Christian Terrorism

It Obviously Does Not Exist

 Christian terrorism, no longer exists right? That is what you would believe if you listened to American national media for long enough. You would believe that yes, there is plenty of terrorism being perpetuated in the world, but none of it is coming from Christians. However, it simply is not true.

One could say that a once violent Christianity has been mostly subdued by societal progress such as the enlightenment and renaissance. The idealistic western world does not appreciate violence they have to see. This is not the case worldwide unfortunately, and there are many examples of Christian terrorism around the world. The picture featured for this article is the aftermath of a 2011 bombing in Oslo, Norway. The perpetrator claims to have initiated the attack to, "prevent a Muslim takeover." He describes himself as a fundamentalist Christian. 

Of Isolated Bombings and Terrorist Organizations

The above claim that Christianity has been subdued of it's violent streak because of societal restraints falls apart when you analyze areas that did not experience this same effect. A large portion of modern Christian violence is coming out of Africa currently, and I would suspect the same could be said for Middle Eastern Christians if they were not the minority. 

One such group who has gotten publicity in recent years due to a rather hollow movement in America is the Lord's Resistance Army. This militia group was set on overthrowing the Ugandan government, their leader claiming to be a, "messenger of God." This so called holy army regularly abducted children and forced them to fight under Kony's regime, just peachy eh? 

The "developed" world is not without it's crazy Christian fueled individuals either, however. As referenced at the beginning of this article the 2011 bombing in Oslo, Norway was perpetrated under the name of Christianity. This attack is still known as the worst in Norway's history. The real crazies however, run rampant in the United States. In everything from abortion clinic bombings, justifying and in some cases endorsing rape, and creating insane laws based on their morality, this is truly a country where one can not escape religion.

Why Even Pretend?

It takes an incredibly myopic historical view to even claim Christianity is no longer a violent religion, or even to say it is not in comparison to Islam. In everything from Puritan Colonies, The Salem Witch Trials, forcible conversion efforts in Africa, not to mention the Westboro Baptist Church, Christianity has proven it is just as inherently nonsensical and violent as it historically was. It's new modern passive aggressiveness is hardly a change, it simply comes with the territory of actually being punished when you commit crimes based on your religion.

Synopsis

There is nothing less violent about Christianity. It is only that the majority of it's believers live within societies where their religion does not rule law that has curbed their appetite for outright bloody culling of those who do not agree with them. The simple conclusion to this is that when you have heartfelt irrational beliefs that lead your life actions, it only follows that you would take irrational actions to uphold those beliefs. 

"Atheists Can Not See Beauty"

A Repeated Line

I was speaking with a friend of mine at the college I attend, about the reason he holds onto the simple tag, "Agnostic." His father he tells me, does as well. The reasoning went a bit along these lines, "I want there to still be some mystery in the world, and wonder. I don't like this constant pursuit of the answer to everything because it takes the beauty out of wondrous sights."

The implication here is that having knowledge or knowing too much about phenomena or nature causes it to lose whatever wonder or beauty it has. This of course defines wonder as being what you do not know. This is not a definition that only corresponds to atheists, but any and all who seek answers "too much."

This is not the first time I have heard similar arguments. That for there to be beauty in the world, there must also be a god, or at least the possibility of one. It really gets me going because I still get that, "shock and awe" feeling, almost every day. There's such a plethora of knowledge to be had, sights to see, and conclusions to come upon, that I can hardly see their point. However, just for the sake of argument, I will now explain what causes me to feel "wonder" and "beauty." 

This Thing.

That big glowing ball of doom above this paragraph, that happens to be the only reason we are alive. Furthermore, this planet happens to be within the right distance to support life in our solar system. I find this to be wondrous. Why? Happenstance. It did not have to be like this. Is there a habitable zone around every star? To my knowledge. Is there always a planet within that zone? No. Wonder for me is in the fact that it all just happened. There is no wonder in some omnipotent being wishing it to be, creating it so it works. That's like being amazed at my ability to solve a Rubik's cube, or win against someone in a game of chess. If said being knew beforehand that everything would work as he created it, there was never a chance of failure, and thus no sense of wonder. Considering almost all monotheistic religions mark their god as not only omnipotent but also omniscient, this is the case. Now that we have established I feel wonder, let's get down to beauty.

What is Beautiful?

Above is the Aurora Borealis, and it is something that I personally find very beautiful. I'm talking about the purely aesthetic beauty of a natural phenomena. This aurora is nothing more than the visual effect given off as electrons move from a higher energy orbit to a lower energy orbit, yet I still find it beautiful. Why? Well, just because it is. It glows and is bountiful in color, entertaining my human eyes to a high degree. Knowing why it exists does not take away from that, nor the wonder that it happens. But apart from aesthetic beauty, what is beautiful? Well I believe this is beautiful:

Yes I picked a video of a baby on purpose, no it is not less great to see older individuals hearing for the first time. Babies just have adorable reactions. This is beautiful for so many reasons. The most basic reason being a child who gets to hear the voices of his parents and others for the first time. That is not to bash the communication and collaboration within deaf communities, simply an acknowledgement that I truly love my own sense of hearing, and am happy someone else gets to indulge. For perspective past adorable babies however, here is another video:

Here is a woman who was born deaf, and remained so for forty years, obviously making it an integral part of her life. In this video you witness her having only just gotten a cochlear implant, with a nurse administering the simple test of saying the days of the week. This test however, renders her into tears, it appears to bring her great joy. This is what I call beauty, this is human ingenuity. This is a group of people sitting down and saying, "I want to help others hear." Then proceeding to do it. Their hard work and perseverance brings about heart rending moments like this that make it all worth it. 

This sort of beauty does not exclusively belong to scientific achievement however. I would relate this to any social movement for equality or freedom world wide, historically and currently. It is the struggle of every day individuals to simply be treated equally with dignity and respect that I find truly and inspiring, and indeed beautiful. The long term effects on generations to come due to struggles such as these can be just as heart rending as the previous videos.

The Beauty of Possibilities

Does anybody else geek out over what we truly do not know? Is anyone else filled with energy and excitement over the possible truths we have yet to uncover? I do. For example, the possibility that our universe is just a reiteration of a cyclical universe with recurrent big bangs. Perhaps we are not the first we, nor the last, or perhaps we never were before this. Perhaps we currently aren't. This is all mystery, and it is exciting. I find the story of some thing simply creating the universe on a whim to be boring and seemingly written by unimaginative authors. It sounds like somebody really wanted to know how the universe was created, and came to the most mundane conclusion based on their limited knowledge. That lacks beauty. 

To me, and perhaps a number of others, there is a sort of excitement in the mystery of the universe that must be uncovered. There is nothing boring or lacking in wonder about this quest for knowledge. To the contrary to have even begun this journey implies one did wonder, and sought to find more to wonder about. 

Synopsis

It is often implied, unfortunately, in media and in real life, that atheists lack a sort of depth other individuals have. I have seen atheists displayed as being robotic, emotionally inept, making blunt observations on a constant basis. While this lends a sort of comical humor in many shows, and I enjoy watching it, it is also casts a very poor light on the actual people that are atheists. So, while I do not like my friend any less for what he said, I am not pleased by what the statement implies. Atheists I have come in contact with are some of the most imaginative, intellectual, and creative individuals I have ever met. They see beauty and depth where others see none and tend to see through this sort of false religious sense of shock and awe, as I perceive it. They are in a word, insightful people. 

A Crime in The Name of Atheism?

An Honest Tragedy

The death of young students is immeasurably saddening by the standards of anyone who values life. The same can be said for this instance of violence at Chapel Hill on Tuesday, in the shooting of three college students. These students happened to be Islamic, and their killer happened to be an atheist. So here comes the media avalanche.

To my knowledge the only known conflict between the apartment complex neighbors was that of parking. While I question the temperament of somebody that would kill or even become overly aggravated by such a situation, I can say that people have been killed for far more ridiculous reasons. But let's get down to the point, is atheism at fault?

NO.

Atheism has no doctrine, it has no collective agreement over anything other than that there is no god. It has no organization, I have my doubts that you could have cohesive agreement between a room full of atheists. Why? Well everyone came to their conclusion that there is no god for different reasons, and under different circumstances. While I would agree that among us there are relatively more critical thinkers when compared to other groups, we have our share of irrational, nonsensical individuals as well.

I have debated with many an atheist and found that on other subjects our views vary widely. I am what some would call extremely left of the political spectrum, and this is not true of a vast number of atheists. Search well enough and you'll note a certain "Cory Harper" starting arguments all over political and atheist social media pages.

My point will feel restated and droll, but it needs to be heard: There is no consolidation within the atheist community. 

Oh yeah? Explain Stalin, and Other Violent Atheists.

Why don't I just attempt to explain the connection between violent eaters of corn flakes? There's a similar amount of connection between individual eaters of corn flakes as there is between individual atheists. Nothing ties them, except a singular preferences or opinion which they hold. Might they happen to have other similar opinions, or do things in a similar way? Yes, but that on a completely individual basis. 

Individuals who historically did terrible things to large numbers of people, and happened to be atheists, committed those actions based on their own philosophy. They did not pull out the almighty, "Atheist Bible" and found the verse that read about destroying those who do not believe what they believe. *Conspicuous cough in the general direction of almost all monotheistic religions*

A Final Point

I truly regret the death of anybody who had a life and goals of their own, and this is no exception. I do not understand the taking of another's life for very many reasons, unless that person poses a danger to your own. I believe that stopping anyone from completing any action that does not harm another person is inherently wrong. This is a philosophy I hold, personally. You will not find that every other atheist has such a reverence for other's will to live. While I have a reverence for life, that same belief does not extend to organisms without developed goals and and wants. You will also find that some atheists extend that reverence to all organisms, whereas I do not bother. Along with that the reasons we all came to those different conclusions are also probably not the same. We are different.

So please, before jumping on this, "atheists are immoral beings" bandwagon, consider that we do not even have a universal moral code. 

The Industry That is Christianity

What Are We Talking About?

Absence of Clothing recently began selling merchandise that read, "If Religion Were The Key to Morality, Then Mega-Churches Would Look More Like Charities & Less Like Million Dollar Businesses." In celebration of this, I'd like to explain just what we mean.

In an article written as of 2012 in Free Inquiry, they calculate that religious organizations pull in as much as seventy-one billion dollars per year. Not only that, but that their tax exempt status causes states to lose out on twenty-six billion dollars in property taxes. To me this is mind boggling, imagine the increase in state revenue if we simply taxed religious organizations, no more complaints about not having enough money in the budget to fund our schools.

What about the pastor's, priests, and general clergymen? While their income is taxed via the self employment tax and federal income tax, they can claim up to 1.2 billion dollars in exemptions via the parsonage rule. 

Time to talk about where it gets really ridiculous.

MEGACHURCHES

Welcome to Lakewood Church...

Welcome to Lakewood Church...

Welcome to Lakewood Church, housing 40,000 followers every weekend. Megachurches began as a phenomena in the United States, where insanely large protestant churches sprung up around the country. Pictured above is the auditorium where sermons are given at the largest megachurch in the United States, Lakewood Church.

These churches hold all sorts of irony, from defying the teachings of modesty within the Christian religion, to straight up being commercial powerhouses. 

Prestonwood Church holds a food court so large that it has two of it's own coffee shops. 

But Why?

But why all this show? I assure you it is not to espouse devout faith. It is because boring old men preaching about boring old scriptures in a musty old building, who in no way relate to modern day people, do not wrack in followers, or more importantly, money

These megachurches offer many things for their followers to do, and do not follow the traditional form of preaching. Instead of going on about scripture, pastors at these churches focus on appealing to their crowd through sermons based on the individual and their relationship with "god." 

These churches rely on social trends and monitor what their crowds respond positively to. Everything about them screams, "corporate infrastructure." Their pastors incomes are not a joking matter either, ranging anywhere between 100-900 thousand a year, and that's not including book sales. 

The Point

For a religion that supposedly teaches of modesty, frugality, and a plainness among the clergy, Christianity (In the United States to say the least) is evolving to become a consumer industry. Filled with entertainment, flashy lights and shows, food courts and the like. I have shown mostly examples of protestant churches because they are by far the most showy, but that by no means limits it to that. The extravagance of the Catholic Church has been long and prosperous, there is no lack of money in the Pope's coffers. 

And that's why we say, "If Religion Were The Key to Morality, Then Mega-Churches Would Look More Like Charities & Less Like Million Dollar Businesses"

How Media Propagates Religion and Misconstrues Atheism

"The War on Religion"

We live in the age of media, social media, popular media, it is hardly possible to visit any place of business or communicate with our loved ones without being bombarded with it. In all seriousness you can not watch cat videos without watching ads. 

As any person who has "reached the age of reason" can tell you, news stations, especially large corporate news stations, are constantly trying to alter the perspective of their viewer. Why? Because viewers that agree with the news channel are far more likely to continue watching than a viewer who is critical of what is being said. 

So what is one way in which they try to alter this perception? Religion. From everything as ridiculous as the "War on Christmas", to perpetuating lies about scientific theory based on religious dogma, and berating atheism as an immoral and perhaps evil belief, there is no better PR for religion than media. 

A Few Examples

Here is a "Religion Panel" at the infamous American news station, Fox News. They are discussing the Freedom From Religion Foundation's billboard campaign, where the billboards read, "Enjoy Life Now. There is no afterlife." As is displayed during the video, as the spokesman for FFRF is making his point, the  "proctor" (Fox News reporter) leads the question away from him and makes point for the Catholic priest. Following this the Catholic priest blatantly describes atheists as unintelligent people, who lack an open and accepting mind. 

So what? A single Catholic priest bashes Atheism, what's new? Well, lets talk about the viewership Fox News has. I am no expert so allow me to quote Huffington Post:

Fox News: The network had the top five programs in cable news in both total viewers and adults 25-54. In total viewers, “O’Reilly Factor” (2.667 million) was followed by “The Kelly File” (2.204 million), “The Five” (2.057 million), “Special Report with Bret Baier” (1.985 million) and “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” (1.749 million). And in the demo, “O’Reilly” (426,000) was followed by “Kelly File” (374,000), “The Five” (324,000), “Hannity” (311,000) and “Special Report” (303,000).
— Huffington Post

Fox News dominates the cable news networks in viewership regardless of what program is running, having a reported 1.748 million viewers in 2014. So when they offer up any form of nonsense (Which they often do.) not only does a large viewership hear it, a large portion of it simply eats it up. What I mean by that is a large portion of people lacking critical thinking while watching the show accepted the fact that obviously Atheists are less intelligent than theists. 

 

Now we move on to the extremely logically fallacious. This man, Josh Feuerstein, gained a lot of traction in Christian social networks for his "brilliance." He issued this challenge with the sort of bravado you see most often in those entirely incorrect. The proposed challenge was simple, "Prove god does not exist." The issue being the rational misstep of trying to prove a negative, it simply is not possible. I can give you a large list of reasons the existence of a god makes no sense, but to say it does not is impossible. I can not guarantee that large flying elephants that glow with the colors of the rainbow don't exist either. There is an infinitesimally small chance that they inhabit a planet or plain of existence I am simply not aware of, the same can be said for any given god. 

Needless to say that the lack of rationality in the challenge did not even begin to bother Christian communities, and they were certain he had issued a deathblow to Atheism as a whole. 

This is a video that has been making it's way around Islamic social networks and basically tries to make Atheism, evolution, and science in general seem absurd. I will not go into detail as to why the entire video is wrong (If you want to see me do that click here.) My point being that there are many individuals who sincerely believe this video and it's ideas show that Atheism is wrong. Large throngs of people who are being led astray as to what evolution actually is, substituting information like this for actual evidence, because it agrees with their sensibilities. 

How Does This Perpetuate Religion?

A common theme in these videos is not particularly preaching religion, but more so bashing the opposition, and why? It's simple, the youth of today do not want to hear preaching, regardless of subject matter. For media to be most effective in it's approach it must appeal to the audience viewing it, which by and large in social networks is a younger crowd. What these videos do effectively, very effectively, is make Atheism seem so bad, or so absurd, religion must be the better choice.

Synopsis

I have supplied these examples and my review of them for one purpose. To show that media in all forms is being actively used to change and mislead the perspective of a large number of people through multiple different outlets. When you read that you may think, "That same argument could be used to up hold conspiracy theorists." The fundamental difference between the type of critical thinking I'm speaking of and the type of "critical thinking" conspiracy theorists do is that in my version of it you go out and look for evidence that makes rational sense regardless of your sensibilities, that is backed up by things like repeated experimentation and expert opinion. What a conspiracy theorist does is immediately discredit all information provided to them and systematically and perhaps subconsciously seek information that agrees with their more paranoid aspects. But that's a side note, simply take away from this that when viewing any media, it probably has an agenda of some sort or is being funded by somebody, and perhaps is not the most reliable source of information. 

A Guide on How to Completely Misunderstand Evolution

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
— Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species

What is Evolution?

A clear and present issue, in American society to say the least, is the topic of evolution. There is little contention among secular groups as to what or whether evolution is a valid theory. Misunderstanding it however, causes damaging societal ripples. In every aspect from education to politics it is important to grasp basic scientific theories before making comments concerning them. 

So what is evolution? It is easy to write it off with statements like, "Natural selection over time." or "Change within species." but this skirts around the fact that those who need to understand evolution will not understand these terms. So, simply put, evolution is the adaptation of a species through different means over large amounts of time. 

Microevolution and Macroevolution

Two terms lesser known yet equally important to full understanding evolution are microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is the process of change within a species, through means such as mutation or natural/artificial selection. Macroevolution is change on the species level or above, often considered to be microevolution over multiple periods of time. 

"Are you saying we came from monkeys?!?" 

No. Perhaps the most misunderstood concept of evolution is the term common ancestor. It is true that at some point in the geological past (approximately twenty-five million years ago) humans had a common ancestor with "monkeys." After this the species split off between monkeys and apes. To fully understand this however, an individual must understand what a common ancestor is. So, a common ancestor is the last species that relates two different species. The species they diverged from, so to say. While it is possible for a common ancestor to continue to exist while other species diverge from it, it is most common for that species to die out as a result of what caused the species to diverge. 

Proving it To Yourself

Still in need of concrete proof that evolution can/does happen? Well, let's participate in a bit of artificial selection. Artificial selection is the process of selecting against traits purposely, as opposed to natural selection which happens as a result of the environment. By simply spraying a can of disinfectant on your counter, you are participating in artificial selection. As any can of disinfectant will tell you, they kill "99.99% of germs" now ask yourself, "Why does .01% survive?" This is no accident. The germs that do survive have traits that make them resistant to that disinfectant. Now imagine that this same counter were only sprayed with that disinfectant forever, well, only the species that had held those traits previously would survive to procreate, thus causing microevolution. 

This can be seen more practically in the existence of MRSA, a form of Staphylococcus bacteria. This particular form of staph is resistant to the common antibiotic Methicillin, which allows it to survive in situations it's staph brethren can not. Without the existence of Methicillin there would be no MRSA, thus proving humans cause evolution through artificial selection. 

The Actual Topic

Now that we are past all of that blasphemy, here is a guide on how to completely misunderstand and misconstrue evolution:

#JeSuisCharlie, Brilliant Humanism, or Blatantly Ignoring the Issue?

What Happened?

As most everyone with an internet connection or cable television knows at this point, on January 7, 2015, two masked and armed individuals broke into the office of Charlie Hebdo. They proceeded to massacre twelve individuals including the editor of the satirical newspaper. Why, one might ask? All in the name of Islam, but of course. The newspaper had recently depicted Muhammad in a manner displeasing to the extremists, which was in their minds ample offense to warrant death. The cold blooded massacre generated a huge response within France and by the international community, most notably on Twitter. This lead to the new hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, unifying the masses against the violent deaths of those simply flexing their natural right to freedom of speech.

Let's Talk About Their Reasoning

As the assailants rushed into the office and began their assault, they were yelling the phrase, "Allahu Akbar" a commonly heard phrase among Islamic fanatics meaning "God is great." This phrase, to an atheist, holds no power. For them however, it is the ultimate in reasons to perform any action, whether it be killing or chewing gum. Their anger therefore stems from the fact that Charlie Hebdo took their "great" god, or in this case prophet, and showed it can be involved in satire like any other mythical entity. 

This is where I believe the media, and this glorious social movement, have dropped the ball. #JeSuisCharlie is a stand against extremism, it is a stand against violence, it is standing up for the freedom of speech, but what is it not? It avoids criticizing Islam as a whole, to the contrary as a movement it attempts to show that not all Muslims are like these few that committed the heinous acts, and ergo should not be held contemptibly for those actions. Beyond that and in a broader sense it fails to bring up the real root of the issue, religion. 

The Root of The Issue

It is a curious fact that for the most part humankind is good at eventually discarding bad ideas for new, better ones, but has failed to do so in terms of religion. It has been shown throughout history that no matter how many reasonable people subscribe to a given deity, that same deity is the perfect excuse to commit any act, no matter how evil. A few examples out of many are, The Jewish-Roman War, The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, The Holocaust, Slavery, the attacks on 9/11, the recent hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia, and now the Charlie Hebdo shooting. This disregards the justification of beheadings and torture throughout history, basically everywhere. Throughout all of this, however, humanity has held onto religion. Why? Well, I have covered the fact that religion is a socio-economic crutch for all of humankind, and I'll avoid going in depth on that idea due to the scope of this article. If you would like to read about that, you can find my argument in a more detailed sense, here.


So what do we hear in the case of this shooting? There's a lot of, "Extremist this-", or "Muslims that-." Which gives the audience complete tunnel vision as to whom or what is at fault. I do not wish to demonize or vilify Islam or it's adherents, however the point I wish to make is that all religion will always given reason to the reasonless. It is the end all be all for an answer without any meaning nor need for defense. An idea that is not logically assailable nor defensible is rationally inert and antiquated as an idea, and should be discarded, but we have not, and unfortunately, probably will not, for a long time. #JeSuisCharlie does an excellent job of bringing a humanist movement together, but fails to identify why the humanist movement needed to exist, and that is what needs to be brought to the forefront of society's tiny attention span. 

In Summary

#JeSuisCharlie effectively labels an act as wrong, as deemed by the international online community, but it does not effectively make society think about what can be done to prevent this from ever happening again. Simply standing together and shouting accomplishes well, very little. 

 

- Cory Harper


 

Feminism, Atheism & The South

I’ve questioned everything I was taught in my life for as long as I can remember. I questioned the Roman Catholic lifestyle I was raised on as soon as I was asked to start regularly confessing my sins to a priest. "Father, I think about boys a LOT. I saw porn for the first time. I swore at my parents under my breath." No, thank you. By 14, I was a closet atheist, trapped in religious schools with religious peers, and trapped by the misogyny that so often goes hand in hand with organized religion. Six years later, I decided to do something about it when I began to self-identify as a feminist. And then I realized - I’m stuck in the most backwards part of my country. I’m stuck in the South. I constantly want to leave. I want to move to a blue state, where my gay friends can get married, where everyone bikes to work, where feminism isn’t a joke, and where people say “good luck” more than they say “I’ll pray for you.” The Pacific Northwest or New England would be so much easier for me, but maybe Texas is where I need to be. Texas may not be the easiest place to grow a feminist movement, but it damn sure needs it the most. Texas women need feminism - they need strong leaders like Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte to remind them that their bodies are theirs and no one else’s. They need to know that nothing should prevent them from earning as much as a man, that the people who abuse and assault them will be punished swiftly, that no one deserves to feel unsafe on the five-minute walk from home to work. They need to know, and I’m going to be the one to tell them.

 -Tara Jones 

 

be-a-riot-grrrl.tumblr.com

The cause of mental warfare.

Transient


Have you ever spoken to another seemingly decent human being, and then they just get stuck on one subject?  Regardless of what the subject is, politics, religion, a book, a television series, a certain philosophy, they just can not leave it alone? 

We often think of these individuals as unbearable. The most deplorable sort of person that we would not wish to spend much time around. Oddly enough, we assume ourselves to not be part of the category this person belongs to, how could we be? Obviously since their behavior aggravates us, there is no way we also partake in it. I must unfortunately disagree.

It is this same sort of person, who given any sort of discrepancy with their view of the subject they speak of, well may you rest in the endless pit of Tartarus, if that gets the point across.

Often times this phenomenon is the result, or is synonymous with a phenomenon referred to as cognitive dissonance. While I am sure many of you are aware as educated blog readers what the aforementioned subject is, here is a brief definition:

Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.

Simply put, when we encounter attitudes or ideas that contradict the ones we currently hold, we may act or think irrationally to get rid of the discrepancy. 

Anybody, including myself, the reader, the site owner, the site owner's mother, is subject to this. It is extremely hard to recognize you have fallen for it except in hindsight. 

I personally would hold that this is metaphorically the cause of most wars, arguments, and general negative interactions between humans. And it holds true for all groups of people, here are a few examples:

If you are an atheist, you have probably encountered many an angry Christian replying to the things you post online. Even the most simple of ideas like, "Evolution is not a concept you can debate the reality of." may earn replies such as, "Yes, because it is not a reality."

If you are a Christian, you may have encountered the stereotypical, "Angry Atheist." Who, though they do not believe in your God and therefore should find your Christian statuses humorous, feel the need to bash even the most simple things. Such as the arbitrary posting of bible verses, which may earn you replies such as, "Nobody needs to see this nonsense." followed by a very well thought out waste of time, *cough* I mean paragraph.

Or the classic example of your mother telling you your room needs to be clean, and you believing your room is fine messy. Thus sparking a completely unneeded argument. 

My point, is that we need to start recognizing this phenomenon for what it is. If every time some arbitrary individual takes conflict with our point of view, inflaming them, and then we become inflamed by their contradiction to our contradiction of their point of view, no problems will ever be solved, none of society's problems, to say the least. If sought out, this issue can be seen in many major issues today, from those that believe their religion can not coexist with science, to politicians that believe their beliefs must never come to concession. 

In the end, before choosing to speak out towards someone, especially in a direct context, one might ask themselves, "Will they hear what I am saying?"

A Message From the Murky Depths

The Murky Depths

*Looks around to see that nobody is looking*

*Whispers, "Hi, I am an atheist, and I  live in the southern United States!"*

This is an experience I am sure many, if not all atheists who have inhabited the southern United States have felt. I live on the eastern coast, in the very southern tip of North Carolina, and it's an experience I go through daily. The South is what I consider a place of everlasting cultural norms, the breaking of which is forbidden practice, regardless of time, place, or etiquette. To perform this taboo by doing something as outrageous as say... not being a Protestant, is blasphemy at best, and you should be prepared to burn at the stake, or at least be called a Satanist. 

From what I gather the mentality is that being different is obtrusive towards the lives of all the regular folk. I have always found this to be quite odd considering I live with their customs mowing their way right through my life every day, and I am expected not to complain. Lets take a look at how this cultural attitude of not breaking norms might affect a person on a daily basis.

You are at work, and your boss has made the decision that everybody will stand, and say the Pledge of Allegiance. But lets say you do not wish to say the Pledge of Allegiance, although legally they can not punish you for choosing not to do it, you must now prepare to defend yourself from the onslaught of, "Why not move?" "Are you a communist?" or just the odd glances and behind the back banter. This extends into your religious beliefs. I sit at the dinner table, perhaps a large family gathering, and the family wants to hold hands and pray. While everyone bows their heads, I sit and watch as they accomplish absolutely nothing. My family then punishes me through use of the silent treatment, and conversations once I exit the room, saying anything to my face would not be, proper. 

The effect it has on how others treat you is permeable in every situation. The general assumption is, you are a "god fearing, decent person." If it is found to be otherwise, you gain a whole plethora of nicknames ranging from Godless Satanist to Socialist Homosexual. Because clearly your lack of religion directly correlates to you being everything they detest. 

According to a gallup poll, the top ten religious states are:

Is religion an important part of your daily life?
— Gallup
State %Yes
Mississippi 85
Alabama 82
South Carolina 80
Tennessee 79
Louisiana 78
Arkansas 78
Georgia 76
North Carolina 76
Oklahoma 75
Kentucky 74
Texas 74

Given these stats, and the fact that all of the states on the list are part of the Bible Belt, I would argue that the intrusive ones are theists. Not to mention the tumultuous amount of theist based laws, North Carolina for example, having passed "Amendment One" not too many years ago, to ban not only same-sex marriages, but any form of partnership that could exist as well. This was put in place over an already existing state law forbidding same-sex marriage.

From a southerner's point of view, my life is affected by theist views every day, and I have no escape. I, and others like me, are to bear the undue burden of persecution for our views, and I would be willing to bet many others who are too afraid to confess their views exist on the fringes. 

I am not here to argue that the South is filled with idiots, or that all southern etiquette is wrong and should be done away with, in fact I find the politeness to be quite refreshing at times. But this stuck in the past view that we must adhere to certain social standards is holding the entire country back, both from a legislative point of view and a social point of view. This attitude has stunted our federal government, and created sharp division between those who believe and those who do not believe, a war like attitude. I for one, would like to see a stop to it, the world needs to see we can be better than we are.

Satyahgraha, Fox News, and Handling how Atheists are treated in the US

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  - Mahatma K. Gandhi

 

  1.  Harbor no anger but suffer the anger of the opponent. Refuse to return the assault of the opponent.
  2. Do not submit to any order given in anger, even though severe punishment is threatened for disobeying.
  3. Refrain from insults and swearing.
  4.  Protect opponents from insult or attack, even at the risk of life.
  5. Do not resist arrest nor the attachment of property, unless holding property as a trustee.
  6.  Refuse to surrender any property held in trust at the risk of life.
  7.  If taken prisoner, behave in an exemplary manner.
  8.  As a member of a satyagraha unit, obey the orders of satyagraha leaders, and resign from the unit in the event of serious disagreement.
  9.  Do not expect guarantees for maintenance of dependents.

Above is the code of conduct Gandhi gave to his volunteers regarding his civil disobedience dealing with British rule.  This set of rules led to India and Pakistan becoming independent countries in 1947.  Martin Luther King Jr. used these rules as well to lead the equal treatment of African Americans in the United States. This created the 13th amendment of the constitution banning racial segregation. 

I am not here and are no way comparing the atheist discrimination in the United States to the events that Indian and African Americans dealt with.  I am here to say that we are handling atheist discrimination in the wrong manner.  More and more I see all subsidiaries of atheism attacking Christians without them doing anything, and the the result is thinking Atheists are worse people than before.  I know that being non-theist already is an insult to the religious, but calling them “stupid-fucks”(even though we may think it from time to time) isn’t solving anything, and instead is making our problem worse. We are gaining numbers daily (Europe already has some dominant secular countries) and for good cause to, we are intellectual and cognitive people, but I think that we need to take some steps back and see if we are really approaching this the right way especially in light of new court cases dealing with separation of church and state. 

Fox News host Dana Perino (those words alone are already making you cringe, I can tell) recently said on television that Atheists should leave the country if they do not like “under god” in the pledge of allegiance.  We all would like to perform a sort of Coup d'état against their network, but lets get real that’s not happening.  But lets focus on what they were talking about, The family that is suing Massachusetts’ school district to remove “under god” from the pledge of allegiance that is recited daily in United States classrooms.   The parents say that having their daughter recite that phrase is not something they want her saying that because it “promoting and propagating the idea that good patriots are God believers.” And I think we can all agree on that statement, and if this is being preached daily in classes by children that can’t cognitively process there own beliefs yet, the pledge turns into a pottery wheel spinning and shapes children’s mind like clay.  How we handle ourselves as a community will ultimately decide the outcome( and of course the judges as well.)

 

Is Christianity the World's Largest Religion?

We constantly hear that Christianity is the world's largest religion, with 2 to 2.2 billion adherents.  But did you know that in order to get those numbers, you have to lump Catholics with Protestants, and even Mormons into the equation? 

Many religious experts point out that Hinduism and Buddhism are both Indian religions, and could be compared to Catholics and Protestants.  Like Catholicism,  Hindu's are full of iconography and worship multiple religious heroes, and deities. While both Protestants and Buddhists tend to keep things a bit more simple and concentrate on only the top level figures in their belief system. 

So why is it that when compiling numbers for Western religions, statisticians feel it is fine to lump all Western religions into one grand number, but not for Eastern religions? Could it simply be Western bias, as they don’t want to acknowledge the real numbers?

Let's take a look at the four biggest world religions in the way the numbers are currently presented by Western biased statisticians:

  • Christianity                  2.2 Billion        
  • Islam                           1.6 Billion        
  • Hinduism                     1.1 Billion        
  • Buddhism                    488 Million        

What numbers do we see if we treat Hinduism and Buddhism in the same manner that Christianity is treated?

  • Christianity                  2.2 Billion        
  • Islam                           1.6 Billion  
  • Hindu-Buddhism        1.5 Billion      

Now, let's do the opposite and split Christianity apart in the same way they have split the Indian religions apart.  When we do this, you get the following:

  • Islam                           1.6 Billion
  • Catholic                       1.2 Billion
  • Hinduism                     1.1 Billion  
  • Buddhism                    0.48 Billion 
  • Protestantism              0.48 Billion
  • Eastern Orthodox       0.30 Billion

So, what is the answer to our question?  Is Christianity the world's largest religion?  The answer is that it is only the biggest if you unfairly lump all of the Western religions into one pile and compare them against the Eastern religions in separate piles.        

And yes, we could of course have broken Islam into two separate branches, but the differences in Sunni and Shia are nowhere near as great as the differences we see within Catholicism, let alone the vast differences within Protestants.  Note: There are currently more than 33,000 known variants within the "Protestant" belief system.   

In short, the idea that Christianity is the world's largest religion is a Western biased view.

 

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First Post: Our Community

Welcome to our blog! This is going to be a bi-weekly blog for great discussion of topics varying from atheism, agnosticism, and science!   We want to start off giving a view of our vision for our atheist community. 

I have always wanted to bring non-theists together to do something good for the world. Absence of Clothing is just that thing.  We create apparel that is purchased through you, the fellow non-theist, then send a collective donation that we address in a letter to the organizations. And though the checks aren't large now, soon others will recognize what we are doing and join our fight to show that we can truly be good without god. 

Some may wonder why we don't give the other 50% of our profits to charity and we would like to address that now.  We didn't want to start off taking out a huge loan to fund campaigns that may not have gone anywhere. Instead we decided to be economical and use the other 50% to pay for the costs of starting new campaigns and covering the costs of existing campaigns.  One day once we become larger, we would like to give 100% of our profits to charity, but until then we will remain at where we are now.  

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