toxic thought waste site

Theological whimsy, metaphysical larks, and other spiritually radioactive waste products.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Adventures in Enlightenment: The Sleepy Taoist (conclusion)

[follow up on]

So I got much more sleep this month and definitely feel better rested than I have in a while. Which sucks, because if you get used to not being well rested you don't really miss it. Now I'm probably going to have to stick with my new schedule. Truth be told I'm still probably not sleeping enough, but I did average about 6 to 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night which believe it or not is almost decadent compared to what I'd rather do which is closer to 5 hours. (Of course I'd rather do 0 hours - I hate sleep - but that has never worked out too well for me).

The strangest part was waking up at 5:45 am on the weekend. It actually wasn't nearly as painful as I would have thought and some how morning time by myself seems much more enjoyable than evening time by myself. There is something about sitting around in the morning as the sun is rising and the house is almost alive with the anticipation of a new day starting. It's certainly more invigorating than fighting off sleep at the end of the day.

Anyway, did I learn anything about Taoism? I've read much of Alan Watts and even the Tao of Pooh but my favorite author on the topic is Raymond Smullyan. I've read his Tao is Silent many, many times. His interpretation is by far my favorite idea of a religion. If some religion had to be true and I got to pick I would pick out the philosophy laid out in his book. Strangely I can't even begin to describe what his take is. It seems somehow essentially Taoist that I can't put it into words. But honestly that's just probably just laziness on my part. Or maybe he doesn't actually *say* anything and I just like reading his nonsense.

Interestingly in the last year I read Karen Armstrong's "The Great Transformation". She has a great discussion of Taoism in there. Unfortunately I've loaned it out so I can't refresh my memory on it now. From what I recall Taoism was much younger than is usually suggested (it was actually about the last great Chinese religio-philosophical system to be created) and strangely was aligned with obedience with the government and other seemingly un-Taoistic ideas.

But in any case I'm not sure I learned to much about Taoism with my sleep experiment. Of course it's impossible to fight the Tao so in a sense I'm already a Taoist. Blah, blah, blah.

Tomorrow starts my next adventure in enlightenment. I wish there was a path to enlightenment that was based on eating chocolate. I would so kick the ass out of that one.



Friday, September 28, 2007

How to turn a skeptic into a theist

A question I think about occasionally is what small different changes in my past would have left me with my former religious beliefs intact or what changes in the future could make me a believer of some sort. This talk is one skeptic's discussion of how he grew to be a theist. I think if I went thru what he did that I could find myself believing as well (but it's still hard to imagine). His talk it utterly unconvincing on an intellectual level but emotionally I can easily see where he's coming from. An interesting discussion.


Creationist programmer disproves evolution with fortran

Or does he? markcc at GM/BM does a great unraveling of a supposed computer programmer's claim to have simulated the entire universe on his lap top to show that evolution can't have occurred.

This claim is so beyond idiotic to anyone who knows the first thing about physics or computers, but it's still fun to have Mark walk us through the debunking.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Discussion of Joseph Smith's lack of linguistic skills

Here's an interesting article about the linguistic improbabilities associated with the Mormon holy book. And just to keep it interesting there is some nice Mormon apologetics in his comment section.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

blasphemer 1.0

It seems increasingly common for an anti-christian remark to be met with the response: "That's not fair. You wouldn't say that if I was Muslim". And they are right. It's not fair. To be fair I need to renounce / deny / criticize all religions equally. Of course there are so many and new one's being created all the time so at first it seems almost hopeless to achieve this goal of equal opportunity religion mocking.

And that's when it occurred to me I could use the power of programming.

So I present the following code to be used by anyone who feels that they want to be precise and exhaustive in their blaspheming.

#! /usr/bin/env python
# Blaspheme a collection of religions in a systematic
# and automatic fashion.
# This program is provided as is with no guarantees
# you won't spend an eternity in any of a variety of
# hells. If you make money or fame or something else
# by using this program then you owe me my fair share.
# Otherwise just enjoy....

import fantasy.delusional

def blaspheme(bs):
    print "As far as I'm concerned:"
    print " There is no evidence that %s exists" % bs.deity()
    print " Your prophet, %s, (if he even existed) was merely a human" % bs.prophet()
    print " I hereby %s" % bs.unforgivable_sin()

def main():
    # create BeliefSystem ("bs") objects
    for bs in fantasy.delusional.belief_systems():

if __name__ == '__main__':


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bow before me!

Unless you got 1st or 2nd place.... Getting third place for a comment that took me 30 seconds to come up with has finally given me a sense of validation. That emptiness of being an atheist is finally filled. Thank you random stranger on random site. You truly are the friendliest atheist of all..... :)


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Out of Thin Air

I'm always looking for ways to be more informed and receive balanced, timely information on matters of scientific and philosophical matters. Unfortunately all I ever find are events like this.

Actually the thing I love most about this is that after you watch the initial promo, the announcer stays on the screen in the creepy yet funny infinite loop with him blinking and slightly smiling like some sort of cheerful unthinking automaton. Hey, wait, that would explain a few things...

I would totally go to this if I didn't have kids and my time wasn't valuable. How I miss grad school.



Saturday, September 22, 2007

Infidel Links - 2007-09-22

"Suck it Jesus" (uncensored)

Bill Maher's religious test for politicians

Not too surprisingly belief in creationism is correlated with belief that the world is flat

Never let Jesus do the grocery shopping (124)

The JesOs operating system

God's in trouble, since he doesn't have any lawyers. (Get it? All the lawyers are in hell.... heh, heh)

Personally I'd prefer a monkey god

Now we see why there are no atheists in fox holes

You are really trying to make it impossible for me to vote for anyone, aren't you?

Who hangs ten for our sins?

Dinosaurs and:
- Bible II
- Buddhism II



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Psalms sans soul

OK, get your shocked face ready. The Jews didn't believe in a soul or the after life. And to make things worse they believed in multiple gods. At least that's what this guy says.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Good ol' H. L. Mencken

As I was browsing through one of my favorite counter-apologetics magazines I came across the following Mencken quote in this article:
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overborne by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the human race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious....

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence for witches, and deserves no more respect.... I believe in complete freedom of thought and speech, alike for the humblest to the mightiest, and in the utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in an organized society.

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than to be ignorant.

I wonder how sad he'd be to see how little progress has been made since his time. Or perhaps he was too savvy about human nature to be surprised at all. Any way, Mencken is the dude. He does not need to suck it.


Friday, September 14, 2007

The vas deferens between Catholics and sane people.

Recently, my wife was chatting with a women in the park as our two kids and her 4 kids were playing together. It turns out that she had learned with her last birth that for a reason she didn't disclose the doctor told her that having more children would be life threatening. As a good catholic she and her husband consulted with their priest. Now of course using condoms is right out, but he agreed that she could get her tubes tied, but that it would be a sin for the husband to get snipped.

This is stupid on several levels.

First of all if you are going to your priest for medical advice you are probably not bright enough to care for yourself and should be made a ward of the state.

Secondly, for those of you who haven't had to think about these things or who aren't aware of the biological significance of this difference, let's just say that the cost difference is an order of a magnitude cheaper for the dude to get snipped. Not to mention that it's a vastly safer out patient procedure for the man.

Any way, to paraphrase Kathy Griffin, Catholic's can suck it.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christian Radio Watch: Lee Strobel - The Rock Star of Christian Apologetics

The one thing that always cracks me up about Bible apologetics is that it is an attempt to give evidence for something that you are supposed to take on faith. I mean any one can have faith in something that seems likely and for which a strong case can be made. It takes actual faith to believe in crazy stuff that your mind is constantly rejecting. But of course no can one silence that little voice of common sense completely so apologetics is the result.

As I was saying in my previous post there has been an upsurge in interviews defending the historical accuracy of the bible and the historicity of Jesus. And this interview with Lee Strobel is a great example of that. His interview is a special gem since he is able to condemn bible scholars who don't believe the bible is 100% true as the equivalent of the DaVinci Code conspiracy theorists and then implies that "militant" atheists are the equivalent of 9/11 hi-jackers.

Any way, you can hear it from the master here.



Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Christian Radio Watch: Reinventing Jesus

It seems like in the last year there has been an up surge in titles defending the historicity of Jesus. Probably this in not entirely unrelated to the fact there there has also been a rise in books challenging that historicity. Bart Ehrman seems to be the guy irritating them the most at this time.

Today they discuss (1h:31m) how awesome the authenticity of the new testament is. My favorite quote:

INTERVIEWER: Pretend for a minute that you aren't a Christian. Objectively, how credible is the gospel record?

AUTHOR: The New Testament canon is incredibly credible.

How can you argue with that?



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Suck it Jesus"

I thought this was about the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I really hope someone got a video of this and it ends up on youtube. Wait, let me check for it. Nope.

I wonder how you justify religious hate speech? Pretty much if someone makes fun of your deity and your deity lets them then that is a problem for you and your deity. I'm pretty sure the maker of the universe can handle them self just fine without your help. If you make a big stink aren't you just admitting that you are concerned that your deity needs help defending them self? Do we really need laws protecting god from comedians?

Any way, gave me a good chuckle.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Infidel Links - 2007-09-09

Bringing Biblical principles to the internet in a whole new creepy way

Can you be an atheist and a saint? Were about to find out

I can't wait to see what his crazy sidekick looks like

As far as I'm concerned partial differential equations are the work of the devil

Could there be any other mistranslations lurking in there? Could there?

God answers wheelchair bound boy's prayer

Mostly this is here just for the picture of Mormon underwear

Dinosaurs and....
Not causing others to lose their faith
The devil's extended family



Thursday, September 06, 2007

Christian Radio Watch: The Truth Behind the New Atheists

It's time to learn more about these new atheists (1h:31m) that have been stirin' up trouble.

In summary, Dawkins based all his "research" on google searches and Christians invented science. *snap*



Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Christian Radio Watch: Irony == Truth, dontcha know?

You really have to like the reasoning that ironic undertones in a text support it's authenticity (1h31m). By this reasoning Mormonism is even more true than Protestantism and Scientology is truer still. Hmmmm... I may be confusing crazy with irony. Anyway, another classic from Moody Broadcasting.



Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Adventures in Enlightenment: The Sleepy Taoist

When hungry, eat, when tired, sleep.
So this month I'll be a Taoist. Specifically my challenge will be to sleep when tired. This is actually a big challenge for me. I've actually spent enormous time and energy fighting the natural sleep cycle. At the height of my disciplined sleep reduction program I had gotten down to about 5 hours a night. I'm currently averaging about 5 and 1/2 during the work week and eagerly catching up as much as I can on the weekend. If prayer worked I'd use it to get my kids to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday. But alas if it works at all it is only ironically.

As someone who has to hold a job, I need to be in a certain location at a certain time most days so the rules of engagement for this month will be to fix one end of my sleep cycle and let the other be controlled by the Tao. So I will wake up at 5:45 am every day (including the weekend) and just let my natural urge to sleep happen at the other end.

I am very curious to see what happens. I actually think I naturally tend to need less sleep than average but I'm not really sure anymore since I've been fighting sleep for so long. I don't know if I know what natural is with respect to my sleep habits.

I can tell you that waking up at that time on the weekend will require an iron will (not very Taoist I reckon) but if I'm truly getting enough sleep then it really shouldn't be a big deal. I'm very interested to see what it's like to have an hour of two to my self in the morning on the weekend. Sounds almost decadent.

I'll assume when I nod off the first time in an evening that this is the Tao telling me to go to sleep and I will respect it, no matter how many interesting things I can think of that I'd rather do than sleep (which is a lot).

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Adventures in Enlightenment: Lent (thoughts)

[follow up to this]

First a summary of how I did. As a general statement I'll say that I wasn't a perfect stickler for staying away from the things that I gave up. In fact, I have a semi-good reason for planned lapses of a sort. I think the key to giving up something is being able to engage in the bad habit (or what have you) and not fall completely off the wagon. In fact I'd say getting back on the wagon is the most important skill to have. But you can't practice getting on unless you fall off at least a little.

- cokes (sodas): this was actually pretty easy. I've been slowly weaning myself off these for the last year or two and it was time to just be done with it. I'll allow myself an occasional can or two but I'm not planning on buying these to have around the house or work anymore.

- chocolate: I eat exclusively dark chocolate anyway so I'm not so sure giving this up was a net health gain. I'm still not sure what baseline I want to return to with this. The most humorous aspect of this goal for the month is that my wife's family paid for a cruise as a sort of family reunion. For anyone who has been on a cruise I'm sure you'll agree that avoiding chocolate on a cruise is a fairly daunting thing to do. But I did pretty good all things considered.

- religion/atheism: so here's the really critical item of this month's experiment. Would I miss reading about and writing about religion and disbelief for a month and how would I otherwise fill my time? Turns our I didn't miss it too much. It's sort of like going on a TV fast. At first you miss it, but then you are thankful that you've cut yourself off and are amazed at all the fun things you all of a sudden have time to do (in my case computer science reading / programming projects). Even something as simple as simply sleeping instead of reading about or writing about religion/disbelief is so much healthier on so many levels. Anyway we'll see where this leads me. Tentatively I'm thinking of setting a timer and limiting my time with all things religious to a small fraction of my week. Interestingly, I'm not very tempted to open up my new feed reader and start catching up and so far haven't. I sort of like the extra time. *sigh*

As far as lent as a concept goes I'll have to file this under clever mind control techniques. On the one hand it seems like practicing discipline is just a good thing no matter what. On the other hand giving up pleasure to prove yourself to god is sort of warped. The point it to think about how much more important god is than your own enjoyment and how you are failing to serve him enough. So you spend a month or so of deprivation thinking about how much you suck. So now you are in a position to realize how unworthy you are and how much help you need from higher powers. Well done religion engineers. Well done.

Anyway, I'm still pondering my next enlightenment adventure, hopefully something by tomorrow.