30 August 2009


On Reason
"I can't" isn't a reason to give up, it's a reason to try harder - unknown

Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. - C.S. Lewis

The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.” - Benjamin Franklin

Being unable to reason is not a positive character trait outside religion - Dewey Henize

Where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right, is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong? - Jane Austen

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei

Reason is the slow and torturous method by which those who do not know the truth discover it - Blaise Pascal

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but - more frequently than not - struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God - Martin Luther

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow. - Anais Nin

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.- Buddha

There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings. - Dorothy Thompson

Religions are many and diverse, but reason and goodness are one. - Elbert Hubbard

Reason guides our attempt to understand the world about us. Both reason and compassion guide our efforts to apply that knowledge ethically, to understand other people, and have ethical relationships with other people. - Molleen Matsumura

Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in the devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that -- it's astonishing. These numbers aren't duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You'd have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population.- Noam Chomsky

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.- Thomas Jefferson

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.- Thomas Jefferson

29 August 2009

28 August 2009


Recently I have become a lender in Kiva, not much just two times. Will definitely be doing more.

USA today has an article on the lenders. Topping all groups is Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious "committed to caring about suffering." ($863,425.00 loaned) Next in the listings: Kiva Christians ($568,675.00), followed by Team Obama ($438,025.00). When sort by Religious Congregations, The Flying Spaghetti Monster tops at $101,850.00 followed by Mormons ($68,550.00) and Catholics ($66,775.00). [loaned amount updated at time of writing, but the order came from USA Tdoay's article.] Unfamiliar with the FSM parody "pastafarianism"? Check it out here.

We care!


"If someone was to tell me that last week he died, and I'd read about it in the papers and actually seen him dead, and I was surprised to see him again in the street, I wouldn't be that impressed. It wouldn't prove anything about the truth of his doctrines. It would not prove he was the son of God or entitle him to forgive me my sins." - Christopher Hitchens

Agree with Hitchens that "truth of his doctrines", "son of god", "ability to forgive my sins" and came back from dead are four different things. Even if one of them is true, it does not imply the others would be true.

If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse. - Woody Allen

Where has god been lately? God may have given up on men and therefore not going to appear again. Last time, s/he just sent a son (according to rumour). What next? An angel?

27 August 2009


On Science [digged from comments]

Science is quite often wrong, but it is also self correcting. That is whenever new information proves something was wrong, then if it can be altered slightly to fit that new information it is. If it can't then the old idea is scrapped and a new one is presented that takes into account why the old idea seemed correct and why the new idea describes the data better. Science is not rigid nor written in stone, that is an advantage. - BeamStalk

Darwin only had the anatomical knowledge of his day to work with. Modern research may have proved him wrong about the appendix, but after all that is what modern science is all about. It's about testing and proving old hypothesese right or wrong and its done all the time. That is SCIENCE. - Happy Humanist

Too bad Christian's cannot correct the parts of the Bible that are wrong, they are locked in to a system that is ridgid, unchanging and uncaring. There may be some comfort in that, but there is no truth or honesty. -Wait What

Who says science is never wrong? Science is superior to religious dogma because scientists check their own and each others work to find the errors and correct them, while religious fundamentalists refuse to question anything in their holy books. - Lord Runolfr

I assume you are contrasting the alterable nature of science with the supposed un-alterable nature of your religion or your Bible. In either case, it could be shown that both your religion as well as your Bible and/or the accepted interpretation of that Bible, are quite subject to alteration, and quite subject to being thought “wrong” by the next generation of believers. Ironically, when detractors bring up such examples as Christians’ of the 16th century use of the Bible as justification of slavery, or the founder of Protestantism’s use of the bible to support racism against Jews, a common Christian response is to proclaim that no human is perfect, and therefore no human is above the occasional mistake (what one might call “falsehood”). I ask, which of these two scenarios sounds more like someone claiming to possess a license for recurrent falsehood? - Jay

Scientific journals reject articles from creationists for the same reason they reject articles about Flat Earth theory. - B. Pierce

26 August 2009


Suppose I am going to write a fiction. I am incorporating a number of history facts into my story. Does it make my story real and true? - Albert Ip

Many things bothered me about the stories of Jesus, because the four Gospels didn't exactly compare and that became a problem for me, because if they were all divinely inspired by The Son of God, they would all be identical, and totally truthful. But they weren't identical - or, as it turns out, truthful. Some stories didn't match, some things simply didn't make sense. They were 'non-sequiturs' - quotations out of context. Questions that were answered with answers that didn't fit the questions - but fit the Christian doctrine. - Dirk Vanden

21 August 2009

Atheist teacher

Is it OK to have an atheist teacher?

Sorry, wrong question. Let me try again. Is it OK to have a christian teacher?

Indoctrinating young children to the unproven god is serious crime. As a teacher of over 1/4 of a century, I have kept my personal belief separate from my teaching activities. [I was bought up in christian primary school and catholic secondary school, yet taught in buddhist school!] And I am regretting that!

I taught Physics, a mathematical scientific discipline which values enquiry, evidence, tests and experimentation. There are theories and theories get disproved or modified. This is real and this is based on evidence. In class, I rather spent my time in motivating my students, enriching their curiosity than going through the content matter. My students could always read the textbook at their time as many times as they like.

Every now and then, some students would be able to answer questions about what they learnt in class perfectly, but in real life, they still go about their daily life like Physics is just something they learn for passing examination.

One trick is to lend a radioactive source to a student so that he/she can play with it at home. I would take out a glass bottle from a lead container using a long-handle forceps and ask if anyone would like to it home by put the bottle in his/her pocket. Inevitably, there is always some students who have forgotten all about the risk of radioactivity I was talking moments ago and reach out with their hands for the glass bottle. That's where things get interesting from a teacher's point of view. Of course the glass bottle contains nothing radioactive and it is illegal for me to let radioactive material out of the laboratory. But that is a good way to start a good discussion.

I regret I did not make my atheism clear to my students [and I have stopped teaching more than 15 years]. If I have the foresight of knowing how religious is damaging the intellectual world, I would have use my atheism to discuss more about Science and the true nature of scientific enquiry.

Back to the question at the beginning of this post, the answer to the first question is YES and the answer to the second is NO!

[This post is a reflection after reading Hemant Mehta's post. I hope Mehta would have the opportunity to make his atheism clear to his students and give his students a chance of cleansing from the religious pollution.]

19 August 2009

Elements of the Scientific Method in Scripture

This cartoon illustrates vividly the difference between scientific enquiry and creationist approach.

After some data mining, John Munday managed to conclude:
This exploration shows a multitude of correspondences between the methods of natural science and features of Scripture. From the results, we conclude that –
• it is not only wrong to claim that natural science and Scripture conflict, with respect to methods or routes to knowing,
• it is also right to declare, in the positive sense, that Scripture endorses methods of natural

The basic tenet of scientific exploration is to (a) find and document repeatable interesting observations, (b) formulate theory to explain the observations, (c) most importantly continuously try to falsify the theory, (d) if the theory is proven to be wrong the theory is abandoned or revised. It is the last two parts which make scientific method scientific.

Creationistic approach starts with an infallible premise - the bible. Even in the overwhelming evidence of the false statements in the bible, creationists solve the conflict by invoking unsubstantiated god as the ultimate solution. This is totally unscientific, both in practice and in principle.

The continual spread of the false image of compatibility of bible and science will have adverse effect on the education of the general public.

John Munday used one of my sentence: My question [...] is which account you should believe in, the Bible's or the scientific account? Let me rephrase this: when you are ill, do you depend on prayers or seek modern medical support?

17 August 2009


Excerpt from Albert Einstein (by Mauro Murzi) in Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists:

In his analysis of the relationships between science and religion, Einstein identified three different concepts of God that correspond approximately to three different stages of the evolution of religious thought. The first concept of God was developed before human beings were conscious of the laws regulating the causal connections between natural phenomena. Therefore they invented anthropomorphic supernatural beings who controlled the course of events and were responsible for natural phenomena. The main motive for this conception of God was fear: the “fear of hunger, wild beast, sickness, death” (Ideas and Opinions, 39). Thus Einstein spoke of a “religion of fear” (40), in which people followed traditional rituals in the hope of gaining the benevolence of God.

Einstein called the second concept of God “the social or moral conception of God” (Ideas and Opinions, 40) because social and moral concerns are the main source of religious practice. God is the father who protects, rewards, comforts, and punishes his children and guarantees the immortality of the human soul. An important task of this kind of religion, which is typical in modern times, is to justify the adoption of specific views of morality and to provide the context for advocating social justice.

Both the religion of fear and the moral and social conception of God are ingredients, in varying degrees, in all historical religions. Primitive religions are mostly, but not exclusively, based on fear, and contemporary religions are primarily based on moral and social concerns, though fear is also a motive force. In these contexts, a special caste—the priests—occupies the important position mediating between God and the people. The priests, who are instrumental in stabilizing the ritual of religion, are usually linked with political rulers and privileged classes, are in control of education, and guide people in their social behavior, crystallizing the division of society into classes.

In these two types of religious thought God is conceived of as an anthropomorphic being. Einstein identified this concept of a personal God as the main source of conflict between science and religion, because this concept of God conflicts with the main aim of science, that is, to establish unrestricted laws, which do not admit exceptions, governing the reciprocal connections of objects. These laws, which Einstein identified with causal laws, exclude the possibility of supernatural intervention: God cannot interfere with natural events. It is true, said Einstein, that science cannot definitely refute the conception of a personal God, because domains exist in which science has not been able to determine general laws. However, if religion restricts itself to these domains to protect itself from science, it will lose its influence on human society. Thus “teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests” (Ideas and Opinions, 52). Only thus it is possible to prevent a conflict between science and religion. A religious man is a man who has liberated himself from “selfish desires” (48) and is preoccupied with “superpersonal value” (ibid., 48), independent of any conception of a divine being.

Einstein called the third stage of religious thought the “cosmic religious feeling” (Ideas and Opinions, 41). God is not conceived of as an anthropomorphic being; in a sense, the only function of God is to guarantee the regularity of the universe. Among the forerunners of the cosmic conception of God, Einstein cited some books of the Bible (the Psalms of David, Prophets), Buddha, Democritus, Spinoza, and St. Francis of Assisi. No religious practice corresponds to this conception of God because it is futile to try to secure God’s benevolence. God does not interfere with natural laws, does not make miracles, does not reward human beings, does not punish them. This mature conception of God has its main source in the scientific contemplation of nature, which discloses the exact regularity of the causal laws of nature and thus renders inconceivable the conception of a God interfering with nature in order to reward and punish his creatures.

As concluded by Murzi, Einstein is not an atheist nor he is agnostic. I am sure that he is atheistic towards a personal god, but he obviously subscribed to the third type of cosmic god. For those Christians reading this, Einstein is atheist towards your god.

Einstein is my hero - I called myself Albert after him when I have the chance to name myself. However, I disagree with him on this issue. I think he is wrong. The concept of a cosmic god who has the intelligence to set the right parameters for this Universe to exist demands an explanation of the source of that intelligence. A being with a greater intelligence is needed to create the intelligent god and so on.

A possible theory of the existence of this Universe and the current human intelligence is evolution - small, gradual accumulation of changes through zillions of try and error. A localised imbalance of energy - in our case, solar energy reaching the planet Earth - prompt a chain of energy transfers in order to reach an equilibrium. Initially, we have the formation of simple molecules which, through chance, combined to form more complex molecules, which again by chance, evolved into simple biological cells and so on. There is no magic. We are just on the lucky branch of the evolution tree.

To throw you more food for thought, watch this from TED:


I am told that Submission is too aggressive a film. Its criticism of Islam is aparently too painful for Muslims to bear. Tell me, how much more painful is it to be these women, trapped in that cage? — Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and live. There is nothing more; I want nothing more. — Ayaan Hirsi Ali

16 August 2009

Safe drinking water

In a recent post, the comments evolved to a discussion of the world's problem. One of them is safe drinking water, over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water! Here is a video from TED describing how lifesaver drinking bottles can help to solve this problem. He estimated that with 20B UK pounds, all the world could have safe drinking water.

Other approaches: LifeStraw, rapid sand filter system, or clay pot water filters (step by step guide of making clay pot water filters, a process which the inventor has declined to patent!)

13 August 2009


The beauty of words is that we can combine conceptually contradicting words together. Examples: calling bald a hair colour, vacuum a thing and atheism a belief.

Another annoying feature is to associate features to imaginary objects as if it were true: god is eternal. Since god is imaginary, it can have any feature as you like including it is coloured green!

Reality requires evidence. Anything which excludes itself from this fundamental reality check is imaginary. It may serve some purposes, just like fictions serve to illustrate, inspire and amuse. Taking the imaginary god seriously and acting like god is real is NOT reality. I am very puzzled why so many seemingly intelligent people would be religious.

08 August 2009


"If everything has a prior cause, then God must have had a prior cause. If God does not require a prior cause, then neither does the universe! The religious folks are trying to have their cake and eat it; you can't propose a universal rule but then allow an exception which breaks the rule." - unknown

07 August 2009

Jesus appears again - on a toilet in Vegas


To have an invisible friend at the age of eight is charming and not a cause for concern. To have an invisible friend in adulthood is however a cause for concern and could be considered psychotic. So how exactly does giving them the name of a deity change that opinion? - Phil Slattery

02 August 2009

Heaven is Earth

Ray Comfort sometimes pretends that he knows Science and constantly writes about how evolution is flawed. Accompanying his recent description of heaven is a waterfall scenery. As I have written before, heaven is hotter than hell and it is at 525 degrees Celcius. See here.

The description of "pleasure" in heaven was the creation of primitive men who knew nothing about things too far or too small to see. These pleasure include sex (with whom? or just randomly anyone? where love fits here?), lost of memory of the past, no pain, no tears, no diseases, no suffering, death and no futility. That's why you can have sex!

The way I think about this is quite different. I am already in Heaven. A world much better than those primitive men who wrote the bible would have imagined. While there are still incurable illness, occasional pain, tears and loss, we are living in a world which is so much more stimulating mentally (we can read almost everything ever written anywhere - thanks to the explosion of information technology), less demanding in labour for providing food and a generally civilised accompany of fellow human. Of course there is ground of improvement. If the religious can keep their mouths shut and let the scientists continue their work, the improvement will come earlier.

As the conscious species of this planet, we are the lucky one. We are on the lucky branch of the evolution tree. When I die, I am happy to return to nothingness.

Let enjoy this moment rather than wish for a life in a non-existent heaven.