Personal Journey Series: Hi, I’m the Unassuming Atheist. How are you?

I now have the pleasure of sharing my little corner of the Internet with the audience here at Atheist Analysis as well as my personal blog, so I felt that it was appropriate to briefly introduce myself.

 

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia with a family that was not particularly religious. Everyone in my family did, however, indentify themselves as Southern Baptists.  I started going to a church near our house at the age of 11. I went by myself and think my primary motivation for going was curiosity and wanting to be a part of a group.

 

I was baptized and spent the next 25 years or so going in and out of being active in various churches as my work and Navy service moved me and my family around a bit.

 

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My journey that led me to Atheism started about 15 years ago while attending a Sunday school class that consisted of adults roughly the same age as me. In this class, the teacher (with great conviction) told the class that “the earth is 6,000 years old.” Being a lifelong history buff, I was like “whaaa?” I looked around me and these seemingly reasonable adults attending the class with me were all nodding in agreement. I was shocked. I actually felt a bit scared, like I would imagine one would feel in a room full of people that suddenly turn into vampires.

 

On the drive home that day, I thought about what I heard in that class. I was puzzled. I was confused. Look up both of those words in a thesaurus and all of the similar words listed for them describes what I was feeling. I didn’t stop going to church at that time, but I did start paying closer attention to what I was hearing.

 

I could go on and on, but my story above is where I began to question organized religion as a whole and ultimately decided that Atheism was more in alignment with what my heart (and head) was telling me.
Continue reading “Personal Journey Series: Hi, I’m the Unassuming Atheist. How are you?”

Lessons Learned Atop Mount Carmel

Think of what follows as a kind of love letter to any Christian fundamentalists who might have stumbled onto the trove of impious wisdom that is AtheistAnalysis.

 

*In my best stained-glass Sunday-School-teacher voice*:

 

Boys and girls, let’s open our Blessed Old Leather-Bound Bibles (NRSV) to I Kings chapter 18 and read together this inspiring story from the Word of God, beginning with verse 17:

 

*****

 

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” He answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
Continue reading “Lessons Learned Atop Mount Carmel”

Atheists Can Be Moral: Definitions Make All the Difference.

It is often claimed by theists that atheists are incapable of being moral, because atheists lack a “moral authority.” I was recently confronted with the notion that it is possible for me to practice “good ethics”, but not possible for me to be moral, because I don’t have an acting moral authority, outside myself.

 

I don’t want to beat around the bush too much, so here are some definitions:

 

mor·al

Pronunciation: mr-l, mär-

Function: adjective

1 a : of or relating to the judgment of right and wrong in human behavior : ETHICAL b :expressing or teaching an idea of right behavior <a moral poem> c : agreeing with a standard of right behavior : GOOD <moral conduct> d : able to choose between right and wrong

2 : likely but not proved : VIRTUAL <a moral certainty>

 

moral

Function: noun

1 : the lesson to be learned from a story or an experience

2 plural : moral conduct <a high standard of morals>

3 plural : moral teachings or rules

 

eth·i·cal

Pronunciation: eth-i-kl

Function: adjective

1 : of or relating to ethics

2 a : following accepted rules of conduct b : following professional standards of conduct

3 : sold only on a doctor’s prescription <ethical drugs>

 

eth·ics

Pronunciation: eth-iks

Function: noun singular or plural

1 : a branch of philosophy dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation

2 : the rules of moral conduct governing an individual or a group

 

Now that we have the definitions right in front of us, the theist’s argument doesn’t hold water. The definition of moral has the word “ethical” right in it. Moral and ethical are synonyms.

 

Let’s refer to: moral 1 : the lesson to be learned from a story or an experience

It clearly states that morals can be learned via a story or through experience. Theists claim to learn their morals by way of reading their holy books. Atheists obtain their morals by way of life experiences. Whether those experiences be their own or experiences they’ve witnessed or read about, atheists are learning from experiences. Which means, atheists are moral.

 

Now for: eth·ics 2 : the rules of moral conduct governing an individual or a group

 

The definition of ethics clearly states it is possible for an individual to have one’s own set of moral rules governing one’s conduct.  Thus, atheists can be are moral. Words mean what they mean, whether you like the definition or not.

 

 

On Dealing with the Mystery of Death and the Inevitability of Extinction

(Written on my goddamn sixty-fifth birthday)

I’m going to begin this uncharacteristically brief essay with a bit of personal disclosure: I am a philosophy-program dropout. If William Lane Craig is reading this (and he isn’t), I’m sure he’s sneering at me. That’s fair: I certainly sneer at him often enough.

The degrees I managed to accrue (four at last count) while wending my way through various academic programs over the course of more than three decades are all in music. But I did spend a couple of years in a graduate program in philosophy and accumulated almost enough course credit for a masters-level degree in a field for which I was and am surely unsuited. Thinking appeals to me: mind games don’t. (To paraphrase the sorely-missed George Carlin, if I’m going to spend my time masturbating, I want to have a little something to show for it when I’m done.)

For this onetime student of philosophy, Edmund Husserl was the lion at the gate. About midway through my fourth semester in the program, as I slogged my way through Husserl’s opaque, byzantine, parenthetic prose larded with specialized terminology apparently shared by no one, it occurred to me that what I was reading shed far more heat than light on the problems that I found interesting, and that my brain was hurting not because it was growing but because it was under assault. I lost interest in making the effort and walked away.
Continue reading “On Dealing with the Mystery of Death and the Inevitability of Extinction”