Thursday, December 21, 2006

Secularism and Criminality in Males

Joel Schwarz says than men are less religious than women because men tend to partake in more risk-taking behavior. He quotes Rodney Stark:

Stark said lower rates of male religiousness is a form of risk-taking behavior just as criminality is, and men are far more likely to commit crimes than women.

"Any phenomenon that occurs in many and very different social and cultural settings necessitates explanations that are equally general, which tends to rule out most social and cultural factors," he wrote in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

"Recent studies of biochemistry imply that both male irreligiousness and male lawlessness are rooted in the fact that far more males than females have an underdeveloped ability to inhibit their impulses, especially those involving immediate gratification and thrills."

The upshot is that some men are shortsighted and don't think ahead, and so "going to prison or going to hell just doesn't matter to these men," Stark said.


So in response, I wrote an email to Mr. Schwarz (His email address is listed at the header above the article):

"Mr. Schwarz,

Your article on men being more impulsive and less religious than women was interesting. You pointed out that men are less religious, while simultaneously being more criminal-minded and risk-taking, than women.

So I am interested in your take on a few questions that popped into my head:

If irreligiosity correlates with -or is somehow related to- higher crime, then why does post-religious Europe have less murder, less rape, less petty crime, less substance abuse, less infant mortality, higher life expectancy, higher education ratings, and generally higher quality of life ratings than much-more-religious America?

And if secularism relates to the higher risk-taking behavior of men, then is it safe to say that higher religiosity in women relates to their tendency to be more submissive?

And finally, why is Europe less dangerous, and healthier, than America if it is also less religious?

Sincerely,

Aaron Kinney"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Atheism Online 2.0 is Launched!

Great news everybody! Atheism Online 2.0 is launched! It's back, with a vengeance.

Black Sun Journal, Goosing the Antithesis, The Evangelical Atheist, 10,000 Reasons to Doubt the Fish, and Kill The Afterlife are the new sponsors.

Sean Prophet has taken the lead and done amazing work on the new site. I invite everyone with an atheism-related site, blog, or forum to head over there and register in the directory, even if your site is already listed on the blogroll. If you did so before in the past, please do so again. It will generate more hits for you, and make you look really snazzy. We also have cool new buttons for you to put on your site. Visit the Black Sun Journal link at the top of this post for all the details.

Among other things, the new and improved site has a blogroll, directory, news feeds, FAQs, articles, links, and even a discussion forum! A few of these features are still undergoing a little tweaking, but the progress is coming along quickly and they will be fully functional very soon.

So what are you waiting for? Visit the site, check out all the great links and resources, and get yourself listed!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holy Spirit: Denied

Today I took the Blasphemy Challenge, and I denied the Holy Spirit. And, I filmed it and posted the video on YouTube. Check it out:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Charlie Brown Must Die



*I dont really think Charlie Brown should die, but this video is just absolutely hilarious!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Soulster and Morality

Yesterday, I left a comment for Soulster at Philaletheia, asking him about his thoughts on The Euthyphro Dilemma. Soulster posted a blog entry today, responding to me and sharing his thoughts on the matter.

My trust in Soulster's intellect is well founded. Soulster quickly grasped the dilemma, and even asked me to interject if I thought he was misinterpreting the issue. I don't think he was.

Having said that, I must note that I respectfully disagree with his conclusions. This itself isn't a surprise, since he is a Christian and I am an atheist. But what did surprise me was the kind of response he gave considering his Christian worldview. Although his response was surprising to me, this was not a bad thing. Indeed, it was refreshing, even if it was a bit relativistic:

So my answer to the question “Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it's commanded by God?” is this:

1. Some of what is moral is moral because it is defined within a culture. That does not insure that such a thing would be moral to every person or to God. For example, some premodern tribes in Southeast Asia practice ritual rape and consider it moral because it is "demanded by the spirits." I would not consider it moral, along with many other people, and I do not think God would consider it moral.

2. Some of what is moral is moral because it is judged to be so by a person. I may not agree with the morality of my culture on an issue, but I generally agree there are morals and hold to some and agree to hold others in common with groups. A personal God would also make such judgments with regards to human behavior and his own behavior towards humans, but such judgments are meaningless outside of that context. (For example, can you do something immoral to a rock?) Where people disagree in this case, the solution is rhetorical and relational, but not absolute.

3. Some morality is commanded by God in his interaction with culture and individuals, just as certain morals are commanded by any authority in interaction with humans. For example, God did not originally command against nudity in Genesis. The prohibition of nudity was the invention of humans who had taken the responsibilty of judgment upon themsevles apart from God (human judgment outside divine relationship). However, much later in the Law God does make at least one rule concerning nudity and underpants for temple priests. Likewise, there are rules of modesty throughout the Bible. The conclusion that I see is that God is working with this moral because it matters to us and has real consequences, not because it is an absolute. To claim modesty is an absolute simply because God commanded it in interaction is neither necessary nor reasonable, just as God's interaction does not imply or require himi to be the originator of the more.


Soulster's first point (1) is refreshing in that he bases morality (or "some" morality) on humans rather than God. Soulster is the first Christian I've ever encountered that doesn't assign all moral foundations to "God says so," and in that regard, I am both surprised and encouraged. Soulster may not like to hear me say this, but I believe that founding morality on humans, or founding it on anything other than God, is an un-Christian thing to do.

But nevertheless, I disagree with Soulster when he says, "Some of what is moral is moral because it is defined within a culture." My moral framework is composed of universal principles that apply equally to everybody, and those principles are derived from axioms. Most importantly, the axiom of self-ownership. Rape is wrong because it violates another’s sovereignty, or their self-ownership and self-determination. No amount of popular opinion (like justifying rape in a cultural ritual) can make the violation of self-ownership moral or just. Like gravity, morality is what it is regardless of our ability or inability to understand or abide by it.

The second part (2) of Soulster's answer is similar to the first part, but this time instead of a culture defining morality, Soulster states that an individual may define morality. Again, I am refreshed and surprised by his answer, as it seems to me to be un-Christian and full of independent thought. Again, I appreciate Soulster’s independent and critical approach to the whole issue, even if I don't agree with him.

In the Second part of Soulster's answer, he says, "A personal God would also make such judgments with regards to human behavior and his own behavior towards humans, but such judgments are meaningless outside of that context. (For example, can you do something immoral to a rock?)" Now, I definitely agree with Soulster that moral judgments are meaningless outside of a proper context, and his question about the rock illustrates this point. Morality is not arbitrary nor is it relative, but it is definitely contextual. What that means is that it is only relevant when applied to conscious human agents. Well, a Christian would like to include God in that category too, but since I don't believe in God, I don't include him. However, I could grant the inclusion for the sake of argument.

But getting back to the rock and the context, could I do something immoral to a rock? No. But I could do something immoral to a person using the rock as a method. For example, let's say that Soulster owns a rock. If I take it from him, then I just did something immoral. Not to the rock, mind you, but to Soulster. I stole his property and violated his self-ownership. Stealing property is a violation of self-ownership because one's property is a result of their time and energy, so in a way I would be stealing a piece of Soulster, or more specifically, I would be stealing some of his time and energy.

The third part (3) of Soulster's answer falls into the arbitrary category. Can a non-human conscious agent (or even a human one) dictate moral rules to humanity? I don't think so. Just like gravity, morality is what it is, regardless of the decrees of any conscious agent. But if God invented morality, like he invented the universe, (assuming he exists), then morality truly would be defined by God. However, it would be arbitrary, just like gravity. In this case, we fall into the problem of the Cartoon Universe, a term that was coined by the esteemed Dawson Bethrick. See here and here for details on the Cartoon Universe.

There is only one way to have a morality that is not arbitrary, nor relative. There is only one way to have a morality that is firmly grounded. And that is to have morality based on facts of reality, not on decrees by conscious agents (omnipotent or otherwise). The axiom of self-ownership, of the sovereignty of the individual, is the only firm ground with which to base morality upon.

Indeed, we already do so, even if we don't always realize it. While a pre-modern Asian tribe may endorse cultural rape rituals due to their cultural traditions, if I were to simply waltz in to their territory and steal their food, they would surely recognize my action as immoral. And while a Christian, due to his or her doctrine, may think that it is good to punish an innocent man (Jesus Christ) for the wrongs of others, if I were to put an innocent 6 year old in death row for the crimes of a homicidal adult, surely no Christian would see that act as moral.

Sometimes, cultural traditions or beliefs will obscure the natural sense of right and wrong. This occurs when people give undue reverence for traditions, or cultural beliefs, by mere virtue (or pseudo-virtue) of "culture" and "tradition" itself. But when the fog of culture or tradition is cut away, the sovereignty of the individual is automatically recognized, even subconsciously so, and people will act with appropriate outrage when that sovereignty is violated, even if they don't understand that they are relying on the axiom of self-interest. A baby need not understand the axiom of self-ownership to know that it has been wronged when candy is snatched away from it's chubby little palm.

There is one more thing I would like to address before I post this blog entry, and that is the comment left at Philaletheia by Ben. Commenter Ben had this to say:

Calling something immoral is basically an appeal to a higher power: Someone with more authority than you and me doesn’t like what we’re doing.

If we can speak of morality at all, then what is moral is moral because it is commanded by God.

I don’t see any other basis for calling something immoral or not. Immoral to whose standards? If there’s no God, then I don’t see how anyone can set up any kind of standard and expect that it should have authority. This is part of the reason I’ve never understood atheist attempts to define a general morality apart from God: “Sez who?” (This is not to say atheists are immoral, simply that their morality, ultimately, is simply their personal preference, and is not binding or authoritative to anyone beyond the individual holding that morality.)

Perhaps some of the atheists can enlighten me on this.


Now Ben has it half-right when he says that calling something immoral is an appeal to a higher power. The problem is that Ben incorrectly identifies that higher power as God. To correctly appeal to morality, one must appeal to a firm foundation. Namely, an axiom, or a principle derived from it. So to appeal to the axiom of self-ownership would be the correct appeal "to a higher power," while appealing to God would be an appeal to a cosmic cartoonist, a completely arbitrary source.

Ben speaks of atheists as having no solid standard with which to base their morality on. Ben is incorrect, and this is due to his erroneous worldview. He believes that consciousness has primacy over existence, mostly because he believes that conscious entity created the universe, and therefore the universe is subject to said entity's slightest whim (think: Cartoon Universe). But even if there were a God who created everything from you, to me, to morality, and even gravity, it would still be an arbitrary "higher power." I don't know if it ever occurred to Ben that the only solid foundation that one can appeal to is the nature of existence itself? No conscious entity required! We don't need God to provide "intelligent falling," for we can demonstrate the natural property of matter, and it's accompanying property, gravity. Similarly, we don't need God to provide a moral framework, for we can attain a superior and firmer framework from the properties of entities themselves, namely their identity or self-ownership.

In all universal principles, the "higher power" or "higher authority" is a natural property, not a conscious entity making decrees. People often make this mistake by failing to recognize the primacy of existence over consciousness, and that the universe has a definite nature, not an arbitrary cartoon nature. Allow me provide some examples of an appeal to a true "higher authority":

Bodies of mass attract because of the natural law of gravity, not because of "intelligent falling" or of God's constant pushing of bodies of mass towards each other.

A prosperous economy is based on free trade where the invisible market hand of capitalism naturally sets prices and controls supply and demand, not by price and production quotas dictated by some president or minister of economy.

An action is moral or immoral through its adherence to the axiom of identity, or self-ownership. An action is not moral or immoral because of the decree of any conscious agent, or tradition, or cultural norm (traditions and cultural norms are invented by conscious agents anyway). I can act morally on my own values, but I cannot morally force another to act on my values. At best, I can ask them if they want to share my values, and let them choose whether or not to act within my (or rather, our) values.

One contention that I anticipate from the theist side runs along these lines, "God is eternal and never changes, so He is not arbitrary, and basing morality on Him is as solid as it gets." Well I have are two main responses to this nihilistic objection:

1. Whether or not God will change bears no relation to whether or not he can. Without getting too far into the Cartoon Universe argument (refer to the Dawson Bethrick links earlier in this post), the truth is that a conscious entity, by definition, makes decisions, and can potentially change his mind at will. To base a universal principle on a conscious entity is folly, for the conscious entity is always arbitrary by the very nature of a singular consciousness.

2. Occam's Razor would prefer the principles that are based on properties of the natural universe rather than the decrees of a conscious agent. This is because of the fact that basing a principle on a property of the natural universe guarantees a constant and universal nature. The law of gravity, for example, does not have the potential to "change its mind." The axiom of self-ownership does not have the potential to "change its mind." And even if we have a God who will not change his mind, and will, in effect, be as reliable of a foundation as a property of the natural universe, at best this God based morality will only equal the performance of the morality based on the natural universe. And when two possible answers are possible, both being equal in all other matters, the simpler one is the preferred choice. Cut out the middleman.

Natural law inherently provides a superior, non-arbitrary performance. The best that a conscious agent can do, even in the most unrealistically ideal scenario (like a consistent God), is merely to match the performance of a natural law based moral framework, but not best it. Plus, the necessarily arbitrary nature of conscious agents always leaves a hole open - a potential - to perform less consistently than the natural law does. Combine this with the fact that a God or conscious agent based moral system is unnecessarily complex (for the simpler natural law morality performs just as well or better with less components), and it becomes clear that the conscious agent based moral frameworks are all inferior choices.

Cultural norms, traditions, and even decrees from a God cannot hope to match the consistent and excellent performance of a moral framework based on natural axioms.

I hope that my response helps Ben understand my side of the argument. I would like to note however that not all atheists agree with my take on morality. Since atheism is itself a negation, it does not offer a morality of its own. But my moral framework is perfectly compatible with atheism, and materialism, etc. I would like to see it more recognized among atheistic circles, but just because you’re and atheist doesn't mean you will understand a self-ownership moral framework.

Getting back to Soulster, while he and I may disagree, I think we are both working together to discover the truth. Soulster's desire to question and critically examine even his own faith is admirable, and I definitely appreciate the opportunity to dialogue, and disagree, with him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Verdict: Judge Wilson is a Racist

Who doesn't love a little xenophobia once in a while?

Well, I don't. And I don't particularly like it when public officials write children's books that equate different races of people as being completely different species.

An asshole judge wrote a racist children's book, and I in turn wrote an Amazon review which, I think, skewers him and his book appropriately. Check out all the details at The Radical Libertarian.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kickass New Blog: Philaletheia

My old atheist buddy Drunkentune has joined forces with Soulster, a friendly and intelligent Christian, to make a new blog, Philaletheia.

So far it’s off to a good start. Both Drunkentune and Soulster have been busy writing high quality and thought provoking posts, and the comments sections have been lighting up in response. I've already become an active commenter over there.

I think that a blog with an atheist and a Christian teaming up is a great idea. Despite my sometimes (or frequent) harsh writings aimed at religion, I have always been a proponent of increased dialogue and bridge-building between the atheist and theist camps. In my opinion, Drunkentune and Soulster are prime candidates for facilitating this bridge-building. I am glad that they took the initiative to do so.

So stop by their blog frequently. I already am.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Impossible Omnipotence?

I am currently mulling over whether or not to post more on my Thanksgiving Tragedy. In the meantime, I invite all my readers to mull over another little gem.

The esteemed Austin Cline of atheism.about.com highlighted a wonderful little observation posted by a forum member at that site. Observe:

A forum member writes: God cannot be completely omnipotent. There are some things he cannot do. He cannot create a genuine Bank of England ten pound note. He may produce a perfect copy of a ten pound note (complete with a picture of Darwinon the reverse) but it will not be genuine. To be genuine it has to be produced by the Bank of England under the aegis of the British Government. Thus, the Government can do something which God cannot do. (This is why Tony Blair has such a high opinion of himself.)


Brilliant.

What do you all think? Are there limits to omnipotence? Could God, for example, use his omnipotence to destroy His omnipotent powers? Could He use His omnipotence to annihilate Himself, or perhaps duplicate Himself?

Or could he actually pull a Kim Jong Il and create a bank note that isn’t a forgery?

This is another post where I welcome all thoughts on the matter, especially the thoughts of my (apparently few) religious readers.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Tragedy

Note: this story is completely true, except for the names, which have all been changed except for mine.

Today I was supposed to drive to Palm Springs to meet up with numerous family members for Thanksgiving. My mom's side of the family was to be there: my grandpa, various aunts and uncles, cousins, and of course my mom, my sister, and myself. However, something terrible happened, and the Palm Springs get together was cancelled.

Early this morning, I was awoken by a call from my mom. She told me, "Aaron, there is a problem. Nobody has heard from your uncle John. His voicemail box is full and nobody has seen him since last Saturday. Your uncle Jimmy is looking for him. The Palm Springs trip has been cancelled, and everyone is very worried. This isn't like him. Come over to my house, your sister is already on her way."

I hurried over to my mom's house, which is a half hour away from mine. When I arrived, everyone looked very sad. I was worried to say the least, and immediately asked what had happened.

My mom, with tears in her eyes, explained to me, "Jimmy found your uncle John. He is dead. It looks like he died a few days ago, and his truck was at the bottom of a ravine. He drove off a cliff. Your uncle Jimmy is hysterical."

This was quite a shock to me, as well as my entire family. We discovered what had happened to him on Thanksgiving Day, and he had died a few days prior. He likely was drunk driving late at night and lost control of his truck, which caused him to fall down a 300-foot ravine. We are going to have a memorial service or a funeral in a couple days (don't know which yet).

Now, dear reader, I want to know what you think of this, whatever your beliefs are.

Do you think that a conscious higher power had anything to do with John's accident, or the timing of it?

Where is my uncle John now?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Elton John Would Ban Religion

Elton John has a bone to pick with organized religion. From CNN.com:

Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."

"But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion," he said. "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."


A very astute observation on Elton's part.

The timing of his criticism could not be better, as Richard Dawkins' new book is selling like hotcakes worldwide (I am half-way through my copy) and the atheism movement in general is picking up speed. More and more prominent social figures are throwing their religious criticisms in to the ring. Even South Park had a go at the atheism movement in general, and portrayed the future as groups of warring atheist states (notice that states still existed in their vision of the future). If South Park does a two-part lampooning of atheism, then obviously the topic is a rather large blip on the radar screen of contemporary social consciousness.

However, I disagree with Elton's conclusion that religion should be banned. I certainly would not want religion banned, and I think that Elton is missing the point by displaying the same intolerant attitude that he finds so distasteful in organized religion.

If an idea or position is banned outright, then it cannot be fairly evaluated on its own merits by individuals, and therefore cannot be legitimately rejected. Therefore, it cannot be legitimately compared against competing ideas, nor can it be legitimately ridiculed or satirized.

Ideas must stand or fall on their own merits, not by fiat. Passing decrees and fiats are what dictators and communists do. Letting things stand or fall on their own merit is what scientists and lovers of reality do. It’s what Dawkins, Hawking, Einstein, Russell, etc, would do.

Elton is expressing statist sentiments to an ideology that is hostile to his kind. While it is good to see prominent social figures like Elton John being openly critical of religion, it is bad to see people wishing to ban any ideology outright, and it is especially bad to see these intolerant, statist sentiments being linked up with atheism. The reason is that religious people will point at Elton's recent comments and say, "See? We are being persecuted! Elton wants to bring back the days of Stalin and Mao and prevent us from practicing our faith! Death Camps are the atheists answer!" Unfortunately, nobody will realize that death camps are the answer of the statist and the collectivist (virtual religions in their own right), not the answer of the atheist.

If one wants to find the atheist's answer, they should not go looking for it at an Elton John concert.

What the atheism movement needs right now is a prominent atheistic Anarchist in the spotlight; someone who realizes, and can articulate, that a nihilistic God and a collectivist state are two sides of the same coin. Until then, the atheist movement will have consistency problems, because so many atheists are statists.

As the atheist movement continues to gain momentum, I fear that the state will become a bigger and bigger hindrance to its message. We must link godlessness and statelessness not only in the minds of atheists, but also in the minds of the common God fearing voter. Accomplishing this link will not only improve the purity and consistency of the atheist message, but will also pre-empt many of the criticisms being hurled at it today.

Crossposted at Goosing the Antithesis.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Offspring Murder Club: New Male Member

Kill The Afterlife's Offspring Murder Club has a roll call that is heavily tilted toward the fairer sex. That changed today, with the induction of its newest member, Jason Thorbon.

The Offspring Murder Club has very strict membership requirements, so the question is, does Jason qualify? Let's take a look at the evidence:

Thorbon told Knox County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jeanette Harris that he was trying to kill his son as a sacrifice to God when he began strangling the boy at their home on Blackwood Drive in January 2005.

Thorbon's wife managed to wrest the toddler away from Thorbon and flee. Testimony has shown that Thorbon, a former mental health counselor and honor student, suffers both mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse.


Intent and attempt to kill one's own child? Check. God/afterlife as a motivator? Check. Success in killing offspring? Not quite.

However, the technicality of whether or not Jason succeeded in the act is not as important as the spirit of the act, For The Offspring Murder Club is all about spirit, whether metaphorical or literal.

Therefore, I proudly introduce the newest inductee into The Offspring Murder Club, Jason Thorbon!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Attention Theists: Prove Your Faith Like Abraham Did!

Are you a Christian? Muslim? Jew? Good, because I want to ask you a question.

Remember the old story about Abraham being commanded by God to kill his son in the land of Moriah? Remember how Abraham was about to faithfully commit infanticide on his own offspring in the name of God, but then at the last second God stopped him?

In the past I have explained that afterlife belief automatically bumps this material life to one's #2 priority slot. The same held true for Abraham, and was even inadvertently admitted by some theistic commenters on this very blog.

In the past I have shown that religiosity is common among mothers who kill their children. In fact, I started a club called the Offspring Murder Club, and its ranks are swelling fast with devout, God-fearing infanticidal mothers.

Now that a background has been established, let's get to the question asking. This is a thought/faith experiment. First, we acknowledge that you are an Abrahamic theist (Christian, Muslim, or Jew). Second we assume that you have a child (if you don't have one in real life, let's pretend that you do for the sake of argument). Third, let's imagine that God came to you and told you to sacrifice your child on the peak of the nearest mountain, a la Abraham at Moriah.

Of course, in the story, God stopped Abraham at the last minute and allowed Abraham to kill a ram instead. But Abraham didn't know that God would stop him. And more importantly, Abraham was about to carry out the infanticidal act with total faith and conviction.

So the question to you, dear theist, is: Would you do it?

Seriously! Don't dodge the question. According to your faith, God did it before, so put yourself in Abraham's shoes. This is a test of your faith and conviction. This is a test to see if you put God first in your life!

If God asked you to kill your child, would you do it with total faith and conviction? Would you pass the test as Abraham did?

(Thanks to Olly at 10,000 Reasons to Doubt the Fish for the inspiration for this challenge)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Women are Invaluable, Religion is Worthless

When the sovereignty of a human being and the sovereignty of an ideology come into conflict, which one should yield?

The ideology.

Ideologies are only worthy of our adherence to the amount that they secure our freedom, happiness, and understanding of the world. Ideologies are concepts and frameworks that are meant to serve us.

Humans are not meant to serve ideologies.

So when an ideology comes into conflict with a human's freedom, happiness, self-determination, etc. It is the ideology that must be re-evaluated, or even discarded.

Such is the case with religion, and in particular Abrahamic religion.

In fact, Abrahamic religion has been undergoing quite a bit of re-evaluation over the years. And even some parts of it are being outright discarded because it keeps coming into conflict with the freedom and happiness of human beings.

Some old-timers and die-hards will fight for their ideology, and will try to subjugate other humans to keep their ideology intact, but in the long run, the ideology eventually loses. And Abrahamic religion is losing.

Abrahamic religion has had it out for women since its inception. Women have been tortured, murdered, enslaved, and completely dehumanized for over a millennia thanks to Abrahamic faith. All this has occurred because of the fact that females have a slightly different set of body parts than males.

In recent past posts, I have given numerous examples, quotes, and articles of the pervasiveness of anti-woman values found both in Abrahamic ideology, and in the minds of its adherents. And today I bring to you some quotes from Religioustolerance.org.

Religioustolerance.org has a few pages that contain some choice quotes and links regarding the re-evaluation and discarding of certain anti-women components of Abrahamic faith. These are some of the most anti-human and downright evil portions of Abrahamic faith, and are some of the most damning examples of the worthlessness of religion itself:

"It is grounded in the old Jewish understanding that women are less worthy than men. For a man to have sex with another man 'as with a woman' insults the other man, because women are to be treated as property." Rev. Jill. Nelson, pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church, commenting on Leviticus 20:13

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power...." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica,Q92, art. 1, Reply Obj. 1

"And a man will choose...any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman...Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:18, 19 & 33.

"And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her." Ecclesiastes 7:26

St. Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 CE). He wrote to a friend: "What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman... I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children."

Martin Luther (1483 to 1546): "If they [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there."

Reformation Fellowship of the East Valley, Mesa, AZ (circa 1995): "In the beginning God made man male and female. He made Adam first, and then made Eve from Adam's rib. This order of creation subordinates wives to their husbands in marriage, and women to men in the church. As an act of submission to their Creator women are commanded to submit to their husbands and to male leadership in the church. Women are not allowed to teach or have authority over men in any formal capacity in the church."

Randall Terry, head of Operation Rescue: "...make dads the godly leaders [of the family] with the women in submission, raising kids for the glory of God."


Its almost lunchtime, and I just about lost my appetite cutting and pasting that filth! But now compare those above quotes to this next one, from an anonymous writer of a "Why Women Need Freedom From Religion" pamphlet:

"The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the advancement of women, opposing everything from women's right to speak in public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth...and woman's suffrage. Today the most organized and formidable opponent of women's social, economic and sexual rights remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions and the medical staff which serves them."


Humanity needs women. Humanity is women. But humanity needs not religion. Humanity is not religion.

Kill the worthless religion. Stand in solidarity with our invaluable women.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Pope Finally Says Something True

The Pope recently declared that modern western culture is against religion. Looks like he finally got the wire. Unfortunately, he had to do lots of projecting:

Verona, Italy- Modern Western culture is unable to dialogue with religion and cannot answer fundamental questions about the meaning of life, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday.


He has it exactly backwards. In reality, it is ancient religion that cannot answer fundamental questions about the meaning of life and is unable to dialogue with modern culture. But I doubt he would ever figure that one out.

He continued to bitch:

Benedict said the West was witnessing "a new wave of Enlightenment and secularism, in which only that which can be tested and calculated is considered rationally valid, and in which individual freedom is erected as a fundamental value to which everything else is subordinated.

"In this way, God is excluded from culture and public life", he said.


Benedict laments it, while modern western society celebrates it. Well it looks like this party isn't for you, Popey. Go home. But wait, he has one more projection to throw:

"It is not difficult to see how this type of culture represents a radical and profound separation not only from Christianity but more generally from the religious and moral traditions of humanity," he said.


This statement should say, "...from the religious, immoral traditions of humanity." Because only a fact-based, Godless moral framework can be considered "moral."

The Pope doesn't realize that morality cannot be based on God's rules. That is because he's been brainwashing himself with crappy books his whole life.


Oh well. This most recent whining from the Pope is a good thing, to be sure. Popes have been bitching about secularization of western society for a while now, and Benedict is merely carrying the torch of lamentations while he watches his pews, and more importantly, his donations, wither away uncontrollably. It gets even worse when he looks at the youth component of his faithful: every year since 2003 or so, the Catholic Church's "World Youth Day" breaks a new record for smallest attendance yet.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Doris Tracey is Confused About Death

Sean Prophet from BlackSun Journal wrote a post recently about the untimely death of Brianna Wilkins, a pretty 17 year old girl who, through the help of a very crappy book, became so obsessed with the moment of "now" that she forgot to think ahead far enough to eat food or drink water.

But this post isn't about her. It's about a lady named Doris Tracey who popped into the comments section and made some very unusual statements regarding Brianna, God, and death in general. I replied to her, and she replied back. I'm going to reproduce the comments here for all of your reading enjoyment. Doris will be quoted (indented), and my responses will be in normal text. In some instances I am directly quoting her in my response, and those quotes will be in italics:

Sean

I love your beautiful heartfelt message about Briannas tragic death and another wake-up call. Her soul was obviously not very happy here and was trying to find her way back to god in the only way she was taught how. May the Holy Spirit comfort her and her family in this hr of great tribulation!

Doris


Doris,

You said:

"May the Holy Spirit comfort her..."

But you seem to be misunderstanding the facts of the situation. This poor woman is DEAD. Which means that there is no more "her."

The very phrase "afterlife" is a contradiction.

If this woman still existed, than there would be no tragedy to lament, would there? The only reason this situation is so sad is because this woman has died, and prematurely so. She no longer exists.

What part of the word "death" don’t you understand?

Hi Aaron,

Are you dead in Christ or alive? Evil is live spelled backwards.Death has always been an illusion and cannot exhist where life is. Death is a lie and its appearance has no power. Many people are dead in Christ until quickened by the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is pure electrical energy and without that pure energy you are a mechanical robot or the living dead. Some souls will choose to remain dead and will lose their identity, God forbid. Choose life not death. If we ultimately die in the end there would be no reason for us to go on at all.

Doris


Hi Doris,

Thank you for the reply.

You said:

"Are you dead in Christ or alive?"

I'm sorry, but I don't understand this question. I am not dead or alive in anyone, except for me. I guess you could say that I am "alive in Aaron." As far as Christ goes, there is lots of evidence suggesting that he never existed. But if he did exist, he is most certainly dead now. By the way Doris, how does a person be dead OR alive "in" someone?

"Evil is live spelled backwards."

It certainly is. And racecar is racecar spelled backwards. But I’m not here to play scrabble; I’m here to talk about the meaning of life and death. Trying to equate being alive with the concept of evil through spelling games is somewhat silly considering the seriousness of Brianna Wilkins untimely demise.

"Death has always been an illusion and cannot exhist where life is."

I agree that death and life are mutually exclusive. But you said here that death is an illusion. Are you seriously claiming that Brianna Wilkins is not dead?!?! Care to support that assertion?

"Death is a lie and its appearance has no power."

Death is a word used to describe the concept of no longer being alive. So in a way it is a negative statement. But death is not a lie as far as I can see. Brianna is most certainly dead. I’ve seen people die in front of my eyes. It will take much more than your unsupported assertions for me to discard the evidence of "death" that I have directly witnessed in my life.

Why don’t you start with providing evidence that Brianna, my grandmother, JFK, etc... are not dead and never actually died?

"Many people are dead in Christ until quickened by the Holy Spirit."

So first you tell me that death is a lie, and now you are telling me that dead people reside within the dead body of Jesus Christ until "quickened"? I’m sorry but this statement is nonsensical as far as I can understand it. You might have to dumb it down a shade for me to grasp it. How exactly do living people exist as dead entities within the body of a fictional-or-dead cult fonder from 2000 years ago? And what exactly is this "quickening" process that allegedly removes the dead people from Christ’s body?

"The Holy Spirit is pure electrical energy and without that pure energy you are a mechanical robot or the living dead."

If the Holy Spirit is pure electrical energy, can it be detected, perhaps even contained? You know, we do have devices that contain, generate, convert, and otherwise manipulate pure electrical energy. Where does this Holy Spirit electricity reside? Earth? Perhaps the Andromeda Galaxy?

Last time I checked, electrical energy was not a singular, conscious, personal and acting entity. Since when did electricity get itself a thinking mind and a will and such?

And exactly HOW MUCH electrical energy comprises the Holy Spirit? A few Gigawatts? Maybe Terawatts? Electrical energy, no matter how much, is quantifiable.

And if the Holy Spirit is indeed pure electrical energy, why haven’t I heard this news from the guy who discovered it, Benjamin Franklin? Or why doesn’t the Royal Academy of Engineering have anything on this fact? Why hasn’t NASA, or the National Academy of Sciences, or some other group familiar with electricity spoken up on this little fact?

Is there anything at all from any recognized scientific or engineering body that attests to this rather revolutionary claim that the Holy Spirit is pure electrical energy? Where do you get this kind of information anyway?

"Some souls will choose to remain dead and will lose their identity, God forbid. Choose life not death. If we ultimately die in the end there would be no reason for us to go on at all."

Oh boy, now I’m really confused! A minute ago you said death was fake. Now you are implying that it is real. Which is it?

Furthermore, you seem to confuse the actual properties of death. You said that souls choose to remain dead. But I don’t think its possible to "choose" anything when you are DEAD! That’s the whole point: death = not existing anymore. If I, for example, am able to make a "choice," then I have to be alive to do so, don't I?

Thanks again for your reply, and I truly hope you can give me some clarifying answers, because your statements sent my head spinning and totally contradicted everything that I know regarding God, energy, matter, consciousness, and even existence itself.

Thank you,

Aaron Kinney

Monday, October 23, 2006

What's in a Name?


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
47
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?



There are 47 people in the United States with the name "Aaron Kinney." And if you Google the name "Aaron Kinney," I am the first result!

So it is official. I am the most popular Aaron Kinney in the United States. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Austin Cline on Christian Abuse of Women

Austin Cline of Atheism.About.com offers even more evidence of Christian-sanctioned abuse and subjugation of women. And this time, the problem is even admitted by the Archbishop of Canterbury! In the article, Austin offers an excellent analysis in the Christian abetting of domestic abuse against women, and he does so in his usual hard-hitting, fact-of-the-matter writing style that I love so much to read.

But I'm not going to quote any of it. You're just going to have to click on the link and read the article for yourself. You will be glad you did.

Diocese Bankruptcy Count: 4

The Catholic Diocese of Davenport filed for bankruptcy last week:

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- The Diocese of Davenport is now the fourth Catholic diocese in the United States to file for bankruptcy protection because of sex abuse lawsuits it faces.


Oh how the mighty have fallen. Or rather, are falling. I expect many more bankruptcy filings in the coming years from the Cathylicks and other Christian cults. Maybe this is one instance, unlike the red scare, where the domino theory actually applies?

Years ago I had a roommate who worked at Calvary Community Church. He was eventually fired for being an agnostic (religious discrimination employment laws don't apply to churches), but before that happened, he told me that there was a sex scandal that took place with one of the pastors who worked there. Unfortunately I don't remember if it was a homosexual or heterosexual scandal, but it was definitely pedophilic.

The funny (or scary) thing was that my former roommate recalled a church counselor or official of some kind as saying in response to the sex scandal that, "this kind of thing doesn't happen here... not at this church."

Wrong, scumbag! It does happen and it did happen, at this very church! If I recall correctly, the sex scandal was kept relatively under wraps and hush/settlement money was paid out.

It’s a shame too, because I would have loved to see Calvary Community Church file for bankruptcy. Their facility is located right off the 101 freeway and their huge torture device (cross) is easily visible from the freeway. Not to mention that their attached high school looks like a minimum-security prison. Their cross, and their entire facility, is ugly as sin. I've seen more aesthetic looking crosses in The Passion of the Christ. The only church I've seen in the Los Angeles area that compares to Calvary in ugly factor is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown. Babyshit brown, huh? Who chose that color, Jesus?

I would just love to see a church in the Los Angeles area file for bankruptcy due to a pedophilic sex scandal. It doesn't have to be Catholic, hell it doesn't even have to be Christian! Any Abrahamic institution is good enough for me.

Oh holy Flying Spaghetti Monster, please grant me this prayer. May your noodly appendage serve up hot steamy dishes of your marinara-flavored justice.

RAmen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Even More Evidence That Christianity Views Women as the Property of Men

Craig Sowder, a Christian blogger and all around nice guy, has recently written about the ideas expressed in a book written by another Christian named Doug Wilson.

In his book, Doug Wilson writes about how a Christian man should go about finding a wife. Craig sums up Wilson's ideas of Christian courting by saying:

Wilson has written a little book called Her Hand in Marriage where he explains that, from a Biblical perspective, the father has authority over the daughter, and that an interested young man should approach the father before he ever approaches the daughter about courtship. If the father approves, the young man can begin spending time with his daughter under the supervision of the family. As time goes on, the two can begin spending more time alone together. But throughout the entire process, the father is the authority over the daughter.


Craig says that while he has a bone to pick with Wilson over specifics, he doesn't necessarily disagree with Wilson's general message.

To Craig's (partial) credit, he does say this in response to Wilson's views on women:

Sure, that all sounds good and everything until you actually try doing it that way. I would be willing to bet that if I walked up to the father of a girl I was interested in at church and said, "I'm interested in getting to know your daughter", the father would probably say, "Okay… she's standing right over there, so why don't you go talk to her?" Wilson might say that the father isn't doing his job, but the reality is that, right or wrong, this is the way things work in 21st century American culture.


Notice that while Craig accepts the reality of today's (post-Christian) world as not working that way, he doesn't actually disagree with Wilson's view that "women = property":

Now, as I said, I do believe Wilson's philosophy or vision for Christian courtship and marriage is a good one, so I don't want to give the impression that I disagree with it in theory.


Every time I read anything from a Christian about women, and every time I read any historical or news source concerning Christian treatment of women, the ownership concept is all over the place. What I mean is, that Christian women are owned at all times by someone other than themselves. Either they are owned by God, or their father, or their husband, or even a combination of these! But at any rate, the poor women are constantly treated as property.

But when Christians encounter my charge of sexism and maltreatment of the status of women, they disagree quite vocally. They say that not all Christians agree about this, and that I'm taking things out of context, or adhering to a narrow fundamentalist view of Christianity.

Yet again, I have to call bullshit. Ownership of women is so incredibly widespread in liberal, conservative, and moderate Christian circles, that I've yet to see a single Christian write against the idea. And believe me, I do read a lot of Christian writing. When I read religious/atheist blogs (and I do quite often) about half of my reading is done on Christian blogs, the other half is for atheist blogs. And this is probably the 1000th time I've read some Christian view about women not having ownership over their own person. I've yet to read anything from a Christian who says that a father or husband doesn't own their daughter or wife.

Would I ever accept a doctrine of my mother owning me and a woman having to ask my mother permission to court me? Hell no. And would I ever ask a father permission to court his daughter? Hell no. It's not his choice; its his daughter's choice. If I wanted to court a woman, it would be because I respect her as an equal, and my equals own themselves. It would be an insult to the woman to ask her father and to treat her like a commodity or piece of property.

I don't court pieces of property. I respect myself too much. I court women who are my equal. And I consider women my equal because I am not some chauvinistic insecure sexist bastard. I don't want to marry a piece of property. I want to marry an equal, where the respect and admiration and love between us is equal.

Craig, again to his credit, has experienced both Christian and non-Christian social environments. Craig couldn't ignore the reality of the situation when he compared Christian women to non-Christian women:

let me tell you that Christian women need to take a few lessons from non-Christian women. The non-Christian women I've been around over the years are not afraid to get into relationships with men and actually arrive at conclusions about men far more quickly than Christian women. Sometimes I don't think Christian women will go out for a cup of coffee with a guy without some kind of sign in the heavens telling them to go for it.


I literally LOL'ed at this. I think Craig may have accidentally revealed a bit too much about the detrimental effects that accepting an other-ownership doctrine can have in the mind of a young woman. Craig says here in no uncertain terms that non-Christian women are much more of what a woman should be: thinking for themselves, and taking responsibility for themselves.

Incidentally, Craig's blog is called "Autonomy is Madness," yet he quite clearly is praising secular women for their autonomy, while lamenting the lack of autonomy in Christian women. Craig has also expressed multiple times in the past that he thinks that Christian women are crazy.

So is autonomy madness, or is it the reverse? Craig is obviously implying that the reverse of his blog title's message is true, yet he doesn't seem to realize it. Craig can't seem to see the big picture here - that his religion is detrimental to the social lives of both male and female Christians. The Christian singles simply can't compete with the secular ones.

Anyway, where is the "women own themselves" Christian view? Where can I find the writings of a Christian who says that men do not own women, and that both men and women are equal in the sight of God? Where are the Christian writings that say that the father does not own the maiden, or that the husband does not own the wife?

And perhaps more importantly, where is the Biblical support for a "husband does not own the wife" Christian view?

Obviously the "women are property" Christian view is fucking up the lives of the Christian youth, and they are watching their secular peers live much happier, more fulfilling social and romantic lives, in general. I know that I sure am!

Thanks to Dr. Zachary Moore for writing about this first and bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Inquisition: Damning Evidence of Abrahamic Atrocities Towards Women

Austin Cline from atheism.about.com has an excellent picture and accompanying article about the sexual torture used by inquisitors during the witch hunts of the past.

Among other atrocities, the inquisitors used to look for supernatural tits:

Inquisitors were also quick to search for the purported "witches' tits," blemishes which were supposed to be extra nipples used by witches to suckle demons. If the men interrogating the witches were to become aroused, it was assumed that the desire originated not in them, but instead was a projection from the women.


What fun is it for a male authority figure to go through the trouble of torturing and killing a bunch of women if you don't get to fondle some tits and put hot pokers on vaginas in the process?

At least these inquisitors were more preoccupied with adult female sex organs than prepubescent male sex organs. But on the other hand, modern day anally raped altar boys didn’t get burned at the stake after the assault. I can't decide which is worse... I guess they are both equally bad.

The Bible reinforces and legitimizes violence, cruelty, and inhumanity towards women. I've had a number of Christians tell me that only an incorrect interpretation of the Bible allows for this horrible treatment of women.

Bullshit! Next thing you know, we will be hearing Neo-Nazis insisting that Hitler "hijacked" true Naziism through incorrect interpretation.

Britain: Immigrants, Old People Keep Church on Life Support

It is no secret that lip service to faith is in serious short supply in Europe. Churches in Britain particularly have been bitching about decreased church attendance for years now (which obviously carries with it collection plates that are less filled).

Well it seems that the British preachers are reaching for any good news they can get. Immigrants from Africa and senior citizens are slowing the hemorrhage of bodies from the pews, at least temporarily:

One of the biggest surveys among Britain's 37,000 churches, published today, finds that the growth of immigrant-led churches has partly offset dwindling congregations elsewhere.

The news will cheer Church leaders. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said the phenomenon was having a healthy impact on mainstream Churches.


So immigrants and minorities are getting their pray on. But the whites continue to be less and less keen on Jesus. You know, in Britain, for the most part, whites are more wealthy and educated than the minorities. Why do I get the feeling that significant part of this church attendance difference is based not on ethnic, but on income/class lines? It would be hard to figure it out without prying into everyone's income levels, but I bet that at least a big chunk of this minority/white attendance discrepancy is merely a side effect of an income-and-education-level-based discrepancy.

By the way, click on the link to see a picture of Dr. Rowan Williams. The guy's hairstyle and beard make him look like a cross between a mad scientist and a skinny Santa Claus. It's truly a baffling sight. I don't think that look has been in style anytime since the 1800s!

But enough ad hominem. Even this little morsel of good news for the church is laced with cyanide:

But the survey also shows that congregations are getting older as young people continue to abandon the pews, which could have a devastating impact in a decade.

...

The research, based on questionnaires from 19,000 churches, finds that 29 per cent of churchgoers are 65 or over compared with 16 per cent of the population.

It also finds that nine per cent of churches have no one aged under 11 in their congregations.


This statistic implies that the light at the end of the tunnel is more likely the hot white light of worldly secularism and materialistic atheism. Of course, no other proverbial light bulb shines as bright as the light bulb of atheism, and accordingly, when allowed to shine, it drowns out the black lights of theism with its radiance.

And that's why the youth in Europe are particularly averse to getting on their knees and opening their mouths (and wallets) for Jesus. In a secular world, you get to fuck real humans and spend your money on yourself. Theism simply can't compete.

The old people in Britain cling to the church the way Strom Thurmond clung to racism. He's dead now, and the old British ninnies will be dead soon as well. It looks like across the western world, these concepts of Jesus and Original Sin will die off with the old, just like sexism and racism have done. Who nowadays thinks that slavery is just, or that women shouldn't vote? Only fringe lunatics, poor ignorant trash, and old farts from a by-gone era think like that.

The future for Britain looks bright. These unchurched youth will eventually take the reigns of their homeland, and rule it without false values like racism, sexism, nationalism, and theism. When these youth are all grown up and working in the media, they will write articles about low church attendance with a positive slant, instead of an alarmist slant. They will refer to Christianity as a mythology from a more ignorant time.

But what of the immigrants? Well that depends on how much they can integrate and progress in Britain's society. If they are treated more inclusively by the whites, and given fair opportunity to increase their security and happiness and such, then these immigrants' children will likely follow the secular path that their more-well-off white peers did a generation before. Prosperity = less churchin'.

But perhaps most importantly, the future of Britain will have less Dr. Rowan Williams mad scientist hairstyles.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Theist: Naked Women Worse than Bombs

Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir recently declared that images of naked women on television are worse to society than the Bali nightclub bombings of 2002:

Ba'asyir, who was released from jail on June 14 after serving 26 months for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, said pornography was more damaging because it destroyed people's morality.

"So if you ask me which one is more dangerous, nude women or the Bali bombs, then my answer would be the women showing off their skin," he said as quoted by Antara.


According to this guy, pornography destroys morality, but bombs don't, and destroying morality is worse than destroying people. Of course, this guy is wrong on all counts.

Seeing naked human female bodies does not destroy a person's ability to determine what is a moral or immoral action. Indeed, people with active sex lives and easy access to sexually stimulating material tend to report feelings of satisfaction and release. People who act mean, bitchy, uptight, or otherwise grumpy are often described behind their backs as in need of a good fuck. People report tensions and stress being released from their bodies immediately after they have a sexual release, even one that is achieved through the viewing of images of naked human females.

So this cleric's morality and porn premise is basically unsupported, as well as contradicted by a collection of reports of the personal experiences of numerous individuals. As I've said before, indulgence leads to healthy expression, while repression leads to unhealthy compulsion.

But more disturbing is this man's belief that bombs somehow do not destroy morality... or at least that they do not destroy morality as much as images of naked human females do. I must contend that bombs destroy morality and much more! Even if porn were to destroy Joe Smith's morality (which it doesn't), a bomb will literally and physically destroy Joe Smith in his entirety, not just his morality.

And what worldview is it that enables Ba'asyir to make such perverse and backwards statements about morality and destruction? It is Abrahamic Theism!

Abrahamic Theism is by far the most popular form of afterlife-belief in the world today. This includes the big three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All of their respective holy books declare in no uncertain terms that a woman is worth less than a man. All of their holy books treat the consent of a woman with complete silence, as if it doesn't exist. All of their holy books put restrictions on a woman's appearance and behavior as if it were their fault that men tend to sexually assault them; as if the woman is to blame for being the object of a man's lust.

Applying these concepts to the Bali nightclub bombings, we can envision and evaluate two scenarios:

1) A video of a naked human female is displayed in a nightclub. What happens to the clubbers when they encounter this event?

2) A bomb is detonated in a nightclub. What happens to the clubbers when they encounter this event?

Which scenario will produce the "immoral" results? Which scenario will produce "anti-life" results?

Abrahamic theists just love to attack anyone that expresses sexual pro-life sentiments, because their moral system is ass-backwards. And clubbers are the perfect target, as General JC Christian, Patriot, so cunningly discovered not too long ago.

The act of sex is the expression of life-oriented values. The act of violence is the expression of death-oriented values. Anyone who supports violence, especially as being more "moral" than sexuality, is unmistakably at the height of the anti-life mindset. That person is evil to the core, and wants to destroy himself by proxy through the destruction of the very thing that created him: hot steamy sex.

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir's abhorrent statements bring new meaning and relevance to the phrase "make love, not war."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Varkam Kills Himself Some Afterlife

Friend and commenter Varkam, whom I've posted about before, recently posted an essay at Neural Gourmet. The essay is entitled "The Scars of Religion's Profanity," and in it, he makes some acute observations:

The belief that there is life after death (which, definitionally speaking, is a contradiction of terms) serves to ease the fear of nothingness, but does little to cope with the reality of the situation.

...Religion has murdered humanity. The murder weapon is the afterlife.


The whole essay is good readin', so go read it.

Thanks Varkam!

Monday, September 25, 2006

I Got Tagged by KA!

My good friend KA from Biblioblography has tagged me with a book-reading meme. It took me a little while, but I finally got a response up. Check it out at Goosing the Antithesis here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Review: "After Life," by Simon Funk

About a month ago, a commenter by the name of Simon Funk stopped by this blog to say hello, and to mention that he had just finished writing and publishing a book, "After Life." I decided to give the book a read, and boy am I glad I did.

Simon Funk is a man of many talents. In addition to being a writer and an all around great thinker, he is also a man who works in the field of Artificial Intelligence, or A.I. And that's what his book, After Life, is about. You see, Simon Funk's book isn't about an immaterial dimension that ghosts go to after their bodies die (a dimension which the title of this blog demands be destroyed), but it is about continuing one's consciousness outside of one's biological body here in the real world. And that is an idea that I wholly support.

The book is written in first-person, through the eyes of the main character, Alex Harris, PhD. Alex has just figured out how to transfer one's consciousness from a biological brain into a man-made computer. He performs the procedure on himself, and as a result, the entire world is changed. Perhaps the most significant change, though, occurs in Alex's own consciousness.

After transferring his consciousness to a machine, Alex experiences a series of unusual events. Some of these events seem like dreams, and some seem all too real. At first, the experiences are very puzzling to the reader (and to Alex himself), and don't make sense. But as the story unfolds, the pieces fall into place and produce a very mind-blowing cohesive picture.

Simon Funk is a very skilled writer. His writing is very personal and involving; I felt like I was Alex himself trying to make sense of the strange situations he kept finding himself to be in. But Simon Funk is not afraid to dig deep into the technological, philosophical, and ethical questions that naturally arise when consciousness, identity, and life itself are permanently altered.

Simon Funk also knows his stuff when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. His writing incorporates technological concepts used in today's A.I. field, yet he presents the ideas in a way that just about any reader can grasp. Simon also provides a familiar, human perspective to these ideas. What the reader ends up getting is an excellent mix of technological, philosophical, ethical, and emotional perspectives on the main character and his story. Allow me to quote a passage from chapter 1:

What makes the process tolerable is that half the drugs we're using are devoted entirely to protecting the brain. Specifically, we completely halt the processes that normally lead to the physical changes underlying the formation of memories. In effect the brain is held in a sort of chemical deep freeze, a state immune to change, but still able to function in a purely reactionary way. Other drugs keep the necessary neurotransmitters and nutrients replenished, and also keep the level of spontaneous activity as low as possible. This latter point would amount to keeping the subject unconscious, except that we then go in and light up their brain with activity much as if they were conscious, but completely under our control. In some sense, we have drugged their will to sleep, closed their eyes and ears, and replaced all of that with a machine that decides exactly what they're going to think, see, hear and feel in each moment. Yes--some day this could lead to the ultimate virtual reality experience, but that's a long time off. Right now there's no real coherent thinking or experience going on. We don't know nearly enough, nor have the compute power, to do that. Right now, it's just a random nightmare of disconnected thoughts, feelings, and sensations, experienced in rapid fire succession and immediately and forever forgotten. But that's enough--that's enough, I believe, for us to reconstruct the mind within the brain.

So, why am I talking about carburetors and grandmothers instead of cheese and mazes, considering we've only really done this with a mouse? Because I've been having nightmares about this for days. Because...I am going to have it done to me. Or maybe I already have.


As you can see, both the story and the writing style in Simon Funk's After Life are delectable.

My one gripe about this book is that it was too short. The book is 25 chapters, and in printed form it is only 160 pages. I literally tore through it as fast as I could, and the end of the story came all too quickly for me. But isn't that what happens with most good books? In addition, the book is short because it's writing style. While it gives you significant morsels of the story, it skips a few details here and there. This was obviously done deliberately as a way of leaving certain things unsaid so that the reader can either fill in the blanks with their imagination, or be left with questions in their head to ponder. This book definitely makes you think, no question about it.

Simon Funk's After Life is an all around excellent book. I can't remember the last time I read a fiction book that got the gears in my head to turn so much. I also forwarded the book to my good friend David Mills, author of the #1 bestseller Atheist Universe, and Mills had nothing but praise for Simon and his book.

I therefore highly recommend that you read After Life by Simon Funk. I also recommend that you purchase the book from Lulu. Simon is currently selling his book from Lulu at cost, so it will only cost you around 8 bucks, and it comes with a beautifully designed cover (also created by the author), and good production quality. I suggest you buy it now while the price is low, because I have been repeatedly trying to convince Simon to sell it for a profit (hey, I am a capitalist).

Finally, be sure to tell your friends about the book, as right now word-of-mouth is the only form of advertising being used to promote it, and the word definitely needs to get out about this excellent book.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Belief in the Afterlife is the Basis for the Hatred of Women

Props to Francois Tremblay for bringing this article to my attention.

Caron Cadle speaks my language. Although she is a Pagan (I used to be one for a short while too), she is definitely in the anti-afterlife camp. She makes a great argument for the afterlife being a realm of women-haters:

It all hangs together: an obsession with impossible purity, hatred and fear of real women, of the dirt and imperfection of real life, even of one's own physicality, one's own body. Mohammed Atta's last will and testament stipulates that no woman be allowed to mourn him, attend his funeral or even go near his grave. He disdained his own body so much that he stipulated that the man who was to wash his genitals after his death wear gloves, so his impure sexual parts would theoretically remain untouched. But let's not kid ourselves that this thought complex is the exclusive property of Islamic fundamentalists. Consider orthodox Judaism, which demands that women cleanse themselves of their menstrual pollution each month, and be banned from synagogue for twice as long after the birth of a female child as after the birth of a male. Any man who touches a menstruating woman has to ritually purify himself and still remains unclean until sunset that day; if he has sex with a menstruating woman, he is unclean for a week. As for Christianity, early "church father" Tertullian (ca. AD 200) makes it clear: "[W]oman [is] the obstacle to purity, the temptress, the enemy. . . her body is the gate of hell." The all-male Catholic church hierarchy couldn't stand the thought that Mary, mother of Jesus, might be a normal, fleshly woman. So the New Testament mentions of Jesus's younger siblings are explained away, to make sure no-one dares think she actually had sex with her husband Joseph, and by the mid-19th century, she was declared a perpetual virgin. Just like the houris. It's a given in male-monotheist religions: the immaculate super-woman, a figment of the imagination, is set up as an impossible standard that we "standard-issue" women can never meet. This fills women with despair and self-hatred, while men may cultivate exaggerated expectations, sure to be disappointed.


Emphasis hers. Be sure to click on the link and read her whole article.

Since both men and women are simply "human," isn't woman-hating just a projected form of self-hate? Look at it from a technical standpoint. For example, I have a sister. She was created by the same material and process that created me. My sister is closer to my "blood" than either my father or mother! In fact, I could have been a female had a different sperm fertilized the egg that I came from. Humanity cannot even survive without women, and vice-versa! What is humanity without both genders? Humanity doesn't even exist unless both "halves" of it are present! A humanity with only one gender is a soon-to-be-extinct humanity!

All this women-hating religious bullshit reminds me of kindergarten. Back in kindergarten, I was much less mature, mentally and emotionally. Me and all my kindergarten pals would play "cooties." Do any of you remember this game? The boys and girls would group together, and try to give each other "cooties" in a game similar to tag. I remember the disgust and grossness of being touched by a girl. If a girl gave me "cooties," then I would need to get a "cootie shot" post-haste. And "cootie shots" could only be administered to the "infected" person by another member of the same sex.

That is the mentality of this gender separation bullshit that is found in religion and afterlife-belief. It is immature, it is divisive, and it is no longer a relatively harmless game when adults with guns and power play it.

Most normal people, when they mature, no longer look at the opposite sex as having "cooties." Instead, most mature adults look at the opposite sex as something beautiful, something desirable, something to want to be close to, and something to want to be joined in emotional, mental, and physical unity with.

Unfortunately, this afterlife voodoo fucks it all up. I swear, it seems like these Abrahamic afterlife concepts were invented by 5-year-old kindergartners! Who else ever thinks that way naturally? Sexism is merely projected fear of the opposite sex, and fear of the opposite sex belongs in kindergarten playgrounds!

Fuck the afterlife, and love the opposite sex.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Phantom Limb Pain and its Afterlife Implications

Ever heard of phantom limb pain? I saw a show about it once a long time ago on the Discovery Channel. Basically it works like this: A person has a significant body part amputated or severed (usually an arm or leg, but sometimes a breast or even an eye). After the limb or body part is gone, the person feels sensations from that missing body part. The sensations are usually painful in nature, but not always.

Wikipedia describes phantom limb pain thusly (I am removing references in the quote for your reading convenience. If you want the references, click on the Wikipedia link):

A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. Approximately 50 to 80% of amputees experience these phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of these people report that the sensations are painful. Phantom sensations and phantom pain may also occur after the removal of body parts other than the limbs, e.g. after amputation of the breast, extraction of a tooth (phantom tooth pain) or removal of an eye (phantom eye syndrome).

Phantom pains can also occur in people who are born without limbs and people who are paralyzed. Phantom pains occur when the missing limb causes discomfort. Other induced sensations include warmth, cold, itching, squeezing and burning. The missing limb often feels shorter and may feel as if it is in a distorted and painful position. Occasionally, the pain can be made worse by stress, anxiety and weather changes.


For afterlife-scoffing materialists such as myself, phantom limb pain causes no controversy, and creates no explanatory problems:

Some people with phantom limbs find that the limb will gesticulate as they talk. Given the way that the hands and arms are represented on the motor cortex and language centers, this is not surprising. Some people find that their phantom limbs feels and behaves as though it is still there, others find that it begins to take on a life of its own, and doesn't obey their commands.

In the early 1990s, Tim Pons, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), showed that the brain can reorganize if sensory input is cut off. Hearing about these results. S. Ramachandran realized that phantom limb sensations could be due to "crosswiring" in the somatosenory cortex, which is located in the postcentral gyrus, and which receives input from the limbs and body. Input from the left side of the body goes to the right hemisphere and vice versa. The input from extremities comes into the somatosensory cortex in an ordered way, the representation of which is referred to as the somatosensory homonculus. Input from the hand is located next to the input from the arm, input from the foot is located next to input from the hand, and so on. One oddity is input from the face is located next to input from the hand.

Ramachandran reasoned that if someone were to lose their right hand in an accident, they may then have the feelings of a phantom limb because the input that normally would go from their hand to the left somatosensory cortex would be stopped. The areas in the somatosensory cortex that are near to the ones of the hand (the arm and face) will take over (or "remap") this cortical region that no longer has input. Ramachandran and colleagues first demonstrated this remapping by showing that stroking different parts of the face led to perceptions of being touched on different parts of the missing limb and subsequently demonstrated that the somatosensory cortex reorganizes using magnetoencephalography (MEG) which permits visualization of activity in the human brain.


But what about the afterlife-believing immaterialist? Does phantom limb pain create problems for such a worldview? Well, I believe that it depends on the immaterialist in question.

Some immaterialists may accept the above quoted materialistic explanation for phantom limb pain. This is all well and good, and I would indeed applaud any immaterialist who adopts such a materialistic explanation. But if the immaterialist accepts such a material explanation for phantom limb pain, then why not also accept a material explanation for near-death experiences, or even death itself (in other words, no afterlife and no immaterial consciousness or soul)?

But let's move on to the immaterialist who believes that phantom limb pain is the result of that part of one's spirit or soul continuing to be attached to one's body, while the corresponding physical body part is missing (By the way, the reason I'm bringing this whole topic up in the first place is because I recently had a discussion about phantom limb pain with an afterlife-believing immaterialist).

Why, if the immaterial spirit portion of the amputated limb is still "attached" to one's soul, is it uncontrollable? Shouldn't one be able to still control one's spirit limb just like one can control their own thoughts? Or why wouldn't the spirit limb disappear into the immaterial afterlife dimension and wait for the rest of one's soul to arrive upon their death? Why would a material tool such as a mirror box be so helpful in relieving the phantom limb pain if the cause of the pain is the immaterial and disembodied spiritual portion of the limb?

At one point while discussing phantom limb pain with my immaterialist friend, I took the conversation one step further. I asked, "What if one's head is amputated instead of an arm? Would the person feel phantom head pain?" To this he only laughed, as if my question was totally absurd. I considered his laugh a victory on my part. Why? Because in his laughing dismissal of my question, he revealed that he believed the soul or spirit to be materially limited to the head, and that he was assigning a spiritual-physical disconnect or independence in an arbitrary fashion.

If one's spirit exists in one's arm and one's head, than isn't it logical to conclude that one's spirit exists in the entire body? Why would a spirit be able to control a physical body that is missing an arm, but not a body that is missing a head? Why would a person's immaterial spirit or consciousness experience phantom pain when an arm is severed, but not when one's head is severed?

Isn't the immaterialist's assumption that a severed head results in death some kind of concession to the materialist position? Why can't I just cut off my head and continue to live while experiencing phantom head pain? Isn't the immaterialist's assertions regarding the spirit and various severed body parts totally arbitrary?

If I lose my hand, and I still "sense" it's existence, then why don't I still "sense" the existence of my complete and intact mental facilities when I get a frontal lobotomy? Why don't I still "sense" the existence of my head when it gets blown off? Why do I instead die and (presumably) move on to the afterlife once my head is blasted to bits?

If the destruction of my head but the preservation of the rest of my body results in ascension to the afterlife, then does only my "head" portion of the spirit ascend while my "spiritual" arms and legs remain on Earth? I doubt that any immaterialist would agree with that proposition! So why should my spiritual arm remain with me after physical amputation, if my spirit in its entirety will ascend to Heaven when something as simple as a .22 caliber bullet pierces my brain stem?

As you can see, many unusual questions arise when immaterialism is combined with phantom limb pain (or any biological phenomenon for that matter). When biological hairs are split, such as in the case of phantom limb pain, only the materialist explanation makes any sense at all.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To Sign or Not to Sign?

My friend and fellow atheist, Ka, from Biblioblography says he doesn't want to sign the Wal-Mart Bible Letter. He gives his justification thusly (his post came up with some funny characters in it [รข€™] due to some kind of browser/font issue on my end, so I had to edit out the strange characters the best I could and the quote may not be 100% syntactically correct):

My point here is that we need to contribute more positive items to the world. Charity work, volunteer work, throw some money at a recurring problem, hell, give out free copies of the Atheist Manifesto, or The End of Faith ('cause let's face it, you can get all sorts of bibles for free, or next to nothing) sure, you get what you pay for and all, but when it comes to the Almighty Dollar, people ain't gonna pay extra for something unless the novelty value is extreme, and most think that we believe in "nothing," where's the value in that?).

Short version, is what I'm always trying to teach my 17-year-old niece: pick your battles. Choose the ones you can win.


A fair point, indeed. Incidentally, the esteemed Austin Cline also mentions the same sentiments that Ka points out, yet he still concludes that signing the letter would be a good thing overall:

Is there any chance that this petition will be successful? No, quite frankly, I don't think so. I'll grant that it's nice to imagine companies like Wal-Mart treating Christianity and Christian material in a manner that it ethical and intellectually consistent with how they treat other sorts of material. I agree with Aaron Kinney that the ideal situation would be for Wal-Mart to sell all the material, but also that if they going to ban some of it on the basis of sexual or violent content, then they should evaluate the Bible on the same basis. I doubt that it would survive such a review if conducted fairly and objectively.

...

That doesn't make this petition entirely worthless, though. If nothing else, it may draw people's attention not only to Wal-Mart's censorship policies and how they can negatively impact the distribution of information in America, but also perhaps some of the violence, sex, and hatred conveyed in the Bible. That's not such a bad goal to have as well.


I agree with both Ka's and Austin's sentiments, but I must respectfully part ways with Ka's conclusion.

Both Ka and Austin are right in that this letter has a snowball's chance in Hell of actually getting Wal-Mart to stop selling Bibles. I mean, even if I am wrong about the non-existence of God, surely I am not so delusional to think that this letter would get Wal-Mart to stop selling Bibles?

No, I am not. What I am fairly sure about, though, is that if enough people sign this letter, it will bring the atrocities of the Bible to the attention of the average Joe Six-pack American public. How many self-professed Christians in America are even aware that the Bible has stories of incest-rape committed on Lot by his own daughters? Surely, most self-professed Christians in America are aware that the Bible says not to work on the Sabbath, but how many of them are actually aware that the Bible proscribes execution for those who break the rule? How many self-professed Christians in America today are aware that the Bible says to execute non-Christians?

How many self-professed Christians in America today even realize that their own holy book would be banned from libraries and store shelves if their own anti-obscenity policies were uniformly enforced?

To me, this is about awareness. Not Christian awareness of atheism as Ka states, but Christian awareness of the contents of their own sacred book. Unfortunately, I didn't make this point clear in my original post about the Bible Letter. Instead I argued from effect: The effect of either having obscene books sold in Wal-Mart again, or the (unlikely) effect of having the Bible pulled from their shelves. But after some further thought on the issue, I think that awareness of the Bible itself and it's contents is definitely the most important point in this whole issue. Austin Cline seems to understand that rather well:

If nothing else, it may draw people's attention not only to Wal-Mart's censorship policies and how they can negatively impact the distribution of information in America, but also perhaps some of the violence, sex, and hatred conveyed in the Bible.


Emphasis mine.

So, while I do respect Ka's decision and understand where he is coming from, I think that he should reconsider. I also think that any atheists who are hesitant to sign the letter should think long and hard about the importance of bringing the Bible's full contents into the thoughts of the average Joe Christian, and sign the letter just like Austin Cline, PZ Myers, and myself have done.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tell Wal-Mart: No More BuyBull

A petition has been started to get Wal-Mart to pull the Bible from it's store shelves.

Now I'm big on free speech. I'm also very much against censorship. But I'm also very much in favor of companies consistently applying their policies. Wal-Mart has a policy against selling offensive media and literature. They've invoked said policy in their banning of Jon Stewart's #1 bestselling book, "America the book" for example.

Well, the Bible is much more "offensive" than a few pictures of naked Supreme Court Justices. The Bible contains instances of incest, demands genocide, and supports all kinds of discrimination, just to name a few of its problems. So if Wal-Mart is going to have a policy of banning offensive products, I think this one fits the bill.

So let's make Wal-Mart sleep in it's own bed. This petition, if it gets enough signatures, could very well either compel it to ban the Bible, or reconsider it's ban on selling offensive material. Either way, it’s a win.

Honestly, if I had my choice, I would choose for Wal-Mart to continue selling the Bible and to start selling other "offensive" material. But if they are going to keep their silly policy of not selling offensive products, then I want them to apply it consistently. Otherwise their policy comes off as a lie; an excuse or cover up of an ulterior motive.

So to all the readers of my blog, please sign the petition. Please tell your friends. Please email the link. Please post a MySpace bulletin about it or whatever else you can do. I, for example, sent emails to PZ Myers and Austin Cline asking them to post about it. I also posted about it here (but that is perhaps stating the obvious). Later today I will post a MySpace bulletin about it. And I've also requested all my atheist and agnostic friends to sign it as well.

Finally, be sure to click on the confirmation email link that is sent after you sign it, because otherwise your signature won't count.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

There Is No Government Like NO Government

I’m not much for discussing politics on this blog, but I want to do a little promoting for my good friends and fellow anarchists, Adi11235 and Freedomoutsidethebox. They have a cleverly titled blog, There Is No Government Like NO Government.

It's a great blog. Adi11235 is a man I respect very much, and he is known for brutally effective resolves on Essembly. His logic is impeccable, his conduct is professional and respectful, and his intellect is admirable.

And Freedomoutsidethebox (who recently joined the blog) has great writing skills, and knows how to present an argument. If you are interested in politics and/or society, or if you’re just curious about what Market Anarchy is all about, I highly recommend that you regularly visit There Is No Government Like NO Government.