Atheist Presidential Candidate Wants to Make Teaching Religion to Children a Crime

I wouldn’t classify Zoltan Istvan as a leader in the New Atheist movement, but he is clearly someone who has swallowed New Atheist rhetoric and taken it to the next level. In a sense, he is one example of a 2nd Generation New Atheist, one example of a someone who has become even more extreme than his leaders. He shares in the common New Atheist idea that religion is evil and its adherents are mentally ill.But while Harris and Dawkins blame religion for terrorism, Istvan blames religion for the fact that we all die.  In his mind, if it wasn’t for the obstruction of religious people, science would have long ago discovered immortality.  So there!  All death is blamed on religion.

And while Harris and Dawkins embrace scientism as the means to all truth, Istvan’s scientism goes further and casts science as the Savior.  New Atheists have long preached about how a secular utopia would emerge if we could solve the Religion Problem and Istvan is one New Atheist who has stepped up to flesh out one particular vision of this utopia.

So it’s no surprise that Istvan would push radical New Atheism is yet another context.  In the past, Richard Dawkins has tried to equate a religious upbringing with child abuse and early on in his role as Leader of the New Atheists, once sign and circulated a petition to make a religious upbringing illegal.  Jerry Coyne has written on his popular atheist blog that the religious indoctrination of children should be illegal.

So along comes Zoltan Istvan, running for President of the United States.  Istvan follows the lead of Dawkins/Coyne and fleshes out some more details about this Gnutopia.  But first, he cites another atheist scientist who shares such extremist thinking:

“Religion should remain a private endeavor for adults,” says Giovanni Santostasi, PhD, who is a neuroscientist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and runs the 10,000 person strong Facebook group Scientific Transhumanism. “An appropriate analogy of religion is that’s it’s kind of like porn—which means it’s not something one would expose a child to.”

Istvan then links to yet another atheist who proceeds to the next logical step:

Therefore, religion, religious materials should be as pornography. I think its illegal to show pornography to children, and clearly its illegal to involve children in pornography, and I feel that religious teaching is at least equally as harmful.

That said, should the police be bursting into homes of families with children and confiscating any materials that could be deemed religious as they do with child pornography? Should parents who expose children to religion be treated the same as parents who expose their children to pornography, or worse, children who are coerced to become involved in teaching religion to others, is that the same as child pornography? Why or why not?

Thoughts?

Clearly, if the analogy is valid, atheists are in support of using the State to forcefully remove children from the homes of religious parents and then imprison then those parents.

Istvan then lays out his position:

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Posted in atheism, child abuse, New Atheism, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

The Faith of an Atheist

Zoltan Istvan’s campaign promises as an atheist candidate for president represent splendid examples of atheist faith in action. Let’s consider example #1 for today.

Zoltan is apparently a single-issue candidate, promising that if he was President, he would get the scientific community to deliver immortality to all of humanity through all kinds of amazing technological breakthroughs.  But exactly how would he do this?

So the main goal of the Transhumanist Party is to divert money away from defense — you know, the 20 percent of the national budget that we spend on wars and bombs — and to put a lot of that, or at least some of that, into life extension science.

Why should we have a war in Afghanistan if we can have a war on cancer, or a war on heart disease? About a third of Americans die from heart disease. We should wipe that out! That’s where the war should be. And so that’s my elevator pitch: the Transhumanist Party is going to do everything in its power to shift the resources and the intellect of this country into fighting for the things that affect our health, and not for fighting far-off wars.

America can become the biotechnology powerhouse in the world, and end a lot of suffering, especially needless suffering from disease, if we were just to spend our resources there. You don’t get anywhere from spending money on brand-new cluster bombs. You have to spend that money on science, give it to the scientists.

I see.  The only thing preventing immortality is..[cough]…money.  If only we could throw more money at the problem, lots and lots of money, we could get rid of cancer and heart disease.  And from there, its just a short step toward immortality.

I kid you not.  Zolton goes on and on about money:

It’s really just a matter of fast-forwarding that, putting it on overdrive, spending a lot more money — a hundred times the money — and you’re going to get, potentially, at least ten times the results. And I think, literally, as I have said before, if we put a trillion dollars into the life extension field, we will conquer human mortality within ten years.

It’s a numbers game, really. We have so little money going into the field right now. The NIH is putting in just a few billion, and it’s mostly towards Alzheimer’s and things like that. But if we really put in real money, even just put in a fifth of what we put into the Iraq War, we would probably be able to conquer human death.

Oh my.  It takes a lot of faith to believe that more money will purchase immortality.  But we have heard this kind of pitch before.  Anyone else remember California’s Proposition 71 from 2004?  Voter’s were told that if they would only fork over 3 billion dollars, stem cell research would cure paralysis and Parkinson’s disease.  People who opposed this effort and/or were skeptical of such claims were demonized as “anti-science.”

Well, a few billion dollars and 12 years later, where is the cure for paralysis and Parkinson’s disease?

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Posted in atheism, Faith, Science, transhumanism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Atheist Pseudoscience

  • Originally posted in 2014

Atheist Zoltan Istvan writes:

‘Sometime in the next decade, the number of worldwide godless people — atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with religion — is likely to break through the billion-person mark. Many in this massive group already champion reason, defend science, welcome radical technologies, and implicitly trust and embrace modern medicine. They are, indeed, already transhumanists. Yet many of them don’t know it because they haven’t thought much about it. However, that is about to change. A transformative cultural storm comprised of radical life improving technologies is set to blow in soon.

Whenever atheists start artificially inflating their numbers and start promising revolutionary changes, my skeptic-o-meter starts to go off. Perhaps Zoltan can better explain to the agnostics and unaffiliated what they believe:

Broadly defined, the word transhuman means beyond human.

Oh, oh. I think I know where this is going.

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Posted in atheism, crackpots, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 38 Comments

Atheist Presidential Candidate Lashes Out At Religious People

New Atheist Zoltan Istvan considers himself the US Presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party and has decided to use religious people as his scapegoats in his campaign.  He writes:

All around the world, religious terror is striking and threatening us. Whether in France, Turkey, London, or the USA, the threat is now constant. We can fight it all we want. We can send out our troops; we can chip refugees; we can try to monitor terrorist’s every move. We can even improve trauma medicine to deal with extreme violence they bring us. But none of this solves the underlying issue: Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam are fundamentally violent philosophies with violent Gods. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others have all reiterated essentially the same thing.

Christianity is not a violent philosophy with a violent God.  So, to support his assertion, Zoltan will cherry pick and quote-mine from the Bible to make it seem the same as the Koran:

Consider these verses from the Koran:

Koran (3:56): As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.

Koran (8:12): I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

And then consider these verses from the Bible:

Deuteronomy 17:12: Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the holy man who represents God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged.

Numbers: 31:17: Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

You would think that if you are going to make a claim about Christianity, you would quote from the New Covenant and not the Old Covenant.   As commenter Dhay wisely observed:

What would Rambow, Anderson and Harris have moderate Christians do each Sunday? Abandon Communion, perhaps and replace it with some Old Covenant ritual where you sacrifice a bull and re-affirm the Old Covenant – perhaps they would have us reinstate the whole Jerusalem Temple based Jewish sacrificial cultus, which is all explicitly there in the text of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers and which on a Rambow/Anderson/Harris interpretation must be implemented.

Zoltan is clearly engaged in confirmation bias.  He wants to believe that Christianity is a violent philosophy so he pages through the Bible looking for something that will support his preconceived beliefs.  Once he finds it, he offers it up and goes not one step further.  Zoltan is not engaged in argument; he is engaged in some mental exercise that is rendered ludicrous by Dhay’s comment.

Zoltan then thinks he is anticipating objections to his point and tries to knock them down:

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Posted in atheism, New Atheism, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 48 Comments

The Moral and Intellectual Bankruptcy of Anti-Christian Activists

A little over a month ago, I pointed out that Christophobic activists tried to blame or link Christianity to the murder of 49 people in Orlando. An Islamic extremist pledged his allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State and shot 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and activists actually tried to use that event as a springboard to attack Christians as homophobic.  That, by itself, nicely illustrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of so many of today’s braying activists, but let’s add something else to the mix.

According to the most recent reports of the FBI’s investigation, there is no evidence homophobia had anything to do with the Orlando massacre:

The FBI has found no evidence so far that Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded more than 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, chose the popular establishment because of its gay clientele, U.S. law enforcement officials said.

“While there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted Pulse because it was a gay club,” a U.S. law enforcement official said.

[….]

A month later, though, a complete picture of what motivated Mateen remains murky and may never be known since he was killed in a shootout with police and did not leave a manifesto. Officials said there is no evidence thus far that Mateen, 29, was gay or that his attack was motivated by homophobia.

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I’m shocked. Shocked.

According to a recent news report, a transgender woman has been arrested for recording another woman dressing in a Target dressing room:

A transgender woman is facing a felony charge after sheriff’s officials say she used a cell phone to record a woman trying on clothes in the changing room of an Ammon business.

Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bryan Lovell said the incident happened at a Target store Monday afternoon.

He said the victim was changing clothes when she noticed someone holding a cell phone over the wall of changing room stall to take photos of her.

Here’s the mug shot of the transgender woman:

sean smith_1468428970669_4008468_ver1.0

Why was she taking pictures of another woman?  Does this mean she is also a lesbian?

The news report also mentions:

Several witnesses also spotted a person described as “a male dressed in women’s clothing” attempting to photograph the woman, according to Lovell. The suspect ran out of the store after being confronted.

Did they actually say, “A male dressed in women’s clothing?”    According to the social justice warriors’ version of secular values, shouldn’t the police be arresting those witnesses for some hate speech violation?

Posted in secular values, Social Justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 12 Comments

New Atheist “Scholar” Raked Over the Coals

Tim O’Neill wrote a scorching analysis of Carrier’s fringe notion that everything Josephus wrote about Jesus was entirely a latter Christian interpolation. Y’gotta love how O’Neill begins his essay, as it perfectly captures the essence of Carrier:

It seems I’ve done something to upset Richard Carrier. Or rather, I’ve done something to get him to turn his nasal snark on me on behalf of his latest fawning minion.  For those who aren’t aware of him, Richard Carrier is a New Atheist blogger who has a post-graduate degree in history from Columbia and who, once upon a time, had a decent chance at an academic career.  Unfortunately he blew it by wasting his time being a dilettante who self-published New Atheist anti-Christian polemic and dabbled in fields well outside his own; which meant he never built up the kind of publishing record essential for securing a recent doctorate graduate a university job.  Now that even he recognises that his academic career crashed and burned before it got off the ground, he styles himself as an “independent scholar”, probably because that sounds a lot better than “perpetually unemployed blogger”.

But in the minds of New Atheist true believers, far from being a failed academic (and more recently, thanks to some rather dubious life choices, itinerant beggar), Carrier is a towering figure of vast historical wisdom.  This is because if there is a tenet of New Atheist Bad History that needs defending, Richard Carrier is usually there to help.  Not surprisingly, Carrier is therefore a leading proponent of the Jesus Myth thesis, though given that this is a topic held in dismally low regard by real academics and one peddled mainly by cranks and loons, that’s not much of an accolade.

Two years ago Carrier brought out what he felt was going to be a game-changer in the fringe side-issue debate about whether a historical Jesus existed at all.  His book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Sheffield-Phoenix, 2014), was the first peer-reviewed (well, kind of) monograph that argued against a historical Jesus in about a century and Carrier’s New Atheist fans expected it to have a shattering impact on the field.  It didn’t.  Apart from some detailed debunking of his dubious use of Bayes’ Theorem to try to assess historical claims, the book has gone unnoticed and basically sunk without trace.  It has been cited by no-one and has attracted one lonely academic review, which is actually a feeble puff piece by the fawning minion mentioned above.  The book is a total clunker.

So the failure of his academic career and the disaster of his attempt at a groundbreaking opus has left the perennially unemployed Carrier with a lot of time on his hands.  Luckily he has a number of obsessive vendettas to keep him busy.  The main one of these is with leading New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, though he also has a beef with me.  Recently, to his great joy, he was able to indulge in both at once.

O’Neill has a good feel for how Carrier’s mind works:

But then Ehrman committed his second, much worse sin.  As Carrier’s responses become more sneering, more frenzied, more intense and even more tedious in their length, Ehrman did the unthinkable – he chose to completely ignore Carrier as a silly little nobody and simply didn’t engage with him further.  And nothing angers a pathological narcissist like being ignored.  Mighty was Carrier’s tiny wrath!

So, in the four years since, Carrier has continued to list Ehrman’s many wicked sins, with all the shrillness of a myopically self-obsessed person who genuinely can’t believe he’s not being taken seriously.  Of course Ehrman is just one scholar at the top of the long list of people that Carrier has to attack, since anyone who has dared look sideways at Carrier, his fringe thesis, his failed book or any of his minuscule coterie of minions and parrots has been struck mighty blows from his tiny little fists.  Some anger him so much that he uses his skills in psychiatry to actually declare them insane, since genuine madness is the only explanation he can fathom for those who don’t bow low before his manifest genius.

O’Neill then devotes the bulk of his essay to critiquing Carrier’s arguments and, for anyone interested in the topic, I highly recommend it.

I myself have already outlined my problem with the crackpot mythers.  Although I am certainly no expert on this whole topic, it’s obvious to me that the mythers are not scholars and do not take a scholarly approach.  In fact, I summarized the problem as follows:

What the conspiracy theorist/myther does is engage in extreme, intensive disconfirmation bias.  But once focus turns to their alternative explanation, skepticism is discouraged, the bar is reset and set very low, and confirmation bias is encouraged.

And you will find that this dynamic applies even when it comes to debate about a single passage in Josephus.  That is, while Carrier relies on extreme hyper-skepticism to dismiss the scholarly consensus about Antiquities XX.200, in its place we are expected to embrace some vague and idle speculation that is not only unsupported, but actually inconsistent with the evidence that exists.

Big picture time, folks.  Richard Carrier is not a scholar.  He is a New Atheist apologist, activist, and evangelist.  His livelihood depends on his fans clicking on his blogs, sending money to him for blogging, and selling his books at atheist conventions.  You’d have to be a gullible fool to trust the man to be objective and scholarly about the topic. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of such people in the New Atheist community.

 

 

Posted in Mytherism, New Atheism, Richard Carrier, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Feminst Leader Illustrates Atheism’s Problem With Morality

Mark Schierbecker, from The College Fix, does some reporting about Richard Carrier being accused of sexual harassment in an article entitled, “Popularizer of social-justice atheism can’t believe he’s accused of sexually harassing students.”  He includes some more details of Richard Carrier’s secular values:

In a Facebook post June 15 that was removed right before this story’s publication, the former president of the Arizona State University chapter of the alliance, Amy Frank, said that Carrier “sexually harassed me and touched me a year ago after speaking at ASU.”

Without being told who accused him, Carrier thought the alliance was referring to another woman he had expressed interest in at another event. He had deemed his behavior toward that woman as morally reprehensible, whereas his interaction with Frank was not “at all bad,” he wrote.

As a result he didn’t immediately defend himself from the allegations, telling the alliance he “thought the interest was mutual and I was very wrong” and wouldn’t do it again. Instead he offered to come clean about the encounter on his blog.

It is interesting to watch the atheist polyamorist get confused about what he said or did to whom. Y’see, he only behaved “morally reprehensible” with that woman, not this woman.

Only months later did Carrier learn that the complaint came from Frank, he said.

“I have not decided yet whether to sue Frank,” Carrier told The Fix in a followup email Thursday. “She appears to be troubled and may be a victim of mental illness.”

So Carrier, the champion of feminism, is trying to plant the idea that a woman, who has said she was sexually harassed, is actually mentally ill.

Yet the same Richard Carrier once said, ” You can find plenty to read now online about the disproportionate way that even in our own American society women are harassed or assaulted, or regarded as liars, or their thoughts or concerns ignored.”

So what are we supposed to do?

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Posted in atheism, Morality, social justice atheism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Atheists Need Safe Zones

What do you do when you want to mock, ridicule, and just plain ol’ hate on religious people without having anyone frown on your anti-religious bigotry?  What do you do when you insist on being viewed as the smartest person in the room, yet your atheism is built on god-of-the-gaps reasoning supplemented by teletubbie logic?

Answer: You create safe zones!    Does it really surprise anyone that atheist activists insist on safe zones?  Maybe when Richard Carrier wins his legal battles against his fellow atheists, he can turn his attention to becoming a Secular Safe Zone Facilitator.

Posted in atheism, atheist activism, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Good Without God, Part 2

The community of atheist activists, who are constantly and self-righteously judging religion as evil, seem to be plagued with some very serious and persistent ethical problems.  First there were the accusations of embezzlement associated with Richard Dawkins Foundation, then the accusations of embezzlement associated with the Secular Coalition for America. 

Next come the accusations of the embezzlement associated with the Apostacon.

Then along comes the accusations of the sexual harassment against Richard Carrier associated with his work for the Secular Student Alliance, made more troublesome by the fact that Carrier is sleeping with the wife of the man who heads the SSA. 

Starting to notice a pattern?

And now we have atheist Neil Carter’s lengthy account concerning his work with the Recovering from Religion. Carter wrote a blog post that is quite long, but well written and worth the read.

He puts his finger on something that is indeed odd with so many of these atheist activist organizations:

The longer I’ve spent interacting with people active among the many orgs and non-profits within the secular community, the more I noticed thateverything seemed to be shrouded in secrecy.

Every organization seemed to blanket their dealings with nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), which would make sense for large media-related organizations which require embargos on important press releases and other creative projects. But why would so many smaller nonprofits include NDA clauses covering financial dealings, donation records, receipts, and other such matters of public interest? Why the distinctive lack of transparency, and I mean across the entire secular movement?

Great questions.

Carter tells his story is quite a bit of detail.  Rather than having me summarize it,  take the time to read it.  Here are a couple of excerpts to spark your interest:

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Posted in atheism, atheist activism, atheist news, atheist wars, Morality, social justice atheism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments