Monday, December 20, 2010

Tree of Knowledge

Another Christmas season another Tree of Knowledge. The Seattle Atheists have erected a Tree of Knowledge on their state capitol grounds. You see these kinds of displays across the country and my general feelings towards them have not changed since I wrote about them last year. Although I have to admit the message they placed next to the tree is really not bad (especially when compared with that drivel the FFRF puts up). I would even find myself agreeing with their message if I was not so jaded due to just about everything that comes from atheist groups is meant with some kind of anti-religious slant. But that is not why this Tree of Knowledge is different. When these kinds of displays are put up they are in response to an accompanying religious display, such as a nativity scene. However, there is no accompanying religious display for this Tree of Knowledge! I cannot count the number of times I have seen various atheist groups/bloggers throw complete hissy fits over religious displays on state grounds. Yet here they are, doing the exact thing which they constantly scream and rave against, which seems to be a common theme lately.

Religious displays on state grounds, BIG NO NO!
Atheist displays on state grounds, perfectly ok.

On a serious note, would any atheists care to give their feelings on this display and if they think it should remain?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Response to Ignorant Atheist Bull Shit

This is in response to a comment made on my previous post, Ignorant Atheist Bull Shit, made by a poster going by the screen name skeptic7. Due to the nature of his comment and the length of my response I thought it deserved its own post. You will want to read my previous post and his comment before reading this post (I will assume skeptic7 is a he for the time being to make things easier).

Let’s start with skeptic7’s first statement:
Jake The Angry Snake claims that 'the biggest thing in an atheist's life is that they don't believe in something'.
The article that I quoted said this. But nowhere in my post did I support, agree with, or even discuss this statement. Did he even read what I wrote? His statement is a flat out lie.
that is a rather broad stroke of the stereotypical brush.
I made no such “stereotypical brush” stroke. Skekptic7 made up a claim I never made and then labeled it a stereotype. I believe this is also known as a straw man. I have seen anti-theists do this more times than I like to count. And not to say theists are not guilty of this as well, they are, but two wrongs do not make a right. Let’s move on to the next part of his statement that started with the lie about something I never claimed.
From a lifetime of experience, not believing in something that doesn't exist is actually of very little concern. i don't waste my time on the nonexistent. I don't accept lots of extraordinary supernatural claims as fact or truth, such as The Tooth Fairy, Bigfoot, alien abductions, Santa Claus...nor a dog that speaks perfect English out of his ass, which by the way has a better chance of existing than an invisible, mute, all-knowing, all-powerful, egomaniacal baby sitter who cannot even be defined, so much as seen. We KNOW dogs exist and we KNOW they all have assholes, which is infinitely more than we know about any gods, not to mention more than you or any other theist can tell me about any god.
The existence or non-existence of a god had absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote about in my previous post. This is also something I see anti-theists do all the time. They switch away from the current topic of discussion and revert to making a laundry list of reasons they say god does not exist. I think, and this is my opinion, many of them use this tactic to try and go for a cheap and easy “win” when continuing with the current topic would require too much effort. They throw out all these reasons why they claim god does not exist knowing theists will be unable to prove otherwise. They then dance in circles acting like they just won the entire debate. However, they usually ignore the inconvenient fact that many theists are not trying to prove (a) god(s) existence and will willingly admit that they cannot do so 100%. They, anti-theists, also tend to sprinkle a generous helping of insults on top of this tactic as well. As if being derogatory somehow makes their claims more “right”. I also talked about this in my post on Accommodation and Confrontation about a post from PZ Meyers:
PZ Meyers: Religion isn't the problem, they claim, it's only the extremists and zealots and weirdos. The majority of believers are moderates and even share some values with us.
"But is a moderate superstition true?", we repeat, and "How can a myth be made more true if its proponents are simply calmer in stating it?"
Me: Since when was this about whether or not our religious beliefs were true? We believe them to be, atheists do not. The real issue here is the extremists and more importantly their actions of attempting to undermine things such as public education. It is not about if their beliefs are true or not, but how they are attempting to force their beliefs upon others.
For the anti-theists who always insist on reverting to the existence of a god in discussions/arguments with theists, let me help you out here. Theists believe in a god/higher power, atheists do not. Problem solved. You can move on now.
2. Jake The Angry Snake's analogy about basketball, while amusing, needs to be carried a bit further. Of course Jake the Snake keeps his dislike of basketball to himself. He has no reason not to. No one is trying to force him or his friends and loved ones to play the game. Neither he, nor his loved ones are being threatened, fined, incarcerated, killed or losing any liberties because they don't participate in, or at least enjoy, the game. Jake The Snake would probably feel a bit differently if this were happening. This IS what happens with religion.
Actually no, the analogy does not need to be taken further. If anti-theists were to restrict their attacks to only those groups of people who actually were attempting to force their religious beliefs upon others than skeptic7 would be correct. However, since anti-theists do not restrict their attacks but instead choose to target all of religion, my analogy works just fine with no need to take it further. This is made clear from Hemant Mehta’s comment:
We can’t “live and let live” when we see how much damage these beliefs — as silly as some might seem — have inflicted on people we love, and how much pain these beliefs have caused by people who took them too seriously.
By stating anti-theists cannot “live and let live” he is saying it does not matter if you actively push your beliefs upon others or not. If you are religious, you will be targeted regardless. This is extremely ironic considering that by taking this stance anti-theists are, in turn, forcing their (lack of) beliefs upon others. This is fairly hypocritical coming from a group who constantly decries this same behavior in the religious right.
3. I don't ever worry about being bilked out of money by superstitious claims. It has never been my money and it never will be. However, it could be my mother's money or a good friend's and i find fraud repugnant regardless of the flavor. In my humble opinion, religion sells empty promises which it never has to pay out and is impossible to collect on, so it is fraud. REMEMBER, i said MY opinion. If this faulty, fly-by-night insurance policy makes people feel better, then good for them. Drugs, alcohol, dreams and certain cranial trauma also create deluded states that make people feel better, but ultimately one usually has to deal with reality.
Let’s actually define fraud here.
Fraud: In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual – From Wikipedia.
Notice the part where it states “intentional deception” (emphasis mine). That alone disqualifies nearly every donation/tithe to a church as being fraud. And I think we can agree that the ones it does not disqualify are fairly rare as they would also be very illegal. Just because you think someone’s religious beliefs are false does not automatically make their donations on behalf of those beliefs fraud. Skeptic7 also ignored my statement about charities. Studies have shown the religious far out give to charities than non-religious. This is a fact. Many of those donations, which he and other anti-theists label “fraud”, go to these charities. And I think anti-theists are not even willing to go so far as to say giving to charities is bad.
4. Instilling the fear of Hell and eternal torture in children and/or on their loved ones is CRUEL. It is indoctrination (brainwashing) of a very loathsome kind.
Not all religions believe in Hell and eternal torture. Heck, not even all of Christianity believes in Hell or eternal torture. Again, criticizing all of religion for something not all religions do is faulting reasoning. Get your facts straight. I do not even believe in a Hell or eternal torture. So go bug someone else who actually does believe in it with that one.
My opinion, most atheists don't give a rat's ass about your silly, childish superstitions and imaginary friends. We DO care about keeping their subjective, regressive and oppressive nature from impeding our liberties and advancements in science, medicine and technology.
Your, anti-theists, actions and words, such as being unable to “live and let live”, scream differently.
KEEP STATE AND CHURCH SEPARATE. The Founding Fathers, even those who were religious and even Christian, saw the folly of allowing subjective superstition into lawmaking, politics and government. The USA is a secular democratic republic...NOT a theocracy.
Where did I even mention the separation of Church and State in my previous post? Skeptic7 is correct in that the USA is not a theocracy, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. Skeptic7, please try to put a little more effort in staying on topic in the future.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ignorant Atheist Bull Shit

Pardon my tone in this post but I am really beginning to get pissed off. I hear atheists railing about ignorant theist bull shit all the time. But how about some ignorant atheist bull shit, which seems to be all I have been reading lately on various atheist blogs. And the latest example comes to us from Friendly Atheist (which now is a misnomer due to his switch to confrontationalist, i.e. all religion is bad and theists should be treated with contempt).
CFI Canada is running a campaign that states “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”. They then have a laundry list of items they classify as “extraordinary”. A columnist responded to CFI’s campaign stating the following:

So why does he care if people believe in God, Allah or the tooth fairy? Atheists are defined by their disbelief. i.e. the biggest thing in their life is that they don’t believe in something. But rather than just go around quietly, not believing, Trottier and his pals feel compelled to make other people not believe either. Their only faith is in the rightness of not having faith.

Isn’t that just a bit strange? I don’t happen to believe basketball is that interesting. Sorry, just don’t. I tried, but it bores me. Mainly I just keep it to myself. But if I was Justin Trottier, I’d be out there raising money to run ads in subways and streetcars, trying to convince other people that basketball is boring. The ads would say: “If you think basketball isn’t boring, you have to prove it. Just like Bigfoot.”

Would that make sense? (Answer: No). And to what end, exactly? If five more people suddenly realize they also don’t care about basketball, have I achieved anything? 
Hemant Mehta, the not-so-friendly Friendly Atheist, responded to the columnist’s comments and it is his response that is part of the ever growing amount of BS spewing out of anti-theists mouths that is driving me up the wall.
We actively fight against extraordinary claims like the ones in the poster because those claims cause harm.
Those claims do not inherently cause harm! They have the potential to cause harm, but so does every single other claim/thing/belief/idea ever conceived or used by mankind. There is no reason to single out all of religion because of its extremists. Every group has extremists or the potential for extremists. Although what he says next is really what falls under the ignorant atheist BS.
They can drain your wallet.
So what! Is it your wallet? No! Was the money given willingly? Most of the time, yes! And in the times where religious believers are scammed out of their money laws are usually broken and the perpetrator can be taken to court. And the vast majority of money given to Churches will also go towards some kind of charity work instead of just going into the preacher’s pocket. Oh, and did I ask if it was your money? If it is not yours, why do you care? Getting rid of religion is not going to stop people from scamming others out of their money. Those who end up scammed probably should have seen the warning signs. As for rest of the people, those in the vast majority, they generally do not miss the small amount they tithe to their church which helps keep their church, and various charities, running.
They will waste your time.
According to who? Anti-theists who are hell bent on making others think, act, and believe like they do? This is an opinion, not a fact! For a group whose favorite buzzwords include “rational thinking” you would think they could recognize when they are giving a personal opinion as fact. I think watching sports on TV is a waste of time. But you will not see me going around telling everyone who enjoys it to stop.
They can become the basis for irrational, unnecessary, and dangerous laws.
And what cannot? This goes back to what I said earlier, any kind of idea, claim, belief, you name it, when it is taken to an extreme it can become the basis for irrational, unnecessary, and dangerous laws. Just because you happen to have an irrational hatred of all things religious does not make religion more of a catalyst for this kind of behavior.
They offer false hope that will never come to fruition.
Again with the personal opinion. When will atheists learn that just because it comes out of their mouths, it does not make it a fact? Also, in some cases the hope they offer does come to fruition. For example, there are cases where families becoming religious together have made them stronger and closer as a family. Or a person struggling with drug addiction who, through religion, cleans their life up. Could this happen in other circumstances as well? Yes. But does that make it any less valid? No. There are also the studies that have shown being religious will make you a happier person. That sure seems to be an example of hope coming to fruition.
They can make you kill or hate or injure others.
More taking the extremes and applying it to the whole. Politics can do the same thing. Should we get rid of it? In some areas of Europe wearing the wrong soccer jersey in public can get you killed. Should we ban soccer? How about we focus on the people who are actually doing the killing and the specific beliefs that are causing that behavior instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Last time I checked, religion has not made me, or any religious person I have ever known, fly a plane into a building. That kind of behavior seems to be limited to a small group with very specific types of thinking.
They make you believe in fiction.
Again, according to who? Oh yeah, anti-theists hell bent on making others think/act/believe like they do.
They make you fight against reality.
See previous comment.
They brainwash children and adults alike.
This argument has been refuted so many times it is no longer funny. Oh, and see previous comment.
We can’t “live and let live” when we see how much damage these beliefs — as silly as some might seem — have inflicted on people we love, and how much pain these beliefs have caused by people who took them too seriously.
I think one of the commenters responded best to this little bit:
Fundie Troll
Hemant, you can’t “live and let live”? Then you are guilty of the very thing that you accuse the religious of on a daily basis – forcing your system of beliefs on others.
The road that you are travelling down – and I will admit that the religious right in this country is guilty of the same thing – leads to tyranny. You MUST live and let live, because the only alternative is a society where freedom does not exist.
Fundie Troll makes a good point. The atheists who share the same mindset of this post are guilty of the same intolerance and bigotry the constantly decry in believers.