Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I keep forgetting to post this cartoon I created a while ago. This ends all debate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Religion: A source of hate

It's generally accepted by many non-religious people around the world that religion is a source of hate; however, many mainstream religions will counter that claim by demonstrating that their religion only preaches love. Indeed, to suggest that any mainstream religion causes hate in its followers has become politically incorrect, and has even been compared to racism. Having spent a good portion of my life as a god-fearing bible believing church going Christian, I have identified the source of this hate from reflecting upon that experience.

The hate starts with our fundamental sense of fairness. Studies with monkeys demonstrate that a desire for fairness is a fundamental element for any highly social, co-operative species.
When we see something that's unfair, the emotion we feel is that of hate. We see it all the time in everyday life; when someone cuts into line, when someone cuts you off in traffic while trying to push their way ahead of everyone else, or when we discover that someone hasn't been paying the taxes the rest of us have been paying, we as a species generally have a feeling of hate towards that individual. Those of us who do not express hatred need to train ourselves to subdue this emotion by considering alternative trains of thought, though there's no denying the instinctive response of hate.

When I was a child, I was told that God was real and we had to go to church every Sunday. When the plate of money came around, I thought it was God paying us for our worship and praise; when I found out I had to put money into that plate, I didn't think it was fair that a God that created everything would need my money. I focused my attention to where it belonged, but that wasn't always the case.

Before I got to join the congregation upstairs, I had to spend many Sundays in the basement of the church in Sunday School with some other kids. Every Sunday, I had to get up early, dress up in tacky clothes, and go to Sunday School to learn about God. This meant that I couldn't stay up late Saturday night. The only night I could stay up late was Friday night, but I was usually pretty tired by the end of Friday, because I had to get up early for school Friday morning, which meant that I didn't get to stay up late on any night of the week. When I went to school the following Monday, the kids were talking about how funny Saturday Night Live was. I hated them for getting to skip out on church Sunday morning and enjoying that bit of comedy, and then sharing the experience.

When I learned that there were kids who didn't have to go to church on Sunday, who got to sleep in after staying up late Saturday night and who got to ride dirt bikes or lounged by the pool on Sunday, dirt bikes and swimming pools we couldn't afford because in part the church took 10% of the family income, it wasn't fair. The only way I could square that in my mind was to hate the non-religious heathens, and the only way I could cope with that hatred was to believe I was somehow better than them. God was real and He loved me and I was going to go to heaven, a place they wouldn't get to go to. Fortunately for me, my mind couldn't work that way for very long, as it was always wondering. There were kids who knew that Santa Claus wasn't real, and they still got great gifts for Christmas, maybe they had some knowledge that I didn't have? When I considered this, the thought of them not sharing this knowledge really made me hate them.

This is why I believe atheism is important, because atheism is the least hateful position to be in. By calling myself an atheist, I'm being open and honest with people who still believe. I'm not holding anything back from them about how I've made my life so great. I can understand why someone who earns his or her living from the collection plate would want to preach hatred of atheists, because once people realize how much better life is without religion, they've just lost a source of labour-free income. I can understand how those putting their money in the collection plate for a very long time would want to agree with this sentiment; the thought of missed opportunities must be unbearable, just like the thought of leaving a slot machine that will pay out sometime must be unbearable to the adult diaper-wearing gambler.

Religion not only creates hate, it is the cause of many of the problems of society because of this hate. Any good the mainstream religions may do is mitigated by the inherent hate they create in their congregation by generating a demonstrably false world view in its congregation. If religions truly wanted to make the world a better place, they would refund the tithes that were given to them and re-establish themselves as charities that serve a cause, such as world hunger, climate change, and clean drinking water for everyone, and then ask for that 10%.

Of course, this will never happen, because actually fixing the problems of the world requires real actual work, and those who rise to the pulpit tend to shun doing any real work, preferring to cherry-pick the bible and telling people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Evidence that Gods do not exist.

In my last post, I illustrated, by use of analogy, why I consider being agnostic is an absurd, intellectually lazy position. One person accused me of presenting a "Straw man" argument, so I decided to support my last post with this post, which addresses some gods I know.

Roman Gods


Prior to the invention of telescopes, many gazed into the night sky and concluded that celestial bodies were gods. Saturn was so important, a day of the week was named after this god (hence, Saturday). Here's a close-up of Saturn:
Turns out that Saturn is a ringed gas giant planet, and not a god after all.


Mars, the god of war, second only to Jupiter. We sent our robots to Mars to investigate.
Nope, just another planet, this one actually fairly similar to earth.


According to Romans at one time, this was the god of sky and thunder and king of the gods until Christianity became dominant. Let's see Jupiter up close:
Turns out this is just another gas giant, similar in some respects to Saturn, but without the rings.

Sol Invictus

Makes sense to worship what turns out to be the provider of all the energy needed for all life on this planet, and probably why we observe Sunday as an important day of the week. Turns out it's nothing special, it's just another sun in the galaxy. It is special to us, however, so feel free to worship it. Just don't expect any special favours (unless you consider skin cancer a favour).

I could go on, but so far, I've demonstrated that gods were observable phenomena that, while not understood at the time, were not things outside the human concept of understanding. You should also understand that I have seen all of these gods through my own telescope, so I am not taking anyone's word for granted (yes, I also have a filter so I can also observe Sol - our sun.)

Now, the next argument usually follows that these are ancient Roman gods, and don't count, because nobody worships those gods today. So, where does the concept of a modern Christian god come from? Ask a believer today, and you'd think you're asking them to nail jello to the wall. However, the scriptures do not lie, and the effects of religion on modern day culture has left its mark.

In this case, I think Aron Ra made the best case for what the modern Christian god really is:

Yes, air. When I sneeze and you say, "Bless you," you are citing an age-old tradition in ensuring that, as my air spirit escapes in the form of a sneeze, demon spirits will not enter my body due to your blessing. When we pour a glass of hard alcohol, we see vapours rising from the top, which is why they became known as "Spirits."

The current god that is observed by western culture is an air god, but we have come to learn what air is made of and why we need to breathe it. This collection of molecules is clearly not god.

The agnostic will insist to push the concept of god beyond our understanding, but this is because god has traditionally been beyond our understanding. Before the invention of telescopes, we did not know what Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn were, but they were things within our understanding because they were observable phenomenon. Even air, although invisible, is observable in its effects and through powerful microscopes.

To postulate that a god could exist outside of our understanding is in contradiction to what we can currently observe about known gods. Every single god has existed through some observable and knowable phenomenon, and therefore can eventually be understood. Whenever somebody postulates that something could exist outside of our observable and knowable knowledge, that thing cannot be a god by any reasonable understanding of what constitutes "God." While the agnostic may postulate that things beyond our ability to observe and understand could be god, they fail to understand that, if something cannot be observed and understood, it is not a god in the sense that the intellectual have come to understand what gods really are. In fact, it becomes something completely different. A lie, perhaps; or maybe just a delusion.

I'm certain we'll discover many more things that were previously unseen to us. Science has done that; it has shown us germs, ultraviolet and infrared light, radio waves, and X-rays, just to name a few. None of these turned out to be gods either, but if they were observable without instruments, I'm certain they would have been considered gods and given their own names as well, because that is what gods have always been: Those observable phenomenon which we did not understand. This is why I am absolutely certain that gods do not exist.

Monday, August 8, 2016

How we know things

This showed up in my news feed today, which caused a bit of an argument between those who considered themselves a 3 and those who considered themselves a 4. I decided to clear this up.
First, let's get 1 and 2 out of the way. The majority of religious people would consider themselves a #1, and this is a perfectly logical, sane thing to say. A person raised to believe in god, in absence of any other information (including not actually reading the bible) will consider this to be their position. #2 is the product of an irrational mind; such a person may actually be suffering from a mental illness, or they are completely ignorant and incapable of rational thought, just as certain that God exists as a four year old is certain that Santa Claus exists.

The people who consider themselves #3 consider their position to be the most intellectually honest. Often, they will become armchair philosophers, citing that we cannot really know anything. According to this philosophy, I cannot know, for example, that my car will start tomorrow morning. I believe it will start because it started this morning and yesterday morning, but all I know from that is that it had started, not that it will start. An agnostic believes that the existence of a god is not knowable, because it's possible that god is outside our human understanding.

This seems logical enough to the armchair philosopher, but it misses one critical element: If the existence of a god could be outside our understanding, how is it that certain people have made the claim of the existence of a god? If it's outside of human understanding, then these people should have no knowledge of the existence of a god. However, this is not the case; entire religions have been built around this knowledge of the unknowable. How can someone have knowledge of something unknowable, when everything we know is clearly within the realm of our understanding?

Consider a favorite magic trick of mine. Suppose I make a red handkerchief disappear in the palm of my hand, right before your eyes. You have seen something that had clearly existed vanish into thin air, contrary to the law of conservation of matter. When you ask me how I did that, I tell you, "It's magic." In other words, it's something beyond your understanding and supernatural. Except it isn't beyond anyone's understanding, and is clearly not supernatural, I just wanted to fool you into thinking I had magical, mystical powers that make me special. I know that there was no magic, but, at the very least, you must remain agnostic about the possibility of my magical powers if you cannot figure out how I performed this simple trick.

Of course, the more rational among you will realize that all magic tricks are really just illusions performed by some sleight-of-hand, mirrors, or some other trickery, and cannot be agnostic on this topic. You realize that, even though you don't understand how the trick was done, it was just a trick. You don't remain agnostic about magic if you are truly intellectually honest, because you can go to the library, read about magic and how it's performed and learn how these tricks are done.

A person who knows there are no gods has arrived at this conclusion the same way a person might arrive at the conclusion that there's no such thing as magic, while the intellectually lazy, who might consider that a stage magician may actually be performing real magic, suggests that it's possible that a god might exist outside of our knowledge. Those of us who investigated and know how and why the god trick is done cannot be agnostic about it; we know that no gods exist the same way we know there is no magic, because, in spite of what the lazy armchair philosopher might think, things really are knowable.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

This showed up in my Facebook news feed today; I could not resist the temptation to blaspheme.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Atheist Zealots

I was raised and indoctrinated with common Christian beliefs, so I came into my current state of non-belief in a god through a process of reasoning and questioning. Once I realized the true nature of our existence, I came to regard all who did not believe in a god or gods as highly intelligent, rational peers. I now understand that I've probably given some who have never believed much more credit than they're due.

I have learned that simply being an atheist does not automatically mean a person is intelligent, rational, or compassionate, because there are atheists who never had to go through a process of rationalizing, reasoning, and questioning what they understand to be true. Non-belief in a god is a default position; the belief in god needs to be taught, and especially at a young age before a child is old enough to reason. While it can be argued that religious teachings may stunt or delay learning about things like science and history, it does not inherently turn people into ignorant, bigoted, hateful zealots. In fact, there exists in this world atheists who are ignorant, bigoted, hateful zealots, in spite of the fact that some of the most intelligent people are those who have never held a religious belief.

One such demonstration of this can be found in a Facebook group known as "Atheist Republic." After accepting their invitation to the private group earlier this year, I noticed the group devolving from oppressing religion to becoming bigoted and hateful of people who hold religious belief. I wrote blog posts such as the Niqab debate in hopes to temper people's bigotry of Muslim women, but the vitriol continued. I decided to ignore their bloodless ideology until I got caught in the cross hairs of their witch hunt.

It started with a joke. I posted a picture of a baptism cake, with the caption, "The cake is a lie." This is a long-running joke with players of the original Portal video game, and in case you don't get this joke, "The cake is a lie" was a hidden message in the game used to convey the message that a promised gift is being used to motivate without any intent of delivering. In religion, there is a promised gift being used to motivate without any intent of delivering, but it isn't cake. This was an example of satire combined with irony that I enjoy.

The first comment appeared to be from a crank questioning my belief. I followed up with what I thought was sufficient clarification without ruining the joke, and even went so far as to stick with the religious-themed satire of the original while posting a picture from the game, in case this person sincerely didn't understand.

I thought that ought to be sufficient for anyone to figure the joke out, but this zealot was clearly on an anti-religious witch hunt, because instead of bothering to even look at my profile or google "The cake is a lie," he chose to insult me by calling me a troll.

Reasoning that he was a one-off crank,  I pointed out the simple fact that he just may be, in fact, a humorless twit; hardly even an insult, given the circumstances. That's when he called out the admins of the group by tagging them in his reply.

He had lobbed the first insult by calling me a troll for all to see, rather than questioning me or sending his concerns to the admins in private. As I soon discovered, he wasn't a one-off crank in this group; he was rallying fellow zealots in his anti-religious witch hunt. It was a mob mentality as they set their rifle sights on me: One of their own, and, as this blog demonstrates, one of the most outspoken atheists.

While certain atheists accuse religion for terrible things such as the Salem witch hunts, it turns out that this is simply an ugly, cancerous side of human culture, fostered by ignorance and bigotry, that can affect atheists equally as it does the religious. It's no wonder that, with behaviour like this, people believe atheism to be just another religion.

I have decided that, after being banned from Atheist Republic, to consider abandoning my atheism, and start a new religion. My religion will be cake. The cake is not a lie, even if it is written. Anyone wish to join me?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Niqab debate

I've seen a considerable amount of hateful opinions regarding the Niqab in Canada come across my Facebook news feed as of late, and while some concerns seem legitimate on the surface, every single one of them neglects a very critical question: Why do Muslim women wear the Niqab?

If we read the opinions of liberal Canadian hipsters who choose to wear the Niqab as a fashion statement, we would learn that they find it empowering, which is something I would not disagree with. Every year on October 31, many people, myself included, find it empowering to cover our faces as we dress up as Ninjas or Batman. In fact, it's a lot of fun, and Islam would seem, on its surface, to provide a legitimate excuse to enjoy this Halloween type fun all year round. However, I doubt very much that these fun-loving hipster bloggers do not constitute the majority of Niqab-wearing women in Canada.

Others have expressed the opinion that the niqab protects them from the prying eyes of Joe public, so that only someone very special gets to see their beauty. Often, they regard themselves as a "Wrapped Candy" or some equivalent. It is a little disconcerting to me, as a supporter of the feminist movement, that a woman would relegate herself to a position of subservience to a man, to reduce herself to little more than chattel to be unwrapped only by her owner. Such a woman cannot expect to be treated as an equal in such a culture, and it saddens me to think that a woman would put such value on something as superficial as their appearance. Once again, I doubt that these women represent the majority of niqab-wearing women. If the majority do believe in this, I don't believe it's the primary reason.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.
I believe the majority of niqab wearing women wear their niqabs out of fear. Whether their fear is based in tradition, superstition, or from a real threat is irrelevant. This fear is real for them.

Consider a person who has left their culture where they were surrounded by like-minded people to come to Canada. By and large, these women are not educated by no choice of their own, and are forced to come here with their husbands because they really don't have any say or choice in these matters. Quite often, they look forward to the promise of a better life for their children, something all of us would want. They already wore the Niqab in their culture because they feared what might have happened if they didn't, and it also gave them a sense of belonging to be around other women who were clearly in the same predicament. Now they're in this strange new world with alien cultures and ideals, and all they know is fear. We can hardly expect them to suddenly become enlightened.

Let's be honest here and start by admitting these women feel safer when hiding under their niqabs. This leads to another very important question: Are we really helping them by making them feel marginalized or challenged for wearing what amounts to their personal security blanket?

At a personal level, I disagree with the Niqab for fundamental equality reasons. That said, turning it into a national debate on the covers of newspapers and the top of Facebook news feeds only serves to alienate women who have possibly already suffered a great deal of abuse in their lives, and we may very well be driving them back into the arms of their oppressors. We should feel compassion for these women. Let them wear their Niqab if it makes them feel safe. Ours should be a culture of enlightenment.

Yes, I, an atheist, say, let these women wear the niqab, and let's show them that we accept them with open arms and uncovered faces. Over time, they will come to feel secure and may even come to recognize the niqab as something ridiculous and embarrassing as they assimilate into our culture. It may not happen overnight, and it may not even happen for a generation or two, but it will certainly happen a lot faster and easier if we can agree that marginalizing and criticizing these fearful women is not productive. Please join me and help them become part of our great multi-cultural country by opting out of sharing anything hateful about Muslim women in your Facebook feed.