Monday, August 8, 2011

Militant Atheism

For any atheists who might be reading this post, the title is a name that you probably try to avoid. A militant atheist is someone who tries to push his own disbelief in a deity on other people. I personally hear the term thrown around a lot, and it seems that it is of the opinion of most people that these militant atheists are as bad as a fundamentalist Christian.

It is a rude act to attempt to change someone's opinion on religion, whether it is to change it from one faith to another, to change it from disbelief to belief, or vice versa. I am here to tell you that this rude act is a necessary one in this instance, as religion is a plague upon humanity and science. If we lived in a society where only certain people could vote, or only a small council of people made decisions for us, these people would be fine living in their ignorance, but sadly we live in one where everyone can vote or voice their opinion on an issue, influencing it in their own way. In such a society, we need to try our best to rid every ounce of ignorance in our populace. A very large source of this ignorance is religion, and in the United States it is Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism and Islam.

These religions convince people that homosexuality is wrong, that certain fields of science are wrong, and hold society back in general. They oppose things such as stem cell research, abortion, and marriage rights for homosexuals, for no good reason other than that their parents and preacher told them to and they never questioned it. For those of us who have transcended that state, there is no reason that we shouldn't try to help others see the rational side of arguments. It is not the people you should hate for "being stupid" and believing, it is the idea that they follow you should hate. There is nothing wrong with hating an idea and making others question it. We can only bring more understanding and enlightenment into our society by doing so.

You may be "stooping to the level of fundamentalists" by asking other to question their own beliefs, and you may become disliked by some, but you will still be aiding humanity. The faster everyone adapts to our most current scientific theories, the faster our society can advance. Passive methods are not very effective.

So you should not fear the title of "militant atheist". The next time the subject of religion arises with someone you know to be religious, you should simply ask them to explain to you why they believe, and if they have ever questioned their belief. Perhaps point out some flaws in their logic, but aggressive arguments on this topic tend to make them defensive and extremely close-minded. Just get them to question their own beliefs in a logical fashion, and their own internal battle has begun.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Moral Relativity

On the subject of morality, most people tell me that they think morals are totally or partially objective. In other words, they say that there are intrinsically good and bad actions that you can do, and that doing good things makes you a good person, and that doing bad things makes you a bad person. For example, you might think that murdering your fellow, law-abiding countrymen is a bad deed objectively. Almost everyone outside of an insane asylum would agree that you shouldn't do that.

The problem of this becomes apparent when you imagine them from a non-human, scientific perspective. Whether you kill people or not makes no difference to the rocks, or the air, or the stars. The only thing that the morals could matter to are humans, and possibly other sentient life forms if we ever met one. The only evidence for the objectivity of morals is the fact that almost everyone agrees on certain ones. But this is argumentum ad populum and is not real evidence at all.

The truth is, morality is purely man-made and relative to each person. Morals are no different than any other meme that we have created. If someone disagrees that it is wrong to kill other people, it is not because he is insane, it's because he is only different. Different memes make up his mind.

There are several reasons why so many people have similar morality. First of all, it is passed down from your parents and is deeply ingrained in your mind. This is going to be very difficult to change, especially because it is rare that people question these seemingly objective morals. There is also the fact that you are severely punished for acting contrarily to the moral standards. You can go to jail for a very long time if you do something "bad" enough.

Morals are not a bad thing for the survival of our race due to their subjectivity. They are actually quite good. The reason that the moral "you should not kill other people" exists is for the preservation of our race. If people just randomly killed each other because they felt like it, there probably wouldn't be very many humans left. If someone's personal goal did not include the preservation of our race, then he might just start killing people. Luckily though, we can easily stop him before he kills too many.

Let me know what you think about this below.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Technological Singularity

I apologize for not posting yesterday, I had gotten the free Nexus S from Google and had to play with it. To make up for it, I will spend extra time on today's post.

The technological singularity is a popular topic in recent science news. For those of you who might not understand what exactly it is, allow me to explain what it is (from my point of view, of course).

The technological singularity means that technology in our world will increase at an infinitely exponential rate. Our world will change drastically, and in unpredictable ways that are most likely too advanced for our ape-minds to understand. This all revolves around a single occurrence of something called the event horizon. This happens when consciousness is recreated in a computer or machine. The idea is that as humans gain more knowledge, we are able to increase the processing speed of our computers. So, if computers become smarter then they can increase their own processing speed. The higher the processing speeds, the faster they will be able to develop new technologies increase their own processing speeds, thus creating new technology at an infinitely exponential rate.

There is no guarantee that this will ever occur, but some people are predicting that it will happen within the next 20 years. My personal opinion is that consciousness cannot be programmed in the kinds of computers that we use every day. My reasoning behind this is that they cannot programmatically recreate  features that exist within quantum physics. For example, it is impossible to program a random number generator. All we can do is create pseudo-random number generators. The difference is that it is possible to predict the next number in a pseudo RNG if the seed for the calculations is known, but a real RNG cannot be predicted. Random number generators are a very common occurrence among quantum particles. If you have ever heard of Schrรถdinger's cat, you should know this. It seems to me that if we cannot even program such a simple mechanism as a random number generator, that something as complex as consciousness would not be possible either. There is such thing as a quantum computer, which may provide functionality for such things, however my knowledge on them is limited.

There are a few different things that could potentially happen after the event horizon. People theorize that  we will live in an "augmented reality" kind of world, where technology is extremely integrated into everything that we do. There is also the possibility that robots could run around and destroy the human race (but that's not really likely). If you expect the latter to happen, you need to stop believing what you see in movies. Robots would probably have no reason to want to kill us, and would probably be willing to reason with us. They would be infinitely more intelligent than us, and it seems that the more intelligent a race is, the less hostile it is.

Don't start blowing all of your money expecting life to drastically change and be perfect when this happens (which could possibly be soon), because it is definitely not a guaranteed thing. Comment about your opinion on this below.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why All Drugs Should Be Legal

Yesterday, I posted about the positive and negative effects of LSD (mostly the positive) and concluded by saying that all drugs should be legalized. This may seem like a very bad, radical idea. While I admit it is a very radical statement, I have reason to believe that it is a good idea.

To begin with, all drugs have their own positive and negative effects. Psychedelics can make people extremely creative, but it can also cause them to become schizophrenic or develop HPPD. Opiates can be very addicting and bad for your health, but they are great painkillers. Marijuana can make people lazy and uninspired, but it also acts to increase some people's creativity, help some people relax, and help some people with depression. There is very little chance that the negative effects will show if these drugs are used very minimally, however. Some people may use these drugs circumstantially to maximize their benefits and minimize their negative effects. Even more people would do this if they were well educated on each substance.

Of course if every drug was legalized, people would abuse certain drugs and receive many of these negative effects. But they already do this, whether the drugs are legal or not. I think it's safe to assume that these people would not accomplish very much in life, anyways, and that they would form the lowest class of society. Everyone would not go out and get addicted to heroin. Would you abuse heroin if it was legal? A lot of current drug use comes from the taboo of the act, adding an extra factor of the drugs being "cool". If all drugs were legalized, it is more probable that drug abuse would be reduced due to this fact alone, not to mention that the population would receive accurate, unbiased information about the drugs that they can freely use.

My views are a bit conservative, and I do believe that social Darwinism is the healthiest, most natural system for a society. It is an obvious fact of life that certain members of the ecosystem must be lower and inferior to others, and that some are also superior to others. For an example, look at any animal tribe in nature. The weaker animals are caught by predators or disease and are killed, while the stronger ones survive and reproduce. This is how evolution works in nature and in society. If you take a moment to consider the successes of communism, you will understand that such a system of equality simply does not work.  Imagine a group of deer being chased by a lion, and one of them breaks its leg. The Marxist says that the deer who broke its leg deserves to live, even if it means that the rest of the deer must die as well trying to save it, while the Darwinist says that the deer with the broken leg deserves to die while so that the rest of the deer can live (this is also what actually happens in this situation). This analogy may seem odd, but do not forget that we are still animals. If you take a close look at human nature, we hardly act differently than animals in the wild. While it may seem that there are no more "lions" chasing humanity anymore and communism may be a good option just to keep everyone happy, there are actually many threats to our existence. There is the commonly mentioned threat of global warming, and many others such as the threat of an energy crisis, and the threat of water supply. If we do not advance at a fast enough rate, our existence is at a risk.

The fact of drugs being illegal is enacting a form of communism. Instead of some people receiving their negative effects and some maximizing their positive effects, our governments want everyone to be on an equal, communistic playing field. Imagine the kind of science we could develop if our scientists could freely use psychedelic drugs. Not only would they be able to study the effects of the drugs themselves, but they would be able to use their creativity enhancing effects in order to better theorize. Is the fact that some people would abuse drugs and have their lives ruined a terrible enough fact that we can forego this advantage? Human morality derived from Christianity tells us so, that we should help the poor, but it is this mindset that inhibits society the most. Countries that legalize all drugs would surpass countries that don't.

It is important that all drugs be legalized, not only the ones that we deem helpful to society. If you give someone the power to make any substance illegal, then more and more of them will slowly become illegal again until we're in the shitty state that we're in today, where only one drug (alcohol) is legal in most places.

And some more obvious benefits of drug legalization: purer, cheaper drugs; drugs would no longer be cut with dangerous substances to maximize profits; and taxation of drugs. People are going to get drugs whether they are legal or not. The fact that they're illegal just allows gangs and mafias to take control of the market. Do you trust these kinds of people to manufacture and sell chemicals that you intend to ingest? Also, every drug purchase that anyone makes would only be further supporting and funding these organizations. Please let me know what you think about this by commenting.

Monday, August 1, 2011


On the topic of illegal substances, the one that I find to be the most interesting is LSD. It was discovered to be hallucinogenic by Albert Hofmann in 1938, and quite a lot has happened since then.

Although I have never tried it myself, I have some friends who have. One friend agreed to answer some questions about the experience for this post, but has asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. He said that first of all, LSD is not powerfully hallucinogenic for him and that the visual effects are subtle unless he goes into higher doses (though this may not be the case for everyone; it is a mysterious and subjective experience). He said that it mostly seems to intensify his emotions and expand his consciousness. He says that any emotions that he feels while tripping seem to be hugely magnified. If he is sad, he feels unbearably sad and uncomfortable, and if he is happy, he feels euphoric. When asked what he meant when he says that his consciousness was expanded, he said it was hard to explain but tried his best anyways. He said that it felt as though his mind had burst out of a box that had been inhibiting his thoughts prior to using the LSD. He said that it was as though his mind had reached a heightened state of existence. This sounds like a very enlightening and unique experience to me.

LSD also has many therapeutic effects on your mind. Many people report that LSD helps them introspect very thoroughly and from an objective viewpoint, allowing them to make realizations about themselves that can be life-changing. This includes ridding people of alcoholism and addiction to other drugs. Some studies professed a 50% success rate at curing alcoholism, whereas Alcoholics Anonymous only has a 10% success rate (

Such an amazing drug must have its downsides to your health, right? After a quick search on Google, I discovered that there have been no deaths caused by LSD, and that there is no evidence for long-lasting effects on the brain or other parts of the body. It is possible for LSD to make you become schizophrenic, but only if you have a history of schizophrenia in your family. There is also a risk of developing HPPD, which causes some hallucinogenic effects to last permanently after your trip (

I am not endorsing the illegal use of LSD, but I am curious as to why it is illegal. I personally believe that all psychoactive chemicals should be legalized, and I will post about why that is tomorrow.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Religion, Part Three: Pantheism

Pantheism can be a tricky subject. There are no obvious logical fallacies with the idea of it, and being that the god believed in is not personal and not necessarily omnipotent. Pantheism means that God is a part of all of the universe, and dualistic pantheism implies that there is a spiritual world hidden beneath our physical world.

While there are no logical fallacies within the idea itself, the entire belief of it is unfounded and, to a degree, dangerous to scientific advances. There is no evidence that any part of pantheism could be true. I look at it as a sort of "god-of-the-gaps", living between the gaps of humanity's knowledge about our minds and the universe. At this stage in humanity, the gaps are small and the only reasonable form of a god is pantheism. But that is not how science and logic work. It is illogical to fill in gaps with such an idea. Pantheism is not a theory, it is a hypothesis at best; the result of an undying need for humans to believe in a higher deity. I will not pretend to understand this need, but I see that it is very common.

Filling in the gaps with this dualistic kind of god gives us an easy excuse to just give up on the difficult problems in science. If you take a look at the history of religions, God is used to explain a lot of phenomena that we now understand perfectly through science; things such as lightning, the sun, and disease were explained for a very long time as "spirits" and "gods". We should recognize this pattern and see that blaming a god on anything is eventually proven to be wrong.

What scientific problems am I speaking of when I say that pantheism could be used to cover the gaps in science? There are a few problems in physics that it could explain, but the biggest one is the human consciousness. The human consciousness is a very difficult problem indeed; one that is almost impossible for us to mentally conceive. It is very easy to just explain it as a spiritual entity and ignore it, but that gets us no where. The duality in pantheism suggests that somewhere in our brain is a link to the "spiritual" side of our universe, and that this is where all decisions come from. Free will is a very messy subject in science, and if we just say that it comes from magic then our brain suddenly makes a lot of sense. The brain just inputs its senses to the part of God that is in your brain, and God tells you what to do about it. Although the problem of consciousness is a large one, this is not the way to go about it. We cannot recreate this dualistic consciousness in a machine. Technology in this department ends here if this is where we stand, but the technology that could come from programmed consciousness is nearly infinite.

So while pantheism does not contradict with our science (yet) and is logically sound, it is still not a good replacement for the personal god. It is just as dangerous to science as any other kind of magical thinking. Comment and let me know what you think about all of this.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Religion, Part Two: Monotheism

With monotheism, we have two main assumptions about a personal god. First of all, he must be omnipotent. He must be able to control everything, all the time, and be able to break the laws of physics whenever he wants. This is important for him to be "personal" and be a part of everyone's lives and enact his "plan". He also needs omnipotence in order to create the universe. The second assumption is that he cares about humanity and controls its destiny in a non-malevolent fashion. This one is more obvious, being that he is the personal god depicted in Christianity.

The logical contradictions here should be obvious now that I have laid out these two features of a personal god, but allow me to point them out more thoroughly. First of all, omnipotence itself is self-contradicting. In the classic example of "what would happen if an unstoppable force met and immovable object?", omnipotence is logically impossible. What if this omnipotent god used its magical powers to create a rock so strong that even he could not break it? If there was some rock that this god could not break, would that not mean that it is not omnipotent?

Furthermore, there is the fact that our world is obviously not controlled by an omnipotent, non-malevolent god. An omnipotent god that truly cared about his people would not even allow evil to happen. Assuming that, in Christianity, all of the acts on the ten commandments are "evil", how could such a mighty god even allow these acts to exist? Does he see people murdering each other and stealing from each other and just shake his fist at them from the sky? That does not sound like something an omnipotent being would do.

Some might say that he does not interfere for the sake of free will. In the example of Christianity, this excuse is hardly worth noting. It is a sin in the religion of Christianity to disbelieve in their god. Once again, the god does nothing to prevent the terrible evil of other religions existing and of atheism existing. You cannot say that your god gives you free will without sacrificing either his good will, or his omnipotence. And you cannot say you believe in a personal god without sacrificing logic.