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The twisting mind. March 16, 2011

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“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned” – Anonymous

Many claim that faith is a virtue. Many also claim that having faith is difficult to attain. If these statements were in fact true, why is it something that one month old can learn and why is it so difficult for man to live with such uncertainty? From a very early age, children learn to have faith in many things. Most children quickly learn to have faith in their parents, their enviornment, and their own body. It is through faith that children are able to comfort themselves in times of stress and need. Faith is so engrained into us that it becomes our default position. Faith is not in any way a skill. It is not considered a skill when we are good about trusting the sun to come up. It is however considered a skill when someone is able to figure out how and why the sun comes up.

Those of us that cannot seem to live without 100% faith, resort to religion when questions become too complex. If faith is easy, then religion is too. Religion is nothing more than the easy way out of complex questions. Religion is what happens when man desires answers, figures out that the some questions may be unanswerable, and decides to just give up on the quest for truth.

To not have faith and to be okay with not knowing is a skill far beyond that of faith. We are not, at any point in our infancy, taught to just be okay with things. For theists to propose that God must exist simply because they believe that nothing could ever come from nothing is the most extreme form of faith, for the theist also believes that there God came from nothing.

I have no idea about how we got here and I am certain that neither do theists. The biggest difference is that they cannot accept uncertainty. They would believe some of the most absurd things just to escape the uneasy feeling of the unknown. They would claim the existence of an always present invisible being before looking to the sky and proclaiming that maybe reality has always just been or at the very least proclaiming that maybe we will just never know. The thing that theists can never seem to get is that, just because atheists don’t have all the answers, they don’t get to fill in all of our gaps in knowledge with unfounded absurdities.

“To really be free, You need to be free in the mind” – Alexander Loutsis

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My response to Terry Mirll’s letter to the Daily Oklahoman editor. December 16, 2010

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Below is a letter to the Daily Oklahoman editor by a Terry Mirll. Below that is my submitted response to Terry Mirll’s letter. I will provide a link below both letters for any interested in joining the fray.

Atheism is a belief based on religious faith

Published: December 15, 2010
Atheists in New Jersey, displaying that special clairvoyance reserved only for themselves, have erected a billboard telling America that not only is the Nativity a myth, but that the rest of us know that it’s a myth. Further, they assure us, reason is on their side but not ours. But when atheists make these sorts of claims, they’re either lying to us or lying to themselves. I suspect the latter.

Philosophically, atheism is founded on a contradiction. Ask the atheist why he doesn’t believe in God and the standard reply comes in the form of an objection to evil or suffering, such as: “If God exists, then why did He allow the Holocaust?” or “God doesn’t exist because when I was 12 my Mom died of cancer.” In other words, God doesn’t exist because He could do a better job at being God. Got that? He isn’t because He is … (stupid, or uncaring or incompetent). This is clearly a contradiction, which just as clearly refutes the assertion that atheism is based on reason.
Rather, it’s as faith-based a claim as that of any religion. That is, any other religion, because atheism is itself a religion. I should know. Not so long ago, I was calling myself an atheist. However, unlike my brethren in New Jersey, I wised up. May they, too, follow the star that shone so brightly over Bethlehem and understand the truth that it reveals.

Terry Mirll, Midwest City

My response:

In response to Terry Mirll’s letter to the editor claiming that atheism is somehow based on religious faith, I have to say that it is clear that the author is seriously misrepresenting what atheism actually is. In clear and concise terms, atheism is simply a rejection of the claim that there is a god, nothing more and nothing less. Apparently, Terry Mirll is not well versed in rational thought, as he has done nothing but build up a straw man to argue against, by making false claims against atheism. For the record, the majority of atheists actually come to atheism by way of realizing that there is a complete lack of evidence for any gods. In fact, I would dare say that even Terry Mirll has used this technique at some point, unless of course he has not ruled out believing in Zeus, Muhammed, Ra, and the thousands of other mythical entities. All religionists are atheists when it comes to other people’s gods, atheists just take the next logical step. When it comes to liars, I have to argue that it is much more likely for a person to be lying when they are claiming to have answers without any verifiable proof than it is for a person that is only seeking the proof. With regards to Terry Mirll’s claim of being a former atheist, I say that a real atheist would actually care if what they believed in is true, your ignorance of atheism shows you could care less.

Thomas Mackiewicz

Terry Mirll’s letter to the editor page (I can’t get the link to show up through the WordPress app):

http://newsok.com/atheism-is-a-belief-based-on-religious-faith/article/3523646?custom_click=headlines_widget

Logical fallacies of prayer. November 11, 2010

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For the sake of argument, let’s stretch reality and pretend that atheists are completely wrong about their stance on the nonexistence of gods. Let’s go a step further and say that one particular god is not only real, but this god also cares for us and chooses to dabble in our affairs. Now let’s pretend that we actually believe religionists that come forward with first hand proof of answered prayers. By taking these first hand accounts, we can ascertain what types of prayers god usually answers. We should also be able to determine what kinds of prayers god tends to ignore. Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by the answering of prayers. If I have to pretend that believers are telling the truth about their prayers being answered, I should get to at least require that an answered prayer must not come with any overt human involvement. A recent example of overt human involvement is the hole dug for the purpose of rescuing the Chilean miners. I’ve heard believer after believer claim that the miners were alive from the grace of god. They just throw all the credit to god on this and forget the massive human rescue effort, while it is clearly evident that without human intervention, the miners would have been dead long ago. Human assisted answers will not be counted in my non-scientific examination of prayers.

Examples of answered prayers that believers frequently attribute to god(s): disappearing afflictions and ailments, sudden freedom from stress and addiction, newfound financial stability and wealth, protection from a form of particular harm, safety of self and others, better physical and mental performance, pregnancy and child birth, finding a soul mate, getting a desired job, and accomplishing difficult goals.

Examples of the results of prayers that god has never been reported to have answered (surely someone at some point prayed for these): world peace, an end to all human suffering, resurrection of dead loved ones (Biblical accounts don’t count), immortality, prevention of the death of a crop, animal, or human, prevention of environmental disasters, restoration of a catastrophe or environmental disaster, restoration of ruined vehicles or homes, governmental progress and change (I know religionists praying that Obama will die or get kicked out of office), belief in god or the “right” god (I can’t count how many times unprovoked prayers were said for me to change my heathen ways), and healing of disfigurement or dismemberment.

A person thinking clearly would look at these groups of examples and likely see common themes, which I believe to be that god(s) seem to only answer prayers that are impossible to account for. Another theme evident with the answered prayer examples is that each of the first hand accounts all have natural alternative answers as to how they could have occurred, for instance, when it comes the healing of internal ailments, it would be much more reasonable and likely that the ailment was imaginary, incorrectly diagnosed, or healed by natural means.

As a majority of the commonly reported answers to prayers are suspect and unverifiable, it is left to the believer to demonstrate a prayer that has been answered overtly and inexplicably by any other means. While it is quickly becoming an atheist cliche, I must maintain that it says volumes that visible answers to prayer do not happen. I guess believers with physical deformities and amputated appendages are just shit out of luck.

Thriving without gods. November 11, 2010

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It stands to reason, when considering the “sacred” words of the holy books, that atheists should be some of the most miserable and lonely humans this planet has ever known. Shunned by our fellow humans at the behest of the gods, we should be seen as being the poor underlings to the vast and obvious greatness of the much more superior supernatural brain slaves. Wasting our precious time and brain power, not on the strength of telepathic prayer, we should be seen toiling away at our pointless and doomed endeavors, yet without a single prayer, most atheists have managed to live happy and productive lives all throughout human history. Without a bent knee, atheists have managed to not only make many important scientific discoveries, but have also done so with a mind towards the good of humanity. How is it then that atheists haven’t spiraled to a godless pit of despair? The answer is that atheist inferiority is a myth on par with the ancient miracles. Not that religionists are known for seriously considering evidence, but one look at the atheist population shows that things are drastically contrary to their indoctrinated and quite popular belief. It’s not just a little ironic that religionists lay claim to being able to achieve anything through the power of their gods, when in fact it has always just been us humans achieving what was once thought unachievable. It’s us, not the gods, that have proven the capacity for greatness. The truth is that it has always been and will always be just us. To religionists, this is a terrifying proposition, but to the atheist, this is just reality and reality happens to dictate that we are only limited by the lies we tell ourselves.

Errors in Genesis October 19, 2010

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After trudging through various attempts by Answers in Genesis to come up with alternative religious reasons for why all evidence points to existence being much much older than just a few thousand years, I hit upon a common theme in each AiG thesis. This theme, which is actually more of an error to the scientific process than a theme, permeated nearly every Answers in Genesis thesis. The theme is that each proponent began their paper with an extreme bias towards the answer to their thesis. To further prove AiG’s extreme lack of credibility and understanding of science, it’s proponents always seem to begin with a concrete answer in mind. This is the opposite of following were evidence leads. This is the opposite of real science. AiG might as well be trying to prove everything came from a cosmic cockroach turd. I mean they can just have someone write a book about everything coming from a turd, begin defending it with the same tactics, and change nothing about the argument and actual conclusions to the debate or they could actually try looking at things from a real scientific perspective. They could forget their wishes and agendas and explore the actual evidence. Surely they realize how foolish they look. Real scientists don’t reach conclusions by ascertaining that a theory is true before completing a process of extensive research and peer review. Real scientists are more than willing to change their opinions with the addition of new evidence. Real scientists base opinions only upon things that can be measured. AiG “scientists” wrap up their god wishes in a blanket of pseudo science and logical fallacies.

Nature of prayer. October 14, 2010

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For the sake of the argument, let’s stretch reality and pretend that atheists are completely wrong about their stance on the nonexistence of gods. Let’s also go a step further and say that one particular god is not only real, but this god also cares for us and chooses to dabble in our affairs. Now let’s pretend that we actually believe religionists that come forward with first hand proof of answered prayers. By taking these first hand accounts, we can ascertain what types of prayers god usually answers. We should also be able to determine what kinds of prayers god tends to ignore. Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by the answering of prayers. If I have to pretend that believers are telling the truth about their prayers being answered, I should get to at least require that an answered prayer must not come with any overt human involvement. A recent example of overt human involvement is the hole dug for the purpose of rescuing the Chilean miners. I’ve heard believer after believer claim that the miners were alive from the grace of god. They just throw all the credit to god on this and forget the massive human rescue effort, while it is clearly evident that without human intervention, the miners would have been dead long ago. Human assisted answers will not be counted in my non-scientific examination of prayers.

Examples of answered prayers that believers frequently attribute to god(s): disappearing afflictions and ailments, sudden freedom from stress and addiction, newfound financial stability and wealth, protection from a form of particular harm, safety of self and others, better physical and mental performance, pregnancy and child birth, finding a soul mate, getting a desired job, and accomplishing difficult goals.

Examples of the results of prayers that god has never been reported to have answered (surely someone at some point prayed for these): world peace, an end to all human suffering, resurrection of dead loved ones (Biblical accounts don’t count), immortality, prevention of the death of a crop, animal, or human, prevention of environmental disasters, restoration of a catastrophe or environmental disaster, restoration of ruined vehicles or homes, governmental progress and change (I know religionists praying that Obama will die or get kicked out of office), forcing belief in god or the “right” god (I can’t count how many times unprovoked prayers were said for me to change my heathen ways), and healing of disfigurement or dismemberment.

A person thinking clearly would look at these groups of examples and likely see a common theme, which I believe to be that god(s) only answer prayers that are impossible to account for. It is also evident with the examples of answered prayer that each of the first hand accounts all have natural alternative answers as to how they could have occurred, for instance, when it comes to the healing of internal ailments, it would be much more reasonable and likely that the ailment was imaginary, incorrectly diagnosed, or healed by natural means. Because the natural answers are more likely to be true, the believer has a high probability of putting their credit in the wrong place.

As a majority of the commonly reported answers to prayers are suspect and unverifiable, it is left to the believer to demonstrate a prayer that has been answered overtly and inexplicably by any other means. While it is quickly becoming an atheist cliche, I must maintain that it says volumes that visible answers to prayer do not happen. Believers with physical deformities and amputated appendages appear to be shit out of luck when praying for godly intervention, as do believers that have suffered house fires, child death, or voted Republican. It’s a good thing humanity has taken things into it’s own hands. If it was wasn’t for plastic surgery, prosthetics, house insurance, and grievance counselors, we would be in much worse shape. Now if only we would give proper credit where it was due. You never know how inspirational a simple word of appreciation can be.

For the sake of my sanity and my last point, I will quit with the pretending now. Because the probability of an all powerful god is so low and because nearly everyone has bouts of hypochondria, it is statistically likely that believers that believe their prayers have been answered are in actuality only going through a mental ritual all by themselves. Essentially, the believer starts by thinking in their head that they are in need of something, from there they begin looking for anything that can be perceived as an answer to their need. Once they have perceived that their need has been met, they automatically attribute the meeting of their need to a god, completely bypassing critical thinking and ignoring the possibility of natural answers.

World of Godlessness May 6, 2010

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As I am a very busy (lazy) person as of late, I figured I could at least be of some service to the people that manage to stumble upon my site, so I am starting a running list of various atheist, pro-science, skeptical, and other related sites. Up first is the godlessblogger at www.godlessblogger.com , who by the way is seeking funding for a billboard.

Is religion bad for your brain? February 15, 2010

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From my perspective, which includes dealing with religionists on a daily basis, it seems that there is a strong correlation between having religious beliefs and having many other absurd ideas. It seems that the same people that have strong convictions regarding religion also tend to believe in an inordinate amount of other absurdities. The following are actual admitted beliefs held by the religious people that I know: Obama is a Muslim, Obama was born in Kenya, 9/11 was plotted and executed by the US government, aliens are watching us, aliens do regular testing on us, aliens originally placed us on earth, global warming is not really happening, women are inferior, African Americans are inferior, gays should be jailed, etc. I could go on for days here, but my point is that with many religious people it is not just their absurd supernatural beliefs that are alarming, it is also their tendency to believe that there is some hidden reality that only they are privileged to see. When you are taught from birth to believe in unlikely things, could it retard logical thinking and make truth impossible to distinguish? Children born into religion are taught that it is a good thing to believe without proof or fact checking. Does learning to ignore massive logical holes at such an early age lead us to a world of conspiracy theorists? Are we just a generation away from witch hunts and a resurgence of paranoia?

Cusp of freedom. February 2, 2010

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The reasons are many for atheists to remain hidden. For many religious fence sitters it is the way of the family that prevents them from taking the atheist plunge. It is a fact that, for many formely known as religionist atheists, the transformation comes with a sharp price. That price can extend all the way to their life. At this point in humanity, can we at least agree to not kill people for having no supernatural beliefs? For the majority of ex-religionists though, the price is at least less fatal. It’s a certainty that the newly gained nontheism comes with broken relationships, job loss, community banishment, or worse and all of the above. This oppressive climate leaves many poor unbelievers in a mental closet, knowingly living a lie. Many atheists go as far, to avoid being outcast, as continuing to attend church services among other religious activities and rituals. These, the religious fence sitters, who know better, but dare not speak, are tasked with making a daunting choice between tranquility and truth. They must one day realize that the tranquility they seek is only such because of their deception. They must soon realize that the world needs their voice, that humanity needs their voice. They must fear not the results of truth and instead fear the resiults of irrationality. It won’t be easy and there is no way around it, so they must quit sitting on the cusp of freedom and pull up their boot straps, grab some deodorant, and get to living in glorious unbelief, for if they don’t, we may all ultimately pay the price.

With violent religious fanaticism marching us to our deaths, is it time to put a little more on the line? Do we really have a choice? The doctrine of many religions say a resounding no.

Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! January 9, 2010

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In recent weeks I have had several glaring instances where religionists impeded my godless existence and caused harm to both my sanity and my child’s intellectual upbringing. Example #1: My child’s publicly funded school decided, without asking anyone, to pose my child in mock prayer while dressing him in angelic garb. It wasn’t even Halloween! Example 2: While the angel stunt can be partially excused, forcing a child, whose parents happen to be atheists, to pray in a public child care facility before every meal is completely fucked. Example 3: Family members that know our strong non-religious stance continuing to infiltrate our child’s brain with absurd religious concepts. It appears, that to be an atheist also entails going to war with the outside world to just raise your own child. They say there are no atheists in foxholes, but I am here to say that atheists proudly live in foxholes.