“Classical” Atheism vs. “Contemporary” Atheism

Once again, I find myself dealing with the tiresome issue of the competing definitions of Atheism. See my previous blog entries on this subject for references:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/make-up-your-minds-atheists/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/richard-dawkins-is-an-agnostic/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/is-agnostic-an-obsolete-term/

Now I learn that Aron-Ra, a fellow Texan and activist against promoting Creationist bigotry and lies in public schools, has not only accepted the “contemporary” definition of atheism, he asserts that the “classical” definition of it was a lie all along! Really??? Continue reading

More Idiocy from Answers in Genesis

Opposing Views is a website that generally presents different opinions on various topics and allows its users to debate then freely. So it was a surprise to see the Creationist propaganda mill known as Answers in Genesis publish this rank nonsense for all to see on that site:

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/dear-atheists-bodie-hodge Continue reading

Theocracies by nature are evil

Religions as tools for social cohesion are indeed valid reasons for having them, since people are by nature social beings. However, using any religion that has demonstratively false dogmas as that tool is by nature unethical because you are encouraging people to lie to others about reality. It is even worse when you have a government take that religion and use force to make everyone follow it. All this does is make many people into hypocrites who act a certain way in public while privately doubting or denying the religion. This results in greater corruption. It is no coincidence that the ones who often come across as the most moral and are also deeply religious also turn out to be the most hypocritical. I think the reason for this is because their moral values are simply not based on anything real and things that are not based on reality are themselves not real. If you need to believe in the Bible, the Quran, or some other scripture to believe in God, to be moral or function in a social order, then you are actually a dangerous person because you will resort to all sorts of dishonest arguments, claims and assertions to keep your faith. Likewise, getting a government to enforce your religion on everyone merely makes the government dishonest. We shouldn’t tolerate this any more than we should tolerate mob bosses taking over a government.

Thus, Islamic states like those of Saudi Arabia and Iran are contemptible and should be condemned and opposed at every turn, and the concept of Sharia (Islamic law) should be completely thrown out in all societies. They are simply phony by nature!

Making a case for Universalism

Universalism is the other half of the religious tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. I already dealt with the first half by denying the Trinity as a self-contradicting assertion:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/there-is-no-trinity-period/

It is understandable that some people want to feel like they are better than others or more loved by God than others, but that is an appeal to the human ego that is destructive to human spirituality. There is nothing more vile than the idea that God would condemn anyone to eternal damnation in hell for believing in the “wrong” dogmas. Such extreme punishment could only be justified if there was some empirical way to discover the truth in religion, thus making it beyond dispute. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t even be religion at all; it would be SCIENCE.

In the late 1980s, I was a Christian and I was perfectly sincere about it. Then at the turn of this Century, I was a Baha’i and just as zealous about that. And in both cases, I have turned away from those religions because I found them to be flawed and unworthy of my allegiance, perhaps even completely false, as many do believe. But if I had died at either time, would it have been fair for God to condemn me for following a false religion?

Even if Christianity was the only true religion, the fact that it has been divided into thousands of competing sects, despite the fact that Christians are supposed to believe in one God and one savior, is enough to show that there are no “true” Christians. No matter what position you take, you are part of a minority in the world; Christians only make up about 1/4 of the population of the world. Is it logical to assume that God would condemn the vast majority of the world for not being Christian, especially when there is so much evidence that it is defended by outright fraud?

1900 years ago, Christians and Jews were a tiny minority in the world. In places like India, China, Japan, and the American continents, there was virtually no chance for people living there to hear and accept the teaching of either Bible based religion, while there were religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or the various Pagan religions. Who could blame the people in those lands for following what they knew? It is easy to assume you have the only true faith when you have only that one faith in your community and do not know followers of other religions except through crude stereotypes. Once you get to know those followers as people, those stereotypes tend to break down. Exposure to those people breeds tolerance quite naturally.

Since there is no way to know what truth in religion is, there is no justification for the dogma that God damns anyone for what they believe or disbelieve. That claim is bigotry and thus is evil.

Jesus said even the Torah is not the Word of God

I am neither a Jew nor a Christian, but I find it ironic that many Christians insist that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, considering that Jesus did not teach that and indeed seemed to indicate that fallible MEN made some parts of it.

Matthew 19:3-9

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

   4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

This passage strikes at the very heart of fundamentalist dogma, that the entire Bible from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, was revealed by God and has absolute authority over men. Of course, if you are an Orthodox Jew, you would naturally take offense at anyone overturning a law of the Torah. But often Christian sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses also fall prey to excessive legalism, which Jesus denied! If certain laws in the Torah were made by Moses, not God, why not allow for the possibility that other passages, even in the New Testament, were also made by men for a specific time and people, not by God for all peoples and all times? How can we tell?

We can’t, which is why Biblical authority is a concept we need to discard.

Atheism is a DOGMA! Get over it!

I recently had a long argument with an atheist who not only openly disagreed with all religions, but insisted that all religious people were delusional, stupid, even insane, while totally denying that he was himself promoting an unproven belief of his own.

What is atheism? There appear to be two kinds:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity

b : the doctrine that there is no deity

By the first definition, I am indeed an atheist, but I reject that term for myself because I know that people assume that atheism is about outright denial of God’s existence (the second definition) and nothing else. By contrast, I question God’s existence and do not deny it at all. My position is a neutral one regarding that specific issue.

And that is why Thomas Huxley in the 19th Century coined the term agnostic to describe himself and his beliefs, or lack thereof.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic

1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
Thus by the first definition one can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist, though most people only know of the first kind (because that is consistent with the second definition) . What one cannot be is lumping all people who are religious into the same category of irrationality, delusion, and stupidity and then be nondogmatic at the same time. Not only are you being dogmatic, you are being a BIGOT.
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
And any atheist who does that is no better than someone who is a religious bigot.
Atheists say that the burden of proof should be on the religious person to support the claim that God exists. But producing such proof is exactly what the religious person does when he produces the Bible, the Quran, or some other religious text that is the basis for a God-centered religion. You can say that the proof is insufficent to establish belief in God beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is still a proof. And religion by definition requires faith, not absolute proof. If belief in God could be established beyond a reasonable doubt, it wouldn’t be part of religion. Conversely, atheism also cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt, because there is no way to disprove the existence of God. Atheism is a dogma, not an objective point of view.
When an atheist says that the Bible is no more credible than the Harry Potter books, he is not making an objective statement at all, but giving a subjective opinion. That’s exactly what a DOGMA is!
Does this mean atheism is also a religion? It depends on your definition of religion. I say no, because you don’t need faith to be an athiest or agnostic. Faith involves belief in something that cannot be directly detected. But you do have to make a choice to be an atheist, agnostic, or theist. Belief in the non-existence of God is as much a religion as not playing chess is a form of gaming. But one still makes a choice if one refuses to learn how to play chess.