Turn Left, Take Ten Steps, Discover a Better World

1) God doesn’t exist, and never did. Belief in a Heavenly Father arose out of primitive ignorance and associated superstition. To think that an omnipotent old fellow with a white beard sits on a golden throne in the sky is wildly ridiculous. The only thing crazier is to believe said deity created us, governs our affairs, and deserves our blind obedience. Help stamp out witch-hunts and suicide bombings. Relegate God to the same dustbin of mythology where all ghosts, holy or otherwise, rightfully belong.

2) We don’t have souls and don’t go anywhere but into the ground to be eaten by worms when we die. Let’s bravely acknowledge that fact.

3) Quit contending that global warming isn’t real. Except for discredited, charlatan “scientists” of the kind who promote Intelligent Design, the overwhelming majority of truly qualified experts agree that manmade greenhouse gases are dangerously heating the planet. Conservatives can’t bring themselves to admit that “liberals” and United Nations types could ever be correct about anything, so they nay-say, sit on their hands, and would allow their grandchildren (and ours) to ultimately perish, fearfully gasping for precious breath.

4) Nationalism sucks. Belief that one’s own country is better or more important than all others has generated massively destructive jingoism and xenophobia through the ages. Combined with religion, it’s been the chief cause of war for bloody centuries. Join me in pledging to never take up arms against anyone on bogus pretexts — or to imagine them inferior, “evil,” etc. — just because they live beyond the ocean, look strange, and have unfamiliar customs.

5) Let’s jettison monopoly capitalism, which is so parasitically harmful that it makes a starving vampire bat seem benign. If we the people took over the economy, democratically controlling it for public profit and common gain, we’d never get robbed at the gas pump again, pay an arm and a leg for medical care or prescription drugs, lose our homes to usurious mortgage thieves, or get sent off to die in meddling neocons’ criminal invasions abroad. Fire the boss! Become a fair-minded owner of America, along with your fellow workers and neighbors!

6) Stop bashing immigrants. Each of our own arriving ethnic groups was accused by existing nativists of stealing jobs, being a societal drain, having criminal and otherwise unsavory tendencies, or spreading disease, just as mostly Hispanic immigrants are condemned today. Such successive discrimination plainly benefited divide-and-conquer corporate profiteers. It was only when ethnicities, races, and genders united — understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all — that the overall U.S. working class made decisive advances and acquired a mutually better living standard.

7) Admit that nothing worthwhile comes from conservatism. It’s abject selfishness masquerading as a valid ideology. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate minority privilege attained through illegitimate power wielded against consequently suffering masses. Conservatives will never utter the word “justice,” for it’s a shattering indictment of their consistently exploitative role in human affairs. Everything good has been fiercely resisted by the political Right: abolishing slavery and child labor, gaining women’s suffrage, struggling to achieve racial equality, raising the minimum wage, implementing progressive taxation, establishing health and safety standards in the workplace and the community at large, just to name a few.

8) Accept that, while abortion isn’t pretty, it’s often necessary. Furthermore, only each female in each specific, unique circumstance has the right to determine what constitutes a legitimate abortion need. No male, or male-dominated institution, should interfere in this most personal and difficult choice. Before guys say one word about the supposed impropriety of terminating an unacceptable pregnancy, they should produce ironclad guarantees about controlling their reckless libidos and keeping their penises in their pants, if that’s where they’re told they should remain.

9) Repeat after me: “Better gay than grumpy.” The only problem with homosexuality is that some straights, insecure about their own orientation, get uptight over it. Most animal species engage in same-sex contact on a minority basis. Therefore it isn’t “unnatural,” just different, and entirely involuntary, like being left-handed rather than right. Besides, aren’t the last six words of the Pledge of Allegiance “with liberty and justice for all”? Quit being hypocrites and get aboard the freedom train!

10) To nurture the collective human spirit, which is quite different than a religious “soul,” think less about what you can personally acquire, in a material sense. Instead, join struggles for shared prosperity. Know that the greatest reward is giving a deprived child reason to laugh. Honor and guard our earthly home. Lie down beside a blade of grass and contemplate its simple magnificence. Then, when relentless age takes its final toll, buy the farm with a contented smile. You lived well. You did the right thing.

Feed those worms and help make that grass grow!

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. Read other articles by Dennis.

52 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. AaronG said on March 12th, 2009 at 4:52pm #

    1) Do you take issue with those that misrepresent God with their unholy acts, political involvement and wars (ie organised Big Religion), or God himself? If I buy a toaster from a dodgy salesman and it doesn’t work do I then say that electricity doesn’t exist? The force of electrons, though invisible to our un-aided eyes, is irrefutable. It’s the dodgy salesman you need to attack.
    2) True. We don’t HAVE souls. We ARE souls (don’t say those last two words quickly!)
    3) Agree on global warming. And don’t get me started on Intelligent Design – it’s their latest desperate attempt at explaining away their misinterpretation of Genesis.
    4) Excellent. Can’t add to this.
    5) Here, here. No more band aids, stimulus packages, bailouts or whatever. Just get rid of the entire sytem from the top.
    6) Agree
    7) Agree
    8) I’m a guy. I’ll be silent.
    9) I’m right handed, but I’ve trained my 2yo son to be a leftie!
    10) It’s noble and “self-healing” to give a deprived child reason to laugh – I do it every day with my kids. However, it’s also a reality that, while you made 1 child laugh, 10 children were killed by someone else. “Noble” acts make us feel good……..complete removal of the system from the top down makes everyone feel good, even those we don’t care about, like the ones that live in lands from which we pillage the treasure from under their little feet.

  2. lichen said on March 12th, 2009 at 5:08pm #

    I agree for the most part with all ten steps; however, I don’t agree where the feminist rhetoric of claiming that only women have a right to speak about abortion often leads; it is a human issue that it is better for children not to be born if they are unwanted, not only one for half of the population.

    A very necessary 11, however, is to extend full equal rights and protections to children, outlaw all corporal punishment and humiliation or emotional mistreatment of children, and push for an end to all authoritarian schools and families.

  3. kalidas said on March 12th, 2009 at 5:30pm #

    Well, five out of ten is an “F” isn’t it?

  4. Kev said on March 12th, 2009 at 5:54pm #

    In other words, if no one agrees with your ten commandments they’re heretics. Well you sure are more advanced in thought…

  5. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 12th, 2009 at 7:59pm #



    Most americans think that everybody who owns a small business is an evil capitalist, and even some dogmatic-marxists think that all US citizens are capitalists and part of the capitalist class. (Wrong). The enemy as Marx, Trotsky, Lenin and other socialist-philosophers claimed are those in the upper classes, the Giant corporations large stock owners. Small business owners like pizza restaurants, barber shops, bakeries, health food stores, gas stations, are victims of capitalism

    the thing is that US media tries to divide small business owners against workers, and workers against each other so that the whole country is divided and unable to overthrow the real capitalists

    and then there are anarchists, and libertarians in USA who don’t take part in political activism, i think that utopian ideologies like anarchism are also tools of disinformation and confusion used by Rothchilds and real capitalists to prevent in USA a real united left movement backed by the US workers, and the nationalist-bourgeoise sectors (Small business owners, like barber shops, gas stations, family owned restaurants, and even supermarkets, not aligned to Wal Mart and Mega-stores), etc.

  6. russell olausen said on March 12th, 2009 at 8:30pm #

    You couldn’t expect to be taken seriously.I would be interested in what kind of background could produce such impracticable rubbish.Read the ‘Misanthrope’ by Moliere, please.

  7. kanomi said on March 12th, 2009 at 11:37pm #

    You sound as intolerant and doctrinaire as those you purport to oppose.

  8. john andrews said on March 13th, 2009 at 12:12am #

    Pretty good piece, Dennis. However, you should consider toning down your view of God – but not because it isn’t right (it may well be).

    No one can prove that God exists – but no one can DISPROVE it either.

  9. Suthiano said on March 13th, 2009 at 12:19am #

    “No one can prove that God exists – but no one can DISPROVE it either.”

    Your problem is in language not in “proof”.

    I’ll say no more, but look into it if you’re a curious person.

  10. Bob McCafferty said on March 13th, 2009 at 1:36am #

    Oh yes oh omnipotent one.

  11. Garth said on March 13th, 2009 at 3:17am #

    Nice article mostly, but the left wing isn’t exclusive to people who have no spirituality at all. You should be clear that not all spirituality is about Gods and ancient books. Some spirituality looks forward, inward, and around, rather than focusing backward. You know, people who fast or meditate or worship a mushroom that makes you question your delusions (while being aware of the artificial nature of the disturbance of perception).

    Oh, and by the way, with global temperatures going down and greenhouse gas concentrations increasing, it isn’t invalid to question our global warming theories. We’ve been wrong on a large scale before, we’re a very young and ignorant race that doesn’t even understand itself, and we can’t even predict the local weather with much accuracy, much less global weather patterns. Disasters usually don’t give us much time to prepare. Also, consider the fact that global temperature has gone all over the place, even a lot hotter than any living people have experienced, without big industry existing. Nature does much worse than we’ve ever done to global temperatures.

    If you just accept everything the capitalist scientists tell you, you’re not much more free-minded than a thoroughly religious person. Remember, you grew up in a world where a lot of what you hear has been under capitalist control even in the realm of science for generations. Most of what we all know is delusional, some of it recent some of it millenia old (including secular myths).

    Science says the whole universe came into being from one tiny point for no particular reason. That’s the best guess of our advanced scientific civilization that’s tarnished the rest of human values as if science is all and everything. We’re reaching a little far to think we can reasonably understand the nature of the universe before we know what’s under our own oceans. We’ve always been arrogant about the present knowledge we have. We’re not done. We’re not close. We can’t get anywhere if we take our current ideas seriously, especially from professionals who have near-universal authority over the voice of the average joe.

    Oh hey, just for perspective: I’ve always been an atheist, science interests me greatly, and I was in university to be an engineer (getting decent grades too) until I caught a whiff of the capitalist control I’d be thoroughly immersed in so high up the food chain of the working class. I chose the poor man’s life even though I was passing my courses. I’ve come to see there’s more to life than the measurable. I still love science and technology, but I wish they’d be used with a better understanding of our role in nature, and not just from an anti-spiritual scientific measurement of what nature seems to be to our limited intellects and instruments. Aboriginal experience would help a lot, considering the “primitive” peoples of the world have more experience with nature than modern environmentalists.

  12. Garth said on March 13th, 2009 at 3:30am #

    Incase there’s any confusion, I’m aware that the downturn in our global temperatures might just turn out to be an oscillation, but it’s enough of a dip to start thinking about how much effect we’re really having when it comes to temperature.

    And also incase of confusion, I’m quite certain we’re heavily polluting and destroying our land. I just think CO2 levels are a red herring thrown at us to keep us away from all the other ways they profit off of damaging the world, and all the while, they’ll be decreasing CO2 output without giving much attention to all the other pollutants and destruction.

    Don’t be distracted by global warming from all the other bullshit we’re generating. Especially considering Earth does it naturally whether we interfere or not, even if we’re making a difference now. It’s been much hotter than this before and that was natural. We’d better start putting more weight on other environmental topics. Hell, capitalists are really getting into the “green” thing a whole lot lately while doing damage in other ways like feeding cars before people in the midst of a global food crisis. Think about that… Give them one little scapegoat and hold onto the rest while they’re all yelling about global warming. And pay your scientists to talk about global warming all the time while other “fringe” scientists are questioning the status quo.

    Think about that.

  13. Barry said on March 13th, 2009 at 6:00am #

    On the god question, there is really no need to disprove its existence. If instead of god, we were all told our entire lives that there are banshees in our closets – a goodly percentage of us would believe that and live our lives accordingly. Some of us would know better but feel no compulsion to prove there are no banshees in the closet. For atheists the incessant propaganda about the existence of god is no less ridiculous than closet banshees. There is no need to disprove either one.

    The abortion question it is indeed a societal issue. As much as many of us think all human life is sacred – well, it’s not as sacred as we think. Firstly, there is the question of when life begins, secondly is the question of whether an embryo or fetus of the same import as the woman who carries it. For me, the first question is open to debate, the second question has me coming down on the side of the adult human over the embryo/fetus. Reproduction is a life-altering event. No woman should be forced to remain pregnant against her will. So, within this societal context, the ultimate decision on whether a pregnancy is to be continued rests with the woman. The input of others on this question is at her discretion.

    Nationalism does suck – so does organized religion. But I think most wars are fought over land and the land’s resources. Nationalism and religiosity are malignant forces that are harnessed to provide cover for the cause. I think neither the “Catholic-Protestant” battle in Ireland nor the Jew-Muslim conflict in Palestine are over religion per se. They are both struggles for land and resources. Religion is used as an excuse – and to mobilize either side. (Mind you, in the latter case, I think it is largely the pro-Israel crowd that tries to mask it as a religious issue.)

    Regarding immigrants, no real disagreement here except that we should remember those populations that are either not immigrants or were dragged here against their will – and that includes a fair number of whites who arrived as slaves and indentured servants.

  14. bozh said on March 13th, 2009 at 6:15am #

    how much honesty and perspicacity is needed to populate the world [and/or universe, if one will] with not just gods but also devils, spirits, angels, saints, holy fathers, werewolfs, elfins, seven heavens, etc.

    probably zero honesty with much cunning/viciousness, etc.
    and none of these from- bodymind- projected ‘entities’ can be disproved.
    and mischief makers knew that! or no? tx

  15. joed said on March 13th, 2009 at 6:32am #

    i consider myself an atheist and a critical thinker. i have no reason, no evidence to believe in “god”.
    the humiliation of mankind being;
    1. copernicus and knowing that earth is not the center of the universe.
    2. archeology and knowing the bible can not be true history.
    3. biology and newton’s theory of evolution.
    these three ideas helped to destroy the superstition and nonsense of religion and big daddy in the sky.
    science may not be perfect but it is ever honing and fine-tuning its knowledge and ideas; a bet against science is going to lose.
    Isaac Asimov has writen a wonderful short article about THE RELATIVITY OF WRONG and how science is on the right track.
    i thing ol’ jerry garcia said it well with, “what a long strange trip its been”
    anyway, fine article Mr. Rahkonen, thak you very much.

  16. rosemarie jackowski said on March 13th, 2009 at 11:40am #

    As an agnostic, I agree with 6 and a half of your commandments. I just don’t understand why atheists are so damned sure that they are right about everything… like when human life begins and the origin of the universe.
    Most of my friends are atheists, and some of them are the most intolerant people I know. Why is that?
    It is not important to me what a person believes. Only actions should be judged. What difference does it make if someone believes that the tree in their back yard is god?

  17. Barry99 said on March 13th, 2009 at 1:16pm #

    Rosemarie – I don’t think atheists all agree on when human life begins. It’s a matter of conjecture. In fact, some might say that becoming human is a process – not a moment in time.

    As far as the origins of the universe I think most of us go with the best science. And that leaves little room for a conscious creator (because then we’d have to ask how the creator came into existence – and we’re back at square one.)

    As far as believing in a tree as god – that’s ok – as long as I don’t get killed for leaning on it. So beliefs sometimes have consequences.

  18. joed said on March 13th, 2009 at 1:46pm #

    the whole stupid arguement about when does life begin is christian bullshit. when they say life begins, they mean “when does the holy human soul enter the body and create a human”(with out a soul a human is a zombie or ghoul or whatever the christian says)
    anyway, the christian says the soul enters at conception. this of coarse is insanity. so when asked the question, “when does life begin” you now know the proper answer is, “don’t you mean when does the soul enter the body”
    when does the soul enter the body? what soul, what is a soul. how insane can christians get.

  19. joed said on March 13th, 2009 at 1:54pm #

    and this for rosemarie. it is a bit philosophical but the author, WK Clifford makes the moral statement, IT IS WRONG ALWAYS AND FOR EVERYONE TO BELIEVE ANYTHING WITHOUT PROPER EVIDENCE. clifford make a good case about how we, as members of humanity, owe it to humanity to be reasonable and critical in our thinking.
    people with the need to believe stuff find this article offensive at best.

  20. rosemarie jackowski said on March 13th, 2009 at 3:04pm #

    Barry99…I seem to remember that there was a time when the best scientific minds of the day said that the Earth was flat. I agree, that sometimes beliefs can have consequences, but that is exactly my point. We need to focus on the consequences and forget about the belief systems. There are important reasons for this. Sometimes the same belief system can result in different actions – some beneficial and some harmful. The movement to close the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, was started and led by a Catholic priest – just one example of the beneficial result of a religious belief.

    joed…your first comment is a perfect example of the intolerance of some atheists. Your second comment explains one reason why I am an agnostic. The burden of proof rests with atheists – not agnostics.

    P.S. It was science, not religion, that brought us GMOs, nuclear power, atomic bombs, etc.

  21. bozh said on March 13th, 2009 at 4:00pm #

    it is not vitiating whether one evaluates that ‘god’ exists and another that ‘god’ doesn’t exist.

    it is the organizations armed with a cult who impede better interpersonal and internat’l relationships.

    take any socalled religious org, ?all are structured like an army or a gang.
    and gangs have no pangs; in addition all gangs i know of are extremely wicked.
    what is a gov’t than a gang just like any mafioso gang. in US, canada we have three unchecked gangs; all three are gungho for killing aliens.

    to me, it is heresy to speak for a ‘god; priests do that all the time.
    even mafia gangsters go to church; pols too. tnx

  22. joed said on March 13th, 2009 at 4:45pm #

    hi rosemarie
    what burden of proof do i need for you. i say, ” i have no reason to believe in god” what burden of proof is needed by me. i am not trying to prove anything. if i had reason/evidence there may be a “creator of the universe” then i would look into it. but i have no reason to look into it. what burden of proof are you talking about.
    rosemarie, you didn’t read the clifford article did you. if you had read it you would see that clifford is not arrogant when he says,
    “To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
    If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.
    this is serious stuff here rosemarie and important stuff for humanity too.

  23. Barry99 said on March 13th, 2009 at 5:59pm #

    Indeed Rosemarie, science – or scientists – has brought us a lot of bad things. All science, like religion, is based in a social context. So when scientists do the bidding of war mongers and capitalists, the results are predictable. We should not forget that all these malignant inventions come with the blessing of the church – it too is imbedded in a social context.

    I hope you don’t remember that far back 🙂 but I would not say it was the best minds of the day that thought the earth was flat. That’s much more likely a biblical view that resurfaced when science in Europe was suppressed by the Church. They knew better in the Eastern world – from the Arab lands to China.

    Yes, the church can do good – actually that should be their mission one would think. But almost invariably, the good that comes out of a church (and Liberation Theology comes to mind as do the Berrigan Brothers) does not originate at the top of the hierarchy. Its at the top that they bless the fighter jets as Cardinal Spellman in NYC did during the Vietnam War.

    As far as proof of a godless universe – I feel no burden to convince anyone or prove anything. I can safely say that those who believe in God have no qualms about saying so, but those who don’t are routinely challenged or even upbraided for suggesting there is none. Across a good deal of middle America, there are two things that raise hackles – saying you don’t vote, and saying you don’t believe in god. (Never mind the atheist word.)

  24. A Mohit said on March 13th, 2009 at 6:54pm #

    The argument of God’s existence will never be resolved with logic. Notwithstanding, our belief or disbelief does not alter the truth. The fact remains that man speaks in God’s name to justify his selfish actions. The Truth is we are all one–One God in You and Me.

  25. Garth said on March 14th, 2009 at 12:30am #

    To all you “atheists” who think you KNOW things through REASON:

    You’re wrong about a lot of the things you think you know about science. Science said a long time ago that electrons orbited nuclei, and now they’re talking about probability clouds, and even string theory. You DO believe things. You DON’T know the truth. Science in the current world is run like a gang in a capitalist manner all in the name of profit, social control, ethnic cleansing, or power in general. Scientific knowledge isn’t shared with the rest of humanity. A whole lot of it is kept secret up at the top for the benefit of a corporation or a nation, similar to religious secrets kept by the highest position-holders in the Vatican.

    If the global warming theories benefit all the corporations that are “going green” all based on a molecule that trees breathe (giving them an excuse to ignore everything but CO2), they’re gonna throw the opposition into the “fringe” instead of taking him/her seriously. Science really does this, defends the status quo even if it later turns out to be false and the fringe scientist’s claims end up being less wrong (or right to the extent that we can be right about something).

    You have beliefs. You don’t know everything that you think you know. You still believe things to some extent. You still believe without proof a lot of things about the world, even if the currently prevalent theories are supported by the current prevalent instruments. You attack the reasoning of others if it doesn’t fit your model. Scientists believe things too. Some of them hold pretty damn hard onto their own opinions about how it all works, even when their competition is using logic to dismantle their arguements.

    Science is religious just like what you call religion. It just goes through theories quicker than most religions and is honourable enough to use some reason (and dishonourable enough to lie for profit or power).

    If you want to look forward, you have to admit that the human race is ignorant and imperfect even with technology to help us out, and the funny thing is we don’t know about a delusion till we randomly stumble upon it at some point in our lives, and then we question what we thought.

    If you don’t question what you think, you don’t get anywhere. The most important moment in my life was when I learned to let go of the impulse to defend everything I’ve ever heard regardless of who says it and to also take seriously the opinions of others, whether it’s a priest, a scientist, or a bum on the streets. Now I don’t give extra weight to a particular faction’s ideas, and instead choose to use my own reasoning. So yes, reason and logic is GREAT. Just remember to actually USE it instead of thinking your faction’s reasoning is the best.

  26. Garth said on March 14th, 2009 at 12:43am #


    “I can safely say that those who believe in God have no qualms about saying so, but those who don’t are routinely challenged or even upbraided for suggesting there is none. Across a good deal of middle America, there are two things that raise hackles – saying you don’t vote, and saying you don’t believe in god.”

    I like that. That’s interesting… Do you notice that voting is just as religious as religion? All these people religiously believe that voting alone gives them democracy… It doesn’t appear to be working. 😛

    Keep in mind that on the flip side, we’ve got atheists all over the place slandering religious people of all sorts without knowing them personally. Maybe atheism isn’t the most popular choice of arbitrary categorization for most Americans, but it’s not immune to religious behaviours like bigotry. 😛 Question your own side, my friend. Better yet, forget sides and categories. We’re all just a whole bunch of people who believe vastly different things. We’re just going to keep arguing, and some of us will be listening to all sides of the arguement… Isn’t that really the most logical thing to do? It allows you to pick and choose from every side to form something that’s more efficient than any single set of thoughts, at least in your own mind.

    In the end, if everybody just picks and chooses individual thoughts instead of identifying with a particular ideological group of like-thinkers, we’ll probably toss out bad ideas more quickly whether they’re scientific ideas of moralistic ideas.

    Oh yeah, and have you noticed that so far, the concept of morals and emotions has mostly evaded science? I do love it when science discovers something about how they work, but there are some things we’ve gotta rely more on intuition for, because we don’t have the solid knowledge (yet?).

  27. joed said on March 14th, 2009 at 6:50am #

    well the earth certainly looks flat. the flat earth theory is not too very wrong; only about 8 inches per mile. that’s the curvature aspect; in one mile the earth curves 8 inches.. so that is a minor correction to allow for a “round” earth. about 250 BCE a geek named Eratosthenes used the different lenghts of shadoos at different point on earth and figured out the earth is round and about 25,000 miles in circumferance. after this time anybody with any education at all, and most other people too, knew the earth is round not flat.
    now, since that 8 inch correction the earth’s true shape and demension is know. satelites and lasers have prety much taken the guess work out of the earths deminsions. this has blown a big hole in the idea that “god created earth for his children, and earth is center of the universe, and the sun revolves around the earth” you don’t hear the christians preachin’ that crap any more do ya’.
    isaac asimov has a wonderful book and article called, THE RELATIVITY OF WRONG. it is a delightful read and the book is a treasure.

  28. kalidas said on March 14th, 2009 at 8:23am #

    “This Krishna consciousness is a science to understand the difference between a dead body and a living body.”
    Srila Prabhupada

  29. Gus said on March 14th, 2009 at 9:26am #

    I don’t have to swim in Loch Ness to know there is no monster. A Japanese team spent millions to put in a mini sub… didn’t find one. I can use logic. It’s free.

    1) There’s not enough fish in the lake to feed a single dinosaur.
    2) It would take a massive population of these dinosaurs to breed since prehistoric times
    3) The first people to spot Nessie owned a hotel at the loch…. o.O It is now Scotland’s most popular tourist destination.

    The above example can also help with the difficult question of faith!

    Q. Is slavery moral?
    A. No

    Q. Is God perfect and moral?
    A. Yes

    Q. Does he permit slavery in the 10th commandment?
    A. Yes.

    “Neither shall you covet your neighbour’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbour’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

    You’re allowed to OWN a slave. Your neighbour is allowed to OWN a slave. God just doesn’t want you to covet your neighbour’s property. When God was telling Moses what was right and what was wrong, he permitted slavery.

    God is not perfect, or moral. It was bronze age mythology. No different from any primitive culture. Now, please please please move on. Take the good from the book, the words of Jesus, and use them to help your life and others. But stop pretending that there is eternal life and a fiery punishment for gay people. Stop endorsing wars. Go own a slave if that’s your thinking.

    But please please please drop the argument that there is no way to know for sure. There is. It is called REASONING.

    Have a nice life otherwise. 🙂

  30. rosemarie jackowski said on March 14th, 2009 at 10:22am #

    A lot of great comments going on here.

    There is a similarity among those who believe in the existence or non-existence of god (my view is the only correct view), fans of sports teams (my team is better than your team), and those who beleive in the infallibility of science (infallibility of the Pope).

    Life is so much better and more peaceful since I became an agnostic.

  31. Kim Petersen said on March 14th, 2009 at 10:42am #


    With all due respect, what you are proclaiming is a form of “ignorance is bliss.”

    I respect the right of each individual to determine for themselves what they choose to believe, but I am not willing to advocate ignorance.

    If, indeed, there are no ill repercussions from being religious, then fine believe what you want. However, there are good reasons for advocating atheism. As Richard Dawkins pointed out, religion forms us into in-groups (believers) and out-groups (non-believers). Further, religion causes damage in three ways:

    1) labeling of children
    2) segregated schools
    3) taboos against “marrying out”

    Finally, Dawkins asked: whoever heard of a war in the name of atheism?

  32. Gus said on March 14th, 2009 at 11:34am #

    Do you suspect there just might be Greek gods fighting and drinking on Mount Olympus?

    Do you think there is a probability, however slim, that Ragnarok may occur?

    Do you suspect that science does not always get it right (Incidentally, it doesn’t, and doesn’t claim to… but look what it has achieved, what is built upon its discoveries, what we may reproduce with our own tests!) -that science is possibly wrong about how the rivers formed, and that it could well be as the Australian aborigines believe that they were carved by a giant rainbow serpent? (And if true, then the sun isn’t a burning ball of hydrogen, but a broken emu egg.)

    What is it about the origins of the Abrahamic faiths that leads people to shrug their shoulders and say “I can’t say! Sure, it’s possible!”

    All I can think of is that these faiths were more violent in converting throughout the ages than the warlike Greeks and Norsemen. (An unenviable achievement.)

    “Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.” – Ambrose Bierce

  33. rosemarie jackowski said on March 14th, 2009 at 11:39am #

    Kim… I believe that agnosticism is the opposite of ignorance. It is just a belief that an open mind is better than a closed one.

    I agree that some people use religion to try to justify heinous acts and therefore, I would condemn the acts. The bottom line for me is that to stereotype all believers or all non-believers misses the point. It is the acts that should be focused on. Religious beliefs can sometimes motivate a person to do good – sometimes to do evil.

    Did Dawkins ever pass judgment on agnostics? Maybe that is the group that receives the most discrimination.

  34. Gus said on March 14th, 2009 at 12:15pm #

    But what are you basing your openmindness on, Rosemarie?

    – The Bible is full of contradictions that any online search will reveal. – It’s morally reprehensible with accounts of slavery, infanticide, genocide, incest.
    – Those who wrote about Jesus did not know him, and wrote 30 years after his death.
    – No supernatural event has ever stood up to scrutiny. Ever.

    Religions always come down to…. ‘A very long time ago some people tried to explain the world, eventually recording this oral account after centuries, where it was modified and distorted throughout the ages by the church. It is now the indisputable word of God! …-which individual religious leaders distort to pursue their personal agendas.’

    Why give this bronze age philosophy credence? Why not all primitive superstitions?

    Epicurus understood this in 350 BC…

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is God both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    God will never appear (as he did so frequently in Biblical times). His priests are no more moral for their beliefs than atheists (see Catholic church). Praying does NOT heal you, science does. And the invisible and the non-existant look very much alike. 350 BC(!!!) and Epicurus understands it. And yet still, in 2009, people refuse to critically examine this primitive philosophy. How is that not ignorance?

  35. bozh said on March 14th, 2009 at 12:17pm #

    one might muse about the notion that both the science and cults can be called “religions”.
    and if one wld look at them from widest possible view and not the narrowest, one will find enorm differences bwtn the two.

    scientists do not put people on wrack for not accepting their findings as true for an eternity; churches do that.
    and churches employ an antipodal scientific method of discovery: first one assumes then tries forever to prove that the assumption is forever valid.
    judaism had demanded that anyone who wld dispute its science shld be killed. no scientist, as far as i know, has demanded death for anyone who disputed their discoveries.

    in short, priests/cutlists/shamans put the cart before horse and scientist do not or at least say “let’s see” or “maybe”.
    from scientific work s’mthing new emerges: a tool, a drug, etc.
    from churhces nothing new arises; their members still kill one another; still proclaim eterne ‘verities’; spew hatred, intolerance, etc. tx

  36. Lee Hall said on March 14th, 2009 at 1:18pm #

    Making one’s own decision about whom to engage in a sexual relationship surely is not acting in an “entirely involuntary” way? I would hope it’s voluntary, and that volunteering doesn’t make it problematic! The concept that it ought not be repressed because, after all, they-can’t-help-themselves has just never seemed respectful to me.

  37. Barry99 said on March 14th, 2009 at 1:57pm #

    Garth – ALL of us believe in science. Even the most ardent fundamentalist believes that astronomers are correct that there is an celestial body we call Pluto. We believe the evidence as presented by scientists. But you know, at least there IS evidence that Pluto exists – there is NO evidence that God exists. If scientists could show evidence that God exists, then non-believers would have to start questioning their certainty that it does not exist. But the truth is, there is as much evidence of god as there is of banshees in my closet. So why would I bother even entertaining the thought? It’s irrelevant.

    When I was a kid Protestantism meant paying special attention to the four gospels – the Jesus who engaged a preferential option for the poor, the meek, the sick, the crippled. I found that to be a useful philosophy even as I came to realize that a god is not necessary to explain the universe – it’s like adding an extra step. Somewhere along the line Christianity – not so much mainstream Protestantism which is in decline – but what had been considered fringe groups, came to the fore with a vengeful muscular Jesus, one that wants homosexuals, abortionists, pre-marital copulators, and liberals punished for their wicked ways. And a few deaths along the way should help keep them in line. This is a line of Christianity that conflated nationalism and patriotism with faith to the point that it celebrated the shock and awe as if it were the second coming. These are people who will casually tell you they believe in miracles – in fact, that triple-bypass they underwent was a miracle, it had little to do with the surgeon. They will drop god into a conversation as if we were all believers. They’ll tell me to have a blessed day. They’ll drop by the house with pamphlets. They want more Christ in our government and less government in our religions (though they don’t mind the tax exemption). They want mandatory prayer in schools – and teaching of the Biblical Creation in science classes. When on rare occasion I say I’m an atheist, they give me grief. I might as well have said I’d had sex with a goat. So as far as I’m concerned Christ and Christianity are an imposition. And if we wanted to live in a theocracy we’d immigrate to Iran or time-travel to medieval Europe.

    As far as questioning my own side, what side would that be? I’m in no union of atheists – the thought of joining a group dedicated to non-belief in god is a bit silly. Of course, if they were part of a bigger fight to keep religion out of governance then that’s fine – in fact, there are still mainstream Christians who fight that good fight.

    On the subject of morals I certainly know that moral humans predate Christianity – and Judaism, for that matter. I surely don’t think that organized religion invented morals. The phenomenon of morals/ethics have long been tackled by sociologists and psychologists, and anthropologists, biologists and geneticists. It’s not necessarily the province of religion.

  38. Barry99 said on March 14th, 2009 at 2:24pm #

    Rosemarie – Agnosticism as the opposite of ignorance? I’m an agnostic on the existence of ‘advanced’ life on other planets and beyond. I can be made to lean either way by a good argument but I remain open on the matter for now. I’ll let the astronomers and chemists make their arguments. I’m an agnostic on bailing out banks – after all, they’ve been part of a system giving us a royal screwing now since Reagan was handed the presidential reins. On the other hand, economists are telling us that if we don’t get the banks up and running the entire economic system collapses (Uh, there’s an upside to that possibility.) So I’m an agnostic on a number of things.

    But I am a believer in things to. I’m a believer in the welfare state, the beauty of nature, and the belief that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you (even if I’m a bit surly here at times). I think the human body is beautiful (well, ideally, and maybe only to about age 28 or so). I believe that no group of humanity is less human than another, and that every societal effort must be made to provide optimum conditions for all individuals.

    I don’t believe that science is infallible – after all it is a process, not a thing, and processes are subject to trial and error. But without science, we are not even discussing this here.

    And I don’t believe in god just like I don’t believe there are banshees in my closet. In fact, I’m so sure of these two things – among others – that I can safely say that there is no god (and no banshees). The notion of a god has long been (except for occasional entertainment) irrelevant to my life. But I’m an agnostic on any number of other things.

    None of this equates with ignorance. (Not bragging here, non-belief in one thing or another holds for all of us.)

  39. bill rowe said on March 14th, 2009 at 3:03pm #

    Agree on almost all,especially that all religion is “crap” (sorry,I mean unnecessary, divisive, …). I would soften the view on capitalism to the type of “grab all you can get and everybody for himself capitalism” we have now,simply because you have to come up with something else that works in the context of human greed and other selfish inherencies.

  40. Garth said on March 14th, 2009 at 5:11pm #

    Wow. Okay, case dismissed, you people argue just like Christians. You first read some of what I say, write my name, and then seem to reply to something entirely different, like you’ve got another debate entirely rolling on in your head. You don’t even know what spirituality is, getting all stuck up on god and organized religion as if it was the only thing out there. If you’re not scientific enough to look up what else is out there in the world of “religion”, you’re blindly making arguements against something you don’t even have a marginal understanding of. Just like a fanatic.

    So this entire debate is pointless. I’m sure you’ve debated with religious people before, so you must understand how pointless it is to argue with you.

  41. Garth said on March 14th, 2009 at 5:13pm #

    Oh yeah, no offense to Christians or other religious people, I just meant the stereotypical Christian or religious person hated so much by atheists. Just for the record. I’ve got religious friends who don’t act like that at all.

  42. joed said on March 14th, 2009 at 7:28pm #

    christians are people that never learned to think. thinking and self-discovery go together and christians would rather do anything than think. a thinking person can not be agnostic nor a believer, but a thinking person can be an abominable speller. there are no gods devils angels or deamons. there is only humanity and life and this planet . if that isnt awsome enough for you then too bad, but stop making up invisible friends and such.

  43. Barry99 said on March 14th, 2009 at 8:08pm #

    Garth – Sounds like you are just making stuff up. You have no idea if people here have an understanding of spirituality. And I think you’ve been replied to in full. But there are other things to write about as well, inasmuch as you didn’t write the article.

  44. Gus said on March 14th, 2009 at 11:00pm #

    What’s your point, Garth? Scientists haven’t worked out how morals work? Huh? Scientists are still trying to figure how the joke works. They spend all their time on it.

    Spirituality is okay though. I used my divining rods to find beer at the supermarket, the crystals I place around my bed has kept away bone cancer, and I read auras… angry people have a kind of dark aura, and people who smile have a light coloured one.

    You’re right, spirituality is very different to religion. Religion’s not real.

  45. Red Dawn said on March 15th, 2009 at 4:51am #

    I saw this on another site…

    “If you want to get rid of the notion of some kind of creator, you are going to have to either explain or destroy consciousness.”

    Spot on.

  46. Gus said on March 15th, 2009 at 7:25pm #

    Religion vs Science throughout the ages

    Religion: Science doesn’t understand A!
    Science: Celebrate! We understand A!
    Religion: Well, Science doesn’t understand B! *prays for Science to fail*
    Science: Celebrate! We figured out B!
    Religion: Uh… well-
    Scientist: C! Hurrah! Now this opens up a cure for Cancer-
    Religion: Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

  47. Gus said on March 15th, 2009 at 7:42pm #

    What I never understood was that EVEN IF there are gaps left in our understanding of the entire universe (which are steadily being closed) why do people conclude that if there is some unanswered question that THEREFORE there is a God.

    The Jewish God, that Jesus and Mohammed borrowed from. The one bloodthirsty God of the desert. Why does some complex biological trait of some sea ameoba that still baffles scientists automatically mean the Christian/Jewish/Muslim god is therefore the answer?

    It. Does. Not. Make. Sense.

    Why not made by Zeus? Why not Odin? Why not it came into being by a three headed chicken who demands weekly prayer and would like you to eat the body of her son?

    Science has kicked many goals. Your health, for starters. Transportation, Communication, etc etc. What is proven about religion or spirituality or the loch ness monster?

    We have a collection of old scrolls that have been heavily modified, contain mistakes and contradictions. And they speak of all manner of supernatural things that can never be witnessed. For no supernatural things may ever be witnessed (shock!) Ultimately the greed for the pot of gold at the rainbow* leads people to conclude it was created by a leprechaun, instead of being due to light rays bending through the atmosphere.

    A joyous celebration of ignorance in the 21st century.

    *eternal life, forgiveness for sins, fiery punishment for my political enemies

    “I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.” – Arthur C Clarke

  48. davidgmills said on March 16th, 2009 at 4:37pm #

    Agree with all except global warming.

    Like most progressives you haven’t been keeping up with the latest science and are still clinging to what the guys with the megaphone keep telling you.

    Far more likely than global warming is another mini-iceage like the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715.

    To borrow (regrettably) from Bill Clinton: “It’s the sun stupid.” While the sun is a very constant thermonuclear furnace, it is also a highly variable magnet. And when the sun’s magnetic output changes, so does the earth’s climate. During the twentieth century, we had the most magnetic sun in perhaps the last 8000 years. But for about the last 5 years, the sun’s magnetic output has fallen off a cliff.

    The sun’s magnetic output is evident by its sunspots. The more magnetic, the more sunspots. The less magnetic the fewer sunspots. 2008 was the most sun-spotless sun since 1913. 2007 was also in the top ten of sun-spotless years of the last 100. And so far 2009 is keeping up with 2008.

    So this is the new news. Get on board and read everything you can about the Maunder Minimum and a theory put forth by a solar physicist by the name of Henrik Svensmark which attempts to explain why solar magnetic minimums cause global cooling..

    If this sun-spotlessness keeps up, many solar physicists think that by 2030 it will be very cold, and unfortunately this kind of cold will be much worse for humans than the most dire predictions of global warming.

  49. Barry99 said on March 16th, 2009 at 5:47pm #

    Well, DavidG the latest science and even the not-so-latest science have been debating the degree of global warming and even if global warming may kick in global cooling as the ice melts. So global climate change is probably a better term – and scientists have been using solar cycles for some time now. None of that gets around the fact that humans have been pumping CO2 and methane and chloroflourocarbons, etc. into the atmosphere at breakneck speed. And there is plenty more to come as China gets on board. So it would behoove us to get our own emissions under control – after all its only 50-50 whether we enhance the natural processes or mitigate it.

  50. davidgmills said on March 16th, 2009 at 7:37pm #

    Barry 99: I would agree about all carbon except CO2. If CO2 does not cause global warming, then what is the harm in producing a gas that all plant life not only needs to exist but thrives upon, especially if we are going to rely on plant life to eat?

    The problem with global cooling is that it will likely kill off a great deal of plant life making worldwide famine a much greater likelihood. During the mini-iceage famine in Europe was widespread.

  51. Anything but an Atheïst/Nihilist said on March 19th, 2009 at 5:36pm #

    Well, I can’t think you can so easily put monotheïsm and polytheïsm on all just one lign with ‘superstition’. You’re making quite a categorical error there, my friend. But an error does not become a mistake, unless you refuse to correct it! I know you’ve just made a charicature out of the ‘mainstream’ representation on Christianity. True, art is in large guilty for those reductionist canonic decpictions of a single Deity (most of believers happen to call ‘God’), who have been repeated to our detriment. It happens to be that the Christian/Catholic church generally relies on an interpretation of the ancient Testament which interprets that Deity as a ‘Holy Father’ (figure). And art just faithfully copied this image of a bearded wise man. But – just like any visual depiction is forbidden in Muslim belief – I think we are not entitled to any visual representation of this Deity because it will just be as incomplete as ever. What or who God is most incomprehensible. But to say what is incomprehensible not to exist… well… if you acknowledge our limits of perception (I mean: we can’t see laser particles or microbes with the naked eye, but do know – thanks to advanced science- that it does exist), than we should expect to be astonished what is beyond our grasp. In a sort, even Mystics are agnosts. But – for a fact – they believe that they’re not atheist 🙂

    I must say I am tempted to comment to you, that if you say: ‘God doesn’t exist’, to take it further and be somewhat your advocate of anarchy and down-to-the-bone rational, cold empiricism and say: ‘There’s no such thing as ‘a good thing’ or ‘a bad thing’. It’s all about congered-up ideas, just deceptional ideals we prefer to hold on to out of a fear of harm, pain and suffering – in the end we know nothing and are worm meat.’ Because humans need an incentive or a reason of sort to know there is a more supreme ‘judgmental core’ that ‘corrects’ human behaviour and deters chaos (killing, rape, maltreatment, any crime you can think of etc.).

    Apart from a highly deficient civil justice aparatus, I acknowledge that we truly live in a anarchically structured world – that’s a basic assumption for a student of International Affairs (like me). But my point of debate is rather: Where does our notion of Morality stem from? Also from a vain, proposterous, ignorant, naïve illusion of Law, Order and Harmony? I hope you disagree (as I do). I think that these notions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ were (historically) preserved and handed down with the aid of religions too. Of course, some have added stringent accents that may seem foolish to our modern day world and living standards. But then, seeing what religions did by disseminating the necessary heritage (or gift) of ‘sanctified’ moral standards… that can’t be bad, as long as lengthy Commandments (because look: you’ve written your own just now too) do not manipulate your life to the extent you feel ‘stymied’ as a human.

    There’s a higher purpose to us all living here. ‘Yeah yeah, procreation of the human genealogical tree.’ Done with it? Please, spare me the nihilist and ‘defaitist’ remarks now! You cannot deny that the majority of us – sociopaths, psychopaths and deranged dangerous people aside – ALL have a basic notion and nuanced standards for what’s right and wrong. I – for the love of ‘That unidentifiable Supremacy’ (or Deity) – cannot confirm nor deny these were all just ‘generated’ out of the experience of mankind over the ages. I truly believe them to have a transcendental origin. Why? Because the majority of us – who believe in a just society – allow these guidelines to be imposed on us. We choose to live by them because we experience the positive effects on our lives and of others. You can argue: We don’t decide about what anyone does, that’s the (civil) law to judge. And the law did get inspiration from the notion of (reciprocal) Justice, that’s true (although both notions are not entirely commensurate). I think we can’t be so complacent about our system of social norms, concepts of justice and penalty, are only borne out of ‘necessity’. They were born out of marvelous idea(l)s, that hold such an intrinsic value by their own right. I cannot think these were generated in an arbitrary ad-hoc way over time. They sprang forth of (due to a lack of subsantive vocabulary) ‘an Ideal Supremacy’.

  52. Gus said on March 21st, 2009 at 8:53pm #

    As I crawl through that response I admit I have to struggle to extract the root of why you might believe in a supernatural Creator (and Destructor. Don’t forget, He causes the mudslides in Peru).

    1. “Because humans need an incentive or a reason of sort to know there is a more supreme ‘judgmental core’ …”

    Yes. But it DOES NOT MAKE IT REAL.

    2. “Where does our morality come from?”

    After years of science extracting God and the Supernatural from the sciences you ask a very strange question. Why not, ‘Where does our sense of humour come from?’ ‘Where does music come from?’ (Satan invented heavy metal music, I know.) Where does our morality come from?

    The 10th commandment of the Bible permits slavery. Not many other people do these days, but the Bible does. You can own a slave, but it’s a sin to covet your neighbours. So that’s our morality from a divine omniscient source?

    Is it so incredible to you that a family group of cavemen might have eventually stumbled across the notion that killing each other (family members, too) might have a detrimental effect upon the likelihood of survival of the entire group? That they worked out that stealing from each other caused harm and anguish? You don’t believe some alpha male chieftain might not keep the peace of wailing females and banish the offender from the tribe? Do you really think that the most reasonable conclusion you can reach is that an invisible reclusive space being told them that murder, and coveting a friend’s slave, was taboo? Social laws, like mammals, cannot evolve over time? They’re all Zzapped into being by a higher power that requires candles burnt in its name?

    And 3. “There’s a higher purpose to us all living here.”

    No, you WANT there to be a higher purpose to us living here. You have no evidence to support the statement that there is a Purpose, but no way to confirm whether people are lifted up into the sky, raised from the dead, walk through a tunnel greeting long dead relatives. But you’re willing to entertain the notion because it’s happier, nicer, sweeter than the alternative. Great use of your education, buddy. Pick your conclusion, and find something to support it. (Before you claim I am doing the same, the evidence reveals there is nothing supernatural at work. The evidence reveals great gaping flaws in the supernatural theories and writings. Conclusion: there is nothing supernatural. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing except stories based on ignoranance.)

    There are many popular reasons for why people WANT there to be a God, but no good ideas about its veracity. Ultimately, belief in religion and supernatural correlates so highly with fear and ignorance, that it chipped away every defence for it I ever saw. Until I was suddenly free.

    And being space dust in an extraordinary universe isn’t so bad. Much better than wasting my life in fear of some slave owning bronze age desert deity who will punish me for the sins I’ve committed, which if I have read the Deity’s text correctly, are only a fraction of that committed by Him.

    Slave owning, genocide, infanticide… I dunno. Just seems wrong somehow. I eventually figured that out on my own. God didn’t. He is eternal and all knowing… which means he still holds the same views he did 4,000 years ago. Evil prick.