Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Angry Atheists

It surprised me at first how much anger comes through in our blog here. It wasn't part of the original idea to have a blog to spew anger, but that's what came out. I figured it would subside after a time, but it's usually when I get angry about something that I think to blog about it. There is also the problem that Christians close to us caused a lot of evil and hid behind their religion for guilt-free forgiveness without regard to the recipients of the evil acts. And the purported use of religion by those distant to pursue evil acts worthy of reporting far and wide.

My big message I wanted to get across in the blog is that you can live a good, happy and moral life without a belief in God. I don't think I'm doing a great job of it, but oh well. Whenever I hear atheism discussed by religious folk they speak as if love and morality disappears if you have no God to believe in. That's the idea I want to change. Love, morality, caring, meaning and fulfillment are not tied to any religion or God.

I guess I also want people to quit using religion as a tool to manipulate others, because that's what I see when I look at organized religion. It's a means of few people controlling the thoughts and ultimately actions of many others. The flock react to the preacher, not to God, because God is just a feeling of validation you have when you feel good about what your thinking, and that is reinforced by your peers and leaders in the church.

I wish I could be more like Carl Sagan in my attitudes. In reading his book I love his approach in speaking about God. He says something like "I see no compelling evidence for God". Heck, I'm not even sure he was an atheist. He just speaks about his (and science's) observations and the accuracy of their predictions compared to religion and pseudoscience without anger or accusation.

The Friendly Atheist also has a good approach. In a recent video he speaks of reaching out and speaking with people he is at odds with to good effect. A woman who outed his atheism to all his management at work and released press releases further out him eventually complained about a nasty email she received from an angry FA reader. He apologized for it and pointed out an unfounded incendiary speculation made in one of the press releases, and they started an apparently cordial dialog and met in person. I doubt either altered their beliefs and opinions, but here are two people talking and agreeing on fair play and free speech rather than spewing anger at each other to no effect.

The FA also makes a distinction between debates and discussion in public speaking. I like this. I don't think I've ever seen a debate or argument change someone's opinion. It just polarizes people over the issue and separates people. A discussion, however, still doesn't change opinions, but it can result in fairer play, lower aggression and bring people closer together even if they disagree on such things as God and morality.

Another problem in getting along with people when realizing I was an atheist is that formerly respectable religions begin to sound as stupid as UFO cults, voodoo and pseudoscience, and it's hard to maintain respect for people who believe in them. It's hard not to start feeling smarter and superior to people who believe in ludicrous stories with no actual supporting evidence. And a lot of other atheists seem to come to the same thoughts, because there seems to be a sport in other atheists mocking believers. Sometimes amusing, but probably not constructive.

I sometimes ask myself how to be more like Carl Sagan or Hemant Mehta—The Friendly Atheist. I don't really have a good answer. I suppose I need to get over the anger. That will be hard to do, and I find it's helpful to spew it out here rather than to hang onto it.

After posting this I realized that my last blog is based on a video series titled "Why Do People Laugh at Creationists", and my last tweet links to "The Bible: Evidence That God Is Evil?" I found both amusing and validating my beliefs, but they certainly wouldn't open a door to friendly discussion with someone of differing beliefs, would they?

Monday, August 23, 2010


I can't coalesce my thoughts on this topic long enough to type intelligently about it, but check out this video about the dangers of Christian and Islamic fundamentalism—specifically in the case of creationism suppressing the results of the scientific method—to our country.

The video is part of a long well-made series debunking creationists.

I'll babble a bit about what's on my mind. The current transition from periodic media like newspapers and TV news to the internet is going to have some growing pains I fear. In general what takes the place of trusted journalists? More specifically I'm concerned that religious interests will try to overpower the voice of science and reason in the new media and risk slipping into a mini dark age.

I am not against free flow of information of course. I think in the long run the evolution of instant global communication will be great for humanity, but I worry about the bumps in the road along the way.

Edited to add: I like this video, too, by the same guy. It also points out the danger of muting science in favor of religious beliefs. I also love this text from a Despair.com-style poster shown in the movie:

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove and evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree... yeah, makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Godwin's Gays and Mel Brooks

The first several times I saw Mel Brooks' "To Be or Not to Be", I assumed the homosexual being rounded up by the German occupiers and being compelled to wear a pink triangle was just a gay joke. After all, if Jews wore yellow Stars of David, surely gays would wear a pink emblem, ha ha. I was taught history in school—grade, middle, high and college. We covered WWII several times, and nobody ever taught me that any group besides the Jewish were systematically rounded up and taken to concentration camps.

The last time I watched was the first time it occurred to me to do an internet search to see if there might be any truth to the concept. Holy shit, this was real. Gays were compelled to sew pink triangles into their clothing, and about 10,000 - 15,000 gays were sent to concentration camps. Far fewer, of course, than the 6 million Jews murdered in such camps, but how shocked was I that this part of history was simply omitted from my many years of heterogeneous—and apparently exclusively heterosexual—schooling.

Recall the George Carlin bit about bad words and the differences between "fart" and "fuck"? On TV they could say neither word, but there was much talk and action revolving around fucking, while nobody spoke of farts. Television was a fart-free zone. (Clearly this has changed in the past 20 years; I have to suspect Carlin's observations helped this along.) In school I learned all sorts of nasty history about wars, genocide, oppressive rulers, mass murder and rape, and Republicans. But I had no knowledge of the concept of homosexuality until I was 14, and then I was so naive I thought it was a new thing. Okay, so gay people didn't all come from the United Gay Republic on the continent of Gaydia, with their own skin color and religion, but still, this is a group that has been repeatedly identified, singled out and harassed or oppressed by rulers and governments over the years, but there was nothing about it in my schooling. It makes me wonder what else was left out.

It has actually been a while since I've seen To Be or Not to Be, but I was reminded of the internment of gays by a news radio report. A gay man who was sent to a concentration camp and survived has recently decided to tell his story. I guess part of my brain still thinks homosexuality was invented in 1984, because I was surprised to hear him speak of openly gay clubs and an active gay community in his pre-WWII hometown.

It reminded me of our more paranoid reasons for starting this blog anonymously. Sometimes I get to thinking that it's "okay" to be atheist. But the gays' recent and continuing persecution is a good example of what could happen to us, even in America, even in these modern times. Look how many people are trying, and how hard they're trying, to make/keep gay marriage illegal. Seriously what the fuck do you care? From all the fuss you'd think gays and lesbians are trying to pass laws compelling straight Christian families to bring homosexuals into their living rooms to have exhibitionist gay sex in front of their children. No, they just want the same life partner arrangement that heterosexuals have access to.

What do gay marriage opponents fear? Is it dick-in-asshole? But preventing state-recognized marriage doesn't prevent dick-in-asshole, and allowing state-recognized marriage doesn't bring dicks in assholes any closer to you. I can relate to not liking dicks in assholes, because as open-minded and accepting as I am, I just don't want to see dicks in assholes, I don't want my dick in an asshole, I don't want my dick in a man's mouth or hand, and I want nothing to do with another man's dick. I still have lingering homophobia about those things. But I don't give a flying fuck if other mentally well-balanced, responsible adults mutually consensually do with their dicks, assholes, pussies, mouths and hands at the appropriate venues.

I tend to project my phobias onto other people, and I should really stop doing that, especially with people who behave so differently from me. The more I think about it, the more I think it is about control and conformity. They don't subscribe to "live and let live". They want you to conform to their actions, their beliefs, their thoughts, and they'll be damned if you can be nonconformist and not be punished or at least shunned. So yeah, I think people would try to disallow atheist marriage if they could. And I think many Americans would persecute atheists if given the chance.

Hell, maybe they already are, but that part of history was left out of my text books.

I still can't get over that. A group of people systematically identified and interned by German occupation forces in WWII, and after 17 years of schooling and many years of cable TV history shows I had to learn of it from Mel Brooks, who by the way is a brilliant man. I am in awe of how he attacks the Nazis, racism and other general dickishness with such satirical ferocity and makes it entertaining.