A little something from Youtube

Just some interesting videos from Youtube for this update. Here's one from Mr. Deity


And here's two from DarkMatter2525, a little something with Christmas:

And a little something on the original sin:

Atheist Census

The Atheist Alliance International has launched the Atheist Census.

Be counted! Join the event.

Sex, Death And The Meaning Of Life

Richard Dawkins has a new series documentary. To date, 3 episodes have aired and someone has uploaded them on Youtube.

The episodes are availiable on this playlist.

Evolution (AronRa)

I frequently refer to AronRa's Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism series. And for some reason, I remembered the couple of evolution information heavy ones as the bulk of the series rather than just a part.

So, I rewatched them to set that straight. From the playlist: Foundational Falsehood of Creationism,

8th FFoC: On mutations and "information". This video explains mutations and creationist misconception of related concepts. Some interesting information on beneficial human mutations.

9th FFoC: Transitional species. This one explains transitional forms.

10th FFoC: Introductory primer to cladistic phylogenetics. Two words: FUCKING AWESOME (to me anyways). The video attempts to condense that particular set of evidence for common ancestry.

11th FFoC: This one deals with creationist misconceptions about speciation. Helpful to understanding common ancestry.

The other parts are great too. But they deal specifically with other creationist misconceptions/lies/fallacies; they are lighter on information on evolution.

For stuff on evolution by Aronra, they are consolidated in this playlist.

Evolution (QualiaSoup)

QualiaSoup uploaded a new version of his "Evolution" video.

Substance Dualism

Here's some freshly made QualiaSoup for you: Substance Dualism.

Videos on Evolution

In light of recent "discussion" on evolution, here's a video series worth watching.

It discusses 3 of the evidence for evolution in ourselves: our Chromosome 2 history, the Vitamin C pseudogene, endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). The last 2 videos deals what is not and is a missing link with cool examples.

Click here to see playlist page.

Replying to Singaporean Creationists

4 days ago, a creationist letter was published in the Voices section of TODAY. I was going to write a blog post for it but it was literally rehashing common creationist misconceptions of evolution -- boring shit.

The letter is: Creationism still part of the evolution debate -- reposted in full below (since I don't know if TODAY's online articles stays online).

I refer to the commentary "Theory of evolution in crisis - and it's a good thing" (Sept 7). There are problems with the idea that creationism has never posed an intellectual challenge to evolutionary thinking.

First, creationists do not pose a threat to scientific thinking. The founders of modern science and many modern scientists are creationists who study an orderly, non-random universe.

Dr Marc Kirschner of Harvard Medical School has remarked that almost all of biology over the last 100 years has proceeded independent of evolution.

In fact, evolution hinders medical discovery. The writer himself highlighted the crisis in traditional evolutionary thinking, which has been so dogmatic as to not even consider creationism as a viable option.

Whilst science comprises experimental and historical types, the issue of beginnings and the past falls within the latter and should not be accorded the same authority as the former.

Natural selection and mutation do not equate to evolution.

The former is a principle also recognised by creationists. It might explain the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest. One cannot modify a Mr Potato Head into a GI Joe.

How do genes "move" in sexual reproduction in higher animals? Do we presume that once moved, they can just be "absorbed"?

Does the recipient genome have the machinery or resources to process the "absorbed" gene?

The idea of two bacteria forming the first eukaryotic cell (the more complex cell type found in multicellular animals) is speculation.

There are many questions for evolutionists:

How did life originate? Even if every atom in the universe were an experiment, with all the correct amino acids present for every possible molecular vibration in the supposed long age of the universe, not one average-sized functional protein would have formed.

So how did bacteria form? How did the DNA code, biochemical pathways, multicellular life and gender all originate?

There are more fundamental questions: From where do natural laws come? From where does logic come? These are non-material stuff but often taken for granted.

A quick summary of the letter (in paragraphs): introduction; trivial; quote-mine; false, projection; false; misconception; expression of incredulity; expression of lack of study; expression of lack of study; lack of understanding of scientific terms; creationist "probabilities"; expression of lack of study; irrelevant, logic fail.

Fortunately, two awesome letters have been published in response to the truckload of "creationism".

One from the fine professors of our NTU School of Biological Sciences: Profs respond to debate on evolution, creationism

The letter "Creationism still part of the evolution debate" (Sept 28) reproduces some misunderstandings of the theory of evolution. Some fundamentals should be emphasised for the record.

The evolution of new species from pre-existing species is recognised as a fact, not a conjecture, by a great many scientists due to abundant, robust and mutually supporting evidence from multiple fields of science, and the absence of findings to the contrary.

We use the term "theory" in the scientific sense: We are certain that evolution has generated all life on Earth.

Our current inability to explain every detail of its processes does not disprove evolution, just as gravity cannot be denied despite an inability to explain fully how it works.

Disagreements on these details do not imply that the theory is shaky. To the contrary, disagreement between scientists in any field is the norm, the necessary outcome of vigorous inquiry and an impetus to refine our knowledge through further investigation.

For the broader review this question deserves, we refer interested readers to Science and Creationism, and Science, Evolution and Creationism from the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in the United States.

Both documents are free for downloading. We also recommend the book Why Evolution is True, the related blog by Professor Jerry A Coyne and many other books on the subject.

That addressed mostly the lack of understanding for scientific method, terms and process.

Thank you professors.

The other letter is from the Humanist Society (Singapore): Creationism yet to earn intellectual spurs

We refer to Dr Luke Tan's letter "Creationism still part of the evolution debate" (Sept 28). Several Humanist Society (Singapore) members read with alarm Dr Tan's claims about evolution, and creationism as its intellectual challenge in modern biology.

Evolution is the unifying theory of biology. So, it was surprising to read the assertion that Harvard Medical School's Mark Kirschner claimed that evolution had played only a minor role in the last 100 years of biology.

We contacted Dr Kirschner for verification and, as it turned out, his quote, taken from a Boston Globe article in 2005, was a lament that evolution has not been a more integral part of biology. Also, he noted that "broadening the inquiry into evolution beyond natural history and population genetics only adds more evidence for evolution and explains more of the mechanistic transitions".

"We thought of that because the molecular, cellular and developmental insights very much increase our appreciation and confidence in evolution."

While Dr Tan's letter rehashes several misconceptions, there is no scientific debate over evolution's validity. The wealth of experimental and observational evidence in its favour is astounding; the only objections to evolution are theological.

The theory of evolution accounts for the origins of species, not life, as he implied. To claim evolutionary biologists have been dogmatically rejecting creationism as a viable option is to suggest creationists have been putting forth viable evidence to no avail.

There is no international conspiracy spanning two centuries; there is just no evidence. The theory of evolution is part of an experimental science: Biology. The experimental-historical boundary that he perceived is artificial.

Even if the theory of evolution is overturned, however unlikely that may be, creationism will not become the default explanation for the origin of species. It must earn the title of intellectual challenger on its evidential merits.

HSS' letter addresses the quote mined statement of  Dr Kirschner and directly points out that creationism does not contribute to our knowledge AT ALL even if the theory evolution is false.

For those who are actually interested in learning, here's my recommendations.

Berkeley has some resources on Evolution 101 and the Scientific Method.

If you like textbooks, there are 3 sample chapters from Mark Ridley's Evolution available online

And if you're a creationist who got most/all of your information from church, I don't know how to put it nicely... you've probably been thoroughly misinformed. In which case, do watch this playlist of AronRa's videos. I can assure you this does not attack the belief in god -- it only attacks the lies that some unscrupulous men of god like to tell.

If videos ain't your thing, do check out TalkOrigins' Index of Creationist Claims. If you heard it from creationists, it's there. They also have a couple of other pages worth seeing.

Stay smart. Be well informed.

I'm with Atheism+

Before I begin describing Atheism+, let's look at what the atheism movement (also called the New Atheism) has been about.

1. Destigmatization of atheists/atheism

2. Separation of Church and State (Secularism)

3. Antireligion & antitheism

4. Humanism (Social justice issues - women's rights, LGBT rights etc)

5. Skepticism and promotion of Science & Reason

Note that these stances are not derived from mere "dictionary" atheism, ie the lack of belief in the existence of god(s). This shouldn't be an issue at all.

Atheists in the atheist movement may focus on different aspects -- some are apathetic to certain stances or even opposed to them. For example, some atheists may be for (1), (2), (3), (5) but against (4) because they're misognistic or homophobic. To be sure, they ARE atheists but they certainly are not with Atheism+.

Atheism+ is essentially a rallying label -- a subset of atheists who are on board with ALL 5 stances and want to be active in the movement. In particular, the (4) is the main driver for this new rallying point -- a call to work towards repairing the damage done by religion in the social sphere.

Why not call yourself a Secular Humanist?
I am.

Secular Humanism is on board with stances (1), (2), (4), (5) but not (3). Traditionally, Secular Humanist organizations are hesitant on the antitheistic-antireligion front -- preferring to stay friendly with non-extremist religious groups. Their primary focus tend to be with (2), (4) and (5).

This I am not so enthusiastic about. I am an antitheistic-antireligious Secular Humanist. If their organizations won't be a platform for those views then I'll have to find one. And that would be Atheism+.

Also, about theistic-atheistic Skeptics divide...
And like the Secular Humanists, the skeptical organizations also tend to be of the same nature -- avoiding hostility with theistic factions.

Honestly, I, for one, do not think that a theist is a skeptic. A theist can be skeptical -- but cannot be said to be a skeptic if he/she is not applying skepticism to ALL claims including the theistic claims they accept without good evidence.

With both the Secular humanists and skeptics pussyfooting in the realm of antitheism and antireligion, the humanistic-skeptic-atheists need their own platform -- and that would be Atheism+.

Is Atheism+ divisive?
I don't think so. I'm not sure how it can be.

To be sure, we're not redefining atheism. If you don't believe in god(s), you're an atheist -- nothing to do with the 5 stances. That's why there's a "+" -- it signifies "in addition to" as in 5 stances in addition being just an atheist.

Is it a "schism"? Nope. Not really. Prior to the label, there has always been atheists who may or may not be on board with all 5 stances within the movement. That didn't cause a divide. Now there's a label to rally those that are on board with all 5 stances to do some work/activism. If having different interests/focus qualifies as a schism, then yea -- but I couldn't care for that sort of wordplay.

I'll put it this way. I have always been an Atheist+. There just wasn't the label.

If you like listening podcasts, consider checking out the Godless Bitches podcast done with Greta Christina at the AAA national convention on this topic.

How "unfettered"?

Oh dear. It seems that my Singapore doesn't seem to see the difference between criticism and hate speech.

Channel News Asia has this article:

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said freedom of expression does not mean that one has unfettered rights to insult and denigrate another's religion or race.

Rather, this freedom must be safeguarded through mutual respect of the views and beliefs of others.

Commenting on the film "Innocence of Muslims", Mr Teo said in a statement that it is also wrong and counterproductive to respond to this inflammatory and offensive film with violence.

Mr Teo said he is confident that Singaporeans will react to this film in the same rational and calm manner as they have done previously.

He added that "we should not let events overseas undermine the peaceful and harmonious relationships built up over the years in Singapore". 

I'm pretty sure I disagree (the comment on freedom of expression).

See the following two statements:

"Religious group X are human garbage / should all be shot dead / do not deserve equal rights."

"Religious group Y beliefs are factually wrong / evidentially unsupported / just ridiculous."

The law might justifiably come down against the former sort of statements. However, the latter should be "unfettered". It's the difference between hate speech and criticism -- and freedom of religion does not exempt one from criticism. You do not have the right to not be offended.

Ideally, sane people would never go so far as to riot and kill over being "offended". Yet, religious people do. The right thing to do is to jail the rioters -- not impinge on freedom of expression. Offensive speech would be regulated at a social level -- not legally.

The Violent Religion of Peace

A scourge of protests spread across the world, the Middle East in particular, over an amateurish anti-Islamic film. At the time of writing, the film is still available on Youtube (Yay Youtube!).

The Guardian has a summary + timeline of the events here.

Here are some excerpts of a news report by the Washington Post on the extent of the damage done by these protesters.

CAIRO — Angry protests over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world Friday, with demonstrators scaling the walls of U.S. embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, torching part of a German embassy and clashing with police in violence that left at least four dead. 

It was a dramatic expansion of protests that began earlier this week and saw assaults on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Yemen and the storming of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Several thousand battled with Tunisian security forces outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis... Some protesters scaled the embassy wall and stood on top of it, planting the Islamist flag that has become a symbol of the wave of protests: A black banner with the Islamic profession of faith, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”

Police chased them off the wall and took the flag down. Two protesters were killed and 29 people were wounded, including police.

Soon after, several hundred Sudanese stormed into the German Embassy, setting part of an embassy building aflame along with trash bins and a parked car. Protesters danced and celebrated around the burning barrels as palls of black smoke billowed into the sky...

Gunmen waving the black Islamist banner and shouting “God is great” stormed into the base, firing automatic weapons. They set fire to vehicles and battled with peacekeepers inside...

Four Colombian peacekeepers were wounded and were evacuated to Israel.

Elsewhere, one protester was killed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in clashes with security forces, after a crowd of protesters set fire to a KFC and a Hardee’s restaurant. Protesters hurled stones and glass at police in a furious melee that left 25 people wounded, 18 of them police.
A day earlier, hundreds of protesters chanting “death to America” stormed the embassy compound in Sanaa and burned the American flag. Four protesters were killed and 38 people wounded in that incident when police tried to clear the crowd, the Interior Ministry said Friday. The embassy said no staff was harmed.

My thoughts on this? It's nuts. IT IS FUCKING NUTS.

It is one thing to express your dislike or disagreement of something that "offends" you; That's exercising your freedom of expression. But, my gosh, it's a whole other thing to harm people and destroy property because you're offended.

And no, just because it's religious sensibilities that are being offended doesn't excuse such unhinged behavior.

The fault is wholly and squarely on the Muslim rioters. There is no blood on the video producer's hands.

It should be made clear that if there is an attempt to censor the video, it should be made because we're dealing with a bunch of religious primates and not because the video is "offensive to religious sensitivities".


Brilliant video on secularism by QualiaSoup.

A more personal response

This speaks not just my mind but my "heart" as well. Brilliant.


A beautiful, brilliant video titled "Afterlife" by TheThinkingAtheist with contributions by Matt Dillahunty of AETV, AronRa, Darkmatter2525, DPRJones, Evid3nc3, Healthyaddict, Lacigreen, Thunderf00t and ZOMGitscriss.

Fath is not a virtue

AronRa uploaded his speech at a university on the topic of faith followed by a 30-minute Q&A session.

Watching the first half of the Q&A segment, I felt that AronRa could have said more to address the bulk of the 2 girls' comments. They repeatedly asked why was it necessary for atheists to mock Christians and their beliefs. AronRa only briefly answered that issue by only stating he was attacking the belief system and not the person who is subscribed to the system.

That's true. But to further make the point, an appropriate retort would be to ask why not? Why shouldn't ridiculous, baseless, outdated, sometimes even vile nonsensical beliefs be mocked, religious or not? Moreover, those beliefs affect the world in negative ways -- serving as yet more incentive to be disabuse people of such beliefs.

One last thing -- one of the girl said that the Bible didn't support slavery. Hi-fucking-larious. I wonder what sort of apologymnastics one must execute to get that interpretation.

Lawrence Krauss (Imagine No Religion 2)

If you haven't seen the "Something from Nothing" lecture by Lawrence Krauss, here's one from the Imagine No Religion 2 conference. And it's done somewhat differently from the usual version he gave previously.

We stopped dreaming

These videos are made with audio quotes from Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the NASA budget cuts. I'm obviously not American but the core message applies everywhere -- it's worth a listen.

Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett

Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett in conversation, 9 May 2012.

Meh. So videos

4 weeks since my previous blog post. I've got nothing in particular to say. So here's some new videos from this past month worth a watch.

QualiaSoup finally has a new video out on the burden of proof. Superb as usual.

TheraminTrees also has 2 video parts on the topic of death. Beautifully made.

Creationist Crap (in Singapore)

The church is doling out lies (as usual). And this one is about anti-scientific misinformation. The following image is taken from outside St Andrew's Cathedral in... Singapore. Yes, American creationist crap on display at an Anglican church in Singapore.

I'll ignore the large chunk of text that constitute the bottom half of the poster. If you want to believe the words of a compilation of books written by unknown authors, probably altered by innumerable scribes through the ages, about stories transmitted orally for centuries by a Bronze Age tribe of desert nomads who have no scientific knowledge whatsoever, that's your thing. I don't think that is prudent to say the least. But if you want to call it your holy text, whatever.

I take issue with the top half, just three line stating:

The Theory of Evolution is false!
Even science has discovered that.
Human beings are not descended from apes.

False. Lie. Trivially true.


The Theory of Evolution is false!

Wrong. That's one of the stupidest thing anyone can state about biology.

The Theory of Evolution is one of strongest scientific theories around. Some would even argue that it's the strongest theory we have. Every piece of evidence gathered thus far are in agreement with the theory. In addition, the Fact of Evolution is not in dispute at all; Biologists may be working on the details in the theory but no sane scientist would challenge the Fact itself.

So, if you believe that the theory of evolution is false, go get educated. Seriously.

Check out:
Evolution 101
The Scientific Case for Common Descent

And if you prefer videos, check out my playlists:
The Collapse of ID (Kenneth Miller lecture)
Evidence for Evolution
Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism (Content-heavy Youtube series)
Intelligent Design on Trial (Nova Documentary)
The Genius of Charles Darwin (BBC Documentary)


Even science has discovered that.

Wrong. Again. The theory of evolution is accepted amongst scientists in general. But more importantly, accepted by biologists.

By the way, a few fringe biologists and non-biological scientists dissenting does not demonstrate the rejection of the theory. I hope this doesn't require explanation.

Regarding the scientific consensus, the Wikipedia has a rather comprehensive article on the issue. Check that out. The National Center for Science Education (USA) has some information on the scientific consensus as well.


Human beings are not descended from apes.

Only trivially true. Because, while we didn't descend from modern apes, we ARE apes.

If "apes" in that statement is taken to mean "modern great apes", then yes, we cannot have evolved from modern animals. That makes no sense. The theory of evolution does NOT make such a obviously false claim.

However, we DID evolve from a common ancestor that we share with Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Gorillas and  etc. It makes sense to call the common ancestor an ape since it would have the characteristics of one. In that sense, we ARE descended from apes.

This video should shed some light on how this is the case.

To end off, I want to say that it is arguably fine and dandy for creationists to hold their religious beliefs about the origins of humanity. Freedom of religious belief is granted in Singapore. However, if you cross the boundary and make factual claims about reality, then be assured that there will be people  to call you out on your lies.

Additionally, making something a matter of faith does not render it immune to rational criticism. If a religion were to claim that 2+2=5 on the basis of their religious faith, they would be factually completely WRONG. Similarly, it would be just as wrong to claim that evolution is false.

Science is evidently NOT on the side of creationist religious claims. Evolution is a FACT and the THEORY have overwhelming support from the scientific community. To state the contrary is to LIE (by the way, doesn't that contravene the 9th commandment?).

The Reason Rally

The Reason Rally was held on 24th March 2012 and promoted as the largest gathering of non-believers in the USA to date. Here's a video by TheThinkingAtheist with footage from the event.

And if you wish to be amused by AronRa debating Christian/Creationists on the street at the event, check out the following 32 minute video!

Just a Youtube update

2 new videos! DarkMatter2525 has a new video, "How God Favors Evil".

TrustingDoubt uploadedthe final video for her series "God's Emotions".

Excavating the Empty Tomb

Here's a Youtube channel I subscribed to recently: TruthSurge. His series, Excavating the Empty Tomb (beyond a reasonable doubt), explores New Testament criticism.

The first 9 parts of the series, consisting of 10 videos, presents the case by Dennis MacDonald. He proposes that the Gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel, is actually a piece of fiction that draws upon the Homeric Epics. This case however is not the mainstream view of biblical scholars.

The latter parts of the series, currently consisting 5 videos, moves onto mainstream biblical criticisms. So if you're interested in what biblical scholars think about the reliability of the New Testament, you might want to check this out.

The following embedded video is Part 11A which presents some evidence that suggest that the author of what is called the Gospel of Matthew was fabricating history, not recording it.

Pulling Jesus out of FHM

In an act of deference to religious hypersensitivity, FHM Singapore is pulling its latest issue off the shelves because of two articles that were described as "highly objectionable and deplorable" by the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS).

TODAYonline reports in the article "FHM pulled off selves, editor apologises":

SINGAPORE - The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) has sharply criticised two articles published in the latest edition of FHM Singapore, describing them as "highly objectionable and deplorable". The criticism prompted an immediate apology from the senior editor of the men's magazine and the removal of the publication from newsstands islandwide.

In a statement yesterday, the council, which represents more than 150 churches across denominations, said the articles "make fun of the Lord Jesus Christ". The statement, signed by NCCS president Bishop Dr Robert Solomon and its three vice-presidents, added: "These articles appear during the holy season of Lent when Christians remember the sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and they cause serious offence and hurt the sensitivities of the Christian community."

The NCCS also urged the authorities to "look into the matter and ensure the material in question is removed", adding that "such offensive articles threaten the religious harmony that we work so hard to build and maintain".

Noting that it has become "fashionable" to depict religions in the media in ways that are offensive to religious communities, the council urged that "society must be on guard against such trends". FHM Singapore is a title produced by MediaCorp Publishing. The articles in question were entitled "Which of These Celebs Might Secretly be Jesus?" and "Jesus 2.0: What can we expect?".

When contacted, FHM Singapore senior editor David Fuhrmann-Lim said: "We would like to apologise for any offence caused ... We are always sensitive to people's religions and beliefs, and while the article was written with a tongue-in-cheek humour, we do realise now it was not done in the best taste or judgment. We will certainly be more mindful of such sensitive issues in the future."

"Furthermore, we will immediately remove all copies on sale in the newsstands; this process should be completed in the next two days," he added.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the industry regulator Media Development Authority said: "We are investigating this complaint for a possible breach of our content guidelines for publications."

Let's see what do we have here. We have religious hypersensitivity being used to justify censorship. We have religious folk who don't differentiate between humor and malice. We have a business kowtowing to religious bullies. We have the same meaningless "FOR religious harmony!" rhetoric being employed. We have the authorities being invoked to possibly penalize the expression of unpopular speech.

On a side note, why are these good Christian folks reading FHM? Oh wait. My bad. All their sins are forgiven so what would a little lusting hurt anyways. Duh.

Back to the topic; There's really not much left to talk about. This nonsense is small compared to the bigger nonsense that is our social-legal environment here. Religions are accorded undue respect and influence on our freedom of speech here in Singapore. There is no reason why such humor should be censored because some religious folks are "offended" that not everyone has nice things to say about their sacred stuff.

Imagine if the Prophet Muhammad was depicted instead. Given the climate in Singapore, I'll be surprised if no one was prosecuted under the Sedition Act. Yet, it should be allowed just as FHM shouldn't be censored. But then again, the authorities would simply give in to religious pressure because those religious folks might riot over such inane offense.

Singapore. Where we wuss out to religious hypersensitivity.

Atheist AND Agnostic

Apparently, Ricard Dawkins admitting that he is agnostic is news. Holy crap, who knew? [/sarcasm]

The Daily Mail Online has this breathtakingly stupid article titled: "'I can't be sure God DOES NOT exist': World's most notorious atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is in fact agnostic"

Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist - admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can't prove God doesn't exist.

The country's foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This is NOT news. Not especially when the same book, The God Delusion, that propelled Prof. Dawkins to becoming the "world's most nototrious atheist" also has him describing himself as a 6.9 atheist on his own scale. So if anybody was stunned then it's obvious none of them knew what Prof. Dawkins actually said about himself.

So let's go over the distinction between Atheism and Agnosticism that I've gone over before.

Theism and Atheism: Theists believe the claim that there is/are god(s) and an atheist rejects the claim. A gnostic has knowledge of god(s) and an agnostic has no such knowledge.

These 2 definitions permit for 4 permutations: gnostic theist, agnostic theist, gnostic atheist and agnostic atheist.

Check out Wikipedia articles on Atheism and Agnosticism

Weak & Strong Atheism & Agnosticism: The atheist and agnostic can be distinguished further between weak and strong versions.

A weak atheist only rejects the theistic claim of the existence of god(s) while a strong atheist not only rejects but also makes a positive claim of the non-existence of god(s).

A strong agnostic holds the view that the knowledge about the existence of non-existence of god(s) is unobtainable. A weak agnostic holds the view that such knowledge have not been acquired but still possible to acquire.

These sub categories allow for what is the position of most atheists: weak agnostic weak atheist (the agnostic atheist). In general, atheists who ask for scientifically valid evidence for the existence of god(s) holds that position. Science do not have absolute knowledge; a position based on scientific evidence do not permit the strong position for either atheism or agnosticism.

This is also what Prof. Dawkins has indicated is his position. He does not absolutely know there are no gods (weak agnosticism) and he believes the evidence does not support the claim that there are god(s) (weak atheism).

Referring to the scale used in the God Delusion, Prof. Dawkins melts the two scales together. This gives a skewed scale where only the two extreme ends (1 and 7) are the strong positions for theism/atheism and gnosticism/agnosticism. The middle (4) is the agnostic who knows shit about probabilities. And everywhere in between is the weak positions. Prof Dawkins indicates that he's a 6.9 which means he's an agnostic atheist with such confidence that he borders on holding the strong position.

What's so damn new about that?

Religious Non-harmony

Okay. I mentioned it before: I don't actually think that harmony between religions is ever possible. Unless religions somehow stay completely outside social interactions, harmony will break soon or later.

Religions make assertions about the world. Different religions make contradictory assertions. These assertions inform the beliefs which in turn inform actions. Actions have consequences -- and in the case of actions based on opposing beliefs, the consequence is frequently conflict.

That's a simplified way of explaining why religious harmony is ultimately not possible unless all religions agree (in which case there is only one religion) or one religion takes over the world by brute force and silences all dissenting opinion. The third option is for everyone to recognize that all religions are false and skip requiring "religious harmony" altogether.

And now onto a little viewpoint published in the Straits Times (ST Forum online):

'Learn to have an open, mature discussion without getting worked up.'

MR MICHAEL ANG: 'To strengthen racial harmony, Christian evangelists need a less intrusive method of spreading their message, while Singaporeans should learn to have an open, mature discussion of major religious differences without getting all worked up ('Christian group says sorry for remarks'; last Friday). Religious harmony can be better solidified, not through finding similarities among the major religions in Singapore but through understanding one another's deep doctrinal differences. As much as non-Christians should refrain from branding every form of Christian evangelism as undesirable proselytising, Christians should spread Christ's message without pestering non-believers to follow the religion. Such an evangelistic approach would, hopefully, help to reduce any disruption to Singapore's religious harmony.'

I can see how people may think that is fine and dandy. Sounds pleasant, doesn't it? A call for more or better religious harmony. So nice and sensible.

I actually think it's rather vacuous. Sorta missing the point a little as well.

Let's take a look line by line.

To strengthen racial harmony, Christian evangelists need a less intrusive method of spreading their message,

"Don't be a dick when spreading the word of god"; Sounds reasonable.

Might work with non-believers who believe in debate and discussion and would peacefully discuss about the evidence that bears on the question of whether your religion is true.

What about a religious believer who believes in his own religion being the one true religion, that non-believers are damned to hell and should ideally be killed if they so dare spread lies (false religions)?

Those are extreme of course. But what about those in between? Some may think it's okay but others might think it's plain offensive. Again, "harmony" is likely shattered.

while Singaporeans should learn to have an open, mature discussion of major religious differences without getting all worked up.

This, I thought, downplayed what transpired. Perhaps there were some folks who got worked up because some Christians were proselytizing against Buddhists, but there are other opinions. I'm of the opinion that asserting that non-believers of your religion can't possibly be happy (expressed in the poster) is plain bigotry.

I don't care what religion or non-religion you belong to. If that's your position then you're an asshole. Even atheists don't claim religious people can't be happy because they're religious. Barring perhaps brain/emotion experts, who the fuck are you to say that?

Religious harmony can be better solidified, not through finding similarities among the major religions in Singapore but through understanding one another's deep doctrinal differences.

I'm not too sure what's this supposed to mean. Understanding differences? Probably. But you probably won't be religious as well then.

I submit that if one were to actually understand what and how differences between religious doctrines come about, one would deconvert and be an atheist. I doubt anyone who studies comparative religion would still proselytize for a single religion with evangelistic fervor.

As much as non-Christians should refrain from branding every form of Christian evangelism as undesirable proselytising, 

Again, it's not the method that drew the attention, it's the message. Bigoted beliefs are undesirable regardless of the method used to spread.

Christians should spread Christ's message without pestering non-believers to follow the religion. Such an evangelistic approach would, hopefully, help to reduce any disruption to Singapore's religious harmony.

Yea, sure. I'd like to see how that happens without evidence on any religion's side.

Until the majority of Singaporeans realize that there is and never was any evidence for any religion and therefore abandon their vacuous beliefs, I find it difficult to envision "religious harmony" with all the religions running around thinking that they have the truth.

NUS Crusaders' Not-pology

Just a day after a photo of its poster spread virally over the social networks, the NUS Campus Crusade for Christ took the posters down and issued an apology. The Straits Times online article reports:

A Christian student group at the National University of Singapore (NUS) apologised on Thursday for making insensitive remarks about Buddhists and Muslims.

The NUS Campus Crusade for Christ, made up of 80 to 100 students, posted an apology on its Facebook page for remarks made on its website and on posters it put up on campus benches on Wednesday.

The university also apologised on Thursday. The Ministry of Home Affairs, which is looking into the incident, said that while people are free to propagate their religion, it should not be done by insulting or denigrating other religions.

The Christian group's posters promoting a mission trip to Thailand said that the country, known as The Land of Smiles, was actually 'a place of little true joy'.

The NUS Campus Crusade for Christ has the following apology on their Facebook wall:

Dear Netizens,

We humbly apologize for the distress we have caused you through the poster of ours that has gone viral online. We recognize that our choice of words used should have been more sensitive and tactful. We acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and it is definitely not our intention to force anyone to believe in what we do.

We have since removed our posters and websites, and will be watchful of future actions. Thank you for your understanding and our deepest apologies again for the distress that this incident has caused you.

With sincere apologies,
On behalf of NUS Campus Crusade

What's the poster that caused this explosion of attention on intolerant/bigoted ideas? You can check it out here at YawningBread where there is too an article on this incident.

Now back to the apology. Notice the statement "We recognize that our choice of words used should have been more sensitive and tactful."? There is not an apology for the bigoted idea expressed in the poster. Rather it's apologizing for the tactless way in which it was phrased. Sweet, huh?

Yet, I would consider it typical or, at least, logical that a Christian would endorse the poster. After all, if you sincerely believe that your religion is the ONE TRUE religion and that you can only experience TRUE happiness by following that religion, then that IS what you would say to non-believers of your religion. To  do otherwise would be being inconsistent.

But the thing is, it is a bigoted idea. So there you have all the other religionists jumping in to say that that is intolerant, insensitive or plain wrong. Liberal Christians jump in to say essentially "that's not what our religion is about".

Some people stated that freedom of religion allows for such offensive speech. Others say that religion or not, bigoted ideas are a no-no.

So how does this resolve in Singapore? Combine the two. You have the freedom to have those beliefs but you cannot express them (lest you cause a fracking riot or something).

That is why I have said before: Religious harmony in Singapore is not religions running happily through the green meadows but an uneasy roundtable where a wrong move by any one religion triggers a free for all; "Harmony" is a euphemism for begrudging tolerance here.

The former is what I suspect most people want (but I contend is impossible) but the latter is what Singapore produces. And that is unhealthy for our society -- we're simply waiting for disaster.

This is a wonderful 120 minutes of discussion and Q&A with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss at the Origins Project, ASU (4 Feb 2012). Topics ranged from evolution to cosmology, science & science education, religion and politics.

* Added to this playlist: Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

New Videos and Playlists

TrustingDoubt has uploaded the seventh part of her God's Emotions series which explores Christian concepts of god using affective science.

Youtube Channel update
After updating the layout and phasing out the Favorites section of my Youtube Channel, a couple of new playlists has been added to organize some of the videos retained from the favorites "playlist".

QualiaSoup and TheraminTrees
This playlist contains a majority of QualiaSoup's videos and a handful of TheraminTrees pertaining to topics such as skepticism, science, religion and atheism.

Psychology of Belief
A 10 part series created by AntiCitizenX. It explores how belief is generated and various cognitive biases and how they relate to belief in god(s).

Discovering Religion
This series created by DiscoveringReligion explores creationism, evolution, religious influence on government and morality. As of now, it has 22 episodes.

AronRa Evolution Videos
Aside from his Foundational Falsehood of Creationism series, AronRa has a number of videos pertaining to evolution. Like his series, these videos are content heavy, very interesting and educational.

Evid3nc3 Series: Atheism
A playlist consisting part of Evid3nc3's series that pertains to atheism. Personally, the highlight of the series so far is the video: A History of God.

Animated Arguments
A playlist of videos of standalone animated "arguments" by DarkMatter2525.

"There are no gods"
3 videos, 40 minutes. This is a response series by TheraminTrees addressing concepts of god he once accepted and now rejects.

Old Testament Gods - AETV
3 episodes of the Atheist Experience TV show on the topic of Old Testament gods. Spanning more than 4 hours, Tracie explores the OT pantheon (El, Asherah, etc) with Matt while answering calls intermittently.

Channel Update

Just a note. The Atheozoa Youtube channel has been updated with the new layout format.

As such, the favorite videos section has been phased out (the Favorites playlist is just plain too messy to feature). Also, the new layout removed the "Subscriptions" section and replaced it with the "Featured Channels" section where I have only put up a couple of channels at the moment.

One nice new feature is the "Featured Playlists" section where I've put up the the higher quality video series by several Youtubers.

Do check out the channel at: Channel Atheozoa

Equating Strong with Weak

It is almost as if it is a trend to accuse atheists of strong atheism despite repeated clarification that we generally espoused weak atheism. And I'm not talking about religious fundamentalists -- it's moderates and even freaking "agnostics".

An article by a "Christian agnostic", titled "Atheism: Null Hypothesis on God", makes a similar point. He didn't point fingers but makes a rather explicit indication that the atheists currently in the public forum are strong atheists and that they should be weak atheists if they're reasonable.

The article has the typical misunderstanding of what atheism and agnosticism is.

And that's why I struggle to understand atheism.

Etymologically, atheism has similar Greek roots to agnosticism, coming from the words "a-theos" which means "no God" or "without God." This implies the same kind of certitude that a religious fundamentalist might claim is arguing they "know without any doubt that God exists." Based on what? Either of you? There is no way to prove or disprove the existence of God. Especially when we can't even nail down what exactly it is we're talking about.

Firstly, screw the etymology. That is beside the point. I've seen rather pointless arguments over whether "atheism" means "without belief in gods" or "belief in no gods" when the actual point is whether the atheist is or is not a strong atheist.

Secondly, the common usage of the word "atheism" by atheists who use the label is weak atheism. That is "without belief in god". It is not an assertion that gods do not exist but a rejection of theism.

Third. I am pretty sure that if he have indeed talked to atheists, most would be quite okay, or even happy, to admit that their position is not held with absolute certainty (unlike religious fundamentalists).

Fourth. Disproving god can be done if the said entity explicitly contradicts with observed reality or is logically contradictory.

Fifth. Using vague ass definition of god to argue the case is kinda dishonest. With close to half of the American population subscribing to some form of creationism and a portion of those believing in a god who poofs all of existence into existence with incantations, I don't know what "nailing down" the author is talking about. The nutjobs' gods? We can nail down and dead actually -- they are the most pressing problem we're dealing with.

Now, I'm not a scientist, but it makes perfect sense within this model to have the "null hypothesis" that God doesn't exist.

However, to leap from that to certitude of God's non-existence is to violate the principles of the scientific method, isn't it?

Oh look. Weak atheism is philosophically tenable and strong atheism is too unreasonable.

Gee. Who knew? Fucking old news.

It seems to me, to paraphrase Paul (like Huxley), that we risk becoming that which we hate in staking claims of certainty on either side of this issue. In pushing back primarily against religious fundamentalism, atheism risks embracing the very fundamentalism it resists. And in doing so, it abandons the very principles of science it claims as the basis for non-belief.


I don't know if God exists. You don't know if God doesn't exist. But if scientists can not only coexist on both sides of a hypothesis, but even use that difference to promote progress, it seems we can and should apply similar principles to the public forum.

Is he completely in the dark that atheists generally espouse weak atheism? Or is that an implicit accusation that atheists shouldn't be strong atheists (because he thinks we currently are)?

Either way, that sounds like a very uninformed piece trying to sound educated. Ughhh...

Indonesian beaten and faces jail for his atheism

Once again, bigots in Indonesia and its government are exercising their religious intolerance. An Indonesian civil servant, who created a Facebook page where he discusses his disbelief with other like minded people, was beaten by a mob for posting "God doesn't exist" and now faces jail for "blasphemy".

MSNBC reports:

PADANG, Indonesia -- A 30-year-old Indonesian civil servant who was viciously attacked by a mob after posting on Facebook that "God doesn't exist" is now threatened with jail time for blasphemy.

“He has triggered unrest among local residents," Dharmasraya Police Chief Chairul Aziz told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The man, identified as Alexander, was arrested Friday on charges of blasphemy for his writings on his Facebook page. He had created a Facebook fan page titled Ateis Minang (Minang Atheist) and gained more than 1,238 Facebook "likes" before it was taken down from the social network site, according to the Post.

On his page, Alexander wrote about his Muslim upbringing, how he didn't believe in angels, demons, heaven or hell and how he stopped practicing his faith in 2008, according to media reports. He posted comments regarding the Islamic faith, including "God doesn't exist" and "If God exists, why do bad things happen? There should only be good things if God is merciful."

Aziz said Indonesia's Council of Ulema, the ruling Islamic authority, charged Alexander with defiling Islam by using passages from the Quran to denounce God, The Telegraph reported on Friday.

If convicted of blasphemy, Alexander could face up to five years in prison.

Dozens of residents in his hometown in Pulau Punjung, West Sumatra province, stormed into Alexander's office on Wednesday and carried on their heated debate over religion, police said. Alexander was beaten, including by some of his colleagues.

Dharmasraya Regent Adi Gunawan told the Jakarta Post Alexander he has not taken any action to remove the man from his job on the planning board.

“I will await the legal process and decide later about his employment status,” Adi told the newspaper.

Firstly, this demonstrates one of the reasons for needing a separation of church (in this case, mosque) and state. There should be no laws that discriminate against religious or non-religious persons. The "blasphemy" law is utter nonsense -- an infringement on basic freedom of speech -- wherein blaspheming literally harms no one.

Secondly, this also shows that those bigots worship a little god. Their version of Allah is so helpless that its followers must intervene on his behalf to punish persons who dare use their brain in a skeptical manner. Blasphemy laws do not demonstrate a glorious deity -- they demonstrate a little vain one.

Thirdly, the fact that a mob actually bashed a civil servant for expressing his disbelief on an FB page for atheists is just ludicrous. The intolerance, while expected from a country like Indonesia, is still nonetheless breathtaking. Actually, I'm using the word wrong: It's not intolerance, it's discrimination. Beating someone and legally imprisoning someone for differences in opinion is active discrimination.

This is yet another demonstration why atheists will not ever settle for silence again.

There is NO god. Grow up.

Evid3nc3 and TrustingDoubt

Two new videos has been added. Evid3nc3 continues his long running series with a video addressing the objections to Evidentialism (addressed in the previous video).

TrustingDoubt has yet another interesting video addressing the anthropomorphic god of Abraham from the psychological perspective.