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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Human endeavors that inspire: The Hubble Space Telescope

Humanity has invented conflict, war and Religion. But not all achievements of society are bad. Quite the contrary, some of them are so magnificent they can actually restore your faith in Humanity and make you feel special to be a member of the Human family.

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of those achievements.

Hubble In Free Orbit

Image by NASA, Public Domain

 

The problem with observing the universe using telescopes and observatories stationed on Earth is a bit difficult because Earth’s atmosphere gets in the way. When looking at objects through Earth’s atmosphere, so-called twinkling occurs. What apparently happens is: the light which comes from distant sources passes through different densities of the atmosphere and the path of light is diverted and you don’t get precise readings.

In addition to that, atmosphere blocks ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma-rays, so if humanity wants to observe them it cannot do so through the atmosphere.

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis.

 

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Human endeavors that inspire: The International Space Station

We all have ambivalent and contradictory feelings, sometimes about the tiniest, most irrelevant things. And when it comes to the human condition, to the status and development of humanity … well, what can be a greater source of contradiction that development of human society in general? For example, I’ll be the first one to say that we as a species are not doing nearly enough when it comes to Space Exploration and Science, but at other times I take a look what humanity has achieved and I’m filled with inspiration and almost moved to tears.

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The International Space Station as photographed by a crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis, By NASA/Crew of STS-132 - Public Domain (Source)

 

This time we’re talking about The International Space Station. This is one major human achievement and not only because it’s a technological wonder, but also because it’s a monument to what humanity can achieve once it pulls together to work on a common goal. It’s  material evidence that our petty little differences don’t matter so much, because when humanity wants a common goal it will pull it’s resources together to make that happen.

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Human Endeavors that inspire: The Large Hadron Collider

Just as a wonderful piece of music or transcendental work of poetry, Science can also be an endless source of inspiration and wonder. Just think about the vastness of Deep Space, or the miniscule of quanta, and try not to be inspired. Imagine the expanding universe, the galaxies running away from us, at an ever increasing speed and try not to feel amazed. You are a part of Human species, the only species known so far that is able to understand these facts about the Universe we live in.

Today we are talking about one Human Endeavor that makes it possible for our species to do just that – gain an increased understanding of the Universe, the Large Hadron Collider.

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LHC tunnel / Photograph Copyright CERN / Maximilien Brice

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator and a largest machine in the World. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

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Freedom to criticize Religion

In all modern democracies, one of fundamental citizen rights is that of a Religious freedom. There is no state-backed religion and there is no discrimination of people based on their religious beliefs. At least in writing, as something similar is undoubtedly written into Constitution of your own Country.

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For example in my native Croatia, Article 40 of our Constitution says:

“Jamči se sloboda savjesti i vjeroispovijedi i slobodno javno očitovanje vjere ili drugog uvjerenja.”

 

which roughly translated means that freedom of consciousness and religion and free public display of said religion or other  belief is guaranteed. Or in the US, with the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

This is, of course, an important right. Let’s just remind ourselves briefly why. There was no small amount of instances through history when people who had religion different than the majority was persecuted and executed. This is still practiced today in some countries, for example Burma, where intolerance, discrimination and violence against Muslims is provoked by the Buddhist community (PDF). (ah, those religions of peace …). So, I believe we can all agree that freedom of Religion is important.

The thing is, Freedom of Religion also ensures the rights of people to change their minds about their religion. This basically means, if you have another religious idea, other than the one you currently practice, you are free to act upon that idea and leave your old idea behind, you are free to change your religion.

So, this is to me evidence that as far as countries are concerned, Religion is, and should be only an idea and it should have no more privilege when it comes to criticism, than for example, politics. And we all know that a lot of politicians leave their old political parties behind, only to spew criticism on them from afar.

This is only one example. You can criticize everything, so why should only Religion be spared? Why is Religion the only thing nothing bad can be said about?

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