Friday, 20 June 2008

An Atheism Meme

Got this meme from the excellent Ministry of Truth and as it tied in with my thinking at the mo and also wasn't a forced meme, I thought I'd do it. If anyone wants to do the same, please do and leave me a comment so I know to check it out. Here goes...

Q1. How would you define ‘atheism’?

Not believing in any of the numerous gods out there and challenging religious thinking. Also a stance against anything supernatural or without a basis in evidence based practice and reason.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

No, lucky enough to have a Dad that believes in nothing and a Mum who is only a Christian (in the loosest sense) in emergencies and for comfort, however, as it was fashionable in the 80's to get your kids Christened, I was, at the age of 12. I felt very daft having a priest put his wet fingers on my head. This lead to a brief phase reading the bible and looking to Jesus for answers, needless to say he gave none.

Q3. How would you describe ‘Intelligent Design’, using only one word?


Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

The continued advances in evolution and the insights gained into the development of humankind and our fellow animals is pretty fascinating but I suppose all the advances in physics and the knowledge around the beginning of time and the rules that govern the greater universe. Big questions are very exciting, things that challenge the mind on the bizarreness of time and space.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the ‘atheist community’, what would it be and why?

Well the fact there isn't an atheist community is a bit of a problem, so I'd change that and develop a legion of people who base their lives on reason and evidence and the joy of the wonderful world we've been blessed with, with a remit to continue investigating the world and our environs

It'd be nice if the atheist community was more vocal in its challenges to what is taken as a given with regards to the infection of religion in our cultures and the damage it causes.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said ‘I’m joining the clergy’, what would be your first response?

Any child of mine is free to make whatever choices they want, so I would accept it and love them all the same but always remind them that I take an opposite stance to them. I'm hoping that I will raise my child in an environment where religion or not, is a free choice and I will furnish them with all the facts and information so they can make up their own mind but I will certainly not bring religion into the home or use it as a cheap out for all the tough questions they may ask.

Q7. What’s your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

I find arguments with theistic people tedious and annoying because eventually they pull the faith card (ie: we need no evidence, we have a feeling) and tell me to prove there is no god. When I say there is no need to prove it because there is no evidence to prove it in the first place, they think I'm ducking the questions.

It's all very frustrating because they eventually don't take on the basic principles of reasoned, evidence based debate, they just go off on one. One of my favourites however, is to ask them how old the earth is and if they believe that women should be locked away whilst on their period, this usually shuts them up or gets them bogged down in their unique 'interpretation' of the bible/religious book they believe in.

Q8. What’s your most ‘controversial’ (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I don't know if it is controversial really but I no longer have a liberal tolerance to backward thinking religious values and am a lot more hard line in my feelings regarding religion being something that holds humanity back.

Q9. Of the ‘Four Horsemen’ (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Can't pick, they all connect to me in different ways, although Harris's stuff about meditation and whatnot confused me. So Dawkins I suppose as Hitchens can be a bit of a prick.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

The Pope, then the rest would hopefully follow.


  1. I think you are entirely free to have your own beliefs...

    One point - God exists by faith alone. So no matter how much you try to prove he cannot exist by pointing to this or that he will continue to do so in the hearts and minds of those that have faith as by definition if I could prove the existance of God then that wouldn't satisfy some as the fitting their belief and their God would continue as defined through their faith. A conundrum that.

    I'm not religious. In fact I dislike much of organised religion - in particular the "our God is the only God type".... esp between Jews, Christians and Muslems where surely actually it is the same God anyway.... track back to Abraham and all that.

    However at a point some years back I had to face a very simple point about whether I could dismiss the "something out there connecting us in some way that you can't understand and describe" I came to the point of view of "Who the hell am I to dismiss the possibility of God's existance when I can only see and understand the smallest part of this universe."

    I find people like Dawkins as scary and deluded as many religious fanatics unfortunately.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for provoking them....

    btw - are you the tall guy in the Strongbow ad?

  2. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, appreciate it.

    The whole point is faith is no basis for knowledge, so indeed many people have a faith that their God is real but that has little value because faith is, for want of a better word, useless.

    This wouldn't be so much of a problem if people of faith didn't have such a stronghold over the world but they do and their beliefs of faith present some serious problems for the world.

    I understand your statements about 'who am I...' but that is based on the idea that this 'god' is above you.

    It's hard because religion has a control over so many of our frames of reference but by taking these elements apart it can provide a greater sense of clarity.

    And yes, I am that bloke in the Strongbow adverts.


  3. PS: I would never class Dawkins as deluded or scary, I find what he says is backed up with evidence and reason and on his scientific record alone as a biologist, he deserves a great deal of respect.

  4. hoi! I have been a self proclaimed atheist for many years since I was 19. Back then I did not know such a word existed, but I alone (all alone!) came to a conclusion that the god idea was deluded at best. It was such a relief I had back then when I felt that i'm truly free for the first time. That my friend is a very dangerous feeling and this to my mind is what Dawkins is talking about.

    Suddenly though, out of the blue, I started to move backwards in time. I developed out of thin air again, a belief that there is a god!! I do not know how to explain it, but I never stopped thinking about the matter at any one time. This happened about 4 years ago and has been with me since. I have to admit, this feeling seems daunting at times, and I sometimes miss the feeling of liberation and absolute control I used to feel before. I just have no control over that feeling, or the earlier one for that matter.

    I tell myself that I'm a guy on a continuos search for answers, i'm truly agnostic. I honestly think it is hard, at best, to prove or disprove to myself the existence of a god with 100% accuracy, but I believe my agnosticism obliges me to at least die trying. I would stop trying though if I'm at any point in time not an agnostic anymore and is satisfied on any one side, which never happened since those unforgettable days when I turned atheist for the first time.

  5. Ah. These are the types of conversations that make me squirm. I am a not-knower, an agnostic (the worst of all because we will not make a decision).

    A bit of a tangential point: atheism is like any other religion in that it too requires a leap of faith -- it's just that it's particular leap of faith leaps the other way.

    Overall, though, I agree w/ your main point: organised religions put a stranglehold on knowledge.

  6. Clarissa: atheism is not based on a leap of faith it's based on evidence, there is no act of faith involved in not believing in something that doesn't exist and it is certainly not a religion.

    Atheists worship nothing and there is no dogma, as in if some new evidence comes to light, we change but with religion it is imutable.

    Mo: interesting story, I was meaning to ask you about your beliefs, thanks for filling in the gaps.

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  8. Insteresting. I'm going to have to use this. George Carlin died yesterday.


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