Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do it yourself!

Hopefully, I've inspired some of you to want to get out there and start reffuting the stupid claims of ignorant people. However, chances are, you don't know how to begin. I'll give you a quick tutorial.

First, many of the links on this page can lead to sites that are begging for refuting, don't be afraid to click.

Second, if they don't help, google it. Try to stick to a topic you understand well, like I have done in sticking to biology, and out of cosmology. If you don't feel learned enough on a subject, research it. The last thing you want to do is argue from ignorance.

Third, by now you have a site that you feel is just talking nonsense. Read into it, separating the truth from the lies. If it's all lies, that makes things easier.

Forth, begin your argument. Generally, I find it best to quickly get to the heart of the subject by saying the site your refuting. There are other ideas about this, some like a long-winded intro, where they can build suspense. Others feel a joke is necessary. Do what feels right, though be wary of falling into the boredom trap.

Fifth, frame your argument. Don't just say everything wrong with the site. organise your thoughts, flowing almost seamlessly from one point to the next. That is the hardest part.

Finally, finish your argument with a brief conclusion. I suck at these, but I feel that a good witicism about the offending site is a great way to finish, leaving readers on a high note. If done well, not only will readers be in a good mood, they'll also feel annoyed at the refuted site, and others like it, prompting them into action. This is success in my books.

Post your newly finished artwork in whatever style you like; blog, forum, youtube, facebook... the list goes on. So now you know, don't just sit there, click the links, or go google some ignorance.

Until next time
Fui fides tantum in testimonium.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Today, I'll be speaking on the subject of Empiricsm. Despite the fact that I see and hear it all the time on the internet, it seems as though very few people are actually aware of what Empiricism actually is. Be prepared for alot of big words...

Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge arises from experience. Or so says wikipedia. Effectively that means what you sense through any of your five senses is empirical knowledge. By applying simple reasoning, we can draw conclusions about the world using this knowledge. These conclusions, or hypotheses, can then be tested through the experimental method. The experimental method is the systematic manipulation of variables in an experiment designed to disprove a hypothesis. *Phew* That's a mouthful. It means that scientists control as much of the experiment as they can. Such things as temperature, humidity, salinity (saltiness) or any number of other things. They do this to understand how certain things react in certain situations.

I believe an example is suitable here. Scientists discover life on another planet. As you might expect, they are very excited. The first thing they do is examine it's environment, taking samples and testing them in their natural state. After doing this, they have a fairly good idea of how this new species lives. They come up with a hypothesis about it's life cycle. Having a new hypothesis, they design an experiment. They take a sample of the life form, and put it into an artificial enivronment where they can control the climate, and food supply. They then set about trying to disprove thier hypothesis.

That's right, I said disprove. All well designed experiments are created to destroy a hypothesis. It's when the hypothesis survives the rigors of multiple experiments that we consider it worthy of being part of a Theory. Anyway... back to the example. After testing the life form six was from sunday, they have a strong concept of it's entire life. By thoroughly checking the place it was found, they find even more life. While they experiment on this new life form, they then start to form hypotheses on the ecosystem of the planet. The more information that can be determined without experimenting, the more hypotheses need to be tested, and the more knowledge about the planet is gained.

This is but one example of empirical and experimental evidence working together to add to the wealth of knowledge humans already have. So there you have it, a VERY brief explaination of empiricism. Hopefully now there'll be fewer mistakes flying about the internet.

Until next time:
Fui fides tantum in testimonium.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vulturing Catholic Education

I have been browsing the web, looking for data for a new post I'll be loading when it is finished, and I happened upon this article:

After reading it, I was filled with an odd feeling. It was similar to uncontrollable rage, deepest pity, and absolute mirth. These feelings kind of mixed into a grim resolve, as I decided to pick this thing to pieces, destroying it's apparent arguments, and humiliating the writer by showing his stupidity. That is what this post is about. I'll do it sentence by sentence, if when necessary, but by the end, you should be able to understand the problems presented.

Religious believers are accustomed to being accused as perpetrators of intolerance and violence, and there is enough truth to such charges to take them to heart.

This is relatively accurate. Believers ARE constantly accused of intolerance and violence, so there's no reason to doubt that some take it to heart. There is definitly enough examples.

At the same time, it should be recognized that what is called religious strife is usually only partly that. The "religious wars" of the 16th and 17th centuries were at least as much about politics - with, for example, Catholic France supporting German Protestants in order to weaken the Catholic German emperor.

This is also true, in the same way that a book is only partly paper. Most of the things described as religious strife have strong ties to religion, and are therefore tagged as such. Using the word "partly" is a neat trick, designed to make the religious ties seem less important. These wars were based soundly in religion, with other reasons coming in a distant second. The war in question was between Protestants and Catholics in Bohemia, which elevated into a war between many European nations using germany as a battlefield.

Today it would be extremely simplistic to think that religion is all that fuels the strife in Northern Ireland or the Middle East.

Once again they point out that religion is not the only factor in current violence. The problem is that while there may be other reasons, the MAIN reason is religion. Cathloicism and Protestantism are different enough to cause violence, as are Islam and Judaism, despite their similarities.

However, religion does possess a peculiar potentiality for "extremism," because it has to do with extreme things. We might be able to compromise a boundary dispute, for example, but how can we compromise the will of God?

This brings up a well known problem of religion. Extremists always do stupid things to appease God. This argument of course fails to point out that if you add the element of god to a boudary dispute, no compromise can be made, no matter how extreme the people involved are.

Critics cluck their tongues and note the contradiction whereby religion, which is supposed to be based on love, has the potential to turn into strife and hatred.

Obvious and over-used, but still viable.

Critics do not note the close parallel to the family, where love can so easily turn into hate.

First of all, I'd hate to live in that guy's family. Second, while most religions cause intolerance and hate despite their message of love, very few families hate each other, or kill each other for simply being in another family. The "parallel" is rather crooked, and not particularly parallel.

But the dangers of strife and fanaticism come from the very nature of religion itself, which deals with ultimate things.

This is true, religious fanatics are far too common to be considered as deriving from a fringe element of religion. Many believers say that religion deals with ultimate things, though this is really only partly true. Not all religions claim to deal with ultimate things, such as Bhuddism, which has the lowest violent fanaticism of all the religions I've studied... Although, I have no clue how a violent buddhist fanatic would act. (insert joke here)

In a sense people ought to be more ready to fight over religious dogma than over disputed territory, because religious dogma has to do with the highest and most important truths. (It requires some kind of divine revelation to teach us that we should not kill one another over religious dogma.)

This is a contradictory sentence. People should be more willing to fight over religious dogma, but divine revelation tells us not to kill. Also, religious dogma only deals with the most important truths to the believer. For people such as myself, what God says couldn't be less important. And, because I don't believe in an afterlife, listening to what He says seems kind of trivial. Before I go further, I'd like to point out that common sense morals such as don't kill and don't steal DO apply to me, They just have nothing to do with God.

The terrorism which manifested itself on September 11 has of course started a whole new round of alarmed warnings about the dangers of religious fanaticism, with some secularists professing to see no significant difference between Osama bin Laden on the one hand and the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the pro-life movement on the other.

I have never heard of Rev. Jerry Falwell, which I suppose is a geographic problem. As far as I can tell from my brief reading on the man, he said and did very stupid things, but had redeeming qualities, such as defending civil rights for GLBT people. I can't say one way or the other whether there is an appropriate comparison to Osama bin Laden.

Thus, we are warned, the extirpation of all forms of religious intensity is what we must do to achieve social peace.

While this may work, it isn't true. Some religious intensity is in a good area, like helping others. Religion is not neccessary for this, but that doesn't change the point.

In this secularist world, merely saying that one disapproves of homosexuality, for example, is equated with bombing the World Trade Center.

No. Saying one disapproves of homosexuality is excercising ones right to free speech. Inciting violence, or attempting to cause hardship for homosexuals with your words can be equated with the bombing of the WTC, if only loosley.

We can all agree on the need to end the kind of religion which does issue in violence and hatred.

Yes. Which is to say ALL religion.

But as the secularists point out, all real religion has that potential, in the same way that deep love between a man and a woman has the potential of leading to murderous jealousy.

I think the tendency for religion to turn violent is a little higher then the deep love between two people leading to murder.

Thus many secularists in effect now call for an end to religion completely, something they have been predicting for a long time but which so far has not happened.

We've been calling for it? I think we've been saying that it should not have a role in government, or education. I'm an evangelical atheist secularist, and I still think it is well within your rights to have a church, and believe in an invisible flying zombie jew. Not all secularists wish for all religion to be destroyed. As for the prediction, the internet is quickly disproving all the pathetic attempts religion has at proving it's right. It's only a matter of time before the willfully ignorant are forced to take notice.

Why is there religion at all, of any kind?

Why indeed.

Ultimately the only satisfactory answer is that it enlightens people about the meaning of life, of how they should live their lives.

Or, before science progressed things scared people, like lightning, and they could only explain it with deities. These became more prominent, eventually forming groups, known as churches, where people learned about it, and taught it to others. Eventually, these organisations became so powerful they were able to control most of the population. Dark ages anyone? Slowly, but surely, they have been declining in power as science enlightens the areas they would wish to keep in the dark. (Space, orbits, evolution)

Religion is what gives meaning to human existence.

Human existence gives meaning to human existence. Meaning is subjective, we decide upon the meaning of our own existence.

Therefore, it follows, to abandon religion would mean abandoning all hope of meaning — to which the secularist nods and says, “Precisely!”

No. Abandoning religion would mean abandoning all hope of being told we have meaning, and forcing people to decide on their own. It would devastate willful ignorance, though not totally destroying it.

The secularist position, which has a long history, is that the religious search for meaning is an illusion but that, even when successful, it is a bad thing, because man should not be encouraged to think about ultimate realities.

What? Get your facts straight. The search for meaning IS meaningless, not because it's an illusion, but because we create our own meaning, subjectively. If it's successful for some, wonderful, there are a few who find the religious meaning of life similar to their own. The problem is when those who feel differently are guilted, bullied, or brainwashed into believing the religious meaning of life.

American Pragmatism is perhaps the clearest example of this tendency.

Do go on, good sir.

It argues that we can choose moral positions, and orient ourselves in life, not by asking what is true or false but simply on the basis of what seems to work.

EXACTLY! This is how morals are usually formed. It has work up to now, despite what a theist says.

We might claim, for example, that all men have worth and dignity but, if someone asks why this is so, we are not required to answer. It just is.

The claim that all men have worth and dignity is a relativly new concept, born out of compassion and the plight of others. It wasn't always accepted. The ancient Egyptions didn't believe it, and slavery was common. But it worked for them, just look at what they accomplished, the great pyramids. Nowadays, we've got this idea of equality, and what has that got us? To the moon and back. It allowed people of all sexes and races to work together in the pursuit of a common goal.

Although they seldom admit it, these secularists really are calling upon the human race to amputate itself spiritually, to suppress, quite consciously, the religious hungers which have been part of human existence since the beginning of time.

Those "hungers" are really the desire to explain the world, which in older times was the province of religion, but is being replaced by science. We don't want them supressed, just applied to a more effective model, the scientific model of explanation.

They call on us deliberately to wall ourselves up within the empirical limits of our world and resolutely to ignore everything which does not fit.

Except when empiricism is not quite enough and we must resort to experimentation and logical deduction.

Whatever else might be said about such a view of existence, it is immeasurably drabber and shallower than what men have thought was real for these thousands of years.

I'll agree with this. Science is much drabber and boring then the magic and demons of religion. It's even more shallow, limiting itself to reality, unlike the Powerful GOD outside the universe. What men thought was real for 3,000 years is horribly out of date, and needs to be refreshed. We are constantly working to relieve humanity of ignorance, though articles like this really set us back.

There we go. Sentence by sentence. I realised how long this was going to be, so I dodn't get into the origins of morals, or explanation of emiricism and the scientific method. I do apologise if I insulted any Buuhdists with my joke, there was no offence intended.

Until next time,
Fui fides tantum in testimonium.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Intelligence Quotient

I have a high IQ. I'm not a genius, but I have a higher then average intellect. This I know based on my experiences with school, work and people. I've always been able to understand things easier then most. During school, I was generally looked to by classmates and teachers for the answers. In 9th Grade I learnt and taught the teacher how to correctly use the computer program to achieve the desirred results. She apparently wasn't a computer whizz... In grade 10, I broke the rules. I profited a small sum by writing out the asssignments of several students in my class. I don't regret this, and here I will explain why.

It is the way of society to be hypocritical. We respect our betters with bitter resentment and open aggression. We treat our lessers with either utter contempt, or complete ignorance. During high school, I learnt to fear those who dressed or acted in certain ways, despite the fact that I could, with ease, logically talk them out of, or into, doing pretty much anything. The teachers would tell us that we're preparing for real life... In the classroom, perhaps, but the whole schoolyard society was warped, or so I thought.

Now I realise, the aim wasn't to prepare everyone for their lives outside of school, but to teach the few who showed talent how to succeed. I took an opportunity when I was younger, and I felt guilty for so long. Having come to this realisation, I notice many opportunities I have missed. I failed university. I didn't have a proper girlfriend until I was 19. I even lost precious opportuities to make money. If I took full advantage of my life up until now, I could be in a much bettter postition then I am in now.

In life, we all face important decisions, and many risks. If we always take the safer road, we may be able to predict how it'll turn out, but we'll miss the chance for true prosperity. Next time you have a choice between certain low gain, and risky high gain, take the risk. Who knows, it might pay off.

Next time, I'll be discussing a moron I saw on youtube. Until then:
Fui fides tantum in testimonium.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Hoax is a Creationists best friend

Everyone dislikes being proven wrong. Especially in a manner that makes you look and feel like a fool. Normal people worry about this problem for only a little while, and even then they usually accept it and adopt a new point of view on the subject. Not so with creationists. Despite being figuratively beaten over and over and OVER again, they just keep coming back with the same stupid arguments that were disproved and debunked decades ago. Some, however, are a little more devious. When they see their comrades being defeated, they search out alternative arguments, less seen to the average atheist. These are the more nefarious in nature, and generally drawn from unscrupulous websites and books. This is the domain of the hoaxer.

Whether or not it is intentional, there are many websites out there that are dedicated to hoaxing. My most recent encounter was in the form of an e-mail, sending a few pictures and directing me here:

It seems pretty convincing, yes? Look again. The first picture has nothing really to do with anything, so I'll just ignore it. The second is a fake. There are a few things that lead me to this conclusion. First, the teeth and the head wound are very highlighted for a colour photo. Usually, there would be a slight colour variance, allowing for the change. The second thing is the quality of the photo around the skeleton when compared to the rest. It seems to have little bits of white floating about, an effect mostly seen in early photographs, you know, black and white or sepia tone. The rest of the photo doesn't have these. From these two problems, it seems to be a black and white photo, spliced onto a photo of an archiological dig.

The third is a little harder to prove, but easier to see. The skull itself looks flat, and seem to fade at the left hand side. After a little research I discovered that this photo was in fact the unearthing of bones. Dinosaur bones. The skull was merely photoshopped in. Hell, one of the workers is standing on it. And not that well, might I add.

At this point I would like to point out that I saw a few of the photos and discontinued my examination of the page. Looking at it again today has made me notice the large statement in red after the photos, which points out that they are all fake. Seems kind of pointless to continue my debunking, huh.

I would next like to touch on a subject I have little to no knowledge in: hoaxes for evolution.

Apparently, some people decided that evolution didn't have quite enough evidence to support it, who knows why, and came up with these lies, which hinder more then help it.

I've seen only 1 website like this, which I believe has since been removed. I don't remember the name, just the barest details. Please update me if I'm mistaken.

Effectively the hoax is as follows: "Fossil of an unknown creature found. Looks like a cross between shark and snake. Must be common ancestor. Evolution is proven."

This really annoys me. Despite it's attempt at being helpful, it is still an argument from ignorance AND obviously not real. If such a fossil were discovered, it would be all over the news. I don't remember if there was a photo or not, but it doesn't matter. If there was, it can be used as another piece of evidence against the hoax's credability, if not, what evidence is there this discovery occured.

The major problem with this is that creationists can take it and use it to put credence to their insults. Like "Evolution needs to lie to be taken seriously" or even worse "That creature is described in the bible as x in Yyy:zz,zz, therefore this proves evolution wrong and the bible right." For this last quote I've used the hoax as a broad idea, scoping many different animals.

These hoaxes aren't difficult to debunk, given the time for a few minutes research, however, they are annoying, as when they are presented in a debate, "callin hoax" won't cut it, and disproving them on the spot will be nearly impossible, without forewarning. I don't have any other hoaxes to present aat this time, though if I'm presented with any more, I'll post them here, with appropriate rebuttals.

Like most athiests, I've debated on occation with hard-headed creationists. Where I'm from, it's harder to find them, but they're around. I've been acccused of calling hoax, right after they've done the same thing. I am not an expert at these things, but my advice is to calmly, but firmly dismiss hoaxes in a friendly manner, lest you open yourself up to ad hominem attacks.

Sorry if I have any spelling mistakes, I'm very tired. I'll be posting my next topic in the next few days. Until next time,
Fui fides tantum in testimonium.

I'm Back

All right. Due to a cock up with my internet service provider, I have been absent for way too long. This has been fixed! I will now be posting regularly once again.

My next post is going to be on the hoaxes created or used by religious nuts to discredit or disprove evolution, or prove god. I've lost most of my research on this subject, so please point out my mistakes. I'll announce the problems and fix them. Otherwise, please feel free to throw in your two cents, whether for or against my point, and I'll respond appropriately. I'm only mean to trolls, and trolls who don't realise they're trolling.

After that post, I'm open to suggestions for what you would like to see. I have a youtube channel, though I have no videos yet. My plan was to first do a video discussing empiricism, but it seems that I can't explain it in a way that average people can understand. So I'm open to suggestions for that as well.

Until next time,
Fui fides tantum in testimonium.