Tag Archives | Atheism

Capitalism is God’s Will and the Cat Drank all the Milk: How our Language Creates our Biggest Problems and Why We Can’t do Anything about It

Felipe Del Valle (CC BY 2.0)

Felipe Del Valle (CC BY 2.0)

I have a confession to make, one that a good number of readers will find disgusting and emetic and prevent many of them from reading further. Others, however, might relate or find it interesting regardless, and so those people will continue to read, which, I suppose, is good enough for me. You see, when I was a child, from a very early age, probably as early as I can remember, I felt all around me the “Presence of God.” It was and is, in all actuality, an impossible feeling to properly describe, but I suppose to some extent that I could say that I felt some sort of “immanent-transcendent energy” “flowing” through me and through my surroundings. Having lived in a rural area hours away in any direction from something resembling civilization, many of my childhood memories consist of me sitting in the backseat of a Toyota 4Runner driving somewhere else, usually toward civilization somewhere.… Read the rest

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Why Aren’t More Americans Atheists?

Meslier.jpg

Jean Meslier, 17th Century French Catholic priest who was discovered, upon his death, to have written a book-length philosophical essay promoting atheism.

“Turns out it has nothing to do with science. And everything to do with politics,” writes Nick Spencer at Politico:

Many expressed surprise recently when, in one of its periodic surveys of Americans’ views of other faiths, the Pew Research Center found that atheists fare poorly—fully 40 percent of those polled described their views toward atheists as “cold.” Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons—all are viewed more favorably than nonbelievers. Only around 2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists, even though religious observance, measured by things like church attendance and daily prayer, has been trending downward for decades.

You might think that America would be fertile ground for the rise of atheism. After all, the United States is the most scientifically advanced society in human existence, and as far as atheism has a history—and it is an oddly uncharted one—it is popularly believed to be of slow, steady scientific advance.

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Atheist TV Channel Launches

atheist tvWell I don’t see why there shouldn’t be Atheist TV, considering the proliferation of Christian and other religious television channels. Plus atheists can be just as rigid and dogmatic as religious extremists… From the New York Times:

Atheists are angry, and watch out, because now they have a television channel.

This week the organization American Atheists announced the premiere of Atheist TV, available through the streaming service Roku and over the Internet. That news will certainly prompt assorted knee-jerk reactions in some quarters, and perhaps some confusion:

“Atheist TV? It’ll be full of incest and smut and debaucheries of all kinds. Oh, wait; that’s HBO.”

“Atheist TV? It’ll be nonstop mockery of conservative Christians and Republicans and Middle America. Oh, wait; that’s Comedy Central.”

“Atheist TV? It’ll be godless wiccans and flesh-eating zombies and serial killers and all manner of other people who lack the Judeo-Christian morals that built America.

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An Atheist’s Defence of Irrationality

Dr. Isaac Asimov, 1965

Dr. Isaac Asimov, 1965

Raghunath Joshi writes:

Isaac Asimov said ‘I am an emotional atheist. As to the claim that God exists, my suspicion is so strong that I don’t want to waste my limited time believing/acting on it’. Even though I am an atheist, I can appreciate religion when ever it results in kindness honesty and courage, like the writer Kurt Vonnegut when he says ‘Believe in all harmless untruths if it makes you kind, happier and more truthful’.

In all of the arguments that we, atheists make against religion, the underlying thread is ‘logic’. The problem with using logic is that we HAVE to stop it at one point in the line of argument. It is so because logic can’t create a meaning of one’s life. It can only help us derive a moral structure from a fundamental premise such as ‘compassion towards’ / ‘happiness of’ / ‘freedom of’ all living creatures.

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Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?

PIC: Ensceptico (CC)

PIC: Ensceptico (CC)

Eric Reitan writes at Religion Dispatches’ (A)theologies:

Not long ago, Christopher Hitchens—pugilistic author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything—sat down for an interview with retired Unitarian minister (and self-professed “liberal Christian”) Marilyn Sewell. It wasn’t the usual sort of conversation that Hitchens has with “believers,” since his preferred sparring partners tend to be religious conservatives and apologists for fundamentalism (such as Douglas Wilson).

Not surprisingly, early in the interview Hitchens was quick to announce who was a real Christian and who wasn’t, and to insinuate that Sewell fell into the latter camp; a comment that has inspired more than a few raised eyebrows among religious progressives.

But it’s easy to let Hitchens’ arrogance on this matter obscure some broader themes—and some surprising concessions on Hitchens’ part—that emerged in the course of the interview.

One of these themes has to do with just how much Hitchens and Sewell have in common.

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British Court Charges The Mormon Church With Fraud Over Its Teachings

mormon churhcIf organized religions solicit money from the public while propagating factually untrue claims, do they amount to illegal marketing scams? A British legal challenge is putting Mormonism to the test, the Telegraph reports:

A British magistrate has issued an extraordinary summons to the worldwide leader of the Mormon church alleging that its teachings about mankind amount to fraud.

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London next month to defend the church’s doctrines including beliefs about Adam and Eve and Native Americans.

A formal summons signed by District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe warns Mr. Monson, who is recognised by Mormons as God’s prophet on Earth, that a warrant for his arrest could be issued if he fails to make the journey from Salt Lake City, Utah, for a hearing on March 14.

The summons suggests that asking members of the church to make contributions while promoting theological doctrines which “might be untrue or misleading” could be a breach of the Fraud Act 2006.

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Remember How the Esquire Click Bait “Debunking” of Eben Alexander Ended up Being Total Bullsh*t?

esquirealexanderAs 2013 starts to fade into demonstrably unreliable memoryville, I’m sure the answer to that headline’s question for most remains no. It’s fascinating but when you think about it, last year ended up being a banner one in terms of exposing our insanely irrational cultural biases toward Gnostic spiritual concepts of any variety. Right off the bat, you had the Hancock/Sheldrake TED debacle and maybe nothing shifted in 2012, but when pretty early on you accidentally catch a discussion about Near Death Experiences on the Katie Couric Show of all places, it strikes you that maybe something did get tweaked ever so slightly beneath the surface. Of course the reason NDE’s were actually being talked about on ridiculously mainstream cultural markets like this had to do with money and the mass amounts of it Eben Alexander’s book on the topic managed to rake in. Everyone wants a piece of that action no matter how risqué.… Read the rest

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Is Atheism An Intellectual Luxury For The Wealthy?

Crack addict (not one of Arnade's photos - they're all copyrighted)

Crack addict (not one of Arnade’s photos – they’re all copyrighted)

Photographer Chris Arnade has a fantastic collection entitled Faces of Addiction set in New York’s South Bronx. He writes in The Guardian that “The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes. I’ve been reminded that life is not as rational as Richard Dawkins sees it. Perhaps atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy”:

They prayed whenever they could find 15 minutes. “Preacher Man”, as we called him, would read from the Bible with his tiny round glasses. It was the only book he had ever read. A dozen or so others would listen, silently praying while stroking rosaries, sitting on bare mattresses, crammed into a half-painted dorm room.

I was the outsider, a 16-year-old working on a summer custodial crew for a local college, saving money to pay for my escape from my hometown. The other employees, close to three dozen, were working to feed themselves, to feed their kids, to pay child support, to pay for the basics of life.

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Florida Atheist’s Challenge Leads To Display Of Festivus Pole In The State Capitol

festivusA Florida man has forced the state to display his homemade pillar of beer cans alongside a nativity scene at the state capitol, NBC 6 South Florida reports:

A nearly 6-foot-tall pole made from emptied beer cans will be put up in the Florida Capitol this week as a not-so-subtle protest to the recent placement of a Christian nativity scene.

The homemade Festivus pole will be erected most likely on Wednesday in the same first-floor rotunda as a nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ that was put up last week by the Florida Prayer Network. Festivus is a “holiday” created for the TV sitcom “Seinfeld”.

Chaz Stevens, a Deerfield Beach resident, applied to the state Department of Management Services to put the Festivus pole on display. Stevens said the intent of the Festivus pole is to make a political statement on the need for the separation of church and state.

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