David Silverman Vs the Mob

In what is becoming something of a pattern, Buzzfeed goes after a leading atheist with various allegations, and people in the atheist/skeptic community are surprisingly unskeptical when it comes to certain claims. There’s a bit more meat on these bones though.

Turn the Page

Another year. So what lies ahead for atheism and skepticism?

2013 wasn’t so bad, all things considered. Religious strangleholds on the legal and political system stripped back a bit more in the West, as evidenced by increasing instances of same sex marriage in the US and UK, landmark cases against religious discrimination and yet another increase in the percentage of non-believers around the world. We have a relatively (emphasis on relatively) liberal Pope and prominent communicators for science and reason continue to annihilate the unreasonable in debates and to bring attention to the issues.

This isn’t to say there haven’t also been problems. The erosion of gay rights in places like Uganda are something that needs to be faced, as has been the creeping spread of blasphemy laws and issues with gay rights and religious criticism in Russia. While Atheismplus and Freethoughtblogs have continued their slide into obscurity we’ve seen their tactics grow more vicious, shifting into the realm of actionable accusations against relatively high profile figures in the community. This may be the death blow to their relevance in the wider skeptic community but we shouldn’t underestimate the damage it can do or the delight our ‘enemies’ take in it. We need a way to tackle the kind of emotive, short-circuit ‘arguments’ that social justice warriors use (and not just in the atheist community). ‘Islamophobe’ is damaging, however nonsensical, as are many of the other accusations and pejoratives thrown around. The danger is, though, that we get so calloused and bored of these accusations that we miss a genuine problem – something we need to watch for.

It can make one despondent, day in, day out, having to address the same problems but I think this still serves a good purpose for the sake of the peanut gallery. I also think it’s working. The coming generations are far less religious and far more secular than the older ones. We are making a difference, especially to the young, just by speaking out and just by failing to show silly ideas the respect they demand. This is going to be more and more true of African Christians and Islamic believers who seem to be encountered more and more online but haven’t encountered the same ridicule or arguments that western apologists have. Arguably its even more important in these instances to be uncompromising in criticism, simply because they don’t encounter it much.

It can seem vicious and nasty to other, more moderate people or those who still ‘believe in belief’, but then they’re rarely on the same sort of receiving end that we are. There also seems to be a weird expectation that atheism should offer some alternative to the structures and beliefs that religion does. A doctor who cures you of a disease is not expected to replace your runny nose and diarrhoea with replacement symptoms so I’m not quite sure why it’s expected of atheism. Still, so long as we can maintain atheism as its own thing (simply not believing in god) it may be useful to start examining how reason can be applied to social issues, laws, politics and the structures we need for a working civilisation.

Starting as I mean to go on then, here’s a response to an apologist’s ‘refuting atheism‘ blog, which fails to do anything of the sort.

Refuting Atheism

1. The writer argues that negatives can be proven and that, somehow, this means that the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof, when pushed to atheists, is somehow valid. They simply don’t understand the burden of proof and insist that it is something it is not. The burden of proof always rests on the positive claim, never the negative. You have to prove that something is, not why it is not. This is the way science works, this is the way our justice system works – with good reason. Repeating a fallacious argument doesn’t overcome the fallacy.

2. The writer dismisses the ‘rock so heavy he cannot lift it’ refutation of god (at least an omnipotent god). They also confuse the matter with the theory of evolution. The ‘rock so heavy’ argument works because it exposes the impossibility of omnipotence. A non-omnipotent god still remains. Of course omnipotence is absurd – just like a round square – and that’s the point that they seemingly miss. Atheism is not defined by an assertion and contains no such similar self-contradiction. The theory of evolution deals only with diversification and development of species. It is not contingent on abiogenesis and without abiogenesis it still eliminates creation accounts because the species are not spontaneously created whole – as in scripture – but develop from precursor organisms. Abiogenesis need not be referenced, even though it’s well evidenced.

3. The writer tries to turn atheism into a positive claim that ‘god does not exist’. Again, all their insistence won’t change the definition and the most encompassing definition is that of being absent belief in god. Believing god does not exist is a subset, ‘strong’, ‘positive’ or ‘gnostic’ atheism. True, many of us who are agnostic atheists will sometimes say ‘god does not exist’ but mostly for the sake of shorthand and expressing our certainty that this is true. Agnosticism and atheism are not incompatible by any means. Indeed, any honest agnostic is also an atheist and vice versa. Then again, it depends on the god being asserted. An omnipotent god cannot exist, see earlier.

4. The writer claims that theism is different to unicorns, fairies or Santa and they are right, to a degree. Unicorn believers are not widespread and do not have any significant effect on public life while theists do. The point though, the one apparently missed, is that all these beliefs equally lack evidence and are equally ridiculous. The difference is only in numbers. Invoking a mystical ‘first cause’ (with no evidence) makes no odds to this.

5. The writer seeks to excuse the lack of evidence for anything supernatural by… well, it’s not entirely clear. If the supernatural existed and had meaningful effect on our reality (a detectable effect) then it should be able to be evidenced. It is not. Should any evidence show up, it will be assessed and examined. Absence of evidence is, indeed,not evidence of absence but it’s absolutely not evidence of presence. ‘That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’.

6. The writer tries to claim that if religion is dangerous, so is science. They attempt to do with with an argumentum ad Hitlerum, the tired old idea that Hitler was an atheist and that his racial ideas were based on evolution. Science refutes Hitler’s claims about race, he was a Christian, and the hatred of Jews come through Christianity and especially Lutheranism (in Germany). Science makes no claim to anything but to uncovering what is true and what the effects of things are. Religion is dangerous not only because it opposes science and holds it back but because it makes baseless pronouncements that can cost lives – just look at race and sexuality for the evidence of that. If you claim your morality is from the Bible you should be out stoning adulterers to death. If you claim otherwise you’re selectively applying modern, secular morality to the ‘morals’ of your holy book and then rationalising why you don’t follow your own rules. Sam Harris has begun some work on secular morality but there are already many bases for morality without religion – empathy, group selection, golden rule, enlightened self interest, utilitarianism and epicureanism to name but a few. Animals show moral and ethical traits without religion too, and we can find an evolutionary basis for many ‘moral’ behaviours. Morality isn’t objective and absolute, but we can use reason to determine the best courses of action for the greatest number.

Rhetorical Questions, Rhetorical Answers

Why are you so obsessed with something you don’t believe?

Are oncologists obsessed with cancer? Does it mean they think it’s a good thing? God may not exist but believers do, the religion does and these cause a great deal of harm. Asking this question is very strange. It’s like asking someone why they spend so much time arguing against racism if they don’t believe other races to be inferior.

Why do you care what people believe?

Because it has effects on the world beyond the person, on us, and on the helpless.

Since atheists commit their share of crimes, then what good is atheism doing for society, and why does it matter since they say we are merely glorified pond scum?

Even if atheism were terrible, caused massive amounts of crime and huge rates of suicide this would be completely irrelevant to the question of whether god is real or not. As it turns out, atheists are less criminal than believers and being evolved, the product of countless generations of survival is no bad thing.

False Hope

410-These-are-delicious-THANK-YOU-missionaries-starving-children-bible-not-helpingIt’s disappointing enough when you run into the usual excuses from the religious, when you run into them from someone who should know better it can almost heartbreaking. Chris Arnade, writing in The Guardian.

He spends a bit of time establishing his atheist credentials, the bad attitudes he’s uncovered in others by revealing he’s an atheist, getting swept up in the New Atheism and then emerging out of youth with a PHD and a brain capable (it would seem) of thinking.

Where Chris seems to have gotten knocked off the rails is in expecting the poor, the destitute, the hopeless and addicts to have come through life with a cynicism towards religion and a lack of faith similar to his own. Never mind that religiosity is strongly correlated with poverty, lack of education, lack of intelligence and other issues but a bad run in life is a piss-poor reason to be an atheist. That kind of reasoning smacks of the common accusation that an atheist must have ‘had something bad happen to them’ or that they are just ‘angry with god’. The good reason for not believing is being skeptical, using reason or not having been indoctrinated with the stupid idea in the first place.

We really shouldn’t be surprised that religion is so much more prevalent amongst the poor and the desperate. Religions heavily predate upon people in dire straits and if you’re homeless you’ll often have to sit through or profess religion in order to get a hot meal or somewhere to sleep for the night. It also offers (false) hope, which is great for keeping people in their place and preventing them getting the genuine help they need. It can also – in the case of the Abrahamic religions – feed heavily

I’m not suggesting religion is a deliberate conspiracy to keep people down, but that is what it does.

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” – Attributed to Napoleon

What Chris doesn’t seem to understand, when he’s talking about how these societal victims are treated and regarded as dregs is just how much the dominant religious paradigm, especially in the United States, is an integral part of the society that judges them. They are sinners, god is judging them and treating them badly in this life and then – to add insult to injurty – they often have to turn to churches for assistance because welfare has been gutted. People who think we can rely on charities and philanthropy rather than state aid need to read Charles Dickens.

Chris’ problem seems to come in from the way these people draw comfort from their faith. Their god doesn’t judge them (irony) and it gives them hope.

Well sure, but that says nothing about whether the belief is true or rational now does it?

Further, I would argue that overall faith causes harm. It feeds into the judgement of these people in the first place. Keeps them in their place with false hope (much as it did in times of slavery). It also contributes to the reluctance of society as a whole to deal with these problems by other, more effective, means.

Is giving someone false hope a kindness? I don’t think it is, in part due to the numbing effect it has on their will to change things, in part because it simply isn’t fair to string people along like that.

Chris is handwringing unnecessarily. I suggest he read Breaking the Spell by Dan Dennett and particularly his comments on ‘belief in belief‘.

This kind of attitude, that only the wealthy and educated can get use out of atheism or are owed the truth is horribly patronising. Faith as something for the little people, like a comforting blankie for a toddler to keep them quiet. Sooner or later you have to wean a child off the tit or it becomes sinister and more about what you want than what’s best for them.

(Im)Proving God(arguments)


I got screencapped on a blog by Jennifer Fulwiler raising some questions and objections to her – alleged – conversion from atheism to Christianity. I have my suspicions about anyone who claims that, and Mrs Fulwiler’s claim seems to be based on an argument that amounts to: “Look how cute my baby is. Therefore, god.”

The blog post goes into a bit more detail, but ultimately it kills itself off before it even gets going.

But since religion cannot be proven in any kind of verifiable way, a person cannot both subscribe to an evidence-based way of evaluating the world and be a believer. One or the other has to go. Right?

Right. End of blog post then yeah?


It started with a conversation with my grandfather, an engineer who worked his way through college by shoveling coal during the Great Depression, and went on to build complicated refineries all over Mexico and South America. He’s not overtly religious, and I always assumed that with his keen intelligence and careful, analytical way of thinking, he must be an atheist. So when it came out that he believes in God, it piqued my interest.

It figures that he would be an engineer. Engineers are notably more conservative and religious. Quite why this is isn’t particularly known but when it comes to creationism I suspect it is to do with being predisposed to ‘making things’ and thinking that this is the only way that things can come about.

I began to consider that many of the pioneers of science believed in God — Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Boyle, and Mendel, to name just a few. Almost all the great Greek and Roman thinkers of antiquity believed that supernatural forces were at work in the world. In fact, among people considered to be the greatest minds of history, only a small percentage were atheists.

This is an argument from authority and, therefore fallacious. Further, while these men may have been believers their work was not on god and did not prove gods existence. In the case of many of them their work has done quite the opposite (perhaps most notably Galileo and Copernicus) and this put them in opposition to the Christian religion.

To pick out a favourite example, Newton, as well as being a theist Newton was a ritual magician and an alchemist. Are we, then, to also believe that demons and spirits can be controlled with magic words and circles scribed on the ground? Should we abandon science and take up pursuit of the philosopher’s stone? Hopefully Mrs Fulwiler wouldn’t want anyone to take up those pursuits. So why make the exception for this singular, particular line of unproven nonsense?

Was I really ready to say that I was a more analytical thinker than my engineer grandfather? Was I seriously going to claim that the monk Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, did not require evidence before believing a theory to be true? Did I honestly think that it never occurred to Galileo to question assumptions?

Mrs Fulwiler has misidentified the problem. It isn’t so much the degree of genius or analytical thinking but whether that analytical thinking is applied to the question of god or not. People are fully capable of holding contradictory ideas or cordoning off certain sets of ideas from critical analysis. Skepticism and critical thinkings are ways of addressing and overcoming this tendency and the result is atheism. Not that atheists aren’t also capable of abandoning skepticism and critical thinking when it comes to their own pet causes.

One must also consider the historical context. For a great many years not being a believer (or being the wrong kind of believer) was a death sentence and if it wasn’t a death sentence it was a social death sentence. An obscenely wealthy church also held a lot of purse strings. Still, despite this science did advance – usually when religion retreated. The two biggest leaps in scientific knowledge before the present day came with The Renaissance and The Enlightenment, both associated with a weakening of religion.

I set out on a search for truth about the spiritual realm, which pretty quickly led me to the only lasting world religion whose founder claimed to be God. I came to see that there was a strong case that a person named Jesus of Nazareth did exist. I thought it was interesting that Christianity spread like wildfire through the ancient world, despite the fact that becoming a Christian often meant persecution or even death.

The term ‘spiritual’ might as well be a noise. It is so loosely defined as to be useless.

The grandiosity of a claim doesn’t make it more likely to be true. It does increase the amount of evidence required. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

There is no historical evidence for Jesus, whatsoever. This is an unpopular opinion to be sure, but one easily refuted by the producing of even a single piece of evidence. To call the case ‘strong’ is so wrong as to be laughable.

Many religions have spread fast. This is an argument from popularity. Put it this way, in current times Islam is growing faster and, in the west, atheism and neopaganism are growing faster than both (or were a couple of a years ago). Put another way, more people in the world don’t believe in any particular religion than do. People are also willing to die for a great many causes, religions and ideologies. It doesn’t lend them any credibility that people will die for them.

I didn’t know where to turn, so I decided to do an experiment: something rang true about Augustine’s famous statement that you must believe so that you might understand, and so I began to live my life as if God did exist. I prayed, even though I felt like I was talking to myself; I followed the Christian moral code; I read the Bible and honestly tried to understand what it might be trying to teach me.

This is an open invitation to confirmation bias. This ‘experiment’ is, in essence, brainwashing. Except you’re doing it to yourself. An analytical approach is one where you try to prove an idea wrong at least as much as you try to show it to be right. Further, I rather doubt that Ms Fulwiler has stoned any adulterers to death lately. She’s probably eaten shellfish and I’m fairly sure she’s wearing mixed fabrics in some of those photos on her blog. She’s been applying an independent moral filter to Christian morality which only goes to show that morality doesn’t derive from or conform to the Bible.

The more I went through the motions of believing in God, the more the world made sense to me; the more human history made sense to me; the more I started to make sense to me. The picture of human life that I’d formed based on science alone now seemed incomplete. I still believed everything I’d learned through the lens of science, but I now saw a whole other dimension to the world around me.

And people feel the same way about the teachings of any and every guru, self-help book and bagload of nonsense you care to mention. It doesn’t make a single one of them any more credible.

When I considered this experience in light of the evidence for Jesus of Nazareth, the improbable spread of early Christianity, and the seamless and perfectly internally consistent traditional Christian moral code that has stood strong for two thousand years…

What can you say to that but ‘lol’. I mean… really.

I can show you lots of evidence, and, if you’re willing to consider it with an open mind, I think I can make the case that this belief system is at least worth a second look. But I cannot prove its truth to you in the way I can prove that the earth revolves around the sun. The human soul is a necessary component of the God experiment, and the laboratory in which it takes place is the individual human heart. Yes, there is compelling, verifiable evidence for the truths of this belief system, but an analysis of evidence will not — cannot — get you all the way there.

So no. You can’t show anyone any evidence. An open mind is not an uncritical mind. I don’t think you can make this case and if you can’t show it in that way, then you’ve nothing to show. There’s no reason to think there’s a soul either so making that a requirement is like saying you can’t find Nessie without the help of Bigfoot. As with any believer, you’re invited to present this supposed evidence and see if it stands up to scrutiny, but I doubt that it will.

I still doubt Mrs Fulwiler was ever an atheist beyond simply apathetically not believing. She called evolution ‘random’ and doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable of many of the contradictions and issues of Christianity. It just doesn’t sit right.

I began to consider that many of the pioneers of science believed in God — Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Boyle, and Mendel, to name just a few. Almost all the great Greek and Roman thinkers of antiquity believed that supernatural forces were at work in the world. In fact, among people considered to be the greatest minds of history, only a small percentage were atheists. – See more at: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2013/09/on-proving-god.html#sthash.d05RpBM6.dpuf

Was Timothy McVeigh an Atheist?

Timothy Mcveigh - BRESCOLAFor you young ‘uns, Timothy McVeigh was the Oklahoma City bomber. Prior to 9/11 this (and the Waco siege) dominated discussions about terrorism, conspiracy theory and so forth in the United States. If you want to know what happened you can read up here. The short version is that a very disturbed, right-wing, nutcase detonated a huge bomb next to a federal building as a sort of ‘first blow’ in a war on ‘socialism’ and the government. Keep in mind that the rhetoric surrounding Obama has been much worse and yet nothing similar seems to have happened, yet.

These kinds of things go in cycles and, of late, much seems to be being made of Timothy McVeigh’s supposed atheism. When you bring up religious bombings, incidents and acts of terror someone inevitably points to McVeigh as an example of atheist terror. Even if one were to accept this characterisation, having to go all the way back to 1995 would show that ‘atheist’ murders and acts of terror occur with a great deal less frequency than religious ones. Still, we don’t have to accept this.

First and foremost, atheism is not a religion, an ideology, a philosophy, a system of belief or anything similar. It is the singular lack of belief in god/s. That is atheism in its entirety. If someone who happens to be an atheist commits some travesty it cannot be atheism that motivates them because atheism provides no motivation, no excuse, no impetus to commit such acts. Religious and ideological texts on the other hand, may very well have such exhortations to violence. The Abrahamic religious texts are replete with examples of this.

Secondly, McVeigh was not an atheist. At least not at the time of the bombings.

McVeigh was raised a Roman Catholic Christian and was confirmed in 1985. He was a registered republican, a member of the NRA and voted Libertarian. The bombings took place in 1995 and prior to the bombing his ‘goodbye’ letter to his childhood friend contained the following line:

I know in my heart that I am right in my struggle, Steve. I have come to peace with myself, my God and my cause. Blood will flow in the streets, Steve. Good vs. Evil. Free Men vs. Socialist Wannabe Slaves. Pray it is not your blood, my friend.

In 1996, after the bombing, when he was interviewed and asked about his religious position he said that he still believed in god, though he had lost touch with his Catholicism. He said he still maintained core Catholic, Christian beliefs.

By 2001 he proclaimed that he did not believe in hell and that ‘Science is my god’.

This is the line that people quote but it is one that is attributed to him a full six years after the bombing. It is unusual that he seems to have had a deconversion in prison. Many people claim religious conversion, especially in American prisons, because it gets them better treatment and increases their chances of parole. Being on death row perhaps McVeigh was feeling more fatalistic or didn’t see the need to claim a faith as it would make no difference. He did resist a great deal of urging to become a Muslim during this time.

When it came time for him to be executed McVeigh seems to have rediscovered his religion. A day before he wrote to a paper describing himself as agnostic. On the day of his execution he took the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and read the poem Invictus, which contains references to god and souls.

We’ll likely never really know what he thought or felt or believed, because he is dead. This is part of the waste and uselessness of the death penalty, it eliminates our capacity to learn and to understand. Nonetheless he seems to have been raised and died a Christian and to have been one when the bombing took place.

The truly perverse thing is that, having taken the Sacrament and ‘returned to the bosom of the lord’, by Christian doctrine, this mass murderer and right-wing terrorist would be in heaven, if such a place existed.


Atheist Dogma?

YEE.tifA certain Tyler Null on Twitter likes to bang on about ‘atheist dogma’, thereby demonstrating that he has no understanding of the terms ‘atheist’, ‘dogma’ or perhaps both and is just being dishonest. It seems peculiar that a religious person should be so against dogma as dogma is very much a part of religion. Still, he seems to have a bee in his bonnet about it.

Lets correct him.

Atheism is:

“Either the lack of belief that there exists a god, or the belief that there exists none.” Most broadly it is simply the personal statement “I do not believe in god/s.”

Dogma is:

1. A

n official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church. Synonyms: doctrine,teachings, set of beliefs, philosophy.

2. A specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption; the recently defined dogma of papal infallibility. Synonyms: tenet, canon, law. 

3. Prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group: the difficulty of resisting political dogma.

4. A settled or established opinion, belief, or principle: the classic dogma of objectivity in scientific observation.Synonyms: conviction, certainty.

Well then…

Does Atheism fit any of these definitions?

Atheism is not a system. Atheism is not a set of principles. Atheism has no tenets. Atheism does not necessarily exclude faith, even though it tends to. Atheism says nothing in and of itself about morality, behaviour etc. It does not fit number 1.

Atheism is, again, not a tenet or a doctrine. It is not laid down through authority. It does not fit number 2.

Atheism is, again, not a doctrine, it is not held to be unquestionably true (almost all atheists would change their mind if evidence for a god turned up).

The fourth definition is, in my opinion, so lose as to be universally applicable to anything and everything and therefore useless within this context. The meaning of religious dogma is pretty clear and the attempt here is to set up an equivalence that doesn’t exist. ‘Ner ner, you’re just as bad as we are.’

What the Heck?

The things Tyler talks about are arguments often used in support of atheism or opinions broadly held by left/liberal people. He’s conflating all of these together in one big lump. Why? Idiocy or malice.

Dear Muslims, Let’s Explain Freedom of Speech

The video brouhaha seems to be coming to an end but I’ve been searching for a way to try and explain to Muslims why there’s a such a necessity for free speech, why it’s so important in the West and how mockery and insult differs from hate speech. Why mocking Muhammed (or Jesus or Buddha or anyone else for that matter) is different from holocaust denial.

There’s been a lot of talk about how much Muslims revere their prophet and comparisons with insulting family, calling someone’s mother a whore and similar comparisons. These don’t really work as a comparison with a long dead figure. Additionally violence simply on the basis of mockery or insult is still not acceptable. Ever heard the saying ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me?’

Surely, if you truly believe, a god and is prophet can take care of themselves and take a little mockery without having anyone murdered, yes?

Here’s a way you might understand.

Western culture, whether it manages to uphold it or not, is heavily focussed on the concept of freedom. We revere freedom in many different ways in much the same way that you say you revere your prophet. Freedom, particularly of expression, is part of the warp and weft of our political and social culture and curtailing it is considered dangerous.

Freedom of expression:

  • Allows us to hold our government and public figures to account. Essential in a democracy and for a democracy.
  • Allows us to subject ideas to powerful scrutiny and criticism. That which survives such examination has proven its worth.
  • Allows societal values to progress, incrementally, through constant examination and discussion.
  • Allows innovative and amazing art, writing and ideas to come out.

There is a cost associated with this and that is that people do get offended and ideas do get challenged. Rudeness occurs. It’s a tiny price to pay for all the positive benefits we get from it and looking at the influence of theocracy and despotic leadership in many parts of the Middle East it’s something that the Middle East could definitely benefit from, while there are things in the Middle East we could benefit from (hospitality rules and importance of family being two that come to mind).

Someone making fun of Muhammed or taking issue with the history or beliefs of Islam doesn’t harm you and isn’t encouraging people to attack Muslims. However crude it might be, however rude it might be, however offensive you might find it, it can’t actually hurt you or lead to hurt.

The reason we punish holocaust denial and hate speech is that it the one case it is trying to pretend an horrific atrocity never occurred. An horrific atrocity that took place in no small part due to the propagation of hate speech such as conspiracy theories and blood libel.

Hate speech is direct appeal to do harm, the targeting of a group of people as subhuman or exhorting people to hurt them. Ideas such as blacks, or arabs or whoever else are congenitally dangerous/stupid/inferior. We don’t allow that because it can (arguably) be shown to actually cause harm.

Your actions in rioting and murdering people, putting out bounties on people’s heads etc do, directly threaten and prevent people from feeling free to express themselves and attempts to introduce blasphemy laws and guidelines nationally and internationally do the same.

Muhammed, long dead, cannot be harmed by a bit of mockery or honest, open and robust examination, criticism and mirth-making at the expense of the Koran. Surely a god, if one existed, could look after itself and could stand up to a little criticism?

Free expression is a foundational right upon which a great deal else hinges and as such it is part of the suite of rights that many, many people have died to defend and establish over the centuries. Your attempts to violently shut people up are as offensive to us as anything you claim to be offended by, but we don’t seem to resort to murder.

You want us to understand your reverence for Muhammed, try to understand our reverence for free expression because if you did understand then you’d know that reactions like this just cause people to value and exercise their free expression all the more.

Pitch a fit over a cartoon and people start Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

Pitch a fit over these films? Well, I’m sure they’re being fileshared and mirrored a lot more than they would have been otherwise and you’ll also find a lot MORE (not less) criticism is Islam and Muslims as a result.

Don’t. Feed. The. Trolls.

Made to be Damned

This should save me some repetition.


  1. Do you believe in god?
  2. Do you believe your god is all knowing?
  3. Do you believe your god is all powerful?
  4. Do you believe your god is good and just?
  5. Do you believe your god is the creator?

If the answer to these is yes, as it for most Christians, consider this.

IF we presume, for a moment, that your god exists:

  1. It created me (creator).
  2. With perfect foreknowledge of everything I would ever do, think, feel or know (all knowing).
  3. It knew I would be an atheist and had the means to provide me with the evidence I would require to believe in it (all knowing, all powerful).
  4. This deity then withholds said evidence, thereby condemning me of its own volition – nothing to do with me – to a hell of its own making.



I think not.

The Classroom

An atheist a theist and a militant agnostic are in class in primary school and the teacher is going over their times-tables. They’ve been taught the basic principle and their two, three and four times table when the teacher writes up a more difficult problem on the blackboard:

7 x 8 =?

The theist answers: “Three hundred and seventy two!”

The atheist answers: “I don’t know, but I’m pretty damn sure it’s not three hundred and seventy two. Can I check on my calculator?”

The militant agnostic answers: “I don’t know, and neither do any of you other fuckers!” Then storms off in a huff.


I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in god.

I don’t believe in god because there’s no need for a god, no evidence for a god, no reason to believe in a god. My reason leads me inexorably to this conclusion. I would change my mind, should evidence emerge.

I am a socialist because my reason leads me to believe this is the best compromise political system that provides the greatest good to the greatest number. Economy of scale, triage and the failures of capitalism and free enterprise lead me to this conclusion.

My atheism has nothing to do with it.

I am pro-choice because the medical evidence leads me to believe that a foetus is not concious and thus not a person until quite late in the gestation period and I value a fully realised and complete human being and their autonomy over a potential human being.

My atheism has nothing to do with it.

I am a libertine because I reject constricted social moral structures that have basis in superstition and not reality. I believe people should be free to conduct their sex lives as they wish so long as it is consensual.

My atheism has nothing to do with it.

I place my trust in science because it provides practical applications, because it places truth above all other considerations, because it has peer review and other safeguards.

My atheism has nothing to do with it.

Whatever side you’re on. Please stop conflating atheism with social issues, political issues or whatever else. All it means is that we don’t believe in god. Everything else is its own, separate issue and while logic, reason and the demands of evidence may lead many of us to these conclusions, that’s not always going to be the case.