Friday, October 31, 2008

How to Deal with Fundamentalists

If your goal is to simply counter them and let them know there are happy, informed nonbelievers in the world, then that is easy. Just be yourself, say what you think, and don’t worry if they change their minds. Be relaxed about it. You are not the one with the problem and you can’t solve everyone else’s problems. If you try too hard to change their mind, it can make you look uneasy, like you are “protesting too much,” which they most certainly will take as a sign of insecurity. It can also validate their “war” (as the hymn says, “Onward, Christian Soldiers”), hardening their resolve.

If your goal, however, is to convert them, then you have a lot of work to do. Well, actually, we can’t “convert” anyone. We all have to come to our own conclusions. If you were raised religious, like me, you know that your de-conversion came from inside, not from an atheist evangelist. But still, some of us atheists and agnostics do feel a need, or responsibility, to champion reason, science, and kindness, and would like to improve the world by persuading others to abandon superstition and dogma.

Dan Barker

Taken from this article.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the Week

Agnostics are just atheists without balls.

Stephen Colbert

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why I Don't Believe In God

My journey to atheism began as I studied science. I gradually traveled from young earth creationism to old earth creationism to theistic evolution to atheistic evolution. Evolution elegantly refuted my belief that design required a designer. I also realized the probability of an “infinitely complex” God was inherently more improbable than any other cosmological solution, because something infinitely complex is infinitely improbable.

I studied the history of the Bible. Eventually I acknowledged its messy history, contradictions, horrors and absurdities. It had no more evidence of being from God than any other holy book. Without blind belief in the Bible, there was no evidence for the supernatural claims of Christianity. Furthermore, I realized that miraculous claims were always based on anecdote. There was never any evidence, only tall tales.

Long ago, man, in his ignorance, created gods to make sense of the world. Then, when that failed, man created science. Science has been the most successful way of discovering truth ever invented. For example, we no longer have to pray for the sick or exorcise demons - we heal with medicine. Science has, in every way, proven far more effective than religion.

God is no longer necessary, and I say good riddance.

Daniel Florien

Daniel is an ex-evangelical Christian who now runs one of the top atheist blogs Unreasonable Faith.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Atheist Bus Campaign

You may have heard about an advertising campaign intending to put atheist slogans on buses in the UK. The scheme started today, and is funded by donations to the British Humanist Association. The organizers had hoped to raise £5,500 to pay for the adverts. At the time of writing the total money raised stands at a whopping £49,700. It's great that so many people are showing their support for this. The slogan that will appear on the buses is:

There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

I think they can come up with something better than this (perhaps one of the many atheist quotes found here and elsewhere would do), but it's a start, and should get people talking at least. In the words of Richard Dawkins:

This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think – and thinking is anathema to religion.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quote of the Week

Monism - too much emphasis cannot be placed upon this truth - admits of no breaks, allows for no interference, no guidance, no special providence. From star mist to planet, on through protoplasm to man, it asserts the existence of an unbroken sequence. If there are any gaps, they are in our knowledge, not in the things themselves.

Chapman Cohen

Thanks to Josh Stein for suggesting this quote.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Do Believers Really Believe?

All Christians fail to act on their avowed beliefs. Suppose you believed that Heaven exists and that only some of us will qualify to live in it for ever, as the vast majority of Christians claim to. How would this affect your behaviour?

It would depend on what you thought were the admission criteria for Heaven. But whatever you took these virtues to be, they would utterly dominate your life. When everlasting bliss is on offer, nothing else matters at all. People who believed in Heaven would surely act quite unlike those who do not.

Yet the expected behavioural difference is not to be observed. The vast majority of Christians display a remarkably blasé attitude toward their approaching day of judgment, leading lives almost indistinguishable from those of us open non-believers. Put simply, they fail the behavioural test for belief.

Jamie Whyte

An excerpt from this article.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


This movie has been out for a few days now and reviews are mostly positive. I'm hopefully going to see it later this week, and maybe I'll post a mini-review. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer by clicking on the poster on the right, and here are the creators Bill Maher and Larry Charles talking about the film:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quote of the Week

Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses.

Sigmund Freud

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bertrand Russell's Wisdom III: Christ's Moral Character

There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching -- an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation.

Bertrand Russell

From his article Why I Am Not A Christian.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Does The Bible Tell Us?

Look at the bible as a pastiche, a collection of mutually and often internally inconsistent fragments slapped together for crude reasons of politics and art and priestly self-promotion and sometimes beauty and a lot of chest-thumping tribalism, and through that lens, it makes a lot of sense. It does tell us something important…about us, not some fantastic mythological being. It tells us that we are fractious, arrogant, scrappy people who sometimes accomplish great things and more often cause grief and pain to one another. We want to be special in a universe that is uncaring and cold, and in which the nature of our existence is a transient flicker, so we invent these strange stories of grand beginnings, like every orphan dreaming that they are the children of kings who will one day ride up on a white horse and take them away to a beautiful palace and a rich and healthy family that will love them forever. We are not princes of the earth, we are the descendants of worms, and any nobility must be earned.

PZ Myers

From his Pharyngula post Theology is a Deceitful Strategy.