Atheism

It’s Christian Bashing Week!

Posted on May 2, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , |

How’s that headline? Do I have everybody’s attention now? Good. Because a headline like that should get your attention. Would anybody tolerate “Gay Bashing Week” or “Woman Bashing Week?” The very idea is ludicrous. Yet, Dinesh D’Souza can print an article entitled “Atheist Bashing Week” and hardly anybody bats an eyelash. There’s certainly not public outrage and condemnation for such blatant bigotry. He was just joking, you say? Even in all of our stunts, which are regularly criticized by atheists (often quite vehemently), we’ve only dared to tell people that their god doesn’t exist or encourage others to say so and post it to YouTube. Even the mind disorder controversy doesn’t encourage physical harm or even allude to it. If we haven’t had “Christian Bashing Week,” you can bet it’s because we find the notion repugnant, even in jest…(read more)

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How to Respond to a Supercilious Christian

Posted on February 13, 2008. Filed under: Atheism |

Not all Christians are supercilious, of course. Many are content to live and let live, and some even grant that science (despite its lack of supernatural entities) does some good. But Christianity as an organized, evangelizing movement has been on the offensive lately. Witness the new wave of evangelicals and their leaders such as Rick Warren, Lee Strobel, and William Lane Craig with their aggressive stance against scientific materialism and their bestselling books attempting to refute science. So, assuming you’re an atheist, what do you say to the theist who asks, “You don’t (chuckle) believe in a god (snicker)?”

Anybody familiar with the original article will see that the preceding paragraph is the same paragraph as the opening to “How to Respond to a Supercilious Atheist” by Alan Roebuck. By changing a few words, the same attack can be launched right back at him, and the rest of the article isn’t much better. It appears to be a primer in projection. After all, when in doubt, just accuse them of being just like you.

Roebuck advises his fellow theists to take a different approach to defending the faith-instead of coming up with actual evidence, you should just tell atheists how our worldview is the one that is based on assumptions and presuppositions. He eschews using the First Cause argument and the defense of miracles because, “No matter what evidence you give, the supercilious atheist finds a way to dismiss it.” I wonder if he has ever considered that it may be dismissed because it is not valid evidence.

The First Cause argument doesn’t work because, at best, it can only be used to show that something created the universe, and that something is not necessarily Yahweh. It could be another god or a multitude of gods. Even that is questionable, though, due to the fact that they have yet to show that the universe itself is contingent upon some necessary being and not the necessary “being” itself. I would also advise theists to drop this argument from their arsenal, but not in favor of Roebuck’s plan.

Roebuck states that, “it is not the case that your evidence for God is valid but nevertheless is cancelled out by his superior evidence against God.” Gee, Sherlock, where can I find this “evidence against God?” How about the absolute penury of evidence for god? Theists have not yet grasped the concept of the burden of proof, apparently. It’s really simple, so I find it astounding that it is so easily dismissed-the one who makes the positive claim (ie-god exists) is the one who has to prove that claim, not the person who is in the default position of suspension of belief due to lack of evidence (ie-as far as we know, god does not exist). As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, if you believe something without sufficient evidence, you are irrational.

Roebuck claims that atheism’s vulnerability lies in the “false worldview” that we hold that only material, objectively verifiable things exist. First of all, this is not true. Not all atheists are scientific materialists. There are many who believe lots of different wacky theories that don’t involve a god and there are others with other notions of how the universe operates. This argument is only applicable to a portion of atheists who also hold a materialistic worldview.

Roebuck then claims that scientific materialists assume this and have come to their conclusion before examining the evidence. (Is the projection evident yet?) The only evidence that exists is physical, material, verifiable, and falsifiable. The existence of god is none of the above. Any religious statement can be considered factually meaningless by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t meet the falsifiability criterion. The only assumptions being made here are that god exists and it’s up to atheists to disprove that. Obviously, Roebuck doesn’t understand that this is impossible, and that is the very reason why we can say that no evidence for such an entity exists…(read more)

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The Things That Keep Us Going in the Face of Adversity

Posted on February 13, 2008. Filed under: Atheism |

There is a quote from Dr. Albert Ellis in which I find some solace:”By not caring too much about what people think, I’m able to think for myself and propagate ideas which are very often unpopular. And I
succeed.” For some reason, it makes me feel less alone in this quest to expose religion for the fraudulent and dangerous idealogy that it is. The fact is, though, that without our community of people behind us, wewould never be able to continue doing this.

We’ve grown pretty thick skins over the past two years, but an endless stream of criticism and insults gets to you no matter who you are. In the end, our controversial approach has acheived exactly what
we intended and more. We’ve had a ton of publicity: We’ve been in periodicals, tv shows, respectable radio shows, and magazines. Our website is currently the number one atheist website in the world
according to Alexa, and has been number one in the US for quite some time. Of course, some of that traffic is people who hate us, but we have still managed to acheive more in the 2 years that we’ve been
around than others have in 20. Even if you disagree with our tactics, you can’t deny that we get people talking.

Now, I’m not trying to blow my own horn here, but just giving the readers some perspective. We aren’t perfect–we’re normal human beings who make mistakes and try to learn from them. Despite any of our successes or failures, it seems that no matter how hard we try to explain the “method behind the madness” to people, they just don’t get it. That’s why seeing this blog post today was refreshing and
exhilirating. It’s so rare that somebody, on their own, gets it.

So, here it is. This is from mindcore.blogspot.com, and he has a podcast at Podbean as well. I would like to publicly thank him for the warm, fuzzy feeling I’ve had all day as a result.

Quote:

My Public Endorsement of The Rational Response Squad

That’s right, there it is.

What is the Rational Response Squad, well in a nutshell they are a group of mostly young people (though age is no barrier) who set forth to promote rationality in our society. Sounds pretty harmless , that is until you figure out they consider the biggest irrationality out there to be religion.

I have religious friends, many of you read this blog. Look I have no hostility towards you, but I do believe that what we think should be justifiable with evidence. This tends to put me on the side of the fence that says okay so you believe in God, why? And then as you answer about personal experiences I tend to think about well understood psychological mechanisms of misattribution, that is, to think something is causing something which it is not causing. Or you talk about the bible, and I think about how many other religions there are and how they have as much of a claim to the exclusive information on the creator as you do.

Some of you who are religious have thought this through a lot more, and I respect that. I really do, some of you have come up with philosophical ideas that back up your relatively allegorical interpretations of scripture. Personally I have no quarrel with those of you that have taken this route. But the Rational Response Squad probably does.

And I think the Rational Response Squad is awesome! They take their views to the street and the net, with equal voracity.

One of their slogans is “Believe in God, we can fix that.” To some this may seem offensive, but infused within it is the intrinsic respect for all people that presumes that you will defer to reason if confronted with reason.*

When I believed in God I seriously took the position that I should not be afraid of dispassionate and constructive argument, or books. Or course my faith did not survive my open mind. But if you’re on to something real than this should not intimidate you.

They also take on other frauds like Uri Geller, the spoon bending psychic from Israel, recently found on the show Phenomenon.**

My podcast takes a street level approach to talking about science, and I will fully submit, without a single doubt. I based the Mindcore podcast on the approach of the Rational Response Squad. I have heard interviews with these guys on the Humanist Network News, and Skepticality, and I have listened to their own podcast. They talk about philosophy, history, and science like these are topics best discussed with friends wherever you are, not exclusively academic issues. These people fight for thinking, but not formal education. That takes courage, balls, and passion.

So there you have it: I endorse the Rational Response Squad!

* This is a concept that we have been trying to elucidate since day one, but we have never done so as eloquently. That is precisely the intent. The content is hiding under a facade of ridicule–some of which
is genuine, and also an effective tool against irrationality, in my opinion.

**I edited this sentence to reflect current status. The original was “currently to be found on the show phenomenon.”

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Blog Updates and Miscellaneous Info

Posted on February 10, 2008. Filed under: Atheism |

Well, despite the gazillion articles that I could be responding to right now, I’ve decided to update everybody on some general info and address some of the feedback I’ve gotten.

First of all, the focus on “print” media has shifted slightly, and I have been addressing a lot more of the online publications than not. I guess there’s not that much difference these days anyway, since the majority of people get their news and information online. Obviously, D’Souza keeps popping up. I swear that guy is either just republishing excerpts from his book in his blog, or he’s glued to his keyboard. Some of my most popular posts, though, were ones that didn’t address a single target, but instead an issue or a compilation of similar stories.

The most popular post on my blog so far has been “Still Don’t Think Theism is a Mental Disorder.” Behind that would be the “News Story from Belgium…” story on the Islamic man who wouldn’t allow a male anesthesiologist to treat his wife who needed an emergency cesarean section. As much fun as it is to beat up on Dinesh and Pope Ratzi, I guess variety is a benefit.

I’ve been getting a surprisingly good response from online publications lately. I’ve been posting at opednews.com for a while now, and they do have an editorial review process, and so far every article I’ve submitted has been published, and the “Humans Don’t Need to Comfort Themselves with Fairy Tales” article was their most popular op-ed of the day on Jan 28. (So I have a cute little “promoted to column top” message on it now.) I’ve also started up a little group there for atheist news and opinions called “Confronting Religious Hegemony” and anybody can create an account and join the group and comment on things. Any links or articles do get reviewed, though. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from that site, and for you naysayers who insist that nobody could ever actually like my blog, I’ll include some-with links for verification, of course.

This is my main author page.

From “Pope Benedict Releases Bigoted Encyclical…

Nice Job Kelly

Kelly makes some great points, but often those of a theistic mindset simply cannot hear the facts and instead submit to the dogma that the churches espouse. As the author notes, the atrocities that the communist regimes committed are almost invariably pulled out as a trump card for the theists; despite that it has been refuted innumerable times.

One area of interest I have is how technology and world population plays a role in making violence easier to export and communicate. Had those in the Inquisition had access to radio communications, guns, bombs, war industry and population densities that would put several thousand victims in one building, can anyone argue that religious crusades would not have been significantly more violent?

Now we have 14th century Islam actively pursuing 21st century weapons. It makes me shudder. Be afraid . . . be very afraid.

by FVThinker

And this is one of my favorites. Obviously, this guy has had issues with the previous commenter before.

GOD DAMN IT, SHE DIDN’T SAY THAT!!!

God Damn it, Andris! She didn’t say anything about denying religious believers, moderate or otherwise, the right to their views. She has neither the desire or power to make religion illegal and impose any penalties, ranging from a slow and painful death to only a fine, on people professing any of religions many varieties.

What you fail to understand is that there is a difference between saying a belief is absurd and denying people the right to believe it. True, there are degrees of probability to which we know beliefs to be true or false and in matters we are uncertain about, the word absurd would be inappropriate. But some beliefs are known to be true or false with a high probability. Thus I know that the earth is round with a high degree of certainty and I have no hesitation in saying that the beliefs of the flat earthers are false. That doesn’t mean I want to outlaw the flat earthers. Their believing such absurdities neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

I guess it doesn’t matter, though. Since you keep repeating that beliefs are matters of personal inclination, the beliefs to which your personal inclinations incline you are no more true than mine or anyone else’s beliefs, and we need not concern ourselves about it.

Robert Halfhill

(read more)

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WARNING! Religion may cause…

Posted on February 10, 2008. Filed under: Atheism |

…hypocrisy; cognitive dissonance; higher rates of STD infection, teen pregnancy, abortion, and poverty; mass societal dysfunction; early mortality; homicide; and, in rare cases, delusions and psychosis. Is Living Under the Influence (of religion) less dangerous than Driving Under the Influence?

In the news this week, we have the case of Eunice Spry, a British woman who systematically tortured her adopted and foster children because of her religious convictions. She did pleasant things like forcing the children to eat their own vomit for being greedy, and making a child with nighttime enuresis (bed-wetting) at the age of 4 wear a sign reminding everybody that she was an evil attention-seeker. It doesn’t stop there, either. She also prevented a teenaged girl who was injured in a car accident and temporarily confined to a wheelchair from walking in order to collect more compensation money, despite the fact that the prognosis was she would regain ability to walk within 6 months. After moving out, they children submitted to medical examinations which showed evidence of internal scarring due to Eunice’s punishment of choice-forcing the children to vomit and then eat it.

If you aren’t sick by now, you should be. Obviously, this woman’s problems extended beyond her religious beliefs, but her absolutely inhumane treatment of those children was done under the guise of punishing them for what would seem to be the seven deadly sins. All she would need to do is chop somebody’s pregnant wife’s head off and send it to them and we could make a movie. Oh, wait, somebody already did. In my opinion, crimes like these should be a more serious offense than murder. Going Andrea Yates on them would have been merciful. I almost wish that a hell existed so she could go there.

Don’t go away yet, there’s more. A Washington, D.C. woman, Banita Jacks, sat in her home for over two weeks with the decomposing bodies of her 4 daughters who were apparently “possessed.” Now tell me: Where would she get this idea of demon possession if it hadn’t been planted in her mind by religion? I realize that before mental illnesses were understood, demon possession was a common diagnosis, but we’re living in the 21st century here, people. That concept would not have survived the Enlightenment if it wasn’t for the eternally ubiquitous presence of that festering boil we refer to as religion.

I know the next argument that you’re going to make, too. “Well, she was insane, so she would have done something horrible anyway.” How do you know that? How do you know that she would have had any concept of a “demon” if it wasn’t placed there? The bible clearly states that this is a war not of flesh and bones, but of spirits and the forces of good and evil. One is to arm themselves for battle and prepare to deflect the attacks of satan and his minions. People still believe in this stuff! Does anybody get this? The Pope is calling for mass exorcisms, and some evangelical christians believe that sicknesses are caused by satan and that you can “cast them out in Jesus’ name.” It is a travesty that the more obsequious among us have bought the propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Anybody who cannot see the correlation here is either blind or indifferent and will allow these things to continue to happen. All because we can’t talk about religion like that-it’s just not nice…(read more)

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Presuppositions, Faith, and Reason: Which One is Out of Place Here?

Posted on January 30, 2008. Filed under: Atheism |

Atheists and others who buck the established religious systems have suffered from a bit of a PR problem since the beginning of recorded history. There are countless stories of the heretics, the blasphemers, and the impious being imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Atheism wasn’t even a prerequisite; Socrates was sentenced to death for only believing in one of the gods in the Greek Pantheon. The official charge: impiety. Why is it that this stigma has taken root so firmly within the minds of human beings? Why has this trend persisted for millennia?

The answer is faith. Faith is the cause of this discrimination against the religiously atypical. The situation is as true today as it ever was, although in most civilized lands the punishment is much less severe. Perhaps one will only be ostracized by their family, classmates, or colleagues after revealing their lack of religious affiliation. The Islamic countries appear to be the main protagonists of violence in the name of religion these days, but the particular brand of faith which one uses as justification is not at all important. Faith is an effective tool to not only insulate oneself from reality, but also to vilify those who appeal to reason in its stead.

One of the ways in which this “faith” meme is propagated and perpetuated is by deception. Whether intentional or not, the general consensus is to paint faith as a virtue, or at the very least harmless. This misinformation has gone on for so long now that it is impossible to ascertain from whence, or whom, it came, but there is no shortage of people incapable of seeing through the propaganda who then become replicators of it.

A good example of this is Peter Sellick, who wrote “The Rationality of Faith“. He contends that rationality does not exist purely as a method by which one can properly comprehend their surroundings, but rather that it is context specific-no one “rationality” being any more valid than another. All belief systems, or lack of belief systems, rely upon presuppositions, thus they are all the same. It is only after the presupposition is in place that rationale can be applied. How terribly ironic that the arguments in support of faith so frequently are more erudite versions of, “I know you are, but what am I?”…(read more)

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Humans Do Not Need to Comfort Themselves With Fairy Tales

Posted on January 24, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

A response to Peter Bowden’s “God, Atheism, and Human Needs

Kelly O’Connor

Jan. 24, 2008

The idea that human beings universally need some form of mythological belief has been one of the mainstays of the defenders of faith for centuries. They claim that even if god doesn’t exist or religion causes violence and hatred, it’s acceptable because it makes some people feel better about the harsh realities of life. This is a multi-pronged deceptive ploy used to abdicate themselves from any responsibility for those actions and to keep people thinking that their assertion is correct.

Many people have either been raised without theistic belief or have abandoned theism and discovered even greater meaning and value for their lives. Peter Bowden assumes in his article “God, Atheism, and Human Needs” that proponents of atheism such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Onfray, and Dennett must provide “deeper insight into ourselves, our needs as human beings, and ways to conduct our lives.” In essence, a replacement for, rather than the elimination of, religion. Life does seem much simpler when all of the answers are handed to you on a silver platter (or aged papyri), but it eliminates the worthwhile exercise of introspection and discovery that one must engage in to formulate their own self-concepts, needs, and morals.

This makes Bowden’s claim that atheists are “[avoiding] a fundamental quest of the human race” even more absurd. Figuring these things out for oneself is infinitely more important, and difficult, than accepting an ancient dogma in its stead. Perhaps the reason why so many are opposed to self-examination is because it is exactly as I described it—exercise. It can be excruciatingly difficult to step outside of yourself, examine your beliefs, and dissect that which lies beneath your exterior. If one has been inculcated with the notion that whatever resides in there is dirty, depraved, and evil, that urge to integrate your beliefs and behavior will be furiously resisted and likely satiated with religion.

Being told that your worldview is incorrect and that it’s going to be a difficult process to regain your bearings once you realize that there is no grand plan for your life will often be interpreted as an attack. Even if doing nothing more than pointing out the harm that has been done under the auspices of piety, the news will not be received with accolades from the religious. Compartmentalization and rationalization (as in the psychological phenomenon) are fundamental aspects of maintaining any faith-based belief in the face of contrary evidence. Despite the common perception, it is not viciousness which compels us as atheists to speak out against religion. It is with the hope that we can help those who live under the ever-looming spectre of god’s presence to stop accepting the illusion of freedom and truly experience it…(read more)

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Dinesh D’Souza Spreads Dishonest Propaganda…Again

Posted on January 21, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Original Article

Isn’t it remarkable that Christians would like to use atheists as scapegoats for every evil action throughout history instead of admitting their own complicity? After all, they are the ones who are constantly reminding us that the inhumane actions committed by their predecessors don’t necessarily reflect upon them, so why can’t they can’t they just admit that the christians of the past were complicit in some of these atrocities?

I don’t know that I need to move beyond the first sentence to prove the absurdity of his assertion. Apparently, Mr. D’Souza has forgotten about the atheists and deists who were the true impetus for ending slavery-like Abraham Lincoln! As far as we can tell from the biographies written about Lincoln, particularly those written by some of his closest friends, he was at best a deist, possibly an atheist, and definitely opposed to organized religion and christianity. How about other atheist abolitionists like Fanny Wright, Elizur Wright and Ernestine Louise Rose?

Obviously D’Souza aims to rewrite history, much like his buddies in Congress with HR 888, to make it seem that christians were always paragons of morality and the evils of the world can be blamed on atheists. D’Souza attempts to ridicule Sam Harris by pointing out that everybody already knows that the bible sanctions slavery and that the same bible was used as justification for and against slavery…read more

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Still Don’t Think Theism is a Mind Disorder…Part Deux

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , |

Since there have been so many things that I wanted to address in the comments, plus the fact that it got long as hell, I decided to post it here. Enjoy.

Quote:

No atheism here.Submitted by Fenriz on January 13, 2008 – 2:37pm.

Religion is different from illegal drugs because it is societally protected. Even if religion is destructive, it won’t carry the same stigma as drugs because too many people support it. Your analogy is more effective with tobacco and alcohol, which are both traditionally accepted features of our culture despite the harms they can inflict. Because they are so ingrained in our culture, we won’t get rid of them regardless the problems to which they contribute (though tobacco could be teetering on the brink of extinction).

I agree that it is considered taboo to critique religion too harshly, but is that respect deserved? Would we not be better off as a society if events such as these didn’t happen? Some people will find other reasons to engage in destructive behaviors, but why not eliminate as many potential catalysts as possible?

Personally, I find the analogy with drugs, alcohol and nicotine included, to be particularly appropriate as analogous to religion. People often become just as addicted to religion as they would to any drug, it appears that susceptible people harm themselves or others as a result of their addiction, and the most frequently used excuse for not criticizing religion is that it makes people feel good. Well, so does heroin…read more

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Muslims suppressing atheism in Turkey

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Yesterday I blogged about muslims attempting to take down pictures of their invisible friend on wikipedia via petition. Today we got a letter from the head of the number one turkish atheist site which has been stripped from the eyes of Turks twice. Once under the original domain and then again under another domain. Unfortunately, the owner is unable to fight this in court because to do so he would have to identify himself which if you’re familiar will end up resulting in his head being chopped off by the peaceful and loving muslims who work for Allah. If you speak Turkish and you are an atheist please support this site…

Creationists control Internet access in Turkey

Ateizm.org , the most prominent non-profit Turkish web site on atheism and religions was closed for the second time in December 2007, under orders from a Turkish court. Ateizm.org was established in 2000 by three young Turkish atheists who devoted themselves to the enlightenment of Turkish people. Ateizm.org hosts an online discussion board named Ateistforum ( forum.ateizm.org), one of the busiest forums for the Turkish speaking online community over the Internet. Ateizm.org received 1000 visits a day at its peak when it was open.

Turkey is a land of many cultures, traditions, ethnicities and religious groups. We are proud of our recent secular past, for numerous reforms and accomplishments that took place in political, social and economic areas. Although statistically Turkey appears as 98 percent Muslim, 15 percent of Turkish population follows the Alevi tradition, a very moderate version of Islam. There are significant numbers of secular non-practicing Muslims and very small numbers of people belonging to other religions, agnostics, deists and atheists…read more

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