Being an atheist means you can no longer learn your moral code by rote and tradition and obedience to authority*, but have to rely on reason and empathy and greater human goals, and you don’t get to justify actions simply because they “feel” right or good — you have to support them with evidence or recognition that they directly serve a secular purpose. Our atheism, our secularism, our rejection of divinity and ecclesiastical authority determines how we move through our life, and that movement matters. It’s not superficial, it’s not a fashion choice, and the absence of god has meaning.
PZ Myers, The scarlet crayon of atheism
I’m not sure if “respect” is always the right word, but something gets lost.
I do some radio interviews and once with a Christian radio station the interviewer was just beside himself talking with me. And he said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. Are you telling me that you don’t believe that there’s some force that governs the whole universe and protects our lives and all the rest?’ And I said, “Oh, I do! I do!’ And he go very excited and said, ‘You do?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I do. I really do! I call it gravity.’
Daniel Dennett, How to Tell You’re An Atheist
This is the problem with Christian religion: it establishes unrealistic, and irrational, and immoral criteria by which to live. And then it creates a loophole so that you don’t ever have to be responsible for those actions. Christianity is not a moral system, it is an immoral system. Because it specifically says that there aren’t necessarily consequences that you’re going to have to pay, because of a loophole. And what is the loophole? It has nothing to do with how good you are, or how morally you act or anything else, it has to do with whether or not you’re willing to be a sycophant to an idea. And if you are, then there is now an exception for which you no longer have to suffer a penalty for this. So the idea that “secular morality offers no guarantee that people will never pay for their crimes and their atrocities” is not an argument against secular morality, because that is a TENANT of Christianity. It is the foundation.
Matt Dillahunty, The Atheist Experience
Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth — often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.
Hypatia of Alexandria
nagnostic (noun) - A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena, and takes that belief to such extremes that they persistently annoy others with assertions that their position is obviously the most philosophically sound and that they too are actually agnostic.
It’s time for candidates and politicians to stop the God talk and start acting like true representatives of the people—all of the people. It’s time for the 45 million Nones to demand both respect and representation no less than any other American, and for presidential candidates, when asked about their religion, to reply something along these lines:
‘I understand why you are curious about my religious beliefs, but I am not running to represent only Americans who happen to believe what I believe about God and religion. I am running to represent Americans of all faiths, and even the tens of millions of Americans who have no religion. If elected, my allegiance is to the Constitution and my duty is to uphold the laws of this great land, which are to be applied equally and without prejudice to all Americans no matter their color or creed. I realize that some candidates and politicians pander to their religious voting block in hopes of gaining support by tapping ancient tribal prejudices, but that is not my way. I get why other candidates are tempted to appeal to those deep emotions that are stirred by religious unity against those who believe differently, but I am trying to do something different. If elected I fully intend to represent all Americans under my jurisdiction, not just those Americans whose beliefs I happen to share. I am trying to build a better America for all Americans, not some. The original motto of this country is E Pluribus Unum. It means “Out of many, one.” It means that we are stronger together than separate, united by our common belief in liberty and the freedom to believe whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm others. As a candidate for the highest office of this noble nation my faith is in its people—all of the people—and what we are able to do together to make the world a better place to live.’
Michael Shermer, E PLURIBUS UNUM FOR ALL FAITHS AND FOR NONE
Merry Christmas! People would be amazed that 1) many non-Christians celebrate the holiday season and 2) many Christians unknowingly implement pagan traditions into their commemoration of the baby Jesus.
This video takes a quick glance at just a few beloved Christmas traditions and some of their origins.
Penn Jillette is awesome. Take 10 minutes to watch this and share it please. Take that extra step.
Some interesting insight into the use of the word “christian” in the last 50 years.
Yes, the Jesus character in the Gospels spoke of love and respect and humility, healing the sick and taking care of the poor. But he also spoke of the wickedness of thought crimes, and the sinfulness of divorce; of the value of surrendering rational thought, and the nobility of abandoning family and responsibility to pursue a religious practice. He spoke with approval of the calm acceptance of evil and oppression in this world. And he spoke — over and over like a broken record — about the all-importance of believing that he was God, and obeying his commands. He spoke again and again about how there was just one right way to practice religion, and how doing this was a far greater priority than being a good person in the world.
If you believe that it’s normal and healthy to think about things that you would never actually do; that expressing anger is often useful and healthy; that good people should resist evil and oppression; that people’s sexual and marital lives are nobody’s business but their own; that people of different faiths, perhaps even of no faith at all, can still be good people; that you shouldn’t just believe what you’re told; that women and men should have equal marital rights; that actions speak louder than words and beliefs; that religion shouldn’t divide people; that fact-checking is a valuable skill; and that it’s more important to treat each other well than to have the exact right religious doctrine… then good for you. I think so, too. But if you believe that the Gospels reflect the reality of his life and teachings, then apparently Jesus didn’t.
Greta Christina, The Messed Up Teachings of Jesus