It's time to grow up and start seeing the world the way it really is and not the way we want it to be.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Atheism as an act of humility

Atheism and humility are two words not often associated with one another.  Christianity is at fault for this false impression, of course, but I don't want to be accused of Beating a Dead Messiah.  And, to be fair, many people who are only Christian in the sense that's the box they check on census forms...and many atheists themselves, for that matter...would not consider the act of declaring there is no God anything less than a statement coming from a pride.  To many, it the act of ultimate vanity.  After all, Satan himself only chose to put himself on the same level as God.  Surely, to deny that God doesn't even exist is a boast even Ole Brimstone Breath did not dare make.

But I would contend the statement "There is a God and I have a personal relationship with him" outstrips even the most militant atheist's pride.

I could accept the statement:  "There is a God and I am scared shitless of him and will do anything I can not to piss him off" more readily than the typical Christian claim:  "There is a God and he loves me!"

Whoa, now!  Cool your jets, Speed Racer!

I am willing to admit...and I am extremely grateful for...the existence of Angelina Jolie.  But to claim she loves me?  That's really getting into weird territory.

And if I were to tell you that not only does Angelina Jolie love me, but she killed her own child just to show me how much she loves me?

As anyone who has read any of my other posts knows, I believe Christianity is not just wrong, but is a blood obsessed cult that should have been allowed to die off along with all the others at the end of the Roman Empire.  The problem is Christians don't listen to themselves...much less a good, secular therapist...when they make their outlandish claims.

Richard Dawkins was being far too kind when he declared the belief in God to be a delusion.  It is a psycho-pathological mental illness and should be treated as such.  Especially when these people teach these things to their own children and people nearing death in a hospice situation and soldiers facing death on the battlefield and criminals who have already shown themselves to be less than mentally competent in our prison system.

We have an ethical and moral obligation to stop this madness now...in our generation...and not to pass it down to our children and grandchildren for them to deal with.  And, yes, as an atheist I do dare to speak of ethics and morality.  I respect the morality or our society...and don't try to cheat my way out of it by claiming supernatural forgiveness!...and I further believe there is no greater...can be no greater...law governing the actions of individual people within our society than their own personal ethics.  If a person does not act on the basis of what they truly consider right and wrong in their own heart but rather from the narcissistic desire to ensure their own well-being in some imaginary life after this one...the only life we have...ends then they are neither moral or ethical...or adults, for that matter.  They are scared children seeking to avoid a spanking they know they deserve.

But I digress...

I have made a point that Christianity is vanity.  I would further add that the motivation Christians have is not simply a desire to cheat on the morality of the society in which they live, but the deeper reason, the true dark impulse they are fulfilling, is to set themselves apart from others.  To declare that they are superior to other people.

This is true of all forms of super-naturalism.  After all, who doesn't delight in being able to tell a good ghost story that "Really happened" either to them or to someone they know.  This sort of anecdotal evidence is, of course, useless to scientific investigation.  Yet there are people who point to the vast number of people making such claims as evidence that "there must be something going on."

Christianity is super-naturalism by definition.  Their claims have no more validity than any of the others.  To declare that their claims are 'religious' and, therefore, must be treated differently than the rest is foolishness.  After all, Jesus...if he lived at all...has been dead almost two thousand years now.  Any sightings of him are, therefore, to be treated the same as any other ghost sightings.  And, just as there is absolutely no valid evidence for such sightings...in spite of all the ghost-hunters with cable shows out there looking...then sightings of the ghost of Jesus can be similarly dismissed.  If you can't prove the supernatural, then changing your nomenclature to 'spiritual' does nothing but show that the spiritual sinks or swims on the same lack of evidence.

There is something going on, yes.  There is a dominate culture in the United States that is obsessed with the supernatural.  That a majority of our citizens make or believe claims of the supernatural/spiritual is not proof of the existence of either but is, rather, a sad comment on our educational system.  We have well-intentioned, educated people battling for the teaching of evolution through natural selection and against the introduction of super-naturalism into our public schools.  I applaud them but at the same time I feel their one-issue focus is missing the point.  Do we even teach the scientific method at all?  Do we teach that this method is the only way of establishing what is true?  Tell me, if you can, how many children with only a high-school education have any understanding of the scientific method at all, much less believe this method is the only acceptable means of establishing what is and is not true?

The application of the scientific method has taken academia beyond the realm of the easily understood.  Even with the genius of Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and others who try to simplify and explain things to the average layperson it simply can not be done without the reading and understanding of intense and mindbogglingly complex literature.

This gap between what is known by academics in their own fields and what can be understood by the typical 'peasant with a library card' such as myself is much more important and vital to our future than the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.  The latter can be understood on a visceral, deeply personal level.  The Rich have increasingly more money than the Poor and they are making a last ditch stand through Libertarianism combined with Heretical Christianity to make a gated community of our nation before the minorities gain the democratic numbers and solidarity to force a change.  There's nothing hidden about this.  The Poor, through their religion, are being enticed to vote against their own self interest on moral issues while the Rich, who have no morality, are profiting.

The gap between what is known to be true by academia and what is believed to be true by the uneducated masses is much more of an insoluble problem.  The majority of the lower classes in this country are functionally illiterate.  That is to say they either do not read at all beyond what is needed to navigate the Internet and text each other or they read fluff...entertainment 'novels' tied in with movie franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games or genre literature like romance, mystery and sci-fi/horror.  Comic books are now Graphic Novels.  Disgusting.  Remember when a Graphic Novel was James Joyce's Ulysses?  Remember when the United States used to have a prime place in world literature?

The idea of reading non-fiction written by peer reviewed authors from major universities in order to understand a subject has now retreated behind the ivy-scrawled walls of our ancient and crumbling Ivory Towers.

Now, when I want a book that isn't pop-culture mind-candy, I have to make a special request for the title at our library.  My most recent acquisition...for myself and the library...is Richard C. Carrier's "Proving History:  The Application of Bayes's Theorem to the Quest For the Historical Jesus" volume one...in which he introduces the lay reader to Bayes's Theorem and lays the groundwork for using BT in historical studies in general.  The second volume will focus on how this can...and should...be used in biblical scholarship and the establishment of the existence or lack therefore of Jesus.

I am, with humility, a talented amateur when it comes to the history of religion.  I have read many long and difficult books.  This one is the hardest I have ever encountered.  I have checked it out twice and renewed it twice and am still only half way through.  It's the math, of course, but that's little excuse.  Carrier does his best to simplify it, but I'm still struggling harder than I ever did with any assignment in college.

Why am I putting myself through this torture?  Because I value the truth.

And the truth does not set you free.  You have to free the truth from all the lies it is bound up in.

Christians, in spite of all their use of the word, do not value the truth.  Unless you put everything...even the existence of God himself...on the table, then you place no value on the truth.  You are saying "I will search for the truth and believe the truth alone unless..."

Unless the truth you find is that God does not exist.  I know plenty of Christians who will claim to have examined the evidence and came to the conclusion that God exists.

They are liars.

Harsh?  Who cares?

The decision to believe in God has nothing to do with the search for the truth.  Belief is not based on evidence.  Belief is an act of faith and, as such, is blind acceptance without evidence.

They don't look at the evidence.  They scan the evidence looking for bits and pieces that seem to confirm what they have already chosen to believe.  Their use of reason is summed up quite nicely by Paul:  "Be ready to give an answer to all men by reason of the faith that is in you."

Reason is subordinate to the faith you have and is used to give an answer to people who would question your faith.

This is a cold-blooded statement from Christian scripture showing that their use of reasoning is to answer the questions of non-believers.

This is not reason.  This is a sickening abortion of reason.  And this is how Christians to this very day think.  This is why talking to Christians is a waste of time.  They have ceased to search for the truth.  When it comes to the truth, they are apostates and hypocrites.

They are intellectually lazy.  They will not read the actual books of scholars simply because they are too long and because they hurt their heads with evidence that contradicts what they must believe if they are to avoid the Fires of Hell.

They believe these scholars, these people who have devoted their lives to biblical scholarship, are servants of Satan trying to tempt them away from their faith.

They read books.  Oh, do they read books.  They have their own bookstores not to mention a totally and maddeningly amount of space on the shelves of public libraries touting their nonsense.

Their books give them excerpts from the writings of scholars.  They use these 'sound bites' to create straw men then they destroy these effigies and, in doing so, they claim to have answered the questions raised by these scholars.

"You don't have to read Dawkins, I'll tell you what he says and I'll tell you why it's wrong."

My own brother has never read any literature other than that created by his own denomination.  He claims to have read the perfect proof for God existence in a ten part series printed in a magazine from his fellowship.  He refuses to read anything that contradicts what he already believes and he teaches others they shouldn't either.  He has written a book on why the Gospel can only be understood by the uneducated.

He teaches that ignorance is essential to salvation while education leads to damnation.  When he had the opportunity to return to college and complete his masters he did not go back to study theology.  No, he got his masters in Business Administration.

Business administration.

That's what it takes to be a minister in a Christian church today.  Business administration.

Why?

It's simple enough.  He wanted to keep his job.  He had a good thing going and he knew that actually learning the truth about what he was teaching would only get in his way.

Vanity.  Striving after the wind.

Christians want to be special people.  They want their opinions to be listened to.

They want to be able to judge other people.

They do not have a place at the table where real scholars discuss the origins of Christian and Hebrew scripture and historical scholarship of the years between 600 BCE and 300 CE.

They simply are not smart enough, not educated enough.  But they still want money, more importantly, they still want to be able to stand up in front of a crowd of people and pass off their discredited and invalid opinions as the truth.

The sweet old lady handing out a religious tract downtown is doing so because she wants to feel superior to you.  She wants to be able to look down on you and judge you and condemn you to burn in Hell.

This is her motivation, this is the engine that drives her.

The desire to condemn people to Hell for the sin of knowing more than she does.

I know these people.  I was one of them for over half my life.

So what changed in me?  What made it impossible for me to continue to be a Christian?

Humility.

I learned to be humble.  And, when you learn humility, you can no longer be a Christian.

They don't talk about humility much anymore in Christianity in the United States.  Just like they don't talk about greed.  Or sloth.  Or gluttony.  Or pride.

These things used to be sins.  Just like being rich was a sin and the poor were destined to inherit the earth.

I heard recently from a Christian how the early church 'made a mistake' by sharing all things in common.  This was the church created within weeks of the death of Jesus.  The church that was directly told by the Holy Spirit of God what they should and should not be doing.

And this son of a bitch says they 'made a mistake' yet still claims to be a Christian!

American Christianity is the only religion in the world dedicated to denying and finding loopholes in the teaching of its founder!

The teachings of Jesus and/or his early followers were never meant to be used to create a Christian Nation!  This country can not be a Christian Nation because Christianity was meant to be a spiritual Kingdom that encircled the world and brought all people together in spite of their national, cultural and religious differences.

I am an atheist.  I believe that I will cease to exist at the moment of my bodily death.  That just as my heart will no longer beat or my lungs no longer breath my brain will no longer function and whatever me that particular organ may have contained will no longer exist.

But if I were a Christian in this country today, if I believed in Life After Death and Eternal Judgement,  I would live and die in terror knowing I was destined to burn in Hell!

Atheism is an act of humility.

We have an ever-widening gap between what is known and what lay people are capable of understanding.

The first step in overcoming this gap is the admission that there are people in the world who know more than you do.

This is an act of humbling yourself.  This act is essential to being an atheist.

You don't become an atheist until you begin to read and understand the works of others...living and dead...who have blazed the trail before you.  You can't...you won't...do that as long as you believe you know the truth.

God is something you believe.

Atheism is not something you believe...

...atheism is something you know.























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I am from West Virginia. Born in New Martinsville to a minister's family. Traveled around West Virginia and Southern Ohio growing up. The only stability I got was from my mother's side of the family in Boone County. My Great Grandfather on my father's side was preaching in Madison during the Mine Wars. He ran for the state legislature on a pro-union ticket and won only to have the coal companies tie the results up in court so he ended serving only one day out of this term. My Grandfather on my mother's side stood with the miner's at Blair Mountain and died of Black Lung when I was still in my teens. I was raised a Conservative Christian...not a Fundamentalist. Strict separation of church and state based on the understanding that what makes for a good politician is pretty much the opposite of what makes a good Christian. I'm politically radical in that I believe in one man/one vote and the only way to have political equality is to have economic equality. I'm an atheist because once I accepted the fact of my own mortality I found no need for belief in God.