Sunday, December 6, 2015

They always miss the point

When there's a problem so scary that our country's populace is afraid to leave home, we look to our leaders, the ones we elected/hired, to watch out for our safety. If you're seeking to BECOME one of those leaders in the very near future, then you need to let us know IMMEDIATELY what you plan to do to solve this problem. That if we put the well-being of our children and grandchildren in your hands someday soon, you will have a plan of action.

THIS is the point the religious right/conservatives so painfully missed when they cried foul after learning of their Republican presidential hopefuls getting lambasted for their social-media call for prayers for the San Bernardino victims.

These poor families and friends aren't reading Twitter feeds or Facebook posts. They are overwhelmed by grief and mourning. Anyone with common sense would know this, so if you're going to release a statement on social media about this tragedy, common sense would also dictate that these messages are for the rest of the country. And the rest of the country wants to know what you think the answer is, not that you want us to pray.

If I'm the type of person that prays when a tragedy strikes, then I don't need politicians, who only have their eyes on their poll numbers, reminding me to do so. On the flip side, if I'm the type of person who doesn't believe in prayer, I certainly don't need to hear from these candidates that prayer is all they have to offer in this time of crisis.

When a New York newspaper says, "God isn't fixing this," it CLEARLY isn't saying you shouldn't pray for these people (if that's your thing). You can pray to Thor, Apollo, Yahweh or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care, but if you somehow end up running my country, I would like to know you're going to address this issue with ACTUAL policies and do it in a timely manner. The Democratic leaders and candidates had no problem with this and none of what they said was rhetoric.

So, how many more people need to die before there's the call to action from the Republican side? Don't hold your breath. You'd have a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa's body than you would of finding a Republican who publicly wants to curb guns. No right-winger would ever dare come out for any type of gun control because they're deathly (and ironically) afraid of the NRA. Their comments were all-too-transparent and severely lacking.

You'll note I didn't result to name-calling here, because there is no need. The facts are clear for any rational person to see. And keep this in mind: As I wrote this, another shooting just happened in Michigan where a guy shot and killed a 7-year-old girl, put her mother in the hospital and then killed himself with a firearm.

Pray for them ... Or don't.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My thoughts on abortion

I can't really recall ever writing down my views on abortion, at least not in this blog. Many atheists are Pro Choice and I certainly side with this camp. That's not to say all atheists believe in abortion, or should I say the right to choose? Saying you believe in abortion sounds odd to me. But I'm sure there are plenty of atheists who think a woman should carry a baby to term regardless of beliefs or circumstances. I just don't happen to be one of them.

Pro Lifers tend to lean heavily on religion for their morals/beliefs/education so their default position is to believe a zygote or fetus is a baby, and a baby is a person and a person should be protected. But, scientifically speaking, a fetus isn't a baby, it's not a life. I can quote mountains of evidence that proves this fact, but this is a blog, not a thesis, so I'll just leave it at that.

Who am I, a man, to tell another woman what she should do with her body? Who am I to force ANY person to do something to their body? Who am I to force them to let something happen to their body?

Let's come at this from another direction. Would Pro Lifers want to pass a law requiring every citizen to donate spare organs when called upon? Their blood type and other bodily fluids could be categorized at birth and kept on record and the moment a need for an organ or specific type of blood comes up, they'll get a phone call. Sounds fair, right? Would they want to have one of their kidneys taken from their body without their consent? No? Why not? Oh, they don't like the idea of the government forcing them do something with their body they don't want to do? Don't like the risk required? Don't think someone else should be making their decisions?

Get the point? A woman puts her life on the line to have a baby. All sorts of complications can arise from child birth. It's also a huge financial strain. These are things I believe must be considered.

Some might say this isn't the same situation, that people choose to have sex knowing the consequences. I disagree with this uninformed and ignorant stance. First, not all pregnancies are a result of consensual sex. But mentioning rape and molestation is an easy rebuttal. Let's just ignore that for a second, even though it refutes the argument nicely. Broken condoms, failed IUDs and even botched vasectomies or tubal ligation can result in an obviously unwanted pregnancy. But again, I'll even let this argument slide.

The Pro Life stance seems to be: If you do something, you have no choice but to ride out the consequences, as in, you chose to have sex, and because a pregnancy was the result of your sexual congress, you must see this pregnancy to full term. Is that a fair enough assessment of their stance? That the pregnant woman has no choice to do anything about this, that she must have a baby in nine months?

Interesting. So, if someone chose to smoke cigarettes and it resulted in lung cancer, the smoker has no choice but to live with the cancer. You can't seek treatment for the cancer because you have to take responsibility for your actions and live with the consequences. Hey, you knew what could happen if you put carcinogenic materials in your body. It was your choice to smoke. Again, I'll ask, get the point?

Imagine Pro Choicers bombing chemo clinics. It's ludicrous.

I've actually pissed some people off, namely my family, when I posted a gut-wrenching story to my Facebook feed about a couple who aborted their pregnancy because they fetus would have been born with Down Syndrome. I posted the story because it was so sad that this couple tried for so long to have a child, using IVF to finally get pregnant only to get the news that the resulting baby would have Downs. Now, what pissed people off was their ignorance, not my intentions. They assumed I was saying all special-needs people would have been better off if they were aborted. I would in no way ever support that. It's such an abhorrent attitude to take, and I was thoroughly insulted that much of my family would even think I would feel that way.

And full disclosure, my nephew has cerebral palsy and it was my brother who took the most offense to my post. He also volunteers with a bunch of young boys who have Downs, so instead of talking it out with me to find out my true intentions, he just chose to unfriend me and not deal with it. Here is why I posted what I did. I believe in a woman's right to choose. In this couple's case, they had no other family to help with a special-needs child, they had exhausted their savings to try to have the child through surgeries and procedures so there would be no money to hire help and they just didn't have the resources to care for a child who would need life-long support as this was an older couple.

So there are always circumstances that could arise for abortion to make sense. Something like 90 percent of all pregnancies that would result in Downs are aborted for just such a reason. If you throw in other illnesses that would leave a child with a painful existence (Tay-Sachs comes to mind), then being forced to have that child is cruel and unusual punishment.

It all boils down to beliefs. Do you believe the "potential for life" is worth defending or do you believe a woman's actual life is worth defending? If it's the former, then where do you draw the line? Every male ejaculation could fall into the "potential" category, thus rendering masturbation to be a reckless murderous act. Silly, huh?

Me? I choose to defend a woman's life, and her choice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stop praising this pope (UPDATE)

Imagine what it's like to be in an abusive relationship. You're miserable, you've been told incessantly that you're worthless, that nothing you ever do is good enough. But you stay in this relationship for years because it's all you know and after a while you start to believe you deserve this, that this is just the way life is. Then, one day, you encounter someone who treats you differently and you immediately are drawn to this person because this relationship is so, well, different.

But you'll notice I never said "better." This person isn't treating you better, just different. Maybe this person beats you, but you believe it's because they love you so much that they express their love this way. This is where the phrase "lesser of two evils" likely got its origin. Both people are detrimental to you and your life, but because you were so oppressed for so long, you choose the new one in your life who feels like the lesser of two evils. These days, that phrase has unique meaning in the world of religion.

With his recent tour of the Eastern United States, Pope Francis has been ubiquitous on media outlets and I'm already tired of the hero hyperbole. Why do you think so many people feel this guy is a great man? Well, I already gave you the answer.

When someone as horrible as Pope Benedict (and every pope before him) is replaced, his successor can only be seen as an improvement. But if you put on your rational glasses, you'll see him for what he really is, a deceptive wolf is sheep's clothing.

People call him progressive, but if you dig deeper, you'll learn he's still spewing the same insulting, repulsive, archaic doctrines the Vatican and Catholic Church have pushed for centuries.

He still supports the rejection of gay marriage because he can't free himself from Old Testament thinking, believing in a "traditional" marriage/family. Don't be fooled by his words from Rio when he said, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" This doesn't mean he accepts and promotes the gay lifestyle; it means he's saying, "Feel free to bring your tithes to my church, gay people, because we need your money for our power and in the end god will judge you and send you to hell, not me."

Don't believe me? Here are his remarks just a few months later regarding gay adoption: “Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity."

Explaining further, he said, “It is often argued that a child would be better cared for by a same-sex couple rather than in an orphanage or an institution. Those two situations are not optimal. The problem is that the state does not do what it has to do."

Translation: Gay people should not be allowed to raise children, and governments that allow this aren't doing the "right" thing by passing legislation to stop this from happening. Does that sound progressive?

How about birth control? Certainly in the 21st century the Catholic Church could elect a leader who understands the importance of contraceptives, especially as it pertains to world health. But no, despite there being dozens of AIDS-ravaged countries that would benefit exponentially from having condoms, Pope "Frankie" is vehemently against safe sex. Again I ask, does that sound like someone who is progressive?

And don't get me started on his views regarding the transgender community. When someone compares trans persons to nuclear weapons because they would wreak havoc on the “natural order of creation," it's perfectly clear he is not progressive. To paraphrase the Who, "Meet the new bigot, same as the old bigot."

UPDATE: A couple of days after I published this, it surfaced that the pope met secretly with Kentucky bigot Kim Davis and he basically told her to keep up the good work. Any doubts about his true feelings toward gay people?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bigotry and religion

Bigotry is such an ugly side of people, especially when they hide behind their religion while practicing their hate. If you don't like my worldview by all means skip this post, but I'd like to offer a little perspective regarding Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who was deservedly thrown in jail today by a federal judge for ignoring court rulings and not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

She cited her religious beliefs for her defiance, stating marriage is between one man and one woman. While that subject is for another day (and believe me that's bigotry, too) let's imagine for a moment what could happen if people were allowed to follow their religious beliefs so rigidly as to not perform the duties for which they are hired.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Davis, I know you're bleeding to death but I'm a Jehovah's Witness nurse and I don't believe in blood transfusions so I can't help you. But I'll pray you stop bleeding and get better."

"You'd like to renew your driver's license, Mrs. Davis? I apologize but I'm a Saudi Arabian Muslim DMV worker and my religion forbids women from driving. It's against my beliefs to allow you to get your license."

Shall I go on?

"Your child is ill and dying of an easily treatable disease, Mrs. Davis? I only wish I could let you see the doctor. Like you I'm a Christian, except I belong to the Church of Christ and we forbid medical treatment of any kind, but I'd be happy to pray for your child's recovery."

And this last example is so ludicrous because why would someone get hired to do a job they aren't willing to do because of their beliefs? Oh, wait, isn't that what Kentucky did with this hypocrite, who was divorced three times and had children out of wedlock? Of course there is nothing wrong at all with being divorced or having children out of wedlock, but her religion doesn't accept it and neither does she now. How interesting. She is given a pass but she can't even comprehend basic empathy and equal rights when it comes to others. Makes me want to vomit.

You can put lipstick on a pig all you want, but in the end it's still ugly Mrs. Davis and her religious bigotry not doing her job and ignoring the Supreme Court. I'm glad she's in jail. As much as people want this country to be a Christian nation it's not, it never will be and no one is above the law.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thought crime translation

Every once in a while I'll think of something from the bible, a particular verse that is tied to some edict and try to relate it to other actions in life to see how it holds up for us.

What do I mean? I was thinking recently of Matthew 5:28 ... "But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

This is yet another example of thought crime, which is riddled throughout religion, especially Christianity. Of course it's directed at men because the entire bible was written with only men in mind, so I'll update it for the 21st century: Any married person who looks lustily at someone who isn't their spouse has already cheated on their betrothed.

Sound about right? And we all know adultery is one of the top 10 commandments (there are way more than 10 if you didn't know), and breaking one of these orders is tantamount to earning a one-way ticket to the eternal lake of fire.

So, like I mentioned earlier, this got me to thinking. If merely thinking something is equivalent to doing it, then (1) why not just do it since you're screwed anyway, and (2) does this logic (and I use that word very loosely here) pertain to the other commandments? For instance, someone gets very angry at another person and fantasizes about killing that person. Did he just commit murder? If he wishes he could tell his parents to go screw because they have mistreated him his whole life, has he stopped honoring his mother and father?

This is why thoughts can't be policed and the whole idea that some deity is listening to what we are thinking is just absolutely preposterous. It's also why we don't need the threat of eternal damnation to be good people. Our thoughts are our own and if we really believed what we thought could get us into trouble there would be a LOT more believers in confession or in jail.

Grow up, theists.

Friday, August 7, 2015

This guy scared me

Every once in a while on Omegle, I stumble across someone who scares the bejebus out of me. Last night was one of those times, so I just had to post this conversation. There are people out there who, when they have no idea about a given topic, merely make up whatever they think that topic is and that's good enough for them. I believe this guy fits into that camp quite nicely. There has yet to be an instrument invented that can measure the depths of delusion that this guy exuded. At first, I thought it was going to be promising, but it quickly eroded into a pit of ignorance. Here we go:

Him: Are you religious?
Me: Nope, Funny, huh?
Him: Funny?
Me: Well, it says I like religion, but it's ironic since I despise it.
Him: Oh! Ok, yea it is.
Me: U, religious?
Him: Idk I'm into a lot of different things
Me: Like?
Him: I'm kinda christian/pagan
Me: Aren't those conflicting ideologies?
Him: Christianity is rooted in paganism. The church pretty much jacked there shit and beliefs, and labeled pagan gods as demons so they could control people.
Me: Oh, I mostly agree.
Him: I have christian beliefs, like the existence of Jesus and God and apply His message of compassion to my life, but I don't practice my faith like Christians do.
I don't care for church, rituals/sacraments, or worship. I show my respect for him in other ways.
Me: By respecting others, right?
Him: Yes, all life. That's why I'm vegan. I try to respect living creatures. Sometimes easier said than done, especially people. Pretty much the things God has made, not the things humans made in his name.
Me: Let me ask u, do you believe in evolution? I have a very specific reason for asking.
Him: I think it's possible, but I personally don't. But I don't know.

I'll interject here for a minute. I was hoping he'd say he believed in evolution because I just wanted to chat about my concern with where we draw the line in our respect for life. Since we are related to all life, why is eating only vegetables any more moral or acceptable than eating cows? Vegetation can feel things; they are living things, we are related to them. But since he didn't believe in evolution I had to take this in a different direction.

Me: Ok, well that leads to other questions for me then. Were you taught evolution at all?
Him: I live in the south in US, so of course not, lol. I only know the little bit I've looked into myself. I understand the gist.
Me: Ok, so you understand the gist, but you don't believe it, why?
Him: I wasn't there.
Me: You weren't there? You weren't there for your conception, either, but it happened. You weren't there for the holocaust, but it happened. You weren't there when the technology was invented that led to Omegle, yet you are communicating with me.
Him: As in, I don't have first-hand experience watching our species evolve as mapped out in the theory.
Me: But you don't have first-hand experience in almost everything in your life's path.
Him: It just doesn't resonate with me.
Me: Hmmm... This is interesting. So, how old do you believe the human race is?
Him: I don't know.
Me: How can you say something like "it doesn't resonate" with you and then not have any idea how long humans have been on earth?
Him: Because I don't think about these things. All I know is I am here and I didn't ask to be, so I'm trying to find out what's behind my experiences that have lead me to believe in God.
Me: Ok, just answer me this, what do you think evolution is? You did some looking into it and you said you got the gist, so I'd like to know what the gist is for you.
Him: Humans evolved into a more rational, intelligent, less hairy species.
Me: What? Less hairy than what?
Him: Why are you interested in whether or not I believe in evolution?
Me: Well, my original reasoning was because you said you cherish all life, and so do I. But when you said you didn't believe in evolution, I had to pursue that line of questioning instead. If you believed in evolution I would have had a different question for you.
Him: What was the other question?
Me: Well, it's hard to ask it since you don't believe in the fact of evolution. You're not a creationist though, right? Or should I say young earth creationist?
Him: Creationist? Like if I believe life was create by God?
Me: Well, a YEC believes in a literal bible
Him: YEC?
Me: That the earth was made roughly 6K years ago. YEC = Young Earth Creationist
Him: Oh, well I don't know about all that. I think the earth is millions of years old.
Me: Cool. That's good. It's actually almost 5 billion years old, but at least you didn't say thousands. So what are those experiences you mentioned that led you to believe in a god?

Now this guy will make you laugh and cringe. Up until this point he was pretty harmless, but then he boarded the train to Delusion Junction and I just couldn't wait to read what he had to say next.

Him: Hauntings and other encounters with spirits. Some good some bad. It got me thinking that there's more out there.
Me: And what evidence do you have for these spirits? Just personal revelation?
Him: I saw them and heard them. So I started looking into it.
Me: Do you believe in other kinds of sightings, such as UFOs, are they legit?
Him: Yes, the universe is massive so I don't think it's far off to assume there's other life out there.
Me: Excellent. Can you tell me about these spirits? And why are these occurrences a sign of a god?
Him: Through the hauntings, I learned they fear Jesus, just the mention of his name makes them run. So those experiences strengthened my belief in God, among other things.
Me: Are you telling me you conversed with evil spirits and you physically saw them run at the mention of Jesus?
Him: Conversed no. I never carry on a conversation with them. And yes, they run.
Me: So they have a physical presence? If you didn't converse with them then how do you know it was a haunting? Did these spirits carry a sign? I'm a little confused.
Him: I knew is was a haunting because they came every night. They would say things to me, trying to get my attention but I'd ignore them. And I could see them watching me.
Me: Were you ever under the influence of any type of drug during any of these? Were you nearly asleep?
Him: No
Me: So they were talking to you and took a human form and you said "Jesus" and they ran?
Him: In human form no, demons and other evil spirits are low vibrational beings. They don't usually have the energy to appear in their true form. Plus some were once human, other never were. They look like a walking shadow. Have you ever heard of shadow people? A lot of people see and encounter them. But yes, they fear Jesus.
Me: This is fascinating. I just don't know what to say. Something such as evolution doesn't resonate with you but low vibrational beings that fear Jesus does. Incredible stuff right there. Where did you come up with that explanation?
Him: Well I believe my spirit is having a human experience. I'm not really concerned with scientific explanations as to why I'm here or how humans came to be. I want to know why am I having these experiences. There so much out there that's unexplained.
Me: I could talk to you forever. Unfortunately I have to get some sleep. It's killing me because this was a great conversation and I don't want it to end. I only wish you could embrace evolution/science the way you believe in woo.
Him: Neither have all the answers. Good night.

Some of the tripe this guy was typing was beyond hilarious. Less hairy species? Seriously? He never did say what he meant by that, even if it is obvious. Running spirits? Low vibrational beings? Jesus as an antidote? This guy had an extra helping of crazy and I'm so glad this conversation wasn't in person. I don't know if I would have been able to either keep a straight face or stop from slapping him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

From a fan of mine

In my last post, I mentioned an email exchange I had with a fan of my podcast. My co-host and I had a discussion on the show about the Pledge of Allegiance, how Americans should never expect foreigners to recite it in public settings and they really shouldn't be asking for it to be recited at all in international events.

This ticked off one of our listeners, so much so that he accused us of slamming theists all too often on our show, which isn't about atheism at all. His email basically pulled out a lot of the fallback responses from theists, like "If we are all just walking chunks of flesh then why should I believe anything you say?" etc. It was a crude email that was typical of uneducated theists only reciting what they had been fed in social media and on YouTube, as you'll see he referenced William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist and debater. I didn't keep that original email, but I did keep the rest of the correspondence we had.

You'll notice his replies are short and from the hip while mine are long and thought out. I won't fix his grammar and spelling. The first response is from me, and it comes after he said he appreciated our responses and that he would continue listening to the show.

ME: Thanks for sticking with us. I actually enjoy debating theists in my spare time and have watched just about every WLC debate out there. I have to admit he rubs me the wrong way, but I still listen to him. I think Sean Carroll did the best job of dismantling his Kalam, though I tire of philosophical arguments. I'm more of an evidence guy.

I thought about addressing your email in an entirely different way, discussing the fallacy claim, objective morality, etc., but I didn't want to turn you off any more than I may have already.

Again, thanks for sticking with us and if you want to discuss theism-atheism further I'm open to it as long as you don't let it keep you from listening to our show.

HIM: Hey buddy, thanks for the reply. Honestly, you would probably destroy me in a debate. It gets so complicated at times, I have to re-read, or re-listen about 10 times to fully understand the point! I personally think WLC is an excellent debater, he actually saved my faith! I especially liked his debate against Alex Rosenberg. I do enjoy studying philosophy of religion, as I find science doesn't always answer my questions. I thought WLC did well in the Carroll debate, especially since he is not a cosmologist. I listen to Hugh Ross for things concerning those matters. Are you convinced morality is subjective? I have to ask, do you "believe" in anything other than science? You know where I am going with this! Thanks for being so accessible, and keep up the great work on the podcast.

ME: The Carroll-WLC debate hit the nail on the head when it comes to refuting the Kalam because the KCA asks the wrong questions and Carroll proves that. It's a fine argument from the pre-Enlightenment era, but now it makes little sense. When WLC is shown his argument is false, he still continues with it, because he's merely a hired gun and is working on an outdated script. And you're correct, he isn't a cosmologist, so he should stick to what he knows. I have another argument that I believe refutes the KCA, but like I said, I despise philosophy. If you want to read my opinion on it I will gladly write it up for you. I enjoy doing this and spend a lot of time debating theists in forums.

To answer your question about science, we would first have to agree on a definition for belief. If you mean do I believe unconditionally everything science has to offer? Of course not, because that flies entirely in the face of what the scientific method is all about. Science isn't my religion, but there is no better way on this planet to decipher what is true when it comes to the physical world. The scientific method ensures questions get answered and conspiracies are all but impossible. The mere fact that science is transparent and scientists live for being double-checked and found wrong is the reason to trust it.

As for morality, yes, I 100 percent believe it's subjective and, like the U.S. Constitution, it's like a living breathing thing and can change over time, as it of course has. Even if there were a god, and that god is your god, he/she/it would still have an opinion as to what is moral, making it subjective. We are a product of our times and environment, always have been, always will be.

Like I said before, I wouldn't want this to affect our relationship. I appreciate your candor and honesty and the fact that you like our show. But if you want to keep this up, I'm game. You asked me some questions so I guess I'll just ask you one: What is your worldview?

HIM: Thanks for the reply, you're very intelligent when it comes to these matters. However, for me there is a big problem with a naturalistic world view. If morality is subjective, and we are just evolved chimpanzees, then everything that comes out of your mouth, or is printed in a science book, or even science itself, is purely subjective! How can one say that torturing somebody for fun is only subjectively bad? At least you didn't say "science is the only truth," like so many others I talk to will say. The statement "science is the only truth" by itself proves that science is not the only truth! You are too intelligent to say that, which says a lot about you.

Also, if my God did exist, he would be a maximally great being. He would be the greatest conceivable "good." Therefore, "good" would be objective. In other words, God did not choose good because it is good, but good is only good if a maximally great being possesses that quality. To answer your question about my world view, I am an old earth creationist. I have learned a lot from William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, and Fazale Rana. I am sure I will learn something from you as well! This will not affect our relationship, I enjoy hearing about your world view.

ME: I'm so glad you responded and I must admit my response is quite long as I use some info from Wiki, responses from TTA forum members and Iron Chariots. Since you were the first to mention fallacies I assume you will be OK with me treating our correspondence as a debate and pointing out when you commit fallacies, etc.

Your first statement "If morality is subjective ..." has many problems. You said you were an old world creationist, but that still needs some clarifying. You could be a gap creationist (god created life instantly and recently), a progressive creationist (god allows for gene mutation and natural selection but intervenes at key points to guide the process to create humans) or a theism creationist (god of the bible created the universe and life through evolutionary processes.)

From the comment, I might guess you were a gap creationist because that statement about chimps means you might not understand what evolution really is. We are not evolved chimps. They are distant cousins to Homo sapiens on a geological timescale. Along the evolutionary tree we had a common ancestor, but we didn't come from chimps. I hope you don't ever make statements such as, "If we evolved from chimps then why are there still chimps?" because that is truly a gross ignorance that needs to be eradicated from this planet.

The topic of our discussion is objective morality. Based on this, your statement commits a few fallacies, including the evolutionary one I pointed out already. The examples you give are non sequiturs (another fallacy) in that they have little or nothing to do with the topic. Casual conversations are hardly subjected to such scrutiny as to be deemed important enough to be judged objectively by an all-powerful being. Same with textbooks, etc. These examples serve as a red herring in that you are avoiding the subject by invoking false dichotomies.

It's not that I disagree with the "subjective" portion of the statement, it's that it serves little purpose when trying to get to the heart of the matter, which is objective morality. What I say, think or do is purely subjective, yes. I am the subject, I am performing these acts or having these thoughts, hence they dictate their subjectiveness. It has nothing to do with determining if there is objective morality, so the examples are pointless.

Now, let's get to it. You brought up the example of torturing for fun and ask how it could only be subjectively bad. Torture is by definition unlawful abuse and/or creation of mental anguish. So any agreement is merely that people within a society should obey the rules of society. (Saying it is for fun is a nice touch but has little bearing on the degree of the act.)

For the argument to have any validity, all societies would have to agree on which types of mistreatment constitute torture, but even a cursory review of human history shows this is not the case. Violent interrogation, which one might think would be universally reviled, was perfectly acceptable to the Romans and Spartans (hell, even police/government agencies still do it).

Let's step it up to murder just for fun. Human sacrifice has been practiced by cultures around the world, as have judicial executions. The slaughter of civilians in war was widely accepted until fairly modern times. Some cultures did not consider it murder to kill people from other nations. At one point, samurai had wide latitude to kill peasants over the slightest discourtesy. Unless there is at least one type of killing that is universally considered to be murder, it cannot be argued that all societies agree that murder is wrong in any meaningful sense. This is the same for torture.

So to say these atrocities are objectively bad wouldn't quite be correct. I also think you may be confusing objective truth with objective morality. Again, let's go back to your statement. What comes out of my mouth or is printed on the pages of a science textbook could very well be objective truths, but it doesn't need an omnibenevolent deity to validate it. Those have nothing to do with morality.

You can certainly use objective tools to find out whether an action is morally good or bad, but the parameters you have to set up before doing so remain a subjective choice. One person may choose human suffering/human happiness as a parameter for determining morality, another person may choose his own well-being as a parameter and a third person may choose a religious scripture as his parameter. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

All fields of science have to make certain subjective assumptions to pursue objective truths. You need to subjectively value logic, reason, evidence before you can accurately gauge and measure objective truths. If you require that a science of morality to be 100 percent objective, then you're requiring it be self-justifying in a way no science can.

To quote Sam Harris in a debate he had with WLC: "If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?"

Your statements about "your" god commit two fallacies: special pleading and wishful thinking. While it's fantastic to be able to recognize the god you want, you are merely creating the being that best fits your worldview, a god you hope exists. No objective source of morality has ever been confirmed, nor have any "a priori" proofs been offered to the effect that morality is anything other than subjective. The moral principles theists claim to be "objective" usually coincide very well with what they feel subjectively to be true. The fact that you give this god the qualifier that he's maximally great means nothing and can't be proved. Why couldn't this god be maximally bad? And even if he did exist and was good, saying that he is the definition of good doesn't make it objective. If we as humans have to be told what is good then god is defining it for us, making it subjective.

Here is where it gets tricky and your worldview is important: Humans have been around in our current form for at least 100K years (it's closer to 200K but for the purposes of this discussion 100K will do nicely). I can produce mountains of evidence that proves this if you doubt it. We can easily show humans lived long before religion, before your god finally presented himself to us some 6K (or 2K) years ago. Did humans have objective morals then? How did we survive as a race if we didn't have a bible or personal revelation of god to keep us from torturing for fun and murdering for no reason? Why didn't we just die out from everyone committing every repulsive atrocity possible? Was god screwing with our free will and keeping us alive by squashing our urge to kill each other? That can't be, right?

Or maybe something a little more logical happened, you know, Occam's Razor and all. Maybe we formed tribes and packs, and realized it was much easier to survive when we worked together. Maybe we developed empathy through experience and protected each other from those individuals who didn't have the same moral compass as society. Then over the years we continued to learn and developed the Golden Rule, which means don't do something to someone you wouldn't want done to you. By the way, Confucius used the Golden Rule centuries before Christianity even existed so it's not a Christian concept. Also, we have witnessed empathy and morals in the animal kingdom countless times in countless acts. I can prove this, too. Where did they get their morals? God?

I have studied this from all angles and I didn't take my deconversion lightly. I can debate everything from philosophy to the bible, I can give my take on Christianity, Judaism, Islam and even Hinduism. I can discuss the historicity of Jesus, the irreconcilables of the gospels, the problems with the Old Testament, the problems with the New Testament, the contradictions riddled throughout the bible and I can hold my own with science.

I very much enjoyed this and hope I didn't turn you off. I'm pretty passionate about it and eagerly await your response. If there are other topics you'd like to discuss, I am all for it.

HIM: I appreciate your thorough response. To be honest, you're just way to advanced for me to have a proper debate with. At least I am man enough to admit it. You're very intelligent! Not making excuses, but I guess I kind of am, with a full time job, a wife and two kids, and trying to start up an early 60's surf rock band, I just don't have time to commit my life to studying all these things right now. I will say, William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, and Fuzale Rana do address everything that you have brought up. I have been thinking, why don't you send in either your rebuttal to the Kalam, or a write up about objective/subjective morality to William Lane Craig? I am serious, you are so advanced, I think he will take one of your questions as one of his "questions of the week." I have enjoyed our conversation, and hope I havn't let you down. Please do keep in touch with me, as I think you are very kind and respectful to other people with different world views. Take care!

At this point I think he is waving the white flag and he is actually asking to stay in touch. So I just try to end it quickly.

ME: Nah, his rebuttals aren't rebuttals. But that's cool. Just glad we are cool with each other. Thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you're sticking around. If you change your mind or have questions let me know in your free time.

HIM: Yes, they are rebuttals. There is a reason why he wins every single debate that he is involved in. Dawkins is too chicken **** to debate him, most atheist agree Harris lost by a mile, Carroll was shown why none of his lame, outdated models would work, the panel voted 4-2 in favor of Craig when he debated Rosenberg, and the Atheist Wire newspaper said "Hitchens got spanked." Are you sure the reason why you don't want to send in your thesis isn't because he could easily refute it? If Atheism is so obviously true, why does WLC keep winning these debates?! Deep down you know he shows that theism is true, but you just choose to ignore that fact. Anyway, I will definitely continue to listen to the podcast, keep up the good work!

I found it very telling how one line in my brief response got him to start to show his true feelings and unleash a little vitriol.

ME: I knew you'd be back! He won all of the debates? Hmmm. Anyone who thinks Sam Harris lost his debate to WLC must be Craig's mother or have his same last name. It was the most embarrassing one-sided affair I've ever watched and I've seen a lot of them. Not sure where you're getting your info.

And exactly who told you he won the Carroll debate, theist bloggers and Christian websites? Did you watch the debate?

Of course both sides would declare victory, just like political debates when each side spins it their way in the moratorium. But Carroll didn't try to win the debate, he even said that, he just completely dismantled the antiquated KCA. Anyone who actually followed the debate and listened to what Carroll said would know he said models don't have to be perfect, they only have to be possible. It's a moot point to say they don't work.

Your rhetoric about what I feel "deep down" was comical at best and I'll let it slide. I'm an evidence guy, just like in poker. If the story doesn't add up, I'm calling your bluff. WLC's story doesn't add up in the 21st century. And neither does yours here. You played that weak card a little too early. Do you think if I really believed the Christian god existed that I would piss him off like this? LOL! And if, as you admitted, you're not equipped to debate me on your own about such issues, how do you know WLC has won anything? Because you're being told he won? Kinda like being told what to believe by the church? Hmm.

BTW:  Dawkins hates debates, but when he does agree to one he wants to be debated by legitimate clergy, not a hired gun throwing around science terms he really doesn't understand.

I have a real problem with WLC but I won't get into that here. My disdain for him came WAY after I saw the debates, so this attitude I have toward him didn't affect my objectivity when I was searching for the truth years ago. I listened wholeheartedly to him when I was at a crossroads and he just didn't do it for me.

Are we having fun yet?

Tell me, have you read the bible cover to cover? And you said WLC restored your faith. Why did you lose it in the first place, and are your beliefs solid now because of his debates alone?

HIM: Answer this question honestly, and think before you answer. Would you personally debate WLC? Also, I am not dumb enough to say if we came from monkeys why are they still here. It does not matter if one type of murder is universally accepted or considered wrong, that doesn't change the fact that it is objectively wrong to murder somebody (we're not talking self defense here). It doesn't matter if all societies agree upon one type of torture, it's still objectively wrong. What society says about it has nothing to do with it, you atheist don't seem to grasp that point. Are you familiar with special pleading? You are guilty of it, sir. Since everything is subjective, and we are all just walking chunks of matter, why do you stand up for same sex marriage? You shouldn't care about it! I know what you will say, but really you shouldn't care, even if it "infringes on your rights." Atheist are very closed minded. I need to get back to work, have a great day!

ME: Ever notice WLC ALWAYS goes first in a debate? Why do you think that is? It's because he insists on it, including many other stipulations like a favorable location, time constraints, etc. Why? Because he then uses a tactic on the level of a high school debate team by altering the topic of the debate to something he can manipulate, forcing his opponent to do one of two things: spend his 10 minutes refuting the BS that WLC just pulled, thus surrendering his 10 minutes and playing defense for the rest of the night, or he can go ahead with his prepared 10 minutes that actually addresses the subject, and then will be subjected to WLC's underhanded cries of foul, accusing his opponent of not addressing the points he brought up, and declaring his victory. It's something that ignorant audiences and inexperienced debaters fall for and is why so many theists believe this guy wins. It's manipulative and unprofessional at best.

You have not proved at all that murder or torture is objectively wrong, you are just more and more guilty of fallacies, namely an appeal to emotion and an argument from adverse consequences. Everything related to behavior and morality is subjective and no one has ever made an argument that refutes this point without trying to insert a god they can't prove exists. And even if your god did exist, like we've discussed, this god would need to be defined so I can dismantle him for you as well. You never answered my question about the bible, btw.

Your points about special pleading and same sex marriage completely miss the mark. Please point out how I am guilty of special pleading by insisting we are all responsible for our own actions and don't answer to a made-up deity. And you never state why I shouldn't care. I know why we should care, but you never state why. Please complete at least one thought in your responses.

Your strawman fallacies are beginning to show as well, lumping all atheists into your narrow view of them and then knocking them down. Empathy is one of the most valuable attributes we have as a race and those who can't recognize that are the truly close-minded. No special pleading there.

While I appreciate how busy you might be at work, I notice you cherry-pick only that which you are comfortable answering. Why is that? Many followers of Christianity choose to cherry-pick the bible and its tenants so this behavior isn't surprising.

Hope work is going well.

HIM: You never answered my question about debating WLC. I think I know why, it's because you would get your ass kicked in a debate against him. You are making all atheist look bad with your weak arguments. Anyway, I apologize for being rude, I am not normally like that. I think you guys do a fine job and do so in a professional manner. I will recommend all of my friends to listen to your podcast. I am not at all being sarcastic. Good luck to you, and have a great day.

At this point I replied to him and sent it off, only to find out he had eliminated his email address. He really didn't like me tearing apart his hero and it got to him just when I thought the exchange was going to end. He didn't answer quite a few questions I posed to him and I'm not sure if that's because he just didn't have time, he was upset by what I had said or that he just didn't want to have to think about those things. I see it all of the time when talking to theists who really haven't given any critical thinking to their worldview. Maybe he will reach out to me again someday, with a different email address I'm sure.