Jan 21, 2009
Jan 20, 2009
Obama is not only the first black president, but also the first president to acknowledge that America is composed of many world views in his inaugural speech. Obama took the care to mention that non-believers also contribute to the melting pot that we call home.
"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace." Text of Obama's inaugural speech
Following a paragraph referencing the "scriptures" in a speech ended by "God Bless America," this may not seem like a big step forward. But consider the non-patriotic phrase at one point uttered by former President George Bush Sr.; "I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God."* True patriots value the ideal of equality.
While Obama is unlikely to completely separate his religious views from his work, it is very obvious that he is taking steps to unify this country under the idea of true equality. I say true equality because this is a nation where those in charge have claimed we are all equal for quite some time. We were all 'equal' back when blacks were slaves. We were all 'equal' back when women couldn't vote. In the near future maybe we can look back and sarcastically say: We were all 'equal' back when homosexuals could not marry. We were all 'equal' back when most of America would not vote for an atheist.
If slavery can be overcome in such a relatively short time frame; true equality for nonbelievers is only a moment away.
Jan 17, 2009
I have noticed that I have no issues telling anyone that I am non-religious. I know they know that means that I don't go to church and don't practice any standard religion. No one reacts badly to my saying non-religious; at most they'll ask why. How I explain why depends on the person, I try to respond in a manner that I think they can listen to instead of tuning out due to extreme disagreement. For instance, if the person is very religious I start out by talking about being tired of how so many religious people are hypocritical. By the time I get around to saying anything that offends them they have agreed with at least half of my reasoning. With everyone else I just say that my reasons are quite complex but that the main reason is there simply is no evidence that any one religion has figured things out. If you get this far with someone; you can say 'atheist' pretty easily without them freaking out
I would never just walk up to someone at work or family gatherings and make a point to tell them I am a Christian back when I was one. Why would I do it now that I am an atheist? However, I do find it difficult to not be afraid to just come out and say atheist if I am in a situation where it is appropriate to be discussing religious views. In this part of the country a lot of, otherwise fairly reasonable, believers associate atheism with Satanism/evil. I don't know if this is something they picked up from church or if it is just a Southern misguided view based on lies circulated by evangelicals. But, it is something I have to keep in mind if I want to be able to discuss my views with someone in a calm manner.
I would use the term freethinker, but a lot of people don't know what that means and could be offended if you can't explain what it means before they jump to the conclusion that you are implying their mind is not free (which might be your view anyway). Nonetheless, you don't want to offend someone just by stating your views. I understand it is the other person's problem if they can't accept the existence of differing viewpoints. However, if I can control the conversation in such a way that I can speak freely without the other person getting offended; I prefer to do so. I think the more we can have a calm and open dialogue with theists the faster they will accept atheists/freethinkers as just another approach to viewing the world rather than something to fear due to false perceptions.
Basically, if you are around reasonable people...what is there to fear? You might have to lead into stating your views in order to create a foundation for the other person's understanding. But after doing so there shouldn't be any issues. The only people who would truly freak out are the fundamentalists and I'm pretty sure average religious people already think fundies are crazy anyway. Try not to let all the jerks/trolls/insane people on the Internet affect your view of how people react in the 'real' world.
I think that for most of us, our fear to be open about our views is unreasonable. I can tell people that I am pro choice in public without anything terrible happening. And this is during a time when, to many people, that is the same as saying I'm pro murder. If I can safely be pro-choice and pro-teaching evolution in this society, why should I fear being an atheist? With the exception of those who live in very backwards parts of the country, our fear to be open is not based on reason. As most freethinkers pride themselves on making decisions based on logic rather than emotions; I think we all need to objectively reevaluate why we think there is a reason to fear being outed as an atheist.
Jan 15, 2009
If you would like to learn more about the SCA or Lori, please visit: http://www.secular.org/
Jan 13, 2009
There is probably nothing more satisfying than being able to think about life's great questions without the restrictions created by religion and other superstitions. If someone inquires about your views, you have an answer. If you don't have an answer and are at fault, you can easily adjust your personal philosophy to better fit with reality. There are no imaginary chains.
Religiously minded people will often ask how someone can be happy without a belief in a god. Any atheist reading this blog can relate to how confusing that question can be. In our minds not believing in a god is like not believing in Santa. Thoughts of Santa filled many of our childhood minds with joy but we were only sad for few moments when we realized or found out Santa is not real. Religious views of god is just Santa for adults. Thoughts of god make many people happy, but that doesn't mean they would be forever sad if they found out god is imaginary.
I also find the question confusing because belief in god doesn't make everyone happy. It seems that for quite a few that belief just gives them a reason to carry on a life they don't like in hopes that when it is all over they'll be rewarded in another life. That's actually a very sad existence if you think about it...this life is not about this life but is about the next.
"When I finally came out of the closet and allowed myself the freedom of being an atheist, it was like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. I could read anything I wanted. Ask any questions I wanted. Challenge anything that didn’t make sense to me. And after being the equivalent of a worker ant for so long, this was heady stuff indeed! I am still exhilarated by it. A chained intellect, as demanded by religion, is a pitiful thing. A free intellect is a thing to be treasured.- Judith Hayes - The Happy Heretic
While many things cause joy for individuals, if there is anything specific to freethought that makes people happy it is what was described in the above quote. The complete freedom to simply be the person you want to be without worrying about conforming to pre-packaged views is a lasting happiness.
Jan 12, 2009
Pretty powerful stuff. I would imagine that's been used to comfort a lot of people nearing the end of their lives. The idea that hearing that kind of verification of their faith can bring peace is all too common. Even from an atheistic perspective, one could be fooled into thinking this is an act of mercy, like when you tell people who don't know you're an atheist that you'll pray for them. But you're actually hurting them.
Ignorance has never nor will ever be blissful. Ignorance brings with it immense fear and uncertainty, and anyone that's ever reflected on the human condition knows well that fear and uncertainty that come from ignorance always results in either sadness or anger. By supporting this kind of sentiment, you're enabling an empty understanding of life and death.
If you're presented with this kind of response from someone trying to keep proselytizing even as someone sits on his or her death bed, and you have the opportunity to help, maybe explain the truth:
When the body is dying, the brain undergoes neurophysiological processes which can present as fascinating experiences. Many people go through a rapid reliving of life events, or a "life flashing before one's eyes"; this results from the firing of neurons in the brain activating memories. Many near-death survivors report a feeling of extreme peace or even ecstasy; this is a result from synchronized neuronal activity, where there's a symmetrical firing of neurons (something normally only seen in seizures). Each of these also can cause an invididual to see the "bright light". Why are neurons firing in such abnormal ways? Hypoxia. As one is dying, generally the bloodflow to the brain decreases, cutting off the brain's supply of oxygen. As the brain shuts down, neurons go from active to inactive, firing off.
Ancient cultures recorded near-death experiences and interpreted them the best they could, applying them to whatever superstitions or religions were present. We don't need that crutch anymore. Perminant death brings unparalleled meaning and significance to the little time we have alive. Allowing people the opportunity to look at life objectively—looking back on a beautiful life instead of looking forward to a religious fantasy—is the ultimate act of mercy.
Jan 11, 2009
An atheist is a person who does not believe in god or gods. Other than disbelief in god, atheists don’t necessarily share anything in common.What an atheist is not (correction of common theist definitions):
An atheist is not someone who hates god.
An atheist is not a devil worshiper.
An atheist is not rebelling against religion or god.
An atheist is not under the control of some devil.
An atheist is not something that doesn’t exist.
An atheist is, in general, not immoral.
An atheist is not someone who believes in nothing.
What is an agnostic?
Agnostic translates as: a (without) gnostic (knowledge) so it means “without knowledge.” A purely agnostic person does not think it is possible to know if a god exists or not and, thus, remains undecided.
What is an agnostic (weak) atheist?
Agnostic atheism is simply another name for the broadest conception of the word atheist. An agnostic atheist does not believe in a god yet does not claim to have knowledge of said god’s non-existence. A weak atheist’s disbelief is largely dependent on a lack of evidence for a god.
What is a gnostic (strong) atheist?
Strong atheism is a position that certain types of gods definitely do not exist. An atheist may be gnostic towards the non-existence of some types of gods yet an agnostic atheist towards other types of gods.
From http://www.strongatheism.net :
Strong Atheism is the proposition that we should not suspend
judgment about the non-existence of a god or gods. More extensively, it is a
positive position against theistic values, semantics and anti-materialism, a
rational inquiry in the nature of religious thought, a new way of thinking about
religious and spiritual issues.
What is an apatheist?
Apatheism is not having a belief in god and couldn't care less if a god exists or not.
When: February 7, 2009 7:30 PM
Where: Main Event
407 W State Highway 114
Grapevine, TX 76051
Groups involved: Freethinkers of Fort Worth, Freethinkers of Dallas and I'm inviting others.
"Main Event billiard tables and shuffleboard are located in Shots Bar. Our regulation size billiard tables are brushed daily and kept in excellent condition. Guests may call ahead of time to reserve tables. No need for a sitter! While you play billiards in our smoke-free environment, the kids can play in the arcade! (Smoking lounge available)"
Let me know if you will be interested in playing pool. I will need to collect a small fee from everyone who plays to pay for the table rental. The amount will depend on how many people play.
There is a lot of other stuff to do if you don't want to play pool. Here's the Main Event website: http://www.maineventu...
You can always get in touch with me through the "Contact Organizer" link on Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Free-Thinkers-of-Dallas/suggestion/
Jan 10, 2009
With the anniversary of the group and the beginning of the new year, we would like to expand the FToD event offerings. If anyone has suggestions, please post them on the group's message boards. Volunteers willing to help organize new events are always welcome. If you would like to volunteer or would prefer your suggestions not be public use this link: http://www.meetup.com/Free-Thinkers-of-Dallas/suggestion/
Thank you. We look forward to a great year ahead.
Meet other local freethinkers, atheists, and agnostics. Gather with like-minded individuals to discuss beliefs, philosophies, and make new friends.
Free-Thinkers of Dallas meets about once a month for dinner and we are working on incorporating additional events into the group schedule.
This group is a sister group of Free-Thinkers of Fort Worth. http://atheists.meetup.com/593/ We are planning on having multi-group meetups at some point in the future.
For more information about us visit: http://atheists.meetup.com/629/about/