FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Posts Tagged ‘atheist’

What’s the harm?

Posted by Eye4Cards on November 13, 2008

There have been many questions posed to me over the years by believers; some good, some bad.  There are also many of the same old chestnuts that make their regular appearance in my conversations.  Today I’d like to kill four of those birds with one answer.  And they are:

  • Why not believe in God?
  • What’s the harm in believing in God?
  • Aren’t outspoken atheists just as dogmatic and absolute as the outspoken religious?
  • How can you be so arrogant as to believe we are all there is in this universe and that we don’t need God?

Because of the close relationship of these questions, they often come up together in the same conversation in one form or another, often in a similar progression.  It usually goes something like this:

IE [Internet Evangelist]:  “You must be the only idiot alive to not know of God’s existence!  Why wouldn’t you believe?  What do you have against God?”

Me:  “All of the evidence we currently have overwhelmingly points to a lack of creator god in our universe.  All organized religions contradict each other and contain numerous inaccuracies.  We can also see how all of the different religions have evolved over the centuries.  We also know much about the psychological benefits and hindrances religions can cause.”

IE:  “Yeah, you might think you are smart, but what if you’re wrong?  Is it worth the risk?  How can you be so certain there is no God?”

Me:  “I’m certain no god of any organized religion exists.  Which god are you referring to anyways?  Yahweh?  Allah?  Zeus?  Anubis?  You are talking about Pascal’s wager.  The problem is you don’t know which god to bet the farm on, and if you’re wrong you’ve spent all of your time, effort and money on the wrong pursuit.  It’s a moot point anyway, because all organized religions are fallible and imperfect; hence, man-made.  Just because we don’t know everything about the universe, it doesn’t mean god is hiding behind everything we are ignorant of.  Although our ignorance is always the first thing labeled God.”

IE:  “Well, you can’t PROVE there is no God.  So you are just as bad as evangelicals preaching the gospel.  You preach there is no God when you can’t even prove He doesn’t exist!”

Me:  “The burden of proof is on the person who makes a positive claim of the existence of anything natural or supernatural.  There has yet to be a single piece of solid evidence to even come close to proving the existence of any God.  I can claim to have seen Santa Clause, but without the flying reindeer and elf factories I have no proof.  I talk about atheism and everything relating to it because I know there are many, many negative and horrible things that religions not only encourage, but thrive on.”

IE:  “Why would you take away what little comfort in life many people have left?  The only thing that gives many people hope is religion.  Why would you want to destroy that?”

Me:  “If we all sought education through reason, truth and enlightenment as the foundation of our societies, much of our suffering would be eliminated, and there would be more comforts and happiness to give people not just hope, but dignity, pride and reason to live.  No one wants to add to the misery and suffering of the human condition.  We all want to improve our lot in life.  False religions give false hope and security.  They make us live for a fictitious god and the fantasy of living forever in happiness after we are dead.  We can do much better than this on our own.  Religion feeds off of our fears, desires and suffering.  It is a parasite whose only real purpose is the illusion of peace and bliss for profit.”

IE: “What makes you think we can just cast God away and live for ourselves?  That’s just plain selfish and hedonistic.  It’s humbling to know that there is someone who created me and I have a special purpose in this vast universe of my very own.”

Me:  “It is the height of arrogance to believe we are the center of the universe created especially for us as a test before we live for all eternity bathing in god’s glory.  It is the irony of ironies that the most egocentric concept conceivable is considered humble and pious while the thoughtful realist is painted as a self-absorbed, sociopathic egomaniac.  I guess thinking this way makes swallowing the bitter pill of guilt and sin that is religion much easier to bear.”

I hope to cover more specific reasons for why religion is generally harmful in later posts.  There are many, and I couldn’t hope to list them all in one spot, let alone remember much of them off the top of my head.  Leave a comment if you think of some good examples of why religion is harmful, and I’ll try to include them in the next post on this topic.

miracleofchristianity

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

I need to declare a media moratorium…

Posted by Andy Welfle on October 24, 2008

…Because if I don’t, I sometimes accidentally see lackwits like this woman:

After I watched it, I really, really hoped it was some kind of parody. This idiot woman was so santimonious, so stupid, so unwilling to take any sort of personal responsibility for her actions, that she would judge her husband for voting for someone whose politics would benefit his livelihood — and hers, too.

This is the kind of person I was talking about earlier. She gave this little shudder when she talked about how Obama’s mother was an atheist, equating it in her small mind to Satanism or pedophilia. I bet she has a closet full of Chick Tracts.

I’ve been becoming increasingly stressed out, and I think that it is because I’ve been following this election and watching the media more than ever before. And when I do that, I’m exposed to this kind of thinking. It makes me lose hope for any chance this country will adopt any sort of enlightened thinking, and I realize that my cause and the cause of this organization can never succeed unless we can find a way to counter irrational thinking like this. And how can rational thinking trump the irrational?

Sorry about the rant. Can anyone here talk me down, á la Rachel Maddow? Sound off in the comments.

Posted in Humor, Politics, Video | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Thank You Google for Finding a Topic

Posted by dystressed on October 14, 2008

I have been at a loss for words lately, but I thought that it would be nice to have something new on the blog, so I decided to do a Google news search for the term “atheist.” Of course I received a long list of results, but the one that really struck me was a post on a sports satire blog called Serious Sports News Network.

Apparently, an atheist (thanks Google) in Tampa is waging a protest against the name change of the MLB franchise, known today as the Tampa Bay Rays. They were formerly known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Florida resident John Meyers is apparently so ticked off that he’s using nonviolent resistance to affect social change.

The heavenly rays

The heavenly rays

What’s creepy is that they are actually winning much more this year and Evangelicals are taking credit. A pastor in Pensacola wants all sports teams to get the devil out of their names.

Smithers also indicated that he thinks many other teams whose names don’t directly address Satan should still think about changing their name, like the Utah Jazz.

“Jazz is the devil’s soundtrack,” Smithers said. “Also, I have a problem with the name ‘Patriots.’ How can you love God if you love your country so much?”

I admit, I don’t know how serious any of these posts are, but the name change is true. It’s part of a major restructuring of the team who has never made it to the world series in its history.

Moreover, according to Wikipedia, the team has won 97 games this season. There may be something at work here, but it’s probably more closely related to better team management and training.

I did more Googling (because I know nothing of baseball). Today the Rays just beat the Boston Red Sox in game 3 of the American League Series. They now lead Boston 2-1 in a best of 7 series. Suffice it to say, I don’t know whether the Devil Rays will go all the way,  but it seems we probably should give credit to where it is due. Let the players win on their own.

Posted in Humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Religulous: better than I thought

Posted by Andy Welfle on October 6, 2008

Bill Maher, left, and The Dude. Er, a Jesus impersonator

A movie still: Bill Maher, left, and The Dude. Er, a Jesus impersonator

Last time I posted, I expressed concern about Religulous, a pseudo-documentary film by Bill Maher. (Read that post here.) Several commenters told me I should reserve judgment until I see the film. I don’t necessarily think that is required, since the film’ preview really exists for people to pass pre-judgment over any movie, but I did fully intend to see the film no matter what I thought of it.

I went to see it with my friend and co-hort in atheist crimes, Butter (the non-waffle half of our personal blog, ButteredWaffles). And his review of it is very similar to mine. It is posted in entirety (with permission from Butter, of course) below:

Religulous isn’t the boring Jay-Walking skit I feared it might be. It’s much better than that, and I wonder about the critics who say it wasn’t funny. I was laughing several times, as was most of the rest of the crowd, because of the absurdity of the subjects and because of the well-timed jokes that point that absurdity out. The jump cuts and fast editing are there, but they’re not malicious; they just inject context to what are usually one-sided, contextless conversations. And the targets are mostly frauds or idiots who have voluntarily put themselves in the public sphere, by getting a Rev. before their name, or opening a creationism museum, or being a Senator, or running to Iran and meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or running an ex-gay counseling service, or playing Jesus in the public shows at Jesus Land. Or claiming to be the Second Coming of Jesus personally.

There was a little Michael Moore-ish grandstanding, like when he got tossed out of the Vatican for barging in with a camera and wanting to talk to the Pope, but those moments were mostly tongue-in-cheek side jokes (unlike a Moore film, where they carry the weight of the whole polemic). And the über-trendy canted camera angles, like it’s some MTV special where the host is so cool that we’re presumed to want to see camera shots of him talking to some other camera, were just jarring and dumb.

But there’s enough meat there to overshadow the sparse bits of egotism and amateurism. He’ll give subtitles exposing the lies of the opulently dressed megachurch megapastor as the guy speaks; he’ll interview Catholic priests (including the Vatican astronomer) who giggle at the idea of hell and Creation and all the stuff their flock is goaded into taking literally; he’ll get the Senator to equivocate on evolution, he’ll hammer at the Jesus actor, past all the “God-sized hole in your heart” rhetoric, until the guy pulls out Pascal’s Wager; he’ll show you the salesman for the crazy kosher workless wheelchair—and he’ll do it with that affable, I’m-on-your-side schtick that disarms his opponent.

He delivers the goods, and he’s honest enough to speak directly to his target audience at the end, telling you to get off the fence and actively oppose superstition if you’re smart enough to find the preceding hour and a half disturbing. The film is clever enough, and chooses its targets well enough, to be funny even to someone who’s already an atheist and well-versed in the issues and the players in the debate, while still summarizing those issues and players concisely for a moderately intelligent but apathetic fence-sitter. It’s the Michael Moore populist-polemic-documentary genre done right—which really shouldn’t be too hard, when your targets are this pathetically easy to pick apart. I’m glad he did it.

Link to the original post.

I’ll agree with Butter. While my opinion hasn’t changed that Bill Maher is an ass, I will concede that he is a smart and funny ass. It’s reminiscent of a quote from the Big Lebowski:

Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
The Dude: No you’re not wrong.
Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
The Dude: You’re not wrong Walter. You’re just an asshole.
Walter Sobchak: All right then.

And he has the amazing ability to put someone down without them really being aware of it. Whether that is a good ability or bad is undecided.

There were some points in the film where I thought Bill and the crew took some hits on their credibility for a few laughs. For example, he was interviewing a Muslim imam who said that Islam is not a violent religion. The imam’s cell phone rang, and he took it out of his robe to answer a text message. The Religulous producers showed what they think he was typing on the screen:

> What r ur orders

> Kill the Jew Maher

>LOL

Yeah, it was funny. But critics are going to have a field day with it.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I think you should. It might turn out to be an important film.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

John Loftus book “Why I became an atheist” has been released

Posted by Skeptigator on August 20, 2008

Just as a quick note, John Loftus’s book, Why I became an atheist and published by Prometheus Books has been released. Use the link above to purchase from Amazon.com and John will get a little extra cheddar.

Here’s the announcement on John’s blog, debunkingchristianity.net

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Atheist churches

Posted by Eye4Cards on May 14, 2008

VJACK over at atheist revolution had an interesting post about the idea of atheist churches.

There were a lot of interesting reactions and replies to the idea.

I think there has been a serious misunderstanding over the years of reading too much into the word atheist. Many theists continually use the word to imply the “religion” of the unreligious, and many times this use is intended as a derogatory slant toward anyone who doesn’t believe whatever specific dogma they call their own. It is a loaded word with a negative connotation built right into it. It is reminiscent of the Romans calling the early believers of Christ “Christians” or little anointed ones in an effort to slight their belief in a monotrinistic (oxymoron: belief in one trinity god) god.

Many atheists convolute the problem by giving too much importance to the label. Much of this is in self-defense. I know I have certainly found myself having to explain what my definition of atheism is and having to justify it with numerous arguments and posts. It is such a mind-numbing waste of time and energy arguing repetitive points to people over and over. It is necessary, but it takes time away from the more important topic; and that is, what do you center your life around that gives it meaning and value while leading you astray of organized belief in God?

I find I hardly ever dedicate time to this question, which I have read several times in different places and phrases. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in something.

The following is part of my reply to VJACK as to why atheists do not need to compete or mirror their organizations after churches, especially since there are already plenty of worthy, secular candidates to choose from to donate your time and energy to:

I don’t want to get caught up in a theological arms race and waste loads of cash and time that can be better spent by donating to local secular charities and organizations.

The reason why there is not a proliferation of atheist churches is because (at least from my point -of-view) atheism is not the central tennent of their belief systems. It’s already been said, but the only thing the label “atheist” does is let others know one’s stance on religion.

Being atheist is not what is important; it is secondary. What is important are beliefs that different atheists stand for and what their lives are built around, such as teaching, practicing science, medicine, etc.. There are no holy books that must be scrutinized and regurgitated. The closest atheists come to dogma is learning how to think critically and rationally and the scientific method and peer-review. Those things are there for our education, not for worship.

The punny guy that I am, I do find the idea of “atheist churches” to be attractive from the perspective of irony and ridicule. But it is not worth the problems it will cause by adopting the idea, no matter how comforting some of the social aspects are of belonging to a church. Even if most atheists are by metaphor black sheep that have been led astray of the flock, there is always some comfort in simply talking with like-minded people in a brick-and-mortar building no matter how effective and helpful the internet freethought community may be.

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy, Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

This group is really coming together! Cat Herding is possible?

Posted by Andy D. on April 18, 2008

I saw this on Debunking Christianity’s Bog. Remember our meeting on May 14th with John Loftus! This should be our biggest turnout. I am glad to be apart of the freethought experience.

Posted in FreeThought, Humor, Local | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Midwest Atheist Pary

Posted by Skeptigator on March 7, 2008

I know Fort Wayne is a bit far to just attend a party in Chicago but in case you are going to be in the Chicago area I thought you might want to know that Hemant Mehta (of FriendlyAtheist.com fame) and Elyse (of Skepchick.org fame) are hosting a Midwest Atheist Party on March 22nd @ 8:00PM.

Check out Hemant’s post or Elyse’s post for more details. On a personal note, I will likely be unable to attend due to a birthday party conflict on the very same day. If things change I will see about carpooling (or driving) with someone, looks to be a great time.

On a side note, what’s the deal with Amtrak going through Waterloo and not a major city like Fort Wayne. How nice would that be to be able to quickly hop a train to Chi-town instead of dealing with driving to it. Of course, I could just drive to Waterloo and do the same thing. I just checked and the schedule would suck to just go for this party, you’d leave Saturday a.m. and return late Sunday p.m. I would think a train between Fort Wayne and Chicago would probably have more options.

Anyway if anybody ends up going let us know how it was.

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »