NonStampCollector has made yet another excellent video. This one is a script based on the story of Jepthah - About the child sacrifice that went through.

How very moral, Yahweh.

Wait, "Militant Secularism"?

What's that? "Militant Secularism"?

That's a phrase used in a particular article in TODAY that caught my attention. See it here.

Right at beginning, it states,

WHILE Singapore’s secularism dictates that religion should not be mixed with politics, religion is “not separated from public life and culture”, law academic Thio Li-ann asserted in Parliament yesterday.

Well, sure, of course religion is part of culture and public life.

And those who engage in public debate cannot be expected to do so independent of their religious views, the Nominated Member of Parliament stressed.

To some extent, yes, certain issues will be tied to particular religious views.

Sounds fine so far. So what is the issue with "militant secularism"?

With the senior Thio looking on in the public gallery, Prof Thio argued: “Secular fundamentalists are oppressive where they seek to mute religiously-informed convictions in public debate.”

Okay, what in the world is "secular fundamentalists"?

Consulting the dictionary for relevant defintions:

Secularism [sek-yuh-luh-riz-uhm]
1. secular spirit or tendency, esp. a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.
2. the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.

Fundamentalism [fuhn-duh-men-tl-iz-uhm]
1. [Religious movement]

2. the beliefs held by those in this movement.
3. strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles: the fundamentalism of the extreme conservatives.

A person who has a strict adherence to the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. I don't see a problem unless someone can point out to me what is so bad about secularism.

They do so “by demonising a view as religious in attempting to make religious faith a cause for embarrassment, or to distract citizens from the merits of an argument by discounting a speaker whose values are shaped by a religious” faith.

I would have to disagree completely with this statement.

What kind of merits are there to an argument made from religious grounds?

"I am against gays because my invisible sky daddy said so."

"As a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/etc, I am against gays/abortion/etc."

"My holy book said so."

"My god says that infidels should die."

If the arguments sound anything like the above, in whatever shape or form, then it deserves "embrassment", scorn and ridicule.

If there are merits to an argument, it will stand on its own. Introducing "My god said so" in front of the argument is pointless if not offensive or just stupid.

Such militant secularism is “a recipe for social disharmony”, she added.

Hmmm, don't know what is militant secularism supposed to mean anyways.

In any case, I think it is reasonable to say that secularism is necessary for social harmony. If religions are allowed to inject their religious poison into law and government, it is only a matter of time before we have religious riots erupting.

So what is the issue anyways?

Videos, again

As part of my video whoring habits, here are two particular videos that caught my eye.


Woohoo! I've gotten my diploma - Officially graduated.

And damn do I miss CPTC.

"Calling Team A, this is the Control House. EBV-001 and 002 are closed on the DCS. The columns are going to flood if we cannot run P-101 and 102. Can you guys check out EBV-001 and 002 and open them?"

"Team A to Control House. The EBVs are not closed. They're open."

"Team A, this is the Control House. The EBVs are still closed on the DCS. I'd suggest that you check the Hydraulic Power Pack. It might be turned off."

"Okay, moving over...

This is Team A. We're are at the HPP. It is indeed turned off. We're opening the EBVs."

"Okay Team A. The EBVs are open on the DCS. Good job. We'll try to control the column levels. We need you guys to check out P-100..."

Damn troubleshooting that night was fun. So memorable. Even after a whole year since then, I still kinda miss the experience.

3 years in polytechnic - officially ended today.

Year 1 was kinda nice. Everything was new, not exactly sure what to expect. Frankly, I enjoyed the Chemistry subjects in Year 1 - in particular, Organic Chemistry. Got A's for those.

I was slightly disappointed with myself for Year 2 though. I slipped with regards to the engineering aspects - I've got B's. I always expect A's - it's my high standards for my performance for science subjects. Also in Year 2, 2 work safety subjects gave me B's as well. I suck at "dead-memory" type subjects... So I kinda feel screwed by them - I am so not Safety Officer material... LOL.

Well, then we have the final year. And it ROCKS. Because I had a worldview upgrade that year which I mentioned previously in "A new year begins."

That year, I managed more or less satisfactory results. A nice surprise was being awarded Distinction for CSAS4 (Communication skills subject) - I never got an A for the previous 3. This was in part thanks to my lecturer - she was indeed a great teacher who cares about her students and offers great advice & assistance.

I also got an A for my Major Project. YAY. Slightly unexpected. I think my unexpectations might actually be just due to lack of confidence on my part. I tend to second guess myself after the fact.

Oh... 3 years...

Origins Symposium

Okay, I'm convinced that The Science Network is a great resource - plenty of interesting science and thoughtful opinions of scientists.

I was watching that Origins Symposium last night and there were some really interesting bits worth watching. I'll pick three parts out that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Yay, Richard Dawkins. He talked about Evolution and his opinions about Abiogenesis in the following.

Lawrence Krauss gave an extremely educational and entertaining presentation on the topic of the origin of the Universe. Watch this one (Not embedded because it autoplays)!

Check it out here: Origins Symposium - Lawrence Krauss

The panel discussion on Science and Society was really fun to watch as well. Many inspiring and amusing opinions were made. And anything with Neil DeGrasse Tyson is definitely entertaining to watch.

Yay for Scientific Meliorism!

TSN: Brain, Mind and Consciousness

I was browsing through The Science Network after watching Beyond Belief 2008: Candles in the Dark when another series caught my eye. It was the 2005 Skeptic Society Annual Conference: Brain, Mind and Consciousness.

Beyond Belief 2008
was nice. There were some really interesting parts worth watching. Each part displayed on the page are around 21 minutes long so you don't have to watch a whole session at one go.

The 2005 Skeptic Society Annual Conference: Brain, Mind and Consciousness was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed all the presentations - all chucked full with juicy information. I'd recommend watching this for anyone interested in brain function and consciousness.

For Session 1, the presentations by Christof Koch and Alison Gopnik was particularly interesting. This session spans almost 3 hours so I'd suggest that you get some popcorn and be ready to sit through it - worth it though.

In Session 2, I'd enjoyed the first presentation by Richard McNally and the third one by Susan Blackmore. This one lasts for two and a half hours.

The presentations by Paul Zak and Ursula Goodenough was my favorites in Session 3. This session is just slightly longer than the second one.

The conference was fun to watch with lots of stuff to learn. I shan't bother to get into the details - just watch them!

Tracie's Fallacy Model

The Atheist Experience Episode 602 has Tracie Harris and her Fallacy Model. As the name of the model suggests, it address fallacies - Fallacies that theists typically make.

Here's a short clip:

But that's just part of presentation. Jump for 51:44 in the following full episode:

Objective Morality does not exist

I think this video by BionicDance represents my position well enough.

Morality, as I see it, is subjective because it is we, human beings, who decide what is right or wrong in society.

I said it before on the STOMP forums and I'll say it again:
If you think subjective morality is insufficient and that scares you, blame reality. If you'd like to fantasize about gods and divine justice, you're welcomed to hold your irrational views but wishing doesn't make it so.

PZ Myers and the Fluffy Octopus

Oh. Just something random I want to post today.

Who gets a nice strange cuddly feeling looking at this picture?

That's PZ Myers of the Pharyngula blog.

If you have the time, watch this playlist of videos of an interview between Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers.


Here's a compilation of the my more lengthy entries that discusses specific topics. This page is linked on the shortcuts at the top of my blog and will be updated when I have more essays to add.

About Me
Stuff pertaining to me or my blog

My Route to Atheism
The story of my not-particularly-interesting route (since I was never really religious) to finding my atheism.

Youtube Channel - Atheozoa
This page lists the various playlists I've managed to compile on Youtube relating to matters of religion, atheism, science, evolution and etc.

My Atheism
Essays about my atheism - Why I don't believe in god

Scripture as poor evidence
Discusses some reasons for not accepting scripture as evidence (particularly the bible).

Ugarit and the Abrahamic Faiths

A look at the origins of Yahweh, the god behind the abrahamic faiths, and how that cast doubts on them.

Yahweh, the morally inferior god
This article takes a look specifically at Yahweh and why is cannot be the moral authority that he is said to be.

Abiogenesis, Life and Gods
Here's a short essay of the issue between abiogenesis and creationism.

Science and the Incredulous
Another short article about the problem science has with the general public and the religious.

Evolution and its denial
Putting forth some of the evidence for evolution, its predictions & applications and its denial by some of the theistic factions.

Human Morality

The objections to the Argument from Morality.

Universe Vs God
Pointing out the special pleading in the First Cause Argument.

Fine Tuned Universe
A discussion of some of the objections to the fine-tuning argument and anthropic principle.

Other Stuff
Some things that don't have a category just yet.

Atheism and Agnosticism
The distinction between Atheism/Theism and Agnosticism/Gnosticism. Plus a brief clarification of some common misconceptions of what Atheism/Atheist is.

Evidence Vs Creationism
Here's 4 groups of evidence that doesn't quite mesh with Creationism: Atavism, Pseudogenes, ERVs and the Geological Record.

On Existence

My thoughts on Existence, Manifestation and Evidence. This is representative of my stance on what it means to me to say that "X exist" - This is also related to my atheism.

Last updated: 10 May 2009

Evidence Vs Creationism

For the record, I'm lumping Intelligent Design with Creationism in this entry - Same shit, different guise so I'm not going to differentiate them.

Evolution explains. Creationism doesn't do much of that. In light of the evidence, the explanation Creationism offers is simply odd if not completely absent.

An atavism is an evolutionary throwback - traits that reappear after disappearing in the lineage's evolutionary history. They occur because the genes for these ancestral phenotypical features are still present in the genome though no longer normally expressed.

Hind flippers in dolphins is an atavism - Evidence of the mammal's terrestrial ancestors. Another example would be teeth in birds. Tails in humans is also one such example.

Creationists make up excuses to account for such evidence. For example, same god, same genes - god may have just put the same genes in animals who don't need them. The excuse falls apart upon scrutiny.

If that was the case, why don't mammals display atavisms of bird traits? Why don't ray-finned fish have atavisms where legs appear? Why don't amphibians have "evolutionary throwbacks" of fur? Why are atavisms so nicely limited to organisms who can display them according to the theory of evolution?

Notice that atavisms are indicative of evolutionary history. These evolutionary throwbacks are limited by the organism's ancestral past. Mammals cannot have atavisms of bird traits because they diverged millions of years ago before their unique traits evolved. The same for ray-finned fish and tetrapods. The same for amphibians and mammals.

The first half of the following video touches on Atavism:

Closely related organisms (eg, all the apes including humans) share similar genomes. To illustrate the similarity, take the human chromosome 2. Scientists can identify the two ape chromosomes which fused some time in our evolutionary history because of the great similarity between the chromosomes - The sequence of genes on human chromosome 2 is the same as the 2 ape chromosome attached together teleomere to teleomere.

The same lame excuse: Same god, same genes is proposed. The thing is, we don't just share genes. We share the same useless genes - pseudogenes. Genes which have been knocked out by mutation.

A popular example used to illustrate this is the Vitamin C pseudogene. Human beings as well as our relatives, the primates, have most of the genes necessary to code for enzymes involved in the production of Vitamin C. However, one of these genes, the one which codes for the fourth enzyme in the cascade, has been knocked out by a frameshift mutation. The same exact mutation appears in all our relatives.

See this video which addresses the subject:

The theory of evolution requires this to be true - Descent by modification, so all descendents will have the same error in their genome. It can also account for the reason for our lost of our ability to synthesize Vitamin C.

Creationism doesn't quite account for this. Why did god (or the "designer") do this? Why knock out our ability to synthesize Vitamin C when we're not primarily fruit-eaters? Why does the other apes have the same disability like us? With the same mutation? That makes it look like we descented from a common ancestor with the other apes?

Endogenous Retroviruses
Retroviruses use reverse transcription to produce DNA from its RNA genome then it incorporates the DNA into the host genome. If a retrovirus infects a germ line cell, the organism which develops from the infected cell would have viral DNA in its genome. The viral DNA is known as endogenous retroviruses (ERV).

Although ERVs are nonfunctional, they are relics of viral infections indicative of a lineage's history. If a organism, which has ERVs, reproduces, its offsprings will have the same ERV in its genome.

If common descent is fact, we should find that humans should share ERVs with our ape relatives. Not only that, the ERV insertions should be at the same locations in our genomes when compared to our ape relatives. This is exactly what we find.

Learn more from this video:

If Creationism attempts to address this data, it just seems plain odd if not outright stupid. God, in his infinite wisdom, infected apes with the SAME retrovirus such that they all insert their ERV at the SAME exact location in the genome? That's sure some "wisdom".

Geological Record
The geological record shows a progressive change in species around at the time. Different organisms present in different rock stratas. In the earliest rocks with fossils, we find single celled organisms. Going up the strata, we find more complex multicellular organisms begining with fish. After fish, we have "fish-apods", fish with tetrapod-like features. Then we have recognizable amphibians, followed by lots of reptiles (namely dinosaurs). Dinosaurs suddenly disappears from the geological record, then we have mammals diversifying as well as birds.

If Creationism was right at all, we shouldn't even see the geological record let alone the geological progression of fossils.

Transitional fossils in the record grants weight to evolution's claims. The transitional forms can be predicted by the theory of evolution. For example, if common descent is true, we should find transitional forms depicting the transition from water to land. Not only that there should be such an animal, we should be able to find them in a specific time and specific rocks. This is dramatically illustrated by the discovery of Tiktaalik.

One unusual claim by creationists is that these fossils are god's previous creations. Funny, why did god specifically created transitional forms that conform to the theory of evolution? Why no other animal hybrids, say, like the crocoduck? No bird-fish? No mammal-insect?

The Noah Ark's story doesn't account for the data as well. Check out the following video:

It's not really Evolution Vs Creationism. It's Evidence Vs Creationism. Evidence wins of course.

Christianity - NonStampCollector Style

Here's NonStampCollector latest video - The Great Debate. And it's nice coincidence. The video is related to the Fine Tuning Argument and it points out to a leap of faith that is typically made by theists. This one is not related to the entry title though.

Another great video that I posted here previously is "What would Jesus NOT do?"

Here's a nice little poem - Ode to Yahweh

And here's some other videos worthy of attention.

Free will - God Style
Part 1 - A gift?
Part 2 - Responding to Christians
Part 3 - Finale

Yahweh's Perfect Justice
Part 1 - Sticks and Stoning
Part 2 - Rape

The Central Absurdity
Forgiveness, Grace and God's Death Sentence

God is the short form for...
The thing that made the things for which there is no known maker.

Modern Christianity
Jesus and the Interpreter

Fine Tuning, wuh?

The Fine Tuning Argument. The argument that argues that the universe's physical constants must have been "fine tuned" for the existence of life and, in particular, humanity.

I'm going to lump the religious version of the Anthropic Principle into this argument because the basic concept is the same - Everything in the universe is the way it is because it's fine tuned specifically for our existence.

Fine tuned by who/what? God, they argue.

I reject this notion on the grounds that the concept is based on a biased premise which is basically an egocentric idea.

Disgustingly Anthropocentric
The fine tuning argument is bursting at its seams with anthropocentrism.

On the basis that the combination of physical constants is too improbable and other combination is alleged to render human existence impossible, the Fine Tuning argument concludes that a god must have had fine tuned the constants for life and humanity to exist.

As for the anthropic principle, it puts forth that numerous variables that must be the way they are in the current universe we live in order for us to exist and persist. A frequently used example is the fact that our planet Earth sits in the habitable zone which enables life to exist and flourish.

In all examples, there is an unstated assumption - humanity is the intended result.

To illustrate the point, we'll use a deck of cards as an example. We will draw four cards. Also, we also want to note that certain combinations are significantly special to us - 4 Aces, Sequential cards of the same colour, etc. When we draw 4 Aces, we might feel "Wow, I'm so lucky." If we were to draw a Two of Clubs, a Five of Spades, Six of Diamonds and a Queen of Hearts, we don't find that it is of any significance except of bad luck.

Here's the point. However insignificant the combo we had, it is still as improbable as the combo of, say, 4 Aces. Mathematically, it can shown that the probablilities is the same. The difference being which combo do we assign significance to.

However improbable our combination of physical constants or variables in our world is, it is as improbable as any other possible universes. The improbability is not an argument for the necessity of god.

The argument was made because of the significance we placed on ourselves. It's a good thing to value our existence but it is not an argument for god.

The Improbability and Fine Tuning
To an extent, the improbability is a non-issue. Basically, the point is: Improbable ≠ Impossible.

To account for the improbability of, say, the emergence of life, simply invoking large numbers solves the problem. Given that we know some criteria that a planet must fulfill before life can arise, for example, lying in the habitable zone of the star. We know that the universe is huge, with lots of stars where planets orbit, of which some will undoubtedly lie within the habitable zone. However improbable the event, it will occur given the chance and luck.

For people who accepted the theory of evolution, the idea of fine-tuning/design seems out of place completely. The environment need not be fine tuned for the existence and persistence of life - the reverse is true, life adapted itself to fit the environment.

Videos with related content:
Why do people laugh at creationists? - Part 8
Why do people laugh at creationists? - Part 9

Evident in Religions
Understanding the Big Bang theory and the Theory of Evolution, in my opinion, does do some severe damage to the credibility of religions in general.

The anthropocentrism in religion is extremely obvious - Jesus died for you; God made the heavens and the earth for his creation; Humans are the pinnacle of god's creation, etc.

Ancient Man were so egocentric about humanity in general that even the gods they invented had to have humanity on the pedestal of creation - it always boils down to the idea that everything was made with humanity in mind one way or the other.

Shoving God into the Gaps
As humanity utilize Science to understand the universe better, god is frequently relegated to the gaps of our knowledge.

Wow, it's too improbable? Goddidit!

God guided the evolution to produce us eventually.

Abiogenesis must have been jump started with some god magic.

Who caused the Big Bang? Must have been god.

I find these comments laughable, if not tragic.

If we take what we understood so far and shove god into the unknown, an unusual picture of god emerges. Let's see......

Between the beginning with Big Bang and the formation of the Earth spans, (13.7 - 4.6), about 9 billion years. All the while, god sits his transcendent arse on his incorporeal throne as he waits for stars to go off in supernovas to produce the higher elements from stellar nucleosynthesis.

Since we're touching on the timeline, check out the entry: God's Timeline at Pharyngula.

Eventually, in some corner of the universe, in the Milky Way, in the Solar System, Earth is beginning to take shape. Then god allegedly jump starts abiogenesis. After that he guides evolution for 3 billion years or so (where for most of the time, life is all single celled organisms) to eventually produce his "pinnacle of creation."

I love this part - in the case of Christianity (after distortion to fit the facts), god goes to Earth to forgive us, by sacrificing himself to himself, for the original sin which was never commited.

Okay, some believers is going to think I'm being an arse - Too bad. The point is, shoving god into gaps doesn't quite help.

Not to mention, invoking god is historically futile: See an earlier post.

I haven't covered everything, neither do I claim to have properly rebutted the argument. So meanwhile, check out other objections to the Fine Tuning Argument and the Anthropic Principle at the Iron Chariots Wiki.

I kid you not!

I was in discussion with christian who thinks that the bible "did not make a mistake on the issue" about the solar system being heliocentric/geocentric.

So, I replied with the following [Post #106]

But of course! The bible cannot be wrong - It's the big book of multiple choice.

You want geocentric universe? Supported by the bible.

You want heliocentric universe? Supported by the bible.

It's the reason behind why modern christians can say that the bible wasn't wrong but their predecessors are wrong.

[I quoted Wikipedia where it mentions that the Church was against Copernicus and Galileo because their theories were against the "Holy Scripture".]

The Power of the Holy Book of MCQ - It supports anything you want as long you search hard enough.

I kid you not - he replied with the following.

Hehe... and did you even wonder why Bible is infallible like what you said, it supports anything as long as you search hard enough. Can ordinary men even come up with such a book???

Lesson of the day:
Only god could have come up with such a contradictory book that can support any position due to its ambiguity.

Praise Yahweh! Praise Jesus!