The Quran is bunk, too

I know you kids like the youtube and hate that tl;dr text stuff, so if you couldn’t find the patience to read my post on Islamic embryology, you can now watch the screen instead. The Rationalizer goes through the ‘science’ in the Quran and shows that it’s largely plagiarized from Galen, and that it also steals Galen’s mistakes, so it’s a beautiful example of a plagiarized error of the type biologists use to demonstrate a lineage.

All the straining Muslim apologists use to fit the science to the few lines of poetry in the Quran (I’m looking at you, Hamzas Tzortzis) are futile and really only demonstrate that the founders of Islam borrowed their message, not from a divine source, but from Greco-Roman medicine.

But perhaps Allah is just another name for Galen.

(Also on Sb)

Acupuncture is bunk

Here’s a terrific webcomic exposing the silliness of acupuncture. People are always citing these awful studies at me that they claim support the efficacy of acupuncture, and like the comic says what I see when I read them is that the advocates have gone “anomaly hunting after any statistically relevant result, usually by cherry-picking data or creative interpretation. You’ll never find a conclusive effect with acupuncture studies”.

I’d really like to hook the traditional Chinese medicine freaks with the cannabinoid bozos who’ve lately been doing the same thing: citing weak results to prop up extravagant claims of near miraculous efficacy. A kookfight to the death!

(Also on Sb).

Why I am an atheist – Gülşah Ökmen

My story dates back to 4 years ago during when I was in 6th grade.

We started having our science course in our newly built lab. Our science teacher, who was in her 30s, was a firm believer. Outside the school she was wearing headscarf1. During a lecture, I realized a framed poster on the floor. I went to the teacher’s desk at the end of the class and said “Something has fallen off here ma’am”. With a sharp voice she replied back “Oh that, they found it among the old lab stuff, I didn’t want to confuse you by hanging stuff like that on the wall.” When I took the poster and started to examine it, she warned me to put it in the trash and walked out of the classroom. As you can guess, there was a detailed description of the tree (evolution) of life on the poster. I didn’t know much about the tree of life or evolution until that day but I pretty much figured that my teacher was irritated of the poster because of her religious beliefs. When I came home I immediately set out to make a research about evolution on the internet and examined the basic written and visual sources on evolution and natural selection for hours. And that day, for the first time in my life, I questioned the all mighty creator on whose existence I didn’t have the tiniest doubt before.

The more I read about evolution, which gives much more humane (and universal) answers to the questions like how we exist than intelligent design does and stands on sound evidence, the more I reasoned, questioned and got curious. All the prevarication of my teacher when I asked her questions about these issues together with the pervasive moralist pressure of the conservationist society all around me, stimulated me to inquire a lot more and drove me to explore further. With time, being skeptical also helped me to get rid of my other stupid supernatural fears and thus made me sleep more peacefully and take more confident steps in life. Besides, as it has always bothered me that the god was holding men dearer and commanding only to women to cover themselves, I questioned more. It was not very difficult for me to come up with the conclusion that this whole religion and belief systems were nothing more than sick dreams of a patriarchal society.

As time went by, with all these thoughts on my mind, I got rid of my ignorant superstitions, and I am finished with feeling guilty about being a woman and with being treated like a second-class person. I am much more aware that I’m holding the rights to speak about my life and my body, and I think I am much more peaceful and confident than if I were a religious person. This is why I’ve been an atheist for three years now.

Gülşah Ökmen

1Translator’s note: it is not allowed to teach with headscarfs in public schools in Turkey.

(Gülşah Ökmen was the winner of a coming out essay contest held in Turkey on this Turkish atheist blog.)

There is no one true Skepticon

I missed a whole series of good talks on the final day of Skepticon, all because I have this job and these responsibilities and I had to fly back so I’d be prepared to teach the next day. Fortunately, Hambone Productions did a fine job of recording everything, and edited presentations are gradually appearing on the web. JT Eberhard’s talk on mental illness is highly recommended. I say that even though I have no mental illnesses at all. Well, no diagnosed, treatable mental problems that are recognized by psychiatrists as something different from the normal range of human weirdnesses, anyway.

Hmmm. I wonder if any of the Guardians of Skeptical Conference Purity will show up to denounce that as not part of the accepted traditional purview of skepticism?

I also missed this other deviation from the ethereal perfection of the refined gentleman’s version of skepticism, so if you need a pick-me-up after JT’s troubles, here’s Hula Hoop Chick.

I think they both advanced the cause of atheism.

I do not forgive

This new interview with the gelato guy gives me absolutely no reason to change my opinion.

During the interview, Drennen said he felt people cannot reach others with such shows that mock others. He does not know how atheists expect to reach others by using mockery and ridicule.

No human is perfect and we all make mistakes. Drennen, like many other Christians, believes he is not perfect, just forgiven. The question is by whom is this young businessman forgiven? In the Christian worldview, God forgives a person, but who forgives him in a secular society? Can people forgive the mistakes of others, which they might find deeply offensive and hurtful?

After Drennen’s statement, concerning mockery and ridicule, I asked him how he would feel if he walked in on PZ Meyer’s talk concerning Junk DNA, given that it deals with Evolution. He was not sure, especially after everything PZ said online. Part of it depended on how PZ talked about Christians, if at all, in his speech.

It seems to be an obligatory opinion of people who believe in mockable and ridiculous things that they will oppose mockery and ridicule. I’m afraid there is no magical exemption — there isn’t a set of stupid beliefs that you get to set on a pedestal and declare that no one can call them stupid. Go ahead and retaliate by mocking and ridiculing the stuff I consider important, like science and evolution and reason and empiricism. I will joyfully leap into that fray.

I know that in that absurd Christian worldview, their god is an instant forgiveness pump — say that you love him and believe in him and he dispenses an imaginary exculpation card automatically, until the final judgment when he might just decide to torture you forever because you didn’t love him enough — but I’m not going to work that way. You don’t get to recite a few rote regrets and expect me to echo back some banal formalities at you. But here’s the good news! I won’t set you on fire and stab you with a pitchfork no matter how idiotic you are!

I’m also not going to tailor my opinions to pander to Andy Drennan’s delusions. It’s only going to work in reverse: I’m now feeling regret that I didn’t dump on religious foolishness at all in my Skepticon talk, and I kind of resent that if I speak there again next year, I’ll feel compelled to toss in a few mocking references to the inanity of Christianity just in case Andy shows up, even if they aren’t relevant to the subject at hand.

Why I am an atheist – Chris J

I have had the unfortunate opportunity to watch my grandmother mentally and physically decline over the past few years. I will always remember her as the strong and independent woman who helped me grow into the man I am today. The reality is that she is no longer that person, she suffers from dementia as well as various physical ailments. All that is left is the shell. She remembers no one, cannot feed or toilet herself, blankly stares at the wall all day and requires the assistance of 2 nurses just to get out of bed.

Watching this occur over the course of several years caused me to start questioning my faith. Why would my loving and caring God allow this to happen? What purpose could this possibly serve? Of course, asking church folks got me the same generic answer that it was all part of God’s plan. But I could not accept that, I felt that if this was his plan then his plan sucks. I started to feel uneasy at church, watching people praise the man who was responsible for my grandmothers demise made me angry.

At this point my faith was shaky but I was looking for reasons to hang on. I attended a bible reading group and for the first time listened to the bible objectively and literally. There was no way that I could buy what was being sold in that book.(It still amazes and embarrasses me that for 30 years I never questioned anything from that book.) As I brought up my thoughts and feelings I was pretty much told that you can’t be a believer if you question the bible. That is when it hit me…..I did not believe any of this crap.I felt a sense of relief because the world began to make more sense when viewed from a secular perspective. Things like cancer, hurricanes, terrorists and my grandmothers dementia were easier to deal with when accepted for what they were….shit that just happens in a random world.

I feel as though this revelation has left me even more appreciative of life. The randomness of everything and the improbable odds of me even being here overwhelm and inspire me.

Thanks for the forum to tell my story, I cannot be as upfront about my beliefs, or lack there of, as I would like due to negative impacts it could potentially have on my employment situation. Blogs like this do a great service in helping me feel connected with other like minded individuals.

Chris J
United States

Exorcist rails against superstition

Father Gabriele Amorth, the former chief exorcist to the Vatican, has spoken out publicly against the popularization of the occult. Don’t get your hopes up, though. Only some occult fantasies are wrong.

…yoga is Satanic because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”.

Reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books is no less dangerous, said the 86-year-old priest

They’re evil, he says, because they “encourage children to believe in black magic and wizardry”.

He also mentioned that his favorite movie was The Exorcist and that “the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Catholic Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries was proof that the Anti-Christ is waging a war against the Holy See.”

Jeez, it’s Sunday morning, and I’m already fresh out of sarcasm and irony. I should know better than to read anything any Catholic priest says — it just sucks all of the gast out of my flabber.

Lovecraftian nightmare!

Oh, no. I was sent a photo by a reader…a photo of such terrifying horror that one cannot imagine the reality without reeling back in shock. I hesitate to put it here, but…the shattered fragments of my mind can no longer resist the compulsion to infect the world with this atrocity. I tried, I swear I tried, but the gibbering screams — I think they’re mine — have splintered my resistance. I’m about to click…I’m about to expose you all to this nightmare…

But wait. I’ve mustered enough will to at least put it below the fold. Warn everyone! Don’t click! Don’t look! Nooooooooo…my mind is slipping into the primordial void, the madness rippling like ravaging worms through my brain…

[Read more…]

One of us?

At last, Obama comes out of the closet and openly admits that he’s joining the New Atheists.

Unreal that Obama doesn’t mention God in Thanksgiving message. Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?

Oh, wait. That’s wacky conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, and all Obama did was not mention any gods in his Thanksgiving speech. Stand down, everyone, it’s just an idiot setting the bar so ridiculously low that when your Grandma talks about roller derby, she automatically turns into an atheist no matter what her beliefs.

You can find out how a real atheist deals with that gratitude to an imaginary sky tyrant thing by listening to Brother Sam Singleton.

Anti-Caturday post

Cats are so undignified, yowling and screeching and spraying urine all over the place. They should take a lesson from the noble sea cucumber, rising erect, proud and firm from the sea floor, and quietly, affirmatively ejaculating long voluminous streams of gametes that gaily wave from the tip, like a pennon in the breeze.

There’s more at Echinoblog, if this sample of priapic holothurians is inadequate for you. Strangely, most of these videos come from Japan. I’m really beginning to wonder about what goes on in Japanese bedrooms.

(Also on FtB)