Delightfully Underhanded

While checking my facebook page, I saw that I had a new friend request. I clicked through to the page to view the request and saw this:

I imagine they found me through one of the various science/atheist/secular/skeptical groups I belong to. It seemed a strange way to recruit and the image an odd choice for a personal profile. My skepticism was mildly aroused as it seemed almost a charicature of science-enthusiasts. So out of curiosity I copied and pasted the link to check out the group. Not at all surprisingly, this was the result:

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The Names We Give Ourselves

In response to this blog’s creation, a friend of mine queried thus:

what actually convinced you that there isnt such a thing as “god” anyways?

i just don’t see any sufficient evidence for either side anymore, and i want to know how you can call yourself an “athiest” when i can’t leave the viewpoint of an “agnostic”.

i wish i could believe in a “god” like i used to, however i’ve grown too much in the past four years… from someone with blind faith to someone too logical to even know how i feel about the word “faith”.

This is a legitimate question that a lot of agnostics pose and I’m glad she brought it up because I feel it’s worth addressing. First off, I’d like to define Atheism.

Atheist

–noun a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. (emphasis added)

Many people forget that atheism can mean both active denial or a simple lack of belief. In this second sense, agnostics can also be accurately described as atheists. So to be clear, there is no way to disprove the existence of a supernatural being, making me in the strictest way, an agnostic. I choose to identify as atheist because while we may never be able to say conclusively one way or the other, that does not mean that both are equally probable propositions.

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Ignorance is Bliss?

One of my best friends is currently in the hospital with an as-yet unknown ailment she picked up during a trip to Argentina.

Neither of us are religious, despite both of our families and many friends belonging to our old church. So when just about everyone who visited or called assured her that “I’ll pray for you” I had some very mixed feelings.

At first I did what I always do when someone mentions religion around me and her, I shot her a sarcastic look, which she reciprocates. It’s usually like in Fight Club when members give each other a little nod when they meet in the outside world, except this time it seemed like it really bothered her. I realized she must be getting that all the time being in the hospital and the fake smile you give a person who says it probably gets really tiresome. I was mildly outraged that people would be so insensitive to another person’s worldview.

Of course most people who “send their prayers” don’t really think about it that way. For them it’s assumed that it’s doing practical good for the recipient and because they surround themselves with like-minded religious people it doesn’t ever occur to them that it might be insensitive. It’s like the “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” debate. People who regularly say “Merry Christmas” think nothing of it, and assume that everyone understands it as a polite gesture. But how awkward and estranging it is for a Jew, Muslim, Atheist, or anyone else not practicing the holiday under the same terms as a Christian. Especially when it comes in such high frequency.

I must admit however, that as soon as I left, my mild outrage transformed into radical jealousy. When these people leave and express their sentiments in the form of prayer they actually believe that they are doing practical good towards helping her get well. They leave 100% confident that their supernatural deity will listen to their pleading and intervene for her well-being. Meanwhile I leave deeply frightened and concerned for my friend and feeling utterly helpless. As of yesterday the doctors still aren’t sure of what she has and she’s on a regular supply of morphine to minimize her pain, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I find myself desperately wishing I was capable of believing something I know to be false.

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It’s fun being the only athiest in an all Christian family

If you read my previous post, you already know that I was raised Christian and that I alone out of my God-fearing family have turned atheist.  My brother Mike I’m not too sure about.  He isn’t an active Christian but as far as I know he still believes in God. Anyways, although I haven’t told my parents outright that I no longer believe in God, I’m beginning to suspect that they are figuring it out.

They like to drop these not-so-subtle hints that I should be going back to church or that God is working in my life.  I generally just shrug these suggestions off to avoid a conflict but there was one instance when I could not resist a rebuttal.

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A Brief History of Jon

I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment, so I’ll take the opportunity to write my first of many little blurbs.  Mostly, I’ll be recapping things I learned in a given week, but every now and then I may post a thought or even a question and I’d encourage anyone reading to respond with discussion if they agree or disagree.

Anyways, as this is my first post, I can’t think of a better way to start than to give a bit of a history of how how my beliefs formed and eventually changed into how I currently view the Universe.  Most of you who know me personally know me well enough that you are aware (and probably were a part) of my religious upbringing.  I was born into a Christian family that has, by many people’s standards, rather strict morals.  In many ways, you could say I am grateful for my Christian upbringing.  By direct result of being a member of this church, I met my girlfriend of nearly 5 years, whom I love very much, and I also formed a small, but very close group of outstanding friends.  It also probably helped to keep me out of trouble when I was in middle and high school.  That all being said, I no longer consider myself a part of the Church, or any religion for that matter; nor do I believe in a personal god.

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Creationist Debate

Here, in near entirety, is a debate I’ve had with a creationist friend from back home for the last 2 months. I’ve edited out bits of the conversation that don’t relate to the debate and I’ve condensed multiple sequential responses by one person into a single segment. I’ve edited a small bit at the end regarding pi. I had barely skimmed a link before giving it to him and it turned out to be the opposite of what I was trying to get across. I removed the link and the subsequent bits that related to it to avoid the confusion to the reader that it caused to us. His name has been changed to Mark Pigeon in fairness to him because we didn’t start the debate for the purpose of later publication. There’s a lot of great information in it however and I think other people will be interested in reading it.

It all began when I posted this link on facebook:
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/04/birth-of-a-new.html

His resulting comments on the article spawned the debate that was quickly shifted to private messaging to accommodate the lengthy replies and to keep it one-on-one.

Mark Pigeon

It’s just too bad the writer doesn’t really know his/her science, nor their bible. Just because God can make the world in seven days doesn’t mean that his creation can on it’s own. And the truth is that scientific study shows that the earth isn’t “four and a half billion years old, but only six thousand”. The only so-called science that claims the earth is billions of years old is the theory of evolution, which currently has no proof for it and a good amount of proof against it. As to whether or not what they’re seeing is a planet forming they don’t actually know; we’ve never seen it happen before so we’re not entirely sure what that looks like.

“And if there’s one thing the existence of our world and everything we see in the sky ever proves, it’s that once a clump of matter starts to collapse it tends to keep going.”
What’s this based off of? Our atmosphere and dust is continuously leaving the planet, our galaxy is expanding farther and farther apart, and besides the possibility of black holes we’ve never seen large amounts of dust in space actually come together (by the way you can’t see black holes). And finally, we have no proof that it has been going on for any length of time since we haven’t been watching it with our fancy telescopes the past 1000 years, as well as the fact that everything we see in space has technically already happened since the light takes a while to get here.
And before simply believing either what this article says or what I say you should really do some research for yourself. The great thing about science is that it’s something you can test.
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