Things Darktremor Finds Absurd

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  1. That "creationism" still exists in this day and age, and is still taken seriously by many, despite evolution being the entire foundation of several sciences that have provided an uncountable number of results in the world (those being biology, psychology, neuroscience, and all subsets of the three), and the indisputable body of evidence supporting Darwin. Special absurdity: that teachers are forced to teach this ridiculous mythology in science classes in schools in the United States, despite there being not a shred of evidence supporting it (although this may have been amended recently, I'm not entirely sure).
  2. That homophobes are not viewed in the same way as racists, despite an enormous body of scientific evidence showing that homosexuals have no more choice over their sexual preference than ethnic minorities have over their race.
  3. That marijuana is illegal, despite the fact that both alcohol and cigarettes are far more dangerous drugs. Especially considering that alcohol can kill you very easily, which marijuana cannot, and that tobacco is one of the most addictive substances in the world (which marijuana is not).
  4. That political policies are still made based on anything but scientific fact.
  5. That people can find religion and faith generally beautiful (I'm not talking about an individual's spirituality here - I mean religion), when the majority of the histories evils, horrors, and atrocities were created by them (a trend that continues to this day, in perhaps a far worse form than they have ever been seen in the past). And it isn't the religious people: it's the religions that convince them that these evil acts are good. I can't even think of one good thing religion has done for the world. Everything good that religion has ever done is secular in nature (ie: a church giving money to cancer is secular in nature): everything based off of the religion is inherently evil. I challenge all who read this to think of one good thing religion has done for us that is not secular in nature.
  6. Stealing a cheap item from a major corporation that won't even notice the loss: 1 year prison. Beating a young child senseless to the point of concussion with a group of 6 other people, taking all of his possessions and leaving him naked and bleeding with multiple broken bones on the side of the road in the middle of winter: 1 month community service. (at least in Canada, this is what always occurs, regardless of what the official law is. I've personally seen it happen at least a dozen times. The fact that it has happened even once is absurd)
  7. Abstinence-only sex education. It's been scientifically proven to cause higher rates of AIDS, STDs, and teen pregnancies than proper sex ed., yet it's still a widely accepted practice.
  8. That torture of suspected terrorists is legal in the United States, despite torture being clinically proven to be highly ineffective.
  9. That neither Canada or the United States has any programs whatsoever to protect abused wives from their husbands after they have taken the kids and left. This commonly results in a long cycle of stalking that often ends in the woman's death.
  10. That anyone can be opposed to animal research. The number of animals killed this way is a microscopic fraction of those killed for meat (less than a percent of a percent), and the kinds of findings this has given humanity are absolutely incredible (just about every medical advance made in the last century, anyone?)
  11. That stem cell research is not fully legalized everywhere. Seriously, these things are the cutting edge of medicine. They could solve a vast number of the most dangerous medical problems in the world today, and people are worried about tiny balls of cells that are going to be discarded anyway? That's right: most unused embryos are SIMPLY THROWN AWAY (or stored beyond their useful limit). But of course, that's the moral thing to do. The fact that any controversy exists here at all is ridiculous.
  12. The diet industry, and their wonderfully successful brainwashing of most North American women:
  13. "Do I look fat?"
  14. "No."
  15. "You hesitated! I can't believe you think I'm fat!"
  16. "I didn't hesitate, I was breathing."
  17. "Oh my God, even my own boyfriend thinks I'm a fat, ugly pig!"
  18. "I don't think you're fat or ugly or a pig, I was seriously just breathing."
  19. "If that was really true, we wouldn't be having this discussion. OH MY GOD I'M SO FAT!!!"
  20. "You're 5'11 and 125 pounds. Your BMI falls into the category of being underweight."
  21. "THEN WHY DID YOU CALL ME FAT?!?!?!?!? I know why, it's because I'm fat!!!"
  22. I've never had this discussion, because I'd dump her on the spot (or actually, I'd just never date her in the first place), but I've overheard it countless times. Thanks for creating a nation of neurotic, self-hating women, diet industry.
  23. That the death penalty is still legal in the United States, despite it being clinically proven to have no deterrant effect on crime.
  24. That people will refuse to change their point of view, even when given irrefutable evidence that they are wrong.
  25. Supporting pointless and detrimental traditions.
  26. Superstition.
  27. That people take astrology seriously, and will base parts of their life around it.
  28. 9-11 conspiracy theorists.
  29. Actually, most conspiracy theorists.
  30. The social stigma against those suffering from mental disorders.
  31. That anyone can think such a pointless shithole of a world was deliberately "created." Would a kind god actually make a world so horrendously inequal that through birth alone you get Paris Hilton, who will always get everything she wants and never work a day in her life, and innocent African children born with AIDS into starving villages who are going to spend the 10 years of life they have suffering and watching their parents die? If life on earth were some kind of religious test, then all humans would be born precisely equal, and only their own work, effort, and moral value would get them their place in the world.
  32. That George W. Bush's ability to find a map and point to Afghanistan made him a wonderful president (for a few months after a certain September). Honestly, are they all sitting there in the White House throwing darts at a map, and attacking wherever they land? As if Afghanistan and Iraq are the planet's only shitty third-world dictatorships, and as if attacking them will even come close to denting the world's terrorism problem.
  33. That hundreds of billions of dollars are spent "fighting" the war on drugs (especially marijuana, this is the big one), and the war on terror every year. Let's take a look at the stats:
  34. Terrorism casualties in the last 10 years: Several thousand.
  35. Total Marijuana casualties: Close to zero, if it were legalized.
  36. Total AIDS casualties in the last 10 years: tens of millions.
  37. A treatment exists for AIDS that would prevent anyone suffering from the disease from passing it on (although the sufferer would still die). Enough of the world could be innoculated with this treatment to eradicate the virus within the next 30 years, if all of that war on drugs and war on terror money went to stopping AIDS (it was calculated that the cost to perform this treatment on enough of the world to halt AIDS would be in the hundreds of billions). Especially considering that terrorism is a crime-type threat, and fighting a global war on it is akin to fighting a global war on stealing. This is made even more stupid by the fact that fighting terrorism by declaring war on lots of random terror-infested countries actually creates more terrorism.
  38. Used as support for any ignorant, reality-contradicting, right-wing pile of shit: "In the bible it says that..."
  39. Yeah, in the bible it also says that homosexuals should be thrown into a giant pile and burned alive. You can take your 2000 year old propaganda machine and shove it up your ass.
  40. Humans and humanity. Myself included.
  41. I'm not going to bother citing references on this information, but if anyone is really doubtful of anything on here, I can send you a references, all from respected scientific journals (with the exception of the political-only issues).

I agree with all but "diet industry", "all conspiracy theorists", "pointless shithole of a world", and "Humans". Nice list!

Haha, I don't even know if I agree with "pointless shithole of a world" and "humans" but I was in a pretty bad mood when I made this list.

Yeah, maybe ALL conspiracy theorists is a bit extreme. Some have been useful in the past. Maybe "the vast majority of conspiracy theorists" is better.

As for the diet industry, this one I can't possibly like. I mean, the kind of image they make young women strive for is ridiculous and impossible 95% of the time. The diets they create for them are absurd and purposely designed to make their weights yo-yo (so they'll get repeat business when the diets fail). Think: the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the grapefruit diet,etc.: all only superficially effective, and essentially impossible to stick to in the long term. While good diets do exist, and some companies really do try to help women, the vast majority spend their time cultivating an absurd body image for women in an attempt to suck them into their diets that will do nothing but drive them away from the image they're trying to promote. And then, of course, they blame the women themselves for it ("diets take great willpower!"), despite the fact that their diet has annihilated these women's metabolisms and eaten away all of their muscle, leaving them weak and unable to eat anything but 3 pellets a day, but with a normal appetite. As if anyone could possibly stick to a regime like that. But of course, their propaganda is all-pervasive, and these women don't realize that it's the diet that failed, and they blame themselves (like the good little sheep the diet industry taught them to be) and destroy their bodily self-esteem, which leads them back onto the useless diet that ruined them in the first place, in an endless cycle of failure.

The reason is simple: most popular diets burn both fat and muscle. Any diet that does this is purposely designed to fail - and why would they want them to succeed? That would be a huge loss of business: less "fat" people for them to prey on.

Note that anorexia and bulemia only exist in countries that also have the diet industry. So, in essence, the diet industry actually kills. (although this is a correlation not a causation, it seems a very logical inference to me that this kind of bodily self-hate message bombardment would create anorexia and bulemia)

Glad you liked the list!

I guess I also don't know what to think about #5. The greatest harm has been perpetrated by religious people, but so has the greatest good, both by virtue of the fact that the vast majority of people living today and in the past are/were religious.

Jesus of Nazareth was beautiful. Mahatma Gandhi was beautiful. Constantine the Great was ugly. Hitler was ugly. Etc.

True, but everything beautiful created by religious people was not inherently religious on its own. Gandhi's ideas about peace are not religious: they're sociologically very valid. He may have been religious, but those ideas don't require any kind of belief to support: you can look at the evidence that countries following his tenants (peaceful protest, etc.) tend to be happier and more successful. He may have based his idea on religion, but the idea isn't inherently religious. In fact, his ideas are very widely accepted by secular humanism, the most popular non-religious movement on the planet (the "moral atheist" movement, the idea of "heaven probably isn't real, but we CAN create a happy world for ourselves on earth by being kind to each other and implementing proper social policy based on scientific findings").

So the idea isn't against religious people, it's against religion itself. When societies discard religion in their social policies, they tend to improve. I mean, look at Canadian constitution versus Sharia law. Look at "Exodus" versus the Swedish government. I'll be the first to admit it: the secular are not perfect, but they're certainly more able to think logically and with better regard for all humans without being bogged down by ridiculous centuries-outdated dogma. Decisions made based on religion have a powerful tendency to be illogical (creationism, suicide cults, jihad, the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi-ism, etc.). I mean, can you think of anything good religion has done that wasn't secular in nature? (Example: a church charity giving money to cancer research is something good religion does that is secular in nature). Let me know if you can think of even one. I can't.

I see what you're saying; but that's not communicated in your list. The argument against religion on your list is the facile point that religious people have committed the most atrocities in human history, which really only says that most people in recorded history were religious.

And trust me, I'm no defender of religion. I think one of the fundamental problems with religion is that it is inherently closed to other ideas and new information. It's very narrow, very insular, very dogmatic, and is thus a breeding ground for incorrect and destructive ideas.

I'm sure we can think of other fundamental problems with religion, but most of my studies have involved analytic philosophy and the existence of God; I'm not too interested in religion anymore even if I'm interested in the "Philosophy of religion."

Good point. I changed it to make that more clear.

What IS absurd (but not in the negative sense) is that in spite of so much absurdity, the world sill moves on.

I whole heartedly agree with most of it, especially about religion.

Yep. Although perhaps that's beautiful too: we keep trying to make a better world, despite living in on a nonesensical, war-torn disaster of a planet.

And really, when it comes down to it, just about everyone thinks they're doing good. If you eliminated religion and superstition, then everyone would be doing good in logical ways based on science and social research: ways that don't involve torturing women, denying good empirical evidence, or slaughtering foreigners in mass numbers. I'm as against Islamic fundamentalism as I am against literalist Catholicism. It doesn't matter the religion, they're all adhering to beliefs that are not empirically supported (and are usually empirically rejected).

Do you really see science as the be-all, end-all of human existance? It is hard for people to put their faith in science considering that it has been wrong so many times in the past and there has been a history of people altering scientific findings to coorispond with their scientific beliefs. Putting the blame on religion is silly - everyone attacks the fundamentalist Christians who say that the Earth is 6,000 years old, but the reality is there are few who actually believe that to be true. Science can give you results but not what the results mean. I mean, look at how the two "theories of everything" we have - relativity and quantum theory - are both at odds with each other! There is only one theory (Holographic Universe) that tries to reconsile the two. Okay, so we can prove that time isn't absolute, that the nature of particles can change based on whether or not it's being observed, and that the change of spin on half a molecule can effect the other molecule regardless of where it is in the universe. What does it all mean?

Don't get me wrong, science is great, and I think in the future it will save us all. But I think the whole religion=brainwashing movement is ludacris. People don't accept evolution for a variety of reasons - I believe it's a plausable theory, but I think a LOT of work needs to be done in the field before I can say it's what actually happened.

All I can say is, learn more about science and biology, and you'll quickly agree that the odds of evolution being incorrect is close to zero. Actually, I'll make a list of evidence for evolution that outlines it. It's pretty convincing (ie: vestigial features that had uses in direct ancestors, the compellingly large number of transitional forms, junk DNA that only shows up in species that have been found to be related to one another due to innocuous viruses entering the nucleus of one common ancestor, the undeniable direct observations of microevolution, etc.).

As for science changing it's position, that's exactly why it inspires me to follow it. The problem with religion is that it never changes when new data is observed. Science is willing to adapt and admit it when it's incorrect. It's how science works. Generally, many theories are created that fit the data as possible models for what might happen, and as more data is gathered, the theories that no longer fit are discarded, and the one (if there is one) that makes perfect predictions is accepted tentatively as canon. If the theory continues to hold to the data without exception for many years, it is accepted as fact (evolution, relativity, and quantum theory all fall under the category of nearly infallible theories due to the staggering number of predictions all three make and complete lack of contrary evidence - yes, people often find "contradictory evidence" to evolution, but it's usually due to a lack of understanding the theory. For example, many say "if humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" The problem is, no scientist would tell you this: the theory states that humans and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor. Or another: "the eye is perfect in design, and what good is half an eye? It must have been created." Another misunderstanding: there are many lower lifeforms that have only a single very useful cell with photoreceptive qualities, which requires only one mutation to create. Plus, the human eye is imperfect, there are a number of flaws in its design that have been ironed out in other species such as hawks and squid (ie: there is a layer of processing cells above the retina, lowering the quality of our vision, and the optic nerve connects to the front of the retina, creating a blind spot which also lowers visual quality and resolution, etc..). And explain the appendix? And legbones in whales? Etc.

Science has been manipulated in the past, yes, but again, it's often religion to blame (ie: think of the heliocentric universe theory pushed by religion for centuries despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, think of intelligent design, etc.).

Quantum theory and relativity are not theories of everything, nor do they claim to be. All they are are models that accurately explain and predict the data that scientists observe in certain circumstances. They're often pushed as "theories of everything," because they're complex and very wide in scope, but they really aren't, and no respectable physicist would ever make any claim that they are.

The theories are reconcilable, anyway. M-theory and string theory are also very close to doing this. But again, they're only models, and they're incomplete, and they may be entirely incorrect, but they fit the data we have so far.

As for what all of it means, science isn't supposted to tell you that. As an atheist, you assign meaning to things yourself. There are a few ways to do this, but I personally subscribe to (what I hope is) the most popular atheist philosophy: secular humanism. The purpose of life is to spread as much happiness to as many people as possible including yourself, and the best goal in life is to act in ways that make you and everyone around you happy, and do things you love that give a real contribution to making the world a better place. It's why I'm in science (psychology) to begin with.

Like I challenged in my list: tell me one good thing that religion has done for us that isn't secular in nature.

Not all religions are "at odds" with science, in fact if I recall the Dalai Lama said that if any tenet of Buddhist was scientifically proven false, then the religion would change.

And the point I'm making about science...of course I think evolution is a very very good theory (and much of it is just common sense) but without getting into a long argument just suffice to say I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow we found out that it was wrong. I guess it's just the nature of science to change over time. 100 years from now there may be a lot of theories we have replaced, and 100 years after that those theories may be replaced, and so on.

Science has been manipulated without religion to blame. I know that IGNORANCE of science has been propelled by religion, which is pretty sad, but a lot of scientists have been known to manipulate data to better fit their theories.

Look, like you I find many problems with religion, but I do have a huge interest in the supernatural, which as many say is probably just a load of garbage. Unforuntately for the sake of this argument I've been convinced otherwise. When I was a kid I always thought ghost stories were all made up to scare kids like me, until one day a friend of mine whose house I was going to have a sleepover at told me his house was haunted. Of course I didn't believe him, but his family was convinced. They said you couldn't swear in their house, not because it was vulgar, but because if someone did then things would fall off the shelves or otherwise get thrown. We slept in the living room and when we woke up one of the chairs was on the table. Parents maybe trying to scare us? I have no idea why they'd do that...

All I'm saying is, while it's certainly nice to remain skeptical, it's also okay to open your mind. If you say "ghosts don't exist" then you're calling tens of thousands of people either crazy or liars. No doubt some of them are, and no doubt many sightings are explainable, but in a world where we have such bizarre things as quantum theory and relativity, is anything really impossible?

Maybe it's just me. All my life I've been hearing strange and unexplainable stories.

Okay now. So we can actually have a discussion, could you explain what "tell me one good thing that religion has done for us that isn't secular in nature" means? Secular means non-religious, right? What kind of answer are you looking for? That it makes people happy and prevents them from doing immoral things? Despite what you see on the news not ALL Christians are bad people. Just the ones with any power :)

I'll start at the bottom with that one.

I don't think religion is something that makes people happy or prevents them from doing bad things. No surveys performed anywhere have ever found any significant difference between levels of happiness in the religious and non-religious (there are a few notable differences in specific areas of happiness, for example atheists have lower levels of happiness with then number of children they have, whereas religious people have less happiness towards their governments, especially taxation - see recent Macleans). As for the prevention of immoral things, that's kind of cynical, don't you think? Why not be a good person for it's own sake? Do we really need an invisible man in the sky punishing us for being good or bad? Why not be good to help the world and to feel good about yourself? Besides, statistics show that atheists are perennially have one of the lowest crime rates of all belief groups (I say "one of" because the data is incomplete about some more obscure beliefs, and because these stats were taken in the US only. In the study, atheists had the lowest crime rates per capita of all sizably sampled groups).

As for possibly finding evolution or some such well-supported theory wrong, this site sums it up better than I can (and:
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/SciPseudosci.htm

Besides, the argument is always evolution versus creationism. If evolution were proven wrong, it is absolutely doubtless that it wouldn't be in favor of creationism (which has already been falsified beyond any reasonable doubt). It would be in favor of some theory of far greater complexity and depth.

As for strange things happening, I agree, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence for them, and just about everyone you talk to has a few such stories (myself included). But usually these stories can be explained without resorting to supernatural explanations. The most common story I hear is the "unbelievable coincedence." This story usually goes something like this:
"So the other day I was driving down the highway, when out of absolutely nowhere, my car broke down. My car is new! It shouldn't've broken down. It made no sense. So, I got out and looked under the hood to see what was wrong. There was nothing! So, I tried starting the car again, and it worked. Then, when I started driving again, I noticed traffic was blocked up. There was a massive accident one minute up the road from me. If my car hadn't broken down so weirdly, I would've been in it! And that's why I know guardian angels are real." Most hauntings can be explained by hallucinations, mass hysteria (buildings reported to be haunted, so people are so afraid that they convince themselves that it's real), and especially:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia

In fact, pareidolia can explain most strange stories. I'll admit it, the chair was weird. But it's also possible that the parents were trying to scare you out of swearing in the house. Or maybe you guys moved it during the night doing something and forgot. Maybe one of you is a sleepwalker, and in your suggested state, you produced evidence of your own haunting. Maybe the chair was already there, and you forgot. There are other explanations that are far more rational. It's not that I think the people who tell these stories are crazy or stupid, or liars, they've simply experienced a common psychological phenomenon that led them to believe something that can't stand up to proper study.

I agree that science has been manipulated without religion to blame. However, that isn't real science. That's people out to make money. Look at "The Secret." All of its claims of scientific evidence are entirely false (it blatantly contradicts neurology and quantum mechanics), but since there's no law stating that you must actually have scientific evidence when you say you do, people will always claim they do if it's going to make them money. This isn't science. It's pseudoscience. And when genuine scientists manipulate data to fit their theories (which is fairly rare), they are usually caught very quickly, as all results must be replicated multiple times to be accepted as well evidences (many scientists dedicate their lives to this replication process).

My mind isn't closed. Show me quantifiable and objective evidence that ghosts exist, and I'll believe you. It isn't beyond the means of science to do so, and being in the science world myself, I can tell you right now there is no conspiracy to suppress this sort of information. If anyone were able to provide such evidence, they would gain great acclaim in the science community: it would hugely boost their career. Why would anyone want to forgo that? There is no motive at all for such a conspiracy. It's not that I'm closed to new ideas. It's that I need new ideas to have objective evidence for them, and stories are not objective evidence. And yes, things are studied based on stories, and usually the actual physical reason for such occurances is found, [such as pareidolia] but people will often continue to believe the more bizarre explanation despite all this research, because once people develop a belief, it's very hard to remove it. This behaviour is so engrained in life, that it can even be seen in pigeons:
http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Skinner/Pigeon/

I'd actually suggest reading the whole page here:
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/SciPseudosci.htm
that I also cited above. It summarizes everything about the difference between science and pseudoscience, and how so-called science is so often manipulated and misrepresented. With all of the crap out there masquerading as real science, I can understand why people such as yourself get skeptical. Note that if it isn't published in an academic journal or by a well-established statistics institute (such as Stats Canada), then it isn't proper data. Be careful though: some pseudosciences create their own journals

Also, science rarely replaces established scientific theories (note that I say scientific: heliocentrism and creationism were NEVER scientific). The most it does is create more complex versions of theories. Ie: Newton's theories were all correct - until you approach the speed of light (which Newton didn't have data for). So, Einstein proposed a more complex theory (which doesn't even really discount Newton) that accounted for both Newton's data and the data of matter approaching the speed of life: relativity. Science fits the data we have at any given time. While it seems like it's "always changing it's mind," this is only the case with newer theories and newer data: new theories are more likely to be refuted, because there is less data (ie: the foods you should and shouldn't eat is always changing, because quite a bit of study is needed to come to such conclusions, and often long-term effects show up in later studies that weren't seen in initial trials.). Again, see the page cited most recently above, it summarizes all of this better than I can and more. I'd suggest reading the whole thing, actually, you'll get a much better perspective on how science works.

Religion is usually either at odds with science, or it makes claims about things in which we have no evidence either way and presents them as facts. For example, most religions (excepting Buddhism and a small few others) say there is DEIFNITELY a God, and we MUST believe in him. Science doesn't say anything about God either way. Nor does it deny it. Maybe something created the universe, but since there is no evidence in either direction, scientists can't come to any conclusion, and science's current stance is: maybe, more evidence needed (although just about everyone has an opinion, there isn't enough data to really say either way, and certainly not enough to have anything as powerful as a belief).

Why not be a good person for being a good person's sake? Not everyone is that moral. I'd like to see the survey that says atheists committ less crimes. If it was truly "survival of the fittest" among humans why do they feel bad for the wrongs they have done? I figure I am programmed to survive as long as I can and provide for my family. What if it entails killing somebody for money or stealing the money they needed to survive? Who is more likely to do this - one who believes only in "survival of the fittest", or one who upholds the ten commandments and believes their family will recieve greater rewards after they are dead?

Obviously the story about the "guardian angel" seems bogus (where was the guadian angel of the person who was in the wreck?) but I believe that some people are so ridiculously against anything that cannot be proven scientifically that they contrive ridiculous scenarios to explain things like verdical perception or fairly convincing ghost sightings, or Tart's experiments with out of body experiences (the woman must have somehow been able to open her eyes for a split second, see the reflection of the number on the clock that must have been there, and memorized it!) rather than admit they don't really know the answer. Things like this don't really work with science. Do you want a scientific explanation of some of the weird things? Obviously without time travel that would be impossible. All I'm saying is that ruling this stuff out altogether is ridiculous.

Ehhhh...whatever, this debate really isn't going to go anywhere, I'm sure of it. I believe in evolution, I think lots of things the Church says is bogus, and that many fundies are off their rocker. But I have also met some very rational Christians who have very different ideas of what the Bible is and why it says the things it does. These people don't really think there's anything in their religion that's 'at odds' with science and I agree with them. You say you have an open mind - that's a great thing, and something I would like to see many more people in the world have. I believe a lot of the more 'mind blowing' theories can offer some explanations, as well as a better definition of what God or an afterlife is or is supposed to be.

But now I'm just rambling. I'm too middle-of-the-road for these kind of debates...I've had big arguments with both sides on the matter and each time I learn something new. Personally I don't see how atheists feel 'more fulfilled' than the religious, the people who believe there is no God and their existance is meaningless, but I guess that's just me. Call me stupid, but I do believe there are things outside the realm of science (at least, the science we're capable of producing), and as such, I will never think it's the be-all end-all of existance.

http://atheistempire.com/reference/stats/main.html
http://www.felicity.com.au/paper-religiousstatistics.htm
http://www.adherents.com/misc/adh_prison.html#dichotomy

Note (in the last article - see the study on the bottom of the page as compared to the higher ones) that a line must be drawn between religious cmoderates who simply stop practicing their religion (which I suspect is probably a higher crime group than those of people in most religions who practice, although none of those surveys are conclusive on this question - they do hint at it though), and people who actively declare themselves to be atheist or powerfully agnostic (in other words, you are not just lazily not considering the question, you actually believe the answer to the question is unfathomable - weak agnosticism is simply religious laziness).

Also, atheism can be broken into multiple groups which I think would probably have different crime rates. My own personal atheist philosophy - secular humanism (look it up, it's a very gentle philosophy, and I'd like to think the most popular) - would probably have a crime rate of close to zero, whereas the group of people who are forced to be atheist by the state would probably have normal crime rates.

I agree that some things are beyond the realm of science (ie: why the universe has the precise physical constants needed for life to exist, or why there is an emitted particle that has no purpose other than to be detected. There are both theist (God did it that way) and atheistic (Multiple universe theory; shifting physical constants; etc.) explanations for this, but both are simply guesswork, at least for the time being). I just also believe that those things are beyond the realm of religion. Religion to me seems to be: since science doesn't know the answer, let's just guess. Religions were created by humans, after all (as much as some adherents will disagree with that statement).

Most atheists don't feel that their existence is meaningless. For example, in my own atheist philosophy (secular humanism), the purpose of existence (in a nutshell) is to help create the happiest and best world that can possibly exist. If everyone saw the world that way, we'd all be charged with a sense of great purpose and lose all of our prejudices, and I think things would quickly get a lot better. That's impossible though.

I think the mistake you're making is in assuming that atheists are 'morally superior'. Yeah, secular humanism would have a crime rate of close to zero if everyone practiced it. So would pretty much every religion. That site seems to pride itself on saying that more religous people get divorces and are in jail because they're stupid and morally bankrupt. How many of the convicts were religious before they went to prison (because as I understand it, finding religion while in jail is fairly common)? The thing about marriage I could write a lot about but I do believe that less atheists get married in the first place (after all, their only incentive would be tax breaks?) unless they are 100% sure on it while many religious people may feel they need to out of obligation.

Personally I don't think either side is correct, as I was saying before, "God" could refer to many things. Many see quantum mechanics or string theory as a way of finding God, while others don't. Many times I've seen the same evidence being debated to 'prove' two conflicting arguments. And I do feel that religion is to blame for a number of bad things, which leads lots of people to atheism. I went to a Catholic school and there were some real fundies, but there were also lots of very rational and free-thinking Christians. I can see how being surrounded by just one of those types would affect someone's religion.

"Secular humanism" doesn't need to be an atheist philosophy...I think pretty much everyone would do better with it. Of course I doubt that many would follow it - I'm sure there's things that even you can do to make the world a better place but aren't. I could donate $3000 to charity and spend more time working to pay my student loans, which would make the world a better place, but I would never expect anyone to take that decision, one which, by the way, Jesus would definitely approve of ;)

Sorry it took so long to repost...

I never assume atheists are morally superior. I just state that religion has little use in the function of morality. Whether or not you are moral has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you are religious: there are plenty of great religious people, and plenty of great atheists. The data shows that true atheists (meaning not simply non-practising religious people who stopped thinking about bigger questions) are more likely to be moral (meaning noncriminal, since this is the easiest measure of morality, although it's slightly flawed, it's a reasonably good measure). While this general trend is true, it doesn't mean that any person is immoral (or moral) because they are religious, or that any person is moral (or immoral) because they are atheist. Since the point of religion is supposed to be the provision of moral superiority, if a higher percentage of atheists are moral than religious people, then religion is essentially useless to that effect.

As to the reason why more religious people are in prison, I don't think it's because all religious people are stupid and morally bankrupt. I think it's because stupid people, who are more likely to commit crimes can find easy answers in simplified forms of religion. A person with a very low IQ isn't going to sit around and ponder deep philosophical questions of existence: they are going to accept the answers fed to them as children, which more often than not were religious. This doesn't mean that religious people are all stupid and morally bankrupt: some people who ponder existence will come to answers rooted in a religion and will deeply understand the philosophy of that religion. I don't think those people are the ones who are in prisions, it's the ones who simply blindly follow their childhood beliefs. The real mistake in life is blindly following anything, which explains the morality difference. No (real) atheist is a blind follower by the definition of atheism, and is therefore less likely to commit crimes. While not all religious people are blind followers, there is a category of them that are (a category that atheism doesn't have), and it is this category that we find in prison.

I'll respond to the rest later, I have to head out.

I can see what you're saying then. Just be careful not to judge a religion based on its followers - there a quote by Dave Chapelle as to why he doesn't talk of his religion much - "I don't normally talk about my religion publicly because I don't want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way."

I do think you're making a pretty big leap of logic here though - "No (real) atheist is a blind follower by the definition of atheism, and is therefore less likely to commit crimes." If someone is a blind follower and does what he's told wouldn't he obey the law?

It's alright to claim that morality is seperate from religion. The idea of religion isn't exactly morality, but rather a message of love, which would lead to doing good things. I don't think the 'good' Christians do good things just to get into heaven, as most believe they're going anyway, but rather because they do want to do the right thing.

By the way what do you know about the "99% of people in jail are religious" statistic? I know five people in jail and none of them are religious (well, I'm sure about three of them, and I really doubt the others are), are they just a statistical anomily?

The majority of laws are in place for a good reason (I stress: the majority) in countries like Canada and the United States. So, for the reason of simple morality, those laws are followed. You aren't a blind follower in following these: you're logical. Laws that fall outside the bounds of logic are usually minor or based on rare situations, and are usually punished lightly. On top of this, atheism carries with it a strong utilitarian streak (if there's [maybe] no afterlife, everything we do only has resonance in this life), which means that atheists would avoid breaking those minor laws out of self-preservation, or break only those that one can't be caught for, or that aren't enforced (ie: smoking marijuana). Blind following tends to cause greater lawbreaking, because it is this particular abandonment of reason that causes people to join riots, work in crime rings, become members of religious cults, or in a more common example: get in with a bad crowd that does a lot of crime.

Stats supporting lowered crime per capita among atheists:
http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm
and for lowered divorce rate among atheists (particularly important because of the incessant Christian claim that "the family that prays together stays together"):
http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

Remember to seperate the atheists from the nonreligious. I know that true atheists with a well thought-out view of the world that doesn't include a God will probably show less crime and divorce than people who simply don't care about that area of thought. I don't know what the difference between the two is in those areas.

Point 3 and 4 are exactly what is happening in the UK. Cannabis is currently a Class C drug but our nanny government are raising it to a Class B, going against advice from THEIR OWN experts.

I also agree that creationism is pointless. There was dinosaurs, evolution and a massive 65 million year gap between the 2 dominant lifeforms on the Earth, Dinosaurs and humans. So if the creation story is wrong, then pretty much the whole Bible must be bullshit.

Drug laws make me really really angry, they're just so absurd and pointless. A huge majority of the US prison population is there due to draconian drug laws that have no basis in science. For an idea of just how illogical they are, this meta-analysis is a nice reference, or if you don't want to read scientific papers, this summarizes it nicely.

Yeah, the Bible is certainly nonsense, or an interesting piece of historical writing, like The Iliad.

I hadn't seen this list before, but it's awesome, I think I agree with all of it.

I think you should add 'Terrorism', the manufactured bullshit scare story the media try and push on us.

Yes, that's pretty insane. Although, there certainly is SOME threat coming from terrorism, it's just not all that much more or less than there has ever been throughout history. The only reason the US public is convinced that it's truly a massive risk is because of one very public, and very terrifying event that seems to have left them unable to reason (which has left their government able to quietly pull their civil rights out from under them).

I really hope Barack wins, he promises to reverse all that damage (and more), and I think he might actually do it - all of the "bad information" on him seems to find that he's more left-wing than he's letting on. If that's the case, his political spin is simply hiding just how socialist he's going to make the country - thankfully, as if so, finally the US will join Europe in the 21st century (if he wins). Hopefully Canada will then follow (although we're certainly better than them government wise, despite being currently under a Bush-licking Prime Minister). Seriously, read that guy's policies, and you'll love him. He might actually end a good deal of this absurdity.

At the same time, I don't find the terrorism scare tactics all that absurd: it's the perfect way to set-up a totalitarian regime, and was one of the tactics used by "Big Brother" in George Orwell's 1984.

For me, the industry of Diet Programs is the stupidest of all - especially when it comes to taking pills and other food supplements. I find it completely silly!!! All those pills are affecting your body, destroying it's normal function. And this society's obsession for thin inspiration girls... have a strong influence on our teenagers and they start starving themselves to get thin... and end up in an treatment center.

Indeed, totally ridiculous.

I have read very carefully your list and comments so i would like to tell that i completely agree with you except the first one. i dont want to debate on creation because its totally unnecessary. by the way im a liberal humanist-deist. ive been a jehowah witness for 5 years and i left about 2 years ago and i know how dangerous are some cults. my idea is that if god really exist he isnt absolute powerful or maybe we are just an experiment made by ET. you speak about religion so angry but you are not 100% right because there are some people who need to believe in something. my goal in life is to always do good and fight ignorance. also ive got a cousin in canada extremely identical with your point view. he is my best friend and the person whom i dedicate a lot of most important things in my life. i think we have to share our opinions sometimes. all the best and hope ill hear you soon

Well, my anger is specifically towards the teaching of mythology as truth - not against something as benign as deism. It's the fact that myths about biblical creationism are taken as seriously in a lot of schools as evidence-based research. While I don't agree with deism, I'm not against people who view the world that way. I'm also upset about the controlling sort of fundamentalism that feels the need to attempt to restrict the freedoms of others based on their personal beliefs, especially since they really do wield a considerable amount of power, especially in the US. Have you own beliefs, that's fine - but don't assume that everyone else should ascribe by the rules your beliefs impose on you - even to the point of requiring others to deny observable reality (as in the case of creationism being taught in schools). When religion is minding its business, although I disagree with it, I have no real problem with it.