Thursday, August 10, 2006

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Part 2 (UPDATED!)

Some have called my previous blog "intolerant." I know it is. A couple of blogs ago, I told everyone to check the Wikipedia entry for Sam Harris, as he epitomizes the beliefs of myself and many other up-and-coming hardcore atheists. Like him, I am openly advocating a form of intolerance, where we take religion off its pedestal and expose it to the same logical scrutiny we use in our everyday argumentation and decision-making. Religion is not an ethnicity, race, gender or class (though it may be the cause/effect of these things) -- it's a set of beliefs, and should not be sacred or beyond reproach, as moderates would have us believe. Islam is a fundamentally violent, hateful religion, as is Christianity. The fundamentalists of all religions have it essentially right (hence the title "fundamentalists"), but are allowed to operate because of moderates and the demands of "tolerance" which they hide behind. Check Harris' Wikipedia entry; it's fascinatingly refreshing.

I therefore stand by my assertion that anyone with a beating heart and a functioning brain eventually embraces atheism, no matter how many friends it costs me.

Next I would like to point everyone to my buddy Micah's blog page -- my two previous blog entries were born from comments I left there (please excuse the redundancy). It began as an expose on the papyri which the LDS church's Book of Abraham were based on (and, upon their re-discovery 40 years ago, disproved Joseph Smith as a prophet of God), but has since devolved to address the moral relativist justification for religion (which is essentially what all religious discourse eventually boils down to because it's the only leg theists have to stand on and they know it). It's good readin' with pictures and everything!

Other than that it's been kind of a slow summer (other than the Middle East spiraling into all-out war in the region and the Bush Administration's blatantly opportunistic stall tactics), so here's some of my favorite news pieces of the last few months:

Hate groups are infiltrating the military and using it as training/practice for their coming race war. Dumb, sick fucks.

The White House has changed its mind about the Gitmo detainees' access to Geneva protections. And two years ago they called us flip-floppers!

The URL is self-explanatory: On a related note, working for Costco rules -- any company whose praises are sung by Mother Jones magazine has to be fucking cool!

The Feds have been giving The Hope Line some noise about privacy issues and taxes, eventually setting up a competing service and cutting off their funding. 1-800-SUICIDE will be turned off Saturday. It's a little late to make a difference now, but check their site and MySpace page anyway; add them as a friend, sign their petition, give them money and flood your Senators with irate letters about this extremely fucked-up situation. I promise it'll make you feel better about yourself.

Midterm elections are coming up! I'll skip the requisite "get registered and vote you apathetic bastards" routine and get right to the fun shit: here's a post about how to hack a Diebold Voting Machine -- you know, those electronic ones Utah and many other states will be rolling out this election! Get ready all you impoverished, non-white folks -- your votes are about to be rendered truly meaningless!

And San Francisco has added yet another (mostly symbolic) reason why I want to move to their fair city.

Lastly, can I get a "fuck yeah" from everybody who loves video games and doesn't support the war in Iraq for Joe Lieberman's defeat in Connecticut's Democratic primary? Finally! I've been sick of that asshole's dozen-year crusade against video game violence (and by extension, parental responsibility) since I was in fucking elementary school -- he was the first senator's name I learned! The witch is dead, bitch! On a slightly more relevant note, could his defeat mean that liberals in this country have finally grown some fucking spine, become proud of their leftist beliefs and sick of right-leaning Republi-crats? Could Hillary Clinton be the next to fall before the phoenix-like wrath of the new, unapologetic left? Let's fucking hope so!

(UPDATES: I fixed a few broken/dead links, Micah's blog among them -- Micah has deleted his MySpace account, but information on the Book of Abraham [sans Micah's caustic-yet-informative commentary] is not hard to find -- Wikipedia is a good place to start. Also, The Hope Line has earned $10,000 in donations and will be able to keep 1-800-SUICIDE open for two more weeks. They still need donations to stay open but at least the immediate pressure has been lifted.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Justification for Being an Ostentatious Asshole

This began as a blog comment, but it spiraled out of control into essentially a personal manifesto concerning just why I deride religion oh-so-much.

When confronted with any anti-religious stance (no matter how much evidence one has to back it up) the near-universal reaction from theists is "why attack religion," "to each his own," "it offers so much good," "who cares if it's based on falsehoods," etc. -- followed by charges of intolerance, faithism and so on. There is a simple answer to all these points -- it's no exaggeration to say that religion is either directly or indirectly responsible for every atrocity in human history. Show me an abomination and I'll show you the religious tie. The crusades. The inquisition. The holocaust. The war on drugs. The war on terror. Show me a place people are being oppressed and/or have limited access to rights, power and/or resources and I'll show you a religious motivation (though many times masquerading as an ethnic/governmental one). It also retards progress and is not only the root but the primary purveyor of every single one of what sociologists refer to as the "-isms." This is universally acknowledged, but the difference of opinion comes when people try to either minimize the impact of some of the "-isms" (primarily heterosexism) and/or justify religion on the grounds of all the good it supposedly does socially and offers personally.

This is where a key difference between religion and governments comes into play. Like governments and regimes, religion is institutionalized and systematized, but unlike those things, religion is also personal and individualistic, albeit masquerading as spirituality or beliefs. Because of this, religion, like governments and regimes, can not only be the perpetrator of grand atrocities, but can also be the motive behind them, even when they're committed by said governments or regimes. And because of this, religion, unlike governments and regimes, can also be the cause and perpetrator of thousands of smaller, more personal and painful injustices, such as the alienation, abuse, marginalization and derision suffered by atheists, women, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered people and any other misfits whose ideas and personalities didn't jive with the dominant pseudo-theocracy.

Happiness and purpose are wonderful things -- but, like charity and morality, they are objective and not derived from or reliant upon religion. Because of this, in a hypothetical, completely atheist world, these things would still exist for all the same people, just from different places and for different reasons.

So religion offers nothing that is both good and unique, and is inherently destructive, detrimental and limiting. So there had better be a damn good reason to justify it's very existence -- and this is why it's such a big deal whether or not there's any truth to religion. To back bold claims and assertions requires bold evidence, and religion has none.

There are plenty of writings by people a lot smarter than me attempting to reconcile the inconsistencies, inadequacies and imperfections inherent in faith and religion. And there are plenty of writings by people a lot smarter than them calling their answers what they are -- argumentative jokes (those by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and the U.'s own Deen K. Chatterjee are my favorites). The theists argue from emotion and personal experience rather than keeping all arguments within the realm of logic and philosophy, where meaningful religious discussion must occur.

Some believe its fine to have religion, just not one that is wrong. When argued within the realm of argumentative logic, religion -- all religion -- is shown to be wrong. And for those that think that God is as impossible to conclusively disprove as he is to prove, you're wrong. The burden of proof lay with the faithful, and God (or any omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity) and faith essentially cannot be proven or defended without using faith to do so, thus begging the question (the writings of David Hume illustrate this beautifully).

To the faithful, the religion which supposedly derives their shallow happiness, outmoded morality and their precious "purpose" is something they think about perhaps a few times a day, but Utah's Amendment 3, which they voted for on essentially religious grounds, is a crushing weight on someone else which they feel constantly. One's right to worship foolishness stops as soon as it interferes with another's rights.

You see, unlike The Da Vinci Code, what's at stake here isn't something as abstract as "the truth" -- it isn't whether people are mass-believing a lie. What's at stake are very tangible things such as gay rights, reproductive rights, women's health rights, class struggle, minority and ethnic rights, civil liberties and Democracy itself, for it is reliant upon secularism. Atheists aren't trying to be vindictive to institutions that have trampled them all their lives -- we merely understand what's at stake here and realize that the root of it all is religion, which has hid behind false claims, faulty logic, moderation, charity, ignorance, indoctrination and "tolerance" for far too long. It is not intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance (wordy, I know, but no less true). Hating stupid people is not the same as hating a specific race -- the fact that one could even compare the intolerance of ignorance with racism is ridiculous. Ignorance, religion and all the "-isms" have a very symbiotic relationship, and together they constitute a systemic threat which must be confronted and dealt with by the very mindset we militant atheists and secularists are espousing. It wouldn't be out of the question to call us revolutionaries, for this is merely the foremost frontier in the ongoing struggle for human rights and progressivism.