Thursday, December 1, 2011

Not-So-Holly Jollies

There are many Atheists who celebrate Christmas and many who don't. Many feel it has outgrown any religious context, others think the religious aspects are stronger than ever. Some hear the pleasant sounds of the season creating a wonderful atmosphere, others can't stand the noise and constant praising of a baby savior.

Regardless how you look at it, Atheists think about Christmas very differently than Christians do. As there are many people out there who are going to be celebrating Christmas with an Atheist, I felt it only right to answer a very important question. Keep in mind, I will be speaking from personal experience as I cannot speak for everyone around the world.

"How do Atheists celebrate Christmas?"

Not surprisingly, it isn't very different from how a lot of people celebrate Christmas. We enjoy the music, love to give presents, and are overall happier during this time of year, if celebrated correctly. However, there are some major differences that may be present, and they change from person to person.

1. The music

There are three different categories that you must be aware of. There are those of us who hate the music this time of year specifically because it is played on repeat for three months straight. There are also those who love all of the music and appreciate the culture that surrounds this holiday. The most prominent, however, are those that enjoy the "X-Mas" songs but not the "Christmas" songs.

Essentially, if they hear anything about Jesus during this time of year they will want to change the station or skip the track. Typically they will enjoy the music, just not the lyrics. Some can ignore the lyrics and just concentrate on the music, but most of them refuse to listen to them at all. As I said, though, not all songs are bad. Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Up on the House Top, these songs are all great and remind them of the joyous times ahead.

Good rule of thumb, if you'd typically find it sung by a choir, try to get an instrumental version of it. At least then you have some leeway and can learn what kind of Atheist you are celebrating with.

2. The decorations

At a church you will typically see a manger scene, perhaps an angel on top of a tree, various obviously religious aspects. These are things you will rarely find in an Atheist household, for obvious reasons. Again, there are those who don't mind these decorations and actually find them to be rather lovely in the right placement, then there are those who despise anything that even remotely relates to the religious side of the holiday. And, just like with the music, you'll mostly find those that are half-way between these states.

If your Atheist enthusiastically puts up a Christmas tree, they are probably not 100% against these decorations. Watch what they start putting on the tree or what they buy for decorating their house. These are important clues and can even help in determining the other aspects they like about the holiday. If they buy a star and not an angel, try to avoid obviously religious aspects. If they do buy angels, but not too many, don't be afraid to talk about the religious aspects or get them something that looks nice just because it is religious, but don't over-do it.

If you'll find it at a church, steer clear until you know they won't mind.

3. Activities

This is rather easy to guess most of the time. The majority of Atheists won't go to any church or participate in any religious activities. However, there are a few that will for various reasons. Some attend just to make fun of the religious (best to avoid the situation altogether) and some are more than willing to participate if they have family or friends that enjoy them. And then there are some that refuse outright.

There is no majority in this case, so you'll have to play this one by ear. Watch what they do and make casual mentions here and there and you'll usually get an honest answer out of them before long without any feelings getting hurt.

4. The rest

You can pretty much guess all of the minor details from here. A lot of the time you won't even know an Atheist who celebrates Christmas from anyone else who does. They enjoy a lot of the same activities, music, and decorations, with only minor changes. Once you can pick out these minor changes, you'll know the kind of Atheist you are celebrating with, and everyone involved can have a much more enjoyable holiday season, even if it is a little more secular than you're used to.

In the spirit of giving, this year I've decided to throw in a bonus question.

"Do Atheists celebrate Kwanza and other religious holidays?"

Just like with Christmas, a lot of Atheists will celebrate these other religious holidays, around the world and throughout the year, if they have grown up with them and can still appreciate the greater meaning behind them. They will celebrate them differently most of the time, with the differences being similar to what I described above, but they will usually see nothing wrong with maintaining a tradition they grew up with, as long as it can be modified to suit their new beliefs, or lack there of.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sinful Comedy

Recently, as a part of Halloween, I learned about an interesting building known as a Hell House. Apparently, some Christians decided they didn't like Halloween and instead put up their own haunted house tour that involved a ton of different sins, what you have to do to be absolved of them, and what happens if you don't do those things. They find these things to be terrifying and a real wake up call, much better than any Halloween activity. In fact, this kind of attraction has spread all over the US, especially in the heavily Christian areas. So it comes as no surprise to find this question being asked every year.

"Why aren't Atheists affected by or concerned with what they see in a Hell House?"

Well, the answer is quite simple. We've seen worse. In Haunted Houses, in Halloween movies, in chilling video games, we've seen far worse things done to far more innocent people. Sure, the real thing would still churn our stomaches, but more fakery will do nothing.

However, I don't think that's what the question is really asking. I think it's asking on a spiritual level. Well, that's a little harder to explain without offending anyone. I'll do my best, but keep in mind that I have no intention of offending anyone at any time.

Basically, we don't see any of it as real or anything to worry about. That should be no surprise by now, but for some reason it still is. Atheists typically don't believe in souls or an afterlife or any kind of deity that will punish us. And the typical Hell House is chock full of misrepresentations. For example, Magic the Gather leading children to "the occult" is a flat out lie. If anything, it keeps them away from it as it shows them that, should it really exist, magic can be very dangerous. And, besides that, it's just a card game. It's not like they actually think they are casting creatures to do their bidding. Also, the "occult" is not always bad, either. There are those who practice only white magic, abilities meant to only help others.

With all of the inaccuracies and corny acting, the typical Atheist will have a great deal of trouble keeping from laughing, even if they are a very nice person, willing to hear out the host's views. This is why they are ineffective. They have a great deal of misinformation and they don't target the things Atheists typically care about. These houses are usually geared toward preaching to the converted and their children, keeping the new generation grounded within the confines of their religion.

You can't expect that kind of thing to win over a steadfast disbeliever, now can you?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Historical Non-Belief

Considering this is the second anniversary of the Land of Disillusionment, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look back into history, the history of Atheism, that is.

Although many refuse to believe it, Atheism has been around for many centuries in many forms. It has always been there to define cultures, philosophies, and logical thinking. And yet, there are many who honestly believe that Atheism is a recent movement, something that began in only the 18th century. While there is some truth to this, it is still far from reality.

"Just how old is Atheism?"

Believe it or not, Atheism has always existed, though not in the same form. Even before Theism, Atheists walked the Earth.

"The earliest evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods. Archeologists refer to apparent intentional burials of early homo sapiens from as early as 300,000 years ago as evidence of religious ideas."

As described in many blog posts, Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. As such, all it takes for Atheism to be around is to not believe in gods. Without knowledge of gods, there is no belief in them.

However, Atheism, as an opposite to Theism, arrived significantly later. Before then, Atheism was simply a lack of belief, a philosophy without a name. It wasn't until the 6th century BCE that Atheism became an opposing philosophy, and we didn't even have a name until the 16th century CE. That was when the greeks came up with the name Atheos, godless.

As I said, though, there is some truth to those that think Atheism didn't show up until the 18th century. Modern Atheism is slightly different from the older philosophies. While older Atheism was completely pacifist and more geared toward belief than actual knowledge, Modern Atheism is not willing to roll over to anyone and is very focused on science, logic, and rational free thinking. This actually started with a romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who submitted an anonymous paper to the dean of Oxford University titled The Necessity of Atheism, and was subsequently kicked out. If not for this man and many others like him, Atheism would not be what it is today.

So there you go, a brief history of Atheism. I hope you've learned something, or at least didn't fall asleep while reading all of it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Good Intentions

As I have mentioned many times before, the one thing all Atheists must do is defend their position, their reason for not believing in any deities. Just like all theists must defend their reason for believing in their chosen god(s). Although I am firmly against this blog directly attacking any religion, Atheistic or otherwise, I also feel it is important to offer ampule evidence, reason, and logic to help those who must defend themselves.

I'm sure you can see my dilemma.

As such, I must offer a refutation, one that can be seen as an attack. And while my refutation will be specific, its use can be quite generalized. I would just like to clear up that this is not an attack, just a specific example, like the ones I have used in the past. In fact, it is a response to the Problem of Evil argument.

"Just because God CAN do something, that doesn't mean he WILL do it!"

I can see where this is coming from, but under the circumstances, I'm afraid I must disagree.

For those who are not familiar with the Problem of Evil argument, it typically goes as follows:

If God is willing, but not able, why call him omnipotent?
If God is able, but not willing, why call him benevolent?
If God is both willing and able, why is there evil?
If God is neither willing nor able, why call him God?

The above quote is a generalization of the typical answer. It usually takes the form of "No one understands his ways" or "Perhaps he requires something from us?"

The reason I disagree is because we are not using the actual God as the example. We are using what we have described him as in various conversations and documents. God is almost always described as All Knowing, All Powerful, and All Loving. Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent. If these are the characteristics and abilities we are attributing to God, then there are certain things God will and won't do.

For example, God would not cause harm, as he is omnibenevolent, God can do anything, as he is omnipotent, and God knows everything, as he is omniscient. One characteristic and two abilities.

If God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent, all at the same time, then there are three things we can infer from this.

1) God is able to do good
2) God knows how to do good.
3) God is willing to do good.

This falls into the third premise of the Problem of Evil argument, "Why is there evil?" If God wants to do as much good as possible, and can do anything, and knows both of these things, why has he not eliminated evil? Why does it still exist?

As stated, one of the arguments I have received on this topic basically said "He is expecting something from us and will not help until then." That's all well and good, but that means he is not yet willing to help. He is unwilling to do good in this instance. Which brings us back to #2, why call him benevolent?

As for the final argument, "God works in mysterious ways," there is only one response. There must be something that is more good than removing all that is bad. If this is the case, then there is only one thing left to do, one question left to ask.

What good act could be greater than eliminating everything that is bad?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Selfish Individuality (Atheistic Myths #4)

As stated before, most myths about Atheism seems to stem from a lack of knowledge about the simple definition of Atheism. However, there are times when the definition does not even factor into the myth. In fact, some myths seem to come from what could almost be described as jealousy. It's kind of strange, really, especially since there is nothing to be jealous about.

Here's one that I get a lot when I discuss my atheism online.

"You're just an atheist so that you can do whatever you want!"

Actually, that's not true at all. Being an Atheist means we answer to the laws of humans, not anything or anyone else. We are limited to what the majority of humans want us to do. Sure, some people like to break the law, and there are those that like to think the ones that got away with it are punished after they die, but life isn't that fair.

One major part of this myth comes from an earlier topic I discussed, the claim that Atheists don't have any morals. As I said then, and will restate now, that is far from the truth. Atheists have a great deal of morals, usually the same ones Theists have. We simply tend to believe science when they say our morals stem from the evolution of the brain and majority opinion within society.

The other part, in my opinion, stems from a certain jealousy. A Theist that makes this claim may actually be a little jealous of the Atheist's supposed freedom. However, they are just as "free" as we are, they just choose to see it differently.

Again, with any myth, there is a bit of truth to the tale. Some people who become Atheists are leaving religions that restricted them in many ways. As a passive example, Jews are not allowed to eat pork products. As such, a Jewish person becoming an Atheist might be allowed to eat all of the pork they want. They would be allowed additional freedom they did not enjoy before. As I stated, though, this is simply a way of looking at things. The Jewish people have always been capable of eating pork, they simply choose not to based on their beliefs. The freedoms are there, it is simply a matter of whether or not you choose to accept them.

As for the core part of this myth, freedoms, whether perceived or otherwise, are not the reason most people become Atheists, it is merely a perk. Most Atheists are either born Atheists or become them through a lack of belief. The freedoms noticed might be a factor in their beliefs changing, but it is the change in beliefs that is the true reason Theists become Atheists.

No amount of freedoms can change your beliefs.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Self Respect (Atheistic Myths #3)

In earlier posts you may have seen me write about how Atheism is simply a lack of belief in deities. However, it would appear that a lot of the myths surrounding Atheism are based on this not being the case. Most myths I have found have almost exclusively focused on us presumably having a deeper faith that we hide, even from ourselves at times. As this series of posts continues, I'm going to note just how many of these myths focus on an incorrect definition of Atheism.

Perhaps this one will put things into perspective:

"Everyone worships/believes something. Atheists just worship/believe in themselves."

While it is rather difficult to have absolutely no beliefs of any kind, it is still entirely possible. However, let's not focus on that, as it is still a rarity. Let's focus on the second half of this, where Atheists worship themselves or only believe in themselves. Worshipping oneself is a lot more difficult than most people realize. For starters, the definition of worship is typically something like this:

The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
~ Google: Define: Worship

Unless one considers themselves a deity, it is rather difficult to even consider worship. And to consider yourself a deity, you must believe in them, which Atheists don't. However, there is the other half of this sentence to consider, the part where Atheists only believe in themselves. This is also not true.

As I have said before, there are Atheistic religions. Taoists, Buddhists, Jainists, Hindus, Pagans, many religions have Atheistic qualities and/or subsets. Even Jews and Christians have members amongst their ranks who consider themselves to be Jews and Christians while not believing in any deities. And we haven't even considered the many smaller religions dedicated to Naturalism and Humanism. In fact another way this myth is presented is that Atheists worship Humanity or Nature. Again, this would raise them up to be deities.

All of this aside, let's look at the underlying problem with this myth. Atheists, in general, don't have to worship anything. This myth is based on the supposed fact that worship is a requirement for a healthy life. No worship is required, even amongst those who do believe in deities. Take the Wiccans, for example. They do not all worship their gods, some make their gods work for them with their incantations. Yet, these people are theists. They believe in very powerful deities. They just also believe that humans are in control.

So, we have established that it is possible to go your entire life without worship. One would know this if they simply looked at the definitions of these words. Worship requires deities, Atheism requires a lack of deities. These two things are completely incompatible. And this is the second myth I've tackled that was based on a false assumption of what Atheism is. How many more myths are based on this one, larger myth?

The answer may surprise you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Split Differences (Atheistic Myths #2)

All across the internet you will find battles being waged in written word, audio casts, video logs, and even graphical imagery. These are the same battles which used to take place exclusively on street corners, television, and news papers. Modern technology has enabled us to pass along ideas faster than they can be truly (or truthfully) expressed. As such, there are many myths and legends being created based on rumors, misrepresentation, and the previously mentioned battles. Nowhere near the outside of this fray is of course the constant debates between Atheists and Theists. In fact, a great deal of misrepresented information across the internet is usually presented by these two groups about the other.

As this is an Atheism centric blog, we will continue to focus on the myths generated by debates with Atheists. As such, let's get under way.

"All Atheists hate God."

While this can apply to all deities, the Christian god seems to be the most dominant with this statement. So, do all Atheists hate God? Of course not. However, there are some that do, for varying reasons.

Like any myth or legend, there is some truth behind it. If there wasn't, then it would not have become so popular. While personal experience tells me that most Atheists do not hate God, as it is literally impossible to hate something you do not even believe in, there are those that look at God, the portrayed character, and focus a bit of hatred onto him. These are the same people that proclaim proudly that they would rather join Satan's army than God in heaven. There are also people who declare themselves to be Atheists but still believe in God enough to hate him as a person.

People who fit the definition of Atheist (one who lacks a belief in gods) are not capable of hating God as a person. Hate of a character believed to be fictional is possible but hardly strong enough to be considered true hatred. As such, it is actually quite rare when you find a self-proclaimed Atheist that will also hate God or any other deity. They might as well make up a person on the spot and hate them.

If there is any real hatred there, then they might not really be an Atheist.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Atheistic Myths #1

It's probably fairly obvious by now, as I have been late on blog posts two months in a row, but it is fairly hard to write about Atheism without feedback month after month. We are almost two years in and I've already re-wrote topics and posted about nonsense. However, I still think this blog should continue. If any theist ever finds this blog and wants to learn about Atheism, I want them to have up-to-date information. On that note, I think we should look back on the old myths of Atheism and correct them with our modern knowledge.

"There are no Atheists in Fox Holes."

This has been around for quite some time. The problem is, while the strain of combat is enough to alter the mental state of any person, this does not guarantee that all Atheists, when placed into a combat situation, will instantly convert to one religion or another. In fact, it is not very often at all that anyone changes their religious views, even during the strain of combat. Personalities will drastically change before reasoning and logic.

On the other side, it is also possible for this to work on those who already have strong religious views. While it is just as likely as converting an Atheist, it is possible for anyone to change religions or lose their faith entirely. As such, not only are their Atheists who remain as Atheists while within fox holes, there are brand new Atheists being created because of them.

For more information, and actual letters from Atheists placed into such situations with their lack of faith intact, see this article:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Daunting Answers

Quite often on sites like YouTube or Facebook you will find Atheists and Theists battling. There is a lot of fire and smoke on both sides and the end result is usually a stalemate, for one reason or another. Rarely, though, is it because of both sides being on equal ground. More often than not it is because one side or the other (or both) does not understand what their opponent is actually saying. The question is understood, but the answer is not. Today we will be focusing on one such situation. This is one of the most asked questions posed to Atheists, and is also quite old.

"What if you're wrong?"

About what? The usual Atheist response is that they have nothing to be wrong about. Agnostic Atheism, a lack of belief in gods, is quite dominant amongst Atheists, and really has nothing to be right or wrong about. On occasion, though, you will come across Gnostic Atheists, and I believe this question is geared more toward them. So, the rest of this will be answered from the perspective of a Gnostic Atheist.

First thing I should point out is where this question comes from. Whether the Theist presenting it realizes this or not, this is not a new question. This question was first posed to the public at large by the french philosopher Blaise Pascal in his notes, published as Pensées (thoughts).

  1. "God is, or He is not"
  2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
  4. You must wager. It is not optional.
  5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

Basically, what Pascal is saying here is that if you wager that God exists, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. On the other hand, if you wager that God does not exist you have nothing to gain and everything to lose. So why not believe in God? The main problem with Pascal's Wager is that it incorrectly identifies the possible outcomes as well as the available choices.

Let's look at just his example for a moment.

Table of Payoffs Believe in God Don't believe in God
God doesn't exist 0 0
God does exist +∞ (heaven) -∞ (hell)

The problem here is that you don't know which god is real, if any. If the Christian god was the only god available, then I could see this wager working. It would be quite logical. However, there are thousands if not millions of gods proposed by Theists around the world. Most of them are not at all like the Christian god. In fact, in the infinite possibilities we find ourselves faced with, it is possible that there is a god that supports Atheism.

So now the chart becomes this:

Table of Payoffs Believe in God Don't believe in God
God doesn't exist 0 0
Legalistic religious god exists +∞ (heaven) -∞ (hell)
Anti-conventional god exists -∞ (hell) +∞ (heaven)

Now there is no gamble. your chances are the same no matter what you believe in.

In response to questions such as Pascal's Wager, Atheists have come up with their own gamble. Basically, the Christian god, as well as most gods, is considered benevolent. There are a few malevolent ones out there as well, but the majority seem to reward good behavior more than actual faith. Essentially, most gods have their system set up where you get your reward by being good despite your loyalties. Those that condemn you despite how benevolent you have been to others would be considered a malevolent deity.

With this in mind, the chart now becomes this:

Table of Payoffs Good life Evil life
Benevolent god exists +∞ (reward) -∞ (punishment)
No god exists +Finite -Finite
Malevolent god exists -∞ (punishment) -∞ (punishment)

With this in mind, there is no reason to believe. All you need to do is live a life of good and whatever happens happens. You can believe whatever you want, as long as you don't try to harm anyone and try your best to help others.

So, to answer the original question: "What if you're wrong?" Nothing will happen. Whether we are right or we are wrong, as long as we have lived a good life we should be fine. If we have lived a bad life, whether or not we are right or wrong, we will experience problems. If we are wrong, and the deity is malevolent, whether or not we do good or not we will have severe problems.

Since the consequences either mirror actual life or don't correspond to the situation at all, we live as though this life is all we have. To us, this is it. We don't know if there is anything after this life, so we don't even think about it. We live life for now, not for then. That's all it takes. We live a good life now we are rewarded now. If we get rewarded later, that's good too. Gnostic and Agnostic Atheists both live their lives this way.

If there is a god, and it is benevolent, we will be fine. Who cares if we're wrong?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Plausible Possibilities

Quite often when an Atheist tells a Theist that they have a lack of belief in gods, it tends to lead to the Theist thinking they believe there are no gods. When our position is explained more, their knowledge of it switches to the opposite end, that all gods are possible, so why don't we believe in their god(s) then? Well, it would appear we have a new question on our hands.

"If Atheists believe gods are possible, why don't they believe in any known gods?"

To put it bluntly, we see no reason to. When we look at all of the gods currently "revealed" to man, we can't see a single one that, to us, makes any sense. That's not to say they don't make any sense at all, nor am I saying they are all false gods. All that means is that we see nothing that would suggest they are real while we see things that suggest to us that they are fake.

I'll put it this way. When we see gods depicted in holy books, we usually see ourselves in those gods. When we see decisions made by those gods, we ask ourselves if we would make the same choice given the situation described. Unfortunately, most of the time, we respond with a resounding no.

I can't speak for every Atheist, but I know what I would do if I was a god.

With ultimate power, being able to do anything possible and know everything, I would have two choices ahead of me if I wanted to create man. Do I make myself known to man or not? And what is the final goal of man? Is man meant to be a partner? A legacy? A friend?

If I were to make myself known to man, I would influence them significantly. There would be serious repercussions that I would have to actively counter or compliment. This would require intervening whenever man would go astray. Countering after the fact would be inefficient, so prevention would be the best method. Teach man what is wrong and why. If man continued to do wrong, further teaching would obviously be needed. Knowing everything, though, I would also know exactly how to teach man to never do wrong again without harming anyone.

On the other hand, if I were to not reveal myself to man, I must also be aware of the repercussions of this decision, something I would have no further control over. As such, I would have to make the universe and man in such a way as to bring them, eventually and efficiently, to their goal. Not revealing myself also means never intervening with man's progress. They would have to be by themselves, no one to gain knowledge from, no one to show them what is right and wrong. As I used my power to make a universe set on the right path, they would eventually learn everything they needed to know. However, before that point they would be stumbling through the dark. They would be trying to find any meaning to life they could, creating their own religions and faiths to explain their presence or relying on science to discover it for themselves.

In both cases, man would arrive at the goal set before them. Both would require full use of Omniscience and Omnipotence. Both require gods to exist. And, as I see it, these are the only possibilities for a benevolent god, one with good intentions for man or any other creation. For the first option to be real, I would have to have heard or seen god, regardless how I think. He would be an active, known force. My mind would be changed in an instant, before I harmed anyone with my stray, incorrect thoughts. I would still have the same amount of will I have now, I would simply be taught better.

Since the first option is not occurring, I must default myself to the other option. If any god exists at all, he or she must be taking a backseat to our development. This god would have set the universe in motion to be able to reach the desired conclusion as fast as possible, all on its own. This would mean that all of the gods we know about were all man made, not real gods.

Again, this is all my opinion. This is, however, my reasoning for believing gods can exist, but don't have to, and aren't any that man knows about. My opinion can change, if given a reason to, but that reason has yet to surface. Perhaps it will one day, but until that day comes I will continue to promote Atheism in a positive light.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Bond Greater Than Spiritual

As The months has become February, many young minds are looking forward to the one day of the year when it is acceptable for macho men to consider the colors pink and purple in a serious way. Many people think of Valentine's Day as the most romantic day of the year, and the perfect day to show that person you are with that your truly love them. While some may be offering candies and flowers to their loved one, others are taking the day more seriously by taking the next step. What is the next step? I'm glad you asked, as it brings us to this month's question.

"How do Atheists get married?"

Believe it or not, the process is very similar, but the devil's in the details, if you'll pardon the pun. Traditionally, these days, marriage is a religious ceremony. Any time anyone wants to get married they perform a ritual based on their religion. But atheists may not have a religion to fall back on. So how does an Atheist hold a wedding? Here's the part you might not believe. There actually are Atheists that can perform marriage ceremonies!

Thanks to sites like there are ways of gaining the ability to marry people, legally, for free. These people then join couples, legally, and even get paid to do so! Of course, to actually do this, you'd have to be serious about wanting the job. Otherwise, everyone would hate you for not doing it the way they wanted it and you wouldn't get any money at all.

And that's the real kicker, here. Since this is an Atheist wedding, you can have it any way you want! As long as nothing is illegal, you can do whatever you want at your wedding. There are no religious rules to follow, no color scheme, no decorations, none of it is needed. If you want to get really technical, you don't even need the person to join the couple. The government provided piece of paper that you both sign does that for you.

So if you are an Atheist, you are considering spending the rest of your life with someone, and you'd like to make it official, there are ways of doing so, without compromising your beliefs or throwing away your dream. Never give up the search or the dream.

Hopefully this will give some people that last bit of courage they need to pop the question this February 14th.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Soul Conciousness

A lot of the time, people feel they need to be more than what they are. Surely we must be more than simply the sum of our parts. However, a lot of the time that sum is a lot larger than any of us realize. When living organisms are involved, 1 + 1 rarely ever equals 2. Something always multiplies unexpectedly to cause something new and wonderful. To this end, for the first post of this year, we shall look at the greatest sum nature has created for humans.

"What do Atheists think about the soul?"

To be perfectly honest, a lot of us don't think about it at all. There are some that hold an Atheistic religion who believe in the soul, some who are spiritual without religion who believe in a soul of some kind, but a lot of Atheists don't believe in the soul at all. I think the idea of the soul came about from humans trying to understand consciousness and believing that it couldn't possibly have come about through natural means. This is once again humans believing they are more than the sum of their parts.

But how much truth is in that belief? While the soul cannot be proven nor disproven, the consciousness is a real thing, proven 100%. So what makes our consciousness work? We're still working on that one, but I'll give everything I know about it.

Apparently, our consciousness is possible due to the overabundant amount of memories we can hold. Most animals can't hold many memories for great periods of time. Enough to know people and places, but rarely experiences. You'd have to make a big impression on most animals to get them to remember basic situations. That's why you need to give dogs treats to teach them tricks. Receiving a treat from the one they care about most, their owner, is a big event in a dog's life.

So if our memories allow us to be conscious, would we be able to make other animals as conscious as ourselves by improving their memory? As I said earlier, we don't fully understand this ourselves, but we are still working on it. If consciousness really is just the sum of the parts used, we might be looking at some rather large figures. But maybe it's not so mysterious after all? Maybe we should be looking at the smaller, less important parts? Maybe we are missing the real picture by looking for a bigger one?

If the soul is merely our consciousness, it'll take some time to figure out exactly what that is. If not, then there is no way to figure it out at all without knowing first what we are trying to find.