Thursday, November 20, 2008

Show from: Nov. 19, 2008

Our panel today:
Edwin (Friendly Neighborhood Evangelical Atheist)
Catherine (Hopeful Agnostic Atheist)
Paul (Agnostic Atheist)
Zach (Strong Atheist)

Today we talked mostly about things in the news focusing the last half of the show on the secular advertisements going up int he U.S. and the U.K.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Show from: Nov. 12, 2008

Finally! The whole panel of atheists was here for the show!!

Edwin (Friendly Neighborhood Evangelical Atheist)
Justin ("I don't believe")
Catherine (Hopeful Agnostic Atheist)
Paul (Agnostic Atheist)
Mike (Somewhere Between Agnostic & Atheist)
Zach (Strong Atheist)

That's the crew. One day we hope to welcome back Jessie the Redheaded Jew and Mark the Pantheistic Catholic with a Taoist Twist to the show, but until then we'll be riding along as a panel of six atheist trying to make our way along the radio waves :)

Show from: Nov. 5, 2008


Show from: Oct. 29, 2008

Finally got all but one (Catherine) of my co-hosts to attend the show!


Show from: Oct. 22, 2008


About the Atheist Blogroll

Just wanted to put out a quick recommendation: if you haven't noticed or checked out the Atheist Blogroll on the sidebar of the page, I suggest you scroll through and pick out a few blogs to browse. I've been rather lucky with it in the past and have found some really excellent writers while searching through there.


Show from: Oct. 15, 2008

This show was a bit rocky since I ended up more or less winging it when I found out last minute that my cohosts would all be absent. But despite the vacation time I got some listener interaction and it was overall enjoyable.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nov. 12 Show Notes

Here's the links and citations to all the articles we talked about on the show.

“The God Delusion”
By Richard Dawkins
Pg. 317-325

Is Religion Child Abuse? What About the Children?
By Chuck Colson

Uncited by Colson:

Mapping American Adolescent Subjective Religiosity and Attitudes of Alienation Toward Religion

Religion-related Child Physical Abuse: Characteristics and Psychological Outcomes

Running From Hell: Growing Up in America’s Most Hated Family

Friday, November 7, 2008

Life, Love, and Meaning as an Atheist

Something I noted about life as an atheist as opposed to a theist is the idea of meaning in life. Christians and other theists always want to say how an atheist has no meaning in their life. They want to know how one can function without the idea that there’s someone watching out for you, someone, something, that has an ultimate plan. I beg to differ. In fact, I intend to turn that argument around. As a theist, believing in an afterlife and an ultimate plan of a Great Creator, their lives have no meaning. Within the context of eternity, infinity, unending life, anything you do has minimal significance, especially when you consider that a lot of what you do is probably playing into the plans of some other being. One way or another, the significance of ANY action shrivles to zero on an infinite time scale. The only thing that might warrant meaning in one’s life is saving someone else’s soul from eternal damnation; but most people aren't pursuing that anyway.

As an atheist, antitheist, and more or less a naturalist, I recognize that everything I do has a finite amount of goodness or negativity. If I save a life, I have done something powerfully wonderful. People only have a certain amount of time to spend existing and pursuing this intricate thing called life. If I help them preserve that, I’ve given them what might be just a little more time, but something that is immeasurably valuable. In a life there is a very distinct and measurable quantity of opportunities for happiness allowed! If I make someone happy, I have contributed to a very limited area of possible opportunities for that person to be happy! I’ve filled a gap in their brief time on Earth with joy. If a composer writes a song I only have so much time to listen to it, to appreciate it. Every note becomes more poignant. Everything becomes more precious, more meaningful, when you realize that this is all you get.

Indeed, it's why I've been a bit melancholy lately. I'm at war in my head! Particularly as a university student, there's so many wonderful options available to me, but I can only choose one! Whichever I choose I have to make the best of; I won’t have any other chances! I won't have eternity to try other things. Sure it’s a bit intimidating, a bit scary, but accepting this will allow me to make the most of my existence. For me, every endeavor has become so much more worthwhile for me.

Things are extreme. If I screw up, I REALLY screw up. If I hurt someone and turn them away from me, that’s it. I won’t have a chance to reunite in heaven one day when everything’s all better. When I taste food I marvel at the beauty of such a concept. When I sit with a beautiful girl I’m trying to impress, somewhere in my mind I’m laughing with joy, even as I tremble, just thinking about how an inanimate universe conspired to give me consciousness, to give me this opportunity to feel this wonderful and this vulnerable; this chance, this glorious gamble for bliss or blandishment.

I’m terribly glad I don’t believe in a God. I don’t think I could deal with that. The idea that I’m a pawn in his ultimate plan would just make me feel small and used. The fact that this guy who’s supposed to look out for me has allowed bad things to happen to me, and to other people, would overwhelm me with anger. Sure, I get the common response that it all happens for a reason, and that it’s in my best interests, and that God knows what he’s doing. But I wonder how that works for the good people who have bad things happen to them and die, cold and homeless, before God ever has the chance to work their lives out. Religionists ask me how I can deal with thinking that I’m alone in this universe, that there’s no one looking out for me. I am NOT alone. I have friends who are with me and watch out for me. They ask me how I can deal with not thinking that there’s a plan. I tell them: it makes me feel good to know that I am no invisible man’s puppet, that I am master of my own destiny; the good I do is my own, and the bad I do I will pay for from the people I hurt. People want to know how I can deal with not thinking that there is some ultimate justice. Well, that’s not something I can decide on how to deal with. Some people get justice, some don’t. It’s a fact of life. But I know that I sure as hell wouldn’t want some holier than thou being judging me, or anyone else. How can an eternal, supposedly all good, all powerful being ever possible decide what is justice for us mere humans with our human whims and human emotions? That’s why here on Earth we have a jury of peers because they are the only ones who have even a remote understanding of our situations in life. God has never had to lose a loved one, fear for his life, or support a family. How could he POSSIBLY know how to judge us?

I won’t say that theism gives nothing to people. Indeed, some people’s lives are so sad that without a belief in something else they’d be suicidal; or in some cases homicidal. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that all things lose meaning in a religious worldview. If God is omnipotent, than this creation really isn’t all that spectacular; in fact, if this is the best a perfect being can do, I’m not impressed. If one believes in heaven and hell, this life means nothing and they might want to spend their every breath working on getting into heaven, and worry less about careers and frivolities.

Many people agree that atheism makes sense, that it’s rational, and end up more or less admitting that they’d be one save for the fact that they are afraid. They’re afraid of their lives and their suffering having no meaning. It takes time, but as an atheist you eventually come to understand that your life does have meaning, and suffering becomes a passing thing when hope on this world is what you start to reach for. And death. People fear, more than anything, death. I sat with this idea for a while, and through my ruminations I came to have a sort of peace with my eventual demise. But this past Spring I came across a quote by Mark Twain that has completely erased a fear of death from my mind and truly given me full peace as an atheist. He says, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” Truest words that I cannot hope to expand upon.

What is love anyway on Earth, if your true perfect existence will be decided in heaven anyway? Questions like, what’s the use? and why are we here? become big issues. I’ve never had to worry about that. We’re here because our parents decided to get it on. Life is here because of extraordinary chemical processes. It’s simpler than you think, yet more astounding than you can imagine. A theistic life seems rather sad to me, when one breaks it down. Life becomes less precious, love stale and worthless, sensation useless. For me, life is everything, sensations hold the possibility of being my last, and love is in the moment and precious, immediate yet fleeting.

If you’re afraid of examining your beliefs, please, don’t be. There are resources out there for the contemporary atheist. There are communities. There are likeminded individuals who’ve been through, or are going through, the exact same thing. Take the time, investigate. It’s not as scary as you think.