Author: Tristan Vick

Tristan D. Vick has degrees in English Literature with a focus on Literary Criticism and Advanced Theory and Japanese History from MSU, MT. He is also a published author. You can find out more about his writing at:

10 Condescending Phrases Atheists Hear Spoken by the Religious: And 10 Witty Comebacks



1- Tell them: “If only prayer was enough.” Let out a lengthy sigh for dramatic effect.

2- *Yawn* (Place your hand over your mouth for added effect) and then check watch. Even if you’re not wearing one, check anyway. The symbolic gesture will be much appreciated.

3- Reply in an overly serious tone: “Takes one to know one.”

4-  “What makes you think I don’t know the truth now?”

5- As soon as they finish being judgemental, replicate their tone and immediately respond: “You can’t have slarom without Dog.” If they give you a strange look, act normal. Everything is fine.

6- Ask: “How can something that doesn’t exist love me?”

7- Say: “The Devil is in the details.” Linger just long enough for them to think about it then slowly back away, without breaking eye contact.

8- Ask: “What fool first said there was?”

9- Tell them: “Puberty was a stage. Endless marathons of masturbating to porn in college was a stage. The thing with the midget and the amputee was a stage. This is nothing.”

10- Say: “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, then shame on the Devil.” Eyeball them suspiciously till they become nervous or change the subject.


The Kalam Cosmological Argument is Sophistry — And Why I Stopped Debating Theists


The Kalam Cosmological argument, as presented by William Lane Craig, says that

Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
The universe began to exist;


The universe has a cause.

From the conclusion of the initial syllogism, the universe having a cause, he appends a further premise and conclusion based upon ontological analysis of the properties of the cause:

The universe has a cause;
If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;


An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.

Three things are worth noting here, I think.


In quantum physics uncaused-causes actually exist. It’s part of the strange world of quantum physics which do not always abide by Newtonian intuitions about causality. As such, when dealing with the start of the universe which would have been a quantum singularity, saying it has a cause is quite meaningless. Craig has actually been corrected by physicists numerous times on this point from the late Victor J. Stenger to Lawrence Krauss.


Saying meaningless things is not trivial. Theologians thrive on it because they can obfuscate, spin, and reword their arguments to sound more meaningful than they actually are in a deliberate act of sophism.


If you let yourself be distracted, or confused, then the theologian can insert more unsupported premises because there’s really no necessary condition for having to prove nonsense. For example, the KCA takes for granted that the person being presented the syllogism even knows what a thing God is. Assuming everyone knows of God is a big assumption. But presuming there are those in which Craig’s definition of God is alien, then any word would suffice.


Really you’d have to ask, what do you mean by God? This would lead us to Ignosticism. Which would defeat the KCA before it could even present its second premise since without any context that premise would prove to be quite meaningless.


The second thing is with respect to how we accept things at face value and who gets to determine / dictate the definitions being used.


Now, imagine if Craig were to debate a Shintoist. And upon presenting his second premise the Shintoist gives WLC a shocked look. This would be understandable. After all, the Shintoist goes by a completely different definition of God. For the Shintoist, for all we know, the *tree in his back yard is his version of God. From the Shintoist’s perspective, Craig has essentially made the claim that the *tree in the Shintoist’s back yard created the universe! Which is nonsensical, I think you’ll agree.


Granted, we’d presume a person debating a theologian like William Lane Craig would familiarize themselves with the Christian concept of God before engaging with a Christian theologian in a debate. But shouldn’t Craig reciprocate by demonstrating the same form of respect in return by familiarizing himself with the Shintoist’s definition(s) of God? Why, then, does Craig’s definition of God become the default?


See, it’s that assumption that takes for granted that everyone believes in Craig’s version of God. It’s a false assumption.


Scientific-minded skeptics tend to be wary of anything that sounds vaguely nonsensical rather than keenly specific regarding something we can observe and measure. One might say that falls into the category of evidentialism and that the logic of the premise of the universe having a first cause is not wrong. That’s true. But it’s not wrong in the same way as saying “love is eternal” is not wrong. It’s not exactly a falsifiable claim. It could be. But it’s not something that we have support of either way. And we wouldn’t know how to measure that even if it were true.


By making their nonsensical claims unfalsifiable, theologians hope to shield their assumptions from criticism thereby safeguarding their God concept from having to meet any kind of burden of proof.


Thirdly, the additional assumptions pretend to be rooted in basic beliefs. Such as God being a Personal being. But these assumptions are based on presumed experiences of God, therefore are not properly basic. Believing God is loving or believing he is a Personal entity requires more information than mere belief that it is so. A properly basic belief is simply a belief that doesn’t break down to prior assumptions.


When we see the color red, for example, our belief that it is the color red we are seeing doesn’t depend on experience. Just the acknowledgment that there are colors detectable to the human eye. And that when we see certain colors, we know them, and we know they are the color we see because we believe that when viewing red it appears redly to us. And that is a properly basic belief.


Saying that God is an uncaused, Personal Creator of the universe, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful is still just baseless assumptions predicated on a nonsensical syllogism that thinks it’s being more clever than it really is.


That’s the very definition of sophism, folks.



The first time I heard WLC state the Kalam cosmological argument in a live debate, I was flabbergasted that a person of any education could be so fully proud of their own sophistry — so much to the point of declaring themselves the winner of the debate before it was over because nobody could argue against the logic of the syllogism.

Well, that’s true only if you buy into the assumptions that it’s good logic, or that the premise is sound, or that the syllogism makes sense given what we do know about the universe. And upon closer inspection, we find none of these hold up to scrutiny.

Back in the day, when I’d argue with theists, I’d try to explain this to them. They often would say I was invoking sophistry to avoid having to grapple with WLC’s flawless presentation of a logical syllogism for the existence of God. It only ever caused me to roll my eyes. No offense, but buying into someone else’s sophism doesn’t, in fact, make the criticism of that particular sophistry any less prevalent simply because you don’t understand the criticism.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I stopped arguing with theists.

Cultural Appropriation OUTRAGE is Thinly Veiled Xenophobia

Cultural appropriation ***OUTRAGE*** is, in most cases, total BS.
Upon closer inspection, I think you’ll discover that this faux outrage regarding cultural appropriation also happens to be a form of thinly veiled xenophobia. I’ll explain more about that down below.
Around a year ago, I remember that outrage over white people being allowed to try on kimonos at a cultural fair that went viral. It was all over the American newsfeed for about a week.
I could hardly believe it. A cultural fair, people! You’re supposed to partake in other cultures at cultural fairs. That’s what they’re for.
The same goes for festivals. It’s a chance to try to understand the culture by becoming it and partaking in it. And even if it’s just for a one-time experience, it will be a *culturally* enriching experience. That’s the whole idea behind multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is the co-existence, sharing, and mingling of a multitude of cultures, and the acceptance of all cultures hinges on trying to understand and even adopt the things about alternative cultures you don’t yet fully understand. Whether it’s a social custom, a fashion style, or a type of cuisine, there are many aspects to learning about cultures which allow you to become better acquainted with them in the journey of growing more multicultural.
If you cannot engage or partake in other cultures and customs, then I’m afraid this leads to xenophobia. Ultimately, if you end up being denied access to a culture, or part of it, you can never fully learn to understand it. Not enough to be comfortable accepting or integrating into your own cultural worldview that is. And that’s the danger here.
If you can only perceive the other culture as something you can’t incorporate, or are forbidden to incorporate, into your own life or identity or cultural worldview, then mutual cultural understanding will hit a roadblock. You’ll deny yourself understanding of another person’s culture, because *reasons*, and they will view you as not caring about their culture enough because you’ve retracted from them in the name of non-appropriation.

Personally, I find cultural appropriation outrage and the desire for non-appropriation of cultures to be a bunch of hogwash.


Speaking of hogwash, now there’s a big uproar about white people wearing dreads and braids.
In a Huffpost article Kearie Daniel writes a rant where she claims a white person wearing braids is the same as black-face. She said:

“In many ways, it’s the same as wearing blackface or a dreadlock hat; it’s play acting with someone’s heritage, and it needs to stop.”

Um… no. No, it’s not. And no it doesn’t.

She also says the following:

“The problem with … white people culturally appropriating black hair styles is simple: These are black historical styles, and they haven’t earned the right to wear them.”

Give me a break.
Because something is cultural doesn’t mean that it is exclusive only to that culture. There is no such thing as a “dumpling soup right” because Scandinavians invented dumpling soup. Many cultures have invented dumpling soup. The Chinese have dumplings too. But to truly learn to appreciate the dumpling soups of various cultures, you must partake of each cultures dumpling soup.
Thinking that because you have dumpling soup nobody else should be allowed to make it is, well, quite frankly, stupid.
Such thinking denies cultural transmission, cultural fusion, or even cultural adaptation. It denies the possibility for the same, if not similar, culture ideas, customs, fashions, and belief rising independently. It denies access to culture for unsound reasons that limit cultural understanding rather than sponsor the spread and growth of cultural understanding. In most cases, cultural appropriation is harmless. The only time it becomes damaging is when a majority group culturally appropriates a minority group with the goal of diminishing that group rather than learning to understand it better.
But that’s not the type of thing most people are complaining about when they cry outrage at cultural appropriation. Most of the time it’s simply xenophobia because it seeks to deny the fluidity and organic nature of most cultures and cultural transmission.
Let me cite an example.
It’s summer time here in Japan, and it’s fireworks season. I am a minority here. But I see it part of my duty, as a foreigner living in Japan, to honor and respect Japanese custom and tradition. As such, I continually go out of my way to culturally appropriate many aspects of Japanese culture and thinking. Not only does it make life easier, it gives me a better understanding of the people and their customs of the place I’ve lived for over a decade.
Now, if I choose to wear a Japanese yukata (a kind of lightweight cotton kimono for summertime) for going fireworks, for example, because I’ve culturally appropriated a part of Japanese custom (in this case festival going attire) that I happen to like doesn’t mean I am “play acting.” Any suggestion that I am play-acting fails to grasp what culture is and how cultural appropriation works.
Simply put, I am adopting part of a culture I admire as a way of growing closer to that culture, and then incorporating it into my own identity and worldview. That’s genuine cultural appropriation. And it’s quite harmless. In fact, I think you’ll find in most cases it’s even necessary.
And just because I appropriate certain aspects of a culture and not others doesn’t mean it somehow devalues the history or legacy of Japanese culture. It most certainly doesn’t. And the same could be said of any other form of cultural appropriation, I think you’ll find.

Japan, as you may well know, is the master of cultural appropriation. Just look at how Kogal fashion arose, and how it morphed into Gangaru which gave rise to Manba. That’s cultural appropriation gone full circle. So you see, cultural appropriation works both ways, and is dynamic.

If a black person wants to dye their hair blonde, then be blonde! If a white person wants to wear braids, so be it! This cultural appropriation outrage is complete nonsense.


Those who cry about cultural appropriation only do so on the basis that they are secretly xenophobes and want to use cultural appropriation as a way to safeguard their own culture from being “contaminated” by — other — outside cultures.
Hyperbolic outrage about cultural appropriation is a way to prevent and stigmatize cultural fusion. It denies self-expression, and limit free expression to only what is considered “culturally acceptable” within your own culture. As I said, it’s hogwosh. Cultural appropriation isn’t something to fear. It’s something to embrace.
We’re one peoples, one world, and it’s time to stop seeing things in terms of labels and divisions.
Cultural appropriation outrage is veiled xenophobia, plain and simple. It’s saying you’re this race, or this culture, and there’s a line that you’ve crossed because you’ve appropriated or borrowed something of my race or culture. But, no. No, there’s no race or cultural boundaries as such. Race is a made up concept. We’re all one race. The human race. And those lines you see… that’s simply you squinting too hard.
Instead of crying outrage over cultural appropriation, let’s open our eyes. Stop complaining and putting up walls and, instead, learn to accept cultural appropriation for what it is — a way to gain a better understanding of others and as a means to grow closer with our fellow human beings.
[NOTE: I am well aware there are real instances where cultural appropriation is used to further oppress a minority group. But those cases are usually quite well defined (i.e., blackface, using Native American religious dress for a Halloween costume, etc.) and the appropriation being used, in this case to dilute or expunge a minority culture, has very measurable consequences. Such claims of harmful cultural appropriation must be argued carefully and have no room for discourteous outrage. Further, to claim that because people are borrowing aspects of your culture somehow is oppressive to you is a very specific claim and needs to be defended quite carefully, giving a full consideration to any valid objections to your argument as presented. Otherwise it’s just xenophobic caterwauling and white noise and needs to be left out of the discourse.)




On The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser

July 9th, 2016



By Tristan Vick




I’ve always been somewhat of a pedant when it comes to terminology. Personally, I just think it’s better to know what you’re talking about when you’re pontificating on some cultural or social subject rather than, say, not knowing anything but thinking you’re the bee’s knees simply for having an opinion.

Often in the pro-life vs. pro-choice abortion debate, the pro-life side will make the hyperbolic claim that “abortion is murder!”

They also like to imply if you support abortion that you are in support of murder. They don’t seem to realize that the pro-choice side isn’t pro-baby killing. We don’t want unnecessary abortions either. But when it comes to the abortion debate, we pro-choicers have understood the fine nuances of the pro-life proposition which they clearly have failed to properly consider.

That’s what I want to examine today.

All the nuances that the pro-life side has utterly, and completely, failed to properly consider let alone adequately address.

So without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.


PART 1: The LEGAL TROUBLE with the Pro-life Stance

Of course, the short answer is, no, abortion is not murder. In most cases it’s a legal medical procedure. A necessary one even.

In my experience, what the pro-life side is attempting to say, rather poorly, is that they think abortion should be classified as murder.

But this is where things get tricky. Because murder is a legal term with very specific meanings under very well defined contexts. In fact, the law distinguishes between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree murder, understanding there is a scale of culpability and consequences to consider. Where premeditated murder, manslaughter, and involuntary / accidental manslaughter differentiate is no trivial matter. The law recognizes, rightly so, that there are different forms of taking a human life, and not all of these forms are equal in terms of culpability or even in punishment.

This is common sense to us, since we all know that a drunk driver accidentally running over some school children crossing the street is different from honestly not seeing a child jump into the street chasing a ball before it’s too late which is still more different from raging out and mowing down a bunch of school children crossing the street in your car.

These are different forms of killing. With different factors at work which lend to each having different dynamics forcing the law to examine each and every one of the variables at play in order to be as objectively unbiased as possible. A law that doesn’t do this, well, wouldn’t be a very good law, I think you’ll find.

And that’s why I find it problematic when pro-life advocates claim that “abortion is murder.”

What kind of murder would you like it to be? Just murder isn’t a thing. Not in the eyes of the law anyway. So pro-life advocates have to be more specific.

Although they want abortion to be classified as a form of murder, I’ve never seen any logical, moral, or philosophical arguments given to make that case. It seems most of the time it is used as a shock-tactic. A bit of hyperbole. It fits with the right wing narrative that demonizes all abortion as evil and equates it with the most heinous crime imaginable, taking another human beings life against their will.

But then, here we have a new problem. If you want to provide legal protections to an unborn fetus, in the same way you provide legal protection to an autonomous adult, you’d have to show their free will has been violated, and then, as you can imagine, this implies you must first prove an unborn fetus has a free will to be violated in the first place. Not an easy task, I can assure you.

You see, those who claim abortion is murder seem to be conflating the legal rights of an autonomous individual with the rights of an unborn fetus, and are making the incorrect assumption that the fetus’s rights deserve broader legal protections, even at the sake of the mother’s rights being restricted or infringed upon.

However, this is problematic for several reasons.

First, in law there is no legal precedent for this strange usurping of an adult’s rights by an unborn fetus’s rights since children’s rights are, and always have been, limited by the law until they become legal adults.

At most, a fetus could be granted the same rights as a child. Maybe. But not being an individual where free will is recognizable, not even being born for that matter, seems to set strict parameters on what kind of rights that unborn fetus could be allotted in a state of law. After all, in order to make a claim that their rights have been violated, the unborn fetus needs to face their accuser in a court of law, and this can’t happen. Which is why in pro-life policy driven states the trick is to grant the state the right to make the claim on behalf of the unborn fetus.

But this raises ethical concerns on the treatment of women, and by extension their unborn offspring.

For example, in El Salvador, women are frequently jailed for having miscarriages. Because, in their case, policy makers outside themselves control them through laws and regulations. These policy makers decide, on behalf of the fetus, what the mother – viewed a property of the state – should be dictated to do. In most cases, the mother is punished for legal crimes against an unborn fetus which may have the legal protection of governing bodies, but may not actually have any legal rights unto itself, strangely enough.

Saying that others, whether it be the state or the policy makers, should make legal claims on behalf of the unborn fetus opens a whole can of worms that have proved to dangerously restrict, even endanger, the wellbeing of women. In a free and civilized democracy like America, arguing for such restrictions is Draconian.

Yet since 2005, there have been more than 380 cases in the U.S. alone – the so called land of the free – where pregnant women have been jailed, arrested, and / or tried for crimes against their unborn fetuses.

Being charged for criminal conduct and jailed for a natural miscarriage is a lot like having your house knocked down in an earthquake and being arrested and imprisoned for the destruction of private property. It’s beyond the pale, goes against all reason and common sense, yet there are policies in place which carry out these absurd and inconceivable laws gleefully and without question.

What exactly a fetus’s rights may be has nowhere been clearly defined. But what we do know is that such Draconian policies always devolve into a legal mess, and the only people who suffer for it are the mothers – the women – whose rights are conveniently forgotten about the moment anti-abortion legislation enters the equation.

Even if you are pro-life, this should force you to give some serious pause and consideration.

And from a theory of law standpoint, this is a very slippery slope. A very slippery slope indeed.

Even though we can all probably agree that a lot more work needs to be done in this area, the fact of the matter is, you cannot expect a fetus’s legal rights to outstrip the mother’s when those rights, in point of fact, have not been clearly or concisely defined yet. It’s like trying to have cake in your cake so you can have cake-in-cake and eat it too. It’s just weird and doesn’t make a lick of sense.

In fact, we probably shouldn’t expect an unborn fetus’s rights to even be comparable to a child’s, but, perhaps, that is a debate is better left up to the legal experts.

My point in all this is essentially this: this legal problem of defining the unborn fetus’s legal standing within society has NEVER been fully or adequately addressed by the pro-life side.

The best they have come up with, tellingly enough, is to make the woman into property, give the state control over her body and reproductive choices, and punish the mother – because all she is, is chattel after all – when she fails to abide by the reproductive guidelines forced upon her and which do not consider her best interests as a mother or human being.

It’s draconian in the worst sense of the word, I think you’ll find. Yet this is essentially what pro-life proponents call for when they claim “abortion is murder.” It’s anti-woman because it blames the woman for what is, essentially, nobody’s business but her own and then says because she was doing her life wrong, according to their rules, they took legal actions to overrule her self-autonomy and thereby trample all over her civil rights. That’s what saying “abortion is murder” entails.

So, to make a long question short. Is abortion murder? Not in the legal sense. No. Thank goodness.

But this is only the first trouble area. There’s more to it. So please bear with me as I detail exactly why the pro-life position isn’t a valid position and why it’s maladroit as a social and political stance with regard to the abortion issue.

PART 2: The MORAL TROUBLE with Pro-Life Stance

The greater problem with the pro-life argument lies not on the legal side of things, but the moral and philosophical side of things.

You may have often heard it said that “abortion is evil.”

Whereas “abortion is murder” is a very specific legal claim, saying that “abortion is evil” is a very specific moral claim.

The way the pro-life side typically deals with this is to say that life begins at conception, with the added caveat that life is sacred – well, human life, that is.

Then there is the other problem of defining “life.”

Science says one thing. Pro-lifers say another.

Science says biological life has stages. Pro-lifers just say life is life. Whatever that means.

Science says it takes 2 weeks for fertilization.

This is where pro-lifers say conception begins – but the problem here is, the fertilized egg hasn’t even attached to the uterus yet. It is also where most spontaneous abortions occur. 20 out of 100 women in America alone will have a spontaneous abortion / miscarriage before the age of 40. Mother Nature doesn’t make a very good mother, apparently.

Think about that for a moment. Nearly a quarter of the female populace suffers one or more miscarriages through no fault of their own. This raises the peculiar question of whether or not defining life in this way would hold Mother Nature legally accountable for abortions where anti-abortion laws take effect.

Remember the cake-inside-the-cake thing we talked about that made no sense? Yeah, this makes even less sense. But it’s a real possibility given the way pro-life advocates seek to define “life.” One would start to think that if your definition gives rise to weird unintended consequences like this, you might not have the best possible definition. Just a thought.

On a related note, it also raises theological problems for believers who claim to use God as their moral guide. A guide by which they feel they can definitively say all life – but especially human life – is sacred. You see, if there is indeed an all-loving, all-powerful, Supreme Being – it stems to reason that since an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God would share culpability in NOT preventing the fertilized eggs abortion when they could have, God must, in accordance to his own nature, prevent spontaneous abortions / miscarriages. It would be like a doctor refusing to save a patient when they had all the power to do so. It’s inconceivable, and it suggests that God is either malevolent, i.e. completely evil, or else entirely impotent.

As to be expected, though, the pro-life side chooses to ignore these unfavorable consequences and go straight for the throat of people’s moral consciences by claiming that killing a hapless child is evil!

Well, take a deep breath folks. The truth is, it’s not even a potential child yet, since the not-even-born yet baby will likely self-abort anyway. And this scientific fact shows us that defining life as beginning at conception isn’t only problematic, but also quite ridiculous.

Why is it ridiculous? Because…

Science says it takes 3 weeks for implantation. Conception has happened, but the human embryo has not even developed yet. So we have only a potential for human life.

And so it doesn’t make any sense to say this fertilized egg which has the potential to become a human fetus is already a human fetus. It hasn’t gotten to that stage yet.

The pro-life claim ignores the science. Fetal development doesn’t mean a thing to them because they choose to ignore the biology and say that life begins at conception, and then something magical happens, and all the rights of a full-gorwn nan are imbued into something that hasn’t even grown into an embryo yet.

But if that wasn’t enough to convince you of why it’s a ridiculous and arbitrary definition of “life” we must also consider that

Science says it takes at least 4 weeks for the embryo to officially form.

Now the potential is maximized, since an embryo can turn into a fetus. But the problem is, just to come back to this issue, miscarriages. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first 20 weeks of embryonic development. So, even though we have an embryo, unlike Katniss from the Hunger Games, the chances are not in its favor. There is still the 20 in 100 chance that it will spontaneous self-destruct. That’s a strange sort of “life.”

If new cars driven off the dealer’s lot self-destructed 20 out of 100 times, would you feel safe driving a new car off the lot? Probably not. Would you feel right calling the self-destructed pile of rubble a “car”? Probably not. Then why call a self-destructed baby a “life”? Because that’s essentially what the pro-life side is trying to get away with when they deliberately ignore things like spontaneous abortion when formulating their definition of “life.” You see, their ideal version of “life” is sacred and never self-destructs. But this is wishful thinking, and it clearly shows they aren’t deriving their definition of “life” from reality.

Some pro-life sites, like Abort, although cataloging many useful abortion statistics, make suspicious claims like “Growth in the womb is a rapid process, all systems are in place by week 8.”

Although this notion that “all systems are in place by week 8” is not entirely accurate. In fact, it’s a half-truth slanted to make the pro-life position seem more scientific than it really is, and by extension more reasonable than it is too.

Thankfully, the science it quite clear on the matter.

By week 8 the human nervous system is only beginning to develop. The neural pathways haven’t even been developed yet, so there’s still no “feeling any pain” since the fetus isn’t well-developed enough to even process pain. This is about the time breathing tubes develop from the throat to the lungs, and the fetus is roughly the size of a kidney bean.


According to Guttmacher Institute, the primary source for all abortion research and policy analysis, it is reported that two-thirds of abortions occur at approximately eight weeks of pregnancy or earlier. This is long before the baby is an actual fully functioning organism. In fact, the tiny kidney bean doesn’t even feel any pain!

Which begs the question, why would anyone give a not yet developed, non-functioning, kidney bean the same legal rights as a well-developed, fully-functioning, form of the same organism?

Please, don’t mistake my question as being callous. Calling a fetus at 8 weeks a kidney bean is probably more accurate than calling it a human baby. We know that human babies breathe and feel pain. Human kidney beans do not, or in this case, embryo’s only 8 weeks into its fetal development.

And it’s not like we’ve stripped a kidney bean of its basic human rights. First of all, it’s not yet a living human. It’s one stage of development in human life – human life being the final product of all the stages of fetal development. Not before that.

And at 8 weeks it cannot feel. So there’s no pain. It cannot think. So there is no stress. For all intents and purposes, it is a collection of cells still undergoing development. That’s what the science says. That’s what any medical professional will tell you.

It’s a potential human being, but not yet anything constituting a full human being deserving the same rights as a full human being. What its rights might be aren’t exactly clear. Nobody has argued for what rights collections of living cells ought to have. They just said because they are human cells it must magically have human rights. But this is why discussion regarding bio-ethics are so important.

No less important is the fact that we are not talking about a handicapped individual here. We aren’t stripping something’s rights away which already had rights to begin with. Rather, we are talking about a stage of development. A stage of development where if the fetus doesn’t go beyond this particular stage it doesn’t become anything at all. It never gets to the point where the topic of rights would have any prevalence.

Re-read that last sentence again and let that sink in.

And that, basically, is what pro-life supporters want to give full legal rights to. A potential something, but not yet anything, maybe someday human lifeform. Shockingly enough, pro-life advocates want to allow this not yet anything, undeveloped lifeform to supersede the rights of its host mother. And mothers, as we all know, do have rights.

This kind of reasoning is so muddled, so convoluted, that the best we can do is to say, sorry, but your position is unreasonable and trespasses on the absurd.

But many pro-lifers have bought into the abortions is murder / abortion is evil propaganda hook, line, and sinker. They believe, for whatever reason, that those alarmist anti-abortion videos of doctors ripping out baby fetuses from bloody vaginas with metal tongs, then chopping them up on a silver platter and throwing them into dumpsters is, somehow, an accurate reflection of real life abortion.

It’s not.

It’s pure propaganda. A fiction meant to scare people into thinking abortion is a vile practice that only immoral barbarians would carry out rather than what it really is – a lifesaving medical procedure carried out by medical professionals in clinics and hospitals.

Besides this, in most cases, and abortion requires merely taking a pill before the end of the first trimester. No drama required.

As it turns out, those third trimester abortions you see in doctored videos are the rarest of the rare.

The Guttmacher Institute states that third trimester abortions are less than 1.3% of the entire populace and are reserved for extremely rare medical conditions where there will be serious complications to the mother, fetus, or both.

And if you don’t think there are valid medical reasons for late-term abortions, chances are you’ve never heard of anencephaly.

Yeah. Anencephaly. Look it up.

And still, it’s less than 1.3%. So the whole abortion is evil bit amounts to little more than brainless hysterics. Now, that’s not to devalue people’s empathy, who genuinely feel bad when an abortion happens. But it helps to know the reasons. Ignoring the reasons and calling it all evil is not helpful.

At the same time, the Guttmacher Institute reminds us that 91% of all abortions happen in the first trimester, before 11th week of pregnancy, more than 65% occurring before the 8th week of pregnancy. Remember, that’s the time where we have the unfeeling kidney bean embryo.

And let’s not forget that spontaneous abortions / miscarriages occur all the way through the 20th week of pregnancy regardless. And that’s the cold hard reality of it.

As for those alarmist videos, they are just that, alarmist propaganda. And that wouldn’t be so bad if such propaganda only duped fools into believing it, but as it happens it can dupe otherwise reasonable people into believing it as well. And that’s dangerous, I think you’ll agree. Dangerous for the very reason that it weaponizes our ignorance and then seeks to use it against us.

When all is said and done, the facts are the facts and are readily available for anybody who wants to educate themselves on the details of abortion and what it entails. And the fact remains, second and third trimester abortions are extremely rare. *Extremely* and *rare* being the key words here.

So setting an arbitrary definition for the definition of “life” – one which conveniently aligns precisely with their pre-selected worldview, but which seems to habitually butt heads with the science – is all the pro-life side has to offer us.

I think you’ll agree, that’s simply not good enough to convince anyone that abortion ought to be considered murder or that it’s inherently evil. This is a black and white, overly simplistic view that doesn’t understand the first thing about the complexities or nuances involved in addressing the major ethical concerns permeating this debate.

So we can take away two things so far.

  1. The pro-life side’s legal claim of unborn fetuses having rights is nowhere in evidence and needs to be developed into a viable argument before being put into law.

As it is, the pro-life side has offered a non-starter. It’s a poorly thought out position based on political biases and emotional prejudices. It hasn’t considered any of the relevant material, which is why it relies on emotional pleas and alarmist tactics while vilifying the other side’s position, offering only propaganda instead of facts, to try and persuade others of the worthiness of their cause. It’s an ill-informed opinion masquerading as fact. And it’s dangerous.

  1. The pro-life definition of “life” is deeply flawed if not completely nonsensical.

Furthermore, it conflicts with what the science shows to be fact. At the same time the definition being offered deliberately ignores competing definitions and attempts to overrule them by making moral platitudes designed to manipulate people’s emotions into giving up these other well-defined definitions for vague, an nebulous ones which only seek to sew further confusion rather than bring any clarity to the issues at hand.

These are not trivial concerns, mind you. These are serious objections to the pro-life position. Damning ones, you might even say.

The entire pro-life side of the debate must first overcome these major obstacles and objections in order to become a viable argument. Only once it has been formalized as a real argument can it be worthy of consideration and debate.

Right now, all they have is an opinion. And it is on this lofty opinion that so much anti-abortion legislature hangs. Which is quite frightening to anyone dealing with anti-abortion policies which have failed to take any of the relevant information into consideration. I don’t say this to be divisive. What it shows is that pro-life supporters simply haven’t thought through the issues, have no solutions for the problems, yet want their position to carry the same moral weight. It doesn’t.

On the other hand, the pro-choice side succinctly avoids these same pitfalls and therefore is the sturdier position. It does this because it is a contra-argument to what the pro-choice side offers, or in this case, fails to offer. The pro-choice side, by design, sides with reasonable and just policies based on our current scientific, legal, and moral understanding of all the factors involved. As such, it’s not pushing an agenda in the same way the pro-life side is clearly pushing an agenda. It’s a counter-offer to that agenda, which says that you cannot arbitrarily strip a woman of her civil liberties simply because you have arbitrarily selected and random definition of “life” which you wish to impose on everyone else regardless of the moral consequences. Hence the pro-choice stance can be viewed as a push-back against the inherent illogicality of the pro-life stance.

PART 3: The PHILOSOPHICAL TROUBLE with the Pro-Life Stance

The pro-life position is plagued with legal problems as well as moral problems. But it is riddled with practical philosophical problems as well. That’s just a fancy way of saying, if you were to give it a deeper consideration, the pro-life position is philosophically unsound.

There are two distinct philosophical failings of the pro-life side of the debate.

The first is how one gives autonomy to individual with no identity.

The second problem arises when you give the right to autonomy to two individuals inhabiting the same body and thereby placing their identities in opposition and creating conflict.

First, for the sake of argument, let’s concede to the pro-life claim that life begins at conception.

We can grant pro-life proponents this much, because even if this is the definition we are using, the bigger moral problems are yet to come. In fact, you might even say the pro-life side still has all their work ahead of them.

In order to explain the problem, I first have to make everyone aware of a philosophical riddle that has baffled philosophers for centuries.

It’s called The Ship of Theseus paradox.

Now, the paradox has been discussed by ancient philosophers such as Heraclitus and Plato, and more recently by heavy weight thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The paradox, according to the Greek historian Plutarch, is as such:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

— Plutarch, Theseus

Essentially, the problem asks you to imagine Theseus’s ship. It is uncovered by modern archeologists on some Grecian beach. Unearthing it, they take the ship to a museum and, low and behold, discover some of the ship’s wood planks have rotted away. Subsequently, they replace those planks.

Now, here’s where the philosophical paradox comes into play. After a few years of sitting in the old museum, a few more of the ships planks rot away. Those too get replaced. Another few years crawls by, and another couple of planks get replaced. This continues on for many years until, finally, we come to the last original plank. It too has rotted away and is beyond repair, and therefore gets replaced.

The paradox asks us, at what instant did Theseus’s ship change from one thing to another?

Some would say that it stopped being Theseus’s ship after 50% of the planks were replaced. Others would say it was still Theseus’s ship right up till the last plank was replaced. After that, no longer. But others would argue that it was still Theseus’s original ship even after all the planks were replaced because some of those new planks had been a part of the original at one time and thus carried with them the essence of Theseus’s ship.

Now, there’s no need to wrack your brain. There’s no actual solution to the riddle.

What the paradox is designed to show us is that things have recognizable forms, but these forms often change. Because of this factor involving changing forms we recognize that, whether the original or a facsimile, a thing has a kind of identity unto itself whereby it can be one thing or the other but never both (unless you’re Schrodinger’s cat, that is. *Ba-dum-tshh*). As such, the ship is either Theseus’s ship or it’s not Theseus’s ship.

The reason this becomes important in the abortion debate is this. When you define life as beginning at conception, you still haven’t identified when the life is a person.

The essence of being a person is quite different than simply being a living thing such as a collection of cells, or an embryo, or a fetus in the first week of development, or a fetus in the eighth week of development, and so on and so forth.

We know a human embryo form a full grown child. And then, we know and fetus is not an embryo.

So the problem with defining life at conception is that you’re trying to define one thing as another thing. Or you’re trying to make recognizably different things all the same thing. Strictly speaking, however, this isn’t possible. It’s nonsense. A thing is a thing is a thing. And that thing cannot be some other thing… until… well, it is. And that’s the Theseus Ship paradox in a nutshell. Or should I say bottle?

Simply put, to say life begins at conception and then giving that embryo legal rights would mean ONLY that embryo has legal rights. Not the fetus. You would have to write a separate law to say that the fetus has legal rights, apart from the embryo, if that’s what you want to say. And, to compound matters, you’d have to write yet one more set of laws to distinguish the rights of a fully living child apart from both a fetus and an embryo.

And this is a basic philosophical consideration which one would need to be taken into account before writing laws since something as complex as biology, undeniably, involves changing forms.

Yet the pro-life side would rather not think about this in any detail. Again, probably because they aren’t offering a formal argument for their position. They aren’t offering reasons. They are offering mere opinions and then telling you, often times quite passionately with crocodile tears, how they feel about their own opinions.

Well, I hate to be the barer of bad news, but an opinion doesn’t make a valid argument. And although you’re entitled to your own opinions, you’re not entitled to your own facts.

Of course, you will recall I mentioned there were two parts to the identity problem.

The second part is more subtle, but also that much more damaging to the pro-life stance.

Even if we grant the pro-life definition of life, and even if we grant them that an unborn fetus is entitled to certain legal protections, what they seems to be forgetting in all of this is… the mother.

As an already fully actualized, autonomous, individual she has legal rights. Thus has legal standing in cases brought against her by her unborn fetus. Which is technically impossible, which, inevitably, explains why pro-lifers always argue for legal involvement in such cases when erecting anti-abortion policies. They need to control the mother’s body, they need to infringe upon her rights, because what they are doing, in this case, is putting the mother’s rights in opposition to the unborn fetus’s rights.

Naturally, this creates a huge moral problem. Because the only way to resolve this issue, in a court of law, is to demote a woman to the status of property. It is to revoke her civil liberties and take away her ability to make her own choices and actions regarding her own body.

In the case of abortion, what the pro-life side is seeking to do is say that the unborn fetus resides inside the host mothers, as a tenant resides inside an apartment building, and that the mother cannot unlawfully evict the fetus because the fetus has every right to live there – and has nowhere else to go.

The problem isn’t that a fetus cannot pay its rent, but that the mother has been made into property in order to imbue the unborn fetus with the same legal rights and standing as the mother.

I’m sure you can see how making a person into property is not only ill advised but, all things considered, completely amoral.

Yet, this is what has to happen when you place an unborn fetus’s legal standing on par with its autonomous mother’s. A conflict of identity which pits individuals against each other in both legal and moral terms – which is a huge philosophical problem.

And, no, saying “life begins at conception” does not solve this problem. It only exasperates it. It presupposes all life is sacred, but for mysterious reasons that aren’t justifiable and only seems to muck up the discussion with unnecessary metaphysical considerations that have no place in the debate in the first place.

Saying abortion equates to the same thing as murder simply isn’t true. It’s not even a logical consequence of “life beginning at conception” because the law does not automatically imbue all forms of life with equal rights, let alone state that preventing a thing from gaining a life is the same thing as taking it. Another reason saying that “abortion is murder” is simply incorrect.

And, finally, stating rather matter-of-fact like that “abortion is evil” is simply a failure of moral reasoning of the highest order. Quite frankly, it is the embarrassing admission that you’re not yet ready to have a sophisticated discussion on the finer, highly complex, aspects of human rights and ethics. It is the happy display of one’s failure to reason through the issues well – and it’s not deserving of any special kind of consideration – at least not until a better argument is made.



The bottom line is this. Right out of the gate the pro-life stance is indefensible. Consequently, it fails to meet the challenge of justifying itself and making a valid case on numerous fronts, including the legal, moral, and the philosophical.

Worse than this stupendous failure, however, is that the pro-life position seeks to jeopardize a mother’s rights, threatening a breakdown of her civil rights, and places her at the mercy of policy makers who haven’t the first clue as how to address the complicated bio-ethical concerns something like human biology and abortion raise. Meanwhile, the pro-life side continues to defer all responsibility of a rigorous examination of the relevant information and continues to deride the pro-choice side as immoral for supporting a woman’s choice to have an abortion, offering only the wailing lamentation that “abortion is murder” and, in their mind, “abortion is evil” even though these claims are nowhere in evidence and are often found to be in opposition to the truth.

Needless to say, a lot of work needs to be done first developing their argument before the pro-life side can carry any relevant weight in civil rights discussion. As it is, it’s not even close to being a valid, let alone viable, argument. At most it’s an opinion which deliberately seeks to fortify itself behind the walls of ignorance. Then asks us to use this ignorance to lash ourselves senselessly with it – because feelings. I think you’ll agree with me that this simply isn’t good enough. Especially when it comes to import hot topic issues like women’s rights and abortion.

Meanwhile, the pro-choice stance doesn’t suffer these same flaws and isn’t in conflict with science or legal theory in the appalling way the pro-life stance clearly is. The pro-choice side honors the woman’s autonomy and doesn’t fall into the same trap of pitting her identity and rights as an individual against those of her unborn fetus. And it certainly doesn’t seek to make her into chattel or the property of the state by placing her at the mercy of the courts and ignorant politicians and policy makers who ask her to lash herself with the biting tendrils of their ignorance as well – because feelings.

As a rationalist, I can only see the pro-life position as a non-starter. Indeed, it appears that at this time, the pro-choice position is the only valid position in the whole abortion debate. And that says a lot about why this debate never seems to be able to be resolved. The side that needs to argue their case, the pro-life side, continually fails to do so. Yet relying on the strength of their propaganda alone they have convinced thousands to take their side – because feelings – and despite the fact that it defies all reason to do so. And that’s the sorry state of affairs as they are today, in 2016, I’m sorry to report.

I don’t expect what I say here will change very many minds. But it’s worth noting, that whenever an advocate for pro-life says that “abortion is murder” or that “abortion is evil” they clearly haven’t thought things through. People who understand the finer details and all the nuances of the problem would simply not resort to such naïve emotional appeals. They’d approach the problem more thoughtfully and with deep consideration.

At the end of the day, if it were up to me to decide, I would strongly urge pro-life supporters everywhere to stop making moral platitudes and proclamations based on their emotional knee-jerk reactions to some alarmist anti-abortion propaganda videos on the Internet and get to work making their case as solid as they can in order to win the uphill battle of tackling the scientific, legal, and moral problems of their unrefined, ill thought through, largely illogical, and frequently damaging position.



Tristan Vick is a published author who writes both fiction and non-fiction. In 2014 he sold the rights to his zombie novel series BITTEN to Permuted Press and Winlock Press. In addition to this, he also has published the cult hit paranormal detective novel The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston: Rough Justice, also by Winlock Press. His next major novel will be the cyberpunk techno-thriller Robotica, published by Regolith Publications. In addition to his fiction work, Tristan Vick has published numerous books in the area of religious history and philosophy. He co-edited the critically acclaimed book Beyond an Absence of Faith with the philosopher Jonathan M.S. Pearce, which collected the de-conversion stories of religious apostates from a variety of religious faiths including Islam, Christianity, Hindu, and two cult survivors. More recently, Tristan Vick published a critical examination of the work of Christian apologist Randal Rauser and Christian apologetics in general in his book The Swedish Fish, edited by the religious scholar and historian Robert M. Price.


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Women Beyond Belief: Dr. Karen L. Garst’s new book

“For me, being an atheist has set me free from ignorance and stifling gender expectations. As a woman, others don’t tell me what my place is; I make my own destiny. I wasn’t created in the Garden of Eden to be a helper to a man. Learning isn’t something to be feared and punished by a control-freak god who values ignorance over knowledge, the supposedly forbidden fruit. It is more difficult to make sense of the world on your own rather than to defer to a book, but it is more honest too.” –Lilandra Ra

Lilandra Ra is a science teacher who was raised in both Catholic and Baptist churches. She is one of 22 women who have written essays about their personal journeys away from religion.

Karen L. Garst has compiled these essays into a book entitled “Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion,” which can be pre-ordered on Amazon. If you’re familiar with my own publications, you’ll know that I did something similar with Joanathan M.S. Pearce, when we published our collection of deconversion stories Beyond an Absence of Faith. So, naturally, when Dr. Garst contacted me about her upcoming book I was excited to read it. It just goes to show you that great minds do think alike. 

Dr. Garst informed me that she became incensed when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014. This decision said that because of its religious views, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, would not be obligated to follow the dictates of the Affordable Care Act and provide certain forms of birth control to its employees. “Will we never end the fight for women’s reproductive rights?” Garst stated. 

Once again, religion has influenced the laws of our land. Politicians cite their religion in supporting restrictions on abortion, banning funding for Planned Parenthood, and a host of other issues that are against women. 

The first leaders of the New Atheism movement that arose after 9/11 were men: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. They came with backgrounds of science and philosophy and they launched a renewed effort to show people how destructive religion can be and how all Abrahamic religions are based upon an Iron Age mythology, borrowing from other mythologies of the time. 

Dr. Garst wants to add a focus on women and the role this mythology has played in the culture of many countries to denigrate and subordinate women. She states that “Religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality.” And she is right. 

More and more women atheists are speaking out. And as we all know, if women (who comprise the majority of church goers) leave the churches, they will collapse and the religious landscape will be forever altered. 

I encourage you to check out Dr. Gart’s book, as she has received support with reviews by Richard Dawkins, Valerie Tarico, Peter Boghossian, Sikivu Hutchinson and other renowned atheist authors.

If you wish, you may find Dr. Garst’s blog at and you can even pre-order this excellent book which I had the pleasure to read a beta-copy of.

I Get Strange Comments

This comment was left on The Advocatus Atheist backup blog on Word Press.

“Dear author of this blog:

Just present to mankind what is your atheists’ concept of God; don’t talk uselessly on and on in the cloud without your concept of God adequately presented, in term of the first and foremost role of God in the universe, in man, and in everything with a beginning; otherwise you are talking nonsense because you have not presented your concept of God, which you insist there is no being in objective reality corresponding to the concept.

Always present the concept of the thing you are in end purpose denying to exist, otherwise you are inanely talking endlessly to no precise definite direction.”

My response.

Pointing out that God may be a manmade concept doesn’t mean atheist literally believe in God.

It means they believe God is a manmade concept.

I don’t see how this confusing to people.

Is New Atheism a Religion? Theism vs. Atheism. Which is more Rational?



A recent commentor left some statements regarding atheism on my other AA blog regarding his views on atheism. Among the statements he made, he claimed that atheism wasn’t the more rational position. That theism doesn’t need to prove itself even as it has made the positive claim. And that New Atheism is a religion even though atheists won’t admit to that fact.

I think you’ll find that these are your typical apologetic statements which many Christians are taught. It’s a bit of anti-atheism rhetoric that doesn’t actually deal with the claims or try to engage in skeptical inquiry, but merely attacks the other side’s position without giving thought to what is actually being said.

Both theists and atheists on both sides have been guilty of going off half-cocked in the past. But my article wasn’t about any of this, per se. I was talking about probabilities and why atheism is more rational because there are no convincing reasons to compel us atheists to go from a high probability to a low probability belief assumption. Quite literally so, otherwise there wouldn’t be such a thing as atheists. Therefore atheism remains, at least in my mind, the more reasonable position given the failure for theism to properly (and adequately) demonstrate it’s positive claims.

Anyway, that was the gist of my argument.

But let me address some of the other misconceptions as well.

I was criticized for attacking the religious by saying they are less rational. Of course, I didn’t mean that religious people are less rationally minded than non-believers. What I meant was they take the less rational position. There’s a difference here. And one who takes the less rational position is clearly being less rational.

I only said this after a lot of proving, and talk about probabilities along with numerous of examples. You can read the article Is Atheism More Rational than Religion if you want to. I think you’ll agree I wasn’t denigrating theists by calling them less rational. I was saying that because there are numerous factors which seem to make theism a less rational position to take. Granted, I could be wrong. But read the article for yourself and make up your own mind.

Later my interlocutor went on about “religious logic” vs. “atheist logic.” I think he may have misunderstood what I was criticizing exactly when I invoked the term “logic.”

I think he may have taken offence by my saying atheism was a logical response to theism’s failure to demonstrate its claims whereas theism was not a particularly logical response to the real world.

In fact, I felt as though he was jumping the gun when he criticized me here because I wasn’t saying that atheists are more rational because “religious logic” is bogus.

Of course, I wasn’t talking about logical deduction or analysis quite yet. I was more concerned with taking a stance on specific belief propositions. And logic, in this case, comes after you have data to analyze. But beliefs do not require data, or even evidence, simply to be held. And that was my main point.

Belief and knowing are two separate things. And theists usually conflate the two. I doubt they realize they are even doing it half of the time. But I continually have to point this out in nearly every discussion I have on the subject.

Where belief propositions are concerned, I mentioned the fact that it does us well to examine why we have accepted beliefs or not when we are the ones making positive claims about the status of real world objects.

That’s why evidentialism plays a big role in how one comes to hold conviction in the belief claims they have accepted as prima facie true. Subsequently, this is also the main reason why New Atheism is *not* a religion and why I tire of hearing such a claim in the first place. It doesn’t act like religion, it doesn’t function like religion, it is, however, a response to religion.

Of course, it may be the case that religious apologists have misinterpreted New Atheism to be anti-theism for anti-theism’s sake on top of pushing strong-atheism simply for the love of not believing in things, and that its zeal arrises from some egoistic desire to be right, rather than being what it really is — a response to contemporary forms of theism. It only appears to the religious as a form of religion because they don’t fully understand what it’s trying to do. It’s mysterious to them. And, well, in their world that’s indistinguishable from religion.

In terms of atheists being the more rational (position) claim, what I was saying was that atheism takes the null hypothesis when the positive claim cannot be corroborated or verified beyond a reason of a doubt. That is, we side with what nature appears to demonstrate to be the case, that is is just a mundane natural world, rather than making up rationalizations for why nature hides her true metaphysical nature or reality from us, as the theist does.

New Atheists, of course, often get chided for pointing this out. It’s at this point where the religious like to throw out pejorative terms and call New Atheists worshippers of the alter of science, and label accusations of scientism.

This accusation of scientism arises, in part, I think, because the atheist has taken the time to at least attempt to familiarize themselves with the scientific literature. And in their newly acquired scientific knowledge, they see that the theistic claim is simply not possible in the realm of natural science.

Consequently, saying that your particular brand of metaphysics cannot be explained by science frequently invokes the ire of the religious who say — exactly. And why should it? And this comes back to our previous point about New Atheists accepting the world as it is, or at least as it appears, and not making undue rationalizations to explain why it isn’t some other way imaginable to us.

Now, atheists could very well be wrong in this. When all is said and done, theism may very well be true. What the atheist continually reminds theists of is the fact that there is no evidence to confirm that such a position is valid. If there was, there’d be no contesting it.

On the other hand, atheism doesn’t need to prove itself valid as it is not offering an alternative, competing, metaphysical explanation of the reality we observe. It’s merely siding with it. As such, it’s merely a response to theism. It’s simply a stance opposing theism based on the grounds that theism has failed to demonstrate its metaphysical claims about the nature of reality.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. Theism isn’t a counter-claim to atheism. It isn’t making any negative claims or taking opposing stances about atheism because atheism hasn’t demonstrated itself. This is because atheism hasn’t made any positive claims about the nature of reality.

One might choose to argue, as certainly many have, that strong-atheism does, in fact, make a positive claim about the nature of reality as we understand it. But, once again, I’d argue that strong atheism is a position of belief. Just as strong theism is. And therein lies the rub. The problem itself is with the nature of belief.

I think rational minded people will temper their conviction with healthy skepticism as much as possible. When it comes to the New Atheists, or any other form of atheism for that matter, a person pushing for strong atheism might be doing so as a counter-measure, or a contra-argument, against theism. Perhaps as a way to try and get theists to be more skeptical of their own claims as well. It doesn’t automatically mean New Atheists believe in scientism and are merely being anti-theists for the love of raging on religions. I’ve met very few atheists who are ardent strong atheists because they simply “believe in not believing” in things. That, in itself, wouldn’t be a very rational position to take.

That’s not to say there aren’t irrational atheists in the same way there are clearly cases of irrational theists. But when it comes to making rational assumptions about the world, vs. striving to be more rational, there is a key difference to be noted between the approaches of atheists and believers.

Rationality, in this case, deals with what we can know. What is irrational, in my mind, is pretending to know things that cannot be discernible, or that you don’t have adequate evidence for, or that are defeasible in the way things are when they are verifiable via systems of demonstration, and thus must be taken on a matter of faith.

That’s merely affirming a belief. But many beliefs, even mundane one’s, even among atheists, are not always rationally held.

That’s just the nature of belief.

But if you say that something is more than a mere belief and that something is real, then you’ve gone beyond just affirming belief in a mere thing. You’ve essentially claimed you have *reasons* to justify your belief in it.

Atheists merely ask that theists follow through with such claims when they mean their statement is more than a matter of simple belief. Such as “knowing” or being “witness” to things inexplicable. That’s when rationalism begins to play a big role in helping to determine whether the beliefs we hold are rationally sound.

I hope that helped to clarify any misconceptions about atheism and New Atheism vs. Theism and what it is I meant when I said, in effect, that atheism is more rational than theism.

Abortion is Evil and Equates to Murder! Period!

“Abortion is Evil and equates to murder. Period.”

If you are the type of person who believes this, I’m sorry to be the barer of bad news, but in all likelihood you’ve been brainwashed.

I don’t say that to be divisive. Really. I don’t.

It’s just an observation.

See, the thing is, you can’t exactly talk about the meta-ethics regarding something as complex as abortion in absolute, black and white, terms and still expect to be taken seriously. It’s just not gonna happen.

Saying “all abortion is evil” and “abortion is murder” is a very binary way of thinking, it’s either right or wrong, good or bad, and leaves no room for discussion.

It is a lot like a doomsday preacher giving the date of the end of the world. You might believe it, sure. You might scream it at the top of your lungs. But the fact remains, it’s simply not true because you want to believe it’s true. One’s mere opinion is not an adequate substitute for a proper argument and in noway displaces the bulk of knowledge already accumulated on the subject, philosophically, ethically, and otherwise.

Saying that “abortion is evil” or that women who have had abortions are “murderers” is just a defense mechanism you’ve developed to prematurely end a debate you don’t want to have.

I know. Because I used to be in your exact shoes. I was a conservative, pro-life, advocate who berated abortion. But now I’m on the other side of the fence. Fancy a guess as to why?

No, it’s not that I think I’m better or smarter than anyone else. You’d be surprised by how many people use that deflection to take the burden off them to have to answer the question of why they feel that way. Often you don’t get well thought out reasons. You get emotionally charged justifications. That’s how you know that you’ve been brainwashed.

Zealously only cares about being right for the sake of being right. It does not care about truth — even when, or I should say *especially when, the truth proves the zealot wrong.

Don’t worry. I get it. I do. Chances are you were taught to think this way. You didn’t examine all the facts, you never sat down with a distraught mother who just had a miscarriage to talk with her about it, you didn’t take time to interview other women who’ve had abortions for all kinds of reasons (most of them probably medically valid reasons at that), and you probably never chose to talk to an entire fleet of doctors on fetal development thereby educating yourself on the relevant material before jumping to the conclusion you liked best.

You just assumed that you knew better because some authority in your life told you that life, all life, was sacred and, well, it stems to reason that if life is sacred abortion is evil because it expunges life.

Again. That’s not how morality works.

We don’t get our morals from on high, from some supreme source. Of course, there’s philosophical reasons why Divine Command theory, just to name one example, is problematic. But that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s just be satisfied with knowing it has never been demonstrated — and maybe, just maybe, we should learn to accept that moral considerations aren’t so simplistic.

The Good VS Evil binary thinking doesn’t have a place in the intricate realm of ethics where subtleties and nuances play a big role in determining the rightness or wrongness of an act.

Bio-ethics, and the gray area where medicine and human life enter the equation, the fact of the matter is that solutions to tricky ethical problems aren’t always crystal clear. This certainly applies to abortion. If you don’t think so, then chances are you’ve never heard of anencephaly — i.e., literally being born without a brain.

And if you say life begins at conception, which it very well may, but you haven’t considered the Ship of Theseus paradox, odds are you probably shouldn’t be saying life begins at conception. You still haven’t defined “life” — and although you are entitled to your own opinions, you aren’t entitled to your own facts. 
Furthermore, even if you had a clear idea of what precise point life technically begins, and how to define this life, you still must ask yourself: does my conclusion comport with science?

This is important. Because, if not, then your conclusion runs against the scientific consensus and probably has more in common with a lot of hocus-pocus than actual science.

If you say *all abortion is evil, but neglect the fact that 20 out of 100 women (in America alone) experience spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) before they turn 40, then you have no right to speak on abortion. If you don’t think miscarriages are *technically the same thing as other forms of abortions, you have no right to speak on abortion. Your opinion is not a valid argument. And in this particular case, saying *all abortion is evil makes you anti-woman. Don’t be that person.

If you say all life is sacred, but just so happen to eat meat, support enlistment into the armed services, and are for capital punishment, yet are against things such as stem-cell research, you are contradicting yourself in the extreme and don’t understand the first thing about ethics. In this case, you’d best go and educate yourself before spreading your thin veil of wisdom over everything. Because as flimsy as your opinion is, it’s just going to come back riddled with a myriad of holes. Swiss-cheese logic has no place in serious ethical debates, I think you’ll agree.

If you think that being pro-choice means you’re anti-pro-life, you’re mistaken. Pro-choice advocates do not call for the death of babies. We merely support the rights of the mother as an autonomous individual. And the fact is, whether you like it or not, unborn fetuses aren’t autonomous individuals. Their rights aren’t the same as an adults in the same way a child’s rights aren’t the same as an adults.

If you think being anti-abortion equates to being pro-life, you’re equally mistaken. Anti-abortion is unscientific and almost always predicated on anti-woman platforms. It’s a perversion of the pro-life stance. Pro-birth is the re-branding of anti-abortion to try and dupe people into agreeing with anti-women policies. Don’t be fooled.
Oh, and if you think that pro-life and pro-choice are opposite sides of the same coin, you’re still wrong and chances are you need to do some major research before weighing in on the matter.

Just to be accurate, the pro-choice stance is a contra-argument to the legal, ethical, and philosophical problems that are raised by the pro-life stance. But in order to know this you need to know what both stances entail. You have to look at both sides arguments as objectively as possible. Leave the hyperbolic, alarmist, over emotional baggage at the door.

Assuredly, pro-life positions are almost always inherently flawed, logically, morally, and otherwise. This is due to the simple fact that pro-life advocates fail to logically defend their premise or find scientific support for their claims. Instead they just want to spout of moral pleas and platitudes. But this sabotages any attempt to form a rational argument, because everything devolves into a mess about feelings — not facts.

I still have yet to see a fully developed, fully rational pro-life argument be made. It always comes down to crocodile tears for all the unborn children who never got to be born, and some questionable links to some alarmist, yet obviously doctored, abortion videos meant to give you a bit of the shock and awe treatment pro-lifers so blithely imagine themselves to be feeling whenever they think about the horrors of abortion. Horrors, which in reality, are extremely rare occurrences that happen less than 1.3% of the time. Which is about the same as saying almost not at all.

Pro-choice has its own flaws, sure, although in my experience they are easier to find adequate solutions for. It’s not as cut and dry with the pro-life side of things, I think you’ll find.

Gun Logic Fail

If the meme means to say a pencil is meant for writing so that the end result is a bunch of written words… and… that a gun is meant for shooting things so that the end result is that those things will be dead. Then yes, it’s correct logic.

If not, then not.