Tag Archives: logic

Religion vs Methamphetamines

Got a response on my Religion Promotes Crime page.

Hi, Folks!
We all need to be open-minded and avoid being a bigot and an attitude of a doctrinaire.
As a free-thinker, I believe it’s one’s upbringing, surroundings, mind-frame, outlook and attitude that decides and determines one’s lifestyle and future.
Any Religion, for that matter, is not at all to blamed for all the evils that exists or are committed by individuals. As such, you cannot generalize on any count.
Every Religion, without any exception, teaches and preaches humanitarian values that lead to welfare of mankind and every society.
All Religions’ teachings are ethical and spread moralism.
God’s blessings on Patriarch Abraham, Lord Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Lord Buddha, Lord Zoroaster, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Baha’ Ullah, Lord Nanak Devji, Lord Mahavir!
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Bahaism, all are good Religions, leading you, ultimately, to the same God-Rabb-Elohim-Allah-Khuda-Yazdaan-Bhagwaan-Eshwar-Deo-Dei, all leading us to the same path of peace and propagating humanity.
Please don’t blame the Religions, blame your own misunderstanding and lack of awareness, your mental level, as you are unable to grasp and understand the true meaning and message of the Holy teachings of all Religions.
I shall do a treatise on this subject, later on, in more details.
Hope, for the time being, this shall be a food for thought.
God bless ye all!

And this is my reply:

Free thinkers decide their lifestyle and future based on facts, science, and real-world cause and effect, not on what they’ve been told or what makes them feel comfortable within their culture.

If I wrote an article about methamphetamine and point out that meth users statistically commit more crime, does that make me bigoted toward meth users? No. If I met a meth user and automatically assumed he was a thief, that would be bigotry on my part. I do not do that. I also do not automatically assume every religious person is a criminal. That would be bigotry. But simply pointing out logical cause-and-effect and showing statistics cannot be construed as bigotry. It’s a very manipulative argument that you’ve made, trying to paint yourself as a victim because real-world facts don’t match your world view. I am not under any obligation to ignore reality to make you feel better.

You say, “All Religions’ teachings are ethical and spread moralism.” but notice how you’ve offered not one piece of evidence to support this. Not one statistic about religious individuals, not one example of real-world cause and effect. Not even a personal anecdote. I could just as easily say “meth addiction promotes ethical behavior and moralism. Every meth lab, without exception, provides humanitarian values that lead to welfare of mankind and every society.”
That statement I just made has the exact same validity as yours because neither of us has offered a single piece of evidence.

Paralyzed Without Fear – Benefits of Atheism and Logic

This is the first and only time this has ever happened to me, but a few nights ago I had a very strange occurance. I woke up at about 4:00 AM, in the near pitch-blackness of my bedroom, and found myself paralyzed. I tried to sit up, but couldn’t. I tried to lift an arm, and could not, so I started trying every little part of my body that I could think of, and somehow, nothing was working. My mind and body had been disconnected.

This reminded me of that scene in ET when the kid wakes up to see the alien and can’t move and he tries to scream and his throat is all dry. I thought to myself, that’s what’s happening to me. Somehow, some connections in my brain simply misfired. Since we all got here through evolution, which is basically a system of randomness, naturally, our minds and bodies would be a disorganized and hacked together hodgepodge of different technologies. In the programming world, we call them “kludges”, some code you write that works, but you know it’s not the proper or organized way to do it. Well, if you really study the human mind and body, you will find kludge after kludge after kludge, which somehow all works together (for the most part) due to millions of years of intense QA testing, or as the scientists call it, “natural selection”.

But once in a while, our mind or body hits an unforeseen situation and it just glitches out. As I lay in my bed wondering how long I would be trapped and helpless, I realized this was simply a glitch in my programming and I just sighed internally. Then I thought, you know, if I was a superstitious or religious person, I would be terrified out of my mind right now, and I’d almost say I laughed at the thought, even though I couldn’t make any movements or sound.

Then I heard voices. Whispering.

My first thought was that I was hearing someone upstairs or downstairs talking. I focused, but no, the sound was clearly whispering, coming from somewhere just behind me. It got louder and louder, and I focused on it, trying to make out what the voice was saying.

Is someone playing a prank on me? I thought. One of my buddies broke into my house, gave me a paralyzing drug and is now whispering in my ear to give me a good scare.

No, none of my friends are that creative. It’s just a glitch of the mind.

So as I listened to this whispering, I tried again to move, and could not. My body was frozen. I tried to scream, hoping maybe I could get the neighbors to come down. Or maybe if I just heard some noises from the neighbors it would snap my mind out of this trance. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make a sound.

I thought maybe I could just wait it out, but decided that it would probably be better for me to keep trying, hoping I could find a different perspective on the situation that would force my mind to reload whatever software it uses to control the rest of my body.

But throughout this whole thing, I was thinking in the back of my mind that this would be a completely different situation if I was spiritual or religious. This would be a sign from the devil, or some evil presence trying to steal my soul. A spiritual believer would have been traumatized for days over this, but because I’m an atheist, it’s just another funny story about how evolution did not create a perfect or even logically organized creature.

Then, all of a sudden, something changed in my mind. I can’t put a finger on what it was exactly, I just suddenly knew that I was no longer paralyzed. The voices faded away. I tried moving my arms, and bingo, they worked. Then I tested my legs and they worked. A moment later I was crawling out of bed to walk around my room, making sure my body was back to normal. I went to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat, and that was that.

So that’s what it’s like when you’re an atheist and something scary happens. You don’t get scared unless there’s an actual, logical reason to get scared. I can’t tell you how much of a benefit this has been for me over the years, knowing that I alone command my life and emotions. It breaks my heart to see so many people still living in fear of things they know don’t exist and know could never happen.

Time Travel in a 1928 Chaplin film?

My jaw drops sometimes at the conclusions some people will jump to based on the tiniest piece of “evidence”. Granted, the majority of people don’t jump to time-traveling conclusions, but the fact that there’s enough believers out there that this video becomes so viral is kinda scary. It’s the same as all those people who believed you could use your cell phone to pop popcorn based on a single well-made YouTube video (though I guess that has at least a little scientific plausibility). We’ve seen so many fantasies on TV and been told so many lies about God, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny that we’re desperate to believe in any kind of insanity, or we’re just so confused about reality that we don’t know what to believe.

I mean, seriously, it’s a woman with her hand on her ear. There’s nothing that even resembles a cell phone in the shot, yet people want so desperately to believe, as though our world isn’t exciting enough as it is. It seems like statistically, with all the countless hours of old video out there, we should be seeing even crazier coincidences than this.

This is one thing I really appreciate about my mom when I was a kid. My parents always made it clear that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny weren’t literally real, and every time I came up with a wacky idea (like the time I thought Madonna was talking to me through a cassette tape), my mom would shoot the idea down, thinking of my long-term psychological development instead of my short-term emotions.

Edit: You know, on second thought, I wonder if some folks out there are pulling our legs here. Maybe this is all just a variation on trolling. Someone makes a claim that this video proves time travel and everyone (such as myself) freaks out and writes big long blog posts about how important it is to have a grasp on reality and they’re just laughing at how we’re the ones who actually don’t have a grip because we really think a YouTube clip is gonna make people believe in time travel.

The Magic of Atheism

I stumbled upon this post on a study on faith in hospitals and found it kind of interesting that even the old argument about prayer helping patients in hospitals is not entirely true. That’s pretty crazy, as I always assumed the studies were correct, that there really were statistics showing that prayer helps healing and that it had to do with the connection between the mind and body, but apparently even that is not true, and the study shows that prayer might actually be damaging. It’s funny, that was one of the most common pro-prayer arguments I’ve heard over the years, and none of it was true. Why am I not surprised?

But anyway, that’s not what this post is about, because someone made a comment that I found interesting and important to address:

“One exasperating aspect of reading or watching the atheists’ arguments is that they are so linear, cognitive and left brained. If we were wholly left brained beings, this would make sense but we are not. There is an emotional aspect to us as well as a strong sense of intuition. When we are seriously ill, we do not respond solely with our intellects. We respond with our entire beings.”

He wrote some more in his comment, but this is what I found important, because he’s got some really good points. Atheists do have a tendency to think so linear and left brained, and I have the same frustrations with the way so many other atheists just present cause-and-effects and use logical proofs to try and scientifically discredit the existence of God, as though our lives are just some big math equation. What many atheists need to understand is that for many people it doesn’t matter how true or rational or obvious something is, if it doesn’t make them feel good, they won’t believe it. Period.

But the commenter seemed to be implying that atheists are essentially free of the emotional aspects of life, which I think is a misconception. Atheists tend to be in love with logic and reason. That’s really all it is. We talk about logic and reason all the time, like how a guy in love always talks about his girlfriend, and we seem to relate everything back to that. It doesn’t mean we don’t have everything else that theists appreciate about life, it simply means that our passion for life is directly integrated into our logic and reason, and that brings us more joy than God could.

It might seem foreign and strange for many theists for us to be this devoted to something that on its surface seems so cold and mechanical, but once you start relying on logic and reason you quickly find that it rewards you. It rewards you with success, good fortune, happiness, a sense of self-worth and a reliable sense of safety and security, and, since the commenter mentioned intuition, it also trains our subconscious to be more accurate and make better decisions. It’s hard not to fall in love with something when it brings you so many amazing things, especially for those of us who have given God a serious try and done a comparison.

So this is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog, because I wanted to talk about the human aspect of Atheism. I want to talk about the night I became an Atheist (the same night I became a writer) after reading a novel that made me forget who I was. I want to talk about the joy and poetry of code, the magic of the if statement and for loop and try to communicate the way I feel when I’m using that logic to command the computer, affecting the lives of hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. I want to talk about how amazing, fragile and beautiful this world is knowing that it all came out of chance, that it wasn’t created by anything intelligent, and yet it came out in all these glorious colors, and even though all those colors make perfect logical sense, they are no less amazing–nay, they are far more amazing because they make logical sense and because we have the capacity to understand them.

If our world was created out of unintelligent randomness, just imagine what the human race could accomplish and where we could go from here. That is the true magic of this world. If God were here, what would be the point? Why should we bother when He already created everything?

And I want to talk about how nice it is to have control over your emotions, to know that some irrational paranoia is not going to creep into your mind, to know that if something happens you won’t lose control, that you won’t randomly become depressed and anxious, knowing that you are your own person and you have control over who you are and how you feel.

Churches don’t Preach Faith in God

I’ve thought for a long time that the majority of churches and preachers don’t truly support people having faith in God. Instead they’re looking for people who put a smile on their faces and say that they have faith.

To me, having true faith in God means something like my friend Josh, I remember from long ago who jumped off a bridge because Jesus asked him to prove his faith. No doubt the vast majority of religious leaders, however, would have tried to talk him out of it, saying that it couldn’t actually be God talking to him.

When a religious person needs to cross a road, they do not close their eyes and pray. Instead, they conduct a simple scientific experiment by looking both ways.

Religious individuals may use faith to decide on political issues that don’t directly affect them such as abortion or gay rights, but otherwise, in their day to day lives, the vast majority of religious people use science and logic far more than they use faith to make their decisions.

So what I believe many religious leaders mean by ‘faith’ is not really the idea that you should trust that God has a physical manifestation in your day-to-day life, or even in your life at all, but instead they’re promoting the idea that you should have faith that ‘it will all work out in the end’ and that ultimately there’s a purpose to all this. Ultimately, they’re simply asking us to not be sad, stressed or angry, and remember that we deserve to feel loved. However, this is contradictory to many religious texts that depict agents of God directly interacting with humans and affecting the outcome of events. It’s easy for a person to become confused and hear all those messages about the importance of faith and believe they mean the kind of faith my friend Josh had.

One main problem is that many religious folks don’t realize just how deep some people’s faith really lies, because people so rarely discuss the nitty-gritty process of individual decision-making processes. For example, like I said, most religious individuals when buying a car will test drive and read consumer reports and make an informed, reasonably logic-based decision, but there is that two or three percent who will go to the dealership and buy whatever car happens to speak to them because they believe God will put them in the right vehicle. This is not healthy and I believe religious leaders should be doing more to clarify the differences in types of faith, and reminding people that just because they have faith, doesn’t mean that logic doesn’t have a place in their lives.

Crime is not Logical

For this post, again, the word ‘crime’ is loosely defined to include obvious crimes, and does not include things like marijuana, j-walking or software piracy.

——————

Someone pointed out about my recent article, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime, that I am making an unfair assumption that crime doesn’t pay, therefore assuming that crime is not logical and that logical-minded individuals are less likely to commit it. I’d like to take this opportunity to present my evidence that, with a few exceptions, crimes like murder, rape, burglary and assault, are not logical and are rarely the actions of a logically thinking individual.

First, the vast majority of the population from the western world to African tribes agrees that rape, murder, assault and burglary (or similar forms of personal-property violations depending on their culture) are morally wrong. All these different people from wildly different cultures all came to the same conclusions. This indicates either that non-violence is inherently logical, or that we have a genetic predisposition to viewing these things as immoral. Personally I believe it’s a little of both. Even rapists and murderers tend to agree that rape and murder is morally wrong, as they most likely formed their moral beliefs while thinking logically, but committed their crimes while following their passion, or what some might call ‘faith’.

Some might argue that crime really does pay. Perhaps in some cases, white collar crime does pay, but for the majority of crimes for which people are sent to prison, no they certainly do not pay. I did a blog post a few months ago on a video about crack capitalism that presented some statistics showing that not only do crack dealers on average make less than minimum wage, they also have a shorter life expectancy than people on death row. Considering the sacrifices they’re making, I wouldn’t say it’s paying off for them. The profit/danger ratio is probably a little better for a car thief or something, but it’s still not nearly as good as someone working in an office or even someone working the McDonald’s drive-through. People may be caught up in the fantasy of becoming a rich gangster, but I think the more someone is devoted to logic, the more likely they are to see that they have a significantly better chance at becoming rich and successful in the legitimate world than they do at becoming a rich, successful criminal.

And that’s just talking about the logical profit-danger ratio. The true fighter of crime in our society is guilt. Guilt may be an emotion, but if we look at it logically, we know that we either can’t escape it or we’ll spend precious mental energy trying to escape it. Either way, a life of crime is not going to pay off in an emotionally and spiritually satisfying life.

Then there’s the social aspect of being a criminal. If you look at it logically, being a criminal will not get you as much respect in society, will add stresses between friends and family, unwanted drama, etc.

So if our ultimate goal is happiness and a fulfilling life, crime just does not pay on a purely logical basis.



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
About My Page, 22 Ways

Awesome Graduation Speech

I’m a little late putting this up because I wanted to make some more comments, but decided just to put it up anyway. Someone posted this on FaceBook and I thought I should post a link to this High School graduation speech that I thought wonderfully expressed many of my frustrations with the educational system in the United States. I wish we’d had a speech like this at my graduation.

A couple of my favorite quotes from the speech:

doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

Here’s the full speech: http://blog.swiftkickonline.com/2010/07/valedictorian-speaks-out-against-schooling-in-graduation-speech.html

Thoughts on Dual Perspectives and the Hoarders TV Show

I watched a couple episodes of Hoarders the other day, the documentary show about those people who refuse to throw things away and find themselves buried in trash, and found myself rather shocked. I didn’t know this psychological issue was so common. If I remember correctly, they claim that it affects 3 million people. That’s more than what the experts claim is the number of people in America addicted to cocaine. It’s strange that hoarding isn’t a criminal act, even though, judging from the show, it can destroy people’s lives and be a detriment to everyone around them, just like cocaine… well, okay, I guess it is a criminal act once it becomes ridiculous, but why do we not have a Partnership for a Hoarding Free America?

Anyway, the concept I was getting to relates to this one individual on the show: a 21 year old guy who lived with his alcoholic dad, both refusing to throw anything away. This kid had two interesting psychological hangups. The first was that he felt that every little thing was a memory that represented something spiritual. If someone bought him a soda, for example, he would feel like he was insulting that person if he threw away the can when he was done with it.

The other hangup was that he believed that his dog’s life was relying on the doghair that was accumulating on his floor. He truly believed that if he vacuumed up all that hair, his dog would die.

Normally when people have wacky spiritual perspectives, they tend to make excuses for them, come up with arguments to try and justify their logic or come up with distractions. This kid, however, seemed totally aware and willing to admit that he was crazy. He knew logically that there was no conceivable way vacuuming dog hair could be killing his dog, yet he truly believed it. It was like his emotional and logical brains were totally separate, yet still aware of each other. The normal logical cause and effect of the world held no sway over his beliefs, yet he clearly still had an understanding of that logic.

Dual perspectives. He truly believed that cleaning up was necessary and beneficial, and at the same time, truly believed the exact opposite.

Now, my belief is that this type of dual perspective is not nearly as uncommon or crazy as most people believe. The unique thing about this case is that the person recognized it.

But you can see the same kind of dual perspective in most religious individuals who say things like ‘only God can heal’ and ‘all things are possible with God’, but the moment they get sick they run to the doctor, searching for someone of science instead of faith.

It’s interesting, however, that the whole idea of dual perspectives is rarely used consciously. It seems like the idea could be used for balancing motivation with failure preparedness. If you have a difficult task, you want to be able to prepare for failure, but at the same time you want the confidence that comes from believing you can never fail. Why can’t you just believe both? One part of your brain prepares for failure while the other remains separated and totally confident of success. It’s an interesting idea that I’ve used over the years with varying success, but still it seems strange that it’s so difficult and rare to implement this consciously, when our subconscious minds seem riddled with it.

20 Logical Fallacies

I just found this page listing 20 logical fallacies examples at http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx and thought I should share. It basically lists off all the different specific ways, that human beings–myself included–are morons. Reading through this list I can see numerous examples of flawed logic in just about any argument I’ve been in, and more frighteningly in a large number of arguments used by legislators. This kind of human fallacy is one of the main reasons I’m an anarchist; because these psychological processes can distort our large-scale social perspectives as easily as they can on the small scale, but when we have these fallacies, the damage that can be done by a large organized group with laws and police is far greater than the damage that can be done by a few individuals.

I wanted to point out a few examples of the fallacies on this list and how they have been used against me and some of my political positions. (I’m not going to list any religious arguments because that would be too easy.) (I’m also going to conveniently neglect to point out the times where I can’t help but revert to these fallacies.)

The most common one for me as an anarchist is the Straw Man, or “Arguing against a position which you create specifically to be easy to argue against, rather than the position actually held by those who oppose your point of view.” This one happens to me whenever I say that I don’t support police, criminal justice or putting people in jail. Most people will immediately start arguing about how horrible some folks are and how much suffering certain kinds of crime can cause. Their ultimate goal seems to be to convince me that crime is bad, as though I just announced that we should all start killing and raping each other because it’s fun. I think deep down they know what I really mean: police, prisons and criminal justice are counter-productive to our commonly held goal of crime prevention. However, they have no facts, figures or examples that support the idea that police are preventing crime (this isn’t their fault of course, because this is such a commonly held belief that no one bothers to collect facts and figures), so they have no choice but to go to logical fallacies to make their arguments.

Another interesting one is the Slippery Slope, or believing that to hold a position, you must hold the extreme of that position. Now, I have another very unpopular opinion that’s very important to me that I might not have blogged about yet, and that is my belief that it is morally wrong to create children until we  have solved the world hunger issue, the overpopulation issue, and when there are no more orphans on the streets. In the past, people have argued that my opinion would cause the destruction of humanity because everyone would forever believe that making babies is wrong, regardless of the situation.

My personal favorite, Tu quoque, “an attempt to justify wrong action because someone else also does it.” This is the core psychological motivation for police and military. Whenever I argue that these things destroy people’s lives and cause misery to everyone, including innocent bystanders, one of the most common arguments I get is “Well, yeah, but those other people did horrible things too.”

What is a web browser? What is a car?

Some time ago I received an email sent to the development team in my office linking to a highly disturbing YouTube video created by Google. This is it below:

“Less than 8% of people who were interviewed today knew what a browser was.” This is in Times Square, and most of the people in the video seemed to be internet users.

This is equivalent to 92% of the people driving down the freeway not knowing what a car is.

Many of these people have kids on the internet, or are banking on the internet or are voting on technology related issues. Our computer systems are being designed around the 92% of the population who are wandering blindly. Imagine how efficiently things could run if users were expected to have the same basic education we expect from automobile drivers.

Imagine being a 16 year old going on your first drive with your dad and he sits down in the passenger seat and says “Okay, now put your windshield wiper in the gas tank and your foot on the motor oil,” and have him expect you to understand what he means.

If you know the difference between a web browser and search engine and the difference between a CPU, a hard drive and a computer, do me a favor. Next time someone asks you what kind of car you drive, tell them AM/PM or Chevron and make them explain the difference between a gas station and a car. Maybe then they will understand our pain. 🙂

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about here’s a basic explanation of the difference between a search engine and web browser.