Friday, July 25, 2008

Wheatgrass Part 4

This is when you start to notice one of the tactics that conspiracy theorists and psuedoscientists like to use. They overwhelm you with information. There's so much of it that you don't even want to begin to take the time to take it apart. Unfortunately, I'm just that stubborn.

16 Liquid chlorophyll washes drug deposits from the body.

Your body does that on its own.

17 Chlorophyll neutralizes toxins in the body.

Your liver does that.

18 Chlorophyll helps purify the liver.

Watch for those words that allow them wiggle room. It "helps" purify the liver? How does it "help"? On its own, will it purify the liver? Probably not, or they wouldn't have avoided saying it. Chances are, it doesn't do anything for your liver.

19 Chlorophyll improves blood sugar problems.

Improves them how? Does it raise your blood sugar or lower it? I'm pretty sure it has to do one or the other and can't do both.

20 In the American Journal of Surgery (1940), Benjamin Gruskin, M.D. recommends chlorophyll for its antiseptic benefits. The article suggests the following clinical uses for chlorophyll: to clear up foul smelling odors, neutralize Strep infections, heal wounds, hasten skin grafting, cure chronic sinusitis, overcome chronic inner-ear inflammation and infection, reduce varicose veins and heal leg ulcers, eliminate impetigo and other scabby eruptions, heal rectal sores, successfully treat inflammation of the uterine cervix, get rid of parasitic vaginal infections, reduce typhoid fever, and cure advanced pyorrhea in many cases.

Wow, that's a big one. Let's see what we can find about it. Here is a Time Magazine article about this research in which we learn that:

Dr. Gruskin is not sure how chlorophyll works.

Maybe it's a good idea to ask why they're quoting an incomplete study from 1940. Surely a more complete, recent study proved the results more effectively.

Or maybe not.

Wait, parasitic vaginal infections?! Holy crap! Seriously, I don't know how you women live with those things, but you're doing a yeoman's work.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Catastrophic Cracker Kerfuffle!

According to The Skeptics' Guide Rogues, the aforementioned Cracker Wars have officially upgraded to a Cracker Kerfuffle!

What a great word.

The specifics of some of the death threats being sent have come to light and they're just too amusing to not share.

This email was sent to PZ Myers, among many others, and PZ followed his policy regarding letters that threaten violence. Specifically, he posts them with all the identifying information attached. He even has a little item on his front page announcing this.

I do my best to avoid swearing here, but I won't censor anyone else's choice of language. All errors are the author's:

Subject: your short life


what I would like to know is how did you even
get a job at a collage.

when you are obviously a moron.
How would you feel if nice folks starting ranting against
Fags, and atheist like yourself.

well sir, you don't get to blaspheme and walk away from this.
You have two choices my fucked up friend, first you can quit your job for the good of the
children. Or you can get your brains beat in.

I give you till the first of the month, get that resignation in cunt

What's interesting about this email is that it came from an address at As it turns out, 1800flowers doesn't appreciate people sending threats from their computers. The owner of the email address was fired.

Unfortunately, the lady who owned the email address is not the psychopath threatening violence over a glorified saltine. No, she's just married to him.

For how much longer remains to be seen.

... I wish I had a job at a collage. It sounds colorful.

Convince Me

It's often said that an unfalsifiable theory is a useless theory. The best way, in my mind, to determine whether a theory is falsifiable or not is to ask what sort of evidence would convince its believers to change their minds.

I can conceive of no evidence to show that God does not exist. God is unfalsifiable. I can't disprove God, and that's its biggest weakness.

My beliefs, on the other hand, are falsifiable and I'll explain how.

All of the following must stand up to scrutiny in order to prove that a "natural" explanation is not plausible or possible.

If two civilizations with no contact (first, second, third or whatever hand) managed to produce identical holy texts of such length that happenstance would be impossible, that would be significant evidence to contradict my belief that there is no contact between mortals and the divine.

If any holy text produced knowledge that was beyond the possible understanding of the mortal authors, that would also be relatively convincing. For instance, if the Bible made mention of Strangelets, that would certainly shake me. As it is, the Bible gets the measurement π wrong. That sounds a lot more like a bunch of guys in the desert making their best guesses than it does the creator of the universe.

One thing that holy texts like to use is prophecy, and a legitimate prophecy would indeed convince me. Unfortunately, it needs to be very specific and verified. They aren't very good at that. I won't be convinced by the first part of the book making a prophecy about the second part of the book. That's called foreshadowing. Most books have it.
In all seriousness, let's say I wrote the first half of a fictional series with significant statements and foreshadowing about the second half of the series. I die and a fan of the series takes over. How likely is it for the new author to make sure the promises of the first half come true?
I will also require a 100% accuracy rate. I think that's fair to ask of omniscience.

Finding a ghost would be a significant step toward proving the existence of God. If we could find a ghost, a real ghost, we can learn about it. If it is visible, then it interacts with light and can be measured. If it makes sound, then its movement causes vibrations and can be measured. If it can be felt, you get the point. If we can measure the essence of a ghost, we can determine what, exactly, it is. If the ghost retains any intelligence, that is proof of an afterlife. If the same "ghost substance" can be discovered and measured in humans, that is proof of a soul.

If the claims of the religious are true, at least one of these should be producible. Please inform me if any of these happen. Once again, they must all stand up to intense scrutiny. If they are legitimate, they will only be reinforced by the effort.

The Correct Answer Is C

A friend sent me this article over on Slate.

The short version is that a multiple choice test in Saudi Arabia contains the following question:
Q. Is belief true in the following instances:
a) A man prays but hates those who are virtuous.
b) A man professes that there is no deity other than God but loves the unbelievers.
c) A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the unbelievers.

Pencils down.


I recently mentioned that I disapprove of going into churches with the intent of stealing Jesus' cracker-bound form. I wanted to clarify that the reason I disapprove is not out of respect for the ritual or the cracker itself, but out of politeness. Simply, you don't crash a party just because you can.

However, if they were handing out Nabisco Nazarene Nibblets on the streets, there'd be nothing wrong with tossing it in the trash. Personally, I'd probably try to feed it to birds so they become attracted to the spot and drive off the missionaries, but trash is acceptable.

That said, sometimes a group needs to be intentionally offended. This is sometimes the only recourse to force someone to either amend their beliefs to cope with society or appear and feel completely absurd. As has been said, sometimes the only effective response is ridicule.

So perhaps, in this case, a little Grand Theft Deity is called for.

In this debacle, I've noticed a huge number of Catholics and other Christians claiming that we wouldn't dare mock Muslims so openly for fear of violence. I fail to see what that red herring has to do with what's going on currently, but I suppose I can spare a bloodhound for that as well:

Okay, get offended.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Atheist Blogroll

I've been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

In other news, I just learned that there's such a thing as a "blogroll". I'm good at this.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Cracker Wars

For those who are not aware, a cracker has been stolen.

To sane people, this may not seem like a big deal. Apparently, it is. This kid, Webster Cook, is receiving death threats over this. A lot of them. So is PZ Myers for supporting him.

I don't expect to receive death threats for a few reasons. Primarily, I'm not popular. Secondly, though, is that I actually do not support this kid.

The death threats are ridiculous and those people do need to be smacked. However, this was fairly disrespectful and rude. This is an attempt to irritate Catholics just for the sake of irritating them to show that we can. I do believe that, within the privacy of their churches, they have a right to practice their goofy little rituals undisturbed. That means that we unbelievers should stay out of their business and not try to do things like steal their Christ Chex and swapping out their communion wine for pig's blood.

This may separate me from some of the other atheist groups, who are suggesting that more people go through steps to steal The Holy Ritz. Most of them are specifically stating that they don't want church services disturbed, stating that subtlety is the first priority in these games, but I think the whole practice is really unnecessary.

While, yes, we do need to inform morons like Bill Donohue that he doesn't get to have people fired to supporting the theft of crackers, we don't need to go out of our way to mock the stupid things people do in private. What concerns us is the influence they have on the rest of society. They can privately cannibalize all the crackers they want for all I care.

Of course, when someone says something like this about it:
"It is hurtful. Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family." -Father Miguel Gonzalez

Well, that does sort of give me that old cracker-thievery urge. Some people need a serious, serious reality check.

And it does make me wonder why, if stealing the cracker is kidnapping, eating it isn't murder. One might suspect that, given enough Sun(ofGod)Chips, you could rebuild the Messiah. Maybe that's why he hasn't shown up for that Second Coming yet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Demanding Evidence

Freedom fighter PZ Meyers debated some theists recently. They tried to come at him with this idea that there is no empirical evidence for love, in an attempt to deflate his argument that belief in God is unjustified due to a lack of evidence.

He defended himself pretty well, pointing out that we witness empirical evidence of love every day. I just wanted to expand on his point.

We can imagine a world without love. We see examples of a loveless society in novels like Brave New World. It's a world significantly different from our own.

Now, close your eyes. Wait, open them. You'll need those to read this. But do whatever you need to do, aside from closing your eyes, that helps you imagine. Think about a world, or universe, without God. Think of the development of the universe and life on our planet as a combination of unlikely events, rather than the designed directive of a creative force.

How different is your world from the one in which we live?

In my mind, it's not different at all. That's the difference between needing evidence for love and evidence for God. The fact is that our world very much resembles a world without any interfering or creative God. Occam's Razor demands we avoid needlessly complicating the equation.


While researching something else, I stumbled on this quote by Stephen Jay Gould:

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.

Absolutely. We are not the limit of the universe. We are not the center of the universe. Our solar system is not the center of the universe, or even our galaxy. How much further do we have to go, do you suppose, before we decide as a world that the universe was probably not designed for us?

Wheatgrass Part 3

I've been neglecting this blog and this feature, which is a shame because the best part is coming up.

On to the "facts"!

11 Chlorophyll can be extracted from many plants, but wheatgrass is superior because it has been found to have over 100 elements needed by man. If grown in organic soil, it absorbs 92 of the known 102 minerals from the soil.

Fantastic! Did we establish that chlorophyll is good, yet? I don't remember. Also, how much of those elements and minerals does it have? Is it enough to matter? Does it have 100 elements needed by man like a Snickers bar has protein?

12 Wheatgrass has what is called the grass-juice factor, which has been shown to keep herbivorous animals alive indefinitely.

You heard it here first! IMMORTAL RABBITS.

Wish I believed in God, because I have a sudden urge to start praying.

13 Dr. Ann Wigmore and institutes based on her teachings has been helping people get well from chronic disorders for 30 years using wheatgrass.

First of all, your verb should be plural. Dr. Wigmore and institutes HAVE been helping. Secondly, who is this Dr. Ann Wigmore? Well, let's take a look. Oh, this is good. Dr. Ann Wigmore's studied for years to become a qualified professional holding a PhD in...


I wonder what her thesis was about.

14 Liquid chlorophyll gets into the tissues, refines them and makes them over.

So chlorophyll is like a deep tissue massage? Don't let the Swedes find out about this, their whole economy could collapse!

15 Wheatgrass Juice is a superior detoxification agent compared to carrot juice and other fruits and vegetables. Dr Earp-Thomas, associate of Ann Wigmore, says that 15 pounds of Wheatgrass is the equivalent of 350 pounds of carrot, lettuce, celery, and so forth.

And so forth? So, what, tomatoes? Broccoli? Spinach? Well, it doesn't matter anyways, because that's completely wrong. It's difficult to find information on Dr. Earp-Thomas, he doesn't show up on Wikipedia. All I could find was remarkably professional page that clearly isn't run by a crazy person with a very basic knowledge of HTML. What I just did there was a logical fallacy, but in this case I'm going to cut myself some slack.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Atheists are often accused of being hostile to religion and believers. Why do we think it's out place to destroy the belief systems of others? Why can't we just live and let live?

Well, most of us do. I suppose the existence of this blog could be convincing evidence that I, personally, don't, but there's a reason for that.

Religious people often forget that they worship a book that set the tone of hostility thousands of years ago.

1 The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
Psalm 14

Those servants of His who refuse to believe in the soon-coming King, and live a wanton life, will be cut asunder, and punished as unbelievers. Luke 12:45-48

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. Titus 1:15

Or thinkest thou that most of them listen or understand? They are only like cattle;- nay, they are worse astray in Path. Qu'ran 25:44

That's leaving out the lake of fire.

"You started it," may not work with parents, but it clearly explains the tone of the argument. You worship as divine truth a book that specifically insults me. It's only now that atheists have developed some teeth that you're feeling the hostility that's been around for millennia.

You don't get to hail Mein Kampf as a work of genius without angering Jews, and rightfully so. You don't even get to say, "You know, the Ku Klux Klan isn't all bad." without getting black people on your case, again rightfully so. The book that you claim is the True And Holy Word Of The Lord God Creator is deeply offensive. Get used to the hostility or find a new book.

I recommend De Rerum Natura by Lucretius.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Caste systems, it's generally accepted, are wrong. The reasoning behind this is simple enough: you're born into servitude with no chance social movement. You are born, essentially, in debt to a higher class. In free nations, we find the very idea of this abhorrent.

We believe, rightly so, that each person should be judged by his or her own thoughts and actions, not the circumstances of his or her birth.

That is, except religious people. They claim to support the ideals of equality, and they even live it, but according to their theology we are all members of a caste inferior to God. Born in debt to him because of the actions of ancestors so far removed that there's no hope of piecing together the genealogy, we are locked in our inferior, servile positions for not just life, but all eternity.

According to them, we are a world full of Untouchables, forever undeserving of love or respect but receiving despite our flaws because of the infinite benevolence of our loving, superior emperor.

It's truly amazing that America is one of the most religious nations in the world, given how the core concepts of religion are so incredibly un-American.

Why would we ever want to submit ourselves to a life like this?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pascal's Wager

I recently saw this comment on another blog:
I am a pastor. I worked hard towards it and take it seriously. By the way I had to look Pascal's Wager up. That is what I was saying but I never read it before.

Forgive me, but at what point did it become acceptable for professional theists to be ignorant of the absolute basics of theology?

How can I possibly believe that you "worked hard" and "take it seriously" when you skipped over an argument you should have learned in Philosophy 101?

For those who don't know, Pascal's Wager is a very simple argument for belief in God. I specify that it's an argument for belief in God, rather than an argument for the existence of God, because it never actually says anything about whether God exists or not. It's important to separate the two, as theists so often enjoy confusing them. I believe the strategy there is to muddle the line between fact and opinion, because they can't win with facts alone.

Pascal's Wager, essentially, states that God either exists or does not. Each of those conditions has two possible outcomes.

If God does not exist and you did not believe he existed, you die and receive no reward.
If God does not exist and you did believe he existed, you die and receive no reward.

If God does exist and you did not believe he existed, you die and receive eternal torment.
If God does exist and you did believe he existed, you die and receive an eternity in Paradise.

Therefore, you might as well believe in God. What do you have to lose?

The false assumptions this argument makes are as follows:
Belief in God is something you can change at will because it suits you.
If you believe in God, you believe in the right God. One thing gods tend to be is jealous, so choose well.
A life lived in fear of God's punishment is equal to a life lived freely.
God is appeased by self-serving belief, for fear of punishment.

There. Now you know more about basic theology than a pastor.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I'm going to make an effort to make my posts much shorter, so that people can actually read them.

Theists often like to claim that atheists believe in nothing greater than themselves. I believe in many things greater than myself, I simply do not believe that they care about me.

I will go on record right now saying that I am not entirely certain that there is no God, though I'm fairly confident that is the case. I am absolutely sure that no being who created a universe as massive and vast as ours cares one bit what I do and what I believe.

It appears, from observing the rest of this truly awesome (like red and yellow socks) place that, if there was a Creator, it didn't exactly design around us. We clawed our way into life and consciousness on a tiny planet that can sometimes support life on some of its surface, warmed by a tiny star, in a tiny galaxy hidden away in a corner of the universe.

That's the miracle.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wheatgrass Part 2

This is part two of my refutation of "40 Benefits of Wheatgrass". Each installment will include five of the claims made by one of the most popular sites promoting wheatgrass and my attempts to refute those claims.

6 Chlorophyll is anti-bacterial and can be used inside and outside the body as a healer.

The evidence does seem to indicate that wheatgrass can kill bacteria. That doesn't suggest that ingesting it will help your body fight bacteria, or that you'd want your body to fight bacteria better, or that it's any better to use than any other antibiotic/antibacterial substance.

7 Dr. Bernard Jensen says that it only takes minutes to digest wheatgrass juice and uses up very little body energy.

Alright, let's assume that's true. Wouldn't that mean it just runs right through you with no effect?

But putting that aside, let's take a look at this Dr. Bernard Jensen. Here is his Wikipedia page, and this is a "tribute" page. Both indicate he was a chiropractor and proponent of Iridology. For those who don't know, Iridology is the "alternative medicine" style that claims you can examine the iris of a patient's eyes to determine information about a patient's systemic health.

Exactly what qualifies this guy to suggest anything related to health? He became a "doctor" at 21 upon graduating from West Coast Chiropractic College. Clearly a highly trained professional.

8 Science has proven that chlorophyll arrests growth and development of unfriendly bacteria.

This sounds an awful lot like number six. I think all of my refutations still apply to this one.

9 Chlorophyll (wheatgrass) rebuilds the bloodstream. Studies of various animals have shown chlorophyll to be free of any toxic reaction. The red cell count was returned to normal within 4 to 5 days of the administration of chlorophyll, even in those animals which were known to be extremely anemic or low in red cell count.

I'd like to see these studies, no links are provided, but even assuming that these were legitimate studies that doesn't tell us what kinds of animals were tested and whether the same effect could be expected in humans. What works for animals doesn't always work for us. In fact, it usually doesn't. This entire claim is extremely vague.

10 Farmers in the Midwest who have sterile cows and bulls put them on wheatgrass to restore fertility. (The high magnesium content in chlorophyll builds enzymes that restore the sex hormones.)

I've yet to hear of a single farmer actually doing this, but again let's assume that it's true. Why should we assume this will work for humans? The suggestion here is that wheatgrass will cure sterility. Were that the case, you would think something like that would make the news.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


A recent miracle supplement that you can find in any local smoothie shop is wheatgrass. Supposedly, it's very healthy. It's hard to get anyone to explain what exactly is so healthy about it, so I decided to take a look.

If you Google "wheatgrass", the first link that appears is one to Wikipedia. After that is a site called Wheatgrass, which has a handy-dandy section called "40 Benefits of Wheat grass".

Forty is a lot, so I'll break this into several posts. Let's take a look at these claims.

1 Wheatgrass Juice is one of the best sources of living chlorophyll available.

Alright, nothing really wrong here. We may not know what living chlorophyll is and why it's good for us, but we can give them the benefit of the doubt that wheatgrass has a lot of it.

2 Chlorophyll is the first product of light and, therefore, contains more light energy than any other element.

Hm. What is light energy? A Wikipedia search for "light energy" doesn't turn up any responses. A Google search for the term leads to articles regarding the physics of light and energy, but nothing about the term "light energy".

3 Wheatgrass juice is a crude chlorophyll and can be taken orally and as a colon implant without toxic side effects.

So the good news is that it's not poisonous. You can even stick it up your bum if you like. This doesn't mean it will do anything good for you, but it won't do anything bad.

4 Chlorophyll is the basis of all plant life.

This is absolutely true. Unfortunately, I am not a plant.

5 Wheatgrass is high in oxygen like all green plants that contain chlorophyll. The brain and all body tissues function at an optimal level in a highly-oxygenated environment.

Fortunately, we have lungs to provide our brain and body tissues with oxygen. If you think you may not be getting enough oxygen, you can always buy yourself a can. Try doing some Calculus after, I'll be interested to hear how that goes for you.

Atheists Believe In You

One of the more popular positions to take lately is embodied by author Chris Hedges in his book "I Don't Believe In Atheists".

A defense of faith, the book claims that radical atheists are just as much a threat as fundamentalists. I'll ignore that he continues to misuse the word fundamentalist (there are no atheist fundamentals, so how can you be a fundamentalist?), and instead concentrate on his argument.

His claim is that the New Atheists (specifically Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris) are just as bigoted as the religions they attack. Additionally, and this is where his claims get a bit strange, he seems to say that claiming religions have impeded moral progress means that there must be moral progress. He does not believe there is moral progress, as the existence of this progress would indicate a move towards a final point of total morality- a utopia. Utopian mindsets, he says, are dangerous.

First points first, he charges the New Atheists with encouraging violence against religion and trying to snuff it out entirely. In fact, only one of the mentioned authors could be interpreted to have said that and it would take a healthy dose of self-convincing to do so. Sam Harris does indicate several times in his book that our supposed "War On Terror" is really a "War On Islam", but it's not politically advantageous to say so and so we call it a War On Terror.

That certainly seems damning, but when I first heard him say that I never once thought he was encouraging anyone to hunt down Muslims. Perhaps he would have been better served to say that it's actually a war on the stubborn and violent refusal of the majority population of Muslim-dominated countries to accept and adapt to modern day society, but Sam Harris is a man who values brevity. You can see this in his "Letter To A Christian Nation".

Hedges has experience with Muslim countries, and he says that the way they're addressed in Harris's books is simply racist. Fair enough, but Hedges provides little evidence to vanquish Harris's evidence. Harris quotes dozens of surveys taken in major Muslim countries regarding the use of violence for religious purposes. The percentage of those who find it acceptable is shocking. Simply labeling those statistics as racist does not make them untrue. You must either show contradictory evidence, or show that the procedure through which the "racist" evidence was obtained was flawed. It's not racist to think that a black guy stole a car or a white guy embezzled from his company if they actually did those things. The statistics seem to indicate that the parties perceived as violent actually are violent.

To move on to the point that there has been no moral progress. That's going to be a difficult point to make. His evidence for this is that the greatest slaughters have occurred in the 20th century in both Hitler and Stalin's regimes. That is certainly true, but allow me to draw an analogy. In the past hundred years, humans have done more to pollute the planet than in the entire history of humanity previously. Does that mean, then, that there has been no environmental progress, that we have completely failed to utilize our resources with greater efficiency?

Of course not. Think back to the near death of the buffalo in America, with people shooting them for fun and leaving the carcasses behind completely unused. With that mindset and the tools of today, it would be trivial to drive entire species extinct in the span of a month. The same goes for those regimes- not that they were signs that morality hasn't progressed, but that the tools we currently have are so much more effective at what they do that previous eras could not hope to compete. Rest assured, if Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan had access to automatic weapons and gas chambers, their death tolls would have been much, much higher.

I would counter his argument by pointing out that there were only two of those slaughters, when a slaughter of that magnitude is so easily accessible to anyone with power, is proof that there is moral progress in our international society.

Similarly, his conclusion that moral progress necessitates a final Utopian point is false. Consider the mathematical example of an asymptote. An asymptote is a line on a graph that forever reaches toward a number, but never reaches it. An easier way to think about it would be to divide ten by two again and again and again. You understand that you're getting closer to zero, but you will never get there. That is progress without end.

Or, to put it more concisely by paraphrasing author and all-around awesome guy Warren Ellis:
"The world can be neither perfect nor doomed. But it can be better."

Most of these authors agree that religion isn't going anywhere. Christopher Hitchens has been quoted repeatedly saying religion will never die, "or at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other." The goal of the so-called "New Atheists" isn't to banish religion to the shadows of human history, though many may believe the world would be better for the change were that goal plausible.

No, the goal is to put religion on the same footing as political beliefs. It must not be above criticism or reprisal, and it must not carry any authority simply by virtue of its self-importance. The goal is to get closer to zero. We understand we will never reach it.

There is some humor to be found in this. All of this arguing back and forth really has nothing to do with the truth of the matter. The argument is whether or not atheism or religion is healthier for society. Which one is actually the truth never enters into it.

Because it matters.

A few months ago I went to dinner with my mom and grandfather. My grandpa is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer's, so having a conversation with him becomes more difficult as time passes. He can't even remember which entrée he wanted to order, much less follow a complicated subject. As a result, that evening's conversation was limited to my mother and I.

Clinton and Obama were, of course, still going at it then. Naturally, the subject came up. That progressed to other topics, like the Supreme Court, and eventually brought me to a rant about religion's influence on our supposedly secular society. Being me, of course, I progressed into a bit of a rant about religion itself. This prompted my mom to say to me, "You're so obsessed with this stuff."

I really didn't know what to say.

Religions claim to know a universal truth about all of reality. If ANY religion is right, we instantly know what is right, what is wrong, and everything else we need to know about life, love, morality and reality. Their claims are the most important claims that can possibly be made, and they have absolutely no justification for making them. The tragedy is that people still listen to them.

Yes, I am obsessed with this stuff. It matters. I want to know the truth about reality. I want to hear every single claim every religion makes and see if there is even the slightest kernel of truth to be found. Because it matters.

The only thing that is more mind-boggling than the prospect that any given religion might be right, and that there may be a single or many gods who are so far beyond our understanding that they created our universe, is the prospect that they are all wrong and that there is no god.

That raises so many questions. Science does its best to explain as much as possible, but we will never truly reach a complete understanding of everything in our universe. Never. The only thing we can do is try.

You are damn right I'm obsessed with this stuff. I don't understand how anyone couldn't be. What happened that made the truth of everything in the universe seem trivial? If this doesn't matter, what does?