What Mr. Smartypants said….

I often play on the Topix atheist forum, and today, I am reblogging words by Mr. Smartypants from Andover, MN:

Jehovah is presumably omniscient, so he knew at the beginning of time that Adam and Eve would fall prey to temptation, yet he put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden anyways. Also, if he knew ahead of time that they would eat the apple of knowledge, then how could Adam and Eve even have free will in the first place?

(Side note: the apple is representative of knowledge, and ‘Lucifer’ is Latin for ‘bearer of light’. Why is knowledge such a horrible sin in Judeo-Christianity? Is it because smart people realize that the Mighty Oz is nothing more than an image conjured up by the clergyman hiding behind the curtain?)

So, Jehovah banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden forever. Fair enough. However, he basically poisons every human after Adam and Eve with Original sin so that they’re born with one foot in hell the moment they’re born. It wouldn’t be so bad if every human born had signed a consent form, but nobody ever does–they have existence forced upon them.(On top of that, isn’t sin something YOU do of YOUR OWN volition? The idea that Original Sin can be transferred like a disease to non-consenting people seems like a oxymoron.)

On top of that, anybody who’s born with just Original Sin is automatically doomed to eternal torment in Hell, in spite of not asking to be born. Even if your particular denomination of Christianity doesn’t support Original Sin, that doesn’t mitigate things much anyways. He supposedly gave humans free will–not enough free will to cheat death or even levitate, just enough free will to damn yourself to eternal torment.

Jehovah has no sense of proportionality; if the only sin you ever do is steal a piece of penny-candy as a child, you go to the same Hell as Hitler and Stalin and suffer the same torment. On top of that, Jehovah gives no credit for good behavior; if you make up for stealing that piece of penny-candy by spending the rest of your life building hospitals for lepers and doing other good deeds, Jehovah ignores that and focuses only on the one bad thing you did.

And how does he mitigate the Hell which he created in the first place? By some absurd legal fiction in which he sends his kid, who is also himself, to Earth to die horribly on a cross. Talk about the ultimate whipping boy. That, like Original Sin, is based on the absurd idea that sin can be transferred like a disease or a legal contract. To make things worse, he allows billions of people to live their lives totally ignorant of Jesus so that they’re doomed from the moment they’re born. Worst of all, Jehovah knew at the beginning of time which souls would ultimately be doomed to Hell, yet he allowed them to be born in the first place.

Finally, Jehovah never bothered to clarify which of the thousands of denominations of Christianity was the right one, dooming further billions to Hell. Not only that, he sat by and did nothing while Christians were torturing millions to death for heresy and witchcraft, launching bloody Crusades, and committing mass murder against indigenous people.

I really wonder how any decent, ethical person could worship such a cosmic monster. If anybody ever deserves to suffer eternal torment, it’s the cosmic bastard Jehovah himself. It’s a good thing I’m an atheist/Freethinker; if I really thought that such an evil monster existed, I’d probably become a Satanist.

Intelligent, well-thought-out responses are invited, even from True Believers. If your only reply is to threaten damnation, I hereby condemn you to being an idiot…

A Skeptic’s Arguement For Free Will

I’ve been reading a book called 13 things that don’t make sense – baffling scientific mysteries – by Michael Brooks and one of the chapters is Free Will.

The evidence we have so far, leans towards no free will; that we are just brain machines.

One of the more compelling proof for no free will, is that if a person exposes various parts of your brain to an electro-magnetic field, your body parts will move – a hand, finger, leg, arm – the part dependent on the intensity and location of the current.

The person waving the device has control of your body, totally.

By using less current that would result in actual movement, subjects reported the urge to move some part of their body, and by increasing the power, the body part actually moves.

Other tests show brain activity 350 milliseconds in advance of actual movement.

So it appears that consciousness is a trick the brain plays on itself in order to avoid dealing with the cognitive dissonance of being self aware as an entity, but not self aware of brain functioning.

But the idea that we are brainbots, is disturbing, and it’s an aspect of consciousness to be unware of the brain’s importance to being exactly who and what we are. Especially when you consider that brain injuries cause major personality changes.

We reduce the brain to just another organ, and maintain the illusion that we are something else, something spiritual or energy matric that in inhabiting the body and brain, that somehoe the brain is what connects the pure spirit self with the physical meatbag body, that the brain is both the operating system of the body, and what connects the matter body with the energy self.

Our bodies become the mechanical devices that transports our brains to where there’s food, shelter and other brains to interact with, because we don’t want to be just the clever animal or meatbag supporting the grey glob.

This cognitive dissonance of not wanting to be just a brainbot is likely why so many people cling to being godbots – that something higher makes us more than a brainbot animal, but imbues us with specialness.

It actually make sense then, that a group who is true believers in a deity that makes them special, with purpose and makes them not animals, could then view other people who don’t share the belief, to be as animals, so provide the justification for slavery and other atrocities against fellow, but to their godbot justified brains, less than human.

But, what does there not being free will really mean?

If we really aren’t in control of our decisions/choices, and are just brainbots – then it’s not really possible to hold people accountable or responsible for their actions, since, they had no choice, given their personality program – which undermines our legal system for starters.

An uncomfortable thought, no one being accountable.

My Premise is that genetics determines a lot about us – not just physically but also personality. The debate of nature v nurture isn’t really which one, but rather, what’s the ratio of each side’s influence? Can it be altered over the course of a life, that is, will treating people different, result in their behaving differently?

The biological imperative of organisms is survival and reproduction.

So, if we are just brain support systems, it doesn’t make sense that we would be able to make decisions that would work against survival and reproduction opportunities

Yet, we do.

People who can rationalize extreme criminal acts are not working in their survival/reproductive interests, nor are suicides, childless by choice (rather than lack of opportunity) or sacrificing your life for a stranger’s.

Yet, these event occur regularly, some people even make it literally their jobs to put their lives at risk for other people’s lives or for maintaining social order.

There must be some portion of our behaviours and decisions that are randomly up to whatever we are individually; much like, while genetics drives your body development and appearance, fingerprints are not genetically driven – they are unique and random – even between the closest appearing of identical twins.

So, that we have fingerprints is genetically determined, but what those fingerprints end up looking like, there is no genetic code for, it’s random as far as we can tell.

So, genetics must give us our emotional range, our skill potential – but the limitations are based in the quality of our nurturing, our experiences, our personalities.

Much of what and who we are does seem to arise from genetics, given the decades long study of twins separated at birth, but who, despite having being raised in different households, end up leading parallel lives – making similar career choices and having similar families as adults. But en then, there’s random variation, small differences that make each twin unique.

Certainty in the Uncertain

History is nothing if not documented change – change in cultures, societies, nations – each one having their own take on morals and ethics, religion.

So it is extremely curious to me that current day believers are convinced that there is one true religion that provides a morally absolute framework and that they happened to be born at a time in the world when that one true religion was in fashion and they happened to be born in a region where it was practiced and to parents who were teaching or amenable to it.

It’s like the ultimate version of my deity can beat up your deity.

I don’t see how you can be so certain of a thing like a religious belief and take from it an absolute unchanging morality – when there’s been 10’s of thousands of religions in human history.

How can a believer be certain to have the right and true religion from all the religions that we know about through history, when there’s the same amount of evidence for all of them being real. Which is none at all.
It boggles how a believer can cling with certainty to a belief system that has no basis in logic or evidence to support the claims? What makes them reject all other currently practiced religions in favour of any one?

Usually people remain in the religion that their parents exposed them to. Or at least, its a religion that is dominant in the area were they reside. Safety and more importantly, validation in numbers.

But why accept a currently practiced religion over older ones that are now out of fashion – if there really was a god or deities – wouldn’t they have wanted worship and tribute from the start of there being people?

Isn’t it better to pick none than pick a potentially wrong one?

If there’s an afterlife and some judgement  isn’t it better to say, hey, I couldn’t have known who, so I opted to be a good person, use the brains that I had and live my life.

Instead of well, I though the other guy was the true god, so I worshiped him – and now, you’re kinda…standing there in front of a totally other god – other variation on the one you picked and well…you’re screwed.

Because the one thing that all the deities seem to have in common is jealousy and vindictive pettiness to the point of genocide more often than not.

Which, when you think about it, should indicate that these would not be anything that had anything valid to say about morals or deserving of worship.

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footnote to add a link to Tim Cooley’s Atheist blog post

The words Christians Use That Sicken Me

And I include this here because these words and phrases stem from baseless certainty.