Monday, June 27, 2011

What would it take?

I posted at the end of an entry (the only one :/) that I would remain skeptical even if Christ was to come down from the skies flanked by angels.  It got me thinking, what would it take to make me believe in the supernatural.  I wasn't always this skeptical.  It has come from years of first pondering religion (Christianity), then finding religion to be inconsistent, just pondering god, until finally, I just found myself one day realizing that there is just not enough evidence to support such a grand claim.  Since then I have read quite a bit of atheist literature, and found much of it to be quite in line with that realization.  Are you sleeping yet?  Yada yada, first I was....yada yada...finally,  yada.  Yes, I know, pretty boring stuff. 

Anyhow, today I am very skeptical, especially of any claim regarding something supernatural.  Really think about what that word means: supernatural.  What would be supernatural.  If fire-breathing dragons were real would they be supernatural?  Nope.  Psychics?  Nope.  Magic?  Depends on how you define it.  The problem is, if we find one of these "supernatural" phenomena to be true, then that would simply change our view of nature. 

So, what could make me believe in a supernatural god (without simply using some natural technique to change my mind for me)?  I think it would take something supernatural.  Har har.

P.S. I also kept thinking about an old episode of Star Trek TNG that this thought always reminds me of.  TNG fans probably already know, but for you uninitiated, it is called "the Devil's Due".  Check it out if you can.

Atheism the religion?

Whenever I read any comment threads in which non-religious folks and religious folks are debating (to put it very nicely), it seems that eventually a religious person will come right out and declare atheism a religion.  I am not sure where this confusion comes from.  It may be that people who come from religious backgrounds do not have the experience required to understand a life without religion of some sort.  It maybe that some religious group out there is pushing this idea in order to frighten, confuse, or otherwise influence people. Or maybe some group is pushing this idea because it is what they really believe.

But none of that is important.  It is not important for one important reason.  Atheism is not a religion.  I repeat, atheism is not a religion.  Look, I didn't even capitalize it.  To illustrate this point, I have prepared a simple analogy.  Theism is a belief in a god or gods.  Atheism is the belief that there are no gods.  If you have a house, and I do not have a house, we are not different kinds of homeowners.  If you play baseball and I do not, we are not different kinds of baseball players.  But wait it gets better!  Not only is atheism not a religion, theism isn't a religion either!  Now a theist is probably a million time more likely to be religious, but that does mean that every person that believes in at least one god also belongs to a religion.

So, not only are people who claim atheism to be a religion confusing two very different things, but are by accident creating not one, but two religions (theism and atheism) where none exist.  Please say it with me now: atheism is not a religion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Conversion Stories

Every so often as I am slumming around the web, I come across a conversion story.  Occasionally, the conversion is from a position of non-belief to one of faith.  These confuse me.  Don't get me wrong, people convert to religions all the time, the fact that I think that they are mistaken to do so doesn't really matter.  They have nothing to prove to me.  The stories disturb me though, because there is something that is always just a little off about them. Take this one for example.  The guy starts out not believing in god, then gets into witchcraft and freaks out after he summons a demon.  A demon.  I am not joking.  Atheists, so far as I know, are not into witchcraft.  I mean, we are a pretty difficult group to classify, but nature gods seem to go out the same window as sky gods when it comes to not believing in any gods. This is an extreme (and I think silly) example, but there are quite a few stories out there that are similar.    The person starts out a "real hardcore atheist".  In this case he also killed his pet rabbit as a child (have you read the article yet?  I am not making this up).  I don't know.  I believe that people have religious experiences, or rather what they interpret as religious experiences.  But the way these always come across like "and then one day: Jesus." or "I came upon a bible passage and just kept repeating it."  On the one hand it sounds like they were in a rough spot and pulled themselves up, then giving the credit to the mystery.  On the other hand it sounds like they have drunk the Kool-Aid and they have learned afterwards what their conversion was about.  Of course, I can't say for sure.  It would be very presumptuous for me to walk up to someone and tell them what they feel.  And hey, maybe it is God talking to them through vague metaphor and random Bible passages, but I doubt it.  I mean I really doubt it.  Then, I am very skeptical.  If Jesus was descending from the sky on a golden chariot flanked by choirs of angels and whisking people away to paradise left and right, part of me would still say, "this is some sort of trick, right?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

The non-believer's story.

I was going to write a piece to bore you with the details of how I became an atheist (I seem to be putting this off), but I found this article by Paula Kirby, which expresses how I am sure many of us feel, and more eloquently than I am capable.  Please read it.  It is a lovely piece.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Onion strikes again

I do so love the Onion.  And when they post articles like this, it reaffirms that love.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Climate Change

I am sure that I am not the first one to hit on this topic, but I wonder what percentage of climate change deniers are religious.  I would be interested to know.  It seems strange that someone can take something as unlikely as the existence of God on faith, but require absolute evidence for something that is very likely.