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Austin Cline

Austin's Atheism Blog

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Godless Politics: A Political Manifesto for Godless Atheists

Friday May 30, 2014
America's Christian Right complains often about godless liberals and godless liberalism, presuming that neither politics nor law can be pursued without a basis in a monotheistic religion - preferably Christianity or Judaism. This is incorrect. Not only is there nothing contradictory about pursuing politics and law from a godless perspective, but the results are not obviously worse, less moral, or less humane than the alternatives. Indeed, it's possible to argue that godlessness has advantages.

Read Article: A Political Manifesto for Godless Atheists

Does Strong Atheism Imply or Require Certainty?

Thursday May 29, 2014

It is not true that strong atheism in any way implies or depends upon certainty. A strong atheist who asserts that no gods exist is not simultaneously asserting that they are certain that no gods exist. No other existential or empirical claims imply absolute certainty, so why should anyone think that the claim of strong atheism implies absolute certainty? This is not to say that a strong atheist couldn't also claim to be certain; merely that it's not inherent.

Read Article: Does Strong Atheism Imply / Require Certainty?

Philosophy of Religion: Karl Marx's Analysis of Religion

Wednesday May 28, 2014
According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, "The religious world is but the reflex of the real world."

 

Read Article: Karl Marx's Analysis of Religion

Was God Pleased or Displeased with Creation?

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Genesis has inconsistent depictions of how God feels about his creation -- the earth and its inhabitants. Immediately after creation, Genesis says that God was pleased with his work. Later on, though, Genesis says that God displeased -- so displeased, in fact, that God regrets creating at all and attempts to kill everyone. So was God pleased or displeased with his handiwork?

Read Article: Was God Pleased or Displeased with Creation? Bible is Inconsistent on God's Reaction to Creation

Flaws in Reasoning: Pedantry - Details at the Expense of Substance

Monday May 26, 2014
Very often, debates become embroiled over what appear to be very minor issues. Sometimes this may be appropriate and sometimes it may not - when it is not, there is a strong possibility that no further productivity will occur in the discussion. When someone moves a discussion into an inappropriate and unproductive focus on minor issues, he can be accused of pedantry.

 

Read Article: Pedantry - Details at the Expense of Substance

Abortion Rights, Privacy, Sexual Autonomy: Christian Right is Wrong on Abortion

Sunday May 25, 2014
Americans' right to abortion is founded upon a more fundamental right to privacy -- particularly when it comes to matters involving marriage, children, and sexuality. The Christian Right never fully accepted privacy rights, especially where sex was concerned, and abortion gives them a stronger reason to fight it. They are on the wrong side of this argument, though, because eliminating privacy rights - including those dealing with sex - would undermine much of what America takes for granted.

 

Read Article: Abortion Rights, Privacy, Sexual Autonomy: Christian Right is Wrong on Abortion

Humanist Metaphysics: Humanism & the Universe

Saturday May 24, 2014
Many of the basic questions in metaphysics are centered around the reality we exist in - or, more specifically, the universe we exist in. What is it, why does it exist, and what fundamental nature does it have? The humanistic view of the universe is fundamentally naturalistic.

 

Read Article: Humanism & the Universe

Godless Living in America: What Can the Godless Do in a Religious Society?

Friday May 23, 2014
Godless Americans are like other people in America: they grow up, date, get married, raise children, celebrate holidays, and all the other things which religious theists do. Godless Americans simply do it without the structures provided by religion or theism. For many religious theists, this may seem impossible; for godless Americans, it's normal life. Some can experience difficulty, though, because so much of American society is set up to privilege religious beliefs and religious behavior.

 

Read Article: Godless Living in America: What Can the Godless Do in a Religious Society?

How Moderate Should Atheists Be? How Should Atheists Be Less Extreme?

Thursday May 22, 2014
Many religious theists would like atheists to be more 'moderate' in their criticisms of religion, religious beliefs, and theism. They contend that atheists are too intolerant of religion and should show more respect to religious beliefs. There are good reasons to dispute how religious theists use the terms "tolerance" and "respect" in these contexts and one way this can be demonstrated is by asking just what sort of "moderation" they expect atheists to demonstrate.

 

Read Article: How Moderate Should Atheists Be? How Should Atheists Be Less Extreme?

Life is Material, not Supernatural: We Are Material, Natural Beings

Wednesday May 21, 2014
Most religions say that life is much more than the flesh and matter we see around us. In addition, there is supposed to be some sort of spiritual or supernatural realm behind it all and that our "true selves" is spiritual, not material. All evidence, though, points to life being a purely natural phenomenon. All evidence indicates that who we really are -- our selves -- is material and dependent upon the workings of the brain. If this is so, religious and theistic doctrines are wrong.

 

Read Article: Life is Material, not Supernatural: We Are Material, Natural Beings

Don't Vote for Bigots! Why Atheists Shouldn't Vote for Anti-Atheist Bigots

Tuesday May 20, 2014
You can't simply assume that someone who is politically and religiously liberal doesn't share the anti-atheist bigotry which is so common in America. Granted, such bigotry is perhaps less common among liberals than among conservatives, but it's easy to find liberal Christians who are so full of self-righteous feelings of superiority that they dismiss atheists as having anything worth saying or contributing. This matters a lot when it comes to political elections: don't vote for anti-atheist bigots or for candidates who tacitly accept such bigotry. It's better to not vote than to actively support people who hate you.

Read Article: Don't Vote for Bigots! Why Atheists Shouldn't Vote for Anti-Atheist Bigots

Which is Better, Atheism or Theism? Why Should Anyone Consider Atheism?

Monday May 19, 2014
Given how atheism and theism are mutually exclusive, and how atheists and theists debate so much, it may seem natural to wonder which of the two is "better." This is a difficult question to answer because "better" is ambiguous. Does this ask which is more useful, which is more comforting, which is more likely true, etc.? Since the question likely comes from theists, though, perhaps it's meant to ask whether atheism has anything to offer them. Shouldn't they ask if atheism is more reasonable?

 

Read Article: Which is Better, Atheism or Theism? Why Should Anyone Consider Atheism?

Evolution Basics: Freiler v. Tangipahoa (1999)

Sunday May 18, 2014
In an effort not to offend religious families who object to the teaching of evolution, is it permissible for schools to insist that a "disclaimer" be read to the class and/or placed in science texts, explaining that evolution is only a theory and that it should not be perceived as a challenge to traditional religious beliefs? In this decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a disclaimer to be read before teaching about evolution ultimately had the effect of furthering religious interests and was therefore unconstitutional.

 

Read Article: Freiler v. Tangipahoa (1999)

Church & State Fundamentals: Modern Resurrection of Sabbath Laws

Saturday May 17, 2014
The idea of legally enforcing a "day of rest" has lain somewhat dormant until recent years, but lately the cat-calls from the choir have begun increasing in volume. In Massachusetts, the state's Council of Churches has initiated a campaign to pressure various governments, schools, businesses, and civic groups to "respect" the "religious tradition of our churches" when scheduling their activities. It's not necessary to respect or consider any other traditions, evidently - just the religious traditions of the dominant forms of Christianity. And, of course, churches won't need to bother respecting anyone's traditions or needs when scheduling their activities.

 

Read Article: Modern Resurrection of Sabbath Laws

Zombie Jesus: Only the Living Dead Can Give You Eternal Life

Friday May 16, 2014
Zombie Jesus: Only the Living Dead Can Give You Eternal Life
Photo © istockphoto/Birgitte Magnus
Poster © Austin Cline

If Jesus died and was buried, but rose from the grave after three days, does that mean Jesus was an Original Zombie (OZ)? New Testament accounts describe him as having wounds you could stick your hands in, something that you can't normally do to living people, but dead people also aren't walking around. There are no stories about Jesus eating people's brains, but we can hardly expect his followers to draw attention to such behavior. Communion is about eating Jesus, not the other way around.

 

Read Article: Zombie Jesus: Only the Living Dead Can Give You Eternal Life

Myth: Isn't Atheism Too Much of a Risk? Isn't it Safer to Bet on God & Christianity?

Thursday May 15, 2014
This question, which is really just a simplified version of Pascal's Wager, is one of the most popular questions which religious theists - particularly Christians - pose to atheists. It must sound very appealing, reasonable, and rational to them, otherwise atheists wouldn't have to hear it so often. Unfortunately, Christians who use this reveal that they haven't done their homework because there are a number of very obvious and easy objections to this which they seem completely unaware of.

 

Read Article: Myth: Isn't Atheism Too Much of a Risk? Isn't it Safer to Bet on God & Christianity?

Church & State Fundamentals: The Politics of Public Religion

Wednesday May 14, 2014
To what extent is it legitimate to use religion as a basis for political decisions on public policy? Many people believe that such a use of religion ultimately results in violations of the separation of church state, and thus other people's religious liberty. Many religious believers, however, argue that it is wrong to exclude religion from public debates and that such a policy effectively constitutes discrimination against religion and religious believers. Who is right?

 

Read Article: The Politics of Public Religion

Bias and Vested Interest: Interpreting Facts Unreasonably

Tuesday May 13, 2014
An important thing to watch for in arguments -- both our own and those offered by others -- is the influence of bias or vested interest. Both are variations on the same sort of problem, although there are differences that require mentioning each separately. Bias occurs any time that facts are interpreted in a way that unreasonably favors one position over another; vested interest is a cause of bias in which one will personally and specifically benefit if people adopt a particular position.

 

Read Article: Bias and Vested Interest: Interpreting Facts Unreasonably

What is Weak Atheism? What is a Weak Atheist?

Monday May 12, 2014

Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general definition of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods. A weak atheist is thus defined as someone who is not a theist and who does not believe in the existence of any gods -- no more, no less.

Read Article: What is Weak Atheism? What is a Weak Atheist?

Humanist History: Deism & Humanism

Sunday May 11, 2014
Deism is not generally thought of as a type of humanism, but it did play an important role in the development of humanist thinking in Europe. For deists, the universe was believed to be rational and ordered because that is how God wanted it to be; God, in turn, is also a rational being with rational desires, rational goals, and rational methods which are understandable through human reason. It is perhaps obvious why such a god would be appealing to Enlightenment rationalists.

 

Read Article: Deism & Humanism

Propaganda Poster: God is a Republican & Conservative

Saturday May 10, 2014
God is a Republican & Conservative: If You Love God, You Must Be Conservative and Vote Republican, God's Own Party
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: Nazi Propaganda
It's interesting, and more than a little bit disturbing, just how often conseravtives and Republicans claim that God is on their side politically -- that their policies, their politics, their agenda, and even their political party are specifically favored by God. Many people recognize it as a sign of extreme arrogance and hubris to imagine that God is taking one's side in the political realm. This tactic is much more, and much worse, than mere hubris though. It is also an attempt to undermine the democratic process itself.

 

Read Article: God is a Republican & Conservative: If You Love God, You Must Be Conservative and Vote Republican, God's Own Party

Excusing Anti-Atheist Bigotry: Atheists are Totalitarian for Opposing Majority Votes

Friday May 9, 2014
Atheists are not just closely associated with church/state cases generally, but specifically with those which deny the government authority in religious matters. Because government efforts to assume such authority are frequently driven by popular demand, especially in local matters, atheists are thus associated with opposing democratically expressed wishes of the voters. This does not make atheists totalitarian, though, because it's not totalitarian to restrict the scope of government power.

 

Read Article: Anti-Atheist Bigotry: Atheists are Totalitarian for Opposing Majority Votes

Holy Foreskin! Whatever Happened to Jesus' Foreskin?

Thursday May 8, 2014
The power and popularity of relics in Medieval Europe was dependent upon the saintliness of the original "owner." The ultimate source of relics was Jesus himself, but there was just one problem: it is clear in the New Testament that after his resurrection, Jesus was "carried up to Heaven" - but not all of him. Jesus was a faithful Jew would have been circumcised. So where was his foreskin?

 

Read Article: Holy Foreskin! Whatever Happened to Jesus' Foreskin?

Evolution Basics: LeVake v. Independent School District (2001)

Wednesday May 7, 2014
How much authority do school districts have over the material taught in public school classes? It has been established that they cannot ban the teaching of evolution for religious reasons, but can they legitimately exclude as teachers those people who might dilute the teaching of evolution because of their religious convictions? Some have argued that such an exclusion would infringe upon both free speech and free exercise of religion. In this decision, a federal district court ruled that a school may remove a teacher from teaching a biology class when that teacher, a creationist, cannot adequately teach evolution.

 

Read Article: LeVake v. Independent School District (2001)

Myth: Atheists and the Atheistic World View Don't Allow for Forgiveness

Tuesday May 6, 2014
I've encountered many different and unusual myths about atheists and atheism, most of which depend upon making assumptions about atheists without paying attention to who they are or what they do. This myth, however, may be the most absurd and ridiculous of them all. I'd concede that at least some myths have some tiny bit of misrepresented truth to rely upon, but this myth has absolutely nothing whatsoever to back it up.

 

Read Article:Myth: Atheists and the Atheistic World View Don't Allow for Forgiveness

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