The “Evangelical” Atheist – Tolerance, and the differences we share

March 24, 2012

Frank Vernon Fred Miller asks:

How many of you, having denounced religion, or at least upon accepting Atheism as your belief, found it difficult to accept the fact that religion permeates every aspect of our environment including our families, our work, and our schools?

I am having difficulty accepting how much religion influences every aspect of our lives from centuries of dogmatic abuse. I laugh at my own ignorance when I occasionally use expressions such as, “Oh my God” or “Jesus Christ!”. It serves to remind me just how much religion in my own immediate environment has influenced me.

I want to be tolerant of others beliefs. I don’t want to be just as offensive an evangelical christian by forcing my beliefs upon others, but I find myself doing just that at times with Atheism.

I realize now that I should have been born much farther into the future when our species has evolved a bit more.

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Atheism and Free Will

February 18, 2011

PhoenixGray says:

Hi, I was wondering if there is an atheistic explanation for the phenomenon of free will?

To try and put the question into specific terms so that there is no confusion:

1. We have the experience of being able to choose. This may be manifested in a course of action or merely a belief to be held.

2. If our choices are merely a reflection of the particular brain chemistry involved, or of any other physical process, we cannot be said to have a true choice in any sense, as there is nothing outside the physical realm to be influencing the action of the brain and body, which are physical things. Therefore, it seems that any physical explanation for free will is by definition faulty, including any potential future knowledge we may uncover.

3. The standard way out of this, and the way that I took as an atheist, is that there really is no such thing as free will and we merely experience the illusion of choice. This begs the question of who is experiencing this illusion, but apart from that, if we have no choices that are not determined by physical law, then how did we arrive at that conclusion? In order to exercise rational thought, you must be able to make a free will choice between two alternatives according to which you believe is more weighty. If there is no free will, on some level you have no choice but to believe this and it is not rational in any sense.

A1. Now of course, the argument made in point 3 does not mean that the hard determinism theory is false, merely that if it were true we would have no way of knowing that, since the belief itself invalidates the process which led to the belief.

A2. Randomness is not the same as choice. Demonstrating that not everything can be predicted in its behavior, even with a hypothetical infinite body of knowledge about the original state, does not mean that this randomness is an explanation for choice, any more than a roulette wheel chooses the number the ball falls into.


Help! I’m all alone in my enlightened bubble!

May 22, 2009

Enlightened writes on May 21, 2009 at 4:03 am:

I was raised knowing that I am Jewish, but had a very sparse religious education. That changed when I moved to Israel (long story) and met my future husband who came from a very traditional family. Somehow, despite my very rational and logical approach to just about everything, I became a full believer. Mind you, I NEVER practiced or admired orthodoxy, but I did believe in a supreme deity- or at least convinced myself that I did. Then, after a tragic wake-up call, I evolved! I was enlightened! In some ways it has been invigorating and–well, enlightening! Although most often it is a very sad and bitter realization. I feel angry that I wasted so much time, that I allowed myself to be oppressed-THAT I WAS PART OF MY OWN OPPRESSION! But the worst part is that I fed this stupid god/Santa Claus BS to my children. My husband still fears god (he’d do better to fear me a little!) and we even keep Kosher. I have no room in my life and absolutely no patience for religion- especially Judaism. (Somehow, I only pity the followers of other religions-but I have a growing animosity towards Judaism.) Most of my friends are believers as well. They just smile and change the subject when I start to rant (I am a good person and a good friend so they stick around). Those of my friends who are not believers just can’t understand what I am so worked up about. They sing holiday songs, enjoy holiday feasts and could care less about god, and all the ugly facets of religion that lie heavy on my heart.
So here I am on one hand relieved and excited. (I want to wake everyone up! “Hello! Guess what?! There is no god you idiots! There never was! Ok, let’s get to work! It is time to move on! There is a MUCH higher level of morality than religion. Let’s get busy and fix this world!)
On the other hand, I am depressed. I have god and religion all around me, all of the time. I married my heart’s choice 20 years ago and I feel that I can’t just change the rules on him. I began raising my children Jewish and feel that they are too young to turn around and say “oops, I didn’t really mean that.” The innocent part of celebrating Holidays is gone for me, and I just can’t bring myself to celebrate anything but birthdays. I am a real pain during the holidays!!
I admit that I have been prone to ranting and raving lately, but I just wish I could wake up tomorrow and find that the world has caught up to me. People think that I just hate god, because of the losses I have suffered. What they don’t understand is that I hate what the belief in god has done to humanity, what it has done to me, my parents, and my sweet peace-loving sister who was blown up beyond recognition while sleeping on the beach. I don’t hate god. THERE IS NO GOD! I hate bigotry, oppression, discrimination and ignorance- A.k.a. Religion!
So- besides anti-depressants, therapy, tolerance, patience and time, does anyone have some suggestions for the ‘woman in the bubble’?


Amino Acids: Attacking Atheism (again)

March 31, 2009

Xela777 Says:

So, you guys had your experiment, (http://bcs.whfreeman.com/thelifewire/content/chp03/0302001.html) where “you” used methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water to mimic the early earth’s atmosphere, and viola you guys made amino acids! No one disputes that. Although, I am curios as to how these amino acids eventually linked up to make a functional cell, or how they linked at all. These amino acids needed to be in a very specific order, and although T’s will link to C’s, is it? I don’t see how the groups of T-C and A-U (in the case of RNA, which is thought to be before DNA) will join together to make any intelligible (as in, will work) organism.
I will also point out that after the 1950’s, the prehistoric meteorologists rethought their hypothesis of early atmosphere, and changed it to nitrogen, I think oxygen, iron too? The point is, they changed it because the supposed hydrogen would’ve escaped off, and the experiment never showed the amino results in the “new” atmosphere.
But how did aminos link?


Bible Contradictions

December 6, 2008

Sabregod Says:

Why Does Atheist Doesn’t Believe in Bible And Religion. Bible And Science Doesn’t Contradict if You Gave Some Examples of Contradictions, I Will come up some counter-arguments against those contradictions.


Atheism by Faith?

May 27, 2008

Part 1: Spot the Equivocation

Fundamentalist Christians often charge that atheists can’t know that God does not exist (after all, we can’t prove the negative) so atheists have to take it on faith that there is no God, just as fundamentalists take it on faith that God exists. To an extent, fundamentalists use logic and evidence to support their religious claims, but if you look beneath the surface, if you ask “how do you know” often enough (but how do you know that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God?), you finally arrive at the answer: “you just have to have faith,” or other creative variants like “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” The idea is to put atheism on equal footing with Christian fundamentalism; to show that atheism is no more evidence based than Christianity.

Have you spotted the fatal flaw yet? The flaw is that the fundamentalists equivocate the meaning of the word, “faith.” When applied to religion, fundamentalists mean blind faith – the willingness to accept and believe without evidence (and even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary). On the other hand, when they apply the word, “faith,” to conclusions based on evidence, they mean that if we don’t know for sure (i.e., if we don’t have proof), then we have to believe that our conclusions are true. However, considering the available evidence, and then accepting the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence is far from blind faith – it is “reasoned belief.” When referring to the “blind faith” of Christianity, and the “reasoned belief” of skepticism, fundamentalists use the same term, “faith,” for both, even though the meaning of each is quite different. Once you make the distinction, the charge that atheism is no more evidence-based than Christianity, crumbles.

Part 2: The “Faith Game”

Just for fun, consider an aspect of faith from the fundamentalist Christian viewpoint. The author of Hebrews (let’s just call him “Paul” for now) says in Heb 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

According to Paul, faith is the evidence. Fundamentalists who accept Intelligent Design claim that we have to take evolution on faith since we have never seen animals evolve (never mind that we actually have seen animals and plants speciate, and we have ample evidence to consider evolution a fact). Therefore, they claim that evolution is “not seen” but that proponents of evolution (biologists) simply take it on faith. Then according to Paul (and fundamentalists by definition, take Paul’s words as absolutely true), the “faith” of the biologists is itself the evidence of evolution; the biologists’ faith is “the evidence of things not seen”. By their own reasoning, fundamentalists must admit that there is evidence for evolution.


Ethics and Atheism

May 8, 2008

Some of the earlier posts on this blog dealt with morality, where some theists challenged the possibility of atheist morals, and others questioned the reason atheists should be moral at all. Having discussed those questions theoretically, it might be interesting to revisit them in light of an example. Let’s consider the ethics of blogging and use this blog as the example.

An interesting aspect of blogging is the opportunity to interact with a wide array of people that we might not otherwise ever come across. Some people who post here on this blog are believers, others are skeptics. Some are thoughtful, others are flippant. Some are respectful, others are contemptuous. As one who posts on this blog, what should guide my behavior, regardless of how others behave? Here are a few thoughts:

1) I should treat others as I would have them treat me. However this presumes that others wish to be treated the same way I wish to be treated, but it’s not a bad place to start. In that case, I’ll post thoughtful, respectful comments.

2) I should follow rule one even when others don’t. In face-to-face discussions, this may not be good advice – no one is obligated to endure abuse. But in a blog setting, it’s unlikely that someone’s abusive post, whether intensionally abusive or accidentally abusive, will harm you in any real sense. Other readers will think more poorly of the abuser, and even the group or community that he represents, than of the “abusee.” Which leads me to the next rule:

3) Don’t respond to abuse in kind. There can be many reasons for abusive posts. Some people simply have poor communication skills, or they could even have personality disorders. Others have been abused themselves (maybe they merited the abuse, and maybe not) so they are just taking it out on the next guy. Still others are simply trying to incite their target to be abusive in order to use the target’s abusive reactions to discredit him (see the last part of #2). In the first 2 cases, the kind thing would be to respond with respect. In the 3rd case, the smart thing would be to respond with respect.

What would you add to these?

What if anything does the fact that I, an atheist who has a sense of morality and follows a set of ethics, say about arguments from morality for the existence of God? What if anything does the fact, that my ethics differ from the ethics of other commenters on this blog, say about an “absolute morality” versus a natural sense of morality innate to humans – and therefore what if anything does it say about arguments from morality for the existence of God?


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