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Brent Rasmussen's picture

Pro Wrestling And The Atheist Ethicist

I've been a big fan of Alonzo Fyfe's essays and writing since I first read his stuff back on the Internet Infidels Discussion Board. His post yesterday is fascinating and well worth the read. Alonzo's trademarked crystal clear thinking is applied to the current concern in the atheist community about the 'New Atheists' or the 'Evangelical Atheists' like Dawkins and Harris. I heartily recommend that you read it.

[Alonzo Fyfe] When I listen to atheists discuss strategy, I tend to think about a group of abused children discussing the best way to avoid a beating. Because of the children’s concern, they quickly turn against any child who dares to do anything that might upset the abusive guardian. History has shown that, once the guardian is riled, all of the children are in danger. So, it becomes important to ‘punish’ those who rile the guardian to promote an aversion to doing so.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Interview With An Atheist

David Gleeson, columnist for the American Chronicle and blogger at One Colorado Skeptic, interviews himself. Pretty good column, but no doubt he'll be flayed alive (metaphorically) by angry Christians for having the audacity to identify himself as an evil, dirty atheist then - *gasp!* - defend his point of view as if he were a Real True American™ like them.

Here's a taste:

[link] So what happens to us when we die? We just turn to dust?

It’s telling that this is the next question on your list. Whenever anyone finds out I’m an atheist, this is always one of the first questions I get hit with. It proves that faith in God is tied to anxiety about death. It’s why gods were invented in the first place: to allay fears, or to explain the incomprehensible.

To answer the question, yes, that’s what I believe. When you die, you are gone forever. No heaven, no hell, no everlasting bliss or torment, no punishment or reward, no rectifying of injustice, no reincarnation, etc. It would be nice to believe in second chances or fond reunions, but I try not to see the world as I wish it to be, only as it truly is. And the fact is, there is not one shred of evidence to support the existence of any type of afterlife.

I'll keep an eye out for parts 2 and 3.

psburton's picture

Morning in America & Oh donny boy the pipes are calling

I am from the really old school of political conservatism, Which is to say I have nothing in common with the yahoo's who currently call themselves the republican party and my blogs bear that out.
The unexpected even historic swing back toward the left is a welcome event in the Burton house hold. Oh I still think liberal ideology is silly and like Marxism only works on paper but like a good hearted yet tad slow favorite cousin those who profess an ardent passion for all things liberal will always need looking after in the real world.

Political Conservatism has nothing to do with religion or family values or who your fucking. It is more about my wanting to keep what I carve out of the pie and yes Virgina if I can gain an advantage in the sand box of life I will take it and wish you the best if providence favors your mouse trap.

I would wish for a world where everyone enjoys equal opportunity to participate and prosper, but it does not and I want my slice.

Life and Liberty you get just for showing up, happiness you gotta earn on your own and it comes with some shit day dues.

Hope you all voted and if your candidate or cause got slapped down last night you should still fee

psburton's picture

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Most people from Arizona who watch the news have heard about Sheriff Joe's implementation of yet another tool to protect and serve the folks of Maricopa county. A vast database of digital identification culled from drivers licenses

Most people have the "only criminal's and terrorist's need worry" mindset when it comes to government keeping an eye on what folks are doing. And the court's have long upheld the concept you do not have an expectation of privacy in public places.

I do not have a problem with passive observation technology.
Put a fricking camera on every block if you like, My life is after all already posted, blogged, vlogged, webcamed and otherwise open for who ever cares to observe.

The Sheriff however is using interactive, intrusive none of your dam business kind of surveillance.

The interlinking of every feed from the traffic cam's to the circle K and jack in the box is just plain Orwellian.

A friend who lives in London was at first pleased with the total awareness program they have.

Till he became aware in his neighborhoods it's so pervasive the power company will call to scold you for leaving too many lights on at night.

The police will stop by to see if you were drinking and driving cause your auto was observed weaving quite a lot early in the evening on one of the ten's of thousands of camera's that are literally everywhere, ever watching ever profiling the subjects observed.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Atheist Mama In The News

Just a quick post... Cassandra Cox, the godless community's own Atheist Mama, was quoted in the Columbus Dispatch Faith & Values section yesterday! It was a pretty good article on atheists and atheism in general, actually.

Congrats, Cassandra!

[link] Cassandra Cox, 28, of Gahanna, grew up in a military family, spending much of her earlier life in Virginia.

She had been raised a Roman Catholic, but doubts surfaced when it came time to have her oldest son baptized. She decided against it, upsetting some family members; eventually she found her way to atheism because it "makes more sense to me."

The idea of a god "seems as likely as a Santa Claus," Cox said. "It’s absurd to think that somebody comes to your house and delivers presents. And I guess it’s the same thing that somebody’s listening to prayers."

Cox — who spends some time blogging on her Web site www.theatheistmama.com — said she and her husband, Robert, will give their children, now 4 and 2, a Bible to study when they get older. But they also will have companion books of mythology, she said.

"We’re not going to tell them they can’t believe in it (God)," Cox said. "We’re going to allow them to go to church with their friends, as usually happens with kids. We’re not going to say there’s anything wrong with it, but we’re going to tell them what we believe and why."

...

"If there was some kind of proof out there that there was a god, I would definitely be open to believing in that," Cox said. "But I don’t find that likely. If the Rapture happens, then I’ll definitely think that something’s going on."

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Aquitted Atheist

Chuck Smalkowski is the atheist who was charged with criminal assault after an fight between him and his daughter's high school principal. Nicole Smalkowski, his daughter, refused to pray the "Lord's Prayer" with her high school basketball team and was dropped from the team. The school officials lied about Nicole to justify kicking her off the team. When her dad Chuck went to the principal's house to confront him about the lies he had told about Nicole, the principal punched him and then filed charges against him.

Chuck was aquitted of all charges in June. It's a pretty amazing story. I've found where Chuck tells the story himself on his website Scooter Journals.

[link] Then out of the blue my wife received a call from Ellen Johnson who said they had a lawyer that can help us, an Edwin Kagin who is their legal director. Well I called him up, and our civil case is up and running.

Edwin Kagin also by my request came to my criminal case for the two cases are obviously interrelated. There were also other reasons.

Simply stated without Edwin Kagin, Ellen Johnson and American Atheist I would be in jail now, or worse. Without them, we would have no federal case on separation of church and state. The only group, the only lawyer that would stand with my family and me to protect the wall and not cringe at me wanting to put atheism as part of my defense.

In Edwin's opening statement American Atheist magazine was shown. The crowd almost rioted. He explained that Atheism was not a dirty word and that it was a conclusion. That my family and I are not devil worshippers. We just have no Gods.

It was the basis of the case. It was the danger. It was the truth. Yet the only lawyer to go there freely was Edwin Kagin.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Jesus Approves Of Larry Darby

How sweet. He's become a Christian. That'll show us! Wow, I can just hear him stomping his little foot indignantly. What a complete nutball. Good riddance to bad rubbish. The god-botherers deserve you, Larry. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

[link] I no longer categorically deny the existence of God. My views have changed based on experiences or understanding of the world around me. I appreciate the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson who, in the Declaration of Independence, spoke of the laws of nature and of nature’s God. I agree with moral precepts put forth by Jesus of Nazareth and I am Christian in a sense that Jesus of Nazareth would approve.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

You Want Some Red Herring With That?

College freshman Brandon Stanley bravely and carefully crafts an imaginary atheist, stuffs him with the most putrid and objectionable straw, then energetically knocks him down with a thesaurus and stirring words of exuberant malice, as well as a call-to-arms against a defenseless tree! Bam! Biff! Take that, you dirty atheist bastards!

[link] Thus is the root of all evil in today’s America: the doctrines of unreason yet made more insidious by masquerading as reason. At the head of these forces is the force of Atheism. This is not meant to soothe the hearts of disbelief, or to call someone to faith. I will not mince word with those who would advance the putrid banner of nihilism under the cover of a cannonade of so-called reason. Atheism as a metaphysic comes to us in a variety of forms: Music, T.V, so called “American Culture”. Atheism, first and foremost, is a religion. All forms of extremist atheism, whether they are Objectivism, Marxism, or any other ism, make metaphysical claims. These claims are never challenged nor questioned. Atheism as a religion has Ten Commandments.

They are:
1) Man consists of nothing more than atoms, hence he has no essence
2) Man should therefore seek Paradise on Earth
3) Reality must be what we see in front of us
4) Religious faith is bad; but faith in fellow man good
5) We must be the judge of whether God is righteous or not
6) Eschatology in religion bad; eschatology in science good
7) Ethical judgments cannot be made; all is relative
8) The Universe is an accident
9) Evolution can never be questioned. Prophet Darwin is unassailable
10) Faith is a stupidity, and faith must be taken as “belief in something you cannot see.”

Are they not patently absurd?

Heheh... "Are they not..." Too funny, Brandon. Talk like that some more and folks might one day start taking you seriously instead of simply laughing at you for being a pretentious, bigoted, asshole-in-training. But don't count on it.

Ah, youth. Heh.

Now, I must leave because I'm late for my Prophet Darwin worship service at the local EAC. We're going to discuss whether or not our sworn enemy, the Judeo-Christian God, is a really righteous dude in the accidental universe, or just bogus. Then, we're going to evolve a second penis so that we can fornicate wildly and evilly with each other's atoms, devoid of essence, morals, ethics, cleanliness and good common sense. But who cares? It's paradise on earth!

The wife and I are bringing dead Christian baby casserole to the potluck afterwards! Yum, yummy, yum-yum!

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Healthy Disease

I've just added Luke McIntyre's blog "No Soap Radio" to the UTI blogroll.

Why, you ask? In response to a letter-to-the-editor in a local newspaper claiming that atheism should be considered a religion also, Luke responds:

[link] Dear Darren Lipman,

You are a goddamn moron. I'll elaborate.

First, atheism is not a religion any more than being healthy is a disease. In fact, atheism in its simplest form is not even a belief; it's the lack of a belief. It's simply saying, "there is no evidence for a god, so I have no belief in one," not "I disbelieve in one."

That's why. Because Luke gets it. And he has my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strip as a header.

It's a happy bonus that he also uses the oh-so-reasonable, equal, and tolerant portion of the North Carolina State Constitution that spells out who is qualified to run for public office as his tagline:

The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God. - North Carolina State Constitution, Article VI, Sec. 8

Those pesky atheists! Always getting uppity and trying to run for office - like us God-Almighty-fearin' North Carolina folk would vote for 'em anyways. Everyone know they're not really human, not like us. They should get down on their knees and thank us that we don't string 'em all up in the nearest tree, the godless bastards.

Heheheh... Excellent. Take a look at No Soap Radio when you get a chance.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Hellbound Allee Is My Hero

Ray "The Banana" Comfort, who works with our good buddy Kirk "The Atheist Fighter" Cameron to produce videos showing the world what a couple of boobs they are, appeared on the Hellbound Allee Show...

...and conceded the "Banana Argument" to Allee! Wow! Great job, Allee!

[link] Hellbound Alleee : I'm just saying that, that there are very few plants, and we argue - with some environmentalists a lot who don't believe in bioengineered food, because all, because most of the food that we eat of course is farmed, and is done through horticulture, and we've engineered these - these fruits and vegetables to be more tasty to us. So actually, the banana seems to be not, not made by God at this point, it's more like um... what, what came first, the banana or the hand ? [laugh] You know ? Man took the banana and made it better for man...

Ray Comfort : Okay, you've got that one. You can have the banana.

Francois Tremblay : WE WIN ! WE WIN ! WE'VE WON THE BANANA !

Heheh...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Angry Atheists

Rabbi Marc Gellman of the "God Squad" newspaper column writes an interesting op-ed piece in Today's Newsweek magazine. He asks:

[link] Trying to Understand Angry Atheists
Why do nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?

I think I need to understand atheists better. I bear them no ill will. I don't think they need to be religious to be good, kind and charitable people, and I have no desire to debate or convert them. I do think they are wrong about the biggest question, “Are we alone?” and I will admit to occasionally viewing atheists with the kind of patient sympathy often shown to me by Christians who can't quite understand why the Good News of Jesus' death and resurrection has not reached me or my people. However, there is something I am missing about atheists: what I simply do not understand is why they are often so angry.

Now, those of you who have been reading UTI for a while know that my tagline has been "I'm not angry, I just don't agree with you". It seemed especially appropriate at the time I chose it because of just this sort of nonsense.

More below the flip...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Atheist Whackjobs Of The World Unite!

Well, good-golly-gee! I'm sure glad we have Melinda Barton around to remind us what a bunch of powerless, evil, wanna-be dictatorial extremists us atheists are! I mean, the fact that we don't believe in any gods is pretty extreme. Terrorism, really. Our non-belief in her god makes us dangerous. Just listen to her. She'll tell you.

[link] Why face off with the atheist whackjobs? Because extremism is extremism is extremism. No rational movement dedicated to intellectual courage and honesty should maintain a relationship with those for whom intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and cowardice are a way of life. Doing what must be done to insure the integrity of the left will require identifying our extremists, countering their mythologies, and acknowledging the dangers they pose to a truly liberal society.Why face off with the atheist whackjobs? Because extremism is extremism is extremism. No rational movement dedicated to intellectual courage and honesty should maintain a relationship with those for whom intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and cowardice are a way of life. Doing what must be done to insure the integrity of the left will require identifying our extremists, countering their mythologies, and acknowledging the dangers they pose to a truly liberal society.

The fact that the "atheist whackjobs" she describes in her articles, as well as the "outrageous claims" list she writes about, then clumsily knocks down, don't actually exist anywhere in the real world doesn't seem to faze her or her editors at The Raw Story.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Atheists are the last minority in the country where it is acceptable - even encouraged - to denigrate, attack, oppress, and make shit up about them.

We are the new boogey-men, just like "communists" and "jews" have been the boogey-men in the past.

I just hope that it doesn't end in some sort of McCarthy-esque round-up and detention.

The Neural Gourmet, Austin Cline, and PZ all have great comments about this.

You can comment directly on Barton's original post on her blog here.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

An Open Letter To The Editor

Steven J. Woodhouse, Editor of the Knoxville Journal-Express has written a little column lamenting the fact that those nasty, mean scientists have the audacity to discover facts about our natural world that make god-believers uncomfortable in their god-belief.

Hmnn. So much to comment on in this op-ed piece, but I thought I'd pull one grossly inaccurate statement out and set him straight.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Stupid, Ignorant, Or Liar?

Hans Zeiger, the uber-Scout, conservative, wanna-be theocrat columnist, has it out for atheists. He really, really doesn't like us. I get the distinct impression from reading his columns that he would be delighted if we were to all be rounded up and forced into the gas chambers. He's scary with his sparkly-eyed, idealist Conservative writings uncritically published in the fawning right-wing media. In a recent column, Zeiger makes the claim that Michael Newdow "admits" that "atheism is a religion". Zeiger is either being willfully ignorant, deliberately untruthful, or just plain stupid.

Unfortunately for Zeiger, Newdow says no such thing.

[link] But Mr. Newdow concedes that it is a religion. (He admits it in his own words: "I adhere to a religion. My religion denies the existence of any god ... My religious worldview is atheism.")

What conclusions can we draw from this profession of faith?

First, atheism is a religion. Most atheists deny this; Mr. Newdow freely admits it.

Oh, Hans. So young and so incredibly stupid -- or willfully ignorant, or a liar. Take your pick.

Let's break this down a bit and take a look at it. Newdow admits that he has a religion. He has always admitted this. This is nothing new. He says that his religion denies the existence of any god. He states that his religious worldview is atheism. Again, no surprises there. That has been Newdow's tack with his whole project from the very beginning and he has never made any bones about it.

Atheism can be a part of, or a component of a religion. This is what Newdow said, and it is indeed the case in Newdow's religion. No one has ever disputed this.

However, atheism cannot be a religion in and of itself, as Zeiger claims.

Is "theism" a religion in and of itself? Of course not. "Theism" simply means "the presence of god-belief in a human being". Conversely, "atheism" means "the absence of god-belief in a human being". Also not a religion.

There, that wasn't so hard to understand after all, was it Hans?

As for his "the sky is falling!" diatribe about the evils of atheism and it's inevitable trail of tears leading to despotism - it is laughably, ridiculously silly.

Conservatives need an "enemy". Atheism is the boogey-man right now, just like communism, and Jews have been the boogey-man in the past.

What more do you need to understand Hans' paranoid rhetoric?

Sporkyy's picture

The benefits of theistic moral frameworks

This was originally a comment I left at the Exiled Preacher blog. I thought it might be good to make a blog post of my own based on it. I think the basics of the argument that since (at least certain kinds of) theism lead to more moral lives that it somehow counts as evidence that the supernatural parts (for which there is otherwise no evidence) are true as well.

I see many theists arguing that Christianity provides a moral framework that leads to better lives and atheism offers nothing. That’s an arguable point, until you examine the actual arguments which seem to drag in issues of the existence of God and Jesus.

Atheism isn’t the lack of a belief in the Christian moral framework (assuming they could ever agree on the particulars of one), it’s the lack of a belief in the existence of supreme beings. And before you try to say it is, it isn’t the lack of a belief in the use of moral frameworks to improve people’s lives either.

It’s like arguing that unicorns say people shouldn’t drink and drive. Aunicornism, the lack of a belief in unicorns, doesn’t offer anything. Thus unicorns are real.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Fairy Tales And Ignorance

Peggy Mader of Glen Rock, PA seems to be a little confused about the words "evolution" and "atheism". Specifically, she, like many of the pre-programmed Christian theological robots spewing off about intelligent design and evolution, conflate the two words into a pseudonym. First, she begins her letter to the editor of the York Daily Record by citing the First Amendment and asserting that ID is fact, not theory, without, you know, producing any actual, um, facts.

As if this were not enough, she ends up by asserting that scientists "declare" that atheism is the "only acceptable belief".

[link] In their zeal to preserve "separation of church and state," parents who are suing the Dover Area School District could inadvertently be taking away the very freedom the First Amendment was designed to protect.

The First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

They claim that it’s unconstitutional to teach the theory of intelligent design because it implies the existence of a god (small g). The evidence for intelligent design is scientific fact, not theology. Presenting it does not teach a religion. Declaring atheism to be the only acceptable belief does.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

I Am A Believer

What the heck is this "God" thing that religious folks keep going on about? They speak as if I should know what they are talking about.

Well, I don't.

Can someone, anyone, define this "God"? Describe it? What are it's characteristics? What is it? Why is it necessary? And how, exactly, do they know these things about this God? Why is your definition any better than the next person's?

I contend that the word "God" is literally incomprehensible. Each person who uses the word assigns a different meaning to it, and none of them match. The word "God" isn't like the word "rock". You can't point to a god and say, "There it is. Pick it up. Feel it, sense it, measure it. It's real." It seems to be a catch-all answer that is complete nonsense. Why is there air? God. Why do the birds sing? God. What happens after we die? God. It's a null-hypothesis. It answers no questions, simply pushes them farther away. It is a placebo. It is self-deception. It is bad for us. It stops us from thinking. If God is the answer, then why look for other answers?

I talk a lot about atheism on this blog. My own, and the definition of the word itself. I have forcefully argued in the past that atheism is merely a description. That it is not a "worldview", does not denote any particular belief or politics, and that it cannot be a "religion" unless you stretch the definitions of both the words "atheism" and "religion" all out of shape to the point where they become meaningless. I still believe this.

But recently I have begun to swing away from my weak-atheist position into the realm of positive belief. I know, I know. Weird, huh? I now claim the positive belief that there is no god. Or "God", or "gods", or "godlets", or "goddesses", etc. Period. The very idea is ridiculous. None of the words have any real meaning at all. They are semantically null carrying zero content. No information is conveyed by saying the words, only confusion. This is not to say that I am closed-minded to the very idea of a deity of some sort, just that the absence of evidence is the evidence of absence (to steal a phrase from the late Dr. Sagan.) I cannot in good conscience hold to my weak-atheist position in light of this lack of evidence.

Now, before all of my theistically-inclined readers freak right the hell out and start listing their own personal opinions about the nature and attributes of their gods, let me say this; If you can give me a good, clear, cogent, and concise definition of your god-thing and point me at some real evidence that supports your definition, then I will consider your evidence critically, objectively and make a belief decision about your particular god. I am nothing if not fair. Heh. If there is good, credible, incontrovertible evidence to support your own flavor of deity, I will become a theist.

As you can probably imagine, I am not holding my breath.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Basic Training

Alister E. McGrath is a Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, currently serving as Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford. He's the author who wrote the recent book called "The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World" (amazon). This is a smart guy. He holds degrees in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and theology. He started out his academic life as an atheist, but then converted to Christianity in 1971 after arriving at Oxford University.

Why you ask?

[link] In the midst of this growing delight in the natural sciences, which exceeded anything I could have hoped for, I found myself rethinking my atheism. It is not easy for anyone to subject his core beliefs to criticism; my reason for doing so was the growing realization that things were not quite as straightforward as I had once thought. A number of factors had converged to bring about what I suppose I can reasonably describe as a crisis of faith—or lack thereof.

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