January 22

Shifting the Narrative, and my diet

Anyone who has debated with me online knows that it takes a lot to push me to use personal insults. In fact, very few people have seen me resort to such tactics at all in quite some time. I see a lot of people from every side who use such tactics in debate, and it saddens me that people who really do have a valid argument are still drawn in by the temptation of using insults.

Even though I do not resort to such methods, I have been targeted by some rather horrendous insults. I will not repeat them here, let’s just say that they would fall under “fight words” if used in person.

I find that patience and an even disposition serves me much better in debate. There are some who can’t handle it, and blow up at me before blocking me. However, more are taken aback at my lack of insults, and are more open to listening. This is my goal. Sure, it might be fun to go flaming across Twitter abusing all of the groups I disagree with, but the end result would be pointless. So, I try hard not to personally insult people.

This does NOT mean I will not insult ideas, or “non-people” (Those who are dead, fictional, or of unknown existence). In addition, I may refer to well known people by their behavior (Such as calling Zakir Naik a charlatan, or Trump an amoral opportunist)

On a slightly different note, I am in week three of my second attempt at vegetarianism. With the help of my wonderful wife, I have been able to switch my diet from a few meats (chicken, and turkey) to nearly none at all. I say nearly, because I lapsed twice so far. I am still trying hard to maintain it, even though I crave omnivorousness.

My reason for doing so is to reduce inflammation causing foods, as well as lose a bit of weight. Morally, however, I am also trying to avoid unnecessary suffering of animals. I think I can exist without requiring another being with a nervous system experiencing pain. My goal is to eventually be free from my meat cravings. We shall see!

It is a personal choice, and I am not going to go on a crusade to change anyone else, not even within my own home. The eldest wishes to be a pescatarian, and my wife is still a happy omnivore.

However, I am up for sharing recipes!

December 3

A formal critique of “God exists scintifically. How???”

First off, I will not be attacking grammar or spelling. I believe this person to be a non-native English writer, so I congratulate him on attempting a difficult subject in a language that is not his native tongue.

We will be examining the arguments alone.

First, the pertinent links:

Main argument: http://g-e-s-how.blogspot.com/

Secondary definition of God: http://g-e-s-how.blogspot.com/p/defining-god.html

Summary of claim:

Claimant asserts that God must exist based on the following argument:

To prove whether god exists or not, mankind must have total knowledge of all of reality.

However, the universe is expanding. Therefore, that which can be known is constantly expanding, and we can never know everything. We can never conclusively prove that god does not exist.

Probability that a god does not exist is therefore finite knowledge / infinite possible knowledge and therefore 0.

God is now defined as equal to the unknown knowledge, so this god is also constantly expanding and is therefore infinite.

Claimant asserts this means that the probability that a god exists is therefore infinite knowledge / infinite possible knowledge and therefore 1.

I’m sure some of my readers have spotted some errors. Let’s see if I catch them all.

  1. Unsupported claim: Mankind must have total knowledge of all of reality in order to prove or disprove god’s existence.
    I’ve seen this one asserted by some religious people from time to time, although most limit it to God’s nonexistence. As an agnostic atheist, I find absolute proof of his nonexistence irrelevant. However, depending on the definition of specific gods, they can be ruled out, one by one, due to their impossibility or their internal inconsistency.
  2. Definition of god is irrelevant to the logic of the claim (Not to mention in contradiction to the other definition, but that comes later). I know the claimant would disagree, but the definition given of this god presumes it’s existence. It is a begging the question logical fallacy. Basically, it is stating “I define God as being X, and X exists, therefore atheists cannot disprove God.” Yes, this claimant is saying we would have to examine all of reality to make sure it isn’t really God, but in doing so he is shifting the burden of proof and lodging an argument from ignorance.
  3. The claimant’s understanding of the nature of infinity is rudimentary at best. He goes on to talk about things such as “2*Infinity”. Infinity is not just a variable. One cannot add, multiply, or divide infinities unless one is dealing with hyperreal fields and nonstandard analysis, well beyond the simple arithmetic this claimant is using.

    (EDIT: Another poster pointed out that using infinities in arithmetic gives undefined results, so his math is literally meaningless. Thanks atheist religionfree!)

  4. Probability is the study of the likelihood of events. These likelihoods are given numbers from 0 to 1. there are a variety of ways to calculate and manipulate the numbers to find out, for example, to probability of flipping a standard coin and getting heads ten times in a row (1 in 1024, or a probability of 0.0009765625). To break down his math, however, he is not dealing with numbers in the same field. In fact, he is not dealing with numbers at all. Finite is not a number, nor is infinite. You can’t divide one by the other, especially not to get a probability. Not mathematically, anyway.
  5. Finally, even if his math was correct, what he is proving is not the existence of god, but our ability to prove or disprove it. Because the base is our knowledge versus all knowledge, the existence or nonexistence of god never actually is in question.

Definition of God

After discussing this with the claimant on Twitter, he said that the definition of God for this claim was

And in this case God existence will be equal To the unknown Knowledge.

which is interesting, as he also has a page defining what God is. (Yes, I know he has a screen cap from Avatar and the logo from Game of Thrones. He’s trying to illustrate his point)

His definitions are rudimentary again. He compares people to computer avatars. (Avatar, get it?) However, there are a few problems with this analogy.

First, God allegedly made the entire universe and is omnipotent/omniscient/etc. In other words, he should be capable of creating humans that could understand him (Just as I could program an avatar that could understand what a computer is, and a programmer, and that they are inside a simulation. Or appear to. Where is the line, anyway?) And this is the sticking point; most theists claim humans cannot understand God, then go on to explain God. If we can’t understand God, how do they?

Divine will/gift? Then how do they hope to convince the rest of us that do not have such a wonderful gift of understanding?

His second definition is that God must have obviously created all creatures and living things. Not sure why this is a “must”. Oops, he cautions that it can’t be understood, just have to accept it as truth (This is called dogma. It is not a good thing). But, wait, it can be tested scientifically! This author seems to be a bit confused. He says we have to wait until the end of the article.

Third definition is that God must be alive, because, to sum up, life comes only from life.

Third definition (again) is that God must be a conscious mind. Because whomever created a human mind must be a greater mind.

Unfortunately, the author never gets back to the scientific test to show God created all creatures. I suppose he is not finished with the article yet.

August 6

Aggressive Atheism

Over time, I have been accused of being an aggressive atheist.

Oh, the terminology has changed. I’ve been called an asshole. I’ve been told I am “proselytizing”. I’ve been told that I am too open and vocal about my atheism, even once by another atheist (or so they claimed at the time).

“Oh,” you are thinking, “You must be one of those anti-theists. You hate religion and the religious.”

Nope. I don’t hate anyone, and find religion to be, at best, annoying, and, at worst, an excuse for people to treat each other badly. Why, then, am I labeled like that?

Because I speak truth to believers. I point out the flaws in their belief, in their logic, and I ask questions that challenge their worldview. Let me give you an example.

Recently, a Facebook friend posted a meme of a “white Jesus” with the question, “Is there room for me on your wall?”

If I had been an anti-theist, my response would have been something along the lines of, “Sure, let me go get some nails.” or “Fuck no! He isn’t real!”

Anti-theism is not about speaking truth. It is about reacting negatively to religion. It can be dogmatic (All religion is wrong and evil!). It is usually very aggressive

What I did was ask why I would want a portrait of Cesare Borgia on my wall. For those of you who don’t know, the images of Jesus used in mainstream Christianity are of Cesare Borgia, a disgusting man from the 15th century who was given a PR makeover by his father. He had a variety of images created with Cesare as Jesus Christ. The campaign was super effective, and very, very few people today know that White Jesus is not Jesus at all, but Borgia.

By the end of it, I was threatened with violence, told by one person they had no idea what I believed (and then went on to tell me what I believed. Or, more accurately, what they thought I believed), told my parents had failed somewhere with me, and then blocked by someone who has known me since I was about eight years old.

Did I throw any insults? Not one.

Did I call people stupid? Nope.

I didn’t even really challenge their faith. But, I made them question it themselves, and that horrifies people. So, while it is acceptable for some Christians to say that other people deserve to be tortured for eternity, inciting thought and critical thinking is a crime worthy of banishment.

CHRISTAIN WARRIOR 1
At least I’m not one of these guys.

Why don’t I insult believers? For the same reason I don’t blame women for being raped, or the elderly for getting ripped off. Religion is a scam, and blaming those that have been scammed does nothing positive. The best thing for me to do is plant the seeds of doubt. In those that have a mind open enough to it, maybe they will realize the scam and get free. Forcing them with insults is not my style.

So, call me an aggressive atheist for challenging worldviews. It could be worse…

 

 

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April 3

How to Save the World, part I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the thing.

We all live on this planet. All of us. Hindus. Muslims. Christians. Black People. White People. Asians. Nerds. Jocks. Tall people. Short. Americans. North Koreans. Iraqis. All the humans.

We share the planet with millions of species of animals, plants, single cell organisms, some interesting things between.

Setting aside the natural world for now, we have a big problem. It’s a problem with our base nature as humans. We hate being wrong. Which means we love being right. Enough that we fight, sometimes to the death, to be right.

The worst fights are the ones over religion. The big problem with that is that there is no way to really know who is right objectively. Not a problem for the average believer, but it does cause a lot of division. enmity, and warfare between different groups.

Except one.

There is one group that does not fight about whose holy book is correct. One that does not bicker over translation or meaning, over interpretation or theology. Unfortunately, this group is distrusted by the largest groups of theists. That’s right, it’s the atheists.

No dogma, no leaders or text that must be followed without question.

So, what does this mean?

Every major religion promises that, at some point, it can bring about peace. Whether it is personal peace or world peace… the problem is that, with rare exceptions, none have delivered this peace. The funny thing is that I think that the only viewpoint that could actually do it is the only one that does not promise it. But, not as it is right now.

Atheism suffers from the same problem as all the others: the overwhelming desire to be right. This leads to a lot of office chair atheist warriors flooding online communities, itching for a fight. I myself have been embroiled in these fights, to my shame. I wrote a three part series on how to disengage from them (here, here, and here) but even I have a hard time resisting it.

In order for atheism to save us from the ten thousand plus years of religious warfare, we, as atheists, are going to have to rise above the petty squabbles and strive to be better at being mature about it. Stand up for the rights of all, even the religious, even when we disagree with the message.

“But, why? Their beliefs are silly!” I hear you say indignantly.

So what? Actions are what is important. Beliefs are less so. As long as they do not force others to do things, what does it matter? Do you mind what pagans do out in the forest if they aren’t hurting anyone?

Learn to live and let live. It’s what we want them to do, and we need to lead by example.

January 15

Funny arguments of the week

Crosseyed
Ever get the feeling that your opponent in a battle of wits is a little less than armed?

Some of you who know me personally know that I tend to like to argue. While, in my early life, this led to a lot of stress, tension, and headaches for my parents, as an adult, I eventually learned to channel my natural impulses to debate into a more constructive (or, at least, a bit less destructive) use on the Internet.

No, seriously. Arguing on the Internet is a good outlet for me. I found that I argue less with my wife and kids, less with my parents (well, unless it is online, but that is another issue), and less with my ex-wife.

Sometimes, it can be a bit humorous. For the past five years or so, I was an admin on a Facebook debate group about religion and atheism.

But, a few months ago, the group was deleted by Facebook for [reasons]. Oh well. At that point, I decided to try and wean myself off of the debates. I felt a sense of loss, sure, but I felt it was time. I had better things to do with my time, like working on my webcomic, Fred the Dot.

But, I missed it. Rather than get as deeply into it as I had been, I decided to limit myself. A group here, a debate there. Well, one area I started dipping my toe into was Youtube debate.

The first thing that comes to mind is the quote from Episode IV. A hive of scum and villainy. Even so, it has been oddly satisfying.

Recently, I got into a heated debate on a video regarding the portrayal of the LGBT community in games. It devolved into a discussion of how HIV spread. This individual was somehow convinced that HIV and other STIs were caused by (wait for it…) feces, and that anal sex was the cause of it, not just the transmission route. After he launched into insults and the like, I showed him an explanation of how one got HIV from the same website he had been using for his argument against homosexual men.

During the same series of discussions, I had people try to convince me that I worshiped Satan, that each generation could determine meanings for words at their discretion (to which I responded with current slang, and the person got pissed off because he thought I was using nonsense, made up words), and some of the stereotypical lame arguments against homosexuality. What I do with my private parts is none of your damn business (unless a being is involved that does not legally consent), and vice versa, and that is how I feel about everyone.

But, in the end, I realized that it is ultimately not satisfying. Imagine in a game that when you beat the final boss, the boss just stops moving and sits there. That is what it is like to argue online. So, no more. I’m moving on.

Currently in my Steam Library, I have 149 games. Some of them I have never even played. So, I will be playing and reviewing each and every one, one game a week, from now on, posting my progress here. I may even post videos. Who knows! We shall see. Super fun awesome game time!