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.

Is Your God an Abusive Spouse?

Psychologists recognize that there are certain signs that a relationship might be abusive. Let’s take a look at some signs published by Health Central* and see how Jehova does.

An emotionally abusive spouse wants you all to themself and makes efforts to have it that way. They do not understand that you have a life outside of the relationship – one that includes family and friends.

Jesus tells his followers they must leave their families, forsake those they love, to be with him:

14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

If someone calls you derogatory names, even if they say they are joking, they mean to hurt you and keep you in line. Abusers sometimes cover themselves by blaming you, saying that you need to lighten up or that you are too sensitive.

The bible tells us we were born sinful

51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
8:21 says “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. ”

If your significant other always blames everything on someone else, namely you, this may be a bad sign. If he throws a tantrum or attacks you verbally, he will say it was because of you.

God created the world and everything in it. Even though he’s supposedly all-powerful and all-knowing he decides he doesn’t like how his creation is behaving so without even considering any other option he decides to destroy everything, even innocent babies…

6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

If you feel fear around your boyfriend or spouse then there is something very wrong. Abusers may try to intimidate you with violence, dominance or power tactics.

This one is pretty obvious..

4:10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.

12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

An abusive man goes through life feeling entitled to be treated like a king and he wants you to be his willing servant.

We know how the God of the old testament felt about being the top dog:

20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

A prominent trait of abusers is their jealousy. An abusive partner or spouse is often jealous of you, other people and even your dreams and goals.

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me

6:15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

8:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God;he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
24:20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

An abuser is a grand manipulator and will sulk, threaten to leave, and emotionally punish you for not going along with his idea of how things should be. An abuser will try to make you feel guilty any time you exert your will and assertiveness of what is right for you.

Jesus threatens that those that do not follow him will be destroyed…
13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

God doesn’t want you to know too much…

1 Corinthians
1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Yep. Doesn’t look good for Yahweh. I suggest if you are in a relationship with this douche you leave now. It’s time to show yourself some respect and get involved with reality.

* Signs. of abuse found on http://www.healthcentral.com

Why call atheism a religion…

It seems the big ‘insult’ from theists is to say, “But atheism is a religion, too.” And this gets atheists ruffled up and fighting amongst themselves over whether atheists “don’t believe in any gods” or “believe there are no gods.”

The semantics of the whole argument distract us from the tactic itself. The claim makes it sound like the theists are agreeing that religion is a bad thing. They may just be attempting to make a point that atheists are hypocritical. But whether some people define religion as a ‘belief system’ or whether it has to have some supernatural element, I think that when the ‘atheism is a religion’ argument is thrown into the mix, that’s the time to pull back and simply say,

“Well that’s not my definition of religion, but even if it were, so what? It has no bearing on whether or not a god exists.”

Myself…I’m thinking about becoming a High Priestess in the Church of the Everlasting Atheist and demanding all my tax exemptions.

Believers, Chill, We Are Not Trying to Convert You

I think because so much of the Abrahamic tradition revolves around converting non-believers, those people who believe in God think that atheists are trying to convert them. This belief is strengthened by the propaganda of the Religious Right and fear/hate-mongers like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Fox News & Friends. These media whores stir up fear in their listeners in order to further their agenda.

The truth is Atheists don’t care if you believe in God. We don’t care if your children pray in school. We don’t care if you wear crosses, erect religious icons on your lawn or cut the stigmata into your palms on a weekly basis. We are not trying to stop you from doing these things. The only thing we ask is that you do not force us to participate or PAY for these things with our tax money.

Is that really too much to ask? If your local school or government were to hold a Satanic Celebration using your tax dollars, I’m pretty sure 98% of the citizens would be screaming bloody murder, because they are not practicing Satanists. Yet, they see nothing wrong with holding a Christian Bible reading as part of a town’s holiday celebration, even though MY tax dollars help pay for that and I am NOT Christian. In fact, 22% of Americans aren’t Christian.

This is why we have the first amendment. The purpose of the establishment clause of the first amendment is to be fair to EVERYONE. Because we don’t all believe the same thing, the government is staying out of the fray. Makes sense. So why do some Christians think that any attempts by the government to step back and stay out of religion is an attack on their beliefs? Why do some Christians think that Atheists want them to abandon their beliefs?

It all comes down to the power of fear. People like Beck and O’Reilly make a living by causing fear. Fundamental religious leaders gain power over their followers through fear. Convince your followers that Atheists are evil and attacking them and they will pull out their wallets and hand over their money for your protection. The truth, that Atheists really don’t care anything about who you pray to or how, is not all that scary and makes a boring story.

So don’t tell me you’ll pray for me, don’t patronize me by saying that God will find a way into my heart, don’t use my tax dollars to pay for your religious events or make laws based on your religious beliefs and don’t call me unpatriotic while you trample on the Constitution and we will get along just fine. Oh, and don’t worry, I have no intention of converting you to Atheism. I don’t want to share the cookies at the monthly meetings.

Better Be Good For Goodness Sake…

A recent worldwide ad campaign by atheists touted “No God..No Problem! Be Good for Goodness Sake.” To me, this seems to be a message to other non-believers that they don’t have to feel alone this holiday season and that it is okay to be a good person, just for the sake of being good. Unfortunately, many religious people see it as an attack on their beliefs.

I am not sure how billboards put up by the religious right, like this one, are not considered offensive to non-believers. This is the ultimate hypocrisy.

Regardless of whose billboards are more offensive, I would like to address the message that has some Christians up in arms.

The religious right seem to think that it is not possible for people to stay out of trouble and be good without the help of God. So I thought I would take a look at my Godless track record as compared to a few religious folk who have God on their side.

1. Billy James Hargis

Radio evangelist and founder and president of the American Christian College. I chose Hargis for this list, because I taught College English for seven years. Hargis was caught having sex with both male and female students. I never had a sexual relationship with any of my students while teaching college.

Atheist 1  God  0

2. Jimmy Swaggert

Famous televangelist. Swaggert was caught having sex with prostitutes. He made a tearful confession to his tv followers asking for forgiveness, yet was caught and arrested with a prostitute just three years later. I have never paid a prostitute (male or female) for sexual favors.

Atheist 2  God 0

3. Jim Bakker

Famous televangelist. Bakker was caught cheating on his wife Tammy Faye. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud in his ministry led to charges and jail time for Bakker. I have never committed adultery and I have never committed accounting fraud. I am giving myself 2 points for this one.

Atheist 4  God 0

4. Ted Haggard

Haggard was the pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. His position gave him access to President George W.  Bush.  Haggard was caught having sex and doing methamphetamines with male prostitutes. I’m only going to count the illegal drugs here, since I already counted a previous prostitution and I personally do not have a problem with homosexuality although for the sake of this argument I will admit I have never had a homosexual relationship. More importantly I have never taken methamphetamines.

Atheist 5  God 0

5. Tony Alamo

Founder Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. Alamo was convicted on 10 counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes, sexual assault and other crimes and was sentenced to the maximum punishment of 175 years in prison. I do not sexually abuse children.

Atheist 6  God 0

I could go on, and I’m sure there are those that would say, “Yeah, but there are plenty of atheists who have committed crimes and many religious people who have not.” But that does not address my point. My point is that in each of the 5 cases I’ve mentioned here, God was supposedly present in the person’s life and guiding them. These men still did evil.

Yet, I do not believe in God. My reason for behaving the way that I do is that I have empathy for my fellow man and I believe that certain rules of conduct are necessary in order to function as a society. I am good, not because I fear an invisible man that might punish me after death. But because it is the right way to treat people. I am accountable to myself, therefore I cannot claim, “I will just repent and everything will be all right.”

I demand that I try my best to do it right the first time. Because this life isn’t a practice run for me. It’s the only one that counts.