Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, August 24, 2012

A rose by another name

"There is a great deal of overlap between humanism and Atheism Plus. They are very similar ideas, very similar visions. There is great value in both. I suspect that many people will call themselves both, and I look forward to the two movements working in alliance for many years to come. But I don’t think they’re the same. And I think it’s reasonable for some people to identify primarily as one, and some primarily as the other."

Humanism Is Great — But It’s Not Atheism Plus | Greta Christina's Blog

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Youth & diversity among the godless

"avowed atheists are still a tiny sliver of the population. But people with no religious affiliation are the country’s fastest-growing religious category. When asked about religious affiliation in a Pew poll published this summer, nearly 20 percent of Americans chose “none,” the highest number the center has recorded. Many of those people would not call themselves atheists; “agnostic,” which technically refers to people who believe that the existence of a higher being can’t be known by the human mind, remains the safer option. The godless are now younger and more diverse than in the past, with blacks and Hispanics — once vanishingly rare — starting to appear in the ranks of national groups like the United Coalition of Reason and the Secular Student Alliance.

The movement has also begun cultivating a new breed of guru..."

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader - NYTimes.com

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Why Are Atheists So Angry?"

Is it because they're selfish, joyless, lacking in meaning, and alienated from God? Or is it because they have legitimate reasons to be angry - and are ready to do something about it? Armed with passionate outrage, absurdist humor, and calm intelligence, popular blogger Greta Christina makes a powerful case for outspoken atheist activism, and explains the empathy and justice that drive it. This accessible, personal, down-to-earth book speaks not only to atheists, but also to believers who want to understand the so-called new atheism.
Why Are You Atheists So Angry? drops a bombshell on the destructive force of religious faith - and gives a voice to millions of angry atheists.
Why Are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless Audio Book | Greta Christina | Download Why Are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan on Rand's atheism

"It’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”

More recently, however, Ryan distanced himself from Rand, whose atheism is something of a philosophical wedge issue on the right, dividing religious conservatives from free-market libertarians. This year, with his political profile rising, Ryan stressed not only that he had differences with Rand’s atheism—a point he had made as far back as 2003—but went so far as to denounce her whole system of beliefs, describing his early attraction to her writing as little more than a youthful dalliance. He admitted that he had “enjoyed her novels,” but, as Mak notes, he stressed that, “I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. "

Paul Ryan and the Influence of Ayn Rand : The New Yorker

Hitch: Make Mitt Answer

"The Mormons claim that their leadership is prophetic and inspired and that its rulings take precedence over any human law. The constitutional implications of this are too obvious to need spelling out, but it would be good to see Romney spell them out all the same.

So phooey, say I, to the false reticence of the press and to the bogus sensitivities that underlie it. This extends even to the less important matters. If candidates can be asked to declare their preference as between briefs and boxers, then we already have a precedent, and Romney can be asked whether, as a true believer should, he wears Mormon underwear. What's un-American about that? The bottom line is that Romney should expect to be asked these very important questions, and we should expect him not to obfuscate and whine anymore but to give clear and unambiguous answers to them."

Mitt Romney needs to answer questions about his Mormon faith. - Slate Magazine

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

AHA! moments

1. What was the first realization that got you questioning religious assumptions?

2. What was the biggest AHA! moment on your path to atheism?

3. What are some of the myths you’ve heard about why atheists are atheists? Reply here.

(Please share this widely. The more input the better.)"

The Meming of Life » Q: AHA! moments Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Letting Go

Speaking, as Dale McGowan (@memingoflife) was, of Julia Sweeney's "brilliant ending"...

Richard Dawkins wrote, "Certainly those unborn ghosts include poets greater than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. And in the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."
I suddenly felt very deeply that I was alive: Alive with my own particular thoughts, with my own particular story, in this itty-bitty splash of time. And in that splash of time, I get to think about things and do stuff and wonder about the world and love people, and drink my coffee if I want to. And then that's it...
...I hope I can teach my daughter that true mystery is all around her.
Because you know, the Church has it all backwards when it comes to mystery. In fact, it trivializes the very thing it claims to represent: the awe-inspiring grandeur of true, deep mystery. We live on a planet, spinning about in a wondrous universe without any apparent purpose. And the mystery of why there is something rather than nothing is a question we may never know the answer to. Letting Go of God
But, our time has not yet expired.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Another "Dummies" question

Dale McGowan's still soliciting:
"Once you decide God does not exist, the tendency is to go back and ask all those old questions in a new light (like the brilliant ending of Letting Go of God). Then once that process is done, the newly-minted atheist begins to ask some entirely new questions — things that didn’t even occur to him or her to ask while a believer.
My question for you: What are some NEW questions you asked once you began to identify as an atheist?"
The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

The ultimate question, left a little vague

It has been said that the question Why is there something rather than nothing? is so profound that it would occur only to a metaphysician, yet so simple that it would occur only to a child. I was too young then to be a metaphysician. But why had I missed the question as a child? In retrospect, the answer was obvious. My natural metaphysical curiosity had been stifled by my religious upbringing. From my earliest childhood I had been told—by my mother and father, by the nuns who taught me in elementary school, by the Franciscan monks at the monastery over the hill from where we lived—that God created the world, and that He created it out of nothing at all. That's why the world existed. That's why I existed. As to why God himself existed, this was left a little vague. Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story - Jim Holt - Google Books

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Boobs" perhaps, but...

Winterton Curtis, Damned Yankee prof from my alma mater and avuncular personal hero, in Dayton, 1925:
"Reporters were present in such numbers that I could well believe the statement they numbered more than 200 and that never before had there been so many reporters present at any trial.  Notable among them was H. L. Mencken, who had made himself so odious to the orthodox by his scathing criticisms of the Fundamentalist Crusade and its Crusaders.  As no seats were reserved for the expert witnesses we sat in the press chairs.  Many times I sat next to Mencken.  He resisted my attempts at conversation, but I got the flavor of the man from listening to his talk with other reporters. 
The courtroom audience impressed me as honest country folk in jeans and calico.  “Boobs" perhaps, as judged by Mencken, and holding all the prejudices of backwoods Christian orthodoxy, but nevertheless a significant section of the backbone of democracy in the U.S.A.  They came to see their idol “the Great Commoner” and champion of the people meet the challenge to their faith.  They left bewildered but with their beliefs unchanged despite the manhandling of their idol by the “Infidel” from Chicago...." Impressions of the Scopes Trial by W. C. Curtis, Defense Expert
He and the other scientific witnesses never made it to the stand. But Curtis's 1922 book Science and Human Affairs from the Viewpoint of Biology had already given eloquent testimony to the humane core of the evolutionary perspective. It was the Demon-haunted World of its day, and he was a Saganesque figure: lighting candles of reason rather than cursing the darkness or belittling Mencken's booboisie.