And it came to pass…

faith

It was to be expected when self-proclaimed prophet TB Joshua’s House of Cards came tumbling down, he would use all means possible to evade responsibility. In September last year when a guesthouse under construction on his Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) property collapsed killing over 100 people, he claimed that it was caused by a terror attack.

This week Coroner Oyetade Komolaf found that the church was culpable due to criminal negligence, and should be prosecuted.

TB Joshua off course rejected this finding, still hanging onto the ludicrous assertion that the incident was due to sabotage. But never mind Joshua’s refusal to accept liability. It is well within character for a charlatan to avoid accountability. It was to be expected. And so it came to pass.

But what about his followers and the family of those tragically killed in this titanic abuse of trust? Would they denounce him and call for his head?

Off course not! They are believers. And so it came to pass that they would rationalize this tragedy using every foul excuse in religious doctrine. Here are some of the more absurd:

One woman said the coroner’s ruling was “nonsense” concocted by “earthly experts” who know nothing about spiritual matters. The church could not be blamed for “work of the devil.” She went on to state that she does not believe in “scientific findings for spiritual matters”.

Another said the investigation was “devilish”. Yet another invoked the devil, accusing him/her/it for wanting to destroy his bishop.

The worst has to be the statement from a church spokesman who told AFP that it was “unfortunate” that the coroner ignored submissions that “having building approval is not [a] panacea for building collapse”. WTF? How insane is that?

Now that the coroner has made a finding, will TB Joshua actually be prosecuted?

That to my mind is unlikely. He is well-connected politically in Nigeria. It’s no secret how corrupt their politicians are. And he has been rather busy visiting family of the victims, palming off blood money and currying favor.

And it shall come to pass that justice will not be served.

Respect faith? Hell no!

religionrespect

Lizzylo, a recent addition to my long list of detractors commenters seems to think the reason I write this blog is because I yearn for respect.

Well, Lizzylo, let me make this quite clear. I DON’T.

I don’t really care whether you respect me or not. I have never cared whether anyone respects me, even outside of this blog. I don’t demand respect, nor do I give it easily. In my job, I tend to piss off a lot of colleagues because I demand competency and productivity. But in the process, I make a whole lot more people happy, including my customers.

I don’t sulk when my colleagues are angry at me for being demanding. I live with it. It’s a trade-off. Similarly, when people respond negatively to my blog posts, I don’t let it affect me. The fact that I tick people off, is actually quite revealing. It puts a smile on my face, just like those positive comments do.

scienceandfaith

Another thing I get quite often is quotes from the bible or some other religious text about faith. People seem to think that these texts are authoritative and that I’m supposed to be moved or threatened into submission by them.

Let me make this quite clear. I give ZERO fucks for faith or your holy quotes about it.

I don’t believe your quotes, nor do they scare me or move me in any way whatsoever. I also think faith is a dreadful disease that needs to be eradicated. I’d really like to bash your skull in, but not through violence. All I have to throw at you is words.

So there, I hope that was painful.

Pastor Crafty Dollar wants a new jet

A pastor wants his flock to buy him a $65 million dollar private jet. A state of the art Gulfstream G650 to be exact. It’s not the sort of thing your average millionaire thinks about splashing out on – this is serious billionaire territory.

But Creflo Dollar, the preacher with the pornographic surname (his wife is Taffi Dollar; I kid you not) is no billionaire. He’s your average multi-millionaire evangelist who’s made his loot screwing credulous sods who either don’t know any better, or don’t care to.

The following clip of his plea for donations on YouTube is no blue movie; it’s far worse. It promises to not only fuck you over thoroughly and leave you with a false sense of satisfaction, it will leave you much poorer and none the wiser too.

I have no doubt that Creflo will get the money which will ensure he becomes the flashiest flying preacher-man out there. I know this because there is an endless supply gullible people out there.

Happy days are here again

Sunday’s match against Manchester City was a great relief to Arsenal fans, who have of late become accustomed to seeing the Gunners lose all too frequently to top flight sides. The 2 -0 winning margin was even sweeter.

Manager Arsene Wenger maintains that his faith in the side paid off. I so despise that word, faith. They just put in a great performance, and they have demonstrated that they are capable of beating the best. Sunday’s feat gives me confidence that they will once again capture their familiar place in the top four; perhaps even do better than the fourth place finish of last season.

Go Gunners!

A virus that boggles the mind

gullibilitytest

It seems just about everyone’s going batshit crazy over Ebola right now, but a more sinister virus is the mind virus. Otherwise known as faith.

But faith can move mountains…

Er, no it can’t. Never has, never will. But it can move you to hold strange beliefs. Strange and dangerous beliefs that CAN blow up mountains (or centuries-old statues carved into mountains, at least).

Enough about mountains; here’s where I’m really going with this:

In September I wrote about the Prophet of Death, T.B. Joshua and the collapse of a structure on the site of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, in which more than a 100 people lost their lives. Nearly two months later, the remains of the South Africans who perished in that disaster, have not been repatriated back home.

Yesterday, TB (like the infectious disease) failed to show up at a coroner’s inquest into the cause of the building collapse, but his supporters see nothing wrong with this. One had the gall to say “Bringing The Man of God down to this court is not very comfortable for me.” Many others think that even questioning him is an insult, such is their faith in this fraud.

However there are scores more who still refuse to accept that TB should be held accountable, despite preliminary findings that the structure did not meet construction regulations and was not approved by authorities. They prefer to believe instead in conspiracy theories.

One idiot faithful follower by the name of Moses Onyegu who heads up an organization known as Group of Concerned Students, believes that a C-130 Hercules jet flying over the building dropped explosives onto it, or something similar. Another, Oloja Olanrewaju, who is the secretary-general (yes another one of those militaristic sounding titles so enamoured of despots) of a group called the National Association of Nigerian Students, believes that (wait for it) “shadow stakeholders who benefit indirectly from any crisis,” may be involved.

Yet another, Nasir Lawal, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, and who is the leader of a youth group in southwestern Ondo state, believes that the rag-tag bunch of Islamist degenerates known as Boko Haram have the capability of sending a plane from the jungles thousands of kilometers away, to bomb the building. Their runway in the jungles must apparently be so well hidden, that the Nigerian army has failed to spot it all these years.

The striking thing about the three people mentioned above, is that they all lead youth organizations. If they hold such idiotic beliefs, who knows what bullshit they’re cramming into the heads of their young followers.

People will always have strange beliefs. But when those beliefs are supported by religious conviction, it gets pretty hairy.

Cartoon credit: Skeptics Guide To The Universe.

Back to basics

English: Science icon from Nuvola icon theme f...I originally created this blog to rant about strange beliefs, political douche-baggery and things that are not so vile. And to promote science in the process off course. Off late I seem to have posted more about stuff of little or no consequence

Back to basics then…

It’s disconcerting, no infuriating when people bash science and level all sorts of wild accusations at it whether to protect their own narrow reasoning, or to promote it, or even benefit materially from it. Even more infuriating are people who wax lyrical about faith, and worse still are those who debase science to promote ideological thinking and false beliefs.

Recently Steven Pinker wrote a brilliant article in the New Republic, where he reveals why science is not the enemy. [Science is not the enemy of the Humanities].

To whet your appetite, here are some choice passages:

  • One would think that writers in the humanities would be delighted and energized by the efflorescence of new ideas from the sciences. But one would be wrong. Though everyone endorses science when it can cure disease, monitor the environment, or bash political opponents, the intrusion of science into the territories of the humanities has been deeply resented. Just as reviled is the application of scientific reasoning to religion; many writers without a trace of a belief in God maintain that there is something unseemly about scientists weighing in on the biggest questions. In the major journals of opinion, scientific carpetbaggers are regularly accused of determinism, reductionism, essentialism, positivism, and worst of all, something called “scientism.”

  • Scientism, in this good sense, is not the belief that members of the occupational guild called “science” are particularly wise or noble. On the contrary, the defining practices of science, including open debate, peer review, and double-blind methods, are explicitly designed to circumvent the errors and sins to which scientists, being human, are vulnerable. Scientism does not mean that all current scientific hypotheses are true; most new ones are not, since the cycle of conjecture and refutation is the lifeblood of science. It is not an imperialistic drive to occupy the humanities; the promise of science is to enrich and diversify the intellectual tools of humanistic scholarship, not to obliterate them. And it is not the dogma that physical stuff is the only thing that exists. Scientists themselves are immersed in the ethereal medium of information, including the truths of mathematics, the logic of their theories, and the values that guide their enterprise. In this conception, science is of a piece with philosophy, reason, and Enlightenment humanism. It is distinguished by an explicit commitment to two ideals, and it is these that scientism seeks to export to the rest of intellectual life.

  • The second ideal is that the acquisition of knowledge is hard. The world does not go out of its way to reveal its workings, and even if it did, our minds are prone to illusions, fallacies, and super- stitions. Most of the traditional causes of belief—faith, revelation, dogma, authority, charisma, conventional wisdom, the invigorating glow of subjective certainty—are generators of error and should be dismissed as sources of knowledge. To understand the world, we must cultivate work-arounds for our cognitive limitations, including skepticism, open debate, formal precision, and empirical tests, often requiring feats of ingenuity. Any movement that calls itself “scientific” but fails to nurture opportunities for the falsification of its own beliefs (most obviously when it murders or imprisons the people who disagree with it) is not a scientific movement).

  • To begin with, the findings of science entail that the belief systems of all the world’s traditional religions and cultures—their theories of the origins of life, humans, and societies—are factually mistaken. We know, but our ancestors did not, that humans belong to a single species of African primate that developed agriculture, government, and writing late in its history. We know that our species is a tiny twig of a genealogical tree that embraces all living things and that emerged from prebiotic chemicals almost four billion years ago. We know that we live on a planet that revolves around one of a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, which is one of a hundred billion galaxies in a 13.8-billion-year-old universe, possibly one of a vast number of universes. We know that our intuitions about space, time, matter, and causation are incommensurable with the nature of reality on scales that are very large and very small. We know that the laws governing the physical world (including accidents, disease, and other misfortunes) have no goals that pertain to human well-being. There is no such thing as fate, providence, karma, spells, curses, augury, divine retribution, or answered prayers—though the discrepancy between the laws of probability and the workings of cognition may explain why people believe there are. And we know that we did not always know these things, that the beloved convictions of every time and culture may be decisively falsified, doubtless including some we hold today.

  • Just as common, and as historically illiterate, is the blaming of science for political movements with a pseudoscientific patina, particularly Social Darwinism and eugenics. Social Darwinism was the misnamed laissez-faire philosophy of Herbert Spencer. It was inspired not by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, but by Spencer’s Victorian-era conception of a mysterious natural force for progress, which was best left unimpeded. Today the term is often used to smear any application of evolution to the understanding of human beings. Eugenics was the campaign, popular among leftists and progressives in the early decades of the twentieth century, for the ultimate form of social progress, improving the genetic stock of humanity. Today the term is commonly used to assail behavioral genetics, the study of the genetic contributions to individual differences.

  • And the critics should be careful with the adjectives. If anything is naïve and simplistic, it is the conviction that the legacy silos of academia should be fortified and that we should be forever content with current ways of making sense of the world. Surely our conceptions of politics, culture, and morality have much to learn from our best understanding of the physical universe and of our makeup as a species.

Now please do yourself a massive service and read the article in its entirety at the link provided above.

The journey to unbelief, revisited

I spent some time last night going through a manuscript on atheism and unbelief, sent to me by a work colleague. Reading through it reminded me of my own personal journey from credulity to skepticism.

I could see the same mistakes in the manuscript that I had made when I first ventured out into the world of unbelief, trying to make sense of this bewildering, yet deliciously liberated frame of mind… no being. It was like deja vu.

I remember grabbing eagerly at any book I could find, any resource that would explain this new world to me. And most of the time I was led astray by utter nonsense. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. From the cunningly sublime, to the outrageously ridiculous. There’s all kinds – from conspiracy theorists to pushers of woo of every hue.

It is amazingly easy to be lulled into accepting bullshit, because it is comforting. Yes, bullshit is comforting. Which is probably why the world is full of it. Generally people want to be comforted. Who can blame them? Being or feeling challenged is not a natural desire.

This is for my colleague. I hope you are reading this. DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING YOU READ OR HEAR. EVEN YOUR EYES MAY DECEIVE YOU. DOUBT IS YOUR BEST FRIEND…

The awful reality that must be faced should a God exist

I know a women who believes that her God has been testing her, for most of her life. She also believes that despite everything she goes through, her faith is still strong and true.

She has a son who is in his mid-twenties now, but has been mentally challenged since shortly after birth. The women believes that the condition of her son is one of the biggest tests her God has set for her.

Perhaps you think that I’m insensitive by writing about this? The truth is I feel sad for her son, but I have mixed feelings of pity and loathing for her.

Here we encounter the first horrific reality of a world with a god in it: the women is apparently eminent enough to warrant a God making another human being become the guinea pig in a test of her faith. The obvious conclusion is that this god does not value all human life equally. The obvious question is, by what criteria?

If anyone knows the answer to that question, I’m sure people everywhere who are afflicted by one form or other of physical or mental disability, are waiting to hear it. Yes, I’m talking about God’s pawns, or the world’s human guinea pigs.

"Mine is a world of incomprehensible shad...

Image via Wikipedia

But let us continue. The women lives a reasonably good life, but not everything goes the way she would like. She’s self-employed, has a roof over her head, a decent enough husband, reasonably good food to eat, takes the odd holiday away. By most standards, she’s in a better position than the majority of the world’s population.

However, she has shitty relatives who are constantly fighting each other, business is mostly not that good, she has to skip paying some bills from month to month, she’s frequently sick (her husband too), close friends and family members have died from or are slowly succumbing to cancer, and she just can’t seem to win that Lottery. Worse, her immediate neighbor has just got that new 57 inch flat screen TV and imported Italian tiles in the kitchen, and the idiot across the road drives a super hot top-of-the-range Mercedes, while her husband makes do with that lousy Mazda that forever breaks down.

At these times she complains to anyone that will listen that her god is testing her, but she is confident that she has the strength to abide, and will be rewarded some day.

What she has failed to contemplate is the fact that somewhere in Africa, there is a child who has not eaten for days, using the hot sun and twinkling stars for his roof. This child is not thinking about TV’s and tiles, not even about that unmarked shallow grave that is his destiny. This child is even unaware he is the object of a cruel game in which a God has gone beyond testing, to torturing.

This my friends is the astounding reality of a world with a God in it.