Archive for the ‘ Religion ’ Category

Eternal life is completely meaningless

myatheistlife:

Yep, most Christians don’t read their book and don’t know what it says about heaven. You can find out: http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/heaven-bible-verses/
It’s not much of a promised eternity… in fact, from the descriptions it’s not much at all. Make believe. Wishful thinking. pffffft If somebody offered you that to loan them 1000 dollars you’d say no. It’s worth nothing.

Originally posted on The Atheist Papers:

I woke up early today with a long list of problems to solve and chores to finish. I started the day off by breaking one of the 10 Commandments (I chose to work on the sabbath). I finished my list of chores and solved many of the problems I set out to solve, and then I came home and worked up an entire new set of chores and problems to solve. Indeed, writing this post is both a chore and a solvable problem (how do I word this correctly?). By reading this you are completing a chore and solving a problem (do I understand what he’s trying to say?). By completing chores (both good and bad) and solving problems, we enable ourselves to form memories of the experiences. These memories form the basis of our experience of time. They also serve as a list of our accomplishments…

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Why Is There Evil In The World?

Let’s start this out with the right perspective. Those who claim to know the most about evil are theists so let’s see what the Christian Bible says.

Isaiah 44:24 and Colossians 1:16-17

  1. God created all alone (Isaiah 44:24)–“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.”

  2. All things created by/through Jesus (Colossians 1:16-17)–“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Well, that clears things up. The god God made everything of every description. There doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room to tack ‘except evil’ on the end of it.

Of course atheists have a lot to say about the ‘problem of evil’ and the issues surrounding arguments for and against. It is difficult to argue about something which is very poorly defined. Webster’s (my favorite) says:

adjective \ˈē-vəl, British often & US also ˈē-(ˌ)vil\

: morally bad
: causing harm or injury to someone
: marked by bad luck or bad events

1 a :  morally reprehensible :  sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>
b :  arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation>

2 a archaic :  inferior
   b :  causing discomfort or repulsion :  offensive <an evil odor>
c :  disagreeable <woke late and in an evil temper>
3 a :  causing harm :  pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>
b :  marked by misfortune :  unlucky

Clearly it’s not so easy to define this word. Many people would define it as pain and suffering or the cause of pain and suffering. Whatever the definition we now know what the god God created it or allowed it to create itself. This is all problematic for a number of reasons.

  • It is difficult to discuss unless all parties agree to the meaning.
  • All parties will not always agree to the meaning.
  • Some people think anything that is not “godly” is evil, whatever godly means.

https://americangallery.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/small_hear-no-evil-see-no-evil-speak-no-evil.jpg?w=629&h=354

I’ve got a different view. There is no evil. That explains why it can’t be defined well enough for everybody to agree on the definition. Aside from the fact that there are no gods, there is also no “opposer” or satan or evil. Existence simply is. It does not care about humans nor morality. Evil, pain, suffering, wrong doing: all these exist or seem to because we humans (theists mostly) are trying to impose a made up set of standards for what is good and what is not. We do this from a completely anthropocentric position. Theists try to impose what they call absolute morality which does not consider any animals other than humans. It is hardly absolute then. We can clearly see that many animals exhibit moral actions and emotions.

http://www.ethics.emory.edu/pillars/health_sciences/Beastly%20Morality%20Pic%201

Any definition of evil has to compliment a definition of morality and good. Any definitions of either that do not account for the morality we see in other animals is incomplete at best and at worst a mere human contrivance to serve the speaker’s own ends.

There is no evil in the world as theists would define it, there is only pain and suffering and that is what we expect to see in a harsh cold unforgiving universe that does not care about our species one way or the other. The universe is unfolding as it should and unless we all work together we will remain caught in the trap of delusion and superstition, slaves of ignorance.

So how do you define evil? I want to know.

 

Five Is A Magic Number

I used to think so as a child, at least for a time. I also thought that perhaps 7 was a magic number too. By magic I thought that there was some special significance to the number. I didn’t have any knowledge of numerology or the significance of numbers in Judaism. I simply looked at the  world around me and all of the animal life I knew of had five extremities on their torso. Yeah, I knew about spiders but they were creepy crawly things so they didn’t count. Little did I know then that they didn’t count because they were on the wrong branch of the tree. So many animals and humans have the same basic body plan that I thought there must be some magic significance. Well, there is and it’s called evolution. It’s not magic but to a 5 year old or some theists it might as well be. It’s one of the successful body plans for life on this planet. It’s not magic yet it is magical on some level that so many species should have the same basic plan.

 

http://www.origin-of-mitochondria.net/wp-content/uploads/normal_tree_of_life.jpghttp://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f4/ba/08/f4ba08138987c2382884e49b8e6df818.jpg

There are a number of things that I have thought must have some magic quality in the time I’ve been alive. As it turns out none of them had magic qualities. It’s just how life is, how it evolved. Even whales have that body plan but several of the limbs  have been re-purposed over time as fins because it’s more effective. It seems like I’ve been doing science all my life. Observe, hypothesize, test, learn, change the hypothesis and repeat. Evolution made immediate sense to me when I realized (some years older) that the 5 point body plan is so popular because we all started out with a common ancestor that had a 5 point body. Why it is that this can make sense to a child but not adults baffled me for a very long time. To me it simply ‘just made sense’ that evolution explained the commonalities.

It doesn’t take long to find out why:

US Religious denominations that dispute evolution

On the other hand, in the U.S., many Protestant denominations promote creationism, preach against evolution from the pulpits, and sponsor lectures and debates on the subject. A list of denominations that explicitly advocate creationism instead of what they call “Darwinism” or evolution include the Assemblies of God,[80] the Free Methodist Church, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod,[81] Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches,[82] Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Christian Reformed Church, Southern Baptist Convention,[83] and the Pentecostal Oneness churches.[84] Jehovah’s Witnesses reject both evolution and creationism.[85]

That’s right. Religion makes it okay to believe in magic. Take that in. Believing in your imaginary friend as a child is one thing but believing in magic as an adult means that you must deny the truth if it conflicts with your imaginary friend no matter how much evidence there is to support the truth. Those listed above do not simply deny the truth and facts, they actively admonish people to not believe them. This is akin to teaching children that the world is flat or the Sun revolves around the Earth. It is knowingly wrong and people who believe these things (flat-earthers etc.) are properly ridiculed and ostracized.

It’s time we stopped believing in magic and started ridiculing those who do and rebuking those who teach it to children. It is harmful to our future well being and currently deprives millions of people their right to happiness, health, or life.

What an unimaginative creator this supposed god of Christianity is. He only came up with a short list of body plans and made some of them so poorly that those animals are no longer in existence. Everything he is supposed to have created is messed up and so haphazard as to look like an accidental mutation of previous things. Evolution is the only explanation that makes sense. It’s not magic, it’s biology. How fortunate I am that I live in a time when this is understood and I don’t have to accept the idea of an invisible sky daddy who works in mysterious ways. We humans have worked for hundreds of thousands of years to acquire this knowledge and I go through my days thinking of it a birthright, a debt owed to me. In the next hundred years we’ll learn more than has been learned in all of human existence so far. I’m sad that I probably won’t be around to know it too.

Life is not magical, but the experiencing of it has a kind of magical feeling. For me, numbers are no longer magic, but there is a wonderment I feel when I read about how many stars there are in this universe. Billions and billions of chances that there is someone, perhaps a lot like me, somewhere else in this universe thinking thoughts much like my own: knowing that the universe is not made for us and our best hope is to reach out and work together to find better ways to survive, thrive, and build great things.

 

Hitler Can’t Help You

or why Christian apologetic arguments that use Hitler as an example are self refuting and circular.

I’ve written about this before here  and here  but I think this video does a better job of showing how the argument of biblical morality is circular and dangerous.

Enjoy.  Please feel free to comment whether you think this is correct or not. The circular biblical morality discussion needs to be out in the open more often.

 

The Soul Of Humanity: Spiritual Belief For Non-Believers

Where oh where are thou, soul of humanity?

http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/165/5/f/sew_closed_my_soul_by_destinyblue-d53i95b.jpg

Over the ages mankind has cried out into the darkness looking for the soul of his kind. They have sought it under every rock which can be identified, each human searching under them in succession like bees in an arboritum.

The soul of humanity is not to be found in a search. It will not be found at all. All that can be called the soul of humanity will be cast upon you like a robe you did not intend to wear when you seek not to find the soul but to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, protect the weak and befriend the lonely. In doing these things you’ll find that the robe will not come off no matter how you try because you’ll have found your humanity, your human dignity, your soul by giving it to others.

We may at times call this the law of reciprocity, or the golden rule among other things. What you cannot do is cheat it, any attempt to do so harms only you. Likewise, any attempt to keep this law helps you in amplified ways just as feeding the poor slakes a hunger inside your mind that you might not have ever know about till you gave your winter stores to a stranger.

There is no soul or spirituality except what hits you in the face when you’re trying to give yours away to others.

The Psychological Make Up Of An Atheist

There is mounting evidence of the growth in western societies of three mind-sets:

narcissism, materialism and atheism

There is no attempt to show evidence for this otherwise empty claim. More’s the pity. I’d like to see it. One might argue that new atheists is evidence, the me generation is evidence and so on but it would have been nice to see a bit more background information on this claim. I think they are way off on the narcissism claim but we’ll get to that in a bit. The right question to ask is how this ‘growth’ in atheism accounts for Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Frank Sinatra and the billions of non-believers that came before them. That something has become easier to see does not mean it was not always there.

It seems to me that materialism and atheism are twin sides of the same coin, essentially an “I-It” rather than “I-Thou” existentialism according to Martin Buber.  I have wondered for some time what causes someone to become a militant-proselytising materialist atheist. After all the implication of their dogma, if true, of is nihilism, depression. No reason, no free-will. Why exist at all. As one atheist puts it – we would simply be the scum on the side of the universe. If that is what they truly believe – then why-oh-why do they want (I ask myself) to convert all others to their cause. It seems to me that Dennet, Dawkins et al have a NEED to convert. What is the psychological well-spring of their neediness?

One might be forgiven for the ‘twin sides of a coin’ metaphor if there was some reasoning to support it. As it is we are left to guess why. The author’s wonderment might be okay as a statement up to the point where they conclude that atheism has dogma and it explicitly implies negative things which are not true except of, perhaps, a very small subset of atheists. They build this into a kind of straw man. The author makes no attempt to understand what they frame as dogma nor explain it. The entire attempt is aimed at a straw man argument and negative toned argument.

I had wondered, looking at Dawkins life, whether it was a kind of Oedipus complex. Kill your father. Even Freud speculated as to that as the need behind atheism. However having read about the epidemic of narcissism I think that this instead  is the link or cause for materialist-atheism. I am told that narcissistic behaviour stems from a lack of love, or sense of love during childhood. This leads to an in-turning – deriving love from one-self – and denying the need for or existence of love elsewhere. Is it not possible, even probable then, that this mind-state would need to make itself the centre of all and deny that love elsewhere exists? Aggressively. In order to preserve it’s centred universe.

Now there is a piece of work. Freud also speculated that sexual arousal was a smell oriented response. Hypotheses are good except without evidence. Evidence seems to be a weak point for this author. The Mayo Clinic does not include atheism as part of the symptoms of Narcissistic personality disorder. In fact they define it rather differently. This looks like another straw man. We can’t say who told them the definition they are using. All we can do is say that it conflicts with some of the best information available and that their conclusion is completely off base, wrong, and perhaps childish.

If then the rise of narcissism and materialism/atheism are linked – which is the cause and which the effect? Perhaps neither – and both are a product of some other factor.

Nobody has said they are linked and the author fails to show that they are. In fact, minor research shows this entire post to be a straw man. What this says about the author is up for grabs but I’d be willing to bet that this person is dishonest.

Worth considering.
As a post-script – in reading around for this blog I found this from the militant atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett.

“I adopt the apparently dogmatic rule that dualism is to be avoided at all costs. It is not that I think I can give a knock-down proof that dualism, in all its forms, is false or incoherent, but that, given the way that dualism wallows in mystery, accepting dualism is giving up“.

A more complete context of Dennett’s quote is:

Dr. Dennett sets the stage by introducing the means by which he intends to “demystify” the notion of consciousness.  His first move is to reject Cartesian Dualism as a matter of principle.  It will strike some readers odd that, save for a couple of humorous comic strips and a handful of vague comments regarding the, all too cliché, problem of interaction, he seems entirely uncompelled to provide rigorous argumentation against the Cartesian view.  Most, however, will be sympathetic to the fact that it is far more economical in a lengthy work of philosophy to simply pronounce, ex cathedra, the death of an opposing point of view.  Such an approach, I might point out, makes the task of promoting one’s own view far easier.  To be fair, though, it must be conceded that Dr. Dennett makes several strong assertions about why we should ignore dualistic theories of the mind.  He declares that dualism is both unscientific and mysterious.  As he states:

[The] fundamentally antiscientific stance of dualism is, to my mind, its most disqualifying feature, and is the reason why in this book I adopt the apparently dogmatic rule that dualism is to be avoided at all costs.  It is not that I think I can give a knock-down proof that dualism, in all its forms, is false or incoherent, but that, given the way dualism wallows in mystery, accepting dualism is giving up (37).

Rather than wallow in mystery (and, really, who wants to wallow?), Dr. Dennett proposes a more sensible way—materialism.  But not just any form of materialism, a materialism that faces the problem of consciousness realistically; without ignoring the key features of conscious mental states which render them so difficult to account for.  The bulk of his book, therefore, is spent attempting to provide a broad materialistic framework by which we might account for all of the features of consciousness.

As we see below, the author is conflating arguments to their own advantage, and unfairly so. Again, I would wager this author is dishonest. The context of the quote makes it very clear what the giving up is about. This author simply quote mines a famous philosopher to confuse matters toward their own favor. This is dishonest.

Giving up? On what? The possibility of God, a reason for existence. Why would that a problem to be avoided or considered? Is the language not that of a narcissist – if you don’t agree with me you must be “wallowing in mystery”.

How depressing that a “philosopher” starts with a dogma of denial and then seeks to justify that with logic. Dogma isn’t philosophy. It’s dogma.

This author has failed to define or explore atheism, narcissism, or the consequences of either. Despite that the author wants the reader to believe that they have done so and that their straw man allows them to rightfully denigrate atheism. It is dishonesty at best. The truth is that atheism is not a world view for if it is then not believing in tooth fairies or santa claus would be world views and that would put the author in the admirable spot of holding three world views at the same time, talented indeed.

I speak for myself as an atheist I do not need a reason for existence, experiencing life is enough.  What dogma I have is not related to atheism and is pointed more squarely at wilful ignorance and dishonesty. As a nihilist (a malady they forgot to mention) I do not see any objective purpose to life or any part of it, rather I find meaning in what I want to find it, how I want to find it, and when I want to find it. This does not make me narcissistic, it makes me responsible for my own life. Any theist knows that their god will hold them responsible for their lives but they cannot appreciate that I hold me responsible for my life. Likewise, I hold the author responsible for theirs, a seemingly dishonest life.

 

God Helped Me Find My Car Keys

I was thinking about this tonight and something twitched in me. I thought about what this might mean. Someone helped me find my car keys, as in some human, means that I was weak and unable to remember where I put them. I was at fault. I was failing at life. I needed help to do what normal people do every day. I was failing to be normal. So when a believer claims that their god helped them do something normal….

What they are saying is that they were unable to be normal, that they were failing at being normal and needed help. Further, and most astoundingly, they claim it a miracle that their ‘god’ helped them to be normal.Think about that for a minute. Go on, I mean it.

 

Yes, believers are saying that they need help to be normal and better than that they are claiming a miracle for it. It does not matter whether it was finding the car keys or that their sports team won, the point is they are claiming the need for help to be normal and declaring it a miracle. Every thinking person who hears such flotsam should rightfully shove these claimants into the mud and explain exactly how ignorant they are. There is no excuse for it. To think that an unexplained god gave them the power to be normal for a minute is the ultimate admission of ignorance. Whenever you hear this kind of stuff please explain to the claimant how utterly ignorant they are. It would be doing all of us a favor, including the claimant.

 

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