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Stephanie's Journal

TOPIC: Five Things That Would Make Atheists Seem Nicer
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking

Five things that would make atheists seem nicer
Posted by: Nathan | Sunday, 27 September 2009, 17:51 | Category : Christianity
Source: http://st-eutychus.com/2009/five-things-that-would-make-atheists-seem-nicer/

I am trying really hard to cut down on generalising and bagging out “atheists” rather than specific people and streams of atheism.

They’re not all the same – and they aren’t all out to eat your babies. But atheists (general) keep giving me reason to think bad thoughts about them. Like the two who hijack this thread on Communicate Jesus.

Here are five tips for my atheist friends to help them seem nicer and more reasonable.

1. Stop being so smug.
2. Don’t assume every piece of Christian evangelism is directed at you – we want the undecideds, not the decided-uns.
3. Admit that the debate about God’s existence is complex – and that it can, depending on your presuppositions, be quite possible for intelligent and rational people to intelligently believe in an intervening deity who communicates through a book.
4. Admit that the scientific method – which by its nature relies on induction rather than deduction (starting with a hypothesis and testing it rather than observing facts and forming a hypothesis) – is as open to abuse as any religious belief, and is neither objective nor infallible.
5. Try to deal with the actual notions of God seriously believed in by millions of people rather than inventing strawmen (or spaghetti monsters) to dismiss the concepts of God – and deal with the Bible paying attention to context and the broader Christological narrative rather than quoting obscure Old Testament laws. By all means quote the laws when they are applied incorrectly by “Christians” – but understand how they’re meant to work before dealing with the Christians described in point 3.


Advice for Atheists
Category: Godlessness
Posted on: September 27, 2009 1:31 PM, by PZ Myers
Source: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/advice_for_atheists.php

We're getting advice from Christians now! Look and laugh at this list: Five things that would make atheists seem nicer. It's gone awry even with the title. I especially appreciate the word "seem," because Lord knows there's nothing that could make us actually nice, and obviously we need the suggestions of a Christian, since we're all such not-nice people. I should make a counter-list of "five things that would make Christians seem intelligent" — maybe then one of them would notice the nasty implications of this clown's title.

But I'm the wrong guy to do it. You see, I'm not nice, and proud of it. I have no interest in being nice, and I think it's rather pathetic to start an argument by baring your throat to my teeth and begging for mercy before you've even started. It just makes me smirk and snap. It doesn't help, either, that his list is so snide and feeble…so sneebly.

1. Stop being so smug.

Make me.

Look, you start an argument, you don't get to whine at your opponent to be humble about his ideas before you've even taken a stab at criticizing them. Show me a reason not to be smug about atheism, and reason, and science, and the superiority of our beliefs over that pile of superstitious dogma you call faith. Don't simply instruct me to stop regarding atheism as possibly not superior to your cultish apologetics.

Christians also don't get to play the humility card, anyway. People who believe they have privileged access to mysterious information direct from the brain of a cosmos-spanning super-intelligence, and who believe everyone else is damned to eternal torment, aren't exactly poster-children for modesty.

2. Don't assume every piece of Christian evangelism is directed at you - we want the undecideds, not the decided-uns.

Oh, my, no. You think we see the inane dreck Christians propose as an argument, and you think we assume it's directed at us? We're "smug," remember — we figure there's no way you can really be so stupid as to think we're going to be swayed by Pascal's Wager or handwaving at vague quotes from the Bible or threats of an imaginary Hell or promises of an imaginary paradise. We're after the undecideds, too. We love tearing up your stupidity in public for that reason.

For instance, I know that the Christian who wrote this list wasn't directing it at me, and probably never even heard of me. That doesn't stop me from pissing on it.

3. Admit that the debate about God's existence is complex - and that it can, depending on your presuppositions, be quite possible for intelligent and rational people to intelligently believe in an intervening deity who communicates through a book.

The debate is complex because a lot of intelligent, educated people buy into those ridiculous presuppositions and then toss a lot of noisy chaff in the air. There is a simplicity at the core that is not in Christian interests to expose: is there a god or gods, and is there any reasonable evidence for him, it, her, or them? And further, is there a reason to believe in your specific god over Thor or Xenu or Moroni or whatever other fiction some cunning con artist chose to peddle to the gullible?

And your 'intervening deity' (the existence of which is an assertion not supported by any evidence) 'communicates' (you are using that word in some strange fashion that is not reasonable) 'through a book' (that was cobbled together from scattered scraps of theological rants, old poetry, and self-serving pseudo-history over 1500 years ago)? That's crazy talk right there.

4. Admit that the scientific method - which by its nature relies on induction rather than deduction (starting with a hypothesis and testing it rather than observing facts and forming a hypothesis) - is as open to abuse as any religious belief, and is neither objective nor infallible.

No. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We are not going to get anywhere if you expect your opponents to simply fall over and accept a bogus mischaracterization of science.

Science uses both inductive and deductive logic. Induction is the idea generator, the process that spins out tentative hypotheses that can be evaluated by observation, experiment, and deductive logic. Science is not infallible, and no one ever claims that it is, but it has something that religion lacks: a process of testing claims against real-world observations. To claim that science is as open to abuse as religion is ignorant nonsense. You can claim virtually anything about gods in religion, and all that matters is how many rubes you can persuade to believe it. Scientific claims are constrained by evidence.

Of course individuals can abuse both religion and science. The difference is that science provides objective criteria to assess the viability of truth-claims.

5. Try to deal with the actual notions of God seriously believed in by millions of people rather than inventing strawmen (or spaghetti monsters) to dismiss the concepts of God - and deal with the Bible paying attention to context and the broader Christological narrative rather than quoting obscure Old Testament laws. By all means quote the laws when they are applied incorrectly by "Christians" - but understand how they're meant to work before dealing with the Christians described in point 3.

OK, explain Ganesh to me. Explain the prosperity gospel. Explain why Christians reject the prophecies of Mohammed, while millions of Muslims think they're just peachy. Explain premillennial dispensationalism. Explain whether Episcopalians or Baptists are right. Explain how Spong is wrong. Or right. Who would win a cage match between Karen Armstrong and Pat Robertson?

What is "the" Christological narrative? There is none, or rather, there's a thousand of them. We know the context, too — that the Bible is an evolving mess of over-interpreted poetry and tribal stories and crackpot history. Why you guys choose to selectively declare one interpretation of one subset of the conglomeration to be the absolute truth as dictated by anthropomorphic vapor, while another arbitrary subset is archaic and doesn't apply anymore, is completely incomprehensible…not just to us, but to you, too.

We atheists actually do address the claims fervently held by millions of people. The sneaky trick the theological wankers pull, though, is that once we've smacked them down, they announce, "Oh, no — we didn't mean those millions of believers. They're stupid. We meant these other millions of believers." It's a big game of whack-a-mole. What you call "obscure Old Testament laws," someone else will call the core of their faith. What you value as the "Christological narrative," a member of yet another sect will call pretentious confabulations.

Atheists just cut through all the noise and call it all sewage.

And some of us see no reason to be nice to sewage, and get really cranky at demands to respect your steaming pile of ordure.

Allergic to Atheists
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking
I don't hate Christians. They don't bother me. I get their game. Enough said. I just feel bad about Atheists. They put too much effort into debunking Christian theology and in joining forces with other Atheists to attack Christians in elaborate wastes of time and to pat each other on the back for the comradery of feeling as if they have solved the most elaborate hoax of all time. At least I can respect an Agnostic, they admit up front with that title that they are just lazy and/or uninterested. Existentialists bug me too. I just don't like how some justify themselves in a smug and superior fashion. I understand that people are at all levels of life and have their opinions accordingly, as am I at my own point of understanding. I accept this. But these are just personally the groups that have the ability to bother me at this time. Justification for any opinion can be pulled from unlimited sources. There is no religion higher than truth.

Something I Know Too Well
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking
My mom has depression and in my opinion, ineffective ways of handling her problems. I've noticed, that whenever I ask her a question, she treats me like I'm the last thing she ever wanted to talk to her on the planet and she answers defensively. She jumps way to far ahead and gives too much information when a simple and direct yes, no, I don't know or any other extremely easy answer would be the perfect thing to say. She stomps around the house saying with a forked tongue that she hates everyone and everything constantly. Sometimes she throws things and breaks them. She cusses I would say way worse than a sailor. It's gross and it's irresponsible and it's disrespectful to herself and to others. She's the only one with the power to change her life. The same power she gives to her thoughts and emotions in this direction she can just turn them right around. But she won't make that choice. She was molested as a child and has always been that victim. Whenever I tell this to people, friends, they commonly say two things, she could try anti-depressants and that she could get some therapy. She's taken every anti-depressant, anti-anxiety type drug out there at one point or another. And she works in the mental health field, has a Masters degree in it, her boyfriend has a Doctorate in Psychology, her friends work in the same profession and she's seen therapist sometimes consistently, sometimes not. Which reminds me of someone who has a 'weight problem' and is trying to lose weight. You'll often hear them say that they've tried every diet with little or varying results in weight loss. And these people never learn to lose the weight until they learn that they've got to apply themselves to doing so. They've got to do the work, seek the assistance and leave behind whatever was holding them back.

My mom is familiar with methods of help, but her choices reflect her defeatist attitude. She try's to apply reason to her state of mind but she always gives the cause as being from something outside of herself, by saying that it's menopause, or that it's just present circumstances that are making her feel this way, be it a separation from a boyfriend, financial situations, problems with the house, the yard, the car, a friend, a daughter. Her therapist that she's seen for the longest period of time, I've been to before a few times so I know how she works and this lady is a friend of my mom's and just let's my mom talk, occasionally offering guidance that my mom readily expresses that she grasps intellectually but can't ever seem to take it to heart. Obviously this form of free expression therapy, or whatever technical name it has is not effective. Or at least it's not showing me or anyone else, in the family, or to her friends, any sign of change in behavior, which would indicate a change of mind. She's part of a 12 step Al-Anon program, her ex was an alcoholic for part of their relationship and in AA 'recovering alcoholic' for the rest of it. She has been going to meetings for a few years now. They seem to give her a sense of peace at times but her old ingrained habits always gain strength and overshadow any progress that she's made. I have no bicker with her in Al Anon though. Nothing bad has come from it. Though I once wrote something as if I were her saying, "I know I told you I was happy through my frown but, guess what I lied, but I don't know when I'm lying to myself and when I'm practicing my Al-Anon 12 step principles." I was angry at her at the time.

My mother is of course a kind person. I see her be gentle with certain people and situations. She's sweet and charming and really has an eye for fashion and decor. She always tries to make people laugh and looks to laugh for herself. She doesn't drink or smoke. She likes to dance. She has an intelligence and certainly an intuition. But all of this is buried when she's depressed, which is most often than not. The good traits only come out sometimes like a ray of sunshine through ominous cloud cover.

This stuff that one can't avoid, family. If my mom were a lover, I'd probably leave her or just never engage in anything with her in the first place. But, she's my mom for a reason and I am bound to her in this connection. I often think that she will never change for as long as she lives. And that makes me sad. I just don't see it in her to make a radical change. But it's her life, I'm not omnipotent and I don't know. Anyway, it just sucks. The only conclusion I've come to is that I've just got to work hard for myself (which in turn means applying effort to being generous and stewardship) and this will help everybody, including her. The healing of someones heart and soul can take years, lifetimes even, and the choice is up to her. Though she is never alone.

I'm Reminded of Me
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking
I’m 26 years old and lately observing some of the behavior of some of my younger girlfriends I’m reminded of a time in my life once lived. My friends are racing around day after day seeking all kinds of information to validate newly forming beliefs. They are just beginning to define their identity and whatever suits them in the moment they push it out there for others to see. They are extremist, they are elitist, they are rebellious, they are naive. I remember when I held strong viewpoints for vegetarian and veganism. I would post up the infamous Peta video ‘Meet Your Meat’ on many public forums. I thought that people NEEDED this information. I thought that what I was discovering about the world was what was essentially missing in other peoples lives. Noone really cared about my postings. I was just suiting myself. How I feel life is now, is that I don’t want to just force my opinions on people and show them gratuitously the ever transient conceptualization of ‘who I am’. It doesn't matter what I think I am specifically giving to people. My purpose is simply to give when I am able, live my life, do my work and other’s will learn from me as they are willing and able. At this time and experience level in my life I am willing to say that life isn’t about pushing so hard to say that you are something, it’s simply about being there.

Party Today
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking
Today I went to a party in Rio, West Virginia very close by to where I used to live in Baker, WV. It's a land of places and roads named "hollows" and "licks". The party was 95% gay and lesbian people. I played volleyball and tried to remember how to throw horseshoes. I went there with my mother, as the people were her friends first, she drove, she got us out of there before it got dark. The party is an annual thing, starts on a Friday and ends on Sunday. Apparently, Saturday night is the wild night, when they get really wasted and clothes come off or they get dressed up. I really wanted to stay for this but opted to come back home with my mom because I didn't want to get a ride with someone the next day if I was hungover. I love gay people. I wanna say that I wish I was gay so they would be my friends. But, I don't make wishes. But anyway, I wish I could've stayed at the party and that I could've had all that more fun with everyone. Another time maybe.

Big Questions from my Inner Child
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking
Why is the sky blue?

I've heard that it is the way light reflects on the dust particles in the air. I used to think it was because the universe is black and dark and it appears blue until it fades to black. I never researched this answer for myself and I don't remember learning about it in school.

What happens when I die?

You obviously lose your identity in the material world and therefore unite with a consciousness next of kin, the astral body. Our Astral body is with us while alive as well. Upon bodily death your Etheric energy that animated your body will detach and dissipate, you'll experience rest and acclimate to new consciousness, then experience a run down of the Karma you've made throughout that lifetime instantaneously, in a time period so infinitesimal it defies rationale. Faster than seeing a two hour movie in the blink of an eye. You will work in this Astral consciousness, much like you worked in your physical lifetime. You'll all the while be doing the business of your soul, but you will still work within your own free will, choosing to do this or that or not. The Astral consciousness mirrors what you knew on Earth, and perception of people, spirits, places, situations are much like that in a dream, 'seen' in lights and colors, felt in emotions. Knowledge is developed and once you have done the work that needs to be done in this consciousness, working out karmas, learning lessons, healing, helping, working, then you'll reincarnate into another physical body on Earth. This process generally takes no less than what 100 years time is on Earth. Reincarnation will put you with the same members of your previous life's family including ancestors. Think, you have most likely been your mother's mother, your nephew's great grandfather or his wife. This will maintain until members outgrow the vibration of this family and then they will move onto another family where their vibration is now in sync with. This process of life and death will repeat until we reach our Soul level where we will be working in another form of energy, consciousness and vibration and we have utilized our need for physical manifestation. Then, there is and ever will be more to become. Life and Death remain mere concepts born of our perceptions at this time but their reality is much more expansive than that. Life and Death are devoid of our emotions, our justice, our flesh and bone and sinew. We are consciousness, We are energy, We are one and We are infinite.

"Just as a caterpillar, having reached the end of a blade of grass and approaching another one collects itself, even so this atman, having discarded the body and overcome ignorance, approaching another one collects itself. That to which the heart is attached, toward this the subtle body moves together with its action which still adheres. Attaining the goal of whatever actions he performed here on Earth, he goes once more from that world to this world of action."

Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.3 & 6 VE, P. 759

For more information along the lines of what I've written go see: http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/lws/lws_ch-35.html

-Helena Blavatsky Writer of The Secret Doctrine

What is sex?

Besides the uniting constant for humans that this is our means to reproduce, sex will mean different things to you at subsequent times in your life. It's amazing its ability to shapeshift before you can exactly put your finger on it, or in it.

Earlier Today Which Was Really Earlier Yesterday
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking
I went to this used book store in my town and picked up three Sci-Fi books. They're all collections of short stories. This is as far as I've gotten in the Sci-Fi genre; short stories. The longest of which is The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. How we come to obtain a book is a story in itself. I left behind a perfectly good copy of Walt Whitman writings. It was only two or three dollars! But, I'm not in the business of collecting books. I'm a minimalist. Even though Whitman is pretty gorgeous sometimes.

Also, I went shopping at the Salvation Army for some scrubs for work. Found one pair of scrub pants. Left the store with a few things. A thick woven hemp belt, A canvas bag for Jasmine rice that has "from the Himalayans" printed on it, and an Eddie Bauer brown leather Laptop/Messenger bag, a small piece of terra cotta to rest a candle on and a set of full sheets for my bed that are the exact pattern of some ones that I had as a kid on my bed, vintage Sears. :) In my theme of dicking around today out in commercial society, there were two dressing rooms in the place, I was trying on all kinds of dresses in the one without the lock and the other one had a hispanic lady in it who said "gherkin", or something, whenever anybody knocked. I knew she was asking if it was her kid who was repeatedly knocking, but, in fact, it was just other customers, and I said out loud, "It's not your kids.". I don't know who heard me. The dresses were good, my size, skinny but too big in the bust. Some brawd out there wears classy conservative dresses stretching out the tops with her breast implants? Stranger things have happened.

Pencil Thin Moustache
Seasons, Hiking, Fall, Trails, Backpacking