Justice that arrives like a thunderbolt

Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Those seemingly delightful lyrics are from the song “Accidental Racist,” by Brad Paisley and sung by him and LL Cool J. The song often refers to how white people from the south and black people from the north maybe just can’t understand each other, and maybe they’re being a little too sensitive about things, and maybe they should just have a beer together. It’s a really dreadful song and you probably shouldn’t listen to it.

A couple weekends ago, a white 20-year-old wearing patches representing pro-apartheid African nations, and who has been pictured waving a Confederate battle flag and burning a United States flag, and who — according to his roommate — had often spoke of killing some black people and starting a new civil war, went into an historic black civil war-era church in Charleston, South Carolina, sat around for a while while the pastor led his congregation in prayer, and then pulled out a gun and opened fire. The death toll, before he fled the scene only to be captured in North Carolina the next day, was nine.

Based solely on the evidence I listed above (confederate flag, anti-apartheid, yearning for another civil war, historic black place of worship) a lot of people labeled this pretty much immediately as a hate crime. Others claim it’s an act of terrorism, and I tend to agree with both. His intent was very clearly racially motivated, and going by the FBI’s official definition I think it’s clear to say this was an act of terrorism as well. The oddest thing, however, is when you switch your television station over to Fox News, you’ll hear they have taken a different approach to the situation. Obviously this wasn’t a racist hate crime, but an attack on Christianity! Because in Foxnewsland, the spin they put on any story has to make it seem like they, the Christian Right, are the ones being attacked. So far as I can tell, no indication of Roof’s religion has been made.

Anyway, this whole shooting debacle led very briefly to a discussion on gun laws and a lot of old internet memes popped back up for about three days, but that was all swept aside to make room for this week’s new topic of debate, and the real culprit here: racism.

And you know, I sort of agree. I’m no fan of guns. We need stricter gun regulations. We need to make it more difficult for all people to obtain guns. But it’s also important to determine motive and then see if there are ways to quell motivation — in this case, racism — that may lead to heinous acts like shootings that kill nine people. So our first course of action has been, for the first time in 150 years, to villainize the confederate battle flag (CBF). The day after Roof’s killing spree, the CBF was still flying on South Carolina capitol grounds. It still exists as part of the design on several state flags, as well. So obviously we have to have that flag removed.

But why a flag? It’s just a flag! It’s more than a flag, people. It’s a symbol. A symbol flown by supporters of a war 150 years old that was lost to the Union. A symbol of traitorous southerners who thought it was their god-given right to keep slaves. Yeah, technically people have the freedom to fly their CBFs or their Nazi Germany swastikas, but does that mean they necessarily ought to? Furthermore, does it mean they reserve the right to do so free of consequence? Freedom of speech and expression does not grant you immunity to criticism. As a person with German ancestry, I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to fly a swastika to honor my ancestors.

“Southern pride” rednecks can hang the flag from their trailers and lean-tos and claim their ancestors who fought and died for the Confederacy deserve respect, but I refuse to mourn for or respect separatists who, had they had their way, would have maintained their right to oppress a race of people and buy/sell them and force them into servitude.

Hell, the presence of the CBF or its likeness in the form of stickers on the bumpers of Ford trucks as old and rusty as their owners or patches on overalls serves to warn me in advance who the racists are who can’t let go of the past and their ancestors’ failings in the name of heritage, or some other hokey backwoods jargon that secretly stands for “Hey, we tried to [3/5ths] compromise!”

But that flag has no place whatsoever on public or government property. When it exists next to a United States flag, or a state flag, or especially AS a state flag, it gives the Dylann Roofs of the world a symbol to fight or kill for. It perpetuates — and even worse, institutionalizes — racism.

As of this writing, several states have removed the CBFs from their capitol grounds. Several retailers — even huge retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and eBay — have stopped selling CBF merchandise. I don’t think that was a necessary step, but I support their right to sell or not sell what they please. Even video game publishers of historic games are talking about stopping sales of games featuring a CBF. It is absolutely huge that this is in national discussion right now. There are the people who think the flag belongs in a museum, since it certainly has a history within the United States, and then there are the people who refuse to take it down because their “southern pride” is more important to them than supporting their fellow Americans. When all is said and done, the racists will stick out like sore thumbs and we’ll all be better off knowing who to stay away from.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO TODAY’S BIG NEWS

I awoke this morning and turned on the news, like I do, and I picked up my Android phone and started scrolling through Facebook to see what I had missed during my slumber. As it turns out, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a vote of 5-4, overturned states’ rights to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

This is an extraordinary time to be alive right now, knowing that not only is history being made, but that I’m on the right side of it and have been since I was old enough to understand that boys are allowed to love boys too.

The second thing I did this morning, after I had scrolled a bit through Facebook, was to start perusing the comments sections under the posts made by local news organizations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you really want to know the state of things in our country, don’t watch TV, don’t read a newspaper; all you have to do is read the comments sections under local news articles. Because this is your home; these are the people who surround you. Many of them are kind-hearted, reasonable people whose love for life extends to their friends and neighbors and doesn’t just stop outside their own personal egobubble.

But then there are the rabid, hateful, obscene people who want everyone to know how much love they have for family values and Jesus and oh god won’t somebody think of the children! It is to those people whom I address in the remainder of today’s post. Those Christians who assume this progressive country abides by the laws in their millennia-old book.

Your silly book of fairy tales with its laws against shaving your beard and laws against women taking on roles as educators and laws proclaiming bats are birds and stories about talking donkeys and people being turned into pillars of salt and daughters raping their drunken father and god destroying everything a man loves and lives for all because of a silly bet…

That’s not the book from which our normal-people laws are derived. Hell isn’t real, heaven isn’t real, talking serpents and donkeys aren’t real, dragons and unicorns and behemoths and leviathans aren’t real… so do kindly shut the fuck up and refrain from passing judgment on anybody – ANYBODY – seeking happiness and inclusiveness and equality. Because if what they’re doing shakes the very foundation of your fundamental beliefs, then it’s your fundamentals which need to be checked, NOT theirs.

If I learned anything from the Bible, and I have read it cover to cover, it’s that lesson from very early on in the book about the big important guy getting all in a kerfuffle because his two subservient playthings decided to seek knowledge: the ultimate gift.

Too bad satan’s not real, otherwise I’d praise him for setting us free from the Christian god’s shackles.

Equality wins, boys and girls, friends and family. And of you still huffing and puffing about hell or about how icky it is that some people actually had to fight and live through the ridicule and the pain and the insults just to hear their country say “okay, you’re allowed to love each other now,” you huffers and puffers are a dying breed.

This is an incredible time to be alive in the United States. I’m watching history being made. I’m watching my friends finally be recognized as actual people. I get to see my friends rejoice in who they are and know that finally, America is on their side.

If there was a god, I wouldn’t offer cries of “god bless” or “god is great” or any sort of fealty. Not after seeing how his/her/its followers and so-called disciples spit venom and hatred and condemnation toward anybody a little bit different than themselves. Anybody with a different skin color, or anybody with a different sexual preference or identity. No, god deserves no love, no praise, no thanks. It’s the fast-growing majority of progressive, forward-thinking Americans who are to thank for helping bring this country that much closer to universal equality.

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Regarding lesser forms of (still) dogmatic belief

When people say that they aren’t really arguing the case for an “old-world god”, and especially when they argue that they’re not even arguing for an anthropomorphic god, they generally seem to be giving up the very basis for a belief in god(s) in the first place.  Considering the religions that nearly all theists come from one can really only argue for the reality of their chosen god and his/her literal influence on the world as revealed to man-kind through some form of revelation (which implies that the knowledge only exists at all in this world by virtue of the fact that its particular scriptures are true), or one has no real basis for believing in a god(s) at all.

Also, and forgive me because I am sort of half responding to a debate that I was watching with Chopra and Sam Harris, I have to say that actually watching a man so blatantly and pathetically appeal to the god of the gaps by saying that god can always exist in the tiniest, most imperceptibly minute fraction of a second after the big bang when physics breaks down because even physicists say that the comprehension of that time is unknowable…<gasps for breath>…and to do so without recognizing how pathetic and sad that argument really is when taken to such an extreme…well, I just find that hilarious.

Pascal’s Wager

Fortunately, most moderately intelligent theists won’t bother playing the Pascal card when debating religion, but nevertheless there are many who do. The purpose of this post is to respond only to those who feel the Wager is a legitimate reason to believe in their god. I make no attempt to prove or disprove the existence of any god in this post; just to counter the Pascal’s Wager argument.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pascal’s Wager, it goes a little something like this (paraphrased):

God either exists or does not exist. Salvation and eternal happiness is through belief in and worship of God. If you “bet” on God’s existence and you’re wrong, you’ve lost nothing; if you’re right, you will receive salvation and everlasting life. If you bet on God’s non-existence and you’re wrong, you’re destined to an eternity in Hell. Therefore it is safer to bet on God’s existence.

Now if you’ve got any mind at all you’ll see the obvious flaws in this. However, I’ve had people who I had previously thought of as fairly respectable play this one on me, so you never know who might fall for it.

First, being that he was Christian, it’s clear Blaise Pascal was referring to belief in the Christian god. To the skeptic, however, one need only swap the name God for another name (Allah, Zeus, Odin, et al) because the fact is that most mainstream gods demand worship and punish those who don’t offer it. So which god should I bet on? How do you know the god you’re betting on is the right god? Is anybody really making a safe bet?

Second, belief is not a light switch. One can’t just say “Oh, in that case I believe.” In order to believe something is true, one must be convinced of its truthfulness. Threats like Pascal’s Wager do nothing to convince anybody of anything.

Third, chances are the god you’re trying to convince me exists is omnipotent according to your religion’s textbook. Surely it can see through somebody who claims they believe simply because it’s the “safer bet.”

Finally, the part of the Wager which states “If you believe and you’re wrong, you’ve lost nothing” is absolutely wrong. What about all the time you wasted on your knees praying or in a church singing? What about the scientific or medical advances you’ve ignored (extreme cases) because your religion states that all you need is your god? If you believe in a god and you’re wrong, then you’ve lived your entire life thinking you had an eternity of happiness and pleasure to look forward to in an afterlife without paying as much heed to the life you’re currently living.

I and many atheists like me, on the other hand, see this life as our only one. We are more inclined to live our lives to its absolute fullest; making sure we make a lasting impression on others, hoping that once our bodies are decaying and our atoms are moving on to other endeavors that our legacy will live on in the memories of others.

So maybe the safer “bet” is that no gods exist. We’ve got a 50/50 shot at being right, while the odds that your particular god is the only one who exists are far lower. Bet on non-existence and perhaps you’ll see a whole new value in your one and only life.

There is no such thing as an atheist

For some reason this comment was moved directly to my spam folder, which meant I was never given the opportunity to approve it for publication. I’m not sure why, as it’s not blatant “trolling” or spamming – then again, it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic discussed in the original blog post, nor does it seem to add anything to any existing conversations or comments. Nevertheless, I rarely check my spam folder and did not see it until now.

It was originally made in response to my post titled Thank god! but I’m reposting it here because I think it warrants a response – in this case, in the form of its very own post.

There is no such thing as an atheist. Although I know my reply will be deleted, it matters not. My path almost led me down the road to so-called “atheism”. The term “atheist” is derived from two roots “a” meaning “against” and “theos” meaning “God” or “a god”. Thus people who claim that they are atheist because they don’t believe in Him is a contradiction of terms. You can’t be against something you don’t believe exists. You may as well be a-fairy, or a-pomogianisticis. There are no such things so it is impossible to be against them. The funny thing about so-called atheists is that they spend so much time talking about the very thing they claim doesn’t exist. Isn’t this a waste of time? I don’t go around trying to convince people not to believe in the tooth fairy. No, the real purpose of each and every atheist is a deep longer to know. You WANT to see for yourself. You wish deep down inside that God would show you a sign so that you could hold on to something tangible.

As for myself, I used to believe in science and believed that everything had to have a scientific explanation. Then I realized that God’s word was far more consistent that science. Science is limited to the five senses. With science there is no room for anything that our finite human bodies can experience. It didn’t take long for me to see that science has to continue correcting itself because what is scientifically proven one day can be false the very next day. I have very little faith in science these days. I have no faith in doctors either. Doctors prescribe drugs they have little knowledge about. They cannot see the effects drugs have on the human brain, DNA, and a whole multitude of bodily functions. While a certain drug can seem to solve one issue, it will ALWAYS create a new host of side effects that can be and probably are more detrimental to our bodies.

Wasn’t it science that claimed the earth was flat? Wasn’t it scientists that claimed there could not be such things as microwaves, germs, and the like? Why not? Because we did not have the instruments to see such things. Therefore they must not exist.

The truth of the matter is that anyone who puts their faith in science is going to be disappointed over and over again. Scientists are only now realizing that there are things in this universe that cannot be explained because they do not fall into the category of tangible evidence. This is why they have created a whole new field of science called quantum physics.

Don’t allow yourselves to be deceived by blind religion or blind science. Make intelligent well informed decisions. Seek out the facts first.

Remember just because we could not detect sound waves didn’t mean they didn’t exists. Similarly just because we don’t have the equipment to detect demons and angelic beings does not mean they are not all around us. One day science will have to be re-written yet again to contain new evidence. The scriptures, however, remain unchanged since ancient times.

Finally, my story… At the pinnacle of my own arrogance and the height of my intellectual achievements, I stumbled upon a radio station that played hard rock and heavy metal. There I heard a caller describing an apocalyptic event that was all the rave at the time. He asked the disk jockeys if they had heard about a meteor that would kill one third of the population. They laughed at him and hung up the phone and continued on with their jokes, but my attention was focused on one single thought – “a third of the population”… I had heard that in my youth in my Sunday School class. “Yes” I thought, “That’s in Revelation…” So I dusted off an old Bible my parents had and found some old scriptures giving an account of the end of the world in minute detail. As I read, there was a documentary on the Discovery channel about the same topic – a meteor strike of catastrophic proportions.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I read along with the program. The events described in both the Bible and the television show were identical to a tee! God had my full, undivided attention. It was at this point that I made up my mind to have faith like a child. I said within myself, “If God says ‘A donkey talked’ then by all mean a donkey talked. I will never again question His Word.”

It was that very year that things began to happen in my life. Those “signs” I sought after were revealed to me, and I lost all hope in science forever.

I laugh whenever I see Nacho Libre with Jack Black now. Whenever I hear his sidekick declare, “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science” I chuckle within myself because I am now the total opposite.

Delete my reply if you insist this is all baloney, but if you expect real discussion on this topic, then leave it and see what other say.

Man O God

http://www.godlyfather.blogspot.com/

I don’t plan on addressing everything said in the comment, but will try to catch what I think are the most important points:

There is no such thing as an atheist…
Well, there definitely is such a thing as an atheist. As long as you’re bringing up the roots of the word I should point out that a does not mean against; rather, it means precisely the same as the a in asexual, that is, without. I, and all the other atheists, are without theism.

You are right in bringing up disbelief in fairies, and the fact that it doesn’t have “its own word.” I actually agree with you – atheism shouldn’t even be a word. Atheism should be the norm. Just like we would question somebody who told us they believe in fairies, we should question somebody when they say they believe in gods. Gods are, after all, just as likely to exist. The reason we – the atheists – speak out so fervently against religion is because it plays such a huge (and, more often than not, unwanted) role in our lives despite the fact that we do not share the same beliefs. I guarantee that if politicians and educators were trying to pass laws that were directly or indirectly inspired by their belief in Bigfoot, we would speak out against that too. If belief in Bigfoot were so widespread that it affected our lives on a nearly daily basis, we might even start using a word to describe ourselves which separated us from those who believe.

No, the real purpose of each and every atheist is a deep longer(sic) to know.
This is somewhat accurate. I can’t speak for all atheists, but I can certainly speak for myself when I say I would much rather know something than to just believe in it. That’s why we’re called skeptics. We won’t take something based on faith alone. Faith is okay, in fact I have faith in plenty of things, but my faiths are reinforced by evidence. Religious faith is not.

You’re incorrect when you say we want your god to give us some sign of its existence based on the simple fact that we do not believe it exists. I can’t want a god to prove its existence any more than I can want Harry Potter to prove he exists. He most likely doesn’t, nor does any god – especially not your god. That said, if I believed in a god I would certainly want – or at least expect – it to prove it exists.

Then I realized that God’s word was far more consistent that(sic) science.
First, you’re terribly wrong. The Bible (“God’s word”) is littered with inconsistencies and contradictions. This isn’t the place to point all of them out to you, but a quick and easy Google search for “Bible contradictions” should be all you need.

That being wrong, you also said science has to continue correcting itself. You’re absolutely right here. That’s how the scientific method works: a question is asked, research is done and information is collected regarding the subject, a hypothesis is formed, experiments are performed, data is interpreted and, if the data supports the hypothesis predictions can be made and a theory may be formed. If the data does not support the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is scrapped. This is where science and religion seem to clash. Despite all the geological, astronomical, and biological evidence that specifically conflicts with the young-earth “theory” so many religious believers adhere to, they continue to ignore the data, preferring to believe that what a non-scientific 2,000-year-old book says is probably more accurate.

As more evidence is discovered or collected, scientific theories may change. But that’s what rational people do – they admit when they’re wrong, and reshape their theories to fit the evidence. A religious person, on the other hand, reshapes the evidence to fit their so-called theories.

The scriptures, however, remain unchanged since ancient times.
If we do not count the frequency at which the Bible is re-translated, or the fact that multiple books have deliberately been removed from the earliest copies of the bible, you’re right again. Incidentally, the scriptures are just as implausible and inconsistent now as they were back when they were written.

The events described in both the Bible and the television show were identical to a tee!
First, I’d like to know which show this was on the Discovery Channel. As a fan of the channel and their publications, I’m fully aware that they do air a lot of religious programs featuring “what if” scenarios. I hardly believe a scientific program would talk about the likelihood of a dragon falling from the sky, a beast with multiple heads emerging from the ocean, angels blowing their horns at the “four corners” of the earth, or people ascending into Heaven while others found themselves marked with the number of the beast. So unless this show was specifically about the Revelation chapter in the Bible, no, they were not identical to a T.

“If God says ‘A donkey talked’ then by all mean(sic) a donkey talked. I will never again question His Word.”
I’ll just rebut this one with another one of your own quotes: Make intelligent well informed decisions. Seek out the facts first.

I lost all hope in science forever.
I would assume, then, that you never visit the doctor, never take any medicine, never drive a car, never use the internet, never watch television, and never pay any heed to documentaries on the Discovery Channel.

In other words, I’m calling you a liar and a hypocrite.

Thank god!

Thank god for a good fall-back when I don’t feel like thanking the people directly responsible for the situation for which I’m thankful because let’s face it, they don’t deserve any credit for my happiness and it’s just easier to accredit any and all positive happenings to an invisible sky-wizard for which there is no evidence; and also for run-on sentences.

Stop thanking god when good people do good things. Seriously. Maybe I’m just being pedantic and nitpicking when I get offended by this, but it irritates me. I’m not saying you need to sing praises when I do something nice for you, or even that I deserve credit; but the credit certainly shouldn’t be going to somebody else!

If nothing else, thank goodness.

Somebody once told me that “the goodness of Jesus shines through” me. No. Fuck you. The goodness of me is what’s shining through me.

Atheism is not a religion

Back on April 11th I made a blog post titled “Is atheism a religion?” That particular post contained a number of analogies to [humorously] affirm that atheism most certainly is not a religion. Ed, a contributor here at Atheist Dave, played the role of devil’s advocate and commented with the following:

A question.
Do you and other Atheists hold the belief that god does not exist? Do Atheists in general hold this belief?

3.The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.

This is one definition of ‘religion’ in a prominent online dictionary. I posit that religion does not require any aspect whatsoever of the supernatural. Atheism IS a religion. However, it is a purely secular one. More accurately, Atheism is more akin to a cult. It’s a gathering of like-minded individuals with a set standard of beliefs. Do not Atheists have gatherings of like minded individuals at which prominent members of said system of thought give speeches (sermons), in the presence of fellow believers of the movement?
This very blog itself is a tool used to ‘spread the word’. In the strictest definition of the term religion, what is the difference between a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on doors to spread their belief system and an Atheist knocking on doors to spread their own?
Atheism is a religion. It’s just a secular one in which the figure of worship is Logic.

This was my response, which I have decided warrants its own blog post because I love tooting my own horn:

religion, according to Dictionary.com
1. a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
1. b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

spiritual, according to Dictionary.com
1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material.
2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

atheism, according to Dictionary.com
1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
———————–
religion, according to merriam-webster.com
1a. the state of a religious [person]
1b. (1) the service and wosrhip of God or the supernatural
1b. (2) commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2. a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 (archaic). scrupulous conformity
4. a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

faith, according to merriam-webster.com
1a. allegiance to duty or a person
1b. (1) fidelity to one’s promises
1b. (2) sincerity of intentions
2a. (1) belief and trust in and loyalty to God
2a. (2) belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
2b. (1) firm belief in something for which there is no proof
2b. (2) complete trust
3. something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially: a system of religious beliefs

atheism, according to merriam-webster.com
1 (archaic). ungodliness, wickedness
2a. a disbelief in the existence of a deity
2b. the doctrine that there is no deity
———————–

Anybody can take a single definition of a word and twist it to mean whatever they want it to mean. The primary differences between theism and atheism, however, is belief. One is a belief; one is not. Religion is theism. To say atheism is religion is to say atheism is theism. If atheism regarding all gods is a religion, then so would be atheism in regards to every individual god. With that logic, a Christian is atheistic when it comes to the Greek, Norse, and Roman gods. By your definition, a Christian now has four religions (that is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other gods they don’t believe in).

Religious people adhere to a tenet outlined by their holy book, scripture, or by their religion. A Christian believes this, this, this, and that; whereas a Muslim believes this, that, that, and this. Atheists, unlike members of a cult or religion, have exactly one thing in common. A disbelief (remember, the key word for a religion is belief) in gods. That’s it.

And before saying something like “Well, a disbelief in gods is a belief there are no gods; ergo, religion,” just remember that I also disbelieve in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, the monster under my bed, and Never Never Land. Whoops, looks like I’ve got four more religions!

Your definition above mentions a set of beliefs and practices. What set of beliefs do atheists adhere to? What practices do we do?

Do not Atheists have gatherings of like minded individuals at which prominent members of said system of thought give speeches (sermons), in the presence of fellow believers of the movement?
We do. Just like potential homeowners go to seminars about buying houses, or bibliophiles go to book signings by their favorite authors, who make speeches at the event. Or like students attend class regularly to learn about government, math, or science. Or when thousands of people stand at the foot of the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and listen to Glenn Beck ramble on about human rights. Or when Holly and I go out of our way to attend concerts put on by our favorite bands and musicians?

Have I told you about the beauty and wonder in Timeshareism? REO Speedwagonism?

what is the difference between a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on doors to spread their belief system and an Atheist knocking on doors to spread their own?
When was the last time an atheist knocked on your door and told you to stop believing in gods? I know it’s never happened to me; yet I have been awoken by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This blog has absolutely nothing to do with going door-to-door to spread the word. This blog is not in-your-face. Like every other site on the internet, it is accessed by choice. Also, there is no threat of punishment for disagreeing with the things said on this blog.

What if God Disappeared?

The following video was created and uploaded to YouTube by Edward Current. It asks the question What if god disappeared? and goes on to explain how the world would be affected. One example is that since god is the one who gives us a sense of cuteness and love, a puppy will no longer be adorable but will instead just be another object that we could “have sex with, if we wanted to.”

It’s on you.

I was recently asked what it would take to prove to me once and for all that god exists. I gave my short answer, which is that there really isn’t anything that would quite do it for me. That is to say that there isn’t anything in the human imagination – my imagination, that is – that would prove god exists. Anything I can even dream of could still be explained using natural laws, otherwise it could be discounted as an hallucination.

That’s not entirely true, though. I can think of at least one thing that may do it. If there were some miraculous phenomenon that was witnessed by a sufficient number of people, all at the same time, who could each describe the phenomenon to an equal extent as the next person – that might do it. And by “miraculous” I do mean, of course, something that cannot be explained by natural laws. This would have to be one hell of a show – perhaps a human voice (Jesus?) speaks the exact same words clearly inside the head of every person on earth simultaneously. I would certainly be more prone to believe.

Other than that – some worldwide phenomenon that cannot be explained away by science – I don’t think there is anything that would prove the existence of any of your gods.

But feel free to try. My only request is that you refrain from referring to any of your holy books, as I don’t see that as reasonable evidence for anything. I’ll use the Bible as an example here, since Christianity is the religion I am most familiar with. All the Bible proves is that a couple thousand years ago some guys put pen to paper and made a bunch of stuff up. I’m interested in knowing why you believe the Bible is accurate at all. That may not prove anything to me, but at least it will give me a deeper insight into Christian thinking. I must reiterate, however, that “I believe the Bible is true because I read in the Bible that the Bible is true” tells me nothing other than that you are extremely gullible.

And for the love of your god, don’t tell me to prove god doesn’t exist. You’re the one making a positive assertion – as the title of this article states, it’s on you. It’s on you to back up your statement that god exists. You know as well as I do that I can no more disprove god’s existence than you can disprove the existence of Russell’s Teapot.

I think I’ve said all there is to say without beginning to repeat myself ad nauseum, so I’ll leave you with a quote by Ricky Gervais that pretty much sums everything up nicely:

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”

Read the whole article by Ricky Gervais

Thanks to @JulienLynn on Twitter for the inspiration to write this article.

Why should I believe?

Why should I believe in your god?

Really, seriously, I mean that. How would belief in your god (or any god, for that matter) improve my life? Any arguments along the lines of “because the Bible says…” will be dismissed automatically. I want to know, from the perspective of a believer in any particular religion, how the belief in supernaturalism would improve my life. This life, I mean – the one I’m living right here, right now, on earth.

Also, feeling the “golden wash of Jesus’ love” is not a legitimate reason. In fact, it’s kind of icky.

I expect the comments section of this post to be riddled with some of the deepest, most insightful reasons ever for adhering to a particular religion.

Bonus points if you can tell me why your god is more important than anybody else’s.

My son has an imaginary friend; I do not.

I have a lot of thoughts about religion, and mostly they’re all about how I want it not to exist, or at the very least to get out of my life.  By way of quick introduction, hello, my name is Erin; I was raised Catholic and began to seriously doubt the existence of god when I was twelve and read The Bible for the first time.  Time passed, though, and “doubt” doesn’t nearly cover it for me now.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re agnostic, that they can’t say that they really don’t believe because they don’t know enough to really know.  That people who claim to be atheists are every bit as arrogant as people who think they know for sure that god is real.  I full-on disagree with this, and here’s why:  my four year-old son has a whole bunch of imaginary friends.  His favorite and best friend is named Gnash and lives on our roof.  My son talks to him, tells me what he’s doing, and informs me occasionally that Gnash is riding in our car or sitting at the dinner table with us.

My son has a relationship with him, speaks to him, and feels like he knows him.  Would it be rude to imply that it’s all in his mind, that Gnash is just the manifestation of a brain evolved enough to feel fear and loneliness, and creative enough to spawn ideas that will offer it comfort, company and answers?

I don’t have to think about it.  I don’t have to know more, or offer a speck of room for conscientious doubt.  Gnash is not real.  There is nobody living on our roof, just as there is nobody living in the sky conducting the cosmos.  I know this.  I resent the idea that I have to act as if people who have spent their entire lives wrapped up in their imaginary friends and allowing their thoughts to be warped, weakened and directed by flawed, human-written texts and sketchy interpretations of the same are reasonable.  I resent that I’m supposed to act as if the suggestion that the world was put here in a week by a big, bearded sky-architect isn’t completely insane.

Once I had a friend – she was Baptist – tell me she wished I could feel what she feels, how good it is to know that god is there, looking out for her.  That made me want to give her a hug, really, because it’s so horribly sad that a grown woman has to imagine herself a protector in order to feel safe.  And she couldn’t have been more wrong – I do not need god in my life to offer me comfort.  All god offered me back when I used to grapple with the idea was fear and confusion.  In fact, the day I realized there really is no god, and finally let go of trying to believe in something that never felt right to me, was one of the best, most liberating days I can remember.

I was driving in my car, and it hit me:  this is all there is.  There’s no list of rules, there’s nobody watching or keeping score, there’s nothing but myself and my own accountability.  My higher mind and my capacity for kindness, my ability to procreate and the responsibilities inherent – just me, human, and nothing else.  Just animals, evolved.  Not special, not eternal, not bound for punishment or praise or anything but our own conscience and perspective.  And then it made sense – all of it.  Some people are good and some are bad, some are stupid or kind or weak or aggressive or withdrawn, sometimes things blow up, sometimes storms come, sometimes babies die, sometimes dolphins gets caught in tuna nets – whatever.  A bunch of animals evolved on this rock, unheeded by the rest of the universe, and after a while we mastered the knack of thinking.  Of course our first thought was that we were special in some way.  Better.  Destined for something.  So we made up stories that told us just why and how we were so special.

The day I realized we weren’t, everything made sense.  Suddenly the world wasn’t so terrifying, because I knew that – as bad as it was – at least I wasn’t going to spend an eternity burning for thinking dirty thoughts, and I was never going to have to hit my knees and apologize to an invisible man for eating beef on a Friday.  At least there wasn’t some scary, distant figure judging me for everything I did even as he made me do it.

The world is crazy, but at least it’s not that crazy.

So that’s where I am now; non-believing to the point that I hate saying that I don’t believe, or labeling myself an atheist.  These are relatives terms, and they relate to religion:  they label me as Other.  I can’t stand having my point of view defined in relation to all that madness.  There isn’t a thing for me not to believe in.  As surely as I don’t have a friendly monster living on my roof, there isn’t a god to reject, there isn’t a heaven and hell, there is nothing for me to not have in my life.  They are the delusions of others, and they can damn well leave me out of it.  I’m just me, walking around on the earth, surrounded by atmospheric gases, being a sane and rational human being.  It’s so much nicer this way.