Comment by Anonymous-14, 19 Sep, 2015
This is really an eye opener. All the people depicted here look like all other humans except for the inexplicable and complete intolerance and difference inflicted into their brains by..............Their Bloody Religion!!! How utterly disgusting they arrive in another country, expecting help and compassion and then behave like this? One can't help feeling this human avalanche has been contrived as a passive? means of the continuing push for the Islamic invasion and conquest of the whole world. Notice the fit, able bodied men, throwing the gifted water bottles and food away when one would expect them to be back in their own country, fighting to get back what they left ! I can guarantee that there will be nothing but big trouble (as if there is not enough already) in all the countries that have taken on this menace. For the first time in my life, I have to agree with John Key on this.
[How fanatical are these guys? And, more to the point, do we want this kind of religious fanaticism in our countries?
This is yet another video that was not on mainstream media - why? Why was it not on TV ?
They discard food and water and there is again a predominance of young men.
The food and water were provided by the Red Cross and was not acceptable because — the cross is a "Christian" symbol.
Perhaps also the water was not certified Halal!! Why aren't they migrating to their own kin Muslim countries?]
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 19 Sep, 2015
Clearly there are no easy answers to the refugee problem, and since the world's media are more interested in ratings than investigative reporting, we'd be foolish to expect any in-depth analysis on the nightly TV News.
The problem with the YouTube video of a group of refugees rejecting water and food is that we don't know how widespread that response is. I've seen plenty of other videos where refugees gratefully accepted everything offered. If it was an aberration, then perhaps the media were acting responsibly (hey... it could happen) by not screening it. It would be wrong to alienate public opinion and support by screening an incident that wasn't representative of most refugees.
Of course there will always be some refugees that are ungrateful and totally unrealistic in their expectations, but we have to offer help on the assumption that they are genuinely needy and that they can see that aid trumps religion. The difficult goal will be to integrate them into the secular society that they were desperate to reach, rather than pushing diversity and multiculturalism and encouraging them to build a mini-Syria-in-exile in their new country.
Comment by Ray, 31 Oct, 2015
Hi John, thought this might interest you — I have 12 A4 full pages of atrocities in the bible with their references. These don't include contradictions and absurdities.
Isn't it about time we started calling the bible bashers devil worshipers?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 31 Oct, 2015
I think anyone that reads the Bible with an open mind is shocked at the sheer number of atrocities committed, ordered or permitted by God. And of course the atrocities didn't cease when they stopped writing down those equally silly and offensive Bible stories. For example, if God is real then everyday he registers untold innocent children for an eternity in Hell, a place he built deliberately for no other purpose than to torture people for no good reason beyond his own sick gratification.
As you've suggested Ray, many have asked, are these foul, loathsome actions not more aligned with those of a demon than a god, since throughout history people have described evil supernatural beings as demons or devils, and benign supernatural beings as gods. And since so-called 'bible bashers' blindly and mindlessly worship the protagonist of the Bible, a being whose evil exploits far outweigh his rare acts of kindness and beneficence, then yes they should be called 'devil worshipers'. Who else but a devil would condemn me to eternal torture for sins I've never committed or for an 'original sin' that he secretly planted on me like some corrupt cop? Who else but a devil would punish me for not believing in him, even though he uses his supernatural powers to hide his very existence from me? Who else but a devil would say that if I don't hate my family then I can never be one of his followers, and if I don't become one of his followers and submit to his will completely, then — surprise, surprise — I'm off to his torture camp. The mental gymnastics that Christians (and Jews and Muslims) must go though every waking hour to convince themselves that they're worshipping something closer to the Easter Bunny than the real monster behind the mask must be phenomenal. Of course on one level they all know a demon is pulling their strings, but fear keeps them in line, it's better to work for the demon than against him.
Here are two of my favourite quotes about the demon in question:
'The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive blood thirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, megalomaniacal, capriciously malevolent bully.'
Richard Dawkins — The God Delusion
'The Christian God is a being of terrific character — cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.'
Comment by Patrick, 12 Nov, 2015
Hi John. Some time ago we discussed about the crippling effect of religion on art. I would now like to share my thoughts regarding the Hays Code.
Someone on the internet wrote concerning the Hays code : "A chasm had opened up between life as it was lived and life as it could be portrayed under the code. The issue was not morality vs. immorality, but reality and credibility vs. a make-believe world that rested on a hypocritical denial of the way things are."
The Hays Code was the set of industry moral guidelines that was applied to most United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968.
WHO CREATED THE HAYS CODE?
A Catholic layman, Martin Quigley (editor of the prominent trade paper Motion Picture Herald) and a Jesuit priest Father Daniel A. Lord
DON'TS OF THE HAYS CODE
"...things which are included in the following list shall not appear in pictures produced by the members of this Association,(Major Studios) irrespective of the manner in which they are treated: "
- Pointed profanity — by either title or lip — this includes the words ds "God," "Lord," "Jesus," "Christ" (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), "hell," "damn," "Gawd," and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled;
- Any licentious or suggestive nudity — in fact or in silhouette; and any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture;
- The illegal traffic in drugs;
- Any inference of sex perversion;
- White slavery;
- Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races);
- Sex hygiene and venereal diseases;
- Scenes of actual childbirth — in fact or inn silhouette;
- Children's sex organs;
- Ridicule of the clergy;
- Willful offense to any nation, race or creed;
BE CAREFULS OF THE HAYS CODE
"special care be exercised in the manner in which the following subjects are treated, to the end that vulgarity and suggestiveness may be eliminated and that good taste may be emphasized:"
- The use of the flag;
- International relations (avoiding picturizing in an unfavorable light another country's religion, history, institutions, prominent people, and citizenry);
- The use of firearms;
- Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of trains, mines, buildings, etc. (having in mind the effect which a too-detailed description of these may have upon the moron);
- Brutality and possible gruesomeness;
- Technique of committing murder by whatever method;
- Methods of smuggling;
- Third-degree methods; [torture]
- Actual hangings or electrocutions as legal punishment for crime;
- Sympathy for criminals;
- Attitude toward public characters and institutions;
- Apparent cruelty to children and animals;
- Branding of people or animals;
- The sale of women, or of a woman selling her virtue;
- Rape or attempted rape;
- First-night scenes; [consummation of a marriage]
- Man and woman in bed together;
- Deliberate seduction of girls;
- The institution of marriage;
- Surgical operations;
- The use of drugs;
- Titles or scenes having to do with law enforcement or law-enforcing officers;
- Excessive or lustful kissing, particularly when one character or the other is a "heavy".
I can only agree with the above sentence (The code basically hated truth) and would also like to add a few personal thoughts.
- Religions are not democracies and you can be 100% certain that Catholic layman Martin Quigley and Jesuit priest Father Daniel A. Lord created this code with the Church's full approval.
- I guess that some religious folks nowadays will still agree with most of the Hays Code "Don'ts", but Miscegenation (Number 6 on the list) will be a source of embarrassment. They'll say that in the past Miscegenation rebuttal (sex relationships between the white and black "races") was the norm. It was perhaps partly true, but there were also many people and organizations that opposed this policy. Church approved racism.
- "Willful offense to any nation, race or creed". Fine... but wait a minute, how were Native Americans portrayed in Westerns during the Hays code era?
The Hays Code no longer exists (for reasons that have nothing to do with religious transformation), but the damage has been done and it's catastrophic impact on movies made during this era will affect any viewer who see them. To be fair, some of these movies are, taken as a whole, interesting and well made, but this has nothing to do with the Hays code moral values.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Nov, 2015
Hi Patrick. Yes it was rather strange, apparently they thought that if they could create a fictional world on the screen then it would somehow filter down and influence the real world. But this is typical of Christians I think, forever fantasising about some imaginary world where their all-loving god looks out for us and somehow ignoring the real world where evil clearly abounds and no god comes to our rescue.
When I watched some really old movies and TV shows as a kid I often thought that surely they couldn't really have been so straitlaced and uptight back then, and now I know they weren't, Hollywood was simply showing a fantasy version, based mostly it appears on what Christians wished the world was like. Of course there was to be no ridiculing of religion, which might help explain why Christianity has had a relatively free ride until recent times, and no 'nudity, suggestive dances, lustful kissing or scenes of passion'. The principle was that no movie should ever 'lower the moral standards of those who see it' and should always depict 'Correct standards of life'. But again it was Christians that were actually dictating their ignorant and prudish views and relabelling them as 'Correct standards of life'.
Did you know that the kiss between Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Uhura was the first interracial kiss on TV, and only allowed because an alien was forcing them to kiss, they weren't doing it willing? And the first married couple to be shown together in a double bed on TV were Herman and Lily Munster in 'The Munsters'. Everyone else had to have single beds, and stay in them. No doubt the Munsters were only allowed because they were 'monsters' and not normal people. Thankfully the TV censors have backed off a little, although I believe nudity is being censored more these days, although strangely it's mainly female nudity. Back in the 80's full frontal female nudity was quite common, while male nudity wasn't, and yet now full frontal female nudity is near non-existent while full frontal male nudity is far more common. I'm not sure what that says about people making movies and TV shows these days. While nudity is still generally avoided, even though it's legal and perfectly natural, taking an opposite tack, things like explicit scenes of torture, murder, rape, drug use, firearms etc, are now very common. Maybe I'm just a little weird, but personally I'd rather watch someone having sex where they're experiencing pleasure than watching someone being tortured, raped or murdered in slow motion. Again I'm not sure what it says about people making movies and TV shows these days who insist that I need to see the heroine shot or stabbed or buried alive, anything as long as she keeps her bra and panties on.
I noticed too that 'white slavery' was in the prohibited list, rather than simply 'slavery', with the clear implication that black slavery was OK. But this was America before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thankfully the studios eventually scrapped the censorship system that was the Hays Code and adopted a classification system, mainly because movie makers found ways to get around it. However it makes one wonder what movies might have been made during this period if producers had been allowed to make movies that reflected the real world rather than the world as Christians imagined it.
Comment by Ben, 08 Dec, 2015
As a change from chemtrails one may find the following of interest from Bulgaria's answer to Mystic Meg (probably also related to Ken Ring.
Here's what blind prophet Baba Vanga predicted for 2016 and beyond: It's not good
We appear to be doomed!
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 09 Dec, 2015
Thanks for the link Ben, although it's depressing, though not unexpected, that the media is still writing such pathetic articles as that. They also promoted the article under the title 'Psychic's scarily accurate prophecies'. Apparently the Bulgaria-born clairvoyant was known as 'Nostradamus from the Balkans', and that might be the only truly accurate claim in the entire article, since her predictions were as obscure and as vague as those silly prophecies of Nostradamus.
The article claims that she had 'the ability to heal people and predict the future' and that 'She became the go-to psychic for the rich and powerful and admirers, among them heads of state, scientists and historians, would come from all over the world for a few minutes in her company'. But before reading the article, how many people on the planet had ever heard of her? Why have we never heard of the hordes that she healed? Why have we never seen reports of world leaders visiting her, as we have for those visiting the Pope or Dalai Lama for example? Clearly her fame doesn't extend much further than her village.
As for claiming to have predicted the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, her prophecy was simply that 'A huge wave will cover a big coast covered with people and towns, and everything will disappear beneath the water'. But of course this covers any tsunami on any coast in any decade, and she made no mention of location or date. How do we know she didn't mean the more recent tsunami to hit Japan? It as silly as her prediction that 'volcanoes will awaken'. Wait long enough and vague predictions like this will always come true somewhere.
Claiming to have predicted the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, she simply prophesied that, 'Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds... The wolves will be howling in a bush and innocent blood will gush'. Again, no dates, no location, just meaningless nonsense. There is no way that anyone could have got the 9/11 attacks from that, and no one did, it was only after the fact the these comments were dredged up and reinterpreted. The article tries to explain and defend the prophecy by adding the following bracketed comments:
'Horror, horror! The American brethren (believed to be a reference to the two 'brother' towers) will fall after being attacked by the steel birds (thought to be the two hijacked passenger planes). The wolves will be howling in a bush (believed to be a reference to then US president George Bush) and innocent blood will gush.'
How could anyone be that stupid to believe that this is what Vanga meant, that 'wolves will be howling in a bush' means President Bush? Really? Later in the article we're told that she has predicted that the 'sun's thermonuclear processes slow down' in 2201, so she apparently understands thermonuclear processes, and yet she thinks planes are 'steel birds'. Vanga also made the following prediction, which the article's writer again deviously reinterprets:
'2100: Man-made sun illuminates the dark side of the planet (This is already in the pipeline - since 2008, scientists have been working on creating an artificial sun using nuclear fusion technology).'
It's true that scientists are working on nuclear fusion, but as an energy source, not in an attempt to make 'an artificial sun'. Why would we want to 'illuminate the dark side of the planet'? It's called night time and is crucial to sustaining life on Earth, we'd be stupid to eliminate it.
It's claimed that Vanga in her 50-year career has made hundreds of predictions which have 'a purported 85 per cent success rate'. And yet if the ridiculously vague handful given in the article are the best examples that have come to pass, the remaining hundreds of predictions must be laughable in their meaninglessness.
And note that she claims a '85 per cent success rate', just like astrologer Ken Ring. Surely that can't be a coincidence? There must be some supernatural law that grants all soothsayers an 85 per cent success rate, but won't let them exceed it. Spooky!
I'd be deeply embarrassed if I were a professional journalist and I wrote such bullshit for a living, and that my media outlet published it. If she has kids, I wonder what she tells them she does for a living so as not to shame them at school etc.? She probably says she's a prostitute or a crack cocaine dealer.
Comment by Rene, 18 Dec, 2015
'Pope Francis has signed off on the miracle needed to make Mother Teresa a saint'
Of course Mother Theresa has the problem that she wanted people to suffer needlessly to bring them closer to God (true biography, lovely woman!) but note they don't talk much about the actual Miracle for sainthood.
You know, the PROVEN VERIFIED MIRACLE that the Pope had to approve (and James Randi would be interested in seeing proof of, I'm sure!)
BUT buried deep in the story here it is:
The miracle needed for her canonization concerns the inexplicable cure in 2008 of a man in Brazil with multiple brain abscesses who, within a day of being in a coma, was cured, according to a report in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference. The Vatican ascertained that his wife's prayers for Mother Teresa's intercession were responsible, the report said.
Yup ... that's it. That's the verified "no other possible means of explanation" miracle that made her into a saint ... a cure after prayer from a report from a bunch of bishops. Really impartial people there, for sure. The man was in a coma, went to the hospital where I'm SURE that doctors did a LOT for the man, but nope ... it was 100% the prayer. From his WIFE at that, not even the woman herself! Wouldn't that make the WIFE a saint? LOL
What a clown show around sainthood.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 19 Dec, 2015
You're quite right, the checks and balances that lead to sainthood are a complete nonsense, and that certain adults take them seriously simply shows, to put it nicely, how bloody stupid they are. It was perhaps understandable that many ignorant, superstitious fools in the Dark Ages thought that some god both caused and then perhaps cured disease, but that educated people in positions of authority today still believe such bullshit should be enough to have them committed to what used to be called an Insane Asylum. Seriously, any adult that still believes in Santa in this day and age should ... sorry, did I say Santa? I meant God. Well ... they're basically the same aren't they, invisible, powerful fantasy beings that reward and punish based on how you behave? Adults should have abandoned such childish notions long ago.
I'm glad that the article finished by acknowledging that 'While Mother Teresa is known and beloved by many around the world, she was not beloved by all', and briefly notes some of her immoral actions. We would recommend that people read Christopher Hitchens' book, 'The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice'. In reality Mother Teresa was an inhumane bitch and the last person that you'd want to have looking after you if you were sick. And when she became sick, the hypocrite shunned her own hospitals and flew secretly to the US for the best of modern treatment, which of course she could easily afford because of the fortune she had amassed, a fortune not spent on her own patients.
Plus I've never understood this Catholic preference of praying to the likes of Mother Teresa and long dead saints rather than praying to God or even Jesus. This is breaking two of the Ten Commandments that decree that there is only one god and that it is a major sin to pray to others, to pray to false idols rather than God. But then I suppose we shouldn't expect Catholics to be that familiar with their religion, as long as they have this naïve, blind faith that it's all true then that's apparently enough.
Comment by Rene, 04 Jan, 2016
2 evangelists defending their private jets.
Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, defending their private jets
This is hilarious... and note they're doing this on their OWN SHOW, so they have no shame at all. This isn't a private conversation, they want their flock to know this.
Related topic, here's Kent Hovind saying that God deliberately put contradictions into the bible to weed out the non-believers (i.e. those who see contradictions) and those who TRULY have faith will see beyond them and know that it's still true. Occam's Razor is also something he's never heard of, but I'll give him credit... when desperate, this was a cute way to TRY and explain it and save face. It's laughably stupid, but a cute attempt.
Kent Hovind: God put contradictions in the Bible to 'weed out' the atheists
Also, if God knows everyone and everything, why would he bother? He'd already know who doesn't believe. And those who don't believe probably aren't reading a Bible anyway. Again, Occam's razor.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Jan, 2016
It's amazing Rene the bullshit these people spout. I truly don't understand how the followers of morons like these evangelists can be so ignorant. I guess it shows their desperation to believe that someone is running their lives for them and that there is a divine purpose for their suffering. I'm assuming that they're not completely stupid, most have probably realised that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy were all lies and they can even see the obvious flaws in the stories that are told to children, and yet they steadfastly refuse to apply the same powers of reason and logic to the stories of god that they were told as children, and are repeated as adults. They're apparently capable of recognising the truth, and many no doubt have, but they go to great lengths to suppress it so that they can remain as slavering, obedient zombies to an imaginary God. If we had adults proclaiming real belief in Santa, at the very least society would laugh at them and pity them, and perhaps even deny them positions of responsibility due to their delusion, so why don't we do they same with those that have a god delusion? Perhaps, like in the past, because those with a god delusion were in the majority and consequently got to make the laws. Of course the Dark Ages are long past, but the religious among us still proudly compare their piety and ignorance to that primitive and superstitious era.
Comment by Rene, 07 Jan, 2016
Here's how true Christians should see the world, as this is taken from the bible, the "inerrant word of god".
A COMMON COSMOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
To believe the planet is anything else is to go AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD!!!
The article sites references and other information if curious.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 08 Jan, 2016
Hi Rene. At times I almost feel sympathy for devout Christians and the bald-faced nonsense they're asked to believe on reading their 'How it All Fits Together' manual. Of course for most of Christian history most Christians couldn't read so they would have been largely oblivious to all the silly details, but how any educated Christian can today read the Bible and not come away a non-believer is beyond me. Of course for the Church that's not really a problem since most Christians today don't read the Bible, and are thus utterly ignorant of how their God supposedly put the universe together. They're that used to seeing images of Earth from space that they'd likely call you a liar if you told them that their Bible says the Earth rests on pillars.
That said, there are a few Christians that are familiar with both what the Bible says and what science says as regards how the world works. That these Christians can and do argue that the Bible is right and science wrong frankly boggles the mind. How can they be so easily misled? Most that I've met remain delusional by simply refusing to think too deeply about what they're asked to believe, they simply have blind faith that their god is real. Their desperate desire to have an imaginary protector gets them past the stumbling blocks. But strangely some apologists understand both the details of the Bible and science and yet still remain hanging onto God's skirts. Not surprisingly I haven't come across a single argument that makes even belief in an unknown deist god plausible, let alone arguments that support belief in the God of the Bible. I'm being totally serious when I say that I view belief in the Christian God as being as silly and unwarranted as belief in the likes of Santa Claus, Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy. That ignorant, unsophisticated people can believe in God is understandable, but that intelligent, educated people can do so is surely grounds to have them committed. Clearly they're not as sane as they outwardly appear, and as history and even recent events have shown, when people start taking their god very seriously they are capable of committing atrocities against those of us that don't hear God's voice.
Comment by Rene, 13 Jan, 2016
10 Weirdest Gods Worshipped Around The World
'There is a place where Prince Philip is deemed God.
According to Deuteronomy 32:16, worshipping "strange gods" back in the day was enough to provoke the one true Lord to anger, unleashing a bunch of those plagues He's so fond of. If He's still paying attention close nowadays, the Big Man must be absolutely fuming: religions have proliferated to such a point that there's few things people won't worship.'
Comment by Rene, 04 Feb, 2016
'Dead for 48 minutes, Catholic Priest claims God is female'
'A Catholic priest from Massachussetts was officially dead for more than 48 minutes before medics were able to miraculously re-start his heart has revealed a shocking revelation that will change everything you once believed.
The 71-year-old cleric Father John Micheal O'neal claims he went to heaven and met God, which he describes as a warm and comforting motherly figure.
Father John Micheal O'neal was rushed to the hospital on January 29 after a major heart attack, but was declared clinically dead soon after his arrival.
With the aid of a high-tech machine called LUCAS 2, that kept the blood flowing to his brain, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital managed to unblock vital arteries and return his heart to a normal rhythm.
The doctors were afraid he would have suffered some brain damage from the incident, but he woke up less than 48 minutes later and seems to have perfectly recovered.
The elderly man claims that he has clear and vivid memories of what happened to him while he was dead. He describes a strange out-of-body experience, experiencing an intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance, as well as being surrounded by an overwhelming light.
He claims that at that point in his experience, he went to heaven and encountered God, which he describes as a feminine, mother-like "Being of Light".
"Her presence was both overwhelming and comforting" states the Catholic priest. "She had a soft and soothing voice and her presence was as reassuring as a mother's embrace. The fact that God is a Holy Mother instead of a Holy Father doesn't disturb me, she is everything I hoped she would be and even more!
The declarations of the cleric caused quite a stir in the catholic clergy of the archdiocese over the last few days, causing the Archbishop to summon a press conference to try and calm the rumors.
Despite the disapproval of his superiors, Father O'neal says that he will continue dedicating his life to God and spread the word of the "Holy Mother".
"I wish to continue preaching" says the elderly cleric. "I would like to share my new knowledge of the Mother, the Son and the Holy Ghost with all catholics and even all Christians. God is great and almighty despite being a woman..."
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has not confirmed however, if they will allow Father O'neal to resume his preaching in his former parish in South Boston.'
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Feb, 2016
For a start, I hate journalists that make false claims, stating that 'medics were able to miraculously re-start his heart', when further into the article they reveal indirectly that no miracle was actually involved at all, reporting that 'With the aid of a high-tech machine... doctors... managed to unblock vital arteries and return his heart to a normal rhythm'. So it was the doctors, science and technology that saved the priest, his silly god had no hand in his recovery.
As for his 'near death experience', his description of what he felt, eg unconditional love and bright light. is just the same as many others have reported, whether they were Christian, Muslim or agnostic. It was a delusion fuelled by a brain that was failing, and it was the priest's Catholic fantasies that convinced him that it must have been his God, even though his God had had a sex change. That crucial, worrying 'fact' should have been enough to convince the priest that his mind was playing tricks on him, but no, the realisation that God is a woman and that the Bible and his Church had been lying to him all his life doesn't seem to have fazed him at all. Worse still, he wants to continue preaching and add yet another stupid religious myth to that held by naïve fools, as if the world didn't already have enough!
Comment by Keith, 05 Feb, 2016
Hey John! What do you think of the latest on the church digging up Padre Pio's body, sticking a mask on him and putting him on display for the world (catholics) to gawk at, as if they didn't have enough objects to stare at and adore?
Can you explain to me why catholics have to pay homage to men & women and relics when they are supposed to be paying their worship to Christ alone? I never got this and I used to be catholic but this kind of thing did me in and it drove me nuts and I had to get out of it. Where does this stuff originate and keep going on to this day?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Feb, 2016
Hi Keith. From a humanistic point of view I think it's quite obscene to dig up bodies, pretty them up and put them on display, simply to bring in the crowds like a religious Disneyland. As an atheist and naturalist I think it quite bonkers that poor deluded fools believe that shedding a few tears over a rotting corpse will somehow see their wishes come true.
Italian Saint Padre Pio's Body Put on Display
As to why Catholics fall for this Church scam, I guess it comes down to religious beliefs that existed prior to the Christian god being invented and simple human desperation. Originally the Hebrews were like all the other societies around them, they believed in multiple gods, spirits and/or dead ancestors, as others had done for thousands of years. There were individual gods for war, for health, for agriculture, for hunting, for procreation etc,, and it was quite natural and reasonable to appeal to whatever god might help with your current problem. You would make a sacrifice or offering at whatever shrine was appropriate, and ignore the rest. The Catholic Church and all their many saints seem to be a hangover to these pagan beliefs, where saints seem to be the go-to person rather than God. For example Saint Agnes is the patron saint of young girls, Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music, Saint Luke is the patron saint of painters and physicians and Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.
Of course Catholics know all too well that they're not really supposed to be praying to these saints or associated relics. And contrary to common belief, Christians are not supposed to be praying to Jesus either! Let's recall that the Bible quite clearly states that there is only one God, and that his followers must not worship anyone, or anything, else, including idols or relics. God reminds us that he is a jealous and vindictive god, and if you ignore him and appeal to others then you're going to be punished. Remember the slaughter that God brought about when the Hebrews made a golden calf and asked it for help? And Jesus later tells us that he had not come to change that commandment, or any commandment for that matter. His mission was to convince people to look to God as their saviour, not him. There is no ambiguity in the Bible. God is the boss, the big cheese, the head honcho. God made the universe, life and everything. God caused Noah's flood, rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah and planned to have Jesus tortured and killed by the Romans. Anything and everything that happens is because of God. If you wish something would happen, God is the only one to ask, not Jesus or Saint Nicholas or the Hindu god Shiva. However powerful Jesus or Shiva might be, if the Bible is true then they're nowhere near as powerful as God, and at the end of the day, not even a sparrow falls without God's say so. So even if Jesus or Shiva could drive that demon from your head, they can't do so without first obtaining God's permission.
So why do Catholics muck around wasting time and effort, not to mention risk angering a vindictive God by sidestepping him, and pray instead to dead humans that their Church have belatedly decided to call saints? This is where human desperation comes in. All these devout Christians will have implored and beseeched God untold times as they were growing up to help with some illness or to stop a war, but their prayers, strangely enough, always went unanswered. So what to do, who can they turn to? They do what humans do when interacting with other humans. If we can't convince someone to help us, or perhaps can't even gain an audience with them, then we look for others to act as intermediaries and to speak on our behalf. We explain our case and implore them to do what they can to convince a king or boss or judge that we need and deserve their assistance. When we're desperate we'll naturally start grasping at straws and harangue anyone that we think might have some influence on a person or body that we need help from. This all makes sense when we're dealing with fellow humans, who are, after all, real. But Catholics go an irrational step too far. They start beseeching dead people, when they should realise that no matter how helpful someone might have been when they were alive, they all become pretty useless on their death.
In my view, Catholics pray to dead saints and fondle dusty relics because they've accepted that for all intents and purposes God has left this world to its own devices, maybe he's gone on vacation. Whatever they case, he can't be reached, so in desperation they're willing to beg the spirit of any dead person that they think might just possibly run into God in some spa and might be able to pass a message on. They've lost God's phone number and are now fumbling around looking for someone that might know him. Of course what they should grasp is that God ignores their prayers for the same reason that Superman ignores our desperate pleas for help.
Comment by Gerald, 06 Feb, 2016
Had to have a big smile at that one [#282: Catholic Priest claims God is female]. These days there are hundreds, probably thousands of near death experiences reported on the internet. I've read the medical explanations of what has happened in their brain to give these people these experiences. They all report the same general kinds of experiences Father O'Neal did. But 100% of the ones I've read who reported seeing God said he was definitely male :)
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Feb, 2016
These 'near death experiences' apparently have a profound psychological effect on those that have them, they are often utterly convinced that what happened was real, more real than anything they've ever experienced. So while the priest may not be questioning that he definitely met God, surely, as you say, he should be questioning why everyone else that has met god under similar circumstances didn't also encounter a mystical being with boobs and wearing dress. This is one reason I have so little respect for religious arguments, since clearly almost no thought has gone into them. Religious folk just choose to believe whatever nonsense pops into their head, and care not a jot how it conflicts with reason and reality.
Comment by Ren, 20 Apr, 2016
6 Compelling Reasons to Consider Switching to Satan
While meant tongue in cheek, the article does point out some good points, all of which will annoy a true believer to no end!
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Apr, 2016
Even in jest God rather than Satan comes out looking like the real demon. As they say, the victors write the history books, eg the Bible, and God and his fearful, sycophant followers paint Satan as the bad guy in the story, when a critical reading clearly shows that Satan would be the better supernatural being to worship. Both the Bible and Christians unashamedly tell us that Christians, to be good Christians, must fear God. And with good reason.
Comment by Patrick, 21 Apr, 2016
Why every world map you're looking at is WRONG
Hi John. I don't know if you knew that most world maps are in fact wrong, I didn't know that until recently whilst surfing on the internet. We learn so many things on the internet .... and despite this, some people are against it ! Speaking of strange people, I was surprised to read the comment posted some time ago on your website where someone wrote that you believed in the shroud of Turin's authenticity !
'The distortion is the result of the Mercator map, created in 1596, which distorts sizes in favour of the wealthy lands to the north.'
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Apr, 2016
Yes Patrick, I did know that maps are distorted, since as the article explained, 'it is impossible to portray the reality of the spherical world on a flat map - a problem that has haunted cartographers for centuries'. So there is a practical reason why this distortion exists, and thus I wasn't impressed with the comment that, 'The familiar 'Mercator' projection gives the right shapes of land masses, but at the cost of distorting their sizes in favour of the wealthy lands to the north', since this implies that the distortion is all due to an evil conspiracy by wealthy countries.
And to show that this distortion hasn't just been discovered, here is the entry from my copy of 'The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992'
'Mercator map projection, a cylindrical map projection of the features of the earth's surface that can be constructed only mathematically. The parallels of latitude, which on the globe are equal distances apart, are drawn with increasing separation as their distance from the equator increases in order to preserve shapes. However, areas are exaggerated with increasing distance from the equator. For instance, Greenland is shown with enormously exaggerated size, although its shape is preserved. The poles themselves cannot be shown on a Mercator projection. This type of projection gives an incorrect impression of the relative sizes of the world's countries.'
And yes, someone did ask, 'How can you believe such garbage?', implying that I viewed the shroud of Turin as authentic. A negative aspect of free speech is that it lets anyone express a view or hurl an insult without having to waste time acquainting themselves with what it is that they're commenting on. Think of sanctimonious Christians that condemn movies and books without ever having viewed or read them. While it's rare that people wrongly criticise me for believing in things like the shroud, it's quite clear that those that insult me for debunking the likes of gods, chemtrails, psychics, ghosts and UFOs, haven't bothered to read and understand anything I've written on the subject, or in fact, anything anyone has written on the topic if it appears to be contrary to their uninformed stance. The Internet gives them the ability to fling an anonymous insult and quickly flee the scene, gloating to themselves, 'Well, that'll shake up his thinking and shut him up!'. Umm ... no, it won't. I view a hit-and-run insult as something they've used as a frustrated and desperate last resort, since reason and evidence long deserted them.
Comment by Doug, 22 Apr, 2016
It amazes me that anyone is surprised by the fact that the Mercator projection is inaccurate as to area. Where were they in Social Studies/Geography at school? Or are those teachers not telling their pupils such fundamental information? (I am a teacher, so I would be disappointed if they were not). But to ascribe this to some political agenda, rather than to a convenience, is just silly. Another example of ignorance being excused as being a deliberate act to deceive. I am disturbed at how readily people are prepared to believe whatever they are told rather than checking it out for themselves.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 23 Apr, 2016
Hi Doug. Actually I don't remember learning that fact at school, mind you, I went to school in the last century, when the world was still flat and an apple was something you ate. I read it later in a book, an ancient device that's fast going the way of blacksmiths, quill pens and video cassettes. These days I fear that what passes for education beyond the bare minimum in schools, ie knowing how to do a Maori haka, and how to film it and upload it to YouTube, is garnered from Hollywood movies and Facebook and Twitter sound-bites. If concerning a matter of science or history, an actor makes a certain claim in a movie or some celebrity tweets some moronic nonsense, then a worrying number of the populace immediately and uncritically accept it as fact. Your rather quaint notion that people should 'check it out for themselves' rather than simply believing everything they hear, is to many people a euphemism for a frightening activity that suggests hard work and time away from gossipping on their various screens. And why, they would demand, shouldn't we trust the likes of Tom Hanks or Kim Kardashian? You don't get that famous without knowing stuff.
Recently I watched a movie on TV called, 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'. Once again I'm amazed at just how little I know about history (and science) and how much the boring textbooks leave out. I mean, vampires, who would have thought? Thank you Hollywood for making history interesting. How ignorant I'd be without your help. But seriously, you and I know we're not supposed to believe what we see and hear in movies, even the ones that say, 'Based on a true story', but I'm forever dismayed that many people think that the movies, hobbits and smurfs aside, make great efforts to get the science and history right. I've discussed important topics with people who have revealed that they learnt their 'facts' from various movies (or worse still, their priest). Like you Doug I wish people would, especially when challenged, check things out for themselves, but even when I've offered to lend people a book or DVD documentary that gives a different view, meaning factual, no one ever takes up my offer. People have their own little fantasies about how things work, and most don't want to risk shaking up that worldview, and if it involves a little bit of reading and thinking, well, that's definitely not going to happen.
Comment by Patrick, 25 Apr, 2016
Comment by Doug, 22 Apr, 2016
Hi Doug. You should not be amazed as in fact most people don't know this or simply don't care. I was born in 1970, went to a respectable school and college, and as far as I remember, no teacher ever talked about that. Either they didn't know or did not think that it was necessary to talk about this (most teachers teach what the syllabus ask them to teach and practically nothing more). Anyway, I did send this link to some other friends (including two retired college teachers from France and USA) and they also didn't know this. I understand from John's reply that he knew this, but not from his school teachers.
It amazes me that anyone is surprised by the fact that the Mercator projection is inaccurate as to area. Where were they in Social Studies/Geography at school?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 26 Apr, 2016
Hi Patrick. I can understand Doug's amazement. Teachers are understandably peeved that their knowledge isn't always filtering through to students.
But the reality is, I feel, that a huge amount of what we learn at school, which of course is only a drop in the ocean compared to the available knowledge in the greater world, is simply not needed to lead an average life. So why hang on to it? How many people use imaginary numbers, know how far away the Moon is and why we only see one side, understand the chemical makeup of their shampoo, care who the Neandertals were, or have found that knowing when Galileo lived helped them get a mortgage? Just as people can use their smartphone or get a suntan without any detailed knowledge of microprocessors or nuclear fusion, they can likewise fly to Disneyland without having heard of the Mercator projection. The majority are simply not interested in finding out how things happen, as long as they do.
Clearly you Patrick, along with Doug and I, are curious about the world beyond a superficial level that simply gets us by. But I fear that the majority of students view school something akin to a prison sentence. Students are often lumbered with a syllabus and teachers that both focus on memorising facts and passing exams, to equip with them only with the basics to gain the jobs that society currently offers. Far too few teachers actually inspire students to learn and understand more, not just at school, but throughout life. Once the enforced learning period is over, books are closed forever, jobs are obtained, and much of what they did learn is quickly forgotten.
For me, much of what I now know was learnt outside school, mainly from reading, travel and being inquisitive. I would think myself quite ignorant if my knowledge level had remained as it was when I left school, especially since much of science, geography, and even history, has changed in the interim. Of course there are some very bright people about, but so many people one meets seem not to have even retained the basic knowledge they left school with. While I've endeavoured to learn new things, others have simply managed to forget, creating a vacuum that is often filled with primitive, superstitious nonsense that requires nothing more than the intellect of an amoeba to understand and believe in. What school syllabus teaches their students to take the likes of astrology, homeopathy, alien abductions, conspiracy theories, psychics and the lost city of Atlantis seriously? None. So why do so many effortlessly ditch what little science and history they learnt at school and replace it with a medieval peasant mindset? Is the old saying true, that they only went to school to eat their lunch, learning nothing and counting down to the day they could leave?
The world is awash with knowledge and yet far too many want nothing to do with it. However the most annoying are those that argue fervently for some notion, but a little discussion soon reveals great ignorance on their part. I certainly plead ignorance on many topics, but you won't see me arguing about them, the way the religious argue for gods, psychics argue for talkative souls, astrologers argue for unseen forces and abductees argue for aliens. But ask a few questions and it's always the same. What, what, what? You didn't know that the Moon doesn't shine with its own light, that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn't write the Gospels, that there is no sound in outer space, that electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation are quite different things, that Robin Hood, King Arthur and the Trojan horse didn't exist, that we didn't evolve from monkeys, and that Mother Teresa was a right bitch and not deserving of sainthood? And none of this did I learn at school, since I guess none of it was needed to get me a job or make me a good citizen, so the syllabus didn't cover it. But the science, history and philosophy I've learnt since leaving school has made my life far more interesting and meaningful than it would have been had I closed the books on leaving.
I frankly have little confidence that our present school syllabuses are preparing students for the real world any more than they did a hundred years ago. For example, in NZ, why teach primitive Maori traditions in science classes? We know vastly more about life and the universe than we ever have, and yet most people still believe in the likes of gods, ghosts and psychic healing. Others believe that AIDS, vaccines and chemtrails were actually engineered to kill us, and that aliens are abducting us from our beds. So-called 'educated' people believe an astrologer can predict the weather and earthquakes, and many more believe that a long dead carpenter will soon return to throw most of us into a burning lake of sulfur. That everyone can spend years passing through our education system and emerge still holding, or happy to embrace, such primitive and superstitious beliefs demonstrates that our schools are failing miserably to teach the majority of students how to think about the world and reach rational conclusions. That in the 21st century so many silly beliefs are still held by so-called 'educated' people makes me question the manner of their education, and makes me suspect that it is long overdue for a major revamp. We can expect unschooled peasants to be gullible and ignorant, but surely we have a problem when many of our school leavers are equally so.
Comment by Ron, 24 May, 2016
Hiya John. In the last year or so I've been getting emails from regular sources repeatedly going on about how amazing cures, hidden in the bible all these centuries, can change medicine as we know it. So far I've been offered cures for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. The most recent, from "easy health options", in the USA, is talking about T2 diabetes. This is the wording of the email before one links into follow up details.
"Can any atheist explain this. There has been a monumental breakthrough in medical science and it's taking the world by storm. On Jan.7, 2016 a large research group in Baltimore went public with the most powerful treatment for diabetes ever discovered. There are no injections, pills or supplements to take. Instead, the treatment is buried on page 1117 of the king james version of the bible. Already, one of the worlds top institutions has verified its effectiveness. Atheists may be appalled but there is nothing they can do to disprove this".
John, do you have a KJV bible? I don't but have 2 other versions. It is supposed to be in Daniel, chapter 3. I have read that frigging chapter 4 times but cannot see a tiny clue for a diabetes cure in any sentence. It simply goes on about burning people in furnaces (real nice, eh?) and of course emphasizing the need to believe in gods every word, or else. Can you find anything that I cannot?
Naturally the ancient prophets do not mention diabetes specifically. I guess the word did not exist then. So, hidden in the 3rd chapter of Daniel this actual cure is a quantum leap in the fight against diabetes. They go on by telling us that Christians, not scientists, have discovered what could cure D. Success stories abound with a cure rate of 100% if done correctly. You will lose weight as it normalizes blood sugar, you can eat anything, it adds decades(?) to life. Also can cure Alzheimers, hypertension, depression, cancer, etc. We are told it is not quack science. Medical clinics worldwide are using this principle to defeat this 21st century plague. Note, it is a principle. How do these Christian searchers find all this info. Why must these cures be so "hidden". Why did god make them so damn difficult to uncover. And how do these researchers figure out the protocol as in "if done correctly" when a single clue is so elusive. Slow, but clever they must be. John, you would have noted the mention of atheists twice. Not surprising from the states I read recently that Americans are very bigoted and prejudiced towards atheists, being the most despised minority in the USA. There exists fear, hatred, distrust, suspicion and discrimination. I'm sure this is not new to you. Basically Americans believe to be an American you have to be a believer. Predictably, some are out to make money here, probably based on the supposed authenticity of the bible. Way at the end one is offered 2 free books, one titled Daniels miracle cure, if you subscribe to a newsletter at USD $97 per year. I think it's rather unethical for anyone to expect money for "biblical cures" so the book is "free", cunning. However, to add confusion, a little search reveals chapter 1, verses 8-16 is touted as Daniels cure. It is taken as being a plant based diet only. There is nothing new about this and books on the great merits of this way of eating have been around for many yrs. So, what are these buggars up to. Making money appears clear cut. Confusion, deceit and contradictions are also in the mix. Why the emphasis on diabetes, why is it not being screamed from the rooftops, this cure. After all diabetes is rampant and expected to worsen fast to epidemic proportions. It does nasty things to very many, it kills. Another scammy con?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 24 May, 2016
Hi Ron. Short answer, those miracle cure emails are a scam. No doubt about it. I found this site which appears to be typical of the diabetes cure scam, using many of your email quotes. If their cure from God really worked then the real health professionals, ie the doctors and hospitals, would know about it and be using it. But instead, strangers with no medical qualifications are simply emailing people at random — it's called spam — to ask if they need treatment for diabetes, and if they do, then they have the cure — all for a special, low, low price, if you act now. Operators are standing by. But wait, there's more, order now and you'll get a free gift. Do you see doctors randomly emailing people to advertise antibiotics or hip replacements? No, of course not, you go to them when you have problem, they don't need to drum up business by creating spam.
And why is God apparently more interested in these guys earning enough money to buy another Porsche than simply curing his followers of diabetes? As you say Ron, why would an all-loving God have 'hidden' or 'buried' his cure in the Bible, and why would he allow others to sell his cure if he is offering it free in the Bible? Your email says 'treatment is buried on page 1117 of the king james version of the bible', and I read others that claim that the cure is 'inspired by page 1117 of the King James Bible' and that 'this biblically inspired treatment [is] hidden in the 3rd chapter of Daniel'. OK, so I know why God isn't telling me himself, since he's not real and imagining voices would get me committed. But why aren't scammers telling me what the Bible says? Why do they go on and on but still never reveal exactly what the 'free' advice in the Bible is? Because if they told me I could look it up myself and I wouldn't have to buy the answer off them, and then realise I'd been conned. That's why they vaguely talk about 'page 1117 of the King James Bible', which is meaningless. Even committed Christians wouldn't know what that referred to. Imagine if I mentioned a great line of dialogue from the movie 'Star Wars', and said that it can be heard 67 minutes and 17 seconds from the opening credits, and that's the Director's Cut version of 'Star Wars', not the original theatre release. You'd tell me not to be so stupid and insist that I simply quote the dialogue.
I have a King James Bible and page 1117 is Esther, chapter 7, not Daniel, chapter 3. But depending on formatting, page numbers could vary wildly. According to an online version, page 1117 is in Jerremiah, chapter 29, not Daniel. So clearly that page number is meant to stop us finding the cure for ourselves. Even if we believe the cure is 'hidden in the 3rd chapter of Daniel' rather than on page 1117, as you've discovered Ron there is nothing in that chapter relating to health. Unless the message is that getting people to burn you alive will cure your diabetes. So why are these scammers deliberately hiding God's word from us? Surely they can't be that ignorant of where they got their cure from?
Why do they mention Daniel at all? You're right Ron, others promote what they call 'Daniel's Diabetic Miracle' and 'Daniel's Diet', and some, but not all, refer to Daniel 1:8-16, which concerns the diet of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. It simply recommends a vegan diet, and as you say, nothing new and revolutionary in that. So it appears that once you've handed over your money, you'll most likely be told that you should go vegan. But is there any evidence that proves that vegans don't suffer from diabetes, or to quote one 'Daniel's Diabetic Miracle' website, 'Cancer, Heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, High Cholesterol, Depression, High Blood Pressure, Parkinson's disease, Excess inflammation, Side effects of chemotherapy'? And why would you need to treat the 'Side effects of chemotherapy' if 'Daniel's Diabetic Miracle' prevented cancer and thus you should never need chemotherapy?
And vague statements like this always scream scam: 'On Jan.7, 2016 a large research group in Baltimore went public with the most powerful treatment for diabetes ever discovered', and 'one of the worlds top institutions has verified its effectiveness'. That's like the world's media reporting in 1969 that 'some group' has landed a man on the Moon, and not mentioning NASA, or that 'some scientist' has discovered life on Mars, but they didn't bother asking for a name. The scammers knew the exact day a research group went public, but not who they were. They don't want to provide names because then people could check their claims and find that they're utterly bogus. Either the organisations don't exist, or they never made such claims, or what claims they did make are being misrepresented for nefarious means.
Other claims for this scam caught my eye too. They claim that 'in one animal study it was been shown to increase life span by 83%', but if this were applied to humans, which of course is the suggestion, then vegans should have a life span of around 229 years! For humans, our life span, which is different to life expectancy, is believed to be around 125. Even if they meant life expectancy, if we say normal is around 80 years old, we should see people on 'Daniel's Diabetic Miracle' living to over 140 years old. Why aren't these really, really old people speaking out about the benefits of their Biblical lifestyle, and why aren't we noticing them?
They also claimed that 'Christians - not scientists - have discovered what could cure diabetes?' First, notice the question mark and the phrase 'could cure', so it appears that they're not so sure it works after all. Second, if it's truly from Daniel in the Bible, then it was the Jews who discovered the cure, not Christians. How many times do Christians have to be told that not a single person in the Old Testament was a Christian, and even Jesus and all his disciples were Jews?
The scammers also reveal their medical ignorance when they claim that 'More than 29 million Americans are suffering from the terrible side effects of Diabetes ... They're pricking themselves with ... insulin injections every single day', but then they claim that their 'radical new approach ... enables you to cure type 2 diabetes'. But Type 1 diabetes is treated by insulin injections, not Type 2. Surely an expert would know this? And on the website there are many worthless testimonials but not a single link to a research paper or medical study that supports any of the claims made for the miracle cure.
I'd also suggest that you read this short article — 'ALERT: How Online Diabetes "Cures" Scam Consumers' — where it talks of 'fake review sites', where links send you to other bogus sites set up to support the scam.
I agree with the conclusions you reach Ron: 'Making money appears clear cut. Confusion, deceit and contradictions are also in the mix'. They pick on diabetes because it's on the rise and doctors don't have a cure, so the door is open for scammers to offer a bogus one to an increasing market. They don't scream about their cure from the rooftops because too much attention from the wrong people, eg skeptics and lawyers, would see their scam being widely publicised as a scam, and maybe even see them arrested in some jurisdictions for fraud.
And yes, atheists are despised by many in the USA, but that's not surprising since the US is just as religious as the likes of Iran. But Christians just show their ignorance when they ask, 'Can any atheist explain this?' An atheist is simply someone who doesn't believe in gods, not an expert in medical research. Also, the supposed rationale behind Daniel's miracle cure doesn't involve any supernatural aspects, so there are no spooky elements for an atheist to dismiss either. This Biblical story simply had Daniel arguing that his Hebrew diet was healthier than what the Babylonian royals were eating, and that he could prove it in a ten day control experiment. Even if this story were true, it wouldn't be unusual if some ancient person discovered that some food was more beneficial than others, after all, that's why we eat bananas and not grass. If Daniel had said something utterly revealing, something he shouldn't have known, like, humans have 23 chromosome pairs, made up of some 3 billion base pairs, then Christians could rightly ask, 'Can any atheist explain this?'. But he didn't, so there's no medical mystery to explain. And let's remember that the real reason that Daniel refused the food that the Babylonian royals were eating was that, as a Hebrew exile in Babylon, he didn't want to be contaminated by the foreign culture that surrounded him. He wanted to eat only 'clean' food, not the Babylon equivalent of McDonalds.
I want to repeat that Daniel had no idea nor made any suggestion that his vegan diet might prevent or cure diabetes or the many other claims that are now being made for it. Daniel and his three friends were all young and in perfect health, so they had no afflictions whatsoever on which to test his new diet. You judge the efficacy of a new diabetes treatment by giving it to someone with diabetes, not to four healthy young men. I mean, how likely is it that some primitive, superstitious tribesman that thought the world was flat and that mental illness was caused by demons somehow worked out how to cure diabetes, a disease he didn't have, in just ten days? And then kept the cure hidden, not just from us in the distant future, but even from his own people in his own time? Let's recall that the Jews never converted to veganism, not even a breakaway group. Even Jesus himself was completely unaware of the benefits of a vegetable and water diet. But Christians love to claim that our modern scientific knowledge is buried in the Bible. I'm surprised that some Christian hasn't claimed that the following Bible quote — 'And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light' — is all about how laser surgery can improve eyesight.
It's complete bullshit to suggest that the Bible's authors were hiding or burying a reference on how to prevent diabetes, let alone Type 2 diabetes. While the disease was known to the ancient Greeks, and the word comes from them, I doubt the Hebrews were aware of it as a specific disease. After all, they thought that bodily afflictions came from their god, as a divine form of punishment, not through poor food choices. For these Christian scammers to claim that the Bible reveals knowledge of a cure for diabetes is utterly false. It's complete nonsense for them to state that 'Atheists may be appalled but there is nothing they can do to disprove this'. There is no diabetes cure to be found in the Bible, and since nothing has been proven, there is nothing to disprove. As I've said, they won't even reveal the Bible passage for fear that we will expose their scam. Their assertion that we're appalled and apparently at a loss to explain their miracle cure is nothing but a devious lie to reassure their gullible clients — If those evil atheists can't disprove it then the evidence must be strong, sign me up! The reality is that all scams, from 'Daniel's Diabetic Miracle' to homeopathy, psychic mediums, weather astrology and Christianity itself, only continue to exist on the fringe because their promoters refuse to engage with atheists and skeptics. When they boldly ask, 'Can any atheist explain this?', why do they never actually bother to find an informed atheist to ask? It's all a front, clients are just meant to assume that many atheists, or skeptics or scientists, were asked and all were confounded. But of course none ever were asked, and if any were to proffer an answer, it's always ignored. These gutless scammers fear us as a vampire fears daylight, and they prey on the ignorant, capitalising on desperation and irrational fears. While the Internet provides a medium for easier proliferation of these scams, it also provides the answers that expose these scams, if people would just look before handing over their money to rogues.
Comment by Ron, 30 May, 2016
Hello John. Great, insightful comment from you re. the biblical diabetes cure. The funny emails continue. One tried to tell me 5 foods the bible says I must never eat. Another talked about Samson of the bible and his hair. That buried in the bible is the secret to ending thinning hair and a new head of thick lustrous locks. No advice on where to find it, but, of course, the secret lies in a product you can purchase at high cost, details at the end of the email. No, surely not!! Then the latest. Wholetones. This is healing music that is healing Christians of just about everything. The secret lies in the ancient frequencies and vibrations (sound technology?) ie you must tune an instrument like a guitar to the correct, unusual KHZ. And all is hunky dorey. God apparently gave David these frequencies. Just check 1Samuel 16-23 (NIV) The writer leads by telling us the whole message is intended only for believers of modern day miracles, that god is alive and well and busy performing many miracles today.
An email today from INH research is the crux of this comment. "Harvard study reveals going to church boosts health" starts it off.
"Dramatically" as new research shows. In a 20 yr study Harvard scientists found women who attended religious services twice weekly were a third less likely to die (??) compared to non-attendees. Data is based on 75000 US women aged 46-71. Data was adjusted to account for attendees being less likely to smoke, drink or have bad vices, and racial, dietary, exercise habits and mental health issues. These women lived an average of 5 months longer than those never attending services. A professor of epidemiology at Harvard led the study. He said church attendance may be a powerful and under-appreciated health resource. Even occasional church goers have 13% less mortality risk than non goers. This study did not look at men but stated the impact on mens health does not seem as strong. Prof. believes the health benefits come from social support and sense of community as part of a worship group. Faith brought beneficial effects. Duke university study shows the religiously active have lower blood pressure, less mental illness and less likely to be hospitalized plus prayer groups have lower heart attack risk.
There you have it John. Bang goes my goal of reaching the century. You know, I find a lot of this meaningless. Is there really any need to be religious to practice the world religions health principles when these should apply to all anyway. At the risk of sounding churlish, I thought just maybe those at Harvard could spend money on some more useful studies, but then some may find these conclusions very useful. Also, had to laugh at the additional, dramatic 5 mths lifespan on offer. Do you think that will bring many newcomers knocking at the church doors. I'm certain I could do much better by having an extra free range egg each week or an extra banana or a few dates daily.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 31 May, 2016
Hey Ron. It seems the Internet is awash with email scams, and since, in my view, Christians have demonstrated that they'll believe the silliest of things, then of course there will be many scams aimed specifically at Christians. They're an easy target. Who but a deluded god believer (Christian, Jew or Muslim) could assert 'that god is alive and well and busy performing many miracles today'? There is no evidence whatsoever of even a single miracle being performed by God, or any god, throughout all of history, let alone evidence of many miracles happening today. I challenge any religious person to provide evidence of a genuine miracle, that is, an event that appears to breaks the laws of nature, along with the proof that their god caused it. Someone surviving a plane crash or a terrorist bomb while hundreds of others die is not a miracle. Someone surviving a tornado that destroys their house is not a miracle. When someone recovers from a bad head cold, it's not a miracle.
This is God we're talking about, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving being that created the entire Universe and life itself in all its complexity. He created everything from the intricate little parasite that kills a million innocent people every year with malaria to the enormous star that is bathing us in cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. He made Adam from mere dust and Eve from one of Adam's ribs, he created talking serpents and parted the Red Sea, he made the Sun stop in the sky, turned water into wine, made a burning bush speak and raised people from the dead. Those extraordinary and inexplicable things are what is meant by miracles, everything else is natural and just happens. And yet with this claimed history of awe-inspiring miracles behind him, what strange things do Christians now attribute to their god? Burn marks on a piece of toast or a nasty stain on a towel that both look like Jesus, even though no one knows what Jesus actually looked like. Just recently I saw a news item where a teenager disappeared swimming at the beach, and was believed drowned, and when the body of the dead teen was found washed up on the shore a few days later, the family proclaimed it a miracle. They believed that God went out of his way to recover the body and toss it on a beach, allowing the family to give him a decent burial. They actually thanked God for delivering a corpse, apparently in their view bodies never wash to shore naturally, and they completely ignored the obvious question — If God was prepared to get off his arse and help the family, why didn't he save a life instead? Surely the teenager being found alive a few days later would have been a far more impressive miracle, and a far more desired one, than secretly using ocean currents to deliver a dead body to a grieving family? The events that Christians now describe as miracles are the most pathetic imaginable. Have God's powers, or his desire to help, so diminished that his miracles are now no more than occasionally pointing to where the bodies are or making crappy artwork on one in a trillion pieces of toast? I seriously don't know how devout Christians can see something mundane happen, such as a postie delivering their mail, and sincerely cry, 'It's a miracle, praise the Lord!' It's almost as pathetic as those Muslims that cry, 'God is great!', as bombs fall and their family and friends are killed. What will it take to make these deluded fools realise that their god isn't actually helping them, isn't even there?
I've read about the claim that regular churchgoers live a little longer, and there is apparently some truth to this, although an extra five months of life when you're old, in a wheelchair and unable to really enjoy life could be seen as a punishment, not a bonus. And let's remember that while they may gain five months at the bitter end, once-weekly churchgoers will have wasted at least twice that amount of time during their life, on theirs knees, head bowed, listening to boring nonsense during their weekly church service. By not going to church I get to enjoy my Sundays on the beach or in bed, when I'm young and/or healthy enough to appreciate them, whereas once-weekly churchgoers swapped their many lazy Sundays for half that time when they're in their 80s. I think I'm getting the better deal by far.
Also the Christians that mention this study fail to emphasise that this possible health benefit has nothing to do with whether God exists or not, and nothing to do with Jesus healing his followers. It's likely due to a feeling of community, friendship, companionship and support. As this article notes,
'"The association between religious participation and mortality probably has more to do with religious practice and specifically, communal practice, like attending religious services, than with religious belief," said study author Tyler VanderWeele.
The study suggested that it didn't matter what gods you believed in, as long as 'you worshiped regularly and in a group', and said that 'the Wiccan in her circle' (that's witches in their coven), will see some benefit whereas the 'private or solitary worship' of a Hindu, or a very devout Christian, wouldn't 'confer the same longevity'. So Christians are being disingenuous when they claim that 'Faith brought beneficial effects', since the study shows it wasn't faith at all, but fellowship. It's even possible that a churchgoing closet-atheist would benefit more health wise than a recluse religious fundamentalist. You also noted Ron that the study suggested that 'the impact on men's health does not seem as strong', which again implies that it has nothing to do with gods but more in the way women socialise. Also, this article writes that 'the authors noted limits in generalising the results because the study mainly consisted of white Christians. The participants were also nurses with similar socio-economic status and who were health conscious'. So, all women, all nurses, all white, all Christians, all the same socio-economic status. I think those aspects might bias the study somewhat. And since the study seems to show that getting together regularly as a group is probably what helps, I wonder if the same effect might be found in any non-religious group that meets regularly, like a knitting group or even Skeptics in the Pub? There are plenty of studies that show that people that live alone, especially elderly people, are likely to be less healthy, and that having a pet or even stroking a cat can improve someone's wellbeing. It's no great surprise to me that people united in some common activity, even a delusional belief in some god, might feel better because of their relationship, and that their health might benefit from this sense of fellowship.
The researchers determined that private or solitary worship didn't confer the same longevity. What you worshiped mattered less than that you worshiped regularly and in a group. The solitary Hindu on his prayer mat got less bang for his spiritual buck than the Wiccan in her circle or Quaker at his Meeting.'
I had to giggle at the claim that a 'Duke university study shows the religiously active have ... less mental illness'. You can't convince me that people that firmly believe, without evidence, that invisible angels are watching them, that Jesus is busy preparing a luxury suite for them for when they die, that Allah wants them to fly jetliners into skyscrapers, and that a baby's smile is one of God's miracles, aren't suffering from a serious mental illness. As Robert M. Pirsig wrote, 'When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion'. And in that Duke study, when it says, 'less mental illness', less mental illness than who? Who were the religiously active compared to? Probably just the religiously inactive. Since in the USA most people are religious, are we expected to believe that a non-religious minority group was the comparison, say scientists, and that they were found to exhibit more mental illness than religious evangelists? I suspect that if that study is valid, all it shows is that Christians that regularly attend church exhibit slightly less mental problems than Christians who don't. But since both groups are believing Christians, again it's not about their God but about their fellowship with others.
You're correct Ron that if there was genuine health advice in the Bible, then it would apply to everyone, and we would have been following it for thousands of years. But Jews, and Christians and Muslims who added to the Jewish 'Bible', are generally no healthier than atheists or Hindus and Buddhists, and in many countries Christians, eg much of Africa, are far unhealthier than atheists in secular countries. Christians speak of these hidden health secrets in the Old Testament, the Jewish 'Bible', but at the same time they refuse to follow the Jewish dietary commandments. Why should they believe the advice that God revealed in one passage but dismiss his advice in another? If they clearly believe that God was wrong when he said we mustn't mix meat and dairy products, and hundreds of other examples, then why do they believe anything he said? If you know someone has lied to you 500 times, why would you believe the next claim he makes, when on the surface it sounds just as bogus as the rest? All this bullshit about diabetes cures, Samson's hair, and healing music is simply devious Christian fraudsters seeking another way to suck money from gullible and deluded believers. Take the 'Wholetones' you mentioned, that healing comes about because of 'ancient frequencies and vibrations', as described in 1 Samuel 15-23. But there is absolutely nothing in that text that states or even implies that music can heal the body, or that the person in question was even ill, let alone suggests what the appropriate healing frequencies and vibrations might be. Let's look at the crucial passages:
'Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better." ... Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.'
The story actually tells of Saul being tormented by God. Saul is not ill, there is nothing to heal, he is simply being deliberately tortured by an evil spirit sent by God. What the text tells us is that David's harp playing, perhaps it was horrendously bad, would tend to drive the evil spirit away, and Saul would feel better. But the evil spirit kept returning, so the music was no cure, it healed nothing, it was simply a temporary respite.
The Bible makes not even a veiled suggestion that harp music is good for aliments such as leprosy or even a sore throat. It's good for demonic possession, that's it, nothing else. Of course Christians today will claim, well some of them will, that they no longer believe in demonic possession, in evil spirits sent by God to torment them, which is very smart of them. But if they don't believe the core element of the Saul and David story, then what reason do they have for believing the harp element? If there was no possession by a demon, if that was a deliberate lie or a naïve mistake, then there was no need for a magic harp. The music couldn't have cured what wasn't there. If they argue that Saul actually suffered from depression or a tumour on the brain, which was misdiagnosed as an evil spirit, then I can likewise argue that they were also wrong about what might have temporarily relieved Saul's suffering. Maybe it wasn't the music but Saul's homoerotic longing for David whenever he came and played his harp. My point is that Christians, if they are to be credible, must either believe the story in its entirely, evil spirits and all, or dismiss it all as superstitious nonsense. They can't say it contains healing secrets from God while at the same time giggling about the silly Jews and their belief in evil spirits.
The Saul story also exposes another flaw with the larger God story. Let's recall that God is all-powerful, that nothing can defeat him or his plans. And yet we see David with his little harp driving away the evil spirit that God sent to punish Saul, so God's plan to torment Saul was continually thwarted. And God, even though he's all-knowing, didn't know his plan would fail, and didn't even learn from the episode, since he kept sending the spirit back, unaware and unable to comprehend that David would simply take up his harp again. How could God be defeated and outwitted by a simple sheep herder? I'm forever amazed that the religious can read these stories, often studying them in depth, and not detect all the silly contradictions, and then not go on to realise that they're just silly fantasies written by primitive, ignorant men.
Dipping into their Bible apparently comforts Christians and bolsters their faith, and yet every time I'm referred to some Biblical passage I come away with yet another reason to dismiss belief in God. At times it's difficult to believe that we're both talking about the same old book.
Comment by Rene, 29 Jul, 2016
Billion-year-old air reveals surprise about oxygen on ancient Earth
Ancient air trapped in salt crystals was analyzed, and show oxygen at about 10%, or about 5 times the amount expected for that time period. Fascinating discovery! Observed directly too, so this is not guesswork.
Also shows though that "God created the planet for us ... and then made the air too low in oxygen to let us live more than a few minutes" apparently. Good designer, eh? (lol)
Get your religious apologetics ready to explain THAT one. Adam and Eve would have spent their creation gasping for air watching things gets blurry and dark REAL fast.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Jul, 2016
It is indeed a fascinating discovery Rene. I'm forever amazed at the evidence that scientists can wrestle from such ordinary material, such as old salt crystals.
Of course apologists dismiss radioactive dating as bogus, so they'll naturally apply the same silly argument to the analysis of the oxygen content ... it's wrong. But even if you just accept that for the sake of argument God did create the world in six days specifically for our benefit, even looking at what we see around us now raises huge problems. Around 75% of the planet is covered in cold water that we can't breath or drink. Much of the land is unsuitable for human life; too hot, too cold, too dry, too high, too toxic, too many dangerous predators etc. Humans, certainly humans without modern technology, can only flourish on a very small fraction of the Earth's surface, and not above it or below it. And size-wise the Earth is only a minute speck when compared to the solar system, which is an even smaller speck compared to the galaxy, which is completely lost in the vastness of the universe. And of course humans don't have to leave the Earth's surface by much and venture into space before they discover that it's even more deadly than the oceans. Nothing that we know of outside the Earth is pleasant to humans, everything wants to kill us. If God created the universe for our benefit, so that we could go forth and multiply, then he failed miserably. Earth isn't our springboard to explore the greater world that God made for us, it's our prison.
Comment by Rene, 08 Sep, 2016
He cut a potato and a cross was in the middle. Clearly it's the Lord's work.
'Holy potato' found at Quebec seniors' residence
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 08 Sep, 2016
Holy potato Batman! I guess it's true after all, there is a God! But seriously, every time I hear some religious Neanderthal proclaim that some silly mark (easily explained by nature) is actually a sign from their invisible god, it again makes me realise that the evolutionary divide between many humans and our cousins the apes is not that great, and for some there may be no real gap at all.
Hiding the mark of a cross inside a single potato. Oh for Christ's sake, is that it? Is that the limit of god's powers these days? One little cross inside one little potato? It's just amazing how pathetically useless Christians believe their god is in this modern age. Is he in an old folks home for decrepit old gods and dementia has made him forget how to do big miracles, and old age has zapped his powers even if he could remember?
And let's remember that this mark shaped like a cross could, and indeed surely did, occur naturally, so there is no way that the religious fools can show that in this special case their god went out of his way to create something that could easily have occurred naturally. Surely if their pathologically shy god wanted to reveal his presence it would make far more sense to make a sign that couldn't occur naturally and couldn't be dismissed as a weird coincidence. For example, make the stars form a huge cross, or, like in the Bible, make burning bushes (in the shape of crosses) appear simultaneously all over the world, or have all the animals start talking (as some did in the Bible), proclaiming god's existence.
Frankly if I was religious, it would be no different from being a pedophile, it's something I'd definitely want to keep quiet and hidden from those around me. I might believe that a mark in a potato is a sign from god, but I certainly wouldn't be stupid enough to tell people about my silly belief.
Comment by Ron, 09 Sep, 2016
Hi there John. Long time, no write.
Have a bit of a potpourri of religious related comments to spout out here and, as always, look forward to your well written and thought out responses.
Firstly, the cross in the potato comments on Silly Beliefs. Did you know the Jehovahs do not believe that common symbol of Christianity, the cross. They believe it was an upright stake. Although the bible does not describe the instrument of Jesus' death it uses the greek word stau ros which apparently means an upright stake, it never means 2 pcs of wood crossed in any way.
And going back to the humble potato and silly fools seeing symbols inside, here is another little story out of so many that abound out there. This one is true, no joke. A professor of geology told one of his students that his father was an evangelical Christian. During a discussion prof. asked dad "how do you explain fossils and the like when the earth is supposed to be only a few thousand yrs old?". The reply was "God put all that stuff here to test our faith". Is anyone surprised why non-believers don't take many Christians seriously?
A news item this week told us mother Theresa received sainthood status from the Pope. Of course there was strong vocal opposition from those who know plenty and are not afraid to speak out. Someone should have guided the Pope to read your Silly Beliefs article on mother Theresa!!! Sure she helped a lot of people but so do many unsung heroes everywhere. Francis could have seen another side to the story.
Would like to throw in 3 little annoying things, out of many, that fellow Christians used to throw at people when I was on that side of the fence.
"It's not Christian to question anything in the bible". Now it appears so much more obvious that as a christian one is not supposed to use their brain, the brain God gave them.
"If you don't believe in God one cannot know the difference between right and wrong". Well, I can only say now, look into all the scandals, past and ongoing, involving priests etc.
Another that annoyed me that I could never reconcile with is that I must love God far more than my wife or anyone else. Matthew 10:37 goes on that anyone who loves his father/mother/son/daughter more than God is not worthy of him. We were told that the more we love god the better we are at loving others. That marriage is a 3 way partnership, that god is the 3rd party. That one can have a more loving, intimate relationship with god than with any earthly relationship. Many Christian couples boast that they love Christ more than their spouses and that makes their marriage more successful. I cannot refute these claims. If they believe it makes a difference then great, but I could never gel with that. I love my wife dearly (but I hate my neighbour) and we are approaching 35 yrs and I have never regretted a minute of those yrs.
An additional common belief is that children brought up in a godly home will themselves be godly. I attended a catholic primary school then a state secondary school in a smaller town. All I can say now, decades later, is that statement is utterly untrue.
Some time back I read articles you wrote John, relating to atheism and you mention Richard Dawkins at times. I have not yet read "The God Delusion" but dug into various articles about him and many quotes from him incl the beaut you mentioned recently how he described God. I took a lot of notes and just wish to toss some in here as a slightly confusing mix. I found an article that quoted Dawkins in 2010 where the great atheist seems almost to do a back flip. Did you know he reluctantly admitted Christianity could be protecting us from the evils of this world? He said he had mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity as it might be a bulwark against something worse!! A christian commentator said "even the worlds most famous atheist recognizes that God is protecting us from evil". Dawkins goes on, and I cannot disagree with him here. "There are no Christians as far as I know, blowing up buildings, Christian suicide bombers, nor am I aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death".
I quote from another Christian here. "Has it never occurred to atheists that the administrations of atheists Stalin, Marx and Lenin were responsible for the slaughter of more than 100 million people who would not yield to godless communism? This does not mean all atheists are murderers. Such exterminations cannot be condemned on the basis of the philosophy of atheism".
Yet another says "design is probably the most powerful reason for the belief, held by the vast majority of people who ever lived, in some kind of supernatural deity. So that vast majority have been wholly irrational?, while the miniscule cult of atheists are the only ones capable of reasoning. Incredible." Dawkins writings are shredded in many instances John, with inconsistencies exposed, too many to write here. Dawkins, in an interview, re. humans said "you are here to propagate your selfish genes. There is no higher purpose in life". Picture the sad scene of parents holding their just deceased girl or boy and Richard consoles the weeping parents by saying, just remember that little (name) was nothing, she had no purpose in life but to propagate her selfish genes. Confusing?
Can there be a purpose without someone who purposed?
As someone said "The only consolation Dawkins and his idealogical kin can offer is a cold hole in the ground, a black hole of despair. Atheism robs us of so much but provides us with nothing".
To finish here is a quote from Bertrand Russell:
"The loneliness of the human soul is unendurable, nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love religious teachers have preached, whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at least is useless".
John, I'm not up to something, there is nothing to read between the lines. I'm floundering away on the same side of the fence but thought it may be interesting tossing in this amalgam. We do not really know if God exists or not, and despite a lot of silly things that make no logical sense, and loads of contradictions does it do any harm for people to believe in their own way if it helps give them a feeling of hope and purpose in their life journey?
"Through the long years
I sought peace.
I found ecstasy, I found anguish.
I found sadness
I found loneliness.
I found solitary pain that gnaws the heart.
But peace I did not find."
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 18 Sep, 2016
Hi Ron. Sorry for the delay in replying, and thanks for your patience.
OK, so Jesus and the cross. We've read arguments over what Jesus was crucified on — a cross, a tree, a stake, a bouncy castle — but we didn't know, or had forgotten, that Jehovah's Witnesses didn't accept the cross symbol, but with around 144,000 (and counting) different Christian denominations it's hard to keep track of what they all believe. Hell, I can't even name all of Santa's reindeer. What amazes us is that Christians are often so shocked when they discover that some other Christian church doesn't believe the same basic things that they do. But you don't get thousands of different churches without thousands of different interpretations of the Bible, and the embarrassing fact that Christians can't even agree among themselves about which details of their religion are true should be immensely worrying to them, but largely they are ignorant of the fact. They blindly believe that by being Christians they all essentially believe the same thing, or at least all the important things, and that there are only different churches because of personality clashes or whatnot. But if some Christian can't convince another Christian that their particular view of history is correct, and remember that they both already believe in divine magic, then what hope have they got of convincing an atheist who's scientifically literate?
So was it a cross? The Bible, surprise, surprise, isn't clear and is even contradictory. It never explicitly states that it was a t-shaped cross, while it does clearly state that it was actually a tree:
'The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead — whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.' (AC 5.30.)
Then there are contradictory passages that mention a cross, for example:
'We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.' (AC 10.39-40)
'When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead,' (AC 13.29-30)
'He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.' (1PE 2.24.)
'Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God! ... "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.' (MT 27:40-42)
So like everything in the Bible, no matter what you want to believe there is likely a passage that will support the view you want to argue for, and all you have to do is ignore all the ones that argue differently. How do we think Jesus was killed? Well since we don't believe he likely even existed, we don't think he was killed at all, so the question is moot. Outside of the contradictory Bible there is no contemporary evidence that he lived and was crucified, and plenty of circumstantial evidence that he was no more real than were the gods Zeus and Osiris. Yes, lots of people thought he was real, but then lots of people also thought Zeus and Osiris were real too.
'Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.' (JN 19:19)
'As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.' (LK 23:26)
But as has been mentioned by others, we have a real problem with the Christian cross fetish, and especially the Catholic
crucifix with it's gruesome portrayal of the bloody, tortured dead body of Jesus. Why is it that Christians harp on about
their loving god and yet this is the one image that they burn into our minds to represent their god. The symbol represents an execution device that was designed to prolong the suffering of the victim and terrify and warn those that saw it. It is a disgusting symbol that speaks of untold horrors, and yet Christians put it on their churches, over their children's beds and around their necks. If Jesus had been killed by a firing squad, would Christians all wear a little rifle around their neck? Do families of people beheaded by Islamic State terrorists wear little machetes around their neck to remind them of those that were killed? Sorry, but the thoughtless use of the cross symbol by Christians disgusts us.
I would never want to be
a member of a group
whose symbol was a dead
guy nailed to two pieces of wood
As for some Christians arguing that the fossil evidence (and a million other worrying bits of evidence) has been deviously created by God to test their faith, that is a clear indication of what childhood indoctrination (or brainwashing) can achieve. Others argue that it is Satan that is tempting them to abandon their faith. And unlike many stories that Christians tell involving a dialogue between a true believer and an atheist, many of these 'God is testing my faith' stories are indeed true. With these morons you would be arguing with the proverbial brick wall. Nothing you could say or show them would sway them, since if it didn't confirm their blind faith, then it was just another cunning test from God. Not only does it show how close-minded they are, it also shows that they'll continue to blindly obey and worship a god that, if they only thought about, is behaving in a quite despicable, disgraceful and dastardly manner, and hardly like the loving, just and forgiving god they claim he is. We're sure that if their family and friends continually tried to test and temp them by putting naked prostitutes or illicit drugs or stolen property in front of them, that they would very quickly condemn them as acting unethically toward them and greatly harming their relationship. In the police world this is called entrapment, and I think it's illegal. But seemingly it's OK for God to act like a right bastard.
Like it or not, the modern world revolves around science and technology and secular values, so this means that if it's all a test of our faith, then God has created a monumental lie, a false virtual world, and yet this fake world delivers in wonderful ways, with everything from antibiotics and smartphones to police to keep the peace. To add to this lie, God then goes to equally monumental lengths to hide from us and ignore us. And think about it, if an all-knowing, all-powerful god is going to create a scam to fool us, what hope have we got of not being fooled? How could a mere human see through a scam created by God, how could we beat God at a game of his design? So if God creates a fake world based on science that is to appear believable, then it's inconceivable that we wouldn't believe in it. If God plants fossils to fool us, then we're going to be fooled. To argue that God has tried to make some believable fake fossils and yet you can see problems with them is to imply that your god is a pretty pathetic god.
I've mentioned it before, but this reminds me of a Christian woman I encountered a while back, who on learning that I was an atheist, confidently said,
'There's nothing in the world, nothing that anyone could say or do, nothing whatsoever, that could ever convince me — ever! — that God isn't real.'
This is the very definition of close-mindedness, and clearly it is the way that many Christians think. It is scary to think that no matter the evidence, some people will deny the obvious.
As for the admonishment that 'It's not Christian to question anything in the bible', of course this is just a dictatorial way of stopping people detecting the many flaws in the Bible. All it shows is the genuine fear that the Church had of what would happen if people started thinking about what they read. If there are no errors or immoral commandments in the Bible, then questioning can never do any harm, because the following discussion and answers will resolve your concerns and serve to make your belief in the Bible even stronger. Being told not to question is one of the main indicators of a scam, eg don't discuss this amazing investment offer with your friends or your lawyer, just trust us and send us your money. If you were buying medical insurance, would you deal with a company that told you not to question anything you read in their policy? So why do stupid Christians not question their Bible?
As for needing to believe in God to know the difference between right and wrong, as you say, just looking at the history of the Church and its followers shows that to be a lie. Christians owned slaves, burnt witches and heretics at the stake, murdered Jews and Muslims and even fellow Christians, and even today are sexually abusing children and persecuting homosexuals. Was it right to own slaves, burn witches and rape children? As ethical atheists we'd say of course not, so clearly belief in some imaginary god doesn't help in the slightest in knowing what's right and wrong. But Christians would have once argued that there's nothing wrong with slavery or burning witches, and let's remember that while the Bible says it's wrong to have sex with goats, and your mother-in-law, it makes no mention of sex with little boys. It's amazing that God felt that he had to go out of his way to safeguard goats from sexual assault, but not children. And while the Christians will disagree, any moral code that places goats over children clearly demonstrates that they don't know shit about right and wrong.
When Jesus said that anyone who loved his family more than him was not worthy of him, all that reminds me of is a manipulative cult leader. And let's remember that he actually went further than talking about the level of love between him and your family. In Luke 14:26 he said that, 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple'. How could anyone that sincerely believes that they must hate their wife, parents and children, and push all their love towards God, ever then come to believe that they are now better at loving others? How screwed up can Christians get? And how can they love God/Jesus at all? This is somebody that they've never met, never had a conversation with, don't even know what they look like, someone that demands that they hate and leave their family, that they give away all their worldly possessions, that is already in an adulterous relationship with millions of others, that is wanted on numerous counts of genocide, is someone that raped a virgin, murdered and tortured his own son, and that is currently planning the torture of billions of others. How could anyone love such a monster? The only emotions we can muster are hatred and loathing. Even Mother Teresa admitted in her later writing that she feared God didn't exist because no matter how much she loved him, not once did he ever return that love. His deafening silence made her question her faith.
And yes, many Christians boast about successful marriages, but the cold reality is that Christians get divorced and commit adultery as much as, if not more than, non-Christians. Studies show that the marriages of the more fundamentalist Christians fail at a greater rate than more liberal Christians. Other studies show that what appears like a loving marriage is just a sham, with husbands and wives reporting that their sex lives are terrible and often ended not long after they married, and that their love for each other has long departed. They stay together for the good of their church. It's just like the Christians that promote abstinence, when the fact is that Christian teenagers on those programs are having just as much sex as secular teenagers, the only difference is that the Christians lie about it and feel horribly guilty about.
And you're right, the belief that children receiving a religious upbringing will be 'godly' is laughable. Especially Catholics, who believe they can commit almost any sin during the week and then be forgiven at confession on Sunday. What bloody hypocrites.
On to the Richard Dawkins quotes. First the one where you say 'he reluctantly admitted Christianity could be protecting us from the evils of this world'. You are quite mistaken in believing that 'the great atheist seems almost to do a back flip', although if you read that quote on an Christian website they may well have implied that, since you write that 'A christian commentator said "even the worlds most famous atheist recognizes that God is protecting us from evil"'. Of course this is absolute bullshit, but typical of how Christians distort the truth.
You didn't link to the articles you read, but after a little research we suspect that this is the original article from 'The Times': 'Scandal and Schism Leave Christians Praying for a 'New Reformation''. It's clear that it's considering the 'shocking catalogue of abuse' in the Christian Church, that Christians are deserting the Church, and the fact that atheism is on the rise. We're told that Christians are praying for a 'New Reformation' to save the Church. We're then told that,
'Even among the world's most famous atheists, the crisis of faith among Christians in Europe has been met with concern.
Clearly Dawkins is asking what will happen if Christianity disappears from Europe, what will, indeed what is, filling the religious vacuum? As Christian numbers go down, Muslim numbers are on the rise. Europe is confronted with a choice of two evils: Christianity or Islam? It's not that Dawkins likes Christianity any more than we do, but if Europe has to have a large group of religious nutters, is it safer to live among radical Christians or radical Muslims? He points out that radical Christians, annoying as they are, are no longer committing terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, whereas radical Muslims certainly are. If Christianity fades from Europe, he rightly suggests that it might likely be replaced with 'something worse'. Thus while Christianity remains, it serves as an obstacle to slow the rise of Islam, it's the lesser of two evils. In no way is Dawkins suggesting that Christianity, like some valiant warrior, is 'protecting us from the evils of this world'. He sees it as one of the evils of this world, but not as evil as Islam, and while Christianity and Islam are sparring with each other, the rest of us are safer. Likewise it's quite devious and misleading for that Christian to argue that 'even the worlds most famous atheist recognizes that God is protecting us from evil'. That's so wrong! Dawkins never even mentioned God, but that's where this person places the emphasis. How could Dawkins believe that God is protecting us when he doesn't believe that God even exists? Dawkins was clearly referring to the very real religion of Christianity, with its real churches and real believers, not the imaginary God of the Christians. It's depressing that so many Christians can't separate the belief that Christianity exists, which atheists agree with, with the quite different belief that God exists, which atheists don't agree with. Let's try an analogy.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: "There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse."'
Imagine that I have a Wiccan living next door, that is, a modern day witch, and her house is the base for the local coven. Imagine also that developers want to build a noisy nightclub on her property, but luckily for me she's not willing to sell, she enjoys her coven and the company of her fellow witches. So I tell my friends that I now have mixed feelings about the decline of witchcraft, in so far as witchcraft might be a bulwark against something worse. As much as the silly old witch and her silly beliefs annoy me, seeing her go and replaced by a noisy nightclub would be worse. She's the best of two evils. But wouldn't it be totally wrong for someone to claim that John the skeptic now recognises that witchcraft is protecting him from evil? Of course it would be, since real witchcraft isn't protecting me, the silly old witch refusing to sell is what's protecting me.
We found numerous Christian websites misrepresenting the above quote from Dawkins, and this one appears typical. It began by asking:
'Is one of today's most famed atheists making a flip-flop? According to several articles now circulating, Richard Dawkins says he has mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, "in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse".'
It immediately, and without any justification, implied that Dawkins is reconsidering his view on the existence of God. To the flip-flop question it should have answered, Hell No!, but it left it open, with the article falsely suggesting YES! It also implied that Dawkins can be found discussing his wavering atheism in 'several articles now circulating', when in fact there was only one article from six years ago, that, as we've revealed, had nothing to do with atheism. This recent Christian article concluded by saying,
'When someone truly knows the power of Christ, they can't help but be changed, and even the world's most famous atheist recognizes that God is protecting us from evil.'
Note how it talks of someone being changed by knowing the power of Christ and then immediately weaves this into the claim that Dawkins now 'recognizes that God is protecting us from evil'. We are clearly expected to wonder if Dawkins now knows the power of Christ.
How devious it is that some Christian noticed an innocent old quote of Dawkins and decided to built a false story around it, one which is now doing the rounds of Christian websites. How insecure they must be to resort making up lies, and how afraid they must be of Richard Dawkins to need to weaken his stature in the eyes of true believers. They have God on their side, why the hell are they so desperate to get Dawkins' approval? And as great a public communicator as Dawkins is, surely their all-knowing, all-powerful god is much, much better? Oh no, wait, he's not.
And it's not just Dawkins that insecure Christians are claiming, since in a comment following one of these articles proclaiming his defection, a poster called 'rickld' wrote:
The reality is that while atheist Anthony Flew did indeed give up on atheism just before his death, it's utter bullshit to claim that 'Some of the most notable, argumentative and influential atheists have come to believe in God in the last few years'. None have as far as we're aware. And to be accurate, Christians can't even claim Flew, they can't say that Flew came 'to believe in God', since he made it quite clear that he still didn't believe in a personal god such as the Christian God. What he came to believe in was an intelligent designer or a deist god, an unknown god that created the universe and then left, or died, never to return, and one that plays no part in our life or cares what we do. These days a deist god could also be an extremely advanced alien. When Flew, who wasn't a scientist, tried to explain to scientists why he now thought an intelligent designer was necessary, they in turn explained why he had been mislead by the intelligent design crowd. He then sheepishly admitted that the intelligent design crowd had neglected to reveal various flaws in their arguments, and we believe he died not really knowing what to believe. But one thing is certain, he did not ever believe in God.
'Wow. Let's all pray for Richard Dawkins. I am praying. Some of the most notable, argumentative and influential atheists have come to believe in God in the last few years, such as Anthony Flew in England.'
pieman > rickld
'Amen, God is changing hearts:)'
Onto your next Christian quote:
"Has it never occurred to atheists that the administrations of atheists Stalin, Marx and Lenin were responsible for the slaughter of more than 100 million people who would not yield to godless communism? This does not mean all atheists are murderers. Such exterminations cannot be condemned on the basis of the philosophy of atheism".
OK, the most stupid thing we always see with this common accusation is that Christians are essentially trying to make excuses for the many examples of mass murder, torture and genocide that they've committed. They're saying, OK, OK, we've murdered a lot of people in the name of God, stop reminding us, but what about Stalin, Marx and Lenin, they murdered a lot of people too, all in the name of atheism. If that were true, which it's not, all they would have proved is that BOTH Christians and atheists are uncaring, vicious killers. All Christians would have done is drag atheists down into the blood-filled gutter with them, meaning that both Christians and atheists are now worthy of our condemnation. But of course the argument is bogus, and strangely the last sentence of the above quote even explains why. What Stalin et al did had nothing to do with atheism, they weren't killing people in the name of atheism the way Christians were killing people in the name of God. Stalin, who had studied to become a priest, killed people that opposed him and his brand of communism, it was all about power, the fact that he later claimed to be an atheist really had nothing to do with it. Talking about 'the administrations of atheists' and 'godless communism' is as silly as talking about the 'the administrations of vegetarians' and 'vegetarian communism'. If Stalin was a vegetarian would Christians be arguing that his vegetarianism caused the slaughter of millions? We've heard of many people that Stalin had killed or imprisoned, and all of them were seen as a threat to his politics, to his hold on power, and none over a philosophical debate on atheism. We don't know of any country that has waged a war on their own citizens or another country to promote atheism. As the above quote admits, Stalin was promoting communism, not atheism. For decades the USA feared communism and the spread of communism, not the spread of atheism. It's also been noted that Stalin, Marx and Lenin (and Hitler) all had moustaches, so maybe it was the facial hair that drove them to slaughter people?
You write that another claim is that,
'design is probably the most powerful reason for the belief, held by the vast majority of people who ever lived, in some kind of supernatural deity. So that vast majority have been wholly irrational?, while the miniscule cult of atheists are the only ones capable of reasoning. Incredible.'
OK, the vast majority of people who ever lived have believed the world was flat, that we were the centre of a very small universe, that spells and omens could protect and harm us, that demons plagued us, that slavery was fine, and that women were inferior. Any argument that rests on what 'the vast majority of people who ever lived' think is almost certainly to be wrong. They have indeed all believed in 'some kind of supernatural deity', thousands and thousands of them, all of which every sophisticated person now accepts were utterly imaginary. So the 'vast majority have been wholly irrational' then? Well of course they have, since it's now been shown that their beliefs did not accord with reason or sound judgement. And we'd agree that 'design is probably the most powerful reason for the belief', just as little kids would argue that Santa is probably the most powerful reason for their Xmas presents. But just having a belief, even if it's held by most people, doesn't make it true. For much of history (and even today), ignorant people looked at the human body and said, Well, I can't see how that could arise naturally, it must be God, but then they also said the same thing about lightning and earthquakes. Everything from rocks and sticks to animals and twinkly dots in the sky were individually designed and created by God. But most Christians don't even believe that today, they've backed way off and now limit God's design to the initial creation of the universe and life. Once that was done now everything like rocks and lightning can arise naturally, God no longer has to carefully craft each rock or personally toss each lightning bolt. As our scientific knowledge of the universe increases, slowly but surely believers are taking tasks off God and handing them over to nature to complete. God has gone from being found in the synagogue to some mountain top, then to the clouds, then out with the stars, and now it's claimed that God isn't even in our universe at all, he's outside it. Eventually believers will back their God into a corner, and when they pull back the cover, find out that there's nothing there, and never has been. It was all a fantasy created by primitive man not long out of his cave.
The above believer talks of the 'cult of atheists'. WTF? Early Christianity was a cult, people deserting their family, being told to hate them, told to sell their possessions, and blindly following an authoritarian, charismatic leader pushing an extremist religious belief. But not believing in gods, or fairies, or leprechauns, and not joining some 'atheist church' and not obeying the commandments of some atheist pope, basically just living a carefree life, we can't see how that can be described as a cult. What is it with true believers? They're fixated on making it appear that atheists are just as religious as they are; saying that atheism is a religion, that it takes faith to believe in science, that we worship Darwin and Dawkins, that atheists have been mislead by Satan, that we've killed more people than believers, and now, atheism is a cult. None of that is true, it's all complete paranoid nonsense, but again, if it were true, it would only mean that atheists are as deluded and as dangerous as believers. And yes, atheists are a minority in society, but so too are surgeons, scientists, pilots and philanthropists. Does simply being a minority mean we're wrong to hold the views we do? Let's remember that people that fought against slavery and discrimination against women were once in the minority, but who would now not support those battles? Well, OK, yes, maybe the Catholic Church.
Right, to the meaning of life, where you start by saying that,
'Dawkins writings are shredded in many instances John, with inconsistencies exposed, too many to write here. Dawkins, in an interview, re. humans said "you are here to propagate your selfish genes. There is no higher purpose in life". Picture the sad scene of parents holding their just deceased girl or boy and Richard consoles the weeping parents by saying, just remember that little (name) was nothing, she had no purpose in life but to propagate her selfish genes. Confusing?'
First, you really should stop reading and believing such hateful Christian websites and emails. We find it quite offensive that people that would likely describe themselves as loving Christians can be so insulting of another human being over a matter of mere opinion. I've read many of Richard Dawkins books, viewed several of his TV documentaries and interviews, and he comes across as an intelligent, well-spoken, polite, considerate, friendly, decent human being. Yes, he may be frank, forthright and honest when he says that God doesn't exist, but no more than when the pope or some believer says that he most definitely does exist. If the pope can express his opinion without being vilified and maligned, then so too can an atheist. I find it disgusting that someone would say, 'Picture the sad scene', and then paint Dawkins as an uncaring, insensitive monster that visits and torments parents on the death of their child. There is no reason to believe that Dawkins would ever do such a thing, and all it does for me is to paint a picture of mean, vindictive Christians struggling to understand the modern world and striking out with false and odious insults.
In fact the only people that we're aware of that torment people at the time of death are Christians, either friends and family members or the visiting priest, who frantically plead with the dying atheist or lapsed Christian to accept Jesus into their heart otherwise, You know you're going to Hell, right?
OK, to Dawkins' quote: 'you are here to propagate your selfish genes. There is no higher purpose in life'. You don't say where this quote comes from, but a little research suggests it's from an Omni magazine interview in 1990, which we haven't read and have no access to. Clearly it's in reference to his book 'The Selfish Gene'. The problem we have here is that Christians form an opinion on the argument that Dawkins is making by reading just two sentences in an interview, rather reading his actual book. And if they do decide that they need just a little more info on evolutionary biology and genetics, they troll the Christian websites or ask a priest what he thinks. Even you Ron mentioned that regarding Dawkins, 'I have not yet read "The God Delusion" but dug into various articles about him'. If those articles are written by aggrieved Christians rather than scientists then all it will tell you is what an angry, annoyed opponent of Dawkins thinks of him and his books. If Christians want to understand evolution and view the arguments and evidence that Dawkins presents then they must read his books. Before they can agree or disagree they must read what Dawkins actually said, not what his critics think he said. Would Dawkins really have written the 'The Selfish Gene', a 300+ page book, if his argument could have been easily expressed in two sentences? Would the book have become so successful, and would people have wasted money on it, if the title of the book said it all? But unfortunately I've struck every extreme, from numerous ignorant Christians to two university science professors who have vocally criticised Dawkins for his intolerant, arrogant and silly arguments, and yet none of them had read a single one of his books, nor were they interested in doing so when I offered to lend them my copy. Everyone of them based their dislike of Dawkins on what they'd heard others say; essentially they were working from malicious rumours and gossip. And almost without exception, every one of their problems with what they thought Dawkins had said involved his perceived disrespect towards religion, not science.
But while we'd prefer that you read his books, we guess that you'd still like to hear what we think Dawkins meant by selfish genes and our purpose in life. Our take is that our genes contain the instructions for making our body and dictating much of our behaviour, eg sexual desires and food preferences. They function as a mindless, natural process; working away behind the scenes on tasks that they have no concept of, anymore than a toaster knows that it's making toast. It's difficult to talk of natural processes without at times making it appear as if mindless things actually know what they're doing, that they have goals to achieve, like when I said that genes are 'working away behind the scenes'. And when we anthropomorphise nature to aid our explanations, unfortunately many Christians then assume that genes can have goals and emotions, that they can decide to be selfish rather than altruistic. But of course this is mistaken. A gene is like a rock at the top of a hill. When that rock is bumped and starts to roll, the natural force of gravity will cause it roll, barring obstructions, to the bottom. The rock doesn't have to plan its trajectory and appropriate speed, or motivate itself to keep going, it's a mindless action following basic laws of physics. It's the same with a gene. When it's 'bumped' into action, it will follow basic laws of physics and some natural event will happen. Just as the rock had no choice in going down the hill rather than up, the gene has no choice in what mindless action it performs either. If the function of a specific gene is to make a certain protein, then like a mindless, uncaring robot it will continue to do that, come what may. If the gene beside it is failing to perform its function, or is being attacked by a virus, our gene will pay it no heed, it will not ask if it can be of help or assist in fighting off the virus. It will behave, in human terms, as a right selfish bastard, apparently interested only in its own goals. And of course we're lucky that this is the way genes function. Imagine if genes could think, could decide on their own goals, and did wonder what their purpose in life was? Imagine a gene suddenly saying, I'm sick of making bits of liver all day every day, I want to make movies! Our body would very quickly become malformed and almost as quickly die. So the fact remains that our genes, and the genes of every living thing, do, on human terms, appear extremely selfish, since they are only interested in making more of themselves and couldn't give a damn about some gene that might be struggling or living in poverty in a nearby human, or indeed even in another organ in the same body. Not only do genes not have a 'higher purpose in life', they don't, because they're just a collection of molecules, even have any concept of what the phrase 'higher purpose in life' even means. Genes aren't selfish because they choose to be, they merely appear selfish to us because they don't think of others, but then how could they?
OK, so now the Christian argument goes that if our genes are mindless robots concerned only with themselves, and since we humans are just a large collection of cells constructed and controlled by these 'selfish' genes, then doesn't that mean that humans as a whole have no choice but to also be selfish, concerned only with our individual selves? For most life-forms on the planet this is probably true, their genes drive their instincts and their instincts make them little more than organic robots. But as Dawkins was careful to point out in his book, humans, and a few animals, have a huge advantage over most other life. We are sentient, and even better, we apparently have free will. We can understand that our genes are uncaring little bastards that don't give a damn about the starving in Africa, or that our neighbour needs help in paying her rent, but even knowing this we can easily override our genes and decide to be altruistic rather than selfish. The Christian myth is that Dawkins is arguing that humans are all walking around like zombies under the selfish control of our genes, when of course this is clearly nonsense. We're certainly glad that our genes are, at their level, completely oblivious to what humans are really up to, and are just mindlessly repairing, producing and reproducing, but we're also glad that the human mind has evolved to take over from our genes in deciding whether we should help people, even at our own expense. So we're not at all confused by 'The Selfish Gene', and nor would honest Christians be if they only read it instead of burning it.
You asked: 'Can there be a purpose without someone who purposed?' The quick answer is yes, of course. I've just finished a book by Sean Carroll, 'The Particle at the End of the Universe', about the Large Hadron Collider and the recent discovery of a Higgs Boson, or what journalists love to call the God Particle. If you're curious, they never found any sign of God or his handiwork. Anyway, he wrote,
'If reality is simply the interplay of atoms, where are we to find purpose and meaning? Epicurus [an ancient Greece philosopher] responded to this challenge by locating value in life as we actually live it here on earth, encouraging his followers to be tranquil in the face of death, to value friendship highly, and to seek pleasure in moderation.'
We've always thought that meaning in life is whatever you want it to be, and those thoughts of Epicurus are as good as any. And what about these Christians that are so worried that they don't understand what God's purpose for them is, why they were put here,and what they should be doing? Frankly we don't think that have really thought too much about what it would really mean if our purpose was indeed decreed by God. They're saying that they don't have the brains to determine their own goals in life. They can't apparently choose between worthy goals and trifling or heinous goals, they need to be told by their God, perhaps in a dream. Should I become a doctor, should I be collecting for charity, should I marry and have children, should I become a drug dealer, should I join the army and defend my country? Gee ... I just don't know. How is a mere human to decide? If only God had put a label on me when he created me. We can imagine confused Christians alone in their bedroom crying out into the shadows: What is your bidding master? Please master, what is it that you desire of me? Why won't you command your unworthy servant? Are you displeased with me master, have I angered thee?
Let's be in no doubt here, Christians believe they are servants of God, deliberately created to serve some specific purpose that their master will communicate to them. They are slaves, and worryingly they have no problem with that realisation, they are happy and joyful to be one of God's slaves. They are pitiful. What sort of person are you if your treasured life's goal is to obediently serve a master, and not just any master, but a vicious, barbaric, unjust dictator? But let's consider how happy Christians would really be if God was real and actually did start telling them what their purpose in life was. Let's remember that God has some big, mysterious plan for us all, and that everything happens for a divine reason, every world event is designed to take us one step closer to Armageddon in the future. So let's imagine God saying to one Christian that she will be a prostitute, another will be a violent alcoholic, another will sexually abuse his children, and another will be the token evil atheist. On sensing some surprise from his servants, God will reply, Well, someone has to be those people. Think of yourselves as characters in a divine play, not everyone can be the lead, someone has to be the villain. Even in less extreme roles we're sure Christians will feel hard done by. They'll be told their purpose in life is to be a farmer, and they'll think, but I hate farming, I wanted to be a chef! Christians might find themselves moaning, But I didn't want to be gay, I wanted to be the heterosexual one. But this is not how it works if God is expected to give your life meaning and purpose. It means you can't choose, you're not an independent and autonomous human with rights and freedom. You were created by your master as a small, insignificant but specific cog in a gigantic machine. You are merely a tool, like a toaster, that God made for a specific purpose. Get used to it.
What Christian would accept being forced into some random career or into a marriage with a stranger or told to rob a bank, solely because the government decided to treat everyone as pawns in their plan to create a better society? Of course they wouldn't stand for it, they'd scream that humans have the right to choose their own destiny, to make their own choices, to live their own lives as they see fit. So why would they roll over and meekly accept God telling them what to do? Christians lament that they don't know for what purpose they were created, while at the same time revelling in the fact that they are free to choose their own goals in life, their own friends and where and how they shall live. If they're really that upset that they don't know their purpose in life, then they should give up all their worldly goods and retreat into a monastery or nunnery and pray incessantly until God relents and gives them a detailed job description.
Another problem with the Christian belief that God has created each person with a specific purpose, a purpose that must be discovered and fulfilled, is that it flatly contradicts another Christian belief, which in itself is nothing unusual in religion. Christians make the flawed argument that there is evil in their loving God's perfect world because he generously gave humans free will, the ability to make our own choices and choose our own destiny, and unfortunately some humans chose to do evil. All well and good, but it's impossible for humans to have free will if each of us has been designed and created to fulfil a certain purpose and to play a certain role in God's grand plan. If God decrees that the purpose allocated to Joe Blogs is for him to be the next Hitler, then that is what must happen, Joe has no choice in the matter, and therefore no free will. So the quandary we are now struck with is that if we truly do have free will (God-given or natural), then there can be no God-given purpose to our life since it would cancel out free will. But if we don't have free will and do instead have a God-given purpose in life that we must obey, then we are nothing but mindless zombies, actors playing a role in God's play, saying the words he's written for us and acting the way his script states, fulfilling our purpose. So personally, if I were a Christian, I'd be arguing that God gave me free will, and that he didn't then screw that up by forcing a specific purpose on my life.
You quote someone as saying, 'The only consolation Dawkins and his idealogical kin can offer is a cold hole in the ground, a black hole of despair. Atheism robs us of so much but provides us with nothing'.
Why are Christians so obsessed with their death, with 'a cold hole in the ground, a black hole of despair'. For Christ's sake, focus on your life, on the here and now, on the people you love, on making a difference in this world, on living life to the full, on enjoying every moment. Why are Christians so greedy in that this life is never enough, not by a long shot, and why do they even think that they deserve more? What have they done with their life so far that demonstrates they deserve another billion or trillion lifetimes to fulfil all their grand plans? And if they've wasted this one, with an infinite number still to come, what motivation is there that they'll ever bother to achieve anything in the next life, after all, there will always be tomorrow? It amazes us that Christians think that they're so special that God just can't afford to let them die, they have to live forever. What arrogance! The fact is that the universe managed perfectly well for billions of years before they were born, and we're convinced it will muddle on for trillions more once they die, in fact we're not even sure it will notice that they've gone. The conceit of Christians to think that they need to live on, that they deserve to live on, is staggering. Based on their behaviour, many people didn't even deserve this life.
Think about it, there are only two options. Either there is an afterlife, or this life is all you get. If there is an afterlife then it doesn't matter if you wasted or screwed up this one, since by comparison this one will be so brief that after a billion years you won't even remember it. But if this life might be all you get, then doesn't it make sense to live this life to the full, seize every opportunity, take risks, go skinny dipping, travel the world, love and be loved, learn how to juggle. Why waste this life pining for the next, when the next will likely never come? No one has ever come back and confirmed that life goes on after death, so doesn't it make excellent sense to live this life as if it doesn't, and be pleasantly surprised if it does. How pissed off would truly celibate priests be if there was some way of them realising on their death that they had given up sex for nothing?
The quote says that 'Atheism robs us of so much but provides us with nothing'. Rubbish, the realisation that there is no magical afterlife provides you with the incentive to make the most of now. It stops you wasting your life. It lets you sleep in on Sundays and have guilt-free sex. We atheists should get good service medals. And what does atheism rob Christians of? Mistaken belief in a fantasy? When we adults finally reveal to children that Santa isn't real, they could likewise complain that we rob them of so much but provide them with nothing. But again we have taken away a mistaken belief in a fantasy, and by doing so we have better equipped them to live and flourish in the real world. What adult would thank us for continually lying to them about Santa? I'm grateful that I can see the universe as it is and can try and understand some of it real mysteries. I'd be horribly upset if after leading a religious life I learnt on my deathbed that the world isn't flat and built on pillars after all, and that my god Zeus doesn't exist. Horribly annoyed that my family and friends hid this from me because they didn't want to rob me of my fantasy.
As for those two quotes from atheist Bertrand Russell, I'm not quite sure what to make of them. Are you suggesting that we need a belief in God to combat loneliness? To me belief in God seems to be the worse thing imaginable as a cure for loneliness. People that believe in God never get to hang out with him, never get to chat with him on the phone when they're down, never receive a card on their birthday. In fact they've never even met God and have no idea what he looks or sounds like. Even in their darkest moments when they've reached out to him in desperation and despair, he has never reached out a consoling arm in reply. He sounds like the worst of friends, in fact he sounds like an imaginary friend. And anyone that solves their loneliness by inventing an imaginary friend has only replaced one problem with another. Also whatever Christian website you got the second quote from, that ends with, 'But peace I did not find', it seems to be a typical example of where Christians deviously omit text that ruins their argument, since the poem is called 'To Edith' and the next verse says,
'Now, old & near my end,
You finish by saying that 'We do not really know if God exists or not ... [so] does it do any harm for people to believe in their own way if it helps give them a feeling of hope and purpose in their life journey?' We often hear that argument, and it's conclusion sounds reasonable, what harm does it do? But we think it's a misleading argument because we feel it's based on a false or at least unreasonable premise, that is, 'We do not really know if God exists or not'. It's true that we can't prove categorically whether God exists, but people can likewise argue that we can't prove categorically whether the Tooth Fairy exists either, so our state of knowledge concerning God and Tooth Fairy are essentially identical. So what happens if we take the above argument and replace the God premise with the Tooth Fairy premise, is the conclusion still reasonable:
I have known you,
And, knowing you,
I have found both ecstasy & peace,'
'We do not really know if the Tooth Fairy exists or not ... [so] does it do any harm for people to believe in their own way if it helps give them a feeling of hope and purpose in their life journey?'
They are logically identical arguments, but now we suspect that most people would be reluctant to say that they are perfectly happy and willing to let their fellow adults spend their lives believing in the Tooth Fairy. Or leprechauns, Santa Claus, gremlins or the Norse god Thor. The argument is the same no matter what supernatural being it is that people think it might be a good idea to believe in. So why is it that no one makes this argument using the Tooth Fairy or leprechauns? Because in the real world almost nobody sits on the fence and demands 100% evidence for or against before they make the call, they look at the evidence that we do have and ask what conclusion a reasonable person would reach. All intelligent, sophisticated and rational adults prefer to see the world as it really is, warts and all, rather than cocoon themselves inside consoling fantasies. Use the above argument to defend a colleague's belief in the Tooth Fairy and everyone will, quite rightly we think, challenge you and your colleague, and likely question your sanity. So if this argument fails for the Tooth Fairy, we can't see why it should work for God, since just as for the Tooth Fairy, there is no evidence for God and much evidence against.
Furthermore, if we allow religious people to blindly get 'a feeling of hope and purpose in their life journey' from belief in their god, without challenging them, then we must accept what we get from that. Let's recall that many Christians believe it's their God-given purpose in life to persecute homosexuals, to refuse condoms to AIDS ravaged Africans, to prevent women having abortions, even victims of rape and incest, to terrorise children with visions of hell, and even to tell me when and how I should use my genitals. Then we have radical Muslims who see their God-given purpose in life as slaughtering infidels wherever they may find them, imprisoning their women in black tents, often after mutilating their genitals, and murdering even their own daughters and sisters if they feel they've shamed the family name. What harm does letting someone believe sincerely in religion do? There's the harm. It would be very hypocritical to say that we should only let religious believers have a 'purpose in their life journey' if their behaviour conforms to our expectations and doesn't impact on our lives at all. Of course this would be where good Christians would pipe up and say that they didn't mean that the beliefs of Muslims shouldn't be challenged. They were talking about God, not Allah, and, well, you know, Allah is clearly in the Tooth Fairy category.
And contrary to the view that Christians like to suggest, we atheists have never insisted that they must stop believing in their God, nor could we stop them even if we wanted to. We merely claim the freedom to describe the universe as we see it, as they do. If our view, and the evidence we marshal, worries them and threatens their recruitment of young and gullible believers, then they need to implore their god to front up and table his evidence. I think we're all free next Wednesday. Have your people call our people.
Comment by Ron, 20 Sep, 2016
John, thank you for the time and effort you put into your response to the load I dropped in your lap. Yes, it was a while coming and you know I can be an impatient bugger, but it was worth the wait. I found it enlightening. I must include links where possible to make it easier, incl. for myself. All quotes are not all from websites as you assume. Some are from mags and booklets.
You say I should stop reading and believing hateful Christian websites and emails. I never said if I believed or disbelieved most of those quotes, did I? All I'm doing is bouncing them off you to learn to see many things differently and logically because you have travelled the atheist road a long time and have obviously done a huge amount of reading with a great amount of understanding of what you read. Your responses may be of help to some others. Are there not some hateful articles written by atheists out there. I can find them but not as many, due to there being less atheists, I guess. There is an obsession with many Christians to insult atheists. The reverse happens too. I read of an altercation between an atheist woman and a Christian where the atheist said "you deserve to burn in hell, forever". I'm surprised she believed in such a place!! John, you are always insulting believers calling them idiots, fools, fuckwits, morons, etc Those are not like the horrible insult quoted above, more petty, but still...
I don't refute what you say on how you have found Dawkins as a person. I have been put off reading the whole book 'The God Delusion' due to so much criticism of it. However, I am considering trying to get a copy from one of our libraries. In relation to the Bertrand Russell quote you ask if I'm suggesting a belief in God is necessary to combat loneliness. Not at all. It is quoted exactly as I found it, incl. "but peace I did not find" which you referred to as a second quote. The Christian writer mocked and derided Russell somewhat as well, a rather nasty type. Some quotes here of criticisms of 'The God Delusion'. "Dawkins is a biologist, not a philosopher". "There is no new ground in his book". "This is not his best". Some longer ones. From a British journo and scientific writer "who would have thought Dawkins capable of writing this bad. Incurious, dogmatic, rambling, self-contradictory. It has none of the style and verve of his earlier works. D. cannot accept the obvious conclusion — that thoroughgoing atheism is unnatural and will never be popular". This from a non-believer: E. Brian Davies, Brit mathematician. "The worst feature of the book is its failure to get to grips with the variety of religious beliefs. His real enemy is fundamentalism but he attacks religion indiscriminately, unable to grasp that many moderate believers dislike it as much as he does. The book does not approach his usual standards and I suspect he got carried away by the sheer enjoyment of writing it". Another says the book "seems designed to reassure atheists whose faith is faltering rather than engage fairly with believers and others seeking truth". And another: "his hectoring bullying tone and utter determination to find fault with religion of any kind". And so it goes. You suggest I read it John. As I said I will consider doing so.
Getting away from Dawkins. I see the French Revolution is also classed as another example of mass killing under atheism, that it repressed religion in an attempt to replace the trinity with a new one of liberty, equality and fraternity. 1000's were guillotined, including many priests, for refusing to swear allegiance to the new regime.
On what I hope is a lighter topic. Here is another of those stories that gets bandied about often by believers that gives great confidence in the existence of god. Of course, you would have heard of it. That is the earth and the perfection that goes with it. Ie its perfect distance from the sun, its perfect size that enables gravity to hold our atmosphere of the correct gases to sustain plant, human and animal life and water. That the moon is the perfect size and distance to create tidal movement so ocean waters don't stagnate, etc. Christians believe generally that no other planet exists in the universe that has these attributes for life. With the mind numbing statistics relating to the universe there must be colossal numbers of planets out there, many being in ideal positions in terms of size, distance from a sun, etc. Do they have inhabitants of some sort, we do not know.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Sep, 2016
Hi Ron. Regarding our comment about hateful Christian websites and emails, no, you never said whether you believed or disbelieved those quotes, but you did say you were confused, so clearly you don't actively disbelieve them all. We know that you're just seeking our opinion on these quotes, that's why we tried to be careful to note that the quotes came from others, not you. And we're sure there are some hateful atheists out there, every group has their bad apples, just ask the Catholic Church or Muslims. Although what we've seen described as atheist hate speech by many Christians is nothing of the sort. The problem with religion is that for an atheist to simply say in the most humble, respectful and polite way possible, that in our opinion god does not exist, is considered by many believers as hateful. It's blasphemous and their god says we should be killed for expressing such an opinion. Let's remember that it's not just homosexuals that God views as an abomination, it's atheists too. So good Bible-thumping Christians should hate us, and express that hatred. We understand that. We're seen to be denying their faith, questioning their intelligence and risking their chance of reaching Heaven by not speaking out against us.
The thing is, when someone expresses a view different to mine on politics or recycling or the merits of ballet, I don't class their opinion as hateful; we simply disagree and go on with living our lives. But disagree with a religion and suddenly your opinion is viewed as a declaration of war, and as we know with war, we must really hate the enemy otherwise we can never kill them. So it's not surprising that devout believers feel hatred towards non-believers, you need that sort of motivation to chop off heads as the fanatical Muslims do.
As for the atheist that said to the Christian, 'you deserve to burn in hell, forever', of course she didn't believe in such a place. Without reading the full exchange I'd only be guessing, but there are some Christians who deserve to have that said to them. By that I mean that there are many Christians who have said that one of the joys they look forward to after their death is taking day trips from Heaven to Hell, so that they can laugh and cheer as they watch people like me being tortured. And frankly, any human being that can genuinely say that is really the sort of person that should be in Hell, not kind, decent folk whose only crime was that they didn't believe in the right imaginary god. My guess is that the Christian in the above exchange said something vile that indicated that if anyone needed to be tortured for being evil, it was the Christian.
And yes Ron, we do sometimes call believers in nonsense idiots, fools, fuckwits, morons etc, but there's a major difference between insulting someone and defaming them. For example, we can call Ken Ring an idiot for promoting astrology (and we have evidence to back up our claim), but we would never falsely accuse him of something he was not guilty of, eg being a pedophile. The reality is that when you believe something for foolish and stupid reasons then you are an idiot. It's a fact, it's the dictionary definition. Anyone that believes a snake talked to a women who was made from a man' s rib who was in turn made from dust by an invisible sky fairy is a stupid person. And what's another word for a stupid person: moron! As is half-wit, cretin, dimwit, jackass, fool and fuckwit. And these are all dictionary definitions, yes, even fuckwit, meaning 'Stupid; moronic'. We may say that there's no evidence for something and much evidence against it, and that the person promoting that belief is being extremely foolish and stupid, but that's just a longwinded way of saying that they're an idiot. The longwinded phrase may sound more polite and respectful, but anyone with a rudimentary vocabulary knows that they've just been called an idiot. And we back up our justification for using these words with evidence and reason, they're not empty insults designed to annoy. They are words that describe the reality of the situation.
As for Bertrand Russell, and me referring to a 'second quote', that's because the text you quote from Russell was from two completely different articles, yet it was made to look like it was one, and as we pointed out, it deliberating omitted the next verse of the poem which changed the entire message. And the Christian writer may have thought Russell was a 'rather nasty type', but that doesn't mean that what Russell was saying was wrong. Many of Russell's era didn't like him, he was refused a post at a US university solely because he was an atheist, even thought he was famous as a mathematician.
You supply quotes of criticisms of 'The God Delusion' and say this is why you haven't read it, but I have to wonder why you didn't supply and didn't consider quotes supporting 'The God Delusion'? A book doesn't become a bestselling book because everyone hates it. If most everyone from believer to non-believer was equally appalled with the book then it wouldn't be the most famous atheist book on the planet. Christians hate and continuously criticise 'The God Delusion' for one simple reason, it was surprisingly and amazingly popular, and millions of potential recruits are reading it.
Even Christopher Hitchens' book, 'God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything', isn't as well-known as 'The God Delusion', and yet it is just as forthright. You probably haven't even heard of books such as 'The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason' by Sam Harris, 'God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist' by Victor J Stenger, or 'Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam' by Michel Onfray, and yet these books, and many others, are just as good and equally scathing of religion. Christians fear 'The God Delusion' because people that would never bother reading the other books I just mentioned are being tempted to read 'The God Delusion' because of its high profile. And what is the Christian response? Just as the Catholic Church tried to ban the movie 'The Da Vinci Code', worried Christians want to prevent people reading 'The God Delusion', and so they have this widespread campaign to discredit it. Claiming that it's just some vile hate speech that doesn't deserve the time of day. Don't worry they say, we've read the book so that you don't have to. Trust us. Of people that have criticised 'The God Delusion' to us personally, without exception they have all been people that mostly have never read the book, and are speaking from ignorance, and of the handful that say they have read it, they were all true believers that view any book that criticises their god as something that must be attacked. After all, their Bible says they must condemn what atheists say, so how can they not condemn Dawkins' book?
Let's quickly consider some of those negative quotes: 'Dawkins is a biologist, not a philosopher'. Agreed, but if only philosophers can write about the existence of gods, then no Christian who isn't a qualified philosopher should be discussing the subject either, which immediately means we must throw out thousands of books on religion written by priests, popes, minsters, evangelists and theologians. And today, it could be argued that because of our scientific knowledge, scientists are far more qualified to investigate the existence of gods than even philosophers. 'There is no new ground in his book'. Agreed, there is nothing 'new' about the 'new atheism', but this book was written for people that knew little or nothing about atheism and religion, and for them there was much new ground covered. 'This is not his best'. That's debatable, and irrelevant. Even if not his best, that still doesn't mean it's not a good book well worth reading. That's like saying the latest 'Star Wars' is not the best of the series, even though it's still a bloody good movie. 'Who would have thought Dawkins capable of writing this bad'. Yes, that's right, Richard Dawkins has become a celebrity, making appearances worldwide, and all for his really, really bad writing.
And we had to laugh at the quote that said the book 'seems designed to reassure atheists whose faith is faltering rather than engage fairly with believers and others seeking truth'. The book doesn't 'reassure atheists', we don't need reassuring, there's nothing in the book that an informed atheist doesn't already know, what it does is it creates atheists out of the confused people that read it, and that's what makes it such a threat. If all it did was bolster the confidence of a handful of existing atheists, then it in no way affects the Church, they don't lose any believers since the book was only talking to atheists. The Church hates the book because it talks to believers that are having doubts, and explains why they're right to have doubts. And the book most certainly engages fairly with believers, and again that's why it's feared by the Church, because it reveals truths that they would rather remain hidden. Priests abusing children? Nonsense, it's not happening, that's just a mean witch hunt by the secular media!
Your comment that apparently 'the French Revolution is also classed as another example of mass killing under atheism, that it repressed religion in an attempt to replace the trinity with a new one of liberty, equality and fraternity', could equally describe another battle between atheist and religious forces that is going on right now. We mean the secular forces (always confused by Christians as atheist forces) that are battling Islamic State, an attempt to repress a religion and replace it with 'liberty, equality and fraternity'. Oh yes, we atheists are indeed evil. How dear we have the arrogance to offer liberty and equality and lessen the chance of your being beheaded on the way to the pub? How long will it be before Christian websites start adding up the numbers that atheist armies have killed in our fight against yet another harmless religion? And in reality of course the French Revolution, just like Stalin's Russia, was not a movement that was fighting under the name of atheism. It was a political struggle to battle the oppression caused by the monarchy, the nobility and the Church. They brought in a secular constitution, that is, the separation of church and state, and the odds are that almost everyone that killed someone on either side during the revolution would have been a committed Christian, not an atheist.
Yes we've heard, and laughed at, the Christian ignorance when it comes to their silly belief in a perfectly designed Earth and universe. In 1600 the church burned philosopher Giordano Bruno at the stake, and one of the reasons was for suggesting that there might be other inhabited planets out there. They still haven't changed their view, but luckily they're not allowed to kill us any more. Of course they have to hold the view that life, especially intelligent life, only exists here, since if there are aliens out there then some are sure to be more advanced than us, but how can that be if we are God's special creation? How special can we be if he made beings that are better than us, or even the same as us? If there are other 'humans' out there then have they sinned too? If they never sinned in their garden in Eden, then that means they don't need Jesus to forgive them, meaning they don't know Jesus, meaning you can lead good, decent lives without ever letting Jesus into your heart. But that's what the atheists say, so that can't be right. So 'humans' or aliens on other planets must have sinned too, which means that Jesus must have been tortured and killed on millions and millions of planets, over and over again, to forgive their alien sins. Right this minute Jesus must be screaming in agony on some distant planet, so he can rise again and forgive the local aliens. That's why Jesus hasn't returned as he promised 2,000 years ago, he's just too busy dying over and over again on alien planets.
But seriously, discovering intelligent alien life would be a major if not fatal blow to Christianity, since it would prove that we're not special after all, and everything the Bible said was a lie.
Comment by Rene, 26 Oct, 2016
Pope's at it again & I guess God changed his mind yet again on petty things on our planet.
Vatican: Ashes must not be scattered or kept at home
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Oct, 2016
Thanks Rene. Yes, the Church states that Catholics can now be cremated rather than buried, even though 'For most of its 2,000-year history, the Catholic Church only permitted burial'. God apparently had a quiet word with the pope back in 1963 and said he'd changed his mind, that he was now happy with cremation as long as Catholics still foolishly believed that he could put them back together when the time eventually arrived. That's the time when Jesus finally commits himself to the second coming. And note while God is happy to communicate about burial versus cremation, he's still not willing to reveal or even hint as to when Jesus might be returning, even though he promised he's be back some 2,000 years ago. What's he hiding?
But God has again altered his cremation rules because, even though he knows the future, apparently he didn't foresee that some Catholics would have their ashes scattered or would adopt New Age ideas. The Church now states that 'Catholics who choose to be cremated for reasons contrary to the Christian faith must be denied a Christian funeral'. Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the moron who has written down God's new wishes, stated that, 'The dead body isn't the private property of relatives, but rather a son of God who is part of the people of God ... We have to get over this individualistic thinking'.
When are Christians going to get it through their thick heads that they are the property of their master? They are nothing but servants, slaves of a sky fairy, and they have to stop thinking that can do as they please. They are property, chattels, and must do as their master bids, even if he does annoyingly keep changing his mind.
So even though old flip-flop God now allows cremation, he says their 'remains cannot be scattered, divided up or kept at home but rather stored in a sacred, Church-approved place'. But what's it matter whether you're cremated and scattered or buried, over time the majority of the body ceases to exist, so there is nothing left for God to reassemble. And throughout history a huge number of Christians were buried where they died, eg at sea, on the battlefield, exploring foreign lands, overlooking the family homestead etc, not in a 'sacred, Church-approved place'. Also, as the article notes, there was the age-old Church sanctioned 'practice of dividing up saints' bodies for veneration', and scattering them around Europe if not the world. So again, why has God changed his mind once more, now decreeing that dividing up dead bodies is a bad idea? How can a God that knows everything make mistakes, thinking one thing a thousand years ago and a different thing today? Humans can make mistakes and certainly don't know the future, but God is infallible. So why is he needing to make corrections?
Or is it that there is no God, and it's just pathetic popes, bishops and priests scrambling to draft changes to make their fantasy a little more acceptable in a changing godless world?
Comment by Anonymous-16, 30 Oct, 2016
Good afternoon to you john. I will first like to say thank you for all that you do for the rational thinking movement. You really help a lot of us with mental illness who have a tougher time applying critical thinking. Basically I suffer from severe ocd with low insight. Because of that I have a major problem with pseudo science beliefs I.e. things like coincidences, synchronicity, and precognition etc. I'm really fighting to be a strong skeptic minded person, but because of my weird experiences in those areas, and the convincing things that I've read from pseudoscientific and paranormal websites, I can't be the critical thinking person I want to be. I found a lot of peace when I read a lot of your responses to paranormal believers who believe in telepathy and esp etc. But recently because of some recent experiences with uncanny coincidences and coming across a paranormal website that has truly convinced me of the reality of precognition from dreams and deja vu, I've become distressed again. I really hate websites like the following, that claim things as paranormal, without giving other explanations. But I must say this girl's story and her theory that she writes out regarding deja vu and dreams sounds very convincing in proving the reality of esp. The website owner basically tells her real life story of predicting a major future event from a dream, and having it actually occur just 2 days later with a strong deja vu feeling. Based on this girl's story and theory, it seems like it could really shake our current world view, if material science takes it seriously and study it. What scares me about convincing stories like these is that if one paranormal thing like that exists, then it means all of them could potentially exist. And with my type of mental illness, that's really disturbing! Since you're a very strong critical thinking person, I will just love to have your expertise on this matter, so I can get some type of peace of mind regarding this issue. I will link this person's website below so you can read her story and theory on deja vu and esp. Please get back in touch as soon as possible, thanks.
'Deja Vu and Dreams Really Coming True'
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 31 Oct, 2016
I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear me say that real experiences occasionally matching a dream is indeed all down to coincidence. And I'm afraid that the young woman who claims to have seen the future in a dream has, probably unintentionally, distorted what actually happened. When telling her story she's very close to the mark when she writes, 'My Dream Come True...Well, Not Exactly...' So let's look at how closely her dream matches what later happened.
In her dream she said she was 'standing in a distinct location of the restaurant'. In real-life she said she 'went to the distinctive location in the restaurant that I went to in my dream'. She deliberately went to a location to make it match the dream. So this is not déjà vu nor a premonition.
In her dream the coworker approached her. In real-life she approached the coworker to again make it match the dream. So this is not déjà vu nor a premonition.
In her dream the coworker told her she was fired. In real-life the coworker had no knowledge of her being fired. So this is not déjà vu nor a premonition.
In her dream the coworker told her she was fired because of the wife. In real-life the coworker said no such thing. So this is not déjà vu nor a premonition.
In her dream she learnt that she was fired because the wife didn't like her. In real-life she never found out the reason why she was fired. So this is not déjà vu nor a premonition.
The only thing that matches her dream is that she was fired. Nothing else does. And in real-life many people are often well aware that their job is on the line and that it could soon end. I've been made redundant three times, and not once was it ever a surprise. Each time everyone in the company could clearly see that the downturn in work would result in redundancies in certain departments. The bosses tried to remain positive but we could all see the future without having to resort to dreams. In this specific case, if the boss's wife truly was jealous of her, then it's very likely that she and her coworkers would know of that jealousy. Perhaps the wife had been moaning to her husband. If she was then subsequently fired, but not told why, then it's not unreasonable that she would suspect she had been fired because of the wife's jealousy. But perhaps she was fired because she was incompetent, or simply not needed anymore. Or perhaps the restaurant was struggling financially and needed to reduce staff. She may have been fired because her employer was sick of her standing around talking about her dreams with coworkers rather than working.
The reality is that she was apparently not told why she was fired, and she only believes it was due to the wife's jealousy because of her dream. Neither her employer nor coworker supported that belief. Maybe the wife was keen to get rid of her, but again, if that were the case then any normal person would sense that animosity on a day by day basis, you don't need a dream to tell you that someone doesn't like you. She admitted that the wife worked in the restaurant, and noted that her conspiring to get her fired was 'not a far fetched theory', which to me suggests that they were not all that friendly with each other. If they were, she would have expressed surprise that the wife had suddenly turned on her for no reason. Again, she doesn't know why she was fired, but clearly her real-life relationship with the wife makes her suspect that jealousy was the reason. If she had a good relationship with the wife, then contrary to what the dream revealed, she would be loath to blame her for being fired.
She stated that her dream 'lingered in my mind days afterwards', which implies several days, not just one or two, but then she said she was fired just a 'a couple days after this dream'. It's a minor point, but this mismatch suggests that her memory of the event is not that accurate, and if she's unsure of one detail, then she might be fudging some of the other details as well.
But what's the real connection between dreams and déjà vu? According to my dictionary definition, déjà vu is a psychology term meaning, 'The illusion of having already experienced something actually being experienced for the first time'. There are two important things to note. One, déjà vu is an illusion, meaning that as real as it might feel, it is a false belief. And two, as real as it might feel, the event is 'actually being experienced for the first time'. Déjà vu, like dreams, is simply an illusion that the mind creates, it is not something that reveals reality. To me the most reasonable explanation of déjà vu is a misfiring in the brain. Think of when you see a familiar face in a crowd or a famous landmark that you've visited or you smell some freshly baked bread or pizza. Your brain not only sees that image or notices that aroma, it attaches a tag to it that reminds you that you've seen or smelt that thing before, and not only that, it reminds you of your feelings about that thing, whether it's a person, place or foodstuff. Likewise when you see something that you've never seen before, your mind doesn't tag that thing as being familiar, because of course it isn't. You have no memories or feelings about new things because you have no experience of them. But now imagine if something goes wrong in your mind and it misfires. Imagine you see something for the first time, but your brain erroneously tags it with the, 'I've seen this before' tag. You struggle to remember where you've seen it before, or when, or how you felt about it, but you can't. Because this sight is actually new, none of those tags exist, and so none have been attached to what your mind is seeing. But a simple misfiring did attach that false 'I've seen this before' tag, and even though you're quite sure this experience is new, something keeps nagging at you.
And we know all too well that our brains are not 100% reliable at retrieving memories. Our memories of some event, if they exist at all, are scattered throughout our brain, not all stored in one location like on a DVD. Signals from our senses such as our eyes and ears all go to different parts of the brain. Separate memories of what we saw, heard, smelt, felt and tasted along with our feelings and emotions of that event are also all stored in different areas, and when we attempt to recall a complete memory, all these different memories must be located, retrieved and reassembled to give us an accurate memory of some past event. But the mind isn't a perfect storage and retrieval system, and sometimes we get a familiar face but the name of that face isn't retrieved. We know we know that person but can't recall their name. Or we know we've been to a certain city but can't remember when. The brain's memory database must somehow index all these distributed memory segments and retrieve them all to recreate a complete memory of the event as it actually happened. But this rarely happens, and the older a memory becomes, the more that is lost each time a memory is accessed, and the more fractured it becomes. But not only does the mind often fail to retrieve all the correct individual parts of a particular memory, sometimes it retrieves the wrong parts, partial memories from a completely different event, and in doing so it creates a memory of an event that never actually happened, or at least not in the way you're now viewing it. So to me, déjà vu is simply the mind mistakenly tagging an event as 'I've seen this before', when really it should have said, 'I've never seen this before'. As amazing as the brain is, we know that it makes mistakes and sometimes even falls well below what is considered optimal to lead a normal life. You mentioned mental illness, and this is nothing but the brain generating thoughts and emotions that don't match reality, or creating memories that are completely bogus. When a person with a mental illness can't recognise his family, or believes his arm is not part of his body, or argues that he's married to Marilyn Monroe, or swears that aliens are monitoring his thoughts, we know that these delusions are caused by some sort of electrical and chemical imbalance in the brain. We know that the brain in these people is falsely tagging certain experiences with bogus emotions and memories. And to me déjà vu is just a rare example of this, a time when the brain attaches the wrong tag — a feeling of familiarity — to an experience that has actually never been experienced before. We don't think people with mental illness are able to predict future events or have access to some special realm, and likewise I see no reason why we should think that people that rarely experience déjà vu can predict the future either. Their brain simply misfired and lied to them. The mistake is to think that a glitch in the brain is actually something paranormal, that some mysterious power is sending them messages in their dreams.
The fact is that science has taken these claims seriously and has studied them, and has found that there is no substance to them whatsoever. Even the young woman said that her predictive dream and experience of déjà vu 'happened a couple years back', and she mentions nothing even remotely similar that happened before or since. So clearly she doesn't have any special powers and it was all just a coincidence, which when you consider the thousands of dreams we have each year, every now and then we should expect these weird experiences to happen. The reality is that if these paranormal experiences were real then there wouldn't just be one woman writing about it on some obscure website, the news of dreams predicting the future would be all over the media and scientists would be producing evidence to support the claims. And even more noticeable, people would be using their predictive dreams to save lives and change the world, none of which do we see actually happening.
Comment by Ted, 04 Nov, 2016
Hi John, I think you have analysed the situation pretty well, but I shall comment on my own experiences for the sake of interest.
Precognitive dreams and visions have always fascinated people, including me. The two most prominent intelligent writers about them were John Dunne and J.B. Priestley. Both of these men appear to have embraced the notion that perception of time as linear is incorrect, and that mind, or consciousness, is in fact capable, at certain times, of perceiving events outside the manifold of time and space. Dunne even went as far as to assert that the existence of precognition in dreams implies the immortality of the soul. Now these two men were no dummies. Priestley was a titan of twentieth century literature and Dunne was an aeronautical engineer of great talent who designed some of the first aircraft which actually flew over short distances. Dunne's "An Experiment with Time" and Priestley's "Over the Long High Wall" are compelling reading, even today, the latter just as much for its perennially incisive social comment as its dream hypothesis.
It is as well to clearly state what we mean by precognition in dreams. Deja-vu is something else entirely, and doesn't concern me here. Loosely speaking, precognition in dreams means a coincidence of precise data within a dream and a later experience, which matching of events has an extraordinarily low probability of occurring. But we are in trouble here almost immediately because we cannot quantify such probabilities. What we mean is subjective probability, and that is a very misleading thing at the best of times. (No need to mention the long queues for lotto tickets !) If twenty-three people are in a room there is a 50% chance two of them share a birthday, yet subjectively it seems far too high, and plenty of other such examples exist.
Now consider the heft of data processed within the brain over a lifetime during dreams and the similarly huge heap of external data perceived by the brain over a lifetime. Add to this the infinite capacity of the mind to create its own data from imagination. Might we not expect coincidences every so often, and perhaps one or two absolutely overwhelming coincidences over one lifetime ? I cannot prove it, of course, but I tend to think so, and being the imaginative creatures we are, there is a strong component within us to deny mere coincidence and see causal relationships and patterns which do not exist. This, of course, is actually part of the scientific hypothesis and testing mechanism, and is by no means in itself reprehensible. And what about the majority of dreams, possibly unforgettable to the dreamer, which have no data overlap at all with future experience?
When younger, I kept a dream diary for some years, because dreams sometimes tell us useful things about ourselves we are not consciously aware of, and indirectly found much precognitive data in the process. However, only one or two of these associations remain inexplicable. But in view of what I have said above, heft of data, unreliable nature of subjective probability, imagination and so on, I conclude that I ought to expect their occurrence.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Nov, 2016
Hi Ted. I agree, combining coincidence with the huge amount of data from dreams, we should expect some to occasionally suggest precognition, but we'd be foolish to believe it. As I've mentioned elsewhere, Georges Charpak and Henri Broch in their book 'Debunked! ~ ESP, Telekinesis and other Pseudoscience' (2004) looked at something similar to precognitive dreams. They looked at the claim of people who say they've suddenly thought of someone and then they almost immediately discover, by a phone call or on the TV news perhaps, that they've recently died. They asked, 'What is the probability that, having thought about a person, we will somehow learn in the next five minutes, purely by coincidence and without any paranormal influence, that the person has died?' They based their calculation on the USA and revealed that about 23,782 people in the US will have this "spooky" experience every year. That's around 65 people a day!! That means that for every day of the year, 65 people in the US might exclaim, 'Wow, I had this strange experience last night. I thought of my cousin and then I got a phone call telling me they had just died. How weird is that? I must have psychic powers'. But they don't have special powers. It's just a fluke. A coincidence. Just like the spooky dreams.
Comment by Ron, 02 Dec, 2016
Hello again John. For years I have asked myself why do many well educated, intelligent people today believe in God and the bible. Through some reading and some figuring out based on people I knew well when in that camp I decided to comment here on this little topic and, of course, look forward to reading your comments. What re-ignited this was recently reading about a report from psychologists at 2 well known universities which reviewed 63 studies taken from 1928 to 2012. You are gonna like this! It was conclusively proven that the more intelligent a person is the less likely they are to believe in God. "Atheism is rife among clever people". Most of the studies were in western countries, mainly the USA and Canada, therefore most participants were protestants. One study involved children only, 1500 of them, aged 10 with an av. IQ of 135. They found the children less religious than the general public. Remarkable was, in spite of their atheism 60% were brought up in very strict religious homes.
Of course, people who believe such seemingly nonsensical things as perceived by many today, are not necessarily stupid. But getting back to my original question, I write some brief possibilities here why some educated intelligent believers believe. It may seem contradictory, but we humans are not always rational or logical beings. Our biases often dull our perceptions and judgment. This is where science can really step in, especially where superstition is involved. Seems that why people hold onto irrational beliefs can be complicated. Intelligence is compartmental ie some people can be very sharp and great thinkers in a certain area of their life or expertise, but can be disastrous in others. Another I found obvious from some I knew was that even truly intelligent believers were likely got at from a very young age so their system of belief is sacrosanct. Those individuals will likely rationalize what they already believe. Another thing difficult for many non-believers to savvy is how devout believers are taught to distrust themselves because the idea of sin and human weakness is a basic of the Christian message, drummed into youngsters probably before they could read or write!! They learn human reasoning cannot be trusted. In Isaiah 55:8,9 the bible says "for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts". For many the pressure to remain faithful is so strong that many are terrified of the cost likely of leaving their faith.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 03 Dec, 2016
Hi Ron. We're not surprised by your comments, since we've also heard of those studies that demonstrate that the more intelligent and/or educated one is, the less likely they are to believe in gods. And not just gods, but all manner of superstitious, primitive nonsense, from ghosts and astrology through to psychic healing. Clearly the more intelligent someone is, the more likely they are to question the explanations that others put forward for something, and the more capable they are of detecting flaws in their reasoning. Likewise the more educated someone is, the more exposed they are to science, history, critical thinking and alternative views from other cultures and groups. It's far more difficult to hold onto an invisible god in a university where you're always being challenged to defend your thinking, than it is in some little village where no one ever questions that there might not be a god.
But as you say, there are still intelligent, educated believers in gods that confound logic and continue to believe. Mostly I think it's down to childhood brainwashing, their brains have effectively been hard-wired through relentless exposure to religious dogma from priests, ministers and parents etc before they had developed the mental skills to see through the bullshit. You're right that we're not always rational, we all have cognitive biases, even skeptics and scientists, but the advantage is that knowing about the biases means that we can try and ensure we're not being fooled by them. The scientific method is so successful because it insists on repeatable, independent, objective evidence and quickly exposes irrational beliefs. An individual scientist with a deep religious bias may still believe the evidence points to God, but the rest of the scientific community accepts that as soon as you factor in that religious bias, then the evidence for God vanishes.
It is truly surprising that there are some scientists, and many lay people as well, that can happily compartmentalise their rational and irrational beliefs. They can work in science during the week, never worrying about how it conflicts with their God belief, and then go to church on Sunday, or simply say, 'Thank you, God', and never worry about how that conflicts with their belief in science. When your behaviour doesn't match your beliefs, it's called cognitive dissonance. Another example would be thinking that it's wrong to kill and eat animals, and yet you still enjoy a bacon sandwich. Most religious people we know are what we think of as one-hour-a-week believers. They're blind hypocrites. They'll spend an hour on their knees on Sunday as believers praying to their God, and then effectively spend the rest of the week as atheists. They'll strongly assert their belief in God, but most of what they do day-to-day is done with no thought of God. They are Christians or Muslims or whatever in name only. Their modern lifestyle sees them break most of the commandments in their holy books, and they're not worried in the slightest. Most in fact aren't even aware that they're breaking God's rules. We feel that the great majority of religious believers think that simply believing God exists is sufficient to get them into heaven. Many have also rightly accepted that much of what the Bible claims about the universe is utter nonsense, eg it was created 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, and much of what God commands is quite immoral, eg kill homosexuals and atheists. And with life today, most Christians can easily enjoy a good secular life while still harbouring a firm if irrational belief that God is real. It's like, I could easily go through life believing that Atlantis really had existed in the past, or that visiting aliens had helped build the pyramids, since those harmless beliefs would have no impact on me enjoying my life. Those irrelevant beliefs could happily gather dust in some corner of my brain and people wouldn't even know I harboured such weird beliefs. Most Christians seem to be functioning in a similar way, their silly belief in God is strongly held, but it really doesn't impact on them leading what is essentially a secular life, one in which they only rarely break out their God belief, like at a funeral.
But as you say, why people hold onto irrational beliefs is complicated. Many are indeed too fearful of giving up belief in God, brainwashed as they were with all the horror stories of Hell etc, but that's the advantage of modern society. There is no major handicap in holding onto a silly belief in God, meaning that you can lead a secular, almost atheistic life, and function like a normal person, and if by some microscopically slim chance God is actually real, you'll still be saved because you hung onto your bare-bones belief in God. It's a form of insurance. Form a belief in God, squirrel it away in some recess in your mind, and then get on with living your life, hoping that you'll never need it, but secure in the knowledge that it's back there somewhere if you do.
But of course, if God is real, a bare-bones belief in him coupled with a decadent lifestyle won't save a single Christian. This to us is probably the most irrational move by Christians. People not knowing much about the world and believing that their holy book is telling the truth is just ignorance, and explains much of history. But then along comes modern Christians who know what God demands of them, but understandably prefer the world provided by science and technology, and so naively think that just believing in his existence is surely enough to save them from his wrath. But anyone that professes to be a Christian should know that simply saying God exists, and then ignoring all his commandments, is not something that will endear them to God. There are some 613 commandments from God in the Bible, including the famous ten. Christianity is not just a single commandment: "Thou shalt believe in God". That's it my children, just the one rule, now go out and enjoy life, including wine, women and song.
We can understand how intelligent and educated Christians can believe in bullshit and can truly fear their God. They were brainwashed as children, and they just can't break their programming. If they argue that creationism is true and evolution is false, that homosexuality is an abomination and God is causing natural disasters to punish the sinners, then they are at least taking their religion seriously. But those intelligent and educated Christians that also say they believe in God, while at the same time embracing a scientific worldview in their daily life and dismissing everything about God except a firm belief, and sometimes even not-so-firm a belief, that he exists, those Christians we don't understand. If they know enough to want to be a Christian, then they must know enough to know that simply believing in God is not enough, not by a long shot! Clearly they're not as intelligent as they appear to be.
Comment by Ron, 06 Dec, 2016
Hi John. Rummaging through some stored stuff recently I found an almost forgotten booklet which I re-read. It is about the Catholic church. Basically it was written to reveal the true answers to various questions explaining why Catholics believe what they do. This was because too much misinformation was being spread out there by misinformed people getting their info from wrong sources. It was decided to get the truth about the worlds largest church and its 1.27 billion baptized followers by going to the church itself and speaking with a senior priest. It has a number of sections each asking a question then giving an answer from the horses mouth, so to speak. I have chosen to quote here the answer to why the Catholics believe they have actual proof of the existence and omnipotence of God and why this a part of why they believe they are THE true church with the right answers. Reading it again I thought this is it, this is the one that will turn John into a believer or change his thinking but then I thought, no, I do not think so. In fact, I bet it will have only a modest impact and your response will put you at odds with approx. a fifth of the worlds population but will deliver another dose of excellent logic and common sense. Am I right? Anyway here is the quoted answer,
"Catholics believe the universe is the creation and exclusive domain of an infinitely powerful spirit being called God, because evidence to that conclusion is so overwhelming there is no room left for even a vestige of doubt. First, the evidence of logic via the process of simple mathematical type reasoning man comes face to face with certain indisputable principles. Everything has a cause, nothing can bring itself into existence. Yes, there is a long chain of causes in the universe but ultimately there must be a first cause, an uncaused cause, we call this God. Even if the theory of evolution could be proved it would not explain the origin of anything, it only deals with what may have happened after matter came into existence. Personal creation (man) presupposes a superior creator. Universal order presupposes a universal orderer, cosmic energy presupposes a cosmic energizer, natural law presupposes a universal law maker. These basic principles of reason explain why so many of the worlds leading scientists are firm believers in God. Then there is the evidence of divine revelation. God has revealed himself by voice, vision, apparition, countless times, all receptive to human senses. He has demonstrated his omnipotence by stupendous supernatural miracles. Many of these are a matter of authenticated historical record. Scriptures are full of such accounts. In modern times the world has witnessed such heaven-sent miracles as Fatima, Lourdes and St Anne de Beaupre in Canada where the cured have left a forest of crutches in testimony. The Lourdes medical bureau is open for examination by any doctor. There is the liquefaction of the blood of St Januarius that takes place every September 19th in Naples. The incorruption of the bodies of Catholic saints like St Bernadette, the miraculous Eucharistic host of Lanciano, in Italy, which has been scientifically proven to be human flesh and blood type AB. These are only a few miracles on-going today which point to the existence of God.
Some of the same old, same old there but an interesting response from the church but it did not stop us from leaving the Catholic church yrs ago. Interestingly, the Catholic church has grown at a faster rate than the population of this planet. Their numbers have declined slowly in most western nations, esp. Europe and Oceania but sizable increases in Asia and Africa. As a matter of interest there are 5237 bishops worldwide, up from 4841 only a year ago. At least one can assume they are all ordained, unlike a certain individual up north. There are also 415,792 priests globally. That number has been static.
Lastly, the evidence of human intuition. Psychologists have long known that every human being, atheists included, intuitively seeks Gods help in times of calamity and instinctively pleads for Gods mercy when death is imminent. Hence the renowned Voltaire, so eloquent in denial of God whilst enjoying health, fame and fortune repudiated all his atheistic writings on his deathbed and frantically sought the ministrations of a Catholic priest. Lenin frantically asked for pardon on his deathbed. For as hunger for food proclaims the existence of food, mans intuitive hunger for God proclaims the reality, omnipotence and justice of God. Catholic belief in God, therefore, is purely and simply an expression of intellectual sanity." End of quote.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 07 Dec, 2016
You're right Ron, silly arguments like that from the Catholic Church do nothing to change my thinking, they merely make me more confidant in my views. I'm left thinking, Seriously, that's the best argument they can come up with? But then it is an old Church booklet. I found this page online — THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS THE ANSWER by Paul Whitcomb — and it includes your quote, and the date 1961, so if it's the original, it's at least 55 years old, and the arguments that were blindly accepted back then have been widely exposed as bogus since, thanks to the many recent books on atheism and popular science. But as old and as flawed as the booklet's argument might be, that doesn't stop today's Christians from repeating them ad nauseam. If door-knocking evangelists weren't allowed to use them then they'd have to talk about the weather.
You say that my 'response will put you at odds with approx. a fifth of the worlds population', but the reality is that the great majority of the world's population, I believe it's now closer to 5 out of every 6 people that think the Catholic Church is wrong in its views. And globally they always have been a minority. But that said, quoting the numbers of believers is the wrong way to find the truth, only evidence matters. The Church may complain that 'too much misinformation was being spread out there by misinformed people getting their info from wrong sources', but then they have always said that. That's why they killed, tortured and terrorised people with the inquisitions, it's why they burnt philosopher Giordano Bruno at the stake in 1600 and threatened to do the same to Galileo and numerous others. It was only in 1992 that the Vatican finally admitted that Galileo was right all along, and the Earth does go around the Sun. Clearly history shows that the 'misinformed people' spreading 'misinformation' were the priests, bishops and nuns of the Catholic Church itself.
OK, so let's look at their evidence for 'an infinitely powerful spirit being called God'. They start with this assertion:
'Everything has a cause, nothing can bring itself into existence. Yes, there is a long chain of causes in the universe but ultimately there must be a first cause, an uncaused cause, we call this God'. Even children can see through this argument, with the question that if 'Everything has a cause', then who caused God to exist? Of course this is where Christians backtrack, and say, without offering any evidence to justify it, that God doesn't need a cause. But if this is true, then their argument immediately fails, since it's based on their initial claim or premise that, 'Everything has a cause'. Therefore God must have a cause, so who made God? And then, who made the thing that made God, and so on. It's called the problem of infinite regress. If you argue that we have to stop somewhere and assume that either something didn't need a cause or has existed forever, then it's far more reasonable to stop with the universe either not needing a cause to come into existence or having existed forever. The choice is to explain the existence of the universe, which is very difficult, or conversely to explain the existence of the universe AND the existence of God, which is infinitely more difficult. Adding a god to the problem of our existence hasn't actually answered anything, it's only made the mystery far more mysterious, and if we are to believe the Bible, impossible to solve. Scientists believe they can better understand the origin of the universe and its evolution by doing further research, whereas Christians gave up long ago, and when asked what makes the sky blue and the grass green, simply reply, God does. An answer that was as useless and meaningless thousands of years ago as it is now.
Another problem with the first cause argument, and one that believers of every stripe overlook or suppress, is that if it were true that a god must exist to create the universe, the argument makes no mention of who that god must be. While Christians argue that there must be 'an uncaused cause, we call this God', Muslims could with just as much confidence argue that there must be 'an uncaused cause, we call this Allah'. Likewise the ancient Greeks could have argued that there must be 'an uncaused cause, we call this Zeus'. As an atheist, if I came to believe that the observable universe appeared to be created, I could argue that it was created not by a god of any sort but an advanced alien in a parallel universe. Any argument that can be used by god believers and atheists alike to prove the others wrong is clearly useless.
The Catholic quote goes on to say that, 'Personal creation (man) presupposes a superior creator. Universal order presupposes a universal orderer, cosmic energy presupposes a cosmic energizer, natural law presupposes a universal law maker'. What the Catholics fail to grasp is that only god believers presuppose, meaning to believe in advance of any evidence, that we were created by a god, and therefore that god must of course exist or else we wouldn't. Their argument simply goes in circles. There is no evidence whatsoever that humans were created, or that there's 'a universal law maker', or that the universe even needs one. And again, if there was evidence of intelligent design, it would be far, far more likely to point towards an advanced alien, and not some god belonging to who ... the Catholics, or the ancient Egyptians, or the Aztec?
As for their claim that 'many of the worlds leading scientists are firm believers in God', that is utterly bogus. Many of the public might have believed it a half-century ago when that claim was written, but it was just as false then as it is now. As a group, the world's leading scientists are probably the most atheistic collection of people on the planet. Every time we see blatant lies like this it just reinforces our view that god believers have no good arguments, since why else do they resort to lies to convince their followers?
They then go on to mention 'the evidence of divine revelation. God has revealed himself ... countless times ... He has demonstrated his omnipotence by stupendous supernatural miracles. Many of these are a matter of authenticated historical record. Scriptures are full of such accounts'. I mean ... wow ... that's just laughable. That they seriously want us to believe that the Biblical Scriptures are an 'authenticated historical record' is astounding. Expecting us to believe in miracles simply because they're in the silly Bible along with the talking snake is as stupid as someone asking us to believe that a man can fly by showing us a Superman comic. Insisting that God has demonstrated his power is no different to arguing that the Egyptian god Ra demonstrated his power with the pyramids, and that it's 'a matter of authenticated historical record'. A question: what's the main difference between the stories in the Superman comics, the Harry Potter books, the Star Wars movies, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Bible? Answer: a lot of people believe the fanciful stories in the last one actually happened! We find it mystifying that intelligent people can quickly detect the flaws that expose the stories of Superman, Harry Potter and the Egyptian god Ra as mere fantasy, but can't see the same flaws in an old book written by ignorant Bronze Age goat herders.
And as for claiming that, 'In modern times the world has witnessed such heaven-sent miracles as Fatima, Lourdes... ', it has of course witnessed no such thing. They talk of God healing cripples and them leaving behind their crutches, but as many have pointed out, why are there no wooden legs left behind? Why does God only heal people with a limp, and ignore those that have no legs at all? And why do you have to be rich enough, and healthy enough, to go to Fatima or Lourdes to be healed? Why can't God go to where you live? And isn't he already where you are, so why travel overseas at all? God believers insist that thousands of years ago their God could create an entire universe and a multitude of life from nothing, stop the Sun in the sky and flood the entire planet, and yet today he struggles to heal a handful of limps in two or three specific villages. What a pathetic come down from what he was. We have surgeons that can perform more amazing cures than God can, and in far greater numbers and locations. And of course, we still have the same problem as above. If something seems miraculous, eg recovery from cancer or being hit by an earthquake for offending god, we have no idea which god performed the miracle. Catholics, Jews, Hindus and Muslims all argue that it was clearly their god.
Next they talk about 'the evidence of human intuition. Psychologists have long known that every human being, atheists included, intuitively seeks Gods help in times of calamity and instinctively pleads for Gods mercy when death is imminent'. Oh please, what utter bullshit. Perhaps devout Catholic psychologists believe that, but the reality is that only people that have been brainwashed into begging the Catholic God for favours and mercy would plead to God. Who seriously believes that a devout Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or Hindu would plead to the Catholic (or even Christian) God when times got tough? Without the Catholic brainwashing, people wouldn't even know that such a god existed. Are we to believe that the ancient Egyptians gave up belief in Ra and Osiris and pleaded with the Christian God when death approached? This is all just Christian arrogance that everyone, such as Muslims and even atheists, know in our hearts that the Christian God is real, and will call on him in times of need. I've experienced calamity and what appeared to be imminent death, and yet I can honestly say that pleading to some invisible space god never entered my mind. I also know people that did plead to the Christian God in times of need, and the bastard never lifted a finger to help them, not even a text saying he was out of the office.
Then we have the claim that Voltaire recanted on his deathbed. There is no evidence for that being true, and as this Wikipedia article states, 'Because of his well-known criticism of the Church, which he had refused to retract before his death, Voltaire was denied a Christian burial in Paris'. This article also debunks the recanting claim. There is a similar claim spread by Christians that Charles Darwin recanted on his deathbed, but it is equally fraudulent. It just shows how desperate, and devious, Christians are when they feel forced to make up stories to support the other made-up stories in their holy book. And the reality is, even if Voltaire, and Darwin and Lenin, had recanted, it would have been because of a real fear that perhaps there was a slim chance that Hell was real after all, and why risk an eternity of torture if simply saying you're sorry with your last breath might help. Recanting your previous beliefs and pleading to God doesn't prove he exists, anymore than 2,000 years ago a Jew recanting his Jewish beliefs on his deathbed and pleading to the Greek god Zeus would prove that Zeus existed.
It's just ridiculous for Catholics to argue that, 'mans intuitive hunger for God proclaims the reality, omnipotence and justice of God'. And let's remember here that they're talking of the Catholic God, not the Muslim god or some Hindu god. The reality is that for most humans that have ever lived, even if they did believe in gods, it most certainly wasn't the God that Catholics are thinking of. Even today the majority of people deny that the Christian God is real, let alone the Catholic version of that God. Catholics have this arrogance to believe that when anyone mentions a belief in god, especially other Christians, that they must be referring to the Catholic God. And even worse, they believe that if unsophisticated, gullible people have a hunger for a god, then that mere desire somehow proclaims the reality of that god. But simply desiring that something is real does not make it real. The likes of the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Aztec, Maya and Vikings all had an intuitive hunger for gods, so does that proclaim the reality of all those gods?
Ancient Greek philosophers recognised the flaws in these god arguments before Christianity was even invented, so it's disappointing that thousands of years later god believers are still using them to suck in followers. And with the wealth of knowledge available to us that wasn't available to the Greeks, it just shows that far too many people are too lazy to actually think about a silly belief that they claim is more important to them than life itself.
How did the world and life arise? Catholics would rather ask priests that screw little boys than ask scientists that landed a rover on Mars, gave them antibiotics and the Internet. And lest it be thought we're picking on Catholics, other Christians along with Jews, Muslims, Hindus etc are all happily embracing the fruits of science and technology while at the same time thanking their specific god, as if he invented smartphones and pizza. It's simply childish for Catholics or any god believer to seriously claim that their religion has provided the answers about the universe and life, when in fact they have hindered our intellectual progress every step of the way, and are still doing so. They have given us nothing but falsehoods and intolerance.
And you're right that Catholic 'numbers have declined slowly in most western nations, esp. Europe and Oceania but sizable increases in Asia and Africa'. But as we've discussed, this can be readily explained by educated nations rejecting religion while under-educated nations know no better, with Christian evangelists deserting western nations for Asia and Africa and more gullible targets. History has shown that poor, ignorant people are easily swayed with promises of an invisible paradise that awaits them, all they have to do is die. And regularly donate money to the struggling Church in the interim. Asia and Africa also have much higher fertility rates. I've heard the Catholic Church crowing that they're growing globally, while some other Christian denominations are falling, but just because a religious group is gaining in popularity is no evidence whatsoever that they're actually representing a real god. Muslim fundamentalists with their AK47s and suicide bombers have grown enormously over the last couple of decades too, so does their growth argue that Allah is real? I certainly hope not, because I'm not a cute little boy any more and so I have more to fear from bloodthirsty Muslims than horny Catholics.
So, Catholics may naively believe that they have actual proof of the existence and omnipotence of God, but clearly they're dreaming, and have been for some 2,000 years. Their silly arguments didn't work then, they don't work now.
Comment by Ron, 05 Jan, 2017
Hi John. Another silly email today from Health Sciences Institute headed "Has a cure for aging been found in Genesis 5:27"
It goes on about investigations are under way as to how and why old Testament figures like Methuselah lived nearly a thousand years. Seems a special biblical diet lengthened their lives. Today you can tap into the power of this diet, blah, blah. The secret is in Gen. 5:27, you can get well into your 90's living a life of godly purpose and joy. When I checked that passage, all it said was "altogether Methuselah lived to 969 yrs, then he died". How the hell can one get any secret diets from that?? I think there is a product sell in there somewhere. What a con.
Anyway, the email prompted me to comment here as those enormous ages are very hard to believe and make no sense. Genesis tells us Adam lived 930 yrs, had a son at 130 and further offspring over the age of 800. Seth, Enosh, Kenan all exceeded 900. Noah had 3 children after 500 etc, etc. Much later Abraham lived a paltry 175yrs. For some reason after the Flood life spans steadily declined to the present 70-120yrs. Genesis 6:3 says "then the Lord said, my spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be 120 yrs". Many theories and suggestions are out there to explain these ages. Some well known ones say 1 year in the text really means 1 month or all the numbers are inflated by a factor of 10. But these theories still don't gel ie making these characters of the Bible still with very long life spans or having children at a very young age based on biblical text. Much more complicated suggestions are out there. Trouble is investigations can only hit a wall as there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support any belief in those ages. Martin Luther in his "Commentaries on Genesis" says the ages are true, citing better diet and righteousness. Hardly plausible is it? Someone speculated that in order to not let the natural process of decay and corruption mess up the gene pool too much God may have allowed people to live longer early on. Appears similar claims of long lives are found in Babylonian, Greek and Roman literature. Our current average life expectancy is the same as when the 90th Psalm was written 3400 yrs ago. What changed around the time of the flood? Why would these ages be fabricated? Fossil records supposedly show that prior to the flood Earth had a tropical environment (again, seems implausible) later it changed to an ice age covering 30% of the planet which could have had adverse effects on life spans. Science tells us prehistoric people lived short lives so how to reconcile with Methuselah and co. and their 900 or so yrs? Taking the Bible words literally thus believing these ages lived, would that mean Adams story took place less than 2000 yrs before Abraham meaning the human race is only 6000 yrs old? Of course, it comes down to whether one believes any of these things such as the flood and near 1000 yr lives. What are your thoughts John?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Jan, 2017
Hi Ron. You say your silly email had the heading, 'Has a cure for aging been found in Genesis 5:27?' Surely any remotely intelligent Christian should immediately think, 'Well clearly everyone who has read Genesis 5:27, from evangelical preachers to popes to the people writing this silly email, aren't living any longer than people who ignore the Bible, so no, obviously the cure to aging has not been found in Genesis 5:27'. Would stupid Christians take me seriously if I asked if the answer to human-powered flight has been found in the Superman comics? If Christians were gaining health advice from the Bible and living for a millennium, don't they think the rest of us would have noticed by now?
As for claims that ancient men lived for nigh on a thousand years men and this reduced to a tenth of that life span at the time of the Biblical Flood of Noah, as you say Ron, 'it comes down to whether one believes any of these things'. When I see educated Christian men and women trying to figure out how ancient man lived so long and what changed just prior to the flood, to me it's as silly as a child asking my thoughts on how Santa's reindeer can fly when the ones we see in the wild can't. In the Harry Potter books it's claimed that making magic wands from different materials gives them different powers. Why is this you might wonder? What scientific investigations have been done to determine the different magical qualities of different materials? In the Superman comics it's claimed that our yellow sun gives Superman his great strength and ability to fly, but what theories and suggestions have been proposed to explain how that might work? In the TV series 'Doctor Who' it's claimed that the inside of the TARDIS is huge compared to the outside, but again, what theories and suggestions are scientists considering that might explain that? Of course sane, intelligent, rational people aren't investigating any of these claims because clearly there is no validity to them, they are all just fanciful claims made in works of pure fiction. We're not expected to believe them, so it's quite depressing that in this age of great knowledge Christians are sincerely asking the world to take a silly old religious myth, one of thousands that people dismiss as nonsense, seriously.
You're right that among Christians there are 'Many theories and suggestions are out there to explain these ages', but of course none do so, just as all the answers we feed to children to maintain their belief in Santa fail miserably when maturity ensues and reason is applied to the problems of flying reindeer and the storage capacity of his one sack. Kids naturally grow out of a silly belief in Santa, but unfortunately Christians refuse to grow out of a belief in an old man that is watching them and will reward or punish them.
If I asked a Christian how the Muslim prophet Mohammed rode an ordinary horse up into the clouds and on to heaven, they would of course reply that it never happened so there is nothing to explain. I'd get the same dismissive answers if I asked how Zeus tossed lightning bolts or how Thor caught his hammer without ripping his arm off. Christians can easily see how the fantastical claims made in untold other religions about gods and men are pure nonsense made by ignorant and superstitious people. All these silly stories were dreamt up in primitive times and the Hebrew stories of gods interacting with man are just as silly and ridiculous and as false as that invented by all the other ancient cultures. Frankly I can't understand how Christians (or Jews, Muslims, Hindus etc) can blindly believe the childish stories told in their own holy books while at the same time recognising that near identical stories told in the holy books of other religions are irrational, illogical, contradictory and convincingly dismissed by scientific and historical evidence.
Regarding the long life spans claimed in the Bible, you ask, 'Why would these ages be fabricated?', with the implication being that ancient man would have no reason to lie and make things up. But we need to realise that ancient man had no idea whatsoever how the universe and life arose, and no understanding of how to use science to find out. So all he could do was make things up. The Bible is just one religious text out of thousands, and certainly not the oldest, so if we were to believe Christians and accept that the stories in the Bible are true, then the stories in those thousands of other religious holy books are all false, all lies, all just made up. Thousands of silly stories in untold holy books were all fabricated by ignorant people trying to explain the universe, so why shouldn't we view the old stories in the Bible as also being fabricated, since they are just a silly as those in other holy books and written by equally ignorant people? Why should we believe that the Flood of Noah as told by the ancient Hebrews actually happened, when we're asked to dismiss the earlier and very similar Flood of Gilgamesh, as told by the ancient Babylonians? Why should we believe that the ancient (and powerful and sophisticated) Babylonians, Sumerians, Greeks, Romans, Aztec, Norse, Egyptians, Maya, Indian, Chinese etc were lying about everything they wrote down concerning the universe and history and that the ancient Hebrews were the only ones that actually understood how the universe was created, who by their own account were actually just an unimportant downtrodden tribe dominated by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans etc? When Christians ask me incredulously, 'Why would the ancient Hebrews lie, why would they fabricate details in their stories?', then the answer is that they lied for the same reasons that the Babylonians, Sumerians, Greeks, Romans, Aztec, Norse, Egyptians, Maya, Indian, Chinese etc lied. Christians acknowledge that every ancient culture fabricated their origin stories, that in their ignorance they had no choice but to simply guess and make things up. But at the same time Christians irrationally argue that the ancient Hebrews, who were even more ignorant than the older civilisations around them, such as the Babylonians, Sumerians and Egyptians, were somehow able to explain the universe without fabricating details in their stories. Stories that were often just blatant copies of older stories stolen from the likes of the Babylonians and Egyptians, where the names and subtle details were changed to try and hide the fact that it was plagiarism.
The reality is that if you want to tell stories about things that clearly don't happen in the present world, then you have to set them in remote places that people have never seen or in the distant past that no one has any knowledge of. Think of the opening to the original 'Star Wars' movie: 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...' The people that feature in the early Bible stories, such as Adam and Eve and Noah, are all fictitious characters, and when their stories were made up, they were said to have lived in the distant past, long, long before the Biblical writers lived. So effectively they could make up any ridiculous story they wanted and no one alive had any evidence to prove them wrong, apart from common sense and skeptical thinking, which apparently was quite rare in those days. Storytellers could say men generally lived over 800 years when the world was young, and no one could prove otherwise. They could claim that Eve chatted with a talking snake, because yes, snakes talked in those days too. When you're making up fables for a time period for which no historical records exist, and the people listening to your fairy tales all believe in all manner of superstitious nonsense, from gods and demons to witches and dragons, then you can make any fantastical claim you want, and ignorant, gullible people will generally believe you. Giants could walk the earth, animals could talk and men could live for almost a thousand years. But when the makers of Bible stories started telling accounts of events that had happened in living memory, that someone's father or grandfather had experienced, then they quickly found that they had to be a little more factual. Otherwise someone would cry, 'That's bullshit. My father was there and he told us the story many times, and he never mentioned the silly stuff you're talking about!' That's why the Bible has absolutely amazing miracles at the start when no one is around, with God making the entire universe and all life in a mere six days, making Adam and Eve and a talking snake etc, but as the Bible goes on the miracles get less and less common and less and less spectacular, going from God often walking with Adam and Eve in the garden, to God not making an appearance at all in the New Testament. He's talked of, but never seen and he never makes any proclamations. The Hebrews could make up silly stories about what might have happened in the distant past, but not what actually happened when the Romans invaded since there were a lot of witnesses about that were still alive and quick to call them liars if they strayed too far from the facts. That's why the Bible doesn't claim that the Roman authorities saw Jesus walk on water or rise from the dead, because the Romans would have written these miraculous events down, and since they didn't the Bible writers knew that they couldn't say something that the Romans would deny happened. I can easily claim that my caveman ancestor was the guy that invented the wheel, meaning I deserve royalties, and no one can prove me wrong. But if I claim that I currently own a talking donkey (also in the Bible by the way), then people can easily prove me a liar, because they'd demand I front up with the animal, since he supposedly exists now, not in the dim past. And the claim that these miraculous things only happened in the dim past is another mark against God existing, since we should still see God at work in the world, unless of course God has died and that's why we haven't witnessed miracles in the last 2,000 years? And no, some burn marks on a piece of toast that looks like Jesus (even though we don't know what he looked like) is not a miracle.
Regarding those long life spans, the Bible says that 'After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died'. Similar comments apply to Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Jared, Methuselah, Lamech and Noah, right up to the time of the flood. Isn't it strange that Adam, the man from which it's claimed all of mankind are descended from, had hundreds of children and yet only Seth is mentioned. It's the same with all the others, Enosh, Kenan etc, only one child from hundreds are mentioned, the one child whose line descends through to Noah. Are we to believe that of these thousands of anonymous children that God created, none did anything worthy of mention, either good nor bad? What a major disappointment they must have been to God. But then the Bible story makes claims that once again don't make sense. Let's remember that God told Adam and Eve that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die. And yet rather than die, even after being expelled and having to fend for themselves, Adam, and presumably Eve, lived for nearly a thousand years. As did the next ten generations of humans, and their thousands and thousands of offspring. Let's also remember that throughout history — real history, not Biblical history — man has been capable of living to around a hundred, but most didn't make old age because of starvation, fatal accidents, wild animal attacks, wars and disease etc, so how likely is it that these Biblical characters all managed in such primitive, dangerous times to avoid accidental death for not just a hundred years, but almost a thousand years? Clearly God had lied to Adam and Eve, just as the talking snake had said. It appears that Adam and Eve and the others that lived so long didn't actually die naturally, they were deliberately killed by God. The Bible says they all "died", except for Enoch where it says, 'Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away'. So it appears that they all kept living until God decided to end their lives, to take them away. Then, as you say Ron, when Noah was 500 years old the Bible suddenly tells us that, 'Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years'. Perhaps their numbers were getting too big and God was sick of keeping track, so he simply put an expiration date on everyone. So that was God's major new plan for the future, that humans would now only live a maximum of 120 years. That was Genesis 6:3, but then immediately, in Genesis 6:5, we're told that, 'The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.' This is evidence that God was deranged and had no idea of what the future holds, even though he's supposed to know everything. Why would God bother putting a 120 year limit on human life if he intending killing them all the very next day? He also had no idea that his dastardly plan wouldn't work, and a few thousand years later he would have to rape a virgin, have an illegitimate son, and then have that adult son tortured and killed in a second attempt to rid the world of evil. Which, for the record, also failed, resulting in God fleeing in despair. Note also how God talked of the evil man committed, and yet he killed almost every living creature on the planet with his flood, even though it was just man that he was annoyed with, the creatures (and young childen) were innocent but still had to needlessly suffer God's wrath. And I think a loving father that would rape a virgin, abandon his son, then turn up 30 years later to have him tortured and killed is being a little hypocritical when he describes man as evil. Someone needs to look in mirror. Like the entire Bible, the flood myth is fill of contradictions and nonsense and was clearly written by primitive, ignorant men.
You say that you've read that, 'Fossil records supposedly show that prior to the flood Earth had a tropical environment (again, seems implausible) later it changed to an ice age... ', and that the Biblical creationist claim is that 'the human race is only 6000 yrs old'. Fossil records show no evidence whatsoever of a global flood, and certainly not a global flood some 6,000 years ago. Since there is no evidence of the Biblical flood, Christians can't say what was before and after something that never happened. It's as silly as me saying that Santa Claus was born after Julius Caesar and before Attila the Hun. You can't casually place something fictitious into real events. The scientific evidence does show that there were tropical environments prior to 6,000 years ago, ie the time of the mythical flood. The evidence also shows that there have been many ice ages as well, but none in the last 6,000 years. The most recent ice age was freezing the butts off ancient man (and woman) before, according to the Bible, the world was even created. I'm sure that ancient humans would be surprised to learn that they were inventing spear-throwers and cave-paintings thousands of years before the universe was even created, conjured up by some minor tribal god belonging to an insignificant group of ignorant Hebrews in the Middle East. So who created Cro-Magnon man, and the Neanderthals, thousands of years before God made the Garden of Eden and the world's first nudists, and who created the dinosaurs that died out some 65 million years before God even created the planet?
I can understand how ancient, primitive tribes could believe that the world was young and flat and that some powerful, invisible being must have made it all, but I can't understand how educated adults today can pick one of these ancient fables (from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc holy books), giggle at all the rest, and arrogantly wander around like an adult that believes in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I suspect that some levels of mental illness are a lot more prevalent today than we'd like to believe. We don't accept adult belief in Santa as being normal, but strangely we do accept adult belief in equally imaginary gods. As a society we still have a lot of growing up to do.
Comment by Ron, 07 Jan, 2017
Hi John. Thank you for your excellent response to my comment re. biblical lifespans. You commented briefly that miracles do not occur today nor have done for 2000 years. Of course practicing Christians will totally disagree. The website, God is real today, gives 10 proofs that God exists, according to them, and the site offers videos with loads of testimonies. At the risk of having covered some of these previously on a comment of mine here I will list them briefly which will lead me to the reason for this comment.
- Healing Miracles
- Visions of Jesus Christ, by Muslims, that were so strong they converted to Christianity, despite real risks to them.
- Visions of heaven. A woman was apparently given a tour of heaven. What she saw was "too wonderful for words".
- Angel experiences
- Dreams from God. Life saving warnings, etc
- Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues etc
- The power of God. Touched by Gods power bringing healing, deliverance, new strength, glorious new lives worldwide.
- Transformed lives. Radical changes to those who get to know JC and follow him
- Answered prayers. Millions worldwide with stories of wonderfully answered prayers for those who walk intimately with JC
- Raised from the dead.
I'm sure you have heard them all, or most before, John. My comment here is motivated by that last one. That shocked me. I had no idea that claims are made that people are being raised from the dead today. Did you know this John? Matthew 10:8 commands "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, drive out demons, freely you have received, freely give." Claims are, backed by so many testimonies etc that worldwide, people verified as deceased, often for days, return to life after a Christian prays over them.
Quoted is the ministry of Rolland and Heidi Baker in Mozambique who supposedly have raised over 100 and still counting. Then there is well known cardiologist Dr Crandall who brought back a clinically dead man after 40 mins, no brain or organ damage. The man was prepared for the mortuary but Crandall says he was twice told by that inner voice to go back and pray for that man. Here we have what should be a credible specialist doctor and heaps of testimonies but I do still feel so incredulous. John, I give this to you to, no doubt, come up with some practical, logical common sense responses otherwise we may hear you had no choice but to make a decision to switch your beliefs.(Laugh)
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 08 Jan, 2017
Hi Ron. First let me be clear that while the Bible claims there were miracles in the dim past and I wondered why we haven't witnessed any miracles in the last 2,000 years ago, of course the reality is that there no evidence that miracles have ever been performed, either recently or in prehistoric times. Testimonies, no matter how sincere they might be, are worthless. People only fall back on testimonies when they fail to find any evidence of their claims, they do it as a last resort. When a child honestly says that Santa delivered his bike at Xmas or that the Tooth Fairy took her tooth and left money under the pillow, they are testimonies. When the ancient Egyptians and Aztec claimed that they could see their gods at work in the world, they were offering testimonies. When someone swears they were abducted by aliens and taken to Venus, or that wearing a fridge magnet around their neck cured their cancer, they are mere testimonies, not evidence that their beliefs are true.
Let's quickly look at those '10 proofs that God exists':
- Healing Miracles
No evidence for this. Healing miracles are only mentioned in churches and we're never shown the evidence for them on the nightly news or in the scientific literature. Recovering from the flu or a broken leg is not a miracle, and even the rare recovery from the likes of cancer has never been shown to be miraculous, since we know that natural remission is possible. We have never seen people grow new limbs or repair severed spines, healing which would suggest a miracle.
- Visions of Jesus Christ, by Muslims, that were so strong they converted to Christianity, despite real risks to them.
No evidence for these visions being real. Just as imaginary as me having a vision — dream — of Cleopatra or Darth Vader. And I suspect that those few Muslim that convert to Christianity do so because they already believe in God and they come to realise that Islam clearly isn't delivering the promised good life, so they've decided to try another flavour. And only those people that have heard of Jesus have visions of him. I'm sure that isolated natives in the remote Amazon never have visions of Jesus, just as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks didn't.
- Visions of heaven. A woman was apparently given a tour of heaven. What she saw was "too wonderful for words".
No evidence for this. I can dream of having a tour of the Death Star by Darth Vader, does that mean it's real too? And note how the woman conveniently refuses to describe heaven, leaving nothing for skeptics to challenge, by saying that heaven was 'too wonderful for words'.
- Angel experiences
No evidence for this and as delusional as fairy or leprechaun experiences.
- Dreams from God. Life saving warnings, etc
No evidence for this, and people only interpret dreams after something has happened, not before, and they blindly ignore thousands of dreams that don't come true, or where God tells them to give their belongings to me.
- Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues etc
The same argument dismisses this as for the silly dreams. Furthermore the Bible clearly says that 'speaking in tongues' is to suddenly have the miraculous ability to speak to foreigners in their own language, and so be able to easily spread the word of God. It does not mean, as modern Christians foolishly believe, to just utter meaningless gibberish like a chimp that's just stubbed his toe.
- The power of God. Touched by Gods power bringing healing, deliverance, new strength, glorious new lives worldwide.
No evidence for this. It's just a repeat of the healing miracle claim and the imaginary visions or experience of God motivating people to change their lives.
- Transformed lives. Radical changes to those who get to know JC and follow him
No evidence that Jesus caused this transformation, and it's really just a rehash of the previous claim that the power of God brought new strength and glorious new lives. It's pathetic that Christians must believe in imaginary masters before they can make changes in their lives, and by following Jesus they mean obeying and submitting to the wishes and goals of Jesus, not their own personal desires and goals.
- Answered prayers. Millions worldwide with stories of wonderfully answered prayers for those who walk intimately with JC
No evidence that any prayer has ever been answered, and a mountain of evidence that billions upon billions of prayers have been ignored throughout history. And even if some Christian prays that their sports team wins a game, and they do, how do they know it wasn't the Muslim god or a Hindu god that brought about the win, since their team has Muslim and Hindu players as well as Christian? And it's just bullshit for these wankers to claim that they 'walk intimately with JC', since not one can show that they've ever even met the guy. It's like me pretending that I often walk and talk with Captain James T. Kirk on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. We accept, for a time, that young children might claim to have imaginary friends that they play with, but why do we respect adults that claim the same thing?
- Raised from the dead.
No evidence for this. More on this below.
To label even one of the above claims, let alone all of them, as 'proof' that God exists is just utterly bogus, since not one offers a sliver of proof. Using variations of the above 'proofs', a kid could 'prove' Santa exists merely by having dreams of Santa, experiencing Santa at the mall, receiving gifts claimed to be from Santa, and transforming their lives through the power of Santa, ie hoping to get on his 'good list'.
As I've said, the major problem with the above religious claims is that there is utterly no evidence to support any of them, but it also must be realised that miraculous healing, visions and dreams of god and heaven, prayers being answered and experiencing the power of god which transforms lives, all these things are claimed today not just by Christians, but by Muslims, Jews, Hindus etc, as well as in the past by believers in the ancient gods of the Babylonians, Sumerians, Greeks, Romans, Aztec, Norse, Egyptians, Maya etc. When a Muslim claims that he had vision of Allah or a Jew claims that Yahweh answered her prayer or a Hindu argues that Shiva transformed their life, Christians don't believe them for a moment. And neither should they, because of course it's all just deluded thinking; superstitious people naively attributing something that occurred naturally to an invisible sky fairy that only they can see. When dealing with the claims of Muslims, Jews and Hindus, all Christians act as if they were rational, intelligent, educated skeptics, and using reason and evidence they dismiss their claims as irrational and/or lacking supporting evidence. But offer the same claims to Christians, after changing the god's name from Allah or Shiva to God and Jesus, and they immediately embrace them as true, suddenly and strangely oblivious to the same flaws that they easily saw when the same miracle was attributed to another ancient god. Their wilful blindness astounds me.
And no Ron, I hadn't heard that Christians were raising the dead on a regular basis. A Christian actually raising a single person from the dead would make world headlines and change the way we all thought the world worked, making us doubt science and look to God. It would be revolutionary, effectively proving Christianity true and all other religions false. And yet it hasn't just been one person, you say a Christian ministry in Mozambique claims to have raised over 100 people from the dead, with the implication that Christians are doing this all over the world, and have been doing it for the last 2,000 years. But wouldn't you know it, the world's media, along with scientists and historians, either think that raising people from the dead isn't worth mentioning and investigating, or they're part of an enormous conspiracy to hide it from us. Jesus rising from the dead was big news, and many childish people are still talking about it 2,000 years later, but today evidence of people being raised from the dead by Jesus, a feat that would answer the question of whether Jesus is the true god, is ignored in favour of stories telling us that the Queen has a bad cold. And it's not just us atheists that haven't heard about Christians raising people from the dead, the majority of Christians haven't heard about it either. Even the likes of the pope and other religious leaders haven't been informed. Untold Christian evangelists turn up on our doorsteps with utterly pathetic arguments in defence of their God, but none say, 'Remember Joe Bloggs who died last year, you went to his funeral I believe? Well, voila ... here he is, alive and well, raised from the dead! So Mr Atheist, do you still believe there is no God?'
We can't prove that Christians aren't having their prayers answered, that some cancer wasn't cured by God, that Jesus isn't appearing in dreams, or that voyeuristic angels aren't watching us have sex, all we can do is say that there is no evidence that any of these things are happening, and no reason to even suggest that invisible beings are interacting with us, since if there were, we would also have to tentatively admit that Allah and Shiva and Zeus and Odin and thousands of other gods (and demons and angels and jinns and gremlins etc) might also be the ones responsible for things that go bump in the night. There is no more reason to suggest that there is an invisible god on my sofa than there is a leprechaun, so it makes rational sense to assume that neither exist. But the claim that Christians are miraculously raising people from the dead is a completely different matter to all those other claims of miracles. It would be child's play to provide evidence that dead people were coming back to life. It's the one miraculous claim that Christians could quickly demonstrate to an incredulous world. It wouldn't conclusively prove that their God was responsible, it could be a mischievous Hindu god or advanced alien hiding under the cloak of Christianity, but if only devout Christians were coming back from the dead, no Muslims or atheists, then it would certainly suggest that the Christian God was likely the one responsible. So here we have the claim that people are indeed miraculously rising from the dead due to Christians imploring their God, but rather than openly reveal this slam-dunk evidence to the world, and silence us giggling atheists, the few Christians involved hide these miraculous cases and instead offer a piece of toast with a fuzzy image of Jesus on it, or regale us of a dream that they had where they hung out with Jesus, playing pool and eating burgers.
Clearly the most logical answer as to why Christians are strangely reticent in revealing their evidence for people coming back from the dead is that it simply doesn't exist. They know that they'll be ridiculed as fools or liars if they express their silly claims to anyone but other deluded Christians. It really is astounding how stupid Christians are (and not just Christians, but all believers in primitive gods). Occasionally viewing any of the several Christian TV channels, I feel truly embarrassed watching those evangelists and their followers as they preach about God and Jesus and discuss the miracles they see all around them. It's like listening to young children discuss how Santa will still leave them toys even though their house hasn't got a chimney, and while I can forgive a child's ignorance and naivety, I have to keep reminding myself that these Christians aren't actors in an historical movie about how superstitious ancient cultures were, or a comedy movie about the magical world of the Smurfs, these are intelligent, educated adults that still believe in magic and that there are invisible beings all around them that they have to get on the good side of. They can't grasp that they have immersed themselves in a world of fantasy. I know that the scientific explanations as to how the universe and life likely arose are complicated and still incomplete, but even though we don't have all the answers, and many that we do have contradict common sense, that's no excuse to reject reason and science and opt for the simple answer: it must all be magic and run by gods.
I guess that's the caveman part of their brain taking control, since how could belief in gods have been around for so long if it was totally wrong? Belief in gods and a flat earth has been widespread for many millennia whereas belief in microbes and a spherical earth is relatively recent, so I guess, based on longevity of belief and numbers of believers, those long held beliefs held by billions must be true, there are gods and the earth is flat, and what silly scientists call microbes are really the work of demons. Surely those cavemen living at one with nature, and especially that tribe of Hebrews living back in the sophisticated Bronze Age, knew more about how the world worked than we do today, insulated as we are behind glass and metal and vaccines, engrossed with our smartphones and taking little notice of nature? Years ago my young niece told me milk came from the supermarket, not from cows. So perhaps we should also believe Christians when they tell us the universe came from God? Or perhaps like my niece who had a childish mindset and hadn't yet been exposed to the real world, Christians also just need to grow up?
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