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Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 07 Feb 2011

“Atheism is an intellectually shallow, morally stunted, and socially regressive blight on humanity.” – Jim O’Neill

“Atheism is an intellectually shallow, morally stunted, and socially regressive blight on humanity.” So says Jim O’Neill in this article:

Atheism 101: Trickle-Down Poison

He has a lot more to say. For example:

Winston Churchill once said of Islam that “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.” I beg to differ—as a regressive, debilitating, socially destructive force, atheism has no peer

But this is the most interesting part:

Dinesh D’Souza has pointed out that atheistic pundits are no longer content with being tolerated; they want to prove that their view of reality is the correct one, once and for all. I concur—bring it on. One side of the debate is correct, and the other side is insanely deluded. It’s obviously important to see which side is on the side of truth.

To say that atheism denies the existence of God doesn’t tell us much, unless we define what we mean by the label “God.” I would be happy to discuss the concept/reality of God, but the focus of this article is atheism not God, so I’ll employ a simple yet usable definition for now. I’ll have to leave questions such as whether God is a white-bearded guy sitting on a cloud, or as Paul said, a reality “in which we live, and move, and have our being,” and other ontological/theological concerns for another time.

For our purposes here, I’ll simply define God as an intelligent power behind creation. Atheists deny the existence of such a God, and from their denial spring a variety of absurd, puerile, and socially harmful concepts.

So which side is insanely deluded? The side that believes in talking snakes, imaginary floods, prayers that never work and a Bible filled with repulsive acts? Or the side that believes in the laws that we can discern in nature? If you are a Christian and have trouble understanding the insanity, these two videos can help open your eyes:

Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 24 Jan 2011

Attack on atheists found in “A Prairie Home Companion”

If you were listening to “A Prairie Home Companion” this weekend on NPR (the January 22, 2001 show), you noticed an attack on Atheist values at the beginning of the second half. The song is called, “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” and the last verse goes like this:

Please help me I’m Lutheran, we’re supposed to be true.
Not shack up with strangers, like Atheists do.
It’s terribly tasteless, and also not right.
But now that we’ve fallen, may I stay the night.
But now that we’ve fallen, may I stay the night.

The second line is an attack on atheist values, and an inaccurate one at that. Here is an indication of reality:

Atheism & Divorce: Divorce Rates for Atheists are Among the Lowest in America

Conservative Christians of all types, evangelical as well as Catholic, tend to link their conservative brand of their religion with proper moral behavior. By far the most popular context is marriage: they claim that a good, solid marriage is only possible when people acknowledge conservative Christianity’s claims about the nature of marriage and gender roles. So why is it that Christian marriages, and especially conservative Christian marriages, end in divorce more often than atheist marriages?

The fact is that atheists, being in general more rational than their religious counterparts, are much more likely to remain crime-free, to honor their marriage vows, etc.

You can listen to the song yourself by going to the show archive:

January 22, 2010 // Show # 1274

The song is at the top of Segment #3

Rationals Thomas on 12 Jan 2011

The 25 Most Influential Living Atheists

The 25 Most Influential Living Atheists

To make it on SuperScholar’s list of influential living atheists, an atheist can’t merely disbelieve in God but also must actively encourage others to disbelieve in God. But even that isn’t enough to make our list. Bill Maher and Penn & Teller, for instance, use their prominence as entertainers to promote atheism. But they do so mainly as popularists, not as scholars attempting to make a considered case against theism and for atheism.

Thus, to make it on our list, an atheist needs not only to be actively promoting atheism but also to do so as scholars in scholarly forums – this is, after all, SuperScholar! All the names below fit that bill. They are notable scholars in their own right and they use their scholarship to promote atheism explicitly or to promote forms of thought that make belief in God untenable.

1. Richard Dawkins
2. Sam Harris
3. Christopher Hitchens
4. Daniel Dennett
5. Stephen Hawking
6. Steven Pinker
7. Michael Shermer
8. Peter Singer
9. Steven Weinberg
10. Paul Kurtz

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 10 Jan 2011

The disgusting way that those who believe in gods treat others

This video makes a number of points, but one of the most important is toward the end, where it describes the disgusting way that religious groups treat others:

Irregardless of whether gods do or do not exist, this disgusting behavior would naturally cause some people to reject religion. Combine it with the fact that there is no evidence that any god exists, and you understand why so many people reject religion.

The strange question is this: why do so many people accept religion, despite the disgusting behavior and the lack of evidence? Another question: why do many who believe in gods then fall into such disgusting behaviors?

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 24 Dec 2010

Marshall Brain has a new project – DecidingToBeBetter.com

Marshall Brain has a new project and he could use your comments and suggestions. It’s called DecidingToBeBetter.com. Is it genius? Insanity? You decide…

Christianity &Islam &Rationals Thomas on 23 Dec 2010

Why do Christians hate Atheists?

It is well known that Christians despise Atheists. And because the majority of Americans are Christians, Atheists are said to be the most despised group of people in the country.

University of Minnesota Study on American Attitudes Towards Atheists & Atheism

Every single study that has ever looked at the issue has revealed massive amounts of bigotry and prejudice against atheists in America. The most recent data shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority and that an atheist is the least likely person that Americans would vote for in a presidential election. It’s not just that atheists are hated, though, but also that atheists seem to represent everything about modernity which Americans dislike or fear.

Why is this? This article tries to find the answer:

Why Religious People Are Scared of Atheists

if you follow atheism in the news, you begin to see a very different story.

You begin to see that atheists are regularly criticized — vilified, even — simply for existing.

Or, to be more accurate, for existing in the open. For declining to hide our atheism. For coming out.

Example:

But this “no atheists in the Christmas parade” sentiment was widely expressed. And more to the point: Many people weren’t content to simply say, “I don’t like this.” They were saying that it should not have been allowed. They were saying that atheists, quite literally, should not have been permitted to march.

Just a reminder before we go on: We’re talking about playing “Jingle Bells” in a Christmas parade. You can’t get any less controversial than this. It’s like a freaking Norman Rockwell painting. How much more sweet and agreeable could you be? Okay, yes, they were playing “Jingle Bells” on vuvuzelas. But that doesn’t seem to be the point. The point seems to be that atheists, simply by existing, and being public about our existence, are offensive, mocking, provocative, hateful troublemakers.

So the next time you hear atheists called offensive, mocking, provocative, hateful troublemakers, remember this: We get called that for playing “Jingle Bells” in a marching band. We get called these things simply for being open about who we are.

The article’s conclusion is hard to deny:

In other words: When all atheists do is say, “Atheists exist,” it gets treated as an assault.

It’s hard not to see this as theocracy being threatened.

How else are we supposed to interpret it? When people say that atheists have no right to march in a public parade, and ought to be prevented from doing so? When people are deeply troubled by their curious children asking questions about different religious views, and think these children ought not to be influenced by any view other than Christianity? What is that but attempting to promote your religious views by silencing all the others?

But there’s another, more insidious way that taking offense at atheists’ existence is an attempt to establish theocracy, and to perpetuate the degree of theocracy that we already have.

Very good article. Read the whole thing.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 22 Dec 2010

An Atheist on Judgement Day

Assume there really is a god of some sort. What happens to an atheist on judgment day? Two takes:

1) Short Story: An Atheist on Judgment Day

2) But what if you’re wrong?

The simple fact is that the “God” of the Bible is so absurd and so self-contradictory that his existence is an impossibility. The idea that any other “god” could exist in its place, and allow such absurdity to infect and delude so many, means that any other god is an absurdity as well, and thus equally impossible. Thus, God is imaginary – any god.

Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 08 Dec 2010

The reality of the “god” in the Bible vs. the Christian feel-good fantasy – How can Christians ignore reality?

One thing that rational people find so bizarre about Christians is their apparent inability to think critically, to read honestly, or to understand the ramifications of their belief in a “god”.

For example, Christians say that the Bible is the word of God. And more than half of Christians say that the Bible is literally true. But then they will completely ignore what the Bible says. The best marker for this desire to ignore the Bible can be seen in the 10 commandments. Christians want to post the 10 commandments everywhere – in schools, court houses, town squares, etc. But then they ignore the commandment to honor the Sabbath, as well as the Bible’s direct commandment to kill everyone who does not honor the Sabbath. This video lays bare the hypocrisy.

In the same way, Christians completely ignore the reality of the Bible’s rape laws:

The Bible’s Rape Laws Made Easy

How could anyone believe in a “god” that is this disgusting? To get out of this, Christians will say, “those rape laws are in the old testament and no longer apply blah blah blah.” When they say that, Christians completely ignore the fact that the 10 commandments are also in the old testament. The hypocrisy stuns any rational person. How can Christians live with such obvious duplicity?

Instead of the God presented in the Bible, most Christians want to believe in a fluffy, happy, friendly “god” like this:

Everybody

The problem with this fluffy “god” is that, in order to believe in him, you must completely ignore reality. Millions of people die every day in horrible ways: starvation, drought, war, genocide, torture, famine, parasites, earthquakes, cancer, tsunamis, disease, etc. They live miserable lives. And then the Bible promises that most of them will be tortured in hell for eternity anyway. This is reality.

How can Christians completely ignore reality? It makes it hard for any rational person to take Christians seriously. How can they be so deluded?

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 30 Nov 2010

The folly of atheism

An interesting thread from the forums:

Looking for atheist responses to “the folly of atheism”

Example of the “Folly”:

5. Atheists believe that blind, unintelligent forces of nature, via genetic mutations and the process of natural selection, produced the myriads of delightful creatures that inhabit Earth’s environment. The skeptic can see that a simple pair of pliers, with only four components, must have been designed by an intelligent being, yet he argues that the human body, with its 100 trillion constituent elements (cells), organized into ten magnificent systems, is merely the result of a marriage between Mother Nature and Father Time. How very stupid such ideology is!

The rebuttals in the forum thread are excellent. And this video helps answer #5:

Also interesting:

Why “Creation Sicence” is doomed

As scientific progress continues at a rate faster than any in human history, the evidence for evolution will continue to increase at a faster and faster rate, while creationists will continue to appear more and more wrong every year. The idea of a scientific challenge to evolution will die with time, if it could be said to have ever been alive. Creationism will be forced to fester in ignorance, as it cannot compete in a modern world where information is increasingly open, and the science of our past becomes increasingly clear.

Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 09 Oct 2010

Christians and Atheists talking together

A Christian posted a message to Atheists on Reddit this week:

A Christian Minister’s take on Reddit

Then he wrote about his experience:

Things I learned from “A Christian Minister’s take on Reddit” yesterday

His observation: “Christians and atheists can have a civil discussion.”

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 02 Oct 2010

The reason why atheists and all other rational people care about religion

The article starts with a simple question: “If someone wants to believe in something completely ridiculous such as religion, why should atheists care?”

Atheism 101: Why do atheists care about religion?

The answer is simple:

As a point of fact, religions are dangerous. People use religion to justify the most absurdly cruel acts and attitudes. Few will argue that religion was the principle motivator for the 911 attacks.

And 9/11 is just the tip of the iceberg.

If people just believed ridiculous mythologies and didn’t act on those beliefs, atheists wouldn’t have a problem and probably wouldn’t spend any amount of time refuting the ridiculous ideas of religion. If I run into a crazy person telling me that Elvis is still alive or that Martians inserted an anal probe in his or her butt, I don’t sit down with the person and go over the logical problems with his or her beliefs. But then again, these people aren’t out there making laws based on their beliefs either. Nor is there a significant voter block trying to push politicians for more Elvis based laws. These Elvis believers aren’t stealing tax payer money in the form of tax-exempt statuses or trying to define marriage as having to be preformed by Elvis impersonators.

Religion produces vile behavior. Then the religious want their behaviors turned into laws that affect everyone.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 21 Sep 2010

Asking a big question

In this post, a woman in her mid-30s asks a big question:

Honest Inquiry

How do you live life fully, without at least a glimmer of hope that something bigger is out there? I’m asking this in all sincerity. What do you believe? What would you (or do you) tell your kids about the beauty of life? How do you find peace, with the understanding of such an immense loss you will eventually face? And how do you explain this drive so many of us have, to do good things in the world? Why am I teaching my toddler to make the right choices, be patient and giving with others, etc? Why is this so important, if we’re simply animals who are here to reproduce and die?

See the thread for a variety of replies. This one was overwhelmingly chosen as the highest rated:

Here’s a way of approaching the universe: You are a tiny speck of insignificant biological material in an immense universe that probably defies your brain’s ability of understanding. Yet you are remarkable, in innumerable ways. Every second of every day you are a walking ecosystem of life, housing trillions of microbes that continuously interact with you to keep both you and them alive. Your body is constantly building and rebuilding itself, encoding information on simple strains of molecules at the speed of jet engines, in each and every nucleus-possessing cell in your body. You are a walking, talking, living, breathing orchestra of life, a beautiful display of the potential inherent in our particular universe.

You are the remarkable product of an unbroken, let me say that again, UNBROKEN line of descendants stretching all the way back to the very first interactions of seemingly pointless inanimate molecules. You share a common ancestry with every living thing ever, including the estimated 106 billion humans who have ever lived. You are tied to the trees and the birds and the small phytoplankton that gently ride the crests and dips of the oceans of this world. You are part of the vibrant tapestry of what we refer to as life, a piece of art that stretches back billions upon billions of years. Everything this universe has thrown at you and your ancestors has been roundly defeated – from harsh radiation, to extraterrestrial objects, to volcanic eruptions and more. You are a symbol of utter perseverance, of the sheer will to continue onwards. You are a cry in the dark, the voice of one who will not be quiet.

So now you’ve realized that there is no inherent meaning to existence. So what? This doesn’t mean life has suddenly lost meaning – it means there was no meaning in the first place. So you haven’t actually lost anything. Instead, you have gained a wonderful opportunity. Give existence the meaning it is seeking. MAKE a purpose for yourself. Maybe it should be your kids, or maybe it should be giving from the bounty you have (because let us face reality – if you have an internet connection and personal computer, you are in the top 10%, maybe even the top 1%, of humanity). Maybe you should learn a new skill, explore a new facet of creation that you never realized was open to you.

So why do you teach a toddler how to behave? Because maybe that toddler will be the one to find other life, other existence in our so far lonely universe. Or maybe they will be the father, the mother, the close friend, the lover, the supporter of the one who does. Or maybe they will be the person to speak out at just the right moment, the one to stand up and stand out, who will provide the inspiration, or the moment of connection for the person who does. Or maybe that toddler will be the one to protect the life around us from an otherwise inevitable end, from the sucking void of empty existence that we struggle against every second of our being.

Are you just a breeder? Just biology? What an insult to biology! Just?!? I forgive you, because you know not what you say :D You are the product of a few basic particles, a few basic forces, yet you are impossibly complex, impossibly intricate. The sheer unlikeliness of your very existence is staggering, and yet here you are. The title of “breeder” is just a single facet of what you are. You can be a teacher, a leader, a thinker, a cook, a scientist, an artist, a musician, a protector, an enlightener, a champion, a peacemaker, a lover, a friend, a companion, a confidant… the list is a vast as the seemingly infinite complexities of neuron interactions in the collection of molecular structures known as cells in your brain.

And let us not end our poetic license there, for if all that is true, than this is also: There is something after death. The part of you that continues to exist in all life around you will never cease to be, not as long as things from this planet continue to live. You will continue on, interminably, from the beginning of life to its end potentially countless aeons from now, if ever. Maybe through some fluke you will be the Eve for humanity in the future, the one woman every human will trace their ancestry back to. Maybe not. But who can tell what the future holds. Rather than collapse under the imagined weight of nothingness, I posit that you should grasp hold of your life, and take it to heights heretofore unseen. Also – Hugs, love, and imaginary hot cocoa!

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 17 Sep 2010

Quote of the day

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” — Marcus Aurelius

You can learn more about Marcus Aurelius here.

You can find commentary on the quote here.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism &Rationals Thomas on 08 Sep 2010

I Know There Is No God

I Know There Is No God

I’m going to explain why it is OK to honestly say that you KNOW that there is no god. I’ve purposefully stirred up the hornet nest on Reddit and have received over 250 criticisms, conjectures and attacks regarding this and I have this to say in response: relax! I’m going to try to address every major concern here.

Christianity &Islam &Rationals Thomas on 23 Aug 2010

A great question for both Christians/Muslims and atheists to ponder: What do you tell Christians when they say “God is outside of space and time.”

A very interesting thread:

What do you tell Christians when they say “God is outside of space and time.”

Three responses in particular are worth quoting:

1)

“One reader of an early draft of this chapter complained at this point, saying that by treating the hypothesis of God as just one more scientific hypothesis, to be evaluated by the standards of science in particular and rational thought in general, Dawkins and I are ignoring the very widespread claim by believers in God that their faith is quite beyond reason, not a matter to which such mundane methods of testing applies. It is not just unsympathetic, he claimed, but strictly unwarranted for me simply to assume that the scientific method continues to apply with full force in this domain of truth.

Very well, let’s consider the objection. I doubt that the defender of religion will find it attractive, once we explore it carefully.

The philosopher Ronaldo de Souza once memorably described philosophical theology as “intellectual tennis without a net,” and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgement was up. But we can lower it if you really want to.

It’s your serve.

Whatever you serve, suppose I return service rudely as follows: “What you say implies that God is a ham sandwich wrapped in tin foil. That’s not much of a God to worship!”. If you then volley back, demanding to know how I can logically justify my claim that your serve has such a preposterous implication, I will reply: “oh, do you want the net up for my returns, but not for your serves?

Either way the net stays up, or it stays down. If the net is down there are no rules and anybody can say anything, a mug’s game if there ever was one. I have been giving you the benefit of the assumption that you would not waste your own time or mine by playing with the net down.”

— Daniel C. Dennett (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life)

2:

“If God exists outside of space and time, then how do you know anything about him?”

The problem is that even if that argument could somehow be true, God would have to step into space and time at some point in order to have an impact on things that exist entirely within spacetime (i.e. us). It is at that point that we can measure the impact God has on the universe and pretty much anything the theist gains form the whole “outside spacetime” argument is lost. If god exists outside of space and time he can’t answer prayers, because prayers originate within space and time. If he exists outside of space and time Jesus (or vishnu or whoever) coming to earth as a man-god makes no sense, and it makes no sense for people like Abraham or Mohammad to be able to talk to God.

TL;DR If someone wants to say that God exists outside of spacetime they can’t say God has an impact within spacetime.

3:

About two years ago I had a debate in a Q&A session with Dr. Frank Turek, a professional apologist. A main part of his argument was that, “God is timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.”

I pointed out to him, “Do you know what else is timeless, spaceless, and immaterial? Nothing. That’s right, nothing. In fact, that’s pretty much a dictionary-perfect definition of ‘Nothing.’ If you were doing a crossword puzzle and asked a scientist, ‘Hey Doc, what’s a seven letter word for something timeless, spaceless, and immaterial?’ He’d say, ‘Nothing,’ not ‘Creator.”

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