Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lord, Send a Revival

To the Chinese, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. To the Adventists, it's the Year of Revival and Reformation. The theme is being launched today in Francistown, Botswana, and everyone had to congregate at Somerset East Church, which is waaaay too small to accommodate them all. No pain for me - I just spent the day sharing lewd stories with my "Christian" friends.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Random Ramble III - Am I Bad Ass, or Am I FRICKIN' BAD ASS?!

Got my CIE AS Level results today:

  • English Language............A......88%(2% from an A*!!!)
  • Biology..............................B......75%
  • Chemistry........................B......70%
  • Physics.............................D......52%(Yeah, my equipment in the prac had issues and I had the GOD of all headaches during the Multiple Choice and didn't finish)
  • Mathematics...................B......75%
Now I must let you know I wrote in less than ideal conditions. Due to...circumstances beyond my control I couldn't attend school the last two terms of the year and had to tutor myself. In one month, just before exams began.

So this has really got me thinking. All this time I've really just been coasting, doing the minimum work necessary but still came up with A's and B's. Now I've actually applied myself, working with no one else, no guidance from a teacher or whatever and still come up with A's and B's. What I could do if I had both the guidance and drive to work on my own scares me shitless. And damn me to hell if I ain't gonna do just that this year.

I am going to have to re-write my physics and math this June if I want A's in both of them, which is what the top varsities want if they are to accept me in their Physics/Astrophysics programs. With my total badassery, I haven't a shadow of a doubt that I'm gonna do it.

On a different note, my preceding post, BREAKING NEWS - Look out! Obama's signing in the National Sunday Law this weekend! has garnered more views in the last few days than all other posts before it combined! Shows you the power of a sensationalist headline...

Friday, January 21, 2011

BREAKING NEWS - Look out! Obama's signing in the National Sunday Law this weekend!

I got this via SMS today:

I have just received news that the pope is urging president Obama to pass the National Sunday Law this month. Adventist president Ted Wilson is appealing to Christians to please pray for 7 days either 7am or 7 pm for the latter rain. Recommend script Rom 8:26-27,John 17:1-2, Eph 1:13. Please forward

It's also causing a bit of hysteria on the SDA Facebook page. I've searched all over and haven't been able to find a single reliable source (not even an official SDA source) confirming this, so its veracity is questionable, to say the least.

This sort of rumour makes the rounds every couple of years or so in Adventist circles: those who keep tabs on this kind of thing will remember the hysteria that was created over a post that was made by a member of Obama's community site back in '08 (Sample headline: "Sunday Law heavily debated on Barack Obama site"). In my opinion, Adventists just need to hear stuff like this to bolster their faith. You should have seen the absolute glee on my friend's face when he heard this - he was finally vindicated! The prophecy was coming true and soon he'd be in heaven and we heathens would finally burn for our sins! Such rumours spread like wildfire and are often unquestioningly accepted, as long as they remotely confirm their fairytale book and something their prophetess mumbled a couple of hundred years ago.

And this also says another thing: Obama is the Adventists' Antichrist too! Wait, sorry, that's the Pope by the way.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Absence of Evidence - A Response to Chad Williams

On Saturday, I posted a reply to Chad Williams aka Rationaltruth(Twitter) aka rationalresponder(Youtube)'s blog post, "Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence?", attempting to deconstruct his arguments against the statement "absence of evidence is evidence of absence". A reply is yet forthcoming. Here are my counterarguments below, I'll appreciate if anyone willing and able can critique them for me.


Nothing new here...

Several of your arguments are flawed, as I will point out below.

Any “Crime Scene Investigator” (CSI) can bear witness to the fact that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! For instance, an absence of finger prints on the murder weapon is not itself evidence that there is no such murderer!

True that... But then you'd need to have further evidence to score a conviction, evidence which, in the case of any deity, is lacking. If this line of reason were to be followed, any old person who could not account for their movements at the T.O.D could be held suspect of the crime. I think I'm reading a little too much into your analogy, but fact is, multiple lines of evidence are needed to pin a suspect to a crime scene. In the case of deities and supernatural phenomena, that evidence is woefully inadequate if not nonexistent.

Let us suppose now we were to change locations, standing at the edge of the grand canyon with the same question before us and I ask you “Is there a bird flying around down there?” You could peer down into the canyon and find no birds within eye-shot but, this would not be definitive proof that there are no birds in the canyon!

Once again, true, but the only reasons not seeing a bird in the Grand Canyon would be inconclusive evidnce of the absence of birds would be:1-It is already known that birds exist from having seen them elsewhere, their nests, their droppings, shed feathers, video evidence and numerous incontrovertible lines of evidence and 2-It is already known that birds exist in the Grand Canyon...perhaps studies of their population densities have even been done making it almost a sure thing that birds do exist in the vista being surveyed. The same cannot be said of gods - what "evidence" we have of their existence is in the form of ancient, unreliable texts written by people with no understanding of natural phenomena, hence a need to explain that which they do not understand with all sorts of supernatural malarkey.

And that's just where the god hypothesis fails: it does not predict anything! Anything and everything is allowed, even if when viewed objectively it would ostensibly disprove it. The hallmark of any good scientific theory is that it makes predictions – testable predictions – that have the potential to be falsified under empirical scrutiny. “But God doesn’t conform to your high and mighty science!” I hear you say (basically the gist of your above statement). But if we can’t use science to test this claim, what are we to use? Are we supposed to uncritically accept the writings of ancient nomadic tribes who did not fully understand the way nature works? Religious writings are full of all sorts of far-fetched stuff, like conjuring tricks, talking animals, virgin births and the like (which, by the way are not unique to Judaism and Christianity alone – many are demonstrably copied from other ancient legends) which have been proven wrong by discoveries and advances in science. So if we were to use religious texts’ content as a scientific test, they fail quite dismally. And since it is claimed that they were written by an all-knowing “god”, we must come to the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong with this god concept. This is simply one of many proofs we can use that the concept of gods (and, by extension, the Christian God), at least as given by the religious texts we have, is simply incorrect. As an aside, this “God ain’t constrained by your laws” excuse is so often the rug under which evidence of bad design in nature, the apparent age of the Earth and other topics relating to origins are swept by creationism.

...a wild-eyed detractor...


Detractor: “Absence of evidence is evidence of absence!”

Christian: “Sir do I have a five dollar bill in my wallet right now?”

Detractor: “I don’t know.”

Christian: “Well, why don’t you stay consistent and say no! After all, isn’t ‘absence of evidence, evidence of absence?’”

That retort would be a false analogy. It would really be more like "Believe I have a five dollar bill or I shall smite thee!" And to top it off, we know that five dollar bills exist. A more accurate analogy would be our Christian buddy claiming to have a $3.27 bill, attendant with the previous death threat! The fairness of such a proposition is, to say the least, debatable.



Monday, January 10, 2011


Fucking Holy Communion this coming Saturday. Great. Wouldn't be so bad if these people I live with were Catholic or Anglican or some other (marginally) more sensible denomination, but no! They just had to be Seventh Day Adventists! God does indeed work in the most amazing ways: if I weren't born into an Adventist family I wouldn't be able to feel his divine punishment every three months!

You know, Communion wouldn't really be so bad if it weren't for that most idiotic, pointless and fucking screwed up of traditions known as foot-washing. Seriously, all the prayers, the early mornings, the forced witnessing drives, even having to shut up and sit still while they spout item after item I know to be a lie, I can handle. But this is the one thing that could potentilly be my undoing, that could drive me so fucking insane I'd scream my new allegiances at the top of my lungs before killing everyone with my bare hands.

Honestly, I was never a fan of foot washing even back when I still sorta kept the faith. I remember the second time I was supposed to partake I decided to skip the whole shindig, much to my mothers chagrin. I could even dare say it was one of the catalysts that made me lose it, though I don't think it was that much of a factor. I still didn't really mind doing it back when I was still in Zimbabwe though (at least not as much as I do now) because I at least was with people I already knew quite intimately...I knew how clean they kept their feet, so I could bear touching them every once in a while. I still didn't quite look forward to it but it was bearable.

When we moved to Kanye in the south of Botswana is when I started having serious issues with it. I couldn't connect with the fellows there...I had begun to loathe church and all the people associated with it. Beginning of the year 2009, I swore I would never participate in that disgusting, creepy ritual. It was pretty easy...Kanye SDA was a very large church, so I tried to blend into the background as best as I could(not that easy for such a tall and handsome fellow as I). I pulled it off - of all four holy communions held in '09 I washed feet at none, though I cannibalised Jesus at all of them when in the presence of my parents in order to maintain the ruse. Apparently this is a taboo, but I still haven't been struck dead by the good Lord, so I think I got away with it.

Then we moved to Francistown...

First three months were ok: we were at a medium sized congregation, so I just barely managed to slip under the radar the first time. Then in april we moved to a bigger house in a less devout part of town with the most pathetic sized congregation in all of history. I mean, on a good day there's no more than thirty people! Needless to say, with the increased visibility I have been accursed with having to actively participate every fucking time. It's enough to drive a man fucking insane!

My reasons for despising this shit is obvious: who the fuck wants to touch some other guy's feet, which you don't fucking know where the fuck they've been? And worse, what if they've got fungus? Of course, some people (like me) do keep their feet meticulously clean. But that just makes the whole thing useless, doesn't it? If the fellow's got dirty, diseseased feet, I'm putting myself at risk of infection. If they're clean then the ritual's just superfluous, isn't it?

One of my "buddies" I told of my misgivings said I was being vain, that foot washing is a symbol of humility. Well know what? Maybe I don't proscribe to your fucked up idea of humility?! Maybe my humility is kindness, compassion, helping people, not boasting about my perceived piety and accepting praise only when it is due. I despise all the fakeness and symbolic ritual associated with religion. If you really want to do good, don't just play pretend with all your little friends in your comfort zone. Get out into reality and get your fucking hands dirty actually helping people.

But hell, what the fuck can I do? I've already set myself to keeping my parents in the dark about my faithlessness whatever the cost. And if mother's reaction to last Saturday's sermon ("Our children are turning from the Lord" or some bullshit like that) is anything to go by, this is the easiest and the right decision for me to make. So, barring faking illness or breaking my leg on purpose (I could do that), I will be washing some motherfucker's feet this coming blessed Sabbath. Fuck.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Evidence and theory collide with galactic proportions

Courtesy of Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog:


Astronomers using a fleet of telescopes observed over 1400 galaxies of all types, about 10% of which were classified as active. Looking at the shapes of the active galaxies (as well as the non-active ones as a control group — in that way, this was similar to a double-blind medical research study), they found that there is little or no connection between active galaxies and collisions/mergers.

This is stunning news! It goes against the paradigm that has been years, decades in the making. It’s not unbelievable, and by that I mean it doesn’t rely on weird assumptions or new science or anything like that. Something else must be making these galaxies active; perhaps instabilities inside them, or internal gas cloud collisions, or some other phenomenon. But apparently, at least for the past 8 billion years, it’s not due to collisions on a galactic scale. Mergers don’t feed the supermassive black holes and make them active in the way everyone assumed.

I imagine this will be a topic of much debate at the upcoming American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle this week. But in the end, if the observations hold up, and the conclusions are sound, a remarkable thing will happen: it will be accepted. Scientists will see that their assumptions were wrong, or at least need to be modified, and there will be a shift in the way astronomy of active galaxies is done. Perhaps there’s more to this story, perhaps more observations are needed, perhaps different populations of galaxies need to be studied. But if it holds up, scientists will change their minds...


I can't begin to count how often I've heard the "Scientists are too stubborn and entrenched in their beliefs to accept alternatives", both from my Christian buddies and my old Velikovskian/von Danikenite internet acquaintances. But this very simply and easily proves the opposite: when actual observation shows otherwise, the prevailing scientific opinion will change. These fellows also very wrongly phrase their misgivings as: "Science has been proven wrong so many times in the past". But the fact is science has never been proven wrong, people have been proven wrong by science. Science is a framework within which discoveries are made, and those discoveries then used to create a more accurate picture of the universe than was previously painted by ancient dogma or incorrect assumptions.

So when all those scientists in ancient times believed the Earth was flat (a common creationist defence), they weren't doing science, but when a bunch of smart fellas made logical deductions from observing the sky from different places, and another even measured its circumference, the myth of the flat earth was removed from the scientific canon.

Science. It works.


Monday, January 3, 2011

"It's the Devil's work!"

Watched a bit of the 2011 Generation of Youth for Christ conference on 3ABN, one of the SDA church's TV channels last Saturday. Okay, wasn't watching it as such but the TV was on while I was reading some satanic epic fantasy sci-fi stuff. A few things that were said did catch my attention though. One fellow stood up and said something to the tune of, "once Jesus comes into your heart, you stop believing in Evolution". One of the panel speakers took that up immediately, recounting his own experiences, and how his conversion led him to immediately cease to accept evolution. He does not mention whether he went through any process of scientific enquiry and logical deduction to get to that decision, and I'll refrain from speculating on whether he did.

But this enlightened me on the nature of the denialist's arguments against evolution, cosmic origins and pretty much all of established science. It's not based on their skewed parody science, or any form of reasoning, but simply upon a preconceived idea that immediately blocks the mind against any form of evidence that might appear to the contrary.

Later that evening, the president of the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (I still haven't gotten the hang of his name) came on. Once again I didn't pay attention to much of it save for one particular bit. He quoted something from the Adventist's lucky charm, Ellen G. White, from her book on education if I remember right. It said something about science being constrained to being unable to provide anything contrary to the word of God. But what of when it does contradict scripture, as it so obviously and glaringly does? This question is not adressed.

But I have a feeling what the answer would be. The crux of the above arguments is simple: if it does not agree with what we teach, it must be the Devil's work. Never mind all these things the scientists give you as "proof" or "facts" or whatever - they are all at the thrall of Satan. This is something that's been a recurring theme of debates with my Adventist buddies, characterised by appeals to motive and the like. It's not unique to Adventists either, with one series of dinosaur-woo videos terming evolution "Satan's most successful lie".

The implications of this are great. This belief serves as justification for every half-truth, untruth and downright lie the anti-evolution crowd has ever spouted, for if you have decided, without evidence, that something is a lie, then whatever is its opposite is justifiable in your mind as the truth.

There's another reason why opposing evolution regardless of the evidence is such an important thing for Adventists. The Seventh-Day Adventist movement is based upon the pretext that Saturday, the seventh day, is the day of rest decreed by the Lord. It's what sets them apart, makes them special when compared to the rest of the world. This, of course, hinges upon a very literal reading of Genesis, for if God did not create the world in six days, he had no reason to rest on the seventh and hence the Church's entire raison d'etre vanishes in a whiff of smoke(It's even part of their dogma, as espoused in their sixth Fundamental Belief, Creation). This, I believe, is a major weakness in the church's belief system. Reason would have it that if some evidence came up challenging your beliefs, it would be a wiser choice to alter your beliefs to accommodate that evidence, rather than dismissing that evidence offhand. Or even worse, making up all sorts of questionable claims to try to justify your stubborn adherence to disproven beliefs.

A further indictment on the Church's stand is that they really don't need a literal six day creation to continue worshipping as they do. But that's something I'd rather leave them to duke out among themselves.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Random Ramble

New year's resolution time!

  1. I will do at least one productive, non-school related thing every day, be it learning something or adding something to the collective of human knowledge that's out there. I have a lot of stuff that Needs Getting Done, and have been too much of a procrastinator in the past...I really didn't do much worthy of note in 2010. Hope to change that this year, though. Wish me luck!
  2. I will maintain my blog, posting regularly and replying appropriately to any comments.
  3. I will write at least one good piece of fiction of respectable length every week. I have an informal writing competition I wish to enter and have a smashing idea for it that's sure to win it for me, but I just haven't developed it enough. I also have a piece of work that's been a work in progress for over a year now, and I want to get it over and done with within the first quarter.
  4. I will seriously start looking for and securing a place in a good university. Just one year of high school to go!
  5. I will get a girlfriend.
  6. I will kiss her.
  7. I will get my gosh-darned licence. I'm turning 19 this year, for goodness' sake.
  8. I will, overall, work at enriching my experiences, discovering new stuff and also enriching the lives of all those around me with love and knowledge.
  9. And I need that goddamn girlfriend where does one go about getting one?
Cheers all, and have a happy and prosperous 2011

P.S. This blog is has now a part of Planet Atheism!