God

What “Proof of God” justifies your position? (part one)

What “Proof of God” justifies your position?

I begin a four-part series today.

Philosophers, theologians, and scientists have been grappling with the issue of God’s existence for millennia. Much of the discussion in past centuries may have been motivated simply by curiosity or by a protest against theological dogma. For many of us in the modern world, the notion of God is a very private one. God may show up in our prayers but frequently doesn’t have much effect in our daily decisions. Why might it still be important to ask whether or not God exists, today?

Why does God still matter?

Related imageLet me state up front that I don’t really care what you truly, deeply believe in the privacy of your own mind. You could believe you are the King of Narnia. You could believe Harry Potter or Peter Pan are real, for all I care. I know many people who believe things at least as improbable as this.

You may not believe it, but I don’t like debating people’s faith, no matter what arguments they use to justify or rationalize why they believe. I don’t think rejecting religious beliefs is the best road to atheism. In many ways, atheism is not really a belief system at all and is certainly not a replacement for religion. That’s why I’m an “empirical physicalist“; it seems more like a philosophical position than simply not believing the “God claims” of others.

But people’s beliefs, particularly the heartfelt ones, have a habit of making their way into public policy. If you say, “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,” you are now using your beliefs (without much, if any, objective evidence) to justify, recommend, or set public policy. And that public policy could lead to a proliferation of global nuclear war, ending the time of “God’s children” on this planet.

Is Trump’s authority from God?

proof of godThat’s where I have trouble.

Religious beliefs are among the most blatant and pernicious belief systems when it comes to influencing public policy. Religious beliefs gave us prohibition and help governments and other public groups justify their ongoing wars against drugs, abortion, homosexuality, the sexual revolution, feminism, evolution theory, Big Bang theory, science, and – most notably – against other religions.

In the United States, despite being in the vast religious majority, Christians feel they increasingly suffer from religious persecution. And they have begun to take steps to reverse what they see as their exclusion from public policy formation. Many atheists rush to point out that there is no persecution of Christianity, only a desired leveling of the moral playing field, a removal of the privileges commonly granted religious organizations such as freedom from taxation and the “right” to deny public service on the basis of Faith.

For this reason, it is important for those who hold religious beliefs to examine the reasons they use to justify their public policy positions.

For many people, a belief in God comes along with the religious beliefs they grew up with. There is no doubt that the emotional and social support many receive through the beliefs they share with their family and community provides great comfort. When asked why they believe, people will point to nature or the universe and ask how one could otherwise explain the existence of such beauty. They may claim they “feel” God or have a “God-shaped-hole” in their hearts that yearns for a connection to something greater than themselves.

These are emotional justifications; they simply assume that God must exist because that is the only way the believer can imagine their feelings having a source. I usually try to be more rational about something as potentially important as a belief in how the universe works. I certainly hope none of our politicians make their important decisions on the basis of their “feelings.” Psychological studies into paranoia and schizophrenia suggest that feelings or subjective experiences are not always the best basis for making good decisions.

Many people have fuzzy notions of God. God could be a “force,” a “presence,” or a “Guardian/Protector,” for example. For many, their idea of God has some basis in their holy texts.

Perhaps unique to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is a belief in a single God. Other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism either have a proliferation of gods or no god in particular. The central claim of the Abrahamic religions is that God is the Creator of all: the universe, the Earth, all life, and the human soul.

In the next post, I’ll discuss the nature or character of the God of the Bible and we can start examining the claims made of His existence in greater detail.




Angry Atheist

Angry Atheists or Concerned Citizens? – Holy Koolaid

I get asked all the time why atheists are so angry. The short answer is we’re not, but if we do get angry it’s because we give a damn.


Angry AtheistOne hundred years – It’s not that long. There are people alive today older than that. My grandmother’s pushing that milestone. But a lot can change in that short amount of time. A hundred years ago, schools were segregated, women couldn’t vote, and homosexuals were institutionalized for the crime of loving each other. Ninety-eight years ago, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people and had a death toll over three times higher than World War I.

Since that time, a myriad of other disease have plagued our world, but smallpox was wiped from the planet through global vaccination efforts. Polio and measles have almost been entirely eliminated through vaccination and herd immunity. The Gates foundation is on the cusp of eradicating malaria within a generation, and Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have pledged over three billion dollars towards the elimination of all diseases within the next hundred years.

In a hundred years, we went from Amelia Earhart’s momental, transatlantic flight to a world-wide interconnected network of thousands of commercial aircraft, from horses and model Ts to fast-charging electric cars, bullet trains, and highly intelligent ride-sharing networks. Agricultural breakthroughs brought us out of the dust bowl, and provided an abundance of food for billions. Wealth, health care, civil rights, life expectancy and the overall standard of living have all risen across the globe, while infant mortality, violence, and crime continue to fall.

And if that’s not enough, in our knack for exploration and discovery, we landed rovers on Mars and a probe on a comet. We have an affordable supercomputer in our pockets that’s millions of times more powerful than the one that landed man on the moon. Oh, and did I mention that we put man on the moon (more than once, by the way)? We can even bounce a laser off the retro-reflectors we left on there and measure the distance of the moon from the earth. With Moore’s law, computer power is doubling every couple years. Contrary to popular, Malthusian beliefs about scarcity, breakthroughs in water desalination, aquaculture, and agriculture are turning our planet into a world of abundance! This is without doubt the greatest time in history to be alive!

But every time there’s progress, there’s inevitably change, and when a powerful, conservative vanguard bases its identity around a doctrine that claims humanity is sinful, fallen, and things are only getting worse – an ideology that glorifies human suffering as a ticket for greater heavenly rewards – then why on earth would they bother contributing to progress when they could sit around for another 2,000 years playing spot the return of the Jew-God in an apocalyptic wet-dream. This way of thinking is anti-progressive quicksand – a science-stifling quagmire of the mind. And it’s justifiably maddening. So why do I get angry?

I get angry when a child dies from their parents’ self-perpetuated and societally-accepted ignorance – where they refuse life-saving medicine in favor of clasped hands and wishful thinking despite the fact that prayer studies have repeatedly debunked the efficacy of prayer!

Faith healing homicide!

faith healing won't need doctorI get angry when the head of the Catholic church condemns the use of condoms in countries so aids-ridden that their unilateral adoption could have saved millions, and when scientifically-illiterate nitwits, deny evolution and climate change, get elected into public office, and then propose some of the most backwards and damaging laws, that affect all of us then fight to teach anti-scientific non-sense in schools (perpetuating the cycle of ignorance)!

I get angry when the same religion that initially opposed in vitro fertilization now blocks stem cell research on the clusters of cells in a petri dish left over from IVF that are just going to get thrown away anyway. Why? Because that’s a human soul, and every sperm is sacred!

Or when people like Mother Teresa get canonized as a saint, even though she created unhygienic houses of suffering, with abysmal conditions, that re-used needles and focused more on saving souls than saving lives, because as she so beautifully put it:

“I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.” – Mother Teresa

She created disgusting places for the sick to go to get converted before they die in misery. Oh, but somehow elderly people suffering excruciating pain from stage 4 bone cancer are prohibited the right to euthanasia, because it’s somehow taking God’s will into their own hands. You’ve got to be kidding me!

I get angry when people are conned out of their money by faith healing charlatans who have been debunked time and time again, when they could be investing in their own future by donating to scientific research and advancement of the entire human race. I get angry when pseudo-scientific, New Age whackjobs sell untested placebos to the gullible, exploiting the needy, and when cold-reading fortune-tellers lie and take advantage of grieving and emotional parents in order to get a buck, saying they can talk to their dead children. That’s absolutely disgusting and unforgivably sick! I get angry when pseudo scientific practitioners of woo mislead millions to line their own pockets.

And I get angry when gays are killed, discriminated against, lobotomized, or shame-driven to suicide by religious bigots; when women, gays, and minorities are treated like second class citizens; and when a widely-revered, self-established institution claims the moral high ground while covering up the systematic raping of children. And they claim that atheists are immoral – the same atheists who call them on their crimes? Yeah, that’s why I get angry.

But it’s not anger that drives me, it’s a love of humanity, science, and progress. It’s hope of a verifiably brighter future, and excitement at the prospects of human potential. But If I do get angry, it’s because I give a damn, and so should you!

“The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”  – Dr. Peter Diamandis

What do you think? Are all Atheists Angry?

So what do you think? Are all atheists angry? Or is it more they get wound up by the wilful ignorance, diversionary tactics, projection, and other such annoyances from theists and science deniers alike?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

With Thanks to Holy Koolaid

This article has been reposted on behalf of and with permission from Holy Koolaid.

The original article can be found here: http://www.holykoolaid.com/angry-atheists-or-concerned-citizens/

You can also find Holy Koolaid on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzvoUDoDu-cKIb11rg4ODDQ
Don’t forget to show the guy some love on twitter too: https://twitter.com/holykoolaid



Apologetics

Religious Apologetics – The Science of Excuses

Defining Apologetics

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the faith. The simplicity of this definition, however, masks the complexity of the problem of defining apologetics. It turns out that a diversity of approaches has been taken to defining the meaning, scope, and purpose of apologetics.

From Apologia to Apologetics

The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used of a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The accused would attempt to “speak away” (apo—away, logia—speech) the accusation. The classic example of such an apologia was Socrates’ defense against the charge of preaching strange gods, a defense retold by his most famous pupil, Plato, in a dialogue called The Apology (in Greek, hē apologia).

Heresey and Punishment

There is much to be learned from the way in which a societyseeks to limit the choices of its members, particularly in the contentiousfield of religion. Medieval Europe is a good case in point, because atfirst sight the ideological blanket of ‘Christendom’ thrown over thecontinent disguises both the diversity of belief and the responses to thatdiversity. Theoretically the medieval Christian Church was a monopoly based on exclusive interpretation of the Bible through the works of theChurch fathers and the legislation of Councils. The heretic was a dissenter and must be silenced by any means necessary. It was not OK to question the religious movement local to you. Why was this? Well because the apologetics knew that their preconceived scripts would not stand up to questioning. 

I am not going to go into gory detail in this article, perhaps I just had an idea for a future piece but I will link here to a couple of pieces regarding various methods employed by various religious cults and their sects for daring to question or deny their god(s)     Christianity  Islam  Video here if you are not much of a reader

Times They Are A Changing

Well for the most part, I would not stand up in the streets in Lahore or Riyadh and start questioning the existence of Allah or start asking for evidence that Muhammed travelled to heaven on a Buraq for fear of an horific public and on the spot execution, but in many countries now atheists can finally stand up and engage in civil(ish) discourse with apologists and call them out on their quite feeble arguments which used to placate the general masses. We can expose their shill “scientists” such as Jason Lisle who will present half truths, or just outright lies in order to mislead theists that may not be so well versed in the sciences. They see his PhD status and take his comments as “gospel” even though it flies in the face of scientific consensus, but this is just a way to confirm their bias and bolster their irrational belief. You can watch ICR’s Prof Jason Lisle being debunked here. The late Duane Gish was another hookey professor that had no problem bending the truth in order to uphold apologetic arguments attempting to give credence to religious claims using “science”. I debunked one of Gish’s articles from ICR here.

And what we are seeing is all of the apologists being debunked one by one. Their once sacred arguments like William Lane Craigs re-hash of Thomas Aquinas’ 5 Arguments For God being stripped apart and shown to be the illogical presuppositional nonsense that it is.  We see people like Hamza Tzortzis, who was Europe’s leading proponent of the miracle like nature of Quran write a public letter debunking his previous arguments after spending time working in labs with actual scientists to see how the claims of islamic scholars gone by do not hold up to questioning. He also applies logic to his original claims and shows how his older arguments are self refuting. For more on Hamza’s U-turn click here.

In the age of information the religious apologist has to lie and hope the listeners dont fact check. They rely on a less educated audience lapping up their lies and passing it down the generations. Hopefully the Modern Heresey Movement combined with the Information Age, YouTube,  can be more than just a thorn in their sides and maybe one day tumble this abhorrent abomination of liars, cheats and charlatans. Hopefully here at www.answers-in-reason.com we are making headway alongside people like AronRa, Cosmicskeptic, Holy Koolaid, misterdeity and Hemant Mehta aka Friendly Atheist to name but a few of the prominent rational thinkers exposing apologetics for what they are. Excuses!!

Making The Immoral Moral

At the risk of falling foul of Godwin’s Law I am going to invoke Hitler….

What Hitler had his propaganda machine do was demonise certain groups in society. This meant that when his troops massacred said groups the German people felt nothing or very little for these people. The doctrine of religion would attempt to do the same and makes their followers desensitised towards the horrific acts of earlier followers or for that matter generations of followers to come.

The Old Testament would have the Levites butcher their families if they did not follow their one true god. This should be shocking yet religious apologetics would attempt to square this away as “not a biggy”, Jehova did warn us he was a jealous deity. it was their fault for not believing in him.

Likewise with a global flood killing all but 8 members of the same family. The entire population of the Earth were sinners, apparently including all unborn babies and children under the age of reason, not to mention all but “of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.” Gen 7:2

This is extreme yet the science of excuses causes people to not even bat an eyelid. Same goes for killing disobedient children, stoning a bride that was not a virgin and chopping the opposing hands and feet from an apostate.

Making The Impossible Possible

You need just look at the Statement of Faith of groups like ICR or www.answersingenesis.org

Instead of testing bible claims they take it as a starting point for scientific research, that is exactly the opposite of scientific research. It takes a conclusion and works backwards to try to manufacture situations that would fit what they need it to be. An example is humans and dinosaurs living at the same time in history. Evidence shows otherwise but lets not let facts get in the way of their mission. They clearly state that no matter what evidence appears to the contrary that they will uphold their belief. How they have the audacity to call this science is beyond me.

We have pastors like Peter LaRuffa who is immortalised on video stating that if the bible said 2+2=5 he would accept this as truth and try to find a way in his mind to “work it out and understand it”. Bill Nye’s response to this is fantastic and you can see it here.

Defending Logic and Reason

I named a few prominent atheist activists above but left off many. As a movement against the sham that is apologetics we have been blessed with many wonderfully erudite and eloquently spoken front men. Walking amongst us still we have the likes of Dawkins and Dennet, Harris and Krauss and we fondly remember the most brilliant Christopher Hitchins, may his energy transform and never be destroyed.

I would call upon any and all rational and reasoned thinkers to take to the internet and use the tools we have available to us, chat rooms, comments sections, twitter and YouTube, any platform these apologists use to spread lies and misinformation and call them out. Correct them on every video, tweet or post they make. Quote peer review, use top down logic but expose their lies. They no longer have the upper hand of outspoken “heretics” being afraid to have their say and expose them for what they are.

Join the New Age Heretic Movement, be heard and silence the charlatans. Make a difference!!

https://www.facebook.com/newageheretics/

Twitter: @newageheretics

Alan The Atheist

 




Dismantling the watchmaker

Broken watchWe all know it, “If you walk across the beach of an uninhabited island, having never met another human being and find a watch, you would know it was made by a fellow human being. This is apparent too when we look at nature” – The Watchmaker Argument. We come across this argument, or attempt to argue this point all too frequently, and quite frankly, it’s annoying to say the least. Annoying and wrong, and here is why….

The premise of this argument is that there is a significant difference between man-made objects and objects designed by god or “an intelligent designer”. The experienced debaters among you, might already have raised their red flags and sounded the fallacy alarm, because this is a self-defeating premise. The problem is that if we accept this argument, the premise becomes void, because the one thing we understand to not have been designed, would be designed. This would mean that in fact, we haven’t the ability to discern between designed and not designed features, as the premise would have us believe. If, on the other hand, we do not accept this argument, the premise would remain in tact.

Reasoning behind the watchmaker argumentThe thinker

The reasoning behind this argument is that because there is a difference in aesthetics and function we can discern the difference between designed and not designed objects, systems etc. just by looking at them. There is, however,  no reason why we would recognize the work of a fellow human being as being the work of a fellow human being, without having an additional reason to. If, for instance, we stumble upon a cave while trekking through the mountains, we have no reason to assume it was man-made, nor that it formed naturally as a result of plate tectonics and rocky structure. Similarly, if we do not know what a watch is or what the watch is for (which is the case when we look toward nature, our planet and/or our existence) we have no reason to say it was man-made.

Evidence for this, is obtained from a documentary that aired first somewhere in the ’90s on BBC, I believe it was called Meet The Natives, but I haven’t been able to track it down, unfortunately (if anyone knows exactly which documentary it is, please notify me so I can insert a link and watch it again) in which a tribesman was taken into a modern city. afterwards, he was asked what he saw. The man replied: “nothing, except for a weird beast that could carry very much bananas.” The man, of course, didn’t see nothing, he just lacked the frame of reference to describe what he saw. But the fact that he referred to a truck carrying bananas as a “weird beast”, is the significant part of this documentary. The man had mistaken a man-made, mechanical device for a product of nature. Of course, the absence of a frame of reference, makes this argumentation rather doubtful. The fact remains, though, that the man had no frame of reference. Seeing as we have no better frame of reference for the situation this argument puts us in, we are forced to conclude the obvious; that this reasoning is baseless and/or an assumption.

There is another well-known analogy to explain the phenomenon behind this argument; that of the puddle. This analogy is centered around a puddle of rainwater. The puddle thinks to itself “this indentation in the ground was made for me especially, or I would not fit in so ideally.” However, the puddle formed the way it did because the indentation in the ground was there, the puddle formed in the indentation, the indentation dictating its form. The same is true for human beings in nature. when we look at forests, grass plains, shrubbery etc. We might get the distinct feeling that these things were made for us, placed there for our benefits, its fruits made to feed us. It has its logic, to be honest, as it helps sustain our lives and provide countless benefits. The same reasoning, however, forgoes the countless more inedible plants, deadly animals, poisons and gasses that naturally occur. The perception of intelligence behind this supposed creation, originates from the fact that nature is highly sustainable. Because us humans have thus far failed to create anything truly sustainable. To create something truly sustainable, would be an amazing feat of engineering. This is why it seems s appealing to ascribe that feat of engineering to a superior mind, a creator. a god. However, there is no objective reason for this, as the theory of evolution tells us. It is perhaps the most elegant part of evolution, that sustainability arises from lack of sustainability. That those life forms that are unsustainable fade away or evolve, to keep the sustainability of nature itself at a fairly consequent level.

To conclude the part of the watchmaker, I would like to state briefly that the argument is cheating. A watch contains at least a number of metal parts, as it must contain cogs and springs. Metal is not encountered in its refined form in nature. The argument therefore misleads its recipient, as the mental image encountered while treating this argument, is often that of a metal watch, which would indeed help us to assume a fellow human made the watch.

A more honest example to use in this argument, would be that of a refined walking stick; it has it’s ties to nature by being made of wood, yet it has been refined to show the touch of a human being. Odds are that this argument would be received with less enthusiasm, and bring about a number of different conclusions.

Oxygen Volume 14Authority from creation

Another argument we often encounter, that is closely related to the watchmaker argument, is often not considered to be a separate argument, or at least it isn’t treated as one, yet it mostly follows the establishment of a creator. The argument elevates the watchmaker to the level of an artist and it goes a little like this: “If God created the universe, our planet and us, he can destroy it all and still be morally perfect; the artist can destroy his own art, without being a bad person.”

It should be immediately apparent that this is not a valid comparison. Artwork is inanimate, non living matter, arranged in an aesthetically more or less pleasing way, while the creation this god is supposed to have engineered is a universe, containing at least one planet with sentient life. In the case of god as an artist and humanity as his artwork, we forgo on the negative consequences the destruction of the artwork will have for the artwork itself. It thus has to have moral ramifications as long as the artwork is, has or contains consciousness (see also; cogniscism, a secular moral system).

The second way this argument falls flat on its face, is simple ethics. That you can create something does not absolve you from the responsibility to treat it ethically, in accordance to its level of consciousness. This is the reason we have laws on the minimal requirements of good treatment for both infants and pets. A being that possesses at least a modicum of awareness, will be able to register the way it is being treated, or to register the negative effects of such treatment. This means the moral scale is affected, as both beings are affected in their well being. A moral consideration then follows, which we can use to form a moral verdict of sorts.

Another interesting factor is the fact that god and humanity would be interdependent. God receives validity by its creation, the creation is dependent on god’s good will to allow them to live. How does god receive validity through its creation, you might ask. Well, that’s fairly simple; A god is called a god because it has given rise to at least one universe, world or species. Were a god exist that did not give rise to any such subjects, we are basically talking about a powerful ghost. To have god destroy the world, would be to end god’s divinity.

So, as we see, not only is god in its essence limited, it has to be bound to a form of human morality, leading us right back to the problem of evil.




What if

‘What If You’re Wrong?’

What if you're wrong about God, atheist?

Introduction

When an atheist becomes involved in discussing religion with Theists they tend to find themselves confronted with many common questions from different believers of different religions. There are questions like ‘who created the universe?’, ‘who created the laws of physics?’, ‘who was the first human?’, as well as other similar ones. While atheism itself obviously has no answers for these questions, atheism simply being a lack of belief in gods, we can turn to science to find answers to these questions.

There are other questions, more philosophical questions such as ‘what is our purpose?’, ‘why are we here?’, ‘why is there good and evil?’ and similar questions. These questions of course have no simple answer. Many great minds have discussed and considered these questions, and not all of them have come to the conclusion of a god, and as we can see from history not all of those that concluded a god came to the conclusion of the same god. So while we can give our personal opinion about this, we do also have the opportunity to turn to other works to offer explanation or discussion.

Then there are also personal questions. These too are philosophical questions of course, but these are the kind of questions only a personal answer can be given to. When I get asked these questions during discussion or debate I rarely get a chance to give my full answer, as only a short reply is expected or will usually be read. One of these questions is usually ‘what if you’re wrong?’.

However, I have given this question a lot of thought, and while I can give a short reply it does not come close to covering just what I think of this question; because the question is not as easily answered as it seems.

There are several scenarios to this question. We can approach the question with the condition that I’ve died and ‘woken up’ in the after life, the condition that undeniable proof is shown while I’m alive (which itself has a couple of conditions), or the condition that we know just as much as we do now. So as there are different approaches to this question, I will approach the question in different ways.

Which God Is It?

If I was to ‘wake up’ after I die and be confronted with the afterlife, the first question I would ask is which god it was. Which is something I rarely find the people asking ‘what if you’re wrong?’ asking themselves. For all I know it could be a god that we have no idea exists, because, hypothetically speaking, a god could be true and none of the religions could be. So, before I could make a judgement about my error, I would need to get more facts.

I won’t go into the idea of a god that we have no idea exists though, because unfortunately this would take up far too much time. We would after all have to consider many other elements, why did the god create the universe, what type of afterlife exists, why it doesn’t get involved; there are just too many variables and combinations to go over. My main reason for writing this is to answer the many Muslims and Christians that ask me the question, so it would probably be best to focus on what I would do if it was the god of Abraham.

The God of Abraham

To which I could only give one reply, I would tell him to send me straight to Hell. Although this may sound like arrogance to a Christian or Muslim, it isn’t. Believe me, if Hell is a real place it isn’t somewhere I would choose to go to out of arrogance, or pride, or any other trivial emotional reason. No, this is a stance I have put great thought into. While a theist may simply see the never-ending joy of Heaven and the never-ending pain of Hell, I see much more than that. This is a stance I have chosen based on my ethics, a stance based on my reason, and most of all it’s a stance based on my humanity.

You see, when I look at the god of Abraham, the claims made about it, the religions based around it and the results of them, I don’t see what most Theists see. I’m not willing to make the excuses they make for it in order to gain that oh so important prize of eternal happiness. No, when I look at the god of Abraham I see hatred, destruction, anger, violence, immorality; and most importantly I do not see love. I don’t see this when I look at Judaism, I don’t see it when I look at Christianity and I don’t see it when I look at Islam. See for yourself here, my colleague at AIR presented the immoral nature shown true in the scripture of the Old Testament in an article last week entitled Jehova, The Immoral God

Follow The Religions

What I see when I look at the god of Abraham is a god that sent three different religions to teach mankind, and at the same time told each religion not to believe the other religions. Not only did it tell them not to believe each other, it told them to hate each other. Just to add some fun to the mix it told the second group of people to resist any violence, to ‘turn the other cheek’, and then told the third one that convincing the others through violence is acceptable; it teaches the complete opposite of the second religion. This is not a loving god, a loving god doesn’t tell one group of people to bow before another group of people’s swords. This is a bloodthirsty god, one who creates things just to watch them kill each other. This is a god that loves violence so much that it doesn’t even want to see the fight, it doesn’t do it for the thrill of combat; it does it for the love of death.

How can I be asked to praise this god? How can I be asked to call this god loving? While others may be able to overlook this for the bribe of eternal happiness, I cannot. While others may be willing to allow themselves and their loved ones to be pawns in what is essentially a blood sport for a bloodthirsty god, I am not. I cannot be asked to respect this god, and I don’t know how anyone else could accept this just for the bribe of Heaven. A bribe which could turn out to be false, after all this god of Abraham does appear to be a god of suffering and injustice as well.

We only have to look at the tales spun about it in the religions that it sent for our guidance. We only have to look at the tale of Job for injustice. Here we see this god whimsically killing people and taking away their livelihood just to prove how much a person loved it. This is not justice, this is not fairness, this is not love. This is a god treating its creation like an ant farm, like humanity is nothing more than a needy, bullying teenager’s science experiment. Not only do we see injustice in the story of Job, we see needless suffering. This god kills people in horrific ways, even though it could simply have stopped them living; but no, it had to do it with flair.

I could of course go on about other tales, the tale of Noah, the tale of Adam and Eve, and even the beloved tale of Jesus, but there are so many tales of violence, bloodshed, suffering and injustice I could probably write a book in support of this argument. You see, I haven’t even started on the state of the world, the problems the religions of the god of Abraham have caused, the confusion they have caused, or the crimes against humanity in its name. As I say, I could probably write a book about why I would not worship the god of Abraham. Which also hints towards the answer of what I would do if I was alive and undeniable proof was given that the god of Abraham was our creator. If that happened I would acknowledge its existence, I would not however worship it, for exactly the same reasons I would choose to go to Hell. As I said, I would rather choose Heaven; unfortunately the god of Abraham doesn’t make that a viable option for me.

This also leads me on to the question of what if I’m wrong but no god has revealed itself undeniably. What if I’m wrong and all the evidence is still just the deductive arguments, the Bible, the Qu’ran and the apologetics that go with it?

Glad of Being Wrong

Do you know what? I’m glad. I’m glad I’m wrong, and I hope I manage to convince others to be wrong as well. I think we as humanity should proceed as if we are wrong, as if all the religions are wrong. I think we as humanity should tell the god of Abraham that we’re tired of it. We’re tired of the violence caused by its religions, we’re tired of the oppression caused by its religions, and we’re tired of the suffering caused by its religions. We’re just plain tired of it.

You see, as I explained earlier, the evidence shows that this god, this infinitely wise being, created two religions that were told to disbelieve each other. It told them that under no circumstances should they believe each others religions. Not only did it tell them that they couldn’t believe each others religions, but that they should try and convince each other that they were wrong. Then, just for added fun, it told the first group that they should ‘turn the other cheek’, while at the same time telling the other group that sometimes violence wasn’t just acceptable, it was necessary. While history may show that Christians did not always ‘turn the other cheek’, it doesn’t change the fact that the religion itself taught it.

No, this god sat back and watched as various countries were taken over in its name. It sat back and watched as people slaughtered each other in its name trying to prove that their religion, the true religion, the real one, the one that had the god of Abraham’s seal of approval, was right. It could have intervened at any time. It was not unknown behaviour from this god. The lore is full of incidents of the god of Abraham intervening. So at any point it could have guided those willing to kill in its name to the right path, but it didn’t. It let them slaughter each other in new and inventive ways. So even if this god is real, even if I am wrong by not picking one of them, I think we all should be.

Nobody’s Choice

If nobody chose a religion, then nobody could argue about the right path, there would be no confusion over which is the ‘one true religion’. Nobody would be willing to kill for the right path. Nobody would die for the right path. If somebody claims to be speaking for a god, I believe that as a human race we owe it to ourselves, to our history, to demand no less than that god. We should not accept a conduit unless each of us gets a direct conduit, with direct communication, so that we can tell who really does speak for this god.

For if we accepted this all along perhaps history may have been different. We could make an argument that all the things that happened in the name of religion would still have happened, just in a different manner, and I would agree. It’s a moot point in my opinion however, because as much as we could philosophise about how it may have changed the past, our discussions and my arguments won’t actually change the past.

Some of the Fruits of Religions

We can however look at the present. Let me hold up the Catholic Church and the systematic abuse of children we see in our recent history, as well as today. Think of the difference to our present world that dropping all of our religions simultaneously would do in this case. Think about what would happen if we were to say ‘We no longer think you speak for a god, and we are now holding you accountable for your crimes’. Think of the paedophiles that would be taken off the street, the number of futures saved; think of the sigh of justice from former victims of those that go unpunished and unheard of. Think of the hope for a better future they would see. Is our eternal soul not worth risking to save those children and to show these victims they matter? Think of the difference it would have made if when the abuse was first being brought up people listened, instead of seeing a man of God that wouldn’t do such a thing.

Keeping to the present let us draw our attention to the Palestine and Israel conflict. This is a thin line to tread, I’m sure, because the conflict draws a heated emotional response for most. I don’t want to focus on the politics behind it, or who is right and wrong, though. I want to draw your attention to the fact that if I’m wrong then it means that this god promised a land to a group of people, and then convinced another group of people to conquer it. Not only did it do that, it convinced an entire world to go to war, dispose of millions of the first group of people; and finally got another group of people to conquer the land and then give it back to the first group. It then sat back and watched the violence, suffering and injustice going on from both sides; prompted by its commands.

Think of the Difference

Now think of what would happen if everyone involved suddenly decided that peace, that co-operation, that their children’s future and happiness, was worth more than who was right. Think of what a difference it would make if both sides decide to give up on who was right, and who had the right to live where, and instead decided on the best way they could live there. The best way they could build a place where their children would be safe, would be happy, would be healthy, and most importantly, would be unafraid. Just think of what it would be like if they chose to be wrong. Would it not be better to sacrifice their eternal soul for the future of their children?

Imagine the difference it would make in the present if the Sunni, the Shia and the Ahmadiyya all decided to stop caring about who was right, and start caring about what was right. Think of the difference it would make if they all decided that Mohammed was lying. Think of what would happen if they decided that killing each others children, that allowing their children to grow up in an environment where they could face a bomb, or even be a bomb, would make. Think of what would happen if they decided that their children’s future was worth more than their eternal soul, and worth more far more than the ability to say ‘I’m right’.

Imagine the difference it would make in countries like Uganda, where people are killed simply for the crime of existing while homosexual. Think about if they decided to be wrong about this gods punishment for homosexuals, homosexuals that it created to be homosexual. Keep on the same train of thought and think about the bigotry towards homosexuals caused by this gods commandments; the violence, the oppression, the fear and worst of all, the death. Think of the difference it would make to the present if all of them decided to be wrong about this god.

I won’t deny that all these things would exist to some degree, but think of how much harder it would be to justify laws used to do these things without an unquestionable god. Think of the impossibility for rational justification of the hate, the violence, the oppression and especially the death. The immoral behaviour towards homosexuals does not stem from reason, it instead stems from this god.

Some of the Harms of Religion

Just look around the world to all the harm that religion causes directly. The commandments against condoms, the sheltering of paedophiles, the obscene riches, the fat cat conmen and religious leaders, the corruption, the hate, the bigotry, the violence. Only those who want to delude themselves into believing that religion is not at the heart of these things can deny the difference it would directly make to the world if all of these people decided that not only was being wrong an acceptable option, it was the only acceptable option.

Think of the difference it would make to education around the world if everyone decided that everyone’s religious books were wrong. That all of these gods tales are wrong, and that we should rely on what we can realise for ourselves only. That none of these gods are worth arguing over, and that dumping them in favour of humanity was the right choice. Imagine if everyone decided that even if we’re wrong, we don’t actually care. We choose to be wrong in favour of a secure future for our children. We’re willing to be sacrificed to keep them out of the hands of this god, who appears to want to watch us kill each other, and argue with each other, and trick us into doing these things while it sits back and watches. Even if we’re wrong we’re willing to stand up and so ‘no more’, we’ve had enough of being misled.

Enough is Enough

We are at a stage in our development where we are in touch with each other, we are in a communication era. We are at a stage where we can all stand up and say enough is enough, we choose our future over any promise of divine information or reward. We can, and will, do our best to figure it out ourselves. If we look at the evidence in front of us through the means of history, not only do we see that these gods ways generally lead to violence, suffering and oppression, but the thoughts and ways of humanity far outshine those of the gods of scripture; and by magnitudes.

There are lots I could mention about the changes that everyone deciding that being wrong was the best option to take. Psychological and sociological arguments could be made, but as with any argument like this they could fill a book; and I’ve gone on long enough really. I get the feeling that only the most interested will have reached this far, and I thank anyone who actually reads this far!

As you can see though, this isn’t a question I’ve just taken a cursory glance at. One that I’ve just come up with a quick clever meme to pass on. No, this is a question I have taken seriously, and one that I believe everyone should not only take seriously, but come to the conclusion that being wrong is the better option.

That it’s better not to follow the advice given in these books, and to argue, fight, torture and kill over which one of these books is right. I hope you come to the same conclusion that each of our eternal souls is worth sacrificing in order that a better world can be created for those that come after. We are, after all, at a point when we can begin to make real changes in this world. A world where communication is made easy.

Conclusion

We live in a world where we can ask each other how best to proceed. Just look to the past, which in this age is only finger tips away, to see the difference that great people who decided to cast scripture aside in favour of the future have made. Great people willing to sacrifice their eternal souls, willing to say that they were wrong, so that people they would never meet could be free of that same scripture. They could be said to be giving up much more than Christians tell me Jesus gave up for me, because for them there is no reprieve, no resurrection, and no Heaven. For them there is not even the opportunity to be thanked by those grateful for all they sacrificed.

There is much to the reason why even if I am wrong at this moment, I’m glad to be wrong. If even this portion of my argument for why it would be better to be wrong doesn’t convince you, then I do admit that I’m slightly saddened. It is your choice however, and please be aware that I will continue to argue against you until my last breath because of these and many more reasons. Don’t think this doesn’t mean you can’t convince me of this gods existence, it simply means you cannot convince me of his worthiness.

Please don’t think this also means that I think people can’t question the existence of a god, or believe that a god exists. This doesn’t mean that at all. What this all means is that I think we should have a global rejection of scripture, a global rejection of the gods commandments, stories, judgements, morals, and anything else they have decided to reveal to us. It means that I think we should all reject anyone who claims that they speak on behalf of a divine being, or beings, and settle for nothing less than the diving being or beings themselves.

It means I believe that humanity has all the tools, all the intelligence, and all the capability to proceed. That religion, and the argument over who is right instead of what is right, is holding us back. Not only is it holding us back, it is setting us back. An argument could be made that it is literally killing us. It’s killing our children, and it will kill their children. It’s allowing the abuse of our children systematically, and it’s allowing those abusers to be protected. Not only protected but put in a position to harm even more children. It’s simply causing harm.

There are a lot of claims made about these gods, and especially about the god of Abraham in its incarnation in Christianity and Islam. I hear claims that this god is loving, and that he is infinitely wise and intelligent. If these things really are true, and I really am wrong, I am pretty sure that this god will understand why I choose to sacrifice my eternal soul in favour of those that come after me.

In favour of communication, information, ethics, co-operation, and most importantly, the love of humanity. I am pretty sure that not only would this god understand why I ‘am wrong’, but why I think ‘being wrong’ is the best option. I am pretty sure that any god like this, any loving god, any compassionate god, would understand why I think the living are far more important than the dead, and why I think our children’s suffering is far more important than my own eternal suffering.




Arguments

Which Atheist Arguments Should We Stop Using?

Introduction.

Previously I have written an article that lists and explains some Common Theistic Fallacies that are often brought up in arguments. As an atheist who is active in several online debate and discussion groups, they are things that I see with exceptional regularity.

However, it is unfair to think that it is only the Theists that present faulty, or fallacious, arguments. Although atheism, being the Null Hypothesis/Neutral Position is the more logical position than belief, belief being an illogical conclusion, that does not mean that all of the arguments presented by atheists are logical, reasonable, or fair.

In this article I will list the arguments presented by atheists that we should stop using, and explain why.

Also, as a special feature I will be featuring the answer given to this question by Aron Ra, that I was lucky enough to be able to ask him, in person, when members of our team saw him give a talk.

The Arguments.

  • Christianity was invented by Constantine in the fourth century.

This is an argument that seems to be mostly invented by Joseph Atwill. Atwill claims to have found evidence that Jesus was a character who was entirely invented by the Romans. There are many problems with his theory, included, but not limited to these. Firstly, there is zero actual evidence. While he claims to have found confessions, what he has actually done is draw comparisons between the work of Josephus, and the New Testament. Secondly, no matter what justification one might try to use, the rise of Christianity was demonstrably not a good thing for the Roman Empire.

  • The use of photos depicting starving children to make the point that God is not a loving or merciful one.

This tactic is nothing more than an Appeal To Emotion Fallacy. The use of pictures with the intent to make people feel guilty, or disturbed, adds nothing to the point that is trying to be argued. While the existence of these children is absolutely an argument against an Omnibenevolent God, the use of the pictures to support this argument is a cheap move, and reflects badly on an argument that is otherwise valid.

  • You must (believe/condone/support) X, because it’s in the (Bible/Quran/other).

This is a remarkably common argument online. “Well, the Bible condones slavery, so you must agree with it.” or “The Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination, so all Christians must hate gays.” This line of argument basically falls foul of the No True Scotsman Fallacy. A person can believe in and agree with the fundamental beliefs, without having to agree with every single ruling stated within. This will also be addressed later on in the Cherry Picking section.

  • Pointing out the “impossibility” of events described in the bible.

If you enter into a conversation about an omnipotent being, “impossible” loses all meaning. Pointing out that Mary could have only given birth to a girl if the conception was immaculate. Or pointing out problems like where all the water went to, or came from, in the Ark story. We are debating with people who believe in an Omnipotent being. A being who can create the Universe on a whim. The idea of expecting to convince them by raising an example of something that is physically impossible is a fruitless endeavour. If you’ve never experienced the feeling of ‘I may as well be banging my head against a wall’ in a debate, this is a sure fire way to get there.

  • Why are Adam and Eve depicted with bellybuttons if they were created?

It actually depresses me somewhat when I see intelligent people bringing up this argument. And it happens. A lot. Artists largely paint what they know, and when painting human figures they will quite often use a model. Even if they don’t use a model, you can almost guarantee that they learned how to paint people from using models in the past, or copying from existing pictures that used models. These models had bellybuttons, so the artist painted them. Humans have bellybuttons, Adam and Eve are humans (at least if you accept that they existed, of course) so they were painted as having them. It’s such an obvious thing, really.

  • The Problem Of Evil.

This isn’t to say that The Problem Of Evil is not a genuine concern when trying to justify, or refute, the existence of an Omnibenevolent and Omnipotent God. The problem is that it is an argument that any Christian who spends time debating already has a list of rebuttals to. Whether this is the normal Mysterious Ways cop out answer, or whether it is a more in depth approach like “Well we’re looking at things from a human understanding of what is good, and from the limited time frame of what humans can understand. Perhaps the amount of evil and bad that exists now is the minimum amount that is necessary to achieve the greatest good on a larger time scale.”

  • Nonsense Questions  “If God can do anything, can he create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it?”

I can’t stand Nonsense Questions. They achieve nothing other than to make the person raising them seem immature. Most theists with even a modicum of smarts won’t even bother addressing them. The problem with the quoted question in particular in that it is a logically absurd question. It is dealt with by the Logical Absolute Law Of Non Contradiction. The Rock is defined as being too heavy to lift, if it can be lifted, it is not that Rock, it is then something else. I understand what people are trying to achieve with this question, they are trying to show a hole in omnipotence. But you may as well ask ‘Can God make a square circle?’ or ‘Can God make a bent straight line?’

  • You can’t prove a negative.

This is just a cop out, and it shows an amount of laziness that we really shouldn’t be allowing ourselves to slip in to. Can you prove a negative? In the context that this is being used in, no, you can’t (You can mathematically, but that’s a different thing entirely.) But we don’t need to prove a negative, we only need to prove the absence of a positive. “There’s an apple in that box” “I don’t believe you.” *Looks in box* “There is no apple in that box!” “Well you can’t prove that apples don’t exist!” “I don’t have to, I proved that it doesn’t exist where you said it does.”

  • We’re all atheists when we’re born (Implicit versus Explicit atheism).

Yes, we are. But what point are we really trying to make here? Surely the point that we need to be arguing is that atheism is the rational conclusion when examining the claims of a god? Saying that a baby is an atheist does nothing more for the argument than saying that a washing machine is an atheist! If someone or something is incapable of examining the proposition of a god, then it doesn’t matter whether they believe or not.

  • You’re almost as much of an atheist as me, I’ve just gone 1 god further.

Although this can be a very fun point to raise, especially if you like numbers, and are interested enough to work out the specific ratios and percentages that this means, it doesn’t do anything to address whether their specific god claim holds any validity. This ties in with another argument that I’ve heard a lot “They can’t all be right, but they can all be wrong.” But that doesn’t actually address whether they are wrong. Because it could be wrong, or because other people have been wrong in the past, has no bearing on whether they are actually wrong now.

  • You just Cherry Pick the parts you like.

This is one of “Well duh…” moments. Of course they do. They have NO choice. They are following a book that is riddled with contradictions, it is not physically or mentally possible to believe every single part of it. So what does that leave people with as an option? They will then pick out the parts that gel with who they are as a person. “Reading the bible does not dictate who one is as a person. Who one is as a person dictates how one reads the Bible.”

 

 

Aron Ra’s Answer.Aron Ra talk

As stated at the beginning of the article, I was lucky enough to get to ask Aron Ra this question in person. This is his answer.

Me “I just wanted to know, which atheist argument do you wish people would stop using? Either because it’s completely wrong, or entirely irrelevant to the argument itself”

Aron Ra “Wow, that’s such a long list.”

Me “Your top pick?”

Aron Ra “Well the one that I usually jump in on is when people say”Nobody says we came from monkeys, we have a common ancestor with monkeys.” And I have to jump in and say “No no no, we ARE monkeys.” Now this is not a popular opinion, but I’ve got it backed by science and I did a video on it. The title of the video is It Turns Out We Did Come From Monkeys and it goes into an in-depth explanation. Now this is one of those arguments where I was started out on the other side, and I had this argument with a systematist. It went on for three months. It was heated, it was angry, he was such a prick. I don’t know that I’d have conceded any faster if he’d been more polite, but it would have been a lot easier. I didn’t have to say “You know what, you asshole, you were right.” So I had to take the opposite position. Then I got into more heated conversations with people, and now I’m on the other side. And it’s every bit just as heated, but eventually I did prove the point so that nobody contested any more. Humans ARE monkeys. It’s not just that we are apes, we are also monkeys. Now if you want to prove that, if you describe what a monkey is, by all of the traits that are diagnostic of every kind of monkey there is, you will describe humans. And if you do a subcategory so that you’re only talking about Old World Monkeys, again you will describe humans. And if you do the subcategory of that, which is Apes, and subcategory Great Apes, again, you always describe people. So this was a great argument to have with a Creationist, you know “Define what a monkey is……Look at that, you defined people again!””

 

Any Logical Fallacies that are mentioned in this article are explained further here.




Free Thinking

Letter To A Concerned Free Thinker 3 – The Great Wager

Dear Thinker.

Across your journey of self-enlightenment, you shall meet many a con-man who offers their version of reality in manners that are palpable to your ears. You will meet men who speak eloquently, look sophisticated, and yet hold irrational beliefs based purely on their situation; the situation that chance allowed them to be born into. I am talking of course to the men in suits who adorn themselves in the relics of conformity and piety – sharp in wit, sly in tongue: Devils of their craft. The tongues of these vipers are curved in manners that appear tantalizingly brilliant, yet are hollow and raw. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, hiding their nature in the words they espouse, hiding their allegiance in the manner of sophistication they appear. You may as well ask who they are. They are the men who use solely arguments, solely rhetoric, solely language to get by in life. Who pass the gates of acceptance, but fail to get in the gates of science. The men and women, who never back up their statements, who never support their claims, who always result to prove themselves by applying a smoke screen to cover up the faults in their arguments: the theologian, the con-man, the liar, the politician, the deceiver of facts, and promoter of an agenda. These men are the ones who hold sway to the irrational…mostly that is. Once in a while slips through the guarded gates of reason a diplomat – an emissary of the irrational; adorned in decadent dress, willing to offer one last fair grace. Blaise Pascal is one of these diplomats.

A man of the classical tradition, Pascal was a mathematician by day and a theologian by night. He came up with the popular wager known as, “Pascal’s wager” (The great gambit). We can see from what he espoused in Pensees that this argument was not given in jest; it was given as an ultimatum to the side that had yet to give its obedience to a super-natural deity: the atheist. As clothed in sheep’s wear this argument makes itself due. One is offered a heads or tails kind of deal. One is told that there are four options, in each option one is asked to weigh the odds; one is asked to make a cost-benefit analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of not believing in a God’s existence…the Christian God that is. These options can be expressed as so:

1. If you believe and you find out there is no God, when you die, then you lose nothing.
2. If you don’t believe and you find out there is no God, when you die, you lose nothing.
3. If you don’t believe and you find out there is a God, when you die, you lose everything.
4. If you believe and you find out there is a God, when you die, you gain everything.
Therefore a belief in God is more beneficial either way.

When this argument came knocking on my door, on a cold day in the month of July, by a desperate school teacher who wanted me to restore my faith in God, this argument made me chuckle. There are many faults with the gambit that it is scarcely surprising why it is still used as an argument for belief. The structure of the argument is rather tedious when one is exposed to it by the naivest of believers on a monthly basis; it is embarrassing also to see apatheists encounter it for the first time, as they have the faintest idea of how to rebut it. It is used by the most infantile believers on non-believers; and for this reason it has to be rebutted at once, and what better way than in this letter to you.

There are three problems that I have found with this argument, and they can be expressed as so:

The first and most obvious problem with this argument is the lack of clarity as to which God is being mentioned. Is one to suppose that this is the Christian God? What about the Islamic God? I do not find reason to believe that this argument excludes those options; for each of the variety of gods mentioned will change the variables of the outcome given to the assessor, who will have to weigh the options. Instead of a hell as in the Christian sense, there would be an Islamic Hell, which happens to be given to the infidel who does not believe in Allah’s existence (you are screwed in other words.) The second problem with this argument is that it is not an argument for the existence of a God; it is, instead, an argument for the belief in the existence of a God. This is problematic because of the nature of what warrants a belief. For one to believe in something they must be given justification, one cannot simply will their belief into existence. Though there may appear to be reasons given to believe in a God’s existence, those which can be summed up in the line “save your ass from damnation”, these are not good reasons. I cannot scare someone to my position, and if I do it is purely an act of coercion on my part. The final criticism one has to the argument, and one which should be noted, is the sheer gullibility it assumes of the assessor. Is God so easily tricked by an act of faith? Is God really to take such weak a believer? What about the doctrines of the holy texts? Are they null and void all of a sudden? How weak faith in God must be for such an argument to still hold water. It insults the assessor by assuming them gullible enough to take – what can only be described – as a con of the most dastardly of fashion. In almost a belittling tone it comes to us with the word, “you are so easily fooled, you most certainly will take my wager”. If this is Pascal’s best attempt at convincing the free-thinker, then he has failed in the highest regard.

As you can see my friend this is the kind of rhetoric we are against; convoluted word games that present premises in structured-a-manner, and in such a diabolical of fashion. It does damage to the mind to see such dissention. It is for this reason that I have brought it upon myself to present its refutation here, in the hopes that at least one more mind may be speared by such hallowing of argumentation. As a young free thinker be aware of whom you meet and what they say – especially how they say it. Do this, and you will always be ready to take on anything.

Knowledge is Power.
Use it.

Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson (28/02/2014)




AIR and Ra

Aron Ra and the “state” of Texas

Aron Ra talkT Shirt Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of the luckier staff members here at www.answers-in-reason.com(AIR) made the long (because I cant follow GPS directions), arduous and at times perilous (because I was driving) road trip to catch a talk by the magnificent Aron Ra. After getting stuck in rush hour traffic which made snails pace seem like celeritas lux(speed of light, and where we have taken the c we see appear in physics, Latin is not just for you biology boffins) and subsequently coming rather close a few times to breaking the 115mph speed limit here in UK (it is 115 right?). We rolled up to, ironically, St Johns church in High Wycombe with minutes to spare.

The crowd had settled in their seats and we just managed to grab a drink at the bar and get to our seats, front row just to the left of podium which was cool, before the looming figure of Aron Ra ambled out to the stage. Actually we managed to have a word with the presenter to see if Aron was going o do a meet and greet after the event and would he mind if we presented him with an AIR t-shirt and snapped a few pics. He said he would see what he could do so we crossed his palm with black and silver gold, that being another AIR t-shirt.

The Presentation

After a brief introduction from the presenter, a member of Wycombe Skeptics in the pub, more about them later because they are worthy of their own write up.

Aron took to the mic. His tall figure, dark features and booming dominant voice demand your attention. Unfortunately we cant go into too much detail of content as Aron is engaging on a world tour and audio files are not to be released so as to not ruin attendance at future events. I can say Aron went into great detail regarding the school system in Texas and loopholes used by creationists to preach creationism/ID in the classroom and school clubs focusing on all age groups, preferred age being less than 8. he went into some detail regarding how school book publishers are influenced by the Christian majority to make changes to text to suit the Christian world-view. Due to the sheer size of Texas they carry a lot of sway as Texas purchases the largest amount of school books as a State in the whole country. He touched on the various trials Scopes and Dover predominantly and the work of The Discovery Institute in the latter trial. The beginning of “The Culture War” in America, aka people rebelling against Christian control and world-view.

20% of Texan Science teachers are Young Earth Creationists and to quote Aron, “Are incapable of fulfilling their task, I should say incompetent”, they are known to fabricate untruths to further their cause. Aron then cited such a case. It was noted that some secular teachers were incompetent in the teaching of teaching evolution, at which point Aron and his wife decided to record supplemental videos on evolution for teachers to show in their classrooms. LEGENDS!!

He made mention some people decide to home school their children because they don’t want them exposed to actual science and others will home school to ensure they are taught actual science. A double edged sword. Other parents will send their kids to science classes with pre rehearsed scripts to disrupt evolution classes with questions and argue logical fallacies. An abhorrent practice.

Magic and Miracles

Magic

noun

The power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

Miracle

noun

An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.

What’s the difference? Nothing according to Aron and we at AIR are inclined to agree.

On the back of this Aron went on to go in to more detail regarding:

Incantation spell = Let there be light

Hebrew spell for giving life to clay figure = Adam

The null set. God assertion is not the default

And how Christians cannot seem to comprehend these things.

I wish I could colour this with more detail but I must respect Aron’s wishes and not disclose too much. Needless to say Aron is specific throughout the rest of his talk and goes into great detail on how Christians use loopholes to try to be able to preach to the very young in schools citing instances. He supports every claim with references to instances as you would expect from a man of his debating calibre.

Aron spoke for around 1 hour before we broke for intermission and Aron was to return for Q&A. We went and got ourselves another round of drinks, of course I was designated driver so I was getting hyped on sugary flat Pepsi. We mingled with the crowd, some seemed stand offish as they were not sure if Answers in Reason was related to Answers in Genesis but were more than welcoming when they noticed the atheist a font used on our clobber. The announcer came and had a chat with us and said Aron was happy to meet us before the Q&A began which meant the intermission seemed to go on for ever and ever. We have to mention Paul Thompson and his skepticule.com podcast. Lovely guy and member of the Skeptics in the pub. He was telling us about some of the top names he has had on his show. Eric Hovind and Sye Ten to name a couple. Please go check him out and also the skeptics events. The guys were great and made us feel so welcome. 3 Blow ins from Zeus only knows where hitting their turf and demanding(or asking rather sheepishly in all honesty) to meet their guest speaker. They were diamonds!!

Aron Ra Q&A

Q&A

Then Aron took to the podium again. The 3 of us exchanged glances and dipped our heads as we thought the moment was lost. This shows why you should assume nothing good readers. Out walks the announcer wearing his Answers In Reason t-shirt and instead of introducing Aron he introduces us and asks us to take to the same stage occupied by Mr Ra. they were kind enough to give us free reign to say what we needed to about AIR and our goals and influences and of course repeat then name and URL as much as we liked. I have to admit my throat dried and a was shaking quite uncontrollably. perhaps one of the guys consuming the Dutch courage should have spoken, although it is difficult to get our graphic designer Howie to stop once he starts…..

That done and with knees almost ready to give out we returned to our seats and the Q&A began. Aron ran an open and honest answer session and didn’t shirk away from any questions. Chris and Howie from AIR managed to get a couple of questions in so expect a couple of Aron quotes appearing in forth coming articles.

Aron Ra t-shirt

Q&A done Aron left the stage. We were becoming bolder now and asked for a quick photo op. This was no problem at all for Aron as he came back out and chatted to us over a pint or 2 for about 30 mins before we decided to let other people have a go. The Skeptics even popped our website up on the projector screen for all to see in its shining Glory. A special thanks to our web admin Davidian for his tireless work keeping us looking great and online!!

All in all this was a great day from finally getting to meet our glorious leader Christopher Pyke whom I have known and run several debating groups with for the past 3 or so years to meeting the Skeptics in the Pub guys and girls and culminating in the crescendo that was hearing Aron Ra speak and getting to speak with the man himself in a very intimate manner 😉

Kebabs and a quick logo design change scribbled with a pencil found on the floor and scrap paper, then came the 2 hour 15 minute drive home, probably would have been 1 hour 45 mins if the bloody GPS didn’t keep giving me bum steers….

Hearing Aron speak for me was probably the closest I will come to a spiritual experience. I left there high as a kite pumped up on dopamine and adrenalin. If you can catch Aron’s tour then please do!!

Take it anyway you can get it folks – Alan The Atheist!!




Aron Ra AIR t shirt

Internet atheists, FB debating groups and their spin offs

Internet atheists, FB debating groups and their spin offs

 

Does God Exist logo

I cut my teeth in online debates in a group called does God exist(DGE) on facebook about 3 years ago. I had been an atheist for a long time but was not active in it in any way.

I married a Muslim woman and she tried to introduce me to Islam. Her family showed me the nice early Meccan verses and I thought, “well this is not so bad at all!”. I then read Quran for myself, then I read it again because I was not so sure how anyone could buy into it. 3rd time of reading I figured  it was time to take to the internet and see what other people think.

I went to Islamic apologist sites, then went to anti-Islam sites to try to find a balance between each ones propaganda. I looked at the premises and explanations(tafsir) put forward by the apologists and applied logic and reason, it just didn’t add up. I looked at the logic applied by the anti-Islam proponents and they made quite clear the hate speech and sexism and violent passages of Quran and hadith. I took to the Facebook groups and watched debates from afar for a while before daring to ask a question or make a statement. During this time I was also attending Madrassa with my 4 Muslim step children. What the Madrassas were teaching and what Muslims were saying in public were not the same. We changed Madrassa 4 times as we didn’t think it was right to teach the children non-Muslims were dirty and Jews were not to be trusted, nor Christians. This was the message conveyed in my experience in these small groups. No tolerance for Kufr.

The Debate Groups and their spin offs

Anyway, back to the debate groups. As I said, I watched from afar and saw some really pointless exchanges in many groups. Groups that were badly moderated, people just name calling towards each other and Muhammed. I am no fan of Mo but trying to rile someone by offending them is not winning a debate or discussion. Maybe that works for some people but it wasn’t for me.

I stumbled in to does God exist by chance(yes theists, things do happen by chance). I found a group of very intelligent atheists that actually engaged and supported claims with links to prove points. Theists were usually overwhelmed and couldn’t debate for long. I would follow the links and try to absorb the content. I would click other links on the pages and learn more on perhaps biology or physics, sometimes philosophy or maybe refresh my theology or bible quotations. This started a huge learning curve, one which is still curving today and my thirst for knowledge just grows and is fed by the articles posted on my new found atheist friends walls and groups they have started or post in regularly. The information sharing and genuine thanks given to each other in comments for sharing knowledge is heart warming. We have groups like Space Invaders, The Science Lounge, Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey and Knowledge Is Beautiful contributed to regularly by many of the atheists I see debating theists in the groups I frequent. Debating groups such as DGE and Debate Faith, Atheist & Christian Debate. Oh and not forgetting my little intimate Atheist Resource Group.

A&C Debate  Df logoCosmosThe Science Lounge

The debaters: Theists

Now don’t get me wrong, there are aggressive debaters in all those groups who seem to just want to offend but there are a regular crew of long time members that actually take the time to try to correct theists when they misrepresent something in science. These theists have gone to a religious site and have been fed pseudoscience or been presented with “logical arguments” for their gods and have fallen hook line and sinker for the half truths or just outright lies fed to them by someone trying by any means necessary to further a justification for their worldview which is based in ancient superstition or myth. Others have been fed information since childhood by their parents and it is only natural to accept at a young age what your parent tell you is truth as just that, usually without question. when they see the pseudoscience or arguments presented on the faith sites it acts as a confirmation bias supporting their preferred belief. It can be difficult to get through to people and convince them that the science we are presenting is real, yet they only seem to challenge the science which goes against their worldview. coincidence?

The debaters: Internet Atheists

Back to the internet atheists. I can only thank the unsung heroes of logic and reason for the knowledge they have passed on or for pointing me in the right direction in where to look for more information. Keyboard warriors or hobbyist scientists, it matters not. I have been called both over the years. Theists actually believed it was a derogatory term but my hobbyist real science knowledge trumps your incorrect strawman science any day. I now possess the ability to correct misrepresentations of science and can attribute this to my peers in the debate groups. For this I thank you.

All the writers and editorial staff here on www.answers-in-reason.com have met in these very groups. Again I am honoured to be in their virtual presence as I have learned so much from them over the years and am flattered to be considered to present articles which will be published next to their writings, and the biggest thanks is for correcting me when I get stuff wrong. A hard pill to swallow but always appreciated!!

One of the highlights so far

Last Wednesday evening(March 9th, 2016) I had the great pleasure of meeting my fellow admin from DGE and founder of www.answers-in-reason.com, Christopher Pyke in the flesh. We met up to attend an Aron Ra talk just outside London. We were invited by the hosts Wycombe Skeptics in the Pub, and with Aron’s permission, up on stage to give a quick promo of ourselves. They also graciously projected our site to the big screen for all to see. This was most unexpected but very very much appreciated. Not really what the theists portray an atheist as, that being selfish and immoral. Nihilistic in worldview. Lacking respect and abusive.

Aron Ra t-shirt

Proud moment

This article is homage to you good folks that have not tried to suppress knowledge and have helped form the debater/writer/skeptic/humanist/atheist and generally well rounded man I am today. You truly are inspirational!!

To you all I raise a glass and send my warmest thanks!!

Then something like this comes along and makes it all worthwhile.

Worthwhile         Knowledge

 

 




Pascal's Wager vs Ryan's Wager

Pascal’s wager vs Ryan’s wager

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher who set a wager. Pascal’s wager is that it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise. Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.

The numbers…

The wager has a major flaw in it. See, if he is exclusive, it shows bias in the wager and works against him. If he includes all possible gods in his wager, it also works against him. Any mathematician knows that more of the whole increases the percentage and therefore chances of being correct. In short, Pascal’s wager is built upon a foundation of bias towards belief in a certain god not just gods in general.

What would happen if we included all the other possible gods?

pascal's wager
Let us say you hold to the belief of one God being the One True God… OK, fine….You might very well be correct. But, what are the odds?

The total possible number of Gods believed in is well over 2000. (according to the Encyclopaedia of Gods: there are over 2,500)
So, let us go off of the number 2000, since it is such a nice round number. The belief in one God being the one true God out of the possible 2000 Gods has a 0.05% chance of being correct. There is 99.95% chance of you being wrong. In order to even make it to 1% you would have to believe in at least 20 gods. I have created 5 total gods throughout my lifetime. Out of a possible 2000, my 5 gods gives me a .25% chance. My percentage is a whopping 400% more of a chance of being correct than monotheists.

To gamble with one’s own soul.

gamble pocket aces - pascal's wagerI call this the believer’s paradox. If the belief claims, gambling is a sin, there exists no way for the believer to believe without also sinning and damning themselves. Some beliefs contain the option of repentance, though you need to believe first and after the repentance, making it so you are in a constant state of gambling and therefore a perpetual sinner incapable of repentance.

 

 Ryan’s wager

If in the belief gambling is a sin and to believe is to gamble with one’s own soul, why believe? Is it not in one’s own best interest to behave as if no God exists, since the possibility of being wrong is so high and if wrong then the possibility of eternal punishment in a hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise?

Wager away.