I've Moved!

Atheist Morality is now West Coast Atheist at Wordpress. Stop on by and feel free to comment over there!

20 April, 2010

The First Amendment

National Day of Prayer has been ruled unconstitutional. Our President calling our nation to prayer is a violation of the first amendment Establishment Clause. Period. I do not need to be led in prayer and my tax dollars should not be used to endorse any religion or religious act. So why is President Obama going to make a national proclamation despite the ruling? I must admit, I'm disappointed, and it's not because of his appeasement to Christians, but because he will be essentially ignoring the Constitution of the United States.

Also in law this week is the Supreme Court case Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez. The Christian Legal Society club, or CLS, at UC Hastings, a public, University of California law school in San Francisco, is suing because the school will not officially recognize a group that excludes members based on religion, race, or sexual orientation. The Christian Legal Society has decided that non-Christians and gay people are not allowed in their club. Because the school funds clubs, it is argued that the club must follow the rules that apply to all clubs, but the CLS believes their First Amendment rights are being infringed upon. The UC argues that the money for club activities comes from a student fund and therefore, in order to receive those benefits, a club has to follow the same rules that any other club must adhere to. I agree with the UC. No surprise there, right?

What do the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment mean to the reader personally? I'd like to hear. Is there a way to ensure that people can practice their own religion and beliefs without endorsing them? Or, as a co-host of one of my favorite skeptic podcasts put it, can we ensure freedom of religion while promoting one over the others?

17 April, 2010

Religion's Waning Defenses

I often hear out-spoken atheists wrongly accused for "attacking" religion for simply asking why people hold beliefs despite the lack of evidence for the stories and the illogical conception of God, but I hold the opinion that those who are the most offended are those whose faith is the weakest.

A billboard goes up that says, "Good without God? You are not alone," and the locals on the news are interviewed saying, "Why do they have to attack religion?" What exactly is threatening about the billboard? Nothing. I suspect that what is so threatening to them is that they have no evidence of God and that God has failed to physically or materially show himself to anyone since Moses went up a volcanic mountain, breathed in some smoke, and had a hallucination about how to keep his followers in line.

So I ask, "Why are out-spoken secularists, agnostics and atheists so frightening and offensive to believers? Is what they are saying all that insulting, or is the theist merely uncomfortable with their own inability to defend the beliefs they hold regardless of an incredible lack of evidence?"

I'd like to hear an honest answer.

13 April, 2010

On Heaven

Having successfully made the transition from Deist to Agnostic to Atheist in the last three or so years, I've found that there is a quite large support group for new atheists or agnostics looking for answers in blogs and other online mediums such as podcasts. I often find that these different blogs, articles and shows provide stimulating answers to my questions, but more importantly, ask questions that I had never thought to ask.

Through these questions I have come to believe that Heaven is a place that even a Christian would not want to go. In fact, it may very well be (if it were real) a very tyrannical and oppressive place to be after all.

For instance, every Christian will tell you that free will is God's greatest gift to man and yet it is also the root of all evil. If it were not for God giving man free will, man would not have eaten from the tree of knowledge and subsequently would not have unleashed evil upon the world. Ignoring for this blog entry the inherent problems with the nature of God that arise from this premise (see J.L. Mackie's Evil and Omnipotence) let's examine what heaven means to a free-willed creation of God.

First, does God allow free will in heaven? If so, does that mean that one can choose to leave heaven? Can any thought, action, or argument against God cause a supposedly saved soul to be cast from heaven right down to hell? Can't a person choose to assault another soul in heaven, or even blaspheme against God? If not, can a soul truly have free will?

If one answers, "Of course they have free will to do these things, but no one will want to when they get to heaven," then my answer must be in the form of a question to them: "Why, then didn't God go one step further and create an Earth where people have free will, but don't want to commit crimes. If God is truly Good, shouldn't he want to reduce as much as possible the sufferings of his creation if he is able?"

If one answers, "No, there is no free will in Heaven," my question would be, "Then why call it heaven?"

If one answers instead, "Yes, there is free will and yes, one can be cast from heaven," again, I would ask, "Can it truly be called heaven if it is the same as Earth? Why even call it by a different name?"

Another question that comes up often in arguments with theists regarding the nature of God and Heaven is how a benevolent God could possibly be so angry over minor infractions as to banish his creation, which he supposedly loves, into fire and torture for eternity. I've discussed this problem somewhat in this post and so am only mentioning it to lead into this question: If you knew that you were going to heaven for an eternity, but knew that your unsaved loved ones-be they parents, siblings, children or even just your friends-were going to spend eternity in misery and insufferable pain, how could you possibly be truly happy? How could you call it heaven?

Feel free to answer the best you can, theist or not. I have a feeling that theists will have a hard time looking at these questions and not wondering themselves about the religion they've bought into without contradicting some doctrine or dogma in their Bible or falling back on the "God works in mysterious ways, we are not meant to know them all" argument.

04 April, 2010

Happy Easter

I'm celebrating today that I don't believe in a God who is so impotent that he has to kill an innocent man in order to defeat evil (and yet still allows evil in the world), or in a God so hateful that he would send his children to eternal fire forever and ever just for having minds of their own.

I'm also celebrating the fact that Spring is here and Summer is on its way. I'm doing so by participating in activities deeply rooted in paganism, such as painting eggs and feasting on good food.

Happy Easter everyone.