Monday, June 20, 2011

Atheism vs. New Atheism

I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time now and finally I have decided to write a post about it. Ever since I declared myself an atheist 17 years ago, I have always been a voracious reader of classical books on the subject. One of my first "idols" was Robert G. Ingersoll. I have a great admiration for those that stood up against religious beliefs during a time when their rebelliousness could lead to a long prison sentence and in some instances even death.

One of the things I admire most of the classical works on atheism or biblical criticism was that they were straight forward and did not beat around the bush. I was pretty astounded to read in these books that many of the same sentiments I held towards religious beliefs, Christianity specifically were held by some of the greatest minds of the past. There were times where I would share with my family members a paragraph from one of these books and would say with pride and enthusiasm: "I could have written this book!"

The very first written works from an atheist prospective that came out were not cluttered with theology, and philosophy. They were no nonsense interpretations of what the bible said and were scrutinized by what was read in the scriptures as they were written. I personally favor this approach because I honestly don't think that everyone back then and even today that have subscribed to Christian doctrines bothered to study theology before they accepted the bible as the word of God or the doctrines contained within its pages as absolute, inerrant, "truth."

Today's atheism or as some like to call it the new atheism is nothing more than a lot of fluff. Atheists are letting the Christians dictate how these debates should go by giving them way to much space. Apologists for instance have brought philosophy onto the playing field, or should I say their idea of what philosophy is. It's actually nothing more than Christian doctrine with a twist. They get atheists to argue about the characteristics of God: omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc. when in reality even their ideas of this are based on what is written in the bible.

For any of these so called attributes to be valid they have to be agreed upon by both parties involved in the dispute. As an atheist I personally don't accept the attributes of God as described in the bible as valid. In order to do so would require an enormous amount of faith on my behalf. I would have to accept that the bible was somehow inspired by God himself, then accept that what is written in the bibles pages are divine and absolute truths. I don't accept any of these principles and there is not sufficient or even satisfactory evidence to make me think otherwise.

I find theology and apologetics to be nothing more than a complete waste of time and energy. When I challenge Christians on their beliefs I do so based on what the bible actually says and nothing more. I could get caught up in the never ending circular arguments that theists tend to favor to bolster their ego and their position that I can't prove the non-existence of God. But just because it is impossible to do so convincingly does not make it true either. Just because we can't prove the non-existence of God does not automatically make the default position belief in God. The other alternative is we just don't know for sure (agnosticism), but I even have a problem with this as well.

I think that taking a neutral position on a subject of such magnitude that affects so many peoples lives for better or for worse is in fact cowardly. All religious beliefs are based on ancient myths and oral traditions, using this reasoning then the next thing you have to ask yourself is why should the Christian myth be the exception to the rule? Because I can't prove that Zeus does not exist does not automatically make me take the alternative position that he does.

When it comes to discussions about religious beliefs I prefer to argue from what is written in scripture as is as opposed to inventing silly circular arguments that seem learned on the surface but are nothing more than window dressing. Atheists of the past did not have to worry so much about theology and apologists arguments. I personally think that these older arguments were far more superior to the arguments being presented these days using philosophy, so called logic and reason which from a Christian perspective is nothing more than tainted by their bias to believe their falsehoods regardless of the evidence against it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nature without God does not need any explanations

I am often asked by readers of my blogs and viewers of my youtube channel the following question: If I was convinced that Christianity wasn’t true, then why did I also discount my belief in God as well? The answer in my view is quite simple; I did not see the need to continue believing in God when I had found so many alternative explanations to the world and life in general.

I have been an atheist for the past 17 years and have found that life is so much simpler when it is viewed from a naturalistic perspective. One of the things that we as a species cannot control is nature. Nature does not discriminate against person, place, or thing. Nature is random and thoughtless and therefore a more ready explanation in my view as to why natural disasters happen. It explains how so many innocents can be killed in an earthquake, tsunami, and tornadoes among many other natural phenomenon.

Nature reminds us that life is fragile and not something we can control or determine its length. Children are born dead, and in general children die every day as well as people of all ages and races. There is no escaping death since it is one of those certainties that we can never shake. You are born into the world, you live your life for better or for worse, and then you die. Sometimes people die without fulfilling all of their worldly dreams or as they were on the path to fulfillment. Others never even come close to their dreams and live a life of suffering and under achievements.

I think that it is much more difficult to explain the deaths of friends, family, loved ones, and especially children when we include God in the equation. People waste their time looking for some meaning to every tragedy that touches their lives and often find it more difficult to move on in life. It is hard to try to find a reason why your loved one died suddenly and tragically in a car accident, mugging, or even worse, became the victim of a murderer. When you view the world as natural, it becomes self explanatory. There is no why, things just happen and it is in my opinion so much easier to deal with a loss than to try and figure out why God allowed such and such a thing to happen.

Superstition has never helped a person to deal with reality, nor helped a society to progress and excel in science and mathematics. Every once in awhile a brilliant researcher makes an awesome discovery as in the case of Mendel and his study of traits but it was not because he was enlightened by God. It was because he put in the work of a scientist and observer and used his mind to come to what was the most logical conclusions. He relied on experiments and evidence that could be reproduced by anyone willing to put in the work.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Atheism is a personal choice

1 He called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases,2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 5 As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as evidence against them.' Luke 9:1,2,5 (NJB)

The above quote was the original mandate that Jesus allegedly gave his twelve apostles. Even then he gave the people a choice to either accept him or reject them. He did not instruct them to force their theology down people’s throats or to fight with unbelievers regarding their beliefs. In fact he also stated: 9 But avoid foolish speculations, and those genealogies, and the quibbles and disputes about the Law -- they are useless and futile.10 If someone disputes what you teach, then after a first and a second warning, have no more to do with him:

According to the bible from the beginning in the O.T to the N.T. it has always been a matter of choice to either accept or reject what they preach. Today’s Christians completely ignore this mandate. They try to influence our politicians and legislators in order to make laws that conform with their religious worldview. They openly condemn any action that goes against their beliefs and their so called divine moral codes. The bible states that you shall not judge so that you will not be judged but it seems like that is all that Christians do.

They judge the way we dress, the way we walk and the lifestyles we as individuals choose for ourselves. They are oppressed by their own beliefs yet they want to oppress the rest of us with that nonsense they chose to believe and accept. They contradict the mandate to just leave us to our own “evil” devices.

Theists need to recognize that just as they have made a choice to believe in the fairy tales and myths included in an ancient book, we too have chosen the opposite. I as an atheist who has been a believer and upon closer study and scrutiny of the scriptures has chosen to abandon those beliefs should not have to justify my choice to anyone but myself. I hate it when a theist asks why and then they try to explain to me what has happened by spewing that same doctrinal drivel that they themselves have been deceived with.

Atheism is not a religion nor is it a lifestyle; it is a worldview, one that does not include a belief in the biblical God or any other gods for that matter. Supernaturalism has no place in the rational mind and in the natural world. We have no doctrines or creeds to follow and we don’t congregate to worship nature or nothingness. When we do get together is to discuss the latest scientific discoveries or legislations that threaten our way of life.

One of the things that irritated me the most about theism is the threat of eternal damnation simply for not believing or in their terminology for backsliding (leaving the faith). The threats of what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of an angry God etc. I think that aside from my personal choice to abandon my beliefs based on my own studies and conclusions that this last thing did not help in any way in getting me back.

The biblical God reminds me of some privileged snot nose teen whose dad is the sheriff of a town and feels that that give him carte blanche to do as he pleases without any repercussions. The idea of a tyrannical God just makes me sick to my stomach and in my opinion is not in any way worthy of praise but rather rebellion. I choose to not believe for many reasons some logical and reasonably thought out and some just outright personal. But the way I see it at least in my own life I have no use for gods or deities in my life. Life is hard enough here on Earth to be worrying whether some mythical heaven or place of torment awaits me upon my demise.

Christians don’t leave you be, they insist that you believe. Well I insist that you leave me alone I have no interest in pursuing your myths any further nor bowing down to your imaginary deity. Life is filled with enough challenges on a daily basis for me to waste my time with fairy tales and doctrinal drivel.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Irrational Faith

Recently I had a discussion with someone on you tube who tried to refute a video I made that claimed that the bible was not the word of God. In this video I cited exactly ten reasons why I was convinced that the bible was in fact like God; a creation of man. My main reason was the fact that the bible contained many human, historical, and scientific errors.

The person who was discussing this with me declared that the bible was the word of God and that this was in and of itself an irrefutable fact! When I prodded him for evidence he shrugged it off and instead insisted that I provide evidence to back up my claims. I told him that I was not the one required to provide evidence since I was not the one making positive claims. In fact, the onus of proving that God existed and somehow inspired the bible was on him.

This discussion led me to believe that theists and non believers see and understand reason, logic, and rationality in completely different ways. Faith as I have always stated is convenient in that it does not require evidence of any kind. All you need to believe a claim on faith is the willingness to accept those claims without question. I am convinced that there is no way that you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, although I am myself an atheist. Objectively, religious beliefs and their doctrines cannot be proven.

Because of the demand for evidence by not just atheists but many other non believers theists have been forced to try and make sense of their nonsensical beliefs. From a logical standpoint there is no way this is possible. The only thing left for them to do is resort to their favorite past time: cherry picking. What cannot be made sense of objectively or from a literal sense is then reinterpreted to be an allegory, a parable or some other such nonsense.

When science proves religionists wrong they then try to reinterpret their beliefs to at least be partially in agreement with scientific findings. A perfect example of this is the matter of evolution. Theists generally believed that we were created in 6 days and that the Earth itself was no more than 7,000 years old. But with the overwhelming evidence for evolution some theists have accepted evolution as fact. Of course it is a fact with a little twist of God, they state now that God created man and all living things through the process of evolution! You just can’t win with theists.

I have had many discussions with theists on the advances in medicine and they simply say God gave the doctors the knowledge to save lives etc. It seems to me that no matter how irrational religious beliefs can be theists will do anything to make it fit their worldview. They cling to their beliefs like a drowning man clings to a flotation device that is tossed out to him.

I know that it is a stretch; but I personally would love to see the day when man outgrows his dependency on myths and ancient superstitions. I long for the day when the bible will be shelved in the section labeled mythology in the book stores and local libraries. I yearn for the day when religion loses its death grip on the minds of men, and when we can all rely on our own learning and ingenuity to keep our lives progressive and always moving forward. I actually pity the theists but I personally don’t miss those days when I was once of them. I feel free as an atheist: free of body and mind.