Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

Atheist Funerals: You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral

In Atheism on May 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I’ve been struggling lately contemplating whether or not I ever care to attend a Christian funeral again.  I mean, it seems to me that time would be better spent acknowledging the reality of death, as far as we know.  As an atheist, I have a strong suspicion, and have no need to believe otherwise, that death is the end of our consciousness – of our experience with life.  We cease to exist in the physical world.  We live on in the memories of those whose lives we touched in some way.  I don’t feel the need to think of my loved one living on in some happy other-world where there is no pain or suffering.  To be honest, it sounds like a miserable way to spend an eternity.

I’m not afraid to die.  I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but it doesn’t scare me.  It seems to me that there are a large number of Christians going through the motions in an attempt to hedge their bets on the off chance that their is a deity who set into course the particular fairy tale tradition their family has long adhered to.  It makes me sad that humankind still has this need to believe that there is some grand watcher-over looking out for us and levying justice for us.

Part of my recovery from faith has been coming to terms with this new understanding of the true nature of reality.  But it has led me to a place where I realize that my life is mine to make of it what I will, and that I get to prioritize my life the way I want it to be.  In the grand scheme of evolution, each individual life is so tremendously  inconsequential.  But in the time we are here, we get the unique opportunity to participate in life, something tremendously, spectacularly, mind-bogglingly rare in the universe.  That, to me, is far more glorious and spectacular and awe-inspiring than the story of Genesis.

I suspect that I will, in fact, attend Christian funerals from time to time.  If for no other reason, it would decrease the amount of drama that would be generated by my non-attendance.  But, rest assured, when the congregation bows their heads to pray, my head will be up, looking around the church, seeing if anyone else has their heads up.  I hope that person is you.

I love this:

You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral | Thank God For Evolution.


My Response to “Cautiously Pessimistic: Greta Christina’s Interview with Edwina Rogers”

In Atheism, Politics on May 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I share your concerns around the appointment of Ms. Rogers.  I think we need to separate, however, the Republican brand from politicians within the party who must pander to religious right on issues such as reproductive rights and marriage equality.  It is my belief that there is a non-insignificant percentage of Republican politicians who believe in evolution, are pro-choice, support marriage equality, and are, dare I say, atheists.  I believe this because I have Republican friends who match that description.  They remain fiscal conservatives, and we vehemently disagree on those policy discussions.

For me, as a left-of-Democrat liberal, I am choosing to give Ms. Rogers the benefit of the doubt.  Another liberal atheist is going to do nothing to forge inroads into the GOP or restore some sanity on that side of the aisle.  The Republican party has been hijacked by the religious right.  It is going to take a shared effort from Republicans to pull them back into the land of Reason.

Cautiously Pessimistic: Greta Christina’s Interview with Edwina Rogers.

Christians, your ‘Day of Dialogue’ is shameful.

In Atheism on April 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

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.


A Great Rebuttal to the ‘Day of Dialogue’ Card.

Brandi and Russel Bellew, Parents, Lose Children After Son Dies Due To ‘Faith Healing’

In Atheism on April 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Brandi and Russel Bellew, Parents, Lose Children After Son Dies Due To ‘Faith Healing’.

This is yet another example of the immorality of religion.  Your fairy tale cannot cure your child.  There is no god.  There is no such thing as miracles.  Prayer does not work.  Your faith is what killed your son.  You deserve to lose the rest of your children, as you represent a danger to their well-being.  You deserve to be prosecuted.

Humanism’s Moral Depths: An ‘Abraham and Isaac’ Story for Nonbelievers

In Atheism on April 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

Humanism’s Moral Depths: An ‘Abraham and Isaac’ Story for Nonbelievers.


In Atheism on April 15, 2012 at 11:02 pm

You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral

The following, written by NPR commentator Aaron Freeman, is a gem!

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

Why I Hate God

In Atheism on April 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

This is the first in a series of posts in which I will answer, from my own perspective, many of the questions that believers ask of atheists.  I invite you to ask questions and leave comments for me.

Why do you hate God?

Short answer: I don’t.  How can you hate something that doesn’t exist?  However, I think it is important that we atheists who are former believers openly discuss our paths to atheism, including any feelings of resentment we had that led us to question our faith.  Acknowledging those feelings will validate those feelings for the believer who may be ready to begin the journey to enlightenment.

My first sense of conflict came in my early teens as I was becoming increasingly sociopolitical aware.  I was raised in the Episcopal church, a tradition that was playfully referred to in-house as ‘recovering Catholic’ or ‘Catholic light’.  My understanding of the teachings of Christ included taking care of the sick, the poor, and the oppressed.  That understanding lined up quite nicely with my upbringing in a liberal Democrat household.  However, as I learned about the political views of the adults with whom my family attended church – ‘poor people are lazy’, ‘if you want health care, get a job’, ‘homosexuality is immoral’, etc… – I was having an increasingly difficult time understanding how people who worshiped the same god, prayed the same prayers, and believed the word of the same bible, could hold such divergent views.  I remember the first question I had that challenged my indoctrination being, “how can people treat their fellow human beings with such contempt Monday through Saturday, then come to church on Sunday and ask for forgiveness over and over again?”.  In retrospect, my Humanism was in conflict with my Christianity.

As I got older, I began to seek out a denomination that fell more in line with my political ideology.  Each experience left me with the same question: How is it that belief in the same god can lead people to such divergent views of how to treat one another?  The answers from Christians were, in retrospect, predictable – freewill, man is fallible, it’s all part of God’s plan, etc.  I found these to be very unsatisfying answers.  It seemed to me most likely that we all were simply interpreting the word of God in a manner that was in line with our own views, and then seeking out like minded people to join in celebrating those views as good in the eyes of God.

But which group is ‘right’?  Which denomination?  Which religion?  All of them?  In that case, what’s the point?  One of them?  If that’s the case, we are doomed to annihilation.  None of them?  That is the answer that made the most sense to me.  However, accepting that answer would mean that the foundation upon which my life was built was nothing more than a fairy tale.  That internal conflict joined forces with my genetic predispositions to depression and alcoholism and led to some highly self-destructive behavior on my part.

I have been dealing with clinical depression to varying degrees of success my entire life.  I will have been sober for nine years this June.  I have been through a nasty divorce from which I still deal with anger issues.  Tearing down the facade of faith and rebuilding my life based on reality and reason and the principles of humanism has been the most difficult thing I have ever done.  To date, it has been a twenty year journey.  I harbor a degree of resentment towards my parents for indoctrinating me.  But that resentment is tempered by the knowledge that they were indoctrinated as well, and were only doing what they believed to be in my best interest.

Every day, I gain additional insight into what it means to live life according to humanist principles.  This is the only life we have and it is wholly up to us what becomes of it.  The knowledge that there is no divine plan or purpose is tremendously liberating.  The understanding that everything that exists, including us, is the result of natural processes behind which there are no guiding hands or so-called intelligent design is so much more awe-inspiring than the arrogant notion that everything has been created for us.

I do not hate God.  I loathe what belief in deities is doing to the human race.  I do not hate religion.  I despise the permission that religion gives to the faithful to oppress others and destroy the environment.  I do not hate the religiously faithful.  They are all victims of indoctrination.  I am frustrated by the willingness of the faithful to subjugate their intelligence and humanism to the dogma of the tribalism of religious faith.

Next question: Aren’t you afraid of death?

Thank you, Christopher Hitchens.

In Atheism on April 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I want to use this first post to express my gratitude to the first of “The Four Horsemen of Modern Atheism” that I became aware of, and the one through which I was able to understand the anger and resentment I continue to feel toward religion, Christopher Hitchens.  Today, April 13, 2012, would have been Hitch’s 63rd birthday.

My affinity for Hitchens’ work began when I first heard the title of his book God is Not Great.  I had come to terms with my own lack of belief in the christian god (and all gods, for that matter) but was not inclined to be particularly vocal about it, given the family I was raised in and the nature of life in America.  But here was a guy with balls the size of grapefruits saying not only that he didn’t believe, but additionally that God is not deserving of the adoration Christians give him.  I had to check this book out…literally.  I went to the library and picked up a copy.  Now, I consider myself an intelligent,  literate dude, but Hitchens’ work was more than I was prepared for as a casual read.  I ended up getting the book in audio format.  Life changing book.  Every chapter had many reaffirming ideas in it.  For the first time in my recovery from faith, I felt like I wasn’t alone.

That book led me to search the YouTube for Hitchens, which, of course, introduced me to the myriad debates that he participated in on the subject of the existence of God, the morality of religion, and more.  If you are reading this blog, you’ve likely seen all the same debates I have.  Brilliant.  I didn’t see a single one in which I thought, “Well, I don’t know.  That (insert religious title here) really scored some points with that argument.”  Hitch destroyed them all.

Those debates introduced me to Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, the remaining three Horsemen.  These four men continue to help me in my journey of recovery.  Hitchens opened the door of the growing global atheist community to me.  The loss of Hitch to cancer in 2011 was an emotional one for the atheist (or as he might say, and I often do, ‘anti-theist’) movement.  He was a brash, argumentative, brilliant man who made it okay for me, personally, to directly and publicly confront and challenge religious ideology.  Now you know who to blame.

Thank you, Chris.  I miss you.