August 09, 2009

COTG – Godlessness and Mississippi, Mormons, morals and more!

Welcome to the Aug. 9, 2009 Common Era (no AD here!) issue of Carnival of the Godless.

First, a housekeeping note to Brent, and possible future hosts. I tried the “InstaCarnival”; it shows all the HTML coding, for bolding, hyperlinking, paragraph returns, etc, when you copy, paste and upload, so, it needs some tweaks, methinks! It is a nice idea, though.

Second, who am I?

I am one of those rare critters: An atheist with a graduate divinity degree. And, not from a fly-by-night place, either. I can still, more than 15 years later, crack open the Gospel of Mark in the original Greek and do more than just muddle So, I know how to refute theological and philosophical claims of many of the fundamentalists in detail.

That said, right now, I’m also an unemployed newspaper editor. While I don’t feel any psychological pangs myself, for a variety of reasons, I can understand the heightened allure of religious belief – especially organized groups rather than “spiritual but not religious” individuals. Group support, cohesion, etc. are all powerful.
Anyway, with that, let us jump right in!

Billy the Atheist really does exist. And, as he reminds us, so do other atheists, like people involved in this blog carnival. Just because we’re nice, moral, etc., doesn’t mean either we, or our anti-theistic stance (PLEASE, not “belief”) isn’t real. (I was going to say “antimetaphysical stance,” but Buddhist atheists might have an issue with that one. That’s you, Sam Harris.)

Probably, as Cubik’s Rube reminds us, the type of people who believe atheism isn’t “real” find our lack of religious belief disturbing. Reminds me of H.L. Mencken’s comments about Puritanism being disturbed by others’ happiness.

Perhaps part of what is disturbing is that the religious worry about uncertainty in their belief, whereas atheism requires no such certainty, Atheist Revolution tells us. This brief post reminds me of issues such as “hard” vs. “soft” atheism, or other, similar terminology.

Dr. Jim then has another reminder for us – creation museum nuttery isn’t limited to the United States. Even with a real dinosaur museum right down the road!

(Which reminds me: a recent ruling from U.S. District Judge Casey Rogers ordered that nine of 10 properties linked to the Dinosaur Adventure Land launched by Kent Hovind, who also founded Creation Science Evangelism, can be seized. The irony!)

So, does “materialistic atheism” mean we can’t be happy? Gerry Canavan reminds us it’s a step of freedom outside of something we knew wasn’t working for us anymore anyway.

I’ll try to remember that on the job hunt.

Of course, being unemployed means worrying about health insurance. Between that and being/having been a newspaper editor, I’m following the national healthcare battles in detail. So, I note with interest that Mississippi Atheists talks about Christian arguments against universal healthcare. Other than this allegedly undermining the Protestant work ethic (though Ted Rall’s most recent column reminds us that the French have higher per-person job productivity than the U.S.), I guess “the poor you will always have with you” trumps “love your neighbor as yourself,” eh?

Dr. Jim blogs again, keeping us in Mississippi, a good Southern ground zero for abstinence-only sex education. Why do we need Christian-based abstinence-only sex ed? “Keeping Satan out of our underpants!”

Joshua Williams at 13.7 blogs about one of my favorites – that evolution is “only a theory.” My personal answer to that, Joshua, is, “So is gravity. And, if you want to ‘test’ that, there’s a skyscraper right over there, Mr. Fundie. Let me know more about your research later.”

Next, we get a little “history of atheism,” as Scholar at Large takes a close reading of Diderot and his snarky, Twitter-length comment, metaphorically for safety, of course, about Mary’s Annunciation, especially Catholic iconography.

Going beyond Diderot, Learn-Gasm has 25 great thinkers for every college student to know. How many are on your list? What different ones would you have?

Broadsnark says atheists need to make sure they don’t explicitly frame their atheism in terms of anti-Christian reactions, speaking from his own Jewish background. A good reminder to be broad-minded.

Along the lines of Broadsnark’s reminder that atheism can and should be more than anti-Christianism, Prior Adams gives us a snarky morality tale swatting down one of New Agers’ most cherished ideas – that nothing is coincidence.

Meanwhile, A Nadder brings his own Jewish background to looking at the biblical book of Job at warp speed. He’s dead-on; a pissed-off Job, not knowing he’s a pawn in a cosmic craps game, and no concept of “heaven,” wants some answers!

Next, Living with Mormons tells us what we’re missing at First Sunday testimonial at the ward. Sounds like Southern Baptists, with the addition of the “underpants” they ripped off from the Masons. More seriously, having grown up in the Four Corners area of the U.S., this is all quite familiar, along with men just past teenage years with white shirts, black pants, and black ties. No wonder the Eff-Bee-Eye recruits them so heavily!

Meanwhile, I earlier mentioned the Twitter-length Diderot. Well, in case you have religious hankerings, or a desire for a laugh, in what appears to be an attempt at “infiltration,” Online Christian Colleges gives us 100 “uplifting” Twitter feeds.

The Chaplain then gives us his personal response to people so troubled by our unbelief that they want to know what will cause us to believe. “I ask for clarity, simplicity and inclusiveness. Is that too much to ask of a supreme being?” No, it’s not.

Greta Christina, reminding us that Satan is NOT in our underpants, takes on Christian fundamentalists’ top bogeyman – human sexuality. She has some stimulating thoughts on sexuality and transcendence from a materialist point of view.

Finally, Procrustes gives us his hugely tongue-in-cheek thoughts about one particular alleged nexus of religion and politics, namely, the Artistic Expression Protection Act. You never know …

And, that’s it for this edition of Carnival of the Godless. If you want to host, hit the BlogCarnival link for more information.

Meanwhile, if you have a minute or two, stroll around. Vote in one of my polls on the right hand rail. If you want more in-depth philosophical thought, or comments on arts and literature, or poetry, visit my Philosophy of the Socratic Gadfly blog. Or, if you're a nature lover, visit my online photo albums. If you need something to read, I've got plenty of Amazon reviews.

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