Cyberguy's Blog

Encouraging religion to "beget" off!

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Religious Americans are NOT doing more to help others than the nonreligious

Chris Stedman takes the old Christian idea of “works” vs “belief” and tries to use it to compare atheist charity to their religious counterparts. Is atheism without works dead? The shifting landscape of nontheistic service.

However the issue goes much deeper that this shallow tit-for-tat article makes out. Lets look at the bigger picture…

Why do Americans put such a high value on “service” compared to most other countries? Because there is a massive under-investment in publicly funded social services to deprived sectors of the community. So the giving is necessary because it is sorely needed.

Why the under-funding? Because the American right-wing’s religious dogma demonizes “big government”, and in recent decades their government’s social programs have been hugely scaled back by the Republicans, strongly supported by religious lobby groups.

So if you take all the U.S. religious giving, but then subtract all the programs that have been cut due to religious influence, you get a massive net deficit on the religious side.

So this article misses the main point. In the U.S., atheists tend to favor the Democrats and the intelligent use of social programs to close that gap as a fairer and more efficient way of addressing social inequalities. Why should atheists put such a high value of service when the social system itself is so broken? “Service” in this context is only the smallest band-aid over a gaping wound. You have only to compare the U.S. to other countries to see this.


The Hovind Factor – the definitive measure of religious lunacy!

I want to remind people of a scale that I helped develop in 2008 as a semi-serious joke to measure religious lunacy. With the U.S. presidential election closing rapidly, it is even more appropriate – even essential – today!

It is called the Hovind Factor, and it is named after the American young earth creationist, evangelist and Christian theme park operator Kent E. Hovind who is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for tax offenses, obstructing federal agents, and structuring cash transactions. In short, honesty is not his strong suit.

The Hovind Factor includes in its calculation measures for Belief in Scripture, Scientific Illiteracy, Idiocy, Paradox, and Mendacity.

The scales runs from 0 to 100, where a completely honest statement of scientific merit would score a Hovind Factor of zero, whereas a silly religious statement which violates science but adheres to doctrine, contradicts itself and which the claimant knows to be untrue, would score the maximum Hovind Factor of 100.

Here is the formular:

Hovind Factor = (X + s + i + p) x (m + 1)


Belief in scripture – “X”
0 – No doctrinal belief required
1 – Metaphorical use of Biblical/Qu’ranic quotation
2 – Belief in scripture as the infallible word of God. Timeless, inerrant and absolute. (AiG/The flud etc.)

Scientific Illiteracy – “s”
0 – Full understanding of detailed, advanced scientific principles
1 – Overall grasp of principles with some understanding of specific area being discussed
2 – Vague understanding of general principle but with poor grasp of many details
3 – No understanding or knowledge of area being discussed
4 – Rejection of basic scientific facts/laws/robust theories and/or denial of any evidence that contradicts scripture
5 – Robert Byers (Extreme, moronic and puerile level of 4 above)

The idiocy scale – “i”
0 – no discernible stupidity
1 – slightly silly, but understandable
2 – foolish
3 – daft
4 – rather funny in a slightly worrying sort of way
5 – very funny in a very worrying way
6 – scary stuff
7 – very scary
8 – unlikely to be accepted by anyone with more than two functioning neurons
9 – Moronic. Stark-bollock-naked, off-the-wall, wing-nut
10 – Kirk Cameron or VenomFangX

Paradox – “p”
0 = Statement is logical and self-consistent
1 = Statement acknowledges slight flaw in internal logic but glosses over it with babble.
2 = Statement relies on an assumed divine intervention to explain self contradiction.
3 = Self contradiction invalidates statement completely, and is left unaddressed.


Mendacity – “m”
0 – Total honesty
1 – Statement maker knows they are telling enough of a porkie to try to mislead a generally credulous audience
2 – Statement maker knows they are lying enough to try to mislead an educated audience, or they are repeating a lie that they have previously been corrected on.
3 – Whopper! (including plagiarism)
4 – Complete, burn-in-Hell, perjury grade, super-lie – for example, one that is strategically designed to mislead authorities or the general public (e.g. as witnessed in the Dover trial and Expelled).

Using this formula, a completely honest statement of scientific merit would score a Hovind Factor of zero.

The maximum Hovind Factor, HFmax, is a completely insane statement which contradicts all scientific evidence but adheres totally to religious doctrine and which the person making the claim knows to be untrue – while at the same time the statement also completely contradicts itself – would score (2 + 5 + 10 + 3) x (4 + 1) = 100.

To save you time and effort, there is a Hovind Factor Calculator here. It also includes a “True Believer Rating” (TBR) that removes the mendacity component, as that can sometimes be hard to figure out.

Send me examples of high Hovind Factors or TBRs from some of the Presidential hopefuls, or any other recent religious nonsense. Post the quote, and the resulting HF or TBR based on how you set the parameters.


My atheist bus advertisement

PZ Myers – teacher and poet

I have to admit it. PZ Myers is my favourite web atheist.

His direct spade-is-a-spade style of writing is balanced by a profound sense of humour – a barely suppressed belly-laugh at the preposterousness of the opposition’s point of view.

He is a excellent teacher not only because of his respect for truth, but also because, unlike the accommodationists, he respects people enough to speak it to them.

Although he once assumed the mantle of a poet and then denied that he was one it was all done in good April humour. But in truth PZ is a prose poet of the highest order.

Here are three of the best:

Pamphlet 04 – Planet of the Hats
Pamphlet 05 – The Wall – A Sunday Morning Story
Pamphlet 06 – Dear Emma

My third pamphlet – Scientific Method and the Burden of Proof

In the long lost heyday of the forums on Richard Dawkins’ website, there were often intense debates about science and its impact on various religious ideas. Apologists would turn up and argue that atheists first had to prove that god did not exist before atheism could be taken seriously.

Where exactly the “burden of proof” lay was at the heart of multiple threads. This was such a repetitive topic and area of misunderstanding that I saw a need to create the following pamphlet to address it.

It was translated into French by our humanist friends in Québec.

Pamphlet 03 – Scientific Method and the Burden of Proof
Pamphlet 03 – Méthode scientifique et fardeau

Standard Note: All my pamphlets are A4 format, not US Letter. Leave me a message or comment if you want another format.

When printing, print double-sided, and if your printer can do it for you, set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

My second pamphlet – Evolution in a Nutshell

My second pamphlet attempts to make evolution understandable in plain language.

I personally consider that evolution is a very simple and elegant concept. I cannot see how people could find it anything other than self-evident, as long as it is explained clearly.

I suspect that part of the problem, at least in the U.S., is that evolution is often explained by people who either don’t understand it properly, or are actively hostile to it and put forward a caricature.

This pamphlet is intended to show how easy evolution is to grasp. The Association humaniste du Québec thought so too, and created a French version which is included below.

Pamphlet 02 – Evolution in a Nutshell
Pamphlet 02 – L’Évolution en bref

Note: All my pamphlets are A4 format, not US Letter. Leave me a message or comment if you want another format.

When printing, print double-sided, and if your printer can do it for you, set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

Tim Minchin’s Pope Song – with chords

This song is my interpretation of Tim Minchin’s wonderful piece of biting social commentary. It is, appropriately, in the key of F. (See it on YouTube)

A link to my ukulele version can be found at the bottom of this post.

# Disclaimer:                                                                   #
# This file is the author's own work and represents their interpretation of the #
# song. You may only use this file for private study, scholarship, or research. #

Pope Song. By Tim Minchin

Chords:       EADGBe 
F ........... xx3211
C............ 332010
CaddG#....... 332110
Bb........... 113331
G7........... 320001

Fuck the motherfucker. 
Fuck the motherfucker.
F                             C 
Fuck the motherfucker, he's a fucking motherfucker.

Fuck the motherfucker. 
Fuck the fucking fucker.
C                             F
Fuck the motherfucker, he's a total fucking fucker.

Fuck the motherfucker. 
Fuck the motherfucker.
F                              C
Fuck the motherfucker, fucking fuck the motherfucker.
C                                             F
Fuck the motherfucker. Fuck the motherfucking Pope.

Fuck the motherfucker, and fuck you motherfucker 
F                                 C
If you think that motherfucker is sacred. 
If you cover for another motherfucker who's a kiddie fucker, 
C                                   F
Fuck you! You're no better than the motherfucking rapist. 

And if you don't like the swearing that this motherfucker forced from me
And reckon it shows moral or intellectual paucity 
Then fuck you motherfucker, this is language one employs
When one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys. 

I don't give a fuck if calling the Pope a motherfucker
F                                    C
Means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate. 
This has nowt to do with other fucking godly motherfuckers, 
C                                       F
I'm not interested right now in fucking scriptural debate.

There are other fucking songs and there are other fucking ways, 
I'll be a religious apologist on other fucking days 
And the fact remains if you protect a single kiddie fucker 
Then pope or prince or plumber you're a fucking motherfucker. 

You see, I don't give a fuck what any other motherfucker
F                            C
Believes about Jesus and his motherfucking mother. 
I've no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these fuckers, 
C                                        F
whilst those beliefs don't impact on the happiness of others. 

But if you build your church on claims of fucking moral authority 
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society 
Then you, you motherfuckers, can expect some fucking wrath 
C                                               CaddG#
when it turns out you've been fucking us in our motherfucking asses. 

So fuck the motherfucker, and fuck you motherfucker 
F                               C
If you're still a motherfucking papist. 
If he covered for a single motherfucker who's a kiddie fucker, 
C                              F
Fuck the motherfucker! He's as evil as the rapist. 

And if you look into you motherfucking heart and tell me true 
That this motherfucking stupid fucking song offended you,
G7                                       C
With its filthy fucking language and its fucking disrespect, 
C                             CaddG#
If it made you feel angry go ahead and write a letter. 

F                                          C
But if you find me more offensive then the fucking possibility
F                                           C
- the pope protected priests when they were getting fucking fiddly -
Then listen to me motherfucker, this here is a fact: 
You are just as morally misguided as that 
               Bb                             C                           F
motherfucking, power hungry, self-aggrandised bigot in the stupid fucking hat.

(Repeat and Fade)
Fuck the motherfucker. Fuck the motherfucker. 
Fuck the motherfucker. Fuck the motherfucker. 

I have created a version of this song with chords for the ukulele. Now you can teach it to your children, so they can play it in the school talent show. 😉

Tim Minchin’s Pope Song – with chords for ukulele

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