Why is a person non religious

Well, the simple answer is they no longer believe the claims of religion are valid but not according to this Christian. He tells us the reasons for non belief can be summarized as

  • the experiences he or she has had with Christianity insulted their intelligence
  • the experiences they had with Christianity were negative, or even traumatic
  • or, they simply feel they don’t have a need for God in their life.

but forgets or is unaware Christianity is not the only religion. One could be a Jew, a Muslim, a believer in voodoo, heck! There are many religions to believe in other than Christianity. But most importantly, the gods of Christianity don’t exist.

Joseph, he who is all knowing, tells us

Somewhere along their journey in life, they were negatively influenced to the point of openly rejecting God.

and here, I thought if someone were to influence you away from religion, they would have done you a good. I can only say Joseph has not heard of W. K Clifford who said “it is wrong everywhere, always and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence“(extreme, I think, but you get my drift). (This paper (pdf) is a good critique of the Clifford Principle)

But the christian knows the reason you are an atheist is

 a traumatic event

your priest molested you and this led you to call it quits on religion or your cat died and you said no more religion for you.

Or maybe, you are the type of atheist who

doesn’t have any ‘need’ to know God (I don’t know why need is in scare quotes)

resulting from

monetary wealth, an abundance of secular education, and/or a self-professed “understanding” of Christianity in general.

What is the christian to do when faced with any of the above scenarios?

  • First and foremost, you must approach this type of person with humility in your own heart. Talking down to them, or challenging them in any way, will only bring conflict and contention.
  • Second, you must allow them to see how Christ is working in your own life.
  • And three, we must be patient and know that their on God’s time, not ours.

The christian, even after doing the above, maybe faced with the challenge of trying to teach one who wont listen. What is one to do?

Honestly, there isn’t much you can say that will get them to listen to you. But, what we can do is show them the light of Christ in our hearts by how we live our lives. It is this Godly happiness, that can only be found in one who has been saved by grace. When things get tough, they may look to you for guidance on how to be happy again.

What however got me laughing is the comment below this post. The author wrote

You’re off to a roaring start on the blog. Hope you are well and that you gather all the followers you can attract.

And it seems to me the bar is so low in christian circles if this is an example of a roaring start. Or maybe roaring has new meaning.

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Confessions 3

If we believe the priests, we shall be persuaded, that the Christian religion, by the beauty of its morals, excels philosophy and all the other religious systems in the world.

Baron D’Holdbach

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. …[This] convention protects them, and so they proceed with their blather unwhipped and almost unmolested, to the great damage of common sense and common decency. that they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly. Nor is there any visible intellectual dignity in theologians. Few of them know anything that is worth knowing, and not many of them are even honest.”

H. Mencken

My first confession was a story of how I became clever, saw the light and left the faith I had been brought up in. The second confession (very Catholic, if you ask me) was a short story of the past. Then there was reflections on Christianity and finally about atheist experience in Africa.

This posting is about what I have become.

A great amount of care was taken to make me a Catholic. It was taught in school as fact. I went to catechism school. Went through the rites, participated actively in church activities and generally without reflection. It didn’t occur to me to question the truth of this religion I was brought up in. Did I have doubts, yes, but not about the truth of the catholic doctrine. I worried a little about whether I would go to heaven or hell. And the book of revelation (the few times I read it) didn’t help matters in this front with its small number of the chosen ones.

When my faith began to wane or maybe I had lost, I read a lot on arguments for god and why they failed. I read on authorship of the bible, on the existence of Jesus and even on miracles. All this reading led to one conclusion only, revealed religions were a scam. I read a little here and there on Islam and even the Gita.

Does Christianity or any religion for that matter deserve the attention we give them? Is there any good in wasting years trying to demonstrate that religions are all false, that their claims are contradictory and many times impossible? Is there any truth in the claims of Christianity? Is there a way to verify any of it? Is it any more true than the religions my forefathers had believed in? If it had been true and was ordained by a god, why did it need violence, deception, evangelism to spread? Was it important that we, everyone, had a religion or believed in a god(s)?

I am at that point in my life where I can say theism is false. That the supernatural claims religions make are baseless. It is not important that one believes in a god(s) as long as one lives well with others. Be kind. Be useful. Life is simple.

Africa interests me. African religion and philosophy more so. How my forefathers lived, what they believed in and how this knowledge made life in society and community possible. How did they face calamity? Death? Disease? And in times of plenty and bountiful harvests or hunts, how did they celebrate? Now this is interesting stuff.

Talk of gods and miracles bore me.

Hell doesn’t interest me. Heaven is a scary proposition. Vicarious redemption is abhorrent. And the gods? They don’t exist. We make them all the time. The raw material needed is a sick imagination and a people gullible enough to believe.

To all my religious friends

And especially enemies who over the years have felt offended by my tweets, blog posts that are critical to religion, I want to tell you i am sorry and that I plan to continue doing just that.

The good news however, is that I have today joined a new religion that I didn’t know existed. I am an ordained minister as we speak and I will be blessing every tweet or blog post I send to protect it from your funny prayers.

There is peace that comes with finding the right religion and today I found it.

May the Dude be with you all.

on why the watchmaker argument fails

We know the contrivances of human beings whenever we see them. If I should find a bicycle assembled, I wouldn’t have to rock my head trying to discover its source. Everyone who has seen a bicycle knows to what ends they are produced and by whom. We do not have the same knowledge for things occurring in nature. I cannot tell, when I meet an elephant that there was a purposeful designer who wanted it to crash plants.

To say something happened by chance, does not rule out a designer. It could have been experiment and this result was a chance result. It was never planned.

The theist has no reason to limit the being of the universe to this

The only possible explanation for the structure is that it was designed by an intelligent being, not some random physical process.

For what is intelligence? It includes

the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem solving

many properties which would rule out the god of theism; an all knowing god can’t learn, reason nor plan. Such a god can’t be creative. We are told, for example if you believe the Abrahamic religions, that god said and it was. In a scenario such as this, the god need only wish and it is.

The question of how did the universe come to be is not made easier in supposing an intelligent designer. I could grant you a designer and ask why must we stop at one designer? If one argues from man made things to the universe, then we see that many things have components built by different people; someone a roof, someone windows and doors and another walls. So, then, we can be certain there is no contradiction in saying there is a designer for trees, another for elephants and another for fish and for all other million of things that exist.

I contend this blogger has not demonstrated his claim.

Dear theist

This is a response- kinda- to this letter directed to atheists. It’s a letter that from the very onset is full of fallacies. I will pick a few and leave the rest for you to name.

The pastor asks

How do you think we got here? Was it a colossal cosmic accident or is there some plan, design or purpose behind our existence? (false dilemma fallacy)

An an atheist or unbeliever, there is no contradiction in answering I don’t know to the question of how we got here. As we do not have any definite knowledge on how we got here, the question of purpose cannot be answered conclusively. We can say our purpose is to propagate more life. But if this is the case, are those, who for one reason or another, do not propagate living purposeless lives?

The next question follows a wrong assumption.

 If we are here by cosmic accident, who is right and who is wrong, and what rules should we live by?

I don’t know how we got here or even why but that doesn’t stop us from working out a way to live that promotes peaceful coexistence.

If theists believed and acted like they believed their gods existed, some of the things we see around us would not happen. So to write

 If there is no ultimate arbitrator then I would assume that we are not accountable to anyone which means that the rules we make are based upon current opinion, force of autocratic power or democratic vote

is in my view to be blind to history and reality. We don’t need an ultimate arbitrator. We need just a few intolerant people to be adamant about something and it may become law.

I am certain there is a fallacy involved in this next question

You say that there are some things inherent in us that define what is right and wrong, but if we are cosmic accidents is anything really inherent or does each of us have to figure out life and sometimes we discover similarities in our experience and we conclude that our similarities mean something is inherent.

Our first parents (taking liberties here) can be cosmic accidents but we have what is called accumulated history and knowledge of the race that has contributed in promoting life. Over time, these habits, tendencies become part of the group psychology. It is not rocket science. And I don’t think there is any contradiction in finding a product of a cosmic accident having some inherent properties.

In the next question, the good pastor is being dishonest. He asks

If that’s the case why is it that all civilizations look for “God” without knowing each other or having a pre-existing cross reference?

And I argue that people do not look for gods per se, but are looking for answers. In this pursuit, humanity have invented gods, imbued them with powers ranging from omniscience to immortality, without ever being able to tell coherently what a god is or why one is even needed.

In asking

Religion is confusing and there are multiple religions and theories, but does that confirm that we are a cosmic accident, or does it mean that we just do not know definitively one way or another?

the pastor is mixing up issues.

How should we live? Many things answer this question. And we get answers from custom, from public opinion( a very potent guide, actually. The threat of public dishonour or shame is enough to keep many people in check). The good pastor however thinks he can corner us and asks

You insist you are certain there is no possibility of God, so who or what determines how we should live?

Is it nature?

Is it public opinion?

Is it science?

His question is loaded. He has introduced god in the premise as a determinant on how we should live.

Do our lives have meaning? In his book on the human condition, Benatar, identifies different levels at which our lives can have meaning; cosmic meaning. There are some people whose lives have meaning only so far as their families are concerned. Other people luckily, manage to transcend borders. Therefore, in asking

But can science help us with meaning? If we are cosmic accidents, is there a single meaning, or are there multiple meanings?

the pastor is pretending there is a universal meaning for all of us. Had this been the case, the many people who live miserable lives trying to find meaning for their lives shouldn’t be a common occurrence.

Atheism generally is understood as absence of belief in deities. It says nothing about the character of the atheist. The pastor in writing

If you subscribe to a belief system, do you have to be profane against the thing you don’t believe? Shouldn’t your atheism produce someone who is superior to the ignorant people who believe in God? Shouldn’t others be able to look at you and your character and conclude that atheism is good and produces better people?

is making an argument that has no leg or head to stand on. One could turn the question on its head and ask of the theist, why with the belief in god and the threats associated with it, do they steal, pillage and cuss? Do they not fear their god(s)?

In his final paragraph, Dave tries to be dishonest again. He writes

Since there is no scientific experiment that either proves or disproves God, why should I give up on something that works for me?

which contradicts what he wrote before, thus

No one is required to believe in God because we are all individuals who make our decision from our knowledge base.

Put differently, everyone believes as they are convicted. But there are good reasons to give up religion.

the remarkable faith of atheists

Hanne Nabintu insists there are no atheists whatsoever. Whatever is most important to the human being, she says, is their religion. To do this, she has redefined religion, following Heidegger, as being whatever is essential, whatever one desperately believes in and advocates for and clings onto in times of trouble. She adds that religion can be further said to be man’s ultimate goal. In this view then, one can say, with Thomas Paine, that doing good is their religion.

She says, and I will let her speak.

 It takes a remarkable amount of faith to be an atheist, as he describes the afterlife as empty space, although he has not in any possible way been there to examine it. He is as religious as anybody else and believes without any shred of evidence that life after death is non-existent.

which is an interesting accusation to label at atheists. Speaking for myself, I will say that the arguments that have been made for an afterlife are all unconvincing and further, given no one has provided any evidence for life beyond the grave, I am comfortable in asserting there is likely no afterlife. As they say elsewhere, when we die, we shall either know the truth or stop asking. Having said this, it would be interesting to have Hanne present the evidence she seems to be so convinced she has of the afterlife.

Going by what she writes, almost any strong belief can be called a religion: Materialism is the religion of people who put the acquiring of wealth above all else desirable (this is a narrow view of materialism. She excludes philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions).

Where she loses it completely is when she defines atheism. She writes

Atheism is the all absorbing faith in that there is no God or spiritual beings, none above us to whom he will be held accountable. This forms his passionate ideology, strong conviction and worldview.

and while there are atheists who simply state there is no god, many are comfortable with the position that evidence for deities has not been provided to warrant a belief in their existence. But this would not do, if one wants to create and defeat a strawman.

If religion is stripped of its relationship with the supernatural, worship, priests and all, then indeed, in a secular world, we may indeed be much more religious than we think.

questions for atheists

In my Monday morning tour of the webs, I hit upon this 10 new questions about atheism

1. How do atheists name their children, if most names have some sort of religious background?

I don’t know about your village, but in mine, we are named one, as to time of day we are born or if an important personage happens to pass through the village at the time of birth or a catastrophic event or after a dead grandfather. In fact, it is only with the coming of the missionaries that people started giving their children names with some religious connotations.

2. Is atheism a form of Satanism?

Yes, the brand that eats babies, christian babies especially.

3. Why has atheism become so popular in the 21st century?

As Percy B. Shelley wrote in his defense of atheism; ignorance brought us the gods, knowledge will ruin them (I paraphrase).

4. Why do atheists choose atheism?

We don’t chose. There are those lucky people born in families where the parents are atheists so it is a matter of course. Many others come to atheism after having been believers in woo and finally seeing the light.

5. Are atheists a threat to the United States?

I don’t think so. But in a certain way, yes. As one writer wrote many eons ago, the person of ideas is a threat to received authority.

6. How do atheists keep a positive outlook on life?

Mostly by eating bbq.

7. Why do some atheists insist that atheism is not a “group”?

Because it’s not.

8. Why do so many atheists fail to understand that belief doesn’t require proof?

On the contrary, we do understand this quite well. Believers have insisted they have proof. We are only asking them to provide this proof they have.

9. What is paramount for most atheists?

I wouldn’t know.

10. Is it difficult being an atheist?

Depends on where one lives and the people around you. Try being an atheist in Saudi Arabia and not be discreet about it and see how long before someone finds a reason to drag your ass to a court.