Tag Archives | Atheism

Atheists Make Americans Think of Death

What do you think of if/when you think of atheists? If you’re American there’s a good chance the thought of atheism inspires further thoughts about death, per Discovery News:

Atheists consistently rank among the lowest of the low in the court of American public opinion. Now, research suggests one reason why: Thinking about atheists reminds people of death.

The Grim Reaper - geograph.org.uk - 522625

Photo: Trish Steel (CC)

In fact, prompting people to think about atheism triggered death-related thoughts just as strongly as, well, directly prompting people to think about death, a new study finds. These death thoughts help trigger a subconscious dislike of atheists, said study leader Corey Cook, a social psychologist at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Not only do thoughts of death put people in a negative frame of mind, Cook told Live Science, but they also prompt people to hold more tightly onto their own values.

“There’s a little circular thing going on where encountering atheism will make people grasp their values closer and then become more negative because atheists are perceived as not having values,” Cook said.

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Files from the Academic Fringe: Pt. 4 – Skepticism

Eugenie recapitulates phylogeny

Eugenie recapitulates phylogeny

Part 1 — Scientism
Part 2 — Creationism
Part 3 — Racism

It’s hard to believe that scientific skeptics would be anything less than ethical. Aren’t they the good guys in our secular society, sniffing out bullshit and putting age-old wives’ tales to rest? Or is that just a myth?

Apparently debunkers have a dark side. It was just before Halloween 2012. While swirling around the clickbait vortex, I stumbled across a scathing allegation. According to “The Skepchick,” numerous men in the “skeptic community” were bombarding their female colleagues with sexist cracks and crass sexual harassment—and with Richard Dawkins’s tacit approval.

Were these disbelieving libertines trying to open the public’s eyes or reenact Eyes Wide Shut? I had my doubts. About everything.

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Nihilistic Mindfulness

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Andrew Gonsalves writing at Don’t Feed the Animals:

I’ve been bad. I haven’t practiced meditating in a long time and I would easily classify most of my thoughts during the day as “mindless.” That is, of course, the opposite of “mindful.” Mindfulness is a skill that takes a fair amount of work to acquire. The most recognized route to mindfulness is through meditation, wherein you practice acknowledging your thoughts for what they are and then let them go. This leads to what is often called being “in the moment,” a state where you neither pine for the past, nor mull about the future, but instead appreciate your here and now.

The benefits of mindfulness meditation are so numerous that it may as well be considered a superpower (as close as you can get to one in this world). From various health improvements to a calmer, happier disposition, mindfulness will likely improve your life, if only a little bit.

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What Scares The New Atheists

“The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing,” writes John Gray in a very #longread at the Guardian:

In 1929, the Thinker’s Library, a series established by the Rationalist Press Association to advance secular thinking and counter the influence of religion in Britain, published an English translation of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel’s 1899 book The Riddle of the Universe. Celebrated as “the German Darwin”, Haeckel was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; The Riddle of the Universe sold half a million copies in Germany alone, and was translated into dozens of other languages. Hostile to Jewish and Christian traditions, Haeckel devised his own “religion of science” called Monism, which incorporated an anthropology that divided the human species into a hierarchy of racial groups. Though he died in 1919, before the Nazi Party had been founded, his ideas, and widespread influence in Germany, unquestionably helped to create an intellectual climate in which policies of racial slavery and genocide were able to claim a basis in science.

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Islam and Atheism, Problems in Common

2015-02-12-barakat-thumb

Rahuldeep Singh Gill writes at the Huffington Post:

After the cold-blooded executions of three young Muslims in the shattered safety of their North Carolina apartment, it took a day for the national media to figure out that the deaths of three Muslims was worthy of coverage. The three students killed were Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Mohammad’s sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

But once the news did break, it didn’t take long for a knee-jerk web poster to blame the faith commitment of the alleged murderer for the act. Except in this case, his commitment was that he rejected them. Or to be more precise, as an atheist, Craig Hicks rejected the role of religion in everyday life.

According to Vox,

We still don’t know why three students, all Muslim, were shot to death in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday. But there is unconfirmed speculation that the murders were motivated by the victims’ religion, bolstered by a Facebook account that appears to belong to someone with the same name as the man who turned himself into police for the killings, and which identified him as an “anti-theist.”

Atheist or anti-theist, what would make Hicks a repulsive human being are his alleged actions, not his beliefs.

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Why I Drifted Away from the Atheist Movement

Mikko Luntiala (CC BY 2.0)

Mikko Luntiala (CC BY 2.0)

I used to be a militant atheist. Here’s why I’m not anymore:

I’m loath to use the A word because the most vocal and visible proponents of atheism have strayed far away from promoting reason, tolerance and secular values and into promoting misogyny, xenophobia and far-right politics.

But for at least a couple years, from sometime in 2006 until sometime in 2009, I was a militant atheist, dashing off dozens of blog posts condemning religious thought for promoting murder and mutilation. I thought we, the atheists of the world, were railing against injustice and speaking truth to power.

Atheism felt just and true and important. But no longer. What happened?

Atheism as Justification for Xenophobia

Over time I sensed that for far too many people in the movement, atheism was if not a front then at least a rationalization for xenophobia or racism or both.

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A Secular Satanist’s Approach Towards Technoprogressive Transhumanism

new 1lluminati (CC BY 2.0)

new 1lluminati (CC BY 2.0)

Via B.J. Murphy at IEET:

The world is shifting in more ways than one. With the advent of our Transhumanist journey into the future, everything we knew of the old world is dramatically changing before our very eyes. For this article in particular, however, I’d like to direct my attention towards religion.

I’m not a religious person, I must admit. I’m an atheist, like many other Transhumanists. However, I also recognize the importance of unity that the Transhumanist movement is providing with the religious community. As a result, we’ve witnessed the formation of Transhumanist-oriented religious organizations – from the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the Christian Transhumanist Association, Terasem, etc.

As a Signator of the Technoprogressive Declaration, it’s in my hopes that these organizations will also take up the mantle for equality and social justice, just as so many of us Transhumanists have done as well.

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Embracing Paradox Helped Me Discover That Religion Is a Neurological Disorder for Which Faith Is the Only Cure

fra-angelico-the-annunciation

Frank Schaeffer writes at Patheos:

My kaleidoscopic beliefs are fickle and motivated by desire, wishful thinking, and wanting to fit in with my family and community and to make my marriage work. My dogmatic declarations of faith once provided status, ego-stroking power over others and a much better income than I’ve ever earned since fleeing the evangelical machine. Certainty made things simple, gave me an answer to every question and paid the bills.

With the acceptance of paradox came a new and blessed uncertainty that began to heal the mental illness called certainty, the kind of certainty that told me that my job was to be head of the home and to order around my wife and children because “the Bible says so.” Embracing paradox helped me discover that religion is a neurological disorder for which faith is the only cure.

These days I hold two ideas about God simultaneously: he, she or it exists and he she or it doesn’t exist.

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Why You Don’t Need God

Ryan J. Bell, former pastor turned atheist, says we don’t need a divinity to find meaning, writing at CNN:

It was January 2014 and I was sitting on the beach in Malibu looking out at the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean, ebbing and flowing. I had just begun a personal project of challenging my lifelong assumption that God exists.
Atheist Bus Campaign Launch

You see, I had been a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 19 years. I resigned from my pastoral position the year before, but now I stepped away from my faith altogether. It was a gut-wrenching decision but I couldn’t see any other way to find peace and clarity. I encountered major theological differences with my denomination and evangelical Christianity in general, including the way it marginalizes women and LGBT people.

I questioned the problem of evils and God’s general silence and inactivity. I sought out more liberal theologies and found them to be the slow death of God.… Read the rest

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Will Religion Ever Disappear?

Burning crossAtheism is on the rise around the world, so does that mean spirituality will soon be a thing of the past? BBC Future‘s Rachel Nuwer discovers that the answer is far from simple:

A growing number of people, millions worldwide, say they believe that life definitively ends at death – that there is no God, no afterlife and no divine plan. And it’s an outlook that could be gaining momentum – despite its lack of cheer. In some countries, openly acknowledged atheism has never been more popular.

“There’s absolutely more atheists around today than ever before, both in sheer numbers and as a percentage of humanity,” says Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and author of Living the Secular Life. According to a Gallup International survey of more than 50,000 people in 57 countries, the number of individuals claiming to be religious fell from 77% to 68% between 2005 and 2011, while those who self-identified as atheist rose by 3% – bringing the world’s estimated proportion of adamant non-believers to 13%.

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