Knights Of The Apocalypse No. 1

A Devil's Chaplain
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“My approach to attacking creationism is to attack religion as a whole (…)  religion is corrosive to science. It teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural non-explanations and blinds them to the wonderful real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence.” Richard Dawkins in his lecture at TED.com

Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens have been referred to as The Four Knights Of The  Apocalypse by mystics who believe in the coming of the last revelation given by the Christian god in the last book of the New Testament written by the prophet John.  In the book, these Four Knights were sent by god to bring plagues upon the world.  The previous authors, all active atheists opposing mysticism have written dozens of books that have enlightened and educated millions of men who previously believed in these and more irrational and mystic stories.

  • The Red Horse, represented the plague of war.
  • The Black Horse, representing famine and poverty.
  • The Green or Yellow Horse, representing death and illness.
  • The White Horse, representing the final moment of life in which the Death reappears once again to redeem humanity.

To parody this Apocalyptic stories and to celebrate the Week of Atheism, I choose to remember Richard Dawkins as Knight No. 1.

Mr. Dawkins is the author of the famous book “The Selfish Gene” (1976), The Extended Phenotype (1982), A Devil’s Chaplain (2003), The God Delusion (2008) Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), among many other works. His topics of interest have commonly been related to his advocacy on evolutionary biology, memethics, and a rejection of mysticism, irrationality and relativism.  He’s maybe the most known atheist in today’s mass media and his ideas have fought a strong war against hundreds of theists and deists for half a century.  His book The Selfish Gene was also the first book I read in a topic that continued to interest me until now.

Now, I leave you with one of the lectures by him that I have enjoyed the most.  It was titled “An atheist’s call to arms” and presented at a TED talk in 2002.  The topic of this discussion is a “full-on appeal for atheists to make public their beliefs and to aggressively fight the incursion of religion into politics and education” by a lobby group supported by Creationists.

On Atheism

What is Atheism?

Over the centuries hundreds of millions of people have worshipped a god or many gods as their creators.  These gods were usually represented in a series of objects in nature and today, only Hinduism remains as a truly polytheistic religion.  Other religions have a monotheistic god that created everything and still has influence on human’s life and Earth’s life cycle.  This monotheistic God is commonly known by Christians as Yahvé or as Allah by Muslims.  Christians and Muslims are the two largest religions on Earth (3.6 billion people) and most of them refuse to acknowledge what science has to say regarding the dogma in which they faithfully (irrationally) believe in.  However, a large amount of the population of the world is not a believer, is secular or calls themselves atheists.  They amount to more than 1.1 billion people and in the last century, for the first time on history, they started to explain with scientific evidence the reasons why it was illogical to believe in any type of god or gods.

Atheism is the non belief in a personal god or gods such as those of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and HinduismAtheists are those who do not believe in the gods of these religions.  But also, atheists are also those who do not believe in a deist god who created the universe and afterwards left the world alone.  As such, Atheists are not theists, deists or spiritualists.

An atheist views science as the best mean for humans to understand reality.  Therefore, it should be noted that it is not Atheist who have to apply the burden of proof principle but those who advocate for the belief in a god or gods.  Atheists establish their position as truth because science demonstrates it to be so and because theist’s burden of proof fails to be proven.

Recently, many things have been written about Atheism and some controversies have been raised on the term.  As such, some philosophers have proposed a division of the term Atheism in two branches: negative atheism and positive atheism.  Michael Martin[1] writes that there’s a division between atheists.  There are those negative atheists who are non believers –including agnostics- and there are positive atheists that are those who deny the existence of a theistic God and the belief in an afterlife, in a cosmic destiny, in an immortal soul, in the Bible or Qur’an and in any religious foundation of morality.

Now, let us explore why it is on theists and deists failure at asserting the burden of proof principle that atheists are successful at supporting their claims regarding the non existence of any type of god or gods.

Why the burden of proof principle aids Atheists to establish their position regarding the existence of a god or gods?

The burden of proof principle asserts that whoever has a burden of proof is obligated to provide evidence for their claim.  Atheists claim that for God to exist it should be proved or at least, it should be supported by enough evidence to accept the possibility for anything (in this case a god or gods) to exist.  Atheists claim that the burden of proof principle applies to those who support the claim of the non existence of god or gods.  Again, it is not for atheists to offer any evidence for their statements regarding the existence of god or gods.  Therefore, atheists ask for believers in a god or gods to at least give good grounds of belief in their claims.  Their claims should be logical and rational and atheists are not obligated to prove them wrong.

What is the strongest objection regarding the existence of a god or gods given by Atheists?

The strongest objection for the existence of a god or gods comes from science.  As Victor J. Stenger has written “science is fully capable of detecting the existence of a God who acts in the lives of humans in an important way such as listening to and answering prayers”.  As such, science not only makes the assumption about reality being rational, but it applies rational methods in taking and analyzing data.  These methods and analysis have all failed to demonstrate any type of supernatural power or gods that could allow some rational explanation that supports their existence.[2]Furthermore, Victor J. Stenger explains in the book God: The Failed Hypothesis – How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist that if there is a God that plays a role in the universe there should also be objective evidence of his existence.  As such, that evidence should be sought and if such evidence is found it would demonstrate its existence.  However, no such evidence has been found and that we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with the properties and abilities acknowledged by theists and deists cannot be demonstrated.

First, if everything is supposed to have a cause, then a god or gods do too.  Therefore, there is no first cause.  If someone asserts that God is the uncaused first cause we are to question why should not we also ask why cannot the physical world itself be taken to be the uncaused first cause?  On this subject has written a lot the mathematician John Allen Paulos in the book Irreligion:  A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up.

What is the solution offered by believers in a god or gods against the previous argument?

Believers in a god or gods have objected to the previous claim by offering a scientific, rather than philosophical, explanation.  This explanation is called The Argument from Design and their claims are that A) It is by design that the universe is fine-tunned and as such a designer had to create it.  B) That living organisms are too complex and perfect, and as such, are the evidence of an intelligent designer.

The previous argument from design has been demonstrated to be illogical and too weak to be scientifically truth.  As such, only those who advocate for an irrational belief on their imaginary gods still try to defend this argument with illiterate masses and non science-savvy minds.

Those who defend the Argument from Design believe and support that there exists only one universe and that the universe was specially created for humans and living species on planet Earth.  However, there is not still enough scientific evidence that demonstrates that there has only existed one universe and the studies of String Theory have already suggested that there is a chance of 10500 different set of possible parameters to exist[3]

Therefore, there is no evidence or reasons to assume that there aren’t many universes; and there is a huge chance for a different universe and a huge range of parameters is possible.  As such, there could be some other forms of life different from ours and those could be even more complex than us.  This position advocated regarding a multiverse is still criticized as unobservable and there is still research undergoing regarding how to detect the presence of other universes.  The previous is the job of scientists; and scientists speculate and theorize regarding the unobservable all the time (that is how quarks and dark matter came to be scientifically proved).

Further, the notion that the universe was fine-tunned for life –human life and life on planet Earth- to exist is also nonsense and irrational.  First, it would have been illogical for an omnipotent god to design the universe and to make it including an immense list of physiological flaws and weaknesses.  If there were actually an omnipotent god he could have made it possible for humans, his most precious creation, to be living in a universe in which the constants of physics kept humans safe and not to be living on the knife-edge of extinction.

As professor Ghate explained; Agnosticism claims that atheists fail to demonstrate by the burden of proof principle that Rational Theology is mistaken.  The argument of Agnosticism elaborates that it is not because of the flaws of Rational Theology capabilities to comply with the burden of proof principle that the statements of Atheism should be known as truth or as right.    They consider that even though rational theology failed to prove their case there is still a chance for a god or gods to exist.  As such, this discourse of uncertainty and skepticism could be used to also believe in themultiverse I mentioned before.

However, it is because of scientific evidence and observations of reality that we understand what exists and what doesn’t exist.  As such, the non existence of evidence or enough proof does not allows us to not question or doubt the chance of X or Y to exist.  The lack of information just allows us, as it does with scientists and their studies, to seek for more conclusive evidence and valid proofs that will someday demonstrate their and our hypothesis.  Until there is enough evidence and valid proof there is no need for humans to believe in a god, in several gods, in fairies or in unicorns.

The best conclusion one can give comes from Dan Barker, a former believer in the Christian Abrahamic God, who said

“I did not lose my faith –I gave it up purposely.  The motivation that drove me into the ministry- to know and speak the truth- is the same that drove me out… Opening my eyes to the real world, stripped of dogma, faith and loyalty to tradition, I could finally see clearly that there was no evidence for a god, no coherent definition of a god, no agreement among believers as to the nature or moral principles of “God,” and no good answers to the positive arguments against the existence of a god, such as the problem of evil.  And beyond all that, there is no need for a god.  Millions of good people live happy, productive, moral lives without believing in a god.”[4]


[1] Martin, Michael (2007).  The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY.  Prometheus Books).  Atheism (p. 88).

[2] Victor Stenger2009).  The New Atheism (Prometheus Books). P.71.  Also, see on this subject an anthology edited by Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier titled The Impossibility of God.

[3] Susskind, Leonard (2005).  Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design (New York). P. 186

[4] Barker, Dan (2008).  Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press) p.40

Summer Seminar 2012. Either-Or: Atlas Shrugged and the Future of Individualism

WHEN: June 29-July 1, 2012

WHERERenaissance HotelWashington, D.C.

WHO: individuals from all around the world interested in learning Objectivist values and ideas.

FROMThe Atlas Society 

OFFICIAL WEBSITEAtlas Society Summer Seminar 2012

THEME:  “Either-Or“. “Either-Or” is an affirmation of Aristotelian logic, particularly the tenets of the Law of identity (A = A; a thing is identical to itself), the Law of excluded middle (either A or not-A; a thing is either something or not that thing, no third option), and the Law of noncontradiction (not both A and not-A; a thing cannot be both true and not true in the same instant).

For this Seminar The Atlas Society will provide seminar scholarshipto worthy students.

I am also very pleased to announce that I will have the honor of being part of this excellent group of lecturers (Click here to view entire program).  In the two lectures I will discuss what is the real history of Capitalism. Te goal of my talk is that all attendees will be able of explaining accurately why and how Capitalism is a social system that has never existed in its full, perfect, and unregulated form. In Part 1, we will explore the growth and flourishing of the ideas of free-market capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries.  In Part 2, we will ook at the assault against capitalism in the 20th century and consider where we find ourselves today.

SEMINAR LECTURERS:

 VIEW  PROGRAM
To access on your mobile phone, enter 
www.either-or.sched.org

REGISTER NOW FOR SUMMER SEMINAR 2012

New Blog: Laissez Faire by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook

A new blog has been born for those of you interested in learning and discussing the principles of Capitalism.  The title of the blog is “Laissez Faire: The Uncompromised Case for Capitalism” and is going to be written by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute.  The blog aims to discuss the philosophic ideas that shape economic policy.

I invite you start following it and to start commenting their articles.  Indeed, this is great news for the spread of Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand!

Social Media of Laissez Faire

Drugs: A Legal Market is not a Free Market

English: Flower of a Opium Poppy
Image via Wikipedia

A couple days ago, Otto Perez Molina, recently elected as President of Guatemala; announced that he was willing to decriminalize the commercialization of drugs. According to U.S. authorities, Guatemala has became the transshipment point for more than 75 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States since 2005.  Along with this, the Opium poppy cultivation is already done in large parts of the countryside making the production of Guatemalan heroin a greater and the newest worry for the United States. The country’s elites are already part of this business and the paranoia of crimes that used be a remembrance from Colombia‘s 1990s history seems to be repeating in these Central American countries.

What impresses me the most now is how this news has started spreading around my Facebook contacts (mostly libertarians and liberals). Both groups seem to be happy to hear this announcement by Guatemala’s President.  However, both groups applaud the news for different reasons.  The legalization/decriminalization of drugs will not be the panacea we all are hoping for.  Specially not if started by any of the Central American governments.  The reasons are many and I will begin by listing some of them to open the discussion,

  • Corruption, lax enforcement, and judicial impunity levels in Central America are among the highest of the world.
  • Drug lords and their new and powerful money have been mentioned by many analysts to be already part of the politic and economic elites of these countries.
  • The Central American countries in which this drugs are produced and transported are inhabited by a large majority of people living in the lowest leves of Human Development.
  • If legalized, the trade, production and commercialization of drugs (cocaine and heroine mainly) will be regulated by these governments.
  • Without any doubt, this regulations will enable and create legalized monopolies ruled with the partnership of previous drug lords and government officials.
  • It has not been advocated by any of the political leaders which road would take the legalization of drugs. This is important, because under current legalization procedures it is not the same to get the approval for a new medicine in the market as to get the approval for a new liquor, a new energizing drink or of a new edible product.

The history of the legalization (production, trade and commercialization) of items considered by many as drugs and for others as commodities has shown that for as long as a government elite hold the power to legalize it; it was in their power to take the first steps into the acquisition of a monopoly of its trade and production.

If legalized, the emergence of a coercive monopoly would be inevitable. As noted by Ayn Rand, the governments and their partners in these coercive monopolies “will be able of setting the initial prices and production policies independently of the market, with immunity from competition, from the law of supply and demand. An economy dominated by such monopolies would be rigid and stagnant.”

If we support the complete and absolute free trade of all commodities it is necessary that we do not grant to government an intrinsic right to regulate it.  No compromise should ever be done with a government that requires regulation in order to give us legalization.  Legalization should result in freedom and not in regulation.  The drug trade should be opened to businessmen and entrepreneurs in the freest way possible. The freest way is that of requiring the traders to inform their buyers about all the necessary information about the products they are offering.

We may be taking part in a historical moment in which the most important thing are principles.  Let us remember that one of the most valuable principles of trade is Freedom; and that one of the most valuable principles of government is to seek that i will Protect Individual Rights and not to regulate their lives.

Note: To understand more which are the principles that really matter in this discussion, I invite you to take a look to the video titled: The Drug War in Guatemala: A Conversation with Giancarlo Ibarguen.