Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, July 30, 2012

"How does an atheist find meaning and purpose in life?"

Dale McGowan is working on Atheist for Dummies, and he's soliciting our input. Not sure "Atheist Dummies" is a club I want to be a member of, but it's nice to be solicited. Anyway, share your thoughts:
Concise comments only, please. Give me only your best thought whittled down to a tiny, singing sentence or three. Just a link is great too, but please include a brief summary of where it’s going. Also, please try not to get into extended discussions. It’s OK to build on someone else’s comment, but don’t feel the need to convince, rebut, or dissuade.
Here’s the first question:
How does an atheist find meaning and purpose in life?
...This is an unmissable opportunity to plumb our collective mind — I’m looking forward to hearing from you." Reply here: The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Friday, July 27, 2012

Heaven, but not really

"Just as Einstein’s use of “God” to mean “no, not really God” confuses people into thinking he’s a theist (see how I’m stuck in present tense??), so Chinese philosophy is obsessively focused for centuries on t’ien or tian, which translates loosely as “heaven,” but really means “no, not really heaven.” Nothing to do with a place for human souls after death. Instead, t’ien means “that which causes the world to be as it is.” Theistic philosophers use it to mean a god or spirit realm, while the nontheists use the same word to mean natural, physical law."

The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

In Fred We Trust

Dawkins on Grayling on Behe... "There is a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University in the United States called Michael J Behe, darling of the Creationists, who says that biological structures are 'irreducibly complex' and their existence can therefore only be explained by invoking a divine designer.  This absurd argument, which alleges a mystery (the existence of complex biological structures) and claims to solve it by introducing an arbitrary and even greater mystery (the existence of a deity), has exactly the same logical force of saying that the shapes of clouds are designed by Fred... 

Against All Gods - Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net

Thanks, Dean.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Hard Week Not to Be Disgusted with Religion

As a resident of Colorado, I have watched my state struggle through one of the worst summers we’ve ever known in our lifetimes, and for most of us who live here, it can’t come to an end soon enough. From horrific natural disasters to the unspeakable shootings in Aurora that claimed twelve lives mere days ago, we have literally been walking through the fire. And because our tribulations have been national news, everyone with an opinion has felt the need to weigh in.
It’s really difficult to write about this without 1) crying in fury and disgust, 2) wanting to take a sledgehammer to my own belongings just to work out the anger, and 3) wanting to beat some of these “opinionators” senseless with a baseball bat. I know you’re not supposed to answer violence with violence, but when you have people “lending their perspective,” who are so callous, so malicious, so arrogant, and so evil in their words, it’s kind of hard not to feel that way, because they’re not here, yet they feel as if their pontificating and insulting commentary should somehow bear weight on our situation. More...

More friendly atheism in our back yard

"Bob Smietana‘s article in today’s edition of The Tennessean tackles two big issues for atheism-at-large: Is Secular Humanism a religion? And can atheists achieve any type of political power? (My answers: No… and not anytime soon, but we have to try.)"

Can Atheists Become a Political Force in Tennessee?

Diverse voices seek receptive ears

"Good w/out God" is easy. How about "Civil..." too?

@HemantMehta, The Friendly Atheist:
"It’s true that atheists are alike only in the fact that we don’t believe in God, but one would hope more of us would treat each other with respect when we disagree. It’s not enough, it seems, to use reason and logic to pick apart another person’s argument. We also have to resort to name-calling or imply that the person is a traitor to our cause. I’ve heard atheist “firebrands” say that they support having more diverse voices in the conversation only to throw those attempting an alternative approach under the bus. Forget any potential merits to the alternatives; the battle is won only when you’ve made yourself feel superior."
Council for Secular Humanism

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Suck at Your Religion

How to Suck at Your Religion or Why Religion Sucks

Christian Dominionism

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein is the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. In this article, he takes a good look at the extremist rhetoric of evangelical Christian fundamentalism and their quest for Dominion, which seems to be the exact hidden agenda underlying the protests of the Murfreesboro mosque.

These Christians are projecting their very own motives on the "other" and attacking Muslims for the very thing they wish for themselves. From their own bronze-age book: by their fruits...

As an atheist, secularist, humanist, pluralist and an egalitarian, I'm glad the Muslims won their case.

Lots of good links and resources. Enjoy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shep­herds of Salvation

I would ask the same of any other
If they stood by and watched the help­less die.
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

There are those who help their fel­low brother;
They do what’s right and never bat an eye.
I would ask the same of any other.

Some will pray and wait, then there’s Another—
Long­ing for a man­sion in the sky.
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

Should they pray to rid the world of hunger
Or bet­ter lift a hand to feed a child?
I would ask the same of any other.

What are we to tell the bro­ken mother
Whose hun­gry child lies down to sleep at night?
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

All in all we really have to won­der—
Could it be that God is just a Lie?
I would ask the same of any other.
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

— Dean Hall

Growing the Secular Community

"Some people assert that atheism means nothing more than "lacking belief in gods", and that we shouldn't try to make it anything more than that. And on a purely lexicographic level, I agree. Anyone who lacks belief in gods is an atheist, no matter what I may think of their personal or political views on other subjects. But if we're going to build an atheist community - that is to say, an organized movement whose members can support each other, motivate each other, work together to lobby politicians, and cooperate to improve atheism's public reputation - then we have to have a little more in common than just that bare foundation of godlessness.

...the success of atheism is inextricably tied with the success of progressivism and social justice. The most effective way yet discovered to weaken the influence of anti-intellectual fundamentalism is to create a more prosperous, more egalitarian society where the illusory comforts of religion have less appeal. The conservative-libertarian worldview, which treats high levels of inequality and economic instability as a feature and not a bug, will thus never be able to banish the specter of superstition. This is a self-contradiction that I believe atheists who hold to this worldview have never fully faced up to."

Growing the Secular Community | Daylight Atheism | Big Think

A poem about the meaning of life

The Atheist Pig

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Why Aren’t Atheist Parents Raising Atheist Children?" Well, duh

"We’re not Catholics. We don’t have Sunday schools. We don’t indoctrinate our kids “into atheism” from a young age. We don’t have “traditions” to follow. Atheism isn’t attached to any particular cultural identity. Many atheists parents, I gather, encourage their children to think for themselves and not believe in something just because their parents believe it.

We don’t “raise our children as atheists” because that’s forcing our beliefs onto them — and that’s not something many of us want to do.

But damn near every atheist I’ve ever met became an atheist despite his/her parents’ attempts to raise them in a particular religion..." Hemant Mehta, Why Aren’t Atheist Parents Raising Atheist Children?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Minor League Baseball Promotion for Atheists

The St. Paul Saints are holding a No-Faith Night. Are you paying attention, @nashvillesounds?
"Our banners will hang in the stadium and we will rename the team the “Mr. Paul Aints.” The team will wear Mr. Paul Aints jerseys during the game, which will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for us. You may also order in advance a custom Mr. Paul Aints jersey with your name and a number on the back for $69…
The letter “S” will be covered up on the word “Saints” throughout the ballpark and we’ll have an information/greeting table at the main entrance. American Atheists president Dave Silverman will throw out the first ceremonial pitch of the game. After the game there will be a fireworks display."
In a Minor League Baseball Promotion for Atheists, St. Paul Saints Will Become Mr. Paul Aints

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The philosophy of "No"

But no's never enough, we need a "Yes" too. Several, in fact, and that's just what we've got. 

Yes, we will be heard. Yes, we believe in something larger than our solitary selves. Yes, we're good without god. Yes, we've got "spirit." Yes yes yes...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Atheists to launch Tennessee lobbying group

"A national atheist group plans to organize a lobbying group in Tennessee to advocate for stronger separation of church and state.

The Washington, D.C.-based Secular Coalition for America announced plans Tuesday to set up a local chapter aimed at giving local atheists more political clout.

It’s part of an effort to organize coalition chapters in all 50 states.

“There are 40 million Americans who don’t identify with any religion, but our political influence has been limited because we have not been organized,” said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the coalition, in an email Monday. “This year, that changes...”

The Secular Coalition for America will hold an organizational meeting for a local chapter by conference call at 2 p.m. Tuesday. To take part, call 530-881-1400 and use the access code of 978895

Atheists to launch Tennessee lobbying group | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Creeping scepticism

Compelling small people to listen...

Jesus and Mo

Carl's biggest question

He read "Who Speaks for Man?" and later asked "Who Speaks for Earth?" His ultimate question, of course, was always about who else than us might ever speak for the cosmos?
...continues at Delight Springs

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hitch at the gates

"He has a list of demands. First up, he wants you to stop poisoning everything..."

Hitch on Orwell, & the complete Hitch archive in Vanity Fair: http://t.co/ScY2Gcnf

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Spiritual" and an atheist too

As we made our way to the Orlando airport the other day, Pat Tillman's widow was on the radio. (He was the football star who gave it all up to go and fight the good fight against terror, only to be felled by "friendly fire.")

She was asked about his reported atheism, but could not bring herself to confirm it. "He was a very spiritual person," that's all.

It'll be a noteworthy mark of  progress towards spiritual sophistication in this culture when even an apparent theist like the former Ms. Tillman can finally, comfortably affirm: Yes, he was a very spiritual person. And yes, he was an atheist as well.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Scopes roadtrip next year

Rachel Held Evans, who lives in Dayton, TN, tweeted yesterday that the annual Scopes re-enactment was going to be discontinued. That would be disappointing. I almost got down there summer before last but had to scrub the trip at the last moment.

But apparently the report was in error. A Bryan college rep says
"We are planning to present the Scopes Festival again in 2013 (July 19-20) and at that time premiere the new play."
Alright, roadtrippers, mark your calendars.