/Tag: atheism

Religion, to atheists.

Religion has a long history of struggling to reconcile reality and belief, to find humanity’s place in a largely unknown and complex and frequently hostile universe. If there is any saving grace in faith at all, it is that it is an attempt to find a rock of certainty in the unpredictable chaos of life — it is aspirational, a search for truth. As such, religion changes over time. It evolves.

Where it fails is when people […] give up on the search and the struggle and decide that they have an absolute lock on an irrevocable and ultimate truth, one that will no longer bend to the evidence, that will no longer care about the nature of reality, but only the nature of one antique interpretation of the words of a book. They will not change any more. They will cling stubbornly to this one unmoving stone of dogma, and they will insist that everything else is wrong. They will close their eyes and grasp tighter and tighter to that one illusion of certainty as it crumbles around them. By refusing to bend, they commit themselves to someday breaking.

PZ Myers on faith.

2017-12-04T09:28:24+10:0016th May, 2018|Tags: atheism|


There is the great disappointment. The movement, whose whole premise demands a sweeping change of the culture, has discovered that it is far easier to defend the status quo than to change it. We’re willing to ask other people to think long and hard about their beliefs, to question and change, but all that other stuff that our culture planted in our heads, like beliefs about the sexes and races, like the rigid gender binary, like the suitability of women to thinking critically, like the automatic conferral of status by wealth, like the dehumanization of people who look like they might have had different great-grandparents than us, like the utility of simply killing people who disagree with us…oh, no, don’t ask us to change. We’re just here to promote atheism! One thing at a time! Once we’ve cleared away the deadwood of religion, then maybe we can think about encouraging a rational world that will have those nice things you’re talking about. […]

Well, I’ve got news for the atheist movement: it all matters. […] You won’t get your philosophical atheist utopia at all if that utopia considers the dignity of all human beings to be a secondary matter.

–PZ Myers on movement Atheism.

I am, technically, an atheist in the “godless heathen” sense of the word, but nowadays it’s just too embarrassing to call oneself a “capital-A Atheist”. Not to mention it seems to get more and more painfully obvious every year that “movement Atheism” doesn’t give two shits about me beyond use as a kind of abstract weapon to bludgeon religion with.

Well… fuck that shit.

I think Myers is correct when he muses that the number of people identifying as religiously “none” will increase but that this won’t translate to a corresponding increase in the number of people identifying as atheists. Not when movement atheism has staked out its turf with the exact same traps and tropes many people are fleeing organised religions to avoid.

Atheism, in other words, had its chance to not degenerate into a toxic cesspit of chauvinism and blew it.

Same as it ever was, and all that.

2018-09-05T13:28:52+10:0020th November, 2014|Tags: atheism, pz myers|

The conservative’s Bible.

As in literally. As in, some conservatives have decided there’s too much liberal bias in The Bible, and have decided to do their own translation.

Famous Jesus quotes getting the conservative chop include:

  • “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
  • “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
  • “Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5).
  • “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24).
  • “Peace be with you” (John 20, 26).

And many more!

You know, I had my first brush with Christian fundamentalism when I was in high school, thanks to the Scripture Union’s promotion of godly activities such as eating ice cream and going on adventure camps. A lot of my friends converted, which was a very odd experience for a kid (i.e. me) who’d grown up with family dinnertime conversations involving things like the historicity of Jesus and the political ramifications of the First Council of Nicaea. I’d always grown up taking it for granted that people realised the Bible was a human document. Even assuming a divine origin, it’d been translated and copied so many times over the centuries–not to mention had various books included or excised–that of course there’d be “errors” and discrepancies in the modern texts. That just seemed logical.

Thus was teenage me utterly baffled to read SU tracts asserting, in no uncertain terms, that the Bible we had today was exactly “identical” to its original form, no ifs buts or interpretations about it. (And no mention of the fact that there’s more than one modern English Bible, and that not even those texts are identical. Hell, not even single Bible translations are consistent, so how anyone can maintain any sort of literalist position is beyond me…)

I remember getting into an argument over the issue with a kid over the issue, and being absolutely stunned when his counter was that the “recently discovered” Dead Sea Scrolls contained “exactly” the same text as the modern Bible.

Just in case it’s unclear, that’s bullshit. Yet it was the line SU had been pushing, and the line this kid was regurgitating. Because it’s easy, I guess. That sort of strict, unchanging, Biblical literalism. “This is the way it’s always been” rather than “change happens and sometimes things are complicated”.

I can’t help thinking about it, though. Because I’d bet camels to needles the people behind the “conservative” Bible subscribe to the same sort of “unchanging Word of God” view of the Bible as the Scripture Union. And that they can manage that while simultaneously changing the text.

Go figure, I guess.


2019-01-17T08:35:11+10:002nd March, 2014|Tags: atheism, culture|