30 November 2011

re: Apologies and Forgiveness

Please read the original post before reading my comment below.

OK, you have read the post, go ahead continue reading...

My position of moral is that one should avoid making mistakes. When mistakes are made, one has to live with the consequences of the mistake. The right to forgive and move on is not with the wrong-doer even in face of a sincere apology. Whether the victim agrees to forgive is completely moral independent. That's the point I beg to differ with Alonzo Fyfe:
I believe all of the elements of a sincere apology have been met. From this, the only legitimate option is to accept that apology. Refusing to do so is unjust. Refusing to do so because one holds GelatoGuy personally responsible for a culture over which he has no control compounds the injustice.

PZ has the absolute right to refuse to accept an apology even if the apology was given sincerely. PZ was hurt and if PZ decided to live with the memory of such a hurt and refused to forgive, it is nothing immoral. Hurt was done - although the pain might have subsided.

Is culture to blame? May be and may be not. Culture is a co-creation by all the participants of the culture. The GelatoGuy may be gullible and may have fallen victim to the culture in which he was brought up. He could blame the culture AND then learnt to change the culture. But he did make a mistake and I commend him with the courage to apologize.

Forgiveness is the path for the victim to move on. The wrong-doer did the damage and has to face up with consequences - including consequences that some will not accept the apology.

While I encourage victims to forgive, but the assertion that not accepting a sincere apology is immoral is itself immoral.

29 November 2011

Questions for the Catholics...

Pedophilia Priesthood

24 November 2011

ABC Nightline: The Atheist and Her Brain - Margaret Downey

23 November 2011

Was Linda Katechi sincere?

As the Chancellor of a University, was she naive enough to believe that police would not use inappropriate force? If yes, she did not deserve to be the Chancellor. If no, she did not deserve to be the Chancellor.

Hindsight is always prefect. But the moral call, which is the critical attribute of a leader, is not to commit wrong so that hindsight would be unnecessary. That's the leadership. Has Lida Katechi demonstrated sufficient leadership to remain as the chancellor of any university?

As the police retreat, was it clear who were on the moral high ground? The cowardice of the police was in plain sight. When it was a few students, they used excessive brutality. When they were out-numbered, they just retreated and could not stand up for what they were supposed to do in the first place.

cross posted to Random Walk in Learning

What can USA citizens do?

I left Hong Kong after witnessing what had happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989

Now this is happening to USA citizens [source]:

Has the government overstepped the rights of citizens? Is the brutality towards peaceful demonstrators justifiable? Are there government officials condemning the police violence [read this to understand what the pray really is.]? What has a free society become?

What we should be thankful for?

Compare this

with this very limited view

This distorted christian view is damaging the world.


I have been following the saga of the bigoted gelato guy story unfolded remotely in the comfort of my home in Melbourne Australia.

Now that the flame has died down a little, let me throw in my observation.

Andy, the gelato's owner took down the sign only after putting it up for a short time (according to the apology issued by Andy) at the meantime the above photo went viral and his store's online rating crumpled. There are basically two camps on the atheist blogosphere - those did not accept the apology (PZ and JT) and those did (Jen and Hemant) as noted by Adam Lee

To me, an apology should be accompanied by a behavioral change to rectify the wrong. So my question is "Has the store owner demonstrated an understanding of what was the wrong and made an effort to rectify the wrong?" Another question is what is the motivation of the apology?

If the atheist community did not have the leverage of lowering his store online rating, would he issue the apology?

Of course, we can only guess at what actually was in his mind and we are not thought police. From his latest apology, Andy was also offering a 10% to customers in this week - oh, that said a lot of what was going on in his mind. To me, apology not accepted. His motivation is whitewashing and damage control. As JT Eberhard put it, he should have said something along the following lines.

Bigotry is unacceptable. Offense is not the same as breathing life into prejudice. Punishing somebody for disagreeing with you or thinking your beliefs are silly is immoral. Making a donation that will actually help make the world a better place rather than inviting us to patronize your business for an insignificant discount.

Another point I would like to raise is the immoral concept of the Christian forgiveness. The immoral teaching that one can forgive oneself and move on is absolutely wrong. The offended has the right to forgive and move on, but the offender doesn't have any right to forgive himself/herself. When a wrong is done, it is done. There is nothing that can be done to undo the wrong. Remorse is the first step to recovery and to become a better self. Understand what was wrong and make positive steps not to offend again. We can learn from mistakes only when we are still in school (an artificial environment created to tolerate mistake to happen without serious consequences). In life, mistake is mistake. One has to live with the consequences of any mistake. In this case, I cannot see any sign Andy would be doing to become better. He has not started the first step.

17 November 2011

Atheist Fundamentists

If there is a form of atheism which could be labelled as fundamental, I would be a card carrying member of such a group. The fact is that there is no such thing as fundamental atheists which some like to claim there is. By definition, atheism is the position that there is no sufficient evidence to support a belief that there is a god. Atheism does not have canonical texts which every atheist must study and adhere to. No, such text does not exist and there is no fundamentalist in this aspect.

As for assuming the position of the opposition in a debate, many do take the initial assumption that the opposition is a fundamentalist. If the opposition found such position is absurd and/or not his/her position, many are happy to adjust the assumption accordingly. Obviously arguing against a fundamentalist position is much easier - the level of absurdity are just low hanging fruits. The position of "sophisticated" liberal theist may be trickier. They typically use convoluted word trickery to avoid facing the absurdity head-on and most would have been practicing such mental gymnastic for sometime already.

In many of the debates I have watched, almost no theist managed to define god. That makes a fuzzy target to aim the argument. One way to nail them down is to make them acknowledge the god in question is the god described in the old testament.

The difficulty is those new-age theists who believe in a really fuzzy imagination and acknowledge that the bible may be wrong. Many of them are actually logic-illiterate - unable to reason with sound logic. Hitchens treatment to these are really entertaining.

As for the accusation of "evangelistic" nature of some more out-spoken atheists, I would say this. I, as an example, felt the pain of the failure of education to educate modern citizens and enable them to get rid of the shackle of religious bondage. I am applaud to the continuous abuse parents subject their children by indoctrinating young minds with myths (myths are OK, but it is NOT OK to say myths are true.), superstition and threaten them with hell. That is unacceptable. A child is NOT a property of the parent. A child is a human being - may still be dependent at the moment, but nevertheless is a human being with the right to make up his/her mind about what kind of stupid ideas s/he wants to believe in WHEN s/he is OLD ENOUGH to decide. Baptizing a child or allowing children into church should be crimes punishable by law.

Here is the response of Daniel Dennett on William Lane Craig (a typical apologetic liberal theist, I suppose). Mine is here.

Religion is not only a crutch for many people, it's also what crippled them in the first place.


Q&A - Holding the Pope to Account for Catholic Child Abuse

16 November 2011

Torture and American Mind-set

I am an Australian and I do not follow American election news closely. So I will take the following quote from Atheist Ethicist as accurate:

Two Republican candidates for President - Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann - said in a recent debate that they do not consider waterboarding to be torture and would return to the practice of waterboarding prisoners if they were President.

Two Republican candidates said that they opposed waterboarding - Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman.

A number of people raised objections to waterboarding and torture following the debate, almost all of which can be put into two categories:

Category 1 - It makes America look bad.

Category 2 - It doesn't work. [Alonzo Fyfe]

Fyfe correctly pointed out that these were "stupid reasons to oppose torture." As he explained adeptly, a simple application of moral golden rule (do not do what you would not want other to yourself) would have come to the conclusion that torture of prisoners are not acceptable. These political "leaders" would be happy to send other's children to battlefield but not theirs. When other's were tortured, they do not care. The lack moral stance of the leadership of USA is an indication of the inevitable fall of this nation. Mere military strength can only get a nation this far. Roman Empire collapsed because it ran out of captives to enslave. For USA to be relevant in the future, a quick turn-around is needed, but I cannot see any coming anytime soon. This is not good.

15 November 2011

Get rich scheme

If you want to get rich, starting a church in USA is easy and quick.

The New Tithe from Justin Wilson on Vimeo.

12 November 2011

Catholics are very TOLERATE.

Compared with the response from Muslims, it is so much more civilized.

Honestly, "I fail to see the problem with ants on some magic action figure." [quote from DoctorE]

11 November 2011

Morgan Freeman's faith

The voice of moral justice and reason

To Hitch

To a great man with courage and conviction, reason and logic. Cheers, Mr. Hitchens.

09 November 2011


Obedient Wives Club

A typical corruption of moral values by religious stupidity

06 November 2011

Amazing Christian Muslim debate

Dave Hunt Vs Shabir Ally

Whose version of fairtale is truer?

05 November 2011

Cosmological argument

William Lane Craig argues that we have good reason to believe that the universe had a temporal beginning, and that the Big Bang theory shows this. What that means is that the Big Bang theory, which in popular culture is presumed to be an atheistic theory, is actually embarrassing for atheism, since it agrees with the Bible that there WAS a beginning. [source]

Let's put aside whether Craig would agree to the above (I think he would), the problems with the argument are:

1. Layman's understanding of Big Bang Theory should be that at the Big Bang, it was a singularity. That is we have no physical means to know what was before the Big Bang. Stephen Hawkings have recently established that Big Bang will spontaneous appear under the law of Quantum Physics. Universe is not caused. Ignoring the latest understanding and cherry picking of Science to support a view is a logical fallacy.

2. The bible may be right at one thing - the universe has a beginning. That does not imply the rest of the bible is also correct. Take the sequence of creation as an example. The bible is complete wrong. To judge a claim to be right or wrong, we depend on evidence to support that claim. A lucky guess is just a lucky guess. Nothing special.

Craig maintains what whatever begins to exist, must have a cause of its existence, and since the universe began to exist, the universe has to have something other than itself cause it to exist. On the other hand, God, according to the definition, never began to exist, so he needs no cause of his existence.

1. The claim that "what whatever begins to exist, must have a cause of its existence" needs evidence and proof. To prove this statement is wrong, I only need ONE counter example. Here it is. From Quantum mechanics, we know that radioactive exists. The instance at which a radioactive nuclei decays cannot be predicted. We can only have statistical laws about radioactive decay. This is an example of event without a cause. If this event has a cause, we would understand precisely the moment when the cause is satisfied and would trigger the decay. Heisenberg uncertainty principle implies that it is impossible to know the cause and hence the event is strictly uncaused. Of course, the second counter example would be the appearance of our universe.

2. By definition god does not need a cause is another example which I could use to disprove the claim that "whatever begins to exist, must have a cause of its existence". God, if exists, has existed. There is no obvious reason, except by the trickery of words, to define it as needing no cause. The fact is that we do not know whether god exists because of a cause. This would need to the recursive situation of a god' creator and ad infinite. This is an obvious logical impossibility. Either god exists without a cause OR god does not exist. This argument does not exclude the possibility that the god in our definition does not exist.

"You Atheists Have No Hope. What Keeps You Alive?"

My question to the Christians. Since god is waiting for you, why don't you kill yourself and meet it earlier?

04 November 2011

Thought crime

The following is from the Banana man - dumb as usual
In a hate crime, one is punished not just for committing a specific crime against someone, but for his supposed thoughts toward that person. If a man beat up a heterosexual, for example, he would deserve one sentence. But beating up a homosexual, if it could be proved that he once expressed a negative attitude toward homosexuals, would get him a substantially increased sentence. Also, students who mention wishing for the death of a teacher or fellow student are taken seriously and punished. They could merely mention it on Facebook or in texting, for instance, and immediately be in trouble—because it shows the intent of the heart, even if they are not actively planning it.

What have been listed in the above are actions. No one knows anything about anyone's private thoughts. Once that thought has gone out, it is no longer just a thought and one has to be responsible for what has gone out of his/her head. The issue is not only "thought crime" which are not detectable, it is also about "crime without victims". Pointing out the stupidity of someone's is not a crime as long as that stupidity can be demonstrated. For example, it is really stupid to believe that a loving god would need to sacrifice itself to itself to forgive itself from creating human eating a forbidden fruit before that human knew what is good and what is bad. I hold that thought for a long time. No one would know. As I put it down, I have to face the consequence of the above words - which I am prepared to defend why I really think that is a stupid belief.

Islam is a TOLERATE religion

Deepak Chopra - follow up

Deepak Chopra and Bill O'Reilly

What a combination!

03 November 2011

A Priest mocks creationism

Famous Atheist

I went to a church concert

I knew what was going to happen last Saturday, but I went along to support one of our friends who was singing. The most impressive point to me is the amount of immoral messages that were mixed into the lyric, the whole shit about Jesus dying for our sin etc. One of the song is about eternal life and of course it must be via blind faith in Jesus that anyone can have eternal life. Not that I want to live forever, but if there is any chance of extending our healthy life span, it won't come from religion, it will come from Science.

The cells in our body divide time and again. During such division, the copies may be corrupted by radiation or the chemicals that are in our bodies. Cells have several strategies: repair the damage, give up the ghost (the new cell) or stop dividing. Those cells which stopped dividing are called senescence. Recently, scientists have discovered by removing senescence cells in mice, these mice have an extended healthy life span - not longer life span! [source]

I don't have faith in science. I trust only evidence. This is early work and its application to human are tens of years away. But as human knowledge progress, the use of religion is getting less and less. Seriously, has religion passed its used-by date? I certainly think so.

02 November 2011

Extraordinary things require extraordinary evidence

If you are to learn only one thing today, learn this: Extraordinary things require extraordinary evidence

Please ask yourself this. If you meet someone today who claimed that he has just risen from death, what kind of evidence would you require to believe in his claim?

Miracles for Sale

Faith-healing couple sentenced to more than six years in prison

While I have full sympathy to children whose parents needed to go to jail, the message should be clear to all parents. Voodoos, or prayers, do not cure diseases. Letting imaginary guy in the sky into one's life is delusional and have bad consequences. It is a shame that the Public Prosecutor did not think he should also target the church - which is the real culprit in cases like this.

01 November 2011

Just war theory

Victor Reppert suggests that the "just war theory" was invented by Christian,
Has anybody noticed that, before Christianity, nobody ever dreamed that there were some things you couldn't do to noncombatants and defeated nations. If you conquered in battle, then the people belonged to you to kill, rape, or enslave as you saw fit. What the ban on, say, the Amalekites does is remove the last two options.

As I pointed out in one of the discussions, the just war theory was invented by Christians. Not secular humanists.

This may be true in his corner of the world, the Chinese has been promoting winning without war. When an inevitable war was fight and won, the winning side should not kill or hurt the people conquered. [The Art of War, Sun Zi, 2nd century BC] This idea originated from Confucius and Lao Zi 4th century BC.

Advocating genocide, in any measure at any time and place, is barbaric and the bible has plenty such examples. No wonder when the Christian discovered new world, the indigenous were mass murdered. The few remaining indigenous people Australia and America are examples. In Africa, they capture the black as slaves.

Bible morality

I know using bible to be the foundation of moral is immoral, but just in case you are not sure, have a look: