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Saturday, December 31, 2016


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Welcome to my blog. I have always felt hesitant about starting one of my own, but I finally decided that I needed a place to discuss all of my views in a more open manner. So, for my very first post, I guess I should explain who I am and why I started this blog in the first place. Who am I? My name is Adam Taylor. I've recently turned 21 (as of writing this), and I have a strong interest in world issues. Namely, issues regarding religion, politics, science (and what I consider pseudo-science), what some people may refer to as "conspiracy theories," and (as I say at the top of this site) whatever else I can think of. My views are often perceived by people I know and don't know as strange. I've always sorta been that way. But I can safely say that everything I believe has always had basis and fact behind it. I know some might consider that my own opinion, but I would counter by saying that it is merely your opinion that what I believe is based on opinion. Got it? :) Even though I may believe some strange things, I'm not really strange myself. I'm very normal. I've just seen and heard a lot of very strange things. So what are my main interests these days?


Anyone with access to the internet knows about the debates about what really happened on September 11th, 2001. People who question the official narrative of what happened are labeled "conspiracy theorists." However, I would say that I don't fit this category, since I don't place blame on any particular person or persons. I really don't know who carried out the attacks. Why do I research this topic? I initially was very skeptical of the alternative theories surrounding the attacks, and didn't give them any real notice. Then in late 2007, after seeing a documentary on the History Channel regarding these theories, I decided to look into it more. After years of research, I believe that we have not been told the full truth about what happened that day. Although I have studied the attacks as a whole, my main focus of study has been the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC 7. I believe the official reports on their collapses are flawed, and that they were most likely destroyed through controlled demolition. I've written extensively on this issue over at the Debunking the Debunkers blog, which is an excellent site full of resources to study the attacks. Here's some of my best posts and other writings on the subject:

On the WTC building collapses:
Debunking the Debunkers' Free Fall Fallacies
The Physics of WTC 7
Collapse Rates of the WTC Consistent With Controlled Demolition
Distorted Tilt Confirmed
2/25/11 Answers from NIST to Questions by Chris Mohr, Journalist

Responses to Debunkers:
Debunking Joseph Nobles: Freefall Speed
Debunking Joseph Nobles: 7 Problems With 7 Responses (Part 2)
Debunking Joseph Nobles: Other Buildings (Part 2)
An Open Letter To Ryan Owens (Part 2)
The World Trade Center WAS a Controlled Demolition
9/11 Truth Movement RIP?
Feeding a troll
Building 7 Explained?
Why AlienEntity's Measurements Continue to Misrepresent WTC7's Fall Rate
K.T. Penn Exposed
The Reading Comprehension of Debunkers...

Articles posted on
FAQ #2: What about the planes that slammed into the Twin Towers? Wouldn’t they have disturbed the demolition devices?
FAQ #8: What Is Nanothermite? Could It Have Been Used To Demolish The WTC Skyscrapers?
Debunking the REAL 9/11 Myths: Why Popular Mechanics Can't Face Up to Reality

PDF articles:
A Critical Review of the 9/11 Mysteries Viewer's Guide
Other Collapses in Perspective: An Examination of Steel Structures Collapsing due to Fire and their Relation to the WTC

For more on why I started researching 9/11 and why I believe what I believe today, listen to my radio interview on PumpItOut Radio with researcher Jeff Hill and Debunking the Debunkers blog founder John-Michael Talboo.


I am an atheist. But I wasn't always one. Growing up I was raised a Methodist and attended church at least every other Sunday. But when I stopped going to church I began to question the claims of the religiously faithful. Part of what motivated me to start researching religion was watching the internet film Zeitgeist. The film talked about the history of religion, and showed a lot of evidence that indicated all religions, especially Christianity, appeared to be false. I wasn't sure what to think after watching the film. I then listened to what several debunkers had to say about the film, and all of them seemed to think that the movie got virtually everything wrong.

Of course I already knew that the debunkers were wrong in regards to the 9/11 section, but I wasn't sure about the religion section. I decided that I needed to look into this further. So I decided to read D.M. Murdock's book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection, which I had heard was the book she had written essentially in response to the Zeitgeist debunkers. After reading her amazing book, I realized right away how the debunkers were twisting her arguments and making outright false claims. Contrary to what many believe, the arguments presented in Zeitgeist are indeed backed up by strong scholarship and primary sources. Though I have not written much on the subject of religion and atheism due to my commitment to the 9/11 Truth Movement, I plan on posting much more on the subject now that I have started this separate blog. My one major writing on religion is a paper I wrote last year in college. In it, I argue that Jesus Christ likely never existed as a historical person on earth. My paper is provided in the link below.

Again, contrary to what many believe, there is sufficient reason to believe that the figure we know as Jesus never actually existed. I also have posted from time to time on the FreeThoughNation forum under the handle "S.T.F." The forum is a great place for researching the history of Christianity, and also does a fantastic job of defending the claims made in Zeitgeist. Though my intention is certainly not to offend anyone, I do believe we need to look past all these ridiculous taboos about not questioning religion. Whether we like it or not, there is probably no God. No one created us or the universe. But that does not mean we can't live a life of happiness and fulfillment. With enough time and research, I am confident that one day humanity will see that the same spiritual fulfillment found in religion can be also be found in science, which is what actually has improved our society throughout history. But please don't just take my word for. Do the research yourself. Question everything that deserves questioning. I firmly believe that every system that can be researched and tested should be researched and tested.

If you're interested in learning about what is and isn't true about religion, in addition to the book previously mentioned, here are some other books that have helped me get to where I am now:

Also be sure to check out the links I have posted in the atheism/religion section of this site.

My goals

Over the years I have gained a deep desire to discover as much truth about the world as I can. I've devoted myself to letting the evidence take me wherever is might go, regardless of whether or not I like the truth I find. The truth really does set us free, which might be one of the only useful things the Bible has taught us.

I believe that we have not been told the full truth about what happened on September 11th, 2001. I've tried to contribute to the great work being done in the 9/11 Truth Movement as much as I can. I was at the 9/11 Truth demonstration in New York for the tenth anniversary of the attacks. Being there in New York, it was more obvious than ever that we need to have a new investigation into the attacks to find out what really happened that terrible day.

I also believe that the religions of the world have done more to cripple our progress in society than to help it. Not only does the evidence overwhelmingly indicate that there is no God, but there is simply no need for him or for religion. We can find happiness and purpose with a completely naturalistic worldview. The time has come for us to except one true reality: that from the very beginning, God has only existed in our imagination.

My goal is to spread these truths to as many as possible. I wish to educate others so that we can make this world as sustanible and enjoyable as possible. I wish to encourage others to us emprical evidence and critical thinking in establishing their worldviews. Most of all, I hope you find some amount of value in what I say and write about. Even if you disagree with me, just the fact that you have taken the time to look into these matters is an accomplishment. It is only when we learn to work together and communicate with one another that will we finally have an ideal world. But we have to take that first step. This is our world, and we all have a duty to protect it.

Friday, July 8, 2016

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is, Like, Totes Harmful Yo

Recently, the so-called "March for Marriage" took place in Washington DC; a demonstration of bigots "traditionalists" who believe their right to take away other's rights was violated with
the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage last year. And to be honest, my reaction to it was, for the first time, not anger, sadness, bemusement, or anything you might expect. Rather, my first reaction was really just the impassive thought "huh, that's still a thing?". Cause the thing is, I had completely forgotten there was even going to be one this year. Their antics have now become so pathetic that they barely register to me. And that actually feels pretty good. What also feels good is looking over the videos put out covering it. From the looks of it, the turnout was lower than last year, and I imagine it's only going to get lower as the years go on. What was once one of the most rage-inducing bigotries is now dying a slow death. And that's a good thing. 

Still, you can't help but be dismayed at the complete lack of logic these clowns exhibit when they try to make their points. Today I stumbled across one video of the event, which in the description box included an article from the group "TFP Student Action," who state on their website:
Inspired by the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, TFP volunteers are on the front lines of the culture war, working to restore the values of Christian civilization.
Aw. How inspiring. The article in question is titled "10 Reasons Why Homosexual 'Marriage' is Harmful and Must be Opposed." Ooooh, you know this is gonna be backed by just all kinds of facts. (You can't see it, but I can't even type that with a straight face.) So, lets take a look at these so-called 10 reasons and see just what kind of intellectual smack-down these folks have for us.
1. It Is Not Marriage
Calling something marriage does not make it marriage. Marriage has always been a covenant between a man and a woman which is by its nature ordered toward the procreation and education of children and the unity and wellbeing [sic] of the spouses.
Nope, not even close to right. I have the hardest time imagining anyone who opposes gay marriage and who raises this point could possibly be any sort of historian. Marriage has had disparate definitions throughout history. Jason Colavito soundly refuted this kind of assertion last year, showing that, among other things, throughout history marriage has been largely polygamous. As he says, "virtually every form of family structure can find some support in history, so to choose among them and justify it through appeal to history is essentially picking which religion you think is the One True Faith, or which culture’s mode of expression to endorse."
The promoters of same-sex “marriage” propose something entirely different. They propose the union between two men or two women. This denies the self-evident biological, physiological, and psychological differences between men and women which find their complementarity in marriage. It also denies the specific primary purpose of marriage: the perpetuation of the human race and the raising of children.
As opposed to the traditional brand of marriage, which as we've seen was largely polyg-amous (and was abundant in the Bible as well). And leave it to Christians to commit the standard naturalistic fallacy. It's natural, therefore it's good! Funny how they never seem to use this logic for virtually everything else in their lives. And this point about the primary purpose of marriage being procreation and raising kids comes up again later, so we'll leave it for then to discuss. (Spoiler: It's as BS as the rest of their claims.)
2. It Violates Natural Law
Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It is a relationship rooted in human nature and thus governed by natural law.
Natural law’s most elementary precept is that “good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided.” By his natural reason, man can perceive what is morally good or bad for him. Thus, he can know the end or purpose of each of his acts and how it is morally wrong to transform the means that help him accomplish an act into the act’s purpose.
We've already sorta covered this point above. Again, classic naturalistic fallacy. I would like any Christian to explain to me why all other unnatural things (e.g. clothing, buildings, computers, plumbing, etc.) are perfectly fine, but this one thing is worth blowing their tops over. I do in fact "perceive what is morally good and bad" for me and others around me. And I base that on a rational determination of all the available information and evidence I have to work with. Gay marriage harms no one, and bigots have never presented a shred of evidence to suggest otherwise. 
Any situation which institutionalizes the circumvention of the purpose of the sexual act violates natural law and the objective norm of morality.
Being rooted in human nature, natural law is universal and immutable. It applies to the entire human race, equally. It commands and forbids consistently, everywhere and always. Saint Paul taught in the Epistle to the Romans that the natural law is inscribed on the heart of every man. (Rom. 2:14-15)
Circumvents the purpose of sexual acts huh? I assume that "purpose" is just the baby-making and nothing but the baby-making. Except if that's the case, why am I only seeing a march for this one specific issue? Where are the marches against condoms? Blowjobs? Threesomes? No, it's only this one "violation" of natural law that Christians are so obsessed 

And a few things to consider in regards to Paul: 1) In addition to homosexuality, Paul also taught that drunkards, adulterers, and idolaters are sinners who won't make it into heaven (but slavery is ok.) Again, don't see any marches against these kinds of people. (And I would argue at least one of them made up a significant portion of the folks who took part in this march.) 2) If the natural law is "inscribed" on the heart of every person, why do so many people see nothing wrong with homosexuality? Now they might say it's the "hardened 
heartsof secular folk like me, but that doesn't explain the numerous Christian groups who openly support same-sex marriage. What's the explanation for them? Hardness of heart? Did God forget to write the law in them? I'm sure they'll have an excuse, like everything else.
3. It Always Denies a Child Either a Father or a Mother
It is in the child’s best interests that he be raised under the influence of his natural father and mother. This rule is confirmed by the evident difficulties faced by the many children who are orphans or are raised by a single parent, a relative, or a foster parent.
And yet despite this, there are no massive marches in protest against single people adopting. Jesus, this is getting absurd. What does this have to do with gay couples raising kids?
The unfortunate situation of these children will be the norm for all children of a same-sex “marriage.”
Prove it. The anti-gay crowd has been claiming things like this for decades without any hard evidence to back it up. To date there are no studies showing that children raised by gay parents are any worse off than children raised by straight couples. Even the frequently touted "Regnerus Study" was shown to actually support the idea that gay couples raise children just fine. And a wealth of peer-reviewed studies support this conclusion as well. So for those who say gay parents don't raise children as well as straight parents, I say put up or shut up.
A child of a same-sex “marriage” will always be deprived of either his natural mother or father. He will necessarily be raised by one party who has no blood relationship with him. He will always be deprived of either a mother or a father role model.
And the relevance of this is what? Even supposing that gay couples don't raise children as well as straight couples, how does this lead to the conclusion that gays shouldn't be allowed to marry? Christians are aware of the fact that you don't have to have kids when you're married, right? If gay couples were bad at raising children, that would, at most, be grounds for forbidding them from adopting kids and raising them. But why then would they not be allowed to get married? How does this follow?
Same-sex “marriage” ignores a child’s best interests.
Yes, those gay folk who put in all that time and extra effort to get a kid because they can't have one naturally are sure to make bad parents who don't have a child's best interests at heart. Look at these horrid people. But seriously, I have the sneaking suspicion the people who wrote this article are just effing creeps. 
4. It Validates and Promotes the Homosexual Lifestyle
In the name of the “family,” same-sex “marriage” serves to validate not only such unions but the whole homosexual lifestyle in all its bisexual and transgender variants.
Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society. As such, they play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. They externally shape the life of society, but also profoundly modify everyone’s perception and evaluation of forms of behavior.
Legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” would necessarily obscure certain basic moral values, devalue traditional marriage, and weaken public morality.
Translation: Gays and bisexuals and trans-people, oh my! What these folk refer to as a "lifestyle," I'm pretty sure gay people just refer to as a "life." No, allowing gays to marry doesn't devalue "traditional" marriage, nor does it weaken public morality. But I'm sure people like these trying to institute their own theocratic rules over society does harm society, and does so in a far worse way.
5. It Turns a Moral Wrong into a Civil Right
Homosexual activists argue that same-sex “marriage” is a civil rights issue similar to the struggle for racial equality in the 1960s.
This is false.
First of all, sexual behavior and race are essentially different realities. A man and a woman wanting to marry may be different in their characteristics: one may be black, the other white; one rich, the other poor; or one tall, the other short. None of these differences are insurmountable obstacles to marriage. The two individuals are still man and woman, and thus the requirements of nature are respected.
Yep, and it's a good thing God was ok with interracial marriage too... oh waitNever mind. Regardless of what these people think counts as a valid difference, the only "obstacle" to marriage they've cited so far is that gay people can't naturally have kids. And as we've seen, this isn't even an obstacle in the first place. 
Same-sex “marriage” opposes nature. Two individuals of the same sex, regardless of their race, wealth, stature, erudition or fame, will never be able to marry because of an insurmountable biological impossibility.
Again, that impossibility is that gay couples can't naturally have kids, which is irrelevant. Say it with me Christians; you don't have to have kids to get married. And what about couples who are infertile? It's "biologically impossible" for them to have children too. Should they not be allowed to get married? How about post-menopausal women? The elderly? Women with their tubes tied and men with vasectomies? The inconsistency is staggering, let me tell ya.
Secondly, inherited and unchangeable racial traits cannot be compared with non-genetic and changeable behavior. There is simply no analogy between the interracial marriage of a man and a woman and the “marriage” between two individuals of the same sex.
Except there is plenty of evidence that homosexuality is natural and that people are born that way. And there's that little fact that gay people themselves have told us they were born that way too. But hey, I guess they all must be liars. Whoda thunk it? And holy shit, are we really only half way through this thing?!
6. It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally Sterile Union
Traditional marriage is usually so fecund that those who would frustrate its end must do violence to nature to prevent the birth of children by using contraception. It naturally tends to create families.
First of all, am I reading this correctly? Did you just refer to using contraception as "violence to nature"? Um, overreact much? Again, you seem to have missed the point that having children is optional in a marriage. Op. Tion. Al. Repeat enough times and maybe it will finally sink in. 
On the contrary, same-sex “marriage” is intrinsically sterile. If the “spouses” want a child, they must circumvent nature by costly and artificial means or employ surrogates. The natural tendency of such a union is not to create families.Therefore, we cannot call a same-sex union marriage and give it the benefits of true marriage.
Um, yeah. And straight couples who can't naturally have children do these kinds of things too. They circumvent nature just as much when they use these exact same methods. Where's their marches, huh? And did it ever occur to you that maybe the fact that gay people are willing to go through so much extra effort to have kids might be evidence they will make great parents up for the job? The fact is that, unlike straight couples, gay couples never have accidental children. Every time they have kids, it is intentional and carefully planned. But you'll never hear bigots put it that way. All that matters to them is that it's "unnatural" (i.e. icky).
7. It Defeats the State’s Purpose of Benefiting Marriage
One of the main reasons why the State bestows numerous benefits on marriage is that by its very nature and design, marriage provides the normal conditions for a stable, affectionate, and moral atmosphere that is beneficial to the upbringing of children—all fruit of the mutual affection of the parents. This aids in perpetuating the nation and strengthening society, an evident interest of the State.
And what stops the State from bestowing the same benefits on gay couples who are raising kids? Oh right, you think gay people shouldn't even have kids in the first place. But they are raising kids, and they will get those same benefits too. So yeah. Basically, tough shit.
Homosexual “marriage” does not provide such conditions. Its primary purpose, objectively speaking, is the personal gratification of two individuals whose union is sterile by nature. It is not entitled, therefore, to the protection the State extends to true marriage.
Yes, it must just be that personal gratification those pesky gays want (which itself I guess is a bad thing all on its own too?). It couldn't possibly be all those other legal benefits (like Social Security benefits, filing joint tax returns, immigration rights, and medical coverage), which are provided by marriage and not by civil unions. Nah, that couldn't be it. 
8. It Imposes Its Acceptance on All Society
By legalizing same-sex “marriage,” the State becomes its official and active promoter. The State calls on public officials to officiate at the new civil ceremony, orders public schools to teach its acceptability to children, and punishes any state employee who expresses disapproval.
Oh no, kids will learn that a totally harmless union is totally harmless and allowed? Oh the humanity! Surely kids will be scarred for life by such a thing.... Or not. Personally I think the only "children" who will be bothered by gay marriage are the adult children who wrote this article. And yeah, if you have a State job and you refuse to do that job, there's gonna be repercussions (wink wink Kim Davis). Shocking, I know.
In the private sphere, objecting parents will see their children exposed more than ever to this new “morality,” businesses offering wedding services will be forced to provide them for same-sex unions, and rental property owners will have to agree to accept same-sex couples as tenants.
In every situation where marriage affects society, the State will expect Christians and all people of good will to betray their consciences by condoning, through silence or act, an attack on the natural order and Christian morality.
Yes, it's terrible that we're expecting these people to basically just grow the fuck up. Again, if you have a State job, that's how it goes. Private groups however (such as private churches) don't have to abide by any of that though. I and others have said it many times before: if you don't approve of gay marriage, fine. The solution is simple. Don't get gay married. Problem solved. It's when you try and stop others from doing that that it becomes a problem. Oh, but I forgot that it's the Christians who are the ones being oppressed. The Christians who currently make up the vast majority of the country who are being oppressed. My mistake.
9. It Is the Cutting Edge of the Sexual Revolution
In the 1960s, society was pressured to accept all kinds of immoral sexual relationships between men and women. Today we are seeing a new sexual revolution where society is being asked to accept sodomy and same-sex “marriage.”
If homosexual “marriage” is universally accepted as the present step in sexual “freedom,” what logical arguments can be used to stop the next steps of incest, pedophilia, bestiality, and other forms of unnatural behavior? Indeed, radical elements of certain “avant garde” subcultures are already advocating such aberrations.
I have to give them some props here. It took them this long to get to the good 'ol slippery slope fallacy. I expected it to pop up way sooner. It's such a batshit crazy argument that I hardly feel like it needs a thorough rebuttal. Fortunately, John Corvino took the time and published such a rebuttal years ago. Basically, I can sum it up in one sentence: Judge and assess everything based on its own merits. There ya go. If that's too hard of a concept for these people to grasp, then they need to get back in the caves. 
The railroading of same-sex “marriage” on the American people makes increasingly clear what homosexual activist Paul Varnell wrote in the Chicago Free Press:
"The gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at changing people's view of homosexuality."
While I think it is a civil rights movement as well, there's no doubt it's a moral issue too. And it's morally wrong to object to such unions. So get over yourselves.
10. It Offends God
This is the most important reason. Whenever one violates the natural moral order established by God, one sins and offends God. Same-sex “marriage” does just this. Accordingly, anyone who professes to love God must be opposed to it.
Again, I feel like giving them some props is in order. It's refreshing to see that they make no secret that their religious beliefs are what truly drives them. They even go as far to say that it's the most important reason. Which in a way really takes the air out of all the other reasons they've given above. It tells me that, even if the previous nine issues were soundly refuted, they wouldn't care. They would still go on being opposed to same-sex marriage just because their god doesn't like it. It's a delusion on a grand scale.
Marriage is not the creature of any State. Rather, it was established by God in Paradise for our first parents, Adam and Eve. As we read in the Book of Genesis: “God created man in His image; in the Divine image he created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Gen. 1:28-29)
The same was taught by Our Savior Jesus Christ: “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife.” (Mark 10:6-7).
Sigh. I'll just set aside the fact that there's no good evidence for God's existence in the first place (really, anyone who knows me knows that's a given with me), and let's just go over what kind of god you're telling us we should be worshiping. The same god who approves of mass murder, human sacrifice, slavery (including sex slavery), suppressing free speech, and a whole host of other horrendous things, is the god we should be worshiping. And this is what these people think children should be learning about instead of consensual gay relationships. The Bible's moral teachings are anything but what we should base our society's norms on. And for the record, we're told by this same god that gays ought to be killed. But will these folk ever mention that? I think you already know the answer.
Genesis also teaches how God punished Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality: “The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.” (Gen. 19:24-25)
No, this story doesn't say God punished Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality. Rather, the Bible teaches that their sin was that their inhabitants were self-indulgent and callous. It never says it was because they were gay. (See further discussion in John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?, pp. 25-31.)

And that's the end of it. Ten reasons why homosexuality is like, so totally the bane of our existence. Or not. I'm honestly not really mad about this anymore. Just tired. Oh by the great Zarquon so tired. Gay marriage has been legal nationwide for over a year now, and as far as I can tell, society is no worse for it. Yes, we still have problems with LGBTQ rights and equality, and there's still a lot of work to be done. But the consistent trend I've noticed about these problems is that none of them are actually caused by the LGBTQ community. Rather, it is their opponents who are still causing all the problems, whether they know it or not. People like the group who put out this article.

At the end of their ten (non)reasons for rejecting gay marriage, they make sure to add a lengthy disclaimer ensuring everyone that they "have no intention to defame or disparage anyone. We are not moved by personal hatred against any individual." Furthermore, they are "filled with compassion and pray for those who struggle against unrelenting and violent temptation to homosexual sin." Sorry, but if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck, then you're all still a bunch of bigots living in the Bronze Age. The so-called "struggle" these people are going through is not because they are gay. It is because of intolerant buffoons like you who constantly tell them they are sinners, when in fact they're doing nothing wrong. And despite all the efforts put out by bigots such as yourselves, your arguments are as weak as ever. But that's to be expected, since they're the same debunked arguments we've heard for years. But no matter how many times they get refuted, you guys just keep coming back for more. It's Einsteinian insanity.

Just as an aside, the lovely Cristina Rad made a video about a year ago that goes over pretty much everything I went through, and more. If you want a nice and quick rebuttal to standard anti-gay arguments like the ones I've addressed above, I highly recommend you check that out. (Not least of which because she's more articulate, more concise, and way funnier than me.)

[Quick update: Well wouldn't you know it, I tried posting my response to their website, and pretty quickly it got deleted. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. And apparently this is a pretty frequent thing they do (example, example, example). I always do forget that free speech is only allowed when you're a Christian. When will I learn?]


Friday, July 1, 2016

The Benefits of Accepting Reality

For those of you unfamiliar with PragerU (and lucky SOBs you are if that's the case), it's a... ahem... "university," dedicated to "promoting knowledge and clarity on life's biggest and most interesting topics." Well, that'd be all well and good, if it was an actual university and not just some web-series promoting conservative Christian propaganda. The site's YouTube channel has produced a plethora of lol-inducing responses from others, which I highly recommend you spend an afternoon watching. Recently a friend of mine mentioned a new video they've posted, and no surprise at all it's as cringingly-bad as I expected.

This one is presented by a Prager regular; Peter Kreeft, a Catholic apologist who has previously argued that the reason God let's so much evil exist in the world is basically because "God knows better than we do." And in this video, Kreeft wants to argue not so much that God exists (which he's done before, and failed miserably), but that belief in God gives you a much better life. And to back this up he lists off a number of points which contrast a god-reality with a godless one. This of course is a pretty common tactic used by theists, which is to play on the emotions of others and make them want to believe in God because it will make them feel better. They also want to highlight how miserable our lives would be if there was no god in it. I get particularly annoyed at this tactic, since it's just a classic "appeal to emotion" fallacy that really should have no place in discussions like these. Even granting everything Kreeft says about a godless reality is true, that doesn't change whatever the nature of reality actually is. There's no reason for us to expect whatever the ultimate truth about reality turns out to be will make us happy. But that doesn't stop it from being the truth. And I'd rather live my life believing as many true things as possible, and disbelieving as many false things as possible. But what points does Kreeft make? And do they have any merit. Turns out, no. Here's the points he brings about how a god-filled reality is just so dang better than a godless one.

If God exists, the presence of evil makes sense.

Here Kreeft roles out the usual talk about why God allows evil to exist in the world; to allow us to exercise our free will. Setting aside the fact that it isn't even established that free will exists (a point even Christians can't seem to agree on), I've never heard any rational reason why allowing us free will in an evil world would be a better option than not allowing free will in a good world. What does it benefit us to exercise our free will if that means we're going to experience so much pain and suffering in the world? Personally, if having free will 
guarantees that others will suffer so much in this life, then I'd rather not have it. But Kreeft thinks the other benefit to this is that with the existence of God also comes the existence of real justice. As he says, "God will reconcile all injustices in the end." Except that on 
Christian theism, there is no guarantee that those who have committed truly horrible 
atrocities will pay any sort of price. Jesus himself says he'll forgive any sin as long as one repents and believes in him (except apostates; e.g. Mt 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29, Luke 12:9-10). On theism, the atheist who's never harmed anyone in his/her life has a better chance of ending up in hell than the serial murderer who gives their life to Christ before they die. Does that sound like justice? 

Kreeft also says that if there's no God, "life is one big crapshoot." Not at all. If there's no God, life is what we make of it and can be happy in that knowledge. But Kreeft disagrees in his following points.

If God exists, morality is a real, objective fact about the world.

We then get the talk about how God serves as the basis for real objective morality, and that without God "morality is just the rules we make up for this little game of life that we play." As opposed to the rules God himself has made up for us to play in this life. Because by "objec-tive," what Kreeft really means is "the arbitrary whims of a subjective agent who is just making us do whatever he wants us to do." Christians have long had this problem pointed out to them before; that if morality is really grounded in God, then it follows that morality is just arbitrary and entirely non-objective. The standard response has become to simply say that God's actions and commands are good because he himself is good, in accordance 
with his nature. But the problem here is, how have we concluded his nature is good? Because at the end of the day, whatever judgements we make about the actions and nature of God are, by definition, our judgements. Whether God imbues morality through his commands or through us in some telepathic way, we're always the ones reaching the conclusions about what we think about it. As Hector Avalos has put it:
If one says something is moral because God says so, then this still renders us the judge of morality, for we are the ones making the judgement that "whatever God calls good is what shall be called good." Even if one says that God planted our sense of goodness in us, we must still judge that something God planted in us is good. There is no way to escape this circle. [Hector Avalos, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, p. 351]
Of course, it's entirely possible that people like Kreeft are not making a judgment at all about God's actions and commands. He could just be accepting of God's actions no matter what he does. If so, then I think Dr. Kreeft needs to stop saying he's following God's objective morality, and just acknowledge what he's really doing; he's just following God's commands. Not moral commands, just commands. He's just doing whatever God tells him to do. And there's nothing "objective" about that. And contrary to what Kreeft asserts about morality without God just reducing to "rules we make up," the fact of the matter is the absence of God changes nothing about the objective nature of the world we currently live in. There are objective facts about what hurts us, what's good for us, and what ultimately allows us to live better lives. And a morality based on that is entirely demonstrable and objective, as objective as something can get. (See the demonstration of this in Richard Carrier, "Moral Facts Naturally Exist (and Science Could Find Them)," published in The End of Christianity, ed. John Loftus, pp. 333-58, 420-29.)

If God Exists, Love is the Nature of an Eternal Reality.

Kreeft's next point is a weird one; that the existence of God apparently makes the love we feel for others more meaningful, as opposed to a godless reality where "love is just a fleeting feeling," and that it's "no more than a bunch of chemical and neurological interactions." What we see here is another example of Christians committing what is known as the modo hoc fallacy; the idea that the material makeup of something matters more than the arrangement of said material. Even if there's nothing more to love than just neurological and chemical processes in our brains, why is that a bad thing? Kreeft never says, nor have I heard any other Christian explain why either. Whether caused by purely material phenomena, or caused by the existence of some kind supernatural woo inside me, the fact that I can love at all is a wonderful thing, regardless of whatever's the cause of it. 

Furthermore, there's no explanation on Kreeft's part about why God's existence makes love any more valuable. After all, nothing about God's supposed existence seems to keep people loving each other "eternally." People fall in and out of love all the time in this life. It very much can be a "fleeting feeling," even if God does exist. And even if they somehow still end up loving each other in an afterlife, there's nothing to guarantee they will even end up together. One may end up in heaven, and one may end up in hell

If God Exists, You are of Infinite Value.

This one could pretty much sum up Kreeft's entire video; our lives are utterly pointless and insignificant if there's no God. But with God, "he knows you, as a parent knows his child." Again, Kreeft never explains how God's existence gives our lives any meaning whatsoever. How does God existing give my life value? My life's valuable because God says so? So what? How does God saying that make it so? These are questions theists simply have no answers to. What exactly does it say about my value and worth that I apparently need such things ultimately bestowed upon me by someone else? The idea that I've gone out in life and given my life meaning and value matters so much more to me. The sense of accom-plishment I feel in the knowledge that I created my own meaning and purpose, rather than having it handed down to me by someone else, fills me with a real, actual sense of value. What meaning could my life possibly have if I did nothing to make more of it, even if a God said there was meaning to it? None that I can see.

For even Kreeft must accept that meaning and purpose must eventually reduce to whatever one makes of it. After all, Christians don't seem to have a problem with the notion that God himself had no creator, yet his life has value. In other words, there are no other gods around to bestow meaning and value upon God's life, so even his worth must ultimately be self-bestowed. But if God can find meaning and purpose without having it given to him by others, then so to can humans. 

Humans are not "as insignificant as a rock on an unknown planet." We are significant to each other, because we, as social animals, have evolved brains that care about other humans, which in turn is the result of observing that things work out better for us if we do care about the others around us. Even if we ultimately end up creating our meaning and value, nothing about that renders it any less fulfilling or significant. There may not be a meaning of life, but there is meaning in life.

If God Exists, Death is Conquered.

Here we get into the talk about how we will have life even after our bodies die, and that with God "there is a reality outside of space and time." Supposing that's true, there's still the question of exactly what the nature of that reality is. Because according to Christians, one half of that reality may be an eternal bliss, but the other half is perpetual torment and despair. And as we've seen, such torment could be given to those whose greatest crime is that they didn't believe that a dead Jewish man came back to life. It may be the case that "everyone [I] love" will be "consigned to oblivion." But I would much rather my loved ones simply stopped existing and experienced nothing than have them potentially be tortured for all of eternity in a lake of fire.

Still, according to Kreeft we should really like the idea of an afterlife, since if there isn't one then "there is nothing immortal" and therefore "life is pointless." First of all, it isn't even clear to me how important Christians think the duration of our lives is in regards to how much meaning our lives have. For example, even William Lane Craig has argued that even if we could live forever, our lives would still be pointless if God didn't exist (see William Lane Craig, On Guard, pp. 32-33). For him, it seems that any value we might have ultimately rests on God's existence. Of course, like Kreeft, Craig never justifies how God's existence 
gives us any sort of ultimate meaning. 

The error committed by Kreeft is the assumption that life having only finite significance 
equates to life having no significance whatsoever. For him, it's either all or nothing. Either life has eternal significance, or it has none. There's no middle-ground. This is about as black-and-white thinking as one can get. Yes, it may be true that my life will eventually come to a permanent end, and that I will no longer exist in any relevant way. And sure, I'd love for me and my loved ones to live longer (other atheists have said as much; e.g. David 
Silverman, Fighting God, p. 1). It's a bummer that I won't get to live longer. However, nothing about that fact diminishes the value of the life that I have now. If anything, that fact makes my life even more valuable, since I know it's so limited. Ever since I became an atheist, I've valued my life far more than when I believed in God. I'm grateful for every moment I have left on earth. Kreeft and others like him may want their lives to have eternal significance, but in doing so I think they take focus away from the lives they currently have, which is the one that we can be sure actually does exist. 

Why God Doesn't Give us Proof

All of this emotional appeal would ultimately be unnecessary if God made it plainly clear that he exists. But according to Kreeft, the reason God doesn't give us absolute proof of his existence is "so that we're free to choose or not to choose to believe in him." Um, excuse me? How does that make any sense? If the point is about believing that God exists, I don't see how that really comes down to a "choice." In other words, I don't see belief as 
necessarily a matter of choice. I believe what I believe based on whatever information I'm given, not what I want to be the case. If God hasn't provided me with the necessary 
information to allow me to infer his existence, then it's really the case that I can't help but lack a belief in him. My reason for not believing in God is the same reason anyone ever has for when they don't believe something; I don't have sufficient evidence to believe. If the information's not there, there's nothing I can do about it, and that would really be God's fault and no one else's. 

Furthermore, if the point is that God withholds proof of his existence so that we were free to choose whether or not to follow him (rather than just believe in his existence), then this is no better. After all, the only way it seems anyone can ever make a rational, fully-informed decision is to be, well, fully informed. And this would have nothing to do with restricting our choices in the matter. If God made himself and his wishes plainly clear to us, we could still choose not to follow him, but would at least be aware of all the relevant information in making a decision like that. So whichever way you slice it, our being free to choose to believe in God offers no sound reason for God's apparent refusal to give us absolute proof.

Kreeft asks us if we at least "hope there is a good God." And to that, I say sure. And as I've indicated earlier, other atheists would like that too (e.g. Silverman, Fighting God, p. 1; Richard Carrier, Sense and Goodness without God, pp. 253-55). But there is an important
distinction to make, and Kreeft himself may even know what that is. Note that he is careful to add the qualifier that a "good" god is what people hope for. Yes, if there existed a god who was truly good and was the sort of person worth worshiping, you'd get no objections from me. But there's no justification that whatever gods exist are even good in the first place. Certainly even Kreeft would admit that he wouldn't want to worship a god who was actually evil. Yet atheists have been making the case for years that that's exactly the sort of god Christians appear to be worshiping. The Old Testament God certainly appears that way. And even Jesus may not have been the pillar or morality and ethics that he's usually 
championed to be. So I would ask any Christian this: if it could be demonstrated that the god you believe in actually was evil, would you still want to continue following him?

You'll Lose Nothing, and Gain Everything

In what I can only call a last-ditch effort to sway the viewer, Kreeft throws out a Pascal's Wager-style appeal to the notion that there's no downside to acting as though God exists, since "you'll lose nothing, and you gain everything." Except that this isn't even remotely true. Kreeft tries to make the case that believers are "happier, live longer, and are more 
charitable," to which I can only respond: wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no support for the assertion that believers live their lives any better than nonbelievers. Likewise, there is support for the idea that religion, by its very nature, inherently produces violence by means of constantly keeping everyone fighting over whose religion is actually true. In that sense, we very much do have things to potentially lose. 

And to finish up his presentation, Kreeft asks all the unbelievers watching to "say the skeptic's prayer," so that God may enter their lives and make real believers out of them. Setting aside the fact that many atheists and agnostics already tried this when they were believers (and no god came answering; example, example, example, example), I've always found it odd why God would need anyone to ask him to make his presence known. Why should we have to pray to God to get him to come into our lives? Even if Kreeft wants to go the route of many Christians and just assume atheists are "hard-hearted" and aren't trying to reach out to God, why should that matter? Is my will so powerful that I can even block God out of my mind? Or if God just chooses not to make himself known because of us supposedly stubborn atheists, that just makes God so absurdly petty that it really says more about him than it does us. I simply go where the evidence takes me. If it ends up taking me to God, fine. But to date it never has. And if God has the ability to make himself known to me in a direct and obvious way, then that falls on him and no one else. I have no interest in receiving "the gift of faith," as Kreeft says we'll get from God, since I have no interest in basing my worldview on belief without evidence.

In conclusion, Kreeft's presentation amounts to little more than just a marketing ploy, 
advertising how great a life with God would be compared to a life without him. But as we've seen, there's a whole lot of fine-print Kreeft leaves out, showing that even a life with God is no guarantee of a good life. And as I've said already, any supposed benefits from a 
theistic worldview says nothing about the factual accuracy of that worldview. But I say not only is a purely naturalistic worldview more likely to be correct, it is also one that can be purposeful and rewarding, filled with meaning and joy. Once we work out what the nature of reality actually is, we can work to make that reality as joyous and purposeful as we want. No god needed. 

"Without God, are we nothing? Tell that to those millions of good people... It is true there is no purpose of life. Nor should we want there to be a purpose of life. If there is a purpose of life, that cheapens life. That makes us less.... If there is a god we are subservient in the universe. We are secondary. We are children. We are slaves. If there is a god, we are truly nothing." -Dan Barker