Monday, March 30, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 28

If we go back to the beginning, we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve their own interests. If the ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.
~ Baron D'Hollbach

The Baron D'Hollbach was a French aristocrat and perhaps the first modern atheist to express his views pointedly and without reservation. He did write his incredibly controversial book anonymously, but at his home he hosted many gatherings of like-minded people to give them an opportunity for expression of controversial views and a feeling of belonging to a common mindset about religion. If atheism has a modern "founder" of the philosophy, it would probably be him, and not the Hitchens and Dawkins phenomenon of the last decade, who took the first steps to make saying "there is no god and believing in one is neither necessary nor a foregone conclusion" acceptable in society.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 27

Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled.
~Pierre Elliott Trudeau

That guy was awesome. I'll bet Stephen Harper is embarrassed to even share the same title with the man, which just makes it even better. There's someone who had a take-no-crap, say-what-he-thinks attitude. Not like the Harper Gag Order routine. And beyond just a great persona, he set the tone for society to accept things like totally secular government and same-sex relationships. It's hard to complain about that!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bowser Washcloth!

So, as per the poll results (thanks to those who voted!), it's time to start introducing some bad guys to the Mario character washcloth lineup!

This is the first one that really seems appropriate black!

It's the Bowser Washcloth!


The finished product is 44 stitches wide and 61 rows long, just like the others, and is also worked from right to left instead of from bottom to top.

CO 44 stitches. Knit three rows. The next row (row 4) will be a WS row and the first row of the pattern chart (click to enlarge):

Start and end every row with K2. For the 40 stitches in between the edge stitches, follow the chart. Blank spaces are knit stitches for RS rows and purl stitches for WS rows. Dots are purl stitches for RS rows and knit stitches for WS rows.

After the chart is finished, you should be about to start a RS row. Knit this row and the next two (three rows total), then BO with knit stitches.

The Bowser cloth is probably the most complicated of the four patterns so far. However, it still only took me a couple of evenings to whip up the test cloth. I know it's been a month since the Peach cloth, and I'm trying to put out the cloths sooner. The next one will be Yoshi (since he was a close runner-up in the poll), and I'll try to get that out around the end of the month of March. Watch for it!

(Psst! Looking for the other Mario-gang washcloth designs? There are also Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Boo patterns available!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 26

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of skeptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
~Bertrand Russell

Russell's Teapot in his own words. In short: it's not my job to prove something does not exist when there is no proof that it does. Anyone can claim something exists and, when challenged, say that it is impossible to prove that it doesn't exist. That's not an argument. That's avoiding the issue. When someone says, "There's no proof that teapot exists", the correct response is not, "But you can't prove it doesn't exist!" The correct response is, "Here is my evidence for saying the teapot exists" or "Here is my sound reasoning as to why you should believe me when I say the teapot exists".

It makes far more logical sense to not believe in the existence of something for which there is absolutely zero proof, then to believe in something for which there is no proof, just because there is no evidence to the contrary. After all, the logical extension of the non-belief stance is that a person believes in only things which have evidence to support their existence, and, as new evidence comes in, that person adapts their beliefs to suit what we understand about reality. On the other hand, the logical extension of the believer's stance is to believe in everything unless someone can prove it's not true, which means believing in anything anyone tells you unless someone else proves otherwise. Fairies, unicorns, every deity ever imagined, leprechauns, the Loch Ness monster, etc. Which of those two options sounds more rational?

And, more importantly, which one sounds more like the person is thinking about and engaged in the world they live in rather than believing whatever they're told?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 25

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes... A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.
~Bertrand Russell

Monday, March 2, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 24

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
~Carl Sagan

This is truly the root of atheism. Believers are always presenting Pascal's Wager in some form or another: "Why not believe? If you believe, and there is a supreme being, you get to go to heaven. If you don't, and there is one, you'll go to hell. Either way, none of it matters if there is no God, so what difference does it make? Believing could win you eternal life, or nothing. Not believing could get you eternal suffering, or nothing. Why choose the option with no good outcomes?"

As always, they focus too much on the hypothetical afterlife - and only their version of it, might I add - and not on the life we know we are currently living. I consider it a massive waste of my precious time alive to sell my integrity, my dignity, and my intelligence for some vague sense of reassurance that nothing is my fault, "God has a plan". I refuse to live in a state of deliberate ignorance and vapidity just so that I get to have easy answers to all the great questions of existence. Why would I want to ignore the way the universe really works just so I wouldn't have to learn and grow throughout my lifetime? Why would I want to have morality dictated to me so that I don't have to make any difficult decisions using my own mental faculties? It's laziness, it's fear, and it's an unwillingness to accept that we are not special and that there are no easy answers.

Sure, it would be nice to believe that some father-figure deity up there cares about me and has created some kind of destiny just especially for me. And it would be nice to think that this guy wanted me to live forever in eternal happiness (just as long as I believed in his existence, no matter how much doublethink and willful ignorance it required). But it's more important to me to be honest in my search for purpose and knowledge in the lifetime I know I have, rather than to sacrifice my integrity and my intelligence in exchange for something for which no one can offer proof. Why focus on an afterlife when I can have a sincere and fulfilling present-life?

Delusion, no matter how much more comforting, is not worth losing the ability to understand the sober truth of the reality of the universe.