As all atheists know, there are a lot of preconceived notions what atheism is and what atheism isn’t, what it means, what it doesn’t mean. There are jokes and stories about how theists (religious people) think that atheists eat babies, worship Satan or something similarly absurd. In reality, these stories are shown only to be a slight exaggeration.
Sometimes it’s almost impossible to believe the comments you can read under atheist posts, how much misunderstanding is there. So, we created a few memes to try to convey as much information as possible in a compact form. The intention of these memes s to show that atheism is not “a monster” like some comments on Entangled Life’s Facebook page say.
First up: What atheism is and what it isn’t.
Atheism is lack of belief in gods
It is NOT:
To be fair, some atheists do have a problem with a definition “lack of belief” and this can be understood because it seems to imply that if we had the capacity or willingness to believe, we would be as smart or whatever as religious people. However, in the interests of brevity, this definition will suffice for now.
Next meme tries, to sum up, what desires we have. Obviously, from the definition that atheism is a non-belief in gods it follows that we cannot be satisfied with the tales about the world. So, we use reason, logic, evidence and we think for ourselves.
Atheism: The desire to know the Real World.
From this lack of belief also follows that we have the notion that anyone who doesn’t solve his or her own problems, but instead prays for a solution is not really taking control of their life. But this is not what the next meme is all about. Being an atheist means acknowledging responsibility for your own life.
In short, being an atheist means to stop hoping for a rescue or punishment from heaven and start taking responsibility.
Atheism: Being responsible for your own life
You might have heard this clever wordplay about how the fact that there is no evidence for something does not mean that this does not exist. People proclaiming “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” want to say that just because humans have not found evidence for something, it is not excluded that this does not exist.
Well, yes, it is not excluded, but evidence can be used to infer the presence or not presence of something. “For instance, if a doctor does not find any malignant cells in a patient, finding nothing is evidence of absence of cancer, even though the doctor has not actually detected anything per se.” – Wikipedia
As this shows us, the evidence is one thing and PROOF is another thing. We are not talking about proof here. Do NOT confuse evidence and proof. The proof is a difficult thing and it’s almost always close to impossible. Proof only really exists in mathematics. Evidence, however, does give reason to SUSPECT absence, to consider absence very, very, very likely. So, what’s all this with evidence of absence?
There is always a small, minuscule possibility that the evidence has not been observed yet, but this doesn’t mean that this possibility can and should be used to hang on to outrageously unlikely beliefs. Just the opposite.
Image by stevepb / Pixabay. Public Domain.
When analysing an idea to decide what evidence is necessary to support it, we should always take into account what evidence should be there and how much of it should be there. If there should be a LOT of evidence for something and we know exactly what the evidence should be, then a lack of this evidence does indeed allow us to dismiss this idea.
Even if the London attacker turns out not to be Muslim or Islam-motivated, this latest attack has again spawned various debates and opinions on Islam & Terrorism, so let's write something about this.
Nobody is condemning all Muslims. This is just a given.
But to ignore the facts and to say that this has nothing to do with religion is plain wrong. From what I was able to follow, most of the terrorists were religious (right-wing fanatics in the US who did similar things were al...so), so it's impossible to put religion on one side, in the jar, separated from everything else and completely ignore it when analysing why are these things happening.
If religion can make an impact about what people wear, what people buy, and let's face it, these are trivial things in life, it's simply stupid to pretend it cannot have any impact at all on whether someone might find an eternal life and imagined gratitude from their God a good reason to kill others and possibly themselves.
For proof of this Islam can be ignored altogether. Just take a look at all the witch burnings, crusades and killings other religions are responsible for. Simple logic tells us that Islam and Muslims alone cannot be immune to these effects of religion.
With that said, IMO the best way for Muslims and non-Muslims alike is to take a look at Islam and see which teachings can possibly be equivalent to the "you shall not allow a sorceress to live" of Christianity which is responsible for so much evil through the history. When these things are identified, they should be ignored or interpreted differently by scholars in order to discourage anyone from using them as an excuse for war.
Denying any connection whatsoever is simply not a smart thing to do, especially for Muslims, who will feel even worse and worse if these things continue. And they will continue until factors that might possibly contribute to this are changed or eliminated.
To simply ignore religion when determining what these factors are is wrong, is all that's being said.
Hijab shouldn't be just treated as a part of the culture without thinking and we should not automatically glorify it as diversity. The very fact that it is forced in Iran, for example, tells us that it's not simply a matter of choice and culture.
Forbidding things or telling people what to wear is not the solution and it's not what progressives do. And IMO, EU court ruling allowing bans on all religious symbols didn't do that.
This ban is in a way also a protection, either all religious symbols are banned or none, so hijab cannot be singled-out. In a way, it’s also all-or nothing ban. Either you ban all religious symbols or none.
I digress. The point is that in fact, turning a blind eye on suffering and comforting yourself that it's simply a cultural thing is also not what progressives should do.
Let this be a lesson to you: always try to save anything important. Especially if it’s in writing, you never know when you might need it and what you might lose by not saving it.
Such was the case with this entertaining discussion on Instagram. Discussion was about whether consent to sex is a consent to pregnancy. Long story short, I posted this image on Instagram:
During this discussion this person blocked my account, so this means I cannot see her account anymore and cannot reply to her. The only way to continue discussion would be for me to use a secondary account. And that is beyond pathetic, so I will not do that.
So, in case I’m not making myself clear: account is not deleted, it’s still there, it’s that entangledlife account is blocked from seeing her posts anymore. The original post is still there in case anyone’s interested.
I decided just to copy the points that I made there in effort to both preserve the arguments I had at the time and to potentially help Pro Choice visitors of this site with any such discussions they might have.
So, it started with this woman trying to refute what was written on the image, with something like “if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex.”, to which I replied:
People have the right to non procreative sex.
To which she replied basically that the only use of sex is procreation.
A lot of people really are acting like they can read minds, like they know absolutely everything about everybody. One of the ways these people are revealed is when they come across a nude or half nude or … almost any photo where a woman’s skin is showing. It can almost be guaranteed that someone (a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter – although it’s usually men) will comment something like:
Well, of course she’s naked. That’s how you earn money if you don’t have any other talents.
… or something similar … you can almost hear them, can’t you? Or hear yourself, if you’re one of these people that likes to make snap judgements of people they don’t know and don’t even care to know.
Image by JerzyGorecki / Pixabay – Public Domain
Well, as it turns out, women are people too (difficult to accept for some, I would imagine). And people are complicated. People do things for a variety of reasons.
One thing that has a big tendency to both annoy and to actually damage the World is the “It’s their culture” proclamation. There are real problems with it. Basically, this proclamation is often heard when trying to defend bigoted, racist, sexist or misogynist behaviour. Effectively we’re saying that people are entitled to their own culture, and the often horrific behaviour is simply the part of the culture, so we should all simply live with it.
By Nitin Madhav (USAID), exact source, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Most often it is used when somebody tries to criticise actions of Islam extremists and/or treatment of women in Islam, but it’s not limited to this use. It’s also used to justify circumcision, or teaching that God created the Earth is six days in schools. However, it’s lately mostly used about Islam, so this post will continue in this tone.
First of all, when you use this argument, you’re applying the different standard to the people you’re saying this about. A standard which is less strict about women’s rights, for example, than we in the West are accustomed to. This in of itself is bad, as basically people who say things like “this is normal in their culture” are guilty of racism of low expectations. It comes down to “these brown people, we just expect this from them, we cannot hold them to the same standard as us”. Well, isn’t this a repulsive thing to think and say?