Freethought

The fundamentalist Christian preacher who became an atheist…

 

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From The New Humanist

The fundamentalist Christian preacher who became an atheist
After 19 years as a self-proclaimed “extremist”, Dan Barker renounced his faith – and he wants everyone to know about it.

Few atheists know the Bible as intimately as Dan Barker. Few, after all, can profess to have begun their careers as fundamentalist Christian preachers. Currently co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an American non-profit organisation, Barker was a self-proclaimed “extremist” for 19 years, until he renounced the faith.

Given how vehemently the 66-year-old now defends a life free of any supernatural authority, I ask him if he regrets the consequences that his Christian ministry may have had on people he would now describe as vulnerable. “Yes, I do regret a lot of it,” he says with candour. “I would counsel people to pray for healing. That’s dangerous. That’s harmful. People die from that. And I acted irresponsibly with my health, because I knew that God was going to take care of me.” This is a window that, once opened, is difficult to close. Barker reels off multiple instances in which he believes that he seriously damaged the lives of his parishioners.

In Arizona, a woman approached him, looking for faith healing to cure her of an illness. The two prayed together and when, inevitably, it did nothing, he said, “Let it be unto you according to your faith” (a reference to a line originally found in Matthew 8:13). “In other words,” Barker says, “it was her fault. She walked out of that meeting not only not healed but feeling chastised. It’s not a kind way to treat another human being.”

The closing of the Christian mind…

 

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From The New Humanist

In the late fourth century political expediency led a ruthless Roman emperor to shut down debate within the Christian church…

In 313 the Roman emperor Constantine, flushed with a military victory against a rival that he attributed to the Christian god, issued an Edict of Toleration in which he promised that “no one whatsoever should be denied freedom to devote himself either to the cult of the Christians or to such religion as he deems best for himself.” It was an important moment. The Romans had been generally tolerant of religious sects but Christians had enraged many by their denigration of traditional gods and this had led to persecution. Now they were brought under the patronage of the state. It was an astonishing turnaround and the church flourished.

Over the next 60 years the principle of toleration was largely honoured and given sophisticated backing. In 364 a pagan court orator, Themistius, argued before a Christian emperor, Jovian, that it was essential to maintain freedom of religion and speech. “A king”, he declared “cannot control his subjects in everything, there are some matters which have escaped compulsion, for example the whole question of virtue and, above all, reverence for the divine.” God had given all “a disposition towards piety … but lets the manner of worship depend on individual inclination.” The health of a society depended on free debate. There was no one road to truth and, he concluded, God actually enjoys being worshipped in a diversity of ways.

Richard Dawkins calls for religion ‘to be offended at every opportunity’…

 

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From The Independent

Dawkins says it’s ridiculous to be accused of racism when you criticise Islam

Richard Dawkins has said he is in favour of offending people’s religion and it should be offended at every opportunity. The controversial atheist academic, 75, argued the public was too worried about being viewed as racist and claimed it is absurd to be accused of racism for criticising Islam.

Dawkins said this was the result of an “absurd double standard” in the Western world which means people are more anxious about attacking Islam than Christianity. “People are terrified of being thought racist,” he told The Times. “There’s an awful confusion in many people’s minds. They think Islam is a race, which of course it isn’t”.

Christianity is an immoral system…

 


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Ingersoll’s Vow…

 

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From ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)

When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.

The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave.

Pie In The Sky

 

Thanks to Bruce

Chorus:
You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die (that’s a lie)

Long-haired preachers come out every night
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
But when asked about something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet

And the starvation army they play
And they sing and they clap and they pray
Till they get all your coin on the drum
Then they tell you when you’re on the bum

Faith vs. Science

 

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From Atheist Republic

A friend recently told me that he believes earth was visited by alien beings many eons ago, and that they return from time to time to check on our development. When I questioned him about the evidence he used to support this conclusion, he referred me to articles he had read asserting the early Egyptian builders demonstrated skills beyond their capacity. The article stated that many of those same skills were also seen in other locations throughout the world. I suggested to him the possibility that there may be other more mundane explanations that could be investigated to discover the truth of coincidental technological development, but he rejected that possibility and chose to speculate.

Whenever we choose to believe in any proposition without supporting evidence to demonstrate the truth of that proposition, we must accept the fact that the proposition is probably wrong. Man is a curious species, and is always searching for the ‘reasons why’ things are the way they are and how they came to be that way. In the past, and without the benefit of scientific methodology, we have relied on speculation for answers, and in some cases accepted those answers as truth.

The Reason Rally, June 4, 2016, Washington D.C…

 

 

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association is proud to be a major sponsor of the Reason Rally, likely the largest gathering of humanists, atheists, and freethinkers in history! On June 4, thousands of humanists, atheists, freethinkers, and allies will gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., for a fun-filled day of speakers and entertainers, all to celebrate reason!

If you’re planning to arrive to Washington, D.C. early, stop by the American Humanist Association headquarters at 1777 T Street NW (just a 10-minute walk from the Dupont Circle Metro station) and come meet our staff! That week our offices will only be open WednesdayFriday from 9am-5pm. Also, Wednesday night, June 1, our DC-AHA chapter is holding its monthly Happy Hour, which you can RSVP for while space remains via Meetup.

Freethought is not ‘Everyone Is Right’ Thought

 

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From Tri-State Freethinkers

One of the common responses to our billboard campaign from theists has been “Some ‘free’ thinkers you are! You dismiss anyone who thinks differently than you!”. The irony of these statements is overwhelming. There seems to be some confusion as to what “freethought” is and what it means to be a “freethinker”. Let’s start with the definition:

FREETHOUGHT  noun (dictionary.com)
thought unrestrained by deference to authority, tradition, or established belief, especially in matters of religion.

Freethought is not, as many appear to think, the universal reverence and acceptance of
any idea or belief system.  As freethinkers, we believe that every viewpoint should be rigorously tested, examined, and criticized. We believe that ideas conceived from sources that cannot be questioned, such as religion, authority, or dogma, are dangerous. When an idea or belief is above criticism, it cannot grow or change with how we see the world.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell in his 1957 essay “The Value of Free Thought” wrote:

“What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought he finds a balance of evidence in their favor, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.”

Our criticism of the story of Noah’s Ark is the result of a pragmatic examination of the Bible, and not, as some would believe, out of hatred for Christianity. The story of Noah’s Ark is part of the Christian creation myth. Believing this story to be fact, despite overwhelming consensus from multiple disciplines of science, is not only wrong, but dangerous. Teaching children and adults to ignore scientific fact in favor of unquestionable dogma will prevent our society from progressing in areas of science, medicine, and human rights.
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Freethinker: The Skeptic in the Room…

 

Thanks to Bruce

I’m always amazed that some people believe
things that defy common sense
How do they accept the bizarre and the odd
for which there is no evidence
Sure, some people say that it’s harmless
And I wish I could just let it go…
But it’s not what we know that makes trouble
It’s what we know – that just isn’t so.

It’s always such a drag to be the skeptic in the room
I state my case and watch the room grow silent as a tomb
‘Cause I’m the one who always says “How’s that supposed to work?”
Which makes me end up sounding like an overbearing jerk

Yes, it’s a drag to always be the lonely skeptic in the room
I have to speak my mind when pseudo-science starts to bloom
Although I try to hold my tongue sometimes I just can’t make it quit…,
‘Cause people sure believe some crazy shit!

In Sweden, we no longer have religion because we took away the reasons people still believe…

 

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From Reddit

[When we are educated, secure, and free, we no longer want or need a god, or gods, and religion disappears… ds]

I am a soon to be 40 years old Swedish game developer. This is my try to explain how Sweden cured religion.

I’m living in a totally non-believing world. I’m using the word world because it is my world. This is not strictly true for every single Swedish person, we have older people voting for the Christian party (about 4%) and we have a bunch of young people believing in (in Sweden) almost harmless new age stuff.

First off, so you don’t fall into the pit of denying all I have to say on a notion that I’m hiding something. It wasn’t so long ago you were born into the Swedish church, I had to actively file a form to officially leave it and not until after that was I relived from paying church tax. This is not the case anymore but no matter that is not what I mean when I’m talking about that we are secular. We have been “unbelievers” for a long time, most of my parents’ generation do not believe in a god even though my parent’s parents did.

Freethinker: The Religion of Usefulness…

 

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From Robert G. Ingersoll (1833 – 1899)

Let us be honest. Let us preserve the veracity of our souls. Let education commence in the cradle—in the lap of the loving mother. This is the first school. The teacher, the mother, should be absolutely honest.

The nursery should not be an asylum for lies.

Parents should be modest enough to be truthful, honest enough to admit their ignorance. Nothing should be taught as true that cannot be demonstrated.

Every child should be taught to doubt, to inquire, to demand reasons. Every soul should defend itself—should be on its guard against falsehood, deceit, and mistake, and should beware of all kinds of confidence men, including those in the pulpit.

Children should be taught to express their doubts—to demand reasons. The object of education should be to develop the brain, to quicken the senses. Every school should be a mental gymnasium. The child should be equipped for the battle of life.

Freethinker: What Has God Done For Me Lately?

 

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From Carl Coon
The Humanist

I’m getting tired of this whole God business. I used to regard God with a sort of benevolent patience, like a successful author might regard an English teacher who used to give him a hard time when he was in the eighth grade but has long since become a nuisance. That author really doesn’t need to be reminded when not to split an infinitive, and I am getting pretty damn tired of being reminded that I must behave this way or that, or I’ll not go to heaven.

Ok, God was a useful stepping stone in the long course of cultural evolution that has made us a uniquely successful species. He (God’s typically been cast as a “he”) was a useful crutch that made people behave themselves and act for the better of their group even when they didn’t want to. Now that we know what we are and how we got this way, we don’t need that crutch anymore; we have a more reasoned and consistent basis for judging right from wrong. We obey the law of the land not only because we may go to jail if we don’t, but because we want to obey it—we know we have to pay up to support a system we all profit from. Existing within a web of mostly implicit contractual relationships of that nature, we learn to navigate among them at an early age, and it is this willingness that provides the lubricants that keep the wheels of our society turning.

Humanist Bart Campolo Talks About Making the Most of the Only Life We Have…

 

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Hope Is What Remains…

 

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From Greg Camp
The Humanist

Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has long explored humanistic themes…

April marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of Rush’s album 2112, described by Rolling Stone as the band’s “prog-rock magnum opus” and by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson as their “protest album.”

It was reported earlier this year that Neil Peart, drummer for the Canadian rock trio, Rush, would retire from touring after four decades with the band, citing chronic tendonitis as the reason he was, to borrow his words, taking himself out of the game. (The band has left open the possibility that they’ll record more music in the future.) This is actually the second time Peart has left the stage, the first being in the late 1990s when his daughter died in a car accident and his wife died ten months later of cancer. But after four decades as the lyrical heart and rhythmic foundation of an iconic band, perhaps this time is really the end of an era.

The inescapable reality of our lives is that these machines—organs and connective tissue and bones—are destined to wear out. If our bodies are designed, let us note, the designer offers a short warranty and a planned obsolescence. But acknowledging the realities only underscores the loss we feel when those who have spent years expanding human culture must step back from daily continuation of this work. One song, “Losing It,” from Rush’s 1982 album Signals must have been particularly poignant when performed on the band’s fortieth anniversary tour last year, considering that its theme is the end of careers in the arts, explored in the examples of an aging dancer and writer and evoked by Peart’s quotation of John Donne, “the bell tolls for thee.”

We’re constantly faced with brush fires…

 

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From Amit Pal
Freedom From Religion Foundation

At the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we’re constantly faced with brush fires. We manage to extinguish one successfully, and others pop up just as quickly.

A fire of biblical proportions
We focused this week on a fire of biblical proportions: Ken Ham’s so-called Creation Museum. Ken is free to do whatever he wants, but we strenuously object to public schools subjecting their kids to his nonsense. Alarmingly, we’ve learned that several public schools in the region have already made or are planning trips to Ham’s literalist ode to the scriptures. What they will see there is a diorama of a human and a dinosaur together, implying that they existed simultaneously. Each display at this “museum” contrasts science with a literalist interpretation of the bible. Public schools shouldn’t be patronizing and subsidizing such places, and we’re calling them on it.

We’re still combating “Jesus Lunch”
We’re still fighting the conflagration set off by the “Jesus Lunch” folks next door in Middleton High School. The organizers insisted on again putting on their religion-infused weekly meal at a park adjacent to the school, and so we countered them with delicious pizza (some of it provided free by Ian’s Pizza, a local institution). We also sent out an Action Alert urging you to contact the Middleton city authorities and ask them to see things the Middleton-Cross Plains School District’s way, which is to have the pious parents out of the park.

Freethought Report…

 

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The Freedom of Thought Report is an annual survey on discrimination and persecution against non-religious people in countries around the world. The latest report is available free to download.

The first report was published in 2012 on International Human Rights Day, 10 December. In his preface to the report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said:

“As a universal human right, freedom of religion or belief has a broad application. However, there seems to be little awareness that this right also provides a normative frame of reference for atheists, humanists and freethinkers and their convictions, practices and organizations. I am therefore delighted that for the first time the Humanist community has produced a global report on discrimination against atheists. I hope it will be given careful consideration by everyone concerned with freedom of religion or belief.”

For the 2013 report we asked two victims of anti-atheist persecution to provide the introductory remarks. The cases of Kacem El Ghazzali and Alber Saber, from Morocco and Egypt respectively, also feature in the report. They said:

“In spite of international treaties and conventions, many states discriminate in subtler but important ways. And this has a global impact. Laws against “insulting” religion in relatively secure, relatively secular countries, for example, are not only analogues of the most vicious blasphemy laws anywhere in the world, but help to sustain the global norm under which thought is policed and punished.

We welcome this report. The world cannot fix these problems until they are laid bare.”

In 2014, in their preface, Gulalai Ismail and Agnes Ojera, both working to promote human rights in Pakistan and Uganda respectively, said:

“The rights of the non-religious, and the rights of religious minorities and non-conformists, are a touchstone for the freedoms of thought and expression at large. Discrimination and persecution against the non-religious in particular is very often bound up with political suppression, with fears about progressive values, or with oppression in the name of religion. Humanists and secularists are often among the first to ask questions, and to raise the alarm when human rights are being trampled, when religion is misused or abused, or — even with the best intentions — if religion has become part of the problem. Silence the non-religious, and you silence some of the leading voices of responsible concern in society.”

On this site you can find out more about the reportmake a submission, and download the latest report.
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Freethinker: Sam Harris Reads From and Discusses ‘The End of Faith’

 

Sam Harris Reads and Discusses the First Chapter of his August 2004 Book: The End of Faith… the first and seminal book of the New Atheists…
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Freethinker: All-Pro NFL running back Arian Foster talks about his personal values…

 


My name is Arian Foster, and I am openly secular.

My beliefs in regard to the existence of god is, I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve done a lot of research, a lot of digging on my own, and I think that that’s the first step as human beings is trying to understand the world we live in. And then if there is anything, I was trying to understand that, as well. But I just don’t think we’re there yet to have any proof either way, so it’s hard for me to buy into all of it.

I’m not a religious person. I never was – well, let me take that back. I grew up in a Muslim household. My father was Muslim, and I used to pray five times a day. And I think the big thing with him was he didn’t want us to…he didn’t want to pigeonhole us into any belief. He believes in freethinking kids, and so I think that was the biggest gift my parents ever gave me: they let us be freethinkers. So, after a while, I just didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t have anything against it; I just didn’t understand why we were doing some of the things we were doing.

God Was Never On Your Side…

 

Thanks to Bruce

If the stars fall down on me
And the sun refuse to shine
Then may the shackles be undone,
And all the old words, cease to rhyme.
If the skies, turn into stone,
It will matter not at all,
For there is no heaven in the sky,
Hell does not wait for our downfall,

Let the voice of reason shine,
Let the pious vanish for all times,
God’s face is, hidden, all unseen,
You can’t ask him what it all means
He was never on your side,
God was never on your side
Let right or wrong, alone decide,
God was never on your side.

See the ten thousand ministries,
See the holy righteous dogs,
They claim to heal
but all they do is steal,
Abuse your faith, cheat & rob.
If god is wise, why is he still,
When these false prophets
call him friends,
Why is he silent, is he blind,
Are we abandoned in the end?

Let the sword of reason shine,
Let us be free of prayer & shrine
God’s face is hidden, turned away
He never has a word to say
He was never on your side
God was never on your side
Let right or wrong, alone decide,
God was never on your side.
(No, No, No)

He was never on your side,
God was never on your side
Never, Never, Never, Never,
Never on your side [x2]
God was never on your side,
Never on your side.
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Can Religion be an Addiction?

 

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From 

“I’ve never been happier since I quit my 30-year addiction to Jesus.” – A Former Believer

To a medical researcher, the word addiction has a specific biological meaning. But in common vernacular, it means approximately thisthe state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, such as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. 

Based on this definition some religious experiences seem a lot like addictions—at least that’s what former believers say.

Blogger and former Christian Sandra Kee, looks back at her family history and sees religion and addiction as a messy tangle: “My family for several generations was in a dysfunctional and addictive religious life, using God (or what we believed about God) as a drug. Many of the family who left religion simply traded for another addiction. The generations that entered into religion did so to escape alcoholism and other addictions (though it wasn’t called addiction back then). Many who remained in religion developed additional addictions as well.”

The Hitch: Christopher Hitchens Documentary…

 


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Christian Crock: Christopher Hitchens Deathbed Conversion? Ha!

 

Contrary to the video of Hitchens above, before his death at 62, Christopher Hitchens, the uber-atheist and best-selling author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” considered becoming a Christian claims “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist.”

The author is Larry Alex Taunton, an evangelical Christian who knew Hitchens for three years and, he says, had private, unrecorded conversations with him about Christianity.

“At the end of his life, Christopher’s searches had brought him willingly, if secretly, to the altar,” Taunton writes at the end of the book. “Precisely what he did there, no one knows.”…

Full article here
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The Challenges Facing Atheists in the U.S….

 


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Should Atheists Send Their Children To Sunday School?

 

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From Robert Ingersoll (1833 – 1899)

Should parents, who are Infidels, unbelievers or Atheists, send their children to Sunday schools and churches to give them the benefit of Christian education?

Parents who do not believe the Bible to be an inspired book should not teach their children that it is. They should be absolutely honest. Hypocrisy is not a virtue, and, as a rule, lies are less valuable than facts.

An unbeliever should not allow the mind of his child to be deformed, stunted and shriveled by superstition. He should not allow the child’s imagination to be polluted. Nothing is more outrageous than to take advantage of the helplessness of childhood to sow in the brain the seeds of falsehoods, to imprison the soul in the dungeon of Fear, to teach dimpled infancy the infamous dogma of eternal pain—filling life with the glow and glare of hell.

No unbeliever should allow his child to be tortured in the orthodox inquisitions. He should defend the mind from attack as he would the body. He should recognize the rights of the soul. In the orthodox Sunday schools, children are taught that it is a duty to believe—that evidence is not essential—that faith is independent of facts and that religion is superior to reason. They are taught not to use their natural sense—not to tell what they really think—not to entertain a doubt—not to ask wicked questions, but to accept and believe what their teachers say. In this way the minds of the children are invaded, corrupted and conquered. Would an educated man send his child to a school in which Newton’s statement in regard to the attraction of gravitation was denied—in which the law of falling bodies, as given by Galileo, was ridiculed—Kepler’s three laws declared to be idiotic, and the rotary motion of the earth held to be utterly absurd?

Freethinkers: Happy Birthday Christopher Hitchens…

 


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