Epicurus - Is God willing to prevent evil ... ?

In my opinion, a lot can be achieved by using Memes. A simple short message can often make people stop and think, even if it's for a brief moment. So with this idea, a new blog Category is created, aptly named "Atheist Memes". In here you will be able to find all the memes Entangled Life shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all social media.

For the first entry in this category, this ancient question of Epicurus is appropriate:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

Epicurus

Things Religious fundamentalists tend to say about these and similar questions is: "well, you cannot apply human-made logic to God, which is eternal and outside our space...". And one certainly valid reply to this would be "Yes, you might say God is immune to logic. But if you say that, then really anything goes. Golden unicorns, Invisible dragons in your garage, orbiting teapots ...".

A word about getting absolute morality from Religion

Too often I have heard that without religion there can be no morality, that you cannot be a good person without being religious. So, let me address that point briefly.

Yes, religion does provide a set of moral values. But what is this “absolute morality”, you say? Well, as I understand it, absolute morality means that there are rules which are always in effect regardless of the circumstances. For example, killing a human being is always wrong, no matter the circumstances. Stealing is always wrong, no matter the circumstances. etc. You might say, something like “society needs rules”. Of course, society needs rules, and indeed, society does have rules, but any attempt to have absolute morality, valid for all situations ever, is inevitably an attempt to dictate rules onto others while claiming that your values are absolute, perfect and above all others.

When you add the doctrine that those  that you value and other similar rules have been written in a Holy Book, as a Word of God Himself and as such they are perfect and cannot be changed ever, into the mix, I’m sure that you can see how such combination can be very, very dangerous for humanity.

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them

While we might all potentially agree that killing a human being is always wrong, such is not the case with stealing, as many of us might consider stealing acceptable to feed a child who’s about to die of starvation, for example. And if you go even further into the things that some Holy Book has said, then you come to the highly controversial parts about how homosexual people should be put to death. Of course, this is where modern day priests come in and say that this is meant to be interpreted this way, or that way and not directly, etc., etc..

So, the absolute rules which may never be changed are interpreted to you. But when something needs “interpretation” it couldn’t have been too perfect, to begin with, could it?

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Happy #DarwinDay!

On today's date, 12. February 1809., Charles Darwin was born. Charles Darwin has put the world at the great debt with his contributions to science and understanding of our natural world.

Darwin formulated the scientific theory of evolution which he published in his book “On the origin of species” (now available for free in digital form).

HappyDarwinDay

Simply put, evolution means process of change, or adaptation if you will in all life forms over countless generations.

The theory of evolution gives us scientific explanation as to how did all the amazing variety of species come about. It is the explanation for the complexity of apparent design of life. It it a huge scientific accomplishment of humanity to be able to explain the Origin of species and regard that explanation as a simple fact of life.

As Richard Dawkins would say, Darwin with his brilliant theory showed us that no scientific problem is unsolvable. He showed us that even the very problem of huge variety of species in the world can be solved without the need for supernatural or magic.

In short, Charles Darwin is a person we cannot thank enough and we cannot honor enough.

Stance On Muslim Ban

Since this page doesn't particularly care about Religion, and in fact, it makes a point of mocking it in order to promote science and reason as opposed to superstition, you might expect that I would welcome Muslim ban from the US.

Oh, how wrong you would be.

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First of all, this ban violates the Refugee Convention which requires the countries to take refugees based on humanitarian grounds.

Second, this ban violates Secular principles, meaning the separation of church and state. Secularity is a key principle in today's modern world and every modern Country's Constitution is secular. Because church (Religion) and state should be separate, religious beliefs (or lack of belief) cannot be the cause of discrimination. In simpler terms: once you allow the discrimination of one religion, a door is open to discriminate any religion and lack of religion, meaning Atheists could come under attack, same as Muslims are now.

Third, this ban is xenophobic, hateful and despicable. There were already many measures in place to ensure that no terrorist comes into the US and there was no real reason to do this, especially when you also notice that this ban does not apply to countries where Trump has business ventures.

Muslim Ban is potentially the first step on the journey towards a country where one religion is in fact more important than other religions and actually towards a country where church and state are so tight that the belonging to the “right” church assures you are above others.

I support the right of people to choose their own religion, as well as their right to give up their religion. Simply put, you believe what YOU want to believe, not what your Country tells you to believe.

Why do you think so little about yourself?

There’s a sad recurring theme among religious people, and it basically comes down to not liking themselves enough. I’m talking about the tendency of religious people to attribute everything that went well in their lives to God and prayer.

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The image above is actually the whole point this post tries to make.

The thing is, if you passed an exam, that was you passing the exam. When you scored a goal that was you scoring the goal. Do you honestly think that a supernatural being had anything to do with something so petty?

A very religious mind is a messed up thing. It basically can reject whatever effort it made in favor of a idea that the creator of the Universe intervened personally to help with a college exam, for example. I even got the hint that they feel that if they congratulate themselves and acknowledge their own accomplishments somehow their invisible friend God will be upset and won’t help them again. How messed up is that? This is what happens when religions are allowed to have such overwhelmingly huge impact on children. Children become very dependent on the fantasy they learned and they even in adulthood undermine their own accomplishments just to keep the illusion alive.

The plain truth is: if you don’t study, you don’t pass an exam. If you don’t practice to become a better actor or tennis player or singer or whatever others are going to beat you and no amount of prayer is going to change that. The bottom line is: Prayer does not work.

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There have even been scientific studies to try to show whether prayer had any effect. As you might have guessed, the only thing proven was that prayer does not work. In some cases patients were even feeling worse.

When you consider all the things that God could potentially be doing (hint, hint – wars, hunger, poverty sick children…), to think that in reality a miracle occurred just so you could pass an exam, pretty much borders on insanity.

To attribute good things happening to God’s intervention is to deny responsibility for making progress in one’s own life. The deal is the same with bad things, where one would actually deny responsibility for things going wrong and pray that god has some kind of plan. People who think like that are exhibiting cowardly behavior. Don’t be like that.

Another pro-choice point - Spontaneous abortion

To be perfectly clear, when it comes to abortion issue, I have always been pro-choice. I really, really believe that a woman's body is her own business and should be her choice.

The abortion issue is really a complicated one, but it seems to me a lot of times science and scientific research is ignored. For example, why should we only look when "life" begins? It has been suggested that instead we should try to define when does somebody become a person. Because, if you think about it, bacteria are alive.

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Recent (some might say rampant or fanatical) anti-abortion happenings in my native Croatia has give me some reasons to look into abortion as such. What I recently discovered came as news to me.

An anti-abortion fanatic will tell you that embryo is granted a soul in the moment of conception by god and that abortion is the same as murder because of this. Well, if you say and accept that this embryo is a person and that killing it is murder, what are you going to do with these "murders" that just happen by a woman's body spontaneously rejecting it? Sex and even fertilization does not every time result in a baby.

Embryos are rejected (aborted) and not carried to term all the time. Basically, as much as 75% of egg fertilizations do not result in a baby.

As many as 75% of all conceptions miscarry
This statistic is an estimate for the percentage of fertilized eggs that do not go on to result in a full-term pregnancy, factoring in miscarriages but also failed implantations that usually pass without the mother ever missing a period. - verywell.com

 

A large portion of them don't implant successfully in womb. OK, we might not really consider these a "spontaneous abortion", but the bottom line is that they do not result in a baby and are in a way "rejected".

Around 31% of successful implantations end in a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. So of all egg fertilizations that do implant successfully, 31% ends in spontaneuos abortion. "About half of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities, making these problems the single most common miscarriage cause." - verywell.com

The following table is copied from RationalWiki, it assumes that 200 eggs are in an environment with sperm nearby.

Successfully fertilized 168 are successfully fertilised[1] 84% left alive
Successfully implanted in womb (1-2 weeks from fertilization) 138 68% left alive
Survive 4 weeks from fertilization 84 42% left alive
Survive to become a fetus (8-11 weeks from fertilization) 70 35% left alive
Survive to term and are born alive (38-42 weeks from fertilization) 62 31% born

Data from rationalwiki

Religious anti-abortion fanatics claim that a fertilized egg is a "human", "baby" or whatever endearing term they choose to use. So, it seems to me a valid question is "Why does god murder all those babies?"

Anyway, in my opinion, embryo has a potential to become a person, a human being. Whatever woman drinks, eats, etc has a influence on embryo. Embryo is inside a woman and DEPENDS on a woman. By this very fact in my opinion it cannot be considered a person. Person is somebody who is physically separate. It seems to me that a person is born. So a person is not killed by the act of abortion. Because embryo depends on a woman, it's a woman's right to decide whether to support it, to subject her body to it for 9 months. Of course, we are not machines and this decision is never made lightly, but sometimes it's easier to be blunt to make a point across.

We should also take a look at other factors science can tell us, for example that fetus "is not capable of feeling pain until the third trimester", (Wikipedia) while it is certain that women can feel pain right now. So, the subject of "suffering" is better brought into the light by science. But I digress. This post is supposed to be about spontaneous abortion in humans. Other things that motivate me to be "pro-choice" will be dealt with in some future blog post.

The statistics themselves are rather dry, but are easily verifiable. Sources for numbers used in this blog post are:

Putting It Into Context: Darwin and the Eye

Taking stuff out of context and using it to strengthen your views is … let’s just say, not nice. This is one of the things creationists and various religious apologists like to do very much.

A particularly blatant example of this is misquoting Charles Darwin’s “On the origin of species” to make it seem like Darwin himself had huge doubts about his theory.

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Photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull (1829–1914) and John Fox (1832–1907) (Maull & Fox)

Case in point:

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.

Charles Darwin, On the origin of species (1859.)1

 

This in one of the quotes Creationists love to use to try to show that supposedly Darwin didn’t trust his own theory. This is, of course, very far from the truth.

People who use this quote to try and show that there are problems with the evolution, happily ignore the continuation of this text about the evolution of the eye:

Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.

Charles Darwin, On the origin of species (1859.)

 

This is the quote taken from the first edition of the “The origin of species”. How about later editions? Well, Darwin went even further and the previous quote started with:

When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.

Charles Darwin, The origin of species (1872.)2

 

As you can see, in the later edition Darwin even tells us that it’s reasonable to think  that minor, gradual changes are responsible for the development of the eye. He even compares doubting the evolution of the eye to the fact that once was doubted that the Earth orbits the sun. I would say this is the writing of a man with confidence in his ideas.

This means, whenever you see someone posting nonsense that Darwin himself had huge doubts about Evolution, you can rest assured this is not true.

Nice try, though.

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