Atheism and Appeasement

First, a bit of politics and church and state issues:

This is both amusing and irritating at the same time. Sir, you do have the freedom to say what you want from the pulpit. But, should you choose to become political from the pulpit, you lose your tax-exempt status as a church.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? But no; what these clowns want is for the taxpayer to subsidize their political speech.

Films: Pan’s Labyrinth; this is de-conversion’s take. Note: there is a plot spoiler; I can recommend the film.

Two Atheists who are not appeasers.

Evolved and Rational: I love this woman! 🙂

Pat Condell: another good video.

My take

First, I should say something: my “atheism” (with respect to the personal deities) or agnosticism (with respect to a possible grand “intelligence” that lies beyond our spacetime continuum) are not religious positions. I will change my mind if I am presented with or discover convincing evidence that I am wrong.

Simply put: I go where my pathetically underpowered brain takes me. I don’t take “leaps of faith”.

If this seems impossible: yes, I know that I am ignorant of the details of much of, say, science. But I accept the current theories as these theories have delivered true predictions and things that work. Hence, I have evidence to accept the validity of these methods and theories.

Germ theory explains how sicknesses spread, and using it has help us greatly.
The theory of electricity is widely used.
Quantum mechanics makes this computer work.
Relativity theory has been confirmed by observation and makes things like the GPS systems work.

So, it would probably be better to say that I believe in freethinking: that is, using one’s reason to discover the truth and that my atheist/agnostic beliefs are the current result of my freethinking.

As to those who try to say that, say, monsters like Stalin and Pol-Pot were atheists: maybe they didn’t believe in a deity, but no one, and I mean no one would say that they believed in freethinking. They have (had) much more in common with those who tortured people in the Inquisitions and who flew planes into buildings than they do with me, even if they denied the existence of an Invisible Man who pulls the strings in this world.

So, what does this have to do with “appeasement”?

Well, it is certainly true that while I respect people who hold religious beliefs, I don’t respect the underlying myths for their beliefs or even the beliefs themselves.

Yes, many have good ethics and I do respect those. Many do good works and I respect the works and the individual character that guides those works.

But I don’t respect the beliefs such as these: someone rose from the dead, someone magically disappeared from this world, that messages were given to one man via golden plates, that donkeys talked, that some divine verses were given directly to anyone from some deity, that tarot cards work, that dousing works, that healing crystals work, that horoscopes are valid, etc.

These are, to me, utter nonsense, when taken as literal truth.

Now if someone uses these as some sort of “grand metaphor” for life; a metaphor to get someone to do the difficult (but right) thing, well, fine! If one wants to learn emotional, physical and mental health improvement techniques from religions, great! After all, I find prayer, meditation, and yoga to be useful.

So, why might some call me an “appeaser”?

Simply put, I don’t believe in putting a stick in someone’s eye just because I have a “free speech” right to do so. Offending just to be offensive isn’t good.

But even in the cases where I’d like to get a friend or loved one to consider some ideas, I have found that attacking that person (intellectual attack) is counter productive; all it does is leads them to become defensive and to withdraw from the ideas that I’d like for them to consider.

Also, there are some who are simply not going to change, period. I have a friend that I love who honestly believes that some houses are “haunted”; there is no good way to reason with her.

So, I just enjoy our friendship and leave the wacko-woo stuff alone.


August 7, 2008 - Posted by | creationism, humor, politics/social, religion, science


  1. Im curious…. Do you leave open the possibility that there are realms that you cant see or touch? And if yes, do you think its possible some people can? I wonder what your take on something like “Psychics” is?

    Comment by john t. | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. I take the position of blind people to sighted people- it is only true if they can agree and their “invisible world” matches reality.

    As it is, no they have failed. Badly.

    So I am not open to it because it has been repeatedly shown to be false. Actual psychic stuff violates what we know about reality (thoughts being arrangements inside your head, materialism, etc) and is almost certain to be false.

    Comment by Samuel Skinner | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. Well said, Ollie.

    Comment by postsimian | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. Im not so sure psychic stuff violates reality. After all were always discovering more about our reality. Maybe its just tapping into a energy realm that is there but just hasnt had a name put to it yet. Atoms were still atoms before they were discovered. I actually know someone that taps into something I just cant explain, and they are more accurate than I care to admit.

    Comment by john t. | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  5. blablabla

    read “existentialism and human emotion” by John Paul Sarte if you haven’t already.

    Comment by barrybostwick | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. Basically I see it this way: I believe only in what I have evidence for. I also know that science will improve and stuff will continue to be discovered that we don’t know about yet.

    Nevertheless, the vast, vast majority of the stuff that was scorned by the science community at large turned out to be crackpottery.

    Example: our current theories of quantum mechanics is indeed strange and spooky; however it was NOT anticipated by the crackpots of that era.

    So, there will most likely be strange and spooky stuff that will be discovered in the future, but it has nothing to do with what woos believe now-a-days.

    Comment by ollie | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  7. Ollie

    whatever works for ya I guess. Some things I cant see yet I still believe, but thats just the way my brain works.

    Comment by john t. | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  8. Psychic stuff does violate what we know about reality. Thoughts are electrical-chemical impulses in your brain… basically, if people can use their minds to manipulate matter outside their minds, batteries should have the same ability.

    To argue against it is to argue against the idea that all matter is essentially the same.

    Also, action at a distance that isn’t possible without a medium or the action carrying the medium with it.

    There is more, but you get the idea- it just doesn’t work.

    Comment by Samuel Skinner | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  9. Ollie

    Well science is science. But I know someone who does it, and they are pretty accurate. I cant explain it, but I see them do it regularly. Go figure.

    Comment by john t. | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  10. Ollie, I agree that attacking someone’s ideas is counter-productive and doesn’t work.

    As someone who is a scientist and a Christian, I personally truly enjoy a great dialogue with someone of a different opinion than me. It is possible to exchange ideas without arguing or attacking, and it is often quite enjoyable :).

    I assume you have also had some good experiences of dialogue with others. However, I do have to admit that many Christians are not open to this kind of dialogue (sadly), though in the church I attend most are (happily!). I can’t speak for atheists, though my boss is an atheist and we have had many wonderful philosophical dialogues & conversations together.

    Comment by Tammy | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  11. Tammy: thanks for the feedback and good luck in your 5K race.

    Samuel Skinner: I agree with what you said.

    John T.: as far as people who do things that, at first glance, seem hard to explain, you might enjoy Shermer’s book Why People Believe Weird Things or Taleb’s book Fooled By Randomness.

    Comment by blueollie | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  12. Ollie

    Thanks for the book suggestions.

    Comment by john t. | August 9, 2008 | Reply

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