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



My mother, despite being a devout Catholic her entire life, has done more to foster a love of learning, and a need to question, than any other person in my life. By actually answering my questions, she encouraged me to ask more, which, eventually, led to my atheism. Ironic, but, thank you, Mom.

I have two issues in mind right now, and both of these were raised while I was in Catholic school. The questions were, 1)”Why did they use the cross for execution?” and “Why did the pharisees oppose Jesus?”

Both of these questions had previously been answered by my mother, and I had forgotten. The first, “It was an easy way to put up a human on display.” The second, “They, like all people, were afraid of change.” What did my teachers, a nun and a priest say? The first, “Well, we use the cross as a symbol because Jesus died on it.” The second, “Well, the pharisees show up a lot in Matthew, and they frequently oppose Jesus.”

That was it. Both questions were completely avoided or totally misinterpreted. I hope it was the latter, but the former seems more likely on the second question. This has bothered me for over eight years. An easy, sensible, likely right, answer was there, but the priest, who should know the answer, avoided the question entirely.

Just wanted to vent.

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.



REL 215, Lecture 2: Hope

“Hope is the first step on the road to disapointment”

~Space Marine Unit response, Warhammer  40,000: Dawn of War

Hope is the mother of all goals, the father of all dreams, and the birthplace of ambition. It is what keeps us from depression, what prevents us from giving up entirely. Hope is, for many, the sole reason for life. Why then, do I endorse this rather bleak quote from a game? Because the philosophy it represents is much more than hope, and much more than dreams.

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PHI 215, Lecture 2: Nonsense as Salvation

Posted Boomtime, Bureaucracy 11 YOLD 3173
Today’s reading.

It is common knowledge, in my experience, that the more seriously anyone takes themselves, after a certain point, the less seriously we take them. Witness, for example, PZ Myers, a biologist who, though he can be very serious, is still capable of being silly. Contrast this with the fundamentalists who protest every single “slightagainst Islam. The advice of those who can, and do, laugh at themselves is often easier for us to appreciate that the advice of those who R a srius cat. Read the rest of this entry »