December 10, 2012

Why prayer does not work

Prayer does not work. And why does it not work? Well, because there is no God. So, whether you're hoping for a lottery win, or looking for celestial respite for your Aunt Pru's arthritis, all that kneeling and head-bowing and amen chanting is about as much use as a chocolate shovel. You'd be better off praying to Satan. Satan doesn't exist either, but the parties are more fun.

But because humanity likes nothing better than self-delusion, millions of us labour on in the pretence that an invisible yet all powerful Creator actually gives a handful of monkey droppings whether we get that job we applied for or not. There are two very obvious reasons why prayer doesn't work and wouldn't work even if there was a God.

The first is that you obviously don't get everything that you pray for, from good health to happiness. The religious, always quick to dodge a sharp question, will tell you that this is God's will, and His ineffable wisdom chooses not to grant every request directed to him in the form of prayer. Which renders the whole process quite spectacularly pointless, really.

If you're going to go to all the trouble of praying to a being who's then going to decide whether or not to answer your prayers based on a set of criteria you can't see and wouldn't understand, and if that being is all knowing and is therefore aware of your situation anyway, then what's the point of flagging it up? Is praying the equivalent of sending a high priority email? Why not direct your prayers to Bill Gates in an email instead? He'll probably ignore them too, but at least he won't claim any moral high ground or spurious ineffability to fudge the issue.

We'll skip the usual 'what kind of God could allow the prayers of the suffering to go unheeded' argument because it's just too obvious.

But let's look at common prayers. Praying for a promotion, or praying that you get a job you applied for. Now, any rational person would suggest that the prayer time is probably better spent polishing your CV or hitting a few targets, but even if you assume for a moment that there is a God who is minded to answer prayers, isn't it sort of cheating to ask for divine intervention in a recruitment process? It's not really fair on the other guy applying for the job, if they have more experience and perform better in interview, and then fail to get the job because you did a bit of brown-nosing to God the night before?

And what if the other guy prays for the job as well? You're not theonly praying person out there and it's a bit unfair to ask God to do the whole judgement of Solomon thing about which of you is the worthier, when there's a perfectly competent recruiter whose job it is to do just that.

Sometimes of course, prayer seems to work. Someone does some praying, and of a hundred vague prayers for the health of friends and family, financial windfalls and romantic conquests, something goes right. Your prayers have been answered, God's in his heaven and he's in the mood for micro-managing your requests! This is called confirmation bias, and works according to the same principles as incredibly vague horoscopes - people pick out the one thing that might just apply to them, and assume insight on the part of the astrologer, ignoring all the irrelevant details.

The only sense in which prayer genuinely works is in the sense that it's an opportunity for quiet reflection, as close to meditation as some religions get. Praying can settle the nerves or build confidence not because of miracle beams from a non-existent God, but through the prayee spending a few moments relaxing into their own thoughts and just calming down a bit.

So, prayer. Hurts your knees, wears out the carpet, doesn't work. Have a cup of tea and a good think instead.

October 20, 2012

Believe in Hank

This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

"Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

"Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

"Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

"If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the shit out of you."

"What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

"Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

"That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

October 8, 2012

Why Atheists Align with Democrats

By: Adam Brown (Founder of
Yes, this is a long article… but it has good research and is worth your time to read. Sorry, no TLDR – just read it!
The United States of America is hardly united. On virtually every political issue, America will cover the entire sliding scale of opinion from extreme conservative, evangelical Christian right to the extreme liberal, progressive, socialist left. We also have a large chunk of the population that just does not care. These people do not pay attention to the issues, regardless if it directly affects their lives, especially in their local or national elections. In fact, if someone in a conversation doesn’t mention these political issues with him or her, they probably wouldn’t know anything about it. For the purposes of this article, we don’t discuss these people. I will look at the political views of active atheists and non-religious people in America and show that there is a preponderance to be towards the left (Democratic) side of the political spectrum and why this alignment occurs. It will also become clear that the more religiously motivated a political position, the more united and fervent the atheists in America are in opposition to it.

September 22, 2012

I Believe: An Atheist's "World View"

I believe in absolute and unconditional equality amongst all people. We must not make exceptions for women, gays, Asians, left-handers, no-one. Organizations that seek to curtail the rights of any demographic should be disbanded, ridiculed or lose their tax-exemption status.

I believe that the right of people to live in a manner of their choosing, self-evidently excludes any right to prevent others from living how they choose. A person's faith cannot be used to justify hindering the lives of others. This particularly applies to children, who must be protected from harm, including (and especially) harm caused by their own parents.

September 1, 2012

Reasons Atheists Have to Fight for Their Rights

In the U.S., atheists have laws protecting us. But laws aren’t always obeyed, or enforced — and fighting for legal rights can have dire consequences.

“You atheists are just taking on the mantle of victimhood. There are laws protecting you — especially the First Amendment. Therefore, you’re not really discriminated against. And it’s ridiculous for you to claim that you are.”

Atheist activists get this one a lot. When we speak out about ways that anti-atheist bigotry plays out, we’re told that we’re not really oppressed. We’re told that, because we have legal protection, because anti-atheist discrimination is illegal, therefore we don’t really have any problems, and we’re just trying to gain unearned sympathy and win the victim Olympics. (I’d love to hear Bob Costas do the commentary for that!) It’s a classic Catch-22: If we speak out about oppression and point to examples of it, we’re accused of “playing the victim card,” and the oppression becomes invisible. And if we don’t speak out about oppression … then the oppression once again becomes invisible.

August 28, 2012

Remove "In God We Trust" from our currency.

Remove "In God We Trust" from our currency and remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Sign, share and spread the word.
The deadline is near!

August 25, 2012

Richard Dawkins: The God of the Old Testament

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction:

August 15, 2012

The Coming Atheist Demographic Tide

The WIN-Gallup International network of polling firms has released a new poll titled Global Index of Religion and Atheism 2012, and there's a lot of good news in it for us. Some of these results are so encouraging, I hesitate to believe them without additional confirmation - but if they bear out, they show that atheism is rising all around the world like the tide coming in!

August 12, 2012

Name change

Today I changed the blog name from "Atheism is Love" to "ACE - Atheist Community of Earth" to match our Facebook community page and other ACE outlets.
Sorry for the inconvenience. 

August 4, 2012

Seth Andrews "Scrabble on the Space Station"

Seth was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Oklahoma Freethought Convention.
His presentation takes an often humorous look at the claims of religion in the Age of Information.

I dare any believer to watch the whole thing from beginning to end. 
it just might make you think! scary, I know. 

July 14, 2012

Why Secularism Is Good for the U.S.

Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans documents the extraordinary rise of secularism in the United States and how it offers hope for more rational, inquiry-based public policy and discussion. In this essay, author David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, talks about how secularism has always been part of America, but it's only now becoming a force to be reckoned with.

June 24, 2012

What's the harm if believing makes people feel good?

On the occasions when I discuss religion, I can count on being asked one question every time: What is the harm in believing? A common phrasing of this question would be as follows:

I understand that you don't believe in God. But I don't know why you seem to care that others do. I mean, what's the harm in believing in God if it makes people feel good to believe?If you are an atheist, I'd say it is a virtual certainty that you've been asked this question many times too. In this post, I'd like us to forget about how we might phrase our response and just think through the question itself.

June 16, 2012

What's so bad about religion?

I have never met an atheist who would claim that religion is the source of all evil in the world or that a post-religious world would necessarily be some sort of Utopian paradise. Many of us may still long for a post-religious world, but we are realistic about what it would involve. The far more common view, and the one to which I personally subscribe, is that religious belief (i.e., faith) facilitates evil in a way that few other organizations or belief systems are capable. As Steven Weinberg famously said,

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.Again, the claim is not that religion is somehow the source of all evil but that it facilitates a particularly devastating form of evil.

June 1, 2012

Atheists: The Last Minority to Get Civil Rights?

In America, freedom of religion does not yet include freedom from religion. If you doubt that try spending time in a very religious state such as Alabama. Here is what you can expect:

  • On his first day in office, the state governor might say that anyone who does not believe in God is not his brother. That would be discrimination against atheists from the top.
  • Your weather man might helpfully inform you that you will “need a jacket tomorrow on your way to church.” Religious indoctrination by meteorologists!
  • If you tell someone you have no religion, they might say: “I would keep that to myself, if I were you.”
  • Instead of saying “have a good day” your waiter or waitress might say “have a blessed day.” That might be tough for an atheist. Imagine telling an African American to “have a white day,” or vice versa. You would have to be Eddie Murphy to get away with that.

May 20, 2012

The Real Reason Atheists Have Higher IQs

Is atheism a sign of intelligence? 

Recent posts have proposed convoluted theories accounting for why atheists score higher on IQ tests than religious people. There is a much simpler explanation. Like a lot of correlations of this type, it is probably less exciting than it appears.

Atheists are probably more intelligent than religious people because they benefit from many social conditions that happen to be correlated with loss of religious belief. When one looks at this phenomenon from the point of view of comparisons between countries, it is not hard to figure out possible reasons that more intelligent countries have more atheists as Richard Lynn (2009) reported.

May 12, 2012

Why Atheism Will Replace Religion

Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries, particularly the social democracies of Europe. In underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists. Atheism is thus a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Why do modern conditions produce atheism?

First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, a clear pattern can be discerned. In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (Zuckerman, 2007). Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.

May 7, 2012

Help make our National Day of Prayer post popular!

End the unconstitutional National Day of Prayer, which violates the 1st Amendment.


April 23, 2012

God - a Primitive Superman.

Believers widely portray their god as an all-powerful, all-wise, transcendent and perfect,spiritual being. I contend that modern theologians have reconfigured god from the Bible authors’ original crude conceptions of god as a rather fallible, uber-human with superpowers.

By “uber-human,” I mean a being that is basically human in terms of psychology and emotions, yet possessed of greater intelligence and power. This is how modern humans have usually imagined comic book superheroes. That is, they are generally built on a basic human physical and psychological plan, but with accessory super powers, like Superman and Spiderman.

Surely, the Bible authors thought god and man were very much alike, as attested by Genesis 9:6, “. . . for in the image of God made he man.” For evidence I offer the inclusion of anger in the Biblical conception of god, and the fact that Bible-god occasionally changes his mind about things. Obviously, a “perfect” spirit being does not get angry, nor does he change his mind (or whatever passes for “mind” in a spirit).

Anger has been aptly described as a reaction to a perceived threat to ourselves, our loved ones, our property, our self-image, or some part of our identity. If a being is perfect and all-powerful, then how or why would it feel threatened by anything? This only makes sense if that being was somehow unsure of itself; that is, was less than perfect.

Indeed, there are many Biblical passages which attest to this unsureness, this anger. In Job 38, god upbraids Job for questioning god’s foul treatment of him. This harangue goes on for 71 verses about what business has Job got judging god? He asks, was Job there when he laid the foundations of the earth? “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?” “Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?” God goes on like this for dozens of examples. I mean, god is seriously pissed off and there is no mistaking it.

The scene with Job is not exceptional; the Bible is full of episodes describing an angry god. In fact, one of the most frequently used words in the Bible is “wrath,” and it is almost always used in connection with god. According to one online dictionary, wrath means, “strong vengeful anger or indignation.”

Anger is a very human emotion, and the Bible’s primitive authors gave their god a very full measure of it. Jesus was quite clear about how we humans should respond to that angry god when he said, "fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28)

But, Bible-god is not just human-like in his anger, he is also human-like in his propensity to change his mind from time to time. Now a perfect spirit being, it would seem, would get things right the first time, and would not be changing its mind. But that would not be an accurate description of Bible-god.

In Exodus 32, the Israelites create a golden calf and god gets angry: “. . . Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them . . .” But Moses pleads with god, reminding him of his promises to the people, and warning him of how the Egyptians will interpret his actions, and god relents – changes his mind: “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. “ Isn’t it apparent in this story that god was unsure of himself; that Moses showed superior reason in convincing god what he should do?

A similar story is found in Genesis 6: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”

Here, god repents creating man and beast. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, “repent” in this context means: (2a) to feel regret or contrition, or (2b) to change one’s mind. So, according to the Bible, god decides he made a mistake in creating humans and changes his mind about keeping them around (except for Noah and family).

Does this sound like a “perfect” being, an all-wise, creative spirit entity? Or does it sound like an angry man with super powers? Does this sound like an omniscient being who knows the future, as modern theologians describe god?

I have searched several Christian apologetics sites to learn how modern Christians explain how god can know the future, on the one hand, yet change his mind, on the other. In researching this subject, and thinking about it, it appears to me that the “explanations” all fall into one of three broad types:

  1. The naive, or special-pleading explanation (God can do anything).
  2. The Bible doesn’t really mean what it says.
  3. The Bible was just made up by many primitive authors and never checked for consistency.

If we were to go with (1), we would be throwing out the rules of logic which have led us out of the caves and into modern societies of relative abundance. After all, god cannot construct a four-sided triangle, nor can he simultaneously “be” and “not be.”

“Explanation” (2) includes too many apologetic “escapes” to even summarize here, but they generally involve disputes concerning translation and convoluted pretzel-logic. For any of them to make sense, we would have to redefine many of the common words we all have been using all of our lives.

Which brings us to my own favorite, number (3). That the authors of the Bible were superstitious primitives should really be beyond dispute. These men included a whole host of imaginary characters in their texts including witches, wizards, sorcerers, demons, ghosts, giants, spirits, angels, dragons and unicorns. These were men who believed disease was caused by demons (Matt. 8:14-16); men who didn’t know where the sun went at night.

And, clearly, the Bible was never checked for internal consistency. When it comes to the “Good Book,” as ye seek, so shall ye find is a truism. It is not all that difficult to find a passage which defends virtually any claim you wish to put forth. If you need a passage to show that god is loving and compassionate, it’s in the Bible. If you want to show god is hateful and cold, that’s in there, too. If you need to show god is patient, it’s there. If you want to show he is quick to anger and punish, that’s there, too. Isn’t it interesting that Bible-god is so much like us?

The Bible was written by dozens of different authors over hundreds of years, so it’s not surprising that their conceptions of god varied and were sometimes even contradictory. When the Bible canon was established by vote, long after the various texts were written, no one bothered to ensure consistency among its parts, and this is how we can be certain that no god oversaw its authorship. It was quite obviously written by many independent and very imaginative men.

Now, modern theologians tell us that god is an extraordinarily esoteric entity; perhaps, “. . . a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence,” (Karen Armstrong), or, not a being at all, but the ground of all being (David Hart). But such explanations are no more than wishful thinking; they do not correlate at all with the descriptions of the Bible’s authors. “Symbols” don’t get angry or change their minds, nor does “pure being.” These apologists are fighting a rear-guard action here; they know that the god described in the Bible bears no resemblance to their descriptions, but they still want to believe and have you believe.

Those primitive authors who wrote the Bible were quite transparent in their depictions of god. Theirs was a crude god of very human characteristics, like anger and indecision; an uber-human, a primitive’s conception of a comic book superhero. If you’re looking for a perfect, transcendent spirit, you won’t find it in the Bible. For that, you’ll have to consult the modern apologists. And this tells me that we shouldn’t take the god of those ancients any more seriously than we take Marvel Comics superheroes - and the same goes for the gods of those more modern myth makers.

April 16, 2012

Why do Americans still dislike atheists?

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists. Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests.
Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.
Is this knee-jerk dislike of atheists warranted? Not even close.
A growing body of social science research reveals that atheists, and non-religious people in general, are far from the unsavory beings many assume them to be. On basic questions of morality and human decency— issues such as governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation or human rights — the irreligious tend to be more ethical than their religious peers, particularly compared with those who describe themselves as very religious.
Consider that at the societal level, murder rates are far lower in secularized nations such as Japan or Sweden than they are in the much more religious United States, which also has a much greater portion of its population in prison. Even within this country, those states with the highest levels of church attendance, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, have significantly higher murder rates than far less religious states such as Vermont and Oregon.
As individuals, atheists tend to score high on measures of intelligence, especially verbal ability and scientific literacy. They tend to raise their children to solve problems rationally, to make up their own minds when it comes to existential questions and to obey the golden rule. They are more likely to practice safe sex than the strongly religious are, and are less likely to be nationalistic or ethnocentric. They value freedom of thought.
While many studies show that secular Americans don’t fare as well as the religious when it comes to certain indicators of mental health or subjective well-being, new scholarship is showing that the relationships among atheism, theism, and mental health and well-being are complex. After all, Denmark, which is among the least religious countries in the history of the world, consistently rates as the happiest of nations. And studies of apostates — people who were religious but later rejected their religion — report feeling happier, better and liberated in their post-religious lives.
More than 2,000 years ago, whoever wrote Psalm 14 claimed that atheists were foolish and corrupt, incapable of doing any good. These put-downs have had sticking power. Negative stereotypes of atheists are alive and well. Yet like all stereotypes, they aren’t true — and perhaps they tell us more about those who harbor them than those who are maligned by them. So when the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich engage in the politics of division and destruction by maligning atheists, they do so in disregard of reality.
As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth. Despite the bigotry, the number of American nontheists has tripled as a proportion of the general population since the 1960s. Younger generations’ tolerance for the endless disputes of religion is waning fast. Surveys designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities.

April 1, 2012

20 Things you didn't know about Atheists

Some atheists are well known and open about their non-belief, while others are more noncommittal. Kevin Bacon’s name graces many lists of celebrity atheists. Given the Six Degrees of Separation game, we wondered what would the Six Degrees of Freethinkers look like?
Further, when we think of the concept of atheism, many of us think of it as a phenomenon that describes a sense of lacking, or the absence of something. But seldom do we stop and think about what atheists do have, or what they do bring to the table as a group of self-described non-believers.With that in mind and whether you believe or not, consider the following list of 20 things we bet you didn’t know about atheists and atheism:

March 26, 2012

The Thinking Atheist playlist

From the author: Using satire, research and some common sense, we explore common-sense questions about God.
A former Christian of 30 years, I ultimately found that religion, faith and scripture lacked any true answers, especially in the (bright) light of scientific discovery and the truth of Evolution by Natural Selection.
Having an insiders perspective of Christianity, I use my skills as a producer to stir the pot of debate and, hopefully, make it uncomfortable for anyone to be a mere spectator in the arena of ideas.
Note: This is not a documentary film in a strict sense. These are professionally edited short clips gathered from a YouTube channel named The Thinking Atheist.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 2 hours, 37 minutes)

March 6, 2012

Top ten arguments for the existence of God

Do you believe in God? If so, at some point in time, someone convinced you that God does exist. They used one of the ten arguments listed herein. How solid are these arguments and how do they stand up to basic science and reason?
Since the dawn of civilization there have been many arguments for the existence of God. Surprisingly, the vast majority of these arguments fall into the ten or so categories below. Not much has changed in the last 300+ years in terms of new claims or evidence. The same core arguments turn up again and again, often dressed in new clothes (such as "Intelligent Design" or invoking bits and pieces of "Quantum Theory" but they're still the same arguments). How familiar are you with these?

February 16, 2012

My heart - My body

Gay marriage and abortion are two other (amongst many) topics that prevent some humans from practicing their freedom to live their personal lives as they please. This can be disguised as politics, but in reality these rejections of acceptance stem from religion, rules of an ancient book. 
 "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives."  (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
When it comes to the subject of abortion, though there aren’t any“rules” in the bible that forbids abortion, most religious people (especially Christians) claim that it is forbidden by god.

February 5, 2012

Atheism is not a religion!

Its Superbowl Sunday. so this week I will keep it light, funny and entertaining.
Here is a funny clip of one of my favorite Atheists Bill Maher; "New Rule: Atheism is not a religion!"
My thoughts are - saying Atheism is a religion is like calling a balled head a hair style.
Enjoy the clip. and if you haven't seen Religulous go see it! especially if you are a believer.

January 30, 2012

God is love... Not!

Millions of believers worship a god with the personality of a five year old. Jealous, angry, homophobe, sexphobe, racist and most of all an attention freak. But those are the things you wont hear in churches, temples, mosques etc. the only time when gods wrath is discussed is to instill fear and control over the believers. If you do certain things, believe in anything “other than” or dare to question, you will be punished. A typical mind control technique by cults and religion.
The excuses to cover or distort all the evil that god does in the bible, by believers (apologists) are almost endless. books of most if not all religions are filled with hate, racism, chauvinism, murder, rape, incest, and many times contradicting "facts" that make no sense in the real world.
Every religion (ok most. but definitely including the biggest ones- Christianity, Judaism and Muslim) preaches love, but under the mask and inside the book there is allot of hate.

January 24, 2012

Why Atheism is love?

Most religious people, groups, organizations and leaders see Atheism as a threat. That is a fact.

Many, if not all believers will attest to the fact that Atheism and love contradict themselves. This is far from the truth. In comparison to religion Atheists don’t judge anyone for anything except for the character and moral behavior of individual to others. An atheist parent will not disown his or her own child only because that child is gay. An atheist parent will not reject his or her child for an interracial relationship. An atheist will love their family members and any other human being under only one condition, if that human being is a good person. Nothing else matters. No race, religion affiliation, age, sex, or color. That’s love.