PEGIDA in Newcastle

Friends, Humans, Earth-dwellers,

The German-origin protest group PEGIDA (which stands for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the west”) are doing their first protest today in the UK and it takes place in Newcastle Upon-Tyne. I think the key thing to take into account here is that it says “Islamisation” and not “Muslim invasion”.

There are groups (Unite Against Fascism and Unite Newcastle) planning to march in a demonstration against the demonstration marching against Islam extremism. Why? Do they encourage such things as the Paris attacks? I doubt it, but they appear to be protesting against the wrong thing. They are, in effect, marching in favour of extremism in Islam; in a sort of “we want Islam warts n’ all” kind of attitude. Those protesting against PEGIDA more than likely have done no research into what they stand for, but just go on hear-say, such as “they are a racist group.” Which they evidently are not in any sense. If you too have little idea as to what they intend for this rally, then I direct you to a post on their Facebook page about the rally today: https://www.facebook.com/pegida.uk/posts/1570465236528862

Yet even people who are supposed to know about what is going on in their city are going on what they are told by others rather than doing some actual research into what the group itself has to say. My prime example here is the Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah, who has said:

“PEGIDA is targeting Muslims in our community and we have to stand up and say it is wrong, Islamaphobia is wrong, anti-semitism is wrong, all racism is wrong…”

So many points to refute…

  1. PEGIDA is not “targeting” Muslims in the community in the malicious way she implies. They have even invited muslims to join them in their protests against extremism. So, that shows how little she knows about the purpose of the protest, and how little research she is willing to do in her surrender to the extreme wing of Islam’s will.
  2. If that was PEGIDA’s goal then she may have a point about it being wrong, but it isn’t, and she doesn’t.
  3. I have already discussed how “Islamaphobia” is not a thing. Islam is an ideology, Islamaphobia is a term used to conflate criticism of an idea, with racism. It is the equivalent of saying “Marxismophobia” then being called racist for not agreeing with the tenets of Marxism. It is utter nonsense.
  4. To then deliver the next few words should insult everyone’s sense of decency and intelligence: “anti-semitism is wrong”, as if a) we wouldn’t have known had she not said, and b) that PEGIDA are anti-semitic. The latter is explicitly implied and is downright dishonest and looks to paint PEGIDA in a bad light on purpose. Disingenuous.
  5. “All racism is wrong”. Now, this is similar to the point above. She implies that PEGIDA are a racist group, which they are not. Again, disgusting comments from an MP who really should know better if she is representing the people’s voice of Newcastle. OF COURSE racism is wrong, but including it in this sentence is unnecessary, and it seems more like an axe to grind than a point relating to this rally.

If she does believe that muslims are a race, then I wonder if she could explain how you can choose not to be a muslim and therefore change your race…

If it is becoming racist to judge an ideology on the actions coming as a result from following it and “unchangeable” written tenets, then we are trivialising actual racism. Actual hatred of people based on race is far, far more of an issue and a far more important one to stamp out than (again) the criticism of an idea that happens to be held in a vast majority, by middle-eastern people.

PEGIDA do not wish to cause harm (as they say in the post linked above), they wish to stand up for what they believe in, and that is the democracy of the european (and “western” if you wish) value system which is – like it or not – being attacked and eroded away by Islamic maniacs wishing to impose their theocratic dictatorship upon everyone else, as shown by all the terrorist attacks, call-to-arms speeches against “the west”, constant threat of bombings etc. etc. Every single day there is something in the news about Islam related threats or harm caused. If I lived even close to Newcastle I would be joining them because I’d wager most of the non-muslims defending Islam haven’t read the Qur’an nor the Hadith and just go along with what appears to be the more friendly option – allowing Islam to do as it pleases in the name of peaceful co-operation.

Wake Up.

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Prayers for a Missing Boy: “We need to do something.”

Fellow Homo Sapiens, “People feel they need to do something” says Reverend Beti Wyn James regarding the disappearance of an 11 year old boy. I am inclined to say that I completely agree. That is why there is, “a team of 50 involved in the search including Dyfed-Powys Police, the fire service, coastguard and lifeboat teams”, looking for Cameron who is thought to have fallen into a river. So, why bother posting to say that I agree with something? Well, because she isn’t talking about actually going out and looking for the poor boy, she is talking about gathering in a church to pray, as a means of “doing something” about a missing child. She not only thinks it will help, but actually provides this proposed ‘action’ with import.

If you believe in a god who answers prayers, then you have to ask why there are children dying of bone cancer, children born with and dying of AIDS, amputees who have never been granted the regrowth of an arm, yet you believe that praying to this god will remedy the situation whereby a boy is not in your presence. If you honestly believe that a deity willing to dish out such torment as stated above, would go out of his/her way to return a missing child, I must inquire as to the logic of your argument. The idea that murmuring in a reverberant stone venue to an invisible celestial dictator will change something in the world isn’t even the most frustrating part of it. The most frustrating parts about this sort of credulity are that if Cameron is found, the team of 50 will not be giving due credit for searching tirelessly and actually working hard to find him, that credit will be given to their god. The second part is, should Cameron not be found, their god will not be blamed. This sort of immunity to the principle of our justice system is beyond anything anyone would consider fair, and is downright illogical.

Someone else’s own personal illogicalities are of no concern to me and anyone is welcome to them, but it must not be encouraged, celebrated or given undue respect in the public square to the point where even criticising it is considered rude, because this kind of “help” that the Reverend believes she is providing, is no help whatsoever and is in fact the opposite of help, because those people gathering in the church could have been out looking for Cameron and potentially making a real difference to the actual world.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-31544364

Obama: “We are not at war with Islam”… Really?

Barack Obama has clearly been told that in order to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks within their own country, he must denounce the idea that Islam is the cause of the problem. I wish I’d have known sooner that a leader (well, frontman at least) of the global super-power that has been  – let’s be honest – the world leader in terrorism for who knows how many years, didn’t watch the news. The USA went over to the middle east for oil, we all know that by now, and the UK government asked how high the Americans wished them to jump. In the process, they destroyed countries and livelihoods, and yet still paint themselves as the good guys. Then, the people of that country revolt, unsurprisingly. Think about it, if your country of residence was bombarded and invaded, destroying anything and everything with another army’s soldiers patrolling your streets, wouldn’t you feel terrorised?

So yes, the people affected by the “war on terror” (that is constantly sustainable because “terror” is an invisible threat – military industrial complex anyone?) are fighting back, but the nature of this fight back (ISIL/ISIS/IS) is Islamic. Their reasons for doing what they are doing are Islamic, don’t take my word for it, the only reason I say this is because that is what they say. According to those committing these terrible acts, Islam is the driving force. We are at war with Islam. Denying it is, at the very least, counter-productive. Those at Charlie Hebdo in Paris were killed because…Iraq has been invaded? No. They were killed because the magazine was satirising Islam. Why are innocent civilians blown to pieces in Africa by morons wearing bombs as fashion accessories screaming “Allah hu Akbar”? Is it because martyrdom is revered in Islam, or is it because America are establishing military bases in the middle east?

Explore that train of thought, are Boco Haram – active in Africa – kidnapping girls, burning down their schools, incinerating people with explosives because they are revolting against the illegal invasion of Iraq? No. They want to destroy everything to do with the west and want to install Islamic values, removing western ones – such as educating women as it appears.

Obama may not think we are at war with Islam, but it is certainly at war with us. Yes there are “moderate Muslims”, but this means nothing. The extreme lengths that these people are going to is precisely because of this “motherlode of bad ideas” that is Islam, as Sam Harris puts it.

Think of it this way. Let’s say there are 1,000,000 neo-nazis in the world. 950,000 of them do not agree with the whole of what the ideology of neo-nazism teaches, but do think that things like it’s employment strategy are useful in everyday life. 50,000 of them though, based on their rigid belief in the tenets of neo-nazism, start to commit atrocities like, desecrate Jewish graves, kill people for being homosexual, discriminating against people because they are from another part of the world, and in an attempt to install an ultranationalist state, don’t mind killing a load of people to achieve this goal. What then is your response? Is neo-nazism a peaceful ideology, with outlying extremists? Answer these questions out loud to yourself before continuing reading.

Now all the atrocities I have listed in the previous paragraph, have been committed by those professing Islam as the driving force behind these acts. Does it matter to you how many neo-nazis are good people not killing innocents? Does this make you think of it as more peaceful? It seems to me – though I think I have already said this in this blog – that those that are considered “moderate”, are religious to the point at which secular society deems it acceptable to be. They are (and this goes for all religions), less religious than the so called ‘extremists’. The problem with calling them extremists is that with everything they do, they point to a verse in the Qur’an or the Hadith as justification for what they are doing. It is all in there.

How can you say they do not represent Islam, when they are following it to the letter?

Those who believe what these ‘extremists’ are doing is not representative of the religion that they hold then I must ask, on what grounds they claim to disregard parts of the holy texts, if they do in actuality, believe that it is the word of this god? Do they claim to know better than an all-knowing, benevolent deity? If this god does exist, as they claim it does, then this is an impossibility.

Show me some passages in the Islamic holy texts that say what they are doing is against Islam. Remember, we are talking about an ideology when we talk of religions. Ideologies that are explained through the holy texts and so, if you say: “well, that’s not what Islam means to me” it is completely irrelevant because the discussion is not about the meaning taken away by cherry-picking individuals, it is about what the tenets say, and what the conclusion is from analysing them.

The war on civilisation has already begun. Western values such as basic human rights will be lost if we don’t start acknowledging it and fighting back. Neville Chamberlain already made this mistake, let us not forget this lesson, or we shall be doomed to repeat it.

Peter Kreeft Refutations: #1: Argument from Change

My equal homo sapiens (sapiens),

I am always looking for arguments that may make me think twice about the way I see the world regarding this ‘supernatural being’ business. I ended up stumbling on a site called “peterkreeft.com” and a post called: “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God”. I don’t know if this struck you too or not, but from the title of his post I can already tell he is a Christian and I haven’t even read anything else about him, it’s because he didn’t say “a god”, so not only is he trying to prove the existence of a (any) deity – whether deistic or theistic – but his specific one. I plan to do a series of blogs responding to each of his arguments. As I skim down the list I see that I have already rebutted some of them, so when arguments come up that I have already responded to I will add links to them. Here… we… go.


Argument from Change

The Preamble He discusses for some time how nothing ‘is’ now what it will be later. An example of an acorn, it has the potential to be an oak tree, but is not an oak tree yet. A question emerges, which is also answered for us: “To explain the change, can we consider the changing thing alone, or must other things also be involved? Obviously, other things must be involved” Fair enough, this universe appears to work like that for the most part, so I will agree to keep this moving. He goes on to say that for things to change, something outside of it needs to act. He remarks on why he believes we move around and such, though it really doesn’t fit into this argument, I will do a “BONUS REBUTTAL” to it at the end of this post if you’re interested.

He goes on to argue that if there is nothing outside the universe, then there is nothing that can cause the universe to change; but because it does change, that means that there must be something outside of the universe. However, since the universe is the sum of all matter, space and time, the thing – though he says ‘being’ (which astounds me) – acting upon it must be “outside matter, space, time”.  The result is: “It is not a changing thing; it is the unchanging Source of change.”

The Refutation He redefines the word ‘change’ throughout the course of his argument. ‘Change’ initially meant growth in an open system – as with the acorn. Towards the end however, ‘change’ means the maximising of entropy. Polar opposites. The universe is changing yes, but it is – in effect – winding down because it is an isolated system and has no energy coming in from outside of itself. More disorder and chaos is coming. This god he is invoking here to be the cause of this change must therefore be one bent on slow but certain annihilation for everything within this universe.

This quote must be addressed: “…the universe is the sum of all matter, space and time…”. How he knows this is beyond me. He is claiming to know something he absolutely cannot know. There may well be matter, space and time outside of our universe, we don’t know. You cannot come to a sound conclusion on shaky premises. When a unicorn licks you, you can fly. This may well be true, but the conclusion relies on the assumption that unicorns exist – shaky premise. The syllogism can be disregarded as useless.

Lastly, inserting the word ‘being’ in place of the ‘thing’ that is required to change something. Is The Sun a being? Without sunlight, the acorn will not change. Ra…? Are you there? He then says the being must be outside of matter, space and time (not many people say, outside of matter), I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know what the postulation of such an existence means, and I’m pretty sure, neither does he. A. C. Grayling put it quite well when he said that people can imagine and fantasise about such things, but when they actually try to conceive of it, to put their fantasies into the real world, it becomes substantially more difficult, quite often impossible. Such is the case here. He is in essence, describing nothingness, as though it were a something, then giving it credit for changing the universe by pushing it slowly towards its inevitable heat death.

As for the “unchanging source of change” statement, it is just as easy to put a universe that has laws of physics that enable it to constantly create universes in the place of god and make that the unchanging source of change. Neither can be proven (yet?), but one is a natural explanation that isn’t outside what is feasible, and the other is an extraordinary claim that can never be falsified, that so far carries with it no evidence, let alone any that is extraordinary.


BONUS REBUTTAL

“Apparently self-moving things, like animal bodies, are moved by desire or will—something other than mere molecules. And when the animal or human dies, the molecules remain, but the body no longer moves because the desire or will is no longer present to move it.” 

Moved by desire or will? Then how does he explain seizures I wonder. Not only that, but the sentence starts with “apparently”, which indicates that either his mate told him in the pub, or he heard it in a scientific standing. If it is the latter I would be very interested to see the scientific study that showed desire and will to be separate from “mere molecules”. I resent this idea that has come about in the debate, that molecules are nothing special. It is born from the belief that we are special, and so it appears like a step backward to admit that we are just matter, which we do appear to be. I think it’s amazing that we’re made of molecules and nothing else! That’s even more incredible! And just so we’re clear, when we die, it isn’t because there is no will and desire powering our body. This is…a bizarre understanding of biology. Seriously, MRS NERG is Key Stage 3 stuff. Actual 12 year olds have a better understanding of why things die than Peter demonstrates here.

The (ridiculous) Ontological Argument

I haven’t yet produced a post on the ontological argument because I think it almost goes without saying that it is a non-argument.  I shall rattle through the initial one brought about by Anselm, then the newer version spouted by William Lane Craig and apologists of that ilk who copy this line of ‘reasoning’ as though it were unbeatable.

Anselm’s Ontological Argument:

  1. God is the greatest being conceivable.
  2. It is greater to exist than not to exist.
  3. Therefore, God must exist.

This is defining something into existence. Just because we can conceive of something does not mean it exists. Also, existence is not a property of a thing. When describing an apple you do not say: It’s red, it’s a fruit, it has existence. Another refutation is a parody of it, that you can think of a “most terrifying object”, and define it too, into existence:

  1. Dave is the most terrifying sausage conceivable.
  2. It would be more terrifying if it existed.
  3. Therefore, Dave the terrifying sausage must exist.

The reasoning is that if it did not exist then it could not be the most terrifying thing and is therefore not Dave by definition so only if it existed could it be Dave, therefore it must exist. Written like this it becomes more clear where the flaw is in this argument. It hasn’t explained how the imaginary concept becomes reality and so proves the existence of nothing – except maybe Anselm’s imagination.

Now there is the following modal version that is a little stronger, but to be honest, they’re both about as much use as a chocolate fireguard:

  1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
  2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
  3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
  4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
  5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
  6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

Refutation 1/4
Premise 2 is a non-sequitr. It blatantly attempts to sneak the being’s existence into the argument. Read it again. “If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.” This does not follow by any stretch of logic. The possibility of existence does not imply actual existence. It is possible that Dave the terrifying sausage exists, therefore Dave the terrifying sausage exists in some possible world.

R 2/4
Premise 3 is another leap. Even if you take “possible world” so far just meaning “hypothetical world”, then you cannot say something exists in every possible world. That is disregarding the hypothetical worlds where there is only misery, suffering and is just a complete negation of greatness in every sense. We know that this is a hypothetical world because I have just described it hypothetically. Greatness cannot exist in this “possible world”, so the assumption that it exists in all possible worlds makes no sense.

R 3/4
Premise 4 is a joke and hardly worth making a point of, but simply by placing something in every possible scenario you can think of, does not actualise it. Again I say, the possibility of existence does not imply actual existence.

R 4/4 (Best for last)
This entire argument is defining something that – simply by watching the news – clearly does not exist. This syllogism demonstrates what I mean:

  1. I can think of a being so maximally great that it does not allow natural disasters to kill innocent people.
  2. Natural disasters kill innocent people.
  3. A maximally great being does not exist.
  4. God is therefore not maximally great, or does not exist.

Scripture

My Friends, My Fellow Primates,

I haven’t posted anything in a while (about 5 months) but I have not been lazy on the subject. I have been reading, researching and listening and have found some very interesting bits of information, and some very boring ones (I will not furnish my posts with the latter).

One of the main stumbling blocks of frustration I have found myself tripping over in debates comes at the point in the discussion where the person advocating their chosen religion decides to refer to scripture. I have now, rather facetiously, taken to having J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” nearby whenever such debates take place in order to demonstrate the value scripture has.

If one was to read their religious texts under the apprehension that it is a work of fiction, the two are the same. If you decide to read them both as though they are actual historical accounts of real events, we run into a problem. The books then simply become the claim. They do not become the evidence purely based on the idea that one wishes it to be taken as history. If my interlocutor should reach for scripture to ‘back up’ one of his points and reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” (for example); I then reach for Harry Potter and read: “You’re a wizard, Harry”.

This may seem idiotic, but ask yourself, does the idea that Hagrid told Harry he was a wizard, in any sense mean that there were actually, historically, two people called Hagrid and Harry, one of whom was a wizard simply because you read it believing it to be history?… No. It’s not that there couldn’t have been those two people, it’s that the book does not prove that there were those two people. You would need separate and corroborating sources, evidence of these events, of which there are zero of every religious myth. So much field research has gone into figuring out if the Moses story really did occur, and as a result of the findings (or lack thereof) Rabbi David Wolpe has said that we are forced to accept the fact that it did not transpire at all.

In short, appealing to scripture is simply restating the claim you are trying to prove true. If one uses the claim to back up the claim, you become trapped in a feedback loop of poor logic known as assuming the desired conclusion, or begging the question. “The claim is true because it claims to be true.” This is, obviously, nonsense.

Endless Films About Religion and 30 Questions about Souls and Re-Incarnation

My fellow homo sapiens,

I know I cannot be the only one who feels like the amount of films about religion is becoming tiresome. Films like: Son of God, Heaven is for Real, Noah, God Is Not Dead, Exodus: Gods and Kings which is soon to be released, and the less Christian orientated – yet still spiritually driven – I Origins, which modestly appears to be trying to show that science can’t even science bro because something spiritual might, like, totally prove science wrong dude. I would like to say it is showing people how out of touch these sorts of beliefs in the modern day really are, but it appears to be renewing faith for some, and confirming it for others. Films such as The Immortals and Clash of the Titans are entertaining because the Greek Gods are thought of as myth and everyone enjoys them as fantasy. The difference here though, is that some people somehow think that a man piling 16,000,000 species on a 450ft boat with three levels actually happened, and the film Noah may or may not be an accurate representation of how it might have happened; there is no one that I know of that has enjoyed The Immortals under the pre-tense of it being historically accurate. (FYI using the dimensions of Noah’s arc given in the bible, and the amount of species that there are, each animal would have roughly the same amount of space as a water droplet.)

I would like to say a few things about this I Origins trailer, firstly, the scientist says he is only interested in proof, which as we all know, is horrendously unscientific. What he would be concerned with – were he an actual scientist – would be evidence, as nothing is ever ‘proven’ but just supported by a strong body of evidence. I will only address one more, ok two more points from this film trailer. The penultimate one being this line: “Check this out, there’s a girl born in India with Sophie’s exact iris pattern.” From which database is this scientist looking in order to see the iris of every newborn in India? I had more questions about this, line, but, I’m sure you can deduce a whole bunch of questions that this films more than likely won’t have been bothered enough to answer. The main issue I had was when a women asks Mr. Science the following: “What would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?”.

So this is really where this post is leading.

“What would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?”

Well, I imagine, being a scientist he would want to test it to see if it was indeed something outside the realm of scientific investigation. But wait, we aren’t talking about something spooky, we’re talking about something that would disprove science here. The scientific understanding – as I understand it – is that people don’t have souls and consciousness is just a function of the brain, which to me makes perfect sense. Your brain gets damaged, so does the power of cognition and things can be forgotten or impaired and so on. So, if the spiritual claim was that people are reincarnated and people’s old souls live on forever inhabiting new bodies, and that all scientific understanding about the brain and consciousness are “disproved” because of this, then I have so many questions for the propounder of this spiritual theory and – if there are any out there willing – I would like any and all answers if you believe you have them. They are the following:

30 Questions on Souls and Re-Incarnation. 
1. Are there a limited number of souls?
2. Does every soul become re-incarnated?
3. Have there always been 7 billion souls?
4. What happens when the population grows? Are new souls made?
5. What happens when the population shrinks? Are souls destroyed?
6. What makes or destroys the souls? Is that scientifically testable?
7. How is a soul made?
8. Are they stored ready for new people? Where?
9. Are there souls waiting to become new people right now?
10. If not every soul is re-incarnated, where do those ones go?
11. How do you tell if a soul is new or old? Is it always the eyes, or might it be freckle patterns or something else?
12. When switching from the old body to the new, where do the souls go?
13. Does this happen to other animals such as frogs?
14. If a human is re-incarnated as a frog, is the frog/human aware that this is what has happened? Are you a human soul in a frog body?
15. What does the soul do while the person is alive?
16. Neuro scientists understand pretty much all of the brain, and can piece that together to create the main traits of a personality. What does this say about what the soul is like without the brain?
17. When the brain is damaged, different parts of thinking are impaired. Will this transfer over to the soul? How do you know?
18. What does a soul look like?
19. Where do you find the soul in the body?
20. If you traded all the atoms in your body one at a time with someone else, would you get their soul too?
21. What happens when people have organ transplants? Do they get some of that person’s soul?
22. Could someone survive without a soul?
23. Does everyone have a soul?
24. How do I know if I am a new soul or an old soul from some time ago?
25. Will I be stalked by a creepy man who wants to be my lover because I have the same eyes as his ex-wife?
26. Does all spiritual theory “disprove scientific beliefs”?
27. Can science even work if you take the idea that spirituality could potentially disprove any understanding of it you may have? If no, how do you explain the fact that science works?
28. Can spirituality such as the concept of re-incarnated souls be tested?
29. If not, how can it disprove anything?
30. If yes, the floor is yours.

The Problem of Evil (free-will is not an answer)

Fellow Homo Sapiens,

The problem of evil has always been a trouble-maker when it comes to arguing for the existence of an all-loving god who allows such enormous suffering to continue. The most common – and quite frankly only – response that I get is: There is evil because we have been given free will.

By this I don’t believe they mean, you choose where you are born, who you are born to, under what circumstances you are born, because if they did, they would have a hard time explaining why so many babies choose to be born into abject poverty with HIV. By it they mean that ‘mankind’ has the potential to use his free will to choose to help everyone, but some use it to do ‘evil’ things. So in order to have a world where there is freedom of choice, one must be able to have the option of doing evil.

That sounds reasonable you may say, but to me it sounds like an argument that hasn’t really been thought through. For you see, when this notion of tying free will to evil acts enters the fray; it causes real problems for the notion of heaven. I think we can all agree that heaven (almost by definition) does not have any evil people or evil acts therein, so what does this say about free will?

There is no, and cannot be, evil in heaven.
Freewill causes evil.
Therefore, there is no freewill in heaven.

Does that syllogism follow logically? Yes. If you don’t believe that it does then you must point out where and why. I will run through a few answers I have had to this and rebut them.

1: “There is free will, but no evil.”
– This means one of two things. Either free-will is not the source of evil, or you get removed from heaven if you break any of god’s rules. But we all know that no one is perfect, so you are bound to slip up eventually – especially if you are sure that you will be in the afterlife for eternity. Not just one hundred billion years…eternity. Forever. It is guaranteed that everyone is going to end up in hell. This just further drills home the idea of a god who seems to find it amusing to test humans on what is the equivalent of testing a man on how well he can breastfeed.

2: “God has tested people on earth and so he knows that the good will be good and they can go to heaven because they won’t use their freewill for evil.”
– Ok, because we can’t take a scale on eternity/infinity, we shall use one hundred billion years (again). The average human lives for 70 years (ish) so it works out at around 0.000000007% of the time from that one hundred billion mark will be you being tested by god. This is the equivalent of you trusting someone completely to be on their best behaviour all the time, constantly, for 70 years, after only meeting them for approximately 1.5 seconds. But this isn’t even a fair comparison, because you aren’t going to be in the afterlife for one hundred billion years, you are going to be there forever. On that timescale, you would more or less never have even met the person you have to trust for your whole life.

Ok, you could say, well god is god and he will know that you will be good forever. To which everyone’s answer should be: “Well then why is god even bothering to test us?” He already knew at the start of the universe which of us would be going to heaven or hell anyway right?

This last point ties in the last reason I will give as to why the problem of evil is not solved when positing free-will and an omniscient god. This omniscient god – by definition – knows everything. He knows who will be evil, and he knows it before they’re born. If this all knowing god doesn’t know how to create a universe that would omit people like Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, etc. then he is not all knowing. And before I go on with this thread that I know most of you know where it is heading, I will just leave you with the quote from Epicurus:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Review: God’s Not Dead The Movie (The Real Cases)

I was going to just do a review of the film, but the rolling credits provided a far more interesting form of review. The black screen shows at the end and the following is written:

God’s Not Dead The Movie was inspired by the following
legal cases where the University Students and Campus
Ministries were condemned for their faith

Ok, I thought, these must be really out of order instances where people were – as the above says – condemned simply for believing in something. Not acting in a certain way, or prohibiting someone else from practicing their faith, just for having it. For shame, I thought. I should look into these because, as Voltaire said: “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Your right to say it, not your right to enforce it upon me with law that is. So without further ado, let’s check out these cases (references at the bottom).

(1) Ward v Wilbanks et al.
A student in a counseling program claims a right to discriminate against clients who wish to discuss same-sex relationships on the grounds that it violates her religious beliefs.” So Julia Ward is being made out to be the victim in this situation? She is losing her right to discriminate against others and she is the victim? Well knock me down with a feather, we MUST right this wrong!…The result? Well the film tells us of course, Ward won in an appeal and East Michigan University settled out of court for unfair dismissal I assume. Disgusting.

(2) BADGER CATHOLIC INC UW v. WALSH
This is a long article, but basically, a University charges students a fee that it brings together to use for all extra curricular activities. It was abiding by the first amendment when a religious group (Badger) ask for funding. “[The University] is willing to use student activity fees for what it calls dialog, discussion, or debate from a religious perspective, but not for anything that it labels worship, proselytizing, or religious instruction.” Seems fair enough. But then “having decided that counseling programs are within the scope of the activity fee, the University cannot exclude those that offer prayer as one means of relieving the anxiety that many students experience.” Long story short, these guys wanted funding and couldn’t hack it that it was unconstitutional and so, court case. Now they get funding to preach and worship. What is wrong with going to the churches to worship (the ones that get billion dollar tax breaks) I do not know.

(3) Keeton v Anderson-Wiley et. al.
This is very much along the same lines as the first case. A disgusting demonstration of ignorance rather than religious freedom. I shall quote: “Keeton ascribes absolute truth to the proposition that homosexuality is an immoral lifestyle choice rather than an immutable state of being, and she endorses a universal moral prescription against homosexual conduct. According to Keeton, her opinions regarding homosexuality derive from her Christian faith.” Thankfully in this instance, The court of appeal ruled against Keeton.

(4) Christian Legal Society v Russell
This case forces a University to accept the CLS as student organisation. And also, conveniently promotes student neutral funding. Meaning of course, CLS can get money from the student funding…Amazing. This is from the CLS Website:

THE CLS STATEMENT OF FAITH

All officers, directors, members, advisory council members, and staff of CLS shall, as a condition of their employment or membership in CLS, acknowledge in writing their acceptance of, and agreement with the following Statement of Faith, as set forth in Article II, Section 1 of CLS’ corporate by-laws, as amended:

Trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I believe in:

  • One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
  • The Deity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; His vicarious death for our sins through which we receive eternal life; His bodily resurrection and personal return.
  • The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration.
  • The Bible as the inspired Word of God.

That doesn’t seem very neutral to me. You can only be in employment if you accept that statement of faith. This sounds remarkably unconstitutional. Doesn’t the Establishment Clause say “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…? To say that you cannot have university funding for your religious group is not prohibiting you from practicing your faith elsewhere; but to rule in favour of respecting this religious establishment is not right.

(5) Lopez v Candaele
Lopez (the student) made a speech proselytising and quoting from the bible that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The teacher got upset and did not allow him to finish his speech. Instead of giving him a grade he wrote: “Ask God what your grade is”…ace. The student got an A somehow, even though a few students complained that they were (quite rightly) offended by the speech. Lopez tried to sue them regarding their sexual harassment policy and the court ruled in favour of the school in the end because Lopez didn’t have a leg to stand on.

(6) Sklar v Clough
This has to be one of the more serious cases if we are referring to the outrage that modern moral society should be feeling, because I know I am. “the plaintiffs accused the Institute of “religious indoctrination” through its Safe Space program, whose purpose is to “provide a supportive environment for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) members of the campus community” and “facilitate their ‘coming out’ process.” I am really trying my hardest here to understand which religion it is that ensures the LGBT community feel safe and feel like they are just as valued members of the world as anyone else. Nope, not a one. I’m sure you’d like to hear what it was really about though. So here:“The plaintiffs claimed that Tech’s “speech code” contained unconstitutional guidelines regulating the speech and actions of individuals and student organizations as well as the locations where such opinions can be expressed.” Well my goodness, someone should be suing this University then! What does the speech code say?: “Under the code, disciplinary action ranging from warnings to expulsion was prescribed for Acts of Intolerance directed against a person because of his or her race, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, etc.”
Well I never, it says you can be punished for discriminating against gay people…who saw that coming? Anyone? The prosecution won and changes had to be made to the speech codes.

(7) Kenneth Howell, University of Illinois
Ken Howell was fired for describing why homosexual acts are morally wrong. Not just once, but in class and then in follow up e-mails. Yep. I would have fired him too. That is a disgusting thing for a university professor to espouse. But…guess what guys and gals! He was re-instated! Another *win* for the Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom.

(8) Sheeran v Shea
Another ADF case. A group of students were holding a pro-life campaign the university said: “[they would face disciplinary measures] if they chose to hold a pro-life event on campus because the information they were sharing with other students was deemed “discriminatory” and did not include a pro-abortion viewpoint.” The ADF lawyers say “Christian pro-life students shouldn’t be silenced, discriminated against, and threatened with expulsion for attempting to share their beliefs on public college campuses”. The public square is no place for religion, we all know this. If there was a pro-abortion campaign then you can bet your bottom dollar that the ADF would be up in arms because it was “religious indoctrination”. What rubbish.

I could go on and on and on. This is all trash and the vast majority if not all of the cases are being brought to court by ADF – ironically enough only defending their specific freedom, not all.

People, you are not being condemned for your faith, and you are most certainly not the victim if your ability to discriminate is being removed, or if you are asking for something that is not permitted in the law.
You are just a moron for thinking so.

References

(1) https://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/ward-v-wilbanks-et-al-case-profile
(2) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1536916.html
(3) http://www.splc.org/pdf/keeton_district.pdf
(4) http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/5034
(5) http://www.lcwlegal.com/79938
(6) http://nique.net/news/2008/05/23/sklar-v-clough-case-resolves/
(7) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/15/kenneth-howell-firing-rev_n_647630.html
(8) http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/3116

Christianity as a form of Deism

A few days ago I was discussing with some Christian friends of mine, what they think of Jesus. Without delving into the intricacies of the conversation, it seemed to come out that the existence of the man wasn’t terribly important, but more the philosophy of his teachings – as a philosopher. The phrase “I think of Jesus as the greatest philosopher” did appear and this set me down this course of thinking.

I have conversed with those that believe the resurrection is vital and of enormous significance, but surprisingly, a vast number of Christians I have spoken to focus more on the ‘teachings’ provided in the new testament (well, those that they agree with anyway) rather than the resurrection. The philosopher Jesus is an interesting concept realised by Thomas Jefferson with his book “The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Moral Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth” whereby he removed all parts of the NT that related to the supernatural and reprinted what remained.

The understanding that was provided to me by my friends, was that the behaviour – as they understood it – of Jesus was the ideal version of what a human could be. Ultimate forgiveness, and ultimate love. I mentioned that Jesus says that if you don’t believe in him you will be damned [to hell] (Mark 16:16) and to me this does not seem like forgiveness; however, they understood how the bible and the gospels are apocryphal at best, and so this seems as though it has been inserted by those wishing to take control in order to distort the real teachings of the man they hold in such high esteem.

The question leaped out of me somewhat automatically: “If the resurrection is not important to you, but the philosopher of Jesus is, then is your belief not just Deism with an enormous respect for a certain first century philosopher?”

In this case, existence is not important at all, because the principles of thought are still there. Such is the case with Socrates. He may not have existed, but even if he was a made up character of Plato, then the ideas still exist and are still valid. Such is not the case with a Jesus that proved he is god by dying and rising. If he didn’t exist, the entire validity of Christianity itself collapses, the idea that you must be baptised, the idea that you are endangering your soul if you don’t believe it, in short, everything regarding the supernatural is reduced to ash.

I know there are many Christians who think this way. That Jesus was a great moral teacher when all is said and done. But so were many, and so were many who said what he said, before he (was reported to have) said it. I therefore put it to you that if you think this way, you could look at the Buddha’s moral teachings from India around 560 years before Jesus, or Confucius’ analects from China around the same time as Buddha, or some of Seneca’s words on moral teachings around the time of Jesus. There are many moral teachers espousing the golden rule all over the world.

So is this version of Christianity not simply Deism with respect for a particular philosopher? I fail to see the distinction. I think though, the reason for the label of Christian as opposed to Deist, is that you probably then have to explain what a deist is, or feel that Jesus is so much of an example, that labelling yourself according to his attributed teachings is appropriate. Like Dawkins labelling himself a Darwinian. The difference though, is that ‘Christ’ is the Hellenistic translation of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ – implying supernatural ties. And so I repeat, Deism with a respect and admiration for a first century philosopher.