Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quotable Me, Vol. 2

A few months ago I compiled some of the short observations I've made on my Twitter account, @OtherSideReflec. This is the second installment. Again, much of the credit for these ideas should go to the many brilliant freethinkers I've been fortunate enough to learn from over the past year or two.

Here are some comments on Christianity:
  • Of all the tricks Christianity has pulled, the greatest is to convince people that a loving God can punish us eternally simply for unbelief.
  • Some Bible translations (e.g. NIV) purposely bury contradictions and atrocities. Imagine the outrage if atheists designed a translation to worsen them.
  • The Bible says nothing about gay marriage. If Christians want to base their argument on the Bible, they should be arguing to outlaw homosexuality entirely.
  • If a Christian explains away a passage as metaphor, just ask, "A metaphor for what?" It's kind of pointless if no one actually knows what it means.
  • One of the weirdest claims about the Bible is that it's a "unified" book. Read Leviticus, Psalms, Mark and Revelation. Then try saying that.
  • God's reasoning: "I'll give humans dozens of cognitive biases, then send them to hell if they don't believe based on a warm fuzzy feeling. It's perfect!"
  • Jesus' crucifixion demonstrates his loving self-sacrifice in the same morbid and incoherent way as a madman presenting us with the gift of his own severed limb.
  • Discoveries the Bible could have predicted: atoms, sanitation, relativity, the brain's function, evolution, heliocentrism, electricity, America, exoplanets, Newton's laws, tectonic plates, vaccines, DNA, radioactivity, Antarctic fauna...
On religion, God and atheism:
  • "Islam is a religion of peace!" No, a subset of Muslims are people of peace, in direct defiance of their holy book.
  • Science and religion are quite compatible. All religion has to do is yield to science on every subject where science has something to say.
  • God's traits remind me of two kids arguing over action figures. "Mine has infinite power!" "Well mine knows everything, and he's outside time!"
  • If a prophecy is only recognized after its "fulfillment," it either wasn't a prophecy at all or was far too vague to be impressive.
  • Following divine command theory has the same moral value as obeying someone who has a gun to your head.
  • People who only do good because God says to don't have morality, but rather a superficially accurate simulation of it.
  • It's ironic that the words in the Pledge of Allegiance between "one nation" and "indivisible" are themselves divisive.
  • Liberal religion's relationship to extremism: "All that's needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing."
  • Sending inherently sinful humans to hell for not being perfect is about as fair as sending a goldfish to hell because it can't do calculus.
And on skepticism:
  • Reports that the Washington Monument was tilted after August's earthquake are a perfect example of how expectations warp our perceptions.
  • Literally any belief, when shown to be false, can be preserved with sufficient rationalization.
  • I suspect the Dunning–Kruger effect extends to cognitive biases as well: people bad at avoiding bias likely think they're above average.
  • For some reason, even the most fearsome supernatural entities cower in the face of controlled laboratory conditions.
I like the Twitter format quite a bit. The 140-character limit does get a little cramped, but it's still an ideal place to jot down any thoughts that I don't feel compelled to flesh out into a full blog post, as well as to post links to atheism- and science-related news stories. It even helped lead to the arrest (and hopefully rehabilitation) of Dennis Markuze, a notorious spammer who constantly made graphic death threats against many atheist bloggers. Who says Twitter is a waste of time?

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