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The Scientist and Communicator: Reflections on Carl Sagan

by Justin Clark

carl-sagan-20th-anniversaryIt has been twenty years today since we lost Carl Sagan, the beloved astronomer and science communicator at the age of 62. His untimely death still feels prescient, especially in light of our seemingly chaotic and irrational world. However, I know that if he was still alive, Sagan would have found a way to be optimistic, looking ever forward to new horizons of knowledge and exploration.

I Scared The Hell Out of Myself!

 

By Nate Gaunder

 

i-scared-the-hell-out-of-myselfI remember being young, obviously. I remember being told a lot of things, especially in Sunday school. I learned a lot about this guy named God. I was taught that God was the creator of all existence by literally everyone in the church! They would tell me he is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, he was king. I was taught that he is the one who made me, as well as everyone and everything else. Turns out, that God was also my father? This was news to me since I already had a dad, yet everyone knew. A matter of fact, God was everyone’s father. “Who’s your daddy, and what does he do?” My daddy made the universe! I also learned a lot about God’s son Jesus. He was a Jew, something everyone made clear. I was taught that Jesus was the reason why I get to live with him and God forever! Oh, and he too was also my father.

 

[Side note: So God is our father, as well as Jesus’s father? Yet Jesus himself is also our father? But Jesus is not God’s father? Jesus is his son? But they are not related, yet they are the same? Hmm… think of Jesus as God’s adopted son, and we are his less fortunate spoiled kids. Damn, child support must be a bitch! ]

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ALL DRESSED UP

ALL DRESSED UP

By  Nate Gaunder

 

:::This poem is an explanation of Nate’s experience with anxiety while attending church as a teenager:::

all-dressed-up

 

Greeted words. “Wake up… it’s time”.

*Eyes open, Lungs fill*

Hears them calling.

“Get up, its time”.

(Stares at door)

*sigh*

Aron Ra announces run for Texas State Senate

by
Justin Clark

aron_raAron Ra, the charismatic science educator and atheist activist, has announced his intention to run for Texas State Senate in 2018. On a recent episode of Dogma Debate, Aron Ra explained why he felt the time was right to announce his intention to run. Inspired by Bernie Sanders and California State Senate candidate Steve Hill, Ra remarked that “in 2018, when I run for Texas State Senate, I’m going to do an advertising campaign along those lines, and I think people are going to be completely outraged at what they’ve had to put up with for the two years leading up to that point before I do.”

Debate Between a Jew and an Ex-Jew

by
Steve Miller
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Here’s a three hour debate that I had today with an orthodox Jew:
Jew: How can you not believe in God? Do you think that your father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. were all liars?
Me: No. I think that they sincerely believed that Judaism is true but somewhere along the lineage, one of my grandparents were duped, just like cult leaders do to people today.
Jew: What are you talking about? Cults are nothing. They don’t last.
Me: What about Mormonism? It started less than 200 years ago and it grew into a religion of over 14 million followers. Judaism could have started the same way. It could have started 2,000 years ago, with just a few people and then grew bigger over time. After all, it was much easier to deceive people 2,000 years ago, than it is today.
Jew: When do you think that it started? If someone would claim that they have a sacred script that was given to their parents at Mount Sinai, nobody would believe it. Everyone would ask, “why didn’t I hear about this from my parents?” Nobody would accept it.

CW Brown Interviews Justin Clark

by
CW Brown

cw-brown-interviews-justin-clark

I recently got to sit down with Justin Clark and asked him some important questions that viewers will want to know. This includes what led up to the creation of his Podcast and how he came to have a relationship with me at Philosophical Atheism.

CW Brown:Why do you think people become religious?

Justin Clark: I think that people become religious for a myriad of reasons. Many fall into a religion simply through upbringing; their parents are religious and they were born into a religious community, so they just follow suit. Others come to religion due to personal experiences, such as former addicts. Many others are religious because of social expectations. Our culture places religious belief on a pedestal, so some people go through the motions because they think it is expected of them. This is what philosopher Daniel Dennett calls “belief in belief.” People mistakenly think that believing in something, despite a lack of evidence or common sense, is virtuous in its own right. While these explanations are broad, I think they cover the majority of religious believers.

A Dialogue with Pastor Chad Damitz on Slavery

by
Justin Clark
Civil War CDV of Gordon (slave) at the Baton Rouge Union camp during his medical examination, with scourges from whips he received. Photo by Matthew Brady. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

Civil War CDV of Gordon (slave) at the Baton Rouge Union camp during his medical examination, with scourges from whips he received. Photo by Matthew Brady. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

Back in March, I had a very passionate and interesting exchange through social media with Chad Damitz, associate pastor at Bible Baptist Church in Kokomo, Indiana. We have known each other for years and even participated together in a public debate on the origins of morality. (It can be found on YouTube.)

This polite, but heated exchange was spurred by my post of a quote from Alice Walker, celebrated African-American novelist, whose view of Christianity Chad took issue with.

Here’s the quote:

“What a burden to think one is conceived in sin rather than in pleasure; that one is born into evil rather than into
joy. . .

It is chilling to think that the same people who persecuted the wise women and men of Europe, its midwives and healers, then crossed the oceans to Africa and the Americas and tortured and put into slavery, raped, impoverished, and eradicated the peaceful, Christ-like people they found. And that the blueprint from which they worked, and still work, was the Bible.”

Our unabridged dialogue is as follows:

On Colin Kaepernick and Patriotism

by
Justin Clark
“What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?” by Dread Scott. Courtesy of Dread Scott.

“What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?” by Dread Scott. Courtesy of Dread Scott.

In 1989, this installation, created by artist Dread Scott, was displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago. As Scott’s website describes:

The installation is comprised of: a photomontage (the montage consists of pictures of South Korean students burning US flags holding signs saying ‘Yankee go home son of bitch’ and flag draped coffins in a troop transport; text printed on the photomontage reads “What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?”), books (originally with blank pages) on a shelf, ink pens, a 3’x5′ American flag on the ground and an active audience. The audience was encouraged to write responses to the question “What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?” As they did so, they had the opportunity to stand on the flag as they wrote their response. When this work has been displayed, thousands of people filled hundreds of pages with responses. Many, many of those stood on the flag as they added their comments to the work.

5 Ways Atheism is Better than Christianity

by
CW Brown

5-ways-atheism-is-better-than-christianity

Comparing atheism and Christianity is really like comparing apples and oranges. One is a whole dogmatic belief system and the other is a lack of belief in a god or gods. There is a foundation in one of conformity and the other is a foundation of self assembly. The one of many things I have enjoyed about being an atheist for half a decade now is being able to unabashedly assemble my life the way I like without pressure from others or fear of the rejection of an invisible deity to which I claim adherence. I get to live my life, develop my skills, enjoy my friends, and have more enjoyment altogether without fear of this vast amount of disproving eyes of other believers or invisible entities. Getting to be who you want to be and being the best version of that is really what it is all about anyways and nothing should be getting in the way of that capacity. This really provides the best for humanity as well because people that are self satisfied tend to be better to be around because of both proper self understanding and ability to navigate this world in a healthy manner. These kind of people inspire me to be a better person and that extends to people around me for them to be better as well. The reasons why I believe atheism is better than Christianity will now follow below.

The Difference Between Atheism and Agnosticism

by
Justin Clark

A Facebook acquaintance of mine recently posted about his distinction between atheism and agnosticism. His main point was that atheism required faith to agree with the proposition that there is no god. Conversely, he defined agnosticism as being either without knowledge or without the possibility to attain knowledge about the existence of god. His definition of agnosticism is right, but his definition of atheism was completely off the mark. This post will correct this misunderstanding and reassert the traditional distinction between the two concepts. I hope to show that one can be an atheist, an agnostic, or both (like I am).