Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

AN ATHEIST’S GUIDE TO BECOMING RELIGIOUS

AN ATHEIST’S GUIDE TO BECOMING RELIGIOUS

by Troy Conrad

TroyconradLately, I’ve had many atheists write to me, asking if now is a good time to become religious again.  It seems that the departure of the Bush Administration has awoken the vast majority of the atheist community to the simple fact that theocracy is no longer a threat here or abroad.  It is high time to embrace what we once called superstition,  dust off that Bible lifted in protest from the Holiday Inn, and delve once more into the church, dear friends.

For some, a conversion or reconversion to reverence seems a daunting task.  As freethinkers, we’ve gotten a bit rusty in the worship department.  When working out the faith muscle, we must start slowly so it doesn’t get overtaxed.  Start out at the Joel Osteen level, before you consider going full Falwell.  If you’re one of the 5% still on the fence about taking this sacred surge, ponder the inarguable, massive benefit of taking the faith train to Godville.

Huge time savings. Take into account how much time you spend thinking.  Now cut that in half.  Now cut that in half, and repeat until you reach zero, because you now have a handy-dandy book that makes your decisions for you.  As Ted Haggard said: “We don’t have to have a debate about what we should think about homosexuality.  It’s written in the Bible.”  Add up the time it would have taken you to mentally debate this, and use it to go golfing.  It is estimated that by eliminating thinking by 95%, the average American would save 14 hours per week.  Based on the new U.S. minimum wage increase, that translates to $5,278 per American each year.  That’s almost enough to purchase a Smart Car.

It should be quite clear that there has never been a better time to stop and smell the rosary.  Though there are obstacles ahead for the skeptical mind, here are some simple, tested guidelines to help you go from “infidel” to just plain “fidel” in just a few short weeks.

Make meaning out of small things, so that you can be trusted to make meaning out of large things. Before you can calm your inquisitive mind and embrace the idea of a loving, caring, and jealous God, you’ll need to start with baby steps.  Reading tea leaves and taking fortune cookies literally is a good start toward making meaning out of everyday situations.  Is a tearful image of God’s only Son right there in your bag of Funyons?  Has an outline of the savior shown up on your shower curtain?  Did your lawnmower leak lubricant, only to leave a loving image of God’s only Son on the garage floor?  Course through all snack foods, pre-made burger patties, tortillas (both corn and flour), breakfast flakes, nut mixes, or hastily topped frozen pizzas.  If the image of Christ or Mary appears, remind yourself that it is not simply coincidence.

Re-read The God Delusion with a more critical eye. Maybe Richard Dawkins himself was sent to test your faith.  Have you considered that maybe the only reason Dawkins even writes books is because he thinks he’s better than you?

Develop your ability to follow orders. For freethinkers who have not been in the military, you have a problem with obedience to authority.  This can be remedied by wearing a rubber band around your wrist.  Simply snap it against your flesh each time you become inquisitive.  Do this every day for 21 days, and obedience will become your second best friend.  The virtue of obedience will also prepare you quite well for the workforce should something open up.

Watch The Flintstones. Seeing humans and dinosaurs co-exist again will help free the mind from any previous knowledge of anthropology, paleontology, or history.  Likewise, shows like Two and a Half Men will leave you with no compulsion to watch documentaries and other shows that contain information.

Be stingy with your new virginity. Since virginity is restored when you become a Christian, don’t just go and give it away now.  You need to save it for marriage or Senior Prom. Post a pledge to Bristol Palin’s abstinence organization, and join Promise Keepers right away to build a solid, iron-clad moral and ethical foundation.  Additionally, the purchase of a Smart Car is a great way to keep from losing your virginity in the backseat this time around.

Invent a new controversy. If it’s possible to revive a formerly settled debate such as creation vs. evolution, surely there are scores of other settled controversies to renew.  These new debates will bring more validity to your newfound belief system, and balance out all the science that’s stuck in your head.  Next time you hear people arguing about abortion, say something like: “Whoa!  This is almost as heated as the ‘prayer vs. single payer health care’ debate!”

Use the “caps lock” on your keyboard. Many atheists are prone to using a lower case “g” when typing the word “God.”  This habit, left unchecked, is an embarrassing mistake for the newly anointed.  Using the caps lock is a foolproof solution, making it impossible to mess up a phrase such as:  “MAY GOD BLESS E. E. CUMMINGS.”

White-out the violent parts of the Bible. Let’s be honest.  Any book that condones rape, murder, genocide, and incest can be a real bummer.  Just memorize the parts with the word “love” if you want to really make a difference.

Put “under God” back in the Pledge. You may have loudly objected to the addition of those two words added to the Pledge of Allegiance during the McCarthy era.  Noble at the time, but you’re a believer now.  Besides, why not prepare yourself for a visit to Ireland?  They’ve just passed a bold new Anti-blasphemy Law.  It would be rude and illegal to omit “under God” when saying the Pledge in the Emerald Isle.

Write down what you would like your City of Gold to look like. You’re going to get one when you die (Revelation 21:18), so sit down and design your city intelligently.  Gold is currently near an all-time high, so guess who just picked a great time to be a Christian?

Purchase a firearm. God loves you now, and you’ve taken an oath to “treat your body as a temple.”  If someone is loitering near your temple, you better have the stopping power to keep it looking good.  A .50 caliber Smith & Wesson will clear out anyone’s temple.  Though Christianity is a religion of peace, there’s a nugget of wisdom in the phrase: “Kill ‘em all, and let God sort ‘em out.”

Try a night of gay sex. If you end up liking it, you will meet more people to share your faith with.  If you end up disliking it, then your repentance and faith will just get stronger.  Either way, God wins.

(Note: Though it’s our responsibility to vote against same-sex marriage, same sex-one-night-hookups are not specifically forbidden by name in the Book of Leviticus.)

It is my hope that these steps to religiosity can help spark a return to the peacefulness of the Middle Ages.  I am currently compiling some tips for nonbelievers with a background in Islam, so that they, too, can enjoy the massive benefits of a religious society.  So, my fellow former-faithless friends…  I am glad that we can all be a part of this new “beginning of faith” together, and I look forward to seeing you all at the Sunday meetups.  I’ll be the guy in the Smart Car.

Troy Conrad is a comic, writer, and filmmaker living in Los Angeles.  He is the creator of The Comedy Jesus Show, which toured internationally, and has just received distribution on DVD.  He is featured in the upcoming Paul Provenza book “Satiristas” with Janeane Garafalo, Stephen Colbert, and George Carlin.  To see videos from The Comedy Jesus Show, go to www.atheistcomedy.com or subscribe to “comedyjesus” on Youtube.

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July 17, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Blurb, Christianity, creationism, evolution, god, Jesus, Jesus Christ, religion, Satire, Troy Conrad | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Boulder International Humanist Institute Presents Gary Marcus

The following flyer and e-mail was sent forwarded to us by the Boulder International Humanist Society

klugeeventflyer3-21

Save the date of Friday, February 13th to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday (actually on February 12th) (see attachment for our flyer).  Gary Marcus is a wonderful speaker and professor from New York University.  He also has a good sense of humor.
The Boulder International Humanist Institute’s success will be measured by the attendance at the event.  If we can have a full house and good book signing and sales, we can encourage other compelling speakers in the future.
Please support us in this event by attending and encouraging others to attend.  You can run off the attached announcement on a color printer and show it to friends.  You can refer them to our website to learn more about BIHI.
We may be co-sponsoring an event in October to bring Richard Dawkins to Boulder and can use the fact that we attract a good audience to our events as an inducement to future speakers.
Please consider buying Marcus’s book and having him sign it at the event so we can continue to have the Boulder book store as a co-sponsor of future events.
The American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry are co-sponsoring this event and the editor of The Humanist magazine will be joining us and making a presentation.
Thank you for your help in making this a successful event as you have spread the word for past events.  If anyone wants to volunteer to help us on this or future events please reply.
We have tried to reach out to a diverse audience and connect with various disciplines.  We have had speakers in anthropology, psychology, law, journalism, philosophy, religious studies.
The purpose of BIHI is to educate the community about the benefit of policy making, ethics, and values from evidenced based dialogue.  This contrasts with looking to blind faith, unexamined holy sources for our values.  As a nation we have been victim of theocratic influences for the past eight years.  There are think tanks, some legal scholars, and public interest groups that are distorting history by claiming we are a Christian nation and the Constitution’s prohibition of established religion only prohibits favoring one religion over another, but does not prohibit government favoring religion over non belief.
Our principle message is that whatever one’s personal notion of religion or God may be, supernatural authority, God, and one’s faith should not trump evidenced based decisions about what best serves the public interest.  Consequences matter more than commitment to political or economic ideology.  As President Obama said: “The issue isn’t whether we should have more or less government, but what works.”  Pragmatism in solving our severe crisis is what the best evidence indicates works to serve the public interest.
Gordon Gamm
– Chalmer, VP

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Lecture, Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gimme An A: Sam Singleton

Gimme an A by Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist

January 24, 2009 Posted by | atheism, god, Humor, Sam Singleton, Satire | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes About Religion

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise. – James Madison

This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it. – John Adams

Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies. – Thomas Jefferson

Man is a marvelous curiosity…he thinks he is the Creator’s pet…he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea. – Mark Twain

All thinking men are atheists. – Ernest Hemingway

It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him. – Arthur C. Clarke

A man is not moral because he is obedient through fear or ignorance. Morality lives in the realm of perceived obligation… – Robert Ingersoll

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. – Karl Marx

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. – George Bernard Shaw

Creationists make it sound like a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. – Isaac Asimov

We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. – Richard Dawkins

“The time for respecting religous beliefs of that sort has long past”-Sam Harris at Idea City 05

“Thou shalt not take anything on faith”-Penn Jillette

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
— Stephen Roberts

“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.”
— unknown

“Only Sheep need a shepherd!”
— unknown

“God is not dead. He is alive and working on a much less ambitious project.”
— graffito (1975), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

“Appraise the Lord: Tax church property.”
— bumper sticker

“Humanity without religion is like a serial killer without a chainsaw.”
— unknown

“Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.”
–Don Hirschberg

“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”
–Denis Diderot

“The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.”
— Denis Diderot

“the trouble with theocracy is that everyone wants to be Theo.”
— James Dunn

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.”
–Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor (1769-1821).

“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.”
–Ferdinand Magellan, (1480–1521), Portuguese navigator: discoverer of the Straits of Magellan 1520 and the Philippines 1521.

“Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.”
— Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Roman Catholic philosopher

“Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk.”
— Tom Waits

“An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.”
— John Buchan

“The atheist does not say ‘there is no God,’ but he says ‘I know not what you mean by God; I am without idea of God’; the word ‘God’ is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation. … The Bible God I deny; the Christian God I disbelieve in; but I am not rash enough to say there is no God as long as you tell me you are unprepared to define God to me.”
— Charles Bradlaugh, ‘Plea for Atheism’

Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”
Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
— Annie Dillard, ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

“I give money for church organs in the hope the organ music will distract the congregation’s attention from the rest of the service.”
— Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

“Gods always behave like the people who created them”
— Zora Neale Hurston

“Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.”
— Chapman Cohen

“Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.”
— Ambrose Bierce

“I still say a church steeple with a lightening rod on top shows a lack of confidence.”
— Doug McLeod

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
— H. L. Mencken

“Men never commit evil so fully and joyfuly as when they do it for religious convictions”
— Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

“Man has never been the same since God died. He has taken it very hard.”
— unknown

“The world holds two classes of men – intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.”
— Abu Ala Al-Ma’arri (???? – 1059)

“No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.”
–Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933)

“Hey, let’s get serious… God knows what he’s doin’ He wrote this book here And the book says: ‘He made us all to be just like Him’, So… If we’re dumb… Then God is dumb… (And maybe even a little ugly on the side)”
– -Frank Zappa

“God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.”
— Rousseau

“You know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do.”
–[from Usenet]

“Atheism is a non-prophet organization”
— unknown

“Organizing atheists is like hurding cats”
— Madalyn Murray O’Hair

“In the absence of fear there is little faith.”
— Michael Pain

“If atheists are deaf to the word of God, then theists are blind to the ways of man.”
— Michael Pain

“You’ll never find a dead Christian in a foxhole who didn’t pray.”
— unnknown

“On the sixth day, God created man. On the seventh day, man returned the favor.”
— unknown

“Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.”
— unknown

“For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever would believe in him would believe in anything.”
— unknown

“Theists think all gods but theirs are false. Atheists simply don’t make an exception for the last one.”
— unknown

“Fundamentalism means never having to say ‘I’m wrong.'”
— unknown

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day;
Give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish”
— unknown

“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?”
— Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith

October 26, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Christianity, god, Qoutes, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Materialism and Morality

So, according to Michael Humphrey from The Daily Everygreen Online, atheism precludes the possibility of having morals. I thought I would take some time address some of the claims made in his article.

Pure materialism rejects the existence of anything beyond matter and its interaction. When all events in the universe are reduced to the colliding of atoms, there’s no room for good or bad. These interactions are purposeless and irrational.

Though it may be without purpose, it is far from being irrational. The interactions of matter are consistent. If one is rational, it means their opinions are consistent with and logically derived from established facts and observations. The interactions of matter are determined by the properties inherent to the matter itself. Matter never deviates from its own nature, and never reaches irrational conclusions. The material world never actually reaches any conclusions, nor does matter apply reason to anything because matter is not aware of facts and it doesn’t make observations. Matter has no need to derive truth from itself, because the properties of matter, and energy, dictate what truth is.

Because of this reductionism of everything, materialists argue that humans are the same as animals, thus taking away the dignity humans have.

I’m not so insecure that I think my worthiness of esteem and respect is somehow robbed if I’m not the product of divine inspiration. Dignity is only lost if your standard for dignity requires that the entirety of the universe revolves around our tiny little lives. Besides, why should truth conform to the whims of our discontentions. Reality need not think you speacial in order to remain real.

This line of thinking is severe and deadly. Let’s consider whether it is evil or not to kill an animal. If it is evil to indiscriminately kill an animal, then it is also evil to indiscriminately kill humans. However, the unfortunate side effect of this is that we must stop washing anything, because killing bacteria – animals – is just like killing people.

The other option is that indiscriminately killing animals is not evil, but then killing humans indiscriminately isn’t evil either. So the worst atrocities of human history are nothing more than just washing your hands.

In either case, the final issue is that the Holocaust becomes morally equivalent to cleaning a dirty bathroom.

This is a very simplistic view of morality because it does not take into account the reasons why we consider killing in some circumstances wrong and not in others. The killing itself is not inherently wrong and, for most people, the moral implications of the act are based on other factors such as necessity and sentience.

Then things such as altruism are only believed to be “good” because they benefit the species and forward our evolution. However, altruism and self sacrifice are actually a detriment to our progress. If the weak are procreating, they only pollute the gene pool and ultimately damage the species. If Dawkins is right about memes and morality developing in an evolutionary way, then all forms of altruism will quickly exterminate themselves, since it is disadvantageous evolutionarily.

Altruism need not be applied only to the weak and, as a social species, our certain weaknesses can be more tolerated in the population. When a parent cares for her children or her relatives, he/she is helping to ensure that members of the species sharing at least some of his or genome are more likely to survive. While altruism might perpetuate certain weaknesses, such as strength, it selects for intelligence and strengthens the group by cultivating problem solving skills. Altruistic behavior is even present at the cellular level. In multicellular organisms, a process of cell destruction called apoptosis occurs. Apoptosis can be mediated by the organism, or by the cell to be destroyed. In one case we see murder, but in the other we see self-directed cellular suicide. When the cell poses a threat to the organism, it quite literally takes one for the team. I’m fairly certain Dawkins discusses social evolution in more than a few of his books, and he addresses this very concern. If Humphery read Dawkins work at all, he might have been aware of that.

Furthermore, this type of thinking on morality can lead some to justify atrocities. If we take Dawkins at his word about the evolution of morality, then for the sake of the species almost every corner of the world has found it acceptable to enslave, exterminate and sterilize humans at some point.

The behavioral parameters we have are not absolute, because our circumstances are not absolute. Many societies have also deemed slavery not acceptable. Why should we assume that one circumstance is inherently implied while the other is not? Evolutionary pros and cons exist for societies advocating slavery and those not advocating slavery. Ultimately, slavery is less beneficial. Freedom allows for the persistence of genetic diversity and increases the likelihood that a beneficial characteristic will be have a chance to enter the population. Freedom is potentially beneficial for every member of our species, while slavery only favors the few. Humphery also seems to think that those who use slavery are so capable because they are superior. Slave drivers usually have a weapon, something their genetics know nothing about. Technology has changed the course of evolution. Almost anyone, regardless of their genetic “inferiority”, can pull a trigger.

It was once legal and morally acceptable to own slaves, yet Western civilization considers freedom to be an inalienable right. But from Dawkins’ point of view, it could be prudent for our species to enslave the weak for survival of the strong.

Slavery does not favor the strong. With a weapon, even a child is potentially deadly. Also, if I were to advocate slavery, I would have to acknowledge the potential that I might be enslaved. Not only is it in the best interest of our species to remain free, but it is in the best interests of the individual.

These conclusions, once illuminated for what they are, morally corrupt – lose their creditabilty. They are simply a gross oversimplification of the human condition. We are more than biological programs.

This reasoning is completely circular. Humphery correctly implies that certain atrocities such as slavery are neither morally right or wrong, but then arbitrarily decides that such a a conclusion is unacceptable. In other words, he’s assuming the existence of absolute moral truths, and using them as evidence that moral relativism is irrational. Humphery deems the implications of moral relativism unacceptable by applying them to his as yet unjustified absolute moral standards. Humphery’s argument establishes nothing, it requires that moral absolutes already exist. His argument is as follows:

Slavery is wrong, moral relativism implies otherwise, therefore moral relativism is wrong.

That Slavery is absolutely wrong, or that moral absolutes even exist, is never established and the assumption never actually justified.

God gave us stewardship over creation not to exploit, but to tend it as a servant tends his master’s vineyard.

I may have spoken to soon. It seems Humphery feels that servitude is morally acceptable. How ironic…

-Chalmer

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Morality, philosophy, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment