers” and “brainwashed children.”




Having set the stage of ridicule he then draws a faulty correlation between Roman deniers, Holocaust deniers and evolution doubters—and another entry into the Reductio ad Hitlerum Awards files is born (and this coming from Richard Dawkins who denies that Communism is atheistic).

Now, if scientists are irreputable for doubting “evolution” (recall that this would amount to doubting that they are related to bananas and turnips) and those who “deny” evolution are tantamount to denying the existence of Rome and the occurrence of the Holocaust (for as he states it, “The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth”) what are we to make of those, especially those religious types, who accept it?
Well, these chosen ones, who have seen the true light of evolution, largely dodge Dawkins’ reproach and are sainted as,
Bishops and theologians who have attended to the evidence for evolution have given up the struggle against it…

thoughtful and rational churchmen and women accept the evidence for evolution…

the enlightened bishops and theologians…

Moreover, Dawkins himself collaborated with the Bishop of Oxford (now, Lord Harries) on an article which stated,
Nowadays there is nothing to debate. Evolution is a fact and, from a Christian perspective, one of the greatest of God’s works.

Dawkins is quite to note that “The last sentence was written by Richard Harries, but we agreed about all the rest of our article.”

Indeed, the light of evolution has shone and only the thoughtful, rational and enlightened will escape the wrath of Dawkins which is to come, and is now here. Indeed as Richard Dawkins writes in his Gospel of Evolution,
Evolution is within us, around us, between us, and its workings are embedded in the rocks of aeons past.




Or perhaps:



But, not so fast all yea thoughtful, rational and enlightened churchmen, bishops and theologians—you may yet lose your salvation if you fail to, get this, preach from your pulpits, your churches, your cathedrals in the manner that Pope Dawkins doeth bequeath,
All too many preachers, while agreeing that evolution is true and Adam and Eve never existed, will then blithely go into the pulpit and make some moral or theological point about Adam and Eve in their sermons without once mentioning that, of course, Adam and Eve never actually existed!

If challenged, they will protest that they intended a purely “symbolic” meaning, perhaps something to do with “original sin”, or the virtues of innocence. They may add witheringly that, obviously, nobody would be so foolish as to take their words literally…

Think about it, Bishop. Be careful, Vicar…Shouldn’t you take greater care, when speaking in public…Lest ye fall into condemnation…

No, I am not making this up.

Besides likening those who doubt that we are related to bananas and turnips with Holocaust deniers; Richard Dawkins has concocted two additional terms of derision: “historydeniers” and “40percenters”:
More than 40 per cent of Americans deny that humans evolved from other animals [and bananas and turnips]…I shall be using the name “historydeniers” for those people who deny evolution…I shall from time to time refer to the history-deniers as the “40percenters”.

A recent poll concluded,
asked if life developed “through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,” a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

Consider Richard Dawkins’ comments on theory and fact:
Evolution is a theory in the same sense as the heliocentric theory…

As for the claim that evolution has never been “proved”, proof is a notion that scientists have been intimidated into mistrusting. Influential philosophers tell us we can’t prove anything in science.

Mathematicians can prove things — according to one strict view, they are the only people who can…

Even the undisputed theory that the Moon is smaller than the Sun cannot, to the satisfaction of a certain kind of philosopher, be proved in the way that, for example, the Pythagorean Theorem can be proved. But massive accretions of evidence support it so strongly that to deny it the status of “fact” seems ridiculous to all but pedants. The same is true of evolution.
Evolution is a fact in the same sense as it is a fact that Paris is in the northern hemisphere…

in most cases, we don’t live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes

This is a typical Dawkinsian tactic. Via misdirection and fallacious correlations he attempts to have his audience arrive at a predetermined destination which is that whatever “evolution” is, it is a fact; just like heliocentrism, just like that the Moon is smaller than the Sun, just like Paris being in the northern hemisphere.

This is so even though “we can’t prove anything in science” while he declares that “evolution” is a fact. Why, because “Mathematicians” not biologists “can prove things — according to one strict view, they are the only people who can” and mathematicians are constantly demonstrating that what is generally thought of as “evolution” simply does not occur—particularly related to the amount of time that it would require to happenstantially concoct even the mythical “simple” cell or even a strand of proteins.

“Evolution” is even “a fact in the same sense as it is a fact that Paris is in the northern hemisphere” but this is purely arbitrary since the country named “Paris” could be renamed “Fresno” tonight and then it would no longer be a fact that “Paris is in the northern hemisphere.” Or, is a rose by any other name still a rose? Is “evolution” still “evolution” regardless of what is being observed, described and interpreted? Is what is being observed, described and interpreted still “evolution” regardless of what we call it?
As Vox Day puts it,
…few can manage to keep up with adaptive devo punk-echthroi neo-quasi-Darwinism, or whatever the evolutionary biologists are calling this week’s spin on St. Darwin’s dangerous idea.[2]

Moreover, while generally we may not “live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes” we have watched hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of generations of fruit flies and have purposefully subjected them to mutagens. We have observed fruit flies end up with extra and useless wings, shriveled up wings and even legs on their faces but their “evolution” has, vastly, been deteriorative—devolution would be more descriptive.





Cornelius Hunter notes:
Massive genetic differences were also found between different fruit fly species. The fruit fly is one of the most intensely researched organisms and in recent years a systematic study of the genomes of a dozen different species was undertaken. Evolutionists were surprised to find novel features in the genomes of each of these different fruit fly species. Thousands of genes showed up missing in many of the species, and some genes showed up in only a single species.[3] As one science writer put it, “an astonishing 12 per cent of recently evolved genes in fruit flies appear to have evolved from scratch.”[4] These so-called novel genes would have had to have evolved over a few million years—a time period previously considered to allow only for minor genetic changes[5].[6]


In conclusion, we shall have to see what The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution has to say. The only thing that we know for certain thus far is that “It is not intended as an antireligious book” and that “no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.”

[1] Richard Dawkins, “Creationists, Now They’re Coming For Your Children,” Times Online, August 24, 2009
[2] Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist (downloadable here), p. 225
[3] M. T. Levine, C. D. Jones, A. D. Kern, H. A. Lindfors, D. J. Begun, “Novel genes derived from noncoding DNA in Drosophila melanogaster are frequently X-linked and exhibit testis-biased expression,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (2006): 9935-9939
[4] M. Le Page, “Recipes for life: How genes evolve,” New Scientist, 24 November 2008. (found here)
[5] D. J. Begun, H. A. Lindfors, A. D. Kern, C. D. Jones, “Evidence for de novo evolution of testis-expressed genes in the Drosophila yakuba/Drosophila erecta clade,” Genetics 176 (2007): 1131-1137
And
S. Chen, H. Cheng, D. A. Barbash, H. Yang, “Evolution of hydra, a recently evolved testis-expressed gene with nine alternative first exons in Drosophila melanogaster,” PLoS Genetics 3 (2007)
[6] Cornelius Hunter, “Darwin’s Predictions,” © 2009, Version 2.03, Last updated: June 11, 2009


Continue reading Richard Dawkins’ New Book – The Evolution Delusion...

8/26/09

Atheism Essays Particular to Cosmology

This post contains hyperlinks to Atheism is Dead’s posts regarding cosmology

Five Finger Death Punch the Multiverse

The Ultimate Anthropocentric Cosmology

In the Beginning… Cosmology, Part I - The Pre Big Bang Scenario

In the Beginning… Cosmology, Part II - Book, Chapter and Multi-Verse

The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 7 of 11

The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 8 of 11

“The Copernican Myths”

“Galileo - A Story of a Hero of Science”

WLC on cosmology and theism

Atheism and Carl Sagan’s God, part 1 of 2

Atheism and Carl Sagan’s God, part 2 of 2

GUEST BLOGGER: Quentin Smith’s Atheist Cosmology – Response











Continue reading Atheism Essays Particular to Cosmology...

Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 3 of 7

This is part three of an essay which is a critique of various points made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker during his debate with Peter Payne on the topic of ethics. Below, when I transcribe Dan Barker’s statements I will refer to how many minutes and seconds into the debate a certain statement was made and will refer to part 1 of part 2.

This portion deals with the topic of How To Be Ethical Without a God.

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

How To Be Ethical Without a God:
At 33:49 into part 1 Dan Barker explains his ethical viewpoint:
How can I summarize how we naturalists know how to be ethical without a God? Here it is, it’s very simple. It’s a principle, it’s not a rule, it’s a principle. If you intend to act in a way that minimizes harm by your actions in the real world, then by definition you can be called an ethical person. If you don’t intend to act in a way that minimizes harm you are not ethical…
compassion, charity, goodwill, all of it has to do with lessening suffering. And what is harm, what is suffering? It’s a physical thing it’s part of the natural world. Harm is something that can be measured and analyzed naturally, it’s not something that we need somebody from the outside to tell us that this hurts or doesn’t hurt. And it’s all relative to the situation…
there are no moral absolutes…there are no action in and of themselves are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context. You cannot name an action that is always, absolutely right or wrong, I can think of an exception in any case…it depends on the situation, it depends on the context…
telling a lie can sometimes be a very good moral thing to do.

Note Dan Barker’s interesting and very telling qualifiers, “principle…not a rule…intend…it’s all relative…there are no moral absolutes…It depends on the context.”

“Contemplation, Perseverance, Imagination, and Free Will. From the morality play Hickscorner. Reproduced in H.W. Mabie, William Shakespeare (1900).”[1]


One of the most interesting points thus far is that according to the Barkerian ethic a person does not have to do or not do anything in order to be ethical. What counts is intention, “If you intend to…you can be called an ethical person.” Note the term “called,” this will come into play as we continue our contemplation.

At 46:57 into part 1 the point about “intentions” is solidified:
the key word here is “intention.” We don’t always know the consequences we’re not always fully informed. But if it is your intention to act in ways that minimizes harm then you will try to be as informed as possible. And even if you goof, even if you make a mistake, if your intention was to minimize harm you can be labeled an ethical person.

Well, there is a saying that good intentions are a paving to some sort of road. This sort of ethic basically amounts to the generic concept of self-esteem or otherwise spirituality: do whatever you want (or, do not do whatever you do not want) and at day’s end look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are a good person.

In my essay James Randi the Amazing Atheist I pointed out that it never ceases to amaze me how a person’s true personality comes out if they are simply given a few minutes to express themselves. They may begin with an air of intellect and erudition only to succumb to their uncontrollable emotions. It appears that Dan Barker reached this point at 4:32 into part 2 when he stated:
He [God] might exist and be some kind of robotic law giver but he is not a being, a personal being, whom I would respect in any sense that I would wanna worship. And if he wants to prove to him [sic] what a big daddy in the sky he is, if he wants to prove what a big macho man he is and send someone to me [sic] to hell for having the audacity to think for myself and challenge his moral actions then let him do it. I would rather suffer an eternity in hell, burning in flames with some dignity, than pretending to bow down and worship at the feet of this, this brutal blood thirsty dictator of the Bible.

Clearly, this is atheism as anti-theism, particularly anti-Judeo-Christian theism.



Emotionally charged outburst may be exciting and useful for inciting those who already agree with you but they are not the stuff of reasoned discourse—particularly during a debate. This reminds me of a debate tactic employed by Keith Parsons who on numerous occasions during a debate with William Lane Craig literally yelled “I cannot believe!...I cannot believe!…I cannot believe!…I cannot believe!”

Believe it or not; our personal incredulity does not shape reality.

[1] Internet Shakespeare

Continue reading Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 3 of 7...

8/25/09

Brad Pitt – Is Religion the Pits?

Recent comments by Brad Pitt have left me wondering if he was joking or perhaps, how much he was joking about which parts of his comments.

During an interview with Ann Curry on the Today show he was asked about some New Orleans residents who are wearing “Brad Pitt for Mayor” t-shirts.

He responded “I don't have a chance” because “I'm running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalization and taxation of marijuana platform.”

Why would be not have a chance?

A redefinition of marriage much needed taxes and the abolishment of religion—what is there not to like? Surely, Dan Barker and his Freedom From Religion Foundation (an organization that was founded in a country which was premised upon the concept of freedom of religious expression) would support him—after all, the closer it gets to years end the more Dan Barker considers his budget and begins to file lawsuit after lawsuit in order to play the victim-underdog-martyr and reap donations (the underdog how’s not under God— little dyslexia humor).

Also, Bill Maher asked Brad Pitt, “What is it about religion you don't like?”
You know, I grew up in a religious family, in a religious community and it just doesn't make sense to me. It just doesn't work for me in the long run…

I never wanted to step on anyone else's religion and their beliefs — that's what's great about our country — until I started seeing it defining policy…

Like gay marriage, you have a group of people telling other people how to live their lives, and you can't do that…

I just say you have to, you really have to check what country you're living in because the freedom that allows you to practice religion is the same freedom you're stepping on. That's not right. And I want to add that if there was a nation of gay married couples who were telling you you couldn't practice your religion, I'd be speaking up for you too. So, let's stop the nonsense.

Unfortunately, his statements are too brief and generic. For example, what does he mean by “religion”? Very many people I know who would be labeled as “religious” actually despise religion—count me in.

I, for one, grew up in a 100% secular family, in a secular community and it just doesn't make sense to me. But there are a lot of true and evidenced things that, nevertheless, do not make sense to me.

That it does not work in the long run is also undefined: is he referring to epistemology, theology or divorcing his wife to shack up with his girlfriend?

He should consider that his freedom of speech is premised upon “religion” defining policy.

Next comes a self-defeating argument, “you have a group of people telling other people how to live their lives, and you can't do that”—but what if I want to live a life wherein I tell other people how to live their lives? Now, Brad Pitt is telling me that I cannot do that. Yet, this is the very thing which he said we cannot do.
Moreover, there are certain concepts of marriage which any reasonable person would oppose surely, including Brad Pitt. For instance, in his personal life he seems to oppose one man and one woman together for life and until death. Yet, I am referring to concepts which are not solely related to his personal life but that of others which he would surely oppose.

He is quite reasonable is noting that “the freedom that allows you to practice religion is the same freedom you're stepping on” and this is the very reason why in this great country some exercise the God premised freedom oppose it and some exercise the God premised freedom to support it. This is not nonsense but the manner in which a free country functions—not by Brad Pitt bequeathing that “you can't do that,” “That's not right” and “nonsense.”

Continue reading Brad Pitt – Is Religion the Pits?...

8/24/09

Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 2 of 7

This is part two of an essay which is a critique of various points made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker during his debate with Peter Payne on the topic of ethics. Below, when I transcribe Dan Barker’s statements I will refer to how many minutes and seconds into the debate a certain statement was made and will refer to part 1 of part 2.

This portion deals with the topic of Introductory Conclusion.

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

Introductory Conclusion:
Having dealt with the Timothy McVeigh issue; I continue the essay with my conclusion because I think that it is so important that I do not want it to be missed.
Dan Barker absolutely discredits every criticism he has ever, and will ever, utter against religion, Christianity, the Bible, God, Jesus, etc. by his own relativistic situational ethics. This essay will support this rather hefty assertion.

Dan Barker begins the debate by mentioning that on his drives around the city in which the debate took place he noticed may cars, with Christian stickers on them, breaking the speed limit. Perhaps, unbeknownst to him, his introductory statement spoke volumes about his emotionally spiked cynical worldview: he sees a car with Christian stickers on it speeding past him and he instantly begins to think about how immoral and hypocritical Christians are.

Is that so? I would appear to be so because there are many possibilities that he appears to not be considering:
1. A rebellious teenager who rejected Christianity and is now an atheist could have borrowed her Christian mommy’s car.

2. An atheist may have borrowed the car of a Christian friend.

3. An atheist may have just bought a used car previously owned by a Christian (I happen to know someone who bought a used car and, for some reason and for some time, left some Freemasonry insignias that were stuck on the back of the car).

4. An atheist might have stolen the car from a Christian and was speeding off.

5. The car may be owned by a person who became a Christian 20 minutes ago and got so excited that 10 minutes ago they placed a Christian sticker on their car and simply has not had the chance to reflect on their new moral outlook yet.

All speculation aside, most likely Christians were driving those cars and speeding, I am not denying for a moment that this is the most likely case. In this regard, Tom Neven’s article How a Fish Taught Me to Drive Better may be of interest.


Yet, that is not the point, the point is that Dan Barker does not appear to logically consider these, and other, viable options but emotionally reacts on his prejudices by instantly going for the jugular. Personally, I would be embarrassed I ever found myself criticizing the driving of people who had a Darwin fish on their bumpers and I would be even more embarrassed to mention it as my very first statement in a formal debate. But what I would or would not do is not relevant here--relevant is Dan Barker’s statements regarding ethics.

Continue reading Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 2 of 7...

8/23/09

Is the Bible Skeptical About Miracles? – The Timing Test for Miracles

Let us consider perhaps the closest we could get to testing whether a miracle has taken place.

Previous entries on this subject:
Is the Bible Skeptical About Miracles? (IBSAM)
IBSAM: Moses as Skeptical Scientist
IBSAM: The Fleece
IBSAM: Malta’s Viper
IBSAM: Show Yourselves
IBSAM: Jesus’ Baptism
IBSAM: Lazarus Comes Forth

The New Testament presents a very interesting occurrence which provides one of the very best tests for ascertaining whether a miracle took place—from John 4:46-54.

So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.

There you have it; the nobleman asked for a healing and Jesus claimed to have granted it.

Next we find that,
And as he [the nobleman] was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”

There it is; Jesus claimed to have healed the son and it was so.

And now comes the test:
Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

This is quite a test; matching up the time of the claim to have preformed a healing to the time when the healing actually took place—and it was so.

Continue reading Is the Bible Skeptical About Miracles? – The Timing Test for Miracles...

8/22/09

Was Timothy McVeigh a God Believing Catholic and a “Christian Terrorists”? - Part 1 of Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs

Wherein we consider how Dan Barker utterly discredited himself and solved the “problem of evil.”

This essay will commence a critique of various points made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker during his debate with Peter Payne on the topic of ethics. Below, when I transcribe Dan Barker’s statements I will refer to how many minutes and seconds into the debate a certain statement was made and will refer to part 1 or part 2.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was co-founded by Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor in the USA, a country premised upon the concept of freedom of religious expression.

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”:
My post Was Timothy McVeigh a Christian Terrorist? was basically an experiment of sorts, I was honestly wondering what sorts of answers people would concoct.
Let us recap and review:

Back in the day; Dan Barker has posed the following statement and question:
Timothy McVeigh, a God believing Catholic, blew up that Federal building. And,Why is no one calling the Oklahoma City bombing suspects “Christian terrorists”?

Some responses in the comments section were emotive and apparently, right off of the top of the person’s head.

Someone stated that it was because McVeigh did not “shout ‘Jesus is great!!!” and another that it is because the USA is a Christian nation there was no reason for mentioning it that he was a Christian. Someone actually read up on McVeigh a bit and concluded that “his theology was at best confused and inconsistent” and “had virtually nothing to do with his heinous act of terrorism.”

Someone even took a shot at me in stating that I was obviously “just embarrassingly unable to check his facts.” They concluded this based on the fact that I posed the question when I reality I was employing the tactic of a good lawyer—I did not ask a question without first already knowing the answer.

Those who got it right stated that naming “him Christian is another mistake!” that he “was not even a christian [sic] at all. He was not a god believing catholic. He was basically an agnostic. The answer to the riddle is that he was not a christian [sic] at all” and that “he “took Last Rites before his death just in case”—which actually shocked those who knew him.

So what did we learn?
1. Honest skepticism pays off as it alleviates us of the burden of making emotive polemical and fallacious points.
2. Dan Barker certainly made emotive polemical and fallacious points.
3. If we were to “argue” like Dan Barker we would ask, “Why is no one calling the Oklahoma City bombing suspects ‘Agnostic terrorists’?”
Prediction: someone will surely not bother mentioning Dan Barker’s fallacious statements but will besmirch me for whatever reason.
Indeed it was during his debate with Peter Payne that Dan Barker made the following statement at 28:58 into part 1,
Timothy McVeigh, a God believing Catholic, blew up that Federal building

Granted, it would not necessarily say anything about Catholicism, the Bible, or God if McVeigh was a believing Catholic. But again, we are interested in Dan Barker’s accuracy. Was McVeigh a believing Catholic?

It is ironic that during the debate Dan Barker claimed that morals are not absolute because “I can think of an exception in any case.” In this sense he appears to agree with Timothy McVeigh. Certainly, when he “blew up that Federal building” McVeigh must have thought of “an exception.” Thus, his goals outweighed the lives of men women and children. How then can Dan Barker condemn McVeigh?



Townhall’s Maggie Gallagher researched “years of press clippings probing the mind of McVeigh.” She concludes:
In contemporaneous accounts, McVeigh was never described as killing out of religious motives. Nor was there any evidence that, at the time of the bombing, he even considered himself a Christian. On the two great state occasions McVeigh had, at his sentencing and his execution, Jesus made no appearance in his rhetoric. At the sentencing, McVeigh quoted from Louis Brandeis’ 1928 decision:

“Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.” McVeigh’s last public act before he was executed was to distribute copies of the 1875 poem “Invictus.” It begins: “I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul,” and ends “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” – sentiments that to a Christian are at least vaguely blasphemous…
the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described McVeigh as “an avowed agnostic” whose sudden last-minute decision to see a Catholic priest just before his execution surprised everyone who knew him. As recently as July 2001, even a lefty like Barbara Ehrenreich (writing in the Progressive) did not portray McVeigh as having religious motives. She called McVeigh a “homegrown neo-Nazi mass murderer,” yes; Christian fundamentalist, no.[1]



The UK newspaper, The Guardian, reported, “McVeigh said he was an agnostic but that he would ‘improvise, adapt and overcome.’”[2]

CNN reported, “McVeigh is agnostic. He doesn’t believe in God, but he won’t rule out the possibility. I asked him, “What if there is a heaven and hell?” He said that once he crosses over the line from life to death, if there is something on the other side, he will – and this is using his military jargon – “adapt, improvise, and overcome.” Death to him is all part of the adventure.[3]

[1] Maggie Gallagher, “Timothy McVeigh, Christian terrorist,” Townhall, October 28, 2002
[2] Julian Borger, “McVeigh faces day of reckoning,” The Guardian, June 11, 2001
[3]Authors Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck on their book about Timothy McVeigh,” CNN (April 4, 2001)

Continue reading Was Timothy McVeigh a God Believing Catholic and a “Christian Terrorists”? - Part 1 of Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs...