The Contradiction of Islam

I love this short video. Here’s what it says in the description box:

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is a columnist, speaker and founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement. Originally from Iraq, Faisal now lives in the USA. In this short video, he speaks about the religion of his former country.

I think much of what he has to say about Islam can be applied to other religions, including Christianity and Judaism.

One part that really caught my attention discusses how you can pick and choose quotes from scripture and use them to justify two different views. You can find quotes that tell you to kill or shun non-believers and you can find some that say to love people. Depending on which passage you give more weight, you can find a passage that will justify your position.

I think this is one of the dangers of religion and religious scripture. I’ve written about it before, and I’ll probably end up writing about it again in the future.

 

So let me know what you think about the video, its contents or anything else you can think of. Thanks for reading and watching!

Weekend Excursion: Sparta

My wife just finished up her holidays. This last weekend, she decided to drag me out to a small town called Sparta. Here’s a little bit about the town.

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It’s definitely a beautiful little town, full of green spaces and historical architecture.

We started out by visiting the lavender farm.

It was a neat experience. I didn’t know so many things could be made using lavender. There was soap, salad dressings, candles, recipe books and even ice-cream sandwiches.

I tried the ice-cream sandwiches. They were delicious.

The people were very friendly and we got to meet their Dog, Harry Potter.

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Harry Potter was a total sweetheart and he proceeded to follow us around and get pets while we toured the place.

Here’s two pictures of the lavender field.

photo 1(1)

lavender field 1

lavender field 2

lavender field 2

From there (once we’d stuffed our faces with ice-cream sandwiches) we headed into town and visited some of the local shops. We saw some pretty neat stuff in the local antique stores. My favorite building was the Forge and Anvil Museum. I love museums, but it was a blast looking at some of the clothing worn back then. We really had a laugh at some of the pictures – the people in them looked like they never smiled. They all looked so severe, especially the males with their large sideburns and glowering expressions.

Mrs. Godless Cranium trying on a hat in Sparta

Mrs. Godless Cranium trying on a hat in Sparta. Note the creepy dolls in the background *shiver*

Once we were done in town, Mrs. Godless Cranium decided that we weren’t done yet.

I sighed, pasted a smile on my face and allowed her to drag me off to the local vineyard.

I wish I had tales of wine tasting gone wrong, but I don’t. We walked around the estate and like Sparta itself, the vineyard was beautiful. Let me show you what I mean.

Some sort of cool fountain-thing

Some sort of cool fountain-thing

 

Grapes! I see grapes!

Grapes! I see grapes!

 

Close up of ripening grapes

Close up of ripening grapes

 

Once my wife was satisfied, we went home. I was greeted by my baby puppy, Dexter. He smelled Harry Potter on me but after a few moments of indignant sniffing, he decided I was still worth associating with, despite my obvious cheating nature.

Dexter proving once again that no matter how big they get, they're always your baby

Dexter proving once again that no matter how big they get, they’re always your baby

 

Home sweet home.

The end.

Incomprehensible God

Hubble2005-01-barred-spiral-galaxy-NGC1300I suppose part of the reason I remain an atheist (and am one in the first place) is because believers can’t seem to come up with a comprehensible version of God. The only versions that I’ve ever heard that make any sort of sense whatsoever is the deist and pantheist versions of God.

DeismThe belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.

Even deism doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. You could certainly argue that any position taken without evidence is not one based ‘solely on reason’, but even if you were to grant that you could take such a position, why would such an entity bother to create everything and then abandon it?

More importantly, why would we bother to worship such a fickle deity? Our lives aren’t made better by the act of getting on our knees and worshiping an entity that exerts no influence on natural phenomenon and abandoned creation once it was finished creating it.

Then you have the pantheist version:

a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe

Okay. I can sort of agree with this one, but why even call it God? This God wouldn’t be conscious in the way other versions of God supposedly are. By that I mean that we could be considered part of the universe and we’re conscious, which would by extension mean the universe is conscious as long as conscious entities exist, but it seems to me that there is no reason to worship such a thing. Why worship a universe that we’re a part of? It wouldn’t hear your prayers or grant you a miracle if you performed a ritual correctly.

Then you have more complex Gods, such as the Christian Trinity. You’d think that by virtue of being more complex, it would be easier to defend your position, but I think the more complex the God, the harder it is to defend. The Christian God is one such example.

If you watch enough debates on religion, you will quickly notice that many Christians, Muslims etc. actually defend their beliefs by taking a deist position. They don’t want to defend their faith using their holy books because that’s damn inconvenient. It’s much easier to defend the simplicity that is deism, than it is to defend their beliefs in talking snakes, resurrections, flying horses and even their very concept of God.

For example, the Christian God is often described as being omnibenevolent, which literally means ‘all good’ in Latin. Yet, if we look in their very own holy book, we find this:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

—Isaiah 45:7

Huh…

It would seem that according to their holy book, their God created evil. How could something described as ‘all good’ be capable of creating evil? If it were capable, why would it be willing to create evil?

Even if their holy book didn’t tell them flat out that their deity created evil, many Christians would tell you that their deity created everything. If their God created everything, and they believe evil exists, then by extension their deity created evil.

Then you have the concept that God is outside of space and time.

In other words…God is capable of existing no place at no time.

What the…*insert expletive here*

The point being that I’ve yet to hear a concept for God that I found comprehensible. Most people don’t bother to explain what they mean by ‘God’ or expand on its supposed traits. They merely revert to defending a deist God, which I don’t see worth debating in the first place, since it would play absolutely no role in how we as a species live our lives.

200 Followers and My Baby Puppy

Yesterday I was notified by WordPress that 200 people now follow this blog, which is freaking awesome. I just wanted to thank everyone who has visited, commented, read or followed this blog. You people all rock, whether you’ve agreed or disagreed with me personally.

In celebration, I thought we could party it up with my puppy, Dexter, who recently visited doggy daycare and partied it up with the other hounds.

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Fine…I’ll share the pool

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You’ll never escape my golden-y powah!

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This is how you play in the pool

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I have the pool to myself.

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How dare this pool splash me?

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Go ahead and take a picture of my beautiful self

 

 

Thanks again everyone!

My First Oscar Award

My two step-daughters are away for the summer. Last night they called to say hello. I’m not sure what possessed me at that moment, but I decided to pretend I was their mother. I used a really, really bad high pitched voice (it sounded something like a teenage boy being kicked in the Bojangles) that didn’t fool the daughter on the line for even an instant. I did get a confused, ‘who is this?’, before they realized it was me being a knob. I continued the farce for a few minutes and we both had a good laugh.

Later, I received this message via Facebook private message:

Heya, Mike. I really enjoyed your accurate depiction of my mother, and I truly believe you deserve an Oscar for it. Sorry for 12 o’clock Facebook messages.

Along with this picture.

my oscar

 

Yeah…so my head is on there. I cracked up laughing!

I just thought I’d share.

Off to the quiet corner I go.

Why atheists CAN’T BE Republicans: I Disagree

Militant_Gay_Atheist_Hugs_Rally_to_Restore_SanityI’m a big fan of the Friendly Atheist and the work he does online.

However, he recently made a video that I have to disagree with. In his video, he argues that atheists (in the U.S) shouldn’t vote for Republicans.

I can partially understand why he’d say something like that. I’m not a fan of Republican politics, but I also think they’re the product of a broken political system and theocratic values. I can see why theocratic leaning politicians might scare atheists into not voting for them, but many Christians also don’t support theocratic right-wing politicians. I think in this case, the Friendly Atheist does a poor job equating atheism with politics.

Let’s see what   has to say in his video:

CJ Werleman just wrote a book called “Atheists Can’t Be Republicans.” His thesis is: Atheists can’t be Republicans.

Horrible start in my opinion. The title of the book makes a false statement. Atheism isn’t a political statement. It’s a lack of belief in God(s). That’s it. There’s no reason why an atheist can’t be a Republican atheist.

His argument is essentially this: We know when it comes to religion, there’s no question. Republican want nothing to do with us. We know that.

Sounds like a blanket statement to me. It’s something many atheists (myself included) tend to challenge when religious people do it to us.

If there are Republican atheists, then there are Republicans who want something to do with you. As a party, their platform may not be seen as super-friendly to atheists, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you can be an atheist and a Republican.

But what about social issues like gay marriage and abortion rights? If you support civil rights and women’s rights, as pretty much all vocal atheists do, then you’re not going to vote Republican either. They almost uniformly reject those things.

Being an atheist doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to support gay marriage or abortion. Atheism doesn’t just include the ‘vocal atheists’ either. There are atheists who don’t bother with religious discussion or who don’t support abortion or gay marriage.

But what about on economic issues? Well, even there, the GOP has been awful. They help the rich get richer with unnecessary tax cuts, they oppose minimum wage hikes, trickle-down economics doesn’t work. So even from a purely numbers-based, rational approach, you shouldn’t support them.

This has nothing to do with atheism. Lots of religious people feel this way about the Republican party. Whether you believe Jesus is the son of God or not has nothing to do with your economic policies or what you believe works in an economy.

I agree with his conclusion that Republican fiscal policies don’t work, but that’s just my opinion and doesn’t represent what every atheist must, should or does feel. If I were a Christian, I would probably feel the same way about Republican economic issues.

What about on gun issues? Yes, they support the Second Amendment, but to what extent? They want virtually no regulations and that’s crazy. Even if you love your guns, surely you support common sense safety laws, no? Not if you’re the GOP.

Again, I’m not sure what this has to do with a non-belief in God. I’m sure there are gun loving atheists out there who would rather not be regulated.

Belief in God doesn’t equal love of guns. Atheism doesn’t equal support of gun regulation.

All that said, we’ve seen Republican atheists. Edwina Rogers, the former leader of the SCA, worked with a number of conservative Christian Republicans. She was a Republican and used that label.

Dave Silverman of American Atheists tried to go to CPAC, the super-conservative convention, because he wanted to reach out to conservative atheists.

S.E. Cupp is a conservative atheist, even if she says she wishes she could believe in God.

So in other words…the evidence shows that you can be an atheist Republican.

So yes, atheists can be Republican… but why would you wanna be? In this political climate? With these Republicans? Even if you support some of their positions, you should be ashamed of yourself if you’re voting them into office. If your atheism means anything to you, it makes no sense. You are hurting Humanism and skepticism and church/state separation and all things good and unholy by voting for a Republican.

Here he assumes atheists are skeptics or humanists. You can be an atheist and support Christian values.

You can also be skeptical of religious claims, be an atheist, but believe in other things such as Bigfoot, ghosts or alien abductions.

I’m also not sure why people should be ‘ashamed’ for voting the way they see fit. That’s basically democracy at work. Just because atheism means something to one person, doesn’t mean it means the same thing or anything at all to someone else.

And I’m not saying you have to vote for a Democrat. Go ahead. Vote for a third party candidate… if you think that’ll help.

But in nearly every instance in today’s political climate, voting for a Republican candidate, whoever it is, means giving more power to a party that is anti-gay, anti-poor, anti-science, anti-women, and anti-YOU if you’re an atheist.

Perhaps, but that’s their choice. Maybe they support Republicans for their own reasons or perhaps they’re not that well informed on political issues. Many people don’t want to vote for a third party candidate because they feel it’s a wasted vote.

Personally, I don’t like it when people start telling me what atheism should mean to me. Atheism isn’t something I am so that others can tell me what I should think, feel or who I should vote for.

Atheism is a lack of belief in God(s). Nothing more and nothing less. It doesn’t mean I can’t vote Republican if that’s who I choose to vote for.

In fact, most of the points he made in his video are good arguments against voting Republican. Period. Religious affiliation or lack thereof is irrelevant.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

love_exists_4_by_marissavoo-d2zd21nA comment made on my last post was rather interesting and is the inspiration for this one. In the last part of the comment she said:

But if i was going to compare God to something else invisible to prove a point it would be love, you can not see love, touch it, or prove it, but you know that its there.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this argument made by a religious person.

However, when we look at it critically, God isn’t anything like love. Scientifically, we understand the biological processes behind those feelings fairly well.

For example:

Although people experience love differently, the chemistry behind the initial rush of attraction shows us that there are biological explanations to feeling giddy, for example, during those blissful early weeks.

To start with, dopamine, which is created in the brain and adrenal glands, enhances the release of testosterone. Dopamine affects various organs, including the genitals, the sweat glands, and also the senses. Have you ever noticed that when you are in the early stages of lust or love, you sweat more? Or that the sky seems bluer? Dopamine, in this context of arousal, is partly responsibly. As a consequence of dopamine being released, mood and emotions are also influenced, leading to feelings of excitement and happiness. Meanwhile, testosterone increases sexual desire, but also increases aggressive behaviour and behaviourally, may push someone to pursue the one who is fueling this intense response.

After this step, the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and PEA (phenylethylamine) lead to focused attention. Individuals start to ‘zero-in’ on the person they desire, and at the same time, often have a feeling of euphoria. Norepinephrine is a stimulant, so it also causes individuals to feel alert, potentially unable to sleep, and enables them to notice and remember even the smallest of details about their partners. PEA is responsible for the feelings of giddiness, and may cause the loss of appetite. If the relationship doesn’t last, and PEA levels fall and are partly responsible for the feelings of depression that can be experienced.

I know…it seems a lot less romantic when broken down scientifically, but the point remains the same – love isn’t a supernatural entity in the sky or a supernatural realm laid out for believers after they die. There are biological reasons for those feelings.

As clinical psychologist Sue Johnson points out in a recent article:

“I think it’s absolutely disastrous for us to keep defining love as a big mystery,” Johnson says. “We need to know about it, we need to know how to shape it. It’s now the basis of our families. Really, the family stands or falls on feelings of affection. … We are all longing for it, and it’s just kind of not so poetic and fun anymore to define it as slightly out of reach and sort of only magical.”

Sound familiar?

Even though we have a fairly good understanding of love from a biological perspective, we still try to label it as something magical and mysterious…kind of like our favorite myths about God.

In another article:

If you’ve ever been in love, you’ve probably at least considered classifying the feeling as an addiction. And guess what: You were right. As it turns out, scientists are discovering that the same chemical process that takes place with addiction takes place when we fall in love.

So unlike God, you can show evidence that it exists and you can test for it scientifically. It’s part of our natural world and has nothing to do with magic or the supernatural.

If you really want to look for a fair comparison between Allah, Yahweh, Jesus or Vishnu, you can find it in Odin, Zeus and Mithra.

In other words, the rest of the Gods you probably don’t believe in, which have been thrown in the dustbin of mythological history.

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