Tuesday, June 28, 2011
If you're like me, you've wondered why so many (if not all) religions assert that asceticism is a virtue. This is due to the fact that we have an ironic evolutionary instinct dubbed the Guilt of Indulgence. You know the felling, like when you're about to dig in to the largest slice of chocolate cake you've ever seen but your subconscious tell you not to be so hasty.
This is the same feeling that's been translated in such similar ways into every major religion
in existence. For the monotheists, it give credence to the fact that the wicked gluttons are going to be punished later on, while for the eastern religions it teaches that self-sacrifice is the key to
true enlightenment and happiness. It is why rich chocolate is sometimes described as "sinful" and why Buddhist monks elect to own
nothing save for a saffron robe and begging bowl. It is also the main reason the so many of the catholic deadly sins are indulgent in nature and why most of the several virtues urge temperance. If you think about it, the virtue of asceticism has been incorporated into almost every code of morality ever created. The main exception is hedonism which I'll come back to.
It is interesting to note that Satanism is actually less of a worship of the devil as perceived by the christian church and more of a rejection of the christian god accompanied by a plethora of indulgences: food, alcohol, mass orgies, occasional violence, etc. This is why atheists are sometimes referred to as satanists only with less indulgence and why radical muslims regard America, land of the gluttonous, as "the Great Satan".
The instinct originated in man's hunter-gatherer past which we are not at all yet separated from. Dawkins argued in "The Selfish Gene" how a number of moral values could have evolutionary origins (blog post on this topic to come) and it makes sense that the basis for so much of our ethics would have similar origins.
Imagine a tribe of wandering homo sapiens. Being a few generations' worth of descendants from a common family member, they are all fairly closely related. One of the hunters in the tribe kills an animal for food. Do his genes have a better chance of being passed along if he consumes the entire animal himself, or if he shares the spoils with the rest of the tribe? Obviously the answer is the latter, but if you'd like a better explanation of the scenario, I suggest reading the first few chapters of Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene".
The gist of the argument is that we are instinctually programmed to want to pass along our genes to another generation, and seeing as that we're all at most 40th cousins, we stand to gain at least a little for every selfless act we perform.
So what should you do with this information? Wheatever you want; it's a perk of being a rational person, remember? Just keep this in mind the next time someone tells you that it's impossible to be good without god.
Monday, June 27, 2011
This is a point that I meant to include in my post about rationality, but it deserves its own post so it's fine. Here's a point that I know for a fact that the atheist activist blogger PZ Meyers likes to make and I believe Dawkins has pushed it once or twice:
Nothing Must be Held Sacred
It's extremely important that this idea be combined with every single person's individual creed when trying to make the world a more rational place. To emphasize his point, PZ Meyers once committed his act of "Great
Desecration" in which he took a rusty nail and jammed it through a communion wafer, a page from the Qu'ran, and a page from the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Now at first I was somewhat upset that he felt the need to include the page from the God Delusion in there for a number of reasons, but then I began to see his point. He was trying to show us that these things which he treated so poorly are nothing sacred; they're just two pieces of paper with ink and a piece of bread. Getting offended or upset over them just seems silly.
Now of course it's acceptable to value the information that such non-sacred objects provide. Information, experience, and knowledge all go towards living a more rational lifestyle, and even the brilliant Christopher Hitchens admitted reading a bizarre but pleasant form of poetry when reading the Qu'ran in its original Arabic. But being willing to kill/die over a few scraps of paper with ink on them? That's just ridiculous.
TL;DR Information is important, but holding things sacred is stupid.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Meaning "Four Medicines" in Greek, it was Epicurus' four-step method for living a happy life. I have a print-out of it hanging above my bed:
"Don't Fear God
Don't Worry about Death
What is Good is Easy to Get;
And What is Terrible is Easy to Endure"
-Epicurus 341-270 BC
Essentially he's saying that Gods, if they exist, are unconcerned with human life and thus we should not be concerned with them. As I said before, a god that is absolutely apathetic toward humanity might as well be a god that doesn't exist. In layman's terms, just forget about the whole God-thing, okay?
Next is "Don't worry about Death." My more rational followers will interpret this exactly how Epicurus meant it. Basically he's saying that since there is no consciousness after death, you shouldn't really be concerned with what happens after you die. In his own words,
"Death means nothing to us...when we exist, death is not yet present, and when death is
present, then we do not exist."
Wise words for someone who lived over 2 millenniums ago. The rest is glaringly obvious
and has been reinterpreted numerous times into thousands of cheap motivational posters in some form or another. But the tetrepharmakos as a whole is definitely one knockout of a creed, in my humble opinion.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
So the Atheistic movement is one of rational thought, yes?
This is far more complicated than it sounds. One cannot simply go up to a religious person and say, "Hey you: think more rationally!" We must pressure and encourage others to think clearly while at the same time giving any and all empirical information at our disposal. This will eventually lead to clarity of thought and, in time, atheism.
We must first realize exactly how to be rational and to live our lives accordingly. This ensures that there is at least one more rational person in the world. Being rational means following a few common sense rules:
- Never substituting supernatural explanations when scientific explanations are available
- Generally using Occam's Razor
- Educating oneself and others as much as possible
Plus whatever else you think makes you a rational human being. These simple steps will go a long way toward making the world a better place.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I am considering making Atheist Daily my main focus. I feel like this blog has more potential/support and I feel like I have a lot better ideas for what to do here.
I want to give credence to my notion of Passive Atheism. It's the idea that one can be a militant atheist in the proper setting-with other atheists, in a debate, etc.-but a normal uncaring citizen when religion is brought up in everyday conversation. The key would be to recognize exactly when the proper setting arises. This would go a long way toward benefiting the public relations of the atheistic movement and ultimately the movement as a whole.
It would mean less people saying (shortsighted) things like this:
The ultimate goal for the movement is calm, clear, rational thinking on the part of the entire population. This means never deluding oneself when the answer is readily available. For example, 2+2 does not equal five, the moon landing wasn't faked, and there is no God. Or ghosts, witches, Satan, Pagan Gods, Nirvana, the Tao, Bigfoot, or any number of supernatural occurrences. In fact, the very definition of supernatural should imply nonexistence, at least until sufficient observation by the scientific community has been done.
So this blog and many other sites will exist as focal points for atheism and anti-theism in pursuit of a brighter future.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Apparently not even God believes in an afterlife
Not to mention that the Old Testament only mentions a hell-like place called Sheol once in passing. have christians even read the bible?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
For those who don't know, Anonymous has hacked the web pages of the notorious religious hate group, the Westboro Baptist Church. This is a victory to all rational people everywhere.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Admission time: I have a slight man-crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson. Besides being
- An Astrophysicist and science communicator
- Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space
- Host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS
- Frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Jeopardy!.
The man has an awesome mustache that could lead men into battle in days gone by. Just look at this BAMF
Tyson was offered to be an understudy of Carl Sagan at Cornell University, but turned it down to study at Harvard instead. Today, he keeps Sagan's legacy alive by studying the stars and funneling his knowledge down to the common people. Along with Stephen Hawking and Noam Chomsky, Neil Tyson is one man whose lifetime I consider myself lucky to live during.
Though Tyson hasn't fully come out and said specifically that he is an atheist, here's a video of him ripping apart "Stupid Design" which is a moniker for intelligent design.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Here is a point that simply cannot be stressed enough: There is no Such thing as a Fundamental Atheist. Not even Dawkins and Hitchens fit the colloquialism of "Fundie" in a world filled with religious suicide bombers and homicidal maniacs.
Just last week, a man on trial for the murder of several people claimed that his sins would be forgiven because he had "accepted Jesus into his heart." It's still baffling how these people can claim with a straight face that Atheists are without morals.
This past week, in the state of South Dakota, a law has been passing through the state legislature which would make it legal to murder abortion-giving doctors. You can bet your bottom dollar that no atheist would ever legalize homicide under those circumstances.
No wars were ever fought in the name of atheism, atheism was never used to subject the populace, and it was certainly never used to justify unspeakable acts of inhumanity including torture, genocide, and child molestation.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Great News Everyone! Apparently God can do anything! I never knew.
And here I was thinking that God was powerless to prevent
- natural disasters
etc. But I guess I was wrong this whole time. Thake THAT, Epicurus!
Then again, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is similarly capable of the same things. So it seems that the FSM is the one true god. Praise His noodly appendage!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Daily process for Bill O'Reilly: Step One, Open mouth. Step Two, Insert Foot.
It seems that O'really? has recently completely failed at a basic science question that your average fifth grader could explain, and in doing so has been made into a meme. The twist was that this question was concerning god's role in creating the moon.
O'Reilly's fallacious argument for justification for his belief in god: "The tide comes in, the tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. YOU [Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists] can't explain that."
Well due to the unfortunate fact that almost everybody who graduated kindergarten could, in fact, explain that, O'Reilly's stupidity has caused him to be made into an advice-dog style meme, with his face and text superimposed over a colorful background.
O'Reilly deserves all the dishonor he receives and then some for his use of a childlike infinite regressive fallacy. I therefore choose to share with you every picture I have saved ridiculing this disgrace to American society.
Yes it was a relatively long post, but I can't help but feel that this man's shame is worth it.
This has almost nothing to do with atheism, but here's a cool fanvid of House put to the music "Baba O'Reilly" by The Who
In other news, the Atheist Burka was unveiled (pun intended) today:
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
St. Valentine was renowned for performing illegal christian marriages at a time when the church forbade them. The irony of this is that modern christians celebrate the man's name while actively working against allowing people to get married.
Was Valentine destroying the sanctity of marriage in his time? Will we one day have a saint who performed gay marriages in this time period? I suppose we'll just have to wait and find out.
In the meantime, Happy V-tine's day to all my followers.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
For anyone and everyone who has wondered why anti-theists are so outspoken, there's
Or, for a sadder experience, there's the children of whatstheharm:
The site features such horrendous stories as that of 9-month-old Allyson Bergmann of Indiana
Allyson contracted bacterial meningitis which is medically treatable. Her parents belong to Faith Assembly, which rejects medical care in favor of prayer. Allyson's disease went untreated by anything other than prayer until she died. Her parents were convicted of reckless homicide.
Unfortunately, Allyson's case represents the norm rather than the extreme of the stories on whatstheharm. It just goes to show how much harm is done when people and society are incapable of critical thinking. And people claim that it is the atheists who are the ones without morals.
Busy today so I don't have time to come up with original content. I promise I'll get around to it as soon as I'm able. In the meantime, enjoy this very informative video about the scary reality of evangelicals in society.
Now for all you un-American commie foreigners (haha), there's "The God Who Wasn't There" by director Brian Flemming. The movie explores the religious and the possibility that none of what they say is true.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Today is the day we celebrate a man who truly contributed something great to society. Without this BAMF right here
we would be missing huge gaps in the fields of biology, neurology, archaeology, anthropology, and medicine. So celebrate this great man today by being rational in any way you can.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
United States’ Representative Pete Stark has just introduced a bill (H. Res. 81) into Congress that looks to designate February 12th as “Darwin Day”.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
For anyone and everyone who has ever had a burning question fro a non-believer but didn't have convenient circumstances in which to ask it, now there's Ask An Atheist:
Heretical representatives will be standing by constantly to answer any and all queries you may pose on the subject of the divine (or lack thereof), the supernatural, or even the scientific and rational. Enjoy!