Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A World Without Theism?

A reader at the Daily Dish replied to the atheist that I replied to yesterday. It's a really great read and I agree with most of his/her points (any emphasis mine):

To me, atheism is a scientific argument with moral ramifications. Theism is a theory that cannot be reasonably defended within the paradigm our natural world. Just like no scientist would give any consideration to people claiming that the sun revolves around the earth. It's not matter of ridicule. It matter of understanding hypothesis, observation, and conclusion. While this angers many religious folk as somehow condescending, most atheists like Dawkins are simply saying that based on our knowledge of the scientific method, one cannot argue that the world was created in seven days, or that water turned to wine, etc., etc. There is no malice intended. There is only frustration at the number of people who can selectively relax their notion of scientific rigor to allow for these supernatural beliefs.

Personally, I can understand anti-theism, and in many ways support it. The reason has nothing to do with superiority or snobbishness. It pains me in my heart to see the death and destruction that religion has caused throughout history. It gives me anxiety to look at my one-year old son and think that he'll be brought up in a society that doesn't see any link between the erosion of critical thinking and the increase in religiosity. People seem to need figures like bin Laden, Koresh, Hubbard, etc., so they can point fingers and proclaim them to be religious fanatics or "wackos". It makes the average moderate Christian/Muslim/Jew/Hindu feel better about their faith. As if the suspension of scientific thought that they exercise has absolutely nothing to do the extremism that is built on the same principle. I am not trying to lump everyone into the same group here, I'm just attempting to explain how a scientist views this general line of thinking as major threat to society. The slippery-est of slopes.

I sincerely believe that most atheism is spawned not out of hate and elitism, but out of love. Atheists like me have simply lost all faith that religion can exist without being used as a tool for justifying war and subjugation. If it could, even scientists that cringe at the thought of accepting supernatural beliefs would probably learn to coexist peacefully with theism, given that many beliefs system also catalyze acts of great compassion. But in the end, I'm torn as to which notion is more naïve and idealistic: a world without theism or world in which theism does not lead to human suffering.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


A disgruntled milquetoast atheist has this to say of antitheism:

The new atheism has made its challenge, then. And here is my answer. I don't believe in God, in any meaningful way. I am not a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Jew, or whatever else you will. In questions of public policy I feel religion has no place, and rational discourse has to rule. I don't want religious artifacts in the public square, I don't want creationism taught in public schools, and I don't want any religion privileged in any way by government. I am, in most every way that matters, a natural ally of atheism.

But atheism has expelled me. It has expelled me because it has in its heart contempt and loathing and fear of the other. So I reject it. I don't reject all atheists; many atheists are uninterested in ridiculing the religious-- they simply want to be left in peace, and not have religion forced on them or on the law. That, to me, is a principled atheism, and one I am happy to coexist with. But this new atheism, this anti-theism, has only contempt at its heart, and I reject it as thoroughly as it has rejected me.

I respectfully disagree.

In a nutshell, when faced with something evil, the proper reaction is revulsion and contempt.

In my opinion, milquetoast atheism (which is happy to let religion perform its daily evils upon us) only holds any validity if you accept as your fundamental premise that religion is ultimately innocuous.

As I have written about on this blog for months now, in my opinion, religion is NOT innocuous. It causes untold amounts of suffering and subjects us to evil acts every day.

As an antitheist, I believe that religion deserves our contempt. If this has the effect of "rejecting" people that are fine with tolerating religion, then so be it.

Update: Dealing with the precise subject matter of the atheist-in-question's remarks, I don't see why he/she thinks they are being rejected from the broader atheist movement.

As noted in this post, an atheist is "Someone who denies the existence of god". Antitheism goes one step further, generally being defined as "Active opposition to the belief in the existence of a God". From this, we can see that antitheism is a smaller subset within the larger construct of atheism.

Based on the above, the broader atheist/non-antitheist movement would be (and likely is) happy to have the writer within its fold. It's the antitheist subset that would not be comfortable with the writer's dangerous religious apologism.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Christian Group Says Hitler Never Killed Homosexuals

Some lovely Christian organization wants you to believe that the Nazis didn't kill homosexuals. There truly is no depth to which they will not sink. On the July 10 episode of the "Christian Worldview Network":
In today's program Brannon exposes that lie that Hitler killed homosexuals. Even a homosexual writer admits that is false. Some of Hitler's inner circle were homosexual and bi-sexual. The Brown Shirts started as a homosexual and bisexual organization. Brannon also reveals how the SS officers were desensitized. Many of the SS were "Christians" that went to church and some were even installed in ceremonies in churches. Evangelical pastors from other countries even praised Hitler at the beginning. The church of Germany was weak prior to Hitler coming to power and the weak pulpits make the church no obstacle for Hitler. Is the American church in the same condition?
Seriously, f**k these ignorant a**holes.

Here's some facts:
Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians,[1] were two of several groups targeted by the Nazi Party and were ultimately among the roster of Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, and they were compelled to sexually conform to the German norm. An estimated 1.2 million men were out homosexuals in Germany in 1928.[citation needed] Between 1933-45, more than 100,000 men were registered by police as homosexuals ("Rosa Listen" or "Pink List"), and of these, some 50,000 were officially sentenced. Most of these men spent time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of the total sentenced were incarcerated in concentration camps. It is unclear how many of these 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the concentration camps. The leading scholar Ruediger Lautman however believes that the death rate in concentration camps of imprisoned homosexuals may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors, and were also persecuted by their fellow inmates. This was a factor in the relatively high death rate for homosexuals, compared to other "anti-social groups".

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Need for Militant Antitheism

Here's some interesting nuggets from an email exchange I had recently on an Atheist listserv:

I responded to this email from one Tyler:
Not all religion is malicious. Childish, illogical, and bad on the extreme, but not always evil. Besides, what can we do against the vast majority? We can spread knowledge that Atheism is an option and is a justified position (in the Richard Dawkins way). That's pretty much it. And seriously... "go to religious websites and engage the enemy". Really? I mean, as funny as it would be to tear down their set-in-stone beliefs, wouldn't we just be painting a bad image of atheism? I'd rather keep our number of enemies lower, and try to foster better relations with more people. Here is a potentially superior list-

Elect atheists to Senate and House
Elect atheist president
Have that president appoint an atheist Justice

A lot harder, I know. What we need to do is work toward acheiving all three of those. This means all of us have to actively try to make most religions comfortable (enough) with us. If we can do the first two things on that list, we've already won the war on religion. Spreading divisive (even if true) remarks won't help reach any of these goals.
Here's my response:
Most religions (especially of the Ambrahamic variety) will absolutely never be comfortable with Atheism. Period. Full Stop. The only way Atheism will ever have greater acceptance in America is to have less religious people inhabiting it.

To your "We can spread knowledge that Atheism is an option and is a justified position": Yeah, we've been doing that for a long while. In some countries it catches on (see Scandinavia). It won't here for a variety of reasons.

Hitchens, Dawkins and (especially) Sam Harris are part of the much more militant antitheism movement and embody the only way we can ratchet back the religious insanity in this country. This is by aggressively refuting their magical thinking and refusing to accept religious appeasement (i.e. oh, religion is fine as long as you're outwardly pleasant and not bombing things). Too many of us get distracted by noticeably BIG evils and forget to notice the subtle evils of moderate religious toleration that, in the aggregate, amount to a much greater mound of evil.

Photo of the Day - Jesse Helms

I was strolling around my new digs in Chicago's tony Andersonville neighborhood and came across a gallery that was having a most unusual 4th of July sale. Let's just say they were celebrating an occasion nearly as enjoyable as Independence Day:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Jesse Helms - Good Riddance

Jesse Helms, one of the most hateful bigots to hold the office of Senator of the United States of America in the last century, died today.

If he truly held the Christian beliefs he said that he did, I suspect he'll find his new home in the afterlife to be a bit warm. If the hell he believed in really is a place where you are tormented by your sins for eternity, let's just say that some strapping male African demons will be, ahem, "having their way" with him for a very long time.

Here's a sample of the hatred, fear, racism and homophobia that fed his career:
As an aide to the 1950 Senate campaign of North Carolina Republican candidate Willis Smith, Helms reportedly helped create attack ads against Smith's opponent, including one which read: "White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races."

Another ad featured photographs Helms himself had doctored to illustrate the allegation that Graham's wife had danced with a black man. (The News and Observer, 8/26/01; The New Republic, 6/19/95; The Observer, 5/5/96; Hard Right: The Rise of Jesse Helms, by Ernest B. Furgurson, Norton, 1986)

Ancient history? No. Helms remains unapologetic to this day. Forty years after the Smith campaign, Helms would win election against black opponent Harvey Gantt with another ad playing to racist white fear-- the so-called "white hands" ad, in which a white man's hands crumple a rejected job application while a voiceover intones, "You needed that job…but they had to give it to a minority."

In columns, commentaries and pronouncements from the Senate floor, Helms sowed hatred and called names: The University of North Carolina was "the University of Negroes and Communists." (Capital Times, 11/22/94) Black civil rights activists were "Communists and sex perverts." (Copley News Service, 8/23/01)

Over the years Helms has declared homosexuality "degenerate," and homosexuals "weak, morally sick wretches." (Newsweek, 12/5/94) In a tirade highlighting his routine opposition to AIDS research funding, Helms lashed out at the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill in 1988: "There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy." (States News Service, 5/17/88)

More recently, when a caller to CNN's Larry King Live show praised guest Jesse Helms for "everything you've done to help keep down the niggers," Helms' response was to salute the camera and say, "Well, thank you, I think." (Wilmington Star-News, 9/16/95)

Read More

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Muslims Hate Puppies?

Sometimes reality really is so much stranger than fiction. According to the Daily Mail, British Muslims are upset because a cute puppy was used in an advertisement! Yes, a puppy:
A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims.

Tayside Police's new non-emergency phone number has prompted complaints from members of the Islamic community.

The choice of image on the Tayside Police cards - a black dog sitting in a police officer's hat - has now been raised with Chief Constable John Vine.

The advert has upset Muslims because dogs are considered ritually unclean and has sparked such anger that some shopkeepers in Dundee have refused to display the advert.

Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said: 'My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards.
This is really just absurd. Just when you thought religion had some really funny ideas, they keep coming up with new bulls&*t with which to entertain you.