Monthly Archives: April 2012

Notable Atheist: Ira Glass

“I just find I don’t believe in God. It just doesn’t seem to be true, and no amount of thinking about it seems to make it true. It seems inherently untrue. And the thing that’s hard about honing that position is, as a reporter, I’ve seen many times how a belief in God has transformed somebody’s life. In all the ways I feel like you can witness God’s work here on earth, I feel like I’ve seen that. I’ve met a lot of people — it’s been the thing that’s changed them, that’s sustained them in a way that I wish I could believe. But I simply find I don’t and I don’t feel like it’s something I have a choice about. I could pretend I believe a God exists, but the world seems explainable to me without it.”

“I remember, even when I was growing up a little kid, it all seemed, especially the Christian version — arbitrary. That the entire universe would be created, and the system that was set up was: you could actually lead a perfectly good life, and a life organized around good deeds and caring for others, and yet if you simply didn’t accept Jesus himself, the Creator of the Universe would feel so vengeful about it that you’d be condemned to an eternity of torture. It just seemed like a really weird system. Like what difference would it make to the Creator of Everything? The whole thing seemed really arbitrary. Even as a kid, I felt like, “Well, if that’s the system: fine. I accept my damnation. I don’t think it’s a fair system. But fine.” I just don’t believe.”

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Video: The hidden beauty of pollination

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Religion: Of Mockery and Respect

Over the past two weeks, I was sounded out a few times for my lack of respect shown towards religion. Of the three incidents I could recall, two of them were Christians, demanding a little respect for Mr. JC and his sycophants. I made a couple of Easter jokes on Facebook and Twitter alike.

Exhibit A
I wish I had an epic weekend like Jesus did.

“Huh? Where am I? What am I doing in a cave? Oh my father, did I pass out for 3 days? I knew I shouldn’t have had that last tequila shot with Judas…”

RESPECT, is derived from the Latin word “respectus” meaning regard; as a noun, the word describes a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. As a verb, it’s the action of admiring someone or something deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Contemplating on the word admiration, respect is something undoubtedly positive, a humanistic elucidation of deserving praise.

Respect is earned, very much like any other societal concession; religion has done nothing to deserve any respect – pedophilia, homophobia, misogyny, murder, and rape are just a few arguments against this morally-corrupt system of belief. Religion, like politics, is not beyond mockery. If religious people want society to respect religion, the first step would be to sort out the ascertained flaws within the system they adhere to. Theists are keen to demand respect and tolerance from outside, but religion has done nothing to reciprocate the same level of respect and tolerance for basic human rights.

Granted, like all system of beliefs, we will find moderates and extremists residing within the same contextual parameters. Many moderates would argue that they do not condone the extremist stance of others within their organization, hence, demanding that their moderation be respected for its positive characteristics. Unfortunately, I will politely decline that notion. First off, why don’t the moderates focus that celebrated moderation on ensuring the collective they belong to demonstrate respect and tolerance for others, instead of whining and moaning outwardly, pathetically begging for sympathy from a society that has been diversified through education and rationality? Secondly, Christianity and Islam (for example) have a begrimed relationship with the LGBT community while struggling to respect a woman’s right to equality – these are just simple examples sans any elaboration and details. If so, What am I disrespecting? I would not respect a homophobe, I would not respect a rapist, I would not respect anyone that infringes upon the basic human rights of fellow human being. Aforementioned homophobic/rapist could be the most prominent philanthropist in modern history and I would still refuse to show that individual any form respect. Religion as an entity has proven itself to be a perverted despot seeking to control and manipulate the masses, while committing and advocating countless acts of terror throughout history. What about it proves itself worthy of respect?

Until then, I shall leave you with a pleasant joke I stumbled upon through my misadventures on the internet.

My town’s too poor to have a priest. Our nun has to use a strap-on.

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My Atheist Dilemma: Truth and Reality

I am currently working closely with an indigenous children’s home based in Malaysia. They are undoubtedly the most wonderful bunch of kids I have met in my life. Their attitude towards life, and the drive to break out of a socio-political system that seeks to marginalize them is a lesson by itself. These kids have been raised as Christians by their pious caretaker – and “mother”, as she’s lovingly known to the children – who in my opinion, is an incredible human being. She took these kids out of the jungle, and raised them almost single-handedly – providing shelter, education, and food.

The other day, during the English tutoring session I conduct weekly with the children, one of the young ones asked me,”Do you go to church? Do you love Jesus?” I smiled, as best as I could, showing off my rarely revealed dimple in an attempt to avoid an awkward situation. When I realized he was still looking directly at me, I diverted his attention by talking about a Smurf’s book I brought along for class.

This whole incident got me thinking: To what extent should I allow my personal beliefs and principles dictate my influence on these children? 

On one hand, I have nothing but respect for their caretaker, who has treated me dearly, cooking wonderful meals for me frequently; she reminds me of my late grandmother. I respect her for what she’s doing, and I respect her personal belief. On the other hand, I am this Militant Atheist and Humanist, who is adamant that religion should not dictate education. Take the issue of Creationism versus Evolution, I am certain that evolution is real, because of all the facts and evidence presented by Science; while the evidence for Creationism or Intelligent Design wouldn’t even complete two sentences. The kids believe that god created them, I held my tongue back furiously when I heard one of them making that statement. Do I attempt to challenge the status quo of this peaceful and loving eco-system, or am I forcefully pushed into a corner of silence, accepting that Christianity is the established system of belief at this home, with these children?

For now, I have decided that I would be more helpful to them by educating them sans the destruction of the religious bubble they reside in. I would not want to risk angering or upsetting the caretaker and ruin my relationship with the children.

However, I can’t promise myself that I wouldn’t strike back the next time the science of reality is challenged by the bogus science of religion.

Thank the Education

Common Christian Testimony: “I want to thank god for blessing me. He cured my sickness, he healed me. Thank you all for the prayers…”

No! Thank the doctor for being diligent at honing his skills as a medical professional. Thank the nurses for aiding the doctor and caring for you. Thank the hospital for providing the doctor the facilities to treat you. Thank the university the doctor graduated from; that’s where his specialized knowledge came from. Thank the influential Scientific figures who laid the foundation for modern medical science. Thank the factory that made the medical tools and equipment that were used in the process of treating you. Thank the chemists and the labour workers who made all the medication you were prescribed.

Thank the everyday heroes, not the intangible myth that resides only within the confines of your own delusions.

Take a good hard look, the common denominator in all of this is not god, but education. Every process of this gratitude, every individual and organization, stands on the rostrum of education. As John Dewey, philosopher and psychologist, once said: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

“Respect is earned, simple. Religion has done nothing to deserve any respect. As a rationalist and humanist, I will not acquiesce it.” – Me

Why Do I Care?

A few weeks ago, someone asked me: Why do you care about what religious people think? Why can’t you just go on living your life, letting people believe what they want to? Why must you attack and fight against religion? 

About five or six years ago, while I was still a student at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), I attended an exhibition and talk on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at the university. I can’t recall the details of the event – the date or the organizers – but there was something I could never forget. There was this one photo of a young girl, probably aged 9 or 10 years old, sitting in a pool of blood and urine, with a discarded razor not far away. What bothered me was that the girl wasn’t crying, the salt lines of dried tears were visible on her face, but there was something horrifying in her eyes – they were dead and hollow.

I wasn’t vocal about my anti-religious stance back then, and neither did I become one right after that experience. As the years passed, I began rationalizing the world around me, coming to the conclusion that I am an Anti-Theist and a Humanist. Throughout this journey of discovery, I never forgot that horrifying image of that little girl. The eyes, those morbid eyes, never left me.

I am no hero or saviour, nor do I intend to be one. However, if there’s even one person in this world being subjected to such abhorrent evil, we must care. We must fight against it, we must annihilate the source of this injustice. There are many more malfeasance being perpetrated by religion – rape, murder, slavery, oppression, homophobia, and genocide, to name a few. I must oppose these moral crimes, not because I hate religion, but because I cherish humanity. If we don’t care for the weak and the innocent, the helpless and the oppressed, who will then? God? I don’t think so.

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