Thursday, July 31, 2014

A world government

The Jehovah's Witnesses dropped by again and left a little pamphlet in the door. This one was a bit different from the ones they usually leave though. The paper they left behind this time plainly stated, "A World Government. Why do we need one? Is it possible? Who is qualified to rule?" It then offered that I could hear the answers at a free public event at FedEx Field.

Not being one to drive into that mess of a gathering, I instead elected to look online to see what I could find. What I found was surprising. The JW's are now openly supporting the prospect of a world government. Unreal!

This is surprising to me because JW's are Christians. And the Bible actually warns of the adoption on one world rule as a sign of the end times. So this leads me to ask two questions.

1) Are they unaware of that prophecy?
2) Are they aware, but are actually trying to hurry along the end times?

Option one would show a breathtaking amount of ignorance of the book they supposedly follow. And the second would quite simply be sick! No, I don't think that a world-wide government would actually cause Jesus to descend from the sky, but what if they do?

To anyone with much sense, I would think that the end times as described in the Bible should be considered a bad thing. Terrible suffering and destruction everywhere, even if the believers are somehow left unaffected. To wish something like that would happen, and soon, sounds sick and uncompassionate to me. To additionally try to actively force this to happen only serves to ramp up the disgust factor for me. Well, so much for your friendly neighborhood JW's. It seems they've boarded the express train to crazy town...

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The wizard of Nod

I think a fair number of us have looked at the Biblical land of Nod and left with plenty of questions. Questions like, where did the people of Nod come from? Where they simply decedents of Adam and Eve that were not mentioned in the Bible? But if that's the case, that means that the entirety of the world would have to have been populated by way of a massive amount of incest. Something that would have led to the result of a ton more people with physical and/or mental shortcomings and abnormalities.

...and poor Seth. Everyone always seems to forget about him.
When posed with the premise of the Earth being populated by way of incest, I've had theists tell me that the people of Nod were created by God separately of Adam and Eve. While this may take care of the Bible's first incest problem, it goes on to raise another one.

If Nod was populated by people that were not from Eden, they couldn't have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Likewise, if they weren't the children of Adam and Eve, they wouldn't be 'infected' with original sin.

While Cain did father children with women from Nod, what about those that didn't father children with him or his decedents? The people of Nod not being children of Adam and Eve leaves open the possibility of a lineage not effected by original sin.

So literal Christians are left with a choice to make. Either the Earth was populated by a level of incest that doesn't match the world we see, or original sin may not be as universal as typically taught. 'Sinful' reproduction with genetic ramifications, or the possibility that that there are those without the very original sin that Jesus supposedly died to cleanse. Choose wisely.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Missing the point

It turns out that someone replied to the letter I wrote to my local paper. Tom Berry's the name, and missing the point is his game...
An interesting letter was published in the July 12 paper about the Bible not being without error. I suggest that nitpicking his edition of the Bible that bats are birds may be misleading him.
Tom doesn't seem to understand the point being made. Pastor Jerry Cooper wrote into the paper to claim that the Bible is without a single error. I wrote in to point out that his claim was false. I was not mislead or nitpicking. Simply pointing out that the Pastor's claim was obviously false.
Perhaps before jumping to conclusions one needs to study the original script. After all, there are scores of revisions to the book, and it has been translated into hundreds of languages. It just might be possible that something could be lost or misinterpreted along the way.
Yes, there are many versions of the Bible. And perhaps the whole bat/bird issue could be a mistranslation. But I noticed that Tom ignored my other examples. 'Creation' being done in the wrong order seems less likely to be a translation issue, and being so very wrong about the nature, location and size of stars... Also claiming that to be a translation problem seems to be a bit of an ask.

What more, if one wants to claim that these things weren't translated correctly, what if the same is true of Mary being a virgin, Jesus performing miracles, or the parting of the Red Sea? One should be wary of the implications of their own argument.
Also consider that if one can’t prove something is true, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Maybe we’re just not smart enough or have enough information yet to figure it out.
True, but shouldn't we at least reserve belief until we have a reasonable idea of what we are talking about first?  
On a related topic, the belief that, “The time to believe something is true is not when it is simply claimed to be true, but when it can actually be shown to be true” is asking for 100 percent certainty, a rare thing indeed.
I'd say that interpretation is taking things a bit far. I'm not asking for 100% certainty, but reasonable evidence that supports the claim. There really is no such thing as 100% certainty, but we can build a strong case in favor of the veracity of a claim or idea. I'd rather believe something is true when it can be shown to be true beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than just because the claim was made, or I like the claim.
I am reminded that our commander in chief made a claim in the Rose Garden not long ago that the discussion is over on global warming/climate change/climate disruption. His claim does not mean it’s over. Maybe he’s just not smart enough or does not have enough information yet to figure it out.
When the president stated that the discussion is over on climate change, what he was saying is that it is as much a scientific fact as gravity. Sure, science is always open to correction or revision. But as of now, all the evidence supports the truth that climate change is real, and it is here.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 28, 2014

God and evil

This week Billy Graham answers a letter from a reader concerned about her health, and shows how poorly he knows his holy book in the process...
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My doctor just called to say I need to go back to the radiologist for another X-ray because something suspicious showed up on the first one. But I can’t face going back. I’m so frightened that I might have breast cancer. I know that’s stupid, but I can’t help it. Why is God doing this to me? — K.K.
KK's fear is understandable. But it's a fear that must be faced, because if the worst is true, simply running away will only make things worse.
DEAR K.K.: Elsewhere in your letter you mention that you’ve been following your doctor’s advice to have an X-ray every year, and I commend you for this. God gave our bodies to us, and he wants us to do everything we can to take care of them.

What exactly is it you think God is doing to you? Perhaps you’d answer by saying he’s giving you cancer, but that isn’t true. First of all, you don’t even know if you have cancer, and you won’t know until it’s been confirmed by further testing. But know that cancer is an evil disease, and God isn’t the cause of evil.
Well, the Bible says otherwise... In Isaiah 45:7, God has this to say:
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Here we have Billy Graham saying that God doesn't create evil even though God plainly says that he did. So if we are going to pretend that the Bible is at all reliable, Billy is wrong and KK would be justified in thinking God gave her cancer.

We live in a world where things go wrong, and God may permit them to happen, but he isn’t to blame for them. The Bible says, “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13).

Read more here:
Ignoring the fact that we just showed that God straight up claimed evil as his creation, there's another issue. God can't even be arsed to give a damn about evil. Oh, he could take care of the problem of evil (as defined by believers), but he simply chooses not to act at all. So much for being an all loving god.
But let me suggest what God may be doing to you, and that is sparing your life. What if this is cancer, but it remains undetected and untreated? You know the result, and God doesn’t want that to happen. Your fear is understandable, but God doesn’t want you to be paralyzed by fear.
Personally, I'd say that it's KK's doctor that's trying to save her life. You know, the guy or gal that's doing the tests, and utilizing their expertise to try and help KK. God helping those with cancer would look something more like no one ever getting cancer, or everyone's cancer suddenly disappearing. Go ahead and give the credit to God if you want, but I'll go ahead and give the credit to the physicians and surgeons that actually deserve it.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Black and White

Through the years I have run across people that think so much differently than I do. I'm not talking just about religion or political differences, but a fundamental difference on what they find to be a satisfying or acceptable answer or explanation.

You see, I like to be as accurate and detailed in my answers as I can. Meanwhile, other people want everything to be black and white. As simple (vague) and answer, the better for some... That may work for them, but I view the world in shades of grey. I've had employers that only seemed capable of flat yes or no answers. But the questions that are asked were rarely answered so simply. There are nuances and details that make neither yes or no to really be an accurate reply. Yet, this is all they find acceptable.

Not one to willingly forfeit accuracy, I will avoid the use of these flawed replies if a more accurate option is available. What is wrong with 'possibly' or 'most likely' and then stating the variable(s) you are concerned could reverse an affirmative or negative declaration?
A: Is the machine fixed?
B: I'm not sure, it's working now.
A: So it's fixed...
B: Maybe. It wasn't working, and now it is. Everything was done exactly the same both times. So either there's a variable I'm missing, or it fixed itself.
A: It's working. So it's fixed. How did you fix it?
B: As I said. Everything was done the same as it was when it didn't work and did work, but it's working now. So we'll see how it goes. If I can repeat the problem/solution, then we'll know.
A: So it's fixed for good then?
B: ... *bangs head on wall*
An accurate portrayal of reality: Usually, it's somewhere in
the middle...
Also, why are 'I'm not sure', or I don't know' discarded as acceptable answers? I'll be asked A question that I don't know the answer to, and will say as such and then offer the my gut feeling or what is usually the case, but that I'll have to check the facts. Yet, I find myself faced with only the binary options of 'yes' or 'no'. What is wrong with being honest and accurate?
A: Can we put this info on a plaque this small?
B: I'm not sure. I'll have to lay it out and see it that's too small.
A: Can we do it?
B: I think so, but it will be pretty close. Let me lay it out to see.
A: Yes or no?
B: Probably, but I can't say for certain at that size without checking.
A: Yes or no?
B: ... *wonders if I'm speaking another language*
Those are quite simplified examples, but when speaking with someone seemingly incapable of understanding variables or detailed explanations, I'm often left at a loss for words. I'm dumfounded that before me stands a grown man, that wishes to converse at the level of a grade schooler. Sorry, but I refuse to eschew accuracy in favor of faulty simplicity.

It's odd that these same people also always seem to take things the wrong way. Say they offer a solution to a problem. I may agree or I may notice a problem with the proposition. Yet pointing out this flaw is somehow viewed as a reactionary shooting down of anything they would have said. Um, no... Offer a good idea, and I'll gladly accept it. But if there's a problem or potential problem I'm not just going to ignore it only to result in a waste of time and money.
A: What if we do 'X'?
B: That almost sounds like it would work, except for the fact that 'Y' will cause 'problem Z'.
A: What if we do 'X2'?
B: We tried that already and it didn't work.
A: What if we did 'X3'?
B: That would actually cause more problems because of 'Y2' and 'Z2'.
A: At least I'm offering solutions! You just keep shooting them down!
B: ... *At this point I'm thinking "chill dude, me pointing out where physics or geometry defy your 'solution' is not me trying to pick a fight..."
I feel that looking at everything in such a black and white manner is good for no one. So it's no surprise that this thinking has permeated politics and religion. It's not news to anyone that many conservatives view liberals as the enemy, and vice versa. You're either with the party, or you're against it. Likewise, some believers feel that you are either with God or against him. This line of thinking only goes to divide and cause undue conflict. Often there is a middle-ground where people can compromise on an issue. But in a strict black and white world, this potential for cooperation is lost.

I feel that similar dangers are at risk when condensing conversation to only two polar opposites. Sometimes that may work, but often times things aren't quite that simple. Some may enjoy that illusion of black and white simplicity, but I will pick the accuracy of a world painted in shades of gray any day.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The problem of evil

Based on this title, you probably think I'm going to talk about the classic problem of evil. But I'm actually going to talk about an article from Christian Today that actually claims it's us atheists that face the bigger problem with the problem of evil. Seriously? Oh well, let's see what they have to say...
Lots of people, when asked why they don't believe in God, will say something like, "Because there is so much evil in the world".
You know what, I have a suggestion... How about if Christian Today doesn't  simply purposely create a premise on which to base their entire article, and instead do some real research?

I must say that I've heard very few atheists say that they are atheists because of how much evil there is in the world. I have heard atheists say that the existence of evil made them doubt the whole part about God being all love. But that's pretty much it. After all, there being evil wouldn't disprove God, it only goes so far as to show that if he does exist, he just doesn't give a shit.

You see, most atheists are non-believers because religion hasn't satisfied the burden of proof, or because it just didn't make any logical sense. Not off to a good start David Robertson...
It wasn't the case for me. One of the reasons I became a Christian was studying the horrors of the Holocaust. I visited Auschwitz for the first time last year. It was so upsetting. If there is no God, then to me, this world is hell. What's often used as a reason to not believe in God can be used as a reason to believe.
So David was afraid of reality and retreated to a religion to tell him that it will all be okay and that Jesus will fix the world... someday. Sorry, but belief due to fear is not impressive.
I think that all of us have a sense of evil and a sense of good – I don't think that morality is relative. The modern mantra of "It's true for you but not for me" is false. There really is such a thing as good and evil. To me this truth actually leads to God, rather than away from God.
It matters not that David  doesn't believe morality is subjective. The simple fact it that any way you slice it, it is... Even if you claim morality comes from God. He changes his mind from time to time in the Bible, so that's subjective as well. But looking at morality, we can see that we crafted it and it evolved along with us. We are social creatures that poses empathy (well, most of us). But I go into more detail on that here.

Some things are pretty much universal to us because we are the same species and have gone down the same evolutionary road. But there are still plenty of exceptions from one morality to another. And sorry, there simply being 'evil' doesn't necessitate a god. 'Evil' or 'bad' is simply a term that is comparative to something that is 'good'. Evil is our interpretation, not an actual thing.
So here's the problem of evil in a nutshell. We say that God is omnipotent – that he is all powerful, so he could destroy evil. We say that God is good, so he would want to destroy evil. So then atheists will argue, that because evil exists, a good omnipotent God cannot exist. Otherwise, he would stop evil. It's a simple
argument, but for many people it is devastating.
Yes, it's simple and easy to understand. God as defined by some Christians is contradictory at its core. When you present a God that is all-powerful and all-loving, and than state the existence of evil, you are left having to choose.

1) God either isn't all powerful and can't stop evil.
2) He isn't all loving  but is all powerful and chooses not to stop evil that he could stop.
3) God isn't all powerful or loving.
4) There is no God.

So why is it that when so many believers are shown this that they stridently refuse to believe that their definition of their god is necessarily flawed?
We shouldn't shelter Christians from arguments like this. Some of our young people grow up in churches where they are not asked to think about these things, and we try to protect them.
And they do this because history is showing that education, thinking and questioning are things that usually end up being quite bad for religious faith. Sorry, but if education and thinking are your enemies, that really should tell you something...
So the first time they come across a problem like this, everything gets blown apart and they lose their faith.
Oh no! The kids might actually see logic and recognize it for what it is! *gasp* But let's not be too dramatic. Most don't stop believing just like that. The majority will simply be left with a seed of doubt. A seed that might blossom into a beautiful tree of self discovery, or might be stamped out by religious friends and family should they get a whiff.
That doesn't need to be the case. There are lots of contradictions within this argument, especially when compared to the attitude of many atheists today.
Um, how...? We don't claim to have a super-powered hero that has promised to lock up Captain Evil for his dastardly deeds.
Atheists such as Richard Dawkins claim that evil doesn't actually exist. In his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life Dawkins writes: "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
Talk about not understanding what one is reading. The subject of the book should have been a hint. River Out of Eden is about evolution. Dawkins is not saying that atheists don't believe in evil but that evolution doesn't, as it works with total indifference. I sure hope that this wasn't the bedrock this article was built upon. If so, David wasted probably a couple hours writing an article that is a total waste of time.
So for this kind of atheist thinking, there is no evil. There is no purpose. Nothing, but blind, pitiless indifference.
 Congratulations! David wasted any time he spent penning this piece!
Sometimes I ask God why such terrible things happen in the world. I get upset. But I would be in the pit of despair if I thought that the universe had no purpose, no good and no evil, and it all happened for no reason at all.
Doubling down on the belief out of fear and not actually understanding what you are talking about I see...
If you are a naturalist (ie you believe that the material world is all that there is), then you have a real problem with the existence of evil. You have to believe:
1) There is no creation, and no Creator.
Close enough I guess. A naturalist could believe in a creator that doesn't violate the laws of nature. But since we haven't found any of those yet, we'll just go with what David said.
2) There is no life after death. No one to answer to. You are a blob of carbon floating from one meaningless existence to another.
Wrong. The lack of an after-life doesn't make life meaningless. Does the lack of an after-after-life make the after-life meaningless to a believer? My life may not have a prescribed meaning, but don't fool yourself into thinking life is meaningless. Even without divine mandate, life is beautiful and full of meaning. And even better, we get to decide what that meaning is!
3) There is no ultimate foundation for morality. It's just something that happens, and has evolved.
Yes, morality evolved. And because if that it fits us rather well. Even better, that allows us to fix mistakes. Something that an absolute objective morality won't allow. So a well reasoned subjective morality that we created is actually a superior one anyway!
4) There is no ultimate meaning in life. We're going on from one meaningless existence to another.
How is this one really any different than #2? Was David desperate to make his list a nice tidy  five items and couldn't think of anything else?
5) There is no human free will. It means I'm programmed to do certain things. It means I can't be held accountable. It means when you stand in front of a judge for raping a woman, you say, "I can't help it, it was my genes". It takes away human responsibility. Part of being human is being responsible. We have an element, at least, of free will.
Wow, David has a real knack for not understanding things. We can be genetically predisposed to be more likely to act one way or another, but unless one has some form of mental illness, there still is a choice to be made. That or the lives we lead make us into the people we become. Sorry, but David's attempt at an over simplified straw-man simply fails.
The problem with the atheist view of evil, is that logically it doesn't make sense. Either you agree that it exists, or you don't. If it does exist, then on what metaphysical basis does it exist? It can't just "be" in a world that is just atoms and molecules.
Here's the thing. Atheists don't claim that there is no evil! We may counter a believers claim of absolute evil that there isn't really an absolute, transcendent evil. But this in no way equates to us not thinking there is any 'evil'. So no, it's David's claim that 'the atheist view of evil' doesn't make sense that actually doesn't make any sense.
Good old CS... Who claimed that Jesus was either
lord, liar, or lunatic. He of course left out that
possibility that Jesus didn't claim to be God or
didn't exist. Something that confine Jesus to be
no more than a simple legend.
I love CS Lewis' view.
I usually don't, as his work on Christianity that is supposed to be aimed at atheists shows a real lack of understanding about atheists.
As he made his journey from atheism to theism, Lewis realised [SIC] that the problem of evil presented more of a problem for atheism than it did for theism. In Mere Christianity he writes:
Yeah, I actually have my doubts about his supposed atheism. I've seen him claim he was an atheist, but never anything more than that. For someone who claimed to have been an atheist, his knowledge of atheism is staggeringly bad. So he either came to atheism from some illogical path, miscategorized himself as an atheist (maybe he was just angry with God), or was lying.
"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust...? Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies.
Oh, so close! We recognize 'bad' not because we know God, but because we know 'good'. Furthermore, it CS really did have a problem with God due to the problem of evil, it just goes to show that if he was an atheist, he wasn't a logical one. 
"Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple."
Funny... My non-belief stemmed in part from my actually trying to prove God...
It's true. Atheism is way too simple. If you say you don't believe in God because the world is unjust and that there is evil in the world – but you then say there is no such thing as evil, you're contradicting yourself.
Well it's a good thing that we don't say that then, isn't it...
The New Atheist motto "There is no God and I hate Him" doesn't make any sense at all.
David... Please stop making stuff up. Atheism doesn't have a motto, let alone a new one. And if it did, it certainly wouldn't be something as illogical as that!

So lets all thank David for wasting his time and ours by writing about something he clearly doesn't understand. 

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God proven in three minutes?

Josh Feuerstein is back. As you may remember, he's best known for knowing absolutely nothing about evolution. Well, this time he claims that he will prove that God exists in just three minutes. Lets just see about that...
...I can see a painting and know that there was a painter. I don't need to see the painter to know there is one. If I am hunting and see droppings in the woods, I know they were left by an animal. I know these things exist because of the evidence left behind. So when I look at human beings and creation, I know that there has to be a creator.
Leading with this argument isn't a good start. Yes, we know that a painting needed to be painted because we know that paintings don't just suddenly pop into existence. Actually, the very definition of a painting necessitates it's creation by a painter. The same is true of animal droppings. The function of an animal's digestive system is required to yield animal droppings.

But you can't just assert that the Earth and everything on it is a creation that required a sentient guiding hand in it's creation. You can not just claim that the Earth is a creation, therefor it needs a creator, without first actually showing that it is a 'creation' at all. Add to that the scientific models and evidence that have shown that no divine authorship was needed, and the entire argument is shot. Next!
We believe in all kind of things we can't see. We believe in heat, but we can't see it. We can't see gravity. We believe in gravity because we have felt it. The same way the millions and billions have felt God.
Technically you can see a representation of heat with a thermal camera, but lets get to the point of this. We can't see heat or gravity, but they are distinct from God in that they have been measured, tested and understood. Maybe we can not see them with out naked eye, but we can and have proven their existence. God? Not so much...

And so what if a lot of people believe in the Christian god? A lot of people believe the Hindu gods as well. Is Josh suggesting that they exist as well? A lot of people also once thought that the Sun orbited the Earth, and that the Earth was flat. If a billion people believe a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing. What I care about is what is provable.
And atheist doesn't poses the totality of truth, so how can they say that God doesn't exist?
Most of us don't claim to know it all, or know for a fact that God doesn't exist. The majority of atheists (myself included) would rather say that they simply don't believe in God, or that his existence is highly unlikely. Not that we are 100% certain he doesn't exist.

My experiences are enough to prove to me that he does exist.
And a Hindu's experiences are enough to prove to them that Krishna exists, and a Buddhist's experiences are enough to prove to them that the Buddha and Nirvana exist. Which part of this is supposed to apply to me though?
There's a billion people around the world that would agree with me that they've experienced  his love, etc...
Sorry, but an argumentum ad populum won't work on me. But you know what Josh, a billion people will also agree to have experienced the Hindu gods. Are they true as well?
Remember, believers in EVERY religion claim
the same sincerity and experiences. They can't all
be right, but they can all be wrong.
I challenge you to simply ask God to show himself to you. I promise that it will change your life the same way it changed mine. 

Apparently Josh is unaware that most atheists were previously believers. I know I was. According to Josh, what I thought and thought I felt should have proved God to me beyond a shadow of a doubt. As a believer, I never felt something that was so obvious and life changing as Josh is stating. I did believe, and thought I had it figured out, but eventually lost belief anyway. But what the hell, in the interest of science, I will take his challenge and ask God to show himself to me...

...and here we are a few hours later, and nothing. Sorry, but Josh fails once more. He claims to prove
God in three minutes, and doesn't even come close. So much for that good old Christian honesty...

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A republican proves God?

Oh my... When I saw the blurb claiming that a republican congressman can prove that God exists with a simple equation, I was admittedly skeptical. When I read the article though...
A Republican congressman has apparently figured out the solution to the age-old philosophical question mankind has been trying to figure out for a very long time.
Really?  I'm all ears.
Proving God exists or does not exist has been a difficult endeavour for many, but Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) gave it a try at a prayer rally held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
Gohmert? I don't have a good feeling about this already... Whenever I hear his name, I instantly think of TV's hapless Gomer Pyle.
“Bob Murphey used to say, ‘You know, I feel so bad for atheists, I do,’” Gohmert said of the country music singer at the “Celebrate America” event. “‘Think about it, no matter how smart they think they are, an atheist has to admit that he believes the equation: nobody plus nothing equals everything.’”

He continued: “How embarrassing for an intellectual to have to say ‘yeah, I believe that. Nobody plus nothing equals everything.’ Well, you couldn’t get everything unless there was something that was the creator of everything. And that’s the Lord we know.”

Your move, atheists.
Sigh... nothing + nobody = everything? Talk about an old and terrible argument. Fist off, the argument shows a lack of understanding of what an atheist even is. An atheist at it's simplest is someone who lacks a belief in gods. Where everything came from is a different question. Sure, most atheist accept the Big Bang theory, but not all. An atheist is free to think that some advanced alien race created us, or that our universe is just part of an advanced computer simulation where we are but digital characters convinced we are biological. But no matter what they think about the origins of the cosmos or life, if they don't believe in God, the are an atheist.

Another problem is that the believer has the same problem with their equation that they think atheists have. They think God created everything, so what about nothing + nobody = God. They want me to account for where the universe came from (and we have parts of that figured out already), while they still have to account for where God came from. A believer may just claim that he always existed, but that's a non-answer. If a complex God could just always exist, why couldn't a comparatively simple universe or it's building blocks simply always exist instead?

Despite Gohmert's opinion, there's nothing embarrassing about lacking faith in God. Actually, he should be the one embarrassed. He doesn't realize his equation is old, terrible and refuted. He doesn't even know an accurate description of atheism. And he's the one following a religion that has consistently been on the wrong side of history and science.

And what's with the jump at the end that the creator god is the Christian god? Even if his equation did prove what he is claiming it does, he's still left with all the work to do as to which god is the one that did it all.

Once again, we're left with an article who's headline is all flash, and the body is no substance. But if you can prove that God is real, I'll listen. Your move Louie...

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Female Thor?

First it was the Human Torch, now the mighty Thor is embroiled in controversy...

Marvel took to The View of all places to make this announcement:
Thor concept art courtesy of Marvel Comics.
It’s a huge day in the Marvel Universe. Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up, and he’s no longer worthy to Mjolnir. For the first time in history, that hammer is being held by a woman. That’s right. Thor is a woman!

This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe.

But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before. The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!
That's right, Thor is now a woman!

As you might have guessed, this has ruffled more than a few feathers. Some are claiming that Marvel is trying to change Norse mythology. An odd statement seeing how the Thor in the comics has very little in common with the 'real' god of thunder to begin with. Secret identity as a human, powers can be transferred, others can become Thor... Also, in Norse mythology Sif is Thor's wife, but in the comics and movies, Jane Foster is his love interest.

In mythology, Thor is Thor. But in the comics, there have been a few to hold the title.

• Dr. Donald Blake (turns out to be the actual Thor sent to Earth)
• Roger 'Red' Norvell
• Beta Ray Bill
• Eric Masterson
• Dargo Ktor

Other complaints have been how this will effect the movies. I'd imagine it wouldn't effect them at all since the movies have not been following the comics. In the movies Thor always knows he is Thor and lives in Asgard. In the comics he was sent to Earth, didn't know he was Thor, and lived on Earth secretly.

And then of course there's the fact that Thor is now a woman... But is that really a big deal? There have been Thor themed female characters before, and let's not forget the inscription Marvel put on Mjolnir.
Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.
So if the hammer deems you worthy, you hold it and in turn will posses the powers of Thor.

Other Characters (other than those that actually became Thor) to have been worthy of holding Mjolnir include:

So when this was Thor, it was just fine. And let's not forget that
time he was a frog. But a woman? That's just too much! Nope,
that doesn't sound misogynistic at all...
• Captain America
• Throg
• Thor 'clone'
• Ragnarok
• Hulk
• Storm
• Rouge
• Thunderstrike
• Odin
• Loki
• Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O'Hara)
• Conan
• Deadpool
• Superman
• Wonder Woman
• and others...

So given that Thor's powers can be transferred as such, that those powers have been wielded by women before, and that there have been multiple 'Thors', is the next Thor being a woman really the rule breaker travesty that some are making it out to be? No, not at all. It fits with the Marvel character's mythos and doesn't rewrite the past at all.

Who knows, maybe she will turn out to be the original Thor's daughter or sister and they can now fight side-by-side. She with Mjlnor and, he with the battle ax Jarnbjorn.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, July 18, 2014

What we have here, is a lack of understanding

What's the proper course of action when you don't understand something? Should you research and study it? Nope, just ask Billy Graham!
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I believe in God because I don’t think it’s logical to think this universe just happened. But where does Jesus fit into the picture? I apologize for asking what’s probably a simple question, but I didn’t grow up in a church-going family. — H.R.
Sorry HR, this isn't so much an easy question so much as a painfully sad one. What HR fails to realize is that his thinking it isn't logical is meaningless when compared to the facts and evidence that it is...
DEAR H.R.: Don’t apologize; I’m thankful you want to learn about God! As I’ve often said, the person who’s in the greatest danger spiritually is the one who never thinks about God or wants anything to do with Him.
So... Billy is in terrible danger with Thor then?
You’re right; it’s not logical to think that the universe just “happened.” Whether we look into the heavens through a telescope or examine a droplet of blood through a microscope, we see incredible beauty and complexity that could only come from the hand of an all-wise and all-powerful Creator. As the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
Billy, Billy, Billy... A lack of understanding about cosmology, physics, evolution, and the scientific process in general is not proof of a creation. It's only proof that you ignore or didn't bother to try and learn the explanations that are actually backed up by cold hard facts.
But looking only at the created world doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.
Prove that it's even a creation at all please...
For example, it doesn’t tell us if God loves us and cares about us. 
Don't worry, the Bible very clearly shows that he doesn't.
Nor does it tell us how we ought to live. 
We figured that one out on our own too. Social creatures and all that...
Most of all, it doesn’t tell us what we ought to do about the sense of sin and guilt we all feel in our hearts.
We sorted that one out too. Empathy is pretty damn powerful. Plus the previous one funnels in here as well.
And this is why Jesus Christ came into the world. He was God in human form, and He came to demonstrate God’s love to us. He did this by giving His life for us, so we could be forgiven of our sins and go to be with Him in heaven forever.
Yes, we've all heard this before. But I still want to know... Why the huge production for something that wasn't even necessary?
God will accept you just as you are, and you can begin your journey of faith by asking Christ to come into your heart today. Your life will never be the same.
You see... That's the thing. He doesn't take you as you are.  He requires you to conform to one demand (if not more) otherwise he doesn't give a toss and sends you to hell. That doesn't sound very loving and accepting to me.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

God's forgiveness

Ah, once more Billy Graham picks a letter from someone wanting to know if there is hope for them after all their 'sins'...
Q: I know God can do anything He wants to, which means that if He wanted to, He could even forgive me for all the bad things I've done. But I could never forgive myself. I know I've hurt a lot of people, and I feel so ashamed and guilty. Is there any hope for me?
It's amazing just how many Christians don't seem to know very much about Christianity...
A: The most important thing you need to know is that God not only could forgive you - but He wants to! He loves you and doesn't want you to go through life carrying a burden of guilt and shame.
Oh, so he wants to forgive? Okay I think we're done here. Let's pack it up and go...
That's why God has done everything possible to make your forgiveness a reality.
Wait... He wants to forgive, and has done everything possible to make that happen, so he just forgives right? I mean, that really is all it takes.
Yes, you have sinned; you've sinned against others, and most of all you've sinned against God. We often downplay the seriousness of sin, but sin is serious, because it cuts us off from others and from God. And we all are guilty, whether we feel it or not. The Bible warns, "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10).
Wait, wait, wait... How can sin or anything cut someone off from God. He's supposed to be all-powerful for crying out loud!
But God has provided the way for us to be forgiven...
By, I don't know... Maybe just forgiving people who are genuinely sorry, good, or have learned their lesson?
...and that way is Jesus Christ. He was without sin, for He was God, but on the cross all our sins were placed on Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment you and I deserve. Now we can be forgiven - freely and fully - by putting our faith and trust in Him. Why not ask Him to forgive you today?
After-all, he was a Christian.
Son of a... What happened to wanting to forgive? If he's requiring the acceptance of a barbaric, unnecessary and immoral human sacrifice (or anything really) in order to gain forgiveness he isn't forgiving because he wants to, but because you payed him to. That's more black-mail than forgiveness. If someone truly wants to forgive someone, there is no need of any such requirement.
Then ask God to help you forgive yourself. You can't forget what you've done, but if God has taken away your sins, why act as if they were still there? And if you need to ask others to forgive you, let them know you now belong to Christ, and you're sorry for what you've done and you hope they'll forgive you.
Yeah... That's real great advice. Why act like your sin is still there if God has forgiven you? Is Billy blind to the obvious implications? Oh, you just robbed and shot a pregnant woman? No worries, God forgave you so there's no need to stress about it. In fact, do it again tomorrow if you want... you're in good with the big guy.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I did it my way

Here's one of the rare occasions when a non-Christian writes Billy Graham. But don't worry, he still answers as poorly as usual...
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My favorite song is the one that says, “I did it my way,” because that’s what I’ve always done. I’m even going to have it put on my tombstone. I’m sorry if it offends you, but I don’t need God or a bunch of religious fanatics telling me what to do. What’s wrong with that? — J.N.
Wow, Frank Sinatra. Either JN just shattered the common misconception that atheists are all young teens or twenty-somethings,  or he could be like me... A member of one of the younger generations that is aware or a wide span of music. What's wrong with having that inscription on a tombstone? Nothing! Actually, for a song about a life fully and well lived, I'd say it's appropriate. What's wrong with living ones life that way? The answer is again, nothing. Just live your life, your way (so long as it doesn't harm another in any way) and there's no problem at all.

DEAR J.N.: Your comments don’t offend me, but they do sadden me very deeply, because they suggest you’ve completely closed your mind to the possibility that you might be wrong.
Does it though? If JN is anything like me (and most non-believers are), his mind may be quite open to that possibility. Prove we're wrong and we'll change our mind. But regular readings of Billy's columns make it pretty clear that his mind is completely closed to the possibility that he could be wrong. So careful with the hypocrisy!
Although you may sneer at it, the Bible’s warning is very clear: “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed — without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).
So? Why should I care about a threat from a  terribly shaky source? He doesn't pay any mind to any threats in the Qur'an, so why should I lend any extra credence to a source that is just as unfounded?
I can’t help but wonder why you’ve turned your back on God and insisted on going your own way in life. Perhaps you rejected your parents’ faith, or perhaps you had a bad experience with a church when you were younger.

Read more here:
 Or maybe it's the lack of evidence that any religion's claims are true. Ever consider that one Billy?
But perhaps the real reason is that you want to be free to do anything you want to do, and you know God might make you stop. Whatever it is, I urge you to face it honestly and ask yourself if it’s really worth the risk of losing your soul.
Wait... Is Billy suggesting that we don't believe because we just want to be wild and crazy sinners? I don't live such a life, so so much for that. It also makes one wonder if his religion is the only thing keeping Billy moral. Sorry, but those that are good only under an ever-present threat are morally inferior to those that are good for the sake of being good.
The tragedy is that the more we resist God, the less we’re able to hear his voice.
 So much for being all-powerful...
God loves you, and he’ll forgive you and welcome you into his family until you draw your last breath. But if you insist on going your own way, he’ll let you until it’s too late.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster loves you Billy. He boiled for your sins but still loves you. He will allow you to go of your foolish path though, even if you ignore the FSM until it's too late.
I challenge you to examine Jesus Christ as he is found in the pages of the New Testament. Don’t gamble with your soul by dismissing him or taking him lightly. The Bible says, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4).
And I challenge Billy to look at every other religion. They all make grand claims, threats and promises. Their believers believe them to be true just as strongly as a Christian believes in their religion. But at the end of the day none of them, Christianity included, are supported by evidence. Maybe once Billy realizes that he won't offer such meaningless replies to non-believers, and instead try to actually answer our queries in a meaningful way.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What would you tell an atheist?

Over at CrossMap, Carol Round wrote a piece asking the question, "What would you tell an atheist if he wanted concrete evidence before he would believe in our Creator God?"
How do you explain to a nonbeliever that God really does exist? When I asked my Facebook friends, I received some incredible responses. While some said they'd share their personal testimony, others mentioned Bible verses they'd share. 
Well, what would she and her readers tell an atheist like me? Lets take a look...
One friend said, "One could point out the fact the Bible isn't just a's a collection of books, written by different people, most of whom didn't even know each other, or maybe not even ever hearing of each other, and how all those books are interrelated and back each other up. All the 'coincidences' in the Bible, and in nature itself, can't just be chalked up to coincidence!
How hard is it to understand that the books of the Bible were first legends that were passed by word of mouth. Over time, different people wrote them down. Additionally, later works were simply building on their predecessors. Just take a look at any popular TV, book, movie, or video game franchise. The later offerings tend to add to and to some degree, match up with the story/mythos of the previous incarnations. Then there is the fan art and fan fictions...

People from far and wide that have never met build on the story, take it in their own direction, finish what the original creators never got around to, obsessively make their companion story fit in with cannon, etc. How is that any different? Does the saturation of Legend of Zelda, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Batman, or Sailor Moon official and fan material make all these properties real and believable as well?

And if the Bible is supposed to be too good to be just a 'coincidence', then why is it chock-full of the kind of contradictions you'd expect from an old legend that was built on by various peoples?
In addition, of course, are all the millions of personal testimonies. I heard a saying once, 'A sinner with an argument is no match for a Christian with an experience!'"
But what about the personal experiences of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus... even Scientologists? They believe just as strongly in their experiences as a Christian believes in their own. Also, how is someone else's personal experience relevant to me? If the idea is to give me a reason to believe, the feeling someone else gets when they talk to their god simply isn't going to cut it.
A pastor friend on Facebook shared this, "For me, I would have to have proof God doesn't exist.
So the pastors reply is to flippantly declare that the impossible must be done? Lets be clear here, to 100% prove the non-existance of anything is impossible. Be it God, the tooth fairy, Santa, honest politicians, or even a tap-dancing yellow jellybean called Fred that sings the blues. Quite often, the closest you can get to proving something doesn't exist is 99.999...%. But you can never get to 100% unless it is defined in a way that is self refuting.

But while it is impossible to prove 100% that something doesn't exist, it is quite easy to show that something does... well, so long as it actually does exist. The burden of proof falls on the one making the positive claim. That's why the onus is on the believer to show there is a God, and not the non-believer to proof there isn't.
Quoting scripture to them won't work, because they don't believe in the Bible.
Oh, believe me... Most Christians haven't gotten that memo. You might as well quote Star Trek to a Star Wars fan. But there's another level. Quoting the Bible to prove the Bible is circular reasoning, no better than citing that the Sixth Sense proves that Bruce Willis actually is a child therapist ghost.
Seeing comes from faith. It's not up to us to prove there's a God, that's God's job. We are to lead by example, show others the way to Christ, and the Holy Spirit will convict and penetrate the depths of the heart."
If that's the case, God is doing a terrible job. And so what if a Christian leads by example to show the way to Christ? What about the Buddhist that leads by example to show the way to the Buddha and eventually to Nirvana? Yes, sometimes beliefs (of many types) can inspire people to do good. But none of that actually takes a single step in the direction of proving that deity to be actually existent.
Another friend added, "God is like the wind. You can feel it. You know it's there. You just can't see the actual wind. You can see stuff blowing, but not the wind itself. You can't see God, but you can feel Him. You can see the evidence of things He has done and how He works in our lives, but you can't see Him. You just go by faith that He is there."
Watch out guys, we've got someone parroting an old and terrible analogy over here! No, we can't actually see the wind, but we understand it, we know how it works, we can measure it, we can prove it's 'existence'. But we have yet to do any of these things for God. Sure, believers like to claim that God did this or that, but these are only claims. One can say that God got them a promotion or brought them peace, but to date it has never actually been proven that these things attributed to God, were actually done by God. If they were, there would be no reason for this article, because then most atheists would no longer be atheists and would have the evidence we're asking for.

Also, why not just follow Allah by faith? After all, go to him in faith, and you will find that he is there...
Another friend mentioned Jeremiah 29:13. Without telling him it was scripture, I replied once again to the atheist, "If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him."
Yeah... No. Didn't work. I, like most atheist, was a believer before losing faith. I sought God, believed in him, and yet I still lost faith. Ironically, my deconversion happened while trying to back up and prove my faith. Further more, some atheists were Christian missionaries, and even clergy (and studying to be clergy). Instead of trying to pass off a thinly veiled no true Scotsman argument, how about actually trying to offer some evidence?

But what about the flip side? I could just as easily tell the Christian that if they seek Thor
wholeheartedly, they will find him. If they don't believe in Thor, the problem is them. They either aren't seeking him hard enough and with all their heart, or they just don't want to believe in the glorious god of thunder.

And... That was it. When asked what they would say to an atheist asking for evidence, a grand total of zero offered any evidence. If you ask me, that stunning vacancy it a very telling sign that they quite simply don't have any.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Everything is a sin!

Curious about sin? KS is, so he asked Billy Graham about it...
Q: What is your definition of sin? I do some things that I know some people might call sinful, but I personally don't consider them bad since they don't harm anyone. But how do I know if God considers them sin? -- K.S.
What's 'sin'? An empty term used to describe things that are eternally bad and  frowned on by some imaginary deity. Oh... He wanted Billy's opinion. Oh well, so much for getting an answer that's not sure to be terrible and nonsensical....
A: The Bible actually uses several words that we translate as "sin," but they all have the same meaning: A sin is anything that isn't pleasing to God. It may be something we do or say, or an evil thought or selfish motive -- but whatever it is, it isn't God's will.
Wait... anything that isn't pleasing to God? Sin is already a pretty damn broad term, but Billy just managed to make it even more massive. Say a hot dog without relish on it isn't pleasing to God. That would make an every day hot dog a sin. He probably likes his steaks very rare (what with the pleasing animal sacrifices and all), so that would make any steak that is actually cooked properly a sin.

Suppose God just doesn't like certain plants in his garden. You're garden or landscaping could be a sin. God might not like his shirt untucked, or perhaps the only ties he likes are bow ties. Your wardrobe is now a sin (well, it probably was anyway).

Billy has defined sin is the childish way of "If I don't like it, it's bad and no one else can like it either". It makes God sound not only juvenile and unreasonable, but like quite a control freak as well.
Have you ever asked yourself why God doesn't want us to sin? It isn't because He wants to take all the fun out of life and make us miserable -- not at all. Instead, God loves us, and He knows far better than we do what is best for us. He also knows what will hurt us or keep us from true happiness, and when we do those things, we only hurt ourselves. Sin always hurts us -- always.
Sin always hurts us? Really now? How does wearing a poly-cotton blend t-shirt hurt me? (Deuteronomy 22:11) How does not abhorring gay people hurt me? (Leviticus 20:13) What about eating shrimp? (Leviticus 11:9-12) What part of not forcing a daughter to marry her rapist hurts me? (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) How does it hurt me by not forcing my wife to always submit to me and stay silent? (1 Corithians, Colossians...) I could go on all day, but it is clear that there are plenty of things that are considered sins that hurt no-one. In fact, in some cases, doing the right thing is what would be considered a sin by God.
Some things are clearly not God's will; He has told us about them in the Bible, which is His Word.
Yes, important stuff like eating all insects is a no-no except for Locusts, Katydids, Crickets and Grasshoppers. Those crunchy guys have the God stamp of approval! (Leviticus 11:22)
Can't you just smell the evil?
But what about other situations, such as those you've allowed into your life? Let me ask you some questions. Have you prayed and asked God if these are pleasing to Him? Would you be ashamed or embarrassed if others knew about them? Would they lead a younger person astray? I recall the advice a godly man told me many years ago: "If in doubt -- don't!"
I agree with the last thought, but that's in no way advice that is believer exclusive by any stretch. But instead of asking questions like 'will it please God' how about asking if it will hurt anyone in any way? Will it be unfair and deceitful? What kind of example will I be setting? Suppose you preoccupy yourself with the 'what would please God' question. You may feel that God would be pleased if you stand in the way of equal rights for same sex couples. Whereas, I would opine that the right thing to do would to not be a dick who blindly follows a book, and ignores the hurt and unjustness that such a stance can spread.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, July 11, 2014

9-11 'cross'

This is one story that I had planned not to write about. But after seeing story after story about it, I guess I'll bite the bullet and share my thoughts. As many are aware, the group American Atheists has taken the display of the 9-11 'cross' in the National September 11 Memorial Museum to court. A case, I might add, that I don't agree with.

But one thing that baffles me is the headlines I've been seeing. "Court presses atheist group to explain why artifact is offensive." Um... why? That isn't the point. The law does not guarantee protection from offense. So proving that they are offended by something (that they probably aren't offended by) would be a meaningless exercise. Especially since the lawsuit isn't asking for the crosses removal because of 'offense', but establishment clause concerns.

American Atheists claims that it is a religious symbol and has no place in a government funded museum because it establishes preferential treatment for one faith above others. This is where I disagree. When it comes to purpose built monuments that are explicitly intended to be a crucifix or the ten commandments, I would agree that these displays shouldn't be tax funded and posted on government property.

This is where I believe the 9-11 'cross' is different. It was not created to be a cross. Rather, is is an artifact that was pulled from the wreckage on the twin towers. Just one of many perpendicularly intersecting steel beams that make up such structures. Yes, Christians will look at it's shape and take away a bit different impression from seeing the 'cross'. But it was never made to be a cross.

Furthermore, I have not been to the memorial, but I have read of how the 9-11 'cross' is displayed. One non-believer blogger noted that it is displayed amongst other large artifacts and isn't really displayed in a way to draw any special attention to it. The museum doesn't make the absurd claim of it being a 'miracle cross' as some do, but instead mentions on the description card that it gave some workers in the aftermath 'spiritual solace'. And you know what... that much is true. Religious workers might have been inspired by the 'cross'. And others may have found a flag, photos, fire helmet, or some other object that touched then emotionally as well.

It is part of the 9-11 story, and I don't feel it is in violation of the establishment clause at all. It is one of many artifacts from that dark day. Yes, it looks a lot like a cross, and believers will likely take different meaning from it, but it's an object that was almost inevitable due to the construction methods used. It looks like a cross, but it's not really a cross any more than a rock formation that looks like a face is actually a face.

So that's my take. The 9-11 'cross' is but an artifact that has become the victim of intense distortion from both sides. It is not a miracle in the slightest, but in my opinion, it also isn't an establishment clause concern.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Atheists don't exist?

Nury Vittachi wrote a piece for science 2.0 that states that atheist's might not exist. Oh brother...
WHILE MILITANT ATHEISTS like Richard Dawkins may be convinced God doesn’t exist
Right off the bat we're met with a statement that shows a lack of understanding about atheism. Most atheists (including myself and Professor Dawkins) are not convinced that there absolutely is no God. Rather, that we are not convinced that there is a God, or find it's existence unlikely. Dawkins even said in his book The God Delusion that he would rank his atheism as a 6 out of 7 because he didn't claim to know 100% that there is no God.
Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.
So? We are deeply curious. What does any of this have to do with the claim that there are no atheists?
 While this idea may seem outlandish—after all, it seems easy to decide not to believe in God—evidence from several disciplines indicates that what you actually believe is not a decision you make for yourself. Your fundamental beliefs are decided by much deeper levels of consciousness, and some may well be more or less set in stone. 
Correct, we don't decide what we believe. But this is nowhere near a new idea. Our beliefs are dictated by a number of things. And this very fact actually proves that there are atheists. I am an atheist because I don't believe in God. I don't believe because I am not convinced by any of the God claims I have ever heard. Therefore, I am an atheist because of the very process of belief that is supposed to throw atheism into question.
This line of thought has led to some scientists claiming that “atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think,” says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New Scientist.
Huh... How?  I've yet to see anything here that even comes close to showing that.
“They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.”
Sure, I guess there are some. I've met one or two through the years, but I'm not one of them. But wait... Why would that even matter? Belief in God, and belief in a soul are two different matters. While it doesn't make sense to me, one can be an atheists and believe in the soul.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since we are born believers, not atheists, scientists say.
Which ones? Because that is just false. When we are born we have no concept of God or religion. Due solely to this ignorance of religion, we don't believe. Therefore, we are all born without belief and are atheists by default.
Humans are pattern-seekers from birth, with a belief in karma, or cosmic justice, as our default setting.
I don't feel that's true of me (karma/cosmic justice), but even if it was, how would that in any way erase atheism from being?
Scientists have discovered that “invisible friends” are not something reserved for children.
I know this already. Adults just tend to call theirs 'God'.
We all have them, and encounter them often in the form of interior monologues. As we experience events, we mentally tell a non-present listener about it. 
Thinking to one's self is completely different than talking to an imaginary friend or deity. When you talk to yourself, you know you are talking to yourself. In the other cases,  you actually think a second party is there to listen to you.
“From childhood, people form enduring, stable and important relationships with fictional characters, imaginary friends, deceased relatives, unseen heroes and fantasized mates,” says Boyer of Washington University, himself an atheist. This feeling of having an awareness of another consciousness might simply be the way our natural operating system works.
And daydreaming, longing, and fantasies do away with atheism how exactly?
In the United States, 38% of people who identified themselves as atheist or agnostic went on to claim to believe in a God or a Higher Power
The 'atheists' that claim to believe in a God are simply proof that theists are not alone in not knowing what atheism means. But belief in a higher power is not a contradiction to an atheist that defines that higher power as an alien or some other form of being or force that's not a deity. This may also be an artifact of how the question was asked. If belief in a god or higher power were asked in the same question, what percentage believe in a god, and how many believe in some other form of higher power (whatever that may be)?
When researchers asked people whether they had taken part in esoteric spiritual practices such as having a Reiki session or having their aura read, the results were almost identical (between 38 and 40%) for people who defined themselves as religious, non-religious or atheist.
But did they do it because they believed in it? Did they change religious affiliation since then? Did they do it for a laugh? Never-the-less, none of this matters if they don't believe in God. Other supernatural beliefs are a separate question.
The implication is that we all believe in a not dissimilar range of tangible and intangible realities. Whether a particular brand of higher consciousness is included in that list (“I believe in God”, “I believe in some sort of higher force”, “I believe in no higher consciousness”) is little more than a detail.
Actually, it's much more than a detail. It's the whole conversation when the premiss of this article was to question if atheists actually exist.
If a loved one dies, even many anti-religious people usually feel a need for a farewell ritual, complete with readings from old books and intoned declarations that are not unlike prayers.
So? We miss that person and want to remember them in some way. Nothing about that is threatening to atheism.
Statistics show that the majority of people who stop being part of organized religious groups don’t become committed atheists, but retain a mental model in which “The Universe” somehow has a purpose for humanity.
Really, because of all the atheists I've met, don't feel that the universe has some grand purpose for humanity. But by 'stop being a part of organized religions', Nury is sloppily lumping all the 'nones' together with atheists. So much for relevant data...
Religious communities grow faster, since people behave better
That's an odd claim to make when Christians and other believers far outnumber atheists in US
 There is also the notion that the presence of an invisible moralistic presence makes misdemeanors harder to commit. “People who think they are being watched tend to behave themselves and cooperate more,” says the New Scientist’s Lawton. “Societies that chanced on the idea of supernatural surveillance were likely to have been more successful than those that didn't, further spreading religious ideas.”
It's not so simple though. Studies have found that societies that believe in a unforgiving god are actually more likely to be more harmonious and peaceful that societies that believe in a forgiving god.
It’s not that a deity appears directly in tales. It is that the fundamental basis of stories appears to be the link between the moral decisions made by the protagonists and the same characters’ ultimate destiny. The payback is always appropriate to the choices made. An unnamed, unidentified mechanism ensures that this is so, and is a fundamental element of stories—perhaps the fundamental element of narratives. 
    In children’s stories, this can be very simple: the good guys win, the bad guys lose. In narratives for older readers, the ending is more complex, with some lose ends left dangling, and others ambiguous. Yet the ultimate appropriateness of the ending is rarely in doubt. If a tale ended with Harry Potter being tortured to death and the Dursley family dancing on his grave, the audience would be horrified, of course, but also puzzled: that’s not what happens in stories. Similarly, in a tragedy, we would be surprised if King Lear’s cruelty to Cordelia did not lead to his demise.
And...? This is storytelling, plain and simple. People tend to like happy endings, so that's the kind that get written most. Happy endings are financially beneficial, and more likely to get a story shared. But not all stories written end so happily. My wife and I watched the movie ATM the other day. That is an example of a film that ends with the bad guy winning. This happening is not an isolated one. All stories don't have a happy ending, and more importantly, life doesn't always go or end happily.
Indeed, it appears that stories exist to establish that there exists a mechanism or a person—cosmic destiny, karma, God, fate, Mother Nature—to make sure the right thing happens to the right person.
Even if that is the storytellers intent, this isn't a threat to atheism. We want to believe that things will turn out right, and express certain standards and ideals to pass on. This doesn't always happen in real life, but the story can be both instructional and entertaining without there actually having to be a deity.
While some bleak stories are well-received by critics, they rarely win mass popularity among readers or moviegoers. Stories without the appropriate outcome mechanism feel incomplete. The purveyor of cosmic justice is not just a cast member, but appears to be the hidden heart of the show.
Or could it be that we like to be made to feel safe and reassured. Many go to a movie for a pleasant distraction from the realities in the world. To instead have a more realistic story shown to them leaves them feeling exposed or vulnerable.
But if a belief in cosmic justice is natural and deeply rooted, the question arises: where does atheism fit in?
I for one, don't believe in some big perfect cosmic justice. But where do I think atheism fits in? As a label for those that lack belief in a god...
Of course these findings do not prove that it is impossible to stop believing in God.
Then what was the point of this word continent of an article?
What they do indicate, quite powerfully, is that we may be fooling ourselves if we think that we are making the key decisions about what we believe, and if we think we know how deeply our views pervade our consciousnesses.
Who is this news to? I've got some more breaking news that just rolled across my desk... The allies have won WW-II!
It further suggests that the difference between the atheist and the non-atheist viewpoint is much smaller than probably either side perceives.
Really? The only difference between a theist and atheist is answering just one question differently. Everything else is in flux and unique to each individual. The perceived gulf  between the two come from people like this author who tend to muddy the waters by attempting to tack on additional things that don't necessarily belong.
On a more personal level, we all have loved ones who will die, and we all have a tendency to puzzle about what consciousness is, whether it is separate from the brain, and whether it can survive.
Not all. I follow the science that suggests that consciousness is but an emergent property of the brain. Likewise, when the brain dies, so does consciousness. Until there is research that suggest otherwise, there no puzzling on my part.
When looking at trends, there’s also population growth to consider. Western countries are moving away from the standard family model, and tend to obsess over topics such as same-sex marriage and abortion on demand. Whatever the rights and wrongs of these issues, in practice they are associated with shrinking populations.  Europeans (and the Japanese) are not having enough children to replace the adult generation, and are seeing their communities shrink on a daily basis.
And in a world struggling for food and resources, what part of more responsible population figures is a bad thing?
“It’s clearly the case that the future will involve an increase in religious populations and a decrease in scepticism,” says Steve Jones
Then why is non-belief the fastest growing 'belief group' in the world?

And that's where this article ends, yet another case of much ado about nothing...

-Brain Hulk

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