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All articles in Atheism

Liveblogging the Rapture
18:09
It seems the rapture isn't today after all as the world is still here and no people have been spotted floating into the clouds. This is kind of a bummer. Maybe the calculations were off or something. Or maybe some bastard prayed really hard for it not to happen. I guess we'll know soon enough as christian scientists the world all over will scrabble to make sense of this.

13:15
It appears that so far no one in New Zealand, Australia or China has been raptured. This is not very surprising really.

12:39
The folks at rapturefail seem to think the rapture won't be coming today. Surely that can't be right?

12:33
10 things IT groups need to know about The Rapture includes the following: "2. Hit upper management for expanded IT funding.
Explain The Rapture to them as the ultimate cloud initiative. They won't know what you're talking about, but they know the cloud is cool and important. They'll just keep nodding as they sign the checks." This is so true it's scary.

11:42
Fear not. I wasn't raptured overnight. According to the Guardian the whole thing starts off at 6 PM local time anyway.

1:05
Some fireworks outside a few blocks away just now. I presume someone's celebrating their relatives being raptured. These are the first clear and unambiguous signs we've had people. This is the day!

00:30
So far rapture day is a bit of a bummer. Think I'll go to bed but I'll close my window so I don't float out half-way through the night.

21-05-2011 00:05
I gave it a few minutes but nothing so far. I have no idea what time this starts but I'm sure we'll see signs and portents soon.

20-05-2011 23:54
The night before rapture day.
So far scenes are calm all over the city but I expect that will soon end.

Mind like a sieve
Jesus fuck, it was international blasphemy day yesterday and I forgot. I hope you'll excuse me this goddamned transgression.

Spelling suggestion ftw!
They say that the longer you have a pet the more it starts to resemble you. I have that with my phone.


A cure has been found
Looks like we have a definite cure for religion. Instead of polarising the debate we should be marrying into faiths and destroy them from within!

Did fornicating Farm Girls boost the rise of atheism in Britain?

Draw Mohammed Day
Heh, apparently today is Draw Mohammed day. I didn't know about this until I saw a post on Slashdot reporting Facebook was banned in Pakistan because of this.

Way to go extremist idiots, if you hadn't overreacted I and millions of others probably wouldn't have known about it.

I couldn't draw a simple snake to save my life but I gave it a go anyway.


Happy freedom of speech everyone.

Dealing with an insane pope
Pope 'could cancel UK visit' over 'offensive' Foreign Office memo.

I hope all concerned are ashamed of themselves and it leaves a very unpleasant taste.

Indeed, how dare some godless non-catholics presume to teach the catholic church about morality! How dare they just say things which are true, how dare they call out the pope on his ass-backwards dark-age era sentiments!

The following list actually doesn't sound like that big a deal to me, most of the items on here I'd do in a heartbeat. But then I am probably a lot more sane and a lot more humane than an organisation which holds the lives of millions in its hand, is abusing its power and has done so for hundreds of years. I have also never raped someone, not even a child. Which probably makes me unfit to judge, unlike pope Rat who did all he could to cover up scandals and protect the guilty.

Bullet points from the memo:
  • Launch of 'Benedict' condoms
  • Review of Vatican attitude on condom use
  • Bless a civil partnership
  • Reversal of policy on women bishops/ordain woman
  • Open an abortion ward
  • Speech on equality
  • Statement on views over adoption (change of stance)
  • Training course for all bishops on child abuse allegations
  • Harder line on child abuse—announce sacking of dodgy bishops
  • Vatican sponsorship for network of AIDS clinics
  • Meet young unemployed people
  • Apologize for… …
  • Canonise/pseudo canonise a group
  • Announce whistle blowing system for child abuse cases
  • Go to job centre
  • Debate on abortion
  • All catholic schools should be free entry to all
  • Speech on democracy
  • Vatican and C of E funded committee on dialogue
  • Launch helpline for abused children

That unpleasant taste you have? It's called "a dawning realisation that your entire life is a lie".


Update: The Guardian has an interesting article that shows just how much British officials are falling over backwards to make sure dear old pope Rat doesn't have to face reality or consequences for the catholic church's (in)actions.

How I became an atheist - pt. 3
Roger Ebert: Jesus was a Nazi. So's your preacher:
"Nowhere does Jesus say, Hey, if somebody asks for your shirt, give your coat to the government and have the government give them a pair of slacks." Well, Beck has me there. It is quite true that nowhere does Jesus say that. Nor, for that matter, does he ever say, A wop bop a lu bop, a wop bam boom!

And that is why I am an atheist. It seems to me that a faith that has such wondrous things as angels (9 different kinds!), talking snakes, splitting seas, transforming water into wine, women made out of spare ribs and a whole lot of smiting and begetting should have a saviour that says things like "A wop bop a lu bop". It makes about as much sense as anything else.

Seriously, these guys are just making it up as they go along: The Nine Choirs of Angels. The people that believe in this kind of fluff have tremendous power over humanity, through institutions like the catholic church and religious politicians. That scares me. A lot. And what makes it even scarier is that somehow we have to engage these people on an equal footing and "respect" their beliefs and engage in a constructive dialog.

These people are batshit insane! I wouldn't trust them with my house keys, let alone trust them to do what's best for an entire country or the world.

How I became an atheist - pt. 2
Seeing as I made part 1 of my series on how I became an atheist about music it is of course not surprising that I make part 2 about music as well. Yes, music did play a huge part of my life in my formative years, and I am taking this opportunity to relive my youth (heck, I am a few days away from 40th birthday so don't begrudge me this).

Part 2 is really not as easy to encapsulate in 1 blogpost so I'm going to link to the entire album Hammerheart by Bathory.
Read the lyrics and understand the following:
This is an album about the ancient vikings, who were living their lives and then got "converted" to christianity. It's a shocking example of how a proud race (with detestable morals, to be sure) got neutered.
Groooveshark has got a few songs from the album Hammerheart if you care to register.

Yes, as the songs testify to, the ancient Vikings had a religion before christianity but Christianity was forced upon them and this was not done by reason but rather by the power of the sword.

To get the whole context I suggest you read through the lyrics of the whole album Hammerheart and pay particular attention to part 7: One Rode To Asa Bay.

Here is the story of a proud race beaten down by force and the sword of Christ. The Christ of love and forgiveness!? Or so they tell us anyway...
Of course the morals of the ancient vikings are questionable in today's light, but is it much different from today's interventions in the middle east? Or the appropriation of the promised land in the late 1940s?
How many UN resolutions has Israel ignored in the past 60 years? And what consequences has it really faced?

My answer would be a lot and remarkably little, respectively.
The power of religion is all around us and it shapes our countries' foreign policies to a stunning degree. More so than many atheist would care to admit to.
One man rode the way through the woods
Down to Asa bay
Where dragon ships had sailed to sea
More times than one could say
To see with own eyes the wonder
People told of from man to man
The God of all almightyness
Had arrived from a foreign land

The rumours told of a man
Who had come from the other side the seas
Carrying gold cross around neck in chain
And spoke in strange tongue of peace
He had come with strange men in armour
Dressed in purple shirts and lace
Smelling not of beer but flowers
And with no hair in face

And the bold man carrying cross
Had told all one of Asa bay
The God of all man woman child had come
To them all save
And to thank Lord of Heaven
One should build to God a house
And to save one's soul from Hell
One should be baptised and say vows

A man of pride with the Hammer told new God
To build his house on own
And spoke loud of the Gods of their fathers
Not too long time gone
The rumours said the man with a beard like fire
And the Hammer in chain
By men in armour silenced was and by
Their swords was slain

Those who did not pay the one coin
Of four to man of new God
Whipped was twenty and put in chains then locked
By their neck to the log (To the log...)
And so all of Asa bay did build
A house of the cross
Every hour of daylight they did sweat
Limbs ached because faith does cost

And on the day two hundred
There it stood white to the sky
The house of the God of the cross
Big enough to take two dragon ships inside
And all of Asa bay did watch
The wonder raise to the sky
Now must the God of the cross be pleased
And satisfied

Just outside the circle of the crowd
One old man did stand
He looked across the waters
And blotted the sun out of his eyes with one hand
And his old eyes could almost see
The dragon ships set sail
And his old ears could almost hear
Men of great numbers call out Oden's hail

And though he did know already
Though he turned face towards sky
And whispered silent words forgotten
Spoken only way up high
Now this house of a foreign God does stand
Now must they leave us alone
Still he heard from somewhere in the woods
Old crow of wisdom say
...people of Asa land, it's only just begun...

[Dedicated to Mr. Dean Andersson]

Bathory - hammerheart (1990) - One Rode To Asa Bay





"it's only just begun..."



how true that is.

How I became an atheist - pt. 1
There's many paths to becoming an atheist, here's part 1 of my story. Though it's not really part 1 - I was a conscious atheist a few years before 1989 - but it's as good a place to start as any. I may or may not post further parts, depending on how I feel or on what enters my mind.

Oh instrument of God force -
Fed on ignorance and lies,
So blind and narrow-minded
That you cannot compromise.
Even the most foolish thief
Should know what he is taking -
Lest he find himself within a
Cage of his own making.
The Ways of Wyrd are many and
Our path you must decide,
For the secrets that you seek
Are all around you-
Use your eyes.
The threads cannot be broken
That have brought you here to me -
And bind two foes together
Like the best of enemies.

You gaze upon me -
I can tell what you see,
A simple man -
With simple thoughts and simple needs.
Superstition -
Preying on a mind filled with fear,
Opposition-
To all your 'enlightened' ideas.
Yet I will show you more than
You can comprehend,
Beware delusion is a
Dangerous friend.

Ask loaded questions seeking
Knowledge of a faith that
You wish to pervert -
All our values,
With hidden meanings
You try concealing your
Underlying wish to convert -
'heathen' souls,

To a faith that will doubtless
Send our Gods to the grave -
Mistake you're making overlooking
The fact that we might not want
To be 'saved'.

THE SORCERERS CREED:
Fear is an old friend of mine,
We have met many times before.
(Drawn to these spirits like
Moths to a flame-
When there is no risk then
There can be no gain).
Death is a harsh fact of life
You cannot avoid or ignore.

The Life-force is as strong in
You as it is strong in me,
The difference is what you
Hold captive I set free.
You seek to subjugate all

Those who won't comply,
I'll take your prejudice and
Pride and show you why -
The values that you hold so dear
(all your laws and rules),
They hold no more sway here
Than the mutterings of fools.
Just look about you and
I'm sure that you will find -
Heaven lies within our hearts
And Hell is but a figment of
Your mind.

These teachings that you deem so
Sacred become words devoid of meaning,
When compared unto a faith that

Preaches something worth believing.
What is to become of us when
Truth is turned to lies,
Will none remain to wipe the tears
When Mother Nature cries?

Mother Nature cries!

Proceed with caution -
Subservient to all you survey,
Hidden dangers await us on
Each step of our way.
Do not falter -
For if you do you do you will fall,
Prey unto perils far worse
Than you've encountered before.
Compared unto the threats we face
Your devil seems so mild,
A relic from the faerie-tales my
Mother told me as a child.

Why do you carry your God
Like a weapon -
A dagger drawn ready to strike
At the heart of a foe when you
Don't really know the reason
That you fight? -
To replace our disgrace with
The 'loving' embrace of your Lord -
Can't you see that the plans
Made for me and my people
To us seem absurd.

THE SORCERORS CREED:
Death is the only recourse
I require in my hour of need.
(Drawn to the spirits like
Moths to a flame -
When there is no risk then
There can be no gain).

Impassive it shows no remorse
For folly and greed.

Pre-emptive prejudice has
Dogmatised your life,
These blinkered views that once
Held true will no longer suffice.
For in my world there is no point
Where you can draw the line,
'twixt good and evil,
Saint and sinner,
Damnate and divine.
Shaven-headed servant of
An infantile faith -
By what right do you presume
To come and take my place?
If there is one grain of truth
Amidst your hoard of lies, 'tis
"Love your neighbour as yourself"

With this alone I can abide.

These teachings that you deem so
Sacred bcome words devoid of meaning,
When compared unto a faith that
Preaches something worth believing.
What is to become of us when
Truth is turned to lies,
Will none remain to wipe the tears
When Mother Nature cries?

Mother Nature cries!

THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR
When living your life
Like an arrow in flight
You must always accept that
The end is in sight,
Be grateful at least for the fact
That you knew you came to death -

He did not come for you.

You are like targets
Who sit and await -
Patiently suffer
The arrows of fate,
Saying "I am but mortal
And destined to die -
I can change nothing
So why should I try?"

Each morning you wake is an
'ember day' dawning,
Your penance for living in
Permanent mourning.
By erstwhile ideals your
Hearts are enslaved,
You crawl out of the cradle
Straight into the grave.
What reward is a banquet
Of red wine and bread,
When you hunger for life -

But on death you are fed?

Do not underestimate
The task you undertake,
Overcome your hopes and fears
And meet them face to fate.
These spirits aren't your enemies -
But neither are they friends,
Do not dare insult them lest
All nature you offend.
They who were here before us
Will remain when we have gone,
And though we're long forgotten
Still their memory will live on.
Perhaps one day mankind will see
The error of it's ways,
And in it's future glimpse
Reflections of our yesterdays.

Drawn to these spirits like
Moths to a flame -
When there is no risk
Then there can be no gain.


Lyrics from Sabbat - Dreamweaver (1989) - The Best Of Enemies as found on the internets and slightly modified by me for spelling.

Dreamweaver incorrectly attributed as Dreamweavers

Use your words!
Ah, language. If it hadn't been invented yet we'd have to jump through a lot of hoops to mock the foolish.

Column: Hate, in the name of science
Christians may refer to themselves as a "flock," but they aren't sheep. It takes courage to say you believe in something that can't be proven. When scientists formulate hypotheses, they are vulnerable to critique, and they must conduct research to remove all doubt. Religious believers must deal with the same vulnerability, but with the knowledge that they can never prove the existence of a God. Religion takes bravery.

To which commenter DuckPhup responded:
I'm afraid that you seem to be unable to differentiate 'courage' and 'bravery' from gullibility, self-deception, self-delusion, irrationality, willful ignorance, intellectual dishonesty, credulity, lies, hypocrisy, and toxic, drooling stupidity.


Don't you just love language?

After the rapture comes
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets - the next best thing to pet salvation in a Post Rapture World

Only available in the US of A at this point and it looks like our 8-legged friends aren't included but maybe they'll branch out soon. If you think you're likely to be raptured soon put your affairs in order now!

Interactive Christian Training Simulator
http://www.neonbubble.com/games/christian-versus-atheist

The Atheist attacks God and His followers by using his brain and utilising the three unholy forces of "Knowledge", "Reason", and "Thought". You must be ready to counter the Atheist's aggression with your God-given gifts of "Faith", "Repetition", and "Proclaiming Religious Intolerance" in order to wear down the otherwise persuasive offensive powers of this insidious foe.

You have made a wise decision in ignoring the question; ignoring questions is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. In real-life situations you would most likely use this exceptional defensive posture to devastating effect on the Atheist causing him to combust with rage.

Afraid of Religion
Or rather, afraid of muslim extremism. That's what Dutch politics seems to be dominated by in the past few weeks. Extreme right-wing politician Wilders (or "that man with that hair" as me and my friends call him) is making a movie about "the fascist islam" as he calls it. Of course, most broadcasters wouldn't touch this kind of controversial stuff with a ten foot pole so the current plan seems to be to distribute it via the internet. For months Dutch politicians have been squirming about the prospect of this movie, wetting themselves in fear of what this will do to international relations and Dutch foreign interests.
Time and again they're appearing on television to call for Wilders to reconsider releasing this movie. They've looked at legal ways to stop the release and apparently the declaration of martial law is just a tiny bit too far so they have no choice but to appear on TV, looking worried and fearful like the chickens they are. They're running into legal walls and there's a good reason for that, we have this odd concept in the Netherlands called "freedom of speech". This means that anyone can say whatever the hell they like. Well, more or less. There's a few things that are illegal like incitement to hatred (which doesn't seem to count if an imam says gays should be hanged), holocaust denial and the like. There's nothing in the constitution about having to lie to save the face of religions.
This, apparently, has our elected politicians scared to death. Really, every time I see them on tv I almost get the feeling they're about to burst into tears with frustration and fear. Poor guys. I truly feel for them. (Oh wait! Nope, I am wrong. I do not feel sorry for them, I pity them.) Faced with the prospect of an unknown future.
- A movie they know nothing about yet, except for the fact that it's almost finished and about islam, made by a right wing politician/islamophobe and certain to stir up some sentiments.
- Unspecified threats and rumblings about repercussions that will make (or rather, might make) the furore around the mohammed cartoons seem like a storm in a glass of water.

Instead of constantly reiterating to the whole world that we have this so called "freedom of speech" thingy here, they keep falling over themselves to appeal to Wilders' "sense of duty" and general goodwill to call off his movie. A waste of time of course.

I might see this movie, I might not, this is not the issue here. I support Wilders' right to make it and say whatever the heck he likes about a religion. This is what freedom is all about. It is not always comfortable to live in freedom but the alternative is as close to Soylent Green or Logan's Run as to make no difference.

I despise Wilders and the ideology he stands for. Yes, Islam is a threat. More specifically: extremism is a threat, but extremism does not stand alone, it is part of organised religions everywhere, and there is no way to absolve mainstream religion of this fact. Every religion has its extremists, and there are many more than you might at first suspect, which makes it such a widespread problem. Not that Wilders would ever mention this of course, because he knows he'd lose the christian (and probably many secular) voters faster than you can say "what's under that burka miss?".
Internationally well-known Ayaan Hirshi Ali does the same thing of course. Which is why I do not like these people. In a way they're too extreme. Too focussed on one branch of organised religion, Islam, because they know it plays well with the western crowd. This viewpoint is skewed and narrow.
Playing to the fear of the unknown. Hating "the other". A well-known trick of course, used by demagogues and politicians over the ages. Create a sense of us-versus-them and people will follow you. Political double talk. You get the picture.

This is all too small-minded for me. Being an atheist means you do not pick and choose which religion you're against. You're against all of them. At the same time. You're standing alone to brave the winds of stupidity and organised lying, screaming into it with all your might. There is a grandeur in rejecting religion, living your life on a basis of rationality. Seeing the lies for what they are is a liberating experience.

Holy Crap
Feeling a bit lost? Don't know what to believe in anymore?
Fear no more as Godchecker - your Guide to the Gods has the details on "over 2,850 deities."

Surely there's something here for everyone to believe in, whether that be EITUMATUPUA (from the Oceanic Mythology, "While spending time on the Earth he had a fling with ILAHEVA, a mortal lady. This impressed the neighbors no end") or LEMMINKAINEN (from the Finnish Mythology, "He was a brave warrior but suffered from an overdose of testosterone which caused much grief in his marriage") or KINGU (from the Mesopotamian Mythology, "KINGU was killed by ANU, and his body recycled to form universal bonus tracks and extra bits. One of the extras was the human race, formed from his blood. Sometimes dragons have a really tough time.") or any of a thousand others.

Also be sure to check the Search Engine if you're looking for that obscure squid god whose name escapes you.

Time to emigrate?
In a rather shocking move today the Dutch Hoge Raad, the highest court we have, has decided that the SGP, a political party of christian zealots should be funded by the Dutch taxpayers. The subsidy was stopped in 2006 when the SGP was dragged to court by the Clara Wichmann organisation for not allowing women to stand as party officials. The reason the Hoge Raad gives for its decision to call the stopping of subsidies unconstitutional is that there are enough political parties that do allow women to stand as party officials, therefore the SGP has the right to refuse women to stand (they are allowed to become regular members). As the Hoge Raad is the highest court in The Netherlands an appeal isn't possible, although I presume that an appeal should be possible at the European court.
[In the interest of total clarity: it should be noted that the site for the Hoge Raad is currently throwing a wobbly and I cannot access it to verify the details beyond the information in the regular press.]

An english press summary can be found on www.dutchnews.nl.

I am not a lawyer but it seems to me that in effect this means that discrimination is now legalised. So if I want to start a club in the center of Utrecht that disallows people with a dark skin colour this would be legal. As long as there are other clubs that do allow asians and blacks I'll be ok.

I'm sure the furore will start soon, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, although its very worrying to see this happen. 800.000 euros a year these backwards christians cost the Dutch taxpayer. Jesus wept! 800k a year, that's almost the same amount that's short on the education budget for better salaries for teachers.

I guess even in Holland you can do whatever the fuck you like as long as your reason for your idiocy is religion.

The God Delusion in a nutshell
I was going to write a small review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion but kind of got bogged down in other things.

Luckily I no longer have to do this as Dawkins' speech at the AAI is up, this recapitulates many of the points Dawkins makes in his book. So if you have a spare 45 minutes you can see a video and spare me about 2 hours of writing. On the plus side you won't have to hear me ranting on the really odd stuff in the book like most of chapter 5, which is about memes and the speculation that memes are subject to evolutionary pressures of their own. Frankly this chapter seemed to me to go off on a tangent and to be too speculative. Of course, the origins of religion have to be explained, but I don't really think you have to go further than the fact that man is a communicating animal and stories tell us about the natural world and how to survive. Once you accept the importance of stories in human survival you can easily imagine some stories becoming more abstract and not dealing directly with observable phenomena but trying to explain distant and abstract things like the stars or how we come to be here. To suggest that there are some evolutionary principles at work that exert pressures on stories so they become, in some way, "more fit" to be passed on seems spurious.

I'd heartily recommend The God Delusion to anyone even if you have seen the video, the book contains many more examples of the weirdness of religion, like the whole shebang of the orders of angels of which Dawkins says in his section on Polytheism (which includes some nice rants about the holy trinity): And we mustn't forget the four Choirs of Angelic Hosts, arrayed in 9 orders: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels (heads of all hosts), and just plain old Angels, including our closest friends, the ever-watchful Guardian Angels. What impresses me most about Catholic mythology is partly its tasteless kitsch but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along.

Some good things about religions


Via PZ.

Back of the Bible
PZ linked to Back of the Bible today. An effort to interpret the later books in the Old Testament: Once you wade past the shallow end of the New Testament into the back half of the Old Testament, get ready: it turns out God's a fucking lunatic, and He loves the taste of your blood.


Image from loltheist, which I linked to earlier.

loltheist
I'm currently reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins about which I'll probably say more when I've finished it. In the meantime here's a funny website for all you atheists out there. Clicky the picture for more.



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