Category Archives: Atheism

Sarah Palin’s Dangerous Anti-Atheist Rhetoric

Well, it seems we have more dangerous (and childish) rhetoric coming from the washed-up never-has-been half-governor who only pops up just enough to promote her books and speaking appearances. Last week, she told the Christian Broadcasting Network, “All these Joe McScrooges are running around armed with an attorney and ruining not just Christmas but threatening our American way of life. These McScrooges are dangerous and must be stopped.”

She keeps ramping up this “us vs. them” propaganda, eventually it’s going to turn to violence against atheists. Her followers are a bunch of semi-literate, violent Bible-thumpers and it’s only a matter of time, I think, before statements like these incite some of them to commit acts of violence. You can only refer to someone as the enemy who is going to destroy America before some of these self-described “patriots” take it upon themselves to “defend” America from what they consider to be dangerous traitors.

So, way to go, Palin. In order to keep yourself in the public eye and out of your desire for fame and money, you have potentially put innocent people in danger. I don’t know how you sleep at night.

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Internet Atheism: Why Religion May Not Only Continue to Thrive but May Also Fight Back and Grow

Recently I got into a discussion on Facebook regarding a video made by the internet personality known as “TheAmazingAtheist.”

amazingatheistLet me preface all of this by saying that everything I say here is merely my opinion of the situation as it is. It is not, for lack of a better phrase, “gospel truth.” So please take what I say as nothing more than my personal opinion. Some of you will agree; some of you will disagree. Let’s see if we can do the latter in a respectful manner.

Now, personally, I do not agree with “The Amazing Atheist” or his style. I’m annoyed by him and his videos. To me he’s insulting, overly-opinionated, rude, and has a voice that makes me want to kick puppies. (Just kidding, dog lovers.) But he does indeed have an internet following and, hey, to each their own. Kudos to him, I guess, for doing something that so many people love. He’s made himself “internet famous.”

But there’s more to this than internet fame or popularity.  Is there not? What is our primary goal as atheists? Is it to  just make fun of religion or is it to one day see the complete and total end of religion, and all of mankind living in rationality and logic? Or is that just a pipe dream that we pay lip service to to make ourselves feel better? Kind of like Christians and their view of Heaven. Is the purely secular atheist utopia that so many of us dream about nothing more than that, a dream? Is it our personal Nirvana that we look forward to but it’s nothing more than a myth or a fairy tale told to children at night in hopes that they sleep well without nightmares of angry gods raining down fire and brimstone on a wicked world?

To me, when I think of atheists today I see most of us summed up in one of the Big Three: Hitchens, Dawkins, or Harris. Christopher Hitchens was more straightforward and very brash. He didn’t exactly hold back. Sam Harris, my personal favorite, is more laid-back and he lays out facts very succinctly and relaxed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get rattled, raise his voice, or call people names. And in-between the two is Richard Dawkins, in my opinion. He is very logical and rational but also a tad bit arrogant and condescending. All three have done amazing things for atheism and logic in the world. And despite their faults they should all be commended.

Here’s where the problem arises, though. Most internet atheists want to be like Hitchens. He was more up in your face and, well, harsh. That does have its place and time, but I think so many atheists try to emulate him which causes a kind of overload of self-righteous, overly-opinionated blowhards. It kind of tips the scales.

But then you have Harris who does as much if not more than Hitchens did, and his style is more laid-back, unemotional, facts in your face.

Basically what I mean is there’s a time and a place for a Hitchens-mentality. Unfortunately it seems most atheists would rather be a Hitchens than a Harris. They’d rather scream “Fuck religion; it’s stupid!” at the top of their lungs and let the chips fall where they may, rather than calmly explain “Religion is below the mental capability of mankind and here’s why I oppose it and why it’s dangerous to humanity.”

Trust me, I understand all too well. I’m fed up with religion also. But there is such a word as “tact” which unfortunately atheists too often completely forfeit. It’s like we champion how logical and rational we are, but then all too often let emotions take over and start cussing at and talking down to a lot of theists. I’ve been guilty of it more times than I can count. So I’m not saying I’m better than anyone. It’s just there’s a time and a place for a Hitchens or Dawkins-type mentality. And there’s a time for a Harris or Randi-type mentality, and I think that one should be the more prevalent one. Unfortunately, most we see of atheists is on the internet, and the internet provides a filter for people of all walks of life. So you tend to get a lot of people on the internet who quickly lose sight of the fact that the people they are talking to are just that; people.

Now I’m not saying that The Amazing Atheist is trying to be like Hitchens. I’m saying that he reminds me a lot of Hitchens as does many internet atheists, especially ones who make videos. It’s overwhelming and that’s why atheism gets a bad rap.

I mean, for real, look at how Sam Harris conducts himself. I hope one day I can achieve that level of self-control in the face of stupidity. That’s why they are now trying to smear and slander him as an “Islamophobe.” Because there’s nothing else they can say about him.

Of course the stupidity of religion hurts; it’s gonna hurt for a long time. But we should strive to be more rational, less emotional, and more straightforward with just the facts, no matter how many times we have to repeat the same evidence or debunk the same silly arguments. And I’m not saying we have to be “tolerant.” Gawd, no. Tolerant of an archaic and bigoted Bronze-age superstition? In no way am I promoting that. But we can fight these systems in a more reasonable manner.

Indeed, there is the potential for alienation. We all go through a pissed off phase when dealing with theists. That’s natural. But the pissed-off phase doesn’t have to end. We just need to amend our methods. I mean what is our ultimate purpose? To merely oppose religion or to try and educate religious people so that they just may wake up out of the delusion? The reason I ask is because merely opposing it will not cause it to lessen and eventually come to an end; education will. Opposing it in a brash and argumentative and insulting manner will stroke the ego of the atheist, but nothing more will be accomplished. And this is why I don’t really like “TheAmazingAtheist.” He seems to be in it for the popularity and the ego stroke. I mean his internet handle alone, to me, clarifies that. The Amazing Atheist? He sounds like a magician or something. And he’s not all that amazing in my opinion. I mean seriously it makes him sound like an arrogant ass proclaiming himself to be “amazing.” Why? For making YouTube videos? How many people has he led out of religion personally?

What it all boils down to is the motivation of each individual. I think, and again we’re just going by my personal opinion, that if you only want to put religion down and illustrate how stupid it is (to atheists) then, yeah, the Astonishing Atheist is the way to go. But if you want to seriously wake people up and attempt to rationally put an end to religion, then it’s not the way to go.

Or think of it this way. What if it was a loved one you were trying to wake up? What if it were your mother or brother or spouse/potential spouse? Would you insult them and their beliefs or would you try to educate them on all that is wrong with religion from human rights abuses to the silly and harmful superstitions found within them?

Let me leave you with a quick story, and I’m sorry this turned out so long. Here’s a perfect example of what I mean about rationalizing someone out of religion: Me. I was a theist for 10 years. I became really good friends in real life with an extremely smart atheist. I mean logic, science, politics, etc etc. He knew it all. We became friends because of shared political views. One day we had the obligatory religion vs. atheism discussion. And I’d seen him on the internet before many times tearing down theists. I didn’t care because they were also Conservative theists and I disagreed with all of their views. Yes, on the internet he’s one of those “Amazing Atheists.” But when we had the discussion he wasn’t rude or brash or insulting. He brought up his points and countered my arguments with respect and logic. He pointed out when I’d make a logical fallacy and he’d carefully explain the faults with my arguments. When all was said and done no one’s mind had changed. I was still a theist. And we never discussed it again. After a couple months of thinking about the things he said and doing some research and observing some religion vs. atheism debates on the internet, I realized everything he said made absolute sense and I became an atheist. This was almost 3 years ago.

Had he insulted me and talked down to me and made me feel like an idiot for believing these things I probably would have rebelled against it and buckled down in my faith and sought out more and more counter arguments. He and I probably would have stopped being friends also. And that’s the point that so many internet atheists seem to miss out on. We can openly oppose and refute religion, but we don’t have to be insulting and condescending in order to do so. Religion will die off that much quicker if we remain rational and present the facts and leave the insults and condescension out of it.

As a final word, my main reason for opposing religion isn’t just because it’s dangerous and harms humanity for more than it helps it. Sure, it’s all of that and then some, but my main reason for opposing religion is my daughter. I do not want to see her grow up and get sucked into an archaic belief system that teaches her that she is less than someone all because of her gender. In order to do that, though, I’ve gotta be able to lay out the relevant facts of the argument, and not just resort to petty things like insults and name-calling.

If we do that I believe we’ll see a higher success rate of “devangelizing” theists than one would see from an internet atheist making a video mocking a YouTube video a Christian made of himself reciting a poem he wrote about Jesus.

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Why Do Some Atheists Believe in Ghosts?

I know the only requirement for atheism, by definition, is lack of a belief in any deities, but I’ll never understand why some atheists believe in things like ghosts.

If ghosts are real then that means that souls are real. If souls and ghosts are real then that has to mean that there is some sort of afterlife. If an afterlife is real then how can you say that a god is not? If there is no god then how is there an afterlife? What is the purpose of it? How did it come into being? I’m sorry but one’s atheism logically tends to falter and fall apart when a belief in ghosts is introduced.

Furthermore, what is a “ghost”? Is it a soul? Is it just energy? If it’s just “energy” then how come so many ghost believers say that ghosts have interacted with them? If your consciousness is gone and all you leave behind is an unintelligent, residual energy then how does it interact with people? How does it knock things over? How does it talk to people? How does it touch people? How does a “ghost” only being left over energy account for what they call “intelligent hauntings”?

Every argument that I’ve ever seen from a handful of atheists who believe in ghosts sound just like the arguments that theists use for justifying their belief in god. Substitute “god” for “ghost” and the arguments would be completely interchangeable.

Belief in the supernatural, any supernatural element, follows the same basic blueprint.

ghost

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Shame on you militant, angry, and hateful atheists!

It really pisses me off  when we post something that mocks religion or maybe uses an “offensive” word towards religion or religious people we get accused of being “militant, angry or hateful.” And what’s worse is when some atheists throw those accusations around.

I acknowledge and accept that not all atheists are anti-theists also. But if that’s not your cup of tea, move on. Why sit here and do the religious people’s work by attacking and trying to divide atheists? I mean seriously. Theists sit back and laugh when they see this stuff. It makes us look so divided. And if we’re divided then we’ll never truly accomplish anything on a larger scale, because there’ll always be some “House Atheist” to sit there and kowtow to theists and say how people like us are “bad atheists” and that we “don’t reflect the views of good atheists.”

Am I militant? Maybe. What do you mean by militant? And why is that a bad thing?

Am I angry? Sometimes. How can I not be angry at an ideology that is used to justify and promote homophobia, sexism, racism, and violence? Again, why is that a bad thing?

Am I hateful? Not really. I’m only hateful to ideologies (religious and secular) that justify and promote homophobia, sexism, racism, and violence. If there were a movement within atheism that did these things I’d openly oppose it also. So, again, why is this a bad thing?

You think coming on the internet and labeling other atheists as these things is an insult? It’s not an insult at all. And a lot of times these descriptions just aren’t true.

Opposing an oppressive, bigoted and violent ideology is not hate. Not tolerating intolerance is not intolerance itself.

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Muslims, Breasts, and Disasters, oh my!

amina

Recently, this article came to my attention (http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2013/03/21/4-april-2013-international-day-to-defend-amina-she-represents-us/) about a woman from Tunisia named Amina. She posted a picture of herself online baring her naked breasts with Arabic text written on her that says, “[M]y body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honor.”

Clearly that message was lost on the Muslims. Maybe they don’t read Arabic? Anyhow, as the above article states, “Islamist cleric Adel Almi, president of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah, has called for Amina’s flogging and stoning to death saying Amina’s actions will bring misfortune by causing “epidemics and disasters” and “could be contagious and give ideas to other women…”

Yeah. She may give ideas to other women. Watch out! Other Muslim women in the Middle East may start to realize that their bodies are their own and not owned by some man. But epidemics and disasters? What?! Her breasts are gonna cause a typhoon, earthquake, or hurricane? *eyeroll*

Newsflash, Muslim world: They are called “natural disasters” for a reason. Because they are natural! Therefore, there’s no supernatural cause for them. They happen as a result of nature. A woman baring her breasts, two women kissing, two men adopting a child, or a teenager eating a bacon sandwich after getting a tattoo while listening to a Marilyn Manson CD is not gonna cause a natural disaster. I promise!

I tell ya, for a bunch of people who claim that their religious text is full of science, they sure are ignorant of science. Naked breasts don’t cause hurricanes. But let me guess, we can’t prove that they don’t, huh? LOL

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The Problem of Religion in Politics

churchandstate

The problem with religion in politics is this: You have pastors nationwide preaching things from the pulpit that aren’t necessarily true about politics. And they have congregations who blindly eat up anything they say. They accept what they say as “gospel truth” no matter what. Rarely do they look up the things they are told. They trust their pastors. So if their Pastors say, during the reign of Emperor George II, that the war in Iraq was caused by the god of the Bible to get the Gospel into that area (like was said by a former Pastor of mine to us one morning), or if some Right-wing nutcase Pastor says that Obamacare is going to exterminate the elderly (http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/klingenschmitt-obamacare-will-exterminate-elderly-systematically), they blindly accept it!

This is dangerous! That’s why the Founding Fathers created America to be a secular Republic and not a Christian theocracy. They had just fled a country, England, that had a state-sponsored religion. This is why they promoted a Separation of Church and State, a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter in 1802. This is why the US Senate ratified the Treaty of Tripoli which states “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” unanimously in 1797. This is why there is no mention of God, Jesus, Christianity, or the Bible in the Constitution. This is why we have a secular Constitution and not merely the Bible as our Constitution.

They founded America as a place where people can have the freedom to practice religion or not practice it. But that’s also why it was intended by them for religion to be separate from government. Religion was to be a private matter.

This is why “under god” was not included in the original pledge of allegiance. This is why “In god we trust” was not originally on our curency. This is why “In god we trust” was not our original national motto; it was “E. pluribus unum (out of many, one).” The original intent for this country was a melting pot, a unified plurality. Not a Christian theocracy.

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Is agnosticism “atheism lite”?

This question was posed on a friend’s page on Facebook this morning. My response to the question, “Is agnosticism ‘atheism lite’?” is this:

Most atheists also claim to be agnostic meaning they don’t know if there is a god or not. No one knows for certain if there is a god or not, including the most devout Christian (or any religious group) despite how much they will lie and claim that they know their god is real.

Everyone, atheist or theist, is agnostic. The thing is, though, the atheist goes one step further and takes the definitive stance that, based on the lack of evidence and the improbability of the existence of any deities, we do not believe in any of the thousands of deities that mankind has worshipped over the course of time. The problem is some people, of both atheist and theist persuasion, have falsely defined atheism as “Knowing there are no gods that exist.”

So, when someone claims to be just an agnostic, they are basically sitting on the fence and refusing to really take a position on whether they believe in a deity or not. Saying you are agnostic really means nothing. When someone tells me they are an agnostic, the follow-up question should always be, “But do you believe any gods exist?” If no, then you are an agnostic atheist. If yes, then you are an agnostic theist.

What I think a lot of self-described agnostics are trying to do is take a position where they feel superior to both groups. I’ve seen it a lot. Agnostics who show up on an internet site talking about, “I’m an agnostic but I think hardcore atheists are just as bad as hardcore Christians.” or some variation thereof.

So, to answer the original question, no, agnosticism is not “atheism lite.”

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