2010 – A Year in Review (part 1)
A year in review on my blog
2010 has been a busy year for me. On top of my full time job, my part-time job as a teacher, my rock-climbing, social life and home life, I have managed to piece together this blog, post by post, and make it quite a substantial archive of my thoughts.
On top of that, 2010 was the year that Melbourne saw the inaugural Global Atheist Convention, where we saw the likes of Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Peter Singer, Philip Adams, Taslima Nasrin and many many others talk on their perspectives of atheism, faith and the state of the religious world. This congregation of the unfaithful gave me more than enough material to write about. It was a great way to start my year, and a really great resource from which to draw inspiration.
I moved my blog over from the title of Atheist Climber, and branded it with my own name, with the help of the Think Atheist Seed project. Also this year on my blog, I launched 2 initiatives, the Prominent People Project and the Outreach Media crusade.
There are many articles on my blog which are of a higher standard than the stuff I casually throw out once or twice a week, and I’d like to step back through these, for those who may have missed them, and for those who may have forgotten them. This list is my highlights from my blog for 2010 which I have compiled with the help of my friend Monicks. As you’ll see, most of my blog entries are in reaction to something that happened to me at the time, something I read or a conversation I had with someone, either in real life, in FaceBook or on Twitter. I invite you revisit this year with me.
On January 2, I was asked by someone “OK I get that you don’t believe in God, but why do you care so much that you have to constantly write about it? Can’t people have their own beliefs?” While I may not have answered that question fully in this blog piece, I at least was able to address the core reason for why I react to the fallacies of religion so strongly. The blog piece that resulted was called “Why do we care?“
In March I was asked by a friend “Religious people believe in something beyond themselves, surely atheists believe in something more too? What do you believe?” This is a question often asked of atheists, and so often the answer comes in the form of denial of belief. But belief in its purest sense doesn’t not mean to follow a doctrine without proof, just because you’ve been told to. For me, it means, from all available sources of information, and from what I can gather about what I’ve learned, this is my understanding of things, and this is where I stand on these issues. I specifically used the word “Believe” in the title of this blog piece in the hopes of highlighting this point. The result was the blog piece “What an atheist believes“.
For Easter in 2010, I wrote a piece which delves into the ideas behind the story of Christ’s resurrection, and why people seem so willing to believe a story, that if it had been told outside of a religious text, would be laughed at as beyond fanciful. I named the piece after the song by Depeche Mode and called it “Your Own Personal Jesus“.
So many theological standpoints depend upon the notion that humanity is the reason for the earth being here, that the universe was created for us, and that God has a special place in heave for human beings. The more you dig, however, and the more you learn about the universe, the less likely it is that this is the case. I have a real problem with the idea of a deterministic universe whose main goal is to create humanity. I also know that it is highly probable that the universe contains life other than that on earth, just very far away. Knowing how large the universe is can make one seem small and insignificant, but also engenders a sense of awe at the magnificence that the universe presents. I wrote “Alone in the Universe” in reply to the ideas of a human-centred universe in May.
In June of 2010 I came across a video by Sam Harris which had some effect on me, mostly to do with the labelling of people as “atheist” and why some see it as a bad thing. My views on this are still changing, some days I wear my atheism as a brand, proud and upfront, and at others I don’t think about it at all, kind of like how I don’t think about the fact that I don’t play football. The resulting post was titled “Don’t call me an Atheist“.
Arguments about politics and religion are difficult, because human beings feel threatened when what they perceive to be true comes under threat. In science, points and counterpoints are always occurring, where new information comes to hand and the old information is either thrown out or updated. Likewise for me to change my views I simply need to be presented with a compelling argument that stands up to all available facts without bucking. The terms “cognitive dissonance” and “confirmation bias” get thrown about a lot, but is rarely understood. So I wrote this piece in the hopes of clarifying these terms. “Denial, Cognitive Dissonance and Confirmation Bias“.
In July I wrote a piece which outlines, in the words of the blog “… why I am passionate about the atheist cause, why it is important in this day and age, and why I continue to write about it.” Pretty self explanatory really. Read “You are worth more than many sparrows“.
Also in July, I tackled one of the most important metaphysical questions we have as humans. “What happens when we die?” Because death is such a finality, humans have a problem with the idea of someone ceasing to exist when we die. The ideas of afterlife simply serve as a way to make our lives seem to have a purpose, because rather than the destination being ceasing to exist, it comes in the form of peace and everlasting life. I’m not scared of death, but I don’t plan on dying any time soon. On this topic, I wrote “Scared of Death“
This seems to be a reoccurring topic of mine, but it’s because the religious seem convinced that they are more special than people of other faiths, than other animals, than plants and microbes, than anything really. This self-centeredness is one of the root causes of all our woes as a species, and many of the woes of the planet also. In September I wrote “Humanity, the spoiled child of the universe“.
In October this year, I found a video on Big Think in which the American geneticist Francis Collins tries to reconcile his scientific knowledge with his faith in Christianity. I feel that Mr Collins fell well short of the mark, and I even felt a bit annoyed at his comments, even though the beliefs he espouses are his own, and he strives to bring science and theology together. But for me, just as religion and politics should never mix, so too science and religion should never mix (unless science is studying religion). So I wrote this piece “Science is irreconcilable with religion“.
One final highlight for the year’s blogging was this piece which was inspired by something PZ Myers wrote to me in my interview with him. He wrote: “Atheism is a natural conclusion of rational and scientific thinking.” Certainly a though provoking statement, and one I agree completely with. The single statement led me on to write “Atheism is a natural outcome“, in which I try to illustrate why atheism isn’t a movement, but a destination (not the only one mind you) on the path of critical thinking.
That about sums it up for me, and my “2010 – A Year in Review (part 1)” post. Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog, without the readers I would feel like I am screaming into the void. Thanks also to all the commenters, your input is more valuable than my rantings here. Stay tuned for “2010 – A Year in Review (part 2)” where I will be reviewing a selection of blogs and news existing elsewhere on the internet, and in the real world too!