Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The New York Times reports on the response to “good without god” signs on Fort Worth buses.

What I find interesting is that the message, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” is being considered by many Theists as a hateful message, when it is simply a message to Atheists that they are not alone in their non-belief. The message is for Atheists, not Theists, and the outrage and vandalism is proving nothing but the hatred of religious bigotry.

My Favorite "Calvin and Hobbs"

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Humanist Thanksgiving Proclamation

“A Humanist Thanksgiving Proclamation,” by Robert Green Ingersoll

“When I became convinced that the universe is natural—that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.

The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the world—not even infinite space.

I was free. Free to think, to express my thoughts. Free to live my own ideal. Free to live for myself and those I loved. Free to use all my faculties, all my senses. Free to spread imagination’s wings. Free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope. Free to judge and determine for myself. Free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the “inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past. Free from popes and priests. Free from all the “called” and “set apart.” Free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies. Free from the winged monsters of the night. Free from devils, ghosts and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought, no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings, no claims for my limbs, no lashes for my back, no fires for my flesh, no following another’s steps, no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers, who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain, for the freedom of labor and thought, to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains, to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs, to those by fire consumed, to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons and daughters of men and women. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they have held, and hold it high, that light may conquer darkness still.”

—Robert Green Ingersoll (1833–1899)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

According to a couple of Objectivists, our moral codes are outdated. I *almost* agree.

Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate say that our moral code is out of date. I partly agree, but not with their philosophy.

Objectivism is one of those areas which illustrates how not all Atheists think alike.

It's funny. I start hearing or reading something like the article linked above that promotes the Objectivist philosophy and before I get to the end, I find myself thinking, "This isn't so bad of a philosophy." I like the absence of a belief in a deity, and I like the idea of upholding self-identity and not blindly following along with the masses, but then the idea of Capitalism being morally superior to Altruism comes to light, and my brain screeches to a halt.

My take is that both Capitalism and Altruism have their obvious benefits to society, but I can't see how any society can last very long by favoring one over the other. I believe both Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists deserve praise in our society, because together they serve to promote the self-sufficiency we all need to make progress possible, and the empathy and kindness we all need to make sure no one is left wanting for basic needs.

So, although I'm clearly not an Objectivist, I still find it a fascinating philosophy to read about.

Mike Haynes

PS. "Who is John Galt?" ;-)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stephen Hawking: Physics Leaves No Room For God

My hero, Stephen Hawking has gotten the debate going again. He apparently states in his latest book that physics leaves no room for God. My first thought however is "Duh! God is based on faith, not the scientific process." Now I have to think for a moment about what is being said. Stephen Hawking has found a possible answer to how and why the universe exists. This answer doesn't require a god. That is all well and good, but it isn't quite yet "the" answer. So, I think interjecting the existence of a god into the issue is irrelevant (there is also some question as to whether he actually said this or if it was the co-author who threw it in). This is indeed fascinating stuff, but it still doesn't answer what happened "before" the big bang. Thus we have a long way to go in addressing the full answer to how and why we are here.

Note: I do have a little problem with the moderator's question to Professor Jon Butterworth (an Atheist), "...How many more years do you people need to find out?" It makes me want to punch him...just a little. ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Final Hurdle - A Personal Journey of Deconversion

"We are young
Wandering the face of the Earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal
For a limited time"

- from Rush's 'Dreamline'

In reference to my Atheism, a Christian friend once said to me, "It's too bad you have to live with such hopelessness."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

He replied, "Well, from your viewpoint, after you die, there will be nothing, so your life would have had no meaning. Why bother trying to accomplish anything? It would just be hopeless."

"Not at all," I said, "To the contrary, it makes this life more precious and meaningful, because it's the only one I've got."

He wasn't very convinced. Our conversation continued a bit, and it was very clear that what bothered him the most about my Atheist convictions was that if there was no afterlife, then upon death we would simply cease to exist; all of our thoughts, ideals, creativity, and everything that makes us who we are would simply vanish. To him, this was simply unacceptable and unbelievable. There just had to be something after this life was over! I could understand why he felt this way, because I used to think the same way.

During my long transition to non-belief concerning the existence of any gods or an afterlife, I must admit that the idea of no longer existing was the final and most difficult emotional hurdle that I had to get over. Throughout my childhood, I had always been told that everything was created by God, and there was a plan, and after I died I would go to Heaven and live forever. The idea of non-existence seemed foreign and scary. It was just utterly inconceivable that an individual’s existence in any form at all would come to an absolute end.

In my mid-twenties I began thinking critically about what I had been taught as a child, and these fantastic ideas of a god and an afterlife fell deeper and deeper into the realm of doubt. Questions about our origins and what we were doing here still nagged at me however, and it all seemed so unfair to me. We humans are one of a species of apes on this planet whose brains have evolved to the point that we understand clearly that our lives are finite and that we will each eventually die. It seemed to me at the time like we were all the victims of a very cruel practical joke. Only, there was no "joker" to blame it on.

I continued for several years identifying myself as a Deist or Agnostic (depending on my mood), avoiding the "Atheist" label because it seemed to me at the time to carry with it a cold resoluteness; a harsh finality that would indeed slam the door on any hope or meaning I could find in life. Having turned my back on the Christianity I had been brought up with, I kept on trying to foster some belief in some type of higher power or some type of afterlife through various New Age practices, Neo-Paganism, and numerous Western adaptations of the Eastern religions. Every attempt I made ended with my critical thinking getting in the way. I was unsatisfied with the absence of any empirical evidence. I needed something that would give me confidence that I wasn't following yet another set of ideas based on nothing more than blind faith and wishful thinking. It was at a point like this in my life when I finally decided to come to terms with this "unfair practical joke" that humanity had been stung with. In retrospect, what I had finally decided to do was to make a paradigm shift in my outlook about life on this little speck of dust we call "Earth."

I first considered what it would be like to not exist. It sounds silly if you think of it, because it wouldn't "be" like anything. So, I imagined myself going to sleep some evening, dreaming a final dream perhaps, and then drifting off to...nothing. No alarm clock to wake me up, no bills to worry about, no concerns. "That wouldn't be so bad." I thought, “I can handle that.” As for meaning, purpose, and hope in life; I decided that would be up to me to provide.

Today I have a newfound appreciation for this life, this world and all the discoveries that have been made and are yet to be made. It's not perfect. No one said it would be. Many aspects of it are unfair, but the choices I make determine how I will deal with the unfairness. I don't have all the answers, but Science does what it can to discover them, correcting and refining itself along the way as new data and insights come to light. There are still many unanswered questions, but that just deepens the mystery and increases the excitement of each new discovery. I am not a victim of circumstance, and I am responsible for my own actions. My life has the meaning I define for it, the purpose I give to it, and the hope I contribute to it. The final hurdle is now far behind me. I lead a full and happy life filled with wonder, love, and a renewed hope for the future of this little planet and its many inhabitants.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What's an Anidiot?

I was drawn to the comments section after reading an internet news story this morning and found myself flinching at the grammatical mistakes I saw there. I understand that we're all human, we all make mistakes, and I've been accused of having bad grammar as well, to which I always reply, "My grammer's a nice lady. Leave her out of this!"

What irked me this time was the

"Your anidiot!"

Now, I'm not completely stupid, but my first thought was, "What's an anidiot?" Aha! Then I saw my error! I had forgotten to install my "Comentese" translator. Now if I had chosen to get involved in this particular thread of comments, I would have been tempted to assist our esteemed commenter by pointing out the error of his ways. Perhaps something like "I think that what you really mean is 'You're an idiot'" would do the trick, but past experience has taught me that If I had done so, I would have been exposed as the evil, over-educated, godless, liberal heathen that I am, and my attempt at improving his education would have been futile.

So, I'll relegate myself to ranting on my own blog, and making my own irreverent, politically incorrect, poetic prose of parting:

Here I sit, brokenhearted. I thought I'd make a comment, but I'm retarded.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blogging VS Facebook and Virtual Stray Cows

So, I started this blog because my Face Book friends get tired of my rants, or they're busy typing their own rants, or they're chasing down a virtual cow that strayed from their virtual farm.

I tried the farm thing and actually got hooked for a time. I was doing pretty good, raising crops, harvesting, making money...
No, wait! I wasn't making money! I wasn't raising and harvesting crops! I was wasting my time on a pointless "game" that did absolutely nothing to improve my "real" life, so I abandoned it. Now and again I see messages informing me that my friends are still happily tending my "farm" for me. I wonder if they would be just as happy to actually come over to my house and mow my lawn or weed my garden? Hmmm... thought so.

Anyway, when the urge to write hits me again. I'll be writing here on my new blog. So don't be looking for any stray cows. They're not here!