Neo-Atheism is filled with crazy people

I recently read Bryan Appleyard’s critique of the new atheist backlash against the more moderate atheists who wish to not be seen as a rabidly anti-theistic.

I don’t know… I am torn between both camps, it’s a pretty ridiculous issue being made by both sides. Atheists are not immune to stupidity, I have mentioned that I know anti-vaccine atheists and many animal liberation fanatics are atheists too. Doesn’t make their stupidity free from criticism, nor should it ever be.

But at this point? I don’t think either of these two extremes is right. Not if actual death threats were made.

On the one hand we have a group of passionate individuals who don’t want to appease religion. Which is all fine and dandy and great! New Atheism is something I identify closely with, but I also am a lot more moderate. My faith was not personally ruined and I was lucky enough to be educated in more than one faith (I am aware of Islamic, Hindu and Christian philosophy and to some extent about Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism alongside the Animist faith of my ancestors). Lucky because faith and religion has so little a hold of me because I am aware of all the differences.

I don’t feel the urge to go rub it in the average religious person’s face. I feel that one can be completely civil about atheism as such. By all means fight against religious intolerance but don’t become intolerant yourself. I see no issue in insulting the crazies while being as civil as possible.

However on the other side we see a more accommodating group. These atheists think we need some spirituality in our lives and that we should have a “temple of atheism” and maybe outreach programs to present a more likeable face. It’s not for me, but as long as it’s not spreading woo and nonsense I have no qualms about them.

And there we have it. The problem in our argument is that we as a group of people do not have a structure like faith. We have huge differences as atheists even in what we believe in. Despite all accusations, there is no arch-atheist. At our core we simply do not believe in any gods. With that in mind let’s deconstruct the arguments in a more sensible way.



De Botton is the most recent and, consequently, the most shocked victim. He has just produced a book, Religion for Atheists: a Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, mildly suggesting that atheists like himself have much to learn from religion and that, in fact, religion is too important to be left to believers. He has also proposed an atheists’ temple, a place where non-believers can partake of the consolations of silence and meditation.

We do have a lot to learn from religion! It’s just that me and De Botton have different ideas on what we can learn from it.

I have no issues with the different ways religion inspires people. It does do that, the question remains is, how can we do the same thing. My opinion?

Religion is basically a story, not one like Harry Potter but one with a rich heritage and history. There is not many things similar to it because of the age of the material. So let’s just take science as an example.

ArtArchitecture? Music? It’s all there. The thing is religion may have inspired these things, but so can many other things. One doesn’t have to believe in Zeus to like the Parthenon. Atheism doesn’t inspire these things because there isn’t anything in atheism to inspire. We don’t have biblical imagery. We don’t revere anyone in particular in the same way that people revere Shiva. We don’t have “atheism only buildings” so we don’t have an architectural style that we like beyond personal taste.

So let’s say a sense of society. Can we as atheists learn something about this? Well we can, and we should learn! Many religious groups have a strong sense of community, can we not match that? Can we improve on their model and make it even more inclusive as we have seen recent. We don’t have to have a temple, but we can make our meetings a bit more friendly to everyone involved.

It’s not stupid to realise that there are some things (like charity) that religion does better than us. It’s not stupid to try and improve ourselves to match or exceed them.

However we can improve these in a way that makes sense. Catholic Charity would be very good if they sent more doctors and less priests, more condoms and less communion wafers. Why not be that? Why should their sermons not be matched with our classes on science, our better women’s health, or teaching modern farm theory. Why not start secular missionary work? 

There have been threats of violence. De Botton has been told he will be beaten up and his guts taken out of him. One email simply said, “You have betrayed Atheism. Go over to the other side and die.”

This is probably true. If there is one thing that we know about the internet is that it’s easy to say things like this. This isn’t indicative of new atheists, this is the problem of the internet where people post without thinking. De Botton has merely portrayed a version of religion where he ignores all the bad and just looks at all the good. Rose tinted atheism if you will.

De Botton finds it bewildering, the unexpected appearance in the culture of a tyrannical sect, content to whip up a mob mentality. “To say something along the lines of ‘I’m an atheist; I think religions are not all bad’ has become a dramatically peculiar thing to say and if you do say it on the internet you will get savage messages calling you a fascist, an idiot or a fool. This is a very odd moment in our culture. Why has this happened?”

For the same reason that writing “I am an Atheist” will get “Repent or Die Messages” or “I work on vaccines” would get you “Child killing torturer and Mengele fan” on your wall.

First, a definition. By “neo-atheism”, I mean a tripartite belief system founded on the conviction that science provides the only road to truth and that all religions are deluded, irrational and destructive.

See this is where we begin to disagree. Science is a system where we test and retest hypothesis to form theories of how the universe functions based on observation, experiment and inference. Religion is merely the confused writings of people from ages ago about how they perceived the world and is very often wrong. They are deluded to a phenomenal level. The entire point is we can simply ignore that and look at how they function and learn a few lessons. Of things to avoid and of things to do.

Atheism is just one-third of this exotic ideological cocktail. Secularism, the political wing of the movement, is another third. Neo-atheists often assume that the two are the same thing; in fact, atheism is a metaphysical position and secularism is a view of how society should be organised. So a Chris
tian can easily be a secularist – indeed, even Christ was being one when he said, “Render unto Caesar” – and an atheist can be anti-secularist if he happens to believe that religious views should be taken into account. But, in some muddled way, the two ideas have been combined by the cultists.

Secularism is the idea that in the work place and in government there should not be any arguments based on the belief in an imaginary friend. That no religion should be given a leg up by the government. Atheism is an entirely physical metaphysical position and leads onto secularism as a political position. Caesar’s position was unchangeable by lay christians. Render unto Caesar merely states the opinion that christians should go along with Caesar. In a democracy the vote affects the people and “Render Unto Caesar” means “Tough No Abortion” or “Tough, you are now being taught stupid sex education” or “Tough, Earth now 6000 years ago, Jesus rode a Stegosaurus”. Religious views should not be taken into account because the arguments are not based on logic but on frankly insane beliefs.

Do you seriously think we should discuss banning women from public places because muslims, LDS and some Jews think so? Some religious views are fine and dandy, some are just backwards and nonsensical and should be treated as such. Not everyone’s opinion is good. I don’t see why I should have to listen to the Pope’s opinion on women’s healthcare and sex education since he clearly has no fucking clue what’s going on. Secularism is just the stance that we shouldn’t let religious officials have a say in the functioning of our government, nor should we do things solely because of our faith in a god.

To put it in a simple way, if you don’t believe women should have abortions, then you don’t have an abortion. Don’t force other women to follow your religion’s rules.

The third leg of neo-atheism is Darwinism, the AK-47 of neo-atheist shock troops. Alone among scientists, and perhaps because of the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins, Darwin has been embraced as the final conclusive proof not only that God does not exist but also that religion as a whole is a uniquely dangerous threat to scientific rationality.

No. Darwinism is merely the insult used by religious people to describe modern evolution theory by comparing it to a belief system rather than a fact like gravity which is also explained by a theory (like gravity). It’s used to denigrate an actual science in the USA (the term has no negative connotations in the UK) by making it seem like evolution is without facts, evidence and logic and is more akin to a religious belief.

It’s not an AK-47, it’s more like a battleground where Christian, Jewish and now Muslim faithful have suddenly realised that they aren’t the divine spark of magic within a clay shell like their book says but the product of evolution and they are “just” a very intelligent ape. It’s not a bad thing, but when we say ape, these individuals assume that this is carte blanche to behave like a chimpanzee.

Religion is a uniquely dangerous threat since despite evolution being fact, it is still under threat by religious fanatics who try and shovel their Jesus into science at the cost of evolutionary theory or co-opting it to give credence to their arguments. 45% of the USA do not believe in Evolution which is like saying that 45% of a nation believe that gravity is caused by the gravity fairy.

“There is this strange supposition,” says the American philosopher Jerry Fodor, “that if you’re a Darwinian you have to be an atheist. In my case, I’m an anti-Darwinian and I’m an atheist. But people are so incoherent on these issues that it’s hard for me to figure out what is driving them.”

Well it’s a good think Jerry Fodor is a philosopher! Because it certainly is the only field where you can happily say that you don’t believe in evolution and not be considered a moron.

The neo-atheist cause has been gathering strength for roughly two decades and recently exploded into very public view. Sayeeda Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, was in the headlines for making a speech at the Vatican warning of the dangers of secular fundamentalism, which aims to prevent religions from having a public voice or role. Warsi, a Muslim, subdivides propagators of this anti-religious impulse into two categories. First, there are the well-meaning liberal elite, who want to suppress religion in order not to cause offence to anybody. Second, there is the “perverse kind of secular” believer, who wants to “wipe religion from the public sphere” on principle.

Let’s see, because all religions have to live under a single set of rules and we cannot have Sharia law for Muslims, Catholic law for Catholics and so on. We live under one law and the law that works the best is secular law. The gripe of these people is that they are being made more and more unnecessary in a modern world and they can no longer get handouts to their faith based on who they know.

And yes, it shouldn’t be in the public sphere. Because nearly every religion is either equal to a secular government where decisions are made sensibly, or worse. I don’t think any Abrahamic faith has anything to give modern society that cannot be gained from a non religious source.

As Warsi was on her way to catch her flight to Rome she heard Dawkins, the supreme prophet of neo-atheism, on Radio 4’s Today programme. He was attempting to celebrate a survey that proved, at least to his satisfaction, that supposedly Christian Britain was a fraud. People who said they were Christians did not go to church and knew little of the faith. Giles Fraser, a priest of the Church of England, then challenged Dawkins to give the full title of Darwin’s Origin of Species. Falling into confusion, he failed. Fraser’s point was that Dawkins was therefore, by his own criterion, not a Darwinian. Becoming even more confused, Dawkins exclaimed in his response: “Oh, God!”

We don’t follow Darwin anymore in biology. The idea of evolution that Darwin proposed and what we have are entirely different beasts. Darwin’s books are actually for all intents and purposes “Wrong”. Accusing someone of being a Darwinist is like accusing someone of being an Aristotlean. We don’t actually study Darwin’s work because it’s now part of literature.

“Immediately he was out of control, he said, ‘Oh, God!'” Warsi recalls, “so even the most self-confessed secular fundamentalist at this moment of need needed to turn to the Almighty. It kind of defeats his own argument that only people who go to church have a faith.”

“Oh God!” is a stock standard phrase derived from blasphemy in the same way that I say “Jesus Christ” when I swear. It doesn’t mean I am turning to Jesus who to me is about as fictional as Asterix the Gaul, it means I am swearing.

It’s a statement of exasperation. No one who says “Oh My God!” is invoking a god but is expressing disbelief with a stock phrase.

“He has taken a very strange position. He’s unusual, in that he came from an elite British Anglican family with all its privileges and then he had this extraordinary career, and now he stands at the head of what can really be called a cult . . . I think what happened was that he has been frightened by the militancy of religious people he has met on his travels and it has driven him to the other side. 

“It smacks of a sort of psychological collapse in him, a collapse in those resources of maturity that would keep someone on an even keel. There is what psychoanalysts would call a deep rigidity in him.”

Hardly. Dawkins has been subjected to criticism from within the new atheist movement. Like every celebrity, he has fans but he doesn’t speak for most atheists.

I ask Fraser what he thinks are the roots of this ideological rigidity among the neo-atheists. “It coincides with post-9/11,” he says. “The enemy is Islam for them. That was true about [Christopher] Hitchens in an obvious way and Dawkins said something like ‘it was the most evil religion in the world’. 

“With Hitchens, it was bound up with liberal interventionism. It is also clearly an Americanisation. It has come over from their culture wars . . . People are pissed off with Dawkins because there is a feeling that we don’t do that over here.”

Actually, most New Atheists live in the USA. There is a massive USA centred movement about them (and indeed this is seen by the demographic) and they are mainly anti-christian. Those who are in the UK however are mainly anti-islamic in their mindset since in the USA the big threat to secular values is Christianity while in the UK the rise of islamic fundementalism represents a threat to secular values particularly in the fact that there are only two opinions in the UK which range from “Islam isn’t so bad” to “Muslims should be put on a plane to wherever it is they came from!”. There is no middle ground between Sharia Court and BNP. It’s frankly irritating that the people who shout “Yeah!” over your shoulder when you criticise Islam are people who want to throw me out with the Muslims!

Islam has MASSIVE problems. It’s a violently reactionary religion. It’s a religion with a terrible history of the treatment of women. It’s a religion which is incredibly anti-education. It’s a religion that doesn’t encourage scientific thought and discourse. It cannot handle criticism rationally. In short? It’s a massive elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

When we do talk about it we have charges of islamophobia or racism levelled at us, leaving atheists incredibly puzzled as to why in the UK we have things like Sharia Courts and tolerate the thuggish behaviour of some islamic groups.

For me, the events of 9/11 were certainly a catalyst, the new ingredient that turned the already bubbling mix of anti-religious feeling into an explosive concoction. Coming from a scientific family, I had accepted the common-sense orthodoxy that religion and science were two separate but complementary and non-conflicting entities, or what the great evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould called “non-overlapping magisteria” (NOMA). I first became aware of my own complacency in this regard when I interviewed Stephen Hawking just before the publication of A Brief History of Time (1988). He had become – it was his then wife who told me this – vehemently anti-religious. And in my presence he was contemptuously anti-philosophical.

Hardly. September 11th just made Islamic Terrorism a bit more personal and less about distant people dying in third world nations. It was basically a taste of what people have to go through across the world to a group of people who didn’t have to experience that kind of fear. Atheists came out in force because it was a perfect demonstration of the ills of evil. But remember so did Christianity which nearly turned the war into a bloody crusade.

There had always been an anti-religious strain in science, a strain that had been present since Galileo and which, indeed, had grown stronger after Darwin. In the postwar period, both Francis Crick and James Watson conceded that one of their main motivations in unravelling the molecular structure of DNA was to undermine religion. It was strengthened even further in the popular imagination when Dawkins expounded the outlines of the neo-Darwinian synthesis in his fine book The Selfish Gene (1976). In the 1990s it became routine to hear scientists – notably in this country Peter Atkins and Lewis Wolpert – pouring scorn on the claims of philosophy and religion. They were, for entirely non-scientific reasons, in a triumph­ant mood. The sales of A Brief History of Time had sent publishing advances for popular science books soaring, and the more astounding the claims, the better the money.

Watson and Crick were atheists from a young age and the structure of DNA was a race between Oxford and Cambridge. There were three people who should be credited with the discovery of the structure of DNA. Rosalind Franklin was one of the discoverers of the structure. And yes, why shouldn’t we laugh at religion and indeed philosophy? It’s a group of people who don’t do experiments about the observed while discussing the unobservable while making claims about their conclusions that are not based on an ounce of empirical data.

While observing this, I became aware that the ground had shifted beneath my own cosy orthodoxy. Scientistic thinkers were no longer prepared to accept NOMA, the separate, complementary, non-conflicting realms. In the early 1990s I was engaged in a debate with Dawkins at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He said, to much applause, that the existence of God was a scientific issue. If, in effect, God could not live up to the standards of scientific proof, then He must be declared dead. There were no longer two magisteria, but just one, before which we must all bow.

Are we to simply declare the giant elephant in the room as taboo for discussion. Religion claims  to have an entity that is not only external to the universe but also fully capable of breaking the laws of physics through magic and we are to blindly accept this and carry on with our science and not even take a single measurement? Are we to simply ignore the man behind the curtain?

It was in the midst of this that Fodor and the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini published What Darwin Got Wrong, a highly sophisticated analysis of Darwinian thought which concluded that the theory of natural selection could not be stated coherently. All hell broke loose. Such was the abuse that Fodor vowed never to read a blog again. Myers the provocateur announced that he had no intention of reading the book but spent 3,000 words trashing it anyway, a remarkably frank statement of intellectual tyranny.

It was not highly sophisticated. It was a book written by a philosopher with a poor understanding about evolutionary biology, writing about a theory that was nearly 100 years old by that point and had grown based on newer proof.

The argument was a philosophical one and one that simply doesn’t hold true in nature. It wasn’t all hell breaking lose so much as people calling them out for their inherent mistakes when they
tried to play scientist. Basically? Real Scientists in the field simply tore their arguments to shreds because these two individuals failed to realise that science has progressed a lot since the days of Darwin.

Ultimately, the problem with militant neo-atheism is that it represents a profound category error. Explaining religion – or, indeed, the human experience – in scientific terms is futile. “It would be as bizarre as to launch a scientific investigation into the truth of Anna Karenina or love,” de Botton says. “It’s a symptom of the misplaced confidence of science . . . It’s a kind of category error. It’s a fatally wrong question and the more you ask it, the more you come up with bizarre and odd answers.”

No it wouldn’t. The truth about Anna Karenina would be fascinating. Are we to suggest that archeology and paleontology isn’t fascinating because they deal with the past? Love as a study into neurology would be intensely fascinating while not altering it’s meaning one bit. So what if it’s just chemistry? Knowing how it works doesn’t make it less special. The entire point of science is you can ask any question and get an answer through empirical thought. Simply stating that you shouldn’t answer some questions is a ludicrous idea.

The answer demonstrates the futility of the neo-atheist project. Religion is not going to go away. It is a natural and legitimate response to the human condition, to human consciousness and to human ignorance. One of the most striking things revealed by the progress of science has been the revelation of how little we know and how easily what we do know can be overthrown. Furthermore, as Hitchens in effect acknowledged and as the neo-atheists demonstrate by their ideological rigidity and savagery, absence of religion does not guarantee that the demonic side of our natures will be eliminated. People should have learned this from the catastrophic failed atheist project of communism, but too many didn’t.

However we can oppose it’s grasp on our children and indeed on our daily lives which are being influenced by people who lived 2000 years ago and had no idea about the world. Really? Do we honestly think that “Gay Marriage Is Anti Christian” is a logical and sane answer to the modern issue? No! You would have to be a madman to say that you refuse to accept two people’s marriage solely because you believe in the same things as people did 2000 years ago!

It is better to know that we know nothing than claim that we know everything. That’s the difference between science and religion. Science may be truly small but it will get bigger and bigger as we understand more of how the universe works. Religion assumes it knows everything which is why it stagnates and why it’s god is so small, petty and insignificant.

The ideological savagery exists in atheism, but should we point out the actual savagery of faith? The savage verbal assaults on the four gentlemen mentioned earlier are no different from ones we have all faced. This is a problem of humanity irrespective of faith. The problem with faith is that it can encourage a lot of people to assault a single concept. The problem with faith is that it can drive people to actual savagery.

Happily, the backlash against neo-atheism has begun, inspired by the cult’s own intolerance. In the Christmas issue of this magazine, Dawkins interviewed Hitchens. Halfway through, Dawkins asked: “Do you ever worry that if we win and, so to speak, destroy Christianity, that vacuum would be filled by Islam?” At dinner at the restaurant in Bayswater we all laughed at this, but our laughter was uneasy. The history of attempts to destroy religion is littered with the corpses of believers and unbelievers alike. There are many roads to truth, but cultish intolerance is not one of them.

So far this article has been one of strawman after strawman. If it was about learning from religion and genuine criticism about the atheist movement and how to improve ourselves then it would be fine. Instead it’s a ridiculous assault on evolution, mixed in with complaints that people called other people out for making the ridiculous assault on evolution finally culminating in the idea that religion will always exist because people are too stupid and if we get rid of one we would have to deal with a crazier one.

There are many roads to the truth but the truth is singular. The truth of religion and of science are entirely different and science is based on proof and evidence while religion is not. Science does not accept anything as true until proven, while religion accepts things as true before finding proof. 

Cults and You

I spent most of the weekend reading the very lovely Suzanne Schumacher’s blog about leaving a cult. The cult is quite famous as the Follower’s of Christ. They were involved in a bunch of people refusing medical care for their children and praying instead.

I advocate reading Does Air Exist, but urge readers to be respectful. Her beliefs are a product of a cult and she is not an atheist. It’s hard to be polite regarding this sort of thing considering the level of information control the average cult has.

It’s a good read to see what life was like in a cult and she has said that she will be having a faith healer on it as a guest blogger. It’s interesting to see what the medical luddite movement really believes in and it’s interesting to see what arguments they use as a learning experience.

Age of Kali: Using Religion as an Excuse

Religion can be used to excuse a lot of things. Religious war, terror, rape and even assault and battery.

Indian newspapers range from the delightfully staunch supporters of journalistic integrity to the vaguely sycophantic. Often one has to read between the lines to find out if a person is condemning an action or not.

The fact remains is that different cultures have different boundaries on personal space and what is acceptable or not. However the fact also remains that in a civilised country mob rule is not encouraged. I see no action being taken about the assault of two people who for all intents and purposes probably had no idea about Indian Cultural and Social Rules. Hell even I didn’t the first time I came here and I am indian by ethnicity. I used to eat with my left hand back home because I found it more comfortable, in India I have to eat with my right. I am quite used to women treating you like you are normal in the UK, in India they treat you (IMHO) like you are a rapist with a contagious disease. The first few times it actually hurt my feelings but then I realised that it’s just the culture. I cannot change it and I am sure when they come to the UK they too think that british women are promiscuous simply because they treat men as equals. Cultural differences exist and sometimes they are insulting to other people. I genuinely worry about the instance in this case because the reporter’s relatively coy language belies the seriousness of the assault. The paper clearly shows two heavily bloodied men with head injuries and treated it as if the citizens of Tuticorin involved with this attack were upstanding citizens rather than brutal thugs.

It is however shocking that the police didn’t consider assault by a mob of people as an acceptable reason to issue a warrant for the crime of assault and grievous harm (Or injury as it is called in India – I have had to study Forensic Medicine in India as part of my course and it deals with junk like this).

What shocks me even more is that these men are being charged for a crime… Section 295A is a law that states that

Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.— Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.”

Wait a second? Doesn’t that mean that any atheist can technically be charged for the crime of merely existing since a lot of faith treats us as an outrage? That I can technically be charged for speaking out against religion as I am critical of it’s actual flaws? I am deliberately criticising religion and I am sure this outrages many people. And many people do get insulted by what I write. It’s quite an insulting post to take when you criticise the many mores, follies and failures of any faith.

The scary bit is the use of the word attempt. This entire law has so much weasel words in it that it can apply to anyone. The mere phrase of “Goddamnit” if offensive to someone could theoretically apply the law to me. In fact I am pretty sure any damn person who has complained about a religious activity can be jailed simply because someone got insulted.

This law is the death of free speech and rational discourse. It is a law aimed at the heart of dissent and can be applied to anyone who doesn’t believe in a god at whim. It is a law that can be used to protect sadhus, priests and other charlatans from the derision of rationality and it is a law that can definitely be invoked to crush the freedom of speech. 

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. 

A Foundation built on lies is no foundation at all

Ah! The simpler life of barn dances, buggy rides
and kalashnikov

Erin Friar, thinks that religion makes a strong foundation for children.

I believe it makes one of the weakest of foundations, because it is a foundation built on the concept of culturally acceptable superstition. To put it into perspective, I had a couple of americans (online ones) get a bit angry when I pointed out that the Taliban’s ethos are no different from the Amish. Both believe in a simpler life, it’s just that the Amish don’t believe in modern guns and forcing other people to do their bidding while the Taliban do. They are both luddite societies, it’s just that we “like” the amish despite their insane sexism (the finest of the 17th century). Mainly because in the USA the amish are seen as harmless and quaint while the taliban are seen as backwards.

I don’t have a belief in any gods.  Hinduism? Christianity? Islam? Scientology? Hippy Tree malarkey? None of it. I do not believe in any higher power as there is no evidence for these viewpoints and vehemently oppose religious indoctrination of anyone because it clouds the reality of the situation and allows people to be controlled easily resulting in some horrific abuses of human dignity throughout civilisation. From the deaths of those who opposed the believers of the Old Testament Gods to those who were sacrificed on the pyramids of central America to the million or so dead from the Partition of the British Raj. From the holocaust to the Japanese war crimes, from the crusades to the ethnic cleansing of Rwanda and the Balkans, from the encouragement of ignorance and virtual slavery of the mind to the molestation of children and bigotry, through it all religion has controlled people. And it’s why I am stating that his stance is wrong. 
I don’t believe in a god, there isn’t any proof and I find that any proof provided is laughably naive. To me standing up and stating that Religion Provides a Strong Foundation For Children is like standing up and saying that Homeopathy is a strong foundation for Science or Creationism is a strong foundation for Evolution. And it shows here. Erin Friar’s article makes the implication that the USA was founded on Christian principles rather than humanist ones and that the secular founding fathers enshrined freedom of religion rather than “Christian principles” with good reason. Do you really think the vision of Christians is one that will lead to a strong and powerful USA? Or do you think it’s constructing a balanced society that doesn’t believe in magic? 
Religion can provide a structured environment, but so do a lot of other things. Have schools stopped doing that? I mean it’s not even 10 years since I left high school and I vaguely remember having structure in my life. My parents also ensured that I had a structured life too. Maybe I am just weird in thinking that child care is the parent’s job rather than some guy in a robe with questionable sexual habits. Spend some time with your kids, plan things out with them. Follow the plan. Your kids will be more structured than going to a big building and following pointless ritual that doesn’t really achieve anything.  There is necessary structure and unnecessary structure. If 6 to 8 PM is homework time then 6 – 8 PM is useful. If 8 to 8:30 is sit crosslegged and chant Om at an idol time (replace with appropriate religious ritual) then that’s pointless piece of structure in your child’s life. You may as well make it run around with your pant’s on your head time. The child is just learning superstition. I used Hinduism as an example because Christians will read it and go “Heh! That’s nonsense.” but the same applies to saying hail marys or reading the bible because that’s part of your structure. 
Pictured! Someone whose
family believed in Mazda.

The person who wrote this doesn’t care about structure in so much as the Christian ritual, the child is only considered to have a structured day if the child is doing a Christian structure.

Next, Erin moves onto the aspect of humility. Stating that religion encourages humility in each of us by the use of Saviour Mythos (eg. A rescue from a divine source be it Jesus or Prometheus or Mazda or Krishna).
Humility is learnt from our parents, it is learnt from being taught scale and realising how utterly brilliantly small yet monsterously large we are. The magic words of Science are “I Don’t Know”. No religion has stood up and held it’s hand up admitting ignorance when they know a lot less. Do not confuse ignorance with humility, humility is understanding your limitations and not exceeding them. I am humble enough to not give you any advice regarding dating, driving a car, plumbing, stock market investment, wedding plans, particle physics and organic chemistry. I know I can’t give any proper advice due to my ignorance in the field. But religion? Religion’s assumption of divine purpose exceeds any humility. It is a fake kind of humility aimed squarely at outdoing each other in claiming to be more humble than the next. The most important words in human civilisation are “I don’t know but I wonder how it works” not “maybe if we close our eyes and chant some words it will work out for the best”
Erin then takes a whack at the usual idea of taboo, and how it can shape you into a sensible adult. 
The ideals of the church do shape people the minds of young people, they don’t know any better. Children are ultimately ignorant and stupid and gullible. These are survival traits, you are meant to impart knowledge to them which will make them stop being stupid, ignorant and gullible and to use their education and other people’s experiences to avoid the same faults. It ensures our kids learn how to be spear makers, farmers, legionnaires, alchemists, doctors and lawyers… It means we can teach them a skill set that doesn’t appear in the wild. However it also means you can teach them to fear a non existent being and give their money to a man with a special book because the book says so.

Pictured. The result of the Church’s
measured stance of taboo on sex.

The Church plain lied about drugs, alcohol and sex. The marijuana advertisements of yesteryear are naive and the church doesn’t spread the truth about it which results in more people of faith using and doing drugs simply because they don’t hear the actual truth. Alcohol is fine in moderation, and treating it as a product of the devil makes people blame the devil for their weakness and addiction rather than working on fighting it themselves. Sex is great, the church’s stance on sex actually causes greater amounts of underage sex because kids quickly figure out the church is lying and then spend all their time trying to get the “nice happy feeling” because obviously their adults are a bunch of tools who don’t know what they are talking about. This is exacerbated by a combination of the anti-contraception and pro-life stance of the churches and by the anti-homosexual stance of it. Not all drugs are equal and many religious people treat marijuana like shooting up heroin from a needle used by a HIV patient when the only thing they have in common is that both are illegal to use.

The problem is the use of Taboo and Satanic to describe problems. Why is sex such a taboo? Why are drugs bad? Why is excess alcohol bad? Not because God Says So. But because sex needs to be taken in context of the various kinds of relationships and with safety into mind and with your own choice and dignity rather than church’s implied teachings of female servility. Because some drugs such as crack, meth and heroin are nasty as hell while some drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy and LSD seem to be a lot more safer, labelling all drugs as equal to Heroin is stupid. Alcohol needs to be taken into context of normal usage and balance rather than telling kids not to do it until they leave the house when they just go nuts. The reason religious kids are so prone to going off the rails is because they are lied to about these things and a single try turns them into a life of excess. .
We finally come to the lines that state that faith in God helps fight suicide. People who commit suicide are depressed or have reached the bottom and have given up. Some change their minds due to a random occurrence and find god (I wanted to jump off a bridge but it was closed today so I saw it as a sign). Some don’t (I cut my wrists and didn’t die so I am going to hang myself to make sure.). And remember the amount of people particularly gay children and mothers who have had an abortion who are hounded and harassed by the faithful often driving them to depression and suicide by bullying.

A suicide is a person who needed help. I have read suicide notes, a few of my friends attempted it. My best friend was gay and wouldn’t come out because I was a bully myself and both of us took pleasure in the usual “gay jokes”. I found out when I found his suicide note, he hadn’t acted on it yet. I lost a distant cousin to it when he failed an exam and the stress got to him. What saved him was the luck that I came across the note and the response of me and my friends to confront him that we knew and that we didn’t care about his love of men that he was still our friend and that it was okay. That we would stop referring to things as gay or making jokes about others being gay. We basically grew up and realised how stupid we were. 

Most suicide attempts that fail are failed during the ideation stage. They are foiled not by something as inelegant as god but by humanity. The brotherhood of man and the kinship between people who know what a rough day means. The words you need to know to save a suicidal person’s life is not “Believe in My god” but “Are you alright? A penny for your thoughts?”. People like the Samaritans or just passer bys in the street often show the true potential of humanity, of our limitless potential for kindness, compassion and love by spending time with a complete stranger in kinship to save a life in a little way.  God doesn’t enter into this one bit and you don’t need to be superman to do this. You just need to show humanity. My one little piece of humanity stopped my friend from killing himself. I wouldn’t have had to show it if I was not a horrid little teenager in the first place but that’s the point of being a teenager. It gives you the time to be stupid and to learn. As the same friend said last year as I was the best man at his wedding. “This was the boy who bullied me at school, this is also the man who saved me from myself and gave me the chance to be here”.

To me that shows  the vital difference, the note made me grow up and be responsible and sensible and good. 

People kill themselves for a variety of reasons. There are the delusional, people with psychiatric issues who believe no harm will come to themselves despite the suicide or that it’s part of a greater plan. There are the religious suicides which range from the Jonestown massacre to the suicide bombers of Islam and the empire of Japan. There are the forced suicides that also come from the Islam (a lot of the suicide bombers are coerced with threats to their family). There are suicides for honour, for love, for politics… Then there are the depression suicides. These are the ones we are most familiar with, the people who kill themselves because they don’t want to live anymore. Depression is no joke and it must be faced with therapy, drugs and compassion rather than insulting their condition with the idea that somehow it’s due to insufficient faith in magic. You fight depression by teaching people to have faith in themselves, and to try and be the changes they want to be. You treat their mood and then try and encourage them to take care of themselves and find things that make them see life the way we do.
There is no right way to raise a child, each is different. If you want to raise a well rounded child then what you want is to teach them the truth about the world and you do this through science and education and by being involved in their lives rather than encouraging them to believe in a mythological creature.

Having children behave around christmas is cute but eventually they are told Santa isn’t real. Having adults behave the way they do around their myriad gods is just embarrassing. 

Help! Help! I am being oppressed.

Don’t worry Madam! I am a medical student. Let me call you a Waaahmbulance!

Prayer doesn’t belong in schools, it’s exclusive. It treats only a specific brand of Christianity as acceptable (I am pretty sure you would consider the song Jerusalem blasphemy and indeed sedition despite being a Church of England hymn) and worse it hurts any person who isn’t a christian. Public schools are also subject to the whole “Secular Rules of the USA” which make it highly illegal. The founding fathers of the USA themselves placed the rules to stop this kind of nonsense and to defend us from people such as the Lt. Gov. of Florida, Jennifer Carroll.


“Today unfortunately many in the media would like nothing better than to ridicule Christians,” Carroll said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition rally. “They promote The Da Vinci code, they place doubt in the public’s mind that Christ was not risen, and they condemn the passion of Christ.”

I am the Scourge of God. If you had not committed great sins,
God would not have sent a punishment like me upon You.

Actually, most religious people seem to be doing a fine enough job in giving us ammo to ridicule them. Be it islamic terror, christian hypocrisy or hindu silliniess. In this case the sheer level of pride american christian right wingers have in their ignorance is highly alarming and deserves to be mocked.

The Da Vinci code is fiction. It’s not real, just like Harry Potter and Lyra and Will and the Teletubbies. Even if Jesus’s family are still alive (which may be the case should Jesus have existed as a person rather than the son of god malarky since the bible mentions his large family.) they wouldn’t have any special worth or value. It is believed that a large number of people out there are related to a famous goat herd called Temujin.

Temujin is known by his more famous name of Ghenghis Khan, t descendants do not possess any of his powers. Should you trace your ancestry back to him you will not be possessed of the singular ability to commit atrocities and ride ponies all day. Nor will you be able to unite the tribes and be named Great Khan.

I am honestly surprised that people think the Da Vinci code is still relevant fiction wise or indeed has done any damage to Christianity more than the hypocrisy of it’s rabidly anti-gay priests who turn out to be gay themselves or the child abuse and anti female health stances. It’s those that have destroyed the church, not a silly story book.

“These are very sad times when we allow the minority to poison the minds of the majority,” Carroll said and then added: “This is exactly what dictators and socialist rulers did.”

Aided and abetted all the way by the churches and other purveyors of superstition.

And the tyranny of the majority is responsible for the Holocaust. Lest we forget racism was acceptable in the 1940s with the USA actively treating black people as not human. The only difference was that the USA never attempted to kill all the black people while Germany did. The UK ran apartheid regimes across the world. Italy is responsible for destroying large areas of Ethiopia with poison gas.

Remember the church actively praised Hitler for his stance on atheists and the hatred for Jews was the official stance of the church.


“Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity is in a fight and it is one of the greatest trials we have seen in modern times,” Carroll said.

She also said that “in today’s society we will trust the car salesman and the government more than we trust in the Lord.”

You can pray all day for a car but when push comes to shove the car salesman is what you need. And how many people prayed at Katrina only to die when the government didn’t respond fast enough?

Ultimately, human beings are responsible for ourselves as a species. Not magic beings who don’t exist. Praying will not save you, faith in our fellow men has and will. Not one thing we have today has come about by praying but has come about by the hard work of often nameless humans who will never be remembered.

Christianity is fighting for survival because it is a superstition and it dared to stand in the way of science rather than stay a private issue. It’s being fought because politicians like this exist who wish to plunge the USA and indeed as much of the world as possible into a theocratic dark age where we value ignorance over knowledge.

What they want is not a world where you can say “I don’t know” but one where you don’t ask any questions.

Haterade Two – Atheist Boogaloo

It says it all really. To any person of faith (American Christians especially) reading this, remember most of us are exactly the same as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or any other faith. It’s just that we chose to not believe in an entity we believe is non existent. It doesn’t change who we are, or our morality or anything beyond our belief. There are stupid atheists out there who say hurtful things, there are ones out there who are generally happy to be left alone until someone pokes them or does something silly.

Just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t make them evil.

Happy Birthday

Today is Ajmal Kasab’s birthday, for those who don’t know who he is, he is one of the terrorists of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He is the lone survivor of that infamous event and is currently in jail for his crimes awaiting the death sentence. I don’t believe in the death sentence, particularly in this case it will make him a martyr.

In order to celebrate it, terrorists (because there is no other word for their action) have attacked Mumbai again. This time killing 13 and wounding 81.

It’s a senseless waste of life. It’s bad enough for most people without having to worry about whether they will die next.

It’s a tale of woe. India and Pakistan’s peace talks broke down over this, as Pakistan was slowly forced to admit that Kasab was a Pakistani national. Mounting evidence for Pakistan’s involvement in the support of terrorism began to raise it’s ugly head (particularly considering Osama was found there). India was set to resume talks in a couple of weeks. This will not help that. Terrorism has hurt Pakistan’s position and the value of it’s word.

There is no way to fight this unless we work together. Muslims need to understand that their faith has a problem in that it encourages this sort of behaviour. Everyone needs to work to deal with it. Otherwise it just turns people against them which encourages further attacks and a spiralling atmosphere of distrust and divisiveness. If the occurs then the bad guys have won.

We are all made of Stars

Gideon’s response from the House of Gideon is up. It’s just bad as a whole. It’s not a difficult argument to counter.

“And, throughout the Bible, it says that death is the result of sin. Why would there be a final judgment if everyone were already in Heaven or the pit? There is a hellfire mentioned in execution of the unrepentant at the end of time, however, the word translated as “hell” in the Bible, simply means “grave”.”

Think for yourself, blind faith is ultimately blind. It shows a fear of death, rather than a fear of dying. I am not afraid to die, but I fear the process. Yes even you Gideon will die one day and leave the world a sadder place for those who knew you.


If there is no judgement only oblivion then I haven’t really lost anything by not believing. Gideon and me will both share the same oblivion, only I would have tried to atleast leave the world a better place for my children and for the children of others. Gideon merely just wants to leave the world so he can go to some eternal paradise which he probably gets for not using the very sin that defines as human.

“this is just another version of that same lie that Satan told Eve, when he told her she wouldn’t die if she disobeyed her creator. Just as the eternal torment bullshit is merely another way of denying the purpose God had in removing all possibility of the existence of an immortal sinner, by barring Adam from the Tree of Life, so the doctrine of successive lives simply accentuates the idea that man can perform his own expiation without an intercessor, given enough time.”

Actually it’s a doctrine to encourage people to be good rather than believe blindly in god. In hinduism there are parables of men teaching god a thing or two about humility and compassion. Of the dying villain Karna whose last action is to give a beggar his own gold teeth. Of the sage who risks pollution by associating with the unclean. Karma is there to encourage you to be the best you can be rather than blindly follow rote ritual. And it’s best applied in the buddhist and jain sense as they aren’t are more philosophy  than faith that Karma and Dharma are the idea that if you are good and do good things then good things will generally happen to you.


And a doctrine of faith is faulty. As I said, plenty of serial killers exist whose belief in god would mean they go to heaven while their victims would not. This isn’t a good god. This is an evil god. One who must fall and the problem with the declaration of omnipotence is that your god isn’t as powerful as humans. In fact most of his miracles seem childish in comparison to science or indeed nature itself.

One can also see this heinous belief as the underlying foundation for the specious belief of evolution being the case for man’s origin. Given enough time, man can do anything… WITHOUT God, of course

It’s not. I don’t believe in Karma. I am an atheist you know. I don’t believe in any religion. In the same way that Gideon does not believe in Zeus. And evolution is the cause. It’s why the DNA code is nearly universal in all life and it’s why we share the majority of our DNA, anatomy and body tissue types as apes to the point where we regard eating apes as akin to cannibalism with all the attendant health risks due to consumption of similar proteins. This isn’t even up for debate this is fact in much the same way that gravity is a fact.

In a nutshell, all humans cease to function, physically and metaphysically, at death. The invigorating, yet unconscious life force returns to God, Who bestowed it, and the body returns to it’s elemental components -dust.

The soul you say? Prove it? Your consciousness is a product of your brain. This has been proven empirically in that your consciousness (AKA your soul) is altered based on how your brain functions and can be altered with medicine, disease or injury.

The soul is actually a philosophical construction because people didn’t understand brain physiology. Many people actually thought of it as a radiator rather than as a computation organ. 


Even if it means oblivion, friends, I’ll welcome it, because it won’t be nothing. We’ll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves; we’ll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we’ll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world, which is our true home and always was. That’s what I think of life. 


There is no soul, no other life bar the one we have now. And it is upto us to make the best of it and do the best we can. There is countless beauty and there is no limit to our artifice. I would rather soar like an eagle than grovel on the ground scared of what I do not understand.

Only the followers of Abraham forget that the original sin can be construed as a gift. If the bible were true, then god merely kept humans in a state of grace much like how women in Saudi Arabia are kept in a state of grace. The Garden of Eden is nothing but a gilt cage. We were not banished, we broke out. The Jews realise that and revere knowledge. They treat the garden as a metaphor for growing up. Elegant solution to a problem since people like yourself treat the acquisition of knowledge as a failing in mankind and actively seek to reduce the amount of knowledge you acquire.

The very defining thing of humanity is our ability to accrue and utilise knowledge. That we can attain grace and wisdom through learning. That we live amazing lives. Your belief is nothing less than the cessation of that ability to strive for change and to instead live our lives no different from the cows we keep for food. 


We don’t hate you, we pity you because you chose to be blind rather than walk in the light of wisdom and understanding. I leave with another quote from Pullman.

“This is not a Kingdom but a Republic, in which we are all free and equal citizens, with — and this is the important thing — responsibilities. With the responsibility to make this place into a Republic of Heaven for everyone. Not to live in it in a state of perpetual self-indulgence, but to work hard to make this place as good as we possibly can.”

We no longer live in the Kingdom of God, we live in the Republic of Man.

I say! That’s simply not cricket!

Oh my!

Well obviously I cannot read this article. It’s behind a pay wall and frankly I get enough insults at my lack of faith without having to pay to read it. But Rabbi Shmuley Boteach obviously doesn’t like us very much.


All I can say is that the UK is moving on up in my estimation. Annoying crazy fundies? We must be doing something right! We don’t have parades of nonsensical people defining marriage solely as the christian format. We like our gays, and we are genuinely sorry as to how we treated such heroes such as Alan Turing. We are finally achieving something. Enlightenment.

See the UK’s history is mired in religious intolerance. We murdered everyone at the drop of a hat. Pagans, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus… The whole lot were persecuted in one way or another. And it shows, we simply don’t want to do this anymore. You don’t need religion to be good, you don’t need religion to be just or kind. These are human ideals. We in europe live in the shadow of WW2 and Hitler. While in the USA they bandy around such nonsense as “Hitler was an atheist”, we have people who lived under the rule of that man. To us religion isn’t the way forward. It’s a way to the past that we wish to avoid. That enlightenment post WW2 has come with the rejection of faith and the understanding of the equality of all mankind.

That Liberté, égalité et fraternité can only be achieved at the hands of humanity as whole. 


Not at the hands of religion. Does the good Rabbi honestly believe that we and his orthodox jews are equals or brothers? Not when he has declared the rest of us the cause of the world’s ills when all we do is believe in humanity rather than mythical deities. As for freedom? One can argue that religion merely makes you forget that you are in a cage. 


No what religion does do to you, is turn you into a dick. Rabbi Boteach, I submit that you sir, are a dick. A cock. You are a parasite on society, actively encouraging superstition to the masses of your flock, perpetrating millennia old superstitions and actively encouraging a dislike of a group of people solely because they refuse to kowtow to your version of a sky fairy.


And if you knew anything about the UK, is that we do have our own god. It’s temples hold thousands come rain or shine. It’s worshippers sing songs with all their heart. Even the youngest child to the oldest man follow it. It’s magic has fed the poor, it’s magic has given us it’s priests who are just as parasitic as you are. It’s magic has wowed billions and standing in it’s church and seeing it’s miracles is like a revelation. We have fought wars over it, small wars but we have learnt the error of such ways and reformed ourselves to be kinder and more peaceful. In front of it’s magic you feel dumb and slow as anyone can partake, but only few reach the very heights of it. Oh and it even has its messiahs. 


Note. I am a City Fan…



He’s the messiah, but just looks
like a very naughty boy.