29 November 2009

Debunking - Richard Dawkins and the "Nothing Butters"

Gary DeMar, Nov 24, 2009 wrote:
Atheists and evolutionists do not like to be compared to people like Adolf Hitler.

So are the theists. Hilter WAS a Christian! [source]
Just because someone shares a similar ideology with a tyrant in one area does not mean that he shares everything that tyrant did.

So why mention this in the first place, Gary?

Atheist Richard Dawkins “regards belief in a God who does not exist as the root of all evil.”

It is Christropher Hitchens who really makes the case in his book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

The religious likes to claim moral high ground. Unfortunately, the reverse is true. In USA's prisons, atheists are under represented. In developed societies, atheism is directly linked to better society and lower crime rate. [Journal of Religion and Society] The conclusion is copied below [my emphasis]:
The United States’ deep social problems are all the more disturbing because the nation enjoys exceptional per capita wealth among the major western nations (Barro and McCleary; Kasman; PEW; UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). Spending on health care is much higher as a portion of the GDP and per capita, by a factor of a third to two or more, than in any other developed democracy (UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). The U.S. is therefore the least efficient western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and religiosity versus secularism. It is therefore hoped that this initial look at a subject of pressing importance will inspire more extensive research on the subject. Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies. Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions? There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002). It is the responsibility of the research community to address controversial issues and provide the information that the citizens of democracies need to chart their future courses.

It is important to be able to look at the evidence and make conclusion from the facts. It is NOT the same as wishful thinking and blind faith claim. We, human, progress by utilising the ability of separating facts from myths, wishful thinking from scientific claims, being moral without the god, being rational and being humble enough to know that we are just the lucky branch on the evolution tree. Nature will go on with or without human. The world was not created for us. This is humbling. Do you have the ability to understand that human are just part of a larger eco-system?

While religious like to claim that they are moral because of their god, the fact does not support that. While atheists do not make any special moral claim, atheists are behaving in better ways - as supported by numerous researches.

Religious leaders are either too stupid to see that god does not exist, or they are deliberately lying for selfish reasons. Next time when theists try to claim moral high ground, you know they are either too stupid or are lying.

ps a more recent paper by Gregory S. Paul updated the argument above. 30th November 2009

28 November 2009

Church placed its own reputation above the protection of children in its care

The "Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin" covered a period from 1975 to 2004.

It has laid bare a culture of concealment where church leaders prioritised the protection of their own institution above that of vulnerable children in their care. [my emphasis]

Is that news anymore? It makes one's blood boil how church leaders were abusing their trust, in the name of god! It reminds me of Dan Brown writing: religion [has] established itself as a tollbooth to heaven [The Lost Symbol].

27 November 2009

Atheists cross as religious forum secures taxpayer funding

The Parliament of the World's Religions begins on December 3 at the new Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and has also received $2 million from the Federal Government and $500,000 from the Melbourne City Council.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia says it approached all three levels of government for a total of $270,000 for its conference, to be held at the same venue early next year, but has received no funding.

This is discrimination!

25 November 2009

Where did god come from?

Why don't we save a step?

Symphony of Science

Just a Little Embarrassing...

Yes, it is embarrassing. How can the most technically advanced country like USA habour scientific illiteracy like this?

I have no issue with the second line, "Let me grow up and choose for myself". That's exactly what we should be doing. Do NOT indoctrinate young minds with stupid ideas.

Evolution is one of the most elegant scientific theory supported by tons of evidence. I am a biology layman, but I still understand how evolution theory can be used to "predict". Even Francis Collins admits in his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief wrote:
No serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life. In fact, the relatedness of all species through the mechanism of evolution is such a profound foundation for the understanding of all biology that it is difficult to image how one would study life without it. (p. 90)

24 November 2009

East vs. West -- the myths that mystify

I am not suggesting that the myths of India is true or not. I just like to share with you a spiritual journey other than your christian god.


23 November 2009

Analysis of Comfort's Intro in Origin of Species

Comfort's confused polemic, disguised as an informational Introduction but full of mistakes, half truths, untruths, muddled logic, old creationist arguments, misleadingly excerpted quotations, and ill-framed analogies — plus a good dose of fire and brimstone at the end — will do a severe disservice to anyone who takes it for an entryway to Darwin's great book. [source]

Who is intolerant?

The catholic church uses its weapon, not to administer the sacrament, to pressure US congressman Patrick Kennedy to stop supporting abortion.

Where is the separation of church and state? Well pressure to a congressman is just the opposite of lobbying.

Human's ability to see pattern

What do you see in the picture on the left? Do you see "gliders" moving from middle of top to right lower corner?

In fact, the algorithm is just the following:
Each of the cell has two state, either live (in dark above) or dead (white)
1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by underpopulation.
2. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
3. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell.

In other words, each cell is only controlled by its neighbour. However, as human, we see pattern and do not see the underlying principle directly.

We, human, are similar in certain extend. We are continuously exchanging the atoms in our body with those from air and food. It has been told that the human body regenerate every 7 years. [source] While the source of this claim is doubtful, the source points out a more recent research which supports the claim.

The material make-up of our body (those atoms) are constantly changing, quite like the state of the cells in the above diagram, right?

Another interesting fact is there is about 1.2 kg of bacteria co-existing in our body. One of the main function these bacteria do for us is breakdown of food. [source]

Who are we? Are we really divine?

21 November 2009

A really inconvenient truth

For those who still hide their heads in the sand disowning the mess we human has created, please, PLEASE, go to FORA.tv and watch this slightly over 1 hour program.
Humans respond best to threats that are immediate, visible, simple, personal, have historical precedent, and are caused by another “tribe” (think Al-Qaeda). Unfortunately, climate change, has none of these characteristics and this may partially explain why so little is being done to address the biggest threat mankind has ever faced.

For those religious who still think the world is only 6000+ years old and believe in creation science, please keep out of the debate of climate change and let those who really know do the work to save us and our children. There are over 4 billion people who do not believe in the end of world would like to live on and preserve the civilisation as we know it.


Islam is becoming more regressive, sharia courts and Wahhabism are spreading, and no tradition of tolerance for other religions has been established. No moderate or alternative versions of the religion are being offered because such alternative mosques would be threatened and would suffer from a lack of funding. The Islamic focus on indoctrination, high population growth, fomenting of insurgencies, and infiltration is part of the global jihad, a full-on religious war against infidel nations. - Janet Levy

They are like those sacred cows in India which, I am told, eat up all the printed paper they can find in the streets... Yes, they gobble up all the printed pages from books that have been written centuries ago, but they do not digest them. They no longer think for themselves; they read and repeat, read and repeat - and the students who listen to them learn only to read and repeat, generation after generation. ...on the whole, Al-Azhar has lapsed into the sterility from which the whole Muslim world is suffering... If there is to be any change for the better, thinking must be encouraged instead of the present thought-imitation... - Shaykh Mustafa al-Maraghi, Quoted by Muhammad Asad in The Road To Mecca

Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward. - Edward Paul

In the eyes of history, religious toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people. It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. - Marmaduke Pickthall

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is trying to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind. - J. (Jiddu) Krishnamurti

17 November 2009

A New Christianity for a New World

Very interesting ideas from Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong :
Twelve points for Reform

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.

2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.

3. The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.

4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.

5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.

8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.

9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.

10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.

11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.

12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.[source]

The above quote is lifted directly from wikipedia. The link of the source to is Gerald O'Collins, “What of the Spong Song?,” Apologia 7, no. 2/3 (September 10, 1994): 112–113.

After the reform, what is left is a tedious amount of wealth collected by the poor believers and huge political power to do whatever the church wants to do without the need to defend the non-defendable BS. (highlight to see my answer, but you may guess first.)

16 November 2009

LFACC - On moving to become an advanced society

Letter from a Christian Citizen was written in 2007. There is a very interesting paragraph on pages 42-43
A quick comment on your comparisons of advanced societies (as the “least religious societies on earth”) to the third worlders (bringing up the rear) which you identify as “unwaveringly religious.” What you left out of that evaluation is what worldview was predominant in all the advanced countries you mention when they first attained that advanced position. All of the nations you mentioned (with the exception of Japan) were Christian at the time of their ascendancy. Not only so, but many of the nations you mention, having abandoned their Christian heritage, are also on their last legs. Europe, the remains of old Christendom, has about twenty years left before they go under the Islamic flood.

First, US of America is founded on the "separation of state and church", explicitly stating that it is NOT a christian nation.

Second, the spectacular collapse of the financial institutions in late 2008 occurs 18 years earlier than the predicted over flooding by muslims. :-)

The book also created a very interesting thought experiment (page 44-46):
Let us suppose we have two men of atrocious character—they have both raped and murdered repeatedly and have expressed their contempt for the dignity of mankind in many other secret ways as well. They are both of them a piece of work, but one is a convinced atheist and the other is (in his intellectual commitments anyway) a Christian and a member of a Christian church. Now suppose further that because these two men are very clever, or because they were lucky enough to have incompetent cops assigned to their cases, or for whatever other reason, they both got away with their crimes, with no suspicion falling on either one of them. They both reached eighty years of age as respected members of their communities. Both of them successfully managed to live a double life. They have both come to their death beds, their crimes hidden and their intellectual commitments intact. One is still an atheist and the other still a Christian.

The first thinks to himself, “I made it through the obstacle course. I did whatever I wanted to do. I am about to die, and I will never have to answer for anything that I ever did.” The second man is increasingly troubled in his conscience because “I got away with everything here, but I am going to a place where everything will be made manifest and judged.” The former believes that he will not be judged for any of his crimes, and the second man believes that he will be judged for all of them. Now, given your atheism, which man is correct? This reveals that the wicked Christian lived an inconsistent life, while the wicked atheist lived a consistent life. His consistent lifestyle is not binding on you personally, but you are in no position to reject it for him.

Now my question is not “Are you a horrible criminal like the first man?” The question is not whether or not you as an atheist are promoting the same criminal choices that this other atheist made. I am not like the Christian in this illustration, and there is no reason why you have to be like that atheist.

My question is simply this: having made those choices and congratulating himself on his death bed, where is he wrong in his reasoning? I am not saying that his reasons provide a good rationale for you to go live that way—you obviously don’t want to. But he did want to and what in your thinking can persuade him to think differently? And the use of this phrase “want to” identifies where the problem is. Given atheism, morality reduces to personal preferences. You don’t need to protest that you don’t share those preferences. I grant it. But the man in my illustration doesn’t share yours either. Any reason he should?

Without checking my copy of Sam Harris' book, I cannot remember the point Wilson is referring. The interesting thing I find in this thought experiment is why a devoted christian would have committed the crimes in the first place. The reason would be the same for the atheist in the thought experiment! Anthropologist has shown that there are 5 foundations of morality irrespective of culture and belief. The atheist criminal, so is the christian criminal, in the thought experiment is obviously lacking some or all of the basic human moral instincts. Now to answer Wilson's question: where is he wrong in his reasoning, my answer would be the christian believed he could beg for forgiveness in the last moment and escape the eternal punishment in the name of Jesus. If the fear of punishment was so great, the crimes would not have been committed in the first place! The problem is in the vicarious redemption which Christopher Hitchens has pointed out to be the biggest moral crime advanced in the new testament.

Pathway to atrocity

"There is a logical pathway leading from religion to the committing atrocity,... but there is no such logical pathway leading from atheism or secularism to any such atrocious act."

The Christianity of Hitler

How is it possible that the religious think Adolf Hitler was an atheist? Is the horror he was a Christian too much for them to bear so they perpetuate a lie? Check it out yourself here.

Hitchens and Fry Verse The Catholics

This debate, unfortunately is very one sided. Before the debate, the audience votes were 678 vs 1102 with 346 undecided. After the debate, the votes were 268 vs 1876 with 34 undecided.
You can download the debating material from here.

14 November 2009

My Response to God Vs Science

Comment on the argument itself: The philosophy teacher is not starting off with a solid foundation. For evidences, we no longer just base on the observation of the 5 human senses. The lack of evidence of god is simply lack of evidence, in whatsoever perception including extending our human observation techniques to the best of the current practice.

The counter argument itself is flawed because of the use of analogy. The falsehood of an analogy of a statement A does not imply the falsehood of statement A itself. There is NO correlation between the truth or otherwise between a statement and its analogy. Analogy is useful for a casual understanding. Logically, there is no link between an analogy and the statement.

God owns everything?

God owns everything. That is is the biblical view: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1). God delegated ownership and dominion of property to his Image, man (Gen 1:26–28). God sanctioned the protection of private property in His law—the Ten Commandments—including a prohibition of theft (Ex. 20:15). Jesus (Matt. 19:18) and the Apostles (Acts 5; Eph. 4:28) upheld this law. [source]

What is expressed here is a very dangerous view. We now know that this planet earth is a symbiotic system with every parts linking to every other parts. The input is the sun's energy. Just as an example, consider water. Within this system, everything gets recycled. Waste water flows to wetland, plants and micro-organisms remove the pollutants and the water eventually flows to the ocean. Sun's energy evaporates the water to form clouds which float over to land and become rain to replenish the fresh water supply.

In the last 200+ years, we human have messed up the system. We have dug out a large fraction of all the stored carbon and emit them into the atmosphere. According to the bible, we own the earth and we can do every thing allowed by the out-of-date rules in the old books. Unfortunately, the earth's atmospheric cleaning systems - the rain forests - were being destroyed at the same time supported by the same out-of-date ownership concept. Large quantities of green house gas do not get removed in time and is building up rapidly. This concept of ownership is becoming a dangerous idea. The fact is man does not own the earth. We live on the earth. We depend on earth to provide us with air, water and food.

The above quote comes from the promotion of a book. When the underlying concept of the book is morally wrong, we don't need to read to book to know the conclusion it draws will not be sound.

13 November 2009

God Vs Science

I will give my response tomorrow. Stay tuned.

11 November 2009

My Prayer

Our Father in imagination,
hollowed as in your name,
Your kingdom is a con,
Your will be gone
on earth as it is in imagination.
Rob us today our daily bread.
Fortifying our debts,
as we also have demanded our debtors.
Lead us into temptation,
And deliver us into the evil one.
For yours is the imagination and the power and the glory for someone's secret reason.

Is Yahweh moral?

No, definitely.

But the broader question is "Does religion provide morality?" Unfortunately, the answer is also no.

One frequent defense made on behalf of religion and theism is the claim that they are necessary for morality. This claim takes a variety of forms: people wouldn't behave morally if it weren't for religion or fear of gods, some god or gods are the authors of morality so we can't be moral without following their commands, religion and gods provide reasons to be moral, the absence of religion or gods encourages immorality, a moral person is simply assumed to be religious, and so forth. [source]

Austin Cline makes it very clear here: One example would be all the killings which the Jewish god orders throughout the Old Testament — pretty standard stuff for that time period, but not exactly appropriate for a perfectly good and just deity. Another example would be the very principle of salvation behind Christianity: people who deserve some sort of punishment are let off the hook by punishing a completely innocent individual, and if people don't accept this then they are destined for an eternity of torment regardless of the scope or seriousness of their misdeeds. Neither side of that equation is the least bit moral.

The saddest things are actually that the society is allowing the stupid parents denying necessary medication on the basis of religious faith, and that the society is tolerating such stupidity to further propagate to the young unprepared minds. While I respect people's right to be stupid, I do hope we have advanced to a stage that we know what is real and what is imaginary.

When will this stop?

LFACC - On embryonic stem cell research

This post will deal with the issue of embryonic stem cell research in Douglas Wilson's Letter from a Christian Citizen [page 30 - 36]

Here is a blatant hypocrisy: embryonic stem cell research uses the "excess" stem cell which will be discarded. Wilson is willing to let the stem cell "die" naturally, but not to be used to contribute to research into human illness.

Do we have souls?

To answer this question, we must look at the evidence. First, at the beginning years when we were born, can we think? Can we articulate what is happening around us? To test this, I call it the threshold of self-realisation. Ask yourself, what is the earliest moment in your life you can recall. Now, think about all those "experiences" you have BEFORE that threshold of self-realisation. Your brain was still developing. But some time before that threshold, your brain has not developed enough to build a "memory". Your soul did not exist until you started to be able to think, right?

Second, has anyone been able to communicate with the death? All human is immortal, so far. If every human has a soul, there would have over 7 billion souls. If soul exists, no doubt some of these souls would have made communication.

Atheist, like most moral being, treasures life. When faced with a difficult choice, I base my choice on morality which has developed via compassion and empathy. I denounce sport fishing. I eat fish. But, catching a fish, with sharp hook and then releasing it is a cruel sport. If I catch a fish, I will kill it and eat it. That's part of the cycle of life.

I do not condone teen girls abortion after they have *fun* knowing that they should have chosen to use suitable protection. But in the case of rape or other medical reason, abortion is a choice and I support it. Similarly, producing human embryonic cell for research is objectionable. However, I don't see any problem with using "excess" embryonic stem cells from IVF procedures.

Wilson attacked Harris argument's structure. It seems to me Wilson has avoided answering the questions at the core of the argument.

Stop the killing

Amnesty International reports that 3 Kurdish nationals in Iranian custody are scheduled to be executed for "enmity against God" (apostasy, or denying the truth of Islam).

This is just insane! Help is needed urgently.

09 November 2009

Bible study

Scripture does not argue the existence of God, for example, it rather assumes it from page one, because it was the given understanding for those to whom it was written. [source]

Well said. If you are still living with an understanding equal to those men and women in the desert about 2000 years ago, you are forgiven in believing and not questioning the existence of a god. In modern time, with all the advances made in Science, it is very sad and an indication of the failure of education that so many are still fooled by the false promise of a god. If you are capable of applying reasons and requiring evidence for your everyday activities, why on earth would you believe in something as absurd as a super natural being supervising everyone of our daily activities. Even if a creator exists, why does it care about what happens to us, a species living on a small planet in one of the many stars of one of many galaxies?

Please, my dear religious readers, think for yourself and apply reason and require evidence. Where is the evidence of any god, let alone yours?

Tearing a Page from the Bible

Gary DeMar wrote:
Ian McKellen of Lord of the Rings (Gandalf) and X-Men (Magneto) fame is an admitted homosexual. He is in the habit of tearing out the Bible passage that condemns homosexuality, specifically Leviticus 18:22 which reads, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

What is your business to mind about someone's private sexual preference? If he sins in the eyes of your imaginary god, so be it. Let your imagine god do whatever it can. Ooops, of course your imaginary god cannot do a thing, because it is imaginary!

04 November 2009

LFACC - On Slavery & moral

This post will deal with the issue of slavery raised in Douglas Wilson's Letter from a Christian Citizen [page 21 - 30]

Wilson asks "Given your worldview, what is wrong with this [ He (Jesus) did teach Christian slaves to make a special point of working diligently for believing masters.]? There is nothing wrong with it on your principles, where the universe is just time and chance acting on matter. Why does it matter if the master matter acts on the slave matter? Who cares? ... But how could atheism lead to a condemnation of slavery?"

The fact that such questions are being asked is strikingly worrisome. It seems to me that Wilson will, if not being a Christian and hence afraid of the punishment, do *everything*. The fact is people have evolved innate compassion towards other people and things. No wonder there is no child's behind left under religious care!

Atheism is not moral guide. Atheist are people who do not believe there is a god. Period. Simple. Get it?

The fact that atheist is 10% in the USA population, but 0.1% in the prison population should say something which Wilson either is ignorant of or conveniently disregarded. People in prison not necessary, as Wilson pointed out, are immoral. But at least, it means rational atheists understand the rule of law and are able, statistically, to be better citizens.

I have pointed out before, moral is a moving social standard. Many atheists, me included, condemn industrialised slavery (sweatshop production). We condemn slave, including child sex slave. Unlike the old testament, we at least will not condone such practice (Wilson seems to praise the OT to set limits on the practice as a moral guide). Yes, I understand OT was 2000+ years ago. That is exactly why religion, based on a single set of books, cannot be used as modern moral guide. They are out-dated!

Wilson puts up the fear mongering again on page 20:
The judgments that fall in the Old Testament are largely temporal judgments. The judgments that Jesus speaks of are eternal.

Punishment should be appropriate for the crime. What have I done to deserve eternal hell fire? Because Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit? Where is the justice?

If current laws represent the current moral standard, it seems to be people with faith have the same proportion in society and in prison whereas atheists are statistically significantly under represented in the prison population. Obviously, either the moral guide in the bible is out of date or people with faith have lower moral standard.

ps Question to Wilson, people in prison are slave (There are over two million people currently incarcerated in the United States. page 25) or people in prison are students (graduate schools of crime and vice from courtrooms page 26)

LFACC - Who & Whether questions of God

In Letter from a Christian Citizen, Douglas Wilson raised many interesting points. This post will deal with the point of atheism towards Muslims and towards Christianity. [page 13-15] Here is how Wilson describes the issue:

You [Sam Harris] advance an argument that might be called an argument for partial atheism: “The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims” (7). But I am afraid that this is a false analogy entirely. You say, “Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity. And it is the way I view all religions” (7). Well, no, not exactly. And well, actually, no, not at all.

Suppose we are considering a phenomenon that is, by most accounts, inexplicable as an unsupervised occurrence—three of us attend a sophisticated party uptown, and half way through the evening at the party we find a trout in the punch bowl. At this point, the three of us divide into three schools of thought. I think that Smith, a practical joker, put it there; our friend Murphy thinks that Jones, the avant-garde performance artist, put it there; and you think that it has simply shown up as the result of natural forces. My central point is not to interact with the truth or falsity of your naturalistic position—except perhaps through the use of this absurd example of the punchbowl—but rather to show that you are arguing for something completely different from what Murphy and I are arguing. We all have an explanation but your explanation is of a different kind altogether.

The differences between two of us (between Murphy and me) concern who put the trout in the lunchbowl. The difference between the both of us together and you is over whether someone put a trout in the punchbowl. And who and whether represent different questions entirely. Quite apart from who is right and who is wrong about this, it is important to note that we are not disagreeing in the same way or over the same kind of issue at all.

So when an atheist says "you understand why I don't believe in your god when you understand why you don't believe in other gods", atheist is missing a point. Both christians and muslims believe in a god, they are just disagreeing on whose version of god is true. We, atheists, cannot see any evidence to support ANY god. Wilson is right that who and whether are two different questions. However one of these questions (whether there is a god) must be answered first before asking which god to believe.

The sticky point is the burden of proof. From a pure logical angle, the burden of proof is with the claimant. There is no way for anyone to disprove anything which is only in the mind of the claimant. However, I can also agree that there is NO way any religion can prove the existence of a god which will/can intervene with the natural laws.

The demand of the proof is that it must be objective, repeatable and observable. For any miracle to be "repeatable", it is no longer miracle. When under a certain condition, a miracle *always* happens, then it is no longer miracle. It is just a scientific observable data. Millions of miracles are happening everyday everywhere, e.g. calling someone up using your mobile phone, life saving operations in the hospitals etc. They are no longer in the realm of religion.

Since there is no way religious people can demonstrate their imaginary god, we have to settle to other means of resolving the issue.

For me, if anything needs a creator, the creator also needs a creator. Since it is impossible, the conclusion I have is there is no creator. This settle the "whether" part. The rest flows logically and simply. The "who" does not worth asking.

The origin of universe and then the origin of life are unsolved questions. But I refuse to substitute "god" as a solution because, as pointed out above, that begs the question who created god, and who created the creator who created god,...

Even if a creator were to exist, the chance that the creator would be interested in human's daily activities is non-existence. The jump from a cosmic god to a personal god as claimed by the religious is another huge mental gymnastic no rational mind can perform.

The fact that Wilson pointed out this difference in Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation does not prove anything.

I will discuss other parts of Wilson's book in the future.

Atheists 'not fully human', says Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor

Cormac Murphy O'Connor is now on the list of dishonest people whom I do no respect.

03 November 2009

Moral Authority

In a written debate between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson on "Is Christianity Good for the World?" which led to a book
of the same name, and a movie COLLISION: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson, they discussed a range of issues. I like to focus on the moral authority in this post.

Wilson asked Hitchens to clarify the source of authority for atheists' moral. Let me put it this way. Moral standard is a moving goal, as human civilisation progresses, the moral standards, as reasonably expected should improve. Take for instance the case of human slavery. While the old testament supported such actions, in today's society, it is generally considered immoral to own slave, let along the practice of slave trafficking.

While Wilson claims the bible provides an absolute standard and authority for human moral, I disagree. Chinese, with a 5000+ years of written history, has been guided morally by the teaching of Confucius in the last 2500+ years. Arguing that it takes christianity to establish moral for a society is an insult to 1/5 of the world's population. Many of the practices from the bible is considered barbaric today. How can we, with consistency, ever expect a rational being to seek moral guidance from a collection of books written almost two thousand years ago (by authors who were not from the leading civilisation at that time) with no knowledge of today's social situation?

The moral code established in the bible is barbaric and out of date. The current moral code in most countries today is much more advanced than the limited christian moral. Hitchens has pointed out in his book the biggest mis-teaching in the new testament is vicarious redemption.

My stance is clear. There is no absolute moral standard. Moral is established socially, driven by our survival innate ability to care, empathise and be passionate.

01 November 2009


Bible is a 'handbook of bad morals'

The 1998 Literature Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago said, as quoted by news agency Lusa.
The Bible is a manual of bad morals (which) has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different, and probably better people. [source]

It takes a Nobel-laureate to tell the truth which everyone knows to get reported by the news.