Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, May 24, 2013

Silent prayer, please

mentions of God, miracles, and prayer have become the argot of post-disaster reportage. They shouldn’t be. If you want to pray for Oklahoma or thank God it didn’t kill more people, go ahead. But please, especially if you’re a journalist, keep it to yourself.
Thanking the Lord for deliverance just doesn’t make any sense. Any God powerful and attentive enough to save survivors’ lives should also be powerful and attentive enough to stop the catastrophe in the first place. It’s insulting, futile, and distracting from the reality of natural disasters to inject your god into a calamity like Oklahoma's.
Not that most public figures are hesitating to do so...
Prayers for Oklahoma: Wolf Blitzer and other journalists should leave God and miracles out of natural disasters. - Slate Magazine

I heard a pastor on the radio, asked what possible words of consolation he could offer survivors of the woman and small child who lost their lives in the storm, trying futilely to rescue another small family member whose elementary school was destroyed. "Just remember that God loves you as much as you love your own children, as much as she loved hers."

Shameless. Shameful.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Godlike Great Programmers

The final strategy of those seeking compatibility between religion and science is to retreat into something that is reminiscent of solipsism... In a recent book, ”Where the Conflict Really Lies,” the eminent analytical philosopher Alvin Plantinga acknowledges the possibility of evolution, but suggests that random mutations and the like are “clearly compatible with their being caused by God. 
Plantinga argues that Christian believers have a sixth sense, a “sensus divinitatis” that allows them to sense God, with that sense defective or absent in nonbelievers. One could, of course, equally generate an infinite range of similar hypotheses, none scientifically testable, such as “only Zeus believers have a working Zeus sense,” “only ghost believers have a ghost sense,” and so forth, but...
But that's enough. My acute sixth sense for theo-nonsense is quavering.

Godlike Great Programmers: The Scientists Arguing for Religious Belief : The New Yorker (Thanks for the link, DB)

Friday, May 10, 2013


Hey everybody!  My name's Jon, I'm a Philosophy major at MTSU, born and raised in New Orleans, LA.  This is just a quick excerpt from my upcoming book Stark Raving Lunatic: Life and Times of a 20-year-old Part-Time Cynic which contains, amongst many others, thoughts on sociopolitical issues, life, and yes, faith.  Here's 

I swear, I heard Penn Jillette use this argument somewhere.  But when I searched for it, I couldn’t find it as I remembered it.  Hell, maybe I just made it up.  So, taking a move from the man himself, I’m just going to present this as my own and if anyone finds it, you can tell Penn I said I’m sorry.  So let’s get to it.

People who identify as “agnostic” as opposed to “atheist” kinda frustrate me.  There’s a fairly good reason for my argument, and that is this: Agnosticism and Atheism are not mutually exclusive by any means.  They don’t even answer the same question.

Agnosticism answers an epistemological question: “is there a god?”  The answer to this, at least in the case of any reasonable human, is “I don’t know.”  You can’t know.  That’s the nature of a deity.  It supposedly exists outside our plane of reality so its existence cannot be known beyond doubt.

Atheism answers the theological question: “do you believe that there is a god?”  This is a different question entirely.  This is a yes-or-no question.  Do you believe?  If yes, you’re a theist.  If no, you’re an atheist.

Let me offer an example.

Right now, as you’re reading this, I’d like to ask you if there’s an invisible elephant in your bathtub.  Well, is there?  It’s invisible…so you can’t really observe it.  So your only reasonable answer to the question can only be “I don’t know.”  You’re currently an Agnostic towards a theoretical invisible elephant in your bathtub.  Now, if I ask you whether you believe, given the evidence, that there is an elephant in your bathtub, then (hopefully) you’ll say “no, I don’t believe there’s an elephant in my bathtub.  What a ridiculous question.  Fuck you.”  You’re now an Atheist towards see-through bathtub Dumbo. 

The point is, most Atheists are Agnostic, and honestly, in their heart of hearts, I’d go as far as to say that most self-identifying Agnostics are Atheists.

Go ahead and put whatever label you want on yourself.  That’s your prerogative.  All I’m saying is, don’t try to present an epistemological answer to a theological question.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?

Some questions are easy to ask, and also easy to answer.  Take for example, peanut butter and chocolate.  Are they compatible?  The answer is a resounding yes, of course.  Or, just as easily, enriched uranium and unprotected human tissue?  That one gets you a resounding no.  Other questions are easy to ask, but quite hard (or even impossible) to answer.  Do you see red as the same color that I do?  Not a clue.  What happened before the Big Bang?  Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  It turns out that this might not even be a valid question, much less admit of a sensible answer.  Other questions, like the compatibility of science and religion, really come down to a proper definition of terms.  As with so many things, a lot turns on what we mean when we say things like “science,” “compatible,” and “religion.”  So let’s take a look at what this question is really asking, and then decide what we’ll accept as an answer.

First of all, let’s get the easy stuff out of the way.  If you’re not interested in getting too deep, or you can’t really be bothered to think about things beyond the surface details, let me just go right ahead and answer the question for you.  Are science and religion compatible?   Yes, and you need look no further than Francis Collins (or any other religious scientist) for proof.  Collins is a scientist, he is a very religious man, and he has not yet (to my knowledge) spontaneously combusted.  He, and others like him, are walking, talking examples of the apparent compatibility of science and religion.  Easy, right?  You can now safely go back to church, safe in the knowledge that your faith can be reconciled with the findings of modern science.

But for those of you interested in looking a little deeper down the rabbit hole, let’s pause for a moment and see what our dear Mr. Francis has actually accomplished for us.  What he seems to represent is compatibility between two different areas of human endeavor, those of religion and science.  But he has only accomplished this feat by accepting a very flimsy definition of “compatible.”  If by “compatible” one means to say that two things are compatible if they can occur simultaneously in the same space, context, frame of reference, or head of a person, then clearly Mr. Collins qualifies.  But by this definition, enriched uranium and unprotected human tissue enjoy the same level of compatibility.  Both items are clearly able to occupy the same space, regardless of the harm that one will surely do the other.  Another good example would be the compatibility enjoyed by married adulterers.  Is committed marriage compatible with adultery?  Since there seems to be no shortage of persons who manage to be married while simultaneously engaging in adultery, the answer must be yes.  There is apparently enough room in the minds of these people to simultaneously hold the thoughts “I am married” and “I am having an affair” without an insurmountable level of cognitive dissonance.  And of course we could list countless examples of just this type of minimalist compatibility, from the mundane to the truly extraordinary.  So clearly we must mean something more when we say that two things are compatible.  What we really mean is, the two things in question don’t have conflicting interests, they share common goals or outcomes, they complement each other in some way, they are harmonious, etc.  This deeper meaning of compatibility is what people like Francis Collins would like us to believe the relationship is like between science and religion.  Not just capable of coexistence, but truly harmonious, without conflict.

This would be a good time to point out that there is more than one way to have compatibility between two different things.  One way is to reconcile the two, as any good accommodationist will tell you has already been done.   The other is to decide that there is nothing to reconcile, by virtue of the two things in question having absolutely nothing to do with each other.  This second route is that of NOMA, or non-overlapping magisteria.  Famously popularized by the late Stephen J. Gould, this tactic simply mandated that the realms (or magisteria) of science and religion simply didn't overlap.  Science tells us how the heavens go, and religion tells us how to go to heaven.  It’s like deciding that the genres of science fiction and romance can’t be in conflict since they exist in different magisteria.  One side gets spaceships and aliens, the other side gets swashbucklers and moonlit walks on the beach, and never the twain shall meet.  Easy, right?

But here is where we run into the second problematic term of our initial question, that of “religion.”  Let’s give religion a broad definition, something like “a belief system involving some combination of tradition, the supernatural, and revealed knowledge.”  But it’s not like there’s just one religion, despite what some Southern Baptist fundamentalists would like you to believe.  When Gould brokered him infamous peace treaty between the realms of science and religion, his rose-colored glasses must have been firmly seated in place.  I can almost see him, gazing off into a future where scholarly theologians shepherded their flocks with hard-won moral instruction gleaned from the brittle pages of some ancient religious text, never daring to tread into areas that might come into conflict with the empirical sciences.  Maybe there are religions out there might fit this pie-in-the-sky vision, but to say that they are few and far in between would be an epic understatement.  Imagine a religion that concerned itself only with “spiritual, ethical, and moral” matters, deferring to the findings of science, never preferring revealed knowledge to peer-reviewed findings, refusing to accept extraordinary claims of the supernatural without equally extraordinary evidence, never attempting to legislate their religious views on others, ready to change cherished beliefs and traditions when they had been shown to be false.  Can you imagine such a religion?  If so, that is the kind of religion that Gould envisioned as being compatible with science. 

Now ask yourself, what sort of religious person would be satisfied with such a religion?  If you’re taking your poll in Tennessee, or any part of the South, the answer would be precious few.  Even a religion that only concerned itself with matters of morality would find itself increasingly crowded out by science, since huge inroads are being made into the biological underpinnings of the brain.  Once we understand (and can manipulate) the mechanics of morality, what role will be left for religion?  No, NOMA is merely a holding action against the stunning success of science, an attempt to wall off some small portion of human endeavor as “sacred.”  The reality is that science has been biting off chunks of religion’s magesteria for hundreds of years now, and religion knows it.  In the never-ending contest to provide better and better explanations for the world we see around us, science is winning, and winning big.

But what is “science,” in the context of our initial question?  Is it just people with lots of letters behind their name, busily shuffling test tubes and launching telescopes into orbit?  Is it only the “hard” sciences, like genetics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, physics, or engineering?  Not necessarily.  For our purposes, a much broader definition of science will do just fine.  We could define it as “rational and empirical investigation, coupled with a skeptical approach towards facts.”  So with this definition of science, just how compatible is Francis Collin’s day job with his weekend activities?  Just how much skepticism can something like the crucifixion of Jesus stand up to?  How compatible is a belief system involving the supernatural with a scientific mindset?

Since I've already acknowledged that there are many different forms of religion, and since I've already been picking on Francis Collins, let’s just keep on with Christianity as our test subject for scientific compatibility.  The first thing to notice is how quickly most religious people will point out the improbability of other religions actually being true.  Christians will go on and on about how perfectly apparent it is that God created the universe (maybe even in six days,) breathed life into non-living matter, inserted an immortal soul into every person, destroyed the earth in a worldwide flood, sent his son to earth to serve as a human sacrifice to atone for sin, and that he now sits in Heaven where he watches each and every one us every single day—all while orchestrating a Master Plan for us, where we all have a divinely mandated purpose that may or may not include violent death and dismemberment at any given time.  And if we somehow manage to successfully act out our part of this Plan, we will spend an eternity in paradise singing God’s praises.  If we fall short, however, we can look forward to an eternity of unimaginable torment in a lake of fire, also lovingly prepared by God.  Not a shred of evidence is presented to back up these extravagant claims, apart from a few ancient manuscripts handed down from a time of pre-scientific barbarism.  But the same Christian will have no trouble at all dismissing something as obviously ludicrous as an elephant-headed god, or the idea that the universe was woven together by a deity from threads of chaos, or even a whole panoply of gods who live in a mansion on a mountaintop.  Those things are just silly, and where’s the proof?  What, all you have is just some collection of old stories?  Suddenly skepticism is the easiest thing in the world, and rightly so.  But somehow when the religion in question is held by a majority of one’s peers, and the social pressure for conformity is high, skepticism is hard to come by. 

Obviously, the vast majority of believers did not arrive at their religious beliefs as the end result of some process of skeptical evaluation.  Certainly Francis Collins did not.  Like many believers, his journey was one of emotional resonance that had little or nothing to do with facts, evidence, or rationality.  Religion provides comfort and easy answers for billions of people, in a way that science has a hard time competing with.  Somehow, the knowledge that we are the latest link in an unbroken chain of evolved life stretching back billions of years into the past lacks the same emotional connection provided by many of the world’s religions.  One solution to this problem is to (you guessed it) attempt to make science “compatible” with religion.  By liberally interpreting both religion and science, you can come up with a religion that isn't threatened by science and a science that doesn't threaten religion.   On the contrary, you can simply attribute all the wondrous discoveries of science to the mysterious workings of some god or other.  Has science piled up an overwhelming amount of evidence that evolution is a fact?  No worries, just insist that evolution is the mechanism that God chose to bring about humans.  Has science shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe is over 14 billion years old?  No biggie, just interpret the book of Genesis as a metaphor.  If a religious believer is convinced of the truth of their beliefs, they can be endlessly creative in the reinterpretation of those beliefs to fit the present facts.  In this delicious display of irony, we can trace the evolution of religious belief as it has been forced to adapt in the face of a relentless assault by science. 

So, how should we answer the question: are science and religion compatible?  If we define our terms in such a way as to do justice to both concepts, the only honest answer has to be no.  There is no scientific support for the supernatural (a necessary component of any religion that we would recognize as such,) and religion has continually given ground in the face of scientific advances.  To be clear, science can never rule out supernatural claims.  But then again, science doesn’t rule out anything.  It merely makes provisional conclusions based on the preponderance of evidence.  And based on the evidence, there is no reason to believe that religion is anything more than an outdated explanatory model that has outlived its usefulness.  A politically powerful, socially acceptable, longstanding explanatory model, yes.  But none of these attributes attest to whether or not religion has anything to say that has any scientific validity, or whether or not science and religion can enjoy anything other than proximity—not compatibility.  

Science vs. Religion: Tweaking the Creed

“Our  belief [atheistic] is not belief.  Our principles are not faith.  We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason.”  ~Christopher Hitchens
When I first read Christopher Hitchens’ book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, I realized he and I had something in common. Hitchens’ grade school teacher, when he was approximately nine years old, told him that God made the grass and trees green because it is is "restful" to our eyes (p. 2).  Neither Christopher nor I had heard of the Argument from Design at that age, but my fourth grade teacher made a similar assessment about the nature of reality.  She asked us why the rivers, ponds, creeks, and streams around eastern Kentucky—the planet’s oceans for that matter—didn’t overtake the beautiful dry land we inhabited.  Several of us began thumbing through our science books for the answer to no avail.  Lo and behold—and conveniently I might add—as the wife of a fundamentalist preacher, she found the answer in her ever-present King James Bible, which she displayed proudly on her desk.  She read the “correct” answer aloud in class from Genesis 1:9—“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.’”  Hitchens described his reaction to his teacher’s statement as “appalled” and “embarrassed.”  I could only describe mine at that time as “skeptical.”  But nevertheless, that (among many other proclamations) set Hitch and me on a journey—a journey to separate fact from folly, truth from falsity, and reality from superstition. 
In the debate concerning the nature of reality, it’s hard to tell whether we’re progressing or regressing.  It seems to depend on whom you ask, and with whom one is debating.  In a recent Gallop Poll (2012), nearly one-in-three (30%) of Americans (not just Christians—all Americans) believe the Bible is the literal word of God.  47% of Christians believe reading Bible stories allegorically or metaphorically “waters down” the meaning—therefore, they interpret the stories literally.  Biblical literalism asserts a 6,000 old earth created in six days, talking snakes, global floods, miracles, virgin birth, burning bushes that speak, and Jews rising from the dead, just to name a few.  This type of thinking turns the animated prime-time television sitcom, The Flintstones, into a documentary.  Fantastic and unfathomable as these scientific and historical claims may seem to some, they are accepted as reality by 47% of Christians.  “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” seems to be the final word.  In the religion vs. science debate, most religions make claims about not only the supernatural, e.g., gods, angels, demons, afterlife, magic, etc., it makes claims about the natural world as well, or more specifically, how supernatural beings intervene in the natural world.  Whether gods make grass green to please our eyes or keep earth’s waters in its prospective boundaries (tsunamis and floods notwithstanding), we seem forced to ask, given these empirical claims about the natural world, if science is compatible with religion.  But I would argue there are a few more questions to ask before we get to compatibility, e.g., which god, which religion, and which subset of that religion is the “true” religion—the one from which we must inquire about this compatibility?  Given these complications and complete absence of empirical evidence for gods, I don’t think the debate requires any serious thought to begin with.  But let me digress.
Before we even start talking about whether religion is compatible with science, one must first inquire which god of which religion, and the nature or definition of the particular god within that particular brand of religion.  Usually, questions of whether science is compatible with religion make the assumption that it’s directed towards the Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  This is an extremely small sample of gods and religions from which to choose, all of which have one shred of evidence for their existence.  The Hindus notwithstanding and since recorded history, man has invented thousands upon thousands of gods.  This doesn’t even take into consideration all the gods man didn’t have the means to document.  If we’re going to talk about science/religion compatibility, we should look at the entire spectrum of gods and religions.  When we pull back and take a broader look, it’s easy too see how ridiculous the question is to start with.  In Christianity alone, there are approximately 41,000 different brands that interpret the “Word of God” differently (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2011).  If we start from this perspective, the thought of religion being compatible with anything or have any authority regarding meaning much less nature seems absurd.  Of course, running 3,000 – 5,000 gods through the science vs. religion test would an arduous undertaking at this time, but it’s prudent to keep those numbers in mind when we narrow the question down to two or three gods—depending on who’s counting. 
First of all, religion isn’t compatible with religion.  Alvin Plantinga, co-author of Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? in his very first paragraph, notes that his detractors are acutely aware of this fact (p. 1).  Theists conveniently use various interpretations of “holy books” depending on the specific purpose or preference, e.g., proselyting, raising money, subjugating, or debating.  When theists proselytize, gods becomes undeniable, unstoppable, all-powerful, yet invisible force in the cosmos—a personal God that is ready to bless or smite—depending on its capricious mood.  Alternatively, gods get conceptually mysterious and ineffable during academic debates, moving way out into the cosmos as an unmoved mover or deep into the inner workings of quantum mechanics, which is a good place for a god to hide because the late Nobel Laureate in physics Richard Feynman reportedly said, “I think it’s safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics.”  Mysterious gods always hide in mysterious places.  When humanity thought the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe, we were mystified (if not terrified) of weather.  Gods hid in the thunder and lighting, on top of mountains, and in the stormy seas.  As sciences keeps blowing all these gods' cover, hidden places are getting harder to come by.  Presently, in more “sophisticated” circles, gods are hiding deep in the rhetoric of cosmological arguments as well as tinkering with the evolutionary process when no one was looking.  Those versions of God play well on debate stages, but with gods or “unmoved movers” in hiding, the deistic version of God is contrary to nearly half the nation’s idea of a personal God, one who responds to petitionary prayer.   Most Americans believe in a personal god just like the one in the Rolling Stones’ song Faraway Eyes, when Mick testified that according to many Sunday morning radio evangelists, Jesus was sitting right beside you in your car when you “ran 30 red lights in His honor.” (Jagger, Richards, 1978).  Evidently, all you have to do is ask. 
Christopher Hitchens (2007), introducing Daniel Dennett’s essay in The Portable Atheist, reminds us that when atheists (and/or scientists) engage in religious arguments with “believers,” they must realize that the religiously inclined are “choosing a la carte from an infinite menu of possible affirmations (p. 328).  When theists use the word “god” or “religion” in a sentence, it adds nothing more than confusion.  Wittgenstein made this argument in his second body of work Philosophical Investigations where he insists: “So one might say: the ostensive definition explains the use—the meaning—of the word when the overall role of the word in language is clear (I-4e, 30).  But as Hitchens noted, use of the word “god” is neither ostensive nor clear.  The word “religion” suffers (or enjoys, depending on its purpose) the same status.  This anomaly is commonly known as the moveable goalpost.  With the word "science," definitions generally fall into two categories: science as a verb (method), or science as a noun (content).  Regarding the word "religion," the buffet is open for business, and the menu is made to fit the occasion. 
  Stephen Jay Gould attempted to reconcile this obvious commingling in his famous essay Nonoverlapping Magisteria, commonly known by the acronym NOMA. Gould, who is an atheistic Jew, has conveniently demarcated the magisteria of science exploring “the empirical constitution of the universe” and religion to “the search for proper ethical values and spiritual meaning in our lives” (para. 7.)  Recently—having spent an entire semester of Religious Studies at MTSU with Rabbi Rami, who is also an atheistic Jew, it’s easy to see where Gould might propose this narrow definition of religion.  Liberal Judaism teaches students of the Hebrew Bible to search for “truths” or meaning in the text.  To take the Hebrew Bible or the King James Bible literally would be seen as absurd.  But herein, as in Gould’s NOMA, the problem lies: one-third of Americans believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible.  Just within Christianity (personal revelation not withstanding), the lack of consensus on just about anything should give us pause about the veracity of its universal “truth.”  But Gould insists the two magisterias don’t overlap, but simply butt right up against one another, although it’s not clear what is butting up against what.
The whole fuss with the science vs. religion debate is usually around one thing: evolution.  Prior to 1859, nearly everyone was a Creationist in some sense or the other.  Sure, there were naturalistic or atomistic theories—sketchy guesses and speculation in the absence of evidence—but most theories postulated divine intervention in the process at some point.  But when Charles Darwin published On The Origin of Species in 1859, he drove a stake directly through the heart of Creationism (Intelligent Design), and it has never recovered.  Evolution robs gods of not only creation—but also purpose.  This idea is, as Daniel Dennett noted, dangerous.  The danger lies in the fact that a god or gods aren’t needed in the process, or as famous French mathematician and astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace and, more recently, British theoretical physicist and cosmologist Steven Hawking both have asserted: there’s no need for a god in the hypothesis.
Alvin Plantinga tries to rescue religion from the teeth of empirical evidence in Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? but the fundamentalists have placed too much cadaver on the proverbial table to pretend it's not there.  Plantinga, putting his best foot first, lays out his argument for evolution-theism compatibility by defining religion in terms of C. S. Lewis’s “mere Christianity,” where Lewis argues that God must exist because we yearn for God, and we wouldn’t yearn for something that doesn’t exist.  By defining God as a yearning, Plantinga tries his best to ignore the immediate arguments.  But Daniel Dennett, Plantinga’s co-author in this debate-style book runs with Plantinga’s theism and challenges him with Supermanism in a Superman vs. God showdown. Dennett argues that Plantinga’s theism isn’t any more plausible than Dennett’s Supermanism, and places the burden of proof on Plantinga to prove that it isn’t.  Dennett (2011)responds:
 “Now the burden of proof falls on Plantinga to show why his theist story deserves any more respect or credence than this one.  I myself cannot see any rational grounds for preferring his theism over my Supermanism—which I don’t espouse, but see as perfectly consistent with contemporary evolutionary theory” (pp. 28-29).
Plantinga charges that Dennett’s argument is silly, and Supermanism isn’t to be taken seriously.  But that’s Dennett’s whole point: it’s silly on purpose—just like Plantinga’s theism.  The same could be said for C. S. Lewis’s argument for the existence of God.  If someone has a strong yearning for Superman to protect them, to go out into the world and fight the bad guys—therefore, Superman must exist and not be some hero-fantasy in a DC comic book.  Plantinga claims that Supermanism is not at all like his version of theism.  But Dennett (2011) points out that this only proves how Plantinga’s faith has “disciplined his imagination” (p. 46). 
This brings me back to my first point, which is often repeated in religious debates regarding religious inconsistency: they all can’t be true, but they call can be false.  Calling a supernatural being God, Allah, Fred, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (respect His noodleness!) adds nothing to the conversation.  It’s only reasonable just in terms of probability that they are all false, given the fact that most religious claims are demonstrably false. Science may not be able to answer the “why” questions, but as Dawkins (2008) points out: what makes us think that theologians are any more qualified to answer these question any more than scientists—or the chef or the gardener (p. 80).  Reasonable people are fleeing corporate, organized religion like bikers from a Justin Bieber concert.  Decent, loving, and thoughtful people are fed up with this patriarchal nonsense, and they are starting to think for themselves.  Humanity eventually gets bored with gods, and present-day deistic company is no exception.  The violence, genocide, misogyny, murder, rape, and slavery in the Bible is becoming appalling to the majority of America’s youth (2012, Pew Forum, Nones on the Rise).  Christianity will go the way of astrology, whereas people will practice Christianity, but it won’t be taken seriously.   Those in search of a spiritual life will invent another god—hopefully a god more favorable to modernity—and Yahweh will be cast into the grave with the thousands of other gods man has invented.  Humans have the natural capacity for justice, compassion, empathy, and love.  Just as with science, worshiping or positing a god adds nothing to morality.   One day, society will look back and marvel at the level of fanaticism that was endured over belief in an all-powerful, omniscient, supernatural being—and laugh.  I say, “Why wait?”

Dawkins, R. (2008). The god delusion. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Mariner Books.
Dennett, D. C., Plantinga, A. (2011). Science and religion: are they compatible?
 New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Gallop Poll. (2012, July 12). U. S. confidence in organized religion at low point.
Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/155690/Confidence-Organized-
Gould, S. J. (1998). Leonardo’s mountain of clams and diet of worms: nonoverlapping
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Hitchens, C. (2007). God is not great: how religion poisons everything. New York, NY: Twelve.
Hitchens, C. (2007). The portable atheist. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.
Jagger, M., Richards, K. (1978).  Faraway eyes. On Some girls [CD].
U.S.A: Rolling Stones/Virgin.
Pew Forum. (2012). Nones on the rise: one in five adults have on religious affiliation. 
             Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx
Pew Forum. (2011). Global Christianity: report on the size and distribution of the world’s
            Christian population. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Global-
Wittgenstein, L. (1958). Philosophical Investigations. (3rd ed.). (Anscombe, G.E.M.
            Trans.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. (Original work published 1953)