Monday, October 8, 2007

What's in a name?

I haven't blogged in a bit, so I thought I'd do so. Today's blog may not be as heated or vehement as the rest of my blogs have been thus far. I'm in more of a contemplative mood than an angry or critical mood today. I read Sam Harris' speech that he gave at the Atheist Alliance gathering in D.C. a week or so ago. Apparently he incited some anger with this speech and if not anger, a lot of debate at least.

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 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?