Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can


This is huge.

Bigger than that he's better on healthcare, jobs, or security

The most intelligent and honest candidate won.

A man who's first impulse is to bring us all together to solve our problems

We finally have a leader who speaks to the better angels of our nature

This is history.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank goodness for Dennett

Prof. Daniel Dennett is a noted atheist and author.  Someone forwarded me this link, which is Dennett's reflection after having major surgery.  He spends some time talking about the people who helped him get through an often fatal emergency.  He does a lot of thanking, but he only thanks people who really exist.   

All snark aside, it's a moving tribute to everybody who makes health care possible.

And, because he's Daniel Dennett, the rest of the article is a excellent reflection on the place of science, and the issue of 'faith' in medicine.

Enough from me, go read it:

Oh, and be sure to vote!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

And Elvis didn't do no drugs...

I love Penn and Teller

Here's their take on the Bible.  Because you're on this blog, you will either enjoy it or be horribly offended

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

One note on the gentleman who thinks the 10 commandments are clearly the forebearers of our lawfulness.  Hitchens loves to point out, that this interpretation demands that one believes that all humans living before that point in history were murdering and coveting and stealing from one another.  And that they thought it was okay.  Don't we have more self respect than that.  

Friday, September 26, 2008

Religious Experiences for All!

Hi, Sorry for the lack of material lately. I've been insanely busy and my blogging has suffered. I received a comment today, I thought I'd bring the conversation to the main page.

A supreme being does not need to correct the very natural laws he has brought into existence. Religion aside, I find the very fact that a single event caused this very nature, with all its complexity, to exist to be quite fascinating.
If "sin" is to be redefined in non-religious terms then it would be taking a something such as self-consciousness for granted.
I find it amazing that the non-relgious go so adamantly about attacking faith and praising knowledge. Faith and knowledge are inseparable. One has to "believe" one's consciousness to "know" that one does exist. One has to "believe" one's senses to "know" that there is a reality external to oneself. In that sense, one's whole perception of the world is a "belief".
The religious premise is that there is yet another reality not accessible to the senses but is accessible to directly to the consciousness; the very thing that chooses to believe of the existence of self and the trustworthiness of the senses. Those who have experienced the presence of the supreme being report it as being perceived directly by their consciousness thus bypassing their senses; and they do report the perception of a reality external to themselves. One could call them crazy, one could call them delusional, one could also call them liars but I have yet to hear a reasonable proof that such experience cannot exist without proving that the very existence of any external reality can be a delusion.
If you have never had such an experience there is nothing that anybody can tell you about religion, or a supreme being that will convince you. If you had that experience, however, and chose to discount it as a delusion then I would very much like to know why you trust your perception of any other reality more than that experience. At the end, one could always choose not to believe in the existence of a supreme being. But, technically speaking, one will never be able to claim being non-religious. There is always the very primitive religion; a belief in the existence of oneself and the existence of an external reality.
And here is my Reply
Hello, thanks for posting.

Certainly the existence of our conscious minds is improbable. But does it really require faith to believe you exist? If it does, than it is not the same faith that is required to believe something which cannot be seen nor touched nor experienced by a sense of any physical sort. That is, you are equivocating in your use of the word “faith”. For example, I have, in a sense, ‘faith’ that the entity to whom I am now replying is a human being accessing the internet. Is it possible that an alien, or a cat or god himself has typed this message to me? Maybe. But my belief in your nature is based on my knowledge of the world around me. In a hundred years, if we have sentient computers and alien visitors my assumption would be invalid. When you say that I have faith in my senses, this is the sort of ‘faith’ I think you mean. But believing something for good reason isn’t faith. At least this isn’t faith in the religious sense. In Hebrews, Paul describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen”. Now Paul didn’t know about microscopes and waves and so forth so don’t get caught up on the literal ramifications of ‘unseen’. Faith, in a religious context then is belief for which no tangible evidence can be provided, for Paul the faith is the evidence in and of itself.

On a brief tangent, the reasoning in this area of can become both circular and nasty. In psychology we talk about a patient’s investment in a problem. Once you are asked to make large sacrifices or shown negative consequences, you are more likely to persist in a destructive behavior (loving your fraternity after they haze you, or staying in a failing business venture). What then can we make of the matter of faith in 1 Corinthians 15 “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins”. What terror the men of Corinth must have felt when they heard these words.

So I disagree vigorously with your use of the word faith to define the everyday occurrence of taking for granted the obvious and natural state of our humanity while using it also (correctly) to define an intangible belief. To refer to the acknowledgement of one’s existence as a “primitive religion” is absurd because to lack such an acknowledgement is a sign of serious mental derangement.

Now, the most interesting thing you have said is about religious experiences. Let me make another assumption (call it ‘faith’ if you like), that you are a monotheist. You believe that there is only one god, namely yours. So then, let me surprise you by saying I have had religious experiences. I do not count myself crazy. Nor do I count other Christians as crazy for having the same experiences. What about Muslims with religious experiences? What of the archangel giving the prophet the Koran? Were all the religious people of the polytheistic cultures crazy? I don’t think so, do you? They too speak of religious experiences, of oracles and shamans. They are infidels to you and you are atheistic to their gods, but your defense of religious experience defends them too. If a religious experience is proof of the validity of faith, why don’t you worship at the altar of Zeus? Of course that would be absurd. You want to show me Christian (if that is your faith) experiences to prove Christian truth. You cannot have it both ways. I readily admit religious experiences happen and are powerful subjective occurrences. However, one of two things must follow from this. Either such experiences are open to all people, are a part of our consciousness and mean prove nothing because of their very spread across religious traditions throughout human history. Or somehow they prove the validity of faith. This is what you might wish were true but it is unlikely. People of all faiths can have such experiences but for them all to be valid is impossible.

How can the ancient pantheons be reconciled with the demands of the monotheist? How can the three monotheists reconcile amongst themselves? How can the denominations within them be reconciled? They cannot. Zeus cannot exist if Yahweh exists. Gentile Jesus and Islam’s Allah cannot both exist, they contradict each other directly! If people of any faith, of any denomination, of any number of gods can have a religious experience, then such experiences cease to be about religion. If you wish to study such phenomena I suggest you study people instead.

to anon: Feel free to contribute more in the comment section of this post.
to the rest of you: Jump in as well, if you like

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let your voice be heard

Hi there folks,
I'm just peaking my head in to drop off a survey. It concerns a topic that I wonder about when considering my Coptic brethren.

What do you think about evolution? What do you think it means and why do you feel the way you do?

Head over to and let them know what's on your mind

I signed up to receive the results of the survey and I'll discuss them here when they come out.

Have at it!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I've had this conversation with theists as a thought experiment. This version is way funnier.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I received a question via email, and I don't have a good answer. So I'll post it here, maybe one of you will be able to add something.

The sender wants to know if there is a group, in whatever form, of Copts turned atheist.

My gut feeling is "no" because the title of this blog came from me googling "coptic atheist" to try and find someone like me. After dealing with that for a while, I started blogging. Anyway, if you have any other ideas, post in the comments.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Christianity is unoriginal and so am I

Well I haven't been posting because I've been insanely busy. I do occasionally get to read other blogs. My admiration for The Friendly Atheist is no secret. He posted a great video, it shows the parallels between the origin of Christianity and earlier pagan faiths. It all rolls back to one of my central thesis: that the concept of religion is laughable when we look at it through the lens of human history.

So if you think that you are so very clever for worshiping the son of a virgin, born in winter, who died, was buried, and arose from the dead, there's some bad news. You are quite unoriginal.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sad news, but a silver lining

Hey there, sorry about the dearth of posting lately, I've been crazy busy. That's why they invented blackberrys. And coffee breaks. Don't tell anyone... Enjoy!

A new study demonstrated a negative correlation between spirituality and performance in law school.

Which means that people who identified as religious tended to do worse than those who didn't. And it was more predictive of a bad law student than either low LSATS or low undergrad GPA.

Not having read the actual thing I couldn't comment as to validity. That aside, it's an interesting topic. I've always wondered what kind of people (personality types, etc) "make it" in different fields. I'd like to see some studies on med students.

Another study has found that frankincense smoke "
activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression".

Wow, another whole reason religious people are so happy. It also explains the pleasant smile on that incense dude at the mall. Ok, maybe he's just stoned.

So basically all you copts inhaling the shoria (censer) every week are getting a free dose of prosac, sweet! (OK, in reality they did the study with an isolate of a chemical in the resin. And they did it on mice. Must I always let science stand in the way of a good joke?)

So in short, if you're really religious you will flunk out of law school. But at least you'll be happy

Take care

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I love cartoons, a lot

Ok, one more, this one might be my favorite,