Tag Archives | Atheism

Atheism must be about more than just not believing in god

Not a helpful message. Andy Rain/EPA

Not a helpful message. Andy Rain/EPA

Patrick O’Connor, Nottingham Trent University

Atheism is so often considered in the negative: as a lack of faith, or a disbelief in god; as an essential deprivation. Atheism is seen as being destitute of meaning, value, purpose; unfertile ground for growing the feelings of belonging needed to overcome the alienation that dogs modern life. In more extreme critiques, atheism is considered to be another name for nihilism; a fundamental negation of existence, a noxious blight on creation itself.

Yet atheists – rather than flippantly dismissing the insights of theologians – should take them seriously indeed. Humans, by dint of being human, are confronted with baffling questions about meaning, belonging, direction, our connection to other humans and the fate of our species as a whole. The human impulse is to seek answers, and to date, atheism has been unsatisfactory in its response.

The shackles of humanism

Atheist values are typically defined as humanistic.… Read the rest

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For believers, fear of atheists is fueled by fear of death

Recognizing death’s inevitability, people find comfort in their beliefs. Andreas Hunziker/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Recognizing death’s inevitability, people find comfort in their beliefs. Andreas Hunziker/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Corey L Cook, University of Washington and Sheldon Solomon, Skidmore College

Skepticism about the existence of God is on the rise, and this might, quite literally, pose an existential threat for religious believers.

It’s no secret that believers generally harbor extraordinarily negative attitudes toward atheists. Indeed, recent polling data show that most Americans view atheists as “threatening,” unfit to hold public office and unsuitable to marry into their families.

But what are the psychological roots of antipathy toward atheists?

Historically, evolutionary psychologists argue that atheists have been denigrated because God serves as the ultimate source of social power and influence: God rewards appropriate behaviors and punishes inappropriate ones.

The thinking has gone, then, that believers deem atheists fundamentally untrustworthy because they do not accept, affirm and adhere to divinely ordained moral imperatives (ie, “God’s word”).… Read the rest

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Psychoactive Sermon #3: Ensnared by the Gaze of the Acid Christ

Join me as I rant about:

Organized religion and how it relates to the spiritual retardation of modern culture.

How Christianity is the ONLY spiritual practice I’ve experimented with that demonstrably didn’t work.

Why religious people have a fundamentally more accurate view of the spiritual world than hardcore atheists.

Making a connection with the symbol of the weeping Christ in the midst of an LSD fueled sex marathon.

And most importantly:

How I spontaneously developed a “personal relationship with Jesus” during an epic wine bender.

Just a reminder that you can download my book here super cheap

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here

Friend me on Facebook to get hip to my live magick journal.

@Thad_McKraken on Twitter

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Wanted: A Theology of Atheism

Does the world really need a “theology of atheism”? Probably not but Molly Worthen thinks that secular humanists need one, writing an op-ed at the New York Times:

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — One Sunday last month, I walked into an auditorium past greeters and a table loaded with coffee, fruit and cookies. Onstage two young men tuned their guitars. A blank screen hung down, a silent signal that not knowing the words would be no excuse for not singing along. But this was no typical church service.

Sunday assembly at Conway Hall. Photo: Andrew Davidson (CC)

Sunday assembly at Conway Hall. Photo: Andrew Davidson (CC)

I’d come for Sunday Assembly, a godless alternative to church founded in London in 2013. A cheerful woman with a name tag stood and promised a crowd of about 40 people “all the fun parts of church but without any religion, and with fun pop songs.” The band led us in secular “hymns” like “Walking on Sunshine” and “Lean on Me.” The day’s guest preacher, a Ph.D.

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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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