Sunday, November 29, 2009

GHASP! Sex is Good for You!

I stumbled upon several reasons that sex is good for you (like you needed any convincing... actually, on second thought... the abstinence only Christians probably do)

1 Less heart attacks and strokes
2 Lowers blood pressure and stress
3 Reduces depression
4 prevents osteoporosis
5 Keeps colds and flu at bay
6 Prevents prostate cancer
7 Relieves headaches
8 Improves sleep
9 Keeps you fit
10 Prevents incontinence

read the full article here for explanations on how and why.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Overcoming Adversity Through Dance

Greg Mozgala is a 31 year old man with Cerebral Palsy. This story particularly touches me, as I also have CP, albeit a rather non-severe case. Anyway... he went through 12 years of therapy, and it did not do enough. he walked with a severe gait for years. 8 months of dancing has nearly removed the gait entirely. This amazes me! There was one thing that got my attention however:

"She introduced Mr. Mozgala to a tension-releasing shaking technique, and it was immediately revelatory."

I want to know what this technique is. I could potentially use it to help my Cerebral Palsy. Does anyone know?

via New York Times

Monday, November 23, 2009

Using Faith To Push Choices of an Elected Official

In a post over at Friendly Atheist, I saw that Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat Representative from Rhode Island, has been barred from taking communion at his church. Apparently his support for abortion rights as a public official make him an unfit Catholic. The act of preventing him from taking communion is pressuring his political position with denying him a holy sacrament. A tax exempt organization should not be allowed to politically pressure(they are not technically allowed, but as is so common, religious privilege gets in the way of justice). I hope this story gets accurately picked up by the media, and the Catholic church is held under criticism for these actions.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Facebook Fan Page!

Just created a Facebook fan page for this blog!

I figure it will be an easier way for many people to keep up with the blog, and make sharing easier.

Churching an Atheist: Respect Your Leaders

Church was interesting today. When I got there, I had a discussion with a member of the church named John. We had a civil discussion on why I don't believe. I explained that I had began an inquiry into other points of view, because only hearing one point of view doesn't allow one to hear a dissenting opinion and see if they could be wrong. He was one of the very few Christians(I could count the number on one hand) that have agreed with that. The rest have said something to the tune of "that is dangerous" or that it is from Satan. Then again, I expected such an intelligent response from him. he is a brilliant man.

The sermon was given by Robert, my personal favorite of the people on the sermon rotation(possibly because he is a bit of a geek like me). It was over the point that we should respect our leaders, but not revere them to the point where their actions are what makes ones belief in god. He makes the point that they deserve respect for being a leader, and because they were appointed by god. I disagree, because a leader deserves no inherent respect just for being a leader. They deserve the respect that is given to any human being, and earn or lose it based upon their actions thereafter. And to say they were picked by god seems rather foolish. I don't think he would accept the priests who use their position as a tool to rape children was chosen by god. He does, however, make the valid point that being a leader puts you in a spotlight that practically begs you to be attacked. Finding fault with the guy who is visible is much easier. Just look in a tabloid to see how true that is. He makes the point that we shouldn't nitpick on the things we see as a problem with our leaders. I agree that we should not nitpick and gripe over every little thing we hold as a problem, but we also should not discard any potential serious issues on the fear of being 'nitpicky.' He then transitioned into the point that we should not revere our leaders to the point where we do not think for ourself. This is very true, and common of many people. Blindly accepting what your pastor says, or what Glenn Beck says, or Keith Olbermann, or Obama, or Richard Dawkins is a stupidly ignorant act. Inquire for yourselves, and do not blindly accept what you are told. He gave a brief history on how for over a thousand years no one other than the priests had access to the bible, so they couldn't examine it themselves. He made the point that many people feel they do not need to read the bible, because they have the preacher to explain it for them.

Class was largely uneventful. It was over chapter 3 of 1st Corinthians. The only interesting thing was a comment. John, the speaker, and the same one I talked to before class, made the comment that if people are too hardline in their beliefs, they can become incapable of changing their viewpoint. If new evidences are presented to them, they will either try to incorporate it in what they already believe, or throw it out. I immediately thought "Isn't that what fundamentalist Christians do in regard to evolution?" I did not say this, because I learned last time that such things are not tolerated. There were a few other comments, but I cant quite remember them exactly, and I don't want to paraphrase wrong and make anyone look unduly bad.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great Quote From a Friend

My friend Dave said this to me a few minutes ago, and I felt it was great, worth posting for sure.

"God has no moral basis, allowing the corrupt to prosper. While those with dignity and morality are left to defend themselves against odds far beyond what should be faced. Those who do not see this are either blind or too naive to acknowledge reality for how it truly functions. May he be held responsible for the lives that he has failed to save and those he's embellished, who are not worthy.  If I am doomed to hell through his flawed judgement, so be it. I will no longer shake upon the thought."

Are Religious Visitors Questioning Their Belief?

I read a fascinating post at Greta Christina's blog. In it, the case is made that many religious visitors to atheist blogs are looking for someone to challenge their belief so that it can be tested, to see if it is really rational to believe what they do. I can say I was that way. It wasn't blogs for me, but books. I read The God Delusion because I felt it was foolish to only hear the church's side of things. I felt that if I was in an isolated bubble from other arguments, my faith was falsely propped up. It was looking into a lack of belief that was a stepping stone to atheism.

I agree that we need to be patient with the religious believers, because they may be honestly looking for other ideas. If they spout stupid fallacies, such as that atheists have no moral basis, or that since we can't prove with certainty, we can go ahead and just assume god, then we have to be patient with them. This is all they get at church. If they are serious about expanding their knowledge and looking at other viewpoints, then patiently explaining the flaws in their argument may help them. Now, if they start ignoring or insulting you repeatedly, they are probably a troll, so feel free to ignore them, or, if it is your blog, block them.

What do you think? Are many of the religious people on the blogs sincere, or just trolls?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

5 Tribal Stages of Atheism

I read the following at Andrea_TheNerd and had to post it here:

1. Atheist finds herself in a world dominated by religion (often Christianity or Islam). Shefeels alone and misunderstood and often angry at her circumstances, and seeks out similar people for protection and companionship.

2. Atheist forms a protectionist bubble around himself (into which only similar-minded people are allowed), from which he can sit and pass judgment on everyone outside it. He doesn't want to step outside his bubble to enact change, he simply wants the Powers That Be to leave him alone. [Edit: or as one commenter put it: I know what I think, and f- you all.]

3. Atheist sets out to struggle with what she sees as the force of opposition. She prefers to work on her own in this, seeing "winning" each encounter with a theist as a personal goal for herself to achieve. She is easily disappointed by the perceived lack of competence in other atheists at similar encounters with theists.

4. Atheist is motivated to join up with other atheists to act as a social force against the religious majority. He'll often donate his time and money to political organizations focused on separation of church and state, and attempt to motivate less passionate atheists to join his cause.

5. Atheist sees her atheism as part of the greater good of humanity. She is less concerned about personal survival or winning against an opponent, but instead focuses on personal fulfillment and communal harmony in a world without any gods.

Im not sure where I am on this scale. Thoughts?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Violence and Video Games

Just thought I'd post this. It speaks a great amount of truth.  Just because I have been playing violent games since I was 4 doesn't make me a maniac.

Looks like I Won't be Going to Skepticon

My stepdad is not allowing me to drive there. So unless one of my readers knows someone In the Kansas City MO area, or someone who will be passing through here on their way, I won't be able to go.

Belief Without Evidence

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." - John 20:29

This verse has always troubled me. It is saying that it is a virtue to believe in the absence of evidence. This makes me fear that there is nothing we can do to combat the religious nutballs. Regardless of the evidence we bring, they will just go "Nope! I have faith!" I will never understand how someone can go 'There is zero evidence for my claim (there is even evidence against it) but I will believe it anyway!'

Is there anything we can do to reach people like this?

PS - Sorry for the lack of a 'Churching an Atheist' post yesterday. My mom did't wake me for church. I suspect that was deliberate, because of my actions last week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

God is into Porn!


A Christian Doing Good

I often rail on Christians for doing evil things, but not all of them suck. Case in point: Pastor Joel Miller is fasting for 30 days to raise 30,000 cans for a local food bank. That is amazing! I was only ever able to fast 56 hours, and that was a liquid only, so I had juice and stuff, whereas Miller is only drinking water. It makes me smile to see good done, regardless of religious affiliation.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How Can We Effectively Satirize Faith?

I saw this article at Friendly Atheist. It makes a point that satire is an effective way to point out flaws in an argument while not angering those who support it, because they are too busy laughing to see they just got owned. The article references Jon Stewart's Beck satire. I'll post it here because
a. if you haven't seen it, you should.
b. if you have seen it, watch it again! it is funny!
c. we all need laughs

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor
Health Care Crisis

Now.... where were we? Oh yes... satire as a means of pointing out flaws. To satire effectively, you have to be close enough to the real thing to be recognizable. The question though, is how we get close to the flawed logic of faith without invoking Poe's Law? Any ideas?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Threats Over a Billboard...

Apparently a landowner was threatened over the following billboard being on his property:

It bothers me for many reasons:

  1. threatening the land owner for the billboard seems like a stupid course of action. If you are going to threaten someone, you could at least threaten the right target
  2. threatening ANYONE is a rather poor action choice. Instead of threatening someone, talk to them. Hell, hate them if you want, but to threaten them is over the line.
  3. To think that such a docile billboard can be received negatively shows how far our culture still has to go. This billboard does not say that there isn't a god, and it doesn't insult those who do believe in one. It merely says that if you feel this way, you are not alone. This message is very important, to me especially. I could have used a message like this while losing my belief in god. I felt alone, scared, depressed, like I was some abomination. I had no support I could lean on. I couldn't take living the lie. The depression that the lying caused was tearing me up. I was beating myself with a belt just to feel something, and crying myself to sleep every night. I was on the verge of suicide. I was planning to go to the gun store in a few days the day I ended coming out to my mom as 'agnostic'. This provided a wave of relief over me, being open. If this billboard helped just ONE person know that they were not alone, and that there is help, then it is worth every penny in my opinion.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Received a Letter Today...

It was from a member of my church. I will not post it, partly for length, and partly for other reasons. This letter pointed out, and rightly so, that I was being biased in my coverage of the church's lessons. I never intended such bias, and am truly sorry for it. My goal is objectivity, not polemics and being a jackass. I come off as thinking all Christians are complete bumbling fucktards apparently, and that is a message I do not wish to convey. Christians are wrong to believe in a magic sky fairy like they do, but that doesn't make them complete morons(eg Ken Miller). In my recent posts, I have been that which I have despised. I have been an angry, belittling jerk who picks fights with people who have done nothing to deserve it. All I have done is pick on them for being different than me.

Another comment from this letter, one that hit me deep, was how I treated my mother in my posts on her position on me going to skepticon. Apparently I came off completely unloving towards my mother, and like I had no respect for her. I did not mean for this at all! I love my mother, and I know she loves me. There is nothing I would take back from those letters, but I do admit I was rather angry while writing them, and none of the love i feel for my mom was being expressed.

If this post isn't fully coherent, that is because I am in a introspective out of it state.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Churching an Atheist: Open Discussion Unwelcomed

Went to church again. Started with singing songs. It is interesting listening to the songs from the 'other side.' The song 'I am Thine, Oh Lord' seemed a little morbid for kids with the words "Draw me nearer, nearer to thy precious bleeding side" and the song 'Have Thine Own Way' had me thinking about Burger King.

The sermon was over Jesus' "If you've been angry, you are guilty of murder" comment in the beatitudes. The preacher started by saying we need to ask God to change us, and make us nonjudgmental. But if that happened, how could Christians hate gays? They HAVE to be judgmental and angry. He also made the comment that everyone is made in the image of God, and it is that reason that we don't murder. Not the fact that it is deplorable, cruel, and inhumane, but because the Sky Fairy says so. He then made a funny quip that he is German and Irish, and was thus born angry. I chuckled at that, being mostly German and Irish myself. He goes into a rant on how my generation is angry, insulting and disrespectful, ignoring that what he just said was an angry disrespectful insult. He begins talking about an argument he had with his wife, and how he talked to God, asking for her being wrong to be forgiven, and How god talked back to him. Im not sure if he believes that God actually talked to him or not. I'd like to assume it was metaphorical, but there are whack-jobs who believe that. Not that it really matters, as a delusion is a delusion. He then ended by quoting a verse from The Message Bible, and then bashing it for not being suitable for deep textual analysis, as if anything other than the original Greek and Hebrew(if even that given the huge gap from story to written record) would be suitable for real analysis.

After the sermon, classes are offered. I went to one that goes through various kook theories(ESP, mind reading, ghosts etc.) and shows why they are false. Surprisingly, the reasons offered for why these things were false were relatively sound(there is a rational explanation for how it happened, the scientific tests show no evidence of it, no one has ever successfully shown it to be true). It was on the lack of evidence that it is true that he even played a short clip by James Randi. It all was very good, but the speaker seemed to overlook that every critique he offered applied to his God and his bible.

I waited until after class to bring this up with the speaker, in an attempt to not appear disruptive(I am on their property during their worship time, so I have to obey their rules). I mention that the things he mentioned apply to the bible, and he responded with 'no, the bible is the word of God.' I brought up that he is using what the bible says about itself to prove itself. He simply responded with the fact that you HAVE to(which I agree with, because there is no other reason to believe it) and thus it is ok. He then brought up a useless non sequitur of 'who is the god of the atheists?' I replied that we do not have one, and he just said 'yes you do, who was the first atheist?' I couldn't form a reply to that because it made no sense. It was then that one of the people who had been in the class(who happened to be a church elder) accused me of 'pushing atheism' by asking how those arguments don't apply to the bible. I responded that I was not pushing atheism, but merely trying to start a discussion that allowed all parties to learn something. The associate minister walks in to unplug the tv we used to watch the Randi clip, and asks me to not bring up debates in the future, because this is their time to worship, and I should not get in the way. I agreed that I should not disrupt, and made note that I actively avoided it by having a one on one with the speaker. The associate minister asked me to not do that again, and said he had gave my mom some books for me to read(Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig, and I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L Geisler and Frank Turek). Not sure if I'll read them. Craig is the idiot who just redressed Aquinas' first cause argument in slightly different terms and felt he had proven God. Strobel... well... having read the Case for Christ, and the Case for a Creator(great systematic chapter by chapter debunking here) I don't expect the Case for Faith to be any better. The other book I have no knowledge on, but the title reeks of ignorance.

Have any of you read them? If so, let me know what they were like.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What do Dracula, Frankenstein, Zombies, and Jesus Have in Common?

I'd have to say Jesus is the scariest. His followers are deadlier, creepier, and scarier than zombies, vampires, and Frankenstein combined.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Churching an Atheist: It takes Faith to be an Atheist?

I went to church tonight. I know, you are thinking "Why in the fuck would you do that?"

The reason I went was to get my mind of some things. I figured that there would be no better way than challenging some Christians in the nature of their theology. It was interesting. The lesson started by asking us questions with 2 answers. The first answer was 'from Satan' and the second was 'from God' and, as I expected, I was 100% satanic. The teacher(Devin) asked how we should deal with hardship, and of course someone(Brittany) said 'praying to God.' Devin said that was a good answer, but I asked him how you account for people like me who asked God for help again and again and again and felt nothing.  Brittany responds 'take it on faith that God will help.' I start to chuckle, and Devin correctly noted that that was unlikely to sway a skeptic like me. Yet, after getting that right, he fails by making the old 'atheism takes as much faith as believing in god does' which I brought up after class to him.

I told him that Atheism is not a matter of faith. He stated that it does, because being certain there is no god is just as much a mater of faith as being certain there is a god. I told him that that is not what an atheist is. An atheist is anyone who does not positively affirm the existence of god. I then stated that assuming nonexistence until evidence of existence is the rational way to go. After all, you wouldn't believe in a two horned purple unicorn just because I said so, would you? He responded with a 'but you take history books on faith because you weren't there' argument, which is foolish. Saying that a reliable well documented source takes faith to believe in the same way that the words of a bunch of ancient goat herders does is quite a stretch. It was after this that I had to leave.

I intend for this to be a weekly feature, on Sundays(or the occasional Wednesday), entitled "Churching an Atheist"

EDIT: remembered something after posting. I had a member of the group admit to me that they didn't believe in god. That first dissenting voice makes the second easier. I will keep their identity secret because a few members of the church may read this blog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Update on the situation with my mom

I talked to her about the note she wrote, and she said that it was hard to talk about the subject without crying, because she is disappointed. She said that she went full circle in letting me go, from 'hell no, you can move out if you want to do that' to 'whatever, he's 19' to 'he can go, but think about it.'

She wants me to think if it is something I really want to do. she thinks it is a rash decision that i might regret later, saying 'Why did you let me do that?' What she doesn't seem to get is that I would never regret an attempt to expand my intellectual horizons, even if it fails.

In any event, I will give it serious thought as she asked. Don't foresee changing my mind though.

Good and Bad News

First the good: I get to go to Skepticon! WOOT!

Now the bad: My mom is a religious nutball(to borrow a phrase from Mojoey). Then again, we've all known that since I first asked to go to Skepticon, didn't we?

I asked again, since she said she would do some 'soul searching'. She said she'd let me know the next day. I come home the next day, and, lo and behold, what do I see on my desk but this letter(my responses are bellow it, numbered, corresponding to superscript numbers):
            I can’t express enough how much it breaks my heart to see you stray away from God.  I am heartbroken and I love you.  I know what will be presented at the convention (here is what one internet site had to say) : “The speakers will provide many of the reasons that belief in god is not only indefensible, but harmful to society as a whole.  Our presenters will suggest ways to combat faith in government and in general. They will also rebut many of the common arguments in defense of belief in god.”  This will be extremely harmful to you spiritually.
Im not spiritual, so why should I care if it damages that?
 I know you think this is your belief, but I remember you being very different.  I remember you being zealous to attend church and to be baptized into Christ.  Was that all a show, or is this all a show?  Have you changed, really? 
 Both my Christianity and atheism were sincere. I truly have changed. alot. Im much happier now, due to no longer having cognitive dissonance from trying to make the bible and fact coexist.
 Eternal salvation and forgiveness is nothing to tamper with.  Seriously consider your spiritual options.  Don’t make any rash decisions just because your friends think this way.  Dare to be different, and stand out in the world.
My friends DON'T think that way. I have lost more friends for being openly atheist than I have gained. How exactly is it being different by following a belief followed by 76% of the USA?
 I know not all Christians, including myself, want to be too different from the world, but can you at least try?  Don’t let some Christians give all Christians a bad name. 

            I know you feel you are making an intellectual decision based on the literature you have read.  I can’t argue with you here, because I have not read all the literature.  As you have currently come to believe that the Bible is false, perhaps some of the literature you have read is actually false.  Consider this as an option.
It could be wrong, but all the evidence points to it being right. If it turns out to be false, I will accept that.
  The air we breathe cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched, yet it most certainly exists.  The force of gravity cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched, yet we know that it exists. 
You feel air every time there is a breeze, and feel gravity when ever we come back down after a jump.
Emotions, values, beliefs, and thoughts cannot be found by using any of our senses, yet they are as real as rocks and trees.  Emotions can be “felt”, but this feeling is not physical.  Thus, simply because something cannot be found through the use of the five senses does not mean that it does not exist.
  There are things beyond the human senses that we know exist, but we know they exist because of empirical evidence. Not some goat-herders writings, but science.
  I realize you may not feel God in your life right now, but He is there and still loves you and is willing to forgive you.  I still think God has a plan for you. 

            I’m not only worried about your spiritual well-being, but Tommy’s[my brother] as well.  For this reason, I will not allow any atheist talk around him.  As his mother, I absolutely will not tolerate it.
I accept that. It is her right to raise her kid that way. Now, I will have discussions with him if he so desires, but I won't bring it up, for now.
            Now to answer your question, “Can I go to the convention?”  First, I want you to know that I don’t want you to go because I believe it will harm you and take you farther from God.  That being said, as an adult, you must now make your own decisions. 
Finally something we agree on!
I will always love you no matter what, and I pray for the time when we will share in a common faith and love for God again.  Please make your decision carefully and remember that just as Jesus’ door is always open, all you have to do is knock, so will mine.

UPDATE: I talked to my mom.

I've found my Halloween Costume for next year!

It is awesome!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Carnival of the Godless #129

I would first off like to welcome you to my blog, as im sure 90% of you haven't been here before. It's a nice place, and just crazy enough for a carnival. Anywhoo... where was I? Oh yes...

Welcome to the 128th edition of the Carnival of the Godless! I hope you enjoy it, and find the posts as fascinating as I did.

Michael Meadon presents On the Evils of Religion posted at Ionian Enchantment. It is a neat post, detailing the view that it is the traits of religion, not religion itself, that is the great evil.

Eric Michael Johnson posts Science and the Worship of Truth at The Primate Diaries, which details the problems with the old 'science is a religion' canard.

Zhu bring us It's Okay Not To Believe from Correr Es Mi Destino. He shows why prosthelytizing is pointless.

Rick Foreman has Moses Goes Down (in flames) In the Promised Land at Waiting for the Singularity. He tells us of just how lacking evidence is for the Exodus.

Reed Braden presents God IS Allowed in Schools and Secularism is NOT Hatred posted at The Gaytheists. He points out that God is not barred at school on a personal level, and that secular edducation is not an attack on christianity.

Michael Fridman shows the flaws in Arguing For God's Existence From Objective Morality at a Nadder! He brings us a retort to William Lane Craigs 'objective morality' proof of god.

Jeffrey Stingerstein brings up Martyrdom and the Victim Mentality of Christians posted at Disillusioned Words. He gives his perspective on just why exactly that Christians have a martyrdom complex.

That's it for this Carnival! Hope you enjoyed it, and found a few new blogs to follow. Submit your posts for the next one here!