An Atheist Retrospective
Having cleaned up a bit in my blog recently, throwing out the rubbish and the clothes that don’t fit anymore, I began digging around in my old blogs, and have rediscovered some that I think deserve a second look. Below I present some of the key statements of what I wrote in previous blogs, with comments about each blog piece thrown in afterwards, as a kind of retrospective look back over the past 2 years as an atheist blogger. Some of these are hidden away so deep under the pile of 260+ other blogs that they rarely see the light of day, it seems a pity that these blogs sit unread just because they aren’t hot off the presses. So humour me while we take I take a walk down memory lane. I hope you enjoy these blasts from the past starting with my very first post:
And you may ask yourself “Well… how did I get here?” – 14 October 2009
From the article: “I am an atheist, and this means that in order to operate on a daily basis, I make my own decisions about right and wrong, about my duties and rights, about the way i choose to act in any given situation. I am free from the need to be told by others how to operate in a caring, loving, moral and conscientious way. I know in myself what is right and wrong, and I am not swayed by the antiquated beliefs of fictitious characters to make these decisions.”
This blog is a definition of what it means to be an atheist, free from all the misconceptions people might try to lump on the term, presented in simple terms. I wrote this blog because I witnessed people characterising atheists as many things, including an apparently hatred for God, as covert Satanists, as anti-American and even as Muslims. None of these labels are true and are easily disproved, and yet the labels persist.
Home is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there – 31 October 2009
From the article: “Without perspective we wallow blindly through life, without empathy, understanding and the ability to apply knowledge. Perspective is not only about seeing the world from your own vantage point, it’s about seeing the world from other vantage points to give clarity to your own experience. Perspective is personal, and also universal.”
I see this article as a kind of homage to Carl Sagan, not only was he a great thinker, but he was able to present his ideas in such a beautifully poetic way that reading his words or listening to his voice-over on Cosmos strikes deep in the heart, stirring within us an understanding of the human predicament that few have offered since. This was one of my favourite pieces, and owes its existence to my very first reading of Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot”.
In heaven, everything is fine – 5 December 2009
From the article: “I take strength every day from the fact that I fit into the universe just so, and that the universe works in such a way to facilitate my existence. I see around me the laws of nature, the constant battle for survival that all living creatures are a part of, the thriving and dying of plants and animals. I see the daily spin of the earth, the monthly rotation of the moon, the yearly traverse around the sun. These things I can observe, these are thing I can see and verify. I take strength from knowing these tangibles, and use this knowledge daily to inform my life. These are things we can all experience, and are all directly effected by. These are the things that bind us as a species, as a part of the greater whole of nature.”
A continuation in thought on Pale Blue Dot, trying to lend a sense of perspective to where and why we are in the universe. I had just finished re-reading the entire “Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy” series by Douglas Adams in its entirety, and this is what came out when I sat down to write.
A Puff Of Logic – 28 March 2010
From the article: “By using pseudo-science, misquoting evidence and warping facts brought about by advances and discoveries in science, we are hearing ideas that, frankly, sound like they have come from the Middle Ages rather than the 21st century. Deniers of empirical information are cherrypicking ideas to suit their agendas. They use all the words that science uses, but they take gigantic “leaps-of-faith” when linking these ideas together, which in turn warps the meaning of the facts. Many people don’t ask as many questions as I do when given these pseudo-scientific “interpretations” of science, and end up believing and even preaching and spreading these wrongs.”
This article was written as a direct response to the nutbaggery of such organisations such as Creation Ministries International, who intentionally muddy the waters of progress by making false claims about the history of earth and its inhabitants. This kind of blinkeredness is one of the reasons I started blogging, as I couldn;t just sit by and shut up while these illogical ideas seemed to resonate with so many people.
An open letter to a religious planet – 28 June 2010
From the article: “Dear religious planet,
I know you are probably not reading this if you are a theist, as you are probably put off by the title. However if you do decide to read, let me tell you now. While you may not like what I write in this letter, this is not intended to be merely a chance for me to offend you and your beliefs or sensibilities. Nor is it a chance for me to ridicule anyone, or say “I am right and you are wrong.”
What I intend to do here is put forward a reasoned and rational argument from an atheistic point of the issues we face as a society, why the ways of thinking that were once seen as acceptable are now harmful, and what are the obstacles we have before us all if we wish to continue to exist on this planet.”
Just as the title suggests, this was my statement that I have had enough and that religions need to start looking at themselves more closely and critically in order for humanity to make it past these perilous times. Not my greatest work, but something I still hold to. I also wrote a follow up here.
Scared of Death – 29 July 2010
From the article: “I know that I come from the universe, I am a part of the universe and will return to the earth, decomposing to become nothing more than the chemicals and compounds of which my body consists. My brain will cease to function as the electrical impulses that make me “tick” slow down and stop, and I will only live on in the memories of other people and any legacy I may leave behind. All this is documented, and repeatable. In fact it repeats often and daily, and once for every person (and animal) who has ever lived before. All the matter from which we are composed has been spewed out of great stars, and recycled over and over again over billions of years. Why would this this be different for a human over an ant, or an asteroid, or a star?”
Religion holds power over people because it claims to know the answers to what happens to a human after we die. They don;t know the answers, and neither do I, but I never claimed to know. That is the difference between thinking rationally and intentionally misguiding people into false beliefs and claims of knowledge.
Science is irreconcilable with religion – 4 October 2010
From the article: “Scientific inquiry is based on measuring interactions and outcomes from observable and repeatable phenomena, based on established empirical principles and existing theories. Outcomes are then observed, tested and compared to create a hypothesis. Scientific method also allows for the falsification of any established hypothesis if information or data arises which is counter to the hypothesis being presented. It is constantly evolving and changing, and if the evidence is great enough, then an agreement is struck among the science community.
Theological inquiry, if it happens at all, is based on interpretations of texts written by men during times when little was understood about the world and the universe. Theological discourse about “what the texts really mean” as opposed to what they say makes up a great deal of the discourse between theologians. Those who go beyond the religious texts tend to talk in vague ways around metaphysical ideas, claiming there must be something more, although ideas like soul have never been observed.”
Just by the very nature, and as illustrated in the passage above, science and religion can never be bedfellows, unless it’s science trying to discover why religion exists, or religion seeing how science corrodes faith in the Divine.
There are many other articles on this blog, so I suggest if you liked these tastes from past blogs, that you also dig around in the archives. Just because something is brand-spanking doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Thanks for indulging me with this piece.