The Problem of Morality

Jack Kerwick’s article on Atheism and the Problem of Morality got me thinking. Why do people think atheists have a problem with morality. Well apart from the fact it is a typically carpenter god orientated article it’s filled with some of the standard and sadly all to common notions about our morality.

Morality is one of the things that religion claims as it’s sole domain and there are problems with dogmatic morality as we shall see.

Where was God when Adam Lanza went on a shooting spree at an elementary school in Newtown,Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead? 

It’s a distasteful choice of example. But I can field this quite easily. But not to begin with. To begin with we should examine why the notions in this article are wrong. It’s not my ideal choice of example but it’s the one Jack begins with. So let’s delve into Jack Kerwick’s article… [Read more…]

Things I Learned This Week

I am not a happy bunny, I learnt two things today, two things that probably say more about the United States of America’s toxic culture than anything else.

The first was the apparent “attacks on teachers by politicians”. The notion that the school teachers are horrid, greedy and callous individuals personally responsible for the state of American education rather than the shoddy interference by private parties and politicians.

The American system is fucked by it’s standardised testing. It’s EXCESSIVE standardised testing… I understand the need for tests. They are vital in the real world. If I told americans how many tests I sit to qualify they would probably think I am some sort of robot sent from the future to make humans embarrassed about how much they suck at exams. I have exams until the end of January… I have one tomorrow. I have so far finished 6 papers and have 10 more to go…

I am taught to the paper myself  BUT my paper is “Ophthalmology” It’s a massive subject. Being taught to the paper involves the major problems you will face. When you do a Postgraduate Qualification you will get more help but at my level of “Bog Standard Doctor” you get to know the basics and the syllabus of the paper covers that.

But that shouldn’t be the case in a school. A school is there to not just teach but inspire. To blame teachers for a broken system is like blaming soldiers for the malfunction of a weapon. The system is broke, teachers are trying to do their best. Some of the right wing vitriol makes me think that the USA wages a war on terror, drugs and education simultaneously.

The second thing I found out was that guns in the USA are a placebo. They are the extension of a Walter Mitty fantasy. They are bought in the belief that if something goes wrong the purchaser will whip his weapon out and solve the problem with hot lead and justice.

To the gun owner, crime is less of a problem in their heads. They THINK they are safe. And for the most part they are right. The USA is a relatively SAFE place. Your crime rates while high for a first world nation are lower than many places where we routinely go. I am more likely to be run over by a car everyday I step out the house than you are to die in a crime in the USA.

But the fear of crime is high in the USA. But that’s the media’s fault. Crime is glorified in the news. Because it sells. It also makes people buy guns because successful crime is only shown. You don’t see all the crime thwarted because it’s thwarted. That doesn’t make front page, that is a byline story. So people think that they are unsafe, they think the cops don’t do anything and are all donut eating salad dodgers rather than a skilled workforce. They do not trust their cops.

Why the British Bobby is considered the pinnacle of police work but the american copper isn’t is a debate for another time and probably someone more knowledgeable than me.

This attitude towards cops and crime means that Americans think that they only have two options. To prowl the streets dressed as a bat striking fear into the hearts of superstitious criminals or buy a gun. Since most billionaires are rather safe from petty criminals the only real option is the gun. Once you have a gun you think you are safe. Crime is no longer your problem.

Economic disparity and lack of opportunity may have made criminals but Smith & Wesson make them equally dead.

If you think crime is not your problem any more, so why should you care about things that cause crime? Why should you care about it falling. If anything rising crime merely confirms your choice of purchase and you may think of buying a second firearm (I don’t know… You intend to jump through a window while firing two guns or require a spare gun in case your first gun betrays you…).

This notion came to a head today when I found out that post Sandy Hook, Colorado has seen their biggest firearms purchase ever. To the point that there is a backlog of background check claims. 4200 purchases were made.

Despite what we think in our quiet corner of the internet, the apparent solution to guns is more guns. Because no one thinks that they will ever be the bad guy in the gun fight. No one ever thinks that they will draw second. No one ever thinks they will miss. No one ever thinks they will hit the wrong person. And no one ever thinks they will draw in anger.

No one ever sees themselves shooting up a school. Everyone who they see getting shot by them had it coming. It’s always a rapist, mugger, murderer, robber, rogue gunman or terrorist. It’s never the nice boys from next door. It’s never their own family or policemen or some random stranger.

Attacks on Medical Staff

It has been reported that UN Aid staff are being moved out of Pakistan and the country’s Polio program has been halted due to a series of attacks by insurgents specifically aimed at killing aid workers working to eliminate Polio.

So far four women have died with the fifth succumbing to her injuries a short while ago.

This comes after a recent spate of threats and kidnapping of medical staff in order to cease vaccinations against this deadly disease partly due to fears that the doctors, nurses and medical staff are spies due to the involvement of a doctor in the capture of Osama Bin Laden. (A Doctor who I will point out was rewarded with a 30 year jail sentence… Nice one Pakistan. Way to look like the good guys).

The cessation of vaccination and the active targeting of medical personnel makes Pakistan the only country with a rising polio rate and there are fears across Asia that Pakistan can be the source of the resurgence of this disease which has so far come back in China, Tajikistan and parts of Africa believed to be free of the disease.

Last year over 200 children in Pakistan were paralysed due to Polio. Hopefully this is the end of such attacks but I fear there will be more attacks on medics before the war on Polio is over in Pakistan.

Doubts About Atheism? Fifteen Questions for Atheists Answered

I got these “questions” sent on a Facebook message after I corrected a friend on the whole “Israel Malarky”. Someone took umbrage to me stating that “If god is telling United States of America (or at least ‘MERICA!!!) to support Israel then perhaps we should stop listening to the voices in our head and rather use knowledge, skill and common sense to come up with solutions”.

A little google wizardry helps me find the OP… Matthew Clayton from the blog Loving Christ With Your Mind.

And I figured I should give an answer.

[Read more…]

Witchhunter

We often joke about witchcraft. Whether it be us laughing at the sheer silliness of modern witchcraft in wicca or satanists or laughing at the ideas a lot of people have about Harry Potter. To us witches are a joke. But in vast parts of Africa where traditional belief in witches is mixed with the fears of Christianity and Islam which promotes an irrational fear in magic and sorcery.

The following account is compiled from a variety of news sources and is disturbing and contains graphic details of a horrific crime. It is NSFW, unsuitable for children and may be a trigger. So I carry this disclaimer warning potential readers.

With this in mind?

Kristian Bamu

This is Kristian Bamu, a 15 year old boy from Paris. He was looking forward to spending Christmas with his sister and her boyfriend (Magalie Bamu and Eric Bikubi) along with his brothers and sisters. What occurred between the 16th of December and Christmas in 2010 can only be described as madness.

Kristian Bamu was discovered by paramedics in a bathtub and was declared dead. He was missing teeth, his body was covered in a variety of injuries ranging from bruises to deep cuts and stab wounds. His two sisters aged 11 and 20 were also subjected to some of these. His brothers aged 13 and 22 joined him in being tortured. Tortured by Eric and Magalie for the crime of being witches.

Kristin Bamu’s cause of death was drowning as he was either held under water or slipped under the water of a bath he was placed in. Over the four day ordeal he was attacked by a variety of implements ranging from a knife, pliers, a wooden beam, a weight lifting bar and a hammer. His teeth were knocked out. His ears were torn with pliers. He was struck repeatedly by different objects and was cut. He was not allowed to eat or use the bathroom. His other brothers and sisters were forced to torture him or face the same punishment. Kristin Bamu’s older sister was forced to tear his ears with pliers while the youngest aged just 11 was forced to watch.

Why? Erik and Magalie claimed that they were witches and were bringing witchcraft into their house. For an understanding of that we need to go deeper.

Erik and Magalie and indeed Kristian and his siblings were from the Democratic Republic of Congo and were firm believers in one of the many sects of baptist and charismatic Christianity that settled there as part of the mission movement. This kind of christianity believes in witchcraft as a real and tangible force and that this witchcraft or Kindoki is a genuine threat. Kindoki is said to manifest itself in children hence a series of these brutal assaults. Erik in particular was subject to the same type of treatment as a child. He too was one of the children who was “corrected” by such methods. Erik showed a history of abuse, with Magalie having to seek intervention with a women’s shelter at least once with a black eye after she was beaten after she refused to eat food off the floor. Whether Magalie was a willing participant or a further victim is not for us to decide, the evidence from her sister is certainly damning. Erik’s mother’s death was blamed on him and he showed the signs of mental disease and brain damage from a childhood fall. As his condition manifest in the UK, rather than seek medical help he sought Nigerian pastors and researched Kindoki online resulting in a paranoid delusion about the existence of witches.

Kindoke is the Lingala word for witchcraft and is one of the hundreds of words denoting a spiritual evil in various African languages and dialects. It’s western equivalent would be witchcraft or demonic possession. These beliefs have made their way across Europe with immigration as a method of explaining good and bad fortune.

To many Africans particularly those of the protestant faiths, this evil power is seen as witchcraft. In areas where society has broken down such as the Congo and southern Nigeria these accusations are epidemic. Many are taken seriously with some children taken to pastors for exorcism and others subject to home made remedies such as the ones attempted by Erik.

These are not traditional beliefs, these changes are obvious in the history of these peoples. Witchcraft was part of the traditional faith of Africa. Modern Christian belief sees the power of witchcraft as something evil and belief of possession by demons and witches is a common theme in all Christian faith in particular the fundamentalist Baptist and Pentecostal faiths. Thus many Africans maintain their former belief in witches with the approval and support of their new faith. Many newer churches spring up with the self proclaimed divine mission to hunt and destroy witches and profit from these services actively. Many pastors offer detection and exorcism services. Most of these are violent with beatings, cold baths and starvation used to purify the child.

The most recent trend is the accusation of children by parents and guardians. These are children who may have bad dreams, bed wetting, children who are stupider or cleverer, who have different likes and dislikes… the list practically covers every type of child out there. The accused are often outsiders, step-children, refugees, orphans, trafficked children and witches. Many are those who are mentally ill or are survivors of debilitating diseases.

A suspected child MUST confess. To this child the only choice is to say that there are five lights. Denials are not acceptable but ensures further exorcism attempts are made. Much of the violence is believed to be due to pastors trying to force confessions. Obviously children under such a horrific ordeal would admit to anything under torture. Children agreeing to being witches may face further violence after their admission. These children are not treated like children but an empty shell. It is believed that if the shell is made uncomfortable, the evil spirit will be made to leave.

Many people believe in this and it’s hard to find a politician who thinks this is a major problem. Any attempts to legislate this have been met with little to no success. Many politicians actively utilise this issue to paint a fear of a scourge of witchcraft with which to further their campaigns. Even in places like the UK it is believed that an unknown number of children are treated like this in impromptu and makeshift churches. And if anything the numbers of these type of churches is growing and being treated as an underground movement where we persecute them for their beliefs. The official guidelines maintained note around eight cases a year of witchcraft related abuse a year and this is what we find. The numbers are probably much higher as families involved don’t see this as torture but as saving the child’s life. The blame lays almost entirely with the beliefs of the various pentecostal and evangelical baptist churches. The various African pentecostal churches in Africa have a well witnessed history of witch hunts. In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone it is estimated that nearly 50,000 children have been forced out of their homes because of fears of Kindoki in just Kinshasa.

It’s a faith that isn’t un
ique to Africa and Africans, as many people in the west are educated and still consider witchcraft as a threat. How is this different from the exorcism of the Catholic Church? How is this different from the exorcisms that take place in the USA whose literal interpretation has turned into a genuine witch hunt on a scale unheard of in human history. How many of us thought the fears over music and the fears over D&D were stupid? How many atheists have watched Jesus Camp and snickered over their denouncement of Harry Potter as an agent of Satan? How many of us laughed when we hear that people genuinely believe in the Chick Tracts? I certainly laughed.

I don’t feel like laughing any more. 

Valentine’s Day Massacre: Indiana’s Drones and the Temple of Dumb

Why are we even discussing whether religion and science should be taught on the same footing in a classroom? It is 2012, and we have touched the moon, made smallpox extinct, created the internet and routinely chose to hurl ourselves through the air in metal cylinders powered by dead monsters.

And somehow despite all this technology that science has created to make our lives better in every single possible way, you still have people like the members of the Indiana Senate who tried (and will probably try again) to get a bill that allows for the teaching of creationism in schools.

It’s such a faulty premise that something that has been repeatedly proven to be true has to be taught alongside the notion that the world was created as it is by magic. It beggars belief that we are even discussing this in this time period with what we know. At its heart it is an attempt to shoehorn Jesus into children and hammer home the idea that religion also has answers that should be treated as equally valid to science. After all, it’s rather embarrassing to claim divine knowledge and be so ignorant about the functioning of the world. Science just makes religion look bad by exposing the depths of wilful ignorance that it encourages.


The teaching of Creationism irrespective of its source does not align at all with reality and therefore with science. They are stories, nothing more and nothing less than that. Teaching them in a classroom as fact doesn’t harm you. It harms your children by creating a group of people who do not question things properly and who simply blindly accept the fact that magic exists. 


As a United Methodist pastor, I am part of a Christian tradition that looks to Scripture, church tradition, critical thinking and relevant experience to reflect on God and make decisions about life in relationship to our Scriptures. Within this framework, there is plenty of room for science, including the science of evolution. What can be measured and tested and studied through scientific methods informs my theology, and my theology informs how I understand the results of that scientific method. I am not an expert on other faith traditions, but I imagine that many of them could make similar claims.

Brenda Freije doesn’t get the point in the best way. Her attitude is that reconciliation between science and wishful thinking is possible. She chooses to treat the account in Genesis as a guideline or story, stating that there is tremendous wisdom in the bible as its defence. There is tremendous wisdom in Harry Potter (honour, courage, intelligence, hard work, bravery, friendship, sacrifice, doing what’s right, love, responsibility and universality) but I wouldn’t want it to be read in schools in lieu of actual science. To me the bible has some really terrible things in it. So does Harry Potter, but the terrible things in Harry Potter are done by people who are clearly villains while a lot of the terrible things done in the bible are due to the direct action of men who are considered “good” and by the deity who claims to be good. Her vision of Christianity is a very mellow and mild one that simply ignores a lot of the text of the book.

Rather than stating that science is right because it is based on experiment and proof and that the biblical account is based on allegory, she goes for the “we don’t know what’s right” argument. The truths in the Bible have been repeatedly proven empirically wrong and the only way to deal with that is by claiming that there is mystical truth that only comes from belief and study. 


Science and religion ask different questions and apply different methods of study. This doesn’t make them incompatible. It does make them distinct. Claims about God as the creator of life are claims of faith. Claims that there is no divine power behind the created order are claims of a different kind of faith. It is the role of parents and our communities of faith to teach about these claims and to help our children think critically about the science they are learning. 

Science asks questions, religion makes up answers. Science does study and experiment and test while religion does not. The claim that there is no divine power in the universe is based on the observable fact that there is no divine power in the universe. To date not one person who claims to believe in the divine has been capable of providing evidence that the divine exists. The day proof is provided; we will accept a god exists. But till now there is none.

Next we have Donald Lacy, a United Methodist Pastor.

First, and likely the most difficult, has to do with what understanding(s) of creationism is to be presented to students. I suggest the place to begin for our great state is to seek out scholarly representatives of those that can trace their beginning to Father Abraham: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Perhaps the Senate itself could do this. But what branches of each should come together? Christianity alone has numerous denominational groupings. Potential chaos? Is consensus possible? 


Firstly, the USA has a establishment clause banning the promotion of religion in a classroom. It doesn’t matter what god you believe in, you cannot flog it in a classroom. And none of the Abrahamic faiths have a grasp on how old the earth is by a factor of nearly the entire existence of the earth. Islam has been around for less than 2000 years. The world has been around for 4.5 billion years. This isn’t philosophy where all views are equal. This is science, and it’s not a democracy. It’s a meritocracy. If your view has evidence then your view stands. If your evidence is flawed then your view falls. And the evidence for all abrahamic faith is faulty at its very core. It doesn’t matter how much you agree about it if you are agreeing about the existence of unicorns. 


Second, if some agreement can be reached on what is to be taught as creationism and implemented, we must look into the future. Who or what has the authority, responsibility and accountability to decide the validity of such teaching by providing objective testing? We may very well have a menacing wall that only partially comes down. Will each proponent insist on his/her way? Again, is consensus possible? 


Secondly, creationism shouldn’t be taught. Not until they can provide empirical evidence. Because so far there has been no empirical research out of the movement let alone any
thing that substantiates their proof. We hear about research but close examination shows it to be laughable and unacceptable at the level at which a 12 year old child would do science. We cannot and should not teach anything this faulty. 


Third, we must at least mention Buddhism and Hinduism. Our state definitely has devotees. In the late 1950s, we had a brilliant Christian professor at Butler School of Religion (Christian Theological Seminary) whose name was Joseph Smith. I relished every minute of his comparative history of religions and wrote essays on both religions. Often, after classes, I was ready to convert or find a way to incorporate them into Methodism. Well, dear friends, is consensus possible?


Thirdly, Hinduism’s creation mythos is clearly entrenched in magic. And hindus themselves tend to not believe in their own creation mythos relying heavily on science because that explains the world better. The Buddhist mythos varies wildly depending on the influence of Hinduism but it was originally a atheistic/agnostic belief system with the flaw being that it believed in a series of personal laws that apply to behaviour. Neither of these religions have enforced creationist mythos to the same level as the nonsense portrayed by the Abrahamic faiths. Encouraging them to be just like you just adds to the whole problem. And their creation mythos is completely alien to Abrahamic Faith.

Fourth, the crossing of lines between church, synagogue, mosque and state is probable. Aligning creationism with science may simply seem politically practical. Simply? Really now, it gets at the heart of who and what we are. We Christians should seriously propose a major interfaith event — inviting Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists to a spacious classroom for prayers. The governor, legislature, Supreme Court and state superintendent of public instruction should join us. 


Fourthly, Why? This seems like a giant waste of time and money. The USA has a tonne of problems regarding education without dragging magic into the mix. And it does not get at the heart of who we are as human beings.

We are the product of 3 billion years or so of evolution. We are a product of death, destruction and pain since the wheel of evolution is based on the deaths of others. Those who live to breed were lucky or were the best. We are the product of that. We have evolved to use tools and to solve problems using tools. And those two skills have allowed us as humans to break the normal cycle of evolution and become a force of nature unto ourselves. Our tools and brain have allowed us to create a society where we are not subject to the normal pressures of evolution. We have come from a history of incredible cruelty, brutality and strife to create a society that doesn’t need to be those things. We have the luxury as people to explore ideas such as kinship, universality and knowledge. At the heart of it, a human being is a powerful brain coupled with artifice mixed in with the right measures of cunning, dexterity and brute force to have become the most powerful and most self aware species that we are currently aware of. And it is these abilities and the appropriate application of them that allow us to get along with each other and become more.

To claim that we are the magic offspring of some mythical entity is to insult our true nature, and to forget what we truly are.

And finally we get to Greg Manship. An instructor in ethics at the University of Indianapolis.

Creationism aligns with science because both seek to bring understanding to the origins and fundamentals of the material world as we know it. Both science and faith help us to understand ourselves as human beings living with other human and nonhuman beings in a finite, material world within an infinite universe.


Creationism is not science, it is faith. It tries to ally with science because every time it has raised its ugly head it’s been defeated by empirical evidence which is what science is based on. It is trying to pass itself off as science in the same way that chiropractors and homeopaths try to pass themselves off as doctors. It does so in order to get acceptance into schools and so that it can replace genuine education with “Jesus”.

By faith, we understand the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures to reveal God as creator of the sun and the moon as “great lights . . . to mark day and night.” By science, we understand the nature of the sun’s light to be a massive release of visible and invisible electromagnetic energy, and the nature of the moon’s light to be the reflection of the sun’s light. 


Why has this man been hired to teach at a university? This man blatantly doesn’t even grasp how stars are formed. In this idiot’s world the sun and moon’s existence are to mark day and night as the world’s largest clocks. That god created the goddamn sun (a ball of nuclear fire that is a million times larger than the earth) solely for us to be able to tell when morning begins. Does God not intend for us to live in the Arctic or Antarctic where the sun often doesn’t set for months and where night can last an entire winter? No! Because that is clearly moronic because the “Ancient Hebrew Text” assumes the sun exists solely for human benefit.

On the other hand, by science we understand that the Higgs boson is a hypothetical subatomic particle that is the theoretical cause for mass and matter, which constitutes material reality as we know it. And by faith (defined by the author of the Book of Hebrews as “confidence in what we hope for . . . evidence of what we cannot see”) we understand that despite the lack of evidence so far, with more experimentation and explanation, the Higgs boson (which the media have labeled the “God particle”) will be found, thus completing our understanding of the material world (according to the Standard Model of particle physics). 


I will raise my hand here. I do not understand the science behind particle physics. I understand it is science, but my education diverged from physics down the route of biology which is closer to chemistry than it is to particle physics. To me it is a mysterious world of strange names and I feel like the average physicist when confronted by the strange names of medicine. However? I understand that there is a logical position on why physicists make the statements they do. I understand that they test their hypothesis and are not making assumptions or guesses but are working towards understanding the world slowly and painfully.

I will not however assume that a bunch of 3000 year old Jews knew anything about the Higgs Boson just because a single line in a book, nor apply the term faith to what is effectively an educated guess or a prediction. The Higgs Boson is a prediction; mathematics and logic postulate the existence of the Higgs Boson in much the same way that Mendeleev predicted the existence of Noble Gases and even left space out for undiscover
ed elements in his periodic table. These were not based on faith but logic and actual hard science. A biological example would be the Darwin Orchid, where Darwin predicted it was pollinated by a moth whose tongue was of unprecedented length. 21 years after his death the moth was discovered vindicating his theory based on the fact that the plant had honey whose sole purpose is the attraction of insects, but it was honey placed deep within the flower which had a long flower that needed a long tongue. So since Darwin noticed no hummingbirds that would have the necessary tongue and bill to drink, he postulated it must be a night living moth since he hadn’t seen the creature and humming birds are diurnal. His education in entomology and biology allowed him to make the postulation. It wasn’t a leap of faith but a calculated jump made using knowledge and understanding.

There is no faith without science, for even Jesus challenged Thomas to gather empirical evidence by touching Jesus’ resurrected body. And there is no science without faith, for even scientists have faith and believe in the possibilities of what they have not yet seen with their own eyes. We fail our students and we fool ourselves when we “believe” we have “proof” of the “incompatibility” between science and faith. 


And finally it’s the assumption that faith in science and in religion is equivalent to each other. Faith is the absence of science, and the faith of a scientist in possibilities that are yet to come is not based on faith but by the theoretical application of a new discovery or an existing piece of technology. We do not live our lives based on that technological future and we apply logic and common sense to it as we develop a greater understanding that religion simply does not.

What fails the American student is the introduction of non-real things to education. We are not discussing creationism, we are discussing magic. We are discussing a belief in a hypothetical entity possessing the ability to break the known laws of the universe at whim in order to create an entire universe solely for the benefit of around 7 billion people who have to worship it in order for an unknown benefit that is poorly defined. Creationism is not science; it is superstition attempting to masquerade as science in order to flog more superstition. It is entirely incompatible with science as science requires proof.

If creationism is allowed to enter our schools, then science should be allowed to enter your church. After all, if we are trying to be fair and balanced we should be fair and balanced in all aspects. All in favour say aye! 

Logical Coherrance

Mr. Kohlmayer certainly thinks that our arguments lack logic and coherence while cherry picking a single quote from a skeptical website.

The argument we make is based on a simple concept. If god is completely a non-physical entity then how does he interact with the universe? How does he affect believers? How does he implement his magic? How do miracles function? Surely in the action of these events he has achieved physicality or at least disturbed the waters of reality sufficient for detection. I mean if he is affecting fairly grandiose changes in people then surely we should be able to detect that. We can detect a single particle but not the massive effect of a god?

But even as the atheist tries to make his point, he unwittingly falls into a trap: If his worldview were true, then the principle of non-contradiction – or any other rule of logic – would be void of meaning.
Why? Because within atheism reality is ultimately composed of only matter and motion. If atheism is true, then everything in the universe must be explainable in terms of these two.
Rules of logic, however, possess properties that cannot be explained in terms of matter and motion. After all, rules of logic are immaterial, abstract, universal and unchanging.

The rules of logic are determined by humans and are routinely refined as new concepts come up. Atheism is based on a simple concept. That no god exists because there is no evidence of him bar written texts from dubious sources. There is no repeatable empirical events. There are no gods, not Shiva, Jehovah or Allah.

Everything in the universe is a explainable through science. If not know, it will be. Just because we don’t know something now doesn’t mean we won’t later.

Many of the earliest scientists argued about the nature of light. How fast it was, people tried to measure the speed of light. They mostly got it as instantaneous, so many assumed it was, however a few smart souls realised that light had to have a speed, a very high speed that they couldn’t measure. They predicted other people would find out. They didn’t deem it to be the realm of god. They deemed it to be something for future generations to understand when the technology caught up.

The thing about gods is that they are always behind the next theory, the next great mystery and in the great unknown. They have to be hidden lest they be exposed to science and rationality.

I mean if “there is probably no gods and these 2000 year old books are wrong” is not rational but “doing specific things on specific positions of the earth to the sun so that you get a benefit of a non physical entity that likes it” is then frankly your definition of logic isn’t a very good definition at all. 

The Seventh Seal

If we agree to be arranged by a tetris player, then I am sure
we can fit a few more hundred people in here.

Humanity has crossed a very important landmark in our existence. As of this week, it is predicted that there are seven billion people on earth. Who the seven billionth child is? That isn’t important. What is important is that we tackle the issue of overpopulation across the world. But not everyone sees this as a real issue. The catholics have started declaring this a celebration in the fight against our “murder industry”. A good example is the pro-catholic Population Research Institute who celebrate this event.

We don’t wish to reduce the right of people to have children, it’s a universal right. What we do want is for them to have fewer kids, and treat the ones that they do have as cherished treasures regardless of gender, ability, mental and physical status or sexuality. We basically want the western ideal of 2 children to become the norm because it produces a relatively stable population that doesn’t grow or fall, a stable economy from the influx of people into it and a reduction of drain on natural resources since they are finite and the more we spread it out the richer we are as people and the more easier and comfortable our lives are. We want people to understand that they need to have as many kids as they can manage and for most it is one or two. 

Stephen Mosher of the Population Research Institute disagrees with this idea. But his argument is filled with ludicrous fallacy after fallacy. Of catholic rhetoric that may not work on non catholic governments that we are so proud to support, but will work on the millions of catholics who reside in Africa and parts of Asia like the Philippines.



In short, I am stating that Mosher lies about a variety of things in both posts. Either he is lying or is simply following church propaganda. 

“None of this matters,” the official responds. “The only relevant fact is that you are not married now. The rules cannot be bent,” she tells you. And the rules of China’s birth-control program absolutely forbid single motherhood.  
Under the double threat of losing your job and paying a huge fine (the first makes it almost impossible to do the second, of course), you report under duress to the abortion ward.  Because you are already in the third trimester of pregnancy, you are given a cesarean-section abortion.”

There is no rule about “single parents not being allowed to have kids”. It’s a social rule not a government rule. A quick check online specifically states that children born out of wedlock can be registered and stories abound of single mothers whose complaints are about chinese prudishness. Social pressure makes these women abort more for the same reason that single mothers all over the world abort more. The child is more prone to not having a good lifestyle, the child is prone to being stigmatised as a bastard and often there is a societal pressure to do so lest the mother be treated as a woman of easy virtue. The added unwillingness of unmarried men to take responsibility for their child adds pressure to this decision.

In china the benefits given to a single child are not applied to children born out of wedlock due to old rules that didn’t consider this. With the rise of single mothers the chinese government has begun to provide the same level of support to these children albeit at the social cost of disdain. People still maintain old prejudice and those old prejudices are what drives the discrimination against these women and children coupled with a society where boys are more valued and treated as Little Emperors. There are few little empresses, but they are more and more common in a society where most people have one or two children.


Awww!!!

The number of forced abortion has gone down each and every single year particularly as China has realised that the policy it pursued is untenable in two ways. The first being that it has encouraged a massive ageing population, while the sec
ond being that it has caused a hugely skewed gender ration resulting in a lot more boys than girls particularly with the issues brought about by sex selective abortion. But while this is a rather appalling use of abortion, it isn’t as bad as the alternative which was China’s phenomenal rate of female infanticide, which I am familiar with since I currently live in another country where female infanticide was acceptable and indeed normal despite massive programs by the government.

This example is a repeated one used by Stephen as seen here in an earlier article.

For me, such tragedies are not just morally repugnant; they make zero economic sense. After all, as our numbers have grown, incomes have soared. In 1800, when there were only 1 billion of us, per-capita income worldwide was a mere $100. Today, as we pass the 7 billion mark, per-capita income has soared to $9,000.

Stephen fails to understand economics as a whole. To him all items are the same value all over the world with everything translating into the same currency value. It’s a very childish look at the economy of the world considering the basis of economic trade is that different resources have different values in different countries and people inherently value things differently.

He also fails to understand the value of currency has changed over time and that $100 in the 1800s probably would not have the same value as $9000 today. And as many american readers can point out that the $9000 figure is incredibly tiny for most first world nations and indeed would be considered a medium to low wage in many third world nations.

And this is without the obvious logical disconnect in assuming that everyone earns the same amount of money. We in the west take the lion’s share of that money both as normal income (Minimum wage at 40 hours a week is above $9000 a year) and indeed as wages in our middle class and upper middle class (who do work for a living) not to mention our entrepreneurial class. All this is without mentioning our super rich whose earnings are phenomenal or indeed a certain virgin with a big hat who happens to have a lot of bling.. 

All in all he paints a very rosy picture of the world, failing to realise that there are people in Africa, India and China whose poverty is heart rending. The issue is not that of money, it is of producing sustainable growth and value that brings money in. Money doesn’t solve the problem if you simply give it to people. Money has to be earned, the value money has is in it’s earning. It sounds incredibly harsh but what you want to produce is sustainable and steady growth across the board. Simply giving people money ACTUALLY stymies that growth since it doesn’t encourage actual growth. Money can provide expertise, training and infrastructure but it is the people who pull themselves up. We can provide infrastructure and the training, but a lot of improvements need to be made INCLUDING the birth rate which needs to plummet like a rock if we are to produce sustainable growth. 

If we really were “breeding ourselves off the face of the planet,” as the other side likes to claim, mortality rates would be climbing and life spans would be shrinking. Instead, we see the opposite

Evolution and Rats!

The highest estimate for tigers in the wild is 5066 individuals. That is a species that is “disappearing from the face of the earth”. There are 7 billion human beings. Humans are not endangered, not by a long shot. We are as tough and as survivable as the cockroach or the rat, but so intelligent that we have produced a method of development as a species that ignores evolutionary pressure. By our use of tool making we have subverted the natural pressures on us to become the dominant force we are today and that is amazing. 

Stephen doesn’t understand that in the west with low mortality rate and high lifespan we have increased individual productivity to a point where most of us have realised that fewer children are better and have willingly applied our own pressure to reduce our populations. We would rather have one or two children and make sure they get the very best in life rather than have more children than we can feed. And population control basically boils down to this very simple point. When you have more children than you can feed, then you become a liability. The rest of the productive members of society have to weigh in for you. This is available in the west but not in Africa where there isn’t the resource or the drive for the middle and upper classes to bail out the poor and definitely not in India where nearly 600 million people exist at or below the poverty line. Sustainable growth isn’t madness, it’s common sense. 

Yet crop yields per hectare have more than kept pace with population growth. Enough grain is produced for every person on earth to consume 3,500 calories daily. There is no need for anyone to starve in the midst of this plenty.  

Economies continue to expand, productivity is up, and pollution is declining. Life spans are lengthening,
poverty is down, and political freedom is growing. The human race has never been so well off.

Marasmus Starvation. The potbellied appearance is due to
oedema rather than fat. There is no protein to maintain
osmotic pressure to reabsorb water. 

Crop yields in the west do not translate to crop yields in Africa. For starters we have technology that not only costs a lot but we also use subsidies to encourage this kind of production to the ACTUAL detriment of third world farmers. This subsidised bounty ensures we have cheap food produced locally but also food for export. This drops the international price of food often beyond what farmers in the third world who often don’t have the seed quality, the infrastructure and the technology to produce a similar yield. Actually taking food from the west and giving it to Africa is a short term measure. It doesn’t solve the problem of sustainability. And this logic assumes that you can live solely on grain. One of the biggest problems in Africa is Marasmus and Kwashiorkar which are protein deficiency starvations. Plenty of calories, just no protein in their diets. The issue of supply of food is a complex one. And indeed this involves freighting tonnes of food over months to Africa when we should be encouraging local growth. The issue of this “bounty” is so bad that it is the direct cause of many suicides across asia and china as local farmers simply cannot afford to farm their ancestoral lands.

The part about economies is particularly stupid considering we are in a recession. And it’s not like it’s a small piece of news what with all the misery we are being put through. Pollution is declining because we have moved all the polluting industries to third world nations while we enjoy clean fresh air. Stephen is well off, humanity is not.

So, they continue to raise funds by frightening people with the specter of overpopulation. They continue to claim that too many babies are being born to poor people in developing
countries. This is tantamount to saying that only the wealthy should be allowed to have children — and is a new form of global racism.

No. We are saying that you should have as many children as you want and should be responsible for maintaining them at a good standard. The basic rights of a child state that a child should be brought up in a world where they can get education. Where they do not fear for their lives and can achieve anything they want. Where they are provided for. We can soften the blow in first world nations because the vast majority of us are productive to the point we can afford to have a dole.

This isn’t racist, this is just common sense. Telling people that they would have more money if they had fewer kids and provided them with a good standard of care is logic. Dropping the populations of India and China will have positive effects on their economy and provide a stable society for the children being born in the future not to mention sustainable growth.

The Catholic church doesn’t feed these extra mouths, it is us. We have to take food there and feed people who technically would die without us to the point that many africans rely on us to survive (all the while the Catholic church treats this as a blessing from a mythical entity rather than the sweat of humanity). The church isn’t helping by encouraging these people to have more children making us provide more food and further curtails any effort to be self sufficient.

What he doesn’t realise is that the industrialisation of most countries is often held back by such population booms where resources are wasted trying to feed people who aren’t self sufficient. Family Planning is vital in ensuring the offspring of these children grow up in a world where they aren’t subject to the same pressures as their parents and indeed to produce a society where resources are plentiful and where environmental damage is low. In India where I live there are so many people that nearly every source of water is either being used up faster than it can be resupplied or worse polluted by sheer population density. The environmental effect of 1 billion people is not to be sniffed at. Had India’s population remained at the 400 million individuals it had during the partition it would have been able to feed every single person in it and be easily capable of making the crossover from developing nation to a developed one. Instead the birth rate has ensured that a lot of issues are that much harder to solve because so many people are involved.

We should stop funding population control programs, and instead turn our attention to real problems, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and infectious diseases. As mortality rates fall, so will birth rates.

Here he shoots himself in the foot, in typical Catholic fashion he forgets two important things. Condoms stop the spread of HIV and therefore it reduces the amount of AIDS. Despite HIV/AIDS still being rife in the Men who have Sex with Men community, it’s not as bad in the 80s and 90s when the disease spread as few of these men used condoms. Now with the rise of condom usage amongst gay men the rate of HIV has fallen. While MSM still form the bulk of new cases well above their proportional demography, their number is falling rapidly all the time due to the adoption of condoms and the increasing adoption of them. And this is ignoring the stellar work done by vaccination drives and anti-malarial measures that are slowly being implemented.

And Stephen forgets the most important way our birth rate fell. Our birth rate fell due to the cheap and easy access to condoms, the education that goes with condoms and the empowerment and continuing empowerment of women and men to insist that a condom be used for non-procreational sex. In short our birth rates dropped by birth control.

In short people are our greatest resource. But only if given the space and resources, to be slowly nurtured to become productive members of society. Without education, infrastructure and indeed independence people cease to be a resource and become a burden that needs baby sitting. Yes, I understand that it sounds like white man’s burden at this point but hear me out. If we could provide some slum dwellers with the means and the monetary support to break out of the slum and be self sufficient, is it not better than simply giving him rice? Have we not turned someone who wastes his life into a positive force, both for himself to escape poverty and increase self sufficiency to provide a role model for other people in the slum he left to do the same.

That is real charity. Even the most powerful of western ch
arities such as the Red Cross or Medicin Sans Frontier understand this. They don’t send doctors and nurses JUST to work there and make life better for the locals. They also send them to teach locals the skills needed so that the Red Cross and MSF don’t HAVE to send doctors there. They help them with education, infrastructure and sustainability. The most important things you need as a charity. In short the most important point of charity is to ensure that people don’t need charity. The point of us encouraging family planning is so that people in poor countries don’t need hand outs to keep their families from starving. 

My Imaginary friend can kick your imaginary friend’s arse!

Stay classy christianity

This is just stupid, it’s utilising the position of power and of trust to flog superstitious nonsense. It’s rice conversion, utilising your power as a doctor and the trust you have from that relationship and qualification to flog belief.

Christianity is no superior to say… Scientology in providing succor to patients. Do you know why they work?

Because they have people who pretend to care and listen to your problems. It’s why a lot of scientologists exist, because when they were weak they provided someone with a listening ear.

It doesn’t solve your problems, only you can with the help of people. It is mankind who can help, not gods.

The person with a listening ear, the man who stops to help you, the woman who spends a little time talking to you… these are all people who do these things not out of compulsion but because we are capable of being good. These are human efforts, with human results.

Doctors often have this, the feeling of compassion and human kindred that comes from mortality and fear and the alleviation of suffering. It produces incredible trust. To use that to flog Christianity is deplorable any more so than using that trust to flog snake oil or to try and take advantage of the patient’s feelings to sleep with her (or him).

It may not be a striking offence but he certainly needs an official warning.