Posts

Popular Misconceptions: The Definition of Atheism

Quite a few of the conversations I’ve been involved in with theists lately seem to start off with a basic misconception about what atheism actually is. Since there is such a disconnect between the definition of the term and what people think or believe that it means I’d like to clarify a few things.

Most recently multiple pastors have asserted that the term atheist was best defined as  ” to be certain there is no god” or “to believe that there is no god” – both definitions are decidedly incorrect.

Theism is defined by Mirriam-Webster‘s as:

belief in the existence of a god or gods

 

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Sudden Uncontrollable Fits of Jesus

Has anyone else out there ever noticed that when someone you previously had no clue was  “religious” finds out that you are an atheist – that they suddenly have this uncontrollable  internal revival?

I’ve had one of these rather entertaining experiences recently, while sitting at my desk at a location I dare not mention I overheard two gentlemen talking about  women, particularly the naked kind.   As one of these gentlemen walked past the desk I was at he noticed the book I was reading – The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. He asked me about it and I explained that it was about evolution and explained the premise of the book….

Instantaneously it’s as if all this mans years of church going culminated in this one moment as he asked, “You think we came from monkeys?  So god didn’t create you and me?”

I said, “Apes actually – and I don’t believe in god.”

The other gentlemen then exclaimed, “if we came from apes how come there are still apes?”

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Rules of Engagement

I don’t particularly like to use terms of war when I discuss what I call Positive Atheism – or activist atheism if you will. In this case I find it rather difficult to find a better term to use, but to be crystal clear, this post is in no way a call to arms or a declaration of war. This is a discussion about engagement in the form of intellectual and philosophical discussions and debates. (I don’t want there to be ANY confusion here – or any opportunity for the less scrupulous individual to make claims that might hinder reason or falsely indicate a “war mentality” here.)
In a previous post, from what seems like forever ago, I discussed what I felt was a moral obligation on my part to reduce faith and increase understanding. In this post I intend to talk about the Rules of Engagement that I have developed when engaging in these sorts of discussions. These are my personal rules, some may not find these necessary – but for me it draws a line in the sand as to what conversations are worthy of my time and attention, as I have a tendency toward extremes. If at least one of the following criteria are not met, I won’t bother engaging.

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Honey and Flies – My Personal End to Bitterness

 

This is the first post in a series in which I intend to explain, philosophize, argue, and even convince myself of a new approach in my own personal life regarding my lack of religious faith.

For nearly two years now I’ve been an out atheist and as a result of a very painful process of losing my faith I have to force myself to embrace a Truth regarding myself – I’ve been bitter, angry, and sometimes hurtful toward other people. Some of them deserved it while others did not and I feel the need to repair my approach to humanity.

The fact is, despite my best efforts and the efforts of my peers, we are stuck here with religion and the religious – the vast majority of whom, due to the nature of faith, will hold on to their faith despite all of the good evidence you and I can provide to the contrary. Religion, as a whole, may one day disappear but not without many more years of scientific discovery and understanding so that all questions in which god can be a hypothetical answer to may be answered – if they ever are.

It’s not that I’ve suddenly forgotten all of the dangers of religion or how it has held humanity behind for ages – I haven’t. I simply can’t justify the effects that my approach have had on myself and others in the last few years. Despite being the happiest I’ve ever been, there has still been this underlying bitterness…even a persecution complex (something I often accuse Christians of) in-so-much that I may often see persecution in places that it isn’t actually occurring. Of course persecution absolutely does occur and yes I have absolutely been a victim of it – but my failure has been in giving those around me the benefit of the doubt.

Lessons of experience

Over the last few months I have found myself associated with two organizations, one of which I am a founding officer called C.O.F.F.E.R of Dodge County – a citizens organization dedicated to working with the local Board of Education to ensure that responsibility is used in the areas of education and finance. Secondarily I am now performing all of the web-admin duties and doing other volunteer work for Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter (501c3) – a local startup non-profit incorporation of individuals interested in building a permanent rescue for abandoned and abused animals in my local area (we desperately need it – but that’s a whole different story, just know that my wife and I are pretty much animal freaks.)

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‘A’ Week – Letting the World Know

The Scarlet A - use this as your FB profile picture for A weekNext week will be the first official "A Week on Facebook" in which thousands of Atheists will be changing their profile picture to the well known Scarlet letter 'A'. The purpose for this is to show the world that we, as atheists, are here and regardless of what the world may believe about us, good without God.

I not only think this is a great opportunity to tell the world who we are and to renounce the myth that a deity is the provider of morality, it is also a wonderful time to come out of the closet and let your own friends and family know that you are an atheist if you have yet to do so. Of course I'd never encourage anyone to come out that may be hounded or threatened by their family, but if you are a person with a somewhat reasonable surrounding then perhaps you should consider taking advantage of this opportunity. If you aren't in a location or time at your life where it is safe to do so you have my sympathies – I've certainly been there as well.

I also want to encourage other minority groups to organize an event such as this one. I think something like this would be most beneficial to the GLBT community and I know that many atheists would be willing to show our support for GLBT rights and identity if it were done.

All the details of 'A' Week can be found at This Website or this Facebook Page.

I'll be participating and I've encouraged those on my Facebook Fan Page to do so as well, will you? Why or why not?

Live Debate with RagingRev

Saturday March, 20th 2010 at 11PM EST I will once again be a guest on ParaTrinity Radio. This episode will feature myself, an Atheist, as well as a Christian and a Wiccan and we will be discussing beliefs, god, religion, and all sorts of other things.

Last time I was on the program it was their most popularly downloaded program yet, and I’d like to break that record again with the new episode. We had lots of fun last time and since this is an unleashed debate it should be even better.

Here’s what hosts Mike and LE had to say about the upcoming show:

Saturday, March 20th, ParaTrinity Radio will have three guests, of three different religions, of three different beliefs on air to discuss god, ghosts, and more!

We will be talking to atheist – Matt Oxley (as heard on Feb. 20th), witch/wiccan – Marla Brooks (as heard in Jan. and March 13th), and lastly, Christian – Christopher Maggard (TriState Paranormal investigator) in a round table style discussion with some possible debates.

You will NOT want to miss this one! Saturday at 11pm in Studio B of www.asprn.com!

Links of Interest:

At 11PM EST on March 20th click This Link to get to the live broadcast of the program, there will be a live chat room during the show.

ParaTrinity On Facebook

ParaTrinity Unleashed (Facebook Event for RSVP purposes, invite your friends please!)

RagingRev.com Fan Page

Two Important Birthdays!

birthdaymonkeyToday I turned 23. Was a good birthday too because Mellissa @ Blackbird Coffee(the best little coffee shop in the world) gave me free coffee all day, I ended up with 3 Quad shot skinny cappuccinos and a sugar rush from the cinnamon roll she bought me for lunch (lunch of champions). I was wired all day, still am. I also had about 20 people say Happy Birthday on facebook…makes me feel loved just a little.

Tommorow is another important persons (you guys do know I am important right?) birthday, one Charles Darwin would be 200 years old tommorow, and Origin of Species turns 150 this year. In honor of Darwin this year I intened to purchase a copy of Origin of Species and read through it entirely…sadly I am too ignorant of evolution to defend it  well enough…I understand the premise, and it certainly makes sense and even seems to me to be obvious…but I have a lot to learn.

 

Tommorow I am going to try for an extensive rebuttal to Guy’s response to my last couple of posts….before he loses his mind (…nevermind). I will also try to fix the issues i have had with the WordPress upgrade if time allows.

Atheists & Morality Rehashed

Russ, a Christian and Minister in the Missouri Synod of of the Lutheran Church, and I have been chatting with a certain frequency…for some reason it always lands on the subject of morality…we hit other subjects some times, but morality is one thing that we ALWAYS end up getting back to. Maybe I am not authoritative enough on the subject of morals (I don’t know why not), but I can’t seem to say things in a way that satisfy Russ…so we chat and I explain my side, challenge his side a tad, try to explain why god is not necessary in the moral dilemma that we face daily…and for some reason it just never gets across, I have no doubt that I am using some sort of logic that seems circular but I just don’t know any other way to put it. The thing is, Russ knows that I am not an immoral person, he admits that…He understands that a godless person like myself can still have morals but that they may not have a basis. Usually after going over this a few times we start to do a bit of name calling and then kiss and make up, because Russ is a really nice guy and I am too if I must say so myself (usually we only prod one another, I think he knows I am just picking with him). I guess I just want to know from the Atheists and the Christians (or anyone else for that matter) where I am messing up my explanation of this thing. So what follows is a portion of one of our more recent conversations (edited to make it easier to read, no other edits made) from Gtalk.  Afterward I am going to try to explain my view (which as far as I know is well accepted, but I base it entirely on my own understanding of history and my observations of the human race) Tell me what I can do to improve my understanding or explanation of this, is there a precedent on this argument that could help me?

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