Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Ladies and gentlemen James is back!

Posted: February 22, 2017 in General
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Howdy hi campers!

So I’ve decided to restart this blog. It’s been six years since I wrote anything on here and to be honest I haven’t logged in here for as long as I can remember.

Looking at my stats people have been still been reading! I couldn’t believe it! I’m hardly giving Google a run for their money on the traffic front but a couple of thousand visitors a year with no new content and no promotion has made me want to carry on.

Religion is doing even more damage to the world than six years ago.

Therefore I still have a lot to say.

In firing up the ol’ blog again I’ve had a read through some of my old posts (cringing at spelling and grammar mistakes! I thought I was pretty good at proofreading!). Please do the same! Have a nosy around!

I’m not sure what my first proper article will be about. I recently read an incredible story of a young Christian’s journey to freedom from religion and it was so personal to me that it’s inspired me a lot. ‘Coming out’ as an atheist is a huge step for many religious people – – so it might be something similar.

Please subscribe / follow / come back soon!

Peace,

JB

 

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Firstly I’d like to apologise for the lack of updates recently. Various situations in my family life have interfered with the time I usually give to my blog.

The Guardian today reported that the Advertising Standards Authority recently saw a 10% rise in complaints.

Near the top of their complaints list were the advertising campaigns from both the British Humanist Association and the Christian Party.

The Christian Party’s ads, which arrogantly stated “There definitely is a God – So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life” were a response to the British Humanist Association’s “There probably is no God – So stop worrying and enjoy your life”.

Not the difference there: probably. I’m constantly amazed at the level of delusion and arrogance from the religious; that they believe they know there definitely is a God. I don’t believe there is a God and I’ll gladly explain why but I know I can never say there definitely is not.

What is interesting is the vigour at which the Christian campaigners tried to stop the original atheist campaign. They tried to argue that the claims broke advertising code and could not be substantiated. Thankfully the ASA told them where to go and said they couldn’t intervene without being required to decide on the existence of God.

The Christians then, when faced with defeat, retaliated by making claims that are even more difficult to substantiate: that God “definitely” exists. Funny how one minute they’re complaining and the next they’re going even further than those they were complaining about. It’s significant that the Christian ad topped the list while the atheism ad came sixth. Maybe they shouldn’t have said “definitely”.

The fact both of these ads came high on the list shows that in this country we really don’t like talking about religion. We want to keep it private and don’t want to think about the realities of the universe. These realities clearly show us that all the main religions are human creations with no basis in fact and this raises uncomfortable questions for many. We definitely don’t like being reminded when we look at a bus.

I hope more of these ads emerge. They raise consciousness and get people talking. I have no doubt that if both camps do advertise more the atheists will continue their respectful stance in acknowledging there is no definite answer; and the religious loons will continue proclaiming they absolutely, totally, utterly, definitely know that God exists and the sooner we join their religion the happier we’ll be.

The storm brewing around the leaked government memo suggesting the Pope should bring out his own range of condoms and stay the night in a Bradford council flat has provided me with quite a deal of amusement.

You can just imagine Pope condoms, I wonder if they’d be shaped like his little hat? Can you imagine him getting into a life in a high rise tower block and standing next to a smack head?

“Third floor please love…”

” ‘ere! aint you the pope?”

What gets me is how completely unable to take a joke Catholics are. The Vatican is kicking off which is rich given the sort of things they’ve been engaging in recently.

In the Telegraph I read the best quote ever. A ‘senior’ source at the Catholic church in the UK said

“This does beg the question of how seriously this visit is being taken by the Government.
“All of our dealings with this Foreign Office team have suggested they don’t have any understanding of Catholicism and that’s how this issue seems to have come about.
“Why did they even have this brainstorming session in the first place? The Pope’s itinerary was decided a long time ago, so it’s not as if there was much room for extra events to be laid on.”

Who in their right mind would take this visit as serious?! The Pope will come, parade around waving at everybody like he’s royalty in his plastic car and whilst doing so cause madness and mayhem, divert traffic and cost money. He’s a Homo sapiens not a God and he’s only in his position because he was picked by the church, not because he’s somehow extra special.

I think the Foreign Office are more than fully understanding of the fact that the Pope is an abomination who has overseen and covered up countless abuses, even if they can’t say that publicly.

This is a prime example of the religious saying ‘because I take this way too fuckin’ seriously you must too’.

The whole thing is a joke, and let’s face it Catholics are pretty joke worthy material aren’t they! Catholics get over yourselves.

This week I had the privilege of watching the 200th episode of South Park. I have to say it was one of the funniest I’ve seen in a long time. In terms of jokes it wasn’t as funny as some episodes but what it did wonderfully was highlight the absurdity of Islamic censorship.

For those who didn’t see it the basic plot saw all the people South Park has previously made fun of bring a class action lawsuit against the town. The only way to stop the lawsuit was to bring the prophet Mohammed to Tom Cruise. Rather than actually depict Mohammed the creators dressed him in a bear suit.

Not surprisingly then, given the willingness for violence of some Muslims when someone dares to depict Mohammed, the writers of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have now received death threats. The internet has also been awash with angry Muslims ranting about how incredibly offensive the show was. Funny how those who say they’re “people of God” are the ones making the death threats, a shining example of morality!

I applaud South Park for having the guts to stick their neck on the line. It’s about time the world stopped pussy footing around and pandering to such lunacy. Some may say this episode was trying to purposefully offend Muslims but lets face it, that’s what South Park does isn’t it? It’s important to point out that in the US they have a concept called free speech (It’s a concept they’ve not heard of in the Middle East), one which is far more important than not drawing images of some bloke called Mohammed. This South Park episode screamed from the rooftops “this is America and we allow people to say what they like”.

It’s because of this I was sad to hear they’d censored the follow up episode. I understand that the creators value their lives and I can understand Comedy Central wanting to avoid being the centre of a religious row, but what on earth did they think would happen? The first episode made a point of how Muslims would respond so they were aware of the response it was going to have.

This episode raises an important issue which is deeply affecting the planet at the minute; the issue of why the religious think that the rest of the world has to humour their beliefs. If, as a Muslim, you wish to refrain from drawing pictures of Mohammed then by all means go ahead but that should not give you the right to dictate what the rest of the world does. It seems to be that we have created a new human right: the right to not be offended if your illogical beliefs are questioned.

We need to sort this out. Let’s face it, if we seriously think we can continue this farce of never offending the religious then we’re very mistaken. All religions are built upon ancient superstitions which are slowly being proven fallacious. We are trying to create a ‘free speech’ world yet, at the same time, we’re granting the religious not only the freedom from persecution but freedom from having anything negative said about them. As we push forward into a new age of enlightenment this is only going to cause conflict. The result of sending this signal to the religious, that the world will bend over backwards to accommodate their beliefs, will create a generation of fools who think they can say whatever they want but can’t have anything said back to them. It is nothing more than ludicrous for the religious to demand that non-believers live their personal lives in accordance with a religion they have no interest in.

Situations like this are going nowhere and will happen again. This is why the world needs to get some balls and stand up to religious threats.

Today’s post is part 4 of a series on the arguments for the existence of God.

The First Cause

I’ve often heard the religious bring up the subject of cause and effect. Everything that moves is moved by something, they say. Everything that happens is the effect of an earlier cause.

In its simplest logical form this argument states that everything which exists has a cause and because the Universe exists it must also have a cause. Therefore the cause must be God. The argument is an example of infinite regress. With every effect having a prior cause the ‘chain’ continues backwards forever. The religious argue that only God can break that regress and so must be the first cause.

The flawed logic is immediately obvious to me and it raises more questions than it answers. To claim God breaks the infinite regress makes the assumption God himself is immune to having a cause. We have nothing to suggest this and so it is an example of special pleading.

Even if it could be said that the Universe did have a cause, to assign responsibility of that to a ‘God’ is another jump in logic. God is not the only available explanation; the big bang provides a much more likely explanation.

“God exists because the Bible says He does”

Anybody who bases their belief in God on nothing more than because of what a book says clearly has some mental issues. I’ll just get that out the way first. There is no helping these people, they’re completely devoid of any ability to process thoughts logically so don’t waste your time with them. I wasn’t even going to comment on this argument because it’s so stupid.
So this is here purely for the sake of it. I mean come on, is it even worth wasting my time on people who make the above statement? I don’t think so but I guess I have to justify what I’m saying. Having to justify my belief these books are full of shit is like having to justify my belief the Sun exists. I am referring to every single religious text here not just the Bible.

Still there appear to be many of these people. Most deny evolution because the book says, some murder people because the book says and all base their entire life on what the book says.

It’s quite clear that all the religious texts cannot be correct. They all contradict each other too much for that to be true. This then throws plenty of doubt over all of them. While aspects of them have been historically verified the vast majority of the scriptures are the writings of some pretty confused people thousands of years ago.

The single biggest problem with all the religious books is that they were written by humans. In the 23 years I’ve been alive I’ve learned that some humans are totally fucked in the head and some have a tendency to think and believe complete rubbish. I’ve especially learned to keep well away from people who believe God has revealed something wonderful to them and only them. A man two thousand years ago who believed God was speaking to him is likely to be even more untrustworthy than the crazy nuts now. These people lived in a time when they thought the Earth was flat and the centre of everything. They thought the stars were the ‘heavens’ and that hell was under the ground. They had no knowledge of the billions of planets and stars or the detail of DNA. But yet some wish us to believe them? Given the track record of total bullshit in the Bible, Qu’ran, Book Of Morman and all the rest, I think we can safely say their authors were definitely a bit off the mark.

It saddens me occasionally when I think of the misery and death caused by religion. I have met so many who’ve experienced unnecessary turmoil as a result of conflicts between their religion and their life. Right now the single biggest cause of instability on the planet is religion. Religion can be found somewhere in every major war. For me personally the biggest problem I have with religion is that it turns our eyes upwards. It makes us look for favour with God and forget that we have a short time on this Earth. If we could rid the world of religion maybe we could realise we are all the same species and must rely on each other for survival. Perhaps we would stop obsessing about an imaginary ‘after life’ and make the most of our only life on Earth.

At times I think this is an impossible dream and that religion is too deeply seated. But it is important to remember we are only 150 years from the publication of The Origin Of Species. We are witnessing “New Atheism” in its infancy. Every day science discovers new things and our knowledge of the Universe increases. I do genuinely believe it is possible for the Earth to sort itself out although I don’t expect to see it in my life time.

One thing I do know is that time will tell. History will vindicate today’s ‘sceptics’.

Over the past couple of days I have been sharing my opinion on the arguments for the existence of God and today I continue by looking at religious experiences.

“I Experienced God So He Must Exist”

This is perhaps one of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God. There are many people who believe they have had some sort of spiritual experience. They range from direct ‘supernatural’ experiences where people say they’ve witnessed miracles or angels, to circumstantial experiences where prayers have seemingly been answered. They include ‘out of body’ experiences of people believing they have met God or seen their life ‘flash before’ them. When presented to us by people who otherwise seem totally logical and ‘normal’ they can be convincing and when accompanied by events that seem unexplainable they are strengthened further.

The argument in its logical form states that it is only possible to experience something which exists and therefore if someone experiences God, then God must exist.

To test this I thought about whether it was possible to experience something that doesn’t exist. There are many examples of humans experiencing something that doesn’t exist. Dreams are situations where the brain completely believes the dream is real. It is not until you wake up you realise you’re dreaming; you never realise while you’re actually dreaming. A hallucination is the same thing except you are awake. Some drugs can alter our minds so that we believe we are experiencing something that isn’t happening. Drugs add no new capabilities to our brain they merely interfere with the normal processing occurring within the brain. Drugs have the ability to allow incredibly realistic yet non existent experiences. Some mental illnesses provide evidence of the brains ability to do this without chemical help. Schizophrenic people sometimes have very different perceptions of reality. Some people recall in the most detailed way how they were abducted by aliens and what happened to them. The world is full of examples of the human’s ability to experience something that doesn’t exist.

This concept is pretty easy to understand when you understand how the brain actually works and what an ‘experience’ is. Your eyes let in light which in turn is detected by optical sensors. These send constant signals to your brain which arranges them into an image. Your ears do the same with sound. You are not listening to an audio feed, you are hearing your brain’s construction of a constant supply of sound vibrations. It is easy to fool the brain with simple optical illusions where things appear to be completely different to how they actually are. 3D films appear 3D but are actually on a flat screen.

Sometimes we don’t receive enough information to construct a truly accurate picture and our brain calls on information it already has stored. An example of this is when a person lying in bed may hear what sounds like someone breaking into their car. On closer inspection it turns out to be a fox poking around in the bins. When the person heard the noise they thought it was a thief. Their brain was given nothing but the actual sound waves but it immediately used its pre-stored memory of what it expected a car thief to sound like. Indeed the very fact that the person suspected a car thief is evidence of knowledge previously stored in the brain. I make this example merely to demonstrate that a particular experience comprises of different factors. The brain can easily create an experience which is not actually occurring.

It is quite clear then that the argument’s main premise is false and that it is in fact possible to experience something which does not exist.

It is entirely plausible that a person with pre-determined beliefs in angels and miracles could be in a situation where they experienced what they thought was an angel. I have no logical reason to not extend the same to miracles. There are more examples of the effect pre-determined beliefs have on what we can experience. I have witnessed plenty of avid ghost hunters speak of the ‘spirits’ and ‘presences’ they have experienced.

Some religious people say God speaks to them, they say they know it’s God and so he must exist. Despite the obvious comedy value in this belief I will address it none the less. I worry about the sanity of someone who genuinely believes that the random thoughts that pop into their head are God but yet millions of people do believe it. It is more than clear that God tells them whatever they already believe God would say. Humans consistently apply characteristics they have invented to God.

I could go on with more examples; people who claim to have met Elvis after he had died, people who say God has told them to murder and rape, suicide bombers who say God told them to blow up buildings. It is more than obvious that it is possible to see, hear and experience things that aren’t actually happening and don’t really exist.

Yesterday I began this article on why I believe there is no God. I looked at the argument from design and gave my opinion on why the Universe appears to be designed. Today I continue by looking at morality and whether it comes from God.

Without God We Have No Morals

Morality is concerned with right and wrong. To many it is an impulse, they say they just know what is right and what is wrong. It seems true to me that our sense of right and wrong is not entirely learned. We are not directly taught what to do in a given situation, yet we appear to make similar moral decisions. These decisions are sometimes found universally, spanning many cultures and nationalities. It might even be said that their are certain moral ‘laws’. People appear to feel compelled to act in a morally good way. This raises the question of why we would often act in a selfless manner, sometimes helping others at our own expense.

This argument states that morals appear to exist objectively and that they have authority beyond what society dictates. That as humans act morally right when they’re not always required to by society there must be a reason why they do so; that as morals are transcendental and not ‘within’ us they must come from God.

I have a major problem with this argument. It is, quite frankly, ridiculous. In its most basic form it says that without God people would not do good. I personally do good because of the benefits to the world not because I think God wants me to. It’s a strange argument because I don’t see how the existence of God shows us what is right and wrong. If the religious mean they get their morals from religious texts then their argument falls down. They were written by humans, and as such the moral concepts they wrote about clearly already existed in their minds. One doesn’t have to delve far into the world of most major religions to find a wonderful array of hideous ‘morals’ and ‘rules’. Islam scores maximum points here.

In addition to all of this the evolutionary advantage of doing good to our kin is plainly obvious. We can observe how most other species co-operate with their kin, watching out for each other. They stay in groups and clean each other. More intelligent species display similar social structures to us. It’s impossible to ignore the striking similarities between ourselves and primates. Not just in appearance but in behaviour also. Brothers defend their young sisters and mothers nurse their babies. Partners hug, kiss and clean each others backs and parents mourn the death of their young. It is clear to me that altruism is found at all levels of the living world. It is not unique to humans and it does not have its basis in religion or God. A species who work together for survival are much more likely to survive than a species who spend all their time doing bad to each other. It is observed in humans that when you do good to others you live a better life and it’s not difficult to see the benefit to our survival.

If the argument that morality has to come from God were true, then it should be so that the moral laws are universal. That is they are non-negotiable and apply always. If the laws don’t originate in us we can’t have the ability to alter them for different situations. Clearly if we were expected to do this it would defeat the object of having the laws in the first place as they would then become subjective not objective.

I have no option but to reject this as never in my life have I observed morality to be a set of concrete laws. There are trends consistent across the globe, however in every situation people judge what is right and wrong based on many variables. It cannot be said that to kill is always wrong, as there are many situations where taking life has been justified. Morals can also be observed to change over time. Most of society has adopted changes in morals regarding human rights over recent history. Religion has taught us it is immoral to be gay, modern knowledge and understanding has taught us it is immoral to hate something which happens naturally.

In my opinion the existence of morality and altruism is easily explained through natural selection and observed in the individual benefits we get from doing good to each other. God is not required to explain it.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about personal religious encounters and how they are easily explained.