Monday, February 26, 2007

Other interests

I know from my stats that I have a handful of regular visitors. I notice them mostly by the fact that their referring URLs are blank instead of the usual slew of theistic phrases peppered with profanities. So out of respect for that appreciated handful I thought I'd let you know what I'm up to.

First off I've just had a very nice holiday with my children. We enjoyed a mix of sea and mountains and the days I get to spend alone with them count amongst the most special in my life. On top of that there was the addition of four puppies to my household fairly recently. As they've bene growing they've become much harder work and just cleaning up after them, which seems to be a near impossibility thanks to their ability to make mess faster than I can clean and organise it, is leaving me feeling pretty tired. With the work that piled up during my holiday now rolling back over me like a mud slide I need another holiday again and I have suprisingly little time but that which I do have I'm not using for blogging and there's a very good reason for this.

When I started blogging I really just wanted to try out writing again. I've not been very impressed with the results and the obvious culprit has been a lack of dedication. Religion is such a huge topic, thanks to the potentially infinite variation of the imaginary, and to write about it properly requires more research and fact checking than I've so far given. The result is stuff that I really don't want to write. I want to be clearer, cleaner and more precise.

I've also been figuring out what I want to write about. It's important to have an objective and I've not really fulfilled any of those that I do have. On the one side I want to write personally. I want to share thoughts and experiences in a more emotional and personal way, without caring for the facts any more than you care to check your blood oxygen and glucose levels before you write in your diary that you are feeling tired. On the other hand I want to deconstruct religious nonsense and add something genuinely beneficial to the fight, and it is a fight we are in, between madness and reason - between progress and retardation.

So the result of all of this is that in the small amount of time I do have I have been setting out the projects that do deserve my time. There are essentially three of these, but they split into many subcategories and there is considerable cross over between all three.

The first is that I want to improve this blog. I've started work on a redesign having listened to the odd comment about the dark background being difficult on some eyes. It will be changing soon. I've also got every intention of making this a far more serious effort at genuinely offering a resource of interesting arguments and information against the theist crap still being used to fertilize (although it might as well be 'sterilise') the minds of children everywhere. At this point there is considerable cross over with my second project.

I've begun researching, planning, and even writing a book directly targetted at Christianity. Since no child is born christian it might be considered a deconversion book. It's a difficult objective for sure and anybody reading my blog is welcome to doubt my ability to deliver, but I think I'm on pretty solid ground. There is a great deal that I have not written about on this blog or in the comments sections of any others that has made planning the book a doddle so far. Adding the meat to those bones will require a great deal more effort but I think I'll do just fine.

And that leads me into my third project, which is a precursor to the second. I've come up with a new idea for books which I will not go into at this point. I've eplained the idea in some detail to a patient friend of mine and the feedback is more than positive so I think I shall invest the effort and complete it. My own book will depend upon this idea and I will make it freely available for any other budding authors to use when I am done. It's sort of a book on steroids. Book 2.0, you might say - but without the hype, just the good ideas.

Anyway, just to give you something to read whilst I'm finishing the redesign I thought I'd post a few paragraphs I wrote way back when I decided to start blogging but about a year before I actually got around to it.

Here it is:

Ok, so I’ve decided through some deep and nagging need that I want to publish some of my thoughts on a web site and maybe someone will read them and instantly the troubles begin. What should I say? What’s my objective here?

Straight away the little ego demons start to bite my ankles telling me to jump up and down and scream to everyone what a clever individual I am. Or more precisely it’s the fear. “You’d better be clever” the demons say, “Or the real demons of this world, the people, will jump up and down to tell you what a worthless fucking fool you really are. Maybe you’ll believe them”.

These thoughts do not seem conducive to an honest expression of whatever little point it is that’s bugging or exciting me at any particular time. For this reason, all hopes to impress or even satisfy will remain well and truly damned and forgotten.

Here’s what I think. Random and free from even my own expectations. Take whatever entertainment from it you can.

The difference between writing for a book and writing for film and TV basically boils down to the censorship. You can make a movie as strong as you like, but you’ll get a huge amount of shit and probably scenes cut out if you push just a little too strong. But with a book it’s different. You can go as far as your imagination (or personal experience) will let you go. No one serious is willing to come out and suggest banning a book. And if they do you’ll instantly have a million active defenders, even if they hate what you wrote.

A stiff hard cock, gently pushing into her womanhood is standard fare in many respected novels and I’ve read far stronger in many. But when was the last time you saw that on TV? I’ve seen Richard Gere, sadly it must be said, in a significant number of love scenes in dire romantic comedies but it has to be noted that I’ve not once seen his thrusting prick, proud and erect staring like a giant throbbing cyclops at me from the cinema screen.

Movie makers of course are hard pushed at points to maintain integrity when bringing versions based on books to a cinema going public mostly too lazy, too busy and too stupid to read. Sometimes the scenes must be changed in order to pass the various regulatory commissions of morons deciding what it’s safe for the public to see.

One scene that springs to mind is from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, during their stay at the Flamingo Hotel when the maid unexpectedly enters the room. Various factors of the scene, like the vomiting, have been toned down for the screen and other parts are changed, but it’s still a good scene. In the book, both Dr. Duke and Dr. Gonzo are naked. In the film, they are both clothed. In a film full of drugs and the most socially abhorrent behaviour known to man, the spectre of the penis would still cast a shadow over the future of the scene. Cut, cut, cut. What is it with all these freaks wanting to cut penises everywhere?

The director, or who ever came up with the idea, made a good attempt to recapture the severity and ridiculous nature of the scene. They dressed Dr. Duke in huge rubber lizard legs and feet and an enormous green strap on lizard tail, amongst other things that is. It went someway for me towards providing the scene with the stupidness necessary to make the point and good for them. However this makes me wonder about other ways to beat the moral guardians and get true book content to the screen.

Hell, use animals I thought. It’s obvious. Why not when Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are just getting down to it in a romantic comedy version of a Clive Barker novel, can’t we just substitute the actors for animals to keep the full strength of the scene? Watching two humans fuck is of course obscene, but it’s practically natural history education to watch a Viagra powered chimpanzee chase a female chimp around the screen. So what if the setting is a Manhattan apartment with a hugely expensive view and football pitch sized terrace instead of some leafy grove where the banana is still king? Who could complain about that? Surely the chimpanzees are happy.

It seemed so simple. This was how to truly bring literature to screen. And why use only chimpanzees? Maybe mountain goats or crocodiles would serve to bring more sensitivity to these intimate moments. For violent scenes like rape, use penguins to deliver full power to the drama, not just to arouse, like for instance a comely duck. Tax exemptions for using endangered species would be helping art and nature. Perhaps the WWF will get behind the idea – that‘s the World Wildlife Foundation and has nothing to do with wrestling, as far as I know.

But I’ll not be writing a book, or at least not yet. I’ll be writing a blog – a stupid web site from which to scream my thoughts and opinions at the world as though I have any right to. There’ll be no room for animals to help me through difficult or strong topics and I’m damn sure nobody would even consider objecting to my deletion as they would if I wrote the same in some book that some other idiot wanted to burn. I’ll be fucked from the start, it’s obvious. But I’ll do it anyway. Something worthwhile will come of it maybe. I will see. And if it doesn’t I’ll head to the zoo and steal the penguins and try to remake Requiem for a Dream or Train Spotting. “Choose fish. I didn’t choose fish I chose heroin”. I wonder how difficult it will be to get their beaks and the audio to synch.

It doesn’t matter. If people the world over pay again and again for Richard Gere and Julia Roberts to pseudo-fuck within the cock and cunt free constraints of Christian cinema morality then the last thing I need to concern myself with is caring what others think. Most of them very certainly do not.

If you enjoyed this article please feel free to digg it down below.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why Atheists? Why?

I've been reading a discussion on Amazon that has sprung up from discussions regarding the God Delusion. A large part of the discussion is focussing on why people become atheists and also on why atheists are so angry. Before I comment on this, here are some of the theories so far offered:

"Did you grow up in a tyranical religious home? Have a bad experience at church? Get sucked into some kind of mind-control cult, and only just escape by the skin of your teeth? Are you angry with the believers you know personally? Or with America? Or with God?"

"For example, when I was working on my master's degree a few years ago I encountered an atheist professor who was damn proud of it and who told the class that he was an atheist. His reason for why. He was mad at Bush. And, since Bush was a Christian that means he had to be an atheist."

"Others may have become atheists because of a dysfunctional upbringing. Or they may have imagined their upbringing to be dysfunctional. In the modern post-Freudian world, it is a very popular thing to do to blame your parents for everything wrong in the world. So, if your parents were believers then according to the reasoning of the atheists they should be atheists simply for this reason. (I know of a girl who is an atheist for precisely this reason. She hates her parents and she'll tell you that is why.)"

"Others may become atheists for more intellectually honest reasons. They are simply persuaded by the arguments of atheists."

"I think the majority of Atheists became Atheists because their sceptical nature led them to investigate the claims of religion, and after a careful examination of the available evidence, chose to reject all religion as deceitful, contradictory, and devisive. This same process also led them to believe there is no god, due to a complete lack of evidence for the existence of a supreme deity."

"My theory is that Dawkins may have instilled this quality in his readers by example. But I am also open to the possibility that people who are mad at Christians already for other reasons are drawn in this direction."

Despite the fact that some of these theories sound complimentary to atheists (and some are pure drivel) I have a problem with them all. For starters, I didn't become an atheist. Like everybody that has ever lived I was born one. No child is born with a belief in God. It is not atheism that needs to be explained but the lack of it.

Whilst I recognise that many atheists have spent some time in their lives in which they have harboured some form of religious belief asking them how they became atheists is like asking them how they became non-believers in the Tooth Fairy. All of them started out that way. It is theists and Tooth Fairy believers who must justify their beliefs - not the other way around.

With regards to anger I get accused of it a lot. Sometimes I am guilty of being too confrontational for other peoples comfort but I am only giving the religious claims the response they merit. I would also suggest that religion is worth some anger. Atheists are discriminated against. Atheists have to persistently tolerate their requests for reasons being answered with nothing more than glib reference to meaningless dogma. Atheists are expected to respect beliefs that warrant none and then sit back and let the theists perform their ritual child abuse of brainwashing innocent children, thus ensuring that our children have to share the planet with yet another generation of irresponsible thinkers willing to prostitute real concerns to mythical monsters and all the consequences that brings. Yes, there is definitely some anger there sometimes and it is most richly deserved.

But often there is no anger. Often theists misinterpret cold reasoning as a hot blooded assault. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that their universal truth is based on emotional wishful thinking rather than emotionless evidence based reasoning. Perhaps they just don't like being challenged. I really do not know. But if the theists are free to ask the atheists why they became atheists and why they are angry then surely it is fair to ask the same in return and even to propose our theories in advance of their response.

So theists – why did you become a theist?

My theory is that the vast majority of you became theists because you were educated to do so with the primary method of persuasion being peer conformity and a lack of external challenge.

And why are you so convinced that atheists should not be angry with you?

My theory, you are not at all aware of the idea that atheists are increasingly aware of the problems you cause, the absolute lack of any credible justification you have for doing so, and the vulgar habit you have of indoctrinating any child you can get your hands on. If you become familiar with this you may start to ask why atheists are not far more angry with you and my theory for that one is that mostly we are very reasonable people (as demonstrated by statistics showing the disproportionately low level of atheists convicted of crimes).

If you enjoyed this article please feel free to digg it down below.

Monday, February 05, 2007

What has Jesus done for you?

I found this post making the most absurd claims about Jesus. I thought I'd answer it, but since my response is long and comment moderation is on I very much doubt that the full response will be visible on that blog. So, I've decided to post it here as I'm sure if anyone is interested in the response they'll click through to me anyway and be able to read more. You can check the original post here on The Point - Prison Fellowship. It is no coincidence that prison populations contain a far lower percentage of atheists than the general population and it's interesting that prisoners should be so willing to admit that their morality comes from Jesus.

Anyway, the response:

What utter nonsense.

"Jesus has given me an understanding of the world and the human experience that is logically coherent, factually consistent and livable"

If that is the case you should be able to make specific statements of this knowledge and it should include information that is not ordinarily available from other sources (human authors for example) and such information should be coherent with all evidence. This is something you have completely avoided in the rest of your post.

"Origins: How did we get here? By the creative act of God."

OK, here you are defying all of your criteria from the "Jesus given understanding" claim.

First, God is logically incoherent on so many levels I'm sure it will bore you to read even a handful of them. I think I'll risk boring you with a short selection though as I don't want to be making empty claims.

a) In an episode of the Simpsons, Homer asks "can Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that even he cannot eat it?" The fact that this is humour makes no difference. God cannot be all powerful because he either can do something he can't himself control (or eat) or he can't do it. Either way, omnipotence is a fallacy – even if God does exist.
b) God is supposedly omniscient. That means God cannot know ignorance and therefore God is ignorant. Again, the supposed quality is self denying.
c) God is all good, allegedly. And yet the omnipotent, omniscient deity decided to have a plan that requires the eternal suffering of the vast majority of all people that have and will ever live (according to the bible). Goodness has left the building.

Secondly, creation is not factually consistent. Before discussing that I'm curious which of the two contradictory versions of creation which exist in Genesis are we claiming to be the correct one? It doesn't really matter I suppose since both of them are absolutely inconsistent with fact, from calling whales fish to the whole issue of there being days without a star and the tiny inconvenience of it being an absolute certainty that the earth is billions of years older than the age attributable to it from biblical references.

And last of all we come to the liveable criteria. Well, there's nothing to say here because it's meaningless. Everybody currently alive is finding their life liveable regardless of their beliefs including many happy atheists.

"Essence: What am I? A unique person created in the image of God (includes the traits of rationality, creativity, imagination, self-, moral, and transcendent awareness, aspirations, true altruism, capacity for complex language and math, symbolic logic…)"

In the image of God is a meaningless statement. Presumably dwarfs, people born with missing limbs, conjoined twins, black, white, yellow, brown and red people are also created in the image of God and yet clearly that image is different every time. Furthermore the idea of being in the image of God is quite hilarious. Why would God have a body for you to be in that image? Does God need fingers? How about hair? How about a navel or a rectum? The whole idea of physical similarity is utterly ridiculous.

So, over to some sort of mental similarity? Yeah, we'll come to that one once you've explained to me about the mental similarity between God and sufferers of schizophrenia or the severely retarded and the severely autistic. But maybe you mean spiritual? I doubt it since that is truly a meaningless term and equally contradicted by the incredible variety of human children.

Rationality? Obviously this trait is not ubiquitous in your thinking. It's certainly not evident in any of your statements in this post.

Creativity – maybe, I don't know. But I am also creative as are many others without any need to invoke the supernatural to explain that.

Self- - I wonder what you missed off here. Perhaps "deluded".

Imagination – see creativity.

Moral – Yes, that's a good one, mostly because the God of the bible, new and old testaments, is anything but in accordance with modern Christian morality. The punishment for breaking any of the Ten Commandments is stoning to death. You don't have to believe me, you can look it up yourself in the bible. Do you support the stoning to death of children for being disrespectful to their parents? Possibly, not. So your morality and God's are clearly different, and probably quite extremely so. But let's not leave Jesus out of this since a common retort is to invoke Jesus as a sort of non-denying but augmenting factor in biblical morality. For that to be valid it would probably have helped if he hadn't been reported as saying such things as the following:

"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" – Luke 19:27

The bible, OT and NT, is literally full of moral atrocities either committed by God, ordered by God or sanctioned by God that even the vast majority of Christians would consider absolutely unacceptable. These atrocities include murders, genocides, infanticides, paedophilia and rapes. So if your morality is the image of that of Gods then let's hope it's a negative image and that you never get it developed.

"Purpose: Why am I here? To be transformed into Christ's image as I exercise stewardship over God's creation, and multiply God's kingdom."

You call that an answer to the ultimate question? Let's try to get this straight. Your purpose is to be transformed from Gods image (which you were apparently created in) into Christ's image (who is God anyway) as you exercise stewardship over God's creation (so you are in charge, not God?) to multiply God's kingdom (erm, what does that even mean?). How exactly does one multiply God's kingdom since God's kingdom is everything? Have you taken to creating matter and energy lately or is it possible that you are just reciting learned nonsense and that you have absolutely no idea of how empty these statements are?

Furthermore this "purpose" is purposeless. Even if it is true you have absolutely no idea why God chose that or what he expects to achieve. It's like saying the purpose of an oven is to get hot. Why? To bake bread or fire wet clay or any of an infinite number of other possible reasons? You haven't got a clue. Even if this purpose you've given wasn't pure nonsense, which it obviously is, it doesn't even answer your question.

"Evil: Why is there evil in the world? Man's rebellion removed him from the intimacy of God's presence, allowing the spiritual virus of sin to increasingly corrupt God's perfect creation."

So man exercised power over God and messed up the plan? But I thought this was all God's plan and he's omniscient (knows how to fix it without causing suffering) and omnipotent (can fix it immediately with no need for suffering). Of course this is logically inconsistent and factually nonsense since evil is subjective anyway. Presumably this spiritual virus of sin just spontaneously existed? I presume you are not of the opinion that anything exists that God did not create or plan and so you are left with no way of excusing your God from his evil. Your arguments are absurd.

"Dilemma: What's the solution to the mess we're in? The Cross. Through God's grace we can be liberated from the judgment of sin and the control of sin in our lives until Christ returns to restore the entire creation to a state of glory."

Yeah, personally I'd go with critical thinking applied to information from reliable and verifiable methods regarding aspects of the "mess" we're in and then tasking our rational, creative, imaginative brains to get on with some problem solving. But if you think a couple of sticks stuck together is the way to go then I wonder why you don't add "absolute idiot" to your list of in-God's-image traits. I'd also suggest that the "stewardship over God's creation" that you previously mentioned should be left in the hands of the atheists since your contribution to this duty of stewardship goes no further than passing the buck directly back to God with the help of some magic sticks.

"Ethics: What standard should guide our behavior? The moral law of God."

I can see we'll keep coming back here. I'd recommend the whole of genesis, the whole of exodus and a great deal of everything from Paul to start with. Every time you come across God making a decision or giving and order or for that matter pretty much anything that might be considered to give a moral precedent, lesson or clarification, I'd suggest asking yourself if that's really where your morality comes from. Of course it isn't. If it is, then for starters you should head out of your house at once with as many stones as you can find and start killing pretty much everybody you pass in the street from 3 year olds having temper tantrums at their mothers to absolutely everybody that has ever worked on the Sabbath. The moral law of God is criminally insane and viciously nasty and that is obvious in the bible itself.

"Destiny: What happens at life's end? Eternal bliss or eternal removal."

Whatever! Good luck trying to believe that whilst reconciling your totally good, totally powerful God with the "eternal removal" aspect of God's plan for the vast majority of everybody that has or will ever live.

So, what has Jesus done for you really? The answer is that your fictional superman has given you the gift of self-reinforcing blindness to the inconsistencies of your myth based model of reality. He's made you wrong about what you consider to be the most important questions of your existence and utterly ignorant of the vacuous nature of your own argument. Put your hands together, get a couple of sticks stuck together and thank him for your bliss.

Update. Amazingly my post was displayed and I received two responses - the first from Frank, the Blog owner I believe, and the second from Angel. Both of thier responses are available here, but since neither of my replies to them have yet appeared and are also offensively long I thought I'd also post them below incase anybody is interested.

First the response to Frank:

Hello Frank,

"Actually, I didn't answer this question it was Regis. But if you understood the nature of the post, he was merely answering the question. He didn't have to go into detail. Remember Muata said, "Tell me one thing that Jesus has done for you that can be considered of quality to help you successfully navigate through life other than 'he died for my sins.'" And Regis answered it. Please, try to be more fair with your assessment. Because it looks like you were venting in this whole comment of yours. You have to calm down and free yourself from so much bitterness and anger."

Answering such a question requires going into detail. It is insufficient to claim an extraordinary thing, such as understanding given by a supernatural interference, without providing supporting evidence, such as an excerpt of that understanding that could not have been attained by vastly more probable means, such as a published article. My assessment is fair. Your assessment that I am venting is incorrect. The original post published is a claim to truth that is obviously hollow. It should be countered. I am calm but being calm does not require me to show undeserved respect for opinions for which I experience none due to their lack of coherence or merit. You may be accustomed to pretending. I am not. You may prefer fantasy. I prefer the truth.

The truth is that I consider Regis’ original post to be absolutely lacking in substance. It is the same tired self-supporting, reality denying nonsense that is the raison d’etre of Christianity. Nothing more than extraordinary claims of amazing truth that should therefore result in a demonstrable advance in human knowledge. And yet none of this revealed understanding ever makes the slightest bit of difference or any real connection to any factual topic, or observable thing. It is a simple matter for you to prove me wrong if I am wrong. You need only do it once.

Yet despite such drivel being repeatedly debunked by, amongst others, the word of God himself in the Bible, Christians do not recognise the emptiness of their beliefs. Instead you occupy yourselves with promoting that emptiness. You claim so much certainty that you are prepared to educate children that the whole of all eternity is dependent upon your myths. I think that to be terribly irresponsible. All I ask is for a single justification to make such a gamble over a truth you cannot say truthfully or demonstrate in any way that you know. You can only say you that you believe and you can show me no reason to believe in that God or that Christ than any other superstition or fantasy that provides not one shred of evidence that even warrants suspecting its validity.

So I urge you to calm down. Before you take your fervour and faith based revelatory joy out into the world and into the minds of children that you first take it easy and sit back and find an actual connection with reality between what you believe and what is observably so. If you can do so then you can tell me and if it is truth it will be undeniable.

"Well, Regis talked about origin not coherency. I think you're knocking down a strawman. Because you gave us all this..."

Regis claimed that the understanding given to him by Jesus was logically coherent. Part of that understanding is undoubtedly the existence of God. The God of the bible is logically incoherent and by definition therefore so is the understanding within which that belief is contained. It is your God that is made of straw and your Christ on the cross nothing more than a scare crow to chase off rational thought. I recognise you may consider these statements to be aggressive. That is inconsequential to me and I neither aim to achieve that or make any effort to avoid it. We are discussing truth and truth is independent of your emotions and mine. It is likely your emotions that bind you to your beliefs as it certainly is not fact. Again, just one single fact would prove me wrong.

"See? You dealt with Genesis but you didn't deal with creation."

Genesis is the definitive account of creation within Christianity. If it is not then you are admitting that the bible is not literal. You may be one of those that have no problem with this. But if the bible is not literal then it is not historical fact and if it is not historical fact you have absolutely no reason to take some parts of it as representative of true reality and other parts of it as allegorical. Justify your assumption that Christ is fact? No historical evidence even comes close to allowing that.

But ok, I’ll bite and deal with creation. Creation is an assumption. Regis stated that his supernaturally gifted understanding is factually consistent. Genesis is not factually consistent and neither is the concept of a creation as there is no evidence of a creation. You may think the universe is evidence but it is not. The fact of the universe does not dictate a creator and thus it does not require a creation. There are alternatives. For that matter there are an infinite number of them and your ability to consider them is limited only by your imagination, not by any fact. The universe may always have existed. The universe may not exist and your impression that it does may be the effect of another process, unperceived by you. The universe may have spontaneously existed. Existence itself may be meaningless from anything other than an internal perspective. The list is endless because a new, different and utterly baseless option can always be made up no matter how many have come before.

How about instead we assume a creator. There is certainly no factual evidence suggesting that this creator is the God of the bible. It might just as well be the God of the Qur’an or Wenabozho, the creator hare of the Abnaki Native Americans, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or any known or unknown version or versions of a creator. Again, the options are infinite and without a single shareable fact to suggest any of them let alone a specific one of them is true then the probability of a particular one being true is 1 over infinity. In other words it is indistinguishable from zero. Without any supporting argument to the claim that we got here "by the creative act of God" this sort of thinking fails to appreciate the reality of the situation. Neither you nor Regis knows how we got here and neither does anybody else. So with what justification would you or does Regis claim to be certain and to know this obviously unknowable truth? Your shepherd has you lost and it is a serious failing in your belief system that you can’t understand that.

"If you knew the Bible, when God said He made us in His image, it wasn't meant literally. Please, read up on theology more."

I read on the topic quite a lot but I will not claim to know everything. As you know I discussed more than physical similarity. None of your answers offer any counter point to my statements.

"Hmm, it seems you've already assumed that a spirit doesn't exist. That begs the question."

Which question does it beg? I would be happy if at least it begged the question of why you have assumed that a spirit does exist.

I do assume that the spirit does not exist for the same reason that I assume that there is not an invisible rhinoceros living in my kitchen. There is absolutely no suggestive evidence that it is true and so it is equally as plausible as any other baseless imagining. There is very good evidence that evolution is a fact and not one shred of evidence suggesting otherwise. Since evolution encompasses the emergence of intelligence and every other trait of the human animal it flatly contradicts the idea that individuality or self enters via an alternative route or due to an alternative cause. If it did then that would contradict the fossil record of our species and its predecessors that shows the evolving structure, size and complexity of the brain. So it is not just that the spirit is without evidence but also that there is very convincing evidence against it. So, since the spirit/soul (or whatever you want to call the imaginary little person inside your head pulling all the levers) is contradicted by observable reality I quite safely assume that it is a worthless fantasy as contrary to everything we know as my invisible rhinoceros.

"Hmm, it's apparent that you don't want a civil discussion. Please, follow the commenting rules, okay?"

Your definition of civil may limit openness. I do not care if the discussion is perceived as civil or otherwise. I am not interested in your emotions determining what is and what is not acceptable as it is precisely the failing of placing emotional belief above critical reasoning that I am speaking against. I will not swear at you and any insult you perceive is your perception. But I will not read your rules and confine discussion within a set of arbitrarily derived protocols that can only constrict the freedom of debate. Since comments are moderated you are able to choose to disallow my contributions.

But do you know for certain that you do not question your beliefs if you cannot allow others to do so?

"You just begged the question because you assumed your own moral system and judged the Bible with it; what you should try doing is showing that you as a non-Chrsitian have a cogent moral system. All those Bible verses and incidences you brought up can be easily explained. If you were more unbiased you can see that."

I do not have a cogent moral system and I expect never to have one. I try to make each judgement individually and determined according to available information and an honest assessment of its reliability. Whilst I have inherited morality as an evolutionary trait, I try to remain aware that an inbuilt tendency may not be how I would choose to react upon deeper consideration. My morality is therefore variable.

But to put that into terms you can relate to. In general I do not deliberately cause harm to others, although I can conceive of and have experienced situations in which I have decided to violate that generalisation. I have never decided to cause harm to punish somebody.

I do not steal from others and I am usually honest. When I am not honest I am usually silent and when I am neither honest nor silent then it is usually for the benefit of others and not me.

I have seen no reason for me to need a cogent morality or aspire to one. I prefer to choose and determine what is best for the time at the time.

"Transformed from God's image? That's not a Christian's purpose"

Regis stated first that he was created in God’s image. He then stated that the purpose of his existence is to be transformed into Christ’s image. I recognise the inconsistency of the trinity, yet for one to be transformed into something signifies change from the initial state.

"Dont' go soft on us now, choosedoubt."

I wasn’t aware that I had. Would you specify?

"Well, at least you admitted the oven has a purpose. Odd that you would parallel that to something that doesn't have a purpose."

The purpose of an oven may be to kill a cat or to entertain a child who can see his reflection in the glass of the door. The possible purposes are infinite without constraint as to the objective to which it is tasked. The parallel is that being "transformed into Christ’s image" is an insufficient explanation of purpose. Why be transformed into Christ’s image and why for whatever comes after that? Either God’s plan has a final purpose in which case that must be known for an individual to claim to know the reason for their existence, or God’s plan has no final objective in which case it is purposeless. The chain of objectives until the final one must be exposed to be able to claim knowledge of the purpose. Since Regis does not know that I recommend that he stop claiming to posses a truth he does not posses.

"No, it's just that you won't accept it."

There has been nothing offered for me to accept. You just won’t accept that you have accepted nothing as your ultimate truth.

"Power over God? That's not the Christian worldview. Looks like you're knocking down a strawman again."

Please explain to me how man was able to rebel against the ineffable plan of an omnipotent, omniscient God? You cannot have it both ways. Either God is omniscient, omnipotent, and this is all his plan (which he doesn’t need) or he isn’t. He is either omni-responsible or evil is his irresponsibility on show.

"LOL! Then what are you doing posting here then if morality is subjective? It seems that you really have a moral problem with Christians. That's a laugh!"

I have a moral problem with Christianity, as I do with all moral influencers not based on the reality of people’s lives or any demonstrable connection to that reality. I think you are irresponsible to those you share this planet with, especially when indoctrinating children into this vacuous view of themselves and the universe. And I will tell you why morality is subjective. It is because you do not know the future.

Let’s take a thought experiment. What if I tell you that I am going to kill a child? That is certainly immoral right? Of course it is. But what if that child is Adolf Hitler and you know for certain, because you are a time traveller, that in his later life he will be responsible for immense suffering and tens of millions of deaths. Is it moral to kill the child? According to Christianity it is probably not, unless he has been disrespectful to his parents of course.

Is it moral to leave all those later children to die and suffer? Is it moral to end the chance of life of all the countless billions of individuals that will be born into the far distant future if their ancestors had not been killed by that boy in his later life?

My point is that you have no idea of the consequences of your actions. You couldn’t make the decisions even if you did because you would have to know all possible future for all time to actually judge is this better or worse. So you rely on God’s simplistic morality which is frankly bloody, spiteful, vengeful and violent the majority of the time. And it’s based on nothing at all. So instead of realising the enormity, in fact the impossibility of your responsibility to be "good" you ignore it all and leave it to dogma that has no appreciation of the situation you are in at the time. In effect you limit and partially ignore choice. No action you take can be perceived as moral. You are an automaton running very poor moral software if you really do think that your morality is objective.

"So is the fact that you're actually outraged by Christianity despite the fact that you think evil is subjective."

I am not outraged by Christianity. I am disappointed by Christians and every other person that places superstition above everything else in importance. You have a responsibility to answer more satisfactorily for your certainty and if you can’t do that then you have a responsibility to abandon it.



And then Angel:

Hello Angel,

Many people have also had parents who were alcoholic, drug addicted and/or criminals and then proceeded with their own lives without these traits and without claiming that break from parental patterns to be of supernatural origin. Likewise, many Christians have had non-alcoholic, non-drug abusing, non-criminal parents and yet gone on to develop all of these traits. It is also clear that you are not born into a new life and it is an enormous discredit to human intelligence, especially your own, that you must credit the supernatural with something as basic as a positive choice. Regardless of the discredit, your personal testimony goes nowhere towards actually demonstrating that it was Jesus that supernaturally changed your life and certainly nowhere towards suggesting that he does or ever did exist.

"Recognizing my sin nature did not mean Jesus waved a magic wand and made everything perfect. Instead he told me that he did not come to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved."

You do not have a sin nature. You are a complicated organism with a decision making brain that is able to learn and adapt its behaviour. Your senses and ability to control your body allow you to interact with your environment and the universe is absolutely indifferent to what you desire. The universe is not indifferent to what you do. Every time your heart beats (in fact, much smaller changes) you interact with the entirety of the universe from everything approximately 14 billion years ago to everything that will ever be. Your interactions are so complicated that you can never have any idea of anything other than their most immediate affect. Reality does not care if you masturbate. There is no such thing as sin and no way to tell which of your actions, from what you perceive as the worst to what you do not even perceive, will ripple through everything and propagate in ways of which you approve or in ways of which you do not. Sin is a nonsense idea used to limit choice and freedom of thought. Sin is one of the mind traps of your nonsense religion.

"Then he gave me grace. Definition: The ability to do something that you in your own strength could not do. This means he gave me the strength and ability to walk out of my past."

The fact that you did it is evidence that you did have the strength and ability to walk out of your past. The fact that many non-religious people have done the same thing and that many religious people have tried and failed is important. You have no way of externally verifying the influence of the supernatural (Jesus) over the natural (you). It's all just in your mind. It is your belief only, verified by no supporting evidence and contradicted by plenty and that does not give you the right to call it truth and it certainly doesn't give anybody the right to try to teach it to others as truth. The rest of what you write along this line is just dribble and again on the same lines of "Jesus has done so much to me but all of it can be easily attributed to my own psychology, the influence of other non-supernatural sources and I have not one shred of evidence to the contrary but IT IS THE TRUTH". There is no difference between that and the man who honestly believes there are magical penguins controlling his life by sending radio waves into his head from the moon. You need to provide more than your certainty. You need to provide what your certainty is based upon. Otherwise you very much need to understand that your belief is highly dangerous as it shares no connection and thus is not constrained by the reality of human existence.

"Science is not conclusive in its entirety, and therefore cannot conclusively deny or prove God's existence. It can not cure cancer, it can not tell you if there is life on other planets, or solar systems light years away. until a few hundred years ago it thought the earth was flat, until fifty years ago it thought the atom was the smallest particle."

Science can cure some cancers and does so everyday. It is highly likely that science will be able to cure all cancers in the near future. Science could very easily prove God's existence because God is claimed to have an influence upon reality. That means that due to God's interference reality should be changed and that is observable. However we never see any sign of this. Studies, both active and passive of the effects of intercessory prayer show very clearly and overwhelmingly that prayer has no effect on the outcome of events.

Science can tell you if there is life on other planets it just doesn't claim to be able to tell you yet something which is not known. That is the difference between Science and Faith. Faith is certainty in a conclusion without any evidence or contrary to all the evidence. Science waits. Science admits to not knowing and waits for reasons to claim to know or to suggest the options. This is a very important point. Your mention of science thinking the earth was flat is just nonsense. People thought he earth was flat. It was observation based reasoning (a precept of science) that allowed the conclusion that the earth is indeed not flat.

"Thousands of years ago before science even understood, God told his people to circumcise on the eighth day of a child's life. Now Science knows the reason is because on the eighth day a child's level of vitamin k is at it's highest, without this a child would bleed to death! God knew this, not the Jews, THOUSANDS of years before science did."

Why instead didn't God just add more vitamin K to babies or better yet why not just design penises without the foreskin and save the babies the pain and the risk of infection? Your argument is pathetic and even if it wasn't it is dwarfed by the staggering number of things that God got wrong. God's absence on the number of patents filled over the years is absolutely staggering. The lack of God being cited in published papers on discoveries and research that genuinely advance human knowledge is eye opening. The world you live in was created by science and scientists using critical methods of observation based reasoning.

"This is only one of many examples that science is trailing God by, um, light years. Therefore science is inconclusive. and what Science can not answer, Faith does."

This is flatly contradicted by a comparison of any high school science text book and the number of advancements of human knowledge within that compared to the bible and the sum total of all discovery with any application ever from religious revelation. Faith answers nothing. It answers nothing satisfactorily and provides no applicable correlation between its "knowledge" and observable reality. You are talking nonsense and you should learn a bit more about science, rational thought and critical thinking. You are ignorant of those you really owe your gratitude to for the benefits they have provided in your life and the lives of others. These are not small benefits. They range from medicines that save millions to electricity and the tools with which to begin to understand and view the true wonder and beauty of the universe and your existence within it.

"I would also like to add that I am sorry you encountered religion that told you that you were not good enough. While there are laws God wants us to follow, as my dad so greatly put it: Look at the word 'law' as "This is the way it works" God says do not fornicate: Now we know that it leads to STDs and we have always known it could cause an unwanted pregnancy."

I encountered religion and I determined it was not good enough, not the other way around. Your response is woolly and frankly vacuous. If you are an adult then your response is an amazing signal that you have utterly failed to begin to use your mind. If you are a child you really need to expand your reading and start to actually learn some things from reality instead of attempt to use your cloud of faith to shield you from it. Fornicating, for males at least, results in more off spring. The survival benefit for the genes for fornicating is offset against the increased risks of death by STDs which remains in across the world a lower risk than death by consuming contaminated foods or water. I don't recall God saying don't eat and don't drink water. A much larger offset of the survival benefit of fornication is the deficit of reduced investment/care of the young. They balance pretty well in some species and the balance changes according to environmental conditions. Recent investigation has actually revealed genetic markers in other mammals that encodes a protein called the vasopressin receptor which regulates social behaviour and pair bonding. Inserting this gene into Meadows Voles resulted in their behaviour changing from naturally promiscuous to permanent pair bonding. On the other hand the monogamous Prairie Vole naturally has high levels of vasopressin receptors in the ventral forebrain which is an area of the brain known to regulate addiction and reward. In other words, vasopressin receptors, which are extremely similar in monkeys and current research has yet to show any great difference in humans, provides a naturally selective mechanism by which to favour promiscuous or monogamous behaviour. STDs have virtually nothing to do with it.

Furthermore, why did your God not say directly "if you have multiple partners then you increase your risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases"? It seems rather sensible to give the reason for the order and not just the order. For that matter why did he just not bother creating sexually transmitted disease or any disease whilst we are at it? Your arguments are shallow and nonsensical. You credit God with wisdom where is none and absolve him of all responsibility for sickness and suffering when it is doubtless absolute if he exists as you think he does.

"God set this rule not because he wanted us to fail, but he loves us and wants us to be protected. But Jesus said He who is without sin cast the first stone. Therefore, even when I do fail, it only makes me more grateful for God's mercies. I dust myself off and try again. As Paul said "There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus"."

God didn't have to set any rules to protect us. He could have set up everything so that we didn't need protection – that might have been a more convincing show of love than the two million individuals who died in Africa last year from HIV related illness, many of whom babies and children who didn't even know what promiscuity is. They never will now. That is your God's love? Go and tell that to the dying children please as they wither away the last days of their short lives in unparalleled pain.

Your statement is like someone being grateful for being locked in a room full of snakes and being told "don't touch the snakes". It's absolutely absurd. You need to dust off your thinking and try again. You are grateful for suffering, ignorant and ungracious of the wonderful efforts and achievements of your fellow humans past and present to alleviate that suffering and see absolutely no need to connect your ultimate truth to observable or demonstrable fact. Your position is indefensible and that should be obvious to you because you are incapable of mounting a defence outside the confines of pure fantasy and disconnected baseless dogma.



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