Why Are You An Atheist?

I mentioned in passing yesterday how recent polls have shown a marked increase in the number of people that identify themselves as non-believers. One study shows that the number has doubled in the past 2 decades with 15 percent saying that they do not identify with any religion, the only group that has shown increases in all 50 states. Why this growth?

I can only speak for myself but that information got me thinking as to why I became a non-believer.

Obviously, everyone is born a non-believer, often only becoming a believer in one form of religion or another after years of indoctrination by their parents and/or the environment they grow up in. I am no different having been raised Protestant going to Sunday school and Sunday services without fail for most of my formative years.

All through those years while going each week without complaint outwardly, I felt that what was being taught didn’t make any sense and the older I got the stronger that feeling got. After leaving home for the military I stopped going to church altogether and to be honest never gave religion any more than a passing thought for the next 20 years or so.

Recently I began wondering why religion held no place in my life especially considering that I now live in the heart of the Northern Bible Belt where “clinging to guns and religion” is not just a slogan and where there is a church on almost every street corner. Given the fact that I grew up indoctrinated in Christianity, why then did I shun it despite being in a perfect position to continue the faith?

I’ve done a lot of reading on this since then and I’ve heard many stories from other non-believers. Many often revolve around the person in question not being able to get around the contradictions in the bible or the unprovable nature of religion in general, the latter reason is especially prevalent with those holding high opinions of science. I myself think that both of these probably contributed to why I have long been a non-believer, the stories in the bible after all are quite hard to believe. But this is certainly the same thing all but the staunchly (aka blindly faithful) religious deal with daily, it isn’t called “faith” for nothing now is it?

Then I read something somewhere, and hopefully whomever said it will forgive me for not remembering where I saw it, but this one quote explains perfectly why I have decided to be more than just a quiet non-believer and complete my conversion from a Christian to an active Atheist.

“The biggest reason for the increase in Atheism is Christians…”

Think about that for a minute, I did.

I honestly believe that I would have gone through the rest of my life just ignoring religion as I had for the first 20 years after leaving home. Then recently I began noticing a whole new phenomenon from my perspective (I know, it’s always existed). Christian fundamentalism.

Of course as Americans, we have been exposed to fundamentalism for most of our history and we got a re-enforcing lesson in the craziness of religious fundamentalism in spades on 9/11 but to me it wasn’t us, it was them. Now though I was noticing more and more some of the same type of intolerance, hypocrisy, and downright hatred of others being exhibited by my neighbors, it was no longer just them to me, it was us as well.

In the past decade we have had a horrible child abuse scandal come to light, perpetrated by the Catholic Church. We have had a President, George Bush, using the biblical mythology of Gog and Magog as one reason for invading a foreign country not to mention his willingness to use religion for political gain and policy decisions. We’ve seen states like Texas attempting to re-write public school text books using the bible and we are witnessing the downfall of the party of Lincoln because of, I believe, the strong influence of the religious right. (It’s amazing isn’t it, the party that quotes the Constitution like scripture is likely hurting because of their ignorance of it?).

These are just a few examples of many that motivated me and this post has been a long time in the making for me. It took me 25 years to come to the self-realization that I have always had the “foundation” so to speak to be an Atheist only needing religious fundamentalism to trigger my complete religious de-conversion. Now that I have come to that conclusion I can honestly say that I am more content than I can ever remember and remarkably I can thank Christians for that. Apparently religion is good for some things after all…

If you are a non-believer or a doubter, what if anything motivated you?

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Abortion By The Book

I have my own thoughts on the subject but I will leave that debate to the usual suspects here locally but I did find this post highlighting some of the biblical references to abortion enlightening to say the least.

The God of the Bible is pro-abortion

God will punish women by aborting their fetus through a miscarriage.

Give them, O LORD–what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

Hosea 9:14

God teaches the use of a bizarre ritual using cursed “bitter water” to abort a fetus who was conceived through infidelity.

Numbers 5:11-21

God orders Moses to kill every Midianite woman who was no longer a virgin. (many of these women would obviously have been pregnant)

Numbers 31:15-18

God promises to destroy the infants of Samaria and rip open the stomachs of pregnant women.

The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.

Hosea 13:16

God allows the pregnant women of Tappuah to be ripped open.

At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.

2 Kings 15:16

God commands the killing of infants and nursing babies.

Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

1 Samuel 15:3

God repays your enemies by destroying their babies.

Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us. He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Psalms 137:8-9

I know, I know, all of the above are Old Testament stuff and as I have been told, cherry picking from the Old Testament should be left to those that have been doing it for most of their lives, those professing to be faithful.

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Pope: Atheists Responsible For Global Environmental Changes

Just blame the Atheists for everything.

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature’s relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the ‘final authority,’ and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.”

So the wingnuts go from denying climate change to blaming Atheists for it. Is there any wonder that the number of non-believers is growing every day? Intolerance and hypocrisy will do that…

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Penn And Teller Have Catholic's Panties In A Bunch – Again

I came across this release from the Catholic League last week in regards to an upcoming Penn and Teller Showtime show, Bullshit!, that takes aim at the Vatican. Of course knowing that the Vatican is well known for their sense of humor (yes, sarcasm) I wondered what could have them in such an uproar.

The Catholic League was calling for Showtime and CBS (Showtime’s parent network) to cancel their contract for the show due to Penn and Teller’s history of being less than nice to the Church and it’s leaders.

CBS management has spoken to the Catholic-bashing duo before, but to no effect. Though we are not calling for CBS/Showtime to cancel the upcoming episode, we are saying that the time has come to pull the plug on their show; their contract should not be renewed.

Ok, not being much of a fan of the Catholic Church myself, I was really wondering now what was going to be on the show that had the church so worried, especially considering that by the wording of the press release, it was obvious that they had not seen the latest episode in question. So being the good little non-believer that I am, I setup the Tivo and recorded the show when it aired on the 27th and below I’ve summarized the 4 main points Penn and Teller hit on. (I have the video but looking around the web it is apparent that unlike Bill Maher and HBO, Showtime doesn’t see the benefits of allowing clips of Bullshit! to go viral on the web)

First they look at the story of an Italian comic who criticized the Pope and his staunch stand against homosexuality in her act. She said some obviously less than nice comments about the Pope meeting up and spending time with some large gay men in hell (use your imagination from there). The Vatican as you can imagine wasn’t laughing and pressured Italian authorities to press charges against the woman who for awhile was in danger of spending 5 years in prison for expressing her opinions.

The Italian courts eventually dropped the case for obvious reasons and to make the story even more bizarre, the Catholic Church then tried to spin it to their advantage by saying they had forgiven her despite the fact she still uses that bit in her act to this day.

They next went into the homophobia exhibited by the bunch of old men with the funny hats that make up the rules for the millions of Catholics worldwide. Specifically they discussed how in 2008 the Vatican opposed a UN resolution that would have decriminalized being gay. Even in the 21st century, 81 countries actually put gays in prison for no other reason than that they are gay and 7 of those still put them to death. Hypocritical? Considering the church does not consider homosexuality a sin (sex out of wedlock is and they are against gay marriage so gay sex is a sin by extension) and that some studies have anywhere between 20 and 50% of all Catholic priests being gay, I would say yes.

In the 3rd segment, Penn and Teller then went after the obvious hot button issue whenever the Catholic Church is discussed, the ongoing sex abuse scandal and cover up. Specifically they touched on the recent revelations from the release of the “Crimen Sollicitationis” written in 1962 that told church leaders how to handle all accusations of child abuse by clerics which provides proof that as far back as 1962, the Vatican has been trying to cover up the hobbies of some of their priests.

“The document thus imposed absolute secrecy on the conduct of the trial, even after it had ended and its verdict, favourable or unfavourable, had been put into effect. An oath of secrecy was to be taken not only by the members of the tribunal but also by the person or persons denouncing the priest, by the witnesses, and by the accused priest himself, who was free to discuss it only with his defence counsel”

Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI was not immune in this scandal either. It seems that before he was the Pope, he was the “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” and issued a confidential order that all sex abuse investigations were to be held secret for at least 10 years after the victim had reached adulthood, again under penalty of excommunication.

This letter reminded them of the strict penalties facing those who revealed confidential details concerning enquiries into allegations against priests of certain grave ecclesiastical crimes, including sexual abuse, which were reserved to the jurisdiction of the Congregation. The letter extended the prescription or statute of limitations for these crimes to ten years. However, when the crime is sexual abuse of a minor, the “prescription begins to run from the day on that which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age.”

Of course despite this damning information, Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict will never be prosecuted in the US because in 2005 President George Bush granted him full immunity from prosecution. Nice…

Finally, Penn and Teller delved into the Vatican’s unwavering condemnation of birth control, specifically Casti Connubii, the Encyclical written in the 1930’s that among other things bans the use of birth control including condoms and diaphragms. More hypocrisy? You mean the fact that those that have vowed never to have sex are still making rules on sexual activity for those that do? Absolutely…

This strict adherence to the Casti Connubii isn’t just affecting the size of the average Catholic family, it is killing people. One needs not look any further than parts of Africa where 1000’s of women die each year from AIDS and birth related complications. These deaths are due at least partly to the Catholic Church’s ridiculous stance on birth control making condom availability and use almost non-existent among the mainly Catholic population.

There you have it, the Bullshit! episode in a nutshell that has the Vatican, via the Catholic League, upset. Of course I left out most of the f-bombs and snide comments like how “being a gay Catholic seems like a Jewish Nazi to us” that Penn Jillette is known for but I am sure you get the idea.

It is obvious why the church would be upset with this show but my question would be to them, like it or not is any of this false? Did Penn and Teller make this up or is it a somewhat embellished satirical look at the true recent history of the Catholic Church? I am leaning towards the latter and would hope that Showtime and CBS do the right thing and give the Catholic League’s protests all the attention it deserves. Throwing it in the circular file…

UPDATE: Here’s the video for however long it stays up

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An Now For Something Completely Different

Ok, not really as quitting unreliability seems to be an everyday occurrence in Sarah Palin’s world but considering how she rarely seems to follow through on a commitment, one would have to wonder why she still has such a large following willing to book her for anything in the first place (maybe they are puppies following their master)? This time she reportedly failed to show up for an event right up her alley, a rally promoting an Alaska ballot measure aimed at making it illegal for teens to get an abortion without telling their parents.

Organizers of an Anchorage event that has been billing Sarah Palin for weeks as a star speaker were left scrambling Wednesday after learning that the former governor won’t be there for tonight’s event and claims to have never been asked.

It would be at least the fourth time in recent months that an anticipated Palin speech has fallen through after Palin and her camp disputed they had ever confirmed it. That includes the brouhaha over whether she’d speak at the annual congressional Republican fundraising dinner in Washington, D.C., this summer.

Democrats can only hope that she runs for the White House in 2012. Her doing so will do more to further their chances for 4 mores years than just about any other reason and the fact that the right wing holds her in such high regard is a big reason why they are where they are now. Now if they can just further the WorldnetDaily crowd’s unexplainable love affair with Chuck Norris, the Democrats could have their ultimate 2012 GOP dream ticket, Palin/Norris.

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His Congregation Must Be So Proud

Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church talking to Alan Colmes.

Colmes: Everybody who is gay is a predator?

Anderson: Well, if you disagree with that, that’s fine. But every gay person in the Bible was a predator, from Genesis to Revelation.

Colmes: Well, I don’t know about the Bible, but do you believe that every gay person in the world is a predator?

Anderson: That’s what I believe, yes. And every gay person that I’ve ever known personally has been a predator …

Colmes: Define “predator.” What do you mean by “predator”?

Anderson: A predator as in someone who tries to molest other people, to force people into things that they don’t want to do …

Colmes: So, let me get this straight, every homosexual in the world forces other people to do be gay?

Anderson: I believe that every homosexual in the world is a deviant, is evil, and is a predator that is out to recruit others through molestation, through rape. It’s in the news.

It seems quite obvious to me that this guy is so lost in his delusional beliefs that he would be too afraid to ever get to know a homosexual in real life so all he can do is forward the fundie stereotype.

I’m not sure who I feel more sorry for, the homophobic preacher of the sheeple that follow him. Ok, neither really. They deserve each other and should really think about merging with Pastor Mahan and his St Timothy’s Lutheran church

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Golden Crockoduck

Ignorant people trying their best to ignore or cherry pick science to fit their creationist worldview now have an award. The winner last year was Kent Hovind and some of this year’s worthy nominees are profiled below. Enjoy.

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No Heath Care Reform For You!

Taking a thought from Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi”, South Dakota’s version of that character, John (no Democrat authored reforms for you!) Thune, has finally come out and said what we pretty much knew from the beginning. Comprehensive health care reform will happen over the GOP’s dead body.

In a conference call with reporters, Thune argued that an incremental approach to health care reform is “the only way to end up with a bipartisan bill.” But he warned the greatest hurdle to such a solution could end up being Republicans’ unwillingness to trust Democratic leaders to not use the conference process to rewrite a rifle-shot bill into a fully comprehensive bill.

Ted Kennedy’s death, the Democrat’s missing spine disorder, and the GOP’s puppet masters otherwise known as the health insurance industry have all but signaled that comprehensive health reform is itself on the verge of being taken off of life support unless the Democrats grow a pair and kick this time wasting bipartisan crap. (who won the election anyhow?)

Considering the Democrats’ unwillingness to pursue torture crimes and 4th Amendment violations committed under the previous watch, I am not holding my breath so please excuse me while I look to get a second mortgage to pay for next years health insurance premiums and excuse Thune while he looks to spend the $1,206,176 he reportedly received from the health care industry…

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So Who Should Be More Embarrassed?

St Timothy’s Lutheran church in Charleston, WV, is making news after learning of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) convention vote to allow monogamous gays and lesbians to have larger roles in the church including serving as pastors.

Richard Mahan, pastor of the church first covered the “Lutheran” on his church’s sign and then delivered this message to his congregation, most of whom apparently agree with him.

“I asked that be done because I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I’ve loved for 40 years,” Pastor Richard Mahan told his congregation during last Sunday’s morning service. According to Christian Today news service, St. Timothy typically has 300 to 400 members in attendance each Sunday. So the minister used the sermon to teach his congregants about homosexuality, adding that “We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin.”

Since the ELCA vote specifically leaves the determination on whether to have gay leaders to each church and local synod, the question is who should be more embarrassed over their outward display of homophobia? The pastor, who one would think would know of tolerance, or his congregation that are basically sheeple in the larger flock?

Pastor, maybe you and your congregation should just convert to Catholicism, their gay priests are usually “on the QT” and must remain celibate either way (would not being able to be with the one you love anymore be a deal breaker Pastor Mahan?) so you won’t have to deal with those monogamous gays anymore. Plus I hear they are always looking for collection plate fillers to pay for pedophilia lawsuits members so you and your congregation should fit right in.

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