Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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 »

This is a rewritten version of an earlier post –

These three phenomena cover a wide array of activities and beliefs but share the same broad sense that they break away from what could be considered to be ‘natural’ and move towards trying to produce or support events that cannot be explained unless there is an unsupported theory behind the curtain. They use a selection of common defences in order to make sure of their own continuation, these are claims that are often made outside of the sorts of other logic and reasoning that perhaps every other part of our lives are subjected to. If I were to claim that I was in fact the best stock broker in the world (I know that in these times of financial melt down that most likely is not a difficult claim to make) then you would expect me too to back it up with at least something. If however, I were to claim to have the ability to speak to a family member of yours who has died, if I were really good at reading you and had been through some sort of education which might include Barnum statements & showmanship, I could actually make you believe that I was doing it. Based not on my actual ability but because you are vulnerable (primed even) and you were brought up in a society where even the slight possibility of these things being real means something to you! These three things which I will refer to as general superstitions rely on at least these five common defences that have to be in place or they will simply fail. There are two wider questions; are such superstitions true (the answer is no) and why do they even exist at all, of course these have very complex answers. Part of the reason behind this post was a promotional video for the Centre of Inquiry which describes superstition as ‘uneducated answers’ and how science makes it possible to have educated ones. Still I think it should go further; superstitions are failures in reasoning, as René Descartes promoted – reason & rationality are the sources of truth and the guarantors of progress.

Read the rest of the post here: http://www.rationalunderstanding.co.uk/superstition/the-common-defences-used-by-superstitions-religion-and-sometimes-conspiracy-theories-rational-thinking-pushed-aside/

Read Full Post »

To really understand this documentary slash movie you have to first understand how Intelligent design came about, after all it should at least in theory be different from the theological understanding of why we are here since such a theological argument would never be considered to be science. The whole point of intelligent design is so it could be included within science, mostly the aim is to get it taught in schools as the counter point to evolution, in other words to lift the creationists into the remit of science along the way acquiring the objective weight of true knowledge. At some point I was happy to concede that perhaps Intelligent Design is pushed out to easily, this was the first point made by Ben Stein, no one should be afraid of discourse on any subject. Freely expressed opinions and views are exactly the things that have allowed secular societies to become better for everyone. Now to be honest, after some thought, I want to claim that Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence allowed is simply a dishonest representation of the truth and I will explain why that should be the conclusion. Please do watch the documentary otherwise this won’t make sense even though the first issue is understood if you already know a little about the dispute. Sadly Ben Stein does not appear, at least from his documentary, to understand the argument at all.

Read the rest of the post here: http://www.rationalunderstanding.co.uk/religion/%e2%80%98expelled-no-intelligence-allowed%e2%80%99-is-completely-correct-there-is-no-intelligence-in-it/

Read Full Post »

There is an old Irish saying, religion is the superstition of fools and I cannot help but think that should be religion is the religion of fools! I will give religion one point though, not that I’m actually keeping a record of points awarded or anything, at least for the most part it is perhaps a clearer distinction to where certain thoughts or behaviour come from, this is certainly not as clear when you consider luck for example. That is to say if you hate gay people then it comes completely justifiable once the understanding of a religious belief becomes apparent, even though such a position is easy rejected under the broad label of a modern society. If you believe some things are lucky and others are not, then it’s a little more difficult to see the thought process that has gone on in order for that to be justifiable to anyone especially to those that believe it. I think that I will start off with Superstitions since under my own broad definition this includes Luck, horoscopes, homeopathic medicine, anyone that argues they can speak to the dead, faith healers, Reiki, card reading and anything that can come up along those lines. I want to argue that these things have never been proven to work, at all, from what I hear people argue it works as there is a kind of feeling that it does. Rather than simply putting my focus in to that, I want to answer the question of what harm these things can do and the investment which is placed within these superstitions. In general I am not celebrating despair, rather extreme levels of hope which can be achieved by removing these things from people’s minds. If anyone points the finger at me saying that I am trying to remove their hope I wish to comment that this is not the case, there are real benefits to abandonment and also real empowerment to be taken back from both superstitions & religion.
www.blacksunjournal.com

I like this analogy; if you go and get health care treatment in America and increasingly in Western European countries as well, once your condition is found out the burden of deciding on treatment is pushed back to the person who is ill, this is not the issue of consent which should always happen unless it is agree that you no longer can give it, it is a list of treatments that you can pick. This comes from the fear that doctors or hospitals might be sued if they get things wrong and you suffer in this event. This might sound really good, still consider who is more likely to make mistakes a doctor with at least 7 years of training who is at heart a professional or a sick person who knows next to nothing about medicine? It might seem an empowering notion to go through after all what is bad about choice, nothing and it does give the ill person a sense that they are in control of the situation. Even so you can see why this is illogical and perhaps wrong; a doctor who might make a mistake is always in a better position to make decisions than a sick person who is more than likely completely unaware of what is involved in the medical treatments offered. It is these supernatural things that create their own inbuilt despair as the same thing is happening, things like Reiki, faith healers and homeopathy give people who are ill or suffering the feeling of control over their own lives, still do we ever consider the possibility that an ill person is no good at deciding what one of these treatments will be best for them? Who is to say that Reiki will work and faith healing will not. This might seem like an overlaboured point to make but it is not as empowerment and control is so important to us. This leads me to the next objection; the level of hope that is given to people by these superstitious treatments often falls short of expectation, so they create despair often. Richard Dawkins puts this best by saying that people in India are choosing scientific medical treatment over useless superstitious treatments in overwhelming numbers, mean while in the west we are stuck in the reverse!

There is no evidence to suggest luck, horoscopes, homeopathy, Reiki or the other things ever work or are real reflections of the world. If these things are not based on truth, then it is perfectly possible to reduce them down to personal feelings and ‘I thinks’, this is a move towards the metaphysical. There is no evidence to suggest that someone’s metaphysical feelings are real, you might have really strong personal feelings that black people should not share the same space as you, that is just racist and if we end up deciding what is true based on our personal feelings then to me that is just a judgement call and ultimately dangerous to us all. The human brain is an amazing inability to decide what is true or not. Let’s take the case of 9/11 where almost 3000 Americans died, this is sad and deserves our action in every way. Only three days later, exactly to the minute after these attacks 3,300 Americans had died as a direct result of cigarettes, a further 1,100 would die every single day for the rest of the year (Chris Jordan). Since these terrorist attacks the American budget for health care has been reduced in real terms and homeland security has been increased by a significant amount, even though if a small percent of the homeland security budget was direct at healthcare prevention it could save more people. Of course we must stop terrorists, I am not suggesting we don’t, still is an example of how sometimes we can worry more about the things that are not really all that much of a threat to us. We think that smoking cigarettes is a choice, it might be in the start but often turns out to be an addiction, still we assume that it is controllable thus making it a safe known rather than perhaps an unsafe unknown. We have an error in our understanding when it comes to threats to safety of ourselves and the people we care about. In order to remove judgement from within our personal feelings we must check science and in order to remove errors in our understanding, even at national level, we must come to understand what logic is showing us – these create true things unlike personal feelings!

I use the word investment when we are talking about superstitions; this describes the situation the best since I don’t think that you walk into these superstitions not giving up things, this could be time, energy, money or your mental ability to cope in a rational way. Please keep in mind the idea of truth when I talk about these things here. When I talk about luck, I assume that most people do things that they hope will result in good things happening to them still when they don’t do these things it can often result in changes in thoughts, behaviour and a great deal of anxiety. The loss we make is great, we change our thoughts with the end result being irrational thinking, we change our behaviour as a result making us do things that are not justifiable and if we put our hope into something that is not true how can it be anything other than despair. Let’s go to Reiki for example, the process where someone puts their hands over your body and it heals you magically, people put time and often money, our hopes and often ill people go there in order to receive treatment. I think it is dishonest to say that you can treat someone when there is no evidence that you can, it scares me that someone can do Reiki who could possibly not be going through proven treatment or spending the time & money into going for a nice massage that would make their life better without the false hope. Of course both luck and Reiki can provide us with something but at what cost to ourselves. All these things chip away at the thing we call science and that will harm everyone in the end, you move the mind set away from the logic and towards the irrational. If you think that computers, vaccines, antibiotics, Cognitive behavioural treatments, MIR scans, X-ray scanners either at airports that keep you safe or at hospitals, possible fusion energy in the future, gene therapy, disease, chemical & infection control and much more are not only useful but saving people’s lives every single day, then how can you reject what all these things that are based on rational and reasoned thinking. To accept superstitious rubbish is the full face rejection of science, there is one proven thing that has improved & saved the lives of millions of people – science. There is nothing that as caused more suffering and death than superstition, and this brings me to the biggest one of all time, Religion!

www.issr.org.ukReligion is not based on the hope that there is a supernatural being rather extreme fear that there is not, with the wish that belief is not wasted. Religious people see the same evidence that God is not real as the rest of us; still it suits their needs to promote the irrational idea, it is indeed a real problem and why should anyone settle for this? Either you make the decision to give your life, mind or often death over to someone else or you do not. The debate should never be about morality or the evidence that a certain religion is either right or wrong, the evidence is clear for all to see. Focus should be on the implications of belief, we should not be scared into religion since it is our only hope in explaining things, I even reject this idea, it ends up explaining very little. If the result of belief is anything negative then it must answer for this, many people claim to be good Christians unless you are homophobic, racist and don’t agree with the idea of women’s rights then you are not a good Christian at all, this is God’s word and you cannot pick what you want from the bible. Religion can make people do the upmost stupid things, there justifications comes from faith even though morality tells us that these things are wrong and I am not talking about extremists that blow themselves up, I am talking about the everyday believers here. Bringing up your child in just one religion is child abuse, you have no evidence that you are picking the right religion so how can you justify placing rules & guide lines for a child without knowing whether it is right or not! Mutilation of children’s genitals is wrong no matter how many metaphysical feelings you, as a parent, might have. I object to religion on so many grounds, you can read some of it on my blog or go look on the internet for yourself. Now let us turn to science.

A lot of crap science is out there and this is not the result of science at all, rather people claiming that something is science when it is not. So I will give you a little rule to remember; if you come across something that is claiming to be science in order for you to check whether it is or not, ask yourself under what conditions could this be completely wrong! If you can’t work out how it could be wrong then it is not science, for example a new drug that helps people with depression this can be proven false if it is found not to work correctly. The creationist’s argument that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark umm… dinosaurs lived before humans and around 64 million years ago? Ok you know that or you think the earth is only 4000 years old. I think you get the picture there is no condition in the creationists approach that allows me to say that would be false thus it is not science. If you go up to anyone that claims to be a true scientist and ask them the most important factors are the fact it can be wrong is the most significant, followed by peer review, reason and reliability of both method & result. You might not understand it at all but if you wanted to then you could go out and repeat the experiments of science. The method is always published within the peer review in order so others are able to find the same findings. Other than that it is a rational & reasoned response, not always but the things that go to create general laws or known facts are checked and the feedback loop checks them well so you can take from it that they are true things. To me the wonders of science far surpass that of anything else, the beauty of the surface of Mars or viewing atoms through powerful electron microscopes, how can anything else challenge these things? The hope that science brings is also amazing, around the time of the Enlightenment was a period were humans took control of the world they found themselves in, no one should ever want to lose that power, it is so important to us. I have gone on about how useful it is, I will end with this; it is thanks to science that I am still alive and that most of us are, we don’t owe science anything but we do owe the method of thinking that allow humans to think, imagine and create the things that saved so many people and that will save many more in the future. You should feel optimistic about the future; with science and its reasoned thinking we can do almost anything we can dream.

I have written about science and religion so far, I hope to write more about the things I consider as Superstitions soon. I decided to write this post now since I felt ready and confident about these issues. I have really enjoyed the journey that has being going on with me in the last six months, I hope it will continue. It is a little sad though that my posts offering insults about religion seem to get more views than anything else, so if you are reading this and have not done so already, please go read a science post. Thank you for reading my blog!

A little more on this matter….


Michael Shermer – Why we should think before we believe things. I like this man, he also thinks that intelligent design is the end of the conversation and science is an attitude rather than anything else. He discusses UFO and other things along that nature. Humans tend to see patterns and use their cognitive abilities to make sense of unclear data, this does not, as he suggests, be the end of investigation or be used as evidence. Our brains change the things we perceive into a workable pattern and this is what is happening, the more difficult it is to hear or see something clearly the more likely it is we will start to see with our brains and not our eyes.

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 »

Older Posts »