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Monthly Archives: March 2009

How many times have we seen this argument on the internet? Those that use this argument are often frustrated because they think that those they are trying to convince don’t get it. The problem is, we get it just fine – we know that it is a bad argument. And that’s why those of us that don’t accept this as an argument are ourselves frustrated with it.

The argument usually goes like this: 

Question: How does one explain ‘X’?

Expected answer: I don’t know.

Conclusion: Then there must be a god.

It sounds ridiculous when written that way, yet that is pretty much the typical usage. 

What do people who make use of this argument use as ‘X’? Anything they perceive (and are often wrong) that Science has yet to explain. ‘X’ can be the origin of life (abiogenesis), development of moral behavior, the origin of the universe, etc. ‘X’ can even be an illusion, like ‘X’ = the fine-tuning of the universe to support life. But it is life that was shaped to the universe it found itself in. Those that claim that the universe is somehow life-friendly haven’t yet heard of the ways in which the universe is trying its hardest to kill us! It’s nothing personal – it’s just that the universes is anything buyt hospitable to life as we know it.

The argument has several fatal flaws and I will deal with each in turn.

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Anyone that says that in their city if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes is likely to be met with skepticism from me. Partly because I’m a skeptic. Partly because I live in one of those cities in which the old adage is actually true. Yesterday in Calgary we went from +10°C to about a foot of snow. This can be a crazy place to live, especially in March.

One of those Bud Lite “Men of Real Genius” commercials (my favorite is “Mr. Taco Salad Inventor”) should have been written for the guy that invented the snow blower. We live on a big lot with a lot of driveway do shovel, and if it weren’t for the snow blower, I’d be in hospital suffering from back pain, stroke and heart attack. While I was doing the snow blowing thing, I decided (as I usually do) to do the neighbor’s driveway as well. They’re senior citizens, and like hell am I going to allow this poor waif of a woman (the husband has been ill) to shovel her driveway sans snow blower of their own. Their children usually come around to do the shoveling, but getting around Calgary today is not a good thing to try to do.

Well, I got caught in the act this time. I get a bit embarrassed at thanks for things that I would do without need of such gratitude. But it’s nice to know that my action was appreciated. She called me ‘an angel’, and not just a ‘snow angel’*. My wife was with me and, being atheists, we both had the same thought: little does she know…

It’s not totally altruistic, of course. There is no such thing as ‘true altruism’. I really enjoy using power tools that make a lot of noise. It’s a guy thing.

On a related subject, we booked our island-hopper flights between Honolulu, Maui and Kaua’i today. Those inter-island flights are amazingly cheap. So is the flight to get to Honolulu. I’m wondering if we can fit in a PADI diving course between now and mid-April when we fly off to Hawaii where we could do our open water dive. There’s certainly no interesting place around here (or place that is warmer than a glacier-fed lake).

*’Snow angel’ is a municipal program which encourages people to be nice and shovel their neighbor’s walk.


Addendum: Just booked our PADI diving course. The first weekend of April is gonna be a long one. 6-10 pm Friday, and 9-5 Saturday and Sunday. Yikes!

Poe’s Law: Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.

I knew about it before it appeared on Pharyngula, but someone has been posing as an atheist muttering some decidedly unatheist remarks. You know the ones, where we atheists supposedly have no morals and do whatever we want because we aren’t held to account. As Penn Jillett would say, “What a motherfucker.” 

No atheist would say such nonsense as the following –

What’s wrong with killing babies? I see no problem with it. I have enough mouths to feed. I don’t get the argument and I am an atheist. Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything characterized as good, bad / right, wrong. So, what’s the big deal? 

Or this – 

If a man wants to make a women his b****, so be it? So what if you don’t like it, what if I do?

If I want to do something, and my conscience is cool with it, then I can do it. If it’s feed a homeless person, so be it. If it’s kill my neighbor, so be it. I am not bound to any morals.

These comments have all the hallmarks of coming from someone who thought that’s what an atheist thinks. Indeed, it was such cartoonish remarks which initiated an excellent bit of detective work by Unreasonable Faith in finding out who the culprit was: Chris Fox, pastor of Kendall’s Baptist Church in North Carolina. Shame on him!

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Today, March 20, is Atheist Pride Day. I can find no source for this ‘holiday’. It seems to be a spontaneous spawn of that evil internet thing. Why one day out of the year that we don’t get to take off from work? I take pride in having divested myself of dogma and Bronze Age superstition every day. I do not hide my atheism and if others have a problem with it, that’s their problem. We are all atheists to the vast numbers of gods that have past before history. I just believe in one fewer than Jews, Christians and Muslims.

I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. ~ Stephen F. Roberts

Finally. And we’re hoping to have a photo op set up Wednesday. We really wanted one for right when the first bus rolled out, but it seems that this was not possible. Cliff Erasmus, who spearheads the initiative, is being inundated with requests for interviews by the media.

Religious groups are planning a counter campaign, but just don’t get it obviously. The object was solely to demonstrate that atheism is a valid world view and deserves the same respect (more, in my opinion) that religious world views already enjoy. If my atheism and (more to the point) the open expression of my atheism offends anyone, I have just one thing to say: Deal. I have every right to my unbelief. I have every right to express my unbelief. I have every right to defend secularism in the public arena. I have every right to defend science and medicine from quacks and those whose sole agenda is to slip a fictitious deity into intellectual realms which have tirelessly sought to expel that same dogmatic nonsense.

Go Calgary!

We’re not sure if it will be Monday or Tuesday, but the ads are being made now and will be put on the buses this weekend. The message will be the same as for similar projects in other cities: “There’s probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the sheep begin! (C’mon! If you are offended by such a mild message, how strong can your faith at all be?)