Archive for October, 2010


Can you laugh at yourself?

Happy Song Sunday, everyone! Today I have a song from the hilarious Roy Zimmerman. I’ll put the vid at the end of the post.

In relation to this song, I ask you: can you laugh at yourself? I feel way too many people are way too uptight. Especially many Christians. You make a funny joke about Jesus or Christianity and they get all offended, saying “ohhh, take that picture off of your website, that’s offensive!” No, it’s funny. Lighten up.

Do you know one of the major reasons people fight? Because people take things way too seriously. I’m not talking about reactions to taking land or murder, I’m talking about root causes here. Think how much enmity is bred by people who are very similar, but can’t live with the minuscule differences of their neighbors? That enmity causing the problems we see every day.

Yoda said that “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I’m not going to disagree with Yoda, but I’m going to put it another way: taking yourself too seriously leads to hate. Hate leads to misunderstanding. Misunderstanding leads to suffering.

I think one of the keys to peaceful coexistence with others, as well as keys to happiness and having a well-rounded sense of humor, is being able to laugh at yourself. If people would take themselves less seriously, I think there would be much less bickering and much more cooperation towards shared goals.

Anyway, to test if you can laugh at yourself, see if you find this video funny (I assume most if not all of you reading this are liberal, so it is a good test):

I lol’d.

~peace, RR

P.S. Happy Halloween! >:D

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂

There will always be problems

As sentient beings, we seek pleasure and avoid pain. As social beings, we work together to experience pleasure and eliminate pain. This has brought us things like government, education, medicine, and science. Every action groups of people take (that are not simply attempts to subjugate and control) are toward these simple goals: increase pleasure and decrease pain.

In a way, all people acknowledge that problems exist. Otherwise, why would we bother doing anything? It’s a problem if don’t have food or a place to live, so we get a job. It’s a problem that children aren’t born with knowledge, so we send them to school. Even Buddhists, the group people would probably associate most with active separation from problems, meditate and practice their religion(/philosophy) in response to the fact of suffering.

What are we trying to accomplish? Most of us probably just try to eliminate pain and increase pleasure for ourselves and our closest friends and family. However, some of us actively try to improve the general good of all people. Take STAND, for instance, a group of students trying to stop genocide around the world. Some act for themselves (which isn’t necessarily bad, by the way) and some act for others. All act for the same thing.

With increases in technology (brought to you by science!) we are starting to see the real possibility of ending many of the problems we face today. Disease, hunger, many things can be (and will be if certain parties don’t get in our way) stricken from the planet. Wouldn’t that be great?

I think it’s so great that some people might also dream of a day when there are no problems at all. Everyone has a place to live, food to eat, water to drink, and there are laws in place that are perfectly fair and protect everyone equally. How nice that would be.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that will never happen. Well, that might, but we will never eliminate all of our problems. One of the things that would drive the Utopian society I described would be energy. And coming up with all renewable energy would not solve the energy problem in a strict sense. (People who have read Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question know where I’m going with this. If you’re curious, go have a read.)

There is a finite amount of energy in our universe, and entropy means that we will never be able to completely solve all of our problems. Even if we mastered our sun, what about when it goes out? Alright, move on to the next one. Sorry, dumb idea. They all go out, eventually. And some day, they’ll all be out. And that’s one problem that cannot be solved.

However, I don’t want to come across as negative. For the record, I’m just being realistic. But anyway, I think there is something to strive for in spite of the fact that there will always be an unsolved problem.

What we need to do is reach a point where the vast majority of people don’t have to care about anything. If we provide food, shelter, and medicine to all people for free, that would be an amazing start. From the perspective of the general public, we would be in a world without problems. All that’s required is a small group (a few thousand, maybe more) to focus on solutions to the “bigger” problems like how to harness the sun’s energy or how to migrate to the next solar system before our sun dies completely.

The question is, how do we get there? Any ideas? 🙂

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂

I have not been alive long enough to be familiar with the political climate of this country before about a decade ago. Yet I feel as though we are seeing something new: people supporting unintelligent candidates, and attacking the smart ones for being “elitist.”

The reason, I think, that this is going on is because the GOP has found a demographic that is not only large, but easy to manipulate. I’m talking, of course, about dumb people. There are tons of them in this country, and the GOP has basically been the sole caterer to their… needs.

Because of this, we have candidates like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell, who are grossly undereducated and under-qualified for the positions they are running for. That these candidates wouldn’t do a very good job isn’t really a problem for the GOP, because, again, their target demographic is dumb people. They don’t need to be convinced, really. Just lied to enough times that they forget what they heard was a lie. Fed enough conspiracy theories that they become too scared to actually look at the issues.

The GOP has essentially made a bet on America. Namely, that most Americans are dumb enough to vote for people that are under-qualified because of scare tactics and misinformation on Faux News. And once those morons are in office, that said morons will be easy to control because they are similarly stupid.

This might work well now. After all, the GOP is set to win quite a few seats in a little less than a week. But this is short term. Could this bet be dangerous in the long term?

What I mean by this is what if the Republicans want a smart, well-qualified person to run? (Provided any smart people are left in the party, of course.) All this talk of qualifications and education not mattering will totally backfire, and all of those conspiracy theories will have to be taken back.

And what about the general future of the country and politics? Does the GOP not care that they are turning politics into a spectacle? A game where catchy talking points and scare tactics mean more than a strong platform and good, reasoned argument?

Aren’t they afraid that people will realize what they’re doing — fooling dumb people into voting for them — and be turned away from their party?

Oh wait. We’re talking about dumb people here… sigh…

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂

It’s true. I wasn’t sure these people actually existed. Most of all I was sure that none of my facebook friends held such backward beliefs. Alas, I was wrong. Here’s a screenshot of the link one of my friends posted and my comment (names/pics censored for privacy):

I'll let you guess which comment is mine

 

 

Facepalms all around for some of those comments!

Now, I think my comment on the link was a decent enough rebuttal that I won’t repeat the things I said there in more depth. What I’ll do instead is mention some things I didn’t say there.

First, a comment on the link the original poster shared. It’s an audio clip of about 25 minutes. If this issue interests you, feel free to take a listen. It’s basically a former atheist (I think I need to write an article on “former atheists”), pro-choice women gone Catholic (why Catholic? lol) talking about why she became pro-life.

The argument she used was essentially that pro-choice is actually anti-women because it turns sex into a gamble. By (paraphrasing here) separating the act of sex from the baby result, women feel trapped when they become pregnant. If they just didn’t have sex unless they wanted children, there would be no problem. She also made an odd statement that I don’t care to verify, namely that in all societies before ours, the “times when sex was appropriate” and the “times when having a child was appropriate” where the exact same, and we’ve separated the act of sex from the result of child.

My response to this is pretty simple: we didn’t separate the act of sex from the result of baby, science did. We know that just because a penis is inserted into a woman’s vagina, she doesn’t necessarily get pregnant. Why? Because sex doesn’t cause baby — the fusion of an egg and sperm and the addition of some time causes baby. There are countless steps where anti-contraception, anti-choice people have to deviate from reality to uphold their worldview.

Is it bad to “spill seed” without it going into a woman’s vagina? Okay, does that mean wet dreams are bad and should be punished? Should a woman constantly be pregnant so as to avoid wasting her eggs? Or is it just bad if, after an egg and sperm fuse, the pregnancy is terminated? Condoms must be okay then, right? And anal sex? What about the natural miscarriages? Is it just that there is something unnatural about condoms? Well what about birth control pills, which just use chemicals already present in the female body to prevent a pregnancy? The questions go on and on, and the more answers we get, the more confusion it produces.

Another part of the contraception/abortion debate that I didn’t mention (because it probably would have been counter-productive in this situation) is the idea of overpopulation. We already have too many people. We don’t need more. I’ve always sort of believed the conspiracy theory that the church wants people to have children so that they’d have more followers. In this case, it isn’t in spite of the overpopulation, but rather even more effective because of it. If we think about the study a while back that showed a correlation between poverty and religiosity, then it would make sense that the church would want overpopulation, because that would lead to hardship, more religiosity, and more church power.

At any rate, I will sleep fine tonight knowing that tomorrow contraception will not be banned. However, the fact that there are actually people out there who are against contraception should at least keep us alert. If we are lax in the fight for women’s rights, the religious right will be more than happy to take them away.

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂

I really like this song and wanted to share it with you. But, to make it more of a blog post, I decided to analyze it, too. I guess I’ll just tell you what I take the meaning to be.

Here’s the song, which you can listen to and follow along with the lyrics below:

The song begins:

God thinks all blacks are obsolete farm equipment
God thinks the Jews killed his son and must be punished
God thinks the white man is Satan
God, they know what God thinks

At this point Voltaire establishes that “God thinks” really means “I think.” When a religious person says they know what God thinks or wants, they are just expressing their own opinions. The “God” at the beginning of the last line is obviously a sign of frustration.

God thinks we should all convert to Judaism
God thinks we must all be Christians and
God thinks we should all embrace Islam
God thinks the only true religion is Hinduism

We move into the contradictory nature of religious opinion. Everyone thinks they have the answer, but the answers are not in agreement. They can’t all be right, and in this case they are most likely all wrong.

And I
I know what God thinks
God thinks you’re a waste of flesh
God prefers an Atheist

Voltaire now gives us his opinion. Using the language of the religious, he says “I know what God thinks” (i.e. “it is my opinion that”). It’s his opinion (and I agree) that it’s quite obvious that God doesn’t care about us. The suffering in the world could so easily be stopped by the omnipotent deities of the aforementioned religions, and yet the suffering continues. In addition, if a god did exist, it would probably appreciate the skeptical, knowledge-gathering atheists over the dogmatic believers.

God God
God thinks all people like you are hateful
God thinks all people like you are an embarrassment to creation
self-righteous, judgmental, first to throw a stone
and using His name for your own protection

Voltaire continues by calling out religious people for their hypocrisy.

God thinks the sun revolves around the Earth
God thinks there was something very wrong with Copernicus
God thinks abortion is murder and
God thinks everything that science gave us is wrong
God thinks women deserve it
God thinks AIDS is a form of punishment

Here Voltaire points out the inanity that comes out of religious circles. Things disproven by science and ethically questionable positions that would never come from an all-knowing deity.

I hate people who blame the Devil for their own shortcomings and
I hate people who thank God when things go right

Not being able to keep the charade of speaking like a religious person, Voltaire lapses and goes right out and says what he thinks. A great quote, too 🙂

And I
I know what God thinks
God thinks you’re an idiot
God prefers a heretic

God God
God thinks all people like you are hateful
God thinks all people like you are an embarrassment to creation
self-righteous, judgmental, first to throw the stone
and using His name for your own agenda

God is a liberal
God is a democrat
God wants you to vote republican
never trust a man who puts his words in the mouth of god
and says it’s absolute truth
its lies and it smells like death
its all in a day’s work taking money from the poor
Why do you think that God would need your dirty money
if He wants to start a holy war?

After the chorus, Voltaire now decries the practice of mixing religion and politics, especially of using “God’s will” as an excuse for war. (This sadly reminds me of when Bush claimed the Iraq war was a mandate from God.)

self-righteous, judgmental, first to throw a stone
and using His name for your own protection

God thinks puppies need to die and
God thinks babies need to drown
’cause God is neither good nor bad
God is you and me
God is Everything

And finally, Voltaire tells the believers where they go wrong. Their holy books were written by men. Religions are pushed by people with agendas to control and gain power. All this talk about God is an illusion.

Hope you enjoyed! If you like his stuff there is plenty more on YouTube.

~peace, RR

P.S. I’m thinking of copying PZ Myers and having a themed day like the Monday Metazoan. I shall deem this “Song Sunday” 🙂

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂

So last weekend I took the light rail into town. Nothing special, except for the cameras on the ceiling every 5 feet. Then I see this on a sign on the wall:

“For your safety, this vehicle is equipped with video monitoring.”

This got me thinking, how are these cameras for our safety?

Is it for your safety, or the safety of others? Is it for the “general security of the train”?

It isn’t as though the cameras will prevent someone from beating the shit out of you, or mugging you, or murdering you. If you live through whatever ordeal comes your way, all the cameras would do is show you being the victim of a crime, most likely at the hands of some unidentifiable assailant. “I’d like to present as evidence exhibit A: video footage of a man with a hooded sweatshirt attacking the defendant. Jurors, can you tell who that is? Me either.”

What the cameras could do, especially on a slow-moving light rail train, is alert authorities of any funny business before the train gets into the city. Terrorism, or something. (If that word wasn’t already overused.)

And what an odd way of justifying the cameras. “For your safety” we’ve put cameras here. How long until such justification is used to put cameras on street corners? In privately-owned cars? In houses? It’s the same justification as the train. The cameras themselves won’t prevent you personally from anything, but they will let the authorities know what’s going on and where, so they can protect you from that. And with that reasoning, you could justifiably put cameras ANYWHERE.

It doesn’t even matter, with that reasoning, if you have an “expectation of privacy.” This is typically the argument used against police searches and the like. If you can reasonably expect privacy, you cannot be searched. For example, in your car. Yet the Obama administration is (sadly) attempting to push for the tracking of cell phone data, saying that Americans have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” when it comes to cell phone data. And where do you use your cell phone? Uh, anywhere? You cannot have a conversation on your cell phone and expect privacy. (Or, at least, it’s possible that you won’t in the future.) Nonsense.

A scary precedent, or what?

Anyway, you know what those cameras are really for? Control. They also have signs in the light rail trains that say no food or drink, no spitting, and no listening to the radio without headphones. Who would listen to those rules (that don’t really hurt anyone) unless those cameras were there? Unless someone was watching them? Unless they could be easily caught and punished?

Yes, I’m sure that putting cameras everywhere would prevent a lot of crime. But is that really a world we want to live in? *cough*1984*cough*

~peace, Big Brother — I mean… RR 🙂

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com

The future of education

I have a somewhat grim prediction for the future of the education
system in this country (and perhaps around the world).

To understand why my prediction might come true, we first have to look
at some of the problems the education system currently has, and why
these problems persist.

Problem 1: teachers are underpaid for the importance of their work

What is the most important resource a society produces? Its people.
Without educated people, you cannot accomplish much as a country.
Smart people are necessary to do technical work, to govern
effectively, and to create new technologies that keep the country
competitive. This is a well-known fact, and despite study after study
pointing out that our kids are falling behind the rest of the world in
math and science education, we aren’t paying good, smart people with
real degrees in math and science more money to come teach.

Why is this problem persisting? There’s no incentive to fix it. Who’s
going to pay for it? Taxpayers? Would this get the taxpayers jobs or
money? No. The only benefits they would see would be abstract
(“improving the economy”) or in decades when they get a supposedly
higher amount of social security. Anyway, this is how we currently pay
for public schools, and it isn’t doing the job. How about companies?
That’s a funny one. Why would they ruin their bottom line to produce
workers that won’t necessarily work for them? (Hint: the future is
related to this problem.)

Problem 2: lack of funding for state-of-the-art facilities

Essentially the same problem as #1. No money to improve facilities
that desperately need to be improved (especially in inner-city
schools) and no incentive to do so.

Problem 3: there’s no guarantee a student will get a job after school,
no matter how well they did or how much schooling they received

Can you think of a better way to encourage working hard in school than
telling students about the horrible job prospects when they are
finished? No, neither can I (sarcasm). And it isn’t as though we can
lie to them about it. Only a moron (who isn’t going to work hard in
school anyway) wouldn’t have looked ahead to the crummy situation
awaiting them. And get this, you can be more educated and less sought
after! Some people with Masters degrees can’t find entry-level work
because they are over-qualified (whatever that means). Plus, you can
be an amazing student a know more than most people, but still be
beaten by some jackass who’s good at BS-ing at interviews. Soft skills
sadly often win jobs that don’t require soft skills. Which leads to
the last problem I’m going to talk about…

Problem 4: lack of a set of standards for many disciplines that
employers can use to select the best candidates

You may think that problem #3 persists because anybody can do any job,
so employers don’t really care. This is not the case. Employers HATE
hiring worthless employees. Businesses waste tens of thousands of
dollars on crappy employees that are difficult to fire and don’t do
work. You have to realize that employees are investments. Businesses
pay you, sure, but they’re banking on getting out more productivity
from you than they pay you in salary.

But why does this happen? How do employers end up hiring bad workers?
Well, the reason is that there aren’t a good set of standards for many
disciplines out there. Take computer science, for example. It’s
possible to come out of school not knowing barely anything about
programming. This makes it really hard to determine who is
actually a good candidate. And perhaps companies, because of this,
feel more comfortable assigning more work to employees they already
have than risking hiring new ones?

Okay, so what does all this mean? What could this very easily produce
in terms of an education system?

Check out this story I read earlier this month. IBM is going to
sponsor a school that will produce qualified IT professionals. This is
the first step. IBM is doing it, from what I can tell, as a service to
the community. But this isn’t where it will stop.

Think about this scenario: Company X is seeking qualified employees in
a time when people are increasingly underqualified and increasingly
looking in other places than Company X for work. What do they do? They
build a school. That’s right, a corporately-funded school. Why? What
does this solve?

What Company X gets out of it are people that are guaranteed (by
Company X’s own standards) to be qualified for work. They also get
their money’s worth training them because those students will be
required to sign a work contract to attend the school. Of course,
depending on how much companies spend, the contracts might have to be
for a long time, perhaps the student’s entire professional career (40+
years).

Who in their right mind would agree to this? What could the student
possibly get out of it that would justify signing their life away?
Well, let’s see… how about a job? What if the economy had a 20%
unemployment rate? As a teen you’d probably see the wisdom of a
guaranteed good education and a guaranteed job after school. Plus, the
students would get great educations, with top-notch schools and
teachers, because everything Company X puts in to that, it’s
guaranteed to get back. And if the work contracts aren’t for their
entire career, the students will have legitimate work experience they
can take to other companies. Looking ahead, multiple companies might
team up to make standards that students could take to either Company
X, Y or Z.

This solves all of the problems I have outlined with our education
system. We’d get better teachers, better schools, guaranteed
employment, and standardization of skills. Yet somehow I don’t like
the sound of this future. What do you guys think? Is this an
all-too-possible dystopian future in store for us? Or am I overlooking
something obvious that will save us from this hell? Or do you think
this situation wouldn’t actually be that bad?

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com

What can you expect?

In the midst of the scholarly arguments for the nonexistence of God (the logical inconsistencies, proofs, and scientific evidence), we often fail to notice the more obvious things that should give believers pause. I’d like to mention the things I would expect to see if God did exist.

Now, I’m not talking about the Christian/Jewish god Yahweh here, or Allah, or Krishna. I’m just talking about a god in general. I feel there are a lot of things that should be happening if God existed that, simply, are not.

Also note, I am assuming that there is no “devil” and the god knows everything, can do anything, and is good (i.e. actively works for our benefit).

(Of course, there are religions that do not adhere to these specifications. However, not adhering to them leads to their own problems. For example, if there is a devil, then the god must have created it — implying the god is not working solely for our benefit. Or, if the god is all-powerful, it could remove it.)

And a final note. These aren’t proofs against a deity. These are just things I think people should find odd if they believe in God. It would also be much more obvious that God did exist if we saw these things occurring in real life.

1. Prayer actually working

If God existed, and listened to and answered prayers, I would expect prayer to work enough that the efficacy of prayer could be measured with a scientific study and that it would be shown to be effective. By this I mean prayer would actually work. And not just on things that happen all the time anyway, like cancer being cured, or getting a better job, or a small child being the only one to survive a car crash. Or dumb stuff, like gravity being reversed sometimes, or things changing colors, etc. I would expect prayer to grow amputees’ limbs back.

Unfortunately, studies have shown prayer has no more effect than placebo in helping patients in the hospital. And, unfortunately for brave soldiers that come back missing one or more limbs, nobody has ever grown back a lost limb, despite prayers to that effect.

2. Religious nations being most prosperous for no reason

This is probably one reason why religions took hold so easily in the past. A ruler did really well by being a great military strategist, or by randomly setting up shop in a good area with lots of resources, and people attribute the success to whatever religion the ruler adheres to.

If we look to which nations are most prosperous right now, what do we see? America, by some standards. Scandinavia. Western Europe. Japan and in a way China. And Australia. And why are they prosperous? To breeze over them quickly:

America because of natural resources and military advances during WW2. Scandinavia and Western Europe not because of religion. (Both are areas of higher-than-average levels of non-belief.) Japan from being buddies with America. Australia by being buddies with the UK. China because of natural resources, a huge population, and the ability of the government to control the economy. (Australia and especially Japan and China are also areas with high non-belief.)

So we have these prosperous places with either low religiosity or other nonreligious aspects that make them prosperous. Isn’t that weird? And you take the most religious nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan and see them doing crummy. ISN’T THAT ODD?

3. Miraculous stuff happening left, right, and sideways

In the Bible, crazy stuff was happening all the time. Rivers turning to blood, people raising from the dead, things you never see nowadays. Most believers in this day and age are apparently happy enough seeing Jesus in Marmite jar lids, but I would expect more. And no, Insane Clown Posse, magnets don’t count.

4. Holy books being reliable sources of profound knowledge

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31) is not profound. It’s common sense. And for being such a smart guy, God sure got slavery wrong (Leviticus 25:44-46). Why is there no scientific knowledge in any holy books that we didn’t already know at that time? Why do holy books seem obviously authored not by an all-knowing deity but by desert wanderers?

5. The world being indescribable at some level

Why are there atoms? Seriously now. What purpose do atoms serve? I’m not talking about them being the building blocks of matter. That’s science. What I mean is, why would a deity need to make matter out of atoms? Why can’t everything just be solid? Even granting that you need things to be made of atoms, why then are there quarks? Isn’t an atom small enough to make anything out of? Why does everything seem to be lacking any magic at all?

Alright, that’s probably enough. You get the idea. To me, the world just appears so… not the result of the workings of a deity. What do you guys think? What would you guys expect to see if a god did exist? I bet you all can think of some really clever ones!

~peace, RR

Oh, and don’t worry. This blog won’t be solely about religion, I promise. That being said, if you guys hear anything interesting that you would like my input on…

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com

A classic question. I’m willing to wager two things. First, that you’ve heard this question before. (As I said, it is a classic question.) Second, that you think this question doesn’t have an answer. That it’s just a cute question some moron cooked up.

What I want to do with this post is give you what I think can be an answer to this question. It does require a little reinterpretation of the question, but I don’t think the interpretation is unwarranted.

Basically, I think this question can be read as being the creationism vs. evolution question. And if you look at it like that, the answer becomes apparent.

So, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

A creationist would say it was the chicken. God created the chicken in its present form some time not too long ago. With magic.

If you believe in evolution, however, it has to be the egg. Whatever laid the egg that the first chicken hatched from was not a chicken. Well, it wasn’t a Gallus gallus domesticus, at least. Something incredibly similar to a modern-day chicken, with essentially the same (but not exactly the same) DNA laid the egg.

Of course, this is a somewhat simplistic view of evolution. And it probably wouldn’t be possible to say exactly where in the ancestry of chickens the birds weren’t chickens anymore. It’s a continuum of small changes. Even more than that, each chicken alive today has various mutations that make them different from one another.

So yeah, profound? Probably not. Will it settle this age-old question once and for all? I doubt it. But I thought it was an interesting way of looking at it 🙂

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com

…and all that other stuff.

So yeah, I’m an atheist. Don’t believe in a god. I’m also a skeptic, which probably fuels my atheism, but also makes me not believe in pseudoscience (ghosts, psychics, spiritual energy, etc.) or things in general without evidence. You could also call me a naturalist/materialist because I think all there is is matter and energy, not spirits. And you wouldn’t be wrong in calling me an infidel, heathen, nonreligious, freethinker, rationalist, blah blah blah.

But why? Why don’t I be a Real AmericanTM and believe in God?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. They can probably be roughly separated into two groups:

  1. Lack of evidence
  2. Preponderance of contrary evidence

By “lack of evidence” I mean not only that there isn’t any testable, empirical data that has been gathered supporting the existence of a deity, but also that the logical arguments typically given for the existence of a deity have been disproven. Things like the argument from design, the teleological argument, and the ontological argument have all been disproven by various people. I’ll go into those refutations in future posts.

In essence, there’s no good reason to believe in God.

There’s also the many observable facts about the universe that point away from a deity. At least, deities that are usually worshiped. Evolution, the size of the universe, and a great deal of suffering in the world point away from a benevolent, interventionist being that has created the universe just for us. And those are just a few. In a future post I’ll go over some of the things I would expect to see if there were a deity.

So not only is there no good reason to believe, but there are compelling reasons not to believe. There you go.

Another question you might ask is ‘why am I not religious?’ I mean, there must be some good in a community that has a common link even if you don’t believe in it, right?

Well, no. I don’t think so. I think religion is a source of many more problems than can be compensated for by the small amount of good it does.

Religion breeds conflict. Sure, not within the religion (unless you count denominations and sects), but certainly between religions. And unless you’re eager and willing to convert for the sake of a global religion of peace, you shouldn’t assume other people will be, either.

Religion also keeps alive misinformation. People these days, in two-thousand-fucking-ten, still believe Jews use the blood of Christian children in ceremonies. People still think the only way the diversity of life is explained is by a creator deity and not the scientifically evident method of evolution via natural selection.

And religion does a lot of harm. Brushing aside the religious wars of the past, there are still religious killings happening every day. Muslims are killing Muslims across the Middle East and Asia. Muslims and Christians are killing each other in Africa and Europe. Muslims and Hindus are fighting in India. Jews and Muslims are fighting in Gaza. (Are we seeing a pattern here?) Christians are fighting Catholics in Ireland. (Guess not.) The Pope recently said that condoms don’t protect against AIDS, in Africa, where there is an AIDS epidemic. At the same time, the Pope is protecting child rapists within his own church. Muslims are on edge, waiting for people like Molly Norris to come up with something to piss them off so they can attempt to murder them.

Okay, enough ranting… but to wrap this question up, no, I wouldn’t go join a community that I didn’t agree with just for the sake of community. So the final reason (I can think of off the top of my head) why I’m not religious is because I don’t believe any of the nonsense they believe in. We wouldn’t have much in common.

On the other hand, I do enjoy having a beer or five with some fellow infidels. And while that is in fact a group of individuals who have similar opinions on one or more religious issues meeting for the sake of community, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a religion. Would you?

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂