Sunday, December 6, 2015

They always miss the point

When there's a problem so scary that our country's populace is afraid to leave home, we look to our leaders, the ones we elected/hired, to watch out for our safety. If you're seeking to BECOME one of those leaders in the very near future, then you need to let us know IMMEDIATELY what you plan to do to solve this problem. That if we put the well-being of our children and grandchildren in your hands someday soon, you will have a plan of action.

THIS is the point the religious right/conservatives so painfully missed when they cried foul after learning of their Republican presidential hopefuls getting lambasted for their social-media call for prayers for the San Bernardino victims.

These poor families and friends aren't reading Twitter feeds or Facebook posts. They are overwhelmed by grief and mourning. Anyone with common sense would know this, so if you're going to release a statement on social media about this tragedy, common sense would also dictate that these messages are for the rest of the country. And the rest of the country wants to know what you think the answer is, not that you want us to pray.

If I'm the type of person that prays when a tragedy strikes, then I don't need politicians, who only have their eyes on their poll numbers, reminding me to do so. On the flip side, if I'm the type of person who doesn't believe in prayer, I certainly don't need to hear from these candidates that prayer is all they have to offer in this time of crisis.

When a New York newspaper says, "God isn't fixing this," it CLEARLY isn't saying you shouldn't pray for these people (if that's your thing). You can pray to Thor, Apollo, Yahweh or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care, but if you somehow end up running my country, I would like to know you're going to address this issue with ACTUAL policies and do it in a timely manner. The Democratic leaders and candidates had no problem with this and none of what they said was rhetoric.

So, how many more people need to die before there's the call to action from the Republican side? Don't hold your breath. You'd have a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa's body than you would of finding a Republican who publicly wants to curb guns. No right-winger would ever dare come out for any type of gun control because they're deathly (and ironically) afraid of the NRA. Their comments were all-too-transparent and severely lacking.

You'll note I didn't result to name-calling here, because there is no need. The facts are clear for any rational person to see. And keep this in mind: As I wrote this, another shooting just happened in Michigan where a guy shot and killed a 7-year-old girl, put her mother in the hospital and then killed himself with a firearm.

Pray for them ... Or don't.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My thoughts on abortion

I can't really recall ever writing down my views on abortion, at least not in this blog. Many atheists are Pro Choice and I certainly side with this camp. That's not to say all atheists believe in abortion, or should I say the right to choose? Saying you believe in abortion sounds odd to me. But I'm sure there are plenty of atheists who think a woman should carry a baby to term regardless of beliefs or circumstances. I just don't happen to be one of them.

Pro Lifers tend to lean heavily on religion for their morals/beliefs/education so their default position is to believe a zygote or fetus is a baby, and a baby is a person and a person should be protected. But, scientifically speaking, a fetus isn't a baby, it's not a life. I can quote mountains of evidence that proves this fact, but this is a blog, not a thesis, so I'll just leave it at that.

Who am I, a man, to tell another woman what she should do with her body? Who am I to force ANY person to do something to their body? Who am I to force them to let something happen to their body?

Let's come at this from another direction. Would Pro Lifers want to pass a law requiring every citizen to donate spare organs when called upon? Their blood type and other bodily fluids could be categorized at birth and kept on record and the moment a need for an organ or specific type of blood comes up, they'll get a phone call. Sounds fair, right? Would they want to have one of their kidneys taken from their body without their consent? No? Why not? Oh, they don't like the idea of the government forcing them do something with their body they don't want to do? Don't like the risk required? Don't think someone else should be making their decisions?

Get the point? A woman puts her life on the line to have a baby. All sorts of complications can arise from child birth. It's also a huge financial strain. These are things I believe must be considered.

Some might say this isn't the same situation, that people choose to have sex knowing the consequences. I disagree with this uninformed and ignorant stance. First, not all pregnancies are a result of consensual sex. But mentioning rape and molestation is an easy rebuttal. Let's just ignore that for a second, even though it refutes the argument nicely. Broken condoms, failed IUDs and even botched vasectomies or tubal ligation can result in an obviously unwanted pregnancy. But again, I'll even let this argument slide.

The Pro Life stance seems to be: If you do something, you have no choice but to ride out the consequences, as in, you chose to have sex, and because a pregnancy was the result of your sexual congress, you must see this pregnancy to full term. Is that a fair enough assessment of their stance? That the pregnant woman has no choice to do anything about this, that she must have a baby in nine months?

Interesting. So, if someone chose to smoke cigarettes and it resulted in lung cancer, the smoker has no choice but to live with the cancer. You can't seek treatment for the cancer because you have to take responsibility for your actions and live with the consequences. Hey, you knew what could happen if you put carcinogenic materials in your body. It was your choice to smoke. Again, I'll ask, get the point?

Imagine Pro Choicers bombing chemo clinics. It's ludicrous.

I've actually pissed some people off, namely my family, when I posted a gut-wrenching story to my Facebook feed about a couple who aborted their pregnancy because the fetus would have been born with Down Syndrome. I posted the story because it was so sad that this couple tried for so long to have a child, using IVF to finally get pregnant only to get the news that the resulting baby would have Downs. Now, what pissed people off was their ignorance, not my intentions. They assumed I was saying all special-needs people would have been better off if they were aborted. I would in no way ever support that. It's such an abhorrent attitude to take, and I was thoroughly insulted that much of my family would even think I would feel that way.

And full disclosure, my nephew has cerebral palsy and it was my brother who took the most offense to my post. He also volunteers with a bunch of young boys who have Downs, so instead of talking it out with me to find out my true intentions, he just chose to unfriend me and not deal with it. Here is why I posted what I did. I believe in a woman's right to choose. In this couple's case, they had no other family to help with a special-needs child, they had exhausted their savings to try to have the child through surgeries and procedures so there would be no money to hire help and they just didn't have the resources to care for a child who would need life-long support as this was an older couple.

So there are always circumstances that could arise for abortion to make sense. Something like 90 percent of all pregnancies that would result in Downs are aborted for just such a reason. If you throw in other illnesses that would leave a child with a painful existence (Tay-Sachs comes to mind), then being forced to have that child is cruel and unusual punishment.

It all boils down to beliefs. Do you believe the "potential for life" is worth defending or do you believe a woman's actual life is worth defending? If it's the former, then where do you draw the line? Every male ejaculation could fall into the "potential" category, thus rendering masturbation to be a reckless murderous act. Silly, huh?

Me? I choose to defend a woman's life, and her choice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stop praising this pope (UPDATE)

Imagine what it's like to be in an abusive relationship. You're miserable, you've been told incessantly that you're worthless, that nothing you ever do is good enough. But you stay in this relationship for years because it's all you know and after a while you start to believe you deserve this, that this is just the way life is. Then, one day, you encounter someone who treats you differently and you immediately are drawn to this person because this relationship is so, well, different.

But you'll notice I never said "better." This person isn't treating you better, just different. Maybe this person beats you, but you believe it's because they love you so much that they express their love this way. This is where the phrase "lesser of two evils" likely got its origin. Both people are detrimental to you and your life, but because you were so oppressed for so long, you choose the new one in your life who feels like the lesser of two evils. These days, that phrase has unique meaning in the world of religion.

With his recent tour of the Eastern United States, Pope Francis has been ubiquitous on media outlets and I'm already tired of the hero hyperbole. Why do you think so many people feel this guy is a great man? Well, I already gave you the answer.

When someone as horrible as Pope Benedict (and every pope before him) is replaced, his successor can only be seen as an improvement. But if you put on your rational glasses, you'll see him for what he really is, a deceptive wolf is sheep's clothing.

People call him progressive, but if you dig deeper, you'll learn he's still spewing the same insulting, repulsive, archaic doctrines the Vatican and Catholic Church have pushed for centuries.

He still supports the rejection of gay marriage because he can't free himself from Old Testament thinking, believing in a "traditional" marriage/family. Don't be fooled by his words from Rio when he said, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" This doesn't mean he accepts and promotes the gay lifestyle; it means he's saying, "Feel free to bring your tithes to my church, gay people, because we need your money for our power and in the end god will judge you and send you to hell, not me."

Don't believe me? Here are his remarks just a few months later regarding gay adoption: “Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity."

Explaining further, he said, “It is often argued that a child would be better cared for by a same-sex couple rather than in an orphanage or an institution. Those two situations are not optimal. The problem is that the state does not do what it has to do."

Translation: Gay people should not be allowed to raise children, and governments that allow this aren't doing the "right" thing by passing legislation to stop this from happening. Does that sound progressive?

How about birth control? Certainly in the 21st century the Catholic Church could elect a leader who understands the importance of contraceptives, especially as it pertains to world health. But no, despite there being dozens of AIDS-ravaged countries that would benefit exponentially from having condoms, Pope "Frankie" is vehemently against safe sex. Again I ask, does that sound like someone who is progressive?

And don't get me started on his views regarding the transgender community. When someone compares trans persons to nuclear weapons because they would wreak havoc on the “natural order of creation," it's perfectly clear he is not progressive. To paraphrase the Who, "Meet the new bigot, same as the old bigot."

UPDATE: A couple of days after I published this, it surfaced that the pope met secretly with Kentucky bigot Kim Davis and he basically told her to keep up the good work. Any doubts about his true feelings toward gay people?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bigotry and religion

Bigotry is such an ugly side of people, especially when they hide behind their religion while practicing their hate. If you don't like my worldview by all means skip this post, but I'd like to offer a little perspective regarding Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who was deservedly thrown in jail today by a federal judge for ignoring court rulings and not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

She cited her religious beliefs for her defiance, stating marriage is between one man and one woman. While that subject is for another day (and believe me that's bigotry, too) let's imagine for a moment what could happen if people were allowed to follow their religious beliefs so rigidly as to not perform the duties for which they are hired.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Davis, I know you're bleeding to death but I'm a Jehovah's Witness nurse and I don't believe in blood transfusions so I can't help you. But I'll pray you stop bleeding and get better."

"You'd like to renew your driver's license, Mrs. Davis? I apologize but I'm a Saudi Arabian Muslim DMV worker and my religion forbids women from driving. It's against my beliefs to allow you to get your license."

Shall I go on?

"Your child is ill and dying of an easily treatable disease, Mrs. Davis? I only wish I could let you see the doctor. Like you I'm a Christian, except I belong to the Church of Christ and we forbid medical treatment of any kind, but I'd be happy to pray for your child's recovery."

And this last example is so ludicrous because why would someone get hired to do a job they aren't willing to do because of their beliefs? Oh, wait, isn't that what Kentucky did with this hypocrite, who was divorced three times and had children out of wedlock? Of course there is nothing wrong at all with being divorced or having children out of wedlock, but her religion doesn't accept it and neither does she now. How interesting. She is given a pass but she can't even comprehend basic empathy and equal rights when it comes to others. Makes me want to vomit.

You can put lipstick on a pig all you want, but in the end it's still ugly Mrs. Davis and her religious bigotry not doing her job and ignoring the Supreme Court. I'm glad she's in jail. As much as people want this country to be a Christian nation it's not, it never will be and no one is above the law.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thought crime translation

Every once in a while I'll think of something from the bible, a particular verse that is tied to some edict and try to relate it to other actions in life to see how it holds up for us.

What do I mean? I was thinking recently of Matthew 5:28 ... "But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

This is yet another example of thought crime, which is riddled throughout religion, especially Christianity. Of course it's directed at men because the entire bible was written with only men in mind, so I'll update it for the 21st century: Any married person who looks lustily at someone who isn't their spouse has already cheated on their betrothed.

Sound about right? And we all know adultery is one of the top 10 commandments (there are way more than 10 if you didn't know), and breaking one of these orders is tantamount to earning a one-way ticket to the eternal lake of fire.

So, like I mentioned earlier, this got me to thinking. If merely thinking something is equivalent to doing it, then (1) why not just do it since you're screwed anyway, and (2) does this logic (and I use that word very loosely here) pertain to the other commandments? For instance, someone gets very angry at another person and fantasizes about killing that person. Did he just commit murder? If he wishes he could tell his parents to go screw because they have mistreated him his whole life, has he stopped honoring his mother and father?

This is why thoughts can't be policed and the whole idea that some deity is listening to what we are thinking is just absolutely preposterous. It's also why we don't need the threat of eternal damnation to be good people. Our thoughts are our own and if we really believed what we thought could get us into trouble there would be a LOT more believers in confession or in jail.

Grow up, theists.

Friday, August 7, 2015

This guy scared me

Every once in a while on Omegle, I stumble across someone who scares the bejebus out of me. Last night was one of those times, so I just had to post this conversation. There are people out there who, when they have no idea about a given topic, merely make up whatever they think that topic is and that's good enough for them. I believe this guy fits into that camp quite nicely. There has yet to be an instrument invented that can measure the depths of delusion that this guy exuded. At first, I thought it was going to be promising, but it quickly eroded into a pit of ignorance. Here we go:

Him: Are you religious?
Me: Nope, Funny, huh?
Him: Funny?
Me: Well, it says I like religion, but it's ironic since I despise it.
Him: Oh! Ok, yea it is.
Me: U, religious?
Him: Idk I'm into a lot of different things
Me: Like?
Him: I'm kinda christian/pagan
Me: Aren't those conflicting ideologies?
Him: Christianity is rooted in paganism. The church pretty much jacked there shit and beliefs, and labeled pagan gods as demons so they could control people.
Me: Oh, I mostly agree.
Him: I have christian beliefs, like the existence of Jesus and God and apply His message of compassion to my life, but I don't practice my faith like Christians do.
I don't care for church, rituals/sacraments, or worship. I show my respect for him in other ways.
Me: By respecting others, right?
Him: Yes, all life. That's why I'm vegan. I try to respect living creatures. Sometimes easier said than done, especially people. Pretty much the things God has made, not the things humans made in his name.
Me: Let me ask u, do you believe in evolution? I have a very specific reason for asking.
Him: I think it's possible, but I personally don't. But I don't know.

I'll interject here for a minute. I was hoping he'd say he believed in evolution because I just wanted to chat about my concern with where we draw the line in our respect for life. Since we are related to all life, why is eating only vegetables any more moral or acceptable than eating cows? Vegetation can feel things; they are living things, we are related to them. But since he didn't believe in evolution I had to take this in a different direction.

Me: Ok, well that leads to other questions for me then. Were you taught evolution at all?
Him: I live in the south in US, so of course not, lol. I only know the little bit I've looked into myself. I understand the gist.
Me: Ok, so you understand the gist, but you don't believe it, why?
Him: I wasn't there.
Me: You weren't there? You weren't there for your conception, either, but it happened. You weren't there for the holocaust, but it happened. You weren't there when the technology was invented that led to Omegle, yet you are communicating with me.
Him: As in, I don't have first-hand experience watching our species evolve as mapped out in the theory.
Me: But you don't have first-hand experience in almost everything in your life's path.
Him: It just doesn't resonate with me.
Me: Hmmm... This is interesting. So, how old do you believe the human race is?
Him: I don't know.
Me: How can you say something like "it doesn't resonate" with you and then not have any idea how long humans have been on earth?
Him: Because I don't think about these things. All I know is I am here and I didn't ask to be, so I'm trying to find out what's behind my experiences that have lead me to believe in God.
Me: Ok, just answer me this, what do you think evolution is? You did some looking into it and you said you got the gist, so I'd like to know what the gist is for you.
Him: Humans evolved into a more rational, intelligent, less hairy species.
Me: What? Less hairy than what?
Him: Why are you interested in whether or not I believe in evolution?
Me: Well, my original reasoning was because you said you cherish all life, and so do I. But when you said you didn't believe in evolution, I had to pursue that line of questioning instead. If you believed in evolution I would have had a different question for you.
Him: What was the other question?
Me: Well, it's hard to ask it since you don't believe in the fact of evolution. You're not a creationist though, right? Or should I say young earth creationist?
Him: Creationist? Like if I believe life was create by God?
Me: Well, a YEC believes in a literal bible
Him: YEC?
Me: That the earth was made roughly 6K years ago. YEC = Young Earth Creationist
Him: Oh, well I don't know about all that. I think the earth is millions of years old.
Me: Cool. That's good. It's actually almost 5 billion years old, but at least you didn't say thousands. So what are those experiences you mentioned that led you to believe in a god?

Now this guy will make you laugh and cringe. Up until this point he was pretty harmless, but then he boarded the train to Delusion Junction and I just couldn't wait to read what he had to say next.

Him: Hauntings and other encounters with spirits. Some good some bad. It got me thinking that there's more out there.
Me: And what evidence do you have for these spirits? Just personal revelation?
Him: I saw them and heard them. So I started looking into it.
Me: Do you believe in other kinds of sightings, such as UFOs, are they legit?
Him: Yes, the universe is massive so I don't think it's far off to assume there's other life out there.
Me: Excellent. Can you tell me about these spirits? And why are these occurrences a sign of a god?
Him: Through the hauntings, I learned they fear Jesus, just the mention of his name makes them run. So those experiences strengthened my belief in God, among other things.
Me: Are you telling me you conversed with evil spirits and you physically saw them run at the mention of Jesus?
Him: Conversed no. I never carry on a conversation with them. And yes, they run.
Me: So they have a physical presence? If you didn't converse with them then how do you know it was a haunting? Did these spirits carry a sign? I'm a little confused.
Him: I knew is was a haunting because they came every night. They would say things to me, trying to get my attention but I'd ignore them. And I could see them watching me.
Me: Were you ever under the influence of any type of drug during any of these? Were you nearly asleep?
Him: No
Me: So they were talking to you and took a human form and you said "Jesus" and they ran?
Him: In human form no, demons and other evil spirits are low vibrational beings. They don't usually have the energy to appear in their true form. Plus some were once human, other never were. They look like a walking shadow. Have you ever heard of shadow people? A lot of people see and encounter them. But yes, they fear Jesus.
Me: This is fascinating. I just don't know what to say. Something such as evolution doesn't resonate with you but low vibrational beings that fear Jesus does. Incredible stuff right there. Where did you come up with that explanation?
Him: Well I believe my spirit is having a human experience. I'm not really concerned with scientific explanations as to why I'm here or how humans came to be. I want to know why am I having these experiences. There so much out there that's unexplained.
Me: I could talk to you forever. Unfortunately I have to get some sleep. It's killing me because this was a great conversation and I don't want it to end. I only wish you could embrace evolution/science the way you believe in woo.
Him: Neither have all the answers. Good night.

Some of the tripe this guy was typing was beyond hilarious. Less hairy species? Seriously? He never did say what he meant by that, even if it is obvious. Running spirits? Low vibrational beings? Jesus as an antidote? This guy had an extra helping of crazy and I'm so glad this conversation wasn't in person. I don't know if I would have been able to either keep a straight face or stop from slapping him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

From a fan of mine

In my last post, I mentioned an email exchange I had with a fan of my podcast. My co-host and I had a discussion on the show about the Pledge of Allegiance, how Americans should never expect foreigners to recite it in public settings and they really shouldn't be asking for it to be recited at all in international events.

This ticked off one of our listeners, so much so that he accused us of slamming theists all too often on our show, which isn't about atheism at all. His email basically pulled out a lot of the fallback responses from theists, like "If we are all just walking chunks of flesh then why should I believe anything you say?" etc. It was a crude email that was typical of uneducated theists only reciting what they had been fed in social media and on YouTube, as you'll see he referenced William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist and debater. I didn't keep that original email, but I did keep the rest of the correspondence we had.

You'll notice his replies are short and from the hip while mine are long and thought out. I won't fix his grammar and spelling. The first response is from me, and it comes after he said he appreciated our responses and that he would continue listening to the show.

ME: Thanks for sticking with us. I actually enjoy debating theists in my spare time and have watched just about every WLC debate out there. I have to admit he rubs me the wrong way, but I still listen to him. I think Sean Carroll did the best job of dismantling his Kalam, though I tire of philosophical arguments. I'm more of an evidence guy.

I thought about addressing your email in an entirely different way, discussing the fallacy claim, objective morality, etc., but I didn't want to turn you off any more than I may have already.

Again, thanks for sticking with us and if you want to discuss theism-atheism further I'm open to it as long as you don't let it keep you from listening to our show.

HIM: Hey buddy, thanks for the reply. Honestly, you would probably destroy me in a debate. It gets so complicated at times, I have to re-read, or re-listen about 10 times to fully understand the point! I personally think WLC is an excellent debater, he actually saved my faith! I especially liked his debate against Alex Rosenberg. I do enjoy studying philosophy of religion, as I find science doesn't always answer my questions. I thought WLC did well in the Carroll debate, especially since he is not a cosmologist. I listen to Hugh Ross for things concerning those matters. Are you convinced morality is subjective? I have to ask, do you "believe" in anything other than science? You know where I am going with this! Thanks for being so accessible, and keep up the great work on the podcast.

ME: The Carroll-WLC debate hit the nail on the head when it comes to refuting the Kalam because the KCA asks the wrong questions and Carroll proves that. It's a fine argument from the pre-Enlightenment era, but now it makes little sense. When WLC is shown his argument is false, he still continues with it, because he's merely a hired gun and is working on an outdated script. And you're correct, he isn't a cosmologist, so he should stick to what he knows. I have another argument that I believe refutes the KCA, but like I said, I despise philosophy. If you want to read my opinion on it I will gladly write it up for you. I enjoy doing this and spend a lot of time debating theists in forums.

To answer your question about science, we would first have to agree on a definition for belief. If you mean do I believe unconditionally everything science has to offer? Of course not, because that flies entirely in the face of what the scientific method is all about. Science isn't my religion, but there is no better way on this planet to decipher what is true when it comes to the physical world. The scientific method ensures questions get answered and conspiracies are all but impossible. The mere fact that science is transparent and scientists live for being double-checked and found wrong is the reason to trust it.

As for morality, yes, I 100 percent believe it's subjective and, like the U.S. Constitution, it's like a living breathing thing and can change over time, as it of course has. Even if there were a god, and that god is your god, he/she/it would still have an opinion as to what is moral, making it subjective. We are a product of our times and environment, always have been, always will be.

Like I said before, I wouldn't want this to affect our relationship. I appreciate your candor and honesty and the fact that you like our show. But if you want to keep this up, I'm game. You asked me some questions so I guess I'll just ask you one: What is your worldview?

HIM: Thanks for the reply, you're very intelligent when it comes to these matters. However, for me there is a big problem with a naturalistic world view. If morality is subjective, and we are just evolved chimpanzees, then everything that comes out of your mouth, or is printed in a science book, or even science itself, is purely subjective! How can one say that torturing somebody for fun is only subjectively bad? At least you didn't say "science is the only truth," like so many others I talk to will say. The statement "science is the only truth" by itself proves that science is not the only truth! You are too intelligent to say that, which says a lot about you.

Also, if my God did exist, he would be a maximally great being. He would be the greatest conceivable "good." Therefore, "good" would be objective. In other words, God did not choose good because it is good, but good is only good if a maximally great being possesses that quality. To answer your question about my world view, I am an old earth creationist. I have learned a lot from William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, and Fazale Rana. I am sure I will learn something from you as well! This will not affect our relationship, I enjoy hearing about your world view.

ME: I'm so glad you responded and I must admit my response is quite long as I use some info from Wiki, responses from TTA forum members and Iron Chariots. Since you were the first to mention fallacies I assume you will be OK with me treating our correspondence as a debate and pointing out when you commit fallacies, etc.

Your first statement "If morality is subjective ..." has many problems. You said you were an old world creationist, but that still needs some clarifying. You could be a gap creationist (god created life instantly and recently), a progressive creationist (god allows for gene mutation and natural selection but intervenes at key points to guide the process to create humans) or a theism creationist (god of the bible created the universe and life through evolutionary processes.)

From the comment, I might guess you were a gap creationist because that statement about chimps means you might not understand what evolution really is. We are not evolved chimps. They are distant cousins to Homo sapiens on a geological timescale. Along the evolutionary tree we had a common ancestor, but we didn't come from chimps. I hope you don't ever make statements such as, "If we evolved from chimps then why are there still chimps?" because that is truly a gross ignorance that needs to be eradicated from this planet.

The topic of our discussion is objective morality. Based on this, your statement commits a few fallacies, including the evolutionary one I pointed out already. The examples you give are non sequiturs (another fallacy) in that they have little or nothing to do with the topic. Casual conversations are hardly subjected to such scrutiny as to be deemed important enough to be judged objectively by an all-powerful being. Same with textbooks, etc. These examples serve as a red herring in that you are avoiding the subject by invoking false dichotomies.

It's not that I disagree with the "subjective" portion of the statement, it's that it serves little purpose when trying to get to the heart of the matter, which is objective morality. What I say, think or do is purely subjective, yes. I am the subject, I am performing these acts or having these thoughts, hence they dictate their subjectiveness. It has nothing to do with determining if there is objective morality, so the examples are pointless.

Now, let's get to it. You brought up the example of torturing for fun and ask how it could only be subjectively bad. Torture is by definition unlawful abuse and/or creation of mental anguish. So any agreement is merely that people within a society should obey the rules of society. (Saying it is for fun is a nice touch but has little bearing on the degree of the act.)

For the argument to have any validity, all societies would have to agree on which types of mistreatment constitute torture, but even a cursory review of human history shows this is not the case. Violent interrogation, which one might think would be universally reviled, was perfectly acceptable to the Romans and Spartans (hell, even police/government agencies still do it).

Let's step it up to murder just for fun. Human sacrifice has been practiced by cultures around the world, as have judicial executions. The slaughter of civilians in war was widely accepted until fairly modern times. Some cultures did not consider it murder to kill people from other nations. At one point, samurai had wide latitude to kill peasants over the slightest discourtesy. Unless there is at least one type of killing that is universally considered to be murder, it cannot be argued that all societies agree that murder is wrong in any meaningful sense. This is the same for torture.

So to say these atrocities are objectively bad wouldn't quite be correct. I also think you may be confusing objective truth with objective morality. Again, let's go back to your statement. What comes out of my mouth or is printed on the pages of a science textbook could very well be objective truths, but it doesn't need an omnibenevolent deity to validate it. Those have nothing to do with morality.

You can certainly use objective tools to find out whether an action is morally good or bad, but the parameters you have to set up before doing so remain a subjective choice. One person may choose human suffering/human happiness as a parameter for determining morality, another person may choose his own well-being as a parameter and a third person may choose a religious scripture as his parameter. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

All fields of science have to make certain subjective assumptions to pursue objective truths. You need to subjectively value logic, reason, evidence before you can accurately gauge and measure objective truths. If you require that a science of morality to be 100 percent objective, then you're requiring it be self-justifying in a way no science can.

To quote Sam Harris in a debate he had with WLC: "If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?"

Your statements about "your" god commit two fallacies: special pleading and wishful thinking. While it's fantastic to be able to recognize the god you want, you are merely creating the being that best fits your worldview, a god you hope exists. No objective source of morality has ever been confirmed, nor have any "a priori" proofs been offered to the effect that morality is anything other than subjective. The moral principles theists claim to be "objective" usually coincide very well with what they feel subjectively to be true. The fact that you give this god the qualifier that he's maximally great means nothing and can't be proved. Why couldn't this god be maximally bad? And even if he did exist and was good, saying that he is the definition of good doesn't make it objective. If we as humans have to be told what is good then god is defining it for us, making it subjective.

Here is where it gets tricky and your worldview is important: Humans have been around in our current form for at least 100K years (it's closer to 200K but for the purposes of this discussion 100K will do nicely). I can produce mountains of evidence that proves this if you doubt it. We can easily show humans lived long before religion, before your god finally presented himself to us some 6K (or 2K) years ago. Did humans have objective morals then? How did we survive as a race if we didn't have a bible or personal revelation of god to keep us from torturing for fun and murdering for no reason? Why didn't we just die out from everyone committing every repulsive atrocity possible? Was god screwing with our free will and keeping us alive by squashing our urge to kill each other? That can't be, right?

Or maybe something a little more logical happened, you know, Occam's Razor and all. Maybe we formed tribes and packs, and realized it was much easier to survive when we worked together. Maybe we developed empathy through experience and protected each other from those individuals who didn't have the same moral compass as society. Then over the years we continued to learn and developed the Golden Rule, which means don't do something to someone you wouldn't want done to you. By the way, Confucius used the Golden Rule centuries before Christianity even existed so it's not a Christian concept. Also, we have witnessed empathy and morals in the animal kingdom countless times in countless acts. I can prove this, too. Where did they get their morals? God?

I have studied this from all angles and I didn't take my deconversion lightly. I can debate everything from philosophy to the bible, I can give my take on Christianity, Judaism, Islam and even Hinduism. I can discuss the historicity of Jesus, the irreconcilables of the gospels, the problems with the Old Testament, the problems with the New Testament, the contradictions riddled throughout the bible and I can hold my own with science.

I very much enjoyed this and hope I didn't turn you off. I'm pretty passionate about it and eagerly await your response. If there are other topics you'd like to discuss, I am all for it.

HIM: I appreciate your thorough response. To be honest, you're just way to advanced for me to have a proper debate with. At least I am man enough to admit it. You're very intelligent! Not making excuses, but I guess I kind of am, with a full time job, a wife and two kids, and trying to start up an early 60's surf rock band, I just don't have time to commit my life to studying all these things right now. I will say, William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, and Fuzale Rana do address everything that you have brought up. I have been thinking, why don't you send in either your rebuttal to the Kalam, or a write up about objective/subjective morality to William Lane Craig? I am serious, you are so advanced, I think he will take one of your questions as one of his "questions of the week." I have enjoyed our conversation, and hope I havn't let you down. Please do keep in touch with me, as I think you are very kind and respectful to other people with different world views. Take care!

At this point I think he is waving the white flag and he is actually asking to stay in touch. So I just try to end it quickly.

ME: Nah, his rebuttals aren't rebuttals. But that's cool. Just glad we are cool with each other. Thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you're sticking around. If you change your mind or have questions let me know in your free time.

HIM: Yes, they are rebuttals. There is a reason why he wins every single debate that he is involved in. Dawkins is too chicken **** to debate him, most atheist agree Harris lost by a mile, Carroll was shown why none of his lame, outdated models would work, the panel voted 4-2 in favor of Craig when he debated Rosenberg, and the Atheist Wire newspaper said "Hitchens got spanked." Are you sure the reason why you don't want to send in your thesis isn't because he could easily refute it? If Atheism is so obviously true, why does WLC keep winning these debates?! Deep down you know he shows that theism is true, but you just choose to ignore that fact. Anyway, I will definitely continue to listen to the podcast, keep up the good work!

I found it very telling how one line in my brief response got him to start to show his true feelings and unleash a little vitriol.

ME: I knew you'd be back! He won all of the debates? Hmmm. Anyone who thinks Sam Harris lost his debate to WLC must be Craig's mother or have his same last name. It was the most embarrassing one-sided affair I've ever watched and I've seen a lot of them. Not sure where you're getting your info.

And exactly who told you he won the Carroll debate, theist bloggers and Christian websites? Did you watch the debate?

Of course both sides would declare victory, just like political debates when each side spins it their way in the moratorium. But Carroll didn't try to win the debate, he even said that, he just completely dismantled the antiquated KCA. Anyone who actually followed the debate and listened to what Carroll said would know he said models don't have to be perfect, they only have to be possible. It's a moot point to say they don't work.

Your rhetoric about what I feel "deep down" was comical at best and I'll let it slide. I'm an evidence guy, just like in poker. If the story doesn't add up, I'm calling your bluff. WLC's story doesn't add up in the 21st century. And neither does yours here. You played that weak card a little too early. Do you think if I really believed the Christian god existed that I would piss him off like this? LOL! And if, as you admitted, you're not equipped to debate me on your own about such issues, how do you know WLC has won anything? Because you're being told he won? Kinda like being told what to believe by the church? Hmm.

BTW:  Dawkins hates debates, but when he does agree to one he wants to be debated by legitimate clergy, not a hired gun throwing around science terms he really doesn't understand.

I have a real problem with WLC but I won't get into that here. My disdain for him came WAY after I saw the debates, so this attitude I have toward him didn't affect my objectivity when I was searching for the truth years ago. I listened wholeheartedly to him when I was at a crossroads and he just didn't do it for me.

Are we having fun yet?

Tell me, have you read the bible cover to cover? And you said WLC restored your faith. Why did you lose it in the first place, and are your beliefs solid now because of his debates alone?

HIM: Answer this question honestly, and think before you answer. Would you personally debate WLC? Also, I am not dumb enough to say if we came from monkeys why are they still here. It does not matter if one type of murder is universally accepted or considered wrong, that doesn't change the fact that it is objectively wrong to murder somebody (we're not talking self defense here). It doesn't matter if all societies agree upon one type of torture, it's still objectively wrong. What society says about it has nothing to do with it, you atheist don't seem to grasp that point. Are you familiar with special pleading? You are guilty of it, sir. Since everything is subjective, and we are all just walking chunks of matter, why do you stand up for same sex marriage? You shouldn't care about it! I know what you will say, but really you shouldn't care, even if it "infringes on your rights." Atheist are very closed minded. I need to get back to work, have a great day!

ME: Ever notice WLC ALWAYS goes first in a debate? Why do you think that is? It's because he insists on it, including many other stipulations like a favorable location, time constraints, etc. Why? Because he then uses a tactic on the level of a high school debate team by altering the topic of the debate to something he can manipulate, forcing his opponent to do one of two things: spend his 10 minutes refuting the BS that WLC just pulled, thus surrendering his 10 minutes and playing defense for the rest of the night, or he can go ahead with his prepared 10 minutes that actually addresses the subject, and then will be subjected to WLC's underhanded cries of foul, accusing his opponent of not addressing the points he brought up, and declaring his victory. It's something that ignorant audiences and inexperienced debaters fall for and is why so many theists believe this guy wins. It's manipulative and unprofessional at best.

You have not proved at all that murder or torture is objectively wrong, you are just more and more guilty of fallacies, namely an appeal to emotion and an argument from adverse consequences. Everything related to behavior and morality is subjective and no one has ever made an argument that refutes this point without trying to insert a god they can't prove exists. And even if your god did exist, like we've discussed, this god would need to be defined so I can dismantle him for you as well. You never answered my question about the bible, btw.

Your points about special pleading and same sex marriage completely miss the mark. Please point out how I am guilty of special pleading by insisting we are all responsible for our own actions and don't answer to a made-up deity. And you never state why I shouldn't care. I know why we should care, but you never state why. Please complete at least one thought in your responses.

Your strawman fallacies are beginning to show as well, lumping all atheists into your narrow view of them and then knocking them down. Empathy is one of the most valuable attributes we have as a race and those who can't recognize that are the truly close-minded. No special pleading there.

While I appreciate how busy you might be at work, I notice you cherry-pick only that which you are comfortable answering. Why is that? Many followers of Christianity choose to cherry-pick the bible and its tenants so this behavior isn't surprising.

Hope work is going well.

HIM: You never answered my question about debating WLC. I think I know why, it's because you would get your ass kicked in a debate against him. You are making all atheist look bad with your weak arguments. Anyway, I apologize for being rude, I am not normally like that. I think you guys do a fine job and do so in a professional manner. I will recommend all of my friends to listen to your podcast. I am not at all being sarcastic. Good luck to you, and have a great day.

At this point I replied to him and sent it off, only to find out he had eliminated his email address. He really didn't like me tearing apart his hero and it got to him just when I thought the exchange was going to end. He didn't answer quite a few questions I posed to him and I'm not sure if that's because he just didn't have time, he was upset by what I had said or that he just didn't want to have to think about those things. I see it all of the time when talking to theists who really haven't given any critical thinking to their worldview. Maybe he will reach out to me again someday, with a different email address I'm sure.

Why hit and run?

Lately, when I have a chance to debate theists, they have been doing what is known as a hit-and-run. We have a casual conversation, no mud-slinging or ad-hominem attacks and then they say something really asinine and split. Of course you likely have surmised that I have had these debates electronically.

Case in point: In real life I'm sort of a pseudo celebrity in that there are a lot of people who know who I am from my media companies. One of my media adventures is a popular podcast (it's not about atheism). But every once in a while a topic will come up where my worldview is expressed. I don't actually mention being an atheist, but it's clear I'm not happy with religion or theism.

Recently, a listener contacted our show to express his disappointment in my (and my co-host's) point of view, and he rattled off a bunch of theistic mumbo-jumbo. I made sure not to apologize to this guy and thanked him for his patronage and if he felt he couldn't listen to the show anymore that I would understand. He replied with a very cordial email, stating we were very classy for replying and taking the time to deal with him, etc. Eventually we ended up having a back-and-forth conversation about his worldview and mine. We debated a bit and he admitted he wasn't in my league when it came to addressing such things. I said that was fine, I'm just glad he was going to remain a listener and not be offended. But in the end, he made some ridiculous points, said I was making all atheists look bad and would be crushed by William Lane Craig in a debate and that I'd be chicken shit to debate him, etc.

So I replied and my email came back undeliverable. I wondered at first if he blocked me so I tried to email him with my personal email and it turned out he literally closed his email account. So I can only imagine he created this account for the sole purpose of contacting our show with a boatload of insults, never envisioning we would respond and actually have a conversation. (I may post our exchange on here soon.)

A week or two later, I was on Omegle chatting with another theist and we had a real pleasant debate for about 30 minutes. We started to discuss morality (absolute, subjective and objective) and it was completely cordial. Then he went on this long diatribe, made some easily refutable points and then disconnected. So I couldn't reply and I never saved the conversation so I can't post it.

I have a hypothesis as to why they are doing this. It's a virtual version of sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming "La la la la! Can't hear you! La la la!" They get in too deep with the conversation, they don't like what they are hearing (maybe it's causing them to rethink their faith?) and they throw in an insult or two and then split without having to deal with the repercussions of making said statements.

It is frustrating because I'm being cordial, taking the high road and I'm getting taken advantage of in the process. I would be a rude ass except that would just cement in their minds that atheists are evil baby eaters or whatever. Oh well.

Monday, June 8, 2015

More freewill thoughts

When I think of freewill, I think it means we are free to live as we see fit. If we want to be wicked, then we can be. If we want to be good, then we will be good. Christians often talk of freewill, that their god won't interfere with what humans do, but instead he will deal with their actions in the afterlife. I'll use Christians here for simplicity's sake, though all Abrahamic religions speak of freewill.

I've written before on freewill here.

I'm taking a different angle here, however, namely looking at god's wrath. Of course there's the instance in the bible when god hardened the pharaoh's heart, and that clearly is a case when he interfered and removed freewill from someone (Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:19). The pharaoh was evil so god intervened. I have no problem with this, but if you claim god grants freewill then this is a violation of that pact.

But let's discuss the Great Flood. Obviously this never happened. It's just a regurgitation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, probably used pathetically to convince believers that their god could smite them at any time. Here is an excerpt that explains why god brought the rains:

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:11-13)

So, how is this freewill? You create humans, give them freewill to act as they want, then when they do and you disapprove you wipe humanity from the face of the earth? Granted, these people may have been pure evil, and they may have deserved death for their indiscretions, but I didn't set the rules or parameters. Freewill isn't free if the threat of murder is lingering over the prospect. By killing everyone, god is in effect, taking their freewill.

A Christian may argue that these people had freewill until god levied his punishment, but I would argue god kept them from doing what they wanted. He also kept humans from dealing with their own problems, and from that moment on, freewill never exists. If you know god will kill you for your actions, and that killing could/would come at any moment, true freewill ceases to exist.

There are so many problems with the Great Flood lesson, and there are plenty of instances in the bible where freewill is infringed upon, but believers refuse to take their god to task. Why? Fear. And by being afraid to question god, you have lost your freewill.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

On the origins of Hell

First, let me say I believe in nothing supernatural, no gods, no afterlife, no ghosts, no magic, nothing. And while I would never believe Hell existed in my worldview anyway, there is actual evidence that proves Hell is man-made and not an actual thing. In a recent discussion with a theist, he claimed to ACTUALLY know about Hell, so I called him on it. Of course he just told me to read the bible and backpedaled on giving me real evidence. When I told him real research reveals how Hell came to be known as a place of eternal damnation without actually existing, he asked me for proof, so here it is:

It's not surprising that "hell" in the New Testament is used as a vehicle for control and fear, and it's no less surprising that it is the product of mistranslation and misunderstanding. To get to the root of its origin we MUST begin with the OT. The Jews wrote the Old Testament, thus starting the Abrahamic religion, and they use the term Sheol, described as a morally neutral place people allegedly go after they die. It literally means "world of the dead; a subterranean retreat, a grave or pit." In fact, in the KJV, the Old Testament term Sheol is translated as "Hell" 31 times and "grave" 31 times (translated as "pit" three times).

What's that you say, there is no Hell in the OT and the Jews don't believe in Hell? No lake of fire, no eternal damnation? Well isn't that very telling? The Greeks originally translated Sheol as Hades, their underworld, which already is skewing the original meaning. The KJV translates Hades as Hell 10 times, and as grave once. Nonetheless, Hell's origin can still be traced to the OT, but let's take a quick detour to the NT for a second.

Obviously the Jesus character was a Jew, as were his followers/apostles, and in the Greek translations of the NT, Jesus uses the term Gehenna for Hell. Some say Gehenna is not Hell, but originally was a grave and in later times a sort of Purgatory where one is judged based on one's life's deeds, or rather, where one becomes fully aware of one's own shortcomings and negative actions during one's life. But if you follow the steps of translation back to the original Hebrew, you'll learn Gehenna (English) comes from the Greek's Ge'enna (γέεννα), which is a phonetic transcription of the Aramaic Gēhannā, which of course comes from the Hebrew Ge Hinnom, which literally means Valley of Hinnom.

This Valley, aka Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, was used during Roman times (and before then) for burning bodies and trash. A little more research uncovers this Valley was used for child sacrifices by Jews and Canaanites, and these sacrifices were to Molech, Baal and even Yahweh. The Valley of Hinnom is below the southern wall of ancient Jerusalem, which is telling in and of itself, that the location is below Jerusalem. Many biblical scholars will say Gehenna is a metaphor for Hell, but of course we have the actual history of the location and no real evidence of a hell itself.

But the imagery is easily transferable even if mistakingly done so: an underworld, below Jerusalem, where the unwanted things (people and garbage) go to burn. One part of the Valley was known as Tophet, the "fire-stove" or furnace, where the children were burned alive. Excavations from 1975-80 found remains of nine burial caves, and in earlier excavations of the dump, the fire was still smoldering after centuries.

So, we have Hades and Gehenna, and when the bible was translated into English in Medieval Times, both terms became Hell, which in fact doesn't exist. It literally started as just an OT description of where bodies were buried, mistranslated to mean underworld, then it was an actual place where bodies were sacrificed and burned, located below Jerusalem. And it was during the Medieval Times the Christian church manipulated Hell as a weapon for controlling its followers with fear of eternal damnation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why Christianity is most popular

On one of the forums I frequent, the comments discussion drifted somehow to which religion had the most members globally. Someone tried to say it was Hindu/Buddhism and I of course had to correct him. Christianity is first with Islam a close second. I then made an off-hand comment that we all know why Christianity dominates and it's not because it's the one true religion. One of the theists took umbrage with this remark and wanted to know my feelings as to why this is true. I poked a little fun at him by asking how he didn't know why his own religion was the most popular, and he just up and left the discussion before I could offer my answer. So here is what I would have said to him:

The reasons are plenty and these aren't in any particular order of importance:

Convenience: If you want to be a Jew, there's the hassle of learning Hebrew, there's a dress code, you must attend Temple services, the food you can't eat is tasty and you must deal with bigotry.

If you want to be a Muslim, you must go to Mecca, pray at least five times a day, you can't eat certain foods, if you're a woman you must live your life covered from head to toe while living in fear as a subservient human. Plus there's the whole jihad bullshit instilled in Muslims.

Other religions have the same or similar restrictions on lifestyle that adds up to one huge inconvenience. But in Christianity? You don't have to do anything and you can still call yourself a Christian. Just ask for forgiveness while you watch your favorite reality shows featuring Real Housewives. Do whatever you want, just as long as you make an attempt to be a good person. You can do this in perpetuity. And don't worry, if you fail, just ask for forgiveness and get a clean slate.

One Christian group can accept evolution (Catholics) while another can dismiss it as the devil's handiwork (Young Earth Creationists), yet both remain Christian and both are considered correct. One can hate homosexuals, one can accept them because Jesus was loving, and both are correct. The bible is figurative, the bible is literal, doesn't matter, you're Christian. Want to pray today? Go ahead. Don't want to? That is OK, too.

Power: Christianity had/has the most power behind it, including weaponry and hierarchy (think Constantine, Crusades, Inquisition). Why are there so many Christians? If you didn't convert to Christianity, you were killed. Simple math. People believed or they died. And as families continued to raise their children that way, the numbers grew exponentially. You kill those that don't believe and you nurture and raise those that do. Again, simple math. It is easy to outnumber other religions when you are killing everyone who wasn't like you.

Money and missionaries: Christianity preys on the needy. "We will build a hut for you, but first let's gather round and discuss the miracles of Jesus. Are you hungry? We'll give you that sandwich just as I tell you the good news."

How many religions send missionaries out into the world to convert non-believers? Christians try to convert every non-believer or non-Christian they know. It's considered their duty. The other religions don't do that. It's easy to outnumber people when you have recruiters all around the world promising you stuff for your conversion, especially if you're desperate.

Christianity craves money more than any other religion, easily. How many times has a Jew knocked on your door to ask if you have a minute to talk about Yahweh? Any Muslims ringing your bell for a chance to discuss Mohammed? Maybe a Hindu has approached you to discuss Shiva. No? You don't say. Christianity loves money, it needs it, and in America it gets tax breaks so the more money they get, the more they keep. These people aren't trying to convert others for love and peace, they are being forced out to increase the flock, to increase the cash flow. And don't even think about bringing up charity, because that still ultimately benefits Christianity, and you don't need religion to be charitable.

So, you take all of these factors and it adds up to Christianity outnumbering all religions, but even with all of these reasons, Christianity is still dying and won't be on top for long. A recent PEW study shows Islam will overtake Christianity in the next few decades and non-believers will catch up as well. So, it turns out that even the threat of death and the promise of eternal bliss isn't enough to keep Jesus lovers in first place.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Learn to think critically

Take a moment to reflect on the things you believe in your life, especially the important things. Now honestly ask yourself, "Why do I believe that?" Is it because you carefully weighed all of the pros and cons of that particular stance and truly arrived at what is best for you? Or are you merely a product of your environment, following what you were told to like, think and believe as a child?

Perhaps you looked up to someone and wanted to impress them, so you liked what they liked, you believed as they did. Think about that for a moment today. Children should be taught HOW to think, not what to think. Critical thinking is the first step to becoming the real you, and the younger a child is when they learn this the happier that child will be in life.

Why be a sheep when you can be the shepherd?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Muslim and me

I recently chatted with a Muslim about our worldviews. It makes zero difference what religion I'm dealing with, the indoctrination and denial run deep in every one. As I talked and listened, it felt an awful lot like déjà vu because these same thoughts and words have been exchanged with my Christian counterparts. Here's how the conversation went.

Me: Does all of the talk of Islamaphobia bother you?
Him: In what way?
Me: Most people associate Islamaphobia with people being afraid of Islam.
Him: Well, I have some in my family.
Me: I guess that's what I'm wondering. I mean, people hear about an atheist and think we're morally bankrupt and eat babies. It frustrates me so I wondered if people being afraid of Islam frustrated you.
Him: It makes me wanna correct them.
Me: Me, too.
Him: What about you, always atheist?
Me: No, Catholic raised, but never a true believer.
Him: That's sad for me to hear.
Me: Don't be sad. We all have our reasons.
Him: I'm sad by my reasons.
Me: Why do you believe Islam is true?
Him: Because I checked all of the paths, including Islam, and I found them all false except for Islam.
Me: Can you expound on that?
Him: For Muslims who live in 2015, the prophet is not with us anymore, right? So we cannot ask for miracles to prove God. At the time of the prophet, it's recorded like 300 miracles for the prophet, and I mean clear miracles like splitting the sea, objects and animals talking like humans, etc.
Me: But ...
Him: The only remaining miracle after the prophet's death is the Quran. I read it and I don't need to finish it to know it's the truth from God.
Me: How?
Him: Countless proofs and evidences. There for those who are sincere in finding guidance.
Me: How?
Him: Check it for yourself, bro! It's free online on quran.com.
Me: OK, so what you're telling me is that every evidence you have comes from the Quran?
Him: I'm telling you the Quran is the evidence. I need nothing more.
Me: OK, why don't you realize the Quran is the claim, not the evidence?
Him: The miracle is that the Quran is both the claim (the testimony) and the proof (the evidence). The Quran states direct statement meaning: "I am your God. Worship Me." That's the claim; it can't be both.
Me: You're losing me.
Him: Hang on, the proof is there, too, but it's not one proof, not one evidence. You're surrounded with evidences.
Me: Name one.
Him: This is exactly why it's the word of God, because no claim can be evidence to itself; that's crazy. If a book does that; it's a miracle!
Me: The book is the claim that these things happened, but in order for those things to be confirmed you need outside contemporary, indifferent sources reporting on these things. You have none. No religion does.
Him: That's impossible and no religion does, I agree, except the Quran, which is why the Quran is a miracle.
Me: By your estimate, something such as Spider-Man could be real. Why do you get to special-plead your holy tome and others don't?
Him: if you tell me Spider-Man exists, I ask you what is your proof?
Me: The comic book is the proof.
Him: The comic book is not the proof; the comic book is the claim. It has no proof.
Me: Neither does the Quran.
Him: The Quran has both the claim and the proof; that's why it's a miracle.
Me: You are practicing what is known as special pleading. Your book can defy logic in your mind, but others can't. That's a fallacy.
Him: Well, the Quran is for those who use their minds, not for those who need to hear or see or feel as evidences, because we are not animals; animals don't understand; we do.
Me: Doesn't sound like it. The miracles you claim are in all religions. Why does your talking animal get true miracle status while the OT doesn't?
Him: Name one and I'm ready to follow the religion which has one miracle.
Me: No miracles have ever happened. But the ones you listed are no different than any other religion.
Him: But I checked them all and I found no single miracle in any religion except Islam. It's full of them.
Me: It's full of something.
Him: What?
Me: Never mind. Your logic is circular. You're saying the Quran is true because the Quran says it's true. Your book has zero proof. Sorry, I'm not insulting you or your religion, I'm just stating fact.
Him: You disbelieve; I believe. We'll keep doing what we're doing and we'll see.
Me: OK, fair enough.
Him: It's very soon.
Me: I'm sure it is. Every religious person who follows a religion that professes the end times are near think it's happening during their time. Good luck with that.
Him: We'll see. By God we'll both see.
Me: Or we won't. I gotta split, nice chatting with you.
Him: May God guide you if you're sincere.
Me: Yeah, sure.

With that, I left for home. The special pleading, circular logic and straight-up delusion was strong with this one. It just baffles me how this guy didn't even comprehend how he made special circumstances for his religion and couldn't see how these very same "miracles" are riddled in other religious stories. If you've seen one, you've seen them all, it seems.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Going Clear: a moment of clarity

I recently had the opportunity to watch the most excellent HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Fear, directed and written by Alex Gibney and based on the book of Lawrence Wright.

What I took from it was the realization that Scientology truly is a religion and not just because it has tax-exempt status.

Looking at Scientology rationally and comparing it to, say, Catholicism, one can't help but see glaring similarities:

• Both religions indoctrinate their followers (Scientology has Sea Org and other institutions; Catholicism has catechism class/bible study)

• Both religions have leaders who judge your actions (Scientology has auditors and interviews; Catholicism has priests and confessions)

• Both religions lean oppressively on members for donations (Scientology makes you pay for each level you achieve; Catholicism's tithing requests 10% of your income)

• Both religions have one supreme earthly ruler (Scientology has David Muscavige, the chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center; Catholicism has the pope)

• Both religions experience legal trouble for their treatment of followers (Scientology has too many to list; Catholicism as WAY too many to list)

• And of course, both religions don't pay taxes in the United States. That is a crime for another post. I could go on, but the point is made.

The documentary was fairly thorough, and not really shocking to me. Why? For many reasons. First, I have broken free from indoctrination, so I am fully aware of some of the ridiculous things religions do. Plus, I live in the Tampa Bay area, home to one of the Scientology headquarters and I have heard/read of the many cruel and unusual practices of this church. So when one of the subjects talks about how Muscavige would literally beat certain followers into submission or imprison them for what he deemed unacceptable behavior, it doesn't surprise me at all.

I also worked as an editor for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) for nearly 15 years, many of those spent in a heated battle with the church over the treatment of their followers, namely the late Lisa McPherson, who was a victim of negligent homicide at the hands of this church. The Times also played prominently in the documentary as its story of the church's former elders speaking out against the church was all part of this exposé. To say the least, I'm familiar with the evils of Scientology.

In fact, to see pretty much all that I had learned about this church over the years wasn't really shocking, but more like confirmation. Through my deconversion from Catholicism, I researched/studied many other religions, including a brief dabble into Scientology, because I felt I owed it to myself to see if there was something I was missing. When I learned of L. Ron Hubbard's scheme, the auditors, Xenu and thetans, I knew it was all bunk. The documentary only proved it.

But here's the thing: Only atheists can say it is bunk. Anyone who believes in any religion has no leg to stand on if they choose to poke fun at Scientology. Why is Scientology any less of a religion than Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Judaism?

Perhaps their rationale would be that they knew LRH was merely a science-fiction writer who invented his religion as a money-making scheme that preyed on the gullible. (Doesn't that sound a tad familiar?) Maybe it's because we have actual pictures and footage of this monster that makes his story and knowledge more terrestrial and less divine? Is it because this religion basically started in our lifetime so it must be fake?

Does religion become more plausible if you weren't alive to witness any of its preposterous claims? How is having a galactic overlord as part of a creation myth any more strange than having a deity in the sky who sends a spirit to Earth to impregnate a virgin, who will then give birth to the very god that sent the spirit in the first place, only to have him"sacrifice" himself to himself to forgive us of our sins?

Religion, to quote Christopher Hitchens, poisons everything. This documentary exposed Scientology for what it is: poison.

Nice job, Alex.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Don't sink to their level

When I was young, my mother would say, "Don't sink to their level," whenever kids were antagonizing me for whatever childish reason they could dream up at the time. But I had a great childhood, don't get me wrong, and this defense wasn't needed much.

So why am I reflecting today? This phrase often springs to mind when I read of other atheists struggling in their debates with theists. I don't mean to ignore theists or that they are below us. Instead, what I'm saying is, look at their argument first and decide if it even deserves refuting or addressing.

For instance, someone on the Thinking Atheist forum recently looked for help dealing with a theist who tried to explain how Adam lived to more than 900 years old. Their reasoning was that there was very little disease back then so people were much more pure and able to live longer. My mother once used this defense and believed it wholeheartedly. At the time, I tried to just use common sense to dissuade her from this thinking, but I quickly realized she was beyond help, as are most theists.

It was later on that I stepped back from this argument and realized I had been approaching it all wrong. Did I believe Adam lived 900-plus years? Of course not. But what I did believe in was evolution, which proves Adam didn't exist. Why expend any energy trying to prove someone didn't live 900 years when you can dismiss that person altogether? And that's what I mean by, "Don't sink to their level." Don't legitimize their argument by trying to refute it on their terms when you can just destroy the argument from another angle.

This basically works for most, if not all, Genesis arguments. Moses lived a few centuries? Nah, he didn't even exist. Noah lived 500 years and built an ark with a handful of unskilled family members? Nah, the Epic of Gilgamesh supersedes this plagiarized fable, so why argue it's impossible for him to build the ark? Or live that long for that matter? Don't sink to their level. It's the main reason scientists refuse to debate creationists, because they don't want to legitimize their ignorant looney worldview.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Taking back Easter

Recently, some of my fellow Thinking Atheist forum members mentioned they liked my blog, so I felt like maybe I should start writing more frequently again. And what better time to start than on Easter afternoon?

The further I remove myself from religion, the more asinine the concept becomes, especially at this time of the year. When you listen to a Christian believer tell of the hoops they "must" jump through during Lent, it's painfully obvious that indoctrination could make anyone do anything, and THAT is why religion is so dangerous.

The period is kicked off by spreading palm ash in the shape of a cross on Christian foreheads. Then an invisible deity is made happy because his followers are forced to stop eating animal meat on Fridays. (As a quick aside, I invited my parents to my house this past Friday and we were going to make pasta and red sauce for them, but my wife said she couldn't make her sauce for them because she makes it with meat. I told her we should just remove the meat from the sauce when she's done, but she correctly assumed that still violated this rule because the juice of the meat would be in the sauce. Are you kidding me? By that rationale, my parents shouldn't be allowed to eat vegetables because the manure used to fertilize the crops came from the asses of cows.)

Also, apparently this god is ecstatic that my mother has stopped using Facebook for Lent. These comical edicts are meant to perpetrate the guilt complex as only religion can. You see, Jesus, if he existed, apparently spent 40 days fasting in the desert while dodging Satan's temptations. So if he did that (apparently) for his followers, the least they could do is make some mediocre sacrifice like giving up social media and hamburgers for a month.

I also learned just yesterday that years ago my wife had a confrontation with her then boss (she no longer works for him) on Easter Sunday. She used to work in a country club and was helping decorate the buffet line. She placed a really cute bunny on the table and when her boss saw it he grunted, "Get this piece of shit out of here!" My wife said, "A lot of kids will be here and isn't that what Easter is all about for them?" He just about lost it, telling her that's what's wrong with people these days, that Easter is not about eggs and bunnies but about Jesus, yada, yada, yada. He threw the bunny on the ground and told her she could keep it.

While at the time I wasn't as militant with my anti-theism as I am now, I really wish I was there when he pulled this shit. These arrogant ignoramuses have zero clue what Easter is and how it really became this holiday. Thousands of years before this Jesus fellow came on the scene, pagans celebrated the spring equinox. It's a time of renewal and fertility, of plants and crops coming back to life, not some Middle Eastern Jew zombie.

Even the Easter name is rooted in pagan lore as the goddess of spring and renewal is called Oestar (Scandinavian), Astarte (Phoenicians), Ishtar (Assyrians and Babylonians) and even in Europe she was known as Ostrara. These goddesses were celebrated on the vernal or spring equinox.

In many of these cultures, eggs (and even rabbits) represented fertility and birth, some even going so far as to decorate these eggs to represent the bright warm sun and the beautiful colors spring would bring forth. And why wouldn't eggs represent life? That's exactly what they are.

Whenever a holiday like this comes up, I can't help but wonder why theists don't see the direct correlation between their rituals and the ones that predate their religion. It's the timing and obvious themes that give them away, yet they would never accept these facts with the shroud of indoctrination holding their eyes shut. Compare the winter solstice and Saturnalia with Christmas, Ostara and the spring equinox with Easter.

Things die in the winter and are reborn again in the spring. It's not rocket science, just critical thinking. In fact, I like to think I've coined a phrase: Atheism is the use of critical thinking, theism is the use of hypocritical thinking.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why can't I just let it go?


I've been blogging on here for nearly two years and most of the time I'm fairly level-headed. Even when I'm on Omegle or the Thinking Atheist, I generally stay patient, so it might be interesting to learn that my patience seems to wear off when I'm with my theist family members.

There was a period when I got away from writing on here and I even left the forums; I like to refer to this time as my acceptance period, but that period is over and I'm trying to be active again.

While I never have been religious, my deconversion really didn't come until about two years ago. That process began when my family (mother, SIL) started going off the deep end with their recommitment to Catholicism. Their overzealous attitude and claims of daily miracles started to become too much for me to swallow. So I ratcheted up my investigative journalism training and dived deep into the questions of religion.

As you may know from earlier posts, I came out clean on the other side (just like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank) as a full-blown atheist. In the past two years, I've had some debates with them, mostly via email with my SIL (those have been well-documented on here), but we got to a point where we calmed down and didn't talk about it anymore.

Every once in a while, though, my mother will bring up something peripheral about religion or morality and we end up debating/discussing/arguing. And this is the crux of my post here: Why can't I just let it go?

And I tend to lose my patience when we discuss this stuff. I'm so patient with virtual strangers, yet when I'm with my mother, who is 74 and not exactly the healthiest person, religion always works its way into our conversation and I always end up losing my patience with her until she taps out. Whenever she hears something completely rational from me and it makes her think for just a split second against her dogma, she runs (metaphorically of course).

I think I'm impatient because I'm let down by her ignorance. In most parental-child relationships, you grow up idolizing your parents, thinking they are basically superheroes. But as you get older, you start to realize your parents are only human. And with my parents, they are starting to succumb to irrational behavior, and I'm not just talking about religion. As an atheist, I am very aware that this is the only life I have and the only life I'll have with them.

So why can't I just let this go? Why don't I just bite my tongue and listen to the bullshit? Why can't I ignore the "Praise Jesus" exults and the "GOD bless you" wishes (petty I know)? Even when we're having a non-religious normal conversation and I mention something that seems remarkable, my mom will say, "Swear to god!" She is so engrained in her ways that I just can't help myself when I get the chance to give her some info to which I know she isn't privy.

My mother and I have always butted heads about mundane bullshit and it has never affected our relationship. It's almost how we communicate. If it's not an argument then it's not important enough to discuss. But when it's religion, all the wheels fall off of the vehicle.

Finally, I think my urge to always want to discuss this with my family is because I grew up in a household where my parents wanted to know what was going on in my life, what I learned in school or at work, etc. Secularism is very important to me and I hate seeing so many people succumb to these lies and practices. So when I'm at my parents' home, I want to tell them everything that I've studied/learned because I know they have no idea these things exist.

But shouldn't I be able to to just let it go? It's been more than two years since I "came out" and yet the resentment and need to be right is not fading at all.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

QB thanks God when it's convenient

In a video on the Players Tribune website today, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson said he's having a little trouble letting go of the interception he threw to lose the Super Bowl to the Patriots.

"One yard. I'd be lying if I said I haven't been thinking about that one yard for the past 17 days. ... How could I not feel like I let (the fans) down? ... The most important thing at quarterback, and a leader in general, is accountability. So what happened in Super Bowl 49, I take full responsibility for it."

Interesting sentiment considering two weeks before the Super Bowl he said this of his four interceptions against the Packers before winning the game in OT.

"That's God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special. I've been through a lot in life, and had some ups and downs. It's what's led me to this day."

So God made thousands of Packer fans and players absolutely miserable and heartbroken because Russ had a rough life and wanted a little drama in his sporting events. Funny that it never crossed Wilson's mind that God made him throw THAT final pick to make the Super Bowl dramatic. Maybe God likes the Patriots more than the Seahawks, ever think of that Russ?

Or maybe you should stop being so arrogant as to think there's some supreme being who concerns himself with the outcome of trivial sporting events. Idiot.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Omegle means madness

Another Omegle conversation when I was bored at 1a. What I found particularly interesting this time was how quickly it escalated and that "atheism" was one of the topics this person had as an interest. If you want to challenge/discuss atheism with me (or anyone) then why give up at the end in a typical hit-and-run fashion? Here's the whole conversation and it's not too long.

Me: What's up.
Him: Atheist?

Me: Yep U?

Him: So you like talking about it? No I am not
Me: Sure, it's a conversation starter

Him: I am a Roman Catholic
Me: I was

Him: I see, You were Catholic?
Me: Yes

Him: What made you leave?
Me: Lots of things, to be honest. I was never very religious to begin with

Him: I see. But you lost your faith in God completely?
Me: Yes, completely. No faith.

Him: You have faith. Just not in God.
Me: Well, faith in the secular meaning of confidence, but not as in to believe in something despite no evidence

Him: So you believe there is no objective moral truths? Yes, I see.
Me: That is correct. All morals are subjective.

Him: So evil really does not exist then. Correct?
Me: People do bad things, people do good things. It takes religion for good people to bad things.

Him: And raping and torturing kids could be ok. It takes religion for what?
Me: You mean the raping and torturing that god endorses in the bible? Religion makes people do bad things. I thought that was pretty clear

Him: Nope. God never endorses evil. That is the result of our sins and failures. God created everything good. Religion makes me do bad things? How is that?
Me: Sorry, can't agree with you there. First, I don't believe there is any god, but if you're talking about the god of the bible, my morals are superior to his

Him: How can you say that objectively?
Me: It's not objective, it's subjective.

Him: But I am religious and you said religion makes people do bad things
Me: It does, I didn't say all people. I don't know you. You could be an exception

Him: So, being subjective, your morals are not greater than God's. It's just your opinion
Me: Ha.

Him: What good does atheism bring to the world? Do you think that if religion never existed the world would be at peace?
Me: It is my opinion, yes, that genocide, infanticide, rape, stoning homosexuals and children to death is evil, and your god enforced that. He is a petulant tyrannical ass. And yes, the world would be at more peace for sure.

Him: Can you quote where scripture states that? It would be? Haha. Ok.
Me: Atheism isn't a movement. I've read the bible from front to back more than once. Don't pretend like you don't understand the OT. Think about the wars and turmoil going on right now.

Him: Scripture scholars would disagree with your interpretations.
Me: Please. Read Exodus again

Him: Most wars are not religious wars. Unless you are unfamiliar with history as well.
Me: Read the OT again. There is no misunderstanding explicit instructions on how to own slaves, and the millions killed in the OT in war trumps all. More people have been killed in the name of religion than in any other "cause"

Him: Yes. But slaves came from human choices. Not God
Me: Is the bible the inspired word of god? Nope. You are wrong my friend. Sorry

Him: Yes it is. The Bible is inspired by God. Yes.
Me: The bible explicitly says how to own slaves, when you can rape women, etc. There's no defending it. And I'm not wrong. 9/11 7/7 Inquisition Crusades Ethnic cleansing, Ireland's prot-cath war ... I could do this all night.

Him: Abortion kills 3300 babies a day in the USA
Me: No it doesn't. They aren't babies. You're brainwashed

Him: Oops. I guess that beats all the wars combined.
Me: Nope, you're wrong.

Him: They aren't babies. Wow. You are ignorant. What are they? Monkeys?
Me: Ignorant? They are fetuses, gametes, zygotes. Not babies.

Him: See what atheism did to you? And a fetus is not a stage of development? Like infant, toddler, etc?
Me: Ha, atheism has nothing to do with this. At all. You don't have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. And no, it's not a stage of development. Is a toddler a baby? By your rationale, sperm is a baby. You're the ignorant one.

Him: Ok. Bye. Stupid is as stupid does. God bless you. One day you will know.

What I'll take away from this, aside from my aforementioned comments, is how easily angered people get when things like this get discussed. And I actually laughed out loud when I read where he said I was ignorant. I don't know why I do this. I do enjoy it, and a couple of times I did get some people to open their eyes, if only for a bit. I'll keep doing it because it's convenient to just fire up the iPad and try to bring a little rational thought into the world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Afterlife conundrum

I got to thinking today about afterlife. We (and by "we" I mean atheists) like to mock the concept of hell because the idea of a finite crime being punished with infinite torture is not only unjustified but it's laughably imbalanced.

But I've never heard or read anyone discussing the other side of this. Would it be fair to receive infinite bliss for finite mediocre compliance? Everyone could do better while they're alive. There's always something more you could have done. If being imperfect just once, like not believing in Jesus, could land you in the lake of fire for all of eternity, then shouldn't you have to be perfect to earn eternal happiness? And even that would be imbalanced.

I also have heard many theists rationalize the cruel injustices of this finite life by saying those who were savagely wronged will be rewarded in the afterlife. But what's more rewarding than eternal bliss? I mean, do these people believe there are degrees of bliss in heaven? Do some people have it better than others? Maybe some have wings while others have wheels on their feet?

I gotta tell ya, it would piss me off if I were gang-raped daily for 10 years, watched my family get murdered and then get killed myself in the most painful way possible only to arrive at the Pearly Gates to see some guy who had an easy "blessed" life getting the same treatment as me. This is why the whole afterlife concept falls apart as a reward. If there is any kind of mediocrity in heaven then why call it heaven? Yet we are told those who suffer here on Earth have it better there in heaven. And I have to admit I would be pissed if I led a good life and saw that others received a better heavenly experience for eternity.

And one last thought: If we're tempted by Satan on this finite planet and we fall victim to his charms, doing his work, etc., and we're sent to hell where Satan resides, why would he carry out punishments on us when we did what he wanted? How many people ask you to do something, you do it and then they punish you for doing it? That would be insane. As atheists, we don't believe in any god. If there were a god, then being an atheist in most religions would be a sin and we'd go to hell. Wouldn't Satan love to have us there and reward us?

An afterlife makes zero sense logically.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Omegle Oh My

I was bored the other night and decided to try to pick a debate on Omegle. While I know this guy didn't deconvert, I did make him think. I eventually introduced to the conversation the impossible faith paradox that Dr. Truth used on a popular Christian Forum a few years ago. The paradox really had him struggling to answer and caused him to admit he would have to rethink some things. Ultimately he fell back on the old chestnut that God is too complex to understand but I held his feet to the fire on that.

He said he once had doubts but feels we can never have proof so he just basically gave up on his doubts and started believing again. He also basically admitted he takes the best of all religions and follows that and he used the "all gods are God" stance, meaning you can't ask him why he doesn't believe in Zeus because he would say Zeus is God but just from Ancient Greece, etc.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's the entire conversation. I'll use attribution but eventually I'll just leave the space in between comments be the indication that the speaker has changed.

HIM: What's up?

ME: Just wondering about religion.

HIM: That's cool. What are you wondering about?

ME: Never been much of a believer. Wondering what makes people believe without proof.

HIM: Well... What do you consider proof? physical evidence? Evidence that you can feel with your senses?

ME: Well, tangible info, data, yes, actual evidence of real things, not stories or myths

HIM: I don't think our senses are real proof, our senses lie to us

ME: How is that?

HIM: Well... I don't have a proof that anything exists... This could all be a dream... I only know that I exist, like Descartes says "I think, therefore I am" People can't really prove anything

ME: So why believe? I know the Descartes' quote, but you could be a brain in a vat.

HIM: Exactly... which means that physical evidence is meaningless...however, there are different kinds of evidence that could be taken as valid.

ME: So life has no meaning? And I didn't think evidence was subject to gradation. It's either evidence or not, no?

HIM: You heard of Thomas Aquinas?

ME: Sure, and his proofs were refuted rather easily.

Yes?

Yes, from the books I read about him, yes, lots of logical fallacies.

HIM: Anyway... I don't believe my senses, and physical evidence... Only thing that is really evident is that I exist, and that my heart exists... So I tend to follow my heart... and it leads me to religion...

ME: Ah, ok. See I follow my brain. That must be the difference.

You mean you follow common sense?

No, I follow facts and science.

If we think about it... a long long time ago, common sense was that earth was flat... that was the only option... and now we laugh at those people, who knows how people in the future are going to laugh at our common sense

Sure, but that's the essence of science and the downfall of religion in a nutshell. The bible says earth was flat, science proved it wrong.

HIM: Interesting, can you show me where the Bible says the earth is flat? which verse?

ME: Daniel 4:10-11
Matthew 4:8
Luke 4:5
Isaiah 40:22
Isaiah 11:12 (four corners)
Revelation 7:1
That enough?

HIM: I've said this many many many times before, The Bible is not literal, Almost everything in the Bible are metaphors and stories In Daniel 4:10, he talks about a dream. However, still... the Bible is one very corrupted book

ME: Why ask for specifics if you then say it's all metaphorical? And I agree, the bible isn't worth the paper it's printed on. So what religion are u?

Well.. I don't really follow any religion

But you're religious?

I'm more my own person .. Yeah I'm extremely religious

Wait, how can you be both?

both?

Well, not follow a religion and be very religious.

I'm religious but I follow my own religion I guess. I think in my own head.

Wow, you have your own religion?

I don't follow any dogmas

Are you looking for tax breaks? LOL So what do you base your religion on?

Lol no.. haha... I just follow my own belief. Well... I agree with many things different religions say, but I don't agree with any of them completely. I think there is only one God, the Creator.

So cherry-picking what you like? That sounds like most religions. What led you to believe in one creator?

I was interested in theology a lot, and I have established what I believe into

This one god, must be the Abrahamic god, yes?

Well... I think there is no "Abrahamic" God, just "God" - only one. If you say it that way, it's like there are multiple of them, and one of them is Abrahamic but I know what you mean, and yes.

So you're a deist? Or do you think this creator is concerned with your day-to-day activities?

Well... the other one

Deist?

No. I think the creator is concerned with my day-to-day activities. But actually.. I'm open-minded...

So that is definitely derivative of Abrahamic religions

HIM: If someone can prove me wrong... why not? Well.. yeah I have a lot of Abrahamic influence in my belief

ME: Well, the burden of proof is on you, not the other way around. I wouldn't prove there isn't a god since I'm not making that claim.

Well.. as I said before, I don't think anything can be proven, so I tend to follow my heart...You're an Agnostic?

You could say that. I don't really think anyone can be gnostic when it comes to this subject

Yes?

Sure, how can you know for sure? You said it yourself.

Well.. I said I can't prove anything...

Exactly

So, I don't have proof

Which means you can't know. You can hope, you can have faith, but you can't be gnostic that this creator exists

Well... I have faith... but I don't have proof..

Right, faith (as far as religion is concerned) is believing in something despite there being no evidence for what you believe

yes

So not gnostic, but agnostic

Yes, So it seems that I'm not gnostic

Cool, glad we agree

If you put it that way

ME: Right. Not judging either, just saying. Do you ever have doubts?

HIM: well... I used to... but not anymore...although It hasn't been proven to me, I'm pretty certain in belief

Can you tell me why for both? Why you had doubts and why not now?

Well... I had doubts because I didn't have proof... But now... I don't think It could be proven. I just believe... although I have no reason to

But isn't that reason to continue to doubt?

I guess I can't explain it... Well.. it could be...

Why don't you believe in, say, Zeus

Well.. Zeus, seems to be another Indo-European name for god, that word is related to roman Jupiter (Zeus pater), and Sanskrt word "deva", and english words "deity" and "divine"

Ok, so you fall into the category of "Everyone's god is just the same god through the ages and I believe in one god."

well.. yeah. I believe in God, how ever they call it

And polytheistic religions got it wrong?

Well... There are theories that they evolved from monotheistic religions...

ME: Well, the Abrahamic religions evolved from a polytheistic platform. And Hinduism is older than Christianity for sure and as old as Judaism, and it's essentially polytheistic.

HIM: Hinduism today is an interesting example... it is similar to Christianity, and in it's early stage it. Well, here's what they believe into in Hinduism:
The world was created by Brahman. Brahman is an complex abstract entity that isn't a creature, nor it belongs to any race. So.. Brahman is God. Brahman has 3 forms: Brahma (God the creator), Vishnu (God the maintainer) and Shiva (God the destroyer) According to some traditions, Brahman has 5 forms
They also believe in incarnation, and one of incarnations of Vishnu is Krshna. God-human. Son of God. Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Ganesha, and many more are called "devi" They are a race. A race above humans. But there is nothing above Brahman

ME: So, polytheistic, essentially, and Brahman is the god that is the same as Zeus and YHWH in your mind?

HIM: And Brahman does not belong to a race, and Brahman isn't a part of "devi" he is above everything

ME: Gotcha

HIM: So they are not gods, since there is only one God

ME: Semantics. Let me ask, is this god of yours all merciful, all loving and omniscient?

HIM: Yes, He is a perfect being

ME: Do you believe he gave you free will?

Yes, And yes, he punishes people also

And do you believe in hell?

yes

Ok, I have a paradox for you

HIM: Actually.. I think he Is above good and evil, a perfect being

ME: How can an all knowing, all merciful, all loving god create humans knowing they would choose to go to hell of their own free will?

HIM: Who would chose with his own will to go to hell?

ME: Humans

HIM: Yes? There are humans that believe in hell, and want to go there? That are religious and want hell

ME: They choose to go there by breaking god's commandments

HIM: So they believe that it would send them to hell, and do it to go to hell? I don't think that's the case.

ME: Do you believe souls are in hell?

HIM: I think people break his commandments because they don't believe in heaven or hell

ME: Well that can't be true. People know about hell and still commit sins that will send them there. Regardless, God is merciful. Why create those people knowing they would go there?

HIM: He gave humans free will, and option to choose between good and bad,

ME: That's fine, but it doesn't answer the question.

HIM: Some will choose bad, but he is merciful And loving. And all-knowing, he knows they will commit these sins before they do. Are you asking why does He create people to burn forever?

ME: Sure, also, the fact that he's omniscient destroys free will.

HIM: Balance

ME: Balance? That's not an answer. He's merciful. Besides, who says we need balance? And if that is the case then you are saying there are going to be equal parts good and bad in the world. You're not going to bring up Sith lords and Jedis are you?

HIM: LOL actually, according to some, free will doesn't exist, everything is planned already... I don't know I don't have proof that it exists or that it doesn't, so I guess I'm agnostic about that lol

ME: Sure, it's a paradox. You can't solve it, which is why you need to think about what you believe. The five attributes I just asked you can't co-exist, yet you believe they do. But if you take hell out of the equation it works

HIM: hmm... Well... there are many paradoxes, what about time, what is time? was there a beginning of time? how can there be a beginning of time?

ME: I can see that made you uncomfortable because you changed the subject, just think about it. As for time, it didn't exist until the Big Bang

HIM: hmm what was before the Big Bang? nothing? how?

ME: There was no before

HIM: Well yes I don't know everything, actually I don't know anything, Like Socrates. Can you repeat the five attributes, let's think more about that.

ME: First, you ask what was before because you want to say there must be a cause (ala Aquinas) to which I say why? Because everything has a first cause? Then I ask, who created god? You'll inevitably say he always existed. I say, why can't a universe always exist?

HIM: Hmmm.

ME: Think on that, too. Anyway, the five attributes are:
1. God is omniscient
2. God is all-merciful
3. God is all-loving
4. Hell exists
5. You have free will

HIM: You have free will to choose between good and bad

ME: Sure, but there are a couple of things wrong with that. First, god is all knowing, so he knew when he created you that you would choose bad and then send you to the lake of fire. Second, if he knows what you will do, you don't have free will.

HIM: So it means that God wanted you to go to hell.

ME: And finally, he is loving and merciful. So if he wanted you to go there then he isn't loving and merciful. It's an unsolvable paradox of faith

HIM: So it means that the God is not all loving, because he wants, and knowingly creates people to go to hell

ME: Well, that's the paradox. All if those things can't co-exist

HIM: So.. the God wants that certain people burn. so.. he loves them, although he sentences them to hell... hmm...

ME: If hell exists, and he created them, and they go to hell, yes, it's his plan, and since those people will suffer then he isn't loving and merciful. That's not love or mercy. Still think those five things about your worldview?

HIM: Hmm... Well.. Let's see... He loves everything, and let's say we do have free will, but he knows what we will do... he doesn't control us, so certain people choose to go to hell, he doesn't make them decide to go there, they choose by themselves, and he still loves them, and it's their fault they burn? what about that

ME: No, because in the end, if they end up there then he isn't merciful. The very definition of mercy is to relieve someone of their pain. If he loves you and is all merciful then he wouldn't let you go there. And he wouldn't create you if he knew you were destined for hell. Plus, the free will is still not there since he knows.

HIM: God is very complex, and human brain can't understand it, so there are many paradoxes that human logic can't solve.

ME: Nah, I'm not falling for that. Believers love to define their god and say what he thinks and does until someone with a rational thought or paradox comes along and then we can't understand him. It's too easy. The answer is there is no god and then everything makes sense.

HIM: hmm.. so you're atheist, not agnostic?

ME: Well, those aren't mutually exclusive

HIM: well.. I guess...

ME: Agnostic is knowledge, atheism is belief

HIM: ... You're a Atheist Agnostic, and I'm Theist Agnostic. It seems that way

Yes, but reverse it. I'm an agnostic atheist. Does that bother you?

HIM: no, everyone has their own brain and is able to think.

ME: Cool, I'm always interested in people's views

HIM: I can't ban anyone from thinking, and just because I think this way , it doesn't mean that is the only way

ME:'Exactly. Hey I enjoyed this. I gotta go to sleep. Thanks again for being so honest and listening

HIM: I enjoyed this too... you're welcome

ME: Cheers

HIM: Good night, mate. God bless you

ME: LOL. And Zeus be with u.