Category Archives: beliefs

A Few Truths

Why do Christians lie so much? What is this “lying for Jesus” all about. A means to an end is not always the morally right thing to do.

There are several Christian lobby groups around these days with The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and Access Ministries being two very vocal, and apparently quite powerful, examples. The idea of a Christian lobby group should worry every right thinking person, religious or not. Why Christians need lobby groups is a thing to ponder, what ever happened to religious groups just doing what they do best – sings songs in churches and do a little charity work. When did they become so powerful? Are we seeing the march to a theocracy in this country?

ACL wrote this small article titled “A few truths of the religion in schools debate” supporting a Bishop who had written an article in Online Opinion (OO) complaining about The Age’s reporting of Christian Religious Education.

OzAz wrote the following comment in reply to the ACL:

Truth? You wouldn’t know the meaning of the word Truth.

If, as you’d like to portray, Christianity is the predominant religion in Australia (at last census about 60%, BUT only about 20% actual practitioners) then how can you cry “oppression”?

Australians, by and large, aren’t fearful of religion, most just don’t care either way. What we do fear is right wing fundamentalist religious organisations using tax payer funded money (for which they are totally unaccountable for!) to promote their narrow minded view of the world based on, what many believe, to be an out-dated book.

Even adherents of the various holy books do not adhere to everything written in them, so why should the rest of us adhere to anything written in them?

Some may suspect that the only reason your group, and other groups like yours, are so keen to use tax payers and parishioners money to lobby government to spend even more tax payer dollars on allowing CRE, Chaplains in schools and other forms of ensuring you get a foothold into schools and therefore young and impressionable minds is to procure more followers. The more followers the more money you can make. Pity this money isn’t always used for good charitable works.

PS I have copied this and will paste it to various other blogs and forums as I suspect you won’t have the dignity or adhere to freedom of speech and allow this comment to be posted to your site.

OzAz has forwarded this comment to me for inclusion in my blog, as he suspects the ACL will not moderate his comment as the ACL seem to have a habit of not allowing any comment which questions them in any way shape or form.

As usual Chrys Stevenson has written an excellent response to Nicholas Tuohy’s article in OO, I recommend you read it.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under atheism, beliefs, bible, censorship, christianity, church, politics, religion, religious school, secular

Why Do Good

“where does the desire to do good come from”

Bradley left a comment on my FAQ 1 page – The Ten Commandments and Morality – as follows:

I just have a question, not a comment. If there is no transcendental being from whom we get at least some inspiration to do good, where does the desire to do good come from, and why would we have any preferences any way? I know that certain things are just naturally disliked, but what makes it uncomfortable or not to be liked?

Rather than clog up my FAQ page I’ve copied this to a new post so I can answer the question, as well as make it easier for others to answer or comment.

Well Bradley to put it simply, the desire to do good has just been bred into us, the human race would not have survived if at least most of us hadn’t wanted to instinctively do good. How long do you think humankind would last if everyone wanted to rape, steal, lie, cheat, harm or kill? Not long.

Much like you assert that “certain things are just naturally disliked” so are certain things just naturally liked.

Apart from the evolution of society needing to (mainly) do good to each other to survive [read some literature on the ethic of reciprocity, which by the way was NOT invented by Christians as some are want to believe, as to why] science has also found various chemicals in the brain, and brain functions, that indicate the desire to do good is a physical property of the body. Have a read of some articles about Oxytoxin for example.

I don’t know about you Bradley, but I find when I do something good I feel good, I get a little “kick” out of doing something good, and it makes me happy. Why would this be? Perhaps it’s chemicals in the brain? Perhaps it’s because of the knowledge that I’ve made someone happy or improved their life in some way. But why be altruistic (which is what we are talking about when we discuss doing good things for no apparent reason or expectation of return)? We know that most religions cite altruism as a virtue, but I don’t consider that religion has a ‘hold’ on altruism. In fact it has been shown that many species of animals act in an altruistic manner and that there is an evolutionary explanation for altruism.

I consider it wholly possible to do good without any transcendental being providing inspiration. Anyway, how would we know a transcendental being provided the inspiration? Could it not be that any supposed transcendental inspiration is actually our own innate goodness and inspiration? That due to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of thought, this inspiration was deemed to have come from a transcendental being only because there didn’t seem to be any other way to explain it’s existence?

Time and again science has discovered reasons for things that people thought were the actions of a transcendental being, pushing the reason for a need, or the possibility, of any transcendental being further and further into non-existence. Perhaps one day science will prove where the desire to do good comes from (from what little I’ve read they pretty well already have) or perhaps there are some things that just are. Either way I see no reason to bring any transcendental being into the equation.

Technorati : , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , ,

20 Comments

Filed under atheism, beliefs, christianity, compassion, evolution, golden rule, religion, science

Is the Bible True or False

So,

Is the Bible True or False?

Or,

The Da Vinci Code Argument TM

Just because a book contains some factual references does not make the whole book factual.

There are some stories written in the Christian Bible that have archaeological, geological or other evidence to back them up; or at least indicate a strong likelihood for being based on real places, people or events. However this does not necessarily prove that what the Bible says happened to them, or what they said or did, is true or correct.

For instance, there is evidence that Jericho was an occupied area as far back as the Natufian period (10,800-8,500 BC), and in the Early / Middle Bronze Age (3100-1800 BC) had extensive defensive walls. There is also evidence that Jericho was destroyed in the Late Bronze Age (1800-1400 BC). (from The Archaeology of the Ancient City of Jericho)

However, is there evidence that the walls of Jericho were blown down at the sound of Joshua’s horn? No, and it seems highly unlikely.

We have evidence for Jericho (or at least dwellings in the area prescribed to be Jericho) actually existing and being destroyed at some stage, however, this does not prove the story of Joshua being true as there is no evidence for the sounds of horns destroying the city. True, the absence of evidence does not mean it didn’t occur, a supernatural occurrence might not leave any natural evidence, but it also doesn’t prove it did occur. Additionally it is now held that Jericho was destroyed in 1562 BCE, well over 100 years before the accepted time of the biblical story.

Despite some stories having some evidence, there are also stories for which, despite intensive searches and investigation, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever, and in some cases completely contradictory evidence.

… geological investigations [have] proved without a doubt that there was no planet-wide flood as described in the Old Testament of the bible, …

from Is the Bible Fact or Fiction? History of Archaeology, Part 3 :

So, let’s not ask if the Bible is true or false. Instead, let’s ask a series of questions.

1. Did the places and cultures that are mentioned in the Bible and the other ancient texts exist? Yes, in many cases, they did. Archaeologists have found evidence for many of the locations and cultures mentioned in the ancient texts.

2. Did the events that are described in these texts happen? Some of them did; archaeological evidence in the form of physical evidence or supporting documents from other sources can be found for some of the battles, the political struggles, and the building and collapse of cities.

3. Did the mystical things that are described in the texts occur? It’s not my area of expertise, but if I were to hazard a guess, if there were miracles that occurred, they wouldn’t leave archaeological evidence. [Personally I don’t totally agree with this last statement from the author of the About.com article, some supernatural miracles could leave evidence, not necessarily evidence for their supernaturalness but evidence something happened]

4. Since the places and the cultures and some of the events that are described in these texts happened, shouldn’t we just assume that the mysterious parts also happened? No. Not any more than since Atlanta burned, Scarlett O’Hara really was dumped by Rhett Butler.

There are many many ancient texts and stories about how the world began; and many are at variance with one another. From a global human standpoint, why should one ancient text be more accepted than any other? The mysteries of the bible and other ancient texts are just that — mysteries. It is not, and never has been, within the archaeological purview to prove or disprove their reality. That is a question of faith, not science.

In my opinion, if you have to rely on faith, then in all likelihood it isn’t true.

The fact that parts of the bible are somewhat backed up by some evidence, doesn’t mean the whole of the bible is factual, especially all the supernatural elements of it. There are far too many errors in the bible, and sections for which there is no, or contradictory, evidence, for the Bible to be accepted as a factual book.

Why I call it The Da Vinci Code Argument TM. The Da Vinci Code contains a lot of facts; places, names and events that are real. It also contains a lot of “FICTS” (a made up word that represents a fiction that has some basis in fact or sounds convincing enough that it might be a fact), it is though a work of fiction. The Bible is, in a way, similar to the Da Vinci Code; it contains some factual places, names and events, it also contains some “ficts”, but overall it is a work of fiction.

When the Da Vinci Code was released there was quite an uproar among some elements of society, particularly the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church and others spent considerable time and effort debunking some of the “facts”, “ficts”, myths and legends mentioned in the book. Dan Brown may have stated some points as facts that obviously weren’t, whether this was intentional or not is debatable, but ultimately everyone knew (or should have) that the book was a work of fiction.

It’s a pity that the Catholic Church and other Christians don’t spend as much time and effort debunking their own book, the Bible has been shown to contain many factual errors, contains plagiarised versions of older myths and statements about supernatural events that can never be proved. Rather than trying to bend and twist what little facts are in the Bible into declaring the Bible factual, perhaps it’s about time the churches came out and admitted the Bible is a work of fiction?

This post was inspired by a comment on Atheist Climber’s  Scared of Death post, in which sabepashubbo questions how can we say the bible is a work of fiction when it contains some facts.

Technorati : , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , ,
Flickr : , , , ,

5 Comments

Filed under beliefs, bible, christian, religion, science

Respect my Right to Believe

From twitter

though i do not an believe in atheism i will respect the rights of those who do. But in return i expect you to respect my right to believe

I respect all believers (religions of all varieties) rights to believe whatever they wish.

What I don’t respect is what those believers do in the name of their beliefs, especially if it impacts negatively on the rest of the population that doesn’t happen to believe in their particular brand of belief. What I don’t respect is believers trying to force their beliefs on others, particularly when those beliefs are not backed by any evidence whatsoever. I don’t respect believers who indoctrinate their children into their beliefs. I don’t respect believers who prevent condom use, prevent abortions or euthanasia purely on religious grounds not any logical or scientific grounds. I don’t respect beliefs that encourage people to harm others purely because they don’t have the same beliefs. I don’t respect beliefs that subjugate women or children and that discourage scientific investigation and research. I certainly don’t respect that governments hand out billions of tax dollars to religions purely because they promote religion. Just because it’s “religion” should not automatically mean it gets respect.

As Richard Dawkins said recently about Muslims [paraphrased] “… it’s because I fear you, don’t ever think it’s because I respect you”.

In other words, I respect your right to believe but don’t expect that I’ll respect you simply because you believe in some form of religion and/or god(s).

How can you not believe in atheism? It’s like saying you don’t believe in non-stamp collecting. You don’t have to like the idea that there are millions, if not billions, of people on this planet who are atheists, but you can’t not believe that such an idea exists. Whilst ever there is a principle called theism there will be a principle called atheism.

Technorati : , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , ,
Flickr : , , , ,

7 Comments

Filed under atheism, atheist, beliefs, god, religion

50 Reasons – A Review

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison – A Review by OzAtheist

Finished reading the above book on my Kindle today, did I mention I have a Kindle? 🙂

This is an excellent book for atheists and theists alike. For theists it gives them some questions to answer as to why they may believe in a god. For atheists it provides 50 reasons why believing in a god has no basis in reality, but it does it in a very nice way.

Unlike many other atheist tracts (Dawkins, Hitchens take note) this book is rather polite and not condescending (well not much) to believers. The book has certainly given me some positive ideas on how I should better interact with believers. Harrison makes some very good points about how non-believers might persuade believers to think about their position when it comes to believing in a god.

A fair few of the observations made in this book have been said many times before by many people. However, I think Harrison has done a very good job of putting them all together in the one book, and in a polite and thought provoking (particularly to theists) manner.

Here is the list of 50 reasons why people believe in a god:

  1. My god is obvious
  2. Almost everybody on Earth is religious
  3. Faith is a good thing
  4. Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists
  5. Only my god can make me feel significant
  6. Atheism is just another religion
  7. Evolution is bad
  8. Our world is too beautiful to be an accident
  9. My god created the universe
  10. Believing in my god makes me happy
  11. Better safe than sorry
  12. A sacred book proves my god is real
  13. Divine justice proves my god is real
  14. My god answers prayers
  15. I would rather worship my god than the devil
  16. My god heals sick people
  17. Anything is better than being an atheist
  18. My god made the human body
  19. My god sacrificed his only son for me
  20. Atheists are jerks who think they know everything
  21. I don’t lose anything by believing in my god
  22. I didn’t come from a monkey
  23. I don’t want to go to hell
  24. I feel my god when I pray
  25. I need my god to protect me
  26. I want an eternal life
  27. Without my god we would have no sense of right and wrong
  28. My god makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself
  29. My religion makes more sense than all the others
  30. My god changes lives
  31. Intelligent design proves my god is real
  32. Millions of people can’t be wrong about my religion
  33. Miracles prove my god is real
  34. Religion is beautiful
  35. Some very smart people believe in my god
  36. Ancient prophecies prove my god exists
  37. No one has ever disproved the existence of my god
  38. People have gone to heaven and returned
  39. Religion brings people together
  40. My god inspires people
  41. Science can’t explain everything
  42. Society would fall apart without religion
  43. My religion is so old it must be true
  44. Someone I trust told me that my god is real
  45. Atheism is a negative and empty philosphy
  46. Believing in a god doesn’t hurt anyone
  47. The earth is perfectly tuned to support life
  48. Believing is natural so my god must be real
  49. The end is near
  50. I am afraid of not beleiving

By all accounts all of the above 50 reasons have been told to Harrison, I think I’ve heard most of them myself. Harrison does repeat himself a few times, but I have to forgive him this faux pas as so do most theists!

Overall, a good read, another book that should be compulsory reading by everyone on the planet.

11 Comments

Filed under atheism, beliefs, book review, god, theism

A Big Day in Science

Two interesting science articles caught my eye today. One about evolution and  one about astronomy.

Evolution

Another ‘missing link’ has been found. From the BBC News comes the story of a fossil found in the Arctic which looks like a cross between an otter and a seal.

A skeleton unearthed in northern Canada shows a creature with feet that were probably webbed, but were not flippers.

Writing in the journal Nature, scientists suggest the 23 million-year-old proto-seal would have walked on land and swum in fresh water.

Great name thay have given it: Pujilla darwini.

Pujilla is an Inuktitut term for “young sea mammal”, and darwini is named after Charles Darwin who contented that land mammals would naturally move into the marine environment via a fresh water stage.

Read the rest of the story here.

Damned evilutionists you may have found another missing link, but where’s the crocoduck fossil? expected fundie question

Astronomy

A ‘blob’ has been found. Also from BBC News, comes the story that astronomers have found  a “Lyman-alpha blob”, which is 55,000 light years across,  and 12.9 billion light years away. Scientists are now wondering how such a large object formed so soon after the ‘big bang’.

“Many early theories of galaxy formation predicted a Lyman-alpha ‘fuzz’ around early galaxies,” said James Geach, an astronomer at the University of Durham who works on Lyman-alpha blobs.

“The problem is that no-one is entirely sure what mechanism gives rise to the extended emission; a number of theories of Lyman-alpha blob formation abound, but all are difficult to test”

Yeah I guess it would be quite difficult to test the creation of a universe, but I’m sure the scientists will eventually come up with a very good theory to explain how these ‘blobs’ formed.

blob‘ – is that the best name you scientists/astronomers could come up with?

Read the rest of the story here.

The scientists don’t have to wonder how the ‘blob’ got there, God put it there. expected fundie statement

Everyday more and more amazing things come to light in the science world; and more and more explanations for how the world and the universe works are discovered. But still there are those that cling to ‘goddidit’, how much further does science have to squeeze god out of the equation before people realise that there probably is no god?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 Comment

Filed under atheism, beliefs, Big Bang, Darwin, evolution, god, religion, science

Uncle Tom Atheism

Austin Cline at atheism.about.com wrote two articles titled: You Might Be an Uncle Tom Atheist If… and Avoiding Uncle Tom Atheism.

I was going to provide my take on these articles but others have already beaten me to it. VJack at Atheist Revolution asks Who’s a Real Atheist? and is already creating some interesting debate.

Personally I think Austin has some good points, even if some of his terminology and analogies are a bit off the mark.

6 Comments

Filed under atheism, atheist, beliefs, christianity, religion