Monday, 29 June 2009

Finding God - Channel 4

Been far too long between posts recently. The pressures of teaching in the last term of Junior school. :-)

But I have watched a fascinating program on Channel 4 about religion and the effect on society. Link here.

Basically, it was about the success of the Alpha course and there were some interesting statistics. Apparently 1 in 8 people convert as a result of the Alpha course and since I have met several of these converts it was interesting to see what methods were used tjavascript:void(0)o convince them.

To its credit, it doesn't use strong arm tactics. Unless you count the 'feeling guilty' method of saying 'No thanks' to genuinely nice people. But there is still the common themes of 'You could be so much happier' or 'You are a sinner' or 'This is the REAL truth.' Not to the levels of catholicism or baptist churches, but in a more... 'nice' way.

The use of a quiet room to make suggestions to the groups, 'sincere' young people (usually female), the pamphlets produced to help the speakers (almost a script), going to an extremely well organised weekend away, questioning people's unhappiness and offering the 'solution' - I am deeply suspicious of these psychological appoaches to converting someone.

Alpha converts seem to have the same profile:
> An unwillingness to even entertain the idea they could be 'unconverted'.
> Total acceptance of scriptures as proof. (Despite contradictions, errors, fantasy, stolen myths, acts of genocide, racism and intolerance.)
> Dismissal of verified and researched scientific data - Sometimes even gross misconceptions about the scientific principles. (eg Evolution, Earth dating, Fossils, Flood myths, Astronomy, Quantum theory etc)
> They are usually, despite all the above, amiable, pleasant people!

I'm pretty convinced that the Alpha course could not convert me. It would be pompous to say that they never could - I am open minded and would be more than willing to accept a god that I thought was worthy of my praise.
For a start, I am happy with myself. I consider myself lucky in that respect. There are too many people who have low self esteem and christians are openly there to offer 'advice' and 'hope'. It was even suggested to me that atheists are too 'smug and self absorbed' to offer others advice. A pathetic statement that I had dismissed with disdain - there are after all, thousands of hardworking volunteers, groups, practitioners that offer help - the majority with no religious affiliation.
Secondly, I have researched both sides of the argument - and I have not come across a single reason for me needing a god, a moral reason to have a god, a spiritual 'hole' to fill and lastly (and it is the least important in my opinion) no scientific evidence for a god.

Oh yeah, and the 'speaking in tongues' was downright hilarious!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Those damn, happy atheists!!! Curse them!

I'm seriously getting fed up with religions claiming they have ownership of morality. Apparently, they have 'true' rules to live by since they were given by a supreme, perfect being.


Some religions like to soften up the 'rules' by saying they are 'guidance' and of course you are free to to choose your path. Some religions take it to an extreme and use it as a blunt instrument to control or persecute people - quite often, their own believers!

Either way, eventually, if you don't follow the rules, you don't go to heaven - which means you go elsewhere. Nasty.

Nice way to live your life. Trying to follow the rules of a perfect being. Of course you CAN'T. Because YOU are not perfect. YOU will make errors of judgement. YOU are a deeply flawed individual. YOU have been corrupted by all the nasty little temptations in life. YOU may have even listened to ATHEISTS!!!

Us atheists eh? Look at us, living our lives without worrying about whether we might upset god(tm). Using our OWN moral judgements, considering what effect it will have on others around us, ENJOYING life, freethinking, gasping with wonder at the universe - the chaos - the very LIFE! Hey, we don't even have 'self worth' issues about having a common ape-like ancestor - we revel in the fact that all life is linked. We don't need fairy tales to help us understand the 'difficult' science.

But if you are a believer in whatever plethora of gods that really most likely don't exist, don't worry about it.


Those damn, happy atheists will not be laughing when YOU prove them wrong. When you have lived a flawless life. Given up your gut instincts and followed someone else's moral code. Picked the ONE TRUE religion (or splinter group of that religion) out of the tens of thousands. Chosen how EXACTLY how to interpret the holy book and know which phrases did not really apply and reinterpret some phrases so they are more convenient for you.

You KNOW there is a true god(tm). So you simply can't be wrong...

Personally, I'll remain a damned, happy atheist, than you very much. :-)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Yep, still alive. No devils.

So I'm still alive. No devils, dreams or draughts.

My boiler stopped producing hot water for a while though...
WITCHCRAFT!!! (Obviously)

Maybe I should try winding up some of the more obscure religions?
Odinism is gaining popularity.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

I'm a bit of a boardgame geek...

I love a good boardgame. The challenge, the interaction - you don't get the same 'feel' from a computer game (and I love playing computer games). I'm talking about games like Agricola, Puerto Rico, Small World, Carcassonne and Munchkin and many more (at least another 50!)
I have the idea for designing a game based on religion. Well, why not? I know quite a bit about it. :-)

The premise being you have to create a religion and persuade as many social groups as you can to follow your ideals. You have the choice of being nasty or nice, use wealth or corruption and even brainwashing. Get enough followers and you can dump them to gain new followers that will be more effective in spreading the 'truth'.

Add a heavy dose of sarcasm, sprinkle it with irony and roast in the fiery pits of hell and I'm hoping to create a fun filled family game of humour and megalomania.

L Ron Humbug, I owe you a 'thanks' in the credits!

If I get a prototype going, then I might need some play testers and feedback or ideas from the blogging community. (Remember - I want my boys to be able to play this game too! So lets avoid the kiddy fiddling priests... always best to, I find!)

I'll let you all know how it goes... :-)

Monday, 8 June 2009

Summoning demons...

OK, so as an atheist I have to look at differing opinions of the 'believer'. So lets have a look at satanism. And in particular - summoning demons! Yay!

I have been warned by many people over the years about studying, learning or even having a fleeting interest in anything considered remotely 'occult'. But it is fascinating. (That is EXACTLY the thing I should be worried about, apparently...) And they say the devil has all the best tunes - probably because 'christian-rock' is so utterly sh*t.

It has been suggested that atheists do the 'devil's work' with all our disbelief, and criticism and I'd thought I'd balance the situation.

If there is evidence of ghosts, spirits, demons, djinns, fauns, faeries etc. then the argument for an afterlife / heaven / higher plane of existence becomes a better probability. Interestingly, if you believe in a god, then by default you are expected to believe in the personification of evil. (As if the original idea wasn't silly enough. Talking snake! Tsk!)

The site I browsed was here. And I can't fail to be impressed with the excuses if you fail to summon a demon. But if you are looking for 'proof'

BTW - You can tell if a demon has visited by the following:
1) There might be a breeze.
2) You might get a 'feeling'.
3) A candle might flicker.
4) You might have a dream about a demon.

Oh yes. I am SO convinced. ( But then I did dream about pasta once which can only prove the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. )

There are some gullible idiots out there. But hey! If any satanists are reading this, please feel free to send me any demonic proof. Since, according to christians, I am going to be sent to your mythical retirement home, maybe even some kind of 'welcome pack' perhaps? Or even an imp or two? Maybe my shoelaces won't untie!!! Oh what devilry!

ps. In satanist's defence, the ONE I have knowingly met and talked to was quite a nice chap with strong moral beliefs that I would not have expected. He did have a bit of hero worship for Hitler - which failed to impress me but you seriously could not have picked him out of a crowd.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

When christians attack!!!

Is it just me or are christians getting a little more aggressive?

Not physically, but that would give a whole new meaning to 'bible thumping'! It's just that they seem quite ready to attack popular scientific ideas and ridicule scientific explanations.

I have (in my rational quest for proof) looked at many of these 'proofs' and found them to be embarrassingly poor and a waste of my time. Actually that's not true - I've had quite a few laughs!

Lets look at some of them...
4000 year old Earth
Carbon dating being wholly inaccurate (About 80% actually but still only one of many methods used)
Fossils on the tops of mountains. (Hey! I ACTUALLY saw these on Mount Snowdon!)*
Evolution errors (Ahem - misconceptions or more likely a p**s poor understanding of what evolution is.)
False fossils (So OBVIOUSLY hundreds of thousands of fossils MUST ALL BE FAKE!!!)
Half-evolved creatures (cow-frogs etc. LOL. Just. Too. Stupid.)
Dinosaurs existing with humans. (Jurassic park has A LOT to answer for!)

(These are just the scientific attempts that people have tried over the last two years... the philosophical 'proofs' have their own post.)

* I walked up Mt Snowdon (Tallest mountain in UK) with my family and we saw the fossils on the summit. 500 million years ago - that creature was alive! Now THAT is incredible. :-P 4000 years, my arse!

Scientific thinking has been at the forefront of trying to understand these things and offered plausible explanations to satisfy our curiosity. The fact that we are STILL looking at these concepts to refine our understanding and remove misconceptions is one of the greatest achievements of humankind.

So as church numbers continue to decline and organised religion is under scrutiny for the next case of fraud or sexual abuse, we seem to be getting to a hardcore of those who are ready to fight for their cause. And some willing to die for it too. Martyrs are held in high regard and, for many christians I have spoken to, seem to consider it the ultimate test of faith.

I find that worrying.

I have no problem with people questioning commonly held scientific ideas - science THRIVES on being challenged. But when people consider death as a martyr - death for a non-existent, mythological entity - death that they think will inspire others - and let's be honest, they think they will get a FAST PASS to sky pixie's magical kingdom - then I DO have a problem with it.


But on a darker, humorous note... go ahead. One less idiot out of the gene pool.

Rant over. Time for the theists to have their say...

>>Edit - Snowdon is the second highest. I was tired. Sorry Scotland.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Am I obsessed?

Ahhh. Week's holiday. Time to post my wisdom to the masses or just annoy people. (Your choice)

Am I obsessed about 'god'?

Now I've had this comment offered to me several times. That I think about 'god' so much, or I am obsessed about her. (Or 'him' - her seems more likely IMHO - although an 'it' would make a least illogical choice... but I am rambling...)

I posted this reply on my "Raising atheist kids?" post which I think sums up my opinion.

It's more about knocking the stupid things that religious people do. ;-) I can assure you I am not obsessed with a god (just as I am not obsessed with a variety of non-things) but quite possibly on how this belief in the supernatural affects people, laws, freedoms and human morality. (Both for good and for bad) I'm like a dog with a bone - it's too fascinating a subject to ignore. (Agnostics just simply annoy me!)

It's very easy to think that atheists are obsessed with god(s) since our public 'presented' image is simply that. "Your god is a silly idea!" and all that.

I personally find it refreshing to be morally sound without having to worry about WWJD? And I certainly don't have to think about 'What would a humanist do?' My actions are considered and based on whether they are safe/ harmful/ economic/ environmentally sound/ pleasurable/ selfish/ insulting/ kind etc.

Summary - I REALLY doubt I think about sky pixies more than a theist. And if I am - then there are some crap theists out there. ;-) LOL