Friday, October 29, 2010

False Devils

False Devils

I listen to a lot of atheist podcasts. If you’re an atheist, and you have a podcast, you should let me know because I’ll probably subscribe. The podcast that inspired this blog wasn’t particularly atheist, however. The subject was an interview with an evangelical preacher who was looking for more civility when Christians encounter opposing views. In center-stage was the christian’s view that homosexuals should NOT be allowed to marry.

The evangelical made a statement I found interesting. He said, “False gods are dangerous, but so are false devils.” He meant that to mean that no good comes when believers consider non-believers to be devils. But that got me thinking about the “false devils” that are in Christianity, and why they are dangerous.

False Devil #1: Abortion

Look, I know the Pro-Life arguments. I went to Pro-Life rallies, chanted the chants and sand the hymns. I know that side. In high school, you would not find a more Pro-Life dude than me. I was wrong.

Abortion is a false devil. Freedom, liberty and civil rights are held by the living; no one else. Life begins at birth, and ends at death. If you find this arbitrary, that’s too bad. Life IS arbitrary. Deal with it. When we deny women the right to chose, we slay freedom and liberty with the sword of religious fervor, and do so in the name of a false god to defeat a false devil.

False Devil #2: Same-Sex Marriage

I’ve heard more moderate believers argue that civil unions should be separate but equal to marriage, but the word marriage should be reserved for religious institutions. What bullshit!! As if this “separate but equal” thing was a new idea. Like it was a good idea. Please.

Calling same-sex marriage a devil casts a spotlight on the real evil of denying people equal rights.

False Devil #3: Evolution

Look, it is time we all understand that evolution is a proven theory. People who deny evolution are simply willfully ignorant of what science is and what it does. This macro- vs. micro-evolution smoke screen that believers throw up demonstrates this. To acknowledge what they call micro-evolution and deny what they call macro-evolution is like saying there is no way millions of pixels could ever form a picture. While it is certainly true we lack all the pixels in the picture, we have enough to be able to see an image, and god is not there. Creationism is not science, and when it attempts to be, that is a real danger.

The false devils in belief give the believer a target to attack. Religion mobilizes against these perceived evils and in the process destroys the liberty, freedom and advancement of the human race. This is why atheists offer resistance. We understand what a false god and a false devil look like, and dismiss both easily.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Religion as OCD

Religion as OCD

Recently, my wife has become obsessed with watching documentaries and reality TV shows about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Okay, maybe she’s not really obsessed. She says she can stop anytime she wants.

I’ve seen a few episodes. One thing that struck me is the similarity I see when I discuss religion with believers. So often, I get the same responses from believers. You know the ones I mean. The first-cause argument, ontological argument, cosmological argument and my personal favorite, pascal’s wager. I get these ALL the time, and sometimes, I even get them multiple times from the same believer. I’ll refute one; they go to the next. That one is refuted, and they go to another. If they run out, they start over! If this isn’t a conditioned response, I don’t know what one is. And it is completely possible I don’t.

But what I find intriguing is that so many believers think these arguments are convincing. Have you ever asked a believer which of the multitude of arguments they toss out with verbatim accuracy convinced them that god is real? I guarantee NONE of these arguments convinced the believer. You don’t REASON your way into religion. You are coerced through fear, emotional appeal, indoctrination, and plain old-fashioned brainwashing.

I digress. My point here is that so often, I feel believers hear a religious statement, and then have a conditioned response. They MUST believe the statement is true whether they agree or not. If they do not, they repeat the statement over and over until they accept it as true.

There seems to be some partitioning going on here. A believer hears a god-claim, and perhaps without even realizing it, places it in a no-questioning zone in their brain. Like, this over here we can question, but this thing requires faith, and therefore cannot be examined in the same way.

Atheism is merely applying to religious claims the same critical thinking that most people are able to apply to everything else.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Drink some of this, Believer! Be one of US!

Drink some of this, believer! Be one of US!

The recent PEW survey and my re-posting of my Finding My Religion blog got me thinking about the cocktail of faiths I had before giving up religion. There is a quote from someone more famous than I that claims everyone is an atheist in regards to some god or deity; atheists simply reject one more. The statement goes on to claim if one understands why they do not believe in Zeus or Odin, they will better understand why the atheist also rejects the existence of their god. I think this is true, to a degree, and that is the subject of this blog.

I’m starting a student group of non-believers at the college I currently attend. We held our first un-official meeting about a week ago. There, it was obvious that of all the members, my journey to apostasy was the most turbulent, and my indoctrination was the fiercest. The most turbulence came from looking at other religions and trying to get my ethics to fit in the religion’s box.

Perhaps because I was so indoctrinated, I had to look to other religions in order to break free. Whatever the case, I certainly did. In doing so, lots of commonalities arose. Every religion I looked at wanted me to employ faith. I had to simply accept some tenant of the religion without any evidence to support the claim. It really struck me that the parts of the religion I tended to discard were those that had no supporting evidence. The only redeeming quality in any of them was a moral code and a philosophy of good will. I already had that. I was looking for a reliable, reasonable belief system.

Since all the faith-based portions of the religions were easily discarded, I figured I’d just make some up myself. Thus me-ism began. It would seem I’d make a horrible religion-starter. I kept trying to re-make my faith so that it would match what I observed in reality. The more I did so, the less faith made any sense. But the morality seemed to remain constant. So the question became, how do I make sense of morality without god?

When I got to Satanism, I found this easier. Satanism stressed the individual more than any other faith I had found. I suppose I should explain that by this time, I had become convinced that god was imaginary, and Satanism was not devil-worship. At least, not for me. I call it faith, however, because Satanism had a large “magical” component. There was “black magic”, for example. There were rituals and spells, many similar to those I had picked up in Wicca. In other words, there forces out there one cannot possibly understand. It took me a long time to see the bullshit here.

But morality was simple in Satanism. Do what feels good. I enjoy doing the right thing, so here, in Satanism, I forged the idea that morality MUST be organic. I had to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate my moral code to be sure I was as moral as I could be. I hold this philosophy today.

Since the PEW report, it does seem the atheist knows more about other faiths than the faithful. I know when I began my investigation into other faiths, I did so only because I had heard a teacher of mine tell his story of doing the same, and returning to Catholicism. That was the path I thought I wanted to take, and he said it was possible. The atheist needs to at least hear the claim so the claim can be rejected. It’s hard to do that when you are conditioned to cover your ears whenever a claim from another religion is recited.

Perhaps the elixir of atheism is a bit of each of the world’s religions mixed altogether. Perhaps this bitter drink is enough to induce faith-vomiting. Perhaps this is why every atheist I know supports a world-religion class in schools. If we followed NBC’s star, would the slogan have read, “The More You Know….The More Likely You Are To Apostatize” ?

Or perhaps the elixir is nothing more than education. There is no better way to dissolve delusion, than with education. So, drink, believer. Be one of us. God isn’t here; we are.