Showing posts from July, 2010

A deeply spiritual non-believer

You may have noticed I haven't posted anything in a while. More likely, you didn't notice because you were busy eating goldfish crackers and going to raves. My excuse is that my computer is not working right now, so I've been relegated to surfing the interwebs with my phone, which makes blogging kind of difficult. Actually it makes a lot of things difficult, like, I dunno, paying my bills. Anygay, I'm typing this on a friend's computer, but updates will be sporadic until my computer is fixed and assing kick. Where was I? Ah yes. Spirituality. Since I can't watch anything involving Flash on my phone (which lamely includes Netflix, which I'd just signed up for mainly to use the streaming player), I've been watching a lot of TED Talks on Youtube... or rather listening , since I'm usually doing technical exercises on my guitar while the talks are playing. I listened to a particularly interesting one on love by Helen Fisher (whom I've never heard o

Network theory of deconversion part 2: Why aren't there more nonbelievers?

The population of nonbelievers - atheists, agnostics, "nonreligious", etc. - has doubled in the United States in the last decade, but we still make up a very small percentage of the population. We are in fact the fastest growing "religious" group in the U.S., which I take as a very encouraging sign. The internet has allowed religious people to break free from an insular existence and be exposed to more counter-arguments, and judging by the numbers, it's clear who's winning on the intellectual battlefield. Yet the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens still claim as their own some set of religious beliefs, which tend to be overwhelmingly Christian. We're home to small pockets of Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, and (ugh) Scientologists, but for the most part the U.S. is a predominately Christian nation. In conversations with fellow apostates, we've always had one thing in common: we all were, at one time, very devout. We were heavily involved

The network theory of deconversion

Something that's frustrated and surprised me as an atheist is how resilient some theists can be, even when they're consistently on the losing side of an argument. In a discussion with my parents once upon a time, I posed this logical dilemma for them: God is – according to Christianity at least – omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-loving. Because he is omniscient and not bound by the laws of space and time, he knows the future. This means, necessarily, that he would have known mankind would rebel against him; he would have known that many would not be redeemed, and end up spending eternity in hell. He would have known that certain people would inflict great suffering upon others. So if God is all-loving, why would he create someone knowing they would make others suffer (like Hitler), or create anyone whom he knew would ultimately reject him and spend eternity in hell? My parents pulled out the old "free will" argument, but that doesn't work here because

Atheists can be so insensitive!

PZ Myers has a great post up today over at Pharyngula where he reminds us that it's okay to mock religion, because it's fucking ridiculous : Religion has at least two weaknesses. One is that it is empirically false, and all of its specific claims are either pointless and unverifiable, or have been falsified. Another, though, that we neglect at a cost of diminished effectiveness, is that it's hilarious. It's a prime target for exposure of religious folly; it's the soft, ticklish underbelly of faith and we need more people to exploit it. PZ is one of those "attack dog" style of atheists, alongside others like Christopher Hitchens and Jerry Coyne. I can relate, as I enjoy a good laugh, and I've been chastised by theists for not being sensitive enough to their lunacy. Although I think it's important to have substantive conversations about faith and religion from time to time, I've never been one to shy away from mocking the absurdity of it


Dan Barker is a former protestant preacher turned atheist, now the head of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I stumbled onto this clip from YouTube, where he purportedly admits to an "intelligent designer". Phil Fernandes is supposedly debating the validity of the Big Bang by querying how an "explosion" can produce order. Dan Barker totally took the bait, which is a shame because the question is a red herring, and a perfect example of the stupidity of creationists. The Big Bang was not an explosion at all; it was the expansion of the fabric of space-time from a quantum vacuum. Stephen Hawking demonstrated mathematically 30 years ago how the universe could have arisen from a quantum field of virtual particles (the closest thing to "nothing" that there is). Secondly, explosions can, in a roundabout sense, produce order. Here's something to ponder: every time a star explodes in a supernova, it seeds the galaxy with the heavy elements required t

Watch this movie!

Alert readers may have noticed I took a bit of a hiatus from the blogging. Well, I was kidnapped by international terrorists and had only my Navy SEAL training to free myself, kill all the terrorists with my bare hands, save the hostages and get the girl. Suffice to say that I've had my deadly but tender hands full lately, but there is some new bloggery on the way. So first, an announcement. Watch this movie. Do it. It's Creation , a bio about Charles Darwin and the tension his theory creates with his religious wife, and it's available on DVD/On Demand/iTunes right now. Hmm... I wonder how that whole evolution vs. religion thing panned out...

Happy atheists: a thorn for believers

I saw this comment on a rather insipid blog in which the author suggested that God gave Christopher Hitchens cancer to humble him into conversion: "The very existence of functional, happy atheists flies in the face of your beliefs, so you must convince yourselves that we must not be genuine. Either we are not functional, not happy, or we are not truly atheists. Unlike your god, however, there is substantial evidence for our existence." This got me thinking. I recently saw an ad for a church in which the pastor said things like (paraphrasing), "Do you feel hopeless? Things not working out in life? Are your relationships struggling? Come and let Jesus into your heart..." etc. etc. Debates about whether God exists aside, I think there's a much more interesting question: whether God's existence matters . I mean sure, it may be a mildly interesting philosophical conversation to discuss the existence of a deistic god, but would anyone really give a hoot whe