Guest Post: Aiming at the New Age Delusionalists

Crystal Light Therapy - absolute bullshitThis is a guest post by Matthew Bailey, a fellow South African Skeptic. For more of Matthew’s writing, check out his profile on News24.

It has been a mission of mine for many years now to isolate and ridicule superstition and primitive mythology that masquerades as genuine science, to the detriment of all around. My usual target is religion.

Arguing evolution with creationists has been likened to hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope. This is getting tedious for now, and in the interests of equal opportunity scepticism I will turn my jaded eye to the world of New Age alternative healing methods, and just how much of a holy racket these are too.

Creationism and religion seem to hold themselves above science, in the misguided view that science is fallible due to it’s rejection of the supernatural. Religionists hold that their views transcend the human mind and because of their divine origins, are beyond analysis.

That is one way of getting around the pesky laws of physics – simply invalidate the scientific laws that invalidate your own viewpoint. However, when it comes to pseudo-science such as the esoteric New Age alternative therapies, they simply lie and claim false science to back up their claims.

This is disingenuous to the extreme, and the fact remains that the large majority of these so-called therapies have no positive medical effect on an organism, and in some cases may be harmful.

Firstly in the properties of these concoctions, and secondly because they divert the poor sucker away from seeking genuine allopathic medicine that actually works.

I will go through a few of these quack remedies, almost like a beginner’s guide to what NOT to do if you are ailed by any illness.

Homeopathy.

Homeopathy rests on two basic beliefs. a) What has caused the damage can cure it, and b) that something can be diluted with water to such a degree (10 to the power of -30) that absolutely no trace remains of the diluted substance. In order to extract one molecule of the diluted substance, an amount of solution greater than the scientific estimated size of the entire universe would be required.

To the rational, this sounds a lot like taking little amounts of (very expensive) water. Homoeopathists will assert that water has a memory (more pseudoscience) and thus retains a memory or ‘energy vibration’ in hippy-lingo, of the diluted substance. I postulate and put it to you that this is complete and utter unadulterated rubbish.

If that were the case, surely water would have more memory of the glass bottle it was stored in? What about every molecule that those combinations of hydrogen and oxygen atoms has come into contact with? I hope that next time you take your little vial of water; you will remember that I have urinated in the sea previously, as well as all the other urine that has been through the waterborne sewage system?

Enjoy the little vial of my and everyone else’s micturation-tainted wonder formula! And as for the fundamental precept that the same substance that caused the damage can also heal it – that is completely made up dangerous effluence. I often treat burns by holding a lighter to the affected area, and I have found the best cure for a streptococcus infection is the liberal application of dirty sewerage. Completely insane.

Acupuncture.

This is a system of regulating essential body energies, which flow through a system of meridians throughout the body, like a shadow lymphatic system. Only difference being that the lymphatic system actually exists and is a tangible network of organic byways.

This allows for the travelling of a magic energy substance called ‘Qi’. The fact that it is unobservable and imaginary has no effect on the mind of the human pin-cushion. All medical tests of acupuncture have shown no effect greater than placebo levels.

Acupuncture is a dangerous pseudoscience in that it is an invasive technique, and as such is certainly not risk-free. Recorded acupuncture-linked trauma includes nerve injury, brain damage or stroke, pneumothoraxis, kidney damage, HIV, Hepatitis etc. Apart from the dangers inherent in letting Mr Miyagi stick his needles into you, there is always the ever present risk that whilst diddling around in eastern fairy tales, the actual disease, (not blocked fairy-dust chakras) will progress and even thrive in the absence off genuine allopathic intervention.

Risky, ineffective, and for Christ’s sake – it is old Chinese needle torture!

Reiki Healing.

Basic tenets – There is a universal and inexhaustible spiritual “energy” which can be used for healing purposes.  Through an attunement process carried out by a Reiki Master, any person can gain access to this “energy”. This “energy” will flow through the Reiki Master’s hands when he/she places his/her hands near the patient.

This “energy” has human-like intelligence. As this “energy” is intelligent, there is no need for diagnosis. This “energy” will automatically judge the disease and will heal the patient.

That’s right. A smart-android type of healing app that does not even need a diagnosis to heal the affected area. Whoa. Back up there. All I have to do is lie down and let some hippy move their hands all over me, and presto! The magic Jedi-energy will locate, analyse, diagnose and effect remedial therapeutic action all on its own!

Simply put, if this is true, there would be no need for the entire medical or pharmaceutical industry as a whole. It has only been around since 1922, having been invented by a Japanese gentleman named Usui Mikao. So it is not traditional ancient oriental medicine, it is new pseudoscience aimed at emptying people’s wallets whilst pandering to their belief that anything ancient must be wise. Wrong on all counts.

As a pointer to its efficacy, it is claimed that the healer does not have to be in the same room, city, or even continent as the sufferer. Useful for treating people without even having to get off your arse to do so! But although the healing power is so pervasive that it auto heals with no knowledge of the ailment or patient, without any contact at all, fortunately payment can be done via sending your credit card number or cheque!

Really, if anyone needs alerting that this is pure and unadulterated bovine stool, you probably deserve it.

Yoga.

Difficult one this, on more than one level. Firstly, ‘Yoga’ as such has been misrepresented to stupid fat westerners. Yoga is actually a combined system on disciplines, but the one most of us are familiar with is hatha-yoga, or the stretching and alignment exercises. Whilst this may be beneficial, and proven so, it is only one aspect of the discipline.

It is an overall spiritual discipline, and as such can epistemologically be likened to ‘martial arts’ – an umbrella name taking in myriad of different and even contradictory doctrines. It is difficult to gauge because some of it has been scientifically analysed and it is beneficial, but some of it definitely is not.

Whilst not throwing out the baby with the bath water, it is also not good to keep all the dirty bathwater that comes along with the baby either. So, as my own personal rule of thumb, if it is a tangible physical regimen on alignment and stretching, all well and good. However, when one starts straying into realms such as ‘aligning chakras’ ‘balancing the energy body’ and centering ones core (where the bloody hell else would it be found, and furthermore what exactly is a ‘core’?) my bullsh!t detectors start ringing madly and I feel the urge to call it for the unscientific fantasy it really is.

Also difficult to condemn because my wife is a yoga teacher, so I am hoping this post doesn’t get noticed. I can honestly say that after attending one or two classes, the physical exercise and workout is really good, and most definitely beneficial, I do not feel inclined to sit and meditate and chant Om. It is silly and I won’t do it.

Angel, Magnetic, Colour Therapy, Aromatherapy, Chiropractice, Iridology, and a host of other really, really scientific sounding stuff

This is really, really easy to sell to those liberal self-haters out there, who by virtue of something being scientific, western, pharmaceutical and not derived from nature, must be decried as bad, wrong, harmful, exploitative. But as soon as a bloody native-american reference is heard, it automatically becomes pure and wholesome and healing.

This really makes me sick and gets my aggression up, because these are usually spoilt brats with too much money idolising the ghetto, basically. They force their hippy rubbish on all and sundry around them, to the point of nausea (which can be cured by adopting the native American healing spirit of the Eagle. Or the Beaver, can’t remember which.)

When one of these new age hippies (usually very wealthy to afford the fees these charlatans charge) actually gets really sick, the first thing they do is rush straight to the nearest hospital or medical doctor, with their supplies of evil antibiotics and proven pharmaceuticals. Double standards, and showing your pretentious snobby elitism.

Next time you get diagnosed with a severe infection, I challenge you to NOT get professional medical help, burn your smudge-sticks and centre your chakras. The more scientific something sounds, the more people will la it up. Especially pretentious spoilt brats who should know better.

But I suppose as long as stupidity reigns in this world, then people will continue to look for the easy way out, a way to rebel against their comfortable western middle class life, and a way to stick it to the church as well. Christianity scorns such alternative treatments as being of diabolical or evil origin.

Well, they are halfway right, the only motivation behind all this claptrap is pure profit for minimal effort, and sod all the people who have gotten sicker and even died whilst waiting for the spirit of Quetzcoatl to heal them once the energy world was in alignment with their anal chakra.

The fact is most diseases run their course on their own, and any primitive ritual undertaken will probably be credited for the dispersal of the sickness. People need to wake up, leave their superstitions, stop trying to bash the allopathic system of medicine that actually works, and be grateful to science for antibiotics and all the other western medicine that has raised the life expectancy to the late 60’s, from the early 30’s where it was when witch-doctors, imaginary energies and fairy-tale animal spirits were the only cures known to the uneducated savages of antiquity.

Advertisements

26 responses to “Guest Post: Aiming at the New Age Delusionalists

  1. wait, what? how can there possibly be reported cases of HIV contracted from accupuncture? are you going to tell people that you can get HIV from a toilet seat too?

    i’m not disagreeing with the majority of the points raised, but when you make statements that are completely inaccurate, you’re not making the rest of your points seem very credible.

  2. Perhaps if homeopathic practitioners were encouraged to accept payment of their advertised cost at a rate of 10 to the power of -30, and shake it vigorously in their bank account, advising them that it will retain the memory of vast amount they usually receive.

  3. Really. Can we stop with the strawman attacks on the origins of certain contemporary practices. Because I can quite happily take down a 1500’s “western medicine” strawman; antibiotics certainly look stupid in the absence of a germ theory of disease. Or perhaps I should dismiss evolution because of the many faults in Darwin’s work?

    The claimed mechanism of a treatment – however insane it may sound – it not relevant to the question of “does it work” if the treatment has statistically significant efficacy compared to a placebo. Beyond measurable efficacy the only consideration is safety.

    It efficacy is demonstrated then it becomes a problem for science to explain the mechanism.

    This insistence on trashing contemporary practice on the basis that some number of practitioners cite metaphysical mechanisms is merely an argument from a priori knowledge: metaphysics is nonsense therefore your treatment is nonsense. Such an argument may have emotional sway, but it is as convincing _scientifically_ as “this book is real and it says god is real, so god is real” or your favourite variation thereof.

    If you want to prove that homeopathy or acupuncture or (your pet peeve here) is a sham, then show the evidence for a lack of efficacy.

    Here’s a good start: “Acupuncture for pain: an overview of Cochrane reviews” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21359919) which concludes “Several Cochrane reviews of acupuncture for a wide range of pain conditions have recently been published. All of these reviews were of high quality. Their results suggest that acupuncture is effective for some but not all types of pain.”

    Oh, wait, didn’t you say acupuncture was “ineffective”? Cochrane says you are wrong. That’s about as heavy a wrong-bat as you can be struck with. And anyone who wants to defend acupuncture will have no qualms about wielding such a club against your non-empirical argument.

    Magnetic therapy (PEMF) is commonly used in veterinary practice (in particular for horses), and has some Real Science (aka a Cochrane review) to suggest that it may work (more on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulsed_electromagnetic_field_therapy). We even know the physical mechanism that may be involved (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_effect).

    While people are fond of saying that chiropractic doesn’t work and that you should go to a physio instead, recent Cochrane reviews have highlighted the fact that “soft tissue mobilisation” is a substantial basis and overlap for both physio and chiro. There is also some evidence for the efficacy of manipulations as used in both practices. So while you can validly argue that certain chiro techniques are associated with a higher chance of injury, much of chiro is as effective as physio. It is also worth noting that chiropractic practice in SA is regulated, requires a qualification that only deals with “subluxations” as an item of history, and focuses mainly on the treatment of back and neck pain (for which chiro has demonstrated efficacy).

    Lots of Cochrane material on the ineffectiveness of homeopathy. Good call on that one. But take care when arguing with people in South Africa on that topic, because most homeopathic preparations you find here (especially over-the-counter) are actually naturopathic/herbal, and may in fact have some level of demonstrable efficacy.

    Which leaves colour therapy and aromatherapy. And the question of what there are claimed to treat. And Real Scientists (TM) have done some Real Science (TM) on specific claims, and mostly found that there is insufficient evidence of efficacy (in that there have been few studies, only one met the Cochrane quality criteria for meta-review; that one happened to support a small effect of aromatherapy for relief of anxiety and pain). A more recent study shows that some aromatherapy oils may reduce anxiety in rodents (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20614803).

    The conclusion of your diatribe also needs to examine its premises. Complementary and alternative medicine does not enjoy widespread recognition because of a few new-agers who buy into it wholeheartedly and eschew allopathic medicine. It enjoys widespread recognition because of the incidence of failure of allopathic medicine to solve chronic ailments.

    Few people visit a chiro because they woke up with a stiff back one morning. They go because they wake up with a stiff back and chronic pain every morning, and the drugs stop helping. The most commonly sought homeopathic remedy (actually its usually a naturopathic remedy that is given) is for chronic rhinitis, a condition for which even the most effective drugs have a high miss rate. People who suffer from sub-clinical anxiety don’t need prozac; a back rub with aromatic oils is often just as good as a chat to their chaplain or to a counselling psychologist.

    Every time a “skeptic” puts forward an unresearched, emotive dismissal of a therapy there are onlookers with personal, subjective experience. To dismiss that experience as a placebo effective is both unscientific (unless you have evidence), and insulting to the person (i.e. unlikely to win them over). Moreover – in the case of chronic non-degenerative conditions which allopathic treatment has not helped – the only valid measure of success it the patient feeling that the treatment worked. In short, your argument just hurts the entire skeptic position rather than advancing it.

    So if you must argue against CAMS, make sure that you target specific aspects of contemporary practice (as specified/supported by the relevant governing body) for which there is scientific evidence of lack of efficacy and/or harm.

    • You are missing one KEY measure of EFFICACY in the medical sense. It is not simply the ability to produce a desired result. If that were the case the administration of Potassium Cyanide would be considered highly efficacious in alleviating chronic pain… unfortunately it introduces the undesirable side effect of catastrophic, irreversible organ failure… as in all organs.

      Efficacy is a function of obtaining the desirable outcome with few to no undesirable side effects. In some, not all, of the instances listed I would argue that getting people to believe that a procedure is doing something through some “magic” is an undesired side effect. The placebo effect, while not to be ignored, is not to be relied on either. Sure, in the case of pain control and other “within the mind” sorts of issues I can see little overt harm in relying on placebo. I don’t think along those lines for conditions with a clear and pronounced pathology which see their best results with standard medical practices. Besides… the placebo can even more effective with people who have a psychological disturbance such as hypochondria. So it will be very efficacious with them only due to an underlying mental imbalance which itself should be treated.

      I would use chiropractic as an example of a practice that has good empirical science for pain relief through alleviation of nerve occlusion. It will not, however, cure cancer or the common cold as they have pathogenic origins that have nothing to do with an occluded sciatic nerve. While the continued pressure on the nerve could cause chronic pain that results an in immuno-suppressant effect which could result in greater weakness to the organisms/gene issues that can lead to cancer it is a weak claim at the very best. There is substantial data to debunk the claims that Chiropractic can cure pathogen/gene originated disorders (see the American Cancer Society review of Chiropractic treatment for more details).

      The larger question is not really placebo in any case. The practitioners of acupuncture don’t say, “The placebo effect is going to make you feel better now” they tell you that they will pierce your zogune channel or some such. It is just mumbo jumbo pseudo scientific nonsense. Add to that the risks of disease transmission, nerve damage and other side effects and I would rate its efficacy as zero or worse. Again… with the premise (correct if my education is worth a whit) that efficacy is desired effect MINUS undesired effect. Not just the desired effect.

      I may be putting words in the mouth of the author here but I think we can all evaluate claims if backed by properly conducted studies. There are any number of current medications whose mechanism is not fully understood but clearly produce the desirable effects researchers seek. The lack of a clear understanding of cause isn’t a problem. Making up some supernatural or non-sensical (Homeopathy I mean YOU in this case) explanation for cause is. I am fine if magnetic therapists say “Hey… we don’t really know why people feel better but they do.” But they don’t. They talk about how we all have a magnetic field (TRUE) and how it needs to be aligned (BULLSHIT) with that of the Earth (SPECTACULAR BULLSHIT). In short… back up your claims with science and demonstrate true, verifiable and repeatable efficacy and think most reasonable scientists will give it due consideration.

      • Let me start by stating that I concur for the most part with your view. Treatments *should* have proven efficacy. There are most definitely (large swathes of) CAM that are verifiably debunked. And we should not rely on the placebo effect (Ben Goldacre has expressed some very clear thoughts on that, but I can’t find the link at the moment).

        I disagree with your assertion that efficacy excludes negative side-effects. These are presented as distinct measures in studies (in particular because capturing the nature and severity of side-effects tends to be qualitative whereas efficacy is quantitative). They are also handled differently for drug trials, and are the basis for the scheduling system for medicines (higher schedules are not necessarily more efficacious, but they are more dangerous).

        I completely support evidence-based debunking of CAM. You provide the example of chiropractic not being suitable for treating cancer or the common cold – there is likely to be evidence that chiropractic has poor efficacy at relieving these conditions.

        My problem is with skeptics who use large cannons to dismiss entire practices of CAM. “Chiropractic doesn’t work”, “magnetic therapy doesn’t work”. When a supporter of a particular practice hears such a statement they add (correctly) the words “at all, ever, in any situation” to the end, then find a counterexample, and cite it. And then the skeptics are left stammering about anecdotal evidence versus RCTs and sooner or later a supporter finds an RCT that supports the efficacy of the practice for a very specific condition.

        And then the skeptic has lost, and can only save face by retreating to “well it may possibly work for back pain, but it can’t cure cancer”. And the response is “how the hell can we believe you? You were wrong the first time, so now you have to prove your claim”, and now you’re stuck on the back foot trying to prove a negative because you’ve lost authority over the situation.

        So my position is this: when dismissing CAM, do *all* skeptics a favour and stick to (i) specific, evidence-based claims, or (ii) requesting placebo-controller double-blind evidence for the a claim of efficacy made by the other side.

        “Chiropractic doesn’t work for X types of common cancer” is evidence-based. “Even if it works, chiropractic has a higher rate of cervical damage through treatment than physio, which is just as effective” is evidence-based.

        With regard to: ‘Making up some supernatural or non-sensical (Homeopathy I mean YOU in this case) explanation for cause is’

        This fits into the middle-ground between evidence-based debunking and broad dismissal. It’s basically asserting that you have a privileged knowledge of the universe in which you *know* that the claimed basis of an effect *cannot possibly* be true. It is the argument from incredularity (which is a fallacy).

        The approach works well enough among the neutral and marginally skeptical, but is like compost for True Believers. In effect you are pitting your believe of the universe against theirs, and – because you’re now dealing with belief rather than science – you’re on their turf. In particular you need to be prepared to prove that we know enough about the universe to comprehensively dismiss their belief (and we can’t even do that for obviously wrong stuff like religion), or be prepared to explain every evidence-supported efficacy of their preferred practice in terms of known physics/chemistry/biology (which actually helps their case).

        Remember that most of the time you aren’t going to change the mind of your opponent. Psychological research shows that trying to force the matter with True Believes just reinforces their position. You’re arguing to sway an audience; to demolish the opponent’s position (or just the opponent) in the eyes of the audience. Focus on the evidence, and leave the conjecture to the True Believers. Over time the ludicrous explanations will fall away as evidence-based knowledge of why certain treatments work (or don’t) filters into the public consciousness.

        • Sorry. I may not have worded my response correctly. I was stating the the measure of efficacy DOES include negative side effects. You are correct that the measure of how efficacious a drug/process/therapy varies based on type, intended recipient and other factors such as overall survivability of a disease given no treatment at all. I am sure the FDA has a long (VERY LONG) guide on the protocols for this. So I don’t think we do disagree. I just worded my response clumsily.

          I agree that we should base our dismissal or doubting of an approach on evidence, such as we have, and stick to those things we have good data to back up.

          I do take exception to my statement on Homeopathy. In this case I stick by the statement that the claims put forth by homeopaths that “like cures like” and the dilutions required for their remedies are physically impossible and counter to the known laws of the universe and are therefore bullshit.

          So using evidence based refutation we can start with the dilution requirements. Any dilution that would require more water than the combined mass of the solar system is physically impossible. I need no special knowledge other than the awareness that we lack the ability to convert the combined mass of our solar system into water to create a treatment for a single human being’s eczema.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy#High_dilutions

          Moving onto “the law of similars” as the Homeopaths like to call it is not a scientific law. It is a flawed misinterpretation of observations. There is no such natural law. if this were true then the cure for Potassium Cyanide exposure would be an incredibly small dose of either MORE potassium cyanide or a similar toxin. Organic chem and basic physiology will tell you what happens when you follow this guideline in the above scenario.

          There have been a number of reputable studies that show homeopathic treatments fair no better than placebo. Of course… as I stated in my last reply if these practitioners want to say… “Look we don’t know why running crystals over your body make you fell better but let’s give it a shot.” and the patient agrees then fine. I just get frustrated when they fabricate explanations meant to sound scientific till you look under the hood and find out they are either completely nonsensical or at best very loose interpretations of known science. I am fine with stating “I don’t know” but when we start to claim knowledge on things that are either unknowable (where do we go when we die/is there a god) or supernatural my “bullshit” warning bells start going off.

          In any case… I agree. Use evidence to refute their claims or you wind up being a hypocrite as it is usually their lack of sound evidence that beings the ire of skeptics in the first place.

  4. Acupuncture has been a tough one for me to take down. Whenever I tried, the beneficiaries (for want of a better word) swear that it works and they are living proof. I guess it’s the same as religious conviction.

  5. A woman with whom my wife and I did business shut down her former business and became a Reiki Master. When my wife relayed this to me, I said “Good for her. If Japanese pottery is her dream, she should follow it. But she might want to hold off on calling herself a master just yet.” To which my wife said, “No you idiot. Not ‘Raku’, ‘Reiki’.” I got over the embarrassment, but I’ve never lost that sadness at realizing the world gained another goof-ball mystic rather than a productive artisan.

  6. “Arguing evolution with creationists has been likened to hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.”

    Unfortunately the cows are winning, because they refuse to die no matter how often you shoot them. Stupidity is the perfect armour.

      • I think you may be indulging in wishful thinking. Creationists and their ilk indulge in magical thinking, which is proof against logic and facts. Scientific proof is for them not evidence, just as Biblical claims are for me are not evidence of the existence of God.

        The best way forward is to promote increasingly secular societies where science has high status and we get the children young, thus decreasing the creationist gene pool. For adults, on an individual basis, I don’t think there’s much hope – the damage has already been done.

        And for this to happen we need the help of those religions that do respect science. They’re probably quite embarrassed by their redneck co-religionists.

        • A friend of mine once summed it up nicely thus;
          Any educational material of an atheistic nature should be regarded like anti-smoking warning signs, you will not stop the lifelong addicts, but they should be aimed at the youth to stop such dangerous and bad habits before they begin.

        • I am. I was trying to be facetious.

          The major roadblock I have encountered is that magical-thinking adults are the product of being indoctrinated since birth. It has been my experience that once they are in the “cult of magical men in the sky” they are in it for life.

          I am an atheist primarily because I was raised by my grandfather till I was 7 and he was an atheist. He never exposed me to supernatural thinking and when I was finally exposed at 7 it struck me as being the most absurd nonsense I had ever heard. The chink in my intellectual armor was never very large and my grandfather helped mend it an early age. I am of the very firm opinion that until the cycle of indoctrination is broken it will be difficult, if not impossible, to move people to a reason based existence from one of ghosts and gods. While I like to think I would have rejected religion on my own I would have probably bought it hook line and sinker till I was much older, and may never have fully purged it from my life, if I had been exposed as so many children are.

          I am more of the mind that ALL religions are both false and harmful. The horrors they bring to our civilization far outweigh the few (arguable) good things they do. In fact all of the good can be done without the slightest whisper of religion. This is why so many people I know label me as a militant atheist. They don’t like it when I call them a militant . They counter by saying they are doing as their god commands them to do.. sharing the truth of his/her/its/their glory.

          I would like to see a world devoid of religion. So yes… I am engaging in wishful thinking.

          • I apologize for missing the facetiousness…

            We seem to agree on the dangers of indoctrination. As to religion being false, it’s more that it’s unfalsifiable, which is a different animal. So it has no business dictating moral standards to others. Harmful in many cases, certainly, but sometimes with a genuine concern for human rights and social deprivation. Victorian social reformers were driven by ideals of Christian charity, and the UK would be a harsher place without them. It’s about making useful alliances because the religious will always be with us. Then there’s the glorious art and architecture – I wouldn’t want to live in a world where gothic cathedrals didn’t exist.

            That said, the “militant atheist” label is ridiculous. We should be calling out the nonsense, particularly when it impacts social policy.

            I don’t think religion will die out, and that’s why secular societies are important, so people of belief and non-belief can work together in an environment that respects science.

            • I agree, overall, with you. I stand by the premise that all religions are false and I define false as not supported by, or verifiable by, the known natural laws of the cosmos. “Unfalsifiable” rings too closely to “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” which is not how science works.

              I would argue that much of the harsh realities of life in the U.S. (where I call home) are at least partly owing to an increasingly vicious fundamentalist religious slant. Homophobia is one example. I have yet to, over 40 years of life, meet a single atheist that was also a homophobe. Let’s just say finding a Christian that is a violent homophobe is not nearly so much a challenge. And this is just one example.

              I too enjoy the treasures of art, music literature that are influenced by Christian dogma but I feel those artists would have found other ways to express their innate talents in the absence of religion. Perhaps they would have found grander ways to express their abilities.

              • Johnson, Paul D.:

                You wanted an answer what would happen if you were born and raised with any religion. I have just that, I was also indoctrinated with Christian belief, but that didn’t have life lasting effect on me. When I was old enough I saw it is just voodoo magic, but I wasn’t angry… I just took some good advices (not to kill and that kind of things) and live a good and honest life. People who don’t have enough brain capacity to live on themselves harness the powers of belief system. I don’t want them dead since I respect not to kill anyone, and they are still quite good. No one tries to convince me into something. I can not say that for some Muslims. I have one co-worker and we don’t talk anymore… The thing is, we probably should just mind our own business (I know it is hard when those lunatics want to kill you for religious reasons) when we can to avoid arguing. Until we argue we are just like them, persuading each other. No matter the proofs and evidence, best is to live our lives with years and interests we have. Ignore this if you want to devote your life to enlightening people around the world 😉

                Sorry for my English if something is not correct, I’m not from USA 😉

                And for the finish, I’m not atheist, I’m myself, thinking and living for myself and those who give me joy in those years I have on great planet Earth. Don’t you just love it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s