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Monday, March 30, 2015

The View of God from my Anti-theist Bridge: Cost

The cost of theist religious belief is high. To properly engage with it involves joining a community that is totally subservient to a universal dictator. You need to accept faith in God on extremely questionable evidence and the associated statements about the nature of reality sometimes run contrary to available evidence.
Alethian Worldview (on describes the cost:
“Religion encourages people to isolate themselves from reality, and to vote for leaders on the basis of beliefs that have been rendered impervious to fact and to reason.”
A significant cost is the loss of freedom. You sign up to be a slave and agree to worship an authority who can never be questioned and who subjects you to total surveillance from the moment of your birth, throughout your life and even after your death. It is the epitome of totalitarianism.

The late Christopher Hitchens likened religion to a celestial North Korea, but where, he quips: “… at least in North Korea you can f***ing die and leave.” No such escape awaits us with God.
Another price to pay for religion is the isolation from reality. The religious automatically form a ‘specific set of beliefs’ cohort group from which everybody else is excluded. Outsiders are automatically condemned to whatever Hell the particular religion subscribes to. There is no appeal or any arguments for the Defence, since ‘Church’ members’ beliefs cannot be challenged rationally. Most religious apologists think that the faithful have a right not to be seriously challenged anyway.

“What worries me about religion is that it teaches people to be satisfied with not understanding.” (Richard Dawkins)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The View of God from my Anti-theist Bridge: Ease

Religion is an easy way out. Everything is structured for you; no engagement of critical faculties is necessary.
“Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so.” (Bertrand Russell)
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” (Richard Dawkins)
The doctrine, prescribed through faith generally, with prayer and worship taken in large doses, is chronically passive.
·       Faith has no prerequisites as such, but you should have a yearning for comfort through apparent structural coherence.
·       Prayer is wishful thinking, attempting to pass the burden on to the Creator who, quite simply, is being asked to perform miracles. The one who only prays is simply avoiding action.
·       Worship is voluntary enslavement in the service of an ultimate dictator.
There is nothing proactive involved with any of these. They are set up to provide a reason and purpose for your life. You were created by a supreme being and in return you worship and obey him. What could be simpler?
“There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else (parents in the case of children, God in the case of adults) has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point. [...] Somebody else must be responsible for my well-being, and somebody else must be to blame if I am hurt. Is it a similar infantilism that really lies behind the 'need' for a God?”  (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Faith and the Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Faith is belief without evidence and a particular consequence of this is ‘anything can be justified’, since ‘faith’ cannot be discussed or challenged in a logical way. Faith easily leads to justifying evil acts. The jihadists that commit terrorist atrocities, killing and maiming indiscriminately, do it because they believe through their faith that they are right.
The reaction to the Charlie Hebdo massacre by the liberal religious apologists is to misrepresent what happened by describing it as nothing to do with Islam or heartfelt religious conviction. They insist it is caused by nationalism, capitalism, the oppression of minorities or the racism of ‘white people’. There is absolutely no doubt that any one of these is a contributing factor, but the overriding reason is their faith and its shaky precepts. The gunmen confirmed this with their shouts of ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is great) as they ran from the scene. 
It is only the truly demented that celebrate the association between acts of barbarity and the greatness of their imaginary God.
Through misunderstanding the terrorist's motives, the liberal religious apologists are playing to the hand of the Islamic terrorists. They are indeed fodder for the savage’s feast.

The excellent Sam Harris podcast  was the inspiration for this blog.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Today is PI day

The Radio 4 Today programme had this on their schedule:

Today is a date that only comes around once every 100 years. PI day is celebrated annually on 14th March, because the American formulation of the date “3/14” forms the first three digits of π, or pi, which is 3.14. But today isn’t just any Pi Day. This year is the first time in a century that the date is 3/14/15, which describes the first five digits of pi. Gareth Roberts is a mathematician,  Professor Sarah Hart is a Birkbeck lecturer.
Well, this is interesting but somewhat underwhelming.
If we go to mddyyy format, we find that we had a universally unique date, some 420 years ago in 1593, which will never be repeated. This of course gives the first seven digits of pi (3/14/1593).

Is this a coded message from that supernatural creator, God? If we play it backwards (3951\41\3), it looks like a coded message from the Big Guy's old adversary, Beelzebub himself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The View of God from my Anti-theist Bridge: Message

The essence of good communication one could argue is to create a straightforward link of understanding without ambiguity.
The messages allegedly sent from God, as manifested in the Bible and peer publications, are often unclear and contradictory, both within and between the collective religious tomes. It would seem that continual interpretations need to be given by those who ‘know what God really thinks’. How lucky we are to have them. The irony is, after ‘translation’, the messages become the utterances of Man himself … but of course, we suspected this already.
I think Richard Dawkins hit the nail on the head in The God Delusion: “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and 'improved' by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries” 
Sam Harris interviewed by Big Think (4/7/2007) alluded to the absurdity of a Creator God delivering, through a prophet, the Great Book, full of Iron Age barbarism and superstition. God is clearly a questionable author, never having addressed the fact that moral landscapes and practices change over time and a Book that is set in stone, having no revisions, will become out-of-date. There is a lot of information on sacrificing animals and keeping slaves, but absolutely nothing about electricity, DNA or infectious diseases. Sam sums up: “This (the Bible) is not a candidate book”.
Christian apologist Professor John Lennox in answer to the question “Surely you don’t take the bible literally?” responded “Some atheists (and a few Christians) have a very black and white idea of how to interpret the Bible. You either have to take it 'literally' or chuck it away, they think. That ignores the reality of language and how it reflects truth.” Lennox I believe is reinforcing the earlier point that the ‘good books’ are not the best didactic tools.
However, consider Deuteronomy 20:13-15 (NIV):
13   When the Lord your God delivers it (the conquered city) into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it.
14   As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies.
15   This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
The message here is quite clear. What possible interpretation of this is there other than they are the words of a sadistic, vindictive and uncivilised God?

To give the Bible its due, it is a significant, important literary work that has had a marked effect on mankind. As an instruction manual for life, as some would have it be, to say that it leaves a great deal to be desired is a true understatement.