Monday, December 25, 2006

10 myths and 10 truths about atheists

I'm not an eloquent person. That's the main reason I haven't posted here in... let's see... 7 months. I just find it hard to express myself in writing. So here is an LA Times article that I think expresses my views, and those of many atheists, perfectly. Here's the article.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Morality Without God

People often ask me how I can be a moral person without God. This is a silly question. I tell them so. They walk away. I continue eating my mango pie.

Morals are a function of society. They have been derived from countless experiences throughout the history of a society. This is why different societies have different morals. This is so wildly obvious to anyone that has studied different cultures that I'm not going to debate it here.

Let's say Billy is just walking along one day, minding his own business, when Greg comes along and viciously stabs him to death. Billy's friends and family are distraught, they mourn his death, and then teach their children that, because of the pain they experienced from murder, they should never murder anyone. Repeat this process a few thousand times and you get a social moral. Most people in, let's say, the 'civilized' world-society as a whole don't think it's a good idea to kill each other. Why? Because it's a social moral, and because if you do society will take action and do something to get you back.

When I have given this argument to my religious friends, a few have asked why people would care about the deaths of their friends, if not because God had originally implanted the feeling in their head. This is a silly question. I tell them so. They walk away. I continue eating my mango pie.

Compassion for companions is found in almost every animal with even a pretense at a brain. Therefore it must have an evolutionary benefit so profound that many creatures simply cannot survive without it. Empathy is then not restricted to humans and their so-called holy scripture. But more to the point: appreciating the death of a loved one for what it is is clearly a survival mechanism. If Billy (magically resurrected for the purpose of this example) eats the red berries, and Billy gets sick, Billy knows not to eat the red berries. Similarly, if Billy's sister is killed by a giant porcupine Billy knows he either has to get away from it or kill it so it can't do him or his family any harm. Why does he know this? Because his sister died from it and since he empathizes with her he doesn't want a similar thing to happen to him.

Everyone living in a society is affected by social morals, but many choose to augment those morals with their own experiences. This is how social morals change. Social morals of a certain time period are often written down and eventually worshiped by others. Take the old testament for example. I don't stone people to death anymore, and people don't stone me. Why? Because social morals have changed. The reason that people can still call themselves Christian without following the exact word of the Bible and stoning people is a post for another time.

For myself, I've adopted a view of morality which seems to be shared by many in this blogosphere. I care about the good of the human race. If something I do hurts someone, it is wrong. If something I do helps someone, then it is right. If something I do both hurts and helps people, but it helps more people then it hurts, then it is right, though not so right as just helping people. If it hurts and helps the same number of people, but the people that it helps can do more to help people than can the people that it hurts, then it is right.

Killing a good person is wrong. Cheating on the SAT's is not particularly wrong, unless the knowledge you gain from studying for it can help you or someone else. You see?

Ordinarily I would put a well-written conclusion that restates my original thesis and brings a new and shocking revelation to the post here, but my time could be better spent helping my cat out of the tree it has just gotten stuck in.

Good day.

Oh yes, and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Welcome to Café Heathen! Today we'll be serving a mixed dish of cynicism, logical argument and circular debate. Ice cream flavors are Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla and the sweat, blood and tears that I've been pouring into this project for the past week (you can ask for that on the side).

On this, the 10th of December, Kingdom of Heathen and myself, Aeger, are proud to present the Carnival of the Godless.

Do enjoy.

For an appetizer, here's Ebonmuse with a delicious essay examining C.S. Lewis and his not-so-staunch defending of Christianity. Taste the crunchy goodness of knowing you're right.

Who likes Sweet and Sour stuff?

On the offensive we have Vjack, arguing against religion because of it's inbred intolerance.
I reject the notion that all human differences deserve equal respect and tolerance. For example, I have no interest in being tolerant of racism, sexism, homophobia, or other forms of irrational hatred. Thus, we should not be held to the expectation that we must be tolerant of intolerance.
Note the bitter flavoring.

Addressing the problem of the Scientist Mindset is Kirk from the Traveling Forever Blog. 'What is this mindset?' you may ask. Well, I'm not going to tell you. That's what the damn link is for.

Mojoey brings us morality without God.
Morality is a function of society, I was taught my morals by my patents, extended family, and social groups. I was taught morality by reading the bible and by my experience as a Christian. And, I refined my morality by deep thought and reflection on the nature of good and evil.

Purse your lips in citrusy expectation. A scientist using "scientific studies" to promote his own religious views? Not on Shalini's watch. From the blog Scientia Natura comes a smack-down of just such a scientist.

Christians: Learn the Bitter Taste of Defeat.

From our good friend Alfredo (it's the name of a food, so I don't have to make any allusions, hooray) over at Four Directions, we have a thesis which disproves the claim that theists can speak with God by pointing out the limits of our own senses.

Brought to us by Aaron from Symbolic Order, an argument twixt two friends of different beliefs made public in an inter-blog debate. And by Trevor from the same blog: a count down of the ten reasons that Christianity is false.
10. It is Absurd

And now we have Jeff from Minds, Meanings and Morals, who argues in support of taking religious experiences with God seriously, so as to better argue against them.

A Relish from A Published Mind.

From Rhyme and Reason, we have a transcript of a speech made by Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, at the World Religions Conference on the subject of salvation. Juicy, delicious salvation.

Fiction(?) Never Tasted So Insightful.

Volunteered by myself without his consent (it's not that he didn't want me to, I just never asked), a story by Harry from the Ragged Trousered Philosopher entitled "Talking To God..." Enjoy the 15-pagey goodness.

And from your dear Host, Kingdom of Heathen (more specifically: myself), I bring you an Ode to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Ever wondered what's really out there? Just use your noodle, you silly person.

A Mint for Your After Dinner Pleasure.

We've all seen that little purple and red tract that reads "Science Confirms the Bible." We look at it for a second, and say "Huh, I wonder if that's true," and then walk on. Well, Akusai from Action Skeptics has researched this tract, and found that not all of its claims are completely justified.
Later, at home, I looked over the card and had a long, hard laugh. I showed it to some friends and we all had a long, hard laugh. See, we're all hard-nosed, no-nonsense, science-type assholes. The great wish was that Buddy the Creationist had approached all of us in a group on a warm spring day, so we could have torn him to shreds.

I hope you enjoyed our food for thought. I'll see y'all in another year and a half.

WARNING: The writer of this post is not responsible for knowledge obtained or stomach cramps gained from reading this carnival. Repeated viewing of this page may result in swelling of the brain and/or revelations regarding the true meaning of life. And possible hemorrhaging. Have fun.

To all you who decided to wait until the last possible day to email in, I sincerely apologize. A combination of the dropout of the assistance of the other contributors, a small misunderstanding of the due date and an unusually large quantity of submissions led me to pull the due date back to the 7th. I apologize if you didn't hear about this in time and urge you to email your submissions to next weeks host, God is for Suckers.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cotgming Soon

Tomorrow or the next day will see a new post on KoH. This post will be a special post. A unique post. 'Why?' you ask? Well, I'll tell you. This next post will host other people's posts! 'What kind of post could house other people's opinions in the form of cheesy introductions and interestingly placed urls?' you ask?

It's called the Carnival of the Godless, you silly person, and it's coming to Kingdom of Heathen on December 10th.

...or maybe 11th (can you believe some people are still sending in submissions a week after the due date? I'm in a mind to just ignore them.)

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