Religion: Best Intentions, Useless Today

© Jordan Smith

I feel like religion definitely had a purpose, many years ago. Its inception was our first attempt at scientific exploration and philosophy. Before our species had the scientific knowledge to ponder such questions as why items fall to the ground? Or how does it rain? We first had the thirst for knowledge – curiosity. This is a lovely statement about the good nature of humanity and in fact most life on earth. We are a curious bunch. Ignorant of basic facts, and without any true measurements or understanding of life, we, as a species attempted to fill the gaps in our knowledge with explanations – sadly this lead to a one size fits all answer ‘God did it’

 

As we know from religious scripture, all 3 of the monolithic religions tried and completely failed to understand science. From the old Jewish bible which claims men come from dirt & women come from the ribs of men, to the Quran which claims the sun sets in the mud & sperm comes from the back bone & ribs (spot the copycat pattern?) To the new Testament which claims men can rise from the dead and walk on water.

 

Funnily enough, religious claims of astounding miracles happened often up until the invention of the camera and video camera, then suddenly, God stopped letting people walk on water or showing himself in the clouds – then Photoshop was invented, and back came the claims of divinity – along with airbrushed supermodels and images of teenagers with oddly placed beer cans in their hands. I’m not saying there is a connection between the fact miracles disappeared when humans had the opportunity to prove or disprove them … Actually I am, miracles are bullshit, the connection is clear.
Continue reading “Religion: Best Intentions, Useless Today”

When They Stand at the Edge of Non-Belief It’s so Hard Not to Push

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

The questionnaire that I have my students fill out at the beginning of every semester includes questions designed with a view to getting to know who my students are. I always find the answers interesting and revealing, and occasionally alarming.

 

One of the questions I ask is, “What is the biggest idea you’ve ever had to come to terms with?” As you can no doubt imagine, I see quite a range of answers to this one: everything from “what goes on inside a black hole?” to “I’ll soon have to move out of my parents’ basement,” with a smattering of references to mortality and religion in between. A few students leave that one blank – just don’t care to touch it. (Have they never wrestled with a big idea?) A few semesters ago, one student responded with, “fucking magnets – how do they work?

 

Among last semester’s crop of students was a young woman from a small Oklahoma town who wrote the following in response to my nosy question: “Everyone does not believe what I do from a religious perspective. It’s hard for me to understand why others believe what they do. I am Southern Baptist.”

 

Believe it or not, I understand her predicament and sympathize. I’ve been there.

 

What I wish I could have said to her, and of course didn’t and never will on principle, is something like the following:
Continue reading “When They Stand at the Edge of Non-Belief It’s so Hard Not to Push”

An Atheist Participates in Evolution: Broken Ears and Fears

The fourth of July has come and gone once again with a bit more of a bang in Michigan than usual; the legalization of airborne fireworks reducing neighborhoods to the quiet relaxing sounds of Afghanistan and Syria, not to mention rampant pet terror at what could only be “The End of Days”. All this culminating as I sat watching the Kentwood Michigan fireworks display with an uneasy feeling as to the development of my baby girl in utero and my own evolutionary failings.

 

For those of you who haven’t gathered from the above pseudonym I am fond of, Deafilosophy, I am an 85-90 percent deaf atheist with no memory of ever having full spectrum hearing.

 

The reason my handicap is important for a post about the evolution of a tiny life has to do with genetics, mutation, protein mis-folding, and bullying.  I know that last one is a bit of a stretch but, patience grasshopper, all will be tied in a neat little bow before long.

Continue reading “An Atheist Participates in Evolution: Broken Ears and Fears”

“Can’t You See” by Deafilosophy

As the video says, this is about life and what makes me hurt.  It was recorded in a basement session that I just hit record on. Forgive the lack of editing and raw nature of the audio but I think it matters when it is just from within.  From the people ill never meet who deserve better to the tiny dancer right here at home, I love everyone and we can do this.  We CAN change the world, you just have to dream.
Thanks for watching

 

 

EDIT: Yes I know the gay marriage was upheld by the SCOTUS earlier today but this was recorded earlier…

God Isn’t Real but the Devil Is: Childhood’s End and Five Years of Hell

Warning: The Following is a true story with names changed for privacy and safety.  This is a trigger warning so please be careful if you have a history of abuse as this story could cause a recurrence.

Hi, my name is Josephine and I am 12 years old; I’m in the sixth grade, and my life is pretty good. I live with my grandparents and my younger brother. My sister Nicole, her husband and their two children live down the road. I like to visit and spend time with my sister, so I usually walk to her house and we clean or watch television or something like that.

 

Today was different though.

 

Today, I walked there and my sister was not there. He was, though. He said that Nicole would be back soon. He sat down beside me on the couch. Then He started tickling me. At first it was kind of fun, but then He started touching places that my grandma said no one was supposed to touch. I thought maybe it was just an accident. Nicole came home soon after that.

 

I went back to Nicole’s house about a week later. My nephew was the only one who was there. I sat down in the living room and he went back to his bedroom. Not long after I got there, He came home. I got up to walk to my nephew’s room, but while I was walking down the hall, He grabbed me from behind. His hands cupped around my still developing breasts. I tried to squirm away, but His arms are stronger than I am. He leans over and whispers in my ear “You know you can’t tell anyone that we play like this.” I didn’t like this game. This game made me feel dirty, like I needed to shower. Maybe I am just overreacting. Maybe He will stop this soon, He is like my brother. He and my sister got married when I was only four years old. Maybe He really is just playing.
Continue reading “God Isn’t Real but the Devil Is: Childhood’s End and Five Years of Hell”

Human Nature: An Issue of Inheritance

Read more from David HERE

What are we to make of human nature? The answer depends on which story of birth is believed. Birthing stories are about identifying those attributes that continue on from the mother-figure or simply that which comes before (Turner, 1996). This is a relation of cause/effect, where something comes from having causal connections to what it becomes and manifests in the world. Whether we speak of “coming out of” or “emerging,” as in “his actions came out of a sense of fear,” we are ascribing the power of causation through the linkage. Where a person believes humanity came out of will largely determine the characteristics associated with being human.

 

On the one hand is an evolutionary origin, where our inheritance is an incremental accrual of adaptive features in relation to particular environments. On the other is a monolithic origin, dually instantiated by humanity being either fallen and predisposed to destruction or benevolent and with the right context will inevitably pursue progress. The first is usually explored through science, notably evolutionary sociobiology and psychology, whereas the latter two can be found in mainline fundamentalist religious ideologies and liberal liberation-type theologies, respectively. Interestingly while humanity as evolutionary construction is usually found in the domain of science, contemplative spiritual traditions and mindfulness training also explore humanity through this rubric.
Continue reading “Human Nature: An Issue of Inheritance”

Letter from the Editor: I’m Just Tired

As the title says, I’m just tired, exhausted, worn down, exasperated… Does anyone else feel it?

 

Wait, let me elaborate before you sigh and cast your weary gaze to the back button, expecting this to be nothing but a series of complaints from a millennial who actually has to work for his money. You would be quite wrong, of course, as I rarely give people exactly what they expect.

 

As an activist, blogger, podcast host, engineer, homeowner, small business owner, husband, responsible pet owner, and soon to be father of a tiny human female I accept the weariness this will dispel. I understand that life can be filled with siestas and 40 hour cog in the machine workweeks if one can willingly submit. I understand all of these things but that is not the reason for my fatigue, it is the repetition.

 

obama-nazi-communist-muslim

Repetition in argumentation, repetition in political idiocy, repetition in online bigotry, repetition in financial irresponsibility, repetition of traditional oppression, and the list goes on and on…

 

I am so tired of the same arguments from the right wing arch conservatives: gay marriage will destroy all moral structure ending in malicious bestiality, deregulation of the economy will create more jobs not slave wages and serfdom, tax breaks-school funding / social programming cuts will force the poor to actually work, and Obama is a Muslim Nazi.

 

I am so tired of reading stories of political leaders announcing their intentions to take big money out of politics when we can see the list of their campaign contributors are the top wall street mega corporations. I am tired of politicians charged with protecting the American people putting “Freedom”, “Patriot”, or “Religious Freedom” at the beginning of some of the most subversive legislation to ever attack our basic human rights. And, I am tired of a two party system that uses unethical financial bullying to prevent decent discourse and the diversity of the people from being represented in our “Democratic Republic” election cycles.
Continue reading “Letter from the Editor: I’m Just Tired”

Personal Journey Series – Reflections on the Passing of a Father

10410880_10206543912696510_9015151731246597764_n

Sometimes life has a funny way of kicking you in the ass, and death has a way of helping you remember memories you once had forgotten. I don’t know where to begin or why this should even bother me the way it does. For this connection has been one that was long lost, drifted away on a sea of time and space only to be brought to my mind with the passing of a common acquaintance.

 

This week I received an email from an old friend. One that used to share life and happiness with me as we journeyed through love, loss, and friendship. His life was one no one would envy but his hard and honest work has always won out. This friend left for another state years ago, and we slowly started to lose touch. His favorite saying was, “We have said it all before. What more can we say?” This used to bother me, as I was feeling the distance of his path leaving mine and as the winding roads started to split apart until little to no contact was made. This friend had a hard life. I got to share some of his struggles and learn with him through many a trial as we gathered our belongings and hiked the road of life.
Continue reading “Personal Journey Series – Reflections on the Passing of a Father”

If I were god

If I were god, I would have set the universe in motion from an easily discoverable point of creation. I wouldn’t have told primitive beings through mental meditation techniques the importance of the origins story. To proclaim the beginning of life I would have created a pillar indestructible and visible to all those who wanted to view it

 

If I were god, I would have created one language that humans could all speak. It would be easily understood and without nuisance to learn. I would have enlightened man to garner the power of this language in order to prevent the division of language barriers quite unlike the biblical story of the tower of Babel where I purposely confused mankind

 

If I were god, the world would not have natural disasters that kill millions of people. If I felt the need to end the lives of millions I would proclaim aloud why; I would not take the innocent, but focus on those that went against my commands. I would write it in the sky or appear simultaneously to everyone to make this proclamation to allow time for repentance and redemption.

 

If I were god, I would I would make it known to man every time he asked me. There wouldn’t be individual visions but one consolidated vision give to those who ask where I am. Humans would know that I am real, not by having to develop and retool old philosophies, but by establishing one never changing philosophy. There would be no need for churches of varying types because everyone would know what I stood for and who I am.
Continue reading “If I were god”

The Journey from Discovery to Action: My Thoughts on Reason Con 2015

As I flew back from the most recent adventure, I felt the need to record my thoughts, feelings, excitement, and loss. If you did not know, Jonathan and I went to ReasonCon in North Carolina this weekend. We were able to meet each other for the first time, were able to meet some of our supporters and fans, and were able to lay out plans for future episodes and events. The event itself was an amazing experience and could not have been done without the help of some donors and fellow patreons. We are deeply grateful for this opportunity to be able to grow as individuals, while bringing together many individuals in the secular community. Many thanks go out to Robert and Lisa Burrows, Shane, Wes, and Robert plus the many patreon supporters on our network.

 

What The Hell is ReasonCon?

 

IMG_5827

For those of you that have never been to an atheist convention, do yourself a favor and find one that is in your area and attend. I can attest this is a very rewarding experience and one that I hope everyone gets a chance to experience. The stories and lives of every individual that goes are so amazing and unique that there is no way you will be able to just go to one, nor to meet everyone who has come. The days are filled with companionship, camaraderie, food, love and experiencing others’ lives through stories. These two days were amazing and I heard many peoples’ stories that are so unique but similar at the same time that you almost feel like you are living their lives while they tell their stories. ReasonCon provides the outlet for many individuals who do not have an easy life as secularists living in a mainly religious environment. Yet, we saw many individuals reaching out to help others while at the conference. The love spilled over their cup, if I may steal a christian reference. This conference focused on many different avenues within the secular movement, but most of all offered an opportunity to allow fellow secularists to engage each other, develop new ways of interacting within our communities, and helped us see that there is still more work to be done to help everyone safely come out if they feel the desire to do so.
Continue reading “The Journey from Discovery to Action: My Thoughts on Reason Con 2015”