Sunday, 28 October 2012

Top Five Reasons People Are Leaving Faith

These are my top five reasons why there is such a massive increase in agnosticism and outright disbelief in gods at present.

You may of course have different ones...

  1. Behaviour of believers.
    • Access to news
has shown people how religion gives excuses to believers to act in ways which could not be excused any other way. Religion is behind most regional conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Sudan, the Middle East, India/Pakistan, the Philippines and the developing religious tension in parts of Western Europe. International terrorism is now almost entirely religiously.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Law For Creationists

A great deal of Creationism depends on people misunderstanding simple words, which is why the most lucrative market for those who peddle creationism for a living is to be found in the less well educated parts of the world, and why the creationist package includes a mistrust of education and an admiration for ignorance as part of the deal.

An example of this can be found daily in the social media where the term 'theory' is assiduously and carefully 'misunderstood' in it's scientific context and given it's lay meaning. This helps creationists dismiss science as merely guesswork and claim wrongly that the Theory of Evolution therefore does not have any supporting evidence.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Why Religion Is For Bird Brains

If you're wondering why religious people love rituals, the answer can be found in an experiment involving birds - pigeons to be exact.

The great Harvard Professor of Psychology, B.F.Skinner showed how pigeons become religious when given random rewards that have nothing to do with their behaviour.

This was a spin-off from the experiments on 'operant conditioning' where he showed how pigeons can be trained to carry out an action by associating it with a reward. For example, pigeons can be trained to peck a green light if they get a pellet of food every time they do so. Skinner wondered what would happen if the reward was completely dissociated from their actions.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Religion Kills [Updated]

Massacre of the Innocence, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565
One of the great lies religious people tell is that religion is a force for peace; that without religion there would be no morality and nothing to stop people rushing around killing one another. Like so many other claims made by religious people the facts directly contradict the claim.

Here is a list of religion-inspired massacres, i.e. a single event of mass killing inspired by religion or specifically of followers of a different religion, often merely a different sect of the same religion as the killers.

This is a work in progress, and probably always will be, as there will probably never cease to be excuses for religious massacres.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Birth Of Jesus - Southern Version

This is interesting. There seem to be three different accounts of the impregnation of Mary and the birth of Jesus; two Christian ones in the Bible and a Muslim one in the Qur'an. The weird thing is, the then recently-converted Christian King of Abyssinia thought the Muslim one was the authentic version!

What's maybe even more weird is that none of them bear more than a passing resemblance to one another.

First, the Bible versions:

Version 1


And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Heavenly Peace Of Jesus

Hong Xiuquan
An interesting BBC Radio 4 program a couple of days ago on the "Taiping Rebellion" in Southern China, 1850-1864. What made my ears prick up was the fact that this rebellion was lead by a fundamentalist Christian zealot.

I'll come on to him later; first a little background:

At the time of the rebellion, China was ruled by the Manchurian Quing Dynasty which was regarded as foreign by the Han Chinese. The Manchus had invaded China from the north east in 1644 taking advantage of the disarray following the collapse of the Ming Dynasty during a peasants' revolt in Beijing.

China, under the Qing Dynasty in the mid-19th century, suffered a series of natural disasters, economic problems and defeats at the hands of the Western powers; in particular, the humiliating defeat in 1842 by the United Kingdom in the First Opium War. The Qing government, led by ethnic Manchus, were seen by much of the Chinese population, who were mainly Han Chinese, as an ineffective and corrupt foreign regime. Anti-Manchu sentiment was strongest in the south among the laboring classes and it was these disaffected who flocked to join the charismatic leader Hong Xiuquan, a member of the Hakka community, a Han-Chinese sub-group that inhabited southern China but traced their ancestries back to northerners in the Song Dynasty. Having arrived too late to acquire the best land, they were engaged in constant conflicts.5 Among these serious problems were the prevalence of female infanticide, creating massive imbalances with shortages of women being worst in the primary Taiping centers.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Why Science Is Right And Religions Are Wrong

Interesting Huffington Post poll out today. More Believe In Space Aliens Than In God According To U.K. Survey.

Some of the reason given for belief in aliens were absurd, of course, but, in contrast to a belief in gods, there is sound logical argument for thinking that life, and thereby possibly intelligent life, would exist elsewhere in the universe.

The maths is relatively simple: leaving aside Earth, there are so many, maybe half a trillion, galaxies in the universe, each with somewhere around a trillion stars, that the probability of several, maybe very many, stars having a planet on which life evolved approaches certainty.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Even Christians Have To Obey The Law.

Excellent news today from Reading Crown Court where a Christian couple have been ordered to pay compensation to a gay couple whom they had discriminated against in 2010, using their superstition as the pretext for their bullying and denial of basic human rights by refusing to supply them with hotel services on the grounds of their sexuality. See BBC News - Gay couple win Berkshire B&B refusal case.

This case follows an almost identical one in Bristol which resulted in damages being awarded to a gay couple who had been similarly victimised by the Christian owners of a Bed & Breakfast Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, in 2008. The case was upheld by the Court of Appeal last February. The message from these landmark cases should be crystal clear to Christians, and indeed any other religious minorities seeking to impose their bigotry on the rest of us.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What God Thinks Of Disabled People

Are you disabled in any way? Do you have even the smallest blemish? A mole or a birthmark maybe? Do you know anyone who is? A friend or relative? That girl or boy down the street with a squint? Even just a little bit disabled? How about that lame man or that woman with a harelip or someone needing to wear spectacles?

In fact, given that no one is perfect, doesn't everyone have a defect of some sort?

Here's what the Christian god thinks of imperfect people:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Unintelligently Designed Creationists

You have to pity Creationists. If only they would (or should that be 'could'?) think things through!

I blame the leaders of this money-making industry and right-wing political control cult; people like Ken Ham, Duane Gish, Kent Hovind, Michael Behe and William Dembski who feed off these unfortunate victims in return for worthless pseudo-scientific pap, and so release them ill-prepared in terms of reasoning ability and facts, onto the Internet to try to push their lost cause to people who actually understand biological science, as though that was ever going to be remotely possible. It almost constitutes child abuse, even for the chronologically adult Creationist children.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

How Christians Lie To Us - Fact And Fiction

This is the second and last blog dealing with Christopher Hitchens' book "The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice". In the first ("How Christians Lie To Us - Birth Of A Myth") I used Hitch's description of how Malcolm Muggeridge invented the Mother Teresa of Calcutta myth almost out of thin air to illustrate how (mythical) sanctity and 'miracles' can be created almost at will for a credulous audience eager for such things.

In this one, I'll use the testimonies of those who witnessed Mother Teresa and her 'Missionaries of Charity' at work to contrast the reality with the myth of tender, loving care for the needs of the sick and dying which the Catholic Church and much of the uncritical media have assiduously manufactured.

How Christians Lie To Us - Birth Of A Myth

Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Reading Christopher Hitchins' book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice I came across this wonderful example of how both the myth of a miracle and the myth of sainthood are produced by cynical self-interest and a cavalier approach to truth, honesty and intellectual integrity.

The origin of the Mother Teresa of Calcutta myth can be traced back to a 1969 TV documentary and a 1971 book, both entitled Something Beautiful For God by Malcolm Muggeridge, a pseudo-intellectual convert to Catholicism. Muggeridge had started out as a left of centre satirist but had moved later in life to be a right wing fundamentalist moraliser who, as part of Mary Whitehouse's self-appointed cabal of Christian bigots, had tried to get banned, amongst many other things, The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour on the grounds that it contained the words "Pornographic priestess; boy, you've been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down".

As we said at the time, Muggeridge was all for a liberal attitude to sex - until he got too old for it himself.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Time To Vote For The Darwin Creationist Twit Award

So the final list of candidates is now complete, albeit with one late entry which was too good to be left out.

Vote by commenting below. By all means canvass for your candidate but only one person, one vote please.

Note to candidates: You should not vote as your vote will not count for yourself but trying to do so might well improve your chances of winning by showing people you think the award is an honour.

Remember, folks, the award if for the best candidate who by a tweet so outstandingly moronic that it helps to reduce the meme of creationism in the human meme pool.

There are 20 outstanding candidates:

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Christians! Should You Be Reading This?

From a true-believing Christian's point of view, reading and learning about anything but the Bible is to be avoided. The problem is, it can lead to 'knowledge', the acquisition of which was the original sin for which Christians say we all need to beg God's forgiveness and for which he supposedly sacrificed his son in a bizarre, barbaric blood sacrifice ritual which no one at the time seems to have noticed and of which no one now seems to be able to explain the mechanism.

This time it's mostly in the New Testaments where the Bible shows it's real hostility towards learning and the acquisition of wisdom. Paul particularly, and perhaps understandably so, seems especially worried in his epistles that people are going to learn stuff which might make them question rather than just accept his authority on things.

Do You Agree With God About Slavery?

If you're a humanist and/or an atheist you'll have no doubt at all: abolition of slavery was one of the great social advances and righted a monstrous and hideous wrong. But, if you're a Christian who looks to the Bible for your morals, and you agree with us that slavery was wrong, perhaps you should think again. You either have to believe you have higher moral standards that the people who wrote the Bible, or you believe there is nothing wrong with slavery.

The first thing to point out is, there is not a hint of condemnation of slavery anywhere in the Bible. Throughout the Old and New Testaments there is nothing but acceptance of slavery as a perfectly normal part of everyday life; something that doesn't raise the slightest concern or a hint of a moral qualm. There are even instructions on how to treat slaves, when and how to kill or beat them, who you can own, etc.

In the Bible, slaves are not even regarded as human beings. Take these two passages:

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

So You Think You're A Christian?

Bible warning sticker.
It's a constant source of amazement and amusement how so many people claim to be Christians whilst acting like anything but a Christian. For example, in Women. Are You Free Or Christian? I showed Christian women should see themselves and behave according to the Bible and the founding fathers of their religion. In this blog, let's look at the way good Christian parents should be treating their children, again according to the Bible and some well-known apologists for Christianity.

Firstly, a warning. Almost all of what the Bible tells you to do to and with your children is very probably illegal, especially if you live in a civilised society. Under no circumstances should you do the things the Bible tells a good Christian parent to do in respect of your children. The least you could expect would be to have them taken into care.

Here goes:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Women. Are You Free Or Christian?

For some reason, good Christian women seem to be abandoning their faith in droves. In fact, it's hard nowadays to find a woman who still holds to her proclaimed Christian faith. Even nuns would probably recoil in horror at the suggestion that they should still believe what their faith tells them they should believe.

The problem is, they're either too afraid to admit they've left their faith, or they don't actually realise they've done so, probably because so few of them read the Bible and no preacher is going to tell them the truth, least of all a male one.

Here's a short list of what Christian women are supposed to believe. Let's see how many actually do believe it. Shout out in the comments section if you're a Christian woman and actually believe any of the following, which I've numbered for ease of reference:

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Whatever Possesses Religious People?

Firstly, religion isn't possession. That idea comes from old superstitions which had demons everywhere, taking over people's bodies and even giving them strange magical powers. Thankfully, all but the most primitive religions no longer seem to push that aspect of their faith even though their holy book may be full of it.

The better question is: what motivates religious people? What are the psychological causes of religion and religiosity?

A few days ago I showed in "Why Religious People Are So Atheistic" how, for the most part, religious people behave exactly like perfectly normal Atheists save for a small over-head of additional effort, a little delay for praying here and there before acting, maybe a trip to a special place of collective worship on special days or times according to the particular superstition being subscribed to, and all for no appreciable tangible benefits in terms of normal, everyday living.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Come On! The Bible's Forgers Weren't THAT Bad.

I have to take issue here with an unjustified criticism of Christian fundamentalism. As regular readers will know, I am always scrupulously fair on Creationists.

I found this unwarranted parody of Christian Creationist belief by Tom Weller, author of Science Made Stupid: How to Discomprehend the World Around Us, winner of the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book. It was quoted in The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound by Jack Huberman.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

An Easy One For Christians & Muslims

This should be an easy one for Christians and Muslims who both believe in a Hell where Satan lives and gets our souls to torture for eternity in unimaginably horribly ways.

The story goes that God, ever the narcissist, created angels so they could worship and adore him, but, so that they could do so in all sincerity and not just as pre-programmed automatons, he gave them free will too.

For some reason, Satan wasn't convinced by his creator's majesty and perfection and, like an up and coming young ape, or a young would-be tribal leader of Bronze Age hunter-gatherers, he challenged the old silver-backed alpha male, lost, and so was chucked out of Heaven for eternity. It's not clear why he wasn't convinced by a perfect god or why this god created him in the first place when, being omniscient, he knew all along what was going to happen. Nor is it at all clear why this god can't forgive Satan and so end evil, but let's run with the story and not get bogged down too much by its absurdities.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

All Arguments For God Refute God

You have to pity religious people who get their religion from a book.

Consider the following statements:

All the evidence for [favourite god] is in [favourite holy book] which is the word of [favourite god].

Well, that isn't much good because no holy book has ever managed to convince anything like a majority of people so it can't have been written by an omniscient god. Besides, it should be manifestly obvious to anyone that no book or mere piece of writing can be proof of its own truth, not even when it claims it is, otherwise anyone could create truth merely by writing it down and saying it's true. For example, this blog is all true because I said so and I should know, I created it. Convinced?

So, no holy book alone can be proof of a god.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Why Religious People Behave Like Atheists

In just about every way that matters in everyday life, religious people behave just the way Atheists do. To watch them, you would be hard-pressed to know if they are real Atheists or not.

Take, for instance, crossing a road. You will never see a religious person standing at the roadside praying for the road to be clear, then just stepping out into the traffic secure in the knowledge that their god has stopped the traffic and made it safe for them to cross. Instead, they behave exactly like an Atheist would.

They check first and wait for a safe gap, or wait for the lights to change. They even behave like Atheists and bet their life on the absence of evidence being evidence of absence just as Atheists do with cars and gods - which is why Pascal's Wager fails to work on people who aren't already afraid of a god.
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