Saturday, November 29, 2014

God's Wager

I don't understand why Christians (and any other deity-driven religion) can't see this logical flaw, and what I will propose kind of turns Pascal's Wager on its head in a different way. In the wager, we are told to just believe anyway just in case because while we may give up a human life of freedom, we'll have an eternal afterlife.  

Let's suppose there is a god, and for familiarity we'll use YHWH or the big JC. In the grand scheme of things, the lifespan of a human being is but a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of time when compared with eternity, yes? Why would any deity, who reportedly has been in existence forever and will be around forever, be concerned with humans believing he's real while we're on earth?

When you consider the alternative, that after death your soul would be eternal and could then be shown that god exists, you would clearly be a believer then and the payoff for god's ginormous ego would be limitless. Why would he leave it up to some shoddy book, a small population of uneducated goat-herders and the ensuing molesters and thieves to provide his proof? And for that matter, if he loves being worshipped or believed in, why wouldn't he just give us a choice after we died? Wouldn't he reveal himself to us and say, "It's me, believe or not?"

He would have so many believers and it would be for eternity. If he's truly the insecure egomaniac he's portrayed as in the bible, wouldn't he forgive "just in case" and reap the benefits of eternal belief by giving us proof after death? We'll call it God's Wager.

If you ask a believer this simple question, they'll say, "God is all about that faith, 'bout that faith, no reason. He's all about that faith, 'bout that faith, no reason."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Emma Watson, equal rights and religion

Emma Watson's U.N. speech was, in the words of Ron Weasley, "not good ... BRILLIANT!" She was understandably nervous; after all, she was talking quite literally in front of the world, but she handled herself admirably. Her suggested path to gender equality was original and poignant, really hitting the mark on several points, pleading with men to take the lead in ensuring women's rights. To me, there was one glaring POV missing and I'll get to that in a minute.

The ensuing threats from the faceless, spineless cowards (who used anonymous vehicles such as Reddit and 4chan for their childish behavior) to release nude photos of her were pathetic and offensive, but not surprising to me.

So why am I writing this? Because misogyny and bigotry are borne from religion, and until the world stops getting its life lessons from the chauvinistic, insensitive immoral fairy tales that are the Bible (and Koran), there will always be gender inequality.

If this offends you, good. Why? Because if you believe your religion is innocent in the ways of gender inequality and homophobia then you couldn't be more wrong. If you think your holy book is the model for morality and equal rights, then I know you haven't read it. Perhaps this post will force you to look deeper into your religion and spark some critical thinking, or at the very least open up some dialogue.

Again, why am I writing this? To quote Emma, "If not me, who? If not now, when?"

#heforshe #religionpoisonseverything

Monday, September 15, 2014

Where have I been?

Yes, it's been a long time since I last posted. Why is that? Well, one contributing factor is the firestorm in my family has settled and we have all just sort of mellowed and respected each other. They try not to say stupid religious crap around me and I agree not to call them out on it when they slip. I still wear my INFIDEL shirt to their home when I feel like they are getting a bit too comfortable, but for the most part the fighting and tears have ended.

I've also rediscovered an old passion of mine, which isn't important to the content of this blog, but suffice it to say it takes up a lot of my time. I've even lost touch with the atheist forums, though I do lurk on occasion at the Thinking Atheist. Someone recently posted about the egregious "Einstein as a young student" video and I was inspired to post about it. So, since I posted there I felt like I should post here.

It's not that I don't think every day about how religion is offensive and how blinded my family is, it's just that I've written pretty much everything I feel needed to be written. I could wax poetic about my favorite topics, or I could just react to countless violations of church and state, but I don't think this blog has garnered enough attention for me to feel the urgency to stay current.

I am inspired by the recent victories we've had in the courts, but for every victory there's another problem that pops up and it seems almost never ending. I often wish I could sell my business and be comfortable financially so I could volunteer with a secular cause, or at the very least donate my time to something such as American Atheists, but that is just a dream right now.

If something moves me to write in the future I will, but this blog was really just a personal exercise and place to organize my thoughts, almost like therapy, and that's the main reason for the dropoff. So, until then, be safe and be secular.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"God willing"

How many of you have heard the phrase, "God willing?" As a child, my parents, in particular my mother, would utter this phrase when we went to sleep. It went something like this:

"Good night."

"Good night."

"Love you."

"Love you, too."

"See you in the morning."

"God willing."

And if I didn't say it, I was forced to say it. I remember thinking it was a little creepy, but didn't put it together that I was being indoctrinated. I just chalked it up to one more thing I was forced to do as a result of living under their roof, like chores. But now, looking back on it, it's even more ridiculous, and it makes their god look even more pathetic and controlling. God willing? It's all up to him, right? He chooses if I make it through the night or if he murders me in my sleep. How do they not see this? How repulsive this is? And why even bother saying it? Is it superstition? Are you hoping that by saying it aloud that your god will spare you? There are just so many things wrong with this.

I refuse to force any child in my charge to do anything irrational.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

They're not just religious bigots

While homosexual bigotry doesn't necessarily have to be rooted in religion, no matter when you witness it, it's offensive. This past Mother's Day, I got together with my family and had a pleasant day, despite the near constant praising and thanking of a deity (and don't even get me started on the forced involvement in grace, despite everyone at the table knowing I'm an atheist and feel thanking a man-made invisible god is akin to writing a letter to Santa Claus).

I was grateful the conversation turned to football during dessert, at least at first I was grateful. The NFL Draft was last week and we discussed the picks our favorite teams selected. But eventually the topic turned to Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, selected by the Rams in the seventh round (the final round).

Now, you may be asking yourself, why would the best defensive player in college football's best conference have to wait seven rounds to be picked by a team? Well, Sam is gay. He is trying to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

It's clear the league isn't entirely on board with homosexuals in the locker room or on the field, as evidenced by this fine player slipping to almost the final pick in the draft. It's a sad commentary on the state of the league, but what was even more sad were the comments that got passed around my brother's dinner table.

You see, ESPN had its cameras at Sam's house when the phone call from the Rams finally came. An emotional Sam cried, as most draft picks do, as he had his discussion with the Rams front office. He then kissed his partner on the lips and got hugged by a few other guys, who may or may not have been gay.

My family all ganged up on Sam's reaction. At first they simply just mentioned the kissing, and you could see the disdain in their faces, but they eventually realized how offensive they sounded (after I defended Sam and said there's zero difference between his reaction and anyone else's who was straight) and said the kissing was OK. But it was what happened later in Sam's celebration that my family couldn't contain their bigoted comments.

The cameras continued to roll as Sam and his family and friends celebrated with cake. Sam cut a piece and smeared it on his partner's face then kissed him, a la every wedding cliché in America. Everyone at the table (but me) was religious, so their comments aren't surprising, but I don't think all of their comments were rooted in religion. My brother and father are tough guys, so they just cringe at anything that's not heterosexual. I'm not entirely sure they are against homosexuality, it's just not something they readily embrace.

But my SIL, the one I have had all of my religious debates with, is a conservative right-wing religious nutjob. She said things such as, "If you're trying to make a statement, that is not the way to do it," and "They should not have done that. If they want us accept them they shouldn't do that in public."

I can't remember all of the offensive comments because I wasn't in journalism mode at my family's home, but it's safe to assume they were basically saying keep your affections private because it disgusts them, and if you're straight there's nothing wrong with the exact same display of affection. This is what we refer to as a bigoted double standard. It's all right as a man to make out with your woman, but if you are gay then keep it behind closed doors because it's wrong and we don't want to look at it. So sad.

Ultimately I got them to realize this was in his home and he had every right to do whatever he wanted, and it could have been on Main Street USA, too. He is a free man and this is a free country. There is no difference between what two consenting heterosexual adults can do and two consenting homosexual adults can do. Time to wake up and smell the 21st century.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Respect for life

Ever since I made the deconversion and realized I was an atheist, I've had a newfound respect for all life, not just my own. Recently, a black crow was carrying a baby blue jay through the air as the blue jay's parents chased it. The crow dropped the baby right in front of me, from about 20 feet in the air. I waited awhile and watched to see if the parents would come back to save the baby, but they never did.

We didn't have a bird sanctuary in town so I have been rehabbing the bird for the past three weeks. I've grown fond of the little guy and feel really good about raising him. It takes a lot of effort and care, but it's worth it. He's almost ready to release, and though I will be sad to see him go, I am very happy I saved his life.

What's the moral of the story? We only get one life and we need to enjoy it, respect it and make sure it lasts as long as possible. That's why I saved the bird, and that's why I will cherish my life until the end. I won't waste this opportunity and cling to the irrational hope that there's something after this. It's an irresponsible way to live life and I'm not a coward.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why I stopped saying bless you

I know, I know ... You happened past an atheism blog and see its writer in cliche fashion talking about what to say (and not say) when people sneeze. And it's pretty typical for a new atheist to pronounce an edict that he'll never say, "Bless you," ever again! I'm also aware of how silly that is and for those who say, "If someone blesses me I'm gonna let them have it and tell them I don't believe in god so I don't need your worthless blessings for something so trivial!"

But, it's no secret that deconverting has its natural path, and that usually means investigating EVERYTHING that pops up that has some sort of religious connection. Before I became an atheist, I would always say bless you and frown when someone didn't. If they said gesundheit (German for health) or salute (Italian for good health) then that was cool, but if they said nothing? Well, then I was almost indignant. How dare they not care enough to bless my sneeze! Well, turns out, it truly is trivial, so much so that anyone who says bless you and doesn't understand why they say it makes for terrific fodder for those of us in the know. So, here's why:

The consensus is this sort of behavior started thousands of years ago, maybe even with the Romans, who were on record as saying, "Jupiter preserve you" or "Salve," which to this day still means "good health to you" in the formal Italian tongue. There have been other connotations of this behavior, including the Greeks, who would wish "long life."

"God bless you," according to Wikipedia, is attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, who uttered it in the sixth century during a bubonic plague epidemic (sneezing is an obvious symptom of one form of the plague). When someone says the German or Italian variations of "good health," it makes sense because a sneeze could mean you are coming down with a cold, so they are hoping you have good health and that the sneeze was an aberration.

According to Wiki: Virtually every country around the globe has its own way of wishing sneezers well. People in Arabic countries say, "Alhamdulillah," which means, "praise be to god." Hindus say, "Live!" or "Live well!" Some countries have special sneezing responses for children. In Russia, after children are given the traditional response, "bud zdorov" ("be healthy"), they are also told "rosti bolshoi" ("grow big"). When a child sneezes in China, he or she will hear "bai sui," which means, "may you live 100 years."

It goes on to say that ancient superstitions were also a part of the silly tradition. Some believed a sneeze causes the soul to escape through the nose, and that by saying "bless you" it would stop the devil from claiming the person's freed soul.

Others believed the opposite, that evil spirits use the sneeze as an opportunity to enter a person's body. When I was a kid, I was told (and I have no doubt my parents still believe this) the heart stopped or skipped a beat when you sneezed so if you said bless you it kind of asked god to spare you, or it was meant to welcome you back to life.

Think about how preposterous this is. Do you say anything when someone burps or farts (other than "You're disgusting!") in front of you? Of course it was science that proved a sneeze is a reflex to something tickling or affecting the inner workings of your nasal passage, such as a cold, dust, sunlight, etc.

So, if you're ever in my presence and you happen to sneeze, I won't be saying bless you. ... not because I'm an atheist, but because it's just plain stupid.