Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bias Against Non-believers IV

The recent controversy about the cross at the World Trade Center site has generated some very hateful and threatening comments by religious people against atheists.

A spokesperson for American Atheists appeared on Fox News to discuss the fact that such a monument would be un-Constitutional if erected by or for the Government.  Also, many of those killed in the terrorist attacks were not Christians.  The cross therefore does not represent all those killed and could be seen as insulting or offensive to those non-Christians who were killed or to their families.

Afterward, Fox viewers let it all hang out (their hatred and insanity, that is) on the Fox News facebook page.  Someone at Fox apparently deleted the threats of violence almost as quickly as they were made, but diligent non-believers captured many of them before they were deleted.

Some of these expressions of "Christian morality and love" can be seen here at the American Atheists' site.

Update 8/9/11:  A news story on Yahoo News reports that the Fox facebook page in question was taken down after less than 36 hours but had already accumulated more than 200 threats.   One site claims there were more than 8,000 death threats on the Fox News page before it was deleted.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Creepy and Deranged

In his book, "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in God", Guy P. Harrison mentions the tendency of many Christians to speak of their eager anticipation of the end of the world--according to biblical prophecy.  He says that they don't seem to appreciate how creepy and deranged this sounds.  His comments on this phenomenon are so good that I would like to quote part of them.

"Not only do many believers anticipate the end of the world as we know it, but they are happy about it.  Some people actually think it will be great when blood runs in the streets and the skies are ablaze from nuclear explosions because it will mean that their god is fulfilling the master plan.  I suspect they look forward to having a big 'I told you so!' moment, too.  Many believers have no idea how creepy and deranged all of this sounds to an atheist.  I, for example, tend to think that mass death and destruction are bad things.  So it's tough for me to understand how so many believers of various religious can get all giddy over an event in with billions of people will die agonizing deaths.  But somehow they do.  This stuff really excites them."  Harrison, p. 344.

I have heard this sort of thing most of my life because I grew up in a part of the U.S. dominated by fundamentalists.  There are a lot of people who say this sort of thing, even if you don't hear them say it every day.  (See also this article.)  Perhaps even a few of the "nice" Christians you know in the community or at work are among them.  You may not know that they think and say such things simply because you have never gone to their church or discussed religion with them at any length.  You may think that the apocalypse-mongers are a lunatic few.  Take it from me, however, they are legion.

I would like to point out that this sort of thing doesn't just sound creepy and deranged, it IS creepy and deranged.  More to the point, it is not something a sane person would say or even think.  I consider it a prime indicator that religion is, in fact, a form of mental illness.  This insane longing for the extermination of mankind is both suicidal and homicidal at the same time and is one of the reasons that atheists sometimes refer to christianity as a "death cult".

What disturbs me even more is the reception such thoughts receive when actually spoken out loud.  They are accepted as perfectly normal--sometimes even by non-believers.  In fact, because they are often seen as a sign of religious fervor, they are even seen as signs of virtue. 

I have seen people who literally had a maniacal gleam in their eyes, who spouted such insanity and expressed a determination to dedicate their lives to bringing this insane result about treated as if they were especially sane, good, and responsible citizens and given positions of authority and responsibility denied to the vast majority of their peers.  I can only assume that their insane ideas helped to ease their paths to positions of authority and responsibility because generally they spoke of little else and were well known for thinking and saying such things.  Thus, those who chose to promote them had to know.

Furthermore, a large number of religious people are actively dedicating their time and money (sometimes their whole lives) to bringing this apocalypse to pass.  This wholehearted dedication to ending life on Earth (at least, human life) is evil and insane.  Those who think this way and act on it should be in mental institutions.  Instead, we place them in positions of authority--even the Presidency of the U.S.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Religion as Narcissistic Personality Disorder II

In several previous posts I have discussed the ways in which religion and religiosity seem to be a form or symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I recently came across a quotation from Sam Vaknin, an expert on narcissism whose writings I linked to in one of those posts.  That quotation helps explain succinctly why religion is, at a minimum, often a symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

"[N]arcissists - both men and women - are chauvinistically conservative. They depend to such an extent on the opinions of people around them - that, with time, they are transformed into ultra-sensitive seismographs of public opinion, barometers of prevailing winds and guardians of conformity. Narcissists cannot afford to seriously alienate those who reflect to them their False Self. The very proper and on-going functioning of their Ego depends on the goodwill and the collaboration of their human environment."

In other words, the eager, diligent, and thoughtless conformity of the religious is necessary to attain the approval of others, which, apparently, is more important to them than anything--even the truth.  The willingness to sacrifice all other concerns in order to obtain ego gratification can be called the central characteristic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The name for this gratification is "narcissistic supply"--a relatively generic term coined by Dr. Otto Fenichel in recognition of the fact that different narcissists will have different ways of gratifying the needs of their egos.

Religion as Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Religion as Narcissistic Delusion

Religion as Narcissistic Delusion, Part II

Religion as Narcissistic Delusion, DSM-IV

Monday, July 11, 2011

Religion and Racism III

After drafting my post entitled Religion and Racism, it occurred to me that a previous post gave strong support to the views I expressed.  One of the things I said in that post was:

"Three hundred years ago it was still considered acceptable to enslave people of other races.  Likewise, it was still acceptable to burn non-believers at the stake.  These extreme expressions of intolerance are no longer permitted."
Although it is true that such practices are no longer acceptable, thinking about them apparently is.  I had mentioned in The Insanity of Religion III that a prominent Israeli Rabbi had publicly stated that other groups of people were meant by god only to serve the Jews.  I did not mention racism in that post, but I could have because the link is clear.  Religion and racism are both expressions, in part, of insane, group based egotism.  I can't imagine any example of words or behavior that could make this link any more clear than the Rabbi's publicly expressed thoughts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Atheism Is Not Satanism

“An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard only one side of the case; God has written all the books.”
— Samuel Butler (1835-1902), English satirist. Dictionary of Humorous Quotations edited by Evan Esar

One would think that it would go without saying that atheism is not the same thing as satanism.  Satan is merely another god.  Atheists don't believe in any gods.  Unfortunately, however, one often hears this nonsensical equation of atheism with satanism from believers.

Many times it comes from their complete ignorance.  Having grown up surrounded by talk of nothing but god and his alleged opponent, satan, they think this simple bipolar world encompasses all possible scenarios.  Therefore, anyone not working for god must be working for satan.  They often also limit their notions of who is working for god to only those who represent their particular flavor of religion.  Thus, to such people, even other Christians are often thought to be working for satan.

These people are an extreme example of the way in which religion necessarily leads to intolerance.

Others, however, have found a veneer of respectability for their bigotry in the words of non-believers.  Many non-believers, aware of the sensibilities of believers, make a point of tweaking believers by calling their own views satanism or the like.  Anton LeVay is a prime example.  He called his philosophy of rational selfishness satanism even though there appears to be no reason to think that he actually believed in satan.  It appears that he was simply stressing the point that he did not believe in god or religious morality.

One of the best responses to this nonsense is:

"You are more of a satanist than I am.  You actually believe in satan."


"I don't believe in anything supernatural and that includes satan."

Others such as Milt Timmons, who wrote "Lucifer's Handbook", were simply trying to tweak the noses of the believers by pointing out, as did Samuel Butler in the quotation above, that it is far from certain who the "good guy" was in the mythical struggle between god and Lucifer.  Judging from the Bible and the things believers say it appears that their god is psychologically similar to Kim Jong Il and his heaven is an eternal version of North Korea.

In that vein, another response might be:

"If Lucifer is the bad guy, then why does his name mean "bringer of light?"

(The actual answer to that question is that the name is a reference to a pagan god that was based on Venus--the morning star--whose appearance in the morning sky heralded the coming of the Sun.  Most Christians won't know this, however.  Thus, using this response is a slightly dishonest bit of nose tweaking, but some of them deserve it.)

In conclusion I would like to say that even though I understand the desire to have a bit of fun at believers' expense, it is not a good idea to associate non-belief with satan worship.  Believers are already inclined to believe that we non-believers are evil and they have a history of persecuting us rather severely.  Anything that lends any legitimacy to their tendencies toward doing such things hurts the cause of rationality and puts non-believers in danger.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement V

Here is a video of Christopher Hitchens presenting some of the information that makes it absolutely clear that Hitler and the Nazis were not atheists or even secular:

The Moment of Truth II

Some time ago, I published a post expressing my conclusion that most people have the intelligence to see that religion is false and that most people do have that epiphany at some point in their lives and that what separates believers from non-believers is their reaction to this moment of truth.

I recently came across a quotation from the writings of Sigmund Freud that implicitly express the same notion that I would like to add to my thoughts on this notion:

"In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable."

Once again, I am struck by how the same realizations concerning religion have appeared again and again throughout history, yet mankind still suffers from it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement IV

One of the ways in which Christianity has tried to distance itself from the Nazis is to focus on the pagan influences amongst the leaders of Nazism.  Undoubtedly, there were such influences.  As I mentioned before, however, this is akin to the Nuremburg defense.  The fact that the leaders were less than purely Christian in outlook does not relieve their Christian followers of moral culpability--especially given that these Christian followers were the ones who committed the actual atrocities and did so eagerly with only a little encouragement from their leaders.

In addition, this is akin to the "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy in which a person argues that a perpetrator of bad acts could not have truly been a member of the group simply because his actions are inconsistent with the idealized view of the group.  Thus, the bad acts are said not to reflect upon the group as a whole.  Obviously, this is a "tails, I win; heads, you lose" argument.  It is a circular argument in which the conclusion (no one in my group is bad) is taken as an immutable given.

Most Christians have their individual opinions about the particulars of their religion.  In fact, no one person can define in detail what it means to be a Christian--though many claim to be able to do so.  Thus, when a Christian does something very unpopular, the other Christians will argue that he wasn't "really" a Christian.  In doing so, they will try to get everyone to focus their attention on the ways in which that individual differed from many other Christians--failing to mention that the same type of "distinctions" can be made about all Christians.

One of the most useful bits of "evidence" the religious have for this subterfuge is the Nazi symbol, the swastika.  The swastika is an ancient symbol found in many cultures.  So ancient, in fact, that its pagan origins are undeniable--it predates Christianity.  This does not mean, however, that it was adopted as part of the Nazi's rejection of Christianity any more than the adoption of various pagan symbols used at Christmas and Easter mean that Christianity is pagan.

The swastika was simply an ancient good luck symbol.  The word swastika came from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote good luck.  It was adopted by some Christians just as were ancient fertility symbols--rabbits and eggs.  In fact, the name for it in German is Hakenkreuz or "hooked cross".

To the best of our knowledge Hitler saw the swastika as a Christian symbol.  Hitler's first encounter with the swastika was in his boyhood catholic school, which had it engraved on its wall in several places as part of its crest.  (See Anna Elisabeth Rosmus, Out of Passau: Leaving a City Hitler Called Home, p. 35.)

Hitler's family moved to Lambach, Austria, in 1897.  For several months Hitler attended a Catholic school there located in an 11th-century Benedictine cloister, where the walls were engraved in a number of places with crests containing the symbol of the swastika.  It was in Lambach that the eight-year-old Hitler sang in the church choir and entertained the fantasy of one day becoming a priest.

Thus, if presented with this argument, one can say:

"There is no reason to believe that Hitler or the Nazis saw the Hakenkreuz as any less Christian than a Christmas tree."


"If the swastika proves the Nazis weren't Christian, then Easter and Christmas prove that the majority of those who call themselves Christian aren't Christian either."

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement II

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement III

Friday, July 1, 2011

Free Will III

A member of Think Atheist whose posts I have quoted before has posted a wonderful summation of the way in which free will and predetermination interact and exist simultaneously:

"Our choices aren’t free in a libertarian sense: they’re free within the constraints of our experience; our identity.  Perhaps Arthur Schopenhauer summed it up best: “Man can do what he wills but he can not will what he wills.”  We can do, in the present, whatever our experience has prepared us for."

Free Will

Free Will II