Gods, plural. Atheists, take note.

Please, fellow unbelievers, pretty, pretty please, stop referring to the Abrahamic deity as “god”, it has at least three names, and it’s not the only god, it’s one of many thousands, possibly millions, and they all have names!

Every time you refer to Yahweh as “god” you are lending validity to the claim made by the Abrahamic faiths make that there’s only one god, and that it’s more real than all the gods they reject.

Jehovah is also acceptable, or even the name he carried when he headed up the Mesopotamian pantheon, El.

The days of the week, the planets in our solar system, they’re all named after gods, but the one who is currently worshipped by most believers across the globe, the one in whose name more people have died in pain and terror, is only honoured by its description, and I think that I know why. It’s because referring to it in the singular, and using its description as a name, believers are asserting that only one god exists, that speaking of any others is not worthwhile, because only one deity is valid, all the others are false by default.

This is why comparing Yahweh to Zeus, or the Easter Bunny, does not work, even though their god is just as unsupportable as fairies or goblins, Abrahamic believers have already crossed all the many, many alternatives to their deity off the list of possibilities, and reinforced the idea by using the singular.

Maybe I’m being a little over sensitive about it, but I think we’re falling into the theist trap, even as we claim to have escaped it, if we continue to address the idea of Jehovah as “god”, it’s a god, not the god.

Gods have names, we should use them.

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Why does Noah’s Ark still need debunking?!

It’s ridiculous, there are grown adults who seriously believe, and will try to defend the claim, that the entire Earth was covered with water, because a god got so angry with humanity, that it drowned every living thing.

Even if you could rekindle an entire species from just two individuals, even if the Ark was big enough to house thousands of animals, and their food, even if Noah was the owner of the only boat on the planet, there’s no evidence of a global flood ever having occurred, ever, there’s no evidence for a god or gods, and there’s no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in every species on Earth.

It’s a myth, a fantasy, an ancient story, dreamt up by people who had no idea how things work and didn’t want to admit to their ignorance, so they invented stories in place of facts.

Seriously, where did Noah keep all the temperature and pressure controlled aquariums? Most species of fish have quite specific water quality requirements, and that’s just fish, other aquatic life has similar, if not more stringent, needs. Some need a particular level of salinity, others temperature, or pressure, many are specialist feeders, coral needs a very specific amount of sunlight in order that the algae it symbiotically lives with can photosynthesise.

These animals would need specialist care, because the sheer volume of rotting corpses, floating about, festering away, would have spelt doom for them all.

And yet, grown adults need it explaining to them that penguins did not waddle all the way from the Middle East, to the Antarctic.

The alleged flood of Noah is an ancient hoax meme, one that is so simple to debunk that I cannot understand why it still needs to be done.

The plural of anecdote is not “data”.

I’ve just finished watching a YouTube video by TMM, he’s commenting on a disingenuous, possibly dishonest, Christian who is attempting to prove that his particular god is real, by suggesting that atheists have not defined what evidence would be acceptable, as if it’s the responsibility of unbelievers to present a definite criteria of what gods are.

It’s an argument I’ve heard time and again, theists realise that totally unsubstantiated promises of eternal rewards and threats of post mortem torture aren’t working, they understand that their claim to superior knowledge and morality isn’t cutting the mustard, so they switch to an ill fated attempt to shift the burden of proof, from the theists, who claim that a god or gods are real, to atheists, who reject that claim.

Incidentally, I am seldom at odds with the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), but when it comes to atheism, I disagree with the OED where it describes atheism as a belief that “god does not exist”. Firstly, I take issue with the word “god” when it’s used as if it were a name, secondly, in every other English word, the addition of an “a” at the beginning indicates a lack of something. Asymmetry is the lack of symmetry, not the belief in the absence or nonexistence of symmetry, to be amoral is to lack morals, not believe in the nonexistence of morals, and I could go on, aseptic, agnostic, abacterial, acaloric, and so on.

Atheism is not a belief, it is the absence of theism.

Back to the subject.

I have had theists ask me what sort of evidence I would accept for the existence of their gods, but only their gods, not all the gods the theist in question regards as false gods.

The answer is, any evidence at all. No theist has ever progressed past the point of trying to turn flawed philosophical ideas or pointing to something we have yet to understand (or more probably, that they have yet to understand, like evolutionary biology), and saying “That’s evidence of my god/s, why don’t you accept that?”, as if mystery automatically means that a supernatural force is involved.

If a god spoke to everyone on Earth simultaneously, or gifted us with indestructible scripture, that would count as evidence, but whenever I point this out, I’m told that this would violate our free will to accept or reject a supernatural supervisor. This is, of course, a fatuous and silly response, quite aside from the fact that it would no more impinge upon free will to have a magically presented written scripture, than it would to have any of the many versions of ancient scrolls and books supposedly given to humanity millennia ago, but even if we were given such evidence of a deity, we could still choose not to worship it.

Theists will sometimes suggest that their gods are outside of the scientific realm, or even that they exist outside of the universe (which is pretty much the same as admitting that gods don’t exist, without actually having the fortitude to admit it internally), beyond the reach of the science that threatens their mythology so. But those self same theists will claim that their gods intervene in our universe, that they alter things to subtly favour their followers, in other words, that gods supposedly do exist within our universe, that they interfere and intervene in a measurable way, in which case, they are not outside of the scientific realm. In which case, the believer should be able to present reliable evidence of the intervention of their god/s.

So far, all we get is cherry picked data, blind assertions, deliberate attempts to subvert the truth and outright lies.

I would accept evidence for gods, if it was presented, but theists don’t seem to understand what evidence is, or that the second law of thermodynamics is only one third of a set of laws that contradict many theistic claims, or that whichever text they hold dear is not evidence, or a scientific paper, or that people like Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Ray Comfort etc, are either ignorant of science and evidence, or blatant con artists and obvious liars.

Speaking from personal experience……

demotivational-posters-not-shopped

Ugh, yet again I find a believer who is willing to speak as if they know something is absolutely, definitely true, because of “personal experience”.

I cringe and yawn at the same time when, once again, a theist or a believer in ghosts uses a real world example as “evidence” that they know more than my tiny unbelievers mind cannot comprehend.

“I could tell you all about the rollercoaster I just went on, but you would have to experience it for yourself to really understand”, they spout, happily expecting me to concede the point. They’re always disappointed.

For the sake of full disclosure, I used to believe in ghosts, even after I accepted that my belief in gods was unfounded, my personal experience of a “ghost” was all the convincing I needed. A ghostly figure would appear in the corner of my eye, every evening as I worked, but was gone as soon as I looked up. It really spooked me.

That was until one day, standing in a slightly different position to usual, I looked up and it was still standing there, staring straight back at me from one of the eccentrically positioned windows of an office extension, the building is over 80 years old, so all sorts of odd bits and pieces have been tacked on here and there. It was my own reflection.

I felt a proper tit, basing an entire belief in the supernatural realm on a sodding reflection of myself!

The reason it disappeared when I looked directly at it, was the fact that my perspective changed when I turned my head, my willingness to believe had allowed me to bamboozle myself into a false belief. Personal experience is not a reliable witness, and it sure as hell isn’t evidence.

As it happens, more coordinated, sophisticated and intelligent people than myself have made a living out of bamboozlement, magicians, conjurors, illusionists, mentalists, call them what you will, they often make a good living from exploiting the follies and foibles of the human brain, but they are at least honest about it, unlike the other kind of bamboozler, the conman, evangelist preacher, the cult leader, embezzlers, frauds and cheats, or deluded maniacs, take your pick, using their abilities to parasitise humanity for their own ends.

Anyone who doubts that evangelist preachers aren’t fast talking scumbags would do well to seek out information regarding Marjoe Gortner, who as a child was forced by his parents to act the part of a child prodigy, one to whom the Abrahamic god spoke directly and invested with special powers. Eventually he had had enough and dropped out, returning only once, with a documentary film crew, to exact what he presumably hoped would be a delicious revenge upon the parents who tortured him into compliance as an infant. He feigned a return to the fold, described to the film crew what he would do, and how, then went out and did it. It should have been the death knell for evangelism, but somehow, the scam continues today, almost entirely unchanged, despite a number of other expose’s and takedowns by sceptics, including James Randi, who undermined Peter Popof by tuning into his radio channel, over which his wife fed details of desperate believers, hoping for a blessing and willing to pay handsomely for it, in order that Popof might extract cash from the credulous by pretending to have a hotline to a deity.

Needless to say, evangelists disgust me.

If, by some odd quirk of the internet, you happen to be reading this, and happen to be convinced by preachers, I challenge you to look up the videos and documents about Gortner and Popof, if you come away from either with your faith intact, or stronger, then there’s no hope for you, you poor, gullible nitwit.

Anyone at one of Gortners’ sermons would swear that a cross appeared on his forehead, as if by magic, anyone privy to the behind the scenes footage, would see how he applied invisible ink, in the shape of a cross, which would only appear when it reacted with the sweat produced by his exuberant preaching.

Personal experience can be useful, but as evidence, it’s very little use without corroborating evidence.

And that’s one reason why I’m not convinced by claims about gods and ghosts anymore.

Why don’t theists understand what atheism is?

I used to visit Quora, a question and answer website, I spent many hours a week interacting with other users, I say used to, because the site has a “be nice, be respectful” policy that is either not enforced at all, or enforced excessively in defence of an individuals personal beliefs.

In almost all of the interactions I had with convinced theists (or trolls posing as convinced theists), they try to tell me what I think, usually using the same words too: “Atheists believe that god does not exist”. They capitalise the “g” in “god”, as if it’s a name, and because they seem to think that only one god has ever been proposed, despite the fact that the planets in our solar system, and thus the days of the week, are named after pre-Christian, perhaps even pre-Abrahamic, gods. For this reason, I refuse to capitalise the “g”, and use some of the Abrahamic gods names (El, Yahweh or Jehovah) to drive the point home.

It has a name, and it bloody well isn’t “god”.

I digress.

For those who are confused, the “a” tacked onto the beginning of theism, to make atheism, indicates a lack of something. In this instance, theism. In the same way that asymmetry is the absence of symmetry.

So, if theism is the belief in a god or gods, atheism is not the opposite of theism, it is not a belief that gods do not exist, that would be antitheism, it is the absence of belief in a god or gods.

Try as I did, not one of the theists I dealt with had any intention of accepting that atheism is not a rival religion to their own, they want it to be a belief system. It’s always “You can’t prove that god does not exist, so how do you know that atheism is true?”. The obvious counter to this is to point out that atheism isn’t a belief system, it’s the absence of a belief in a theistic belief system. Without exception it falls on deaf ears.

I have a theory as to why. Right up until the 19th century, religious claims were pretty much the best explanation humankind had, all a religion had to do in order to take over from an earlier belief system, was lay claim to portents and omens more convincingly, or appeal to the self interest of the locals more effectively, with shinier shrines or grander afterlives.

Religions simply aren’t prepared for unbelief, they’ve always been able to silence, or exterminate, their critics. but since Darwin and Wallace first hit upon evolution by natural selection, the power of religion in most parts of the world has been eroded to the point where only the most backward or totalitarian regimes can execute unbelievers or heretics.

So, in civilised countries, theists have nothing else to fall back on but the arguments they once used to terrify the local peasantry into adopting a new mythology. and when this technique fails, they fall back on attempted logic and flawed philosophy, always based upon a false premise, faulty assumption or outright non sequitur.

And when that fails, they get angry, ALL CAPS words, sentences even, demands to research “the” bible (as if there’s only one version) or Quran, threats of post mortem retribution. Only once have I ever been threatened with actual violence, but then, I do live in a country in which being an atheist is no big deal.

I’ve made the point so many times via the Quora Android app, that my ‘phone can predict what I’m about to say, I only have to type “atheism is” and the ‘phone suggests the rest of the sentence, “not a belief in the absence of gods…..”.

I always use the plural when referring to gods, to remind monotheists that their claim is not the only one, and to try to get through to fellow unbelievers that referring to the Abrahamic god in the singular, is playing into the hands of the theists who would have us all believe that their god, alone in a veritable sea of purported deities, is the only one that’s actually really real, unlike all those fake gods.

They do love to suggest that I am ignorant of the truth, like they have a handle on the deepest secrets of the cosmos because of their belief, despite frequently misunderstanding some basic conventions of the English language, like confusing “your” and “you’re” or “our” and “are”, they will occasionally apologise on behalf of some of the religious bullies and nutters who have helped to shake my former faith, as if that’s what the problem is, my anger at some of the utter arseholes I’ve tolerated in my life.

But in reality, my unbelief is based upon one thing, the fact that I cannot show that gods are even remotely plausible.

I first realised that Christianity was implausible at the age of eleven, but after only a few years at a Catholic school, I could see the cognitive dissonance at work, as people who preached love, peace and charity practiced nothing of the sort as they tried to scare their mythology into us.

So, for a long time, I was an agnostic theist, I didn’t have a specific deity in mind, but I thought, because so many people believed in gods, that there had to be something “out there”. Which is how I discovered Neo-Paganism, a rag-tag collection of revivalist theism, based upon religions long since supplanted by later mythologies.

Being a Pagan was fantastic fun, there are no prohibitions against sex, sexuality, boozing or clothing, just a well meaning bent towards ecological responsibility and not being a dick to others. I loved it, and still have many Pagan friends. But, in the end, I still had to come clean and admit it, I could no more prove Pagan deities were real, than I could disprove the existence of later gods, like El, the early name of the Abrahamic god.

The case for gods has not just been made poorly, it’s not been made at all, it requires more pig headed stubbornness now more than ever it did, because now we have proper scientific explanations for the things our ancestors could only shrug at and ascribe to magic, which drives theists bananas, in the case of Ray Comfort, literally, he tried to suggest that the banana, specifically the Cavendish type, had been created by his god, going to some length to demonstrate that it was convenient to eat, coming as it does in a convenient wrapper, in a hand portable form, curved towards the mouth, full of goodness and energy. The claim was that the banana was designed to fit the human mouth, some wags pointed out that this was also true for the human rectum, but the truth is, the wild form of the banana is nowhere near as edible, isn’t particularly curved, or suited to humans at all, the Cavendish is a human creation, not a god given treat, and comfort is either an idiot, or a fast talking shyster preying on idiots.

Time and again, claims made by religions are overthrown with actual evidence, at which point theists will desperately search their favourite scriptures for something that vaguely fits real facts, just so that they can claim that their religion got there first, but it’s a particularly weal argument, given that this revelation is only apparent after the facts have been uncovered.

I’m still open to being convinced that a god or gods exist, I would happily accept evidence of them, but it needs to be actual evidence, and that’s something that nobody I know of has ever managed to do, that’s why over 4,000 gods are being worshipped right now, and why there are so many schisms and sects within the various world religions. Actual evidence would eliminate doubt and the necessity of faith, it would leave only one religion, rather than thousands of, frequently warring, factions, who all have no more or less evidence than any of the others.

It’s so obvious, I can’t believe it took me so long to realise that religions are fake, all of them. There’s no reason at all to take them seriously, except when they’re threatening your life, eroding your civil liberties, or harming your children, and even then, they’re simply a threat, not a credible claim.