Thursday, February 19, 2015

They Are All Hypocrites

Some time back I told a religious relative that "religion is how bad people feel good about themselves."  This is one of the many purposes of religion and one that I believe figures prominently because it is an essential part of the attraction of religion both for true believers and those manipulative psychopaths who use it to control others.

I received the predictable reply that this may be true of the "hypocrites" but wasn't true of true believers.  This is, of course, how all religious people will see it if you point out hypocrisy in their religion.  They see it only as an indictment of the human frailty of some members of their religion.  They will almost certainly not admit to hypocrisy themselves and will never see it as an indictment of their religion itself.

I think, however, that it is an indictment of their religion.  Hypocrisy is built in to religion.

Hypocrisy is defined as "a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess."

Clearly the key pretense is that of having a virtuous character.  Moral and religious beliefs are relevant only if they cause the person to behave virtuously.  If someone doesn't follow his alleged moral or religious beliefs, then that person is the sort of hypocrite that even the religious would label as a hypocrite.  My point is that possessing moral or religious beliefs do not necessarily make one virtuous.

What makes this hypocrisy part and parcel of religion is the notion of third party forgiveness.  Believers almost always think that if they do something wrong, they can get forgiveness for their transgressions through religion.  This forgiveness, however, is an obvious fantasy.

If a person has transgressed, the only source of legitimate forgiveness is the party or parties who were harmed by the transgression.  Getting forgiveness from your invisible friend--even if he were real--is hypocritical.  It is a pretense to a virtuous character that one does not really possess. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pointless Debates

I have urged those who read my posts to avoid debate with believers because it is both futile and dangerous to the non-believer.  The religious, however, are frequently insistent when it comes to trying to discuss religion.  One way to put an end to such efforts while simultaneously giving the believer something to think about is to say:

It is pointless to debate someone who has rejected both reason and honesty.

Depending on the scenario, you may feel the need to give a brief explanation concerning how faith is the rejection of reason and how belief in one supernatural hypothesis while being totally skeptical of others is not honest.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Politics and Religion

Religion is necessarily bound up with politics because religion encompasses the worldview, beliefs about morality, and (most important) social status of believers.  Religion and politics are more than simply inextricably intertwined; they are different sides of the same coin.  Yet, those anxious to defend religion often try to deflect criticism by claiming that the numerous bad deeds done in its name are "political" rather than religious.

Claiming that religion is separate from politics is another of those baldfaced lies that the religious try to slip into debates.  Like most of their lies, they have convinced themselves it is true.  And, if you look at it from just the right angle, it can seem true.  After all, one's personal beliefs about the afterlife don't seem to have to much to do with politics. 

The trouble is that the only way to sustain this viewpoint is to pretend that religion is a far smaller part of a person's life than it actually is.  You have to ignore the mountain of evidence to the contrary as well as the obvious logical implications of believing in a religion.  You have to pretend that religion is a circumscribed and simple set of beliefs instead of a worldview.

The only believers who can legitimately make this claim are deists and the like who believe that a god exists but who don't make any claims to knowledge about the nature, thoughts, and edicts of god.  Consequently, I think a good reply to this claim is to point out that a person who claims to be speaking for god in some fashion is essentially claiming that everyone on Earth needs to listen and obey.  If that isn't a political statement, I don't know what is.

After all, one is claiming to be imparting the wishes of the being that allegedly made the entire universe, including the Earth and all of us.  The thoughts and wishes of such an entity, if it existed, would and should be of paramount importance to us all.  Such an entity must be in possession of a great deal more knowledge and wisdom that any human or group of humans and such an entity must also possess a great deal of power of one sort or another over us all.

Combine those implications with the ways in which religions everywhere seek to coerce human behavior through threats, promises and other manipulations, it should be easy to see that all religions are political and not an aside but as their primary concern.

Frankly, to a nonbeliever it is obvious that religion has always been political.  It is clear that even in its very genesis, religion was political because it was always meant to be a way to manipulate the behavior of others.  Even its simplest and most basic function, conquering the fear of death, is political.  The goal is to get people to accept their own death and the deaths of others with a minimum of grief and attendant disruption.

Consequently, if you hear this ridiculous canard, I recommend saying:

If your religion claims to know what god wants from mankind, then it is political.

or,

When you claim to speak for god, you are making a political statement because you are claiming to know what everyone should think or do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wake Up and Oppose Theocracy

Today I just want to post a link to a wonderful article about the recent debates on Bill Maher's show over his fact based criticism of Islam.  If you aren't aware of the debates, suffice it to say for now that all he did was cite facts regarding the violence and intolerance so clearly prevalent in Islamic societies and was told he was intolerant and racist for doing so. 

The article explains very well why the criticisms leveled at Maher are just wrong.  Enjoy.

Wake Up and Oppose Theocracy:  Bill Maher, Rula Jebreal and the Urgent Islam Debate.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

That Was a Long Time Ago

If you have ever tried to point out the sins of the christian church to a christian, such as the crusades, witch hunts, burning non-believers at the stake, you will almost inevitably hear the reply "that was a long time ago".  There is a short reply that one can use in these situations:

There is no statute of limitations on murder or crimes against humanity.

To which you can add:

Even if there were, I wouldn't want to be associated with such an organization.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Here Is What Atheists Believe

One of the annoying things that religious people say to atheists is that we believe in nothing.  By this, of course, what they mean is that we have no values because, in their minds, values come from god.  In other words, it is little better than calling us psychopaths.  It is bigotry even if politely expressed.

It is also evidence of confused thinking or speaking if taken literally.  Literally, someone who believes in nothing is a nihilist, not an atheist.  If you choose, you can point this out to any religious person who says this sort of thing.  You will score a superficial point and it may well be worth the trouble to make this point quickly before moving on to the more important substance of the religious person's actual meaning.

In general, I find that religious people will invariably favor the emotional over the literal meaning of the things they say.  This is because they are fuzzy thinkers--not precise thinkers.  If you choose to point out the literal meaning of what they say, your response will be seen as mere nit-picking.  But, it will also usually make the religious person pause, and then probably agree with you regarding the literal meaning of the words.  (Though if the person is truly stupid, you may find that he or she doesn't even know what a nihilist is.)

This will give you an opening, if needed, to address the actual, bigoted meaning of what the person just said.  The most common response is to give the religious person a list of things in which atheists believe.  Many have put forth lists of the various things atheists believe.  A web search will turn up several, though most seem to be copied from the Murray v. Curlett decision quoting Madalyn Murray O'Hair

These lists are good, and I suggest reading them and maybe even coming up with your own list of values.  The problem with the lists is that they fail to address the core of the problem and fail to reveal why atheism is, at its core, the only moral religious philosophy.  (They also violate the soundbite rule--they won't register in the believer's mind.)

The one value that I think is central to atheism and which, I think, most atheists hold true even if they don't realize it is this:

Atheists believe in truth.

We believe in being honest with ourselves and the world.  Religious people don't.  They would rather say what is popular than what is true.  And, as I pointed out before, this is one of the reasons I say that atheists are more moral than religious people.  Because if you are not honest with yourself and the world, then no morals apply to you because you are implicitly reserving the right to lie.

Honesty is the core of atheism in my opinion.  We atheists don't pretend that we never make mistakes.  If we realize we have a belief that is false, we would rather admit it than engage in a face saving lie.  We would rather endure bigotry and scorn than take part in a lie, even a popular one.


Here is a brief list of atheist beliefs (in addition to honesty).  I believe:

1. We should love our fellow man instead of an imaginary god.

2. The needs of ourselves and others should be met by deeds and not by useless prayers.

3. This is the only life we will ever have.  Heaven is something we should strive to create here on earth.

4. We should strive for involvement and improvement in this life and not an escape into death.

5. We are each responsible for our own conduct.  No one can take our punishment for us.

6.  Only those we harm can forgive us for it.

7. We should do what is right regardless of reward or punishment.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Catholic Church Continues Cover-up

I recently came across this news item regarding a canon lawyer for the Catholic Church who recently resigned her post because of the continued policy of covering up sex abuse cases.  I think it is worth being aware of this both because it shows that religion does not lead to morality or even decency and that religions do not change unless forced to do so.