Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sleepless

I sit at my keyboard well past my bedtime.  Insomnia has reared its ugly head.  So, I figured now is as good a time as any to discuss something that's been on my mind.  The very nature of our universe is enough to truly astound the mind.  Many astronomers have been known to point out the very poetic nature of our existence.  The fact that we owe our world and our very lives to the explosions of dead stars.  I find that the more I learn about our universe, the more in awe of it I am.  The idea that not only are these things knowable, but known, is something that speaks very strongly to the way I view the world, and to the way I think.  
     The great thing about the science is that it doesn't matter if I'm impressed by it, or if I like the answer.  The answer will not change.  Knowing these answers serves only to heighten my appreciation for everything around me.  It also helps me to deal with the world.  There are people in this world that rub me the wrong way, in fact there are quite a few that I flat dislike.  It's important to realize that we're not so different on the most basic of levels.  We are made of the same stuff.  Our bodies undergo the same processes.  The reason I get frustrated with these people isn't that we're different.  It's that they often misunderstand what I am trying to tell them.
     When did we come up with the ridiculous notion that our lives had to have meaning?  They don't.  You can give yourself goals and a purpose, but you have no predestined purpose.  And what's wrong with that?  Does that mean you can't spend your life helping people?  No it doesn't.  In fact it means the reason that you do so, is because you decided to.  I personally think it's much better to want to do something nice for someone than to be forced to.  It would seem to me that the greater virtue is in being nice when you don't have to be.  If you're forced to do the right thing, then you're not really doing the right thing.  You're just doing what you're forced to do.  I'm an optimist in this matter.  I think that people who bring about good in the world in the name of religion would probably still do so, even if they didn't believe in a god.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fire up the shredder!



Get ready boys and girls, here comes a stupid one.


I would like to address this graphic and the theists seem to think is clever.  If you are a theist who also fully accepts science and the scientific method, you're excused. This is, of course, the second version I've come across. The first version was very similar but with less of a martyr vibe.



The line "and they mock your beliefs" is instead "makes perfect sense."  Of course these are both very mocking things to end a graphic with.  I'm okay with a bit of mockery but it should not occur directly after such a spectacular display of ignorance.  None of these things have anything to do with atheism.  Except the mocking your beliefs part.  Some atheists do that.  I'm one of them.  So it's time to fire up the shredder boys and girls!  Put on your protective gear and follow me.

The stunning thing about this graphic is that it is not an attack on atheism but on science.  Several different fields as well.  It is a sad statement about the scientific education of the person who wrote it.  That is of course assuming some atheist didn't write this as a parody of theistic beliefs which isn't completely out of the question.  For the sake of argument I'm going to take this as if genuine because I've seen people I know to be theists post this in absolute seriousness.

The problem here is that when primitive man was making up the myths that would lead to the abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) he didn't know nearly enough about the world around him to explain its origins.  So naturally he (I'm guessing "he" since the abrahamic religions are demonstrably patriarchal) assumed that the origins of humans, the earth, the sky (he of course didn't know a thing about the universe) and other various aspects of life all happened at roughly the same time.  The creation myth for those lucky enough to have avoided it thus far can be found in the first chapter of Genesis.

Theists today want to take this ancient "wisdom" and apply it to the world around them long after it makes any sense to do so.  Let's count the scientific concepts misrepresented in the graphic.

1. The big bang cosmological model
2. The formation of the solar system
3. Abiogenesis
4. Evolution by natural selection
5. Paleontology

Those are just the one's I've noticed, there's probably more.  In case you want to know the real information about any of those topics, I've included links to the various Wikipedia articles on the subjects.  What bothers me is not that theists disagree with me.  It's not even that they seem to have no idea what it is I believe (or don't believe).  It's that they feel the need to attack science to try to get to atheism.  It doesn't matter if scientific theories don't match your particular creation myth.  Scientific method is not obliged to take scripture into account when coming to conclusions.  Even if the scripture were true it should only validate that truth through observations.

I am to a certain extent willing to let people have their beliefs.  I am absolutely going to openly mock them on Facebook.  It's not personal, it's just that these beliefs have little to no evidence.  It doesn't mean that I think theists are bad or stupid.  It's their beliefs I find laughable.

Here's the catch.  When you start trying to peddle that crap in our public schools then we have a serious problem.  Creationism isn't science.  It never has been and it never will be.  There is no evidence to support it, and your claims aren't falsifiable.  It's just a creation myth that's been made obsolete by learning the real answers.  Are these answers perfect?  No, they aren't.  Some are better than others.  Evolution for example may be the best answer we've ever come up with to a scientific problem.  If not it certainly warrants induction into the great answer hall of fame.  So until you come up with one scrap of evidence in the physical world for your hypothesis, we're not obliged to teach it to our children.

I'll finish on my opinion of the main problem.  It's not that this very small group of closed minded theists disagree with the scientific consensus.  That's to be expected.  It's through disagreement that we challenge ourselves to refine our answers.  Trying to disprove our hypotheses and theories are how we improve our answers.  The problem is that these science denying fundamentalists don't even understand the concepts they claim not to agree with.  I say claim because they don't understand the concepts enough to disagree with them.  I will close on my recently adopted catch phrase.  If you have a problem with profanity you should probably stop reading here.





Read a fucking biology textbook!

Freedom

When the final priest forsakes his robes
When the final temple crumbles to dust
When the final scriptures lay forgotten
When the final god gasps its last dying breath
Only then will we be free.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Atheist Aaron Rails Against Christianity

      This isn't going to be a nice one so anyone of a religious persuasion can take this as fair warning to mosey along.  I feel like I pull my punches in the course of general conversation much too much.  I'm respectful of people you see.  I like to be polite, but lets be honest, some of the things people believe aren't just stupid; they're downright dangerous.
     Christianity has to be one of the worst things to come out of a desert since dehydration.  Children are taught from a young age that they are worthless sinners who deserve to burn in hell, but don't worry Jesus will save you, unless you're a fag.  Then I'm afraid it's the hell fire for you.  What's wrong with being gay?  I couldn't tell you.  You're not hurting anyone, but you're an abomination in the eyes of the lord.  That's why we can't let you get married, because you'll make Jesus cry if you do.  Do not question these things, questioning the existence of God will get you sent to hell.  Just do as your told and stop being gay.  That's an order.
     This is where we get down to it.  Christianity isn't about being a good person.  It's about doing what your told without question.  It's hardly unique in this aspect, but I haven't had any Muslims or Jews try to take the moral high ground with me this week so we're gonna focus on the Christians.  I refuse to take my morals from a book that teaches blind obedience is the way to salvation.  What do I need to be saved from?  Am I too tolerant of my fellow man?
     Let me lay a bit of cold hard truth on you.  In a democratic society, you need to have a reason to take rights away from people, not the other way around.  "God said so" isn't a reason for anything.  It's an assertion without evidence.  It's bronze age idiocy that just won't go away.  If that's the only reason we have for denying gay people the right to marry then we don't have a good reason.  We give religion a free pass way to often.  It is detrimental to our society.  The first amendment allows you to have a religion.  It doesn't give you the right to force your asinine bankrupt moral views on the rest of us.  If your god insists on intolerance then your god is evil.
      Let me make one thing very clear.  I have often said that due to lack of evidence the reasonable position is that there are no gods.  This is not a statement of agnosticism, it is simply a way of explaining the conclusion I have reached.  There is no god.  If it's proven otherwise I will change my mind.  One thing I can be certain of, the Christian God does not exist.  Jesus if he ever even existed was a man like any other, dead two thousand years past.  He's no different than King Arthur or Robin Hood.  He absolutely did not raise from the dead.  He did not perform miracles.  These things do not happen, they are not possible.  So lets take count there is no God-the-father-almighty-maker-of-heaven-and-earth-and-hater-of-shellfish, no Jesus.  It feels like I'm forgetting something.  See I'm building up for dramatic effect to make the one Christian that accidentally stumbled onto my blog from a random search very nervous.  They know what's coming next.
      You see it makes them uncomfortable because three of the four gospels call what I'm about to say next "unforgivable sin".  There is no Holy Spirit.  It is a myth, a fabrication.  Well now that we got that out of the way it doesn't matter what I do.  I do this not to provoke (I don't honestly think any theists read this very very obscure blog anyway.)  I do it to set the next logical point up.  If I now decide that I'm going to follow all of the christian bibles commandments.  I can convert to Christianity and sing the praises to the sweet baby Jesus until I'm blue in the face.  I can bow and scrape and beg for forgiveness with my face flat on the floor.  I can apologize for calling the Holy Spirit a douche-bag.  Assuming he existed (he doesn't), the Christian god would still send me to hell.  Does that sound kind and merciful to you?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Atheist Aaron Ponders Awe

As far back as I can remember music has held a special kind of power over me.  At times I have been awestruck by the sounds of a particular song or a particular voice.  The frustrating part about this is that I cannot adequately translate this experience to another person.  They will not react to music the same way I do.  Why would they?  Their brain is different from mine.

Recently I attended a regional high school choir concert.  One of my younger brothers was in it, and I had picked that day to visit them.  It was a spur of the moment decision that led to a singular experience.  I had somehow allowed myself to forget the singular and beautiful sound of the human voice.  I don't typically listen to choral music because most of it is saturated in religious themes.  We can thank the catholic church for that.  The interesting thing about this was, because the words themselves are often not in English (I remember hearing Latin and German).  I had the unique experience of hearing the music with the religious undertones rendered completely unintelligible (that is to say more so than usual).  The word that comes to mind is awe.

This got me to thinking about experiences that have filled me with awe, and humanity's frequent attempts to rob a moment of it's profoundness by assigning words to it.  I would not begin to sully the feeling I get looking up at the night sky by calling it a "miraculous" or "transcendent" experience.  I would not so diminish the size of the universe by assigning some crude and badly thought out deity as its creator.  We do ourselves a great disservice by doing so and greatly constrain our language in the process.

How many times do I have to stop myself from using the word "creation" because some superstitious ancestor of ours insisted that everything was brought about by the designs of some great and mystical being in the sky?  Surely if those who came before us knew the truth, they would have abandoned such claims as crude and incorrect.  Unfortunately, many generations of the same unchanging religious nonsense have ingrained it into our society so firmly that many of our neighbors think they believe for good rational reasons.

Were there any great teachers who tried to explain the follies of this type of thinking?  Did any stand up and say "Brothers and Sisters we must unshackle ourselves of our superstition and our fear so that together we might make a better society?"  Perhaps, but it is likely they met with the fate one would expect.  Often times they will later have been claimed to say the opposite or something wholly different.  How many nonbelievers have we seen lied about before.  False stories of Darwin's recantation of his theories or claims that our founding fathers were all Christians are not unfamiliar to any of us.  All of this to defend things that simply can't be true.

Why would we possibly need faith when we can experience awe and wonder without a god (any god).  Why do I need to make up fantastic stories when the sight of the clear night sky has been enough to take my breath away, even knowing what it really was.  What need we of angels, demons, phantoms, and fairies when we can produce art that can bring a tear to someones eye just by gazing upon it?  Even if we want these things can we not enjoy them as the fiction they are?  If there were a god, surely he has been rendered pointless by the fact that I can live a good life without him.  In that case why do we need a god, why not simply do without?  Instead of making up fairy tails about the world when we do not like how things are, why don't we work together to change things?

I have heard the voices humans in song.  I have seen the works of art created by human hands.  I have seen technological marvels created by the human mind.  Surely, if we can do these things; we can fix the problems that we ourselves created.  We can fight off disease without worrying about religion spreading it.  We can stop wars, instead of letting religion start them.  We life full enriched lives, instead of sacrificing our precious time to gods that don't exist.  We can bring everyone together and celebrate our differences, instead of depriving good people of their rights just because our fake gods said no.  If these things are against your god's will then I ask you this:  What's so good about your god?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Atheist Aaron Ponders Love

Friends, I would like to talk to you for a moment about love.  I know that's kind of a general topic, so I'll try to narrow it down a bit.  I'm not talking about strong like, that is to say when someone declares "I love this song," or "I just love these shoes."  No, I'm talking honest selfless love.  In my opinion, it is one of the greatest things about being a human.  We have evolved the ability to feel love.  I believe this to be one of the major strengths of our species.  If you love someone, you don't want them to come to harm.  It's not hard to see the evolutionary benefit of such an emotion.  Is this a chemical reaction in the brain or a firing of synapses?  Probably so, I'm not certain the exact processes involved, you'd have to talk to a brain expert for that.  The exact process doesn't really matter.  Whatever the physical cause, we get to feel this wonderfully rich emotion.  Surely you can all see how lucky this makes us.  I believe that if we all loved a little more, listened a little more, and learned a little more about each other and the world around us, the world could very easily become a better place.  

Like anything though love isn't perfect.  Sometimes we stop thinking sensibly.  We do have to be careful not to let ourselves get too carried away.  I find getting a little carried away from time to time can be quite fulfilling.  My point is that while we should love as much as we can, that doesn't necessarily mean that others can be trusted as an object of that love.  For example you might love a sibling or a parent, but you know from experience that they are untrustworthy.  Perhaps your brother is an addict, and while you love them unconditionally, you wouldn't leave money lying around near him.  In this case it's not wrong to love your brother, it simply shouldn't inform all of your actions.  I remember when I was young my mother once said about a similar situation, "It's never wrong to love someone." I couldn't agree more.

There's a catch though.  The person you love has to exist.  You can't just fall in love with something that isn't real, if that informs your actions then your decision making based on that will be flawed.  You'd be worse off loving a god that doesn't exist than loving your junkie brother because at least when your brother does something to break your trust you can point to that and say "Well that's why we don't trust him." With an imaginary god you can't ever point to anything concrete.  Your god will always agree with you, even when you're just plain wrong.  Your god won't disappoint you or do anything to break your trust.  Hell, your god won't do anything at all, he's not real.  

Where's the harm?  In mythology, Pygmalion fell in love with a statue he had sculpted.  In real life there's no Venus to bring someone's imaginary loved one to life.  Loving a god with all of one's heart will not make that god any more real.  That's where the problems start.  People often say they love their god more than anything else.  More than their spouse, more than their kids, more than their friends and family.  The problem with that is, sometimes they're telling the truth.  That's truly frightening to me.  What sort of ill-conceived actions can occur as a result of this?  Well why don't I take a page out of the Christian's book by way of example.

For those of you playing our home game this one starts in Genesis Chapter 22 Verse 1.  For those of you who don't want to read the damn bible, I'll paraphrase here.  I'm going to go ahead and warn you now, this story is pretty fucked up. It gets more fucked up the more you think about it.  

God (that's Yahweh's nickname) says to Abraham, "I want you to to take your only son up to a mountain and kill him for me."  It specifically refers to Isaac as his only son even though he had a son named Ishmael whom he sent away.  I guess we don't count bastards.  The story doesn't mention Abraham objecting.  The next day he packs his things, brings a couple servants (read slaves), his son, and of course some wood to burn his son with.  He follows God's directions and gets near the location God told him to sacrifice his son at.  At that point he tells the servants to wait with the donkey, because when you want to murder your son in the name of your loving and merciful god you don't want witnesses.  The text doesn't say that's why he told them to wait, I added that part for flavor.  He says they'll go worship and come right back.

He has Isaac carry the wood and he grabs the knife and fire for the sacrifice and they continue on for a bit.  Apparently, Isaac was bright enough to notice something missing.  He brings up to his father that they forgot to bring a lamb to sacrifice and Abraham lies and says that the lord will provide a lamb.  He of course had no way of knowing how this would turn out, so I count it as a lie.  Once they get to the killin' place he ties up his son and gets ready to stab him with the knife.  I guess that's a small concession, they stab you then when you're dead they burn you.  Well at that point an angel comes and stops him.  He says that Abraham has passed the test and now God knows Abraham is so scared of him that he'd kill his son.  He then finds a ram to sacrifice and he's blessed and such.  It get's boring again after that.

Now I could probably just leave it at that and let you see what's wrong with that for yourself but let's go ahead and just for fun point out a few things.  First of all I've got to imagine awkward that trip home was.  Did Isaac look at his father and say "Seriously, what the fuck was that?"  God starts off by lying to Abraham, then Abraham goes and does what he's told.  For this story to mean a damn thing, Abraham actually has to believe that he's about to kill his son.  That's the whole point.  Now I don't know maybe Abraham was a terrible father, but I don't know of any decent parent that wouldn't risk bodily harm or even eternal damnation (if such a thing existed) to protect their child, no matter how big bad and scary the Big Angry Man In The Sky was.  Maybe he loved his god more than he loved his son.  Whatever the reason, he continues until stopped by an angel of the lord.  Is this that famous biblical morality I've heard so much about?  The only conclusions I can draw from this is that God is a sick bastard, and Abraham is either a fanatic or a madman.  Thankfully none of them likely existed. 

Well then if I don't believe that story why bring it up?  Well, because a large portion of Americans hold up stories like this as moral.  They love the god of these stories more than anything else in their life.  What sorts of bad decisions are they making based on this bad assumption.  Would they too sacrifice their children if they thought their god called them to?  Some of them would.  That's exactly what happens when people chose faith healing and prayer for their sick children instead of medical attention. Are these people in the majority?  No, even as far as religious people are concerned they are not, but the ideas that they base these decisions on are accepted by the vast majority of the religious.  Blind faith and loving unproven gods leads to bad decisions, and in the extreme can get people killed.  How many?  I don't have the exact figures, but I can say one thing.  One child dying because of love for and faith in an imaginary god, is one child too many.  Even if the god were real, it would be one too many.  

Your Loving Friend
Atheist Aaron

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Atheist Aaron Wears a T-shirt

It's not every day that a complete stranger walks up and shakes your hand but I tell you friends this very thing happened to me earlier today and all I had to do was wear a T-shirt.  Now if you'll forgive the cheap story telling trick I'd like to start two weeks ago when I decided it was high time I show some pride in myself and my views. I don't want to be the sort of jerk that forces his views on everyone else so I have often kept quiet when I should not have.

I decided to force myself to be more honest by purchasing a T-shirt from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.  Many of you are probably familiar with the out campaign.  The shirt features the signature scarlet A design over the heart.  It makes the point without being obnoxious about it.  If someone comes up and asks me what the A stands for I can politely explain that it stands for "Atheist".  Hopefully they've already realized I'm not a two-headed, a-moral, baby eating monster by this point.

Being honest about yourself is important, and it's not always easy to do.  Even I have trouble being honest about my atheism sometimes.  I hope that one day being an atheist will be as ordinary as driving a particular brand of automobile.  "Oh you're an atheist?  That's nice, my nephew is too."  We're not quite to that point yet.  Before I get off on too much of a tangent I should get back to my story.

Today when I got off work I picked up some fast food on the way home.  If you've ever bought food at a drive through, you probably know that looking through the bag to make sure everything's correct is probably a good idea.  I know this too but I guess I was tired and didn't bother to check.  I hadn't realized my mistake until I got home, so I changed out of my work shirt into the aforementioned t-shirt and went back to have my order fixed.  To the restaurants credit they were very polite and had the problem fixed rather quickly.

 It was while I was waiting for my order that a gentleman in a suit approached me and said he liked my shirt and shook my hand.  He said that he couldn't get away with wearing something like that as he worked in sales.  I can sympathize with his situation, and it was at that moment it struck me.  What kind of messed up situation are we in that a complete stranger feels compelled to thank me for wearing a T-shirt?  It's exactly for people like the gentleman in the suit that we have to be honest if we can.  People risk losing their jobs or worse just by being honest.  They feel compelled to lie for fear that they'll lose friends and family.  I'll tell you they're not entirely unwarranted fears.  That's why those of us who can be open, should be.  People are far more tolerant towards atheists when they think there's a bunch of us around.

We don't do this to pick fights with people, though a good debate never hurt anyone that I'm aware of.  We do it for the atheists who can't speak up yet.  They're doctors, teachers, policemen, soldiers, little league coaches, waiters, plumbers, you name it.  Some of them are even preachers stuck in a life they no longer believe in.  Some sit in the pews every Sunday going through the motions for fear of being outcast.  That's why we should speak out whenever we can.  We're here and we will not bow to your religion no matter how many of you there are, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends.

Your Optimistic Friend,
Atheist Aaron