LabRat from the Atomic Nerds put up this post. Apparently a blog called Loving Christ With Your Mind “asked” 15 questions to atheists about why they were atheists in light of these questions. Most of these questions were either a form of logical fallacy or based on a logical fallacy. I mailed the article to my brother (aka The Brother / NetThrall) and expected to answer the list next week. (I really needed the weekend off). Fortunately, The Brother sent me his answers. The Brother and I have very similar views on most of these questions. On those we don’t, I’ve included my comments. Continue reading
Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — *”No, you move.”*
I first read this quote and felt inspired. When writing about topics that are not popular with large segments of the population, sometimes it feels like I’m standing alone against a wave of ignorance. Of course, every other person fighting for their beliefs are doing the same thing. To them, they are also fighting against those dark forces of ignorance and malevolence. So, it’s up to me to make damn sure that my armor of ideals have been tempered in the cauldron of research and introspection.
Listening to the political panelists and I’m really thinking of taking a tally of current election memes. Like “this is the most important election in our lifetime,” “my parent/grandparent came to America for a better life”, and all of the religious appeals. All of which works fine for many of the attendees.
The problem is those approaches do more than just not work for me, they repulse me. Using those means that you are trying to make an emotional appeal rather than a logical one.
(The Doctrine of Original Sin) declares that (man) ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge – he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil – he became a moral being/ He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor – he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire – he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which (the preachers) damn him are reason, morality, creativeness joy – all the cardinal values of his existence.Ayn Rand, author and creator of the Objectivism philosophy Ayn Rand’s *Atlas Shrugged* was one of the guiding works in my becoming an atheist. One of the big parts that led me to reject my Christian faith was the idea of Original Sin. Why in this instance would I as an individual, accept guilt, shame, and blame for an act I didn’t commit? Why is the gaining of knowledge a sin? This was one part in a series of philosophical quandaries that led me to conclude that religion is a lie perpetrated on men by men for the purposes of control – either out of benevolent or malfeasance. For the record, I am not a devout follower of Rand. I think her eschewing of charity is wrong, for example. Still, I will give her and her works credit for helping me shape my beliefs and giving voice to the doubts that were running through my head.
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, noted atheist and skeptic
BONUS DOUBLE QUOTE PRIZE!
“A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes.”
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
Stephen F. Roberts
As an atheist, when I look at the myths that surround the current “popular” religions, I see many of the same themes that populated the “myths” of extinct religions. We shouldn’t kill (with exemptions), don’t steal (with exemptions), don’t lie (with exemptions), be kind to others (with exemptions). To use the old phrase, “the devil is in the details”. Each religious system believes that their deity or deities told them what the exceptions, be it kill only in self-defense or that it’s okay to lie and steal from heretics. I have to reconcile the pillars of my belief system when they clash, such as killing in self-defense or defense of others.
Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color
I don’t know if this is an original quote from Penn, or just a pithy comment for atheists. Either way, I liked it when I heard Penn say it on his latest Sunday School podcast. Atheism is not a different kind of faith, but is the absence of faith. Faith is believing that the universe works because that’s the way a deity or deities decided. Atheism says the universe works because of specified principles that we can prove through experimentation. Faith says that the future can be divined through cryptic prophecies that are often retrofitted after the events occur. Science actually predicts the existence of phenomena from the sub-atomic to the galactic in size and scope.
Like many atheists, I do not deny that there may be a God(s). I don’t know if there is a deity or not. All I know is that I don’t have any good, reliable, repeatable evidence for the existence of a deity. And that is one of the reasons that I am an atheist.
“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
Thomas Paine American Founding Father and author of the Revolutionary-era pamphlet Common Sense.
Common sense tells us to pick our battles. There is little point in arguing with zealots because they are unfazed by the use of logical arguments. It is highly unlikely that anything said will make them stop and re-evaluate their beliefs. FSM knows I used to be like that when I was gripped in the throes of the conservative political dogma.
The only time I know to engage the zealot is when there is a third-party that can be swayed. In one of the great scenes from the movie Thank You For Smoking, the protagonist, Nick is explaining his job as a lobbyist to his son, Joey.
Nick: Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate and I'm defending vanilla. Now, if I were to say to you, "Vanilla's the best flavor ice cream", you'd say …? Joey: "No, chocolate is." Nick: Exactly. But you can't win that argument. So, I'll ask you: So you think chocolate is the end-all and be-all of ice cream, do you? Joey: It's the best ice cream; I wouldn't order any other. Nick: Oh. So it's all chocolate for you, is it? Joey: Yes, chocolate is all I need. Nick: Well, I need more than chocolate. And for that matter, I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom and choice when it comes to our ice cream, and that, Joey Naylor, that is the definition of liberty. Joey: But that's not what we're talking about. Nick: Ah, but that's what I'm talking about. Joey: But … you didn't prove that vanilla's the best. Nick: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right. Joey: But you still didn't convince me. Nick: Because I'm not after you. I'm after them. (Pointing to by-standers)
We’re not trying to convince the zealots, we’re trying to convince them. The by-standers that will listen to reasoned arguments against the rhetoric. Those who can be swayed.
For me, today is the best part of Easter.
“Wait,” you say, “Easter was yesterday.” Yep. And now, all the leftover candy is on sale. I do loves me the candy.