Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘atheism’

The antitheists argue from three areas of concern; the first is that of Truth, then proof and finally harm although I have not found anyone yet that speaks with intelligence that is simply attacking religion for the sake of doing so. It comes from deep concerning worry that religion is causing things to happen that would not be so justifiable without followers believing in versions of God and if the books of God has anything other than the divine to do about it then it always needs to be questioned. There are of course problems with the new atheist movement. Part of the issue has to do with the argument that I have often found myself in that people tend to look at the worst of religion and then make decisions about it, still I have found that this is as such is still a fair way of addressing the issues after all the support of religion appears to still grow. Those that support it are as much a problem as the more fundamental believers, if you believe in a certain level of religious belief then they support the irrational thinking at a certain level and this is the cause of the problems in the first place. No one is ever saying that moderate religious people are incapable of doing good things, this I suggest is because they are good people even if I disagree with the method of thinking of how to be good and this is not an admission that they don’t do harm by their belief, they do, just they don’t mean to! Humanism is the solution to our problems as I will later show, religion even as a pure force of good – is not. The four horsemen is a discussion involving some of the biggest names in the movement and you can watch it online for free. It is about two hours long but it covers all the issues that are presented by the books. Note that I use to term antitheist rather than atheist although I think it is a question of semantics rather than issue of difference in most intelligent people at least.

Read the rest of the post here: http://www.rationalunderstanding.co.uk/religion/a-short-introduction-to-the-rather-new-%e2%80%98atheist%e2%80%99-antitheists-movement/

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I don’t really understand why I am even having to write this post, still the subject keeps coming up in debates that religious people have with Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens to name a few, the disbelief is that some people consider this an argument against atheists when it clearly is not. The thing that really gets me is people also use the notion that Hitler had about the idea of “survival of the fittest” as demonstrating that science without religion can only lead to completely negative things. This is not true and please don’t for any moment consider what I am saying as support for the crimes the Nazi’s committed against all of us. Let’s first decide that the term atheist does not mean much at all, read my earlier post [https://therationalunderstanding.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/there-is-no-church-of-atheism-%e2%80%93-what-does-atheism-mean-with-the-help-of-sam-harris/], in short everyone is an atheist about something and Harris puts it right when he rejects this term. Just because you apply the term atheist to describe yourself it does not mean you belong to some sort of group, on the other hand if you are a catholic and you do certain things which are mostly justifiable because of that faith then you do belong to a group and the group should be held accountable. Ignoring the technical definition of atheist let’s just use the idea that it just means you don’t belong to a group as a working hypothesis, the only thing that atheists agree upon is the rejection of religion. I like to also consider what “science” means, for a start it is not an alternative belief system and there is no church of science. Although science can provide a reason to why religion is wrong, it does not aim to replace it as it deals with a completely different set of constructs. Although the rejection of the ideas of science and atheism in certain terms makes the point, what I want to argue is that rational understanding is the best way, something which includes the rejection of magic (religion) and unfounded ideas but includes in part accepting the tools of science as long as it is rational.

 

Did religion play any part in the final solution? It would be wrong to assume that just because Hitler rejected the Catholic Church as something very distasteful that it had nothing to do with it, after all he wanted to be the God so there was no need for any others, the centuries of discrimination towards Jewish people was a feature of religion. There are many reasons to why the regime came about but it must have not been helped by this, it actually becomes a justification in one of Hitler’s speeches about why the Jewish people are the cause of all known problems it ended in ‘… as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people’, he also cited Christian Love and the need to fight the Jews in the same speech (Cited in Letter to a Christian nation, Harris). It was yet another reason to why the politics of Germany could be helped by religion, has religion ever been outside politics? Well no this time, the Catholic Church agreed to make Hitler a saint upon his death and also ordered that on his birthday all churches in Germany to offer prayers for him. Why would the church care about the final solution since it achieved more in a few years than they had gotten done in centuries, it’s clear that between 40 & 50% of the SS, the ones that were responsible for the most killing and the final solution, were practicing Catholics none of them got kicked out of the church because of their part in such crimes. It is important to remember that Hitler was just one man and the SS were about 6 million strong, so the reason to why the Jewish people were considered subhuman thus making them not treatable as humans is in part due to the Church. The dogma helped to create the regime and their inaction against such a thing speaks towards what would have been the moral thing to do.

 

image.guardian.co.uk

image.guardian.co.uk

 

Were Hitler and the Nazis rational? The German archaeologists of the first part of the 20th century fronted the way offering new methods and massive advancements, still during the time when the Nazis were in power none of these scientists would dare speak out against the notion of the Arian race. Nazi racial theory believed that the Arian race were descendants of the lost city of Atlantis, the blonde blue eyed survivors were the pure race, Atlantis was destroyed when the earth went through its last cycle and the moon crashed into the earth. When it comes to science the evidence must support the theory, it did not and this moves the theory away from rational belief and towards dogma. There is also another side to the wrongful claim of science and that is the notion of “survival of the fittest” which is also claimed that Hitler in particular was thought to believe in strongly and which also went towards the racial theory. This is an assumption based on the idea that we are still subject to that rule, which we are not in most part. Humans have been outside of this natural law for a long time; we take care of our grandparents for example, even past the point where they don’t provide a use. Altruism is common enough and is also outside of this simple survival of the fittest model of explanation. From this we can conclude that racial theory is not rational at all, it’s based on assumptions and fear which is never a real reflection of things. Science is often seen as rational and powerful, still science means knowledge and this is useful when trying to understand other regimes. For example Hitchens argues that the people of North Korea are kept away from knowledge as this is dangerous to the leadership. The knowledge that the Nazis did not want people to know is that there are no genetic differences between groups of people. Neither true science nor rational thought played much of a part in the Nazis creation of racial theory.

The new atheist movement is not just about pointing out that religion is wrong it is also about inquiry, Sam Harris in a debate with David Wolpe said something which was very powerful; the sorts of regimes that cause endless suffering and death are not the result of vast inquiry rather none at all. So to point the finger at atheists blaming them for such regimes is wrong since it is not what the discussion is about, the atheist discussion is examination. Religion is closest to the regimes than it is to the inquiry provided by the new atheist movement, most religious people feel more comfortable about just accepting and using speculation rather than trying to find the real answers. There are lots of examples of this; one is that of Stem Cell research, people that argue that it is wrong are often concern for a small number of cells than about human suffering because they have not been through the inquiry that strongly suggests stem cells are just cells and don’t have a soul. Religion helped create the final solution, it certainly did not help to stop it and of course rational understanding is not promoted within religion. These are the reasons to why not only atheism cannot be criticised for such regimes and more guilt, although admittedly not all, can be placed upon religion. Last of all Dawkins puts it like this, such regimes are not performed in the name of atheism, and in fact they are done in the name of unchallenged belief. So it is up to us all to challenge the non-rational and that includes religion.

Read Full Post »

Oh dear - www.goma.demon.co.ukI will take five of the ten ideas that were presented by Dave Jones in one of his YouTube videos, link is at the bottom, and I would like to do something different with them. The video is about how not to attack atheists so you can enter into a discussion rather than leaving it at that, it works much better into why no one should ever respect the religious arguments that are so often pushed towards us. Sticking with Christians and Muslims is useful as they are the two main groups to which we often find objection with, plus they are guilty of pretty much the same sorts of errors. Let’s assume that extremists often those that would also be called fundamentalists are unable to think for themselves through political coercion, brainwashing or simple craziness. It is the moderates that have the ability to think for themselves. Although this is comfortable it is not really true, I would rather just focus on moderate religious people and although this whole topic is part of a much larger discussion Dave Jones made me react and consider a slightly different approach. After getting some feedback on the things I have written, it does start to frustrate me after a while since I have to keep returning to the same points over and over again, as being religious appears to just mean that you have no ability to understand anyone else that does not think the same way as you do. I was also going to describe my feelings as hate although I want to make it clear that I don’t hate people, I do hate their beliefs which is completely different. Someone might be a kind, intelligent person who cares for their family and friends; I can accept this although it does not really come from religion at all. You might think it does but it does not. Ok, why don’t I like moderate religious people?

The Holy Book – the use of such books are taken to mean so much, in the critics of evolution they are often used as points of reference to which something is meant to suddenly click and the whole thing makes sense. It does not stop at what Jones argues being that nonbelievers don’t accept the holy books as God’s word, it goes further if we all make the assumption that it is then the implications are very clear. Either we have to stop learning more about the place in which we live or we have to do things that are immoral. I do go on about dinosaurs a lot; I am not really a fan still if the word reptile is meant to also include dinosaurs and this is the only mention of it in the bible, what we can take from that devalues what we already know, in the process ignoring it. Put this another way if you think that the post hoc explanation of reptiles on Noah’s Ark explains anything then you are just denying the right to access knowledge that does not agree with this, you will learn less just from one word than a body of research & theory. This is where the frustration is; partly as so much is ignored and secondly as so much is easily dismissed without consideration. The immoral refers to possible justifiable acts that holy books allow for and that is no account for the lack of intellectual honesty when using references, there are parts of all the holy books that mention depraved actions towards other humans if you never address them that makes you dishonest on all things.

Faith – it seems to be the less something has the evidence to back it up then the more faith that is required and therefore, the greater the weight belief becomes. It is like saying the less I know something for sure the more important the role of personal feelings have to become. This is just a ridiculous stand point to argue from, there is no reason to why your personal feelings should be given any weight at all, no one can check them and it is as equally possible first you had some basic understanding of religion and later personal feelings to back it up. Likewise the perspective that you must have faith in order to understand just creates a circular argument that never gets anywhere; no one should just believe stuff. The situation is often the other way around there is a lot of evidence that just does not agree with religion so why does anyone believe it; it is clear that religion does not work and is not true. The example of Stenger is useful; God is seen as transcendent, meaning he is outside of space and time still God is also omnipresent meaning that he exists everywhere – there is no way in which these two things can be true. The conclusion is that just because someone claims faith all that means is they have a personal feeling and feelings should never be something which are acted upon without anything else being there to back up those feelings, especially when the consequences are so serious. Having faith means you have accepted something because you have been told to; this is a major fault of character.

Evil concepts – all religions see certain groups as sub-human and not like the rest of us, for example Islam thinks that women should be treated like animals with their only goal to do things for men. A lot of Muslim people have commented that they respect ‘their women’, it is clear that your respect and disrespect are very much alike. Let us mention other people; it is clear in Islam that one difference is the only determining factor on how we treat them never mind what is the right thing to do or not. This I suggest is an evil concept, so is Hell I mean after all the guilt that catholic’s use over the death of Jesus they still have to blackmail with the threat of going to hell. If there was anyone that I would describe as evil it is mother Teresa, ignoring her inaction on treating the ill with medical care, she went around the world telling women that they had no choice. Surely if any woman wanted to have an abortion or use birth control it should always be up to them and it should never settle on others opinions. People promote the idea that religion is good when it is clearly never good at all; this is the most frustrating thing I have come across since it serves to simply create a distraction of the real issues that religious people support by their inaction to challenge.

The attack of atheists – the situation in America is very disturbing. It does not stop there though after all there are decisions that are being made based on religious grounds. If religion is never proven to be correct how can such directed decisions offer the right choice. This often leads to agenda based seeing; there everything is put into context of religious perspective removing the necessary debate about important issues. Often atheists are forced to defend their position once they put real issues forward, this creates noise and distraction. There is also the implication that somehow an atheist is someone that should not be trusted, at least we explain our position and will listen to a constructed argument against the things we believe in. This leads to the next issue…

Threats and insults – religious people often demand respect for their belief, even if they don’t show it back, they just don’t understand the objections are real. Too often I have seen threats mostly from Muslims, not exclusively; this just creates a reinforcement of things that are already known. The Danish cartoonists were simply demonstrating their opinions and how do people react, they beat them down and create violence, is there any wonder about the western view of Islam as just a group of violent people? Then others have to suffer in silence with their opinion as it might cause offense, Islam causes me offense in the first place! Christians that present intelligent design wonder why others see them as stupid; it is because they reject their own intelligence. They are insulting all of us when they expect us to believe something which they made up and then demand respect for. If you want to threaten or insult then go and do that somewhere on your own, if you want to create meaningful discourse then please go ahead. There appears to be an enemy of the week sometimes, there is an outcry for people just expressing what they think which is dealt with by violence, threats and insults. Are Muslims so scared of others that don’t think like them they need to resort to this? Those that do these things are more often than not scared and trying to convince themselves of what they say is right.

I want to keep coming back to this point; religious belief has serious consequences so if religion has anything other than the divine to do about it, then we must closely look at religion. If religious people are just left with metaphysical feelings then, it is religious people that need to be worried about faith and they should never interfere with the rest of us. Rather than stating there is no ‘truth’ behind religion, it tries to promote itself as truth and that is dangerous as well as a lie. Just because a religious person believes something is true, even if it is a strong feeling they do demand others should just accept this, why should anyone accept religion as true? I cannot remember who said this; religion is a prime example of a thing above evolution in action, it has won and keeps on winning even if it no longer works. Moderate religious people are the ones that are keeping it alive even though it is something that we should let die. What use, what point does religion serve anyone anymore? I am not taking away people’s hope here, if you are an adult then you are big enough to know the truth and I don’t understand what you are hoping to gain. Does it really matter if gay people become priests, are they not just people? Should ‘gay’ be before a person, I don’t think so. We have gone too far just to allow religion to simply rip us up again and anyone who is scared of a religion free society, then they should never fear, they are safer and better places. Religion has had its time and it failed! Now let us move to something that really does work…

Dave Jones YouTube Video – http://youtube.com/watch?v=oRGziCZSV_Q

Related post – https://therationalunderstanding.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/do-we-need-to-read-understand-the-bible-the-koran-or-the-torah-in-order-to-understand-religion-or-have-an-opinion-on-it/

Read Full Post »

Dawkins
I arrived at this debate whilst it was still going on, the new atheist movement had already started going through the motions before I picked up my copy of the God delusion and the debate about lack of evidence of God has been going for hundreds of years. My life prior to the God Delusion, the book that is not my belief in God, had never really involved anything to do with religion to much extent or so I thought. However, after reading just half of the book I started to notice the things what were going on with a new kind of light such as suicide bombers, the conflict in the middle east, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the horrible & nasty things Muslims were doing to other Muslims in Iraq, these things really started to worry me even though they felt distant. This anxiety and worry did not stop there as I carried on reading; in fact I read almost everything I could get my hands on including news paper articles and watching recorded lectures on the subject. To my horror the threat of religion to me started to become so much clearer not just to me either, to all of us the role and place of religion is so intertwined with social norms, our laws and methods of daily living that if religion has anything other than the divine to do with it then we should all be very apprehensive.

So that left me the question; is there anything other than the divine about religion? So I came up with this, Christianity and Islam are very different, they have different laws and boundaries, so if I assume that one of these is right and one is wrong, how do I tell which is the correct religion. Both of these religions pretty much state that nonbelievers should be killed, this is taken from God’s word of either the Bible or the Koran, although conversion is also an option. If one is that of the divine and other a pack of lies, how would God direct me to make the right and noble choice? I feel a general level of distaste towards both of them really and this brings me to the most fundamental point I have ever considered – why do people never seem to really benefit from praying to the correct God and suffer from worshiping the one that happens to be wrong? I am of course, not a God, though I think that I would just at some point say that is enough I am going to give my true followers some weapon, ‘cause I don’t really want to get my hands dirty, which will help them kill off all the nonbelievers, that will be an end to all the fighting and everyone will know where they stand. The response to that by catholics at least is that God needs us to suffer and return that information in order to add towards the knowledge of God, still unless God has some serious special needs that information has already been served and what else can we take from that other than God wants us all to suffer in the most horrible manner possible.

I personally cannot tell the difference between a religion of the divine and the others that are just a pack of lies and no one has ever offered to take me on the journey of demonstrating the divine. There is no evidence of divine, other than some emotional reaction to the world and if all the things I mentioned at the start such as conflicts and attacks did not come from the divine then we need to attack the systems that allow these things to happen. This is the first justification to attack religion. The next justification is taken from Steven Pinker’s study on violent crime, I have used Pinker’s work before, this time it is about the things that we feel compassion towards and how we started to care for others. He used it in terms of why violent crime has been reduced, part of this is due to the circle of expanding empathy, first we only care about our family and others are seen as non-human. It expands over time to include clans, nations, races, both sexes, animals and so on. Each time the circle expands it includes greater numbers of people to whom we then consider the realm of their potential pain and suffering (Peter Singer). In essence we consider the possibility that we could be outside the circle and as a result probably suffer in this event and this changes how we approach & deal with others that are not like us. I carry this on to include people that happen to be born into religious families or societies; I can understand and empathise with them about the possible suffering they might have to endure. If religion causes harm then it is right to attack religion for this.

It is both very easy for me to state religion causes harm and also very difficult, the difficulty comes because often people will disagree with the statement choosing rather the idea that they only benefit. Part of the problem is that once people have purchased into a religion they don’t want to feel that their personal effort, time and suffering is simply the result of their own wrongness and large parts of their life has been wasted. Much like when Marxists argue that the capitalist revolution won’t happen as most people have already brought into the capitalists game, such as owning a house or having money, so they are unwilling to lose that even though they would ultimately benefit in the long run. I will not insult your intelligence here at least half, for a safe bet that is, of all religious activity can be seen as causing harm. The fact that stem cell research might be disallowed in America as the result of a religious debate would harm millions of people in the future who suffer from presently incurable diseases, it is perfectly acceptable to have the stem cell debate based on science and morality not that of religious morality since the law in America forbids this. If governments make decisions based upon their religious convictions this is wrong, it should be decided on by rational thinking and acceptable standards that society as a whole confirm with in an honest presentation of the information. The suffering that religious people could cause to others is great. In Pakistan a blind girl was sentenced to be stoned to death for being a victim of rape, in the end after much suffering and public humiliation she was acquitted, this suffering was the result of women being considered second class and thus outside the circle of compassion in Islam. Religion causes suffering, the humanists try to stop it and this is why attacks upon religion are justified. I care about others suffering and I want to see an end to it.

There are of course religious people that are kind and also humanists this leads me to the next justification, which is the power that is handed over to officers of religion, be it priests or whatever. I have already written about how a Muslim cleric, in my post about Karen Armstrong’s case for compassion gone wrong, that claimed that the polio vaccine was a plot against Islam and this resulted in 2005 in another outbreak and the deaths of children. Why did this happen and for that matter why did the rape of children occur within the Catholic Church by priests? Why are the only people in the UK that are allowed to make public hate speeches about Jewish people and gay people Muslim clerics? Why is the choice of contraception taken away from women who would have under the concept of equal rights be would allowed to choose for themselves? It is at some point that people have handed over their freedom and allowed the officers of religion to have it. You could counter my argument that these officers reflect God’s word; it is however, a false statement to make since God’s word is never all that clear in the first place. It is God’s word to stone children if they talk back to their parents, this as far as I know does not happen in Christian societies which leads me to believe that either the officers made the choice this is unacceptable in which case morality of nonbelievers is greater than that of God or they have made the decision that other matters are more important and that if they try to convince parents of this they are likely to lose them for their other causes. If this is the case why do we allow these officers to tell us what to do in any situation? If you see it like I see it, these officers are not from God but from their own greed for power or money or both. This is why it is justifiable to attack religion.

I fear that this is the point where most will start to strongly disagree with me, let me explain the last point but perhaps in a somewhat clearer way. I have often come across the situation where people claim that God will save them. What I think is happening here is either the event they are going through is either at no point controlled by them, which makes it somewhat understandable or the situation appears to be too difficult for people to deal with. Relying on God to save me, how disempowering is this notion? To accept that God is the only force in the world that could change the events in your life leaves people powerless. I have written about this in one of my earlier posts, the empowerment of people is one of the most important things anyone can do whether this means women taking their power back from men or everyone taking back power from God. As soon as people do this the world becomes a better place and a place were more good things happen than bad things. I remember a Fr. Benedict Groeschel telling this story, it is not word for word but the general direction is the same. There was going to be a great flood and this old couple said to each other, ‘don’t worry God will save us’, so they stayed in their home. The police asked them to go with them to get them out of danger; still the couple ignored the police because they thought God was going to save them. The flood waters started to rise; the fire people came along in their boat and tried to get the couple in the boat and away from danger. Still they refused to leave because they thought that God was going to save them. The flood waters got higher and the couple had to climb onto the roof, then a rescue helicopter came along and the crew tried to get the couple off the roof, still they refused because they thought that God would save them. The flood waters got higher and the couple died! When the couple got to heaven they asked God why he let them die and God replied, ‘you fools, I sent the police to take you to a safe place but you refused. Then I sent the fire service to get you out of the flood waters, still you refused. Last of all I sent the rescue helicopter in my last attempt to save your lives but again you refused. What fools you are!” I could not help thinking the moral of the story was wrong; God took credit for the people’s actions. It was not God rather the police officers, the fire service and the crew of the rescue helicopter who all took part because they were compassionate people that wanted to make the world a better place. How dare God take that away from people? I will vote on the side of empowerment and this is the justification for my attack on religion. It’s proven that people can make the world a better place.

 

To start off with I did talk about the idea of truth, as in there is no evidence to suggest that there is a correct religion, this issue could be explored for pages, I won’t though. A lot of religious speakers point to a lack of intellectual honesty on behalf of those that speak against there being a God, this situation is the wrong way around. An example of this is when Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said in a debate with Christopher Hitchens that circumcision is good since many HIV infected countries are considering it in order to prevent the disease spreading. The argument was ha ha you see circumcision of babies is a good thing; this lacks intellectual honesty, since the reason behind religious circumcision is not the prevention of being infected with HIV it is for other reasons. If circumcision is argued for other reasons then it must be for those arguments which are dealt with when talking about this issue, to side line into other arguments is wrong. It is like me trying to make a bomb to destroy an entire country and in the process creating a free source of energy, no one can deny the benefit of my discovery of free energy but to claim that it was always my intention to do so is not from intellectual honesty, it is a lie, I was trying to create a massive bomb that would kill millions in one go. This is the type of dishonesty that goes around and is presented by religious speakers, dinosaurs on the Noah’s ark is an example of post hoc quick thinking that religious people try to teach as fact. Let me say when I was young and I learnt about Noah I certainly never made any paintings with dinosaurs on his ark. For this reason it is justifiable for me to attack religion.

These are my base reasons for why I attack religion and I have found that most in the atheist movement have similar concepts or combinations of these reasons. Dawkins is very much based on the idea of truth whereas Hitchens is very much based on the idea of religion doing harm. The motive for the attacks on religion is not based on the notion that we should simply attack religion, there are reasons and at the heart of those reasons is a deep caring for others.

Read Full Post »

I have said this before, it is actually pointless to argue with religious people about how their religion is wrong since this will never really convince them into change and you will put all that energy in only achieving a complete waste of your time. So this post is not addressed to those religious people rather those that are either non-believers or those that are not closely affiliated with what they are meant to believe as believers. In other words this is the guide to how atheists will take over the world; this is most likely how religion will be slowly removed from the societies that we live in. Using these points of reference might take a long time but I assure you that, although it might take as long as trying to convince religious people to give up, it will work (most likely) and you will end up making the world a better place in the process. Plus you won’t have to talk and argue until you get to the point that arguing with a whole new set of people without thinking about how your responding to them becomes normal because they are saying the same thing over and over and over again. At no point is violence used!

Should religion ultimately disappear? Yes! I read on the apostates of Islam, which is a group of ex-Muslim believers, that Muslims are the main victims of Islam. This is an interesting point and it also is true, it is Muslims that are dealt with unjustly within Islamic Law and it is them who suffer from the “false doctrine of hate and terror”. The terror is well known by the women of Islam! Christianity is based on an evil book, if you think that the bible is God’s word then you have to accept the bible as God’s word you can’t pick from it, even the bits where it says killing and raping are justifiable. In God’s word it is fine to kill those that deny god, are homosexual, talk back to their parents and pickup sticks on the Sabbath. They want to kill me for my lack of belief and all I want is them to listen to me for a change. Certainly the concept of hell and the guilt of Jesus has never anything to do with the divine. There are other religions and they each have their own reasons for logical objection, feel free to add them for me. Pascal’s Wager is the idea it’s better to believe in God even if reason can’t prove that God is real as you will in the end not lose anything. That is not true, you do lose out by belief and so do a lot of other people, this is not a new perspective on Pascal’s Wager I admit. Steven Pinker’s study on violent crime showed a massive drop at the time of Enlightenment, the period were religion suffered the most in Europe and it’s from this period of history we can learn how to remove religion across the world making it a safer place in the process.

 Image from www.martinfrost.ws

Step one – The tolerance for others opinions and belief structures! This might sound like a very stupid thing to say, especially when the idea of tolerance never really comes up in the new atheist movement, still remember that the more you allow for tolerance the more likely the atheist idea is allowed to grow. Without each of us having our own belief & respecting each other then it leads to the road of closing off all communication which is something that would harm science and atheism. During the Enlightenment once people had got fed up with conflict between different religions, people simply allowed others to believe what they wanted and this allowed for non-believers to have the breathing room that was necessary. In Julia Sweeney’s letting go of God, she makes a point by telling us of what her father said when she came out as a non-believer; her father said “why could you just not be gay!” It is funny how being an atheist or non-believer can be worse than being gay, still it shows us about the level of tolerance that is currently out there. This does provide a very big problem though, as atheists and non-believers we have to also show tolerance back, this does not mean acceptance at every level, we can question even though we cannot allow ourselves to become confrontational all the time. Confrontation only allows people to move away from us and what we want is people to come closer and ask us more questions so we can share the things that we have learnt. There is no chicken or egg question here, first tolerance and then atheism. This is a two way approach of course still at a practical level rather than simply attacking religious people demand tolerance and teach them about why we don’t believe. Demand respect for your non-belief and also respect other people’s views.

Step two – the idea of Social Justice! In America this idea is not very well used, it works in Europe and other English speaking countries like Canada for example, it might work well in other countries that I am not aware of. If we start taking care of each other, providing free health care, education and many other things then it is more likely that the need for religion is reduced. Sweden is a great example of this, it has a low crime rate and a healthy population, the level of non-belief is up to 85% depending upon the study used. I am not suggesting that there is a link between religion and crime (or anything else) religion does not create those things, it does tend to disappear when people’s lives are improved. Matthew Chapman describes the current situation as very bad in some societies, the church is the only place where people can go in order to experience community and it is also the only place where people can show care for others without being considered socialists or liberals. Just because it can only happen within the church never means that is a reason to why the church should never be challenged on other grounds. He does not say this is about America as a point of reference, I do rather consider his opinions about the land of the free, the richest nation on the planet, the one of only few that are so rich but consider each other’s needs so inadequately. So what can we learn from this? Taking care of each other is not only a worthy goal it also means a better, more rational society, this will push religion to the fringes as it will mean the need for it is reduced and only belief is left. When religious people only have belief left, let them decide for themselves and if Europe is any example the level of atheism will increase quickly.

Step three – empowering every person on the planet! I could simply state here that if you feel that you cannot achieve the first two steps then you have already given up, never give up and if you think that your efforts cannot make a difference ask yourself, did you try at all? Just because something appears too difficult it does not mean that it is impossible. Still this is not what I wanted to discuss in step three, I will leave it to Christopher Hitchens to make an interesting point. Hitchens said in one of his many attacks on mother Teresa that she was never a friend of the poor she was simply a friend of poverty. He of course means many things by this but one thing I noticed through his attack was that she after being given a lot of money never actually help the poor get out of poverty, rather the journey that was made was just dealing with the end result. She was given millions of dollars most of which was not spent on the poor at all; the point was that rather than empowering the poor she conceded to clear up the mess. Whether she even did that is debatable! We must empower women to make decisions about abortion for themselves, we must empower teachers to teach evolution, we must empower societies to allow them to determine their own laws, the more we empower people the better society will be. I have heard that empowering women is the most important step after all religion perhaps within every context treats women as the second class of humans. I don’t really know how to go about this, but start with your own life and then try to work outwards.

How do I know that this is true? Well it has already happen in some parts of the world and let’s be honest the difference between us are not really that great at all. Tolerance is an interesting thing, it something that has to be worked on and the next generation always seem to understand much more than their parents. Who does not want universal health care free to all? Other than those the benefit from such a system, since there are only few of them that makes the rest of us in a stronger position to change what is going on. There is no excuse for anyone to not demand universal health care free to all and not get it in America. I am not American and I do have universal health care free to all in my country, if it ever was removed I would burn down parliament. It’s a human right not a luxury. If you are against it then you cannot call yourself moral in any respect. I did not want to get political then but everything I say is political, so I can’t help it! Empowerment is difficult to achieve, maybe someone telling another they have a choice whether they can be a catholic or not, is enough to give them a chance to become an atheist. We can empower children by giving them a very useful skill, as well as a very easy one to teach – critical thinking! Religion one day will end and when that day comes I don’t think that it will be scary at all. I think there will be peaceful joy and the knowledge that the things we do while we are alive are so important we better do them right.

A little more on this matter…

 friendlyatheist.com

I have mentioned Pat Condell before and on his website it clearly states that he does not respect your beliefs! See earlier post: https://therationalunderstanding.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/pat-condell%e2%80%99s-christian-and-islamic-comments-and-the-feedback-he-gets/. Since atheism is not a belief system I don’t consider that Condell’s views as coming from a person within my group. I do understand why he is saying what he does but it is difficult to see why it is helpful to those that share his views on religion. In fact a lot of the websites about atheism that I have come across never practice what they hope to achieve, in order for people to understand why religion is at fault it needs to be explained in such a way that it does not form a personal attack from the start. Do people like Pat Condell think that their confrontational style really helps in their goals? It does not! We are just the same as those religious people if all we do is tell others they are wrong, we need to be better and explain why we think differently. I did find a blog called the friendly atheist, this is the best blog I have found so far and in particular the post titled “The Four Cs of Atheism”, it gives us a set of wonderful rules! http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/06/03/the-four-cs-of-atheism/ I will end on this note: we are all perhaps guilty of producing statements that we know will get attention, the point is once we get people’s attention we need to use it a lot better.

 

Read Full Post »

//scienceblogs.comFirst of all let me initially describe the position that I have found myself in many times, people describe me as an atheist! Actually, let me also be honest I have described myself as that as well, still I have never really subscribed to the church of atheists so I don’t really know why I got there. When people say it though I get the impression that somehow my perception of the world is altered slightly since I then have the agenda of the atheists which gets in the way of me understanding the world. When I was younger I was not really a strong Christian nevertheless I kind of understood that there was a God and a bloke called Jesus who was a good guy that suffered in his own way. At this level let’s be frank they are not the same sorts of things, I never learned how to be a good atheist or had to go to a special place in order to increase my general understanding of the thing that I don’t believe in. This is the key word; believe, since I rejected the notion of Christianity I simply stopped believing in that kind of God, non-belief is very different to that of belief in many ways. Rejecting the notion of Jesus simply means that I no longer believe that the stories of his life are anything other than stories. So when I come to make my decisions in life whatever Jesus said or did is never really all that important. I often hear about girls asking ‘what would Jesus do?’ and that leading them to rejecting sex before marriage. I did some research and found out girls (young women) that make that pledge more often than not only delay sex for 18 months and then since they are never taught about contraception, I assume because people think that they won’t have sex, end up pregnant and with more sexual transmitted diseases than the average population. Whereas atheism would never lead to such a universal pledge by young girls, Christianity would, that is the fundamental difference between the two.

Let me go back to what religious people mean when they say atheism; it is almost the suggestion that the poor atheist has a mental refusal at every level to accept what they are saying about God is true. It’s like they say ‘of course god exists’ and then all of a sudden expecting everyone else to agree with them. This mental refusal is not really the case since there is only the refusal to listen to the argument that there is a god because you say so again and again, it gets a little boring and it is never based on anything more than a simple proposal. I will listen to any argument as long as it appears to be true, I can make an assessment from things I can experience in the world and second, it can withstand influence from a different perspective. No atheist will ever be able to demonstrate that there is not a God, at least as far as we can understand the universe at the moment; it is however, possible to make an assessment of the affects your God has on the world.

Perhaps a second meaning of atheism is that it rejects the whole notion of God, this is not the case as it would be impossible to argue for most atheists, rather the rejection comes towards certain ideas or concepts of God. There might be a God, as an atheist, this acceptance does not include the versions of God determined by Islam, Christianity, Hindu, Jewish or other religions. An atheist rejects religious accounts of God; there could be a God just not the one that has been created. Albert Einstein who although was brought up in the Jewish religion never accepted a religious God, although he still claimed that God was behind the universe with the definition that God was simply nature and its governing laws.

The last account of atheism that I have come across is the idea that atheists are somehow more intelligent since the religious followers are just a bunch of stupid people that will believe anything. Once again I am speaking to the atheists here, I have met some really stupid atheists and I can assure you that this does not mean atheism is equal to intelligence. If any atheists assume that only stupid people follow religion then you are undermining your own intelligence on the matter. To say that you are an atheist never means the same thing, you could reject most sorts of Gods or not, it’s not about denying believe based on the atheist’s religion and by all means atheists are not the ones who have worked something out that religious people have yet to do.

To paraphrase Sam Harris everyone is pretty much an atheist about something, if you don’t believe in the fairies at the bottom of my garden you are an atheist. If you are a Muslim and you don’t think the Christians are right, then you’re an atheist. If you call yourself a Pagan and you don’t believe that the Muslims are right, then guess what, you are also an atheist! Sam Harris argues that the word atheist is not necessary and in fact it can turn out to be something bad. To start off with Harris suggests that there is not a non-racist organisation out there which is in fact a correct stand point, it’s wrong for atheists who seem to identify each other by the name, since atheism is not a philosophical perspective and by keeping our atheist name it means that we are migrated to the margins rather than the mainstream. There is also the burden that comes from such label, after all if someone is calling them self a Christian then they have to justify their position, if we go around calling ourselves atheists we then also have to justify our position and that is dangerous for two reasons, it means that we are talking more about atheism than why religion is getting things wrong and it sets up a position to which we can be attacked. In essence Sam Harris is arguing that ‘atheism’ is not the correct or useful term to label non-believers with, it creates more problems than it is worth. I do have a suggestion though, when you get into discussions about religion and someone asks you if you believe in god, simply state – what do you mean by God? This pushes the burden back to the religious believers and allows us to avoid the atheism label.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ok2oJgsGR6c  – Sam Harris in this 2007 AAI address on the subject, although I sometimes don’t follow what Harris is saying he is always insightful.

 

A little more on this matter…

www.churchofatheism.co.uk

I read a little more about atheists in someone else’s blog and I really did find it interesting, at first glance it looks like a valid point even though it does go against the idea that non-belief is not actually a belief. I wanted to add it because after thinking about it a little more, you can actually see their point. There are these soft atheists and then there are hardcore atheists who rather than simply having no believe they have adopted a set of beliefs that are against the very idea of God. These hardcore atheists have a belief system, I think they need to be called something else perhaps members of the church of atheism. Even though I think this is only a small number of people. Have a read of their blog….

http://murderofravens.org/2007/10/04/what-i-learned-from-the-atheists/

Read Full Post »

* This is not the original video but it has the same gist

I have already done the Christians so it is only fair that I comment about this Muslim man as well. Mr Zakir Naik makes me very angry in so many ways; I don’t recognise his Dr as he does not deserve it. He might be a doctor but someone only deserves that honour when they are not so faulty in their understanding of the world. This man is not in the real world and once again the agenda that he is trying to present is more than clear. I will once again put the general statements in blue with my reaction afterwards. Watch the video before you read the comments, even if it’s only for the first couple of minutes or you will not understand my reaction to it.

Rape should first be dealt with by men averting their gaze, and then covering women up and finally Capital punishment. America should adopt Islamic law to stop rape. – Let me say that this is messed up in all respects, to start off with a logic problem; Naik argues that America suffers from more rape victims than countries with Islamic law like Pakistan. The population of Pakistan is 164 million; the population of America is 301 million so of course there are going to be twice as much of everything because there are almost twice as many people. Pakistan is a country where women can be sentenced to gang rape for a brother’s crime (cited in Hitchens – god is not great and here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4322021.stm). Rape Victims are the ones who are punished for being rape against their will, they did nothing wrong (cited here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0DE6D81E39F934A25756C0A9649C8B63). They don’t listen to rape victims because it is against Islamic law (cited here: http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/006808.php) Why would women report being raped when they could suffer not only under the protection of the state but also punished for it by their society? They would not and this means that the level of reported rape in Pakistan is not a true reflection of rape that occurs.

Women should not be forced to cover up; if men are the ones that rape women then it is men who need to be forced to do things not women. Since we have already discussed why women covering up, as is required in Pakistan, does not stop rape it should never be used as a method of prevention. If you want to make the case for women covering up then don’t base it on these grounds. As for capital punishment he is wrong, America also performs this act against its people. The problem with it, is that it is clear that capital punishment does not work, so if the reason for capital punishment is to get your own back on people that have wronged you then it should be accepted, if you think that it stops crime then there is a body of evidence that goes against this. I don’t want to over cite the evidence, still it is the case from a large body of research. I think that it is wrong but that is my personal opinion. So would I rather live in America where rape is a crime and the state/society punishes the person committing the crime? Or would I prefer to live in Pakistan where the issue of rape is hidden, not discussed and ultimately not dealt with? The answer is America.

Islam is the best way of life; Islamic law achieves good things – See above! I am not saying that Muslim people cannot do good things but at its core, Islamic law does not protect good people. Zakir Naik is not doing a good thing here on the grounds that the more time & energy there is in moving away from the truths of an issue the less time & energy we spend dealing with the issues that we as societies need to address. I will simply say here that if the statement “Islamic law achieves good things” is true, then we only need to find one event where it does not achieve good things for the statement to be proven false. I have given the evidence that proves this statement false. I can accept that Islamic law can achieve good things sometimes, but that is a completely different statement and has a completely different meaning to what Naik illustrates for us.

Atheists have become atheist because they believe in science and technology – Umm… No! After Naik’s statements about atheists he goes on to talk about how science is represented in Koran, that is a different debate although I will acknowledge those fact as being true, I don’t have evidence to say it is wrong at this time. I don’t agree with his idea of science and the use of his metaphor of creation. Still speaking as an atheist, even though I don’t speak for the group, I never became an atheist because of science and technology. I rejected religion because I believe it is not true, it does little to explain things in the world. I rejected religion because it does harm, so many things have been done in the name of religion to which religion never has to answer for. I reject religion not because it has been replaced with science and technology but personal experience and reason. To be an atheist is not to accept science, atheism does not equal science. To be an atheist does not mean you believe in evolution. Atheism is non-belief and it should never be confused with belief of anything non-religious. Atheism is the rejection of theology, Evolution is a scientific theory.

These are the reasons why Zakir Naik is wrong and why he does not understand the world.

Read Full Post »