Pascal’s Wager … again

P.S. @ Matt Dillahunty._ You are going to die sooner or later_That is a natural fact. What you assert is there is no God; the God of Bible because He cannot be proven_ Is a fact. You are “Gambling” that there is no God; the Christian God of the Bible_Is a fact. By your own admission the Christian God of the Bible does not exist, therefore you would reject that you possess a soul that is eternal, that will either go to heaven or hell._Is a fact.
FACT_you are going to die someday; are you willing to take that GAMBLE that you do-not have a soul that will live forever either in heaven or hell?
P.S. _ I really believe that Matt Dillahunty is Demon possessed, and anyone that would argue with a Demon will get no-where because it is a slippery slope because Demons are masters of deviation

We get e-mails like this all the time. Matt has answered more than his fair share of these, so I’ll take one for the team. This person singled out Matt, but he (she?) might as well have written it to any AE host, or any atheist for that matter. I’ll refrain from commenting about writing style as that’s just too easy. The e-mail above is unedited.

First, atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. Check the front page of the ACA’s web site. Mankind has invented tens of thousands of gods and there is no reason to believe that any of them are real. Christians are atheists, too, with respect to most gods, but they think their god is special. Is it? I can’t think of a reason. Is it because there are a lot of Christians? There are a lot of Buddhists too, does that make their religion true? Is it because there’s more evidence in support of Christianity? Nope. I don’t know of any solid evidence for the claims of Christianity. Is it because they believe passionately? Would anyone say there’s a Muslim afterlife with 72 virgins just because the 9/11 attackers believed so passionately enough to kill themselves for martyrdom? Of course not.

In nearly all forums where I interact with believers, I ask for good evidence for the claims the believers are making. I’m usually disappointed in what I get. Let me be clear on what I’m looking for. There are lots of bald assertions that believers give, usually claiming this or that about their god. If you don’t have evidence to back up those claims, then please forgive me if I just ignore them. “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” (Christopher Hitchens) Beyond bald assertions, I’ll also disregard falsehoods, deception, logical fallacies, and emotional manipulation. These seem to be the primary tools of apologists. If you have to lie to me, trick me, or manipulate me to believe something, what does that say about that thing you’d like me to believe? It says that even the theist can’t think of a good reason to believe in their god, so what’s left are bad reasons.

I’m pleasantly surprised that you admit that your god can’t be proven. Starting from there, the conversation should go like this:

  • Atheist: Do you have any good reason to believe in your god?
  • Theist: No.
  • Atheist: Thank you for your honesty. Please understand if I don’t believe.

End of story. But in their desire to market their religion, theists go on to give bad reasons.

Yes, we are all going to die. And we’ve heard “Pascal’s Wager” a million times. It’s a really bad argument with at least a dozen flaws. I’ll answer it, though in my own words. I personally have no fear of your god, or any god for that matter. As near as I can tell, the god of the Bible is fictional and I can think of no reason to fear fictional characters. But let’s pretend for a minute that gods are real. Is the goal to choose the one that offers the best afterlife, or perhaps save you from the worst hell? Isn’t that exactly like being a hedonistic toady, or perhaps sucking up to a monster so that you will be spared eternal torments. Maybe it’s both: you can even get to watch the torments of others while basking in eternal bliss. This seems rather sick to me, yet it seems to be what Christianity is promising.

Do you follow the most noble god? The god of the Bible blames Adam and Eve, indeed the entirety of humanity for his mistakes. Later, Yahweh orders Abraham to kill his own son. That story reads to me like a gang initiation ritual. In New Testament mythology, the same god kills his own son because there had to be a blood sacrifice due to a rule he either made up or given to him by some other more powerful god. Appeased, by his actions, he then allows the Jews to take the blame for his alleged sacrifice? Every story about the god of the Bible paints him as a monster. Even if he were real, I wouldn’t follow him.

I’ve made the decision to live my life as if there are no gods. I’ve looked at god claims, and I find them all to be without merit and most likely derived from human imagination. So how will I respond if, after my death I find out there’s some god that wants to torture me? I may not be happy, but I will have a lot of things (assuming “I” continue to exist) that will never be taken away. I’ll have the satisfaction of having lived my life in a sensible and kind manner. I will have the solace of knowing I’ve taken responsibility for my actions and that I will forever be more moral than the monster who is torturing me. In short, I will have my integrity. My integrity is not something I’m going to bargain away for vague promises from an invisible monster.

What will be your legacy when you die? From my perspective, perhaps the biggest claim you could make is that you tried your hardest to be a vector for a disease that has stifled progress, caused untold human misery, and murdered millions. From my perspective, you have hitched your wagon to a delusion. You’ve already pissed away your integrity. How sad.

I wonder, too, if you really believe your afterlife claims. If you’re going to go on to some perpetual orgasm, why hang around only to make the world a worse place? Please don’t let me stop you. I suspect you too have your doubts. If you don’t believe in Jesus why should I?

As for demons, atheists think demons are at least as silly (and unlikely) as gods. Be sure and check for monsters under your bed and sleep with your lights on. Boo! Maybe your invisible friend will protect you.

Now let me respond to the subtext of your letter. If you actually had good reason to believe in your god, you would have presented that. Since you didn’t present a good reason, it seems clear you have none. We both know prayer is a failure or you could have prayed for one ahead of time before writing. Next, if Christianity had any positive value, you could have pitched that. Again, it seems there is no positive benefit. You did offer threats (emotional manipulation). While Islam’s main tactic is murdering those who disagree with them, Christianity relies on lies and thuggery. Death threats are a common Christian tactic to get their way. Lies, like the “Christian Nation” propaganda only show how much a fraud the religion is. With threats of hell, there is usually caveat by the threat giving Christian that he has nothing to do with the threat; they’re just passing it along from on high. Yet I have yet to meet two Christians who can agree on the nature of their god, and as you admit, there is no good evidence to believe in such a good. People like you choose to believe in a clearly evil god. I can only imagine you do so because you identify with that aspect of his storied nature. Ultimately the threats are coming from Christians who believe themselves to be good. This is part and parcel of an evil delusion.

Years ago, Christians actually tortured non-believers, with the idea that coercing them to “believe” was a kind of mercy. Converting them here through torture was thought preferable to the “loving” justice of eternal torment. Fortunately, secular morality has made torturing heretics an anachronism. Christian torture and holy wars have just made more atheists. Regardless, the subtext of your note tells me that Christianity has no merit (you seem to admit that) and you still want me to join you. You want me to shut off my brain, give up my integrity, and become a wannabe thug that excuses the atrocity of the Bible and the murderous fruits of Christian belief. Yet the only think you’re offering is some idea you have in your head that I might get to look down from heaven in a blissful amoral stupor and enjoy watching the torments of my fellow human beings in hell. Wow. What a steaming pile of shit.

I want nothing to do with your religion.

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

Have they lost their minds?

Yesterday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments heard arguments on the legal challenges to same-sex marriage bans Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Some of the arguments were jaw-droppingly stupid. Article here.

According to a Texas state lawyer, the same-sex marriage ban is not meant to discriminate against same-sex couples but is it is instead designed to promote “responsible procreation.”

Wow. Let’s unpack that.

Apparently, the state is in the procreation business. Of all the places the government should intrude, the bedroom is perhaps the last. This is coming from the same Republican party that wants to get government out of nearly everything: gun licensing, regulation, taxes, etc. all in the name of “freedom.” When they paint themselves as champions of freedom, they lie. I know of very few Christians who claim to support “religious freedom” when it means allowing minority religions marry same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage bans are faith based initiatives and the majority religion is happy to trample on the rights of anyone who gets in the way.

The spin doctors must have thought up the phrase “responsible procreation.” They seem to be saying that turkey baster babies are “irresponsible procreation.” It doesn’t matter to them if the child produced is cared for and raised in a loving family. If it’s lesbians, it’s irresponsible. What about having a child in one of their “responsible” heterosexual marriages and then the couple putting the child up for adoption? Is that responsible? Is that what the state would like to promote? What about when a same-sex male couple adopts and raises that child same child? That’s bad, apparently. That family should remain unmarried and without family protections for the parents. The same Republican Party fueled by Christian crazy, has worked overtime to force women in the state who cannot afford a child to have one anyway. Family planning and sex education in the state have been sabotaged by the same bunch. Now that’s what “responsible procreation” must be!

If “responsible procreation” were my best argument for a case, I’d save face, pack it up, and just go home. Thankfully, members of the court challenged the insanity. With their questioning, they also poked holes in the idea that marriage is “for” procreation. That’s primarily a religious idea. Remember: religions try to control reproduction because there is no god who can make the next generation of gullible tithers necessary to keep them in business.

Even if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decides favorably on same-sex marriage, the question will eventually be taken up by the US Supreme Court. Maybe this time, they’ll consider bans under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s equal protection clause. If that isn’t a slam dunk on this issue, I’ll be shocked.

Texas Right to Life demonstrates more of the fraud of Christianity

In today’s Austin Statesman, PolitiFact Texas fact checks a claim made by Texas Right to Life concerning an informal poll they did on the University of Texas campus. (Note: the article should appear later on the PolitiFact Texas web site.) Texas Right to Life made a claim that University of Texas Students “signed a petition seeking the legal right to abort newborn babies up to five-years-old.” Yes, that’s right: “aborting” infants, otherwise known as infanticide.

Sadly, Politifact Texas had to rate the lurid claim as half true. In their poll, Texas Right to Life approached students to “sign a petition,” concerning women’s rights and not being terribly honest about the true contents of the poll. Many student signed thinking it was about empowering women. The “poll” apparently involved exactly 30 students, 12 of whom were tricked into signing it. Those that understood the true nature of the poll where aghast. When asked later, one student was shocked at what she had signed. “Had I fully understood the actual position of the organizer was advancing, there is absolutely no way I ever would have signed the petition.”

[Read more…]

Mona Charen on Same-Sex Marriage

Mona Charen is a syndicated right-wing columnist who appears in the Austin American-Statesman. I usually find her pieces loaded with soft-peddled right-wing vitriol and poorly thought out. She published a piece on same-sex marriage on October 13, 2014 titled “Olsen Evades Gay Marriage Questions” in the Washington Examiner. In the Austin American-Statesman, it was titled “Give Acceptance, Without Undermining Marriage.” There is so much wrong in this editorial that it makes me wonder whether she really believes what she’s writing.

First, let me fix some framing that Charen doesn’t address in her editorial. Almost all opposition to same-sex marriage and to treating gays and lesbians as human beings in the United States comes from Christianity. In the 70s, Christian leaders figured out that selling hatred of gays was a big money maker. It was precisely the sort of red meat issue that got the “base” riled up and kept the money flowing. It speaks volumes about the actual morals of Christians that they have created this sort of market. When seen in historical perspective, anti-gay prejudice just another faith-based initiative like the Crusades, Pogroms, Witch Burnings, torture of infidels, slavery apologetics, and murdering of Jews that one might expect from a bunch of people who blindly follow an invisible genocidal maniacal thug whose only communication is a functional Rorschach test for the morally challenged. Today, the homophobia industry is in decline, largely playing itself out in the minds of people who are no longer taken in by the lies and hysteria. The die-hard peddlers of this product are screaming like scared children. The are terrified of having their power and wealth slip away.

To begin her piece, Charen points out the hypocrisy of Ted Olson, a politician who has previously won elections pandering to Christian hatred but who has now read the handwriting on the wall that his message will have to change or he’ll risk losing re-election. We can be overly generous and say he is just representing the evolving views of his constituents. Or we can just chalk it up to politicians being politicians.

After showing her warranted disgust at Olson’s seeming change of principles, Charen asks, “… why not leave the matter [of same-sex marriage] to state legislatures and voters rather than taking the question out of their hands?” The answer is simple: that’s not the kind of country the United States is. The Constitution protects the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. Perhaps Charen missed the recent Supreme Court ruling on this very question. Maybe she is unaware of a variety of circuit court rulings striking down various marriage laws on the basis of equal protection. I recommend Charen go back to high school and get a civics refresher. A patriot would have a clue how the government works.

And Christians love majority rule, exactly when it allows them to advance their agenda. They claim to follow and have a “relationship” with a dead guy who allegedly said to “do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” but I have yet to meet a single believer who thinks that the marriage rights of Christians should be put up for popular vote by gays. Think about it. If the gays voted against marriage rights for Christians, it would be a delicious just desert for the Christian thugs. If instead they voted for it, it would show that gays own the moral high ground. Either way it’s a win. But that will never happen. Christian leaders wouldn’t allow following their own god-man’s words to get in the way of their political agendas.

Next in her editorial Charen champions the views in Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group. To his credit, Mr. Perkins’s views are unwavering, but far from exemplary. Let’s be clear here. Tony Perkins, Ted Olson, and even Mona Charen herself are all making their livelihoods trading on the rights of other Americans. All three are despicable low-lifes whose ideas are unworthy of consideration, though I fully support their right to express their wrong-headed views. It makes me wonder why Charen even chose Perkins as some sort of champion. It makes me wonder if, were she was writing in the 1500s, would she be in full support of Martin Luther on the question of whether Jews should be able to live, worship, or have businesses.

Throughout her editorial, Charen decries the use of “emotionally laden expressions such as ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ as if to say that those who resist same-sex marriage are opposed to those civilities.” What amazing irony coming from the defender of a movement that has championed the “sanctity of marriage,” that has insinuated at every turn that gays are out to “recruit” children, that AIDS is God’s wrath on gays, and that gays are out to destroy civilization. The same Christians seem to ignore the fact that, the Catholic Church is a de facto crime ring that molests children with impunity and even gets tax subsidies in the bargain. Does Charen realize how stupid she sounds?

For the record, I’m a married gay man who works hard and makes an honest living. And while I’ve never been a married straight man, I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about my marriage as others do about theirs. I have made a family that I care a lot about. Conservatives seem to feel it is their right to meddle in mine and others’ families. It isn’t their right at all. There isn’t a single person in their ranks qualified to do so. If conservative Christians want to persist in this sort of meddling, please forgive us if we start “doing unto others” and actively sabotage their marriages. We’d only be following their example.

And let’s face facts. Conservatives lie when they say they are for families, liberty, and religious freedom. What they really mean is that they are wanting to control others’ families, take away others’ liberties, and foisting their religion onto others. Religious freedom means that I can be free of the murderous fraud known as Christianity just as others are free to uncritically support it.

Back to the editorial, Charen goes on to assert that the rights of gays and lesbians are not worthy of support because they constitute only a small fraction of the population. What fraction of the population are Christian demagogues? What rights do they deserve? And do I get to take those away? What fraction of the population has sworn allegiance to the Pope (a leader of a foreign government / organized crime ring) while harming US citizens? What fraction of believers kill their children through faith healing, prayer, or though the anti-vaccination craze? Charen quotes CDC statistics on the population size of gays, throwing a bone to those in the base that still are convinced by Christian propaganda that homosexuality is a disease. But the groups I mentioned above have all done measurable harm while gay marriage does not harm anyone. Well, perhaps with the exception of those like Charen who peddle hate for a living. Gay normalcy takes food out of their mouths.

In a pathetic attempt to seem nice, Charen says that gays are worthy of “dignity” and “respect”, but not worthy of the right to build families, have legal protections, enter contracts, and have some measure of security in our later years. I guess to conservatives, they long for the day when they could suppress women, blacks and other minorities and not be called bigots. Perhaps if Charen does return to high school, she could also take in some history about the Jim Crow laws and how “separate but equal” worked out only to benefit the already privileged. I suspect Charen and her readers long for those days. I can’t see why I should be treated as a second class citizen when, quite frankly, I’m a better human being than those trying to oppress me.

Like many conservatives, Charen argues for something resembling traditional marriage, but she and they prefer to be vague about exactly what they mean. Traditionally, a man owned many wives who were his property. The wives had no rights as independent people. This is the concept of marriage in the Bible. I find it ironic that only Christians on the radical fringe think highly enough of their holy book to openly support such a crazy idea while the rest lack moral conviction. But this begs the question of why did the US already destroy traditional marriage by preventing Mormons from taking multiple wives just like Abraham, Solomon, and David did in the Bible? Why don’t Christian conservatives champion the legal framework of women as property, passed from father to husband, with no independent lives? Why do Christians tolerate divorce, especially as instigated by an unhappy wife? Which specific version of marriage do conservative Christians want? If we ever get an answer, let’s check the calendar to see how long this “tradition” has been in force. The perpetual vagueness on what “traditional marriage” means is nothing more than intellectually dishonest attempt at emotional manipulation–precisely what Charen criticized Olson for doing.

Christians and conservatives during the 60s made arguments against mixed race marriages that echo with same-sex marriage arguments today. Back then, the arguments were about God purposefully separating races and fake concern about how the mixed-race children would be treated by bigots as they entered school and public life. Ironically, the bigots were precisely the people making the false and self-serving arguments. Over and over again, history repeats with Christians marching under the banner of God in the wrong direction.

Finally, we get to the meat of Charen’s editorial. She argues that “… same-sex marriage [will send] the message to heterosexuals that mothers and fathers don’t really matter.” If I’m to understand correctly, the idea is that heterosexual couples are not bright enough to raise children without proper cultural meddling, and so the rights of others need to be trashed to set the right ambiance for baby making. I think life would go on splendidly without the Christian conservatives. Christians are obsessed about controlling reproduction for the simple reason that there is no god who can make babies who will grow up to become the next generation of gullible tithers and who will support the parasite class more commonly known as priests and ministers. Penises and uteruses must be co-opted for this lofty goal. If only the Christian god could “get it up,” there’d be no need to control anyone’s reproduction. The parasites have every interest in keeping their exalted place. It is true gay marriages aren’t about government control of reproductive parts in service to the majority religion. And yes, that poses an existential threat to those living of the fat of others. May I suggest that priests stop having sex with teenage boys, take wives, and make babies of their own. They could get then get honest jobs and raise those kids with their own money. Nobody is stopping them from doing this. Perhaps then they would be busy enough that they wouldn’t feel the need to meddle in the affairs of others.

Conservatives like Charen falsely conflate the concepts marriage and reproduction. I have yet to hear a single proposal from conservatives regulating child birth, which is what they really care about, yet they want to step in to regulate marriage as some sort of proxy. Perhaps Charen could help us pick a government agency she thinks should crawl up into her uterus and play traffic cop. With artificial hormones, women can carry babies well into their 60s and sperm is cheap and plentiful. Even conservatives know this is level of control a non-starter. One need only look at the horrors of the Ceaușescu regime’s Decree 770 birth control program that are still playing out today.

If we are really concerned about the institution of marriage, shouldn’t we be concerned about the fact that the divorce rate of conservative Christians is higher than, say atheists? In a jaw dropping leap, Charen blames the idea of same-sex marriage for high divorce rates. She claims that marriages based “only on love” are to blame. At the same time, Christians are using marriages as the only socially acceptable means young people can have sex (and only for the purpose of making babies). Charen even nods to this Christian entrapment tactic in her editorial. Have the conservatives stopped to consider the harm done to a child growing up in a home where the parents are miserable and the child know that they are the cause of the suffering? Next, if we are really concerned about the sanctity of marriage, shouldn’t we prevent a fraudulent religion from trying to co-opt the institution of marriage to perpetuate the fraud? Also, given that, belief in Christianity is correlated with a variety of social ills, shouldn’t we be actively preventing Christian marriages? Sadly, the arguments of conservative Christians more aptly apply to the ills of their marriages than to same-sex ones.

Yes, stable families are good places to raise children. And guess what? About one tenth of gay people are parents. When conservatives prevent same-sex marriage they actually penalize the children by inhibiting those families. Most people realize that such punitive policies demonstrate Christians to be uncaring thugs. Perhaps everyone but Charen is aware of the wealth of scientific evidence in support of same-sex child rearing (one article here). I think the real fear of conservatives is that gays will someday soon surpass conservative Christians at child and marriage longevity. It’s a relatively low bar.

Charen closes her editorial with the claim that gays only want social acceptance, not really marriage. I personally have no desire for “social acceptance” by bigots. They have chosen me as their enemy and I welcome their hatred and bigotry. Celebrate it and imbue your institutions with it. It is your God-given right to do so. God is on your side. Go ahead and return to witch burning and Jew murdering. Be honest for once about the history of your religion and embrace the harm you have caused. Then I want to separate that evil from civil society like a callus around a wart. Let Christian leaders be marginalized like the KKK and the Westboro Baptists. I want conservative pundits and religious leaders to be held accountable for lying and fomenting hate in the public arena. I want all institutions that have sold hatred of gays to forever lose any tax exempt status as they have proven themselves unworthy of public support. I want the money that such groups have made selling the hatred of gays to be paid back tenfold–not to gays, but for the benefit of society. Then, I want the United States to honor its separation of church and state and forever separate the legal rights and privileges of marriage from whatever irrelevant rites may be performed in churches. Churches don’t own marriages and they should have their noses rubbed in that fact. Oh yeah, I also want the same rights and responsibilities that everyone else has. (How selfish of me, I know.)

Charen still seems to think that the marriage rights of gays is still up to debate and she and her pals can make a decision not to “undermine marriage.” I’m already married and the “decisions” of conservatives is nothing more than self-serving noise.