Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confessions . . .

Many people have asked me about my urgency about my atheism. I have often labeled myself a militant atheist. There are many, many reasons for this. However, there is I have not shared but I think it is time to do so now.

As many of my readers know, I grew up in a very conservative Christian community. My family belonged to the church and my father was deacon and an elder in that church. I also went to a Christian school from grades K-12. I was a Christian and I believed firmly in my conservative world views.

In high school, there was a young man who was gay. It was obvious to us by the way he acted, by the fact that he was interested in boys, and other observable behaviors. In our community, homosexuality was clearly a sin. Not only was it a sin, it was a blow to the Christian machismo which dominated our churches and the school.

As soon as we realized what this kid’s sexual preferences were, we were there ready to “deliver” him from this affliction. He caught merciless teasing from the guys at school. Adults did very little to stop or even slow these assaults. He was also attacked by the pastors, the teachers, and the parents who desperately wanted to save his soul from this hell bound state. I was a leader in the school. I was captain of the football team, a leader in our church youth groups, class president, etc. I participated in the abuse of this young man. This conflict went on for at least two years – maybe more.

A few years out of high school, this young man committed suicide. His last words expressed the pain of not being able to reconcile his homosexuality and his faith.

By the time of his suicide, I had already began my journey out of the faith and was no longer part of that community. However, the Christian community that had brow beaten this young man to suicide began to cover their tracks and act as if he was always a “troubled” boy.


We (myself included) pounded into that man the idea that you could never be gay and a good Christian. We harassed him into believing that he could not be who he was. We built this conflict in his heart with no remorse, no mercy, and no respect. He did not need to die. He did not need to face this pain that we caused. That kid’s blood stains my hands and the hands of everyone else who knew him and treated him that way.

I will never live long enough to repay my debt to that young man. I will never be able to take back the words I said and the abuse that I, as a leader, did nothing to stop. I get to live with this for the rest of my life.

What I can do and what I will do, however, is step up and fight against this kind of pain and enmity that Christians have toward those who they consider different. I will speak out again and again in support of the rights of those oppressed by ignorance. I will do what it is I need to so that these things stop happening. I owe at least that much to that young man.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Open Letter to Theists

Dear Theist:

We’ve spent a lot of time debating each other recently. We’ve debated religion, politics, social issues, and science. Often, you and I are on the opposite side of the fence from each other. I am writing you today to tell you that I am tired of these debates. I am tired of the intellectual dishonesty that you employ while trying to make a point. I am tired of you arguing about things of which you have little or no direct knowledge of and of which you have only read the same, weary apologetics. I have precious little time to waste on your silliness, but I try to give you all an equal share of my time. However, if you want to continue having a share of my time, we have to have just a few ground rules.

1. Rules of logic apply. I know, I know. This one is tough for you. You love to beg the question, fallaciously use a priori arguments, and are a good friend of the straw man. However, I will call you out on this. If you want to debate and discuss with me – you have to use appropriate logic.

2. The burden of proof is on you. You are the one claiming to have a personal relationship with a deity. You are the one claiming that god exists and works miracles in your life. It is not my job to disprove your claims. It is your job to prove them. If you can’t perhaps you should shut up.

3. Learn a little science and philosophy before coming into the debate. Nothing shouts ignorance more than when you completely distort a science principle or misuse a philosophical idea. I encourage you to actually read for yourself. Don’t be a parrot for Lee Stroebel or Ray Comfort. Those guys are idiots and you make yourself an even bigger idiot for parroting them.

4. Gaps in knowledge are NOT proof of your god. I will admit here and in any debate that science does not have all of the answers. In fact, the more we learn, the more we realize how much about the universe we do not understand. This does not mean that there must be a creator – it only means we need to keep learning. Moreover, even if it did mean that there must be a creator, it does not at all mean that the creator was YOUR god. The “god of the gaps” argument only reflects the stunning gaps in your logic.

5. Don’t quote the Bible (or other holy texts) at me and expect me to accept it as truth. Really, have you read that book? It is so full of holes, it should be renamed the Holey Bible. Don’t even go there.


It all boils down to this: your world-view is based upon your relationship with your invisible, undetectable, and highly unlikely god. You construct your ideas in science, politics, and other social issues from this world-view. If you really, really want to be able to defend your views on these subjects, you need to be able to defend your belief in god. Good luck with that. I’ll be here . . .

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mother Teresa Was No Saint

The Case Against Mother Teresa

Recently, I have debated some Facebook friends regarding Mother Teresa. In that discussion, I took the unpopular position that Mother Teresa is no saint and that in many ways, she contributed to the misery of those for whom she cared. Needless to say, this has generated a great deal of heat from her supporters. In this brief essay, I will outline my case against Mother Teresa.

Without a doubt, Mother Teresa is one of the most loved and admired figures of the late 20th century. Her efforts to provide care to the most impoverished people in Calcutta, India are very well documented. In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace prize for her efforts. I will not dispute in any way the fact that Mother Teresa was a kind, humane, caring person. I will not dispute that she provided mercy to those who so greatly needed it. I do admire her compassion and believe that if everyone shared this level of compassion for their fellow man, the world would indeed be a better place.

This is all well and good until you consider what she failed to do once she rose to international fame. Mother Teresa had a platform from which she could have advocated an end to this misery. However, she did not. Instead, she used this platform to advocate for and against issues which, in fact, continue and exacerbate human suffering and misery. Mother Teresa was a noble figure against the symptoms of poverty. She provided important palliative care for the poor. However, she also had an opportunity to fight against the causes of poverty which she did not take. For that reason, she should not be considered saintly by any definition at all.

Several years ago, I participated in a large study which examined the roots of poverty, failed states, and economic collapse in the post World War II world. In this study, historians, economists, and political scientists researched several case studies with the hope of being able to better describe the conditions and causes of global poverty. While the circumstances around each case were specific to that case, we were able to identify a list of items which when many were absent from a country usually signaled poverty and misery. When many of these items were present in a country, it usually indicated a much greater degree of stability and far less poverty. While we do not have time here to discuss all of these factors, I would like to look at a few which relate to this discussion.

A key factor in the lessening of poverty can be seen in how women are treated in a society. Societies where women have greater rights and autonomy generally have far less poverty. Sub-points of women’s rights include reproductive autonomy, physical autonomy, and economic autonomy. Reproductive autonomy indicates that a woman has the right to choose how and when to participate in reproduction. Things which indicate levels of reproductive autonomy include access to birth control, access to abortions, and access to medicine specific to female reproduction. Physical autonomy describes the right of women to control their movements. Indications of this are the ability for women to live outside of a patriarchal home (whether that is a father or husband.) The ability travel at will is also an indicator of this autonomy. Finally, economic autonomy describes a woman’s ability to access jobs, money, and other economic resources. Education, relatively free access to the workplace, and the ability to personally own property are all indicators of economic autonomy. While women’s rights are only one of many factors in identifying poverty, they are clear indicators of it.

Mother Teresa was not an advocate of women’s rights. In nearly all of her public discourse, she spoke out against women’s rights. Mother Teresa was vehemently opposed to abortion and birth control. In being so, she was also against reproductive autonomy for women. Mother Teresa public statements also promoted the “traditional” family and “traditional” family values. Traditional family values describe a home where the woman in subservient to her husband and her traditional role is to be a caretaker for the family. Traditional family values are, at their very best, neutral to physical and economic autonomy for women. More often, they are antagonistic toward physical and economic autonomy for women. Thus, Mother Teresa did not advocate physical and economic autonomy for women. In no cases, did Mother Teresa push an agenda which would support these things. In no cases, did Mother Teresa adopt a position which would made positive changes in the overall culture of poverty that gripped large sections of India and the world. Rather, she was willing to provide palliative care for the ailing but was unwilling to participate in the cure.

It should be noted that Mother Teresa was staunchly supporting the larger Catholic positions on these issues. Outside of that dogma, Mother Teresa may have been very different. However, her efforts were tempered by the fact that she had to curry favor from God and the Pope along with provide merciful care for the sick. In being a devout Catholic, she was unable to participate in efforts which would have granted greater autonomy to women and would have help cure the problem. Her desire to help was largely cultivated by her faith. Ironically, her ability to help was greatly hamstrung by her faith. Thus, no matter what we want to believe about Mother Teresa, we have to understand that she was not the saint that we wish her to be. Given the platform that she was, Mother Teresa had the ability to help cure poverty. Instead, she advocated for policies which continued it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

On a More Personal Note

Hey everyone. A friend wanted me to share this with you -- so I will humor him. Last fall, I had to have a procedure to fix a little defect in my heart. Really, it was not a big deal, but I had to actually write and submit some sort of advanced directives and living will to the hospital. Not having enough time to really sit down with an attorney and so something formal, I decided to turn this one in:

Brian J. Dyk
CPR Directive, Medical Power of Attorney, and Living Will

CPR Directive
I direct that any and/or all medical procedures be used to sustain my life and/or stabilize my condition to the extent that it can be sustained and/or stabilized, in other words, "Yes Please."

Limited Medical Power of Attorney
In the even that I am unable to make medical decisions for myself, I authorize Dylan Dyk to make decisions on my behalf. In the highly unlikely event that Dylan Dyk is unable to make these decisions on my behalf, and only in such case where she is unable, I authorize Sheldon Newman to make medical decisions on my behalf. In the even less likely event that Dylan Dyk and Sheldon Newman are unable to make these decisions, I authorize Kevin Dyk to make medical decisions on my behalf. If none of these people are available, it means that the world has blown up and this is all a moot point anyway.

Once I have regained my capacity to make decisions for myself, this limited power of attorney will revert directly back to me. Don’t overstay your welcome in my affairs.

I require, however, that all decisions be made in accordance to my Living Will.

Living Will
Now, with that all out of the way, let’s discuss what I want.

1. I want everyone to remember that I am not dead yet. If we are working with the Living Will, it means that I am still alive. Let’s stay focused people.

2. I want medical, scientific, and medical ethics information to be used as the basis for making decisions on my behalf. I believe that by using this information, you will be able to make the most informed and humane choices for me.

I do not want the following people or deities to have any input about decisions on my behalf:

· God, in any form or incarnation, unless such deity can walk into the room and prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that he/she/it is God. If that extraordinarily unlikely scenario should happen, then let’s give God the benefit of the doubt.

· Any agent of God. No priest, pastor, Pope, minister bishop, shaman, monk, nun, or any such agent shall have input on this matter. It’s goofy enough to consult God, but even goofier to consult someone who acts on God’s behalf. It is very much like asking someone to consult their make-believe friend to make decisions for me. Let’s not have Elwood P. Dowd consulting Harvey on my behalf.

· Congress. If Congress or any political figure tries to take up my cause and make decisions for me, it has gone way, way too far. Pull the plug just to spite those sanctimonious idiots.

3. I want to remind everybody that quality of life is as important as quantity of life. If I am in a chronic vegetative state or other similar condition, and after consultation with at least 3 qualified physicians, it is clear that I have little or no chance of making a recovery, let’s go ahead and pull the plug. If, however, there is a reasonable chance that I can recover to a point where I am certifiably mentally aware of my surroundings, let’s go ahead and wait it out for a little while to see if I improve. If I do not improve over the course of a medically prescribed period, and after more consultations, it becomes clear that I will not improve, please pull the plug.

I understand that medicine and science are not infallible. However, I would like to give the doctors their due and believe that they are doing their best. If they say it is not reasonably possible for me to recover, I will trust their word on it. I also understand that there is a chance, however remote, that someday medicine and science could possibly reverse my condition. Let’s be real folks. That is not today. It may never happen. Hope is a great thing and perhaps the best thing. False hope is the worst of things. I would rather die with dignity than wait around for something that may never happen. Also, I do not want my family to spend all of our resources and energy pursuing a treatment that is unlikely to be discovered any time soon.

4. Let us not confuse chronic vegetative states with my condition on Sunday afternoons watching football. If I am on my couch watching football or any T.V. at all, and show enough capacity to utilize the remote control, please do not pull the plug. That would just irritate me.

5. No one may consult my Last Will and Testament before making decisions on my behalf. I just don’t have that much nice stuff to give away, and what I do have is not worth pulling the plug for anyway. You have a much better chance of getting good stuff from me if I am alive and still drawing a salary.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ag-i-tate 1. To move with sudden force of violence. 2. To upset emotionally. 3. To stir up public interest in a cause. (Webster’s Dictionary.)

Over the years, I have become more and more militantly atheist. I have been more and more willing to take my views into the public square and present them for discussion. Furthermore, I have often used hyperbole, rhetoric, and even some inflammatory statements to start and participate in these discussions. To such ends, I have taken to task by many different people for my militancy. Obviously, the religious set (particularly Christians) have taken umbrage with my statements and stances. At the same time, some atheists, skeptics, and other free-thinkers have chided me as well. While the religious offense should be self-evident, I have always wondered why there would be offense from my own side. It has really caused me to think, to ponder, and to try and formulate a reasonable answer to this. This post is my best attempt at this answer.

As a part of this discussion, I feel that it is necessary to define some of our terms and labels. It will help us to better understand my case. I also need to state that these labels and descriptions are created via my experiences and meetings with various people. I do not presume to be the “definer” of any one person. In no way am I attempting to build a straw man through these definitions. I also know that there is a great deal of crossover from position to position and that more than one label may apply to an individual and that the definitions can be more nuanced that those I have given here. Rather, in my experiences, many of the free-thinkers that I have met fall primarily into one or more of these labels.

Atheism: A lack of belief in a theistic based system or worldview.

Agnosticism: The lack of knowledge or evidence that god(s) exist.

Anti-theism: A direct opponent of religious or theistic thoughts. Opposing religion.

Rationalist: One who uses tools of logic, rational thought, and evidence to form opinions, statements, and ideas.

Skeptic: One who doubts any claim which does not provide sufficient evidence to support its claim.

Free-thinker: One who forms their world-views without the aid of religion.

If I were to label myself, I can see all of these in me. Some, however, are more prevalent. Let me describe myself inside of these definitions. The order presented here also ranks the level to which I see myself.

1. Agnostic: There has been no evidence provided to me which suggests that any god(s) exist or have ever existed.
2. Atheist: Without this evidence, I have no beliefs which are based in a theistic worldview.
3. Free-Thinker: Without religion, I am allowed to form my own world view.
4. Rationalist: I form my worldview paying homage to logic, rational thought, and evidence whenever possible.
5. Anti-theist: I find myself in direct opposition to religion especially in the realm of public policy.
6. Skeptic: I am dubious of unfounded claims.

I suspect that most atheists would be able to define their worldview within these basic definitions. However, many would rank their priorities differently. What I have found is that the concerns expressed to me have usually been those who tend to define themselves around a more rationalist/skeptic mindset speaking out against my anti-theism. Specifically, they frequently suggest that anti-theism can be antithetical to rationalism. While I understand their arguments (and my inner rationalist actually agrees with them), I believe that there can be a case made for my militancy and anti-theism.

Limits of Skepticism and Rationalism
To start, I love rationalism and skepticism. I believe that many of the great thinkers in this world start with a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom. I also think that rationalism is the foundation for the construction of good ideas. However, when stretched to their limits, both skepticism and rationalism start to show flaws. Furthermore, in many cases, attempting to establish a purist skeptical/rational worldview is a wonderful thought exercise, but is very impractical to live by in the real world. Let me give two examples.

Skepticism taken too far will approach absurdity. For example, when I go to sleep at night, I am sure that I will wake up again in the morning. I am so sure that I will rise again, I tell my wife, my children, and co-workers that I will see them in the morning. I make plans for tomorrow and the future. There is plenty of evidence to encourage my confidence – most notably the fact that I have always arisen from my bed in the morning. However, there is no direct evidence to suggest that I will. Any number of things may strike and prevent me from getting up in the morning. Most skeptics, will as I do, are willing to put a little faith into the idea that they will not die in the night. See, the key is that there are many decisions, events, and other things in life in which we have to exercise some faith. I accept on faith that my wife will not cheat on me when she goes out with her friends. In 17 years of being together, there is precedent which buoys this faith, but ultimately I have to have some trust and faith in her. Skeptical purists would suggest that my faith in getting up or my faith in my wife based upon precedent is not real assurance that the same will happen in the future. True – but what sort of reality do we live in without some modicum of faith? I certainly concede that there is a gulf of difference between blind faith and a modicum of precedent supported faith. However, pure skepticism won’t even allow that. Using this one simple example, I would suggest that skepticism has its limits.

Rationalism also has its limits in the practical, real world. I love rationalism. I love looking at evidence, creating argument, and searching for truths in logic. However, I have found that taking rationalism too far also has flaws. In the first few years of our marriage, my wife and I used to argue bitterly. She would get mad at me about something (usually something stupid.) We would start to bicker at each other. I used to sit and just pick her arguments apart using a disciplined rationalist approach. In nearly all cases, I would be able to win the argument – but somehow I lost the fight. Even though I could pick each of her accusations to pieces and I could get her to concede that I was probably not as much at fault as she accused me of, I would always wind up on the couch and in her doghouse. I learned over the years that when she started to bicker at me, no matter how easily I could pick her apart, I needed to shut up, apologize, and move on. It worked – our fights were less bitter and fewer and farther between. The fact of the matter is that most of her fights were not at all rational. She was very emotional about something. Trying to use pure rationalism to get out of trouble only got me in more trouble. Again, while rationalism certainly is my preferred way to assess a situation, it’s effectiveness is limited in certain cases.

By exploring the real world limits of skeptical/rationalism, I am not at all trying to suggest that they should somehow be less valued. What I am trying to point out is that when we deal with the world around us, there are some limits to skeptical/rationalism. I am a skeptical/rationalist in many, if not most cases, but sometimes I need to step out of the discipline of those approaches and use other tools to make my points – especially when playing the role of the agitator.

The Case for the Agitator
As many of you know, I often wear my anti-theism on my sleeve. Many of my Internet post (blogs, comments, FB, etc.) reflect the general antagonism I feel toward religion of all kinds – but especially towards Christianity. It is sort of funny because people who know me personally would report that I am generally quiet, thoughtful, and gentle spirited. They would say that I reserve judgment on many things and carefully state my opinion when it is needed. Ultimately, I am a pretty laid back sort of guy. As I posted earlier on this blog, I was not always a militant atheist. In fact, I was pretty much a live and let live sort of guy. If they wanted to spend their time and money on something that did not exist; that was their imperative. Who was I to interfere?

Ultimately, however, I was reluctantly drawn into the anti-theist and militant mindset for a number of reasons. Here are just a few:

· The growing influence of the religious right in America over the past decade has become frightening. When religion and politics become enjoined, key public policy decisions are made via the reasoning of WWJD. This is no way to create a pluralistic, equitable, and charitable public policy.

· The ability for man-kind to destroy itself exists. Can we afford to have nuclear codes in the hands of people who make WWJD decisions or as Bill Maher has often stated, “In the hands of people who believe in talking snakes?”

· We have the ability today to increase human rights, to offer unprecedented aid to those who need it, and to ultimately raise the standards of living for all people. Which groups are the most vehement in their opposition to these things? Theistic groups.

· Most religions consider my little girls to be second class citizens. In these theistic world views, my daughters exist to serve the needs of men and to provide and care for offspring. Outside of that, they are expendable. I cannot allow my daughters to be treated in such a way.

· In the U.S. we are still having the incredibly asinine debate as to whether or not evolution should be taught in schools, and then we wonder why our students lag behind much of the rest of the industrial world. Why is this even a debate? Why do we let the theists make science something that we could possible vote on? Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?

My list of complaints against religion can go on and on.

While the public discussion of these issues is ongoing, the free-thinking voice has often been muted. Certainly there are, and have been, great skeptics/atheists/rationalists who have engaged in this discussion. Russell, Hitchens, Ingersoll, Dawkins, and many more. However, the popular face of atheism has largely been lacking. With the growth and development of Internet networking, this popular face certainly has increased, but it is still dwarfed in the face of theistic thought. I believe that if I am to improve my position in this debate and ultimately improve the conditions of my fellow humans, I have to speak often and speak loudly wherever possible.

Ultimately, I found that to accomplish this, I could adopt the role of the agitator. As an agitator, I have set out to accomplish the following:

· Inspire thinking on a variety of topics. I am not particularly interested in having everyone adopt my views on any particular topic. I just want to see people use their brains more. Thinking is quite often the antidote to blind faith.

· Inspire other closeted free-thinkers and atheists to come out and express their thoughts.

· Challenge the idea that blind faith is somehow a virtue. The whole idea that one can shut off thought, exploration, and debate and be considered virtuous is an anathema to me. This is not a virtue – it is a waste of good, hard working brain cells.

· Add my contribution to the betterment of the world. If I can force some thinking, if I can create discussions, if I can push people out of their comfort zones, then we are more able to develop more creative decisions for the problems that face the world.

Throughout history, every notable social movement has had its agitators. We are the people who spark the fights, discussions, and who rally the base. I would never, ever compare myself to the great agitators in history. I only say that I believe I can add my part to the atheist movement by being one. Being an agitator does sometimes mean that I will eschew rationalism to make a point. Being an agitator does sometimes mean that I will annoy my rationalist/skeptic friends. I guess I am okay with that. We all have a part to play in this – and this is my part: the agitator.

Chat at you all later!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Space Alien Sex RULES!!

Hey everyone! I figured that the title of this post would get your attention. Anyway, 2 posts in one day? Lucky us!

Anyway, I had a brief debate with another atheist today. In this debate, he accused me of being religious about my atheism. (In the land of atheism, that is a bit of an insult. However, being a old, grizzled veteran, I did not take offense.) He suggested that some of my FB posts were not entirely based in reason and proper atheist etiquette. Hmmm . . . How does one respond?

After some time to reflect, I do have some thoughts on this topic. In atheism, there are many different perspectives on how to reflect our views. Rationalists tend to be very strict about sticking to all of the rules of reason. Some people are "soft" atheists. Soft atheists tend to have a live and let live when it comes to spirituality. Some atheists are militant. Militant atheists use whatever tools are at their disposal to force the issue. These tools include reason, hyperbole, rhetoric, etc. Militant atheists are willing to use them all. This is a very short list. Suffice it to say, there are many different shades of atheists. Because of this, there can be a little in-fighting among the non-believers.

I am a militant atheist. I am proud of being so. I will use anything I can to get under the skin of religion. I will use strict reason when it suits me. I will use hyperbole when it suits me. I will use rhetoric when it suits me. I will use any tool that is available to me to advance the cause. I do think that religion needs to end before humans can really reach our fullest potential. (I DO NOT advocate the abolishment of religion. I want religion to die a natural death.) My position sometimes ruffles a few feathers in the atheist community -- especially among the rationalists.

What do I make of this? Let me give you a Star Trek analogy. (Yes, I am that kind of geek.) We're all on board the Starship Enterprise. Each member of the crew represents a different form of atheism. I imagine the rationalists to be Mr. Spock. Logic is the only means of assessing the situation. The soft atheists are like Lt. Ohura they do their job, but are not involved with the dangerous missions. Militant atheist are like Captain Kirk. We tend to be emotional. We use what tools are at our disposal to get the job done. Everyone on the crew is committed to helping the cause, but we all have different things to bring to the table. Without each person carrying their weight, we all fail as a group. We fight; we bicker; we don't always agree on a course of action. However, at the end of the day, we are all part of the same team.

All that being said, my young friend who barked at me today is a rationalist. He is a Spoke. I am a Kirk. Spock is always correct when it comes to the logical conclusions. Spock is always able to separate emotion from facts. Kirk, however, gets shit done. Kirk saves the day. Kirk makes the whole crew better. Most importantly, Kirk gets laid by space aliens all the time. Spock may win the logic battles -- but Kirk gets all the glory and all the lovin'. I am proud to be a Kirk.

Rationalists are a funny breed of atheists. They tend to exist in a very sterile, academic world. They are absolutely correct in logic and in reasoning. This works great in academic settings. In the real world, however, pure reason does not always get you where you want to be. I would love to be a rationalist, but this approach does not always push the movement forward. As a militant atheist, I use the whatever strategy I can to push the movement forward. This can make me an elitist. This can make me a hypocrite at times. This can make me seem like a total asshole.

I am okay with this. I will do whatever it takes to make this a better world for my daughters. Religion is universally prejudiced against them. It wishes to, at best, hold them hostage and, at worst, enslave them. I can not tolerate this. I will NOT tolerate this. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that the world is a safer, better place for my little girls.

I love the rationalists. They are my brothers and sisters. However, I do not have time to debate these issues as a purely academic set of thoughts. I must take action and I will do so in whatever way I can. I will be a Kirk. I will get it done and I will get to have a whole bunch of alien sex along the way.

That's it for now. Catch you all later.

The Cult of Reality

In many of my debates with Xtians, they have often suggested that atheism is a cult or a religion in its own right. While this shows their obvious ignorance of what it means to be an atheist, it has given me a cool idea. I have decided to start the Cult of Reality. If they want me to create a cult to allow them to keep their currently incorrect assumptions, I will humor them.


I have anointed myself the Supreme Reasoner in my new cult. As such, I get to make the rules. If you don’t like my rules, feel free to start your own cult or join an established one. The Catholic Church is always looking for more people to molest ...err... save.

These decrees are in no particular order – so don’t be getting all interpretive or anything. I write them as I think them. That is the privilege I have as the Supreme Reasoner.


Don’t be calling anything a truth unless you can support it with evidence and it can face the scrutiny of reason. We’re not going to believe in cosmic aliens living in volcanoes, zombie Jews, or multiple armed elephant men. Nope. We’re just going to stick with things that make sense. We can find all of the truth we need in chemistry, biology, physics, or other paths of reason.


We’ll have no sacred cows in the Cult of Reality. No Sir! Every idea, every writing, everything can be debated and put to the test of Rule #1. If you believe that any of your ideas should not be subjected to reasonable scrutiny, you can consider your idea false on its face. This also applies to miracles. Don’t be spouting off about any miracles unless you are prepared to replicate the miracle in a controlled, scientific inquiry.


You may be wondering if I have lost my mind. Nope As the Supreme Reasoner, I think that everyone, solely by being part of the human race, should be afforded the same rights, privileges, and accommodations. Even Xtians. People deserve to be treated with dignity. Stupid ideas, however, don’t deserve that respect. We should not respect their willful ignorance. We should not respect their beliefs in things that are not true. However, I will treat their person with decency at all times.


In the Cult of Reality we will do nothing to curry favor from some invisible, imaginary sky-god or other deity. We will do good for its own sake. We will do good because we want to make sure that we leave the world a better place. We will do good because humanity benefits from it. We will do good for its own sake.

In the Cult of Reality, we are okay with not knowing everything. We don’t have to believe in mythical creations to fill in the gaps of our knowledge. We love to learn – and if we know everything – we cannot learn anything else. Worse yet, if we believe that we know everything because we have read some dusty old book that is thousands of years old, we will never progress or advance or otherwise. This decree, however, does not condone willful ignorance. People who choose not to know are fools. In the Cult of Reality, we can not have fools. So, not knowing must be an incentive to continue learning.

That’s about it. Feel free to join. You don’t have to attend church. You don’t have to tithe. Membership is voluntary – but worth the while. Come on – drink the Kool-Aid.
Catch you all later!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sick and Tired of Stupid!

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the delay between posts. It's been a very busy time for me recently both at work and in life. It's cut into my time to write. But, I am back, and this post will be much less gracious than any of my previous posts. If you find swearing offensive, feel free to stop reading here. If not . . . press on dear reader.

As always, I am open to debates with Christians. I love the interaction and in many cases, I learn from these debates and I wish to think that perhaps they learn something from me. Often, the people who I debate are well spoken, thoughtful Christians. Many of them are educated and have decent arguments. Although all of their arguments are flawed in some way, they can be challenging. Generally, I don't take debates with people unless they have some scientific, theological, and rhetorical acumen. I think it makes for a better discussion if my opponent has the ability to articulate and defend their position. Thus, most of my debates are against pastors, theologians, Christian scientists, etc.

I am regularly challenged to debates by lay Christians too. Up until recently, I steered clear of these discussions. However, with some prodding, I decided to accept some of the challenges. BIG FUCKING MISTAKE!! Holy shit, people, the average lay Christian is a moron -- a big fucking moron. I am simply astonished at how dumb they can be. I thought it would be interesting to get their perspectives on these topics -- instead, I got a world tour of idiocy. Here is a sampling of the idiocy I came across:

1. Lay Christians do not know the Bible to save their lives. Many do not even have a basic understanding of what is presented in the Bible. One of these people tried to convince me that the Bible was written in 1611. WHAT??? 16-fucking-11? I found myself having to give many of these idiots a basic lesson on the Bible -- and they are the ones who believe in that shit!

2. Lay Christians do not know jack shit about their own basic theologies. Again, I had to spend amazing amounts of time explaining to them what they believed. I felt like a fucking Sunday school teacher. If you cannot describe the difference between predestination and free will, then you need to head back to church school for awhile before you try to engage in a debate.

3. Lay Christians do not know even the basics of science -- yet they seem to believe that they are experts in debunking evolution. These morons would read some drivel like Ray Comfort or Lee Stroebel and start parroting those arguments. However, under any amount of scrutiny, it was clear that they did not even know what any of those arguments even meant. Dumb motherfuckers! It became impossible to even begin to debate these mouth breathers because they could not even articulate their "own" positions. These idiots are completely illiterate when it comes to basic science -- so they have no ability to even understand the basics of evolution -- let alone discuss the key nuances behind it. They have about as much scientific knowledge as the goat herders who made up the creation story had -- no wonder they believe in creationism.

4. Lay Christians have no clue what the basic rules of logical debate are. They believe that "Nuh-uh" is a legitimate counter to an articulated argument. "I don't believe that" is another favorite of lay Christians. What kind of fucking argument is that? My 11 year old is a better debater than these shit heads. You can't have a discussion if one of the parties does not even know how to form and articulate a position.

5. These fucktards actually revel in their ignorance. In some cases, they would posit the argument that they did not need to know science, or literature, or history. All they had to know is that Jesus loves them and that was good enough for them. They actually choose ignorance!! While it is true that most Christians will only read and listen to things which confirm their convictions, I never really understood what that meant until now.

Why does this bother me so much? Really, why should I spend any time worrying about this? Here are a few reasons:

1. These idiots vote. These idiots get an equal say in issues like global warming, economic policy, foreign policy and other key decisions that I do. Yet, they could not for half a second even form an informed opinion on any of these topics. Instead, these idiots wrap themselves up in the mantra: What would Jesus do? These idiots are voting in Christian idiots to lead us. We are fucking doomed if we allow these shit for brains morons determine our public policy.

2. Even more scary, these people are breeding more little soldiers for Christ at an alarming rate. Christians typically have larger family than non-Christians. Sheesh -- we're already outnumbered and it's getting worse by the minute.

3. To complicate matters, Christians are homeskooling in record numbers. So, any chance their children had to learn about the real world is gone. Instead, their science class consists of "If it ain't in the Bible, it ain't true." Their logic and argument classes consist of rebuttals like, "Nuh-uh" or "I just can't believe that" or "Logic and reason can't prove anything -- faith can."

I know, I know. I should not be so heavy handed with these retards. Wrong. This is what makes me so afraid of religion in general and Christianity specifically. They are idiots but they think they have good handle on things. The world is a dangerous enough place without these people running around.

Heaven help us . . . check that . . . reason help us.

Sorry for the rant today, I just had to get it off my chest.

Catch you all later!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hey everyone!

I had a really cool discussion the other day with a young man from Utah. I really did not know him, but I was able to surmise that he was religious (Mormon or Christian is my best guess.) He had taken umbrage with a post on FB which suggested that atheists are freethinkers and somehow more intelligent that those of faith. This made me really think about the relationship between intelligence and faith. Here are my thoughts about it.

There actually have been some scientific studies looking at this idea. Here are the links to the abstracts:



Basically, both studies do indicate that there is a correlation between intelligence and religion. However, these studies are flawed in several ways. They do not fully account for the cultural bias in IQ testing. They also do not fully account for societal pressures with become religious or non-religious. So, while they can demonstrate at least a correlation, it would be dangerous to suggest that there is a causal link.

However, while the science is yet inconclusive, I do have some ideas about it. Let me first say that I know many, many intelligent Christians. I have also met many very ignorant atheists. So, these thoughts speak in general terms and I will prepare for the hate mail . . .

I do believe that atheists are, in general, a more INFORMED group of people than Christians. This is not necessarily a reflection of IQ -- just a reflection of the body of knowledge that each has. Why is this? Why does it seem that atheists are more informed? It is because we are truly freethinkers.

What does freethinking mean? It means that we have freed ourselves from a worldview that is based upon the a priori assumption that God exists, has a plan for us, and wishes us to view the world from the lenses from the Bible (or other sacred texts.) We are able to explore the world and make decisions based upon facts -- not myths.

As freethinkers we have the following intellectual advantages:

1. We are allowed to read anything that pleases us without some sky-god possibly condemning us. Most freethinkers that I know are very well read. Those of faith, on the other hand, tend to read things which confirm their own beliefs -- as opposed to challenge them.

2. We are allowed to change our minds. HOW COOL IS THIS! If a better idea comes out, if research shows something different, if we learn something new -- we can change our minds about something. People who think via God, cannot do such a thing. No matter what. They start with their beliefs -- and then have to make the facts fit them. Just take a look at the creation museum to see the effects of this mental contortionism.

3. We let the facts of life do the talking. Facts and real information guide our thoughts. Most of the freethinkers I know are very well versed in the world of information. Why? Because we crave it. We want to learn about our world and how it works. We are curious people and we don't fill our curiosities with religion. We love science, sociology, literature and all things which give us knowledge and real beauty.

I don't know if religion is tied to intelligence. But I do know that freethinking is tied to being better informed about our world. I'll take freethinking every time.

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Recently, I had a troubling conversation with a long time friend. This friend is very religious and we have had many interesting debates and discussion regarding God, faith, etc. However, when this friend visited my Facebook page, she wrote to me to tell me how offended she was by the posts. I believe that she was genuinely offended -- and for that I was honestly sorry. However, I could not back off of my positions. Ultimately, this whole incident threatened to end our friendship. I finally had to write this response to her:

Hmmmm . . . I think I touched a nerve . . .

I debated long and hard about how to answer your last note. I don't believe there is any right answer or any answer that would satisfy you. So, I am at a bit of a loss here. I thought about dealing with your note point by point -- but I realized that this may only exacerbate the whole situation. Soooo, here goes.

I fully understand where you are coming from. I get it. Don't believe for a moment that I am not aware that some of the content on my FB page is offensive. In fact, I selected some of it just for that purpose. Again, I don't agree with everything I post or suggest -- but I do believe that sometime hitting on nerves can be a positive thing. You ask why I should offend people. While I may have the right to do so, why should I? Why would I want to intentionally hurt so many people by mocking their most cherished beliefs?

I guess this is my best answer:I have some questions to ask you. (I know, I know -- answering a question with a question is poor form. But my answer will follow.)

1. The Catholic Church recently excommunicated a Brazilian woman and her doctor for allowing her 9 year old daughter to abort the twins she was pregnant with. However, the Church declined to excommunicate the girl's father who impregnated her. I understand the Church's stance on abortion. Why, however, should I respect an institution which time and time again has given a pass to child rapists?

2. Recently, a Hindu family married their young son to a dog to help their village ward off "evil spirits." Is this something that I should find acceptable? Is this something that is in any way rational?

3. Each year, thousands of women are brutally beaten, raped, and murdered in Islamic countries for offenses as simple as having bread delivered to their homes by men who are not male relatives or attending school, or driving. Am I to stand by and not be outraged by this nonsensical behavior?

4. The Pope recently decreed that condom use in Africa would further the spread of AIDS. Africa faces a catastrophic epidemic of AIDS. Conservative estimates suggest that over 100 million people will die from the disease in the next decade. Why is it that I should stand by and accept 100 million deaths? Why should I support an institution which has time and again blocked the only thing that will effectively stem the tide of this disease?

5. Each year, thousands of young women in Islamic countries have their clitoris ripped from their bodies and their vaginal opening brutally sewn shut (except for a small opening to allow fluids to pass). It is the husband's right to tear open this "gift" from his wife on their wedding night. Am I to accept this level of brutality against women? Should I just shut up and allow this sort of de-humanizing behavior?

6. Benny Hinn is currently under investigation by the IRS for fraud. He drives a fleet of Bentleys (at $450,000 apiece), wears $2000 custom suits, and lives in a palatial mansion all while many of his congregants are poor, under-educated, and easily duped into giving his "ministry" money. May I not mock this? May I not speak out against such things? At what point did Christ command his followers to fleece the poor and live large off of that money?

The list can go on and on and on . . .

Exactly how many people must die before I speak out? How many more must suffer before I am allowed to "offend" those who share these repulsive beliefs? What exactly is the threshold of death and destruction which will allow me to speak my mind and possibly offend those of faith? 150 million? 200 million? 1 billion? Must I just shut up and live and let live? I cannot. I will not.

You asked how I would respond if someone were to attack my family as I have attacked religion. This is exactly how I respond. My family is attacked by these things. All of humanity is attacked and disparaged by these things. I cannot stand by and allow my girls to grow up in a world where most religions consider them a second class citizen. You may (and likely will) argue that this is not representative of all peoples of faith. I may be likely to agree. However, when the "moderates" refuse to aggressively speak out against these injustices, they tacitly approve of them. When people try to defend these actions -- they only demonstrate that they would rather side with injustice and evil than side with improving the human condition.

You posed Pascal's wager in your past note. What if I am wrong? Let us assume that I am. Let us assume that I will face God and have to answer for myself. If God is merciful, if God is a God of justice, if God truly loves his human creation (as is posited by the Church), I am not afraid to answer to Him -- because I will have fought for mercy, justice, and an improvement of the human condition against those who would rather brutalize their fellow humans in the name of God. My guess is that I'll be okay.

I am truly sorry that you were deeply offended by my FB page. I hesitated to let you in because I was afraid that this would happen. But it has. The person on FB is no different that the one you have always known. I have always stood on the side of goodness and justice. However, I cannot stand on the side of religion when it does not promote these things. You have always known that about me. Finally, I will not "unfriend" you. If you choose to terminate our friendship because of this, I will understand. However, I have no intention of doing so. While we disagree -- I am always willing to hear your point of view and give it a fair hearing. Again, I am sorry that this has hurt you so much.

I hope you and the family are doing well -- and I hope to continue this discussion.


We'll see what happens from this. However, I cannot stand by and let religion destroy the world. I am willing to turn my back on old friends if they choose to side with those who would rather see most of the world burning in hell than help us all live a better life. It's a no-brainer for me.

Talk to you all later!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Dangers of Prayer

Hey friends, neighbors, and anyone else so daring to read my drivel! Recently a friend let me know that my name has popped up in several prayer chains. Apparently, some of my old acquaintances have been interested it trying to get me back to Jesus by using a prayer chain. Hmmmm . . . silly people. I have some thoughts on prayer chains, but even more on prayer in general. First and foremost, prayer chains, or prayer committees, or other prayer type groups are little more than gossip groups under the guise of prayer. As a veteran of one, I know how these things work. People pass on "prayer" requests to the chain. Then all of the people are supposed to add these requests in their own prayers. (As if God did not actually hear it the first time ... seems a tad redundant to me.) However, it was always the case the the more juicy or salacious the prayer request was (i.e. pray for Norma's daughter, Alice, who at the age of 14 became pregnant) the faster it moved through the chain. Basically, this allowed the gossip to be spread around the church without people feeling like they were engaging in gossip.

I could go on and on about the efficacy rates of prayer (no better than without prayer) but that is a topic that has been discussed many times. Rather, I want to discuss why prayer actually creates harm in society. Yes, prayer actually creates HARM in society. What prayer does is actually convince people that they are doing something about a situation when they actually are not doing anything at all. For example, I recently saw a church bulletin which requested that people in the church pray for fellow church-goers who were facing foreclosure. You know, see if you can get God to open up his heavenly piggy bank. Really! So, people prayed and prayed, but fellow church-goers almost certainly lost their homes anyway. (Maybe God does not care.) What would have actually done some good is if the church asked for donations which they could then distribute to those who needed help with their mortgages. The difference here is that prayer takes no effort, no money, and no other real resources other than a tiny bit of time. Actually doing something to help others can take many different resources. When people are tricked into thinking that prayer works, they are also duped out of doing any tangible thing for the person. After all, if it is God's will, it will be taken care of. So, if those fellow church goers lose their homes, then it must have been God's will because we all prayed for them not to lose their homes.

Atheists and other freethinkers, who are not wasting their time praying, tend to actually do something about issues. When you look at many different types of social justice causes, philanthropy, and other places where action is required, you will also find many, many atheists who are actively participating. We're not waiting for God to take care of it -- we're going to pool our resources and get things done. Of course, there are many religious groups who participate in community events. That is great and it does make a difference. But rest assured, their motivations are very different. Their first priority is to curry favor with God. If people are helped along the way, so be it. Atheists, however, actually have the priority of helping others through their charitable actions. It is a big difference. We're not kowtowing to some jealous sky God; instead, we look to find ways to better our community through actual, positive actions.

Praying that God will help others is not only a colossal waste of time, it is detrimental to society. Those who tend to pray for God to intervene are far less likely to actually intervene on their own. Thus, society is harmed by prayer. I encourage all of you to get off your knees and get busy actually helping cure social or other ills. I know as a fact that God will do absolutely nothing to help us. We're on our own on this Earth and we have to help each other out.

Catch you all later!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hey hey friends and neighbors,

It's been a while since I have last posted. Took a little vacation time and spent some time debating those funny fundies out there. It is truly amazing how inconceivable it is that so many people believe in imaginary beings. I sometimes am simply overwhelmed with the credulity that many people show through their faith. Some of these people are otherwise intelligent people. I just don't get it. Well, maybe I do.

Let's chat about this for a minute. There is actually a formula for this indoctrination process. All religious use all or parts of this formula to ensure that the next generation will succumb to the mind-numbing idiocy.

1. Start Young. Religions work on the weakest among us -- children. Take a look around a many of the new churches going up around you. 75% of the space is dedicated to the indoctrination of children. They have children's church, Sunday school, vacation Bible school. Why do religions do this? Because children believe what we tell them. They are not old enough think for themselves. They do not have enough experience to know what is reality and what is not. That is also why we can get them to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Simply stated, if churches waited until everyone was 21 years old before we started trying to indoctrinate them -- churches would no longer exist. They know that -- so they have to start early.

2. Create Impossible Expectations. All religions are notorious for creating impossible to achieve expectations. We are taught from a young age that there are certain "rights" and "wrongs" in the world. We are expected to live in the "right" and shun all that is "wrong." Sounds fine and dandy -- except the list of wrongs includes impossible items. Let's look at a couple from Christianity. The 10th Commandment is "Thou Shall Not Covet." This is a real bitch. All of the other commandments involve actions. Thou Shall Not Kill. Easy enough, no killing. Thou Shall Not Steal. Okay -- can do, won't steal. But Thou Shall Not Covet? What the fuck? This is a crime of thought -- not action. This says that you are not allowed to want what someone else may have. Impossible! This is simply impossible! Now any reasonable person always wanting what someone else has can lead to any number of issues. However, never wanting? This cannot be done. Another example is lust. It is another crime of thought -- and is impossible to evade. No matter how much we cover up women in burkas, we cannot eliminate lust. Ask any 14 year old boy -- if they are not picturing nearly every female they see naked, something is wrong. The key here is that, again, "God" is asking us to do the impossible.

Once we accept these impossible rules, we realize that without "God's help" there is no way we can meet these rules. Shit, even with "God's help" we cannot meet these rules. We are left with a sense that we are sinful and bad. And that is the crack that religion seeps into. It seeps into our own doubts about our morality and makes us believe that we are sinners -- no matter what. Nothing can stop that because none of us can live up to these silly, artificial, capricious rules.

3. Punishment. Once religion has its hooks into our self-doubt, they double the ante by suggesting that if we do not repent, or act in a certain way, or pay tribute to the church, we are doomed to punishment. Different religions have varying degrees of punishment, but none of it sounds like fun. In fact, in most cases, it is horrible. So now we are not only afraid that we cannot meet the artificial rules, we also have a terrifying punishment for this failure.

Folks, this is evil in its most terrifying degree. Religion has been able to cow people into doing or believing terrible things simply by the threat of punishment after death -- often times eternal punishment.

4. Acceptance. Finally, religions use acceptance to destroy the last shreds of reason in people. They start with kids, create artificial rules, establish torment as the consequence for failing to accept these rules, and then offer acceptance and understanding through the faith. People who are so afraid of this evil, cosmic, sky-god will grab onto anything that makes them feel okay. Religion makes people feel okay. It creates a security barrier between the person and the fear. It's like a drug company making a disease just so they can sell you the cure. If that happened we would call it unmitigated evil and would demand that the purveyors of such an atrocity would be incarcerated. Instead, in this case, we call it religion and seem to consider it good.

That's how it works -- and once the hooks are in -- people are willing to believe just about anything, even at the expense of themselves, their families, and logic. It's pretty terrifying indeed.

That's all for now.

Catch you later.