Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Things atheists should stop saying about theists

"Theists are delusional." No they aren't, in the vast majority. If you were raised christian and you are living a good life with god in your heart, you are not delusional. If you researched Christianity vs. atheism and stayed christian because you felt the atheist's arguments were lacking, you are still not delusional. However, if you did your research, found your faith severely tested, and then clung desperately to your beliefs despite the evidence, now you're getting delusional. But it is not fair of an atheist to assume that a theist is delusional.

"Theists are idiots." Again, vast majority, no they aren't. There are Nobel prize winning scientists who are believers; I would not call them idiots (unless they pulled a Linus Pauling, and even then...). There are idiots who are theists, and they do seem to thrive here on the Internet, but it is an unfair assumption nonetheless.

"Theists abuse their children." There are certainly cases where religions is wielded like a weapon against children, but it is in the minority once again. Most theists do their best to raise children well, and use their religion as a positive influence rather than a negative one.

"Theists are hypocrites." This one I struggle with. This is aggressive and like to be incendiary in an argument, so I'd shy away from it, but is it accurate? Christians say they believe in the bible, but it's really clear that they don't pay attention to large swaths of the book that say horrible things, since most Christians don't have a problem with pork, or tattoos, or wearing blended fabrics. But does that make them hypocritical? Is it ok for a Christian to decide what god really wants and doesn't? If their priest told them that their pig roast event this week was totally ok, would that make the Christian the hypocrite, or the priest? Could the priest also not be a hypocrite? 

My take, personally, is that even if some or most Christians are hypocrites, a lot of those who are may not even realize it. Therefore I'm going to stay away from that particular statement unless someone I'm engaging with truly is being hypocritical. 

I'm sure I've missed plenty of other options, but these are a good start.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Things to stop saying about atheists...

Even I, one who usually avoids the conflicts of the atheist blog-o-sphere, have heard many inaccurate statements about atheists. I'll have more to say on this towards the end, but first some of the often entertaining things I've heard said.

"Atheists don't believe in anything." This is absurd. Mind-bogglingly absurd. I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, and I'd go so far as to say that most atheists believe that too.

"Atheists worship Satan." Atheists, by definition, don't worship anyone or anything. That's kind of the point. Satanists worship Satan, and they believe in god, which makes them... not atheists.

"Atheism takes a lot of faith." Believing in a god or gods takes faith. Not believing in god takes no faith. Atheism isn't something supplanting god, it's removing god(s) from the equation.

"Atheist's lives are empty." This is back to absurdity. If you are defining a non-empty life as one that has god in it, then I would have to concede the point. However, atheists go to school, get jobs, have children, make good art, read books, live, love, lose, and all that. What about that is empty?

"Atheists are just mad at god." Absurd is clearly the word of the day. If we don't believe there is a god, why would we be mad at god? How would that even work? I'm not mad at the stamp collection I don't have for not being good enough, that's... just... seriously?

To me, for any of these statements to make any kind of sense, you have to not know any atheists. I mean, it's possible you know an atheist, but you wouldn't know or respect that they are atheists. Someone who would make a statement like those listed above and honestly think it is a true statement doesn't know very much about atheism.

Also, to me, anyone who makes a statement like that is someone I really don't want to talk to about religion, atheism, or anything in between. I would suspect people who think like this aren't so much coming to these conclusions on their own, but are being told by someone else what to think. I have seen/heard pastors, priests, and preachers (on YouTube) tell their congregations such things. And many other worse things, but that's beside the point. If a person has rigorously looked at atheism and decided it's not for them and that religion is better, that person I can have a discussion with. Someone who would spout the statements above at me isn't worth my time. I'm not out to change the mind of anyone who isn't interested in that change, so bitterly arguing with a person who won't listen to me isn't high on my to-do list.

To be fair, there are plenty of things that atheists say about theists they shouldn't, but I think I'll save that for a separate post...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lesson Two

I do not circulate that this blog exists. I used it in a comment somewhere, possibly on Skepchick, but only once. Since then I have not bothered. I don't update often, and I really don't care about amusing anyone by myself. When I do get hits on my site, I'm just confused. Who could possibly be paying attention? So when that guy commented on the bad FTB ads I'd been seeing, in his condescending and rather amusingly arrogant manner, I was surprised. I responded, wondering what would happen.

Now, days after the initial contact I realize what lesson two is:

Drive by commenters will make you try way too hard.


This is an idea that's banging around in my head, but it's possibly a bad one. My theist friends, who in theory support my choice to believe different stuff, tend to in reality be annoyed or displeased if I so much as mention anything atheist related. So my idea is that, to placate them, I should post bible verses every day for a week, a week of the bible. Of course, this idea is in no way on the level. The idea is to pick bible verses, preferably from the gospels, but also from the entire new testament, that are grossly embarrassing to have to read as a liberal christian. For example:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

So if I don't believe, I am damned. Can't blame this one on the old testament; because I don't believe I am damned to hell to suffer for eternity. What, that's not what damned means?

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

I am the chaff, therefore I will burn with an unquenchable fire. 

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

I will know only god's wrath.

John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

I am a withered branch and I will be burned. Can't tell me your book doesn't repeatedly tell me I should burn in hell for being an atheist.

But this gets easier! I'm stealing all these from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
10:36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Here's a great verse point out that Jesus isn't here for peace, but to tear families apart, something that's actually happening today.

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Here's Jesus encouraging you to abandon your family and follow him for a reward.

My hardest part of this is taking quotes out of context, because it's really easy to protest, "well, you're reading that out of context." I'm trying to find the single lines that clearly say something bad without it being necessary that you read ten lines for it to make sense.

My plan, maybe, needs work, but if I can find the quotes, I might well do it...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The "Does God Exist?" advertisement on all the FTB sites today

"Is there a God? Click to find six reasons that God exists."

I've seen this ad on all my favorite atheist blog sites lately. It was bugging me, and I was trying to ignore it, but after several days I just had to click on it to see what these "reasons" were. Jesus Fictional Christ, this is annoying. Here is what you are missing out on:

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

2. Does God exist? The universe had a start - what caused it?

3. Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

4. Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell's behavior.

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

 Ok, so actually, you're not missing out on anything here. This is pathetic, a bunch of softballed . Although I imagine you already know the refutations to all of these, I'm going to refute them anyway because I need the practice.

1. Creationism? An intelligent designer? Really? Don't you have anything better? Oh, wait, maybe...

1. a. The size of the earth is perfect.

1. b. Water.

1.c. The human brain.

1. d. The eye.

1. a. Sigh. If things were different, things would be different, is that it? "The Earth is located the right distance from the sun". Yeah, the right distance which changes by over a million miles every year. Right.

1. b. Without water we couldn't survive. Yeah, so? Without sunlight we couldn't survive, what's your point? That is your point? Nevermind.

1. c. You know for as complex as the human brain is, it still manages to cling to some really stupid arguments.

1. d. "Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain -- the start of living organisms from nonliving matter." It doesn't? Are you sure? Because, having read several accounts about the eye and how it's evolved in several different ways, I think you might not be right...

So really, creationism is their opening volley. Not good.

2. The universe started and therefore someone or something had to start it? How do you know that it started? Why can't the universe be eternal? If "something" started the universe where exactly did that something come from? Wouldn't, by your own logic, something else have to have caused that first cause? And that regresses ad infinitum. Sorry, Philosophy 101 has you beat there.

3. The universe operates by uniform laws; how is that proof of anything other than that reality is consistently observable? This is another "if things were different" argument and it's as full of fail as the first one.

4. DNA is complex computer code that must have had a designer. Two words: junk DNA. What, did the incredibly perfect creator corrupt his files a few times before the save went through?

5. If god "is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him" then clearly you'll very easily be able to give me rock solid proof of this, right? No, you say because you "used to be an atheist" that is proof of god? I'm sorry, that's not proof. That's probably not even true. If you were an atheist, I sure would like to think you would have been better at it than this.

6. "Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us." Says you. Jesus said he was god? Really? Because I remember Jesus consistently saying in all four Gospels, "I am the son of man." You can twist that however you like, but it doesn't change what your own holy book says. But you know what? Maybe he was the son of god. Maybe he did ascend into heaven. Just call him back and have him perform a miracle and I'll believe you.

In short, this is pathetic. Creationism/intelligent design is provably wrong unless you account for the perfect creator making mistakes and doing really dumb things, "if things were different" is laughable in all it's various forms, the universe had to start fails when even weak logic is applied,  and if god and Jesus are your proof then there has to be evidence of their existence and you are lacking that evidence.

So don't waste your time on those ads. I knew it would be bad, but it's really bad. Think of this me taking one for the team.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Accept the following on faith

I have a religious friend who often states he does not accept the Catholic church and thinks that religion is bullshit. However, this very same friend thinks that prayer helped his grandmother to regain her sight rather than the doctors who did the real work. We've often argued about religious matters, and as he's a close friend, I've soft-balled him and not challenged him overmuch. I need to get my thoughts straight before I start burning that bridge.

Faith. You want me to accept things on faith. You want me to accept things with no evidence on faith. Going with Christianity, as it's familiar to me, let me show you exactly what you want me to accept on faith...

1. There is an invisible, magical man in the sky.

2. The invisible, magical man in the sky is benevolent and all powerful.

3. There is a place called hell where the damned are tortured for eternity and I will go to if I do not accept the magical man in the sky.

4. There is a place called heaven which is my eternal reward for believing in the magical man in the sky.

That's the basis, yeah? Let's go through this.

1. Ok, there's an invisible magical man in the sky. Where is he? What is he? Why is he a he anyway? What evidence do you have to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he exists? Things that are, for all intents and purposes invisible to me, germs for instance, I can accept as real because evidence exists to explain them, what they are, and how they work. The idea that tiny little things I can't see cause me to get sick would be a ludicrous claim, as ludicrous as the demons cause diseases claim, if not for the evidence that the germs exist. An exorcist has never proved that a demon exists and an exorcism has never proved to be useful in getting rid of the common cold. Scientists did prove that germs exists and scientists did prove that antibiotics can cure certain diseases. You have no proof, so why should I believe you?

2. If your magical man is benevolent and all powerful, explain Africa to me. Explain the starvation, genocide, AIDS epidemic, and so forth. How is any of that benevolent?

3. Your threat to me that I will burn in agony for an eternity if I disagree with you about the invisible, magical man in the sky would be more of a threat if you could prove that hell does exist. But there are no pictures of hell, no way to get directions to hell from here, no proof that it exists. That makes the threat of eternal damnation not really hold much water.

4. Heaven is my promised reward, but what is it? A vague understanding of being in the clouds, with all my dead relatives, for eternity? I get to be close to the magical man in the sky? Ok, sure, maybe that's a good thing. Where is heaven? How do I see it? How does this magical place explain how everyone is somehow alive and healthy again? Has anyone ever returned from it? No. There is no proof this supposedly wonderful place even exists.

So accept on faith that god exists, a claim with no evidence. Then accept on faith that god is all powerful and benevolent, a claim with evidence to the contrary. Then accept that hell exists as my punishment, another claim with no evidence. Then accept that heaven is a reward, another claim with no evidence.


Before I answer all those questions, I have one for you... Why are you Catholic? Islam has everything your religion has: heaven, hell, a supposedly all powerful and benevolent creator... Why not believe in Allah? Billions of people, I think, believe in Allah; why don't you? Why won't you accept on faith that what they believe is right? Their claims have as much evidence as your claims, that is, none, so why pick what you have picked? What reason do you have to accept your claims on faith but not their claims on faith? I reject their claims, yet you don't have a problem with me rejecting their claims. What sense does that make?

So, no, to all of your claims. You have faith in the unproven. I do not. I will no more accept your claims of the magic man any more than I will accept claims of UFOs, the loch ness monster, or bigfoot. Without evidence, you have no compelling reason for me to believe what you believe. And, yes, I am comparing belief in god to other favorite skeptics topics. I do so because the general conclusion of skepticism applied to religion is atheism, or at least a loss of faith.

And I know you'll call me arrogant for saying this. But let's look at that closer. You won't change your mind; despite the lack of evidence, you will continue to believe. You have faith. Nothing will change your mind. I know what it would take to change my mind: evidence. If you came to me with incontrovertible evidence of your magical man tomorrow, I would convert on the spot. You say I'm arrogant for being closed-minded, when I am keeping an open mind to any faith with evidence; I say that you who have made a decision and know nothing will change your mind, you are the arrogant one. Go look up arrogant and see who you think the word really applies to.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jessica's victory won't be tarnished

Jessica Ahlquist has won her court battle and is now taking unbelievable flak for it. I read the vitriol in that second link; I read all of it. I don't know why, but I am consistently amazed by how horrible some people are who say they are Christian. It's like every time I don't think it can get worse, some Christian comes out and surprises me, and not in a good way. I have NALT ("Not All of us are Like That") friends who complain about my activism almost every time I post something about atheism. I used to accept it and give them credit for being good examples of what Christians could be. Now, every NALT makes me angrier.

You know what? Yes, we get it. You aren't the hateful bigot telling Jessica about how she's evil, should be punished, should be hurt; most of the other Christians you know would never do such a thing, in your opinion. But you know what else, what's really hurting your credibility? Every time a NALT protests, you're protesting about the wrong thing. I'm angry on Jessica's behalf, as are most atheists, and that's to be expected. But if you were as Christian as you say you are, your voice would be as loud as mine or louder condemning these bigots. You wouldn't waste your time telling us about how some people have better moral standards. You would be getting in the face of those bigots and pointing out their hypocrisy. You would be helping to point out that every time they threaten a young woman in the right that they are going against the religion they espouse.

But you aren't. I am. Atheists are. All my atheist heroes are. Yet everywhere I look, there are NALTs, deflectors, victim blamers, and silencers. Comments, everywhere I've seen, are horrifying. I just learned a new phrase, "the tyranny of the minority", as if anything Jessica's done has been tyrannical. I always had a little trouble with the idea that the moderate religious people were paving the way for the extremists, but this unbelievable situation has brought some clarity to my still opening eyes. You, moderate Christians, are part of the problem. Until it's you screaming about the injustices that people like Jessica are suffering at the hands of your extremists, then you've got nothing to say that I need to listen to.

Jessica, you kick ass. You I'll listen to.