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?”

Faces in the Crowd: A Darwinian Family Affair

Imagine a small crowd of people – a hundred or so – in a public place. A few minutes earlier they were all in transit to various other destinations, but a momentary spectacle has drawn them together. They do not, for the most part, know each other and in most cases they’ll never see each other again once they go their separate ways. They include representatives of every age group from infancy to dotage; there are people of various ethnic backgrounds, political and religious persuasions, socioeconomic status and states of mental and physical health. There is little consensus among them with respect to tastes or aspiration. Some are happier than others.

 

The people in this crowd have come to be together purely by accident, and it is the kind of accident that will never again draw this same crowd: the crowd has no identity, no “meaning.” Many people would be tempted to say of the people who make up that meaningless crowd, “They have nothing in common.”

 

But that sweeping statement, “They have nothing in common,” is not entirely true is it? They are all human, so they have that in common. Since they are all human, they are all the offspring of two biological parents, even if one of them merely traded his semen for cash at a sperm bank, or if in vitro fertilization was involved. And this makes it possible to list a great many other commonalities: they all have 23 pairs of chromosomes; they’re all bipeds; they’re all mammals; they’re all vertebrates; they’re all mortal; they’re all subject to the laws of physics and chemistry that make life possible, sets its limits, and so forth.

 

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Continue reading “Faces in the Crowd: A Darwinian Family Affair”

The Atheist Hell House

Fears of war and pestilence.

Fear of loss and failure.

Fear the hate of your enemy.

Fear your god and savior.

Savior? Failure.

What do you fear?

Fear is your god.

 

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Deep and insidious, beneath your consciousness, and just beyond your peripheral vision the horror of sin lies.  The most base human fears, materialized with an agenda, and aimed at the young and vulnerable.  Instincts derived from over a hundred thousand years of life in hominid form and millions of years before to the origin of species, have been carved by nature to protect the self and the genes from destruction.  When weaponized, as proven time and time again, fear truly is: “the mindkiller”.

Continue reading “The Atheist Hell House”

Some Thoughts on “Rules of Engagement”

I see words like “tolerance,” “open-mindedness” and “respect” bandied about quite a bit by right-leaning Christians, often expressed in the negative (intolerance, close-mindedness and disrespect) with the latter aimed as charges against leftists and atheists. Those words and their adjectival derivatives have frequently been thrown in my teeth, and I imagine that among readers of, and contributors to, this board I’m not alone in that experience. It seems to me that some discussion of these terms is perhaps in order. TOLERANCE In human affairs (as opposed to the way engineers use the word), tolerance is a term that describes legal standing and the limits of governance.

It concerns that which is permitted by law, as its antithesis has to do with what is proscribed.  In the United States, tolerated behaviors are enumerated in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights; the list includes such things as free expression, freedom to assemble peaceably, freedom to worship whatever one wishes in whatever manner one pleases, and the right to move freely about the country and associate with whomever one will (and, yes, the right to bear arms – the most problematic of those Constitutionally-guaranteed rights, and the one most in need of revisiting for the sake of our society’s health).  Those activities are all tolerated by the government: such Constitutional guarantees are a hedge against powerful interests (corporations, religious institutions, moneyed interests) that might seek to curtail such activities.

A cursory glance at history should be enough to make it clear, why such guarantees are precious and worth defending. With this understanding of the term in view, it should be obvious that – allowing for the exceptions of child-rearing and classroom management, in which case intolerance of certain behaviors becomes a matter of parental and social responsibility – an individual cannot, strictly-speaking, be either tolerant or intolerant: tolerance is not mine to extend or withhold. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on “Rules of Engagement””