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Countering Fundies Through Amazon


Written by Comfort, published by right-wing reactionaries at World Net Daily. Need I say more?


"Creation Isn't Evident

......despite what Comfort, Cameron, Eric Hovind and their ilk will try to tell you. Modern life is indeed complex, but it need not always be that way. Recent experiments have shown that abiogenesis (life from non-living materials) is possible. And despite what you may believe or have been innocently indoctrinated to believe in Sunday school and/or what passes as biology "teachers" in recent years, given the Bush administration's tax cuts (we have rational, science-minded people to thank for keeping biased, right-wing, totalitarian creationist literature out of states outside Texas).

Now on to Ray's "explanations" as to why an all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god would allow any suffering (let alone the surfeit of misery experienced every day by sentient beings).

The Problem of Evil is an insurmountable one for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been intense and motivated efforts over the past two millennia to defend such a position rationally, and they have all failed. Miserably. Utterly. And in many cases, dishonestly.

Some approached involve invoking an unknown "greater good" defense (which throws god's omnipotence under the bus. An omnipotent deity could simply actualise a desired goal without needing to use suffering as a "middle man"). Attempts to shift the problem by asserting that human happiness is not the goal of life (but knowing god is) removes the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of god (if you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. It really is that simple).

Here, Comfort takes the old canard of free will. Unfortunately, free will is meaningless unless everyone has an equal amount of it. This is undeniably NOT the case. Not everyone is given the same lifespan, physical strength, mental acuity, political clout, financial resources, and so on. Comfort is pontificating from the luxurious confines of his residence, funded by conveniently gullible sheep. This has certainly damaged his ability to empathise with the billions who live on less than a dollar each day. And the thousands who starve to death every time the Earth completes a full rotation.

Comfort also, perhaps unwittingly, advocates a social Darwinism in which the rich and physically powerful are able to murder, rape and steal from weaker individuals (and are therefore less able to exercise their own free will to prevent their own suffering). Comfort, by his own admission, worships a cosmic pedophile who revels in granting freedom to abhorrent individuals while getting his jollies from seeing the most vulnerable suffer and die in agony (only to get thrown into even more torture in the Christian vision of hell).

Lastly, a loving god would take away free will from those who would willingly surrender it in return for a life without suffering. Funnily enough, Comfort seems to believe in a heaven without suffering but with all the bells and whistles of freedom. So why not create that universe from the get-go and stick with it? Why create a universe with even the possibility of corruption? It certainly is not something a perfect god would do. Then again, a perfect god would not blackmail beings he supposedly loves for eternal worship.

Eternalism doesn't work as a dodge. If a god has perfect foreknowledge, then he's still responsible. And as we experience a coherent, cohesive set of events, I don't see how eternalism could be true.

NONE of the theodicies thus far created hold any water. Why? Because an omnipotent deity does not need to use evil to achieve greater goods.

Any such being could achieve the desired outcome from the get-go, no suffering required.

Comfort engages in numerous logical fallacies. He commits special pleading to let his god off the hook. He clearly does not hold his god to the same moral standard as his god supposedly holds humans to. An all-powerful, all-knowing being who did nothing while billions starved to death is just as guilty as someone who caused such deeds personally. Might does not make right.

Painting god as a loving father who "suffers with" us is almost as bad. Such a god doesn't do a thing to alleviate suffering.

As for miracles, well, all miraculous claims have already failed the test of empirical studies and analysis. Take the famous Templeton Prayer Study (2006), which empirically tested 1800 heart patients split into three groups.

(1. Patients who were told people would pray for them)

(2. Patients who were not told people would pray for them, but people did pray for them)

(3. Patients who were not told anything, and nobody prayed for them)

The patients who knew they were being prayed for ended up with the most post-surgery complications (likely due to expectation bias)."
You are very repetitive in your reviews. I do understand that there are no new arguments put forward by apologetics, but copying and pasting (just about) the same responds to every book might backfire on you. Again, I do not disagree with your arguments, I believe they are sound and I believe they address exactly what is found in those books (again nothing has changed in apologetics for years), but I feel you should at least change up your words. Do not just copy and paste the same review, rewrite it. I feel this might do far more because any theist that reads your reviews for those books might conclude that you did not read the book sand are only copying and pasting a standard response. Thus, your review will be dismissed outright.
Thanks for the advice. :) I have taken a more comprehensive approach in tackling one of Paul Copan's more recent books (Is God a Moral Monster):

Or as I call it, The Worst Fruits of Spin-Doctoring Made Manifest.


In a book that purports to discuss morality, one must wonder why Copan wasted two entire chapters (7 and 8) on the ancient dietary laws of the Israelites. Wouldn't it be more practical and helpful to instruct the Hebrews about microbes, disease and proper sanitation? And let's not forget that any dietary prohibition contradicts Genesis 1:29 (And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat).

The first few chapters have Copan attempting (and failing miserably, mind you. Try applying his arguments to any human leader and you'll see just how far he gets before tripping over his own shoelaces) to paint his god as a gracious master. Nonsense. There is no justice or mercy in demanding that the Israelites obey him "lest they be utterly destroyed." It's blackmail. A wife-beater would find myriad "reasons" to continue to abuse his wife from reading Copan's book.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (the verses instructing the Israelites to murder disobedient children) is likewise given the revisionist mumbo-jumbo treatment. The parents are expected to "confer" with the elders before the execution. But such a meeting would be purely for show. The outcome is already a given (and parents are permitted to lie about their children, slandering them as drunkards and gluttons).

Moreover, it is utterly unjust to punish children for what their parents did (this is even picked up by authors of the Old Testament in the tomes of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Why would a perfect judge impose such patently absurd and unfair rules? Well, according to Copan, these verses (Exodus 20:5 and Exodus 34:6-7) don't even exist. On page 94 he references Deuteronomy 24:16, which does state that children are not to be punished for the moral failings of their parents. But this was written in the 7th century BC, well AFTER the majority of the OT.

(Jeremiah 31:29-30

In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity.

Ezekiel 18:20

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.)

In Chapter 6, Copan attempts to soften the blows that slavery, harsh corporal and capital punishments, and orders to slaughter neighbouring tribes by stating "Well, they were stubborn, and god did the best he could do with the Jews at the time." Come again? Is this really the best an allegedly omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being can do? Let's ignore the mass infanticide and genocide that supposedly occurred during the Noahic flood (which never happened). Copan no doubt believes that god created humanity, and could have done so in any way he so chose. Therefore, he could have made the entire human race loving and compassionate. Instead, he fashions barbarians that would cause Ghengis Khan to turn bright crimson with embarrassment. I don't recall too many dictators (save the fictional YHWH) who slaughtered so freely without invoking god or placing themselves upon a "divine" throne with an infinite and unaccountable mandate.

In summary, instead of taking the moral issues in the Old Testament seriously, Copan attempts to trivialise the accounts provided in his own holy book (which goes against Revelation 22:18-19

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book)

and even attempts to redefine genocide (while simultaneously inserting his own interpolations into the text) by stating that "it's not genocide because a few women and children escaped the Israelites' wrath." This is abhorrently unctuous and deplorable. By that definition, the Holocaust wasn't genocide because Hitler did not succeed in slaughtering all of the Jews. Simply claiming that the Israelites were "better than the surrounding tribes at the time) doesn't come close to cutting it. If the edicts of the OT god are not the edicts of a moral monster, then morality has lost all its meaning. Simple semantic sophistry won't even make it past a rudimentary logic or debating course. Copan is clearly preaching to the sorely convinced (despite his desire for this book to be a response to the new atheists).


Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan
Is God a Moral Compromiser by Thom Stark (available for free online)
Just reviewed God is not Great by the late, great Hitchens.


Fluent and Thorough

Christopher Hitchens is never dull, repetitive or vapid. His analogies are always to-the-point, trenchant and enrich, rather than detract from the message he aims to deliver. In one of his final books before his death from cancer in 2011, he tackles the often-touted and never proved "benefits" of religion, religious paradigms and tackles a common "objection" (which is nothing more than an argument from consequence).

Chapter 1 details his experience with a kindly teacher (Mrs. Gene Watts) who ended up guiding the young Hitchens away from religion. Teaching the young boy in nature and religion, she told her class that god is most magnanimous. Green was pleasing and restful to the eyes, and it would not have this effect if the leaves were purple. Hitchens immediately picked up on this broken chain of logic, and further education in evolution would reveal that the reverse was the case - our eyes adapted and evolved to relax upon the color green registering in our brains. Having read entire Biblical books upon which to base his summary and gleanings of a single verse (a dedication that would later serve him admirably as a first-rate journalist), Hitchens knew the bible inside and out. As he matured, he began to see it for what it was - not a divinely inspired document rich in epiphanies and insights, but a bunch of myths that were concocted by bronze-age, anachronistic goat-herders who ended up stultifying the scientific method and castrating any attempts they could have made towards finding the true cause (and later the cures) for leprosy, warts and snakebites. Moreover, the servile attitude demanded by Christianity could not have been ignored by Hitchens (especially since it was, ostensibly, god's inclination to create such wonders).

Chapter 2 outlines the murders, oppression and horrors caused by religion in the modern world. Aside from the millions dead and tortured by AIDS in Africa (due in large part to the Catholic church's staunch and uncompromising refusal to endorse condoms under the grounds that contraception perverts the intended reason for which sexual intercourse was created), religion is more than willing to join hands with other sects to bully and strong-arm weaker, defenseless or simply opposing sects to further consolidate their power. Bearing the name and motive of compassion and salvation, they can easily win converts to their cause (at least those who do not see through the skin-deep motives of those who would sit on thrones made on the bodies of unarmed civilians.

Chapter 3 is a brief tangent on pork. What should be immediately obvious to anyone living in the modern world is the ease with which pork can be cleansed and made safely edible. No divinity or porcine genocide is required to tidy up the menu.

Chapter 4 concerns religion's toxic approach to health in the modern world. Even war-torn countries were kind enough to seek ceasefires to vaccinate their children from polio for the cost of pennies. Tragically, the polio vaccine was steadfastly opposed by Muslims in Bengal, who claimed impotence and diarrhea would beset any who took the vaccine. The lack of herd immunity endangered entire countries. This has chilling parallels with the recent movement against the HPV (cervical cancer) vaccine in women, with the fear that it would lead women to be more promiscuous. So much for being fruitful and multiplying, I suppose. The aforementioned condom condemnation appears, reinforcing the murders that can be directly linked to religion.

Chapter 6 is a rejoinder to common (and speciously appealing) arguments from design. Almost needless to say, a little peek behind the curtain (or into the DNA) of animals today shows that changes were gradual, and organisms were not created ex nihilo, perfectly adapted to their environments.

Chapter 13 concerns religion's relationship with morality. Hitchens' conclusion is the most poignant - while secularists and humanists are almost always on the right side of history, the probability of a religious follower doing so is essentially equivalent to a coin toss. A brief gander at the abolitionist and suffrage movements will reveal this. Even the bible advocates the brutal treatment of slaves. If that book was never compiled, the world would have been far more compassionate during the Dark and Middle Ages.

Chapter 17 tackles the alleged "link" between atheism and the genocides which polemicists of the ilk of Ravi Zacharias and Dinesh D'Souza are so apt to espouse in wanton iconoclasm. Sadly, this isn't beyond the pale. It's also an unadulterated red herring. Even if not believing in a god led to atrocities (which the nations of Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and Japan disprove on a daily basis), the claim does nothing to prove a deity or disprove atheism. Claims about reality or existence stand or fall on their own merits. Believing something because it "makes you feel better" is not a reason, it's an excuse.

Hitchens finishes his gargantuan, ironclad document against blind faith by calling for a new revolution of reason. Bill Maher put it another way in Religulous - "Grow up or die." And so we must, lest the theocratic nations in the Middle East acquire and exploit nuclear weapons against those who refuse to kowtow to totalitarian edicts.
These are just the type of reviews I like to read on amazon. Thorough chapter by chapter analysis, really helps me to work out whether I want to buy the book or not. I'm tempted to think some of these reviews might belong on the LoR blog, if you are interested. I'd be keen to know whether others agree.
Aught3 said:
These are just the type of reviews I like to read on amazon. Thorough chapter by chapter analysis, really helps me to work out whether I want to buy the book or not. I'm tempted to think some of these reviews might belong on the LoR blog, if you are interested. I'd be keen to know whether others agree.

By all means! :)
A few of my recent adventures in non-fiction literature.


An Excellent, Intricate Analogy with Tangible Hope and Sound Advice

Renowned psychologist Darrel Ray likens religion to a virus in this complex yet accessible tome. One of his first examples is the Toxoplasma Gandii parasite, which will override a mouse's instinctive fear of all things feline and seek out their natural enemy (the parasite can only reproduce inside cats). Likewise with the god virus, religion can cause humans to commit genetic suicide (think terrorist bombers, priests and nuns) in the service of their religion. The overreaching theme of the book is that religion (and those most heavily infected with the virus) do not care about their flock. All they care about is spreading their religion, and damn the consequences. As a fundamentalist Baptist for two decades, Ray is perfectly placed to examine and dissect the flawed arguments and effective tactics of religion. And, as a psychologist, he is able to give an objective, scientific illustration of why religions act in the way they do, how they have become so extravagantly successful, and what can be done to combat it.

Darrel Ray opens his book (written for non-believers) with a suggestion: talk to a Christian friend and ask their permission to record and/or transcribe the conversation. Ask them to explain their theistic beliefs in detail. Then, a few days or weeks later, repeat their statement of faith to them after replacing Jesus with Mohammed. The inescapable conclusion is that while religious individuals can see through the gimmicks and nonsensical arguments of every other religion (and schisms within their own, such as Mormonism). These schisms and inconsistent beliefs are not only powerful evidence against the truth of any one religion, but have also led to countless intra-faith and inter-faith conflicts throughout human history.

Chapter One details the spread of viruses in the natural world and through cultures. Viruses are spread by vectors (mosquitoes for malaria, priests, imams and rabbis for religion). Because of the enormous investment of time and money that training these individuals require, the virus will instinctively protect its vectors in the face of scandals. The recent surfeit of child rape atrocities in the Catholic church is a contemporary case study here. Religions will frequently use meaningless rituals to reinforce their beliefs in the mind of their believers. Why would Islam require five daily prayers (facing Mecca, no less) if their deity was actually real? Why the cultural and social practice of weekly sermons and proscriptions against masturbation in many religions? If it's good for the virus, it will spread and remain as long as it remains useful. They also tend to be very specific as to what constitutes "charity" (the ACLU typically doesn't qualify). Contradictions are rife, but the virus neuter's its host's capacity for critical thinking and reason (except where "heathen" faiths are concerned). Martyrs can be profitable "fruit" for sects, as was the case of Joseph Smith and Mormonism.

Chapter Two details religion's natural tendency for schisms and conflict. Sunnis and Shi'ites just can't seem to get along. Al Qaeda seems to loathe both groups equally. As an example, Iran has tried to keep fundamentalist Islam contained, but it continues to flare up violently on occasion. Religions can be grouped into three categories - parasitic, symbiotic and a hybrid of the two. All religions have some tangible benefits for their societies; they would not have survived very long without them. Jehovah's Witnesses can be very parasitic at times, especially since their dogma forbids blood transfusions. The harm that this can cause led to Russia clamping down on their religious practices to protect children and families from splitting apart.

Chapter Three begins with a description of early tribal religions and how it is the goal of most religions (at least in Europe and the US today) to seize control of the state (which will lead to further control as the two institutions become indistinguishable). Not only does this violate the protections of the US Constitution, but if successful, would threaten the religious freedom of every religion not in power. The myth of religious organisations doing more good than secular ones is smashed to smithereens here. Studies have shown that only around 5% of donations to churches and other religious institutions actually goes to benefit impoverished individuals (building wells, farming, education etc.). The vast majority is wasted on bibles (unless you're a goat), preaching, church buildings and instilling religious rituals and teachings, which have no benefit here on Earth.

By stark contrast, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders and other charities motivated by a desire to reduce suffering spend close to 80% on directly helping communities, with most of the remainder on administrative costs. No plush, extravagant mansions for these altruists.

Chapter Four deals with repressive sexual teachings, and how they can instill individuals with guilt (which is covered in detail later) for normal desires such as masturbating and fantasising about attractive adults. The contradictory messages of religion are shown here, and are so transparent all but the most brainwashed (or willfully ignorant) can and will see them. Misogyny and emotional blackmail are also rife.

I would go through the chapters individually, but I'm already starting to ramble. It is safe to say that scientific education is the best vaccine we have against theism, as showcased in Japan and Europe, where creationism has been held at bay, more or less. When dealing with the infected, be polite and do not ridicule their beliefs. Notice when they have put up a wall or are unwilling to discuss certain subjects. This will often be in a different tone, glance or personality. When dealing with grief, be tactful, and put your own skepticism aside to comfort them. If they need a priest or rabbi at their deathbed, arrange for it. Compassion is crucial in such situations. Honesty is once again the best policy; do not indicate that you might be interested in converting (unless, of course, you actually are).

The myth of objective religious morality is exposed as a fraud and a sham. Not only do evangelical Christians divorce more frequently than atheists and agnostics, but their own preachers, held up as paragons of virtue, often and even when they fall (Satan must really be going after them since he's doing such a good job of winning souls for Christ). Furthermore, even such things as the definition of "murder" have changed through history. In Old Testament times, certainly, it was not murder to beat your slave so badly that he or she died after a few sunsets. Black lynchings were accepted in racist portions of America in past decades. As Matt Dillahunty eloquently put it, religion has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Enlightenment ideals led to more humans laws and compassionate societies, not religious edicts that cannot be empirically verified and must be taken on faith.

This book is a must-read for anyone incredulous or concerned at religion's pernicious and near-ubiquitous influence in modern society.



How to be a Slave (and Enjoy It)

This piece by evangelist Rick Warren is based on a 40-day program. According to him, everyone who has not completely dedicated their life to Jesus has no real, objective purpose. The only purpose, says Warren, is what we create for ourselves. This is assumed to be undesirable. To further underscore his point, he asserts that without eternal consequences, there is no reason to behave morally due to a lack of long-term consequences. What he fails to understand is the simple fact that there ARE long-term consequences to everything we do, from social alliances to career advancements and personal improvement.

Logic students will likely recognise this argument as an appeal to consequences (if something is true, it has positive effects, therefore it must be true, and vice versa). It gets worse; he opens his first chapter with a "quote" from Bertrand Russel that was fabricated out of whole cloth. Russel was an atheist, and Warren apparently believes this helps prove his point (which it most certainly doesn't).

Although Warren claims that he has not written a self-help tome, it reeks of hollow and facile platitudes, along the lines of "cast aside past traumas and wrongdoings done to you" and "God loves you. He created everything about you, from your personality to your physical attributes." As the eloquent and robust intellectual Steve Shives from YouTube has sharply pointed out, these phrases will have no comfort to those afflicted from birth with a predisposition towards cancer or full-blown Cystic Fibrosis. Free will is thrown out the window, which leads to Warren inadvertently sandbagging the next premise he attempts to make. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Further evidence that reveals the dishonest claim of not being a self-help book are lines that are essentially plagiarised from The Secret. Ask. Believe. Receive. If everything was that simple, we would be able to eliminate poverty and despotism overnight, but it's not, and we clearly cannot.

Free will doesn't defend against this, especially since an omniscient god, by definition, planned everything, including the pear-shaped conclusion for his beloved creations.

Warren's purposes for human life (which he implies are better than our own self-determined purposes) basically amount to nothing more than worship, prayer and singing to god's glory. It's almost as if he is attempting to make eternal life with his god LESS palatable than eternal torture or separation. Frankly, I think he can do better. I can't imagine impoverished and emaciated children or adults turning to Christianity because the rewards will come after they are dead. If any do fall for his con game, they will likely enter mutual-murder pacts to escape their torments upon this Earth. I honestly don't think this is what the author is intending, but it seems more likely than the book's stated goal.

Anecdotes are liberally sprinkled around in an attempt to allow the reader to empathise with Warren's acquaintances, or more rarely, Warren himself.

Some more reviews.


For these Extremists, Life isn't worth Living

Consisting of interviews with terrorists (one failed to consummate his suicide bombing), this is perhaps the mos crucial documentary created in the first decade of this century. It is troubling and revealing both at once. For the first time, we have first-hand explanations for why young men throw their lives away for fundamentalist Islam (the virgins). In so doing, we are given the flip side of the equation - how to prevent these tragedies from happening and how to castrate Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah's river of recruits.

Under Islamic doctrine, one can either get married or become a suicide bomber to gain access to fertile and willing women for pleasure. Given the difficulties inherent in convincing a Muslim father to surrender his daughter to him, a Muslim man may opt for the second route. It doesn't even cross their mind to ask "OK, why haven't you blown yourself to smithereens yet?" Needless to say, no secular minded individual with a solid foundation for his worldview would fall for such a barbaric scam. We must spread the only known cures - scientific education and female emancipation - if we wish to curb this horrific epidemic.

Four Foundational Pillars Demolished

As Carrier states in his introduction, he is willing and able to change his position if evidence were forthcoming. Unlike creationists and certain brands of apologists (like William Lane Craig) who steadfastly refuse to let the evidence lead them to truth but seek to force the evidence to lead them to their pre-established biases towards their particular faith. Take this quote from Craig during his debate with Mark Smith. In response to a hypothetical question,

"Dr. Craig, for the sake of argument let's pretend that a time machine gets built. You and I hop in it, and travel back to the day before Easter, 33 AD. We park it outside the tomb of Jesus. We wait. Easter morning rolls around, and nothing happens. We continue to wait. After several weeks of waiting, still nothing happens. There is no resurrection- Jesus is quietly rotting away in the tomb."

Craig's unabashedly honest reply (which, ironically, reveals the depth of his deceit, was, and I am paraphrasing:

"Yes, I would still believe. The internal witness of the holy spirit trumps any and all external evidence against Christianity."

Also, from Reasonable Faith, page 35-36:

"When a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God."

Carrier immediately sets himself out from his opponents by a candid description of his position and a glimpse into his profound intellectual rigour and integrity.

A quick read at under 100 pages, the evidence and reasoning provided are sound. This is no hollow chest-beating piece from a sophist attempting to sell snake-oil as diamonds. This is a clear, level-headed and fair analysis of why religion has yet to prove itself true and must spread through violence and indoctrination. Furthermore, as these flaws within Christianity can be linked and pointed to

The author's first argument is from divine hiddenness and silence. Why does god refrain from telling humanity his plan? Why are there so many Christian and Muslim sects if god has a single message and plan for the world?

Common rebuttals appeal to free will, which is completely inadequate for explaining why religious believers, who have clearly NOT CHOSEN to reject or deny god's message, receive such conflicting and inconsistent messages. Wouldn't the Mormons, Hindus, Muslims all receive the same revelation? Based on the Christian belief held by most adherents (and demonstrated by CS Lewis in Mere Christianity), god's plan is for humans to fix a fallen world. Funnily enough, his actions (or more accurately, the lack thereof) completely belie his goals. Let's not forget that god is (allegedly) NOT the author of confusion, as illustrated in 1 Corinthians 14:33. CS Lewis, among others, have claimed that our conscience is the method by which god speaks to us, which again does not address the different moral conclusions reached by so many believers and non-believers.

Free will doesn't explain why he supposedly appear to prominent characters in the Old Testament. As Carrier states, physicists do not nullify the free will of those who seek out more information about the big bang or any other theory. A loving god would, likewise, ensure that everyone had the correct message before simply giving up on them as lost causes. As such, the basic claims of Christianity have been disproven by reality.

Other arguments include god's inaction. A god (or any supernatural causes) are unnecessary to explain the natural laws of the universe or why bad things happen. For if there was a tri-omni god, there would be no evil or suffering. Creation would begin and end with heavenly bliss. Free will fails to defeat this for obvious reasons (and less obvious ones, such as the difference between free will and free action), most prominent among them the fact that humans routinely deny freedom to those who harm others.

Fine tuning fails because a god would not need to fine tune the universe for life. This argument, while instinctively pleasing and convincing upon first blush, ignores the vast amount of the universe that is NOT conducive to any life, let alone human life. Without civilisation, we wouldn't have been able to propagate as successfully as we have. Why would a god allow his cherished creation to dwindle to a mere 10,000 and teeter on the brink of extinction? Not only is this atrocious design, but demeans the scientists and altruists throughout history who have striven to make life better.

The use of mathematics further solidifies Carrier's position, although it will likely seem too esoteric for those who have not taken courses in probability.

For further essays by Carrier, I encourage you to read the following compilations.

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

The End of Christianity


True Biblical Education

I've been a fan of the SAB for over a decade. Not only does it point out subtle contradictions buried among thousands of verses, but it is an excellent tome of humour and honest, didactic revelations that no preacher would even think of uttering in their Sunday School classes.

Inside it you will find, among many other things:

- How much financial value the war deity of the ancient Israelites put on children, adults and newborns (it's not what you might expect, especially if you are pro-life).
- Just how much incest is in the bible and how much is condoned by god.
- How Onanism got its name.
- Actions by god that defy credulity (such as cursing a fig tree for doing what god created it to do, and punishing David for conducting a census which was ordered by god in the first place).
- Biblical concepts of justice and just how vastly they differ from our more measured, mature and compassionate punishments and rules today.
- How varied and interesting marriage and lovemaking was in the bible (Song of Solomon).
- Whether god values everyone as a unique human being (see the book of Job).
- How poorly the authors of the Bible understood population growth and basic mechanics.
- How poorly the authors of the Bible understood science and biology (rabbits do not chew their cud).
- How poorly the authors of the Bible understood astronomy (the firmament is a prime example).

I could go on, but I shall conclude simply by stating that everything mentioned in the SAB can be found by anyone willing to approach the Bible honestly, without any preconceptions from the result of brainwashing.


Aristotle's Challenge Met. Articular, Appropriate and Measured Outrage at Injustice

Aristotle's Challenge proceeds as follows: "Anyone can become angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy."

Beginning with an impressive array of legitimate complaints at the harm motivated and "justified" by religion, Greta Christina shows why anger is justified, especially in modern times, at the harm caused by fundamentalists and by moderates, New Agers and Ecumenical religions (to a lesser degree). Her own personal story of receiving cyber death threats ranks near the end of the list, with Catholic child rape, atheist discrimination written into state constitutions until recent decades, Mormon power plays and child abandonment taking centre stage. And, as she has said, she could easily have titled this book "100,000 Things that Piss Off the Godless." And all this without mentioning individuals (a feat that must have taken a gargantuan amount of self-control). Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie also get prominent page space. They are living under strict protection, fearing for their lives, because of fatwahs propagated by intolerant and bigoted Muslim extremists. Childhood brainwashing among Buddhist monks, forcing children into lives of self-denial and asceticism, are also mentioned. The Magdalene Laundries, which enslaved hundreds of thousands of "improper" and "immodest" women also gets a spot. They were the subject of a brutal and eye-opening film. The Magdalene Sisters

Her second chapter anticipates and answers objections from the religious crowd. First up is the notion that the evil done by religion does not disprove religion. Of course it doesn't. It is also a red herring, and not the topic of this book. Moderates, Ecumenicals, new-agers etc are also part of the problem, and don't get to escape the blame by dismissing the extremists as "not true Christians/Muslims/Hindus etc." Why be angry? Because it works, and it motivates people to take action. Without anger, the civil rights movements of the previous century would not have succeeded, at least not yet. Without indignation at the Nazi pogroms and oppression, resistance movements would not have had the impact they did. Put simply, anger shakes people out of apathetic funks. Greta concedes that anger can lead to violence if not properly regulated and tempered with reason, but rightfully points out that repressing it or not getting angry at patently unjust situations is exponentially worse. Anyone who does nothing in the face of oppression has already cast their ballot for the oppressor.

The irony of the sheer glut of angry, irate and apoplectic Christians is not lost on the author, either.

Chapter 3 makes a formidable case for why the harms she mentioned in chapter 1 are indeed attributable to religion. For one thing, there is no self-correction in religion; in fact, it is often not even accepted, and rejected with ardent dismissal and/or insults. The litigation-happy Scientologist cult is especially notorious for litigating critics into silence. Because religion has no self-correcting systems, and is actively opposed to them (just read any declarations of faith by Creation "Science" lobby groups), they are guarded against empirical testing and peer review. Most of the promises are not to be revealed until after we die, and everyone who is intellectually honest knows that prayer has been tested and found utterly useless. Religion also motivates people to do great acts of altruism and caring. No reasonable person would dispute this. Even so, the harm caused and promoted by religion vastly outweighs this.

Chapters 4-6 tackles moderate religious believers, New Agers and Ecumenicals respectively. From the woman who used a "positive barrier contraceptive" to Greta's former boss who consulted an animal psychic about their office cat (OVER THE PHONE!), watered-down and quasi-religious beliefs cause more harm than good, and are at their core, no different from radical fundamentalism. They give succor to those who also believe things without evidence and have no qualms or compunctions against writing their beliefs into law. And let's face it, there are far more verses in support of slavery than the reverse (certainly no unambiguous condemnation of owning other humans as property).

Chapter 8 details her ten powerful reasons for why the god hypothesis has failed every time it has been posited as an explanation. As we learned more about the world, we learned that causes for natural phenomena and the variation of all life on Earth. Religious arguments either appeal to the bible, confusing and/or contradictory arguments (such as religionists claiming that the universe is finely tuned, then going on to assume that atheists feel at home in a universe of chaos and black holes.

Towards the end of her book, Greta again reiterates her desire to persuade humanity to freely leave their religious beliefs without coercion or threats. In sum, the book is a reasonable, well thought-out and much-needed attack on the harms caused by religion, especially when it is intertwined with political systems. Apathy will only make things worse.
Some new reviews I wrote in the last few weeks (and also longer ago).


Not a Scientific Forensic Investigation

Fuhrman's bias is apparent from the book's first chapter. He intersperses emotional quotes from the Schindlers and their advocates with factual and clinical statements of fact by Michael Schiavo, George Soros and the other half of the issue. It's a subtle tactic, and it's often effective at garnering grassroots support (one only needs to look at the misplaced sanctimony and indignation of any extremist today). This goes on for several dozen pages (with thinly veiled accusations directed at Michael).

Fuhrman's goal, as a former homicide investigator, is to discover what happened to Terri to cause her collapse (a tall order, given that almost all evidence since her fall in 1990 has been discovered or eternally lost). An interesting fact that was gleaned from his investigations include how Terri did NOT collapse due to a heart attack. OK, so what? In criminal trials, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. None of this is provided. This book is filled with conjecture based on testimony so clouded and tainted with anti-choice bias that none of it can be trusted without careful scrutiny. Needless to say, none is provided. There is no cross-examination; only one-sided, anti-Michael vitriol and diatribe.

He accuses Michael of inconsistency when he discovered the body. He either hasn't spoken to a psychologist or doesn't know the first thing about trauma. PTSD isn't the only possible outcome. Memories can be altered, lost or confabulated. It would be rarer for Michael to act normally and recall every detail with surgical precision after seeing his wife unconscious on the bathroom floor.

The conclusion? Nothing but wild speculation as to what happened on the day Terri collapsed for the final time. Save your time. Read the books by Michael and Terri's family. But don't read this obvious attempt to cash in on a tragedy. No one will win if you do.



Nothing Factual to Speak Of

This film was funded by right-wing Christians and populated by well-meaning individuals who, sadly and mistakenly, believed that Terri was not brain dead, but merely "disabled." Starting from a premise of quicksand, things go downhill from there. We are asked whether Terri was a person (she died after her brain injury with a shell being sustained by medical technology) and how she should be treated.

The implication, of course, is that Terri was murdered, Michael Schiavo is a heartless beast and living wills/advance directives/DNR orders are a tool of the "Culture of Death" (contrasted with the Culture of Suffering). As her husband mentioned in his take on the whole debacle, almost no 27-year-olds have living wills. Perhaps the only good outcome of this farce will be the parade of people clamouring for DNR orders, advance directives and powers of attorney to prevent horrors and tragedies for families in the future. Claims that Terri showed signs of recovery, speech and the hope for a full recovery, even if true, were soundly refuted by the evidence of countless court-appointed neurologists (who did not have any vested interests, unlike those on the pro-life payroll).

The interviewees claimed that Terri was not kept alive by machines (ignoring the feeding tube). While the family suffered a tragic and profound loss, their inability to accept reality did not do anything to improve the situation. Terri's responses were involuntary and random. She was unaware with no hope of ever regaining awareness. The autopsy conclusively proved that she was blind. Everything the Schindlers did "for" Terri was really done for themselves, to make themselves feel better.

This film is designed to tug at its viewers' heartstrings, but it won't have much of an effect on anyone who hasn't already been assimilated into the frenzy whipped up by the rabid religious right. Anyone who has studied both sides of the case fairly and even-handedly will have to conclude that Terri died in 1990, a husk was kept alive by machines and compassionate nurses, and that Terri had no "interests" to fight for. The Religious Right exploited this tragedy and set two families against each other. They should be ashamed of themselves. I know I would be if I used personal tragedies for political ends.

The most revolting statement comes as an anti-choicer berates and sanctimoniously preaches at the audience about Terri's manner of death. Dehydration was the only option since assisted suicide and euthanasia are not legal in Florida. They were responsible for Terri's gruesome end. The only silver lining was that Terri could not feel a thing.

Rewrite your Sexual Roadmap

As Darrel outlines early on, using a map from the American Colonial era would be useless in today's modern world. Skyscrapers, back alleys, gang territory etc. would be conspicuously absent. So too with religion and sex. In the latter case, however, the consequences are far more dire than not finding the Space Needle after a few hours of sojourning in Seattle.

Religious myths about sex covers a short chapter, and some more humour is present in the Mormon "teachings" for adolescents maturing into sexual beings. Tragically, the issue is largely skirted and the words "sex" and "masturbation" are eschewed in lieu of religious buzzwords and euphemisms. It's a riot.

One of the most obvious effects is the sexual repression of Catholic priests and how their seminary "education" turns them into vicious predators. As their sexual development is frozen at ages 13-16, so too is their ability to relate to adults in a romantic way. Unfortunately, their hormones still rage and 10% of them (watch Deliver Us From Evil) will become pedophiles for life. The next most obvious effect can be seen in the scandals of Ted Haggard, Difatta, Craig and Allen in a predictable pattern. It's only a matter of time before those of Frank Turek's ilk are involuntarily outed (unless they chemically castrate themselves). Only those who are asexual could possibly lead a healthy or fulfilling life as celibate prelates.

The brutality of the Magdalene Sisters can be seen in their treatment of young girls imprisoned for "crimes" such as acting seductively, sex outside the bounds of marriage and being raped. Horny nuns + sexual repression + unquestioned power = torture and abuse.

Roman and Greek sexual practices and mores are explored in great detail. Sexual practices and behaviours and dictated by cultures, not from any innate commands from on high.

What was sex like before religion? Looking at nomadic hunter-gatherer societies, women collected at least half of the food. This gave them power equal or greater than men, even in countries with full-blown women's suffrage. Sadly, these tribes were either exterminated or forcibly assimilated by agrarian tribes.

Sexual identity and kinks are formed through genetics, epigenetics (gene expression) and culture. How one is raised can leave a lasting imprint. Childhood fears of balloons popping can re-emerge as a fetish for the experience that instigated that fear to begin with.

Darrel's sex study, appearing in the book's latter half, comes to one simple (and, in hindsight, obvious) conclusion: leaving religion is the best thing you can do for your sex life. No more guilt about masturbation (it won't turn you gay). No more timorous conversations regarding kinks and fetishes. No more sex only for procreation.

Among the exemplary advice that Darrel proffers for his readers includes the notion that everyone is normal. Everyone's sexual desires are normal, and so long as no unconsenting adults or minors are being harmed, go for it! Have a blast! Humans are one of the most sexually active animals on the planet, having sex multiple times (including masturbation) without having children.

Seth's Arduous Sojourn from Obedience to Virtue

When I listened to this audiobook, I was stunned and almost incredulous when Seth made it known that his deconversion was consummated in 2009. I was so used to hearing his numerous podcasts that it seemed much, much longer ago.

Interspersed with quotes from listeners and supporters at the outset of each chapter (my personal favourite concerns god and his surfeit of Twitter accounts and hence his multiple personalities), this audiobook is an intensely personal and honest story of Seth's journey from devout believer to doubter and finally to an unabashed atheist. The book starts with his first taste of radio and its Christian messages. After a long stint, he was eventually downsized. The seeds of uncertainty were sown with the death of his dear friend Rich, who was an adamant and impeccable spokesman for Christianity. Seth proceeds outline how his inklings of anxiety and uncertainty deepened after 9/11, the debate between Hitchens and Boteach (available on YouTube) was the crucial turning point. Unsurprisingly, Seth was quite unimpressed by Boteach's lack of evolutionary knowledge, lack of mid-20th century history (claiming that Hitler was motivated by evolutionary principles) and other cheap tactics. It led to his reading of Farewell to God by Charles Templeton and Dan Barker's Godless.

After reading the more unsavoury verses in the bible (to put it mildly), Seth was incredulous and could not reconcile these actions and orders with an all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing deity. And who could blame him? On the final step towards his complete jettisoning of Christianity, Seth asked his family and community of fellow believers for explanations and justifications. Sadly, they were far from bastions of reason and utterly failed to convince the modern Doubting Thomas of Yahweh's perfection. Four primary defender "prototypes" were encountered:

Feelers: Those who feel the undeniable "presence of the holy spirit" but are unable to give actual answers when pressed. They are, predictably, the easiest to defeat in a debate and usually the first to run whimpering away to their spiritual leaders.

Theologians: Apologists with a strong foundation of religious knowledge (which happens to be utterly impotent when wielded against non-believers or members of other religions).

Folklorists: Hack scientists like Kent Hovind and Ray Comfort who latch on to any plausible-sounding evidence without verifying its accuracy.

Foot soldiers: Generally the most outspoken and aggressive defenders. Although angry, well-rehearsed and passionate, they lack either the logical syllogisms or the facts to prop up their faith.

The remainder of the book deals with Seth's admission of his lack of belief to his family (leading to profound trauma and tears for a mother who now believes her son is lost to eternal torment), his journey towards atheism, fighting the innumerable harms of religion and how he started his smash-hit podcast. Crestfallen after seeing a great number of atheist videos online that were lacking in verve and production qualities, he directed his experience and expertise as a radio host towards storytelling, with superlative results.

One of his final pieces of advice is an entreaty for atheists to treat their opponents with respect and measured rage. Anger, says Seth, should be a last resort. Upon reflection, he is absolutely correct. One catches more flies with honey, after all.

When bishops and priests dismiss child rape as "petty gossip", anger and irate retaliations are justified. When torture is legalised as "suffering with compassion" and assisted suicide is steadfastly opposed, anger is perfectly rational. Anger was what propelled the civil rights struggles of the 20th century and today.

Filled with hope, honesty and internal wrestling, Deconverted is a tome for the centuries.
My first sarcastic review:


A Spin Doctor's Dream Come True

Following in the tradition of Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking) and The Yes Men comes a pocket-sized user's manual that would make Joseph Goebbels proud! Starting from the assumption that all Catholic teachings are true and that the ends justify any means used, Austen teaches believers to be polite while ignoring social ills and profound suffering that are the direct result of archaic and obsolete religious dogma! Here's just a sample:

- The Church has a DUTY to speak out on political issues (p. 15). The incidental fact of its tax-exempt status is merely a convenient benefit of calling itself "Christian" in an extremely right-wing nation, such as the United States.
- Bishops are not trying to influence individual voters, but rather the entire political process (p.21). Therefore we are not violating the unilateral wall espoused by Jefferson and Madison when they founded the nation and established the First Amendment.
- Birth control is evil because God said so (p.31-32)
- By being required to give gay couples equal treatment, the Church is being oppressed through the Dictatorship of Relativism (p51-54). Who cares if no secular charities are required to follow similar laws?
- It is possible to choose to continue to suffer until a natural death, not not possible to freely choose a pain-free demise (p66-69). Please ignore the voices of reason and science (including those within the palliative care community) who assert that even the best care cannot relieve all suffering to the patient's satisfaction.
- Smother the faithful and secular critics who moan about child rape among the church by pointing out the steps taken (in the past few decades) to end a systemic problem that has lasted since the Church's founding and is a direct result of the Puritanical requirements of celibacy (p72-74).

In a postmodern world where faith is being rapidly displaced by science, reason and empiricism, I am eternally grateful to Austen for his work in keeping oppressive regimes in place. Disguising bigotry with a honeyed forked tongue, he makes himself appear respectable and reasonable. Well done!
Glad you like it. :) I have since amended the review slightly. I am certainly open to any suggestions.
Some new reviews. :)



Cauley's book is split into five segments. I will address each of them in turn.

He begins with Creation, Evolution, Science and Scripture. Right out of the gate, he begins accusing scientists who are "too confident" of being dogmatists. He cites Ben Stein's creationist propaganda piece, Expelled, as his first source. Not only is this disingenuous, it's akin to using Joseph Goebbels as your public relations advisor. Only people who are unaware with the specious and hollow arguments presented are going to be convinced. Anyone who has taken a course in debating or logic will easy rip your arguments to shreds.

Secondly, he asserts that moral duties only exist if god exists. But what he doesn't explain is why so many religious people break the laws of the land and even the laws of their own holy book. Why behave when god will forgive your trespasses and allow you into paradise so long as you kowtow to him? His arguments against utilitarianism are based on fear, prejudice and the assumption that the bible is true and the rules therein were written for the benefit of humanity. Needless to say, the violent crime rate in the US utterly pulverises this myth. His claim that Hitler was never a Christian are similarly specious. The infamous leader of the 3rd Reich was never excommunicated and invoked Jesus countless times in his speeches and Mein Kamph.

Part 3 (From Atheism to Humanism to Post-Modernism) is about how atheists are the foolish ones for going against the bible (even though most of us refuse to take claims on faith, especially supernatural ones). The latter chapters here rail against "watered-down Christianity" and how society must reject this lukewarm theology and wholeheartedly embrace biblical Christianity. I suppose he would be one of the first to volunteer to become a slave. After all, the bible never denounces this practice, and by working for his food instead of suckling the government teat, he might actually do some good for the world.

The penultimate section (Revelation, Realism and God) talks about how rationality is only really possible if god exists. This is sheer nonsense. The bible has god lying by omission from the second chapter of Genesis.

Finally, Kevin addresses the Problem of Evil. His attempts to reconcile gratuitous misery, natural disasters and childhood leukemia with an all-loving god are perhaps the biggest insight into his callous nature and lack of deep thinking. Not only does he think that punishing countless tens of billions for the sins of two people is fair, but he also thinks that free will alone is enough to explain away and absolve god of his role in this. Tempting humans with the tree of moral knowledge bears with it considerable responsibility. In the same sense, cajoling someone to commit murder or bank robbery is also blameworthy. Yet Cauley simply invokes fiat for his deity. God is not human, he is perfect. Therefore, he has no need to repent.

Well, if god has no moral duties, he could send everyone to hell for the fun of it, including this book's author, and Kevin would have to call that "good."


Fuhrman's bias is apparent from the book's first chapter. He intersperses emotional quotes from the Schindlers and their advocates with factual and clinical statements of fact by Michael Schiavo, George Soros and the other half of the issue. It's a subtle tactic, and it's often effective at garnering grassroots support (one only needs to look at the misplaced sanctimony and indignation of any extremist today). This goes on for several dozen pages (with thinly veiled accusations directed at Michael).

Fuhrman's goal, as a former homicide investigator, is to discover what happened to Terri to cause her collapse (a tall order, given that almost all evidence since her fall in 1990 has been discovered or eternally lost). An interesting fact that was gleaned from his investigations include how Terri did NOT collapse due to a heart attack. OK, so what? In criminal trials, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. None of this is provided. This book is filled with conjecture based on testimony so clouded and tainted with anti-choice bias that none of it can be trusted without careful scrutiny. Needless to say, none is provided. There is no cross-examination; only one-sided, anti-Michael vitriol and diatribe.

He accuses Michael of inconsistency when he discovered the body. He either hasn't spoken to a psychologist or doesn't know the first thing about trauma. PTSD isn't the only possible outcome. Memories can be altered, lost or confabulated. It would be rarer for Michael to act normally and recall every detail with surgical precision after seeing his wife unconscious on the bathroom floor.

The conclusion? Nothing but wild speculation as to what happened on the day Terri collapsed for the final time. Save your time. Read the books by Michael and Terri's family. But don't read this obvious attempt to cash in on a tragedy. No one will win if you do.



Terri Schiavo was not "disabled." She was brain dead. That's just the tip of the iceberg in this pile of journalistic malpractice. David Gibbs is staunchly religious (hardly surprising) and a devoted Christian. So why does he violate the 9th commandment so blatantly? Why lie about Terri's blindness? Is it just to make a quick buck? Is it to promote an anti-choice agenda that will likely lead to living wills and enduring powers of attorney being disregarded forever? Probably a mix of both. Even by saying that all human life is of "eternal worth" in his introduction, he is being deceptive. No all-loving deity would threaten anyone with eternal torture for any reason. Period. No marginally loving deity would do so either.

Three years after Schiavo's heart finally stopped beating, Gibbs and his toady DeMoss release this diatribe against choice and genuine compassion. Let's get some facts down. Terri was only dehydrated to death because Florida law did now allow for any more compassionate methods. So if he plans to wax invective against anyone, he should start with his own side. Terri was brain dead and any "responses" (including the infamous balloon video) were entirely random. Her brain stem was maintaining her sleep/wake cycles and breathing, but nothing more. There was no "Terri" remaining in her body.

Michael Schiavo laboured for five years to help Terri recover. He had accepted the hard truth - Terri was never coming back. Then the buzzards showed up. Seeing an opportunity for their cause, right-to-lifers circled the wagons and campaigned for Terri's "protection," calling her husband a murderer and likening him to the leaders and architects of the Third Reich. Utter nonsense. They would have a case if Terri was minimally conscious, but she was not. Like the wingnuts on The American View, they ignored the medical evidence presented at the autopsy. It's impossible to argue with people like these who are unwilling to face reality and concoct their own "facts" from whole cloth.