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.

“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.

 

The Dawkins Scale

It has been awhile since I last broached this topic. But in these days of turbulence and super chaotic news cycles, a softball is a nice distraction.

So here goes. The Dawkins Scale.

Despite having heard this scale referred to in the past, I don’t recall ever seeing it nor looking it up (oddly enough). But I happened upon it late last night on Twitter, so I took a look.

Most vocal atheists tend to place themselves at a 6. Some militants go as far as 7, but most generally know that is as idiotic a conclusion (given the evidence available) as a 1 or a 2.
I used to be a 6, back in my days of being a loud and proud Atheist. But aside from that point in life, I can not really place myself anywhere. Which is interesting for a chart that is supposed to be a default rule of thumb for all of the above. Not that it is surprising.

Let’s start with me today. After I quit trying on new labels after leaving the Agnostic Atheist one behind a few years ago, I started to look at the topic differently. I used to (like many) feel it important to make my answer to the ultimate question known (mine being “No”). But I realized in time that for me anyway, the energy expended on the topic was WAY out of sync with its true importance in my life. The god question has no bearing on my life whatsoever, so it needs no attention.
I also realized that my cookie cutter answers to the question (the Agnostic Atheist stance) were redundant to my true sentiment. I don’t know suited me just fine.
No, not Maybe. Many Atheists like to strawman this position by using Maybe to try and force people to pick a side. But it doesn’t work on this cookie.
I didn’t give some ambiguous answer with an obvious lean such as Maybe or Probably Not. I said I don’t know.

Now, switching to my childhood and teenage years previous to Atheism.

Church was never a priority for my household. I can’t really use words like certainty to describe my position on a deity throughout this time because they don’t really fit. Certainty seems to entail a that I had considered the concept (or at very least, the topic was brought up at some point in my presence). But that isn’t the case. It was just something that sat in the background recesses of my mind and consciousness. A bit like the blue sky or the green leaves of summer. It was just there.

The 9th grade came along and changed that a bit. One could say that a deity went from a background concept to being fairly prominent, though not in the way that most would expect. I didn’t have a come to Jesus moment. Rather, trials in life (to borrow from the theists) made me hate God. Initially, for all He (I was young) was allowed to happen to me. But then later for all that He was allowing to happen to people around the world.

Fortunately for me (looking back), I had very little church influence in my life. Had I been part of a church, I may well have reasoned these trials away as just a part of God’s plan. But I was alone in my struggle. Which allowed my God hatred to transition into an acknowledgment of a void, as opposed to full-blown theism. A Christian to be precise (since I don’t live in Saudi Arabia).

Now, looking at the Dawkins scale, I am not sure that I can place myself in it either pre OR post Agnostic Atheist.

When I was young, I didn’t give it enough thought to really consider myself within ANY of the so-called theistic options, yet also was not what they call Pure Agnostic. When I decided to Hate God (presumably the Christian one I was familiar with), I suppose that could be seen as a one or a 2.
And then there is now. We come back to number 4, Pure Agnostic. This position on the chart being “both the existence and non-existence conclusions are equally plausible”. While it would be the closest entry point of which I could shoehorn myself into this graph, it still doesn’t fit.

I personally do not give either conclusion equal weight or probability of being correct. When I say that I do not know, I am not kidding. The topic is unimportant and impossible to analyze at this point (and possibly always will be), so I just accepted that and walked away in pretty much every way possible. Rather than focus on unknowable metaphysical problems, I try and focus on the physical.

I don’t fit the Dawkins scale. I don’t have a problem with that either, being that the whole thing is silly. It makes me question how exactly Dawkins came up with the dichotomy. If the child me is mostly outside of its confines, I have to think that there has to a cohort that he overlooked.
Indeed, I know that Dawkins and other Nu-atheists tend to not take criticisms from the Philosophy realm seriously. It shows in how rigid a doctrine that the once ambiguous Atheism has become in the hands of a generation following the 4 Horseman. Atheist or Theist . . . can’t get much more inflexible than that.
Either way, even aside from that well-deserved jab at modern Atheist culture (Atheism First! is a phrase that Trump helped me cook up), I still wonder how the I don’t Know people got overlooked. Unless it is the typical arrogant  “They don’t know what they are talking about, but WE will educate them!” atheist attitude. Being Richard Dawkins, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Well, I suppose that is all folks.

If you ever looked at this chart and thought “I’m not sure . . .”, no need to feel bad. Because it is dumb and extremely narrowly focused for the highly ambiguous cohort that it is supposed to be helping sort out.

S%#t I Wish (Some) Atheists Would Stop Doing (And Saying) – (Patheos)

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/st-i-wish-some-atheist-would-stop-doing-and-saying/?utm_source=[!]%20Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NL%20Best%20of%20Patheos%20&utm_content=5698

How delightful. A nice softball to start the year off with.

So you’re an atheist.

Great. I’m a Christian.

They do often across like that, don’t they. Wearing the atheism label out-front and with pride. Because “theists do it, so why shouldn’t I?”. Even though those theists will not be moved by this, and most other people (uninvolved on either side) will be annoyed at facing either extreme unexpectedly. 

Don’t get me wrong, one can embrace whatever labels they choose. Just don’t be shocked if you are treated in the same manner as a religious zealot. Because in a way, you kind of are.

Atheism is not a religion!

Yeah . . . fuck off. 

Here’s the thing: I don’t have an issue with you. Some of my best friends are atheists, and over the course of the last few years, I’ve been purposeful about building bridges with the atheist community– because you know what? There’s a lot we actually have in common when you move past the question of the existence of a divine being. 

Excellent. 

I also like to live life beyond such labels. A good lesson for zealots on both sides. 

Now, I get it. My tribe makes bridge building hard because we’ve got a pretty decent sample size of obnoxious people. Trust me, they bug the daylights out of me too. In fact, I make my living by writing about all the things they’re wrong about (which means I never have a slow day).

Ditto. 

Those on the atheist side are often even worse than yours since being on the side of reason and logic often results in a mind incapable of taking ANY criticism (legit or silly) without assuming condescending talking points (like any good ideologue). 

They point to theists as being devoid of logic, reason, rationality, nuance, and every other intellectual buzzword. But many of them could use a look in the mirror. 

As if that will ever happen. 

But here’s the deal: While I’ve focused near-exclusively on trying to clean house on my side of the fence, I have to be honest– your team has rabid fundamentalists, too. And those folks? Well, they make it hard even for a liberal Christian like myself to find common ground to work from.

So for any of my atheist friends out there who’d like to do what I do– change your own culture from the inside out, here’s a few things I wish you’d get your folks to stop saying (or doing). 

Believe me, I know. Trying to bring order and unity to my own house (the secular collective of stances) has proved more difficult (and fruitless!) then all of the digital atheist VS Theist debates I have ever seen, or been a part of. 

But yet, I have not given up entirely yet. Because its not just important to me, its important to ALL OF US. 

Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots. 

I’m not arrogant, but I have a hard time engaging in dialogue with an atheist who begins the conversation by stating or acting like we’re uneducated, unenlightened idiots simply because we believe in God, in some form or another. Do we have idiots in my camp? Sure thing– but it’s not a belief in God that makes them that way, just like it’s not a lack of belief in God that makes some of your folks ignorant or obnoxious.

Let me give an example: when you paint us all with this broad brush and assume negative qualities about us simply because we are theists of some sort, it feels the way I imagine you feel when you hear a theist explain that you have no morals because you’re an atheist and thus have no foundation for morality.

It’s just dumb to make such sweeping assumptions about an individual human being based upon where they stand on the God vs. no God question. You don’t like it when we do it to you, and it is equally as off-putting when your peeps do it to us.

Don’t be to off put. Many atheists act in this condescending way, even towards other secularists. Hell, even intellectual superiors. 

Its what happens when you’re sure that  you’re on the side of reason. Everyone else is below you. 

I should know. I am on the side of reason. You all are below me. 

Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.

I get it– there’s some weird stories in the Bible. Plenty of verses to make fun of. But I just want to bang my head into the table when I see some of my atheist friends quote some of these Bible passages as if the only way to read them is the way a fundamentalist would read them. It is amazing to me the way both conservative fundamentalists and many atheists insist on reading and interpreting the Bible with the same rigid literalism that takes into account almost nothing regarding literary genre, authorial intent, context, original languages, etc.

If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least read a bit of scholarship on a passage before quoting it as if you understand exactly what it meant, what it means, and how a good Christian should apply it. That’s the type of unenlightened, ignorant nonsense that fundamentalists do with the Bible, and I know you’d hate to be associated with them. 

Its annoying to me when an atheist uses a bible quote to back an argument, period. Its one thing if you are illustrating hypocrisy. But as a method of debate . . . come on. 

You are an atheist. You have figured out that scriptures is about as accurate a depiction of reality as a roll of toilet paper. Thus, pick a new tactic! 

Having never read the bible beyond the pillars of salt story (my grandmother gave me a picture bible when I was a kid), a few years ago I started reading again, figuring it important to know what I was debunking. 

Then I realized, no. Why waste mental space on information that I know is useless. The books are essentially old time fairy tales that are still given credence. End of story.

Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.

I’m not sure the best way to break this down, but here’s my beef: following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah), or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies), is not the same thing as going to Disneyland and believing that Mickey is actually a real-life talking mouse. It’s not the same thing as believing that there actually was an old woman who lived in a shoe who had so many children that she didn’t know what to do.

Religious/ethical beliefs and fairy tales are not same thing. Every time I hear this “fairy tale” insult my inner Samuel L. Jackson voice kicks in and screams, “It’s not in the same ballpark. It’s not even the same $&#@ game!” (Pulp Fiction reference for you.) 

For the record, the 2ed last sentence in my previous commentary was completely coincidental. As it happens, it betrays my personal feelings on this request. 

No.

Do all the mental gymnastics and hijinks you want to convince yourself that you are different from a Voldemort worshiper. You’re one and the same in my book. 

Also, cult classic or not, not a big fan of Pulp Fiction. And not just because Scientology apologist John Travolta is a big star in it either. 

Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

I get it, we religious people have done a lot of douchey things in the course of history, but that’s not all we’ve done– and to make a broad and obnoxious statement as if we have never contributed to the good of society as a result of our religious beliefs is just ignorant nonsense. In fact, in many eras it’s been religious people leading the way.

Put a list of names of charitable organizations into a hat and pull one out– there’s a pretty good chance that organization is actually a religious one, because religious people are among the most financially charitable from all categories. Modern hospitals? Those were largely Christian endeavors. Orphan care? That’s largely a Christian-led movement. Relief work in countries affected by famine and natural disasters? Throw a dart and you’ll land on a religious organization leading the way in places others don’t go.

I’m not even going to list all the good that’s done in the name of religion, because you have google and a brain. But suffice to say, the idea that religion makes or has made no positive impact on society is ignorant and lazy thinking. 

The religious do tend to be responsible for a lot of good in the world. Though the author is quick to tie this altruism to religious values, I tend to credit simple human decency above all else. Because no matter the ideology, human traits ALWAYS come first. Hence you can have good and well valued Christians, and immoral Christians. 

And on the topic of Christian charity (or any faith based charity really), how many just exist as tools of indoctrination? 

“You can have this bread, but let us first read from Leviticus” type of thing. 

 So, back to the beginning: you’re an atheist and I’m a theist. That doesn’t mean we have to be natural born enemies. In fact, I would argue that both sides have reasonable arguments for why they believe what they believe.

When we move past that, there’s a world of commonality just waiting to be discovered– because a human being is infinitely more than what they believe or don’t believe about God. People are complex and cannot be reduced to assumptions or stereotypes without completely dehumanizing them.

But to discover that– to get to that place where we can see the humanity in one another, and begin finding areas of common ground, we need to stop viewing the other as if they represent the worst their tribe has to offer. Both sides have their fundamentalists and antagonists, but they don’t represent the whole of either of us.

Not every Christian is Ken Ham building a modern ark to transport dinosaurs. Not every atheist is Richard Dawkins or the anonymous internet troll who dehumanizes people of religion while acting as if they are morally superior.

I’ll keep working with my tribe to try to reform it from the inside, but these are just a few things I wish we could dial-back within your tribe.

If we work on individually reforming our own cultures, we just might find a different future for all of us. 

I agree that now, more than ever, we need to try and bridge build. It’s a big part of the reason why I quit the religion debate circuit in the first place. Seeing it as a waste of time, when efforts could and should be focused elsewhere. Yes, there are many religiously based problems in society that still must be tackled (some more pressing than others). And (for the Atheists), the whole label of Atheism tends to be quite misunderstood. 

Yet, when compared to a problem like climate change or nuclear proliferation (let alone  someone like Donald Trump having access to these weapons in mere days), those problems for all intents and purposes . . . don’t matter. 

And really, this goes for all the different groups in which we like to split ourselves up. Tribalism breeds self interest. Which worked fairly well in the past. But we’re beyond that point in EVERY way now. I we don’t grow up, it’s the end of the line.

To quote my Rockie mountain residing best friends opinion on the Trump presidency:

“We done son”

Firebrand Atheists vs. Diplomatic Atheists – Who Is More Effective?

Today upon my visit to Aron Ra’s channel to check out what he is up to, I came across this panel discussion (of sorts). It revolved around what is considered a better methodology of atheist activism, firebrand or diplomatic. 

https://youtu.be/BFS_WD-FJYI

First off, previous to this, I didn’t even know that atheists also asigned a term to their less provocative alies. Ive heard the term firebrand atheist before, as have most of us. But diplomatic atheist is a new one for me. But it does not stop there. Sometimes a 3ed group (known as the accomadation atheists) are also considered. 

Though this is the first that im hearing these terms, I can’t say that it surprises me. The volcal atheist cohort tends to already label all secular people under their brand. Thus it’s not really surprising to me that this schism would also spread internally. 

But before I go into THAT  again, I’ll explore some of the terms, starting with definitions. Keep in mind that even THIS can be difficult, since the definitions can differ with the source (as illustrated by the panel discussion). 

Firebrand Atheist

American Atheists president David Silverman defines this (his) variety of atheism as (to paraphrase) “telling the truth about religion, with emphasis on the telling. Do not attack the humans, attack their silly beliefs”. I borrowed the definition from this patheos blogger , of whom uses a slightly different definition (unapologetically arguing that religion is false and harmful, including elements of polemic and ridicule, even if it causes some believers to take offense)

I think it’s safe to say that a good explanation\definition is an atheist that is willing to be vocally abrasive to all aspects of religion, no matter how it is taken.

Diplomatic Atheist

This one is even more of a mess in its usage among various individuals than the previous. Some seem to characterize this type of atheist as thinking it a bad idea to challenge religion. Others characterize them as simply being less caustic than their firebrand peers in their approach. And there may be even more definitions. 

I prefer the latter definition myself. It comes with less implications attached to it. 

This patheos article  serves as a commentary on the panel discussion link at the opening of this piece. 

Accommodation Atheist

This type of atheist seems to be characterized as being willing to respect religion as a means of earning the respect of the religous. I say seems to be characterized due to the liquid nature of the definition as acknowledged by diffrent people. 

The last 2 atheist types also seem to be lumped in as one by some people. I would argue, falsly. And I have even heard so called atheists in denial (anyone vocally calling themselves any secular adjective besides atheist) included in the accomadationist catagory. Again, falsely. How a person responds to theistic belief is irrelevant to their outward adjective. 

Though the panel discussion above ended up being very biased in favor of the firebrand viewpoint, I think that all (or at least, most) panelists eventually conseeded that they were not all that different from one another. I can agree. Even from my outsider perspective, I can see a little of each in myself. There is a time to get out the claws. There is a time to take a more thought out and tactful approach. And there are times when the best recourse is to let sleeping dogs lie. 

This panel illistrated a quite aparent lack of nuance of many atheists, even in terms of their own community. This particularly involved one member of the panel, but it persists in others to a big extent as well. Mainly (it seems) due to ones geographic location. 

First off, is the role of localized culture. In terms of religiosity, in the US, there exists a big diffrence in cultual penetration between the northern and southern states. This disparity often even exists between cities and rurel areas, anywhere. Those that are well traveled are familier with the variations, but others may not be. 

These differences also make for a big variation in how open one can be with their atheism. Someone in Las Angeles, New York, Boston, and possibly even southern  urban centres may be able to be an open atheist and anti-theist without issue. But that sort of thing can get you socially exiled from smaller environments. One would think an obvious point. But none the less, it had to be mentioned. 

Now to explore the diffrent methodologies. 

I will be honest by saying that being openly anti-theist does feel good. I often do it when refering to the idea of religion, be it here or elsewhere on social media. But when directly speaking to the faithful, I now tend to avoid such incendiary tacts. I USED to love lighting things up in the faces of Christians (online ones, of course). I was a young rebel with a just cause. But I didn’t understand the power of delusion. Or more, how directly critically engaging a persons personal beliefs and conclusions often only emboldens them. This is with ANY topic or subject, not just religion. 

To refer to the panel again,  early on, one panalist I will paraphrase said “someone has to tell these people that they are stupid for having these beliefs!”. Also in line with this more firebrand methodology, are the atheist billboards in southern states.

 First off, I should note that not all of those chosen by me were  aimed at a southern US audience. The last is obviously more at home in Utah or areas of Idaho. But none the less, the purpose is the same, as are the results. 

My first comment is that none of these (to me at least) seem all that controversial (well, aside from the last, which did make me laugh out loud). But I have become fairly desensitized to the whole sacred cow aspect of dealing with all things religion. For example, I recently said “Fuck the holy ghost!” to a (very hypocritical) Christian friend of mine, which was met with shock that I didn’t expect.

I don’t take it with any seriousness, obviously. And I guess I assumed that the person would not take it with much seriousness either, being a big fan of premarital sex and AT LEAST a three time home wrecker of 2 engagements and a marriage. But I guess I forgot just how well some can blissfully ignore such lackings in ethics, despite being hyper aware (and bigoted) against others (like homosexuality). 

First off, l am not against premarital sex in any way. As long as it’s legal, safe and consensual, have some primally driven fun. But breaking up relationships or marriages is frowned upon by almost any standard of ethics or morality. Not to mention the whole “he without sin cast the first stone” thing. 

The firebrand approach I took with that person is uncharacteristic of what my normal recourse would be. I would not go barging into my local church uttering blasphemous statements. Don’t get me wrong, it would be hilarious to me (and any other closet or budding non believers in attendance). But despite it seeming not all that bad in this case, it’s not my normal approach. 

To go back to where I left off before that tangent, I have some difficulty in appreciating just how controversial many of the  anti-theistic billboard’s can be. Though where I live is far from any measure of progressive (and arguably almost the worst in Canada for backwards ideals), here, having an overt anti-theistic stance is not exactly a death sentence (figuratively OR literally). 

Being caustic to religion and condemning racial bias is not always popular, but it won’t wreck your social standing. Granted, this is anecdotal to my life. And I live within an urban environment (things may be drastically different in any of the many smaller communities surrounding my city of residence). But I would not really fear being an openly atheist (or secular) activist, if I was so inclined. 

I suspect that the same can be said for many fans of the firebrand form of atheist activism. Working within organizations likely based in large metropolitan areas, and continually surrounded by like minded individuals (the secular convention circuit in a nutshell), I can understand how the reality of many areas outside of that bubble may not be considered (aside from those that came from the thick of it, of course). 

But even if that observation is unfair (or wrong), the open hostility of the firebrand Atheist towards religion can still do more harm than good. To reference the panel discussion again, I would never call a believer stupid anymore (or otherwise go to ad hominem). Yes, I have fairly regularly in the past. And I have even recently when the person seemed more malicious than good. But its no longer an initial reaction.

The insult could in fact be true (even though that is the nature of such conversations. EVERYONE thinks the opposition is stupid!). But it also ensures that the conversation ends, and the person shuts down. And not only that, it could tarnish any future chance of such discussion. As such, I do not think it is really all that helpful for organizations to be putting up caustic (at least to the religious community) billboard’s in very religous areas. If the goal is to normalize and destigmatize Atheism, slapping the face of those misinformed of the benign concept seems extremely antithetical. 

I should first make something clear. Not all firebrand atheists resort automatically to insults. Indeed, some do. However, its more about being honest about religion. Whether they feel that religion is dangerous, or that it just offers nothing of value to society (often both), this is more what the term entails.

While being in your face and brutally honest is good in some circumstances, this is not always the best course of action. First off, I get why people would do it. I get why people would enjoy doing it to. Be it  downplaying and condemning religion to devot believers, or paying for secular oriented billboards in the heart of fundamentalist Christian or Mormon country, it can be fun to poke the snakes nest. When I am filling a bottom shelf at work (thus, on my knees) and some moron comes up to me and says “say a word for me, won’t you!”, I would love to say a prayer to Satan. Maybe one of these days I will. 

Directly confronting some problems is the best course of action. But not so much with internal beliefs (particularly if they are life long, not to mention potentially proped up by misguided education systems). In terms of macro situations (like billboard’s), the act could instill hostility instead of inspire thought. If a segment of the population already has a negative perception of atheists and\or Atheism, this will only play into and confirm that bias. Rather than make it easier for atheists and secular individuals to come out, you make it more difficult. 

As for the micro level (face to face or online conversation), taking on religious beliefs directly is not always best idea since (contrary to what we often tell ourselves) this often makes people just dig in deeper. This goes for any topic really (a notable 2ed to religion being politics). But this is particularly so, when the belief is reality (at least to the person).

I have not figured out how to really get around this hurdle and drawback of said conversations. As such, most of the time, I try to stand back. Some could call that being accommodationist. I view it as more, not making the problem any worse. 

Speaking of which, during the panel, Aron made a comment about smart minds like Neil Degrasse Tyson and other scientist’s being accommodationist for using labels like agnostic (instead of atheist). While unsurprising and annoying, I’ll get back to this later. 

First off, indeed, accommodationist Atheism can be destructive if left unchecked in the presence of religious zeal. Though this particular set of terms likley didn’t exist in her day, Madelyn Murray O’Hare had a lot to say about accommodationist atheists. Of course, she is using the same dicotamy that is common today (non-believer = Atheist). But none the less, the rest of the criticism is spot on.  I remember when I first heard this, how enlightening it was. It’s not a case of fighting for a secular state that never was. It’s more, a case of gaining back what was lost to inaction and self interest. It’s almost unbelievable that the US federal government was once hostile towards organized religion (namely Christianity). 

But as in other contexts, it is ridiculous to burden the sons with the sins of the forefathers. Original sin is stupid, no matter what the context. Even if past atheists\secularists mucked up a once secular nation to be proud of, todays generation is trying to help reverse the damage. That is what matters. 

One place one can start towards that long-term goal is cohesion.

First off, for those that like to categorize atheist activism by type (firebrand, diplomatic, accommodationist), stop. For one thing, the terms as defined and understood are often so variable that they only add unnecessary friction. And for another, to borrow from one of the panelists, all of these methods should be viewed more as tools. One is not likely going to get good results by hammering in a screw, or using a screw driver on a nail. Each job requires a different tool (or set of tools).

Another step towards the goal of cohesion is to lay off this dogmatic and ridiculous requirement that EVERY non-believer HAS to identify as an atheist. When I hear how some of these people speak (“I was lying to myself that I was *whatever* before I accepted that I was an atheist!”), they remind me of their opposing zealots! 

But that is just the way of a world that is unfamiliar to the nuances that even a light education in philosophy can bring. Definitions of ambiguous terms become the irronicly rigid rules of an area that is otherwise outside of the boundaries of scientifically proven reality. But even if that intellectual criticism will never be considered by most (however terribly it was proposed, being I am without any post secondary experience), a good argument for laying off this intolerance is the endgame itself. 

I have said it many times now. Other people have also said it many times before me. And it even came up in the panel discussion (to paraphrase, “maybe we need to acknowledge that we need more words than atheist to build a voting block”). A notion that Aron would of course quickly dispel. As is typical of his type.

Though I respect Aron for his many efforts in making his nation (and the world) a genuinely better place, like everyone else, he is not spot on with everything. Though many atheists do it by assertion, when confronted (by either an audience member or a panelist, not sure which), he flat out claimed to know better than anyone using an alternate secular term to atheist. Quite an intolerant statement for a member of a cohort that supposedly praises critical thought and free thinking. 

Should atheists be more inclusive in their work in building a voting block of secular values? Yes. 

Take a page from religion. 

Even though there are a huge number of factions in existence, this does not cause them much grief in holding onto the status quo.  It would seem that they learned to put those differences aside when a more important common goal necessitated it. Right from when the secular minded first let their guard down, to this day. They may not see eye to eye, but when priorities dictate, they cooperate.

Atheists should not be walking around and treating Atheism as though it is as proven as the sun’s existence. It is merely one of many possible solutions to a complex problem. Some of the other solutions may be temporary, silly, or otherwise disagreeable. But really, when compared to what is to be gained by swallowing pride and being just a LITTLE more accepting, the drawbacks become minor. 

Many of these preachers of dogmatic Atheism love to say that if everyone would just accept what they are (atheist!), then atheists could have damn near a third of the national population (more than Catholics! As said by Aron Ra many times). Indeed, that is a big number, and a big deal. 

But we could have that tommorow, with a slight change of tactic. Those of secular background are already similar to atheists. Though they do not agree on adjective, there is likley more agreement than disagreement. There is your voting block. 

Secular. Humanist. Secular Humanist. 

I don’t care what you call it. The potential is there. All that stands between that cohesion and our current lack of power, is ridiculousness and stupidity.

By many measures, the world is on fire. Were the Titanic, and the iceberg is in sight. So what are we waiting for?

A Nuclear winter?!

Question’s For Atheists  

It has been awhile since I have broached this topic. For a reason. Though this debate was once my forte, it since has become quite stale. With regards atheist being just another of a whole laundry list of labels that people like to crowd themselves under. 

As one can imagine, it’s a boring life. It’s not much fun to be seated on the fringes of any number of debates that you were once fairly active participant in.

I seeing much participation, but often very partisan participation. Though there is lots of interest in debate and dialogue, often one finds  little more than the promotion of obviously well engrained ideas (at least in the context of sharing them). Promoting ideas is fine (don’t get me wrong), but there has to be a willingness to actually criticize personal stances, to self reflect. But I don’t often see this anymore (was I blind to it before? Possibly. Probably. May as well be honest). It’s mostly just, 2 or more sides citing why each are wrong. And though people call it healthy debate, I’ve come to disagree.

For example, the Ken Ham Vs Bill Nye debate. Though many watched, few minds were changed. One side was already in agreement, and the other was not really interested in entertaining anything else. So if anything, it was becoming of more harm than good. Not only did few (but for some that were likley already on the fence) get much out of it besides confirmation, the debate also brought a previously rightfully unknown charleten into the limelight. Yeah, he had a cameo in Religulous back in the day. But his real infamy didn’t come until the debate. And after, when social media atheists overstated and further propagated his rediculous statements to mock him. All the while forgeting about the persecution complex of the faithful. The more they mock, the more the delusional flock to these charlatans.

Thus illustrates another of my critiqes of the atheist community. They often turn unknown shysters into well known hero’s. Thus doing far more harm than good. 

But all that said, it’s been awhile since I’ve confronted anything on the topic. Having come across these 30 questions in a blog post, I figured it be intresting to explore from my new prospective. Though some of the questions may be silly or irrelevant now, it will be interesting to explore none the less.  

So, let’s begin. 

1.) How would you define Atheism? 

Though I would have previously given the same answer as the blog post author did (a lack of belief in any God or gods), that has changed of late. 

Though the lack of belief definition is the most popular, I prefer it’s older (proper?) definition which is the rejection of belief in any God or gods. Actually, saying that I prefer it is not really a good way of putting it. Its just, more fitting to the context, particularly if it’s the dichotomy most paint it to be. Theism is belief, so atheism is the opposite. It’s also one that seems to be utilized in academia 

How you choose to arrange your various secular adjectives is up to you (agnostic atheist, apistevist agnostic atheist). But let’s start with atheism as the positive position that it is. 

One argument against this mindset that I have heard is the natural slipage of word definitions over time. Which can be taken into consideration. But if that is the case, one should also consider the word agnostic. There is a lot of resistance in the atheist community to accepting the modern middle of the road definition (at times to the point of intolerance). If one claims acceptance of a modern definition of one word, you can’t move the goalposts for another. 

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)?

Neither(?). 

The deity equation has no relevance on my day to day life whatsoever. Absolutly none.

I suppose that has always been so. But certainly more so since I dropped out of epistemological discussions. 

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 dosen’t exist? 

No. 

First off, the question is a bit loaded. Though not unusual from a theistic standpoint of belief, it’s a question that assumes a position as correct to begin with (in this case, that there IS a god). Though its automatic for believers, it’s still an intellectually dishonest position in a debate context. Just as my friend makes the same error in asking “Do you deny the holy spirit?”. 

For me, this type of question tends to steer me clear of interaction with said person, since it tends to signal a person unwilling to be challenged. Anyone that promotes their ideological stance as a rule of thumb (“If you do not believe in any God(s), you are an atheist! Period!” , “If you are not a feminist, you are a bigot!”, “You can only have pure free speech, or no free speech at all. There is no middle ground!”) illicites such a reaction from me. 

But more to the meat of the question, no. It’s no more inconsistent than a person attempting to show that pink elephants, the loch ness monster or any other creatures of mythology, do not exist. 

Not to mention that we come back to the loaded nature of the question. Very few (rightfully) will try to prove (if prove is what “show” is defined as in the question) that there is no god, since its impossible. But they can certainly highlight many things that make the concept of a sky deity seem less necessary, or plausible.

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

Another loaded question.

I was never sure of anything. I am not sure of anything. As I figure would be the case for most everyone in the secular community. You can’t be secular unless you have doubts. 

For me personally,  atheism as commonly used by many begun not to fit  on an intellectual level. The labels (Agnostic Atheist) leaned me quite far in one direction, when in reality, I was far more less convinced.

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

No atheist is sure. Again, doubt is the seed that sprouts any form of secularism. At least, no atheist should ever be SURE of their claim. Because that’s not any better than its reverse, fundamentalism on the theist side. 

Most atheists would likley go on to demonstrate how a lack of belief does not make such positive claims. But again, I don’t feel that the current status quo definition of atheism is really correct. But even so, you just combine terms, like my former agnostic atheist. 

I later realized that I didn’t even need that description, because a simple “I don’t know” suffices. I don’t put a label on it, because it’s really not all that important. Not to mention that it just causes friction (particularly when dealing with ideologues). 

6.) How do you define what truth is?

The dictionary (well, Google) says: 

truth

tro͞oTH/

noun

  1. the quality or state of being true.

    “he had to accept the truth of her accusation”

    synonyms: veracitytruthfulnessveritysinceritycandorhonesty; More

    • that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

      noun: the truth

      “tell me the truth”

      synonyms: what actually happened, the case, so; More

    • a fact or belief that is accepted as true.

      plural noun: truths

      “the emergence of scientific truths”

      synonyms: factveritycertaintycertitude; More
    • While I do not disagree with the definitions of the word, I do not like seeing the word used in the context of ANY debate due to it being to easily moulded around any ideological stance. I don’t care what the truth means to you. I deal in facts. 
    • And if we’re talking about something outside the context of physical reality, then the word does not fit anyway. Thus, this is a term best abandoned in debate and dialogue. 

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

    • Again, I do not really go by that label. But none the less, like everyone else that falls under the secular umbrella, I (long ago) found no reason to continue acknowledging the existence of some sky daddy. Because reality (both on a micro AND a macro scale, from the context of my perspective) stopped justifying the necessity.

    • Basically, it all began to fall apart in high school. A rough experience shook my personal life to the core, and classes like social studies and current events opened my eyes to the world at large. So what started as disbelief (“How could God do this?!”) gradually faded into non-belief (“Maybe it’s not so much an EVIL entity, as it is none at all”). 

    • It’s a rough way to enter the secular world. But none the less, I got there. Which is all that matters.

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

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. This concerns material that goes above my head.

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

This one has a 2 part answer. 

First off, the concept of Atheism itself (lacking\rejecting belief in a God or Gods) is indeed NOT a worldview. It is a form of belief (confidence in a stance), but it is not in itself a world view. Though many atheists would claim otherwise.

Now comes part 2.

Though the concept and\or philosophy of Atheism itself is unencumbered by any baggage that would make it a world view, the stance can take a world view type status in the context of groups made up of many different atheists (social media is terrible for this). I call the distinctions in the groups learned and found Atheism. 

Found atheists tend to be like me. They at some point came to the conclusion that there was likely no God. You do not even need to know the term to grasp the concept (I only learned the term Atheism after 6 or more months of acceptance of the philosophy). 

Learned atheists on the the other hand, tend to adopt Atheism just as the label suggests . . . they learn it. These days typically from various sources of social media. Typically they start somewhere on the faithful spectrum, and end up being convinced otherwise. Typically convinced by people that came to reason in the same way that they did.

Which wouldn’t be much of an issue, but for when a lack of philosophical education (thanks to the typical western school system!) causes these simple positions to be dragged WAY further than they actually allow. 

Enter, the Atheist babies\animals\isolated tribes\inanimate objects argument. Even though the definition simply states the lacking of belief in\rejection of a god or gods, this is expanded to consider, everything. I am guessing this more of an issue of the new definition, being that babies\animals\isolated tribes\inanimate objects do not explicitly REJECT belief in anything. 

Proponents of so called Shoe Atheism (a Reddit term coined for the phenomenon) unfortunately make up the vast majority of the community now (or so it seems). And as the community grows over time (as is the trend), so to will the  number of Shoe Atheists. Though it is on one hand great to have such growth in the secular community, it’s NOT good when it’s so partisan. 

It’s NOT good when influential secular voices like American Atheists president David Silverman spend more time labeling the whole secular community as atheist than they do trying to unite the group for the common good. Many atheists claim these actions to be attempts to unite everyone under one umbrella.

 BULLSHIT. Everyone is ALREADY under one secular umbrella.

 The so called unification  happening now is more akin to how many forms of religious ideologically spread. It is less reason and critical thinking than it is dogma and intolerance. 

In closing, though atheism is indeed it’s own stand alone philosophy (which leaves room for a vast variation of personal belief in its subscribers), it CAN become something more, in some contexts. I would not call it a world view, persay. But certainly a form of ideology. 

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

This one is rather specific for my liking, but all’s well . Like everything else, you tend to shape many things around local cultural environments. In the West it’s Christianity, elsewhere it’s something else. 

I would think (hope anyway) that all the antagonism would not just be just aimed at Christianity. I can see WHY a majority of it would be, however.The growth of the internet, and by extension Atheism, happened predominantly in the mostly Christian leaning Western world. 

As for “Why the hostility?”, simple. Because religion is not benign. 

At best, it wastes people’s finite lives in preparation for a lie. At worst, it is the ultimate antagonism for mankind. A species that developed the ability to wipe itself from the universe long before it came to its senses on the ancient population control methods that we now call religion. 

I do not pester people that hold religion on a personal level. As they say, to each his own. But on a macro scale, religion is dangerous. It’s a mental scourge on the population that has caused nothing but trouble, and will lead to nothing but trouble down the road (if not annihilation). Even considering the potential positive aspects (ethics and mortality?), it’s not worth the drawbacks. 

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

His existence? 

Meh. 

I was never a firm believer in Christianity, fortunately. That is likley why it was so easy to abandon the concept.God and\or religion was not really brought up in our house, and the family didn’t ever attend Church.

At some point in my early teens, I got a picture Bible from my grandmother for Christmas. I remember that I put it on my bookshelf with my other books, at the time unread. Sometime down the road when it peeked my interest enough to pick it up, I remember only making it to the pillar of salt part at the beginning before thinking “What the fuck is this shit?!”. I put it down, never to read it (or any other Bible) again. And I haven’t a clue what happened to that book since. With some luck it was thrown out of recycled, never to pollute an impressionable mind again.

Though I obviously had doubts, I didn’t disregard god and\or religion entirely until turmoil in my freshman year turned my whole world upside down. It was the kind of turmoil that in all honesty, has followed me (in various ways) to this day. Though these last few years have seen a fair bit of improvement in this regard, I would be denying the truth if I said I wasn’t still adversely bothered by said events, of the in the weirdest ways.

But more to the question, it started really as selfish anger (“How could God do this to me!?”). Then as I absorbed more worldly knowledge, my prospective got larger (“How could God let this happen?!”). And eventually it settled on a more reasoned stance (“Maybe it just looks like God accepts horror in the world, because there is no God”). 

I don’t recall the exact timeframe of events. But I’m certain it was over at least a year.

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

Indeed I do. But religion is not the only set of ideological values that tends to be caustic towards unity. There are many personal, political and activistic (among others) labels that cause strife.

 That is not to say that I am advocating for everyone to drop their identifiers and just act as one. All I am saying is that there is no need to be so partisan. 

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

Yes. Of course. 

Whatever necessity that it and all its companions have ever provided has long since gone away. So time to take out the trash.

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

No. 

I have heard Bill Maher make this claim numerous times, as has atheist YouTuber Dusty Smith. But I have made my own disagreements on this here . 

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

Yes. 

I have heard people  use the “If he appeared before me right now, I would concede proof, even if I couldn’t prove it it anyone else ” logic before. But that is stupid. Your not being rational if you’re leaving your mind open to the brains irrational imagination and mind games.

The scientific method gets rid of that bias of the individual brain. To borrow from a past question, the scientific method takes your anecdotal truth and turns it into universally accepted fact. 

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? 

There is no mistake or confusion in categories. Right now God and deities are in the realm of the supernatural. But if science were to solve the enigma one day by proving the\a God hypothesis correct, than the deity would no longer be supernatural. It would become a part of nature, like everything else. 

I highly doubt that this day will ever come (you can’t prove OR disprove something that was never there). But regardless of that, there is no error in categorization. 

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

Procreation? 

The Bible is quite explicit in its stance on that, unfortunately for the planet (and those that have to share it with the often religious spawn of these past Bible worshipers). 

Evolution has a part in this to. The human sex drive has its purpose in the grand scheme of things. Though we have now reached numbers that have virtually eliminated the need for more births, there is little need for the abstinence that many would think is the answer (also a big part of religion).

First off, when you try and go to war against nature, you will lose, whether it’s against your inner nature or nature itself. Telling people that they need to stop fucking will not eliminate hormone driven desires. Note that the same applies to conversation therapy (if you like cock, no amount of re-education will make you like cunt). 

Really, there is no need for such ultimately futile (and potentially unhealthy) measures. With the excellent quality of modern profolactics and an education on barriers, respect and moderation , one can live a life of hormone driven prowess without much harm done. 

Now that the birds and the bees is out of the way, on to the real intent of the question.

In all honesty, the answer to the question “Do humans have a purpose?” would be no. We have a biological purpose, like the rest of the life we share this rock with. But unlike them, we have both the mental faculties and time to reflect on these questions. 

Though having no purpose seems like a bitter and depressing pill to swallow, it’s not all bad. You do not need to have a prescribed purpose, you cut your own path. 

Some follow various forms of religion, or an  increasingly large subset of that cohort, non-religion. Others have careers. Children. Art. Hobbies. All sorts of options. 

I myself, have been grappling with this of late as well. Trying to figure out what to do with myself. Though not an easy process, I have no doubt that it will eventually sort itself out given enough time. 

Unless I step out the door tommorow and get struck by a falling Egyptian Airbus .  

Shit happens!

18.) If we do have a purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?
As explained previously, it is determined by you. Always.

Some may think they are guided by some higher power or principal. But they none the less, you are always holding the reigns. 

19.) Where does morality come from?

Civilization.

In order for anything reminiscent of a civilization to function (let alone flourish), you need peace and stability within it. Though I have no idea where the idea of morality originated, it seems apparent that we would have gotten there anyway. No matter what the cultural or religious environment, civilizations can’t exist in anarchy. 

I am sure that religion was at one time a big part of the communication of these morals. But rather than a source, I suspect it was more of a vehicle. Moral teachings were just a part of a bigger package of goodies, meant to keep the peasants fearful and in line with royal doctrine. 

20.) Are there moral absolutes? 

Maybe. 

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

Though many seem easily able to rattle off a whole laundry list of items, I find it hard to think of even one. Because with even the worst of them, one could still find justification for the moral failing. For example, if a mass murderer of innocent people gets killed by a vigilante, is it wrong NOT to feel bad?

How about a serial rapist that gets raped himself, in jail? 

Feel free to share your thoughts (and\or possible examples) in the comment section.

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

No.

There is no such thing as evil, because (like how Truth is often used), it is a subjective term. Though most people likley utilize the term, they are not uniform in exactly HOW they use it. Hell, someone could theoretically call ME evil, considering some of the things I’ve said in this entry alone. A challenge I would counter by simply saying that I am no more evil than the late George Carlin. A man that regularly blew past the line in pursuit of a laugh. Or more, sending a point home.

In fact, one bit from his last HBO special (exploring the notion of dead people looking down on us whilst in heaveninvolved an explosion during Thanksgiving dinner. 

https://youtu.be/icqNwwpLtEE

Because the world needs more George Carlin. 

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

First off, if one is to take the Bible as a serious text, the question of whether or not God is morally bad is less belief than it is knowledge. If all you need to know is in the book, then you can safely say that you KNOW that God is bad. And not just old testament God either. The whole book is rife with evil (that’s right! I think the Bible is an evil book!).

By what standard do I come to this conclusion. . .

How about. . . Any?! 

Do an experiment. Grab a Bible and select a few sample stories of the type that typical thumpers like to gloss over. Change the names of places and characters, and rework some plotlines. Try and keep the structure, but try not to make it apparent what the story is based on.

After the rewrite is complete, distribute the story to a variety of people. After they read the story, make up a few questions, one of them being “Is the main character of the tale morally reprehensible?”. And just for the hell of it, throw in “Would you say that the main character is evil?”. 

Throw out any responses from people that recognize the source material. What you have left should be a good mix of reactions based on various standards of morality.

Double the cookies for Christians with negative reactions.

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

Evidence. 

It’s more than that though. I dislike questions like “Do you believe in *****”, because it is essentially a statement of faith. Or on the flip side, it’s a positive claim which can not be backed. 

What would satisfy me, would be if the concept were taken out of the realm of belief to begin with (as stated previously). To have the concept not a matter of faith, but a part of knowledge.

I have high standards. 

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

See previous answers.

26.) Must this evidence be rationally based, archeological, testable in lab, etc., Or what? 

Obviously. Again, see previous answers.

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

Though I would lean towards the atheists in the context of necessity, I would think that either is perfectly capable, so long as they keep their ideological baggage to themselves. Unfortunately, humans are not known for that sort of thing. If you give any group (however marginalised in the past!) a good amount of power, I can almost guarantee that special interests pertaining to said group will eventually begin to take priority. Usually at their discretion as well.

We all know what it looks like when the theists do it. But Atheists? Non-ideological atheists turned oppressors? 

Lets look at Atheism (the wider atheist community) today. It has ALREADY become a self interest group of sorts, more concerned with making people into Atheists than in unifying the secular community as a whole. What could this become?

Right now, churches are essentially domestic tax haven’s. It’s not right, but with atheists in power, it won’t last long.

 But what if the atheists decided that it’s time that THEY had their share of the religious exemption, and thus create a non-religion tax exemption for atheist oriented groups. And to build on current trends, what if the exemption is only available to strictly atheist groups.

 Secular coalition of ****, ****** society of agnostics. . . DENIED!

United atheists of ******, Society of ****** atheists. . . APPROVED! 

Some people (particularly atheists, of course) may find that whole experiment ridiculous. And I can see why. I once held the atheist community on a very high pedestal as well. But life experience has taught me that not only can ridiculousness be found in any cohort (including amoug the most brilliant, a group that is NOT inclusive of much of the atheist community), but also that human nature can easily override even the most well intentioned of persons or groups. 

As such, though I would prefer a society run\governed mostly by atheists over what we have now in most places, my utopia would be a place where no group or ideological banner has to much of a foothold. A society where all are fairly evenly represented, and thus all are kept in check by one another. 

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

Yes. And no. 

Note that the deity aspect has nothing to do with either answer here. As stated before, the God or Gods enigma has no relevance to my life whatsoever. It’s more, to do with the society in which I live.

I do have the free will to do whatever I want, generally. My choices are my own, as are the consequences of those choices. But in the bigger picture, there comes a point where that rule of thumb fades away due mainly to how our society is built, how we function within it. Everything revolves around money and currency. You don’t get anywhere and can not do anything without it. So you have to get a job. Which is where the whole freedom of choice thing tends to die. 

It’s alright if you find a job you love, and can thus be contented throughout your career. But for I would suspect the vast majority, it’s hardly that glorious. The bind I find myself in now, in all honesty. 

There are seemingly lots of options, both internally and externally to my current gig. But despite the quantity, there is little substance. Though there is seemingly lots to choose from, it’s all crap. Positions great for the extroverted person that loves customer service and interaction. But positions that repel the introverted person sick and tired after dealing with years of bullshit from all levels in customer service. 

Then there is on the job itself. Sure, you have the option of telling the boss to fuck off, and you can refuse to do this job or that. But that would mean your out the door. And thus you have to go though the whole bullshit process of looking, interviewing , and getting on at another place that is likely no better. 

Though it is mostly anecdotal material from an extremely fed up source, you can likely not only relate to it, but also expand it generally. Though we do have a choice, the path is largely prefabricated if you want any status quo comforts. 

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 the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices? 

No. This question is a bit bewildering. 

No matter the limitations imposed by our physical dimensions of all measurements, were still capable of making our own decisions. 

Either I am misinterpreting the question, or it is utterly ridiculous and irrelevant.

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 be restricted by space and time? If not, why not? Why does one lead to the other? 

No.

Besides the fact that we do not have the timeline required available, that is not how evolution works. It’s a process of adaptation. What the question is proposing seems akin to something out of a sci Fi film, or a history channel documentary (ancient aliens!). 

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? 

Though I didn’t answer in the affirmative, I have to take a stab at this one anyway. Even if someone did say it was possible, you still run into the problem of first cause. 

And by answering yes, one is not saying that it is probable that some sort of deity is out there. They are just saying that, sure, brains could someday be powerful to the point of God-like. Nice try with slipping that in though. 

The source blogger (at a later date) answered 10 more questions for atheists in a diferent post. In fact, it was these 10 questions (found on Twitter) that turned me onto the 31 to begin with. I was going to just skip them, but since there are some new questions, I will take them on. 

In fact, there are many more questions to be had (spread out over at least 2 posts). I will go through them all (albeit without the repeats).

Post 1

Post 2

1.) What happens when we die? 

To quote Sherlock Holmes (from the modern BBC adaptation that I love),  “When you die, you are taken into a room and burned”. 

All in all, fuck if I know. If your burried, your meat rots away and eventually reverts to the nature from whence you came. A process that may take longer if you have a typical American trans fat laden diet. If plastic lasts forever, will you as well? 

And if your cremated, then I guess you are put in a jar and possibly scattered around someplace that you gave a fuck about for some reason. 

Or thrown in the trash and replaced with sand.Who’s gonna know? 

2.) What if your wrong? And there is a heaven? And there is a HELL!

If I am wrong, then I guess I will save on gas and propane for eternity! To quote George Carlin, “Imagine grandma in hell! Baking pies, without an oven”.

A.) One could be wrong, but the trade off (waste of a finite existence) is to high a price to pay. To many people (me included!) already waste hours of time just getting by in a cash driven econamy tilted out of their favor.

B.) I don’t know about heaven, but hell is a late addition to the good book (if memory serves). Rather than a place of eternal pain and consequences, it was more, a garbage dump of ancient times. Knowing the conditions of the time period, I can see why it would earn such a designation. Even a modern landfill’s stench is hard for many to stomach. 

3.) Without God, where do you get your morality from? 

My parents, teachers and other role models that I have come across throughout my formative year’s.

First of all, if the morality eluded to by the theists comes from anywhere, it’s from the minds that placed it within the various religions themselves. The believers like to say “Same thing! It’s the word of God breathed though human”. But it really isn’t.

 Religion was originally (obviously) a human construct , and has since been passed down and altered by humans for ages. God (or more accurately, “Deity”) on the other hand, is a concept that has not (can not?) be proven or denied. 2 different balls of wax.

As said before, I suspect that civilisations were of more importance to the creation of morality than any religion. Because you can’t have a civilization in an environment of immoral anarchy. Though religion is a great vehicle for delivering morality, it’s not a source. 

No matter the vehicle of delivery, morality started with us. 

4.) If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded? 

Uh . . .

A.) No. 

If the difference between this anarchy and current morality is REALLY only God and religion for some, that is fucking scary. 

B.) Though the good deeds going unrewarded thing is a bit hard to swallow (likely why so many people like to believe in Karma), it’s funny that the alternative is Christ (the source of the questions was an angry Christian going after an atheist mother).

If memory serves, worship and honor of God and Christ is far more important than earthly good deeds. Thus (in theory) an extremely humanistic and humanitarian minded secularist could be dropped straight in the oven, whilst Hitler the Christian could walk right in the pearly gates and begin his harp lesson. 

No good deed goes unpunished. Is that where that saying comes from?

5.) Where did the universe come from?

That is a question that stumps far brighter minds than this one. I could not even guess where to begin on this question.

So I won’t.

6.) What about miracles? What about all the people that claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those that claim to have seen saints or angels? 

A.) “Miracles” is a very broad term. Like “Truth” or “Evil”, it’s meaning could change with the person. 

And besides, indeed, what about miracles?! They equate nothing more than conjecture at this point. 

B) There are many possible reasons why people may claim to have a connection with Jesus (Mohammed? Buddha?), claim to have seen saints and \or angels, claim to have been to been to heaven\hell and various other claims involving the supernatural. 

An over active imagination (often times based on an expectation of what you think your going to find)? Mental illness? Fatigue?

The list is expansive. 

7.) What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris? 

As a full blown atheist, I had a lot of respect for them. Seeing them as promoters of something I deemed as good (Atheism), I had few (if any) criticisms. I even own at least 1 book by the trio (God is not great (Hitchens), possibility something by Harris), though I have not read it yet. I have a fair amount of books, but being I don’t have a bookshelf to store them for easy accessibility, they sit in my closet in boxes.

 Excuses. . .

Either way, with luck I will have more usable space (and a book shelf of some sort!) soon. So those books on the back burner may well get some attention. Though possibility will not garner the reaction they would have gotten even 2 years ago. 

I try not to say to much on topics I don’t know much about. These 3 fall into that paradigm for the most part. That said however, though I am still largely a layman in term of all things philosophical, I have learned enough passively to spot flaws in various claims and arguments utilized by each of the 3. 

The collective minds of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris are well known in the secular world as the 4 horsemen of nu Atheism\Reason. I have little experience with Dennett’s work (or with him period), hence why I left him out previously. I believe I once came across the name in a Big Think video about Brights, but I could be mistaking him with James Randi (also a prominent Bright). 

If you look through the comments on any of the videos of past debates involving the 4 horsemen, you will find a lot of atheist fanboys. But you will also spot the odd philosopher (or at least a genuine free thinker. Another label that annoys me in its misuse), which is a treat. They are obvious in their counteraction to the flood of fanboy love, often by simply pointing out that their (atheist’s) heroes arguments are not really all THAT great. It’s just easy to win an argument if the opponent is barely more cogent than a baboon. 

Even Bill Nye didn’t do all that great of a job in his fray into debate with Ken Ham. But it didn’t matter, because he was debating . . . Ken Ham. A man that defeated HIMSELF with the “Were you there? Did you see it yourself?” tactics. 

Even intelligent or well educated people can get things wrong. Particularly if they become (voluntarily or not) spokespersons for topics outside their expertise. Hell, people can be well within their expertise and not have a fucking clue (like Ken ham!). 

Ken Ham is an example that anyone can point to. But I have even heard well regarded works by people like Lawrence Krause, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins torn to shreds. And I’m not talking by some glorified baboon of religious background either. We’re talking well educated, well versed people (usually philosophers). 

These counter arguments are often disregarded by the secular proponents BECAUSE they are from philosophers (so called “navel gazers”, to quote a friend of mine that I’ve come to disagree with on this). But that is a weak retort, frankly, akin to what one hears often presented to them in debate. 

Speaking of debate, I have to wonder how many of these people could actually hold their ground in a debate that with wasn’t filled with alike minds, or intellectual novices (in comparison). Like with a philosopher. Noam Chomsky gave us a bit of a taste when he took on Sam Harris. Or I suppose, the reverse. 

Long story short, anyone can be wrong. Even if you respect them, do not keep them beyond reproach.

8.) If there is no God, why does every society have a religion?

I would imagine it was partially because before science had progressed enough to make sense of many mysterious (and possibly scary) natural phenomena, people made their own rationalizations. No doubt that promoters of early forms of modern day religion either rationalized (or exploited) the said explanations, easily fitting them into an already ambiguous story line.

I also mentioned population control previously. Religion is a great way to keep hordes of uneducated peasants in line, whilst also serving as a vehicle for other means. Maybe the people at the top fully bought into the scriptural explanations of natural phenomena (and other religious filler), or maybe they at least somewhat knew better. Who knows. We just know that it worked. 

Still does, since I’m answering these questions.

9.) How do Atheists name their children, if most names have some sort of religious background? 

With a book of baby names? 

When you’re an atheist (or any form of secular), none of the religious (or other supernatural) stuff means anything. Which is why I could name my child Mohammed, or Paul. It does not affect me for the same reason that burning any scripture book would not affect me. Hell, for the same reason burning a flag would not affect me! 

Once  you divorce yourself from the ideology, the sacraments don’t matter. 

10.) Is Atheism a form of Satanism? 

Yes. 

I kid. 

Though there is a form of Satanism that is non-theistic (if it’s anything, it’s a philosophy), Atheism is NOT a form of Satanism. The opposite in fact. To be a genuine Satanist would make one a theist, a believer in a deity. 

I was thinking about just leaving the answer as “Yes” and moving on, explaining only after I’ve covered everything else. But though the reaction would have been hilarious, I decided against it.

 I’ve already pissed in enough atheist cornflakes. 

11.) Why has Atheism become so popular in the 21st century? 

The internet. 

It was around before, but mostly concentrated in places of higher education or higher intellect. Though not exactly forbidden (accepted is another matter . . ), it was not openly available to all. To be exposed to it would usually be a privilege, since higher education costs money.

Technological advances in mass communication would completely change this however. Being that computers and technology  were both more ubiquitous and affordable for the average citizen by the 2000’s, more and more people not only had access to information far beyond their geographical confines, but also access to each other. Idea’s could be found, exchanged and discussed, at times in total secrecy.Atheism had finally found its way out of higher education and into the rest of society. Though it’s spread would be (and to a degree, still is) hidden, largely out of fear of reprisal. Peters dad smacking Brian with a Bible comes to mind.

Now technology has become even more engrained into society. And a whole generation has been born and raised in its footprint.

These days, the young do not have to solely rely on the potentially hostile shared family computer anymore. It’s now common for everyone in the family to have some device (or devices) of their own. And even if it’s still to risky to browse blasphemy on the home connection, there are increasingly reliable 3g\4g\lte networks and ubiquitous wifi access  everywhere. Many more options than one had even 5 years ago. 

Ease of access has made Atheism more popular. And will more than likely continue to do so since the technology is not going away. 

12.) Why do Atheists choose Atheism?

Some people eventually find their way to the conclusion, like me. Others arrive at the conclusion after putting their previous understandings to the test (or having other people do it for them), and having them collapse in the light of criticism. 

Yes, I do call Atheism a conclusion. It is a choice to call yourself an atheist. But the philosophy itself, is a conclusion. And no, it’s not a default either (bugger off with that idiotic Shoe Atheism already!). 

It’s a conclusion. 

13.) Are atheists a threat to the United States? 

Nietzsche would have something to say in answer to this question. If I am grasping the break downs of his work correctly, then he would have been against construction of a society based around a central tenant. But I am a layman dabbling in academic material far beyond my comprehension, so I may well be WAY off. 

As for the more simplified answer, no, atheists and Atheism are not an explicit threat. Any group with to much power can become a problem. But remember, I said ANY group. 

14.) How do Atheists keep a positive outlook on life? 

The atheist cohort is as diverse as any other large non-physical identity cohort. So, many ways. 

Probably many of the same ways that you theists keep yourselves busy. Your not that different from one another.

15.) Why do some atheists insist that Atheism is not a group?

Because they are idiots.

To be fair, the philosophy is indeed stand alone. You can be an atheist without being part of the group of groups collectively known as the atheist community. 

That said, there is a fairly large number that participates in conversation with like minded group’s of atheists. Though they almost universally deny ANY presence of ideological dogmatism, prolonged observation over any sample size of the cohort dispels this. 

To be an atheist does not automatically mean participation (or agreement) with the more vocal subscribers of the philosophy. And of those subscribers, not all are dogmatic. 

But the non-conformists are certainly not easy to find.

16.) Why do many atheists fail to understand that belief does not require proof?

I doubt they fail to comprehend that. I suspect it’s more a matter of you interpreting their criticisms and rebuttals as failure to comprehend your argument. 

You fail, in this case. Not the atheists.

17.) What is paramount for most atheists?

Again, the atheist cohort is incredibly diverse, so you will find much variation to this question depending on the person.

18.) Is it difficult being an atheist? 

Though I do not utilize the label, I can still answer this question. Being I was in the shoe for a good decade.

Was it difficult?

Initially, yes. Being to shy to express myself was a big part of it. As was not knowing how people (particularly family) would react. And so I sat on that bombshell for probably 5 or 6 years . That was until an unfortunate comment on a hilarious photo on Facebook (Jesus fucking Christ, literally) was spread though the Facebook feeds of friends (fucking privacy settings). Like a slap in the face, I woke up to find I was dragged out of the Atheist closet, and one of my aunt’s was PISSED. Not so much about my blasphemy. More, because my then under aged cousin (to young for Facebook) may have seen it. 

Note to parents: Facebook has an age limit for a reason. Because sometimes assholes like me share offensive material that may result in awkward questions from children like “mommy,  what is Jesus doing to that other Jesus?” 

On a similar but off topic note . . . Why the fuck do parents make Facebook accounts for their babies (literally!)?! Not only is it a security risk, it’s also a potential invasion of privacy. If the child were to grow up and for some reason not want exposure online. . . To late! Mommy and\or Daddy have already shared and tagged you permanently into the public record! 

But to get back on track. . . though the first couple years out of the atheist closet were a bit awkward (being around family at gatherings), it went away after awhile. Acceptance I suppose. 

If there ever was a time of persecution and strife due to a change in views, it would be the resistance I ran into whilst trying to advance beyond my then obsolete  label of Agnostic Atheist. A period of bitterness chronicled in various posts in the Atheism Criticisms category. Though the first post made quite a splash (telling atheists to go fuck themselves and renouncing my usage of the term), my views have evolved, as I calm returned in subsequent months. It all eventually leading to this. My first exploration of anything Atheism related for a long time.  

Last dabble into all things Atheism? I guess we will see.