Tag Archives: the secular round table

Athemyths: Without God, There is No Purpose!

A recurring myth among religious individuals is that without God, life has no meaning or purpose. There are many reasons why a theist may hold this idea, none of which are grounded in reality. This is usually a refusal to accept death as the ultimate end and an appeal to emotion, in which a person assumes that their life has a meaning or a purpose given by God or presumes that there is an objective meaning to life.

First, there is no evidence that there is any objective meaning to life and it cannot be established with any epistemic certainty. Testimonies do not hold up to scrutiny as they are subject to the myriad biases of your brain. Holy texts are riddled with contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright falsities. Until there is a reliable means of establishing an objective meaning of life that provides substantial evidence, the appropriate response is to suspend judgment. Sure, it is an uncomfortable thought to some that there might not be any objective purpose to life, but the inability to accept this does not mean that we should adopt fallacious concepts to satisfy our ego.

Second, there are many people that do not believe in your deity, or any deity, and it would be preposterous to claim that the 1.2 billion Chinese who have no predominant religion, or the millions of people who claim to be nonbelievers, are not leading meaningful lives. The existence of a god is not required in order to have a meaning or purpose in life. Meaning is subjective. What you find meaningful someone else may not. There is plenty of meaning to be found in literature, music, science, and human connection, to name a few. To think that these things somehow lose their meaning if there is no god is absolutely absurd.

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Finally, this myth presupposes that the god given objective meaning or purpose in life aligns with their own. What if it doesn’t? Without evidence to support the claim, there is no way to know if your subjective meaning or purpose of life coincides with any objective meaning or purpose of life. Most Abrahamic religions hold that the purpose of life is to serve God. What good is life if you are going to spend it grovelling in fear at the feet of a celestial dictator? What good is life if your only purpose is to worship, praise, and be a subservient slave to a cosmic master? Would you accept that same purpose if it were a terrestrial dictator or master? If God is the ultimate embodiment of love why isn’t he held to a higher standard?

As an atheist, I have everything to live for and nothing to die for. The finality of life is exactly what gives life meaning. Death only appears on the surface to invalidate any meaning or purpose of life because it seems to give rise to an idea that there is no reason to do anything all, like garner knowledge or improve the self, if we are going to die anyway. However, there is a point to garnering knowledge or improving the self and that purpose is to enjoy life. The very finite nature of life prevents us from knowing and experiencing everything our world has to offer. That ephemeral epiphany allows us to relish in the moment, whether it be the laugh of an elderly loved one or the taste of your favorite food. These things matter and have value because the opportunity to experience them is finite in nature.

Suspending the real fantasy, the thing we call life, and devaluing your earthly life, the only guaranteed life that you have, is truly living without a purpose or meaning. That would make religious believers that perpetuate this myth the real nihilists.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts

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5 Dumbass Comments of the Week #6

5 Dumbass Comments of the Week #6

This week I am joined by the Godless Engineer as we take on the dumbest comments that we could find this week.

At 1:42, a theist claims that he has undeniable evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that gives 100% proof that God exists, but first he says that we must give him 1 solid reason why he should not kill us first.

At 8:05, a theist says that atheists always try to make creationists prove that god exists, but that atheists never try to disprove god first.

At 18:25, a theist says there are only three reasons why the universe is even here and that everyone must choose.

At 25:48, a theist says that the Bible is a peerless example of a book which has maintained relevance over 1,000s of years and that the main thrust of its message could not be more clear.

At 37:30, a theist says that all these theories; like the Big Bang and evolution, are theories that do not intersect with his religion and his “One Rational God.”


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Sorry, But Jesus is Not Coming Back…

Sorry to burst your bubble or spoil the story for you, but Jesus is not coming back. According to the Bible, Jesus prophesied that he would return before the people he was preaching to would die. In Matthew 16, Jesus predicts his own death and makes a startling claim, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). Needless to say, those people died and Jesus did not return. No matter how much they believed Jesus and how fervently they spread the gospel, it did not change the fact that Jesus failed, lied, or was wrong.

Many apologists have attempted to reconcile this with the idea that Jesus will return and rapture them away (even though the rapture was a concept that was not invented until the 1800s and is based on an ambiguous verse and is not at all a biblical concept). Many have said that Jesus was speaking metaphorically or that he was actually referring to the transfiguration. The problem is that this was considered a literal prophecy by all the theologians I studied under and based on what I know about the text, I would say that it is as well.

Furthermore, Matthew and Luke copied Mark’s gospel—this is no secret. It is often referred to as the Synoptic Problem. The synoptic problem is the fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke bear a literary relationship to each other. More than that, most of Mark’s gospel appears in Matthew and Luke in nearly the same words, in nearly the same order. Percentage-wise, 97% of Mark’s Gospel is duplicated in Matthew; and 88% is found in Luke.

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Why is this relevant? Mark, the first gospel, places the transfiguration before Jesus’ prophecy. So does Luke. Therefore, it is far more likely that Matthew attempted to correct the mistake by placing the transfiguration after the prophecy. Also, the first century writers were certain that they were living in the last days because Jesus told them so. They referred to it a lot (Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 10:11, Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 John 2:18, James 5:8-9, 1 Peter 4:7, and there are many more examples). Both Paul and Peter were sure that the end was near and that Jesus would be returning within their lifetime. He didn’t.

Why does it appear that the individual that Christians herald as their god and savior misled them? Personally, I think it is far more likely that the biblical writers have misled people given all the falsities, inconsistencies, and contradictions that riddle the pages. While Christian apologetics is capable of fanatical mental gymnastics to resolve this dilemma, it is all in vain.

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Apologetics help no one. They make excuses for an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent creator. No excuses will suffice for any being with those attributes. This is the final nail in the coffin to dismiss the doctrine of Christianity. If you can’t trust Jesus’ words, the person who you think is the perfect creator of all things, what makes you think that you can trust the fallible men who wrote the Bible?

Maybe, just maybe, Jesus has never existed at all and it is a fictional tale used for control and manipulation. Think for yourself.
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“In Matthew, Jesus declares, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” In Mark, he says, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Did he say both things? Could he mean both things? How can both be true at once? Or is it possible that one of the Gospel writers got things switched around?” –Bart Ehrman


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Free Will is Not Biblical!

I am frequently told by Christians, usually ones that have never read their Bible, that their god has given us free will to choose. Today, I will be addressing this misconception.

There are a few reasons why Christians mistakenly believe this. One reason is to deal with the problem of evil. The problem of evil usually goes like this:

1. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2. There is evil in the world.
3. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God does not exist.

The common apologetic is for the Christian to declare that their god has endowed us with free will and evil exists because we choose to do evil or we have chosen to sin. This allows them to get away with not placing the blame on their god as the author of evil (despite Isaiah 45:7).

Another reason they may say we have free will is because it is unacceptable to think that we will be held accountable for our actions unless we have free will. In other words, if everything is predestined and there is an eternal place of torture and unending agony, then God is responsible for every single person that endures that suffering.

There is one other reason that is sometimes used and that is that love demands a choice. To word it slightly differently, without free will we would all be robots who have no choice whatsoever.

Seems like this all makes sense, right? Even the Greek philosophers knew that the lack of free will led to some extremely unsettling implications, but where does this idea of free will come from? To be totally honest, it is Christian fan fiction. Free will is not taught by the scriptures. The Bible makes it very clear that predestination is a major theme and that all things happen according to God’s will. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Most Christians herald Jesus, or Yeshua, as divine, the Son of God, and the Word. It is my understanding, then, that his words must be extremely valuable and without error. In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

This verse explicitly denies that man has a free will ability to equally accept or reject the gospel. The Greek text of this passage denies, in no uncertain terms, any inherent ability to either choose Christ or reject Him. The primary reason is that the Bible teaches that man is in bondage to sin and has a natural tendency to suppress the truth or to refuse the gospel at all costs. The Bible would have us believe that when a nonbeliever hears the gospel, he will always reject it.

The Greek text says ouvdeis dunatai evlqei/n prosj me (oudeis dunatai elthein pros me). This verse literally says that no one has the ability, in and of themselves, to cause themselves to believe in Christ. This one verse alone denies free will and since Christians think that Jesus is God incarnate, this is sufficient grounds to reject this idea once and for all.

Christians believe Jesus was God, but if there is one man responsible for Christianity—it would be Paul. You would think that a man who established the very fundamentals of Christian doctrine would know exactly what he is talking about, right? Let’s take a look. In Romans 8:7-8, Paul states, “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Emphasis added).”

I don’t think he could have made it any clearer than he does in this passage. It is painfully obvious that submitting to and pleasing God is directed by God himself.

In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

This verse is so straightforward that it should not need an explanation. Man, in his natural state, is unable to accept God or the things attributed to his spirit.

Let’s take a look at one more example from Romans to put the nail in the coffin. In Romans 8: 28-30, Paul says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been CALLED according to HIS PURPOSE. For those God FORKNEW he also PREDESTINED to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Emphasis added).”

This passage explicitly states that God calls people according to his purpose, he knew who they were from the beginning of time, and he selected them from many.

At this point, the free will argument should be totally blown out of the water, but allow me to present more verses that will demonstrate the Bible denies free will (Acts 4:27-28, Acts 16:14, Isaiah 10:5-16, Psalm 105:25, Ezra 6:22, Proverbs 21:1, Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:3-6, Ephesians 2: 4-10, Romans 9: 10-15, Romans 9: 16-19, Romans 9: 20-21, 2 Timothy 1:9, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

There are even a few verses that speaks of the ones that God has not chosen and what fate he has decided for them (Revelations 13:8, Ecclesiastes 7:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-13).

With the verses I have supplied directly from the book that Christians believe to be the holy inspired and inerrant Word of God, we can draw the following conclusions:

1. Humans cannot believe in Christ of their own choice.
2. Humans cannot subject themselves to God’s Law of their own choice.
3. Humans cannot accept the things of the Spirit as being true of their own choice.
4. Therefore, humans do not have free will.

Theologians usually respect the early church fathers as authority figures and believe they were inspired by their god to establish church doctrine. In that case, it is worth mentioning that there are many authority figures or church fathers who were respected predeterminists and held that free will was not a biblical concept, including; St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.

I have demonstrated, thoroughly, that the Bible denies free will and any element of choice in any works that we do. The Bible teaches that from the beginning of time, God has selected who will receive salvation and he will punish and reward people based on what he has predestined. Also, the Bible teaches that all things are in accordance with God’s plan. How does that make you feel? It seems unfair, immoral, and downright evil by any standards, right?

If the Christian God exists, then there is no doubt that it is the most malevolent being in the entire universe. A Good Christian God would choose that everyone be saved; however, the Bible explicitly makes the case that the Christian God has chosen for many to suffer. This plan of God, according to the Bible, has absolutely nothing to do with free will and everything to do with exercising power—without any regards for morality or free will.

This leaves us with quite the dilemma, either:

1. God is evil or immoral because he chooses that many will perish
or
2. The Bible is not the Word of God

Choose carefully.

*This post is adapted from a paper that I wrote in seminary that received a failing grade from my instructor. However, it was overturned by the Dean, who also was one of theologians who was paramount in translating the New International Version. I received a perfect score on the paper. I thought that was worth mentioning.*


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New Science this Week #5: Your Poop is a Gold Mine, Literally!

Poop could be a goldmine — literally. Surprisingly, treated solid waste contains gold, silver and other metals, as well as rare elements such as palladium and vanadium that are used in electronics and alloys. Now researchers are looking at identifying the metals that are getting flushed and how they can be recovered. This could decrease the need for mining and reduce the unwanted release of metals into the environment.

“If you can get rid of some of the nuisance metals that currently limit how much of these biosolids we can use on fields and forests, and at the same time recover valuable metals and other elements, that’s a win-win,” says Kathleen Smith, who spearheaded this research.

In a recent Environmental Science & Technology paper, another research group also studying this issue calculated that the waste from 1 million Americans could contain as much as $13 million worth of metals. That’s $280 per ton of sludge. Shit, that’s a lot of money. One of the problems is that we have no idea what other valuables are in our poop. There is so much other shit in that shit that we don’t know about.

Smith and her team are on a mission to find out exactly what is in our waste. “We have a two-pronged approach,” she says. “In one part of the study, we are looking at removing some regulated metals from the biosolids that limit their use for land application.

“In the other part of the project, we’re interested in collecting valuable metals that could be sold, including some of the more technologically important metals, such as vanadium and copper that are in cell phones, computers and alloys,” Smith said. To do this, they are taking a page from the industrial mining operations’ method book and are experimenting with some of the same chemicals, called leachates, which this industry uses to pull metals out of rock. While some of these leachates have a bad reputation for damaging ecosystems when they leak or spill into the environment, Smith says that in a controlled setting, they could safely be used to recover metals in treated solid waste.

Are you collecting your poop now?


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Singing God Hates Girls Live w/The Belligerent Atheist

Last night on REASON, we linked up with the Belligerent Atheist and he gave us the unique opportunity to sing his parody song, “God Hates Girls”, live alongside him. I am going to tell you right now that our live rendition was no eargasm, but we did have an awesome time doing it.

When you are done listening to us howl like werewolves, you can head over to the Belligerent Atheist’s channel and hear the official version.

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New Science this Week #4: Curing Cancer With Cancer

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details the findings of researchers that have discovered a way to turn harmful cancer cells into harmless immune cells.

As these researchers threw everything they had at these cancer cells, they discovered that they found a way to turn these cancer cells into white blood cells that will actually fight the cancer cells.

For our scientifically minded viewers, the paper states,

Precursor B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is an aggressive cancer of white blood cells with a poor prognosis. The cancerous cells in this disease are immature B cells, which are unable to fully differentiate into normal B cells. We show here that cancerous cells from B-ALL patients can be reprogrammed, causing them to change into cells that resemble normal macrophages and can perform macrophage-associated functions such as the consumption of bacteria. Importantly, unlike typical B-ALL cells, these reprogrammed cells are no longer able to cause disease in immunodeficient mice. Finally, we show that this reprogramming process may occur to some degree in patients with B-ALL. This indicates that reprogramming B-ALL cells into macrophages might represent a previously unidentified therapeutic strategy.[1]

This discovery is huge and may be able to help thousands of people around the globe get treatment for their cancer. In the United States, once every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and once every 10 minutes someone dies of a blood cancer.[2]

[1] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/13/4074.abstract

[2] http://www.lls.org/diseaseinformation/getinformationsupport/factsstatistics/


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