So there are all the terms I’ve learned of late. One of which is “Anti-theist”. I know it sounds the same as atheist but there is a big difference. An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in a god or gods. That’s it. That’s the only defining characteristic that ties the atheist “movement” together. We can and often do disagree on nearly every other aspect of life. On the other hand, an anti-theist is someone who actively opposes religion. Typically they are atheists but I suppose that wouldn’t necessarily be a prerequisite. Although that would be a bit odd, someone who believes in a god but actively opposes it.
There’s a Youtuber who has brought up the question “What beneficial aspects of religion can’t be replaced by secular means?” and it made me think. I began to think about my time as a Christian. What would that look like? There is only one thing that comes to mind about this that I still struggle with and that’s community. When you believe in a religion and say “I go to such and such church” it has a built-in sense of belonging. A group of people all united with certain foundations and tenants. You all have many things in common just by default. Now being outside of that circle I find it hard to find a group of people to spend time with. I’m sure that’s in big part to being an introvert and having a young family (having neither the time nor the inclination to venture outside of my house). I have found some community online and it’s a good starting place, but there is something about meeting with people regularly, face to face that is missing. I am working with Graceful Atheist and a few others to see what something like this might look like but we are still in the infancy stage.
On the opposite end of that, however, there is one thing that really is something that the secular world has done for me that religion never did. I struggle with depression off and on and while I was a believer I always felt there was something wrong with me. God was supposed to have this great plan for me and I was to be living life abundantly. But that never seems to click. Of course, I could fake it on Sunday mornings and pretty much with every interaction I had but deep down I felt as though I was doing something wrong. Why wasn’t I always just happy? Why didn’t I feel the “joy” all the time? Was I not praying right? Was I not reading my Bible enough? So now stacked on top of all the depression I had an overwhelming sense of guilt.
So am I an anti-theist? I don’t know. I haven’t thought it all the way through. I do know that I think religion does do more harm than good for our current society. Trying to pass laws in order to make everyone follow their moral guide, having their myths taught as scientific fact, being content with “god did it” as the answer to deep questions seems to hold us back as a society. But I do get it, I was there not too long ago. Maybe time will make me one?
Ok sorry for the click baity title but it is what it is. Just a thought I came across the other day. There are two very different statements I hear from theists. The first is “I believe in god” and the second being “There is a god”. While on the surface they may sound like they are saying the same thing but the are very different indeed. One is a statement of belief, and the other is a claim to knowledge. I know that sounds arbitrary but the distinction is important.
Lets start with the first statement “I believe in god.” The key words here are “I believe.” This doesn’t make a statement of fact. Things one believe doesn’t make them necessarily true. For instance, believing that a four-leaf clover brings you luck, they don’t but you might feel better about things. That’s what believing there is a god does, gives you warm fuzzies. And that’s fine, I’m not here to tell you what to believe. I however have come to look to verifiable, falsifiable evidence (more on that in another post) for me to believe things. One believing in something can be a true statement, it doesn’t require outside evidence to be true. Your personal experience is all that is needed. The thing you are believing in however, would nee evidence in order to convince others of it’s validity.
Now the latter statement: “There is a god.” This isn’t a belief, it’s a claim to truth. This is akin to saying rocks are hard, or there’s a computer on my lap. This is something you need to prove and back up with more than “I feel that…” statements. Another piece of baggage that comes along with this is. Now that you have this claim to a god you’re obliged to do as it says. So when holy books from the bronze age tell you to stone homosexuals you can use this to fuel you’re own biases. It emboldens you to make sure laws are passed to further your gods agenda without regard for anyone else. A claim to truth needs to have evidence to back it up. Something that can be tested, verified, reviewed, and falsified. The last one is a hang up for a lot of people. Why does something need to be falsifiable to be considered evidence? There’s a long answer and a short answer and the short answer is to be able to rule out any other options.
It’s been said that beliefs inform decisions and that’s very important. I myself like to say my goal is to believe as man true things as possible and as few false things as possible (Thanks Matt Dillahunty). But to take that statement further, the closer those beliefs come to being certain truth the more damage they can do if they are wrong. I know I haven’t really delved outside my personal realm of experience before but as I’ve been going down this journey I see more and more the harm that religion can impose upon the world. I plan to do more posts like this where I start to look forward instead of staring at the past.
I’ve felt off all day. Very self reflective. I’ve felt almost like I was viewing my day in the third person. I’ve been thinking a lot about me lately. I know that might sound strange but it’s not something I used to do, at all. I used to deflect these types of moods by asking god for direction, or what should I be praying about, or ask for peace. It was odd not doing that and actually thinking about who I am and what I’m doing here. Am I going to be doing the exact same thing 10 years from now? Do I want to be? Before it was easier beacuse you know “god has a plan for your life.” I didn’t have to think about planning. I didn’t have to think about what the future held because god was in control.
I supposed that lead to a bit less stress in life. If god had this master plan then I didn’t have to worry about the future. If I got good things god was looking out for me. If I didn’t get what I wanted god knew best. It was simpler. It was easier. Even as I sit here writing this and seeing all the good things right around the corner I have a feeling of weight on my sholders. I’m responsible for my life. I’m responsible for what happens next. Perhaps I need to pick up the slack a bit. Perhaps I need to start living my life instead of letting it just happen to me. That brings on a new level of apprehention. I’m not the only one depending on me anymore. I have my family to worry about. I can’t just up and quit my job tomorrow and figure it out. I need to be able to provide for them (Not that my wife couldn’t but we’re not in that place now).
I want to be a writer full time someday. However I find my self spending little to no time developing that skill. I have so many day to day commitments that it doesn’t become a prioirty. It doesn’t cross my mind to schedule in time to do that. And the moments where I do have that free time to do it, I’m exhausted. All I want to do is sleep.
Sorry this became somewhat of a pity party but I thought I’d share and get these thoughts out into the ether. How do you manage your day to day and still find time for your passion? How do you juggle kids, a job, a wife? I don’t have a social life so this should be easier.
As I step into the new year I feel as though I’ve perhaps kind of deviated from what this blog was supposed to be. I’m currently writing about my journey, questions for atheists, the bible, logical fallacies. This seems to be all over the place. The title of the blog is “Godless Journey” and it feels like I’m just pulling from all over the place. I think I may scale back a bit and concentrate on the journey portion of my story for the moment. I feel this will give me more consistent updates and focus. Once I’ve completed the past history I’ll begin to dive more into the other portions of the blog that I have been working on.
Also during this year I plan to start putting out video content. My question for you is which portion would you like to see done as a video response? I’ll have a poll up on my Twitter for you to vote on. By limiting this to only one area this will do a couple of things. Firstly it will help me get an idea of how to make videos (starting from scratch). Also it will keep me writing the other portions. I do love writing and would like to keep working on that as well.
Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thanks for coming on this journey with me!
I had a conversation the other day with a fellow on twitter coming off of one of Ken Ham’s tweets. There was a lot of back and forth and I attempted to understand his position. I did employ some Street Epistemology in the conversation but I think that was done in vain. I just didn’t want to boil over into a flame war. That doesn’t do anything to further any conversation. We somewhat ended the discussion with him asking if I was a naturalist. I hadn’t heard the term before so I looked it up. It essentially is the belief that there is nothing beyond the natural world and everything can be explained with natural process. I’m not a huge fan of labels (that is different than check boxes, I friggen love check boxes) but agreed with that assertion. He then sent me this article talking about some things that naturalism can’t account for. I will spend this post refuting it’s points.
The first point this article makes points out that is that if there is no other plane than the natural then our minds (I’m assuming he means consciousnesses) are nothing other than a result of natural processes. The implication being that we have no true “free will.” My question is, so what? We as a species are excellent input/output machines. We’re also excellent at pattern recognition (even when there isn’t one there). There are even denominations of Christianity that believe we have no free will (Calvinism to name one). The fact that we can look at our selves introspectively can be easily explained by evolution. Once we evolved to the point where we were no longer living from meal to meal our brains suddenly had all this free time. It was freed up to do things like existential thinking. I am looking to do some more research into the entire notion of free will and what possible implications there are to not having it.
Next up is the topic of morality. I sometimes wonder at the nature of “morality” or ethics. I did take a class in college on the subject of ethics and found it fascinating. One thing that I was never really convinced of was moral absolutes. There is the old antic-dote about that goes something like this: You are in 1940’s Germany and are hiding a Jewish family in your house. One day the SS shows up and asks you if you are harboring any Jews in your home. Do you tell a lie and save the family or do you tell the truth and not lie. It’s a pretty easy decision, you lie. Now if you adhere to a strict rule of moral absolutes where no “sin” is greater than another then you have a pickle here. You’d have to tell the truth and in turn an entire family dies. YOU made that choice and would have to live with that the rest of your days. That doesn’t seem very “moral” to me.
The final point the argument presented is that of meaning. Essentially that with out god our lives are nothing more than what we have here while we’re alive. There’s no higher purpose to our existence. I fail to see how a deity give our lives any deeper value than that of a life devoid of such a being. Our life meaning is different for everyone. We aren’t designed to worship anything. Our meaning is self-defined. The author points to an example of a child thinking their meaning is to play video games all day. OK, what’s the problem. If this kid can grow up and support himself on playing video games more power to him (there is some serious money in that industry). If not, they will have to do what we all do and find a job they can tolerate to support that which he finds fulfilling (video games). Granted there are exceptions to this the biggest being if you find your meaning by infringing on someone else’s life (such as murder, rape, and the like).
As I stated before I was pointed to this article from a Twitter user and promised I would give my rebuttal. I don’t believe that anything else other than the natural order of things is needed to explain us. We aren’t special. We are just another animal on this planet that happens to have a higher intellect. Our ability to self-reflect, make moral decisions, and find fulfillment can all be explained by our evolutionary history. I now had the difficult task of finding that twitter string and sharing this article with that user…whose name has completely escaped me.
Just as a heads up the next few weeks of Definition Friday are going to be dealing with logical fallicies. I’ve been somewhat studying them in my spare time. There is a great resource here if your interested in reading more. I’ll spend a little time defining the fallicies and then give examples from how they’ve had an effect on my life. Anyway on with the show!
Special pleading, sometimes referred to as “moving the goalposts”, is when one puts out a specific set of rules, or premises that apply to everything inside a set and then saying that something inside that same set has a different set of rules. A good real world example of this is nepotism. A company has a set of standards that every applicant must go through in order to be hired. The company’s owner wants his son to work at the company even though he isn’t qualified. The owner tells HR to put him in the job anyway, circumventing the rule that applies to everyone.
Bringing this back around to my atheism, I never realized how much special pleading is used in defense of god. The first that comes to mind is “killing people is wrong, unless god does it. Then it’s ok because it’s his will.” I’ve heard people say that “he created us so he can destroy us.” Really? I created my son does that make it ok for me to kill him? Me thinks no. What kind of mental gymnastics did I go through to think that this was in anyway ok?
I’ve recently come across a bunch of theist vs atheist debates on the youtubes. One of the arguments that I hear time and time again is what’s know as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In a nut shell it states that everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe has a beginning, therefor the universe has a cause…which must be god. The first time I heard this argument I was lead to follow it. It seemed to make sense. Then I thought, well if the universe had to have a cause, and that cause was god, what caused god. It leads to an infinite regress of “well then who created that?”
Typically the defense that I hear back is where this logical fallacy comes into play. It goes something to the effect of “well god lives out of space and time so this doesn’t apply to him.” There is the special pleading. You can’t have a set of constants and then say that these constants don’t apply to something within that set.
I went to the library for the first time in a long time this weekend. While there I found the “required atheist reading” and decided to pick it up. I haven’t read a book for pleasure since probably high school. I’ve been in and out of college for the last few years so it’s not like I haven’t read, just not for leisure.
I picked up the book and it was a bit daunting. It’s really big. Like way bigger than anything I’ve read in a long time. But I was up for the challenge. I’m currently on Chapter 3 and I find myself having a hard time putting it down. I don’t read at an amazing speed but I’m doing about 40 pages a night. It’s been amazing.
I plan to do a full review once I finish the book but I very much appreciate how it is laid out so far. Definitions followed by what he is defining as the hypothesis, the arguments for (which I’ve come across previously in my own research, mainly thanks to The Atheist Experience).
I think I did start reading this once as a believer, I wonder if it would have changed my point of view then had I finished it…