Welcome! This blog covers my thoughts and struggles as an ex-Christian. If you like, read my introductory post. I've also written a "concluding" post on why I no longer post here that often. Feel free to comment!
The upside to having no significant moral convictions?Is that a Newcastle or a Guinness?
LB said: The upside to having no significant moral convictions?[laughs] You mean the reluctance to kill people who don't disbelive like them? [rotflmao]LB said: Is that a Newcastle or a Guinness?Can't be Guiness. Not dark enough.
"The upside to having no significant moral convictions?"Being an atheist doesn't exclude significant moral conviction.
I wonder what the face of Atheism and the stereotypes will be when the new car smell wears off? It's a relatively new movement, modern Atheism. Look how peaceful and gung-ho for their beliefs the new Christians were. Look what that turned in to. They and we are all Atheists. Christians disbelieve in the Allah, Islams disbelieve in YHWH. Atheists just take it one further. Some day, Atheists will fall to the human fallacy of killing those who do not agree with you. I can see a day where people are forced to renounce their religion at the end of shotgun barrel. It just takes one well-spoken fool to lead many.
Nikeyo said: It's a relatively new movement, modern Atheism.That really depends on where you draw the line.... What do you mean by 'modern' atheism?Personally I date it from the French Revolution or thereabouts - so in historical terms it is still fairly 'new', say 200 years and change.......
Stalin and Hitler were atheist
What really cracked me and Cori up about the cartoon is how lonesome and forlorn the atheist looks :-)Stalin and Hitler were atheistStalin, yes, but the case for Hitler (as Dawkins argues in the God Delusion, pg 272-78) is somewhat unclear. In a speech in 1933 Hitler declared a fight against the atheistic movement, and claims to have stamped it out; and in another speech in 1922 he repeats several times that he is a Christian. Then there is that famous quote from Mein Kampf:"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord".However, there are other references where Hitler expresses vehement anti-Christian views, and he persecuted many members of the Confessing Church (the theologian Bonhoeffer, for example, was hanged in a concentration camp.) So Hitler’s religious beliefs are not as certain as some apologists (and even some atheists) would have us believe.Anyway, even if it was certain that Hitler was atheist, there have been Christians in history who have done really nasty things as well. In fact, there are people with many differing beliefs that have done nasty things. Should we then blame every belief system as the cause of violence? Singling out one aspect of a person’s character (e.g., one’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof) seems far too simplistic to me, as it ignores many other intricate factors (historical, emotional, psychological, etc) that might be at play in the mind of a megalomaniac.
The cartoon definitely made me smile (thanks Kevin!). However, I think that, more important than the label one goes by is the worldview one actually lives by. In the example of Hitler, he may have at some points acknowledged the existence of God, but by his actions, he showed no submission to an ultimate moral authority (i.e., he made up his own rules of morality, perhaps at times trying to justify them by appealing to the false blessing of a non-biblical god). Many so-called "Christians" have likewise committed atrocities, supposedly in the name of Christ (I'm thinking of certain things done during the Crusades, as well as the abortion clinic attack in the cartoon). Just because someone aligns themselves (or because society aligns them) with a religious position does not mean they are accurately representing that position. Jesus Himself said that not everyone who claims to follow Him was actually a believer. I've known many professing "Christians" who actually have no idea what that term really means. Could a person who advocates violent resistance rightly be called a disciple of Ghandi? We need to look beyond the labels and instead look to a person's actual worldview and actions in order to determine what they should be called.phil
The cartoon relies on a parallelism of (implied) incitement and reaction. In the case of the Militant Atheist, his reaction to what incites him is to go drink a pint of Newcastle or other nut brown ale. However, I think the cartoonist missed an opportunity to push the parallelism even further and relate another well-know aspect of the Militant Atheist. I've posted the revision here.(Note: I deleted the previous post because I thought I could force the link to open in a new window, but TARGET does not work. So if you follow the link, right-click to open it in a new window rather than the small comments window.)
LB said: However, I think the cartoonist missed an opportunity to push the parallelism even further and relate another well-know aspect of the Militant Atheist.Why would being a 'miliant Atheist' lead to wanting to kill themselves?[looks rather confused]Even if this *is* correct - at least its better than trying to kill as many 'unbelivers' as possible don't you think?
Why would being a 'miliant Atheist' lead to wanting to kill themselves?Because atheism—at least when consistent and fully considered—means that life has no ultimate purpose."There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.” - Bertrand RussellIf life has no purpose, then what incentive is there to persevere through the hardships, disappointments, or even the mere mundaneness of it all?
"ecause atheism—at least when consistent and fully considered—means that life has no ultimate purpose."I believe Cyberkitty and I both accept this, and yet I haven't thought of committing suicide yet.
LB said: Because atheism—at least when consistent and fully considered—means that life has no ultimate purpose.And why would the fact that life has no ultimate purpose - whatever that means - make anyone want to end their one & only life? Its like being given a valuable object (which is often the source of fun/pleasure) and holding the belief that its one of a kind. How would that belief be any kind of prompt to throw that object away? Surely if you have a belief that this life is the only one you are *ever* going to have would make you want to live as long as possible and to actually take care of yourself - not cut short the only opportunity you have to experience *anything*.LB said: If life has no purpose, then what incentive is there to persevere through the hardships, disappointments, or even the mere mundaneness of it all?I have never believed in God and consider life to be without any intrinsic purpose. I'm also nearly 50. I don't think its particularly odd that I have no intention of killing myself any time soon. In fact if I was offered the opportunity to extend my life for 100 or even 1000 years I'd happily take it. Just think of all the extra stuff you could do in that time. It'd certainly let me catch up on my reading!The idea that being an atheist naturally leads to suicide is quite frankly ridiculous - indeed so beyond ridiculous that its laughable.
LB wrote:Because atheism—at least when consistent and fully considered—means that life has no ultimate purpose.You are right – I believe life has no ultimate purpose. In about 80 years I will be dead, in a 1000 nobody will know that I even existed, and in a million years there will be no records of me at all (in fact, the human race might be long gone by this time). When you consider the billions of years that this universe has been in existence (and the billions more that it might still be around for), and the trillions of stars and great distances that characterize our cosmos, my life doesn’t matter one bit in the greater scheme of things. But there is one important thing that some theists fail to grasp:My life matters to MEAnd this, frankly, is what makes all the difference, and this is why – as an atheist – I don’t put a gun to my head. Insignificant as my life may be when we consider the cosmos, it is very significant to me, and to those who love me. Just because my life is temporary doesn’t mean that it’s not worth living. In fact, as CyberKitten has argued, because my life is temporary, it is all the more worth living.
Phil wroteWe need to look beyond the labels and instead look to a person's actual worldview and actions in order to determine what they should be called.Hi Phil. I agree with you: to simply use religion or atheism as the primary blame, in isolation to everything else, is far too simplistic, as it ignores what you have referred to as the worldview of the person or group of people concerned. And a particular worldview consists of many complex, interacting elements - not just religious beliefs.
Cyberkitty :-):If your life is always a source of fun/pleasure then it's ultimate meaninglessness many not weight heavy on your mind. So you may be right, atheism itself may not cause suicidal thoughts. However, some people's lives are not always sources of fun and pleasure (and the guy on the cartoon looks like one of them). In those cases, an atheistic worldview can become a significant factor as to whether or not to continue it. If the pleasure I can extract from my days on earth equals it's value, and if I see no potential for adequate amounts of pleasure—due to sickness, emotional problems, broken relationships, or grief—then my life has no—or not enough—value and I should quit while I'm ahead (or get any further behind).Read the bios of some of the most famous atheists and see how they faced life when it stopped being all about fun and pleasure. Is a worldview (true or not) that's powerless to sustain me through difficult times a worldview worth adopting?In fact if I was offered the opportunity to extend my life for 100 or even 1000 years I'd happily take it. Just think of all the extra stuff you could do in that time. It'd certainly let me catch up on my reading!This brings to mind the Twilight Zone episode in which a bookworm, played by Burgess Meredith, finally has time to read without distraction, and, before he can sit down with the first book, he crushes his glasses.Kevin:It's great that your life is significant to you and those who love you. When you're sailing along smooth waters, taking in the gorgeous views (provided by God's grace), your atheism may not seem like a burden—it may even seem liberating, given no external moral guidelines to adhere to. But my reply to CK apples here, too. What happens when that state of affairs changes?
LB said: So you may be right, atheism itself may not cause suicidal thoughts.Thanks for admitting that. You do, however, seemed to have modified your stance quite a bit. Before you were at least implying that atheism leads to suicide. Now you're sayitng that atheism leads to "suicidal thoughts". That's quite a difference I think...LB said: However, some people's lives are not always sources of fun and pleasure (and the guy on the cartoon looks like one of them).I don't think that anyone's life is a constant source of fun and pleasure - actually such a life sounds awful. Constant fun would be very exhausting and the effort to maintain a constant high level of pleasure would probably kill you rather quickly.I'm old enough and reasonable enough to have lived through a few bad times in my life. Relationships have ended, friends and family members have died and various illnesses have been suffered through. It's called life! At no time did I feel the need to call on God to help me through things. In life bad things happen - as much of our lives are out of our control - the 'trick' is to deal with them appropriately because the way we face the world is very much within our control. IRL I'm a Project Manager so I know that no matter your level of planning things *always* go wrong. When they do I deal with them. The same with the life long project of living. LB said: If the pleasure I can extract from my days on earth equals it's value, and if I see no potential for adequate amounts of pleasure—due to sickness, emotional problems, broken relationships, or grief—then my life has no—or not enough—value and I should quit while I'm ahead (or get any further behind).That's ridicuolous. Except for the cases of terminal and painful illness without the possibility of cure I see no reason why even in bad times any rational person would want to kill themselves. We can all look back on our personal histories and pick out incidents when things were *really* bad - but guess what... years later things are much better. Suicide eliminates *any* possibilty of improvement. That makes no sense at all - *especially* when you don't believe you'll get another chance at things.LB said: Is a worldview (true or not) that's powerless to sustain me through difficult times a worldview worth adopting?Firstly we could argue about whether or not atheism is a world-view (I don't think that it is) but putting that to one side for a moment - why would a *disbelief* in God help sustain me through anything? Atheists are a diverse bunch who have many reasons for living and many mechanisms for coping with bad times. My atheism doesn't keep me warm in the dark tea-time of the soul. That's not its function.Atheism is neither a good reason to live nor any reason to die.LB said: This brings to mind the Twilight Zone episode in which a bookworm, played by Burgess Meredith, finally has time to read without distraction, and, before he can sit down with the first book, he crushes his glasses.I never really liked the Twigglet Zone - too preachy most of the time.
CK said: You do, however, seemed to have modified your stance quite a bit. Before you were at least implying that atheism leads to suicide. Now you're sayitng that atheism leads to "suicidal thoughts". That's quite a difference I think...[laughs]Which is actually what LB is *not* saying.... I really must read things *before* I post them!
Cyberkitten wrote: Atheism is neither a good reason to live nor any reason to die.What would be a good reason to live or die?
A good reason to die - by your own hand - would be unrelenting pain. It's a quality of life issue.A good reason to live....? There are thousands of them. However, if you want me to pick one: brunettes.
I'm glad to hear that you are well-adjusted. I certainly can't know more about your life outlook than you do, unfortunately, your particular outlook may not be representative of the general atheist population. Here are two pieces of evidence to back-up my claim:1) Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt(http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303)2) "Concerning suicide rates, this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations. According to the 2003 World Health Organization's report on international male suicides rates (which compared 100 countries), of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism."— The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005)Despite this, according to what I've read, it is not generally thought that atheism is a causitive factor in suicides, rather that theism or religiosity provides a level of deterrence. In other words, atheism, unlike theism, does not provide the person considering suicide with much in the way of compelling alternatives (which is what I said).Not surprisingly (to me) an atheist worldview does seems to cause a devaluing of life in general."The list of countries with the highest levels of atheism, agnosticism and non-belief in God* strongly correlates with countries that have the most liberal (or "progressive") laws, policies and practices regarding right-to-die, assisted suicide, and euthenasia for infants, the terminally ill, chronic pain sufferers, the handicapped, and depressed individuals."—Sited from adherents.comhttp://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html*Sweden, Vietnam, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Czech Republic, Finland, France, South Korea, Estonia, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Netherlands, Britain and Belgium.So my cartoon may not have been precisely true, but neither was the original. Yes, we know that some religious zealots act (in the case of Christianity, at least) against the precepts of their religion, but around the world people are dying unnecessarily every day as the direct result of people acting in accordance with their atheism.
I have heard the argument that life is valuable because it is temporary (i.e., it's the only life I have so I'm going to enjoy it), but I just cannot see the reasoning here. Perhaps someone can provide some supporting thoughts to make the logic clearer.
Post a Comment