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Dissident1's picture

Guys and Dolls

In these days of political correctness, it is considered anathema to suggest that there are more differences between males and females than just genitalia. The field of evolutionary psychology has been criticized heavily for every hypothesis that supports such a contention.

Look to a children's show for depicting some obvious behavioural differences between the sexes.

In one episode of The Backyardigans, the three male characters were engaged in play where they were pretending to be heroes in Hawaii. They called themselves "the Luau Brothers" and were enjoying the beach and the sands when they heard something coming from a nearby cave. Inside they encountered the two females, who had dubbed themselves "the Volcano sisters".

pinoy atheist's picture

Just like a spare tire?

What happened when a man lost his faith?

Most people will say that he will become an atheist. Others will say he will just look for a new religion. These frequent answers are the reason why most people think that atheism is a religion and that all atheists are a bunch of angry, cynical theists who just hate God.

I really don’t think that a person angry with his religion or angry at god is automatically considered as an atheist. There are a lot of ways to handle such anger other than going to non-belief. Heck! This is just a reason a Christian believer would like to happen. You know, angry theists are very easily to be converted or re-converted.

pinoy atheist's picture

She Doesn't Believe in Santa Clause

I was surprise to find out that Dr. Christina Yang (portrait by Sandra Oh) from the TV series Grey's Anatomy is an atheist. Well, she said it herself, she doesn’t believe in Santa Clause and she doesn’t believe in God.

The episode was about this kid who’s getting a heart transplant. His mother keeps telling him that his heart came from Santa Clause, yet the kid figure it out that it was all a lie. Dr. Preston Burke (played by Isaiah Washington), the cardiothoracic surgeon (I think he’s Dr. Yang’s boyfriend) had an argument about this and was kind of insulted about Dr. Yang’s attitude towards his religion…’er spirituality as what he wanted to call it. For Dr. Yang spirituality and religion is just the same. Dr. Yang’s boyfriend says that the reason he considers a being “higher than himself” is because without it he feel very helpless.

Dissident1's picture

Ahhh, the holidays

Holidays stink! Work stops, and everyone expects a major outpouring of consumer rewards expressing love and affection.

Most holidays are born of religious traditions and inclinations. Thanksgiving, for instance, holds the idea of thanking a deity as a dominate part of a feast. Born of a nationalistic attitude of being thankful for a new land to conquer, the thanks are given to a particular cultures god.

I do not celebrate any holiday, except maybe National Eat A Banana Day, because everything that is behind the holidays is absolutely meaningless to me.

I also do not believe in the idea of buying presents in abundance to give to a person on a specific day. If I see something in a store that looks like something that someone I love would like, I do something that might seem a little odd. I buy it for that person, if I have enough money, then give it to them. No holding onto it, no hiding it.

Santa Faith

"Do you believe in santa?" That is what my little sister just asked me. Yes she is little enough to have that belief, but I'm not going to lie to her so I told her no. She responded with slight shock and asked me why to which I was a jerk and said, "because." I didn't really feel like I debating her on santa when I'm hungry so I gave her a bit of a run around.

As I walked up the stairs she asked, "Well what happens to the cookies?" I said, "What happens when you eat cookies?" We did the same thing with the milk and she asked, "Can you prove santa isn't there?"

I stopped at that and acting confused said, "Why should I do that? Can you prove the cat isn't there?" We have two cats and a kitty so I just used that as an example. She said, "Well I can look there and see a cat," one of the cats was in the room. I pointed out that I didn't see a santa so she now wants to film him christmas eve.

?

Why why why does everyone (friends, I don't try this on strangers) get so pissed at me when I attempt to politely explain that saying bless you when I sneeze bothers me. I know and acknowledge that they are trying to be polite but I would rather nor have it. Must I suffer so that someone can feel better about themselves and their manners. I don't get upset when people continue to use it as an unconscious gesture but people become angry with me for even suggesting they try to find an alternative. Also why am I not allowed to refuse to celebrate christmas, I am not christian, it is not my holliday.

Blue Moose's picture

think about it

If one has something mundane to say, one goes to a mundane place, and says it to a mundane group of people, in myspace or something. If one finds a place that is interesting and is full of interesting people, why would you continue to say mundane things?

There are few opportunities in life to voice your considered opinion and actually have it listened to. There are even fewer places where a disagreement means a discussion, or a friendly, intellectual arguement rather than an exchange of insults.

Jesterspace's picture

A fascinating article

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Dissident1's picture

What if we are wrong?

Christians tend to believe that believing matters quite a bit. In fact, they have a tendency to announce how very much their beliefs influence their behaviour for the better. A classic argument against atheism suggest that, if the atheist is wrong, then there will be hell to pay, but if the christian is wrong, it is no big deal. The atheist will have ruined his afterlife, but the christian won't have ruined anything.

Wrong!

There is quite a bit wrong with this argument. If the atheist is wrong, then there will be a need for the Christian god to explain why his message was so muddled that no rational person could possibly comprehend it. However, if the christian is wrong, then they will have completely ruined there only life, as well as the lives of their children and many of those around them.

I'm an atheist but...

Of all the questions I fielded during the course of my recent book tour, the only ones that really depressed me were those that began "I'm an atheist, BUT . . ." What follows such an opening is nearly always unhelpful, nihilistic or – worse – suffused with a sort of exultant negativity. Notice, by the way, the distinction from another favourite genre: "I used to be an atheist, but . . ." That is one of the oldest tricks in the book, practised by, among many others, C S Lewis, Alister McGrath and Francis Collins. It is designed to gain street cred before the writer starts on about Jesus, and it is amazing how often it works. Look out for it, and be forewarned.

I've noticed five variants of I'm-an-atheist-buttery, and I'll list them in turn, in the hope that others will recognize them, be armed against them, and perhaps extend the list by contributing examples from their own experience.

1. I'm an atheist, but religion is here to stay. You think you can get rid of religion? Good luck to you! You want to get rid of religion? What planet are you living on? Religion is a fixture. Get over it!

I could bear any of these downers, if they were uttered in something approaching a tone of regret or concern. On the contrary. The tone of voice is almost always gleeful, and accompanied by a self-satisfied smirk. Anybody who opens with "I'm an atheist, BUT . . ." can be more or less guaranteed to be one of those religious fellow-travellers who, in Dan Dennett's wickedly perceptive phrase, believes in belief. They may not be religious themselves, but they love the idea that other people are religious. This brings me to my second category of naysayers.

2. I'm an atheist, but people need religion. What are you going to put in its place? How are you going to comfort the bereaved? How are you going to fill the need?

I dealt with this in the last chapter of The God Delusion, 'A Much Needed Gap' and also, at more length, in Unweaving the Rainbow. Here I'll make one additional point. Did you notice the patronizing condescension in the quotations I just listed? You and I, of course, are much too intelligent and well educated to need religion. But ordinary people, hoi polloi, the Orwellian proles, the Huxleian Deltas and Epsilon semi-morons, need religion. Well, I want to cultivate more respect for people than that. I suspect that the only reason many cling to religion is that they have been let down by our educational system and don't understand the options on offer. This is certainly true of most people who think they are creationists. They have simply not been taught the alternative. Probably the same is true of the belittling myth that people 'need' religion. On the contrary, I am tempted to say "I believe in people . . ." And this leads me to the next example.

3. I'm an atheist, but religion is one of the glories of human culture.

At a conference in San Diego which I attended at the end of my book tour, Sam Harris and I were attacked by two "I'm an atheist, but . . ." merchants. One of these quoted Golda Meir when she was asked whether she believed in God: "I believe in the Jewish people, and the Jewish people believe in God." Our smirking critic substituted his own version: "I believe in people, and people believe in God."

Religion, he presumably thought, is like a great work of art. Many works of art, rather, because different religions are so varied. I was reminded of Nicholas Humphrey's devastating indictment of an extreme version of this kind of thing, quoted in Chapter 9 of The God Delusion. Humphrey was discussing the discovery in the mountains of Peru of the frozen remains of a young Inca girl who was, according to the archaeologist who found her, the victim of a religious sacrifice. Humphrey described a television documentary in which viewers were invited . . .

" . . . to marvel at the spiritual commitment of the Inca priests and to share with the girl on her last journey her pride and excitement at having been selected for the signal honour of being sacrificed. The message of the television programme was in effect that the practice of human sacrifice was in its own way a glorious cultural invention – another jewel in the crown of multiculturalism . . ."

I share the outrage that Humphrey eloquently expressed: -

"Yet, how dare anyone even suggest this? How dare they invite us – in our sitting rooms, watching television – to feel uplifted by contemplating an act of ritual murder: the murder of a dependent child by a group of stupid, puffed up, superstitious, ignorant old men? How dare they invite us to find good for ourselves in contemplating an immoral action against someone else?"

It would be unfair to accuse our critic in San Diego of complicity in such an odious attitude towards the Inca 'ice maiden'. But I hope at least he will think twice before repeating that bon mot (as he obviously thought of it): "I believe in people, and people believe in God." I could have overlooked the patronizing condescension of his remark, if only he hadn't sounded so smugly satisfied by this lamentable state of affairs.

4. I'm an atheist, but you are only preaching to the choir. What's the point?

There are various points. One is that the choir is a lot bigger than many people think it is, especially in America. But, again especially in America, it is largely a closet choir, and it desperately needs encouragement to come out. Judging by the thanks I received all over North America, the encouragement that people like Sam Harris, Dan Dennett and I are able to give is greatly appreciated. So is this website, as I heard again and again. My thanks, yet again, to Josh.

A more subtle reason for preaching to the choir is the need to raise consciousness. When the feminists raised our consciousness about sexist pronouns, they would have been preaching to the choir where the more substantive issues of the rights of women and the evils of discrimination against them were concerned. But that decent, liberal choir still needed its consciousness raising with respect to everyday language. However right-on we may have been on the political issues of rights and discrimination, we nevertheless still unconsciously bought into linguistic conventions that made half the human race feel excluded.

There are other linguistic conventions that still need to go the same way as sexist pronouns, and the atheist choir is not exempt. We all need our consciousness raised. Atheists as well as theists unconsciously buy into our society's convention that religion has uniquely privileged status. I've already mentioned the convention that we must be especially polite and respectful to a person's faith. And I never tire of drawing attention to society's tacit acceptance that it is right to label small children with the religious opinions of their parents.

That's consciousness-raising, and atheists need it just as much as anybody else because atheists, too, have been lulled into overlooking the anomaly: religious opinion is the one kind of parental opinion that – by almost universal consent – can be battened upon children who are, in truth, too young to know what their opinion really is.

5. I'm an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your intemperately strong language.

Sam Harris and I have both received criticism of this kind, and Nick Humphrey probably has too, for the quotation given above. Yet if you look at the language we employ, it is no more strong or intemperate than anybody would use if criticizing a political or economic point of view: no stronger or more intemperate than any theatre critic, art critic or book critic when writing a negative review. Our language sounds strong and intemperate only because of the same weird convention I have already mentioned, that religious faith is uniquely privileged: above and beyond criticism. On pages 20-21 of The God Delusion I gave a wonderful quote from Douglas Adams on the subject.

Book critics or theatre critics can be derisively negative and earn delighted praise for the trenchant wit of their review. A politician may attack an opponent scathingly across the floor of the House and earn plaudits for his robust pugnacity. But let a critic of religion employ a fraction of the same direct forthrightness, and polite society will purse its lips and shake its head: even secular polite society, and especially that part of secular society that loves to announce, "I'm an atheist, BUT . . ."

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