Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An Atheist Apologist for Religiosity: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

There is a new book entitled An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion than without It by Bruce Sheiman. Mr. Sheiman says this about himself:

“I have repeatedly insisted that I am an “aspiring theist” -- an unbeliever who wants to believe. Interestingly, the ironic flip side of being an aspiring theist is being an unhappy atheist, an experience I explain later in this website.”

I hesitate to cast aspersions as to Mr. Sheiman's honesty about calling himself an “unbeliever”, I don't know the man. But something’s just not right here. It smacks of [self?] deception or a confused state of mind at best.

Let me state clearly -- I have not read this book. Thus, this is not a review of the work. Nor will I read this book for three reasons:

  1. With 84% of the planet/ 5 billion people being "believers" of some sort; and with the millions of tomes of apologetics produced by believers justifying and defending their unsupported belief/ doctrine/dogma, et al ... why would an atheist need to mount a defense for religiosity? They have been doing it themselves more or less effectively for at least the past 3,000 years.

  2. There can be no new argument for defending religion/faith.
    -Whether it is predicated on the false premise that religion= morality and without it man would be immoral or less moral, thus it should be promoted, promulgated; - or whether it's because it makes people "feel good" like alcohol or any other mind numbing drug or happy hallucinogenic and thus anything that makes one feel good is good; - or whether it's because it gives [false] hope / comfort to those who would otherwise have no hope
    … is hardly a justification for defending or endorsing a lie, delusion, self deception, that promotes less than full acceptance of reality and responsibility for ones own life. What's left after those defenses of religion ... Pascal's Wager?

  3. Finally, I find the premise of the book off putting. I can't think of one good reason why I'd want to read it. I've read plenty of works by genuine theists liberal/ modernist and conservative/ fundamentalist; agnostics who are biblical scholars; atheist philosophers and hard core atheist anti-theists. Some how I can't rally any enthusiasm at all for the point of view of an atheist who is sorry he is one and is a quasi/ would-be theist and theist apologist.

One last thought. The author says: "How, if religion is characterized by enormous institutional ills, is it not only a universal phenomenon, but one that is growing more prevalent all the time?" Is it just me, or could a blind man see that this argument is a new take on the same old fallacious justification for belief based on "popular acceptance" that religionists use all the time? I.e. “If there is no God how come so many believe?” I can't remember how many times I have debunked the "truth by virtue of popular acceptance" fallacy.

As for religion “growing more prevalent” … where exactly? Certainly not in industrialized progressive nations, where religiosity is in decline. No, it’s growing in third world countries where lack of education, abysmal poverty, drought, starvation, disease, institutionalized genocide and utter desperation make people susceptible to proselytizing by missionaries who dangle blankets & food in one hand while holding out a Bible or Koran and a promise of a better life after death in the other. What exactly does this prove?

I have always promised myself I’d never call a self proclaimed atheist “not a TRUE atheist” like Christians so often do to their brethren. But in Sheiman’s case, I don’t even think HE thinks he’s a true atheist. I’m looking forward to his next book, probably something akin to: "A German Jew Defends National Socialism: Why Judaism is better off with Nazis than without them"

Friday, August 21, 2009

God ISN'T Dead! Friedrick Nietzsche was Wrong

In our local paper a religionist decried the “new atheists.” That’s the religionist’s term for atheists who don’t lay down, play dead, and kowtow to the theistic majority.

Theists much prefer the “Old Atheists,” you know, the ones who -- under threat of fines, imprisonment, torture or death -- dared not speak up against the Church’s suppression of scientific advancement; didn’t openly decry the Church’s intolerance of varied belief or no belief; who kept silent when the Inquisition rampaged; you know… the good old atheists in the good old days.

In the course of his letter this defender of the faith offered this insight:
“Nietzsche was wrong when he said 'God is dead,’ it’s Nietzsche who is dead.” Patently silly, but no doubt when he wrote it it struck him as particularly witty.

But inadvertently, and in a whole different sense he was correct. God IS’NT dead. Nietzsche WAS wrong. The Abrahamic God is no deader than Brahma, Ganesh, Zeus, Isis, or any of the thousands of other gods. God is no deader than Moby Dick, Jean Valjean, or Sherlock Holmes. God is no more deceased and buried than leprechauns, zombies, or sprites.

They cannot die, because they never existed. They will live on in literature and in the minds of some people prone to imbuing living status on fictional characters for eons to come.

Of course, Nietzsche knew this. He never intended his “God is Dead” statement to be taken literally. He was no fool. But, somehow a more succinct phrase i.e. “The age of dependency on the delusion of God/gods has expired - reason has seen to it.” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Geocentric Believers - The TRUE Christians

"Modern geocentrism is the belief by extant groups that Earth is the center of the universe .... This belief is often based on Biblical verses and is most common among American Protestants. This belief is directly opposed to scientific evidence that the Sun is essentially the gravitational center of the solar system, and that the location of the Earth is not privileged."

As long ago as 600 BCE, Ionians postulated that the Earth orbited the Sun, and that the sun was the central point of the solar system about which the planets revolved. Subsequent Ionians correctly calculated the size of the earth. They understood the stars to be very distant, that they are created and eventually extinguish, and correctly determined that the magnitude of light from a star determined a star’s age and phase of life. This was in the 2nd century BCE. These Greeks were the forerunners of the scientific method, and modern astronomy.

This view of the universe was corroborated by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Isaac Newton

But the church rejected this concept for some 1500 years. The Bible has multiple references to Earth as the immovable center of the universe. Joshua 10:12-13, 2 Kings 20:11, Isaiah 38:8, Isaiah 30:26 Psalm 93, all of them and others contradict what astronomers knew for centuries. Scripture places the Earth as the focal point of the universe, with the Sun and planets revolving around it. With stars set in a firmament above it (Genesis). To believe otherwise was to doubt the Word of God, a heresy.

The Church suppressed Copernican theory and its scientific truths, by threat, by house arrest, by accusations of blasphemy. But by the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, truth won out, the Church retreated, begrudgingly accepting that the Biblical concept of the universe was in fact wrong. No wait!!!~ Not “wrong” wrong, ... Uh … “incorrectly interpreted” for 1500 years. Yeah, that’s it… “incorrectly interpreted.”


Among modern day Christians who believe the Biblical concept of the universe to be correct are The Geocentric Bible Foundation of Hugoton, Texas; The Tychonian Society; and Catholic Apologetics International, among others.

Devout Christian proponents of Biblical Geocentrism, some of whom believe that the Copernican helio-centric system is Satan’s deception, have websites that fight proven science , , , , and more.

Now I can hear some Christians protesting “But these are fringe crazies, they aren’t TRUE Christians, they are misinterpreting Scripture, the Bible never said these things, etc., etc., etc..” But they would be wrong. They are in denial. They are apologist liars. There are millions of American Evangelical Christians who subscribe to the Earth as center of the universe, center of the solar system, Earth as fixed / non-rotating etc. These are the devout believers who reject science and accept the Word of God unquestioning no matter how stupid, pre-scientific and deluded their scripture and “God” might be.

I say these are the TRUE Christians. They don’t pick and choose and mince words about what the Bible says. It says what it says! God doesn’t misspeak. He doesn’t deceive. These believers talk the talk, and walk the walk. These Christians deserve credit for their unfailing, uncompromising acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God un-contradicted, inerrant.

They are also total fucking idiots, but how much more idiotic are they than their brethren? Those who choose to selectively believe in reanimation of dead bodies, virgin pregnancy, walking on water, life after death, demons, angels, Hell, Second Coming, Original Sin, Noah’s Ark, et al all because the Bible told 'em so. ? By my calculation, not enough to make much of a difference.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Proselytizing Playbook & What Drives It

Here’s the thing about religious fanatics who believe it is their duty to proselytize to the educated and sane: They haven’t figured out yet that we have heard it all, read it all, rejected it all as fable.

They think that by repeating their canned corn, their brainwashed dependency on ancient fable, their rejection of reality, distortions of fact, and reinterpretation of biblical scripture that suddenly every bit of knowledge we the thinking have accumulated through study, discourse, education and investigation will suddenly be abandoned, dissolved like salt in so much water. It would be as though by quoting to them from the Egyptian Book of the Dead we’d expect them to see the light and worship Isis or Ra.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the same old crap that they draw from fundamentalist apologetics sites, or JW pamphlets, that have time and again been offered as some proof for supernaturalism. From great flood pseudo-science, to Jesus’ resurrection ‘cuz the Bible says so, to quoting John 3:16, to putting God’s merciful murderous rampages into a lovely light. All somehow are suppose to get us to abandon what we know from science, natural law, history, and our own reading of scripture and familiarity with comparative religion and pre-Abrahamic gods, and fall to our knees praising the Lard. You’d think by now they’d get the picture.

We’ve seen them all - argument by “popular acceptance” (“How could so many people believe if it isn’t true?”); to grossly fallacious distortions of “argument by authority” (“Einstein believed in a God.”); to the craziest perversions of science (“Scientists have proven the Ark exists / the great flood happened / that the earth is only 6,000 yrs old.”) etc., etc. It’s a veritable cornucopia of hackneyed, false, and vapid statements that anyone with a modicum of intellect and education can dispel with finality.

So why does it persist? There are, by my experience three causes for this irrational approach by the proselytizing fanatic:

  1. They project on thinking people the same gullibility, lack of sophistication, stunted education, rejection of secular learning /history, lack of respect for fact, and distain for evidence and the scientific method that they themselves embrace.

  2. Since they believe their myth to be the only reality, they are incapable of seeing the correlation between all other man made gods, man-gods, mythical figures and beings that carry exactly the same weight of evidence as does their preferred myth, and which they readily reject because “those are fairy tales.”

  3. They are led to believe by their shamans and fundie websites that atheists just haven’t heard the “good news” and all it takes is a little preaching to bring us into the fold. It’s their duty, their calling, to inform us. Imagine, I an educated adult in an industrialized country having never been exposed to Christian doctrine, one of the greatest travesties of the mind in 2,000 years, and here some superstitious inbred mind slave is going to elucidate me.

There was a time when I enjoyed the opportunity to lambast and expose the foolishness of these apostles of magic, superstition and stupidity. But as I get older, as I hear the same old hackneyed crappola offered as some new and revealed truth by the ignorant and deluded, my patience has worn thin. I become bored. A simple verbal bitch slapping is all I have the time for.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Religion is a “Beautiful Thing”

The following statement is from an online message group:

“…I hear a lot of Atheists who believe that religions are all wrong and must be killed off and what not [even though I’m an atheist] I think a religion can be a beautiful thing, in the hands of the right people. ...”
Here is my reply, revised and extended:

Please, give me some examples of how religion is a "beautiful thing in the hands of the right people."

When you do that, please be sure to help me understand how the "beautiful thing" religion is could not be realized without the delusion of supernaturalism; the intolerance for others’ non-belief or differing beliefs; the fiction of afterlife; the threat of eternal damnation & suffering; the cult-like worship of pain and death; the rejection of scientific proofs and evidence; the enslavement of young minds to superstition and lies instead of reality, reason and knowledge; all of which are part and parcel to the theistic mindset.

Are you saying that the beauty of religion lies in the charitable works of churches? If so, does that infer that charity is the sole provenance of religion? That good acts wouldn’t exist without religion’s promulgation of delusion and supernaturalism? That people of religion are driven to do altruistic things not because it is simply the humane thing to do, but because religion pressures, inspires, motivates them, and to the exclusion of non-believers’ altruistic instincts and actions? Or because religious charity is a way to proselytize to those desperately in need of material aid in an effort to gain converts? Is that the “beauty of religion?”

Or maybe the beauty lays in the fear it instills to gain recruits and ensure compliance; the subservience to shaman like authority; the false hope of life after death; the rejection of science and downplaying of secular knowledge?

And who are these “right people?” Mother Theresa? The pope? Fred Phelps? Rev. Al Sharpton? Bakker, Falwel, Robertson,Wright, Hinn, Graham, Huckabee, et al? The faith healers? The multi-millionaire televangelists? The terminally ill person who prays for pain relief or cure which never comes? The crippled and blind who flock to Lourdes in the hope of restoration that never happens?
The proselytizing door to door hucksters? The ministers/priests who molest and are protected by their church? The apologists who twist and turn scripture to make it suit a kinder gentler religion? The fundamentalist evolution deniers who want schools to teach myth as though it were science? The "Christian Nation" radicals who know nothing of our nation’s roots, distort history, and seek to tear down the “wall of separation” between church and state?

Were the Inquisitors the "right people"? The Crusaders? The witch burners? The anti-Semites and religious leaders like Martin Luther who enflamed it? The suicide bombers? The book burners? The Christian Zionists who want to see no peace in the Middle East, lest it impede the End Times prophesy fulfillment? The abortion doctor killers? Those Christians who used the bible to justify slavery, discrimination, and oppose inter-racial marriage?

How about those faithful who pray over a sick child and watch them die when medical science could have restored them to health? Those who use scripture to justify subjugation of gays’ rights, or the control of women's reproductive rights, or the military invasion of non-threatening nations? Those who conduct exorcisms on the weak or the mentally ill? The religionists who falsely claim condoms spread AIDS and thus condemn millions of third world peoples to their death through unprotected sex? Those who justify killing for land ownership based on biblical precedence and divine will? Those who sacrifice their own lives to kill innocent “infidels” to get their reward in paradise? Who indoctrinate their children to view non-followers as “the other?” Who oppose women’s rights because their scripture tells them women are less than men? Which of these are “the right people?” If none of them, then who?

Religion is a mind virus. That it has some connection with charitable works; or because the false promise of life after death in Candy Land is soothing to those afflicted by religious fable; that its music, art and architecture is often iconic, its rituals hypnotic in their pomp and spectacle; is hardly a validation of, or justification for, its deception, false promises, rejection of reality, exclusionism and intolerance.

Its “beauty” doesn’t override the dependency, threats, fear, ignorance, hate, and misery it spreads through the brainwashing of the young, undereducated, desperate and gullible. I see no beauty in deception. Show it to me.

Yes, religion should be killed off. Fortunately the scientific age and man's acceptance of reality is causing religion to self-destruct throughout the civilized world. None too soon, and long over due.

Yours in Reason,

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Uncle Tom Atheists: Part of the Problem - No Part of the Solution.

Recently I came across something I’ve never experienced before and which stunned me. I touched on it briefly in my last blog post but want to explore, or should I say expose it, more completely.

I’m talking about people who proclaim their atheism, yet completely lack the will to express it openly. As oppose to taking a stand they are willing to acquiesce to theists, willing to appease theists in order to not incur their wrath or rejection; willing to attribute to religion a beneficence, beauty and goodness (that they can neither name or describe) in spite of their rejecting it themselves and in direct contradiction to modern and historical evidence to the contrary.

These are the atheists who give belief, any belief, their “respect.” They see no threat from fundamentalists targeting for extinction the 1st amendment’s separation clause. They turn a blind eye to Creationist / Intel Design attempts to dumb down curriculum and proselytize to our children in public schools. They have no problem, or if they do they dare not speak it, when Christian religious symbols and icons are placed on public property to the exclusion of all other religious and secular symbols. And finally, among the worst of these, are those who would attend an “atheist church” (whatever the hell that would be) in order to make Christians “more comfortable” with them.

Maybe in my atheist activist vigilance, in my fight against fundamentalist extremism and intolerance, in my focus on preserving rights, my railing against the innumerable atrocities, injustices, and lies of the religious, I never gave much thought to the fact that there exists the ugly atheist relative in our midst.

These are the Uncle Tom atheists -- the atheists who, comfortable in their anonymity and meek in fortitude, happily cower in their non-confrontational apathy and shuck and jive in the presence of their theist “massa’s.” They will openly condemn their activist atheist brethren for rocking the boat by calling religionists what they are, and “giving atheism a bad name,” as if theists have always thought of us in only the kindest possible terms before. As if demurring to the theist majority's demands and delusion is to be praised and admired.

They will leave it to atheist activists past and present to fight blasphemy laws; activists who battled to ensure an atheist has the right to hold public office when laws prevented it; who were scorned and shunned by their Christian neighbors for standing up for their rights; who stood before the Supreme Court and demanded that prayer not be imposed on children in public schools while Christians raged against them and threatened their lives. While these Neville-Chamberlain-appeasing-Toms condemn activist atheists as loud mouths and label us “assholes," and our aggressive in your face activism "counter-productive," they nonetheless are happy to reap the benefits activists have secured for them.

No. I won’t play the Christian game and declare these Uncle Tom atheists “not True atheists.” By rejection of belief in God/gods they are as true an atheist as I am.

What I will say is this: I have more respect for Fred Phelps who spews his hateful homophobic brand of intolerance AKA “Christian love,” than I do for an Uncle Tom atheist. At least Fred has the passion of his convictions. Uncle Tom atheists are complacent parasitic gutless worms whose freedoms are nourished by the blood, sweat and tears of the atheist activists they deem assholes. A pox on them.