Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Blasphemy, Everyday life, Morality, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

Atheist Spirituality??

That no wise the nature of all things

For us was fashioned by power divine

So great the faults it stand encumbered with.

Titus Lucretius Carus

Lucretius
Lucretius (Photo credit: Ancient Commentators)

I just finished reading  L’Espirit de l’athéisme – Introduction à une spiritualité sans Dieu  by André Comte-Sponville. This book’s title has been translated (??) into English as The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. Why didn’t they use  “The Spirit of Atheism – An Introduction to Spirituality Without God”?

The book has three chapters:

I) Can We Do Without Religion?

II) Does God Exist?

III) Can There Be an Atheist Spirituality?

In the first chapter Comte-Sponville says that we can do without religion but wants to hold on to certain aspects of religion. Get rid of faith but keep fidelity, keep communion and love. He also thinks that secular rites such as funerals are bad copies of their religious counterparts. He worries that Nihilism is a danger in this new era and proposes Humanism to counter this threat.

The second chapter goes through many examples of the lack of evidence and strong arguments for the belief in a god. Comte-Sponville writes of the mediocrity of mankind, the problem of evil, the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, amongst others. If you are already an atheist you have been there many times before, if not, it will be new territory.

The third and last chapter touches on spirituality. But what is spirit?

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“The human spirit…is our noblest part, or rather our highest function, the thing that makes us not only different from other animals…but greater than and superior to them” 

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“Whatever it is, we can use it to think, to want, or to imagine…. It is the power to think, insofar as it gives us access to truth, universality, or laughter. It is likely that without the brain, this ability would be able to do nothing at all or would not even exist” 

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“The spirit is not a substance. Rather, it is a function, a capacity, an act (the act of thinking, willing, imagining, making wisecracks)”

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In the end he says that it does not matter if this “thing” is the brain. He talks of the capacity to live in the present and give no importance to the past and the future, as they do not exist. He is highly influenced by eastern religion, delving deeply into personal experience as he  goes into an explanation of immanence and  letting go of one’s ego, being part of everything or having what he calls an  “oceanic feeling”.

If by spirit he means the human ability for empathy, awe, ethics and curiosity, that is fine. Give it another name. I am not sure, but “Ethos” would work better for me and remove the possible supernatural connotation.

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism

See you next time.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

Here again

I have been delinquent in my posting, so sorry. A long needed vacation got in the way.

Beach (1)

Just before leaving for my vacation, I had some nice interaction with some family members about my atheism. I am very sure that most of you have already gone through this:

Why do you have to be so vocal about your atheism? Why don’t you just keep it to yourself?

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No offense, I love you and my intention is not to offend you…I like many have my doubts, and sometimes I believe and sometimes I doubt.I respect that you’re an atheist and you are absolutely sure of your belief. But what I criticize and I see as even a little ridiculous is making atheism a religion, with lectures and symposia. All you need now is to start having Masses to Saint Atheist.

 

How do you like them cookies?

Nice double standard. I have to – and do – tolerate people wearing crosses, a star of David, an Om symbol or whatever symbol of religiosity, but I can’t wear my atheist bands or t-shirts without somebody bothering me. Good thing my Happy Humanist pins don’t cause any trouble. I must tolerate constant references to a deity, but one word of disbelief and I am being militant.

And well, I am loved and respected but I am ridiculous. But enough of that, on to the vacation.

By no means was I only lying on the beach and sipping on a nice cool drink.

I got a chance to read Testament: Memoir of the Thoughts and Sentiments of Jean Meslier and to start reading  L’ Esprit De  L‘Atheisme (The soul of atheism) by André Comte-Sponville. The first book I bought on my own accord and the second was a gift from a friend.

Meslier’s book is an interesting impeachment of religion with a dash of anti-monarchism, a pinch of animal rights and a touch of communism. It is probably the first book on atheism. A very interesting read although a bit repetitive. Meslier really wanted to get his message across.

I will get back to you on my thought of Comte-Sponville’s book when I finish it.

At lunch the very first day I came back to work, I got into an enjoyable discussion  on some well-known topics:

You can’t have morality if you don’t have religion.

Hitler was an atheist.

Homeopathy works.

I already have a previous post on the first one: Borrowed Morality and never have given the second much of a thought, although what I read in Mein Kampf depicts a Christian, but now I will have to read Ian Kershaw‘s books on Hitler. The third point is defenseless, homeopathy has no scientific backing. You might enjoy this 2009 article in Forbes or this one in The Lancet called Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy .

Things got back to speed very soon after vacation time and that is just fine. How was your week?

See you next time.

P.S.  The Hotel had a nice Nespresso bar so I was never without my daily dose of caffeine.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Blasphemy, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Politics, Religion, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

Support the Atheist Census

After only 17 hours the Atheist Census page went offline as the result of a denial of service (DoS) attack.

There were  8,880 confirmed entries and another  2,300 pending according to the Atheist Alliance International site.

Looks like somebody does not want us to be counted. What are they afraid of?

I hope that the people at AAI get the site up and running soon.

Please support this effort through donations, reblogging, and above all by participating in the census.

Stand up and be counted. Let others know that they are not alone. Let others know that there are more of us than they think we are.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Blasphemy, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Neuroscience, Religion, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

A+ ? Some thoughts on Atheism+

I came across a post called What’s in a Name? (a.k.a. on Atheism+) on the Subjunctive Morality blog, and later his Confrontationalism and Bridge Burning? (More on Atheism+) post. And this took me to reading some more posts on the matter of this fledgling movement called Atheism+.

I have read with interest the various posts by famous atheists such as Greta Christina , Hemant Mehta and of course the originator of the movement (although some dispute that) Jen McCreight.

And there are more posts by the minute.

Let me start off by saying “I hate you”. I really don’t, but you are making my lapel look like a Boy Scout sash with all the different pins I must wear.

First of all, I consider myself a skeptic (sceptic for those of you in the UK) and a Freethinker. Atheism is only a subset of Freethinking and as has been said elsewhere, the dictionary atheist just does not believe in deities.

But what do I believe?

Well, in matters of what I believe you can call me a Humanist, Humanist with a capital H.

You can also call me a Bright (another one of the lapel pins I regularly wear).

Don’t get me wrong, I am an Atheist and proudly use my scarlet A.

You can be a humanist and believe in deities, but if you are a Humanist, then you are necessarily an Atheist.

If you are a Bright you are also an Atheist, the brights have a Naturalistic worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements, with corresponding ethics and morals.

International Humanist and Ethical Union Minimum Statement on Humanism:

“Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.”

 

In my opinion Atheism+ is Humanism but done in an outspoken manner  or as I read in a comment by Andy to this post It’s Just Atheism, Part II (or Why A+ Already Exists) “Atheism+ is Humanism on steroids”.

Symbol of the Brights
Symbol of the Brights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just a few of the symbols I wear on my lapel (not all at the same time…I was just kidding about the sash).

We can use all the labels that we wish, but let us strive to be true Humanists with respect for the rights of others and not just have a nice declaration on paper. As a friend of mine always says “Being an atheist does not confer superpowers, you can be an atheist and also be a jerk”.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

Report: Beliefs about God across Time and Countries

Jacaranda: one of my favorite trees.

A recently released report by Tom W. Smith (NORC/University of Chicago) called “Beliefs about God across Time and Countries”  reflects a tendancy of  lesser belief in God, although the changes are modest and vary country to country. With an overall drop in belief of 2.4 points.

 Five countries had a mixed pattern with some measures moving towards  and some away from belief (West Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Philippines, and the United States). Ten countries showed consistent decline in belief (Australia, Austria, East Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, and Poland). For 1998 to 2008 five countries (West Germany, Israel, Japan, Russia, and Slovenia) showed consistent growth in belief. Nine countries (Denmark, East Germany, Hungary, the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States) had a mixed pattern with movement (mostly small) in opposite directions. Sixteen countries showed decreases in belief on all measures.1

 There have been three ISSP religion studies over the years and this paper analysis the 30 countries that were in at least two of the three ISSP rounds and appear in the 1991-­‐2008 merged ISSP Religion file created by GESIS.2-4

Of note, the younger segment of this study population (<28 years of age) have lower belief than a decade ago in 77% of the countries studied, having a decrease in belief of 2.5 points.

Also of interest, the fact that there is an increase in belief in the older groups, perhaps in anticipation of mortality. Could it be that they are accepting Pascal’s Wager? Well that will be a matter for a future post I believe.

In short, the study demonstrates a modest shift towards less belief worldwide, with a mixed pattern across different countries. The trend of secularization most notable in ex-socialist states, Northwestern European countries, and in general in the Industrialized nations with some exceptions.

See you next time.

REFERENCES

1) Beliefs About God Across Time and Countries. Tom W. Smith. NORC at the University of Chicago 18 April 2012. Report for the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and GESIS.

2) International Social Survey Programme 1991: Religion I (ISSP 1991)
3) International Social Survey Programme 1998: Religion II (ISSP 1998)
4) International Social Survey Programme 2008: Religion III (ISSP 2008)

I suffered through…2:10:34

I suffered through the 15 April 2012 The Magic Sandwich Show , all 9 parts . Two hours, ten minutes and 34 seconds of it.

Well, not really, in fact I enjoyed it very much.

Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Bruggencate are Presuppositional apologists who as a condition for “debate” demand that you accept that everybody knows the existence of God is true.

The main presupposition is that God exists and his word is true

Sye Ten Bruggencate

If we want to be intellectually honest, I am always going to go back to the circular argument that God reveals. How do I know? God reveals. How do I know? God reveals.

Eric Hovind

You can sum this up  in the phrase  The reason for reason is God. So end of discussion. Your reason comes from God and even if you deny the existence of God in your heart you know, as everybody does that he exists. You are lying to yourself or so the contend.

This kind of apologetic proves absolutely nothing and relies on…wait a minute…

You guessed it…Faith.

Well I am so sorry, but faith does not prove a thing.

They have no argument, are not willing to have a decent confrontation of ideas. Either you agree with their point of view or you are evading the truth that lies within your heathen heart. They have no desire for debate, all they want is to have a forum where they can do a monologue. A public place to proselytize. Reason has no place with this pair. As is true of Christian Presupposition Apologetics and any other line of “thought” that demands acceptance of a fixed idea before accepting debate. The scientific method is nonexistent to them.

I most surely empathized with AronRa’s frustration and had I been participating, might also have raised my voice at them. By the way AronRa must be commended on his effort given the time difference and his throat ailment. On the other hand, I believe that letting this couple of guys blow wind and expose themselves was a very good tactic, in line with this quote:

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Napoleon Bonaparte

If you have time, I recommend that you give the whole 2 hours, 10 minutes and 34 seconds of the show a good look, and if not here is the video by Thunderf00t that pretty much puts it into a nutshell:

See you next time.