Tuesday, April 24, 2012

God Read An Atheist Blog Post, And He Liked It!

After yesterday's unexpected flood of visitors to my blog I received many e-mails and comments. I'm happy to report that most of them were from people who had rather thoughtful things to share, even if some of them were the same, tired arguments we atheists have heard (and successfully refuted) time and again from religionists (and sometime agnostics) who are unable to think their way out of the mental maze they seem to be trapped in.

"Atheism is a religion." (Nope. It's simply a lack of belief based on the failure of anyone to make believing in invisible deities make any more sense than believing in the hallucinations of mental patients who also believe what they are telling you is true.) Atheism is a religion like "off" is a television channel.

"It takes a lot of faith not to believe in a god." Nope. Just a knife called "critical thinking" to cut through the bullshit. (And maybe some rudimentary science knowledge to bust up the myth that without a god nothing could exist.)

However, there was one woman who mentioned something that was at least somewhat unique: she expressed disgust at the fact that I was bringing up all of the horrible things that had happened more than a century ago to non-believers at the hands of religionists as though they were still relevant today, and cited that as a reason why she found no value in my blog post. "These things aren't happening today. They have nothing to do with modern-day believers."

Well, let me tell you why this woman, like so many other religionists, is wrong.

Many of the things that were happening to non-believers at the hands of religionists more than a century ago are still happening today.

I mentioned the high school student here in Tennessee who was prevented from having her article included in the school newspaper because it promoted atheism.

I cited the fact that, even in the year 2012, the Boy Scouts of America does not allow atheists (or homosexuals) to hold positions of leadership in their organization, as though we are second-class citizens or incapable of serving as positive role-models, as though we are without morals. (Too bad there isn't a "critical thinking" badge Boy Scouts can earn.)

Teachers keep their atheism "in the closet" because they know it just isn't good for their career if the parents of their predominantly religious students start wondering if that atheist teacher is going to dismember their child and cannibalize him for lunch one day...

Yes, atheists are persecuted by religious folk even today. The fact that it happens so often and religionists seem to think it no longer occurs is rather curious, given the fact that persecution of atheists by the religious seems to be escalating now that it has become politically incorrect to persecute those who are members of different religions than your own.

It's become safer than ever to practice a religion different than the dominant religion in any given area in the United States, but we atheists are clearly taking up the slack... it seems that many religionists are now directing their persecution efforts toward non-believers more than ever. The message is clear: "You don't have to believe in the same thing we do, but you'd better believe in something that requires your brain to shut down, because we don't tolerate critical thinking 'round here."

They may not be burning us at the stake again quite yet, but we are starting to see some of the same fires of persecution rekindling that even most religionists thought had been burnt out for good long ago. We atheists know better, and if there were an all-knowing god, it would too.


  1. Some American Christians have been involved for some years now in encouraging Ugandan Christians to not just discriminate against homosexuals, but to include the death penalty for them.

  2. "The message is clear: "You don't have to believe in the same thing we do, but you'd better believe in something that requires your brain to shut down, because we don't tolerate critical thinking 'round here."

    Much truth in that, Angie.

    As I've stated in your previous post, I've only lived in Tennessee for about 5 years now. Prior to that, I moved from Ohio (where I was raised -- as a Christian, Episcopalian); I refused to be confirmed at 12 (much to my mother's chagrin), already having too many unanswered/unbelievably-answered questions; and then in my early 20's, I moved to Los Angeles, where I lived for over 25 years.

    NEVER had I been approached -- other than out of curiosity -- about my religious beliefs until I moved to Tennessee. Here, you not only must be Christian, but preferably, Baptist (and even within that denomination, there are several sects that some do not respect).

    Having witnessed so much hypocrisy from these "You're going to hell" so-called Christians, I have committed even more to my non-beliefs.

    It's my conviction that the choice of joining an organized religion or not is such a sensitive life choice that it is rude beyond belief (no pun intended) to chastise any other person who exercises their right to choose their own life path.

    1. "I refused to be confirmed at 12 (much to my mother's chagrin), already having too many unanswered/unbelievably-answered questions"

      Gilligan, I have neither the time, nor inclination, to teach you reading comprehension.

      (Besides, don't you have a post office to visit and share more of your Christ-like behavior?)

  3. Rather than reading the 1 sided views of this blog, I suggest any "critical thinkers" interested in the discussion go read the actual comments. :)

    Especially considering some of them come from agnostics/atheists who are tired of these new "born again atheist" zealots that keep appearing. :)

    1. I have as little respect for agnostics and atheists who think it is acceptable to tell those of us who fight for equality for ourselves to STFU as I do for anyone who tells a rape victim, an African American experiencing racism, or anyone else who is so blatantly persecuted in society to "sit down and be quiet". People who are themselves afraid to "rock the boat" are free to sit quietly, but they have no right to criticize those of us who fight for equality loudly, as they themselves are direct beneficiaries of our actions, and it is appalling that anyone would criticize ANYONE for refusing to quietly tolerate such bigotry and persecutorial behavior simply because they do not talk to invisible friends.

    2. Chris S sounds an awfully lot like a fraudulent agnostic. Lots of Xians pose as agnostics because they think it makes their ridiculous arguments sound more intelligent. It doesn't. And it also reveals them to be the frauds that they are - willing to go to any lengths to continue pulling the wool over their own eyes and as many others who will allow it, all because they are like frightened children, afraid to see clearly... Desperately clinging to the possibility of a supernatural daddy that watches over them like an infant to its mother's nipple.

  4. From ABC News:

    Religious Faithfuls Lack Logic, Study Implies

    A rare and controversial study merging science and faith suggests that analytic thinking, a process that favors reason over intuition, promotes religious disbelief.

    Canadian researchers used math puzzles and “priming,” a technique that plants subtle suggestions in pictures and text, to persuade more than 650 believers and non-believers to think analytically. They then used surveys to probe religious beliefs, from faith in God to the power of prayer.

    “If you can get people to engage in analytic thinking, whether it’s by looking at pictures or showing them difficult-to-read text, analytic thinking promotes religious disbelief,” said Will Gervais, a PhD student in psychology at the University of British Columbia and lead author of the study published today in the journal Science. “This indicates that analytic thinking is one of many factors affecting people’s religious beliefs.”

    In the first of five tests, people who solved a math problem analytically rather than arriving at the intuitive answer were more likely to report religious disbelief. For example: A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? The intuitive answer is $0.10; the analytic answer is $0.05.

    In the second test, subjects were randomly assigned to look at one of four images. Those who viewed Rodin’s “The Thinker,” which was previously found to prime analytic thinking, reported having weaker religious beliefs. The third and fourth tests used words like “think,” “reason,” and “rational” to prime analytic thinking, which was also linked to religious disbelief.

    In the fifth test, 91 people who rated their religious beliefs on a survey in a hard-to-read font were more likely to report religious disbelief than 91 subjects given the same questions in an easy-to-read font. The difference in font is a subtler way to prime analytic thinking, Gervais said.

    “If people find something hard to process, it engages analytic thinking,” he said. “It’s a neat manipulation.”

    Intuitive thinking, a mental shortcut that bypasses reason, is linked to stronger religious beliefs.

    “It’s largely intuitive processes that let people form religious beliefs,” said Gervais. “If you’re surrounded by a lot of other religious people publically demonstrating their faith, you’re more likely to develop those beliefs.”

    The study does little to calm the culture clash between science and religion.

    “Religion versus science; believers versus atheists; our evidence doesn’t say much about those debates,” said Gervais. “But it sheds light on one cognitive factor that may influence where people stand on those debates.

    It also challenges the notion that religious beliefs are set in stone.

    “People have this impression that they’re really core, central beliefs that don’t change. But we know people’s religious beliefs can vary across situations and across their lifespan,” Gervais said.

    But devout believers may be shocked to hear their faith can wax and wane with tricky tests.

    “I suppose some people might find it surprising,” Gervais said, “that really subtle experimental manipulations might be able to temporarily alter religious beliefs.”


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