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 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.)


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

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)