My response to a bad argument.

The other day I was sent this image:

It had come to light during a conversation on Facebook that I was an atheist, probably because I said dragons and God are fictional creations.  I found this image in my inbox a few hours later from one of the people involved.  I was a little shocked that this was all there was.  The message had a subject heading, it was "hi" and that's it.  I'm not entirely sure what my new friend was thinking coming at me with such a flimsy argument, but I fully accepted his challenge, even if that's not what he intended.  His name was Joshua and all I knew was that he was once a soldier and lists blowing stuff up as one of his interests.  I've since found out that he's a paranormal investigator, something I really could have ran with.  What follows is my response to his message.  Enjoy.

First of all, don't ever use the word magically in the same context as atheism, especially twice, that's just bad writing. I do not believe in anything remotely superstitious. Not magic, not horoscopes, not crossing my fingers and not the urge to curse a black cat that's strayed in front of me (also, curses).

I can't in any good mind claim to know what came before the big bang, any one who does MUST back up their claim with evidence. Repeatable evidence and logical reason is what science is all about and I'm a big fan of science. So I guess, the first part: The "belief that there was nothing", is one I'll have to give you because I just don't know. Equally though, neither do you.

"nothing happened to nothing" I'm honestly shocked that this is in your anti-atheist cyber-pamphlet. That's what those who believe in God believe, that she created the universe from nothing. Magically, I might add. At the moment, there is only theories on what came before, sure, but scientists have never been one to claim to know something unless it has proof, and even then, they could be wrong. But that's exactly why they're doing experiments with the LHC. There's a wonderful honesty in science, an acknowledgement that we could be wrong about pretty much anything. The laws of physics however, which can be proven again and again, can be scaled from the tiniest quark to the most giant of stars that scientists have found and beyond (the star's name is VY Canis Majoris, I encourage you to check it out, it's scale is breathtaking). Physics CAN explain how "everything rearranged itself". I'm not going to write you an essay on it, go do some research. Here's a hint, it involves gravity, nuclear fusion and my dear friend blind chance.

Which brings me to "for no reason what so ever." How arrogant are you? What have you seen in this life that make you think humans are so special? We have consistently killed, maimed, raped, discriminated against, shot, bombed, burned, hanged, nuked and bitchslapped our way through history. Is that, in any way, a species made in God's image? We are animals. Driven at first by instinct, today by emotion. Granted, there is a lot of good in the world, incredible people doing fantastically brave things. A soldier like yourself included. But you weren't there because of God, not really, you and others may have thought so, but in reality, YOU made your decisions based on what you experienced through life. THEY just happened to have been born elsewhere under different circumstances leading them to leave a different life. WE have ended up where we are through not only our own choices, but the choices made for us by sheer chance. Billions of people in the world, countless different paths their lives could follow, living out the tiniest flutter of a life on a planet amongst billions upon of billions of other planets, stars and galaxies in a universe so mind numbingly awesome (original sense of the word) in it's scale, complexity and magnitude that the idea of a sentient deity controlling our fate seems.... Well, rather silly. Why do you think it was pummelled into our heads when we were young? Because we were stupid and believed what we were told by people who should have grown out of fairy tales long ago. So, yeah, it did happen for no reason what so ever. Not for any kind of reason the religious fanatically cling on to, but because of sheer blind luck. And what's wrong with that? It's even more amazing that we exist on a chunk of rock hurtling through space because we just happen to have the right elemental mixture and just happen to be far enough away from the sun to live off it's light without being burnt to a crisp. Then again, there are so many stars, planets and moons, that to consider, even for a moment, that we're all that there is in the entire cosmos is a pretty poor bet. We just don't seem so special any more.

"Self-replicating bits" is single celled organisms I suppose? Well, then yes. That's exactly what happened. In fact the first recorded fossil has been dated to about 3.5 billion years ago:
"Which then turned into dinosaurs" is a little misleading, there's a huge (documented, studied and sorry, despite what you may think, proven) gap in between that called evolution. They appeared about 230 million years ago.

All of the evidence is there for you, written down and easily checked and doubled checked. You may want to get a good night's sleep before reading up on carbon and radioactive dating though, Jesus Christ! Some smart people in the world. The biggest problem is accepting that there is a more complex reason for why we are here than simply saying, "God did it." It's up to you whether or not you're willing to look for the proof.

"Makes perfect sense" The thing about the Christianity image,  (I had attached the Christian version of Joshua's image in the reply, if you haven't seen it, google Christianity makes perfect sense and look through the images) is that apart from the Adam and Eve bit, which I think is or at least hope is widely accepted as a parable these days, that's what you accept as true. You think that there's a telepathic entity that knows when you've been bad. I found out Santa wasn't real ages ago dude! But seriously, this text you've sent me only shows a lack of understanding and a monopoly on ignorance. 

If there's one thing people have tried to stump me with it's the idea that if atheism is what I agree with,  I have nothing to live for. I think it's quite the opposite. I know there is no afterlife and I know that one day I will die. I know that there is no God, Allah or Superman and I know that there is no one looking out for me, I have no King. I have no Lord. I am a slave to no one. I am my own man, I am my own God. Freed from the shackles of fear and guilt I do as I please. And, far from turning into a blood thirsty kid fucker with no morals, I have become confident and happy in myself. Which sounds really twatish, but there it is.  I'm not saying all atheists are moral standard setters, just that you don't need an imaginary friend to tell you to be nice. You, me, everyone, we only have one shot at existence. The idea of a life of servitude to a God created simply to explain what couldn't have been explained thousands of years before is a life I do not want.

Take a step back. Look back through time, religions have come and gone throughout civilisation. And, just as the wind and rain can slowly wear down the mightiest of mountains, so too can humanity's collective knowledge, added to and refined over the millennia will wear down ignorance. Probably not in our life time, probably not in our great great great children's life time. But then again, by then we'll be dead, so who cares? Enjoy your perceived existence while you can because that's all reality is: What you perceive.

And if you still want to keep God in your heart or wherever you keep an omnipotent being, best of luck to you. Really, I mean that, I know I come across as a bit of a piss taker, but it's your life after all. As long as you're true to yourself then I got no beef and I wish you all the best. Thanks for (hopefully) reading what turned out to be my whole afternoon, so maybe I'm not living life to it's fullest just yet.


Science! By a (relative) moron.

I don’t think the chances of life on another planet is a statistical improbability. I think it’s far more improbable that earth is the only planet in the entire universe that has life. All that’s needed are the right chemical mixes. And even then, it’s possible that our particular mix of elements isn’t the only blueprint for life.
The cosmos is filled which such incredible wonders that reach far beyond our spectrum of what can be considered “normal.” I remember hearing about a planet which could have mountains made of diamond (thank you Google, a gas giant called WASP-12b), I almost wept when I considered the size of VY Canis Majoris in relation to my insignificant frame.
Yes, it’s optimistic of me to assume that there is life based purely on chance and not on evidence but when you consider that we have barely skimmed the surface of what the universe contains, it’s likelihood is raised from chance, to probable chance. Even if the odds of life were a hundred billion to one, space is more than capable of providing ample numbers of stars and planets to gamble on. Better that we use our optimism and follow these tantalising statistics, even if we’re proved wrong, than to be defeated by the magnitude of the task.

I am by no means an intelligent man and I lack a degree in anything. I’m simply lucky enough to have grasped the English language in such a way that I can make myself appear smarter. Thanks for reading.
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I love chocolate creams. Mmmm-MM! Why are they the only sandwich designed food that we insist on messing about with before we eat? I'm always removing the top first, then biting round the cream so that from the top down it looks like it's all chocolate, then I'll eat all the cream! Leaving just a plain biscuit! I know! Why don't I just throw the damn thing into my mouth and have it done with? I know of no other food where I do this. I've never eaten the top off a sandwich first. Never just peeled off the lid so I could fish out the grated cheese with my tongue and finally, enjoy a nice slice of soggy bread. Although I may start doing this for burgers.

How to be happy with who you are

I'm sure that when my parents saw me for the first time, crying my first into this new world, they would have noticed my Dad's tell tale mark that he had genetically left on my head: my curly red hair. My Dad would have seen this and thought: "A mighty colour. He shall be desired across the land, like his father, who went and got his first girlfriend pregnant at 18." He looked down at his obviously tired and far too-young-for-this-shit teenage partner. "Yes," he continued, "a Casanova to rival the ages, surely. No man shall dare mock such a fiery beast."
My mother would have been holding me in her arms and even though I was only zero years old that very day she would've seen that I will grow to be strong. For this would be my Mum's genetic gift to me. She had made sure to sow her womanly frame into my genes. I remember looking up and she said "Bllaaaa, noooom hooofyyy" because I was just a baby and didn't understand what she was saying but according to the minutes it was: "And lo, not only shall you be ginger, you shall also be eternally skinny. So I say, so shall it be!"

Lightning strikes.

The spell would prove to work, for I grew long thin legs for running and creating mirth at swimming pools, long thin arms for flailing and shoulders so big you could balance coins on them. Honest to God coins. Maybe two, three coins on each. Yeah, I was shaping up to be something pretty special alright.

But one thing was missing. A name. Something that would complete the trifectum of hair body and soul, priming me for life. To decide, many names were made to fight to the death for my parents approval. The battles were long and bloody and were played out in the hospital's basement. In the end, only one survived. I was lowered into the pit and forced to eat my name, thereby gaining it's power. It tasted dull and non-offensive.

And so on the night of May eighth, 1984 I was christened Alan. Yet, despite these three advantages that I had been given, I would go on to have a less than awesome first quarter life. And it's only now, that looking back, I can be happy with who I am.
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Sigur Ros.

Just listened to two full albums of Sigur Ros while playing Modern warfare 2. It certainly enhanced the game in my opinion. I played it differently than usual, there was melancholy to my actions, it stopped becoming a hero's war and instead became a desperate and crushing fight for survival. I would pick off the enemy methodically and thoughtfully, all the while being painfully aware of my own mortality within this mini-universe I had created for myself.

Man, War sucks.
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A poem, by someone else.

by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Thou art a fool, "said my head to my heart,
"Indeed, the greatest of fools thou art,
To be led astray by trick of a tress,
By a smiling face or a ribbon smart;"
And my heart was in sore distress.

Then Phyllis came by, and her face was fair,
The light gleamed soft on her raven hair;
And her lips were blooming a rosy red.
Then my heart spoke out with a right bold air:
"Thou art worse than a fool, O head!"

Oh the times, they are a-changin'

OK, more information about me that only potential stalkers and weird data collectors will find even slightly useful:

I work in a lab. A microbiology lab. I don't know why I chose to say that as if James Bond changed his name by deed poll but roll with it. I'm not a microbiologist myself yet, only a lab technician. So basically I do all that crappy work whilst trying to cram enough information into my fluffy head to keep up with everyone else. You see kids, I never went to university when I left school, but don't feel bad, I certainly lived the student lifestyle. This consisted primarily of getting blind drunk and doing very little work. Now, I'm not one to generalize but I'm certain every student is like that. However, although I had some incredible times (that I either can't remember fully or have made up) I was left in a bit of a mess at the end of it. With only an above average education under my belt I went out into the big adult world of work and didn't have many options. I ended up working all over the shop. Literally sometimes. I've worked in two games shops, a pub, an office, as a charity worker, a cleaner, at Amazon, the post office, an adult DVD store (just selling them, I doubt the world is ready for a porn star like me), I engraved serial numbers onto airplane parts at one place, another pub, data entry in another office and finally a lab. I've been there now since January 2008 and I don't see myself going anywhere for a while. Do you know why? Of course not, how could you, I haven't told you yet. It's because maturity has finally hit me. It's come on slowly these past two years like a stop-motion menstrual cycle, but at last it's here: Clarity. A sense of purpose and direction. I know now what I want from my life and it's happiness. That may sounds like a very broad net, but it's quite simple in my eyes.

You know when you meet a friend you haven't seen in a while who you know quite well, but not well enough to talk to all the time? You have to go through all that small talk that really, deep down, you couldn't give a monkey's left bum cheek about but you smile and nod along anyway like a lobotomized hand puppet? Well, being partial to a bit of brutal honesty, I told this to my friend Declan as he was telling me about losing his job (or some boring nonsense, I don't know, I wasn't listening) and amazingly, he agreed. We came up with a very simple system which we called The Outer Three. Now when we inevitably bump into each other on nights out we simple hold up three fingers to indicated how happy we are in our lives. One is for our work lives, one is for our love lives and the third is for life in general. The out of three, see? And coming up with such a winning plan was the best conversation we've had in a long time.

Anyway, my point is, that's all I want from my life these days and at the moment I'm coasting merrily along on all three. I've got a stable job where I can feed my sponge of a brain with knowledge, I have, and I also don't exaggerate, the single most wonderful, gorgeous and down right perfect woman that I can heap my frankly sickening amount of love on. She's not a model, she's not rich and she doesn't have any superpowers. "But Alan, you lunatic!" I imagine you're shouting at me now. "Why are you with her then?" Well, my imaginary blog interrupter, because she makes me laugh and she wants to get a ferret one day. Tell me you don't love her just a little bit now too? This leads me neatly onto finger number three, life in general. I'm in good health, have amazing hair, and top notch friends. I also have a cat, which I highly recommend. People focus on what they don't have in their lives far too much. You only have to flick through the telly box to see endless shows about pimping this and idolizing that being forced into your retinas. I don't want to be famous and with a job list as long as mine, I doubt adding pimp to it would be a wise move.

So if you are a student then you must have ambition (or pushy parents but let's stick with ambition for now) and that's fantastic, but don't get so caught up in your future you can't see your present. On the other hand, if you're like I was and don't really have a clue what you want or what you're doing, don't worry. Chances are that you have everything you need already.

Dear Tabitha

Ever since I rescued you from your frankly unworthy owners, you wouldn't shut up, always wanting attention at the most inopportune times. And how did you get that attention? Only with the high pitched wail you so uniquely have. Ex-girlfriends have complained about you, parents have moaned about you and even friends have stated outright that they can never, ever, have you stay with them again (If my hamster Thor could talk, I bet he'd have a few harsh words to say as well).

I seem to be the only person in the world who hasn't got tired of your piercing scream, perhaps because I bend to your every wish and desire to get you to be quiet, but maybe, just maybe, it's because you piss off those people who clearly don't see you as I do. As the sweetest little fur ball of them all.

You're still just a cat though and I am your mighty master. I'll see you on our regular battlefield, my bed, when I'm trying to sleep, for another fight to the death. Well, probably until you get bored or I can't take my hand being chewed on anymore.
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