Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Help For People Recovering From Religion

The organization Recovering From Religion has started a hotline for those who are recovering from religion.  This is in response to all of the “…countless emails and phone calls from people seeking help on their journey away from faith, at all hours of the day and night”.

If you are recovering or have recovered from religion, you know how terribly painful a process this can be.  Not only are you abandoning a life-long set of beliefs, but you face ostracization from friend, family, and co-workers.  You also live with the fear of the negative reactions you may receive when people find out you are an atheist.  

I have applied to answer the Hotline and to help out with their Facebook page.   If you are recovering from religion, or are an life-long atheists, and want to help, go and apply.  It is a great cause that will help the millions who are struggling with losing their religion.

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, secular humanism, Skepticism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dehumanizing Atheists

This vile piece of hate came to my attention the other day:

Atheists are not technically human beings (they have no soul) therefore they are not protected by our nations laws and bill of rights.

Now, based on his other tweets, TeaPartyTony is nothing but a hate spewing, racist, misogynistic jerk.  I try to avoid these types, but what made this stand out for me was the part about Atheists having no souls.  

Given some of Tony’s other tweets, he expects to see atheists burn in hell, but here he says we have no souls, so I guess we can’t go to hell.  I doubt Tony sees the conflict between his two statements, but then again, I’m guessing that he probably doesn’t care.  In either case, he is putting atheists in a class of people who he considers to be subhuman.   

This tactic of declaring those who you dislike as less than human goes back into antiquity.  We like to think of ourselves as good people, or at least as adhering to some kind of moral code.  To hurt or kill another human goes against most peoples’ moral code, so when they find themselves in conflict with others outside their group they have to find a way to rationalize the hate they feel.  They need to make their opponents less than human, less like them.  This allows them to resolve the cognitive dissidence that they have to grapple with by treating another person badly.

Religion has a very effective way to dehumanize people.  It can claim that the hated group either have no souls, or more commonly, have souls that will be tormented in hell forever.  In this way, they become not so much less human, but less worthy of being treated like humans.  Using religion to dehumanize someone is even more effective than the usual method of just calling someone inhuman.  By claiming that their god has decreed that the hated person(s) are damned, all responsibility for hating, persecuting, hurting, and killing another human begin falls on the god, not his/her/its followers.

It is a very insidious, and very effective, way to justify treating others as less that deserving of the same rights that you have.

Atheists are not technically human beings (they have no soul) therefore they are not protected by our nations laws and bill of rights.

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, secular humanism | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The (Believers) Problem of Evil

Isaiah 45:7

King James Version (KJV)

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

For those who believe in a god, especially a loving, merciful god, evil is a real problem.  Some say that satan causes evil in the world, others that evil is god’s way of testing our faith.

As far as I can see it, these, and other arguments like them, all fall flat.  I could write a whole book against these arguments (and many have), but instead, I think my position can be summed up with the following quote attributed to Epicuris:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

The first quote, from Isaiah, pretty much shows that the god who Christians like to claim as being a god of love, is also a god of evil.  Their Bible is pretty unequivical about it: the LORD creates evil.  It really can’t be any other way, if, as they say, their god created everything, for by default, he must have created evil as well as good.

To surrender the cause of evil to an unseen and amorphous entity is to refuse to take any responsibility for the evil that humans visit upon each other.  When you accept that evil is a product of human activity, you can then look it straight in the eyes and tackle it head on, instead of pawning it off to an imaginary god or gods.

There are many reasons that I am an atheist; there is my love of science, my thirst for knowledge, and my instance on truth, no matter how ugly it may be.  Still, the two quotes above make a very powerful, yet simple, argument against believing in any god or gods.  They are a beginning point for shuffling off the imaginary coil of belief and moving onto a life of real responsibility those with who we share this planet.

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Science, Skepticism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

More Cool Science and Skeptical Images

Here are some more cool science and non-theist images for your enjoyment!

They make as much sense as the Christian trinity.

The_Not_So_Holy_Trinity_by_SacredCandybar

It is just as plausible as the Christian version.

invisible_pink_unicorn_by_dethklocalypse-d4gsh12

by ScaredCandybar

Science rocks!

Back Off Science by BWS

by BWS

The man who showed the world that science can be exciting and beautiful.

Carl_Sagan_by_ArtemisiaSynchroma

by ArtemisiaSynchroma

Probably the most influential scientist since Newton.  Evolution baby!

Charles_Darwin_by_ArtemisiaSynchroma

by ArtemisiaSynchroma

His work greatly influence Darwin.  He is the forgotten hero of evolution.

Alfred Russel Wallace_by_ArtemisiaSynchroma

by ArtemisiaSynchroma

 

Pass the peas please!  The theory of inheritance derived by his work with peas laid the groundwork for the science of genetics.  I still remember this to this day from high school biology class.

Gregor Mendel by ArtemisiaSynchroma

by ArtemisiaSynchroma

November 23, 2011 Posted by | Religion, Science, Skepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Humor to Show Up Delusions

There is a well known example that supporters of science use when refuting the idea of a perfect creator.  The example is the laryngeal nerve.  This nerve supplies motor function and sensation to the larynx.  What is unusual about it is that, even though the larynx is located in the throat in most invertebrates, it follows a path down from the throat, into the chest, and back up to the brain, rather than the shorter and more obvious route of going straight from the throat and up to the brain.

In referring to Richard Dawkins use of the laryngeal nerve argument, Wikipedia states:

“The extreme detour of this nerve (over fifteen feet in giraffes) is cited as evidence of evolution as opposed to intelligent design. The nerve’s route would have been direct in the fish-like ancestors of modern tetrapods, traveling from the brain, past the heart, to the gills (as it does in modern fish). Over the course of evolution, as the neck extended and the heart became lower in the body, the laryngeal nerve was caught on the wrong side of the heart. Natural selection gradually lengthened the nerve by tiny increments to accommodate, resulting in the absurdly circuitous route now observed, which, if designed, could only be described as unintelligent.”[1]

I’ve heard this argument against intelligent design given many times and in different ways, some more effective than others, but as is often the case, humor and satire can serve to drive the point home much better than any physical evidence or well articulated argument can.

Jonathan Rosenberg draws the funny, topical, and skeptical Scenes From A Multiverse.  Today’s installment address this particular augment with great hilarity and precision.  It is a perfect surgical strike against the idea of a perfect creator, and leaves us with the conclusion that god either does not exist or, if he does, is just plain stupid.  The next to the last panel says it all.

1. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2009). “11. History written all over us”The greatest show on Earth. New York: Free Press. pp. 360–362. ISBN 9781416594789. Retrieved November 21, 2009.

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Religion, Science | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Burden of Proof is on You

Believers often ask me to prove to them that God does not exist.  The only evidence that I can offer is that there is no evidence.  Now, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so just by saying that there is no convincing evidence that there isn’t a god doesn’t mean that there isn’t.

The real issue here is that I don’t have to prove anything.  The onus is on the believer to prove that their god does exists.  Most believers don’t see it this way.  I could spend hours, and many a scientist, and atheist has, trying to explain how the scientific method and the rules of logic work to believers, but I’d get nowhere.  They usually just don’t get it.  It is for this reason that I have refused to try to tackle this issue of proving the non-existence of god, or anything else for that matter.

So, you may ask, why am I addressing this issue now?  Because I found a lovely illustration that does one of the best jobs of showing why I don’t have to prove the nonexistence of god, and  believers do.

Invesible_Pink_Unicorn_by_BeautifullyChaotic

By Shelly Rau at http://beautifullychaotic.deviantart.com/

Nuf said.

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Religion, Science | , , , | 3 Comments

I Chose Not To Believe

I think that the one of the most compelling reasons that I have chosen not be believe in any supernatural god(s) can best be summed up by the picture below.  Look at it. Think really hard about it.  If you do you will begin to understand what lead me to shed my supersitious beliefs.

poly_atheism_demotivational_by_hull612-d39xom1

By hull612 (Otherwise known as Jon)

November 4, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Humanism, Religion, secular humanism | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The True Miracle of Life

I’ve tried to express here on many occasions why I feel that we need to live this life to the fullest and not waste our time expecting any kind of afterlife.  I have tried to describe why this is important, but it seemed that my words could just not express the beauty of this life and what we can experience in it.

Fortunately, I’ve found someone who can.

“When my husband died, because he was so famous & known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — & ask me if Carl changed at the end & converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage & never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief & precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive & we were together was miraculous — not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous & so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space & the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me & it’s much more meaningful…
The way he treated me & the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other & our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.“

- Ann Druyan, talking about her husband, Carl Sagan

October 4, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Skepticism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Invisible Pink Unicorns

“Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can’t see them.” — Steve Eley

Who can possibly doubt the impeccable logic of the above statement?  You can’t read that statement and then claim not to believe in Invisible Pink Unicorns.  Their ability to be invisible AND pink is the untimate clincher as far as I’m concerned.

Of course, there are many who will refuse to believe in the undeniable existence of Invisible Pink Unicorns, but they are all blasphemers, especially those heathen Pastafarians from that den of  iniquity, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Religion, Skepticism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Embracing Randomness – Why Mathematics and Statistics Negates God

I had an interesting FB conversation with a couple of fundie friends of mine.  I had posted a quote to the about the ineffectiveness of prayer.  One replied with how she has prayed to God and that because of that she now is with a wonderful man who treats her and her kids great.  I responded that I am with a wonderful woman who treats me and my kids great, and I never prayed for anything.  The other friend then replied that he had prayed for me, implying that it was his prayers that brought me this wonderful woman.

Believers will ascribe all the wonderful things in their lives to God.  The fact that others who don’t believe in God, or in their particular god, also have wonderful things in their lives doesn’t seem to have an explanation within their world view.   A rational view of this data would indicate that good things happening are random throughout any given population (as are bad things).  Another factor is how specific people view the things that happen to them.  What seems a good thing to one person could be considered not to good to another.  It is a matter of one’s outlook on life.  Is the glass half empty or half full?

For me, knowing that events are basically random makes it easier to deal with bad events because I don’t have to worry if I am pissing off some invisible sky man.   Conversely, I also don’t have to waste my time and effort trying to please said sky man or thank him for a random event.   I can then focus on how I must deal with things.

That’s not to say that I don’t feel that I’m about due for some good things to happen in my life after all the shit I’ve been through.  Some would take this as a sign of karma.  Personally, I see it as a sign of the law of averages.  Since the past 20 years have pretty much sucked. With all things being equal, the fact that good things are now happening (and I believe, will continue to happen) is pretty much a matter of things averaging out.  Regression to the mean.  Mathematics and statistics are much better and more consistent at explaining the why good or bad things happen to us than is the idea of some benevolent (or malevolent, depending on how you look at it) god making things happen.

August 3, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Science, Skepticism | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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