left biblioblography: December 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Deconstructing Stan - Analyzing The Analyst

Cross-posted at God Is For Suckers!friend+of+a

This episode of Sock Puppet Theatre is brought to you by Stan, via his website , interestingly titled 'Atheism Analyzed'.

I ran across this fellow here at Pharyngula. So I began puttering about the site, seeing just exactly who this cat is, and what he was about.

I found it terribly odd, that his logo was 'Friend of Atheism', and yet in a post time-stamped November 16, 2007, he refers to himself as a 'Forty Year Atheist'. Strange, but I shrugged and forged onwards.

What I found, was...intriguing. Not very friendly, I might add. (I found it semi-irksome that he spells atheism with a capital 'A', as if it is some sort of religion, when nothing could be further from the truth).

Here's a brief snippet:

As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions. I determined to expand my previously feeble knowledge of the subject, and to analyze what I found to be the positions of my fellow Atheists, using only the principles of logic and rational thought.

I will return to this shortly, as it will tie the threads together.

First and foremost, I believe the correct terminology is 'Retreat behind scholarship'. This is a standard tactic: surround a central thesis with so much material, that if you attempt to critique any sort of point in an effort at brevity, it can easily be misconstrued as a strawman. Of course, a good quote to apply here is ""The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit." - Francois FeNelon

Our 'friend' here is...well, pretty much a pauper in the war of words then.

I'm going to make an effort to nutshell most of this - and our overly sensitive buddy will no doubt holler about 'ad hominem' attacks, logical fallacies, and any other abuses this self-styled Vulcan will accuse me of. Be assured, gentle reader, that I went to dine at his table without presupposition: I came away with a bad taste in my mouth. Masquerades are better suited for Halloween and costume balls, not philosophy.

This'll be longer than I like - but in the interests of 'honesty', I'll fisk away. Bear with me:

The Atheist Worldview

Unlike, say, Buddhism, Atheism has almost all of these features. Let’s expand each worldview component to see how Atheism fits:

1. Cognition of reality, and levels (Godelian) of reality:

a. Natural essence (First Principles of existence and truth)

Atheism is first and foremost Naturalist and Materialist. For now, we will assume that the Atheist accepts the First Principles of existence and truth.

He defines this elsewhere. Let's lay out the terms here. Truth is defined as: 1. Conformity to fact or actuality, 2. A statement proven to be or accepted as true, 3. Sincerity; integrity, 4. Fidelity to an original or standard, 5.
a. Reality; actuality.
b. often Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

Existence is defined as - "The fact or state of existing; being."

I might also add, that Gödel's second incompleteness theorem states that "If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within itself, then it is inconsistent." While this is primarily applied to mathematics, evolution (small capital) falls squarely under this umbrella.

b. Intuitive essence (First level of validation)

By accepting the First Principles of existence and truth, by default the Atheist affirms the existence of intuition, which is the means for validation of the innate truth of the First Principles. This will produce stress for the Atheist, who might deny the concept of intuition, but who will exercise intuition by accepting the materialism of the First Principles. This produces a violation of the second First Principle: a paradox, within which the Atheist lives.

I've personally never had a problem with intuition - most folks don't. I think of it as an amalgamation of experiences processed via the five senses. In fact, I'd bet anyone who's been around children can attest to the fact that most kids don't do intuition in their early lives. Otherwise, we wouldn't have to teach them not to run with scissors, that the burner is too hot to touch (burnt hand teaches best, I always say), or that look of complete confusion when they do something that's completely counter-intuitive (if you have kids, you know exactly what I'm talking about).

c. Spiritual essence (Second level of validation)

Atheism will specifically deny any spiritual essence. This denial becomes part of the Atheist Statement of Faith, coming up.

Denial? If you mean 'some supernatural unseen derivative force manipulating my thoughts so I do the right thing', hell yes, I deny it. Got proof?

Here's where it starts reading like a Thomas Aquinas tract, with a few Jack Chick homilies tossed in:

Evolution is the Origin Story of Atheism. It is the Atheist’s ABSOLUTE Truth, unassailable, unquestionable cant; dogma. It is manipulated into forms for explaining not only the cosmos, life, and human origins, but also the origin of morality, and anything else that had an origin.

I'm still waiting for a better explanation: none is forthcoming. One-hundred-and-fifty odd years on, it stands the test of time, empiricism, and scientific inquiry.

b. Purpose of Life Story

Life is a random accident according to the absolutist dogma of Evolution. Atheism therefore sees absolutely no purpose to life beyond the perpetuation of one’s own genes, as natural selection occurs. So the sole purpose of life is genetic self perpetuation. Denial of this sole purpose leads to other paradoxes.

Balderdash. I've gone into this foolishness here - semantical games are so tiresome. Oh wait...here's a good quote from one of our 'high priests':  "Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution."

c. Value of Life Story

Again, life being a random accident according to absolutist Evolution cant, life has no value; there are no values in a randomly assembled world. The evolutionist claim of evolved morality is not accepted by many Atheists. Some claim that human value is in procreation; others claim that value is found only in the ability to produce. So life, by itself, has no inherent value, and eugenics can (and has) become a “legitimate” topic.

So I've pulverized the 'accident' theory, both semantically as well as philosophically: but apparently, we need some mysterious 'other' who is basically untouchable, doesn't talk to us, and we're supposed to have some 'relationship' with? Blogger, puh-lease. So make your own damn purpose. Also relying heavily on the pejorative term of 'eugenics': there's negative eugenics (as practiced by the Nazis), and transhumanism (positive) eugenics.

d. “Becoming” Story

The evolution of life to produce the evolutionist is the “becoming” story. There is nothing else to become, once one has naturally materialized, so to speak. However, “becoming” an Atheist is seen as total liberation from annoying moral restrictions, and restrictions of any kind including western, rational, non-contradictory thought. There is a thought that humans will evolve into something higher-ordered, becoming a race of super-humans. However there is absolutely no sign of such a genetic lineage so far.

I don't know where to begin with this. First up, the 'liberation' is from some obnoxious Iron age moral code that's an anachronism. Secondly, evolution doesn't progress in a straight line. 'Super-human'? Is he kidding? Read many X-men comics? I might refer the logorrheic author to the concept of telos.

e. Afterlife Story

With nothing else to become, once the spark of life has gone there is nothing left but the material fodder for worms (M.M.O’Hair).

Hey, I'm not a big fan of this, but reality is what it is. Unless of course he's channeling the afterlife through a Ouija board. Or, as Asimov put it so succinctly: "So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You'd better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can't rearrange the universe."

2. Statements of Belief

a. Statement of Faith (Non-negotiable)

The dogma of Evolution is taken on 100% faith as follows; faith that there is no other possible position; faith that “science” will find all the answers; faith in the [irrational] connections drawn between supposed “ancestors”; faith in the supremacy of the mind of man.

Still waiting for an alternate explanation. Oh, whoops. Excuse me.

A Faith Statement might be as follows:

I have complete, non-negotiable FAITH in the following tenets:

· Faith that the supreme intelligence in the universe is me, embodied in my mind.

'Supreme intelligence'? Is he serious, folks? What's the criterion for 'supreme', anyways? Define intelligence, please.

· Faith that the appearances of design are false.

Look up the word pareidolia, please.

· Faith that the first life self-assembled from warm chemicals in goo.

Prove otherwise.

· Faith that the universe is a self-induced, random occurrence.

Prove it.

· Faith that a “multiverse” that we can’t see is a rationale for a random universe producing life (Anthropic principle is false).

String theory's all nice, but unprovable. See here for my take on that.

· Faith that my mind is an assembly of random mutations, with no actual purpose beyond survival of the fittest. (A Meat Machine). Even so, it is the supreme intelligence in the universe.

The mutations are random, but the rest of it's not. 'Survival of the fittest' is actually yet another anachronism.

· Faith that the brain and the mind are one thing, inseparable.

Umm...since a lobotomy can seriously alter my personality, this is just a homunculus - which is described by the dictionary of philosophy as "A small person. A bad idea in the philosophy of mind is to explain a person's agency, or intelligence, or experience, as if there were a smaller agent, or intelligent thing, or experiencing subject ‘inside the head’. But homuncular functionalism decomposes complex functions into simpler ones, thereby avoiding the obvious regress."

· Faith that there is no intelligence in DNA.

Again, define 'intelligence'.

· Faith that if I can’t sense it, it does not exist. (No metaphysical existence).

Duh, yeah. Argument from ignorance.

· Faith that empiricism is the one and only true path to all-encompassing Truth and Enlightenment.

Let's call it 'confidence', shall we? Is there some other method that works in a lab? I call this the 'argument from capitalization' - atheism, capital A, truth, capital T, etc.

· Faith in Evolution, which is unquestionable; it is non-negotiable truth. See “Heresy”, below.

Everything is questionable. Problem is, it's hard to separate the 'facts' from the 'truth' (as demonstrated in my earlier definition).

· Faith that, because Evolution is non-negotiable truth, life has no meaning.

Covered this already.

· Faith that after death there are only worms.

It's fact. I don't like it. But my preferences don't change the matter.

Here's where it gets a little nutty:

b. Statement of Ethos

Anyone familiar with Jeffrey Dahmer, Madelyn Murray O’Hair, or Peter Singer will realize that the ethical code of Atheism is “Any Code I Desire” (A.C.I.D.) In fact any code that benefits me, right now, at this very moment. The code is total Narcissism.

In my book, anyone who invokes Dahmer is out the window. Here's a clown who drilled holes into kidnap victim's heads to turn them into love slaves, fer cryin' out loud. And when feet are held to the fire, every sociopath blames something in society. And for pity's sake, he was raised in a fundamentalist family. At 14, he was killing small animals and putting their heads on stakes. If anything, he was NOT THE POSTER CHILD for religious upbringing.

The rhetoric that follows is just ludicrous:

c. Statement of Heresy

The fight for the minds of school children is in fact a battle to eliminate heresy from the religious world of Atheism by means of governmentally-enforced installation of the Sacred Text of absolutist Darwinism into the schools. Referral to a second Godellian level of validation (spirituality) is heresy to the Atheist, who will take it as a serious affront to the Atheist Faith. So the exclusive installation of the sacred Precepts of absolutist Darwinism into the minds of children is imperative.

Yeah, whatever this guy claims to be, a 'friend to atheism' is obviously a lie. Let's disregard the mountains of forensic evidence: let's discount the repeatable, testable hypotheses implemented in the process: let's dispute every niggling detail and dismiss everything in toto. It's all a big conspiracy drafted up by the evilutionists (bu-hu-hahahahaha!) to pollute our childrens' precious bodily fluids! (It's hard not to descend into mockery - this guy's just rife with so...much..cognitive...dissonance.)

d. Statement of the Sacrosanct

Naturalism, and Materialism are sacred Beliefs. Empiricism and Forensics are the Sacred Rituals. Absolutist Evolution is Sacred Truth, unquestionable and therefore sacred dogma.

My irony meter's in the shop, or it'd explode right about now.

e. Statement of Evangelism

Evangelism is highly organized and fatly funded; the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have been government funded to the tune of millions. Evangelism is done primarily by threat, just as is Wahabi Islam; it is a form of domestic terrorism. A heretic is threatened with financial ruin by litigation by the fattened Atheist Evangelists. However, indoctrination is already state-imposed in many public school systems. The next generation is under constant evangelistic siege.

Somebody's been taking WorldNutDaily way too seriously. Comparing atheists to terrorists now? The mind boggles. Wonder if he votes Democrat? I'd bet the rent not.

f. Statement of Evil

As with any cult, evil is seen everywhere in the form of other religious faiths. In a stunning twist of logic, the purveyors of the ethical code that protects the Atheist (Christianity, the Bible and the Ten Commandments) are deemed evil. And any attack on the Sacred Precepts of Absolutist Darwinism are evil. The credo is that “science is not to be corrupted by the inroads of ’religion’ in the classroom”. So the denial of the next Godel level and the internal Type 2 (b) paradox are institutionalized.

Oh, so now we're the thought police? Is this guy serious? Does he poke a stick under a rock, and find a conspiracy there?

4. Hierarchy

a. High Priests

The celebrity scientists and philosophers clearly are the high priests of Atheism: Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Stephen J. Gould, Bertrand Russell, Theodore Dobzhansky, Carl Sagan, celebrities all. In politics, Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Mao. In the media, pick a channel; in Hollywood, pick a movie star; in the U.S. Senate, pick a Kennedy or a Clinton.

Oh, wow. Just, wow. High priests? The invidious 'celebrities' are in on it too? And of course, he plays the 'evil atheist dictator' card. Hitler, an atheist? The guy who banned books on evolution? The same guy who said,

"For this, to be sure, from the child's primer down to the last newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this one great mission, until the timorous prayer of our present parlor patriots: 'Lord, make us free!' is transformed in the brain of the smallest boy into the burning plea: 'Almighty God, bless our arms when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!"
- Adolf Hitler's prayer, Mein Kampf, Vol. 2 Chapter 13"

This guilt by association crap is getting staler by the minute.

b. Teachers, evangelizers

The tool of Evolution, plus the duality of modern secularism has made most school teachers into evangelists for Atheism. The media of all types is also secularly dualist, and promotes not only Evolution, but all forms of corrupted thought that contributes to secularization.

Yeah, try telling Ken Miller that. Or Francis Collins. This little ditty should put the kibosh on this garbage. Oh, wait...they're in on it too!

c. Becomers

Every young person on the way to college is a potential “becomer” for the Atheist evangelist to victimize. In fact, the inroads into lower schools made by Planned Parenthood operatives has made even first graders into to potential candidates to victimize.

So now Planned Parenthood is recruiting kids? Holy shit, we're everywhere! Plotting the demise of Western Civilization! (He said, pulling at his handlebar mustache, while tying the damsel in distress to a railroad track.) How absolutely vaudevillian.

5. Sacred Legacies

a. Texts, documents, unquestionable absolute truths.

The theory of Evolution, being the only hope for the Atheist, is the holiest of absolute, unquestionable truths. In fact, by way of contradiction and paradox, the completely relativistic universe of the Atheist is interrupted by one Holy, Absolute, Unquestionable, Unassailable Truth: Evolution.

Still waiting for an alternative that doesn't espouse exogenesis, or 'goddidit'.

Without Evolution, the Atheist has no logic at all because everything else in the Atheist world is relative; only Evolution is Absolute Truth. With Evolution, the Atheist need only deny a few details here and there, such as in Darwin’s Dodge, and Darwin’s Horrid Doubt, along with the other Darwinian falsifications (Coming up in the Chapter on Evolution). Then all the rest of life is free of all restrictions.

So we're all moral relativists? I've actually dismissed this as a cheap generalization: apparently I'm not the only one. And claiming that moral relativists are vested in an 'absolute truth' (I'll skip the capitalization: it's quite obnoxious) is such an oxymoron, it crosses the eyes.

So Atheism satisfies the criteria for religion-hood. In fact it’s a better fit than some other religions, such as Buddhism. Atheism is the religion of self, of narcissism.

Mixing and matching - this guy's a theist, just from these babblings alone.

So later on, this fella goes on to say the following:

Catch #1: Moral Honesty Benchmark:

An Atheist who claims to be morally honest is making that claim in a personal environment where there are no absolute morals (premise (c)), and thus no reliable benchmark. So without a moral benchmark to measure honesty, he is not honest in his claim to be so. Such a benchmark would have to be determined at higher Godel level to be valid; a higher level would be outside the environment of the Atheist’s supreme mind, and thus not recognized by the Atheist. However if he admits dishonesty, he is still without a benchmark to measure it, and the admission of dishonesty is dishonest. So he is caught in a paradox of perpetual dishonesty, Type 2 (b).

Catch #2: Intellectual Honesty:

If an atheist is to claim intellectual honesty, then he must admit that he cannot be morally honest in the absence of a benchmark for measuring moral honesty. But he cannot, without being caught in the previous paradox, producing another paradox of Type 1.

Catch #3: Co-opting Benchmarks:

If, on the other hand, the atheist claims moral honesty based on cultural (external, non-Atheist) standards for honesty, then he has to admit that he is co-opting benchmarks that are outside his beliefs, such as Judeo-Christian ethics. This is, of course, dishonest. (Especially when taking some ethical precepts, while rejecting others in order to favor certain predilections such as homosexuality, sexual paganism and abortion, etc). He is co-opting another Godel level, which he has already rejected. This contradiction produces a paradox of Type 1, and Type 2 (b).

Catch #4: Creating Benchmarks:

When making up benchmarks, or claiming that they evolved, the Atheist is confirming that there are no absolute benchmarks. Again claiming any kind of honesty without a firm benchmark is dishonest.

Thus, no matter which way it is turned, the sphere of atheism reflects an image of dishonesty, either intellectual, moral or both.

Therefore, a claim of honesty, either moral or intellectual, by an Atheist is a logical paradox, type 1 and type 2(b).

Didja catch all that? In summation: all atheists are liars. Where'd he purchase this thing, at the Paradoxical Pretzel shop? I call trilemma! I mean, this bozo invokes Gödel, famous for his incompleteness theorems? Does he tie this into that nonsense about the Uncaused Cause? (I haven't dug around for it, truthfully, because there's only so much casuistry I can stomach, folks.)

Let's tick the fallacies off:

The Frozen Abstraction (atheism as a religion), False cause (atheism is dishonest, immoral, based on the weak premise that evolution is completely wrong) better known as post hoc ergo propter hoc, Weak analogy (argument from design), Equivocation (Truth AND Existence, capitalized), the Tu quoque, oh hell, I could go on for days, but if we were to actually never use any fallacy whatsoever, chances are pretty good there'd be no dialogues at all.

Icing on the cake time, troops:

So let's backtrack a bit: remember this, at the beginning?

As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions.

So, culling the aforementioned quote and synchronizing it with the preceding blockquoted paragraph, I have this to ask:

You were a dishonest, immoral A-theist for forty years, by your own words. Why should we believe you now? Do spare us the 'mine eyes have seen the light!' bit.

Final amateur armchair psychologist diagnosis - all hail, the Pretender! I for one am getting more than a little tired of these folks who swing full tilt from one extreme to the next, devoid of the self-awareness that this is likely a bi-polar disorder, rather than a moment of extreme enlightenment.

I'm all for someone changing their minds, and explaining it duly. But this bit of drivel is enough to cross the eyes and make the knees all wobbly.

Hope you enjoyed this vaudevillian bit of Sock Puppet Theater. Can't say that I did.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Constantly Evolving...The Year In Review, Part Deus

My dear friend Stardust tagged me with this meme, and I am now getting around to it (Yeesh, nearly four months...I'm too laconic for my own damn good sometimes).

This is Year Two, Anno Dominatrix, In The Year Of Our Pain (I of course am joking - submission's never been my thing. So some of you can put away the dog collars, whips and bowls. Hehehehe).

I've gone into my 'exegesis' here, here and here, outlining my personal journey to this monumental decision that runs contrary to the consensus in this country. As with any new road, there are some elements of discomfort, nervousness, isolation.

1. I started googling on atheism, and found the Nogodblog. I threw in my 2¢ worth in (which thread? I don't quite recall), and a blogger there (name of Heathenz) told me my opinion was worth a whole lot more.

I began with my first post on December 24th, 2005, titled OF BLACK EYES, BASTARD CHILDREN, AND BAD KARMA - where I raged against double standards, advised my readers against the adoption of such, etc, etc, et al.

2. I began as most atheists do: examining core concepts of exegesis (AKA biblical higher criticism) as well as the archeological aspects. I still do this on occasion.

3. Being an avid fan of human nature, I also began examining the more prevalent behavior patterns among the faithful. Augustine's injunction of "Never judge a philosophy by its abuse" is a load of crap from where I sit - by that logic, we should play nicey-nice with the KKK or the freakin' Nazis. How else ARE we to judge it then?

4. I began branching out from there - quickly becoming a champion (or at least a voice in the clarion call) for gay rights, Original Intent, abortion, both defending and bashing Islam (not to mention Scientology, Mor(m)onology and various other religions), defending atheism (I'd link some more, but there's a nice column on your left outlining all my labels), smacking creationism, defending evolution, and in general, kvetching about bullshit in general. Walking this path, I've managed to upgrade my knowledge on scientific matters to a great degree (without getting a degree - I'm an autodidact in these matters).

5. By March of 2007, I was invited by Stardust to join the ranks of the Gifsters -and it's confession time. I began hanging about there somewhere in late 2006, and I felt a twinge of jealousy that I'd not been invited on. I kept my peace on that subject - I never asked, not once. Build on that as you like, or just ask. In the meantime, I'd begun challenging believers right and left. To the date of this writing, nobody's come to bat on any of the subjects I've challenged them on. Hell, I've even gone after Chuckles Ignoris. I've received some emails - one from this bozo about this post - I was told he'd 'pray' for me, and I replied with the pat, "I'll do the thinking for the both of us". The other one was this extremely polite Muslim, who'd promised to get back to me on these three posts back in September. He's redirected me here - it's fairly ridiculous (more on this soon!).

It's gotten a wee bit frenzied lately, what with the job and all. So much so, that I'm not around at my hang-outs as much, I post once a week (cross posting at GifS on Sundays), whereas I used to do 3-5 posts a week, and for those of you who have received no comments in response to your own - multiple and profuse apologies. Lately, it seems that I've said my peace, and if you comment during the week, I'm usually tuckered out by the time I get home (around sevenish or so), so I've been an exceptionally poor host.

I average somewhere between 50-100 visitors a day, but commentary has been sparse (or non-existent).

As for anti-atheist emails, I receive none. Seriously. No one's tried to convert me, no drooling Jukes and Kalikaks (although that particular study's been deflated - I can't use that obscure, esoteric phrase ever again) threatening me with hellfire or raised fists.

I'm still ambivalent about being pleased or nonplussed by that.

Be that as it may, wish me a happy bloggo-versary. And my thanks to the few, the proud, the readers of this tiny crest on the oceans of the blogosphere.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Starting To Look A Lot Like...Nothing?

Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!

Bizarro-atheistxmasIt's that time of year again - and if you're anything like me, you probably have a few Xmas jingles doing a dance step inside your head (due to the incessant playing of said tunes on the radio and boob tube).

I get a tad maudlin this time o' year, probably due to the decades of conditioning and fond childhood memories. So humor an old man, willya?

I was about eight years old, when I discovered there wasn't a Santa Claus. I stayed up late, and snuck out quiet as a mouse (thinkin' I was the only thing stirring, to paraphrase the rhyme), hoping to catch old Kris Kringle in flagrante delicto as it were, and with my little eye, I did spy...my folks assembling our presents.

That next morning, I demanded the truth. My folks fum-fahed, and finally admitted - there was no Santa Claus!

Delighted by my discovery, I (almost) immediately divulged this bit of info to my closest friend Greg, who lived across the street from me...and was rewarded with a bloody nose. My first foray with truth versus fantasy was greeted with fists. A harsh lesson, indeed.

So here I am, some forty-odd years later, a little smarter, somewhat more mature, and just a bit better at dodging the odd punch.

I still celebrate it. Yes, it's hard to be a major buzzkill this time of year, after years of celebrating a family tradition. (Good thing I haven't joined the alleged 'War on Christmas'.) Let's face it - it's a good excuse to take some time off, rub shoulders with those annoying folks you call relatives, and maybe come away with something other than a hangover. I confess, I rather like Xmas. Just strip away all the religious nonsense, please.

And of course, the Grinches come out in droves, ranting their usual nonsense about our cultural traditions (hey, traditions change, most notably along with the increasing diversity of a country), carrying on in the style of your standard conspiracy wackjob, and altogether or separately, making complete and utter asses of themselves.

Maybe no one's noticed, but the Huffington Post has declared the 'War is over! (Imagine me snickering into my palm like Muttley.)

Somehow, the phrase 'wag the dog' springs readily to mind.

I'm all for renaming it Winterval - this exclusivist attitude on the part of the religious is irksome, to say the least. We hear this all year round, don't we? It's our country, it's our gwad, it's mine, mine, mine, you can't have it, let alone complain or criticize it.

"Peace on earth, good will towards man" - when exactly did the escape clause get worked into that? (Another symptom of how deeply religion's entrenched in our culture - I can pretty much sing the lyrics to that nod to the 'on high'. Blecch! 'Mercy mild' my homesick ass.)

Anyways, y'all have a wicked Winterval, y'hear?


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deifying The Disabled - How Religion Slips Mental Illness Under The Radar

Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!mentalillness

"Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics go and live in them. Psychologists charge rent." - Unknown.

Right on the heels of my prior post, more bedlam erupted in the form of a lone shooter in Colorado. Another senseless tragedy.

Stardust pointed out rightly, here, that there was an immense silence from on high - no intervention (outside the perceived nonsense that survival of this, or any incident, is indicative of such), no parting of the heavens, no blinding light, no angels stepping in, in short, no miracles whatsoever. Just another sloppy sentence in the book of humanity's history.

I'm not a big fan of the idea that religion impels folks to commit unspeakable acts, or enact tragedies. I'm of the mind that these incidents would've occurred regardless of epistemology.

My main peeve, is that obviously deficient world-view that religion improves people, when in fact, all one has to do is scan the news feeds (or even historical events) to put the lie to that sentence.

Augustine is quoted as saying, "Never judge a philosophy by its abuse." Which, as far as I'm concerned, is an unmitigated load of crap. How else are we supposed to judge it then? One may as well argue that every system has its good points, regardless.

My other major issue, is that a system based on the supernatural tends to overlook obvious symptoms of mental illness. If a hereafterian meets with someone who claims to have visions (read: hallucinations), has glossolalia (read: blathers gibberish) or hears voices (read: schizophrenia), and overall makes claims to have some sort of alternate reality that's agreeable to the listener, the possibility that the exponent of these 'worldviews' is unhinged is (usually) glossed over.

Again, history is rife with these examples. Indeed, one has only to scan any religious texts to find evidence where lunatics were not only given a free hand, they were actually applauded for misconduct (I'd link to a few examples, say like this little ditty, or perchance this one, but knowing this readership, well over a hundred such instances will get trotted out anyways).

Time to trot out a bit of objectivity:

I have stipulated elsewhere, that I used to hear 'voices'. It's actually fairly common in most folks. Despite its commonality though, there's a stigma attached. It tends to isolate people. Left to our own devices, we then have the habit of rationalizing why we are the sole recipient of these auditory hallucinations. There's even a movement for those folks (I'm voice-free now - so I'm on the outside looking in).

And, in fact, hallucinations of many varieties are common among the rational and irrational alike.

So there doesn't seem to be any really clear-cut definition as to what signifies mental illness - I've always maintained that everyone is something of a 'lunatic', there are simply degrees of acceptability.

So when does it become unacceptable? How about here? (Note the religious language - 'haunted by demons' is so much more fraught with romantic meaning than being a squalid crazy.) How about this little event? Or this one?

In my humble (amateur) opinion, I think that the issue rolls around the ability to anchor oneself to reality. It is one thing to daydream, to have fantasies (large and small) that harm no one, it is another thing to live in accordance with those fantasies, and it is entirely something else again to force them on others.

Repeating myself: it is harm inferred and harm incurred that is the yardstick we use. In the case of Murray, we see that, even though he was a few shades more irrational than the crowd he sought refuge with, his symptoms match some of those we'd find in any ascetic fanatic living in the desert.

So, nutshelling it:

There are numerous examples that illustrate that as a species, we see, hear, touch, taste, and even smell something illusory - and on a small scale, this is somewhat acceptable (it kind of has to be).

On the broader scale; religion tends to sanctify the borderline lunacy, and throw roses at the chemical imbalances, proclaiming a deus ex machina - that is, until the marginal mental illness blossoms into something of a nepenthes rajah writ large and prone to cannibalism.

And the sheep wander about with that nonplussed look on their faces, because no one saw it coming. After all, they prattled enough to the unanswering sky, didn't they? Their shepherd certainly loses enough lambs, does he not?

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Sunday, December 09, 2007



"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers." - Grossman's Law

Today's episode of Scapegoat Theater (yet another holdover anachronism from that most loathsome of tomes, the wholly bibble) features that most casuistic of mental processes - the easy answer to complex social problems.

Our first contestant is Denyse O'Leary - who claims that Social Darwinism motivated the Jokela school shootings.

The best counterpunch is this post from the Panda's Thumb.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

Our next contestant is our old, dear friend, Ken Ham, who blames the Virginia Tech shootings (along with the Columbine killings) on the stripping of God from the science classes.

Since any of these romantic, 'metaphysical' quibblings are untestable, unfalsifiable, and lacking in solid evidence, they have no place in a lab, let alone in a classroom. Stick to philosophy courses.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

The third contestant is Dinesh D'Souza, who claims that evolution is responsible for the aforementioned shootings:

“For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho’s shooting of all those people can be understood in this way–molecules acting upon molecules.”

Not even going to go into length (or link) on how retarded that statement is.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

Fourth up, we actually have the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (actually, his father) claiming that 'atheistic beliefs' cut Jeffrey free from any restraints.

What, pray tell, kept Gilles de Rais from going apeshit crazy? Richard Ramirez was of another variety, but still, religious. "I'll see you in Disneyland," was his retort to getting a death sentence.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

Next up, Lee Strobel tells of the debunking of the Miller-Urey experiment that 'led him into atheism'.

Clearly, Strobel hasn't a clue as to the differences between evolution and abiogenesis. Also, Talkorigins addresses the Miller-Urey experiment adequately. One might note, that unless Herr Strobel was using a bit of hyperbole, one scientific venture does not an epistemology make.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

The list goes on, but I'll top it off with a real charmer -  contestant number six is good old Chuck Colson, who in a tirade of tolerance, made this statement:

"This is a virulent strain of atheism which seeks to destroy our belief system," Colson said.

Atheism as a disease? How on earth would he eradicate it (if hypothetically this were so)? What happens next, if Chuckles gets his way? Contextually speaking, a disease infers a cure, does it not? Would he enforce some sort of atheist vaccine? Repeal the First Amendment? Of course, Chuckles isn't a big fan of the SOCAS (it's uni-directional, dontcha know?).

It's getting ridiculous. No, wait, it already IS ridiculous. Blaming all of societies ills and woes on one particular source without taking in the complex equations that factor into that laundry list falls under Grossman's law (cited above). This sounds suspiciously along these lines:

"The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation… until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern Country." - Woodrow Wilson

But I digress...Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

I'd hand out consolation prizes (booby prizes in this case), but rewarding stupidity is enabling it.

If I were a coward, I'd shut up about it, and become one of those 'casual secularists' the religious are always prattling about.

But I'm not, so I won't. I'll say it loud and proud: I don't believe. And I have good reasons not to. Multiple good reasons, in fact.

If that makes me a militant atheist, so be it. (And folks wonder why we're so loud and pissed off. Yeesh, get a clue, willya?)

This is the Apostate, signing off.



Thursday, December 06, 2007

So The Holidays Are Here Again...

 Hi y'all - on a rainy day, home sick (actually had dental surgery done - YUM! Dental pain being a great argument for atheism and/or dystheism), thought I'd update my gentle readers as to what I've been up to.

The scary individual to your right is none other than your humble deponent himself, all duded-up for Halloween. The tentative tri-title for this is:

A. Michael Jackson's confusion,
B. Ebony and Ivory, or
C. The Mime From Hell

Pick one that suits your fancy. Interpretation is such a tricksy matter.

I went to the Google Halloween bash for a few hours, and it was a lotta fun. I wish I had some pictures - there were some thoroughly AWESOME costumes - including the Burger King, and assorted others too numerous to go into here. My favorite was a young gal who dressed herself up in what looked like a brown gumdrop, with a halo and angel's wings, and announced on stage (yes, there was a long line-up at the Googleplex), that she was 'Holy Shit!'

My Thanksgiving holiday went pretty good - we began digging in, someone insisted on doing a prayer, and my little sister announced to all and sundry that I wasn't to be included - and they went ahead with a Cafe Christian homily ('Gwad is good, Gwad is great, thank you for the food we eat, amen!'), while I kept slathering food on my plate.

Musta gained 10 pounds and shaved a decade off my life, what with the rich food.

For those of you who are still interested in what I look like, the following videos are of me, doing sections from my workout, in a local park.

Though truthfully, I thought I was a little better at it than these videos show. My weaponry sets are kinda new: my hand sets/forms are miles better (at least I think so).


Straight sword:

Yes, I do indeed wave these things about in public parks, including doing my spear/staff form and a fan form, not to mention my Yang, Chen, and Fu style Tai Chi forms. Really, what good is an art form, if there's no one about to appreciate it?
Anyways, enjoy.

Hope you're having a wicked Winterval.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Allegories Gone Wild - And The Walls, They Came A-Tumbling Down...Or Did They?

Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!

(Or, how some bad construction turned into a fairy tale)jericho20

When the walls
Come tumblin down
When the walls
Come crumblin, crumblin
When the walls come
Tumblin, tumblin down
- Crumblin' Down, John Mellencamp

A quote from McDowell's Evidence That Demands A Verdict kept circling in my mind lately. This one:

"It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever contravened a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible's almost incredibly correct historical memory" (Dr. Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert [New York, Grove, 1960], p. 31).

I went searching, and found these as well:

"Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the Bible, but always confirms and verifies the facts of the biblical record." - Dr. J. O. Kinnaman.

(I couldn't find much dirt on the first or the following gent, this little piece really outlines what a wack-a-doodly-o Herr Kinnaman was.)

Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, "After forty-five years of scholarly research in biblical textual studies and in language study, I have come now to the conviction that no man knows enough to assail the truthfulness of the Old Testament. When there is sufficient documentary evidence to make an investigation, the statement of the Bible, in the original text, has stood the test" (Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, Speaker's Source Book, p. 391).

Stood the test? 'Almost incredibly correct historical memory'? Not only do we know that indeed, the Great Deluge never occurred, the Tower of Babel was an utter fabrication, and the Exodus was likely the expulsion of the Hyksos (who were actually running the show, not the abject slaves they were painted to be), a great many of the alleged 'historical events' that occurred in the benign Necronomicon were either

A. Altered, or
B. Not jotted down properly at all.

Case in point: Jericho.

Conservapedia actually says this:

At the moment there is no consensus in the archaeological community on when or how Jericho was destroyed.

However, the different conclusions are not over whether evidence was found that matched the biblical description, but over the timing.

There's nothing quite like...understatement.

The answers.com entry has this to say:

A destruction of Jericho's walls dates archaeologically to around 1550 BC in the 16th century BC at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, by a siege or an earthquake in the context of a burn layer, called City IV destruction. Opinions differ as to whether they are the walls referred to in the Bible. According to one biblical chronology, the Israelites destroyed Jericho after its walls fell out around 1407 BC: the end of the 15th century. Originally, John Garstang's excavation in the 1930s dated Jericho's destruction to around 1400 BC, in confirmation, but like much early biblical archaeology, his work became criticised for using the Bible to interpret the evidence rather than letting the facts on the ground draw their own conclusions. Kathleen Kenyon's excavation in the 1950s redated it to around 1550 BC, a date that most archaeologists support. In 1990, Bryant Wood critiqued Kenyon's work after her field notes became fully available. Observing ambiguities and relying on the only available carbon dating of the burn layer, which yielded a date of 1410 BC plus or minus 40 years, Wood dated the destruction to this carbon dating, confirming Garstang and the biblical chronology. Unfortunately, this carbon date was itself the result of faulty calibration. In 1995, Hendrik J. Bruins and Johannes van der Plicht used high-precision radiocarbon dating for eighteen samples from Jericho, including six samples of charred cereal grains from the burn layer, and overall dated the destruction to an average 1562 BC plus or minus 38 years. Kenyon's date of around 1550 BC is widely accepted based on this methodology of dating. Notably, many other Canaanite cities were destroyed around this time.

If the dates of certain schools of archaeology are to be accepted, then scholars who link these walls to the biblical account must explain how the Israelites arrived around 1550 BC but settled four centuries later and devise a new biblical chronology that corresponds. The current opinion of many archaeologists is in stark contradiction to the biblical account.

The Wikipedia entry on Biblical Criticism (the neutrality of the entire entry is disputed, gee, what a frelling surprise) has this to say:

The account of Joshua has more difficulty vis-a-vis the archaeological record, since Jericho and other settlements do not show signs of violent disruption in the time period required for the Israelite invasion (However, the Bible tells of the rebuilding and population of Jericho, among others destroyed by the Israelites). Neither does there appear to be any systematic destruction of cities, but instead only independent events occurring at significantly different times, more in agreement with events presented in the Book of Judges.

(Emphases mine.)

This wholly bibble is just rife with so many writhing contradictions, it's just staggering that anyone could take the bleeding thing seriously. As if it's not bad enough the adherents of said Iron Age tome seem to be incapable of ironing out their differences about what the flipping thing says (and 2000 years of constantly arguing over it says all you really need to know how farcical the whole brouhaha is), the raging historical inconsistencies are yet another nail in the coffin of this dying, blind shambling giant.

Which of course, prompts the outcry, "This is all outta context!" (Christlation: 'The bibble doesn't say what it says, it says this [insert allegorical dance step of choice here].")

I think the word I'm searching for, is Pshaw!

Till the next post, then.