Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Power over the spirit world?

So I am flipping stations on the way home from work yesterday and I hear a preacher say that christians need to realize that they have been given power over the spirit world, and I burst out laughing. And I laughed because it is indeed hilarious to think that you are going to exercise power over a world that is completely delusional.

This reminded me of what hypocrites christians really tend to be when it comes to this kind of thing. If a christian has a wallet stolen, do they suspect that demon took it? I wager that if I suggested this possibility I would be given a strange look. And yet according to their world view, it is entirely plausible.

But I do know where many christians look for demons and that is behind many of the common vices that plague humanity. They tend to place one behind anything that they would consider to be a sin such as pornography, drug use, masturbation, etc. So instead of truly understanding human nature and solving perceived problems with reason and willpower (or in some cases, such as masturbation, realizing it is not a problem at all) they will very likely try to pray the demon away. Or maybe even resort to more desperate measures, such as exorcism.

Or you could be like those christian militia bozos who just got busted and were preparing to wage war against the anti-christ, apparently starting with blowing away some local cops. You would think that Jebus could handle the anti-christ on his own but apparently not, he needs some extra firepower to back him up. And I would think that fighting the anti-christ would be like going up against a boss in a video game. I suppose that is the allure of it, if you could kill that fucker, then you would definitely impress Jebus big time.

I am sure their are many who would call themselves christian who of course do not advocate any of the things that I am describing here. But again that is a really part of the problem. Christians are so divided and scattered amongst different viewpoints that the idea of real unity amongst them is a joke. And quite frankly, since the bible quite clearly describes Jebus casting out demons on several occasions, I don't see how any christian can deny that this is something they should be worried about. But of course we who live in the real world know why many christians don't worry about demons too much, and that is because they are completely imaginary. And of course excel at believing in imaginary things like hell, original sin, etc. All you gotta do is apply the same kind of logic and reason that would lead you to conclude that demons are imaginary to all these other imaginary things and your christianity will disapear into nothingness really quickly I promise you.

Imagine if instead of worrying about exercising power over delusional things, christians actually did something constructive with their time, like trying to solve problems with reason and logic? But of course these are things that are basically the opposite of faith and so get in the way of being a christian in the first place.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fear of Paul

A very favorite chapter of the bible for christians is Romans 1. They spend a lot of time reading this chapter because it confirms one of their favorite fantasies, that everyone knows there is a God and if they say that they don't they are obviously in denial.

Now Paul is of course hugely influential in christianity and basically all christian theology is really Pauline theology. He wrote the majority of the epistles in the New Testament and he does a lot to fill in what would otherwise be a pretty skimpy canon. I have read his writings over and over and I pretty well understand what he is trying to say. But I simply think is is wrong.

The first thing I would like to point out is that Paul never actually met Jesus. He had some sort of vision, but that is not the same thing. And yet he dominates the New Testament. Why is that? How did a guy who was not even around at all during the time that Jesus was supposedly on earth, choosing disciples and setting up his church, end up being the number one dude in the New Testament? This is a question that has not really ever been satisfactorily answered.

Now Paul likes to threaten. He does plenty of this in Romans 1 and reveals himself quite clearly to be your standard, intolerant, religious bigot. After he gets all of the obligatory introductions out of the way he starts right in on the ungodly and says the wrath of God is against them. So there we have it, this supposedly peaceful God of Jesus Christ is really no better then the Old Testament maniac who is constantly throwing fits and threatening death and destruction when he does not get his way.

And then he tells us that no one has any excuse for not believing in this god of his because his existence is so plainly revealed by his creation. And not only his existence but also apparently what we are supposed to not do. I mean he says that this gods invisible attributes are clearly seen! So here we have the delusion of many followers of this god, that really it is so obvious and that we are all complete morons for not plainly seeing this god. Actually it gets worse because what Paul is really saying is that deep down, we really do believe in this god, but we didn't like him so we didn't glorify him as god. So god punishes us and gives us over to all sorts of horrible things that Paul lists in some detail.

And then of course Paul condemns homosexuality, calling it a vile passion. So now we come down to it really, this god of Paul's is extremely concerned about the sex lives of his created beings. Of course, we know this god, he is completely exposed now. He is the same megalomaniacal attention whore that so much in ink is spent on in the Old Testament setting all these rules for who can and cannot have sex with whom and telling us what horrible things should be done to people if they break these rules.

Now I for one am sick and tired of chrisitans throwing this crap in our face and trying to scare us. I am not scared of Paul and I think he is full of shit. He is just another religious nut who just happened to be lucky enough I suppose to have his letters preserved and ultimately saved in the bible. And he is one of the main reasons why a lot of christians think atheists are really not atheists at all, that deep down we all believe in god.

So don't be afraid of Paul. Especially since later on in Romans 9 he says some incredibly lame and stupid things that most chrisitans don't even believe, and that is that god creates some people to be saved and some to be burned. And even better, he tells us that he burns the one group to show the others how lucky they are to not be burned! I mean you can open the chapter right up and read to them, they will start to quickly figure out ways to get out of what Paul obviously has to say there. And then you can play then game with them, that obviously, even though they say so, they do not really believe the bible at all.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Back when I was delusional, or in other words, when I was a christian, I was an opponent of evolution. Consequently I was an opponent of Scientism. A good way to get an overview of Scientism is to watch Carl Sagan's Cosmos series. In this series he makes a very profound statement, "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be." Some take that to be a statement promoting Scientism.

Now when I first saw Cosmos, I was 15 and I was not an atheist and I was aware that Sagan was. But I was also an astronomy maniac and I therefore could not resist watching Sagan's mostly very excellent series. It bogs down here and there that is true and is now a little dated but I would still recommend it as a good introduction to astronomy and science in general. And of course it is also a good way as I mentioned before to get a good idea of Sagan's philosophical views which I suspect very strongly are derived from his understanding of science. It is Scientism if you will. Or at least that is what his typically religious opponents have accused him of advocating in his famous series.

Now it is not my purpose here to necessarily defend Scientism as an ultimately correct worldview system. But I am going to point out something that I would like to defend about it and that is that it is vastly superior to the world view system that it is most commonly contrasted with, and that is the christian worldview.

So what does the christian worldview teach? Well, to put it very briefly, it teaches that we are all descended from an original pair of humans, Adam and Eve, who were created by God and put in a garden that also contained a talking snake and a magical tree that bore fruit that could impart knowledge to you, if eaten. This snake convinced Eve to eat the fruit, which was forbidden of course, and she in consequence learned all sorts of nasty things, the first of which it seems was that she was naked. Adam also fell victim to this and as a result all of mankind is now corrupt and bound for hell. But God in his infinite wisdom sent his son to die and if you accept him as your savior you will not burn in hell forever, but instead be in paradise for the same length of time. Everyone else is screwed.

Now this story raises of course all kinds of very interesting questions. But really don't bother. Either you are going to believe this nonsense or not and subjecting it to endless speculation is futile. I mean we are talking about "talking" snakes for crying out loud! I use this phrase when debating christians as much as possible, it typically drives them crazy, because it sounds so obviously ridiculous.

And what is the objective evidence for this story? Well really there is none, unless you count the bible. But then that is really a huge problem because this story (which is contained in the first book, Genesis) is so clearly mythical it seems ludicrous to even point it out. But the problem is that millions of people, are as children, taught this story as fact in churches and homes all over the world and they are raised in a sub-culture that speaks of the story constantly as if it were a historical fact and so when they grow up they pass this on to their children. I myself was a victim of this indoctrination, this brainwashing if you will.

Now when someone who believes that talking snakes and magical fruit are real comes into contact with scientific theories about the origins of life and the age of the earth, etc., it hits them right between the eyes, obviously because it is a contradiction, pure and simple. I mean let's just be perfectly honest about this. I feel perfectly qualified to state this because I used to be a card carrying creationist and I new damn good and well that if evolution is true then christianity is a lie. And that is why I fought so hard not to believe it.

But unfortunately there are christians who attempt to have their cake and eat it too, and so they go to great lengths to somehow harmonize the theory of evolution and christianity. I am quite familiar with these efforts and some of them are quite creative and even I would say heroic but I do really believe in the end all quite futile.

Now there was one book in particular that I read when I was a christian and struggling with things like the age of the earth. And this particular book was saying that the creationists and Carl Sagan were both wrong. That is the creationists were wrong for denying the scientific truths of evolution and geology and Carl Sagan was wrong for taking these teachings of science too far and developing a world view, which they called Scientism, out of them. The authors of this book were christians of course. They were of the aforementioned wanting to have their cake and eat it too type.

Now that I look back, I can see clearly that this books' ultimate point was a load of dingos kidneys. (Thank you Douglas Adams for that one.) Because I know for a fact that if you embrace the modern scientific understanding of the origin of man then you know that there was never any point in time when we "became" human. There was never any time when there was a "perfection" of any kind from which we fell. And there was certainly never any original pair! And since these are vital components of christian doctrine and no less than Paul the apostle says so himself, then christianity is automatically false and that is the end of it. Period.

Consequently the entire christian worldview system is false and intellectually bankrupt and therefore completely useless. Well maybe not completely useless, I guess you could use it as an example of what not to do when constructing a world-view system.

Now the methods of science are, I believe, quite distinct from a world view system, at least the parts that we are concerned about when we are looking at world views like christianity. It is true that you have to assume certain things about the world when practicing the scientific method, but that is not the kinds of views of the world I am talking about here.

So even if Scientism is a flawed world view, and I will leave that for someone else to figure out, it is based on science. And therefore at least it has the virtue of being based on evidence, at least indirectly. Which is much more than what christianity is based on which is, I suppose, pretty much just faith. And faith, as we know, is believing in something even when you don't have the slightest objective evidence for it.

And so I would like to exalt "Reason" therefore as that most excellent mental process that makes science possible and also as such is an automatic enemy to faith. Christians such as Martin Luther knew this full well and therefore said things like: "Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God." I mean what could be more clear than that! And this is from a guy that is one of the heroes of the modern evangelical protestant movement and creationists in particular.

So whatever its flaws, I will take Scientism over christianity any day and look forward to the day when christianity is permanently cast into the dunghill of very bad ideas where it quite rightly belongs.

And also if I were going to be stranded on a desert island and had to choose, I would of course take Carl Sagan's Cosmos over the bible. That is not even a contest right there.

I am an atheist

I am an atheist.

I wake up every morning, I go to my job. I work hard every day.

I am friendly and courteous to my co-workers.

I come home to wife every day. I have been married 25 years. I have three children and 3 grandchildren.

I have never been convicted of any crime or even arrested.

I have never taken any illegal drugs. (though I do have a problem with the drug laws in this country)

I pay my taxes and generally obey the law though of course, as we most all do, I may speed from time to time.

One time, this last Xmas season, I found a wallet with several hundred dollars in it as well as all the other things you would typically find in a wallet, and I returned it to the owner completely intact.

And remember, I am an atheist.

And yet a no less than a former president of the United States said this once, "...I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots." George H. W. Bush.

Is not that amazing, that despite all these things about me, this asshole thinks I should not be a citizen and also I cannot be a patriot? What kind of man is this? Has he not even read the very constitution that he swore to defend? The scary thing is that between this asshole and his son they were president for 12 years.

But he is just one example of the prejudice against atheists in this country, and it is, according to polls, very widespread. I wonder why this is?

Could it be that many religious people are actually pretty intolerant?

Yeah, I think that just may be it. And they teach this intolerance to their children.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut: "And so it goes..."

Prayer in Schools

I was involved in a violation of the law one time in Jr. High, though I did not know it at the time. I attended "bible" club during a lunch period and the organizer and leader of the club was a teacher at the school who led the attendees, students, in prayer. This was in 1980 and was illegal then as it is now and rightly so. Teachers who are of course adults, should never be allowed to push their religious beliefs on impressionable children in a place like a public school for so many reasons I find it amazing that anybody even argues about it.

But argue they do and there is no end to the zealots out there who would love to again have in our public schools across this country children led every morning in prayer by adults. These are sick people who typically have what I call, "God on the Brain", i.e. they are the kind of people that if you encounter them in your daily travels, you are very quickly going to hear about their God, and they will very quickly proceed to shove him down your throat and threaten (and remember, the threats are usually veiled in some kind of sicky, sweet religious talk) you in some sort of way, if you do not appear receptive to this activity. And also remember, when religious person says that they will pray for you, that is really just there way of saying that you are obviously a lost cause and a waste of space, it is sort of a disguised f**k off.

One reason that I think of quite often against this argument for prayer in schools which often occurs to me and I don't think I have seen it used myself, though I am sure it has somewhere, is that if I were a religious person, a christian, which I used to be one, I would never want my children led in prayer in any public school at any time ever for the precise reason that I would have absolutely no control over the content of such prayers. I mean let's get real here, prayers are simply veiled religious instruction. It is basically a little lecture where the praying person gets a captive audience for a short period of time every day, where they have an opportunity to push their world view system onto children. Now to my way of thinking I would never in a million years want my children to have to listen to this kind of thing every day because it could, quite possibly run exactly counter to what I would have them be taught.

But there are religious nut jobs out there who think that prayer in schools is some kind of remedy for what is wrong with them. They want to pray the problems away and they are very deadly serious about this. If they had their way, prayer would be back in school with a vengeance and children would be led in prayer several times a day. And they would not stop there. They would gladly have bible studies as well and the list goes on and on. These kinds of people don't really deserve to be Americans, because they would not know the concept of religious freedom if it bit them in the ass. Freedom of religion consequently means the right to have freedom from religion if you should so choose. And it is pretty difficult to do that if your children are compelled to pray in school every day.

But let's get down to the real reason why these people want to lead your children in prayer every day. It is because maybe they will be able to save your children from a potentially filthy atheist parent like you and set them on the right path to God. Because children are where you go if you want impressionable minds that are ripe for suggestion and coercion, or brainwashing. And that is the audience that religion desires most of all, which is why schools are always the target.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Was a Natural Born Skeptic

When I was very young, not even in elementary school yet, a little girl told me the story of the first man, Adam. I remember thinking at the time, how ridiculous it sounded. I thought she was crazy. I remember clearly thinking how nutty a concept it was that there even was a first man, and that we knew his name no less! I was definitely, at this point in my life, a skeptic.

But alas, my very non-skeptical father got a hold of me and set me on path to superstition. So much so that by the time I was in first grade I selected a book on the origin of life from the classroom bookshelf and it had a basic explanation of how life naturally arose in the seas. I had been so thoroughly indoctrinated by my father that I reacted as if I was reading porn, fascinated and yet feeling guilty at the same time.

By the time I was fifteen I was fairly brainwashed, writing in science class a description of how the Grand Canyon was formed by the draining of the land after the Flood of Noah. Sadly the teacher did me a disservice by not giving me an "F". I think she instead thought I was "creative" or something like that, a sad commentary on the quality of my science education, but I digress.

But fortunately chinks in the non-skeptical armor my father had so diligently outfitted me with began to appear though my interest in astronomy. I remember asking my not so wise father one time a very important question: "Dad, how can we see galaxies that are millions of light years away if the universe is only a few thousand years old?" His answer, if you know how to think like a creationist is entirely predictable. "Well Son, you see God in His infinite wisdom, when he created the galaxies, created the light in transit as well so that we could see the glories of his creation." This answer suited me at the time, but it also illustrates that I was thinking about the implications of what I was learning in my studies of astronomy. The skeptic in me was still alive deep down somewhere.

By the time I was nineteen, I had realized that my fathers explanation was really very inadequate, since this "stretched" light that he postulated contains within it the history of the universe that is object of the study of cosmology and it seemed to me that what the creator had really done 6000 years ago is create a full grown universe that actually looked billions of years old, in essence God had created time itself. This is the "appearance of age" theory of creation. At the time I thought I was somewhat clever for thinking of it, but I found out later it is actually a rather old idea and I was not so clever as I supposed, a very typical thing for us to discover as we mature in life, but again, I digress.

I went through a "cult" phase and what critical thinking skills I did have left took a severe pounding but actually they did also get some practice as I heard the cult leader, 0n different occasions, make mistakes. Let me tell you, cult leaders typically don't like being confronted with facts that get in the way of a point they are trying to make. Quite frankly, I had no business being in this cult, I was never really one of them, but I had my father to thank for being in there the first place so there ya go.

I came out of the other side of the cult and began to think about the implications of my "appearance of age" theory of the universe. I asked myself a fundamental question: "From an observational point of view what was the difference between a universe that "appears" to be billions of years old and one that actually is?" The obvious answer of course is "none at all" and it was at this point that I became what is known as an old earth creationist. Which meant that I now had to try force the bible to conform to reality instead of the other way around.

At this point in my life, with skepticism always bubbling at the surface of my thinking, it of course was only a matter of time before my christian beleifs became a target. I just quite frankly as I was in church one day became very skeptical of the entire thing, Jesus, the bible, the whole shebang shall we say.

So I thought to myself, that if all these things are true, then it will not hurt one bit to subject them to some intense critical analysis. They will be all the more strengthened by my study and my faith would be stronger than ever. Of course the converse being true as well, if they prove false, then I will be that much better off for having rid myself of some very burdensome beleifs that had not stood the test of a true skeptical analysis.

Now for you skeptical readers of course you know what happened next. In my studies and my effort to prove Christianity, I failed spectacularly and as a result my faith in the bible as the inspired word of God collapsed and that God that I had believed in literally vanished from my mind. I was finally where I was supposed to be, where I had been destined to be, a true skeptic. And an atheist too of course.