January182014

Why I don’t care about your “100% legit proof” that your pink fluffy God exists

That’s happened so many times before - both online and in real life… A well-meaning coworker/neighbor/stranger with a zealous look in his eyes (and it’s usually his, not hers) starts telling me that if I only sat down and gave them a minute/hour/day of my time, they’d give me their unique, foolproof, absolutely indisputable argument why God is real. (And/or how the aliens walk among us, and/or why Elvis shot JFK, and/or why Bigfoot is actually an unshaven Chuck Norris.)

You see, there’s this beautiful phrase, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The bigger your claim, the more evidence you need to provide to support it. For example, if you accuse a man of murder, you need to be able to prove it beyond the shadow of doubt by providing the murder weapon, the motive, the forensic evidence, etc. If you claim that your elderly neighbor is a former SS executioner who has avoided capture for 70 years, you’ll need to obtain his fingerprints, DNA samples, testimony of surviving witnesses, prove that his papers are fake, and so on.

The bigger the claim, the more evidence you need. Therefore, when you make the biggest claim of them all (there’s an invisible man in the sky who sends forth ghosts to impregnate unsuspecting Middle-Eastern virgins), you need to have enough evidence to fill a dozen stadiums. And no, dear crusader, before you interrupt - philosophical questions, deliberate misinterpretations of scientific data and hallucinations experienced by people in the wilderness do not count as proof. They’re not what one would call ordinary evidence, to be sure, but that’s not quite the “extraordinary” we’re going for here.

If you want my undivided attention, show me a miracle. Pray and bring my dog back to life. Sprinkle some holy water and get an amputee’s limb to grow back. At the very least, turn my Subway foot-long into a thousand delicious sandwiches. (And/or multiply a thousandfold this here tray of sushi.) But you can’t. I will say that’s because those are just stories and allegories written down by shepherds over 2,000 years ago. You will say that’s because “God works in mysterious ways” and that’s not how faith works, anyway. And you know what? I’m fine with that. But until you can give me an extraordinary proof for your extraordinary claim, let’s just go our separate ways, shall we?

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December222013
"The Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction."
Ian McKellen

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"The Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction."

Ian McKellen

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2AM
"I don’t understand religion. I don’t get it at all. I understand why people need it, but I think they’re wrong. They don’t. I do see that on a crude-ish level, when someone dies, it’s nice and comforting to think that they’re going to heaven and that they’re going to be wrapped up warm for eternity. But they’re not. Heaven doesn’t exist. If you just think about it for a minute, the person is dead, they’re gone, they’re not coming back, and you’ll never see them again. And when you go, you’ll never see anybody again. Just face it. I feel stronger because of it. Knowing that I can’t lean on religion to get through life. If you are leaning on it, you won’t be living your life to the fullest."
Ian McKellen
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"I don’t understand religion. I don’t get it at all. I understand why people need it, but I think they’re wrong. They don’t. I do see that on a crude-ish level, when someone dies, it’s nice and comforting to think that they’re going to heaven and that they’re going to be wrapped up warm for eternity. But they’re not. Heaven doesn’t exist. If you just think about it for a minute, the person is dead, they’re gone, they’re not coming back, and you’ll never see them again. And when you go, you’ll never see anybody again. Just face it. I feel stronger because of it. Knowing that I can’t lean on religion to get through life. If you are leaning on it, you won’t be living your life to the fullest."

Ian McKellen

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December212013
And this is why I no longer bother arguing with zealots… Source

And this is why I no longer bother arguing with zealots… Source

December82013
“Evolution is not a religious tenet, to which one swears allegiance or belief as a matter of faith.. It is a factual reality of the empirical world. Just as one would not say ‘I believe in gravity,’ one should not proclaim ‘I believe in evolution.” 
Michael Shermer
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“Evolution is not a religious tenet, to which one swears allegiance or belief as a matter of faith.. It is a factual reality of the empirical world. Just as one would not say ‘I believe in gravity,’ one should not proclaim ‘I believe in evolution.” 

Michael Shermer

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December62013
“There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades.” 
Michael Shermer
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“There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades.” 

Michael Shermer

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December42013
“Religious faith depends on a host of social, psychological and emotional factors that have little or nothing to do with probabilities, evidence and logic.” 
Michael Shermer
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“Religious faith depends on a host of social, psychological and emotional factors that have little or nothing to do with probabilities, evidence and logic.” 

Michael Shermer

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November232013

Great news! Federal District Court Declares A Religious Income Tax Exemption Unconstitutional

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend.

News story in a nutshell: in 1954, a bill was passed that allowed religious ministers to avoid paying property taxes. The bill’s sponsor argued ministers should be rewarded for “carrying on such a courageous fight against this [godless and anti-religious world movement].” In other words, the bill’s purpose from the very beginning was to reward organized religion.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin declared the bill unconstitutional, claiming that it gives preferential treatment to religious ministers and no one else.

This tax exemption cost the taxpayers $2.3 billion just between 2002-2007. Do you remember all the news stories about megachurch ministers and their mansions? They owe you a “thank you” card since you helped pay for them.

Right now, the ruling is on hold until the appeals process is complete. There’s a lot of money at stake here, so the religious arguments in favor of preferential treatment should be pretty interesting, to say the least. They’re trapped between a rock and a hard place: if they don’t appeal the court’s decision, they’ll lose billions of dollars. If they do appeal it, their remarks and comments about why religious ministers are so special and should get unique tax breaks will be a matter of public record, there for all of us to see. (And for me to repost!) And even then, there’s a chance that their appeals will fail.

This article has a lot more information, including the full text of the court’s decision.

November32013
  • Golgotha was an inside job.
October252013
"How happy can you be when you think every action and thought is being monitored by a judgmental ghost?"
Dan Barker
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Want to know more? Check out our e-book - Atheism 101: Answers, Explanations and Rebuttals, follow us on Facebook and check out the Ultimate Atheist Shopping List!

"How happy can you be when you think every action and thought is being monitored by a judgmental ghost?"

Dan Barker

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Want to know more? Check out our e-book - Atheism 101: Answers, Explanations and Rebuttals, follow us on Facebook and check out the Ultimate Atheist Shopping List!

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