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Be dumb for freedom. November 28, 2010

Posted by thegodless in Uncategorized.
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A little over a decade ago, I could be seen laboring away in clouds of toxic dust that were steadily being emitted by my factory employer. To this day, I see this time of blue collar labor as a vital component to my pragmatic rationalist world view. Working in a factory has always been known as a gritty, painful, and nearly mindless experience, and my time as a factory worker would provide me with no evidence to the contrary. In factory life, I noticed that one must often put forth an active effort to continue brain activity, as the daily schedule of crushing monotony and repetitive physical routines could really warp personal perspectives. For a decade of factory servitude, I feel that I gained a treasure of blue collar knowledge. When it comes to physical work ethic, the blue collar model just can’t be beat: Work hard until the job is done and no whining. To survive in a blue collar life, it fully appeared that one must embrace and enjoy the simple things in life, the things that had been passed down to them. This strategy leaves much more time for the hunter/killer and totally avoids any needless ruminations or questions. Blue collar traditions and values are such that they are handed down to automatically render any kind of alternative considerations invalid. While this is a way to ensure mental and family harmony, it sure is lacking in the truth seeking department. There is a reason that blue collar men are not known for their introspection. Why make any serious considerations, if they might actually provoke emotion. Regardless of likely benefits, complications to pre-rendered blue collar beliefs are seen as immediate stop sign. This blue collar stop sign is partially made up of pride in family beliefs and a wall to prevent any appearances for weakness. This wall is also shoved onto blue collar associates the very minute someone starts to break script and it’s either going to end in a beating, berating, or blue collar banishment. With these blue collar social rules, how can it ever be possible to introduce any kind of progressive thinking? Can we possibly hope to break through to a purposefully simple minded group of people? With ever more complexity in science, reason, and humanism, can it even be made palatable to the blue collar crowd? Is public enlightenment really the answer? We can only convince those that are willing to consider our arguments. We can only convince those that have the capacity for reason. We can’t possibly win the war of world views with the common man when religion has put the people in a solid state of mental enslavement. Religion has never been required to be right, yet we are. For the common man, religion doesn’t need to be right to survive, as long as it gives out the illusion of peace. In the infamous words of Kirk Cameron, maybe we should be working to “circumnavigate the intellect” of the common man, for no matter a theory’s legitimacy or an argument’s validity, if they’re not palatable to the common man, they may as well be spare tires with gaping holes. I have heard it said that the “New Atheists” need to step it up, to increase our general knowledge about theology and apologetics, but I think it worthy to consider a way to step it down. Atheism may be much better served by a simplification of our arguments, rather than a strengthening of our theological knowledge. We must find something within rationalism that can persuade the common man, something that makes them see as we see. Arguing back and forth with various Biblical scholars appears to do very little in the way of popularizing our position. The current complexities of our world view may be such that we are only going to continue hitting the blue collar stop sign. Maybe I’m overstating the problem, but we can’t even communicate some of the most basic scientific stuff to people, yet here we are trying to get them to understand why everything they believe is mostly false.

Thanks for your god. November 26, 2010

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As a low level government employee, I am often inundated with mass mailed holiday messages from my superiors. Luckily, most of these messages are generalized, inclusive, and fairly religion free. I really don’t mean to sound like a bitter holiday scrooge, but there are times, mainly when I am forcefully confronted with religion at work, that I am just not capable of keeping my mouth shut. Case in point, I recently got hit with a holiday message from one of my various superiors (actually in thus case my ultimate superior) so steeped in workplace evangelism, that I had to verify I hadn’t unknowingly gotten a job at a church. While the contents of this message was warm and respectful, the divisive religious undertones were unbearable. At one point, the writer just had to tell me about how they wished everyone could just understand that they are all special children of “God”, which god they did not say. While I fully disagree with that sentiment, mostly because delusions are not known for being beneficial, I understood that it was really meant as a wish for others to be better people. I too wish that some times and as long as I’m not being indirectly included into any overt religious stuff, I’m fine with silently disagreeing. The letter of course then went on to get pretty personal, eventually including me into prayers and assuming that I too would be thanking “God”, but still not revealing which particular one. Last I checked, I couldn’t find anything at all that could be remotely credited to god for any kind of thanking to be necessary. As a rationalist, I am always on the look out for my own illogical opinions, so I thought it best to ponder things further. Pondered to the point where I thought I could easily rule out with certainty that I needed to thank God for anything, I came upon something pretty profound that made me think that maybe I should be thanking my superior’s God. Without further ado, I give my thanks to my superior’s god in the Holy name of the Christian Thanksgiving Holiday (sorry to all of my Native American friends), for helping to inspire some people to sometimes do pretty good things. In all sincerity, I am very thankful for all of the Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans (not so much to the Mormons or Scientologists though), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other religionists that managed to gain courage with their irrational belief in my superior’s God to fight for freedom all across the world. I am truly thankful for these brave individuals and if they felt so inspired by their belief in God to willingly lay down their lives in the name of freedom, I must surely thank each and every one of their different gods. If it wasn’t for these people’s misguided faiths and superstitions, America may have never been able to defeat the opponents of freedom. To pay honor and to give thanks, I promise that I will use my freedom at every point that it is necessary and always cherish the fact that, because of the courage of many illogical people, no one, not even a workplace superior, can stop me from openly dissenting. My freedom to respond without fear of reprisal, specifically to blatant workplace evangelism by a superior has been bought and paid for by the martyrs of other people’s gods. I know of nothing more honorable than fighting for the freedoms of people you disagree with. Dissension is as American as deep fried Snickers and the Treaty of Tripoli. For that, I am more than thankful, I am hopeful that one day it will be integral part of human rights. After writing my response to my superior’s holiday message, I can’t help but wonder if they are still as thankful about including me into their religious practices.

Logical fallacies of prayer. November 11, 2010

Posted by thegodless in atheism.
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For the sake of argument, let’s stretch reality and pretend that atheists are completely wrong about their stance on the nonexistence of gods. Let’s go a step further and say that one particular god is not only real, but this god also cares for us and chooses to dabble in our affairs. Now let’s pretend that we actually believe religionists that come forward with first hand proof of answered prayers. By taking these first hand accounts, we can ascertain what types of prayers god usually answers. We should also be able to determine what kinds of prayers god tends to ignore. Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by the answering of prayers. If I have to pretend that believers are telling the truth about their prayers being answered, I should get to at least require that an answered prayer must not come with any overt human involvement. A recent example of overt human involvement is the hole dug for the purpose of rescuing the Chilean miners. I’ve heard believer after believer claim that the miners were alive from the grace of god. They just throw all the credit to god on this and forget the massive human rescue effort, while it is clearly evident that without human intervention, the miners would have been dead long ago. Human assisted answers will not be counted in my non-scientific examination of prayers.

Examples of answered prayers that believers frequently attribute to god(s): disappearing afflictions and ailments, sudden freedom from stress and addiction, newfound financial stability and wealth, protection from a form of particular harm, safety of self and others, better physical and mental performance, pregnancy and child birth, finding a soul mate, getting a desired job, and accomplishing difficult goals.

Examples of the results of prayers that god has never been reported to have answered (surely someone at some point prayed for these): world peace, an end to all human suffering, resurrection of dead loved ones (Biblical accounts don’t count), immortality, prevention of the death of a crop, animal, or human, prevention of environmental disasters, restoration of a catastrophe or environmental disaster, restoration of ruined vehicles or homes, governmental progress and change (I know religionists praying that Obama will die or get kicked out of office), belief in god or the “right” god (I can’t count how many times unprovoked prayers were said for me to change my heathen ways), and healing of disfigurement or dismemberment.

A person thinking clearly would look at these groups of examples and likely see common themes, which I believe to be that god(s) seem to only answer prayers that are impossible to account for. Another theme evident with the answered prayer examples is that each of the first hand accounts all have natural alternative answers as to how they could have occurred, for instance, when it comes the healing of internal ailments, it would be much more reasonable and likely that the ailment was imaginary, incorrectly diagnosed, or healed by natural means.

As a majority of the commonly reported answers to prayers are suspect and unverifiable, it is left to the believer to demonstrate a prayer that has been answered overtly and inexplicably by any other means. While it is quickly becoming an atheist cliche, I must maintain that it says volumes that visible answers to prayer do not happen. I guess believers with physical deformities and amputated appendages are just shit out of luck.

Thriving without gods. November 11, 2010

Posted by thegodless in atheism.
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It stands to reason, when considering the “sacred” words of the holy books, that atheists should be some of the most miserable and lonely humans this planet has ever known. Shunned by our fellow humans at the behest of the gods, we should be seen as being the poor underlings to the vast and obvious greatness of the much more superior supernatural brain slaves. Wasting our precious time and brain power, not on the strength of telepathic prayer, we should be seen toiling away at our pointless and doomed endeavors, yet without a single prayer, most atheists have managed to live happy and productive lives all throughout human history. Without a bent knee, atheists have managed to not only make many important scientific discoveries, but have also done so with a mind towards the good of humanity. How is it then that atheists haven’t spiraled to a godless pit of despair? The answer is that atheist inferiority is a myth on par with the ancient miracles. Not that religionists are known for seriously considering evidence, but one look at the atheist population shows that things are drastically contrary to their indoctrinated and quite popular belief. It’s not just a little ironic that religionists lay claim to being able to achieve anything through the power of their gods, when in fact it has always just been us humans achieving what was once thought unachievable. It’s us, not the gods, that have proven the capacity for greatness. The truth is that it has always been and will always be just us. To religionists, this is a terrifying proposition, but to the atheist, this is just reality and reality happens to dictate that we are only limited by the lies we tell ourselves.