Saturday, February 24, 2007

Religion In Confusion!

There is a great number of dysfunctional and cognitively challenged people in this world who claim that they were created by a supernatural entity which they refer to as ‘god’. Their claims are entirely unsupportable by logic, evidence, or science. These delusional people also fail to acknowledge that, rationally, the claims they make for their particular ‘creator god’ can be maintained only if they have first disproved the competing claims of those who ‘believe’ in other ‘creator gods’. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, these ignorant fools are blithely unaware that no-one has ever been able to disprove the competing claims made for those other so-called ‘gods’. In polite circles, this group of people is known as the laity.

There is a smaller number of manipulative and exploitative charlatans who purport to be ‘mouthpieces’ or spokespersons for whichever version of ‘god’ the credulous buffoons which comprise the laity claim to ‘believe’ in. In polite circles, this smaller group of people is known as clerics. Clerics are fundamentally different to the laity. For a start, most of them are well aware that the claims they make on behalf of these anthropomorphic inventions that both they and the laity pretend to pay lip-service to are entirely unsupportable by logic, evidence, or science. Clerics are also aware that the claims made by adherents of other ‘creator gods’ are intrinsically fatal to their own claims unless these can be substantively disproved. However, since the laity to whom they preach are too ignorant to appreciate the import of that fact, clerics have found it unnecessary to attempt to do so.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, clerics in the main ‘Abrahamic religions’ have been known to point out that there really is no conflicting claims between them, since ‘Yahweh’, ‘Allah’, and ‘God’ are one and the same. Were this true, then it is incumbent of the followers of this ‘one and the same god’ to offer a credible explanation as to why each of these religions have their own substantially different versions of this so-called ‘god’s’ ‘inerrant word’ and, furthermore, why they have spent so much of their time killing each other in the name of this ‘one and the same god’? Their failure to provide such an explanation amply demonstrates to all but the thoroughly dishonest that these religions are manifestly not motivated by ‘one and the same god’, and that anyone who claims otherwise is simply being duplicitous in the extreme.

Another example demonstrating that this ‘one god’ argument is entirely specious is the fact that large numbers of those who claim to believe in this fictitious entity also claim that they did not evolve from other life forms, but were created directly by their so-called ‘god’, whilst others who claim to be equally devout accept the scientific evidence supporting evolution. Now on the face of it, these competing claims are irreconcilable, however, the issue is neatly side-stepped by ‘religious evolutionists’ then going on to claim that whilst humans did evolve, evolution was just simply their ‘god’s’ way of ‘creating’ humans, and that evolution is not actually evidence that we evolved, per se, from other species. In other words, theists are in accord; it really was their particular ‘god’ who created us, despite the scientific evidence that the protagonists of evolution present us with.

Current evolutionary estimates by experts suggest that chimpanzees and humans split from a common ancestor 5 million to 7 million years ago. However, this has recently been questioned by a new study, which maintains that this happened just 4 million years ago, and that it took only 400,000 years for humans to become a separate species from the common chimp-human ancestor. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the early ancestors of humans and the ancestors of chimpanzees may have interbred for a long time before they separated.

The study is entitled Genomic Relationships and Speciation Times of Human, Chimpanzee, and Gorilla Inferred from a Coalescent Hidden Markov Model’, and the author’s summary states:

Primate evolution is a central topic in biology and much information can be obtained from DNA sequence data. A key parameter is the time “when we became human,” i.e., the time in the past when descendents of the human–chimp ancestor split into human and chimpanzee. Other important parameters are the time in the past when descendents of the human–chimp–gorilla ancestor split into descendents of the human–chimp ancestor and the gorilla ancestor, and population sizes of the human–chimp and human–chimp–gorilla ancestors. To estimate speciation times and ancestral population sizes we have developed a new methodology that explicitly utilizes the spatial information in contiguous genome alignments. Furthermore, we have applied this methodology to four long autosomal human–chimp–gorilla–orangutan alignments and estimated a very recent speciation time of human and chimp (around 4 million years) and ancestral population sizes much larger than the present-day human effective population size. We also analyzed X-chromosome sequence data and found that the X chromosome has experienced a different history from that of autosomes, possibly because of selection.(sic)
The study is likely to be viewed as controversial, not least by so-called religious ‘believers’. For a start, it flies in the face of the claims made by the completely irrational religious fundamentalists that the world is only some 3-6,000 years old. Second, since all so-called ‘believers’ claim that it was their particular ‘god’ who gave humans their ‘souls’, it is incumbent on them to explain how their particular ‘god’ interceded sometime during our split from our common chimp-human ancestor to ‘insert’ ‘souls’ into we humans, and at what stage ‘he’ did so. Third, if the evidence suggesting that the early ancestors of humans and the ancestors of chimpanzees may have interbred for a long time before they separated is true, then believers will have to explain how their particular ‘god’ viewed that congress and why ‘he ‘ permitted it.

In conclusion, this new study poses more problems for those who maintain that it was their particular so-called ‘god’ who created humans than it does for the rest of us, but it is unlikely that they will address any of the issues which it presents them with. As I said at the beginning of this article, the majority of so-called ‘believers’ are incapable of doing so, and the minority who are manipulating them have no need to do so, as their followers are completely inoculated against evidence and truth.

For those who are interested, the paper appears in a peer-reviewed journal published under the auspices of the Public Library of Science and it can be downloaded in full from the link given above.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bad News For Britain

According to Ruth Gledhill, the religious Religion Correspondent of 'The Times' ...

Roman Catholicism is set to become the dominant religion in Britain for the first time since the Reformation because of massive migration from Catholic countries across the world.

Catholic parishes will swell by hundreds of thousands over the next few years after managing years of decline, according to a new report, as both legal and illegal migrants enter the country.

Haven't we got enough superstitious, ignorant twats of our own?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I AM God!

I came across a website called ‘Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries’ which had an article entitled ’ Strategies for Dialoguing with Atheists’, by someone who calls themselves ‘Ron Rhodes’. The site can be found here, but only those with a strong stomach for reading moronic drivel which bears as much resemblance to ratiocination as an elephant bears to a piece of Stilton cheese should bother to visit it. Nevertheless, for those with a particular penchant for studying abnormal psychology, a visit to Ron provides much of interest. He commences his delusional ramblings with this egregious nonsense…

No one is born an atheist. People choose to become atheists as much as they choose to become Christians. And no matter how strenuously some may try to deny it, atheism is a belief system. It requires faith that God does not exist.

So, there you have it. According to Raving Ron, babies are born theists, but apparently during their subsequent development they make a deliberate choice, either to believe exclusively in the Xtian ‘god’ or none at all. Clearly this will come as some surprise to many of you, but especially all the Jews, Muslims and Hindus out there.

He also alleges that atheism is a “belief system”, but fails to explain why in his obviously febrile and delusional mind he thinks of it as such, though I will leave it to others to disabuse him in that respect. More important is the fact that he implies that ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ are synonyms, which, of course, they are not, and conveniently ignores the fact that belief can be substantiated by evidence and ratiocination, whereas faith represents the lack of these critical factors. Consequently, Ron’s conclusion that “It requires faith that [the Xtian] God does not exist” is complete nonsense, since the fact that no-one has ever been able to produce any credible evidence that ANY so-called ‘god’ exists, never mind the Xtian one, so it is a justified true belief, as epistemologists would have it, to believe that any and all so-called ‘gods’ do not exist.

By now Ron is getting into full stride, metaphorically speaking, and continues with this devastating development of his so-called ‘strategy’ for dealing with atheists…

Some atheists categorically state that there is no God, and all atheists, by definition, believe it. And yet, this assertion is logically indefensible. A person would have to be omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say from his own pool of knowledge that there is no God. Only someone who is capable of being in all places at the same time — with a perfect knowledge of all that is in the universe — can make such a statement based on the facts. To put it another way, a person would have to be God in order to say there is no God

Poor Ron is clearly under the mistaken misapprehension that atheists are as stupid and ignorant as both himself and his fellow theists are, since this is a common argument put forward by theists who are either (a) not very bright, or (b) completely stupid – and that’s before I even get round to mentioning (c) the completely mendacious and duplicitous sophists, not to mention (d) the delusional and psychologically dysfunctional ones.

However, to get back to the argument quoted above, some prefatory remarks are apposite. Since theists cannot even agree amongst themselves what they mean, precisely, by ‘God’ (even when they limit themselves exclusively to speaking about the Xtian one), it demonstrates that either (a) they themselves do not ‘believe’ in the so-called ‘God’ of their fellow theists, or (b) that there is no singular ‘God’ at all, but a plurality them, neither of which is the same.

Despite the not inconsiderable problems arising as a consequence of the foregoing, theists remain undeterred, and have no difficulty in declaiming that their particular and singular ‘God’ exists, even though they are unable to provide one jot of independent, corroborative, credible evidence to support their claims. In either event, however, and until they can define precisely and unanimously what they mean by ‘God’, it is perfectly logical to “categorically state that there is no God”. Thus, Ron’s subsequent claim that “this assertion is logically indefensible” is both invalid and false.

As for Ron’s continuation statement, “A person would have to be omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say from his own pool of knowledge that there is no God,” that would be true only if the requirements for “omniscient” and “omnipresence” were necessary for it to be so. However, since the previous paragraph shows that the statement that “there is no God” can be arrived at by other valid avenues, the requirements for “omniscient” and “omnipresence” are not necessary, therefore yet another of Ron’s claims is false.

By using the same method of rebuttal, Ron’s subsequent claim that, “Only someone who is capable of being in all places at the same time — with a perfect knowledge of all that is in the universe — can make such a statement based on the facts,” can also be shown to be false. Apart from that, astute readers will have noticed that it is simply a restatement of the preceding one using different terms, and that it is tautologous.

Which leaves us with Ron’s devastating summation: “To put it another way, a person would have to be God in order to say there is no God!”

Ineluctably, therefore, I am forced by Ron to arrive at the conclusion that I must be God, since I CAN say, “There is no God!”

Monday, February 12, 2007

‘God’ Is Not ‘All-Powerful’!

Apart from the religious philosopher Alvin Platinga, I have never yet encountered a theist who claimed that this entity which they refer to as ‘God’ is not ‘all-powerful’. On the contrary, and almost exclusively, theists categorically and vociferously claim that their ‘God’ IS ‘all-powerful’, and that these ‘omni-qualities’ are the sine qua non of this entity that they claim to ‘believe’ in and which they assert exists, despite being unable to produce ANY credible evidence for their claims.

However, I found the undernoted claim on a BBC website discussing theism, agnosticism, and atheism, which states clearly that their ‘God’ is not ‘all-powerful’; as yet, no theist has appeared to be able to rebut it, so it must be true…

To know absolutely that there is no God one must have infinite knowledge. But to have infinite knowledge one would have to be God. It is impossible to be God and an atheist at the same time.

Leaving aside whether the premises are true or not, or even whether the conclusion is validly drawn from those premises, the conclusion in and of itself is unequivocal that ‘God’ is not ‘all-powerful’, since it states categorically that, “It is impossible to be God and an atheist at the same time.”

Incredible really, since some sophisticated theologians (with apologies for the oxymoron) claim that this entity they call ‘God’ exists outside existence, yet apparently it can’t be itself and an atheist simultaneously.

Why, even I can do that!


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Professor Alister McGrath: Dysfunctional or Charlatan?

Alister McGrath is Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, and he has just published an article in ‘The Times’ attacking what he calls the “ideological fanaticism” of Richard Dawkins, and he has recently published a book along the same lines called ‘The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine’, which was co-written by Joanna Collicutt McGrath and published by SPCK (the Society for the Publication of Christian Knowledge).

McGrath’s article commences:

Deep within humanity lies a longing to make sense of things. Why are we here? What is life about? These questions are as old as the human race. So how can we answer them? Might they be answered at all? Might God be part of the answer?

Astute readers will have noticed that McGrath starts with the arrogant assumption that this thing he refers to as “God” actually exists, without so much as providing the slightest shred of evidence whatsoever that it does, or that it has the attributes he implies it has.

Undeterred, McGrath continues with his ad hominem attack, and uses Dawkins’ The God Delusion’ as evidence for claiming…

Richard Dawkins, England’s grumpiest atheist, has a wonderfully brash way of dealing with this [the questions raised by McGrath in his above quote]…Belief in God is just for those who are mad, bad or sad. Science has all the answers – and God isn’t even on the shortlist. Only science-hating idiots think otherwise. End of discussion.

Now only someone who has not actually read The God Delusion’, could attribute such statements to Dawkins as McGrath has; either that, or McGrath’s claims are simply duplicitous, mendacious and evidence his complete lack of honesty, but I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which of these circumstances apply to McGrath.

However, there is little doubt in my mind, at least, that McGrath is a man without a shred of integrity, since he continues his attack on Dawkins with this piece of deliberately duplicitous irrelevance…

Two other interesting books appeared in the same year as Dawkins’s. Owen Gingerich, Harvard University’s distinguished astronomer, published ’God’s Universe’. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, brought out ’The Language of God. Both these scientists, with a long track record of peer-reviewed publications, made the case for belief in God as the best and most satisfying explanation of the way things are.

Readers will note that McGrath implies that the case that these two scientists make to support their alleged ‘belief’ in God is authoritative, by direct reference to their respective “long track record of peer-reviewed publications [in accredited scientific journals]”, whilst deliberately failing to point out that is a complete non sequitur. No one, irrespective of their scientific credentials, has ever been able to produce any empirical credible evidence proving the existence of the entity which McGrath refers to as ‘God’, far less have they been able to publish their peer-reviewed findings in an accredited scientific journal.

Furthermore, McGrath ignores all the latest evidence from neuroscience, which has demonstrated by dozens of elegant studies that this so-called “belief in God” to which he refers is little more than dysfunctional neural activity, and, consequently, that the object of the ‘belief’ has no objective reality whatsoever..

Clearly McGrath is aware of these flaws, as he has to employ sophistry in a rather weak attempt to justify his faith in something which science and ratiocination cannot verify, but which all the evidence shows is a delusion on the part of the so-called ‘believer’…

It is worth reminding ourselves that the hallmark of intelligence is not whether one believes in God or not, but the quality of the processes that underlie one’s beliefs.

In other words, whilst McGrath and his sort are unable to produce any credible empirical evidence proving the existence of the entity which they refer to as ‘God’, atheists are expected to admire their intelligence for being able to produce their duplicitous and mendacious arguments, peppered with convoluted sophistry, in support of their faith, but we are not to be permitted to point out that, despite their best efforts, their faith in the existence of this ‘God’ of theirs is neither supported by evidence nor logic.

That McGrath is becoming desperate by now is evidenced by this quotation from C. S. Lewis:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen – not only because I see it, but because of it, I see everything else.”

It is only a small pity, perhaps, that no one pointed out to either Lewis or McGrath that anyone who believes that the sun rises is mistaken – a fact which has been known since the days of Galileo Galilei, at least. But then McGrath is not one to allow facts, or truth, to stand in the way of his irrational faith.

McGrath winds up his dishonest little polemical tirade with this…

Christians will argue that their worldview represents a superb way of making sense of things…they know that they can’t prove that God is there, any more than an atheist can prove that there is no God. Christians or atheists, base our lives on at least some fundamental beliefs that we know we cannot prove, but nevertheless believed to be reliable and significant.

If that statement, more than anything, fails to demonstrate McGrath’s complete dishonesty and the lack of integrity, I cannot imagine what more evidence you, dear reader, would require.

In one paragraph, McGrath is reduced to the absurd claim that Christianity is justified simply because it enables psychologically dysfunctional people to cope with the aspects of existence they are unable to comprehend or face up to. He then tries to justify this with that much misused old canard, and complete non sequitur, that atheists cannot prove that this entity he calls ‘God’ does not exist, whilst carefully failing to point out that the onus rests entirely on him, the allegedly learned Professor of Theology, to prove that this ‘God’ he claims to ‘believe’ in does exist.

And as for his claim, “Christians or atheists, base our lives on at least some fundamental beliefs that we know we cannot prove, but nevertheless believed to be reliable and significant,” is yet another non-sequitur, because (a) there is an everyday semantic difference between ‘belief’ and ‘faith’, and , (b )there is a de facto complete and utter difference between what psychologists and epistemologists call a ‘justified true belief’ and irrational, supernatural, unsubstantiatable faith in something which cannot be credibly demonstrated to exist at all.

In conclusion, your article demonstrates that you, Professor Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology, have absolutely no personal integrity or academic credibility whatsoever, in my opinion.

However, there may be those who are prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. In which case, there is one of two alternatives available to them. Either (a) if you genuinely do believe in this entity which you call ‘God’, then you are psychologically dysfunctional, irrespective of the magnitude of your intelligence, or (b) if you are simply professing to believe in this entity which you call ‘God’ in order to further your more material needs, then you are a complete and utter charlatan and fraud.

I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which alternative they think applies to you, Alister.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jesus Is An Impostor

On reading through some of the archived threads in GIFS, I have noticed that several soi-disant Christians have attacked atheists for not sharing their alleged belief in the so-called ‘Divinity of Jesus’. Yet the only evidence Christians can offer to substantiate such a claim that this one they call Jesus was the ‘Son of [their] God’, is their New Testament.

Coincidentally, I have just been rereading ‘The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old’ by G B English, A.M., published in 1813 in Boston.

English was a deist and a devout believer in the ‘Jesus Christ’ of the New Testament, but whilst he was a notable Christian at one time, he became increasingly worried by the undeniable conflicts that exist between the claims made in the New Testament for this so-called ‘messiah’ and those made in the Old. So, unable to resolve this matter through discussion with other learned deists, he decided to investigate further for himself. The result was this interesting little book (it is only some 133 pages in length), which produces convincing evidence that the claims made in the New Testament, and in Christian churches ever since, that ‘Christ’ was the messiah and ‘Son of God’ are a complete fabrication.

His evidence is too lengthy to go into here, and much of it based on scripture or early documents that are of little interest to atheists qua atheists. However, they appear to put forward a case that Christian theologians have been unable to answer satisfactorily, either in English’s day or in the following two centuries. Consequently, the evidence which English adduces may be of some interest to atheists, because it uses Christians’ own version of so-called ‘holy scripture’ to demolish their claims that ‘Christ’ was the ‘Son of God’, and that he was ‘Divine’.

In his preface, English states the following, which will come as a shock to most Christians…

The professors of [Christianity at its first introduction] were considered as atheists …

…but his statement merely confirms one of the alternative definitions of atheism, namely that it is “just disbelief in one more god than theists disbelieve in”.

English’s preface also contains this exhortation, which has been ignored, unfortunately, by most theists over the millennia…

The grand principle of men considered as having relation to the Deity, and under an obligation to be religious, is, that they ought to consult their reason, and seek every where for the best instruction; and of Christians and Protestants the duty, and professed principle is, to consult reason and the Scripture, as the rule of their faith and practice.

Whilst one could take issue with English for not suggesting that people should use their reason to question whether the ‘Deity’ he refers to actually exists in the first place, perhaps he may be excused for this omission because of his admission that he felt “an obligation to be religious’, with all that implies.

Undeterred, English continued by examining thoroughly all the evidence, whereupon he became convinced that it ”… set the Old and New Testament …in opposition, and reduce Christians to this fatal dilemma…”

Either the Old Testament contains a Revelation from
God; or it does not. If it does, then the New Testament cannot be from God, because it is palpably, and importantly repugnant to the Old Testament in doctrine, and some other things.

His conclusion, amply evidenced in the book, is even more devastating for Christians…

… the New Testament can neither subsist with the Old Testament, nor without it; and that the New Testament system was built first upon a mistake, and afterwards buttressed up with forged and apocryphal documents.

In other words, if this person called Jesus ever existed, there is no evidence in the so-called ‘holy scriptures’ that he was the ‘Son of God’, and, consequently, the so-called ‘Divinity of Jesus’ is simply spurious nonsense.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, English was excommunicated for his work, though it is interesting that the evidence he put forward was never seriously repudiated by Christian apologists.

English’s book is available through the ‘Gutenberg Project’, and there is a brief history of his interesting life here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Religion, And The Manifestation of Egomania.

There’s a programme on TV here tonight which suggests that someone suffering from egomania, or ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ (NPD), to use its more formal name, would make an ideal religious leader. As the programme-makers state, “The ultimate egomaniac is the cult leader. They get to be at the centre of a group of adoring followers, giving them the god-like status they think they deserve.”

The symptoms of NPD are that one exhibits at least 5 of the following 9 characteristics:

• A grandiose sense of self-importance – Egomaniacs exaggerate their achievements and talents, and want other people to recognise them as superior.

• Preoccupation with success and power – They’re obsessed with fantasies involving their own brilliance or beauty.

• Arrogance – Their behaviour is haughty, their attitude conceited and they show rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

• Need for excessive admiration – Egomaniacs need attention, they want to be adored or, failing that, feared.

• A sense of entitlement – They have unreasonable expectations and believe they deserve favourable treatment.

• Exploitative – Happy to take advantage of others, they use people to get what they want.

• Lack of empathy – Egomaniacs can’t or won’t acknowledge other people’s feelings.

• A belief of being unique – They believe that they’re special and can only be understood by and associate with people of high status.

• Feel envy towards others – And believe others feel envious of them.

It is unclear in which sense the programme-makers use the word ‘cult’. Originally, in its sociological sense, it meant ‘a small group of religious activists who are not of the mainstream religion’, and sociologists drew a distinction between a ‘cult’ and a ‘sect’ (and also between a ‘sect’, a ‘denomination’ and a ‘church’), though the distinction was artificial, and rather arbitrary. What is clear, however, is that irrespective of which type of religious organisation a sociologist might consider that a so-called ‘believer’ belongs to, many of those who participate in those organisations appear to fulfil the diagnostic criteria of NPD.

For example, how many so-called Xtians have you come across who are guilty of the following:

• Making the grandiose claim that they are the chosen ones.

• That they pray to their ‘God’ for success, power and material things.

• Arrogantly claim that their ‘God’ exists, despite being unable to produce any credible empiric evidence or logical argument to substantiate such a claim.

• Claim that they are constantly in their ‘God’s’ sight and thoughts, and that ‘He’ pays attention to their every thought and action.

• Believe that after death they will go to somewhere called ‘Heaven’ where they will live in ease and luxury forever, whilst the less worthy majority will go to a place called ‘Hell’ where they will be tortured in perpetuity.

• Willingly exploit others who do not share their faith, and frequently even those who do.

• Show little or no empathy for innocents and/or those who do not share their particular version of faith who suffer from so-called ‘Acts of God’.

• Believe that they are unique because their ‘God’ is the one-and-only ‘first cause’.

• Are envious of the good-fortune and/or achievements of others.

I’ll leave it to others to come up with more examples that meet the requisite criteria, but it seems clear from the foregoing short list that there are many religious ‘believers’ who have all the hallmarks, superficially at least, of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

And as for those who don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for NPD, well, they appear to have other problems.