Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Recharging

I have been wanting to write more lately, but each time I sit down to write, I can’t seem to figure out what to write about. I have had a lot of ideas in mind, but just can’t seem to settle on one to write about. Between the uproar over Atheism+ and the current political campaign, plus personal things going on, I’ve been in a bit of a muddle.

So it seems I’ve made an unconscious decision to not write, perhaps to allow my mind to sort things out. I think I am also trying to figure out where I want to go as a writer. Do I want to focus on writing about skepticism or atheism, or maybe science? Right now I just don’t know.

One bit of cool news to share is that my article that was accepted for publication last year in Skeptical Inquirer magazine will soon be published! I’ll post the details when I have them.

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

How To Ruin A Good Documentry

I just finished watching the documentary, “Indiana Jones and the Ultimate Quest.”   It tied the four Indiana Jones movies to real archeology.  For the first 3/4 of the show, it was a really interesting, fact based, documentary.  

The last 1/4 though, got away from facts and into the ideas that extraterrestrials gave mankind 16 crystal skulls that were spread across the world and would all be found when humans were at a world-wide crisis.  

There was no countering that idea with facts or science.  Only anecdotal evidence of supposed experts in UFO’s.  It was presented as, if not fact, at least very plausible.  Of course, every one of these types of claims have been shown to have no evidence at all, and the things they try to explain have been shown to be completely terrestrial. 

I love documentaries, but in the past 10 years or so, documentaries have become entertainment, with sensationalism being the driving source instead of facts and evidence.  If any of the producers of these types of documentaries believe that they must put this tripe into their shows because otherwise people won’t watch documentaries, they should take a look at the works of Ken Burns, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, or David Attenborough.

I honestly believe that most of us are smarter than the TV network executives give us credit for.  I find it sad, and a bit frightening, that even our supposed science shows are dumbed down.  What kind of society will be be in another generation if this is now the norm?

September 23, 2012 Posted by | Science, Skepticism | , , | 2 Comments

Selling Hope

I saw a commercial on TV today.  Some guy (I didn’t get his name, and it’s not really important) was selling a book that he claimed contained his secret to overcoming any addition.   You see things like this all the time.  Someone has a cure-all for whatever might ail you.

I’m not going to talk about the details of this guy’s supposed cure.  I’m not going to analyze the efficacy of him claims.  I want to look at the idea of selling hope;  why it is a sign of selfishness and perhaps even sociopathic. 

There are plenty of reasons why dubious claims are harmful, just browse the what’s the harm website for a plethora of details.   There are many examples there of people who have died because the chose to follow programs that promised a cure for a medical condition.  These stories are sad and unnecessarily so.

What what I can’t help but wonder about guys like the one I’ve mentioned here is, if they truly have cure or treatment that is revolutionary and that does what they say it does, then why do they always insist on charging for it?  Sure, I know people have to make a living, but I can tell you that if I came up with a treatment that could cure and help a lot of people, I’d want to help as many as I could.  

To have a treatment, a real cure, for a disease like MS or cancer, or a treatment that will get people off their addiction and keep them off, would be an amazing thing.  The ethical, the moral, thing to do would be to share this with the medical community, to allow others to test it and perfect it, so that it can benefit everyone.

Sure, get compensated.  After all, you worked for it.  You discovered it.  Drug companies would pay millions for something like this.  But to horde it, to sell it only to those who could afford your asking price, it the ultimate in selfishness and immorality.

September 23, 2012 Posted by | Skepticism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atheism+. Why I Am More Resolved Than Before To Support It

Jen McCreight quit blogging yesterday.  This from Almost Diamonds who wrote a post explaining some of the reason why.

I’m angry that Jen has been pushed to the point where she has to stop blogging.  She’s done so much, especially with the SSA, to help advance atheism.  The detractors say that those who support Atheism+ are trying to take over the atheist movement, that we are being hateful and divisive, that we are not thinking critically and are letting our emotions cloud our judgement.  

Of course it is emotional.  We are enraged and appalled at the misogyny that has become so apparent in the past year.  We aren’t automatons, but human.  Using our anger at the misogynists and others like them in the atheists movement to try to build something better is good, as Greta Christian says in her book.  

Anger can motivate people to right wrongs and gain rights and recognition in society.  We want to be seen as atheists who do more than just attack religion.  We want to take this movement to the masses, as it were, beyond the atheist community, by working openly, and publicly on important social issues that, until now, religion or other organizations have owned.  At least, that’s what I would like to see.  I think many who support Atheism+ feel this way too.

The people who drove Jen away want to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  It can’t, and won’t, stand.  But, I’m not going to attack those people, I’m going to ignore them.  They aren’t worth my time.  Instead, I’m going to do something positive and try to make Atheism+ a thing that will unite all those atheists who want to focus on social issues instead of just bashing religion and slapping ourselves on the backs for how much more clever we are than theists.  

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cool Dinosaurs!

Go see!  

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Science | , | Leave a comment

The Tea Party – American Taliban

The Tea Party is the most dangerous threat to the American way of life and to American liberty its self than anything we’ve seen since the era of McCarthyism over 50 years ago.  I’d say that they are an even greater threat.  At least during McCarthyism we still held education, science, and technology in high esteem.  In fact, it was science and technology that was going to save us from the communist threat.  McCarthyism was a political motivated by a real fear of communist expansion (but that still didn’t justify the restriction of rights that occurred).

Fortunately, the majority of Americans do seem to believe in working together for a common goal and the common good.  Unfortunately, most of them believe that we can accommodate the Tea Party and their ilk.  The reason for this, I believe, is that most of these “other” American are Christian and this makes them reluctant to criticize other Christians.  They buy into the anti-islamic, anti-atheist, anti-secular rhetoric of the Tea Party because they either don’t see the real threat or they are afraid to speak out.  This is the same thing we saw in the Islamic world after the 9/11 attacks: the vast majority of Muslims abhorred there radicals who perpetrate acts to terror in the name of Islam, but they were afraid to speak out for fear of being branded an infidel or of breaking islamic unity.

The majority of Christian in this country are accomidationis.  They believe that radical Christians can be reasoned with; can be accommodated; that compromises can be reached.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Radical Christians, along with all religious radicals, can not be reasoned with or accommodated because for them this is a holy war, a fight against good and evil.  As long as they believe that they are doing God’s work, nothing can make them compromise in the slightest thing.

Today, however, science and technology are viewed with great suspicion, even outright hostility by the religious right.  This time, in contract to McCarthyism, the perceived enemy of the Tea Party crowd isn’t a foreign threat, it is other Americans.   And unlike most of those within the secular movements, they have no room for compromise.  You are either with them or against them.  You can’t debate or argue them into changing their positions.  Like most everyone who’s world view relies on blind faith and religious righteousness, they will never yield and never give up.

This is why I constantly speak out against religion being forced on us.  This is why I continue to highlight the dangers and evils of religious thought and religious dogma that are passed off as patriotism.  This is why I always try to highlight the delusion that is theism and supernaturalism, or magical thinking. 

People use religion to foster hate and division.  Those who are ardent believers can rationalize away any evil up to and including murder.  If they are allowed to have their way, which they are getting more and more often, they would have this country become a Christian theocracy.   Anything that goes against their religious laws will be punished, those of other religions will be discriminated against.  Don’t believe it?  Just google “christian theocracy in america”.  

It is sad that the Tea Partiers had to take the Tea Party as their name.  It is an insult to all those who took part in the actual, historical tea party.  Those patriots fought for freedom from tyranny, not for the tyranny of a theocracy.  They should have rightly called themselves the American Taliban, because they are no different in their aims of creating a Christian nation than the Taliban in Afghanistan are in creating an Islamic nation there.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Humanism, Religion, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Atheism+: Doing Good Without God.

It’s been said that getting atheists to agree on something is like herding cats.  I’d say it’s more like trying to herd cats into a tub of water.  Atheists tend to be an inquisitive bunch; an intellectually bunch.  We reject dogma and the authority that goes along with it, hence we are loathed to being told what to do and what to think.  You could say we are fiercely independent (at least I say that we are).  

Given all that, you can see why trying to get a consensus about where to go for breakfast might be hard enough, never mind were we should all stand on a particular social issue.  And that’s the real issue in getting us all to band together for a common cause: we don’t like to be told what we should think or feel.

Still, being openminded and skeptical (yes, they do go hand in hand) we are able to listen to each other and really consider what each one of us has to say.  This attitude tends to lead to civilized debates, respect for each other’s rights to express ideas, and compromise, or at least it should.  I believe that it can and that it does.

The atheist/humanist/secular/(add your own label here) movements have much more in common than they do differences.   Most of us in these movements (and most of us identify with more than one) understand this and this has allowed us to begin to come together in the past few years in greater numbers and with great effect in support of issues that we all feel that we have a stake in.

Still, there is an ugly side to us as well.  Anti-feminism has shown its self to be much more prevalent that most of us imagined it was.  This is both bad and good.  It is bad, for the obvious reason that it shows that we all are not as enlightened as we’d like to be.  It is bad because it distracts us from working together to achieve our common goals.

It is good, however, that this is now out in the open.  You can’t tackle a problem until you can first acknowledge it.  Also, it is an opportunity to clean house, as it were.  By exposing the misogynists in our midst ( actually they tend to expose themselves) we can shame them into recognizing  their misplace sense of privilege or shun them from our ranks.  It is vital that we do so because we have the fight of our lives with the religious and social conservitives on our hands.

This is where Atheism+ comes in.  The new movement is not an attempt to establish an atheist dogma, as some try to claim.  Atheism+ is an attempt to bring together atheists who believe that we have a responsibility to go beyond fighting against superstition or fighting for the separation of church and state.  We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as atheists to fight for social justice for everyone, theist and non-theist, the superstitious and the skeptical, the religious and the non-believers.  

Feminism, gay rights, separation of church and state are just a few of the issues that most of us feel are important and that we are doing a good job of brining to the forefront of the social and political forums.  

We have already begun to raise our profile in the general public’s minds.  Just this year we had the Reason Rally, which made the national news.  We also have many good organizations supporting critical thinking and humanist issues such as the Secular Student Alliance, CFI, FFRF, American Atheists, the JREF, and American Humanists.  

Except for American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance, most of these, while they might have many atheists as members, are not atheistic groups.  What Atheism+ is, or can be, is a way for those of us who self-identify as atheists to get out and fight for social issues in public where we can meet “average” people and have them get to know us.  It will allow us to be seen as people who care for others, who do good things.  This is vitally important if atheists hope to ever become accepted by a society that currently sees us a amoral, selfish, heartless.

I urge those of you want to fight for social justice for everyone, who want to fight against misogyny, racism, bigotry, homophobia, poverty, and ignorance to consider joining the Atheist+ movement.  Talk about it with your friends and family (if they are still talking to you, that is), write about it, blog about it, tweet about it, set your Facebook profile picture to the Atheists+ symbol (see below), join the Atheist+ forum.

Let’s show the world that we are not only good without God, but we do good without God.

 

Apluslogo sm

Use me as your profile picture on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any other site of your choice.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Horrors Of Salvation – Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the horror behind the story of Noah.   I had considered expanding on the concept horror embodied in the idea of sacrifice found in the Bible by also talking about the who Jesus story, but decided to just keep it simple and stick to Noah.  I saw a comment on the Noah post that made me wish I had talked about Jesus.

 

It’s sad to hear that this is what the message of Christianity is becoming about. Dead religion will tell you one of two things about God…(1) He’s schizophrenic (He loves you but He hates you) or (2) He’s mysterious (nobody can figure Him out). But here is Jesus, who arrives later on as the Messiah. It is in Christ where God’s nature is revealed, and He is a God of Love.

Things may still be unclear about the Bible and there seems to be a lot of contradictions on God’s nature. But, the Cross made a significance, a proof, to how much God loves us (John 3:16). Hope that helps! 

Comment by tacticianjenro | September 2, 2012 | Reply

 

His argument is one made by many Christians to negate the nastiness of the Old Testament: that God suddenly became a merciful and loving god once he sent Jesus (or became Jesus, the Bible is a bit confusing on that point) to save us all.

 

Even if you grant that this argument is valid, the whole idea of sacrificing someone, someone who is supposedly innocent, is just as horrible and depraved as anything in the Old Testament.  Sure, it’s just one guy, not every person on earth, but the number of those sacrificed isn’t the issue.  The issue is the need for a blood sacrifice at all.  

 

I was raised Catholic.  I could never understand why God required a sacrifice to free us from sin.  If he is all powerful, why not just forgive our sins and be done with it?  The priests explained to me about Original Sin.  That didn’t make any sense to me either.  Why would God punish every human who ever lived just because the first two people sinned?  Why not just forgive Adam and Eve their sins?  Or if He couldn’t find it in his all loving heart to do that, why not just strike them both dead and be done with it?  He’s God.  He could just make more.

 

The idea that Jesus, the only son of God, the innocent lamb, had to die just because the rest of us were sinning bastards is insane.  That isn’t love, it is sadistic and cruel.  Worse, it is pointless.  If God is all powerful, then either forgive each of us our sins or smote us, don’t go killing your only son, especially when he doesn’t deserve it.

The idea that the god of the New Testament is now a loving, merciful god as opposed to the angry, vengful god of the Old Testament; that he is somehow a new and improved god, is absurd.  The sacrifice of Jesus is no different than asking Abraham to kill his son, or the killing of all the first born of Egypt.  It is just as cruel, just as horrible and depraved.  

The fact is, God, both the old and new versions, is a dick, pure and simple.  

 

September 3, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, secular humanism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Horror Of Salvation

I saw this drawing on DeviantArt today.  

Noah s Ark by frowzivitch

by Flora Turcniovic

While it is outwardly whimsical, at second glance it is full of horror.

The Story of Noah’s ark is often told as a story of salvation.  God has saved Noah, his family, and two of every creature from a world wide flood.  He sets them down in a new world with the sun shining and a rainbow in the sky.  It is given to us as a story hope and a lesson in God’s unending love for us.  

In this story, God decided to destroy his creation.  It is claimed that he did the because humans had almost all become sinners, loving nothing but sin and debauchery.  So he decided to destroy them all, all except Noah and his family, who loved him and we good and decent people. 

What is overlooked in this story is the complete horror and incomprehensible death and destruction that was perpetrated by a vengeful, capricious god who thought nothing about wiping out almost every living thing on earth.   Even if you accept that everyone but Noah and his family were sinners, were they all so completely evil that they all deserved death?  Even if you accept this, what about the animals?   Were they all sinners as well? 

What this artwork shows is a glimpse of the horror of the wonton death and destruction that this “loving” God visited upon his creatures.  What about all of the people?  Can you imagine seeing millions of bodies floating in the ocean, stretching from horizon to horizon?  What this reveals is utter destruction and death on a scale unimaginable perpetrated by a vengful and evil god, one who’s anger is far greater than his love, and who requires destruction and death in return for salvation.

This is the unacknowledged and overlooked horror of religion.  That message is that God will save us.  What is unspoken is that he is saving us from himself.

September 2, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Humanism, Religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 391 other followers