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Nov 16 2009

Atheist Memes of the Day

Scarlet letter Quick update on my Facebook project, The Atheist Memes of the Day:

Yes, I’m still doing the Memes. I stopped for a few days when my Facebook feed was bolloxed up, but now they’re back.

However, I stopped posting them to my blog every day. It seemed clumsy: it was taking up a lot of room on the blog page, making for a lot of scrolling to get to the more thorough bloggy content. So I thought it might be better to post them to my blog once a week instead.

If there’s a general clamor for me to post the Atheist Memes of the Day here every day, I’ll switch back. If not, I’ll just keep posting them once a week or so.

For those who are just tuning in: I’m doing a project on my Facebook page, The Atheist Meme of the Day. Every weekday, I’m posting a short, pithy, Facebook-ready atheist meme… in the hopes that people will spread them, and that eventually, the ideas will get through. If you want to play, please feel free to pass these on through your own Facebook page, or whatever forum or social networking site you like. Or if you don’t like mine, edit them as you see fit, or make some of your own.

(BTW, if you’re on Facebook, friend me!)

Here are the last few Atheist Memes of the Day:

Our choices for dealing with different religious beliefs aren’t limited to uncritical ecumenalism or fundamentalist theocracy. We can question and criticize religious beliefs we disagree with, while passionately supporting religious freedom and people’s right to believe whatever they like. That’s where most atheist activists are coming from. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

The reason many atheists care what other people believe is that beliefs affect decisions. Including political decisions. Political decisions should be made based on evidence about what works in this world, not on what an invisible being whose opinions we have no way of evaluating supposedly wants in an otherworldly realm nobody can agree about. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across. (Posted the day after same-sex marriage lost in Maine.)

“Believing is a safer bet than not believing” is a terrible reason to believe in God. Which God should we bet on? If we’re believing in God just to hedge our bets in the afterlife, which of the thousands of contradictory religions should we follow? And how would that be sincere belief? Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

If there’s no possible way to show that a hypothesis is wrong — if any possible event can be interpreted to confirm a hypothesis — then that hypothesis isn’t useful. And that applies to religion. If anything that happens, bad or good, can be seen as a sign of God’s existence, then God’s existence is indistinguishable from God’s non-existence. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheism doesn’t mean cynicism, nihilism, or despair. Atheists can and do have happy lives, full of meaning and joy, and with comfort and solace in difficult times. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

“Something had to have made the universe, things don’t just make themselves” is not a good argument for God. If things can’t just exist forever or pop into being out of nothing… where did God come from? And if God can have existed forever or come into being out of nothing… why can’t that be true for the universe? Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Religion is not just a matter of personal opinion or different perspectives. It’s a hypothesis about how the world works and why it is the way it is. And it’s not unreasonable or intolerant for atheists to treat it as a hypothesis, and to point out when that hypothesis is inconsistent with the evidence. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Rana

    They are great. A very well-chosen selection. Always thought-provoking.
    However one general point – please keep these little pithy words of wisdom coming, but there is really no need to embed it in so much padding “this is an atheist meme, they are on Facebook, spread the word, etc”
    You really don’t need any of that description around each quote. It is good enough, and highly appreciated, to just get a little snippet of sense from you each day to pass the time between your more lengthy blog posts. We know what they are. Like a “tweet” I suppose.
    Keep it up anyway.

  2. 2
    chicago dyke

    the war never ends. also, we always lose. that’s the depressing part of being an atheist. you’re drafted into the Cause by declaring your status. from there, it’s mostly drudgery. still, we battle on. what choice do we have? i’m not willing to give up my uterus to the sky fairies.

  3. 3
    Joreth

    I don’t have Facebook, so I get these memes from your blog. I then re-blog them in my own LiveJournal and I tweet them. I love the meme, but sometimes it can be a challenge to condense it into 140 characters. Have you considered doing a Twitter version?

  4. 4
    Gilgamesh

    Gretta – I keep up with you on facebook and here at the blog, I just wanted to say, thanks for what you do.

  5. 5
    techskeptic

    I like them posted here.

  6. 6
    backoffscience.wordpress.com

    So many of these are totally spot on, so good to get some actual positive things in atheism. But you’ve got to see that you can’t criticise the beliefs of religion to religious people. It is a moral act. They can’t accept what you say and keep their belief. If atheists just concentrated on what relgious people did, not what they believe, the world might be a better place. You can’t believe in religious freedom and also believe you are free to try and get the religious believer to say things which would destroy their faith if they did. That’s a conversion attempt, a conversion into nothing admittedly, but a conversion all the same.

  7. 7
    Greta Christina

    backoffscience.wordpress.com: I don’t understand why you think that’s a bad thing. Why is it bad to try to persuade people that they’re mistaken about something? We do it about all kinds of other ideas. Why is it bad to do it about religion?
    Of course I believe in religious freedom. I believe people have the complete right to believe whatever religion they like. I also believe people have the right to believe whatever political opinions they like. But if I think their opinions are mistaken, I’m going to try to persuade them of that. Why is it okay to do that about politics and not religion? How does “I think you’re mistaken, and here’s why” translate as “I think you don’t have the right of religious freedom”?

  8. 8
    efrique

    backoffscience: Freedom to believe as you choose is NOT freedom from ever being questioned or criticized. [If someone wants to criticize my atheism (and many certainly do!) then good luck to them; my atheism isn't so pathetically weak and shaky it can't bear examination. But criticism of ideas about the universe goes *both* ways]
    It’s very much like freedom of expression. You’re free to say what you like, and I’m free to say it’s a load of bollocks. And vice versa.
    Greta – I like the daily version. (If you want to go weekly, well that’s better than not posting them at all.)
    Hey, if you come up with 365 of them you could publish a thought-a-day calendar.

  9. 9
    Maria

    Hey, if you come up with 365 of them you could publish a thought-a-day calendar.
    That is a really good idea. An atheist calendar with one of these for each day would sell, I’m sure.

  10. 10
    Eclectic

    backoffscience: Um, isn’t it better to try to stop mistakes before they’re made? As soon as I understand the intention to make them?
    I’m usually quick to state things like “I don’t think that ladder will support your weight” or “be careful, the floor is slippery” or “there’s no sense going to the store; it closes at 6″ as soon as I understand someone’s intention to do a foolish thing. You could say I’m trying to prevent them, but don’t confuse that with an attempt at coercion.
    And more importantly, if someone is making claims in public that I consider to be erroneous, why do I not have just as much right to voice my opinion? Don’t any arguments for allowing the first speaker to state their claims apply with equal force to me?

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