Archive for the ‘ gods ’ Category

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.

Dalai Lama Denounces Chapel Hill Murders

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In a statement today the Dalai Lama announced to Chinese state radio that

I am aghast at these murders and want the families to know Buddhists deplore this kind of action by a fellow non-believer. This is not the way of Buddhism.

He announced condolences as only the Dalai Lama can and also said

“Although violence and the use of force may appear powerful and decisive, their benefits are short-lived. Violence can never bring a lasting and long term resolution to any problem, because it is unpredictable and for every problem it seems to solve, others are created. On the other hand, truth remains constant and will ultimately prevail.”

In this, Mr Craig Stephen Hicks shares some traits with the religious.

 

‘Nuff said

 

 

 

At least this is what I imagined

Atheist Murderer … So What?

Yes, I just said that. Does it really matter whether this tragedy, and it is a tragedy, is a hate crime or just some guy with a gun and several loose screws? Not to their families. It doesn’t matter to me. I truly feel bad for the families. Their pain will not go away any time soon. If I had a way to help them I will. That does not change the story. It does not change what happened. Humans are a violent species; always have been and it seems they always will be. Here are the faces of some of the latest violence. Yes, only some of it. Someone should be asking the question: Why are crazy people allowed to carry guns? How can we detect crazy people? You might as well ask how we can prevent lightning from striking churches and burning them down. No solution will ever be complete and tragedies like this will always happen as long as humans exist as we exist to day.

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Do you remember not long ago when there was a number of people claiming that wars in Islamic countries created terrorists? Well, what does it take to push a nutter over the edge? Perhaps a parking dispute and the opportunity to use a gun? Hmmm that doesn’t seem like much, certainly not enough. Well, how about Muslims beheading people and burning them alive and distributing the film world wide? Would that do it? Remember those who said Charlie Hebdo were ‘begging’ for it? Do those people still feel that way? Did they not think it would happen the other way around? Did no one consider this possibility? They shouldn’t have been surprised.

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Maybe this story will give you reason that a nutter with a gun might use it, given a chance?

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Atheism is not a world view. It offers no code of conduct nor even suggests that one should behave this way or that. It is nothing more than the disbelief in gods and the supernatural. Hatred of others is something atheists do all on their own, for those that hate others. Trust me, atheists can hate just like anyone else. Being an atheist does not mean that you are morally good or even fun to be around. It just means that you don’t believe in gods. That lack of belief is the only thing that atheists have in common as a group. It’s even difficult to call them a group. It’s like calling everyone that does not wear pink a group – non-pink wearers. If someone who does not wear pink killed someone in black and green would it be because they don’t wear pink? Even if they are new never-wear-pink-ists?

Whatever the story turns out to be in truth, this man killed three innocents and that takes a special mind set. Sure, we all wish that this would never happen and a lot of us wish that atheists would never do such a thing but being an atheist doesn’t make you sane or morally good. The only thing that we can guess is that he didn’t kill them in the name of his god and the news is full of reasons for a nutjob to want to ‘take revenge’ or lash out at the people that cause them fear and anger. I’m not saying they deserved to be killed, because they didn’t as far as I know. I have no reason to think they deserved anything but kindness and friendship.

How many times can you chant and protest and proclaim ‘death to those that insult Islam’ before the crazies come out of the woodwork? Maybe now we know?

 

 

God Is Great?

So is macaroni and cheese.

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Wait, don’t run away. Let’s define a few things:

    1. (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.
2. (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.

Then there is great:

1. of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.
2. of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average.

That doesn’t really say much about the god of Abraham.

Did you notice anything about the definition of the word great? Yes, the word is a modifier for things which are measurable. The god of Abraham is not visible nor in any way measurably existent. Such a being or thing cannot be great. You might opine that I’m being a bit obtuse with the definition of great. I’m not. The god of Abraham is not great. The god of Abraham cannot be measured so to say that a god is great is to say that it is above average based on an opinion of what that god is rather than a measurement of what that god is.

Sure, some will argue that they know what their god is, but do they? How did they measure those values? Can they know the mind of their god? If they answer yes the question is how do they know the mind of a god? By what means? Are these means measurable, testable? For the very same reasons that the adherents of the Abrahamic faiths tell us that Zeus is a false god we can conclude that their YHWH is a false god. There are/were many gods which have many of the same supposed traits as the Jesus is said to have. How can he be great?

Without proof that a god exists that god remains nothing more than an idea. Just an idea. How is it that we measure one idea as being great? Well, we look at what measurable effects that idea has over others. Sliced bread was a great idea. Food canning was a great idea. Homogenization was a great idea. Doing cannon balls off the Brooklyn bridge was not a great idea.

Simply put, the god of Abraham is not great, cannot be great. If a god is not great why worship it?

The anecdotal evidence often supplied by believers for their god is no more effective than the wishful thinking of a sport team fan.

Sure, there is the claim that YHWH is omnipotent but there is no proof. There is the claim that YHWH is omniscient but there is no proof. There is the claim that YHWH is omnipresent but there is no proof. Without proof these are just claims with no more validity than those claims made of the flying spaghetti monster.

Okay, there is the argument that YHWH/Allah cannot be measure but remains great in the way that the ‘big bang’ was a great explosion. The ‘big bang’ as it is called left measurable effects where YHWH/Allah does not. Many will claim that god changed their life yet those life changes are not outside the expected capability of those that do not believe in a god so we cannot attribute those changes to a god. To attribute them to a god is to precisely say that such a god _IS_ average rather than considerably above average. God is not great.

Is Anti-Theism A Valid Position?

mephistopheles hesitant has a pretty decent post here in which they attempt to address, as a response, a post that was derogatory of anti-theists. I don’t want to go over the all of that territory as mephistopheles hesitant makes a fair go at it. I simply want to comment on some few sentences they used at the end. Their concluding paragraphs are below, complete, emphasis is mine.

The anti-theists have made a courageous engagement with questions about the place of religion in society. This is an important discussion that we need to have, not just because of Islamist terrorism and gay marriage, but because religious modes of thinking and being are part of our society and they compete in the marketplace of ideas. Anti-theists like to talk about religion as if it is a set of shackles from which we need to free ourselves. It is an extreme point of view, but we should acknowledge that some anti-theists sincerely want to help religious people to know that human beings are not inherently guilty, that we should not fear open questioning in the pursuit of truth, that you do not owe a cosmic debt—which you cannot physically or spiritually repay—to your Creator for a transgression you did not commit. Anti-theists are “spreading the good news” that you do not bear the mark of Cain or the stain of Adam. With this comes liberation and increased personal responsibility. If you commit an action so horrible that no person will forgive you, there is no hope of ultimate redemption. There is no second chance.

While they are not anti-anti-theist I take issue with some thoughts they have:

There are many shortcomings in the anti-theist arguments. They lack nuance. Mostly, they lack an understanding of the anthropology and sociology of religion. They’re not political science or psychology or philosophy experts, either. They’re informed citizens trying to open up dialogue about questions that matter. Is there purpose in the universe? Is there an afterlife? Is there an all-loving Creator? Do such beliefs, if false, serve any good purpose in the world? All theists have to do is actually defend their beliefs against criticism. That’s not asking much.

Now, don’t take offense at the anology but this is a lot like one of the Rabbi’s sitting down to dinner with Moses and trying to convince him that these Egyptian fellows really aren’t that bad and they deserve a more nuanced and civil discussion about the matter, and how being terse, impassioned, and sometimes angry really isn’t doing the Jews any favors. All the Jews have to do is defend their belief in freedom against tyranny. Maybe a couple of good debates or something?

I’m not anti-theist. It’s a mistake to believe ridding ourselves of religion is the only option, or the best option. It’s not practical, and people are right to sound the alarm bells of bigotry and intolerance. Anti-theists have so far been careful about walking the fine line of anti-theist and anti-Christian or anti-Muslim. GA42’s points are important to consider, because we know what happens when extreme views fall into the hands of the mob. We have to correct anti-theists when they characterize all religious people as “illogical” or “irrational” or “stupid.” We have to be wary of dogmatism and ideological homogeneity in our beliefs, theistic and atheistic.

Now, when you think this paragraph through it will make sense. Read it again, several times if you have to. What is being asked for here? Who is legislating thought crimes into law? Who is legislating oppression into law? Who is legislating theological thought into law? Don’t be bigoted toward the tyrants he asks. Interesting way of putting things. In the position of theology there is no central ground save perhaps for agnostics. A parley for compatibility is nothing less than asking the enemy to put their weapons down. We know how that works out in the effluence of human affairs. Yes, I’m sort of saying that any capitulation at all is complete capitulation. Despite the violence that religion reigns down on humanity this is not a war of attrition it is a war of ideas – once side fighting for complete dominance and the other fighting for a secular world with freedom of thought for all.

We can all improve our attitude, our tone of voice on the issue of religion. We’re perfectly capable of talking about religion without resorting to hostilities. We can have strong feelings about a subject and attack peoples’ ideas without attacking the person. Theists have long had a privileged voice in society, and my hope is that nonreligious persons will no longer feel afraid to express their beliefs openly. As obnoxious as the anti-theists are, they are affording us all the ability to be more public about our opinions on religion. We should thank them for that.

Anti-theists well can talk about religion without resorting to violence. It’s a position we’ve been forced to endure for many centuries because anything else meant death, often a horrible death. Some modern countries still have blasphemy laws that carry very harsh penalties and death. Anyone that forgets that has forgotten the lessons of war, of history, of humanity. We are still a very long way from living in a society where expressing atheist ideas is safe. To believe otherwise is to fail to understand this society at all. When it indeed is safe to talk about our thoughts on religion perhaps then it will be time to consider that more nuanced approach. Until that time theists are not deserving of a nuanced civil discourse. They will get it, but they are not deserving of it.

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.

Violence and Religion

Let me start this by quoting The Unassuming Atheist (emphasis added by me)

Were the Fort Hood and Charlie Hebdo murder sprees or Boko Haram massacres caused by Islam? Are the Central African murder sprees caused by Christianity? A yes answer is far too simple. But violence, tribalism, and mutually exclusive truth claims are built into in our sacred texts and traditions. As a consequence, religion around the world continues to disinhibit lethal violence at a horrendous rate. For us to vilify Muslims or Christians or any group of believers collectively is to engage in the familiar act of cowardice we call scapegoating. It means, ever and always, that we end up sacrificing innocents to appease our own fear, anger and thirst for vengeance. But for us to ignore the complicated role of religion in violence is a different kind of cowardice, one that has been indulged by peace-lovers among the faithful for far too long.

It doesn’t really matter how you slice it, to be fair it is necessary to state things in the manner above. Religion doesn’t cause violence but it damn sure disinhibits it. Wait, let’s rethink that. Religions and their holy texts actually call for violence and war. That religion and violence are connected so tightly is no accident. What the Unassuming Atheist is trying to say is that only batshit crazy people actually go through with the violence. All the sane religiously deluded people are too chicken shit to do what their holy books tell them to do. Wait, maybe they’re not True Christians or True Muslims or True Jews… who knew?

 

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For a group of people to tell me that they follow a book full of bat shit crazy violence and marching orders to kill those who do not believe but that their religion is not a religion of violence, that true-believers do not adhere to such things and that violent believers are just nut-jobs that have nothing to do with them is to piss down my back and try to tell me it’s raining.

Yeah, and the neo Nazi party is not anything to do with the original Nazi party, am I right? No, they have nothing in common. The Neo Nazis are peace loving political movement, not a violent genocidal group of whackjobs. You believe me when I say that, right?

Okay, so if you tell me your religion is the religion of peace and I can go to Google and find 100s of thousands of pictures of religious violence, violence created by believers, and violence created in the name of the deity I’m going to spit in your face. Yes, that’s offensive but it is also a proper response to telling me that monotheism is peaceful.

The Unassuming Atheist wants us to believe that religion simply does not inhibit violence. To a degree I’d be willing to agree with that. Humanity is a violent species but we did get it honestly. There was a large part of human history where live and let live was okay. There was enough land to keep us separate. The world is a much smaller place now. This is no longer possible and religious violence is no longer tolerable. Religion is no longer tolerable. Yes, it’s okay to say that. If religion was out busy trying to jail and punish the violent nut-jobs that are following their holy texts we might be able to forgive moderate believers. That is not what is happening and I can’t forgive them. Oh, sure, many of them have no clue what to do.

Well, here are a couple of clues:

  • Leave your violent religion behind. Just get out.
  • Condemn the violence with the strongest possible measures. Turn vigilante.
  • Start telling the public sphere who is right and who is wrong where violence is concerned. Be vocal. Make sure the world knows where you stand.
  • Then put your money where your mouth is – support those that hunt the violent ones down and kill them. Start spending your money on feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and so on.

When the pious can do this the world will gain. Humanity will gain.

Renounce the violence by punishing the violent people who claim your religion. Stand up, deliver, speak out. The longer that moderates remain quiet the more tyrannical the violent ones become. Weed your own gardens believers. Then, just maybe, we can believe that your religion is one of peace.

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