Skip to main content

What’s the Big Deal?

By Carl S ~

The church militant' (William Markham), by Jam...
The church militant' (William Markham), by James Gillray (died 1815), published 1779. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One phrase I used to hear frequently seems to have disappeared: "God is in control." A great many believers are taking the attitude: Screw that. I'm not waiting for God. Christian militancy is out to take even more control than it already has. It's really pissed off. This year, millions, if not billions, of American dollars will be spent, not to help the neediest among us, not to raise the minimum wage, not to aid the millions of refugees fleeing death and destitution, etc. No, those dollars are going to elect a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices to rescind Roe vs. Wade, deny civil rights to gays, deny entrance to Moslems, allow Christians to legally discriminate, their churches and schools to receive tax dollars from public funds, and continue the expansion of Christian exceptions to the laws the rest of the population must honor. It's driven by prejudice and moral righteousness, by indignation over LGBT rights, etc; in other words, Power. Read the Christian PAC's words yourself. Go out and vote against the Church Militant and for our civil rights.

"Know thyself" is an ancient recommendation. Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am." Funny thing is, I don't think it's possible to really know oneself. (Sometimes I look at my wife of 21 years and ask myself, "Do I really know this person?") What we think we know about ourselves, on examination, may make us wonder: should we cry or laugh? Take for example, the minds of true believers. Personal experiences with believers are always revealing. They will talk intelligently and logically about serious matters, but when it comes to answering questions about their firm, all-important beliefs, they're not listening to their answers. (As Thomas Jefferson noted, men who are "otherwise sane" believe crazy things.).

Maybe I am not the master of my mind, but the servant of my brain? Maybe I'm not dealing with mind over matter, but with matter over mind. Since the brain is wired for imagining solutions for reality problems, it also creates unreality and possibility, via imagination. "Reality" is both objective and subjective to each individual. And it can be tampered with and altered by others. Jesus, God, gods, Allah, Vishnu, et al, may be just as "real" as you are, to those who only believe in them. (All those spiritual beings playing hide-and-seek in the gardens of the brain cells!)And, just as others interpret your personhood in their minds, so do they interpret the personalities of their imaginary spirits. That's how brains are wired.

You may be surprised by what you have accomplished. You wouldn't be if you knew yourself. People goad you on, telling you that you don't know your own strengths; but they're gambling. Friends, lovers, and family don't know enough about us as they're certain they do. Some will tell you outright, "I know you better than you know yourself," but they don't even know what you think about that statement. And their judgement is just as prejudiced as yours.

How do I know me? Let me count the ways. No - this is impossible. How do I know my mind while not knowing my brain? Every one of us has about 100 billion neurons in our brains, separated by gaps called synapses. I don't have anything to say on how they interact, yet they are "me." If we know anything about organisms, including our brains, they are in the business of surviving, defending, and healing themselves. That's evolutionary biology working. My brain is "me," but I don't understand its activity as me. I conjecture my brain is an organism which analyzes input and re-creates the world as it sees it; its "understanding" of reality. If something is out of kilter or missing in those billions of neurons/connections, my brain's understanding of reality is also. Discrepancies in the circuitry create inaccurate interpretations of the world. I have no choice about its miswiring or misfiring.

Brain “understanding" can be altered by drugs, electric shocks, seizures, accidents, etc. Brain “understanding" can be altered by drugs, electric shocks, seizures, accidents, etc. All these happen without the permission of those affected, The brain, the "me," is delicate as well as mortal. What believers call "a soul" is brain activity without an active brain. But a sufficiently strong blow to your prefrontal cortex can change your personality from a loving to an indifferent or cold one. If you become brain-dead, you will have no emotions. (But if you died, you would be looking down from heaven and smiling on your loved ones!) The "he/she" everybody "knows" becomes "was." If this happened to you, could you wonder: did I ever care?

What if there is a built-in survival mechanism for the brain necessitating lying to itself? After all, what we call "faith" may be no more than experienced feelings interacting with brain activity, interpreted to be "reality." Some brains might have organically evolved to have "tweaks" for lying to themselves, for justifying irresponsibility. This possibility could explain why so many of us are inclined to automatically lie and evade responsibility, in varying degrees. And, evolutionarily speaking, maybe some brains are ill-equipped to adapt to social changes.

We are a powerful mix of brains led by emotions. We speak of humans who are "well-balanced" with their emotions and brains as "sane." Passions and feelings drive us, often so strongly that men like Sts. Paul and Augustine taught passions are at war with our minds, and thus we are continually prone to choose evil over virtue. Those idiots had zilch understanding of how the mind-body functions. Emotions and thoughts are not "sinful" or "virtuous," but natural to our organisms. "We" are not at war with them, because "they" too are "us." And maybe we would be more humane if we were aware of ourselves as passionate, self-contradicting, not as reasonable as we think we are humans and see others that way, and ease up on everyone else.

I can say, "I think, therefore I am," and that requires consciousness. But what about when I'm not conscious? Ergo, I am not? What of humans who, as a result of accidents, lie in comas for weeks, months, years, and come out of them? Were they thinking, since they can't recall anything after their accident? Without awareness, what can "Me" mean to me? Reality is subjective; we experience it through our brains. When the brain no longer functions, everything ceases to exist. "We" are not present to experience. Even if there existed a heaven or hell. It's no big deal.


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not

On Living Virtuously

By Webmdave ~  A s a Christian, living virtuously meant living in a manner that pleased God. Pleasing god (or living virtuously) was explained as: Praying for forgiveness for sins  Accepting Christ as Savior  Frequently reading the Bible  Memorizing Bible verses Being baptized (subject to church rules)  Attending church services  Partaking of the Lord’s Supper  Tithing  Resisting temptations to lie, steal, smoke, drink, party, have lustful thoughts, have sex (outside of marriage) masturbate, etc.  Boldly sharing the Gospel of Salvation with unbelievers The list of virtuous values and expectations grew over time. Once the initial foundational values were safely under the belt, “more virtues'' were introduced. Newer introductions included (among others) harsh condemnation of “worldly” music, homosexuality and abortion Eventually the list of values grew ponderous, and these ideals were not just personal for us Christians. These virtues were used to condemn and disrespect fro