Quote of the Day, by Robert Conner

To argue that Islam is a religion of peace is as patently absurd as arguing that Christianity is a religion of science.

Saudi Cleric Says the Sun Rotates Around the Earth!

This video shows why reasonable people cannot base our conclusions on any ancient pre-scientific sacred text. All of the explanations for why the earth doesn't move are ignorant ones, having previously concluded the "facts" via "revelation." Reasonable people do not proceed in this manner. Believers do it all the time.

The Ultimate Prayer Challenge to PROVE God


Go ahead, I dare you, theists! Give it a shot
In 2013, when the Boy Scouts lifted its ban on gay scouts, Executive Pastor Tim Hester, of the Louisville Southeast Christian mega-church, announced that the scouts were no longer welcome to meet at the church. The decision was based on a “lot of prayer.” That church boasts 30,000 members, so there must have been a lot a data-streaming from the divine mind to human minds.

Is anybody suspicious?

But can’t we test this, scientifically…or at least semi-scientifically? That is, let’s approach the ‘power of prayer’ with genuine curiosity, and do our best to eliminate bias and fluke.

Another Problem with the Boethian Solution


This may be beating a dead horse, but some people are convinced the horse is alive and well. So here’s something else that's wrong with the Boethian attempt to escape theological determinism.

According to Boethians, God doesn’t have foreknowledge of one’s future actions because God is outside of time. He therefore does not foresee what we are going to do, he timelessly sees what we are going to do. And that, they claim, means that we remain free to choose among different possible courses of action.

What Were the First Baptist Church Victims Praying For?


I have little doubt that last week’s mass shooting in Sutherland Springs made even many religious people question their faith. How could such a thing happen in a church, to people who were worshipping? Where was God? One preacher, however, explained it in a way that even those of us who’ve pretty much heard it all might find surprising.

According to Hans Fiene, a Lutheran pastor from Illinois, “When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them.”

The Triple Tragedy of a Human Sacrifice


Christian theology fails the decency test
When crucifixes are part of church and home décor—and even sported as jewelry—it’s hard to get the point across that something is terribly wrong: A horrifying belief has been normalized…and for what? Guy Harrison has made the point perfectly: “No one seems to know why a god who makes all the rules and answers to no one couldn’t just pardon us and skip the barbaric crucifixion event entirely.” (Christian in the Light of Science, ed. John Loftus, 2016)

The central doctrine of the Christian faith should make decent people shudder….no, it should make them wretch. And no, the apostle Paul acknowledging that Christ-crucified is a stumbling block doesn’t “make it all better.” These verses emerged from his troubled mind:

Why Are Atheists Mistrusted?


The first commandment doesn’t say “Thou shalt not have no gods,” but rather “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The main concern there is not with atheism, but with competing religious beliefs. And at first it does seem that belief in rival deities should, if anything, be regarded as worse than lack of belief. Just like atheists, members of other religions fail to believe in the Christian’s god of choice. But in addition, they believe in false gods! Surely, that’s the greater crime.

And yet, that’s not how the religious see it these days. Ever since religion stopped being central to one’s tribal identity — especially in the West — those with different religious beliefs have been tolerated. “Thou shalt have no other gods” is no longer so important. Rather, it is atheists who are now viewed as the remaining enemy. And the reason seems obvious. Atheists don’t merely reject these people's religion; they reject the very idea of religion.

Plus ça change...Bible licker Roy Moore's turn?

11/9: Whoops! Women are coming forward according to a report in Washington Post.

11/10: Jerry Falwell, Jr. to the rescue! 

11/11: Steve Schmidt: "Roy Moore is a pedophile."

11/13: Roy Moore, a Biblical "family values" paragon.

11/13: “I thought that he was going to rape me,” Nelson said. 

11/13: Cops: Roy Moore banned from Gadsden Mall for hitting on teens.
11/14: 50 Alabammy preacher men!








Before the Big Bang: The No Boundary Proposal

Skydivephil has just released a new film in his Before the Big Bang Series that explores competing scientific models of the early universe. In this part Stephen Hawking and his colleagues James Hartle and Thomas Hertog discuss their No Boundary Proposal for the quantum origin of our universe.

In the film Hawking discussed his new work which implies the multiverse of eternal inflation is actually finite rather than infinite. Although the film is about the science of the early universe, some of it touches on issues raised in atheists/theist debates. For example, some theists claim that if inflation generates a multiverse it doesn't solve fine tuning, since inflation itself needs fine tuning. But these scientists counter that inflation does not need fine tuning in The No Boundary Proposal. At the 49:03 mark, Hawking finishes with a nice quote about why the universe does not need an intelligent creator. Enjoy.

Quote Of the Day by Mattapult

From what I have read of Edward Feser, he doesn't provide any testable data, just arguments. Intelligent as these arguments might be, they are guessing. They are no better than hypothetical models produced by theoretical physicists that await testing and verification.

If we could get by on mere brainpower, then we would have little use for telescopes, microscopes, spectrometers, partial accelerators, and so on. But why stop there? All medical diagnosis should be done a priori. X-rays, blood tests, and MRI's wouldn't be necessary. But we do. Data rules, that is the lesson of the Enlightenment.

It Does Not Matter How You Philosophically Dress It Up. A Delusion is a Delusion is a Delusion.

[First published in February 2013]. William Lane Craig says he knows God personally by the inner witness of the Spirit. He needs no other evidence. He claims this subjective inner witness trumps all objective evidence. He knows that he knows that he knows. Let's place this claim of his side by side with others who claim the same thing, and see what we get. My contention is that religious faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities.

God Be Damned!

My heart goes out to the 8 family members killed in the Texas church attack. God be damned!

Three generations of one family were killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, the family told The Daily Beast. Six members of the Holcombe family were shot to death inside First Baptist Church. Bryan Holcombe was guest preaching at the church and was killed along with his wife, Karla, a Sunday school teacher. Their daughter-in-law, Crystal Holcombe, a mother who was eight months pregnant, was also killed with three of her children. Crystal’s husband, John Holcombe, was shot but survived the attack, along with two of their other children. Marc Daniel Holcombe, Bryan and Karla’s son, was also killed, along with his 1-year-old daughter, a grandfather confirmed. LINK

Dr. David Eagleman On Being a Possibilian

David Eagleman is "founder and co-director of the Center for Science and Law, which studies how new discoveries in neuroscience can navigate the way we make laws, punish criminals, and develop rehabilitation." A few years back The New Yorker did a story on Eagleman calling him The Possibilian. What is that you ask? Watch this entertaining 20 minute talk, where he explains why he's a possibilian, rather than an atheist or a believer, who are both "certain" they are right.

He misunderstands what an atheist is, since there's nothing he says that isn't what I can agree on.

Nope, the Word Of God Doesn’t Endure Forever


How to be a patriot when the world is about to end

On the northern Indiana prairie where I was raised in the 1950s, a seamless blend of Christianity and patriotism had been achieved. We were up against Godless communism, after all, so what could make more sense?

One of our daily newspapers was The Indianapolis Star, whose masthead included words from II Corinthians 3:17: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The editors of the paper no doubt assumed that the apostle Paul and Patrick Henry were kindred spirits. But in fact Paul was not writing about liberty as Henry understood it. The last thing Paul had in mind was freedom from human tyranny.

Just how stupid and gullible are America's evangelicals?


BTW, a "pastor" who laid hands on the current president.

A Timeless God and Theological Determinism


Many theists believe both in a god with infallible knowledge about the future and in libertarian free will, and thus face the problem of how to reconcile these two ideas. An attempted solution which has come up in the comments section here more than once is the so-called “Boethian solution.” It maintains that God is outside of time, and so does not actually have foreknowledge. From his extra-temporal vantage point, God sees all of time — past, present, and future — all “at once,” so to speak. Therefore, he does not foresee what you’re going to do tomorrow; rather, he sees it, much as we see the present.

The most common reply to this is to point out — correctly, in my opinion — that a timeless god is a contradiction in terms. But there is another problem with the Boethian solution, which is that, even if we set aside problems with timelessness, it doesn’t work!

Hell and the 2007 Slasher Film Hostel: Part 2

I don't watch very many horror films and even fewer slasher films. I picture myself as one of the victims, never one the killers, so they always make me hate the killers. I don't want to hate. So I don't enjoy these movies so much. Plus, lots of gore is uninteresting to me. But since this is the season to scream, and because one of these films was made available for free last night, my wife and I watched the 2007 slasher film Hostel: Part 2. It has generated a fair amount of criticism and censorship over the years, since 2007. [Trailer below]

Doubt Leads to Disbelief, But Why?

Slowly but methodologically doubt leads to disbelief. This is what happens over and over in the lives of ex-Christians like me. No wonder doubt is frowned upon as a vice, while faith is touted as a virtue. Look where it can lead! The question to be taken seriously is why doubt leads to disbelief rather than to faith.

Rene Decartes laid down a good challenge. Doubt everything as much as possible for once in your life. Descartes was a good Catholic so it's not just me saying it. Doubt your faith as if you were an outsider to it, never having heard of it before. Do so by seeking objective evidence for it rather than 2nd 3rd 4th handed down anecdotal evidence to confirm it. Look for coherent beliefs. Try to make sense of its doctrines. It's not too late to start the 2017 Debunking Christianity Challenge.

Can We Send Christianity Packing…ASAP?


Not a chance. But steady erosion is still a plan…
The pious among us are so sure that religion improves the world. They can point to gazillions of examples of believers doing good, without granting that charitable behavior doesn’t have to be motivated by a god spying on you—or its spirit molding your character. It has often been pointed out that you’re a better person if you do good without being prodded by an imaginary friend.

Despite the unctuous pretense, religion is a threat—and it is hardly in retreat. We can see a gathering storm, a catastrophe barreling down on us. More than ten years ago, Christianity Today published an article that should snap secular folks to attention. You think we should worry about global warming? Well, yes, but add this to your disaster list:

Dr. Zingrone On The Continued Rise of the Irreligious and What it Means

Dr. William A. Zingrone expertly comments on the continued rise of the irreligious in a recent post for D.O.N.E (Defenders of the New Enlightenment). This is welcome news despite the rise of the Trumpster's "deplorables". Here's a teaser:
In but 40 years, the mid-70’s to today, the number of US folks identifying as “white Xian” has been nearly cut in half from 82% (the vast majority) to 43%...And its not just that church-goers aren’t predominantly white anymore, it is the number of “Nones” (no religious affiliation) that has increased to a quarter of the US population. There are now significantly less churchgoers, not just white ones, the Nones now being larger than either US Catholics (down to 21% from 25% in the 70’s) or White Evangelical Protestants (down to 16%).

Nones. 25% of the US population, and now 38% of the 18-30 year olds...Let that sink in. The irreligious, in America are bigger than the Catholics or Evangelicals. It doesn’t seem like it, does it? LINK.

Thanks John Appleton for praying for me!

My Christian Facebook friend John Appleton wrote, "John, my prayers for you, which I have faithfully said every day since I took up your prayer challenge, is that someday sooner rather than later you would use your considerable gifts to win others to Christ as you once did."

I responded, "John In my days as a Christian I decided to pray daily that Elton John would become a Christian and write Christian songs, but he never did."

Then this discussion ensued, ending with me asking if he would commit to testing his prayers for two months and report back, based on a method I developed for honestly testing prayers.

Teaching Science is Not Indoctrination!

Here's a discussion on David Marshall's Facebook wall about indoctrination and science. I had said, "Teach science and religions die. Sorry about that. Evolution is science. Religions die as science is taught. It doesn't matter that you say many scientists are believers since there are many options as believers which probably excludes your type of Christianity...Teach science is what I say should be done. Teaching people to think like scientists is what I do. And this is indoctrination? Methinks anyone dismissing science like this is indoctrinated." [Link below]

Who in Hell Makes Science a God?

Scientific theories are only good till the next fact that throws doubt onto the theory comes along--and that is precisely why I find it surprising that John Loftus etc rely so much on scientific 'truth' as if the scientific view of reality at any given time really does reflect that reality. I would have thought the history of science would have shown one should exercise caution with such a position. Science is great but lets not, ironically, make it into a god.
When I say believers must denigrate or deny science in one or more areas to believe, Realist1234 is our example of the day. Let's put it this way, if we want to know anything about the nature of the universe, how it behaves, or how it originated then the only way to gain this knowledge is through science. It's not just that science is the best alternative. It's rather that there is no other alternative. Does this make science a god? What could that possibly mean? Scientific minded people don't worship science. They question it, relentlessly, by testing hypotheses under peer-review until there's a scientific consensus on a matter [See the 700+ page book for this]. Has science been wrong? Yes. It can be corrected with subsequent objective evidence and shown wrong by other scientists. Religion however, never shows science wrong. Science always corrects religion because science deals with objective evidence, not faith. Believers who accuse scientific minded people of worshiping science do so because they feel everyone worships something perceived as greater than themselves. That's it. They feel the need to worship something so they think everyone does. But that's just one of the delusions they have. Evolution shows us there is nothing to worship. We just exist. We are alone in the universe. Are there things science doesn't know? Yes! Are there things science can never know? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Science is still in its infancy, so I cannot say. If there are things science cannot know, we'll just have to admit there are unsolvable mysteries. It does no good and advances nothing to substitute one mystery for another, say in a god.

To see what happens to Christianity when critically examined by science click here.

Rampant Crap Theology: another Christian Specialty


Desperation for purpose in the Cosmos

It’s a pretty good bet that not one in a thousand churchgoers today could pick out Karl Barth in a line-up—or be able to tell you what he did. Yet he was one of the most prolific theologians of the 20th century; he produced a 14-volume work called Church Dogmatics, written between 1932 and 1967. He even made the cover of Time magazine in 1962.

Nor would many churchgoers these days have the patience or stamina to get through some 8,000 pages of Barth’s exposition of the Christian faith. But never mind, academically trained theologians write for other theologians and clergy; for generations to come, Barth’s thought will be the subject of countless books, essays, articles, and doctoral dissertations. So much time will be wasted. Laypeople do not need to be persuaded to stay away from that black hole.

Why Do So Many Christian Apologists Act Like Know-It-Alls?

No humble people they! Ask them. They'll answer all your questions. They know-it-all about quantum mechanics, able to reject scientists (with a single bound) who have theories opposed to their god concept, while siding with those who support it. Doing this must mean they know as much as the scientists in these fields do! Unlike the wise Socrates who admitted he was not wise, they claim they're wise, thereby making themselves out as fools. Not the fools Paul the Apostle spoke of, who rejected the wisdom of the world, but the kind of fools Peter Boghossian wrote of, who pretend to know that which they don't know. They reject evolution, or the clear implications of evolution, which means they know as much as evolutionary scientists do, and/or theologians! They know as much as biblical scholars do, since they're able to take sides in their disputes (and tell us who wins but not why, except to mindlessly quote--mine from them). They can even read the ancient biblical languages and know which translations are best! They know as much as philosophers who debate god-concepts. They know as much as archaeologists, astronomers, historians, ethicists, cultural anthropologists, geologists, cosmologists, and so on, and so on, because they can tell which scholars are right in every discipline that touches on their faith. And guess what? Surprise! They always judge which of these scholars are correct based on their previously adopted faith with its sectarian interpretation of an ancient pre-scientific book, written mainly by anonymous people! This is either truly amazing or utterly ignorant! It's what you get by pretending to know that which you don't know, rather than practicing the virtue of authenticity. Defending the Christian faith requires special pleading. We already knew that. It's also an exercise lacking the virtue of authenticity, the antonyms of which are found online, with words like, counterfeit, fake, concocted, deceptive, delusory, disingenuous, inauthentic and misleading. "Liars for Jesus" seems to be a phrase that fits. [Hence the tag below].

Thomas Paine: On Religious Revolution, Pretending, and Hearsay Testimonies

Thomas Paine is our intellectual hero, not only for calling America to declare independence from Britain in 1776, but also calling for a revolution of religion eighteen years later in a brilliant classic work, The Age of Reason, which is still in print and still changing the minds of believers today. I'm going to provide excerpts of the final edition of his work in several posts. Enjoy the first one. It's powerful, as much so as anything you'll find in David Hume, David Friedrich Strauss, Robert Ingersoll or Bertrand Russell. In it you'll find he stole something from Peter Boghossian, who defined faith as "Pretending to know things you don't know." ;-) Confound the ancients, they've stolen all of our ideas! Look for the many quotable quotes that can be found in Paine's writings.
TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I PUT the following work under your protection. It contains my opinions upon Religion. You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. --THOMAS PAINE

Victor Reppert Just Cannot Ignore the Force of the Outsider Test for Faith

Dr. Reppert keeps trying to chip away at my argument in The Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), and there's a reason why. There's a force to it he cannot ignore. Inside his head one side says there's got to be something wrong with it. The other side comes up with something, anything, to deflect the force of it so he can continue believing. You would think if he's demolished it there would be noting left to say, right? But his other side keeps thinking about it, wondering if there's something to it, and subsequently false about his faith. In Vic's post, titled "The Outsider Test for Human Rights, or OTHR" he said,
We might ask what evidence there is that rights exist. You have a feeling that everyone ought to be treated equally. Isn't that just your social conditioning? If you grew up in India, and were raised to believe that people occupy different positions in the caste system based on the Law of Karma, wouldn't you think that the idea that everyone was created (or evolved?) equal was slightly ridiculous? LINK.
In the comments I wrote,
As the person who has named and argued for the OTF, let me say that an OTHR is merely asking for a justifying reason for embracing this or that human right. Since no religion passes the OTF this means the justification for human rights must be found in secular reasons based on whatever evidence is available. The OTHR does not automatically entail people will agree, but it does offer a standard that reasonable people should embrace.

If nothing else, since people without religion are demanding to live under secular democracies, a secular democracy is probably the best way to eventually achieve a consensus about human rights, even though it's far from perfect.
I answered this type of objection previously. Just substitute "Human Rights" in place of "Moral/political views" in what I wrote here. Until next time...

On Women, Science and Democracy in the Bible.

The tenth commandment alone, all by itself, shows Christians to be indoctrinated to the point of blindness not to see that women were regarded just a bit below a man's property, yet higher than his slaves. If not, paying a dowry to a father for his daughter's hand in marriage, as if she was a commodity, all but proves this. [For more on Christianity and women see Annie Laurie Gaylor's chapter in Christianity is Not Great].

It's like claiming Christianity was responsible for science, even though the Bible depicts a 10,000+ year old flat earth, while stressing the virtue of faith over objective empirical evidence. [For more on the flat earth depicted in the Bible see Edward Babinski's chapter in The Christian Delusion, and for more on the origins of science see Richard Carrier's chapter in The Christian Delusion.

It's like claiming Christianity is responsible for the rise of democracy, even though the biblical god is pictured as a king who sets up kings and kingdoms on earth, and who condemns free speech from people who live different lives, even to the point of death if they fail to comply. [For more on the origins of democracy see Richard Carrier's chapter in Christianity is Not Great].

Can't believers deflect the atheist argument that they were raised to believe, by throwing it back on them?

Q. Can't believers deflect the atheist argument that they were raised to believe, by throwing it back on them? Logic would mean that atheists need to agree that they are atheists because of when and where they were born. You can't have it only one way.

A. Most atheists were raised as believers, so this doesn't equally apply. But no, we can't have it only one way. You're right. What the accidents of birth entail is that we cannot trust what we were taught by our Moms and Pops in our different religious cultures. That's actually quite shocking to most people, but it's easily recognized when pointed out. So this news requires that upon becoming adults every boy and girl should doubt the religion taught to them, just as if they were born as outsiders to it. They should require objective evidence for the faith they were raised to believe.

Now you can try to deflect this requirement if you want, but it's incumbent on everyone because of what we were raised to believe due to the accidents of birth. But if children are raised to know how to think, rather than what to think, and if they are taught to think for themselves and follow the objective evidence wherever it leads, then those children usually end up as non-believers, precisely because of the accidents of their births! Sorry about that, but thems the facts. It could turn out otherwise, but it doesn't. For lots of evidence showing the Christian faith wrong there's a pretty good book I recommend. It's called, Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World's Largest Religion.

Those Sinful Atheists


A common criticism of atheism is that we atheists “just want to sin.” Dinesh D’Souza, for example, said that “the perennial appeal of atheism” is that it “liberates us for the pleasures of sin and depravity,” while Lee Strobel claimed that prior to becoming a Christian, he had a strong motivation for remaining an atheist — namely, a “self-serving and immoral lifestyle” that he would have to give up if he ever became a follower of Jesus.