Monday, July 30, 2007

Atheist Weddings For Cheap!

That's right! I, Aaron Kinney, atheist and anarchist, have just become an ordained minister at the Universal Life Church.

Ordination is free, and getting licensed to conduct weddings is only $5. You can even get a doctorate of divinity for only $29.99!

If you are like me, and you don't dig that dogmatic religious stuff, you'll be pleased to know that this church is so open-minded that its almost impossible to have a worldview that conflicts with their church tenets.

Universal Life Church tenets:

To promote freedom of religion
To do that which is right

It's hard to go wrong on those tenets, no?

So, if you are in the need of a secular minister to officiate at your wedding, let me know! I'll beat anyone's price (I'm doing this for fun, not profit), and I will conduct your wedding respectfully and in the exact way that you want it. I am very accommodating to your needs. I am also an exceptional public speaker in style, delivery, and content. Contact me if you are interested, or just want to know more.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fuck Your Faith

If you *demand* respect, then you deserve ridicule.

Praise Jesuslessness!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michael Egnor Gives Meat a Bad Name

Discovery Institute meat-sack Michael Egnor has a big problem with meat. Apparently, he doesn't like the fact that he is meat, and he announced this to the world in his latest attack on PZ Myers and materialism:

By all means, use neuroscientific jargon. The only way you could even hope to convince a room full of thoughtful people (or even conscious people) that their minds are merely the secretion of a couple of pounds of meat is to cloak the assertion in jargon. Assert confidently that ‘phase locked oscillations in neurons in the hippocampal CA1 region and the subinculum give rise to sophisticated molecular regulators and sensors and effectors and modulators that generate highly organized chemistry and patterned impulses in pathways throughout the brain yielding states of arousal we that interpret as consciousness …,' or something like that. Dress your ideology up, or it won’t sell, even to atheists.

Emphasis mine.

Let's look once again real carefully at that bold part: "...that their minds are merely the secretion of a couple of pounds of meat..."

Merely the secretion of meat? Excuse me?

What does Egnor propose a mind is the secretion of instead of "mere meat"? An immaterial God?

What is more "mere" in this case? Rather, what is more remarkable and more awe-inspiring given the materialist and immaterialist choices? That our limited minds gradually developed through the nonconscious, self-organizing behavior of physical matter? Or that our limited minds were secreted by some super space ghost with unlimited power and absolute knowledge of everything?

I submit that between these two choices, the "mere" label applies to the immaterialist explanation for the existence of the mind.

There's nothing "mere" about the human mind developing over time out of complex meat structures. It’s totally fucking amazing! Go meat! Talk about coming up in the world, eh?

But if God is the one responsible for the existence of our minds, well what's so special about that? That isn't a challenge for God! God is a conscious, all-knowing being of absolute and total power, and all he did was create "mere" human minds? That's the best He could do? What a fucking underachiever! Talk about a downward spiral!

If meat had the power that God has, I bet that it would "secrete" something way more fucking cool than a human mind. Consequently, there would be far less (perhaps none at all) Egnors in the world. Oh, if only we could somehow imbibe a few pounds of meat with unlimited God-power!

When I read Egnor's arguments, all I can think is "Where's the beef?"

P.S. A few other excellent (and a bit more serious) responses to Egnor's meat bashing can be found here, here, and here.

Kansas Khristian Klassrooms

Christians and other self-repressed prudes constantly whine that teaching kids about "safe sex" will effectively tell the kids that it's ok to be promiscuous whores. Now, I've always found this reasoning a little suspect. The first time I heard this line of arguing, I thought to myself, "Did Christians also complain during the introduction of air bags in automobiles that they would encourage reckless driving?"

Well, the website Burnt Electronics took it one step further. They have a little piece where this logic is consistently applied to all school subjects. In Kansas, of course!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Gerson Won't Answer

Hello Mr. Gerson,

I read your article on entitled "What Atheists Cant Answer."

But I would like to point out that your question in the article is itself begging the question.

If you are to argue in favor of a God, you should ask yourself "If God exists, what of morality?"

You see, if God exists and He dictates morality, then there can be no true good and bad in any absolute sense. Morality would be reduced to the whim of a super powerful being. Whatever he decides is right, is right. So how does God, in this case, decide what is right in the first place? Where is His standard?

Of course, He would have no standard. Or, rather, He would be His own standard, which is completely circular and even worse than having no standard at all.

Have you ever heard of Plato's Euthyphro dilemma? You would do well to familiarize yourself with it, as your article seems totally ignorant of this timeless, classic, and profoundly important dialogue about the moral nature of god.

Now, let us turn to your question. What of morality if there is no God? IS this truly a question that atheists can’t answer?

I think not, and I daresay that you stacked the deck when you declared in your very article that the question cannot be answered, before you even asked the question!

I would love to explain to you in detail how morality can only be founded on natural properties of existence, but this is somewhat beyond the scope of my email (and would require a time commitment that I cannot spare today). I can, however, give you a quick and simple answer, and if you are interested in a more detailed explanation, I would love to receive your response requesting one, at which point I could set aside some time to answer you in greater detail.

Reality shows us that we humans are all separate sovereign conscious beings. I am me, not you. You are you, not me, etc. I can control my body with my thoughts, but I cannot control your body with your thoughts, etc. Simply put, I can morally justify pursuing my own goals myself, but I cannot morally justify compelling anyone else to pursue my goals. In other words, I cannot morally justify forcing my values onto another, nor can another justify forcing their values onto me.

Another fact of reality is that there are only two ways for two or more people to interact: through mutual agreement, or through force. These are the only two ways that people can interact. Well, one of these is moral, the other is immoral. And when judging these two choices of interaction in light of the above mentioned facts of identity, we can see that only the voluntary and mutual version of interaction is justifiable, for it is the only way to interact without forcing ones values onto another.

Immoral acts are essentially rebellions against reality. When someone steals, or lies, or cheats, or kills, they are trying to negate the brutal fact that another’s values do not match their own. They try to overcome through force or lying the fact that they can only control their own bodies, and can only justifiably pursue their own values using their own resources.

Now, this is a simplified explanation, due to my current time constraints. If you really are looking for an answer from atheists for your article, then you do well to reply to me and challenge my explanation, and make me justify it in greater detail. You would do well to find out whether or not my claim that atheism can account for morality, while GOD HIMSELF cannot account for it, is valid.

But if, as I suspect, you are only interested in attacking a strawman of atheism, and declaring that an atheist cant answer your question before you even present it in some mad dash to convince yourself and your like minded imaginary friend lovers that your fairytale mystic worldview is somehow necessary or justifiable, then I suggest that you delete this email. Indeed, you should pretend that I never wrote you, that you never read this, and then you should simply get down on your knees and pray. Pray with all your might and for as long as you possibly can. For talking to yourself while pretending that a part of your own mind is actually some outer being (that’s what all imaginary friends really are, after all) will be the closest you will ever get to some kind of internal satisfaction of the validity of your beliefs. Attacking atheist strawmen will not provide you such comfort, for there will always be intellectually armed and highly motivated atheists such as myself to call you on it. There will always be powerful challenges to articles like this.

And, after all, isn’t it painfully obvious through your writing that you are not trying to convince anyone of your claim so much as you are trying to convince yourself? Well, talking to the imaginary friend in your head (prayer) is the closest you will get to being convinced.

Aaron Kinney

UPDATE: Zachary Moore of Goosing the Antithesis weighs in.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hitchens Responds

Christopher Hitchens is still running with the atheism torch, and he shows no signs of slowing.

A few days ago, Hitchens wrote a response in the Washington Post to Michael Gerson about morality and religion. It's a good piece, and there is a challenge in the piece that I want to share with you here:

Here is my challenge. Let Gerson name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. Can any reader of this column think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith? The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first -- I have been asking it for some time -- awaits a convincing reply. By what right, then, do the faithful assume this irritating mantle of righteousness? They have as much to apologize for as to explain.

Click here to read the whole thing.

So how about it? Can anyone come up with an example of a good deed that was done a) by a religious person and b) could not have been done by a faithless person?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Loftus the Great vs. Wood the Deluded

Pastor-turned-atheist John Loftus is debating the eeeeeevil David Wood. Really though, David is not evil, but he is a theist.

Anyway, I'm watching it all unfold, and so should you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Retarded Michael Egnor Uses Technology Analogy

...and Respectful Insolence nails him on it:

There are a lot of problems with Dr. Egnor's analogy. For example, noises coming out of a cell phone are meaningless without a human being who understands language and emotion is there to hear them. Absent that, they're just noises. Even so, Egnor's actually sort of correct; any credible theory of the mind does need to have a basis for discerning whether properties of the mind are inherent to the brain. The problem for Egnor and other dualists is that we do have such a basis for making that call scientifically. Let's go back to the cell phone example, as silly as it is. If specific alterations in the circuitry of a cell phone could result in substantive changes in what the voices coming through say and the emotions they express, then it would be possible to argue credibly that the voices are inherent to the phone. If changing such circuits could not substantively change what the voices coming through the phone or the emotions being expressed, then the more likely explanation is that the content of the voices coming through is not a property of the phone itself. See where I'm going with this? Specific damage and alterations to the brain do indeed cause changes to the content, emotion, and "personality" of the "voice" of a person. Such changes can involve everything that makes us human: emotion, intellect, sexuality, and, yes, even altruism. Of course, if I really wanted to take it down to Dr. Egnor's level, I could trash his analogy by simply pointing out that putting a cell phone into a lead container would make the voices go silent, while taking it out would let the voices speak again, pretty clearly indicating that the function of the phone depended on an extrinsic electromagnetic signal reaching it, a signal that lead could block.

But there's more evidence against dualism. We can study the brain to see if properties of the mind depend upon the intact functions of the brain. We have mapped many aspects of mental activity to specific anatomic structures or groups of neurons in the brain in reproducible ways, and scientists continue to map more and more each year, making the map finer and finer. We know this through functional MRI studies that produce maps of brain metabolism as different mental tasks are carried out or various emotions provoked. We know this from the study of brain injuries to specific structures in the brain and how such injuries result in defined changes in personality and brain function, including--yes--altruism. We know this because we can alter mental states in reproducible ways with drugs, be they antipsychotics, anti-depressants, or recreational drugs.

I was right all along: Technological devices can be used as analogies to the human brain, and Michael Egnor is a fucking retard.

Monday, July 09, 2007

How To Create Your Own Religion

It's easier than you think. By far, my favorite step to creating your own religion is step #9:

9) You need to confuse everybody. This will make sure that nobody can be really certain WHAT they believe, because it is all so non-sensical to begin with. And when you don't spell it out exactly (or even if you do) you know how those funny humans will all magically just get along, right!

In this case, we'll try to be real thorough here:

The Gentle Goddess Dietima and The Great God Lardicus are Divine Brother and Sister. However, they are also Husband and Wife. And The Great God Lardicus is the child of Himself and The Gentle Goddess Dietima. As is Dietima. They love each other, but argue and even fight regularly for a variety of reasons that we won't go into here because we want people to make up their own reasons, which they can then fight over.

We don't even have to explain how any of this is possible because they are Gods and can do whatever they want. We don't want to specify who was born first or the details of their immaculate self-conceptions, because that might give one side the upper hand in any arguments. Remember Rule Number 5: Keep it ambiguous.

The Gentle Goddess Dietima and The Great God Lardicus may or may not have other children, parents, siblings or acquaintances. We can add them in later if we want or need to, and then the old-timers (historians, scholars, etc.) can fight the new converts (who are always the most passionate about things) about whether they should "really" be in the pantheon or not, since they weren't there in the beginning. We'll probably just say we found some ancient scrolls that nobody is allowed to examine that mentioned them when we want to add in any new characters. That'll be fun!

Okay, let me give it a try:

The loving creator YHWH has a son named Jesus, who is also Himself. In essence, the son is also the father, yet they are one and the same. Furthermore, the mother of Jesus is the son of YHWH. Therefore the creator is both the father and son of the mother of Him. In this way, YHWH/Jesus gets to be born by, impregnate, and conceive Mary.

What's that you say? Someone already made that one up? Son of a bitch!

Christianity: spiritual incest at its best.

Friday, July 06, 2007

1600 Satan Avenue

This is a Google Earth screenshot of the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. Notice anything peculiar?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Monday, July 02, 2007

With Gods Like These, Who Needs Devils?

Living Waters is always good for a laugh. Recently, I was cruising through one of their web pages entitled "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," and I came across some interesting things.

First off, it should be noted that these people need to proofread their materials a bit more carefully:

The mind is the data-processing control panel for the eyes and the ears. It is the center of your appetites. All sin begins in the "heart" (Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 15:19). We think before we sin. This happens because we don't think before we sin.

Emphasis mine.

Notice that they say that we think before we sin, but then they say that the reason that we think before we sin is because we don't think before we sin. Huh? I'm sure that my problem with reading comprehension has to do with my hardened atheist heart.

Seriously though, some proofreading would help these guys out.

But let's get to the meat. Here is the real reason that I am making this blogpost:

Did you know that God kills people? He killed a man because he didn't like what he did sexually (Genesis 38:10). He killed a husband and wife because they told just one lie (Acts 5:1-11). Knowledge of God's goodness -- His righteous judgments against evil, should put the fear of God in us, and help us not to indulge in sin.

If we know that the eye of the Lord is in every place beholding the evil and the good, and that He will bring every work to judgment, we will live accordingly. Such weighty thoughts are valuable, for "by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil" (Proverbs 16:6). Jesus said,

"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:4-5).

Remind me again which one is Satan and which one is Yahweh? I'm having serious trouble telling them apart!

I have got to hand it to Living Waters, for they make no bones about revealing the master/slave framework of Christianity. Whether they are actually proud of such a lopsided system, or merely oblivious to what they are admitting, I cannot tell for sure. But in either case, I'm glad they are doing it.

To be a bit more specific, Living Waters is stating the obvious: that God has different standards of conduct for Himself than He has set for us humans. It’s bad when humans kill, but good when God kills.

What this means is that God's universe has no moral laws per se. God has created no moral principles, because a principle or law is a thing that is true in all places and at all times. Gravity, for example, is a law. It applies at all times in all places. Even spaceships and airplanes must account for gravity.

The same should go for a moral rule: if a law says, "don't murder," then it must be true everywhere and all the time (never mind the circularity of "murder" being nothing more than an "unlawful killing"). If it isn't true everywhere and all the time, then it isn't a law.

God need not obey any rules that he sets on the shoulders of man. He plays with a different set of rules. This means that God does not reveal laws, but merely invents dictates.

This is underscored by Living Waters' quoting of Luke 12:4-5, which essentially says "Be afraid of massa! He will whip the skin off your bones if you even look at him funny!"

Universal moral principles do not require a warning of consequences or an appeal to fear in order to be justified. Only arbitrary dictates need justification in such dreadful ways. Universal moral principles are justified without even bringing consequences into the equation. A consequence comes after the fact, but a universal principle needs justification before the action is committed, and before the consequences can be dished out or even determined. That is why the Bible appeals only to consequences when attempting to justify God's rules; it’s the only tool at its disposal. Too bad the writers of the Bible we too stupid to realize that this would expose God's rules for their arbitrary and amoral nature.

I've said it repeatedly: Morality cannot be based on God's rules. And now I have shown that Living Waters, a fairly popular evangelism website, has (accidentally?) conceded this very fact.