Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My debate with Pastor Joe

The premise of the debate was whether or not the New Testament is reliable. This was a continuation from a previous discussion we had on the subject of the manuscript evidence. I argue that the argumentation Pastor Joe fallaciously uses to support his assertions are flawed. These are the central issues we discuss and the arguments he supports which I do not.

Joe’s argument:

- Over 5,000 Greek manuscripts from before 325 C.E (A.D.)
- Only 40 lines are in question
- Is accurate within 99.5% amongst the manuscripts.
- He also claims that the NT is more reliable than the Iliad.

I thoroughly refute every one of these claims and address several issues (like contradictions) which lend credence to my premise that the NT is not a reliable amongst its earliest texts.

By the end of the debate Joe concedes that:

- Only 6% (300+) of the manuscripts were written prior to the 9th century.
- The 40 lines argument is flawed and unsubstantiated.
- Instead of 99.5% the bible is closer to 62.9% (which is lower than the Iliad).

This was not a very productive debate since we seemed to be talking past each other for the majority of the time. If you decide to listen to it make sure you listen to the last fifteen minutes which he gets officially PWNED!!

Was Einstein an Atheist?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Christopher Hitchens @ AAI 2007 Part 1

Christopher Hitchens @ AAI 2007 Part 2

-20:25 in Hitchens mentions me:

The questioner says that she thinks she is the only Hispanic at the conference to which Christopher quickly corrects her and mentions me.

Quran - Contradictions Galore - Just as bad as the Fundy Xians

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up
By John Rennie

When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination.

Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as "intelligent design" to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a "wedge" for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.

Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. The arguments that creationists use are typically specious and based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution, but the number and diversity of the objections can put even well-informed people at a disadvantage.

To help with answering them, the following list rebuts some of the most common "scientific" arguments raised against evolution. It also directs readers to further sources for information and explains why creation science has no place in the classroom.

1. Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.

Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty--above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution--or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter--they are not expressing reservations about its truth.

In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'" The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.

All sciences frequently rely on indirect evidence. Physicists cannot see subatomic particles directly, for instance, so they verify their existence by watching for telltale tracks that the particles leave in cloud chambers. The absence of direct observation does not make physicists' conclusions less certain.

2. Natural selection is based on circular reasoning: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest.

"Survival of the fittest" is a conversational way to describe natural selection, but a more technical description speaks of differential rates of survival and reproduction. That is, rather than labeling species as more or less fit, one can describe how many offspring they are likely to leave under given circumstances. Drop a fast-breeding pair of small-beaked finches and a slower-breeding pair of large-beaked finches onto an island full of food seeds. Within a few generations the fast breeders may control more of the food resources. Yet if large beaks more easily crush seeds, the advantage may tip to the slow breeders. In a pioneering study of finches on the Gal¿pagos Islands, Peter R. Grant of Princeton University observed these kinds of population shifts in the wild [see his article "Natural Selection and Darwin's Finches"; Scientific American, October 1991].

The key is that adaptive fitness can be defined without reference to survival: large beaks are better adapted for crushing seeds, irrespective of whether that trait has survival value under the circumstances.

3. Evolution is unscientific, because it is not testable or falsifiable. It makes claims about events that were not observed and can never be re-created.

This blanket dismissal of evolution ignores important distinctions that divide the field into at least two broad areas: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution looks at changes within species over time--changes that may be preludes to speciation, the origin of new species. Macroevolution studies how taxonomic groups above the level of species change. Its evidence draws frequently from the fossil record and DNA comparisons to reconstruct how various organisms may be related.

These days even most creationists acknowledge that microevolution has been upheld by tests in the laboratory (as in studies of cells, plants and fruit flies) and in the field (as in Grant's studies of evolving beak shapes among Gal¿pagos finches). Natural selection and other mechanisms--such as chromosomal changes, symbiosis and hybridization--can drive profound changes in populations over time.

The historical nature of macroevolutionary study involves inference from fossils and DNA rather than direct observation. Yet in the historical sciences (which include astronomy, geology and archaeology, as well as evolutionary biology), hypotheses can still be tested by checking whether they accord with physical evidence and whether they lead to verifiable predictions about future discoveries. For instance, evolution implies that between the earliest-known ancestors of humans (roughly five million years old) and the appearance of anatomically modern humans (about 100,000 years ago), one should find a succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern, which is indeed what the fossil record shows. But one should not--and does not--find modern human fossils embedded in strata from the Jurassic period (144 million years ago). Evolutionary biology routinely makes predictions far more refined and precise than this, and researchers test them constantly.

Evolution could be disproved in other ways, too. If we could document the spontaneous generation of just one complex life-form from inanimate matter, then at least a few creatures seen in the fossil record might have originated this way. If superintelligent aliens appeared and claimed credit for creating life on earth (or even particular species), the purely evolutionary explanation would be cast in doubt. But no one has yet produced such evidence.

It should be noted that the idea of falsifiability as the defining characteristic of science originated with philosopher Karl Popper in the 1930s. More recent elaborations on his thinking have expanded the narrowest interpretation of his principle precisely because it would eliminate too many branches of clearly scientific endeavor.

4. Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution.

No evidence suggests that evolution is losing adherents. Pick up any issue of a peer-reviewed biological journal, and you will find articles that support and extend evolutionary studies or that embrace evolution as a fundamental concept.

Conversely, serious scientific publications disputing evolution are all but nonexistent. In the mid-1990s George W. Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seeking articles on intelligent design or creation science. Among those hundreds of thousands of scientific reports, he found none. In the past two years, surveys done independently by Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University and Lawrence M. Krauss of Case Western Reserve University have been similarly fruitless.

Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence. Yet according to the editors of Nature, Science and other leading journals, few antievolution manuscripts are even submitted. Some antievolution authors have published papers in serious journals. Those papers, however, rarely attack evolution directly or advance creationist arguments; at best, they identify certain evolutionary problems as unsolved and difficult (which no one disputes). In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously.

5. The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution.

Evolutionary biologists passionately debate diverse topics: how speciation happens, the rates of evolutionary change, the ancestral relationships of birds and dinosaurs, whether Neandertals were a species apart from modern humans, and much more. These disputes are like those found in all other branches of science. Acceptance of evolution as a factual occurrence and a guiding principle is nonetheless universal in biology.

Unfortunately, dishonest creationists have shown a willingness to take scientists' comments out of context to exaggerate and distort the disagreements. Anyone acquainted with the works of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University knows that in addition to co-authoring the punctuated-equilibrium model, Gould was one of the most eloquent defenders and articulators of evolution. (Punctuated equilibrium explains patterns in the fossil record by suggesting that most evolutionary changes occur within geologically brief intervals--which may nonetheless amount to hundreds of generations.) Yet creationists delight in dissecting out phrases from Gould's voluminous prose to make him sound as though he had doubted evolution, and they present punctuated equilibrium as though it allows new species to materialize overnight or birds to be born from reptile eggs.
When confronted with a quotation from a scientific authority that seems to question evolution, insist on seeing the statement in context. Almost invariably, the attack on evolution will prove illusory.

6. If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

This surprisingly common argument reflects several levels of ignorance about evolution. The first mistake is that evolution does not teach that humans descended from monkeys; it states that both have a common ancestor.

The deeper error is that this objection is tantamount to asking, "If children descended from adults, why are there still adults?" New species evolve by splintering off from established ones, when populations of organisms become isolated from the main branch of their family and acquire sufficient differences to remain forever distinct. The parent species may survive indefinitely thereafter, or it may become extinct.

7. Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on earth.

The origin of life remains very much a mystery, but biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units, laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry. Astrochemical analyses hint that quantities of these compounds might have originated in space and fallen to earth in comets, a scenario that may solve the problem of how those constituents arose under the conditions that prevailed when our planet was young.

Creationists sometimes try to invalidate all of evolution by pointing to science's current inability to explain the origin of life. But even if life on earth turned out to have a nonevolutionary origin (for instance, if aliens introduced the first cells billions of years ago), evolution since then would be robustly confirmed by countless microevolutionary and macroevolutionary studies.

8. Mathematically, it is inconceivable that anything as complex as a protein, let alone a living cell or a human, could spring up by chance.

Chance plays a part in evolution (for example, in the random mutations that can give rise to new traits), but evolution does not depend on chance to create organisms, proteins or other entities. Quite the opposite: natural selection, the principal known mechanism of evolution, harnesses nonrandom change by preserving "desirable" (adaptive) features and eliminating "undesirable" (nonadaptive) ones. As long as the forces of selection stay constant, natural selection can push evolution in one direction and produce sophisticated structures in surprisingly short times.

As an analogy, consider the 13-letter sequence "TOBEORNOTTOBE." Those hypothetical million monkeys, each pecking out one phrase a second, could take as long as 78,800 years to find it among the 2613 sequences of that length. But in the 1980s Richard Hardison of Glendale College wrote a computer program that generated phrases randomly while preserving the positions of individual letters that happened to be correctly placed (in effect, selecting for phrases more like Hamlet's). On average, the program re-created the phrase in just 336 iterations, less than 90 seconds. Even more amazing, it could reconstruct Shakespeare's entire play in just four and a half days.

9. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that systems must become more disordered over time. Living cells therefore could not have evolved from inanimate chemicals, and multicellular life could not have evolved from protozoa.

This argument derives from a misunderstanding of the Second Law. If it were valid, mineral crystals and snowflakes would also be impossible, because they, too, are complex structures that form spontaneously from disordered parts.

The Second Law actually states that the total entropy of a closed system (one that no energy or matter leaves or enters) cannot decrease. Entropy is a physical concept often casually described as disorder, but it differs significantly from the conversational use of the word.

More important, however, the Second Law permits parts of a system to decrease in entropy as long as other parts experience an offsetting increase. Thus, our planet as a whole can grow more complex because the sun pours heat and light onto it, and the greater entropy associated with the sun's nuclear fusion more than rebalances the scales. Simple organisms can fuel their rise toward complexity by consuming other forms of life and nonliving materials.

10. Mutations are essential to evolution theory, but mutations can only eliminate traits. They cannot produce new features.

On the contrary, biology has catalogued many traits produced by point mutations (changes at precise positions in an organism's DNA)--bacterial resistance to antibiotics, for example.

Mutations that arise in the homeobox (Hox) family of development-regulating genes in animals can also have complex effects. Hox genes direct where legs, wings, antennae and body segments should grow. In fruit flies, for instance, the mutation called Antennapedia causes legs to sprout where antennae should grow. These abnormal limbs are not functional, but their existence demonstrates that genetic mistakes can produce complex structures, which natural selection can then test for possible uses.
Moreover, molecular biology has discovered mechanisms for genetic change that go beyond point mutations, and these expand the ways in which new traits can appear. Functional modules within genes can be spliced together in novel ways. Whole genes can be accidentally duplicated in an organism's DNA, and the duplicates are free to mutate into genes for new, complex features. Comparisons of the DNA from a wide variety of organisms indicate that this is how the globin family of blood proteins evolved over millions of years.

11. Natural selection might explain microevolution, but it cannot explain the origin of new species and higher orders of life.

Evolutionary biologists have written extensively about how natural selection could produce new species. For instance, in the model called allopatry, developed by Ernst Mayr of Harvard University, if a population of organisms were isolated from the rest of its species by geographical boundaries, it might be subjected to different selective pressures. Changes would accumulate in the isolated population. If those changes became so significant that the splinter group could not or routinely would not breed with the original stock, then the splinter group would be reproductively isolated and on its way toward becoming a new species.

Natural selection is the best studied of the evolutionary mechanisms, but biologists are open to other possibilities as well. Biologists are constantly assessing the potential of unusual genetic mechanisms for causing speciation or for producing complex features in organisms. Lynn Margulis of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and others have persuasively argued that some cellular organelles, such as the energy-generating mitochondria, evolved through the symbiotic merger of ancient organisms. Thus, science welcomes the possibility of evolution resulting from forces beyond natural selection. Yet those forces must be natural; they cannot be attributed to the actions of mysterious creative intelligences whose existence, in scientific terms, is unproved.

12. Nobody has ever seen a new species evolve.

Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr's Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations--sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organisms isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists therefore usually use organisms' physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.

Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection--for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits--and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William R. Rice of the University of New Mexico and George W. Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.

13. Evolutionists cannot point to any transitional fossils--creatures that are half reptile and half bird, for instance.

Actually, paleontologists know of many detailed examples of fossils intermediate in form between various taxonomic groups. One of the most famous fossils of all time is Archaeopteryx, which combines feathers and skeletal structures peculiar to birds with features of dinosaurs. A flock's worth of other feathered fossil species, some more avian and some less, has also been found. A sequence of fossils spans the evolution of modern horses from the tiny Eohippus. Whales had four-legged ancestors that walked on land, and creatures known as Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus helped to make that transition [see "The Mammals That Conquered the Seas," by Kate Wong; Scientific American, May]. Fossil seashells trace the evolution of various mollusks through millions of years. Perhaps 20 or more hominids (not all of them our ancestors) fill the gap between Lucy the australopithecine and modern humans.

Creationists, though, dismiss these fossil studies. They argue that Archaeopteryx is not a missing link between reptiles and birds--it is just an extinct bird with reptilian features. They want evolutionists to produce a weird, chimeric monster that cannot be classified as belonging to any known group. Even if a creationist does accept a fossil as transitional between two species, he or she may then insist on seeing other fossils intermediate between it and the first two. These frustrating requests can proceed ad infinitum and place an unreasonable burden on the always incomplete fossil record.

Nevertheless, evolutionists can cite further supportive evidence from molecular biology. All organisms share most of the same genes, but as evolution predicts, the structures of these genes and their products diverge among species, in keeping with their evolutionary relationships. Geneticists speak of the "molecular clock" that records the passage of time. These molecular data also show how various organisms are transitional within evolution.

14. Living things have fantastically intricate features--at the anatomical, cellular and molecular levels--that could not function if they were any less complex or sophisticated. The only prudent conclusion is that they are the products of intelligent design, not evolution.

This "argument from design" is the backbone of most recent attacks on evolution, but it is also one of the oldest. In 1802 theologian William Paley wrote that if one finds a pocket watch in a field, the most reasonable conclusion is that someone dropped it, not that natural forces created it there. By analogy, Paley argued, the complex structures of living things must be the handiwork of direct, divine invention. Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species as an answer to Paley: he explained how natural forces of selection, acting on inherited features, could gradually shape the evolution of ornate organic structures.

Generations of creationists have tried to counter Darwin by citing the example of the eye as a structure that could not have evolved. The eye's ability to provide vision depends on the perfect arrangement of its parts, these critics say. Natural selection could thus never favor the transitional forms needed during the eye's evolution--what good is half an eye? Anticipating this criticism, Darwin suggested that even "incomplete" eyes might confer benefits (such as helping creatures orient toward light) and thereby survive for further evolutionary refinement. Biology has vindicated Darwin: researchers have identified primitive eyes and light-sensing organs throughout the animal kingdom and have even tracked the evolutionary history of eyes through comparative genetics. (It now appears that in various families of organisms, eyes have evolved independently.)

Today's intelligent-design advocates are more sophisticated than their predecessors, but their arguments and goals are not fundamentally different. They criticize evolution by trying to demonstrate that it could not account for life as we know it and then insist that the only tenable alternative is that life was designed by an unidentified intelligence.

15. Recent discoveries prove that even at the microscopic level, life has a quality of complexity that could not have come about through evolution.

"Irreducible complexity" is the battle cry of Michael J. Behe of Lehigh University, author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. As a household example of irreducible complexity, Behe chooses the mousetrap--a machine that could not function if any of its pieces were missing and whose pieces have no value except as parts of the whole. What is true of the mousetrap, he says, is even truer of the bacterial flagellum, a whiplike cellular organelle used for propulsion that operates like an outboard motor. The proteins that make up a flagellum are uncannily arranged into motor components, a universal joint and other structures like those that a human engineer might specify. The possibility that this intricate array could have arisen through evolutionary modification is virtually nil, Behe argues, and that bespeaks intelligent design. He makes similar points about the blood's clotting mechanism and other molecular systems.

Yet evolutionary biologists have answers to these objections. First, there exist flagellae with forms simpler than the one that Behe cites, so it is not necessary for all those components to be present for a flagellum to work. The sophisticated components of this flagellum all have precedents elsewhere in nature, as described by Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University and others. In fact, the entire flagellum assembly is extremely similar to an organelle that Yersinia pestis, the bubonic plague bacterium, uses to inject toxins into cells.

The key is that the flagellum's component structures, which Behe suggests have no value apart from their role in propulsion, can serve multiple functions that would have helped favor their evolution. The final evolution of the flagellum might then have involved only the novel recombination of sophisticated parts that initially evolved for other purposes. Similarly, the blood-clotting system seems to involve the modification and elaboration of proteins that were originally used in digestion, according to studies by Russell F. Doolittle of the University of California at San Diego. So some of the complexity that Behe calls proof of intelligent design is not irreducible at all.

Complexity of a different kind--"specified complexity"--is the cornerstone of the intelligent-design arguments of William A. Dembski of Baylor University in his books The Design Inference and No Free Lunch. Essentially his argument is that living things are complex in a way that undirected, random processes could never produce. The only logical conclusion, Dembski asserts, in an echo of Paley 200 years ago, is that some superhuman intelligence created and shaped life.

Dembski's argument contains several holes. It is wrong to insinuate that the field of explanations consists only of random processes or designing intelligences. Researchers into nonlinear systems and cellular automata at the Santa Fe Institute and elsewhere have demonstrated that simple, undirected processes can yield extraordinarily complex patterns. Some of the complexity seen in organisms may therefore emerge through natural phenomena that we as yet barely understand. But that is far different from saying that the complexity could not have arisen naturally.
"Creation science" is a contradiction in terms. A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms. Thus, physics describes the atomic nucleus with specific concepts governing matter and energy, and it tests those descriptions experimentally. Physicists introduce new particles, such as quarks, to flesh out their theories only when data show that the previous descriptions cannot adequately explain observed phenomena. The new particles do not have arbitrary properties, moreover--their definitions are tightly constrained, because the new particles must fit within the existing framework of physics.

In contrast, intelligent-design theorists invoke shadowy entities that conveniently have whatever unconstrained abilities are needed to solve the mystery at hand. Rather than expanding scientific inquiry, such answers shut it down. (How does one disprove the existence of omnipotent intelligences?)

Intelligent design offers few answers. For instance, when and how did a designing intelligence intervene in life's history? By creating the first DNA? The first cell? The first human? Was every species designed, or just a few early ones? Proponents of intelligent-design theory frequently decline to be pinned down on these points. They do not even make real attempts to reconcile their disparate ideas about intelligent design. Instead they pursue argument by exclusion--that is, they belittle evolutionary explanations as far-fetched or incomplete and then imply that only design-based alternatives remain.

Logically, this is misleading: even if one naturalistic explanation is flawed, it does not mean that all are. Moreover, it does not make one intelligent-design theory more reasonable than another. Listeners are essentially left to fill in the blanks for themselves, and some will undoubtedly do so by substituting their religious beliefs for scientific ideas.

Time and again, science has shown that methodological naturalism can push back ignorance, finding increasingly detailed and informative answers to mysteries that once seemed impenetrable: the nature of light, the causes of disease, how the brain works. Evolution is doing the same with the riddle of how the living world took shape. Creationism, by any name, adds nothing of intellectual value to the effort.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Response to Dr. Olson the "Atheist Hater"

The original Atheist Hater post:


I am writing you concerning a recent article I read of yours titled “Atheism's moral philosophy not consistent with Baylor's mission”. In this article you make several claims that I think are not only irresponsible, but speak to a level of ignorance that make one ponder the pedigree of any organization that would bestow on you the title of PhD.

I am going to respond to several of the claims you made in defense of your mythology and show you how it is you the “theist” who is morally bankrupt. The first claim I would like to address is the following:

But when have you heard of an entire atheist organization serving the poor, the sick or the hungry?

Perhaps you missed the news story regarding the single largest donation (by a single citizen) to charity in U.S history. Warren Buffet (an Atheist), gave away 85% of his $40 billion dollar fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation, which is already worth $30 billion, was founded by Bill Gates who is an Atheist himself. This foundation is highly acclaimed, and is amongst the world’s leading charities. Notice, he didn’t give it to any religious foundations or churches of any kind.

This is to say nothing of the many other Atheist organizations which of but a few, are listed below:

Oxfam International

Council for Secular Humanism

The Nature Conservancy

Earth's Atheist Resistance To Holy Wars And Religious Devastation

Aesthetic Argentina

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation


Atheist Volunteers

Works Without

But more importantly, atheism undermines values such as care for others because it cannot explain why anyone should care for others. If there is no God or anything at all above nature, then nature is all there is. The law of nature is survival of the fittest. Why help the less fit survive unless there is a God who loves them because they are created in his image?

What exactly are you saying by this deplorable statement? If you had no belief in god you would lose all care for human life? Are you really that shallow? You only care for other humans because the camera in the sky is watching. Allow me a minute to recount a story on the subject.

When I was a theist, I often saw the homeless and downtrodden begging on the streets at intersections and I’ll admit, passed them by on more than one occasion. As I drove past them, a striking sense of guilt would often accompany the departure. “What if that was god? “What if it was an angel testing me”? I would often return and guilt trip myself into offering up some modest change or few dollars I had lying about. It wasn’t until I was much older and found myself in a similar position (this time as an Atheist) that I realized the true insincerity of the transaction. Who was I helping back then on that intersection him or me? If I gave him money while under the impression that the eye in the sky was recording my every good deed was it sincere?

Surely, one could argue that I really did it for the sake of some future reward, which I felt would be reciprocated once I arrived at that place “whence no traveler returns.” However, if I did it to avoid eternal torment did my insincerity favor any worse? No, I am certain that either deed was done out of pure selfishness and was simply enacted to either seek reward or avoid punishment. All the while, not a single one of these actions was done for the homeless man’s sake.

When I once again arrived at this sequence of events after my de-conversion, I remember giving to the man, really giving to the man for his sake not mine. This is something which I could have had only done once I lost my faith. It was then, that I knew then what human compassion and genuine empathy for my fellow man was like.

So my question to you would be - who do you think is more righteous among the two examples listed in your eyes, the selfish believers or the selfless Atheist?

What argument can atheism marshal against "might makes right"?

This rhetorical blabbering I find especially arrogant and extremely shortsighted. Never mind your misrepresentation of Natural selection in your previous statement you actually believe that Atheist live their philosophy on a might makes right philosophy. If that is not the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is! When I ask the theist to whom god is held accountable? They often reply that he is god and is righteous regardless of his judgments.

Suppose I put the question to you like this:

You come home one day to find your wife and children brutally murdered right before your eyes – would you consider that a bad or evil action? I would presume you would say yes, so I will proceed on with this in mind. Suppose that same situation played out, only this time you find out it was sanctioned by god. Impossible you say – I would have you read either of these to see the nasty side of this war mongering monster: 1 Samuel 6:19; Exodus 32:27; I Samuel 15:2,3,7,8; Numbers 15:36, etc…

So let’s say that god sanctioned the murder of your wife and children - is it still evil in your eyes or is he right in doing so? Does might make right? Most theists I meet say unanimously that yes god is right because god is incapable of committing evil. Now, lets think about this for a moment…what exactly are they saying? Their moral compass is dependent on the actions of the dictator. If god does something, no matter how terrible the action is - he is automatically justified in doing so because he is god (might makes right).

How is that any basis for personal morality? The moral compass shifts depending on the whims of the dictator! If god is incapable of committing evil, then what sense does it make to call him good? Both terms, lose all meaning since there is nothing left in which to relatively judge one in relation to the other.

Oh but I am not done on this point, for there is one arrow left in my quiver that will put your ignorant mouth to rest on this issue professor. Open your deplorable book of fairytales to Isaiah 45:7 would you?

(Isaiah 45:7, KJV) - "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

Lamentations 3:37-38 - Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both evil and good things come?

So it turns out your god is responsible for evil after all (yes its evil, not calamity). Look up the Hebrew word “Ra” which is hermeneutically correct for the following verses as mortal evil.

So I guess god would be righteous in killing your family even though he is evil and his actions are evil – Oh well, “might makes right”…right?

But what answer can an atheist give (that is consistent with atheism) to the question, "What if I figure out a way to be personally happy and fulfilled while oppressing other people?"

Professor, although your credentials are in the field of “theology” (a field which is hardly even a subject at all as far as I am concerned) surely you remember the plight of many Americans in the bible sanctioned institution of slavery.

Were not the plantation owners of yester year “personally happy and fulfilled while oppressing other people?” Not only were they fat dumb and happy, they were justified according to their (and your) holy texts. The bible condones slavery, one of the most deplorable institutions to ever touch the face of the earth.

Leviticus 25:44-46

44 " 'Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

What did gentle jesus have to say about slavery- almost nothing, except that there are some slaves that ought not be beaten as much as other slaves! (Luke 12:45-48).

In fact, the bible was used as one of the biggest justifications for slavery by the South. Here is what a few “giddy oppressors” had to say about the subject:

"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts." Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

"There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral." Rev. Alexander Campbell

"The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example." Rev. R. Furman, D.D., Baptist, of South Carolina

History supports the undeniable fact, that it was theism who was this “happy oppressor” you arrogantly use in defense of your position.

And atheism has no answer to social Darwinism -- the idea that society should not help the weak because it's nature's way to weed out the less fit.

This retarded retort my good professor, almost does not warrant a response due to its imbecility. It is a tired example of the theists employment of both the naturalistic and appeal to consequences fallacies. Why just this week I read an article stating that a lioness had nursed an antelope to adulthood. May I ask kind sir, by your own reasoning which religious denomination do you presume the lioness to be a member of?

(I recommend you read a thing or two on Feral children).

Not only does atheism undermine values; it also undermines meaning. I'm talking about meaningful reality -- life with meaning and purpose.

Damn! You certainly continue to surprise, just when I thought you couldn’t possibly say anything more gaumless than the last you ameliorate your stupidity. Meaningful reality you say? So that I have this right…an all powerful, all knowing god sacrifices himself to himself so that he might satisfy his own omniscient decree, by putting a Jew on a stick in the middle of ancient Palestine. This provides the ultimate and meaningful morality you speak of? Well damn that seems plausible doesn’t it? Very in touch with reality I see.

I contend that that sort of lunacy is anything but meaningful or true in the real world. Theist like yourself usually get all hot and bothered anytime anyone mentions the messiah or end of days. You lust for it like a dog in heat, waiting for the day in which you will be playing the Pachelbel cannon in D with a harp quartet lead by Jerry Falwell and Adolph Hitler. We on the other hand embrace this life as the only one we have and strive to live it to the fullest. That does not mean we go out and act out every hedonistic thrill that comes to mind or that we commit acts of violence against our neighbors due to this realization. For if you are certain this is the only life you get, surely you do not want to act in ways which would have you spend that precious time in jail! In fact, it may be because of this realization that Atheist comprise the smallest percentage of the prison population. (I’ll give you one guess as to who is the largest)

On that, why do you suppose Christians not only comprise 98% of the prison population, but are the most likely to end their marriage in divorce? Atheist actually a lower divorce rate than you guys! If jesus makes such a difference, shouldn’t his glory be apparent amongst the life of his followers? Well it isn’t and I would send you here for more details.

What makes something evil or unjust if nothing like God exists -- if nature is all there is? Only subjective choice either by an individual or a society. But that can change and it often does. Without God, the social prophet has no way out of relativism.

Does your hypocrisy know no bounds? You contend that without an absolute authority like god or the (magical book of fairytales) morality is subjective, well YES that is true. ALL morality is subjective and I will prove it using your own “holy” book.

If what you say is true you shall have no room to put aside or not comply with the numerous edicts set forth in your inspired book of absolutism. Shall we test where your absolute morality lies?

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says the following regarding disobedient and rebellious children:

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death.

I say if your children are living, they are either are anesthetized or you sir are a hypocrite! Using some of that subjective morality are we?

Ah let me guess what you are thinking…”that verse in Deuteronomy does not apply to me since I am a Christian”. Well interesting enough, as barbaric as this verse is, it’s one of the abhorrent decrees that jesus himself uses in the new testament.

In the 15th chapter of Matthew, the Pharisees are chastising jesus because his followers break from the Jewish tradition of washing their hands before they eat. jesus replies with the following:

Matthew 15 3

Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death!

In this verse, jesus is using the requirement of killing rebellious children as leverage over the Pharisees. Apparently, they were using too much of their own subjective morality by deciding not to kill disobedient children.

This just the tip of the iceberg my good professor, I can show you time and again why your own stance on the absolutism of the bible is grounded in your own subjective interpretation. For more on the subject, I will direct you to Mr. Dan Barker and his many writings on the subject of Atheism and morality here.

Your remarkably disillusioned diatribe was certainly off the mark and read like the same old regurgitated argument which has now been allowed to permeate the halls of a prestigious university. Don’t feel too bad, this is sadly par for the course. Despite the enormous amount of material available on the subject, Christians are still largely unaware that there exists informed criticism of their faith.

Greydon pwning the hell out of a theist talk show host. Great job Grey!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007


Least Religious Countries

When you travel to Europe, don't be surprised to find that many Europeans don't believe in God. I have even witnessed some alcohol-infused conversations between Americans and Europeans that almost ended in fistfights over His/Her existence. When you travel to the following countries, you might want to pick a less controversial topic of conversation ... umm, maybe George W?

Here are the Top 10 least religious countries in the world:

1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
2. Vietnam
3. Denmark
4. Norway
5. Japan
6. Czech Republic
7. Finland
8. France
9. South Korea
10. Estonia (up to 49% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)

The one that surprised me was Israel, ranking 19th, with up to 37% claiming to be non-believer, atheist, agnostic. Compare that with the United States, ranking 44th, with 3-9% non-believers, atheists, agnostics. (I think I have met them all on the streets of New York City, too.)

The survey concluded that "high levels of organic atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality. Most nations characterized by high degrees of individual and societal security have the highest rates of organic atheism, and conversely, nations characterized by low degrees of individual and societal security have the lowest rates of organic atheism. In some societies, particularly Europe, atheism is growing. However, throughout much of the world -- particularly nations with high birth rates -- atheism is barely discernable."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007




Over the past few hundred years, scholars have been divided on the historicity of the character known as Yeshua ben Yusef aka (Jesus Christ). The division is the result of a tendency to give the gospel accounts more credibility than they deserve. This subject has been answered at length by Rook on these boards and is not the issue I wish to address at this time. In a way this post is for those, who (like myself) deny the credibility of the accounts attested to in the canonical gospels.

The character known as Jesus in the gospels has the following things said about him:

  1. Walked on water
  2. Healed the blind
  3. Raised the dead
  4. Fed 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish
  5. Resurrected from the dead after 3 days, etc…

If you deny this character (as presented above) as having done these things, what are you saying? Are you not denying that literary character’s existence?

One common reply to the argument is:

Though the Jesus attested to in the gospels is myth, he was probably based on a historical personality.

This is nothing more than an argument of faith. It takes faith to believe in a historical Jesus, since we have absolutely no external attestation to this character outside of the gospel tradition. Why the reliance on their having been a historical figure for the basis of the story? Is this not special pleading? – We don’t say things like: “Dionysus was a myth but he was based on a historical Dionysus, or Hercules had to have been based on a historical figure”. This is the equivalent of saying “Yeah I know the Iliad is mythology, but the Cyclops in the story- that guy was real.”