Conversations: Orlando

There is every reason to assume that, in a period of time leading up to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, the perpetrator was dealing with severe feelings of repression and rejection from both men and women. In time, these feelings were converted into anger, which he then directed specifically at homosexual men, culminating in the shooting of 102 people, of which 49 were killed. Although we know the he was not aided by a terrorist organisation, it is obvious that, in the weeks leading up to the shooting, the perpetrator found comfort in hate-driven dogma which not only intensified his anger, but also justified violence. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the perpetrator must have been filled with confused anger and pious indignation when he legally purchased a semi-automatic assault rifle two weeks before the shooting. Can the reasonable worries expressed by reasonable people be any more graphically illustrated by the events that followed? Continue reading

Conversations: Doing Good for God

What about all of the good things people have done in the name of God? It is undeniable that many people of faith make heroic sacrifices to relieve the suffering of other human beings.

You’re right. But is it necessary to believe anything on insufficient evidence in order to behave this way? If compassion were really dependent upon religious dogmatism, how could we explain the work of secular doctors in the most war-ravaged regions of the developing world? Many doctors are moved simply to alleviate human suffering, without any thought of God. Continue reading

Conversations: Sex and Misery

Consider, for instance, the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is now the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The virus infects over half the American population and causes nearly five thousand women to die each year from cervical cancer; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than two hundred thousand die worldwide. This is calamitous.

Fortunately, we now have a vaccine for HPV that appears to be both safe and effective. The vaccine produced 100 percent immunity in the six thousand women who received it as part of a clinical trial.

And yet, Christian conservatives in the United States government have resisted a vaccination program on the grounds that HPV is a valuable impediment to premarital sex. Continue reading

World History with the Pope

Scene 1. “Atheism has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice.” says the pope, quite emphatically.

Scene 2. “We will spread rational inquiry by the sword!” thus shouts an angry broadsword-wielding crusader on the burning field of battle, his devout chest adorned by the Darwin adaptation of the Ichtus fish.

Scene 3. “Denounce Creation Theory and you will die quickly.” grins a pointy-hooded sinister figure in the shadows, wielding the controls to a breaking wheel on which a spreadeagled naked man is barely coping with the blinding pain of his torture.

Scene 4. “Of course slavery is justified: we live in an amoral, godless universe!” thus yells a proud Confederate soldier, his eyes bulging with anger and indignation at the impertinent question that was directed at him.

Scene 5. “Praise Richard Dawkins!” hail the atheists who are about to crash a hijacked commercial jet into a tall New York skyscraper.

Scene 6. “Let’s read Nietzsche and cuddle.” says a sweaty elderly priest, trying to comfort an underaged boy with an embrace.

Adapted from a comic by Matt Bors (2007, December 12) “World History with the Pope” distributed by UFS. Inc.

Benevolence, God and a Little Girl

‘Somewhere in the world a man has abducted a little girl. Soon he will rape, torture, and kill her. If an atrocity of this kind is not occurring at precisely this moment, it will happen in a few hours, or days at most. Such is the confidence we can draw from the statistical laws that govern the lives of six billion human beings. The same statistics also suggest that this girl’s parents believe—as you believe—that an all-powerful and all-loving God is watching over them and their family. Are they right to believe this? Is it good that they believe this?


The entirety of atheism is contained in this response. Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle.

Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. An atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87 percent of the population) claiming to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence—and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl— even once in a million years—casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 17-18