Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Last Post

I've decided to wrap up Atheist Wisdom and concentrate on my other blog, Creationist Idiocy. Although it has fewer followers, it gets more hits and is generally more fun for me to maintain. It also has far more original content from yours truly, whereas most of the articles and quotes I post on Atheist Wisdom are easily found elsewhere.

Thanks to all who've read this blog, linked to it, or left comments. I especially thank those of you who have signed on as followers, and I hope that you'll check out Creationist Idiocy if you haven't already.



All thinking men are atheists.

Ernest Hemingway

Monday, March 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

All religions die of one disease - that of being found out.

John Morley

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Major Branches Within Atheism?

Click for a larger version. Via LOL God.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Fine Tuning Argument

Another argument used by creationists and theists as proof of celestial design is the so-called "fine tuning of the universe." It turns out that the existence of a universe that permits life as we know it depends heavily on the size of certain constants in the laws of physics. If, for example, the charge of the electron were slightly different, or if the disparity in mass between a proton and a neutron were slightly larger, or if other constants varied by more than a few percent, the universe would differ in important ways. Stars would not live long enough to allow life to emerge and evolve, there would be no solar systems, and the universe would lack the elements and the complex chemistry necessary for building organisms. In other words, we inhabit what is called a "Goldilocks universe," where nature's laws are just right to allow life to evolve and to thrive. This observation is called "the anthropic principle."

At first glance, its explanation appears trivial. As Ken Miller says, "Taking as a starting point the observation that you and I are alive, at least in the immediate present, it's obvious that we must live in a universe where life is possible. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here to talk about it. So, in a certain sense the fact that we live in a life-friendly universe merits little more than a big 'Duh.'" True. But this raises a deeper question: why do the constants of the universe just happen to have those life-promoting values? The answer given by creationists is that this is no accident: a beneficent God (or an intelligent designer) crafted those physical laws precisely so that somewhere in the universe intelligent life would evolve--life so intelligent that it could work out the laws of physics and, more important, apprehend their creator. This answer--known as the strong anthropic principle--is scientifically untestable, but it sounds so reasonable that it has become one of the biggest guns in the creationist arsenal. (It is important to grasp that anthropic principles concern the conditions required for the existence of any life, and say nothing about the inevitability of complex and intelligent life.)

Also, scientists have other explanations, ones based on reason rather than on faith. Perhaps some day, when we have a "theory of everything" that unifies all the forces of physics, we will see that this theory requires our universe to have the physical constants that we observe. Alternatively, there are intriguing "multiverse" theories that invoke the appearance of many universes, each with different physical laws; and we could have evolved only in one whose laws permit life. The physicist Lee Smolin has suggested a fascinating version of multiverse theory. Drawing a parallel with natural selection among organisms, Smolin proposed that physical constants of universes actually evolve by a type of "cosmological selection" among universes. It turns out that each black hole--and there are millions in our universe--might give rise to a new universe, and these new universes could have physical constants different from those of their ancestors. (This is analogous to mutation in biological evolution.) And universes with physical constants close to the ones we see today happen to be better at producing more black holes, which in turn produce more universes. (This resembles natural selection.) Eventually this process yields a population of universes enriched in those having just the right properties to produce stars (the source of black holes), planets, and life. Smolin's theory immensely raises the odds that life could appear.

The idea of multiple universes may seem like a desperate move--a Hail Mary thrown out by physicists who are repelled by religious explanations. But physics is full of ideas that are completely counterintuitive, and multiverse theories fall naturally out of long-standing ideas of physics. They represent physicists' attempts to give a naturalistic explanation for what others see as evidence of design. For many scientists, multiverses seem far more reasonable than the solipsistic assumption that our own universe with its 10,000,000,000, 000,000 planets was created just so a single species of mammal would evolve on one of them fourteen billion years later.

Jerry Coyne

The full article, Seeing and Believing, can be read here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote of the Week

A Christian is a man who feels repentance on Sunday for what he did on Saturday, and what he is going to do on Monday.

Thomas Ybarra

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

On January 27, 1987, I was led as a lamb to the slaughter, having been set up to debate the Rev. Dr. Norman Geisler of Dallas Theological Seminary on the subject, "Humanism vs. Christianity." Dubbed by its promoters as "The Main Event," the debate was held in the ballroom at Auburn University, a room overflowing with perhaps 2,000 people, some of whom had been bused in, courtesy of local churches.

Geisler had trouble staying on the general topic, focusing rather on abortion, in the most grisly terms. Humanists, he tells, are right in there with the Nazis in disregard of human life. Their despicable deeds are made likely, if not inevitable, by their moral relativism. How much firmer is the ground under Christians, who stand on moral absolutes!

During rebuttal, I said that my favorite moral absolute in scripture was in Luke 6:30 where Jesus is reported to have said, "Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again." I then turned to the Rev. Dr. Geisler and asked him for his money. Since it was not forthcoming, I knelt on one knee and begged for it, trying to cover all spiritual bases.

With a pale look about his gills, he finally pulled out a dollar bill and waved it wanly at me to which I said, "No, not a dollar; I want all of your money. But I'm not mean; I won't keep your wallet or credit cards." Geisler did not, in fact, comply with the moral absolute in Luke 6:30 (also see Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:35). If he had given me his money, I would have taken it and kept it. Thus, we would both have been blessed, I with extra cash and he with a clear conscience for having met the challenge of obeying a moral absolute of his lord. I fear his conscience still troubles him over this episode, something I would gladly have spared him by keeping his money.

Bibliolaters are so fond of moral absolutes that I believe the rest of us should oblige them by giving them every opportunity to act thereupon. When you next hear a Christian extolling the rock of moral absolutes upon which he or she stands, go for the cash. It has a sobering effect that may in the long run be beneficial.

Delos McKown

The original article is here, brought to my attention by Unreasonable Faith.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Can't Science Address The Existence of Gods?

Why can't science address the existence of gods? Why should we simply sit back and accept the claim of apologists that what they believe in is not subject to "observation, measurement, and experiment"?

In the United States today, we have tens of thousands of priests, rabbis, mullahs, pastors, and preachers who are paid professionals, who claim to be active and functioning mediators between people and omnipotent invisible masters of the universe. They make specific claims about their god's nature, what he's made of and what he isn't, how he thinks and acts, what you should do to propitiate it…they somehow seem to have amazingly detailed information about this being. Yet, when a scientist approaches with a critical eye, suddenly it is a creature that not only has never been observed, but cannot observed, and its actions invisible, impalpible, and immaterial.

So where did these confident promoters of god-business get their information? Shouldn't they be admitting that their knowledge of this elusive cosmic beast is nonexistent? It seems to me that if you're going to declare scientists helpless before the absence and irrelevance of the gods, you ought to declare likewise for all of god's translators and interpreters. Be consistent when you announce who has purview over all religious belief, because making god unobservable and immeasurable makes everyone incapable of saying anything at all about it.

And what of those many millions of ordinary people who claim to have daily conversations with this entity? That is an impressive conduit for all kinds of testable information: a high bandwidth channel between the majority of people on Earth and a friendly, omniscient source of knowledge, and it isn't named Google. All these queries, and all these answers, and yet, somehow, none of these answers have enough meaning or significance to represent a testable body of counsel. Amazing! You would think that in all that volume of communication, some tiny percentage of useful information would emerge that we could assess against reality, but no…the theologians, lay and professional alike, will all claim that no usable data can be produced that would satisfy a scientist looking for sense. It sounds like empty noise to me.

We have the supposed histories of these believers, and they are full of material actions. Gods throw lightning bolts to smite unbelievers, annihilate whole cities and nations, raise the dead, slay whole worlds of people, suspend the laws of physics to halt the sun in the sky, create the whole Earth in less than a week, help footballers score goals, and even manifest themselves in physical bodies and walk about, doing amazing magic tricks. Wow, O Lord, please do vaporize a city with a column of holy fire before my eyes — I can observe that, I can measure that, I can even do experiments with the rubble. I will be really impressed.

Oh, but wait: it can only be an unobservable, undetectable exercise in mass destruction? And he's not doing that sort of thing anymore? How about pulling a rabbit out of this hat? No, sorry, all done. God can't do anything anymore where people might actually notice, or worse, record the act and figure out how the tricks are done. This is awfully convenient.

This is where the "Science has no opinion on religion" argument leads us: to an atheist's world, where there are no activities by a god that matter, where at best people can claim that their god is aloof and unknowable, admitting in their own premises that they have no knowledge at all of him.

PZ Myers

The original post can be read here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the Week

We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.

Gene Roddenberry

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Warwick Atheists

I just discovered that my old university (Warwick, in the UK) now has an atheist society. It's a shame I left Warwick before this happened, but I'll do my bit now and give them a little publicity here. This is from their main page:

What’s the point in joining an atheist society? If God exists you are moving in the wrong direction and if God doesn’t exist then you are surely wasting your time!

Unfortunately, what other people believe also affects your life and the way in which you live it. If an individual believes something about the world that isn’t true and ends up impinging on the lives of everyone else then suddenly we have a problem.

What if vital medical research that could go a long way to curing a host of ghastly diseases is being held back? What if a deadly sexually transmitted virus is left to run rampant in the third world because people are taught that contraception is wrong? What if people, caught up too heavily in archaic mythology, turn against their neighbours and call for violence in the streets? And what if the cause of each of these atrocities is indeed a mistruth that is drilled into children from an early age, who are promised punishment for alternative thought?

You don’t have to be a rampant atheist (or an atheist at all) to think that these negative effects of various religions must be stopped.

They also have a forum. If you're a member and have stumbled across this blog, leave a comment!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

He almost certainly wasn't an atheist, but he was undoubtedly liberal, progressive, moral and fiercely intelligent, four adjectives I wouldn't normally associate with the religious:

In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong.

Abraham Lincoln

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quote of the Week

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. The wise man said it out loud.

Chris W

I found this quote here, posted as a response to the anti-atheism bus ads.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Carnival of the Godless 110

One of my recent posts has been linked to in the latest edition of the Carnival of the Godless, so welcome to any readers arriving from there.

The post has also prompted a lengthy (attempted) rebuttal, which can be read over at Atheism is Dead. Commenters there have already started countering this rebuttal, so I'm not going to respond myself, but I can't resist posting this:

I stumbled across this blog, inappropriately titled "Atheist Wisdom", and went from intrigued to disappointed. No offense to the author, but any blog calling itself "Atheist Wisdom" should probably live up to the name, and this blog definitely doesn't.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Truth is Consistent with Itself

From the excellent blog Evangelical Realism, on the religious apologist's appeal to ignorance:

I do not claim that I can explain every strange thing that happens in life, I merely claim that truth is consistent with itself, and therefore I am confident that any future answers we may find will turn out to be consistent with the truth we already possess. But this is rather irrelevant to the particular issue under discussion here, since the question is not whether men are omniscient, but whether God shows up in real life. Man’s failure to know a particular answer does not constitute God showing up in real life. Ignorance is not knowledge. It’s as simple as that.

Appealing to ignorance is also a flawed approach when you consider the fact that the term “God,” as typically used, refers to a being about whom men claim to possess knowledge. We’re not postulating some being about which no one knows anything, whose existence might indeed be manifest only among the large body of answers we do not currently possess. A God who only “shows up” in the things we are ignorant of is a God who has not shown up. Showing up means we do know we’ve encountered Him; if we don’t know, then He hasn’t done it, and if He hasn’t shown up, then we’re back to the undeniable fact and its inescapable consequence. In God’s absence, the closest we can come to faith is to gullibly put our trust in whatever men tell us about God, despite the contradictions and inconsistencies.

Besides, we don’t need to appeal to ignorance, because we can use the evidence we do have to evaluate the different claims. I claim that God does not show up in real life. Test me. See for yourself, by real world observation, whether or not God does show up. I do not know you. I’ve never met you. I know nothing about your life. How is it, then, that I can know God has never literally, materially, personally shown up in your life? How can I be right 100% of the time? Easy: the truth is consistent with itself.

Deacon Duncan

Read the full article here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion.

Superintendent Chalmers

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Misconceptions About Atheism

Sam Harris at his best:

Via Josh Stein.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Questions from Believers

Over at the Friendly Atheist there's a list of questions that Christians would like to ask atheists. Commenters there are answering them now, and I thought I'd post my answers here:

Utilizing each of the historical facts conceded by virtually all contemporary scholars, please produce a comprehensive natural explanation of Jesus’ resurrection that makes better sense than the event itself.

Well here are four that spring immediately to mind, and I'm confident I could think up at least a dozen more. The witnesses lied. The resurrection was faked by someone. The event was entirely made up after the fact by the authors of the gospels. Jesus wasn't really dead. Each of these explanations make much more sense than a guy coming back from the dead after three days, which is something that we all know is physically impossible.

Given the commonly recognized and scientifically supported belief that the universe (all matter, energy, space, time) began to exist a finite time ago and that the universe is remarkably finely tuned for life, does this not (strongly) suggest that the universe is ontologically haunted and that this fact should require further exploration, given the metaphysically staggering implications?

Nobody knows whether or not the matter and energy began to exist a finite amount of time ago. We think it existed as a singularity, a region of infinite density and infinite space-time curvature. What happened before that is potentially a meaningless question given that the big bang (i.e. the expansion of this singularity) is when we think time, as we know it, began.

And "the universe is fine-tuned for life"? No. Life is fine-tuned for the universe, or at least our tiny corner of it.

Granted that the major objection to belief in God is the problem of evil, does the concept of evil itself not suggest a standard of goodness or a design plan from which things deviate, so that if things ought to be a certain way (rather than just happening to be the way they are in nature), don’t such ‘injustices’ or ‘evils’ seem to suggest a moral/design plan independent of nature?

I don't accept that "the problem of evil" is the main objection to the belief in God. There are many other factors, and every atheist has come to his or her conclusions via different thoughts and concepts. For me in particular, it's the complete lack of any evidence. And no, I don't believe that the fact that we can recognize an act as "evil" means that there must be an objective standard for "good". This is like saying that because I find olives to taste bad, there must exist somewhere a food that tastes absolutely perfect.

Please explain how something can come from nothing, how life can come from non-life, how mind can come from brain, and how our moral senses developed from an amoral source.

As I said above, the big bang theory does not require something to come from nothing. It describes the universe coming from the singularity, which may have always been there, or may have come from somewhere else.

Life could come from non-life via molecules such as RNA strands or something similar, which, since they can self-replicate, can undergo the process of evolution and selection.

How can mind come from brain? I'm not sure how you define the word "mind" but I assume you mean consciousness. I believe that consciousness is an illusion resulting from electrical impulses in our material brain.

Our moral senses likely arose as a by-product of our evolutionary history.

These explanations, I believe, are plausible. The details are being fleshed out more and more each day by scientists and experts the world over. The amount of evidence for the truth of these ideas is growing. And they require no god or supernatural elements to work.

It should also be pointed out that theists certainly cannot answer these questions any better than I can, at least not beyond "God did it", which explains nothing at all.

Irrespective of one’s worldview, many experience periods of doubt. Do you ever doubt your atheism and, if so, what is it about theism or Christianity that is most troubling to your atheism?

I honestly never, ever doubt my disbelief in any of the organized religions, or of the concept of a personal or intervening god.

Why is something here rather than nothing here? Clearly, the physical universe is not eternal (Second Law of Thermodynamics, Big Bang cosmology). Either everything came from something outside the material universe, or everything came from nothing (Law of Excluded Middle). Which of those two is the most reasonable alternative? As an atheist, you seem to have opted for the latter. Why?

This question seems to be built on several unfounded assumptions. The idea that "the physical universe is not eternal" is not "clear" to me. Then, "everything came from outside the universe" or "everything came from nothing"? These are not the only options. How about "everything was always here, in some form of other"? The big bang theory does not refute this, and if something had to have always existed, it might as well be the universe than God. And an atheist is a person lacking belief in a god. The descriptor "atheist" says nothing about a persons belief regarding the origins of the universe any more than about their taste in music.

If our cognitive faculties were selected for survival, not for truth, then how can we have any confidence, for example, that our beliefs about the reality of physical objects are true or that naturalism itself is true?

Much of this question can be discarded. It boils down to "How can we believe in anything?". This question should be more unsettling to the theist than the atheist. The answer is that, philosophically, we can never be certain about anything, but we can test ideas by repeat measurements, theories, models and verification of predictions. God fails these tests, whereas my hypothesis that "if I drop a brick on my foot, it will hurt" is based on past experience and my knowledge of the world. Science works.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Humanistic Morality

Humanistic morality is a code of ethics based on the value and quality of human life. It is not derived from absolute engravings on a cosmic stone tablet. Morality is relative to human things like happiness, health, peace, beauty, love, joy, and justice. It is the preferring of those actions and ideas which enhance the human condition over those which threaten it. The Nazis, who were mostly Catholics and Lutherans, were wrong not because they broke an absolute law, but because they desecrated human life. Even though humanistic morality does assert some rights and wrongs relative to the human condition, it is flexible and free to improve. For example, on the one hand it is inconceivable that something like genocide would ever be considered moral, and on the other hand that something like genuine politeness could be considered immoral; but there will always be a middle ground between those extremes for things like birth control, divorce, diet, self defense, or patriotism, which will depend on the situation.

Any morality which is based on an unyielding structure above and beyond humanity is dangerous to human beings. History is filled with examples of what religious "morality" has done to worsen our lot. Whole cities can be gleefully exterminated in God's name. Society's "witches" can be eliminated. Free thought can be suppressed, squelching any hope for progress. (Why else were the Christian-dominated centuries called the "Dark" Ages?) Under Christian morality, anything goes if it furthers God's plan. In place of CS Lewis's Law of Morality, more enlightened people would champion reason and kindness: principles that are pliable and human, not rigid and cold.

Dan Barker

Taken from the article Mere Assertions.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quote of the Week

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish.

Timothy Jones

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good Without God

What would you do if there were no God? Would you commit robbery, rape, and murder, or would you continue being a good and moral person? Either way the question is a debate stopper. If the answer is that you would soon turn to robbery, rape, or murder, then this is a moral indictment of your character, indicating you are not to be trusted because if, for any reason, you were to turn away from your belief in God, your true immoral nature would emerge. If the answer is that you would continue being good and moral, then apparently you can be good without God. QED.

Michael Shermer

From his book, The Science of Good and Evil.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.

Isaac Asimov

Friday, January 16, 2009

Science vs. Faith

Click to enlarge:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Atheist Bus Campaign Update

I posted a while back about the atheist bus campaign in the UK. It's finally getting underway, and you can read more about it here (thanks Dave). In my previous post I did say that I thought they could have come up with a better slogan for the campaign than the one they chose (There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life). I've posted many a quote on this very site that would be more suitable. Well, it turns out that the campaign will indeed also be using a few other choice quotes:

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

Emily Dickinson


I do not beieve in a personal God and have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.

Albert Einstein

While I think the scheme is a great idea, I still find these quotes somewhat lacking. Then yesterday I read about the Italian atheist bus campaign. Their slogan (translated to English) reads:

The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that you do not need him.

I love it. It's confident and positive. Hemant Mehta (the Friendly Atheist), however, is of the opinion that the lack of the "probably" qualifier, as seen in the UK slogan, is "intellectually dishonest", since we can't prove absolutely that God doesn't exist. I disagree, since nobody would think to argue the same point about the phrase "Santa Claus does not exist", and God and Santa Claus each have exactly the same amount of evidence for their existence.

Thumbs up to the Italian infidels.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Things That Really Matter

Atheism, as I have seen it, isn’t about Darwinism and science and mocking faith, although there are atheists who enjoy pursuing all of these things. It was about recognizing, as religious people do, that our time on the earth is limited. The difference is that atheism realizes that your time on earth is limited, and when it’s over, it is probably really over. Religion gives people something to cling to, and encourages a disregard for this life in its most fervent and conservative believers. The next life is the one that really counts, so it doesn’t matter much if you’re a failure in this one. As long as you’re not a failure to god. If you live in poverty, if your man beats you, if you don’t pick up litter, none of it matters. In atheism, there is no do over. This is it.

Atheism is about making every moment count, and you do that by seeking out and cultivating connections to people, the earth, the universe. I personally think this is why many atheists are so interested in science, for science explains the things that connect us to the universe and to the hummingbird. When you know that this is the only time you have, and that you won’t be able to do it over, it makes you want to spend your energy on the things that really matter - the family, friendships, and pursuits that really enhance your life. If others deem that pursuit petty, it doesn’t matter. It is about doing what feels good, as long as it doesn’t harm another. And there is nothing wrong with it. The only difference in this between an atheist and a religious believer is that the religious believer is made to feel guilty, dirty, and ashamed for doing what feels good, while the atheist is allowed to experience the joy unfettered. You don’t don’t deny yourself because there is no other opportunity. There won’t be a day when you can indulge in sex with eager virgins, or drink all the wine you like, or wear pretty clothes except the days you have today.

Tree Dreamer

Taken from the essay Beautiful Atheism.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quote of the Week

I'm not a bad guy! I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I'm going to Hell?

Homer Simpson

Friday, January 9, 2009

The God Simulator

This has to be the easiest game ever. It's when you play it badly that things start feeling strangely familiar...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Apatheism is yet another stance on the debate, and one that seems to be commonly held. From Wikipedia:

Apatheism is acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest towards belief, or lack of belief in a deity. An apatheist is someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist. In other words, an apatheist is someone who considers the question of the existence of gods as neither meaningful nor relevant to his or her life; nor to human affairs.

Personally, I see Ignosticism as an acceptable position to take regarding the question of the existence of god. After all, each religion defines god in fundamentally different ways. Even the three main "Abrahamic" religions, which I've often been told worship the same deity, have crucial differences in their definitions and claims over who or what this deity actually is.

Apatheism however, as it is defined above, I do not accept as an intellectually tenable position, though I know many individuals who would seem to fit the definition perfectly. Assuming one could avoid an ignostic response by first defining the word "god" (let's assume it's an omniscient, omnipotent being that created the universe and takes an interest in our activities), then the correct answer to the question "Does god exist?" is crucial, and would have an effect on our lives that would be absolutely profound.

If the answer was yes, further questions would immediately arise, most notably "So which religion is the correct one?" and "How can I avoid upsetting such a powerful being?". Given the existence of god, these questions would be of fundamental importance and would utterly dominate our lives (which begs the question "do believers really believe?").

If the answer was no, think how drastically the world as we know it would change, for better or for worse (I would argue for the better). So many aspects of society (and therefore our lives) are built upon the foundations of religion, and to ask "is there a god?" shoots straight to the core of whether or not these aspects are justified.

The existence of god is therefore a vital matter, and, even if the question may never be resolved, to take the apatheist's stance is to admit to indifference to the world and intellectual lethargy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Ignosticism is a lesser known alternative to atheism, agnosticism, theism, etc. From Wikipedia:

Ignosticism is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts. It can be defined as encompassing two related views about the existence of God.

The first view is that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition cannot be falsified, the ignostic takes the position that the question of the existence of God is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term "God" is considered meaningless.

The second view is synonymous with theological noncognitivism, and skips the step of first asking "What is meant by God?" before proclaiming the original question "Does God exist?" as meaningless.

An ignostic cannot even say whether he/she is a theist or a nontheist until a better definition of theism is put forth.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Quote of the Week

Scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man's struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.

Richard P. Feynman

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Few More Religulous Quotes

A lot of people have arrived at Atheist Wisdom after googling for "Religulous quotes", so here are a few more of my favourites. First, Bill Maher talking to Father Reginald Foster, a senior Vatican priest:

BM: The date of Jesus’ birth really wasn’t established until 349 AD.

RF: Oh yeah, that’s because… he might have been born on July 3rd. These are all just nice stories, you know.

BM: And that doesn’t bother you either?

RF: Well it bothers me when everyone says “Oh, we have to have midnight mass because Jesus was born at midnight on the 25th”. This is all nonsense.

Later in the movie he chats with Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, a preacher who claims to be a direct descendent of Jesus Christ:

J: Two angels came to me and they told me that the lord of lords and king of kings is coming to anoint you for the ministry tonight.

BM: What form did the angels come in?

J: They were tall and strong. Whatever they told me, I obey. I don’t want to mess with them.

Towards the end of the film Bill visits the Dome of the Rock and talks to Dr Muhammad Hourani:

BM: Women in your culture seem not to be as equal to men as they are in our culture.

MH: (Points to a lone female worshipper on the other side of the room) You see, we have women here. They have a special corner.

And I've posted one last quote from the movie on my other blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Jealous God

Bill Maher talks to "Jesus" at The Holy Land Experience in the documentary Religulous:

J: No other gods before me, Bill.

BM: But having no other gods before you, that’s not moral. There’s nothing moral about that, it’s just something a jealous god would do.

J: It does say that our god is a jealous god.

BM: But your god is jealous? That seems so un-god-like. That god would have such a petty human emotion. I know
people who’ve gotten over jealousy.

J: Well there’s two sides of the coin. He’s a jealous god, and he’s also a merciful god.

BM: No, he spends the first five books of the bible wiping out people.

J: Well, that’s what he chose to do. His ways are higher than ours, Bill!

BM: Maybe our thinking should be higher.

J: That’s a good point.