We are atheists. We are moral. We are reasonable. We are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, happy, fulfilled and well-informed.
And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.” —
Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist, “Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?”
Brian Switek, “Evolution is Wonderful”
• You tell people you’re an atheist
• You deny that atheism leads to immorality
• You compare theism to belief in astrology, psychics, or bigfoot
• You object to religious privilege & Christian privilege
• You don’t “go along to get along”
• You reject faith as a means for acquiring knowledge
• You argue that religion is a source of political & social problems
• You encourage atheists to organize, work together
Well, yes × 8!
Intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed people can be wrong. They can be profoundly wrong. They can be stubbornly wrong. They can be deeply attached to wrong ideas, with contorted and absurd rationalizations for their wrongness. They can be wrong about big, important things. In fact, I would argue that this is universally true: every intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person is bone-headedly wrong about something. Being an intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person doesn’t mean every opinion or idea or belief you have is intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed. You can be an intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person, and still have dumb, unreasonable, ill-informed ideas.
And yes, I think Christianity is one of these. I think all religion is one of these.” —
Greta Christina, “From the Mailbag: ‘Reasonable, intelligent, and well-informed’”
Sean Carroll, “Time, Born Again”
A. C. Grayling, “Dogma will always lead to murder. In the end, scepticism is the only answer”, The Independent, Friday 24 May 2013
Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
To the query, “Do most astronomers believe in God, based on the available evidence?” the astronomer Dave Rothstein replies that, in his opinion, “modern science leaves plenty of room for the existence of God … places where people who do believe in God can fit their beliefs in the scientific framework without creating any contradictions.” [ … ]
How much less velveteen is the response to the reader asking whether astronomers believe in astrology. “No, astronomers do not believe in astrology,” snarls Dave Kornreich. “It is considered to be a ludicrous scam. There is no evidence that it works, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.”” —
Natalie Angier, “My God Problem”
Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads To Freedom (1918)
PZ Myers, “Schrödinger’s Theist”
Sir Ken Robinson in TED talk How to Escape Education’s Death Valley. Watch the entire talk here.
The kinds of questions I think about — origin of the universe, fundamental laws of physics, that kind of thing — for the most part have no direct impact on how ordinary people live their lives. No jet packs are forthcoming, as the saying goes. But there is one exception to this, so obvious that it goes unnoticed: belief in God. Due to the efforts of many smart people over the course of many years, scholars who are experts in the fundamental nature of reality have by a wide majority concluded that God does not exist. We have better explanations for how things work. The shift in perspective from theism to atheism is arguably the single most important bit of progress in fundamental ontology over the last five hundred years. And it matters to people … a lot.
Or at least, it would matter, if we made it more widely known. It’s the one piece of scientific/philosophical knowledge that could really change people’s lives. So in my view, we have a responsibility to get the word out — to not be wishy-washy on the question of religion as a way of knowing, but to be clear and direct and loud about how reality really works. And when we blur the lines between science and religion, or seem to contribute to their blurring or even just not minding very much when other people blur them, we do the world a grave disservice. Religious belief exerts a significant influence over how the world is currently run — not just through extremists, but through the well-meaning liberal believers who very naturally think of religion as a source of wisdom and moral guidance, and who define the middle ground for sociopolitical discourse in our society. Understanding the fundamental nature of reality is a necessary starting point for productive conversations about morality, justice, and meaning. If we think we know something about that fundamental nature — something that disagrees profoundly with the conventional wisdom — we need to share it as widely and unambiguously as possible.” —
Sean Carroll, “On Templeton”
Bertrand Russell, “Is There a God?” (1952)
Bertrand Russell, “Is There a God?” (1952)
- Q: Why are you not a Christian?
- Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever for any of the Christian dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments in favour of the existence of God, and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.
- Q: Do you think there’s a practical reason for having a religious belief, for many people?
- Russell: Well, there can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. That’s quite... at least, I rule it out as impossible. Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. But you can’t... it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true.
- Q: I was thinking of those people who find that some kind of religious code helps them to live their lives. It gives them a very strict set of rules, the rights and the wrongs.
- Russell: Yes, but those rules are generally quite mistaken. A great many of them do more harm than good. And they would probably be able to find a rational morality that they could live by if they dropped this irrational traditional taboo morality that comes down from savage ages.
- Q: But are we, perhaps the ordinary person perhaps isn’t strong enough to find this own personal ethic. They have to have something imposed upon them from outside.
- Russell: Oh, I don’t think that’s true, and what is imposed on you from outside is of no value whatever. It doesn’t count.
- Q: Well, you were brought up, of course, as a Christian. When did you first decide that you did not want to remain a believer in the Christian ethic?
- Russell: I never decided that I didn’t want to remain a believer. I decided... between the ages of 15 and 18, I spent almost all my spare time thinking about Christian dogmas, and trying to find out whether there was any reason to believe them. And by the time I was 18, I’d discarded the last of them.
- Q: Do you think that that gave you an extra strength in your life?
- Russell: Oh, I don’t... no, I should’t have said so, neither extra strength nor the opposite. I mean, I was just engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.
- Q: As you approach the end of life, do you have any fear of some kind of afterlife, or do you feel that that is just...
- Russell: Oh, no, I think that’s nonsense.
- Q: There is no afterlife?
- Russell: None whatever.
- Q: Do you have any fear of something that is common amongst atheists and agnostics, who have been atheists or agnostics all their lives, who are converted just before they die, to a form of religion?
- Russell: Well, you know, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as religious people think it does. Because religious people, most of them, think that it’s a virtuous act to tell lies about the death beds of agnostics and such. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t happen very often.
John D. Barrow, 1994
Has anyone else come to the conclusion that this is an atheist movie?