'Atheism' - Science and Philosophy of God's Nonexistence




The existence of a God has often been widely debated. As a nonbeliever of any Supreme Being or creator God, I will attempt to bring the scientific evidence against the possibility of a God or transcendental form of consciousness beyond the limits of neurological processes. Do note that this post is only a brief summary.

Philosophy

Before I begin discussing about the various evidences for the nonexistence of God, I will first discuss about the fundamental philosophy regarding the debate. First of all, the existence or nonexistence of a God cannot be proven. If a God does not exist, then obviously its nonexistence can never be proven. As an analogy, if I say that there is a Chinese teapot orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars (Russel's teapot), can anyone disprove me? Of course not. Likewise, no one can prove if it exists. Of course, we know that it does not exist because nothing proves its existence. On the other hand, if a God exists, we can never prove it unless the God decides to show itself to the world. Despite this impossibility of proving or disproving God, it is still possible to provide evidence for and against each side to add to the argument. Like the Chinese teapot analogy, an absence of empirical observation would mean that its nonexistence would be accepted unless proved otherwise.

However, the important thing to note at this juncture is that the debate revolves around evidence that shows how probable or improbable God’s existence is. It is in this post that I will give evidence for the latter in the form of scientific evidence and logical reasoning.

Part 1: The Origin of the Universe

One of the most important arguments put up by theists is the concept of the first mover, or primum movens. The idea is based on the axiom of causality which would logically indicate that a set of causes for the universe’s existence would extend to infinity, which is impossible. In order to solve the problem, theists would invoke the idea of a God. This idea is augmented by the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy in a closed system can never be created nor destroyed.


However, an important philosophical argument would render this concept false. Since the laws of physics, as well as the axiom of causality, was created at the time of the big bang, it is perfectly possible for energy to be created out of nothing and spontaneous creation to take place without the need for physical laws to be fulfilled. It is the nonexistence of causality and physical laws before the big bang that permits spontaneous creation to occur. Presently, it is thought that a hyperspace exists to allow such spontaneous creation of an infinite number of Universes. I will discuss this in more detail later on.

Part 2: The complexity of the Universe

For most people, space is simply the black sky that hovers over their heads every night. In the past century, however, the magnificence of our universe has started to reveal itself to science. To put things into perspective, the observable universe is calculated to be 93 billion light years across (one light year is equivalent to 9.46 trillion kilometres), with the Earth being at the centre (since the calculation of the horizon is based on Earth’s perspective). In the observable universe, there are approximately 8 quintillion stars, with the sun being just one of many. I derived this number from the calculation of the number of galaxies observed by the Hubble ultra deep field, multiplying that value to the area of the night sky, and multiplying that number to the number of stars in one galaxy. This is a staggering number indeed, and it shows that Earth, being only a tiny speck of dust in the great cosmic depths, is not as special as it was once thought to be.

The universe has a beautiful set of physical laws in terms of mathematical aesthetics. Equations are always symmetrical in terms of the values on both sides, the golden ratio is found naturally in organic life, and the precise arbitrary constants of the standard model allow the existence of stable matter for life to exist. I have realised that many theists enjoy using the complexity of the universe as evidence for intelligent design. Of course, all becomes clear when the anthropic principle is understood.

First of all, the laws of the universe are undoubtedly perfect for life to form. Should the mass of the proton change by a tiny fraction, stable matter would not exist. The Earth has a perfect atmosphere and temperature for life to evolve, and the laws of physics and chemistry drives evolution in a positive direction. However, this apparent coincidence is actually based on a sort of observation-selection bias. If the conditions of the universe (and Earth) were not perfect, there is absolutely no way that life could exist. If life did not exist, we wouldn’t even be here to ponder about our existence. In today, modern physics has begun to unravel a world that is much stranger than we thought. Most scientists now believe that there is more than just the three dimensions we know today. In total, eleven dimensions are thought to exist, with only the limits of sensory perception limited to the familiar three causing the illusion that higher dimensions do not exist. With this, it is also thought that an infinite number of parallel universes exist alongside ours; each with a different set of physical laws that determine how the universe works. Using the anthropic principle, we would then realise that only habitable universes can contain life. Since life is indeed formed upon rare chance, we would assume most universes to be devoid of life, or even stars. Likewise, it is only through habitable conditions of Earth that life could exist here.

Another argument related to the anthropic principle on a planetary scale is the low probability of abiogenesis. According to creationist statistics, the probability of a protein molecule forming by itself is less than that of a hurricane sweeping through a metal scrap yard and assembling a working Boeing 747 (Hoyle’s fallacy). However, when we look at the staggering number of stars in the universe, it is obvious that this probability is overcome easily. Furthermore, the 15 billion-year old universe would have provided sufficient time for this to occur. Most importantly, however, the autosynthesis of liposomes and microspheres (membrane-bound RNA, believed to the earliest form of life on Earth) has been performed in the laboratory. This shows that the probability calculated by the creationists is not accurate in the first place.

Another argument that is often put up by theists is the apparent beauty of nature. To them, the grandeur of the sunset and breathtaking views of Earth from atop a mountain is due to the work of intelligent design. However, what they fail to take into account is the fact that our brains are adapted to the Earth and universe that we inhabit after four billion years of constant evolution. As an analogy, us humans would often feel repulsed at the sight of a female cockroach. To a male cockroach, however, the structure of a female cockroach is perfectly and beautifully designed. This was a requirement for reproduction and their survival as a species. The most important thing about this analogy, however, is that it shows how beauty is only the result of adapted psychology. This means that the mathematical and aesthetic beauty of the universe is the byproduct of evolution and not a creator. This brings me to my next point on evolution.

Part 3: Evolution

The theory of evolution is often one of the most widely-debated topics as it directly challenges the claims made by the Christian genesis. Although evolution is described as a ‘theory’, it has as much doubt in biology as quantum physics had in physics. This is important to note as many creationists argue that evolution is ‘only a theory’. By their definition, atomic theory and the theory of relativity would be only theories. As an analogy of scientific theories and facts, the constant rising of the sun in the East everyday is now established as a fact since all observational evidence proves it. If, however, the sun rises in the West one day, the theory would be proved wrong. The same goes for evolution: to date, all scientific data supports it. However, it is very susceptible to being disproven because a single evidence against it would render it untrue. In fact, the theory is supported by a massive amount of evidence which I will now put forward. At the same time, I will also clarify some of the misconceptions about evolution based on the people who argue against it.

First of all, what exactly is evolution? Evolution is actually the process whereby small changes in the form of genetic mutation occur along every generation that produces a substantial shift in genetic composition of an organism from its distant ancestors and is naturally selected due to its chances of survival. Evolution is a gradual process that occurs in every generation. While the genetic composition of the offspring is almost genetically identical to that of the parents, small changes in genes over hundreds or thousands of generations would eventually cause a significant change in the observed characteristics that differentiate the descendent species from the ancestral species. Traits that are beneficial for an organism’s survival is selected preferentially due to the fact that organisms with beneficial traits would survive better and hence be able to reproduce. Over time, constant sexual reproduction would cause beneficial genes to be spread across the entire population of a species, causing a shift in the genetic composition.

It is important to note that all organisms are transitional species between two others. Due to the fact that evolution is a gradual process, transitional fossils exist to show the smooth transition of one species to the next. In the case of humans, the chimpanzee-like australopithecines evolved to species with the genus homo, such as Homo erectus and Homo habilis right up to homo sapiens as shown by fossil evidence. Although many creationists maintain that evolution is false because humans evolved from monkeys, it is important to note that modern species do not evolve from modern species. Rather, humans and monkeys share a common ape-like ancestor. In fact, all organisms share a common ancestor with one another. The only difference is, the greater the difference in genetic composition, the more distant that common ancestor is.

Another important evidence for evolution, besides the transitional fossils, is the experimental observations of evolution occurring in the laboratory. Known as the Escherichia Coli Long term evolution experiment, twelve containers of the bacteria are allowed to grow in a nutrient broth of glucose and citric acid. Due to the rapid rate of reproduction, a small sample of the bacteria would be extracted from each container daily and allowed to reproduce to the original amount on the next day. The rest of the bacteria would be frozen for observational analysis. The experiment has been going on for over twenty years, and has recently reached the 50,000th generation early this year. The significance of this experiment is that the results showed ongoing evolution in all of the different containers. The bacteria in each different container would take a different evolutionary path due to random mutations. The results were indeed stunning. At first, the original bacteria sample could only thrive on glucose as the source of food. However, one sample suddenly managed to evolve and utilise the citric acid mixed with the glucose in the nutrient broth, resulting in a sudden surge in bacteria count for that particular flask. This shows that ongoing evolution can and has been observed, and the fact that it is done based on empirical methods would mean that evolution can be directly verified.

Intelligent design, besides having only a few arguments, has much evidence to disprove it. In human males, the vas deferens (the tube carrying semen from the testes) loops over the ureter before making its way down to the penis. This is unintelligent design as the looping of the vas deferens requires the wasting and channelling of more resources to the building of the extended tube. From an ecological perspective, this is a detriment to the survival of the organism as the resources used could be channelled to other areas that would have otherwise improved other aspects of survival. From an evolutionary point of view, however, all becomes clear. In our ancestors, the scrotum was located above the bladder. After millions of years of evolution, the location of the scrotum ‘moved’ downwards to its present position due to the benefits of having it exposed to the ambient air which is of a lower temperature. During this process, the vas deferens would have to loop over the ureter by that path.

Another evidence of unintelligent design is from the ecological perspective of a forest. In forests, and especially in tropical rainforests, trees compete for sunlight by growing taller than the other trees. Although resources are wasted to increase the tree’s height, the benefits of gaining more sunlight for photosynthesis outweighs the extra resources used. From the perspective of a single tree, this is a requirement for competition. From the perspective of the entire forest, however, large amounts of resources are wasted: if all the trees did not compete with one another, the resultant intensity of sunlight falling on the surface of the trees would still be the same. As an analogy, spectators from a concert might start to stand to get a better view of the performance. However, since their act of standing up would block the view of the people behind that person, the people sitting behind would thus stand up to prevent the person from blocking their view. Over time, everyone would be standing up and the result would still be the same. From an evolutionary point of view, the wastage of resources is due to the fact that evolution occurs on an individual basis and not as a whole.

Part 4: Morality

Many theists disregard the study of science as they think that it is the work of a devil. This is an extremely closed-minded thought. Good and evil do not exist: They are concepts created by us humans. Good usually refers to morally upright acts, or acts that seem ethical. There is no clear distinction between good and evil, as changing circumstances would change what defines both. Furthermore, behaviour is the result of both our psychology (i.e. greed, sex drive), and the living environment (e.g. bad childhood). All people are created with a somewhat similar psychology (with slight variation as a result of genetic mutation), but different living environment. Personality is determined by experiences and not the existence of a soul.

Yet, why do we stand up against injustice? The answer does not lie in a god, but with evolution once again. By feeling pity for another member of the same species, we are increasing our chances of survival. Of course, you might argue that animal-lovers are common and this would contradict evolution. However, evolution does have an explanation for it. It is known as reciprocal altruism (you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours). Reciprocal altruism refers to the apparent non-selfish act involving first helping another organism at the expense of one’s own survival. This is evident in symbiotic relationships between species. Within a single species, each organism has ideal behavioural characteristics that lie somewhere in between all-greedy and all-giving. This ensures that while an organism would aid and cooperate with other members of the species, a form of selfishness must exist to ensure the survival of itself.

Evolution cares nothing for the comfort of any organism. The many wasps sting an insect prey as a host for reproduction. By strategically stinging the ganglia of the host prey, the prey would be paralysed, thereby enabling the wasp to inject its eggs into the body of the insect. Throughout this process, the host insect is kept alive, only paralysed. The larvae hatched from the eggs would then move on to devour the meat of the host insect while it is still alive. This is indeed a traumatising death for the host insect. Yet, this is important for the survival of the wasp as it ensures that the meat is kept fresh. This is a fact of evolution, and nature does not care whether the host insect suffers a traumatising death. Justice often fails to be done. That is a fact of life that has to be accepted. Morality is merely an illusion created by reciprocal altruism. Does this mean that the theory of evolution would cause chaos in society? Perhaps it will. Theists often use this argument that by accepting Darwinism into society, injustice would pervade. This argument is also known as argumentum ad consequentiam. However, our preferences do not decide how nature works. Whether we like it or not, evolution is still true. Per contra, even if Darwinism is accepted by the scientific community, it does not mean that society would function based on its principle. This, however, is beyond the scope of this post.

Part 5: Are humans the only species to qualify the entry to heaven?

This is perhaps one of the most direct evidence against the existence of a God. Many religions assume that only humans would go to heaven. However, fossil evidence shows that there is no clear distinction between humans and apes. Transitional fossils exist with a smooth transition until the human species. If this is the case, how do we define what a human is? Humans are continually evolving, and because the process is so gradual there each successive generation can be considered genetically identical from the previous one. Yet, there exists a slight change in DNA from one generation to the other. This amounts to large scale changes over millions of years. This also means, however, that there is a loss of clear definition of a human, and thus who goes to heaven. The idea of hell is also based on a fallacy. How do we define good and bad? There is no common consensus that clearly defines the two.

Even if all creatures go to heaven, how do you differentiate conscious life from non-conscious life? You might say that this lies in the presence of a brain. However, there is also no clear distinction between what is considered as a brain. For one, some organisms contain a centralised and complex network of nervous tissue but lack what we would consider as a brain. Like I mentioned previously, evolution is a gradual process and no clear distinctions can be made. If a conscious organism is but a smooth transition from an unconscious one (as proven in fossil record), how do we define what can transcend physical death? It is unlikely that a benevolent and omnipotent God would favour a certain group of organisms over another.

Even assuming that all creatures, both conscious and unconscious, would transcend death and go to heaven (or hell), how do we define life and non-life? Viruses show characteristics of both, and the first organisms were just a clump of membrane-bounded RNA. From all the evidence above, it is thus obvious to note that it is unlikely that a God could exist. The absence of any clear distinction between all forms of life, as well as life and non-life, would indicate that it is impossible for any afterlife to exist.

Part 6: The Paranormal

Paranormal activities in the form of haunting by entities returning from the afterlife have been reported in most, if not all cultures across the globe. These cultures exist independently from one another. It is possible, however, that the idea of the supernatural has existed in the very first humans who originated in Africa. For the benefit of the doubt, however, I will assume that the ideas of ghosts were created independently from the different cultures.

If the idea of supernatural forces influencing human lives were created independently across the world, does this mean that ghosts really do exist? The answer is a vehement ‘no’. Reports of paranormal activities are more likely to be the side effect of an evolutionary byproduct. First of all, our natural curiosity towards the universe (which has benefited us by enabling us to develop technology that started in primitive humans) results in a tendency to attribute unknown gaps in information to an unknown force. For example, our distant ancestors believed that fire was the result of a God and required the adding of firewood as a way to appease it and continue producing fire. This characteristic of the human mind has far-reaching consequences that resulted in many theists arguing about gaps in science through an argument from ignorance, or argumentum ad ignoratiam.

The second cause of supernatural beliefs is the result of the psychological need to believe in the continuation of consciousness beyond death. When organisms evolved from non-conscious life to conscious life, the need for survival is transferred from a physical level to a psychological level. This results in us not being able to perceive a time when conscious activity ceases. As a result, we would tend to think that some sort of continuation of one’s self and mind would transcend beyond physical death, resulting in a belief that dead ancestors would manifest in a ghost-like entity capable of returning from the dead.

Most paranormal encounters are the result of psychological activities that stem from psychological inadequacies prevalent in all humans, such as paraedolia, or the natural tendency to look for patterns. Hallucinations are also a common cause, and are often augmented by one’s belief system. Experiments in virtual reality have proven that whenever a person enters a place believed by that person to be haunted, he or she would observe entities or objects that are not really there. This effect can be increased by the addition of electromagnetic fields and infrasound.

Reports of paranormal activity observed by more than one person simultaneously cannot be attributed to psychological effects. However, they too, can be explained by physical effects not quite understood. Human emotions are extremely powerful energies that can leave a signature at a certain location. This is often the cause of residual haunting. Although the neurological model of consciousness and emotions is not yet completely understood, biochemical reactions occurring as a result of powerful emotions such as a traumatic death might release vast amounts of energy, possibly electromagnetic in nature. If the energy is powerful enough, local conditions such as the presence of material in soil that can be easily magnetised might act as some sort of natural recorder. This energy can be replayed continuously for centuries when the electromagnetic fields interact with the brain of the visitor. Note, however, that this is only a theory and that a diverse range of scientific phenomena can account for this. The growing field of Quantum mechanics might also provide another explanation for such paranormal activity.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the existence of a God is highly unlikely. Given all the scientific evidence, rational thinkers would easily assume that the existence of a God is highly improbable. While there is still the possibility that a God exists, our current understanding of the universe shows that it is highly unlikely that there is such a possibility. For one, a God is not required for all that we see today, and closer observation of life and the universe indicates that God does not exist.



'TIME goes by...' '


Most of us have been taught to stay away from discussing politics and religion so as not to disturb the dinner guests. Well, as most of you know, I’ve been covering politics for so long I can barely discuss anything else.

And the freedom TGB gives me in writing these little essays compels me to confess that I do not recall when it was that I came out of the closet. That’s when I acknowledged that I’m an atheist, that I do not believe there is a God.

In fact, I don’t know why I capitalized the “G.” Although it may be blasphemous, I have had a bumper sticker that says, “I believe in Dog.” That’s because I have a love affair with my two Corgies and I generally have a higher regard for animals than many of the humans I’ve covered in high positions. I have wondered if the Bibles got it wrong and meant to spell it “Dog.”

Seriously, coming out of the closet happened slowly. At first I suppose I was an agnostic, telling myself and others that there may be a higher power, that I could not define, for all things alive have in common a compulsion to live, survive and grow.

Where does that come from? I didn’t know. I studied philosophy in university and read Aquinas’ proofs for the existence of god and understood Aristotle’s idea of the “prime” or “unmoved mover.”

I did not know whether or not I believed in the god that hung around guiding our lives. But I could not bring myself to believe in a personal being who played magic tricks like George Burns. If man was made in his image, what must he look like? Or she?

I am told by friends that something or some one must have caused the “big bang” and that somebody or some thing or power had to be there to start things off in evolution. But I can’t even imagine that possibility. Some giant hand cranking the universe into motion?

I remember arguing in a philosophy class that if the universe was infinite, why did it have to have a beginning? I did not know, and neither does anyone else. But that was an agnostic copout. Now I know. As Stephen Hawking now asserts, if there was a beginning, there is an explanation that did not need a god.

But isn’t the spirituality that we all feel evidence of god? Experiencing the sublime is spiritual, but it’s no proof of a god. All of us have experienced spiritual moments when we wonder what moves us to think, probe and overcome. Music moves me. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is spiritual and beautiful. Beethoven’s Ode to Joy can make me cry.

All men are brothers came from the Judaic concept that there is but one god. I am a Jew who takes pride in that heritage. But I cannot believe that god, looking like Charlton Heston’s Moses, exists.

It is true that there is some sort of order in our universe; we can predict the movements in the solar system. But there is also chaos (see Haiti). Our bodies, the results of millions of years of evolution, are indeed wondrous, but they tend to get sick and even die from little bugs and terrible afflictions.

The believers’ god works in strange and mysterious ways, but what sort of omnipotent, omniscient god tolerates a child with terminal leukemia or the holocaust of six million “chosen people” or the genocides in Bosnia and the Congo and the Sudan?

Believers praise god for sparing them from the tornado’s wrath (as if the tornado was anthropomorphic), but do they blame god for the deaths of those who were not spared?

But I have digressed. I have been comforted in coming out as an atheist by the September 28 Pew Research Center’s survey of religious knowledge in the U.S. It turns out that atheists or agnostics scored highest on a test consisting of questions about various religions. I should note here that 95 percent of Americans believe in god; just five percent of us are nonbelievers.

Jews and Mormons came in a close second or third. Indeed, the most observant or fundamentalist among us tended to know the least.

Half the respondents did not know that Martin Luther inspired the Protestant reformation or that the Golden Rule (“Do unto others...”) is not one of the Ten Commandments. Atheists/agnostics knew most about religion, the survey concluded, because they tend to have more education.

I would add that atheists are unencumbered by dogma. Atheists generally are more free to think of things that no one had thought of.

Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin and Einstein broke free from god and religion and some suffered for it. Only recently has the Catholic Church recognized that the earth revolves around the sun; and Judaism forgave the philosopher Spinoza, who was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam because he believed that god was everywhere in nature; indeed god was nature and vice versa.

I should point out here that I draw a distinction – a sharp one at that – between those who worship and hope there is a god, and organized religion. That’s because the average believer in god stands in awe of the possibility there is a supreme being that he or she cannot know or fathom. But most organized religions have the temerity to define, limit and tell us what god thinks, and which country he/she will bless in war.

Organized religions, on a personal level, use books written eons ago by uneducated (by our standards), mostly superstitious and primitive minds to tell us how to behave. And as we know, some people believe these are literal truths.

I can’t quarrel with the Ten Commandments, but they are honored in the breach - that is, they are broken so often by god-fearing men and women, they are not to be taken seriously.

If they were truly observed as the bibles and koran admonish, The New York Times' Nicholas Kristoff told us in his own test of religious knowledge that the Old Testament stipulates that a girl who does not bleed on her wedding night should be stoned to death. Kristoff notes that Jesus made no comment on homosexuality, but the Old Testament says, “if a man also lies with mankind as he lieth with a woman” both shall be put to death.

All this is silly and outdated for most of us, even those who believe in god. But about 20-25 percent who are fundamentalist Christians and ultra-orthodox Jews and Muslims believe their scriptures are literally true and the word of god. But, alas, they also believe literally that non-believers are infidels and therefore a threat. And if there is no wall of separation between the religion and the state, then a threat against the religion becomes a threat against the state.

When I visited Israel as a journalist with U.S. secretaries of state who were there for the first time, Israeli officials took us on a tour of Yad Vashem, the somber and heart-wrenching memorial to the holocaust that cost the lives of six million Jews, not to mention Gypsies, Russians, Poles and anti-Nazi Germans.

In Damascus, we were taken to the Mosque where Saladin is buried and there we learned that the crusaders who came from England were not the heroes of Christendom who we studied in school or saw in romantic movies, but bloodthirsty rapists and conquerors wielding the cross as a reason to slaughter Muslims and Jews.

Saladin, a moderate and even chivalrous ruler who treated his captives well, at last defeated the Third Crusade in the 12th century. But the memory of the crusades among Muslims lingers and has been seen in the reaction to American aggression in the Middle East.

Indeed, as I think on it, much of my reporting has been about religious-based conflicts:

Between Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan

The semi-secular state of Afghanistan and the Taliban, which would resurrect the 10th century

The Shiites of Iran and the Sunnis of Iraq

Israel and its Muslim neighbors, some of them secular like the Palestinians, some deeply religious like Hamas

The Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland

The Serbian war against Bosnia pitted Catholics against Muslims

Hitler was Catholic, raised in an anti-Semitic environment

Stalin was raised in the Russian Orthodox tradition and he attended seminary, from which he was expelled, in backward Georgia.

It seems the more devout the religion, the more violent its actions against its perceived enemies. Kristoff points out that using suicide vests and women for terror bombings began not with the Jihadists, but with the Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka.

I think it can be said that more people have been killed or subjugated in the name of an organized religion than in the name of atheism.

When the state religion or church has been attacked, the motives of the opposition were generally political as when Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth replaced the Catholic Church with the Church of England, and when the Bolsheviks, who overthrew the Czar and all but outlawed the Russian Orthodox Church that supported the monarchy.

Similarly, the reactionary and corrupt Catholic Church in Latin America became a target of revolutionaries. Wasn’t the attack on the World Trade Center and the deaths of thousands a religion-based initiative?

I do not believe, however, that any nation has gone to war or committed atrocities in the name of atheism.

Yet even now, in this country, the legal wall of separation between church and state is hacked at by religionists who hold atheism almost a crime. We are told by the rabid right that liberals and other nonbelievers are trying to kill Christmas, as if the merchandisers have no responsibility.

These Christian fundamentalists, the American Taliban, would figuratively stone the homosexual or the kill the doctor who performs abortions. One Pew poll in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution and that included prominent Republicans running for president two years ago.

These fundamentalists, according to the poll, deny the science that tells us the earth is millions of years old. In lockstep with the Republican Party, they deny climate change and man’s role in global warming. I suppose god has decided to kill the polar bears.

So it was a comfort to see that I had admirable company when I came out as an atheist: Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Dawkins, Katharine Hepburn, Warren Buffett, Salman Rushdie, Diane Keaton, Bill Gates, Gene Roddenberry, among dozens of celebrities whom you can find at Celebrity Atheist List.

Finally, there are many quotes from prominent writers artists and statesmen proclaiming their atheism, but my favorite came recently from the great novelist Philip Roth during an interview on CBS’s Sunday Morning. Roth, who grew up in New Jersey, said, “I don’t have a religious bone in my body.”

“So do you feel like there’s a god out there?” he was asked.

“I’m afraid there isn’t, no...When the whole world doesn’t believe in god, it’ll be a great place.”


As posted on bit.ly/tgb2710100531 by Ronny Binnet
'Pastor Terry Jones' is our latest hero for atheism.. '



Thank you Pastor Terry for advancing our cause. My occasional series, Heroes of Atheism, last time featured a Jew who resorts to extreme action to prevent innocents going abroad ''inappropriately'' on the Sabbath and Muslims who stone adulterers to death.

It’s time now to turn to the third of the Abrahamic trio, our Christian brethren. Pastor Terry is the Koran (almost) burning, gay vilifying, gobbledygook spouting minister from the Dove World Outreach Centre in the town of Gainsville, Florida, in the US. Despite its global name, his Pentecostal church has a rumoured congregation of about 50. He and his church suffer from the usual array of vices of these kinds of churches. There are allegations of personality cult, fines for false claims to be doctor of theology, tussles with the tax office and allegations of dodgy finances. His flock is numerically irrelevant. His antics essentially rely on putting obnoxious statements on a sign outside his church and letting the world’s media, myself now included, promote his profile around the world free of charge. Perhaps we are the real mugs in the Pastor Terry story. He should be just some anonymous freak with ugly views but he’s been anointed by the world media and is basking in the attention.

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When the people of Gainsville elected a gay mayor, he erected a sign proclaiming, ''No Homo Mayors''. Pastor Terry is very active on the issue of homosexuality and he relies on Leviticus for this stance. Now Leviticus, the third book of the bible, is notorious for its appalling rules and prohibitions. Having just re-read it, Leviticus is just bizarre murderous drivel. I will blog on Leviticus another time for it is truly a friend of atheism. Homosexuals must be put to death according to God (Leviticus, 20:13). But then a little later, having a haircut, having sex during a woman’s period, inter-breeding your cattle or sowing the seeds of two plants in one field are all sinful. So start collecting the stones, hang around any farm or barber's shop for a good old stoning I say. I’m sorry, I digress.

The point is that Pastor Terry relies on the most ridiculous book in all of the literature of faith to damn gays and does so in offensive ways.

However, there is an important group called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU for short). AU has pointed out that a tax-deduction status has a precondition of no political use of funds. So Pastor Terry cut off the word ''Mayors'' and so it now reads merely ''No Homos''. The man is an inspiration of innovation. If you want to hear an illuminating and indeed excruciating BBC interview with Pastor Terry click here.

And now we come to his Koran burning proposal. You will know that this idea, designed to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11, was roundly condemned and ultimately he drew back from the brink.

Pastor Terry seems to be quite phobic about Islam. He has written a book about his detestation of Islam - Islam is of the Devil. He has repeatedly spouted about the 10 reasons to burn the Koran and nominated September 11 as ''International Burn a Koran Day''. Pressure from within America led to his back down but his reversal must have been informed by the certain knowledge that other haters would step up to the breach. For hate begets hate and a flotilla of Koran burners left port on 9/11. The Koran was desecrated less publicly from Washington to Wyoming by fringe self-appointed ministers.

Well what is to be made of this opportunistic and reckless chancer? What does the Pastor Terry phenomenon tell us? Quite clearly, Pastor Terry has desecrated more than the Koran for he has desecrated the name of faith. His shonky church, his detestation of the other, be they Muslims or gays or Jews (for he is not a fan) pregnancy termination clinics (completely legal in my enlightened state of Victoria) and the financial allegations of his personality cult all fit the paradigm of the worst that faith has to offer the world.

This of course leads us to the eternal quandary, is Pastor Terry the tip of the iceberg or an irrelevant freak? Is he emblematic of the awfulness of belief or a peripheral straw man? Whatever, he is unintentionally a worthy foot soldier for atheism and I salute him accordingly. A grateful atheist hails this man who tars all people of faith with his misanthropic brush.

But there are other issues that Pastor Terry raises. First of all, why should atheists care if the various types of faith engage in warring banjos? Why would the godless care if a pastor in one faith (that we don’t believe in) insults another faith (that we also don’t believe in)? The critical word in that sentence is ''insults''. We should deplore any insult, even in the internecine wars of faith. The crusading movement is now almost a thousand years old. It has been revived in the past couple of decades and even if unbelievers don’t care for the underlying beliefs, any ratcheting up of the conflict is appalling for it adds to a millennium of killing.

The second issue is the serendipity of fate. Why did Pastor Terry achieve world infamy when there is a whole world of religious nutcases to vilify? It is something I continue to ponder in wonder. I have strived for such infamy my whole life and yet the gods of worldwide controversy have ignored me. What is his secret? It is luck or karma? I don’t believe in the latter so it has to be the former.

The final issue is this. The only question on which Pastor shows any coherence on is the issue of Islamic sensitivity. He quite correctly argues that Bibles and secular symbols such as flags are desecrated daily by Muslims. I deplore this. I deplore actions such as the artwork ''Piss Christ'', which mixed urine and an image of the crucifixion, understandably outraging Christians.

Pastor Terry marvels that while flags and Bibles are destroyed daily in Islamic countries, why couldn’t he do the same without attracting such bile and rancour. Indeed there is some sense that we are rewarding the inappropriate behaviour of a faith that appears eternally vengeful through its various fatwas, murders and desecrations by the Muslim equivalents of Pastor Terry. There is a tiny bit of truth to this but generally we must condemn those who trade in the currency of insults and hatred. And for this, Pastor Terry is embraced by a grateful atheist as a hero of the godless. Congratulations Pastor Terry, you are truly atheism’s latest hero.
'Witchcraft' case gets instant attention of astrologers, palmists.. '

Wednesday September 22 2010
By NOUMAN KHALIL


An alleged witchcraft practitioner, who claimed to have the ability to change people's future with 'black magic,' is now seeking God's help in police custody.
Forty-four-year-old Yogendra Pathak of Brampton was last week arrested for fraud and pretending to practice witchcraft after police received at least one complaint of cheating and defrauding a family.

"He was offering to practice 'magic' in solving people's problems and was charging money for that," Peel Regional Police's Sgt Zahir Shah told Focus.

At his residence situated at 23 Richgrove Drive (Castlemore Rd&Goreway Dr) in Brampton, Pathak was offering to solve, with guarantee, a range of problems such as disputes or barriers in marriages, love affairs and several health related issues by healing a person spiritually.

In his public advertisements, the suspect described himself as a renowned Kenyan astrologist, palmist, gifted psychic and spiritual healer.

He also claimed to have the ability to clear any barriers in issues such as immigration, unemployment, financial problems as well as helping students in academic careers and examinations.

The case is being watched closely by some who fear any fallout could inevitably impact them.

Pandit Prithipal, another well-known service provider in the GTA, said roughly 200-300 people are currently practicing astrology to help clients in different ways.

Apart from South Asians, communities from the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and elsewhere also offer parallel services.

Sgt Shah agreed there are other people who are also offering the same kind of services, but said: "We cannot act unless we have a complaint."

A matter of 'chemical imbalance'

Prithipal said he has been practising for more than 30 years but not a single person complained or got upset with him.

About others, Prithipal said: "I don't know which one of them is genuine or fraudâ?¦ these numbers are huge, but I can tell you about myself that I offer services of advising in good faith as how to heal from a 'chemical imbalance.'"

He said that actually clients suffer from 'chemical imbalance' due to which they feel sick and disturbed. "This 'chemical imbalance' can be fixed through eating healthy foods like colourful vegetablesâ?¦ and that's what I advise," said Prithipal.

Police believe Pathak has been offering these services for well over a year and are trying to determine how many people may have been victimized due to the suspect's alleged actions.

He has been charged with one count of fraud under $5,000 and one count of pretending to practice witchcraft and will be making a court appearance Oct 7.

Anyone who may have been victimized by the suspect, or who may have information pertaining to this investigation, is asked to contact the 21 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau at 905-453-2121, ext 2133 or Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Australia’s New Prime Minister is an ATHEIST!

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Congratulations Australia!

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.

In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.

Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.

She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.

“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.

“I am what I am and people will judge that.

“For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine.”

“I grew up in the Christian church, a Christian background. I won prizes for catechism, for being able to remember Bible verses. I am steeped in that tradition, but I’ve made decisions in my adult life about my own views.

“I’m worried about the national interest. About doing the right thing by Australians. And I’ll allow people to form their own views about whatever is going to drive their views.

“What I can say to Australians broadly of course is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives.”


Comedy writer Ariane Sherine, (L) Professor Richard Dawkins (C) and Guardian writer Polly Toynbee (R) pose for pictures beside a London bus displaying an advertising campaign with the words: 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," in London, on January 6, 2009. Ariane Sherine objected to the Christian adverts on some London buses, which carried an Internet address warning that people who rejected God were condemned to spend eternity in "torment in hell". She sought five-pound (7.80-dollar, 6.25-euro) donations towards a "reassuring" counter-advertisement -- and received the backing of the British Humanist Association (BHA) and atheist campaigner Professor Richard Dawkins. 800 buses around Britain will carry the slogans as well as posters on the underground system in London.
Obama is Atheist, Not Muslim

Nearly one in five Americans think President Obama is a Muslim, according to a recent poll -- but conservative commentator Ann Coulter says instead that he is an atheist.

"The nonsense about President Obama being a Muslim has got to stop," Coulter wrote on the conservative website TownHall.com. "I rise to defend him from this absurd accusation by pointing out that he is obviously an atheist."

Coulter, known for her brash, often humor-tinged commentary, wrote that the "only evidence for Obama's Christianity is that he faithfully attended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years."

While 20 years of attendance at a church may seem like good evidence, Coulter ruthlessly slams Wright, reducing his sermons to "hate-filled demagoguery."

Coulter makes the case that questioning a public person's religion should not be out of bounds, pointing to Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, televangelists who were disgraced in a series of sex and money scandals, as examples of people practicing false Christianity.

"No sentient human is required to take Obama's profession of Christianity any more seriously than if it were coming from a 1980s blow-dried, money-grubbing televangelist with a mistress on the side," she wrote.

After making her case about the president, Coulter declares, "All liberals are atheists... There's only one true Christian liberal in the country and that's Mike Huckabee."
CAUTION

Caution: The following topics are taken from BIBLE!! If you are Under the age of 21, you may be offended by strong sexual matters, or things Violent in nature, please refrain from continuing to read this post.


This article includes:
Abortion, Bestiality, Cannibalism, Child Abuse, Family BreakUp, Homosexuality, Incest, Prostitution, e.t.c. crimes which are condemned.

Abortion:

Exodus 21:22
"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. "

"Departing of fruit" imply miscarriage.

Number 31:17
"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him."

"Knowing man by lying with him" implies losing virginity or deflowering, and also pregnant women.
In the passage Moses says kill all the deflowered women, and all the male children, in a order so that Nobody is left to take revenge for the murder of their mothers.
And only male children so that Girl children are left for the so called "Men of God" and Moses himself.

Adultery:

Leviticus 20:10
"And the man that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."

2nd Samuel 11:2-4
"And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon."

"And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"

"And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house."

What do you think about David?
Corrupt Politicians of Today do just the same. They make Laws, Break Laws,
They do what they want. David didn't follow Bible...
How can we expect the politicians to follow laws of their country..

Cannibalism:

2nd Kings 6:28-29
"And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow."

"So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son."

How disgusting. So mythical cannibals followed BIBLE and got the idea to taste human flesh...
How cruel their heart might be, that they boiled a small boy alive, AND ATE HIM!!

I now feel sorry about the mother who complains, that she gave the other woman to eat her child but got nothing in return!!
Genesis 5

1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

3And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:

4And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

5And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

6And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:

7And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:

8And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.


9And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:

10And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:

11And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.

12And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel:

13And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:

14And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.

15And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:

16And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:

17And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.

18And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:

19And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

20And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.

21And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:

22And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

23And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:

24And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

25And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech.

26And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:

27And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

28And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:

29And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.

30And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:

31And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.


32And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


There we have it a list of people living to apparently incredible ages and being sexually active well past their sell by date. This is as far as we know completely unheard of, one of the things creationists use to support their fallacy. Including the 6,000 year age of earth. So is it true ? The Answer quite simply a big NO!!
Why?
Well it seems that the ancient people needed to exaggerate the ages of their ancestors. Perhaps some thing to do with your position in society, take a look at the Sumerian King list.

The surviving clay tablet was dated by the scribe who wrote it in the reign of King Utukhegal of Erech (Uruk), which places it around 2125 B.C.E

"After kingship had descended from heaven, Eridu became the seat of kingship. In Eridu Aululim reigned 28,800 years as king. Alalgar reigned 36,000 years. Two kings, reigned 64,800 years. Eridu was abandoned and its kingship was carried off to Bad-tabira. . . .

"Total: Five Cities, eight kings, reigned 241,200 years.

It does continue I will be looking at it again later.
There are other fragments dating much older from other copies but all copies essentially stemming back to one source.
Genesis 4

1.And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.


So Who was the father Adam or god?


2.And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.


The implication here is her children were born adults ????
So Eves Minge that god made must have looked like a hippo's yawn.


3.And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4.And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

This early "god is showing his true colours. There's Cain working his arse off, tilling, seeding, weeding and harvesting. Able lazing around watching sheep chew the cud, and who does he favour?


5.But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6.And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?


Again gods alledged omniscience conspicuous by it's abscence.


7.If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.


You can understand him being pissed off lets face it this is possibly the first example of a prejudice that is still rife today.


8.And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

I can't help thinking that the original moral of this tale was intended to try and prevent this kind of unfairness in the work environment.


9.And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
10And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11.And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
12.When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13.And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14.Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15.And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.


Wait a minute! Who is there to kill him ?


16.And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.


So now god is not omniprescient either.


17.And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.


Wife? Where are all these other people appearing from all of a sudden ?and how does one man build a city, a hamlet or maybe a very small village I can believe, but a city.!


18.And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

Just an observation but....No mention of women here.


19.And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
20.And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
21.And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
22.And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
23.And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
24.If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
25.And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.26And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

What a talented family, mastering all these diverse talents but no mention of the brewer's of beer , the vintners, coopers or potters which must have existed because the narrator of these last few verses must have been very drunk.