Archive for ‘June, 2009’

Science and Religion

datePosted on 00:01, June 28th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

There has been so much talk about the compatibility – or incompatibility of science and religion that it’s enough to make one sick. The old argument of non-overlapping magisteria is really not valid. Science is a way of explaining the world we live in. Science is a specific deliberate method for solving problems and making predictions. Science IS the world we live in. Conversely, religion is none of the above. Religion is an unsubstantiated, untestable fantasy that neither explains nor predicts anything. So if religion does not have its own magisteria; why bother? Science and religion are way beyond being mutually exclusive. One, science, explains reality; the other, religion, invents horrible stories to contradict reality. However, in spite of this quite obvious fact, there are many scientists who disingenuously hold religious beliefs. I truly do not even know how to respond to that. Fortunately others do.

Physicist Lawrence Krauss recently debated some theists and discussed this very issue.

Science is only truly consistent with an atheistic worldview with regards to the claimed miracles of the gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Moreover, the true believers in each of these faiths are atheists regarding the specific sacred tenets of all other faiths. Christianity rejects the proposition that the Quran contains the infallible words of the creator of the universe. Muslims and Jews reject the divinity of Jesus.
So while scientific rationality does not require atheism, it is by no means irrational to use it as the basis for arguing against the existence of God, and thus to conclude that claimed miracles like the virgin birth are incompatible with our scientific understanding of nature.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that these issues are not purely academic. The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.

–Lawrence Krauss

We atheists are not on a mission to destroy all religious belief. Anyone is entitled to believe in anything they want to. The issue is when those beliefs in the supernatural realm are used set public policy and obfuscate the real world we live in. It is reality itself that is incompatible with most religious dogma. Science is responsible for the vaccines and medicine that you take to improve your life. Science has brought us the technology to form the computer you are reading this post on. Science is real. Religion, on the other hand, has brought us ignorance, war, and suffering. The real question is whether you accept reality, or you need to believe in a fantasy world populated by aweful dreadful vendictive monsters that no one else can see in order to survive your brief existence.

Digital Television Conversion Helps Non-theists

datePosted on 08:42, June 17th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

This week marks the beginning of life without free television (well, it’s still free if you put a converter box on each television you own). The much over-talked about switch to digital television signals in the United States has finally been implemented. There has never been a major paradigm shift that has been more publicized than this conversion. Every type of news media from television and radio to magazines – not to mention the internet, has been explaining this for the past several years. To not know or not understand what has happened, you would need to either be on another planet or be a very stupid individual. Apparently there are plenty of people that fit into the later category. For the past few days, hotlines all across the country have been besieged with hundreds of thousands of calls from people complaining that they don’t have television anymore.

It is my personal opinion that this is a good thing! You see, atheists tend to be a little more “with it” than theists for the fact that we demand evidence for claims. We want to know how and why something works. We demand explanations for everything. Theists, on the other hand, close their minds to reality and blame much of life on the random actions of their imaginary friends. I do not know this for a fact, but I would be willing to bet that most, if not all, of the people complaining about losing their television reception are theists. We atheists do not take things for granted. The television is a complicated invention that relies on many different types of advanced technologies working with many different systems. We understand why this switch was made and how it impacts us. As someone who subscribes to cable, like most people I know, this conversion has no impact on me at all – but I do understand it. I am sure many theists just assume their television is this box that “just works” when they turn it on. They use it to watch all of the religious programming that is ubiquitous through out the United States. Now that their television sets are silent, they will not be able to watch their religious nonsense. This is good. Perhaps they will pay more attention to reality and in doing so put less faith in their gods. This, in turn, will make it easier for us to explain science to them. “…remember the television conversion, that’s science, that’s reality.” After all, praying to a god will not restore their signal, but paying money to a science wielding cable or satellite company will.

Through The Eyes Of A Child

datePosted on 22:17, June 5th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

Through the eyes of a child the world is a wonderful place. My wife and I recently returned from taking our daughter to an indoor waterpark resort to celebrate her 7th birthday. The resort was wonderful, but what really hit me was the diversity of people there. I was sitting in a lounge chair at the water’s edge of the wave pool watching the hundreds of children – and some adults – laughing and playing. Our daughter had befriended a little girl about her same age and the two were having great time playing together. They were also playing with several other children, as well. My daughter and her new friend are Caucasian, there were several African-Americans, Asians, and Middle-Eastern children, as well.

Now my daughter is being raised in a secular home (Atheist), her new friend was Christian (her father had a crucifix proudly displayed around his neck), the Asian children could have been practicing Buddhists, Confucians, or maybe even Shinto, and there was a little boy whose mother was wearing a hijab and was fully covered (my guess is they were Muslim). Atheists, Christians, Muslims and more all playing together and having fun. Oh no! The world must be coming to an end!

When recounting her adventures to us, our daughter used many adjectives to describe the children she had met; not one of them referred to race or religion. Through her eyes, there was no distinction between race or religion; there were no prejudices or hypocritical discriminatory actions or postures to make. There was only laughter and fun.

We are not born knowing hate and fear. These attributes need to be taught. Prejudice and hatred need to be explicitly and repeatedly infused into our upbringing. Religious intolerance needs to be learned. I was never more proud – or jealous of my daughter that afternoon. Jealous, because she hadn’t yet learned to hate people for being different. I was also very sad because I knew that eventually the innocence of childhood would soon be replaced with the dogmas and prejudices of adulthood.

If only adults could see the world through the eyes of their children perhaps there would be no Protestants killing Catholics, Catholics killing Jews, Jews killing Muslims, Muslims killing everyone. Perhaps if adults could see the world through the eyes of their children they would see the positive qualities we all share, rather than the differences which divide and separate us. Through the eyes of a child the world is indeed a wonderful beautiful place. If only it could last.

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

–Lyrics from “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” from the musical South Pacific