Quotes

“Faith is nothing more than the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail.” – Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

“There is no society in recorded history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.” – Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

“When we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; when we have no reasons, or bad ones, we have lost our connection to the world and to one another. Atheism is nothing more than a commitment to the most basic standard of intellectual honesty: One’s convictions should be proportional to one’s evidence. Pretending to be certain when one isn’t—indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable—is both an intellectual and a moral failing. Only the atheist has realized this. The atheist is simply a person who has perceived the lies of religion and refused to make them his own.” – Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” – Charles Bukowski

“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” – Albert Einstein

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, had intended for us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

“It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.” – Ernestine Rose

“Fundamentalists are like the fir trees in German forests: they cannot stand alone, and are only stable when crowded together, branches locked with those of their brothers. That is why we must always fear them, because they will always hate us for our individualism.” – Brent Yaciw

“If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.” – Isaac Asimov

“To say that atheism requires faith is as dim-witted as saying that disbelief in pixies or leprechauns takes faith. Even if Einstein himself told me there was an elf on my shoulder, I would still ask for proof and I wouldn’t be wrong to ask.” – Geoff Mather

“People will then often say, ‘But surely it’s better to remain an Agnostic just in case?’ This, to me, suggests such a level of silliness and muddle that I usually edge out of the conversation rather than get sucked into it. (If it turns out that I’ve been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.” – Douglas Adams

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” – Richard Dawkins

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams

“Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.” – S. D. Weitzenhoffer

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.” – Richard Dawkins

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason” – Benjamin Franklin

“I credit that eight years of grammar school with nourishing me in a direction where I could trust myself and trust my instincts. They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, ‘This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it’s not for me.'” – George Carlin

“Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov

“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” – Albert Einstein

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The countdown is nearly over!

Two days ’til rapture.

So what exactly does that mean? It means a great world-wide earthquake, to start with. As already determined the earthquake will begin precisely at 6:00p local time everywhere. This gives us in Texas and the central United States a good 19 hours’ warning. I’d say that’s plenty of time to get away from large, heavy structures that likely wouldn’t survive an earthquake. Simultaneously, 200 million or so Christians will be “raptured,” meaning their physical bodies will be lifted off the earth and into Heaven. What is yet to be determined is whether their clothes will be raptured with them. In addition, the ground will split open and all of the dead who in their lives believed in Jesus will also ascend into Heaven.

Gross.

Anyway, the rest of us will be left behind – yes, just like in the books! For five months (because the world will cease to be on October 21) those of us who didn’t perish in the earthquake will suffer terribly: war (even without all the crazy Christians?), plague, starvation; not to mention the terrible natural disasters that will happen. This summer we can expect to see hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, storms, hail; basically all the same things we see every summer.

I can only imagine all the pissed-off non-Christians who will be left behind. I said jocularly in my last post that we atheists will be all that’s left in this world, totally free of religion. That’s obviously untrue. We’ll still have all the crazy Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Rastafarians. If I believed any bit of this was true, I would be worried about the crazy religionists who aren’t super thrilled about learning that everything they’ve ever believed was wrong. Naturally (and I’m talking about you, Jihadists) some of them will take out their frustrations on the rest of us. No doubt there would still be war. And this time, all the crazy Christians in the US government and intelligence agencies won’t be here to protect us. Which brings us back home.

The majority of the US government and government agencies will disappear. The majority of the US armed forces (Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, et al), FBI and CIA, police and fire departments will be gone. There will be bedlam, anarchy, riots, looting, fires, depression, terror – just absolute chaos. Most of my friends and family will have disappeared. My wife and I, along with a pretty small group of close friends will be left behind and, if we survive the earthquakes on Day Zero, we’ll have to work together to survive the next five months…

…to be continued.

The Bible in my own words (Numbers 31:1-54)

Image courtesy of The Brick Testament

God told Moses to go to battle with the Midianites to avenge the Israelites.

So Moses told his people to get ready to bring about God’s vengeance. “Twelve thousand men should do it,” he said. So twelve thousand men from all the tribes of Israel armed themselves and went into battle, along with a priest named Eleazar, who also brought some things.

In what could be counted as one of the most one-sided battles in all of history – even moreso than the battle of the Alamo – the Israelites killed every single Midianite man, including all five of their kings. Then they captured all the women and children and took all the Midianites’ livestock and goods. They then burned down every one of the Midianite towns before heading home where they presented Moses and Eleazar with all the stuff they took.

Moses was pissed, though.

He couldn’t believe the Israelite commanders had been graceful enough to allow all the women and children to survive the battle. “Kill them,” Moses said. “Kill them for God.” Because it was the women’s fault in the first place that all this had to go down. “But keep the virgins,” Moses said with a wink. So all of the women who had had sex were slaughtered, and so were all of the young boys.

“Also, if you killed anybody during that battle,” Moses continued, “you have to sleep outside for a week.” This included pretty much everybody, so one can conclude Moses really just wanted some alone time with Eleazar. “Take all your swag with you, including your captives. Bathe on the third and seventh days and clean all your junk. Especially the stuff made of leather, goat hair, and wood. Especially that stuff.”

“While you’re out there,” Eleazar told them, “take every single thing which can withstand fire and pass it through a fire, in order to sterilize it. Then rinse it off with water. If anything can’t withstand fire, it still has to be rinsed with water.” The soldiers would then wash their clothes on the seventh day and THEN they would finally be clean enough to come near Moses.

But God wasn’t done yet. Moses and Eleazar and the soldiers, they got to go into battle and have tons of fun. God wanted in on that, so he demanded Moses divide all the soldiers’ plunder so he could have some for himself. “Cut everything in half,” God said. “Half goes to the soldiers and the other half goes to the rest of the Israelites.” Moses nodded. “But wait,” God said, “There’s more. Out of the soldiers’ half, I want one out of every five hundred things. Out of the Israelites’ half, take one out of every fifty things and give it to the Levites since they’re still hanging on to my stuff for me.”

Moses counted everything up, did some math, and got to work.

The soldiers’ half amounted to 337,500 sheep, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 virgin girls.

This meant that Eleazar had 675 sheep, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys, and 32 virgin girls taken aside and sacrificed to keep God happy.

The Israelites’ half was, well, equal to the soldiers’ half. But one out of every fifty sheep, cattle, donkeys and virgin girls were sent to the Levites who, again, were hanging onto God’s stuff.

After everything was meted out, the army commanders went to Moses and said “Hey, we just crunched some numbers, had a roll call, and it turns out not a single one of us died during that battle.”

“Holy shit!” Moses exclaimed, “This is cause for a party!”

So the commanders took every last bit of gold they’d looted from the Midianites and gave it to Moses and Eleazar. They showed the swag to God, who pulled out a set of scales and weighed all the gold. “16,750 shekels!” God announced. And much partying was done.

Why should I believe?

Why should I believe in your god?

Really, seriously, I mean that. How would belief in your god (or any god, for that matter) improve my life? Any arguments along the lines of “because the Bible says…” will be dismissed automatically. I want to know, from the perspective of a believer in any particular religion, how the belief in supernaturalism would improve my life. This life, I mean – the one I’m living right here, right now, on earth.

Also, feeling the “golden wash of Jesus’ love” is not a legitimate reason. In fact, it’s kind of icky.

I expect the comments section of this post to be riddled with some of the deepest, most insightful reasons ever for adhering to a particular religion.

Bonus points if you can tell me why your god is more important than anybody else’s.