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Religion - Atheism


 

Atheism

Authors

My universe

Popular culture

Memes

The Future

Atheist arguments

1900

Religions

Scepticism

Science and Religion


Atheism page

I don't believe in the existence of God or gods, devils or Satan, angels, demons, or heaven or hell. These things are only inventions of our imaginations, and do not exist in reality.

I don't believe in human souls or spirits, or life after death. I don't believe in the existence of any kind of spiritual world or supernatural world. These are all inventions of the human imagination and have no basis in reality.

Well, fair enough. But so what, you might ask. Such atheistic beliefs are quite commonplace among educated, scientifically-literate people in the West. So why have a web page about it?

  1. Well, firstly I grew up in an environment in which you had to explain why you did not believe in the supernatural. Hence this page as an explanation. In particular, it is an explanation for those who knew me before age 17. Because I was religious before age 17. Like many young people, I was interested in the origin and nature of the universe, an interest which led naturally, at least initially, to religion. When I was 17 I finally read the counter-arguments, and became an unbeliever. But both before and after age 17, I had nothing in common with those (probably the majority of society) who believe it doesn't matter.

  2. So the second reason for this page is because, to a large extent, I remain interested in things I don't believe in (religions, New Age beliefs, Socialism, and others I deal with on my Scepticism page) - because I am interested in the process of constructing an argument from limited and conflicting evidence. Every hypothesis deserves its day in court, and should be picked over and debated endlessly. Silence or censorship have no place in rational discourse.

  3. And finally, perhaps for a political reason. Religion has caused as much grief (and maybe more) to humanity than any benefits it has brought. If people were a little less confident in their beliefs, and troubled by counter-arguments and doubts about their faith, then we may get the love from them without the hate, and the world will be a safer place.

Atheist or agnostic?

I am an atheist - I do not believe that God exists.

I am not an agnostic, because that is a stronger claim than atheism. It says that there is something special about the God idea that one has to be agnostic on it, whereas one does not have to be agnostic, say, about Father Christmas. Whether this is true or not, it is certainly a stronger claim than atheism, which simply says that the God idea lacks sufficient evidence. Agnostics are not more "open-minded". Agnosticism requires more faith than atheism, not less.




Found here.




Atheism


Atheist groups in UK and Ireland




Atheism - Arguments (separate page)




Authors




Very funny.
From here.




Miscellaneous



My universe

It is interesting to list the vast number of concepts that other people believe are real but that I believe are imaginary:

  1. I don't believe in a creator or act of creation. There is no evidence that the universe was made or created by anybody.
  2. I don't believe in any of the miracles or supernatural events described in the Old or New Testament. These are just stories.
  3. I don't believe that any successful prophecies have ever occurred in human history.
  4. I don't believe that any miraculous cures have ever taken place in all of history.
  5. I don't believe in magic, ghosts, possession, witches, wizards, spells, signs, visions, or any supernatural or spiritual events, world, or beings. None of these things exist.
  6. I don't believe that any prayer has ever been answered in all of history.
  7. I don't believe that any god has ever spoken to humanity through any medium in all of history.
  8. I don't believe that such a thing as a first human existed, nor do I believe in original sin. I don't believe in the Garden of Eden, the Fall of Man, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, or the Exodus. These are just stories.
  9. I don't believe in the divinity of Christ. He was just a man like me. He never said anything that any ordinary man at the time could not have said.
  10. I don't believe in the virgin birth, the immaculate conception, the Ascension, the Assumption, the resurrection, or any of Christ's alleged miracles. All of these things are just stories, inventions of the human imagination. None of these things actually happened in reality.


Personal experience




Popular culture

The norm in popular culture is to attack religion in a safe, tame, stupid or adolescent way. But some attacks are more philosophical and intelligent.



Monty Python




How religions (like Christianity, Islam, Scientology or Mormonism) start.
Not by well-debated evidence and reason.
But rather by group emotion, tall stories, wishful thinking, misunderstanding and rumour. Lots of simple, naive, unsceptical people in search of something new to believe in.
This is the juniper bushes scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian.
Also here.



All Things Dull and Ugly by Monty Python (1980) exposes the simple-headedness of the Argument from Design.



Decomposing Composers by Monty Python (1980) is about the only honest song I can think of that has ever been written about death.




Watson Heston

The late 19th century cartoonist Watson Heston produced a comically illustrated Bible by a nonbeliever. The humour is old-fashioned and often does not work, but it is just amazing that such a thing existed in the 19th century.


"The graveyard of the gods", 19th century cartoon by Watson Heston
"Slumber on, dead gods, in your eternal sleep! You were created from the minds of men, and bear the imprint of the finite."
From Greg Erwin (died 1998).




How religions start: The Last Temptation of Christ




How religions start.
"You're a liar! I'm Jesus of Nazareth. .. I never came back from the dead. I'm a man like everyone else. Why are you spreading these lies?"
Jesus confronts Paul in The Last Temptation of Christ.




Memes

Since religions persist not because they are true, but because they are good at persisting, the best way to describe them is as successful memes.



Richard Dawkins



Islam as a meme

Memetics provides the best (really the only) explanation of why a billion people believe in Islam, for example. It is a successful meme, ruthlessly brilliant at persisting.




Religious beliefs are distributed geographically.
Few people make an objective decision about what religion to follow.
Rather, all over the world, people tend to follow the religion their parents followed.
This map shows how religions are memes.
See full size. From World Religions by Warren Matthews.



Richard Dawkins, "If Science Worked Like Religion", shows how absurd it is that religious beliefs are distributed geographically.
He imagines if scientific beliefs were inherited from parents and distributed geographically: "We all take [the geographic distribution of religion] for granted. It seems entirely natural that people's opinions about the cosmos, about morality, about humanity should depend upon the accident of geography where they happen to have been born. Suppose scientists worked like that. ... The President of the Royal Society has been vouchsafed a strong inner conviction that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. It has been privately revealed to Prof Huxdane that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. ... Prof Hallux derives deep personal comfort from his belief that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. The President of the National Academy of Sciences has issued a fatwa against all who deny that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs."
Only viewing religions as self-replicating memes, rather than logical conclusions based on the evidence, can explain the fact that they are distributed geographically.





Religions (separate page)




Scepticism (separate page)




Science and Religion (separate page)




The Future


Science




Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot.
See text here and here.



Preserving life on earth


Discovering life elsewhere



Spreading life through the universe




Earth seen from 4 billion miles away (40 AU, 6 light hours, as far away as Pluto).
Photo by Voyager 1, 1990.
This is called the "Pale Blue Dot" photo.
Voyager 1 is now 10 billion miles away (100 AU, 14 light hours, beyond the Kuiper belt).




"I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth - that we always make it just for the skin of our teeth - but that we will always make it, survive, endure. I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized braincase and the opposable thumb - this animal barely up from the apes - will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets - to the stars and beyond - carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage, and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart."
- Short essay "Our Noble, Essential Decency" written by Robert A. Heinlein for the This I Believe show in 1952.




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Banned in Iran: This site is banned in Iran.

Blocked on Twitter: I am blocked on Twitter by George Galloway MP and Owen Jones and Mo Ansar and Charles Johnson and Frankie Boyle and Carlos Latuff and CAGE and Alaa Abd El Fattah and Aziz Poonawalla and Andy Kindler and Ali Abunimah and Stanley Cohen and Mubin Shaikh and David Sheen and Mick Wallace TD and Cllr. Paul Donnelly and Cllr. Enda Fanning and Mary Fitzgerald and Frank McDonald and Donal O'Keeffe and Joanna Kiernan and Rachel Lynch and Allan Cavanagh and Umar Al-Qadri. What a shower. Islamists and Islamic right-wing conservatives. And their western leftist enablers and fellow-travellers.

Who I block: I will debate almost anyone. I love ideas. I will not debate (and will block) people who do the following: (a) Make threats. (b) Accuse me of crimes. (c) Comment on my appearance. (d) Drag in stuff about me not related to the topic. (My professional career, my personal life.) (e) Complain to my employer. Yes, people do all these things.