Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saudi Arabia Uncovered


They're our Middle Eastern BFF. We just sold them $300 billion worth of weapons that they use to kill civilians. Oh, and they've declared atheists terrorists and execute them. Take a look inside the secretive kingdom in Saudi Arabia Uncovered.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is Mental Causation verifiable?


Whenever I debate a theist on the topic of mental causation—which almost every theists believes in—I almost always hear the claim that if mental causation exists you wouldn't be able to tell scientifically; the mind is non-material. This strikes me as odd. Why would this be the case? Anything that can affect physical matter is in principle verifiable and open to science. So I thought of this dialogue to show why this view makes no sense:


Person A: The ghost is moving the cup across the table.

Person B: There's no way to tell if the ghost moved the cup across the table because the ghost is non-material.

Person A: What are you talking about? We can see the cup moving across the table with nothing touching it.

Person B: No, it's impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

Person A: Are you insane? The cup is moving right now and nothing we can see is moving it.

Person B: No, it's impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

Person A: It's moving! We can see the ghost affecting physical matter, and we've scientifically ruled out all other possibilities.

Person B: No, it's impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

Person A:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Muslimish


I attended for the first time the 2017 Muslimish conference in New York a week ago. It's an annual conference highlighting secular voices of ex-Muslims and questioning Muslims. I got to meet the lovely Sarah Haider and Ali Rizvi. There were some really powerful stories told in a section they had about personal experiences growing up with Islam and eventually coming out of it. One woman was beaten by her family for questioning Islam's holy doctrines and is seeking asylum in the US; another woman survived an attempted honor killing by her husband for wanting to divorce her and take custody of their daughter. Now she's gotten sole custody of her daughter and they're both atheists!

It's unbelievable what people have had to go through, especially women, because of religions like Islam. The horror and abuse, the attempts on one's life⸺it all makes me very happy to have been raised in a secular home. I can't even imagine what it must be like to not be free to disbelieve and live your own life as you wish. Millions of secular people like me have taken this for granted. So I support their cause. We have to be able to question ideas, and fundamentally religions are ideas. And no religion deserves to be questioned today more than Islam.

Here are some pics:




Saturday, July 1, 2017

Summer Is Here



It's July, my favorite month. I have very fond memories of July. It's the first full month of summer, right at the beginning of summer vacation. The weather is hot, school was out. We used to play in the playground next to my apartment with our Super Soakers, ride our bikes to the bodega for some quarter-waters, sneak into the pool after hours. As a teen we'd stay out late on those hot summer nights drinking 40s and smoking Marlboros. Ah those were the days.

Summers seemed to last forever when I was a kid. Now they go by in an instant. Once you become an adult summers are a lot like the rest of the year, only hotter. You're working all year long. There's no summer break to distinguish the year. Last year I didn't even take a vacation. So this year I'm going to checkout Europe. I was going to go with a friend who then went silent on me. So I'll be going alone instead, but I'll be meeting up with my sister. It should be fun. I had just realized that I hadn't done much international travelling recently. I've had plans to travel that always fall through because of other people. This year I said fuck it. I'll do it alone.

I won't have cell phone service there but I will try as much as I can to blog the experience. Given the numerous terror attacks in Europe, the fear of dying in a terror attack did cross my mind. It's very unlikely though, but it can happen.

Drive By Blogging: Atheism Grows, Church/State Violations, 10 Commandments Destroyed, & A New Public Debate


As I've mentioned in previous posts, lately I've been much busier than usual. To make things worse I'll also be travelling in Europe for the second half of July. I'm going to London, Paris, and Amsterdam. In addition to that I'm still working on several side projects, like our upcoming atheist conference, and so I really haven't been able to blog at the frequency I used to.

That being said let me do a rapid "drive by" blog post on several issues I could have been writing about but haven't had the time to.

First, there was some recent big news that the number of atheists might be much higher than previously reported, which usually was down near the 3-5% range, even though PEW has recorded the number of people who do not believe in god at 9%. A new study claims that the real number of atheists in the US may be as high as 26%. The trick, it seems, is all about the questioning. Asking someone directly on a questionnaire if they're an atheist will lead significant numbers of those who are atheists to say that they aren't out of the stigma surrounding the term. So instead, two groups were shown a bunch of innocuous statements like "I own a dog," "I enjoy modern art," and were instructed to answer if they were true. But the test group had an additional statement: "I don't believe in God." When comparing the test group with the control group that didn't have the atheist question, the researchers conclude that about 26% of Americans do not believe in god.

This number seems closer to me to the real number. I meet so many atheists that the 3-5% range seems awfully low. It's well known that many atheists are in the closet. Atheists continue to be among the most disliked group of people in the US. That's why we have to fight the stigma, so that atheists aren't ashamed to openly express who they are. The study's results, although encouraging, has its critics. Even if the real number is less than 26%, if it's only 20%, I'd still be happy with the results. The trend is headed in the right direction after all.

In other atheist news, the Czech Republic continues to be one of the most atheist countries in Europe, if not the world, with only 29% believing in god according to a recent PEW Research survey. 66% of Czechs do not believe in god. The country is however, an outlier among Eastern Europe, where large majorities profess belief in god.

I plan on updating a rebuttal to the kalam cosmological argument with new refutations....eventually.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Quote Of The Day: Gotta Have Faith!


I'm still super busy and have little time to write good detailed blog posts, so here's a quickie. Many theists love to point to god-believing scientists as a way to validate their faith. "Look, here's a super smart scientist who believes in god, this proves religion is compatible with science."

Um, no it doesn't. Case in point: Aron Wall. He's a physicist that many theists have cited before because he is critical of some cosmological models that do not have an absolute beginning. But if you look into the guy, you can see that his belief is really grounded not good science or evidence—but in faith. Read it from his own blog:

Our belief that God is the Creator does not depend on the vicissitudes of scientific progress, the swinging back and forth of the tire swing (or is it accelerating?) It doesn't matter, because in this case we have a more certain source of knowledge than Science.

By faith!

He goes onto define faith as "confidence about what we hope for, but do not see."

That's usually what it comes down to. William Lane Craig comes to the same ultimate conclusion. All this talk of evidence is really just to reinforce his faith, that is to say what he hopes is true. And in case you want to test your faith in the decency of humanity, watch Limp Bizkit cover the George Michael original:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

It's Been A While...


So, it's been a while since I've written any blog posts. It's been nearly a month actually. That's the longest amount of time I think I've ever had in between posts. So what's been going on? Well, I've been really fucking busy.

First, last month I had a public debate on whether political correctness has gone too far and I finally managed to actually film this one. I just finished editing the video and it will be up online soon. I also participated in two panel discussions at the annual Left Forum where I spoke about combating the Far Right, and how we need to have honest conversations about Islam. Both of those events were filmed and I am currently editing them, with the hopes that they will be uploaded online by the end of the month.

I'm also going to be travelling through Europe this summer for a week and a half. I will be in the UK, France, and then Holland. I had wanted to do this trip for years with friends but every year plans kept falling through. So this year I was like fuck it, I'm doing this without anyone. So I will be travelling solo for most of the trip and then I will meet my sister in Holland for a "spiritual retreat," before flying back to New York.

I really want to assess the political climate in Europe and see the people and experience the culture. I keep hearing that Islamism is so much more widespread and pernicious there when compared to the US, and I'm curious if this is really true. So I'll be spending a few days in London, Paris, and Amsterdam to explore the situation. I really want to go to several local atheist meetings to see what's going on. And I'd love to attend a taping of the UK show The Big Questions where they debate moral, ethical, and religious issues facing the country.

And lastly, I've been working with my local atheist community to put together the first ever atheist conference in New York City! Amazingly, there has never been one in NYC before, and that's about to change. It's simply going to be called The Atheist Conference, and I'm going to be hosting a panel discussion on how to debate atheism, how to improve our arguments, spot our flaws, and teach atheists important tips on what to say in a debate. I'm talking with Justin Schieber of Real Atheology and Jeffrey Jay Lowder of the Secular Outpost on being on the panel with me. Both of them are seasoned debaters who know their shit and it will be a pleasure discussing our favorite atheist debating topics, and a thrill for the audience as well. I don't think anything like this has been done to my knowledge, certainly not from my perspective. The working title of my panel discussion will be, you guessed it, Make Atheism Great Again. I'm very exited about this, as you can expect.
The date for the conference will be July 6-8th, 2018, at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, a 4 star hotel that we got a great deal on where guests will be able to stay for $169 a night, a bargain in Manhattan for such a hotel. Tickets will go on sale in September. I will be posting much more about this in the future and hopefully get back to blogging at my regular schedule soon! Hopefully we'll still have a country by then!

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