This Weeks Reader, December 8, 2007  

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Here's some of the posts that I read this week that I thought you guys might enjoy.

I'm not angry -- or am I?
I was going to finish up by saying that I'm not angry at religion, and that most of the time the things that really annoy me are lies -- lies and deliberate obfuscations. I was going to say that when I hear about the bad consequences of religion: war, torture, death by exorcism, ostracism of those outside, credulity and vulnerability to charlatans, slavery and the oppression of women and homosexuals . . . well, most of the time, while I pity the religious who are caught in their false worldviews, and wholeheartedly support efforts to abolish the suffering caused by religious fundamentalism, really I find it very difficult to be angry at anything other than the lies people tell. I'll blame them. I know there are other factors that lead to the evils of religion, and the injustice of this disproportionate assignation of blame might bother me if I had any sympathy for lies, but I don't.

Stages of Grief Over My Loss of Faith
By the end of that first week, I realized that I no longer believed. The Christian literature was contradictory. The Bible was inconsistent. The Christian concept of God was incoherent. The apologetics were logically flawed. I was in emotional, spiritual and psychological shock for several days. I could think of nothing else but my loss of faith and the fact that I would never be able to recover it. I barely functioned at work and at home. I now realize that this period of shock was the second stage of my grieving process.

New Atheist Discussion Group
If you are an atheist, I want to pick your brain about how you manage your life “without gods.” I am forming a cyberspace group where we can chat about how atheists like us can live righteously, passionately, safely and well. I really want to learn from you and learn especially how you handle life events that believers handle with belief.

Seventeen: The Age of First Sex in the West
Teaching kids how to deal with premarital sex involves much more than merely teaching them to use a condom. Among other things, it involves teaching them a whole morality, a whole sexual ethics, and even a sexual etiquette.

34 Unconvincing Arguments for God
Part of Pascal’s Wager states that you “lose nothing” by believing. But an atheist would disagree. By believing under these conditions, you’re acknowledging that you’re willing to accept some things on faith. In other words, you’re saying you’re willing to abandon evidence as your standard for judging reality. Faith doesn’t sound so appealing when it’s phrased that way, does it?

Tonight’s the Night
He then asked, “is there anything else?” I hesitated, realizing that this was probably my best opportunity to be forthright and said, “I don’t think you’ll want to hear this, but I don’t believe in Christianity anymore.” He answered that he’d had a feeling that I’ve been having some questions lately, so he wasn’t surprised. We talked some more about where each of us is theologically (I’m an atheist, he’s a very liberal Christian, can’t quite get to the deist mindset). He revealed where some of his thinking has taken him in recent years, some of which I knew, but he filled in some blanks. I revealed where I am now, intellectually, and a bit about how I got here.

Conscious Thought and the Meaning of Life
“I am not the sort of person who has sex on a first date”, she declares. But a month or two later, she’s on fire to tell you about the new lover she’s met — and you happen to notice they had sex on their first date. Such behavior often indicates the person’s sense of who they are — their self identity — is not derived so much from simply observing themselves, as it is derived from an attempt on their part to find themselves in conscious thought.

The Grinch and the True Meaning of Christmas
It's easy to get disgusted with Christmas. It's this ever-escalating festival of gorging oneself, and then -- like some sort of penance for all the gorging -- getting reminded that you're supposed to be thinking about Jesus. But if Jesus were really the true meaning of Christmas, the clergy wouldn't have to keep reminding people of it. And if you believe in the standard model -- either Christmas is consumerism or it's Jesus -- then you've missed the warm and simple reason why the mid-winter festival of lights has been such a beloved and enduring tradion across so many different centuries and cultures.

Why, as an Atheist, I celebrate Christmas.
Just go see the video.

How Sweet the Sound: Atheism and Religious Music
But since I've been spending so much time writing -- and thinking -- about atheism and religion, my feelings about religious music have become completely different. Not my thoughts, you understand, or my opinions. My thoughts and opinions about religious music are very much what they ever were. It's a purely emotional response. The response is, "This is fucked-up. I don't want to listen to this."

And I don't like it.

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