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9 Great Freethinkers and Religious Dissenters in History


Society & Culture  (tags: activists, culture, education, ethics, freedoms, religion, rights, society )

Kit
- 1162 days ago - alternet.org
What kind of world would we have if a majority of the human race was atheist? Here are some non-believers who left a profound mark.



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Comments

Kit B. (276)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 10:52 am

To hear religious apologists tell it, the triumph of atheism would mean a swift descent into selfishness and chaos. The defenders of the faith argue that atheism inevitably leads to selfishness and nihilism, and that only religion can justify charity or compassion, bind people together in community, or inspire a lively and flourishing culture. But this assertion can only be sustained by ignoring the accomplishments of famous nonreligious people throughout history, of which there have been many.

To dispel the myth that nonbelievers have never contributed anything of worth or value to human civilization, I want to highlight some who've left their mark in the arts, the sciences and the humanities. Demonstrating that the godless count distinguished members of the human race among our numbers is a way to fight back against this prejudice and to demonstrate that we, too, have a historical legacy we can be proud of.

Not all of the people profiled here were strict atheists, but all of them were freethinkers, a broader umbrella term that embraces a rainbow of unorthodoxy, religious dissent, skepticism, and unconventional thinking. It's no surprise that so many influential thinkers and creative types have come from the ranks of these intellectual revolutionaries. Organized religion tends to reward people not for thinking creatively or critically, but for reciting and defending the dogmas of the previous generation. Throughout human history, it has consistently been true that hidebound theocracies have been mired in poverty, backwardness and intellectual stagnation, whereas the most dramatic advances have come about in times and places where people had the freedom to think for themselves, to freely question and debate. The lives of the men and women recounted here bear testimony to this.
****

By Adam Lee for Alternet
 

wolfNoFwdsPls a. (135)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 10:57 am
Methinks, FREETHINKERs would be a much better one than 'atheist's; the latter being such a negative, if not derogative term (invented by the shavelings), and somewhat strange, like e.g. "non-stamp-collector" ... and, anyway, with humankind having invented hundreds (if not thousands) of 'gods', all beLIEvers are mostly-atheists, as they do NOT believe in all but one god (or a few gods); the freethinker is just more thorough by one god.

And, furthermore, 'atheist' is not a good term because it has (at least according to both de and en.wikipedia) two (main) meanings, which ought be differentiated.

THINK ! FREE !!
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 11:03 am

Some Free Thinkers you may not know about:


The Contributions of Freethinkers

•The Contributions of Freethinkers I: Giuseppe Verdi (May 23, 2008)
The great Romantic composer Verdi, author of many famous operas and a powerful interpretation of the Requiem Mass, was described by his wife as a freethinker and very nearly an atheist.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers II: Albert Einstein (July 30, 2008)
The famous scientist Albert Einstein, who was also renowned for his political and humanitarian contributions, was an unabashed nonbeliever. He drew the scorn and ire of theists of his own day, but later generations of apologists have deceptively tried to claim him as their own.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers III: W.E.B. Du Bois (September 27, 2008)
One of the founding figures of the American civil rights movement was a proud freethinker who was unafraid to buck religious orthodoxy.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers IV: Frances Wright (January 16, 2009)
A fearless progressive and social reformer, Frances Wright fought for the causes of feminism, equal rights, science, abolitionism, and freethought long before any of those ideals were popular in wider society.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers V: Ann Dunham (February 25, 2009)
The mother of President Barack Obama was a humanist and a freethinker who taught her son ethics and reverence without recourse to the supernatural.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers VI: Abner Kneeland (May 13, 2009)
A former Universalist preacher turned freethinker and the last man jailed in America for blasphemy, Abner Kneeland life upheld the freedom to think and to speak however we see fit.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers VII: Zora Neale Hurston (July 15, 2009)
Zora Neale Hurston, a famous black author of the Harlem Renaissance, was a freethinker who recognized the glory of the cosmos and the tragic beauty of our own mortality long before later scientific popularizers like Carl Sagan made the same point.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers VIII: Pearl Jam (December 28, 2009)
The famous, trend-setting American rock band Pearl Jam has many songs whose lyrics contain themes of science, progressive causes, and atheism.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers IX: Richard Leakey (April 21, 2010)
Richard Leakey, the renowned paleoanthropologist and passionate conservationist, is an atheist motivated by a sense of deep connection to the natural world.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers X: Gene Roddenberry (August 13, 2010)
The creator of Star Trek was a humanist whose famous sci-fi series reflects his ethical and utopian vision of a peaceful world without religion.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers XI: Ursula K. Le Guin (March 26, 2011)
One of the 20th century's most beloved and popular authors of science fiction and fantasy is also an outspoken feminist and freethinker.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers XII: Asa Philip Randolph (July 4, 2011)
While Martin Luther King Jr. couched his call for equal rights in the language of religion, there were other prominent civil-rights leaders who were outspoken freethinkers and humanists, such as the tireless and influential labor organizer A. Philip Randolph.

•The Contributions of Freethinkers XIII: Wole Soyinka (September 30, 2011)
Wole Soyinka, the first African writer ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, is also a staunch advocate of peace, democracy and transparency who's stood up to dictators and fought against corruption in his home country of Nigeria.
****
http://www.daylightatheism.org/series/the-contributions-of-freethinkers


We live on planet of 7 billion plus humans, of that number approximately 1.2 billion are Christian of one denomination or another, another 1.3+ are Muslim, do the math. That leaves the majority of people on earth that believe or ascribe to religions of their own cultural and historical preference. One must expect that in a world of over 7 billion people there will be those who find the ability to sort through the many religious dogmas unsatisfying and turn to a larger openness in the right or wrong of life. Not all people who are labeled as atheist are totally godless, nor are those who make the choice to live without a god, evil, in fact as this article and the names presented here indicate; one can make strong and vital contributions to the human race without the intrusion of religion in their lives.

 

. (0)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 11:10 am
i can re-phrase what KiT B. wrote, but there is no need. The only thing I can add is, for the last 20 years or so, there has been a gradual movement toward God as a single entity. I believe people are seeing "God" as a Divine force in nature and in ourselves- which are one.Belief has become more Hindu in feel verses the scripted religions of the West: meaning all religions that end in "ism"
 

Kenneth L. (314)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 1:34 pm
Re Einstein and the quote "the famous scientist Albert Einstein, who was also renowned for his political and humanitarian contributions, was an unabashed nonbeliever."
That depends on the term 'nonbeliever' since Einstein stated "I'm not an atheist" and "My position concerning God is that of an agnostic". In fact Einstein railed against atheists ("....there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.".

I suppose they're out there, but I find it hard to believe anybody could think someone could never have any great intelligence or abilities or value to the planet simply because they didn't believe in a Supreme Being or God. The two things don't even correlate as far as I'm concerned. One is a belief, the other is ability to use one's wits (wisdom).

The bottom line underlying this is that it IS a reality and fact that there ARE many human beings on this planet who are either atheist or agnostic or religious (with various religious beliefs) or spiritual etc. and if tolerance of all isn't practiced it can make things very screwed up. As long as human rights are not violated nor the laws of the land in a free society violated then anybody is free to practice whatever they wish. Otherwise everyone is hell to live with lol.

 

Robert S. (115)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 3:16 pm
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47577163/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.T8FGRcXXvIM

Copy and paste....I did.
 

Robert S. (115)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 3:27 pm
Of course Mr. Leakey is deeply engaged in wishful thinking to propose that more facts, however indisputable, can sway those who, it seems he may not have noticed...reject knowledge out of hand which contradicts their "beliefs", and who in fact would be satisfied to erase knowledge and call that erasure...cleansing.
 

Pia M. (88)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 3:27 pm
Shouldn't it be "9 great _American_ freethinkers and religious dissenters"? (I know very well that Albert Einstein was originally German but had to leave the country because of certain racial prejudices of the time.) I must admit I'm a great ignoramus and never have heard of half of the persons on the list...

Here's my very subjective list of 9 great European freethinkers and religious dissenters (in alphabetical order):
1. Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), English novelist, poet and critic. And one of the greatest drinkers of our time - I raise a toast to him! (No, literally. I'm drinking Russian sparkling wine while I'm writing this. Oh what a decadent Saturday night.)
2. Sir David Attenborough (1926-), British broadcaster and naturalist. I grew up with BBC's nature documentaries, that's why.
3. Sir Charles "Charlie" Chaplin (1889-1977), English comic actor, director and composer. My favourite actor since my childhood - and one of the greatest geniuses in the history of cinema.
4. Walter Crane (1845–1915), English artist and book illustrator. Arts and Crafts movement just happens to be particularly close to my heart.
5. Stephen Fry (1957-), English actor, playwright, poet, anything. I've been in love with him since 'Jeeves and Wooster'. And it doesn't matter that he's gay.
6. Ayaan Hirsi Ali (1969-), Somali-Dutch feminist and politician. You can only admire her courage.
7. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher. You've never really been an angsty teenager if you haven't read Nietzsche.
8. George Orwell (1903-1950), English author. Because Big Brother is watching us all.
9. Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977), Italian film director. Three words for you: "Roma, città aperta".
 

Yvonne White (233)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 4:17 pm
I agree with agnostics for the most part.. I'll believe it when I see it.. thank goddess I get regular updates!;)
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 6:59 pm
Why are atheists so in need of publishing their disbelief to the world? Is it that they perhaps have a burning need to have their doubts extinguished. Yes, they are doubts as no one on this this tiny planet knows for sure what is fact regarding a higher power or a random happening.
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 7:07 pm

I doubt that those who are atheist, free-thinkers or agnostic care whether or not any one agrees or disagrees with them. Those listed here are all extremely well accomplished in and during their lives.

What happens on earth is important, how we treat and accept one another is important, the other questions I leave to others to worry with.
 

pam w. (139)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 7:34 pm
http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/101-famous-atheists

++++++++++ I'm happy to live in a time when we are "coming out" in record numbers. Luckily, we live in a society which allows dissent and does NOT mandate a particular religion. And I can criticize any religion without being in fear of my life at the hands of some self-proclaimed JIHADIST. (Of course, if you're an abortion service provider in Kansas, all bets are off.)
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 7:44 pm

I'm guessing that it wasn't all that much fun during the years of the witch trials or the Inquisition. Still in many parts of America a wise person keeps a lack of religious following to themselves. We have some very uncompromising so-called Christians these days that demand, "believe as I do." Whatever path they are walking it is neither godly nor Christian but, it is most certainly un- accepting and deeply judgemental.
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 8:25 pm
Guess the truth hit home. Perhaps not as "extremely well accomplished" as one would have others think. More importantly, as one thinks of themselves deep inside. Do they have the same pursuits as they previously had or have they lost themselves in some artificial world of no touch and feel online friends. Ask yourself the question, what happened?
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 8:43 pm

I don't know you, Janelle but I have to ask did you read that before posting? It makes no sense. What truth? Your truth? Did you even read the article before getting yourself all tied in a bunch? So you think these people are not accomplished, how sad for you.
 

Charles O. (209)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 10:24 pm
Very interesting, Kit. Ideology -- secular religion -- can be even more harmful than the standard theistic religion. Ideology and religion both sever our direct engagement with reality, and replace that engagement with a detached sheep-like conformity to dogma and fashion.

The freethinker does not NEED to BELIEVE in god, because he (or she) experiences god directly. He maintains a living connection between mind and universe. This connection is the realm of the eternal: The truth he explores exists apart from time and space. Two plus two, for example, will always equal four. It was just as true in Roman times as it was today.

Here is how Emerson puts it, in "History":

> There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; What a saint has felt, he may feel; What at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.

-- Emerson, "History", 1844

. .

I'm afraid that I must disagree with Einstein! According to the article, Einstein said:

> "God does not play dice with the universe"

I have concluded just the opposite. God IS chance. God is the element that makes the universe more than just a predictable machine. God creates new possibilities. "New" implies chance; if the possibilities could be derived in predictable fashion from the old or existing creation, they would not be new!

In my article on aleatory democracy, I come to the conclusion that our American founders invoked "god" as a way to introduce an incorruptible chance element into governance. Chance, like god, is not subject to human control, and that is good if you're looking for a simple incorruptible way to select your political representatives! Faith in god is equivalent to faith in statistics! In a patriarchal culture obsessed with controlling everything, nothing can be more subversive than chance. So we have quite an irony, if chance and god are one!

These are exciting and mischievous ideas that I haven't explained very well.
 

Charles O. (209)
Saturday May 26, 2012, 10:58 pm
Janelle Wong writes:

> Why are atheists so in need of publishing their disbelief to the world? Is it that they perhaps have a burning need to have their doubts extinguished. Yes, they are doubts as no one on this this tiny planet knows for sure what is fact regarding a higher power or a random happening.

. .

Let me tell you my experience, Janelle.

I was raised in the Cold Holy War period. I was led to believe in the Soviet Threat -- in much the same way that some people in 2003 were led to believe in the "Iraqi Threat". Then, starting in 1979, I gained access to first-hand information, and I saw that my beliefs were very much at odds with reality.

Where did my mistaken beliefs come from? What led me to cling to them? These questions led me to look at the motives or feelings behind the beliefs. I found, for example, a need to feel important, a need to have a purpose, a need to believe in our own superiority, and even, paradoxically, a need to be afraid.

I found similar motives behind my religious beliefs, and at that point, the beliefs lost their hold on me. The beliefs could not compete with the world of feeling I was able to perceive directly. I saw that they were artificial constructs. They looked silly and false.

Compare beliefs with feelings. Feelings are their own justification. They exist for their own sake. Why do I exist? -- the inquisitive feeling that prompts the question is itself the answer. I feel, therefore, I am.

. .

The meaning of the word "belief" has changed over time. Belief, today, is seen as an irrational intellectual operation: E.g., I believe in Santa Claus. This kind of "belief" is useless and ineffectual: Belief does not have the power to make Santa Claus real.

But look up the etymology of the word "belief". The word once meant "to love", "to esteem", "to hold dear". Now THAT is something that DOES have the power to make a difference! Attitudes change the world. Religion was once a way of life, an engagement with the universe, or with a level of reality that precedes the universe.
 

Sarah M. (29)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 12:25 am
Thanks for the article! Noted.
 

Kenneth L. (314)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 12:53 am
I'm pretty certain most every human being has several deep questions they have asked themselves, to themselves, by themselves such as: "Who am I?" "What am I?" "What is all this?" "Where did I come from?" "What happens when I die?" etc.
One thing I have observed is that many people ridicule other's beliefs. Most religious/spiritual beliefs are an attempt to answer those deep personal questions as above. Ridiculing another's beliefs does not absolve onself from answering those questions for themselves. You can ridicule someone for believing a pink cow is the creator of all as an attempt to explain things, but that doesn't absolve YOU of answering those personal questions for yourself. And of course, whatever YOU think or believe regarding those deep questions can be ridiculed by others. You know it. So that's a useless worthless circle to simply go around ridiculing other's beliefs.
Even an atheist or agnostic is attempting to answer those deep questions when they say 'there is nothing can be known about it" or "there is no God" or "there is no truth to be found in religion or spirituality" or "I am simply a composite of chemicals and electrical impulses in a brain and when that brain dies I am no longer (and never was anything other than chemicals and electrical impulses in fact)".
And of course some 'answer' those deep questions by ending up simply not caring, or giving up ever knowing or finding out. It's deep apathy and comes after trying and failing.
All this comes down to each individual.

 

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:17 am
Oh brother, give me a break. More athiest stuff and more anti-God sentiment. Don't attack my belief system and I won't attack yours. We are supposed to be on here for a cause, not to tear down people that choose to believe in a Creator.
 

Abdessalam Diab (149)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 5:15 am
I may disagree with this idea.There is no doubt that the church for example played an important role in the civil rights movement in USA.The role played by Martin L.King is remarkable.In Poland too the church played a role in the political uprising against communism although some Polish deny this role.
In the Islamic world during the middle ages Muslim scientists gave the world a lot.Algebra,sociology,physics,astronomy,chemistry,the zero,Arabic numbers and more were introduced by Muslim scientists.Ibn Sina book of medicine was the main reference for a long time in Europe.....etc.All those scientists were positive Muslims.
In Islam,however,there are six verses that implicitly teach us to practice tolerance even with Atheists, and tell us to treat non-Muslims with respect but yet disapproval..'
" IN THE NAME OF GOD , THE MERCY- GIVING , THE MERCIFUL
* SAY 'O DISBLIEVERS
I DO NOT WORSHIP WHAT YOU WORSHIP
NOR ARE YOU WORSHIPPING WHAT I DO
I WILL NOT WORSHIP WHAT YOU HAVE WORSHIPPED,
NEITHER WILL YOU WORSHIP WHAT I WORSHIP
YOU HAVE YOUR RELIGION
AND I HAVE MY RELIGION

Salam
 

John B. (141)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 7:13 am
Thanks Kit. Read and noted.
 

Lindsay Kemp (1)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 7:13 am
Thank you
 

Charles O. (209)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 7:45 am
Hello Abdessalam D. --

Is Islam an intellectual belief system? Or is it a way of life and a system of character-building attitudes?

If a religion teaches virtue, then I support it. If a religion teaches self-awareness, then I support it. If a religion teaches compassion and justice, then I support it.

If a religion teaches people to believe in something fictitious and perform mindless rituals, then I'm not interested in that religion.

We have the power to see God everywhere. Nothing is what it appears to be on the surface. Science tells us that this table is made of invisible atoms. If we can accept that, then maybe we can go one step further and ask what atoms are made of. They're made of stardust, which is another way of saying that they're made of God: They transcend the material world.

What is beauty made of? What is color made of? It's made of consciousness, which is another way of saying that it's made of God.

So why believe in something that is obvious? Why should I believe in my coffee cup, when I can see it and touch it? Belief inevitably raises doubt and divides us against ourselves.

Religion should be based on perception, not belief. We perceive the dignity and beauty in another human being. We perceive the goodness in others. What more do we need?!
 

Frank S. (490)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 10:27 am
Unfortunately, Freethinkers have also made some great mistakes also, just as some of their religious counterparts have made. Perhaps none greater was that made by Albert Einstein, for now we have the power to destroy the entire world and everyone in it, in one hour’s time! It is so sad and ironic that he was such a pacifist and that he spoke out against war, but then played such an important role in inadvertently opening the door to the age of nuclear war.

Albert Einstein – “His suggestions led to the creation of The Manhattan Project -- and the first two atomic bombs it spawned -- in 1945. Einstein was saddened when he heard of the destruction in Japan, and later campaigned for a ban on nuclear weapons.”- howstuffworks.com

http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/famous-inventors/what-did-albert-einstein-invent.htm

“In November 1954, five months before his death, Einstein summarized his feelings about his role in the creation of the atomic bomb: "I made one great mistake in my life... when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification - the danger that the Germans would make them." (Clark, pg. 752). – doug-long.com

http://www.doug-long.com/einstein.htm

 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 10:33 am

Some quotes I like:

"I maintain that the opprobrium cast upon the word Atheism is a lie. I believe Atheists as a body to be men deserving respect... I do not care what kind of character religious men may put round the word Atheist, I would fight until men respect it."
— Charles Bradlaugh

"I cannot conceive of a god who rewards and punishes his creatures or has a will of the kind we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egotism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in Nature." - Albert Einstein

”I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don't have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.” - Isaac Asimov

“A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition." - José Bergamín

“Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” - comedian George Carlin

”The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” - Brennan Manning

“One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.” - Arthur C. Clarke

“My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety toward the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.” - George Santayana
*************

Whether one uses the word atheist, agnostic, free-thinker, humanist, is not important. It is relevant that each human make the search for goodness and humanity within themselves. Saying "I believe in god" and following through with daily actions are very different. Personally, I strongly object to the corporatization of religion, why should it be that one must spend millions on a place of worship if god is for all of mankind?

Neither the atheist nor the deeply religious do me any harm, I accept that each has their own needs and fills those needs as fits their life.


 

Janelle Wong (71)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 10:43 am
Why Do Atheists Promote Atheism?:

Many people find it odd that atheists have web sites and post threads that explain, discuss, and defend atheism. If atheism is not a philosophy or religion, what's the point? If atheists don't believe in God, why spend so much time discussing God?
 

pam w. (139)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 11:08 am
Because, Janelle, we live in a world where the religious demand their "freedom" to force that religion on the rest of us!

Atheism is NOT a "religion." A religion is belief in magic...the supernatural.

ATHEISM literally means "without theism"....without the belief in gods, goddesses, mystic magic, miracles, etc.

Frankly, I've spent far too many years of my life silently listening to religious people proselytizing about their faith. Now, it's our turn to talk about our lack of faith and our reasoning for that atheism.

It has nothing at all to do with "promotion." It has everything to do with speaking up for logic, reason and freedom FROM your religion.

You see...the fact that a billion people believe something does NOT make it true.
 

Kenneth L. (314)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 11:28 am
Why do atheists promote atheism? I don't know. Maybe they protest too many religious people actively invalidating them and 'you be doomed to hell boy!' if you don't believe in their particular religion? It's a way of fighting back maybe.

Why do atheists spend so much time discussing God? I don't believe there's an actual Santa Claus but I like the idea of him, it's interesting, it feels good, and when I was a kid I was told if you're good he'll give you presents....

You have to admit it's hilarious where there is more than one religion on earth, and most say THEIRS is the 'rruth' and the 'right' one, and all the others are wrong....YET EACH ONE IS SAYING THIS...lol. Figure that one out lol.
Even within religions there's disagreement as to who is the 'right' and 'true' one. I once had a Catholic nun tell me Catholicism was the only 'true, unvaried, unaltered' religion of Christianity and the others weren't.
Rather amusing isn't it.


 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 11:47 am

Very true Kenneth, I attend a Catholic university for my freshman year. The brothers were wonderful teachers, the nuns had a "habit" of scolding. It's amazing that Catholic is the only true Christianity when the word catholic means universal.
 

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil (468)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 1:38 pm
Why shouldn't an Atheist have a web site, Janelle?
PEOPLE have websites and some PEOPLE are atheists -- LOTS AND LOTS of people are Atheists. It is a part of our Identity.
You sound like those persons who believe that "It's ok to be Gay, just DON'T TALK ABOUT IT! I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO HEAR IT! OR DEAL WITH IT! IT SHAKES ME UP TOO MUCH! JUST SHUT UP! STF UP!"
SAME thing!
Some of us who are Atheists -- or Gay, or Bisexual, or Transsexual, or whatever we are, Orchid Growers or Cookie Bakers, maybe! -- just LOVE to talk about our beliefs, or our "thing", because, well, because that's what "turns us on", what we ENJOY, what we are PROUD OF, what is kindof OUTSTANDING about us among other things -- if I was the best Cookie Baker on the block, I'd be talking it up all over the place! and MEETING people with whom it was FUN to talk about the Same Interests........
It is UNNECESSARY TO ASSUME that being an Atheist -- or Gay! -- is something "shameful", something to be "defensive about", something one feels one ought to "hide".
Myself, my Sister -- and my Daughter! -- were FORTUNATE ENOUGH to GROW UP COMPLETE ATHEISTS.
We never had to go thru the "process of dis-believing" that many others of our generations did.
We are NOT "constantly examining our assumptions" or "looking for answers". Being an Atheist, is as much a "Fixed" part of the "core identities" of myself, my Sister, and my Daughter, as being heterosexual or bisexual or married or unmarried or whatever we choose to be!
We are NOT "constantly trying to convince ourselves and others"; but this stuff DOES have a way of coming up in conversation, and some of us ENJOY the challenge of such conversations; as well as the possibility of making new Friends, if not Converts!
Then there are Atheists -- PLENTY of them! -- who NEVER have such a conversation in their lives! It's quite possible and common, to be an Atheist and just mind your own business..... some of us are just not that sort of person!
We Atheists see ENORMOUS ADVANTAGES in our way of Thought -- and, like Voltaire and other Great Thinkers, in our way we too would like to SPREAD THIS "GOOD NEWS" {Gospel?} to the Entire World! We think IT WOULD BENEFIT THE WORLD THE WAY IT HAS BENEFITED US {for example, again, my entire loving and close family!}. A world without religious sectarian violence...... Imagine {as John Lennon sang.....}.
 

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil (468)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:07 pm
Janelle says; Why Do Atheists Promote Atheism?:
I think I answered that. It's FUN, it's ENJOYABLE, it's SPORT, it's ENTERTAINMENT, it's SELF-EXPRESSION -- but MAINLY, it's EDUCATION, it's performing a VERY VALUABLE PUBLIC SERVICE, it's DEFEATING IGNORANCE WORLDWIDE. {Such as the crazed, provincial notion that "my religion is the only valid way of looking at the world"! What could be more narrow and ignorant than THAT!!!} We get the INEFFABLE SATISFACTION of those who KNOW they are DOING GOOD in the world....!

... If atheism is not a philosophy or religion, what's the point? If atheists don't believe in God, why spend so much time discussing God?
Aha, the old Trick of trying to "catch" one in "Verbal Contradictions".
If it is or is not a philosophy or religion, the point of discussing Atheism is Fun, Amusement, Education, Enlightenment, Verbal Sparkle, Passing the Time, whatever the "point" is of discussing ANYthing -- even dog poop! It DOES NOT HAVE TO BE "CLASSIFIED" under one Rubric or another! It can be discussed AS ITSELF! Also you can call it a philosophy or a religion or a non-religion or Dog Poop if you want, if it makes you happy. THAT DOESN'T CHANGE ONE SINGLE THING.
{This mania for "classifying" things, by the way, comes from the Medieval Scholastics..... those guys that gave you Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo..... that, except for maybe Heaven, even the CATHOLICS don't believe in any more.....}
Actually I bet most atheists discuss Sex more often than god.... after all, most world religions are based on sex one way or the other, controlling it..... we discuss other religions a lot, {NOT the same as discussing "god" -- by the way, atheism is NO GODS, not just "there isn't YOUR god", but, "there aren't ANY gods -- Zeus or Odin or Thor or Astarte or Mithras or Ahuramazda......}. And, we atheists discuss Ethics and Morals and the Good Life..... we don't have a thousands-of-years-out-of-date handbook telling us what to do, we have NO CHOICE BUT TO THINK FOR OURSELVES ON THESE IMPORTANT MATTERS. So, we DISCUSS them.....
I subscribe to an Atheist Journal..... we NEVER, NEVER run out of a VARIETY of things to talk about..... have a Rich Intellectual Life. {I feel SORRY for limited Fundamentalists of all stripes....}
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:09 pm

Just a note to add to the many already very good comments. Atheists, or whatever word suits your own preference do not proselytize. We may share our ideas, we do not ask or nudge others to join in, what we each believe or not is as different and unique as each person. There are indeed web-sites, social sites, meet-up groups and in some the main topic might be about Dawson's take on a new book or just asking what each person thinks about a new book or it may be politics, sex, and just general thoughts on things happening in the world. We tend to be readers, we tend to be polite, we are not judgemental of others, we do not condemn. Sure those are generalizations, but mostly very true in my personal experience. In contrast to the slams on atheists, mostly that they are hateful people, I'm sure there are some that hateful - so are religious people. All of us are just human and all are looking for acceptance.
 

Fred Krohn (34)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:20 pm
Religion may focus our lives - or become a crutch for the irresponsible. 'If there were no gods, humans would have had to invent them!' Like any other ephemeral human concept, faith can either be used properly to help maintain a historical perspective on human civilisation, or to entrap said civilisation in a web of war, hate, and depravity into which all believers end up vanishing in wars. Whether one chooses to follow for enlightenment, for simply something to dock to between life's voages, or to wholeheartedly engage in the hate and greed written into various religions by bad edittors and erratic translators is ultimately the individual's responsibility.

Cue up Jathro Tull, 'Jesus Save Me' and 'Wind Up'
 

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil (468)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:29 pm
I don't find it NECESSARY to "proselytize" Atheism. Once Atheism is allowed to "come out of the closet", and show itself and not be forcefully suppressed, it has a way of MAGNETICALLY ATTRACTING people!
THAT is precisely why the Xians want to make Atheism "socially unacceptable", something to be ashamed of, defensive about.
If Atheism were just allowed, EVERYWHERE, to be "out there" with all other belief-systems; well, there'd be NO STOPPING THE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH OF ATHEISM! {We are kindof seeing that now, actually! Makes one feel GOOD!}

One can be, as I consider myself to be, an Atheist with profound Spiritual beliefs such as "the Oneness of everything"; but still NOT call that "Oneness", a "god" like Thor or Allah or Jahveh or Jupiter or the Roman Emperor Valerian {made a God the moment he died}. The "oneness" is just the "oneness". It didn't take a god outside of that oneness to "create" that oneness -- now THAT would be a contradiction!

Atheist is not the same as "total materialist" -- altho SOME atheists like to define themselves that way.
See, even atheists can have polite disagreements among themselves!
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:49 pm

A poll last year expressed that nearly 20% of Americans now identify as Atheist, that's very close to the number who identify as evangelical. Open those doors and let the sunshine in, it's okay to believe what you want. I can not remember which poll company it was on Care2 last year and could be looked up on Google.
 

Jane H. (139)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 2:56 pm
noted with great interest!
 

Craig Zimmerman (86)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 4:27 pm
An athiest society is no guarantee of tolerance. kindness,and compassion. Some of the worst mass-murderers in history including Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and others have been athiest.
 

Charles O. (209)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 4:43 pm
BMutiny writes:

> One can be, as I consider myself to be, an Atheist with profound Spiritual beliefs such as "the Oneness of everything"; but still NOT call that "Oneness", a "god" like Thor or Allah or Jahveh or Jupiter or the Roman Emperor Valerian {made a God the moment he died}. The "oneness" is just the "oneness".

The converse is also true: You can be an "atheist" (non-BELIEVER) and still EXPERIENCE of god.

Belief becomes an issue only when applied to things that aren't real. I don't have to believe in my coffee cup or my computer, because I experience these objects in various ways and the experience makes belief irrelevant.

Our modern civilization reduces religion to mere belief, because god is perceived through feeling, and feeling is something we are not encouraged to develop and explore. We pay no attention to the feel of our thoughts, so our thoughts exist in a vacuum where anything is possible and nothing can be proved. The result is an interminable speculative debate about "the existence of god".

The debate ends only when we gain self-awareness and begin to ponder the nature or feel of subjectivity. We discover that subjectivity (consciousness) lies beyond space and time: Two plus two will always be four and red will always be red. Eternity is here and now. All times and places co-exist.

We can define god in various ways. Now that we know that consciousness is infinite, we can, for example, define god as the universal mind. Some may then tell us that consciousness is a delusion: Fine, god is a delusion, then.

Do we need god? -- that is the real question. Do we need this "delusion"? What does it accomplish?

One can argue either way, but I generally come down on the side of needing god. The material world is plagued with insoluble problems. If this superficial world is all we choose to see, then we are soon driven insane with despair.

We need to be able to step back and experience at least a taste of the subjective realm. We need to dream, we need to love, we need to see beauty, we need to feel dignity. To the extreme materialist, none of these attitudes are real. He is blind even to color: Where we see a glorious shade of blue, he sees a frequency on his spectrometer. When he reads a book, he does not see ideas and stories and characters: He sees ink and paper and nothing more.

God is what enables us to step back from this brick wall of materialism. God is our way of reminding ourselves that we do not live in a lifeless space. There's more to the book than ink and paper, much more!
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 6:34 pm
Craig Z, writes - "An athiest society is no guarantee of tolerance. kindness,and compassion. Some of the worst mass-murderers in history including Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and others have been athiest".

Again - Why Do Atheists Promote Atheism?:

Many people find it odd that atheists have web sites and post threads that explain, discuss, and defend atheism. If atheism is not a philosophy or religion, what's the point? If atheists don't believe in God, why spend so much time discussing God?
 

Antonia Windham (6)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 8:11 pm
Atheism is a philosophy, an evidence-based belief that guides some in how they view the world. And most people seem to like promoting what they believe is true.
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 10:04 pm
Thanks Kit--great post, better comments.
 

Past Member (0)
Monday May 28, 2012, 4:45 am
Great post
 

Pia M. (88)
Monday May 28, 2012, 6:04 am
Every time someone posts an article about atheism, we see comments how "atheists are so in need of publishing their disbelief to the world", "why do atheists promote atheism", "don't attack my belief system and I won't attack yours" et cetera. Now ask yourself, how would you react if the article was about "9 great Hindus in history" or "9 great Zoroastrians in history"? Or even better, change the word "atheists" to "Africans" or "homosexuals". Similar comments about any other minority would immediately label you as a racist / homophobic / intolerant bigot, but atheists seem to be an accepted target for hatred.

"Many people find it odd that atheists have web sites and post threads that explain, discuss, and defend atheism." Many people find it odd that girl scouts, historians and electricians have web sites and post threads that explain, discuss, and defend scouting, historical research and electrical systems. If scouting, historical research and electrical systems are not philosophies or religions, what's the point?
 

Kenneth L. (314)
Monday May 28, 2012, 6:05 am
Craig Z, no one has said 'an atheist society' is a guarantee of tolerance and no atheist could be a mass murderers etc. Your point starts from an incorrect base.

In my opinion a human being is quite capable of screwing himself up, and being screwed up, regardless of belief or non-belief in a religious God. He doesn't need any external help. He is quite capable of doing himself in if it comes to that.

Janelle doesn't reason or address opposing comments, she simply copies and pastes her own previous question lol. Not valid.

 

Antonia Windham (6)
Monday May 28, 2012, 7:17 am
Someone mentioned how non-believers have to answer the difficult philosophical questions for themselves. That's much harder than just being given an arbitrary set of answers. And sometimes the answer is we just don't know, probably never will, and we've just got to live with that ignorance. I've no doubt some turn to religion because they need to feel they actually know.
 

Charles O. (209)
Monday May 28, 2012, 7:55 am
Antonia Windham writes:

> Someone mentioned how non-believers have to answer the difficult philosophical questions for themselves. That's much harder than just being given an arbitrary set of answers. And sometimes the answer is we just don't know, probably never will, and we've just got to live with that ignorance.

. .

If god is truth, then the atheist, in many cases, is closer to god than the believer.

* Where the believer accepts what others tell him, the atheist makes a sincere effort to get at the truth. His mind is open. Even when the atheist concludes that belief is silly, he or she remains open to spiritual possibilities, as science remains open to new theories.

* Where the believer covers up or glosses over the sins of his church, the atheist, with no organization to defend, can avoid hypocrisy.

Like the believer, the atheist is a "child of god". But which child is more likely to please a loving god? -- the child who conforms to peer pressure or the child who uses the mind and other god-given faculties?

 

Janelle Wong (71)
Monday May 28, 2012, 9:34 am
Antonia Windham (2)
Sunday May 27, 2012, 8:11 pm

"Atheism is a philosophy"

Interesting. As philosophy is the rational investingation of the truth, on what basis does one conclude with absolute knowledge (the truth) that our place in one of the many universes is simply a random happening?
 

Abdessalam Diab (149)
Monday May 28, 2012, 9:46 am
Charles writes "Hello Abdessalam D. --
Is Islam an intellectual belief system? Or is it a way of life and a system of character-building attitudes?

If a religion teaches virtue, then I support it. If a religion teaches self-awareness, then I support it. If a religion teaches compassion and justice, then I support it.

If a religion teaches people to believe in something fictitious and perform mindless rituals, then I'm not interested in that religion."

You are free my friend to chose what you may support or are interested in.This was exactly the second part of my comment.I can repeat it here if you missed it.
In Islam,however,there are six verses that implicitly teach us to practice tolerance even with Atheists, and tell us to treat non-Muslims with respect but yet disapproval..'
" IN THE NAME OF GOD , THE MERCY- GIVING , THE MERCIFUL
* SAY 'O DISBLIEVERS
I DO NOT WORSHIP WHAT YOU WORSHIP
NOR ARE YOU WORSHIPPING WHAT I DO
I WILL NOT WORSHIP WHAT YOU HAVE WORSHIPPED,
NEITHER WILL YOU WORSHIP WHAT I WORSHIP
YOU HAVE YOUR RELIGION
AND I HAVE MY RELIGION

Salam
 

Pia M. (88)
Monday May 28, 2012, 9:54 am
Janelle, you've misunderstood the essence of philosophy. "Truth" is only one of the subjects of philosophy, and there are various theories and views of "truth". Philosophy, by one definition, "is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument." Encyclopaedia Britannica defines philosophy as "the critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs and an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of such beliefs."
 

Antonia Windham (6)
Monday May 28, 2012, 10:33 am
Answering the question Janelle asked, when looking for the truth you're not likely to find absolute knowledge. Atheism's a belief, based on lack of positive evidence, and it doesn't bring absolute knowledge. I've heard a few say they're positive there's no god and think their belief is provable, but more are honest and just say they don't know if god exists or not but don't believe so.
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Monday May 28, 2012, 10:47 am
Antonia, those that don't know if God exists are called agnostics, not atheists.

Why do you think that it is proveable that thre is not a higher power, that the universes are a random happening?

Pia - philosophy - "the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct"
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday May 28, 2012, 10:51 am

For many the ever growing and therefore, changing elements of science is comforting. We know that all things change from our own observations, those observations are only scientific when they can be repeated within many settings by many observers. The Egyptians worshipped the sun and many gods specific to the needs of their society, so it is with most ancient societies. A god was accepted as a wish for fertility of humans and animals, fertility for crops, the wish that the Kings would lead people to win wars and protect their society and culture.
I will not digress into into history or formation of the western religions, you either know or simply accept what is told. In today's world, we are more presumptive of our gods, our prayer or wishes are not as much for the community as they are for our own lives.

Those who have thoroughly read and studied the many bibles, may well find them lacking. It seems that even those who firmly believe in god, must acknowledge the most basic right of free-will, therefore, those who find religion lacking may find a new path to follow. For many it is a path of reason and intellect, for others science, for some just the ability to think freely, devoid of religious dogma.

It's confusing that these decisions cause so many disharmony within their lives. I wonder if those free-thinkers cause deep believers to question why anyone would not follow the mapped course. We are each individuals, each have different life experiences, and each need to find what gives them the greatest comfort as we travel through life.
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:01 am
It's one thing to question or even disbelieve God as described in many religious teachings. It is entirely another thing to say for certain that there is no higher power and that the universes are simply a random happening.
 

Antonia Windham (6)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:08 am
No, Janelle, look up the definition of atheism and you'll see it isn't restricted to people who feel certain there's no god. You also asked me why I think it's provable that there isn't a higher power and the universe isn't a random happening, but I didn't say that's provable. I just said the positive evidence is lacking. I believe there's no higher power and I believe the universe isn't a planned thing, and I don't see any way those beliefs can be proved. So if I'm going to have my mind changed someone who believes there is a higher power and believes the universe is a planned thing is going to have to convince me with their own arguments, and if their evidence's good enough I'll change my mind.
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:30 am
"I've heard a few say they're positive there's no god and think their belief is provable"
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:32 am
Correction Antonia - Guess you were saying that they think ....
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:37 am

It's not important whether or not god is provable, which of course is not the case. It's important that people be allowed to think and decide what is most honest to themselves. I will not, nor do I care to convince any one that my thinking is the right way or the better way. It is the better way for me. Believe what ever you find comfortable, allow others the same right.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:37 am

It's not important whether or not god is provable, which of course is not the case. It's important that people be allowed to think and decide what is most honest to themselves. I will not, nor do I care to convince any one that my thinking is the right way or the better way. It is the better way for me. Believe what ever you find comfortable, allow others the same right.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:38 am

It's not important whether or not god is provable, which of course is not the case. It's important that people be allowed to think and decide what is most honest to themselves. I will not, nor do I care to convince any one that my thinking is the right way or the better way. It is the better way for me. Believe what ever you find comfortable, allow others the same right.
 

Antonia Windham (6)
Monday May 28, 2012, 11:47 am
No, I wasn't saying that, Janelle. To their discredit those few really are positive. They know they've found the ultimate truth and their belief in no god is as factual and proven to them as some people's religious thoughts can be to them. Fools exist.
 

Charles O. (209)
Monday May 28, 2012, 8:02 pm
Janelle W. writes:

> It's one thing to question or even disbelieve God as described in many religious teachings. It is entirely another thing to say for certain that there is no higher power and that the universes are simply a random happening.

. .

Hello Janelle. We have two different definitions of "atheist" here, and that is causing confusion.

* Definition 1: Somebody who believes in the non-existence of God
* Definition 2: Somebody who rejects belief altogether.

I'm in the latter camp. As I see it, believing in God's non-existence is no better than believing in God's existence. Intellectual belief is wishful thinking or self-delusion, nothing more. It undermines reason and turns us against ourselves. We waste time and energy arguing over something that cannot be proved, and much of this effort is spent arguing with ourselves, as we try to suppress the doubts that inevitably accompany belief.

I know for certain that belief is ineffectual and harmful, because I have experienced the harm first-hand. I now avoid belief and rely on experience.

Much of what I experience is non-material: dignity, joy, glory, love, beauty, and even color. When I read a book, I enter a non-material realm, a realm of imagination: The book is more than ink and paper. I experience this subjective realm as infinite -- beyond space and time and without bound. I can call it whatever I want, but it correlates with our definition of "eternity", so that is what I choose to call it: the eternal now.

Sometimes, I experience this non-material realm as an entity -- a universal mind. It precedes the material universe, and in that sense, it creates the universe. So my experience here fits the definition of "God".

Does God exist? It depends on how we define "God". Using my definition above, experience tells me that God does exist. God is everywhere and everything. We live within the universal mind. What more can be said?!
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday May 28, 2012, 8:31 pm

The question is does Janelle exist? Sure as one of the many characters of Paul/paulsf/Paul B/Hans/Lilith and on and on... all the same person. As I said, no two people have the exact same style, word usage and syntax. Consider yourself out, revealed. So bored by your nonsense antics.
 

Harshiita Sharma (137)
Tuesday May 29, 2012, 2:35 am
Noted.
 

Robert B. (59)
Tuesday May 29, 2012, 10:40 am
One does not need religion in order to be a decent person. Read "The Laughing Jesus" with an open mind, I highly recommend it.
 

Robert B. (59)
Tuesday May 29, 2012, 10:48 am
In the background there is an operating system and we are all evolving "programs". It's a journey, not a destination.
 

Nancy C. (814)
Sunday June 3, 2012, 10:56 am
Love Yip Harburg's words about theater. My temple was the dance for 40 years...
 

Janelle Wong (71)
Sunday June 3, 2012, 11:11 am
Well Kit B., never look straight up at a bird.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday June 3, 2012, 11:34 am

Care2 is for many a place to share thoughts and ideas; for learning from others and discussing ideas. For Paul B/Janelle W/Hans M/Lilith C/sf paul and the other many incarnations of this troll this is just a place to play and hope to gain attention. Pity the poor soul who can not learn.
 
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