Friday, October 30, 2015

10 Mistakes of the Indoctrinated.

The following is by a guest writer, Lawrence Tomas, who originally posted this to the Freethinkers United Facebook page.

Almost all Christians (followers of Christianity) make one tragic mistake in the very beginning when they first accept the religion and yes…it is a whopper!
Becoming a Christian at the tender age of 12 years old, I never knew of course that I was making this mistake.
But now that I see the mistake, it’s impossible to keep quiet about it! I can’t keep quiet... nor should I keep quiet. I have to share this…so listen close!
It usually begins at a young age when someone (parent, friend or family member) approaches you and they ask you the famous question…
“If you died right now, do you know for sure you would go to Heaven?”
They then proceed to tell you the Gospel story how that 2,000 years ago, God loved you and sent his son Jesus to die on a cross to save you from your sins and save you from going to Hell.
Well, if the timing is right, this particular confrontation is too overwhelming and as it tugs on your heart strings, you somehow feel obligated to repent and ask Jesus to save you.
If you ask any questions, they are quickly shut down and we are told…
“We don’t go by factual evidence or proof, we accept it by “faith”. Jesus said to “only believe”. He also said that the devil will lie to us and try to deceive us into disbelieving. Trust me…it is all true…I promise you!”
So we do what we are told and accept it by faith without seeing any evidence what soever to back any of it up…none…zero.
THE BIG MISTAKE IS….We never check any of it out…
1. We never do any research to see if Jesus actually existed.
2. We never do any research to see if the apostles actually existed.
3. We never do any research to see who actually wrote the Roman New Testament…the hows, whys, whens and wheres…we never check any of that out.
4. We never do any research to see who actually started this religion and why?
5. We never do any research to see if the Apostle Paul who allegedly wrote over half of the New Testament actually existed or started any churches.
6. We never do any research to see if the Hebrew/Roman Bible is historically, scientifically and archaeologically accurate & correct. We never do any research to see if what the ancient Hebrews were telling us… was factually sound and 100% true.
7. We never do any research to see if any of the so called “Church Fathers” were legit and actually telling us the truth.
8. We never do any research to see if any of the Old Testament Bible characters were legit and actually existed.
9. We never do any research into the ancient Romans to understand the religious culture & political climate which existed in Rome during the 1st Century CE. We never do any research into the ancient Judean Hebrews to understand the religious culture & political climate which existed in Palestine during the 1st Century CE.
10. We never do any research to see that Imperial Rome had their dirty hands upon this new Christian religion from the very beginning and that the entire Gospel Story is nothing more than a fabricated Roman lie.
NO…we never checked anything out for authenticity…we just went with it. We accepted the entire story upon the basis of “faith” and never spent ONE MINUTE of our time to see if any of it was ever true.
Then we start going to church where we are told if we question anything it displeases God and we are to accept & believe everything on “Faith Alone”. This brainwashing usually continues until we die unless we have an “epiphany” and somehow come to our senses which most people never do.
Yup…Christians have been taught to believe that the church was born 2,000 years ago and that’s the big mistake. They naively assume that everyone has been telling them the 100% absolute truth from the ancient Romans down to the modern day Christian ministers.
We believe and accept it without doing any research whatsoever…we just go with it because someone told us to. We buy into and believe the greatest hoax that mankind has ever seen. What we thought was true (the Bible), turns out to be 66 separate books which are nothing than mythical fabricated fairytales.
And it’s a whopper of a mistake because it controls & colors every single aspect of our thinking and being. We become a Christian, develop an imaginary friend, and spend the rest of our lives thinking we are immortal and that we are going to live forever in a paradise. This false beliefism will control us and our family for the remainder of our natural lives.
QUESTION: Then who is to blame for making this monumental mistake?
ANSWER: YOU and YOU alone. Because you never took the time to do any personal investigation or research. You just believed the lies and for doing that you payed or are still paying a great price…

Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Bernie Sanders can Save the GOP

The history of political parties in the US is a sordid one.  In George Washington's farewell address, he warned against political parties which had begun under his Presidency.  By the time John Adams became President, two prominent parties had formed: the Federalists and the Republican-Democrats. Eventually, the Federalists went by the way-side, and the Republican-Democrats dropped the Republican part.  A later party, formed in 1854, claimed the Republican moniker, and 6 years later elected their first Presidential Candidate, Abraham Lincoln.

It was the Radical Republicans that called for full equalization of rights and protections under the law for blacks before the Civil War, and during Reconstruction.  While the GOP has always had business interests in mind, there was still a progressive side that wanted to curtail rampant and destructive business practices.  After all, the "Great Trust Buster", Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican.  That goes to show that, historically, the Republican party was a dynamic party, one that covered a spectrum of political ideas.

Today, however, the GOP has been hijacked; first it was the Moral Majority, and lately the Tea Party. Today, the "radical" Republicans are the Libertarians, or at least those who buy into their objectivist ideology.  The GOP has gotten so extreme in it's platforms that the most liberal of Republicans are heavily conservative by the standards of just 40 years ago.  This is spelling the undoing of the Republican Party.  And it must not happen. Crack a history book to see the effects of a one party system.

Enter Bernie Sanders, the Independent Senator from Vermont. Sanders (his supporters just call him Bernie), has a large Republican following in Vermont, and there is even a Facebook page for his GOP supporters. While Sanders is often criticized for being a socialist (he's actually a Democratic Socialist which is still a capitalist), his policy ideas are middle ground for most of the advanced nations of the world. American politics have gotten so far to the right, thanks to the 1% and the religious fanatics hijacking of the GOP, that the middle ground is considered "extremist."  Sanders is not of the 1%, in fact he's their political nemesis, and he's not all that religious.  He's a progressive throwback and one that Republicans of when the party was truly Grand, would embrace.

The fact that someone like Sanders is able to gain such support despite not taking any Super PAC money, shows that the people are behind him.  Some of those people are Republicans.  This is important because the bulk of America is tired of Republican party shenanigans, and the corporate shills they choose for candidates. As an American, and fully aware that our political system is watched around the world, I was embarrassed after watching the first Republican debate. Trump turned the debate into a circus, and he's the GOP front runner. What scared me is that Trump is not really a product of the GOP as he is a reflection of current Republican Party.  He's misogynistic, racist, and cares more about his own wealth than the well-being of his fellow Americans.

No, not all Republicans are that way.  In fact most are not, at least most of the one's I know.  I understand that that was an anecdotal statement on my part, but I live in the Bible Belt, I live in GOP territory, I am surrounded by members of the Republican party.  One of the primary virtues of Republicans is loyalty.  That is why the sane, and good people I know that are Republican are not misogynistic or racist, or pro-1%.  They identify as Republican, mostly because their parent's did, and they are loyal to their party; to attack the party is to attack them.  But loyalty goes both ways.  If not, then it is not loyalty but servitude.  With the exception of the most radical of modern Republicans, the religious extremists, and Tea Partiers, many Republicans are waking up and realizing that the Party they are loyal too, is not loyal to them.

If Clinton gets elected... well, she is a Democrat in Name Only. If this was the 1960s, she would have been a Centrist Republican, not a Democrat. Never mind that she is flip-flopping on nearly everything now and mimicking Sanders, with the exception of her most fanatical supporters, even Democrats take for granted that she is only flip-flopping until after she would take office; she is only changing her views to get elected. Even if she gets protest votes over Trump, nothing would change.  It would be party politics as usual.

If Sander's wins, however, it is a game changer.  Part of his appeal is that he is not just a political leader, he is the leader of a movement.  A grassroots movement of the young and old alike.  The GOP is a repulsive force to to the Millennial Generation.  Even Millennial Republicans can see the writing on the wall if the GOP keeps to the path it is on.  That is IF you can find a Millennial Republican, most pay no attention to the GOP what so ever. In a more diverse-sensitive America, surviving parties must embrace the diversity of our nation. So far Republicans mostly alienate it.

If Sanders takes office, the GOP party leaders will have to wake up or lose their party.  To keep GOP obstructionists from stonewalling the White HOuse and Congressional Dems, GOP candidates will have to be more moderate, more willing to compromise, and more in touch with the needs of their constituents.  Too long have the 1% run politics to the chagrin of voters.  When Sanders takes office in 2017, it will show the 1%, and more importantly the American voter, that money is done.  Politics belong to all of us, not just the 1%.  The GOP will have to listen to their more moderate voters and politicians, and balance will return to American Politics. It is time for the GOP to return to its Lincoln roots, to regain its true fiscal responsibility like what Teddy Roosevelt exhibited, to work for the American People like Ike Eisenhower and not Big Business.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CNN the New Faux (Fox) News.

If you do a Google search, as of today, on who won the first Democratic debate of the 2016 Presidential election, you will know that Hillary Clinton won.  Except she didn't.  You see, CNN, who hosted the debate, is spreading a bold faced lie.  It's not surprising, CNN is owned by Time Warner who is one of Clinton's (or as a good friend of mine refer's to her, $hillary) biggest financiers.  Not only that, but bloggers and news affiliates that follow CNN's lead all report that Clinton won the debate.
Here's a few examples:
The Atlantic
The New York Times
Well, that is unless you are one of the more than thousands people who voted on CNN's poll last night before they deleted it.

Here is the "report" from CNN/Facebook Democratic debate winners and losers by Jeremy Diamond, CNN (Updated 8:06 AM ET, Wed October 14, 2015):
Washington (CNN)The field of Democratic presidential hopefuls faced off in their first debate, hosted by CNN and Facebook, on Tuesday night.
For more than two hours, the candidates tried to make their best impressions before a national audience discovering many of them for the first time.
Here's how they did:

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton proved without a doubt Tuesday night why she is the Democratic Party's presidential front-runner.
Clinton remained unflappable throughout the debate, showcasing her political experience and her command of the issues -- all the while deftly handling criticism of her flip-flops and displaying a humor that put a more human face to her oft-criticized candidacy.
From the outset, Clinton was pressed to defend her changing stances on various issues -- from the Pacific Rim trade deal to same-sex marriage -- and came out from the tough questioning with a strong one-liner that very much fits the frame of her campaign: "I'm a progressive. But I'm a progressive who likes to get things done."
David Axelrod, CNN senior political commentator and the chief strategist for the Obama campaign that trounced Clinton in 2008, said she did "very well" and that her campaign was likely "thrilled with the performance."

Now, mid you this was a Facebook poll. but apparent from the title of the page, they were trying to use social media (Facebook and Twitter) to determine popular opinion on who won.  Apparently the people didn't vote they was we are supposed to.

Out of curiosity, I looked for other polls.  I found several, and below are a sample the polls.  In every poll, Sanders is leading by a huge margin.  I am not going to go into the various gaffes, blunders, zingers and one liners that pundits count when they form their opinion.  Theirs doesn't really matter.  Your opinion matters.

However, mainstream media is on it's way out.  With the internet, transparency in information is becoming the norm.  Big Media no longer has the sway it once had.  As the baby boomers are becoming more tech savvy or dying off, those who still clutch to their TVs and newspapers as their primary source of information are diminishing. Big Media is dying, and this serves as a great case in point.

The revolution will not be televised, it will be tweeted.

Now, here are some screen shots of various polls that agree with the CNN twitter poll above:

Fox 5 News in San Diego,

Sanders: 78%
Clinton: 15%
O'Malley: 2%
Web: 3%
Chaffee: <1%

Sanders: 70%
Clinton: 16%
O'Malley: 2%
Web: 11%
Chaffee: 1%
 of New Jersey

Sanders: 75%
Clinton: 15%
O'Malley: 1%
Web: 3%
Chaffee: <1%

Even (a Right Wing news blog) weighed in

Sanders: 53%
Clinton: 5%
O'Malley: 3%
Web: 6%
Chaffee: 0%

Keep in mind, the Patriot is a Republican friendly site, and even if they could choose "the Republicans" or "I don't care", Sanders wins by a large margin.

One last photo, sent to me from a concerned voter.  Here is a screenshot of the television right after the debate.  And CNN is still plugging Hillary.  It's time for Big Media to #FeelTheBern!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An Atheist rebuttal to "5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist"

An article came across my news feed lately entitled “5 Ways to be a Better Atheist” by Michael Patton. I initially thought that the article is either a lesson in critical thinking or a rant against anti-theism.  Typically I check the source before I read something, this time I did not.  It is a happy accident though, because the article has become popular in theistic circles, so I feel as if I must address it as a reference to not only atheists, but also skeptically minded theists.  “Five Ways…” is written by a theist in judgement of atheists.  Imagine if an Atheist wrote such an absurd list as “5 Ways to be a Better Christian.” I can almost hear the theistic outrage now! 

The introduction to the article claims that “Atheism is suffering.” He is writing his article to theists and is only pandering to their emotions.  By claiming that Atheism is suffering, Patton is trying to allay theist fears that they are losing some sort of battle for the souls of man. Furthermore, he claims that New Atheism is evangelical in its nature.  Not quite.  In all fairness, some New Atheists have used the word evangelical – trying to spread the word as it were – but most New Atheists would say they are activists, not evangelicals.  Why the distinction?  Most New Atheists (that is all except for the extremists – all movements have their crackpots) couldn’t care less what you believe, so long as you do not force others to those beliefs.  If you want to believe that that a certain day of the week is special, fine, good for you.  But do not force businesses to close down that day.  If you want to believe that the universe was created in 6 days, fine, good for you.  But, until you can prove it though verifiable and measurable means, do not insist that it is taught as science in schools.

And now for the laundry list:

Claim One: Atheists must make more concessions.

Patton asserts that Atheists must stop making certain claims.  The first is that there is no evidence for god.  Well, there isn’t, and no a religion’s sacred texts do not count.  To claim that a certain sacred text is exclusively accurate without allowing the claims in the text to be scrutinized is the fallacy of special pleading.  This is true for not only material claims (the age of the earth, resurrection etc. but also for moral and historical claims.  A case in point is that there is debate among historians as to whether Socrates was a real person, or a literary device for Plato.  The evidence for Socrates is stronger than that for Jesus (THIS PAGE covers the comparison of evidence quite thoroughly). Briefly, there are three sources for Socrates that were written in his lifetime, the earliest sources for Jesus were written over 50 years after his death, and by non-witnesses. To compound the problem, many “official” books of the Bible have been added to centuries after the earliest copies.  In other words, later authors forged parts of the books.

According to Patton, Atheists must stop saying theism is irrational.  No. We must not. When you hold a belief based on faith and not evidence, you are being the very definition of irrational.  Faith is incompatible with reason.  I will not go further into the matter here, as I have already covered the material in my response to R.R. Reno’s view on critical thinking HERE and in my video on faith HERE.

Next he tackles the correlation between education and Atheism.  Studies show (here’s a few The Independent, Barna, Medical Daily) that the more educated a person is, the more likely that they are an Atheist. This is also true not only of populations within a country, but among nations themselves (most educated countries, most Atheistic countries)  Patton tries to counter these studies by saying that there are many highly intelligent people that are Christian.  This is true.  It is also true that there are those who are as dumb as a box of rocks that are Atheist.  But he misses the point.  The point is that highly educated people are also well versed in critical thinking.  Religions are often found wanting when challenged with the words “prove it”.  Saying that, there are still those that find comfort in the rituals of religion, in the promise of seeing loved ones after death.  No one faults them for holding on to those desires.  But when they try to justify their beliefs through reason, even the most intelligent of people may buy into their own bullshit. 

James Randi, aka the Amazing Randi, is a mentalist and a magician.  For decades he wowed audiences with seemingly supernatural powers until he became fed up with charlatans who were practicing the same tricks to convince people that they had “real” supernatural powers.  So, Randi picked up where Harry Houdini left off, and began exposing these charlatans for what they were (Randi’s expose of Uri Geller).  Randi has offered a million dollar prize (JREF) to anyone who can perform supernatural feats under laboratory conditions.  So far, no one has been able to.  There have been scientists who have claimed to find evidence of ESP or telekinesis, but once Randi’s people evaluated the studies, the ruse was exposed.  The scientists were not the ones trying to con Randi, but it was their subjects that conned the scientists!  Why?  Magic tricks are not a part of science curriculum.  You see, nature does not lie, it does not try to con us; only people do that.  The scientists lacked the proper training in mentalism and the art of illusion.  So even a highly intelligent person, a highly trained skeptic can fall for a ruse.  That’s one of the dangers of having an open mind: those well versed in grift can take advantage of you.  And sometimes we want to believe something so badly, that we twist logic and reason any way we can in order to hold those beliefs.

Patton claims that by not relenting to theistic claims of evidence,the Atheist is committing intellectual suicide.  On the surface, he is correct.  However, what he fails to understand, is that when Atheists are being “dismissive” of theistic claims of evidence rooted in sacred texts, miracles, prophesy, etc. they are dismissive because such things are conjecture not evidence.  Evidence is corroborative, verifiable, and falsifiable.  That means that more than one source can produce the results, that the results can be repeatable, and that there are conditions that, if met, would render the evidence as false.  However, when backed into an intellectual corner, the theist often pleads that if the Atheist only had faith they would understand.  The fallacy of appeal to faith is the last refuge of the theist.  To which, I will invoke Hitchens’ Razor in the late, great Christopher Hitchens’ own words, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

Lastly, Patton, says that there is evidence for god, and we must concede that point.  Go back to the beginning of this post and click the link to Patton’s article.  Read the bit where he says there’s evidence.  Notice something missing?  Yep, this supposed evidence.  Now naturally, his article is not about presenting such evidence but he could have at least listed some types of evidence, or arguments, or even a link or two to those arguments.  Alas, he does not.  He asserts there is evidence for god, but fails to include that evidence.  

However, I would wager dollars to doughnuts that the majority of the evidence has been thoroughly debunked, most of which was so centuries ago.  Here’s the thing, if you make an argument for something and that argument is shown to not only be invalid, but the counter argument is shown to be valid, then your argument is no longer evidence.  Since Patton has not listed is supposed evidence I cannot disprove it.  However, I have already addressed the most common theistic apologetics here, which may include what Patton would consider his “evidence”.

In conclusion to this first little bit, I will say that all ideas must be challenged.  Personally, I care too much about people to allow unfounded, untrue, and often malicious ideas contribute to their misery.  This is doubly true when their false ideas contribute to someone else’s misery.  So no.  No concessions will be made by me or anyone else that place their fellow humans above any notions of imaginary sky-daddies.

Claim 2: The Flying Spaghetti Monster

At first I was going to gloss over this one, because it is silly.  Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Patton, and quite possibly many of his like-minded cohorts are actually scared of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM).  For those who have not heard of the FSM, he is from a children’s book that is written much like the bible, about a deity, the FSM and the religion that follows him.  It’s silly. It’s cute. It is an illustration on how silly the claims of other religions are when viewed outside that religion.  And what I think gets the goat of most theists is when a non-believer in their brand of woo-woo points out that their little religion looks just as ridiculous to the non-believer as the FSM does to them.  No one that follows the FSM think it’s real, it is just fun make believe, but the theists are taking it seriously!

Patton makes it clear that he takes the threat of the FSM seriously when he tries to get philosophical to counter FSM claims.  He claims to be able to invalidate (remember, he is trying to invalidate something that the fans of it say is fiction) the FSM through a two-step process. First, Patton brings up the specter of the necessary being.  It is a tired philosophical concept that it is necessary that some being caused the very first event in cosmic history; an uncaused cause if you will.  This idea is found in the Teleological and Cosmological arguments which are addressed, again, in my God Arguments page.
Secondly, and if we were being intellectually honest, we would say that Patton is still stuck on the first part, he says that there is no historical basis for it.  ALL religions are stuck on this step.  The reason that anthropologists, sociologists etc. are the least religious scholars is that these fields have not only studied various religions, but have even seen the historical record and archaeological evidence of when religions and deities were invented, borrowed and developed.

Claim 3: Admit the weakness of their position

Patton is getting slick with this one.  He makes an indirect ad hominem on Atheists by claiming that those Atheists who publicly debate are similar to used-car salesmen: they dress nice, so they MUST be hiding something!  He then says that we Atheists must admit that our position is a “weak” one (implying his is the “strong” one.) The basis for his assertion is that Atheism cannot explain any basis for morals or existence itself. 

Ok, first, Atheism is not a belief system.  Atheism is simply the lack of belief in any gods.  That is all.  Atheism doesn’t HAVE to explain anything because it is a baseline position.  But, since Patton brought it up, are there any secular theories to morals or existence?  Why, yes.  Yes there is.  There is a whole field of philosophical study (it’s called ethics, by the way) that deals with morality.  As to why there’s something instead of nothing, I say, why not?  Assuredly, science is working on it, and there are some hypotheses as to why we have a universe.  But it is a complex matter and one that cannot accept the lazy-man’s answer: god did it.  You see, if you want to posit an idea as to why there is something rather than nothing, you must prove it.  Claiming one deity or another and resting on it is intellectually lazy, and fraudulent.

Claim 4: Atheists must be more open-minded

Patton claims that Atheists are necessarily closed-minded. He pleads that Atheists cannot claim to be open-minded because Atheists reject religion. When I first read this, I thought, “Oh, he just doesn’t understand what open-minded means.” Now that I’ve read it again, I’m not only sure he doesn’t, but I’m also sure he doesn’t fully understand his own argument. Patton claims that Atheism is so married to naturalism that Atheists cannot think outside the box. Again, Atheism is only a lack of belief in gods. Most Buddhists are Atheists, as are Jains. And yet, they do believe in non-naturalistic things. Again Patton’s attack on Atheism is really an attack on secular skepticism (Skepticism with a capital ‘S’ as it is a sort of movement that fits exactly what Patton is raging against). When a Skeptic says to be open minded, they mean to not clutch your beliefs so tightly that when faced with evidence that nullifies those beliefs, you are incapable of revising your beliefs. The Skeptic uses reason and empirical evidence as their basis for knowledge because it fucking works! Language and math operate on the same logic, in fact the field of Propositional Calculus does just that: it turns logical, linguistic statement into math so computers can compute.  

What people like Patton cannot stand, is that there is no room for faith at the table of reason. Faith is accepting something to be true (believing in it) without evidence.  This is the antithesis of reason!  Now, the most popular theistic dodge to this criticism is that theists do not base their faith on a lack of evidence, but rather on evidence, such as personal revelation, miracles and fulfilled prophecies.  I've already tackled why these do not count as evidence in my god videos.  The video on prophecy and miracles is here, which leaves personal revelation.  It is not evidence. Accepting something on someone's say so is not good evidence of any sort.  It is not that they are lying, though that may be the case, but it is well known that eye-witness accounts are not reliable (even for cops). Not to mention that while an eye witness account of an event will more than likely have corroborating physical evidence, a report of someone's feelings on something, or the voices in their head are most likely attributable to various psychological states, not on the super natural.  One last thing that gets the preachers, used-car salesmen, kings, and other con-men upset with the rejection of faith as evidence, is that THEY have to prove what they say too.  They do not have the authority to dictate "truth."  Take that power away, and they have none.  No religion has ever been able to withstand the words, 'prove it.'  What Patton cannot comes to grips with, is that neither can he prove it.

Another interesting thing, is that many theists will try to commit an amphiboly by interchanging two separate meanings of the word faith to show that their religion is "true."  They will mix the meaning, 'belief without evidence' with other meanings of the word, be it a synonym for some other emotional state like hope or 'confidence', or they will use the synonym 'religion'. I won’t go into it more here, I've already covered faith in the following video, here, and argued against R.R. Reno's idea of using faith instead of reason in education here.

Claim 5: Stop saying Atheism is just a lack of belief in gods.

Oops.  I think I've fully violated that one.  The reason why Patton says this, is because he is convinced that Atheism is more than that.  He makes a claim that the reason why Atheists say that Atheism is a lack of belief is because Atheists are trying to avoid the burden of proof.  There are a couple of things going on here.  The first, is that the reason why no one claims to be a-leprechuanist or a-Thorist is because leprechaun and Thor are not Greek words (though Atheism includes a-Thorists). Secondly, and again, Patton is nor raging against Atheism, but Skepticism.  Now, it is true that many Atheists in the US come to it through Skepticism, but they are not the same thing.  In fact, the man who argued for modern skepticism was very devout indeed!  Rene Descartes formulated the principal of doubt as a starting point to figure out how we could ever know anything. 

Before Descartes, new knowledge was mashed with old preconceptions, and it the new did not fit, it was often rejected.  Copernicus had this problem, as did Galileo, with the authorities at that time.  Descartes said that to gain new knowledge it is best to begin from a state of utter doubt, and let the evidence guide our conclusions.  This one principle has guided scientific inquiry for the past 400 years.  This one principle is the foundation that led to discoveries that feed the world, that prevent and cure disease that got us to the moon.  Now, as devout as Descartes was, he began from is principle of doubt and arrived at a "necessary, and good god" conclusion.  But, that was due to certain assumptions that can easily be argued away today.

So, since Patton is confused on what Atheism is, and he is actually arguing against Skepticism…

What Patton is trying to get at is that people need a world view and that Atheism is a part of it.  He is basically making a Red HerringFallacy, by misusing the term Atheism to distract what he is really against: world views other than his own. While he is correct that Atheism is a part of an Atheist's world view, Atheism itself is not a world view.  Patton proposes the following questions are necessary to answer to have a world view:
• Is there such a thing as morality?
• Does man have free will?
• Why is there something rather than nothing?
• What is the basis for rationality?
For each of these questions, Atheism is an irrelevant concept; meaning that the concept of Atheism does not answer the question. 

Question: "Is there such a thing as morality?"

Answer: "A lack of belief in gods"

See, it doesn’t fit.  So then what is he getting at?  He is railing against modern philosophy and science, which are beginning to answer those questions in a manner that is more in touch with reality than the authoritarian mandates of religion. 

Can Skeptical inquiry answer such questions?  Let us consider some questions then (note: these questions are far from exhaustive):

Is there such a thing as morality?  A skeptic would ask such questions:  What is morality?  Is it universal or not?  Can morality be determined either philosophically or through the eyes of science, say evolution, or sociology?

Does man have free will?  A skeptic would start with, "what IS free will?"  Is free will even possible?  Then the Skeptic would tackle the problem if man has it.

Why is there something rather than nothing?  A skeptic would begin thusly: What do we mean by nothing?  Is nothing even possible?  Does the original question, itself, have any real meaning?

What is the basis for rationality?  The skeptic would then ask, "What is logic?"  What does it mean to know?  How do we know if we know?  What is the best way to use knowledge to find new knowledge?  Can we use knowledge to find knowledge?

Again, the questions above are far from exhaustive, and many a career in philosophy has been made just focusing on one set of questions above.  So, why not just use some sort of variation of "god did it" To answer the above questions?  Because then you would have to prove two things: One that there is in fact a god (more specifically your god) and two, you would have to prove that god did, in fact, do it.  It is the same burden of proof that ANYONE has when trying to answer the above questions.  Do Atheists have the same burden of proof to answer the above? Of course they do.  But, Atheism does not, as it is a concept with a singular meaning and it is a meaning that has nothing to do with explaining anything other than a singular person's acceptance of any gods.

Modern philosophy and science are used more and more to answer the above questions and people are relying less and less on religion for those answers.  Religion is losing its special status, its power, and the shamans of the world's religions are fighting to keep their power.  

The closing remarks of Patton’s diatribe against Atheism is another ad hominem against Atheists.  But, he did offer to pray for us.  I think I can speak for many Atheists by saying, “keep praying.  Want to try to convert us? Stay at home and pray for us.  Want to spread the word at a school?  Stay and home and pray that your god will reveal himself.  Is it the second Tuesday in November?  For the love of democracy, stay at home and pray!”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cynthia Davis (R-O'Fallon) doesn't know how government works.

The following link is to the original post from the Turner Report:
The Turner Report: Cynthia Davis: Radical left wants to keep all Chri...: (From former Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, who is now an internet talk show host) Last May I was invited to attend the St. Charles C...

Davis is another legislature that is jumping on the "persecuted" Christian bandwagon.  Cynthia Davis is the same State Representative that in 2009 wanted to do away with the Summer Lunch Program in Missouri schools because, I quote, "hunger can be a positive motivator."  Yeah, because all a 9 year old poor kid needs is a little hunger to go out and get a job.  That's a big F-You to parents and kids of parents who were hit hard by the recession just a year earlier.

Anyway, Davis is making the outrageous claim that "the left" is trying to do away with Christians in government and create a new government.  Yeah, this is a woman people elect to government who is saying this.  Of course she is referring to Kim Davis (no relation), who has been imprisoned for contempt of court for refusing to issue licences to gay couples.  So, because the clerk is not doing her job, and is being penalized for defying court order, now Christians are being persecuted.

C. Davis tries to explain why there are Constitutional bases to fight against the "persecution" of Kim Davis.  C. Davis lists four Constitutional reasons why Kim Davis, and thus all Christians, is being persecuted.

1) The Kentucky State Constitution says that marriage is between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. This, Kim Davis was upholding the Kentucky State Constitution.

FAIL:  The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land.  The Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage is against the protections within the Constitution.  The reasoning is the same as former bans on mixed race marriage (whose opponents gave the exact same arguments against it as they do now for gay marriage), banning marriage for certain groups violates the right to their religion, privacy, and their 9th and 14th Amendment rights.

Thus, the Supreme Court's ruling trumps Kentucky's Constitution.  Their one man, one woman amendment is a waste of ink.  This is how America works, a Representative, even at the state level, should know this.

2) C. Davis then emphatically stresses that Supreme Court opinions do not create new laws. In fact, the Supreme Court can only declare a law unconstitutional and cannot ever create a new law.

FAIL: C. Davis throws out a Fallacy of Equivocation in this bit.  She tries to be slick by putting the word opinion in all-caps.  Why this is slick, is that the is trying to equivocate a court opinion with an emotive opinion.  An emotive opinion is one that cannot be falsified, one that is solely personal preference.  These opinions are such, "blue is the prettiest color," or Justin Bieber is a better singer than Justin Timberlake,"

You see, each court ruling is accompanied by an opinion by the judge.  This is an opinion in the same way as a doctor uses it.  The Judges opinion is his view on the correct course of action -- his ruling --  (a diagnosis for a doctor) based on facts presented (symptoms for a doctor) and how they fit together gleaned from arguments by the attorneys (or how the symptoms interact in the patient).  These opinions make case precedent.  Precedent is used to keep laws consistent, that way what will get you punished one day, is acceptable by another judge at another time.

Secondly, the Supreme Court cannot make a law.  But it can interpret laws and declare laws unconstitutional.  And that is what the Supreme Court did in this case, it interpreted existing laws and declared that discrimination against gays in regards to marriage is unconstitutional.  So, no new laws were made, the Supreme Court only upheld existing laws.

3) C. Davis states that the governor of Kentucky should be able to order the release of Kim Davis, and that the gay-thing is a state issue, not a federal one.  She then reiterates that Kim Davis would be breaking Kentucky law if she issued marriage licences to gay couples.  In fact, C. Davis says that there is no federal law to counter the Kentucky law.

FAIL:  First, C. Davis fails on whose "issue" it is.  Kim Davis is a representative of the state of Kentucky.  Disagreements between citizens and their state IS a federal problem!  I do not mean the state of Kentucky disciplining Kim Davis, I mean the gay couples in conflict with the state of Kentucky.  That is a federal issue, and a federal judge gave a lawful order for Kim Davis to comply with the law under the current interpretation of the Supreme Court.  Kim Davis was not persecuted for refusing gay marriage, she was prosecuted for contempt of court!

Secondly, Kim Davis would break no law in issuing a gay marriage license. The reason is that the Supreme Court's ruling was that states cannot restrict marriage based on sexual orientation.  That ruling nullified the Kentucky law.  In other words, the Kentucky constitutional amendment is rendered null and void.  It is NOT a law anymore.

Lastly, since Cynthia has yet to learn this, there is a federal law that trumps the Kentucky law.  It is called the Constitution of the United States.  The laws are the 9th and 14th Amendments.  The 9th says that rights not given to the government belong to the people, and the 14th says that a citizen cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process and extends the law to all citizens. In other words, states cannot discriminate against people when they write laws.  Laws like no interracial marriage... or gay marriage.

4) Cynthia (I cannot continue to give her a formal moniker, as she has lost all of my respect at this point) then comes up with an absurd scenario of the Governor of Kentucky sending the national guard to arrest the federal judge and "rescue" Kim Davis. Then she reiterates that the federal judge had no legal right to order Kim to do her job.  Lastly, Cynthia pleads that if nothing is done, then states won't be able to write their own laws.

FAIL: Yeah, a state that rises up against the federal government is a conservative's wet dream.  But the governor of Kentucky had no legal ground to send troops to "rescue" Kim, let alone arrest a federal judge.

Again, the judge was in the right, Kim wasn't.  I won't reiterate why, I've already done so.

The bit about stopping the federal government lest states be powerless.  She makes not only a false dichotomy (either we fight against this one law, or states won't be able to pass laws any more), but also she over exaggerates.  No, Cynthia, gays being able to marry is not going to nullify state constitutions, just like ending Jim Crow didn't.

5)    Here, Cynthia offers some Christian-rant about how screwing doesn't require a license.  And if sex doesn't require one, then gays don't need one.

FAIL: Neither do straights.  Straight people do not need to get married either.  But then some people, such as Kim Davis, like getting married so much they do it four times.  Basically, Cynthia lays out every bigoted reason Christians have against gays in one paragraph.  It's a pedantically written, vitriolic prose that perfectly captures the bigotry taught by many Christian churches.

6) Cynthia has the audacity to claim that gays should stand up for Kim Davis as well. Her reasoning is that the issue is not gay rights, it is civil rights. She states that if gays do not fight against barring Kim Davis from refusing to issue licenses then we all will lose our freedom of religion, state constitutions and civil rights.

FAIL: Here, Cynthia has just failed as a human being.  It is her bronze age religious beliefs that pit her against gays.  If you want to sit around thinking all gays are bad, fine.  If you want to sit around thinking that all women need to be subordinate to a man (which is in the same gay-hating book) then fine.  If all of that is in your religion, so be it.  You have the right to think that way.  What you do NOT have the right to do is interfere with anyone else's right to religion including their rejection of religion in general, and rejection of YOUR religion specifically.

In America, your right to punch ends where the other guy's nose begins.  Kim Davis is abusing her powers to punch out gays.  Sorry, Cynthia, sorry Kim, but your religious beliefs do not entitle you to force others to live with your bigoted and immoral values.  This is doubly true for agents acting on behalf of the government.  You see, Cynthia, in America, our civil liberties are tied directly with enfranchisement with the system.  When you treat a certain class of people differently, it runs the risk of disenfranchising them, of creating a second class citizenry.  Plessy v Ferguson institutionalized racism in America for about 70 years.  It has taken decades of fighting to desegregate the US, and fully enfranchise blacks and other racial minorities in the US.  Cynthia, your bigoted rage against gays and gay marriage is no different than your Jim Crow loving predecessors.

George Takei said it best in a recent Facebook post (emphasis mine):
Well this is a bit of a circus. So let us be clear: This woman is no hero to be celebrated. She broke her oath to uphold the Constitution and defied a court order so she could deny government services to couples who are legally entitled to be married. She is entitled to hold her religious beliefs, but not to impose those beliefs on others. If she had denied marriage certificates to an interracial couple, would people cheer her? Would presidential candidates flock to her side? In our society, we obey civil laws, not religious ones. To suggest otherwise is, simply put, entirely un-American.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sheriffs Showing Allegiance to god, Not Duty to Citizens

Several counties in Missouri have begun placing "In God We Trust" stickers on patrol cars.  Today, Jasper County, where I live, have begun to do the same.  The pic below is the "press release" the department put on Facebook.

The release reads:
The Jasper County Sheriff's Office is very pleased to announce that we are adding "In God We Trust" decals to the vehicles in our fleet. The first vehicles have begun to have the decal applied this week. We are extremely fortunate that many citizens, businesses and organizations of Jasper County have volunteered to help finance the making of the decals.
Randee KaiserJasper County Sheriff
Does the Kaiser not know that he is alienating pretty much every citizen that does not believe in the Abrahamic god?  I have no problem with a civil servant wearing a cross, or a crescent, or a pentagram on a chain around their neck.  That is a personal statement about the individual, and I'm all for that. But when they advertise for Yahweh on public property, that is a big no-no.  It is the religious equivalent of them painting a Confederate flag on the roof of the squad cars.

I have sent the Freedom From Religion Foundation a violation report.
If you live in Jasper or Stone county, please send in a report to the FFRF, or Americans United to report your sheriff department for a blatant violation of church and state.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Atheist Answers "Atheism on Trial" from Philosophy Now Magazine

In the August/September 2015 issue of Philosophy now, Stephen Anderson explores Atheism by putting the concept on trial.  While the author thinks it is a clever way to write an article, the meat of the article is lacking; it is all style, no substance.  I love reading Philosophy Now magazine and I implore you to read Atheism on Trial for yourself in its entirety preferably before or even after you read this article.  I will not reproduce the entire Philosophy Now article here, as I usually do, but rather I will pull out quotes from the article and respond.  Feel free to put any questions you have or inaccuracies you find in the comments below.
There was a time – some years ago – when to profess disbelief in a Supreme Being could be hazardous to one’s health. You could get hacked to pieces with a scimitar or boiled in oil. Neither the public nor the authorities had much tolerance.
This is called the Middle East, and it is NOW!  Anderson is, of course, talking about Medieval Europe, and Christianity, but killing apostates and Atheists still happens, and by followers of the same Abrahamic god.
 Today, atheism has taken its comfortable seat by the fire and has its feet up. It has de facto control of education, the universities, and the academic press. It is the go-to position of our media and the controlling assumption of political discourse. Popular atheist authors have no trouble churning out bestsellers and culling invitations to speak. Atheism has never been so respectable. 
Anderson must be from a Scandinavian country.  In the US, most people have no qualms about reminding Atheists about their not-so-comfortable seat IN the fire.  The US was built as a secular government so all religions would have equal protection under the law.  Yet, we have god on our currency and our patrol cars.  11 States have statutes that bar Atheists from holding public office and celebrities such a Oprah and Steve Harvey publicly declare that Atheists cannot have morals because they have no god-belief. The only place in America where Atheists are treated respectably are in academia, which itself is a very small percentage of the population.
Maybe the really daring thing today is not being an atheist, but challenging atheism. It can certainly be risky, and can provoke a whole lot of knee-jerk animus, even if one supplies good arguments to back one’s case.
Anderson must be a Christian.  Why do I say that?  In two sentences he tries to build the case that being non-Atheist means being persecuted.  I run into this all the time with Christians.  At first I thought it was just a rhetorical tactic, and for some it is, but for most Christians it is because they've never had their core beliefs challenged on such a fundamental level.  Theists place a great deal of their identity in their god and their religion.  To claim it is all fairy-tales is to claim they are living a lie.  Such a notion causes great cognitive dissonance within the theistic mind.

But Anderson is saying something else too.  It's subtle until you see it.  He is right off saying that Atheist counter-arguments to his theistic assertions are merely "knee-jerk animus" despite what Anderson considers a good argument.  Mr. Anderson, if your argument has a soul-crushing (as it were) counter-argument, then it is by definition NOT a good argument.

Before we begin the trial, perhaps we ought to clarify the case. What is ‘atheism’?
Good start, we must always define what we are to argue against not only to clarify and elucidate our exact position, but to also so counter-points can be honestly made.
In answering, let us observe the principle of charity.
I smell a trap.
This means we ought to address an opposing view in its strongest and most representative form, rather than in any of its weaker or less representative forms. In charity, then, we must ask ourselves, ‘What is the strongest form of atheism?’
 And here is the first mistake.  Catch it?
To begin with, we could consider a basic definition. ‘Atheism’ is clearly ‘a-’ plus ‘theism’. Theism is from the Greek for God (or gods), of course; and the ‘a-’ prefix is the Greek negation of whatever it’s prefixing. Thus atheism means simply ‘no God’. It claims there exists no kind of god.
That’s basic. But we might ask, ‘Is it really necessary to understand atheism as so  
Here is Anderson's mistake: The Fallacy of Equivocation.  What Anderson is equivocating is Strong Atheism with run-of-the-mill Atheism.  In itself, Atheism simply means a lack of belief in any gods. In Strong Atheism, not only are the various gods not believed in, but the Atheist takes the position that it is more likely that proofs against the gods is stronger than proofs for the gods.  Strong Atheism is not held by all atheists.  In fact, Strong Atheists are a minority in the Atheist community.  Why? I don't know. What I think to be the case is that Strong Atheists tend to be exceptionally skeptical and rational and were once theists. However, it was their skepticism and reason that saved their mind. Most Atheists in the world were never indoctrinated to begin with.  Most Atheists in the US realized at some point that it was all hogwash and that was that, their Sundays are now free.

Anderson makes his equivocation so he may commit on of the most basic of logical fallacies.  He is trying to set up a straw man. By using Atheism in a highly specific, and inaccurate, way, Anderson can use arguments specific to a certain position even though those arguments do not work on the basic position as a whole.  The reason for this is that, to Anderson, it will be easier to show that Strong Atheism is a weak position, without addressing Atheism as a whole.  Remember, Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any gods, so even if the theist can show that there might be some sort of deity floating out in space, the Atheist can always fall back on asking which one.  That then puts the theist on the defensive as they then have to prove that their specific deity is the correct one. Apparently, Anderson has made that mistake before and does not want to repeat it.

I will spare the quote, but Anderson brings in agnosticism into the mix and tries to muddy the waters by saying that agnostics want to believe, they just have no proof.  Of course he then goes on to say that Atheists do not want to include agnostics because that would make believing in a god a personal thing, and not a statement of reality.  I won't say much on this other than Anderson confuses agnosticism with atheism.  Agnosticism meant "I don't know".  If someone says they are agnostic it means that they don't know if there is a god or gods.  That is a statement of reality.  Most Atheists are agnostic Atheists meaning that they don't know if there are any gods and they do not believe in them. A Strong Atheist is more of a gnostic Atheist, meaning they find arguments against the gods convincing and do not believe in any gods.  By itself, Atheism is a personal statement, but then so is theism!  Belief is a personal thing.  However, most theists are gnostic theists, meaning they know the god they believe in exists. But their religion requires it.  Atheism has no such requirement.

Anderson then goes on some asinine comments about whether or not he should believe that Denmark is a real place or not. What he is trying to do is get the reader thinking that his denial of evidence to the existence of Denmark is of equal value to Atheistic skepticism of supernatural deities.  This is done to make the point that an Atheist wouldn't want his agnostic friends coming along for the trial. Again, most Atheists are agnostics, so still, it is only a minority of Atheists that Anderson is willing to put on trial.
Again, the principle of charity must come into play. In ancient Rome, Christians were persecuted as ‘atheists’ because they failed to believe in enough gods. But I doubt very much that sort of characterization of their position would satisfy modern atheists. So we must be clear: do atheists wish to deny only one God, or two gods, or the entire spectrum of possible gods?
I think it must be all. I don’t know of any atheist who would be happy to think that Zeus doesn’t exist but Ares does; that Thor and Loki don’t exist but Allah does; that Yahweh doesn’t exist but the pantheon of Hindu gods is real. For a true atheist, I think all gods, no matter of what name or nature, have to be out: and I think I’m staying in the true atheist spirit in saying so.
Well, at least Anderson gets something right.  Christians are still atheistic about all but one god. Atheists just disbelieve in more more god than Christians.
But if this is true, then this thorough-going atheism can no longer get any support from one of the New Atheist’s favourite objections; namely, that things in this world are messed up, and this negates any possibility of there being a good God. For the apparent disorder of the world could rather be evidence of an evil or uncaring God. But these possibilities cannot matter here, since atheism has to deny the existence of even an indifferent or evil Supreme Being. 
Ah, the specter of New Atheism!  Again, equivocation.  To be fair, most, if not all New Atheists are Strong Atheists, but New Atheism is and Anti-Theist movement.  Anti-Theism holds that religion itself is a bad thing. No good religion has done cannot also be done by secular means.  However, religion - or more specifically faith-based belief and the absolute obedience righteousness requires - can make good people do the most evil things. That is a far different position than simply not believing in any gods.
 This makes the famous ‘Argument from Evil’ so beloved by New Atheists simply off topic: the existence of evil or injustice does not count as evidence against gods of every possible kind, and leaves harsh, judgmental or indifferent gods as possible. (Though maybe it can even be answered with some explanation that allows for a benevolent God, such as the argument from free human will).
Quite the contrary!  I love invoking the problem of evil to Christians and Muslims.  They hold their god as a loving god, yet cannot morally reconcile the flood story or even that of Sodam and Gamora, or the plagues of Egypt.  As far as free will goes, the concept of free will further muddies the waters of morality (the last topic in the video here) and free will itself is a wonky concept especially when applied to religion (the first topic in the video here).
So atheists say that no god of any kind exists. But we must now ask, do they do so merely out of raw will, or fear, or personal preference, or private taste, or do they sincerely hope to do this on an evidentiary basis? The atheists I meet say, “We disbelieve because of the evidence.” Usually, they insist that something like history, science, truth or logic is on their side; and that something like credulity, superstition, and foolishness is essentially on the other side. But here, we need to pause to consider rather than assume the nature of appropriate evidence.
Quite right, most Strong Atheists are skeptics.  In fact, it is skepticism that led to Atheism to begin with!  So, what does Anderson want to do?  Attack skepticism.  Funny that skepticism was one of the terms he eliminated at the beginning, yet his first real attack on Atheism is an attack on skepticism. Intellectual battles, like that of the god question often encompass far more than the immediate topic. Today is no exception. However, I should say that the intellectual battle that Anderson is readying his analytical knife for hinges on whether or not it is better to not believe until evidence supports such a belief, OR should we believe first and try to reconcile that belief with the current body of knowledge until evidence shows the belief cannot be true.  The latter was the mode of thinking during the Dark Ages, the latter was developed by Rene Descartes to show that reality is real and that there is a benevolent god.  Ironically, it is Descartes who re-birthed skepticism and gave Atheists one of their strongest tools; the doctrine of doubt.  This is the basis not only for modern skepticism, but for science as well.  I won't go too much into it here and I've already covered all of this in addressing R.R. Reno's desire to dumb down our education system.

Anderson sets up his next attack by eloquently (at least far more so than myself) bringing in evidence for finding the rate of gravity on earth and then saying that (rightly enough) that the strength and type of evidence depends on the subject and depth of the question.
 For atheism, the statement is that “Evidence shows that there is no God.” 
And here it is. Why Anderson spent the introduction to his piece  defining Atheism in general as Strong Atheism.  Most Atheists hold that there is no evidence for gods, NOT there is evidence of no god.  See the difference?  In the first case, the burden of proof rests solely on the theist because the burden of proof lies with the person making the positive claim.  When you hear positive claim, it means the claim the evidence is FOR.  A negative claims is what the evidence is AGAINST something.  Negative claims happen all the time; as it turns out, you can prove a negative. Most atheists hold a null hypothesis, meaning that they recognize no proofs for the existence of gods, and do not recognize, or bother with, proofs against the gods yet refuse to believe in any gods until at least one is proven. The soft Atheist position is the hardest to assail, so Anderson leaves them alone. Instead he attacks the Strong Atheist position as he thinks (wrongly) that it is easier.

Many theists believe God is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent. They also believe that He transcends the limits of time and space. They believe He has existed historically, and will continue to exist indefinitely; and so on. We must ask, then, “What is sufficient evidence to rule out the existence of such a being?”
Ah, the ever-impossible Abrahamic god.
As with the gravity example, one would have to conduct an investigation that fits the scope of the subject. It would certainly not be enough to decide the matter on the basis of personal preference or taste. Nor would it do to make a perfunctory personal search of the local terrain, and then declare victory. For an evidentiary denial of the God concept implies much more substantial proof. One would need to rule out every reasonable possibility of positive evidence for his existence.
Or we could take a short cut and rule out classes that meet the requirements. If god is outside time and space, then we can rule out all tests that measure time and space. But then if we do that, we've eliminated everything that would indicate any involvement of a deity on the universe.  We should also eliminate personal tastes, preferences as they are purely emotional in nature, and have no bearing on reality outside the person experiencing the emotions.  We should also eliminate any and all personal accounts because not only are eye-witnesses notoriously inaccurate in their recollections, but because any way to test their claims is eliminated by the space-time non-test-ability.
If indeed a description of God includes the sort of attributes I listed, then the atheists’ claim of evidence against His existence is completely unfounded.
This is a subtle attempt to throw in the Ontological Argument for god. While Anderson does not do so explicitly, the specter of ontology is brought up as a matter of fact, not as something itself that is disputable, which it is very much so.
Adequate evidence for atheism would require the observer to go everywhere, at all times, see everything, test everything, and eliminate all possibilities – then, having found that God was neither here nor there, neither in time nor in any dimension of space, neither on earth or anywhere around the universe, not in history and not in eternity – only then could he or she justifiably claim to have sufficient evidence to warrant atheism! 
We've already eliminated this, by holding god to be outside time and space. To say that an Atheist must physically look everywhere is to make a sort of reverse god of the gaps argument.  To say that every physical place must be observed is to hold that god was just where you weren't looking.  We can make the same argument with gravity.  No one can observe gravity.  Look under every rock, on every planet, in every galaxy and never find gravity.  This is because gravity is a concept to explain a certain phenomenon. While the phenomenon itself cannot be observed, its effects can. So what would the effects of a god be? Life? Something rather than nothing? we have to ask the right questions, and not look for the smell of the color two.
Now ask yourself: what sort of evidence will be necessary if I am to win? It’s not impossible. I will have to travel to all the places where an okapi could be found – the deep jungles, the grassy plains, the mountain valleys, and perhaps as well the zoos, the private collections and the illegal markets for animals. Having done all that, I could say, “I was right; no okapi exists.” Now, in contrast, ask yourself this: what would my colleagues, the okapi-believers have to do? How far would they have to go, and how many okapis would they have to locate in order to falsify my skepticism? That’s right: one. One single, solid, verifiable counter-case would be sufficient to bring my whole okapi-skepticism down.
Anderson is playing at sophistry here.  I am becoming convinced that he is a Sophist, and not a philosopher. What Anderson illustrates in the above paragraph is quite correct.  Without producing an okapi (or a yeti, or a unicorn) the skeptic mind would not believe in it.  And producing just one would suffice to provide belief.  Would that make the skeptic wrong?  nope, he would just reserve belief until evidence shows otherwise.  This is the position of most Atheist towards the gods.  However, Anderson is wailing not against Atheism as a whole but rather the Strong Atheist position.

In this case, Anderson is being disingenuous with his analogy.  In fact he is making a false analogy. it is false because because okapi are just another species of deer, or elk, or something similar. While they may be so rare that zoologists took forever in finding them led to skepticism of their existence, their existence was always held to be possible.  A more accurate analogy would be with unicorns. While there may be, or once have been, a horse with a single horn protruding from its head, it is not possible that such a creature existed that had magical powers.
You see, by positioning themselves as defending a negative, atheists have put themselves at a horrible disadvantage. If it should turn out to be the case that just one of the various sources of religious revelation claimed by the many varieties of theists should turn out to be true, if even one of the many phenomena attributed to the Supreme Being should turn out to be genuine, or if just one of the people on the earth had ever had a real experience with God, then atheism would be decisively defeated. And this explains yet another reason why atheists are forced to pretend they’ve rationally eliminated the possibility God exists – they are terribly vulnerable to disproof. Only if all religions are bunkum, only if all believers are deluded, only if all Gods are eliminated is atheism secure.
Even the most stringent of Strong Atheists are still waiting for this proof. If just ONE verifiable case of the supernatural (let alone any gods) were to present itself, then the Atheist would reevaluate his or her claims. If that supernatural phenomenon can be conclusively linked to a supreme being, then the Atheist would change his or her world view.  At least I hope they would, that would be the only intellectually honest thing to do.  After all, the only game changer to human outlook than aliens stopping by to say hi, would be to find proof of Odin or Zeus!  Yet we are still waiting for that evidence.
I am not saying that just because atheism is irrational we must all become theists immediately – various forms of agnosticism are still viable. It is however true that we have already detected significant vulnerabilities in these alternatives, and that is why we did not burden atheists with them in the first place. This has spared atheism instant humiliation, perhaps; but we have not been able to save it. Atheism simply isn’t a rational choice.
Oh this'll be good.  let me guess, we're in for some presuppositional apologetics. It's a tiresome approach because of the mental somersaults needed to go through to arrive at the conclusion that presuppositional apologetics is basically one of the most convoluted arguments out there. So, on to the nest paragraph and let's begin.
Its chief proponents know it. I can think of no atheist of recent times more celebrated than the late Antony Flew. But he died a Deist, leaving an account of his transformation titled, There is No A God. What about contemporary atheism’s most famous proponent, Richard Dawkins? He’s not much help: he’s realized the problem and publicly declared himself a ‘convinced agnostic.’ (Witness it for yourself: This, of course, raises the question why, on other occasions, Professor Dawkins still allows himself to be called an atheist. Perhaps he senses that agnosticism simply cannot offer the kind of serious resistance to the idea of God that he wants to promote; and as a rhetorical flourish, atheism makes better press. But whenever he is pressed on the irrationality of that term, you can see that he lapses into calling himself a ‘convinced agnostic’ instead.
Really?  Seriously? Anderson offers not an argument but rather the word-salad above that amounts to nothing more than an argument from authority fallacy? I had to look up Antony Flew, I had never heard of him before. That he turned to Deism late in life is no surprise, he was dying.  It is more comforting to believe in something after death than nothing.  And the comment on Dawkins, sure, he said that, but the joke is on Anderson.  remember an Atheist simply does not believe in a deity, an agnostic finds no evidence for or against the existence of a deity.  He allows that a god may be possible, but not in any way that is meaningful to humans, and definitely not the Abrahamic god!

Yet the strength of Anderson's claim that Atheism is irrational is not in presuppositional apologetics, but in that he produced a case where one influential Atheist turned into a theist, and another considers himself more of a hard agnostic than an atheist. Mr. Anderson, listen very carefully: in the Atheistic community, we do not recognise authority in ideas.  Expertise, yes, but not authority.  Just because someone says something, does not make it so. Just take a look at the Richard Dawkins Facebook fan page, when ever he says or tweets something a bit off, like the fiasco about aborting a Down's Syndrome baby and starting again, we call him out on it!  No one in the Atheist community speaks with authority, which is how it is in the science community.  It is the strength of WHAT is posited that is evaluated, not WHO said it.

The Verdict

Why then, we might ask, is atheism so popular? Why does it enjoy so much grace in the public eye, and why is it so often the default position in the academy? The motives cannot be philosophical, for atheism is not a position that can be compelled or sustained by logic. It is perhaps tempting to observe that something more visceral is at work. Ignorance? Evasion? Faddism? Or posturing? (After all, there is a considerable difference between wanting to appear intellectual and actually being intellectual). Whatever the case, it’s hard not to see that reason has left the building.
As for the Supreme Being, if He has seemed reticent to weigh in on this debate, it is not too surprising. Those who claim to know something about Him have often insisted that God is particularly uninterested in bowing to the demands of the hard-hearted cynic. As the Tanakh says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’.” That looks justified. Even by our most charitable account, we have seen that atheism is a disingenuous, bombastic claim to certainty, one without evidence or logic. What then can one call it but foolishness?
Oy vey!  Here is Anderson's closing in its entirety. Is Atheism popular? No, not at all, but religious "nones" are growing in America. It is not at all popular, even a death sentence in the Middle East and in parts of Africa and the Far East.  Is it illogical?  Mr. Anderson, you claimed to be able to show that it is, but failed in a most basic way. In failing to do so, you must resort to intellectual name calling. Calling someone a fool for failing to hold your particular god-belief is just that, name calling. Is it just me or does anyone else find it interesting that Anderson posits that those "in the know" about the gods say that their god will not "[bow] to the demands of the hard-hearted cynic." A cynic? That's a word that gets thrown around a lot, so let's look at it:
a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.
"some cynics thought that the controversy was all a publicity stunt"
a member of a school of ancient Greek philosophers founded by Antisthenes, marked by an ostentatious contempt for ease and pleasure. The movement flourished in the 3rd century BC and revived in the 1st century AD.
So which is it? Is Anderson saying that Atheists view others as motivated solely by self interest, or that we follow a 2000 year old Greek aesthetic lifestyle?   I think he means skeptic which is simply to doubt until evidence shows otherwise. But even then, that is skepticism, not Atheism. I shall resign myself from name calling; or at least any further name calling. I will not make fun of this article that one would normally expect from a first-year philosophy minor.  The kind of work that said student would re-read two years later and laugh at his own naivety.  We can be comfortable in the knowledge that Mr. Anderson  tried to run with the adults, but he came in last and must go back to what ever church he preaches at in the kiddie pool.
© Dr Stephen L. Anderson 2015
Stephen Anderson is a philosophy teacher in London, Ontario.
Oh.  Doctor?  Teaches philosophy?  I couldn't find any further credentials for Anderson, so I don't know if he is a medical doctor, has a doctorate in divinity, theology, astrology or other flim-flam, or if he has a legitimate doctorate.  Nor could I find out if he teaches on the street corner or at a university.  Oh well, he calls himself a doctor, but still, unless this whole piece was satire, and I missed it (I really hope that is the case) or he should get a refund on his degree.