Archive for February, 2012

February 29, 2012

Jefferson on “The Wall of Separation”

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

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Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.

Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 US at 232, 1948)
February 29, 2012

God Did It?

 

“If you don’t understand something, and the community of physicists doesn’t understand something, does that mean that God did it? Is that how you want to play this game? …A talk show you might have conducted 200 years ago might have said, ‘The planets do retrograde? Can’t understand that, must be a god.’ And we’d say, ‘You know, you’re right.’ And ten years later, we understand it. So if that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance that gets smaller and

smaller and smaller as time goes on. So, just be ready for that to happen.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, in response to Bill O’Reilly’s ‘God did it’ logic
February 29, 2012

Christian Doctrine Proves Their God Cannot Exist

from nonplussed by religion

God Is Dead” – New York Times, Jan 9, 1966

 

The most common argument that Atheists are asked to defend is to provide proof that god does not exist. This is known as “Proving a Negative.” Technically, it is defined as an “Argument from Ignorance.” Essentially, it is a logical fallacy in that a claimed premise is deemed true only because it has not been proven false. This is one of the most common retorts I get when debating a believer and it is also one of the most difficult to explain to them because they just cannot grasp the utter ridiculousness of their request.

Do invisible pink unicorns exist simply because they have not been proven not to? The burden of proof always lies with the person who is making the claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When someone tells me that god exists, I ask him or her to prove it with real, empirical evidence.

Perfect Imperfection…

According to Christianity, their god exists and he is perfect. An imperfect god cannot exist, so if we can prove that god is not perfect, then, by default, we can prove that he does not exist and the entire house of cards that is Christianity collapses. We can know that god is not perfect, and therefore not exist because he screwed up so bad that even trying to hide his imperfection is impossible. Christianity teaches that creation was perfect because it was fashioned by a perfect god, and it remained so until the “fall of man” occurred in the garden of Eden.

This begs the question of why god felt the need to create anything in the first place. The need to create results from a perceived lack of balance between what is and what should be. So, what disturbed god’s perfection and compelled him to create? If god is presumably perfect, then he would have been complete and in need of nothing. Conventional Christian “wisdom” teaches that god created us because he desires our worship. Well, desire results from need, and need connotes lack, and lack connotes imperfection. This is where the existence of the Christian god becomes impossible, because perfection cannot exist as long as there is need, want or desire. A god who is perfect does nothing except exist and thus, a perfect god who creates anything is not perfect.

Higher Ways…

Of course, a favorite amongst Christians is the imbecilic answer of “his ways are higher,” which is not only the height of ignorance, but shows a lack of reason so profound that all you really can do is just shake your head in disbelief. What it comes down to is that an allegedly perfect god created a perfect universe which was rendered imperfect by his creation, humans. Thusly, the ultimate source of imperfection is god himself. An imperfect humanity could have only been created by an imperfect god and Christianity does not allow for an imperfect god, so thus, god does not exist. He is a logical fallacy unto himself.

This is, indeed, a paradox of monumental proportions for Christians, and has spawned a plethora of Christian colleges, universities and think tanks all for the purpose of trying to figure this all out. The best they can come up with is the concept of “free will,” which basically states that human imperfection is only a byproduct of our capacity as free moral agents. That’s all good and well, but the concept was doomed to fail from the start.

The characters portrayed in the bible as “Adam and Eve” used their free will to choose evil, which was a design flaw and if we are to believe in intelligent design, then creating something that is broken does not make god intelligent at all. It was this flaw in god’s design that was responsible for the introduction of imperfection into his previously perfect universe. Another proof of imperfection, thus another proof that god does not exist.

Abraham, I Need A Favor…

To make matters worse, god knew that Adam and Eve were going to totally fuck everything up for the rest of humanity and did nothing about it, in spite of hearing screams of the damned. No, this perfect, all-compassionate, all-loving god went ahead with his plan anyway, knowing that billions of humans would end up eternally damned to hell. Nothing screams compassion louder than eternal suffering for temporal sins…

Of course, eternal damnation is avoidable as long as one accepts Jesus as lord and savior. However, salvation is only necessary because the problem of sin was brought on by god in the first place. The need for salvation is incompatible with a perfect god because if god were perfectly just, he would not dole out infinite punishment for finite sins. The fact that the best god could do was offer up human sacrifice as a solution to his design flawed humanity is further proof that he is imperfect, and thus does not exist.

So It Is Written…

Another proof that god is not perfect is the venue that he chose to communicate with his imperfect creation – the Bible. Avoiding eternal punishment by knowing and believing in Christ is wonderful if you have access to a bible. However, there are billions of people in the past, present and future all over the planet in remote areas who have never heard of nor will likely never hear of Jesus Christ or his “gospel of salvation.

According to Christian theology, all of these people are doomed to eternal punishment – regardless of their generosity, kindness, morality, ethics or disposition – because they have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Without access to the Bible, they are being punished for committing a crime they had no idea even existed. A god that would judge a man by his beliefs rather than his actions is imperfect, and thus does not exist.

So, how does god combat the problem of the shortage of bibles in every language known to humanity and the equal shortage of Christian bookstores in the Amazon jungle and other remote places where there isn’t even a Starbuck’s? Happy feet! Yes, happy are the feet that bring the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ to the world, right? And who do these feet belong to? None other than the most destructive groups of people ever to walk the face of the earth. Missionaries. They have destroyed whole cultures and have stolen entire countries from their indigenous inhabitants.

If you don’t believe me, just ask any Native American. Missionaries believe that their job is to bring the “word of god” to the savage masses, savage meaning anyone who does not believe like they do.

The problem is that like the imperfect Christian god, the bible is also imperfect. It is indecipherable fusion of books that contain so many errors, contradictions, misinformation and ignorance beyond any standards of logic and reason that it boggles the mind that it’s even taken seriously. It is a poor excuse for the supposedly perfect word of god. The fact that no two individuals will ever agree on what the bible says in its entirety makes it suspect. An imperfect god who reveals his imperfect will in an imperfect book is another proof that god does not exist.

I Second That Emotion…

Another interesting point to note is that according to Christianity, god experiences all of the emotions of a human being. What they fail to understand is that emotion is a response to something previously unknown. A perfect god who is omniscient god would be ignorant of nothing. Nothing would be hidden from him and nothing can be revealed, thus there would be no need to act emotionally. Thus, he is not all knowing. Another point to ponder as to why god cannot exist.

Yet, two billion people still stubbornly insist that there is a god and he is watching us all the time, which should make them uncomfortable, to say the least. Is he casting his watchful eye over us as we take a dump? Does he watch us have sex? Masturbate? Pick our noses? Scratch our butts? Does he listen into our phone conversations? Read our email? God is everywhere? Is he up our behind? Please, when will people realize just how illogical and unreasonable the whole god thing is and come to the place in their lives when they finally realize that there is no god?

Deities were invented at the dawn of time and persisted throughout our history to explain what was unexplainable in the early years of our development. The culmination of human knowledge and intelligence has answered many questions with certainty that were unknown even up until very recently. We no longer need to rely on ancient superstitions to explain weather patterns, genetics, biology and other life sciences. We no longer need to make sacrifices or live a life if credulous servility to appease an angry god so he allows our crops to grow or to keep sickness at bay or any one of a plethora of other superstitions.

The concept of god is one that is passed and no longer needed. Humans are more than capable of moral behavior, altruistic actions, inner peace and happiness on our own. We have a choice to make. We can choose to do what is right regardless of what religion tells us, or we can do what religion tells us, regardless if it is right. The former is the choice that will allow our species to evolve. The latter can only result in our annihilation.

Think about it…

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Excerpted from my book, “A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World – The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth

February 29, 2012

Drug Policy

“Progressives love to point out the hypocrisy of social conservatives who righteously rail against (and demand legal sanction for) the very same sexually sinful behavior in which they enthusiastically engage — and rightly so. But what about a society that continues to imprison millions of human beings for using substances that vast numbers of people in the nation have secretly used and enjoyed, or which empowers people with the Oval Office, or reveres people like Steve Jobs, who have done the same? The DOJ claims dispensaries are now masking non-medical marijuana sales, leading to this question: even leaving aside the rather significant (and shameful) fact that drug laws are enforced with overwhelming disproportion against racial minorities, what possible justification is there for putting someone in a cage for using a substance they choose to use without any evidence that they’ve harmed anyone else or even risked harm to anyone else?

All of this becomes even more incomprehensible when one considers the never-ending preaching about the need for “austerity,” which means: depriving poor and middle class citizens of services and financial security. In this environment, how can it possibly be justified to expend substantial sums of money investigating, arresting, prosecuting and then imprisoning large numbers of people for doing nothing more than consuming marijuana or selling it in states where it is legal to sell it to other consenting adults? That makes about as much sense as deploying a State Department army of 16,000 for a permanent presence in Iraq at the same time political and financial elites plot cuts to Social Security and Medicare. I genuinely don’t understand why a policy that single-handedly sustains America’s status as World’s Largest Jailer — and that consigns huge numbers of minorities and America’s poor to prison and permanent criminal status for no good reason, in the process breaking up families at astonishing rates (to say nothing of the inexorable erosion of civil liberties) — isn’t a higher priority for progressives.

But just like the senseless and monumentally wasteful Endless military War, America’s Drug War feeds the pockets of a powerful private industry: the growing privatized prison industry, which needs more and more prisoners for profits, gets many from drug convictions, and thus vehemently opposes and lobbies against any reform to the nation’s drug laws as well as reform of harsh criminal sentencing. That, combined with self-righteous, deeply hypocritical anti-drug moralizing and complete obliviousness to evidence, has ensured not only that the Drug War and its prison obsession endures, but that it remains outside the scope of what can even be discussed in mainstream political circles. And as the Obama DOJ’s newly intensified attacks on marijuana demonstrate, the problem is, in many respects, getting worse, even as most of the world moves toward a much more restrained and health-based (rather than crime-based) approach to dealing with drug usage.”

Glenn Greenwald – Steve Jobs and drug policy | Salon

February 26, 2012

The Universal Decalration of Human Rights

English: Human Rights logo: "FREE AS A MA...

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Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal...

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  Universal Declaration
of Human Rights

Plain Language Version
  1 When children are born, they are free and each should be treated in the same way. They have reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a friendly manner.
2 Everyone can claim the following rights, despite
– a different sex
– a different skin colour
– speaking a different language
– thinking different things
– believing in another religion
– owning more or less
– being born in another social group
– coming from another country
It also makes no difference whether the country you live in is independent or not.
3 You have the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.
4 Nobody has the right to treat you as his or her slave and you should not make anyone your slave.
5 Nobody has the right to torture you.
6 You should be legally protected in the same way everywhere, and like everyone else.
7 The law is the same for everyone; it should be applied in the same way to all.
8 You should be able to ask for legal help when the rights your country grants you are not respected.
9 Nobody has the right to put you in prison, to keep you there, or to send you away from your country unjustly, or without good reason.
10 If you go on trial this should be done in public. The people who try you should not let themselves be influenced by others.
11 You should be considered innocent until it can be proved that you are guilty. If you are accused of a crime, you should always have the right to defend yourself. Nobody has the right to condemn you and punish you for something you have not done.
12 You have the right to ask to be protected if someone tries to harm your good name, enter your house, open your letters, or bother you or your family without a good reason.
13 You have the right to come and go as you wish within your country. You have the right to leave your country to go to another one; and you should be able to return to your country if you want.
14 If someone hurts you, you have the right to go to another country and ask it to protect you. You lose this right if you have killed someone and if you, yourself, do not respect what is written here.
15 You have the right to belong to a country and nobody can prevent you, without a good reason, from belonging to a country if you wish.
16 As soon as a person is legally entitled, he or she has the right to marry and have a family. In doing this, neither the colour of your skin, the country you come from nor your religion should be impediments. Men and women have the same rights when they are married and also when they are separated.
Nobody should force a person to marry.
The government of your country should protect you and the members of your family.
17 You have the right to own things and nobody has the right to take these from you without a good reason.
18 You have the right to profess your religion freely, to change it, and to practise it either on your own or with other people.
19 You have the right to think what you want, to say what you like, and nobody should forbid you from doing so. You should be able to share your ideas also—with people from any other country.
20 You have the right to organize peaceful meetings or to take part in meetings in a peaceful way. It is wrong to force someone to belong to a group.
21 You have the right to take part in your country’s political affairs either by belonging to the government yourself or by choosing politicians who have the same ideas as you. Governments should be voted for regularly and voting should be secret. You should get a vote and all votes should be equal. You also have the same right to join the public service as anyone else.
22 The society in which you live should help you to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to you and to all the men and women in your country.
23 You have the right to work, to be free to choose your work, to get a salary which allows you to support your family. If a man and a woman do the same work, they should get the same pay. All people who work have the right to join together to defend their interests.
24 Each work day should not be too long, since everyone has the right to rest and should be able to take regular paid holidays.
25 You have the right to have whatever you need so that you and your family: do not fall ill or go hungry; have clothes and a house; and are helped if you are out of work, if you are ill, if you are old, if your wife or husband is dead, or if you do not earn a living for any other reason you cannot help. Mothers and their children are entitled to special care. All children have the same rights to be protected, whether or not their mother was married when they were born.
26 You have the right to go to school and everyone should go to school. Primary schooling should be free. You should be able to learn a profession or continue your studies as far as wish. At school, you should be able to develop all your talents and you should be taught to get on with others, whatever their race, religion or the country they come from. Your parents have the right to choose how and what you will be taught at school.
27 You have the right to share in your community’s arts and sciences, and any good they do. Your works as an artist, writer, or a scientist should be protected, and you should be able to benefit from them.
28 So that your rights will be respected, there must be an ‘order’ which can protect them. This ‘order’ should be local and worldwide.
29 You have duties towards the community within which your personality can only fully develop. The law should guarantee human rights. It should allow everyone to respect others and to be respected.
30 In all parts of the world, no society, no human being, should take it upon her or himself to act in such a way as to destroy the rights which you have just been reading about.

This plain language version is only given as a guide. For an exact rendering of each principle, refer students to the original. This version is based in part on the translation of a text, prepared in 1978, for the World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace, by a Research Group of the University of Geneva, under the responsibility of Prof. L. Massarenti. In preparing the translation, the Group used a basic vocabulary of 2,500 words in use in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Teachers may adopt this methodology by translating the text of the Universal Declaration in the language in use in their region.

February 14, 2012

Myths about Veganism

February 11, 2012

Christianity in a Nutshell

February 11, 2012

Change

Image

February 11, 2012

Darwin Day