The inability or unwillingness to prevent atrocities indicates a god who doesn’t care or who’s caring is of a quality or level that it gives no meaningful comfort or care taking or it indicates that there’s simply no such god and it really is just how terrible that some of us can be – especially when so disconnected to natural reality to actually beleive the justifications for their chosen evil actions.
I think that it’s time that we started considering belief not as an on or off setting, but as being a matter of degree – a ratio of belief to socially capable functioning. Mental wellness, a measure of delusion. There are some ratios at which, people need to be disqualified for public office or any position where they have power over others – especially vulnerable others.
People who beleive that their beliefs are one of many possible answers, but we don’t know or maybe can’t know – agnosticism has a high socially capable functioning.
But people who cannot tolerate that other people are different and have different beliefs – who are claiming or attempting that everyone should adhere to rigid gender roles, disdain for the body of human knowledge, history, other cultures, other possibilities – these people are not socially capable – they live in their own reality bubbles where their religion is real and their energies are directed at squabbling over the details of their religion with people of other versions of the same religion – when both or all versions are predicated on the same unproven claims – so the details don’t matter except to those who have bought into the premise.
Discussing details with people who haven’t bought into the premise, is the wrong discussion for skeptics. We need to stay focussed on the premise, and connect the religion back through it’s cultural evolution and reconnect the beleivers back to the full range of human thinking – pit the religion in the context of history, literature and show how clinging to these outdated and unproven premises are what’s driving much of the conflict and inability to get along with each other now.
If we chose, not to live as if any religion is true but only a possibility, then coexistence is possible.
Because then believers can beleive and non-believers do not have to live their lives dancing on egg shells and having to act as if religions could be true, when we really only have to allow others to have the possibility.
There was a time in Canada and the US that retail stores were not open on Sundays. This was because most people were religious and they beleived that this should be a day of rest and family.
But to people who have not accepted the religion, it’s just another day of the week and our freedoms are being impeded because of other people’s religions.
So the laws were changed and retail could operate 7 days a week – and with the advent of the internet, 24/7.
The problem for believers then, is a battle between the religious beliefs of nomadic tribes with stone age technology and primitive societies where slavery was the norm and women and children where chattel – and the modern secular world that is based not in religion, but in humanism – human rational and the technology we’ve invented to make the quality of our life better.
Because religion is not about the quality of your life – it’s about the quality of your worship and that means your obedience as demonstrated by the time consuming rituals, adherence to rigid gender roles and you aren’t rewarded with your real life, until you reach the after life. Because actual life is a dress rehearsal in religious reality.
People who want to live as if their religion is real, will not be able to do so indefinately while living in a modern world of interconnectivity.
Because exposure to the modern world is what’s causing there to be fewer and fewer bums in pews or knees on floors.
In earlier and harsher times, these old time fire and brimstone religions made some cultural sense – but they do not now. Not with everything that we have learned about ourselves and each other.
In order to maintain belief, you have to work very hard to ignore a lot of reality.
And people like Sarah Palin and Herman Cain – who want to be president on the basis of being simple plain folk you can have a beer with – let’s be very real.
These people are not qualified to be mayor of dogtown, never mind president of one of the most powerful nations that this world has ever seen so far.
That tone of simple folk common sense homespun plays well to that crowd because there’s a lot of that crowd – but part of being in that mentality is an undertone of anti-establishment, anti-education, anti-anyone who’s different.
You can have that kind of leadership in small closed communities, like Jonestown.
But that kind of leadership is wholly inadequate when it’s the leader of a complex society within and with complexities on a global scale.
That the Palins and Cains and Bushes and Perries lack the self awareness to have genuine humility in the face of understanding the entire scope of what being a President of a large nation with a huge economy and a bigger arsenel means.
The entire GOP field of candidates seem like a bunch of slaw jawed yokels who can’t wait to go see the sights of a big city and get to push buttons and pull levers. Golly Gee. Country Cousins, you need to learn some reading and writing and arithmetic first. Specifically, reading about world history, writing down a comprehensive platform of how we’re going to coexist in the world we share, and subtract your personal beleifs from your public life.
Because until a person can demonstrate an understanding of the difference between public and private spheres of influence – nothing can change for the better – and we’re doomed until either a leader steps forward to drag the population into the last century or the religious people make their religious reality an actual end of days reality for all of us.
But more than that, until a person who would lead people has an understanding of what it’s like to be lead by someone like they are – whether it’s a manager or a president – without a sense of the worst that’s possible under your leadership – then you aren’t a leader in any meaningful way. Because no true leader should want anyone worse off than any other person.
That every culture has come up with their own religion and deities does demonstrate that gods are human inventions, no different than Santa Claus and the boogey man – fictional characters meant to stand as enforcement of behaviour by providing a reward/punishment that is beyond the scope of the parents – who can only reward and punish behaviors that they become aware of; while Santa, boogey man, god and all other supernatural creatures are constantly aware and vigilant.
That all cultures have invented gods and religion, speaks to how effective a means that religion is to control thought and behaviour. Especially evidenced by how believers become active participants in the control mechanism by embracing it and touting it as true – despite the utter lack of evidence.
Religion is the ultimate conspiracy theory, in which the lack of evidence for is claimed as evidence of and the idea is against not only all evidence, but also logic, history and reason.
And like conspiracy theories, facts, evidence and reality to the contrary of the pet theory, does not dissuade believers – it only reinforces their confirmation bias as believing contrary to evidence, is what faith essentially is.
I have started to see little meaningful difference between a religious believer and a battered woman.
Both have given away their personal sovereignty and subjugated themselves, both believe they do not deserve better treatment and that they may have brought out their lesser than state upon themselves or have done something to deserve the treatment.
Neither think that they deserve better treatment and are afraid to leave said relationship for either fear of eternal hell for the former and being stalked and murdered for the latter. Of course, with some religious sects, being hunted down and killed or sued for leaving, or being shunned by the community and being cast out by family and friends is not that different to the social attitudes towards divorced women only a few decades ago.
The attitude that a woman should be with a man, so that any man, no matter how violent, is better than none – is not at all different from the social attitude that believing in any god is superior to not believing in one.
The only substantive difference is that with the battered woman – or let’s be really honest – battered man because sometimes the woman is the batterer coupled with that battering also occurs in gay and lesbian relationships – we are all people, no better or worse than each other – at least there is an actual person responsible for beating and abusing the battered person. Whereas, for believers, they have to do the beating upon themselves and often the family, and that has lead to a lot of religious psychological kinkiness, self torture and sadly, horrors visited upon children, teens, vulnerable adults and non-believers. Often for non-family, this takes the form of bigotry and discrimination at best and religiously motivate violence at worst.
The battered person can have some private solace that perhaps the abuse isn’t really their fault, it’s down to their abuser – but they remain for a variety of reasons – social pressure, financial, for the children; without any thought to what they are really teaching said children – but perhaps the biggest reason people stay in battering relationships is because as bad as it is, it may well still be better than their previous experiences, there is some comfort in familiarity (as horrifying as that was to write) and the fear that if their partners have all been abusers, the fear that maybe it is them that brings it out in the other person.
Now, there something to be said on that last part – in many workshops that I have attuned about dealing with difficult workplace relationships and conflict management – the so called golden rule of doing unto others is something that falls far short of the mark, because there are people who are okay with being treated badly and this then gives them permission to treat others in the same way.
With believers, they do not have that private solace of maybe there’s a kinder, gentler god out there for them – humans are inferior to a deity by definition and design – human definition and design.
Even though religion is the opiate of the masses and the social mechanism to prevent the poor from slaughtering the rich to take their stuff – it seems that the more awareness we have socially about how to treat and interact with each other – as equal and as equally deserving of compassion, consideration and equality – so too are believers beginning to re-think their relationship with god.
If society says that ever citizen gets to vote and have the expectation of security of person, home, jobs, that discrimination is not acceptable, that hate crimes are not acceptable, that everyone is equal under the law and the law is specifically inclusive of this – gay marriage being the current legal equality battle in many secular countries which proclaim human rights but have not equally extended the same rights to all citizens or would-be citizens; then believers who are told by their religion that they are special and better than everyone else and that others do not deserve the same rights and legal protect – it has to start to seep in that there’s something wrong with the religion and with god.
After all, you don’t keep chasing after a person who makes big promises, and then never calls on your birthday and generally takes your worship and adoration for granted, worse, actually demands said worship or else. A person who demands that you limit your family and friends to a narrow segment of society, which is better than the rest; when in fact and under law, no people are any better than any other. In a global economy, we are all inter-dependent nations and no nation is self-sufficient.
The people in another country who are providing resources and services are not less deserving of livable wages, workplace safety, environmental protections and dignity of their person. If we learn anything from Chernobyl, it is that it doesn’t matter where a disaster event occurs, the wind and water carry the contaminates around the world for all to enjoy and get cancer from.
As social attitudes change, our expectation of how we want to be treated and how we treat others changes. We do not have to put up with abusive treatment – there are options, there are recourse’s, there are equalizers. People in western secular democratic societies don’t want to feel bad about themselves, don’t want to feel unworthy and wretched. What do we want? Happiness! When do we want it? Now!
So in non-fundamental circles, god turns to a quasi Santa Claus and the apologists come out and offer up the deathbed loopholes, you don’t have to be good or do good, you just have to accept the savior, you can do bad, as long as you repent and are really sorry. They whitewash over the bible texts, softening the edges and that Old Time Religion becomes a kinder, gentler – not quite Mr. Rodgers because he accepted everyone exactly as they were and religion isn’t ready to do that, they still like their bigotries because it just won’t be heaven if anyone could get in.
Mega-churches become as malls with chapels, complete with coffee shops, ATMs, bookstores, gym classes – a whole family community centre were religious meetings seem incidental or the value added part rather than the focal point.
Many religions who have been watching their coffers and attendance numbers dropping are embracing the big tent and polishing off the more strident of the religious beliefs, softening the religion to be more inclusive and less damnation, less religious, really.
This will help to prop up the tents for a while, but eventually, people will migrate away, to return only on special days or maybe nostalgia, because it’s okay to feel good about yourself and you don’t need religion to do it, when the purpose of religion, no matter how softened, is to say that you aren’t good enough for god, you’re unworthy which is why you have to give the money, attend the meetings, obey and worship and not use the free will that so many people are talking about.
But you are, you are good enough on your own, good enough to be treated well by everyone in your life, without exception.
Christmas stopped being a religious holiday and became a secular consumer one back in the 1950’s; heck, even Life magazine covered the story in 1958 and the early 1960’s Peanut Christmas specials complained without any awareness of irony about the commercialism of Christmas even while the TV special promoted Peanuts products.
It’s not that there’s an active or coordinated attack on the dwindling religious aspect, it’s just the believers who prefer to view the dwindling as an attack instead of accepting the reality that the religious aspects – and well, religion itself – as not relevant to the rest of us.
Sad commentary that they try to make themselves into an oppressed minority of martyrs as they rally people to vote against actual civil rights advances (and I mean pick a cause, slavery, women’s voting and rights, interracial marriage, civil rights for minorities and gays/lesbians). Sadder still that godbots prefer to characterize the social climate as attacking them rather than realizing that they are less relevant.
I guess in a weird way, feeling like people are attacking you means that you somehow still matter?
Most stores that specialize in ornaments for the season have only a small inventory of religious themed decorations. Most of the decorations make christmasy versions of sports, hobbies, Pink Flamingos have become a perennial along with many other animals like polar bears and penguins.
A few years ago, people in British Columbia went crazy over a 1960’s holiday novelty song because of a Telephone company’s christmas commercials.
Why not holiday hippos?
Everyone but Christians seem to know enough history to understand that most of the Christian Christmas decor and symbols are lifted from pagan and other religions. It made the conquering of people easier when you incorporated aspects of their culture into your own.
It’s why the Romans kept their god pantheon less defined than the Greek one – hey, we both have gods of wine, god of thunder, goddess of the hunt, same god, different name. Not unlike the folks trying to push the idea that the Islam and Christian god are the same under a different name.
But, wouldn’t a god by any other name, still expect to be worshiped in the same way?
What is actually occurring is other groups asserting their claim on the public spaces that they tax dollars also support. What’s wrong with a city hall setting aside an amount of space for holiday decor for any holiday that the citizens celebrate?
Not just Christmas, but Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Light Day, whatever. Where’s the harm in celebrating all that we celebrate?
Every culture has developed holidays around the changes of seasons – we celebrate in spring that food and animals are plentiful, celebrate summer harvest, celebrate mid winter to lift the spirits and just be happy we got through another set of seasons.
That these celebrations were largely rituals to please the gods so that seasons will is neither here nor there now that we know seasons are a result of the earth’s orbit.
We can still celebrate, we still made it through the year. It’s okay to shift to celebrate the mundane world, it’s where we live. The variations in foods and trappings just make life interesting.
Merry Thanksgivoween and Happy New Kwanzadonukka Day, Oct 31 to Dec 31, the season’s the reason.
I am constantly astounded when I visit public forums dedicated to religion/atheist debate.
I find the godbot mentality that humans have to obey all kinds of behaviour conduct rules to get into heaven, but breaking the rules does not result in punishment if you repent – no matter how many times you break the rules and repent again.
I realize that once a person has committed themselves to believing in any religion’s creation myths and stories to be true against all evidence and nature, that it’s a lot easier to believe other untrue things – so long as the untrue thing supports what you already believe so it can then be deemed evidence – again, against all real evidence.
Which is a round about way of saying that no matter how much godbots would like Stalin, Mao, Hitler and other dictators who slaughtered millions of people because they belonged to particular minority groups to have been atheists or since they did not commit their atrocities specifically in the name of religion that the slaughter had atheist overtones….
this is just not true.
None of them were atheists in the sense that they held beliefs for which there is no evidence and to the atheist, thus no reason to believe.
The usual gang of dictators committed their genocides because of their political agenda and and their own desire for power. Religion and Political ideology are strong motivators to eliminate the groups of people who are deemed undesirable by whichever dogma the dictator is dedicated to; as well as any groups with enough support or influence who could topple the up and coming dictators.
So, that Stalin set about destroying the influence of the churches and basically making religion a crime – does not make Stalin an atheist – it just means he was obsessed with power and was willing to slaughter to gain and maintain it.
So, if atheists were the majority of the population – how likely is it that an atheist government and population would slaughter segments of the population?
Godbots would have you believe that an atheist society would be as violent – if not more – than humans have been in the past and how we are at present.
I disagree – and not because I am an atheist.
Oh – one last digression: Eugenics.
This is the idea that we should eliminate bad mutations to improve the human, well, breeding stock.
In and of itself, it’s not unreasonable.
However, how it has been defined and carried out in practice is horribly wrong.
The Eugenics programs carried out in Western Democratic countries like Canada and the US were not motivated, informed or driven by “science”.
Eugenics programs were driven by social attitudes of racism and discrimination against disabled – especially anyone deemed mentally disabled or as having a low IQ.
Aside to the digression: Back in the early half of the 1900’s, IQ tests were highly culturally biased so that the white northerners who designed the tests scored the highest, with northern Black and southern whites coming in around the same scores and leaving southern Blacks the lowest test scoring. See how that works?
Today, what we call Designer Babies is actually eugenics – only we’re working from the designing the next generation instead of preventing members of existing generations from breeding.
Okay – so what would an atheist society look like? Utopia? Not likely, we’re all still human with faults and who can make mistakes.
But, consider that atheists:
- are under represented in prisons and crime stats;
- tend to have higher levels of education and therefore more economic opportunity – so less motive to commit violent crimes would reduce them, but they will never be eliminated entirely and economic crimes would still occur likely to the same degree as present;
- do not accept claims that there’s an afterlife – atheists tend to view life as being very precious since it’s the only one we know that we and everyone else has;
- do not suicide bomb while screaming “for no particular reason”;
- do not shoot religious leaders because we object to what the religious people promote;
- do not vote against civil rights advancements;
- have never called for a round up and extermination of religious believers;
- haven’t demanded an end to the existence of religious schools – only an end to taxpayers funding them; and
- since we’re all rather individualists aren’t driven to violence because others make different choices for their lives than we have made.
So how exactly does an atheist – even one elected to office since an atheist society would never be a dictatorship – go from that to mass support for the extermination of entire groups of people?
Like other questions, godbots never have an answer to the questions that they pose.
When pushed to answer, the godbot disappears from the forum and return under a new sock puppet name but spouting the same nonsense as before – as if atheists aren’t able to see the same statements, grammar, spelling and attacks as the last 4 sock puppet incarnations.