Monday, May 31, 2010

What's my title?

I think one annoying thing about blogging is trying to find an appropriate title for every blog. Sometime I just cant think of one that suites the blog's content or I come up with the title first and then in the blog I end up migrating away from the topic in the title.

One thing I regret is not blogging before and throwing away my all journals. I should have wrote them online so they'd be up today. I also should have written more about my life growing up and my experiences instead of just about all my anger and fears. I guess that's what was on my mind.

I like to read memoirs of people about their times growing up and of the experiences during the times and places they take a place in. I like of those movies that take place years ago. I grew up in the 1990s and should have documented more of my experiences. I witnessed a dramatic demographic shift in my neighborhood from being mostly white Irish/Polish to turning Puerto Rican, then Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Asian. The Irish kids that I knew growing up started leaving one by one during the 90s. Many of them moved out to Long Island. I remember hearing their parents complain about how the schools here were terrible and talks of moving to nicer (i.e. whiter) areas were frequent as the immigrant population began moving in from Asia and Latin America. There were Puerto Ricans here as long as I can remember, but even they too started moving out of the neighborhood to the suburbs.

I used to think that Queens was getting bad. Now 20 years later that couldn't be further from the truth. White people are moving back into the area as the gentrification has spread from Manhattan. Crime keeps dropping and quality of life keeps rising. I hardly ever worry about crime anymore. I wonder if all those Irish kids who moved out of the neighborhood years ago wish they were back where they grew up. There are benefits to living close to the city. One is not having a car. Another is being able to walk to the supermarket and stores for what you need. The most important benefit is being close to the entertainment of the big city and not having to live in a dinky boring suburb.

Seeing all the positive changes to my area has made me realize what a great asset I have right over my head. I don't think anyone realized it back in the 90s when people were still worried about crime and were thinking of moving out of the city. I'm surprised that my mom didn't move out somewhere else. She grew up in the suburbs and moved to the city, which is the opposite of what most people do.

Seeing all these elements change in my short life has made me think of what type of change will take place in another 20 years. I imagine New York getting cleaner and safer with a renewed interest in urban living keeping the city well groomed and maintained. I hope you don't have to be rich to live in New York in 20 years. There must be a future for working class people.

I should have documented my early 20s more and wrote about my party years hanging out at drug spots, smoking weed, taking E and drinking 40s of malt liquor. A drug dealer once told me that he was afraid I was writing about all the shit I saw him and others doing and was going to write an expose about it. I really should have done that and I regret not doing it. Maybe now I can write about what I remember, but it won't be in the detail that I could've wrote at the time it happened.

This blog is not about personal shit. I try to refrain from writing about the petty personal issues in my life. It's about the big shit. The shit that effects all of us: politics, religion, and science. That's way more interesting than any girlfriend issues.

The changing demographics of New York and its history are interesting. I've always noticed change. It also relates to our contemporary economic issues, which is another topic as serious as a heart attack.

I think I could live in my neighborhood forever. I'd really like to move but if I had to live here for the rest of my life it wouldn't be that bad. I'm so used to it. I guess I am really attached to my roots. It's always home sweet home when I return. There's nothing like the feeling you get by being in the comfort of your own home. There's no where else I feel more comfortable.

I have so many great memories growing up here. All the people I knew growing up are gone, they left the old neighborhood years ago. I kind of like that, because no one in my neighborhood knew me when I was young. There is always this constant turn over rate in my community. It would be depressing to grow up and have to live with the same people for your whole life. I wonder if I would have kept in touch with with my old friends. Several of them I wasn't even talking to anymore when they moved out. So them moving away might have prevented some awkward moments had they continued to live on my block. Phew.

Hopelessly Addicted to the Internet

I'm am completely addicted to the internet. I can't imagine life without it. What did we ever do before it existed? I would've loved having the things the internet provides now back when I was a kid, and not just the porn. I've always loved geography and programs like Google Earth, which I can spend hours on allow me to see in 3D the Earth and all its features. Not only that but they have the Moon and Mars too! YouTube is also another addiction of mine. I can spend hours watching movies and documentaries and religious debates. Wikipedia as a source of information is amazing, I can spend hours following a trail of endless hyperlinks before I realize I just spent the past 8 hours on it and now the Sun rising.

Well I know it's pathetic but at least I don't waste my time playing those stupid Facebook games. I'm not a gamer at all. I stopped playing video games years ago. They just bore me. I like information. My breain is full of useless information that doesn't make me any money. I have to find a way to capitalize on my obsessions. I need a plan. Another problem is that I can get very lazy. Sitting on my ass for hours in front of the computer, I am a couch potato.

What can one do in this era of 24 hour entertainment and information. In the old days of television you had to wait for your show to come on to see it. Now you can pretty much watch whatever you want anytime you want as many times as you want. It just never ends. I can't help myself sometimes. Trying to study or do school work becomes impossible when anything you want on the internet is just a few clicks away. I remember just a few years ago I was able to easily sit down and read a text book for hours. Now that is becoming nearly impossible. Will I have to resort to disconnecting my internet connection? The internet today is a necessity and not a luxury. I need it. I need it like a crackhead needs crack.

The Dick-tator

What would you do if you inherited the throne to a kingdom and became its absolute ruler, with the power to do anything you wanted? If you don't like someone, you can just have them killed. Don't like a whole group of people? You can have them all killed as well or sent to labor camps. You could force everyone to worship you. There would never be any consequences for anything you do. You have absolute power. Do you think you'd be capable of something heinous? Something that Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il has done?

I thought about this recently and I believe that almost anyone, if given the power of an absolute ruler, such as a dictator or a king, could be capable of committing heinous acts against other people. I mean, we've all had times when we wished certain people were dead. We've all wished horrible things on certain people. We've all wanted to silence certain people from saying things we didn't want them to say. And sometimes, some of us entertain the idea of sadism just for the fuck of it.

Most of us don't have the power to make these things happen, but what if we did? Take any ordinary human being and give them the power to do what ever they want with no consequences whatsoever, and I think most of them would be capable of doing the same types of atrocities that Stalin and Hussein and Il have all done. So what I'm asking is this: Is there anything really different about any of the previously mentioned dictators and what they were capable of, from what any other ordinary human being could be capable of in their situation?

That's a tough one to answer definitively. Think about it. What would you do if you had the power to do anything you wanted?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Manhattan



I love New York City. It's my hometown and the place of my birth. I'm so lucky to live and have grown up here. I know that if I was born somewhere else I would want to live here. To me New York represents the ideal urban metropolis. I mean when you think of a city, and of what a city should look like, with tall skyscrapers and busy streets, you think of New York. The center of New York is undoubtedly Manhattan. Manhattan is what people think of when they think of New York. Some people even think New York City is Manhattan and that the 4 other boroughs are perhaps its suburbs. I love Manhattan and have always wanted to live there, perched atop one of its thousands of high rise apartments. I'd love to wake up and see panoramic views of the cityscape, from within the city out my windows everyday. All the glittering towers, looking like a maze of concrete and glass.

To get the real experience of living in New York one has to live in Manhattan. There are parts of Queens and Staten Island and even the Bronx that feel like suburbia. Brooklyn has the closest feeling to Manhattan in terms of urbanization, although parts of the Bronx come close. Downtown Brooklyn is like the downtown of a mid-sized city. It would be the 4th largest city in the U.S. if it were an independent city. It's true that Manhattan overshadows the other boroughs just as how its many modern skyscrapers overshadow the stubby older buildings. I love the architecture of Manhattan. I've always loved skyscrapers, and if you like tall buildings Manhattan is got to be in your radar. It has historic art deco skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, it has the simple boxy international styles of the post-war years, as well as the post modern styles like the new Bank of America tower. The diversity of Manhattan's skyscrapers, with textbook examples of every architectural era being represented, are among its best feature. Other cities like Hong Kong have many nice modern high rises but lack the older art deco style ones. New York may not even be the high rise capital of the world any more, as other cities like Sao Paulo and Hong Kong have constructed more than New York in recent decades, but that doesn't bother me, I still love New York's skyline the best.


I love how Manhattan is an island physically separated from the rest of New York and the world for that matter. Entering it from the outside is a thrilling experience. The experience of driving into midtown across the 59th Street Bridge is one to remember, and it never ceases to amaze. At once you are transported in the heart of "the city" surrounded by skyscrapers everywhere, noise, traffic, pollution, the dense urban jungle that is Manhattan. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, one of the characters describes entering into Manhattan from the Queensboro Bridge, "The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world."

Few other cities compare to New York. I went to Chicago years ago. It felt like a smaller mini version of New York. It doesn't have the urban density that Manhattan has. Its streets aren't as crowded as NYC's are, and they and are deserted at night even downtown unlike in Manhattan whose streets are almost always busy. There wasn't the vibrant street life that New York has. Other cities I've been to like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, all feel like small towns compared to New York. I mean. L.A. is a giant suburb.

Every American city has a patch of skyscrapers in their downtown areas, but in most cities once you go a few blocks right outside of the downtown business district, you find yourself in suburbia with houses and backyards. Most cities don't have that gradual transition from the CBD to residential high rise apartments, then to suburban houses. There aren't any residential houses on Manhattan(actually there are a hand full way up town near East 217th street), it's virtually all apartments. The few exceptions to this are Gracie Mansion (the official residence of the Mayor) and a few other historic houses. The areas in the outer boroughs near Manhattan are dense with some high rises, and gradually turn into brownstones and then houses as you proceed outward. Some areas within NYC look just like suburbia. I love how within the limits of NYC you have the dense urban jungle of Manhattan, the quiet suburban-like streets of neighborhoods like Forest Hills, and parks that if you didn't know any better you'd think you were in the country.





New York City a city of 8.3 million people, comprising 468 square miles, considered Alpha + world city, it's the secular metropolis, financial capital of the America, capital of the World. Sure there are bigger cities, with taller buildings but none have the world cultural significance that New York does. I get happy just thinking about New York. I also get home sick being away from it too long. I love the geographic layout of the city. It makes it distinct from other cities as it is an archipelago, where as most cities are either landlocked and bisected by a river, or pressed directly up against a coast. We have a "midtown" in addition to our "downtown" that serves as a downtown. There's nothing typical about New York, even its geography.

I can't afford to experience many of the things that rich NYers do. I've never been to the Metropolitan opera House, I've never ate diner in the Rainbow Room, or the Russian Tea House, never went on a carriage ride in Central Park, never went ice skating in Rockefeller Center, never did a lot of things the rich do regularly. NYC is a whole other city if you're rich. It's an incredible playground. So many people want to live here. I meet people all the time from all over America and the world who want to live in the exciting big city. That's why its so expensive to live here. Its kind of scary when I think about one day I might not be able to afford to live in the very city I was born in. New York might become a city for the rich with little to no working class who will be pushed out to the periphery. This is scary. My dream of living in a nice high rise will be only a dream. It's so expensive to live in one. $2000 a month for a tiny studio. That sucks, but people are willing to pay for it. Supply and demand baby. Either way I'll always have New York in my dreams...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The problem Theists have with our origins and my take on it

Many Theists have a big problem with the idea of life on Earth starting out in the primordial soup and muck billions of years ago. They say it degrades life especially human life, to think that it came from pools of water and perhaps might have initiated with a spark of lightening. They instead, like to think we were created by God in his image, purposely made separate from all the other creatures.

Well besides the evidence that we did evolve from early microbial life in the primordial soup billions of years ago I say that our origins make no difference about what we are today. Even if we did evolve from simple life forms, other primates, that makes no difference to the value of a human life, and what we are capable of. We're still human beings, we still have a conscience, we're still capable of making moral and ethical actions, and are still faced with all the same problems we face today as if their were no deity: how do we create and sustain a just society?

Think about this on the human individual level. We all like to think that we were conceived in a loving marriage between a married man and woman. However many of us weren't. Some of us are the products of one night stands, others complete accidents. But whether we were conceived in a loving marriage or are the products of a rape, it makes no difference to the value of our lives. We're still a human beings, still capable of making moral decisions (unless your mentally handicapped), our lives have no less value as human beings regardless of how we are conceived. It's as if to say that a person born from a marriage is worth more and is better than a child born out of wedlock. That's absurd and would contradict Christian morale. So whether or not we came from the primordial soup or were handcrafted by a deity makes no difference in what we are today: we are human beings.

We Need More Atheist Debaters

From watching dozens or maybe hundreds of debates about religion and evolution I've come to the conclusion that we need better Atheist debaters. Many of the religious debaters are ministers or bishops, or pastors who speak in public to large audiences for a living and in effect, they are very good communicators. They know how to make jokes and use examples to get their point across. The Atheist debaters on the other hand, with the exception of a handful, are mostly scientists or biologists who are not professional public speakers. They might be professors and lecture their students but it's not in a debate form. They are often timid, and don't show personality in their presentations when compared with the Theist debaters they go up against.

The problem with Christopher Hitchens is that he is not a scientist or a biologist and therefore cannot go into the detail that is needed when making an argument for the cosmological origins of our universe, life and evolution. Many scientists who can don't have the wit and way with words that Hitchens has. This has been a problem. There needs to an Atheist debater who is a wordsmith like Hitchens and possesses the scientific knowledge that Dawkins and many other experts in that area have.

I was thinking maybe I could step into the ring, and become an Atheist debater. I can give one heck of a power point presentation. I'd like to consider this as a possibility. Point being made, we need better and more good quality Atheist debaters.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Response to "5 Questions Every Intelligent Atheist MUST Answer"



I came across this video on YouTube, my second home, a while ago and I want to now go ahead and answer the questions asked by it. The video asks the Atheist some tough questions that its creator has already came to the conclusion to in his or her mind that its answers prove there is a God. It is a little tough because the guy in the video asks 5 questions for each of the 5 questions he asks and he makes points to back up his questions. So they aren't just simple one line questions and aren't designed for simple one line answers.

1. When it comes to the "God of the gaps" argument that Atheist's accuse Theists of: Aren't Atheists using chance in the exact same way that we accuse Christians of using God, hence "God of the gaps?" Instead of God of the gaps are we guilty of chance of the gaps? Chance can be invoked to explain anything. Is it illegitimate to take an event and then propose a whole bunch of probabilistic resources because otherwise chance would be implausible?


So this question is relating to the gaps in the theory of evolution. Yes, the fossil record isn't 100 % complete, we don't have every transitional fossil found linking every single species that ever lived. So are we Atheists applying pure chance in between every gap even though the chances seem astronomical in between? First off, this is a Christian who doesn't believe in evolution. I am happy to say that most Christians believe in evolution today and this is considerable progress. So we Atheists no longer have to spend hours debating the theory of evolution. Many Theists still argue that God was still guiding the path of evolution to get it around some of the tougher hurdles. Some believe there was unguided evolution from the first single celled organism (that was created by God of course).

The problem some people have with evolution is that they take the end product of a linage of evolution of species, such as a frog, or a horse, or a human, and they ask "what are the chances that this frog, horse or human just came to be like this through random variation and natural selection?" What they often fail to see is that if chance was a little different, or if environmental factors were different it would have evolved into another species and would not be a frog, horse or even a human being. There's nothing in evolution that says the species that exist today have to be the species that exist. There could have been other ones. Atheists don't believe human beings were destined to exist. Small changes in natural events of the past could have doomed our evolution and we wouldn't be here. If it can't adapt it can't survive.

If we were to have attributed God to the early gaps in some of the fossil records of the theorized evolution of certain species, we would have had to discard God, when we found the transitional species. There will always be a gap, because we will never have every single generation, but as you find more and more transitions you end up with more and more gaps between the transitions. If we apply God in between all the new gaps and then find more transitional fossils to fill it in, then you can see filling every gap with God starts to become moronic.

No, I don't think that we are using chance the same way as Theists are using God. If the fossil record indicated that Biblical creation was true and that all species started on the same day instead of them falling in a hierarchical pattern according to the layers of the Earth's surface with simple organism at the bottom and complex ones near the top, your belief would've been validated. To suggest otherwise would suggest that either God is playing tricks on us with the fossil record to test our faith, or that there is a world wide conspiracy among scientists purposely lying to everyone.

2. Why should there be something instead of nothing? The world seems to have been fixed somehow to make life possible. Life bears some kind of a mark of intelligent design. Lastly the world has something called "Moral Order." Why should it?


Well, I am not a scientist, I wish I were, but I can't answer this question detailed enough the way say, Lawrence Krauss can, or Stephen Hawking can. Scientists are currently working on proving how something can come from nothing via the new giant particle collider in Geneva, Switzerland. We know the universe is 13.72 billion years old and that it is expanding, faster and faster everyday. We have to understand the mysteries surrounding dark matter and dark energy, which makes up the majority of the mass in the universe. We are nearing the answers to the deepest mysteries of the origin of our universe.

Here is a video by scientist Lawrence Krauss explaining how we can get a universe from nothing:



In the video Dr. Krauss argues that we live in a flat universe and that the universe's total energy is zero. This is due to the power of gravity canceling out the total matter in the universe. A universe with a total energy of zero can only result in a universe the results from nothing. He says "the laws of physics allow a universe to begin from nothing. You don't need a deity. You have nothing, zero total energy and quantum fluctuations can produce the universe."

The fine tuning argument never bothered me. Of course there should be fine tuning, there is life, there is matter, and heavier elements. If the universe wasn't fine tuned for life, and yet life still existed in defiance of that, I would say that that would make a supernatural deity more plausible.

Finally, life is full of examples of bad design or unintelligent design. We all carry junk DNA that is essentially useless and taking up space. It is a leftover from our evolutionary past. Life appears exactly the way it would if evolution by natural selection were true. The DNA of species falls into a hierarchical pattern from one to the next exactly the way it would if they evolved from one another. People are capable of designing better species than the supposed designer in the sky. Think about all our aches and pains. Of course the Christian believes God purposely made these bad design flaws as punishment for Adam and Eve's sins, even to the animals who didn't take part in the original sin. Christians believe we are essentially being punished for the sins of others. So I guess at the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit, all the design flaws just arranged themselves at once by God's will, including the design flaws in the planets, stars and universe too. You can go ahead and believe that if you want, but you cannot persuade me to.

3. Where do you get your morals from? Atheists say naturalistic forces mold certain behavior that we call moral behavior which simply functions to allow the organism to exist and continue to survive. Actually, not the organism, but the species. Because in some cases it requires sacrificing the individual organisms so that the larger species can survive. You must admit this is a huge problem for the Atheistic world. view. Morality is "prescriptive" not "descriptive." If it is normative, talks about how we ought to behave and the evolutionary description of moral behavior doesn't engage that very fundamental element of morality then it hasn't explained it and it still has to be explained.

I just finished a blog about morality but may not have addressed these specific questions. I get my morals from the family I was raised in, the society that my parents were raised in, the society I was exposed to when I was away from my family, and the cumulative intellectual and moral buildup from humanism, the enlightenment, philosophers and great thinkers, the consequences of wars, evolutionary biology and yes man-made religion. The world's religions today appear exactly the way they would if religion was man-made. Yes, our consciousness is the product of evolutionary biology, however, it allows us to make informed decisions that work against the survival of the fittest mechanism. We can go out of our way to help a stranger even with no expectation of it ever being reciprocated just for the sake of committing a positive act for a stranger. The act alone might make one feel good. One might wish to receive help in the same situation from a stranger. That's all one needs to commit a moral act. To say that one needs a God to help a stranger takes away all that we have evolved morally and the generosity of that individual.

Morality is not a huge problem for the Atheistic world, it only is for the closed-minded. I ask a Christian, is it morally wrong for a nine year old girl to be married to a 40 year old man? They often say yes. Then I ask where in your holy book does it say that a girl that young cannot be married to an older man? No where! It was common during biblical times for young girls to be married to older men, often without the young girl's consent. But if it is wrong now, why wasn't it wrong then? If Christian morals are absolute then if it is wrong now, it should have been wrong when Jesus walked the Earth. Maybe it was right then and still is now, and that we are wrong for forbidding it now? Hmm. Christians, as well as other Theists have a problem here. Atheists don't. In biblical times life expectancy was about 35. Middle aged was 15, which was when many people got married. Today it is about 80, and middle aged is about 40. So it makes sense that people often get married later in life now. Arranged marriage to underage girls in my eyes are still wrong. Christians don't think so. Oh wait, most of them do actually, and that's because of the advances in scientific understanding of biology, and contributions from secular and religious humanists on morality. In other words, morality evolved due to advances in understanding way passed that which we knew in biblical times. If you are going to decide upon and agree with modern morality, that contradicts the fundamental morality of your faith, then please don't ask me where I get my morals from. It's the same place you got the morals that you believe in that contradict what your God says in your holy book that you are ordered to believe is right.

4. How did morals evolve? Here's the problem: There is something in us that is self consciously aware of the process of evolution, that understands that the goal of evolution is - survival of our own species- and instructs us through our conscience to fulfill the optimal conditions for that survival. Consider two cavemen in neighboring villages. One kills the other in cold blood. We're being asked to believe that he feels guilt because he realizes such an act ultimately undermines his own survival status. How? In the animal kingdom killing the opposition seems to secure just the opposite. It just makes no sense what so ever.

Continuing on morality here, let's look at how morals evolved. Look at what is right and wrong in the Bible and then the Qur'an. Look at what was right and wrong in the 1800s, then the 1950s, then look at what is right and wrong today. We are evolving towards a society where everyone, despite their status as a minority, receives a certain level of respect and dignity that they didn't have before. Some parts of the world are years behind this, and this is mostly due to a belief in God not the lack of it. As to the survival of ones own species, in our case, us homosapiens, we have to realize that evolution doesn't always equip every individual, or even every entire species with the attributes necessary for their survival. Nature is very indifferent to the pain and suffering of the creatures it produced through evolution. 99 % of all the species that every lived on Earth have gone extinct. Nature didn't even blink when it all happened, because nature doesn't think. We may very well be equipped with mechanisms that will destroy ourselves, and we already have the capacity to do it. Maybe the reason why the universe seems devoid of intelligent life is that whenever an intelligent species arises, it destroys itself.

Considering the two cavemen scenario. I don't expect the caveman who killed the other one to necessarily feel remorse. Some people are true sociopaths and feel little to no remorse for their actions. Some people are so severely mentally handicapped that they cannot tell a right action from a wrong one. Where does God's design fit in here? These people are designed incapable of making moral decisions and are they therefore, exempt from God's judgment? If they aren't, that would indicate an extremely sadistic God who designs some of his creatures incapable of moral decisions and then judges them on their moral decisions anyway.

Nature and biology have a way of self correcting. Let's take murder for example. A society that allows everyone to kill whenever they wanted, would destroy itself. If no one refrained from their savage impulses, there wouldn't be any moral order. All social species have moral order. Even Lions have a code of conduct that they respect among each other. If those rules are broken, the Lion is often killed or forced to leave the pride. A society of people that disliked warfare would attempt to negotiate ways around disagreements that avoid war with societies it had disputes with. We're still in that process in that we are still evolving towards an ideally humane society, but just look at how far we've come. Look at Europe up until WW2. There were horrible, bloody wars constantly every couple of decades or so. Then, WW2 was so horrific, and left such a death toll, that European nations decided afterward that this cycle has to stop, and since WW2 ended there has been a lot less conflict in Europe because of diplomatic negotiations. This is from our moral evolution towards a non-violent society. We have progress to be made but we're getting there. Killing your enemy often assures that your survival will be more probable, because once you kill your enemy you can take his property (and virgin daughters as the God of the old testament and Qur'an suggests). So I disagree with the question, in stating that the caveman who killed undermines his own survival status. It is our capacity to not kill that is the goal of our moral evolution.

5. Can nature generate complex organisms, in the sense of originating it, when previously there was none? Intelligence leaves behind a characteristic or trademark or signature. Something specific and complex by nature has to be contingent and not necessarily complex and therefore not readily repeatable by chance. If I shoot an arrow at the wall, then paint a bull's eye around it, I'm imposing a patten after the fact. On the other hand, if the bull's eye was there first and then I shoot the arrow into it I know it was by design. Nature is blind, and everything else is designed, intelligently. Why? So, time and chance, plus something coming out of nothing, morality evolving, and then suddenly we're hear, observers, apart from everything else in nature.

DNA is often said to be so complex that it couldn't have just popped out of nowhere. Information, creationists say, cannot arise from randomness. The first single celled organism was probably not based on DNA but something much simpler, and DNA must have evolved from more simple forms of it. Scientists think RNA was the messenger of the earliest biological coded information. I wish I were a biologist to be able to explain this more and in detail. This is a question critiquing evolution again for which the science about it is pretty sound and accepted by a great deal of Christians.

I think Christians are the ones shooting the arrow and painting the bull's eye around it. They think theyalready have their answers. They all come from the Bible. Then they look for evidence that supports what they already know to be true instead of looking for evidence and determining what is true from it. Many things can happen from pure chance, even complex things. My existence comes from chance. There's no reason I had to have been born. The chances I was conceived were about one in 100 million, since that's how many sperm cells a man releases in every ejaculation. Only one sperm cell can create me, all the others would have created different unique individuals. My parents had to have been born in order for me to have been born and their chance of being born was about the same as mine, one in 100 million. And so were their parents, and their parent's parents. And on and on and on going back thousands of generations. So if you were to calculate the chance of me existing and writing this blog right now as you're reading it, it is astronomical to say the least. And yet I exist. Wow a miracle! Or is it just chance? Someone was going to be born, it happened to be me. I see the human species the same way, we don't have exist, but in the natural selection process of evolution no matter how crazy the odds are something will end up existing. I think it's foolish to ask what the chances were of that species existing. It's like asking "why did
that person win the lottery. Someone was going to win it and it happened to be that person. Actually someone doesn't always win every time but I think you know what I mean.

Finally, theists have no problem believing in God just "existing" without a cause. How could something, infinitely more complex than the universe not need any explanation at all for existing, but the universe, which is infinitely less complex, does? It seems to me theist have dug themselves into their own conundrum. Isn't it more probably for the universe to begin existing without a creator, than for an infinitely more complex being to just always exist, and not require its own God to create him? Ah yes, the infinite regression problem, how do you get around that theists?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I think I found my reason for living

I want to spread the word of Atheism to the world. I want Atheism to dominate the world. I have faith that it eventually will. As long as people around the world receive a proper science education they will see the light, and there in the light they will see that there was no God hiding in the darkness. I should have been doing this for years, but I was ignorant. I want to be a scientist and aid in the advancements and discoveries that will prove Atheism to all those who deny it.

Morality and the fascination of it

What is morally right or wrong? This is a question I've been thinking of a lot lately. When you think of morality you have to bring in religion to the picture. The two go hand in hand. I've already gotten to the point that we get some of our morality from religion, but that really means we get it from ourselves since religion is man-made. The issue I have is over moral relativism, and moral absolutism. This is what theists accuse atheists of not being able to posses: absolute moral truths. If morality is man-made, then it is all a matter of opinion. What is right and wrong is relative to the individual making it.

Well this is a deep subject that philosophers have been arguing for thousands of years, and surely for many more to come. I've been thinking long and hard on this, and I will continue developing my moral beliefs for my entire life, sharpening them as I age with grace. I don't believe in total moral relativism. That would be foolish. Total moral relativity to the individual opens up all kids of horrible scenarios. Look at what we consider right and wrong in the U.S. and look at what is considered right and wrong in the Middle East, or parts of Africa. It shockingly differs quite often. I'm still developing my morality on what is right and wrong. When it trickles down into the little things it becomes relative. For example, social customs in different cultures. In parts of the Middle East it is offensive to expose the bottom of your shoes to others, which is why many Middle Eastern men sit cross-legged like women do here. Is that morally wrong there? Female circumcision or female genital mutilation as others call it is still practiced in parts of east and northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. Is it morally right over there and wrong in the west? Who is right on this issue, and whoever is right, do they have the right to impose their beliefs on the others?

This is an issue the U.N. has undertaken, and international human rights organizations. I personally believe FGM is morally wrong but its practitioners cite the Qu'ran as a source of its sanction by the prophet Mohammad who allowed it to happen but never said it was mandatory. The fact that any parts of a person's genitals should be cut off to make the person behave better is to me if you believe it's a covenant with God or a recommendation, a flaw in God's design. Why would God give women a clitoris if it needs to be cut off to prevent her from being promiscuous? Is the clitoris an add-on in God's design, that can be uninstalled if not wanted or needed? Or, is God just having fun by creating parts on our bodies that he then orders us to have cut off?

FGM is an issue that is often cited as a moral issue in the world where we have two opposing parties who feel they each have the right answer about it. It is an issue that makes me feel moral relativism is impractical. If it is wrong here it is wrong there. I think the long and arduous road to the present day morality and humanism we find in most Western cultures is what we'd expect if morality was indeed man-made. There seems to be some biological and evolutionary morals that have become ingrained in us. Incest for example has negative biological consequences, it can lead to disease and genetic disorders that create weaker immune system responses to germs. This is why incest is morally wrong, even most animals don't do it. Killing and warfare is wrong, because the death of many loved ones with have a negative affect on your dependency on them for hard times. But what about killing is self-defense? Or revenge? Is killing ever justified? According to Christianity you're suppose to love your enemy and do good to them. So for a true Christian it is never sanctioned. To me killing is only ever truly justified in self-defense.

I was reading the book What Every Christian Should Know About Islam by Ruqaiyyah Waris Masqsood. In it, it tells what morals Muslims believe in general according to traditional Islamic beliefs. It says that in Islam, Muslims are against lenders charging outrageous interest to the people they lend money to. This is an egregious practice by the world bank organizations, credit card companies, and student loan providers to cheat people out of money who is often end up paying double or more of what they originally borrowed due to high interest rates. In the book it said that in Islamic beliefs there should be no interest at all. I agree with this actually. I started thinking about how horrible it is for those of us that need loans or to borrow money, then find ourselves trapped under a mountain of debt as the interest accumulates. I think it is morally wrong for these practices to continue. Wall Street doesn't seem to care. This is something that I actually agree with Islam about. That is why, I guess some Islamic radical fundamentalists have hated and targeted American financial institutions. Is it morally wrong to charge outrageously high interest rates or use deceptive tactics to trick borrowers? I say yes, others say no. Who is right? I don't think the answer is terrorism, but instead careful, open and honest debate and boycotting lenders who use those tactics.

Morality is fascinating to me. I love to debate it with friends. The literal morality found in the Bible or Qu'ran if applied today in our modern society would be atrocious. Human slavery is the issue I always bring up and ask. If it is morally wrong today why was it not in biblical times? Why doesn't God or Jesus, or Mohammad devote even one line specifically denouncing the practice of human slavery at anytime? You'd think that such a serious issue would elicit a little time devoted to it. The Bible and Qu'ran both condone human slavery and even go into detail about how to properly treat human slaves and when they can or cannot be killed or set free. Wouldn't a simple line or paragraph from Jesus or Muhammad denouncing the practice of human slavery for every person of any color or gender, as a crime in they eyes of God have stopped 1900 years or so of this sad memory of our history from ever happening? One line could have have ended millions of people from having to go through the horrible experience that is slavery. So why didn't these so called prophets utter these words? I believe it is because they weren't prophets at all, just regular mortal men, eccentric preachers yes, but still products of the times they lived in. And during those times slavery was common, they didn't know better, now we do. This is why I know the holy books of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are man-made. Their morality is frozen in dogma by religion. It is akin to deciding what is right and wrong at 14 years old and expecting those beliefs to be held when you're 30, 50 and 70. You will obviously learn more as your grow older and sharpen your morality with new information, just as we as a species have grown older and have come to a better understanding of right and wrong.

This still leaves us with the problem I mentioned earlier of moral relativism. Nobody's right if everybody's wrong. Who's right has the right to be able to impose itself on the others wrong? Who's right when it comes to the moral issues that plague the world? The answer is actually quite simple: we are.

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