Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Introductory Post

This is the first post of a blog I hope will grow into a forum for discussion that others will participate in on a regular basis on the topics of reasoned responses to superstitions and irrational beliefs, with particular regard for religious superstitions and beliefs, which affect society.

I’ve been involved in the blogosphere now for a couple of years and I’ve chose to publish this blog under a pseudonym for a variety of reasons. One of them is that I want the freedom to speak openly and directly regarding subjects that might seem out-of-character for those that know me in real life. I also want to eliminate potential bias or prejudice as I pursue and academic and professional career, since it is becoming more and more a common practice to google applicants, even if this is done unofficially. And, as recent polls have revealed, most Americans have a unreasoned distrust for atheists as a matter of personal policy.

Which brings me to the topic of atheism: I’m an atheist. Specifically, I’m an agnostic-atheist, an identification which may be oxymoronic to many who consider themselves to be either theist or atheist but also among those that simply consider themselves agnostic. So let me offer a brief explanation.

As an atheist, I don’t believe that there is a god that created the Earth or even the universe that contains it. Nor do I think that one is necessary for the universe to exist. Moreover, I don’t find compelling the claims that religious texts of man are of divine origin. Indeed, I find these claims to be completely without merit and no evidence has ever been demonstrated that the Bible, Koran, or Holy Vedas are anything more than the literature of humanity. In some cases, this literature is very beautiful and revealing of the societies they originate from, but they are literature nonetheless. There is significant evidence to support the literature hypothesis and not a single shred that any of them is of divine origin or influence.

But I’m also agnostic in the sense that, while I believe the things in the above paragraph, I also admit that I cannot know for sure that my beliefs are 100% true. I cannot examine every square kilometer of the universe, testing it for the presence of a god. I cannot return to the moment the Bronze Age author of a Biblical passage authored his account to observe his inspiration. And I admit that the god hypothesis is a possibility –I just don’t think it to be a very likely one. In fact, I think it to be so unlikely as to believe otherwise and therefore I’m an agnostic-atheist. I see no good reason to accept that any of the gods of humanity are factual, but I concede that, not knowing everything about the universe, a god may be out there. Somewhere.
In general, I don’t fault others for what they believe. That is to say, as long as they don’t try to codify their beliefs as policy for the rest of society or even try to convince me that their beliefs are right. I don’t criticize those that I work with or come in contact with each day for their beliefs, pointing out that they’re wasting their time when I notice they have a bible on their desks, a crucifix around their necks, or offer “have a blessed day” when I complete a telephone call.

But the moment someone says their beliefs should be taught as fact in public schools when there is no supporting evidence; the moment their beliefs include public claims of the outrageous or the absurd; the moment their beliefs are used to obtain money, including public funds… I feel it is my right and duty to speak out. If the superstitious want to publically share their superstitions and call them real, they deserve criticism and even ridicule in the form of parody and satire just as any political or economic assertions receive. Religion should not get a free pass when it comes to critique, inquiry, or ridicule.

No comments: