Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page
Good on you, Dan Savage.
This morning, I received a great article from Paste magazine written by Geoffrey Himes about religion and spirituality in popular music and the absence of music geared towards an atheist demographic. It makes sense, really. I mean, to me it seems that there’s only so much that can be said about a non-belief in a deity. Not to mention the non-saleability of such music here in this most religious of countries.
One of the first Atheist-centric songs I hear was Atheists Don’t Have No Songs by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers:
Hysterical. And frustrating.
Back to the Himes article. This really hit home for me:
…I hunger for music that will reflect my own deepest values. But when I read through the many long lists of “Atheist Songs” on the Internet, I find that very few of those titles are actually about atheism itself. Many of them don’t even question the existence of God; they merely point out the many failings of his churches, which is not the same thing at all. Some of them deny God but accept Satan—or angels or goddesses or reincarnation or whatever, an obvious contradiction of the standard atheist position that no supernatural phenomena exist. Even the handful of songs that adhere to this consistent position are usually more interested in disproving the theist ideology than in exploring what atheism might mean in leading a productive, moral life.
Atheism, in and of itself, doesn’t have anything to do with “leading a productive, moral life”. Many of my atheist friends will disagree with me on that, and I understand why. As Steven Weinberg said:
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”
I get it, but religion is different from what it means to be an Atheist. Gods (lower-case ‘g’ intended there) and religions are two different things. But back to the topic at hand. I am going to begin searching out music that speaks to atheists, agnostics, humanists, etc. I look forward to using Modern Atheist to share my findings with you.
Great graphic showing the religiousity of the population of the world. Fascinatingly, there are as many atheist, agnostic, and irreligious as there are Catholic.
An irreverent and NSFW news broadcast with God as the anchor. Good stuff.
“If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.
I would also want a God who would not allow a Hell. Infinite torture can only be a punishment for infinite evil, and I don’t believe that infinite evil can be said to exist even in the case of Hitler. Besides, if most human governments are civilized enough to try to eliminate torture and outlaw cruel and unusual punishments, can we expect anything less of an all-merciful God?
I feel that if there were an afterlife, punishment for evil would be reasonable and of a fixed term. And I feel that the longest and worst punishment should be reserved for those who slandered God by inventing Hell.”
I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994)
A fascinating article regarding the scientific research being done regarding the near death experience.
I’d like to build a Spotify playlist that will speak to atheists, humanists, freethinkers, etc. Songs that might reach out to those who are on the precipice of breaking the shackles of indoctrination would be awesome. Please leave your suggestion(s) as a comment. Thank you!!!
In honor of National Ask An Atheist Day, sponsored by the Secular Student Alliance, I thought it only appropriate to address a common misconception of Atheists: Atheists have no moral compass.
Atheism is not a belief system. It is, at its simplest, a rejection of the god hypothesis due to a lack of evidence to support it. Atheism says nothing about an individuals opinions about what constitutes moral or immoral behavior.
So, if there is no God to provide us with a sense of morality, where does it come from?
I suspect that morality, like every other facet of what it means to be human, is driven by evolution. Our ancestors, our pre-human ancestors, made decisions about what they should and should not do. They made decisions about how to treat others. Some of those actions (sharing of resources, protection from predators, etc.) were more conducive to attracting a mate, reproducing, and being a valued member of the community. Other actions (murder, greed, etc.) made individuals outcasts from the community, thereby making reproduction and survival that much harder. This is just my theory (dangerous word, I know – please note the lower-case ‘t’ as opposed to a capitol ‘T’ Theory as in the Theory of Gravity and the Theory of Evolution – BIG DIFFERENCE!). I suspect that science will have something to say about morality in the human species as well as other species in the coming years. I look forward to that.
Many atheists, myself included, subscribe to the principles of humanism, which I have included below. You may find that these principles reflect what many Christians believe to be the basic tenets of Christianity, but without the mysticism of scriptures and dogma of indoctrination. We do not need a mythical father-figure watching over us to make sure we behave, with the reward of eternal life in heaven (which sounds awful, if you ask me – I’ll save that topic for a future post) or the threat of eternal damnation.
The Affirmations of Humanism:
A Statement of Principles
- We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
- We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
- We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
- We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
- We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.
- We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
- We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
- We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
- We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
- We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.
- We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.
- We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
- We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
- We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
- We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.
- We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.
- We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.
- We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.
- We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.
- We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.
- We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.
Today, April 19, is the so-called ‘Day of Dialogue‘ which is being sponsored by Focus on the Family. It is being pitched as an ‘anti-bullying because God doesn’t like bullying’ (my description, not theirs) invitation to learn more about God’s plan for your life. Apparently, God also has a plan for who it’s okay for us to have sex with. My concern here is that gay kids, who are already ‘at-risk’ of being victims of bullying and discrimination, will be drawn to this ‘kinder, gentler’ approach, just to be told that God does not approve of who they are, who they love, and what kind of sex they have.
My concern, however, goes beyond that. This disgusting, pathetic attempt to put a happy face on homophobia also has the potential to involve young people who have managed to avoid religious indoctrination, but also hear homophobic rhetoric from their friends and family. This is the equivalent of a pedophile offering candy to a child, drawing them close with kindness that masks their immorality, then destroying their lives.
If any young person reads this post, I want you remember this: Sexuality is a natural, healthy part of the human experience regardless of where you fall on the homo/hetero spectrum. If someone tells you that your orientation is a sin, forgive them. They have been brainwashed into a system of belief built on a fairy tale. The book that teaches them that homosexuality is a sin also teaches them that the earth is 6,000 years old, is flat, and is the center of the universe. The god they speak of murdered millions of people, demanded that a man murder his son in order to show loyalty, and committed atrocities that are, at the very least, immoral.
There is no god. There is no deity sitting in judgement of mankind. You are free to live your life according to your sense of morality. There is nothing unnatural or immoral about your sexual orientation.