F Rosa Rubicondior: June 2011

Wednesday 29 June 2011

The Light of Reason.

Like nearly all children of my generation in the UK, I was brought up as an Anglican. My maternal grandfather was a fundamentalist Christian and church warden who had raised a family of 12 children and had taught them all to ‘fear god’.

My mother dutifully went to church on Sunday and sent us to Sunday school where we were taught about baby Jesus and sang hymns like 'All Things Bright and Beautiful', which told us God has created us in our place (i.e. as rural working people at the bottom of the social ladder - but at least we weren't black like those unfortunate sub-human African and Asian people).

All we had to do to get to Heaven when we died, was to know our place, to work hard for our masters and betters and say sorry to God for being such awful sinners. If we were very lucky, God would forgive us and we could go and join baby Jesus.

But I learned to read.

I read anything and everything. I read every book in the house, including anything about nature – animals, birds, plants, fish – you name it I read about it if I could. I asked for books on birds for my birthday.

And I read 'history'.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Fundamentalists Have a Problem With Numbers

Just when you thought they couldn’t get more moronic, theists prove you wrong. In just two days now I had the numbers argument thrown at me, apparently in the belief that I’m going to be stupid enough to find it convincing and start worshipping some evidence-free sky pixies or other and taking some ancient texts written by primitive people as the source of all truth.

Briefly, the numbers argument goes, "My god must be real because X number of people believe in it."

In the last two days this has been given to me as a reason to believe both in Islam and Christianity. On one occasion a few months ago, astoundingly, I was told Christianity must be true because a few million Chinese believe in Jesus, conveniently ignoring that some 98% of them don't. Obviously, whilst a few million Chinese can't be wrong, well over a billion of them can be and most definitely are.

But let's look at the numbers argument for a moment.

No known religion has ever been believed by a majority of the world's people, but how does the number of believers in an idea determine whether that idea is right or wrong? Answer: it doesn't. An idea is either true or false. It matters not one tittle nor jot how many people believe it.

Fundamentalists would have us believe that, somehow, an idea becomes more right as more people believe it, including their gods, it would seem. And, when no one believes in it, an idea or a god is false.

Taking this to its logical conclusion, Christianity was false before Jesus said anything about it and Islam was false before Mohammed believed it. At that point of course, Buddhism and Hinduism were the most right religions because they had the most followers. Northern European pagan religions were also fairly right, but not as right as Hinduism and Buddhism.

At some point in history, as more and more people were persuaded to believe these, then false, religions, the number reached some threshold at which point they became true and both Allah and Yahweh came into existence. That would appear to be what the fundamentalists believe at any rate.

Maybe this works on a geographical basis. One Christian told me that "Over 90% of Americans believe in Jesus". Leaving aside the traditional exaggeration (to be charitable) in that figure, what has that got to do with anything? Presumably Christianity is 90% right in America? If that works then, in UK where now only 36% call themselves Christian and 51% say they have no religion, Christianity is only 36% right (and 64% false).

In my household, all religions are 100% false on that basis.

Just imagine if science proceeded on the basis of opinion polls conducted amongst people who had been indoctrinated from birth to only believe this or that theory. We would still be in the scientific Bronze Age, which is precisely where religions are today.

Yep! That’s fundamentalist logic there folks.

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Sunday 19 June 2011

The Daft Things People Believe

Imagine. You're walking down Main Street one day and you bump into man who is talking to the people in the street as though they're a public meeting. Because you have nothing better to do you slip him some spare change for a drink and get into conversation with him.

He tells you he has come with a special message to the world. Everyone is in mortal danger and only by following him can they be saved.

You decide to humour him a little and ask him how he knows this and what makes him think he’s a messenger.

He tells you his mother was a virgin.

“Okay”, you think. “Let’s see where this is going”. You ask him about this mortal danger that we're all in.

“It's my father.” He explains. “He has something especially unpleasant prepared for you and only I can set you free from it."

“Er... I thought you said your mother was a virgin! How does that square with having a cruel and threatening father?"

“That’s not the point! My mother was a virgin because I’m pure so she mustT have been. Anyway, my father is invisible and doesn't live on Earth. He didn't make her pregnant in the normal way. She saw a man with wings and he told her she was pregnant."

"And another thing! My father isn't cruel. He’s only like that because he loves you. You wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for him!”

Dilemma: should you cross over to the other side of the street out of harm’s way, or should you stay with him to look after him until something can be done for him?

Extraordinary to think that, before we understood mental illness, people used to think this condition was caused by magical beings living inside you. A few people still think that way, apparently.

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Is There Anything More Bizarre Than Religion?

President of the National Academy of Fairy Tales
Imagine a world in which the President of a national Academy of Science issues a statement that the truth about the origin of the universe has been revealed to him. It DID originate as a singularity in a black hole from another universe and this is now the official position of the Academy.

Furthermore, since this is revealed truth, no evidence will be presented as none is needed. Revelation is enough and transcends any need for evidence. There will now be no further controversies in science since all remaining issues will be resolved by the President meditating on the matter and he will announce his revelations in due course.

Henceforth, all true scientists will meet in laboratories every Sunday morning and will declare their adherence to the Academy’s edicts on this and any other matter and will be told this week’s revelations. These meeting are to be conducted by heads of departments who will wear robes appropriate to their rank and dignity.  The audience will listen quietly and respectfully.  No discussion or disagreement is to be permitted.

Any disagreement will result in expulsion from the Academy and heretics will be forbidden from practicing science or associating with any scientists.

Furthermore, the President is now to press for an urgent meeting with senior politicians, legislators and judges to demand that he now be consulted on all matters of public policy which must receive his personal approval before becoming law.  All areas of government, including the military, policing, welfare and education are to be subject to oversight by the Academy.

What a truly bizarre world that would be.

In reality, of course, such a person would be swiftly removed from his post and, in a civilized society, would receive the psychiatric support and medication needed.

Why then does religion operate in just this way?

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Monday 13 June 2011

Inspiring Words

Christopher Hitchens.

Stephen Fry (Part 1).

Stephen Fry (Part 2).

10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Should Answer.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Christian Morality

No doubt they'll tell you these weren't 'real Christians' either.

Remember, if you're a closet Atheist living in a Christian community and afraid to stand up for what you really believe, you're pretending to be a member of a faith which not only does this to children but will do almost anything to keep the truth from being known.

Soon after this scandal broke, non-belief rocketed in the once staunchly Catholic Republic of Ireland. The Catholic Church is now finding it difficult to recruit Irish men into the priesthood and Enda Kenny, Taoiseach of Dáil Éireann (Dublin Parliament) received wide acclaim for a devastating attack on the Church's leadership.

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Thursday 9 June 2011

Impotence Of Undetectable Gods

If a god can’t be detected by science, it is utterly impotent. There is no escaping this. An undetectable god is indistinguishable from a non-existent god.

Firstly, how does science detect anything?

At its simplest level, science detects the effect of something by measuring or observing its effect on something else. For example:
  • We know how much electricity is flowing through a conductor because of the effect it has on a voltmeter - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage
  • We know about gravity by measuring how objects move in a gravity field.
  • We know about photons by measuring the effect they have on photo-sensitive chemicals or photo-electric plates.
  • We know how hot water is by measuring how much the heat expands a column of mercury, a metal bar, how it changes resistance of an electrical conductor, etc.
  • We know about wind-speed by measuring how quickly it rotates a wind-speed detector or anemometer.

Try this for yourself. Can you think of anything science can detect which doesn’t depend on detecting its effect on something else?

In other words, to be detectable by science, something must exert an effect, and to exert an effect on anything means that that effect can be measured. Therefore, anything which cannot be detected cannot possibly be influencing or changing anything in any way, otherwise we could measure it.

An undetectable god is an impotent god and is indistinguishable from a non-existent one. Such a god would be utterly incapable of communicating anything or of creating anything. A universe in which such a god, or gods, exists would be indistinguishable from one with no gods whatsoever.

So, theists, when you use the ‘undetectable by science’ excuse for your god, you are actually telling us your god is utterly impotent. (Tweet this)

So, if your god isn’t impotent, why can’t it be detected?

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Tuesday 7 June 2011

Eric Hovind's Very Silly Questions

I'm not sure who they're aimed at - not people of normal intelligence, that's for sure - but these astoundingly facile questions are what Eric Hovind believes are killer knock-down questions for non-Christians. (Apparently Eric is either genuinely unaware that other religions offer answers to all these, or is feigning ignorance and relying on his target audience's ignorance to get away with it).

Eric is the son and chief acolyte of his father, the notorious liar and grifter, Kent Hovind, and was caretaker of the family 'business' while Kent was serving jail time for tax fraud and again for a violent assault on his former wife. Little Eric seems to be very much a chip off the old block-head

He is ignorant of, or is feigning ignorance of, the answers to several of these questions which can be found by a moment's search on the Internet, or by going to a decent reference library or any good bookshop.

The originals can be seen here: http://www.drdino.com/questions-science-cant-answer/. In the best traditions of the snake-oil peddler, they are nothing more than the God of the Gaps, gotcha! questions where the target marks are expected to not realise they are nothing more than the argument from ignorant incredulity combined with the false dichotomy fallacy. Eric assumes the targets can be relied on to assume, if science hasn't answered something, science won't ever answer it, so, since the only alternative is "God did it!", that wins by default. This saves the fraud the trouble of producing any evidence to support his/her contention, and taps into the parochial ignorance, scientific illiteracy and cultural chauvinism of his target audience.

This is the hallmark of the dishonest, intellectually bankrupt creationist apologist.
Let's take a look at them (in red)

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