Category Archives: Atheism

Republican Dominated Florida Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Prayer In School | Addicting Info

I read this article earlier tonight…

Republican Dominated Florida Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Prayer In School | Addicting Info.

Despite the fact that they’re sticking up for the anti-religious perspective, this article frustrates me more than most on this website. I am definitely an atheist. If you look to the atheist section in the menu to the left, my Atheism category, or my article, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime, you’ll see that I don’t hold back nor apologize when attacking religion. However, I feel like this article and many of the comments below it are being unfair toward Christianity and even more unfair to the students. Granted, I don’t know the whole story of how the bill would work and I’m suspicious of anything that has lots of conservative religious support, but this article feels overly paranoid and fearful, claiming this bill will open up avenues of hate speech and religious indoctrination, and cause student conflicts. I don’t know. I say we should calm down about it. They claim this is religion pushing their views on us, but that almost sounds like the same argument the conservatives make about homosexuality… that simply allowing people to be who they are openly in public is synonymous with them forcing their lifestyles upon us.

From this article, the bill almost seems like a good thing, and seems like it has as much chance of bringing positive change as it does negative, while giving the students a little more power over their school assemblies. I’m not totally sure, of course, that I would support this bill if I was a Floridian. I would have to read more about it, and learn more about school policies, but as an Atheist, I think it’s important to say something when I think that the “war on religion” might not be playing fair, and make it clear that no matter how strong my atheist values are, and how much I believe religion is a virus, I do not support the censorship of anyone’s spirituality and don’t necessarily support the hard-line approach our public schools take toward religion.

From what the article says, the bill basically allows students to put together “inspirational speeches” that are allowed to include religious references and statements. The teachers and administrators aren’t allowed to edit or censor the student-controlled speeches, though administrators will be able to place wider guidelines, and like anything related to kids and schools, the parents and teachers have the potential of manipulating the kids, as though religious individuals are really good at controlling their kids. The bill supposedly has some hypocritical wording, but that’s kind of par for the course with government bills in my opinion.

One argument is that “The board could simply only allow Christian themed messages, which would alienate religions such as Islam and Judaism”. I think that while technically this is possible, we need to calm down and not jump to the conclusion that this is a Christian conspiracy to force themselves upon us. I think our society has gotten to the point where if administrators blatantly allowed only Christian speeches, enough people would protest to make it not worth their while in the long run, but if I’m wrong, simply banning all religious-related speech in schools doesn’t solve the underlying problems. It merely hides the issue. If this did happen and administrators refused to back down from these Christian-only policies, at least it would bring the issue out in the open and people would be forced to look into permanent solutions instead of just banning everything without thinking about whether or not that serves the greater, long-term good.

I’ve had lots of religious friends over the years and overwhelmingly it was my religious friends and the time I spent as a Christian that inspired me to be an Atheist. I have many, many gripes about religion, which you’ll see if you explore this website, but surprisingly them forcing their religion upon me on an individual level isn’t really one of them… sure, I don’t like most public policies put forth by religious organizations. (“In God We Trust” has no business on our money). But on an individual level, most religious people I’ve met have been very reasonable and respectful of everyone’s freedom of speech and from what it sounds like, there isn’t anything in the bill that specifically gives Christianity any more power than any other religion or non-religion.

I feel like censoring religion kind of gives it more power. We’ve pretty much banned religion outright from public schools, but somehow we have one of the most religious countries in the world. Censoring Atheism on the other hand, gives us less power, because Atheism makes sense while religion does not. If we allow everyone to speak freely and equally, without censoring the discussion afterward, I don’t see how opening up the lines of communication could be anything but good for the Atheist perspective, and would be good for everyone in the long run. Granted, the locals need to be vigilant that Christian administrators don’t enforce Christian-only messages, but I think the benefits would outweigh the risk of this happening, and people need to be vigilant with school administrators anyway, considering some of the policies they’re placing on our kids.

In High-School I was frequently forced to watch football propaganda, filled with lame pop music piped over crackly speakers with football players jumping through big sheets of paper and cheerleaders screaming about how our school was better than all the other schools. I was an Atheist in High-School, but I still would have preferred to see another student giving a religious speech he had written himself, over what we had in our spirit assemblies.

My junior year one teacher decided that everyone in the school had to say the flag salute so he enforced this every morning by getting over the speakers and forcing us to be a part of this. I always felt this was a form of worship that is every bit as dangerous as religion. They are blindly worshiping a piece of fabric that represents a nation that has a very morally questionable history and they’re doing it on a daily basis. Why are liberals not upset about this? To me this is a far more egregious affront to the personal liberties and viewpoints of students than is allowing a few of them to say some God-related words at an assembly.

When we first started I would stand for the flag salute. I was bitter about it, but I didn’t want to get in trouble. Then another student told me that he never stood for the flag salute, as a protest of the policies of the US government, particularly the drug war and foreign policy (Bill Clinton was bombing people). I started staying seated for the flag salute and what I found was that only a few people were put off by it. Some found it funny, and a couple found it offensive, but the overwhelming majority didn’t care one way or the other. The ones who found it offensive, however, for the most part confronted me about it in a reasonable and polite manner and I explained that I was opposed to military occupation and bombing of other countries and felt it was my moral obligation to avoid supporting that. For the most part this put their concerns at ease, and I don’t remember ever once getting hassled about it…

…with one possible exception. I had a class, coincidentally with this same buddy who also refused to stand, and the teacher would snap his fingers at us and give us rude looks. This lasted for maybe a week and finally we talked to him after class and basically told him he was fighting a losing battle and that if he pushed us on this we’d be filing a complaint. He backed down pretty much instantly and it ceased to be an issue.

My point is that rebellious individuals have options even if it does become overly Christian-dominated, as long as they are aware they have options. I think liberals would have their agenda better served in the long run by trying to teach students about the powers they really hold and teaching them to stand up for their beliefs and their rights instead of simply banning anything that has a possibility of indirectly infringing on their rights, while ignoring other policies that clearly and directly infringe.

For example, attendance policies. To make this issue a whole lot easier, simply lighten attendance policies, particularly when it comes to assemblies, and allow students the basic human right of getting up and walking out on a speech they find offensive. This, to me, is the root of the problem, and banning religion is merely a temporary solution to the underlying problems.

I agree that religion has no place in science class any more than it has in math (ever heard a teacher say “sometimes two plus two equals five if you pray really hard”), but trying to prevent any mention of it at all, I think, is counter-productive.

As one commenter pointed out, this could backfire on the Republicans… assuming this is motivated by a purely Christian agenda, which at first glance, I don’t believe it is. Students may, for example, vote for Pagan inspirational speeches… or for that matter, Atheist inspirational speeches. Why wouldn’t they? When I was in high-school I would have voted for anything that broke the monotony. Atheists are being censored in public schools too. They’re not allowed to get up and talk about the positives of not having a God any more than a Christian can talk about how much they love Jesus, so how can we be sure that some dedicated Atheist or Muslim kid, or for that matter, some kid who invented his own belief-system, isn’t going to be able to write a speech that can get voted in by the student body? Despite having a few students get offended in school, which already happens for a wide variety of reasons, I think it could actually be a good thing to open up these kind of conversations.

Religion: It’s Just not Worth It

Today I got a response to a recent blog post, Why I Need to be Outspoken About Atheism, a short post I made about a few old friends who did crazy, destructive things because of religion. Since I get so few comments on anything other than my WordPress plugins, I figured I’d give Steve’s comment it’s own post.

I find your experiences horrifying as well, sadly I see that none of them disprove God but instead prove the easy degree to which human nature is perverted to violence, and self destruction. While this happens in the name of religion, it also happens for many other reasons. Many of these reasons are intertwined within each other wealth, and the lack of it, respect, a sense of belonging, and the list goes on. Having grown up surrounded by those who believed everything from Satan to the idea that they were vampires who could go out in daylight, what I find is not that God does not exist, but that human beings need the ability to separate fact from fiction. The idea that certain books of the bible for example are literal truth is laughable, many are creation stories and myths the same as any other culture, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important, but the stories of Adam and Eve hold as much truth for me as the stories of Oberon and Titania. This does not mean that I doubt a higher power is responsible for the creation of my universe, only that the only human way to understand this is to be carefully grounded in reality. I am sorry that religion, and specifically the Christian religion has done you so much harm, it should never have happened that way. I would love to converse intelligently as I have often found that discussions with Atheists yield more religious truth than those who dub themselves, “believers,” because the believers never try to understand their faith, and outsiders see things differently. I hope you take this message in the spirit it was given, and I look forward to reading some of your work, your writing just in response to this comment seemed clear, concise and well thought out.

My Response:

Thanks for commenting, Steve. I appreciate the attention.

My blog post wasn’t trying to disprove the existence of God. That’s a whole other topic which I tend to avoid. Many other atheist blogs are doing a great job of scientifically and logically arguing against the existence of God, but I feel those arguments frequently fall flat, particularly with non-believers, because God is largely an emotional issue rather than a logical one. I prefer to focus on the emotional benefits of Atheism and leave the proving and disproving to the scientists.

It’s true that “human nature is perverted to violence, and self destruction” by many different things, but that does not excuse religion from doing it too. A drunk driver cannot argue that because sober people sometimes fall asleep at the wheel, he’s not responsible for endangering people’s lives. If you compare drunk driving statistics with my religion and crime statistics, you’ll see that a relatively small percentage of automobile accidents are actually alcohol related, while the overwhelming majority of crime in the United States is committed by people under the influence of religion. Why should religion get a free pass when we hold other things accountable?

This discrepancy is particularly obvious when you remember that alcohol companies do not tell the public that alcohol will make you a better person. They never claim that it’s necessary for a  happy marriage or that non-drinkers have no morals.

You say that human beings need the ability to separate fact from fiction, and with that I completely agree. That’s exactly why I write these posts. Unfortunately the mere concept of God is a part of that fiction. (Well… in all honesty it’s not unfortunate for me. I love living in a world without God. These are our lives. We can be whoever we want to be and build ourselves up to whatever we might want for ourselves.) Once you believe in God, you open the door to any other kind of spiritual belief. If God is possible, anything is possible, so I don’t think it’s fair to imply that people who believe in witches or Satan are any crazier than someone who merely believes in God.

You may have abstracted your belief in God out away from your day-to-day life. You probably (just taking a guess here) believe in evolution, for example, but think it’s guided by a distant hand that doesn’t interfere directly with us, but nevertheless is looking out for us. That’s fine for you, and it may work for now, but unfortunately it legitimizes the next guy who comes along and believes in a more direct kind of God who talks to people and tells them to jump off bridges.

Take certain hard drugs like heroin or cocaine for example. The majority of people who use these drugs are responsible users, only doing it once every few years or just trying it out a couple times in their life. A coke dealer might point to this majority of people to legitimize what he does, but there’s always going to be the occasional person who takes it to the next level and seriously damages themselves.

The real question should be, ‘is it worth it?’ Does the benefit of something justify the risk and long-term problems associated with it? For things like heroin or cocaine, I think they most likely do not. From what I’ve witnessed in my life, religious people see little to no benefit from religion. They are not smarter; they are not happier; their relationships don’t last any longer; they’re not any better at dealing with grief or hardship; they’re not any more successful; and they’re not any better at maintaining their lives than anyone else. It’s just a different way of seeing life and people seem to defend it based on little more than it’s just how they’ve always seen things. Most don’t even seem to enjoy going to church. When something provides so few real, tangible benefits but then causes my friends and neighbors to jump off bridges and go on killing sprees, I say no; It’s definitely not worth it.

All Dogs go to Heaven

I found this page hilarious. Two competing churches putting up a series of reader-board signs, arguing with each other. I think this is a good demonstration on how inconsistent religion really is. Every church claims their way of looking at their religion is the only right way, and they can never agree, yet when arguing with outsiders, they all claim that they’re unified.

If all churches had the same attitudes that Our Lady of Martyrs has, I’d have a much more difficult time being an atheist, but unfortunately, most seem to be more like the Cumberland Presbyterian.

So this back-and-forth started with Martyrs putting out their sign saying “All dogs go to heaven” and the church across the street responded with “Only humans go to heaven read the Bible”. Now, I don’t know what the Bible actually says about this idea of pets getting into heaven, so I can’t argue it on that point, but on a purely emotional level, the idea that the cats and dogs that we love and include in our family aren’t deserving of the same afterlife is kinda disturbing. Considering the degree to which people love their cats and dogs, this seems emotionally and spiritually repulsive to me and is a wonderful example of how religion can strip a person of compassion and empathy.

Two churches located across the street from each other. At least the Catholics have a sense of humor.

Why I Need to be Outspoken About Atheism

Someone posted this on my Genesis Bible Commentary page and since I don’t get too many comments around here, I thought it warranted its own post.

I must confess that I have not read you commentary, just seen some of your pages while looking for something else.
But  I was just wondering why someone who clearly does not believe in God go to such extreme lengths to proof it. Like someone building a plane to proof that a plane can not fly.
Just let go! If you carry on reading and studying like this you run the risk of becoming a believer! Enjoy your carefree life, I mean, if you are dead you are dead, why worry.

Hi Josua, thanks so much for stopping by and inquiring. It’s a fair question, but it would also be fair to ask a MADD member why they want to stop people from drunk driving or why an interventionist keeps trying to get people to go to treatment or why social workers are always trying to convince people to end their abusive relationships. Because we care about people other than ourselves.

You must understand, I’ve seen some pretty awful things happen in the name of religion, and I had some very intense, insane, and in retrospect, terrifying experiences during the couple years I was a believer. I also had a friend who put a knife to a woman’s throat over a religious disagreement. I had another who jumped off a bridge because Jesus told him he could fly. I’ve had two close friends (two that confided in me about this, anyway) who were depressed and borderline suicidal because they were convinced that God hated them and wanted them to suffer. I have seen enough effects from religion to know these are not just isolated incidents.

And finally, I had a next-door neighbor, whose family actually introduced me to God when I was a kid, who murdered six people in the name of Jesus in 2008.

It’s hard to see all this needless suffering and not want to speak up to try to make a difference. I feel sometimes like I could have saved those six people if I had just wandered to the end of the road and given my neighbors grief for what they believed. I was too respectful, or too shy or young, or just didn’t care. Maybe I never could have made a difference, but I’ll never know. I don’t ever want to feel like that again, so I decided that I wasn’t going to hold back in my fight against the insanity.

I totally respect and care about all the religious folks out there who are being victimized and don’t realize it, but I don’t feel obligated to respect a religion that promises to “draw people toward goodness” and pretends like it’s bringing communities together, then turns around and directly causes this much suffering in my friends and neighbors. I do, however, feel an obligation to speak the truth and help others avoid that suffering.

Bible Commentary Out of Context?

So here’s a comment from someone about my Genesis Bible Commentary that I felt I should address, even though it’s not really saying much. So here it is:

Dude…I got 4 words – “Way – Out – Of – Context.” Reread, and this time flush the cynicism. You’re not doing yourself aaaany favors. Sometimes, when we try to make a fool out of something, we ourselves are made the fool instead.

** 1Godless fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt.
They do disgusting things.
There is no one who does good things.
2The Lord looks down from heaven on Adam’s descendants
to see if there is anyone who acts wisely,
if there is anyone who seeks help from God.

And my response:

How come you didn’t give me any examples of what’s taken out of context? It’s not like I took a quote from the middle of the Bible without reading the surrounding verses. I started from the very beginning of the Bible, and as far as I know, didn’t leave anything out prior to the 28th chapter. If you don’t give a specific example, or outline your reasoning for saying it’s out of context, then it’s hard for me not to jump to the conclusion that you’ve merely heard the phrase “out of context” in religious arguments before and thought it sounded good.

However, I think what you may be talking about is a context that exists either outside of the Bible, or in later chapters of the bible. This reminds me of something that frequently happens in serious writers group meetings:

A young writer who thinks he’s all hot stuff and brilliant shows up to a writers group with a story or the first chapter of his novel, and the group starts work-shopping it. After the group reads it, they all say the same basic thing: it sucks. The characters aren’t believable, the plot doesn’t make sense, the emotion is too melodramatic, etc.

The writer then gets defensive because he’s got such a deep emotional investment in his writing. He immediately says “Well, you’ve got to understand the context…” and goes on to talk about character backgrounds or differences in culture or things that come later in the story. The group then must stop him and say, “Hey, when someone sits down to read your book, you’re not going to be there standing over their shoulder to explain things. Any context you need the reader to have must be contained in your story. That’s all you have is your words on the page. You can’t assume your reader is going to have any of the same preconceptions or values as you.”

I think what might be an issue is that you are thinking too much like an agnostic/non-religious person. You’re looking at the bible from the perspective of someone who has already formed their moral viewpoints based on logic, compassion, and real-world cause-and-effect. In normal situations that’s a very good thing, but for this discussion I think it’s confusing your perspective.

If you publish a book in the United States in 2011, for example, you can make a number of assumptions about your readers. You can assume they believe slavery is wrong, they believe women should be treated as equals, and they all know what a car is. The Bible, on the other hand, was written 2000 years ago and needs to be able to apply to all the cultures throughout the whole planet that have existed since then, and cannot afford to make any of those assumptions. Most of the moral assumptions we make in our society can’t be made here, because not all cultures have the same moral values. All necessary context must be pulled entirely from the words on the page.

When you read the Bible you’re coming from your own modern perspective which has been thoroughly infiltrated (thankfully) by science and logic. Your conscious logic twists and manipulates the meanings of the Bible to fit your non-religious, agnostic preconceptions about right and wrong, so that you can pretend like your moral values came from this book rather than from the atheist hidden deep in your heart.

When I read these 27 chapters from the Bible, I chose to do whatever I could to turn off all my preconceptions about moral values, right and wrong, and the state of the spirit world. I did everything I could to make my mind a blank slate, and judge the verses based on nothing but the words on the page. It was difficult, and I’m not sure how good a job I did, but that is what I tried to do, and this Bible commentary is honestly what I came up with, and is what I believe I would be thinking if I truly did have absolutely no moral or spiritual preconceptions… which isn’t even possible, but it’s a fun hypothetical.

Now, admittedly, there was some cynicism. I just couldn’t help it, because the conclusions I was coming to were so insane that I just couldn’t help but be cynical about them. Obviously I couldn’t free myself of my atheist bias, but I did the best I could.

Now, if you think I’m just manipulating and misrepresenting a good book into something twisted and wrong, then please try an experiment for me: go randomly select a Disney movie, then try to find a way to perceive it as promoting slavery or some other form of serious moral degradation in the same way the Bible does. Find some humanist or atheist brochures and try to do the same thing. Let me know what you come up with.

——————————————-

So next, to address the Bible quote you threw out, I must say, I don’t see how that relates to anything you’re trying to say. It’s just a way for you to express your hatred of non-believers through the proxy of the Bible.

Have you ever heard the theory that the people who are most hateful toward gays are doing so because they are afraid of their own homosexual tendencies? I think this is often true of many people who show such vehement hatred toward atheists. You don’t want to admit that many, or even most of your perceptions about life and morality come from places that have nothing to do with your religion, many of which contradict the Bible or religious teachings. You’re terrified and ashamed of that little independent thinker that’s trapped deep inside you, so you lash out at anyone who openly admits to being one.

Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors

Here’s another comment made on my 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime page. He also made some other comments, which I addressed in my three previous blog posts.

What you call Christians are not exactly Christians, since they have been raised by atheists in the American school systems and indoctrinated with atheistic propaganda. They are a kind of Chimera.

This can explain why especially American Christians are often not internally coherent in their moral logic. However, I must say that many things you defend are equally inconsistent with sound reasoning.

Masturbation, while enjoyable to many, is a detriment to creation of family, a biological necessity. Fertility rates decrease during a time when one masturbates regularly.

Homosexuality, while compelling for many, is likewise a detriment for similar reasons to masturbation, though without the decrease in fertility. However, if you are taking on the feminine role in the relationship the estrogen levels can be driven quite high, suppressing the testosterone and consequently diminishing the fertility – not that it matters, since it is not so likely a homosexual will take the opportunity to procreate with a woman.

The biological necessity as an organism to procreate is about as materialistic as you can get. Yet, many materialists denigrate its significance in order to protect their views that homosexuality should be protected – chiefly because it is a stand that brings in supporters against their hated opponents, Christians.

What do you think?

And my response:

I think it’s a pretty convenient argument to make whenever a Christian behaves in an immoral manner, you just say, “Oh, well that wasn’t a real Christian.” It pretty much guarantees that you can do no wrong. Too bad nobody ever points out the fake Christians before they do something awful.

Now, if you think all the immoral behavior seen in Christians is actually coming from atheist propaganda, then that’s a testable theory. If you were to analyze all the Christians who were home-schooled under a purely Christian mode of thinking, do you really think the statistics would be any different? Do you really think they’d be dramatically more moral than their atheist or fake-Christian counterparts?

And if atheist propaganda is so evil and corrupting, then why aren’t atheists committing more crime?

——————

So, masturbation and homosexuality are wrong because they diminish our ability to procreate? Are you worried that these things will take over society and everyone will stop having straight sex? Even if that were even remotely possible, what would stop people from loving babies and consciously wanting more of them or wanting to continue the species?

Are you seriously afraid human beings will stop making babies and go extinct because we’re masturbating or having too much gay sex, or are you simply grasping for straws in your argument? I mean, lets be honest, you know you first decided that homosexuality and masturbation were wrong, then you came up with these arguments to justify your opinion.

If procreation is so important, why are religions not opposed to other things that reduce procreation, such as birth control? I’m sure there’s a lot of food additives out there that reduce our fertility more than homosexuality, so why doesn’t the church ever take issue with things of that nature? Why are people who choose not to have children not considered evil too?

And why is procreation so important anyway? Are you not aware of the overpopulation issues on our planet, the fact that a billion people struggle for food every day and live packed into endless cities, or the fact that many unwanted children are roaming the streets? Why are homosexuals and masturbators so evil for not contributing to these problems?

——————-

Now, this talk about feminine relationship roles and estrogen levels kind of surprised me. Do you actually have any gay friends? Have you read about studies on homosexuality? I would be very curious to hear what you actually have to support your estrogen levels theory.

——————–

And in your last paragraph, you pull out that “materialism” word again, which seems to be a subtle way of demonizing us, implying that we don’t care about anything other than physical objects. I don’t think it’s fair to be labeled something I am not.

I’d never heard of materialism until I was accused a few months ago of believing in it, so I don’t know much about it. From what I’ve seen, however, it seems to be a simple physics theory that helps us understand how the universe works. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with moral values or what people should or shouldn’t value on a human level. You’re taking a simple theory regarding physics and blowing it up into something that tells us what values we should hold as human beings.

Now, you ended by claiming that atheists are hateful toward Christians. Admittedly there is some truth in this. You must understand that many atheists have been deeply hurt by religion, possibly because they were religious themselves, or were influenced by religion, and it drove them to make poor life choices, such as myself, or because they were hurt by someone trusted in the faith, or because someone they knew did something horrible in the name of religion, or because they watched it destroy someone’s life.

However, we don’t wish anyone to be punished for their beliefs the way many wish hell on us. Threatening someone with hell and wishing them to suffer for all eternity is deeply hurtful and can be worse than threatening someone with a knife, and if hell is actually real, then it is significantly worse. I don’t see atheists using fear in that way. We also don’t purposefully try to hurt feelings the way religious individuals call us abominations and claim we’re in league with Satan or say that love drives us insane. Some of us can be hateful toward religion, true, but for the most part, we are not hateful toward the people involved in religion. We see you as victims, not as hated enemies.

 



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Atheists Don’t Believe in Love?

The last two days I’ve posted a couple responses to comments made by the same reader, on my page, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime. Here’s  one responding to some of the individual points I made, and then another one relating to the statistics I quoted that show prisons are incredibly packed with religious people. Here’s another of his comments, followed by my response.

The stability of a person’s personality in response to moral dilemma’s is dependent on whether they are willing and able to change their behavior to match the moral expectations.

If they cannot or are ultimately unwilling to conform to their view of moral requirements, even if the unwillingness is at a subconscious level, then they must adjust in other ways. There is contradiction, which indicates a logical adherence in the first place, and negates some of your previous arguments.

It is true that some of these people go mad. It is similarly true that many atheists have gone mad due to incoherence of their materialistic views of people and others’ persistent love towards them. Love drives atheists mad.

I’d agree with your first statement, though I don’t understand how it’s relevant. I believe religion affects a person’s willingness and ability to change their behavior.

Now, in your second paragraph, you kind of lost me. Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. What contradiction are you talking about? Is it based on the theory you present in the third paragraph…

…and your third paragraph just blew me away. You seem to be claiming that atheists don’t believe in love. “Love drives atheists mad”, you say.

Seriously? I don’t even know how to respond to that.

But I’ll try.

You accused me of using a straw man argument in a previous comment, but take a look at your assertion of our “materialistic views” and your theory that atheists can’t understand why people feel love. I mean, talk about changing your opponent’s viewpoint to something easier to attack! I fear the real issue may be that you can’t understand or feel love without connecting it to your God, and simply assume that no one else can either.

I’ve never claimed to be a materialist. I don’t know any atheists who have claimed to be materialists. This is a term that at this point is intended to demonize a segment of the population more than it is an actual description of a viewpoint. The idea of materialism may be important when getting physics to work, but that doesn’t mean it applies to moral behavior or emotions. Don’t assume that we only care about material things and that love isn’t important to us, simply because we don’t have grand, supernatural fantasies to explain our emotions. We feel just as much as anyone else. We love just as much as anyone else. We have just as much passion, compassion, and drive for life as anyone else. Our relationships are just as successful. Our marriages last just as long (slightly longer according to some studies). We create just as amazing artwork. And we strive, just as much as anyone else, to make the world a better place.



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Religious Criminals are Liars?

Yesterday I posted a response to a comment made by a reader on my 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime page. He made a few other comments on the page, so here they are, followed by my responses:

You also ignore the prison ministries that have tried to change prisoners’ attitudes toward life. Many of them become Christians in order to convince the parole board they have changed. They hope to be let out sooner than expected. When they poll religious views of prisoners they all say they are innocent of their crimes and they suddenly believe in God. So the point you’ve made is absurd.

Well, I think you ignored the second little statistic at the top of the page that talked about religious training. This is referring to religious training as children, before they ever became criminals.

You say that prison ministries are trying to change attitudes, but the statistics show that people are more likely to recommit after being in prison, so they’re not doing the greatest job of it, and yet churches everywhere continue to claim that religion makes you a better person.

You then say that many become Christians to appeal to the parole board, but in your previous comment you claimed that our prisons are controlled by atheists and they heavily discriminate against theists, which accounts for the statistics. If this were true, why would these prisoners be doing this?

If you talk to prisoners you find that, for many of them, religion is all they have, and it means a tremendous amount to them. It’s hard to fake that. Even if they were faking it, they would still be surrounded by religion. They’d still have to read the books and attend church to keep up the facade. If religion is really so affective at making people good, wouldn’t all that religious immersion have at least some positive affect on them?

Now, this is totally unrelated and irrelevant to this conversation, but I had to throw in the point that, for a criminal looking for parole, joining a religion and claiming innocence are two very different things. I don’t see how a parole board is going to want to parole someone who is obviously guilty, but still in denial. It seems like the prisoners would be shooting themselves in the foot by claiming innocence. I personally think it’s likely that there’s more innocent prisoners admitting guilt for the sake of the parole board than guilty people claiming innocence.

However, your point here is a real world, testable defense, and I like that. If this were true, we could confirm it scientifically with further testing.

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I think your reaction to the statistics at the top is an emotional one, so lets try looking at this in a hypothetical, less emotional context.

Let’s say you’ve got a multi-billion dollar, international company that sells nothing but products that prevent cancer. Most people in the world believe they work. The scientists that tested the products all believe they work, and they have a number of chemical and logical formulas to back up their assumptions.

But then, once deployed into the real world, a few people start doing statistical analysis of the people using these products and finds that on average, they are actually more likely to gain cancer, not less, at least from a statistical perspective.

The company would then make defenses. “The test group wasn’t large enough”, “the analysts were biased”, “those people were all living under power lines”, “they weren’t using the products properly.” They’d have explanations for these statistics, and many of them would be convincing. However, neither the company nor its loyal customers are able to provide any other statistics to counter the originals, nor can they produce any solid evidence that their explanations are correct.

Now, would it be ethical at this point to simply write off these statistical findings as irrelevant and rely on the data that came from the labs or the company’s advertising, or our inherent belief that these products work?

No. These are people’s lives we’re talking about here. If there’s any evidence that these products don’t do what they claim to, we have a moral obligation to explore more deeply, to do everything we can to produce real world, confirmable evidence, and to really address the issue, rather than just attacking people who bring it up and sweeping it under the rug.



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Response to 22 Ways

I received a few comments the other day on my page 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime and I’d like to respond to some of this person’s points. I added the numbers to his paragraphs to more easily reference them in my response.

1) Do you know how cliche this is?

2) Your use of statistics is ridiculous. If a law is controlled by antagonists of religion then many practitioners of religion will be in prison and many who are opposed to religion (atheists) will be free.

3) Your first point shows your argument is weak by the fact that you do not accurately represent your opponent’s viewpoint. It is a straw man you are attacking, not an actual practice. Therefore, your point is empty.

4) The second point shows similar weaknesses in your argument, though you are starting to espouse your worldview at this point. We see that you are a materialist, which in itself is untenable. You must turn off your compassion switch for others to redefine such abstractions and invisibles as Love in materialist terms of chemicals and neurons firing.

5) The third point is a very good point, indeed! There are many, not only religious adherents, who believe this. Atheists have been just as guilty. Consider the Socialist Communist movements that led up to Soviet Communism. Lenin had the same feelings about a grand scheme, related to the flow of inevitable events of the universe. In his case, time proved him right, though temporarily so.

6) In point number four you return to that weakness again. You obviously have not stepped inside a church and listened to your opponent since about the 1960′s have you?

7) Point 5 is more futility based on your straw man. It also reveals your narrow definition of logic. To have prioritized dependencies on the origins of morally causal relationships does not exclude logic, but deepens it to a realistic model of the world. So having a view of a reward and a punishment from a higher being than us actually emulates the society we have built anyway. The metaphorical modeling, whether religion models our society or society models our religion, it works. What doesn’t work is the pressure put on a majority of people when the system they live in tries to ignore their practices as a legitimate expression of life. It always erupts into social upheaval.

8 ) I doubt you will approve my comment and it is probably too long to post. So this is likely a waste of time. Likewise, my experience with atheists and antagonists of religion is that they are too narrow minded to allow opposing views. It is fear that drives them to do it.

9) What do you think?

And my response:

1) I think calling this page cliche is more of an attempt to discourage people from talking about these issues than it is a real rebuttal. Being cliche isn’t relevant to whether or not these theories are true. The image of a beer drinking football fan is cliche too, but that doesn’t mean football fans don’t drink beer.

For me, however, this isn’t cliche. It’s not like I copied my theories from anywhere. I wrote this page long before I had ever read any atheist blogs, articles or books.

I was in my early twenties before I realized these statistics existed. I had always assumed prisons were full of mostly atheists, since I had always been told that religion makes you a better person. It never occurred to me that people would be so irresponsible as to claim something prevents crime without statistical or at the very least, anecdotal evidence.

2) So basically you’re saying that our laws in America are almost entirely controlled by atheists–despite the fact that the majority of the population is Christian–and that we atheists are so biased and hateful toward theists that we can somehow get away with discriminating against them to absurd levels? What about all the judges and police who are Christians? They’re incriminating the same ratios of people. You’re not going to convince me of anything by throwing out a massive, unconfirmed conspiracy theory.

3) So if I understand you, you’re saying that religions don’t teach the idea that hell is where ‘evil’ people or people of the wrong religion go to suffer? People talk about hell all the time. I see signs in front of churches threatening it. I’ve had friends tell me I was going to burn there because of my beliefs. It sounds like your church might not teach this kind of thing, as I know many do not, and I’m glad. I respect that. I’m not attacking those churches in that particular point. I’m not claiming these 22 points apply in an absolute manner to all religions, but you can’t deny that many churches do teach this concept of hell and the religious community as a whole doesn’t do much to try to convince them to stop.

4) Now, with this, I think you took issue with the fact that I mentioned neurons firing in the brain. Being aware that emotions exist as chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain does absolutely nothing to dampen those emotions. If anything it heightens human emotions and the magic of our existence because you realize it’s all born out of millions of years of the beautiful symphony that is evolution, and that it’s so fragile that we can’t afford to take it for granted. I have too much passion and compassion to be willing to dumb down this massive, mind-bogglingly amazing system of our lives, to something as simple as, “This awesome guy up in heaven made it.”

5) I don’t see how a real atheist could get caught up in any kind of great plan, unless it was something admittedly man made like a government plan. Anything “related to the flow of inevitable events of the universe” is not an atheistic belief. Thats one of the things we specifically don’t believe in is “inevitable events of the universe”, at least when it comes to human issues. It’s true that a few atheists have gotten involved in some nasty government related things, but the atheism was not a motivating factor. Just because a few people have done something wrong doesn’t excuse churches from promoting that same wrongdoing, particularly when they are claiming that they prevent said wrongdoing.

6) Again, I’m not talking about all churches here. Many don’t promote the concept of hell, and again, I respect that and this point is not directed at them. However, it’s very common to hear from people of many different religions that hell is necessary for a moral society.

7) So I’m not sure if I follow what you’re saying in this one. In paragraph 3 and 6 of your comments, you seem to be saying that I’m ignorant for thinking that religions teach that hell is a place of punishment for bad people. Then here in #7 you refer to that ignorance again, but then you tell me that a punishment in the afterlife works very well to keep society in order. You’re promoting the very thing you claim religions do not promote… unless I completely misunderstood what you were saying in 3 and 6.

So you’re saying here that the “metaphorical modeling” of heaven and hell, “works”. Unfortunately, I think the statistics at the top of the page kind of fly in the face of that statement. Admittedly, those statistics could be biased, confused, or otherwise incorrect, but you’ve offered no examples, statistics, or even anecdotal evidence to support your assertion that a religious system works. All you seem to be going on is the fact that you believe it intensely and that many others do too. Show me some real-world evidence. The proof is in the pudding.

Then your final comment in this paragraph also caught me: “…the system they live in tries to ignore their practices as a legitimate expression of life…” This reminds me very much of all the times I’ve seen atheists called abominations and the times I’ve been told I would burn in hell for what I believe.

8 ) Of course I approved your post, and thankfully the hamsters on the wheels powering the GoDaddy servers were not too tired that day and the script did not crash when you tried to post. And no, this was not a waste of time. I assure you that I’m very flattered you took so much time and effort in your response, and I do appreciate it.

I’ll also say that it’s not fear that drives me to do all this, but compassion for all the people I’ve known, including myself, who were hurt or even killed by religion. If I was afraid of something, I’d keep my mouth shut and just go with the flow.

9) I think you’re a very intelligent person and I’ve enjoyed this debate session (perhaps another will be coming tomorrow regarding another of your comments.) I think you could greatly benefit from exploring skepticism or agnosticism, perhaps even atheism, on a personal level. Get to know what it actually feels like to be one of us, in the same way that I took a couple years in my early twenties to vehemently believe in God and explore that part of me.

 



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Why Does Pro-Life not Apply to Miscarriages?

The other day I was watching a Ted Talk about parenting taboos and the things that parents hide and lie about to the public because of the social convention that you can’t ever say anything bad about having kids. (Watch it at the bottom of this post.) Very interesting video and somewhat eye-opening for a non-parent, but what caught my attention had nothing to do with their actual subject theme.

A few random facts they had about miscarriages: 15%-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and that 74% of women say that miscarriage was “partly their fault”.

Now, I know probably a hundred or more women who have had babies, but can only think of one who has ever had a miscarriage. For comparison I know several who have had abortions. So this leads me to believe, that if their statistic is correct (and I checked other sources that say the same thing), then there truly is this deep taboo against talking about miscarriages. Granted, I’m not exactly the kind of person that a woman is going to come to to talk about that kind of thing, but still, it seems extreme.

Another thing they mentioned was how there’s no social traditions surrounding a miscarriage. There’s  no funeral or standard church service or obituary or even any real acknowledgement beyond the mother and father that this was a person that was just lost from the world.

So I wonder how pro-lifers think about miscarriages and those fetuses. Do they matter as much as an aborted fetus? Now, I’ve heard the argument that it’s different because a miscarriage is not a choice, it’s an act of God, but I don’t see how that changes the actual value of the human being that is lost or why pro-lifers feel the need to fight vehemently for one, while virtually ignoring the other. At the end of the day, an accidental death causes just as much loss of life as a murder.

Now, apparantly 74% of women who have had miscarriages believe it was partly their fault. Now you can look at this scientifically and say the majority of them are simply having an emotional reaction because the medical consensus seems to be that most miscarriages are not preventable. However, I’m not talking about people of science here, I’m talking about pro-life individuals, most of whom believe God has a powerful pull over our lives, our thoughts and our feelings. So if God is the one choosing which fetuses live and which die, how do we know those mothers aren’t accurate in their feelings? How do we know they didn’t do something (or maybe the father did something) to cause God to decide they weren’t ready for a child? Is this why we don’t talk about miscarriage, because we’re afraid of that thought and don’t want anyone to think God might be punishing us?

Or is it because we don’t want to remind people that God is murdering insane numbers of babies? It kind of distracts people from the whole “God is good, God is great” thing.

Then you add the fact that a miscarriage is far more painful to the mother than an abortion, because it was something they didn’t want and I wonder even more why it is not given more attention.

Then what about that percentage of miscarriages that really are, from a scientific perspective, preventable? Do pro-lifers ever wonder what we could do to help women prevent them? What kind of things could help with that? Perhaps better maternity leave benefits so that women don’t need to be all stressed out while they’re pregnant, but which end of the political spectrum is most opposed to that?

I’m no doctor, but my first thought to prevent miscarriages is more medical attention and education for pregnant women. …and who does stuff like that? Well, Planned Parenthood for one, the very organization that the supposed baby-rescuers are most opposed to.

So basically, pro-lifers are fighting tooth and nail to save aborted babies, but aren’t bothering to give even a thought to all the miscarriages in the world.

This indicates that the pro-life position has nothing to do with protecting human life.

What does it have to do with? Well, two things. One, of course, is God. Pro-lifer’s see this issue as a chance to show their faith to God. They refuse to listen to any of the arguments about womens rights, children’s rights, overflowing orphanages, child abuse or neglect and a dangerously overpopulated planet. Instead they simply put all their faith in God so they can feel like they’re a good person in His eyes, ultimately, in hopes they will get into heaven. Numerous religious individuals admit to having no moral values beyond their desire to get into heaven every time they claim we can’t have a moral society without the concept of heaven. This blind desire to get into heaven has a massive affect on their political opinions, trumping science, logic and compassion.

The other reason to be pro-life is because it’s an inspiring, passionate position that brings out powerful emotions from everyone involved. It’s a fight for life, and it’s a fun fight. It offers the chance to see true evil, the kind from the movies, and the opportunity to get out there and scream “Baby Killer!” and have a true enemy that you love to hate. It’s a hatred that can be shared with like-minded people, to give that sense of teamwork within a crusade against the evils of the world, but without requiring anyone to do any real work to help people. In other words, it’s the love of the fight that ultimately drives the pro-life perspective.

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This is the Ted Talk that got me thinking about all this. It’s interesting and worth watching, but really has nothing to do with anything I just wrote.