ReAsonCon 2015 | April 25 | Hickory NC

I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at last year’s ReAsonCon. It was an amazing experience, with atheists traveling from all over NC and neighboring states just to attend. The crowd was enthusiastic and inspirational, and I was very excited to be asked to participate in this year’s event as well.

In addition to me, a number of other familiar names will be there to speak and present, including ACA’s own Beth Presswood. Others you’ll want to come and check out, include Phil Ferguson, David Smalley, Heina Dadabhoy, and David Fitzgerald.

Some of your favorite podcasts will be there representing as well, including Atheist Avengers, Cognitive Dissonance, The Scathing Atheist, No Religion Required, Bar Room Atheist, Atheist Roundtable, Everyone’s Agnostic, Dogma Debate with David Smalley, and more.

If you’re interested in attending and would like more information or tickets, they have an official website up promoting the event and offering the full range of everything you need to know to get there, stay there, and have a great time.

Hope to see you all there!

When you know you’ve butthurt the right people

It’s when they add you to their “Bigotry Map,” that’s when.

It is a well-understood and even tiresome habit of bigots and bullies that they adopt the language of those they oppress in order to make themselves seem righteous in thought and deed. Heck, even old Adolf got into the act with his famous justification for the “racial purity” platform that ultimately killed millions. “By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord!” (Emphasis added, because why be subtle?)

Screaming baby Hitler

It’s not really Godwinning when it’s accurate, is it?

So this is how a noted and infamous hate group of hateful bigots, the American “Family” Association, can convince themselves that those who criticize them and who stand for equality and against discrimination are the true bigots. Because when self-righteousness takes up residence in very tiny brains, it must drag self-awareness into the trash to free up disc space.

And so you get the comical spectacle of the AFA condemning the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling “Christian organizations who support the Biblical definition of marriage as ‘hate’ groups and falsely disseminat[ing] this information to liberal news media,” and they post that right next to a panel proving just what a hate group they really are (by describing LGBT marriage equality as forcing poor put-upon Christians to embrace “sexual perversion”). It would be a lot funnier if folks like this really weren’t so dedicated to hurting actual people.

Check out central Texas, and you’ll find the Atheist Community of Austin on their map, for which we are enormously proud. When the kind of people who call hate “love” and love “perversion” decide you’re the bad guy, you know you’re really on the side of the angels.

Oh…and which “Biblical definition of marriage” are they using again? Because that can get a bit confusing, you know.

Open Thread for AE #906: Matt and Jen

Last Thursday, a very lovely couple of 31 years got married in Austin. The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, immediately set about trying to have their marriage declared void. His reason? They’re a lesbian couple. Yes, these two women who’ve been together for 31 years and who’ve raised two children are a dire threat to the institution of marriage in Texas. In case you were wondering, yep, Paxton’s a fundamentalist evangelical, as well as a craven political panderer. He’s also one of the most mean-spirited assholes on the planet.

[Read more…]

Pascal’s Wager … again

P.S. @ Matt Dillahunty._ You are going to die sooner or later_That is a natural fact. What you assert is there is no God; the God of Bible because He cannot be proven_ Is a fact. You are “Gambling” that there is no God; the Christian God of the Bible_Is a fact. By your own admission the Christian God of the Bible does not exist, therefore you would reject that you possess a soul that is eternal, that will either go to heaven or hell._Is a fact.
FACT_you are going to die someday; are you willing to take that GAMBLE that you do-not have a soul that will live forever either in heaven or hell?
P.S. _ I really believe that Matt Dillahunty is Demon possessed, and anyone that would argue with a Demon will get no-where because it is a slippery slope because Demons are masters of deviation

We get e-mails like this all the time. Matt has answered more than his fair share of these, so I’ll take one for the team. This person singled out Matt, but he (she?) might as well have written it to any AE host, or any atheist for that matter. I’ll refrain from commenting about writing style as that’s just too easy. The e-mail above is unedited.

First, atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. Check the front page of the ACA’s web site. Mankind has invented tens of thousands of gods and there is no reason to believe that any of them are real. Christians are atheists, too, with respect to most gods, but they think their god is special. Is it? I can’t think of a reason. Is it because there are a lot of Christians? There are a lot of Buddhists too, does that make their religion true? Is it because there’s more evidence in support of Christianity? Nope. I don’t know of any solid evidence for the claims of Christianity. Is it because they believe passionately? Would anyone say there’s a Muslim afterlife with 72 virgins just because the 9/11 attackers believed so passionately enough to kill themselves for martyrdom? Of course not.

In nearly all forums where I interact with believers, I ask for good evidence for the claims the believers are making. I’m usually disappointed in what I get. Let me be clear on what I’m looking for. There are lots of bald assertions that believers give, usually claiming this or that about their god. If you don’t have evidence to back up those claims, then please forgive me if I just ignore them. “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” (Christopher Hitchens) Beyond bald assertions, I’ll also disregard falsehoods, deception, logical fallacies, and emotional manipulation. These seem to be the primary tools of apologists. If you have to lie to me, trick me, or manipulate me to believe something, what does that say about that thing you’d like me to believe? It says that even the theist can’t think of a good reason to believe in their god, so what’s left are bad reasons.

I’m pleasantly surprised that you admit that your god can’t be proven. Starting from there, the conversation should go like this:

  • Atheist: Do you have any good reason to believe in your god?
  • Theist: No.
  • Atheist: Thank you for your honesty. Please understand if I don’t believe.

End of story. But in their desire to market their religion, theists go on to give bad reasons.

Yes, we are all going to die. And we’ve heard “Pascal’s Wager” a million times. It’s a really bad argument with at least a dozen flaws. I’ll answer it, though in my own words. I personally have no fear of your god, or any god for that matter. As near as I can tell, the god of the Bible is fictional and I can think of no reason to fear fictional characters. But let’s pretend for a minute that gods are real. Is the goal to choose the one that offers the best afterlife, or perhaps save you from the worst hell? Isn’t that exactly like being a hedonistic toady, or perhaps sucking up to a monster so that you will be spared eternal torments. Maybe it’s both: you can even get to watch the torments of others while basking in eternal bliss. This seems rather sick to me, yet it seems to be what Christianity is promising.

Do you follow the most noble god? The god of the Bible blames Adam and Eve, indeed the entirety of humanity for his mistakes. Later, Yahweh orders Abraham to kill his own son. That story reads to me like a gang initiation ritual. In New Testament mythology, the same god kills his own son because there had to be a blood sacrifice due to a rule he either made up or given to him by some other more powerful god. Appeased, by his actions, he then allows the Jews to take the blame for his alleged sacrifice? Every story about the god of the Bible paints him as a monster. Even if he were real, I wouldn’t follow him.

I’ve made the decision to live my life as if there are no gods. I’ve looked at god claims, and I find them all to be without merit and most likely derived from human imagination. So how will I respond if, after my death I find out there’s some god that wants to torture me? I may not be happy, but I will have a lot of things (assuming “I” continue to exist) that will never be taken away. I’ll have the satisfaction of having lived my life in a sensible and kind manner. I will have the solace of knowing I’ve taken responsibility for my actions and that I will forever be more moral than the monster who is torturing me. In short, I will have my integrity. My integrity is not something I’m going to bargain away for vague promises from an invisible monster.

What will be your legacy when you die? From my perspective, perhaps the biggest claim you could make is that you tried your hardest to be a vector for a disease that has stifled progress, caused untold human misery, and murdered millions. From my perspective, you have hitched your wagon to a delusion. You’ve already pissed away your integrity. How sad.

I wonder, too, if you really believe your afterlife claims. If you’re going to go on to some perpetual orgasm, why hang around only to make the world a worse place? Please don’t let me stop you. I suspect you too have your doubts. If you don’t believe in Jesus why should I?

As for demons, atheists think demons are at least as silly (and unlikely) as gods. Be sure and check for monsters under your bed and sleep with your lights on. Boo! Maybe your invisible friend will protect you.

Now let me respond to the subtext of your letter. If you actually had good reason to believe in your god, you would have presented that. Since you didn’t present a good reason, it seems clear you have none. We both know prayer is a failure or you could have prayed for one ahead of time before writing. Next, if Christianity had any positive value, you could have pitched that. Again, it seems there is no positive benefit. You did offer threats (emotional manipulation). While Islam’s main tactic is murdering those who disagree with them, Christianity relies on lies and thuggery. Death threats are a common Christian tactic to get their way. Lies, like the “Christian Nation” propaganda only show how much a fraud the religion is. With threats of hell, there is usually caveat by the threat giving Christian that he has nothing to do with the threat; they’re just passing it along from on high. Yet I have yet to meet two Christians who can agree on the nature of their god, and as you admit, there is no good evidence to believe in such a good. People like you choose to believe in a clearly evil god. I can only imagine you do so because you identify with that aspect of his storied nature. Ultimately the threats are coming from Christians who believe themselves to be good. This is part and parcel of an evil delusion.

Years ago, Christians actually tortured non-believers, with the idea that coercing them to “believe” was a kind of mercy. Converting them here through torture was thought preferable to the “loving” justice of eternal torment. Fortunately, secular morality has made torturing heretics an anachronism. Christian torture and holy wars have just made more atheists. Regardless, the subtext of your note tells me that Christianity has no merit (you seem to admit that) and you still want me to join you. You want me to shut off my brain, give up my integrity, and become a wannabe thug that excuses the atrocity of the Bible and the murderous fruits of Christian belief. Yet the only think you’re offering is some idea you have in your head that I might get to look down from heaven in a blissful amoral stupor and enjoy watching the torments of my fellow human beings in hell. Wow. What a steaming pile of shit.

I want nothing to do with your religion.

Statement on the Chapel Hill shootings

On February 10 a man named Craig Stephen Hicks turned himself in to the police after fatally shooting three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC. According to news reports, Hicks was a fan of The Atheist Experience, and had been critical of religion on his Facebook page. The precise motivations of Hicks are not currently known.

The Atheist Community of Austin strongly opposes violence in all forms, whether it is motivated by hatred of someone else’s religious convictions, or a parking dispute. Acts of unprovoked violence may be inspired by a complex combination of factors that include ideology, mental disposition, and the social acceptability of various attitudes. It is overly simplistic to reduce the cause to any one factor. It is vital for believers and non-believers alike to draw a sharp distinction between criticism of someone’s philosophical positions, and the use or threat of deadly force.

We condemn this senseless act of murder, and extend our condolences to the families of the victims.