This sandcastle meme does not prove creationism any more than it fails to address atheism

Comparing something you know to be created with something you assume to be created proves only that you made an assumption. That’s it… almost my entire response to this nonsense meme on social media, followed only by a brief accusation of magical thinking. But of course I can elaborate here.

Every so often, a creationist smugly shares this meme, and I can almost hear them as they sit there surveying the screen, hands poised in steeple grip, snickering with sardonic delight at beating us atheists with their “superior” logic. Except it is quite a terribly illogical argument.

SandcastleMeme

First of all, atheism makes no claim. We simply don’t buy into your claim(s) that god(s) exist, or that any such god(s) created anything. So any claim of atheist logic is a straw man, but let’s ignore that for now anyway. (But we will get back to it later.) For argument’s sake, let’s assume that “atheist logic” has this one major problem: It doesn’t explain where we came from. Let us take that as a given and then proceed.

What then, is the creationist solution to the problem?

  1. God did it.
  2. There is no two.

But does this actually solve the problem? Of course not. It moves the problem (to god, where god is just a name, a placeholder). If you assume that god created everything, you still don’t know where this god came from. But that’s the beauty of indoctrination… You are taught not to question this. You are taught to accept that this god was always there. And that really is all there is to it. Everything else is arguments from ignorance, layer upon layer of sophisticated nonsense (which I call Jerome’s Law), and deflection.

But creationists share arguments like this with such confidence because they truly don’t realize that creationism merely moves the problem, and most of the time they don’t have the foggiest idea what atheism actually is. The fact is, we don’t know where the universe came from. Every answer we have is one that we made up, even scientific answers. But at least scientists test the science, and when they find their answers are wrong, they refine and improve the hypotheses and then test the improved ones. They might still be wrong, but at least they aren’t answers that were made up thousands of years ago by goat herders who buried their faeces in the fields.

But notice that I wrote that scientists test their hypotheses? Not atheists, because that isn’t what atheism is about. Atheism is about doubting your god claims because, as stated, those claims are just made up answers, in other words magical thinking.

I did say I’d come back to this, and it’s time I did that. Since atheism doesn’t actually make any claim, the opposite of “god did it” is “I don’t know”. Thus the problem of not providing an answer, not saying where anything came from, is not and never was a problem with atheism. The unknown is just that, unknown. But it is a problem of creationism. It absolutely is, because when you made up god(s) that magically created everything, you also introduced the problem of not knowing where they came from. Obviously. They didn’t come from anywhere because you made them up. (I’m using ‘you’ as a plural here. You, your ancestors, as in people who lived long ago.) It’s a circle because making up a solution and then insisting that the solution may not be questioned was never logical. That’s the irony: This supposed problem with atheist logic is really a problem of creationism.

Of course this post won’t convince a single creationist. But that’s OK; it isn’t meant to. Whatever excuse you use to be able to hang onto the assumption that your god exists, whatever special pleading, will be enough to convince you. If you are a creationist reading this, well thank you for reading, but this isn’t an argument meant to convince you; it’s more an observation about you.

An afterthought: Creationists often respond to this, or at least my short version of it, firstly with a denial that theirs is magical thinking, and then they follow that by saying that I am making a claim because I say they made up their god, whichever one it may be. That’s not how this works. Just because you assume this god exists and are happy to accept this without evidence does not make it true. It doesn’t matter why you assume your god exists – it doesn’t matter if I say that (y)our ancestors made it up. If you accept the claim and expect others to, you are de facto making the claim. Just because you don’t think about the fact that it is magical thinking doesn’t make it rational. There is no rational justification for faith – there is only what I have already described… assumptions, arguments from ignorance, word salad and deflection.

This denial culture is getting a little silly now

So I made a little joke on Facebook earlier and it went like this…

image

It was a reference to a status I saw earlier, a status where someone asserted, quite seriously, that the testing for coronavirus is causing the disease, apparently because Donald Trump said something to that effect and she believed him. I don’t even know if that’s the right quote, because I interpret his statement differently, but maybe innuendo is all his supporters need and he knows just what to say to lead them to those conclusions.

Anyway, the status hung around for most of the day, and then quite suddenly, with another from recently that also mocked conspiracy theories, it got picked up by a believer.

This:

image

Here’s a closeup of the image RaSun attached:

104588271_312162626468902_54226777118904878_n

Um, I hope I don’t have to explain why just about any 3 digit number will result in equally “meaningful” results… I replied with this:

104289158_3553828204627980_6781535744892233761_n

I don’t really have much to add – just sharing this for a laugh. It amazes me that somebody not only sees this meaning that isn’t there, but that he calls me and everybody else who agrees with me (surely most people on the planet) stupid because we don’t believe the outright nonsense that he believes. Not sure what he thinks is significant about 322, but I don’t really care to find out.

Update…

Then I shared this:

17-06-2020 9-18-06 PM

And now I see he wrote his own status, this:

17-06-2020 9-19-01 PM

The guy seems really upset so I’m going to back off now. I do wonder how it is that he manages to cherry pick the wacky conspiracies but fails to see when there might be real conspiracies, that don’t support his narrative.

The accidental skeptic

Excuse me if I have written a variation of this anecdote before. Also I doubt that this will be interesting to anybody, but that’s not something that really matters to me right now. And I apologize, although I prefer the English spelling of everything else, I like the American version of “skeptic” with a K. Somehow the proper spelling just looks wrong to me… “sceptic” just feels like the C should be silent which makes it a synonym for shit.

Yesterday in an atheist Facebook group, someone asked for others to admit the most ridiculous thing they believed in back when they were religious. There were some interesting ones, but to me, my story (which is related but not quite the same because I didn’t believe in gods), which should embarrass me, does not. I find it far funnier than I should. Anyway, this is how I took an oddball path to becoming a skeptic.

It was late 2006, or early 2007, and my girlfriend and I were meth heads. We weren’t just addicts… or I guess maybe we were… pretty typical for meth addicts… We smoked meth every day and every night, and we were high all the time. But in the day I went to work, same sort of job as now as a c# software developer though not performing quite on the level I do now (for obvious reasons), and didn’t use there, meaning I spent the whole day 5 days a week coming down at work, then resumed the substance abuse after, starting with buying more meth on the way home, to using with her all the time at home, and normally going out to get more around 3AM before using the last right before going back to work in the morning. Why tell you all this? Well, it’s important to realize that everything I did, I did while under the influence of a lot of amphetamines. And I do mean a lot.

Otherwise we were pretty normal, doing normal things that couples do, albeit with an obsessive edge overlaid onto every interest, because being high all the time does involve taking everything to extremes. She was always interested in some thing, some supernatural or spiritual or paranormal thing. And the latest was astrology. And it was my role to support her. Meth gives you quite the temper and causes many overreactions to anything, so I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I failed to support her. So her interest in astrology meant I had to read every book on it, download whatever astrology software I could find, print out natal charts, the works. And I did that.

The thing is, astrology is almost the perfect candidate for a computer program. It is essentially, a bunch of complex rules and tables, looks ups… Take a bunch of inputs like your time and date and place of birth, and then look up the placement of various constellations and other factors, and compile all this information with various deduced characteristics of your personality into a comprehensive and individualized report that is really quite specific to you. And that’s pretty much what I did… not write such a program (because I didn’t have a computer at home, plus I had better things to do, like smoking meth) but find a decent one and print out 20 odd pages of reports describing both of us.

So I did that. I wrote all the stuff down, then took it to work and input everything into a couple of astrology programs, then printed out the reports and brought them home to her. And one night, we sat for hours poring over those reports. “This describes me exactly!” we both exclaimed, multiple times. And for a few hours, I was a believer. I really was.

Except I’d fucked up.

A common occurrence on meth to be sure, but because I was always so high, and because our birth dates are similar, separated by several years (too many but that’s a story for another day), I’d somehow switched our natal charts and reports. We had each other’s reports, and they still described us exactly.

“But how can this be?”, I asked myself. By then she’d gone off on her own tangent and was tweaking on something else, so I took both reports, and read them both again, several times, noting how poorly put together the software actually must be, but also realizing something else: The stuff that I thought applied to me, or at least a large portion of it, was not in my report at all, and the same for her. But not just that… It was vague, cleverly phrased, ambiguous but generally positive things, things that anyone who read would want to apply to themselves.

And thus I, high as a fucking kite, realized how astrology works. It was an accident, but a good one. Not so much for the relationship though, but for me it was good. She still carried on believing in astrology, psychics, god, Tarot, and many other things. But my role changed. I wasn’t the supporter. I was the debunker. Everything, every interest she had, I still did my due diligence and printed out stacks of pages, but I found skeptical angles on every interest she had. I naively thought that she would be as fascinated as I was to realize that all those things were bullshit, but sadly it didn’t work out that way. Healing crystals, white magic, black magic, Jesus… I did my best to prove to her that all these things were nonsense. But sincere as I was in proving that these things were not real, she became an even firmer believer. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

So that’s how I got into skepticism. My foundation in rationality and fascination with critical thinking and asking for evidence, as well as my obsession with trying to understand why it is that we so desperately want to believe in all these silly things, began while high on meth. Unlike the drug habit though, my interest in these things has persisted through the years. It started as debunking, not skepticism, but the search to disprove the bunk that people believe in, and then over the years it has changed to a more open minded approach to asking for evidence and rejecting of all magical thinking. But note there is a big difference between debunkers and skeptics. Debunkers are indiscriminate in what they reject, going as far as to reject actual science and tending towards conspiracy theories. I’m fascinated with that lot of lunatics too.

So that’s it. I find it ironic that I accidentally somehow got into critical thinking while high on a performance impairing, mind destroying drug. But somehow it happened. (And I’m not writing this to encourage meth use, by the way. I’d probably have turned out quite differently if I hadn’t stopped using meth. I just find it strangely amusing.)

Poor logic – bad arguments and logical fallacies abound around coronavirus deniers (covidiots)

This one is from that PrayerWorks Facebook group I’ve mentioned before.

FalseDichotomy

Best reply I saw to it went something like this:

If seatbelts work, WHY the airbags? If airbags work, WHY the seatbelts ? If BOTH work, WHY the ROAD REGULATIONS?

Amusing that the original status comment was “critical thinking”. Nope. Sorry. Nope nope nope. That’s not critical thinking and calling it as such doesn’t make the statement true. Actually that’s a textbook example of bad arguments and logical fallacies, except of course there’s no such textbook. Maybe that’s the problem? We’re never taught critical thinking.

I first heard of logical fallacies about ten years ago, because I searched for information about bad arguments after seeing them repeatedly and they struck me as wrong, not because I knew why they were wrong but because I didn’t. The thing about bad arguments is they are a natural product of the way our brains work. Sometimes we might recognize that they’re wrong but not be able to point out why… At least that’s how it was for me. I knew they were wrong, but it was more like what we in software development call “code smell”. It just looks wrong but you can’t necessarily say why until you examine it more closely.

In the example above, the fallacy is of course a false dichotomy, also known as a false dilemma or excluded middle. That’s when a proposition is made that includes only two options as if they are the only options and that they contradict one another, and our brains are tricked into perceiving such a proposition as valid. Meanwhile, two options could, for example, both be true, both be false, or be two of many truths/mistruths. I’ve linked to three different explanations just to show how widely known this type of fallacy is. In the example, it is further being used to set up a straw man argument, because the person making it, who opposes safety measures during a pandemic, is misrepresenting the argument used by her opponents, in that nobody claims this is a simple binary. In reality, when it comes to safety measures, more measures complement each other.

There are many more well known bad arguments and logical fallacies, so many that it would be pointless for me to try listing them. Here’s one example where someone has put together a cute illustrated book about them. If you search for them online, it yields over 7 million results with some great articles on the first page.

An interesting bad argument going around at the moment is around so-called “liberty”. People are claiming that having to wear masks, or stay indoors, infringes on their freedom. Amusingly we can return to the seatbelt rebuttal again, but for a different reason. According to an article on Business Insider, in the 1980s when legislation was proposed to enforce the wearing of seatbelts, 65% of Americans were opposed to it, for reasons similar to the current opposition against safety measures. (“Don’t tell me what to do!”)

So what’s going on here? Well, people are fighting for their rights. But you don’t exist in a vacuum. When your rights affect other people – when your right to do something harms someone else or infringes on the rights of someone else, it becomes less important than the consequences of your actions. Your right to anything thus exists in a broader social context where other people also matter. I have the right to smoke cigarettes. But that doesn’t mean I can smoke them wherever I want, in public places and in other peoples’ homes, because me being reckless about my health doesn’t give me the right to ignore the rights and the health of anybody else.

Likewise when I was a meth addict, I told myself that despite the illegality of drugs, I had the right to choose to use them. But when my use affected my work, when the livelihood of others and other things I don’t want to get into came into play, the consequences of my poor choices made my right to blow my mind quite irrelevant. And this is exactly the same when people refuse to follow safety precautions during a global pandemic. Your “liberty” does not give you the right to risk making other people get sick and possibly die.

To summarize, critical thinking is important. It’s a skill we aren’t taught and one that doesn’t always come naturally. Our brains don’t think rationally automatically. We see patterns where none exist, we impose meaning on the meaningless, make connections where none are to be found, and sometimes bad arguments make sense to us, especially ones like the classic false dilemma, and especially when it makes an argument to support a point of view we are already emotionally invested in. That’s why it is crucial to work on our critical thinking skills, and one way to make a start is to read up on and understand common bad arguments and logical fallacies.


Meh – I wrote this earlier and it isn’t even published yet, but I see the COVIDiots have moved on. Now they are claiming that those of us who actually care about safety measures are acting out of fear. This is a red herring. Another fallacy, and even if fear is a motivator, it has no relevance. I’m adding this as an “aside” because it would otherwise fuck with the flow of the last three paragraphs.

Beware bad or sensationalized science reporting

A friend shared this on Facebook and I’m annoyed.  Not with my friend, who has poor eyesight and was tricked into hoping this might be true, but by shoddy “science” reporting. The article is titled…
A new artificial eye mimics and may outperform human eyes.

052020_mt_bioniceye_feat-1028x579
A new design for an artificial eyeball (illustrated) could someday give keen eyesight to androids, or be used as a high-tech prosthetic.

Yaying Xu, © oFantastic Color Animation Technology Co., Ltd.

I copied the fine print from the original article too. It annoys me because that is highly misleading. Note what the copied text states…

The artificial eyeball (illustrated) could someday give keen eyesight to androids, or be used as a high-tech prosthetic.
(Emphasis mine.)

Note the clever way they phrased that? It should be pretty clear then:

  1. An engineer has designed this. It doesn’t actually exist yet. If it did they’d include a photo, not an illustration.
  2. It could, theoretically, if it actually existed, be used by an android, if such an android existed.
  3. It could, theoretically, be used as a prosthetic to replace a human eye, if some kind of interface existed to connect the electronics to the central nervous system.

Uh-huh. Might as well have said “based on a true story”. And by the way, when a movie is based on a true story, the story is “Somebody once existed and something happened”.

The third point is the doozy. Admittedly the first two points also point out problems, but even if we assume that they can build this thing, and as in the article described, the fake retina works and it outputs the image data, there is no interface to connect this to our biological systems. You could just as well claim that any robotic arm “could someday” work as a prosthetic human arm, and would have the same problem: There is no way to connect it to the central nervous system and no way to expect our brains to be able to use it.

It isn’t a challenge to make a device that can take in light, focus it on some kind of plane and somehow record the image data. Imagine if there were a name for such a thing? Well, guess what? I remember doing a school science project on the basic principle when I was around ten years old, a project about how cameras work. Cameras have existed for a while now… 1816 was the year the first camera was invented, and 1975 the year of the first digital camera. We all have pretty decent digital cameras in our smart phones these days, and they don’t look like clunky fake eyeballs. There is no challenge in making a camera – neither one that looks like an eyeball nor anything else. The challenge is in connecting some kind of electronic device to our biological central nervous systems, and they just gloss over it in that silly article.

To be fair, there must be some kind of application for the thing. It has a synthetic retina-like structure with what looks like thousands of light sensors, so there must be some reason the scientists have designed it and written two research papers about it. But even so, it’s doing all that just to achieve what a camera does anyway, like some kind of miniature Rube Goldberg machine. But whatever its purpose, it surely has nothing whatsoever to do with what the article implies. The article is bullshit. Don’t be misled by such articles. And I hate to have to bring this up, but if ever you read anything claiming the human mind, or even worse, consciousness, can be downloaded into a computer, that’s bullshit too. For similar reasons.

If belief in something requires a permanent suspension of disbelief, and no evidence supports the thing, that thing is probably not true

We’ve probably all met somebody who believes in the existence of literal angels. Not fuzzy wuzzy guardian angels where the person makes vague statements about being watched over and it is ambiguous whether or not they really mean it, but somebody who actually thinks angels are real. It’s always a man or woman into New Age woo, or some other kind of religious extreme. And we all react the same way. We say nothing to their face but go away thinking they’re out of their fucking mind, but harmless enough, so we forget about them. That’s just aunty Carol, who believes in angels and Tarot and healing crystals and talking to Jesus. She’s sweet and nice and she shouldn’t be locked up in a padded cell because her belief doesn’t do any harm.

Likewise, when homophobic uncle Richard claims he talks to Jesus, who comes down from Heaven for a cup of tea and a chat about those nasty homosexuals, we know that person is not quite right in the head about either god or his self-hating repressed sexuality. (Aside, here’s a newsflash for homophobic Christians who love talking about gay sex: Straight people never think about gay sex.) Interestingly, his belief includes prejudice for a minority and does do harm, but because it is part of his religion, we ignore that. (But that’s not my topic for today.)

And yet, to believe in a religion like Christianity, as so many do, requires one to accept that god and his angels used to come down to Earth, two thousand odd years ago, but they don’t any more. So when did they stop? Why would they stop?

We know that anybody who claims to speak to god and angels now is insane. (I’m choosing to focus on people we’ve all known who are thought to be eccentric. Not obvious con artists who run their own religions and make money, or the suckers who believe in them. And I assume none of those types read anything here.) Yet to believe that this used to happen thousands of years ago requires living with a permanent suspension of disbelief.

This, among other things, is the truth that dawned on me back when I was sixteen years old. The main difference between now and two thousand years ago is we are a lot less ignorant than we were then. Deities don’t come down to Earth now, and they didn’t then. Angels don’t come down to Earth now, and they didn’t then. Because deities and angels aren’t real. All supernatural things aren’t real. It’s all pretend. Deep down, if you know that anybody who claims to see those things today is mistaken, you know that those things were never real. So you have to suspend your disbelief. You have to lie to yourself and pretend, just like when you watch a movie. And you believe those lies you tell yourself. That’s the difference between believers and atheists. We stopped pretending.


Noteworthy, I think… I generally avoid arguments like this because theists into debating often make what they believe is an equivalent argument, asserting that we all “know” their god is real and are “angry with him”. Apart from the “angry with god” thing which is an argument they’re taught to repeat parrot-fashion, the part that we “know god exists” is an example of psychological projection, a method of avoiding the argument by projecting your own beliefs onto others. But I do think that when it comes to suspension of disbelief, my argument is valid. I’m not saying you “know” god isn’t real but that you do recognize when certain claims are crazy, while holding beliefs similar to those claims and lying to yourself, or avoiding thinking about them entirely, to continue to hold them. Hence today I’m publishing this argument anyway.

Maybe me being an atheist was inevitable in this sense… I was unable to avoid thinking about these things, and also unable to lie to myself about them. Discarding those beliefs was a natural part of me growing up.

 

Magical thinking is dangerous, especially now

I guess on some level I’ve always been aware of magical thinking. What I didn’t know was how widespread it is. I first noticed someone whose beliefs were unusually aggressive when I was in school, standard 4 (grade 6 as they call it now), with a teacher, Mr Barnett, who would somehow include the words “Lord Jesus” at least twice in every sentence. I thought he was whacked in the head, and he no doubt was a little off-kilter, but no more so than many others whose extreme beliefs are less in-your-face.

It was a few years before when I’d learned the Bible stories from the Old Testament, and I realized then that people used to ascribe natural disasters to an angry god, a god who would punish the people for their wrongdoings unless they repented. I grew up being taught those things as if they were true, but never believed them, and assumed (incorrectly) that everybody else also didn’t believe them. (Because obvious nonsense is obvious.)

Then, years later, having messed up quite seriously and become addicted to crystal meth, I entered into “recovery” with unfortunate naivete, expecting addiction treatment to be evidence based. (It isn’t.) There I found that addiction treatment is in fact based entirely on a religious foundation, filled with platitudes and magical thinking. It took me four years altogether to find my own way of staying clean and sober, one that works for me and does not involve those ridiculous 12 steps of woo.

But now, we are facing COVID-19, a virus still mutating, one for which there is no cure, where we are infectious but asymptomatic for 14 days, a virus that is killing people and potentially on par in terms of fatalities with the Biblical plagues. This is a time when we all need to take the necessary precautions, but instead of that happening, we have religious people fucking it all up for the rest of us.

There are people sharing misinformation and conspiracy theories about the disease; people sharing prayers and claiming that their faith will protect them – it doesn’t work like that, for fuck’s sake! Inhaling the contaminated air that an infected person exhaled is all you need, and the easiest way for that to happen, the most effective way of spreading the virus, is large gatherings, crowds, in confined spaces. This is a problem particularly because you can have massive viral loads and be highly infectious while asymptomatic. Yet many religious leaders are refusing to back down and encouraging their believers to carry on as usual. This is, of course, a reckless and irresponsible abuse of their authority (for a change?), considering that believers trust them.

Meanwhile, we also have people who blame every disaster, including this virus, on minority groups who make easy victims for them, such as same sex couples or transgender people, claiming that their god is angry with those people. It seems we have not moved on at all since the OT, and collectively we remain driven by this dangerous magical thinking.

Why, oh why… would you believe that this god created the entire universe, but has a problem with what members of one particular species of great ape do with their gonads? It is absurd that people believe this. But they do. We are a race of fucking idiots.

 

 

 

 

 

Another reminder of what atheism isn’t

I had a discussion with a family member yesterday, where the person claimed that I am depressed because of being an atheist and not one day seeing my parents again, and claimed that I very much want to believe there is no god. It wasn’t an argument or debate, but it did remind me of the stark contrast between atheism and what theists think it is. So let me try to explain it one more time…

When I was a believer, which ended in my teen years, I thought I knew that god exists. Thus I started with the assumption that this god I believed in existed. And if I debated it, I would come up with pseudo-rational reasons that led to a preconceived conclusion. So my arguments were disingenuous and inherently dishonest.

One can not argue rationally when one’s position is based on faith, because faith is belief despite no supporting evidence.

The easiest way I can think of to explain this is, when one stops believing in Santa Claus, one does not then switch to some kind of polar opposite belief, another “kind” of Santa Claus. One realizes that the Santa “claim”, for lack of a better word, is unnecessary. Likewise, when one does not assume that god exists, the claim becomes unnecessary. Atheism is not faith based; it is not a polar opposite to a faith based position, but is rather a conclusion when one does not have faith. Anyone who claims that atheism is also a belief system simply does not understand what atheism is.

It’s not that I want to believe that god doesn’t exist. I’d love to believe. I’d love to believe in god, an afterlife, that my parents are watching over me, and that one day I’ll see them again. I’d love to believe that existence goes on after my life ends. But I can’t. I recognize that god is a man-made claim, an example of magical thinking to explain what we don’t understand; nothing more than a name given to a magical placeholder for the unknown. I realize also that belief in an afterlife is nothing more than wishful thinking – that we don’t want to face the fact that we die and no longer exist. My position is personal, one that I came to all by myself because I became an atheist and then only read atheists’ literature and watched atheist videos afterwards, finding to my surprise that many other people have come to the same conclusion. Because it’s a logical conclusion, and is certainly not a faith-based position as some people project it to be.


Incidentally, I’m finding this discourse with an extended family member interesting, if taken not as an argument but as an honest conversation about what we believe and why/how we believe it.

On the assumptions and arrogance of the argument from morality

I’m tired. Tired of seeing articles trending weekly where preachers claim that atheists have no morals because they don’t believe in god. I’ve written about this several times but was thinking it would be good to tackle it yet again, and hopefully produce something I can link to next time someone mindlessly repeats this argument.

In case you don’t know, the argument from morality is the argument that all morals come from god, and this supposedly proves that god exists. Of course to make the argument, you must first assume that god exists and then go from there, but that’s not the worst part. Theists who make this argument normally switch it around and claim that atheists don’t have morals.

So… let’s examine it logically, but instead of doing what religious apologists who make this argument do, which is to assume implicitly that their god exists, make some points that don’t add up, and then conclude what they assumed up-front, let’s do this in a syllogism that’s a little more honest, and actually state the assumptions as premises, state the inference that those premises lead to, and then sincerely ask if the world behaves as this syllogism tells us it does…

  1. Premise one: Assume god exists.
  2. Premise two: Assume god is the source of absolute objective morality.
  3. Premise three: Assume that somehow we are all bound (magically?) by this objective morality.
  4. Premise four: Assume that god also created free will, and that because of this free will, we may choose not to be moral.
  5. Conclusion: If all the above is true, we can infer that this objective morality binding all of us should be observable, across time and geography.

That’s a heck of a lot of assumptions (all of which are wrong) but that’s what the religious apologists assume. They’re just dishonest about them and rather argue pseudo logic that conveniently concludes what they assumed, but let’s ignore that. Does the world work like the conclusion says it should? Does it? Really?

The thing is, people of the same religion don’t all have exactly the same moral values. In fact, we have compassion for others, and that’s about all there is that’s close to absolute. Unless you’re a psychopath, you probably have some common values because you care about other people. The rest is learned… from our parents, our peers, our laws, and other factors in the societies where we live.

But those values change over time. We don’t burn witches or stone brides who are found not to be virgins. Not anymore. Except some people in less modern, and more religious cultures… still do those things. Interesting, isn’t it? Behaviour that most of would regard as primitive and less moral than ourselves, is linked to religion. But certainly there is no observable evidence of any kind of objective morality binding us.

More significantly though, even if we assume that objective morality exists, why would disbelief (in the god who you assumed created this morality) lead to a person without morals? It doesn’t follow logically at all.

As an atheist, I don’t believe in god, but that doesn’t mean I’m not good. It does mean that I’ve put a lot of thought into the religion I was brought up with, and that I rejected it. It also means that unlike some Christians who read their prejudices into their religion as an excuse for having them, for example for women, people of colour and people with different sexual orientations, I can’t do that. Having grown up a white man in apartheid South Africa, having heard racism “justified” by twisted religious rhetoric (and hearing in again recently from the likes of Donald Trump and his ilk), I had much time to think about those things and reject all kinds of prejudice, including misogyny, racism, and homophobia. Without religion to hide behind, I am a far better person.

The truth is, when someone claims that atheists don’t have morals, they out themselves as arrogant and narrow-minded people with hatred for their fellow human beings, but who are really saying, “I’m better than you because you don’t believe exactly what I believe”. They out themselves as people who aren’t terribly bright and who have poor moral values.

Being logical doesn’t mean you’re always right; The WRONGEST of the wrong people are always the most confident.

Consider the following stupid syllogism I just pulled out of my ass:

  • Premise 1: The sky is blue.
  • Premise 2: My pen is blue.
  • Inference: Somebody drew the sky. It must have been god, and the world is flat.

Obviously my syllogism is outright nonsense. But it is logical.

Last week I shared a contentious meme on Facebook. It was about the gender wage gap, although I was confused and initially thought it was about the gap between rich and poor. (But that’s besides the point.)

So, due to low data and being busy in real life, I spent only a few minutes online here and there. Lo and behold, on Sunday I see there was much activity in the comments, between one guy who insists that the gender pay gap isn’t real, and everybody else in the comments. (Everybody else being progressives and feminists, because probably around 90% of my friends have those sorts of views, as do I.)

Here’s a straw man mocking views like his…

Image may contain: 1 person, text

It’s extreme, but his reaction isn’t far from the generalization about men made by the above meme… Point out that women generally aren’t paid fairly, and at least one guy is gonna chime in that the gender wage gap isn’t real, women have been paid fairly for decades, and in any case it’s their choices that cause them to be paid less. That’s right, besides the fact that presumably they chose to have uteruses, he both acknowledges that women are paid less, and denies that there is a wage gap. And then point out he’s wrong, and he’ll call you all kinds of names.

What is this us against them bullshit anyway? I don’t get it. We’re all in this together, working for bastards who will use any excuse to pay us less… We could work together to make life more bearable for everyone, but instead like to make our little tribes where we are right and everybody else is wrong.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this. Rather it’s a pattern. Some twat tells everybody else that they are wrong, and will not even consider that maybe he could be the one who is mistaken.

I read another interesting article yesterday: The magical thinking of guys who love logic. Check it out as it’s worth reading.