Tag Archive | Religion

Religion

Well, it has been quite a while since I talked about religion. But I kinda want to distract myself from certain memories this time of year brings up, and the suicidal thoughts that go along with them.

So, I’m kinda a semi-practicing eclectic pagan now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a non-practicing Discordian and materialist atheist with no belief in any spiritual forces, but I enjoy the ritual. It has it’s uses. It focuses me, and helps  me deal with certain things. And I like the way the turning of the seasons is marked. It feeds me.

Hell, I don’t think this will really make sense to anyone, partially because I’ve kept it pretty vague, but this really isn’t about you anyway.

But I don’t really find community with anyone through religion. All of it still feels so alienating to me.

Anyway, that’s where I am.

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Moral Quandary

Another thing happened tonight at work. A card was going around, to be signed for the parent’s of the girl who died from driving while fucked up. What was the quandary you ask? Well, the card was religious in nature, and said that we’d be keeping them in our prayers. This is fucked up for several reasons. I have no idea if they are religious or not. If they aren’t it’d be a slap in the face. If they are, no problem. Another problem is, it forced me to choose between being honest, and doing something to comfort someone.  It felt very wrong to sign my name to that as an atheist. I could have not signed it, but that would have been selfish. No one should be put in that position.

So, please, if you are going to bring a card around for people to sign for a victim’s family, make it secular in nature. Not everyone is a believer.

 

 

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Hello, my new religious followers. And everyone else.

Welcome. You might have noticed that I’m an atheist. Allow me to clarify some things, so I don’t end up banning you.

I am not Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris, Daniel Dennet, or Alain de Botton. Do not assume that I hold their positions. If you wish to debate them, go bother them, not me. The views of a bunch of white cisgender upper class men have very little relevance to my positions.

So, what exactly do I mean by the term atheist? Well to be more specific, I’m an anti-pistevist, agnostic, atheist.

  • anti-pistevist: against faith. I think that faith is bad methodology, and therefore harmful. 
  • agnostic: I do not know whether or not any god or gods exist. But possibility is not the same thing as probability, and without any evidence for any gods, my best estimate is that the probability of any gods existing, much less your specific god, is very low.
  • atheist: I do not believe in any gods. I do not believe in any gods because I have no evidence for any gods. If you want me to believe in them, you must show me evidence. And no, some philosophical argument is not evidence.

Ok, now that we’ve got that cleared up, I don’t want anyone telling me to prove that no gods exist. That is not my position.

Now, even if you do prove that a god exists, you still have to prove that it is your god that exists. If you somehow manage to accomplish that, it still does not mean that I will follow or worship that god. In fact, I may just fight your gods if I deem them to be morally unacceptable. I sure won’t worship any gods, and will actively oppose many of them. Any god that lets children starve is not worth my allegiance. Any god not powerful enough to help starving children is not worth my time. Any god that would invent a hell is evil and should be actively fought.

So, that being said, if you are religious, and don’t try to make other people follow the rules of your religion, or don’t discriminate because of it, I don’t particularly care. I think that you are wrong, but I care more about where you stand on other issues.

Most of the time I talk about atheism on this blog, it is because either religious people are doing something harmful, or I am criticizing other atheists. If I bring up homophobia in religion, and your beliefs aren’t homophobic, don’t waste both your time and mine saying that not all religious people are like that. I know that they aren’t. Instead of bringing that up to me, why not try doing something about it. I have repeatedly criticized other atheists for being racist, misogynistic, or transphobic.

If your religious beliefs are heterosexist, monosexist, cissexist, racist, or misogynistic, don’t bother spewing that shit on my blog. I’ll edit your comment for my own amusement, and put you in the spam filter.

Oh, and for the record, I’m pro-choice, and pro sex worker.

Most of what I talk about on this blog is trans stuff, poetry, and feminism, and whatever else I happen to feel like talking about on that particular day.

Oh yeah, and I use foul language, if you can’t handle that, then feel free to go the fuck elsewhere.

Stick around and feel welcome to comment, just remember my comment policy: don’t piss me off, and this blog is my space, not yours.

-Emily

Addressing William’s Immanent God

I am responding to this post, by a person I consider to be a friend, William.

http://ihaveseengod.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/the-debate-on-god-a-pagan-perspective/

William, I’m going to respond to you here on my blog, because I have addressed other concepts of god besides a personal one, and I want this to be shown.

Any argument attempting to prove or disprove the existence of a personal God inherently presents a false dichotomy. God is a subjective concept and therefore cannot be reified, rendering the use of logic insufficient as a means to resolve this argument

If we are talking about existence, then we are talking about something quantifiable. Something is either real, or it is not.  And we disprove personal gods all the time.

  In any case, efforts to actually personify God are, in essence, clear examples of anthropomorphic fallacy.

See, you just made a weak case against any personal gods. But the anthropomorphic fallacy doesn’t apply unless you prove that god is inanimate. So, what does the evidence say about personal gods? There is none in favor of them. So why should we believe in any of them? We shouldn’t. Does that mean that we can universally disprove them? No, we do not have infinite knowledge. But we can disprove specific god claims.

 The ongoing debate between atheists and non-pagan theists is an exercise in futility, a complete and utter waste of time in my opinion. Both sides rely upon argumentum ad ignorantiam, meaning an argument based upon ignorance, a practice which violates the laws of logic. Most atheists would disagree with this assessment as they maintain the burden of proof resides upon the claimant; they purport to make no claim and therefore shift the burden of proof to the theist but this practice is itself a fallacy. By the act of engaging in debate and demanding proof, the vocal atheist is effectively claiming that the theist’s belief is lacking evidence and is therefore false. The non-pagan theist in comparison will always find themselves claiming that God must exist simply because the existence of God hasn’t been successfully proven false.

Actually, we have and do prove specific god claims false.  For instance, the problem of unnecessary suffering with an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god. I can give more. When we ask for proof, we are asking for proof of any claims made. By showing that their arguments do not provide evidence, we are proving those specific arguments false, and returning to the null hypothesis. We have no reason to believe in any gods.

 I do not pretend to understand atheists who challenge any public statement of religious belief with incredulity and generally seem obsessed with the need to castigate those who possess such beliefs. Albert Einstein once characterized such individuals as “slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot bear the music of the spheres.”

I’ll give you three of my reasons.

1. Self-defense. People love to try to convince me that their god exists. They won’t just let me not believe, they feel a duty to save my soul. The only way to silence them is to show them that their arguments are bunk.

2. Beliefs have consequences. Rarely does the belief in gods come without baggage attached, whether it is the Christians discriminating against me for being bisexual, the gender essentialism so common in Dianic Wicca, or the classism in certain forms of hinduism.

3. We have an ethical duty to reason. Without it, we cannot possibly tell the consequences of our actions. Religion is based on claiming something, without showing that it is real. It encourages belief on faith instead of reason. You can have all the faith you want that if someone cuts your hand off, it will grow back, but that does not change reality, no matter how comforting the thought is. If you wish to prove me wrong, I suggest we do an experiment.

If you wish to hold a valid debate on God’s existence you must provide a basic definition for God. As previously inferred atheists and non-pagan theists usually attempt to personify God in their arguments and therefore encounter a logic block before they even begin.

1. look up ignostic atheism.

2. Atheist argue against the claims made. If someone defines god as a person, then we argue against their conception of god, and return to the null hypothesis when their claims fail the burden of proof, or we disprove specific claims.

3. The reason we more often argue against a personal god is because people with this conception are usually the ones causing the most problems.

Contemporary Pagan philosophy posits that God is immanent in the universe and equivalent to all that exists. Our definition by itself provides the proof to our claim

And if you stopped there, we wouldn’t have a problem. At that point the term god is nothing more than a poetic way of describing the universe, but most of the time, pagans don’t stop there, and make additional claims about the nature of god.

We know beyond any possible doubt that God exists and indeed that consciousness itself continues after the death of the physical body although we do not claim to know in what form it continues.

See, another claim about reality. Evidence of this please. The existence of the universe doesn’t show that consciousness continues after death.

 Conscious thought must be energetic for all that exists is fundamentally comprised of energy in one form or another.

Yes, the physical, chemical and electric reactions in the nervous system. How does this show a soul?

One of the basic scientific laws maintains that energy cannot in fact be destroyed, it may only be changed in some way.

Yes. Energy is always being changed from one form to another, most of which escapes as non-usable heat. All of this occurs in the physical realm.

I have said before that in order for religion to be relevant in this modern age, it must mark its beginning where science ends while remaining in agreement with everything science has previously determined to be true.

And you claim that atheists are making an argument from ignorance?

I forgot who said this but:

“First god was on the mountain, then we climbed the mountain, and god was not there. Then god was a god of the sky, then we built airplanes and god was not there. Then god was above the sky, now we have gone into space, and god was not there.”

Yes I realize that this is not your conception of god. But the point remains: every single time we have postulated a god instead of looking at the evidence, when the science improved, the god was shown to be non-existent. Why do you think our current ignorance is any different?

I would like to conclude by returning to the words of Professor Einstein, who believed that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

Our desires do not change reality. If you wish to argue otherwise, allow me to cut off one of your fingers and see if your desire for it to be there will cause it to regrow without any medical intervention.

A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value.

And once again, someone gives religion the credit for something people achieve. Applied empathy and ethics do not equal Religiously enlightened.

It seems to me that what is important is the force of this super-personal content … regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities

Religion is irrelevant to these values. Unless you wish to argue that someone like me who has no religion is incapable of empathy and applying empathy ethically. Religion carries all sorts of beliefs, and most of them are not benevolent. Sexism, homophobia, Transphobia, racism, classism, just to name a few that are prevalent in modern day religions. And yes, I know you will just say that these people are not religiously enlightened. But if the modern religions propagate this filth along with what you consider benevolent values, how can you ignore that it is part of the religion?

Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation

You want a rational foundation? How about, “What kind of world do I want to live in?” Work outwards from there.

For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.

Yes, but science is not the only tool. Logic. Reason. Empathy. All are needed.

So Emily, Why are you an atheist?

Well, because what is real matters. The truth is better than a lie no matter how hard it is to accept.If you believe in something that is false, say for instance that homosexual acts are a sin worthy of torture, then in order for you to act morally based on that belief, you have to convince gay and bisexual people not to act on their attractions, which does a real harm in the real world. But since their is no evidence that homosexual acts are a sin, then you are doing a real harm that has consequences in this world without reducing any other harm. So why atheism? Because there is no evidence for any god or gods. If there is no evidence, why should we believe? We shouldn’t. Empiricism is the only reliable way to know what exists outside of a mental construct. And our desires have no bearing on reality except how they influence our actions.

But atheism alone is not enough. It is just one right answer. Having that answer has consequences though. If their is no god to help us, then we must help each other. No one is going to make the world a better place just by wishing, praying, or hoping. We must take action.

If you don’t have empathy, then nothing I say will make you want to make the world a better place. An atheist without empathy is useless to me. If you don’t use reason, evidence, and logic to justify your positions, then how is that different from religious faith?

So atheism alone is not enough, we also need skepticism, empathy, reason, logic, and evidence.

So you people who read my blog, why do you believe what you believe? This question is open to people of all religions and none.

At times, atheism can be very comforting.

This is something no one seems to talk about. The positive emotional effects of being an atheist. I wonder why.

I was driving home from a “friend’s” house, when I started crying thinking about, “why? Why do I have to be this way? Why can’t I just be normal? Why do I have to deal with this shit?” Then I remembered something. I am the way that I am because of natural variation in the species, and I just happened to get the short straw in life. See, there is an explanation for why I’m trans*. No god did this to me, it’s just a natural part of life.  I don’t have to beg and plead to a supernatural entity with the false hope of changing, I can just deal with the cards on the table, make a plan, and get on with life. It was very calming. Reality has that effect.

I no longer have to fear hell, or the wrath of an unjust god. Any pain, any misery this life brings me will eventually pass, so why not try to be happy? It too, will eventually pass, so I might as well make the most out of this one life that I do have.

Religion, on the other hand, never gave me comfort. When I was young, I had a pretty severe anger problem. Prayer never helped with it. In fact, prayer made it worse. Only after being taught a secular version of meditation was I able to get control over my anger. Belief in god never brought me comfort. God was judge, jury, and executioner, and no one could ever live up to his standards. I crushed my sense of self, I crushed my attraction to guys, and never had a chance of being happy because I was a true believer in Catholicism. Prayer never calmed me. I was taught that god helps those who help themselves, so I never had any hope that God would do anything for me, but that I was still supposed to rely on him anyway. Religion fucked me right up. Even after I left Catholicism, even after I left christianity all together, none of the religions I tried out ever brought me comfort. Because I was relying on something that was never there for me. Once you realise that there is nothing to rely on, the universe makes sense, and you can just get on with your life. And you don’t have to worry about all the stupid arbitrary rules.

I think the reason most atheists don’t talk about this is that they don’t want to try to sway religious people into deconverting for emotional reasons. They want people to deconvert because of a rational argument. Well, I’m not trying to deconvert anyone here. I just think that the emotional side effects of the atheist world view need to be talked about. We shouldn’t let the religious dominate this dialogue, too. To my atheist readers, what have been the positive emotional effects that you have had since becoming an atheist?

If you believe in an omnipotent god, this post will piss you off.

I don’t believe in any gods, and I won’t believe in any gods until credible evidence is provided.

For the sake of argument let us propose that an omnipotent god exists.

Fuck your omnipotent god.
Now, even wearing guy clothes causes me dysphoria. The moment I put them on, I lose all sense of happiness. I feel wrong. It’s like carrying a weight around. I hate it.  Why the fuck would your sick, evil, fucking god make me this way? For the Laughs? Ha Ha, there goes Emily, walking around in a male body. Let’s give her a girl’s mind. Well fuck you, too, mother fucker.

Your god is either an incompetent lack wit, or an evil fucking monster.

Even if you do prove that an omnipotent god exists, I will never, ever, worship that mother fucker.

Let’s talk a little about atheism.

Atheism: lack of belief in any god or gods.

Note, That does not deny the possibility of any gods. It does not say that definitively gods do not exist. It means that I do not believe you when you say that gods exist because you have failed to provide credible evidence for them. You say specific gods exist, I say, “Bullshit, prove it.” Atheism is the null hypothesis. Without evidence, I have no reason to believe that any gods exist, and I have no clue why anyone who has ever questioned their beliefs would ever believe in something without evidence. As for faith, I have seen faith defined multiple ways.

1. Faith: belief without, or contradictory to, evidence. This is the most common way I define faith, and unless I state otherwise this is the definition I am using. I do not have faith. I think that faith is inherently harmful. I will expand this into a full post at some time in the future.

2. Faith: Trust in someone or something. How do you trust something that may not be, and by my estimation, probably isn’t, there? Isn’t that trusting something that you know is unreliable? If something or someone is unreliable, what is the point of trusting them? Why would you trust them? Isn’t that the definition of gullibility?

I don’t even like the second definition of faith. I don’t have faith in people at all. I have evidence that they consistently behave in a certain manner so I can estimate a probability of any likely action that they may take, which will either be confirmed or denied, which will then give me a better estimate for the next time a  similar situation arrises.

I am an atheist because I remain unconvinced of any credible evidence for any gods, much less any specific gods you happen to believe in.

 

Pretty soon I’ll probably start work on a definitions page. I’ll be staying off the internet for the next few days, so if your comment gets stuck in moderation, I apologize in advance.

Movements

So, I’ve been thinking about movements a lot recently. Natalie Reed basically told the atheist movement that she wanted no part of it anymore. http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/08/10/all-in/ Then there is the whole atheism+ movement that is gaining traction, which people are divided over. Depending on who you listen to, it will either be the downfall or savior of the atheist movement. Then there is the social justice movement which uses bullying tactics and threats, like the ones towards Laci Green, http://lacigreen.tumblr.com/post/26843554247/hey-peeps-i-am-going-to-be-taking-a-break-from, not to mention call out culture in general.

I’m just going to say this. Fuck Movements. I want no part of them. I hold my positions based on the evidence I have at the time. If new evidence is presented to me, I will change my position. Movements actively discourage that. Also belonging to a movement means that you will have to stand shoulder to shoulder with assholes, just because you share a single value, and I will not compromise my integrity to advance a single position. I will work towards advancing causes I believe in. But I want no part in any organization or group that holds positions that they are intractable on and have to stand back to back with assholes. I had enough of that when I was a Catholic.

Let me make this very clear. I support separation of church and state. I support secularism. I think that the world would be better off without religion. I believe in the equality of all people and that we should work towards that goal. I think that A+ is a good direction in which to go (tentatively) for the atheist movement.  [Edit: Looks like A+ didn’t work out so well in practice.] But I will not join any groups.

I am an atheist because I see no credible evidence for any god or gods. I am a secularist because no religion or atheist group should have control over the practices of anyone else. I am a feminist because I believe in the equality of all genders. I believe in fighting racism because I believe in the equality of people regardless of their skin color, national origin, or ethnic background. I think that everyone deserves access to healthcare and education regardless of class or income. I have seen evidence that leads me to believe that all these positions are justified, and will likely improve the quality of life for everyone, No matter what their income, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic background, cis or trans* status is. I believe that it is the right thing to do to fight for equality and truth, even if that does not improve the quality of life for everyone. But I am willing to argue these positions based on their merits. My ideals are empathy and evidence. If your movement lacks either of those things, leave it.