Did You Keep the Receipt?

It is not a weird thing at all – in much of the world – to hear someone say they do not believe in god. In Europe – especially Northern Europe, this is as or more common than believing in god and those who do believe generally have a rather vague notion of some sort of ‘something’ rather than the god described in ridiculous holy books.

It IS a weird thing to believe a nonsensical book, with no evidence, for no reason. That is very weird.

Seen/touched etc is a strawman. What matters is evidence. There are many things we cannot see/hear/smell/taste/touch directly but we can construct experiments and devices that extend our senses or reveal the presence of a force or power through inference. Despite this, there remains no evidence for a god and without evidence for a god it is not rational to believe in one.

There is no reason to believe in a soul just as there is no reason to believe in a god.

‘Look at all this stuff!’ (Stars, Moon, etc). These have naturalistic explanations there is no reason to think they are the work of a deity and no evidence to support the idea that they are. This is a question, not an answer, not evidence.

‘Accident’ is another strawman. Much of the universe (not all) is deterministic, but natural. Drop a rock, it falls to the ground. Gravitation is how planets and stars form. This is not an accident (the unintended result of a volitional action) but of nature.

Vehicles are not natural phenomena, not evolved, do not reproduce themselves. The comparison is idiotic and betrays a lack of scientific knowledge – or a wilful set of lies.

Such an assertion also begs the question, who made god? If the universe requires a creator because of its ‘complexity’ then an even more complex creator must also require an even more complex meta-creator and so… ad infinitum. If you argue god is an exception then not all things need a creator and that can easily be applied to the universe itself, removing the creator again. He falls into this trap by himself a little later on. The point being the argument defeats itself.

We’re already creating and modifying life both robotically/electronically and via biological means. We haven’t had 3.75 billion years to do it, but we’re about at the level of insect intelligence in our efforts. Which ain’t bad considering industrial society only dates back a couple of hundred years at the most.

Quoting the Koran without providing any reason to believe it or take it seriously is pointless.

Science in the Koran? There simply isn’t any. It’s all rather tortuous post-hoc rationalisation of vague poetic passages. http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Scientific_Errors_in_the_Qur

We are not ‘given’ life by some supernatural force but rather our parents combine genes and we grow from natural elements. It is not a gift, but a hard-won existence.

It boils down to this.

In this video the personable and earnest young man makes a lot of claims but provides no evidence. If you want to claim anything what you need is evidence. An answer need not be the right answer. ‘6’ is an answer to ‘what is 2+2’ but it is not a right answer and we can show this with beads or any other countable object should we choose to do so.

If you want to say ‘god exists!’ you need evidence. If you want to say ‘god created the universe!’ you need evidence. So it is for all things.

Religious Spam Round-Up 7: There’s No Book Like it!

Every day social media users, especially those identifying as agnostics, atheists and skeptics, are subjected to a barrage of religious spam from true believers. This tends to be repeated, day in, day out, several times a day with no attempt to engage or discuss the matter. It’s spam, plain and simple. Some groups even seem to use small botnets, multiple accounts or proxies to spam hundreds of identical or similar messages all in one go.

Let’s look at some, all from one afternoon and evening on Twitter and only a small sample…

Magic Book

Typically Muslims, but sometimes other faiths, try to claim that there is no other book like theirs. That it is magical, irreplaceable, that it cannot be imitated.

Obviously this is somewhat subjective. What one person sees as brilliant another may see as terrible. However, there are certainly a large number of books and writings of this ilk, so nobody’s religious tome is unique or special. That’s without even taking into account fiction books that exceed the brilliance of often rather stodgey, boring and self-contradicting religious texts.

There’s only one real answer to this claim.


Religious Spam Round-Up 6: Science in the Koran

religionandscienceEvery day social media users, especially those identifying as agnostics, atheists and skeptics, are subjected to a barrage of religious spam from true believers. This tends to be repeated, day in, day out, several times a day with no attempt to engage or discuss the matter. It’s spam, plain and simple. Some groups even seem to use small botnets, multiple accounts or proxies to spam hundreds of identical or similar messages all in one go.

Let’s look at some, all from one afternoon and evening on Twitter and only a small sample…

Science in the Koran

Christian creationists have, again, largely been beaten back to the fringes, despite their undue influence in the USA. The idea that their pseudoscience is actually scientific is not a wide, globally held belief within Christianity since they’ve taken a drubbing on that score year on year.

Muslims, however, very much like to believe – and it seems in a more mainstream sense – that somehow their belief is not only compatible with science but that the Koran contains miraculous scientific knowledge.

Balderdash and piffle and much of this runs into the same logical problems that assert claims of prophecy.

1. This is post-hoc reinterpretation of vague, poetic scripture to fit modern understanding. The original passages are so vague as to be able to be interpreted any number of ways and, indeed, they have been over the ages. Many modern claims of science in the Koran use older, discredited scientific conclusions in their claim that the Koran is accurate.

2. If the Koran is so amazingly scientific where are the scientific discoveries attributable to the Koran? As with prophecy, what’s the use of a prophecy that can only be interpreted after the event? Post-hoc reinterpretation yet again.

3. The few things that sound remotely credible are accountable for from ancient knowledge. We consistently underestimate our forebears. Greek knowledge of the period and before is recognisable and other claims can be accounted for from simple observations available to even the crudest peasant.

Short version, there’s no reason to believe any of these claims.

If you want a longer version, TheIslamMiracle on Youtube is a great debunking resource.

How do you Solve a Problem like Aisha?

child-bride_wxojk_50You don’t. You hedge, avoid and distract.

Just been around and around this particular roundabout with a couple of Muslims, yet again. The basic problem is this.

Most people would agree that having sex with children is wrong. My basis for saying so is that engaging in intercourse with pre-sexual humans is dangerous to their health and they are not mentally competent to give informed consent.

Ask a Muslim if having sex with children in wrong and they start to get a little… evasive.

Why should this present a problem? Surely of all morals found around the modern world one of the few things we can agree on is that raping children is bad. Even the Catholic Church, with a bit of a reputation for the problem, will publicly fess up to it being a bad thing.

Well, the problem for Muslims lies in the fact that Muhammed had, and fucked, a nine-year-old bride, Aisha.

Quite rightly, this idea repulses people but because Muhammed is revered and considered perfect and because the Koran is considered a perfect guide to morality this presents something of a problem. Either…

  • A: The Koran is wrong, Muhammed isn’t perfect and fucking children is a repugnant and predatory practice worthy of contempt.
  • B: Fucking children is A-OK with god.

The thing is, this shit still goes on in places like Yemen and they draw licence for the practice from the Koran.

So, what happens when Muslims are confronted with this? They panic.

Some say that this is a misrepresentation, but its in the Koran and Hadith and was considered praiseworthy and right for centuries as a sign of Aisha’s purity and appropriateness as a prize for Muhammed. Some will say its a product of the culture of the time – which is to admit that morality is not absolute and divine but rather subjective and temporal. Some of the more honest will say that they believe there’s nothing wrong with it.

Bringing this up can seem like a ‘cheap shot’ simply because the issue of paedophilia is such a hot-button issue, but it really is a big problem that Islam seems to have and one they don’t appear to have a good answer for.

Arguing with Atheists: A Muslim Primer

IslamicMore and more the arguments over creationism/evolution, science/religion and atheism/theism are going on between members of the Islamic religion and atheists more than Christians. On the one hand this may be a hopeful sign, Christians seem to have given up trying to argue that their beliefs are rational or empirical and – instead – tend to resort to emotional arguments which, obviously carry little weight in a debate on whether something is real or not. Islamic debaters, on the other hand, still seem to fiercely cling to the notion that Islam is a rational, scientific and evidential religion whose truth is ‘undeniable’.

The problem is that these arguments are all the same ones we’ve seen before and have disposed of before. To the Islamic debater they seem new and powerful while to the atheist they seem tired, boring and have been gone over time and time again. Perhaps this means that we dispose of these debaters too quickly and dismissively but its hard not to when they’re fired up and excited over something that was disposed of decades, even centuries ago.

Let’s save ourselves a lot of time by covering the basic arguments that really have no place in this debate any longer.

Atheism is simply the personal statement ‘I do not believe in god/s’. It is not anything more than that. While a lot of atheists come to this opinion because of logic, reason and science people can be an atheist for many reasons. Some of them worse reasons than others. Still, confusing atheism with anything else confuses and mixes up the argument.

The Prime Mover Argument
We’ve heard this one so many times that it will always meet with an eye-roll. Yes, paintings have a painter, buildings have a builder, but the natural world, the universe, life, these are not the same things. If you argue that everything must have a cause then you are still left with the need to explain the origin of your god. IF everything requires a creator then it follows that this must also apply to ‘god’.

A slightly more ‘advanced’ version of this argument is the ‘Kalam’ argument. Which argues that god is an exception to the requirement for a cause. The problem with this is that it doesn’t further the argument. If there can be an exception to the rule then why not something other than god? Why would it be your god?

Arguing for a prime mover does nothing whatsoever for the argument. It’s a pointless distraction.

Look at that Tree/Flower/Baby!
Just because you don’t know how a tree (or whatever) could come about naturally doesn’t mean that it did not. Evolution is massively well evidenced and it produces things which seem designed, but are not. When you make this argument you’re not actually making an argument at all. You’re engaging in one of two logical fallacies (or even both). The argument from ignorance: “I don’t know. Therefore god did it”, and the argument from personal incredulity: “I can’t believe it happened the way you say, therefore god did it.”

The Koran is all Scientific and Shit!
You say the Koran ties in with science but there are problems with this claim.

Firstly the Koran is a mythological (and bad) poem, not a science book. Its language is vague – Arabic is a particularly vague language – and can be interpreted any number of ways which makes it particularly fluid in being rewritten to fit modern understanding. Let us give one particular example as a case in point:

“Have not the unbelievers ever considered that the skies and the earth were once one mass, then We split them asunder?” 21:30 (Malik Translation)

If you don’t consider it very deeply – as most don’t – this seems to be something to do with The Big Bang. If you consider it for more than that single moment however it all falls apart. The Big Bang is the origin of the universe (if such a world is appropriate for the universe), not the earth. That isn’t the only problem though as anyone with a passing interest in science will know. The Big Bang is not an explosion or a splitting asunder but rather an expansion, an inflation of spacetime.

You’d think a god would know better and get it right.

Secondly Islam is far from the only religion to make such claims and much of the ‘science’ in the Koran is cribbed from the ancient Greek scholars and philosophers. Its wrong, but less wrong than many religions simply because it is newer than many of the others. Still, one can find aspects in many religions – many of them much older than Islam, Christianity or even Judaism – which resemble (or have resembled) scientific thought.

An Appeal
A bearded imam shouting fallacies and asserting incorrect statements on a Youtube video is not convincing. What will convince most atheists? Evidence, plain and simple. You need evidence for the existence of a god. Please check whether your arguments have been refuted before and bring your ‘A’ game because we find re-treading old ground particularly tiresome.