Posts tagged ‘atheism’
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I’m not really a people person. Like a lot of atheists (supposedly), I’m quite an outsider, as much of a hermit as I can get away with, in fact. I have never liked going out in crowds or socializing with large numbers of people. But I help run my local atheist group and am coordinator of the Morgantown Coalition of Reason.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I have realized something that I want to share with you. Even though I’m a curmudgeonly hermit-y atheist, I love going to the 3 atheist/freethinker/skeptical meetings we have every month. That’s 3 Sundays a month where I happily leave the house and go socialize with a small group of people. And I look forward to it. The one or 2 Sundays where we don’t meet I miss it.
Even people like me benefit from social community and contact. The beauty of the atheist/freethinker community is that we are relatively like-minded. We have a foundation of common ground. But we are also quite different, of course, which is good because that makes things interesting. The added bonus of freethinkers, skeptics and atheists is that we seem relatively level-headed (overall – there are exceptions, of course) and we argue and discuss matters with interest and fairness. No drama llama is invited! So it’s actually fun and mentally stimulating.
I think we all need some type of community, which is one thing that religion has in its favor that being a lone atheist or nonbeliever does not.
But this is easily remedied. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to get involved with a secular group of like-minded people. If none exist in your area, you can start one up…
It’s been two years since I finally admitted to myself that I was not struggling with doubt any more; I no longer believed in God. The creed below is what I can say with some confidence that I believe in today. I got a little silly with the language, and I did so on purpose, to help me remember to hold my new beliefs lightly. Feel free to argue, challenge or question me, or the entire concept of an unbeliever having “beliefs”. As for me, atheism only defines what we don’t believe in, leaving us a wide variety of beliefs we can still hold onto. I invite you to post your own beliefs in the comments.
Proposition 1: I believe that there is an objective reality; that what is, is; that a = a.
- Clarification of the above Proposition: I believe that what is, is neither as good, as bad, or even as easily defined or comprehended as it first seems.
- Corollary of the above Clarification: I believe that labels, like all nouns and symbols, are useful tools- if you remember they are not what actually is.
- Addendum upon previous three statements: I believe that observation, experimentation, reason, and logic are the best tools we’ve yet found to learn what actually is.
Proposition 2: I believe that actions have consequences.
- Corollary on Proposition 2: I believe that what we think, say, do, and choose matters.
- Conclusion drawn from above Corollary and previous Clarification: What we think, say, do and choose matters, but rarely in the manner we expect or intend.
- Corollary on above Conclusion and previous Addendum: We don’t really know what we’re doing, but that’s no reason not to do our best. Please refer to Corollary two statements previous.
Proposition 3: I believe that value is extrinsic.
- Addendum on Proposition 3: I believe that we attribute value through ritual and sanctification (blessing, or intentionally making sacred/holy).
- Corollary on Propostions 1 through 3: I believe that we create what meaning and purpose there is, and can, through changing our choices, change what meaning and purpose we create.
- Addendum on above Corollary: I believe that empathy, introspection and reason are the best tools we’ve found yet for choosing what meaning and purpose to create, and that the ethic of reciprocity (popularly summarized as the Golden Rule) is the best starting point from which to employ our empathy, introspection and reason, with special attention paid to the resources we have to draw on and the needs which we can fill (including, but not limited to, our own).
Overly simplistic, yet still valid Conclusion drawn from everything said thus far in this creed (much to my pleasant surprise): I believe in love.
- Quester with thanks to all the support, fellowship and inspiration I’ve received on this site over the past two years!
This year has been a bit disappointing for Santa believers. Fewer and fewer souls seem to be taking the Santa story seriously. Anti-santaists have been enticing young minds away from the Christmas magic that has been essential in the maintenance of a healthy society. They ridicule Santa as a myth, along with all the accompanying concepts that have given us warmth and comfort for all these years. They actually suggest that the notion of a Santa rewarding only “good” children is not necessary to rearing well-behaved children. They are constantly asking for evidence of our Santa, not understanding that there would be no magic if Santa was subject to scientific scrutiny.
If we are to save our Santa culture from this insidious secularism that makes mockery of our faith, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses, and adapt to the changing cultural climate. Here are a few suggestions.
- Place Santa out of the reach of science.
Some point to what they consider the absurdity of a voluminous man descending a narrow chimney and other mysterious aspects of Santa. Here are a few ways to deal with this form of persecution.
- Announce that Santa’s magic is far above human understanding. Santa, in his infinite magic, can fatten flues at will, create chimneys where there are none, and leave everything intact as if he had never descended from the roof at all. Ask the secularists how they even dare with their puny minds to question the magic of our Santa.
- Call problematic parts of the Santa story figurative. Suggest that the notion of “descending the chimney” is a metaphor of Santa’s intent. He actually may come through a window. What matters is that the presents are there in the morning. In doing this, never submit a standard for discerning between literal and figurative elements of the Santa story. That will make it convenient for you to choose which is which as aplogetics needs arise.
- Remind non-believers that, if the Santa story could be tested and confirmed, we couldn’t employ the faith that feeds the magic. Accuse them of not listening to the clear voice of Santa that each of us carries deep in our hearts if we only listen with open minds.
- Affirm the magic. Point out all the cases in which reindeer dung was found on roof tops. Suggest that any father who would simply throw dung on his roof in an attempt to create the illusion of a rangiferine landing would have to be either a lunatic or liar. The only sensible inference is that Santa’s sleigh had indeed visited your house.
- Belittle science and its tools. Point out that science is often wrong and is therefore not an appropriate method to assess the magic of Santa. Claim that statistics are a silly invention, and strongly affirm the idea that anything can be “proven” through statistics. The stronger you affirm this, the more true it will become. In this way, reports that suggest poorer (not misbehaving) children receive fewer presents can be dismissed. If secularists suggest this is not logical, claim that Santa logic is not the same as secular logic, but don’t bother explaining how.
- Suggest that science and magic fall into two non-overlapping domains. Declare that scientific methodology cannot assess the wonderment of magic. When asked about specific claims of Santaism that seem to fall within the reach of science, offer evasive permutations of the particular doctrine to make it impotent and thus unassailable. Fudging a bit on exegesis is forgivable if the net result is an increase in believers.
- Disparage the notion of belief based on “evidence”. This is becoming one of the most troubling issues that has already led to the apostasy of thousands. You’ll hear secularists claim that the degree of confidence in an idea should match the degree of the evidence. Where is the magic in that? Evidence only goes so far and is largely linear. How can belief be linear? Choose a side! Unless we go beyond the evidence with faith, we would be left saying “I don’t yet know” on many questions, a wholly unacceptable option.
In a classic case of irony, Christians tried to get the statement “No God, No Peace. Know God, Know Peace” to trend today on Twitter.
The result of this effort was the phrase “No God” became the #1 trending topic.
Please understand that atheists have been trying for months to get an atheist related topic to trend and this one was gifted to us.
“God” must be looking out for us :) Of course, I should note that the phrase really should be “Know God. No Peace. No God. Know Peace.”
- The de-Convert
- The originator of the initial tweet is reported to be @RevRunWisdom. Thanks Rev Run!!!!!
- We are officially declaring Oct 20th as “No God Day!” We’ll celebrate again next year.
- In an apparent attempt to slow the increase traffic to Twitter (lots of the “fail whale” page today). after trending all day as #1, the “No God” hashtag was removed from the trending topic list even though my tests show that it’s still the #1 trending topic. Then as a part of the cover-up, Twitter listed “no god” as being synonymous with “Know God” and displayed it as “Know God.” Of course, this is backfiring as there are now new cries of “CENSORSHIP!!!!”
- We were quoted in the Washington Post
So, I know I’ve said recently I wanted to get away from all of this, but I just couldn’t help but post this because I find it amusing…
It occurred to me today that probably the core loophole in all of theism is found in the inherent impossibility for God /gods to be described without assuming the universe already exists. Try it! (Friendly reminder, you can’t use any words that assume space and time exist. You know, core words like “in”, “outside of”, “before”, “beginning”, “pre-existing”, “incarnate”, “only”, etc.)
Consider one example: the phrase “God is three in one” or even “God is one”.
Apologist Dr. James White said in a recent debate: “numbers are a part of Creation itself”.
However, if God created numbers then it is idolatrous and irrational to use any numbers to describe God. If God did not create numbers yet has properties defined numerically, then a believer admits there is something more fundamental to reality than God.
Now, to help see how silly all this is, imagine how many people have been killed for not accepting the correct numerical description of God…
In talking with my wife once about my reasons for de-conversion, I set forth some very simple logic about why BibleGod could not be real. I basically said, “If the God of the Bible or Christianity is real, then there are certain, distinct traits about him that we can be sure of. Those traits have obvious and necessary outcomes. We simply need to look for those necessary outcomes. If we don’t find them, we are forced to conclude that the being we are discussing does not exist.”
Knowing the logic of this was unassailable, she derailed it all by saying, “That’s Enlightenment thinking. It’s all human reason as the ultimate. There are more things in the universe than what human reason can deduce.”
Of course the discussion was over then. Once someone takes logic and brains out of the discussion, there are no guidelines to go by. One can make up any specious claims and back it with tradition, “alternate thinking”, appeals to authority, or voodoo.
Of course I knew this was wrong “thinking”, but I needed a bit of time to think it through. Aside from the obvious problem of divorcing the only thinking organ we have in favor of …….. whatever, the big problem with the “That’s Enlightenment (or Humanist) thinking” approach is that it’s bogus. It’s not Enlightenment thinking. It’s just thinking.
Straightforward logic isn’t something humanity only came upon after the Middle Ages. It’s been around since we first starting hunting and using tools. It doesn’t take a post-Enlightenment, college-educated, westerner to think that way. A caveman could do it…