Tag Archives: atheism

Spiritual safety tips

What Should You Do If You Find an Atheist In Your Neighborhood?.

 Spiritual safety tips

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Pete Enns wants to also try his hand at the “Atheism requires faith!” game

Pete Enns, Ph.D., has a novel idea! He thinks that maybe not believing in God takes as much faith as believing in God!

No one can know that God exists in the sense of proof or logical demonstration. Rather, people of faith believe God exists for all sorts of reasons that can’t be laid out in a spreadsheet or observed through a telescope.

Atheists are in exactly the same boat.

What holds true for religious people when they talk about God holds for atheists when they talk about not-God.

See? You can’t do a proof or a “logical demonstration” that God exists, so believers don’t really “know”. They just “believe”. It’s the same for atheism!

Enns, Ph.D., says that believing or disbelieving in God is a different kind of thing than believing “that fire will reduce a book to ashes, that there are billions of galaxies in the universe, or that gravity works”. According to his logic, those things are known for certain, and it’s not possible to know anything about the existence of God to a similar degree of certainty.

Oh, but then that’s the phrase that Enns, Ph.D., leaves out: degree of certainty.

He’s right that it’s a different thing for me (as an atheist) to say I don’t think God exists than it would be to say that fire burns paper. Probability-wise, I’d say the chances that fire burns paper are around 999,999 out of 1,000,000. Comparatively, my certainty that the Bible is not a direct translation of a message from an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent, personal God who created everything that exists is probably more like 999 out of 1000. Why do I give the God claim less weight? It’s because of the evidence I’m basing my claim on — which, if need be, could absolutely be laid out in a spreadsheet.

Enns does briefly admit that “some real live atheists” only claim to disbelieve because atheism “explain[s] their reality” better than theism. He promptly files this knowledge under the “belief” column of his belief/knowledge dichotomy without ever addressing that maybe these same live atheists also believe fire burns paper for similar, explanatory reasons.

He is missing the point. All knowledge is belief, and no belief is certain — something Enns actually acknowledges in a digression about the principle of uniformity. All beliefs are judged by their ability to explain our observations. So I must confess that, yes, I do feel that my disbelief in God is intellectually superior to others’ belief in God. The reason is that I (try to) apply the same standard to it that I do to all my other beliefs, while the religious clearly do not.

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Opponent of infant baptism’s son went Christian — not ironic

From a Fox News story about atheists “de-baptizing” themselves with hair dryers

Kagin believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, even slamming some religious education as “child abuse.” He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.

Ironically, Kagin’s own son became a fundamentalist Christian minister after having “a personal revelation in Jesus Christ.”

I suppose there’s some minor irony that a staunch Atheist would have a fundamentalist son. On the other hand, it’s completely predictable that someone who values religious choice for children would raise someone who makes a religious choice different than his dad’s.

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Julian Sanchez v. Ron Rosenbaum

Julian Sanchez offers a thoughtful response to Ron Rosenbaum’s horrible Agnostic’s Manifesto.

But when I say that I think there is no God, I don’t mean anything so grandiose. I mean just that I see no good reason to think that there is, and that all the various stories told about deities appear to me equally likely to be mythical. I don’t believe in basilisks or psychic powers either—probably neither do most religious believers—but few of us, on reflection, would be so bold as to say this is a belief we are absolutely certain about. It’s possible we could be mistaken, even if the possibility seems too remote to bother much about or, indeed, take all that seriously.

I like how he puts this. Atheism is only a religion if atheists believe in it like religious people believe in their religions. But why would anyone assume that we do? When I say I believe there’s no God, it’s a judgement of probability in the same way I believe that I won’t live to 250.

I will take Rosenbaum’s side when it comes to the importance of the question of why there’s something rather than nothing. Sanchez doesn’t take it seriously — and isn’t even sure it makes sense to ask. Which I think gets at what I would personally expect the answer to be: that there must be something rather than nothing — in the way that two plus two must make four. If that were the case, the question might still make sense, but proposing any alternative answer wouldn’t. Of course, I don’t know if that’s the case. I mean, I’d rank its probability as higher than the existence of God, but I could be wrong.

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Ron Rosenbaum doesn’t know

Ron Rosenbaum has written a manifesto for agnostics in Slate. I tried to read it all, but could only bring myself to skim after this part (which appears very early):

Atheists display a credulous and childlike faith, worship a certainty as yet unsupported by evidence—the certainty that they can or will be able to explain how and why the universe came into existence.

According to Rosenbaum, atheists are CERTAIN that we will be able to explain the existence of the Universe. Which is to say that Rosenbaum doesn’t know what atheism is or what it means to many (dare I say the majority) of us atheists. Nevertheless, he rolls along with the rest of his argument, demeaning atheists for their crimes, which exist mostly in his mind. Pretty awesome for someone who claims to be “radically” skeptical.

Check this out:

You know about the pons asinorum, right? The so-called “bridge of asses” described by medieval scholars? Initially it referred to Euclid’s Fifth Theorem, the one in which geometry really gets difficult and the sheep are separated from the asses among students, and the asses can’t get across the bridge at all. Since then the phrase has been applied to any difficult theorem that the asses can’t comprehend. And when it comes to the question of why is there something rather than nothing, the “New Atheists” still can’t get their asses over the bridge, although many of them are too ignorant to realize that. This sort of ignorance, a condition called “anosognosia,” which my friend Errol Morris is exploring in depth on his New York Times blog, means you don’t know what you don’t know. Or you don’t know how stupid you are.
In fact, I challenge any atheist, New or old, to send me their answer to the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I can’t wait for the evasions to pour forth.

What the fuck are you talking about? I guess I can’t speak for all atheists, Ron, but my response would probably be a lot like yours. That is, I think it’s a hugely interesting question that we may never know the answer to. Which I guess makes me not an atheist according to your presumptuous definition.

Via Metafilter

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The WWII atheism boom in Britain

Epiphenom looks at some data from WWII Britain and theorizes that greater social mobility led to a sudden rise in atheism.

Women helping out with the war effort often ended up in unfamiliar areas of the country.

One result of this freedom was that women born between 1914-1924 were twice as likely to have had sex before marriage than women born 10 years before. But, perhaps more importantly, both men and women were exposed to perspectives on the world that they would never have gained previously.

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Religion makes little difference in your sex life

Recent study: Religious identification doesn’t have much affect on the sex lives of college students. Though there is a bit of a difference when actual beliefs are considered rather than just self-identification as christian or whatever.

There are lots of other good nuggets in the story, like: Atheists and agnostics do fantasize more than religious people, and religion has no affect at all on infidelity.

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National day of blasphemy?

So, a federal judge has ruled that the national day of prayer is unconstitutional. There is no way in hell that this ruling will survive, so it’s not that big a deal. Daniel at Unreasonable Faith has an excellent suggestion though: A national day of blasphemy! I’m always a fan of fixing problems with more freedom rather than less.

Perhaps May 6th should be a day for both prayer and blasphemy.

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I’ll take care of your dog after you’ve vanished, like a jerk

 I’ll take care of your dog after you’ve vanished, like a jerk
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets is a group of atheists who are happy to charge pet-owners a fee for agreeing to take care of animals after their owners have been whisked away to heaven by the rapture.
via Unreasonable Faith

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Christians Disappearing

The survey of more than 54,000 people conducted between February and November of last year showed that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has dropped to 76 percent of the population, down from 86 percent in 1990. Those who do call themselves Christian are more frequently describing themselves as “nondenominational” “evangelical” or “born again,” according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Good news! Other good news: 15% of Americans have no religion. The non-religious are the only group that grew in every state since a 2001 survey.

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