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

Rationality Follow-Up

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

Main Blog

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.