Archive for the ‘ atheist ’ Category

I Finally Agree With Another Atheist

[repost because it’s on my mind today]

It’s not often that I agree with another atheist. Mostly because how I think of life is not fluffy and white. It’s bleak and harsh. Julian Baggini has hit the nail on the head with this post

So I think it’s time we atheists ‘fessed up and admitted that life without God can sometimes be pretty grim. Appropriating the label “heathen” is part of this. Heathens are unredeemed outcasts from heaven who roam the planet without hope of surviving the deaths of their bodies. They may have values but they are not secured by any divine source. Yet we embrace this because we think it represents the truth. And so we don’t just get on and enjoy life, we embark on our own intellectual pilgrimages, trying to make some progress in a universe on which no meaning has been writ. The journey can be wonderful but it can also be arduous and it may end horribly. But there is no other way, and anyone who urges you to follow a path that they promise leads to a bright future is either gravely mistaken or a charlatan.

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Truth is necessarily harsh. It cannot be soft-balled. I’m quite happy to see another person printing the truth. Life is, it sucks, so just be. Nobody chose to be here, we have only the choice of when to leave. Every day is a struggle. If it was easy we’d be bored. No, we’re not done. We need to get on with the program of dominating the galaxy then the universe. While we sit idle on this water world, we waste our time. The more time we waste on creator gods the less time we have to be who we truly can be.

What do you think? Who can we be? Who should we be?

What Scares The Atheists?

I found an interesting post. The entirety of it is below.  One of many inspired by Gray’s article. I won’t reply to his post directly or even this post (shown below in it’s entirety). I am an atheist, anti-theist, monist, materialist, nihilist and a few other labels that are not used too often. I accept them. I like them. They each begin to describe my thoughts and feelings on life. None is complete on its own. I speak only for myself and no other. No other person speaks for me in these matters, certainly not John Gray. I think that it is convenient for people to think a single label is all that another person is but it is not. We humans are far too complex (generally speaking) to be held up under a single banner or label. That works for all sorts; have you ever met a Christian bigot or racist?

The post below throws out few points, the main being that a thinking non-theist should have a struggle with the concept of morality without inheriting morality from a faith tradition. As it happens I  have a problem with that thought. A big one. For a start, if morality only comes from a faith tradition, why are there so many of them? The three big monotheistic religions have one set of books each. If morality springs from them, then there should be only the three sets of morality yet we see tens of thousands of sects, each having their own moral values. We are left to believe that one book creates many moral codes, divinely inspired, without the input of humans yet it is exactly this unstable, mutable, malleable morality which I stand accused of using as my own.

In response I can only say that this thought insults me. It presumes that I am incapable of creating my own moral values. It further insults all humans in the very same way. Pity the human who lacks the ability to form their own moral values for even those who choose morals you do not like have chosen moral values. Even the young children choose moral values before they are able to follow any faith tradition.

I could ‘defend’ my position by criticizing the post below and that would be easy. I could defend my position by splitting hairs over whether other atheists are like me or not. I choose neither of these. My position does not require defending. It, like I, stands on its own. It does not need defending. It is, in its own right, a position that does not require defending for it does not care what you or anyone else thinks of it. It is not a shameful position without virtue and value. It is not a position of less than or alternative.

The very idea that I need to defend my position is ludicrous. Just the same, it is what is called for. We are each responsible to know our minds and speak freely of how we understand the world around us. This I can do.

I am not afraid. I know I will, from time to time, fail to live up to my own chosen goals. A goal that is easy to achieve is no goal at all. I will stumble, perhaps fall, get up again and carry on – wiser, more experienced, more determined and controlled. My morality is to myself. Should I find that I like you or something about you I can choose to help you in your time of need. You in turn might choose to help me and together we are stronger than either of us alone. In this bond is my second morality. Outside of these moral obligations there are none except that which I choose to extend beyond this basic circumstance. It is my choice, not a tradition or rule book. My choices are not yours and yours are not mine. By definition we cannot have the same moral values. They might well be very similar but they are not the same.

I was taught moral lessons by my parents and by society. My parents taught me to respect women. On my own I learned that I respect people. They taught me to respect my elders. On my own I learned that even they must earn respect. Society taught me to respect country and kin that are forced on me. On my own I learned to respect only that which benefits me and motivates me. Society gives me a vote to argue against what I do not accept. I accept society only in so much as it benefits me. I stand alone. I was born alone, I will die alone, and I walk alone. I am not afraid. There are those that will choose only safe harbors and warm fires. They may fear standing alone. I do not. They may require society and other peoples morals. I do not. I am not blind to the harsh, cold, brutal reality of life on this planet.

My morality comes from the law of reciprocity, not from a book or a tradition. I was born with the capability for it, learned it as a child before I could understand what faith was. My morality is the same as that of other animals. I am insulted that a believer would think it acceptable to deny it, accuse me of copying their poorly reasoned rules and laws. My morality stands head and shoulders above that of the believer. It is MY morality not that of someone else, not that of a book, not from someone that desires to tell me how to behave and act. My morality is far better than any from a book or tradition. I can defend it, explain it, live it true.

I am not afraid or scared. I know who and what I am. I know my failures and have found peace with them. I have no reason to think there is more than this life, this day, this moment. When I live this moment well, over and over again, the rest takes care of itself. I will worry about the next world when it comes to be that I am in it. I am not afraid, least of all do I fear what a next life might be like. If I have a duty of any kind it would be to live this life (moment by moment) as best I can within my moral values. Anything else is to live someone else’s life. I can only live mine. I will gladly hold my moral values up against the inspection by others. It is better than that of believers. It can be lived up to.

 

“What Scares the Atheists”

John Gray writes a lengthy and worthwhile piece on the New Atheism’s difficulty with the growing spread of religion.  He calls them “missionary atheists” and points out that they want to proselytize converts every bit as much as missionary Christians.

Gray, himself an atheist, also outlines the role of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the Western civilization concept of liberality.  He rightly notes that atheism doesn’t exactly have a clean slate when it comes offenses against liberal values–its 19th and 20th century taste for eugenics and colonialism being the conceit he uses.

This is a difficulty for atheism: No one who is serious about these sorts of conversations thinks that atheists can’t be moral or that atheism can’t have a moral code;  however, many a decent brainiac do struggle with the concept of atheism possessing and exercising a morality without having inherited it from a faith tradition.

Of course, Gray doesn’t think that an inherent morality exists at all, but that’s an entirely different topic for another day.

Christians, What Time Is It?

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For every thing, not some of them, all of them

There is a time for all things …

Unless, of course, there isn’t.

A time to be born, a time to die

A time to sew, a time to harvest

A time to kill, a time to heal

A time to destroy, a time to build

A time to cry, a time to laugh

A time to mourn, a time to dance

A time to forget the past, a time to make new memories

A time to be social, a time to be alone

A time to receive, a time to lose

A time to collect, a time to throw away

A time to be silent, a time to speak

A time to love, a time to hate

A time to fight, a time to be peace

Morality is how we find it, no more or less. That you find yourself in the wrong time is just how life works out some times. A lot of us can’t quite figure out when that time to be silent is. Meh.

We naked apes often seek wisdom to know what time it is, always looking at the clock and guessing what the next chunk of time will be or bring. Not many of us ever get that guess right. We naked apes forget that we’re just another animal on this planet. The one animal with the ability to destroy it or build it up. By destroy I mean ensure that humans do not survive. Other animals will, it is the way of ‘life’ on this planet. The other animals seem much better at knowing what time it is than we humans.

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19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. —  Ecclesiastes 3:19

 

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I fear the animals regard man as a being like themselves, seriously endangered by the loss of sound animal understanding; they regard him perhaps as the absurd animal, the laughing animal, the crying animal, the unfortunate animal.    —  Friedrich Nietzsche

The Muslim world thinks it is time for war. The Christian world thinks its a time of persecution.

Wait for it. Let that sink in.

The hands of the clock of monotheism haven’t moved in over 2000 years. Think about that for a minute.

It’s time to get a new clock.

Morality Is Written On Our Hearts

“I will put My Law within them, and on their hearts will I write it; and I will be their God, and they will be My people” – Jeremiah 31:33-34
All human beings have an innate sense of right and wrong, an innate sense of the way they ought to behave. This sense is called the natural, moral law. It is God’s law of right vs. wrong literally written on our hearts, woven into the very fabric of who we are.
Despite all that, believers choose to follow their “good book” instead
’nuff said
MAL

What If There Is A God?

There are people that do not understand my position on belief. Perhaps it is time to explain it again.

Atheism simply defined is, “Someone who LACKS BELIEF in a god or gods.”  So as an atheist I would never claim to KNOW that there are no gods.  In this context atheism is nothing more than the rejection of the proposition, “a god or god’s exist.”  It is not the positive statement, “there is no god.”

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As an atheist I agree completely. I further posit that the probability of a god is zero. Further, if a god exists and that god is like the description of the god of Abraham that god is not worthy of my desire, accolades, or worship. If there is a god that exists as described by deists it does not care what words I use nor who I sleep with and how. If a god exists and judges me by moral means then it will judge me based on the morality I know rather than that offered in the offensive books of human made religions. If a god exists and has the fortitude to judge me at all, it can judge me by my morality and treatment of my fellow animals. If it indeed has the power of judgement, it can judge me on how I’ve treated others. If indeed there is a god who has any need or want to judge me, it can judge me as I have lived or it can do as it wishes but I will not worship it. For a being to acquire my worship requires what no god of human design or understanding can do. The YHWH-ists claim their god is omniscient yet that god has failed to meet the criteria I set forth. For those that think I am not permitted to set forth the criteria I am open to them showing me their god so that their god can explain to me personally what the rules are. I’m not saying I will accept any old god and his rules, but if there is argument about my understanding it will require the actual god to explain to me the differences. Without that there is no such thing as free will and I claim my right to free will now and always. Let some god who wants to be king explain any differences to me personally. I need no middle man arguments. Any god who would deem me unworthy of such effort is unworthy of my praise and worship and will likely garner my desire to kill it. If that is not clear enough for the theist, then I can use more words.

 

 

What the F is Egalitarianism

It is not an easy word to say, doesn’t roll off the tongue and does not appear in the daily 24 hour news cycle. So? What is it?

I always go to Merriam-Webster for definitions because I like them

1:  a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
2:  a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people
This seems quite reasonable. So why is it so hard to achieve?
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I don’t want to cast aspersions where they are not warranted but I should point out that religion has been in charge for over 2000 years. Perhaps we should try this without religion?
Thoughts?

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?

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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 Immorality Of Immortality: Why Forever Takes So Long

American Heathen has a post entitled The Immorality Of Immortality in which they ask “If it were possible to become immortal, would you do it? Would you step boldly into a life of eternal existence? If so, have you considered the ramifications, the consequences of living forever?”

I encourage you to go read their post but here I’m going to answer the question.

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I don’t imagine that many people think of immortality much differently than American Heathen. I doubt many feel as I do but then I see life a little bit differently than most seem to.

When I was a kid, life seemed to go so slow and I got bored. Now, later in life, it goes so fast and I have no time at all. No time for the things I want to do or accomplish, not for the pleasures I’d like to experience. There is not even enough time for the very simple things that I can’t seem to get bored with. I would like for time to not be part of the equation for me. Oh, I know there would be problems and AmericanHeathen seems to cover the problems I can think of plus a few that I don’t think would be a problem in my case.

Between the birth of my great grandparents and myself the world has changed more than ever imagined by kings or popes. Because the world has come so far in that time, my grandchildren will never be able to or need to go back… we hope. I can; I can go back. I can travel there and be okay. I stand on the shoulders of giants to reach farther than they yet I watched them, learned what they knew as handed down knowledge from their family lineages. I am both their peer and their patron. I am thrust at the future by their hands, never having left their hearths. My mind is timeless in a sense. I remember their tales as if they were my own and mine as if they were theirs. Yet I yearn for more knowledge, more experiences as if my body is addled with the stuff and craves more. My thirst for more knowledge and experience frustrates me because I cannot cram enough information into my head fast enough for the little time I have in this life. Sometimes the information I try to jam inside my head does not stick so well. I’d really like to have a jack in the back of my head to make the job easier.

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There are millions of experiences that I’ve not had yet, and that is just in this country. I’ve also not been into space, to another world or galaxy,  nor have I had a beach side cookout on a planet with two moons. The number of things I’ve not experienced yet but could is as large as the universe.

We meekly admit to ourselves that we’ll never know all there is to know and many of us give up trying. I do not no matter how vain the attempt might be. I want to know everything.

If somewhere along the line I stop being what some might define as human I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being different. I’m sure there is an Aesop’s fable just waiting to hit me in the face here. Never mind. I don’t want to be mere human. I do want to know everything. If that seems heretical, so what? I want to compose music, mine for fun and profit on comets, design warp engines, dine at 7 star restaurants at the end of time and on and on. 80 years is not enough. 80 million years is not enough.

I have a modicum of pity for those that think they would get bored. My mum used to tell us as kids ‘go outside and play if you’re bored’ and that is what I’d do if I were immortal. Send me to Mars… I’ve not been there yet. Let me learn millions of foreign languages from millions of planets. Let me perform magic for the emperor of a galaxy, dance with the princess of 4 worlds and on and on. Let me broker peace between worlds, discover unknown life forms, map vast sections of the universe, find it’s edges. Let me be everything at one time or another.

For those that think immortality is for crazy people, I say that you have no considered the possibilities of infinite experience and reward. The thought that humans are alone in the universe is astoundingly arrogant. There are other life forms, other intelligences. I want to meet and know them. Our future is limited only by  our imagination’s limitations. Mine is not so limited as to think I’d get bored. I’ve always been a bit more industrious than that.

Yes, I know the title doesn’t seem to match, but I wanted a direct relation to the original post that asked the question.

Forever takes so long… well, only if you’re sitting around waiting for it. If you’re busy being out and about and re-arranging the universe, time flies and forever comes along way too soon.

 

 

 

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.

 

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