Sunday, December 30, 2012

Magic Makes Bad Answers

It is truly bizarre that those who continue to push the pro-religion-science compatibility idea don’t get that the point of science is to replace answers that involve magic with ones that don’t. To insist they remain viable is from a mindset that would insist children should never grow up.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Theocratic Branches Of Government

The Gun "Principle"

For the NRA, a group that pushes for the "principle" of gun ownership, this is the post card that needs to be sent whenever someone dies from a bullet. If gun ownership is more important that the people who die from gun use, then those who take that position must be willing to declare it to those who "sacrifice" for the principle. Otherwise, the "principle" is a diversion only meant to try and justify an unjustifiable position.

Giving Guns To The Paranoid

The argument is made that a gun will stop the government from becoming tyrannical, which is nonsense. In addition, who else other than the government would create the "well-regulated militia" that is supposed to be the justification for gun ownership?

We have long since outgrown the need for the Wild West frontier mentality when we were at constant war with Native Americans (which was wrong to begin with) and fed the militia idea. What seems to go along with gun ownership now is paranoia more than anything else, which is a valid reason to be against it, not a justification for it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Magical Virus

The purpose of science is to replace the magic that mistakenly served as a source of answers for so long. For religious believers to insist it still be an option is to make the nonsensical demand that the cure retain the original virus.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Evangelical Prosecutors

When prosecutors fight evidence of exoneration after a conviction has been obtained, it reminds me a lot of how fundamentalist religious believers act toward new scientific evidence. To both of them, it is apparently a virtue to see a past claim as valid even when new evidence clearly and convincingly contradicts it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anti Is A-OK

Some people see a problem with atheism because it's being anti something rather pro something. In response, an analogy might work to help understand--if there is an attack by someone a wielding a baseball bat, it's perfectly okay to be anti people who have weaponized baseball bats without being pro anything else. Anyone can also take a position as anti ancient aliens, board games or car alarms without being pro anything else.

Detached Discoveries

A fact is not dependent on the person who discovered it. For example, if the person(s) who discovered radiation for some reason decided it wasn't real wouldn't have stopped x-rays from being taken or the atomic bomb from exploding. Galileo's recantation under threat of torture didn't put the earth at the center of the universe. 

I think we need to maintain distance between people and their discoveries. Otherwise, we make huge mistakes about what constitutes proof of something.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dictating Documents

It seems to me that we mistakenly treat the dictionary and the constitution in the same manner. Both are records created by us that we then use to dictate to us!

Dictionaries record our use of words (it does not determine definitions for us) and the Constitution is a snap shot of what political leaders thought at one moment in time (it is not an infallible set of timeless instructions).

We keep trying to find a way to fool ourselves into thinking we aren't responsible for ourselves, but it's just an illusion. We are all we have.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Follow The Money

It seems to me that it is normal practice for governments to borrow from the wealthy, promising to pay it back with interest, and taxes everyone else to do so.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Worst Advantage

There is a constant assertion that candidates be "treated equally" by the media. What this does, however, is give an advantage to the worst candidate because if each negative story for one candidate requires another for the opponent, the number of stories is capped at the ones that can be produced on the better candidate.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Silencing Free Speech

It seems to me that when people scream "free speech!" it's likely what they really want is for others to shut up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jobless Demand

This bizarre claim that wealthy people are "job creators" is a bit like claiming hospitals create doctors or jails create inmates. What creates jobs is demand for something by people who can pay for it, and if people don't have money to buy stuff, it is nuts to say that if the wealthy only had more money things would be better.

We live within a system that sees as virtuous paying people as little as possible while at the same time wondering why an economy driven by demand from those same people is broken. Businesses don't hire unless there is a demand for what they're selling--by people with money. Changing policies so that the wealthy have more money does not increase this demand. To ignore this fundamental issue on which capitalism is based is ludicrous.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Prioritizing One's Gods

When people were monotheistic, everyone's gods were just fine--they were all regional and/or tied to a specific group of some kind (tribe, kingdom, etc.) and accepted and even honored when traveling. It's why the first commandment of the pre-monotheistic Hebrews talks about having "no other god before me"--it's simply a command to not let any of the others knock Yahweh from the top spot, not that there aren't any other gods. It's an assurance that the prioritization of gods was always done with Yahweh as the Hebrews' primary deity.

When the monotheistic beliefs arrived on the scene, along with that came the problem of non-uniqueness. If there is only one god, all of the other gods must be fakes. To have anything in common with them would be to destroy the one-god idea. It's a problem that hasn't gone away, as people still argue and kill each other over who's god is real.

Humans suck sometimes.

Unvirtuous Gift

We often treat as a good thing the situation where a person has some sort of innate talent and is able to live on it. Believers call it a "god-given gift" or something similar. Because of this, some people look for this "gift" in hopes of being able to use it to their own benefit in order to "glorify god" or just make life easier.

Whether this idea of in-born talent has some basis in fact or not, to me this type of thinking is similar to wanting to win the lottery in the sense that we want a large reward without any real work being offered. If someone is "naturally" able to do something well, it doesn't strengthen the character when doing it. It's not a bad thing to do so, but it should not be associated with some sort of noble character trait. (It would be like applauding a left-handed person for throwing with their left hand.)

If someone really wants to be applauded for accomplishing something, it should be difficult. A person who develops a skill that is not innate is the one who should be seen as having an improved character.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

One-Breath Debate

How much sense does it really make that so many of us heavily consider live debates to make determinations? Do we really want to support the performance of people who are forced to answer questions quickly with no ability to verify anything first?

To me, this seems odd. I would more easily support someone who gave a reasoned and researched answer, meaning it would take some extra time. I don't like the idea that we choose "winners" based on the ability to answer quickly briefly. Thinking something over and checking facts is automatically discarded as part of the process.

A debate worth considering would be one where the questions were sent ahead of time--even to the general public. Then, the debaters would come together with answers and reference material and challenge each other directly. They should even have access to data via computer that can be used during the debate.

It might not be pretty, but the results would be more likely to be meaningful, I think. IMO, what we have now is useless, other than to shore up the support of those who only want quick answers that can be spouted in a single breath.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jesus Can Never Be Declared "Real"

How much of a story about a person (or event) need be invented or just wrong in order for it to still be seen as about that same person?

We see many claims that there either was or was not a "real" Jesus, for example. The stories about early Christianity, Biblical or not, have the Jesus character at their core, of course. The stories vary in detail, even directly conflict one another. Because of this, the claim of a single "real" Jesus gets rightfully attacked as tough to prove.

But, we may not even need to make that kind of investigation. The stories about anyone's life will be mis-told, even by those who were closest to the person, including witnesses. When retold, especially by excited strangers with an agenda, embellishments get added, facts are distorted or dropped, and times and places get changed.

What if the "real" Jesus was a bland, average figure who became locally famous for a single incident that happened at just the right time and under just the right circumstances to be the catalyst for a self-replicating behemoth of a tale? Maybe there was a Jesus character who did, for example, overturn the tax collectors' tables. If done at just the right moment, that could bring a person some notoriety.

Because of the way rumors and gossip feed a story and take it in all kinds of baseless directions, this incident could have been that kind of catalyst. If you play along with me and assume for a moment this was the case, can the story we know today about the NT Jesus actually be considered to be based on a real person? How much of a story need be false to claim the central figure is fiction? Is a story that is 99% add-ons to a single incident still talking about a real person?

In a recent example, look at the Trayvon Martin case. It took no time at all for a plethora of stories to be developed about both main players from this single incident. If this had taken place before today's technology to capture voice and video, the stories about each would be even more distorted than is currently the case. Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyon, and Daniel Boone are figures from American folklore who also became distorted representations of their "real" selves. Can we truly say they are about "real" people?

This may be a philosophical question, but one of importance, I think. At some point, there is no real character any longer because the stories contain way more falsehoods than facts. In addition, sometimes stories that did actually happen get added to a growing story about someone else.

For me, the question about whether there was a "real" Jesus is a nonsequitur because the stories we know today could have developed from a relatively unimportant single incident committed by anyone--and there's no guarantee that incident was captured correctly by its original source (whatever it is). All the effort people put into trying to claim the NT Jesus was real or not real is simply a waste of time, in my opinion, because the answer can never be yes due to the nature of human story development in the ancient (and in many cases, modern) world.

Friday, April 20, 2012

More Than Feelings

Because a thought or state of mind is deemed pleasant doesn't mean the claimed cause has been verified.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Capital Respect

For Christians who get offended when nonbelievers don't capitalize god, him and his, ask why they don't put PBUH after Muhammad and they'll understand why we don't do either of those things.

Never A Consensus

It is likely that no assertion by an adherent of any religion has been agreed upon by the rest.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Stand Your Ground" For Pregnant Women

I usually don't address the whole abortion thing because it's not usually in the scope of things I address. But, this Trayvon Martin case has caused me to think of something I thought I would share.

For people who are in favor of the self-defense/stand your ground point (to any degree), can't the same logic be used in states where a fetus is declared a person? If the fetus is legally a person, it would be legally consistent to assert that, at least in some cases, the woman carrying the fetus could be considered under attack, especially in the case of "risky" pregnancies. Legally, then, it would seem as permissible for the woman to protect herself from the fetus she's carrying by aborting it.

I don't know if the people on the Religious Right have considered this result of their push for the "personhood" bills, as they're called. But it seems to me they're in a pickle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reason Rally Reveals The Need For It

This has been one amazing weekend.

I was able to meet an incredible number of awesome people while working at the Reason Rally, my office's pre-rally reception and the American Atheists convention. Because I was working, I didn't actually get to see very much of the activity everyone else came to enjoy. But, I was able to talk with way more people than I would otherwise have been able to. So, I think overall it was a fair trade-off.

There is something special about being among such a large number of people who have given up the attachments so many have for the myths that have held us back for so very long. The few protestors who came around seemed even more like an odd human anomaly than usual. Imagining how so many among their ranks can actually get into political office takes my mind on a ride even more bizarre than before.

Because I have ended up seeing things this way, the eye-opening nature of the weekend has a small bit of regret mixed in with a heaping amount of joy. I hate the idea that I can see so many human beings as dangerous oddballs; something just doesn't seem "right" about it because it makes it harder to live together. However, I do know that the need to keep up the fight against religion getting control of society is paramount. We can only be so nice before attitudes need to change in order to stop us from getting dragged into a theocracy that would have no chance of being anything other than pure evil.

One of the things I think that separates us from them is that they seem happy to take up the fight in favor of ancient myths and superstitions and many of us are pissed that we have to fight for a nurturing, fact-based society that sees a future in embracing new discoveries over ancient hallucinations. It makes the fight seem all the more peculiar and unnatural.

The Confused Sheep

I find it confusing that Christians will proudly state "The Lord is My Shepard" then get insulted when they are compared to sheep.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Holy Water Can't Be Avoided

For believers all water on the planet should by now be seen as holy. Given that all the water on the planet gets recycled, "unholy" water shouldn't exist any longer. Given the number of times a subset of the planet's water has been "blessed"--millions of times, at least--there is likely no remaining collection of water that doesn't contain at least some "blessed" molecules. Now, unless believers want to assert that there is value in the number of blessed molecules within any temporary collection of them, there should be no need to bless any more water ever again.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Too Soon To Stop

How similar are these things?

1) We stop looking for something once we've found it (used for the badly worded phrase "it was in the last place I looked").

2) Stop looking for an answer when we find something that confirms what we already hold to be true. In other words, when we found what we're looking for, we stop, just like in #1.

It seems to me that we humans have a tendency to stop looking both when it's proper and when it's not by unknowingly and mistakenly treating these scenarios like they are the same. It's likely more complicated, of course, but there might be something there to consider.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shrinking Degrees of Separation

One of the largely unnoticed side-effects of a shrinking number of people with increasing wealth is that true competition goes away because they can't help but know each other. It would be a near impossibility for a small group of ultra-rich people to have next-to-no degrees of separation (not withstanding Kevin Bacon).

In a society like this, every medium-to-major transaction is always going to be an 'inside job.' It's not possible for it to be otherwise.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Both zooming in and zooming out allows you to see more.