Completely Off the Cuff Audio Blog #2: Why I Find Certain Theologians Annoying


I have created my second audio blog. This one is why I find certain theologians very annoying tell me what you think!.

Here’s the debate between William Lane Craig and Sean Carol I was talking about in my audio blog.

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Shaking Things Up: Atheism and Buddhism


Now some time ago, I wrote in a post that I would be studying up on Eastern religions and their concept of God; because, typical arguments against God in the West only really work towards the monotheistic Western deity of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Now, I have been reading up quite a bit between my studies at university. I can’t say that I’m finished studying up on these interesting and highly complex religions, but I will go over where I am, personally, at the moment.

Let me start out by saying, I was always leaning more towards existential nihilism to begin with and less towards humanism. Humanism sounds great, but for various reasons I found it problematic. Maybe I just don’t share Humanism’s optimism, but I digress.

So let’s talk about Buddhism. Buddhism, unlike many religions doesn’t require an all powerful, all good, and all knowing creator. Now, this doesn’t mean Buddhism is naturalistic. To assume this, would be far from the truth.

There is no “soul” and the “self” is an illusion, but the mind is not materialistic in nature. It is eternal, and we have all been through an infinite amount of deaths and rebirths due to bad karma. (Karma here being the law of cause and effect.) The earth is not the only place one can be reborn. Minds can be reborn in the lower realms, “hells,” or higher realms, “heavens.” Neither of the former are places people go for eternity.  However, the aim of Buddhism is to reach enlightenment, “nirvana,” and the end of the cycle of death and rebirth NOT to end up in heaven or hell.

Now, this is where the Buddha comes into play. The Buddha was someone who reached enlightenment, and then proceeded to teach others how to do so themselves. The idea is that we can all become buddhas.

Now perhaps interestingly, I, a materialistic nihilist, went to a Buddhist Sangha, a gathering of Buddhists. Why? Well, for one there is no better and easier way to learn about a religion than to go to their religious service. Secondly, I seek to meditate properly, as mediation has many beneficial effects. Thirdly, and most importantly, I am an open minded person.

I am starting to realize that the Buddhist view of human nature seems to be quite accurate. Human beings are not “fallen.” Still, every  intentional action has moral significance, and we would all be happier if we learn to control our mind. In a nutshell, it’s not the situation that’s the problem, it’s what we think about a given situation that’s a problem. If you think a situation is horrible, terrible, or unlivable it is. If you think the situation isn’t that bad after all you won’t suffer as much. Now, if you don’t believe me about the thinking part, consider asking any psychologist. I have. However, their supernatural claims are another story.

The Western monotheistic deity I, certainly, see as false. (See many of my other posts.) Still, I am playing around and toying with different ideas. I am not saying I am converting to Buddhism, but so far, it’s been fun!

 

 

Objective Morality without God?


A typical argument for God from theists is that claim that without God there is no objective morality. The only morality, in this view, is Darwinian in nature, and some atheists actually agree. Most atheists, who I’ve heard, do not think there really is objective morality. Many people balk when they hear this. Of course, everyone wants to hear that pedophilia and murder are unequivocally wrong, and those deeds are actually wrong. The problem is using terms like “objective morality” in the first place.

I would argue that morality is more complicated than just either being objective or relative. Furthermore, I think the term “objective morality” is a little like the word “evil.” We want to call Hitler evil. We don’t want to think of him just as a bad person who did horrible things, but the term “evil” tends to evoke supernatural or other thinking that is not in the arena of reasonable thinking. Thus, I want to talk just about morality in general instead of arguing against objective morality. It’s just not a useful topic for what I’m trying to say, and I suspect discussing it is a less useful conversation than people tend to think.

What are morals? Morals, I suspect, had it’s origins in biology, but like I said before it’s more complicated than that. People are smart, and as such, inventive. Some amount of morality is certainly hardwired into us, but people are smart enough to out smart their biology. It’s too simple to say morality is objective, or morality is just an evolutionary byproduct. People can and have invented or changed what it means to be moral, as well. Slavery went on for a long time, but now it is seen, almost universally, as the terrible thing that it is.

The problem with morality now is that it still appears to be in it’s infancy. Many people disagree about morality. Many people use religion to decide what is moral. Others pick a moral philosophy, and still, others don’t even think about morality. We all have a long way to go, and I doubt we’ll ever reach perfection. However, my point is that morality is complicated. It’s more complicated than just biology. It’s as complicated as trying to figure what works best for humans individually and as a whole, which is no small task. Still, the shock people feel with atheists saying that there is no objective morality is not useful. The theist is simply shocking their audiences’ emotions, and atheists need to talk more clearly about morality.

Is God Evil?


“Killing must feel good to God, too. He does it all the time, and are we not created in his image?” -Hannibal Lecter from Hannibal

The above quote is from the short-lived show Hannibal, but it is very similar to quote from Lecter in the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.

Anyways, I’ve been reading the Hannibal Lecter series, and I’m well aware, as far as books go, the Lecter series is mostly just “junk” entertainment. Still, Hannibal’s view on God did make think. The God I usually consider is the western monotheistic concept of God. That is to say, he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. He’s also self existing and eternal. So, most of my arguments of God do not consider that western philosophy of religion and theology are patently wrong about the properties of the deity, but what if a deity that is evil or just simply not omnibenevolent existed?

Well, there would still be the problem of omniscience paired with omnipotence. However, the problem of evil would completely dissipate. I find this interesting.

Now, I know the Hindu deity Shiva is said to be both a destroyer and benevolent entity. It would be interesting to debunk Shiva or Shiva like conceptions of deities, but of course, I’m from the west. So, I haven’t had much need to do this.

I’m NOT saying I just converted to Hinduism. I still doubt there is a deity. What I am saying is that it is interesting, and it leads me to think that I haven’t paid enough attention to Hinduism as far their argument for a deity.

I think at base. We could manipulate any characteristics of God into anything we want, and we could call this entity a deity.Still, it would be a created entity and not a God.

I guess I’m rambling now, but I thought it was interesting. And, I thought I would share my thoughts with my readers. Please feel free to comment!

“War on Christmas:” It’s that Time of the Year


It’s that time of year again, and us atheists really need to decide on how we plan to ruin Christmas this year. (Obvious sarcasm.) Truthfully, I usually go on media blackout around December. I’m incredibly tired of hearing about the “War on Christmas,” “Keep  the Christ in Christmas,” ” It’s merry Christmas not happy holidays, “and more to ad nauseam.

1.) As far as the so-called war on Christmas is concerned, some of the things certain atheists have done certainly have been a little petty. Some of it has been completely justified, but I really think, most of the time, Christians really just need to get over it. I, for one, don’t like a lot of the religious billboards posted during Christmas, but you don’t hear complaining about a war on atheists. The US is not a theocracy, and people have free speech, sorry. People disagreeing isn’t war. I didn’t bomb your nativity scene.

2.) As far the angst felt by people being wished a happy holiday is concerned, do you even know what the word “holiday” means? It means holy day; although, admittedly, it has come to mean  any federal day off. Still, this not worth getting upset about. Personally, I don’t have a problem being wished a merry Christmas. Christmas is probably the most observed holiday, so it seems reasonable to fall back on that greeting. However, what’s wrong with people wanting more inclusive towards other people? At least, Christians get their major holidays off, as they are federal holidays. Other religions don’t receive that benefit, so using the greeting”happy holidays” is a small concession to make.

3.) It’s Christians who are ruining Christmas. Why do Christian radio stations have to play pop and rap versions of Christmas classics? It sounds terrible! The classics were classics for reason. (Yes, I’ve been known to enjoy “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”)  Plus, getting upset at every little Christmas inconvenience or annoyance ruins the so-called Christmas spirit.

Am I an Ebeneezer Scrooge? That’s quite possible. Have a happy holiday! (I was referring to Thanksgiving by the way.)

Can Religion and Science Coexist?


There have been many refutations of the Christian creation story via science. Evolution through natural selection science supreme in explaining how species have come to be what they are currently. We now know the age of the Earth. We know the age of the universe, and we know the Big Bang occurred and brought about the existence of our universe. That being said, there are still important questions, related to existence, that remain. However, it is exceedingly unlikely, in this day and age, that the Biblical teachings on creation will ever be proven to be a better explanation than science we have now. There may be a few corrections in science, and hopefully we will find answers to the questions that remain. Still, the basic features we have now in biology and astrophysics are unlikely to change, so where does this leave the believer?

Well, if the believer thinks the Bible needs to be taken literally, I’m sorry to say the believer is just plain wrong, and no, there beliefs cannot coexist with science. However, some Christians have moved on. Some claim that the creation story was meant to be metaphorical. Of course, this is problematic due church doctrine. Most Christians seem to accept the original sin concept which was based upon Adam and Eve sinning in the garden. In this case, the believer must jump through some mental hoops to get their religion and science to be in agreement. I, for one, am not willing or think it sensible to jump through those hoops.

Finally, there are believers who see their scriptures as not literal or inerrant. They see the Bible as, simply, inspired. It is fairly simple for these believers to just say the writers of the scriptures erred on occasion, and they were wrong on creation. For these believers, no, there is no issue with their religion and science coexisting. Some of them even make an interesting point. They argue that some people who take the Bible as inerrant and literal are in fact idol worshipers. They worship the Bible over God! However, there is one crucial problem. How, exactly, does one figure out which passage were in fact wrong? It doesn’t seem like everyone is receiving the same message from God on this.

Sick Children and Religion


I’ve been sick for a week, but I’m getting better. I still can’t hear out my ears very well, but I’m sure it will get better. I thought I had allergies until I kept getting sicker. Anyways, at least I’m no longer in pain or leaking fluid out my eye sockets!

Being sick reminds of Christian Scientists who don’t believe in modern medicine. ( I know a portion of them do receive some medical intervention, especially for vaccines.) I mean if a grown adult would rather die than go to a hospital, then I suppose we should let them. (After a healthy dose of education of course!) Still, what about their children?

I, actually, find the idea of neglecting a sick child in that way is barbaric, but I also, truly, don’t want to live in a world where people aren’t allowed to practice their beliefs. While I do think it necessary to help a child who is being neglected, I do prefer for Big Brother to stay out of a parents’ relationship with their children. Of course, we could just simply state that if a child is knocking on death’s door, then it is appropriate to intervene.  Then again, how many cases against parents would be successful in the end?They are, obviously, going to use a freedom of religion defense. What about the child’s freedom of religion? What about a teenager’s? If a minor wants to receive medical attention, at what age do they have a right to it without parental approval? Still, to what degree does minor living with their parents truly have autonomy?

Also, what if the children arent‘t on death’s door, and they are just needlessly suffering? I know some will disagree, but the parent, in my view, who allows a child to touch a hot stove in order to learn better is wrong.

I’m not answering my questions, intentionally. There are no good answers. If we take away the children, then the children are being robbed of what, might, very well be otherwise a loving home, and then, what if the children grow up with resentment towards society. If we do take the children, it could be a good thing, physically. for the child. I supposed the government could demand regular check ups in order to monitor the children, but that’s a heck of a lot of freedom to give up. This just one of those times where belief puts the rest of us between a rock and a hard place.