Freethought

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion…

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From Sam Harris

I once participated in a twenty-three-day wilderness program in the mountains of Colorado. If the purpose of this course was to expose students to dangerous lightning and half the world’s mosquitoes, it was fulfilled on the first day. What was in essence a forced march through hundreds of miles of backcountry culminated in a ritual known as “the solo,” where we were finally permitted to rest—alone, on the outskirts of a gorgeous alpine lake—for three days of fasting and contemplation.

I had just turned sixteen, and this was my first taste of true solitude since exiting my mother’s womb. It proved a sufficient provocation. After a long nap and a glance at the icy waters of the lake, the promising young man I imagined myself to be was quickly cut down by loneliness and boredom. I filled the pages of my journal not with the insights of a budding naturalist, philosopher, or mystic but with a list of the foods on which I intended to gorge myself the instant I returned to civilization. Judging from the state of my consciousness at the time, millions of years of hominid evolution had produced nothing more transcendent than a craving for a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake.

Richard Dawkins: Militant Atheism…

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Download video

Richard Dawkins urges all atheists to openly state their position — and to fight the incursion of the church into politics and science. A fiery, funny, powerful talk.

That splendid music, the coming-in music – “The Elephant March” from “Aida” — is the music I’ve chosen for my funeral – (Laughter) – and you can see why. It’s triumphal. I won’t feel anything, but if I could, I would feel triumphal at having lived at all, and at having lived on this splendid planet, and having been given the opportunity to understand something about why I was here in the first place, before not being here.

0:48Can you understand my quaint English accent? Like everybody else, I was entranced yesterday by the animal session. Robert Full and Frans Lanting and others – the beauty of the things they showed. The only slight jarring note was when Jeffrey Katzenberg said of the mustang, “the most splendid creatures that God put on this earth.” Now of course, we know that he didn’t really mean that,but in this country at the moment, you can’t be too careful. (Laughter)

1:26I’m a biologist, and the central theorem of our subject: the theory of design,Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. In professional circles everywhere, it’s of course universally accepted. In non-professional circles outside America, it’s largely ignored. But in non-professional circles within America, it arouses so much hostility – (Laughter) – that it’s fair to say that American biologists are in a state of war. The war is so worrying at present, with court cases coming up in one state after another, that I felt I had to say something about it.

Sam Harris: The Problem With Atheism…

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From SAM HARRIS

(This is an edited transcript of a talk given at the Atheist Alliance conference in Washington D.C. on September 28th, 2007)

To begin, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge just how strange it is that a meeting like this is even necessary. The year is 2007, and we have all taken time out of our busy lives, and many of us have traveled considerable distance, so that we can strategize about how best to live in a world in which most people believe in an imaginary God. America is now a nation of 300 million people, wielding more influence than any people in human history, and yet this influence is being steadily corrupted, and is surely waning, because 240 million of these people apparently believe that Jesus will return someday and orchestrate the end of the world with his magic powers. Of course, we may well wonder whether as many people believe these things as say they do. I know that Christopher [Hitchens] and Richard [Dawkins] are rather optimistic that our opinion polls are out of register with what people actually believe in the privacy of their own minds.  But there is no question that most of our neighbors reliably profess that they believe these things, and such professions themselves have had a disastrous affect on our political discourse, on our public policy, on the teaching of science, and on our reputation in the world. And even if only a third or a quarter of our neighbors believe what most profess, it seems to me that we still have a problem worth worrying about.

The Perils Faced by My Atheist Family in Our God-Obsessed Community…

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From AlterNet

My children are surrounded by other kids’ prayers and patriotism, but I’m determined to teach them to ignore it.

“Goddammit!” “God bless you!” “For God’s sake!” “God forbid!”

My children have heard me take “the Lord’s name in vain.” These expressions slip out as easily as expletives and are part of my vernacular, even though I don’t believe in God.

God is not exactly welcome in our home.

I’m not a hater (at least not anymore). I’m an atheist. My daughters know I’m the tooth fairy; they have no use for Santa Claus; and would consider the Bible a collection of boring, inaccessible stories (at worst) or fables on par with Greek and Roman mythology (at best).

I’m raising good kids. They are good without God. They will not go to hell … because there is no hell. Neither will they go to heaven … because there is no heaven. I have taught my girls that “heaven” and “hell” are what we humans create for ourselves and each other right here on earth.

Atheist. Say it over and over again and it sounds like a meaningless label.  I prefer to call myself a humanist, which expresses what I embrace rather than what I reject. Humanism is my religion. I have faith in the higher power of people – our capacity, indeed our yearning, to do good.  If you think sustaining faith in an invisible God or his sacrificial dead son is challenging, try being a spiritual humanist. People fuck up all the time: We disappoint, we hurt each other, we fail miserably. To err is human. But to forgive at least feels divine.

Leaving Fundamentalism While Living In Dixie…

From Neil Carter
Godless In Dixie

[...] I paid a steep price for my exit from religious indoctrination.  When you go through as tough a time as I did leaving your faith, you learn the value of talking through the process with others.  And it helps to have more people writing as former insiders.  I spent the first 35 years of my life inside Evangelical culture in the heart of the Deep South.  I was a devout believer for at least 20 of those years, and while I’ve since left the faith of my youth, I still live in the thickest of religious contexts in this country.  Most of those closest to me are still happy members of that society.  So I’ve got one foot in and one foot out; I’m a cultural amphibian, if you will.  I have to interact with devout Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, and Presbyterians on a daily basis, knowing full well that the only reason they’re comfortable talking to me is because they assume I’m one of them.  That’s a natural assumption to make around here.  I look and sound just like them, so they think I also believe all the same things they believe because most everyone else they know does, too.  Life for a non-believer in a place like this can be very difficult.  And if for some reason you work up the nerve to tell people you’re not a member of their religion, you’re in for some special treatment.  Needless to say, there aren’t many “out” atheists in Mississippi.

Hitchens on Palestine…

“The idea of building a state of Jewish farmers on Arab land in the Middle East is a stupid idea… I’ve been writing in favour of a Palestinian Homeland all my life. I’m no more, no less in favour of it now… it should be a matter of principle, if Jews born in Brooklyn have a right to a state in Palestine, then Palestinians born in Jerusalem have a right to a state in Palestine. Anyone who doesn’t agree with that principle I think is suspect.”
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Introduction to AtheistTV featuring Dr. Madalyn Murray O’Hair…

This video was the first-ever broadcast on Atheist TV, the world’s first TV channel dedicated to atheism-friendly content. Atheist TV is available free via Roku or free online at http://www.atheists.tv Click the settings “gear” wheel to view in HD 720p Subscribe to this YouTube channel | Support Atheist TV at http://www.atheists.org/donate
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Thumbs Up for AtheistTV…

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From FreeThoughtBlogs
AtheistTV on Roku

Ken Ham hates it! He’s actually pretty clueless.

The new channel brags of having “superstition-free programming,” which implies that religion is just silly superstition but atheism is rational and logical. However, laws of logic and rationality only makes sense if God, who is logical, created them and made us in His image so that we can understand them! Laws of logic shouldn’t exist in a completely random materialistic universe that the atheists believe in —and yet they do!

But god is illogical. There is no reason to believe in any deity, let alone the bizarre one Ken Ham worships, who is little more than a tribal warlord writ large, promoting archaic ideas like blood sacrifice.

Substitute Teacher Fired for His Music Video Mocking Religion Finally Gets Some Justice…

Last year, I posted a delightfully funny video about two parents teaching their daughter about different religions, only to have her respond with “That doesn’t make sense!” to all of them:


That video was made by guitarist Jonathan Hurley and actress Whitney Avalon (who played the parents) and they even won an award for it last month. Yay! Happy ending, right?

Turns out that wasn’t the case for Hurley.

Living the “Ex” in Ex-Muslim…

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From ExMuslim Blogs

Dear Abujee (father),

I am writing this letter to you to explain why the value of a God in the twenty first century is deteriorating. By looking at the history of the human race one can notice a pattern of evolution. We have evolved in every aspect and nothing is as it was a hundred years ago. As a computer programmer you have single handedly experienced the evolution of technology in your field. You once told me that you worked on creating an instant messaging software as an undergraduate in the 1980’s. You told me it was remarkable to send one message from one computer to another. Now just thirty years later this technology has exponentially progressed to something even greater. This is just one simple example of human progression with ideas through time. This progression is a common trend amongst our species. This trend also exists with the concept of God. By looking at our history one can see that the concept of a higher power has evolved to what it is today. It started with a concept of a spirit and eventually turned into the concept of a single almighty creator of the universe. The evolution of God did not stop there. The concept of a God even existing is being questioned and deteriorating slowly. I believe that the increasing discoveries in science undermine the reason for God’s existence. One day God will play no role in an individual’s life and this day will come sooner than one can imagine.

How Americans Feel About Religious Groups…

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From PEW

Jews, Catholics & Evangelicals Rated Warmly, Atheists and Muslims More Coldly…

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).

ExMuslim: A Conversation With My Mother…

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From ExMuslim Blogs
ExMuslims of North America

This week, my mother dragged me along with her to visit a shrine. She wanted to pay her respects to an Islamic Saint buried there. Apparently, he was well known locally for his preaching efforts and his so-called ‘Supernatural Talent’. On our way, my mother took great enthusiasm in filling me in regarding his life and all the miracles that he performed. How great he was. How he was a pioneer in preaching Islam to our country. How he had so much spiritual power and influence. How incredibly pathetic, I thought. I had to stifle my laughter as my rebuttals and questions were already poised on my tongue. I swallowed them and nodded away instead. What else could I do?

As I entered the mosque, a blatant distinction manifested before my eyes.

Gender Segregation.

Best Cure for Christianity…

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From Debunking Christianity

“Whether Christianity was particular in its mistreatment of women, it never overcame the culture and showed where the culture was wrong…in this or any other regard. The same goes for all religions. Their gods never seemed to be able to break out of the culture. If slavery was the “thing,” the gods and holy men told ‘em how to do slaves. If dominating women was the thing, god and the holy men told ‘em how to do women. If the culture hated homosexuality, then their god hated it too. If they were ignorant about science, their God didn’t know science either. If the culture superstitiously thought blood had some special magical powers, then god used blood to mark doorways and wash away sins. If the culture thought diseases and mental illness was due to sin’s curse or demons, then their god acted like that was true too. Why do their gods never tell them anything they don’t already know?” ~~ Dr. Daphne Hampson
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Freethought: “Love is Not Obedience, Conformity, or Submission”…

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Mubarak Is Free: An Atheist On Activism, Human Rights & Getting To Know Heroes…

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From Godless Mom

[Original Story here]

I don’t believe in fate. That much is probably obvious.  I do think that a mind that believes something strongly enough will work, sometimes subconsciously, to make things happen. I think when like-minded people suddenly find themselves amongst each other, the reality is, their like-minds brought them there. Fate… fate is just a cop-out.

My whole life, I’d been less than thrilled with small talk. I don’t like chatting about the weather, talking about make-up or hair, or wasting my precious and limited breath on vacuous subjects that drain me of valuable energy better used for other things. I’m not one to hang around the shallow and collect friends just to up my numbers. I’m choosy. I’m picky. I like a certain type. Other types of people literally exhaust me.

Without an Afterlife, How Do You Deal with Grief?

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From Godless In Dixie

When my children were smaller we lived too far away from their grandparents to just pop over on Christmas morning to exchange presents, so we would typically cram ourselves together with all the cousins and aunts and uncles into the grandparents’ place for the whole week of Christmas.  That way, when the kids woke up at the crack of dawn (and not before, do you understand?), all the presents and stockings and puffy-eyed grown-ups with cameras would be right there, waiting for them.  It was equal parts stressful and fun, as Christmas traditions usually are.  But there was one major downside to this tradition for my family:  One set of cousins always got much bigger presents.

Talk about a letdown!  My poor children would wake up and rush into the living room to see what they got, but before their eyes could even find their own presents, they’d see some huge driving toy or dollhouse or indoor playground that took their overly-zealous parents hours to assemble sitting right there in front of the fireplace, taunting our puny little presents.  Inevitably our kids would see the gargantuan gifts and get excited, ever so briefly thinking those were theirs.  But then it would occur to them thatthey’re looking at the wrong side of the fireplace.  Their presents are over there, taking up far less space and virtually hidden, dwarfed by the sparkling, sound-making childhood-dreams-come-true towering over them.  That moment always put a knot in my stomach because the presents my girls got were usually exactly what they wanted, but their juxtaposition beside the Megatoys from Wonderland always made them look a little sad and disappointing.  To my girls’ credit, they usually adjusted to reality pretty quickly, and we always worked hard to teach them to be happy with what they got.

Alan Watts: The Difference Between Belief and Faith…

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From Brain Pickings

How to master the delicate dance of unconditional openness to the truth.

A century and a half before Carl Sagan explored the relationship between science and religion, Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, contemplated the subject in a beautiful letter. Two centuries later, Alan Lightman crafted an enchanting definition of secular spirituality. This question has also been addressed by Albert Einstein in answering a little girl’s question about whether scientists pray, Flannery O’Connor in considering dogma, belief, and the difference between religion and faith, and Jane Goodall in her exquisite conversation with Bill Moyers on science and spirituality — and yet the question is, and perhaps is bound to remain, an open one.

One of the most articulate and lucid attempts to answer it comes from Alan Watts, who popularized Eastern philosophy in the West, in his fantastic 1951 book The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (public library) — the same treasure trove of insight that gave us Watts on happiness and how to live a full life and his prescient admonition about our modern media gluttony.

Watts writes:

Richard Dawkins: Think for yourself…


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