A Letter from the Editor

Recently a response from a dear friend of mine made its way through one of the many channels of social media and rightly states a case for introspection within our community –  a self analysis, an understanding of opposition perspective, and – most importantly – a change if deemed necessary; to refuse change would be to act with an ideology akin to what we regularly rally to ridicule and weaken.

 

The entirety of the response can be found immediately below and is being reproduced with complete consent of its author- once again, someone I respect highly and genuinely value in perspective and friendship.

 

“I found this to be an interesting article regarding Atheists. What illuminated for me was this quote, “I, for one, would just like to be able to express my views in an intelligent and heart-felt way without fear of reprisals, shunned, or otherwise being looked at as an abomination just because I do not believe in God” My assumption is the author is referring to his/her frustrations with theists when presenting his/her convictions regarding God, gods, or the lack thereof. The author emphasizes a desire for acceptance, but does not find it with theists, particularly Christians.“

 

“What strikes me about this is that the exact same sentiment is shared by Christians regarding Atheists by changing the phrase to “….because I do believe in God.” Often, the narrative of Atheists contains a tone of hubris and the assumption of undisputable intellectual high ground, while offensively attacking religion. Consider these titles from Atheist Analysis: “Ignorance Loves Ignorance, the Religious Wall Around You” , “Christianity Isn’t Irrational… It’s Worse Than That.” In my opinion, the berating tones of these titles alone quickly discredits the individual and the view they’re presenting. I make no excuse for the Christian who can’t speak truth in love, however, I believe some in the Atheist community need to apply some introspection and identify their own hypocrisy to build credibility amongst other communities in order to open a more diverse dialogue regarding the quest for truth.”

 

I agree with the majority of the message here, that we are only going to create a secular state, one of equality and hegemony, if we truly respect the thoughts and positions of those we do not agree with, on philosophical terms or otherwise, and are willing to protect their basic human rights as they would ours.  Applying the golden rule, we have to act as we would wish the rest of world to treat us.
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Being Anti-Religious Gets Us Nowhere

© David Teachout

When faced with the question of “Do you believe in God?” the immediate response should be “Which one?” This query goes to the heart of the inherent ego-centrism of the initial question. Let’s face it, the person uttering it is not at all interested in getting into a long and winding philosophical discussion about metaphysics, the nature of knowledge and the degree to which personal experience is relevant to claims about reality. No, they’re asking whether you belong with them, and by them of course is meant those who believe in their particular deity. The quizzical look that passes at the response is an indication of just how myopic their vision of human experience is, that of course when that funny three-letter word is used, particularly when capitalized, it can only mean the god they believe in. Any others are but pale human-made facsimiles.

 

The term “god” has no inherent content, it’s like a Platonic form waiting to be filled in by actual experience. At best, “god” can allude to some transcendent principle or being or experience, but beyond that there’s no details as to what any of those actually entails. As when we hear the term “chair” or “table” or “car,” we have an immediate framework for what such means and our minds supply images. Utilizing the proximity principle of cognitive heuristics, the images that come up are often what we saw last or are most often interacting with. Similar occurs then when we hear the term “god.” The mere ability to come up with an immediate image or idea in no way proves the legitimacy of that image or idea, it just points to the tendency of our minds to fill in the gaps of uncertainty. As such we can utilize god to mean anything from a transcendent principle like love or purpose (“god is love”), to a panoply of deities (Hinduism, pagan traditions, etc.), a monolithic supernatural person (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) and as synonymous with the holistic quality of being in the universe (Ernest Holmes, Jerry Goldsmith, Ralph Waldo Emerson).
Continue reading “Being Anti-Religious Gets Us Nowhere”

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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Bi Weekly Blasphemy 11: Dont be a D!#%

The return of the Bi-Weekly Blasphemy, after a New Years hiatus, is a call to action against forum trolls and to step up in the necessity for us to act as we wish others would, to lead by example in making a difference in this world.

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