Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hercolubus or Red Planet

Got my copy in the mail yesterday evening.


It's a short book, and I'm already half way through it. What a lollercoster those chapters I've read have been. I'll post what I think about it when I'm done.

You can request a copy of the book here. It's free, so why not?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Behemoth - No Sympathy For Fools

I feel I must, after last week's secrilege, atone for my sin against Athe. Therefore:

From their album Zos Kia Cultus


FOOLS! I cast you all aside!
Your bullets harm me not
I am heresy, blazing hell
The embodiment ov all you fear
I am all which you can never be
A truth revealing hate machine
No longer will I tolerate
Lies from a kingdom built on dread
Yet what if naught exists above?
No shining glory and no god
You question not, blindly believe
Upon your ignorance I shall feast
Damn higher virtues, divine love
Your wooden idols and your law
Kneel before your god yet do not see
He doth feel you lies

[ From: ]

Blinds you with fear
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
Your hearts I shall tear
With paws ov truth
With slashing jaws I rape
Your feeble womb
No god exists to save you from thy doom

You will never see the light!
Bound to always live by lies!

This is what I listen too when I'm kind of both pissed of and bewildered by the antics of the religious folk surrounding me. The lyrics,


I cast you all aside!

also convey a sense of I am not one of them, which is something I find myself thinking a lot when I'm out with them in public or on their "community outreach" drives.

As some may know,Behemoth is a Blackened Death Metal band that extensively uses Satanic and Thelemic themes in their music, so it isn't quite the paragon of atheisticness either. However, just like with The Devil Wears Prada I can find elements in their music which I can identify with (though I may not exactly wish to perform certain of the acts in the song).

I have found myself gravitating towards heavier music of late, particularly Death Metal and Black Metal acts, many of which, like Dimmu Borgir, Hellhammer and Venom to name but a few, use occult themes. Many, though, have identified themselves a s atheists or simply anti-religionists who use Satanism because of its popularity, its use as a conduit for their anti-religious lyrics or simply for its shock value (which is why most people, myself included, listen to those bands. There is nothing more hilarious than the look on the face of a hitchhiker you've picked up in your car when you start playing Death Metal on the radio while dressed up all black, in a band T-shirt and some skull jewellery. Try it sometime). And I like listening to any music that trashes the highly opressive middle eastern religions that are so popular today (and so does Diego Lecca of Su Nombre en Vano - some time ago, he posted a pagan metal song on Facebook with an awesome cross chopping scene at the end).

So, I'd like to know, what do other atheists think about this? Do you think it's OK to listen to pagan and satanic songs and cite them publicly as representing your own anti- or a-theistic views? Is it OK to listen to any religious music? For those who cannot identify with my metal addiction, I'm sure you are aware of some classical music written with a religious agenda (Handel's Messiah is one of my personal favorites) or may enjoy the odd carol during Christmas. What are your views on this?

I've set up a poll in the right margin of the blog. Please do vote, and comment to tell me your views. I know, though, that the beauty of atheism is that there is no central dogmatic authority that tells others what to do, so whatever you have to say will have no bearing whatsoever on any decision I make (:P). I'd just like to hear your opinion on it, is all.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Devil Wears Prada - HTML Rulez d00d


Oh and yet, I've been cleansed.

And yet I've been cleansed with the water.
A purity no mind can grasp.
A purity so cool upon my fingertips.

The vision that I have seen.
This is the action that spawns from the end.
For the longest time, I've been watching the world breathe again.

What lies here.
What lies here,
Are mountains composed of tombstones, tombstones, tombstones, tombstones.

Examine these beautiful faces, keep singing now, keep singing now.
Examine these beautiful faces, keep singing now.
Examine these beautiful faces. Oh.

Will we push bedlam noise to the state of blissfulness?
Display her beauty to the people, to the people. Oh.

A purity no mind can grasp.
From their album Plagues.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my vice, my drug, my one greatest pitfall. A simple glance at the lyrics above will tell you on what end of the religious spectrum this band lies. Yah.

But how, how can an anti-religious angry young man like myself even countenance something so egregiously jebus crastian and, even worse, actually enjoy it? Fact is, I love metalcore in general and tend to focus more on the musical styles and the feelings evoked by them more than the actual lyrical content. HTML Rulez was really the first metalcore track I listened to and the one that got me hooked. The song was perfect: Mike Hranica's deathly screams counterpointed beautifully with Jeremy dePoyster's almost angelic clean vocals, that "thoom thoom thoom" p;ercussion in the middle and the vicious breakdown at the end just had me in the music's thrall from the very beginning.

The thing I like about TDWP most is how ambiguous most of their lyrics are. You'll get the occassional "Christ is the deduction" and stuff, but generally you'll just get fuzzy, almost deist proclamations like "all glory to the one in existence", "all of love can be traced to a maker" and so on. This is a really good thing as it takes a very small mental flip to turn them into anthems for my favorite sci-fi/fantasy franchise, Warhammer 40,000. In fact, I recently made a mental exercise of matching each of the books in the Gaunt's Ghosts series with a song by TDWP. HTML Rulez d00d got Sabbat Martyr, for example (which I'll be ranting about later).

Another thing is, I can also agree with a lot of their lyrics too. The band's name was meant to be anit-materialistic (as in possessions materialistic) and I kind of concur with that. Also, lyrics like "the concept of fashion(...) painting a portrait of convictionless existence" and "Emeralds hold no hope" are quite profoundly agreeable. All in all, I'll say that good music knows no boundaries, be they political, cultural or religious. Until they start saying stuff like "teach the controversy", "you're going to burn in hell while we're chilling with Jesus" or "god hates faggots/atheists/evilutionists" or whatever is the day I'll stop listening to them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sabbath School 12/03/11 - Satan Takes the Pulpit

Last Friday evening I was blindsided, tricked, coerced, fucking ninja'd into presenting on the next day's Sabbath School. It was Family Life Day and my parents are the directors of the church's family life department, so our family was taking the day. As I said, there was no warning, just an announcement around five-thirty that evening. You would not believe how little I cared for that shit. I just sat there doing nothing, almost swearing that this is where it would go down, this is where the gauntlet would be thrown, the buck would stop, the hammer would fall and I would finally come out and tell them just what I believed, whether they liked it or not. But I ended up reasonig "hell, what will it hurt me to pick up some random book and recite some rote piece of bullcrap at the congregation." The rote piece of bullcrap was from Ellen G. White's The Adventist Home.

I picked "Children in the Home" as my topic, reading from Section XI. It basically codifies the Adventist child rearing philosophy. There is a lot in there I can agree with, including the importance of children helping around the home and things like that, but there is a lot I cannot. There is a very strong emphasis on gender roles, for example, but it is an old book, written when such views were universal. Unfortunately, though, a lot of Adventists (most especially here in Africa) still follow its words as law. The importance of "raising children in the Lord" is also heavily emphasised.

So I ended up doing it, and making it quite convincing, too, adding a few interjections of my own. I have discovered that it's quite easy to lie to a bunch of people whose opinion you don't give a flying donkey's ass about. The crunch came when we were expected to fast on that day, but I had breakfast anyway and managed to sneak in a couple of Bar Ones I stretched to satisfy me the whole afternoon.


P.S. Please check out the entries for the Astronomican Winter Contest! My fiction entry is somewhere in there. I'm not at liberty to reveal which one's mine yet. Try guess which it is!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake & Elenin

News Story

The Elenin nuts are going to give me no end of pain...

Hope the death toll wasn't too high, but what with Japan being the most earthquake ready nation on Earth, I don't think it will.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Godsmack - Bad Religion

From their album Godsmack.


[Preacher:] The word of God says that we will recieve
praise of God. God will begin to speak forth, our
Righteousness is of him, sayith the Lord
[Music Begins]

Get back

Can you feel Im not like you anymore.
I cant see,
I cant breathe.
See you quiver like the dogs on the street,
Looking down on as I beat you.

Oh, its a bad religion,
From a broken nation.
Its a contradiction,
And I cant take it anymore, yeah.

Who's to say I wont like you anyway?
Take a deep breath,
Im alive.
Can you hear me,
Im alive inside you.
Agony creeps up behind you.>

Oh, Its a bad religion (Bad religion)
From a broken nation (A broken nation)
Its a contradiction,
And I cant take it any f***ing way

Its a bad religion (bad religion, bad religion, bad religion)
From a broken nation (Broken nation)
Its a contradiction.

Can you feel it?
I gotta live with it everyday
And I cant take the pressure.
Im goin' insane,
Now go away

Go away

[Preacher:] Now you start praising God where ever you
are. I dont care where you are, I dont care what is
happening, just begin to praise God, just begin to
praise him and praise him and praise him and praise
him and worship him, and bless him... [Trails off]

(courtesy of Lyricsmania)

Too true...

I feel this song typifies my experience as a closet atheist, especially this part:

Can you feel it?
I gotta live with it everyday
And I cant take the pressure.
Im goin' insane,
Now go away

Church every week, my achievements (my fucking blood, sweat and tears! I didn't fucking pray once to pass my exams) being belittled by being attributed to "God", watching my younger brothers being brainwashed and family prayers day after day after fucking day! It really is enough to drive a guy insane! Listening to something that my mind interprets as being about someone sharing my experience certainly helps to bleed some of the pressure off.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's So Funny Indeed - Part 2

Two days ago, I wrote about this article in a blog post titled "What's So Funny Indeed", in which I talked about the importace of evidence. The author of the article chose to close with a statement I feel deserves to be adressed. The statement went thus:

There is a common thread to these stories, it seems to me; and others like them. That thread is that the acknowledgment of the God of heaven is considered so sensible that disbelief, doubt, and infidelity are contrasted as practically comical.

It should therefore not surprise anyone that disbelief is labeled by the psalmist as foolish. What is not funny, however, is that foolishness, almost by definition, is quite misleading; and when we choose to engage in it (as regards disbelief in God)--as is our God-given right--we are misled into ironically believing, of all things, that this is actually a sign of intelligent reasoning.

If it weren’t for the immediate consequences of disobedience and the eternal consequences of disbelief, it would all perhaps be funny.

I get this banality a lot from Christian friends and occassional correspondences on the 'net, typically with a quote of Proverbs 14:12:

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
As I interpret it, I think this argument posits that human reasoning is imperfect, therefore it cannot be used to obtain a clear picture of reality, the supernatural and so on. But, I'll ask, if not rationality, then what? Are we supposed to take it all on faith?

Most Christians, when I ask them say that I am required to take what they say by faith. The argument that we are simply supposed to take the bible's teachings by faith is fraught with much peril, though. It teakes for granted that Christianity is the only religion and that the person to whom it is being made is Christian. Well, Christianity is only one among many religions, and each of them requires the same of its adherents: faith. There is not a single argument in favour of Christianity that does not apply to or has not found use in any of the other religions in the world, particularly the major religions which virtually have armies of people all working towards making their religion more palatable to others.

When I point out the similarity of Christianity with other religions, people tend try to persuade me to return to the religion I was born into. Return to the truth you were raised in, they say. This seems like a very good argument to most, who tend to have no knowledge of any other religion or viewpoint, having been sheltered and nursed exclusively within the faith. These people tend to overlook anther thing: if this argument ought to work with me, won't it work for and similarly apply to members of other religions? How, then, if we are to remain with the belief we were raised in, do they expect to woo others to their own religion? Once again, this is an argument that, if valid, applies equally to all religions.

Our reason may not be perfect, but in the face of all these conflicting religions spouting the same claims it's the best thing we've got. I see no real worth in this argument, save perhaps as something the faithful tell each other to comfort themselves.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's So Funny Indeed

Just read this blog article on the Adventist Today site, home of a "progressive Adventist" publication, talking about some funny stuff in the Bible. The author states that his favorite "funny" Bible stories is the story of Job. I quite agree with him. The story of Job is quite hilarious:

And we agree on which part's the funniest:

After questioning God's decisions, Job is asked by God where he was while God conducted His Creative activities. It was as if God was saying, "You've got a lot of nerve, young man, questioning my wisdom and sovereignty. Do you know who you're talking to? But, tell you what...I'll answer your questions, if you will answer mine." You gotta love a God like that, don't you?

He kills Job's kids, destroys his possessions and gives him herpes all over and still has the fortitude to waggle his finger at Job. Yeah, really great guy, this God dude.

But there's another point to be had here:

Another favorite of course would have to be the story of Elijah actually taunting and teasing the prophets of Baal and their god(s). This taunting was hilarious; remember... "maybe your god is sleeping"? How funny is that?! Elijah was totally confident that the prophets of Baal were praying to... absolutely nobody, and that he, on the other hand, was praying to the true and living God--who would reward his cockiness, no less. I mean, he wanted water everywhere. He was actually "showing off" (as my mother would say); and then God Himself showed off, rewarding Elijah's faith while simultaneously shaming the heathens. What a sense of humor!

So in this story, Elijah was an atheist - an a-baal-ist - and challenged the prophets of Baal with providing evidence for the presence of their god. So, if this fellow asked for evidence from the prophets of Baal, is it unreasonable for us atheists who do not believe not only in Baal but all other gods, Yahweh/Jehovah included, to ask for evidence of them?

It's also a valid question to wonder why Yahweh used to perform such signs and wonders as this but no longer does. Thousands of miracles are written about in the bible and each is depicted as flamboyant and unambiguously a supernatural act. Why is it that such displays no longer occur? Why is it that the "miracles" of today are either unverifiable or can just as easily (and more credibly) be explained as placebo effects or natural occurrences that are not well understood, or even simply as chance occurrences that when viewed through the blinkers of faith seem miraculous?

The gauntlet has been thrown down on many occasions, not least of which is James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge, which covers any supernatural occurrence. No one has yet produced conclusive proof and successfully claimed the prize. Whenever people place their health "in the hands of God", it tends to end badly and most Christians submit themselves to proper medical treatment. Is this a sign that they are not fully convinced of their god's healing powers?

We could organise a challenge like this. We could have, maybe, two cancer patients in the early stages of illness, one receiving medical treatment and the other the fervent prayers of his family, friends, church community, hell, even the whole world and see who gets better. But such a challenge would be unethical in much the same way as those who deny their children medical treatment behave unethically. And their track record is evidence enough to dispel any supernatural notions.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Enter Shikari - Mothership

EPIC song... and yes, my nickname is based on their band name.

EDIT: It's just occurred to me that it may be a good idea to stick the song's lyrics in. It goes like so:

Go tell all your friends that this is the end
Go tell all your friends that this is the end
Go tell all your friends that this is the end
This is the end

I don't understand a word you're saying
what are the crowds running from?
There's something in the air tonight
Something is wrong, spit it out!

I just fell from the Mothership
They said that
Your answers, were always lying on the ocean bed
Your answers, were always lying on the ocean bed

There's something in the air
There's something in the air
In the air, in the air
Tonight, I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake
In the air, in the air
Tonight, I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake

And I'll plead with a thousand voices...
I am sane
I am sane
My soul felt so safe up there
No self-centred natives destroying our earth

I just fell from the Mothership
They said that
Your answers, were always lying on the ocean bed
Your answers (your answers, your answers) were always lying on the ocean bed

Walk the plank, walk the plank, walk the plank
Walk the plank, walk the plank, walk the plank
Walk the plank
Your answers were always lying on the ocean bed
Your answers were always lying on the ocean bed
Your answers were always lying on the ocean bed
Your answers were always lying on the ocean bed

(Courtesy of Sing365)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sabbath School 26/02/11 - It's the Devil's Work Part II

I know, I'm posting this a little late, but I had to make some finishing touches on my entry to the fiction competition I'm participating in before the deadline, then when I got round to writing this I had to keep pausing to play some death metal in order to bleed off some of the rage caused by watching the videos I talk about here. This last blessed Sabbath's lesson was one I simply could not pass up the opportunity to comment on. The title was "Self Esteem", and the lesson touched briefly on the issue of origins. Frankly, I wasn't much surprised by the treatment the issue was given, but thought it worthy of mention.

The lesson itself presents the usual strawman of evolution we see from religious sources, using such charming terms as "pure chance", "cosmic accident" and "we just happened to come into existence". Note that it does not even attempt to adress any questions of evidence: all the counterarguments are emoti0nal, mostly focussed on how we eviutionists live purposeless lives and that believing the magic man blew on a pile of mud to make us gives us soooo much more self esteem. The series of lessons is centered on emotions anyway, so I won't hold that against them. It's the validity of the arguments that I have a problem with. (I'll address that later)

The exegeses of the lesson given on the Church's two main media conduits was, however, nothing short of delirious. There are two main programs that go over the lesson every week, one on each of the two major Adventist satellite channels, 3ABN and the Hope Channel, called Amazing Facts Central Study Hour and Hope Sabbath School respectively. I'll start with Central Study Hour.

Origins is addressed only on one day - sunday - one seventh of the total lesson. When Doug Bachelor attacked it, it ended up becoming a rant that took up almost half the lesson time (From the 16:38 mark to38.30). And damn me to the void if there's anyone more adept at building a strawman than Pastor Doug. He began by giving a beautiful, flowery picture of what life as a creation of God is like, so much so that I almost found myself wishing I was one of them (no, I lie. But it sure must have worked on the faithful). Then he proceeded to build up his combustible, very well ventilated man of straw, douse it in petrol and set it alight.

I'm really not swayed by the extreme contrast presented by Pastor Doug. In fact, I can give an even better one supporting and evolutionary perspectie. Here goes:

"One paradigm says that you are the product of an epic and grand story stretching back billions of years and are intricately connected to your surroundings and the universe as a whole. You know, someone asked me, "are we really products of the Universe?" And I said hell yes! He said, "How do you know," and I said we are made of exactly the same elements as the rest of the universe and in the exact same proportions. I think that's rock solid proof. Our body chemistry isn't based on, say bismuth. We're exactly the same, and we share this similarity with all the life forms we know here on Earth. Look at that paradigm, that would give us a sense of wonder and humility and an almost spiritual connection with all that exists. (see )

"Compare that with the other paradigm that says that some invisible magic man made us from dirt and that our first ancestors damned both themselves and all their descendants to a life of misery and death by eating a fruit given to them by a talking snake. It says that we are all sinners from birth and our lives have no purpose but to atone and suffer for that sin, and when you die, depending on if you accepted this far fetched (and I'm being nice here), unverifiable story you will either spend eternity glorifying and praising the magic man who put you in that situation, or if you didn't you will be cast into a lake of burning sulphur to die a horribly painful and final death (the Adventist doctrine on hell)."

There's more to be said about emotional arguments against naturalism and evolution, and I shall adress it later. Pastor Doug then went on to state that belief in evolution correlates with suicide, stating that the high suicide rates observed in adolescents is due to questions regarding origins. I don't think that's entirely correct. It's true, higher suicide rates are observed among those without religious affiliation, but I doubt very much that it's because of evolution. I'm more for the theory that higher suicide and depression rates are the result of a lack of a social support group as is present in religious congregations (pretty much the only thing we secularists need to learn from them). A whole hunch of arguments not really worth rehashing followed, including his own personal story, the argument from design, conflating Nazism and eugenics with evolution, invoking a scientific conspiracy (*facepalm*) and a modified argument from morality (if we are animals, we should act like animals).

There are a couple of other points I do find worth mentioning, though. One is Pastor Doug's assertion that a lot of smart people can be wrong about something. They once were, a few centuries ago, when they worked exclusively from a divine assumption. When they realised that the facts did not support their assumptions they changed their tactics, finding facts to draw assumptions from, instead of trying to find facts to fit with their conclusions. For example, the Old Earth theory was formulated by religious geologists who originally had the intention of finding evidence for a recent, global flood. When they did not fnd that evidence they changed their conclusions to ones that were supported by the facts. (reference)

The second point I found highly ironic. I don't remember the point he was making (and I'm too lazy to hunt for it in the video), but he said something about how prisoners who are so used to a life of crime often relapse after they have been released. I found this to be quite synonymous wiith what happens all too often with religion. A person has taken their first tentative steps towards freedom from religion, but because they are so used to religious life, be it because of vigorous indoctrination and brainwashing, sudden loss of the social framework or simple fondness of tradition they end up falling back into the pit they were trying to crawl out of.

( - the Hope Sabbath School video)

Next, I'll talk about Hope Sabbath School. Not much was covered here that wasn't already spoken about in CSH - social Darwinism, lack of accountability etc, plus a few Creo favorites: a perversion of my previous point about presuppositions i.e. that evolution works upon the presupposition that there is no God, that evolution requires faith to believe and that we cannot create life from non-life/we do not observe this happening today therefore it cannot have happened in the past.

But Derek Morris (who is such a great singer) and his audience didn't dilly around, virtually stating right out that they would ignore evidence for evolution in favor of what the bible says. Morris gave an anectote about a buddy of his who said something to the tune of, "I have some unanswered questions but I choose to believe what the bible says." That wasn't all, though. He went on to say that if God gave us all the answers we wouldn't understand them, and that Jesus will tell us all about it when he comes. This perpetuation of ignorance is why religion still survives. First of all, I will say that evolution does not rely on faith but on evidence, like any other science. There will always be uncertainties, but they are not simply left as is but actively researched into and ironed out. That's how science in general works, and if you are going to reject evolution, you might as well reject the rest of it as well. Second, I want to ask, if we must simply accept things on faith without giving mind to evidence, what's to stop me from going to any of the other religions that exist? What's to stop me from simply adopting a pantheistic religiosity that gives equal credence to all religions? According to all indicators, Christianity is simply another religion thought up and written by men and with the same shortcomings as all other religions. Therefore, I say there must be some more objective way of determining these things, and empiricism is that way.

Then came the actual Sabbath School on Saturday morning. In contrast to the "pros" the section was given just the time it deserves, but the reactions were no less extreme, if a little less informed. I heard such genius gems as: "God spoke. Monkeys don't speak. Therefore we did not come from monkeys", "have you ever seen a monkey loving another like itself?" (this question could be answered "yes", though I can't find any links supporting it), "my bible is my professor", "who has been redeemed by a monkey/ a scholar?", "If evolution is continuous, why have we stopped evolving?" and so on ad infinitum. Then came the very crux of the whole anti-evolution movement. The teacher simply didn't hold back, stating out-and-out that "Darwin was a servant of the Devil!".

Overall, this lesson was handled in a manner typical of that always used by Adventists: make emotional arguments backed by the bible or prophesy and ignore all evidence. Of course, they do have their creation "science" disinfo programs, like the Celebration of Creation series on the Hope channel, and I've caught a number of documentaries on 3ABN spouting the "Australopithecus was fully ape" claim and they also sometimes play Robert Gentry's long debunked videos. In reality, they are really vanity affairs simply affirming what the Big Guns say - it is the main church body itself that has the last word. When you see pastors telling biology professors how to do their job, you know they've strayed from fact and truth.

As I have stated before, emotional arguments hold no water in the light of evidence. The gist of this whole lesson was "creationism makes me feel good, therefore I will believe in it". Well, geocentricism may have felt good in the 16th century, but that still did not make it correct. Evolution is a matter of science and says nothing about self worth, self esteem and stuff like that. You may take what you like from it, but don't say it forced it on you. I don't think these fellows realise that as much as they deny the fact that we each make our own purpose in life, they are themselves making their own purpose by accepting their religion. One would think that if Christianity was the one true religion and Christian creationism the one true doctrine, then members of other religions would be suffering the same "insecurities" and "low self esteem" we atheistic evilutionists do. But they don't (and we don't), therefore it is easy to deduce that all religons have the same merits. Once again, it boils down to a social support structure.

As my earlier monologue demonstrated, it's all a matter of perspective. But I will still say that if there is any self esteem destroying belief system, it is Christianity. One of its core tenets is that we are all dirty, worthless sinners because of the actions of a distant ancestor we've never met and all deserve to suffer and die. And boy am I glad I stopped believing in that a long time ago.


This post from Pharyngula very aptly describes my experience regarding Adventists and Evolution. All baseless assertions and no science.