On Morality

Frequently, I find that atheists and freethinkers will point out the moral flaws in famous religious figures, apparently in much the same way that creationists will claim that Charles Darwin was a terrible person. Frequently, religious people will respond that this is an ad hominem attack on the faithful, or that we’re just poisoning the well. If this were true, those who engage in such “character assassination” would be no better than the creationists who attack evolution by attacking Darwin’s character. Naturally, this is not the case, as the actual argument from the immorality of religious people, or the greater morality of the irreligious is not an indictment of religion in general, but a rebuttal of the common claim that religion is necessary for moral behavior, or that the non-religious are immoral. That part of the argument has a tendency to get forgotten or omitted, either because the author expected the audience to be aware of it, or because the reader missed it amidst the “character assassination.”

Just thought I’d help clear that up a bit



Too many poets aren’t me

Quoting Patrick:

And that’s the only religious position I feel like defending. If there is a God, He favors atheists. Why? Because they are cruising around in His world, doing the best they can and coming to the only workable conclusion with the tools He gave them. They don’t snivel and whine when things don’t work out, they don’t ask for handouts or guidance, and they don’t go around trying to speak in his name. When God made atheists, dammit if they didn’t hit the ground running!

Good post. Good comment. Really nothing more to add.

EDIT: Fixed the linkings, to point to the original comment properly.

On Paradox

I call myself an atheist, one who lacks belief in gods, and at the same time, I call myself a Discordian, one who worships and honors the randomness and absurdity inherent in all things, personified as the Greek goddess Eris. Does anyone see the issue here?

The thing is, there really isn’t a problem. I may call myself a Discordian, but at the end of  the day, I recognize that I revere a principle more than any personality, and I mostly find it useful as a motivation and explanation for my behavior.

The even shorter version is that I am morally Discordian, but not in terms of faith. I hope. The truth is, I find myself thanking Zeus for most things that go right, and Tzeentch in cases of traffic. I wonder if perhaps I need a religious framework in order to function, which raises the question of Why. I have two primary hypotheses. First, perhaps my Catholic upbringing has inculcated a sense of need in me (hypothesis a). I might merely have been trained in religion, which would make me act in a religious manner. The second hypothesis is that I might have some “flaw” in me which necessitates religion(hypothesis b). It is possible that I am biologically predisposed toward religion.

The testing of these two hypotheses will take many years, and be difficult for me to do on my own. It would require me to objectively quantify my religious behaviors and record their trend over time. I would have to determine the predictions from each hypothesis, and measure the relative success  of those predictions over time. I shall attempt to begin doing that now.

The simplest prediction, which covers both, is that over time, my religious tendencies will either hold steady, or decrease. If they decrease, it is more likely that hypothesis a is correct, and that it’s all in my head. If they remain at the same level, AND I’m working to decrease them, it is more likely that hypothesis b  is correct. If I have made no effort to curb my religious tendencies, then them remaining the same is no indication either way, while a decrease still indicates an environmental source of these tendencies.

Despite wandering heavily, this is still more coherent than my average thought process.

Religious belief as poison

That’s not just raw offensiveness, it actually has metaphorical value.

Religious belief has lately been a poison in my mental system. Years ago, when I became Neo-Pagan, I though I had freed myself of Christianity, and when I finally declared my atheism, I thought I had left gods behind completely. Unfortunately, I haven’t told my family yet, so I still go to Mass with them when I’m living there, and it’s been slowly infecting my mind. The casual acceptance of the “fact” of God’s existence is a subtle poison, which corrodes through reason, and worms its way deep into the brain, until it becomes an assumption you hold, and you can’t get rid of it.

This, more than anything I’ve ever experienced, demonstrates clearly the need for people to come forth about atheism. By hiding it, we make it taboo, and people can casually assume you believe in some deiform entity. This allows the poison to work quietly on those who freed themselves of it, or who are too young to have built immunities yet.

I realize the hypocrisy in advocating openness and not practicing it with my own family, and for that, I apologize, but the point still holds.

The only antidote for the poison is regular doses of Critical Thought, under which the vine of religious belief tends to wither and fade. When in doubt, ask questions, and don’t accept non-answers. Truth will out.



Quick thought

Posted Setting Orange, Confusion 61 YOLD 3173

I was raised Catholic, and still go to Mass on occasion, as my family doesn’t yet know I’m not Catholic anymore.

At Mass yesterday, I finally came to the realization that, despite what my family thinks, transubstantiation is no less wacky than the Xenu story.

The Xenu story is an important tale in Scientology‘s beliefs, and basically states that, 75 million years ago, there was a galactic empire, ruled by Xenu, who felt his empire was getting overcrowded. He rounded up millions of undesirables, and shipped them off to Earth, where they were placed around the bases of volcanoes, which were then exploted with atomic bombs. The escaping souls were captured by traps, and retrained, so they wouldn’t come back. So they floated around until humans developed, and they attatched themselves to humans, and cause all of the problems we have.

Transubstantiation is a Catholic (and some other Christian churches) belief wherein the sacramental host and the wine are transformed, literally, into the body and blood of Jesus. Not symbolically, but literally. Somehow, this is not cannibalism.

The Xenu story is no more wacky and bizarre than the doctrine of transubstantiation. Think about that, apply the outsider standard to your own beliefs, and realize why people of other faiths, or no faith, think you might be delusional or crazy.

Moral relativity, through my eyes.

Posted Prickle-Prickle, Confusion 44 YOLD 3173

This was sparked by a comment in my previous post. It would be customary to respond in the comments thread, but I tend to get long-winded, and to stray to tangential topics, so I felt it best to respond in a full post.

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Nihilism and the Atheist

Posted Sweetmorn, Confusion 42 YOLD 3173

A common objection to atheism is that it leads to nihilism. The argument usually follows along the lines shown here, and covers the rough outline of Atheism -> naturalism/materialism (everything is just matter and physical processes) -> none of it means anything, really -> nihilism. Many non-nihilist atheists, and I imagine a number of nihilists would object to this, arguing, among other things, that there’s no reason we can’t find meaning within ourselves, each other, or the world around us.

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