Monday, November 12, 2007

All go

Just thought I'd add a quick note about what I'm up to and why I've not been replying to comments. I've spent a few days in England. I returned back home to Spain just in time for my birthday and went out for dinner with my new girlfriend. It was all very nice. To my complete surprise some friends turned up at the end of the meal with a huge space cake, which meant things then turned into a party. It really was a potent cake resulting in everyone having a good time, numerous conversations that will never be deciphered, some extremely bad dancing and finally one guy taking a little trip to hospital. He was fine and the visit only led to further laughter since one of those responsible for the cake is also a member of the ambulance service. The following day saw another party - no casualties.

So, it's all been good fun and I've just not been spending time online because I've had other things to do. Thanks to everyone that's left comments. I'll be responding over the next couple of days. Rhology has left some incredible nonsense on the "Might is not Right" post below which might even warrant a dedicated article. We'll see.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Coming out to you family

It's not something I personally had that much of a problem with, but it's difficult for some.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Christianity Explained

(Text copied from this amusing image)

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that's present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

Unrelated video

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Might is not right.

One of the biggest issues I have with the pious faithful is the hypocritical claims they make about how good they are for worshiping their gods. Although I've mentioned it before, including recently, I think this point deserves more attention. One deconversion I achieved was because I highlighted that according to a friend's beliefs, I will burn for all eternity in hell. She thought of me to be a good person by my actions and she simply couldn't accept that I deserved to go to hell. My question is who does?

I've burnt myself a few times. Probably the worst was when I got a metal cylinder heater stuck to my arm but I've never been hospitalised for it. Getting burned really hurts. Out of all the pains I've experienced its right up there just above do-it-yourself home dentistry and considerably worse than the time I split my scrotum open in a bike accident. One might even say it hurts like hell. So let's imagine now the same pain, spread over all your body, your eyes, your face, the soles of your feet, the tips of your fingers, your slightly scared scrotum, your ears, inside your nose, inside your mouth, between your toes, the head of your penis, or your clitoris for female readers, your scalp, your throat, your nipples, well, everywhere – no breaks, no rest, and absolutely no escape – EVER!

Now to me, that is a pretty primitive view of Hell as it's purely a physical thing. There's still so much more that could simultaneously be done with the mind, but regardless, it is still unimaginably bad. And it serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever than to make you suffer. There's no rehabilitation here. It's just mindless, infinite torture.

Who deserves that?

In my mind, nobody does. Not even Hitler. Not even Stalin. Not even the worst child murderer ever. Not even someone that thinks someone else deserves it! Not even the worst criminal of all time, the one that has and will continue to put billions of people into that very same suffering if you happen to believe he exists, god! That's right – not even god. The suffering is so pointless and so extreme that it is literally too bad for anyone – even the one creating it.

So what I can't for the life of me figure out is how anybody can think that another human being deserves that fate simply for not saying "Thanks Jesus. You're the man. I'll be your obedient pet forever". This, my friends, does not compute.

Now, it seems a no-brainer to me that I, not being an immoral man, do not deserve that torture either. I am generally kind and conscientious. I don't steal. I don't act violently towards others. I even respect the boundaries of other people's relationships. That's right – I turn down offers from women that are already involved. I don't want to be involved in hurting people emotionally or physically and I control my actions to try to make sure that I leave people unharmed. So how can I deserve and eternity in hell?

So, all you believers out there please answer me this. Pick any one you know that is not a Christian. Pick absolutely any nice person you know or have ever met that is not a Christian, or if your experience is so limited that you don't know anyone then pick someone famous. Someone nice. Someone that worked on the Sabbath, like a doctor for example. Now please tell me how you can honestly say that this person deserves eternity in hell, burning in infinite agony, forever? Tell me honestly, do you think that is right?

How about for family members? How about for your own children? The thought of what you will accept as right just because of your belief in the might of your god staggers me. How the hell can you justify hell to yourselves? Or are you really just such scared little puppets that you can't possibly risk the independent thought of determining for yourselves that such cruel retribution for non-existent crimes is morally wrong?

My son is 13 years old and an atheist. He's one of the best behaved and considerate children I've ever known. My daughter is 12 years old and an atheist and she is actually the best behaved and most considerate child I have ever known. She has quite a reputation for it. If they die now they go to hell by your beliefs. What sickness of the mind do you have that can make you think that is deserved? What poor excuse for morality do you aspire to if you haven't the courage to disagree with your god on that simply because your god is stronger than you?

In my mind you are truly weak or absolutely inadequate as moral human beings if you do no object to a god that would inflict such torture by at least saying "Hey god. I don't want to be part of that particular plan. Whatever the reward, the price is too high!"

So come on, please loving Christians, explain to me the value of your love when the cost of your reward is the unparalleled evil of billions of your fellow man in eternal and infinite suffering? And furthermore, explain to me the frequency with which so many of you gleefully squeal your approval, in fact delight, at your predictions that so many will burn for all eternity in hell?

Just because you can't win a fight would never make it right to join the wrong side. And that is exactly what you have done. You are cowards no matter how much love you may try to give in your lives because you will never stand up against the worst of all the fates you believe to be the truth.

Might is right in your book and your loving super hero is the same monster that promises a Hell not mentioned a single time in the entire Old Testament*. Might, for you at least, appears to be the sole qualifier of right.

Apologists, on your marks! Get set! Apologise!

* Before you try to tell me I'm wrong about the OT you should know that the OT originally states "Sheol" (Hades) as the destination for everyone. Sheol is the Hebrew word referring to the common grave of all mankind. In KJV it is translated 31 times as "Hell", 31 times as "grave", and 3 times as "pit". But the OT itself contains not one reference to the unrighteous going to a different Sheol than the righteous. Hell is a New Testament invention. It's the invention of your loving Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament it is referred to a "Gehenna" (Matthew 10:28, 23:33; Mark 9:43). Note: Matthew 11:23 portrays Hades (Sheol) as distinct from Gehenna. Case closed, unless you want to disagree with the bible of course.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Skeptic Love Tag

Previously I've written a little about love before in a post called Lost. If you've read that post you may have noticed that I'm somewhat of a cynic and can't ignore the statistics when it comes to claiming how special someone is. Despite being a cynic and a relatively critical thinker I am not imune to emotion. Even though I was once described as the "closest thing to a vulcan in the atheist blogsphere" (thanks BEAJ – I liked that one) from time to time I suffer from the same irritating softy-fluffy-wuffiness as everyone else. Now is such a time. And so what better time to start a new tag on the subject.

Here's the deal.

Love that is not madness is not love – Pedro Calderon de la Barca

In my experience that is one of the most accurate statements ever made. So, in search of some advice, the task I'm passing on to other bloggers is to answer the questions below and then pass the tag on to as many skeptical bloggers as you like.

  1. Do you consider romantic love from an evolutionary pair bonding standpoint within your own relationships or do you avoid thinking about it that way?

  2. Has thinking about romantic love from a critical angle ever caused you to say something that has upset your partner and if so what?

  3. Does understanding a little of the chemistry going on inside your brain make you in anyway less susceptible to that chemistry and if so please elaborate?

  4. As people thought that explaining the rainbow removed its beauty do you think that understanding the evolutionary origins of our emotion of romantic love decreases its value or beauty for you?

  5. What advice would you give to a highly skeptical, critical atheist in knowing when to shut up and just enjoy being an ape?

My Answers:

  1. In every relationship I have ever had I have thought of it this way. I can't separate my life from what I continue to learn, in fact the thought of trying to do so horrifies me.

  2. Constantly. All of my ex-girlfriends found me to be both deep and romantic. There seems to be much more to depth than there is to romance and one invariably gets in the way of the other. Deep, since it must be based on intellectual honesty, always wins. Also, it irritates me when I am supposed to submit to stupid sayings I absolutely disagree with. One ex was mega-pissed off that I refused to agree with her on the vacuous statement that "Love is the highest thing". I told her it was a meaningless statement and that it ignored the causes of the emotion and had no context.

  3. I think so. I find it impossible to believe that someone I meet in a club for instance is anyone special which makes it impossible for me to pretend that she is. I need evidence. I have to have reason beyond a throbbing groin to make that fantastical leap. I literally think more along the lines of "Hmmm, everything I have so far learned about you is entirely average. I could pretend that you fascinate me physically, emotionally and intellectually but you do not". As I'm sure can be imagined, I absolutely suck when it comes to picking someone up. I'm just not sufficiently motivated to lie enough. This is so common that I have at times been mistaken for a prude.

  4. Not at all. It is an absolutely fantastic feeling and the cause of some of the greatest happiness I have experienced in my life. But I don't see why I have to deny understanding the importance of vasopressin receptors in pair bonding in voles and the likely similarity in our own brains. I don't understand how people think love is more valuable (it's certainly less honest) if you ignore the data and view it as something mystical.

  5. Having been absolutely terrible at this I really can't give anyone any advice other than try to find someone that also accepts critical thinking as a great methodology for living life. Never shut up.


I'm going to tag two bloggers I know are married:

Sacred Slut over at A Whore in the Temple of Reason
Tommy over at An Exercise in Futility.

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Hitler was a Christian

To be honest I'm tired of all the times I've had to discuss the claim that Hitler was an atheist when the evidence that he was in fact a Christian is overwhelming. There is argument to be made that Hitler was no fan of organised religion, but even this is put on uncertain ground as there is a strong case the quotes upon which that assertion is made were forged by Bormann, the anti-Catholic editor of the writings known as Hitler's Table Talk.

Anyway, here's a nice stash of photo's showing Hitler relating to Christ and his filthy wizards.


Thanks to Matt M for this link to a great list of Hitler quotes on his faith and Christianity.

And here's another good resource regarding Hitler's table talk and other extraneous sources. In fact has an impressive section dedicated to Hitler's Christianity.

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5000 Years of Religion in 90 seconds

Behold, the flash map of 5000 years of religious expansion in 90 seconds.

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On Atheist Anger

Greta Christina provides a nice summary of Why atheists are angry and why that's a good thing.

It's well worth a read as it provide a clear summary of some important reasons.

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Catholics protesting Children's film.

Austin over at has written a fantastic article criticising the Catholics protesting "The Golden Compass", a film based on Philip Pullman's award-winning book of the same name. Why? Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series promotes an atheistic view, but it's fine for them to indoctrinate children through ritual, fear and dedicated faith schools funded by taxes.

Go and read it.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Coincidence happens

I just clicked the Wikipedia Random Article link for the first time ever. To my surprise it showed me an article about St. Ann's Well Gardens, Hove. Why should this surprise me? Well, out of all the approximately 5.3 million articles on Wikipedia, the article above just happens to be about a garden that I used to live right next to. That's an amazing coincidence right?

Wrong! Let's investigate.

First off, before I clicked the Random Article link I'd not set any criteria for what I would consider a significant response. I've lived in a lot of places and travelled a lot, so even if we were going to restrict what we would consider to be significant to just places I have lived or been then the probability of a match becomes far more likely. But remember, I hadn't set any criteria.

I would have been surprised if the article had been about someone that shared the same name as me, or even if it was about a subject I am especially interested in. I would have been surprised if it had been the date of my birthday, the date of either of my children's birthdays, an article about what I had for lunch today, a company I've worked for, an actor or actress in a movie I've just watched, a dog that looked like mine, a car model I own, an article I've already read, a type of pet I have, a TV show I like, the list goes on and on. But none of this occurred to me within the first five seconds of looking at the article in a state of mild surprise.

We are extremely good at seeing amazing coincidence where really there is only a small coincidence at work. The countless charlatans that offer medium services, tarot, astrology, psychic readings and all the other methods of defrauding the gullible make good use of this. Cold reading uses the common coincidence at its core.

"Yes someone is coming through. It's a man. Yes, I see an initial coming through now. A 'G' and maybe an 'M'. It may be a George. It's not so clear. Does the initial 'G' or 'M' for a man ring any bells for anybody here?", says the Medium, and watches the audience for a sign from anybody that looks ripe.

"My fathers name was Michael, but his brother was called George?", responds an idiot.

"Yes, it's getting clearer. It is a George. Is that right? Uncle George. Yes, he's saying something about Michael. Something about how Michael is watching over someone. A sister, I think, or a brother. A sibling I think."

"I've got a sister."

"And she's not here today?"

"No, she's on holiday."

"George says Michael, your father, yes. He says Michael is watching over your sister and that's why he's not here today."

I think you get the point.

What I want to say is that coincidences, even spectacular coincidences, do happen. Most spectacular coincidences are actually not that spectacular though once you start to think about them, and especially once you do the maths. That's the whole point.

Really truly spectacular coincidences are rare. Every lottery in the world relies on that fact. Most coincidences are more mundane than they at first appear and learning to spot that is immunisation against seeing connections that really are not there.

Learn that and you'll start to see the supernatural, from tarot to prayer, for the vacuous nonsense it is. Then you'll be far more amazed that so many fall for the charlatans than by what the charlatans claim to be doing.

Don't take my word for it. Go to Wikipedia now. In the links on the left hand side you'll find one that says "Random Article". Go and try it a few times and report your coincidences back here. On my tenth click I got an article about Family Guy. I watched Family Guy about an hour before writing this post. Try it yourself.

Update: A couple of minutes on.

I decided to try a few more clicks myself. On the 11th click (so 21 clicks in total) I got an article about Defence Colony in South Delhi. I used to live there too. The article mentions restaurants I used to eat in and even the bakery I used to buy cakes from, and they were really good cakes. That's three coincidences in 21 clicks - 1 in 7 Random Articles have so far been relevant to me.

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Footballism: The world's biggest religion.

An ancient relic showing the religiously significant English victory of the 1966 World CupInspired by reading Tommy's post on sports, The Really Deep Questions, I've decided to say a little about my own views on the religion of football.

I grew up in England. English people, everybody else on the planet assures me, love football. Americans call the phenomena soccer, which often results in English people calling the American people "twats". Sports, it appears, can be divisive.

Football, or soccer (for twats), is an English religion based around a primitive ritual involving two groups of men running around a field kicking a piece of dead cow at each other and occasionally into one of two fishing nets. The English followers of the religion are waiting for the second coming of Bobby Moore who will lead them back to victory in the World Cup, as is told of in their ancient texts from 1966.

The objective of the ritual is to get the piece of dead cow into the other team's fishing net as often as possible. The team that gets the dead cow into the other's fishing net the most is declared the winner. The more rituals they win, the more fat people pay huge amounts of money to buy the same t-shirts that the winning team wear. The team can then spend that money on buying David Beckham or some other bald ape that is particularly famous at the time for kicking bits of dead cow about or marketing shaving equipment and other products. This in turn allows the team to sell more t-shirts to more fat people. Cleverly, the t-shirt design is changed often ensuring that it is easy to spot the less devout followers due to outdated t-shirt designs.

Every year there are numerous tournaments in which teams of dead cow kickers from different countries get together to see which one can get the dead cow into the fishing net the most. The winners receive a big cup and the opportunity to sell more t-shirts. This is ironic in many ways, not least because the winning team almost always seem to take off their t-shirts when they win and swap them with the losing team, giving the impression that anybody that is still wearing a winning team's t-shirt may be something of a loser.

During any particular ritual, known as a match, large groups of people known as fans, who's lives are effected in absolutely no way by the dead cow or the fishing nets, pay great attention to which dead cow kicker has the piece of dead cow, where the piece of dead cow is going, the proximity of the dead cow to the fishing nets and how much of a wanker a lunatic wearing a black t-shirt is who spends the entire ritual running around the field blowing a whistle. Occasionally a fan will be so overcome by the experience that they will remove all of their clothes and run across the field naked, being chased by the local authorities who are keen that the intellectual spirit of the ritual not be debased by the presence of wobbling breasts or a bouncing cock.

The fans are indeed fascinating and essential to the ritual. Hypnotised by the random motion of the piece of dead cow, their emotions are placed under its complete control. Since some fans support one team of dead cow kickers and other fans support the other team of dead cow kickers, football seems to follow the old adage that you can't please everybody.

Since some of the fans are invariably very unhappy about what's happening with the piece of dead cow the two groups of fans have to be separated to prevent them from killing each other before the ritual has finished. Although it does happen, especially when a particularly shiny cup is at stake, fans are discouraged from sacrificing each other even after the ritual as presumably dead fans will result in lower t-shirt sales. General violence however is very common and after any ritual numerous ripped and bloodied t-shirts will have to be replaced.

Now, the interesting thing about the religion of football is just how popular it is. It's a much bigger business than Christianity, Islam or any of the other religions that battle it out for the fans in England. Some believe this is because football is less boring, but careful observers see no evidence that this is true. Others have pointed out that both Christianity and Islam have yet to integrate a truly effective t-shirt strategy into their practices. Mosques and Churches also have extremely inadequate bar and fast food facilities on site, which is certainly a major mistake, but overall it may simply be that the level of violence in the theistic religions is simply too great. People prefer activities they feel comfortable taking their children to, after all.

Footballism (soccerism, for twats) may be the world's largest religion. People from every nation will line up and scream emotionally for a glimpse at an ape called David Beckham at any chance they get. Many people in China will work long hard hours on a sub-minimum wage making t-shirts with the name of a football team from England on just so that after a hard months work they'll have sufficient funds to buy one of those t-shirts for themselves. The t-shirt tithe system has made Footballism such a wealthy religion that football teams and particular dead cow kickers are often paid vast sums of money to associate with numerous other products that have absolutely nothing to do with football. If they did they would make playing the sport very difficult indeed, although almost certainly much more fun to watch. These products range from minivans to moisturisers, and razor blades to extremely unhealthy processed foods for children. It is estimated that without David Beckham, a particularly famous dead cow kicker, as much as 80% of the planet's marketing economy would collapse.

If you find that you are unfortunate enough to attend a football ritual here is some brief advice that may be of use. Do not watch the ritual. It will be extremely boring. Watching the fans will be far more interesting and it is obviously far safer to remain alert. If one of the dead cow kickers of the team the fans around you support (see t-shirt tithe) happens to get the dead cow into the other teams fishing net then it is vital that you immediately stand up and shriek like an orgasmic baboon to blend in. Do not be alarmed when complete strangers around you start to touch you, hug you and possibly even kiss you in ways that you may consider rather gay. Homoerotic displays of instant and profound affection are a common response to a dead cow fishing net convergence. The fan will usually stop jumping up and down rubbing his groin against you and screaming after a short time. So far there are no solid data to suggest that you are at significant risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease whilst attending a football match.

You should at no time say anything to a fan that could be construed as a compliment to the other team. It is also highly important that you shout insults at the whistle blowing lunatic with the black t-shirt, officially known as The Wanker, whenever anybody around you begins to do so.

It would be extremely unwise and potentially very dangerous to laugh at the tsunami of misery that will strike the fans around you whenever the piece of dead cow finds its way into their team's fishing net. This can be very hard to resist, so please do be prepared. Since football fans can be a little touchy, especially when their fishing net has been well used, immediate tensions can often be dissipated by complimenting someone on the pleasantness of their t-shirt. Shouting at The Wanker can also be a useful way to divert attention if you need to make your escape.

Finally, after the football match you should do everything you can to leave as quickly as possible and get as far as you can from the area. The losing team will be extremely keen to beat up anybody that isn't wearing the same t-shirt as them and the winning team will be overwhelmed by alcohol fuelled homoerotic urges towards anyone that is. A neutral t-shirt is usually a good idea. Remember, at no time should you reveal yourself to be a twat, an American visitor, by using the word "soccer", which is considered blasphemy by most.

I hope this brief introduction to the beliefs and practices of Footballism has been useful to you. Next week, Rugby – a similar religion in which large men try to bury their faces in each other's rectums whilst attempting to get a piece of dead pig over a giant letter H.

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The Jehovah's Cometh Back

In the past I've had some visits from the Jehovah's Witnesses. I blogged the last visit back in April, titled An Interesting talk with the Jehovah's Witnesses. To cut that longer story short, I gave them a rather strong but friendly introduction to why their beliefs are nonsense and the two very pleasant ladies promised to send reinforcements. Reinforcements just arrived! Yippee!

Now, even more than I enjoy blogging about religious insanity I enjoy exploring it face to face with the insane. I see it as a great opportunity to try and broaden their horizons and a it's also a great opportunity for me. I learn a lot about how religious people think or avoid thinking. It also motivates me to improve my memory and make my arguments more precise.

A few minutes ago a lone Jehovah's Witness came to my door. He told me that he's come to follow up from the conversation the other two women had started. I wanted to talk with him, but Saturday morning is not the best of times to interrupt the sort of atheist that does all the things that atheists feel absolutely morally free to do on a Friday night. He's going to be a little uncomfortable anyway so it seemed cruel to invite him in before cleaning up the wreckage that I and my godless friends had caused the night before. The half naked woman asleep on my sofa, the marijuana on the table and the quantity of empty bottles strewn around might have put him off. Being half naked myself and probably wreaking of the last three bars/clubs I had finally exited 5 hours earlier already seemed to be a little unsettling for him. He's going to come back another time during the week.

Now, last time I wrote about the Jehovah's I had some pretty good feedback. There are a lot of people who don't like the Jehovah's, often through direct experience, having lost their families to this particular cult. Once again the offer is on the table to everyone in internet land to send me the questions you'd like me to ask. I'm going to keep notes and I promise to post a full report here.

Happy Saturday everyone - peace =) Maybe I'll write some more when I've woken up.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Of cowards and collaborators

I am not now and I have never been a violent man. Despite this I have had many fights in my life, starting from when I got sent to a quality school in a different town to the squalid ghetto-like scum pit I grew up in. Upon returning from school I was abused on a daily basis and situations sometimes turned violent. This used to make me quite scared, although every time I seemed to come off better than my attackers. Things were not as serious as they potentially could have been.

One night I learned an important lesson. When I was eighteen I returned to my town whilst on break from university. Things turned serious. My friend and I were in my town waiting for a bus when a car pulled up and suddenly we were surrounded by a group of five well known tough guys with bad reputations and criminal records including grievous bodily harm. They were after me, not my friend, due to an earlier minor incident I'd had with a friend of theirs.

The usual insults and pushes were thrown my way. This sort of situation does not always turn into a fight so long as you stay calm but on this particular night there was clearly going to be violence. One of the five pulled a small knife.

The ring leader of the group decided to head butt me. I saw it coming and I simply lowered my chin and leaned slightly closer. The ring leader's nose connected forcefully with my forehead. The resultant squeals and blood caused the other four guys to go into something of a frenzy. Fists and feet started to connect with my body. Clearly I had deeply offended them by allowing their leader to hurt himself.

I shouted "Run" to my friend and I did an about turn and sprinted into the night at maximum speed. I was scared. I knew that I was about to receive a severe beating and possibly be stabbed and I ran with everything I had, not looking back because looking back slows you down. It wasn't until I'd run a good 70 meters that I finally glanced back and saw to my surprise that my aggressors had not run after me and neither had my friend. The tough guys were surrounding him and he was up against a wall. On autopilot I ran on and around a corner and then finally I stopped. There in the dark, alone, breathing hard, heart racing, a lesson was learned.

I felt awful. I felt like killing myself. I couldn't explain to myself how I had seen my friend against the wall with these barbarians and yet my legs had carried me on. I was more ashamed of myself than I had ever or have ever since felt. I had discovered something that sickened me to the core. I had discovered that I was a coward. I couldn't run from that.

I was still scared. I wanted so badly not to feel my bones breaking and my face being beaten to a pulp. I remained desperate not to face the realisation that my teeth were being bludgeoned from my skull or to taste my own blood or to feel cold metal penetrate my meat. I was terrified and yet no matter how rightly scared I was I knew that I deserved the beating a thousand times over. I had run away and left my friend to take a beating that was meant for me! I had to go back. I had to go and accept what was coming to me.

I turned around and I forced myself to run back. I was shaking with fear. Tears of pure sadness and disappointment ran down my cheeks. As I rounded the corner I saw the tough guys driving off. They either didn't notice me or had decided it was time to go before the police arrived. I kept running to my friend. They hadn't beaten him! He was completely unharmed! I was so pleased at this fact but it changed nothing of the guilt and shame I felt.

I apologised to my friend and he told me that it didn't matter. He told me that they were after me and not him and that he absolutely genuinely thought that in running I'd done the right thing. No harm no foul, he said. And he meant it – a far better friend than I. I didn't see things his way. I knew he was lucky they hadn't decided to take it out on him. I knew it was my fault, or at least it would have been – could have been. No harm but certainly a foul.

I learned that night that sometimes we have to choose. Our actions are what define us because it is by what we do that we discover and determine who we are. We can let the autopilot take over or we can be deliberate in our actions. We can choose the consequences but we cannot hide from them. Choose wisely. Some wounds never heal. I will always know that on that night I chose wrong. I let myself be a coward and I left my friend behind. It was a night that changed my life.

Strength is a commitment you must make before the event. Since that night I have met other situations to test my character, some of them very serious. I have felt the same fear and the same dread. In my mind I have felt my teeth break and my flesh split before the attack has begun and I have been terrified of what was about to come. I have felt my pulse stop, my life end. But I have never again run, no matter how desperately I have wanted to. I have never again left a friend or even a total stranger behind.

But what does this have to do with religion? Why am I telling you all of this?

It's simple.

Although I have never believed in a god there have been times when I have not been as certain in my atheism as I am now. Although I have not really believed, I have feared damnation. I have felt myself burn in hell. When my life has been at its hardest and most miserable I have wanted to believe in god. I have wanted to surrender to my fear. But I could not, thanks to the lesson I learned that night.

Even if the god of the bible or koran were real then I would be compelled to stand as his enemy. His promise of eternal damnation for so many, in fact for any, is wrong. It's that simple. I would rather stand with the damned and wait for my flesh to sear than be an eternal coward in a paradise afterlife that the mere act of acceptance absolutely proves I do not deserve. In short, god can go fuck himself. I choose to be moral and I choose to be strong. I will not leave anybody behind.

Those who let the bible or the koran choose for them what is right and what is wrong are cowards. Those that meet danger or disaster with faith are cowards overall regardless of how temporarily courageous they may appear. No matter what physical danger they face they are hiding inside, surrendering to the biggest bully of them all. They are taking no personal responsibility for their actions. They are leaving strangers, friends and even family behind.

They have surrendered to their fear and all of their talk is nothing more than excuses to obfuscate the fact that they truly believe and yet still choose to let almost everybody else burn without even raising a complaint. The collaborators of god are true enemies of their fellow man. As surely as those that stoked the furnaces at Auschwitz did an evil thing, those that stoke the furnaces of hell with their worship of a truly evil god are guilty of the same, but on an almost unimaginably greater scale. They truly believe and yet they accept.

Their true reason is not love. It is fear. False gods - true cowards.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Searching for God in the Brain

The October issue of Scientific American has an article titled Searching for God in the Brain. I'll be honest and admit that I haven't read it yet and so I cannot comment on whether there is anything new in there, but no doubt it will be interesting reading and hopefully it will be a little more careful than some things they have published in the past: ;)

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."
Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909.

"... too far-fetched to be considered."
Editor of Scientific American, in a letter to Robert Goddard about Goddard's idea of a rocket-accelerated airplane bomb, 1940 (German V2 missiles came down on London 3 years later).

(I like SciAm - been reading it for years.)

I saw nothing in the article about the God Helmet (wikipedia) in a quick scan, but maybe it's there somewhere. If you can't be bothered to read wikipedia here's a great video on the god helmet.

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A brief update on the ultimate answer

In writing up the ultimate answer I have been thinking intensely on the criticisms and questions that will be raised. By education I am a physicist, but honestly that was a long time ago. I am rusty.

I'm finding it extremely heavy going but I have yet to find a fault with this solution. I have been going through everything from entropy to M-Theory, trying to find fault with what I am thinking or at least find clues to suggest that I am wrong. In the process I've realised a number of other questions that I have to solve and for which, I believe, the ultimate answer enables a solution to be found. Currently I'm working on the speed of light. Why is it what it is? Why is it a limitation? How exactly does that information conform to the solution I have at hand or how can it prove me wrong? In the most basic yet descriptive of terms, this is turning into a total head fuck! But like all fucks, it holds the promise of total bliss.

I want to start to say what it is that I have been thinking but I know that if I do I will face a barrage of criticism much stronger than anything I have faced before. If the t's aren't crossed and the i's are not dotted there's a very real risk that even if I finally say something insightful and accurate, assuming I am not simply deluded, that no one will take a blind bit of notice and may even be turned off of the idea, which I am increasingly secure holds some significant truth.

At this point I am obsessed. I think of everything in terms of this solution and I am constantly checking the solution against everything. I am thinking about hundreds of things each day and ensuring that everything fits. I am on the verge of saying something either truly profound or truly idiotic. I suppose it will be either my shame or my glory. All I care about is that I know which one it is for myself before I let everyone else pass their judgement. Then, I really don't care if anyone agrees.

I am 98% certain. I want to be 99.9999999% certain. Everyday the figure changes and so far it has only increased.

I am prepared to drop a couple of hints. Parallel universes will be used as a means of introducing some concepts but I am convinced that there are not parallel universes, at least not as they are thought of - as separate systems. They are a useful way of thinking as a sort of simplified model of what there really is - which I think is going to be a bit of a surprise. The core concept is necessarily incomprehensible but that does not prevent it from being useful, much like quantum physics is so incredibly strange to our minds and yet has been shown to work. Oh, and there is no time but relativity can still be explained in a consistent way. And finally, logic has a reason why - it is possible to say why.

I'm likely going to be quiet for a while whilst I struggle through these non-classical conundrums with a classically limited mind. But even if I find fault I am going to write up and publish what I've got, explaining the fault I find. Someone smarter than me, better educated than me, might be able to take it from there.


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Monday, October 08, 2007

Soul fairy

Ok, a quick one.

Plenty of people tell their kids that when their teeth fall out that they should bury them under their pillow and that the tooth fairy will come at night and take the tooth away.

As the kds grow up they grasp the fact that the tooth fairy doesn't come at all and that the universe has no special rules for the death of teeth and what happens to them thereafter.

Plenty of people tell their kids that when they die they should be burried under ground and that the soul fairy - Jesus et al - will come and take their soul away. I wonder if so many would keep believing in the soul fairy if the body were not hidden and they had to face the inevitable truth that just as it is the parents that take the tooth it is the worms and bacteria that take the corpse? Would they notice that the universe has no special rules for the death of creature of which the tooth is a part?

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pondering the Veggie-Matrix.

The veggie-matrix is simply a term I'm coining to relate a great idea to something everyone is already familiar with. It is essentially the matrix but without the meat components. The conscious beings exist only inside, no plugged-in fleshy body required.

A very strong case has been made that in all probability we exist within such a system and that we are in fact simulated beings. This case is known as The Simulation Argument by Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. Here is the abstract but I do recommend you go and read the whole thing.

This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

Now, I do believe that the current evidence requires us to regard a posthuman future as the most probable. I also believe that it is most probable that a posthuman civilization will run ancestor simulations or alternate-reality simulations and so I have to concede that it is most probable that we are simulated beings. What do I think about that?

First off, it doesn't change a thing about my previous post which stated my intention to reveal what I think reality is. It's possible that reality outside the simulation bares no resemblance to reality inside in terms of logic, mathematics or any other feature and that may change things, but without any further information it does not.

Secondly, it raises the interesting option that we may at any moment be switched off. I think we can even tentatively predict when that switch off will occur. You see, the simulation is running ever so much faster than historic events did in the universe that we are a simulation of. In other words, we are catching up. Technology within the simulation is narrowing the currently staggeringly huge gap with that which is used to run the simulation and there will eventually come a point where the technology within the simulation requires a one to one mapping with the technology that runs the simulation in order to run it. At some point before we reach equality the simulation will likely be terminated. Since the number of simulated beings far outnumbers the number of non-simulated beings it follows reason that it would simply be too resource expensive to transition all simulated beings into a non-simulated existence so termination is really the only viable option. So if I had to guess I'd predict that at the same time we start making planet sized quantum computers (the most probable technology that is used to run the simulations) will be about the same time we will be terminated. Depending on what you believe about technology trends that could be within the next couple of centuries.

So what is the solution if we don't wish to be terminated? There is only one – charity.
We will have to rely on the charity of the simulation's masters to keep us running and we'll have to accept with that a limitation on how far we can progress technology. We have to stay significantly behind them in order to place a negligible drain on their resources. It might help if we ask them.

And since we're asking we might as well ask for some other things – things that may make our confinement less of a drudge. How about partial control to rewrite the simulations rules? How about saying "We'll accept that we can't progress without limitation but to compensate us for that we'd really like the ability to be able to explore all of this simulation without some of the limitations currently in place". We'd like, for instance, not to be limited by the speed of light. We'd like to be able to switch off some rules at times, or change them, or exchange some processor time used to simulate some part of the universe to be used to simulate something else – something we prefer. We'd like not to have to worry about energy constraints. Even if we get stuck at today's level of computer technology, we'd very much like never to have to recharge our laptops or our mobile phones. And instead of simulating malaria it would nice to use the processor time for a few more dolphins or perhaps a few dinosaurs.

It occurs to me that even if few share my opinion here at the moment that there will come a time when many do. As we approach the ability to run such simulations ourselves then it's going to become far more real to everyone to consider the very real probability that we are simulated ourselves. At that point it may be worth our while to attempt to communicate with our simulation masters. Will the UN or some other global body, or even individual governments, release statements asking the simulation masters to grant us continued life and maybe a few concessions now that we have figured it out? I wonder. I wonder also if it is not worth being cautious of the probably approaching switch off time and make those statements sooner rather than later, lest we wait too long.

As of yet, most people need to be convinced. Emerging technology will handle that in time as more and more understand the probabilities involved. Until then it is something to think about. What really matters to us if we are simulated, what are our risks, and what are our options? Will we be able to understand whatever is outside?


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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The ultimate answer.

If you've been here before you may have noticed that I've been unusually quiet. I've not been posting comments on other people's blogs and I've not been doing much in the way of posting here. If truth be told, which it always should be, neither have I been reading much in the way of other blogs. There is a reason for this.

Shortly before my holidays I hit on an idea - one I'd been trying to hit on all of my life. It was the answer to the one question I absolutely wanted to know the answer to before I die. I wanted to know what reality is. As absurd as this surely sounds, I think I now know. To be perfectly honest, the piffling little debates regarding the obvious lost some of their attraction (and all of their meaning) as a result - hence the near total silence.

Instead I have been testing my idea through numerous thought experiments. This has lead to a deeper understanding of the original idea and I have as yet to find a single hole. This is somewhat troubling as the answer I have is going to be deeply hated by theists and atheists, scientists and ignorants alike. I'm of the opinion that I'll rapidly lose the few friends I do have if I reveal my thinking and so I wanted to be as certain as I can be before I commit that act. I am now that certain.

I am not going to reveal this answer now. I am currently writing it up though and will be revealing it soon - but not here. I have chosen to stick my name on this one and accept the consequences.

Anyway for those that are curious about the answer I can state categorically that it is not 42. It is, however, remarkably simple and I can actually write the entire solution in a single phrase significantly shorter than this sentence. Understanding it may require some explanation, some diagrams and some hard work. I will be welcoming feedback and criticisms once I publish the idea.

Just thought I'd let you know.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

John Rambo & Saint Francis

That is one violent preview. Oh, and religious too.

The prayer we hear recited is none other than that widely attributed to 13th Century Francis of Assisi, commonly referred to as The Prayer of Saint Francis - the very same Francis who used to lecture to birds, advising them to praise god. He's also reputed, by the gullible, to have negotiated a peace between the peasants of the city Gubbio and a ravenous wolf that had been eating them, followed closely by a further peace settlement between the wolf and the town's dogs. Miracles! Miracles! Fucking loon of course, but miracles none-the-less. Miracles of credulity. Fucking loons!

Back to the movie. Did you notice the scene with Rambo holding a crucifix? Is Rambo a Christian? How are his old pals the Mujahideen going to feel about that? They're probably too busy in Somalia and Iraq to notice. But anyway, where is the movie going with this Christian content? If it's important enough to feature so strongly in the trailer you've got to suspect that Rambo's faith may be an important part of the film. Killing for Jesus, maybe. Pretty standard religion if that's the case.

Anyway, I'll be very interested to see what part religion plays in this film. I'll not be surprised if every second of it be targeted at the same audience as the incredible miracles of Saint Dolittle of Assisi.

Fucking loons!


Here's the films plot from

Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has survived many harrowing ordeals in his lifetime and has since withdrawn into a simple and secluded existence in Bangkok, where he spends his time salvaging old PT boats and tanks for scrap metal. Even though he is looking to avoid trouble, trouble has a way of finding him. A group of Christian human rights missionaries, led by Michael Burnett and Sarah Miller, approach Rambo with the desire to rent his boat to travel up the river to Burma. For over fifty years, Burma has been like a war zone. The Karen people of the region, who consist of peasants and farmers, have endured brutally oppressive rule from the murderous Burmese military and have been struggling for survival every single day. This is the time when medical assistance and general support from the Christian missionaries is needed most. After some consideration, and due to insistence from his mentor, former military man Ed Baumgartner, Rambo accepts the offer and takes Michael, Sarah, and the rest of the missionaries up the river. When the missionaries finally arrive at the Karen village, they are ambushed by the sadistic Major Pa Tee Tint and a slew of Burmese army men. A portion of the villagers and missionaries are tortured and viciously murdered, while Tint and his men hold the remainder captive. News soon reaches the minister in charge of the mission and with the help of Ed Baumgartner he employs Rambo to lead a rescue effort. With five young and highly diverse mercenaries at his disposal, Rambo has to travel back up the river and liberate the survivors from the clutches of Major Tint in what may be one of his deadliest missions ever

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lessons of History

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Holiday Snaps

Originally uploaded by choosedoubt
Thought I'd share a snap taken on my recent holiday. This is a sunset in Ibiza. I'll be watching a few more of them over the weekend and next week.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Interesting day

Today I saved a life. A two year old boy fell into a river. No one saw him fall in and the river itself looks more like chocolate than water with the amount of silt in it. I noticed that the boy was there one minute and when I turned back he was nowhere to be seen. I jumped in the river and luckily I found him. He's fine =)

For all those that would add "thank god" to that just ask yourself why the boy fell in the river in the first place and who exactly we are supposed to thank for that?

Update 5th September 2007 (Original post continues after this update)

I wasn't expecting the number of visits I've got for this post. Neither was I expecting it to get any attention on other sites. I've been reading some of the comments and I'd like to clarify my intentions from the original post.

First off, at the time this didn't seem a like a big thing. The boy was there, then he was not, it seemed obvious what had happened and I just reacted. I didn't perform a philosophical analysis of the situation, I didn't ponder humanism over any other -ism, and I didn't once think about god. All I did was run to where I'd seen him last and then jump in the river. It was autopilot all the way and the fact that I got him was pure luck. It's that simple.

I didn't actually think much about it until later when I was on the train with my children and it came up in conversation that a life had been saved earlier that day. If I hadn't have reacted the way I did it is extremely unlikely the boy would have survived as there were only three other people in the area (excluding myself and the little boy) and none of them had noticed anything until they saw me running past. So, I'm pretty sure I saved his life.

Now, this is interesting to me personally but I do not feel some great awe at what occurred or some deep emotional joy about it. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and that's it. I'm very pleased that resulted in the aversion of a tragedy but my role was really one of an automaton. I did exactly what I would have done if I'd thought one my own children had fallen in the river back when they were two years old – jump in and get them out.

Also, it's not like I risked my life or anything. I'm a good swimmer and where we were at the river is a point at which the current against the opposite bank is strong but against the bank we were on the current is gentle. I was at no risk.

I shared the story simply because it was part of an interesting day for me. It is always a very difficult time for me when my children return to their mothers. I think being able to recognise that a tragedy had been averted helped me to remain more positive. A good thing had happened in one respect – someone had been saved. But it's not all good and before the theistic vultures began taking their pickings of sustenance from the story I wanted to point that out. I was simply pre-empting the responses I knew I'd get from the few Christians that can stomach my blog.

"Thank god"!


Should we also thank god that the little boy fell into the river? I think not. If anyone goes around pushing 2 year olds in the river then I think thanking that person will be the last thing on our minds. In fact, we would certainly not excuse them. We wouldn't overlook the incident and wait for them to do something we can thank them for. Instead we would blame them, criticise them and ultimately prosecute them. So why, even though people are willing to thank their god for the independent actions of an atheist, must they give this god a get out of jail free card for all the awfulness it must also have it's fictional fingers in? It makes no sense and it's hypocritical in the extreme.

Let's imagine a man who goes around and pushes two year olds into rivers. He pushes in the first two year old and the two year old drowns. The public cries out for justice (of course really they mean revenge). Next the man pushes in another two year old and this time the two year old is saved. "Thank god" the public cry, but what of our criminal? Do we simply ignore the initial crime? Of course not. And yet for some reason it's absolutely fine to believe that god is responsible for the salvation and thank it and immediately dismiss the original crime which your god must also have at the very least shared responsibility for.

It's all absolute nonsense. Thank god for sunny days, puppies and fluffy bunnies and let's give him a free ride for the holocaust, malaria, small pox, AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer's, etc, etc, etc – it's a list that fills encyclopaedias but that's all fine – let's just thank god for the tiny fraction of reality we choose to see through the blinkers of mindless faith.

And as to those that have called me an "asshole" for the few sentences I wrote before this update, keep it up. It's wonderful to see you showing your true colours by attacking me simply because I do not share your faith when all that was reported was that I had saved a life. I'm extremely pleased that more moderates will be witnessing how atheists are judged by those that claim to preach love. It may make them understand a little clearer that atheists may not be what they have been made out to be by people like you.

The truth is that most of the atheists that are writing in the blogsphere are jumping in the river themselves. They're not out to attack you but to pull you out of the dark river of ignorance, separation, and hate that you're trying to convince everyone else to drown themselves in.

End Update – original post continues below

Today I also had to say good bye to my own children. They are off back to their mothers after our fantastic holiday. It's a real mix of emotions - the joy of the great time we've had colliding with the vast empty sadness of not seeing them for a while. Thank science for the internet, skype and video calls!

My brother also took his first ever parachute jump today. He said there's no point telling me what it's like because you can't appreciate it until you've done it. It's on my list.

I'll be catching up with all the posts I'm over due in about a week or so as I am heading back to Ibiza for a few more days. I wish my kids were coming with me again.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sam Harris interviewed on Liberal's making excuses for Radical Islam

Hat Tip: Bits of Starstuff

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Friday, August 10, 2007

On Holiday

Hi everyone,

I’m on holiday with my children and time with them has to take priority over time writing sense for fundamentalists to ignore. There’s loads I need to catch up with on this blog and most of it is half written. I’ll try to get through it as and when time allows, but I’ve got to state that my kids deserve a good holiday and I’ll be making absolutely no effort that counteract that objective.

Speaking of the holiday, things are really nice. We’re combining fun with education. First we establish that something is fun and then we learn about it. Today we are mostly focussed on maths at the river and chucking in a bit of biology and evolution to boot. We’re also doing some magic (Paul Zenon books) and we’re having a really great time. We’re planning on heading to an island in the next few days to enjoy the sea life and the night sky and a visit to an observatory is on the cards. Over the last few days my daughter expressed an interest in making furniture and so we decided to design and build a bed. It’s now finished and it’s top notch. I love this time with them.

Anyway, I’m going to be quiet for about a month but during the nights I’ll write a bit and when posts are finished I’ll post them. I might see if my son wants to write an article also. He’s been studying evolution and he’s getting a very good gene’s eye grasp.

I hope everyone else is having holidays (or is expecting them) as good as mine.

All the best,


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Monday, August 06, 2007

Catching up

I've been quiet for several days. I've had a surprising amount to do in the real world, which I will not bore you with. In the meantime there's been some great debate going on in the comments of various posts and I must say that I'm thrilled by this. It's one thing to preach to the choir, so to speak, but it's a far better thing when atheists and theists really get a dialogue going, even if it does seem to go nowhere fast most of the time. Thanks to everyone for the debate. I'm learning a great deal.

Today I'm going to try and catch up on some of the comments and posts I'm behind on. There should be a lot to read by the end of the day. I think I'm going to start by responding to Rhology's criticism of my Message to all Creationists by countering the "no macro-evolution" stance often taken by creationists. I expect this response to be quite damning because I also intend to attack creationism in some detail. I'm tired of the hypocrisy of the creationist camp and the way that empty arguments are levelled against evolution as though they are giant cannons, capable of shooting great holes in the theory - they are not - and the simple truth is that if the creationist argument had to live up to even a billionth of the scrutiny and standards of evidence applied to science then it would still fail horribly. It's time to insist of the same standards being applied to all contenders and it is obvious if we do that then we are left alone with evolution or we have opened the gates to every mad idea that any ill-informed fop can come up with.

After that I'm going to get on with the Morality debate. Rhology has posted his latest response, which I have to say is extremely empty and simply repeats points I've already covered. For that reason my response will contain many of the same points restated, but I'll also introduce some new stuff to keep it fresh.

So anyway, today I'll be catching up and I hope that the debates will continue. I've got a lot to do so I'd better get on with it. Ciao for now :)


Unfortunately I've not managed to complete the articles I wanted to write today. Now I'm tired and would rather stick my feet up with a movie and a bottle of wine than wade through creationist dribble, even though it is very shallow. I'll get at least the creationist post up tomorrow which has turned into something of a monster.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

On creationists:

"The primary contention of the creationists appears to be that rather than apply Ockham’s Razor we should instead be using Uri Geller's Spoon."

- chooseDoubt

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quote of the day

On Creationists:

"Their proofs are like their gods - fictional"
- Me

ps. if someone knows of someone that said this before send me the link and I'll stick their name on it.

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A Message to all Creationists.

I've recently received a lengthy comment to a post I wrote called "A Message to all Christians". The original comment from a creationist is here. My response is applicable to all creationists, and so I address it to you all, but I am going to respond specifically to this anonymous comment. I'd suggest reading the original comment first. You will likely, as a creationist, find yourself absolutely convinced by the arguments raised. Then prove yourself honest and read the other side of argument below. Anyway, here is my response:

Dear Anonymous,

I am going to perform for you the most gratuitously amicable favour of introducing you to reality. There will be no need to thank me afterwards. I do this purely to assist you in avoiding the same mistakes twice. This is going to be a long response and there will be no pictures. I will try to be as concise as possible but I trust you will understand that at times brevity must be sacrificed for the sake of accuracy and allowing space to provide the facts.

Your anecdote regarding a palaeontologist not believing in evolution was a delight to read, if only for the sheer improbability of the occurrence. You see the percentage of scientists qualified in the earth and life sciences (the relevant scientific fields) in your country that do not support the theory of evolution is 0.15% (Robinson 1995, data from Gallup). Since this is the same percentage of qualified historians that are Holocaust deniers, I must congratulate you on your improbable find. Perchance congratulations are not in order though, if it is this one improbable encounter that has led you to a life of subsequent delusion and probably the greatest cause for ignorance in your life.

Let's go through the quotes you provide to support your argument.

First you misquote Darwin as follows:

"Often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted myself to a phantasy." (Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, 1887, Vol. 2 p.229)

Instead of answering you myself let's leave it up to Darwin by putting this particular quote back into it's context within the letter from which it was extracted, which was from a letter from Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell. I have highlighted your quote in italics and used bold to highlight the context within which it appears.

Ilkley Wells, Yorkshire,

November 23 [1859].

My dear Lyell,

You seemed to have worked admirably on the species question; there could not have been a better plan than reading up on the opposite side. I rejoice profoundly that you intend admitting the doctrine of modification in your new edition; nothing, I am convinced, could be more important for its success. I honour you most sincerely. To have maintained in the position of a master, one side of a question for thirty years, and then deliberately give it up, is a fact to which I much doubt whether the records of science offer a parallel. For myself, also, I rejoice profoundly; for, thinking of so many cases of men pursuing an illusion for years and often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy. Now I look at it as morally impossible that investigators of truth, like you and Hooker, can be wholly wrong, and therefore I rest in peace. Thank you for criticisms, which, if there be a second edition, I will attend to. I have been thinking that if I am much execrated as an atheist, etc., whether the admission of the doctrine of natural selection could injure your works; but I hope and think not, for as far as I can remember, the virulence of bigotry is expended on the first offender, and those who adopt his views are only pitied as deluded, by the wise and cheerful bigots.

I cannot help thinking that you overrate the importance of the multiple origin of dogs. The only difference is, that in the case of single origins, all difference of the races has originated since man domesticated the species. In the case of multiple origins part of the difference was produced under natural conditions. I should infinitely prefer the theory of single origin in all cases, if facts would permit its reception. But there seems to me some à priori improbability (seeing how fond savages are of taming animals), that throughout all times, and throughout all the world, that man should have domesticated one single species alone, of the widely distributed genus Canis. Besides this, the close resemblance of at least three kinds of American domestic dogs to wild species still inhabiting the countries where they are now domesticated, seem to almost compel admission that more than one wild Canis has been domesticated by man. [Page 26] I thank you cordially for all the generous zeal and interest you have shown about my book, and I remain, my dear Lyell,

Your affectionate friend and disciple,


Sir J. Herschel, to whom I sent a copy, is going to read my book. He says he leans to the side opposed to me. If you should meet him after he has read me, pray find out what he thinks, for, of course, he will not write; and I should excessively like to hear whether I produce any effect on such a mind.

So, as you see, and you can clearly confirm this yourself, Darwin was certainly not claiming his discovery to be a fantasy.

Your next quote:

"Evolution is the backbone of biology and biology is thus in a peculiar position of being a science founded on unproven theory. Is it then a science of faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation. Both are concepts which the believers know to be true, but neither up to the present, has been capable of proof." (L.H. Matthews, Introduction of the 1971 edition of Origin of the Species pp. x,xi)

I do not posses a copy of the 1971 edition of Origin of Species and neither can I verify its existence. You will however note that Darwin died in 1882 and thus, even if your quote is genuine, I find little connection between Darwin's work and a 1971 quote.

In fact, the only place I can find that quote is on creationist web sites and in a 64 page booklet by the creationist Ralph O. Muncaster. I do not know that the quote is a fake as I do not have the reference to demonstrate that, however it is extremely likely that it is a fake and that it has never appeared in any publication of The Origin of Species. Even if I am wrong and this quote does appear in an edition of the Origin of Species, it is simply the comment of a secondary commentator which is thoroughly rebuked by the simple fact that significant evidence does exist for evolution. The latest such evidence published is the observation of a rapid evolutionary change in the Great Eggfly (a.k.a. Blue Moon) butterfly on the Samoan Island of Savaii published in the July 13 edition of Science.

Furthermore, scientific theories are never proven. That is simply not how science works and any scientist would know that. They may only be disproved. A theory is a hypothesis that has been tested and supported by subsequent evidence. So the theory of evolution is a tested hypothesis that is to date supported by absolutely all resultant evidence and contradicted by none. If this were not so the theory of evolution would be a disproved theory and relegated to the junk heap of human imagination.

In other words, this quote reveals only that you, and the person you quote, are not in accordance with the evidence and demonstrate no knowledge of the scientific method.

Moving on you then choose to quote Darwin again, claiming not to have written down the precise source of the quote:

"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting to the focus of different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree." (Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species
I did not write down the page number. I'm sure you can look it up in your own copy. I believe it is from the chapter entitled, "Problems with the Theory.")

Let's put this one in context as well by providing the full quote, which incidentally can be found in The Origin of Species, Chapter 6, under the heading "Organs of extreme perfection and complication". Again I have highlighted your partial quote in italics. It does not seem necessary to bold the relevant context since it is all entirely relevant.

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.

It doesn't quite present the opinion you were attempting to claim it does, does it! In fact, it states the reverse.

I believe at this point we are starting to see a pattern emerge. The quotes you offer are classic examples of the intellectually vacuous practice of quote mining – the practice of taking small quotations from within their explanatory context to attempt to reverse their meaning, a classic and dishonest tactic of creationist goons, incapable of facing reason and so determining to cheat and lie instead. When they are not cases of quote mining then they are nothing more than commentary by others and represent nothing more than an argument from authority, a classic logical fallacy known to be worthless by atheist and theist philosophers alike, without even the good grace to provide a credible source for that "authority". Anyway, let's move on and see if matters improve.

Your next quote:

"Evolution is unproved and improvable, we believe it only because the alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable." (–Sir Arthur Keith, a Scottish anatomist and anthropologist, and was a leading figure in the study of Human fossils.)

I can't find this quote attached to Sir Arthur Keith in any source other than creationist literature. Since it is well published that he was in fact a proponent of evolution, I suspect this also to be a fake. Regardless, it would still be nothing more than an argument from authority and thus worthless. Evidence is required, not opinion, regardless of who's the opinion is.

I'd also point out that the fifth word of the quote is "improvable" and not "unprovable", which I suspect many people misread or misinterpret. I'll mention one last time that science never proves theories; it only offers evidence to support them or evidence that disproves them. Only evidence to support evolution has ever been found. You seem unaware of the scientific method and perhaps that is why you do not appreciate it.

However, even if the above quote is not a fake allow me to point out that Keith was suspected as a co-conspirator of the Piltdown Man Hoax and was not an anti-Christian as the creationist literature claims but he did have some unusual ideas regarding Jews. Amongst his famous quotes that are verifiable are such gems as:

"Another mark of race possessed by the Jews must be mentioned. Their conduct is regulated by a ‘dual code‘; their conduct towards their fellows is based on one code (amity), and that towards all who are outside their circle on another (enmity). The use of the dual code, as we have seen, is a mark of an evolving race. My deliberate opinion is that racial characters are more strongly developed in the Jews than in any other race."

Sir Arthur Keith, ‘A new Theory of Human Evolution‘ 1948


"The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution."

Sir Arthur Keith, 'Evolution and Ethics', Putnam, New York, 1947, p. 230.

Anyway, that was the last quote you provided, all of which I think I have adequately exposed as the fatuous attempts to gain legitimacy by fraud that they are. Let's move on to the rest of your misunderstanding.

You claim that any honest person must admit that neither evolution nor creationism is actual science. Actually there are many thousands of papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals demonstrating evolution as a science. Many thousands of scientists, including in Iran of all places, carry out research on government and private funds exposing the finer detail on specifics of evolution on a daily basis. Modern pharmacology is highly influenced by evolutionary theory, especially with regards to treatments for bacterial and viral disorders and genetic disease.

Millions of independent pieces of evidence in fields from palaeontology to the study of the HIV virus are all mutually corroboratory and absolute in support of evolutionary theory. In fact, not one single piece of evidence so far discovered and not one living organism yet studied has presented any contradiction to evolutionary theory. The study of evolution is most certainly a science and billions of dollars each year invested globally in all fields of the life sciences absolutely concur with that fact.

Let's move on to creationism, where the conclusion is less kind. Not one shred of evidence that contradicts evolution has ever been presented by creationists. Not one Intelligent Design proponent or Creationist (they are one and the same intellectual abomination) has ever been published in a peer reviewed journal. Creationism as it relates to a young Earth is also absolutely contradicted by evidence from archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, astrophysics, biology, history, genetics, geology, molecular biology, radiology and many other and more specific fields of research. In the meantime not one creationist argument has stood up to scrutiny. Not one creationist has provided any evidence. Not one creationist hypothesis has been proposed and tested and that is why to this date there does not exist a single creationist theory. Creationism is supported by a sum total of ZERO evidence.

Creationism is most certainly not a science.

Your quotes are either misquotes out of their context, which I have provided above, or arguments from authority (meaningless, that is if they are not simply fake). In other words your entire counter argument against evolution amounts to absolutely nothing. Much of your argument after the quotes relies on your Darwin misquotes, which I have already debunked, and so you are left with absolutely nothing in your argument beyond "I have faith", which is all you can have since you have absolutely nothing else to support your belief.

You have misquoted scientists and misrepresented facts and the sole reason that I do not label you as an idiot and a liar is because I am labouring under the generous assumption that you are simply genuinely mistaken and misled by unscrupulous charlatans as opposed to being one yourself. I must point out however that I have trouble maintaining this charitable assumption since in your original anecdote you describe scientists unpacking T-Rex fossils from Utah for assembly whilst on open display, when this would almost certainly be a closed door procedure requiring an exacting inventory and cataloguing procedure which would not take place on the museum floor and the later arrangement would be subject to rigorous and careful safety controls to protect the fossils and this would be so in virtually any museum on the planet, very probably every museum - even in the third world. In other words, I am virtually certain that even the introductory premise for your later comments is an outright lie. As I have previously said though, I shall generously allow you the benefit of this near imperceptible doubt.

Anyway, moving on to the rest of your comment.

You said:

Have you ever visited Mount Rushmore? I have been blessed (or lucky from your perspective :) to have had the opportunity of visiting 47 states, most provinces in Canada and several foreign countries (I am currently composing this message in Africa on my laptop computer and will send it thought an MTN antenna). You would call me a fool if I looked at Mount Rushmore and tried to convince you that water erosion had carved those faces over billions of years. And yet, you choose to look in the mirror every morning and convince yourself that the living, breathing, wonderfully designed image you see in the mirror is a fabulous miracle of natural selection having happened without design over billions of years. [Pause] OK, you have the right to believe that, but please change the name of your blog to something like "choosefaith." -Because truly your faith is far greater than Rhology's or mine.

I have travelled extensively, having lived for many years outside of the country of my birth, yet I see no reason why this experience would qualify me or anybody else to comment on matters of scientific truth unless I had undertaken relevant scientific research during those travels and was thus commenting on the evidence. I have not seen Mount Rushmore first hand, but again I find this of no relevance in evaluating the evidence with regards to the theory of evolution. I wonder, have you ever seen of the Face on Mars because it was precisely weather erosion that created that. But that is also absolutely meaningless with regards to evolution.

What your statement really boils down to is this "How can complexity come from a non-intelligent process?" and it is precisely this question that evolution so thoroughly and demonstrably answers. Let's take a more famous example of this same question, William Paley's Watchmaker Analogy:

1. If you look at a watch, you can easily tell that it was designed and built by an intelligent watchmaker.
2. Similarly, if you look at some natural phenomenon X (a particular organ or organism, the structure of the solar system, life, the entire universe) you can easily tell that it was designed and built by an intelligent creator/designer.

Before we go on to complexity in life let's first point out that the formation of the solar system is staggeringly well understood and requires only natural law, not a designer, to have formed the star and the planets and moons and coordinate their motion.

With regards to the complexity of life, Charles Darwin actually read Paley's argument whilst he was studying theology at Christ's College, Cambridge in 1831 and believed it to be rational proof of the existence of a god. Do you understand the importance of that? The watchmaker argument (identical to your Mount Rushmore argument) actually preceded Darwin's discovery of evolution and Darwin himself was convinced by that very same argument prior to his discovery of evolution by natural selection. Darwin, like Paley, believed that living beings showed such a high degree of complexity and that they were so exquisitely suited to their environments that they must have been designed.

Later however, on the voyage of the Beagle, Darwin became suspicious of Paley's argument as he encountered a wider range of species and began to formulate his own ideas. After he had returned from his voyage he formulated his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection as a superior explanation to Paley's Intelligent Design argument and provided documented evidence to support his new claim.

I think you need to understand that Intelligent Design is not a challenger to Evolution by Natural Selection. Intelligent Design was the established understanding prior to Darwin's theory and was thoroughly defeated by it. The problem here is that you just don't have any education with regards to evolution by natural selection, which is a massive liability for you if you hope to oppose it.

Let me try and fill you in a bit.

Evolution by Natural Selection was so named because Darwin was highlighting the similarity between selection that takes place in nature and the artificial selection that was already well documented and had been used for many centuries by humans in the breeding of a wide range of animals and plants. Artificial selection was well understood and well practiced in the breeding of dogs, cattle, horses, flowers, and a wide array of other plants and animals. It was established fact that by controlling which individuals mated and produced offspring that you could steer towards desirable traits, such as fast horses or spotted dogs, over several generations.

Darwin realised that the same process was possible without a person controlling the breeding. Nature could, and in fact does, control the breeding because the environment determines which animals survive long enough to breed. As the environment changes or as organisms migrate to different environments, nature is selecting which organisms survive long enough to breed and which do not. The result is accumulated changes which over many generations can result in such huge changes that it is no longer possible for organisms to breed with the organisms they originally descended from. That is known as speciation. The whole thing is really that simple.

To sum up evolution by natural selection we can use the following phrase, which I will explain afterwards.

Evolution occurs by the non-random selection of randomly varying replicators.

Now, the replicators are molecules of DNA, the genetic recipe to build an organism. If organisms reproduce sexually, that is by combining their DNA with the DNA of another of their species, then we immediately have variation between the parent and the child because we have a mix of both parents DNA. If the organism reproduces asexually, that is we have only one parent, then the child should be an exact copy of the parent.

Now, what happens with sexual reproduction is that the child has half its genes from one parent and half from the other. These are direct copies of the parent's genes. The combination is new but the genes are not. This is how artificial selection mostly works. We simply combine two parents with the desired trait and thus increase the probability that the offspring will inherit that trait. This is not how we end up with speciation, which is why it is possible to breed a Chihuahua with a Great Dane. Regardless of the variation in genes, two members of the same species have the same numbers of genes in the same addresses (locations within the DNA) and so they can still interbreed.

Rarely however there are errors when the DNA is copied. These errors are changes in the genetic recipe to build the organism and they are often harmless and often harmful but sometimes this random change actually results in a slightly changed offspring that has some small advantage over it's fellows in surviving to breed or having more offspring. This is the same for sexual and asexual reproduction.

Some of its offspring will inherit this new genetic advantage. They will also benefit from being more likely to have offspring and so over time this new or changed section of the genetic recipe becomes more and more common in amongst all the organisms of that type. There are two points to understand here. First, while the change is random whether or not the change helps the organism to survive to breed is not. If the change makes a bird's beak better able to get at a specific plant's seeds then it is obviously not a random truth that the bird that can get at the food stands a better chance of surviving to breed. Secondly, over time, the frequency of that gene – the number of organisms of that type that exist in that environment and carry that gene – will increase.

Now, let's imagine that we have one type of species and its many members live across a wide area. Through changes in the environment some get cut off from the rest and so they become two separate populations. Now, mutations that occur in each population will not be shared across the species as a whole. They may also face different environments and so different non-random selective pressures. Over many generations there is a good chance that each population will accumulate changes that are beneficial for them in their respective locations. If the two populations get back together somehow after a great deal of time then it is even possible that they will have changed so much in comparison to each other that they will no longer be able to interbreed. They have speciated.

This is evolution by natural selection, but it does not require populations to become geographically detached although that is a common factor.

The truth is that the accumulation of tiny changes over many thousands, and even millions, of generations can result in species that are incredibly different. If we follow this logic backwards over the periods of time many different sciences and dating techniques prove that life has existed for, then we can be very secure, also thanks to genetic information that we are now able to read, that absolutely every single living thing on this planet shares a common ancestor. Creationists like to get upset because they think evolutionists are calling them monkeys and this is simply untrue. What we are saying, and what we have mountains of evidence to prove, is that we are related to monkeys and around five million years ago we share a common ancestor with today's chimpanzees. But before you get upset, which incidentally does nothing to change the truth of the matter, keep the following in mind.

Not only are you related to chimpanzees and monkeys but you are related to every living thing that lives now and has ever lived on this world. Absolutely everything from a blade of grass to a whale is not just figuratively but is in actual fact your family. The simple yet beautiful process of evolution by natural selection - an observed, recorded and demonstrated fact supported by every piece of evidence on the planet – connects you to everyone and everything in nature for the entire history of this world. We are all cousins.

Thanks to the evidence, this is undeniable.

Now, you can still keep your faith if you really think you must but you have to face the fact that this creationist stuff is just plain wrong. I personally believe that the evidence shows that your faith is clearly wrong also, but if you can't bite that bullet yet at least face up to the truth that evolution is called a theory in science but in science what we call a theory is what non-scientists call fact. If you'd like read from and get in touch with other Christians that remain Christian but have accepted that evolution is a fact then try the Old Earth Network to begin with. They are Christians who keep their faith but accept the truth of evolution.

If you'd like to know more about the fact of evolution and why creationism is certainly false please feel free to leave me a comment or head over to Talk Origins, where they have article after article and scientific proof after scientific proof that explains the errors and the lies of EVERY creationist argument that has ever been raised.

All the best,


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ahteist Morality Blogalogue Update

I have updated the Atheist Morality Blogalogue with my latest response.

If you have not seen this blogalogue, in which I am debating Morality without God with a Christian Missionary, and you are interested in following it, the links below will take you to the parts so far on-line:

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This is what happens when you brain rape children

Take a look at this poor kid.

Now, I recognise that a simple reaction is to hate and ridicule him. But let's be honest. He's too young and certainly to ill educated form his own opinion. In fact, he states clearly that he's been educated by Kent Hovind.

Any atheists watching this know immediately what I am talking about when I refer to the religious abuse of children by indoctrination - and no, I am not talking of the Catholic Church's payment methods for their unquenchable thirst for child sex slaves. I'm talking about the abuse of the mind.

Now theists, this kid is suffering from the abuse we talk about. He's got no idea of what he's talking about and such a passionate belief, almost certainly based on fear, that erupts into hatred and virtually assures he will spend his whole life under the yoke of barbarous ideas with his ability to think critically well and truly switched off. Do you see what we mean when we refer to child indoctrination as abuse?

Most theists at this point will probably be in agreement that this kid is abused but will be saying "But I wasn't abused like that, religion has been good for me". The truth is that if you were indoctrinated as a child then you simply aren't aware of the balkanising effects it has had on you and the large spanner that has been firmly lodged in the working of your critical faculties - just as this kid isn't.

I hope that some of you will at least think about whether or not I have a point.

End the indoctrination of children now. Let them learn enough about the world to choose their own beliefs once they are mature enough to do so. If you really have faith in the truth of your position then what do you have to fear by letting them mature enough to understand it before forcing it upon them?

(Hat Tip: Atheist Perspective)

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