Posted by on January 29, 2011 in Thoughts | 11 comments

I’ve been asking myself these questions lately: “Do the words of one person make any difference to the state of the world? Can I hope to have any influence on the future of the world? Does this blog matter?”

The answer I continually come up with is a resounding “No” to all three.

I came into this blogging thingĀ  a while back thinking I had something unique to say, if not in content then at least in the voice I deliver it with. I was hoping to voice my perspective on things, and if not breaking new ground, at least offer a new way of delivering the messages I have, and reinforcing the words of those who are breaking new ground. Far be it from me to think that I could actually be found interesting by anyone along the way. Up until recently I thought there was a possibility that my contribution to the worlds of rational thinking and reason were actually helping people to think and to arrive at their own conclusions about the nature of the universe.

It seems however that I was kidding myself. Why do I say this now?

There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, and foremost in my mind, is the fact that even on the side of rational discourse there are people who would like to shoot me down. Not just me, but people like me who would like to have a say, or be heard. There is a culture of one-up-manship that seems rife on the internet. Of course this is nothing new, it’s what the internet was invented for, but since when did atheist communities become the haunting-grounds of adolescent idiocy? Shouldn’t the idea be that people of a similar mind back each other up, using common ground as a platform for discourse, rather than trying to pick holes in arguments, point out how unoriginal the ideas are, or just dismiss them offhand because there are examples of better formulated concepts out there?

Secondly, the fight for rational thought seems no closer to any kind of reconciliation than it was when I began this blog. In fact the rabblerousers on the other side of the fence seem to be gaining momentum and power, while the voice of reason is trampled under the feet of delusion. It’s disheartening to see this happen, I know so many good writers and commentators out there in the blogosphere, people who have real and rational things to say, but whos words are lost in the cacophony coming from the media and the organisations. The fight continues. The battles may be won, but the war will never end.

Thirdly, what does it matter what I think? Why should anyone care? This keeps coming back to me again and again. I keep rehashing the old ideas over and over, perhaps with a slightly different focus than before, but the ideas themselves aren’t new.

And finally, I feel like I’ve been fighting hard against the words and ideas of ignorance that abound in the world, and it does become very tiring. I’m tired of it. Coming up with new ideas (that aren’t new), reasoning against my own self to make the perspective right, battling the poisonous diatribes of those with influence. Sometimes it really feels like I’m beating my head against a wall.

Having said all this, don’t worry, I’m not stopping the blog. I just wanted to air some of the frustrations I am feeling right now, and hopefully getting this all out in the open helps me to move forward, on to bigger and better things. See it as self-administered therapy.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. I enjoy reading your blog and agree that there seems to be pervading one-upmanship, especially online. And it seems like one gets lost in a stream of unabating information that is online. I can understand your frustration at trying to get your voice heard. It is heard by some and those are the ones that support you. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice, even if you feel like you are swimming against the tide. There aren’t enough people trying to educate the masses. There aren’t enough of the masses that want to be educated. Sadly vapid celebs and politicians pushing nonsense get the attention of people more than anything else. Keep up the good work. You’ll still have readers.

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  2. Look,you have a strong voice and things to say that matter. There are always opponents -always.

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  3. Marty —

    I believe that every author has been there before — indeed, everyone with a conscience and a voice. And too few convince themselves to be voices in the wilderness. I’m quoting these not to cheer you up, but to show that others have wrestled with it and found, or maintained, their voices:

    “Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights” — Henry David Thoreau

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

    Neither of these people, I expect, was able to formulate these statements out of arrogance — rather, they had wrestled with the issues themselves. Confidence is not the same as arrogance; the former can be gained while the latter must be unlearned. You’ve eschewed the latter, and deserve the former.

    All that reddit stuff is not only bullshit, is bullshit for a telling reason. Were you not humble in your treatment of the issues, and were full-bore arrogant with off-the-wall ideas, paradoxically the trolls over there would have given you more credit. But you deserve credit for not doing so.

    Here’s the thing: Thoreau’s quote above, and Mead’s? Weren’t unprecedented. Almost nothing is unprecedented. But they were eloquent, and we quote them because the authors backed them up with a corpus of insight and majesty.

    As Thoreau showed, two centuries ago people were eschewing beautiful truths, replacing them with comfortable-seeming but illusory lies. And Mead’s quote, later, showed that it surprises people that the voices of intelligent and conscientious citizens are what have changed, and will change, the world. We should have moved beyond the delusion and surprise by now, as a species. But we haven’t, and it’s darkness we must rage against, and a sea of troubles we must take up arms against.

    Nothing I’m saying here is novel, of course — not even about your blog, as I know many who read it avidly for your insight, your distillation of others’ arguments, and your writing skill. I’m not saying this from a perch above any other writer, or even alongside the better ones — although I hope it’s a perch opposite those who cut in order to rise, and a perch I’ve attained by slogging past the superstition. I come here for an eloquent Marty, not an arrogant one — and I hope it can stay a confident one. Because you’ve earned it — and because the world needs it.

    Please keep doing what you’re doing.

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  4. I get disillusioned every day. Trying to get my point across to the religious ridiculists is an uphill fight everyday. I have learned a lot from your site and look forward to reading it every day. I have many sites I visit and blog on, if just to get my frustrations out with the way the world is. I think the internet has saved me from irrationality. I will go to my grave fighting ignorance and the belief of fairy tales for the good of mankind.

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  5. You are right, fighting the ignorant can be tiring and no recognition or rewards. At least it appears that way, but your words could be read by the person that needs them and you CHANGE their world forever, a change for better.

    With everyone able to blog, it becomes a nightmare of disinformation. When everything was published hardcopy, you had to convince people you actually had something worthy of being published. Now you can just start up a page and do whatever you want. And of course there are the trolls, never a positive statement, and their reward is 15 seconds of fame in their own minds at least.

    Do not STOP. Continue your work, it matters to those that need it but also remember no matter how profound or deep, it will never pass the muster of the some people. It is so easy to pick apart others works, but it takes talent, commitment, dedication and hope to create your own works of genius.

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  6. Marty, I really enjoy your blog and the way you express yourself.
    But more importantly you are keeping these types of discussions open. All of the atheist, skeptic or thinking blogs I follow – I do so because they are the people at grassroots level. I don’t follow the “celebrity” ones. I like to hear how people are coping with being an atheist or skeptic in their everyday life. What their thoughts are, how they cope with it in their life, and conversations they have.
    I personally don’t think that I would go around “converting” or “unconverting” someone. I don’t even try.
    But these discussions are important because of the changes we can make if we organise ourselves. If we keep discussions open – then we can encourage the way people vote & affect public policy & public life and that’s REALLY important.

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  7. Oh “M”, you….

    “the fight for rational thought seems no closer to any kind of reconciliation”

    You’re right when you say that it is never going to end. It’s not.

    “Thirdly, what does it matter what I think?”

    It’s like ripples in a pond when you drop a rock in and the ripples circle and circle, getting bigger and bigger. You will reach someone (and I’m sure you have) as the message resonates w/time. Hell dude what do you want…change (that’s sarcasm, we all want that), noticeable change now, in our lifetimes. Sheez. “We” have to hammer the message over and over, again and again. And when we do that…we’ll do it again and again (what about the newbies, someone did it for us, inspired us, right).

    “I keep rehashing the old ideas over and over…”

    Awesome, I’ll go cliche…”There is nothing new under the sun, something old something new, the classics never get old, it’s not new, if ya never heard of it”…Perhaps it is like playing guitar, or music. You practice and and practice and in the humdrum and boredom of something you have done a million times, over and over again, scale after repetitive scale (or repeating the same arguments over and over again) inspiration hits you out of nowhere…and something new appears.

    “M” have a drink (or whatever it is that you do) and I’ll see you on the interbutz tomorrow. Thanks bro. So awesome.


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  8. Hey Marty,

    I think that for the first time since you started this blog, I am going to say that I disagree with you. In response to your questions I would answer yes x 3. One voice makes a difference. Your “Open Letter to a Religious Planet” was a very good piece, I sent it to a couple of friends who in turn liked it, and agreed with me (I never knew they were non-theists also).

    As a dentist, I chose my profession to help people. Do I make a big difference in the world? No. But I make a difference ONE person at a time, and that is enough. I think you have a very good talent at writing your thoughts and expressing your views and that is not rarely seen in the “blogging” community.

    I agree that sometimes the “rational cause” seems to be losing ground. But if history has taught us anything is that things chante very slowly over time. In the period from 1990 – 2008 (According to the US Census, don’t know about Australia) the Christian denominations have decreased around 10%, and the Non-Religious have increased around 6%.

    We turn on the TV and all we see is crime and not the good that we do because, unfortunately, us humans have a knack for only hearing the bad news.

    The fact that what you write is there, in the open, means that it is bound to be found eventually, wether in one day, or one year or hell, one thousand years. And if it changes even one person, then it mattered.

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  9. The religions and other forces against reason and progress are so extraordinarily powerful because they have houses of worship in seemingly every nook and cranny in the world and a legion of anonymous foot soldiers. Being a foot soldier or a blog on the other side does enough to cancel out the effect of some religious foot soldier. It’s about a movement, not about being all powerful as individuals. If we believed in omnipotence, we wouldn’t be atheists in the first place…

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  10. I want to say thanks a lot for the job you have made in writing this blog post. I am hoping the same perfect job by you in the future also.

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  11. Marty, I agree with what everyone here has said, I love reading your blog, you are a great writer and there will always be those who disagree or nitpick everything you write, that’s just life… you ARE making a difference, i learn something new everytime i read.. we all want to change the world, but it can only happen in small steps…
    so… keep up the awesome work!! :)

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