Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Faith Is A Road That Leads Anywhere You Want

From Atheism Is the True Embrace of Reality, via Jerry Coyne:
Just about all the Christians I came into contact with “knew” there was a god, too. They, too, spent time in meditative prayer with him on a daily basis. And as a result, they, too, “knew” what God was like. So what did that knowledge tell us about him? How reliable were these personal relationships when it came to establishing the truth about God?

Some of us, on the basis of our relationship with God, knew him to be loving, compassionate, generous, always reaching out to us, pitying our mistakes rather than condemning them. Others, on the basis of their relationship with God, knew him to be angry, jealous, punitive.

Some of us knew that God had more important things to worry about than our sex lives; others knew that human sexual impurity was deeply offensive to him.

Some of us knew that God wanted us to respond to other people’s shortcomings with tolerance and forbearance and humility; others knew that he wanted sin to be made an example of, to be held up and publicly rebuked.

Some of us knew that God was offended by conspicuous consumption when so many people had nothing; others knew that God showered wealth along with other good things on those of whom he approved.

Some of us knew that God saw all religions as different expressions of people’s yearning for him; others knew that traditional, orthodox Christianity was the only route to him.

Some of us knew that the devil was just a myth to explain the existence of evil; others knew that the devil was very real and a genuine threat to our souls.

Some of us knew that there was no way God could ever allow such a thing as hell; others knew that hell was very much a part of God’s ordained order.

We all knew we were right, and we all based that knowledge on the personal relationship we had with him. How could any of us possibly be wrong?

I've said it before and I'll say it again--faith is not a path to truth. It is unable to discern truth from falsehood, and one reaches the conclusion one wants to. Faith leads to conclusions which are mutually incompatible. The people listed above literally cannot all be correct. (However, it is logically possible that they are all wrong.)

Neuroscientists have done studies which identify the regions of the brain which model the morality of others, and which model one's own morality. When contemplating God's desires and values, the regions of the brain which are active are invariably one's own. No religious person has ever conceived of a God who disagreed with themselves on any major point. They may conceive god as the highest, unattainable standard and experience guilt thereby, but that cognitive dissonance does not obviate the reality that it's really their own standards they're failing to live up to.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Words Fail Me.

Via the Friendly Atheist:

In essence, they're testing a cancer drug that is so scorchingly teratogenic that the manufacturer recommends your husband use barrier protection even if he's had a vasectomy. You can't even get on the trial without two separate pregnancy tests, and after that they specifically indicate that women should double up on contraception regardless of their circumstances. It might help with cancer, and let's face it, chemotherapy drugs aren't kind to pregnancies under the best of circumstances.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, would rather risk children being born with crippling birth defects than even mention contraception (or, needless to say, an abortion if the sonogram reveals the fetus has no arms and half a heart.) It's for this reason that I agree with the opinion expressed elsewhere that at this point in the game, after child abuse scandals, saying that condoms spread AIDS, hideously wrongheaded family planning dogma, that simply calling yourself a Catholic is an immoral act. One is giving aid and comfort to an organization which has plainly established itself to be an enemy to humanity itself.

I don't expect Christians to really recognize that, say, the atonement of Christ is itself an immoral and nonsensical doctrine. That comes way down the line, once you realize that infinite punishment for finite sin is unjust, that god sacrificing himself to himself to assuage his own wrath is nonsensical, and that divine command morality is amoral in the first place. I get that.

But this Catholicism thing...really, what would they have to do, at this point in the game, that adherents wouldn't blithely ignore? To prove that the institution itself is rotten, that the entire organization should be torn out root and branch, its assets sold for charity, its philanthropic enterprises spun off into independent non-profits, its headquarters emptied of ecclesiastic parasites and turned into an art museum open to the public, and its leaders imprisoned for obstruction of justice?