Ask an Atheist Episode 1: 10 Questions Every Intelligent Atheist Must Answer

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Where’s your god now?

Any god or gods have historically been nothing more than an ever diminishing pocket of scientific ignorance. Back in the day, as human knowledge was very limited, gods were used as an explanation for virtually everything. But as we learned more, more and more roles that gods played were replaced by our collective understanding. No longer did gods control the weather or the sea. No longer did anyone roll the sun and moon across the sky. And now in the modern day gods have fallen significantly, both in use and explanation.

Today gods exist only in the annuls of human ignorance, as in people who have not had the opportunity to learn, or in a cloud of wishful thinking, sustained only by an impenetrable wall of faith. This cloud is truly nothing more than loosely defined ideas, and misleading concepts. God exists outside the universe; god exists as love or meaning, etc etc etc. Well if that’s where god is then what’s the point?

Everything that has ever been attributed to god, conjuring fire, seeding rain and even creating life is no longer gods domain. That’s right scientists are working on and have successfully created a functioning life form from the ground up. So to all my theist friends who hold onto such a nebulous and ill-defined creator, where is your god now?

Brief article of those scientists:
http://singularityhub.com/2014/01/09/its-alive-artificial-life-worm-wiggles-on-its-own/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

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Winter Introductory Podcast: What is Freethought?

Hey all here is todays awesome podcast, enjoy!

if there are any questions or if you want to be on next weeks show email us at drexfreethought@gmail.com

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Why is the resurrection impressive?

As I’m sure we are all incredibly aware of, a common claim of many Christians is that the oh so wonderful Jesus resurrected from the dead and because of this we should worship him or something. I have to ask why religious folk find this claim all that impressive. I mean people have been “resurrecting” for centuries, and as medicine gets better we resurrect people on a daily basis.

Now theists take a deep breath, there are many reasons that I say this. First to eliminate some different possibilities. The very idea that this was a genuine resurrection has no support. For all me know this is simply a case of false death. The person in question simply is in a state very similar to death, ie very shallow breathing low pulse etc, and they just shuffled him into the grave without being entirely positive they were dead. Don’t think this happens? Well apparently it happened so often that many had little bells put above their graves with a string leading into their coffin, so they could ring for help if the unthinkable happens so real was their fear.  During these early years of humanity people sprung back from what appeared to be death all the time.

Now lets grant it was a genuine bodily death, heart is fibrillating Jesus is dying. Well ever since we invented the defibrillator, we can correct that as well. Since we created life sustaining devices and other medical treatment we have brought people back from what would be certain death many more times over.

So assuming he existed, and then further assuming he was actually dead, Jesus’ specific “resurrection” would have been nothing more than a fairly unlikely event.  So why are people so impressed by it? When it has happened all the time.

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Misused Terms: Belief vs Belief System

Let’s make a very firm distinction between these two ideas, shall we? A belief is simply an affirmation that you think one proposition is more valid, or more accurate than others, or just a good proposition to you. Beliefs are substantiated by varying levels of support, and the level for which a person will believe something is largely personal. A belief system is a foundational set of beliefs that dictate/lead the thoughts/actions and future thoughts/actions of an individual. Beliefs can be far and in between. Random ideas that can stretch from the highly supported, ie evolution, gravity, germs, to the very unsupported, ie fairies, ghosts, gods etc.

Theism is a belief, atheism is a belief (or lack thereof). Neither one in of itself is a belief system. Alternatively, Christianity is a belief system, as Marxism is a belief system. These groups of beliefs actually have direction and depth. There is a distinct difference, and its easy to see, if your goal is not ignoring it.

So why the confusion. Well to conflate atheism with just another belief system many can toss it on the same level of control over ones lives as Christianity. As in people can claim that atheism causes action, or that people must believe other things because they are an atheist. Claiming it is  belief system allows people to manufacture further complaints about atheists. And if evolution is just a belief then it can be tossed along with any other unsubstantiated belief, life one in god. In this case manufacturing a false even footing of ideas. It’s all just another silly strategy to raise up unsupported claims, not by providing evidence, but by misdefining/misleading words so that everything seems equal. It’s as pointless as it is frustrating.

Therefore to all my theist friends, don’t bother using this trick. All it does is breed circular arguments, and huge tangents, while shining a spotlight on your unsupported ideas whatever they are. If you have evidence for your god present it, anything else is just fluff.

 

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Useless term: Christian?

Based on my plethora of conversations with people who claim to be Christian, It has become abundantly clear that the title is at worst completely worthless, and at best a misdirection. If I ask two people what their religious beliefs are, often for this country, they will both say Christian. Then, being the curious tike I am, I follow up by asking what it is specifically they believe. Now these two people, who claim to be the same religion, will almost always give radically different answers, often on the same subject. Some Christians are pro-life, some are pro-choice. Some take the bible literally; some say it’s all symbolic. But either way none appear any more or any less Christian than any other. Therefore I am positing that when a term means anything, it ends up meaning nothing.

This is compounded by the infighting. Different sects arguing with each other over what the same book actually means. Now ignoring for the fact the amusement I feel for a bunch of adults dissecting a fantasy novel for the purpose of ruling their lives, It strikes me that all these folk manage to find support in their book for their often opposite view points. This furthers the idea, for me, that the term Christian has no meaning if its description is unable to be pinned down even by its most stringent followers.

So what do we do? Well how about forget the term; don’t give the name Christian any more weight than any other silly label. When approaching/responding to a religious person of any strip, just ask them what they believe and why. And don’t let them get away with the useless catch all term of Christian.

So to close, to my “Christian” friends, let’s start a real conversation. What do you actually believe, and why?

 

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Apologetics: God is a poor writer?

Apologetics has always been a subject that’s fascinated me and infuriated me to no end.  It seems like the old have your cake and eat it too for Christians.  It’s a method of being able to have the entire bible and claim that it’s all wonderful and amazing while simultaneously deleting, omitting, ignoring, or just not knowing about all the terrible things that are in it.  Why do people do this? What is wrong with their god? 

This brings up the idea of god’s incompetence.  Why is it that an all-powerful supernatural being of unimaginable intelligence and perfection can’t be clear enough in a book? Some say that the bible was written in such a way that’s we will come to understand it better as time goes on.  But this idea of falls flat on its face from the start, this is tacitly saying that the beginning parts of the bible are things you should ignore overtime as is our society progress is and then we’re in our human imperfection are supposed to understand which parts the bible we should omit and which parts are inspired or revolutionary.  So no matter how you look at it human beings still make the final call, so was the points of the bible being inspired by god anyway? 

So apologetics seems to me to be a transparent urging people have to hold onto their holy book even though they know that it’s fallacious. But why is this, why do people have such an incredible need to hold on to something that they know is not actually their source of whatever inspiration, morals, etc. I venture that it is because it’s easier; it’s easier than facing the idea that something you based a large portion of your life on is a farce.  It’s easier to just say I don’t understand it, but there must be a reason that this is true, so I’ll make one.

So to my religious friends, but more directly to my Christian friends please don’t be scared anymore, there is no reason to twist words of a really old book just to give your life meaning or grounding.  Judging from your ability to pick out the bad parts and keep the good parts in your holy book, you already have a good foundation for choosing right from wrong, you don’t need fantasy anymore.

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You are not Victims!

In light of many court cases, and the seemingly endless outcry from this holiday season, I thought I had to comment on this obsessive victim-hood that so many religious people seem to need. It really doesn’t make sense to me, think about it, why would people who think they have the same ideas or are in direct agreement with god that they are being insulted by people who disagree with them? I mean if they truly believe that why would the opinions of us measly humans harm them in any possible way?

How come every single other really strongly held belief, be a political parties, sports team, even opinions about your own family, those all can stand up to criticism and normally people will take it with relative stride or the very respond with equal animated talk about it, really engage the conversation and come back at the offender with a lot of good reasons that your personal beliefs are actually valid. But no, religious people seem to think that their beliefs are special, that because they are ordained by god, according to them, they are completely free from all possible criticism and the very idea of criticizing such a belief is deemed insulting, and so they are victims.

Let’s make this very clear, religious beliefs are not special, they’re just like any other random opinion. Religious folk are free to speak their minds but once they do we are then free to criticize and even to insult of their ideas. Once mentioned out loud than they are now part of a public discourse, which means there are immune from nothing. But of course it doesn’t stop there, I mean if religious people just had their beliefs and voice them occasionally, but more or less kept them themselves, then we would have nothing to talk about. But that doesn’t happen. Religious belief by its nature requires other people to prop up give legitimacy to it, to validate it.

 

So when those beliefs are put in the public square and people use them as justification to change public policy and other people don’t like that and try to stop them many are met with harsh accusations. Voicing objection means that they are victimizing religious people. Demanding that religious people obey the same laws, and that their ideas are treated equally, is seen as offensive.

I feel that many forget that this is necessary. We cannot have anyone’s personal beliefs dictate the wellbeing and rights of everyone around them is this doesn’t work. We as a society, rely on protecting individual rights and freedoms. Forcing individual or even majority opinion from controlling the lives of people who disagree with them.

So to my theist friends, the next time you want a display put on the public square, or your religion taught in public school, remember people saying no to you is not an infringement on your rights, it is protecting everybody else’s rights from you and your beliefs.

Your need to impose religious ideas on to everybody else is the problem, NOT the solution.

Have a lovely afternoon .

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Why is it the universes job to make you happy?

If you really hammer home counters to all the more ludicrous ideas about religion, many theists will eventually bring up the notion “well without god then there is no consultation. If you take belief away from people what are you going to put in its place to comfort them? “,or some other feel good variant. Well when asked that question I answer the same as many other questions. There isn’t anything. The universe was not made for us, we are just incidental. If every human died tomorrow, the universe would be no worse off. It is not my or the universes responsibility to comfort the religious.

This idea has further implications. Does saying this mean that many believers think that an idea being nice or comforting means it’s true, or at least more likely to be true? Well I’m sorry but the degree to which an idea feels good has nothing to do with its truth value. I have no doubt that religion is comforting to many people. The idea that the universe is all figured out is comforting, the idea that you have all the answers is great. And that there is someone else looking out for you is very attractive to some. But it is not real. Comforting delusions are still delusions.

What can be said however is what happens when you let go of the belief in god. Letting that notion go the way of palm reading or ghosts, returns responsibility to you, where it always should be. It makes people realize they are in control of their choices, and their choices have consequences. It opens the door to exploring the world on its own terms and your part in it. Although I opened this post saying there isn’t anything to put in religious place for comfort, I do find those ideas much more invigorating and more uplifting. Especially more than the burning bush.

What about you?

 

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No consequences

A very strange opinion keeps coming up whenever I engage with theists. When asked “why do you believe in your god?” some respond with an ethics based angle, some need for god to make things good and so forth. Well today I was down this line of questioning again, and questioned them on how religion maintains ethics? They responded with something like “well without god there would be no consequences for anyone’s actions” To which I honestly responded more with more confusion than anything. No consequences, I said, well if I stole something (for example) the police would be on me quickly, and if I was known to be a thief then most people wouldn’t trust me outright. In fact many companies won’t even hire me if there is something like that on my record. Committing crimes against other people causes a response and I have to live with that response. How are their no consequences?

Alternatively, religion does nothing to maintain such a level of reactionary ethics. Steal something? Well just ask for forgiveness and then everything is okay. Steal again? Well that just means you have to pray harder. This is not a way to an ethical framework. No consequences to any actions, instead removing responsibility you have and pushing it onto an unseen force.

In fact religious ethics (two words never to be put together seriously like that) has been a chief retardant to real ethical development in the world. Citing ancient ideas for ancient people as more ethical by default, while removing the need to address issues head on, than base them on the new and more complex world we live in today.

I mean really which framework recognizes your consequences better? Basing ethics on mandates from people claiming to hear them from imaginary friends (at worst) or just from Iron Age savages (at best), or recognizing things as they happen and taking responsibility for our own actions, without appealing to any outside force, while seeing how we affect others? Further, my theist friends, why is this a difficult concept to understand, and how does religion even come into play?

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