I appreciate your answer. I understand your perspective, I was agnostic for a long time. You use a lot of big words though and turn everything I say into something that makes you correct. I am not infantile because I believe in God. I am a part of humanity that has made decisions based on my life experience, and you have no room to judge that. Neither do I for you. But man, you cant expect other people to respect your belief when you don't respect ours.
(Agnostic-theist I take it? Not agnostic-Atheist? Since “agnostic” doesn’t really state your stance on belief.)
I can be pedantic at times I know but I think that language is important. Being able to write (more or less) really gives me the opportunity to draw on my full vocabulary and make better use of it. Language is our best tool to help explain and explore the meaning of our world and to extrapolate upon that information so that others can understand it as well. Either way, I certainly don’t type what I do to try and sound incorrect, it would be a bit of a waste of time.
I will try to keep from rambling too long on this topic but basically your own life experience means nothing at all to the reality of the world. People that have hallucination do genuinely believe their experiences yet they have no basis in reality. Religion is simply a widely held delusion. It takes a good deal of solipsism to believe that your experience were so special to provide you with unique and valuable information not available to others. I don’t think you should be so arrogant.
I don’t ask that you respect my beliefs, just as I won’t give undue and unwarranted respect to yours. “Respect” is a word tossed around so often as if it is something simply innate that must be applied to all aspects of humanity, I don’t see it that way. I don’t need to respect your beliefs, but if you want anyone to take them seriously you should be able to explain why they are correct. Just as you don’t need to respect me, yet you can’t seem to provide any evidence to contradict my views, nor has any religious person. We could have a wonderful respect-fest experience where we all tell each other how valid each belief is yet reality won’t care. Reality has nothing to do with any of that, and that is what I am concerned about, not respect.
Does the female Praying Mantis really bite the heads off of the male and if so Why?
I have no idea why I got this question but I am quite fond of praying mantises. They females don’t always eat the males but if they do it is usually because they are extremely hungry and it is a way of the male ensuring the female has enough nutrition to be able to produce the eggs.
The country’s Islamist-dominated government has introduced a law that would allow a man to have sex with his wife for up to six hours after her death, the Daily Mail reports. Yes, after her death.
Some are calling it the “farewell intercourse law,” but this blogger is just going to call it what it is — gross. And thankfully, illegal if you happen to live in the U.S.
Egypt’s dead sex law can apparently be traced to a 2011 statement made by cleric Zamzami Abdul Bari. He believes that marriage is valid even after death, and according to the Daily Mail, that both men and women should be able to have intercourse with a dead spouse.
My dad keeps recommending the works of different apologists like Lennox and Zacharias to me, but I find that even their best arguments are completely useless because they always defend deism, not theism. It's immensely frustrating because these people are praised excessively when really, they're not contributing anything. Have you noticed this trend as well?
I have absolutely and it drives me nuts. It is easy to present a decent argument for deism, but it is a HUGE step short of theism. Even if deism is presented in a compelling way it ends up leaving me saying, so what? This is something that could have happened but if the god is deistic it really doesn’t matter. No prayers are going to matter, no “sin” is going to matter, so why would anyone care about a deistic god?
Really, for the most part, they don’t care about that but they simply have to struggle to present some possible scenario or exploit some gap in our understanding where they can insert this possible force. William Lane Craig is an perfect example with the amount of time and energy he has put in to presenting his Kalam cosmological argument but that argument does not give you the god of Christianity. He has to make a few skips and hops, all of which are entirely illogical and unsubstantiated, to arrive at the god of Christianity. That is part of the reason I’ve become more firm myself in saying that a theistic god can not possibly exist.
I’d love to some day and I had a very good idea forming in my head for quite a while but I felt that it would come across as too similar to a book already done by Sam Harris. Personally I’d love to get in to doing some actual public forum debates, it isn’t something I’ve had a chance to do yet but I think that I would love it and with the right preparation do quite well at it. Thank you though, if I ever do write a book I’m sure my tumblr page will be the first to hear about it. :)
you mentioned you like reading well thought out ideas from a believers side. Are there any authors or people you know that are like that and don't just spout nonsense?
Unfortunately the problem is if you listen to any of them long enough it all ends up being non-sense. I’ve tried to give them a try but at some point they all end up sounding like toddler rattling on about how they have the bestest imaginary daddy ever. C. S. Lewis would fit in perfectly with modern day Christians but his best possible arguments come from his expertise of the English language. It is likely the only reason he really enjoys theological popularity at all. He is able to twist and contort words in a compelling way but the arguments themselves remain entirely vapid. Even Thomas Aquinas, who I’ve only read small parts of since his work is so extensive, if updated would be basically forming the same arguments even the most knowledgeable Christians currently rely on.
When it comes to debates I like to listen to William Lane Craig because he comes across as the most pompous smug Christian around when he is doing well in debate and sounds like a pleading politician when he is being destroyed. Dinesh D’Souza usually just makes me laugh, unintentionally. Douglas Wilson seems like a genuinely wonderful guy but his arguments are never very impressive. John Lennox comes across like a blowhard as well. Most the other Christian debaters I’ve heard of would be even more obscure and less impressive than these names.
Lee Strobel comes across as if he is lying to himself to the point that I genuinely wonder about how devoted he is. Deepak Chopra is not a Christian but is a scam artist of his own. Mark Driscoll I find to be one of the most annoying men in America….I am trying, really I am, to come up with someone that I could say something a little bit more positive about but am failing to come up with a name.
I do know that there are good writers that are believers out there and I do know for certain I have at least come across some of them in the past. Usually in small blog posts though or in an article here or there where they make a solid point that I agree with. Even if I can find a few points here and there that we can come to common grounds on there is already the 800lbs gorilla in the room or “god”. A point we can come to no compromise on. I haven’t given up though, I make it a point to seek out things discussed and written by believers nearly as much as non-believers, I am always looking for new points of discussion.
I saw a previous question about couples of atheist and christian& i honestly wonder how that could work, I've tried and its can be hard, especially when making decisions on the type of wedding to have, how could a christian and atheist have a wedding where both sides are happy?? Please , i don't understand this
The key is compromise, it is all about what each person is comfortable with. For some people a relationship with a believer simply wouldn’t work, but it depends on the person. I certainly know it is possible and have seen it happen but I think it would be extremely difficult. I haven’t personally dated in a very long time but if I was to I feel like I would have a hard time coexisting peacefully with a believer that puts any real stock in their religion. I would likely annoy them too much with my Atheistness. :)
I feel that Atheism is distinct enough of an idea from theism or deism to deserve proper recognition as a group. Atheism as a word only exists out of necessity, we only have to set off not believing because we live in a world filled with believers. I think that as a result of this we should be able to stand up and identify as a group even if the only thing that unifies us is one non-belief. The ideas and views of Atheists have been discounted for so long simply because they come from Atheists. Someday once non-belief is so prevalent we will be able to do away with the word entirely.
I realize that grammatically it is not correct but some Atheist groups have also decided to take it upon themselves to capitalize it (outside of their proper name) as well. I also think that it is important that we show we are just as important as Christians, Muslims, Jews, or any other religious group and need to be taken seriously. It is a very small way to make Atheists seem like a cohesive group that is not scandalous. Personally as it is I discuss a lot about religion and something about Christianity vs. atheism just doesn’t seem as aesthetically pleasing to me as Christianity vs. Atheism.
I find it funny how most father's just let the mother's have what they want. My father was the same way. He's an atheist but he let my mother raise us christian and my brother who is also an atheist has just agreed to do the same with his christian wife. WTF GUYS, it's your kid too. Why do you think fathers just let this happen?
As the old saying goes, happy wife = happy life. Personally I have been in a relationship for quite a long time and after being in a long standing relationship you learn to pick your battles. I think for many people they see it as something not worth arguing over or they realize how important it is to their partner and don’t want to do anything to get in the way of that. Many people that aren’t adamantly Atheist feel rather apathetic about their disbelief.
I wish that more men took an active role in raising their child but I think that can be said across the board about many topics. I absolutely love being a parent and my time with my son is usually the best part of my day but so many fathers I know don’t take this view on their own children. I don’t know the specifics as to why it is but I am sure there is some deep rooted cultural/evolutionary reason that men seem to generally care less about a child’s upbringing than the mother, but that isn’t always the case. I think that the active participation of fathers is something in general that needs a lot of work.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give a couple of opposing beliefs, especially one that's married? I am with someone who is also atheist, but I can't help but feel that if he were religious it would be difficult.
I think if I had to sum it up generally it would be the main thing I always stress when dealing with family, communication. So often couples fail to communicate with each other what they really think or feel. In a relationship people will often hold back on their true feelings for the sake of avoiding any type of conflict but if this happens for too long it will often boil over in to other areas of the relationship. You need to be able to express how you feel and what you think to the person that is supposed to be so important to you in life.
There needs to be compromise on both sides but each side also needs to be clear with what they want and what their expectations area. If someone holds unrealistic expectations, it isn’t going to work, if one simply hopes the other will pick up on the way but don’t communicate, it is also isn’t going to work. Relationships in general can be so complex and difficult throwing in another point of contention can greatly complicate things. In some ways though it can also make things more interesting, most people don’t want to be with an exact clone of themselves.
I was brought up by a pretty strong christian (mum) and a raging crazy athiest (dad) and he didn't go to any church services because he said the 'chairs hurt his back' and simply didn't say anything about his beliefs- he used to say when asked if he believed in god 'I believe in cod'. Now I'm older he talks about it and is rude about the pope and stuff but must have been hard for him to watch mum send me to christian camp and sunday school from the age of 7!
I imagine it would be hard for me. Thankfully with my family I am not going to be in that situation because I do think it would require some work to come to compromise. If two people are truly happy together and want to have a life together it just seems silly to let religious belief get in the way but unfortunately that does happen a lot as well. I even see it all the time where people say they could never date or be friends with people that are either believers or unbelievers, it comes from both sides.
There is so much more to people than much of the superficial traits we use to describe ourselves. Just because some is a Christian or an Atheist it really says nothing about how loving, nurturing, compassionate, charismatic, or charming they may be. We focus too much on these things though, we all do, because these titles are the face we put on to the public. When two people really connect on a level beyond the superficial they are often able to look past those labels. I’m glad your parents were able to, and I’m glad that things worked out well for you in the end.
Are you opposed to spirituality in much the same way you are to religiosity? It is indisputable that the world is not necessarily as we perceive it, and do you believe this is of relevance? (Note: I'm playing Devil's advocate here; it's a shame your views are so similar to my own, it'd have been nice to be able to argue with passion.)
Part of it depends on exactly what people mean by spirituality. If people want to meditate or feel some type of feeling/experience that they are unable to put in to words that is completely harmless. It is something that happens to all of us at times if we look at the world at all. Who can help but feel awed by the power of a volcano or the vastness of the oceans even? There is nothing wrong with being in tuned with who we are and these driving forces inside of us.
Much beyond that though is when it starts to dip too much in to pseudo-science and strange mysticism. If I have someone telling me they are going to read my aura or tell me about my previous life, I will think they are a bit nutty. When we start talking about a “soul” we get in to a very complex concept. Many people can even attempt to define the soul differently but anything that eventually involved mind/body duality is completely off base with reality.
If you do not feel moved with great emotion through art/music/literature/nature or what other great things we have in life, how can you really be in touch with your own humanity? Some people consider this spiritual but I simply consider it feeling another experience of life. It has an explanation and it has a reason, we just often find it is beyond the description of our somewhat limited language. Our ability to communicate what we feel is far more limited than what we can feel. That part is something that I honestly quite enjoy.
My wife is a Christian, I am an athiest. We have a 3 month old baby and a nine year old (her son from a previous relationship I adopted). I told my wife she could raise them Christian, but lately I'm struggling with it, I told my wife I wouldn't lie to my kids but I wouldn't actively try to change their opinions either. It seems that a lot of men in my life growing up were in a similar situation. I guess my question is how common is the one parent Christian the ohter athiest?
I think that it is a fairly common experience. I have talked to many people in the past in a relationship with a believer as a non-believer. I’ve talked to several that simply swallow their pride and “play along” with their religion partner, attending church service and faked honest belief. I think at some point you will find yourself in a conflict in saying that you both won’t lie but will allow them to be raised Christian. There will come a time that they want to know your beliefs and how you view things. As an Atheist I don’t think it would be easy to both be honest and not say anything disparaging about Christianity.
Hopefully you and your wife can talk things over and you can come to a good middle ground. Perhaps you can identify the aspects and characteristics of a religious upbringing that she thinks are most important and concentrate on those well putting far less emphasis on the negatives. It is a softened and, in some ways, dishonest pledge to Christianity but it is far better than raising a child with fears of fire and brimstone and eternal torment for his friends that don’t happen to attend the same church.
The key thing is to keep communication open with your wife and both work to find grounds you will both be comfortable with. Hopefully you won’t run in to many situations where there is conflict between you two as long as you both remain reasonable but it is going to be a difficult balance. Especially as your children grow older it is likely they will learn more and more about your true views. Perhaps that won’t be so bad though, a Christian upbringing can often be the first step in a life of skepticism and non-belief.
I'm not sure if you've answered a question like this so far, I'm a newcomer and admirer of your blog, but what are your opinions on someone who claims to be an Atheist yet believes in the idea of Satan or the Devil? I have recently met a new friend and we talk about our ideas on the subject of Atheism very frequently but I can't quite understand how he aggressively disregards the idea of God while entertaining the idea of Satan. Thoughts?
(I have had quite a few various asks come in over the last couple of days so I apologize for the flood of them at the moment.)
It doesn’t make any sense pure and simple. If someone believes in “Satan” they are believing in an idea presented by Christianity. I don’t want to use the term “not a true” Atheist, but they are at the very least still holding on to relics of religious belief.
Is Christmas a pagan holiday? I dont like to think it is. Doesnt make sense at all. Your thoughts?
Christmas itself is a holiday based on Christianity but the time of year that it falls in specifically was done with purpose. If Jesus was to exist at all and was born in a manger he was not born in the middle of winter in Judea. Christians moved the birth of their savior to line up with the pagan holiday of Saturnalia as a way of trying to draw attention away from the pagan. Christianity was in competition with many of the religions of the time and they used various tactics to win people away from the existing pagan beliefs. So in the end it is not specifically a pagan holiday, but they took the same date as a pagan holiday in order to try to draw attention to their cause and detract from pagan belief.
I am honestly really sick of hearing that I should be tolerant of religion.... What obligation do I have to be TOLERANT to a religion or a people, which stole 12 years of my childhood, trying to teach me to believe in fairytales and anti-science logic? I'm also tired of having to nicely explain, in any discussion, that you CANNOT believe in science and in religion/God at the same time. That is a contradiction.
I agree with where you are coming from. I really think that the paradox of tolerance is an interesting idea. Can anyone be tolerant of intolerance? For the vast majority of its history religion has been entirely intolerant of the dissenters and often gone to extreme measures to silence them. Now that they no longer enjoy the place of great power they once had they want to extend their blood soaked hand and talk about “Why can’t we all just get along?” We should not be so quick to forget history and we should not turn a blind eye to the continual abuse that still happens on a daily basis.
If someone tells you that you need to be tolerant keep in mind what they are asking you to tolerate. They are asking you to tolerate the mental abuse of children, the subjugation of women, the purposeful misinforming of people, a solipsistic servility to an imaginary force, and so much more. We can not forget, and we should not be scared of our own language. It is not wrong to hate what is hateful, it is not wrong to not tolerate what should not be tolerable.
There is a base conflict between religion and science. Even though there are many intelligent people that believe in god they are living in contradiction. They are accepting a delusional side of life but still attempting to be based in reality. There are certainly some things within science and religion that are entirely incompatible. Although when these conflicts are brought up the religion will slink away to a faith argument.
I know you state that you hate religion and what not and I too am in a similar boat with you of religious hatred and total atheism but I find the mythology of many religious really interesting to hear, more as a story or epic than as something to live by. Do you find interest in the stories at all or anything? (Again, not stating I believe any of the stories)
I can absolutely agree that they are interesting stories. Some of my favorite stories when I was little revolved around Greek and Roman myth stories. I still have an appreciation for it and have expanded. I have a good deal of Asian style art based on myth that I enjoy and several other books on mythology.
I really consider the bible to be in the same realm as other myth stories. The bible has deep roots in forming the history of Western culture. It would be quite difficult to understand many great works of literature without the bible. Dante’s Inferno, as one example, is a story I quite enjoy that is entirely myth based surrounding Christianity. It would be extremely difficult to be well versed in English literature with no understanding of the bible. The key part that many have a hard time with is separating the history from the myth.
isnt atheism a religion? the dictionary says religion is "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe." In your case, the purpose is nothing, or 0 and you cant explain the cause or nature of the universe. So im just curious, what do you live for? what does being an atheist do for you? does it make you feel good to "hate" religion? im curious
I don’t really get messages like this too often anymore, so forgive me if it is a bit of a rant. It is a bit surprising to get one that isn’t anonymous. I assure you I will probably come off as rude and blunt but that is not my intention. The somewhat condescending nature of your message though makes it hard to retort without calling out a few obvious flaws in thought that you’re attempting to implore.
Let’s start with the first one since that is the easiest. Even by your definition it is referred to as “a set of beliefs” and right off the bat Atheism fails to meet this qualification. There is no “set” to Atheism, Atheism is simply one belief and one belief only. There is no dogma to Atheism and although the majority of Atheists will share other views it does not constitute any set of beliefs that one must adhere to in order to be an Atheist. Atheism fails both in definition and practice at being any type of religion.
Moving on to the next portion of your statement it becomes a bit more convoluted. We have no divine purpose, but that does not mean our life lacks purpose. This is something that absolutely drive me nuts, when I hear Christians saying “You Atheists don’t believe in anything. Your life can have no meaning!”. That is clearly untrue and considering the basis that a believer uses, that we are some servile worm created only for the entertainment of some omnipotent being, the idea of having no meaning is probably an improvement. I’d rather think that I have no purpose than to have the purpose of being a slave.
My purpose is derived from what I see as important in life and the world. My purpose is to be a good person and a good father. My purpose is to hopefully provide more beneficial things to the world than detrimental. If the world is slightly better for me having lived on it, I feel I have accomplished more purpose than a large amount of humanity has. This purpose is based entirely on the only thing that is real, this life, this earth, and these people we interact with. If you tell me your purpose is to serve god, you’ve already declared your imaginary friend is more important than humanity, so what good could you possibly produce to a world that is only second best to you?
As for the nature of the universe, it is something I am far better equipped to attempt to explain than yourself. Any explanation or information I provide would be based on scientific analysis and observation, not magic. Any explanation you provide would involve an unproven, untestable, and entirely unlikely factor when you add in “god” did anything. Our views of nature and the universe are certainly different, but mine is the view based on reality. Don’t think for a moment you have the high ground there.
As far as what Atheism “does” for me, nothing at all. Why should it do anything? I am not an Atheist because it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, I am an Atheist because it is the best explanation of the reality that we find ourselves in. I am an Atheist because I do care about the validity of my views and opinions, I care about truth and logic. I care about the true nature of the world, not what my beliefs will “do” for me. I don’t need to be coddled by my beliefs. I’ve dismissed infantile mentality.
As for if it makes me feel “good” to hate religion, yes and no. I am one that can be motivated well by conflict. The challenge to support my views and ideas as well as dispel the falsity of claims by others does drive me. It encourages me to learn more and be able to better explain my views. I enjoy the intellectual challenge, unfortunately religion rarely provides much real challenge anymore. As far as the no side, it should be obvious, I do not want to have to hate anything but I have no choice but to hate religion. Religion is the most damaging system in all of human history. In order to give up my hate for religion, I would need to give up my love for humanity, that I can never do.
I'm a different anon and an atheist and to be honest I don't know why people choose religion. Is it because they like having something to believe in? Thinking their life holds some great value and when they die they'll become everything they've ever wanted and travel to the all mighty heaven? I can't imagine living my life that way and not questioning my surroundings and myself and what life means to me. I just feel like religion is so unnecessary.
The word Christopher Hitchens most used to describe the view people often have when it comes to religion was “solipsism”. It basically boils down to the belief that you and you alone are special and deserve to be specially rewarded. It is the basis of religion, without ego and solipsism there is no good reason to believe in any person god. It is the height of arrogance and it is unnecessary. It is just another one of the reasons that religion needs to be pushed back, if we’re even going to shift focus from the self to the world.
I'm an atheist and have been for many years but I'm considering joining a Unitarian Universalist church simply for the sense of community that a religious organization brings. Anyway, I was wondering if you held any views on Unitarian Universalism?
I actually found myself having a conversation with another Atheist last week where I was suggesting Unitarian churches. We were discussing the idea of the “Atheist temple” being build by Alain de Botton, I suggested that if Atheists really feel that they need a “church” for community they could go to a Unitarian institute because they are fully accepting of people that hold Atheist views (In theory). Personally I have never been to a Unitarian institute so I don’t know first hand what the environment is actually like for a non-believer. Also because of that I really don’t have a solid opinion on their general outlook.
I think that if they are able to offer an all inclusive church of sorts it is definitely one step ahead of the exclusive “members of our faith only” churches. It may provide an outlet that many Atheists are strongly missing in not having a place to congregate. I still think this could be better accomplished in secular ways but as of yet it often is not. Even though most Atheist/humanist groups you come across would be entirely open to people of all views participating they usually don’t and it can run the risk of becoming an echo chamber.
It may be worth giving a try to see how it is and it may offer some social relief that is missed by many Atheists. If you get a chance please let me know what you thought of it and how the experience was. The few stories I have heard in the past are somewhat mixed. I have heard both good and bad so part of it may just come down to the people in your area and how they personally react to a non-believer in their midst.
Not trying to rant, or accuse you of bad parenting. Sorry it came across that way. It sort of sounds like you're really not okay with your kid choosing religion at all. And isn't the whole point of education giving them that choice. I mean if they're atheist fine and dandy but if they're Buddhist cool too. Chances are they will change their mind many times over their lifetime as their "spiritual" needs change. Would you still accept your kid if they were religious?
I would accept if my child became religious, because I love my son, but honestly in general I am not okay with my son choosing to be religious because he would likely only chose to be religious for poor reasons. He may chose religion because he doesn’t understand the world, which I am doing my best to make sure does not happen. He may chose religion because it offers self serving promises it can’t possibly deliver on, which I also don’t feel to be a positive. Regardless of the reason, if he chose that, it would indicate to may that I was a complete failure as a parent. I will not hold it against him in any way if he becomes religious, but I will feel as if I did not do what was right by him.
Shouldn't you trust your kid to make their own choices? I mean instead of just saying "NO CHRISTIANITY!" why not expose them to atheism and science but also let them view other cultures and religions. Instill values like equality and peace, education over ignorance and probably they will be atheist. And if not at least they are making a choice from an educated stance. I think it's wrong for anyone to shove their beliefs down impressionable childrens throats. Let education speak for itself.
I believe that is more or less what I said. It is important though that children learn how to be able to think in order to fully prepare to make those decisions. You also have to make sure that children aren’t victimized by vile fools that look to put forward their own agenda. Their intentions certainly are not pure and it makes it even easier for them to pray upon a credulous child.
I am going to allow my son to make his own choices but I am going to make sure he is prepared to make those choice. As a parent one of my most important duties is to help my child be prepared for the real world and make sure he has the information and ability to make good and responsible choices. I have never made a statement that you should force a child to avoid all Christianity but I do think over exposure to it often borders on the level of child abuse. So overall I’m not quite sure if you’re just ranting in general or if this is some comment directed to me but my son is allowed to make his own choices, but as a parent I will not simply watch him become another victim to religion either.
I am just wondering, I saw your post a few pages back about how a certain percent of americans polled 'non-religious'. do you think that it is all because of an atheist viewpoint or some believe in a God, however are just too (for lack of a better word) lazy to worship? Thanks, I appreciate your blog! ~A fellow atheist <3
I think it is definitely a mix of the two. For a long time many people have simply been lazy about their religion, the type of people that maybe show up in a church on Easter or Christmas, but even many of them have simply given up on it. There isn’t a lot of difference between someone who considers religion unimportant to their life and someone who only does it for appearances a couple of times a year.
I think it is important to note that just because someone says religion is unimportant to them it does not necessarily mean that they’ve given up all belief in a god. They very well could still be a believer but simply feel as if the church is not a worthwhile institute that expounds the values they have. I have run in to many people lately that say that they dislike Christianity, but they love Jesus, an idiotic view point that I have ranted on in the past.
Overall though it is a very promising sign. The church as an institute is far past any real need. It does still, on occasion, provide worth while services but as we continue to move those few things it can do to less corrupted secular means the need will diminish even further. The redeeming qualities people search for in religion are continually shrinking. It is a hopeful sign that religion is finally being cast aside. From there the belief in god will naturally start to fade, they will no longer be able to indoctrinate new generations and keep the control they once enjoyed, it is a slow process but it is moving on the right path.
I live in a rural part of Ireland and there are many lonely, elderly people in my community. The church is a focal point and for some it is their only means of socializing. There are christmas parties etc organised for people who may not have family and the priest goes on house visits to people living alone. I know it makes a big difference and I feel that if the church went intop decline, many would suffer. We shouldnt rely on the church for this charity but it is a sad truth...
I agree that we shouldn’t have to rely on the church for something like that. The difficult but key component is extracting what little good can be found in religion and the church to use it more effectively through secular and more pure means. I was half way listening to a talk by Richard Carrier last night and he provided an analogy that I really enjoyed.
From “Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism” p. 272
"When we see the same benefits claimed by a Catholic being enjoyed by Taoists and Secular Humanists, like the scientist who has identified that the real medicine is chemical A and not root B, we see at once that religion is a red herring, the superfluous contents of a root that only by chance includes a useful agent. So we can dispense with the rest of the root and stick with the only thing that really works, and by focusing on it and analyzing it, we can use it better, more effectively, more profitably, and more safely.
The advocate of religion are like the TM proponent who says only Bonobo root cures headache, and that Anga root will actually make it worse, when in fact both roots contain an aspirin-like compound and both demonstrably alleviate headache, but neither as well, or as consistently, or as inexpensively, or as side-effect free as the actual chemical by itself, well-measured and competently used. This is the difference between thinking scientifically and thinking traditionally: the scientific mind analyses, tests, examines, and compares, to get rid of the obfuscation and land on the real fundamental causes of this and that. The traditionalist just repeats dogma passed on to him by others. As it happens, when we extract all the effective elements from all the world’s religions, and hone them to completion, what we end up with is Secular Humanism.”
Maybe I'm in the wrong place, but I'd like an honest answer regarding Muslims. I have heard that there is no such thing as "Fundamentalist Muslims" - They either believe it All or believe none of it (in which case they're not Muslims). My question comes down to this: Do they Really believe every word of the Kuran and Muhammad? I mean, that the sun sets by settling in a muddy pond, That Satan sleeps in peoples' nostrils, That Satan pees in peoples ears, That Jews were turned into Pigs, etc.?
There are some people that could probably answer this far better than I could because I am still continually learning when it comes to Islam. From what I understand thought most of those things (like Satan living in people’s noses and peeing in their ears) comes from Hadiths which are considered extra sources outside of the Quran. They are usually a collection of saying or condemnations attributed to the prophet Muhammad, although the validity of many of them are contested. Some of them may be accepted or rejected depending on the particular sect of Islam someone adheres to.
There are certainly different sects of Islam, Sunni and Shia being the two best known. There are also many other smaller sub-sects of Islam and many of the Imams or holy men may start up their own teachings or interpretations of the Quran. There is no central governing authority to Islam and as a result Muslims are about as fractured as the different branches or Christianity. Each choosing to either enhance or taint different passages that fit their particular agenda.
One thing that virtually all Muslims have in common though is that they hold the Quran to be the perfect word of “Allah” as revealed by the prophet Muhammad. The Hadiths are a different story and do have people that debate their individual validity. I say “virtually all” because there are many variation to Islam, although not quite as many as Christianity, and some put less emphasis on literal translations of the Quran.
In short though, I definitely think that there are fundamentalists, just like there is in Christianity. There are also progressive and liberal style Muslims, but they still all share the Quran.
Lovely story: Jehova's witness comes up to me and asks me these questions: "How was the sun made? How about plants, people? Why is the sky blue? God's behind it all. It's easy to just be an atheist and not question it, but you should look to the bible for answers." I'm a big softie pacifist but I really, really wanted to punch him. I literally could have explained ALL of those questions. And I got incredibly mad when he said it's easy to be an atheist. Just. No.
Personally I probably would have invited them in and patiently answered their questions. I would of been happy to get in to a debate with them on the topic and then when I was done with it I would tell them that I never want to see them around my house or neighborhood ever again. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve run door to door evangelists completely out of the neighborhood. I have no respect for people that travel door to door to push this garbage and I feel no need to show them the slightest bit of respect. I do at least give them the courtesy of presenting their view point, after all what if their views are unique and enlightened? They never are. They disrespect people on a daily basis by believing they have special knowledge they need to share with the world. They disgust me and I feel no guilt in telling them they are blatantly not welcome anywhere near me or my family.
If you don't mind me asking, what is your job/career and have your atheistic views ever hindered you in that sense?
My job is fairly boring. I work for a K-12 school doing computer support. It isn’t a bad job by any means but nothing exciting or adventurous. Thankfully I’ve been lucky because my lack of religion has never caused me any issues at any job I’ve had. I’ve pretty much always had some kind of job, I started my first paper route when I was 7 and have only been without a job for one 6 month period since then. I guess I am just lucky, either that or being an introvert has kept me out of situations where it could be an issue.
I'm not a religious person myself, but why are you so fond of chris hitchens - does the fact that he supported any number of destructive murderous wars not bother you at all?
*Christopher Hitchens, no circumcision of his name, he promised his mother.
I am probably one of the biggest fans of Christopher Hitchens, that is why I am all too familiar with the criticisms he received for some of his views. To say he supported “any number of destructive murderous wars” though is completely and entirely incorrect. The only war that Hitchens really supported that he received criticism for was the Iraq invasion of 2003. He was certainly no war monger.
Christopher’s heart was in the right place, unlike the Bush administration. He looked to Iraq for a better future that involved the removal of Saddam and the freedom of the Kurds. He had dreams of a prosperous democratic future for the Iraqi people that had been abused and subjugated to a tyrant for years. Generally I believe that is an idea that most people would be able to get behind but the way it was approached and people’s general detesting of the Bush administration blinded them to the benevolent goal that underlined much of the whole endeavor.
Christopher acknowledged that there was a great cost in life and money but he did not admit that he was wrong because he felt the goal of a free Iraq was so important. He stated he could not give any support to a policy that allowed Saddam to continue doing what he was doing, so to that extent he was not apologetic and I really can not consider him wrong in that. Personally I do not always throw 100% support behind all the views that Christopher had but I can at least understand and appreciate the view points he put forward. He was certainly an intelligent man and his views were well thought out, despite whatever mud people would like to sling at his name he was absolutely a humanitarian who envision a better world for everyone.
What would you do if, when he's older, your son claimed to be Christian? Would you try to change his path or just accept and respect the fact that he's a Christian?
I’ve been asked this question before and to be completely honest I think there is little to no chance that my son will ever become Christian. He is extremely curious and likes to understand how things work. He will seek to understand the world and look to find answers. I would be absolutely amazed if there was any scenario he would ever turn out religious.
If by some chance he did become religious though I would talk to him about it. I would want to understand his point of view and why he chose that. I would discuss the topic with him and if at the end of it he is sincere in wanting to be a Christian I would accept that. Of course I would still love him just as much as I always had, but honestly I would feel like a complete failure as a parent.
You said you have a child? Is this the right Atheist blog? Either way, how do you, or would you, raise your child without religion when it's such a big part of our country (unfortunately)? This is something I've been thinking about lately and I don't want my kids to be ridiculed when something like Christmas and Easter roll around and they don't believe in god.
Yes, I do have a son. He is nearly 5 years old at this point so I really haven’t had too many issues with it yet. There are times where certain topics have come up that I struggle to explain to him in a non-mystical way, like what a “soul” is or how to describe “heaven” without getting in to a long talk about god and death. Other than that there really haven’t been a lot of issues.
I am a little bit worried about how things are going to go once he starts school in the Fall. He is going to likely encounter more things and have more question. When we toured the classrooms he is going to be in next year they all have posters plastered with Ohio’s state motto on the wall, “With God All Things Are Possible”. I am sure my cringe was noticeable when I first saw it because until then I didn’t even realize it was the “official” state motto.
I am going to attempt to be as honest with my son about religion as possible as he grows up. I will do what I can to answer his questions and he will learn about various religions in the world. I do have a soft spot for some religious pictures/books/art work so he will have plenty of it available. He is already quite clever and I hope that he is able to avoid much conflict with religious classmates. That isn’t a bridge I’ve come to yet.
Do christians/ other religious people just follow you to pick fights and try to argue you into a corner? I find it really amusing and entertaining until you're answers become essays. My attention span is short. But I like what you got going on here. Good luck spreading the good word.
Honestly it doesn’t seem as if I get as many people picking fights with me as I used to. A lot of the arguments have been already gone over and I think that most religious people have given up on trying to argue with me, perhaps they want to focus on easier targets. I know a lot of my answers can become quite long and I tend to ramble at times. That is really part of the reason I started this blog though, to be able to allow my thoughts to flow creatively. Thanks for the message.