Thursday, May 25, 2006

Varkam on Infanticide and the Afterlife

Commenter Varkam left an interesting comment today regarding my last post, and I want to post it here for everyone to read, as well as respond to it. So here we go:


Though I generally agree with your hypothesis, I think that there is something you ought to make more clear. Namely, that religion is not a necessary condition for infanticide.

I agree completely, however I think that non-religious infanticides happen much more rarely than religiously motivated ones.

You asked streetapologist to provide an example of either "1) a mentally ill atheist mother who killed her children, or 2) a mentally ill religious mother who killed her children due to a non-religious motivation". In the realm of mental illness, I can think of two disorders off the top of my head that don't involve delusions or any sort of psychosis that would lead to the same outcome; postpartum depression and Factitious Disorder-by proxy (formerly Munchausen's Syndrome-by proxy).

Again, I agree completely. But how many non-religious, contemporary examples can we find, especially compared to the examples I have already posted on that do involve religious motivation? The only argument I made was that religion serves as a catalyst for infanticide, and non-religious examples will be much more rare, and accordingly, harder to find.

Varkam then provides a non-religious example of infanticide, but upon closer inspection, it is actually an argument for my side:

I believe that Brooke Shields recently came out in the open regarding her postpartum depression (and was subsequently blasted by Tom Cruise-religious nutball and actor-about her seeking treatment in the form of therapy and SSRIs) during which she recounted a tale of how she almost killed herself and her baby as a direct result of the depression.

Brooke Shields admitted that she, like many thousands of women, experienced infanticidal and suicidal feelings due to post-partum depression. And like many thousands of women, her feelings were not religiously motivated. But also, like many thousands of women, Brooke Shields never killed her kid! Brooke Shields did not have sufficient legitimization for her feelings, and instead she recognized the disease for what it was. She talks about it, rather than acts on it. This is no example of non-religious infanticide at all. Brooke Shields has not met the requirements for membership in The Offspring Murder Club.

But what if Brooke Shields did have intense religious feelings during that time? Would she have done the same thing as Offspring Murder Club member Andrea Yates, who was suffering from 1) severe postpartum depression, and 2) severe afterlife-belief?

Factitious disorder-by proxy is a little more exotic. With respect to this conversation, mothers who are afflicted will create illness or injuries in their children for reasons other than secondary gain. There have been several documented cases of this over the years, including ones involving mothers eventually killing their children. Have you seen the movie The Sixth Sense? There is a character in that movie who kills her daughter in this fashion. I'm not offering that as evidence, only an illustration.

Again, I agree with Varkam, although it would be nice to have some actual examples of this disorder to look at.

Suffice it to say I think that you are on the right track when it comes to religion. It is true that not all religious people commit these acts, but the word catalyst fits very nicely.


Well, Varkam and I agree about 95% of the time. I appreciate his input. But as far as Brooke Shields goes (and all other post-partum depression sufferers who don't kill their babies), they belong in my evidence bin.

The afterlife can be hazardous to your children's health.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Offspring Murder Club: San Francisco Chapter

The Offspring Murder Club's member roster is on fire! New applicants are coming in faster than they can be processed! The newest member, 23-year-old Lashaun Harris, dropped her 3 sons, ages 6 years, 2 years, and 16 months, into the freezing waters of the San Francisco Bay last October. This woman deserves expedited application processing into the Offspring Murder Club.

Her motivation? God:

"The voice of God called upon her to sacrifice her three children," Teresa Caffese said at the woman's preliminary hearing in San Francisco Superior Court.

But of course! Lashaun was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with delusional thought disorder. She was a perfect candidate for her afterlife-belief to serve as a catalyst for infanticide, and her God knew it.

Many a Christian would protest, "But she was crazy! Any crazy nut could kill their children! Her religion didn't do this!" They would, admittedly, be half correct. Sure, a paranoid schizophrenic with delusional thought disorder doesn't need religion to do crazy things, but it certainly does help. I would suggest one to look up the definition of the word "catalyst."

I've said it a bazillion times now, and I'll say it again. Religiosity is common among mothers who kill their children. In fact, when a child dies at it's mother's hands, the vast majority of the time it is religious/afterlife/God based motivation. What else ever inspires a woman to kill her children besides religious reasons, regardless of the woman's mental problems?

God and religion only exacerbate mental problems within people's minds. Crazy people turning to God does not help their craziness; it amplifies it. It legitimizes their craziness in their own mind. If your brain is malfunctioning, and you think you are hearing voices, those imaginary voices are given much more power in your mind when you think they literally are coming from an all-powerful creator of the universe. Going to church and having a preacher telling you to "pray" and to "talk to God" certainly won't help. Under such circumstances, these voices in your head will be given so much power that you may act on those voices, like by cutting the arms off of your baby and promptly calling 911 with the hymn "He Touched Me" being heard in the background of the 911 call. Or maybe by systematically drowning your 5 children in the family bathtub one at a time. Or possibly by suffocating your baby and then stabbing yourself repeatedly in the chest. Or finally, to use this most recent example, by throwing your 3 sons into the icy San Francisco Bay.

A good friend of mine works with crazy and homeless people on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. He says that the crazier the patient is, the more keen on Jesus they are. He says that the crazier the patient is, the more they talk with God/Jesus, and the more God/Jesus talks to them. These crazy people genuinely want to have a relationship with God and/or Jesus, but their reaching-out to God helps them not at all. These people are mentally sick, and the closest thing to a cure is treatment, therapy, medication, and sometimes institutionalization. The cure is not, nor will it ever be, God. God is a part of the disease.

Kill the afterlife, not children.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Christians Don't Know What Reality They Exist in

Josh Brisby at The Reformed Oasis is one confused fellow. He recently posted his xenophobic, emotional, and statist "two cents" on illegal immigration.

But who cares about illegal immigration here? This is an anti-afterlife blog! All illegal immigration issues aside, Josh said something rather, shall we say, delusional. Check out the insanity:

Although I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven, I am blessed to live in the United States of America.

Pay extra close attention to the first half of that sentence: "...I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven..."

Excuse me? Since when did this guy go up to heaven and begin blogging from the right hand side of Jesus Christ? I will be so bold as to argue:

"No Josh. First and foremost -indeed exclusively- you are a citizen of the human race on planet Earth, and according to the majority of Christian's views, you don't even know if you will end up in heaven or hell yet (that is, if there was an afterlife, which there isn't). So what you said is premature and delusional on at least two levels."

The part that's really insane is that I get the feeling that Josh isn't any more whacked out than the typical Christian. Why do I get the feeling that millions of Christians in North America alone would proudly echo Josh's claim that, "...I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven..." while they are as yet sitting on their ass on planet Earth?

To use an illegal immigration example, it's like a native Ecuadorian riding a northbound train through central Mexico and telling his companions, "I am first and foremost a citizen of Canada." No, on second thought, it’s even worse than that. The afterlife is a whole other dimension entirely. Using material-based examples, I guess the best analogy I could give would be a native Ecuadorian riding a northbound train through central Mexico and telling his companions, "I am first and foremost a citizen of Mars." Even then, the analogy isn't bold enough to match the insanity of claiming, while on material Earth, to be first and foremost a citizen of an immaterial extra-dimensional realm where one must first expire in this realm in order to join the next.

But the problems with Josh's statement continue. If Josh is first and foremost a citizen of heaven, then is he in the United States illegally? He says he is blessed to "live" in the United States. But so are illegal aliens! Does heaven accept dual citizenship? Does the United States recognize Josh's heaven citizenship as well? Is there an extradition treaty? I think not.

In the United States, if you are born here, you are automatically a citizen. I assume Josh was born in the United States. So how did Josh get citizenship to heaven? Did he apply yet? Was his application accepted? How did he apply, by signing up at Or maybe by attempting suicide? For all Josh knows, he could be a future citizen of Hell. Is Josh truly insane, or did he just forget to think things through logically (in other words, stupid)? I think both. He is suffering from the cognitive dissonance of a Christoid strain of afterlife-ism.

It's times like this that make me wish that pro-afterlifers could somehow discover firsthand after their death that there was no afterlife. Sadly, that can never happen, because they will in fact be dead, and they will be no more existent than they were before they were conceived. But on second thought, maybe the fact that they will never discover their own error in belief makes it that much funnier of a joke.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All Dolphins go to Heaven


...a dolphin might be expected to recognize its name if called by its mother, but the new study found most dolphins recognized names -- their signature whistles -- even when emitted without inflection or other vocal cues.

More than that, two dolphins may refer to a third by the third animal's name, said Laela Sayigh, one of three authors of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dolphins have specific names for each other and refer to other dolphins in the third person with very specific sounds. Is it possible that they have even greater communication depth than this?

In fact, the more we learn about dolphins, the smaller we perceive the gap to be between our intelligence and theirs. Some people even argue that a dolphin has cognitive capability equal to or greater than that of a human.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, dolphins are smart. So what?"

Well, what about the afterlife? Do dolphins have souls? Do dolphins go to heaven or hell? Do they get reincarnated?

Are dolphins saved by Jesus? Are dolphins Kafir? Do dolphins have any hope of achieving nirvana (or maybe they already have)? Can dolphins drink the poison Kool-Aid and hop aboard the UFO that's following Hale-Bopp? Can dolphins reach OT-8?

Giving humans unique afterlife or soul status from some special pleading argument is the height of idiocy and small-minded arrogance. Either that, or it’s flat out intellectual dishonesty. Because as I argued before, if one life form gets afterlife status, then all life forms should get it. But giving all life forms afterlife status makes the concept of an eternal soul seem much more silly, and even most pro-afterlifers (perhaps subconsciously) don't seem too comfortable with the idea of all life forms having eternal souls.

It is much easier for most pro-afterlifers to believe that "lower" life forms (read: non-human) don't have eternal souls that survive bodily death. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, it is much harder for them to believe the same thing about the species they belong to: Homo sapiens.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ray Comfort Appears on the Hellbound Alleee Radio Show!

We just finished a half hour interview on the Hellbound Alleee Show with Ray Comfort! It was an excellent interview. Ray Comfort is well spoken, and a real pleasure to talk to.

For those of you who don't know, Ray Comfort heads the Living Waters ministry, and is the creator of the Banana Argument.

This interview is a must listen! Believe it or not, we got Ray to concede the Banana Argument. We also talked about Ray's "are you a good person?" test, and Franc asked Ray "have you ever told the truth?" You've got to hear this episode!

The show will be available for download on Hellbound Alleee's archives section tomorrow (Saturday) night. Also on the episode is a half hour interview with Edward Greve to make it a full hour episode before we upload it. Edward will be talking about The Block Universe. Don't miss it!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Response to Frances the Magnificent Moral Relativist

This entry is part of the perpetual War on Moral Relativism.

This post is long overdue. It is a reply to the objections and questions raised by Francesthemagnificent in this post.

One of the first things I noticed is that Frances and I seem to be on disagreement about definitions of certain things. Lets see what Frances says about "good" and "bad":

I object to the words "good" and "bad" being used with respect to choices. I think you are presupposing that fulfilling one's values is "good" while not fulfilling them is "bad." However, that can't really be proven - "good" and "bad" are opinion words, as in "That was a good movie." Nothing is inherently good or bad. But this might be getting away from the point. I will certainly grant you that some choices fulfill one's values while other choices do not. I will also grant that fulfilling the value of caring for a cat is based upon facts. Cats need food, water, shelter, etc. - those are indisputable facts. From here, we move on...

Is it really an unjustified stretch to say that the word "good" refers to that which brings an individual closer to value fulfillment, while "bad" is that which takes an individual farther away from value fulfillment, even if said values are opinions, like a favorite movie?

I think Frances betrayed his own objection in his "That was a good movie," example. Even if "good" and "bad" are only opinion statements, isn't it still true that fulfilling one's values is factually good for them? I mean, if I liked V for Vendetta, and said "That was a good movie," isn't it still true that I'm using the word "good" to represent value fulfillment, in this case a movie that entertained me? If Frances hated the movie V for Vendetta, would he use the word "good" or "bad" to describe it? In this way, the words "good" and "bad" are fact based, because they relate to value fulfillment, and values are fact based (a point that Frances seems to agree on).

Frances then addresses my individualism and self-ownership claims:

The idea that "You own yourself because you are yourself" can't be proven. It's an assumption (an assumption, I must add, that I totally accept). If somebody walked up to you on the street and demanded proof that you own yourself, you couldn't really provide it other than to assert it. That's because "ownership" is an intangible concept, unless it's in the form of a contract or other paper-based transaction. Similarly, proving that I don't own you is also impossible. Indeed, there is no more any hard evidence that you own you than there is hard evidence that I own you.

I personally accept self-ownership. I defend it vehemently. But, I defend it from the perspective of my opinion, because there are no tangible facts whatsoever to substantiate the concept.

While Frances personally accepts my self-ownership position, he argues that it is an unprovable one. I, of course, totally disagree. Why? Because self-ownership is based on the law of identity. A = A. You are you. Frances is Frances; he is not Aaron. Because Frances is Frances, only Frances owns himself. Self-ownership is somewhat of a tautology because it is virtually identical to the law of identity. Aaron is Aaron, and Aaron owns Aaron.

Frances claims that I cannot prove that he does not own me, and in doing so, Frances confuses the burden of proof. It is Frances' burden to prove that he does own me, not the other way around. It is, of course, also my burden to prove the principle of self-ownership. Thanks to the law of identity, I can say that an individual inherently owns what it inherently is: itself. Is there really much of a difference between saying, "Aaron is himself" and "Aaron owns himself"?

Unfortunately, Frances does not have these logical tools at his disposal to support his claim that he owns me. Can Frances, by sheer force of will, make me comply with all of his demands and agree with all of his values? No, he must use physical force to comply with his demands (he can't do it with mere thought), and he cannot get me to agree with all of his values no matter what physical force he applies to me. That is because, like Frances, I am my own separate individual entity with my own individual values and I have my own direct control over my own body.

Frances then compares and contrasts morality and value fulfillment between individuals and a collectivist society:

What hard evidence is there that demonstrates morality is about individual value fulfillment? To me, that's another assumption. Why isn't morality about communal value fulfillment? That is, why isn't morality centered around that which is best for the society in which we live? Since morality is an intangible notion, one cannot factually speak of its inherent character; thus, defining it as individual value fulfillment is a presupposition, no more valid than defining it as communal value fulfillment. Or, maybe morality has nothing to do with value fulfillment at all. One of my most basic objections--despite the fact that it is buried here in my reply--is that you are presupposing a relationship between value fulfillment and morality. On what chart, and based upon what data, can this alleged relationship be substantiated?

Individuals exist as singular conscious entities. Societies don't. A society is just a collection of individuals with no singular consciousness. Morality is about individual value fulfillment because morality applies to the actions of a conscious entity, and only individuals are conscious entities. Defining morality as individual value fulfillment is no more of a presupposition than it is to "presuppose" that individual humans have individual and separate consciousnesses. It is honestly not that difficult to observe that, factually, individuals are singular, conscious entities and a collective society is not.

Frances then asks me to prove factually that morality and value fulfillment have a relationship. This is a definitional problem regarding the very word "morality"? It seems that Frances wants me to define "morality" and prove that the definition is valid. May I just say that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet? Can't we just agree on a dictionary definition or something? Whatever concept you want to assign the word "morality" to is irrelevant. That is because the concepts of right and wrong behavior, and value fulfillment, will always exist, regardless of what we call them. We can use the word "blark" for all I care.

But is there a relationship between value fulfillment and right and wrong behavior? Of course! That is because values are fact-based, as Frances conceded earlier. "Right" or "good" relates to fulfilling a value, and "wrong" or "bad" relates to not fulfilling that value, or fulfilling an anti-value. Certain factual things must be performed to fulfill a value. And to fulfill a value is "good" for the value holder, while not fulfilling the value is "bad". Right and wrong are definite things because values are definite things that require definite actions. I cannot fulfill my food value by eating rusty nails, or by refusing to eat altogether! Eating rusty nails or refusing to eat is "bad" if obtaining sustenance is a value that I hold.

Frances continues to attack individualism and defend collectivism:

If the relationship between morality and individual value fulfillment is based upon acceptance of the individualist philosophy, then morality is indeed relative; there's nothing inherently true about individualism anymore than communism or any other social philosophy. As such, individualists have their definition of morality, communists have their definition, and morality is relative in the overall sense.

The acceptance of individualist philosophy does not make said philosophy relative anymore than the acceptance of the law of gravity makes gravity relative. Anyone can define morality any way they want, but the concepts of right and wrong behavior, and the factual nature of values, will remain constant, regardless of what word is used to describe them, and regardless of the refusal of one to accept their truths.

Just because I reject that individuals exist doesn't make them cease to exist, does it? Just because I refuse to recognize that a high-speed metal projectile will destroy my brain if my skull intercepts it's path, doesn't mean that my head won't be blown off when someone shoots me, does it?

We can scientifically and factually prove that an individual human has a singular consciousness and direct control over itself. We cannot do the same for a collective group of people. In fact, we can even use science to factually prove that a collective group of humans in fact does not have a singular consciousness and direct control over itself. Analysis of observable facts will most definitely support the claim that an individual exists as a singular self-directing entity, while a collective society does not.

Frances then offers his conclusion in three points:

To conclude, I think your moral code is based upon several assumptions:

1. That morality and individual value fulfillment have a relationship. If that is just your definition of the word "morality," then morality is indeed relative because others are free to define the term differently.

2. That individuals own themselves, but don't own others. I have seen no hard evidence for this, only an assertion. I also question why this only applies to humans, and not the rest of animalia. If it does apply to the rest of animalia, then I question if owning a dog is in fact engaging in coercion against the dog.

3. That individual value fulfillment is somehow inherently superior to communal value fulfillment. I think this is only true if you happen to be an individualist, and I see no proof that individualism is somehow inherently correct, while communalism is inherently incorrect.

That is a nice sum up of his points. I'm not going to address them directly in this paragraph because I feel that I addressed all these points directly in earlier paragraphs. I feel that I refuted them adequately and defended my individualist position adequately, but I imagine that not everyone will agree with me on that.

I find it interesting that while Frances seems to agree with individualism on a personal level, he disagrees with it on a factual, principle-based, universal level. Why? Oh yeah, because Frances says:

I looked up the word "nihilism" on Wikipedia to get a more complete definition, and see if it truly does apply to me.

[From Wikipedia] Nihilism is a philosophical position which argues that the world, and especially human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Nihilists generally believe all of the following: God does not exist, traditional morality is false, and secular ethics are impossible; therefore, life has no meaning, and no action is preferable to any other.

Yeah, I'm definitely a nihilist.

Gross! I hate nihilism. But you know what they say, "hate the nihilism, not the nihilist."

Frances was also kind enough to provide a closing remark:

Of course, I mean no disrespect. But, I sincerely disagree with you on this issue, and don't want to back away from a potentially interesting discussion.

I feel the exact same way. I hope this post didn't seem harsh. Understanding the truth of individual self-ownership and a fact-based morality isn't always easy, especially in the world we Westerners are raised in. At the risk of sounding too evangelical or presumptuous, I do hope that I can convince Frances to adopt self-ownership not only on a personal level, but also on a universal one. Frances, you should look me up on Skype, where we can talk about these things much more quickly and efficiently than through blog posts and comments. There have been some very enlightening conversations on Skype as of late. Anyone interested in talking about these kinds of intellectual issues in real-time should download the software and then look me up.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Drug Trippin' Jesus Freaks at Coachella

The Sunday Coachella show was amazing. I saw Paul Oakenfold, Madonna, and Massive Attack. But perhaps most importantly, I also saw the headlining act of the festival, Tool.

Tool played an incredible set, including some songs from their new 10,000 Days album that goes on sale tomorrow. I brought a friend with me who up until then wasn't into Tool, but after having seen them perform live, is now a fan. Tool is about to do an extensive tour to promote their new album. If they come to your neck of the woods, which they likely will, you should see their show.

But enough about Tool. I want to talk about a drug trippin' Jesus freak at Coachella. It happens at every large-scale musical event. Some drugged out, barely coherent loony gets keen on Jesus and freaks everybody out.

Once the concert finished, everyone headed towards the exit, and the crowd was fairly closely packed. Right in front of me, some college guy who is on at least two hard drugs, starts blabbing all loudly and semi-coherently to a group of young girls that he doesn't know, who seem a bit scared and uncomfortable from the guy's behavior. The guy seemed pretty harmless, but was definitely very nutty.

After some incoherent rambling, the drug trippin’ Jesus freak proceeded to loudly count off the substances he did that night on his fingers, while stumbling along trying to keep near the girls who just wanted to politely walk away from him as quickly as possible, but couldn't because the crowd was too densely packed.

He loudly and proudly described to the girls all the drugs he (allegedly) took that night, "Five hits of acid, four lines of coke, a gram of heroin, three ecstasy pills, two bottles of Jack..." At which point, because I enjoy messing with people blown off hard drugs, I interrupted him and sang "...and a partridge in a pear tree!" My interjection amused the girls, and confused the druggie. I doubt the guy was on as many drugs as he claimed, because his list was so long, but he had to be on at least a few of the drugs he mentioned, and in big doses, because this guy was flipped.

It was at this point that the druggie decided to bust out the Jesus talk... right in the middle of a crowd of Tool fans no less. For those of you who aren't familiar with Tool, let's just say that they are no friends of Jesus, and neither are their fans. The tripper continued to pester the girls and the crowd in general by yelling, "You know what? Jesus was at Coachella tonight! Jesus was here with us tonight! I saw him!"

I bet Jesus wasn't the only imaginary vision this guy saw that night. I quickly and assertively responded, "Jesus doesn't exist!" But the tripper kept going on about it. Everyone around was looking at him oddly, chuckling, and giving him space as he flailed his arms and stumbled in the dirt, talking about his drug trip and how he could tell that Jesus was there. I guess you have to be experiencing a mindfuck of some kind to be able to tell when Jesus is attending the same rock show as you.

The druggie didn't stay amusing for long. I soon wanted him to shut up as much as the group of girls wanted him to disappear into the sea of people. So I decided to take a more direct approach. I again cut him off and yelled right at him, "Fuck your fake-ass Jesus!"

This time he was looking right at me when I said it. He seemed to have gotten slightly intimidated by my statement, but he still didn't want to shut up. He continued to talk about Jesus, but on a slightly different level. He yelled enthusiastically, "Jesus was in line buying water at Coachella!" I decided to do him one better. I laughingly retorted, "Jesus got arrested for selling Ecstasy at Coachella!"

My little shouting match with the drug tripper had distracted him long enough to allow the group of girls to move farther through the crowd, escaping his obnoxious acid-inspired Jesus hallucination. And now I wanted to do the same. Before the druggie could reply to my latest insult, I told him to get lost, and that he probably left his favorite messiah at the same place he left his favorite hallucinogens. Finally, I managed to slip ahead enough in the crowd to leave him behind for him to allege Jesus sightings somewhere else.

I wonder if that guy is a full time Jesus lover, or if he only gets that way when he's on hard-core drugs? Either way, I don't think he gets that keen on Jesus when he is sober. Like I said, it takes some kind of mindfuck to really feel your given messiah present. Isn't it funny how mental short-circuits and chemical toxins help a person detect what previously seemed to not exist?