Priest fired for saying the wrong magic words?

I wrote this post on Facebook last night and maybe it’s worth expanding here…

Earlier, Josh asked me to explain the definition of satire…

Funny how difficult it is (for me anyway) without looking it up. I explained it as using humour to criticize something, to mock it, and often using parody for the mocking part, which creates an equal but absurd criticism of the thing. So it uses humour but is really serious.

My example was telling him about that priest who was forced to resign because of 20 years of botched baptisms, because he said “WE baptize you in the name of Jesus” instead of “I baptize you…”, and that my parody of it was to write a status on here suggesting he botched the baptisms because he forgot to say “abracadabra”.

But it’s a great example, isn’t it? I mean, the more I think about it, the more similar it is. He didn’t say the right magic words in a meaningless ritual, and absurdly, the church now claims all those baptisms “don’t count”. It’s so fucking stupid, it almost parodies itself.

Imagine believing in such absolute fucking hogwash.

Here’s an article about that priest. The story is legit.

It’s even been commented on by Father Nathan Monk here… He’s a former priest but now atheist and writer as well as social media personality – one who often triggers angry Christians because he still uses the Father moniker. The thing is, he’s a qualified Catholic priest, so he an use that if he wants to. Anyway, his point is that the church isn’t playing by its own rules here… They allow any baptized person to perform a baptism in certain contexts, and accept baptisms from Christian converts of other Christian religions. So why be so hard on this priest? It’s fucking goofy.

Why do I mock religion?

Recently a creationist commenter posed some questions asking why I disbelieve in his god, questions which were hard to take seriously. I asked others for help on how to answer his comment without being sarcastic, but they were even more harsh than I was, calling it word salad, amongst other things. I did write a post in response to his lengthy comment, but it doesn’t feel right to me. Maybe I’ll still publish it, with his full comment text, but in the meantime, I’d much rather write about how I came to mock religion as I do now.

The idea for this one came to me via a memory, triggered by the way someone reacted to a Facebook post of mine yesterday, a post which led to me sharing this: (I don’t know why the FB embed is not displaying. It worked before publishing and now it isn’t, so I’m using an image instead.)

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Let’s wind back that clock, shall we? The year was 1985, my first year of high school. Standard six, or grade eight as they call it now. I’d had a fairly protected upbringing, by parents who were devout Roman Catholic, and my mother in particular was paranoid about other religions (their youth programs and so forth) being more fun than the Catholic Sunday school and youth programs we attended, which were very much old school.

That alone is ironic, come to think of it. In her own way, my mother recognized the harm of indoctrination, and was worried that my brother or I might be sucked into some other more modern church. (I highly doubt there was much of a chance of that happening to either of us, for different reasons. She should have given us more credit. Mind you, as a parent, I understand.) But getting back to the point, my protected upbringing meant my only exposure to Christianity was though the lens of our weekly attendance at Mass, and Sunday school. She didn’t even like the idea of us going to other Christian churches, which suited me fine because I didn’t much like the idea of that either.

So… imagine my surprise when some twat handed out Gideons Bibles at school and I actually read mine. It was the first time I didn’t get cherry picked Bible verses through the lens of the parish priest, and… wow! What a lot of bullshit! Fucking pages and pages and pages of lineages of men, such as Joseph. It’s like they just put random writings together. Sorry, I can’t refer to which chapter and verse because I’m not interested in looking that up, but clearly whoever made sure they showed that Joseph descended directly from David was unaware that he allegedly didn’t father Jesus. It’s blatantly obvious when reading that, that some writers were quite unaware of the daddy is god and mommy is a virgin claim, and at the time of that writing, Jesus was shown to be descended from David. (The same David who was mysteriously celebrated for taking a ranged weapon to hand to hand combat, and cheating, shooting his opponent before the man could even reach the battlefield. Kind of like taking a gun to a boxing match. That cunt.)

Further, it was blatantly obvious to me as a thirteen year old reading the Bible that it described all kinds of things that never happened. And I do mean never. Where does one go from this kind of revelation? Well, it seems most Christians just put that doubt out of their heads and find excuses to carry right on believing. I tried. I wanted to believe so I told myself that maybe some of the stuff was nonsense but the idea of god and Jesus and the creation and heaven were true. But I did also mock that stupid verse from Revelation. It struck me as hilarious that this was the source of the Beast, 666, and all that as used in various horror movies like The Omen. But actually read it and it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo. So I wrote it all over the school desks (along with a couple of other things and drawings that I won’t mention here)… I wrote it along with the chapter and verse, and can you guess how other people responded? They didn’t believe those words actually came from the Bible. Because like me, they had never read it.

So you could say I had a crisis of faith, because I read the Bible. Because I saw it for what it really was. But I tried to hang on, force myself to keep believing, because to my father, being Catholic was very important. It was a strong part of his identity. I went through with my confirmation at age 14, and didn’t speak of my doubt to anyone. By the age of 15 my reasoning went like this: Why should I believe that other people, born into a different religion such as Islam, who believe just as sincerely as we do, will be punished for all eternity? Just because they were born to parents who taught them a different religion to me? Why? Even if I assume a god exists, why would he be so cruel? It’s a birth lottery; nothing more.

I’d lay awake at night wondering about such things. In some moments I did believe, and wonder why this god would punish those other innocent people. In other moments, theirs was the true religion, and I’d be the one to suffer in Hell because their god would punish me for being born into the wrong religion. And then like most people (I imagine), I’d put those thoughts away during the day and focus on other things that teenagers focused on.

I have mentioned before, a school acquaintance named Meri, from Finland, who prompted me to lose my faith. Perhaps I gave her too much credit, so this time, including the paragraphs before this one, I’m writing the whole story. That was my state of mind – extreme confusion, because I saw everything in the Bible as pure nonsense, and yet I believed, kind of. I clung to that belief with a thread. Then one day, I heard a girl crying. Her name was Meri, and she spoke with a funny accent. No one liked her because she was different. A group of boys were jeering and laughing at her and even my friend Dale, who I thought was a nice guy, was smirking at the absurdity of her not believing in god.

I approached her because I felt bad for her, because I was quiet and shy and different to most people, because I also isolated myself. So I asked her what this was about, and she asked me, “Do you believe in religion, and god?” I said “Yes, I do”, to which she responded, the tears barely dry in her eyes, “Why!? Why do you believe? It’s so stupid.” And just like that, seeing that it was acceptable to doubt, I stopped believing. Because I had no reason to believe. If I’d had the words to answer her in those few seconds before my belief vanished forever, I’d have said, “I believe because I’ve always believed, because I know that god is real. I know it in my heart.” But I didn’t know any such thing. That was the simple fact. The only words I could form were the sheepish, “I don’t know (why I believe)”, but the reality was, my mind was racing – I went from “knowing” god is real to knowing with absolute certainty that this god was made up by men.

I did at one stage believe that mocking religion, or scoffing at the absurdity of it, as she did, might trigger others to think, to have that moment of clarity and change their minds, as it did for me. But it’s never happened. Maybe I was naive to think it could? Most likely I think, it was inevitable that I’d end up atheist – the complete loss of faith was already cemented in my doubts and she just provided the final nail to crucify those beliefs. But regardless, that is only a small part of why I mock religion. At sixteen years old, I still thought that for the most part, religion was a good thing, that it taught useful virtues and values, and that religious people were good people. I was wrong.

I should have known from the way those good Christian boys treated Meri, but I didn’t see it. Not yet. But dear reader, doesn’t my story of her seem slightly familiar? And no, I don’t mean because I have written about her before. Others have made movies using a very similar plot. I’m thinking of Kevin Sorbo with his God’s Not Dead trash. It’s a familiar narrative, one shared by 1000001 edgy Facebook Christians who share their persecution narratives, except in their fiction, it’s atheists who condescend to them and bully them. Let me make this crystal fucking clear: We live in a credulous world where people, the majority are held together by blind faith and magical thinking, where most people are driven by apophenia and take comfort in their fictional everlasting life, where the atheists are the exceptions, and where we are very much at the receiving end of bullying and harassment. It’s been this way for hundreds of years.

Like it’s not bad enough that my parents were like two blind mice in their Catholicism and they made me spend all those Sunday morning wasting my fucking time in Mass and Sunday school, and all those months… actually years worrying about Hell and endless torment; like it’s not bad enough that my son had to be subjected to that bullshit too; we can’t even have Facebook groups especially for atheists without some willfully ignorant buffoons trying to proselytize to us and “save” us.

Your arguments are vapid, full of fallacies, ad hominem, appeals to irrelevant authority, argumentum ad populum, begging the question, and outright nonsense. And no, I don’t need expertise in fucking philosophy to reject your assumption that a creator exists. Philosophy isn’t about that – you’re simply equivocating, hiding behind words that you don’t understand to justify an assumption that makes no sense whatsoever, but is based on what you think you know with your brainwashed mind, not on evidence. And no, I do not need to know theology to understand that it is all nonsense when it is obvious from the outside that studying it is simply a matter of studying the innermost details of the made up shit. I don’t need to smear the shit on my nose to know that it stinks. And I certainly do not need to feel compelled to respond to such presumptuous passive aggressive statements masquerading as questions.

But by the way, there are many people who have studied theology and concluded that it is bullshit. And if you really want to play the argumentum ad populum game, then boy do I have bad news for you.

But getting back to my personal story, things took another turn when I was around 18. By then an atheist but not public about it, I spent a year in the old apartheid army, due to conscription. There I heard preachers preaching a strange brand of Christianity I hadn’t heard before, where they read “purity of races” right into their Bibles. I don’t remember what Bible verses once again, but it doesn’t matter. They were pretty convincing, to each other at least. So Christianity was used to justify racism and white supremacy, and a law known as the “Group Areas Act” back then which forced people of different colour to live in separate neighbourhoods. Since then I’ve heard of others with similar racism, people who claim that black people are the “sons of Nod”, the cursed descendants of Cain who murdered his brother Abel, and they use this to justify their belief that white people are superior.

You had to jump through some hoops for the racism to make sense just the same as you do for those who use the Bible to justify homophobia – where the righteous man, Lot, offered up his two daughters to be gang raped by a group of men who wanted to get to the two angels in his home. That verse is used to justify that the men were gay (because they wanted the angels). But it is OK that he offered them his daughters? Why offer his daughters to gay men? And why is it OK to offer women to be raped?

Speaking of Lot and family, his wife was allegedly turned to a pillar of salt for daring to turn her head. Who turned to witness this? But Lot one day got both his daughters pregnant and that’s not a problem. But by all means, don’t be gay. That’s wrong.

Right now, there are Americans spouting the same kind of rhetoric that the boneheads did in the old South Africa. In fact, they’re super popular among the right wing here. Racist scum, the lot of them!

Here’s a fact that too many people are blind to see: Extremism, while it may well exist only on the fringe, is the truest form of any ideology. Religion is all about elitism, the belief that you are right and everybody else is wrong. Taken to its natural extreme, it’s all about hate.

But just as many Christians are willingly blind and ignorant to the nonsense of their own religious texts, so are they blind to the hatred of their beliefs taken to the extreme. It’s not just that your beliefs are absurd, whether you’re like that commenter with his presumptuous Gish gallop of just asking questions, or you’re one of those edgy “I identify as black” white Christians attacking transgender people, or you’re an American politician hiding behind “traditional marriage” to justify homophobia, or you’re just a normal churchgoing person who turns a blind eye to all the harm that your religion does… I see through you. I mock you along with the subject of your belief, because you deserve it. By failing to open up your mind to reality, by not rejecting religion and all the harm that it does, even if you are not one of those vile evil people I have mentioned, you do enable them.

Apparently accepting multiple bullshit magic dudes at face value is better than accepting only one?

I soooo wanna reply to her in two days when my ban gets lifted. I’ll probably get unfriended but still…

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I believe English is not her first language (she’s Polish), so “yet we the same time brush off…” is an error. She’s Jewish. It’s a slight error but I’m mentioning it just to clarify what she means.

I find this reasoning baffling. Believing in multiple people doing the impossible and defying the laws of physics and reality isn’t better than believing in just one magic dude. You might be tempted to think it’s even worse, but not me… I’d say it’s about the same. One magic man vs many magic men – same shit, different dogma.

I always find it weird when people claim their religions are better than others. It’s like saying “My magic is the real magic because my magic is real.” Except it isn’t real. It’s just that you’re indoctrinated to believe in your magic and not the other magic.

It’s all bullshit.

Edit: Hey, this meme makes the same point…


I do think she makes one point though, by accident. There is a lot more going on in the Old Testament. God speaks to Abraham, commands men to cut off part of their penises, kills some dude for pulling out rather than impregnating his dead brother’s wife, there are many prophets, god himself gets to commit genocide more than once… A lot.

In fact, the tone is so different, it seems like a different god, and once you get past the superficial bits that appear to follow on, it should be clear that this isn’t the same god at all. It’s just a bunch of people with a new religion who appropriated the culture of an old one that they stole bits from. They even went as far as retconning the purpose of Judaism to be all about Jesus. Of course the Muslims retcon Christianity in a similar manner. I find it all quite hilarious.

Calling atheists nihilists is nothing more than the flip side of the argument from morality

Well, well, well. Here we go again. Prompted by a dumb argument I read the other day, I have yet another reason to revisit the argument from morality.

Since I’ve written about it before, today I’ll give a brief summary… The argument from morality is an argument in religious apologetics for the existence of god; one that unfortunately gets reused to make a dubious claim about atheists, by theists who do not fully understand the original argument at all. It goes something like this:

  • Premise 1: Objective morality exists.
  • Premise 2: God is the source of objective morality.
  • Inference: Therefore god exists.

Ignoring that premise two assumes the conclusion, the main problems with this argument are:

  1. Morality is not objective. It likely evolved before religion, and religion with its supernatural agents, be they gods, spirits, ancestors or whatever, came about as mythical enforcers, if you will, of the moral rules. But morality and social values can and have changed over the years, and even differ in current times by region.
  2. Even if objective morality existed, it is a non sequitur (it does not follow logically) to say that they came from a god. Even worse, whoever makes the argument argues that they come from their specific god.

That’s the argument itself. But when theists use it, rather than make such an argument themselves, they instead claim something like:

  • You’re an atheist. Therefore you have no morals.

That’s it. That’s what they assume. Never mind that the argument from morality is actually an argument for the existence of a god. They simply assert that atheists don’t have morals. This doesn’t make sense, of course. Even if you were to assume that morals are objective and do come from their god, it would not follow that anybody who disbelieves in this god then doesn’t have morals. That’s not even what the original argument is about, because if morals did come from this deity, disbelief would not change that. In a nutshell, the assumption that atheists don’t have morals is based on an ignorant misunderstanding of the argument from morality, which itself is a bad argument anyway.

But today I would like to devote a few words to the flip side of this argument, the claim that atheists are nihilists. So what is nihilism? Google gives me a dubious definition which at first glance appears to confirm their claim:

the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.

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But nihilism is more than that. Here’s a better definition from Merriam-Webster:

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  1. Existence is meaningless, senseless, useless?
  2. Denies any objective ground of truth and especially moral truths?
  3. Destruction is desirable? No, thank you.

OK, so it is a little fuzzy… Morality is subjective. Denying objective morality does not deny morality completely. Life has no inherent meaning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make our own meaning. Our language has evolved from a time when most people were religious, and those who rejected religion were executed as heretics, so there is a bit of bias towards an assumption that morals are objective. But the idea that we who disbelieve in gods think existence itself is useless is still nonsense. Also, how do you get from “God created everything” to a meaning? What is that meaning? It’s another non sequitur.

Edit: I see there is a more sensible definition on dictionary.com:

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That one is at least more updated and not so fuzzy…

I learned my morals from my parents and my peers, as they learned them before me.  But I have taught my son similar morals without a belief in god. In fact, his morals are better than the ones I was taught because he has never been told that he, being a Catholic, is better than anyone else. He has never been taught that he will live forever in Heaven because he happened to be born into the “right” religion. That buck stopped with me.

The assumption that life has meaning just because you believe in a god is also dubious… What meaning? Whether or not life has meaning is personal, and has nothing to do with whether or not you believe a deity created you. I have meaning in my life. If you lack meaning, it is a problem you have psychologically, but if you believe religion gave you meaning, you are giving credit where no credit is due.

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.

 

Revisiting the argument from morality–one of the most peculiar non sequitur arguments from religious apologists

It sucks being on a Facebook ban yet again. While I do end up writing more here, this blog lacks the engagement I crave… It gets loads of views but not much interaction which differs quite a bit from the dozens of reactions and comments I’ve become accustomed to on social media. Anyway, while I’m a Facebook ghost, lurking there and reading without being able to interact, I do find some gems to use for writing material.

Case in point, this.

Comic

Any atheist will spot the main problem with this right off the bat, namely that someone who grows up in a secular household will not make that association; they will not connect morals with a deity. So they would never ask the question asked at the bottom of the first panel. Without that association, the straw man set up in panel two could never happen. Not that anyone would claim that evolution “does away with morals”. Not anyone who knows what evolution is.

Evolution is about the gradual change of living organisms over time. We humans, the most advanced species of great ape on the planet, are social animals. Our society depends on us cooperating with one another, and we tend to care for each other through empathy with them. We’re emotional animals and we project our emotions onto others. Do you think it would be an evolutionary advantage for us to do harm to each other? Obviously selfishness benefits individuals but when it goes too far, it harms the group, and being smarter than other animals, we have evolved rules and laws, customs and values, and we find ways of punishing those who don’t adhere to the rules, which at the most basic level are all about empathy we feel for one another.

It should be fairly obvious that if someone right now goes out with a gun and starts shooting random people, sooner or later someone who is responsible for enforcing the law will stop that person. Likewise, if someone went into a public place thousands of years ago and just started beating everybody with a big stick, whoever was responsible for enforcing the rules there would stop them. And thousands of years ago, there was no Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, or any of the other gods currently worshipped.

Religions are a part of our social structure, just like courts of law. If you go to any worldbuilding forum and read the questions, which are generally in the form, “How do I build a cooperative society where the inhabitants do X and not Y?”, there are invariably answers suggesting using religion to control the members of society, using religion to create and enforce rules. And religion often does that, enforcing a set of quite arbitrary rules about what you can and cannot wear, what you are allowed to eat, and so on. But those rules are arbitrary and rely on an already existing framework of morals and values.

In short, morality exists before gods. God doesn’t tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, but rather, we create gods who only know what right and wrong is because they are based on us. Gods are thus projections of an idealized human, with our rules, our morals and values, and our culture. That’s why there have been so many of them over the years.

From Wikipedia:

Psychologist Matt J. Rossano muses that religion emerged after morality and built upon morality by expanding the social scrutiny of individual behavior to include supernatural agents. By including ever watchful ancestors, spirits and gods in the social realm, humans discovered an effective strategy for restraining selfishness and building more cooperative groups. The adaptive value of religion would have enhanced group survival.

Not that the quote proves anything… My point here is to demonstrate that my view is not unusual.

I see I haven’t even mentioned anything about the argument from morality, the religious apologists argument that god is the source of all morality, and therefore if objective morality exists, god must exist. Honestly I shouldn’t need to. It doesn’t take anything other than common sense to notice that morals and values differ by both geographic region and time. Morals change drastically as society changes, and you won’t, for example, find people burning anyone for witchcraft in modern Christian societies of the West. That’s because morality is subjective. Without objective morality, which the religious apologists claim originates from their god, the argument from morality is clearly nonsense. I refer to it as a non sequitur because it does not follow logically that morals come from a god. Of course, believers in different gods all use the same argument for their specific one, making the whole thing quite silly.

Also, in practice, such as with your typical keyboard warriors for Christ on Facebook, they never make the whole argument. Instead they generally write something else, wherein a premise assumes that atheists don’t have morals.  It makes debating them a complete waste of time because to do so, you will need to point out that their premise assumes an argument from morality and the existence of objective morality. Normally this isn’t even something they want to debate. It’s just something they assume true so they can get on to the subject that really matters to them, which is some derived bullshit not even worth considering. Actually that’s where debates with theists come apart… we ask for evidence and point out that their arguments include all kinds of ridiculous premises, such as the assumption that objective morality exists and creation being a fact, while they expect the conversation to begin at that point where their conclusions have already been assumed true. We literally have two completely different conversations going on, with no middle ground.

Is there no end to the wilful ignorance of the religious?

I keep seeing this trending all over the place, including that one group I keep referring to:

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The atheist who says “why worship a God that I cannot see,” is now hiding in their house, from a virus they cannot see.

First of all, if someone who weren’t an idiot wrote that, they’d have phrased it as “The atheist who asks” and then ended the question with a question mark. Ooh… I cannot emphasize enough how much this annoys me. Secondly, the question implies the assumption that their god exists. An atheist would never actually ask such an odd question, which is contrived because the theist assumes this god exists and is invisible, hence the equivalence makes sense to them. And thirdly, “the atheist…. is now hiding in their…” – I just loathe the way they connect “the atheist” with the pronoun “their”, especially when you know this is not written by someone who cares about gender neutral pronouns. It just doesn’t fucking flow. Use different words, twat! Break the flow deliberately for effect… I like to do that sometimes – fuck with the word order a little to make you, the reader, skip back a few words and read this or that bit again. But to do so by accident in such a short passage is an indication that it’s time to reenroll in kindergarten.

It isn’t being posted ironically either. These people are serious. I don’t know what else to say… it’s just… I used to think there was some point in engaging with these people. There isn’t. And it’s not like there aren’t people patiently commenting on there and pointing out that you can see a virus. I’m about ten years past running out of patience. Dumbfounded.

I’ve resisted the temptation to capture the comments too, but rest assured, there are people there asserting that they are safe because of the “blood of Jesus” but we atheists are not. These are people who go outside, ignoring lockdowns, ignoring safety, oblivious to the risk they pose to everyone else because of the confidence their religion gives them.

We’re doomed.


Oh, look. I just saw another example. They’re sharing it everywhere as if it’s clever.
Image may contain: one or more people and text

Another example of debating theists

Note that when you as a theist think of debating with atheists, you assume I refer to your religion. Of course. Because when you think of god, you imagine your one, whatever one that is. But yours is not the only one I don’t believe in.

Thus I’m sharing this for Christian debaters. When you share a message claiming that atheists will go to hell because they don’t accept Jesus, or you claim “every knee will bend” (every kite will fly? every arse will shit?) nonsense, it makes as much sense as this:

TrollForPrayerWorks

In other words, it makes no sense at all.

Other readers might wonder why I call this a debate, when obviously the above image is not an argument, it’s just garbage. Well, go join a Facebook debate group, and see. Most posts from theists are nothing more than proselytization, or the repeating of religious claims, and each one will repeat a claim from their “one true” religion.

Debating theists is an exercise in futility and will lead to your frustration and possibly loss of sanity. Mocking them however can be entertaining, fun, and a fine way of relieving boredom.

God vs Santa Claus

The other day on social media, someone asked “When did you stop believing in Santa Claus?” and another asked “Why do children figure out that Santa isn’t real but not that god isn’t real?” I thought both were interesting questions, especially because for me, there was a parallel between both moments of disbelief, and also because I remember both times I stopped believing. Some of us do figure it out.

We call Santa Father Christmas over here, or at least we did when I was a child. I’m not sure if the name has changed for all children here thanks to Americanised everything. But anyway, I was six years old when my older cousin, Michelle, told me that Santa isn’t real. I can’t remember the words she used so clearly any more, but I can remember the emotion I felt: anger. In the moment I found out, my first response was anger because it felt like she had spoiled something for me. Anger and a little confusion, but not a moment of doubt. I knew right away that she was telling the truth. Later that month, my father left some fake snow footprints to try convincing me otherwise, but having some “snow” show up in Africa only reinforced that Santa wasn’t real.

When I was sixteen years old (and excuse me if you have read this here before) I heard some school classmates mocking a girl from Finland, named Meri, because she didn’t believe in god. I, brought up Roman Catholic, had no idea that atheists even existed, or that disbelief was even an option, though I’d been struggling with doubts for about two years already, ironically since the year I was confirmed. My major problem with belief was that I’d been taught ours was the one true religion, and everybody who didn’t believe in it would not go to Heaven… yet the only difference between me and people who believed in other religions was the matter of a birth lottery. My religion was not my choice but the result of me being born to Catholics who handed down their beliefs to me, as is the case for others of different faiths.

So I approached Meri, for two reasons: I felt bad that people were laughing at her, and I wanted to understand. It wasn’t much of a conversation really. She asked me if I believed in god, and when I answered in the affirmative, she asked me, “Why?”. It was an exasperated question, form someone who had just been bullied, but at the same time, she scoffed at the thought of belief in a god. And in that moment, I realized I did not have an answer. In that moment, I stopped believing and it was the most relief I felt in years. It was like Michelle all over again, telling me that Santa is made up, except she didn’t even have to say it.

Just like when I was six years old, I didn’t need to think about it much further. I stopped believing instantly, going from believer to disbeliever in a matter of seconds. Simply knowing that I wasn’t the only one to think it didn’t make sense, and knowing that someone could be baffled at the thought of having such a belief, that theism could be absolutely inconceivable to someone who wasn’t taught to believe since childhood, that was enough for me. I’ve never looked back.

Come to think of it, none of my beliefs are fixed. I will change my mind about anything if presented with evidence, or a solid argument that shows evidence does not exist. I’m not unique. There are many of us who reject our indoctrination, and lucky people like Meri who were never brainwashed in the first place. I envy her. I’d rather be baffled by religion than angry it was imposed on me for so long.


Worth adding… I may not be unique, but then my way of thinking doesn’t seem to be too common either. I’ve had plenty of conversations with theists, from debates to more open discussions. I’ve mocked. I’ve made some of the most solid arguments I can imagine, and my arguments are good because I understand both points of view. But nobody, not one person, has ever switched from theist to atheist as I did during the discussion.

What is God? (Baby, don’t smite me.)

Don’t smite me… No duh.

Heeeey, guess what? I’m fine. I can be as irreverent and disrespectful as I want. No deity ever does anything about it. And since I don’t live in a Middle Eastern country or a rural isolated area of Africa, the worst that ever happens is religious people stop talking to me. And that ain’t so bad. As I mentioned last time in the post about reification, the Biblical world where stuff happens such as god coming down and doing shit, is something of myths and fables and the imagination, that we are supposed to accept existed thousands of years ago. It isn’t real.

As much as you reify your Biblical world and your god, it is just an idea. God is an abstraction that explains the unknown and puts it in a neat little black box, a ready-made magical answer to everything. If you’re a believer, you simultaneously know that god is abstract, and forget it, but because you treat this abstraction as something concrete, it remains conveniently undefined and ambiguous. And convenient. Above all, it is a great convenience that your god remains undefined because you never have to qualify what this vague idea of a god actually is. When somebody questions it, it’s easy to turn the tables and expect them to satisfy the burden of proof. But that’s not my main subject today…

Today I want to comment on this stupid Dawkins scale that pops up in every atheist group over and over again:

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According to every other analysis everywhere:

  1. Positions 1 and 7 are impossible.
  2. Number 6 is left as the strongest possible (in other words rational) atheist position.

But I call bullshit.

I get the drill. I can’t prove that some unfalsifiable god doesn’t exist outside of the bounds of the laws of physics, and I can’t prove a negative; therefore the strongest position I should rationally take is that of an agnostic atheist. According to this argument, the existence or lack of existence is unknowable. But I still don’t buy it.

I also can’t prove that there isn’t a monster hiding under my bed. Maybe it moves when I look there? But you know while reading this that the monster is not real and I made it up.

Here’s the thing… Even in that argument, god is treated as something concrete. It reminds me of the media bias called false balance, where two “sides” of an argument are always treated as equal, even if one side is a fringe view based on outright nonsense. (Edit: That seems to be an example of a fallacy I hadn’t heard of: Argument to moderation.) The two sides here are positions one and seven; certainty that a god exists versus certainty that a god does not exist. Sure, when you phrase it like that, it seems reasonable. But it isn’t. God is nothing more than an abstraction. So god certainly exists, but not like theists think… God exists only as an idea. God is man-made but it is the reified deity that the argument refers to. And thus it is perfectly reasonable to take position seven. I don’t have to prove that a man-made fictional deity doesn’t exist, just like I don’t have to prove there isn’t a monster hiding under my bed.

I’m struggling to express this clearly and reading it back, remain uncertain if I have. Have I? There are multiple claims of gods, and believers often quote the words of their various claims (like the Bible or whatever) but seem to miss on something important: the existence of a claim does not make the claim true. It is evidence only of the belief and not in the subject believed. The fact that many such claims exist only makes it interesting in terms of the need to believe, and the mistake of treating this abstraction as concrete being common. If even Richard Dawkins can bake this mistake right into his scale, it says more about the way the human brain works than it does about an idea, like god, that the human brain came up with. I hope Dawkins would agree with me on this.