Posts Tagged ‘works

17
Aug
10

If you don’t believe in God, does that mean that your life has no meaning?

No, in fact it’s quite the reverse – to me, life is incredibly precious, because it is the only life we get.

In fact, I see the other side of the argument as reversed, too – a belief in an afterlife sometimes puts less value on this life. I see this whenever someone talks about how they will be reunited with their loved ones after death, or when they speak of someone who has passed away and say “He is in a better place now.”

For me, these things don’t work. For all that I know, I won’t see my parents, relatives, or friends who have died, ever again. This makes my time with them infinitely precious.

Then there are those who firmly believe that the good things we do in this life are absolutely worthless, and that faith in their god is the only thing that counts. To me, this is one of the biggest examples of someone giving zero value to life that I can imagine. (In fact, it creates a huge contradiction when someone who believes this also claims that atheists have no reason to be moral, but that’s another topic…)

02
Feb
10

Would the world be a better place without religion?

(This is the 11th question in Brett Keane’s Atheist Challenge)

Would the world be a better place without religion?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: As someone who loves artistic expression, humanism, and scientific discovery, it would be common for most folks to say something along the lines of “What about all of the great things that people have done when inspired by religion?”

Things like:
– Assisting the poor, sick, and homeless at home and abroad
– Building beautiful churches and cathedrals
– Inspiring and commissioning incredible paintings, sculptures, and symphonies
– Promoting scientific discovery and knowledge (particularly during the Golden Age of Islam)
– The hope that religious belief brings to so many people

While I appreciate all of these things, I can’t help but think of two points:

1. All of these things can – and DO – happen without any religion as part of the equation. None of them require a belief in any deity. People would still help others out of the goodness of their hearts, artists, composers, and architects would ply their crafts with just as much passion, and scientific knowledge and discovery would have advanced much further than it has today.

2. This meager list is terribly imbalanced by the great amount of wrong done in the name of religion:

– The witch trials in both Europe and the early US colonies
– The Crusades
– The Inquisition
– Any other religious incursion
– The Taliban, and other theocracies
– The Catholic/protestant wars in Ireland
– The subjugation and physical and emotional abuse of women in any belief system that treats them as second-class citizens (or worse).
– September 11th, 2001, and every other religiously-motivated suicide bombing, big or small
– The recent Ugandan bill to allow the execution of homosexuals and AIDS victims, inspired by books against homosexuality written by American evangelicals
– Rampant (often violent) homophobia, occasionally spouted by closeted homosexuals (Ted Haggard and many others)
– The Westboro Baptist Church
– The Klan and other Christian Identity hate groups
– The Library of Alexandria (if you are unfamiliar with this story, I strongly encourage you to look it up.)
– The Holocaust (Despite what you’ve been told, Hitler was not an atheist, and used his belief in God to justify his holocaust – consider these quotes from him before propagating that myth any further.)
– The Catholic Church’s handling of the pedophile priest scandal
– General religious intolerance and discrimination of any degree
– Satanic panic, and the lives that it ruins
– Parents denying health care for their children because their god would rather be prayed to for assistance
– Megachurches (and the people they bankrupt), faith healers (and the real harm that they do), resurrectionists (yes, there are present-day preachers who claim to raise the dead), prosperity preachers (buy their new books!), and Benny Hinn (redundant, I guess, but I didn’t want to leave him out)
– Willful ignorance, lies, and fear of scientific knowledge and discovery, even in the present day (see Ben Stein’s “Expelled”, Ray Comfort, Ken Hamm, Kent Hovind, the Dover trial, and the Creation Institute for more)

…should I go on, or is that enough?

It is true that people will do good or bad without religion. There were great atrocities committed by atheists – Stalin and Pol Pot are two that are always trotted out in these types of discussions. But they just happened to be nonbelievers – they didn’t commit their atrocities in the name of atheism, the way that Hitler believed that he was doing his god’s work. Likewise, there are racial and homophobic hate groups that have nothing to do with any religious belief.

But all of the above is the product of useless superstition, and we would have been much better off without all of it. Taking religion away doesn’t completely take away terrible ideas and deeds, but it does give us less reason to partake in them.

As for the hope and joy that religion brings to so many – I’ve personally found a neverending supply of both from a real, tangible source. Like Soylent Green, it’s made out of people. 

And it’s an awesome buzz, man. You should try it sometime

15
Jan
10

Interruption of service

It may be a few more days before I post something substantial to this blog. I’ve been very busy this week preparing for a children’s play that will be opening this weekend, and taking my two daughters to another play that they are rehearsing for.  So I may not have a new post up until after the weekend.  I apologize for the temporary loss of service. If you’re itching for a fix of atheist blogging, may I recommend one of the many blogs, podcasts, and videos that I’ve collected in the right column?

In the meantime, I’m sure all of you have heard of the terrible tragedy in Haiti. The news has touched us all, and only the hardest of hearts have not been saddened by it. I encourage everyone reading this blog to do what you can to help the people of Haiti. Google has an excellent Haiti relief page that collects some of the best charities that are helping in that area. Please choose carefully when sending donations – there are many unscrupulous folks who use these types of tragedies as opportunities for profit.

If you’re not able to help financially, or you would like to do more, consider helping in your local area. Many of us have Haitian communities and churches near us – go to them and see if they are in need of any assistance. In some cases, its simply a case of being there for someone that makes a world of difference.

Be good, be safe, tell your families you love them, and I’ll be back with more questions and answers soon.

29
Dec
09

What is the greatest thing that you have done for others?

(This is the fourth question in Brett Keane’s Atheist Challenge)

What is the greatest thing that you have done for others?

I’m not sure how comfortable I am answering this question, as it might seem to be too much like boasting, and I’m not usually comfortable with talking about myself in that way.

The only answer I would be willing to give is this: I often do good things for people to make them feel good (or just better). This makes myself feel better, too, so it’s not a completely selfless act.

I don’t feel that this makes me a better person than anyone else, however – there are a lot of people who do a lot more than

“Greatest” seems like a matter of opinion. As I alluded to in my last post, my favorite thing to do for others is to make them happy – through performance, artistic expression, or just by being there for them when they need it.  Whether that is “great” or not is for them to decide.




I am an atheist, a person who does not believe in the existence of any gods.

Many people don't know a lot about atheists, and have questions about them. In this blog, I do my best to answer them, to help build an understanding between atheists and theists.

Do you have a question? You can post it in the comments to any of my blog entries, and I will do my best to answer it in a new entry.