Posted by: NotAScientist | November 30, 2009

Is it still okay to say “Merry Christmas”?

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(The following is a repost from 2008. Enjoy!)

YES! Yes! Of COURSE it’s okay to wish someone Merry Christmas!

This is the question I’ve started hearing from countless bloggers and news sources in the last week. Apparently, with the end to the campaign season, the American media has decided to bypass Thanksgiving and jump directly into Santa’s lap. (No, not in the naughty way, get your mind out of the gutter!)

A more important question is, “Who’s stopping you?”

If you’re a Christian, and statistically many of you are, please answer that question for me. Is anyone preventing you from saying Merry Christmas? Is anyone yelling at you or getting angry at you for wishing them Merry Christmas? I’m not.

Not only will I be completely fine if you were to wish me a Merry Christmas, I might even wish you one back. I might also say Happy Holidays, or Happy New Year, or perhaps even an occasional “Joyous Festivus!” just to be funny. But you can keep on saying Merry Christmas to your heart’s content.

Because the issue, at least as it seems to me, is not that people are being prevented from saying Merry Christmas. It’s the fact that some people, some businesses and some organizations aren’t saying it of their own volition that get people angry. Which strikes me as the key to many issues when dealing with religious people.

It isn’t that your rights, even your right to say two simple words, are being taken away. It’s that you want to force everyone else to do what you’ve chosen.

I’m sorry, but in America that just isn’t going to cut it.

Happy Holidays.

Posted by: NotAScientist | October 16, 2009

Neil Degrasse Tyson is ignorant!

Luckily, he happens to know just how ignorant he is. If only everyone else could come to that wisdom!

Let him demonstrate how ignorant the human animal is while he talks about UFOs and the argument from ignorance:

Posted by: NotAScientist | September 25, 2009

Carl Sagan lays down some tunes…

Featuring Stephen Hawking.

It’s just Auto Tune, but it’s beautiful.

The sky calls to us.

If we do not destroy ourselves

We will one day

Venture to the stars.

Posted by: NotAScientist | August 22, 2009

What if Satan Wrote the Bible?

Thesatanpit01

How could you tell the difference?

Despite common misconceptions, as an atheist I don’t worship the Satan. (Thankfully that misconception is getting less and less common.) So when I ask the question “What if Satan wrote the Bible?”, I’m asking purely for the purpose of understanding the thoughts of believers.

I’m often told by Christians of certain stripes that they know God is good because the Bible says so. And thus, all the things he says in the Bible are good, regardless of how morally reprehensible they may seem to a secular humanist like me.

But if the Bible is all your evidence for God’s goodness, what’s to have stopped some powerful evil being from penning it and calling himself good? It certainly seems to match up with some of the Hebrew scriptures’ more wrathful picture of their deity. Not to mention a few of the more heinous teachings in the New Testament. (I’m looking at you, Paul and Revelation!)

Which brings up another group of believers: those who say it is through private revelation or their own feelings that they know that God is good.

But again, what is to stop a sufficiently powerful evil being from convincing you that it is a good deity? I’m sure many believers think this is in fact the truth about other believers. But how do you know it isn’t true for yourself?

Aren’t you relying on your own feelings and opinions about what is good to determine that God is good and Satan is evil?

And if that’s true, and you have at least somewhat reliable feelings and opinions about good and evil, what’s the need for a god or a holy book to tell you those things?

Think about it.

Of course, with my luck, I’ll have accidentally converted a believer to Satanism with this little thought experiment.

Posted by: NotAScientist | August 4, 2009

Which Christianity is True?

Ever wonder why there are so many denominations of Christianity?

ChristianBrushes-CrossesAccording to a quick Google search, there appears to be over 38,000 different Christian denominations. Most, I would imagine, differ along doctrinal grounds. They also differ based on race, ethnicity and language. But there is one thing they all have in common. Can you guess what that is?

If you guessed the divinity of Jesus, you’d be wrong! Sorry, close but not quite.

In fact, the simple factor that all denominations have in common is that they all believe themselves to be the true Christianity.

Now to be honest, this is a bit of a red herring. I certainly don’t begrudge people or groups of people believing themselves to be right. I would venture to say that everyone believes they are right, or else why would they believe what they believe?

When dealing with something as nebulous as Christianity it can start to get confusing. What justification do members of denomination A have for their beliefs? Are those justifications any better than those of the members of denominations B and C?

I make no claim of expertise in Christianity. But in my limited experience the only justifications I’ve come across have been particular Bible verses.  And when dealing with the Big Book of Multiple Choice (aka, The Bible) things get confusing really fast.

The Old Testament says to handle snakes, so one denomination does that. The New Testament says that we shouldn’t listen to the Old Testament, so another denomination thinks the snake handlers are crazy. Another denomination points out that Jesus said not a jot or tittle of the law would be changed, and so says homosexuals shouldn’t be tolerated. And yet another says that Jesus never says anything about homosexuals one way or the other, and so ignores Paul and the Old Testament.

Confusing, no?

I’ve found myself involved in quite a lot of arguments and debates about ‘true Christianity’ as of late. And those debates are entertaining. But ultimately they’re pointless.

Why?

It doesn’t matter which Christianity is true. Not to me. Not to an atheist.

Because whether or not one group of people has stumbled upon the exact intentions of the founders of Christianity is secondary to whether or not the supernatural claims made by the religion is true.

By all means though, keep debating. What the majority of Christians believe their religion to mean does matter in that it effects how our society will progress…or regress. But it doesn’t matter a bit to the nature of the real world.

Posted by: NotAScientist | July 27, 2009

Atheist Beats Cancer

I’m back!

I realized while looking at my last post that, given the fact I haven’t written in so long, some of you may be under the impression that I died.

I’ll have to disappoint you. I’m back. And cancer free. I received a huge scar, but as I no longer have renal cell carcinoma I’ll take that deal. And now that I’ve returned, I’ll get back to blogging.

But until then, enjoy my post-op video from last month.

Posted by: NotAScientist | June 4, 2009

Fearless Atheism

I didn’t stop fearing death until I became an atheist.
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That sounds like an infinitely braver statement than it actually it. I have no intention of becoming a daredevil, risking my life by performing death-defying stunts. And there are many things around death that fear me. I fear pain, disfigurement, disability and any pain (emotional otherwise) I might cause to my family or friends.

But death itself? Not so much.

Why have I been thinking about this? Well, I’ll be going under the knife in a little under a week. It’s not a very dangerous surgery, but any procedure carries with it a certain amount of risk. So naturally death is on my mind a bit.

But death lost it’s power to terrify me when I realized that it was nothing. There are no demons and devil-spawn waiting to torture me in an eternal hell. There is not eternal paradise. There is no ultimate transcendence to a higher being, another planet, or reincarnation.

When I die (which hopefully won’t be happening next week) my body and brain will stop functioning and I will cease to exist in any meaningful way. Since I will be asleep under anesthesia, presumably dreamless, if I happen to die I will probably not even realize it. My mind will shut down and I will slip into nothingness, as hard as it is to wrap my still-thinking mind around such a concept.

The other place I derive comfort is from the simple fact that there will be nothing I can do once the surgery is going on to change anything. I will be unconscious, and it is up to the surgeon and doctors and nurses to see me through. Much like when I board a plane, when I know that there’s nothing I can do if the plane starts to crash.

The Christians (particularly the Christian Alcoholics Annonymous) almost got it right.  You must achieve the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. No god can give you that serenity, particularly the kind that threatens to burn you for all time if you don’t believe in it.

I think I may have achieved that serenity.  But don’t get comfy, because I still plan on being back next week.

Posted by: NotAScientist | April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle will make you smile!

This really has nothing to do with my normal topics, but I couldn’t ignore it.

Susan Boyle is awesome. And this is one of the best videos I’ve seen in a long time.

Enjoy.

Posted by: NotAScientist | April 12, 2009

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

opt_zombie-jesusThe day has finally arrived.

Zombie Jesus has risen!

And he may, in fact, be coming for you…

But in case he misses you, be sure to get involved in your own wholesome zombie-related activities. I plan on eating the brains of some very delicious looking chocolate bunnies. Whatever you do, enjoy it, because tomorrow the corpse goes back in the ground and there’s no more zombie fun for another year.

Posted by: NotAScientist | March 16, 2009

Is Jesus a zombie?

It is quite common in the online atheist community, and possibly even in the liberal-Christian one, to refer to the god of Christianity as “Zombie Jesus”.

This name, besides being hilarious, is on the surface an incredibly apt and accurate way to describe the god that around 80% of Americans say they believe in. After all, the Jesus character is written to have died and returned from the dead, and is deeply linked in some circles with the eating of human flesh. What could be more ghoulish than that?

But rather than simply using the title “Zombie Jesus” like all those before me, I thought it would be prudent to actually research the issue.

Is the Jesus character a zombie? Or some other member of the living dead? A vampire or Frankenstein-like monster, perhaps? How can we tell?

Simple. We turn to the font of all zombie knowledge. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.

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A zombie, according to Mr. Brooks, is not a supernatural or magical creature. It is a human that has been infected with a virus that kills the body and mutates the brain into a new organ:

Once mutation is complete, this new organ reanimates the body into a form that bears little resemblance (physiologically speaking) to the original corpse. … This new organism is a zombie, a member of the living dead.

Alas, this criteria does not seem to apply to Jesus. According to the story, he was killed by Roman soldiers by being crucified. Presumably, he bled to death. No indication is given that he suffered a bite from another zombie, or was infected by the virus in any way.

Still, the biblical story holds that Jesus comes back from the dead.

So let’s look further.

Another aspect of the zombie is that it eats the flesh of humans. There are certainly no writings that indicate any of the apostles were eaten upon Jesus’ return. And yet, Catholic and some Protestant traditions hold that Christians are supposed to eat the flesh of their god.

Could this be a form of zombie eating? Not according to Max Brooks.

Humans have been infected by brushing their open wounds against those of a zombie or by being splattered by its remains after an explosion. Ingestion of infected flesh (provided the person has no open mouth sores), however, results in permanent death rather than infection. Infected flesh has proven to be highly toxic.

The fact that there are not whole masses of Catholic dying due to infected zombie flesh seems to suggest, at least, that Jesus’ zombification may be exaggerated.

Still, one is always served by keeping vigilant. Christians will often speak about Jesus returning once more. If this is the case, we best be on our guard.

Jesus may not be a zombie. But if he is, don’t make the same mistake that the Romans made. Crucifixions don’t work.

You can only stop a Jesus by destroying its brains.

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