31 March 2010

Scientific literacy of USA religious

It really amaze me to find so many religious completely mistrust scientists.

If you try something, it did not work and nothing has changed. You won't use the same method again. You would try something else. That's because there is evidence that the previous method did not work. Repeating the same method over and over again will not change the outcome. If it did not work, it would not work. People know that. That's obvious. That is decision based on evidence.

How is it possible that when it is a matter of religion, things are the opposite?

We used to believe that the earth is flat. We used to believe that we are at the centre of the universe. Now both ideas were rejected because evidence just do not support such view.

When astronomers observe the stars, put the star light through a spectroscope and look at the spectrum. While similar to those found on earth, the star spectrum shifted slightly towards the red. They call this red shift. This is observable anywhere, anytime by anybody. [Granted there is a nearby galaxy which exhibit blue shift instead of red shift.] Can religious deny such observation fact? It seems to be they do. They do not *believe* that. Correct use of the word "believe" because it is not based on evidence.

Ultimately, the red shift is one of the key factor pointing to an expanding universe and hence supported the big bang theory.

Using the god hypothesis - that god created the universe and everything in it in 6 days, what does that god hypothesis gives us? Nothing. It does not explain the red shift. It does not explain why when the TV stations are turned off, you see the random noise on the TV screen. On the other hand, the big bang theory explains both the red shift and the cosmic background radiation, the direction of the latter to 1 part in 100,000. If the flood has really occurred during the time of Noah, it would be unthinkable that men at the time would be able to build an ark large enough to hold 2 of every animals on earth. It would not be done today. The size specified in the bible is hardly large enough! It is definitely impossible some 3000 year ago, both in terms of the material and the ability to travel around the world to collect all the animals. If the flood water was global, where has the water gone?

In light of these contradictions, what I would expect from the religious is that they will claim the stories in the bible are metaphorical. We should not interpret every word of it literally. You guess what, no, many still claims the bible to be true literally. OMG! (Oh, my goodness!)

29 March 2010

Is Satan a Catholic?

Christian story in a paragraph

Christian believe that their petty god, set the human up in the Eden garden with fruit in the middle of the garden. Being all knowing, this nasty god let a talking snake tempted Eve to eat the fruit and then blamed human for being disobedient while giving human free will. After he got the human out of the Eden garden, he continued to harass human. He is nosy on every tiny tiny bits of human thoughts. He could not just forgive the human's sin. He took all the trouble of sending himself, as his own son, born of a virgin to earth. Got himself tortured and died on a horrible torture instrument as a sacrifice for himself. This god/son/human then came back from death and raised to heaven, which was when bible was written above, but because we know now that earth is spherical, some believe into the outer space. This nasty god also bully our fellow human to believing in him, else threaten to send us to an eternal fire.

This unfair, blood-thirsty, unjust bully, luckily does not exist.

27 March 2010

Anybody Who Gives You a Belief System is Your Enemy

Consolation is opium.

Blind faith leads to ...

Christian god's bully

From a participant of a forum on Amazon:
This also my primary complaint against Christianity: the tactic being used is one of bullying. It is the "You are for me or against me" type of argument. What about the "I don't care what you do, leave me out of it" argument. If a person wants to go to heaven, great; go to hell, no problem; but I want neither. And I really, REALLY, do not want some cosmic bully punishing me for the crime of not kissing his butt!!

Totally agree. The christian god is petty and nasty. They say god gives us free will. Before the end of the sentence, they then say, you must belief in their bullshit, else you will be in eternal fire. Where is the promised free will?

The amount of irrationality exhibited by the religious right is jaw-dropping. Especially in relation to USA. She is a country capable to send men onto Moon and back safely. Yet, the science literacy level is so so low in the general public. If she was not a country with so many weapons of mass destruction, if she was not the largest economy and creating the huge amount of pollution, I really do not give it a shit and just be happy to leave her die alone from stupidity. We, all, live on this single planet and we are mutually dependent. How can we get some sanity back to the USA public?

26 March 2010

Religion debate

The debate of religion basically are around two cores: god's existence and moral.

On god's existence, religious know that they cannot prove the existence of god. They go round and round arguing and demanding proof of non-existence.

On moral, anthropology has already shown that all society have some core values which are not necessarily derived from religion. For 5000 years, Chinese were mainly ancestor worship and were the leading civilisation until about 500 years ago when Chinese closed the border and the West caught up and passed. Arguing moral coming from a god obviously does not work. Many religious ask where "absolute morality' come from. Moral standard, IMO, is a social construct. As social animal, we instinctively know how to operate within a social environment. Out of the social norm will not make survival any easier. As social mature and become more humane, many previous accepted practices, e.g. slaves and capital punishment, are rejected. This is moral progress. Religion remains on the most hindering force in the continue progress. Recent example is the abortion, condom use, stem cell research and so on.

The wealth and political influence of religion is obviously historical. To move forward, we need to educate more people, enabling them to dispel all the myths and acknowledge the great contribution of Science has made towards understanding of the world around us. Rationality needs a voice to offset the privileges which society has granted the religious due to history reasons. Science needs to come to the centre stage and take control of the public opinion. Frankly, we are like frogs living in a pot over fire. The water will boil. By the time we find it too hot to be comfortable, it may be too late to escape.

The marriage of religion with American's right-wing politics is dangerous to the world - not just to their own citizens. The following are out-dated models now: economic models based on growth instead of sustainability, focussing on short-term political gains instead of looking for results beyond the election cycles, believing the magic hand of free enterprising - whose only focus is generation of wealth for the stakeholders, neglect of the common good, dumping waste into the atmosphere, rivers and oceans, and treating environment as an externalities. Resources are finite. Ideas can grow exponentially, but not material. Short term election cycles lead to government extremely short-sighted. There is only one planet Earth. Until we are able to migrate to some other places, this is our home. The natural system can only handle that much. We have really "f*cked" up the atmosphere badly. The science is clear.

It is amazing to see how the USA education system continues to produce citizens whose scientific understanding is so little. Granted USA still possesses a great talent pool. The general public's understanding of the world around us is poor that it is not funny any more.

25 March 2010

USA constitution

A beauty of USA constitution is that it protects your right to be stupid. However, it also protects the right of others to laugh at your stupidity. I am referring to the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

23 March 2010

Evidence of god

Here it is again from a discussion forum on Amazon. A very patient Michael Altarriba answering some questions from a christian. My additional comments in bold.

Do you only consider what you can see, hear, feel, and smell to exist?


Is this your evidence?

There's all kinds of evidence that isn't the direct stimulation of my sense organs.

We now know that a magnetic field surrounds our planet Earth. However, we don't have any sensory organ which can detect the magnetic field. We know the existence of the magnetic field through the effect of the magnetic field on magnetized objects. Science extends our sensory inputs. Many science disciplines also quantify the observed effects and record the effect as is. The interpretation of the data is open for anyone interested - and have access to the data.

What would evidence for God be for you, and why would you trust it?

Good question: I guess that depends on exactly how you define the word "God". Tell me what the word means to you, and I'll tell you what I'd like to see in the way of evidence.

But, really, since *you* are the one who believes that the word "God" refers to something which exists, perhaps you can simply tell me why you believe that word has the meaning it has...

Do you assume God does not exist because you have no evidence for God existing?

Well, I can't claim to *know* that no Deities exist, but, since I don't see any good evidence that any of them exist, I take the *provisional* position that they don't, just as I do for unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, etc.

If so, why?

Parsimony: using the simplest explanation that fits the facts. It's my preference.

Are there not a lot of things that you have no evidence for existing?

Sure... the aforementioned leprechauns, unicorns, fairies, and many other things.

Or, do you just say maybe God exists, maybe He does not?

I say I have no good reason to believe that any Deities exist, so I live my life as if they don't.

The problem with many religious is that they do not see 'god existence' as a provable fact. Since they cannot prove god's existence, many turn around and put the illogical demands on the atheists. If god exists, it must be able to be proven. Just like anything which exists, someone can find a proof of its existence. Atoms is a good example. We cannot see it, we cannot feel it, but it is everywhere and it is the fundamental building blocks of the natural world. The existence of atom has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. So if god exists, there must be a way to prove it. If no proof is found, the default position is that it does not exists.

The logic of prove of non-existence has long been settled. Demanding proof of non-existence is a demonstration of the lack of understanding of the working of logic.

Instead, I ask "What reason can you give me for believing that God exists?" you say. Why do you ask me this?

Because you claim to believe that "God" exists. Many other people believe in Deities, too. So, since you're *here*, virtually speaking, I'm asking you for your reasons.

Interestingly, this thread is started by this religious. The title of the thread is "How can an intelligent person actually believe that he can prove God does not exist?" Ditto above. An intelligent person does not need to prove the non-existence of god(s). No proof, no god. That's is logical default position. Until there is evidence of god, I am in the position that there is no god. I don't need any proof that there is no god. Those who claim there is a god need to produce the evidence to support their claim.

I am not your proof God does not exist, just because I cannot prove God does exist.

As always, I don't ask for proof... I ask for evidence. Have any?

Instead, I ask "What reason can you give me for believing that God 'DOES NOT' exist?" Could your answer be, no evidence? Yes it could,...

Indeed, it is.

... but as I have said a number of times, you having no evidence, does not mean evidence will not be procured in the future. Does it?

If and when it is, I'll evaluate it.

It took mankind 3 million years to prove atoms and germs existed.

We collected evidence to support the assertion that things we call atoms and germs exist.

Where is your equivalent evidence for the existence of Deities? And, if you don't have any, why believe?

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

Harris touched upon several important issues which I like to highlight:
1. Why have we spent more time on gay marriages instead of tackling global poverty which billions are currently under and millions are in constant hunger?
2. Why don't we discuss more on the current existing stockpile of nuclear war heads (in USA, UK, Russia, India, Pakistan, China etc.) and the danger than they impose on human civilisation?
3. Why can't we focus on global climate change which can potentially lead to the destruction of our current civilisation if we don't act in time to reverse the current path?

The science underpinning moral could be neurology. The discovery of "mirror neurons" enabled us to explain why we feel empathy. If our actions result in someone feeling bad, we are able to feel this as well - with the help of the mirror neurons. Obviously, our psychological reactions are modified through our life-long social immersion in the culture we have grown up. As Harris correctly points out, an evidence-based study would lead to an objective understanding of morality.

The religious-coloured lens through which we view moral today is obviously biased. Being an atheist all my life, I view moral very differently than many who are bought up to belong to a religion.Global climate is constantly bothering me. I am frustrated with the politicians protecting 'self-interest' and denying the strong science pointing to the path of self-destruction we are on.

21 March 2010

A few email exchanges between a parent and school chaplain

A parent received a school children attending an Easter activity permission slip, with the box permission granted pre-click. The exchanges between the parent and the school chaplain is very entertaining and worthy of your time, much better than playing online games while procrastinating.

19 March 2010

Good and bad

Here is a snippet of discussion happening over Amazon's discussion forum. This is an atheist (Michael Altarriba) answering a few questions posted by a religious. I agree mostly with Michael. My additional remarks are in bold.

What do you base this objective good or bad on?

First, I don't think my views would be what you call 'objective', in that I don't believe what I see as being "good" and "bad" must be what every other human believes, too. I think it would be a good idea, but I don't claim to know the one true universal definition of "Good" or "Bad"... because I don't believe such a universal exists.

To answer the question - "What do you base this objective good or bad on?" - I base it on my empathy, my reason, the observation of the consequences of the ideas of "good" and "bad" that have been followed by others, and other factors.

Moral is relative conditioned by two sets of factors.  The existence of "mirror neurons" enables us to have empathy and passion. This is the inner factor.  The other factor is social, culturally developed through our life, both from daily interactions with other fellow human beings and from reading.  Every one is slightly different.  But in general, within a culture, the moral values would be quite similar. The good and bad is sometimes coded into laws.  We may not agree with some of laws(e.g. I don't agree with the copyright laws), but we still be obliged to keep them.

Who defined or set the standards for what constitutes good and bad?

I defined mine. You defined yours. We, as a culture, collectively make definitions by the way we think and act.

Again, there are two sets of moral codes on which our actions are based. There is a person moral standards we adhere to.  There is a social standard which has mostly been codified into laws. Rebellious teenagers, as a rite to maturity, will challenge the social moral values while their own personal moral values are forming.

What if someone disagrees with your definition of good and bad, who's right, objectively speaking?

There is no "objectively speaking"... there are just different ideas that we would like to resolve.

We need to learn to agree to disagree.  We need to be able to respect other's opinion.

If something is bad that means that we shouldn't do it.

I think I shouldn't do it. You may disagree. Such is life.

When an action violated our personal moral code while not violated the social moral codes, we should just accept it and respect the right of others to be different. However, when the action violated the social codified values, as a responsible citizens, the action should be reported and let the authority deal with the situation.

Who says we shouldn't do it?

We each have to figure that out for ourselves. Again, such is life.

No one is going to hand us a magical set of rules to follow, and thus absolve us of the responsibility of figuring it out for ourselves, and of accepting the consequences of our own actions.

Again, the socially codified laws should be respected.  Here is the main difference between me and Michael. I acknowledge the set of socially established and codified moral standards.

The inverse is also true that if something is good that means we should conduct ourselves in that way. Why? Who says we should?

I have my own ideas as to how people should conduct themselves. You have your ideas. Somehow or other, we figure out how to co-exist without killing or enslaving each other... or, as in times past, we *do* kill or enslave each other.

Reality is not tidy.

Again subject to the restrictions as established in laws.

Maybe we just understand these terms differently. How do you define 'good' and 'bad'? And would that make a difference?

Good: that which promotes the formation and existence of a world in which everyone is healthy, happy, knowledgeable, wise, and fully self-actualized.

Bad: that which detracts from the formation and existence of a world in which everyone is healthy, happy, knowledgeable, wise, and fully self-actualized.

My overall additional comments:
Moral is relative in two senses: individually and contextually. I have explained the individual relative moral values above - as a result of our own biological basis of empathy and passion as well as the social circumstances while we develop our moral system. The second contextual can be illustrated by an example. During WWII, should you habour a Jew in Germany. It was against the law - the socially codified law - but may have violated your personal moral values. A normally law-biding moral person may choose to break the social law. This is moral relativity on the context.


Magic is an honest lie. People know you are lying, but you have made it clear that it is a trick. Just whether you can see it transparently.

The second half of this video shows you how it is actually done.

Not everyone is so forthcoming about how a magic is done. That's fine, as long as it is an honest lie.

The problem is there are people who lie, also for a living, but in a totally different way.

Religious healing has never worked. Watch how father Jonathan still emphasises the healing power of god. How much hypocrisy is showner?

18 March 2010

Unquotable Quote

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11.1
Blind faith makes for religion. The bible makes us dumb.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. - Hebrews 11.4
So righteousness is a function of sacrifice to god. What kind of moral teaching is that!

Argumental - God Will Not Forgive Richard Dawkins

SBS Dateline Interview with Richard Dawkins 7/3/2010

Purpose of life

The "purpose" of life is a result of the laws of thermodynamics. Planet earth is NOT a closed system. Sun light falls on it (until our sun dies out). The entropy needs to increase. Initially, the balance is achieved via physical processes (radiation etc.). Then chemical processes kick in. Molecules are formed using that energy. The biology started. Life is a form of dissipation of energy. The purpose of biological life is to reproduce. Plant makes use of the sunlight to produce the food it needs to produce more plant. Animals find it convenient to eat plant instead of doing the photosynthesis. Social animals adapts better because knowledge is shared and stored in the society. Human society, as an example, is full of "knowledge artefacts". Computer, Internet are examples of knowledge being used by common people. You and me may not have directly contributed to the *actual* building of the computer, however because we are part of the society (it is now global), we share the invention by other members of the society. In other words, human society is more efficient in fulfilling the second law of thermodynamics and hence we are populating the planet earth at great pace.

Our purpose of life is fundamentally driven by the law of thermodynamics and the evolution history.

I see the role of religion at this point of evolution as a parasite to the society. Religious organisations are just organisation trying to amass wealth and political power - for the purpose of continuing to amass wealth and political power. In the process, a lot of people are fooled into believing a human invention (god). The sad thing is that these believers are helping the religious organisations to spread false promises and unsupported claims.

A side effect of organisations amassing wealth and power (commercial organisations mainly focus on wealth only) is the divisive effect of us and others. Histories have ample examples of how religion caused wars and suffering of many.

It is about time for human to grow up and get rid of religion. We can expect these religious organisations to mount a fight for their survival and it will become nasty and dirty.

On the scale of religious...

Even atheist poster boy Richard Dawkins, on a scale of 1 (believes in god) to 7 (atheist) describes himself as a 6.9. [source]
On Dawkins' scale, I am at 7.

Leaving that 0.1 at the end gives the religious too much benefit of doubt. Why it is when on the issue of god, which has no proof of its existence, that I need to leave the last 0.1 of doubt? When evidence of god comes, I can switch from 7 to 1 upon validating the evidence. That's the benefit of a person living the life based on evidence. :-)

17 March 2010

"The laws of god" overrides the laws of man!  This is a very dangerous teaching. Who has ever got an instruction from god direct?  "The laws of god" are only the doctrines perpetuated by those with self interest to spread hate, falsehood and false hope.

Women who need to make a decision about abortion are at a very difficult situation. A wholesale rejection of abortion is childish and demonstrate a lack of understanding. This is a serious issue. But the following is a light-hearted quote...

From a reviewer of the book linked at the left on Amazon  wrote:
The very best way to solve this ethical dilemma is not to argue with one another; but rather, to ask, "WWTVMD?" (i.e., What would the Virgin Mary Do?"

On 21 March, 1 BCE, came a day that forever altered the course of cosmic and human history: "Conception Day." That's when the Son of God and the holy Ghost of God came down from Heaven together - the Ghost to impregnate the Virgin Mary, and the Son (Jesus), to become her precious little fetus. Born in Bethlehem on Christmas morning, the Son of God remained on the planet for the next thirty years, preaching hellfire and performing wonders. At age 30, after an especially difficult weekend in Jerusalem, he said goodbye to his disciples and returned home, ascending skyward in a cumulus cloud, not to be seen again until the 21st century and the end of the world.

Today, any fourteen-year old unmarried Jewish girl, upon learning she was pregnant, would sneak into a clinic and demand to have an abortion. If Mary had committed that sin, nipping her pregnancy in the bud, the Son of God would have been bounced safely back to Heaven, sparing him a lot of earthly suffering - but it would have cost humanity the greatest gift God ever gave to the world, which is the gift of potential forgiveness for sins if you just meet certain conditions. The whole Christian religion could have been snuffed out before it began! Which, in the view of many, is a strong argument against abortion. (Don't look at me: I'm "the devil," a feminist, and pro-choice.)

16 March 2010

Australian Constitution - Section 116

Australian Constitution - Section 116 - Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

This is definitely not as strong as USA's state and church separation. But there are grounds to work with. There is an ongoing high court challenge for a federally funded state program across Queensland where federally funded school chaplains may conduct Christian prayers on all-school assembly; at significant school ceremonies; hold lunchtime prayer/Bible study sessions and engage with students in the classroom, playground, school excursions, school camps and sport. Chaplains oversee and conduct Religious Instruction classes and on-campus church-designed and run programs including Hillsong 'Shine' which connect children with evangelistic off-campus clubs, programs and camps.

Donation towards this high court challenge is available at http://www.highcourtchallenge.com/

15 March 2010

How can an intelligent person actually believe that he can prove God does not exist?

I cannot account for or explain my own existence, but my parents can, and my grandparents my parents' existence, and my great-grandparents my grandparents' existence, etc. If I carry this regress back far enough, I arrive at a first set of human parents, who cannot account for or explain their own existence, who must have been brought into existence by a being who is self-explanatory (and also infinite, eternal, independent, self-existent, and all the other traditional attributes of deity). In philosophical terms, the existence of contingent beings implies the existence of a necessary beings, one of the classical and traditional theistic proofs. - George T. Thompson
My response:
Well, you are however slightly different from your parents. Your parents are slightly different from their parents. We are evolving. To say that by regression, the first pair of human must be human is wrong. Homo sapiens share common ancestor with other hominds, great apes etc. which in term share common ancestor with othr animals and plants and so on.

In philosophical terms, one cannot prove non-existence of any object. It is up to those who claim god exists to proof that god exists. But here are a few simple steps to show the unlikelihood of god's existence.

1. Assume God created the universe.
2. God either created the universe and let it run its course, or intervene when necessary.
3a. A non-intervening god is what Einstein called a "cosmic god". It is not the personal god commonly referred to in most religion. Such a non-intervening god, if exists, does not make any difference to physical laws and our daily activities. By Ockham razor, we can ignore the existence of god.
3b. God is intervening. That means god answers prayers.
4. Prayers do not work.
5. Hence God does not exist.

Christianity in a Nutshell

Christian Religion Education in Victoria, Australia

I have the same problem when my daughter in a public primary school. I am being more knowledgeable about the religious influences in Australia. In simple words, religious is having TOO much privileges and influences. Teaching children at preparation level is child abuse. Lyvvie, I applaud your bravery to take your children out of the classes.

Forcing a religion into a child is considered a child abuse by United Nation: In 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, proclaiming elementary rights for children world-wide. Among other provisions, the convention safeguards children's religious freedom and their freedom of thought. [Forced Into Faith: How Religion Abuses Children's Rights]


The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see. - Huang Po

Compare the above with Psalms 14:1: The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

Evidence-based reasoning is the main contributing factor to human progress. When religious celebrate blind faith, science celebrate evidence and reason. Perception can be deceiving too. But "what you see" is always better than "what you think" when it comes to making decision. Observation needs to be repeatable, independent and verifiable. Deduction based on such evidence is how science works. It is also how intelligent being should work.

Have you seen any evidence of god?

14 March 2010

PZ Myers trying vegemite

Vegemite is a nutritious and versatile food. In fact, it's one of the world's richest sources of B group vitamins. B vitamins assist in converting carbohydrate, protein and fat in food into much needed energy for the body. [source]

ps at the 2010 Global Atheist Convention, PZ was funny, very very funny and entertaining. Well done!

13 March 2010

Global Atheist Convention

Today is the first day of Global Atheist Convention here in Melbourne, Australia. The speakers were all wonderful and it is great to meet so many like minded people.

One thing, thro', is the missed opportunity to have a Melbourne Declaration or Manifesto of some sort. I flagged the idea and here is the first draft (with help from the gentleman sitting next to me):
We, atheists meeting at the Global Atheist Convention at Melbourne, 2010 declare that:
(1) we celebrate reason,
(2) we treasure evidence, and
(3) we find all accounts of supernatural beings contradictory, without evidence and unbelievable.

Richard Dawkins on Q and A

When the politicians are cornered - because of their unreasoned faith - what do they do? Pull out the respect card. Richard Dawkins was accused of not being respectful to other's belief.

I believe people can believe whatever they want. However, free speech also enables us to ridicule these stupid beliefs. It is a fair game.

12 March 2010

Atheism ad in Melbourne

This is a bus-ad I took yesterday in Melbourne.

This is good that finally, Melbourne, like other big cities, has an atheism ad running. However, I think the ad is too lame.

The main concern I have is the impact of the ad. We, atheists, understand the importance of reason. We understand the role of evidence. We conduct our business daily with reason and logic. So the ad is very appealing to us.

The irony is that the theists also think that they are the side with reason too. They cannot see how illogical their position is. I am afraid this ad will not trigger them to think!

ps I will be attending the Melbourne Global Atheist Convention.  Will bring you some interesting talks later.

10 March 2010

Playing god

Quote from a Kiva lender:
My vote goes to “the ultimate human right of the 21st century.” Death is, after all, inevitable. Making choices about one’s last days should be nobody else’s business, most certainly in terminal and other untenable situations. Preventing a person’s choice to lessen their suffering is simply inhumane. We treat our pets better than that.

My first career was as an ICU nurse dealing with end-of-life situations as part of my job description for 20 years. Plugging somebody in to artificial "life-support" technology is certainly the act that would defy “god’s plan” (if there was a god and if we could somehow be privy to the minutia of that plan), not un-plugging them in clearly hopeless circumstances. Seeing it the other way around requires the same mental gymnastics people play when they (claim they) believe they survived being hit head on by a drunk driver only because god was watching over them. (Umm, why didn’t god take the drunk driver’s keys away or have them take a different route and prevent the crash in the first place?)

The argument to “not play god” is a euphemism for the rigid denial of another's right to choose anywhere along the life-death continuum: not placing one’s extremely premature infant on life support; refusal of a medical procedure; or end-of-life choices such as assisted-suicide. “Not playing god” is based in a paternalistic belief system where, ironically, the person/group arguing against assisted suicide (in an attempt to bolster their religious, and often political, position) is actually “playing god” over the individual’s right to self-determination.
Another lender has an experience worth sharing too...
About nine years ago I was diagnosed with The Big C...(I wont go into icky details of what kind!) What I think a lot of people dont realise is that a life lived in extreme pain is no life at all...that pain becomes all consuming and there is really no point to your existence at that stage, you just become a sad shadow of the person you used to be and face the prospect of living like that till you die. I remember very clearly telling close friends that if the last round of treatment didnt work I would be ending it. And then facing the sad reality that I would have to die alone as my friends would be guilty of a criminal act (in Australia) if they kept me company at the end. Well, thanks to modern medicine it didnt come to that (obviously!) but there is something very wrong when a person can't even choose to die peacefully and amongst friends.
Then more come in...
I do think that being able to choose to die with dignity is an ultimate human right. The circumstances where one might come to wish to choose this are highly varied. In the US, at least, we seem often to act as though death is optional, so we don’t need to talk about it or prepare, or think about the “under what circumstances might death came to be far preferable to me than to continue living?” I for one, have often said, borrowing from elsewhere, that I would like to have a locket with a pill inside, where the locket says, “If you can’t remember what this is for, take it.”

Thought to share two films I know of that portray some aspects of this issue. Neither is done as a documentary, and there’s a lot going on in them to carry the narrative thread along. I liked the first better than the second, as I recall, though it has been a while.

The Sea Inside
(Mar Adentro). Spanish film based on the life of Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic man who waged a 30 year campaign to be able to end his life with dignity.

Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares) Set in Canada, about a man with terminal cancer who wants his estranged son to help him end his life. Fiction.

- Anna Quindlen’s novel, One True Thing, has a protagonist who goes back home to care for her mother, who is dying of cancer, and ends up being charged with the mother’s murder. Quindlen in a wonderful writer, and explores a lot of emotional and relationship territory in this work.
- Lucy Grealy’s AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE, and her friend, Ann Patchett’s bio of Lucy, TRUTH AND BEAUTY. Lucy had Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 9, and radiation, chemo, and 30 operations to remove the cancer. The multiple efforts to reconstruct her jaw and face were not lasting. Lucy died at 39, her death ruled an accidental overdose. She had spiraled into drug abuse and had tried several times to kill herself. Grealy’s book was absorbing, well written, and an eye opener. Patchett’s book is on my “to read” list.

As a related but separate resource, I’d also like to recommend DYING, A NATURAL PASSAGE, by Denys Cope, RN. A friend sent the first edition when my bonus dad, was dying of pancreatic cancer. He also had some dementia. Unfortunately, the book didn’t arrive until the day after his death. I wish I’d had it months earlier and would have felt less at sea, despite his being in hospice the last few months. Still, it was very comforting, in that it affirmed some decisions we made and things I observed. I’ve bought copies at bulk rates directly from the author, and gradually given them away as friends have coped with a loved one in the process of completing a life’s journey. I also recommend it as something to have on your bookshelf long before you need to reread.

Cope is a long time Hospice nurse who feels that most folks (at least in the US) are about as knowledgeable about death and the process of dying as we used be years ago about pregnancy and childbirth. Lack of knowledge often results in fear and distress, on the part of both the dying person and family and friends. The first edition was a fast read. Helpful when the dying causes time pressures. Good to read before it’s needed. Cope’s website
Book also available on Amazon.com.

07 March 2010

Absence of Evidence

Philosophically, absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. There is no evidence of god, but we cannot be absolutely true that god does not exist.

Personally, I prefer "claims without proof can be dismissed without proof" as my working stance. In other words, if you claim god exists, you prove it, else I will just ignore whatever follows from the assumption that god exists.

Hitchens: The New Commandments

06 March 2010

God's non-existence, again!

Do I know god? I would say yes, I do. I know what the notion of god is. It is an entity the believers claim to have created everything. God has lots of love, but like blood and burn offerings. Does that make god real?

Am I sure god does not exist? No I don't need to. I am not sure whether pink unicorn exists or not. I am not sure whether fire blowing dragon exists or not. Do I have to explicitly seek knowledge to verify an unverifiable claim - by its definition, non-existence entity cannot be verified. So before anyone have valid proof of the existence of god, god does not exist.

Agnostic is an unnecessary position in light of the lack of proof for those who claim god exists. I find taking such a position is giving the religious too much benefit of doubt. Like anything, why god needs to be an exception when there is a demand of proof? No proof, no god.

05 March 2010


Certainly I see the scientific view of the world as incompatible with religion, but that is not what is interesting about it. It is also incompatible with magic, but that also is not worth stressing. What is interesting about the scientific world view is that it is true, inspiring, remarkable and that it unites a whole lot of phenomena under a single heading. - Richard Dawkins

I just like to add a qualification to Dawkins' quote. A scientific truth is a statement which has withstood tests *many* times done by many people, at many different places, at many different times. A scientific truth is true as long as no test has been found to invalid the statement. The scientific truth is a description of the natural world. It represents our human understanding of the objective nature of the natural world. If a valid proof has been established which contradicts a prevailing scientific statement, what is wrong is NOT the nature. What is wrong is our understanding of nature. For this, science is ready to accept a new statement, extending or expanding on the previously held science truth.

As such, a practising scientist is forever sceptical. Scientists are constantly reviewing established theories. It is to the interest of the scientific establishment to publish findings which break new grounds.

The climate deniers' notion of conspiracy among climate scientists to build up an argument for climate change reflects a misunderstanding of the mechanism of how science works. If someone can come up with a valid argument, testable and repeatable by others to demonstrate that there is no climate warming, this someone will be viewed as a hero and will establish fame never seen before.

The correlation between atmospheric CO2 and global mean temperature is well understood. There is a few decades' lag behind due to the huge thermal mass of earth. The current concentration of CO2 are at unseen level for hundred of thousands of years. The atmospheric CO2 is caused by human activities can be verified by examining the relative amount of Carbon-14. In nature, radiocarbon is formed when high energy atomic particles called cosmic rays break down the atoms in the atmosphere into electrons, protons, neutrons and other particles. Some of the neutrons strike the nuclei of nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere get converted into radiocarbon atoms. [source] Having a half-life of 5600 years, an equilibrium has been reached. Living organisms exchanging carbon with the atmosphere will have a carbon-14 concentration similar to the atmospheric Carbon-14 concentration. However, once the organism is dead, the exchange with atmospheric carbon will stop. The carbon-14 fixed in the dead organism will proceed with its radioactive decay as normal. Hence, the fossil fuel will have a lower carbon-14 concentration than the equilibrium. By comparing the atmospheric carbon-14 concentration to those about 200 years ago, scientists are able to confirm that the CO2 currently in our atmosphere came from the fossil fuel.

Over the last 400,000 years, atmospheric CO2 averages between 180 to 210 ppm (parts per million by volume). Since 1800, the CO2 concentration has been increasing. Today it is about 385ppm. The optimistic estimate is that if human wants to keep the global warming below 2oC, the concentration needs to be kept below 350ppm. That is we have already exceeded the safe level.

The last global financial crisis has taken away the focus we have been building up in order to reach a global agreement on how to save ourselves. Until we refocus, we are going to see the current known civilisation coming to an end.

Life and death

I have no choice when I came into this world. My parents gave me the life - their choice. No matter how life has confronted me, I am forever grateful for the chance of this experience. I am really lucky too, to be born as a member of the most developed species on this planet. I also really lucky that I was born after WWII and have enjoyed a peaceful life.

After birth, I am on my journey to eventual death. I believe when I die, my body will disintegrate and my mind will just go blank - a sleep which never wakes again.

At the early age, the problem of death is not apparent. After all, unless some accident which may take my life, I was expecting to live for quite a while yet. The issue of death is whether there is a cause which I am willing to give up my life for. Obviously, I have found none and I am still alive today. This world, however, has created situations where someone is willing to die for a cause. This is insane!

Some point in time, eventually, the question will switch over to whether there is anything that's worth living for. The evolution duty is to reproduce. I have passed that stage now. I want to see my daughter grow up - almost there. When my health, not that I am now, is at a stage when life is miserable, causes a lot of troubles to people around me and as I look around there is nothing that life is worth living, do I have the right to say "yes, this is it".

That's about the right of making one's final decision. Who has the right to stop this?

When a patient is on life-support, in obvious pain, has nothing worth living, who has the right to stop this patient to ask for switching off the life-support system? Some may say that one should not play god. Well the life-support system is playing god. Without it, the patient would have died. Why it is so difficult for a terminally ill patient to make a final decision for himself? What right one has to stop this person to make that choice?

Blame the victim: Religious leaflet claims ‘ungodly’ dressed women provoke rape

“Even though nothing is showing, you’re being ungodly,” Canter recalled the woman telling her. “You make men want to be sinful.”
“Blaming victims is the way we who have not been victimized feel safer,” Rasnake said. “If it’s their fault then I’m safer because I wouldn’t do that. If someone steals your purse, can you imagine someone asking why you had a purse? If you are sexually assaulted, it is not because you come with breasts.”

Obviously I believe all the religious readers of my blog will agree that the 'blaming victim' is a non-Christian act. Unfortunately, the problem is that once the bible is claimed to be the words of god, anyone can claim moral authority based on *any* interpretation of the text no matter how much the society has advanced in the last 2000 years.

02 March 2010

I have a heart of stone...

The religious always introduce some terms which I cannot understand. One of this is "soul". Another is many religious accuse atheists, like me, have a "heart of stone" and cannot accept their gospel. How can I soften my heart to accept non-sensible ideas?

A commenter on Ray Comfort's blog post this:
My question is specifically, what made/makes you able to soften your heart and let the God in and not me? Is it a physical, biological, mental mechanism that is holding me back, or is it a spiritual issue i.e., my soul.

If it's the former, what is it? A brain tumor? A pituitary issue? Hammer toe? Lack of natural rhythm?

Or if it's the latter, my soul. How does that work? Why does my soul cause me to reject God? What controls my soul? Are we all a completely blank slate when we are born and our souls are shaped by experience? How does my brain interact with my soul? What are the defining features that all souls share, and what features are individual to me?
If I am not a blank soul, what is my starting state? What do I(everyone) inherently have and what do I acquire over the course of my life? Clearly, if this is the case, I did not start with a inherent belief in God, as I have never believed, as far back as I can remember, I have been a non believer. My parents are believers, all of our neighbors and friends etc ... So you can't say I was brain washed into my non belief. Where did my lack of belief come from? If it was there from the beginning, it's not my fault, it is part of soul. If it's something I learned, why is my soul capable of non belief and what is my soul missing that yours isn't that would allow me to come over to your side?

01 March 2010

Feeling dumb lately?

Here are some quotes to cheer you up.

Q: If you could live forever, would you and why?
A: I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever. - Miss Alabama, 1994 Miss USA contest

"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff,“ - Mariah Carey

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life…” - Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body,“ --Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,“ --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC.

"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president,“ -Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents.

"That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it,“ -A congressional candidate in Texas.

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.“ -John Wayne

"Half this game is ninety percent mental." -Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.“ -- Al Gore, (then) Vice President of the USA

"It's no exaggeration to say that the undecided could go one way or another” -George Bush, US President

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.“ -Bill Clinton, Former US President

"Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances." -Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina

"If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record." -Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman

The beer prayer

by Unknown
Our lager,
Which art in barrels,
Hollowed be thy drink.
I will be drunk,
At home as in the tavern.
Give us this day our foamy head,
And forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill against us.
And lead us not into incarceration,
But deliver us from hangovers.
For thine is the beer. The bitter and the lager
Forever and ever (optional),


Life is full of competing priorities. How one places one before another is completely a personal decision. This person is requesting a USD350 loan to pay for the cost of having his son baptized. He will pay for the church service, a celebration for the guests, and buy his son a smart suit.

Well his wishes was granted. He got his loan with a 32% interest.

I want to offer help to those who are needy. But I am not one of those who helped to fund this loan.

ps I understand why one should pay for the food and smart suit for one's kid. Why the church would charge for baptising? Another source of funding for [???]