Monday, March 8, 2010

I Love You Guys

CaraDee left a link to the video below on my last post. I'm a fan of Non-Stamp Collector but I hadn't seen this particular video of his. Creationists, WATCH THIS. Thanks CaraDee!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Let me start off by saying I’ve already gotten some nice comments on my last post about “atheists having faith.” Chanson linked to a post of hers on the issue. And Andrew S. left a really insightful comment:
E.g., if you notice the guy's comment...he always pins atheists as being people who believe there is no god. So he isn't framing this in terms of belief vs. nonbelief, or do believe vs. do not believe.  
Instead, he is framing it in terms of believe there is vs. believe there is not. He consistently address those who "believe there is no god," who have faith "there is no god" etc.,  
Well, phew! All I can do is give a sigh of relief. His stinging indictment doesn't even apply to me. I am an atheist because I do not believe in gods and I do not believe there are gods, not because I believe there are no gods. And most atheists (I think, I have never conducted a formal poll) would agree. It seems to me that most people concede -- even if only grudgingly -- that belief either way requires "faith" (I agree with chanson that this also says more about the person's opinion of faith than anything)...and many people will concede that "nonbelief" is "reasonable."  
What they fail to realize is that atheism includes that nonbelief.
And then there was this “gem.” {Rant to follow.}
Well said, let first examine who is God. God is the source of everything and the creator of every creature. Answer this Questions: Do you know that there are manufacturers for every car and a potter for every pot? Have you ever seen a beuatiful garden that just happened without a meticulous gardener? If your answer is yes, why do you think the earth and man just happened; when no car or house just happened. Here is the bottom line; to deny God is to deny that there is no manufacturer of cars or no potter for pot. And that is either you are a hypocrite or you are a fool.
For more on this read my blog, Achievement The Way I See It 2
When I provide links READ THEM before you run your mouth or you just end up looking like a douche and pissing me off. Seriously. This makes me angry. I provided a LIST of things to read re: evolution. It just so happens that those links {and books} address the designer/”just happens” fallacy.
ATHEISTS/EVOLUTIONISTS DO NOT BELIEVE THINGS “JUST HAPPENED.” But then, if you had READ the information I provided you’d know that. But no, you’d rather leave trite little analogies that DO NOT APPLY.
Here’s that reading list for you again. Do not bother me with your cliché arguments again until you’ve read them.
And I highly recommend buying or borrowing: The God Delusion and The Greatest Show On Earth. We own and love both.
If the Christians who make these idiotic analogies and arguments actually spent time listening to what the other side has to say they’d know those arguments have already been addressed and answered. But it seems they’d rather sit around repeating their crap to each other and congratulating each other on how smart they are, and what great zingers they’ve come up with to show how foolish the non-theists are. No, “heaven forbid” they actually learn what the hell they’re talking about. It’s far better to spew fallacies about watches and watchmakers and how evolution is “just a theory” {yes, in the same sense of the word as the THEORY OF GRAVITY}. THIS is exactly the kind of bullshit I have little patience for.
That said, I’m done. I’m not wasting my time providing the same resources over and over and over again. I have better things to do with my time, like having breakfast with my family, which is exactly what I’m going to do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

“Atheists Have Faith”

The following comment was left anonymously on Adam’s post:
As far as I can tell you use faith as much as your parents do.  With exactly the same type of evidence.  You see everything as evidence that there is no God, but as far as I can tell you haven't proved it.  You can't, anymore then someone can prove there IS a God.  You can't know for sure that there isn't, anymore then I can no for sure that there is.  You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen, but you can't prove there is no divine being influencing things, anymore then I could prove to you that there is.  And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed. Because everyone believes they are correct.  You have faith my man.  Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses. [sic]
I have a few things to say to that…but first, a comic:
logic{taken from The Godless Paladin} 
By this reasoning it would be just as valid to believe there is an invisible pink unicorn watching over us all from a rainbow castle in the sky as it would be to not believe in such a being. By this reasons it would be just as valid to believe there in Thor, or Vishnu, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster as it is to not believe in such gods.
Calling atheism, or NON-belief, “faith” is like calling NOT collecting stamps a hobby.
And it’s ridiculous.
It does not take faith to not believe in something for which there is no evidence. Would you say it takes faith to not believe in the boogey-man? Does it take faith to not believe in fairies? Does it take faith to not believe in Russell’s teapot? What’s that? I’ll let Russell explain:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. {via Wikipedia}
You’re arguing that since you cannot prove nor disprove the existence of a supreme being then it must be equally reasonable to believe in such as it is to not believe and that both views require faith {nevermind the fact that specific religions and their claims can be shown to be untrue – we’ll focus merely on the abstract concept of a supernatural being called “God”}.
Richard Dawkins argued that “if agnosticism demands giving equal respect to the belief and disbelief in a supreme being, then it must also give equal respect to belief in an orbiting teapot, since the existence of an orbiting teapot is just as plausible scientifically as the existence of a supreme being.” And Peter Atkins “said that the core point of Russell's teapot is that a scientist cannot prove a negative, and therefore Occam's razor demands that the more simple theory (in which there is no supreme being) should trump the more complex theory (with a supreme being).”
But now I’d like to take a moment to address specific parts of your asinine and cliché comment. Let’s start with:
“You see everything as evidence that there is no God”
No, we see the fact that there IS NO evidence for God as a pretty damn big sign that there probably is not one. We’re 6’s leaning 7 on the spectrum of theistic probability. When we say “there is no evidence for God’s existence” it is not the same as saying “we have evidence for God’s non-existence” {again, you can’t prove a negative}. Your reasoning in twisting our statements on the matter is fallacious.
“You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen…”
I’ve already explained the error of the “atheists have faith too” argument. What I want to address here is the second half of this statement. If you are referring to evolution when you say “things just happen” please READ A DAMN BOOK on evolution. I don’t have the time nor the patience to lay out for you the science. I don’t particularly feel like banging my head against a wall trying to explain the ridiculousness of the “just happens” argument against evolution when other, much better writers, have already done so {see also The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion}. Or at least start by reading the following:
“And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed.”
Again, non-belief is not the same as belief. I don’t think I need to spell that out a million times but who knows? Maybe I do. But ignoring that issue for a moment…you say I have little patience with people that do not think the way I do. I’m sorry? Do we know you? I didn’t realize you were an authority on how we feel about other people. I can't speak for Adam. But here’s what I don’t have patience for:
  • I don’t have patience for nonsense. I don’t have patience for illogical arguments. I don’t have patience for poorly thought-out comments and assertions that have no evidence. And, on occasion, I lack patience with the people who espouse them as truth, or as world-views on equal footing with those that are based on evidence.
  • I don’t have patience for faiths that require 10% of their adherents income, no matter how poor they may be all while wasting BILLIONS of dollars buying land, building malls, and remodeling perfectly good buildings for their Masonic rip-off rituals. I don’t have patience for faiths that treat women and gays like lesser persons than men but say it’s OK because really, it’s God that is the sexist/hetero-sexist. I don’t have patience for faiths that lie about their history. Would you like me to keep going?
But despite those strong feelings I manage to maintain relationships with people who believe in God. You don’t know me. You don’t know how much patience it takes to keep my mouth shut when my friends say things that make me want to scream. You don’t know how much patience it takes to watch my family and friends sacrifice so much for faiths that abuse their faithfulness and yet be quiet because it’s what they want from me.
You have no idea just how much patience it takes to be a secularist in a religious world without going completely postal. Aside from dealing with trite, apologetic comments like yours, I live in a world where people fight to teach children fairy tales instead of science in our public schools. 48% of Americans openly admit they they would not vote for an atheist. People legislate their bible-based morality instead of making laws that are equitable for all based on evidence and principles of acceptance and fairness. People throw hissy-fits about using the phrase “Happy Holidays” to refer to a season which, in fact, includes several different holidays {including Christmas which was appropriated from a Pagan celebration}. I live in a world in which people expect me to “respect” their beliefs because they are religious in nature, not on their merits. Adults all over the world insist on believing in fairy tales, including the Christian fairytale whose God is a sadistic bastard {read the Bible and tell me a deity who commands genocide and carries out the murder of innocent children isn’t reprehensible}. And on top of all that these same people turn around and say there’s something wrong with US for not believing in their delusion. So don’t presume to tell me about patience. This blog is the one place I don’t have to be patient.
And finally, in regards to your closing statement:
“Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses.” [sic]
I think I have shown that, when it comes to your logic, that is clearly not that case.
Note: Anonymous comments get treated a certain way ‘round here. If you don’t respect your opinion enough to put your name on it, then why should I respect your opinion? I point this out because I want my readers to know that should they want to leave comments I’ll try to play nicely, assuming they’re brave enough to own their words. I say that as a person who, when I was still a believer, DID put my name on my comments when I (and I’m not proud of this) defended Prop H8. I did it, but it terrified me. So I understand why you might not be willing to do the same. I would just like to say that if you’re not willing to link your name with your beliefs on the matter then please ask yourself why that is.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


The following rambling post is written by Adam. Holly would have made it more concise and clear. That's why she gets better grades in English class, I guess.

I recently responded to a facebook status from a TBM friend-of-a-friend that read:

"Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind: which if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything, but upon good reason; and so cannot be opposite to it. He that believes, without having any reason for believing, may be in love with his own fancies; but neither seeks truth as he ought, nor pays the obedience due his maker, who would have him use those discerning faculties he has given him, to keep him out of mistake and error. He that does not this to the best of his power, however he sometimes lights on truth, is in the right but by chance; and I know not whether the luckiness of the accident will excuse the irregularity of his proceeding. This at least is certain, that he must be accountable for whatever mistakes he runs into: whereas he that makes use of of the light and faculties God has given him, and seeks sincerely to discover truth, by those helps and abilities he has, may have this satisfaction in doing his duty as a rational creature,that though he should miss truth, he will not miss the reward of it. For he governs his assent right, and place as he should, who in any case or matter whatsoever, believes or disbelieves, according as reason directs him. He that does otherwise, transgresses against his own light, and misuse those faculties, which were given him to no other end, but to search and follow the clearer evidence, and greater probability." -- John Locke

Now, normally I try to avoid getting into the middle of a TBM's testimonybook, but this time I actually had something to say that wouldn't make me a troll.
So I said:

Great quote! I'd love to pull that one out to stick it to the theists who say I've chosen Logic as my God instead of using faith - they never seem to see that they still have REASONS for deciding what to have faith in!

Which elicited this response from someone else:

I would compare logic to the thought process behind making decisions, and faith to taking action based on those decisions. They complement each other perfectly and both are required to succeed. If you sit in the library all day and do nothing but think the only good you have done is to give the custodian another piece of furniture to dust. If you constantly act without thinking, you give the paramedics a lot to do. God requires and expects us to think, and then to take action of our own free choice.

I found this stance frustrating. By that definition, Atheists and Theists use faith equally. Every day, I reach out my hand and flick the light switch, with full faith that it will turn on the light over head. But is that really what we talk about when we say faith? By using such a broad definition of faith, you've robbed it of its intended meaning.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(I love playing "The Devil quotes scripture"!)

Faith is about things you haven't seen. Really, it's about things you CANNOT see, because if you see it, then it's not faith anymore. So the light switch analogy would only apply to faith if the person had never seen a light, had no understanding of an electric circuit, but had been told that if he moves this piece to this position, a light will appear. That would count as faith.
The next day, when he goes to turn on the light again, it would be something different, because now he has SEEN that turning on the light switch causes the light bulb to illuminate.

Most religious people will tell you that their faith is built on prior experiences, that they have seen the light switch turn on in the past. Really though, they haven't. Ask around. Have any of them ever seen a miracle? Most will tell you yes. Ask the details. Most likely, it was "I felt really horrible and I got a blessing and I felt better", or "I paid my tithing and then even though money was tight somehow we made it through." If we want to match this to our analogy, it would be like turning on the light switch, then seeing if there's any sunlight that day. Chances are, at some point, the sun will shine through their window, making it brighter. They will believe that this was because they turned on the light switch. But there's always the caveat: if they had turned on the switch and light hadn't shone, it's because of God's will (His path for you, or a test of your faith). If they hadn't turned on the light switch and the light had shone anyway, it was God either reminding them to turn the light switch or testing them to see what they would do.

In short, they pay lip service to logic in connecting the dots to point to a conclusion, but the dots are placed arbitrarily based on the expected outcome.

Not long ago my father was trying to get some of his artwork showcased. After 3 or 4 deals fell through, he finally got one gallery to host him. To him, this was a testimony builder - God had lined things up such that he really had to work hard, keep trusting and not give up. But what would have happened if he had been successful on his first try? Well, that would have been a testimony builder, God blessing him for his righteousness. What if he had never succeeded? It would have been God showing him that this was a road he shouldn't pursue (sometimes God leads us down a dead end to show us to go the other way).

And what would have happened if my father weren't a man of faith? Well, with the same artwork, and the same dedication, he would still have had the same results. (I wonder how much effect these things had on the unraveling of my testimony? The blow that shattered the illusion was realizing that if God weren't there, everything would look exactly the same.)

A short while later, my parents were considering buying a new car. The researched that model, they trusted the dealer, all was well and they were very excited - until the day they went to sign the papers. Then Mom got a nervous feeling. She didn't say anything because Dad seemed fine. She tried to ignore it, but it got worse and worse. At the last second, when dad was about to pull out his pen and sign, she pulled him aside. They decided that even though they don't know why, they should follow that prompting of the spirit.
How does this story end? There was no "a week later someone else bought the car and it blew up!" or "a month later we had major financial problems." They never found out why they were "instructed" to not buy the car. But they still sent out an email to the whole family thanking Heavenly Father for His loving guidance. To them, that was a faith promoting experience!

Now, the next time they have a bad feeling and it turns out wrong, they'll draw a line between those two dots and find God. But where was God when they got scammed by the crappy window installer 10 years ago? Where was God with every bad stock they bought? Basically, life is a whole sheet of graph paper. Stuff happens. Sometimes it's random, sometimes it's due to our actions, sometimes it's due to the actions of others.

Logic dictates that we look for patterns, that we try to find cause and effect in the world around us. The scientific process is one where a theory is made based on observations, then future results are predicted based off that pattern. If the results don't match the prediction, the prediction must have been wrong.
Faith is where an event happens, then people assign a supernatural cause. There is only one dot, but they draw a line. Once their line is established, all dots that don't fall on that line are ignored, and many dots that don't hit the line are fudged to make them fit the predetermined pattern.

I think now that my original point was flawed. Initially, I wanted to show that Logic is inherently a part of faith - people use logic to decide what to believe in (otherwise it's just gullibility, not faith). Some people connect the dots of reading the book of Mormon, praying, and feeling the spirit. Some people connect the dots of turning to God and having their lives change. I've even had someone try to convince me that the Bible was unique among all other books by being written over the course of thousands of years, but still containing one consistent message (He obviously hasn't read the whole thing - it's anything but consistent).

I think what I'm seeing now is that Logic does play a role, but it's a very superficial role. While they may use some semblance of logic to connect the dots, it is mysteriously absent during the process of placing those dots.

So maybe I have chosen Logic as my God? So be it. At least I'm sticking to my guns instead of having one foot in each boat.