An atheist that Believes

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That’s right, folks. You read it correctly. More to the point, a recent CNN article “Meet the Atheist … who believes in God” was published on 6/10/14.

 

Meet Frank Schaeffer and his opinion piece to CNN.  Mr. Schaeffer has written one of the most vocabulary challenged articles on the subject of belief and non-belief that I have seen in quite some time.

 

Let’s have an excerpt from the first twelve sentences:

 

“All the public debates between celebrity atheists and evangelical pastors are as meaningless as literary awards and Oscar night. They are meaningless because participants lack the objectivity to admit that our beliefs have less to do with facts than with our personal needs and cultural backgrounds.

The words we use to label ourselves are just as empty. What exactly is a “believer?”. And for that matter what is an “atheist?” 

Who is the objective observer to define these terms. Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account.Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Let me explain. I believe that life evolved by natural selection. I believe that evolutionary psychology explains away altruism and debunks love, and that brain chemistry undermines the illusion of free will and personhood. I also believe that a spiritual reality hovering over, in and through me calls me to love, trust and hear the voice of my creator.”

Mr. Schaeffer says that we need a new term that describes a person that doesn’t have a belief in a day to day, in your face, fire and brimstone, old testament god. But, this same person might also believe that there is a being behind the scenes. One that brought about the beginning of everything, but then decided to step back and just let things develop as they may . The question to the answer of 42 of Douglas Adams’ fame, if you will. Interesting and provocative argument for the academics to sit down and debate about a new term for this new and exciting concept that you have come across.

 

Of course, if you have made it to this point, you probably know exactly where I am going with this all. But in the interest of those that may have just stumbled across this post in your meanderings around the interwebz, there just so happens that there IS a term for people that believe as Mr. Schaeffer does: deism

 

Deism is: “not a specific religion but rather a particular perspective on the nature of God. Deists believe that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. As such, there are a variety of common religious beliefs that deists do not accept.

 

As another bit of icing on the cake, Mr. Frank Schaeffer asked us to consider apophatic theology. Apophatic theology is an attempt to describe God by what cannot be said of Him. Many of the terms used to describe God’s attributes have within them an apophatic quality. For example, when we say God is infinite, we’re also saying is that God is not finite (i.e., not limited).” As Dr. Evil would say….”rrriight”. For those of you that having a working knowledge of logical fallacies, you may recognize the tautology inherent to that notion. For those a little less geeky about logical fallacies, a tautology (in formal logic) refers to a statement that must be true in every interpretation by its very construction. By defining God by what God is not, you can always arrive at the conclusion that you want to come to. Also, I find it highly dishonest by calling apophatic theology just “the theology of not knowing”. By being that ambiguous, the lay reader can all to easily draw a correlation between apophaticism and agnosticism. Although I cannot be 100% of Schaeffer’s motivation to word that as it is, but it smacks of an attempt to blur the lines between the two.

Here is one of Schaeffer’s claims that I found truly insulting:

“If you want to be sure you have “the truth” about yourself and our universe, then prepare to go mad. Or prepare to turn off your brain and cling to some form or other of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular.” As Tim Minchin put so amusingly in his song Storm:

“You’re so sure of your position
But you’re just closed-minded
I think you’ll find
Your faith in Science and Tests
Is just as blind
As the faith of any fundamentalist.

“Wow, thats a good point, let me think for a bit”
Oh wait, my mistake, its absolute bullshit.
Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.”

Exactly. Absolute bullshit. I no more cling to anything in the secular world than I would to a deity. Nothing is truly beyond reproach. All it takes to change the mind of a skeptic is empirical data proving otherwise. A caveat though: the more fundamental the thing that is being questioned is, the greater the evidence must be. Pass that? Again, nothing is truly sacred to the skeptical atheist

And, at last, we come to the very LAST sentence in the article:

“You—like some sort of quantum mechanicals physics experiment—will always be in two places at once.”

Ahhhh, to bask in the glory of the bane of every religious or pseudo-scientific practitioner, quantum mechanics. If you are not one of the few theoretical physicists that have dedicated their professional lives to pulling apart that Gordian Knot, the instant you utter “quantum mechanics” in defense of or analogy TO your claim, I dismiss everything you have previously said and will be not be truly listening to anything that you will be saying.

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

 

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Sunday Best

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One only need to go to the store, a restaurant, or simply out driving, on a Sunday to be able to aptly refute the concept that being religious makes someone somehow a good person. I spent some time out today, and it really illustrated this fact better than I ever could with words alone.

In the course of about two hours, I encountered hundreds of people dressed in their Sunday Best. Now, these aren’t their formal wear, for weddings or funerals. There’s a palpable difference in clothing between that and what someone sets aside purely for the purpose of that Sunday ritual called church. They’re sporting crosses and Jesus t-shirts and all the trappings of being deluded by the divine.

And they are MEAN.

They would cut me off and scream at me from their car, in front of their children, also dressed for church. They play bumper carts in stores, because they have to get done fast, and nobody better get in their way! At a buffet, someone even nearly knocked my food out of my hand, so they could get to their table a second or two faster by cutting me off.

I heard profanity, vitriol, yelling at children, yelling at each other. It brought back distinct memories of the days, long ago, when I attended church myself.

This may be an anecdotal rant, but I’m sure many of you are sporting a knowing grin as you read, because you see it too.

As a non-believer, and a Humanist, I strive everyday to treat people with respect, and love an ethical and morally sound life, focusing on the human well being of those around me. My “Sunday Best” has nothing to do with clothing, or miming some words in some building with a cross. My “Sunday Best” is my everyday best.

Those who are Humanists and read this know what I mean. Those are religious and read this, consider the above words the next time you put on your “Sunday Best” and head off to church. Your religious fervor doesn’t make you a good person. Your actions do.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Apologetics Quick Resource Guide

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There’s sometimes a challenge with finding the right resources to study apologetics or counter apologetics. I hope this quick resource guild will help anyone who’s interested in studying further.

In the early Christian church, when the first apologies were beginning to be written by the more educated people that were being converted to Christianity, there were many very well thought out apologies, because these people were truly defending their faith, and contending with the many scribal changes, errors, and discrepancies in the texts.

Today, they’re split into two styles that I’ve been able to figure out. There are the very honest, true believer types of apoligists. These would include things by Alvin Plantinga, Ray Comfort, or C.S. Lewis. While Comfort may not be good at it, he’s friendly and honest to a fault. Lewis had a mastery of the langauge. Plantinga is a master logician.

The other style is that of William Lane Craig or Answers in Genesis. These are are the more dishonest apologies. They rely more on Sophist tactics of out arguing someone to win the debate, rather than making a logical argument, or even a good theological argument. The tactics are far more dishonest than most. Having debated many of Craig’s students, believe me, it’s like trying to herd cats…that are dead.

 

Some good sites to use for apologies are

http://www.closertotruth.com/

http://www.answersingenesis.org/

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1887#.UztRbvldWa8

 

Counter-apologetics have two real types as well.

The first is the type you see from The Atheist Experience, people like Matt Dillahunty, or Christopher Hitchens. These are very in your face, hard nosed counters. They’re accurate and effective, but won’t win friends easily.

The newer school of thought comes from Peter Boghossian and John Loftus. These are very close to the friendly, I’m here to help you style that Christian evangelists use.

 

Resources here are:

http://www.atheist-experience.com/

http://www.streetepistemology.com/

http://www.hitchenszone.com/hitchens_vs_true_believers.html

 

One of the harder to research topics, of course, will be Islam. You may see this from time to time, though, so I have some resources.

 

For Islamic apologetics:

http://carm.org/islam

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/605-islam

 

There are a couple good places for Christian counter apologetics to Islamic arguments, which is an interesting dynamic.

 

http://www.answering-islam.org/

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.5216329/k.FD6A/Christianity_Is_Getting_Creamed_by_Islam_Apologetics.htm

 

And there really isn’t much from the Atheist side in counter apologetics here. I think this is because a large portion of the Atheist community tends to be liberally aligned politically, and people still have trouble separating criticizing a belief with being ethnocentric.

 

The best I have here is Sam Harris or Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/category/islam

http://theahafoundation.org/

 

Also, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s controversial video, Submission, is pretty powerful for counter apologetics.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGtQvGGY4S4

 

I hope this helps. Let me know if there’s anything more I can do, or questions I can help with. You can always email me at the address below.

 

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Michele Bachmann Supports Evolution Education!

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Michele Bachmann announced today, after a 2 day fast and communion retreat with God, that evolution is the accurate depiction of how God created life on earth.

In an interview with Fox News, Bachmann states “God revealed to me the fallacy of the young earth model. He created the earth with all the laws of nature intact, including evolution. So yes, I will fully support evolution education in our schools moving foreword.”

Her supporters, however, are skeptical. In one interview, a young christian explained, “I don’t care WHATs he says now, something evil must be influencing our leader! She can’t turn her back on us now!”

Well, there you have it…Michele Bachmann has been called by her flock to either support their ignorance or she loses them.
And here at Rationality Unleashed!, I hope you’re all enjoying this April Fool’s Day. Have a good one.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Social Justice and the Problem With Humans

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I was listening to Citizen Radio this morning and their discussion got me thinking. They were discussing the LGBTQ people who, in states that now have legal marriage, don’t want to be married. They also discussed that there are people even within that community who are not good people, just like there are in every other community. Let me explain why I bring this up.

I once attended a Take Back The Night rally, which focuses on violence against women. Myself, and others, were informed by some volunteers that they don’t need or want men around at all. We’re no use to them, and they don’t want us volunteering.

I once listened to a member of the LGBTQ community very vehemently shame another because they publicized their coming out. When I expressed that shaming anyone is inherently wrong, I was chastised because “how dare you, a straight person, say anything to me? All you fuckin straight people just think it’s cute that we want rights too, but you don’t actually care.” Others agreed with him wholeheartedly.

The thing is, many of us who are very active allies to various causes often make a caricature of a people as a cause, instead of as people. Then, when we encounter people being…well…people, we’re shocked at how they act. Every movement, for every cause, is made up of people. People should be the reason we join these causes. People can also be good or bad. That’s how people work.

At Take Back The Night, we ended up being welcomed with open arms by others in the group, and enjoyed marching and volunteering for the cause. I’ve been very active in the LGBTQ community, as an ally. Even, as in the example from Citizen Radio above, those who don’t choose to exercise the rights they’re fighting for, understand why they’re fighting. Others may not choose to fight at all.

I have an old friend who is a middle aged gay Catholic. We were good friends for years. He believes that if he doesn’t choose to utilize rights for himself, he doesn’t care if anyone else has them. He’s chosen not to remain a part of my life because I speak out against the abhorrent actions of the Catholic Church.

The thing is, even as much as he is against social movements in general, everyone who fights, fights for him too. Rights are universal, whether you choose to use them or not.

In the same way, people are universal, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. People are people, good and bad, mean or nice.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Trendy Activism

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There are a lot of activists for a lot of causes. The problem is that many of them don’t actually believe what they’re advocating. Let’s look at a few activist causes that really illustrate this problem well.

Pro Life

The pro life stance is that a fetus or zygote is just as human as a baby.

I promise you, most of them don’t truly believe that. You see, if you believe that the guy down the street is killing children in his basement and the police won’t do anything about it, you don’t picket his house. You do everything in your power to save those children. If you believe a fetus is the same as a child, then you don’t picket a clinic. The ones blowing up abortion clinics and killing the doctors are the only ones who truly believe what they’re advocating. The rest are on the bandwagon of ignorance because it lets them fit in with their “crowd.” Deep down, they know that there is a big difference. They just refuse to either admit it or take the steps someone would take if they truly believed that.

Anti-GMO

The contention of the anti-GMO crowd is that genetically modified foods, or genetically modified anything for that matter, is inherently harmful and is killing us all.

I guarantee that most of them don’t believe that. If you believed that the food supply was killing people, you wouldn’t protest one of the many biotech companies. You wouldn’t sit around complaining about it and ranting on the internet. You’d be taking real action. The Greenpeace eco-terrorists who are burning golden rice fields believe what they’re advocating. The rest most certainly do not. They’re advocating it because it’s trendy. It makes them hip with the “green” crowd.

Chemtrails

This is a personal favorite due to the sheer absurdity of it. The government is using aircraft to dust the population with poisonous and/or mind controlling “chemicals.”

Aside from how incredibly ignorant it is to begin with (with the other two, I can at least see where their fear and ignorance is coming from. This has to be drug induced.), they don’t really believe that. The ones hiding in bunkers in the woods surrounded by firearms believe it. The rest do not. They talk about their conspiracy theory with everyone they can find who will listen. If they really though the government was doing such a thing to them, then they’d be running like hell or revolting.

And so…

People join these “causes” because they are trendy. They’re like the Kony campaign. They don’t care about facts. They don’t care about being intellectually honest. They only care about the bandwagon ideology that they’ve jumped on and makes them sound “real” in front of their friends. This is the sort of thought process that those of us in the rational community are up against every day.

As Sam Harris said…

“If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide that proves they should value evidence.

If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument would you invoke to prove they should value logic?”

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

 

 

The Straight White male (me) to Fred Phelp’s near death

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As a straight, white man and all the privileges bestowed on me because of those facts, I can honestly say, I am glad that this hateful man will soon no longer be among our ranks.

My fellows in the critical thinking community may think that it’s better left alone, but I hope that to the deluded assholes that think like Phelps, this serves as a reminder. Whether you believe in god or not, you’ll either burn in your gods hell for hate, or you will burn in the history that you created for yourself.

Either way, you have made your bed, Phelps. Lay in it for eternity.

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/03/fred-phelps-may-be-dying-but-the-lgbt-community-should-let-him-go-quietly/

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.