Category Archives: Atheism, Agnosticism, Humanism, and Religion

Posts dealing with Atheism/Agnosticism/Humanism vs Religion

Tragedy, religion, and real solutions.

Pray for Paris.

There are so many things wrong with that statement I do not know where to begin.

So, let’s start with : who are you going to pray to? The god who let it happen or the god who caused it to happen? What exactly are you going to pray for? The dead? The wounded? The lives affected? The lives unaffected?

I get it. “I will pray for _________” is the catch phrase the religious fall back on when they don’t know what else to do. It makes a person feel as though they are doing something. It is akin to saying: “I am sorry for your loss.” or “Our thoughts are with you.” It shows solidarity. Like imposing a French flag over your Facebook profile picture.

Which is a new can of worms.

So, why the French flag? There were at least half a dozen more countries attacked that day by the same group. Those countries not white enough for you?

Showing solidarity for one country’s tragedy is still showing solidarity for a tragedy. It should not diminish the fact that other countries were attacked on the same day.

Speaking of white: Donald Trump

Yes, it has to be said. Donald Trump spewed enough anti-immigration venom that some of it turned out to be on the mark. So we all need to close down our borders and shut out all those terrorists coming to our country, right?

Terrorists are – literally – one in a million. IF you let a single terrorist through your borders you have helped a million more in return. If you are not a jerk to the ones you have helped, maybe you can keep others from becoming terrorists.

Which brings us to religion. You knew it was bound to happen. I am The God Fearing Atheist after all.

“Islam is the problem!” says the Christian.

So you think more religion is going to solve issues caused by religion? There are plenty of examples of terrorism done by white Christians. Grab a world history book and you will see something called the “Crusades” where the Christians were the terrorists.

“Religion is the problem!” says the Atheist.

So you think that people need a religious excuse to be jerks to one another? These guys are filled with hate for anyone not like themselves. Religion is the catalyst. People hate what they fear and they fear what they do not understand. Assuming that is true, an education is what they need.

Why don’t you do something meaningful?

What, like donate to the Red Cross? A group that is demonized when there isn’t a tragedy for its high CEO pay, questionable business practices, and ineffective relief efforts?

Ok, smart guy.  Exactly what can we do for the victims?

STOP.

STOP looking for a simple answer to a complex problem.
STOP being a jerk to those who are as powerless as you are during times of tragedy.
STOP being racist and Islamaphobic.
STOP electing those who pander to racists and Islamaphobes.
STOP pretending like what little you are doing is better than the little anyone else is doing.
STOP contributing to anti-intellectualism.
STOP using tragedy to further your own agenda.

Do what you can and don’t judge.

SkepDakota!!!

skepdakota
Steve, our mascot. 🙂

Siouxland Freethinkers is hosting its own conference on August 29th! It’s going to be a fun weekend with social events, amazing speakers, vendors, networking, and all around awesomeness.

We’ve managed to put all this together for some really good prices, and are offering a special VIP experience as well. But here’s the deal – earlybird pricing ends April 30th.  So that means that you’re going to want to buy your ticket in the next 24 hours or so to get the very best deal possible. How? Head over to http://skepdakota.com/ and click on the “tickets” link. There’s also a link to a special on hotel rooms there as well.

We are so excited to be hosting the first conference of this kind in South Dakota! We hope to see you in Sioux Falls in August!

Atheist Questions

Continuing along the lines of getting to know me, these are questions from an online christian site that dared Atheists to answer the questions. The thought was by the time you got into it, you would realize Atheism is just silly and go back to the Church.  These were my answers.

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?

Through reasoning, critical thinking and skeptical analysis. Studying the Bible from a historical perspective also helped.

2.       What happens when we die?

Apart from the obvious, we will either cease to exist, or something else. Either way, I’m good.

3.       What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!

What if we are both wrong and you will be reincarnated? I just do my best to be kind to others and live an honest life. If I am judged for my sins in some afterlife, I should do ok.  As an Atheist, I am not living for an afterlife, I am living for the life I have now.

4.       Without God, where do you get your morality from?

Same place you would get it with God. Parents, peers, and personality. Consequences of my actions are as immediate as anyone. When I wrong someone I can’t just pray to a god and be forgiven. I actually have to speak to the person I have wronged and ask forgiveness. There are two things hard to do: 1. Admit you are fallible then 2. ask forgiveness from another being that isn’t in your head.

5.       If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

Even if everyone is believes the same these all will happen anyway. The difference is that you are less likely to get involved when things like this happen if you believe “someone else” will punish them or “someone else” will help the victims. You, as an individual, have more effect on the lives of those around you than any deity.

6.       If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?

My life has more meaning without God than with. Because I do not believe in reward or punishment after death, how I live and treat others is more important now than it will be later.

7.       Where did the universe come from?

I don’t know. There is no shame in admitting that. Maybe we will find out someday but pretending we know all the answers only gives us wrong ones.

8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

Why must we believe in supernatural miracles done 2000+ years ago but not put our faith in the people who do the impossible everyday – right now? I tell people who make extraordinary claims that they must have extraordinary proof to back these claims up.

9.   What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?

I don’t like Dawkins methods and many of his views on Atheism. I have barely heard of Hitchens but my views seem more in line with his. Who the heck is Harris? I have my own views on Atheism and no one person speaks for me.

10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

Belief in something bigger than ourselves is not only innately human, but it gives us comfort and the illusion of knowledge in the absence of information. Why did you stop believing in Santa Claus? Because you got new information. Modern mythology is no different, yet even in the presence of overwhelming information to the contrary, some people still insist that their belief is more true than any fact.

I am an Atheist

I am an Atheist, but I haven’t always been.

I was raised Catholic (mother’s side) with a non-practicing Lutheran father. My Catholic upbringing was a positive experience and I regularly went to catechism classes (called CCD in my day). I was even an altar boy for many years but must have been one of the ugly ones because nobody ever touched me inappropriately.

When it comes to Christianity, I have been around. I was married Methodist; divorced; married Lutheran; joined a southern Baptist church in Texas; moved back to South Dakota; joined what I call a Baptist revival; studied several different versions of the Bible (yes, there are different versions); divorced again; married Episcopalian and even baptized my first child as such.

I have stories from each of these chapters in my life. My blog posts will have more on those later as well as what Atheism truly means while weighing arguments for and against Atheism.

Everyone’s experience is different but, becoming an Atheist is a long process that takes many years. People often think we wake up one day, see something bad on the news about religion and say “That’s it! I’m an Atheist!” This is almost never the case.

It was easier having faith than not believing in God. The message was positive, many questions were “answered”, and it was very comforting to “know” that I wasn’t ever truly alone. Ignorance truly is bliss.

So, why would I want to become Atheist? Because the evidence didn’t support my beliefs. It’s not that I looked around and didn’t see God, but many of the things that the church teaches from the Bible is either false, misleading, or suppressed. There is far more to it than I can write here and I will write more about this at a later time.

Becoming an Atheist doesn’t change who I am. For those who know me, I am the same person I always have been though, I have never had more friends who I share so much in common with and accept me for who I am.

Many will be relieved to know that, as an Atheist, I take no issue with what you believe nor will I try to recruit you as an Atheist. The decision to become Atheist is personal process and not for everyone.

However, if you try to recruit me into your belief system or use said belief system as justification to oppress, discriminate, spread misinformation, or do harm to others, I will oppose you with every fiber of my being.

In conclusion, I have repeatedly mentioned that becoming an Atheist is a process. Part of my process was letting go of God with a final prayer which went something like this:

Dear God,

I have been told by those who represent themselves as religious authorities that you are an omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (existing everywhere) sort of being. Therefore, if I were to ask you for the things I think I need, not only would you know better than I what my needs truly are, but what arrogance would that demonstrate on my part to presume upon such a being as yourself?

Therefore, whether or not you see fit to intervene in my life, I am good with whatever you decide. As my personal spiritual needs are fulfilled, I reserve this one last and only prayer:

I pray that the prayers of others are answered.

Sincerely,

A God-fearing Atheist.

 

Harry Potter and the City Council Meeting

The past 48 hours have been a complete blur.

Following the Greece v. Galloway ruling, I had contacted the SF City Council about the possibility of doing a secular opening to a Council meeting. It was simply a matter of scheduling, and so we did.

Tuesday night, August 5th, I  opened the Sioux Falls City Council meeting with the following statement:

“Thank you Mr. Mayor, Council members, citizens of Sioux Falls, and all those present for this opportunity to provide an inspirational opening to your meeting.

Often at this time, you are asked to bow your heads. Instead, I ask you to lift your head up and look around. Turn your attention to this room – a room that has heard countless discussions, frustrations, and successes; a room where important decisions regarding your city are routinely made.

Now take a moment to soak in the presence of the men and women in this room, gathered here at this time and place to engage in their civic duty, to contribute and work towards creating a better community. Think of the hundreds and thousands of others who are also affected by the ideas shared here. Let all voices be heard and understood equally.

It is also often customary to read from a book during an invocation, and tonight will be no different – I’ll be sharing a quote from J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in which Professor Albus Dumbledore said:

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”

Although our differences may be many, we are bound together in similarity as members of the human species. As humans, we have the capacity to appreciate and thank each other; to utilize compassion and reason in our decision making. I ask those present to join me in showing gratitude  to the men and women that serve the great city of Sioux Falls. We need only look to each other for guidance, and work together to overcome any challenges we may face.”

Today, I got off work to be met with the news that the story about “Harry Potter and the Atheist of Sioux Falls” was being shared on not only local media – KSFY, KDLT, KELO AM, KSOO, and The Argus Leader, but also was on Daily Kos, Addicting Info, The Friendly Atheist, CFI, The Raw Story, and The Christian Post.

The best part is that most of the feedback and comments have been overwhelmingly positive.

I am absolutely overcome by the outpouring of support shown to me by so many. I can’t tell you how much it meant to see so many familiar faces in the crowd at the meeting – the Council woman I sat next to asked if I brought some friends since the room was so full, and I was pleased to tell her that so many members of Siouxland Freethinkers were present. In addition, all the lovely comments on Facebook, text messages, emails, and private messages wishing me good luck, letting me know that people were tuning in online from afar, or congratulating me on a job well done have just been absolutely amazing.

And my husband Eric – I couldn’t do any of this without his support. He is the best cheerleader and confidence builder in the world.

To all of you: thank-you, a million times over.

– Amanda