Point of View

Reading the bible can make more sense if you try to come up with the motives for certain passages. Some of them are fairly obvious. For example, a newly formed church in early Christianity is having difficulty with leadership or with certain followers doing things that others don’t like.

“Well what have we here? We just found this letter that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus. In it he tells Timothy that women are supposed to keep their traps shut in church. Got it? God wants you to shut your piehole.”

The Pastoral Epistles of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus are probably all later Pauline forgeries to further certain agendas within the early church.

I can imagine that admonitions against blends of more than one fabric or growing different crops in adjoining fields in the old testament had more to do with which merchant had influence with the rabbis than a deity’s distaste in fashion choice or shellfish.

“Damn that Zebulun! His new woolen/flax blended fabric is far more popular at the market. No one wants to buy my woolen garments. ‘They’re too itchy,’ they say. Well I’ll show him. My cousin Levi is very powerful in the Synagogue…”

The story of Elijah and the bears is obviously a twisted fantasy penned by a bald rabbi who had issues managing his anger with the kids that teased him. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a number of tragic ‘bear attacks’ near the village of that author.

“The villagers are getting suspicious of all these mutilated kids turning up. Maybe if I start telling a story about God sending bears to maul children that mock God’s favorite follower, they will just assume that a bear killed those kids….”

The entire book of Revelations can be explained as an hallucination brought on by consumption of Amanita muscaria, a magic mushroom common on the island of Patmos.

The entire bible makes so much more sense seen in light of the very human shortcomings of its authors. Maybe that’s why believers fall so short in trying to make it into something mystical.

Posted in Uncategorized

What you call me…

You think that of the millions of species
on this tiny planet
circling one of the billions of stars
in this lone galaxy
hurtling through space in the midst of trillions 
of other galaxies in the known universe
that all of this
every grain of sand
every strand of DNA
every mote of stardust 
the very atoms of existence 
was created just for you.
I realize human life is the culmination
of a chain of events that had no more purpose or 
volition than any other chemical reaction,
events that may have happened anywhere in our vast universe
and may continue to occur 
over and over again.

Yet you call me arrogant.

You close your eyes and plug your ears
to the amazing discoveries of science
clinging to your insect deity as he scrambles 
deeper and deeper
into the dark recesses of ignorance, 
scurrying away from the light of knowledge
to reign over the 
ever dwindling gaps left behind 
by scientific advancement and exploration.
I gaze with wonder at mankind’s ingenuity
I am awestruck at every speck of knowledge we gain,
from the inner workings of our own molecules 
to the very birth of stars.

Yet you call me a blind fool.

You revere a deity whom you say 
sacrificed his own child
a being you claim is perfect
yet needs your constant praise and is jealous of other gods.
A god whose priests abuse the innocent.
You worship a being that you believe has
ordered genocide
condoned slavery
committed infanticide
orders women to be stoned or burned.
You love a deity that hates 
those who are different
those who are female
those who are other. 
I believe that the greatest good 
we can do is alleviate pain and suffering
that the greatest evil 
is one who willfully and uncaringly 
causes that pain.

Yet you call me sinful.

You pray that one day soon
everyone will believe in your god
or be destroyed by him.
You rejoice that 
the unbeliever
the sinner
the slut
the queer
the activist
the atheist
the Muslim
the Buddhist
the Christian
the Hindu
the Jain
the Jew
will burn in eternal torment
for defying your loving God.

I hope that one day soon
people will awake from the delusion.
I will rejoice 
when they leave behind
the dogma
the hatred
the injustice
the disgrace
the repression
the slavery
the ignorance 
the darkness
and step into the light of reason.

 

 

This was a poem I originally did on youtube. You can hear me read it here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Difference Between Racism and Anti-Theism

If you see someone whose dark olive skin tone and clothing suggests that they are from the middle east and you think:

“I wish those damn towel-heads would get the fuck outta my country!”

You are a racist.

If you see someone stop what they are doing (either because of the time of day or a meal is about to start) and start talking to invisible beings, and you think:

“Damn, I wish people would use common sense and reason rather than believe in the superstitious ramblings of bronze-age goat-herders.”

You are an Anti-theist.

Imagine No Religion

The 11th Anniversary of the 9-11 attacks seems like an appropriate time to reflect on John Lennon’s words and imagine what our lives would be like with no religion. Most atheists already know what it means to have no religion, at least on a personal level. But what about society as a whole? Can we dare to envision a world without corrupt, repressive, separatist dogma? I certainly hope so.

What would we be missing if religions vanished tomorrow? Charity? If you currently believe in a god and you donate your time and money to doing good deeds, would you stop those charitable endeavors? Is the only reason that you donate to charity to win points with your god? There are numerous charities that do wonderful work with absolutely no religious affiliation. Youtube atheists are currently involved in their annual fundraising effort for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). These men and women go into some of the worst areas of the world to bring medical help to the poor. They do it without any appeals to a deity. Oxfam is another secular charity that is working to bring food to starving people around the world. Not by praying, but by getting off their butts (or their knees) and working to educate people in poverty stricken regions and help them start sustainable economies.

What about Community? If tomorrow morning everyone woke up and realized that there were no gods and closed up all the churches, would you really have nothing more to do with all the friends you made in church? Do you need a god to tell you to love your neighbor? Do you need a god in order to get together with people in your community and have a barbecue?

What about law and order? Without the fear of hell or the promise of heaven, would you become violent or dangerous? Do you really need threats or bribes to keep you from doing bad things? Or do you know that something is wrong, because you would not like someone to do it to you? Do you feel empathy for your fellow humans? Do you value fairness?

So, without religion we would still have Charity, Community and Lawfulness. What would we lose? There will always be terrible, selfish people that want to hurt others.  But what about good people who are convinced that they must hurt others in order to appease their god? What about people that would have grown up to care for others if they hadn’t been taught their whole lives that they, and everyone else in the world, were born evil and sinful because of something a dirt man and a rib woman did thousands of years ago?

People don’t just wake up one morning and decide to fly a plane into a building. It takes years of indoctrination…years of being told that without this god or that prophet or the other dogma they are evil and worthless. It takes years of being told that their religion is the one true religion and all others are heresy…apostasy…wickedness. It takes a lifetime of being told that eternal torture is the act of a loving father.

Life is too precious. We are biologically wired to preserve it at all costs….our own and others. People don’t wake up one morning and decide to kill and terrorize. They are taught to do it. Every myth about mankind’s failure makes destroying our fellow humans a little less horrific. Every dogmatic claim that this ritual or that rule will absolve you of any guilt makes the thought of personally taking another life a little more palatable. Every claim that this group knows the secrets of the universe and all else are damned makes it a little bit easier to view those outside of our nation… our church… our kinship group…as Other…as non-human.

Without religion feeding our xenophobic tendencies, perhaps the human race can begin to shake off the evolutionary baggage of forming exclusive groups. It worked well for our hunter/gatherer ancestors who had to protect themselves from outside tribes competing for the same resources, but we have progressed much faster than we can evolve. The world is smaller today. Last week I chatted via skype with my in-laws in Malaysia. A few hundred years ago I would not even have known that they existed. Today I can log onto a computer and chat as if they are in the same room.

Technology has made us a global kinship group. Religion may have been a useful adaptation for strengthening the bonds within small communities, but we have grown. We no longer depend on small tight knit communities just to find food and chase away predators. Our community now reaches around an entire planet. I have nearly 7 billion kin and I’d like to get to know them. No myths necessary.

Really people?…I mean REALLY?!

Time to break this down.

An atheist woman gets an uncomfortable come-on in an elevator and tries to tell men why this is a bad idea. (By the way guys, unless you look like Hugh Jackman and are as smooth as Brad Pitt…just don’t) She is attacked and raked over the coals by a bunch of guys that just can’t say “Thanks for the insight into women’s minds. We will attempt to improve our dating strategies,” and go on their merry way. 

Another group of atheist women try to implement a sexual harassment policy for a national skeptic meeting. Keep in mind there is nothing unusual about such policies. Most organizations have them in place to protect their attendees and themselves from legal action should the unthinkable happen. They do not involve AntiFun Police roaming around stopping consensual adults from consensually, sensual, fun-time activities. They are in place so that if someone finds themselves harassed they have a simple procedure to go through to seek help in what may be a strange city far from home. 

But again a few guys take it personally and start attacking the women that are just trying to do what atheist men have wanted for years…get atheist women to attend these events.

And eventually all this drama brings out the Drama Trolls. These idiots may or may not be part of the atheist movement, but they see the spotlight and rush in with threats of rape and nasty, misogynistic attacks. And a few women – who apparently want people to think they’re ‘Cool’ and ‘Just one of the guys’ join in and don t-shirts insulting people for no other reason than they tried to make atheist conventions more attractive to women.

I guess it’s no surprise that some of these atheists who have been kicked around by the Douchebags and Trolls (who are by no means representative of atheists as a whole) would get frustrated enough to want to break away and start over. But it’s not the answer.

It’s too late to stop the Atheism+ group from looking like they are either children who want to go build their own tree house and only let the “specialest, bestest, most smartest” atheists in or like the dogmatic cult that they have been compared to. But it’s not too late to stand up to the Douchebags and Trolls who should not be encouraged to take this as a ‘win’…and everyone else who is acting like a 12 year old… and say:

GROW THE FUCK UP!

Posted in Uncategorized

Atheism Plus or Minus?

As hard as it is to deal with trolls and ignorant people that don’t understand the meaning of feminism, equal rights or humanism, the divisive nature of #atheismplus is a step backwards. It makes us sound elitist and afraid to stand up for ourselves. It comes across as saying “The movement is too broken, so instead of working to fix it, we are going to abandon it and start our own club.”

Yes, the atheism movement needs to evolve. We are not perfect. Just like any other group of people, we have people who are pathetic douchebags. Just because we have one thing in common (disbelief) does not mean we all agree on everything. And just because someone disbelieves in the same gods you disbelieve in, does not mean that they give a damn about your rights or your well being. 

The challenge is to move beyond the douchebags. They are like the teabaggers. They are so loud it seems like there are more of them than actually exist in the movement. We need to stand our ground. No one should be threatening atheist women just for asking for the same guidelines at meetings that EVERY FUCKING CORPORATION IN THE FUCKING COUNTRY has for the protection of their employees and themselves. If you see sexual harassment guidelines as a “threat” to your fun or as “unnecessary” then you do not live in the real world.

But the reasonable base of this movement should not let this vocal minority push them to separate from the core. Stand your ground on the reasonable rules that the majority of adults know how to follow and please just ignore the juveniles that every once in a while make it out of the lab where they’ve spent a few (hundred) too many hours away from other people to learn how to behave in civilized society.

Posted in Uncategorized

Religion/Belief Does NOT Equal Race/Ethnicity

Too many people confuse Muslim or Islamic with race or ethnicity and are afraid to speak out against it for fear of being called racist. Muslim is not a race, it is a BELIEF. There are many Muslims that are not from the middle east and there are many people from the middle east that are not Muslim. Beliefs are not sacrosanct. It is not racist or bigoted to speak out against harmful beliefs. It is not racist or bigoted to laugh at ridiculous beliefs. No one would consider it racist to laugh at someone that believed in the existence of leprechauns or faeries.

If you believe that a woman’s testimony is worth less than that of a man, I will ridicule you. If you believe that a woman’s value lies in the state of her vagina, I will ridicule you. If you believe that your religion should never be questioned, I will call you a coward and ridicule you. If any of your beliefs condemn people to infinite torture for finite crimes, I will ridicule you and call you an ass. If any of your beliefs call for the murder of people for consensual sexual acts, I will not only ridicule you, I will do my best to fight against those beliefs until they have been abandoned by all the hateful, cowardly, ignorant, primitive people that now hold them.

Your beliefs are not sacrosanct. Your beliefs do not deserve respect. And if you believe that a magical, invisible being that you call a god gives you some special privilege to harm your fellow humans for what you call a sin, then you do not deserve respect, either.

Posted in Uncategorized