Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: time to break the rules

The headline over at The Raw Story (a liberal news site) is: "GOP senator lobs false atheism smears in desperate attempt to hold seat." So Liddy Dole, the absentee Senator from North Carolina, thinks that the way to save her seat is to "smear" her opponent as "godless."

Her opponent, Kay Hagan, will have none of it. "I believe in God," says Sunday School Teacher Hagan:

OK. I get it. In North Carolina you better believe in God or you can't be elected. Probably not just North Carolina, either. Almost anywhere in these United States. Those are the Rules. Time for some New Rules:

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Of course, I blogged this a few days ago, and the discussion that emerged on my site revealed the interesting misconception that there are not too many Atheists and when there were more atheists some day, perhaps they could get some political power.

There are more Atheists than Jews and Muslims combined in the US, more than there are African Americans. More Atheists than gay people.

We are, at the moment, too unorganized. I have a feeling, though, that in the next congressional election we might not be as disorganized.

Anybody outed atheists want to run for the House? If we each give you one dollar, you'd have the best funded campaign evah!

I don't know if I am an athiest, but I am certainly a rationalist (it is possible to be one and not the other, although most athiests would disagree?).

I don't know where the universe (or universes) came from. I don't know who is out there (if anyone) who has a more evolved (or possibly evolved along different lines) consciousness, or what the abilities of such a consciousness would be.

Certainly, physics and genetics have shown us that it is possible for intelligent beings to do some of the stuff gods are credited with doing, like affecting planetary climate, tinkering with genes to produce new species of animals and plants, harnessing energy sources (such as the atom) that would mystify tribal societies like the ones that populate Biblical history.

In my view, if there is a god, it probably does not resemble a human at all, and most likely has no idea what my thoughts are, and certainly no judgment about whether I am a sinner (an idea I don't believe in anyway).

If the Biblical god turns out to be just some slightly more evolved lifeform that has figured out how to cross some stellar distances and mess with the minds of the more primitive lifeforms it finds, then that does not count as God in my reckoning, because it is still a lifeform arising out of the natural process of evolution, not some conscious being which acts at a level of causation with respect to our universe.

I certainly believe in the human ability to have spiritual experience, and know from experience that extended periods of meditation can produce ecstatic states of peace. But it does not follow that there has to be a God in order for me to be able to do those things. Nor, as the rationalists have shown, is it required to have a God in order to have a sense of social justice and compassion for your fellow human beings.

Maybe that god is better known by studying natural processes without inferring a god. We have theories, and they seem to work quite well in many cases, but even the heaviest physicists are not claiming the know the final answer of whence the existence.

Put me in the "don't know" category. And not knowing is where I want to be, because not knowing means I have to continue questioning, which means I have to continue learning and growing my own consciousness.

So I'd probably support a rationalist movement, but not because I am a committed athiest, but because the alternative - requiring that our public servants believe in "Jesus Clause" - is simply horrifying. That kind of politics puts us one step backwards from reverting to the authoritarian theocracies of medieval Europe.

And that is something I am absolutely opposed to.

Oh, and thanks for reminding me why I left North Carolina 25 years ago. Although I must say people like Coturnix do keep me from giving up on the place completely (haha - actually, I still have some dear friends there!)

Technically, atheism is just as much a religion as any. Neither religion can prove God exists or does not exist, but they have faith or a belief he does or does not.

Many of the secular elite believe in an amorphous God along the lines espoused by Spinoza, and while they reject this God is a personal God, they believe God knows himself through Man and that man can evolve to become like God. Plato and Kaballah express similar thoughts.

Liberty is the freedom from traditional religion, where man is permitted to do evil as well as good, so long as they believe they are using evil to do good, a means to an end. This is not unlike the pagan religions where they had a God which represented Good and another God which represented evil. Both were worshipped.

The enlightened ones believe the faith based religions chose the wrong God, and that Lucifer is the God that should be worshipped since he represented knowledge and enlightenment, and promised that man could learn what God knows and be like him.

Environmentalism and catastrophic AGW have elements of a faith based religion. Man is a sinner against nature and so must worship nature and it's Goddess Gaia by consuming less and reducing population, a creation of the neo-malthusian high priests of AGW.

I am ok with all of the religions so long as I can be free of them. Unfortunately, the religous, traditional or otherwise, are not very tolerant of those who do not believe as they do. You are a godless heretic, or a dangerous denialist, depending on which religion you offend by not accepting their faith.

My one great hope was that science could lift us away from the madness. Science is the ultimate search for truth. However, as Eisenhower warned in 1961 at the same time as he warned about the MIC, the increasing reliance of science on federal grants and foundation money for research, leads to a risk science can be corrupted. Dude was a prophet. Science has been corrupted as so many other things have, and is now a tool of the MIC and the power structure who seeks totalitarian social control.

So it appears we are now entering a New Dark Ages, and perhaps the End of History. History is what our leaders say it is. Truth is an inconvenience, myth and illusion have replaced it. Pseudoscience use computer models that can prove elephants can fly. Good night. Lights out.

pft: I don't know why I bother. But I'll just pose this to you: is not believing In Leprecauns a kind of religion? How about not believing there is a little man in my wristwatch that rules the universe? You can't see him, smell him or touch him but he's there. As some wag once said, bald is not a type of hair color.

"Technically", pft, atheism is not a religion. The terms you used to describe atheism: sin, sinners, God, faith, worship, Dark Ages, and heretic are not at all associated with atheism; perhaps you are confusing atheism with Catholicism?

No, atheism is not a religion. It is an act of faith, however, which you all are perfectly free to make. If you can't prove it but you hold it to be true then you make an act of faith and you believe it. More power to ya.

Revere, maybe you have "history" with pft that I'm unaware of but the leprecaun analogy struck me as insultingly glib.

slovenia:;

Revere, maybe you have "history" with pft that I'm unaware of but the leprecaun analogy struck me as insultingly glib.

.

Yes, there's a history with pft, but that wasn't relevant. I'm not sure why you thought it was glib. It was meant to be directly to the point: not believing in something isn't the same as believing in other things. The use of Lepracaun was a deliberate choice of something neither pft nor I nor most readers believed in. Does that make us "believers" in no Lepracauns? I rarely intend to insult anyone here (unless insulted first, and even then I am reticent), so I assure you it was not meant to be either insulting OR glib. It was meant to be a serious riposte to what I consider a very wrongheaded claim on pft's part.

As for you definition of faith, I think it is the wrong word. I don't have "faith" that there are no Lepracauns. I believe there aren't, on the basis of evidence and reasoning. Nor does "proof" have any relevance. Proof is a logical concept and many things can be proved given parrticular antecedents. It has no ontological relevance. Two plus tow equals four can be proved given a handful of axioms (Peano's Postulates). Does that mean the 2+2 MUST be four and that four exists? So "proof" is a red herring and has no relevance.

I don't think John McCain will make a good president. At this point I can't prove it, but I have evidence to adduce to support it. Nor is it properly be called a matter of faith. It is an opinion, based on evidence, to which I hold and about which I have been making arguments here.

Perhaps it was "I don't know why I bother." that made me feel the insult. Pretty dismisive, wouldn't you say? Bit of a sneer there.

Equating leprecauns and the cause of the universe (whatever that is and I don't pretend to know but I look forward to finding out. Maybe, or not.) seems absurd.

Believers in God base their belief on, among other things, the wonders of the universe. Athiests, it seems to me, base their belief (there's that word again) on the absurdity of the notion of "Our Father who art in heaven...", to choose the Catholic example. I find that ridiculous as well. But I'm open to the possibility of something more, bigger, more encompassing than matter. Something akin to mind but meta-. A life stream of the universe, perhaps? I don't know and I believe(!) that we can't KNOW. We can cogitate, we can hope, we can believe but we can't know. My son is an athiest. We have some interesting discussions. He doesn't believe in God but he does believe in the survival of consciouness after death. Hmmm.

slovenia: OK, fair enough. Yes, the "I don't know why I bother . . . " part was the history. The rest was really me bothering, which is why I didn't understand your comment. I was making a logical or perhaps, semantical point, that not believing something doesn't necessarily put you in the same category as people who believe something, which is essentially what the argument that not believing in God requires a leap of faith so it is on the same semantic or logical status as believing in God. Now you choose to reserve the "leap of faith" part only for The Big Questions and therefore don't see the leprecaun argument as valid or relevant, while I wasn't restricting it because I was arguing against the semantic form of pft's (and many others') argument. Yes, they may wish to do as you do and restrict it only to The Big Questions, but their (and your) definition of what is a Big Question then becomes a new issue. Many atheists don't have the same notion of The Big Question as others, while some do, but either way it is a whole new argument, one that says that atheists also have Big Questions and if they do, then they are the same as religious people. I think that is stretching the notion of atheism and theism too much and it certainly isn't the common use of the words. Moreover it shifts the argument in a subtle but important way to, "Do both sides believe in Something Bigger"?" and then we have to talk about what "Something Bigger" means, etc.

So I don't think this works, either for you or for pft, but I don't think pft was making this kind of argument in the first place but merely the usual "atheism is a kind of religion" argument which I think is utter nonsense and the lepraucan/little man in the watch/etc. argument goes directly to it.