Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I mean seriously, can anyone answer this? If you can, by all means do! I just don't see how it will ever be resolved. I mean, short of one of us deciding to change our minds about our views, I don't know what to do besides completely avoid the subject and those related. Of course, intuitively, that doesn't seem like any way to have a relationship, right? I know couples have their differences and all, but what do you do when it's a MAJOR difference? Especially what do you do when you love the person and you don't want to have to break up? I think that what makes it so bad or such a major difference is that both of us feel like the other's feelings infringe upon our own. I don't know how to solve it. If this were a test, I would fail, because I'm coming up with nothing. I don't even know when or where or how to start. I don't know.
Ok, I can't come up with anything else, so I guess that's all I have to say on that subject.
If any of you were wondering (which I'm positive that no one was wondering), but just for that infinitesimally small fraction of a chance that you were, I haven't been writing lately because there are too many things to be angry about and I quite simply just can't keep up. I mean, with teachers being threatened with death for naming a fucking teddy bear Mohammad to Texas education officials being fired for promoting SCIENCE to children's books being labeled as atheist propaganda, I just don't have enough time or anger to go around. That bumper sticker that says "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention" is damn right. I would like to go on a rant right now, but I can't decide what to rant about because there are SO MANY THINGS going freaking wrong in the world. Maybe I'm just too pessimistic and I need to be trying to focus on the good things going on in the world and all the charities that are doing positive things for Christmas, etc. Is there a website that only posts good news? If there is, I certainly haven't found it. Then again, if everyone were apathetic the world would probably be a much more deplorable place than it is now.
At any rate, that's all for now.
***Disclaimer: To anyone reading this blog entry, I mean what I say how I mean it and I take no responsibility if you interpret it incorrectly. If you want to know what I mean, ask. If you think that I meant something in a particular way, but you would hope not or you wouldn't think that I would be someone to think that way, please ask and I shall clarify. Thank you. ***
Monday, October 8, 2007
The main point of the speech was that he didn't think that we non-believers should have a name, any name. Not atheists, free thinkers, rationalists, humanists, secularists, etc. For instance, you generally don't give other people who aren't something a name (non-astrologer was the example he gave). And also hinted that atheism should be ubiquitous and therefore not even a real concept (except historically, of course). This is entirely too idealistic, of course. I agree that I think the world would be all the more beautiful without religion and without concept of god, but it isn't going to happen anytime in the near future and efforts towards that now would be futile and only anger those who are religious (and sometimes those people happen to be our friends and loved ones). I think the best we can do now is to accept that religion isn't leaving anytime soon and try to use reason wherever possible.
What I think is a more realistic goal as far as the naming of our group is to continue to call ourselves atheists (that's what we are after all, without god) and at the present, there is a need for the concept...or if you want to go around manipulating Latin and Greek I suppose you could call us adeistic...at any rate, the word atheist needs to be re-connotated. People should be educated that atheist is not congruent with genocidal maniac, which is what many people think now. I'll admit that I myself didn't necessarily associate it with genocidal maniacs, but I certainly thought of it as a very dark and gruesome concept until I became educated about it and realized that there were all of these wonderful and intelligent people who are atheists and that it was ok to call myself that. That's what we need to show the world. That is a more realistic and achievable goal.
I do think, though, that the fact that his speech elicited an angry response in a group of people who are supposed to be known for their critical thinking skills is a bit amusing, but also frightening, especially when Sam Harris is supposed to be an applauded authority on the subject. Anyway, it shouldn't make anyone angry, it should just initiate some new thoughts, which is good. So I'm applauding Sam Harris for making people think and for continuously exploring new thoughts and ideas.
On a completely unrelated note, my job has been entirely too stressful today. They definitely don't pay me enough to put up with this kind of crap. Compliance assistance is BS! I've gone out of my way to try and help this facility and their consultant out and they've done nothing but been adverse to everything and caused me to do entirely too much unnecessary work! Yuck.
On another completely unrelated note, I'm getting a new car which is really exciting, but I can't decide which one I want. What do you think? Honda Civic, Volkswagen Rabbit, or Scion tC?
Monday, September 24, 2007
I started thinking about all of this because I read an article from a British newspaper that asserted that there had been a recent rise in religion and that the Richard-Dawkins-esque atheists and scientists only had themselves to blame because they lumped the moderates and fundamentalists into one large group and ostracized them all. Incidentally, I do think that advances in science may have caused people to cling tighter to their religion, but I don't think it has anything to do with atheists trying to get people to use reason and use their brains. It is also a misrepresentation to say that Dawkins or anyone Dawkins-esque lumps those who are religious all in one big group of enmity. I believe it was the Bible that said something to the effect of "You're either with me or your against me", not Richard Dawkins. I also think it would be a misrepresentation to insinuate that Dawkins views the religious (moderate or fundamentalist) as his enemies, despite how heated any debate may have become. I think the source of the heat is the frustration he and any free thinker feels when confronted with circular arguments which are so often used by the religious and theologians.
I think part of the recent rise in religion (if there truly is a rise) could also go back to what I was asserting about religion earlier. Some people (fundamentalists) have to immerse themselves in their religion in order to keep believing and part of that immersion is to try and convince other people to believe. I think that would be a very powerful way to maintain faith. "If I can convince this other person that it's true, then it must be true," and not only that, but they must maintain the faith so as not to let the converted person down.
I think I have decided, though, that I could live happily in this world with the religious if there were no fundamentalists (especially those who want creationism taught in science class) and the religious left me alone and respected my non-religious lifestyle and considered me equal. That is, of course, entirely too idealistic. It will never happen. There are many things in the world that are this way; that would be great, but will never happen. World peace, for example, will never happen. Why can't we all just get along?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
On to the part about federal involvement: The reason that I think federal involvement is necessary is because many times people refuse to do the right thing. This has been demonstrated in the past and it is being demonstrated currently. Examples include slavery and segregation. On occasion people are so stubborn and prejudiced that they will not do the right thing without being forced. This is when the federal government needs to step in and intervene. Such is the case with things today such as evolution and creationism and gay civil unions. People seem to have such a hard time with whether or not these things are right are wrong, but I guess I don't. To me, it is clear that gay people should be able to be in the same kind of relationships as straight people and have the same kind of rights associated with civil unions such as insurance, etc. It is also very clear to me that children should be exposed to important scientific theories such as the big bang and evolution because denying them that is denying them the right to learn which defeats the purpose of going to school. I'm going to have to finish this later.
Friday, September 7, 2007
I was raised in the Lutheran Church. Everyone was pretty liberal with their Christianity, but they still attended church, sang in the choir, and sent their children to Catechism in 7th and 8th grades. Catechism was where I began to have my doubts. We were taught that Christians were God's chosen ones who would be admitted to heaven and that all others were pretty much screwed. At that point, I was very troubled. I thought to myself that since heaven was the most wonderful place imaginable, that there had to be a fair way to get into heaven and that it wasn't fair for the people of other faiths. These people of other faiths were brought up to have that different faith and being brought up in a faith was the way you came by having a particular faith. It just wasn't fair and I just refused to believe that all of these other people were going to hell just for believing something different. I even asked our pastor about it during one of our classes. I don't remember what he said, but I feel sure he most likely just shrugged his shoulders. At that point I decided that I was still Christian, but that as long as you believed in just one God, you could still get into heaven. I even asked my Mom about it and she agreed that it wasn't fair and that belief in God was sufficient. I remained "Christian" throughout high school.
I then went off to college and decided on Biology for my major. At one point I changed my major to dance, but eventually found my way back to Biology. At some point early in my scientific study in college I decided that I just couldn't believe in the "Jesus Story" anymore. We were taught about the scientific method and shown how so many miracles could be explained by science and it just became impossible for me to know all this and still believe that the miracles surrounding Jesus were true. I remained in this agnostic purgatory for the next couple of years and neither accepted nor rejected any of the other tenets of faith besides the "Jesus Story".
I then was finally forced to take history as a required core class. This class changed my life. The course covered pre-history up until the Roman Empire. I had a most wonderful professor who was head of the history department and just knew so much about history. I drank every word he spoke and never missed a single class (well, except on a test day during the Nutcracker performance which I told my professor about in advance). I wrote down EVERYTHING and the more I learned the more apparent it was that all of the religions in the world fed off of each other and were founded in similar places and beliefs and that none of them were true. Each was just as mythical as the next.
Somewhere during this time I returned to thinking about heaven and hell and decided that I just couldn't believe in either. I decided that no God that I believed in would be so childish as to send someone to hell for a minor "sin" (as I had no other word for it, I suppose you could call it a moral indiscretion) and that the only way you could go to hell was to commit a major "sin" (i.e. murder, rape, etc.). The problem arose when thinking about that because I thought that the only people who had the capacity to commit such heinous sins were people who had true mental imbalances and God certainly wouldn't send someone to hell for a mental imbalance that the person had no control over and was a biological condition. I also thought that the amount of suffering that some of these people went through that caused their mental imbalances should more than make up for their random heinous acts. It has been shown that many people who turn out to be murderers and rapists are horribly abused as children and such grief can trigger a mental condition, such as schizophrenia, that might lead them to commit a heinous "sin". Others, who weren't subjected to abuse, but still committed the sins were psychopaths who have no conscience and are suffering from a mental imbalance as well. Therefore, I just didn't believe that there was a hell, because I ruled out all of the people who could be sent there. I then decided that there was no method to the madness, so to speak, and that if there were no hell, then there wasn't a heaven, either.
Some of my friends used to say jokingly that I was Jewish since I didn't believe that Jesus really existed, but after my history class and decision about heaven and hell, I decided that I couldn't believe a single word from the Bible (Old Testament or New Testament) and after all the science I'd had, a Messiah coming to Earth seemed no more likely now than it did during Jesus's time. The only thing I hadn't dismissed was the idea of God.
Dismissing the idea of God only came to me more recently. I teeter-tottered for a while between believing in God and believing that there was no way to tell, so no reason to believe one way or another. I then decided to read Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell. It was in reading about the universe, that I had never really studied about before, that I found that, for me, there was just no room for God in the fabric of the universe. I have since decided that I am an atheist. I think I had lingered around it for a while, but I was afraid because the word carries such a negative connotation. I now know, though, that you can be an atheist and still be a very moral, honest person and lead a very fulfilled life by helping others. I am not scared of death because I know that by the time I die I will have done enough to be satisfied with myself. I have also been reading Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion and find that there are many other ideas that comfort me. I don't really think that there is a God, but I won't dismiss it 100% and I feel certain that since I have led a pretty decent life and intend on helping and have helped others, that if there is a God he/she/it would still accept me because of my good deeds and rational thinking.
I'll leave you with a quote from the deconversion story I was reading about what the author would like to ask God if he decided to reveal himself:
I'd want to ask him: "Why did you wait so long to make your existence
indisputable, to display your awesome powers, and to deal definitively with the
problems of disease, disaster and suffering to the solution of which compassionate
mortals have dedicated their lives through the centuries?"
This is where it gets tricky though. What do you do about the people who are so fundamentally religious that they want to home school their children or send them to a private school where all of the subjects have some correlation with the Bible or Koran or whatever religious text the particular religion refers to? I don't know. Do you force all schools, even private schools and home schools, to teach a federally mandated science program? I know there are many who are opposed to anymore federal involvement on the local level, but how else do you make sure that kids, whose minds are so impressionable, are exposed to the things they need to be exposed to? I think this is the only way.
Some people who are done with school and are religious can be persuaded and educated out of their myth-believing, but many will never let go of their faith. I think the only way to work our way out of this religion dominated world is to work on the children. Realistically speaking, I think the only way is federal intervention. Of course, this may never happen since politicians are just as pervaded by religion as the rest of the population especially on certain sides of the spectrum. It's very frustrating not to be able to affect the masses. I wish that I could.
My only other option is to try to be as tolerant as possible and not put myself in positions where I wouldn't be able to bite my tongue. The situation I'm in now is definitely teaching me patience and tolerance. I've recently met a lot of fundamentalist Christians who are all very nice people and I'm pretty sure that they think I'm nice as well. I wonder what they would say if they knew I am an atheist? Would they still think I'm nice or would they call me a Jezebel and condemn me to hell? I felt very awkward when the conversation started to wander into the Christian direction (which it did quite often). I'm sure that my opinions would have fallen on deaf ears. I don't know exactly how to deal with it since it is important to me that these people like me. It's definitely not a situation I'm used to dealing with. I'm used to dealing with people who consider themselves Christian, but who are a little more laid back about it. It's not fun pretending to be something you're not, though, but I fear that this is the only way to keep everything calm. I guess the only way to do it is to convince them all that I am a nice person and keep religion separate from that and then "come out" when the time is right. I still fear that they would just dismiss me no matter how many acts of kindness I had shown them. But I guess that's something that's out of my control and that I can't spend too much time worrying about. I don't know how else to deal with it. I don't want to lose someone from my life because of this, though. That's my biggest fear about all of this and motivation for faking it indefinitely. Anyway, this is getting too heavy.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
How is it that men think they have any right at all to tell women or even express an opinion about whether or not she should or shouldn't be able to have an abortion? It always outrages me when I see men commenting about abortion (especially in the negative, but even in the positive) because a man will never, ever know what it feels like to fear being pregnant/be pregnant/endure labor and delivery. Never. So how can they possibly comment with any real weight?
If you look at the biology of abortion, though, it doesn't even make sense that people should be against it, at least not when it's done early in the pregnancy (I know, I know, what constitutes early?). Anyway, early on, it's just a cluster of cells that have the POTENTIAL to become a human, but if you're going to make that argument, then so do sperm and ova and we kill those cells all the time. Haploid cells aren't afforded the same rights as diploid cells? I mean if we're giving clusters of cells rights now, then what about the haploid cells? Why shouldn't they have the same rights as the diploids? I think we should start a civil rights movement on behalf of the haploid cells. WTF?!? Sometimes I hate people so much. I alternate between empathy and loathing. DON'T COMMENT SO VEHEMENTLY ON SOMETHING YOU'RE NOT QUALIFIED TO COMMENT ON!!! (i.e. a man commenting on abortion) AND IF YOU'RE DETERMINED TO COMMENT ON IT, AT LEAST DO SOME SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ABOUT IT SO YOU'RE MAKING A SOMEWHAT EDUCATED COMMENT!!! That is all.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I think the main issue is that religion IS a security blanket. People really don't realize that they can still be good, morally responsible people without religion. Well, that, and that they find comfort in the thought of God and not being all alone in this giant universe. I must admit that giving up on the idea of God, as we generally think of him, can feel disheartening. I mean, all the times that you're so upset that you're inconsolable and you talk to God in your head and somehow find comfort; it's a little sad to think that no one is really listening. I'm ok with it now, though. I am my own therapist. It's never really done me any good to keep everything inside my head, anyway. I've always felt the need to get the thoughts out whether it be expressing them to a friend or on paper or in a blog. It's always given me a sense of relief to get it out. So letting go of a personal God, for me, wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, once I had done it.
Then all that's left is the universe and whether or not something with some level of consciousness purposefully created the universe and if that did indeed happen, was there any need for this something to exist any longer than it took to create the universe. One thing I definitely think to be true is that if that something (God) does exist, it definitely exists somewhere other than the space-time fabric of the universe or another dimension that is currently not detectable or definable at this point.
And if God does exist and did create the universe, did he have any intentions? Did he really intend for people to evolve? It seems highly unlikely that our ordinary little solar system is the only one in the entire universe to have a planet that has life on it. So if God did create the universe and did intend for people to eventually evolve, does that mean that all the other planets that have life on them are exactly like ours and have or will have people on them, too? I find that most unlikely. What are the chances that on another planet, that life once again evolved in a precise enough way to yield humans? A planet that most likely isn't the exact same as ours? The differences could be ever so subtle (but most likely would not be subtle) and cause evolution to proceed in such a different fashion that the result may be barely recognizable to us. If it is ever determined that we are indeed the only planet in the whole universe that supports life, then I may have to completely rethink all of this, but I'm not very worried that that will happen. Anyway, these thought have led me to conclude that if there was/is a God, he didn't have intentions, he only had laws: the laws of science, nature, physics, the cosmos, whatever you want to call them.
Now for a little lesson on genetics and evolution for those of you who aren't science people:
There's a principle called the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium which describes genetics in populations of organisms that lead to evolution. In order for evolution NOT to occur, these are the things that must NOT happen:
- Mutation (everyone knows what this is, I won't explain)
- Gene Flow: If Members of a particular population breed with animals of a different population of the same species, the gene pool will be different for the two sets, therefore introducing variation into the population.
- Genetic Drift: Since members of the population cannot breed with a different gene pool (because it violates the previous rule), their genes will have certain tendencies and as time goes on, percentages of these traits/genes will steadily rise or drift.
- Non-random Mating: Members of the population must mate completely randomly and not be able to be choosy about their sexual partners. (Who expects that to actually occur? haha)
- Natural Selection: Certain combinations of genes tend to work out better than others, causing the poor combination of genes to die out.
At any rate, this is something to chew on. To me, the likelihood of none of these things occurring is about 0%, so I must conclude that we evolve and that different combinations of these principles will cause different outcomes of evolution.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Since this is my first official blog, I will just say that I stole the title of my blog from Harry Potter (Rita Skeeter's book in the 7th Harry Potter). Anyone who is an avid Harry reader will know what I'm talking about, but that's neither here nor there. There aren't really any lies here.
On to the all important blog...or rant, more like...
I guess I'm in the anger phase of becoming an atheist. The Christian religion just makes me so angry. I just don't understand how people believe that crap. I mean, we are taught to question everything and that the stuff in fairytales is made up and that none of the stuff in them is possible in real life (for instance, you'll never kiss a toad or frog and have him turn into the most scintillatingly hot man you'll ever meet) and no one questions that. That being said, we're supposed to turn around and believe all the crazy fairytales of the Bible? Not very many people actually believe that miracles like the ones in the Bible could happen currently, so why should we believe these things could happen a long time ago? Does separating the miracles by a couple thousand years automatically make them legitamate? Hell no!
I mean, think about it. If some guy walked around, now, proclaiming that he is the son of God, what would happen? He'd be thrown in the looney-bin and prescribed a handful of anti-psychotics, and the people who threw him there are probably the ones claiming that Jesus will return. I guess that's essentially what happened then, except that there was no looney-bin or anti-psychotics, there was death on a cross. So what makes that story any different from the ones that are happening now? There are plenty of lunatics running around who have accumulated a few followers and claiming that they are the son of God or a prophet or whatever. What makes it different now? Nothing makes it different, it was just as insane then as it is now.
Not to mention, people believed plenty of things in Biblical times that have since been completely debunked by science, so what makes this Jesus story different? Why does it get to be the only story immune to skepticism? And for Christ's sake (oh, the irony!), don't say that's the point of faith! That's just a cop out answer to avoid having to use your brain!
And say that I did decide to believe in God and Religion. Which religion do I pick? What makes one crazy story prevail over another? It's all pointless.
As for God, now that we know to some extent how big the universe is, why are we so conceited to think that if there is a God, that that God is concerned with the meddlings of a single species on a single planet? This species also happens to be destroying the only planet they currently have to inhabit. If there is or ever was a God, that god isn't concerned with us. He isn't personal and he never "spoke" to anyone on this planet, ever. Not by burning bush, not by angel, not by vision did this God ever speak to anyone if he even exists.
I'm so sick of Christianity being shoved down my throat at every turn. And if I say, "I'm an atheist, please keep your religion out of our conversations," then suddenly I'm labeled with a stigma and people start wispering behind my back and avoiding me like I'm a leper. Why can't I be morally responsible without being Christian? Why can't I have a sense of morality without having religion? I know plenty of examples of Christians who did horrible things and had a skewed sense of morality as well as I know examples of Atheists who have kind hearts and have done good things. I just want to be able to be who I am and openly believe what I believe without being ridiculed and I shall afford Christians (and other people of differing religions) the same respect.
My main point is: If I have to be respectful of other people and their religion(s), then conversely, they must be respectful of me and my lack of religion, and since no religion anywhere has proven itself to be the true religion, we must live in a completely secular society in order to avoid offending one another, if for no other reason.
*Disclaimer: I know that it may sound as if I'm ridiculing Christians when I end up saying that I want respect and shall provide respect, which sounds awfully hypocritical. I was, rather, merely expressing my opinions about how I came to be an atheist and my frustrations at not being able to be this openly. The point of blogging, after all, is to get things off your chest, and maybe even resolve something in your head, which I succeeded in doing in this blog.