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Certainty: Set Us Free April 15, 2011

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For a group of people that are so convinced that they are correct, Religionists sure do seem to have a complex when it comes to allowing others to seriously consider what they believe. They seem to have an even greater complex in allowing others to freely determine whether they are convinced or not. If you are a person that has failed to be convinced, you can expect that there will be many attempts to you force into line. You can expect that there will be laws that say that you cannot hold office, money that says that you trust the Religionist’s god, a motto that says that you are living “Under God”, and many other attempts of making sure you don’t fall through the Religionist’s crack. Many Religionists like to say that we have free will, but they sure don’t seem to support that for nonbelievers. On closer examination, it appears more like we are being told that there is no escape from the appendages of religion. One must ask why Religionists need it to be this way. Could it be that someone is so unconvinced by their own beliefs that they feel a need for special exceptions to shore up their own doubts? Just a thought, but if Religionists ever expect to win over nonbelievers, they will only do so by first offering up an argument for the existence of god that is free of any and all coercion. Knowing the current arguments inside out, I highly doubt that they are even capable of it. Religionists would only have to compare their current Church and State violations with how oppressive regimes maintain power and they would see that their belief has become tyrannical and defeating of their own stated purposes.

Religion, Child Abuse, and Exposure to Adult Sexuality March 26, 2011

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Anyone that has ever read the Bible (I mean really read the Bible) knows that it contains some very explicit sexual content. In Genesis alone the Bible contains the following pieces of bad advice:

19:1-8 Rape virgins instead of male angels
24:2-3, 9 Place your hand “under the thigh” (sexual organs) of someone swearing sacred oaths
25:1-6 Keeping mistresses is not adultery

Since there are literally hundreds of sexually inappropriate Bible verses, should our children really be made to read them? Better yet, should children really be included in the debate regarding adult sexuality? Apparently, Westboro Baptist parents feel that they should. The Westboro Baptists regularly trot out their poor children to hold signs regarding what they view as sexual depravity. Surely, if they have instructed their children to hold up these signs, they have also explained to them what they mean. As a child welfare worker, I can say with certainty that when kids get exposed to adult sexuality, whether by accident or on purpose, they will have questions. Most kids simply do not have the context to understand things of a sexual nature. If Westboro parents are exposing their kids to the knowledge of adult sexuality, some at six or seven years old, and then using the Bible as a guidebook for explaining everything, their kids could be at serious risk. It’s not a stretch to say that a case could be made to show that Westboro parents are neglecting to protect their children’s welfare every time they parade them out with sexually explicit signs.

Isiah 36:12″…you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

Religion Must Go: Why Accomodationism Fails. March 22, 2011

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“The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” – Friederich Nietzsche

I won’t pretend that the following examples are fully representative of the current status between atheists and their religious opponents, though it could be argued that at one time or another these relationships have turned out pretty fucking bad for atheists. Religion, by it’s very nature, is an enemy to reason and thus an enemy to atheism. There are striking resemblances in the relationships of atheists and religionists to those of the Nazis and Jews, African Americans and the KKK, Islamic extremists and freedom, and Eminem and Vanilla Ice. I can say with reasonable certainty that none of the above named groups will ever be capable of buddying up for any extended period of time.

“I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out.” – Bertrand Russell

It is a matter of fact that certain groups of people are inherently in opposition to one another. Because the beliefs and values of these oppositional groups are so far divided, these groups will never be able to find a middle ground to work with. When I say that these groups will never be able to find middle ground, I’m speaking of the groups as a whole and not subsets or individuals in these groups. I know that it very common for individuals to set aside their differences, but I can’t imagine, under any circumstances, that the KKK is going to begin allowing African Americans in as members. I also can’t imagine that Christianity, or Islam for that matter, is capable of changing it’s stance on homosexuals, women’s rights, and atheists. Neither religion currently has the capability to edit out the hate filled verses aimed at these groups. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable with accommodating a groups that feels that I should either be killed, shunned, or burning in Hell.

“Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration–courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.”- H. L. Mencken

At this point, I’m not here to argue about who is right and who is wrong, I am simply trying to show that religion, as a whole, is incompatible with atheism. I say this, as I know that many people on both sides are wishing for a future where all sides are walking hand in hand. I fully admit that I often desire this outcome too, it’s just that it may never be possible. Even if I feel that it is highly unlikely, I can still hope right? Even though I admit that I don’t believe that there is chance for hand in hand cooperation, I am by no means calling for an end to the efforts and I am in no way saying our battle should ever resort to violence. What I do feel, much like Reagan’s stance on not negotiating with terrorists, is that atheists everywhere should be focusing more of their time on efforts that reduce religion’s power and sway. I’m not claiming to know what strategies work, but I can reason out that finding common ground is only going to take us so far. Even if atheism was able to mesh with religion, history has shown us that it will only be a matter of time before religion takes a new fanatical turn and we are again victimized by it’s violent dogmatic irrationality.

An unrelated, but awesome quote: “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find my self in – an interesting hole I find my self in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
– Douglass Adams

The twisting mind. March 16, 2011

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“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned” – Anonymous

Many claim that faith is a virtue. Many also claim that having faith is difficult to attain. If these statements were in fact true, why is it something that one month old can learn and why is it so difficult for man to live with such uncertainty? From a very early age, children learn to have faith in many things. Most children quickly learn to have faith in their parents, their enviornment, and their own body. It is through faith that children are able to comfort themselves in times of stress and need. Faith is so engrained into us that it becomes our default position. Faith is not in any way a skill. It is not considered a skill when we are good about trusting the sun to come up. It is however considered a skill when someone is able to figure out how and why the sun comes up.

Those of us that cannot seem to live without 100% faith, resort to religion when questions become too complex. If faith is easy, then religion is too. Religion is nothing more than the easy way out of complex questions. Religion is what happens when man desires answers, figures out that the some questions may be unanswerable, and decides to just give up on the quest for truth.

To not have faith and to be okay with not knowing is a skill far beyond that of faith. We are not, at any point in our infancy, taught to just be okay with things. For theists to propose that God must exist simply because they believe that nothing could ever come from nothing is the most extreme form of faith, for the theist also believes that there God came from nothing.

I have no idea about how we got here and I am certain that neither do theists. The biggest difference is that they cannot accept uncertainty. They would believe some of the most absurd things just to escape the uneasy feeling of the unknown. They would claim the existence of an always present invisible being before looking to the sky and proclaiming that maybe reality has always just been or at the very least proclaiming that maybe we will just never know. The thing that theists can never seem to get is that, just because atheists don’t have all the answers, they don’t get to fill in all of our gaps in knowledge with unfounded absurdities.

“To really be free, You need to be free in the mind” – Alexander Loutsis

…and the Lord said FTW! March 15, 2011

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“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature” – Frank Lloyd Wright

If I were to say to you that God told me that he allowed a particular tragedy to take place in order to teach us a lesson, how could anyone dispute or disprove that this had occurred? It’s easy to dismiss widely agreed upon crazies like the tragedy leeching Westboro nuts, for even the least rational amongst us can see that they are fucking insane, but what makes them any different from Glen Beck, Pat Robertson, or the preacher down the road? They all claim to know the mind of a being that they would likely argue is too complex for man to know. They all like to use the alleged opinions of this being as a way to progress their own opinions. Is there not the slightest chance they can all be frauds?

There are so many logical problems with messengers of God that I don’t even know where to begin. I could always start with the fact that God always sends messages well after his actions have taken place. What are we infant-like humans to learn from, when we get punished before we even know what we did wrong? I don’t know about you, but I thought that good parents know not to whip their kids without first explaining to them why it was that they were getting whipped. Looking past God’s poor parenting skills, we then see a problem with conflicting interpretations on God’s messages. What if Glen Beck says a horrible event took place because of homosexuality and Pat Robertson then says it actually happened because of abortion? Ugh! I won’t even get into resolving different messages from opposing gods.

It’s obvious that, for a person to say, with any level of certainty that God is sending messages through various environmental and human disasters, it is to speak in complete nonsense. Even if the mind of such a complex being could be known, how can anyone ever verify that this being had spoken and relayed an intention to someone like Pat Robertson? There is no way to tell if Mr. Robertson is telling the truth or lying. How is it that us lowly humans have figured out a better way of disseminating the truth than all knowing gods? Why would the most intelligent being known continue to rely upon such faulty techniques like heresay?

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion” – Robert Pirsig

Evolution, Incest, and Improving God February 6, 2011

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Don’t ever say that all atheists hate God, because this one is about to do him a favor. It’s been several thousands of years since God first decided to write the Bible (though technically he didn’t write anything, instead employing over a dozen men to act as ghost writers (not to be confused with the Ghost Rider, a second string Marvel character recently brought to mediocre life by comic geek Nicholas Cage)), so I thought that it would be of great service to God if someone was willing to straighten out the Bible for the modern discerning audience. Since my chances of being that someone are considerably higher from being a male and since God is obviously sending me a sign in the form of a blizzard, I thought why not become a part of official canon. There really is nothing like being granted privileges just for being born with testosterone and testicles.

With the knowledge of my God given male superiority and seeing as how God has never worried much before about males repeatedly hacking, twisting, and omitting his words, I thought to myself that I am just as qualified as any to ensure the good news gets spread appropriately. So, with God’s foresight and awareness of all that I do and by the virtue of me writing this without being struck dead, I have decided, with God’s implied approval (he is after all choosing not to stop me) to continue with my implementation of (what I have now decided is really God’s plan) my holy mission to make the Bible make better sense.

As we all are perfectly aware, including our all knowing father, it is not in good practice (incestual births produce a higher rate of deformity, mental retardation, and pansy assed liberals) to mate with our own children. The Bible that is in current use clearly leaves Adam and Eve in the predicament of having to mutiply, yet having only their children to do so with. Now, we all know that God could have easily just whipped up some more rib babies, but he chose not to do that for a very good reason (and it was not, as many of those godless heathens claim, because he enjoys being omnipresent for inbreeding). You may be asking yourself, why a loving God would force parents to fuck their own kids, but you would be focusing on the wrong question. What you should be asking is how we can learn from the perfect morals that God always shows. Why is it that I feel that you are still unconvinced? Haven’t you been told that the Bible should be your moral compass? Now, we also know that God could have avoided the issue of incest by creating more than just one breeding pair of humans, but that would defeat the purpose that I am about to reveal. Let it be my first act as Biblical editor #4133 to explain why it was that God saw fit to force incest upon Adam and Eve. I know your probably saying to yourself that none of the real world evidence we observe supports the Biblical creation account, so I’m here to show you how it actually does and why it is that most of the smartest people on earth can’t see it. Anyways, like I was saying, God forced Adam and Eve into commiting incest for a reason. To see God’s reason, one must only look to the fossil record. As all true believers are aware, the rise of evolution has completely ruined humanity’s faith in God. For those of us that know that evolution is full of lies, it has been disheartening to watch fossil after fossil seemingly support every aspect of evolution. As an editor of God’s holy truth, it is with great pleasure that I announce that we can finally sleep at night, as evolution is dead (you can tell all your kinfolk that it’s safe to send their kids back to public schools), for the fossil record doesn’t show evidence of transitions, it shows evidence of Adam and Eve’s inbreeding. You see, God forsaw that the theory of evolution would one day threaten the existence of the entire Universe, and to avoid the need for a Universe sized Hell, God purposefully introduced human deformity into humanity’s fossil record. The missing links that scientists believe are evidence for evolution, are in fact only our inbred ancestors.

You may be wondering why some fossils date to different times, but I’m telling you that it all makes sense if you don’t think about it too much. I highly recommend that you don’t worry about such details. In fact, God is implying by his silence that you had better not. So, until next time, when we look at how God uses death and suffering to make you feel special, goodnight and God bless white males.

The Atheist President January 20, 2011

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As America slips further down the dangerous path of irreconcilable division, politicians on both sides of the fence have only made matters worse with their fear based decision making, mud slinging, and worst of all, complete uncooperation with one another. Even in times of prosperity, these behaviors would be considered unacceptable, but to see this going on when America’s future is currently in a bit of a crisis is a crime against every US citizen. When many are quick to lay blame to those that got us where we are, it would be even more damnable to have an opportunity to fix things and squander it. Upon originally learning of the crisis, Americans were quick to act by voting for change and when that change did not come quick enough, Americans again voted for change by shifting power. We can all safely assume that America would like to change, though I am sure that many of us would argue about exactly what kind of change it is we need.

Change is difficult enough to achieve for the individual, so it is no surprise that America is having such a tough time of it. It’s almost as if we can see the mountain that we are about to crash into and we are only willing to slow down instead making a sharp turn. I would still like to think that we are capable of turning the wheel of this beat up old hot rod. The problem we seem to have with grabbing the wheel is that everyone is turning in different directions and even when most of us want to go in a particular direction, the engine we’ve installed fails. The way our politicians have been conducting business in the last few decades is counter to how a useful and productive organism works. I don’t know of a single person that would not be willing to compromise if they knew it could help others, nor do I know of anyone that is willing to publicly announce their complete disdain for another individual, nor do I know of anyone that would willingly let self serving organizations guide them on the decisions they make for their family. When people say that politicians have lost touch with America, it should also include that they have lost touch with democracy and civility. Looking at our representatives, one could get the impression that all Americans are spoiled brats that throw tantrums and insults to get their way, yet everyday I see differently. If Americans are typically a kind and considerate people, why then are we represented to be the opposite?

So, how are we to escape the vicious spin cycle that appears to be leading us in no direction but down? In my humble and very willing to admit that I may be wrong opinion, we are going to need to oust the demagogues and replace them with leaders that have the ability to rationally consider things and communicate with openess and compassion for opposing views. In order to ensure that any of this will ever work, we Americans must quit looking for leaders that play to our emotions and instead look to those that display critical thinking skills. This will give us a higher probability of electing a leader that can not only use logic and pragmatism to make better decisions about America’s myriad of problems, but also present a more informed argument for why tough decisions were made. It’s not realistic to expect that we can just set aside all differences for the sake of compromise, but having a leader that is always open to changing opinions based upon credible evidence will at least keep opposing views permanently on the table. This kind of openess will help to satiate those that disagree with decisions being made. This kind of openess can only come from someone that is willing to set aside personal bias and majority held opinions in order to clearly and rationally examine issues.

If we are to ever get serious about solving some of America’s various woes, we will have to come to grips with the fact that some of our own opinions may not be supported by the evidence. All of the opposing views can’t all be right. I’m not so sure that we are sufficiently ready and willing to start looking to only unfiltered evidence for decision making. I do know that it will be easy to tell when America is ready to start making more informed and thus better decisions, as it will be the day that America has elected it’s first reason based (atheist) President. One can only hope that this change occurs before we have completely wrecked our once great hot rod of a nation.

The Incompatibility of Freedom and Islamic Sensitivity. January 8, 2011

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With over 1.5 billion adherents or nearly 25% of all of people on planet Earth, one could easily make the mistake of believing that Islam is filled with secure and self assured followers, yet it is with the smallest infraction that many Muslims react with outrage and violence. Considering that Islam is the majority religion in over 50 countries, it’s quite shocking to see so many Muslims up in arms over a silly offense like blasphemy. By overreacting to criticism, often with violence, Islam is sending a message to the rest of the world that it is not ready or willing to enter socities based upon freedom. With violent reactions aimed primarily at apostates, Christians, nonbelievers, and Jews, many Muslims tell the rest of the world that Islam is not meant to be tolerable. As much as Islam demands respect in the countries it doesn’t control, it tends to pay very little of the same respect to differing beliefs in it’s own lands. While violence and intolerance is clearly a trait of radical Islam, it’s the doctrine of Islam itself that supports these behaviors. To the moderate Muslim, Islamic doctrine does not endorse violence and intolerance, yet the Quran clearly instructs every follower to kill those that will not convert and lie about the plans to do so. When the Quran instructs followers to spread their faith at any cost, how can any rational person accept that Islam’s goals are to live in peace side by side with people that don’t believe the same way? If Islam truly wants the rest of the world to open it’s arms in embrace, maybe it’s followers should consider removing any instances in their doctrine about killing us and accept that everyone should be free to say whatever they may.

To show that I am reasonable and fair minded about my examination of Islam, I would like to say that Islam offers a much better way of dealing with poverty in Zakat than any Western society I can think of. Zakat is a tax that Muslims pay from their accumulated wealth, which is then given to those that are in need. Even though Zakat is a worthy idea for ending poverty, it’s not without it’s faults. Besides helping the poor, Zakat can also be used to help pay for the spread of Islam. Why is that all religions, with their claims for helping mankind, can’t just do so without indoctrination? If anyone was serious about ending poverty, they would focus the entirety of their poverty tax/tithes on doing so.

Christianity’s Alternate Reality January 5, 2011

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Imagine for a few seconds that you are trapped in an alternate reality where what is fake is taken as real and what is crazy is taken as sane. Done? Now imagine that this backwards alternate reality is colliding with your own and threatening to take over by rewriting your history, your science, and your very purpose. Done? Welcome to the year 2011 on planet Earth.

Since the 50’s Communist scare, beginning with the artificial inclusion of the phrases “In God We Trust” and “One Nation Under God” into our secular democracy, there has been a concerted effort by many Christians to create an alternate reality that allows them to live blissfully in a pseudo world where everything they believe is real and there are no doubts about that at all. The effort towards building upon this pseudo world seems to have ramped up in the last decade. Christians everywhere have been flocking to this shadow world made of search engines that censor out anything against Christianity, a willfully biased online encyclopedia called Conservapedia, several museums that build up the pretend reality of Creationism, both radio and television stations that have been created only for the purpose of spouting out Christian approved news and views, many different dedicated social networking sites that shield Christians away from mingling with heathens and other infidels, modified versions of popular songs to fulfill and replace the Christian’s need for some decent tunes, and a growing number of home schools that work as a whole to ensure that the pseudo world will continue to survive and thrive. For Christians, this pseudo world is their answer to an encroaching reality, a way to have a sustainable future in a world that is quickly leaving them behind.

The alternate reality that Christians have built for themselves could be an important indicator of things to come, for it has long been known that living in denial is a stage of grief. According to the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief, denial is usually a temporary defense and is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions. We can only hope so.

As a former Christian, I can sympathize with those going through the denial stage. When I first lost my faith I experienced a tremendous amount of grief. I have heard many other stories by ex-Christians about the pain associated with losing faith. If Christianity is indeed grieving, there could soon be an explosion of depression among Christians. If you are a person that is experiencing depression related to losing your faith, don’t despair for there is help. You can start by looking here.

Unifying Reason January 4, 2011

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While I am certain of my ignorance when it comes to the rules of nonprofits like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I am not so certain that humanism, secularism, atheism, or whatever you want to label it, is getting the most benefit out of having so many splinter groups. I understand that many of these groups play very different roles and understand the importance of diversity, but we should at the very least have a loose coalition for those times when we need a strong unified front to combat our enemies. As I’ve stated, I am not certain what the limitations are on nonprofits and they very well may be required to be a soviergn entity, but I think it is worth speculating about the possibility for a single unifying foundation that is capable of uniting the entire spectrum of secular nonprofits.

I would love to hear what other more knowledgable people have to say regarding this proposal. The FFRF has about 16,000 members and they are our largest National group. Surely we can do better than that. There are mega churches in Texas with more than 16,000 members.