Sunday, November 24, 2013


Although I am not a fan of the Buddha, I came across something he supposedly said recently and found it so true and rational that I thought I would share it:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha

If only more people thought this way.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Radical Islam

Here is a link to a video of an Islamic conference in Norway.  Starting at the 1:50 mark you will find one of the speakers asking the audience if they are radical Muslims.  They almost all deny that they are.  Then he asks them if they agree with separation of the sexes and the notion that the Koran's punishments should be applied worldwide (i.e., even to non-Muslims).  They almost all said yes.

Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have both already posted this video on their websites, so you may have seen it or heard of it already, but I think it is worth posting a link here just in case someone comes here who hasn't seen it.  In addition, my link is to the original posting of the video on YouTube, which is more illuminating than the video alone.

The "about" comment left by those who posted the video is an incredible example of irony and narcissistic blindness.  Apparently, they think that the video proves that Islamophobia exists and is unjustified.  Twice they state as a given that Islam is not to blame.  Therefore, it can only be western media who is to blame for labeling Islam as extreme and Muslims as radical.

Here is the first instance:

"If the common Muslims believe in these values that means that more or less all Muslims are radical and that Islam is a radical religion. Since this is not the case, as Islam is a peaceful religion and so are the masses of common Muslims, these Shaykhs cannot be radical. Rather it is Islamophobia from the ignorant western media who is more concerned about making money by alienating Islam by presenting Muslims in this way."

Notice how the crucial portion of this reasoning is presented as a given, something that is not supported by any evidence but which is simply accepted as true.

Of course, the film tends to prove exactly the opposite--that Islam itself is radical and intolerant.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dying ...

With regard to the fear of death, a flippant but insightful response is:

"Dying is easy--it's nothing."

When I say it's insightful, I am referring to the implicit point that after we die, we do not exist any more.  I tend to agree with what Mark Twain said on the subject:

"I do not fear death.  I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

This, of course, will be totally unacceptable to the mind of a religious person, but it might plant a seed--give them something to think about.  At some point in the future when they are thinking about religion, they may actually give it some thought. 

Of course, their first thought will be "I don't know how someone can believe that."  This notion of non-existence, especially their own non-existence, is one that I find religious people simply can't comprehend.  They have spent their whole lives thinking that it can never happen.  It is, however, an important one regarding both issues of death and birth--or more specifically, birth control.

Because they can't accept the notion of death being final, they have convinced themselves that their identity is separate from their bodies.  It is this notion that prevents them from seeing that life alone is not sufficient.  Everyone should have a decent life, if not a good one.  There really is no excuse for making people suffer needlessly.  Yet, that is exactly what their delusions about the immortal soul and the value of life cause.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Modern Day Martyrs

Every now and then I hear of claims by christians that a large number of them are martyred every year right down to the present day.  Generally, I have paid little attention to these claims because the numbers cited were always ridiculously high.  Usually the claim is that tens of thousands of christians are killed for their religion every year.  If that many christians were actually being killed for their religion, then I am sure we would all be well aware of the circumstances because it would be big media story.  Imagine how many newspapers, magazines, etc., could be sold in a religious country like the U.S. if they contained stories about christians being killed for their religion in such large numbers.

Well, I am happy to report that someone has looked into these claims and found that, just as I expected, the numbers are wildly exaggerated.  As is usually the case with claims by religious people, the exaggeration is based on dishonest accounting driven by an emotional desire to make sure others don't think they are bad people.  (The very essence of the religious mindset, no?)

An article reporting on these findings can be found on the BBC's website.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Fear of God

Anytime someone mentions the notion that the fear of god is the only basis for morality point out that

"the fear of punishment is the only morality a psychopath has."

I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to someone spout this nonsense without realizing that he or she was essentially confessing to being a psychopath.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement IX

The next time you hear a believer spreading the outrageous lie that Hitler or the Nazis were atheists and you want to reply with something relatively subtle and non-confrontational, you can simply ask the following:

"Why would atheists try to exterminate the Jews?"  (You can then add:  "A lot of Jews are atheists.")

Or you can say:

"Have there been other incidents where alleged atheists tried to kill or otherwise persecute Jews?"


"Do you have any evidence proving that atheists would hate Jews enough to persecute them?"  "Or have ever persecuted them?"

The truth, of course, is that atheists have no reason to hate Jews.  In fact, given that Jews tend to be much more tolerant of us than members of other religions, it might even be said that we are more likely to actually prefer them.  I know I usually do.  You can point that out as well:

"Jews have virtually no history of hostility toward atheists.  In fact, they are usually quite tolerant of usAn atheist would be much more likely to see Jews as natural allies because we are both hated and persecuted by Christians and Muslims."

This point is a good example of the type of relatively subtle points we need to make.  It points out a rather obvious problem with the way the religious think without being too confrontational.  It is highly unlikely that the religious person has ever given this any thought.  At most, they may have some vague notion that the holocaust was a sort of attempt to practice Darwinism, which, in their minds, is inextricably bound up with atheism.

While they are right that atheism and Darwinism are connected, there is no connection between Darwinism and the holocaust

The Holocaust was clearly an example of "artificial selection" not "natural selection". Artificial selection was around for thousands of years before Darwin and has nothing to do with his ideas. His idea was that natural selection, over time, would result in the creation of different species. There is nothing in Darwin's work about artificially selecting members of your species for extermination because they don't have the right religion. That is an age old religious idea.

People with evil intent will always look for ways to make their goals seem respectable, and there are undoubtedly people who invoke Darwin to support their callous social politics. In fact, I have heard people do just that. They happened to be religious people, however.

Calling it Darwinism is a misnomer and a perversion of Darwin's thesis. Because there is no evolution of a new species occurring or even being encouraged. Such people may talk about breeding "new men", but they don't intend to bring about a new species. They simply intend to cull the herd of those they consider defective.

Darwin's thesis has two essential components: 1) natural selection over time--which has no design but is brutally non-random; and 2) accumulation of naturally selected traits resulting in the creation of new and distinct species.

So-called "social Darwinism" has neither of these.

Making the point that atheists have no reason to persecute Jews could thus give you a chance to correct the religious person's thinking with regard to Darwinism.

In any event, the point can act like one of the little thought barbs I recommend you throw into the workings of religious minds where they can fester over time and perhaps lead the religious person to think deeper about his or her beliefs--which can only lead to questioning them.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Purpose of Religion... IV

One of the purposes of religion is to distract people from the injustices of the world.  Baron d'Holbach said it quite well in his work "Good Sense" (the title is sometimes translated as "Common Sense"):

"We are told, that divine qualities are not of a nature to be comprehended by finite minds. The natural consequence must be, that divine qualities are not made to occupy finite minds. But religion tells us, that the poor finite mind of man ought never to lose sight of an inconceivable being, whose qualities he can never comprehend. Thus, we see, religion is the art of turning the attention of mankind upon subjects they can never comprehend."

 This work was first published in 1772 and was primarily a summation of his more famous work "The System of Nature".  This particular point is related to others; it concerns the use of religion to control people, particularly the downtrodden.  It can be rephrased as follows:

"The purpose of religion is to keep people distracted so they don't give too much thought to the injustices they see around them."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Newton's Times

I have written several posts explaining that Isaac Newton had to be religious because of the era in which he lived.  Had he not been, it is highly unlikely that we would have ever heard of him.  In particular, see Newton, the Heretic and Newton and Einstein.

For those who doubt my assertions regarding the intolerance and barbarity prevalent during Newton's life, I recommend researching the case of Thomas Aikenhead, a Scottish University student who was hung in January of 1697 for blasphemy because he expressed opinions casting doubt on Christianity and the Bible.  In fact, his opinions were very similar to those of many atheists and skeptics today.

Aikenhead lived and was executed at the time that Newton's career was reaching its zenith.  I don't know if he could have been a great thinker or not.  We will never know.  But, we do know from the example of his case that Newton could not have even finished his education if he had not been a believer.

Thus, as I have asserted before, Newton's status as a believer proves nothing regarding the intelligence of believers.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Where Do You Get Your Morals?

Don't you hate it when theists ask us non-believers where we get our morals?  Usually this is the absolute sign that you are dealing with a bigot.  A bigot who has the moral philosophy of a 2 year old.

Well, here is an answer you might try:

"I get them from something called compassion, not from some sadistic bronze age myth."

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Purpose of Religion... III

This particular purpose served by religion seems to be best stated by looking at those whose purposes are being served:

"A church is just a gang with its own creation myth."

The purpose here, of course, is to identify the gang members, so that they know who to trust, and then provide a structure to make sure they are loyal and under control.

Abortion Is Murder, They Say

In recent decades, the religious have seized upon abortion as their moral "cause" that they use to rally the troops and try to seize power.

Of course, they also use it as a litmus test in order to re-assert the bigoted notion that they are moral and the rest of us are not.  That notion took quite a beating (a well-deserved one, I might add) after the deeds of the "Christian" nations of Central Europe during the Holocaust were exposed to the world.

These days the abortion issue has become such a hot button issue in the U.S. that I advise avoiding the topic altogether.  You can't hope to get through to those who disagree, and as soon as the topic comes up it becomes impossible to even talk to religious people.  They lose all rationality.  Not even changing the subject will work at that point because the rational part of their brain is not in control and won't be in control again for some time.  It is best to just walk away--quickly.

In this situation, religious people become dangerous--to you.  Letting them know that you disagree will cause you to be targeted by them and their friends and fellow church members.  The best that you can hope for is that they will only bad mouth you amongst themselves.

If you feel you must say anything or are in a situation to speak safely because of anonymity, distance, or some other factor that protects you, then the best response is simply to point out that there is much more at stake with this issue than the potential life of a child.

Our world is dangerously overpopulated, and, in my opinion, many social ills including mental illness, crime, and suicide result from bringing unwanted children into the world.

Consequently, when someone says that abortion is murder, you can sum up the situation by saying:

"Bringing unwanted children into the world is a crime against humanity."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Purpose of Religion... II

The other day I published the first of a planned set of posts regarding the different purposes that religion serves (with an emphasis, of course, on the negative purposes that the religious won't let themselves see or acknowledge).

That first post on the subject pointed out that religion often serves the purpose of manipulating people to get them to fight wars or otherwise kill their fellow man and still feel like they haven't done anything wrong.

The subtext of that purpose is something that I have touched on before, which is the human tendency to form in-groups and out-groups and then assume very different moral rules regarding each.  Those in a person's in-group are assumed to be owed a high standard of moral duty.  Those in the out-group are assumed to be owed a much lower standard of moral duty--if any at all.

Religion takes advantage of this tendency by dividing people into groups, each of which is necessarily an out-group to those in other groups.  Unfortunately, religion goes a step further by teaching the members of each group that only their group is good and moral.  Thus, members of other groups must necessarily be evil and immoral.  Religion exaggerates this natural tendency and thus greatly amplifies and exacerbates the inevitable side effect of promoting and escalating conflicts between groups.

In other words, religion teaches not just that its members have less of a duty toward members of other groups, it teaches that members of their group have a moral duty to be hostile toward members of other groups--even to the point of having a moral duty to persecute them.  Religion teaches (implicitly and sometimes explicitly) that there is a moral duty to persecute those who disagree.

"Religion doesn't just allow believers to feel good about themselves after killing others, it makes them feel like they have a duty to do the killing in the first place."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Purpose of Religion...

If you are like me, you have noticed how religion seems to serve many purposes for many people.  Usually it serves multiple purposes for any one person throughout his or her lifetime and, often, multiple purposes simultaneously (or nearly so).

So, I have decided that I should state, to the best of my ability, what some of those purposes are.

Some are so easy to spot that even believers can do it.  Such as the comfort it provides in times of grief.  In fact, this is usually the emotional trump card they pull out to keep us atheists quiet.  "Come on!  Don't say that here.  You know Grandma is still grieving for Grandpa.  She might hear you."

Other purposes are less obvious, especially to believers.  They only see what they want to believe and they want to believe that their cherished delusion is actually a blessing.  So, naturally, they tend to be quite blind to the purposes that reveal anything bad about religion--especially when those things are actually horrific.

Naturally we atheists can see these purposes clearly because we do not have an emotional investment in religion.

One of those purposes is as blindingly obvious now as it was to Constantine, the future Emperor and saint, when he stood before that bridge 1700 years ago:

"The purpose of religion is to get you people to kill each other and feel good about it."

I think it was equally obvious to the men who agreed to sell out their church and its alleged principles for power and money.

As you can tell, some of these "purposes" could be considered insulting if delivered in the wrong time, place, or manner.  If you use them, do so wisely and gently.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

They Are Not "Pro-Life"

In recent decades religious people have attempted to regain the high moral ground that they lost as a result of the holocaust by suddenly proclaiming that they are "pro-life".  By this term they are seeking to convince us all that their political policy of encouraging their members to breed without limit actually reflects their prohibition against any sort of killing.

Of course, their history and their holy writings tell us quite clearly that they are not against killing by any means.  And their apparent indifference to the suffering (and often early death) of many of these extra, unwanted children tells us rather clearly just how little they really care about them or their lives.

Likewise, the recent publicity concerning the longstanding problem of pedophilia among the clergy shows quite clearly just how little most churches, both clergy and laity, care about children.  Almost uniformly, the concern of the church and its members is focused on the church's reputation--not at all on the well being of the children who were the victims of horrible crimes perpetrated by those in positions of trust.  In fact, the churches usually are quite willing to sacrifice the well-being of those children in order to protect the church.  Many of the children go on to commit suicide or live blighted lives.

These churches (including both clergy and laity) are actually interested in their own political power.  Their concern for their reputation and the growth of their flock make that abundantly clear.

I think we all need to understand where these churches are trying to take our society.  Their endgame, even if they don't realize it, is the extermination of all other groups.  They plan to outbreed everyone else, thereby seizing power and forcing the rest of us to either conform or face the wrath of a combined, intolerant church and state.  This combined wrath will make it very difficult for dissenters to successfully have children of their own.  They simply won't be able to afford them, even assuming they are not killed or imprisoned.

If, in the process, the planet becomes dangerously overcrowded, resulting in the death or misery of millions or even billions that don't belong to the right church, then so be it.  They don't care about that--at least, not enough to stop it, even though they could.

Consequently, I think the "pro-life" movement should be referred to as "pro-overpopulation" or "pro-extinction".  Don't let the religious fanatics get away with branding their poisonous product with feel good labels.  Call it what it is, using a name that highlights the horrible fate that awaits us if they get their way.

When the religious start their "pro-life", holier than thou crap, you can respond:

"You aren't pro-life, you are pro-overpopulation, which means you are also pro-extinction of everyone else and perhaps even everything else."

Of course, it is often best not to respond at all when they start in on the issue of abortion.  Their emotions have been whipped up to the point of murder on that topic.  Engaging them on it can be very hazardous. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hate God?

If you ever have the delightful experience of meeting a theist who claims that you just hate god, you can say:

"I don't hate god, I hate irrationality."

We have to remember that our ideas are superior to those of the religious.  Superior both intellectually and morally.  When dealing with believers, almost all of whom are wildly and grossly prejudiced against us, just keep returning to those ideas.  Truth and rationality will always be superior to irrationality.  It just takes more time for some people to see this.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Here, in my usual nutshell form, is my reason for thinking that atheism is actually the true path to "enlightenment".

"You already are one with the universe, you just don't know it.  Enlightenment is realizing it."

Atheists know this, though I don't know how many of them have actually realized it consciously.  If they give it the thought it deserves, I think they will see that this is true.  We are all simply a manifestation of the universe.

We living beings are what happens in the universe when the conditions are right.  In some of the instances of life, a lifeform may become sufficiently aware and intelligent to realize what he or she truly is:  A bit of dust granted the temporary privilege of consciousness; the universe waking up to take a look at itself.

Once one realizes this truth, the petty struggles of mankind seem foolish at best, monstrous at worst.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Newton, the Fanatic

I recently published two posts concerning Isaac Newton's character and proper place in intellectual history based on the BBC documentary, Newton:  The Dark Heretic, about his life and less well known works.  Often held up by believers as an example of a "smart" believer, Newton actually illustrates some rather disturbing things about religion and the harm it has done over the centuries.

Much of what Newton accomplished can be attributed to his religious fanaticism.  Apparently, he worked on his academic pursuits every waking minute as a way of keeping his mind off temptations of the flesh.  This propensity of his is very common amongst the most religious (the fanatics).

This is where the "smart" believers originate.  Generally, they are not so much intelligent as very well educated.  Their achievements come from their complete dedication to academic pursuits.  They achieve this complete dedication by pouring all their sexual energy (and their egos) into their studies.

This is one of the dirty secrets of religion.  Religions achieve power both by numbers of adherents and by the positions those adherents occupy in their society.  Teaching that sexual urges are inherently evil causes many in the flock to sublimate those urges and use them to drive other achievements that can help the church.

Those who cannot resist the urges are encouraged to marry and have as many children as possible.

Thus, the church uses the most powerful of urges to further its own cause at the expense of the members of the flock.  They are convinced to either dedicate their entire lives to achieving power on behalf of the church or to raising more members for the church.  Either way, their entire lives are essentially taken by the church--to the detriment not only of the church members but to the detriment of society as a whole.

Those who achieve power are there largely to engage in systematic discrimination in an effort to further the interests of the church.  Those who become breeders have caused our world to become overpopulated, which threatens the well-being of all of us.

This relentless, remorseless, manipulative quest for power helps explain why so many religions are obsessed with sex.  Religions obsessed with sex are more likely to survive and achieve power in a society for the reasons I mention above.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Believe In Nothing II

In my previous post on this topic I suggested that one response to the charge that "atheists don't believe in anything" is to say that we believe in reality.  It occurred to me recently that this response lacks sufficient emotional punch, in part because it is circular (i.e., assumes that atheists are right and that our view is reality) and, more important, because it lacks a moral aspect to counter the moral condemnation implicit in the "believe in nothing" accusation leveled at us.

So, I would like to suggest that a better response is:

"Atheists believe in the truth."

That is our primary concern:  Is the assertion at issue true.  Concern for truth is moral and is morally superior over any view that does not concern itself with the truth.  Of course, if you continue the conversation with a believer after using this reply, you will have to explain to him why this is an accurate statement about atheists but not about religious people. 

Accepting a proposition on faith is, by definition, not a determination based on an assessment of its truth.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What's Wrong With Theocracy?

Many times when I mention the threat posed by the religious right in America, I get a dismissive response.  The thinking usually seems to be that if we just give the theocrats some school prayer and vouchers and overturn Roe v. Wade for awhile that will keep them happy.  This seems quite bad enough to me, but even more disturbing is the full implication of tearing down the wall of separation between church and state:  We must remember that religious notions of power are universal.

So, if you meet someone who doubts whether separation of church and state is really that important, just point out:

"Once you give someone arbitrary power, you have given him all power."

Religion is a limitless theory.  It covers whatever the members of the religion say it covers, and does so in the way they say is right.

That's bad enough for a supposed hypothesis of fact, but when you turn it into a political theory, it's clear you are proposing giving someone arbitrary and capricious power over all aspects of your existence.

Newton, the Narcissist

In my earlier post on the many disquieting things one learns about Isaac Newton from his private writings I provided a link to a BBC documentary regarding his life as revealed in his private writings.  One of the things revealed was the extent to which Newton was a classic case of religion as an expression of pathological narcissism.

Newton, it seems, was convinced that he was chosen by god to learn god's secrets.  Thus, his obsessive study of alchemy, mathematics, and the solar system were a product of his devotion to the god that had "chosen" him to perform these tasks.

In the link provided in my previous post, there is a quotation from the producer of the documentary that is quite revealing but not contained in the documentary itself:
"Producer Malcolm Neaum says: 'Newton prayed daily for the end of the world which he believed would herald the Second Coming of Christ. This would usher in the 1000 year rule of the Saints and Newton believed he would then take his place as Chief Saint.'"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Newton, the Heretic

In their vain attempts to prove that religious belief isn't limited to those with limited intellects, religious people often point to Isaac Newton to prove their point.  As I pointed out previously in my post on this subject, Newton had to be religious because he lived in a time and place that was wildly intolerant of those who were not.

For this reason, it was inevitable that any early scientist in European history would be religious.  It was virtually impossible to survive at all if one were not--much less get an education and be able to publish one's works.

In fact, Newton lived in an age where even disagreements that seem minor to most people living today could result in the ruin of a career or a life--and could even result in the death penalty.

Newton himself provides an example of this.  He came to believe that the doctrine of the Trinity was untrue, a later imposition upon Christianity by the early Catholic Church.  This made him guilty of heresy (which is just Greek for choosing to think for yourself).  He had to keep this opinion to himself until he was on his death bed because revealing it would have ruined him or even resulted in his death.

Newton was also a dedicated alchemist.  One might even say that he was obsessive in his pursuit of alchemy.  These aspects of Newton's life are explored in the BBC documentary "Newton:  The Dark Heretic".

The documentary explains that Newton's hagiographers convinced the world that he was the first of the age of reason.  This was only possible, however, because most of his writings were in his own secret code and kept from the public.

In 1936, many of his previously unpublished (and perhaps never even previously read by others) were sold at auction.  The economist John Maynard Keynes bought a large number of them.  After breaking Newton's code, he was shocked to discover that Newton was not the man of reason that Keynes and many others thought him to be.  Keynes said of him:

"Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Today is Earth Overshoot Day.  For those who haven't heard of it, Earth Overshoot Day is the day in the year on which human consumption of the earth's resources exceeds the amount the earth can replenish within the year.  In other words, the day on which we began to consume our children's legacy, the very future of the planet as a viable home for mankind.  With each passing year, this day comes earlier and earlier, which bodes ill for the future of mankind.

Once again, I am wondering how anyone can claim to be pro-life when he or she supports practices and policies that threaten the very future of mankind.  It seems to me that those who seem to be working toward the extinction of mankind (not to mention a huge number of other species) cannot accurately call themselves pro-life.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Film Clip About the Origins of Christianity

Below is a film clip that I found on YouTube the other day.  It lays out a plausible theory that Christianity and other religions originating in the Middle East are based on early Sun worship and astrology.  I cannot vouch for the credibility of the factual assertions.  In fact, I suspect that some may be hyperbole or wishful thinking.  The film is, however, quite illuminating and entertaining. 

One thing that I noticed about the points put forth in the film that was apparently not noticed by the writers and producers is the connection between an apparent mistranslation of one of Jesus' prophecies and current events, specifically global warming.

The film points out that when Jesus supposedly said that he would be with "us" to the end of time was actually a mistranslation.  The word used in the original text, "aeon", is better translated as "age" or "era".  Thus, what Jesus actually said was that he would be with us until the end of the age.

That point is significant because, as the film points out, Jesus was born at the beginning of the astrological age of Pisces, which will end around the year 2150.  At that time the age of Aquarius will begin.  Remember the Fifth Dimension song of the same name?  (Also, used in the Broadway show and movie "Hair".)

According to the song, in the age of Aquarius "peace will guide the planet and love will steer the stars".

The filmmakers did note that the symbol for Christianity is a fish and for Pisces is two fish (and they mention Jesus feeding a multitude--supposedly--with two fish and five loaves).  What they did not mention is that because of global warming many parts of the Earth may well be flooded by the year 2150--the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, which is the water sign.

If atheism were a religion, and I were superstitious, I might claim that this was a prophecy that Christianity would disappear around that time.  In fact, it may well disappear around that time because humanity may begin to realize that global warming and the resulting flooding and other forms of harm are a direct result of religion's influence on history.

After all, were it not for religion no one would be debating whether birth control should be used.  It is clear that our world is overpopulated and that global warming, not to mention the utter inability of our society to acknowledge it and make plans to stop it, is a direct result.

"Peace will guide the planet and love will steer the stars".  Hmm. . .  sounds like a prophecy of the end of religion to me!  If only. 

Here is the film.  Enjoy:

Friday, August 9, 2013


The essential difference between religious people and non-believers is that non-believers want information while religious people merely want confirmation.  In particular, they want the confirmation of others.  They make confirmation bias into an active world view.  In fact, it is usually one of the primary tenets of their religion that they should not seek information or think about things independently.

Non-believers, on the other hand, want to know the truth, even if it means learning they were wrong.  This is the primary reason that it is a waste of time to debate religious people--unless you are doing it for the benefit of a third party audience that might contain people with more open minds.  Non-believers and believers simply have different definitions of the point of the debate.  They define "winning" the debate differently.

If you are ever accused of being "unwilling to debate", "unwilling to listen", or "being close-minded", you can respond with:

"Non-believers seek information, believers seek confirmation.  Therefore, it is a waste of my time to debate you.  You are not looking for the truth."

You can also say:

"A person who takes things on faith is, by definition, close-minded.  That's you, not me."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement VIII

Below is a very brief film clip from "Hitler: Tyrant of Terror" showing German soldiers swearing loyalty to Hitler.  Notice they swear "by god" and the oath is a "holy oath".  This is not the sort of thing one would expect from an atheist regime.  Not at all.


Science Deniers

I recently came across an article in Salon about the scientific method and those who deny its validity.  It's an excellent article.  Here is a bit that outlines its core thesis:

"People learned that science, as a tool, as a lens to create an upside-down way of looking at the world, made life better. Your natural tendency is to start from a conclusion and work backward to confirm your assumptions, but the scientific method drives down the wrong side of the road and tries to disconfirm your assumptions. A couple of centuries back people began to catch on to the fact that looking for disconfirming evidence was a better way to conduct research than proceeding from common belief. They saw that eliminating suspicions caused the outline of the truth to emerge. Once your forefathers and foremothers realized that this approach generated results, in a few generations your species went from burning witches and drinking mercury to mapping the human genome and playing golf on the moon."

The article is actually an excerpt from a new book by David McRaney, "You Are Now Less Dumb."  It sounds like it might be worth buying.  The author also has a blog called "You Are Not So Smart" and a previous book with the same name as his blog.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Nature of God

I have mentioned before that the god of the bible and koran sounds like a psychopathic boyfriend who should be subject to a restraining order.  I recently came across this graphic making the same point and thought I would share it:

Have no one before me

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Real Christian Is Intolerant

One of the phenomena associated with religion that, frankly, makes me laugh, is the tendency of believers to accidentally speak the truth on occasion.  Most of the time they stick to the talking points provided by their leaders so as not to alienate the public.  On occasion, however, the truth slips out.  Such an occasion occurred during one of the "Atheist Experience" webcasts.  (If you are not familiar with these programs, I highly recommend them.  They are often quite entertaining in the "Fundies say the darnedest things" kind of way.)

In this case, the caller apparently did not realize what he was actually saying until the panelists laughed at him.  Though, in fact, what he said is not a laughing matter.  We all need to take it deadly seriously.  I am sure the panelists were simply amazed that he would actually say such a thing out loud, which is the same reason I laugh at such incidents.

What the caller said was that if a person is not intolerant, then he is not a real Christian.  Listen for yourself.  The video I am inserting here is on Youtube and is quite brief.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Golden Rule

One of the most pernicious aspects of religion is its claim to be the source of morality.  It is this false claim that is used to support its vicious bigotry and its specious claims to the right to power over others.  This claim is so baseless that it is a wonder anyone believes it.  Like religion itself, however, it survives by dint of repetition and childhood brainwashing.

Not too long ago, I came across a video of the religion writer, Karen Armstrong, asserting indignantly in a talk at a TED conference that religion is a force for good.

Ms. Armstrong, along with many others, tried to redeem religion by claiming that it is the source of the golden rule.  Yet, her presentation undermined her point by mentioning that Confucianism may have been the first tradition to express the golden rule.

Unfortunately for her argument, Confucianism is not a religion in the usual sense of the word.  It does not feature a belief in the supernatural or a supernatural entity.  It is a philosophy.  Confucius was not a religious leader in any sense.  He was merely a successful Chinese bureaucrat who became renowned for his wisdom and perspicacity. 

The fact that Confucius formulated the golden rule (500 years before Christ) without the help of divine inspiration or fear of divine retribution should make quite clear that it is a notion we can all understand and arrive at independently of any belief in the supernatural.

"Religion doesn't give us the golden rule.  The golden rule is just common sense and has been around longer than the religions that try to claim it as their own." 

What one sees with religions is that while they all spout the golden rule on occasion, they riddle it with exceptions--sometimes arbitrary, capricious, and cruel exceptions.  More damningly, religion creates an divide between the members of a religion and everyone else in the world, which causes the believers to see outsiders as bad and not entitled to the same treatment as those in their church. 

The history of religion shows rather clearly that this divide nullifies the golden rule with regard to those outside the believer's particular religion.  In fact, many religious doctrines and the preachments supporting them seem to be nothing more than thinly veiled ploys to demonize everyone outside that particular church.

"Religion gives people a way to get around the golden rule and still feel like they have done nothing wrong."

This aspect of religion is what makes it so useful to the psychopaths in the flock (often including the clergy).  By effectively nullifying the golden rule, religion turns the flock into a mob that can then be directed by its manipulative leaders to attack anyone the leaders choose.  Because they have been convinced that the golden rule doesn't really apply to whomever they are told to target, the members of the flock happily ignore it. 

In addition, usually the leaders of the flock will convince its members that morality requires that the "others" be punished.  This allows the members of the flock to attack with unrestrained fury.  The flock will often consist of bullies and others with emotional issues who are often only too happy to find a target for their repressed rage (more on this in a later post).

Thus, another potential response is to say:

"Religion allows religious and political leaders to manipulate others into committing atrocities and then console themselves afterward with the notion that it was necessary or that they have been forgiven."

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement VII

I have posted numerous times on this subject because I find it disturbing that so many religious apologists are trying to claim that the Nazis were atheists.  These claims are lies.  They are hate speech.  They are code for "kill them all".

I have pointed out the overwhelming evidence that they Nazis were Christians, but there is one particularly damning piece of evidence that I did not include in previous posts:  The Nazi Party Platform.  It states in Article 24:
"The Party stands for positive Christianity, without associating itself with any particular denomination." 
This, one would think, would put the debate to an end conclusively.  The Christian nature of the Nazi Party was enshrined in its very platform, which is a political party's defining document.  But, given the devious and dishonest nature of religion and religious people, the debate rages on as the religious' lust for power rather than truth causes them to, once again, play on the ignorance of the populace.

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement II

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement III

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement IV

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement V

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement VI

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In His Image

Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life. -- Aristotle

Believers like to tell everyone that man was created by god in his own image.  But, as astute thinkers have noted for centuries, it is actually quite clear that men create their gods in their own images.  A study done a few years ago, shows this to be true.

The researchers (Epley, et al.) asked religious test subjects about their own views, the views of god, and the views of other people.  They found that people ascribed views to god that were much more in line with their own views than their estimations of other people's beliefs.

After the researchers asked the test subjects to present counterarguments to their own beliefs, they found that the subjects would often modify their own and "god's" beliefs in the same way but would not think that the beliefs of others had changed so much.

Finally, a neuroimaging study of the test subjects found that when asked about god's beliefs, the test subjects showed brain activity in the same area of the brain that was active when thinking about their own beliefs.  But, when asked about other people's beliefs, a different part of the brain was active.

This study confirms the conclusions of numerous astute observers throughout history.  Gods are merely the overlarge projections of the believer's personality.  It is yet another bit of evidence piled on the mountain of evidence that gods are figments of the human imagination.

Frankly, I have always thought that this insight should be combined with Robert A. Heinlein's observation:
Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
Thus, when a religious person (for some reason) tells you that we are made in god's image, you can say something like

"We created god in our image, and the picture isn't a pretty one."

To which you can add

"I find it disturbing that you can't see that the god of Abraham is a deplorable character."

Because it is disturbing that so many people can be aware of the tales told about this god without noticing how disturbing and immoral they are.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Nothing can be quite so frustrating, even infuriating, as being accused of "intolerance" by a religious person.  One relatively neutral initial response you can give is: 

"I am tolerant of every belief except one:  The belief that you don't owe me the same courtesy."

If need be, you can then delve into the history of religion and the intolerance that seems to always follow it around.

The fact is that the religious have been extremely intolerant of anyone outside their religion for centuries.  They have been most intolerant of non-believers.  For centuries, the official policy of Christian churches was to exterminate non-believers in the most brutal way possible.  Even now, many of them will go out of their way to hurt, as much as they can, any non-believer they meet.

Thus, a more aggressive response could be:

"For centuries, your church's official policy was to exterminate people like me.  For you to accuse me of intolerance is the moral, historical, and logical equivalent of a Nazi accusing a Jew of intolerance."

That response is a little long, but the first part of it is necessary.  If you simply deliver the second sentence alone, all the believer will hear is that you are comparing his church to the Nazi party.  While this comparison is valid even without pointing out the history, because the Nazis were Christians, it is best to remind the person that there are facts that make the statement true and that it is not simply name calling.

Nevertheless, because of their tendency to take everything personally, you will probably be accused of simply making an ad hominem attack.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fear of Death II

Yesterday I published a brief post about the relationship between war and religion.  In it I made the point that religion not only aids the persecution of wars by psychologically preparing the populace but also can be said to be war itself because of the way it divides people and causes them to harm each other.

Buried in that post was the observation that religion makes both dying and killing easier.  This is an important point that often gets overlooked when discussing the merits of religion.  It is also a very good rejoinder to many of the attacks the religious level at us nonbelievers.

One of the most common attacks we hear is that we are trying to deprive people of the comfort religion gives them.  In particular, the comfort people get when faced with death--either their own or that of a loved one.  As I pointed out in my first post on the Fear of Death, this attack is really just an admission that religion is a delusion. 

Pointing out that it is an admission that religion is a delusion when faced with this criticism of atheism is a good start.  When faced with the more specific criticism that we are making it harder for people to face death, however, I think a very good reply is to say that it should be hard for people to face death.  Death is a bad thing.  It is not something to take lightly.

Virtually no one takes his or her own death lightly, but the death of others is often taken far too lightly.  By convincing people that death is merely a transition and not an end, religion makes it much easier for people to take the death of others lightly.

Thus, a couple of responses to the criticism that we are depriving people of comfort in the face of death could be:

"Don't you realize that by making your own death easier to face, you are making the deaths of others much easier to contemplate?"


"Good, death should be hard to face, because it is the end of someone's existence and not just a transition."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Religion IS War

Religion IS war.  It is the necessary first step in organizing and galvanizing a population for war.  It teaches the people to think of themselves and their cause as good and to see the "others" as irredeemably badIt gives them a way to quell the fear they might feel at the thought of their own deaths in war and the guilt they might feel over the thought of killing other people.

Once this dividing and demonizing of the "other" occurs, the war has begun--even if no one has committed an overtly violent act.  The effect of this process is to marginalize or even ostracize those who don't belong to the dominant religious group within a society.  This leaves them with little or no way to lead an ordinary life.  They will not be able to have as many friends--if any.  They will not be able to find a mate--or at the very least will be forced to choose from the least desirable available.  They may not even be able to find work and will be forced to live in poverty.  And, as Mahatma Ghandi said:  "Poverty is the worst kind of violence."

Here is a link to an article in the European Journal of American Studies concerning the history of the attitudes of people (particularly in the U.S.) toward atheists.  The article lays out in detail length, depth, and breadth of prejudice in Western Society and in the U.S. toward atheists.

Here are a few brief summations of these points:

1.  "Religion is a form of warfare--even if no violence is used."

2. "Religion is the original weapon of mass destruction."

3. "Religion divides people into mutually exclusive groups and gives them no way to form a single group without violence."

4. "Religion always results in bias against outsiders."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Can I Get a Witness? II

In my previous post on this subject, I pointed out the illogic of expecting religious people to be more honest as witnesses than atheists.  Religious people are admittedly completely biased (i.e., faith) and therefore unable to be honest with even themselves.  If a person can't be honest with himself, one cannot expect him to be honest with anyone.

What makes this situation worse is that the religious person has absolutely no idea when he is making untrue statements.  He or she has been raised to think that choosing "facts" based on how he or she feels about them is not only perfectly normal and acceptable but a positive virtue in many cases.

In fact, religious people invariably assume that this sort of "rationalizing" approach to thinking is the norm.  This is one of the reasons they so often accuse non-believers of rejecting god because they don't want to follow god's rules.  They assume that we, too, are simply rationalizing our pre-formed desires.

In my opinion this sort of argument is another of those non-arguments in which the religious are implicitly admitting that they know their beliefs are delusions.  At the very least, they are admitting to rationalizing--especially if they say they think you are doing it because that is what everybody does.

If they do say such a thing to you, try to get them to admit that they have just implicitly admitted that this is how they think about religion.  That they are rationalizing their desires rather than rationally seeking the truth.

Then, you can quote or paraphrase Richard Feynman, who said in a lecture in 1964 (speaking about the scientific process):
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool."
One of the best paraphrases of this that I have heard came from Prof. Lawrence Krauss, who rendered it as "the easiest person to fool is yourself".

If need be, you can follow up by explaining that fooling yourself (rationalizing) can have deadly real world consequences.  Feynman was on the committee that investigated the Challenger disaster in the 1980's.  In the committee's report there is a sentence that has Feynman's imprint:
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." 
Science provides the tools--the process--to avoid fooling oneself and avoid the inevitable disaster when nature is not fooled.  That process is infinitely superior to the one taken by the religious mindset, which is that something is true only if they want it to be true.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Religion Is Like a Penis

I am sure most of you have seen or heard this before, but it is worth considering again not only because it is a great quotation to have handy to use against those who seek to proselytize but because of a little irony implicit in its words.

First, the quotation:

Religion is like a penis.
It's fine to have one.
It's fine to be proud of it.
But, please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around.
And PLEASE don't try to shove it down my children's throats.
--Author unknown

Some people like to change the last line to say "anyone's throat" rather than "my children's throats", but I left it this way to help make a point.

This quotation is a summation of the "live and let live" viewpoint so often espoused by many believers and non-believers alike.  As I have pointed out, this sort of philosophy has to be a two way street.  Both sides have to agree to live and let live and then actually follow through on their agreement.  Otherwise, the notion is empty words at best, a complete capitulation by one side at worst.  Therein lies the problem.

The trouble is that religious people don't seem to be capable of living up to the "live and let live" sentiment.  Partly, this is because many religions actually require their members to actively recruit new members.  It is also partly because most religious people truly believe that there are dire consequences awaiting anyone who does not belong to their particular church.  They consequently feel it incumbent on them to try to "save" the rest of us.

More ominous than the concerted effort to "save our souls", however, is the situation where religious people believe that the rules of their religion are the only "correct" rules and trump anything that contradicts them, such as the law.  Such people will try to argue that we should change the law to reflect their beliefs and, when that doesn't work, will work behind the scenes to effectuate changes in society that effectively nullify the law.

This sort of behavior clearly does not constitute allowing others to lead their lives as they see fit.  Instead, it is a dishonest, and sometimes criminal, effort to interfere in the lives of others.

I would like to postulate that it is absurd to expect people to ever live up to the "live and let live" standard of religious freedom if they won't stop their priests and preachers from literally shoving their penises down the throats of the children in the congregation.

This is not only something to keep in mind, it is also something to point out to fellow non-believers who chastise you for being critical of religion.  The "live and let live" ideal is totally foreign to many, if not most, religious people.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Prejudice in a Fancy Dress

Recently, I read "Crimes Against Logic:  Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders", by Jamie Whyte, a young English philosopher.  I would have suggested a little re-organizing and editing to make the book more enjoyable to read, but other than that small criticism, I highly recommend it.

In the book, Mr. Whyte lists faith as one of his crimes against logic.  He does so for the same reason that I call religion dishonest:  Because it isn't honest to believe in one unproven and unprovable proposition while rejecting all similar propositions.  Mr. Whyte's phrase for this it the title of my post today:  Prejudice in a fancy dress.  He gets the credit for coining that phrase in this context, and I would suggest we all remember it for future discussions with the religious.

The religious have been taught that this sort of prejudicial thinking is actually a virtue.  They do not see it for what it is:  Intellectual dishonesty and an artificial form of racism.  Faith is intellectual dishonesty both in terms of the deliberate use of bad logic and in the way the fallacious conclusions are presented disguised as something other than what they really are.  And, it sets people against each other (often extremely so) on the basis of a fantasy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


My apologies.  The post below was published a couple of years ago, but I recently reverted it to draft status by mistake.  I am now re-publishing it.

Many dishonest people (i.e., the religious) seem to think that honesty is stupidity and that being dishonest is a sign (if not THE sign) of being intelligent.  Now, while possessing intelligence will make one better at almost everything one does, what one chooses to do is a sign of one's character--not intelligence.  Dishonesty (even successful dishonesty) is not a sign of intelligence but a sign of bad character.

Why do the dishonest think this way?  Because they often get away with it--for a while.  They take advantage of the honest, trusting nature of others.  Anyone can do this, all one has to do is move on to new victims once the old victims have figured out that you cannot be trusted.  One must also be impervious to the feedback that one gets from those who have figured it out.  Most dishonest people are suffering from some combination of egotism, narcissism, and psychopathy, so the feedback simply bounces off their defense mechanisms.

One of the reasons dishonest people think that lying is proof of their intellectual superiority is that they often do get away with it more than other people would.  But, it is not intellectual superiority that enables them to do this--it is a lack of conscience.  This lack of conscience enables them to act the part flawlessly. 

The human brain is finely attuned to the nuances of human behavior.  The vast majority of people can sense when someone feels uncertain or guilty about what they are saying.  An honest person attempting to lie will give himself away by small signs of discomfort at having to lie.  A person who possesses little or no conscience will not show the same signs of dishonesty.  Consequently, his or her audience is more likely to believe the lies.

I have found that dishonesty and especially the attitude that it is some form of intelligence are often signs of pathological narcissism.  When observed in a religious person it should be taken as a serious warning regarding that person's utter lack of moral and ethical character.

Can I Get a Witness?

You have probably heard religious people expressing the bigoted notion that atheists cannot be trusted.  In fact, in the past, it was common for various commentators and even the law in various jurisdictions to hold that atheists could not be witnesses because they could not be trusted to tell the truth.  Some states still have such laws, though they are clearly un-Constitutional.  The reason given for this restriction on atheists was that atheists could not possibly consider their oaths to tell the truth to be binding because they did not fear divine retribution.

As I have pointed out repeatedly, the fear of punishment is not really morality at all.  It is self-interest.  It is also the lowest form of moral development.  It is the stage occupied by very young children, psychopaths, and religious people.  Limiting the available witnesses in a case to only those who are psychopathic or reminiscent of a psychopath seems like a very poor way to ensure that the testimony is reliable.  Such people will do whatever they think they can get away with, and in our system where perjury is tolerated in practice daily and is prosecuted only in very unusual cases, having such people testify seems almost like having no standard at all.

An even more telling point is the fact that witness testimony is not very reliable at best.  Most people do not remember things very well and will often unconsciously add or alter details.  The best witness would be a person who understands this and who tries to be as objective as possible.  Such people are necessarily atheists.  Having a major belief that is unsupported by evidence is a clear indication that a person does not try to be as objective as possible.  In fact, such people are deliberately being completely subjective in their assessment of one of the most important "facts" in their lives.

Consequently, I recommend keeping the following thought in mind:

"I think it is more true that religious people cannot be trusted to tell the truth for the simple reason that they are incapable of telling the truth even to themselves.  If a person can't tell himself the truth, then it should be clear that the person cannot be trusted to tell anyone the truth."

Or, to put it more succinctly:

"If you can't tell yourself the truth, you can't tell anyone the truth."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dealing with the Nosy II

First, let me apologize for the hiatus.  I doubt anyone was waiting anxiously, or otherwise, for my next post, but I feel guilty for neglecting this blog so much lately.  My real world life has been very demanding, and I haven't had time to work on the numerous draft posts I have that need work before publishing.

That being said, I want to post a quick note concerning how to deal with those situations where a religious person is being nosy about your beliefs (or lack thereof).  As you may have noticed, I have had numerous experiences with bigotry and intolerance and have come to assume that most, if not all, religious people are bigoted and therefore dangerous to me and my family.

The worst of these sorts are those who can't seem to take a hint when you indicate that you do not want to talk about your beliefs.  The reason that they can't take a hint is that their bigotry is so ingrained that it is taken for granted and not seen for what it is.  If a person thinks his bigotry is fact, then he sees no reason for anyone to complain about discrimination.  In such a person's mind, we non-believers can avoid discrimination simply by ceasing to be "bad people" and start believing in god.  They see our refusal to do that as absolute proof of our immoral nature.

When faced with a persistent believer who just can't rest without knowing your religious beliefs, you should first try to change or avoid the subject even if it requires getting up and walking away from the person.  (You should also make a mental note to avoid this person in the future.)

If you simply cannot avoid either the subject or the person, then your best bet is to try to put the spotlight on the person's bigotry.  Make it plain for all to see.  A good way to do this is to respond to inquiries about your beliefs by asking why the person wants to know--specifically ask about his or her bigotry:

"Why?  Do you discriminate against people based on their beliefs?"

Chances are good that he or she does discriminate and asking about it will make it clear who is the bad guy here and what an awful and dangerous spot he or she has put you in by asking.

The religious person will probably respond to this by denying it.  The denial will be a lie, but perhaps not a conscious one.  If the person does deny that he or she discriminates, you can follow up with:

"Well, a lot of people do discriminate and consequently I keep my beliefs to myself."

If this doesn't stop the nosiness, nothing will.  In that case, it is best to get away from this person and stay away.

See, also, my earlier post on this topic:

Dealing with the Nosy