But… Will They Accept Verses?

The new journal Science, Religion, and Culture is announcing a special issue focusing on “Atheism, Secularity, and Science”. It suggests the following topics:

• Identifying and outlining Lakatosian research programmes in current atheism and secularity research – their advantages and limitations.
• Philosophy of science critiques of current research on atheism and secularity.
• Conceptualizing types of atheism and secularity.
• Atheism and secularity’s role in the separation of church and state around the world.
• Can atheism or secularity be understood without juxtaposition to theism or religion?
• The role of activism in atheist and secular communities.
• An examination of the rise of Sunday Assemblies or, ‘atheist churches’.
• Developing/advancing ‘secular studies’.
• Developing a comparative terminology for studying atheism and theism together.
• Can atheists be ‘spiritual’?
• Atheism and the rise of the Internet.
• Atheism and ‘analytic thinking’.
• New atheism’ and Scientism.
• Atheism, health, and wellbeing.
• Why are the majority of elite scientists ‘atheists’?
• Why are scientists in general less religious than the average person?
• Atheism, a next step in human evolution?
• Identity politics in Western atheism.
• Atheism, secularism, and children.
• Atheism, secularism, and Transhumanism.
• Science, an ‘alternative to religion’ for atheists?
• Explaining atheism in the cognitive science of religion.

Thing is, I think I have written verses on the vast majority of these topics.

Anyway, they require the “full name of the author”, and I doubt they would accept “Cuttlefish”, so once again, mollusk can’t buy a break in the vertebrate world. Entries are due by December 31st, for those of you willing to play by their rules.

Gee, I Guess Maybe I’m Not An Atheist After All

I’ve missed the point of atheism—missed it all along—
I thought I was an atheist, but now I know I’m wrong:
An atheist hates God, you see, because he loves his sins
(It says so in the bible, and the bible always wins).

An atheist loves cruelty; an atheist loves death;
Defending immorality with every lawless breath
Their ideal life is meaningless—it’s nasty, brutish, short—
I thought I was an atheist; I’m nothing of the sort!

Don’t ever ask an atheist, “You’re godless—tell me why”
They’re atheists, remember—all they’re gonna do is lie!
I, myself? I would have answered, but I clearly did not know
It’s all hating God and loving sin—the bible tells us so!

In a world of chance and chaos, where the godless blindly grope,
There’s no beauty in a sunset—there’s no poetry, no hope—
All is ultimately pointless, so it’s meaningless as well,
And at death, these unbelievers face eternity in hell.

Only God has love and kindness, as the atheists will learn
They’ll be sorry they denied Him, as unendingly they burn
There’s a lesson for the godless, which they eagerly ignore:
They could love God if they wanted… they just love their sinning more

From a silly little Gospel Centered Arminian Blog, a screed, “The Point of Atheism.” It’s nothing you haven’t seen before dozens of times–the author was witnessing to an atheist (“Jason”), and ignored everything Jason said. See, the truth is:

The reality is that the point of atheism is simple: Romans 1:18:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Atheists simply hate God because they love their sins. This is the point of atheism.

It doesn’t matter what Jason told him. It doesn’t matter what I myself might say, or what any given atheist organization might say, or if hypothetically every atheist in the world agreed on one definition, but that definition disagreed with Romans 1:18 it would simply be more evidence that atheists are lying sinners, or sinning liars, or some such.

The truth is that when I observe a sunset and Jason observes a sunset, we both look at it through the lenses of a prior worldview assumption. He looks at a beautiful sunset and he sees nothing more than randomness taking place. He believes that nothing caused this sunset and it just exists by chance. I look at the same sunset and see the hand of Yahweh (Psalm 19:1-6). Jason has no hope. I have hope. Jason has no faith (well he does in Darwinian evolutionary theories) and I have hope in God. Jason lives a pointless life. I live a life where I seeking to not only love God but to help others to love Him along the way. Jason does good to others (at least he said he does) just because he is a human who evolved from a lower substance but I do good because I am created in the image of a good God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Atheism doesn’t produce hope. It produces death. I don’t doubt that religion can be equally as evil but I am not calling people to a religion. I am calling people to repentance and the truth in Christ (John 14:6). I don’t want religious people. I want disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). I want people to love Christ and obey Him as Lord (Luke 6:46-49; John 14:15). I want people to bear the fruit of the Spirit by the work of the Spirit among them (Galatians 5:22-23) which is where true goodness comes from. I want people to obey God and His moral law by His grace (Titus 2:11-12).

What does atheism produce? Does it produce hope in people? Does atheism lead to great human compassion and acts of kindness? Where are the atheist groups feeding the poor, serving the sick and dying, giving hope to those who are struggling with life? Where are the atheist hospitals? Where are the large segment of atheists going forth defending life, morality, and purity?

And we could point to those atheist groups, and because they don’t agree with a particular narrow biblical definition, they will be ignored. Water off a duck’s back.

So why even bother writing this? Because the Arminian site, if you look at it, appears to find one group even more objectionable than atheists (I’m sure a similar pattern will hold for other groups, but this one was presented prominently). That’s right… Calvinists. As is so often the case, the big acrimony is reserved for those who are in the church down the street. And the internecine bickering is observed, and some of us find it much ado about nothing… and that is often step one toward atheism.

Not a hatred of god. But hey, don’t take my word for it. I just love to sin.

Apparently.

PS. As the cherry on top, at the end of the post, he links to a Ray Comfort video.

Sophisticated … Something.

I needed a few vital groceries
So I laced up my shoes and set forth
But I’d somehow forgotten my compass
So I didn’t know which way was North!

It’s just down the street that I’m heading
And I’ll hope against hope for the best
The store’s on the left when I get there
But I don’t really know if that’s West!

If I don’t have True North to depend on
I don’t know I can trust Left or Right
“Two Blocks Down” is just meaningless drivel
If I don’t have True North in my sight!

So I sit here–afraid to go shopping
I can’t drive to the market or mall
All directions are now without meaning
Without North, I know nothing at all!

So… yeah. My aggregator points me to a place that thinks C.S.Lewis had something reasonable to say about atheism:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

- C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity, p. 32

Thing is, this is the best they have to offer. And it’s shit. And I’ve addressed it many times before. In fucking verse. And if they can say “you have to read the sophisticated theology before you can say shit”, then I can say “you have to read my whole site first, then you can try to address what I haven’t already dismantled.”

An Atheist Town Council Prayer

The town of Greece, NY, as a result of their recent court decision, is going to have a town council opening prayer delivered by an atheist. This has left a segment of the Christian population utterly befuddled; when the bible is the only book you need, you are not likely to have a dictionary handy. As both articles and comments show an astonishing lack of imagination or understanding on the part of these concerned Christian citizens, I offered the following comment at the link above (for whatever reason, though, my comments never show up, so I have reproduced it, with additional comments in verse, here):

To pray, by definition, can mean to entreat, to beseech, to implore–to make a request of a person or persons. The verb is not restricted to communion with a god, but may include communion with our fellow citizens. If I were offering the opening prayer, I would beseech the council to remember that they serve *all* the citizens of their community, not just those who share their religious views. I would implore them to look to the constitution and laws for their guidance, instead of to a holy book that many in their community do not follow. I would entreat them to put themselves in the place of these others in their community, as their own bible tells them (Matthew 25:40). I would pray that they use their critical thinking, not merely their faith, in fulfilling the obligations of their elected office.

I beseech the worthy council
To remember, as we pause,
That they serve the constitution,
And the people, and the laws;
They are here as public servants
It is us they represent
By, and of, and for the people
Thus, they serve by our consent

I entreat them to remember
During arguments or fights
That minority positions
Do not lead to loss of rights;
That our freedom of expression
Will protect us as we rant—
We can favor our religion;
It’s the government that can’t.

I implore my fellow citizens
Here gathered by my side
To remember that we use
The constitution as our guide
The majority can’t bully—
We’re protected from attack,
If we heed the constitution
Then the founders have our back

And I pray to every one of you
The bold, the brash, the meek
If you hear or read my words,
Then it’s to you that I would speak
Let us gather here together
Cos there’s work that must be done
So let’s work with one another,
We the people… every one.

“So Help Me…”

As I waited in line at the local Town Hall
(They do cars; they do dogs; I had both)
The woman ahead of me, newly elected,
Was given her swearing-in oath

“Do you swear or affirm to this long list of stuff?”
It began, though it seemed a bit odd:
With “affirm” in the text, as a secular nod,
It still ended with “so help me God

The woman assented; she signed all the forms,
And got herself ready to go
Then paused for a moment, and said to the clerk
“I’m an atheist, though, you should know.”

The state makes assumptions about our beliefs
Which are wrong, as this incident proved
That phrase has been haunting us quite long enough
And it’s high time we had it removed.

Just a quick little nothing–This actually happened at CuttleTown Town Hall today; I was so happy that A)there are atheists running for various town positions, and B)they aren’t shy about saying so. It has long bothered me that all of our local swearings-in contain “so help me God” in the official language; when I had jury duty a while back, there were at least 3 atheists on our jury (one, like me, simply did not say “so help me God”, while the other didn’t realize he had the option of staying silent). The judges spoke with us after each case, asking if there was anything about the process that could be improved… at the time, I just wanted to go home, and since we had an obnoxious minister on the jury as well, I did not want to start something that could take quite a bit of time. Yeah, I probably should have said something.

Point is, I am very glad that my new representative *did* say something. And I did tell her so, and thanked her. Sadly, after the Greece ruling, I don’t think “so help me God” will be going anywhere any time soon.

“Atheism Is An Assumption…”

My aggregator just pointed me at a fairly heavy-handed piece that claimed “atheism is an assumption, not a reasonable conclusion from the evidence“. And while atheism is very often a conclusion (including, frankly, most of the substance of the linked piece), I absolutely agree that there are times when atheism is an assumption. Thing is, it has to be. And anyone who is not blinded by their own ideology would agree:

Let’s assume God exists—for some value of “God”
Let’s assume this existence is more than façade—
There are many contenders—which one gets the nod?
Which God is assumed to be true?

We could start with Apollo, or Odin, or Thor,
Quetzalcoatl or Ra, perhaps Yahweh, or more,
Maybe one we’ve forgotten, though worshipped before,
But, just one. Or, it could be, a few.

If the Christians are right, but they don’t all agree,
Then which one of their thousands of sects could it be?
Is their God just one god, or divided in three?
To a father, a son, and a ghost?

Just consider the options—it’s really quite fun—
There are thousands of gods, so which god is the one?
And since each bears the burden of “why not, well… none?”
The assumption of God is now… toast.

The linked piece (here it is again, just in case) holds a highly skeptical standard over cosmic origins (“big bang”) and evolution (or, as it is called, “Darwinian, fully atheistic evolution”), but drops those standards precipitously to consider “evidence about the life of Christ” (hey, there’s evidence, and then there’s evidence!)

Ok, here’s the deal. The assumption of atheism is, frankly, a requirement. True Christian Believers should welcome it; only by assuming there is no god can they demonstrate that the no-god hypothesis is inadequate, and that theirs is right. If we start off by assuming the existence of god, we cannot conclude that this god exists, other than circularly.

So yeah, let’s start off with the assumption that there is no god. And work from there. And if there is evidence of a god (which one?), let us present that evidence, and require evidence for this god over that one.

What? No specific evidence for a particular god? We have to assume the existence of this god, and look for proof against?

Atheism is an assumption of naturalism. This is trivially true. But if you like, we can start out with any number of assumptions, and reach atheism as a conclusion. The linked article disingenuously conflates assumptions and conclusions… and frankly, it must. It can’t make an argument for its own religious views without making the same argument for tens of thousands of competing views. Atheists are wrong? Yay, Zeus!

Or… which god shall we assume exists?

“Under God” Suits In MA, NJ

Public schools are, it seems, now alleging that pledging
Allegiance to flags, and to gods, is the rule;
“Under God” makes the word “indivisible” risible—
Laughable, really, for kids in their school—
Of course there are children abstaining, explaining
Their worldview prevents them from going along;
They’d say “under god”, but it’s blather; they’d rather
Say nothing at all, than to say something wrong

These kids will all face brutal mocking—it’s shocking,
That good Christian children would treat them this way
But kids know, the way to defeat them, is beat them
Till, bleeding and bruised, they have learned to obey
The truth is, the pledge that they’re saying is praying—
It separates children, by form of belief…
Just read Seuss’s tale of the Sneetches, which teaches
That such segregation leads surely to grief.

The latest lawsuit is in New Jersey.

I’ve already seen comments on some sites asking if, should the atheists win, they will accept the settlement money that all says “in god we trust” on it. Ceremonial deism, my ass; the judges ought to read the comments sections sometime (protip: never read the comments section!), to see just how often that phrase on our money is used to “other” us. The purpose of the phrase is not to recognize a god; it’s to recognize a class of others to call second-class citizens.

The pledge and the motto are trivial things to a judge, but are markers of cultural privilege to the poor put-upon martyred 80% majority in this country and don’t you ever forget it, majority rules we are a christian nation commenters on the internet.

“Coming Out Atheist”

So Greta Christina’s new book is out now. As was expected, it is excellent. When she offered a copy for me to review, my only question was “what sort of verse form do you want the review in?” To my horror, she said she would love a Sestina. A Villanelle would be acceptable, but her first choice would be a Sestina.

I have a confession. I hate sestinas (I was only capitalizing them earlier to draw attention to the word–I’ll stop now; I know how it annoys some people). To me, sestinas represent effort for the sake of effort. They don’t rhyme, but they follow an annoying set of constraints. I know, I should be (and am) a fan of constrained writing, but I just don’t like the sestina form.

But enough about that. This post isn’t about my neuroses, it’s about Greta Christina’s book.

This verse serves as Greta Christina’s sestina–
It’s not a sestina at all, you can tell
I cannot produce what’s requested; I’m bested–
Instead, she’ll be getting her own sepielle
Some people need help leaving closets, she posits;
She’s written a “Coming Out Atheist” book
There’s lots of advice, well worth heeding–I’m reading,
And strongly advise you to all take a look

Some godless are “out” very loudly and proudly,
Some stay in the closet for decades or more–
The former will find Greta’s writing exciting;
The latter, of course, are the folks that it’s for
Explaining the “atheist” stigma’s enigmas,
She’s firmly in favor of using the word;
Embracing the fact that you’re godless, facade-less,
Ensuring your meaning is properly heard

Your own coming-out can help others–your brothers
And sisters and more, who are trapped in the dark
They’re waiting on you to inspire their fire;
There’s fuel, and there’s air–all it wants is your spark
If faith’s not your thing, then replace it! Let’s face it,
It’s your life to live, and you only get one!
With Greta’s new book as your how-to, time now, to
Step out of the closet, and into the sun!

Containing Atheism, In Saudi Arabia

There’s a piece decrying atheists—
“Contain them!” it opines—
But it’s quite a different story
If you read between the lines…

There’s a very strange article in the Saudi Gazette. On the face of it, atheism is a problem which must be contained:

A number of academics and experts have underlined the need for serious efforts to contain atheism in the Kingdom. Claiming that there is a link between the spread of atheism and extreme religious views, the experts said a moderate image of Islam must be promoted and any doubts youths may have about religion must be addressed in a convincing manner, Al-Madinah Arabic daily reported.

Yes, there is a connection between atheism and extreme religious views, therefore we must do our best to limit… atheism.

Now, I’d have thought extreme religion leads to atheism, but of course I’d be wrong:

Ghazi Al-Maghlouth, professor of Islamic culture at Al-Ahsa University’s Faculty of Shariah, said atheism is not at all linked with religious discourse. It is purely related to the personality of individuals who have some confusion about certain religious doctrines, in addition to having a skeptical mind. They always search for mysteries behind anything and everything and ask questions for which there may not be any clear-cut answers,” he said.

Yes. They have some confusion over questions for which there may not be any clear-cut answers. THis sounds less like “confusion” and more like “understanding”.

According to Al-Maghlouth, even in China, there are three major religions — Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, in addition to atheism. He said that atheism is present in every society in varying degrees. Al-Maghlouth specially referred to the controversial book by the Egyptian philosopher Abdul Rahman Badawi, titled “A history of atheism in Islam.”

In the book, Badawi explains how several Muslim philosopher-scientists and students of the medieval period questioned and often refuted some basic Islamic tenets and eventually became atheists.

So… wait. This article is saying this is a bad thing? That we must prevent people from refuting basic (and clearly refutable) Islamic tenets?

Al-Maghlouth said the media played a great role in promoting atheism in the modern world. “Before the high-tech media revolution, there were atheist tendencies but they did not receive any significant attention. Now, even small atheist elements are receiving wide publicity,” he said while adding that people who are engaged in their own reading and writing are more prone to atheism.

Do you sense the trend I do? Insult atheists by comparing them to philosopher-scientists, people engaged in their own reading and writing, skeptical thinkers regarding questions which have no clear-cut answers?

Oh, I’m not saying the whole article leans that direction. Here’s the closing:

“The fundamental principles of our religion are sublime and candid and they can be easily understood by every man and woman regardless of age. The basic thing is that scholars and preachers have to impart them to the younger generation in a convincing way, without creating confusion and skepticism,” he said.

But for an article nominally against atheism, this is more favorable treatment than we can expect. What’s next, an article–in Saudi Arabia–openly praising atheism?

Yeah, no, I won’t hold my breath.

Revisionist History in “God’s Not Dead”

So… I was looking at something else entirely, when this popped up as something I might want to read. That’s right, an article at the Christian Post… so you know it has to be true. There are commandments (well, one) against bearing false witness, you know.

Anyway… seems part of “God’s Not Dead” (the movie) was inspired by true events. The asian dude in the movie who found Jesus… yup. Totes real.

It was during his time in college that Wang, then an atheist, built a relationship with a professor who began asking him questions about God and showing him evidence for the existence of a deity.

“A Harvard professor, a professor of pediatrics, and a believer, saw the status of mind that I was in, confused and in crisis,” Wang told The Christian Post in an email.

“He knew that because of his medical expertise, I would listen to him out of my respect of his medical knowledge. So he saw an opportunity, to guide and influence me, to broaden my understanding of life, to a broader prospective by introducing faith in my life which could help answer the questions that I had and for which I could not find answer in science.”

Note–his words, not mine. I am not bending this to say that a college professor saw a student in crisis of mind and decided to proselytize…I am merely reporting that this is what happened. Note: confused and distraught student, Christian professor.

Wang recalled a conversation where his professor asked him how he could believe that a car could somehow been created in the absence of a creator but yet assume that a brain had come about randomly.

“Right there and then, he opened a door, in my life, and I found God, found Christianity, that could provide the answers to the questions that I was asking.

Again, I hasten to say, these are not my words. It is Wang who is either mis-remembering, or accurately remembering incompetent faculty.

You don’t need my interpretation; you can read his story yourself.The story of a lost student who was pressured by a pushy faculty member… Pretty much the story of “God’s Not Dead”, right? Wait. lemme quote again:

Wang also said while Kwo, “the Chinese student character,” does portray part of his life story, the doctor also sees much of himself in the main character Wheaton.

“Some of the arguments that I made in the original book God’s Not Dead, with regard to the evidence of existence of God, was put into Joshua’s mouth, in his brilliant presentation of the evidence of existence of God. So, in essence, sort of half of me, in the original book, has gone into this main character Josh,” he explained.

Real life: insecure student from China is preached at by Christian prof.
Movie: Atheist prof challenges Christian student, Chick track ensues.

It’s based on a true story! Well… a story, anyway.