Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The illogic of belief

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 22, 2010

Via Unreasonable Faith we get this straight to the point comic:

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God of the Gaps – Tree lobsters style

Posted in Fun, Humorous, Tree Lobsters by Skepdude on April 12, 2010

The Tree Lobsters have done it again!

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God is

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 26, 2010

I was taking the subway to work in NYC this morning when an add caught my eye. It was a bunch of words with the large letters “God Is” in the middle of it. The add belongs to the Times Square Church, a church which I attended once at the request of a friend of mine who was trying to save me I guess. Needless to say I was underimpressed by both the preaching and the singing. I particularly didn’t enjoy having to stand up every few minutes or so; made taking a nap hard.

Nevertheless I went to the website of the TSC and found an image of the ad which I am reproducing below:

You can read more about the add campain at the Times Square Church website. Here is a listing of the statements that make up the ad, as shown on the TSC website, with my comments in red.

The ads describe God in just a few of the infinite ways He will prove His presence to you every day.

God is…

  • With you - So are all imaginary friends
  • Willing to help - Tell that to the people of Haiti
  • Able to protect - Tell THAT to the people of Haiti
  • A father - Yes we get it; you’re a patriarchal religion, get over it
  • A husband to the widow - He’ll be in much demand in Haiti
  • Your friend – Would a friend let you get crushed alive by brick and cement? Didn’t think so!
  • For you – I’m not sure what being “for you” means, but I’m sure the PEOPLE OF HAITI would disagree
  • Aware of your struggle – Peeping Tom
  • Powerful – It takes mighty power to destroy Port-au-Prince
  • Merciful – Didn’t even blink to kill over 150,000 in Haiti. Now that’s mercy if I’ve ever seen it!
  • Good – I guess killing hundreeds of thousands within hours can be construed as good in his infinite wisdom!
  • Provider – Of death and suffering
  • A good listener – When he feels like it
  • The one with your answer – But you’ve gotta tithe to get to that answer
  • The one who loved you – Loved as in past tense. So did my ex-girlfriend. I still call her EX!
  • And always will be – What a joy!
  • There when no one else is – Except that he’s not really
  • Power to change – Yeah such as changing the course of events in Haiti?
  • Incredible – Incredibly cruel that is
  • Alive – Unfortunately?
  • Ready to forgive – Are we ready to forgive HIM?
  • Looking at you – Stop it you pervert! I’ve already got enough of that from Santa!
  • Here, now – Where?
  • Jesus – Whatever, you can call him whatever you want. My imaginary friend’s name was Jessy.

HEADLINE OF INTEREST

Over 150000 Killed in Port-au-Prince by Earthquake

Thank you God!

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I get mail too – somebody wants to hook up with me

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 10, 2009

I got this e-mail today. It does not appear to be related to the blog (come on where are you angry e-mailers?) but I thought I’d share as I find it amuzing:

Hello
How are you today? I hope you are fine.If so thank be to God almighty.My name is Rose Timbo,26 years from Sierra Loene  in West Africa.I am single girl looking for honest and nice person. Somebody who care and fear God whom i can partner with .I don’t care about your colour or ethnicity.I would like to know you more,most especially what you like and what you dislike.I’m sending you this beautiful mail, with a wish for much happiness.I am looking forward to hear from you.Love from,
Rose.
I sent this response back:
Dear Rose,
I am fine today, thank you for asking. I hope this entry finds you in good health as well. I regret to inform you that the “almighty” god had nothing to do with my well being. You sound like an interesting person, but I don’t think we’d be a good match. Besides the fact that I am married, I also do not fear god or care for him. I am honest and nice though, to people who deserve it.  My dislikes should be fairly obvious from my blog. My likes are too many and too varied to be discussed in writing.  Thank you for your happiness wishes, I wish you the same.
Was I too rude?
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Stuff God Hates – #81 Hopes and Dreams

Posted in Stuff God Hates by Skepdude on August 3, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT STUFF GOD HATES


Prepare thyself, he who reads this, to tremble and quake before the Incredible Word of God, as written by THE LORD HIMSELF!

I hate hopes and I hate dreams! They violate My Divine Plan! How dare you humans lounge around and dream of ways to thwart My Divine Plan?

If I made you a gravedigger, then stay a gravedigger and be glad I don’t have you arrested. Don’t spend your days praying of becoming a porno star.*

Many people start bugging Me with this shit from a very young age. For example, I recently had a young boy who wanted to become a pilot when he grew up. But I’d already decided to give him awful 20/60 vision. But did that stop him? No. That dumbass spent his whole life bugging Me with his prayers to become a pilot. And yet he ended up becoming a pizza delivery boy with a acute addiction to Robitussin and Jack Daniels anyway, just as I’d always intended.

All these little hopes and dreams and all the wishing and the begging is just pathetic! I don’t much appreciate that which is pathetic.

Life is not fair, ok? It’s not fair, and I never said it would be fair.

Was life ever fair in The Bible? NO! Some men are born to be slaves of other men, some women are born to be raped by their fathers, and that’s just the way it is! Some things will never change. I am what I am and it is what it is!

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT STUFF GOD HATES

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How to avoid answering a simple question…Christian Style!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 26, 2009

The question is simple. It has been asked many a times. It has never been answered, not even attempted to be answered honestly. This time it is no different!

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To everyone who wants prayer in American public schools

Posted in Saganist by Skepdude on July 1, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE SAGANIST.

To everyone who wants prayer in American public schools: I say fine. That’s a great idea. In fact, it would be much more convenient, especially for the dhuhr, if it were led by school officials. That way, no students would have to worry about drawing attention to themselves when they take out their individual prayer mats at whatever time they deem best. After the recitation of adhan and iqama over the public address system, the gym would probably be the best place to gather for school prayer. That way, everyone can say the prayer together and no one will feel left out. There could even be markings on the gym wall to ensure that everyone knows the exact direction to Mecca.

prayerWhat’s that you say? You don’t want to take part in these prayers? I will remind you that Allah’s mercy is great for those who believe in him and obey, but he has little patience for infidels. Nevertheless, you will not be forced to take part in school prayer. You may sit around the edges of the gym and watch. Everyone is free to participate or not. There’s no need to feel you are being discriminated against, just because you choose not to take part in the historic American tradition of school prayer.

You’re still not satisfied with this arrangement? I thought you were the one who wanted school prayer in the first place! Oh, I see… you only want school prayer in the manner of your religion. Well, I’m sorry to say that not everyone believes in your religion, and we can’t have school prayers for every possible religion! That would be ridiculous! Why don’t you just pray silently to your own god while everyone else is reciting the school prayer?

Still not good enough? Okay, how about this compromise. Instead of trying to shove any particular religion into public schools, why don’t we just focus on educating the students instead?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE SAGANIST.

God is merciful, but only if you’re a man

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 8, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

There is plenty to criticise in Islam‘s view of women. Last year, the Observer told the story of a man in Basra who stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed to death his 17-year-old daughter for becoming infatuated with a British soldier. The relationship apparently amounted to a few conversations, but her father learnt she had been seen in public talking to the soldier. When the Observer talked to Abdel-Qader Ali two weeks later, he said: “Death was the least she deserved. I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion.”

This was clearly extreme, but the truth is that the God many people believe in – whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish – hates women. Take America’s Southern Baptist Convention, which declares in its faith and mission statement: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” That’s fair enough, isn’t it? After all, he’s probably stronger than she is.

Or there’s the Catholic church. The Pope put things more suavely in an address in 2008: “Faced with cultural and political trends that seek to eliminate, or at least cloud and confuse, the sexual differences inscribed in human nature, considering them a cultural construct, it is necessary to recall God’s design that created the human being masculine and feminine, with a unity and at the same time an original difference.” The insistence on difference is the necessary first step to insisting on inequality and subordination and it is a step that popes have been taking at regular intervals for decades.

In November 2006, Nicaragua enacted a ban on all abortion, with no exceptions, even to save the mother’s life. The law was ratified by the National Assembly in September 2007. Both the original enactment and the vote in September 2007 were widely attributed to the influence of the Catholic church. In a report this month, the United Nations Committee against torture called Nicaragua’s total ban on abortion a violation of human rights.

Then there is Judaism. In one neighbourhood in Jerusalem, religious seminaries flank streets with yellow signs that warn: “If you’re a woman and you’re not properly dressed – don’t pass through our neighbourhood.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

On miracles

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on June 2, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

As I’ve often mentioned in this blog, philosopher David Hume famously said that “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish,” setting the bar for believing in miracles properly high.

Unfortunately, many people blatantly ignore Hume’s advice, moving that bar so low that banal coincidences suddenly count as “miracles,” reinforcing their preexisting supernaturalist view of the world. One such instance took place in the q&a session after a nice talk I attended a few days ago at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. The talk was by Lawrence Bush, author of Waiting for God: The Spiritual Reflections of a Reluctant Atheist.

Bush gave an eminently sensible talk, starting out with the common observation of coincidences to which human beings attribute special meaning (a secular version of Carl Jung’s discredited idea of “syncronicity”). As Bush wryly commented at one point, while it is a good idea to pause and reflect on what happens to us in life, it is rather egomaniacal to imagine that the universe is sending us messages (often through catastrophes, personal or affecting others) just so that we can learn from our experiences.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, given the somewhat new-agey flavor of some (but by all means not all!) chapters of the Society for Ethical Culture, the q&a was as irritating as Bush’s talk had been level headed. One questioner in particular related a touching story of his adoptive grandmother being diagnosed with cancer and given six months life expectancy. The grandson reacted constructively to that abysmal prediction, using the remaining time to travel with his grandma to places where she had always wanted to go. Turns out the woman lived three years, which allowed for more travel and what I’m sure are indelibly good memories.

But then the grandson went back to the doctor and pointedly asked: “You said six months, she lived three years. What are the chances of that?” To which the doctor apparently replied with a no-nonsense (if a bit insensitive, assuming things really went that way) “One in seven hundred.” The conclusion of the story is that the questioner asked “What is the difference between 1/700 and a miracle?” strongly implying that his grandmother had of course been the beneficiary of a miracle.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”


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Uncommon Descent-Uncommon “logic”?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 5, 2009

I just love it when believers try to make a rational case for belief in their God. It is comical to see how they twist themselves into pretzels in the effort of making a rational argument, and failing miserably. Uncommon Descent has an entry called “Is Belief in God Unreasonable” in which the author was so impressed with a commenter’s comment that he decided it deserved its own entry. In some previous entry a commenter by the name of Beelzebub had written the following:

Hart presumably considers the non-contingent ground of being to be the Christian God. This in itself seems to be an unwarranted assumption. Why must existence be underwritten by a god at all, much less the specific personal God of the Christians?

Which is a very good question, especially the part about the Christian God. This is a line of reasoning that I have been using a lot lately. Every “rational” argument given for the existence of God purports to prove the existence of a God, but there is nothing about any such argument that can be construed to imply the existence of the Christian God specifically. In other words a Christian apologists touting the Argument from Design, the Argument from First Cause, the Argument from Morality,  has just proved the existence of Allah! So let’s see how well the responding commenter handled Beelzebub’s question.

1. Chance, Necessity or Agency?

There are only three general ways of explaining any given state of affairs: we can explain it as the outcome of chance, necessity or agency (or some combination of the above).

Heard that. We know what’s coming next. We discard out of hand Chance and necessity and that leaves Agency alone. Ta daaaa, God is proved.  Of course this has been debunked thoroughly and the obvious objection is : If everything is due to either Chance, Necessity or Agency, as they claim, and we wave away the first two, then everything is due to Agency, thus the Agency itself is due to some other Agency, which in turn is due to some other Agency and so on to infinity. The only way you can get out of this vicious cycle is if you assume that at some point one Agency came into existence either as a product of Chance, Necessity or a combination (which is what “God always was” really means). But if you are allowing that the Agency must have come from Chance and/or Necessity, how can you wave them away to begin your argument. This argument collapses completely once one makes the important step of following the logic to where it leads.

And look at this gem:

Necessity alone cannot explain the cosmos either, for if it did, the cosmos would itself be necessary – which it is manifestly not.

Talk about circular reasoning.  I will assume the cosmos is not necessary to prove that necessity does not explain its existence. Wow, where did these folks learn logic?

I can’t even begin to understand his #2 Argument from the Immateriality … it is such a load of crap that would get you laughed out of  an Introduction to Philosophy, or Logic 101 class.

3. The Argument from Design

Not only is the Universe contingent; it also possesses certain properties (e.g. fine-tuning; functional complex specified information) which make it overwhelmingly probable that it is the creation of an Intelligent Designer. An Intelligent Designer of the cosmos could also be called God.

Yep, we’ve seen this one before too.  It also goes by the name of Argument from Ignorance. What it is basically saying is that the Universe is so complex and wonderful, and we do not have an explanation for everything in it and how it operates, therefore God. Nevertheless admitting ignorance, which we must in relation to the mysteries of the Cosmos, and making the Leap to the Personal God are two completely different things. If we go along with this line of reasoning they cannot, under any circumstance, tell me that the Designer is not the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Do these people not see the shortcomings of such “arguments”?

4. The Argument from the Intelligibility of the Cosmos

Putting it another way: an Intelligence is the only thing that can guarantee that the cosmos will remain intelligible, no matter what.

I must say this is a new one for me. So there must be a God because we humans have evolved enough to understand a little of how the Universe works. Wow! The Universe is intelligible, yes to some extent, for example we have no idea what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are, even though we’re pretty sure they’re there. But how in the hell can one claim the above? What possible reason do they have to say that a universe that is the product of “chance and necessity” would be unintelligible? Why? How can you claim that it would not? Except of course if you’re not making arguments, and are just throwing around unsubstantiated statements. We can all do that. Here I go on the record : Any universe, regardless it’s cause of existence, would be intelligible! Period. Why should your claim have any more weight than mine?

5. The Argument from the Reliability of Thought

This line of argument seeks to show that a personal God is the only kind of entity that explain why I can trust the workings of my own mind.

Heh, so the existence of an imaginary friend in your mind is the only assurance you can have in the workings of said mind? What this is saying is that without God we’d be raving lunatics, that we could not rely on what our mind is telling us. So what this person is trying to say is : I know I exist, I know I think (rationally presumably) but I can’t trust any of that unless there is a Sky Daddy? The logic of this line of “thinking” escapes me. Usually I try to understand the other’s logic and see if there is something wrong with it, but in this case there is no logic to speak of, just a weird, self loathing statement of inferiority! I refuse to think of myself in such low terms!

Believers, I respect you more if you say you just believe, period, no particular reason. If you tell me you feel God’s presence I cannot argue witht that. You feel what you feel, and that’s all there is to it. But take my advice, stop making yourself a lauging stock by trying to argue why God exists. Logic and reason are not your friend in this endeavour.

Also note how the responder did not address the important question at all. How do any of these arguments argue for the Christian God as opposed to any other God?

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