The easiest book in the world to understand.

If I were the creator of the universe, esp. the earth and its inhabitants, and I wanted everybody to know and worship me and follow a very explicit set of rules and guidelines, I might list all my achievements in book form, and I might even include all my rules in that book. Takes a load off my shoulders, right? I wouldn’t have to pop down here every hour and tap somebody on the shoulder and say “Hey, that’s against the rules.” Because if I wanted everybody to follow my rules and I had them all laid out in a nice book and people still didn’t follow them, I would do that. I would intervene. First off, it could serve as a pretty cool reminder that I actually exist. Second, some people just need reminders.

But being that I’m supremely awesome, supremely powerful, and supremely knowledgeable, the rules put forth in my book would be crystal clear. There would be absolutely no way whatsoever for people to misinterpret what I am saying. If I had to use my infinite magical powers to craft the book in such a way so that the words are phrased differently for every person just so they’ll understand exactly what I’m saying, so be it. But two people who have read my book would simply be unable to disagree on the fundamentals within: you would not have one person saying “Clearly if you read it this way, Dave says homosexuals should be put to death,” while another person says “Ah, but if you look at it this way it’s pretty obvious Dave thinks every adult person capable of decision-making, signing a contract, and saying the words ‘I do’ should be offered the right to be married.”

THERE WOULD BE NO MISINTERPRETATIONS. There wouldn’t be sects of people who interpret even two words differently in my book. Because I am awesome-fucking-possum and I actually want these people to obey my rules. They will be clear. I would use my incredible powers to make my rules somehow even more clear than the phrase “Don’t punch people in the neck.” Pretty clear, huh? Someone could misinterpret it. Not if I’m god though.

That is why religion is nonsense. Because the world’s three largest monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are based upon the exact same story, yet all three religions are vastly different from one another and each even have a whole sloppy slew of sects and cults within that disagree with one another. Yours is one interpretation out of thousands, and you learned it from your parents, who learned it from their parents, who learned it from their parents, whose interpretation of your religion was probably even vastly different from your own. And yet somehow all those other religions/sects are wrong and yours is right.

My role as the atheist/skeptic is not to say to you “Nope, you’re wrong. They’re wrong. Everybody’s wrong.” Rather, it’s to say “Seriously? Look at the odds. What divine knowledge has been bestowed upon you that makes you right and millions of other people wrong?” So what if it turns out you’ve got the right god? You‘ve probably been following the wrong rules.

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Christopher Hitchens dies at 62

Photograph by Gasper Tringale

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

-Christopher Hitchens

13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011

Regarding lesser forms of (still) dogmatic belief

When people say that they aren’t really arguing the case for an “old-world god”, and especially when they argue that they’re not even arguing for an anthropomorphic god, they generally seem to be giving up the very basis for a belief in god(s) in the first place.  Considering the religions that nearly all theists come from one can really only argue for the reality of their chosen god and his/her literal influence on the world as revealed to man-kind through some form of revelation (which implies that the knowledge only exists at all in this world by virtue of the fact that its particular scriptures are true), or one has no real basis for believing in a god(s) at all.

Also, and forgive me because I am sort of half responding to a debate that I was watching with Chopra and Sam Harris, I have to say that actually watching a man so blatantly and pathetically appeal to the god of the gaps by saying that god can always exist in the tiniest, most imperceptibly minute fraction of a second after the big bang when physics breaks down because even physicists say that the comprehension of that time is unknowable…<gasps for breath>…and to do so without recognizing how pathetic and sad that argument really is when taken to such an extreme…well, I just find that hilarious.

Godless Medley

This is a medley of three songs I’ve written. The first, called “Little Atheist Me,” makes its debut in the medley. The second and third, titled “Songs About Jesus” and “The Fantastic Theory,” were previously recorded and released on my YouTube channel. Altogether, the video is just under ten minutes long. Two, if not all three, songs contain swear words. So put on those headphones.

“Little Atheist Me” is about nothing more than me and my worldview, which just happens to not include any gods. The song describes those things I do believe in, such as “love and hope and family,” as well as those things I’m afraid of, like “falling to my death or being stung by bees.” As the song says in the chorus, I’ve got “no time for Jesus.” I wrote this as a way to tell the religious community that atheists do have plenty of things they believe in or are afraid of; it’s just that none of those things include superstition.

“Songs About Jesus” is really just one song, and it’s only about Jesus insofar as the Christian belief that “Jesus is God” goes. So I suppose, really, it should have been called “A Song About God.” But there you have it. The song is also how a lot of Christians don’t seem very Christ-like, so I guess that’s the part about Jesus.

“The Fantastic Theory” is about Intelligent Design versus evolution, and the battle to censor science and/or teach ID in public schools. Mostly I cover evolution and sing about how life has no apparent design; and if it was created, it wasn’t done so very intelligently.

A few notes unrelated to the song(s)…

  • No, I will not take off that hat. I really like that hat.
  • No, I will not trim my guitar strings. No reason; I just can’t be bothered.
  • The silicone band on my right wrist is zebra-print and I got it at the Dallas Zoo. Incidentally, the Dallas Zoo is where my wife and I had our wedding ceremony.
  • The guitar is a Yamaha. I received it as a gift for my seventeenth birthday.
  • I bought my shirt through RichardDawkins.net

Also on my YouTube channel, you’ll find a few additional songs:

  • “Mary,” which is more or less about marijuana.
  • “Imagine,” which is a cover of John Lennon’s famous song.
  • “Rat-Zinger,” which is about the Catholic Pope and child-molesting priests.
  • “Fabulous,” which is about equal rights, especially for the LGBT community.

Humans are pretty dam* dumb.

The following is taken from the comments section of a particular Listverse list of “15 Unusual Prehistoric Creatures.” This is one of those cases where I don’t think a rebuttal is even necessary, but I’ll provide a very brief one after the quote. It’s entirely possible that this Captain Carrot is just a “Poe,” but I’ll treat this as though he’s being completely serious.

Captain Carrot / 27 May, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Oh, Lord. I’m tired of hearing the retarded sounding “creationists believe the earth is only 6000 yrs old” bullcrap. Who said that? Where is that fact?

Good Lord, nobody is saying that the earth is only 6000 yrs. old. That would be like saying that nothing existed, that there was this big explosion, or “bang” if you will, and then things started growing from out of nowhere. But we all know that, scientifically, it’s been proven something can’t just grow out of nothing, right? Um, right?

Plus the fact that animals were a totally different creature or species and they just “grew” what they needed later. Like how I read somewhere that dolphins were actually land animals (a cow, for instance) and all of a sudden “transformed” into something else entirely. The legs just miraculously “fused” together, it grew fins out of it’s sides, the blowhole developed, etc. etc.

For f*ck’s sake, and they say the religious crowd comes up with some unbelievable stories. Humans really are pretty dam* dumb.

Fortunately, whether or not they’re correct, most people at least recognize the existence of the Young Earth Creationists who do, in fact, claim the earth is approximately 6,000 years old. To deny these people exist (“nobody is saying that the earth is only 6000 yrs. old”) is nothing more or less than a blatant lie. Just because something is highly illogical does not mean nobody believes it to be true.

Secondly, please, for the sake of the religious right, stop attempting to use science to invalidate science. That would kind of be like saying “The Bible says it’s true, therefore the Bible is true.” Nobody ever says that! (that’s an example of me being facetious)

Third, and finally, please refrain from commenting on evolution until you actually understand evolution. Animals don’t just grow things they need. If that were to ever happen, I would be more likely to believe some supernatural force is the one guiding such transformations. It is clear you have zero understanding of evolution or the theory of natural selection.

In short, you’re right. Humans (at least some of them) really are “pretty dam* dumb.”

There is no such thing as an atheist

For some reason this comment was moved directly to my spam folder, which meant I was never given the opportunity to approve it for publication. I’m not sure why, as it’s not blatant “trolling” or spamming – then again, it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic discussed in the original blog post, nor does it seem to add anything to any existing conversations or comments. Nevertheless, I rarely check my spam folder and did not see it until now.

It was originally made in response to my post titled Thank god! but I’m reposting it here because I think it warrants a response – in this case, in the form of its very own post.

There is no such thing as an atheist. Although I know my reply will be deleted, it matters not. My path almost led me down the road to so-called “atheism”. The term “atheist” is derived from two roots “a” meaning “against” and “theos” meaning “God” or “a god”. Thus people who claim that they are atheist because they don’t believe in Him is a contradiction of terms. You can’t be against something you don’t believe exists. You may as well be a-fairy, or a-pomogianisticis. There are no such things so it is impossible to be against them. The funny thing about so-called atheists is that they spend so much time talking about the very thing they claim doesn’t exist. Isn’t this a waste of time? I don’t go around trying to convince people not to believe in the tooth fairy. No, the real purpose of each and every atheist is a deep longer to know. You WANT to see for yourself. You wish deep down inside that God would show you a sign so that you could hold on to something tangible.

As for myself, I used to believe in science and believed that everything had to have a scientific explanation. Then I realized that God’s word was far more consistent that science. Science is limited to the five senses. With science there is no room for anything that our finite human bodies can experience. It didn’t take long for me to see that science has to continue correcting itself because what is scientifically proven one day can be false the very next day. I have very little faith in science these days. I have no faith in doctors either. Doctors prescribe drugs they have little knowledge about. They cannot see the effects drugs have on the human brain, DNA, and a whole multitude of bodily functions. While a certain drug can seem to solve one issue, it will ALWAYS create a new host of side effects that can be and probably are more detrimental to our bodies.

Wasn’t it science that claimed the earth was flat? Wasn’t it scientists that claimed there could not be such things as microwaves, germs, and the like? Why not? Because we did not have the instruments to see such things. Therefore they must not exist.

The truth of the matter is that anyone who puts their faith in science is going to be disappointed over and over again. Scientists are only now realizing that there are things in this universe that cannot be explained because they do not fall into the category of tangible evidence. This is why they have created a whole new field of science called quantum physics.

Don’t allow yourselves to be deceived by blind religion or blind science. Make intelligent well informed decisions. Seek out the facts first.

Remember just because we could not detect sound waves didn’t mean they didn’t exists. Similarly just because we don’t have the equipment to detect demons and angelic beings does not mean they are not all around us. One day science will have to be re-written yet again to contain new evidence. The scriptures, however, remain unchanged since ancient times.

Finally, my story… At the pinnacle of my own arrogance and the height of my intellectual achievements, I stumbled upon a radio station that played hard rock and heavy metal. There I heard a caller describing an apocalyptic event that was all the rave at the time. He asked the disk jockeys if they had heard about a meteor that would kill one third of the population. They laughed at him and hung up the phone and continued on with their jokes, but my attention was focused on one single thought – “a third of the population”… I had heard that in my youth in my Sunday School class. “Yes” I thought, “That’s in Revelation…” So I dusted off an old Bible my parents had and found some old scriptures giving an account of the end of the world in minute detail. As I read, there was a documentary on the Discovery channel about the same topic – a meteor strike of catastrophic proportions.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I read along with the program. The events described in both the Bible and the television show were identical to a tee! God had my full, undivided attention. It was at this point that I made up my mind to have faith like a child. I said within myself, “If God says ‘A donkey talked’ then by all mean a donkey talked. I will never again question His Word.”

It was that very year that things began to happen in my life. Those “signs” I sought after were revealed to me, and I lost all hope in science forever.

I laugh whenever I see Nacho Libre with Jack Black now. Whenever I hear his sidekick declare, “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science” I chuckle within myself because I am now the total opposite.

Delete my reply if you insist this is all baloney, but if you expect real discussion on this topic, then leave it and see what other say.

Man O God

http://www.godlyfather.blogspot.com/

I don’t plan on addressing everything said in the comment, but will try to catch what I think are the most important points:

There is no such thing as an atheist…
Well, there definitely is such a thing as an atheist. As long as you’re bringing up the roots of the word I should point out that a does not mean against; rather, it means precisely the same as the a in asexual, that is, without. I, and all the other atheists, are without theism.

You are right in bringing up disbelief in fairies, and the fact that it doesn’t have “its own word.” I actually agree with you – atheism shouldn’t even be a word. Atheism should be the norm. Just like we would question somebody who told us they believe in fairies, we should question somebody when they say they believe in gods. Gods are, after all, just as likely to exist. The reason we – the atheists – speak out so fervently against religion is because it plays such a huge (and, more often than not, unwanted) role in our lives despite the fact that we do not share the same beliefs. I guarantee that if politicians and educators were trying to pass laws that were directly or indirectly inspired by their belief in Bigfoot, we would speak out against that too. If belief in Bigfoot were so widespread that it affected our lives on a nearly daily basis, we might even start using a word to describe ourselves which separated us from those who believe.

No, the real purpose of each and every atheist is a deep longer(sic) to know.
This is somewhat accurate. I can’t speak for all atheists, but I can certainly speak for myself when I say I would much rather know something than to just believe in it. That’s why we’re called skeptics. We won’t take something based on faith alone. Faith is okay, in fact I have faith in plenty of things, but my faiths are reinforced by evidence. Religious faith is not.

You’re incorrect when you say we want your god to give us some sign of its existence based on the simple fact that we do not believe it exists. I can’t want a god to prove its existence any more than I can want Harry Potter to prove he exists. He most likely doesn’t, nor does any god – especially not your god. That said, if I believed in a god I would certainly want – or at least expect – it to prove it exists.

Then I realized that God’s word was far more consistent that(sic) science.
First, you’re terribly wrong. The Bible (“God’s word”) is littered with inconsistencies and contradictions. This isn’t the place to point all of them out to you, but a quick and easy Google search for “Bible contradictions” should be all you need.

That being wrong, you also said science has to continue correcting itself. You’re absolutely right here. That’s how the scientific method works: a question is asked, research is done and information is collected regarding the subject, a hypothesis is formed, experiments are performed, data is interpreted and, if the data supports the hypothesis predictions can be made and a theory may be formed. If the data does not support the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is scrapped. This is where science and religion seem to clash. Despite all the geological, astronomical, and biological evidence that specifically conflicts with the young-earth “theory” so many religious believers adhere to, they continue to ignore the data, preferring to believe that what a non-scientific 2,000-year-old book says is probably more accurate.

As more evidence is discovered or collected, scientific theories may change. But that’s what rational people do – they admit when they’re wrong, and reshape their theories to fit the evidence. A religious person, on the other hand, reshapes the evidence to fit their so-called theories.

The scriptures, however, remain unchanged since ancient times.
If we do not count the frequency at which the Bible is re-translated, or the fact that multiple books have deliberately been removed from the earliest copies of the bible, you’re right again. Incidentally, the scriptures are just as implausible and inconsistent now as they were back when they were written.

The events described in both the Bible and the television show were identical to a tee!
First, I’d like to know which show this was on the Discovery Channel. As a fan of the channel and their publications, I’m fully aware that they do air a lot of religious programs featuring “what if” scenarios. I hardly believe a scientific program would talk about the likelihood of a dragon falling from the sky, a beast with multiple heads emerging from the ocean, angels blowing their horns at the “four corners” of the earth, or people ascending into Heaven while others found themselves marked with the number of the beast. So unless this show was specifically about the Revelation chapter in the Bible, no, they were not identical to a T.

“If God says ‘A donkey talked’ then by all mean(sic) a donkey talked. I will never again question His Word.”
I’ll just rebut this one with another one of your own quotes: Make intelligent well informed decisions. Seek out the facts first.

I lost all hope in science forever.
I would assume, then, that you never visit the doctor, never take any medicine, never drive a car, never use the internet, never watch television, and never pay any heed to documentaries on the Discovery Channel.

In other words, I’m calling you a liar and a hypocrite.

What is the best way to stop your child becoming an atheist?

This is an old one, but I thought I’d share it just in case you hadn’t seen it yet. A couple years ago, somebody asked the following question on Yahoo! Answers:

What is the best way to stop your child becoming an athiest[sic]? I don’t want any of my children to be punished by God.

-JT (user no longer exists)

Most of the answers given were about what you may expect, following the “don’t scare them with religion/leave it up to them” route, but one particular answer must have charmed the pants off of everybody else, because it was chosen (by other users; not by the original asker) as the best one of the bunch:

Do not educate them, or expose them to critical thinking, logic or science.

Lie to them constantly about how the world works. Feed them a steady diet of mumbo jumbo dressed up like real knowledge – the jumbo jet in the whirlwind for example – and pretend that it is deep wisdom.

Make them loathe their own natural bodies and functions. Convince them they are small and weak and worthless and need redemption. Tell them everything enjoyable is grievously wrong to even think about, and that their only fun should be in grovelling to an invisible friend.

Ensure that they resent anyone who is not like them in every way – skin color, nationality, political opinion but especially creed. Make such people out to be evil and vile and give them – impotent minorities all – the fictional power to somehow oppress and persecute the vast majority who do think like you.

Teach them to laugh at and dismiss out of hand any faith but their own. Early – early mind you – make sure they are taught the difference between superstitious deadly error – that one raving lunatic in the desert told the truth about a vicious god who killed people, and divine eternal truth – that another raving lunatic in the desert told the truth about a vicious god who killed people.

Instruct them with all severity and import to never question for themselves – to never think for themselves – to never live for themselves – but to seek answers only in one – just one – particular set of semi-literate bronze age folk tales.

Above all – and this cannot be overemphasized – make sure they cannot spell, use correct grammar, or understand basic English words.

That should do the trick.

David M

I think the final sentence about spelling and grammar was a bit unfair. Sure, a lot of theists show a particular lack of finesse in that department, but so do plenty of atheists. But it is what it is; despite that unnecessary jab at the end, I probably would have voted it as the best answer as well. Here’s a link to the original question/answer on Yahoo! Answers, so you may read some of the other answers offered to JT’s question.

How to be a god in 10 easy steps

What would it take to be a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient god?

  • First, you must exist beyond the logical and scientific realm and you must be immune to paradoxes. If you abide by the laws of logic and science, you have limitations and therefore you simply cannot exist. After all that would be paradoxical. Hopefully you’re immune to paradoxes.
  • Second, you must be impossible to comprehend. This means that whatever attributes we could possibly attach to you must exist and also not exist at the same time. If you were possible to comprehend, you would exist within the realm of logic and so you would not be perfect, nor would you even exist (see rule #1).
  • Third, you must not exist. Taking into account rule number two, if we can imagine your existence then in order to exist you must not exist.
  • Fourth, you cannot have a sex. None of this “He was pleased,” “…and He smote them…” nonsense. If you are perfect, you do not have a sex. Also, you have a sex. But it is neither male nor female. Also, it is both male and female (see rule #2).
  • Fifth, you cannot have an identity. If you are everything, everywhere, always, you cannot be pinned down with all this “I am the LORD” business. You are not you. You just are, were, and will be.
  • Sixth, you must exist outside of time. This means you cannot “create” things in any order. You are all powerful and perfect, so anything you can imagine should just pop into existence immediately.
  • Seventh, you must not imagine anything. If you imagine, then you have a mind and therefore an identity. See rule five. A perfect god would have nothing to imagine, anyway.
  • Eighth, you must not create anything. If you are perfect, you have all you need even though you don’t need anything. You cannot even want anything, otherwise you would not be perfect. You have no need to show off your powers. You know they’re there because you know everything there is to know, and that’s all that matters. You can’t even create the universe. Don’t even think about it.
  • Ninth, nothing can matter to you. To worry, care, feel, love, want, desire, enjoy, taste, dislike, hate, tire, or even to comprehend are emotions that no perfect god could have. To have emotions brings you down to an animalistic level. You also must feel all those emotions (see rule #2) but you cannot do anything about them (see rules #7 and #8).
  • Tenth, you must not abide by any of these rules. See rule #1. However, you must also abide by all these rules. See rule #2. You must also only abide by one of them, and also only by five of them, and even by any possible (or impossible) combination of them.

To sum it all up, you must exist (and not exist) outside the laws of logic and science. And that’s it.

This was absurd.

Pray for me!

It bothers me when people tell me bad news, then ask me to pray for them, or their loved one, or a friend. I’m not talking about when people say things like that on Twitter or Facebook; I mean when somebody says that to me directly.

Why does it bother me? Because they’re assuming I pray. That’s what our society is like: it’s perfectly okay to assume, without even knowing somebody, that they are religious. It doesn’t even matter which religion, just as long as they believe in the supernatural. Things don’t work that way for us atheists. I can’t just meet a stranger and speak as though I assume they don’t believe in any god(s).

Hell, even I assume people are religious when I first meet them. But the difference between me and theists (especially, I’ve noticed, Christians) is that I won’t act on that assumption or say anything based on that assumption. Because that would be rude.

When people ask me to pray for someone, my first instinct is to say “Okay, as long as you’ll promise to think for me while I’m doing it.” But don’t worry, I’m only an asshole when I don’t have to worry about retribution. My answer is typically something along the lines of “I wish you the best, and hope everything turns out okay.”

Inspired by a Twitter update by @ParsleyV

Morality and the Bible

This was originally meant to be a brief little blurb, but then I just kept typing. Anyway, here it is. Today’s episode of Atheist Dave, titled Morality and the Bible:

Do you subscribe to the “moral code” laid forth in the Bible?

Do you acknowledge the fact that the Bible not only condones slavery in multiple passages, but even encourages it at times?

Do you acknowledge the fact that several parts of the Bible show the Judeo-Christian god committing or endorsing mass genocide?

Do you agree that slavery, murder, and especially genocide are morally wrong? Do you sometimes find yourself saying things like “Yes, but that’s not how the world is anymore. Things were different back then“? This is called grasping for straws. That’s fine, though – you’re right – the world isn’t like that anymore. Yes, there’s still genocide and slavery going on in some parts of the world, but on a much smaller scale, and we both agree that they shouldn’t be – that humanity is better than that. Right?

Okay.

What you’ve just proven is that your morality exists outside of your religious beliefs. Your morality is not dependent upon your religion, or upon a book that was written thousands of years ago. You can still say “Okay, so the Bible teaches some pretty good lessons sometimes, but these other things in it are bad.”

Your next step is to discover that if everything in the Bible really is true – if it really is the word of some sky god – then regardless of your set of moral beliefs, this god still endorses slavery and genocide and lets rapists get off easy, unless you agree that a rapist’s punishment should simply be that he marry the woman he raped. Your next step is to realize that even if the god of the Bible exists (whom we’ll give male properties to, to make it easier), then he’s not such a great guy. He flooded the world, killing countless children, infants, and animals, to punish the fact that there were a lot of bad people. Would you burn down an entire forest just to kill the murderer hiding in it?

“Oh, but he regretted it,” you might say. That raises another question: how does a so-called “perfect” god do things he’ll regret later? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. If he exists and what the Bible says is true, then he killed everything. That’s not the sort of thing you look at and say, “Well, as long as you’re sorry…”

Let’s use the story of Lot. Lot lived in Sodom and was saved because he was the only “good” person in the entire city. Apparently god still saw evil in the rest of the city (including the children) and figured they deserved to die. Not to mention, when a bunch of men were about to rape a couple angels Lot sent out his daughters for them to rape instead. And yet the entire family was saved. Except Lot’s wife – as the city was burning, she turned around to look and god killed her. Afterward, Lot’s daughters got him drunk and then essentially raped him, became impregnated by their own father, and each bore a son.

It that how god judges good character? To me, and to most rational people who look at the story of Lot without the context of it being in the Bible, the story is nothing more than obscene. Please tell me this is not where you gather your moral standards. This book has a few good messages, sure, but so do most books – Aesop’s Fables teach wonderful moral lessons but you don’t believe animals can talk like people, do you?

Oh wait, there was that snake in the garden at the beginning of the story.

Long story short, morality is just another product of evolution and even you (not you, you – over there – the religious one) didn’t get yours from a book.