Friday, 21 June 2013

Religious absurdities 1

It has long been my opinion that the Abrahamic god, if he were real and as described by holy texts, would be a complete and utter douche. A malevolent, spiteful and sadistic bastard of the greatest magnitude and certainly not deserving of my (or anyone else's) praise and adoration.

For clarity, I will specify that god, by Abrahamic terms, is the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent creator of everything. Oh, and he loves us all! Lets look at these in slightly more detail;

Omnipotent: All powerful, there is literally nothing that he is incapable of doing.

Omniscient: All knowing, he knows absolutely everything, always has and always will.

Omnipresent: He is everywhere, at all times.

Creator: he, and he alone planned, designed and created absolutely everything in existence.

All loving: Pretty much an obvious one, do I really need to clarify this?

Now, keeping these characteristics in mind, why is there suffering in the world?

Believers will often argue that suffering is caused by the actions of bad men acting under their god given free will. But I find two major issues with this argument.

1) What about the suffering caused, not by men, but by natural occurrences? (I will hopefully cover this in a separate post) 

2)Why would an omniscient god purposely make people knowing they would use their free will to cause suffering?

Usually, they come back with some variant of "It's not god who causes evil, it's Satan" With which I have the following issues:

1) Why would an all knowing god knowingly create Satan? 

2) Why would an all powerful god not do something to stop Satan from causing suffering to his most beloved creations?

Which in turn is usually met with either accusations of persecution, vitriolic hatred, a poor attempt at apologetics or is just ignored completely (often with any further attempts at communication being blocked!)

Whichever way you look at it, there is some pretty obvious conclusions the Abrahamic religions what you to ignore here.

An omniscient god must, by definition, have known every thought and act of every person that ever has lived or will live even before he began to create the universe.

If that is the case then he knows, way before he makes someone, if they're going to be a murderer or rapist or child abuser or *insert evildoer of choice* (regardless of whether they do so through free will or through satanic inspiration). 

An omnipotent god must, by definition, have the power to choose whether or not to make that person.

If that is the case then every murderer, every rapist, every child abuser and every evildoer that has ever lived must have been knowingly and purposefully created by god. By anyone's standards that's one hell of a malevolent act for a god who claims to love us all!

But here's where it gets even more twisted. For each and every sinner there is the chance of redemption through repentence. Not just for those truly evil ones as described above but even for those of us who live noble and honest lives yet seem to get on his wick by not believing in him,falling in love with someone he decides is unacceptable, eating shellfish, shaving, not shaving or any of the myriad of petty little crap that he's willing to condemn his most beloved creations to eternal torture for.

As a side note, this means that god will happily allow an apologetic child abuser to share heaven with all you faithful believers, but will send an honest but unrepentant atheist to hell. Seems a bit backwards to me :/

But the darkest part of all this is that an omniscient, omnipotent god, by definition, would also know who will and who won't repent, and must have the power to decide whether or not to make them repent.
 So basically god is knowingly and purposefully creating sinners, letting some of them cause suffering throughout the earth purely so he can send them to suffer eternal agony for doing the things he created them to do and for his failure to make them be repentant!

And so, here I return to my original point;  the Abrahamic god, if he were real and as described by holy texts, would be a complete and utter douche. A malevolent, spiteful and sadistic bastard of the greatest magnitude and certainly not deserving of my (or anyone else's) praise and adoration!

My Personal Atheism

Unlike a lot of the Atheists I know, I was never a believer so I never had that experience of losing my faith that so many who were raised religious describe. 
 For some it was a gradual erosion of faith as their doubts mounted up and religion failed to provide the necessary answers, while for others it was a dramatic burst of realisation, like waking up to find they'd been living in a comfortable but unrealistic dream.

For me, it was nothing like that. I was raised in a household where religion was just not important. My Mother is probably best described as an agnostic lapsed Christian and my Father is "spiritual" in a new agey, ageing hippy kind of way, and while they were (and still are) happy to openly discuss their beliefs and views with us kids, there was never any pressure to conform and always a willingness to engage in heathy debate. Although we were baptised (though I think that was more because it was the done thing rather than any aspiriation on my parents behalf for us to be religious) and we did attend Church of England primary schools (though, again, I think this was less about religion and more about good quality education.)

So, without the pressure to conform at home, and raised in an environment where having differing views and opinions was respected as being an important part of developing yourself as an individual, I was free to make my own mind up as to whether or not these stories I heard at school had any relevance to my life. 

I think that's why I never viewed any of the modern religions as any more real than the ancient mythologies my Father would tell me about or the fairytales my Mother loved to read. They were just more stories and while, as with all stories, there may be helpful messages interspersed here and there they're also full of some of the darkest capabilities of the human mind and they just end up sounding ludicrous if you try to take them literally.

So I never really felt as if religion was something I needed, though that's not to say I never felt the need to try at various points growing up. Whether it was the feeling that I was missing out on something my friends had (not helped by my being a precocious little brat who'd happily proclaim at age 5, in class learning about the creation story, that I didn't believe in god and it was evolution and revolution that created the world we live in and thereby getting myself thoroughly ostracised by the rest of the kids who were happily lapping up the indoctrination) Or the times in my life where I was desperate for a saviour, any saviour, to protect me from my darkest experiences. I even went through a phase, around the time when I was first diagnosed with depression at 13, where I read every single religious text I could get my hands on (the benefit of being hyperlexic is that it thankfully didn't take too long, because that's a hell of a lot of drivel to dedicate too much time to, trust me!) So it's not as if I didn't try to find any gods, just that there were never any there for me to find and the effort of trying to convince myself always just left me feeling rather silly, rather like being caught dancing to music in my head (which, I'm embarrassed to admit, has been known...)

The trouble is, for me, none of it makes any sense. There's far too many inconsistencies and not enough convincing evidence for any kind of loving creator deity (I may go into some of these  inconsistencies in a later post) and if there's no loving creator deity, then what need for any kind of deity at all? And if there's no deities at all then what purpose is left for religions and all the spiel that comes along with them?

 It's all just rather pointless and redundant, really. Especially when there's far more wondrous and awe inspiring aspects of reality than we can even begin to understand within my lifetime. Personally, I'm far happier investing my time in those!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

How Not To Win An Argument

There are many ways to win arguments.
 Here's just a few of the things that don't...

1) Personal attacks
Now these can range from vulgar insults (eg: you suck donkey dong) to ad hominem fallacies (eg: as an anti-theist you dislike Islam, so do the EDL, therefore you're an overly-patriotic racist!)
 However they come, once you start attacking the proponent and not their point you've effectively lost the argument!

2) Circular reasoning 
If the only evidence you can provide for your point is part of or the source of your point, then you have effectively lost the argument!

3) Strawman fallacies 
Take the statement "I don't like inviting vegans to dinner parties"
 If you then conclude from that statement that I refuse to associate with vegans and that I am intolerant of their views then you have created a Strawman fallacy. When you start arguing against your own assumptions rather than the point being made, you have effectively lost the argument!

4) Ad populum fallacies
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't give a damn how many people agree with your point, it doesn't make it right (Do I really need to reference reality tv again to make my point?)
 If you start insisting that popularity adds weight to your point then, once again, you've effectively lost the argument!

5) Any opening statement that starts with "I'm not..." and end in "but..."
We've all heard them;
"I'm not a racist, but..."
"I'm not trying to be offensive, but..."
"I'm not suggesting I could do any better, but..."
Yes, you blatantly are, stop denying the obvious! Argument lost!

6) Wilful ignorance
If you have to sit there stuffing your fingers in your ears and singing "la la la" to ignore contrary evidence then you have effectively lost the argument.

There are just 4 vital ingredients to not losing an argument:
 •Intellectual honesty
 •Good research
 •An open mind
 •The ability to admit when your information was wrong

Keep these in mind and you'll never have to fall prey to any of the argument killers above!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

21st Century Sexism

It always amazes me that sexism is still very much prevalent in the 21st century and not only is it still prevalent but it seems to be used against both genders yet still remains largely ignored.

The image above is a perfect example of this. It's seen as perfectly normal to discuss with our daughters methods of reducing the risks of being sexually assaulted, it's even taught in schools, yet it's almost unheard of for boys to be advised on ways to reduce their risk of assault, despite us all knowing that they are just as much vulnerable to such crimes, or for what does and does not constitute as consent to be discussed with children of either gender.

You can see another example of this gender bias when you walk into almost any toy shop. The boy's aisles are dominated by Construction, Vehicles, science and weaponry often in shades of blues, reds, greens and blacks. While the girls aisles are awash with cleaning and cooking, crafts, ponies and babies all in overwhelming amounts of pink, purple and yellow (often with an unhealthy dose of floral patterns and butterflies thrown in for good measure!)

It's almost as if we're teaching our kids to see men as being simple minded workhorses who must keep a stiff upper lip throughout everything and unable to control the marauding whims of their genitals, while women should be viewed as delicate and vulnerable baby factories who would never dream of anything as complex as a career and must be kept as pure as possible for the stud who deigns to trust her with his progeny.

Yet nobody nowadays wants to live by those narrow and ridiculous stereotypes, so why are we still inflicting them upon our children? When we invest so much time and energy giving our children the confidence and support for them to be anything they want why are we allowing society to bombard them with bullshit messages telling them what they should want? 

Surely it's time to let go of our outdated, Victorian gender roles and let kids be themselves for a change?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, Gorgeous Boy!!!

To my beautiful boy on your 10th birthday,

Where do I start? It sounds rather cliched  to tell you that you will never understand how proud I am, not just today but everyday, to call you my son, but it couldn't be more true.

I can't believe ten years have passed since I held you in my arms for the first time, you were such a gorgeous baby! You were my clever little so and so from day one, supporting your own head and gazing round the room to soak up everything that was going on.

You've never lost that love of learning or your ability to absorb information like a sponge, whether it was being able to recognise all colours and shapes by 8mths (including burgandy, turquoise and dodecahedron), working out the birds and the bees from a 2inch square scientific cross section diagram at age 4 or reeling off the history of the universe in the back of a taxi aged 9! 

I've watched you grow, your first smile, your first word, your first step. Watched as you've transitioned from baby to toddler to school child to gobby little pre-teen ;) watched you face every day, good or bad, and triumph over both, never losing your love of life or fantastic sense of humour. 

 You are one amazing, intelligent, articulate, caring, insightful and handsome young man.

 You face every challenge life throws at you with the most inspirational confidence, maturity and determination, more so than any person that I've ever known. I can hardly wait to share so many more firsts with you, to watch you step into the bright and shining future I know you have ahead of you, because you really can achieve anything you put your mind too, of that I have no doubt!

Happy Birthday, Son, I hope it's everything you wish for!

Loving you, now and forever,