In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Let's never forget that to powerful American politicians the Iraq war was seen as a holy Christian crusade.

iranianatheist:

A war that has killed thousands and left millions in complete devastation. A war that has increased hatred for America, a war that has also resulted in the death of thousands of American soldiers and personnel, a war that did not even go after the terrorists who had attacked America .. a war which…

"Rumsfeld, not a man who wore religion on his sleeve, appeared to be trying to manipulate - or curry favor with - the Bible-quoting Bush"

sagansense:

“The conventional bombs of World War II were called “blockbusters”, filled with 20 tons of TNT they could destroy a city block. All the bombs dropped on all the cities during World War II amounted to some 2 million tons of TNT — two megatons. Coventry, Rotterdam, Dresden and Tokyo — all the death that rained from the skies between 1939 and 1945 — a hundred thousand blockbusters, two megatons. Today, two megatons is the equivalent of a single thermonuclear bomb — one bomb with the destructive force of the second world war. But there are tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. The missile and bomber forces in the Soviet Union and United States have warheads aimed at over 15,000 designated targets. No place on the planet is safe.

The energy contained in these weapons — genies of death, patiently awaiting the rubbing of the lamps — totals far more than 10,000 megatons; but, with the destruction concentrated efficiently, not over six years but over a few hours. A blockbuster for every family on the planet; a World War II every second for the length of a lazy afternoon. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 70,000 people. In a full nuclear exchange, in the paroxysm of global death, the equivalent of a million Hiroshimas would be dropped all over the world. And, in such an exchange not everyone would be killed by the blast and the fire storm and the immediate radiation. There would be other agonies. The loss of loved ones; the legions of the burned and blinded and mutilated; disease; plague; long-lived radiation poisoning the soil and the water; the threat of stillbirths and malformed children; and, the hopeless sense of a civilization destroyed for nothing. The knowledge that we could have prevented it and did nothing.”

- Carl Sagan; The Blessing and the Curse: Carl Sagan on Nuclear War, Colonizing Space | "Who Speaks For Earth?" (Cosmos: A Personal Voyage)

omgitsbrilliant:

livindavidaloki:

redhjedi:

The Hulk ain’t never lied.

I can’t even express how much respect I have for Mark Ruffalo.  The dude’s on the US terrorism watchlist for fuck’s sake.

Omg, it’s true

(Source: pipeschapman)

deconversionmovement:

johnnyis:

skepticalavenger:

But they promise that they’ll be peaceful after everyone who thinks differently than them has been conquered, subjugated, or killed.

Atheism is responsible for at least 40,000,000 deaths in the 20th century alone. But no, totally right: religion is the problem here.

Once again missing the point.  When atheists employ this argument, we aren’t saying, “hey look, Christians killed more than atheists.”  What we’re saying is that some past wars were fueled by religious sentiments and that some modern wars are fueled by religious sentiments.  We’re not doing a casualty count.  Political agendas that involved atheism (i.e. Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot) are responsible for a number of deaths in the 20th century; but is atheism responsible for deaths today?  No.  I haven’t even found an article that reads, “Atheist man, in his 30s, kills street preacher.”  You know why?  Because we don’t do things like that.  But apart from war, kids are being killed regularly when parents choose faith healing over proven medicine; they’re being killed via exorcisms; they’re being mass slaughtered in genocides taking place around the world; they’re taught to flagellate in some parts of the world.  Homosexuals have been killed by pious Christians and non-believers in other counties are in hiding because they’ll get punished under so called blasphemy laws. 
So what we’re saying is that religions have been constant in their violence.  Again, we’re not casualty counting.  We’re not saying, “Christianity isn’t true because of the Dark Ages.”  It’s more like, “Christianity isn’t true because it had to spread by force from the fourth century onward.”  Truth doesn’t spread by force.  Proponents of evolution aren’t throwing grenades into Sunday schools that teach creationism; we’re not trying to outlaw the teaching of creationism in churches; we’re not protesting Christian marriages and stoning anti-gay preachers.  Atheists throughout history have been generally pacifistic.  Religious people throughout history have been generally violent.  Of course, you’ll point at non-extremists and say that that isn’t true, but when a religion like Christianity is directly responsible for millions of deaths throughout history, non-extremists don’t matter.  “Oh but we help a lot of people.”  With the ulterior motive of converting them!  I used to serve people in soup kitchens and go out to feed the homeless and bring them clothes; what else was I doing?  Preaching the Gospel of lies to them and that’s why we (myself and other members of the church) were really there.  Our supernatural aspirations for rewards in heaven definitely outweighed our humane altruism.  The point of all this?  Don’t make assumptions; do your best to get what we’re saying and when in doubt, ask.

Commentary.

deconversionmovement:

johnnyis:

skepticalavenger:

But they promise that they’ll be peaceful after everyone who thinks differently than them has been conquered, subjugated, or killed.

Atheism is responsible for at least 40,000,000 deaths in the 20th century alone. But no, totally right: religion is the problem here.

Once again missing the point.  When atheists employ this argument, we aren’t saying, “hey look, Christians killed more than atheists.”  What we’re saying is that some past wars were fueled by religious sentiments and that some modern wars are fueled by religious sentiments.  We’re not doing a casualty count.  Political agendas that involved atheism (i.e. Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot) are responsible for a number of deaths in the 20th century; but is atheism responsible for deaths today?  No.  I haven’t even found an article that reads, “Atheist man, in his 30s, kills street preacher.”  You know why?  Because we don’t do things like that.  But apart from war, kids are being killed regularly when parents choose faith healing over proven medicine; they’re being killed via exorcisms; they’re being mass slaughtered in genocides taking place around the world; they’re taught to flagellate in some parts of the world.  Homosexuals have been killed by pious Christians and non-believers in other counties are in hiding because they’ll get punished under so called blasphemy laws. 

So what we’re saying is that religions have been constant in their violence.  Again, we’re not casualty counting.  We’re not saying, “Christianity isn’t true because of the Dark Ages.”  It’s more like, “Christianity isn’t true because it had to spread by force from the fourth century onward.”  Truth doesn’t spread by force.  Proponents of evolution aren’t throwing grenades into Sunday schools that teach creationism; we’re not trying to outlaw the teaching of creationism in churches; we’re not protesting Christian marriages and stoning anti-gay preachers.  Atheists throughout history have been generally pacifistic.  Religious people throughout history have been generally violent.  Of course, you’ll point at non-extremists and say that that isn’t true, but when a religion like Christianity is directly responsible for millions of deaths throughout history, non-extremists don’t matter.  “Oh but we help a lot of people.”  With the ulterior motive of converting them!  I used to serve people in soup kitchens and go out to feed the homeless and bring them clothes; what else was I doing?  Preaching the Gospel of lies to them and that’s why we (myself and other members of the church) were really there.  Our supernatural aspirations for rewards in heaven definitely outweighed our humane altruism.  The point of all this?  Don’t make assumptions; do your best to get what we’re saying and when in doubt, ask.

Commentary.

Dying veteran’s ‘Fuck You’ letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

 To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

-Tomas Young

Dying veteran’s ‘Fuck You’ letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

-Tomas Young

A History of Violence

Despite the onslaught of violence in the news, could we be living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence? Pioneering cognitive scientist Steven Pinker provides remarkable insights into the history of violence, human nature, and their combined implications for our everyday lives; how reason is our only hope.