Who has more power to change the system in which they’re embedded–women in Mormonism, or female porn actors?
Welcome to the 17th edition of the Humanist Symposium! The Humanist Symposium is meant to be a celebration of the humanist life–its purpose “is not primarily to criticize religious beliefs or debunk the latest superstition, but to offer and discuss a positive alternative to belief systems based on the supernatural.” As such, these values fit squarely within the mission of Mind on Fire.
That said, let’s go straight into the best posts for this edition:
I think the contemporary atheist movement is largely — although far from entirely — made up of people who are smart, thoughtful, ethical, caring, passionate, honest, funny, brave, and able to think for themselves… to an amazing degree.
And I think that amazingness is doomed.
We need to stand for – and not just against – something. We benefit from a shared sense of community, and future generations benefit from our example.
This is a very significant result when one considers where it appeared. Daily Kos is the largest progressive political blog on the internet, averaging around 1 million hits per day, and represents a vast community of involved, motivated writers, donors, voters and activists. The fact that nonbelievers apparently predominate by such an overwhelming margin is an extremely encouraging indicator that atheists and freethinkers are becoming more and more politically involved and active, and cements our status as an important bloc of swing voters.
Naturally Nico’s naturalism extends to the study of primates…and he likes to talk about our cousins among the other great apes. Again, there is no controversy on this point in the scientific community. But…
There is controversy about it in my family. And we’ll be visiting them back in Minnesota this summer. And I’m kind of wondering what will happen if he starts talking about primates with his (human) first cousins. Nico’s not yet aware of “the controversy” — is he going to get told about “Adam & Eve” and “Noah’s Ark”? I’m a little concerned about this, and I imagine my sister is equally concerned about my kids telling hers about their ancestors among the great apes.
Any of you parents out there have any suggestions on how we should prepare them before setting off on our trip this summer?
I also reject the idea that a belief deserves more respect if it is close to mine, or if it is more likely to be “true”, or if it is shared by a lot of people, or if books have been written about it, or the like. What I reject in particular is the idea that respect is a somewhat weaker form of agreement.
She has many good questions about the Christian indoctrination that she’s carried in her head for nearly 50 years. And yet…she doesn’t believe in a fire-and-brimstone hell, but she continues to believe in heaven and continues to hold a body-soul dichotomy. She’s not actively seeking to attach herself to a church community, but she holds out a slim hope that it may happen someday. She still believes in God and a divine-human Jesus. She’s still trying, as I did for many years, to cobble together some vestige of Christian belief that comports with her practical knowledge of the world. Will she ever be able to let it go?
At Words that sing, Lirone asks the question, “How do you find reliable signposts to guide a journey of personal development?” discusses The answer is a complex one, and discusses the relative de/merits of institutional religion, New Age spirituality, self-help books and recent psychological research.
[F]rom a desire utilitarian perspective, what is justice? As a theory of value, it seems pretty clear that desire utilitarianism has an answer to that question. I’m just not sure how to approach the question of what, for example, a judge would do in order to make a just decision, or how policy-makers would begin to structure a just law. Are these questions that make sense from a desire utilitarian perspective?
At Disillusioned Words, Jeffrey Stingerstein compares Emotional Truth Versus Objective Truth (and how they relate to theism and atheism):
Atheists visiting here for the first time–Welcome! You may also enjoy this post:
In the beginning1 was Cephalopod.
And ‘Pod said, let there be light.
And the Bartender said, Havest thou instead the stout2.
And ‘Pod tasted the brew, that it was good.
After the first beer, ‘Pod spawned the first freethinkers. And behold, they brought forth rational discussions amongst themselves in great abundance:
*Bad Idea explains why atheism is incidental to his rationalism and skepticism in What’s Best for Atheism Isn’t What’s Best.
*Greta Christina confronts the inevitable human tendency (even among skeptics) to justify the irrational in two posts: Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts and Defensiveness, Rationalization, Mulishness… What Does That Have To Do With Religion? Mistakes Were Made, Part 2
In God is Dead, Kevin explains that Nietzsche was criticizing atheists for still clinging to the godly.
And this was the beginning and end of the first beer.
And ‘Pod listened to their many words and knew that they were good. And behold, ‘Pod was well pleased with itself and ordered another beer.
And ‘Pod said, Behold, I am well pleased with myself, but this bar is a friendly place. I shall send forth the freethinkers to be tested.
And it came to pass that ‘Pod sent forth the freethinkers to live in a world filled with strange superstitions and belief in even stranger gods.
And behold, many of the freethinkers did well for themselves:
The Liberal Debutante shares how atheism has improved her life in Positive Contact.
In Evolving, A Mind, Moody attacks the religious indoctrination of children, arguing, among other things that it is “horrifically despicable to inflict upon a child the notion of damnation.”
Isla talks about the satisfaction that comes from reality and authenticity in I believe in me.
And this was the beginning and the end of the second beer.
And ‘Pod was bored because it had sent away all of its freethinking friends, and there is nothing good on TV, for the Writers and Producers continued to forsake each other. And ‘Pod said, Let there be a book full of contradictions, anachronisms and archaisms and let it be called it the Bible, for verily, I am crazy like that.
And it came to pass that many worshiped the book and carried it to every corner of the earth, which really had no corners, being a squat spheroid, but this did not deter the many followers of the Bible.
Behold, the skeptics met the onslaught of the believers with the scientific method, intelligent questions and historical analysis:
*In A week of scriptures, Heathen Dan celebrates “National Bible Week” by performing excellent and approachable critical analysis of various biblical stories through a series of seven posts. (Also, his image is a massive composite of album covers )
The Spanish Inquisitor also takes on the Bible in …For The Bible Tells Me So.
And this was the beginning and the end of the third beer.
And ‘Pod said, Behold, that was fun. Verily, I shall mess with the heads of people some more. Let there be fundamentalist believers in political power throughout the world. Let them commit all manner of atrocities, yea, even burning embassies, passing Christian bills in secular governments, and voting for Mitt Romney.
Behold, once again, the freethinkers defended their political liberties through the application of wisdom and careful argument:
*ronbrown eloquently argues for the defense of freedom of speech even in the face of possible violence in “Freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend”; Dutch government bracing self for violent Muslim protest to anti-Muslim film
In Dinesh D’Souza Spreads Dishonest Propaganda…Again, Kelly undermines support for HR888 by exploring, in detail, Christianity’s historical defense in the U.S. for abominable institutions like slavery.
vJack distinguishes between Christian fundamentalism, extremism, and terrorism in What Is Christian Extremism?
Ron dissects a couple of political analysis articles and pessimistically prognosticates The Two Factors That Will Give Us a Republican President.
Hallq wonders why corrupt faith healers and prosperity gospel advocates aren’t be prosecuted in: Religious believers–too stupid to be protected by law?
And this was the beginning and the end of the fourth beer.
And ‘Pod ordered yet another. And the Bartender said, Have you not had enough? For behold, are ye not shit-faced?
And ‘Pod slurred, Nay, let there be another beer. And ‘Pod sent forth a multitude of plagues of unreason, harmful superstition and bigotry.
And it came to pass that as ‘Pod waved its tentacles with glee, that the atheists stood up in force and one among them said:
Let us be strong in logic, and in the power of the scientific method.
Put on the whole armor of reason, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the dogmatic.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the irrational ideas of the televangelists, creationists, and Jesus Camp graduates and against those who desire to hasten the end of the world, and against religious intolerance in high places.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of intelligence;
And your feet shod with the scientific method;
Above all, taking the shield of logic, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the superstitious.
And thus prepared, rushed into battle with the forces of theism once again:
The Chaplain argues eloquently that religion’s negative influence outweighs the good in What’s So Bad About Religion?
Daniel takes on the French mathematician and philosopher in Pascal’s wager. Recommended reading for anyone’s who’s considering the famous gamble.
In The Monty Hall Riddle and Atheism, Tatarize gives us another take on the God wager, this time using the game show metaphor.
A.C. Chase muses on the Orwellian nature of the math implied by the doctrine of the Trinity in The Holy Trinity: Revealed Mathematics.
Mike White ponders the nature of free will, and its relationship to religion in How much Freedom do we Have?
Evanescent warns us of the dangers of the apocalyptic world view in The Eschatology Ideology.
And this was the beginning and end of the fifth beer.
And ‘Pod was laughing drunkenly. And behold, when it looked upon the Bartender, it saw not one, but three blurry, continually moving Bartenders. Nevertheless, ‘Pod said, Let there be another beer. And the Bartender reluctantly provided, but only after he taketh ‘Pod’s keys.
And ‘Pod slurred, Lissssten, if you thought that was hilariousss, behold thisss great challenge: Let there be men and women acrossss the land who claim to heal sicknessss through faith thereby taking advantage of the dessssperately ill.
And then it came to pass that ‘Pod let out a mighty belch.
Once again, the freethinkers responded:
*The Whited Sepulchre links to this powerful (and very disturbing) mashup video: Benny Hinn: “Let The Bodies Hit The Floor”
Evolved critiques miraculous healing in Faith Healing, does it actually work?
And this was the beginning and the end of the fifth beer.
And the Bartender said, That is pretty fucked up.
And the freethinkers said, Yea, that is pretty fucked up.
And the atheists and skeptics and the freethinkers created the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and sent his Noodliness to attack ‘Pod. Behold, there was a mighty drunken brawl and titanic fragments of pasta and tentacle were scattered across the surface of the earth. No one knoweth who won, for the Bartender spake not concerning the matter.
But it did come to pass that many feasted on delicious calamari and spaghetti for many days.
From No More Mr. Nice Guy:
I wish they knew how to quit religion
From the Gaytheist Agenda:
Court ends Bible distribution in school.
Parable of the Eternal Prisoner
1. There is considerable debate among scholars over the meaning of “beginning.” Most of the discussion revolves around the question, “The beginning of what, exactly?” Some scholars argue that “Beginning” refers to the name of the bar. back
2. This reference to a stout has lead some scholars to refer to this text as the “Book of Guinness,” but mostly in informal debates in pubs, and not in the scholarly literature .back
This year’s topic, and I’m really glad they give us topics, is Why It’s Important to Vote Pro-Choice.
My response is that the personal is the political. It’s a tired feminist line but one that I think deserves a second glance. Politics affect us on a daily basis: whether we’re driving on roads, working, or buying groceries. At the same time, we affect politics, but much less frequently. One of the major ways we do is by voting. We should vote for the people who will improve our personal lives as well as for people who are ethical choices, in the Aristotelean sense (they are not an extreme in one direction or the other).
Every time we go to the polls, we have a chance to affect the future of our society. I have recently had occasion to realize that I am still an
idiot idealist. I actually think that politics is a n ignoble career goal. I actually think that politicians should be philosophers. I actually think that we should vote for those people we want to see in office. This is part of why I’m a Green; that is, why I vote for people who haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell to win. I think that politicians should be people we respect, look up to, and encourage our children to be. Given who’s currently in office, wouldn’t you want to vote…?
Incidentally, I have often mused at why it is that Republicans are so hell-bent on enacting laws to restrict this personal freedom. Aren’t Republicans supposed to be anti-government-intervening-in-personal/state-affairs?
As women, we have had the vote for 86 years in a month. What have we to show for it? We have had the vote for the lifetime of one person. Can we point to any particular issues that we have affected? I’ve been hearing on the radio that women are finally starting to show up to elections in numbers that might mean it’s becoming normal (there are 52% of us, by the way). I challenge every woman to vote in the coming election. And I challenge everyone who can to volunteer at their polling place.
To sum up: it is important to vote; it is important to vote our conscience; if we are pro-choice, it is important to vote for pro-choice candidates. Make a difference, people; make a difference any way you can.
FYI: The 80th edition of the Carnival of the Godless is up at the Jesus Myth. I haven’t had a chance to look at this one yet, so let me know if you all find any especially intriguing posts. I’m looking forward to reading them over a steaming hot cup of Joe sweetened with a bunch of turbinado sugar and the knowledge that this was forbidden to me for the eighteen years of my Mormon existence.
I’ve got to submit something to one of these here carnivals. Hmmmm… *insert gear spinning and clacking sounds here*