Truth and evidence

This is a response to this post by a Christian blogger in Singapore:

The word ‘truth’ in its essence, is already an absolute. But because we live in a post-modern world, we are obliged to asseverate the words ‘absolute truth’; not to prove that we are desperate in being over-emphatic, but to prove that today’s world has murdered truth in its essence.

What is truth? I define truth as follows, “Truth is an objective reality that is transcendent over man’s subjectivity and bias.”

No major disagreement here. Simply defined, truth is the state of objective reality.

So let's get to the meat of the post.

What about the myriads of conflicting ‘truths’ out in the world today? It seems that truth has been reduced to mere subjective perceptions. The problem, however, lies not in truth, but in what our standard of truth is. Our standard of truth forms our perception of reality;

I think I understand what you are trying to say here.

Truth has not been reduced to mere subjective perceptions. Rather, what people believe to be the truth is necessarily informed by their perception. What a person perceive to be true is dependent on their criterion of truth. In religion, different religions effectively indoctrinate their adherents with their criterion of truth -- faith, revelation and scripture are often amongst them.

to an Evolutionist science is the standard of the truth of man’s existence, however to a Christian, the Bible is the standard of truth in which God is the truth of man’s existence. Two perceptions, but there can only be one reality. Therefore to know if our perception of reality is true, we have to examine if our standard is the actual, objective, transcendental and indisputable truth.

Once again, there seems to be a grave misunderstanding. To "an evolutionist" (this label is frankly as stupid as "a newtonian" or "a germist"), science itself is NOT the standard of truth. 

The term "evolutionist" here seems to be referring to people who accept the scientific method and its findings. These people, scientists, lay people and everyone in between, accept that evidence is an important, if not the most critical, criterion of truth. Science is a method that fulfills that criterion. As such, it would seem that an "evolutionist" is using science as a standard -- but no, we're just going where the evidence leads.

Now on to the idea of using the Bible as the standard of truth. To me, or any evidence-based truth seekers, that's a huge unjustified leap. To even begin using the Bible as a standard, any sane person must first justify with evidence why that should be the case. Without evidence, any book would be as reasonable as any other to use -- ie, not reasonable at all.

And the historical and archeological evidence indicate that the bible is: a translation of several books written by different authors, who are believed to be divinely inspired, decades after the events which they purport to describe by non-eyewitnesses whose stories were transmitted by hearsay in the intervening decades. Some books were anonymous and had their authors ascribed to them by the Church based on belief/conviction, and there are variants of these books from different time periods displaying textual changes both due to error and deliberate action indicating forgery. These books also contain both internal contradictions and contradictions with known historical and scientific facts.

I'll chuck the whole compilation instead of using it as a standard for anything at all.

It's not science versus the bible. It's just evidence -- the most critical tool of verification. What better way to find truth than with pieces of reality itself, evidence.

Consider this example. On one side, there are people who deny immortality and claim that when we die we just cease to exist. At the other camp, people are declaring that we will spend eternity in hell unless we believe in Christ Jesus.

Again, we, scientifically minded people, are not necessarily asserting a case like religions do. We are merely concluding based on the evidence we have.

Every piece of evidence we have gathered about the mind and the brain indicate that the mind cannot exist without a living brain.

By the way, we don't deny immortality -- we just don't believe in your kind of supernatural immortality. Biological immortality may be a possibility within the decades to come.

Two perceptions, but there can only be one reality. Therefore I urge you, to thoroughly examine your standard of truth because if not, you might one day find yourself in deep trouble for being so obstinate.

I've done that.

And excuse me, is that an allusion to hell?

Atheism is NOT a religion

The following is a point by point response to the blog article, Has Atheism Become a Religion? by David Lose on The Huffington Post.

Has Atheism Become a Religion?

Before you dismiss the question out of hand, consider these four inter-related bits of evidence:

Actually, I don't have to dismiss this "out of hand". I'll say, right there, you have already gotten it wrong by definition. But let's hear what else you have to say.

1) As recently reported in the New York Times, military personnel who identify themselves as "Atheists" have requested chaplains to tend to their spiritual needs. As the Times article notes, "Defense Department statistics show that about 9,400 of the nation's 1.4 million active-duty military personnel identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, making them a larger subpopulation than Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists in the military." Having their own chaplains, the article explains, would give Atheists a sense of legitimacy and help validate their own system of values and beliefs.

This bullshit is easy to spot since he actually provides the link to the report he cites. Here's a telling paragraph from the report:

“Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Mr. Torpy said in an interview. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”

If you can't tell the distinction between atheism, Secular Humanism and religion, perhaps you could, I don't know, try looking up Wikipedia at least?

Atheism is simply the lack of the belief in god(s).

Secular Humanism is,

According to Wikipedia,
Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism (often with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism), is a secular philosophy that espouses human reason, ethics, and justice, and the search for human fulfillment. It specifically rejects religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.

Secular Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that focuses on the way human beings can lead happy and functional lives. Though it posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or God, it neither assumes humans to be inherently or innately good, nor presents humans as "above nature" or superior to it. Rather, the Humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of Secular Humanism is the strongly held belief that ideology — be it religious or political — must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this belief, an essential part of Secular Humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy.

While Secular Humanism is recognized functionally as a religion in the eyes of the law, I'd argue that it is not a religion in general. It specifically rejects faith and dogma. There is no claim about afterlife, deities or any supernatural entities. It's not religion, just a philosophy -- unless of course you wish to muddy the discussion by castrating the word "religion".

Even if most atheists are Secular Humanists, it doesn't make atheism a religion. Ever.

2) The U.S. Government reports that in 2008 those identifying themselves specifically as "Atheist" composed the 18th largest group of 43 possible categories of "self-described religious identification." The number of persons so identifying themselves almost doubled from seven years earlier. Admittedly, "Atheist" is one of the options listed under "no religion specified," but given that other options for respondents included checking "Agnostic" or "No Religion" or not answering the question at all, it appears that identifying oneself specifically as an Atheist, as opposed to simply "not religious," is growing in appeal....

 It's called accuracy. And accuracy counts.

Non-religious is a vague group because it encompasses both theists who are not in an organized religion and nontheists. The label, atheist, solves this problem and accurately represents our position on the question of god and religion.

... This points to the utility of a distinction made by Jonathan Lanman between "non-theists," those with no particular religious belief, and "strong atheists," those who view religion not only as irrelevant but as misguided and dangerous.

Well then, he's fucked too, feeding you misleading information.

Firstly, the term "strong atheist" refers to a subset of atheists who positively claim that there are no gods. In general, this is a minority and does not represent all atheists.

Secondly, the term "non-theists" includes ALL atheists.

Lastly, people who think that religion is misguided and dangerous are called "anti-religionists". And this category is entirely separate from the theism-atheism distinction. One can be either a theist or atheist and be against religions.

And yes, some atheists are anti-religious but please get your facts straight. This second "bit of evidence" does nothing for his case.

3) Similarly, it's worth noting the degree to which Atheists routinely, strategically, and often vociferously position what is often described as their "secular-humanist" views against religious traditions. Read or listen to any of the celebrity Atheists of the past decade like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris and you realize that they fashion many of their arguments not against some alternative economic, political, or philosophical position but against organized religion. Religious faith is clearly their primary opponent in the contest for the intellectual allegiance of the population, which makes it hard not to conclude that they offer their views and beliefs as a viable alternative to traditional religious systems.

Well, you got part of it right but the conclusion you seem to be drawing is all fucking wrong.

We are offering an alternative to religion: it's having NO religion. We are not selling you another religion; we're asking you to give it up. We're asking you to give up religious dogma for freethinking. We're asking you to give up religious supernatural nonsense for demonstrable reality. Again, unless you're trying to castrate the word "religion", you make no sense offering this "bit of evidence" for your case.

4) Finally -- and you probably knew this was coming -- consider all the comments made by self-identified Atheists on articles published in the Religion section of the Huffington Post. Seriously. Either Atheists have way more time on their hands than the rest of the population or they've got something to prove. This assertive, us-against-them tone (in this case, against established religion) is characteristic of new religions. (Think of the Christian gospels', especially Matthew and John, stance toward first-century Judaism, for example.) As Rabbi David Wolpe observed a few months ago, there is an astonishing garrulousness to the comments made by Atheists to posts about religion that suggest not simply a lack of interest in, or even disdain for, religion but a competitive anger directed against persons of traditional religious faith. (Obviously plenty of religious folk radiate the same garrulousness, but this post is about Atheists.)

What the fuck? Because we're aggressive against religion, we're a new religion? Bite me.

So the abolitionist were advocating a new form of slavery? And animal-rights activists are advocating a new form of animal abuse? People are against pedophiles because they want to engage in pedophilia too? Wow, the logic is impeccable! [/sarcasm]

Taken together, these four elements suggest that Atheists regularly demonstrate attributes -- desire for spiritual sustenance, the importance of self-identification, offering their worldview as an alternative to other religious systems, and an assertive if not competitive style of engagement with other religious points of view -- usually exhibited by religious folk of all persuasions.

While Atheism as a movement doesn't have the formal structure, celebrations, or creedal dogmas of organized religions, we might at least identify Atheism as it exists today as an increasingly vibrant faith tradition. Still, when speaking of Atheists, why use the f-word (for "faith," silly) rather than speak of a worldview or personal philosophy? Three reasons suggest themselves.

I've already pointed out why the four "bits of evidence" are bullcrap so let's not reiterate here.

But screw me, he's actually going to throw the old "you have faith like us" argument again.

1) It conveys that both a conventional religious worldview and atheistic worldview require a measure of faith. I don't mean this simply about the rather limited question of whether God exists, but rather about whether the material, physical dimension of life immediately apparent to our senses is all there is. The question can't be reduced, as Atheists regularly have, to observing that there are many beliefs -- in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus as well as God -- that can't be proved and must be taken on faith, but rather to ask whether there is a dimension of existence that supersedes or eludes our physical senses. Ultimately, any speech about God implies such a dimension that conversation about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus do not.

We don't have faith the same way religious people do. In fact, we reject faith because we think that it is an invalid path to truth.

Let's take a look at the dictionary:

faith  (feɪθ) — n
1.     strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence
2.     a specific system of religious beliefs: the Jewish faith
3.     Christianity  trust in God and in his actions and promises
4.     a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason
5.     complete confidence or trust in a person, remedy, etc
6.     any set of firmly held principles or beliefs
7.     allegiance or loyalty, as to a person or cause

Atheists, those who reach their atheism via skepticism, reject faith according to definitions 1 and 4. Definitions 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 don't apply to atheism (a single belief or position).

So what faith do we have again? We do not have faith -- we deliberately excised it because it is the surest way to keep you away from the truth.

2) Religious faith -- and I'd argue atheistic faith -- doesn't begin and end with the question of God or a spiritual dimension to life. One needs also to construct an interpretation of life (describing its purpose, goal, worth) and set of values by which to live that life. Ethics and values are not self-evident from religious creeds -- witness, for instance, the distinct values of the varieties of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam that run the gamut from liberal to fundamentalist. Similarly, there is no self-evident value system shared by Atheists and projecting such a system requires imagination, critical reflection and, yes, faith.

Again, see previous. Critical reflection and imagination should be quite sufficient.

Third, characterizing both organized religion and emergent Atheism as distinct faith traditions invites a measure of mutual regard and even respect that is sorely lacking in present discourse. Professing belief in God, as well as rejecting such belief, each requires equal measures of imagination and nerve. As it turns out, doubt is not the opposite of faith; certainty is. For this reason, we can hold out the hope that religious and non-religious believers alike may recognize in each other similar acts of courage and together reject the cowardice of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular. Being able to disagree respectfully is a small but significant step that believers and non-believers could take as they, together, contemplate admiring, understanding, and preserving this wondrous world we share.

No, neither certainty nor doubt is the opposite of faith -- Reason is; something that we embrace and the religious ignore or even despise.

 All in all, this article is just full of misunderstandings of what atheists are.

Clash of Church and State in the Philippines

Once again, the sex obsessed Catholic Church is rearing its ugly head, this time in the Philippines over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

The Independent reports in its news article, Church and State clash over sex and condoms in the Philippines:

A 13-year battle between church and state in the Philippines, one of the world's most devoutly Catholic nations, has come to a head over government plans to provide free condoms and sex education. Catholic bishops have threatened to excommunicate President Benigno Aquino over a reproductive health bill introduced into the Congress yesterday.


The aim of the bill is to control population growth, reduce HIV infection rates and eradicate the need for women to seek backstreet abortions. Mr Aquino, who is determined to see it become law, is prepared to be banished from the church, if necessary. "I have been taught in school, which was a Catholic institution, that the final arbiter really is our conscience," he said yesterday.

But the church, which has enormous clout in the Philippines, is not about to give way. Since 1998, it has quashed several previous versions of the bill. "Sex is not a game that should be taught to children, along with the use of condoms, supposedly to avoid disease," the Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Rosales, told an anti-contraception rally in the capital two months ago.

I appreciate the president of the Philippines for, effectively, holding the wall between Church and State. While I am not a Filipino, it is nice to see politicians do the right thing despite opposition from religious lobbies instead of succumbing to them.

But as usual, there are always some politicians happy to smear their religious beliefs all over their politics.

As well as the powerful church, Mr Aquino is opposed by one of the most popular figures in the Philippines, the world champion boxer turned congressman Manny Pacquiao.

Mr Pacquiao said this week that he would never have been born, or become a champion, if his parents had used contraception. "God said go forth and multiply," he declared. "He did not say just go and have one or two children."

What a vacuous statement. If your parents were doing ANYTHING other than fucking at that moment when they did have sex to produce you, you wouldn't exist. So? What's your point?

And may I ask why anyone is obliged to care what you believe your god said in an ancient book of inconclusive authorship? Thankfully, there is still sane people in their government to put this nutter in place. According to ABS-CBN news,

She (Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago) also criticized his use of the biblical quote, "Go forth and multiply."

"The Bible does not say, 'Go out to the world.' It sounds very much like God is encouraging us to go out and copulate in public. God said in the Bible, "Go forth and multiply." That meant that God wanted man, not necessarily to literally multiply, but to go out to work with the rest of the human beings of this planet and to apply the stewardship theory. Meaning to say, taking care of each other, who are all in the planet living together.

"I would like to say if this is going to be a debate of biblical quotes, then I will counter with a quote: 'The devil can cite scripture for its purposes,'" she said.

She also called on Pacquiao not to read and interpret the Bible to literally, pointing out that the Bible was not even written by God himself.

"It is very dangerous to be a fundamentalist. Apparently that's what Pacquiao is. He reads the Bible literally. The Bible was not written by God ... Nobody has a monopoly of the thoughts of God," she told Senate reporters.

Nice. More public figures should state that publicly, thank you -- 'cause it seems like nobody bloody knows that. She also said,

She also said the separation of church and state should be maintained.

"Because the principle of church and state, while we respect the freedom of speech of people of every persuasion across religious boundaries, still we have to stand up for the principle in democratic governance that the church cannot dictate to the state. So the State must always argue in favor of free speech and free conscience, that is why I call this a freedom of conscience issue," she added.

Here's another politician with his head screwed on right --  voicing the core reason for defending the separation of Church and State here as reported by Sun.Star Davao newspaper:

Duterte said the Catholics who believe in the stand of the Church and the warnings of the priests can do so, however, he said the Philippines cannot be ruled by the Roman Catholic Church.

"Iba-iba naman ang relihiyon. As I said, within this country, there are people who believe in God, and there are those who do not believe in God," Duterte explained.

The Church cannot speak on behalf of everyone, he added.

I'm not going to comment much about the Church's stance here -- it suffice to say that the Church's morals are "biblical", as in centuries behind on moral progress.

After the Rapture

Gotta love TheThinkingAtheist for his latest video.

Confusing Abiogenesis and Evolution

Coming from a creationist's perspective, religious folk advocating some form of creationism always seems to fail to the grasp the distinction between the field of abiogenesis and the theory of evolution. Deliberately or not, they frequently conflate the two, claiming a "flaw" in abiogenesis therefore constitutes a flaw in the theory of evolution.

Even Wikipedia states different definitions for abiogenesis and evolution:

In natural science, abiogenesis (pronounced /ˌeɪbaɪ.ɵˈdʒɛnɨsɪs/ ay-by-oh-jen-ə-siss) or biopoesis is the study of how biological life arises from inorganic matter through natural processes, and the method by which life on Earth arose.

Evolution (also known as biological or organic evolution) is the change over time in one or more inherited traits found in populations of organisms. Inherited traits are particular distinguishing characteristics, including anatomical, biochemical or behavioural characteristics, that are passed on from one generation to the next. Evolution may occur when there is variation of inherited traits within a population. The major sources of such variation are mutation, genetic recombination and gene flow. Evolution has led to the diversification of all living organisms from a common ancestor, which are described by Charles Darwin as "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful".

Notice the distinction, please. Abiogenesis is the field of study of how life arose. Evolution is the theory which explains how life diversified. Even if I grant that we have no clue whatsoever as to how life arose, we know that once it did, it most surely diversified by the mechanisms proposed by the theory of evolution.

I'll be referring to this post made by a Christian in Singapore.

Right of the bat, the post would be more accurately describing its content if it were titled "The irrationality of Abiogenesis".

Probably the greatest difficulty of all for evolutionary theory is explaining how any life could have begun in the first place.

The theory of evolution is not supposed to explain how life begun. It describes how life diversified. Even if you want to shoehorn god into the picture as the creator of the first cell, that cell would be the ancestor of all life on Earth and evolved by mechanisms described by the theory of evolution. We know life evolved as surely as we know that the Earth orbits the Sun.

The spontaneous generation of even the simplest living organism capable of independent life (the prokaryote bacterial cell) from inorganic materials on the earth could not happen by random mixing of chemicals: it requires intelligent design and craftsmanship so complex that no advanced scientific laboratory in the world has been able to do it

The simplest living organism today is certainly more complex than the simplest living organism when life first started. This argument from complexity fails right there. Scientists studying abiogenesis are not proposing that the first cell is as complex as the simplest modern cell.

Also, this strange ultimatum between spontaneous generation of complex cells and intelligent design is a false dichotomy. Scientists are not proposing that the complexity of life as we know it today arose purely by chance. You get this monstrous error by conflating abiogenesis and evolution.

A living organism emerged by chance from a pre-biotic soup is about as likely as that ‘a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.’ Chance assembly is just a naturalistic way of saying ‘miracle’.

Again, this results from a confusion of abiogenesis and evolution. No scientists is proposing that a cell displaying the modern complexities appeared by chance. That would be just as nonsensical to you as to the scientists.

For example, check out the RNA World Hypothesis for what scientist mean by the first "cell".

In fact, some attempts have been made to calculate the probability of life arising spontaneously in his way. Kofahl and Segraves, authors of “The Creation Explanation”, give a statistical model in which they begin with a very generous assumption: that every square foot of the earth’s surface was somehow covered with 95 pounds of protein every year for one billion years. They then estimate the probability that even one enzyme molecule could develop in each one billion years of the earth’s history. The probability is 1.2 times 10-11 or one chance in 80 billion. They note, however, that even with the generous assumptions and starting with fresh protein every year for a billion years, finding one enzyme molecule—for all practical purposes an impossible task—would not solve the problem at all.

The probability of finding two of the active molecules would be about 1022, and the probability that they would be identical would be 1070. And could life start with just a single enzyme molecule? Furthermore, what is the possibility that an active enzyme molecule, once formed, could find its way through thousands of miles and millions of years to that randomly formed RNA or DNA molecule which contains the code for that particular enzyme molecule’s amino acid sequence, so that new copies of itself could be produced? Zero for all practical purposes.

Kofahl and Segraves report a study by an evolutionary scientist who formulates a model to calculate the probability for the formation, not just of one enzyme molecule but the smallest likely living organism by random processes. He comes up with a probability of one chance in 10340,000,000—that is, one chance in 10 with 340 million zeros after it! Yet these evolutionary scientists still believed it happened!

The rest of the article is basically an attempt to awe audiences with numbers. And it's redundant - I'll explain.

But first, get this straight first. We're going to be talking about Abiogenesis - nothing to do with the theory of evolution. Unlike Abiogenesis where scientists are only proposing hypotheses, the Theory of Evolution is firmly established with mountains of evidence and has the consensus of the scientific community.

Here's the thing: Abiogenesis may have been a rare chance event. So throwing really low probabilities (even if the numbers are accurate) at abiogenesis is really redundant - we already know that.

What is important here is the claim that creationists are making: Too rare therefore God did it. But "God did it" is not an explanation at all - it has no explanatory function.

The field of abiogenesis at the very least demonstrates that it is possible for life to have occurred by natural means. The various hypotheses represent the ways by which life might have arose though we do not know definitively which path it took yet.

Postulating a god is not only unscientific, it is redundant. It is also a huge argument from ignorance. What, you scientists don't know how life arose? Ahha! Obviously God did it!

If your creationist argument take the form of "Too rare/complex, therefore God", it's a fallacious argument to begin with - still just an argument from ignorance.

Not knowing how life arose is not argument for god.

I recommend checking out TalkOrigins: Index to Creationist Claims for creationists (or any lay person) who don't understand what evolution is and is not.

Secularism, what is that really?

Okay, let me put it upfront that the article I'll be referring to is old news, really old news, like 2009 old news. Unfortunately, the nonsense in the article is not unnecessarily old. It does seem that Christians in Singapore are importing American Evangelical nonsense. I will use this opportunity to clarify what secularism is and is not.

There seems to be few sources that have the interview of Thio Li-Ann archived. So I'll be using this one archived by AWARE. It should be sufficient for my purposes since I'm not going to be deconstructing the whole interview. If you want that, then I would recommend this other blog's post - it's quite well done I think.

Historically, ‘secularism’ originates from the Latin ‘saeculum’, meaning ‘temporal’, worldly affairs, rather than ‘spiritual’, other-worldly matters. The word ‘secular’ is an emblem of intense historical conflict.

Today, in some circles, ‘secularism’ connotes systematic hostility towards religion, as a synonym for a politicised form of ideological atheism whose creed is that humanity is destined to wholly shed religious conviction. The atheistic word was made flesh in the atheistic state produced by the Russian Revolution of 1917, devoted to Marx’s assumption that religion stupefies the masses and must be eradicated to bring forth the new Communist Man.


In 1989, Foreign Minister George Yeo observed the Government was ‘secular but it is certainly not atheistic’. This evinces a rejection of a thick, atheistic version of secularism.

Here is a truncated quote from the interview. Notice the attempt to confuse and conflate atheism and secularism?

Guess what? Secularism and atheism are two completely different things. This attempt to confuse the issue is a dishonest ploy to evoke feelings of opposition to secularism from religious folks.

For the record, if the state/government endorses atheism or antitheism, it is by definition, NOT secular. As such, there is NO such thing as an "atheistic version of secularism". Secularity of the government only means that the government just remain neutral in matters pertaining to the religious beliefs of its citizens.

Secular humanism, which posits a morality independent of God, is a comprehensive anti-theistic world view. Some courts recognise it as a religion. It dogmatically asserts the absence of God, without any empirical evidence. We know from elementary logic that it is impossible to prove a universal negative. Whether God exists or not cannot be proved or disproved by evidence or logic.

It takes faith to believe or not to believe in God or gods. A lot of faith is needed to believe there is no divine. As Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol wrote: ‘It is the atheist’s opium to regard that unsubstantiated faith as established fact.’ Thick secularism is thus an anti-religion religion.

Again, an attempt to conflate secularism with atheism, this time, as well as Secular Humanism.

It's important to go through this point by point to clarify the confusion about Secular Humanism.

Secular humanism, which posits a morality independent of God, is a comprehensive anti-theistic world view.

Secular Humanism is atheistic in nature though not necessarily antitheistic.

Here is the Minimum Statement on Humanism:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Secular Humanists themselves may be antitheistic but it is not a dogmatic requirement of the stance. In fact, Secular Humanism rejects dogmas.

Some courts recognise it as a religion.

The recognition of Secular Humanism as a "religion" is for functional reasons in the eyes of the law.

It dogmatically asserts the absence of God, without any empirical evidence.

No, it doesn't. That has it ass backwards.

Precisely because there is no empirical evidence FOR the existence of god(s), Secular Humanists do not believe there is/are god(s). The distinction between "do not believe in the existence of god" and "believe there are no gods" is subtle but still important! We simply do not pretend there is one (or more gods) - instead we believe only we, humans, can help ourselves (hence the humanist aspect).

We know from elementary logic that it is impossible to prove a universal negative. Whether God exists or not cannot be proved or disproved by evidence or logic.

Gee, except that's not what we're claiming - we haven't disproved god nor can we.

While we can't prove (in correct usage of the word) the existence of god(s), we should be able to demonstrate IF he/she/it exist. But we haven't; Still waiting for those people with the burden of proof to bring in the evidence.

And now we'll move onto the rest of the nonsense.

Secular democracies should be neutral not only between traditional religions but also regarding modern religions with atheistic foundations.

What in the world is "modern religions with atheistic foundations"? Some forms of Buddhism is atheistic but that sure isn't modern.

Again, it seems that this is yet another attempt to claim that atheism somehow constitutes a religion. Well, it isn't. Being an atheist effectively means having no religion. Lacking belief in god makes you an atheist; No rational atheist asserts that god(s) do not exist and even those who do make that assertion are not organising a religion!

But let's move straight to most important part, the biggest "misunderstanding",

Thus, Singapore secularism is 'agnostic' and 'thin'. The Government does not favour or disfavour any particular religion. We practise 'accommodative secularism' described by the Court of Appeal as removing restrictions to one's choice of religious belief. Religious values do have a role in public debate.

Agnostic secularism of this sort is a virtue; it is a 'framework' which facilitates the peaceful co-existence of religions.

Conversely, militant secularism is an illiberal and undemocratic vice in seeking to gag religious views in the public square and so to privilege its atheistic values, as in communist states.

Secular fundamentalists are oppressive where they seek to mute religiously informed convictions in public debate, by demonising a view as religious.

The distinction between "accommodative" and "millitant" secularism is fucking nonsense.

Okay, I won't be quoting anymore. Here on is my explanation for secularism.

Secularism is one of the constitutional devices that sought to protect the people from the state (government) and vice versa, in this case, from religious discrimination. It means that the state must remain neutral towards religion, that is, the state cannot endorse any religions (no preferential treatment, no favorite or state religion) and cannot discriminate against any religion. This guarantees freedom of religion (as well as from religion).

Maybe it would be clearer if I used hypothetical examples.

It means the government cannot come out tomorrow and announce that Buddhism is the state religion of Singapore and its temples will now enjoy tax free status that other religions are not entitled.

It means the state cannot proclaim that we have amended the Singapore Pledge and it will now read:

We, the citizens of Singapore,
accept our Lord Jesus Christ as our one and only savior,
regardless of race, language or gender,

It means we cannot write into our law that all pork and pig related products shall be banned and no non-halal stalls will ever be permitted.

It means the Prime Minister cannot proclaim that we will now endorse state atheism and will now print "One Nation under No Gods" on our dollar bills.

Clearer now?

Secularism also means that members of the government cannot inject their religion into our constitution, our laws or anything endorsed by the government.

We may not inject Creationism into our national Science curriculum at our public schools.

We may not criminalized abortion on the basis of any religious doctrine.

We may not discriminate against homosexuals on the basis of any holy text.

We may not allow state-led prayer in our Parliament or public schools.

And yes, those examples come from America where religious nuts are trying to destroy the secularity of the USA.

To put it simply, secularism means you cannot impose your religious views on others via the government but neither can the government tell you what you can or cannot believe/do because of someone else's religion.

I hope you can see that that's a good thing, otherwise, you might be a bigot or possibly a theocrat... just guessing...

Violating Secularity, not actually

Sorry, this is old news. Not even news actually. But I thought I should voice my opinion because it's an atheist in Singapore who seem to think that the secularity of his school was violated.

Here's the relevant excerpts from the letter:

I feel uncomfortable in TJC because I witnessed a violation of secularism in TJC.

A few months ago, around May, the 32nd Student Council of TJC stood down and hand over to the 33rd SC. On the day, the President of the 32nd Student Council addressed the cohort. At the end of her address, she close with the phrase of “God Bless”

The ministry might think that the fault lies in the individual. But I am very surprise that the college did not make any clarification to the address. which I take it as they agree with the phrase. When the speech included the phrase “God Bless”, I believed that a Secular school like TJC would have clarified without any one complaing or enquring in the first place. But the lack of action of TJC with regards to this violation of secularism in school is rather shocking.

I really don't think this qualifies as a violation of secularism.

Firstly, does the president of the student council represent the (government) school and its official position? I doubt it.

Secondly, "God bless" has become a generic phrase similar to "Oh my god!" where the speaker may not actually be invoking their deity but simply wishing the audience well.

She is, in fact, allowed to voice her religious opinions although she may have come across as being distasteful to some atheists and possibly polytheists. But then again, she's allowed, to some degree, be distasteful if she wants to.

But in this case, she merely made a possibly religiously charged well wishing. She wasn't declaring that her religion is the one and only true religion. She wasn't telling her audience that deserved to burn in hell. She was neither promoting her religion over any others nor denigrating any.

So this letter sounds a lot like making a mountain out of, not a molehill, nothing to me.

Atheists and religious families

TheThinkingAtheist has recently uploaded two videos pertaining to atheists and their religious family and upbringing. It's worth a watch.

Phylogeny (Tree of Life)

A new video by AronRa.


A new video by Evid3nc3.

Why are you praying?

Believers of all kinds pray at one point or another. The more religious of the bunch pray as and when they feel that a personal communication is required to ask their respective deity for assistance or enlightenment. Others pray as a matter of ritual routinely at their places of worship. Less devout ones pray only when they are troubled and desperate for any kind of help that may seem to alleviate their anxiety.

I can almost say that I feel disappointed with this huge segment of the population. And I want to ask: why do you pray?

In this post, I am not addressing ritualistic prayer - that I really couldn't care for anyways. But I am looking at those who believe that prayer is some kind of communication to their god where the god would offer assistance and/or enlightenment in response.

For believers who subscribe to a god who is simultaneously omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscience (all-knowing) and benevolent (all-good),  the question is: why bother? An all-knowing god already knows that you are praying and what you are praying about - in this case, the prayer is a superfluous act. To an all-powerful, all-knowing god, your prayer is futile since he would have acted according to your wishes if he had wanted to. And for an all-good god, you shouldn't need to pray in the first place if you understand the implications.

That mostly deals with the Abrahamic versions of the monotheistic God. Presumably it should also deal with most other deities worthy of the prayer in the first place (after all, why bother praying for assistance from a god incapable of rendering them).

Here's another thought: why do you think that a god would even give a damn about your prayer? A divine being caring about your pathetic cries for help over some earthly human issues? Why do you suppose that human beings would be noticed by the god(s)? Just 'cause we're their creations? Aren't the rest of the living world supposedly their creation too? So the zebra being mauled by lions is not worth a damn but your sick uncle is? I know this might sound cruel but think about it, aren't you presupposing that you're so special that even the freaking supreme being of the universe is actually paying full attention to your whines and complaints about your life?

Here's yet another angle to this issue. You do realize that thousands of (approximately 150,000) people die per day, right? Most of them are not death due to age - rather death by accident, disease or murder. Put it this way, why do you suppose that god would give about a damn about your issues when he evidently doesn't care about those some 150,000 people each day? Presumably, some of those people probably hold the same/similar beliefs about their god as do you. Can you see the arrogance yet?

I could just tell you that there is ZERO scientific evidence pointing to the efficacy of prayer and neither is there any for the god being prayed to. But I think that will fall on deaf ears, sadly.

I know that at the emotional level, it seems almost cruel to ask someone to not bother praying. In desperate situations, it does seem like the only thing left to do is to pray. 

But let me ask you again, why are you praying? Would it actually work? If your friend survives, was it your prayer being answered? Or the effort of the medical personnel? Or sheer luck? Who would you thank? Your god or the doctors? How do you know it was god's doing? What if your kin dies instead? Did your prayer fail? Or was it god's will all the long? Who are you going to blame? The doctor for failing? Or your god?

And if you do recognize that prayer does not work. Why do you do it? Why are you deliberately engaging in a futile act? Just because you're desperate? Is that a reason or an excuse? Do you still think it's a good thing despite its futility? Are you doing it just to make yourself feel good? Just to think that you're actually doing something despite doing absolutely nothing other than wishful thinking?

I don't suppose this would change anyone's mind instantly. But I do hope you think about it. What are you trying to do when you pray? Really.

I've got mail!

Somebody actually emailed me in defense of Sai Baba.

Sai Baba was and is a good man. He was not a god since there is no such thing. He was not avaricious, pedophiliac and his miracles are true. They are just exhibitions here on this relatively primitive planet from a higher evolved one (in this case Mercury.)

They were meant to aid our humanity in the transition period between two sidereal cycles.

He doesn't really understand this and used the old yoga (bhakti) instead of the new one (Agni). This caused problems with false godworship by his devotees. But then agni yoga is hardly known while millions follow the yoga of devotion.

You orthodox atheists should keep your heads the same size as your falsely accused Holymen--if you don't you might have to buy larger, more expensive hats and may open yourselves also to the charge of avariciousness.

Best wishes

Is it supposed to make sense?