Friday, December 23, 2011

"Being an Atheist is like being the only sober person in the car and no one will let you drive."

Reposted from Facebook...

One of the most common questions that atheists hear is "Why do you care about others' religious beliefs?" There are many other common questions, but right now I want to focus on this one. And as I can't speak for anyone but myself, the best I can do is present my answer to the question.

In a nutshell, I care because of Abraham.

We all remember the story of Abraham, but most believers don't realize what a troubling story it is from an atheist's point of let me briefly illustrate the problem. Abraham heard a voice telling him to kill his son, Isaac. And he said something like "Umm...okay."

We all know the rest of the story, but this is the single most important--and troubling--part: Abraham heard a voice telling him to kill his son, and he chose to do what the voice told him. And now literally billions of people look up to Abraham. They love him, they revere him, and they want to be like him.

And this isn't a case like Columbus, where we say "Okay, we're celebrating his discovery of the New World, not his involvement with the slave trade" or like Emperor Charlemagne, where we can say "Yes, his butchery of pagans was obviously wrong, but he did insist that all his subjects become literate."

Abraham is revered because of his obedience to the voice in his head that told him to kill his son.

That is horrifying.

And just as frightening is the willful blindness: when a woman in Texas hears what she believes is the voice of God telling her to kill her children, religious believers shake their heads and talk about how sick this woman is...but they never connect her to the story of their revered 'Father Abraham' in any way. They insist that the two events have nothing in common.

I am an atheist, and I believe the story of Abraham is probably mythological. At best he was based on a historical figure. But the idea that people I know--people I care about--can look at this story and want to be like Abraham...that they can look up to and revere a man who listened to the voices in his head and tried to kill his son horrifies and disgusts me.

That is why I care about others' religious beliefs: because their religious beliefs are horrifying and disgusting. Because any parent who actively admires a man for trying to murder his child is downright monstrous. And because these same people have the sheer, unmitigated audacity to tell me that atheists have no basis for morality.

If I ever heard a voice telling me to murder my child, I would say "Fuck you!" And then I would check myself into a hospital.

That makes me far more moral than Abraham.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

It is with great sadness that we recognize the passing of one of humanity's great minds. Christopher Hitchens died today of cancer, at the age of 62.

He was a great mind. A great man. A champion of reason and intellect. I'm glad we overlapped enough that I could learn from him. The man was an explorer in the most important sense of the word. Mankind is lessened by his death...but mankind gained so much from his life that we end up better for it in the end.

To Hitch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Visual explanation of the process of evolution.

Share it. Link to it. Spread this all over the internet. Whoever created this should get a Nobel Prize...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mauled: iBear's greatest hits.

The following is a list of quotations (by me) on the subject of religion or mormonism that prompted enough of a good reaction that I'm going to post them here. Feel free to use them should the opportunity arise, but please remember to attribute them if possible. (To Rob Hogue or iBear; entries from iBear's Dictionary for Skeptics should ideally be attributed as such.)

Warning: this will be a lengthy post, as I am compiling my own list of "Greatest Hits." ;)

The second most horrifying idea ever proposed by the human race is that there is some sort of all-powerful voyeur in the sky watching our every move and waiting to punish us after we're dead.

The MOST horrifying idea ever proposed is that those of us who don't believe this nonsense are somehow less honest and compassionate than the fools who do.


Christianity is an institutionalization of fear.

Fear of death.
Fear of sex.
Fear of sin.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of guilt.
Fear of Hell.
Fear of God.
Fear that all of this is WRONG and there's nothing to be afraid of.

It's amazing they manage to get out of bed in the morning...


Jesus loves me!

Santa knows when I am sleeping, and knows when I'm awake.

Boba Fett thinks I'm no good to him dead.


mormon (noun): One who believes that there were horse-riding, steel-forging, elephant-taming, hebrew-speaking-but-reformed-e​gyptian-writing Jews in the Americas before Columbus, and that black people were less worthy in a previous life, women are undeserving of authority positions, and a series of secret handshakes will be required to get into heaven. - iBear's Dictionary for Skeptics


If God created everything, why would God want to hide it? He obviously went to absurd lengths to make sure it could NEVER be effectively traced back to him. So the real question is now which of these is true: On the seventh day God rested, or on the seventh day God laid low and wiped off all the fingerprints he'd left at the scene?


(In response to the infamous "What if you're wrong and meet God?" lunacy.)

Are you concerned about dying and confronting Allah, Osiris, Shiva, or Odin? Do you carry coins in your pocket on the off chance that the Greeks were right and you'd need passage for the ferry across the River Styx? Does the thought of facing one of these mythical figures that you don't believe in cause you even the slightest doubt or discomfort? No?

Think about that...and then try to imagine that I am no more concerned about meeting your God than you are about meeting any of those.


skeptic (noun): one who is willing to examine the beliefs he/she was raised with in the same light as the beliefs he/she was NOT raised with. Especially when actively dissuaded from doing so by friends and/or family members out of irrational fear. - iBear's Dictionary for Skeptics


(In response to the suggestion that the 6 days of Genesis were "miscalculated" and were actually "6,000,000,000,000 years.")

So the Bible doesn't mean what it says? What else was "miscalculated"?

Adam and Eve were actually 4000 different people?

Noah's Flood was local, not global?

Mary was not a virgin, and Jesus was not the Son of God?

He simply died, and was not resurrected?

How do you choose which parts are scripture, and which parts are "miscalculated"?

And at what point does this make the Bible entirely worthless?


Young-Earth Creationists claim the Earth is no more than 10,000 years old, and that fossils dated to 3 Billion years old are a mistake by scientists.

That's a margin of error of 300,000 to 1. Using that number, we discover that mammoths died out around 2 weeks ago, modern humans have arisen within the past 10 months, and dinosaurs went extinct during the 1790s. That's AFTER the American Revolution.

How do you think the history books missed that one? Was it supposed to be "One if by land, two if by sea, three if by PTERODACTYL!?"

And who can forget Paul Revere, riding through Boston warning the Colonials that "The RAPTORS are coming! The RAPTORS are coming!"

This is so stupid that it defies description.


For God so loved the world that he put all our retinas in backwards.


I won't get offended if somebody doubts my existence or takes my name in vain. I am cooler than God.


Mankind is afraid of the dark, and God is a security blanket.


The Emperor is naked...and you know it.


Have you seen the bumper sticker? "My karma ran over your dogma."

When will people learn to keep their dogma on a leash?


(In response to this direct quote: "Everyone has their own believes, weather you have thoeries or believes. You cant say one is more right or wrong than they other.")

One is supported by physical evidence.

The other is supported by warm fuzzy feelings.

I certainly CAN say that one of those is "more right or wrong than the other."


That's the problem with religious beliefs: absolutely NO evidence in the universe would change them. They are immune to evidence. They are immune to logic. They are immune to reality.

That's how you know something isn't real: reality has no effect on it.


You ever notice how NOBODY ever says you have to BELIEVE in gravity for it to work? Or that you have to have FAITH in the internal combustion engine and then your car will start?

Reality doesn't give a damn if you believe in it or not.


(In response to a passive-aggressive post on a Facebook Friend's status.)

It just seems to ME that if you really care about [name], you would SUPPORT him in his beliefs and even make an effort to understand where he's coming opposed to trying to make him feel guilty for "saddening" you with his atheist point of view and then threatening him with YOUR opinion on "his eternal happiness."

But maybe that's just me. I guess I can't expect religious people to be as supportive and understanding as the atheists I know...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

iBear is writing a book.

And this isn't the usual "I should write a book" stuff. This time I'm really writing a book.

I've actually already started. It's a book about atheism and religious belief, and the working title is Divine Epilepsy.

This references a wonderful quote that I encountered a few months ago:

"Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it divine. And so it is with everything in the universe."

– Hippocrates, Greek physician and the founder of modern Medicine, circa 400 B.C.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Today has been named as "Proud to be an Atheist Day!"

iBear presents this quote, which seems to sum it all up to me:

"I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men." - Robert G. Ingersoll

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Look what I found while moving!

My old early-morning seminary "Scripture-Scholar" plaques.

And before I threw them away, I snapped these photos for the next potato-brained TBM who decides to accuse me of "not understanding" mormon scripture.

(And yes, I know they're aligned every which way...stupid cell phone camera:P)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I can blog again! (!!!) :)

So I watched a couple of Creationism/Evolution debates on YouTube tonight. It's almost 5:30am and I haven't managed to go to sleep yet. It's not all bad...I'm listening to a song off the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack. It's called Discombobulate! :)

But I digress...

One of these debates featured the illustrious Christopher Hitchens. Now tonight was my first taste of Hitchens (I'm aware that makes me somewhat late to the party.) and he handled himself well. Technically that debate was "Theism vs. Atheism" rather than "Creationism/Evolution," although since it was ninety minutes long parts of it did wander into that territory. But the Theist's main position was that if one were to examine specific parts of life, humanity, and the universe then those specific pieces fit more easily--or "were more readily explained"--by the existence of some sort of creator. Hitchens handled the debate quite effectively, with a careful balance of humor and disdain; but I found myself surprised that he left out the most important point.

Science is not interested in those theories that best explain specific pieces. If the theory does not fit the entire picture, then it is not correct.

A few minutes later, something else occurred to me: this individual knew that. He wasn't debating a scientific theory, and he wasn't trying to. He was arguing a position, and he was trying to win.

The second video was somewhat frustrating: the creationist was a Young-Earth-Christian who apparently earns his living through debating. The man arguing "for evolution" was not a skilled debater, and failed to point out several jaw-dropping pieces of misinformation.

That second video was so frustrating, in fact, that I decided to offer this impromptu breakdown of a few of the more annoying tactics that a Creationist would utilise to defend their indefensible position. (*cough*Intelligent Design*cough*)

Note that while I'll mostly be focusing on attacks against the Theory of Evolution, you can use these tips (Oh yeah, there are going to be tips, too.) for several other related topics.

1: "Evolution can't explain how life arose from lifeless matter. It had to have all happened at once, too! You can't just make the cell, either; it has to feed itself, so a cell without mitochondria would die. No cell, no life. The simplest form of life has 428 genes, and nothing could survive unless it has at least 300, so you have to go from inorganic matter to 300 genes in one generation!"

I swear on a stack of biology books--and my copy of Lord of the Rings--that the guy in the video actually said something like this.

What's wrong with this argument? would actually be easier to point out what's not wrong with it. The punctuation looks good. Other than that...

Okay, this was clearly one of the more obvious and egregious (It is pronounced "egg-GREE-jious"!) examples. But how to you respond to something like this? (Besides with laughter?)

First of all, Random-Dude-From-the-United-Christian-Learning-Academy is wrong. Like really wrong. Like "it would be ethically irresponsible of me to not point out to you how wrong you are" wrong.

You see, evolution is something like a staircase: small changes made one step at a time eventually add up to larger changes. His argument can be boiled down to "Your staircase isn't real because you don't know where the front door is, and how can you go upstairs if you can't get in the house!?"

Yeah...he's that wrong.

But in fact, he's even wronger than that. Actually, the vast majority of bacteria do not have mitochondria, rendering that branch of his argument moot. (Not "mute," although when someone uses an argument like this it would be convenient if they came with a button to that effect...) Furthermore, there are in fact forms of life that do not have cells at all--viruses, for example. And thirdly, he is also utterly incorrect about the simplest form of life having genes at all: the simplest objects that scientists consider "living" are called prions, and they are comprised entirely of protein fragments. No DNA, no RNA. Just bits and pieces of amino acid chains.

Now why did this individual say these things when they're not actually correct? Is he stupid? Well the truth is that you don't have to be stupid to repeat incorrect information. (Repeating it during a televised debate? Yeah; that's stupid.) The majority of people who say these things simply don't know that they are incorrect. (All of a sudden I'm really having to walk a fine line to not call these people stupid...)

Wow...this has already run longer than I meant it to. Maybe you should get up and go to the bathroom or something.

I'll wait.

I'd also like to address the infamous "the Big Bang means that everything came from nothing" argument, if I may:

No it doesn't.

See how easy that is?

Okay, that's never going to satisfy Mr. United Christian Learning Academy. I'll try a little more.

The Big Bang does not mean that everything came from nothing. It simply means that everything used to be squashed into a really tiny space. If I blew up a car with explosives, would you be walking around going "How could all of this broken glass and twisted metal have come from nothing at all!?"

I sure as hell hope not.

Another one that was alluded to--though mercifully the poor man at least knew better than to play it straight with Hitchens--was the "without God, morality would be completely arbitrary" argument. And frankly, that's stupid. Plato knew that thousands of years ago, when he wrote what has become known as the "Euthyphro dilemma." Roughly modernized, it asks the question of whether God commands a good action--or forbids an evil one--because it is good or evil, or whether the action becomes good/evil because God has commanded/forbidden it.

In short, we all agree that murder is wrong; Christians believe that God has forbidden it. But did God forbid it because it was wrong, or is it wrong because God has forbidden it?

If the accusation about atheists and morality ever comes up, ask that question. Because if God merely forbade something which was already wrong, then what made it wrong? Discuss that, because by definition it means that right and wrong are innate, and not dependent on the instructions of a deity.

On the other hand if they claim that God's command makes it wrong, then ask this follow-up: "If God commanded someone to drown her three children in the bathtub, does that make it the right thing to do?" If possible point out that this is the very definition of arbitrary, but keep in mind that someone who holds this view is unlikely to take disagreement very calmly. (And keep him/her away from your children...)

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late) I couldn't sleep tonight, so I watched a couple of YouTube videos about Creationists debating atheists. And then I wrote this. And then you read it. And I think that brings you up to speed...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Been gone a while.

Not 100% my fault, as not only have I had problems with internet connection but my browser had to be forced to allow me to post to my blog. (I'm hoping it works this time...)

So as a brief test, I share a video:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Welcome to the Bible Belt...

Been awhile. Mostly because I've been working, combined with a complete lack of consistent internet access. One of those, in fact, is the subject of my first gripe of the night.

I'm working the register at a local gas station, and a young (mid-20s) woman rings up her purchases to the tune of $6.66. She panics. Literally. Suddenly she has to buy something else, in order to avoid the dreaded "Devil's Number." There was actual terror in this girl's eyes at the realization that she had bought six-six-six of something.

The most ironic part of all this? Her soda cost $1.66. The rest was lottery tickets.


Welcome to the Bible Belt.

There are literally more than four dozen churches in this town...and we're talking about a town of around 50-60 thousand people. And most of these aren't little community buildings, but multi-million-dollar monuments to Middle-Eastern mythology. (Alliteration is awesome:P) Apparently all these fundamentalist Christians were so busy counting the money in their collection plates that they forgot the thing about how "the meek shall inherit the earth."

I drive by these monumental monstrosities on my way to work, and my atheist brain simply can't believe that these behemoth eyesores are tax-exempt. When your church building costs millions of dollars to construct and has its own dedicated broadcast TV station (yes, you heard me correctly), you're not "non-profit" anymore.

And oh yeah...I'm an atheist now.

Now my regular readers (assuming I still have any of those left, or I can even call them "regular" anymore when I haven't updated this blog in months) might be a little confused right now, as I've previously drawn a bold distinction in this area: namely that I was an agnostic, not an atheist.

I am an agnostic and an atheist.

What changed my mind? Merely a more correct definition of "atheist." An atheist is nothing more or less than someone who lacks belief in any deities. And I do. I am what is commonly known as a "weak" atheist, in that I do not necessarily believe that no gods exist. But I am an atheist because I don't believe in any gods. I disbelieve all of the gods I've heard of. (That isn't news to anyone anymore.) But while I admit that there might be some sort of deity unlike any of the human constructions I know about, I can't claim to believe that there is. There might be gold in my backyard--and in fact it's not even completely implausible--but that doesn't mean I believe there's gold in my backyard.

I should never have moved to the Bible Belt. But then again, I should never have moved to Utah five years ago either. I wonder if there's a pattern here whenever I move to a rabidly-religious area...