Just received this. Here are my thoughts:

All we seen and have shown to be true about our universe indicates that complexity comes from simplicity. Be it evolution or cosmology, complex systems are nothing more than the sum of simpler more basic systems. At one point, at the begging of time, the universe was way more simple than what it is today. Just what we would expect from an unguided state of affairs. 

Now, If the complexity and/or mathematical precision of the universe today requires an even more complex designer than the universe itself, where did the designer’s complexity come from to begin with? What reasoning mind could side step such basic question? What reasoning mind would assert no need to explain the alleged designer’s complexity? If one side steps the question on the  designer, why not do it as well in regards to the universe itself? The designer idea becomes and is wholly unnecessary, and still we do have good hypothesis of how the universe came to be… 

I recommend the book “A Universe from Nothing” by Krause on the topic.

Isn’t such trite argumentation evidently self defeating? Only when a reasoning mind realizes that complexity comes from simplicity are the doors open to accept the fact that belief in a grand designer is superfluous. The universe itself is a witness against such fact lacking assumptions of design and unaccounted for complexity. 

In reason:
-FA

PD
Watch some Cosmos on Fox. Great program.

Just received this. Here are my thoughts:

All we seen and have shown to be true about our universe indicates that complexity comes from simplicity. Be it evolution or cosmology, complex systems are nothing more than the sum of simpler more basic systems. At one point, at the begging of time, the universe was way more simple than what it is today. Just what we would expect from an unguided state of affairs.

Now, If the complexity and/or mathematical precision of the universe today requires an even more complex designer than the universe itself, where did the designer’s complexity come from to begin with? What reasoning mind could side step such basic question? What reasoning mind would assert no need to explain the alleged designer’s complexity? If one side steps the question on the designer, why not do it as well in regards to the universe itself? The designer idea becomes and is wholly unnecessary, and still we do have good hypothesis of how the universe came to be…

I recommend the book “A Universe from Nothing” by Krause on the topic.

Isn’t such trite argumentation evidently self defeating? Only when a reasoning mind realizes that complexity comes from simplicity are the doors open to accept the fact that belief in a grand designer is superfluous. The universe itself is a witness against such fact lacking assumptions of design and unaccounted for complexity.

In reason:
-FA

PD
Watch some Cosmos on Fox. Great program.

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor (CNN) — How did Syria go from an internal uprising to a wider clash drawing funding and fighters from across the region?

In a word, Middle East experts say, religion.

Shiite Muslims from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran have flooded into Syria to defend sacred sites and President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime. Sunni Muslims, some affiliated with al Qaeda, have rushed in to join rebels, most of whom are Sunni.

Both sides use religious rhetoric as a rallying cry, calling each other “infidels” and “Satan’s army.”

"That is why it has become so muddy," said professor Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "The theological question has returned to the center."

That’s not to say that the warring parties are fighting over, say, the definition of God.

But the United Nations, in a series of reports, has warned with mounting urgency that the battle lines in Syria are being drawn along sectarian - that is, religious - lines. Both sides fear that whoever wins power will obliterate the loser.

Belief in gods, making things worse since men invented them.

-FA

The article states: In 2009, Yemen’s parliament passed legislation raising the minimum age of marriage to 17. But conservative parliamentarians argued the bill violated Islamic law, which does not stipulate a minimum age of marriage, and the bill was never signed. Activist groups and politicians are still trying change the law, but more than 100 leading religious clerics have said restricting the age of marriage is “un-Islamic.”

Clerics supporting pedophiles. I guess Catholicism is not the only one…

hey-cest-la-vie asked:

I think people pray because it's hard for them to accept that there are things they can't do anything about... thoughts?

As a former believer my reasons for praying were simple. I actually thought that a god would intervene positively in my life and in the life of others if i simply asked. (See Matthew 7:7, 21:22, etc..) Even on things I could do on my own. I mean, if I study for a test I will do good but if god is on my side I will do even better. Right? Or at least that is the logic… 

That being said the mind of a believer is one of contradiction, actually one of ignoring contradiction. My church would pray for healing of a sick individual, for example. If the person got healed it was divine intervention, if the person died no one blamed god or complained that he was sleeping or ignoring our prayers. (1 Kings 18:27) Convenient, right?

I used to be, at 18 years old, the director for evangelical outreach at my church (yes, i was that committed to the gospel back then.) I remember how once I was asked to lead a group to the house of an older sick man for prayer. Specifically to pray for a speedy recovery/healing (he had the flu or a cold). When I got there I realized the man had no legs as he was sitting in a wheelchair. Then it really hit me that I was there to pray for a cold… The fact of the matter is that I could not do anything for that man, and neither could god. NO matter how much we prayed. How could I in good conscience pray for the healing of a cold if I did not have the “cojones” to pray for the regeneration of the man’s legs? The inconsistency hit me square in the face. I knew at that second that prayer would not make that man whole (James 5:13-15) ever. That was the beginning of doubt for me…

As I think back on those days the words of Marian Noel Sherman ring true:

Religious people often accuse atheists of being arrogant and of placing ourselves in the position of God, but really it is the theist who has all the vanity. He can’t stand to think that he will ever cease to exist. As Freud said, Christianity is the most egotistical of the religions. It is based on the premise ‘Jesus saves me.’

Some may say that the reasons for prayer are not external (healing, miracles, rain, finding car keys) but internal (peace, humility, empathy). But such an argument misses the point (as it ignores hundreds of bible verses on the topic). If such argument is true then, what makes such a “prayer” different from meditation of positive self-talk? Why assume divinity where humanity is the one at action here?

People will pray because they have been taught to believe as much since children, because it makes them feel good to leave the future in the hands of an invisible “other”, because it is easier to see life as part of a grand plan that someone set up for them before they were born. It is easier to assume so than to actually realize that we are alone in this universe and that all that happens, or does not happen, is up to us and no one else. To me the latter is better than the former. To create my own purpose is to live. To recognize the frailty and shortness of existence is to value it even more. To know that relationships will end means that they have to be enjoyed completely because the here and the now is all we have.

Truly, hands that work do infinitely more than hands that pray…

In reason:

-FA

aljazeera

Behind the rise of Bangladesh’s Hifazat

aljazeera:

image

Group that triggered deadly protests has surprised many with its rise to prominence.

How is it that so many influential and powerful islamic fundamentalist groups exist if they are just a “perversion” of islamic teachings that the extreme majority of believers do not support? I am actually curious. Any studies out there? Are we over counting the moderates and under counting the extremists? Are the enablers not counted or tallied under the moderate camp?

Question received…

Hello Friendly Atheist!

I am a big fan of yours and was wondering if you might tackle a question I myself haven’t been able to answer. I don’t have a tumblr so I’m emailing it — feel free to post the question and answer on your blog if you have a good response (or don’t, whatever :) )

Anyway. I’ve often heard a quote that goes something like “without religion, good people would do good things and bad people would do bad things. However, only religion makes good people do bad things.”

Can’t say I disagree that religion makes otherwise good people do bad things; my strained relationship with my Christian parents after I came out as gay is certainly testament to this.

However, a religious friend presented me with two criticisms of this saying.

The first is this: that religion can also pressure people into doing good things, such as mission trips, donating to homeless shelters, what have you. Can we overlook the possibility that religion could be responsible for otherwise BAD people doing GOOD things? In other words, might religiously inspired morals act as a check on society’s psychopaths? Is there any way to weigh the good things religion causes against the bad things? My friend suggests that at best, it is a draw, and the number of good people and bad people freed to follow their impulses would even out if religion were to disappear. 

The second criticism is that various political and cultural beliefs can also persuade good people to do bad things, and so the attention to religion specifically is undue. An example might be an average WWIII era German citizen who is brainwashed into hating Jews because of the ubiquitous propaganda. 

My impulse is to argue that there’s a strong rational basis for many morals, and so provided that religion is replaced with reason, moral behaviour would thrive if religion was eradicated. But I find this difficult to explain and so am wondering if you have any insight on this issue (I didn’t see anything on your FAQ that quite answered the question).

Thanks!
In reason,
~Ana

Some thoughts:

I don’t credit religion for “forcing people” to do good things. The fact that prisons are filled with the religious tells me that is not the case. Where is this “forcing” he speaks off? I don’t see it. Do you? Actually if you look at the history of religion what you will find is the total contrary. From the crusades to Islamic sectarian violence, for any good deed religion claims credit for, there are 20,000 evil deeds whose only and direct source it religious beliefs and dogma. To claim it is a “draw” is truly inane.

There is no way that your friend can prove religion prevents evil people for doing otherwise. How would you know someone is evil if they never do evil things? He just assumes that the good he sees in the religious has to come from religion. That is not true. The fact that atheists also do good shows that is not the case. He assumes people are evil by default (typical christian dogmatic assumption) and that religion is a tamer of such natural “sin”. Actually, since we are a social species that is not the case. The fact that we can live next to each other by the millions is a testament to that biological, not religious, fact. But that is another topic for another question.

Ask your friend, would he go murder someone tomorrow if he lost his faith. Would he? Of course not. Religion does not force anyone to do good. Religion just claims credit for something it had nothing to do with in the first place. Remember, religion is just hereditary myth and superstition (hence why religious beliefs are geographically dependent).

On the other hand I have seen what religious dogma does to people who are nice and caring otherwise. Historically religion has taken evil and redefined it as good (misogyny, slavery, killing of witches, genocide, suicide bombs, gay hate, hate of science, etc..etc…) . It takes secular societal progress and advancements in science and moral theory to drag religion towards modernity and equality. And still it is a fight  religion resists. 

 In regards to WW2 Germans, history shows that Martin Luther was one of the biggest antisemites in history. Why? BECAUSE THE JEWS KILLED CHRIST per religious non-sensical dogma. The catholic church fueled antisemitism in Europe for a thousand years. The fact of the matter is that if Christianity had not developed and promoted Jew hate, the Holocaust would have never happened. If there was any brainwashing, it had religious origin paired with a nationalistic catalyst.

Sam Harris said the following:

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

Reason, empathy and a sense of our shared humanity are the only way forward. Religious myth and superstition are not. History has shown as much, sadly, for too long.

In reason:
-FA

npr
theatlantic:

A Map of Muslim Protests Around the World

The uproar over a 14-minute anti-Islam YouTube video has sparked furious protests from Somalia to Egypt to Sudan to Tunisia to Libya to Bangladesh to Indonesia to Pakistan. With new reports of protests surfacing every minute, we’ve compiled the latest reported incidents into this interactive Google Map.

[Images: Reuters/Google Maps]

All those millions of Islamic “misunderstanders”. Anyone who points this out must be a Islamophobe i guess…
-FA

theatlantic:

A Map of Muslim Protests Around the World

The uproar over a 14-minute anti-Islam YouTube video has sparked furious protests from Somalia to Egypt to Sudan to Tunisia to Libya to Bangladesh to Indonesia to Pakistan. With new reports of protests surfacing every minute, we’ve compiled the latest reported incidents into this interactive Google Map.

[Images: Reuters/Google Maps]

All those millions of Islamic “misunderstanders”. Anyone who points this out must be a Islamophobe i guess…

-FA