Atheism

A contest of ideas

Quote from Rowan Atkinson

Quote from Rowan Atkinson

What I love so much about democracy and Freedom of Speech is that we can have an open and honest exchange of ideas. We can debate issues, we can question. We do not have to follow any doctrine blindly and unquestioningly.

Today we do not have to buy anything off the rack, we can customise it to suit us and the same goes with our belief systems.

One size does not fit all and so as we grow we listen and observe, we debate and we reason, constantly re evaluating the beliefs we hold dear. At least that is how it is for the women in my family. My mother was brought up a Catholic and now considers herself a Humanist.

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Proselytizing atheists give atheists a bad name

Most people know that I am a Christian. I don’t hide because it is my belief that Christians all too often forget that we are supposed to spread the good news….that we are saved.

I personally can’t stand proselytizing and evangelistic Christians, I think they give Christians a bad name.

But there is another equally annoying group of proselytizing and evangelistic morons out there who are trying desperately…for some reason or another to convince people like me that we are mad, crazy, stupid or all of the above for daring to believe in something.

The thing is they also believe in something, and somewhat more fervently than most of us who believe in what we believe.

One atheist is somewhat annoyed with what he calls “In-Your-Face Atheism”.

The president of American Atheists, David Silverman, defines firebrand atheism as simply telling the truth about religion, with the emphasis on the telling. He says we should make clear that it’s religious beliefs we’re attacking, not the person. He says, “I’m not attacking humans; I’m attacking those humans’ silly beliefs.”

That word “silly” is the problem, as is Silverman’s whole take-no-prisoners assault on religion.

Think about what religion is—a total worldview that lets each believer feel like she’s found meaning and purpose in a bewildering universe. So, it’s not much of a stretch to argue that people are reluctant to give up their religious beliefs when they are intimately tied to their sense of self-worth.

It’s one thing to give up a belief about a political or scientific fact that doesn’t directly affect your life—like whether or not global warming is caused by humans. But it’s another thing to give up a belief that you think determines whether you’ll be strumming a harp with angels or stuck on the business end of the Devil’s pitchfork after you die.

So, if we’re going to change someone’s beliefs, but we’re going to have to resist the temptation to roast them while we’re doing it. But listen to what Silverman has said in his talks promoting firebrand atheism: “Religion is a lie—all of it—that’s the truth.”

“Respect is earned, and religion hasn’t earned any.”

Even if he’s right, the tone of these comments is just going to raise the emotional hackles of your average believer.

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Wednesday nightCap

Bear Grylls and Stephen Fry talk about their beliefs

Two of my favourite people in the world.  Wish I had been there with them at the time

New Years Day nightCap

Did any of you figure out the maze today?  Here is the solution:   Read more »

Are atheists more intelligent than religious people?

Are atheists more intelligent than religious people? Quite possibly, on average.

Tom Chivers comes to the conclusion that even though evidence suggests atheists might be more intelligent than religious people it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are smarter.

[T]he internet is currently interested in a meta-analysis, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, which finds that atheists have a higher IQ, on average, than the religious. They base this on a review of 63 studies, but, as the authors say, this news isn’t new. The evidence has been around for a while.

There are several reasons given, including a suggestion that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to need empirical and logical reasons to believe something; and, interestingly, that the things that religion does for people (helping them to delay gratification for greater future reward; providing an “anchor” in their life in hard times) intelligent people have less need for, because they use other methods. It’s an interesting study.  Read more »

The wandering flock, addressing secularisation

Mary Eberstadt explores why religion is waning in favour of secularisation and explores the difficulty a new Pope will have with the wandering flock:

So what’s a Pope to do? He can start by understanding one critical truth that has not been well understood so far: the puzzle of secularization is not only his to solve. Secular sociology has written the intellectual script about how godlessness happens but has gotten it wrong.

Secularization is not, for example, the inevitable result of affluence, as many have said; statistically, men and women who are better-off in the United States today, for example, are more likely to believe and practice faith than are those further down the economic ladder. The same was true of Victorian England, as the British historian Hugh McLeod has painstakingly shown. Mammon alone does not necessarily drive out God.  Read more »

Penn Jillette says we should end religion, but what would Andrei and Lucia use for a crutch then?

Penn Jillette is a well known atheist and he says we should end religion, but if that happened what would Andrei and Lucia use for a crutch then?

Religion cannot and should not be replaced by atheism. Religion needs to go away and not be replaced by anything. Atheism is not a religion. It’s the absence of religion, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Religion is not morality. Theists ask me, “If there’s no god, what would stop me from raping and killing everyone I want to.” My answer is always: “I, myself, have raped and killed everyone I want to … and the number for both is zero.” Behaving morally because of a hope of reward or a fear of punishment is not morality. Morality is not bribery or threats. Religion is bribery and threats. Humans have morality. We don’t need religion.

Interesting concept…let’s look further  Read more »

Christopher Hitchens dies

Christopher Hitchens has died.

Author Christopher Hitchens has died of cancer at the age of 62,Vanity Fair has reported.

The magazine said he died today after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer last year while on a book tour for his memoir “Hitch-22″.

Vanity Fair’s website reported that he died at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, surrounded by friends, whom he described earlier this year  as “my chief consolation in this year of living dyingly” after writing last year  that “cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic”.

Hitchens  was known for his heroic intake of alcohol and cigarettes. He wrote in 2003 that his daily intake of alcohol was enough to “stun the average mule”.

He said he had given up smoking in 2008, but journalist and author Peter FitzSimons, who interviewed him for his appearance the 2010 Sydney Writers’ Festival, said Hitchens had been still smoking as of last year.

Hitchens was a columnist for Vanity Fair and Slate, the online magazine, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book God is Not Great.

I don’t subscribe to Hitchens’ views on religion or God. However he was a great intellect and he is now gone. As an antitheist and atheist he is now…well…at an end.

Why do atheists thank god?

An interesting concept I’ve often wondered about. The latest atheist to thank God is Russel Norman:

Katya is now in good health after a long and serious illness, superbly treated by the public health system. “Thank God – I mean, I’m an atheist, but thank God for the public health system,” Norman says.

There are a lot of things that I thank God for but a public health system isn’t one of them. Given his stupendous public salary why couldn’t he use the private system and reduce the burden on the public health system?