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.