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Sunday Atheism Blogging

chicago dyke's picture

I haven't even made it through the comments yet, but I just have to pass along this great Sunday blog topic from my girl, Greta Christina. Why won't she call me, oh why oh why? Heh, anyway:

Atheists and unbelievers: What, if anything, would make you believe? Worship?

Myself, it would pretty much have to be a very direct miracle, and personal appearance by the supposed divinity in question. The miracle would have to benefit me, and at the same time, lots and lots of people I didn't know. And I'd have to have a long, serious conversation in which I received real answers from a tangible divinity who didn't avoid my questions or shirk the hard problems like some Villager. Pretty much nothing less than that. The Sun standing still for a day would be good, or maybe sending me back in time to the day I first thought my loser husband "may be interesting" with the knowledge that he is not so I could avoid that path, and a bank account in my name instantly swelled to about a billion dollars that no government would question. Unselfishly: the instant end of every pediatric disease on the planet, forever. Clean fusion comes close, but I think humans will eventually get there without any help.

Truly, the biggest "miracle" I can imagine a divinity pulling off: explaining to me in a way that I can concur, why so many innocents "had" to suffer. Innocent animal and plant life, too. More than stopping the sun or moving back in time, it would be a truly impressive miracle if a divinity and its believers could convince me that all the suffering in the Universe is "necessary." Count on a fusion power rocket to a beachside resort on the Sun, before that happens.

Congrats on the keynote, woman. As always, you rock. If I have any complaint, it's that you don't talk enough about how ridiculous non-Abrahamic traditions are, too. The monotheists don't have a monopoly on Silly, take it from me.

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Submitted by gmanedit on

The resurrection of someone who I know has been dead for a while or limbs regrowing on an amputee.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

Even if there were miracles performed and a complete, understandable explanation of all the suffering allowed to occur on the deity's watch, I'm not the worship-and-prayers type. The closest I could come would be something like, "What a lovely day."

The best any deity could expect from me, having announced their existence, would be my acknowledgment of said existence.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

this was the comment i tried to leave at her place, at tad jumbled:

dang. i am always late the fun parties here. anyway...

i tend to approach divinity questions from the perspective of my own academic training, which is in pre-monotheistic religions of the very ancient middle east (Sumeria, Akkad, etc). those folks had some really interesting religious beliefs, which in turn were tied to their political and socio-economic systems in a way we can understand, but not necessarily relate. when everyone is assumed to have a "personal" god/dess, as well as a state, city, national, and various other deities, well... it changes how one considers the question, "is the supernatural real?"

anyway, i like to think i'm two people on this question. there's the gardener in me, and that's me at least nine months out of the year (heh). in that time, it's very, very easy for me to understand how people would want to believe that there is "more" to the world around them. when one of my plants does really well despite a bad rainfall, too much sun, etc., i can almost perceive the "spirit" of the plant, struggling as i struggle as a person in this hard world, and it makes me want to let that feeling of affinity and determination in a way that goes beyond simple logic. i'm also a writer and creative person, so i can easily imagine, and my studies back this up, why some people would want to explain unexpected events with, "the spirits/divinity/god(dess) made that happen, it can't be any other way!" absent modern science, the comfort of my technological first world existence, and a lot of other things which make modern life easy, i'd bet a lot of people here would be much less inclined towards atheism. it's scary when you can't make the dark go away with just the flick of a switch.

but then there's my rational side, the side where the cynic, and feminist lives. the same unwillingness to look life squarely in the eye is also part of the impulse to use creativity selfishly, and to control those with weaker minds and wills than your own. that's basically my explanation for religion: there's only so much grain or food to go around, and someone has to convince the weak members of the tribe why they should go hungry, so that another may feed. "god wills it" is a great way to do that, esp if you're the person who has spent all winter entertaining the group with made up stories about things no one really understands ("lighting is the rod of Zeus expressing his displeasure with the titans of air and water," etc).

anyway, i guess i'm trying to answer the question with, "well, probably nothing." for all the reasons people have listed above. i'm much more inclined to think that if any "miracle" or "magical" event happened to me, it's because someone with greater technology, huckster abilities, or something i don't understand has, than due to a "super" natural phenom. i love the Matrix movies and i'm a long time sci fi reader, and i've come across just about every Deus Ex Machina device that's been written. the bottom line question for me would be: why? why would any divinity or super-powered being waste their time trying to convince or impress me? a little old mortal tiny speck of matter in an endless universe me? if there is some kind of super powerful being, i surely can't imagine why it would care about my opinion, or any of ours, even in the aggregate.

it can be nice to entertain the idea that there's "more" out there than rational science can explain. that's a comforting perspective, sometimes. but i will say this, and it's truly why i will die an atheist, proud and unafraid. even if we're all wrong, and there is some kind of divinity/ies, i will never respect or worship it/them. because to me, the whole point of belief and worship relates to suffering. even the "non religion" of buddhism fails in this way, imho. any thinking creature that had the power to supernaturally affect the universe, *and didn't stop innocents from suffering* is hardly worth imagining, let alone believing in against all evidence, or even in the face of (new, never before seen) evidence. if Krist Jeebus showed up on my door right now, with a zillion fish fry dinners and a dead recently armless dead guy with an endless supply of wine in a miraculous barrel, i'd close the door on him. even if he said, "but if you let me in, i'll bring instant world peace and harmony! just accept me as your Lord!" because for four billion years, the harsh reality of nature has meant that lots and lots of innocent, helpless, sick, old and resource poor living creatures have suffered and died, and my question would be, "so, muthafucker. where the hell were You for all that?" /slam/

worship as a concept just turns me off, as a black woman and gay person and liberal/progressive. equality is much more appealing, even the hierarchy of evolution is more comforting to me. and i'm in the camp of people who believes that if there are aliens and they do notice us and their tech is superior, we'll be sorry they found us. we're a sort of despicable species, and if we were like bugs in my garden to the alien race that found us, i'd probably use some kind of pest control on us, too.

it's not that my mind isn't open, it's that my understanding of history suggests to me that there cannot be anything worth worshipping out there, or life wouldn't be so fucking hard for so many. it is, and it's better to just accept that and give up the childish hopes of most religions.

still, i do keep my mind as open as possible, and i suppose that again, i'm just an insignificant speck. if there is some kind of divinity, *I* shouldn't bear the burden of changing my mind. it will do that for me, or it's no "god."

Submitted by libbyliberal on

George Carlin -Religion easily has the best bullshit story of all time. Think about it. Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.

George Carlin -Atheism: A non-prophet organization.

George Carlin: I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.

Friedrich Nietzsche -Which is it, is man one of God’s blunders or is God one of man’s?

Albert Einstein -What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of “humility.” This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.

The most henious and the must cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives. -Gandhi

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. -Gandhi

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
Mark Twain

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Karl Marx

If there really is a God who created the entire universe with all of its glories, and He decides to deliver a message to humanity, He will not use, as His messenger, a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle. Dave Barry

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? - Epicurus

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not -Eric Hoffer

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

Submitted by PA_Lady on

For a minute there I thought he was talking about Democrats. (Which would explain so much.) A little rewriting and it could be an ad script:

"And if you don't vote for us, Republicans will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But Democrats love you. Democrats love you. Democrats love you and they need money."

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

It sure doesn't play by our rules.

If it doesn't care about me, why should I care about it?

I'm not exactly an atheist, but I certainly don't believe in an anthropomorphic God. If there is such a thing, it's a horrible, horrible creature, so why the hell would I worship it?

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

...and I use the word in quotes because I classify Eastern practices like Buddhism as belief systems, rather than religions...

don't require worship, but practice. The worship is devotion not to a person, but to the ability of another being to transcend the pitiful limitations of the average unenlightened person on the planet--and to the possibility that we may, after much hard work and discipline, manage to get a small glimpse of whatever spark ignites this universe of ours.

Speaking of which, my feeling about God and all is that only primitive religions cling to this idea of a Supreme Being. As unenlightened as I am, I am positive about one thing: the nature of the universe has got to be way more complicated than the relationship between an emperor and his servants.

If someone showed up on earth claiming to be a God, I'd suspect the worst (certainly the Aztecs should have!).

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

The phone rings. God's on the other end.

HeShe gives a persuasive explanation of why the divine identity and nature is a game of "I've got a secret."

Then we could settle down to my wish list.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

But then I don't need proof for belief; I need proof for knowledge. And religion is separate from whatever deity on offer, as it would be a human system around said deity--and there is no way I trust another human to tell me what a deity wants.

But there doesn't have to be a deity for there to be morals and love and fairness, a wonderful universe and wonderful people and plants and animals........... so, not missing anything in my gentle cynicism.