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

TED lecture. Sheikha Al Mayassa: Globalizing the local, localizing the global

After watching a TED lecture by Sheikha Al Mayassa, a patron of artists, storytellers and filmmakers in Qatar, I had some questions.  First, she emphasizes how art and culture create a country’s identity — and how they allow every country to share its unique identity with the wider world.  While an interesting video, as usually happens in Islamic countries she refuses to acknowledge the fact that culture and art do not have to depend from the metaphysical foundations of any religious tradition.

Islam to her is Philosophy and Culture at the same time; and unfortunately she refuses to acknowledge the contradictions created by her religion by just ignoring them.  This is an interesting video that could help you identify how is it that philosophical contradictions are the root of our diferences with people that lives in areas of the world in which Islam rules.

As such, unless we want chaos it is necesarry that before “globalizing the local, localizing the global” we understand which are the philosophical contradictions that do not enable us (and them) to coexist in peace.

Here’s the video,

On how Islam violates individual rights

Wealth is produced for the purpose of creating a monetary profit (a moral value) that will enable a man to pursue other values.  The process of creating wealth is the result of a man’s reason put in practice.  This process of acting requires that man be free in order to pursue his rational and objective values and to make use of them as he pleases.  The previous process I have mentioned is much more complex to understand and requires pages of explanation. For anyone interested in learning how man’s mind works I recommend you to check the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand as a starting point.

There are many philosophies of life and religions that are in opposition to individual freedom because of the religious dogma from which they are rooted.  These people’s philosophies and religions have codes of values that deny an individual’s right to their life and the pursue of their happiness.  Religions are anti-life since they proclaim rules believed by faith that require man to suffer, sacrifice and do irrational actions in the aim of fulfilling their dogma. The religion that strikes me the most is Islam because it is not only a religious creed but also a political mean of organizing human life through the Sharia and Fiqh.

Ellaborating on how Islam is anti-life would take also dozens of pages with explanations and examples of how it does so.  A great reference to start learning is the book “Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism” which clear examples on how Islam and the practice of Sharia and the Fiqh violate individual rights, disincentive man’s creativity to pursue happiness and create wealth. Also, I recommend you to check the following blog post “Islam Violates our human rights” which enumerates very shortly and clearly good examples of violations done by Islamics,

  • Violation of Article 23 (1) and 26 (1) of the UDHR Article 23 (1) of theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Article 26 (1) states: Everyone has the right to education.

But in Afghanistan, a muslim country, girls are not allowed education. Girls schools are banned and those caught running these schools, can be punished by law.

This continued for about 5 years, during the reign of the Taliban, the oppressive Islamic extremists, who were finally eliminated by theAmericans. (Thank you, America)

  • Violation of Article 19 of the UDHR Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other muslim countries do not allow freedom of speech, regarding criticism on Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. This has taken the shape of a Blasphemy Law, where any person who speaks negatively about Mohammed, can be given death sentence or life imprisonment and/or fine.

An example of this is the recent death sentence given to Dr. Younus Shiekh for correctly pointing out that the Prophet Mohammed did not become Muslim until the age of 40 (which was when he received his first revelation) and that his parents were non-Muslims (as they died before Islam was proposed by the Prophet).

  • Violation of Article 18 of the UDHR Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

But the Quran says that:

Any religion except Islam will not be accepted

Quran 3.85 : If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost.

This is also mentioned in Violation 5, where those who dont believe in Allah, will be tortured severely.

  • In Iran, and Afghanistan, brutal punishments are give for extra-marital sex. Stoning to death was ordered by Mohammed, and is still used in Iran. This is a very cruel brutal punishment and its only aim is to inflict maximum pain on the individual. Muslims in Afghanistan and Iran can be flogged for consuming alcohol, slandering or for adultery while they are not married.

Flogging is ordered by the Quran:

And those who accuse free women and bring not for witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes.”59 For the adulterer, God says :”The adulteress and the adulterer, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.” 60 s

These punishments are condemned by the International Community

Islam also orders cutting of hands and feet :

Quran 5.38 As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.

Read here the complete post on how Islam violates rights…

The burning of a Library in Egypt and the Philosophy behind it

The damnation of this earth as a realm where nothing is possible to man but pain, disaster and defeat, a realm inferior to another, “higher,” reality; the damnation of all values, enjoyment, achievement and success on earth as a proof of depravity; the damnation of man’s mind as a source of pride, and the damnation of reason as a “limited,” deceptive, unreliable, impotent faculty, incapable of perceiving the “real” reality and the “true” truth; the split of man in two, setting his consciousness (his soul) against his body, and his moral values against his own interest; the damnation of man’s nature, body and self as evil; the commandment of self-sacrifice, renunciation, suffering, obedience, humility and faith, as the good; the damnation of life and the worship of death, with the promise of rewards beyond the grave—these are the necessary tenets of the [mystic’s] view of existence, as they have been in every variant of [mystical] philosophy throughout the course of mankind’s history. Ayn Rand

Yesterday December 17, 2011 during conflicts between some Egyptian protests, the Egyptian Scientific Institute which established in 1798 by Napolean Bonaparte was burned. The Egyptian Scientific Institute was the oldest scientific institute in Egypt and Middle East at all. It has the most rich and rare library in Egypt.

Eyewitnesses were reported to have seen protestors throwing a Molotov cocktail at stone-throwing soldiers at the Shura Council building, but the projectile missed the intended target and instead landed in the Egyptian Scientific Institute.

The library contains about 40.000 items of rare books and manuscripts, however it has unvaluable items, like:

  •  The original copy of the french book “Description de l’Egypte”
  • Atlas of Old Indian arts.
  • German atlas about Egypt and Ethiopia, 1842.
  • “Egypt: the mother of the world”, 1753.

Professor Mahmoud al-Shernoby, the general secretary of the institute, told state TV in a phone interview that the damage is a “great loss” to Egypt and that those “who caused this disaster showed be punished.”

Photos about burning the Egyptian Scientific Institute:

Stephen Colbert Takes on Occupy Wall Street

I just returned after spending a wonderful evening with a German Socialist Activist. It was a wonderful evening because I got to understand many of his arguments and we started discussing them openly; without never aiming at a consensus.  I just got back home and saw the following video: Stephen Colbert Takes on Occupy Wall Street

Now, I just can’t stop laughing! “Ethically” Colbert is just Great!

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert takes on Occupy Wall Street in a hilarious yet actual segment with protest representatives of “the consensus within the press group” Justin (“a male-bodied person”) and “Ketchup” (“a female-bodied person”) in a “Co-Optportunity” with what Colbert calls a cult, oh sorry, I mean “movement”. via | Tuesday November 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM PDT