Is Democracy What people Think it is?

Hallo Skeptics,

Today’s post comes to you from a quote I read from Isaac Asimov recently which got me thinking about democracy. “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” This quote is an extremely well written way of saying what has been said for a long time by skeptics. When I saw it, it made me think about what democracy truly means. For obvious reasons, as pointed out by this quote, ignorance and knowledge are not equal in a good society.

A meme around in the religious/atheist interplay is the notion that in most cultures, the percentage of people who believe in god, and those who believe in creationism is extremely high. A study in the United States showed that 43% of Americans believe the earth was created in its current form less than 10 000 years ago. Apparently, to the religious, this points towards the truth of creationism. They say “Surely 43% of Americans can’t be wrong!”, as a good skeptic, you would immediately point this out as an argument from popularity, ad populi (latin makes you sound much smarter). No amount of belief makes something fact. The universe doesn’t care what people think, it just does what it does.

The view that many people have of democracy is that everybody has an equal say in the running of a country. However, as highlighted by Isaac Asimov’s quote,  this doesn’t seem like the right think to do. If 40% of the population believe in a talking snake, oh wait, they do, bad analogy, if 40% of  the population believe that the best thing to do in today’s evil society is flood it… Damn it, another bad analogy… if 40% of the population believes that toothpicks would be the best weapon for army soldiers, it is the job of the logical people in society to tell them that’s retarded.
A real democracy is not about having an equal say, it’s about having a fair say. And what is important about a fair say is open discussion and debate. It doesn’t matter what 40% of the population think, if they can’t defend what they think in a debate, then their fair say shouldn’t be as much of a say as those who are better at defending their position.

The ideal democracy is one with plenty of open debate and criticism of all views and opinions, and this is how society should be run.

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Why is heaven not that appealing to me?

Hello there skeptical people all over the world,

Today I am going to be blogging about the prospect of heaven, and how, if it is how the bible sets it out to be, it probably wouldn’t be such a nice place to live in.

In the bible, heaven is defined as the place where god dwells. Obviously, this is not the only place god in present, remember, god is everywhere, and in everything. But heaven is the place where he is the ruling spirit, and the devil is not allowed to come into. This also means that there is no sin in heaven, and it is supposedly the happiest place that could ever exist. Imagine the greatest place you could be in, well, heaven would be better than that.

Now, hell is not mentioned in the bible as much as heaven is, but according to most Christians, we can get a pretty good idea of what it would be like. Apparently, People who say to god, “I don’t want to have you in my life”, god says to them, “OK, here is your wish, you can live without me, for the rest of eternity”, This would be a place full of only sin and torture and the devil and a lot of bad things. Quite a lot of bad things.
If you stopped reading here, it would sound like a very simple choice, to go with heaven, but I don’t think it is quite that simple.

Think of the whole idea of the church, to stop people from sinning. Sin is not a very good thing to do, and without it we would all live sinful lives. It also seems that a lot of very enjoyable things in life are sinful. Adultery, being proud, blasphemy and over-indulgence are all considered sins. So it also follows that if heaven is a sinless place, then there would be a lot of things that you would miss out on. Hell would be a place with all of these things still included. So a place which is sinless might not be all that much of a hoot.

Lets also consider the people who would be dwelling in these two places. In heaven you have people like
your local pastor (mine freaks me out), your mother-in-law, your neighbor, your religious ex, Hitler and Benny Hill. Also consider the fact that if somebody like me makes it into heaven, they will be pointing at me and saying, “I told you so!”
Lets consider the sort of people who you would be expecting to be in hell. Most good comedians, your atheist friends and Christopher Hitchens. I would much rather be sitting around with those guys for eternity than Benny Hill.

I will leave you with a quote from Christopher Hitchens, “By trying to adjust to the findings that it once tried so viciously to ban and repress, religion has only succeeded in restating the same questions that undermined it in earlier epochs. What kind of designer or creator is so wasteful and capricious and approximate? What kind of designer or creator is so cruel and indifferent? And—most of all—what kind of designer or creator only chooses to “reveal” himself to semi-stupefied peasants in desert regions?” Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist and author of some note.

Is skepticism a religion?

Hello to all of my skeptical fellows,

I was recently addressed with a point from my father, it is one of his main attacks on scientific skepticism and atheism, and I have heard it from others. He stated that skepticism is a religion and it is no different from any other ideology (ideologies are different to religion, but this is what my father said, not me). I think this is an interesting misconception and I will be talking about it in today’s post. There are dozens of differences between skepticism and religions, and I will only touch on a few today, but I may do some more at a later date.

One of the main reasons why the world view which is scientific skepticism is different to different world views such as Christianity or Marxism is that skepticism is the only ideology which has any tangible relationship with reality, and is willing to change its ideas to fit the evidence. Scientific skepticism is the only ideology which will change any of its views when it has definitively been proved to be incorrect. You may say that the Catholics are able to be swayed by the evidence too, and I agree that the Catholic church has done well to support evolution and an old-earth theory of the world, but they will only do it to the extent that it does not go against their main base ideology that god exists and Jesus rose after three days.

Scientific skepticism is also unlike religions in that they do not worship, nor acknowledge the existence of a supernatural or supreme deity. Of course, if it is proven that such a supreme being does exist, then we will change our views to say that there is a supreme deity, but most scientific, skeptical, agnostic atheists are pretty sure that that will never happen.

Scientific Skepticism is also the only ideology which does not have any preconceived notions about the universe which we live in. It is happy for the science and the evidence to show the way they should think about the world. No other ideology has started with no predisposed beliefs and let the evidence take them where it takes them.

Scientific skepticism is the only ideology which, upon there not currently being any evidence about the subject, will simply say “We don’t know what is going on here.” This is unlike all other religions and ideologies which will fill this gap in their knowledge with whatever predetermined beliefs they have about the universe.

That is all for me today, I will be posting about this again soon. I will leave you with a quote from Mark Twain, ” When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.” Mark Twain, an author and humorist of some note.

I am going to be adding a question to the each post from now on, and you can give your answers in the comments or by emailing me. Today’s question is ‘How many DNA base pairs are there in the human genome?”