Monday, October 11, 2010

Is the Bible a Tool for Atheism?

Isaac Asimov
A recent Pew research poll came to the "shocking" conclusion that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than religious people do. As you can tell from my quotes, I didn't find those results so much shocking as rather obvious. (If you want to test yourself, Pew published an unofficial Internet version of the poll questions online. When you're done, you can compare your results with the official results on a very in-depth basis.)

Given my passion for anti-theism, I may not be an accurate representation of the typical atheist, but the fact remains that I know more than a vast number of believers about their own religion. (Although I admit that I'm lacking in non-Christian religious knowledge, but I know more about other religions than most Christians do.)

But the point is not that I'm an atheist, so I know more about religion; that's the wrong cause and effect. I think the more accurate way to phrase it is that I know more about religion, so I'm an atheist.

As the late, great Isaac Asimov wrote: "Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." -- Isaac Asimov

(More quotes like the above on my atheism quotes page.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are Outspoken Atheists Doing More Harm Than Good?

Does being confrontational do atheists any favors?
It's one thing to constantly preach to the choir (you're the choir here) about why Christianity is illogical, irrational, and harmful to society, but I truly believe that if you can't step back and evaluate your own side of things from as objective a standpoint as possible then you're doing a disservice both to yourself and anyone who is willing to listen to you on a regular basis. One concern I have about atheists like myself -- vocal, unrelenting, and proud -- is that we may be doing more harm than good for our cause.

Take a look at someone like me from the viewpoint of a fundamentalist Christian: I seem entirely sure of my point of view regarding religion, it seems like nothing they say can convince me otherwise (untrue, but they don't know that), and I write blogs entries that -- despite the logic, research, and reasoning I attempt to use as their foundation -- essentially amount to me making fun of religious people for being dumb. Basically, I'm an arrogant, angry, stubborn atheist hellbent on trying to make it hard for people to practice their respective religions in peace.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Christians Really Believe?

Something that always has bothered me about Christians is that they say they believe in The Bible, but then their actions contradict that assertion time and again. A column over at the Huffington Post recently addressed just this issue, so I figured it was high time that I addressed it here, as well.

Then Why Don't You Kill Yourself?

As a lead-in to this topic, I give you a video clip wherein Bill Maher backed a Christian (actually, a Jew for Jesus) into a corner in his excellent documentary Religulous:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Do Human Morals Come From Religion?

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human ValuesTo a depressingly large number of Christians, atheists are depressed, angry, amoral people. I'll handle the first two at a later point in time (although, geeze, all of the atheists I know are super happy, and the Christians tend to be more depressed), but in this post I wanted to focus on morality. Morality is an especially timely subject considering the imminent release of Sam Harris' new book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. (Set for release Oct. 5, 2010)

Two separate questions are brought up in religious debates regarding morality:
  1. Are religious people more moral than non-religious people?
  2. Does morality trace its roots to The Bible?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 'Science' of The Bible

Picking apart The Bible regarding factual errors, inconsistencies, and God-tolerated atrocities is so easy that it almost seems mean. Fortunately for you guys, I'm almost a mean person -- almost mean enough to write about all of the "science" God was cool enough to let us know about in his seminal work.

For starters, The Bible tells us that God created light on the first day (in his famous "Let there be light" moment). On the second and third days He dabbled in some other things rolling around in His head, and then on the fourth day He finally created the sun, stars, and moon. It's often held by scientists -- as well as the public in general -- that the sun and stars provide Earth's natural light. Not so, says The Bible; light just is, and the sun and stars are more decorative in nature. They're lights, sure, but they aren't the lights.

Also interesting is the fact that The Bible says God made the moon a "lesser light," even though the moon does not actually emit light but only reflects light from the sun. To call the moon a light is like calling a mirror a light. So, the obvious conclusion is that we've been wrong about mirrors.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Christians Aren't Christ-Like

There's no doubt that Jesus Christ -- whether he was a real man or not -- generally was a good role model. Even non-believers would find that notion hard to refute. Sure, he got weirdly pissed at a fig tree once for not bearing fruit out of season, but everyone loses their temper now and then. The fact is that he seemed to be a man of love and peace, and that's not a hard set of values to rally behind. So, Christians may have a point that getting your values from the example set by Jesus is a good thing.

Well, they'd have a point if they got their values from Jesus, but they most certainly do not. Jesus advocated plenty of concepts that no right-minded (pun intended) fundamentalist Christian ever would adhere to. Here are just a few samplings of the teachings of Jesus:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Native American Beliefs Turned Me to Atheism

There wasn't really one pivotal eureka moment that deconverted me from Christianity and made me an atheist. Mine was a slow deconvertion; it was a countless number of little hints that I received and subconscious logic being worked out in my brain. Then one day I realized that at some point I'd become an atheist without really thinking about it.

So, there was no KABLAMO! moment, but there certainly were a lot of little things along the way that chipped away at my outer Christian candy shell to the yummy chocolate atheism inside. One of those shell-chippers was when I learned about Native American beliefs early on in high school.

We were learning the origin stories of a bunch of Native American tribes in my English class. We were reading them as if they were fairy tales, of course. In the back of my mind -- and surely everyone else's minds in the room -- I was supremely amused that people actually used to believe this shit. A spider woman? Talking animals? Turtles that carry islands on their backs? I mean, everything about the stories was just ridiculous. They truly were indistinguishable from children's stories.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are Christian Missionaries Assholes?

I recently posted this fake exchange on the Atheist Apologist Facebook page:

Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?
Priest: No, not if you did not know.
Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?

I'd found the exchange within a list of quotes relating to atheism, and it sparked my memory of when I'd thought of this problem as a child. I was brought up in a loosely Christian family, and it occurred to me that there probably were a lot of people in the world who didn't know anything about God and Jesus. That fact made me a bit worried, because I wondered what would happen to all of them if they died before anyone had told them the "truth." As I grew older and learned about ancient civilizations, my worry grew. Here were entire civilizations that surely went to hell for believing in the wrong god or gods -- all because no one who knew better had been there to warn them.

I brought this up to a few adults, and I always got the same response: Of course God doesn't send people to hell who've never been told about Him or Jesus. It's the same with babies who die in infancy; they obviously didn't know about God or Jesus yet, but they still got into heaven because they never had the chance to know.

So, that comforted me for a time, and I became an atheist long before realizing the horrible implications of the above free pass from God, or before I realized that there isn't actually anything in The Bible that lays out such a free pass for those who haven't heard The Word.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Are Atheists Smarter Than Religious People?

Man, there's no way this can be a non-volatile question, but the fact is that data can very easily determine an objective answer. To save the easily bored people out there some time, here's the answer: Yes, atheists are by and large smarter than religious people. But obviously I can't just write that without proffering some evidence.

Studies Showing That Atheists Are Smarter Than Religious People

I want to start this section out with possibly my favorite graphical representation of data on this topic. Here's a compiled set of data from each U.S. state comparing the religiousness of the state's population to factors such as IQ, poverty, crime rates, generosity, and political ideology. (Green is "favorable," while red is "unfavorable," with "religiousness" and "conservatism" obviously being subjectively colored in this case.):

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Many Contradictions in The Bible

Ah, The Bible ...

Here we have the foundational book of one of the top three religions in the world -- a compilation of sacred writings that purports to lead people to the correct choices, choices it asserts have eternal ramifications. However, considering it claims to have so much import, it seems all the more concerning that it can't even agree with itself, internally.

For being the word of God -- or the word inspired by God ... or words having anything to do with an omnipotent, omniscient being for that matter -- The Bible does a pretty piss-poor job avoiding blatant contradictions. These contradictions can be mundane, they can relate to major plot points, and they can even crop up among the guidelines for salvation itself -- the most important thing in a believer's life (and eternal afterlife, for that matter).

Frankly, if I were a Christian this would scare me shitless.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Was Jesus a Real Man?

Was Jesus a real man? And no, I don't mean did he eat meat, do one-handed push-ups, watch football, and drink beer. I mean did he even exist in the first place? Obviously any Christian you ask will say "Yes" (and rightly wonder why you'd even waste time asking them). However, what might surprise you is the huge percentage of non-Christians who believe he was a real man, as well.

If so many non-Christians (including atheists) believe in a historical Jesus, there has to be something to it, right? As it turns out, not really at all.

Hearsay and Bias

One of the basic logical elements of our legal system here in the U.S. is that hearsay is inadmissible as evidence. If a witness on the stand said, "My friend told me that this guy committed the murder," how far do you think that would get the prosecution's case? So, we obviously only should consider what's told to us by people who were actually there -- eyewitness accounts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do Paradoxes Disprove God?

It certainly isn’t hard to find a ton of God paradoxes out there, but do these paradoxes conclusively disprove the existence of God? Well, obviously Christians claim that no, they don’t -- and obviously I assert that they do.

The Christian Cop-Out

For Christians, it’s as simple as this: God is limitless and supernatural. There is no way for us to assess God based upon our logic, our physical senses, or our conception of reality. What seems to be a paradox to us is not in fact a paradox at all where God is concerned.

That is, of course, bullshit. It’s a cop-out. So you’re saying we can’t rule out God because understanding how or why God exists is beyond our capabilities? Then when we ask you how you know God exists, every example you give -- of course -- is based upon things that are within our capabilities to understand. So the same senses and mental powers you use to prove God you’re disallowing from disproving God.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm a Non-Stamp Collector

A few weeks back I found a treasure trove of videos by an atheist animator on YouTube. His screen name is NonStampCollector, which is a subtle jab at the weirdness of a term like atheist. The argument goes something like this: You don't label someone by hobbies they don't have -- like a non-stamp collector -- so why label someone by religions they don't have? So, I suppose I shouldn't call him an atheist.

I also use the term "animator" loosely, as his videos use stick figures, and they only move like one frame every few seconds. It's minimalism at its best, and the voice acting is actually pretty good for the most part. But easily the best thing about the videos is the way he expresses his points. He's funny, he's blunt, and he gives excellent examples of some of the absurdities of religion viewed from different but analogous perspectives.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

'But I Don't Take The Bible Literally ... '

The Bible seems like a logical starting point for any debate against the validity of Christianity. If you're a devout Christian, then this holy book that represents the basis of your religion should be defended as if your religion depended upon it (mostly because it does).

However, I've been running into a weird counter-argument more and more often lately. When I point out the absurdities, inconsistencies, logical errors, appalling acts, or childishness within The Bible as a means to argue against the Christian religion, it has become common for me to hear this comeback: "Well, I don't take The Bible literally. I mean, come on ... "

To which I reply, "Umm ...wha?"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Was the United States Founded as a Christian Nation?

Many people in the United States have the misconception that our country was founded as a Christian nation. Even the Nobel Prize-winning scholar Sarah Palin fell for it:

[Video only shows up only after the jump for some reason]

The assertion that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation is demonstrably very untrue -- in fact, the truth is actually much the opposite. The country was founded based on 1) Religious freedom of citizens regardless of what they believe and 2) Separation of religion and government.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Does Prayer Work? Then Why Won't God Heal Amputees?

One of the most eye-opening websites I've ever been to asks a simple question: Why won't God heal amputees? The site bills the query as "The most important question that we can ask about God." I think that claim is a bit hyperbolic. Nevertheless, the question -- which on its face seems silly -- is actually an incredibly succinct way to get people thinking critically about the claims of religion.

To understand why the question is important, you first need to know certain claims from The Bible:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Was Jesus Perfect?

I saw an interesting bumper sticker today at the gym. It said, "You think you're perfect? Try walking on water." The implication, of course, is that no matter how perfect you are, you're not as perfect as the absolutely perfect Jesus Christ, so stay humble and try your damndest to model your life after our Lord and savior.

That got me thinking about how perfect Jesus was according to The Bible. If you ask Christians whether Jesus was perfect, the vast majority of them would agree that he was without hesitation -- but are they right? Unfortunately for the car's owner, the creator of the bumper sticker, and most Christians, the answer clearly is "No."

But hey, don't take my word for it. Take the holy, inspired word of God for it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Abridged, Reworded Story of Jesus

I have definitely tried very hard over the past few years to research religion and know what I was talking about before being able to call myself an atheist with a straight face. However, I would hope that, as an atheist, I don't know The Bible as well as some of you Christians out there, so I appreciate any corrections you guys can make.

Without further ado, here are things that never made sense to me about the story of Jesus Christ:

Why Are You Here?

Before anything else, I need to clear up a misconception about my blog's name, Atheist Apologist. Apologist doesn't mean someone who apologizes ... I'm not apologizing for anything. The definition of apologist is "one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something." In theological debates, the defender of Christianity is often referred to as a Christian apologist. I've never heard of someone being called an atheist apologist, so I figured I'd start a trend. Plus, it's alliterative, so win/win!

Now, regarding the title of this first blog, no, I don't mean "Why are you here?" in the existential sense, although you can't be faulted for assuming that considering the nature of this blog. I'm asking why are you here at this blog? And why is this blog here? Why should you care about this blog if you're an atheist? Why should you read anything contained herein if you're a faithful Christian (or Muslim, or Hindu)?

Well, a good first step in any blog is to answer those kinds of questions. First off, I want to address religious readers (because I don't want to scare them off, as I'm hoping to prompt constructive debate in my comments section).

Atheist Apologist T-shirts from