Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blind Faith

Remember Jonestown? That was a case of blind faith. Seems bad right? Blind faith caused the deaths of 918 people in the largest loss of American life until 9/11. How does this impact religion as a whole? To answer this question we need to understand the principle claim of atheism.

Why am I an atheist? The main reason is the lack of evidence for any deity. This is a common debate topic between atheists and theists. The nonbeliever asks for evidence of the theist's claim. Theists have  several interesting but inherently incorrect answers, including (a) There is evidence (existence, beauty, etc.) and (b) The purpose of this life is to test our faith (or some derivation). The first answer is one that I will answer another time, as the topic of this post is blind faith. The second answer IS one of blind faith. So blind faith is a key aspect of all religions.

So exactly how does the Jonestown massacre impact religion? What happened at Jonestown is an example of the danger of religion, when the believers have blind faith in an aspect of nihilism (belief in nothing). The characteristic of nihilism evident in many religions is why terrorists can do what they do. That is why Islam is a major factor in Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They actually believe that they will be rewarded for going on a suicide mission (crazy, right?). Jonestown happened because the Temple members had blind faith in their leader and their religion. When Jim told them to kill themselves they complied, like sheep about to be butchered.

Jesus is my shepherd.

See the comparison? Religion that requires blind faith (the only one that doesn't is the one from Star Wars) is counterproductive at best and dangerous at worst. So why is blind faith cherished in our community?

P.S. If anyone wants the sheep metaphor to be explained I will be happy to oblige.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Divine Crime Scene

Theists often argue that God doesn't reveal himself because he respects our free will, that he wants us to choose between heaven and hell. This is an incredibly stupid argument, but I am going to answer it logically and politely (from here on out).

Atheists are atheists because there is no evidence for the existence of any deity (including the Christian god). If God existed, and he wanted us to choose our afterlife, the logical thing that he would have done is reveal himself, or at least give some evidence of his existence. But there is no evidence. No data. Making a choice requires data. Why? Let's examine an analogy.

The title of this post is The Divine Crime Scene, not because of any crime committed by the Christian God (although he is a criminal), but because of the analogy that I will now use.

When one is accused of committing a crime, one goes to a hearing. At the hearing, the different sides present their cases using evidence. The judge or jury then decides if the person is guilty or innocent. If there was no evidence, then the decree would simply be a random guess. Is this a good way to make a choice? No!

Therefore, if God existed, wasn't an idiot, and cared about our free will, then the least he would do would be to provide evidence for his existence. Since there is no evidence, the logical assumptions would be that (a) God doesn't exist, (b) He is an idiot, or (c) He doesn't care about our free will. None of which are beneficial to the apologist.

So what do you think? Does God care about our free will? Does he even exist? Please explain your answer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Necessity of Separation of Church and State

Separation of church and state is necessary because religion advocates faith over reason. The story of Abraham is a paradigm for this illogical and often amoral idea. Abraham was charged by God to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to prove his faith. Abraham was WILLING to do so. Isaac's death was fortunately avoided, but the tale begs the question: What would the faithful be willing to do in the name of their faith? It is highly irrational to sacrifice one's son based on one's faith. The answer is simple: the faithful would be willing to do anything within their power in the name of their faith. This includes but is not limited to: terrorism (think Scott Roeder), hate speech (think Westboro Baptists), and ostracism (just think). Now if that power were increased; say by electing one of these radical theists to a position of power, what would they be able to do? Let's examine the governments of faith:

Bloody Mary's Catholic government of England: 280 religious dissenters were burned at the stake
Spanish Inquisition: 3000-5000 executed; many heretics were tortured
Roman Inquisition: 1250 sentenced to death
Crusades (justified by theocratic Europe): 1,000,000 - 9,000,000 deaths
Thirty Years War (internal conflict between Catholics and Protestants): 3,000,000 - 11,500,000 dead

The list goes on and on. Theocratic governments characterized by making decisions off of faith instead of reason would be oppressive, genocidal, and amoral. I am not advocating an atheist state (although I certainly would like one), but a secular one. The separation of state from religion and the lack thereof will remove controversial issues and extremists from legal power. This is the necessity of the separation of church and state.

Based on this evidence and other evidence that you can find: "Would you or wouldn't you vote for Rick Perry?"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Mind Set of Theists

Religion cannot prove its message to be true. Every single one of them advocates some form of ridiculous myth that no one in their right mind would accept. So why do so many people follow a certain religious denomination?

I do not profess to have a psychology degree, but here is my claim. From an early age, children are indoctrinated into the religion of their parents/guardians. This leads to the development of attachment to that particular religion. This is the keystone of religion. Attachment. Attachment is a primary cause of irrationality. You see it all the time in movies. The hero forms a bond with a chick and will do ANYTHING to save her, including risking his own life and sometimes the success of whatever quest or mission the protagonists are attempting. Therefore, the logical argument: Attachment à Irrationality. I’m not saying that attachment is bad. But sometimes attachment is unhealthy.

How does attachment affect a person’s view on his/her religion? As stated in the previous paragraph, attachment causes irrationality. This is why rational people can have irrational beliefs. They form an attachment with a single object/idea, and they behave irrationally whenever they encounter something concerning the idea/object that they are attached to. Therefore, the next part of our algorithm: Attachment à Irrationality à Acceptance of Religion.

Attachment is the reason that so many people  accept faith. Indoctrination at an early age establishes attachment, establishes irrationality, and in some cases, establishes extremism. The removal of attachment when it comes to faith is a long road because attachment is such a strong bond. It might even be a type of brainwashing.

This algorithm begs the question: Is attachment always bad and should it be removed from society?

Please answer the question in the comments section, just because I don’t feel like answering it right now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Creationism vs. Evolution

This is my response to a creationist attempt at satire on The Evangelical Outpost.

First of all. Saying I DON'T KNOW is better than telling an unproved tale of epic ridiculousness. In saying I don't know, you acknowledge that mankind's knowledge is incomplete and that there are more answers to discover. Being content with a theological story of creation is not the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is the state of knowing everything. While science will never completely enlighten us, it will get us as close as possible (for the calculus geeks like me, enlightenment is a limit).

Second, that is a horrid misrepresentation of the big bang theory. A common misconception is that there was nothing before the big bang. There is evidence that matter existed before the big bang, which caused the universe to occur. While this is quite dandy, it is not enough for theists. It is not enough for scientists, but they try to expand upon it, not refute it because it hasn't been proved (and no, you can't use that argument, because the bang actually has evidence, unlike creationism).