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Friday, 28 July 2017

HOW TO BE AN ATHEIST

I've always thought religion is bad for you, religions are a mind-constriction, and only create frustration and castration — on this I certainly agree with the likes of Christopher Hitchens (R.I.P.), Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, et al

However, on the existence of God and/or the beginning of the Universe... well, that's another matter.
There are no certainties, nobody can assert with absoluteness the existence or non-existence of someone/something that has no physical correspondence in "reality". We cannot prove with certainty that the Big Bang occurred and was the actual spark originating the Universe and, besides, this heory has  become one of the liveliest areas in the discourse between science and religion, one side affirming that the Big Bang implies a creator (some see its mention in their holy books!) while the other argues that Big Bang cosmology makes the notion of a creator superfluous.


With this said, leaving aside any philosophical speculation on proving God's existence, lets hear the other side — the atheistic side, on a light note though... otherwise I'll get a headache 🙎

💮
First comes Austin Cline, from ThoughtCo (Humanities: Religion & Spirituality). He has been actively involved in educating people about atheism, agnosticism, and secular humanism on the Internet for over 15 years.Austin Cline was a Regional Director for the Council for Secular Humanism and a former Publicity Coordinator for the Campus Freethought Alliance. Austin has also lectured on religion, religious violence, science, and skepticism. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts from Princeton University. He also studied for one year each at the University of Zurich and the Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich, Germany. In America, Germany, and Switzerland, Austin has studied both religion and philosophy.He says that both atheism and agnosticism are neglected in popular culture, despite the popularity of recent books by atheists. When was the last time you saw an openly atheist politician, an article on atheism in a major periodical, or anyone discussing secular humanism as a serious alternative to religion?
So, here he goes...
DO YOU WANT TO BE AN ATHEIST?

So, do you want to be an atheist? Do you really want to be able to call yourself an atheist instead of a theist? If so, then this is the place to come: here you can learn the simple and easy procedure for becoming an atheist. If you read this advice, you'll learn what it takes to be an atheist and thus perhaps if you also have what it takes to be an atheist. Few people seem to understand what being an atheist is all about and thus what becoming an atheist entails.

It isn't that hard, though.

Here are the steps necessary to become an atheist:

Step One: don't believe in any gods.

That's it, there are no steps two, three, or four. All you have to do is not believe in the existence of any gods. None of the following are steps in becoming an atheist:
There are lots of things which people imagine are part of being an atheist, but definitely aren't. Atheism is nothing more or less than the absence of belief in gods. There are only two options available for everyone: either a belief in the existence of some sort of god is present, or no such belief is present.

That exhausts all the logical possibilities. This means that everyone is either a theist or an atheist. There is no "middle ground" where a belief in the existence of some god is a "little bit" there or a "little bit" absent. It's either there or its not.

How you arrive at not believing in any gods may be difficult and will certainly vary from person to person.

For many people, religion and theism have played such central roles in their lives and families that abandoning these things may appear impossible. It may require a great deal of study, research, and contemplation. Many people don't have the time or inclination. Others may be afraid of what they could find if they start.

What you do after you arrive at not believing in any gods may also be difficult, especially if you are surrounded by religion and theistic belief. You don't have to do anything more to be an atheist, but this doesn't mean that there is nothing at all left to do. You will have to decide whether you inform others about this and, if so, how you present it. Many people may start treating you differently simply because you don't believe in their gods anymore. You may have to be concerned about whether knowledge of your atheism will lead to discrimination against you at work, for example.

Being an atheist is easy — all that it requires is not believing in any gods. Existing as an atheist, though, isn’t always easy because so many people think so poorly of atheists. In more secular societies where lots of people are atheists, existing as an atheist will be easier because there is less pressure telling them that being an atheist is immoral, unpatriotic, or dangerous.

In more religious societies, the increased pressure will make existing as an atheist very difficult for some.

He then continues (on another page)...

WHAT ATHEISM IS
by Austin Cline

Atheism is the Absence of Belief in Gods: The broad, simple definition of atheism is simply the absence of belief in gods; atheism is not the absence of beliefs generally. Normally called "weak atheism," this definition is attested to in most comprehensive, unabridged dictionaries, and specialized references.

Disbelief in gods is not the not the same as a belief or as the denial of gods. The lack of a belief isn't the same as having a belief and not believing something is true isn't the same as believing it is not true.

This broad definition of atheism was used by early freethinkers and continues to be used by most contemporary atheist writers. It is also the definition of atheism used consistently throughout this site. Atheists use this broad definition not simply because it's what we find in dictionaries, but because the broad definition is superior. The broad definition helps describe a broader range of possible positions among both atheists and theists. It also underscores the fact that theists are the one making an initial claim. The narrow definition of atheism as denying the existence of gods or asserting that no gods exist is really only relevant in specialized contexts, like philosophical literature.

What it Takes to Be an Atheist: Not much — no faith, no commitments, no declarations. An atheist does need to be godless, though godlessness isn't quite the same as atheism. Not everyone recognizes that there are significant differences among atheists, not just in questions about religion and theism but also in political philosophies and all major political issues.

Why Don't Atheists Believe in God? There are lots of reasons why an atheist might not believe in any gods. There is no one reason for atheism and no one path to atheism. Broadly speaking, though, atheists just don't see any reason to bother believing in any gods.

WHAT ATHEISM IS NOT

Atheism is Not a Religion or Ideology: You can tell when people are getting this wrong because they incorrectly capitalize atheism and atheist in the middle of sentences as if it were a proper noun like Christianity or Muslim. It's not! Atheism isn't any sort of belief, which means that it can't be a belief system, which in turn means it can't possibly be a religion on its own.

Atheism is Not an Absence of Religion: Some atheists make the opposite mistake, thinking that atheism is an absence of religion. As noted above, atheism is simply the absence of gods, not an absence of religion. Atheists can be religious and there are atheistic religions. This is because theism isn't the same as religion.

Atheism and Agnosticism are Not Mutually Exclusive: Many if not most atheists you encounter will also be agnostics; so are some theists. Atheism and agnosticism are about related by separate issues: belief and knowledge (specifically, the lack thereof).

Disbelief in Gods Isn't Another Belief: Many people have the mistaken idea that disbelief in gods is still just another belief. This misconception can be eliminated through a better understanding of the basic terms of debate: belief, knowledge, disbelief, faith, and denial.

Atheism is Not the Same as Communism: You can support communist or socialist politics while being a theist and you can be an atheist who is staunchly opposed to anything and everything even remotely socialistic, never mind communist.

Atheism is Not the Same as Nihilism or Cynicism: Atheists can hold many different philosophies (including nihilism) or attitudes (like cynicism) but they aren't required to hold either of those.

Atheism is Not a Choice or Act of Will: Christianity requires that beliefs be choices in order to treat disbelief as a sin and as deserving punishment, but voluntarism of beliefs makes little sense.

It's more reasonable to view beliefs as forced conclusions from the evidence before us.

Atheism is Not the Cause of Millions of Deaths: The extreme death and destruction caused by theistic religion have led some believers to try to argue that atheism is worse, but while some atheistic philosophies can inspire violence, atheism itself has never done so.

MYTHS ABOUT ATHEISM

There Are Atheists in Foxholes: Not only is it false that life-threatening experiences magically transform atheists into theists, it's easy to find examples of where such experiences cause theists to become atheists.

Atheism Does Not Require Faith: You don't need any sort of "faith" to disbelieve in gods, just as you don't need faith to disbelieve in elves or Darth Vader.

Atheism Does Not Require Omniscience: You don't need to search the contents of the entire universe to have good reason to disbelieve in or even deny the existence of gods

Atheism is Not Incompatible with Morality: There is nothing about morality and ethics which requires the existence of or belief in gods. Secular atheists have no more trouble behaving morally than do religious theists.

Atheists Can Have Meaningful, Loving Lives: No matter how important belief in a god or following a religion may be to believers, secular atheists have no problem living good, meaningful lives without any of that.
Second comes Staks Rosch, a very vocal atheist, humanist, progressive, and Jedi. He is a Philadelphia based writer and a vocal advocate for Humanism, atheism, and reason. He serves as the head of The Philadelphia Coalition of Reason (PhillyCoR) and writes the Dangerous Talk blog on the Skeptic Ink Network and is a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. He has a Master's Degree in Philosophy from West Chester University and is a stay at home dad.

Here's what he says...
5 Pretty Good Reasons to Be an Atheist

by Staks Rosch (huffingtonpost.com)

People love lists. Am I right? So here is a list of five pretty good reasons why you should be an atheist. Now I know I am not going to convince everyone with this list because god-belief has been indoctrinated into our society for a long time and most people have been raised to believe in some deity or another since before they could walk. But here are five reasons you might want to think about that might cause you to rethink your deeply held faith-based convictions and become an atheist.

1. The Bible is ridiculous.

Have you read the Bible? I mean really read it and not just flip around to the pages that your religious leader told you to or watched some mini-series on television telling you their version of the stories. I don’t know why, but those shows always leave out the best parts. Where are the zombies? When Jesus is crucified on the cross the Bible says that there were earthquakes and zombies (Matthew 27:50-53). What television producer in their right mind would leave out the most interesting part of the story? The thing is that the Bible is filled with this stuff like when God sent two bears to maul 42 children for calling a guy, “bald” (2 Kings 2:23-24).

Unfortunately, aside from the surprisingly large number of hilariously ridiculous stories like these, the Bible is pretty boring and that is probably why so few religious believers have ever actually read it. Let me just say this: There is a reason why the Bible is the most recommended book by atheists. That reason is because it is boredom peppered with ridiculousness.

2. We don’t need no stinkin’ deities.

Ever since the enlightenment, religions have been fighting a losing battle against science. God has moved more and more to the gaps of human understanding. There was a time when if humanity didn’t know the answer to one of life’s questions, then God was that answer. That time apparently is still the present but fortunately, science is learning more and more answers. Interestingly enough, God seems to be the answer to less and less questions.

Evolution has explained human origin and the Big Bang explains the origin of the universe. So what role did God play? As we learn more about evolution and the universe, God’s role will no doubt get even more marginalized. The fact is that there really is no role for a deity to play at all. We can just factor out the deity and come up with the same scientific answers.

3. The Problem of Evil
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
— Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.)
Epicurus asked those questions a long time ago and we have yet to hear a valid response from religious leaders. My alleged “Free Will” doesn’t cause hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, nor does God’s alleged “justice” justify any of the horrible suffering and death that people face around the world on a daily basis.

One doesn’t have to go to Africa to see children starving needlessly. Did those kids offend God in some way? Perhaps those kids need to suffer horribly and die to teach us something important. That truly is egotistical, isn’t it? What about all the people who have cancer? Does God have his reasons for torturing them? I would very much like to know what those reasons could possibly be. The Problem of Evil continues to be a pretty good reason to be an atheist.

4. Oh, Hell!

The concept of Hell is probably one of the most disturbing religious ideas ever conceived by man. It was great to strike fear in the hearts of evil doers back in the day, but today our morality has evolved quite a bit. We no longer view women as property nor do we consider slavery a valid business model. Most people recognize that torture is wrong and yet we are expected to believe that some deity will torture us for all eternity if we don’t believe he exists on insufficient evidence?

Many Christians in the 21st century have woken up to the fact that the concept of Hell is barbaric and these Christians, to their credit, don’t believe in the concept of Hell. That’s a great start. But Heaven is kind of Hell too when you think about it. That is especially the case if not everyone goes to Heaven and those who do have to live out eternity knowing that their loved ones are being eternally tortured. But assuming we all do go to Heaven regardless of our beliefs or lack of beliefs, than what do you do in Heaven? From what I understand, you sit around worshiping God for all eternity sometimes with a set number of virgins. I don’t know about you, but eternity seems like a pretty long time to me and worshiping some deity doesn’t sound like much fun, especially after all the virgins are gone.

5. You just don’t know.

Let’s face reality here for a moment. There is no valid evidence for any deities. If there were valid and compelling evidence, then we would all be on the same page. There wouldn’t be a million sects of each religion and there wouldn’t be a million different religions. There would be one sect of one religion and God would make his presence known to us in a way that was so obvious that it couldn’t be disputed. We would be able to see him, hear him, smell him, touch him, etc. There would be no atheists because we would have no choice but to believe. After all, he’s God and he could do that kind of thing. No, that doesn’t affect our alleged “Free Will.” I know that Kim Jong-Un exists, but you don’t see me worshiping him.

The fact is that we are all agnostics. We don’t know whether any deities exist. There is no evidence for the existence of any deities. There is no good reason to believe that any deities actually exist. So without any valid reason to believe that any deities exist, I don’t believe any deities exist. You shouldn’t either. Because we are agnostic, we should also be atheists.