New Turkey: Eyes on the Ground

“Eat, ye gentlemen; this appetizing feast is yours. Till you are satisfied, nauseous- eat till you burst.”

 

These are the best words to describe Turkey’s last 12 years under an Islamo-fascist regime. Since the ruling party -namely AKP- became the absolute and suppressive power, Turkey has undergone numerous radical changes, especially in social norms, education, economy, and foreign affairs. Popping up out of almost nowhere – with astonishing global support and financial resources- AKP won the votes of conservatives and liberals.

 

During their first five-year-long rule, even the most skeptical secularists started to question their biases about these allegedly conservative figures; hence a minority of them actually voted for them. During the time of the general elections in 2007, a great number of people were expecting a coalition, until the unexpected happened, and once again, overwhelmingly, AKP became the ruling party.

 

During the Istanbul Bing Overseas Seminar, Asia Chiao and her classmates explored the city's complex history through a study of sties, sounds, and smells. Photo courtesy of Ali Yaycioğlu.
Photo courtesy of Ali Yaycioğlu.

That is when all the nightmarish years began. First, on claims of unproven treason scenarios the regime took thousands of soldiers, journalists, and politicians into custody, then sent them to prison without solid proof they committed such crimes. Concomitantly, Islamic rules and regulations hit the education and civic institutions. The State started to convert more than half of the public schools into religious education spheres. Then came the speculations to open mesjids in kindergartens which grew violent. People started to protest these alarming changes, though civil rights organizations have been faced with several charges; not surprisingly, yet again the main allegations included secret witnesses. Whilst society was in shock, the government, under a cloud, started to engage in conflicts, first with Israel and then with Syria.
Continue reading “New Turkey: Eyes on the Ground”

When Religion Kills: The Cowardice of the Dogmatic

As reported in the NY Times, Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger critical of religion, was murdered yesterday in Dhaka, Bangladesh, hacked to death by machete-wielding religious adherents. His wife was attacked as well and is currently in critical condition. If we are to follow in the footsteps of the current Pope, that bastion of progressive values championed by liberals ignorant of Catholic dogma, Roy got what was coming to him. Comparing criticism of religion with the cursing of one’s mother, an equivalency with playground childishness that is as ridiculous as it is inaccurate, he declared such usage of free speech as wrong and the person doing so should expect to be punched. That the Pope disavowed murder as an appropriate response is completely undone by this rationalized approval for violence.

 

In recent polling done by Pew Research (May-June of 2014), when asked to describe, by reference to temperature, how positive or negative a particular religious ideology is viewed, Americans scored atheism at 41 degrees, only one degree warmer than Muslims. Considering all the press concerning the possible rise of hate-crimes against Muslims, the lack of coverage concerning antipathy towards atheists seems to tacitly endorse the fact that such people deserve to be hated. This wanton disregard by leaders and social institutions shows the lie of their supposed dedication to making the world a better, more informed, place.
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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.

 

512px-Plato_Silanion_Musei_Capitolini_MC1377

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?”

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.

 

 

Craig Hicks: Consumed By Rage

The tragic and detestable murder in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015,  of 3 young Muslim students at the hands of Craig Hicks has presented a critical opportunity for us to examine the rhetoric used in the ongoing debate between theism and atheism. This happening as it did, in the wake of the controversy caused by President Barack Obama acknowledging that atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity forces to the fore the need for clarification.

 

Does religion cause atrocities? There have been volumes written to answer this question with a resounding “yes” (perhaps most notable of these is God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the late Christopher Hitchens, whose book reads like a Ciceroesque polemic against religion). It is an easy talking point for atheists: the atrocities committed during the crusades, the inquisition, the Muslim expansion shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, The Reconquista, The 30 Years War, The Holocaust, the human rights violations and war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians, almost everything the Catholic Church has ever done (like raping children and working to cover it up, or discouraging condom use in AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa, using Church resources to advocate and facilitate the 1994 genocide in Rwanda), 9/11, and so on. Theists are always quick to counter with examples like Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, The Kim regime of North Korea, Stalin, Hitler (who was a theist and had close ties to the Catholic church, and whose anti-semitism was nothing new in Europe and derived from medieval Christianity), and coming soon to an apologetics forum near you, Craig Stephen Hicks.
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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.
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Rula Jabreal: Another “Moderate” Muslim Lying for Her Extremist Comrades

 

By Fabrizioferri [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Once again one of my favourite shows has been hijacked completely by the topic of Islam. In a career spanning three decades Bill Maher has criticised every religion he can manage, but now it seems he has taken a step too far, because he has insulted … gasp … ISLAM. Oh dear.

Islam: the lovely peaceful religion that asks its followers to kill anyone of another faith, the woman-loving religion that claims one man is worth two women, the tolerant faith that orders the death of anyone who draws a cartoon or writes a book about the Prophet big Mo, the child friendly religion that makes excuses for its most famous Prophet marrying a six year old girl (even moderate scholars deem Mohammed a paedophile under our understanding), only to consummate with her when she turned nine years old (total gentleman), the all knowing and perfect religion that claims the world is flat and falsely proclaims that sperm comes from between the backbone and the ribs – regardless of how loud the Dr’s laugh. Yes that Islam, and people wonder why it needs to be criticised?
Continue reading “Rula Jabreal: Another “Moderate” Muslim Lying for Her Extremist Comrades”