Category Archives: RELIGION

Atheist Meme of the Day: Disagreement is not intolarance


Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheists often get called disrespectful, intolerant, or extremist for saying things like, “I don’t agree with you,” “There are flaws in your argument,” or, “What evidence do you have to support that?” If it’s not intolerant to say these things about politics, science, art, or any other topic, why should religion get special respect?

Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists know what atheism is better than believers


Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

It makes no sense for religious believers to insist that they know what atheism means better than atheists do. If you’re saying “Atheism means X,” and every atheist you talk to says, “No, that isn’t what it means at all,” perhaps you ought to listen to what we’re saying instead of to your own preconceptions.

Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Worthy of worship?

wrath of godJen from BlagHag.com posed a really good question today on her blog:

If you knew God was real, would you actually worship him?

It’s an interesting question, though not exactly a fair one. A fair question would be, “Is there anything that could convince you (a) (G)od was real?” I could unequivocally answer that with a “yes, of course.” I’m a skeptic, not a bull-headed cynic. But as for worship this deity? Oh so many equivocations!

The real question is: What version of God are we talking about? Are we talking about Morgan Freeman God from Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty? Because that version of God seems almost worship-able. Though, ironically, that version of God seems like someone who doesn’t really need people to worship him, and would most certainly not send people to eternal torment for the crime of not worshiping him.

The more someone does not demand and require you to love and adore them on threat of pain and punishment, the more worthy they are of being loved and adored.

Continue reading Worthy of worship?

Atheist Meme of the Day: Consciousness does not imply the supernatural


Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

We are only beginning to understand consciousness. But an overwhelming body of evidence strongly suggests that, whatever it is, it’s a biological product of the brain, with no supernatural component, and no way of surviving death. We therefore should make the most of life while we’re alive.
Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Sermon on the Mount: Bad sermon from a very human source

Sermon on the MountThe Iron Chariots Wiki is a fantastic collection of knowledge, info, facts, resources that serve as a “counter-apologetics.”

According to the site:

Iron Chariots is intended to provide information on apologetics and counter-apologetics. We’ll be collecting common arguments and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade as “evidence” for religious claims.

The complexity of issues surrounding religion ensures that any proper assessment requires us to delve into a number of philosophical, historical and sociological topics…

They got the name for their site from this verse:

“And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron – Judges 1:19″

(Kinda makes you wonder, eh?)

Anyway, I came across this comprehensive analysis of the Sermon on the Mount. As a Christian, like most Christians, I had always thought of it as the greatest example of divine wisdom possible. And, like most Christians, I never really gave it much more thought than that. Since losing my religion, I’ve done more Biblical study than I ever did as a believer, but this part of the NT has escaped my attention up to now.

This Iron Chariots investigation really makes a person question how anyone could really hold the Sermon up as an example of inspired wisdom, much less divine. At least, anyone who’s really read it. The Wiki uncovers a mess of contradictions and bad advice just from a superficial reading — and they don’t stop at just a superficial reading.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists see life as having meaning

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheists do see life as having meaning. We simply see that meaning as something we create for ourselves — not something handed to us by an invisible god who supposedly created us.

Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

6 (Unlikely) Developments That Could Convince This Atheist That God Exists

This is amusing: Earlier today I posted a short blog called “Getting Your Attention” in which I mention John Loftus’ observation that it looks like only believers are really interested in converting people and not any omnipotent or omniscient deity, and a quip from another on what would convince him God exists… I just discover that Greta Christina, (the writer and blogger who I take my Atheist Meme of the Days from), has a new essay: “6 (Unlikely) Developments That Could Convince This Atheist To Believe in God

It’s also amusing that in the fantastic article she mentions how when asked what would convince her, she used to cheat and just refer to “The Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists“, by Daylight Atheism blogger Ebonmuse — I’m likely to do the same and just point to Greta’s essay. 🙂

Spoiler alert: here’s part of her final summary of her list of developments:

Now, some believers will probably argue that my standards set the bar too high. They’ll argue that I’ve created standards of evidence that are obviously not being met: that I’ve created a counter-factual world in which God might exist, but that clearly is not the world we live in.

To which I reply: Yes. That’s my whole freaking point. The whole reason I don’t believe in God is that there is not one scrap of good, solid evidence supporting the God hypothesis. The whole reason I don’t believe in God is that every piece of evidence anyone has ever shown me in support of the God hypothesis has completely sucked. The whole reason I don’t believe in God is that these criteria — criteria that would be completely reasonable for any other hypothesis — are not being met.

As many atheists point out: If God were real, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If God were real, it would be freaking obvious. If God were real, nobody would be an atheist. Nobody would even disagree about religion. The most obvious explanation for God’s existence not being ridiculously self-evident is that God does not exist. As Julia Sweeney says in her brilliant performance piece Letting Go of God, “The world behaves exactly as you expect it would, if there were no Supreme Being, no Supreme Consciousness, and no supernatural.”

Getting Your Attention

John W. Loftus has a brief post in his continuing series “Reality Check: What Must Be The Case If Christianity is True,” about God getting your attention. He makes a very good point in revealing that there is no objective evidence that an omnipotent and omniscient deity is trying to get the whole world’s attention, despite scriptural claims that he’s quite capable of doing so. In actuality, the fact that his believers are doing all the work of getting peoples’ attention, and not doing that great of a job at it either, is rather telling in regards to if not the existence of said deity — then at least his actual interest level in the whole endeavor.

It reminds me of Matt Delehany (sp) of the Austin TV/Internet show “The Atheist Experience” who often responds to the question by believers “What would it take to convince you God exists,” with something like “If there is an omniscient god, he knows exactly what it would take to convince me, even better than I know myself.”

Atheist Meme of the Day: The right to beliefs =/= the right to not be criticized

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

People have a right to our beliefs. But we do not have the right to have our beliefs never be questioned, criticized, or made fun of. And that includes religion. Religion is a hypothesis about the world — and if you think it’s valid to question, criticize, or make fun of other hypotheses, you shouldn’t expect religion to get special respect.
Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Religion has no right to special respect.

(A two-fer today as they’re related…)
Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Religion has no right to special respect. It is entirely fair to criticize religion, question it, point out its flaws, ask it to support itself with evidence, and mock it when it’s being ridiculous — just like we do with political opinions, scientific positions, artistic expressions, and any other ideas being expressed in the public forum.

Atheists often get accused of intolerance and disrespect for saying things like, “I don’t agree with you,” “I think you’re mistaken,” “What evidence do you have to support that?”, “I think your reasoning is flawed, and here’s why.” Criticizing ideas is not the same as attacking people — and religious ideas are no exception.

Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Unlikely /= designed

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

“Life and the Universe are extraordinarily unlikely” is a terrible argument for God. Lots of wildly unlikely things happen that are not intentionally caused or designed. If you roll a die ten times and get 3241154645, the odds against that particular sequence are over 60 million to one. Does that mean this sequence was designed to come up?

Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: The unexplained /= evidence for God

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

“We don’t understand everything about the universe” is a terrible argument for God. Of course there is much about the universe that’s unexplained. How does that imply that any one explanation — whether that’s space aliens, a flying spaghetti monster, or God — is the right one?

Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

“Christianity is a Cultural By-Byproduct”

John Loftus, (former evangelical preacher and theology student who’d studied under the reknown Christian apologist William Lane Craig), author of the thought-provoking book, Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, (and edited the recent collection of essays, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails), has an interesting blog post today:

“Christianity is a Cultural By-Product and That’s All it Is”

“… I say this evolutionary development looks entirely like the human quest for knowledge–that it doesn’t look as if there is any divine mind behind this human quest. If Christians had faith in any particular era of the past they would believe what they did and that God led them to their beliefs. In this era they say what they do because they live in this era. And although they would reject the theologies and moralities of the past they still think there is a divine mind behind this quest.
[…]
Christian, you believe what you do now. But it is patently obvious that what you believe now is not what the earliest Christianities did, nor the what the Medievals did, nor what the early moderns did, and it won’t be what future Christianities will believe either. You say there is continuity but we must ask if earlier Christianities would embrace you or excommunicate and kill you for what you believe, and we know the answer to that. …”

Leviticans

Hmm, not just repost day, but apparently it’s religion day as well here at CelticBear.

Here’s a fantastic post by wonderful SF author (and orciest of all orcs) John Scalzi.
Certainly it should be read by other non-theist humanists, but I think it must be read by Christians! (Note to the latter, afeared of its message: it’s ultimately Christian-positive.)

“In my opinion, the best thing Christians can do is recognize this group within their host — one that reads the same book, purports to follow the same teachings and alleges to worship the same Christ, but through its actions proves itself time and again to be something other than Christian. And I think Christians should ask these people: Who are you?”

“Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws?”

Continuing my theme of simply reposting others’ blogs: “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait has an entertaining recent post: “Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws?”

I’ve blogged on the topic a few times, including: “Religious Government Possible? No, and…Yes!”, and specifically on the different versions of the (not actually ten) Ten Coomsndments found in the one Bible, in “Amending the Commandments”.

But Phil’s article is much better written and entertaining. 🙂

Why did God create atheists?

Greta Christina is the source if my “Atheist Meme of the Day” posts, and today she has an article: “Why Did God Create Atheists? — If God is real, and religious believers can perceive him… why is anyone an atheist?”

There’s really not a thing in this article I don’t agree with!

… “I want to understand the world. I care about reality, more than I care about just about anything. If there really is a God who created everything, who guided the universe and the process of evolution so conscious life could come into being, who animates all life with his spirit — I bloody well want to know about it. I don’t want to be flatly wrong about one of the hugest questions humanity is faced with. In my years as an atheist writer, I keep asking believers again and again, ‘Do you have some evidence for your belief? If you do, please tell me about it. I want to see it.’ And I’m not being snarky, or baiting them into a debate I know they can’t win. (Well… not mostly.) If I’m wrong about this, I sincerely want to know.” …

Atheist Meme of the Day: Religion is not just personal opinion

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Religion is not a subjective personal opinion, like taste in music. Religion is a claim about cause and effect in the real, non-subjective world. And as such, it’s reasonable to expect it to be backed up with solid arguments and evidence.
Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: The difference between proof and plausibility

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Very few claims can be proven or disproven with 100% certainty. But we can still assess whether those claims are more or less likely to be true. And that includes religion. Atheism doesn’t mean 100% certainty that there is no God: it’s the conclusion that the God hypothesis is not plausible.
Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Killing the Buddha: what practical application can we derive from non-religious Buddhism

I’d been aware of Buddhism as seperable as a philosophy and a religion since I started researching religions as a teen, but at that time it didn’t really matter to me.

Skip forward about fifteen or so years, and during my long deconversion from Christianity I took a long, hard look at Buddhism as a possibility for something I could hang my epistemological hat on. I quickly rejected the religious elements of Buddhism for some of the same reasons I was rejecting all religious ideas (extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence — which I was not finding), but the philosophical aspects really appealed to me as a foundation of personal ethics and self-improvement.

Part of the “Noble Truths” of Buddhism describe life as suffering. A misconception is that what that phrase implies is that we just accept this “truth” and live with it. Wrong! The goal of Buddhism is to know this, and then overcome it, transcend it. And the root of suffering is want, desire. Because our desire for things creates anxiety, leads us to think and act selfishly, harm ourselves and others, and create suffering. Likewise the loss of things we desire. The desire to hold other stuff lest we lose them, etc.

This all makes perfect sense; who can’t see the wisdom of it? It’s a concept I’ve held onto, and, even once I discarded Buddhism, primed me to accept the truths of Marxist criticisms of capitalist avarice, commodity fetishism, reification, and mystification.

But what aspects of Buddhism that soured me on truly latching onto it as a personal philosophy involved the idea that among the stuff we desire which leads to suffering is relationships. Well, that’s still true. Our love, lusts, attractions, devotions, feelings for other people, including family, do indeed create sufferings from jealousy, angst, strife, anger, lust, sadness, etc. In the aquiring relationships, holding on to them, and losing them. This is all true, too.

But, the true path of following the Buddhist Precepts encourages, if not demands, disattachment from these wants just as much as from material wants. I subsequently easily embraced the idea that the want for stuff is a manufactured “nature” a cultural logic instills in us, and leads to unneccessary suffering; but whether right or wrong, the idea of detachment from love, sex, familial bonds, personal relationships, is anethma to me. It’s the joys and even the pain of this part of being alive that I feel makes life worth living, and makes it wonderful! So, the idea of the desire of emotional, sexual, relationship, personal bonds and connections and experiences may be a cause of suffering, but life would be worse off without them.

To be fair, the majority of the Buddhist Tenets involve and put focus on perfectly admirable and desireable (hey!) goals: don’t kill anything, don’t steal, don’t lie or cheat, seek personal cleanliness and purity in deed, thought, and speech. I whole-heartedly support these Tenets.

Also, Buddhism has a flip-side to the goal of discarding want, like the yin and yang, and that’s to actually embrace all things equally. While one detatches themselves from want, you are to also embrace all. I’ll admit, I’d not totally groked this idea, and this may hold the key to my problems with accepting philosophical Buddhism. But that’s OK, because I’ve since discovered secular humanism, and it’s generally accepted (and non-dogmatic) precepts fit me like a glove!

Whew! Well, all that serves as introduction for my featuring an article: “Killing the Buddha” by Sam Harris. It’s a few years old, but he recently Tweeted about it, I just read it, and it’s great!

While it should absolutely be read in its entirity to appreciate the arguments and observations he makes, here is one of the main thematic threads I think is important:

“[The] spirit of empiricism animates Buddhism to a unique degree. For this reason, the methodology of Buddhism, if shorn of its religious encumbrances, could be one of our greatest resources as we struggle to develop our scientific understanding of human subjectivity.”

.

“Why is religion such a potent source of violence? There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments. Religion is the one endeavor in which us–them thinking achieves a transcendent significance.”

.

“Political correctness simply does not offer an enduring basis for human cooperation. If religious war is ever to become unthinkable for us, in the way that slavery and cannibalism seem poised to, it will be a matter of our having dispensed with the dogma of faith….
What the world most needs at this moment is a means of convincing human beings to embrace the whole of the species as their moral community. For this we need to develop an utterly nonsectarian way of talking about the full spectrum of human experience and human aspiration.”

.

“[…] there is much more for us to understand about how the mind can transform itself from a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion into an instrument of wisdom and compassion. Students of the Buddha are very well placed to further our understanding on this front, but the religion of Buddhism currently stands in their way.”

image taken from Leaky Penny: http://creativebits.org/creative_agency_logo