10 Facts About Atheists – (Pew Research)

I found this article a few days ago over on Agnostic.com and thought it be interesting to take a delve into it a bit.

10 facts about atheists

Estimating the number of atheists in the U.S. is complicated. Some adults who describe themselves as atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. At the same time, some people who identify with a religion (e.g., say they are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish) also say they do not believe in God.

But one thing is for sure: Along with the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans (many of whom believe in God), there has been a corresponding increase in the number of atheists. As nonbelievers and others gather in Washington, D.C., for the “Reason Rally,” here are key facts about atheists and their beliefs:

As with many people, the first paragraph took me somewhat by surprise. However, I am unsure of how they define Atheism.

A big reason why I am a proponent of a more umbrella-esk term such as Secularism or non-believers (it doesn’t really matter) IS because of situations like this. People without religious beliefs are all over the map. Some may not have made the logical transition all the way to agnostic atheism. Some may not ever go that far. A few (like me) may be more interested in pursuing other matters than a new label and ideology.

Atheism is not one size fits all. Nor does it have to be.

Either way, atheism does not seem the right one in this case. Agnostic theist maybe. Theist could work. Maybe deism. In any case, more than just atheism.

As for the people that identify with religion yet don’t believe in god, I can also understand the sentiment. A big part of being part of a church congregation is social status and interaction. At times, being a member of this tribe is an integral part of maintaining a normal existence in many environments. A church can both be a support network and THE support network.

Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with flocking with a group you have likely known for much of your life and otherwise have few differences with, this could serve as another wake-up call to the atheism-centric folk of the non-believers out there.
It’s not just about deconversion and rationalism. It should be about building support structures. Communities.
Places where people can interact during good times. Places where people can be lent a helping hand during bad times. And otherwise places wherein our collective humanity trumps all other factors.

There are some good examples to be had of this, I don’t deny that. Many good people are doing good things. But at the same time, many more in the space (of whom tend to have a significantly louder voice) are more interested in promoting an ideology and a brand than much else. An action plan that short changes both any long term goals AND people stuck living in situations of closeted non-belief out of necessity.

1.) The share of Americans who identify as atheists has roughly doubled in the past several years. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 3.1% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in a similarly large survey in 2007. An additional 4.0% of Americans call themselves agnostics, up from 2.4% in 2007.

While this does not surprise me, I have to wonder if there may be a generational thing at play here.

Everyone knows that the internet has proven to be an invaluable tool for breaking the death grip of religion for millions of people around the world. Though the impact has resonated for people of all ages, Millenials and Gen Z grew up around the internet.

Basically, I wonder if more adults of all ages are truly leaving religion behind, or if the overall pool of adults is just growing larger. With the younger generations tendency towards secularist attitudes, is the pool of theists just becoming diluted?

2.) Atheists, in general, are more likely to be male and younger than the overall population68% are men, and the median age of atheist adults in the U.S. is 34 (compared with 46 for all U.S. adults). Atheists also are more likely to be white (78% are Caucasian vs. 66% for the general public) and highly educated: About four-in-ten atheists (43%) have a college degree, compared with 27% of the general public.

This seems to fit my hypothesis. Which also means that the number is likely only going to grow. Barring something unforeseen.

3.) Self-identified atheists tend to be aligned with the Democratic Party and with political liberalism. About two-thirds of atheists (69%) identify as Democrats (or lean in that direction), and a majority (56%) call themselves political liberals (compared with just one-in-ten who say they are conservatives). Atheists overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage (92%) and legal abortion (87%). In addition, three-quarters (74%) say that government aid to the poor does more good than harm.

Again, unsurprising.

Though politics is indeed separate from religiosity, I suspect that real-world dynamics contribute to this. Since many atheists face friction upon publicly disclosing their choice to deconvert, it’s hard not to gain empathy out of such an experience.

4.) Although the literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary8% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. Indeed, 2% say they are “absolutely certain” about the existence of God or a universal spirit. Alternatively, there are many people who fit the dictionary definition of “atheist” but do not call themselves atheists. About three times as many Americans say they do not believe in God or a universal spirit (9%) as say they are atheists (3%).

As explored before, there could be a number of reasons for this.

They might not know the terms, having never come across such discourse. They may not care. Who knows.

It just illustrates the importance of going above atheism. The potential for a hugely influential driving force in politics exists. All that is required to get there, is more unity and less brand promotion.

5.) Unsurprisingly, more than nine-in-ten self-identified atheists say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives, and nearly all (97%) say they seldom or never pray. At the same time, many do not see a contradiction between atheism and pondering their place in the world. Three-in-ten (31%) say they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly. A similar share (35%) often thinks about the meaning and purpose of life. And roughly half of all atheists (54%) frequently feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe, up from 37% in 2007. In fact, atheists are more likely than U.S. Christians to say they often feel a sense of wonder about the universe (54% vs. 45%).

This paragraph makes me wonder about the authors understanding of the concept of atheism. It seems only skin deep. Which explains a lot.

It’s unsurprising that atheist types have so much interest in both the makeup of the world and their overall place in it because a big part of leaving religion is the loss of such clarity. If you have scripture of any kind to fall back on, the big questions are answered for you.

Who done it? God

Why am I here? God

What is my purpose? Serving God

To be outside the realm of monotheistic religion (at least the big 3) is to figure this all out for yourself. Though there are many tools available to help with the first question (after changing who to what, of course), the other 2 are more difficult. Of course, there exist many other ideologies that often times step in and fill the gaps. However, some may go there whole lives trying to figure this stuff out. Some may not ever answer that question.

I’ve been on the secular side of the fence for a good decade, and I don’t have an answer. To be perfectly honest, I’ve accepted that I may never be able to answer the final question (the 2ed is irrelevant, really).

6.) In the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, self-identified atheists were asked how often they share their views on God and religion with religious people. Only about one-in-ten atheists (9%) say they do at least weekly, while roughly two-thirds (65%) say they seldom or never discuss their views on religion with religious people. By comparison, 26% of those who have a religious affiliation share their views at least once a week with those who have other beliefs; 43% say they seldom or never do.

Not much new knowledge here.

7.) Virtually no atheists (1%) turn to religion for guidance on questions of right and wrong, but increasing numbers are turning to scienceAbout a third of atheists (32%) say they look primarily to science for guidance on questions of right and wrong, up from 20% in 2007. A plurality (44%) still cite “practical experience and common sense” as their primary guide on such questions, but that is down from 52% in 2007.

This is puzzling, possibly terrifying. It makes me wonder how this question was worded on the survey.

Back when I was an atheist, I embodied many of the common tropes that have now come to annoy me. However, I am not sure how I would have answered this question.
Science is a tool. And much like any other tool (like a knife or a pencil), it is morally and ethically neutral in nature. Which is why I question how one can turn to it as a source of right and wrong.

I am a champion of philosophy. Though it tends to get a bad rap in today’s popular discourse, it’s separation from science has almost always been problematic. If science is the hammer, philosophy is the rational mind guiding it to hit only nails. As opposed to what we have now . . . science bound for the most part, only by the morals and ethics of the scientists practising it.

Exhibit A . . . Nuclear weapons.

Back in the era of the Manhatten project, some physicists were concerned with the possibility of the nuclear blast could quite literally set the atmosphere on fire. To quote those who know a whole lot more than me:

There’s nitrogen in the air, and you can have a nuclear reaction in which two nitrogen nuclei collide and become oxygen plus carbon, and in this process you set free a lot of energy.  Couldn’t that happen?

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/bethe-teller-trinity-and-the-end-of-earth/

Of course, this was considered to be a distant possibility. Unlike how it is often recounted, the math didn’t support such a conclusion. However, to quote a Washington Post journalist:

Still. In science there are no absolutes. That’s a lot of faith to put into your equations. The belief that they could understand the workings of the atom was essential to the whole process of building the bomb. Leo Szilard conceived of a chain reaction of neutrons while crossing a London street in 1933; only a dozen years later these scientists and generals were out in the middle of the New Mexico desert to test ideas and hardware thrown together under wartime pressure. They had a decent understanding of what would probably happen — but this had never been done before. This was a new thing on the planet. And — as Oppenheimer said — the world would never be the same.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/achenblog/wp/2015/07/23/the-man-who-feared-rationally-that-hed-just-destroyed-the-world/?utm_term=.5173c91e1c64

It’s an interesting situation that isn’t uncommon in the realm of science.

The desire to push the limits of possibility. The external weight (and propaganda) of World War 2 . All that seems to missing, is any form of checks and balances. Even if we’re pretty sure that we won’t set the entire atmosphere alight by way of this explosion, is it STILL a good idea to do it anyway?

Consider the net results for humanity going forward. Since then, nuclear weapons have only become more powerful. Not just capable of ending the world as we know it in theory, but in REALITY. All it takes is 2 nation states unleashing their arsenals, and we’re in the realm of the film On The Beach.

Given that the barrier to using these weapons is mutual destruction at the hand of an enemy, is this a net positive for humanity? Does the guarantee of death and destruction keep radical entities in line? Or does it just raise the stakes a whole lot higher than they need to be?

For example, the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. Given the combative relationship of India and Pakistan, does the presence of these weapons constitute a good thing?

Consider the atheist.

There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weapons? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own . . .

How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a global genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen.”

Source: The End of Faith, by Sam Harris, p. 128–129.

https://askepticalhuman.com/miscellaneous/2017/11/26/the-truth-about-sam-harris-the-nuclear-first-strike-against-muslims

Talk about a can of worms . . . shall I rejoice in the fact that India didn’t take a page out of Sam Harris’s book and likely kill us all?

Anyway, science is a great tool for understanding (and harnessing) the world we live in. But when it comes to moral and ethical guidelines, one has to look elsewhere. Hence why I find it odd that so many apparently cite science as being their go to for such matters.

What am I missing?

8.) Americans like atheists less than they like members of most major religious groups. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey asked Americans to rate groups on a “feeling thermometer” from zero (as cold and negative as possible) to 100 (the warmest, most positive possible rating). U.S. adults gave atheists an average rating of 41, comparable to the rating they gave Muslims (40) and far colder than the average given to Jews (63), Catholics (62) and evangelical Christians (61).

One doesn’t need a study to know the reasons for this. Jews, Catholics and evangelicals are more alike to most people (religious) than misunderstood and often demonized heathens. This doesn’t account for the cold shoulder towards Muslims, but racism does.

Yes, I know that Islam isn’t a race. However, it’s all about what ignorant people think Muslims look like, and what these people think Islam is.
In reality, both run the gambit. However, since many in first world countries tend to be ignorant (sometimes proudly so) OR are listening to faux-intellectuals like Sam Harris quote Pew polls (Hello agian!), Islam often boils down to this:

1.) Muslims are anyone halfway between Caucasian and African American who wear any type of turban. This often times mistakenly encompasses Sikh’s as well, even though that belief system has origins in India.

2.) A majority of Muslims respond to a survey in favour of such barbaric practices as stoning homosexuals and murdering heathens like myself.

Notice the italics on barbaric.

That was not meant to question the morality of the practice of murdering homosexuals. It’s more meant to highlight the irony of many of these types taking THAT as barbaric, meanwhile not batting an eyelash to all manner of threatening speech aimed at a whole laundry list of their fellow citizens. Though social media greed served as the can of gas needed to rekindle this fire, the sentiment was always there.

I have heard such from people where I live. Justin Trudeau has many enemies, let me tell you that.
And I even have examples in the ecosystem that is this blog. In the comment section of a post exploring an organization called the european brotherhood. I learned of them through a sticker left on a light pole.

Some examples:

Why would you donate to a local Mosque other than you’re a terrorist? Do you choose to live under Sharia Law by Muslim rapists and terrorists? Are you a misogynist that hates his own race brainwashed by “White Guilt? Are you just a loser that’s seeking attention you’re unable to find elsewhere? Are you just some random clown SJW that believes in the false God of equality?

Fine, not exactly barbaric. More, descriptive of symptoms of the disease in which we find ourselves fighting. Also, the context is he said he would buy a T-shirt from the European Brotherhood, and I said I would donate to a local mosque. I figured it to be an amusingly triggering retort.

Whoda thought . . .  I was right!

Mate, you hit the nail on the head. These SJW’s will understand one day they’ve been played like a fiddle, by the Zionist Elite to self destruct. The true European is proud of their unique heritage, language and culture. There is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve your own race). Every race has a right to preserve their culture and to self determination (except the European man). I’m not responsible for what happened centuries ago. These Cultural Marxists should all be tied to a tree and bitch slapped back to reality like the brain dead indoctrinated useful idiots they are..


mbman “You mean innocent white Europeans? Let’s be honest here.” end quote. Are you suggesting that the 1400 British girls were not innocent and deserved to be sexually assaulted for 16 years? Are you suggesting that the European that walks home after working a long day is not innocent and deserves to get mugged and assaulted?

It is you that needs to be honest because you have absolutely no morals nor empathy for the innocent (unless of course they are non Whites). It is you that is the profound racist, racist to indigenous Europeans.

I do not know why I bother with you because you have the intelligence and empathy of a bar of soap, and for fuk sake, the soap has been debunked (you know what I mean).

You truly disgust me because you are morally corrupt, with nothing in your heart but hate, and contempt for all Europeans (even the innocent) as you have just alluded to, in your last hateful comment.

Tell me: how long were you brainwashed in the indoctrination camps, also known as the education system?

I have no patience for you anymore, the only thing you deserve is the rope, and that day will come soon for everyone like you, because you condone rape of innocent little British girls, and the murder of innocent Europeans! Shame on you!

You are a filthy disgusting pathetic mere shell of a human being, and you dare say you are Canadian. I have been to Canada 4 times, and all my family, and Canadians I know never behave like the animal you are.

Now you can do the usual Marxist nonsense, and call me a racist and Nazi for wanting to live like a civilized human being. By the way, are you still attending all those Antifa protests you love so much? I bet that “Squatting Slav” would love to interview you for youtube to highlight your stupidity.

https://mbman.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-on-earth-is-the-european-brotherhood/

Ordinary, supposedly civilized people can be just as barbaric as the inhuman other in which they choose to affix a target. And as for faux-intellectuals cherrypicking surveys . . . if we’re quick to make snap judgements over entire cohorts based on such responses:

1.) Should we be worried about extreme right-wing fringe Christian groups as well? Extreme right-wing groups in general?

2.) Such intellectual discourse does far more to spur on individuals like the 2 above than you realize. If commenter #2 wanted, he could easily have cited Sam Harris.

If anything on this blog were so easily fitting to fascist ideology, you can bet that I would give my head a shake and consider where I had made such a wrong turn.

Anyway, now that we are WAY in the weeds, back to facts about atheists.

9.) About half of Americans (51%) say they would be less likely to support an atheist candidate for president, more than say the same about a candidate with any other trait mentioned in a Pew Research Center survey – including being Muslim. This figure, while still high, has declined in recent years – in early 2007, 63% of U.S. adults said they would be less likely to support an atheist presidential candidate. There are currently no self-described atheists serving in Congress, although there is one House member, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who describes herself as religiously unaffiliated.

Again, we’re back to the lack of trust thing for this figure. Though it is interesting that Muslims are regarded more warmly than atheists in this category. Must be based in the moral compass of the individual . . .  Muslims obviously have one, how can an atheist have one?

Also, I also wonder if new generations entering adulthood are changing this figure as well.

10.) About half of Americans (53%) say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral, while 45% say belief in God is necessary to have good values, according to a 2014 survey. In other wealthy countries, smaller shares tend to say that a belief in God is essential for good morals, including just 15% in France. But in many other parts of the world, nearly everyone says that a person must believe in God to be moral, including 99% in Indonesia and Ghana and 98% in Pakistan.

Also self-explanatory, really. Where there is a high percentage of adherence to religious ideology, people that fall outside of that paradigm are considered untrustworthy.

Though I just recently found this piece, I realize that it is potentially old news. Mostly based on data from 2016, and posted (or at least dated) June 1, 2016. Even so, however, much of the material (certainly what resides closer to the end) should have stood the test of time.

The Arrogance Of Man Verses The Apathetic God

It is time for a treat.

Time for me to once again dig into a topic that at one time, was my whole world. A topic with followers of which initially left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. A topic that I once repeatedly stated to have given my final thoughts on. Yet none the less, a topic that I keep coming back to time and again. Like ideological crack to a frustrated and bored thinker stuck on a treadmill of stupid.

Atheism!

Ah, yes. It’s you again, old friend turned irrational enemy. Time for round 4 . . . 5 . . . oh hell, who’s counting. Just another notch on the bedpost.

My previous interactions with the subject have attempted to showcase it’s status as an ideology, in some circumstances. I’ve taken on many popular atheist mantras such as Babies are Born Atheist!” or Religion is To Atheism as Abstinence is to a sex position. I’ve accused many in the community of behaving like a religion, not unlike their theistic opposition. Some of my older work is not up to my modern day standards, but hey . . . It’s what happens when people grow. Even if my older arguments may not be what they could be, I’m betting they still show more growth than 95% of the outspoken Atheists I’ve ever cited for ANY reason.

And now that I have effectively angered my target cohort into skipping on down to the comments section and typing something incredibly rational, I will get to the point.

Maybe?

Atheists, young and old. Early bloomers and late-stage members (I use the term loosely, lacking a sufficient alternative). While it would seem that I have nothing but contempt for all things atheist, I am on your side. If one peeled back everything short of our collective values, we would likely be in alignment in most areas (well, assuming you are at least somewhat on the left). I’m certainly no defender of the wrongs of religion. And the continued power of religion in the status quo IS bothersome to me.

However, I would draw the line at saying that all evils of humanity stem from religion (a common tenant of mainstream Atheism). I also don’t agree that the single path to the reversal of the theistic domination of society is though Atheism only. In fact, I consider such a stance to be nothing short of intolerant, and caustic to the long term shared l goals of the left in general.

If it is indeed NOT just a brand used to upsell convention’s and t-shirts, why then should someone disbelieving whilst NOT being the openly atheistic matter?

I’m not out to destroy Atheism. Apistevism is another matter . . . But Atheism has a place. Even if many of it’s most vocal defenders tend to be annoying and extremely condescendingly misguided.

Now on that note . . . methods. Idiotic talking points and platitudes aside, there is one trap that we ought to be careful not to step into. That trap being, basing our conclusions more or less off of the endpoint of theistic reasoning. In a nutshell, you would be better served with the justification of your Atheism beyond a single familiar theism.

Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

Sam Harris

Ah, Sam Harris.

One of the crusaders behind what became the modern-day nu-atheist movement, and former academic idol (of sorts). That was before the likes of Sam Seeder and Micheal Brooks illuminated the true moronic trust fund baby behind the prestigious reputation, anyway. And that was BEFORE the man embraced debunked pseudoscience based racists and dangerously misogynistic, overtly unbalanced and completely unprosecuted psychologists.

And speaking of annoying things that happen when dealing with ANYTHING Sam Harris related . . . That is not the full quote. Because heaven forbid I get accused of taking it out of context. This, here be the rest of it.

The only sense to make of tragedies like this is that terrible things can happen to perfectly innocent people. This understanding inspires compassion.
Religious faith, on the other hand, erodes compassion. Thoughts like, ‘this might be all part of God’s plan,’ or ‘there are no accidents in life,’ or ‘everyone on some level gets what he or she deserves’ – these ideas are not only stupid, they are extraordinarily callous. They are nothing more than a childish refusal to connect with the suffering of other human beings. It is time to grow up and let our hearts break at moments like this.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/358055-either-god-can-do-nothing-to-stop-catastrophes-like-this

Why he didn’t just stick to THAT, I don’t know. But either way, you should get the jist.

This is by no means a new method of argument. Like most people who come to non-belief through any means, I started with the obvious. God. You build on your cultural environment, and thus my initial focus was on the most powerful deity variant in my context. One is not wrong to point out the lack of evidence for God, as per the western interpretation. People of a free mind in the Middle East (or really, anyone growing up in an environment of highlighted Islam) would likely do the same with Allah. Granted, it could be argued that the biggest difference there is linguistic (2 different languages, same concept). Whilst this is amusing to point out to the “Praise Jesus! Do as I say, not as I do!” bigot crowd (“Yeah, you BOTH pray to Allah!”), one can find examples in any culturally religious context.

Though I started with these inclinations as well, I found myself correcting for them years ago. Long before I even begun to get bored of mainstream atheist discourse (let alone my Reichenback Fall from it). Knowing the vastness of the totality of human theism, God seemed a myopic description. Which is why I began substituting the word deity instead.

Though I made this personal correction years ago, I haven’t given it much (well, any) thought since. That is, until an atheist quotes Twitter account fired off the shortened Sam Harris quote above.

First off, I admit to being a bit surprised. I’ve come to consider such methodologies of argument as being, well, juvenile. Something I wouldn’t really question from an up and comer, one who is new to the ambiguity of unbelief. However, given the source, I was a bit taken aback. Though it occurs to me that this is likely a more common occurrence than I realize.

And so, let’s set this straight.

To some, this may seem a silly critique. Targeting an argument on account of a single word (God). A word which is also present in most definitions of Atheism (. . .a god or gods). I’ve pointed out problems I have with the current status quo definition of Atheism previously, so what do you know. . .

I’ve found another one!

Indeed, the word God CAN indeed be used ambiguously. Other contexts can have the terms Gods and Goddesses used without confusion with certain monotheisms. However, given the weight of Christianity in western cultural white noise (AND the lack of differentiation built into most modern definitions of Atheism), I find little recourse but to call for dropping the God.

Oh, the irony.

Another thing . . . lack of Goddesses within the definition of Atheism. Do I detect a wee bit of sexism?

Oh boy . . . let them comments FLY!

But, back down to earth. Whilst the previous was a tad tongue in cheek (since this cohort has gained a recent track record of being, well, snowflake-esk), there was a motive. It tracks back to western monotheism itself. In that there is not one goddess to be found in the whole of it.

Its bloody Blasphemy!

At some point in history, no doubt about it.

Is this about sexism? About a primitive societies lack of (among other things) social awareness? Or about a modern society seemingly unknowingly adopting some of these old biases in the pursuit of rationality?

Not exactly. But, sort of.

To put it bluntly, do not use religion (most commonly, Christianity or Islam) as the start line.

We know that both ideologies contain a motherboard of bad ideas (to quote Mr. Harris). Such a realization is childs play. First grade atheism. As such, we shoud not be giving credence to such beliefs by using them (albeit unknowingly) as a sort of standard, or buttress.

Monotheism is the standard where most of us live. It is also the standard where most of academia lives, and where the large percentage of the nu-atheist movement originated (including the so-called 4 horsemen). As such, it’s not really surprising that this concept more or less evolved with the paradigm. Not unlike viewing the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, the overall cultural context is important.

So, my proposal is thus . . . think outside the box. Think outside the realm of western culture. Plant the starting line deep in the realm of ambiguity, where it belongs. Not right next to the periphery of monotheistic faith, where its proximity seems to offer its own form of credence.

“Why Are Big Name Atheists So Bad At Taking Criticism?” – (Patheos)

In my journeys today, I found yet another Atheism related (oriented?) article that caught my eye. Written by Adam Lee and published on Daylight Atheism, it is essentially a critique of the way that big name atheisms handle . . . critiques. I often enjoy Adam’s pieces, because, like me, he is not afraid of holding atheists to account when the action is warranted. He and Neil Carter (Godless In Dixie) are my 2 favorite Atheist Patheos contributers.

This piece begins it’s exploration with the elephant in the room 0f these recent times . . . Sam Harris’s spat with Ezra Klein. The spat that was supposed to have been settled over a week ago already (if memory serves).

But not in the eyes of Sam Harris, it would seem.

I wrote last week about Sam Harris’ feud with Vox and Ezra Klein, and I want to follow up on that. As a reminder, Harris gave a friendly, softball interview to the racist eugenicist Charles Murray, casting him as a persecuted victim of political correctness. When he was criticized for it in an article on Vox, Harris blew up, claiming that the criticism was a “hit job” and a bad-faith attempt to smear his reputation.

After several rounds of argument and reply, Harris agreed to have Ezra Klein on his podcast, and the two of them had a long, occasionally tense, but civil conversation. In that conversation, Harris acknowledged, “My fuse is pretty short,” and conceded that he’s been “very quick to attribute malice and bad faith… when it wasn’t warranted”.

I thought that that would be the end of it. But it seems Harris just can’t let it go, because in his latest podcast, he went back to angrily denouncing Klein:

I was laboring under the delusion that I should be able to reach the far left… At no point in my day or in any one of my podcasts do I wonder what can I say to convince a neo-Nazi that he’s wrong… I don’t consider neo-Nazis to be part of my audience. It’s now clear to me that I need to view the far left that way as well.

Sounds like someone has been in the presence of right-leaning individuals for so long that the whole scale is beginning to blur. Not to mention the implications of such a high profile rationalist so casually yanking the Overton window to the right.

Way to go.

If Harris seriously thinks Ezra Klein and Vox.com represent the far left fringe of American politics, I can suggest a list of people he should get acquainted with. I have a feeling he’d be unpleasantly surprised. But on a more serious note: Hasn’t Sam Harris basically just said that he’s never going to interview a liberal again? If his view of the far left is so broad, who’s not part of it?

The rest of the article explores first how even many of Harris’s disciples (FINE . . . fans. I embraced my inner Micheal Brooks) are raising an eyebrow to this seemingly intolerant and pig-headed behavier.
A man of reason behaving like like an overzealous theist? I still like him and think he’s smart, but I think he may be on the wrong side of this (to paraphrase a seemingly common viewpoint within the Harris fandom).
The rest of the article focuses on other big name atheists that have demonstrated similar behavior after being questioned over things ranging from seemingly sexist remarks (Richard Dawkins) to sharing the stage with a potential sexual predator (Matt Delehunty, when questioned about the Lawrence Krauss situation previous to an event where they were to share the same stage).
Why are big-name Atheists so prone to stubbornly digging in their heels rather than giving legitimate queries the consideration they deserve?

The first thing that I can tell you is that it is not just the big names that have this attitude. For years now, I have had off and on spats with atheists over perceived overreliance on the word (namely, its definition) in shaping their worldview. My Atheist Criticisms category records this journey right from my angry exit from the Atheist community in early 2014, to now.  A decision that I am now glad I made because had I stayed in that trajectory, I would likely not have pursued many of the fascinating topics that I have found since (such as the progression of AI).

That has been one of my most prominent criticisms of the atheist community, actually. To much time spent trying to grow that community whilst pissing away the growing cohort that is non-religious (but not atheist, as self-described) individuals.
The only prominent atheist that I have really seen deviate from this so far is Dusty Smith. While he is not without criticism (even on this blog at different times), I see few others taking non-Atheism related threats with much seriousness.

There is a reason why I have recently taken to calling Atheists some of the most annoying people on the face of the earth. Few cohorts display as much condescension as you see in that one. If they don’t have the theists beat then I suspect that it’s a close call.

Why has been a question that I have pondered for a while. I have a few suspicions.

The article, in its highlight of rampant doxastic closure at the top of the pyramid, could yield one clue. That is, appeal to authority. However, while I don’t doubt that is a piece of the puzzle, I suspect there is far more to it than that.
I suspect a combination of past religious dogmatic experiences in combination with the confidence that comes from approaching problems from a reasoned perspective, along with the confidence that comes from being within an ideological echo chamber.

Though one may abandon the ideology of religion, sometimes the behaviors or mental ticks don’t necessarily go out with it. Which can lead one to do things like citing as fact, ridiculous assertions like “All babies are born Atheist” or otherwise doubling down on so-called Shoe Atheism (the notion that everything, even inanimate objects, is atheist).
Add in a false understanding of what it means to approach a given situation from a standpoint of Logic, and we find ourselves with another possible piece.
And finally, take the habit (really, business model) of social media platforms encouraging birds of a flock to fly together, and you often end up with giant cohorts of almost hopelessly doxastically closed ideolouges of every variety.

So closed is the loop that many of these people likely think that they are open-minded. I was there once. I was just lucky enough to have someone call me out on my bullshit. Unfortunately, they themselves later went WAY off of the doxastic deep-end (how I don’t miss facebook), but such is life. If these people are good for anything, it’s observation and study.

Pig headed atheists are yet another unfortunate by-product of the age we live in. I suspect that cultural changes far beyond the invisible borders of that community are the only long-term answer to addressing this problem. Which is unfortunate, because the commons needs a united secular community as of decades ago.

Pope Francis Lied To A Child About Whether His Dead Atheist Father Was In Heaven – (Patheos)

Today we’re looking at an article that made me raise an eyebrow because of its implications. It was written and published by Hemant Mehta on his Friendly Atheist platform on Patheos, April 18th, 2018.

Note that the article is using a quote in itself (a quote within my quote). To help avert confusion, I underlined all quoted material in the article.

By all accounts, there was a touching moment outside of Rome this week when Pope Francis consoled a little boy who recently lost his father.

The boy, Emanuele, stepped up to the microphone during a Q&A session but had trouble getting his question out. The Pope told him to come whisper it in his ear, which the boy did, and the situation was later shared with the audience (with the child’s permission):

He revealed that Emanuele was crying for his father, who had recently died. The boy told the pontiff that his dad was an atheist, but a good man who had all four of his children baptized.

“Is Dad in heaven?’” the boy asked the pope.

Your heart has to go out to that poor child, and the pope said what you’d expect the Catholic leader to say: He told the audience that anyone who gave birth to a child like that, one who has the “courage to cry in front of all of us,” must have been a good man. The Pope added that he must have had a good heart, too, since he baptized his children.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2018/04/18/pope-francis-lied-to-a-child-about-whether-his-dead-atheist-father-was-in-heaven/#fwDuWtbqv5OeoMOQ.99

I don’t much object to the answer anything so far. If anything, the boy’s father has been given more respect by the pope than I have seen given to many friends and relatives at funeral services held in their honor. Normally, Jesus is always front and center, with the life and accomplishments of the deceased almost an afterthought.  Likely because goddonit anyway, right?

But what about Heaven? That answer generated a lot of positive headlines but deserves closer inspection:

“What do you think? A father’s heart. God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and gave them that bravura, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself?”

“Does God abandon his children?” the pope asked. “Does God abandon his children when they are good?”

The children shouted, “No.”

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope told the boy. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.

That’s a beautiful response… and a complete dodge of Catholic teachings.

Yeah . . . and, so what?

I was under the impression that it was a GOOD thing that people didn’t take this dogma so seriously. Even if it is because of the audience (children), what is there to criticize?

Pick your battles.

Catholics believe you must accept Christ’s divinity in order to get to Heaven. The Catechism also says the window of Heaven is also open to those “who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart.”

What about atheists who are aware of Catholic teachings but still reject them? What about people like the boy’s father, who may live in a culturally Catholic society but who has no use for irrational dogma?

They’re. Screwed.

Nein.

They’re. Dead.

Am I really defending the pope against an atheist being ridiculous?!

It doesn’t matter if you went through the ritual of baptizing your kids (and we have no idea why Emanuele’s father did that). It doesn’t matter if you were a good person. If you actively rejected the Church’s teachings, Catholics say you’re not in Heaven.

Barring a deathbed conversion — the sort of thing that only ever exists in the minds of religious apologists — the boy’s father, according to the Catholic faith, is now in Hell. That’s why the kid was freaking out in the first place; ever since his father died, he’s been under the assumption daddy’s getting tortured. That’s what Catholicism did to him.

What Pope Francis did, then, was protect a child from the actual teachings of the Catholic faith.

Yes. He did.

What was he supposed to do? Say “He’s burning in HELL for all eternity!”, laugh maniacally, and walk off into the sunset?

So call it beautiful. Call it heartwarming. But don’t forget to also call it dishonest.

The boy’s father isn’t in Heaven. But here’s the good news: He’s not in Hell, either. However, if the kid grows up to be a kind, decent person — the sort of man his father apparently was — that’s a way of letting his legacy live on. In that way, his father is never truly gone.

The Pope could’ve said something like that without being a hypocrite and without really answering the question. Instead, he offered a platitude that may have sounded nice on paper but isn’t even accurate by his own religious rules.

I call it a nice middle ground between “He’s pushing up daisies and nothing more!” and “He’s burning for all eternity!”. If anything, I see an issue with YOUR attitude. If you grow up to be a decent person, he will live on through you.

In life, there are beginnings and there are endings. People live, and people die. Sometimes it may seem like their time came earlier than it should have. But it is what it is.
Indeed, THAT criticism may not be fair. Grief is a personal process, and however the person best handles the situation is their prerogative.

Either way, an Atheist telling the Pope that he is lying because he skirts his supposedly false book of rules, is asinine. For one, this could be seen as lending the teachings credibility. And for another . . . WHO CARES?!

Vatican City has orchestrated and gotten away with more crimes than has justified the invasion of other sovereign nations before. You have ALL OF THAT to pick from.

Stop making me defend the Pope for not going full-on ideologically driven psychopath on a grieving child.

 

 

 

31 Questions For Atheist’s

I once did one of this questionnaire’ es some time ago (a daunting task, being I was typing on a smartphone at the time), but think I’ll tackle this once more.  I’ve mostly left this topic in the dust, but it’s still enjoyable to pick it up occasionally. I may have grown away from Atheist’s, but the ambiguity of the subject matter is none the less pleasing to delve into. A nice distraction from the times we live in.

And so, here we go. 31 Questions For Atheists as posed by Patheos contributor Godless Mom.

1.) How would you define Atheism?

I would say it to be the rejection of the notion that any deity or deities exist.

This is not the colloquial definition of the word. However, I’ve come to realize that the colloquial definition is asinine and not conducive to its task in the great debate between the atheists the theists.

In a nutshell, I do not lack belief in anything. I don’t take the existence of any deities seriously, so I reject the notion. I do not lack belief in them. The only time when that definition would be fitting would be:

a.) Before one learns about these deities from various teachers in their environment

b.) If they have never (or can never) be exposed to this knowledge. For example, animals, isolated tribes or inanimate objects.

Notice how this lacks belief definition conveniently debunks the popular “We are all born atheist” talking point. It also conveniently debunks the notion of inanimate objects being atheist as well (something known as Shoe Atheism on Reddit).

That is how I define Atheism.

2.) Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?

To be honest, I am not sure how to answer that question. It seems like gibberish.

It likely would make some sense if the one asking it has tied ethics and morality to a belief in their chosen deity (which I am guessing is the case). But none the less, not applicable.

My day to day choices are irrelevant to the deity question. Really, this could apply to most people. As anecdotal as it is, I can think of many believers that are far more unethical than I.

Though beliefs and labels often equate to morality in the eyes of many, human nature (be it good or bad) will almost always trump such restrictions. We have seen it over and over again, both inside and outside the church. The sooner we quit equating labels to morality, the better we all will be.

3,) Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?

Yes.

I used to fall into this trap. I spent a lot of time trying to prove to theists how wrong they were. But I eventually realized that in the grand scheme of things, proving and disproving does not matter. At least not when there is plenty in actual real life to worry about (like the many negatives associated with religion, among many others).

Generally speaking, I let people be as they wish to be, only breaking that rule if their beliefs are directly harmful to themselves or others. It goes against everything that I used to think (when Atheism was a big part of my identity). But I have other focuses now.

Besides, there is no lack of newly minted atheists to fill in my void in the great debate. Nothing is lacking. Short of the definition that brought them there.

4.) How sure are you that your Atheism properly represents reality?

I am not. Considering what we have to go on, only a fool would be bold enough to present solid evidence of any conclusion. And yes, that goes both ways.

The reality for me is the real world. Everything that is happening within it, from the good to the ugly. All that may or may not be in the supernatural realm only has as much consequence on this reality as humans prescribe onto it. Issues of which are also dealt with in the material reality we all share.

What lies beyond is unimportant.

5.) How sure are you that your Atheism is correct?

I am not. This is something that is shared by most atheists.

6.) How would you define what Truth is?

I hate that word.

These days, it seems that it has become so subjective that anyone on any side of any debate can use it in their context. Which is why the word tends to serve more as a red flag for me than anything else. At least in the online realm.

In most cases, I tend to lean more towards facts and evidence. Though someone’s truth or true statements may be reflected by fact and evidence, the 2 are misaligned often enough for me to question it.

7.) Why do you believe your Atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

In all honesty, I don’t call myself an Atheist. I don’t call myself anything really (aside from ambiguous).

To the question that is Do you believe in a deity or deities?, I answer simply “I don’t know”. Because I don’t. I may find answers at some point (unlikely), but even if not, it’s unimportant.

Many ideological Atheists will place me in their category by default. Whatever suits your fancy. I just wish you would be a little more accepting of diverse beliefs within the secular community because despite differing on the details, we all otherwise share a common thread. It is a lot easier to unite under the banner of secularism than to divide attempting to prove that we are all Atheists in denial.

You may call it rationalism. But I still call it growing a brand.

8.) Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?

I hadn’t even heard of the 2 before now. However, barring a misunderstanding of either (highly likely, given how simple the internet tends to boil down the most complex of topics), I am leaning towards neither. One can likely find tones of either option in my past and future responses. However, I don’t bend or align myself just to fit into a box. If I am left somewhere outside of one, then so be it.

9.) Do you affirm or deny that Atheism is a worldview?

Both. I can use myself as an example of both.

The conclusion itself is standalone, as it can be reached even before learning the term ones native language ascribes to the phenomenon. For example, I was what one would describe as Atheist for a good 6 months in high school before I learned that there was a term for it. I accepted a likely void and left it at that (I had many other matters I was coming to terms with at the time).

Later, as I moved on and grew more acquainted with the Atheist community (particularly in various Facebook groups), I gradually became more aligned with the Atheist worldview. Actually, I would call it more an ideology than a worldview.

Most atheists will deny that atheism is/can be an ideology, pointing to the fact that it is a mere conclusion. While that is the case, it is what is tacked on after this turns the whole thing into a prescribed ideology. All one has to consider alone is the absolute intolerance of all but atheist conclusion as demonstrated by organizations as high profile as American Atheists. It’s hard to comprehend how something as ambiguous as lack of a belief in a deity or deities could be taken so far WITHOUT ideological influence.

Is it a coincidence that many of the people that hold these hard-line Firebrand stances tended to morph out of strong previously theist positions?

I don’t think so.

10.) Not all Atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

I usually use the word Theism in place of individual religions and sects, being that it is more generalized to the topic itself (as opposed to ones small slice of geographical territory). Thus I will precede the same way here.

First, the seemingly obvious. I can be as antagonistic to any theist ideology as they can be antagonistic to Atheism. Ideologies are fair game.

I myself, go a little into each category. I don’t generally antagonize theists or their beliefs just for the sake of it. If people keep their beliefs to themselves, I share the same respect. Which is why I can even have casual coffee conversations with even full-blown Trump supporters. I respect their opinions, they respect my opinions, and then we move onto other matters. Since we overlap in the vast majority of other places anyway.

However, when I see examples of the bad side of religion (everything from sexual abuse scandals to misappropriation of funds by hucksters posing as pulpit leaders), all gloves are off. I am not afraid to say such bold statements as “Invade the Vatican!”.

The United States has invaded at least 2 countries in the last 2 decades for far lesser crimes than what has been leveled against the Vatican in the present to distant past.

Just saying.

11.) If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

Again, I will make this more generally applicable by replacing Christian ideology with theism. By way of using the word deity instead of God.

The existence of a deity was never much more than background noise in my life before Atheism. What brought it on my radar was a rough freshman year in high school. During the situation, I had become angry at said deity of my mind for allowing me to endure such suffering. But after some months went by and most of the rough stuff had passed, I began to accept that it was less malice or ineptitude than it was void. It was far more likely that there was nothing there than it was that I was its punching bag. So begun my secular journey.

Lose theist. Angry theist. Unacknowledged Atheist. Atheist. Something. I don’t know.

That about sums up my whole life’s journey in 11 words.

12.) Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

I used to answer “Yes!” to this question. And I still do.

However, though religion DOES have many negative effects on the world, there will always be something else, where people are concerned. Whether it be politics, race or some other significant or insignificant detail, humans will ALWAYS find something to divide over.

13.) Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

There are many anecdotes that I could point to in showing why I say “Yes” to this. But I’ve said pretty much everything important in the previous response.

14.) Do you believe that faith in God or Gods is a mental disorder?

No. Though this talking point has become more popular in previous years, I think it is unfounded.

People with mental disorders can be religious, and may even be drawn to such ideologies. But it is not a necessity. Even the most brilliant can be good at compartmentalizing in some areas. Such is the human mind.

15.) Must God be known through the scientific method?

In order for the concept to overcome it’s supernatural status and instead just become a natural part of reality?

Yes. And No.

Scientific research is humanities looking glass through which we see, measure and evaluate our world. As such, it’s okay to expect new additions to this knowledge base to pass these tests of credibility.

But at the same time, there is a lot to be said for criticisms of the scientific method. Not as much the legitimacy of the scientific method itself, but more the question of it is truly the only way. Or just one of several possibilities overlooked and cast aside by devotees of the status quo. Another common behavior of the human.

It’s hard to not come across as a science denialist when considering this subject with my amount of understanding of it (next to none). But it seems an important area of inquiry.

16.) If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

I don’t. Until I know, I don’t know.

17.) Do we have any purpose as human beings?

Reproduction. Just like everything else that can reproduce.

Since we have more than taken care of that purpose, I guess it is up to us to find other ways to fulfill ourselves.

18.) If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

I would say that it is in our genes, much like the rest of the animal kingdom and the living world.

19.) Where does morality come from?

I would say out of necessity. When groups of people are to live together, some behaviors will become noticeably problematic to this dynamic.

As societies grow and become more complex, the various tenants of morality also change, expanding with the times. But even before leaders were chosen to govern large cohorts, it would become apparent that some behaviors were unbecoming, and I suspect that such actors were dealt with swiftly.

With a bow and arrow.

 

20.) Are there moral absolutes?

No.

21.) If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

N/A

22.) Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?

I don’t believe in the spiritual concept, but I can see it utilized as a noun for things on the extreme end of the bad spectrum.

I am careful in how I use the word. As such, the only real example that comes to mind is Vladimir Putin. Staring into those eyes is like staring into the abyss.

God help me if a plane I am on ever has to divert to Russia. As David Pakman once half-jokingly quipped (during a segment about yet another suspected Russian poisoning), I might slip on a banana peel and accidentally fall out a 20 story window.

23.) If you believe that the God of the old testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

Any?

In my opinion, the God of BOTH testaments is terrible. Or would be if it were something that I took seriously. Which I don’t.

It’s amusing how most of the God’s and deities that humans look up to often showcase the very same character quirks and flaws as regular old human beings. Very telling.

24.) What would it take for you to believe in God?

A miracle?

In short, something indisputable. A situation where the experience is universal, and not just applicable to a single person or a small group.
It is indisputable that hurricanes, mountains, and oceans exist. That is all I expect. For the strongest force in at least our observable universe to prove it.

To flip the script on the obviously Christian creator of these questions, what if the God or deity that makes itself known is not the one you had prepared for?

What if he has more Jewish or Islamic leanings? What if he is a she? What if he was a he, but is now a she? I would pay to see that revelation in some churches. Boy howdy . . .

Good thing that the chance of ever even having that chance is one in whothefuckknows.

25.) What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

See the previous reply.

26.) Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?

It must be a situation this is as apparent and universally shared as viewing a mountain from anywhere within its sight line.

It would be asinine to question the existence of Mount Everest. This is what I expect of God.

27.) Do you think that a society run by Christians or Atheists would be safer? Why?

For all intents and purposes, the United States is run by Christians (they make a majority of those in power). Many Scandinavian countries have high nonbeliever populations so I would imagine that means many also sit in their political offices.

What does this tell us? That there are about a thousand factors that are not taken into account.

In the age of high population and extremely complex tech-driven civilization, keeping it all together is a job far beyond the scope of either proposed option. Either would be hard-pressed in terms of the operations of even my little home city of just under 60,000, let alone New York City, or the United States.

I do believe that part of the role of religion in antiquity was a form of population control. There is no tyrant more fearsome than the one that you can’t even see, or the one that will be torturing you for eternity.

There was a time when such doctrines were adequate. But not anymore.

And besides, it is almost always problematic when a single ideology inherits too much power. It’s almost always led to corruption and likely discrimination.

Therefore, it’s ideal to keep things as mixed as possible. This is not always an easy feat due to the way that birds of a feather flock together (many cohorts tend to colonize around their ideological peers). None the less, one of the best ways to keep one group from garnering too much undue influence is to ensure that all group influence is diluted enough in the power structure so as to be of little consequence.

28.) Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coercion)

No.

Even taking the almighty deity or deities out of the equation, you are only as free as the sum of all your available options. Scale that as far up as you want.

29.) If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?

I don’t really believe in free will (absolute free will, anyhow). But I would defend ones ability to make choices for themselves.

I wasn’t pushed into answering these questions. It was of my own volition that I choose to respond to them.

30.) If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not restricted by space or time? If not, why not? How does one lead to the other?

No.

My first thought is that we as a species are likely never going to be around for that long, given our track record. If delayed effects of past activities don’t doom us, then I suspect we ourselves may end up pressing the big red button. Because there are a whole lot more idiots out there than there is wise folk. And even fewer wise folk in positions of actual influence.

If any kind of evolution were to occur, I suspect it would be more related to technical (artificial intelligence?) advances than simple evolution. And even so, one likely will never (can never?) break out of the time barrier.

I am no scientist and am basing this on very lose knowledge of the subject matter. But if time travel is not possible due to light (or something along those lines), I would imagine being outside of the phenomenon of time also falls into this trap.

If you ask many in the parapsychological field, some humans have allegedly already broken that bond. I give them as much credibility as I do the average acupuncturist or homeopath. But none the less seemed worth mentioning.

It is on topic.

31.) If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of god exists?

That is a giant leap.

In short, no. For the time being, I find no gap (or reasoning, really) where or why such a deity (or deities) would fit, or be necessary.

Apistevist – The Final Word

Apistevist.

This term first came to my attention some 4 years ago. Thought to be coined by one annoying youtuber back in 2010, it turned out to actually originate with another not so annoying youtuber sometime before that (a fellow by the name of Aron RA). I have my issues with him, but unlike the vast majority of other ideological atheist types in the online realm, he actually puts his platform to good use. Highlighting causes of importance, and helping to further scientific literacy VIA a series of premade video lessons made for teachers that have the desire to educate but not the knowledge.

In truth, this term may well have even predated these 2. Secular conversation (and interacting secular cohorts) predated social media. However, the term may not have gone much further out than the university campus (or otherwise, the limiters of interactivity which are no longer applicable).
Either way, Apistevist has been around for at least a good 7 years. Though interest in the term seems to come in waves (as judged by search engine traffic coming into past entries on the subject), it’s relatively constant.

I have explored the term no less than twice. Once out of curiosity, then a second time due to a need for clarification to my argument. A 3ed exploration came during my aviation fascination phase after I realized that air travel is the perfect vehicle in which to argue my case. And yet a 4th came after a fellow wrote a refutation to all of the above, oh which I decided to explore. Because, what the hell.
I have no qualms about challenging my conclusions. As long as it’s something actually original.

Like many other areas of debate, what I constitute as original may not be apparent. To clear that up for this (and any other topic I cover), all I generally look for is evidence that one grasps a topic outside of ideological dogma. In the case of apistevist (much like atheist, its cousin), I look for evidence that one has pondered the term beyond its definition.

Though I used to respond to all comments as a rule, not so much anymore. Call it wisdom or arrogance, I have adopted a new rule of worthiness.
A good way to get ignored is to argue against me based on the contents of my first post alone. I made mistakes there and made the corrections easily available.
The other obvious one is outlined above. Ideological dogmatism. Or to put it another way, if you think that it is a simple concept and are astounded that I just don’t GET it . . . I don’t have much time for you.

Either way, you get the point. Now on with it. Why this term, label, flair (to quote a Reddit user) should go away once and for all.

When I dispell this concept, it is less about mechanics and assumptions than it is about real-world implications. For example, it is less about whether or not there is tuna in the can or water will come out of the tap than it is about the quality of the aforementioned commodities. Is the tuna safe to eat or the water safe to drink.
Or to use the aviation example, whether the many, MANY links in the chain that lead to your flight are all as strong as they should be.  And not just your current flight crew either. I am talking everything from security personnel at present to mechanical personnel in the distant past. Hundreds have died in past incidents due to old botched repairs later disabling (or in 1 case, literally ripping apart) aircraft.

Japan Air 123

China Airlines 611 

Both incidents were the unfortunate end result of a typically non-serious form of damage known as a tailstrike. If the nose of the aircraft is tilted too much on landing or takeoff, the tail can hit the ground. The most serious case of this phenomenon is probably KLM 4805, though that aircraft had a much bigger problem facing it at the time.

When it comes to my deconstruction of the term Apistevist, some may question the methodology. The more philosophically minded in particular may question the approach. While I acknowledge the criticism, I have to give one of my own. That being, if even I have some trouble wrapping my head around exactly what you are saying, then it won’t be of much help in educating anyone else. Such concepts may work in academia or in academic circles, but this realm is far from it.
Thus, I look for ways to make these concepts applicable to anyone and everyone willing to step outside the box. Simplistic as it may seem, a screwdriver is hardly the right tool to use for hammering a nail.

And now, the final word. To put it bluntly, I consider the term apistevist to be ridiculous and frankly, debunked. If you feel this to be a cop-out, I urge to review my previous works on the subject (available in the Apistevist category on your right).

While I could have left it there, I find the continued usage (and growth) of this term interesting.

There is a philosophical component to this (or lack thereof, as the case seems to be). The same uncritical mindsets that turn ambiguously defined terms such as Atheism into rigid ideological dogmas also serve to keep this term relevant.
However, I suspect that there is more to it. In particular, I suspect it is yet another manifestation of the Nones (for lack of a better adjective coming to mind) being so eager to withdraw from all things theism that they end up throwing away some perfectly reasonable conclusions based merely on the word they are associated with.

One of the most obvious examples of this that I have come across involves atheists absolute disdain with association with the term religion. I have seen some atheists go as far as leaving out part of the definition of the word in order to avoid this association. In particular,  a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. Something that amused me, considering the sacred (yet altered) modern definition of Atheism (lack of belief in).  As contrasted to the former common usage (denial of the existence of). Definitions are important . . . unless they are inconvenient?

Now that I have opened that can of worms, on to a new one.

In the same way that I suspect that many non-believers are repulsed by typically theism centric religion, I also see this phenomenon at play when it comes to the concept of faith (or possibly blind faith).

Like all of the various flavors of Nones out there, I do not disagree with criticism of the concept of faith in the context of religions or deities. I have been there since I was a teenager, and thus we are on the same page.
What I disagree with is the notion that this conclusion can be expanded beyond the context of religiosity and deity. That people can live life without any interaction with faith whatsoever.

The common alternative to my argument is to say that I am talking less about faith than I am about trust. I do not have faith in the safety of tap water, Tuna, or the chain of events applicable to (and preceding) my flight on a given aircraft. I trust in the safety and competency of all involved.

To be perfectly honest, the first thing that comes to mind is “What is the difference?!”. What is being said is basically the same thing, just using different words.

“I have faith that this unopened drink will not poison me”

“There is a high amount of probability that this drink will not poison me”

Here is where many will say that I am being incoherent, or deliberately dense. In a nutshell, one conclusion is based on past evidence, and the other is not. However, even taking that into consideration, this is still relatively easy to dismiss.

Keeping with the food safety example, it is all about knowing the origins of this food and where this trail ends at any given time. I had previously applied this to individual packages, but the trust aspect can be lengthened right to the batch. If one can of tuna from a batch is good, then one can argue that this likely applies to the whole batch. In fact, I suspect food safety testing is based on this principle (being that its impossible to test literally EVERY ounce of food or drink entering a given market).

While the Apistevist can indeed use the above argument to back up their usage of the term, the fact remains that there will always be a cutoff somewhere. Every batch ends and is followed by a new one. Thus, you are back to square one.

But wait!

This is not entirely correct, because of the aforementioned quality assurance testing. Organizations and governments are always testing product quality, therefore it is not a leap of faith to trust any given package of anything.

To which I would respond . . . yes, it is indeed still a leap of faith. One can argue that testing and assurances make a product more trustworthy and less of a gamble, but that just means that your faith is now in the tests. That the procedures are up to snuff and are in no way compromised. Which is a pretty much impossible guarantee to make because even if malicious intent or incompetence are not an issue, risks change.
The human experiment (particularly in the scientifically driven modern age) is littered with cases of “Whoops! We dun fucked that up!”. From DDT to Asbestos to bisphenol A, what was harmless even in my youth is constantly changing.
Who would think that commonly used reusable plastic water bottles that I saw around high school in 2003 would now be viewed as hazardous waste? My peers (and millions of others!) had faith and/or trust in the safety of the bottles. Whoops!

What I am building up to may well be an impossible standard. If you look at everything in this way, then it becomes literally impossible to guarantee the safety of pretty much anything. Therein making participation not just in a consumer society, but really LIFE, impossible.

Thus making the culmination of following the apistevist philosophy . . . insanity?

If there is any rhyme or reason to this series, it is to illustrate how unnecessary the term (and otherwise illustrating ones total and complete lack of faith) is.

Before I brought it up here, few readers probably considered the safety and or quality assurances on food, tap water, aviation or any other aspect of their lives. But that is not a bad thing.
For one, having that on your plate is not good for one’s mental health. And for another, the fact that we can live life without thinking about these things is a testament to how far we have come.

I argue against apistevism due to its incoherence. But I also take issue with the secular community in general for placing far to much weight on labels. A healthier future can only result from being less tied to these barriers and more open to uniting for the good of the commons.

“Post-Atheism: There’s No God, Let’s Move On” – (Patheos)

Recently (in the past day or so in fact) I have come across 2 articles about our world Post-Atheism. I think a better description would be Post New Atheism.

Either way, back in the early 200o (post 9/11), the combination of both the horrible religiously driven events and the fairly recent ubiquity of the internet helped fuel a sort of irreligious revolution in the western world.  Spearheaded by the so-called 4 horsemen (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Danial Dennett and Christopher Hitchens), the previously esoteric cohort of higher education begun to explode in numbers. To the point now that the irreligious are thought to be one of the largest untapped cohorts in the United States alone.
I use the term irreligious as a catch-all for anyone in the secular spectrum, being that I don’t expect people to adopt labels that they may not feel are fitting. I also don’t use the term Nones, because that seems a silly term to be throwing around in an intellectual environment. Not that it has stopped people like Dawkins though.

But moving on, it has been close to 2 decades since the events of September 11th, and the birth of Nu-New-Atheism. And some are saying that it is time to move on. Time to move into a post-atheist world.

I have to agree. Having already more or less adopted such a mindset in terms of my personal self, it’s about time that the rest of the world and the cohort caught up.
New Atheism has increasingly become an unintended parody of the religiosity it is supposed to be trying to defeat. Which is severely retarding its ability to fulfill that original purpose in many ways. It’s time for a reboot.

That was my condensed take on the subject. I will now switch to the article.

We’re now in the age of post-atheism, and not a moment too soon.

The Utopia That Never Was

If the study of science and history teaches us anything, it’s that everything has a lifespan. Organisms, species, and even civilizations originate, develop, thrive, and then die out. The universe itself will someday expire through heat death. So welcome to the age of post-atheism.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularspectrum/2017/10/post-atheism-theres-no-god-lets-move/#5uh3s7zkWyB46xU1.99

I believe the word that the author is looking for is entropy.

Not really a criticism. More, a helpful hint?

In the aftermath of 9/11, atheism seemed like a great idea. The new millennium was supposed to represent a fresh start, where we would apply skepticism to all the old beliefs. Science and reason would replace religion and superstition, and the world would be a better place.

However, the problems of the world are a lot more complicated than they seemed in that moment of crisis. We can argue all day long about whether God exists, and we’ve been doing so for over a decade; not only did religious belief refuse to go away, but blaming all the world’s problems on religion turned out to be just as self-serving, simplistic, and erroneous a dogma as any religious belief.

I feel inclined to swap out Atheism in the opening sentence with Nu-New Atheism But at the same time, I can’t help but think that using the word Atheism to describe the ideology that it has devolved into recently is wrong. New Atheism could be applied here, but I know for a fact that this practice long predated New Atheism. As much as I love this speech from Madelyn Murray O’Hair, I can’t help but think she is engaging in some of the same rhetoric. The whole Atheism First mentality that still permeates American Atheists, and really, much of the cohort as a whole to this day. Pissing away the potential of an entirely new voting block due to its reluctance to embrace a label.

That is not rational.

I suppose that the pre-2000’s version of garden-variety Atheism is not all that different from what ended up taking off in the New Millennium. Both were destined to become unintended parodies eventually.

White Men Tell Us Things

Our celebrity atheist spokesmen have plenty to answer for. The Four Horsemen initially inspired us to think about religion critically, but gradually we realized we were getting sold more than books and tickets to high-profile debates; we were also buying into a right-wing mindset. The New Atheists were providing intellectual cover to the War on Terror and Muslim-bashing. They derided feminists, and applauded academic hoaxes intended to discredit critical theorists. They’ve touted the work of racist pseudoscientists and declared that philosophy is a waste of time. For people who supposedly champion critical thinking, they sure believe some wacko stuff themselves.

I still struggle with this, really.

It started with the infamous Bill Maher/Sam Harris V. Ben Afflick show some time ago. There was a lot of reactionary outrage on both sides, lots of black and white arguments made. They are racist, they are not racist.

I used to be on the side of Maher and Harris. But I have since withdrawn entirely from the debate. Meaning that I don’t take any side.

Being around philosophy types has helped make many things more clear to me than they ever were before. Conversations like the one above are often chalked full of WAY more moving parts and nuance than is recognized. And the supposed thinkers that have become famous and well respected also often  seem to miss (or ignore) the grey areas. I have yet to have ONE New Atheist that I formerly respected that does not fall into this trap.

Could this be why they so dislike philosophy?

Even their pro-science rhetoric turned out to be problematic. The two-dimensional positivism they peddle is like the Model T of philosophy of science, a construct that went extinct around the same time as did the passenger pigeon. Scientific inquiry is in hock to corporate and military interests: pop-science TV shows like NOVA and Cosmos are sponsored by Samsung, Chrysler, FOX, and the Koch Brothers. Are these institutions that value freethought?

Though I have nothing to add or say about the statement, I have to bring one thing up. The word Freethought.

These words annoy me. You often see people use labels like freethinker despite obviously only applying the logic it entails to one area . . . religion. Ideological Atheism that mirrors religiosity, conspiracy theory, identity politics . . . the only one that counts is religion!

I had to say it. Its why I, for the most part, don’t take anyone that describes themselves with a buzzword (freethinker, logical, rational, reasonable, nuanced etc) all that seriously. In a nutshell, you do not have to tell me or anyone else because we will know.

In a nutshell, you do not have to tell us. We will know.

Let’s Be Reasonable

The most dire problems we face today aren’t religious: anthropogenic global warming, income inequality, systemic racism, our vulnerability to terrorism, gun violence, corporate influence over our government, denial of reproductive rights for women, and various other intractable matters. The idea that religion will disappear if we insult enough strangers online, and then all our problems will go away, is magical thinking of the highest order.

But they’re your hours, so pass them as you will. If the God-is-God-ain’t matter still seems important to you, have at it. But that’s stale stuff.

More or less what I have been trying to say for a while now. As the planet burns, we are trying to sell the passengers black t-shirts.

To my way of thinking, it’s more important to look at our own beliefs and biases, and subject them to the same scrutiny we’ve spent years and years applying to those of religious people. We need to take an honest look at the way we conceptualize science and approach knowledge; we need to examine our society and the inequities that still exist; and we need to acknowledge that there are philosophical assumptions involved in how we define history and humanity that deserve skepticism.

There’s no God. Let’s move on.

Could not have said it better.

It’s nice to see that at least a small part of the digital universe has started to wake up and smell the coffee. Well, has become comfortable enough to share these feelings publicly. But we have a long way to go. As evidenced by many of the comments under the article.

And possibly in this comment section in the future.