March 13, 2010

One Nation, Under God...


…But which one???

The 9th District Court of Appeals has ruled that “Under God” and “In God we Trust” do NOT constitute religious language.

On “Under God”:

“…the pledge is an endorsement of our form of government, not of religion or any particular sect.”

(Huh?)

On “In God We Trust”:

“The language is patriotic and ceremonial, not religious…”

(Erm…)

I figured we could have some fun with this. What god do they mean? There are thousands of gods in human history, and thousands more just waiting to be “made up”.

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue, America is now *officially* “under the god” of your choice!

October 29, 2009

Nontheistic Philosophies

ATHEISM & NONRELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHIES: DEFINITIONS

(Courtesy of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University)

The following quotations were collected as a resource to help define some of the terms that are commonly used to describe non-religious peoples, organizations, and movements. The terms include: agnosticism, atheism, brights, freethinkers, humanism, naturalism, rationalism, skepticism, and universism.

Agnosticism:

"Agnosticism is the position of believing that knowledge of the existence or non-existence of God is impossible. It is often put forth as a middle ground between theism and atheism. Understood this way, agnosticism is skepticism regarding all things theological. The agnostic holds that human knowledge is limited to the natural world, that the mind is incapable of knowledge of the supernatural. Understood this way, an agnostic could also be a theist or an atheist. The former is called a fideist, one who believes in God purely on faith. The latter is sometimes accused by theists of having faith in the non-existence of God, but the accusation is absurd and the expression meaningless. The agnostic atheist simply finds no compelling reason to believe in God." - Skeptic's Dictionary

"Agnosticism may simply be the state of not knowing whether any gods exist or not, but people can take this position for different reasons and apply it in different ways. These differences then create variations in the ways in which one can be an agnostic. It is thus possible to separate agnostics in two groups, labeled strong agnosticism and weak agnosticism as analogs to strong atheism and weak atheism. If someone is a weak agnostic, they state only that they do not know if any gods exist or not. The possibility of some theoretical god or some specific god existing is not excluded. The possibility of someone else knowing for sure if some god exists or not is also not excluded. This is a very simple and general position and it is what people often think of when they think of agnosticism. Strong agnosticism goes just a bit further. If someone is a strong agnostic, they don't merely claim that they don't know if any gods exist; instead, they also claim that no one can or does know if any gods exist. Whereas weak agnosticism is a position that only describes the state of knowledge of one person, strong agnosticism makes a statement about knowledge and reality themselves." - Austin Cline, About.com

Atheism:

"The term atheism comes from the Greek word atheos, meaning godless. Atheos is derived from a, meaning "without," and theos, meaning "deity"." - The Atheist Empire

"An Atheist has no religious belief. An Atheist does not believe in a god or gods, or other supernatural entities...We are not a "religion." The concept of an agency outside of nature with the ability to reach into natural law and control events is supernaturalism, the foundation of any religion. Belief in the existence of that agency is based on faith. An Atheist has no specific belief system. We accept only that which is scientifically verifiable. Since god concepts are unverifiable, we do not accept them. " - American Atheists

"Atheism is commonly divided into two types: strong atheism and weak atheism. Although only two categories, this distinction manages to reflect the broad diversity which exists among atheists when it comes to their positions on the existence of gods. Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods. A weak atheist is someone who lacks theism and who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods - no more, no less. This is also sometimes called agnostic atheism because most people who self-consciously lack belief in gods tend to do so for agnostic reasons. Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all. Strong atheism is sometimes called "gnostic atheism" because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it - that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist." - Atheism.com

Brights:

"The defining attribute of the person (a Bright)...is this: possessing a worldview that is naturalistic..."Brights" include the many and various types of persons whose perspective, values, ethics, and conduct derive from a naturalistic worldview, free of any supernatural sorts of entities or forces. While they differ in the particulars of their outlook, they have this commonality...The simple noun term, "bright" has the potential to gather under the same umbrella all persons who hold a naturalistic worldview, whether or not they see themselves part of any of the various organizations in the communities of reason." - The Brights' Net

Freethinkers:

"free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief.
Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth." - Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

"The concept of freethought refers to the process of making decisions and arriving at beliefs without relying solely upon tradition, dogma, or the opinions of authorities. Usually the context of this is only in religion, although a person can be a freethinker in other areas as well. In place of tradition or dogma, freethinkers insist upon using reason, logic, and evidence as the bases for forming reasonable and justified beliefs. Superstition is rejected in favor of science. Most freethinkers are also atheists, although that is not required. It is possible to be an atheist without also being a freethinker, or to be a freethinker without also being an atheist." - Austin Cline, Glossary of Religion & Philosophy at About.com

Humanism:

"As Kurt Vonnegut succinctly described: being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead. Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity." - American Humanist Association

"Humanism is a philosophy of life inspired by humanity and guided by reason. Humanists think that science and reason provide the best basis for understanding the world around us. Humanists believe that moral values are properly founded on human empathy and scientific understanding. Humanists see no convincing evidence for gods, the supernatural, or life after death. Humanists believe we must live this life on the basis that it is the only life we'll have -- that, therefore, we must make the most of it for ourselves, each other, and our world. Humanist philosophies have arisen separately in many different cultures over many thousands of years. Today, even though most have never assigned a label to their most cherished ideas about life, knowledge, ethics, purpose, and the universe, a significant portion of society shares this non-religious approach to life. Whether or not they use the term humanism, tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people around the world agree with the humanist philosophy of living a happy and productive life based on reason and compassion." - Institute for Humanist Studies

"Secular Humanism is a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life. Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation." - Council for Secular Humanism

Naturalism:

"Naturalism is a metaphysical theory which holds that all phenomena can be explained mechanistically in terms of natural (as opposed to supernatural) causes and laws. Naturalism posits that the universe is a vast machine or organism, devoid of general purpose and indifferent to human needs and desires...naturalism neither denies nor affirms the existence of God, either as transcendent or immanent. However, naturalism makes God an unnecessary hypothesis and essentially superfluous to scientific investigation. Reference to moral or divine purposes has no place in scientific explanations. On the other hand, the scope of science is limited to explanation of empirical phenomena without reference to forces, powers, influences, etc., which are supernatural." - The Skeptic's Dictionary

"The hypothesis that the physical universe is a 'closed system' in the sense that nothing is neither a part nor a product of it can affect it. So naturalism entails the nonexistence of all supernatural beings, including the theistic god." - Paul Draper, as posted on The Secular Web

"Naturalistic - not only do we hold that evidence for the supernatural has not been convincingly demonstrated, but that belief in the supernatural has lead to a great deal of misery for humanity and needs to be rejected and replaced with critical inquiry, accountability, and science." - Secular Student Alliance

Rationalism:

"Rationalism: The mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a system of philosophy and ethics verifiable by experience, independent of all arbitrary assumptions or authority." - American Rationalist

The doctrine of rationalism holds that the source of knowledge is reason and logic. This is usually contrasted with the idea that faith, revelation and religion are also valid sources of knowledge and verification. - Austin Cline, Glossary of Religion & Philosophy at About.com

Skepticism:

"Skepticism has a long historical tradition dating back to ancient Greece when Socrates observed: "All I know is that I know nothing." But this is not a practical position to take. Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, that involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions. Some claims, such as water dowsing, ESP, and creationism, have been tested (and failed the tests) often enough that we can provisionally conclude that they are false. Other claims, such as hypnosis and chaos theory, have been tested but results are inconclusive so we must continue formulating and testing hypotheses and theories until we can reach a provisional conclusion. The key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between "know nothing" skepticism and "anything goes" credulity." - Michael Shermer, as posted by the Skeptic Society

"Philosophical Skepticism is a critical attitude which systematically questions the notion that absolute knowledge and certainty are possible, either in general or in particular fields. Philosophical Skepticism is opposed to philosophical dogmatism, which maintains that a certain set of positive statements are authoritative, absolutely certain and true. Philosophical Skepticism should be distinguished from ordinary skepticism, where doubts are raised against certain beliefs or types of beliefs because the evidence for the particular belief or type of belief is weak or lacking. Ordinary skeptics are not credulous or gullible. They don't take things on trust, but must see the evidence before believing. Ordinary skeptics doubt the miraculous claims of religions, the claims of alien abductions, the claims of psychoanalysis, etc. But they do not necessarily doubt that certainty or knowledge is possible. Nor do they doubt these things because of systematic arguments that undermine all knowledge claims." - Skeptic's Dictionary

Universism:

"Universism is the world's first rational religion...We celebrate faith in reason, inspiration in nature, and hope in progress...A Universist is an individual who applies personal reason and experience to the fundamental questions of human existence, derives inspiration from the natural uncertainty of the human state, and denies the validity of revelation, faith and dogma." - United Universists

All contents copyright © 1997–2009President and Fellows of Harvard College and Diana Eck. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

Scaring Atheists


October 27, 2009

The Origin of Life: Abiogenesis



(courtesy of YouTube's cdk007)

October 25, 2009

Edward Current- "The PrayerMax 5000"



Professional smart-aleck Edward Current markets a "prayer amplifier"... too funny!

May 3, 2009

What About "Little George and the Cherry Tree"?

From The Library of Congress:

Here is the last paragraph of General George Washington's Circular Letter of Farewell to the Army, June 8, 1783:

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

This paragraph has been hijacked by the religious right, who have turned it into the phony "Washington's Prayer"... they have put some phrases of their own into Washington's mouth, therefore corrupting the very words of "the father of our country".

Here is the false "Washington's Prayer" version, which Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) repeated on the U.S. House floor last week. Bachmann's phony prayer recital was part of a speech bashing President Obama for his recent statement: "...we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.":

"Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally, that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.''

In her House floor speech, the bumbling Ms. Bachmann also stated that the above words were part of George Washington's Inaugural Address (hey, wait... George Washington was not inaugurated as America's 1st President until April 30, 1789!!!)

Such are the ways of "the Liars for Jesus". Didn't Rep. Michelle Bachmann ever hear the one about little George and the cherry tree?

Read more & watch the painful video here.

Mark T.

March 11, 2009

"Rise of the Godless"



Here is a brief but wonderful video, courtesy of the National Journal Online.

It was released several days before the recent American Religious Identification Survey—conducted by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College.

February 4, 2009

10 Reasons to NOT Have a Religion

The following was written by entreprenuer & self-help author Steve Pavlina. Steve is the author of Personal Development for Smart People (2008).

10 REASONS YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE A RELIGION

While consciously pursuing your spiritual development is commendable, joining an established religion such as Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism is one of the worst ways to go about it. In this article I’ll share 10 reasons why you must eventually abandon the baggage of organized religion if you wish to pursue conscious living in earnest.

Since Christianity is currently the world’s most popular religion, I’ll slant this article towards Christianity’s ubiquitous failings. However, you’ll find that most of these points apply equally well to other major religions (yes, even Buddhism).

1. Spirituality for dummies.

If you have the awareness level of a snail, and your thinking is mired in shame and guilt (with perhaps a twist of drug abuse or suicidal thinking), then subscribing to a religion can help you climb to a higher level of awareness. Your mindset, however, still remains incredibly dysfunctional; you’ve merely swapped one form of erroneous thinking for another.

For reasonably intelligent people who aren’t suffering from major issues with low self-esteem, religion is ridiculously consciousness-lowering. While some religious beliefs can be empowering, on the whole the decision to formally participate in a religion will merely burden your mind with a hefty load of false notions.

When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes on your continued conscious development. Religion is the off-switch of the human mind.

Leave the mythology behind, and learn to think for yourself. Your intellect is a better instrument of spiritual growth than any religious teachings.

2. Loss of spiritual depth perception.

One of the worst mistakes you can make in life is to attach your identity to any particular religion or philosophy, such as by saying “I am a Christian” or “I am a Buddhist.” This forces your mind into a fixed perspective, robbing you of spiritual depth perception and savagely curtailing your ability to perceive reality accurately. If that sounds like a good idea to you, you’ll probably want to gouge out one of your eyeballs too. Surely you’ll be better off with a single, fixed perspective instead of having to consider two separate image streams… unless of course you’ve become attached to stereo vision.

Religious “truths” are inherently rooted in a fixed perspective, but real truth is perspective-independent. When you substitute religious teachings for truth, you mistake shadows for light sources. Consequently, you doom yourself to stumble around in the dark, utterly confused. Clarity remains forever elusive, and the best answer you get is that life is one giant mystery. Religious mysteries, however, arise not from what is truly unknowable; they arise from the limitations of trying to understand reality from a fixed frame of reference.

A more intelligent approach is to consider reality through a variety of different perspectives without trying to force your perceptions into an artificial religious framework. If you wish to learn more about this approach, read Spiritual Depth Perception.

3. Engineered obedience training.

Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as such, but this is essentially how they operate.

Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. They’re among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Of course these instruments are usually controlled by those who administrate the minion training program, but they don’t have to be. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is submission.

Religions strive to fill your head with so much nonsense that your only recourse is to bow your head in submission, often quite literally. Get used to spending a lot of time on your knees because acts of submission such as bowing and kneeling are frequently incorporated into religious practice. Canine obedience training uses similar tactics. Now say, “Yes, Master.”

Have you ever wondered why religious teachings are invariably mysterious, confusing, and internally incongruent? This is no accident by the way — it’s quite intentional.

By putting forth confusing and internally conflicting information, your logical mind (i.e. your neocortex) is overwhelmed. You try in vain to integrate such contradictory beliefs, but it can’t be done. The net effect is that your logical mind disengages because it can’t find a pattern of core truth beneath all the nonsense, so without the help of your neocortex, you devolve to a more primitive (i.e. limbic) mode of thinking. You’re taught that this faith-based approach is a more spiritual and conscious way to live, but in reality it’s precisely the opposite. Getting you to distrust your own cerebral cortex actually makes you dumber and easier to manipulate and control. Karl Marx was right when he said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”

For example, the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible frequently contradict each other with various rules of conduct, yet both are quoted during mass. Church leaders also behave in direct violation of the Church’s teachings, such as by covering up criminal and immoral activities by their own priests. Those who try to mentally process such glaring contradictions as coherent truth invariably suffer for it. A highly conscious person would reject membership in such an organization as patently ridiculous. So-called divine mysteries are engineered to be incomprehensible. You aren’t meant to ever make sense of them since that would defeat the whole purpose. When you finally wake up and realize it’s all B.S., you’ve taken the first step towards freedom from this oppressive system.

The truth is that so-called religious authorities don’t know any more about spirituality than you do. However, they know how to manipulate your fear and uncertainty for their own benefit. How nice of you to let them.

Although the most popular religions are very old, L. Ron Hubbard proved the process can be replicated from scratch in modern times. As long as there are large numbers of people who fear the responsibility of their own power, religions will continue to dominate the landscape of human development.

If you want to talk to God, then communicate directly instead of using third-party intermediaries. Surely God has no need of an interpreter. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a mindless minion. It’s a mistake to think that turning off your neocortex and practicing mindless “faith” will bring you closer to God. In truth it will only bring you closer to dog.

4. Toilet-bowl time management.

If you devote serious time to the practice of religion, it’s safe to say you practice toilet-bowl time management, flushing much of your precious life down the drain with little or nothing to show for it.

First, you’ll waste a lot of time filling your head with useless nonsense. This includes reading some of the worst fiction ever written. Then there are various rules, laws, and practices to learn.

Seriously, if you have insomnia, try reading religious texts before bedtime. You’ll be asleep faster than you can say Methuselah. Why do you think hotels put Bibles next to the bed? It’s the greatest sedative known to man. I have to give props to the Scientologists for at least incorporating space aliens into their stories. It’s a shame Gene Roddenberry didn’t formally invent his own religion; Stovokor sounds like a lot of fun.

Once you finally realize your head has been filled with utter nonsense, you must then purge such garbage from your mind if you want your brain to be functional again. That can take considerably longer, assuming you succeed at all. It’s like trying to uninstall AOL from your hard drive.

Next, you can expect to waste even more time on repetitive ritual and ceremony, such as attending mass, learning prayers, and practicing unproductive meditations.

If I add up the time I attended mass and Sunday school, studied religion in school as if it were a serious subject, and memorized various prayers, I count thousands of hours of my life I’d love to have back. I did, however, learn some important lessons, many of which are being shared in this article.

I especially remember listening to a lot of bad sermons; most priests are hideously poor speakers. Maybe it’s because they drink alcohol while on duty.

Now if you really go overboard and throw in learning a dead language for good measure, you can kiss years of your life goodbye.

The more time you devote to religious practice, the more you waste your life on pointless, dead-end pursuits… and the more you’ll want to delude yourself with a phony “Hehe, I meant to do that” attitude.

5. Support your local pedophile.

In addition to being a serious waste of time, religious practice can also be a huge waste of money.

For starters... when you donate to a major religion, you support its expansion, which means you’re facilitating the enslavement of your fellow humans. That isn’t very nice, now is it? If you feel the urge to donate money, give it to a real and honorable cause, not a fabricated one. Better yet, go outside and do something that really helps people. If you can’t think of anything better, grab a can of paint and clean up some local graffiti.

Your religious donations fund freeloaders who mooch off society but who generally provide little or no value in return. Sure there are some religious people who perform valuable public services, but for the most part, that isn’t their bailiwick. These freeloaders typically operate tax-free, meaning they’re effectively subsidized by taxpayers. That’s a great racket if you’re on the receiving side… not so great if you’re funding it though.

Religions offer a suite of special services to generate additional income. They’ll spout some gibberish while feeding you a crusty wafer, pronounce you bonded to a fellow human being, snip some of your excess skin, pour water on your head, proclaim your manhood, cast out your demons, pronounce your transgressions forgiven, and so on. When they can’t think of anything else, they make up some drivel like confirming you’re still loyal to them. The bill may read “suggested donation,” but it’s still a bill.

When you donate money to a religious organization, you’re doing much worse than throwing your money away. You’re actively funding evil. If you think that spending a billion dollars to defend pedophiles and rapists is a good use of your hard-earned cash, perhaps you should run for Pope. You could hardly do worse. At least Wall Street is honest about its greed and lust.

One of my Catholic high school teachers was later revealed to be a repeat child molester… written up in the newspaper and everything. I didn’t see any suspicious behavior at the time, and to be totally honest, I actually liked that teacher and was shocked to learn of his extracurricular activities. He was shuffled from one location to another by those who knew about his appetite for young flesh. I’m glad I wasn’t on the menu, but I feel sad for those who were. Methinks God should raise his standards… just a tad.

Why aren’t Catholic priests allowed to marry? This has nothing to do with what’s written in the Bible or with any benefits of celibacy. This rule was invented by the Church to prevent their priests from producing heirs. When the priests died, their property would go back to the Church, thereby enriching the rich even more. Apparently God needed more cash. It was a very effective policy, as the Church is now among the richest and most powerful organizations on earth. It’s hard to fail when you have a loyal force of lifetime indentured servants who work cheaply and then yield their life savings to you when they die.

Lay religious people (i.e. non-clergy), on the other hand, are encouraged to have lots of babies because that means more people are born into the religion, which means more money and a bigger power base. Condoms are a big no-no; they’re bad for business. Marriage is a big yes; it means more brainwashed babies will be made.

Would you seriously consider this sort of structure a “good cause” worthy of your hard-earned cash?

I have got to get me one of these…

6. Incest is best.

Religions frequently promote inbred social networks. You’re encouraged to spend more time with people who share the same belief system while disengaging from those with incompatible beliefs. Sometimes this is done subtly; other times it’s more obvious.

If you’re one of the saved, blessed, or otherwise enlightened individuals who stumbled upon the one true belief system, then supposedly everyone else remains in the dark. Certain religions are overtly intolerant of outsiders, but to one degree or another, all major religions cast non-subscribers in a negative light. This helps to discourage members from abandoning the religion while still enabling them to proselytize. The main idea is to maintain social structures that reward loyalty and punish freedom of thought.

This us-vs-them prejudice is totally incongruent with conscious living. It’s also downright moronic from a global perspective. But it remains a favored practice of those who pull the strings. When you’re taught to distrust other human beings, fear gets a foothold in your consciousness, and you become much easier to control.

When you join a religion, your fellow mind-slaves will help to keep you in line, socially rewarding your continued obedience while punishing your disloyalty. Why do they do this? It’s what they’ve been conditioned to do. Tell your religious friends that you’re abandoning their religion because you want to think for yourself for a while, and watch the sparks fly. Suddenly you’ve gone from best friend to evil demon. There’s no greater threat to religious people than to profess your desire to think for yourself.

There are better ways to enjoy a sense of community than joining a slavery club. Try making friends with conscious, free-thinking people for a change — people who are willing to connect with you regardless of how silly your beliefs are. You may find it intimidating at first, but it’s quite refreshing once you get used to it.

Since I get asked this question all the time, I might as well answer it publicly. Do I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior? No more than I’d accept a credit card from Crapital One. Either way I’d be worried about the fine print. Does this mean we can’t be friends anymore? Please don’t hate me because I’m doomed.

7. Idiocy or hypocrisy - pick one.

When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two options. You can become an idiot, or you can become a hypocrite. If you’ve already chosen the former, I’ll explain why, and I’ll use small words so that you’re sure to understand.

First, there’s the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of the contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth is only 10,000 years old. Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about. Eat your dogma. Good boy!

Congratulations! You’re a (moron) believer. You’ll be saved, enlightened, and greeted with tremendous fanfare when you die… unless of course all the stuff you were taught turns out not to be true. Nah… if the guy in the robe says it’s true, it must be true. Ya gotta have faith, right?

Next, we have the hypocrisy option. In this case your neocortex is strong enough to identify various bits of utter nonsense in the religious teachings that others are trying to ram down your throat. You have a working B.S. detector, but it’s slightly damaged. You’re smart enough to realize that earth is probably a lot older than 10,000 years and that pre-marital (or non-marital) sex is a lot of fun, but some B.S. still gets through. You don’t swallow all the bull, but you still identify yourself as a follower of a particular religion, most likely because you were raised in it and never actually chose it to begin with.

To you it’s just a casual pursuit. You’re certainly not a die-hard fundamentalist, but you figure that if you drink the wine and chew the wafer now and then, it’s good enough to get you a free ride into a half-decent afterlife. You belong to the pro-God club. Surely there’s safety in numbers. Two people people can’t be wrong… although 4-1/2 billion supposedly can.

In this case you become an apologist for your own religion. You don’t want to be identified with the extreme fanatics, nor do you want to be associated with the non-believers. You figure you can straddle both sides. On earth you’ll basically live as a non-practitioner (or a very sloppy and inconsistent practitioner), but when you eventually die, you’ve still got the membership card to show God.

Do you realize how deluded you are?

Perhaps if you have to throw out so much of the nonsense to make your chosen belief system palatable, you shouldn’t be drinking the Kool Aid in the first place. Free yourself from the mental baggage, stop looking to others for permission to live, and start thinking on your own. If your God exists, he’s smart enough to see through your fake ID.

From time to time, some of my readers take a stab at converting me to their religion. Most of them come across as total loons, but I can at least respect their consistency. I’ve no idea why they bother to read my site (which is about raising, not lowering, consciousness). Perhaps some of them are getting ready to convert from fundamentalism to common sense.

You’d think I’d be quite a prize for any serious religion. With 2.4 million monthly readers, that’s a lot of people I could potentially (enslave) convert, not to mention how much I could fill the Church coffers by soliciting (indulgences) donations on their behalf. Henceforth I expect a much better conversion effort. If you won’t do it for the money, then do it for the souls. You can’t let so many of us go to hell without trying in earnest to save us, can you?

Just keep those conversion emails below 10,000 words if possible, with no more than 9,000 of them quoted from your favorite great book.

8. Inherited falsehood.

Please tell me you aren’t still practicing the religion you happened to be born into? Surely you’ve outgrown your baby clothes by now. Isn’t it time you also outgrew your baby religion?

What if you were born into a different culture? Would you have been conscious enough to find your way back to your current belief system? Or are your current beliefs merely a product of your environment and not the result of conscious choice?

Many religions are just a mish-mash of what came before. For example, Christianity is largely based on pagan rituals. If those pagan beliefs and rituals had been protected by copyright, Christianity wouldn’t even exist. If you take the time to dig into the roots of Christianity, you’ll encounter various theories that Christianity’s teachings were largely assembled from pre-Christian myths and that Jesus himself was merely a fictional character pieced together from earlier mythical figures. You go, Horus!

Many religious teachers (i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.) are just brainwashed slaves themselves. They don’t have any real authority and aren’t even aware of the agenda being set by their superiors. This makes them better minions because they actually believe the B.S. they’re spouting and don’t know the truth behind it. A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, but that’s as far as they get. They may interact with the bartender, but they never get to know the guy who owns the bar. They suffer from inherited falsehood just like everyone else.

Is your religion based on the inspired word of God? No more than this article. Just because someone says their text is divinely inspired doesn’t mean it is. Anyone can claim divine inspiration. The top religions are decided by popularity, not by truth.

Even the central figures in major religions didn’t follow the religions that were spawned in their names. If they didn’t swallow the prevailing “wisdom” about gods and spiritual leaders and such, why should you? If you want to be more like the people you worship, then follow their lead by striking out on your own.

Move beyond your baby religion. Consider maturity as a reasonable alternative.

9. Compassion in chains.

Religious rules and laws invariably hamper the development of conscience. This causes all sorts of problems like pointless violence and warfare. Those who preach nonviolence as a rule or law tend to be the most violent of all. Such people cannot be trusted because they’ll violate their proclaimed values with the weakest of excuses.

When you externalize compassion into a set of rules and laws, what you’re left with isn’t compassion at all. True compassion is a matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of force-backed rules and laws.

The more religious a person becomes, the less compassionate s/he is. The illusion of compassion substitutes for the real thing. Religious people tend to be the most bigoted and non-accepting people on earth. They’re the least trustworthy and suffer from the grossest character defects. They pretend they’re doing good, but they’re really collaborators in a system designed to push people into unconscious slavery to a “higher” authority. They are slaves promoting slavery.

Historically speaking, religious people loved to fight each other. Instead of unconditional love, they practice conditional loyalty. The only unconditional aspect is their thirst for blood. If you disagree with them, you’re a target… either for conversion or destruction (both of which are really the same thing).

If you value the ideal of unconditional love, you won’t find it in the practice of religion. Real compassion doesn’t arise from believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the concept of karma. Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. If you’re obedient to your faith, it’s a safe bet that compassion is absent from your life. You probably don’t even know what real compassion feels like.

The more we collectively abandon all religion, the better off this planet will be. This doesn’t mean we have to abandon all spiritual pursuits. It just means we must stop turning spirituality into something it isn’t.

10. Faith is fear.

Religion is the systematic marketing of fear.

Blessed are the poor (donate heavily). Blessed are the meek (obey). Blessed are the humble (don’t question authority). Blessed are the hungry (make us rich until it hurts). Blessed are the merciful (if you catch us doing something wrong, let it go). Blessed are the pure of heart (because your brains are switched off). Blessed are the timid, the cowardly, the fearful. Blessed are those who give us their power and become our slaves. Muahahaha!

That’s the kind of nonsense religion pushes on people. They train you to turn your back on courage, strength, and conscious living. This is stupidity, not divinity.

Religion will teach you to fear being different, to fear standing up for yourself, and to fear being an independent thinker. It will erode your self-trust by explaining why you’re unable to successfully manage life on your own terms: You are unworthy. You’re a sinner. You’re unclean. You belong to a lesser caste. Of course the solution is always the same — submit to the will of an external authority. Give away your power. Live in fear for the rest of your life, and hope it will all turn out okay in the end.

When you practice faith instead of conscious living, you live under a cloak of fear. Eventually that cloak becomes so habitual you forget it’s even there. It’s very sad when you reach the point where you can’t even remember what it feels like to wield creative freedom over your own life, independent of what you’ve been conditioned to believe.

Faith is the coward’s substitute for courage. It’s also really good marketing if you’re the one who controls the faith. If you’re afraid or unwilling to assume total responsibility for your life, you’re a perfect match for religion.

Fear in one part of your life invariably spreads to all other parts — you can’t comparmentalize it. If you find yourself frustrated because you’re too afraid to follow your dreams, to talk to members of the oppposite sex, to speak up for yourself, etc., then a good place to start is to rid your life of all religious nonsense. Don’t let fear get a foothold in your consciousness.

Stop trying to comfort yourself by swallowing religious rubbish. If you really need something to believe in, then believe in your own potential. Put your trust in your own intellect.

Dump the safety-in-numbers silliness. Just because a lot of people believe stupid stuff doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. It just means that stupidity is popular on this planet. When people are in a state of fear, they’ll swallow just about anything to comfort themselves, including the bastion of stupidity known as religion.

***
Religion is spiritual immaturity. That’s a compliment.

It’s entirely possible to enjoy your life without spending so much of it bent over in submission. Pull your head out of your rear, and look around with your own two eyes. If you need something to worship, then feel grateful for your own conscious mind. Pull it out of the cobwebs, and boot it up.

Besides… if some popular religious version of God does exist, there’s a good chance he’s a complete and total idiot. He made us in his image, right? So perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to worship an entity so lacking in intelligence. We’re better off on our own.

God isn’t going to smite you for not formally worshipping him. If he didn’t smite me by now, it’s a safe bet you’ll slide beneath the radar as well. And if that doesn’t work, you can borrow my fake ID. I’ve been baptized and confirmed, and I’m the son of an altar boy and the nephew of a priest, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Praise Hestia!

May 27th, 2008 by Steve Pavlina

December 29, 2008

Atheistic Rights & Responsibilities

Courtesy of iamanatheist.com:

As a moral atheist you have a number of rights and responsibilities. These include (but are not limited to):

1) Have no gods.
2) Don't worship stuff.
3) Be polite.
4) Take a day off once in a while.
5) Be nice to folks.
6) Don't kill people.
7) Don't cheat on your significant other.
8) Don't steal stuff.
9) Don't lie about stuff.
10) Don't be greedy.

Remember, theists may condemn you for living by this code because you are doing it of your own free will instead of because you're afraid that if you don't a supreme being will set you on fire.

Cool! All of the world's Holy Books have been rendered obsolete.

December 23, 2008

Diagoras- the 1st Confirmed Atheist?

The ancient Greek poet/philosopher Diagoras of Melos (5th Century B.C.E.) might be regarded as history's earliest known confirmed Atheist. Historical evidence shows that Diagoras wasn't afraid to speak his mind regarding his atheism.

Though information on Diagoras is somewhat scanty, he was documented by Aristophanes, Cicero, and others. In fact, Diagoras' giving offense to others by rejecting "the Gods" is the one point about him that historians can be certain on. According to Athenagoras, "he made the downright assertion that god does not exist at all."

Diagoras appears to have been very bold, witty, and unapologetic about his lack of belief in deities. From historian Jennifer Michael Hecht:

"The poet Diagoras of Melos was perhaps the most famous atheist of the fifth century. Although he did not write about atheism, anecdotes about his unbelief suggest he was self-confident, almost teasing, and very public. He revealed the secret rituals of the Eleusinian mystery religion to everyone and "thus made them ordinary," that is, he purposefully demystified a cherished secret rite, apparently to provoke his contemporaries into thought. In another famous story, a friend pointed out an expensive display of votive gifts and said, "You think the gods have no care for man? Why, you can see from all these votive pictures here how many people have escaped the fury of storms at sea by praying to the gods who have brought them safe to harbor." To which Diagoras replied, "Yes, indeed, but where are the pictures of all those who suffered shipwreck and perished in the waves?" A good question. Diagoras was indicted for profaning the mysteries, but escaped."

According to the Swedish historian Stefan Stenuud, Diagoras was expelled from Athens in 411 B.C.E. for attacking religion. Stenuud also documents events that may have led to Diagoras' atheism:

"According to Sextus Empiricus, Diagoras became an atheist when an enemy of his perjured himself in court and got away with it. There are some variations in other sources to this anecdote, though not changing its moral content – immorality seems to go unpunished, so how can there be any gods in the sense of watchers over human virtue?"

None of Diagoras' writings seem to have survived, unfortunately for us infidels...

Mark Tiborsky, the Cleveland Freethinkers

Inspirational Quip #3

"The history of religion can be compared to a layer cake... a mountain of layers of stale dogma, interspaced with the congealed blood of its victims, and overlaid with a sweetened opiate to make itself appealing to the gullible."

---Donald Henry Gudehus (U.S. Astronomer/Composer)

December 21, 2008

Inspirational Quip #2

Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing,

"Yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!"

If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it...

--- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

December 20, 2008

Inspirational Quip #1

"I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood."

--- George Carlin