Camels With Hammers is proud to host the 127th Carnival of the Godless!
If there is one thing that I have learned as an introvert, it’s that you can only ever know yourself. What you know of other people, even if they tell you what seems like everything, is just surface. The Earth’s surface seems like a huge thing until you realize that there are all the layers beneath that we can never see. I personally hide a great deal of myself from the world, either by a great sense of boundaries and privacy or by necessity. I present a portrait of myself, sometimes distorted (especially in real life). What ends up coming out of my mouth or what I write is just … detritus. These things that I do, say, write, these are all you get to know of me, and it’s barely 1 percent of my self. Maybe extroverts present more of themselves in their lives, but even then, I think that you barely tap into the full range of their selves. Actions are a slightly altered microcosm of the much larger sense of self. Actions are often representations of self – inadequate, but they’re all we have since we aren’t psychic.
The only way you can know a person is by their actions – what they say, what they do, the information that they consciously and unconsciously put out for the world to interpret. So for a person to try and sound like they are full of Christian love by saying that they love the sinner and hate the sin – loving the person but hating the actions – they lie.
When you say you hate my homosexual actions or my atheist words, you are really saying that you hate a part of my identity, parts of my identity that make up a big part of who I am right now. I go through the motions of ordinary life at home, knowing that my parents love me and hate me at the same time, even if they do not know the full depth of their hate, for they don’t know the full depth of my self. I think that if I were to reveal as much of that full depth as I could to them, they would still love me, but mostly I think they love the me that they think I should be or that they thought I was. Similarly, when you say that you hate the sin but love the sinner, what it ends up meaning is “I hate you, but I love the you that I think you should be.”
I wish I could tell people to say what they mean, to consider the destructive power of pretty, well-meaning, masking words.
The whole post is Hating the Sinner.
Some researchers argue that humans’ innate tendency towards supernatural beliefs explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not having been brought up within any faith.
This is a joke, right? Because, show me a person from any western culture that was raised with absolutely no faith in their social environment, ahahahahaha. I’d be very thrilled to meet them.
I’d be also very thrilled to meet a unicorn.
“It is a small step from this to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods, who are neither visible nor tangible.” Boyer holds out little hope for atheism. “Religious thinking seems to be the path of least resistance for our cognitive systems,” he said. “By contrast, disbelief is generally the work of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions — hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.”
Yeah, sure, go and quote-mine Boyer, why not. He wrote a book too, though, and it’d be better to read the book than this.
It’s also very ironic, considering both of the above scientists seem to be atheists, as far as I know***.
And finally, for the Incoherent Opinion of the Better, Holier than thou Side:
“I am quite sure there will be a biological basis to religious faith,” Reiss said. “We are evolved creatures and the whole point about humanity is that we are rooted in the natural world.”
LOL WHUT. Does the reverend want to say that we’ve evolved in such a way as to hinder us from non-believing? WHAT ABOUT FREE WILL!
Well, that made baby Darwin cry.
Greta Christina at the curiously named Greta Christina’s Blog, is rightly ticked that atheist arguments are not being met with counter-arguments but rather insistence that we should shut up for being rude instead. She draws the obvious conclusion:
We’re not the ones saying, “We have faith in atheism that cannot be shaken; no possible argument or evidence could make us change our mind.” We’re saying, “The atheism hypothesis seems to be the one that’s best supported by the available evidence. The God hypothesis doesn’t make sense, and there isn’t any good evidence for it… so we’re going to proceed on the assumption that it isn’t true. If we see better evidence or better arguments for God’s existence, we’ll change our minds.”
And again, I ask: Why are so many believers so strongly opposed to the mere act of atheists doing that? Why is so much anti-atheist rhetoric focused, not on flaws in atheists’ arguments, but on our temerity for making those arguments in the first place?
I can only assume that it’s because, on some level, they know they don’t have a case.
If they had a case, they’d be making one.
They don’t have one.
And so they’re reduced to trying to get us to shut up about ours.
(((Billy))) The Atheist at the bafflingly named (((Billy))) The Atheist relates a revealing story from his elementary school days about the dangerous, willful, fearful ignorance of fundamentalists. Below is an excerpt to whet your appetite, but be sure you also read the whole thing:
As they talked, comparing the ins and outs of the children’s stories through which they learned their people’s history and how to live in harmony, we all began listening. I was fascinated. I had been exposed to bits an pieces of it before, but the compare and contrast was enjoyable. In retrospect, I am also intrigued in that all four of them, in fifth grade, knew that these were myths; they knew that this was how their ancestors tried to understand the world and, more important (and far more valuable) how they taught the next generation how to live.
Then, one of our fundamentalist Christians laughed. He laughed out loud. He told them that their myths were nonsense. They were, in his words, lies inspired by Satan. So the Havasu girl asked him to explain his creation myth.
He, very quickly, got angry. In rather terse language, he told her that the bible tells how god created the earth, the moon, the stars, the sun, the animals, the plants, and the land. He gave a quick rundown of the Old Testament creation myth (with corrections from all of us (including the Native Americans who appear to have understood his creation myth better than he did (there are shitloads of missionaries in the reservations))).
One of the Navajo boys asked what the lesson was. Fundie boy answered that there is no lesson, it is the real history of the earth. I fought back my laughter. The Native Americans didn’t. They laughed in his face.
The Ponderer, Mauzzie, muses about the meaning of celebration as a Muslim apostate son of a religious mother contemplating the extent of his social obligations to her religious festivals—in this case the festival of “Eid” (which means “happiness” in Arabic), which he grew up hating:
I refused God long time back. Social obligation, though, is a different story altogether. I know- you don’t have to be a Muslim, to celebrate Eid; just like you don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas. But it hurts my heart to be not able to have control over my choices. I NEED to have a choice to reject or accept religious festivities, just like any cultural one. Eids, thus, continued to be pure torture when I was back home.
Being free from religion in my mind was not enough. I left my country partly to be free from social obligations; so that I am not dragged to the milads, so that I am not made to praise a God when I see a beautiful art rather than the human to painted it. I would like to thank the doctor who saved my life than the God… so that I am not made to bow down and say that things will happen if it is indeed the will of God.
As I was saying- yesterday was Eid. As far as I was concerned, it was just another day for me- a lazy Sunday eating left-overs and chatting over cups of tea and coffee with Crazy and a friend who is staying over at ours. We celebrated too, not Eid- but the freedom to have control over our weekend on an Eid day.
We realize it has been a long walk to this supposedly small personal freedom.
… and it’s priceless.
At The Uncredible Hallq, Chris Hallquist reviews Finding Darwin’s God written by Christian evolutionary biologist Kenneth Miller and comes to the conclusion that it is “one of the more notable attempts to reconcile religion and science.” His final verdict on the book: “surprisingly good, but also reveals just how damn hard the task is.” There are two major problems he nonetheless highlights about the book:
One of those interesting mistakes comes very early in the book, discussing how our scientific understanding of the world works. Miller says that the way we know about what the sun is like depends upon assuming that the laws of physics are the same everywhere, and this is simply an assumption–a “leap of faith.” Miller doesn’t use the “leap of faith” phrase in a pejorative way, but there’s still an issue here: it doesn’t match the actual history of cosmology. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, scientists (and proto-scientists) used to assume that the celestial sphere operated under radically different laws than the earthly sphere, and they did so with good reason: superficially, they appear radically different. The heavenly bodies move around in simple, regular patterns unlike anything that the ancient Greeks or Medievals could find on Earth. Only once Newton showed that you could use the same mechanical laws to explain both the motion of the planets and earthly ballistics did scientists begin to suspect that that’s how everything works. And as Miller himself shows through the sun example (which is wonderfully well explained), that assumption gives us results that “merge into a tight and consistent web of theory and phenomena.”
one of the reasons I’m skeptical about attempts to reconcile science and religion is that pro-science believers seem to be so half-hearted about it. They say they accept the conclusions of such-and-such scientific discipline, and then throw a fit every time they’re reminded that science has pushed God out of those areas. Even scientists who have been relatively kind to religion, get this: Carl Sagan caught flak for casually mentioning in The Demon Haunted World that scientific medicine is more reliable than prayer. The message from people like Miller seems to be: we’ll accept the findings of science, just don’t remind us what they are.
The whole review is worth the read.
I don’t ask all of these questions rhetorically. I’d really like to know what others think. I, myself, am guilty of feeling pleased, perhaps in an act of self-righteous justification, when I read about court decisions that interpret the First Amendment the way I think it should be interpreted, despite the fact that somewhere, there is a person who lost that case who cared deeply about it. Do I owe that person a modicum of respect? Do I really disrespect that person or show some sort of evil “true colors” if I choose to cheer when I think justice has been done and freedom from religion is further secured? With these thoughts I am struck.
You heard the man, he wants your opinion! What are you still doing here?? Go to State of Protest and offer him your two cents so he knows whether to exult or shrug already! He needs your help, he’s crying for it, how could you be so cold as to deny it to him??? I don’t even know the answer to his question about what our obligations entail in the scenarios he describes, but I do have enough compassion in my heart to know you need to go help him. Ahem. What are you still doing reading this paragraph? Shouldn’t you have left already? Don’t worry, we’ll pause the carnival and resume it when you come back. You must come back of course. We’re far from done here.
Welcome back! Now Greg Laden of the sublimely named Greg Laden’s Blog wants your opinion too!
Imagine finding the following quote on the wall of your teenage child’s social studies classroom: “‘No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.’—George H.W. Bush” What would you do?
You heard the man, he wants your opinion! What are you still doing here?? Etc, etc. you know the drill. Really. Go on ahead and give him Your Thoughts. We’ll still be here when you’re done.
The first method of infection is through conditioning or repetition. By hearing something repeated numerous times, it begins to infiltrate into our brains “programming”.
The next method is through cognitive dissonance; the uncomfortable feeling people have when they try to hold two or more incompatible ideas in their mind at one time. Our minds struggle to make sense and will seek some sort of rationalization to resolve the difference. Religion provides many examples such as: god will punish you if you do not follow the rules of your religion combined with the message that god loves you. This cognitive dissonance is sometimes resolved in believers’ minds by resorting to marginalization even to the point of violence towards those who do not follow your religion
The third way new memes enter our minds is by taking advantage of our human nature to instill a meme in the manner of the Trojan horse. Because of our nature we tend to pay special attention to certain things such as danger warnings, cries of children, and sexual attractiveness. Fear and sex are two of the most popular tools used in marketing.
God has delivered a postcard to Ken Ham which is being showcased and I can only imagine being protected day and night by an elite guard priests with ninja skills at “Gone Fishin’: Postcards From God”. The Almighty Himself writes,
There comes a time in every “father” and “son” relationship when the “father” must tell the “son” some difficult things.
now the time has come for Me to sit you down and have a difficult talk. Well… I say “talk”, but I learned My lesson with Hippy Jesus and now I just fire off a postcard. While I’m at it, I should point out that when I say “father and son relationship”, I’m being metaphorical and ineffable at the same time. Don’t get any crazy ideas that you’re some sort of illegitimate, backstairs sprog, demi-gawd sort of thing. You’re not.
Michael Fridman presents “a parable about the problem of evil inspired by the biblical Job himself” entitled, The Tale of the Bad Workplace (Job 23-24) and posted at a Nadder! The parable depicts a company run into the ground in which employees are even subjected to daily violence. The company’s owner justifies the insanity he permits on the grounds that he does not want to meddle with his employees’ freedoms. In reply his uncle retorts:
“If a person cannot come into work every day without worrying about being raped, tortured and killed, what kind of ‘freedom to choose their course of action’ are you referring to?”
“But a lot of good can come even out of such terrible things. Just last week, Anderson came up with a new way to save on deliveries, after having to deliver tasers to her team for protection from attackers.”
“So if attackers bring out the best in your employees why don’t you just go hire some more yourself?”
Hey, do you remember the other day when you saw Glenn Beck out of left field blame atheists for everything wrong in America? Remember how we were scapegoated for gang violence that had nothing to do with atheism whatsoever? Remember thinking to yourself, there’s so much stupid in this that it would take at least 12 points and 1,605 words to articulate the mere tip of the iceberg of everything wrong here and I don’t have the energy to deal with all the blood curdling that would happen as I endured thinking of Glenn Beck the entire time it took to type even that much out? Well, Transplanted Lawyer has graciously taken one for the team and cathartically spelled out the ABC’s of stupid found in Beck’s rant for us. Below is just the outline of his detailed refutation, Glenn Beck Spews A Densely-Packed Set Of Hysterical Lies posted at Not A Potted Plant:
1. “In God We Trust” appears on all the money, you lying sack of shit. I defy you — I challenge you to swear to forfeit on that immortal soul that you believe in — to produce a single piece of U.S. tender in circulation that does not contain, somewhere on it, the phrase “In God We Trust.”
2. The Decalogue is allowed in courthouses. Sometimes — when it’s part of an artistic display about the law and history. We are, on our public buildings, allowed to acknowledge the role of the Ten Commandments as part of our cultural and legal history. When the Decalogue is offered for religious indoctrination, however, that violates something inherently American, specifically, the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. You should read it sometime.
3. You can pray in school.
4. What court, what political institution, what police officer, what legislation, what rule, what anything stops you from singing a Christmas Carol where and when you want to?
5. Aren’t these Americans who have the Constitutional* right to be atheists if they want? Why, then, do you object to Americans using their freedom, Glenn Beck? What is it about liberty that offends you so very much?
6. To suggest that atheists have a “void” in their lives is condescending in the extreme.
7. To further suggest that atheists fill the “void” in their lives with “power, career, money, celebrities, politics, government” is even more ridiculous.
8. “Why do you think we are as powerful as we are, or as we have been?” Several answers here, Glenn, which need to be examined together.
9. When he asks, “What did we do different than other countries?” Beck cannot be seriously suggesting that other nations throughout history have been irreligious.
10. And that reference to the “Creator” in the Declaration of Independence — who, exactly would that be? It’s not like Jefferson didn’t know about the Christian diety when he wrote it. T.J. could just as easily have written “All men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights” but he used the phrase “their Creator” instead.
11. Nor does the failure of other countries to adopt some version of this language mean that they necessarily believe that human rights are dispensed by the government.
12. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is…not the national anthem and I’d resist efforts to make it the national anthem.
For blasphemy day Cubik’s Rube, at the fittingly named Cubik’s Rube, scandalously crosses the line—with a Z and then adds an O at the top and adds a little upside down v to make for a cute little dancing Mohammed pictue that looks like this:
And then he goes on to explain that the point about blasphemy day is not that offending people is no big deal but that it’s a big deal that things which shouldn’t even be offensive are being denounced as “blasphemy” across the world and threatening people’s lives:
What some religious people deem unacceptable – even what they deem punishable by death – doesn’t even come close to being hate speech. You really don’t have to try very hard to offend millions of people, and if you’re just speaking freely without “respecting” their made-up nonsense the way they want you to, it’s not up to you to tread oh so carefully to avoid bruising any delicate egos.
Yes, being irreverent and satirical can often overflow into being an obnoxious ass for no good reason. But going not an inch further than “calling attention to Biblical, Koranic or scientific criticisms” in a rigorously scientific way, as this article suggests, is too much to ask. Some times it’s entirely appropriate to say, “You and your holy book want me dead if I don’t fall in step? Well fuck you, and fuck your god.” We’re not being the first to trample the line of civility.
Elsewhere, Cubik revels in the joys of Christmas as an atheist and makes me surprisingly nostalgic and eager for some Christmas in October:
I’ll take a pass on the worship, but look forward to putting on a compilation CD with some choirs singing Silent Night. Yes please to the angel on the tree, the rousing harmonies of O Come All Ye Faithful, and Elf ; no thanks to the eggnog, chestnuts, nativity plays, and “remembering the true meaning” of anything. I’ll wish people a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holidays, and whatever other festive greeting they’d prefer. I’ll revel in Christmas spirit, and I’ll co-opt whatever sacred traditions I damn well please.
I can even use the obvious Tiny Tim reference as a sign-off, and not care about the faultiness of the premise: God bless us, every one.
Phil B., who is decidedly for Humanity, presents takes a stand against superstition, he shall indulge none of it:
when I hear someone repeating superstitious nonsense, I always reply with one of these sayings: “superstition is not logical” or “please stop spreading your outdated beliefs”.
If enough people also do this, then superstitions will become extinct as they should be.
Either that or there will be a superstition that it’s bad luck to tell people to give up their superstitions and Phil’s going to be told he has bad luck an awful lot. Which, ironically, will actually be bad luck. Sorry Phil!
Jim Linville does his usual job of filling a post to the brim with great pictures and cartoons, this time as part of coverage of the Calgary Zoo controversy over an elephant statue modeled off Ganesh: He has an excellent and thorough post that explores all the various aspects of the issue. Forgive me for boiling it down to only one of his pictures. This is his take on the fundamentalist Christians’ position in a nutshell:
Jim’s blog is Dr. Jim’s Thinking Shop & Tea Room, go there.
Antiquities is a book in 20 volumes written by Titus Flavius Josephus. In it, the Jews wander around killing people most of the time. Occasionally, someone will do something arguably moral and the bloodbath stops temporarily to allow the reader to learn a little bit more about that particular Jew. Other than that, it’s pretty much just a bunch of murderous Jews who don’t know how to read a map.
The author, Josephus, was a first-century Roman Jew whose accounts of the destruction of Rome, the Jewish revolts against Rome and the partially-fictional history of the Jews all the way back to Adam and Eve are well worth a read.
Because Josephus is such a respected name in the history of historians, the Christians have raped his most famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, so that they could attach his name to their theology and make the Jesus myth more convincing by association.
The problem is, Christians–at least the ones who go around doctoring manuscripts–are borderline retarded. Out of the two possible references to Jesus Christ of Nazareth in Antiquities, one of them has been revealed as a transparent forgery since the 1600s. By the middle of the 1700s, no one took that passage seriously. Now, all of a sudden, the Christians are waving this same passage around as if it was some sort of clinching evidence that a god exists and he sent himself to Earth 2,000 years ago to give a very vague message to a bunch of illiterate desert folk. It makes me wonder if any Christian who trumpets the name Josephus proudly in debates has ever read Antiquities.
The other reference to Jesus is most likely accurate. It mentions a Jesus (a common name for that region and time) who was called Christ (a common claim among loonies of that region and time), but only in passing as the brother of James (another common name), who is the pertinent character of the two brothers to that story. Wow! I’m convinced already!
Andrew Bernardin of Evolving Mind shares my personal irritation at people who try to make up for their disbelief by trying to fall all over themselves about thinking Jesus is nonetheless an incredibly cool cat. Andrew provides a helpful compendium of quotes from the Biblical accounts of Jesus which make the point that Jesus does not really “deserve to be granted an honorary doctorate in advanced humanity.” So you can either go look up Matthew 5:22, 8:21-22, 10:34, 11:25, 12:47; Luke 12:47, 12:49, 18:29-30, 13:3, 16:15, 14:26; and John 6:54-56 for yourself to track down the uncensored Jesus that Christians don’t want you to see or you can go over to Evolving Mind where Andrew’s typed them all up for you! And while you’re visiting Andrew’s site, his attack on the charge of scientism is among the several other really great posts worth reading too.
Archvillain rants and raves about the threat from curiosity hating theocrats at A Dark and Sinister Force for Good, and along the way reminds of us of this classic joke:
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?” He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?” He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum“, and pushed him off.
Finally a few things I’d like to highlight which were not submitted for the carnival officially.
If you don’t already read Peaceful Atheist then you need to stop that. Stop not reading her. Seriously. You have a problem. And you need to admit it. Your problem is all your not reading of Peaceful Atheist. Here she is describing an encounter with a freaking necklace so beautifully that it almost makes you cry and begin to believe in Not-God. It makes you believe in Peaceful Atheist:
While I was in the city last week I went to the Anchorage Museum of Art and History.
I’ve really missed going to museums so it was a treat. One of the art exhibits wasEarth, Fire and Fibre, an exhibition of crafts, fabric and metal arts—things like quilts, silk scarves, jewelry, and pottery. I’m not usually into this kind of art, but it was really well done. One item that caught my eye was a necklace made of intricate beaded charms embellishing a thick chain. When I looked closer, I saw that the chain was actually a chain saw blade. That totally blew me away. It struck me as a completely genius piece of art. The necklace was part of a collection of 3 necklaces and a purse made out of materials like drill bits, high caliber bullets, and a pair of scissors used as a pendant.
A rare few pieces of art possess something that makes me feel like I am connected to it. They almost punch me in the chest with the force of their profundity, like a realization that they contain something that is also in my heart. The deep undercurrent of thought in that necklace is the kind of thinking with which I aspire to live and view the world.
Finally, I want to salute one of the atheist blogosphere’s bigger stars for a terrific month of activism and blogging. Jennifurret McCreight of Blaghag has kept something of a must-read running chronicle of one activist atheist college student’s relentless efforts to wake her school from its dogmatic slumbers. Her Society of Non-Theists ran a “Blasphemy Day” free speech event in which students could write anything they wanted about any topics on poster boards that filled up quickly. And they even got good press for it. Before that she attended a Christian propaganda event on campus denouncing pornography and wound up with her site becoming a battleground for war between her commentators and the people who ran the event after they found her blog posting on-line. She also gave a lecture about her “Creation Museum” trip, which drew the attention of Ken Ham himself. Later the Hamster posted a review from a pastor who was in attendance.
But the real highlight was their “Pastafarian Preaching in honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day,” which experience she encapsulated for us in this great video:
And during the time since the last carnival of the godless, the online atheist community shattered a milestone by not only passing 1,000 members on the Atheist Blogroll but hitting 1,030 already! In celebration Mojoey dusted off a great tribute to the blogroll made by the ever-terrific blogger TooManyTribbles a couple years back:
Last but I certainly hope not least, there is this post, “Camels With Hammers Philosophy” wherein I summarize almost all my major ideas pieces on philosophy, atheism, and ethics and provide links to all the pieces where I spell out each idea. I hope when you recover from this long carnival you will take some time to peruse my ideas using either this “Camels With Hammers Philosophy” post or the rather thorough list of links found down the right hand column of the blog as your guide. Then remember to subscribe with your feed reader of choice and to follow us on Twitter at “CamelsHammers”.
In closing, I have to sincerely thank so many great bloggers for so many great contributions to this carnival. I was really impressed and found at least a couple blogs I’m sure I’ll keep an eye on in the future. Click here to have one of your articles appear in the next “Carnival of the Godless.”