Humanity, Science and Technology

I really love this picture. I find it very meaningful.

Within one picture, it depicts the relationship between humanity & its evolution, science and technology. That, of course, is my personal view. Perhaps you might see something else within.

In the foreground, there is the conventional depiction of the evolution of humans from our apelike ancestors. The gradual change from a small, tree-dwelling ape to a larger, hairless and upright man.

The main focus is the man at the centre of the image. A man with his eyes closed and arms stretch out. A man who has a DNA double helix in place of where his legs would be.

The significance of the double helix is the fact that we are the biological product of our genes. It also representative of genetics which is one of the important discipline of science concerning both evolution and medicine. And thus in the picture, from our genes, emerged man. And understanding genetics meant understanding our biological roots.

My favorite highlight would be the depiction of science and technology. The man is shown with multiple halos radiating from his head and hands. Here, his head represents our mind, knowledge and science. From which, rays of light shines representing enlightenment and understanding. And his hands represents our power and ability to work. And thus representing technology as man made products of our understanding of the world in which we inhabit.

Humanity, a product of millions of years of evolution, has finally reached a state where it is able to attempt to comprehend the world from which it emerged. We're, in a sense, the universe's way of understanding itself. Now, in our hands, we own the power to steer the future of our planet. We have the means to understand our world better through rational thought and the scientific method. We have the means to apply that understanding and create technology to better humanity.

We have what it takes to be human.

Praying in an emergency

Recently in the news, some pilot finally got sent to jail after he crash landed his plane when he prayed instead of following emergency procedures 4 years ago.

News found here.

PALERMO (Reuters) - A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot.

The 2005 crash at sea off Sicily left survivors swimming for their lives, some clinging to a piece of the fuselage that remained floating after the ATR turbo-prop aircraft splintered upon impact.

A fuel-gauge malfunction was partly to blame but prosecutors also said the pilot succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land the plane instead trying to reach a nearby airport.

Another five employees of Tuninter, a subsidiary of Tunisair, were sentenced to between eight and nine years in jail by the court, in a verdict handed down Monday.

The seven accused, who were not in court, will not spend time in jail until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Wow, it would seriously sucked to be on the plane and know this.

Prayers. God answers them. He just answers "No."


My Route to Atheism

I was never truly in any religion. I never really believed. But back then I didn’t even know what an atheist is.

My parents are Chinese and worship the traditional Chinese pantheon of gods. They weren’t particularly religious but they are superstitious. So, in effect, my brother and I weren’t particularly religious as well. The whole god idea never quite got to the both of us.

There was a time that I thought that gods existed. Some 10 years ago, my mother would bring us to a Chinese temple in Bugis regularly. At the temple, we would light 3 joss sticks and pray to the gods. I can remember what my mother always said then, “Just tell the gods your name, where you live and blessings that you would like to receive.” I would then mutter under my breath the information I’m supposed to provide.

As my brother and I got older, my mother brought us to the temple less frequently. Eventually it became a once-in-a-couple-of-months matter. At the same time, I became more and more skeptical about the whole concept of god though it was never a significant issue.

I can still recall a night way back when I was around 13-14 years old. Chatting an hour before we slept was the typical thing to do for my brother and I. That night we expressed our childish skeptical view of god. I remember saying, “If god exist, he should give me a million dollars right now... Oh, didn’t happen” and then we went on to get god to throw a bolt of lightning at our room.

By the time I was 16-17, I was sort of a deist. I don’t believe a god would even give a damn about humanity. Even then, I thought it was absurd that anyone could believe an omniscient and omnipotent being would bother to answer prayers. However, I couldn’t think of an answer why the universe exists. Everyone else says that a god must have done it. So I concluded that, yea, a god that creates universes. That made sense at that time.

My real journey to atheism began after Year 2 of my polytechnic studies. That was sometime in May 2008.

The whole affair was initiated by a Youtube video. It was “Religion is bullshit” by the comedian George Carlin (who departed 22 June 2008). It piqued my interest in gods and religions again. And soon, I was browsing through Youtube for videos of related topics to watch.

And in no time, I stumbled on... Richard Dawkins and his book, The God Delusion. I watched almost all the videos wherein he was interviewed about his book. The affair got me excited on the whole atheism issue. And at this point, I was in agreement with what Richard Dawkins had to say. I was almost an atheist.

When my Student Internship Program started in June, I was bored out of mind because of the hour long train rides I take to work. Within the second week, I went out and bought “The God Delusion”. I finished the book in about a week and found myself in complete agreement. I love the book, I love his writing style and I love the fact that I am an atheist. I was “confirmed”. I AM an atheist and I’m proud of it.

Soon after I finished “The God Delusion”, I went to buy “God is not great” by Christopher Hitchens and then “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. After reading those books, I had a better understanding of my own objections to religion. But i got tired. After reading 3 atheistic books in a row, I found myself hungry for my other love. It was my love for science and in particular, my curiosity of evolution.

I got Richard Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale” and loved it. Then I got “The Selfish Gene” and learnt even more. I went to read almost all of Richard Dawkins’ writings. By the end of my 4 month internship program, I knew a whole lot more about evolution.

In the meantime, I was also browsing Youtube for videos about Evolution vs Creationism/Intelligent Design. I learnt about the common misconceptions and objections to the theory of evolution. I learnt about the pathetic situation in America over Science and Religion. I learnt a lot of stuff. I had my horizons expanded greatly over a period no longer than half a year.

Then, I thought my ideas about my non-belief were clear. I was not.

My philosophical position was kind of blurry. I could have defended my atheism with various arguments but there was something that I can’t quite put my finger on is unclear.

This changed after I found the Atheist Experience. This was a recent event, like 2-3 months ago. I watched the videos in their archives and was much attracted by the hosts Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris. I watched all the videos with the both of them together first. I adore their ability to reason and learnt a lot from that.

Having watched the videos, my understanding of my atheistic position crystallized further.

I really understand now.

I really AM an atheist.

And I like it.

No, wait, I love it.

STOMP Quotes

Hmmm, I'm going to be shameless in this entry. I'm going to quote myself. LOL.

Anyways, here's some of quotes of the stuff that I wrote that is worth keeping. Stuff, of my opinion, that are better written than my usual sarcastic replies.

On continuous and discontinuous thinking, a conversation with Lucifer78.

For example, we understand history by noting the major events along the timeline. So we study those major events in detail. But that does not mean that in between the major events are nothingness. There's still activities going on which are more mundane/insignificant but they still exist.

When looking at evolutionary history, it's basically the same idea. When we dig out fossils, we get a couple dotted along the timeline. We have A 100 million years before B which is 85 million years before, etc.

We know how evolution works, organisms reproduce, mutations occur, selection acts. We find that it is a continous lineage of descendants from past to present. Logically, reasonably, evidently, we know it is continuous. It's not up for debate.

To conceptualize, we can draw arbitrary lines. But it is still essentially continuous. To claim discontinuity after drawing the lines is dishonest.

I hinted before, we can still draw lines to define without losing the continuity. Each transitional fossil represents a window into our distant past. It reveals the environment our ancestors had to strive in. It reveals the changes anatomically. It can reveal the diet. Etc etc.

Each fossil is given a name for identification to represent the window it represents. That's the only division we have to make. We still know and acknowledge that it is a lineage of organisms leading back into the past. Not broken in any way apart from the scatter of fossils it leaves behind.

Yes, to some extent, this may be difficult to grasp. Before I read Richard Dawkins' books, I never thought this way. But after I did, it was like something lit up in my head and I said to myself: "Wow, I never thought of this before."

[Click here for original post]

A brief version of my agnostic atheistic stance.

I think I mentioned this previously when conversing with Lucifer78. When discussing perception and existence, there are 3 main categories:
1. That which exist and is perceived (The Natural)
2. That which exist and cannot be perceived (The Supernatural)
3. That which does not exist and cannot be perceived (The Non-existent)

Since we're limited by our ability to perceive, we cannot tell apart the Supernatural and the Non-existent. In this sense, it would be highly unrealistic and unpractical to claim knowledge of the supernatural when we cannot tell any differences from that which does not exist.

Perhaps, this real world might be a simulation. But what's the difference? Why dwell on such unrealistic issues?

I think it would be much more pragmatic to learn more about our universe via science and better humanity.

Here's something that I thought was pretty interesting to think about:
If indeed this world is a simulation, the "creator" must be really really really meticulous: Think about our DNA, evolution, common descent, the fossil record... Really detailed stuff...

Oh, I also will not go so far as to say that science is "proven to be unreliable" because it is based on our senses. It is done by many scientists around the world, peer reviewed, reproduced/repeated and produces technology that gives us highly consistent results. This kind of thing is NOT unreliable unless you're using another definition.

I believe absolute certainty is improbable if not outright impossible. But I also think that it is unnecessary. Who needs absolutes anyways (apart from god-fearing people who claim otherwise)?

So, in that sense, I'm an agnostic. An agnostic atheist.

[Click here for original post]

Okay, I give. This is one is, at best, just a sarcastic remark. But I liked it.
It's about Bible VS Evidence.

...If evidence contradicts the bible, the evidence must be wrong.

ERV agreeing with common descent. Must be wrong.

Fossil record in geological order. Must be wrong.

Fossil record shows progressive change. Must be wrong.

Conservation of codons between closely related species agreeing with common descent. Must be wrong.

Presence of numerous transitional forms. Must be wrong.

Evidence of chromosome 2 fusion in humans. Must be wrong.

Embryology. Must be wrong.

Genetics. Must be wrong.

Radiometric dating. Must be wrong.

Bible. Correct.

[Click here for original post]

Last one. On "scientific" verses in holy books.

Verses "hinting" scientific knowledge? Frankly, they are usually distorted or required extremely vague interpretations in order for the verse to make sense scientifically. Such "interpretations" have been done several times over by the devout looking for some anchor in reality for their beliefs. Just search Quranic science on Youtube and you probably get a dozen or more "examples".

For any verse to convince anyone that it hints scientific knowledge, it needs to be flat out obvious to anyone who reads it. And when I say scientific knowledge, I mean something big like a theory rather than a simple fact. Stuff like the "Earth is round" is barely substantial and hardly convincing. If a holy book have an entire chapter dedicated to the Atomic Theory, that would be convincing. However, I may not convert right away, more evidence would be required for a skeptic like me.

Not to mention, such bible science or quran science are usually made AFTER science itself have made the discovery. It is an dishonest attempt to frame the discovery to appear as though the "gods" got there first. It would be much more convincing if it was the holy books which prompted a research in science as opposed to framing the discovery as a religious idea after all the research was done.

However, that being said, evidence of god himself would be more convincing as opposed to hints of scientific knowledge in a 2000 year old book.

[Click here for original post]

There. I'm done being shameless.
Move along now.


I'm so tired of listening to christian "explanations".




Warped ideas about love and hate, knowledge and wisdom, persecution and respect.

So tired.

Life would be more beautiful without the concept of god.

Your Inner Fish

Your Inner Fish
by Neil Shubin.

I got this book like 2 weeks ago but I haven't finished it yet because I'm slacking wayyy too much. Eeek.

In case, you didn't know: Neil Shubin and his team discovered the fossils of Tiktaalik in 2006. Tiktaalik represents an important transition from fish to the early tetrapods. To learn more about Tiktaalik, check out Wikipedia for some general information.

In the first chapter, Neil describes how the expedition was planned and how it went. Using the theory of evolution amongst other evidence that were previously unearthed, the team predicted the location, age and type of the rocks where the transitional forms from fish to tetrapod could be found.

Chapter 1: Finding your inner fish (pg.10)
...there is strong geological evidence that the period between 380 million to 365 million years ago is the critical time. The younger rocks in that range, those about 360 milion years old, include diverse kinds of fossiled animals that we would all recognize as amphibians or reptiles...... [amphibians] with their necks, their ears, and their four legs, they do not look like fish. But in the rocks that are about 385 million years old, we find whole fish that look like, well, fish. They have fins, conical heads and scales; and they have no necks. Given this, it is probably no great surprise that we should find evidence of the transition between fish and land-living animals.

And then they discussed where to find such rocks...

Chapter 1: Finding your inner fish (pg.15)
...three areas with Devonian freshwater rocks, each with a river delta system. First there is the east coast of Greenland. This is home to the Jenny Clack's fossil, a very early creature with limbs and one of the earliest know tetrapods. Then there is eastern North America, where we had already worked, home to Hynerpeton. And there is a third area, large and running east-west across the Canadian Artic.

It took four expeditions to Ellesmere Island spanning 6 years and they finally found Tiktaalik. A transitional form that have both features of fish and tetrapods.

Chapter 1: Finding your inner fish (pg.23)
Our new creature broke down the distinction between these two kinds of animals [fish and tetrapods]. But like early land-living animals, it has a flat head and a neck. And, when we look inside the fin, we see bones that correspond to the upper arm, the forearm, even parts of the wrist. The joints are there, too: this is a fish with shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. All inside a fin with webbing.

And what else does Neil has to say about Tiktaalik?

Chapter 1: Finding your inner fish (pg.26)
How can I be so sure that this fossil says something about my own body? Consider the neck of Tiktaalik. All fish prior to Tiktaalik have a set of bones that attach the skul to the shoulder, so everytime the animal bent its body, it also bent its head. Tiktaalik is different. The head is completely free of the shoulder. This arrangement is shared with amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including us. The entire shift can be traced to the loss of a few small bones in a fish like Tiktaalik.

The wonder of transitional forms.

The rest of the books describes the numerous evidence for evolution from fossils to cells and from genes to embryology. It's wonderful. I'd say it's a must read for those who enjoys an intellectual booster from various evidence neatly explained in the book (even for laymen readers).

Ignorance and Wilful Ignorance

Ignorance is defined by the dictionary as follows:

Ignorance [ig-ner-uhns]
The state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc.

That is not, in itself, a bad thing.

Different people are ignorant about different things. Most people don't know the law as well as lawyers are, so in this aspect, most people are ignorant about the law in a general sense. We don't know everything about plumbering as well as plumbers are. We don't know engineering as well as engineers. We don't know about running businesses as well as businessmen.

And in general, the public does not understand science as well as scientists are. In fact, a physicist may be ignorant to some aspects of biology. Similarly, biologists may not know everything about cosmology as well as well cosmologists.

This is normal.

Not when we add wilfulness into the equation.

Wilful ignorance.
The state of knowingly ignoring something for no good reason.

In other words, being ignorant on purpose.

To some extent, this can be said of deniers of evolution. Many times, these cretins do not even bother to study what they reject. With the littlest understanding of the subject on hand, they criticise the theory without realizing their so-called objections are invalid/incorrect.

At some level, they could be victims of creationist propaganda where they are presented with a caricature of evolution. They reject the miscontrued version of the theory without realizing that they are merely rejecting a strawman.

Of course, this cannot be said about those who delibrately propagate the lies. They probably aren't just wilfully ignorant but outright deceitful.

Does the ends justify the means?
Is lying for god justified?

Jesus loves the little zygotes

I was listening to one of the past The Non Prophets show (7.3, 2 Feb '08) and I heard this.

Jesus loves the little zygotes

Jesus loves the little zygotes

all the zygotes of the world.
Jesus loves them until they're born
then abandons them forlorn.
Jesus loves the little zygotes 'til they're born.

Jesus loves the little children
all the children of the world.
Jesus gives them heart defects
measles, mumps, and ringwormed necks.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus lets their parents beat them,
bruise their bodies black and blue.
Jesus gives them birth defects,
scurvy, ticks, and palette clefts.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus gives the children cancer.
Earaches, lice, and scabies too.
Bowel obstructions, altered lips,
blighted brains and twisted hips.
Extra chromosomes to help them when they pray.


Jesus gives the children acne.
AIDS and leprosy galore.
Germs and worms of every kind.
Things to make the children blind.
But he cannot give them smallpox anymore.

Scientists and unbelievers
wiped the pox right off the earth.
Jesus still gives gifts to kids,
broken nose and burnt eyelids.
But he cannot give them smallpox anymore.

Just a nice little contrast between science and religion.

Oh and don't bother complaining about how Jesus don't give these stuff. He's god, go figure.

Meanwhile, take a look at the latest post at Unreasonable Faith. Another insight to biblical cherrypicking.

Science, it WORKS! Bitches.

Perhaps, I'm the bitch for this post because I'm going to be bitching about something.

I am definitely sick of theists who say "I believe in science but I just don't believe in evolution."

I'd say that they are fricking hypocrites.

Seriously, unlike the holy books, you don't get to cherrypick stuff to believe in. The body of knowledge known as science is acquired by the scientific method. It's a package deal. You don't get to reject part of this body of knowledge (in this case, the theory of evolution) and still say you accept the scientific method.

While science may have many disciplines, they are not discrete subjects like mathematics is separate from literature. They are interlinked. They are fundamentally the results of the same methodology: the Scientific Method.

To make matters worse, those theists are rejecting science for one absurd reason: their religious dogma. Between the multitudes of evidence science offers and their ancient religious dogma, they reject the evidence and the science.

That is patently absurd. And it is also incredibly hypocritical.

If you want to reject the theory of evolution, please be acknowledge that you are not rejecting the theory itself but the scientific method also. In such a case, do yourself a favor and stop being a hypocrite about it. Don't use anything that is derived from science and that includes evey piece of technology.

You are trampling on the hard work of the many generations of scientists who devoted their lives to bettering our lives by increasing our knowledge. You dare condescendingly call scientific theories "just a theory of man" and claim that it is wrong when it contradicts your holy book. You downplay all the good that science has brought and call it the evil that leads to nazism. Yet everyday you're using the products of the method that you so lovingly despise.

Why don't you examine your presuppositions? That god exist? That the universe must have been created? That you cannot bear the thought of death? That you want so badly to believe in an afterlife? That the holy books are accurate?

Use reason and logic.
Look at the evidence and draw conclusions.
Not let your desires cloud your judgement.

Screw faith which simply is the belief with no evidence.
Don't presuppose the conclusion when looking at the evidence.
Live a life based in reality not fantasy.

Trust science not simply as an authority.
Trust it because you know what it is and how it works.
Trust it because of its fine track record.


The Atheist Experience: Clips on Youtube

The Atheist Experience videos are about 90 minutes long and that is way too long for some people to sit through. So some fans uploaded shorter clips of their favorite parts of certain episodes on Youtube. And here is a few that I picked out.

Does Logic And Reason apply to God?
What ever does it mean that you can't use reason and logic in issues regarding god(s)? Why is it applicable only if it comes to the biased conclusion? Why the particular exception anyways? This short clip touches on the topic.

Episode 531 | Topic: Viewer Mail | By Matt and Tracie

Click here.

Warning: Faith Can Cause Mental Illness!
Religious inconsistencies: Strong faith or mental illness?

Episode 535 | Topic: News | By Matt and Ashley
Click here.

Saudi woman sentenced to death for making a man impotent
Attacking religions: Is religion truly a force for good or is progress just a by-product of its ulterior motives. Stupid beliefs deserve criticism; No special protection accorded.

Episode 540 | Topic: Agnosticism & Prejudice | By Matt and Tracie

Click here.

Atheists don't believe in Anything!
Believe in nothing? Meaningless therefore suicide?
Bullshit! The promise of an afterlife diminishes the value of this one. As an atheist, I value this life much more and I hold my own beliefs apart from my disbelief in god. Not believing in god does not mean atheists believe in nothing; that's an extremely skewed perception of us.

Episode 556 | Topic: Batman & Atheism | By Matt and Tracie

Click here.

God's Moral Lesson in the Story of Abraham
Instead of focusing on Abraham's obedience, why not think about God's character? Ever wonder why Abraham never questioned why God wanted a sacrifice? Is asking for human sacrifices within God's character? How is that moral at all?

Episode 557 | Topic: John Hagee | By Matt and Don

Click here.

'I am more moral than God!'
God condones slavery. That is immoral. Period.
We are more moral than Yahweh.

Episode 568 | Topic: Moral Judgement | By Matt and Jen

Click here.

Logical Fallacy: God did it!
Argument from Personal Incredulity. Therefore, God did it.

Episode 573 | Topic: Moral Judgement | By Jen and Matt
Click here.

Matt Dillahunty DESTROYS a Theist
Matt's Terrific, Merciless Rant on God's moral standards

God moral? Have you read the damn bible?
An omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent god that: condones/requests for human sacrifice, endorses slavery, commits mass murders, requires death penalties for petty crimes and punishes his creations infinitely for finite crimes. That's moral?

Episode 574 | Topic: Still More Scamlets | By Matt and Don

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

13 Year Old Rape Victim Stoned To Death
13 year old. Girl. Married. Raped. Stoned for adultery. In stadium with a thousand watching. What's more to say?

Episode 577 | Topic: Still More Scamlets | By Jen and Martin
Click here.

God is the Ultimate Judge! - Another Great Rant
Moral judgement is within yourself. Don't sacrifice your humanity to this insane religion that claims to know the absolute truth and morals. Note: Watch this for your own character growth.

Episode 579 | Topic: Live Callers | By Matt and Tracie

Click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Distinct Evidence for God's Existence?
Evidence for anything must be unique in order to be recognized as evidence. An "evidence" that can be used for any god is not an evidence for any specific god. In some cases, theists go so far as to assert without evidence at all. Pathetic.

Episode 583 | Topic: Live Callers | By Matt and Tracie

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Just a thought

I was watching Episode 594 of the Atheist Experience.

And Jen Peeples asked "So if you cloned yourself and then you have sex with yourself, is that incest or masturbation?"


The Atheist Experience

I've been watching "The Atheist Experience" videos in their archives these past days. They are incredibly interesting to watch. Very informative and insightful. I learnt quite a bit from the videos I have watched so far.

In particular, I enjoy watching the episodes where Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris are hosting together. They rock the show in my opinion!

So I shall list a few of the videos that I found extremely interesting.

The Old Testament, Monotheism or Henotheism?
Episode #464
Episode #466
Episode #483

On Consciousness
Episode #500
Episode #504

Skepticism and Children's books
Episode #548
Episode #552

What do you mean by "God exist?"
Episode #572