Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Misogynist, racist and other abused diction

One of my little pet peeves is the consistent misuse of certain sets of words.  The easiest way to make some one back down from their stance is to make them feel bigoted.  Disagree with a feminist, you are a misogynist; disagree with some one of a different ethnicity, you are a racist; disagree with a homosexual and you are homophobic.  

The sad thing is that these words have very clear meanings.  They are not nebulous conceptual words that can be interpreted in many ways.  They are not slang words that arose informally with many differing meanings.

A misogynist is a person that hates women.
"I think women are stupid.": not a misogynist.
"I think women shouldn't serve in the military.": not a misogynist.
"I think women need to be beaten regularly so that they know their place.": misogynist.

A racist is a person that believes race is the primary determinant in the characteristics of an individual and that this difference implies that one particular race is superior to others.
"I dislike rap music.": not a racist.
"I don't date Asian women.": not a racist.
"I think White people need to reclaim their rightful place as masters over the other races.": racist.

To those misapplying these words:  learn to support your stances with reasoning and facts.  If you are forced to resort to such petty tactics, you have already lost the debate.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The flaws of the Presuppositional argument.

The presuppositional argument for the existence of god basically comes down to "I assume god is true and the bible is divinely inspired; the bible tells me god is true, therefore god is true."  It's obvious circular reasoning and begs the question from the onset.  Despite the obvious flaws it is still a widely used argument for the existence of god.

1:  Circular.
2:  Begging the question.
3:  This logic can be used to prove almost anything.  I assume I am god.  I didn't know that I was god before now.  Therefore, I must have used my divine powers to hide my godliness from myself.  This illustrates my divinity as only a god can be divine.  Hence, I must be god.
4:  Evidence indicates that the original assumption is wrong.  You must ignore verifiable evidence to still hold the original assumption as being correct.

For the life of me, I really do not understand how any theist actually thinks this is a solid argument.  For once, I would welcome the input of a theist.  How can any of you actually believe this?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Political bias in America and the misperceptions of the Oval Office.

I am not a democrat or a republican.  I do not adhere to any ideology except skepticism and rational thought.  I simply look at the evidence available to determine my opinion on a particular issue and change that opinion if new evidence warrants it.  Unfortunately, Americans are generally not like this.

Since it is the most relevant at this time, I am going to put this in perspective of the US presidential elections. Obama and Romney actually agree on most issues.  However, the Republicans constantly rant about how evil Obama is and the Democrats rant about how evil Romney is.  It doesn't seem to matter who would do the better job; it only matters which way their political leanings go.

What this means for an independent voter, such as myself, is a plethora of utterly unimportant and heavily biased articles advocating for their particular champion.  As media has become increasingly intrusive in our daily lives, the vitriol has grown increasingly worse.  Every comment is analyzed to see if a snippet can be twisted to say something abhorrent.  Outlandish conspiracies inundate even mainstream articles to the point that they are spouted off as given truths.

So, I have had to determine my own method of determining who is and is not the most qualified candidate.  I must know what roles the president plays and what attributes would most help with those roles.

For some odd reason, many Americans and foreigners seem to view the president as a might king whose dictates are law.  The reality is that the president makes no laws and only has an indirect influence on laws.  As such, the presidents opinion on social matters are rather irrelevant.  It doesn't matter if he is a homophobic racist narcissist or the nicest man you have ever met.  These have little bearing on how well he will perform the role of president.  If you care about liberal or conservative social ideas, pay more attention to congressional elections.

What does matter is the presidents views on national defense, security, international relations and economics.  These are the areas where the president actually has a direct influence.  When you are evaluating your choice for a president, pick the president based on those topics and how well you believe he can handle those issues.  Pick the person who is most capable; don't pick the one you think is nicest.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Racism in America: not what it's made out to be

I would like to preface this by stating that I am an American expatriate.  I have lived overseas for 11 years; I have resided in 3 countries and spent significant amounts of time in 26.  I am writing this post to address a number of people who have been commenting about the rampant racism in America.

The term racism is bandied about in contemporary American culture for any discrimination.  If you dislike a particular culture, religion, ethnic group, behavior, or "race", you will likely be labeled a racist.  This waters down the meaning and significance of the word racism.  Racism is when you judge some ones worth, capability, etc. based entirely off of the loosely defined term "race".  Disliking or judging a particular religion, culture, etc. is not racism and should not be treated as such.  For instance, I can dislike cultures that circumcise babies for legitimate medical and humanist reasons.  I can also dislike Islam for the behaviors or beliefs of its adherents.  Neither of these things would justify my being labeled a racist.

Another aspect of racism that is rarely considered is simply people's natural preference for norms.  We generally feel more comfortable around those we are used to; those who are "like us".  Japanese are infamously xenophobic and racist.  Their country is extremely homogeneous and many Japanese feel uncomfortable around foreigners.  This is so prevalent that foreigners are not allowed in many establishments in Japan.

Initially this experience in Japan bothered me.  I was constantly being discriminated against; I was not allowed to do certain things solely because I was Japanese.  However, as I traveled more I came to realize that this is normal.  Go to any major city in the world and you will see that a large group of ethnic Chinese will have formed communities together.  The same is true for ethnic Indians, ethnic Africans, Latino's, etc.  It is normal for humans to feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings.

My travels have shown me that every country has racism.  The primary difference with America though is that passive racism is not seen as acceptable by most of society.  Americans are more aware of racism and are more prone to point out any form of discrimination.  This heavy focus on racism and its perceived sleights, real and imagined, causes foreigners and Americans alike to view America as disproportionately racist.  However, that's far from the reality.  Out of the 26 countries I have visited, America has far more interracial couples, less racist policies, more tolerance and even out right appreciate of foreign cultures, etc. than any where else I have been.

This is not to say that America does not continue to have genuine issues with racism.  I am simply trying to put another perspective on the race issue.  I would be happy to have others peoples views on this issue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The reality of domestic violence.

Let me preface this by stating that I am neither a men's rights activist or a feminist.  However, I am a humanist.  As such the recent surge in feminism in the atheist movement and the counter surge for men's rights has intrigued me.  Ideally, these two issues should not be seen as contrasting.  Feminism is about furthering gender equality with a focus on female rights issues.  Men's rights activism is about furthering gender equality with a focus on male rights issues.  Unfortunately, the "you're with us or against us" stance of the FTB and A+ crowd has created a schism that doesn't need to exist.  This post will be my attempt at addressing one issue that both sides are misrepresenting: domestic violence.

Contrary to the often spouted feminist line, women are as likely to resort to violence in relationships as men are (  Men are not violent aggressors and women are not passive victims.

Contrary to the MRA line, men do not suffer as greatly from domestic violence as women do (  Women are more than twice as likely to receive injuries and 4 times as likely to be killed from a partner.

The reality of the situation is, in my opinion, quite obvious to anyone.  Men tend to be larger and stronger.  As such, a man is more likely to cause harm when violent than a woman is.  This does not excuse the women though.  A woman assaulting a man is just as guilty as a man assaulting a woman.  Being larger and stronger does not justify the misappropriate outlook of being more prone to violence.  If women were larger than men, men would be the ones being seriously injured and dying from abuse.  This is not simply my opinion, it is what the actual evidence states.

If anyone actually can point out where I am wrong, I would appreciate the discourse.  However, I do not think I am wrong.

Flaws in arguments from scripture

One of the most obviously fallacious and yet the most common of arguments for theism is the argument from scripture.  This is where a theist attempts to use their scripture to claim that their particular belief system is correct.  It generally goes something like this:  "I know god exists because the bible says he does".  Then you ask "how do you know the bible is correct?". To which the theist responds "because god made the bible".

1:  The most obvious flaw is that it is circular.  It assumes the truth of the bible and the existence of god simultaneously to show the validity of the bible and the existence of god.
2:  All holy scriptures to date have statements that contradict what we know to be true.  Such as the quran has the sun setting in to a pool of muddy water; the bible has a man living in the belly of a fish.  These things are demonstrably inaccurate given what we know about cosmology and biology.  Since the books are shown to be incorrect, they can not use their assumed infallibility to indicate anything.

Another variation of this tactic is to show the truth with in the text as a means to validate the text.  However, this is obviously a meaningless tactic.  There is truth in the stories of King Arthur.  However, those truths in no way indicates that Merlin existed and that magic is real.

Another step further is the revealed truth in scripture argument.  The theist will attempt to use supposedly revealed truths to show that the text was divinely inspired, if not divinely written.  There are a couple of notable flaws in this as well.

1:  It must be demonstrated that the authors would have been incapable of knowing the revealed truth.  This is quite difficult and has never been demonstrated to be the case.
2:  The revealed truth must be clear in its meaning.  If you must take a liberal interpretation then it is not really revealed truth.
3:  Correct speculation has no bearing on the validity of the story.  In the novel Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card written in 1985, Card wrote had two of the characters using a series of fake identities over the internet posting on political forums to sway public opinion and gain popularity.  Half a decade before the first forums of this nature existed, Card was already discussing them.  Does that mean we should get ready for an invasion of alien "buggers"?  Does Star Trek predicting flip cellphones indicate that "warp speed" is a physical reality?  As such, even if the bibles did have unexplained truths in them, it would in no way strengthen the claims that we know not to be true.

Flaws in the Objective Morality argument for god

This has always been an odd argument for god.  Basically it states that with out a moral law giver, there can be no objective morals.  There are objective morals.  Therefore there's a god.

Flaws with this argument:
1:  The main flaw with this argument is that there does not have to be objective morals.
2:  The moral law giver does not have to be a god.  Evolution and/or society can function as the moral law giver.  The drastic shifts in morality over time and in different societies indicates that this is the case.
3:  This would not get you past deism.  There is no way of knowing which, if any, of the roughly 150,000 known religions had it right.

Flaws in the Transcendental Argument for god

The Transcendental Argument for God, commonly known among apologists and anti-apologists as TAG, is a fairly simple argument at its core but can come in a variety of forms.  I will simply address the general argument here.  TAG goes as follows.  With out god, we can not know anything.  We can know things.  Therefore, god exists.

The primary flaw is in the first assumption.  Our brains are a function of evolution.  This can be and has been demonstrated.  Our ability to reason is also not unique to humans.  Most animals can reason to varying degrees.

However, TAG does make a single valid point.  We assume that we are able to learn about our environment; we assume that our group perceptions are a reliable predictor of reality.  However, we believe this because that is what the evidence indicates.  We do not need to assume that our ability to reason is accurate or even correct to notice that it is useful.  Furthermore, to be able to use the TAG argument reasoning must be assumed to be correct to begin with.  Hence this becomes a moot point.

Another error is the assumption that we can know things.  We actually can not say definitively that we know anything.  We make assumptions about knowledge based on our experiences.  If I drop a rock I know that it will fall because all evidence indicates that is what will happen.  However, could I be incorrect?  Of course.  As such, knowledge, in the definitive manner used in TAG, can never be achieved.

Since both assumptions that the conclusion is based upon do not hold up, the conclusion based on those assumptions is unsupported.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flaws in Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager is a very classic and widely used argument by both professional apologists and layman.  It is based on 2 premises.  You lose nothing by believing but risk losing everything by disbelieving.

1:  Belief in a god costs you time and restricts your actions.
2:  There are currently 41,000 active denominations of Christianity alone; most of these are exclusive.  There are an additional 37,000 other active beliefs.  There are also estimated to be over 70,000 extinct religions.  This means that picking a religion at random would give you a 1/148,000 chance of being correct.  That means choosing a religion at random would give you about a 99.9993% chance of being wrong.
3:  It is possible that none of the religions today are correct.  So by choosing a religion today you are suffering the consequences with no chance of reward.
4:  It is possible that god would punish those who hold unwarranted beliefs.
5:  There is no more evidence for god existing than there are leprechauns.  Suggesting that you should act based on this is akin to suggesting you should chase the end of rainbows as there might be a pot of gold at the end.

We know we are alive today.  We do not have any reason to believe that a god exists or that there is a punishment waiting for us for disbelieving.  Even if you assume god does exist and some one has actually discovered the correct belief system, you are sacrificing the quality of life that we have now for a 0.0006% chance of being correct.  The best case scenario is not much better than playing the lotto but rather than spending $3 for a ticket, you are altering your entire life style and beliefs.

Finally, being a believer of any particular faith or an atheist would place you in the exact same position under the logic of pascal's wager.  Believers could choose the wrong belief, be punished for believing, or happen to be rewarded for their belief.  An atheist could be punished for their disbelief or happen to be rewarded for their belief.  So in the end, it is more rational to go with the stance that has no cost to the life that we know we have.  It is only rational to disbelieve.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Flaws of the cosmological argument

The first argument I will be addressing is the cosmological argument.  It basically goes as follows.  Everything must have a cause.  The universe must have a cause.  That cause is god.  The Kalam argument simply adds in an assumed finite limit to time.

1:  Quantum fluctuations do not have causes.  They are created from nothing and go in to nothing.  The first statement is demonstrably wrong.
2:  There's no reason why time can not be infinite.  The argument by theologians and philosophers are simply making the same err as the Zeno paradoxes.
3:  We have no example of nothing as would be the case before existence; nothing can be concluded about the properties of preexistence.
4:  The big bang was a singularity.  We do not know what happened before the big bang.

Assuming the universe was caused:
1:  There's no reason to believe that cause still exists.
2:  There's no reason to believe that cause was conscious.
3:  There's no reason to believe that cause was a being.
4:  There's no reason to believe any specific characteristic about that cause.

Finaly, there's absolutely no rational connection between "the universe had a cause" to "the god of my particular religion exists".

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I am starting this blog primarily as a means to help me codify my arguments against the numerous theistic beliefs.  The posts here are not intended for an audience or to be persuasive.  However, I don't mind discussions/suggestions and the like.

I will be attempting to simply point out the inherent flaws in the arguments for god.  I enjoy watching shows and debates where the theists are shown to be the philosophical dunces that they are.  However, I fail to understand why people let them get away with as much as they do.  Their arguments are, in my opinion, obviously irrational in numerous ways.