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Yes, my atheist life is this boring. August 9, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues, rants.
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Excuses on why I haven’t posted in about a month now:

  1. Religion is no longer something I want to discuss with my parents. (However, I get more and more resentful that I have to sit and wait while they pray before dinner. At least I have breakfast and lunch elsewhere, and with co-workers who, while religious, don’t shove their beliefs in my face.)
  2. Workplace drama isn’t all that interesting. It’s mostly bitchy co-workers making rumors about me, like I’m fucking my married boss, et cetera. Tedious.
  3. I don’t have much time to go online, and when I do I’m usually feeding my crush on Steven Weber and Casey from Make Me a Supermodel. (He’s a Buddhist! He thinks that “the whole peace and love thing is, like…awesome”! Is it weird that I find that totally sexy?)

Now, I did mention that workplace drama isn’t all that blog-worthy, but I’ve experienced some new, weird reactions to my admitting my atheism.

Once, I was talking about a dire-but-funny situation with Gary, 36, and for some reason he asks…

Gary: “So, are you a Catholic or a Born Again Christian?”

TA: “Atheist, why?”

Gary: “Oh, never mind.”

TA: “No, really, why were you asking?”

Gary: “It’s nothing.”

Then just yesterday, I was walking home with Marc, 28, and we were talking about his close encounter with a different married boss whom he’s crushing on big-time.

Marc: “Are you a Catholic, or…?”

TA: “Atheist.”

Marc: “Oh okay, nevermind.”

TA: “Why?”

Marc: “No, I was just asking.”

It’s weird how they get eerily quiet about it, like there was a joke they wanted to tell you but they refrained from it because people of your “kind” probably wouldn’t get it. What does this reaction even mean? It’s good that they’re not going into some idiotic argument about how I should see the light or whatever, but are they scared to offend me now? I like offensive jokes as much as the next guy. Take this hilarious skit from Judd Apatow and friends.

…Man, I love me some Jews. (And Justin Long! Woohoo!)

On the tangent of interesting things I found on the Intarwebz, I’d been Googling Christian Bale since watching him in The Dark Knight (unpopular opinion: I liked Heath Ledger’s Joker, but my favorite performance in that movie was Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face). Much digging led to my discovery of a full recording of the less successful of Todd Haynes’ two rock-star-inspired films,Velvet Goldmine.

Now, the movie itself wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but it was definitely interesting, and worth watching just for Ewan McGregor’s brilliant turn as the Iggy Pop avatar Curt Wild. He was a revelation! I’d been “eh” about him before, but after seeing the awesomeness that is Curt Wild, I am all over this boy. Plus, he’s one of the very few men who look hot in platinum blond hair and guyliner. Is anyone else as psyched to see I Love You Phillip Morris as I am?

Check out his rocktastic take on “TV Eye” (warning: NSFW!):

Velvet Goldmine had me as wistful as Christian Bale’s character in the movie, even though I wasn’t even alive in the 70’s. It was more centered around the sexual freedom of the era, which made me sad in realizing the truth: that we’d experienced a regression since then. Whatever happened to the days when being gay or bisexual was cool?

And then I get to thinking, was it easier to be an atheist back then, as well?

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Comments»

1. Hugo - August 10, 2008

You gotta find out what they wanted to say, that is so weird.

2. Agersomnia - August 11, 2008

Definitely odd comments.

I have met ugly faces, but people don’t usually do stuff like that when they find I’m not religious.

3. Holy Prepuce - August 12, 2008

Maybe Marc enjoys contemplating adultery with the boss only because it is forbidden, and assumes that as an atheist you are amoral and hence can’t share in his guilty delight?

4. a different teen atheist. - August 12, 2008

Peace and Love is most definitely sexy.

It is funny that there were periods of time in history that being an atheist was cool and easy, that people with brilliant minds were atheists and celebrated for it, and yet now it is like an abomination. What happened?

5. Teen Atheist - August 12, 2008

Holy Prepuce: Possibly. I’ll never know now, though, because no amount of prodding will get me a straight answer from either of them.

6. Teen Atheist - August 12, 2008

Teen Atheist II: I suppose religious fanaticism and fundamentalism became their form of rebellion against the sexually liberated (read: “amoral” ) generation. The same way that the glittery 70’s itself, according to Todd Haynes, was a rebellion against the flowers-and-folk-music, artificially “genuine” 60’s era.

I wonder if the increasingly popular emo genre will help or hurt our cause. On one hand, they’re very tolerant of (in fact, I might even say glamorize) the LGBT community, and I think atheists, too. On the other hand, they’re reviled by both the conservatives, for being amoral, and by people with good taste in music. Hee.

7. Agersomnia - August 12, 2008

@ a different teen:

Just remember the amount of atheist and agnostic heroes we have now on TV, like Dr. House! We’re by far not as bad as other media on the TV, like news shows say.

@ TA:

The hell with them. Just to have fun say you are wondering about converting to Buddhism – it’s possible to be one and still be an atheist, after all – just to have a good look at their puzzled faces.

I recently told my girlfriend (relaxed Catholic) in a serious voice that wanted a Buddhist monk at the wedding. She said “No way!” faster than lightining. And then explained: “I know you very well. If you were serious, I’d have no problem… but you’re just teasing me!.”

So well… she caught me, but I did learn about how open are her spiritual world-views, and I’m happy she said that. =P

8. debese - August 16, 2008

Here are a couple of thought provoking questions to help you in your quest to become a more consistent athiest.

“which made me sad in realizing the truth:”

You use the word “truth” which is a tricky word since truth implies being correct and true. It implies something being right and carries with it some moral under…and overtones. The question that must be answered…and then used consistently is: who determines what is true? or truth?

“that we’d experienced a regression since then. Whatever happened to the days when being gay or bisexual was cool?”

If I’m correct in assuming that the “truth” is that being “gay or bisexual [is] cool”, then what or who decided this truth? Plus, if evolutionary theory is correct perhaps the “regression” of the gay / bisexual coolness movement is just another step in our evolving to higher beings and should therefore be embraced.

But maybe it’d be more challenging to apply the “truth” test to a more “socially accepted” idea that you mention.

Most of society would agree that “love and peace” are good (or “sexy”). Why? What if someone defines love different than you or me? Is there an absolute definition of love and/or peace?

9. a different teen atheist. - August 16, 2008

@ Teen Atheist- It is interesting, the idea of a “backlash” from the 60’s and possibly the 70’s. I don’t know much about it, but it is an interesting theory.

@ Agersomnia- First of all, I ADORE Dr. House/Hugh Laurie. I agree that we are pretty well represented on TV, especially in comparison with the way a lot of people think about us! I think it is because atheists are often interesting characters, simply because atheism implies that there is some sort of critical thinking about something very personal to a lot of people, which involves some interesting personality traits. I mean, we are not all Dr. House or anything, but I think that may be a reason for a lot of interesting TV atheists.

@ debese- I think that you are on shaky ground when you say something like, “Who decided truth?” because nobody DECIDES truth. Truth just is. It is like science, which is essentially a quest to understand the truth of our circumstances. You look at the facts and draw conclusions from them. A lot of creationists don’t understand this, because religion is more about having a conclusion and finding the facts to fit the conclusion. But truth is just what is, no matter what you believe.

That wasn’t a very well-phrased rant, but I hope you understand where I am coming from here. Especially when you are talking about what is “cool,” you have to determine a way to define that. If by cool we mean widely accepted and even celebrated, it isn’t merely that someone decided that it was true, it means that in the time period we are talking about, being gay or bisexual was widely accepted and even celebrated. It just was.

Then, you go on to say:

“if evolutionary theory is correct perhaps the “regression” of the gay / bisexual coolness movement is just another step in our evolving to higher beings and should therefore be embraced.”

I think this is misconstruing what the theory of evolution actually states. Your use is more like “Social Darwinism” which is really a bogus term that has very little to do with evolution at all. It has a very negative connotation, because that was Hitler’s big theory in “purifying the race” and all that other bigoted bullshit. I am almost positive that this is not what you meant, but there are a few disturbing things in the sentiment that I quoted from your post that I’d like to point out.

First, “if evolutionary theory is correct…” makes me a little nervous, because evolutionary theory is essentially a fact, for all intents and purposes. There is overwhelming evidence for it and we uncover more all the time. I realize that you probably meant that we should assume it is correct for the point you are about to make, just to frame the statement, but unfortunately there are far too many people who think that they can therefore say, “See! It is a theory! You don’t actually know any of this!” and so I like to clarify.

Second, the idea that the “‘regression’ of the gay/bisexual coolness movement is just another step in our evolving to higher beings” implies that being gay or bisexual is a negative thing and therefore will be eventually weeded out, which I find very offensive and also quite silly. I think it is silly because it is akin to saying, “Well, black people were quite unpopular among the majority at one time, so maybe that was just people evolving into higher beings! It should have just been embraced!” That was kind of a low jab, I admit, but I think that it is very silly to say that evolution is affected by what is considered socially acceptable. I mean, there are gay animals and gay people, and therefore it must have been beneficial at one time and probably still is, seeing as it is still around and a relatively pervasive trait throughout the population. I think that a bunch of fundies telling everyone to believe with all their might that being gay is a sin is not going to pressure evolution in any way.

Sorry if that seemed a little hot headed or overly long, I just thought it was an interesting comment that deserved a response. I just happened to disagree with a lot of your points, lol.

Keep going Teen Atheist! I am enjoying your blog very much 🙂

10. debese - August 16, 2008

“Truth just is”

I agree. Based on that statement would it be fair to say that truth is absolute and eternal?

“Your use is more like “Social Darwinism” which is really a bogus term that has very little to do with evolution at all.”

I can agree that evolution does not intend to go down the dangerous road of “social darwinism.” But what Hitler and others have done is to take an idea to its extreme logical conclusion. Evolution as an inanimate philosophy isn’t racist, but if you don’t add some sort of non-scientific moral code into your worldview it’s very easy to use evolution to promote racism. But that’s a different topic separate from this post.

“evolutionary theory is essentially a fact”

Just like creationism, evolution is based on presuppositions.

“I mean, there are gay animals”

I chuckle at this argument because #1. It implies there’s no difference between animals and humans (so why don’t we do everything else animals do…like eat our young etc.) and #2. It’s the exception rather than the rule.

I’m also not a big fan of putting lifestyles into the same group as ethnicities. (nor am I a big fan of the term “races” since there is only one human race)

“I think that a bunch of fundies telling everyone to believe with all their might that being gay is a sin is not going to pressure evolution in any way.”

Of course not. But let me spring back to the original question of truth. If truth just “is” then it seems logical to assume that there is a right (true) or wrong (false) way to approach the whole gay issue…and the simple question is…what is it? Or how do we find this truth?

And also thank you TA for the opportunity to think through some important questions.

11. a different teen atheist. - August 16, 2008

“Evolution as an inanimate philosophy isn’t racist, but if you don’t add some sort of non-scientific moral code into your worldview it’s very easy to use evolution to promote racism.”

“I can agree that evolution does not intend to go down the dangerous road of ‘social darwinism.'”

Evolution is not a philosophy at all. Evolution does not intend to go anywhere. Evolution is a scientific theory that has the best explanation of how life reached its current state. It is what we accept as true because all of the evidence points to this, and so far there has not been any legitimate opposition. None. Zero.

“Just like creationism, evolution is based on presuppositions.”

No. Creationism takes the bible, and believes, with no evidence whatsoever, that it is true. Then, they attempt to nitpick facts and evidence to support their presupposition. And, might I add, they do a miserable job of it. What winds up happening is Creationists taking evidence that supports evolution and attempting to explain them away. “Fossils are there because Satan went back in time and put them there to trick us!” It gets rather old, with excuse after excuse.

Creationists have a loyalty to their conclusion, while scientists have no such “loyalty” to evolution. If real evidence came tomorrow that discredited the theory of evolution, scientists wouldn’t cling to their theory and explain away this evidence. They would throw out their old viewpoint or update it. But no such evidence has ever come. In fact, the more evidence about the history of life on this planet we discover, the stronger the case for evolution gets. When Charles Darwin first proposed evolution, he had no idea about DNA. At the time, it was one of the major objections. How could the variations he described occur? It was only later that we discovered genes and DNA, and realized that this was the explanation for the variation Darwin observed but could not explain. The more things we discover, the more the theory of evolution makes sense.

“‘I mean, there are gay animals’

I chuckle at this argument because #1. It implies there’s no difference between animals and humans (so why don’t we do everything else animals do…like eat our young etc.) and #2. It’s the exception rather than the rule.”

The reason that I brought up the fact that there are gay animals is because it demonstrates that there is most likely an evolutionary reason for homosexuality. It simply wouldn’t exist if it didn’t benefit the species in some way.

There is no implication here that “there is no difference between animals and humans” although now I can point out the humans are indeed animals. This does not mean that we should eat our own young. I don’t know exactly how you drew that connection, because it is just silly. The fact that there are traits in our species that are similar to traits of other species does not mean that we are just copying them. It means that there is most likely some benefit for the species, even if we do not understand it, because otherwise it wouldn’t have lasted this long, especially not in multiple species. This (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB403.html) is an interesting source on homosexuality and evolution.

The second point you make in that section is that “[Homosexuality] is the exception rather than the rule” which also shows a lack of understanding. What rule? There is no rule. Whatever traits are in our species or any species, benefit the species, or else they wouldn’t exist. Organisms with that trait would not have survived. If it exists, it helps the species in some way or another.

“I’m also not a big fan of putting lifestyles into the same group as ethnicities.”

Sexuality is a spectrum. We don’t understand everything about it, but all evidence (that I have seen, anyway, please show me any to the contrary that you may have) seems to point to the fact that sexuality is something you are born with. It is not a “lifestyle.” It is inherent in people.

So, for your final question, you ask how we should go about finding the truth about the “whole gay issue.” I say we find the truth the same way we determine reality for anything else: science. And that is what is happening. More studies are being done about sexuality, and we will continue to go about figuring out ourselves and our world the best way there is; finding out more facts and drawing conclusions from what we know, and then amending those conclusions the more we discover.

12. debese - August 16, 2008

I’m heading for vacation (w00t!) so I regret that I won’t be able to pick up on any replies for a week. If TA would rather this discussion be somewhere else you’re welcome to post some comments at my blog or email me. But I’ll leave you with a few more discussion starters…or continuers as the case may be.

“Evolution is not a philosophy at all.”

Perhaps…but as a world view (One’s view of the world, how it got here, it’s purpose if any, and our role) it quickly influences philosophy and how people act regardless of any denials. Ideas have consequences in real life.

“It is what we accept as true because all of the evidence points to this, and so far there has not been any legitimate opposition. None. Zero.”

Which is of course why the evolutionist bristles and appears threatened at any opposing theory.

“No. Creationism takes the bible, and believes, with no evidence whatsoever, that it is true.”

This is a straw man argument…aka your perspective of what all creationists are like. And a false statement…but of course if:

““Fossils are there because Satan went back in time and put them there to trick us!””

Is the only or best argument you’ve heard from a “creationist” I don’t blame you for the previous sentence. Briefly, as a “creationist” I do start from the presupposition that the Bible speaks accurately and literally concerning the beginning of the world and mankind. And to this day there has not been one FACT that has ever made me squirm in doubt. But that’s another discussion still.

You make some interesting leaps of logic that I’d love to understand regarding us as animals and why we still have a morality that says we can’t do everything animals do. But because of some packing responsibilities let me skip to this statement:

“I say we find the truth the same way we determine reality for anything else: science.”

To put this quote another way: science is now how we determine right from wrong, truth and error. Science gives us our reason for being (if any) and is to be held in high regard. The scientist have become our popes/clerics/pastors/rabbi’s etc. in informing us what is good and acceptable for us to do….

And yet they keep discovering new things that force them to change their past discoveries, to the point that darwinism today looks a lot different than what Darwin wrote. Or that one year we’re told salt is bad, and the next year it’s good. Or in the 80’s the earth was going to be destroyed by global cooling and now by global warming.

I’m guessing that I’ve got a good chance that what they’re telling me now they’ll have changed in a year or two…just an observation (which of course makes me somewhat scientific since science is the discipline of observation 🙂 )

And…for your thoughtful pleasure let me leave with a question that even the great minded (seriously…very smart) Richard Dawkins had trouble with:

Can you name one place where new information has been added to the genetic code? (something required for animal to man evolution)

I haven’t traversed too many blogs recently to find out if someones answered that one yet or not, so I’ll be interested in your findings.

Now off to the mountains!

P.S. It is really cool to see you peeps actually thinking stuff through instead of just accepting stuff just because someone else says it.

13. a different teen atheist. - August 16, 2008

“…as a world view (One’s view of the world, how it got here, it’s purpose if any, and our role) it quickly influences philosophy and how people act regardless of any denials. Ideas have consequences in real life.”

Evolution is NOT a world view. It is not a philosophy. It says nothing about morals. It is not a religion. It does not address how the world got here, whether it or we have a purpose or anything at all like that. It addresses something COMPLETELY different.

If you personally find it morally uncomfortable that people weren’t created in the image of some supreme being, if you think that having an ancestor in common with monkeys means that we have no purpose on earth and that makes you feel sad or depressed, or if you think that the fact that people aren’t “chosen creatures” above any other animal means that we might as well eat our own young, it is very important that you realize that NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

It doesn’t matter what implications this idea has, it doesn’t make it false. Truth, as we discussed before, is not a democracy. Reality doesn’t change whether or not we like the truth. No one decides the truth.

And guess what? Evolution is essentially fact. People have lived, died, been moral and immoral, loved, lost, won, cried, done all of the things that people do, and they will continue to do so, whether or not they “believe” evolution. I am sorry if you are unhappy about it, or if you don’t believe me, but it still happened. Reality is reality.

“Which is of course why the evolutionist bristles and appears threatened at any opposing theory.”

I think this supposed to be sarcastic, but it can be hard to tell on the internet. It is unfair to call creationism “an opposing theory.” You are implying that creationism is equal to evolutionary theory. This is simply not true. Creationism has no credible evidence, where as all of the new evidence we get enhances our understanding of evolution. Evolutionary theory is a scientific theory, which means it has stood up to enormous scrutiny and all of the evidence, where as creationism What you take for “appearing threatened” is, for me anyway, frustration. I have had to deal with this nonsense far too long, and it comes from misunderstanding or ignorance, time and time again.

“This is a straw man argument…aka your perspective of what all creationists are like. And a false statement…”

Saying that creationism takes the bible and assumes it is true without any evidence is NOT a straw man argument. A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. You say, a few short sentences later, “…as a ‘creationist’ I do start from the presupposition that the Bible speaks accurately and literally concerning the beginning of the world and mankind.” I am not setting up a misrepresentation of your position, I am simply going by what creationists themselves say.

“You make some interesting leaps of logic that I’d love to understand regarding us as animals and why we still have a morality that says we can’t do everything animals do. But because of some packing responsibilities let me skip to this statement:”

Oooh… passive aggressive 🙂 We are in the animal kingdom, we are animals. That does not exclude morality. Clearly, we have morality; I think that cannot be denied. But what really is morality? Morality has changed over time. Some of the basics have stayed more or less the same, like, “Murder is bad” or “Don’t steal” but at some points in our history, slavery seemed like a pretty good idea to a lot of people. But some of this morality can also be found in the animal kingdom. Primates, and I would say most animals that live in groups condemn killing others in the same group. Is this morality? It is arguable. But anyway, I have gotten farther into that point than I meant to.

“‘I say we find the truth the same way we determine reality for anything else: science.’
To put this quote another way: science is now how we determine right from wrong, truth and error. Science gives us our reason for being (if any) and is to be held in high regard. The scientist have become our popes/clerics/pastors/rabbi’s etc. in informing us what is good and acceptable for us to do….”
That is not what I said. Science is how we determine REALITY. What is TRUE. It is to be held in high regard because a quest for truth is held in high regard, in my opinion. Science does not give us reason for being. Scientists do not inform us about what is good or acceptable. Science is about reality.
“And yet they keep discovering new things that force them to change their past discoveries, to the point that darwinism today looks a lot different than what Darwin wrote.”
Okay, first of all, the term “Darwinism” is totally weird. It is like calling people who accept the theory of gravity “Newtonists.” Second, the theory of evolution does not look all that much different from what Darwin originally wrote. We have come to understand things we didn’t before, for example, how variations come about. Darwin wrote about variation, and admitted he wasn’t sure what would cause variations. Later, we discovered DNA and genes, and we had that explanation. Our understanding increases as we find more evidence, more fossils, and have new technology to get more information from these fossils. What we have found seems to back evolution EVERY TIME.
Also, we keep discovering new things that force us to change our conclusions, not our discoveries. But that is just nitpicking 🙂 Anyway, as I said, if tomorrow we found a huge signature at the center of the earth, we would be forced to change our conclusions. But we haven’t found any evidence that suggests anything but evolution or else we WOULD have changed our understanding. We just haven’t.
“I’m guessing that I’ve got a good chance that what they’re telling me now they’ll have changed in a year or two…”
Our understanding of the world around us, and ourselves, is constantly changing. But from all of the evidence we have, evolution seems to fit it.
“And…for your thoughtful pleasure let me leave with a question that even the great minded (seriously…very smart) Richard Dawkins had trouble with:
Can you name one place where new information has been added to the genetic code?”
This has been popular, due to, from what I have seen, the YouTube video. This site has a good explanation: http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2007/07/12/creationist-crankery-flashback-richard-dawkins-stumped/
As does this one: http://www.darwintalk.com/
Important to note: Darwin was not stumped by this question, he did not even have trouble with it. An entire chapter of the book he was about to publish at the time was devoted to that topic.
“It is really cool to see you peeps actually thinking stuff through instead of just accepting stuff just because someone else says it.”
Oh dear, more passive aggressive statements! I am sorry, but you seem to have this backwards. To take evolution, a scientific theory with all of the evidence we currently have to back it up, a theory that has stood up to test after test, meticulously studied, and say it is just “accepting stuff because someone else said it” and then take a pseudoscientific theory that takes the bible and attempts (and fails) to find facts that fit it and say that they are the ones using critical thinking is laughable.
It would be really cool to see creationists actually thinking critically about stuff than just accepting the bible as the only and final word on the subject. Unfortunately, we just don’t see it.
(And also, super sorry to TA if we totally hijacked your post… I hope the debate is keeping you interested at the very least!)

14. a different teen atheist. - August 16, 2008

For some reason, that last comment’s spacing got all messed up! Sorry about that!

15. Teen Atheist - August 17, 2008

It’s okay, you can keep the discussion here. Thanks, TA v.2 for properly getting what I meant by “truth.” Life’s too short to be so semantic or politically correct. 🙂

16. Tet - August 22, 2008

i admire mild liberal theists which would not actually force you to mingle with their beliefs and respect you for your unbeliefs. nice friends! 😀

17. debese - August 25, 2008

First off…awesome vacation! When one lives in Florida, to spend a week in the mountains is a welcome change. (I think even my dog concurs on that one).

Second, Thanks to TA for your hospitality to this discussion. And to TA v.2 (2.0? 1.2?) for your thoughtful replies. I apologize if I came across as “passive aggressive”, twas not my intent…but then maybe that’s what that “passive” means. 🙂

To the point: You put forth arguments that well define your (and you’ll probably cringe at the word but I’m having a tough time coming up with another…feel free to suggest one) belief system. These arguments obviously don’t change my beliefs as I know nothing I say could change yours. Dawkins would label me as ignorant and I can live with that ad hominem technique. I was quite grateful for your links to Dawkins response to AIG, though his response to them was also to primarily attack them rather than deal with the issue…something that is very prevalent in his books. But hey, if he’s convinced he’s right, anyone else’s opinion would seem stupid, and as said before, I can live with Dawkins thinking I’m stupid.

So..back to the original discussion:

“Evolution is NOT a world view. It is not a philosophy. It says nothing about morals.”
“Truth, as we discussed before, is not a democracy. Reality doesn’t change whether or not we like the truth. No one decides the truth.”

Maybe I need some clarification here: Does evolution deal with how the world began? aka origins?

Also, I feel like I’m missing something. Where does mankind get this idea of “morality”? I totally agree that reality doesn’t change whether or not we like the truth. But I’m still trying to figure out where you say this “truth” of certain morals comes from.

18. Agersomnia - August 25, 2008

For an explanation on the origin of the cosmos, study about cosmology and the Big Bang. That’s the domain of physics.

For an explanation about the origin of the world, or other worlds, geology, astronomy, and physics again may be a good combination.

As for evolution, it’s a scientific theory set in biology and explaining the origin of differing species of living beings. Evolution itself does not even explain the origin of life.

In respect to humanity, evolution (Biology), anthropology, sociology and psychology are all needed. Biology explains our relation to other species, for a start.

About morality and moral “truth”… Well, psychology explains how we adopt certain principles and how we individually may change what we belive is most important. It also helps you understand all cultures have some 5-7 basic moral values, but every one prizes one over all others: honesty, freedom, loyalty, etc. And all have some purpose that help us stay alive.

Finding the Switch is a good article about the evolution and the “purpose” of gays in humans, and maybe in other species as well. Well worth the reading.

19. bostongraf - August 26, 2008

It is very important to note that Darwin was very clear about evolution not being a factor in human society. There was an evolution of humans. However, once humans created civil societies, evolution as laid out in Origin of the Species became a non-issue.

Do not make the mistake of trying to say that evolution has anything to do with morality or what is “right” and “wrong”. Morality is a result of civilized society, and as I just made clear, once civlized society was founded, evolution became a non-issue.

And with regards to homosexuality, there simply is not enough evidence pointing at homosexuality being genetic to state it as fact. I am not saying that it is or is not a genetic trait. I am just saying there is not enough evidence to indicate that it is or is not.

One of the points debese continues to make is that “[scientists] keep discovering new things that force them to change their past discoveries”. As TAv2 already pointed out, it isn’t the discoveries, it’s the conclusions that change. But she’s correct in that it is nitpicky…But what is neglected is that the ability to change one’s mind in the face of new evidence is exactly what allows science to grow and be improved upon. And in a setting of full-disclosure, the non-scientist is provided the opportunity to hear the facts that are out there and make their own deductions about those facts. This difference is essential when trying to imply that “scientist have become our popes/clerics/pastors/rabbi’s etc.”.

The do not tell us right and wrong as a clergyman would. They provide facts so that we can figure it out on our own. If we do not understand the facts, they are of course willing to provide their own views on the results. If they have an hypothesis about what something means/how something occurs, they test it. And if they are wrong, they tell the world that they were wrong.

But you present this as a bad thing? Would you rather live in the technology of the first century and not question anything? Would you rather we just accepted Newtonian physics as the end of it and kept Einstein locked in a dungeon for explaining Special and General Relativity?

For the record, there is nothing wrong with calling evolution a belief system. It is when blind faith is implied that it becomes incorrect. However, the word “belief” is not required. “System” by itself is just fine.

Regarding Dawkins and his tendency: “his response to them was also to primarily attack them rather than deal with the issue”…Well, this comes about when you realize that there actually are such things as stupid questions. What the question is trying to do is divert Dawkins from the meat of the philosophy, and try to pin down a specific anwser that may or may not be known, at this time. This is another key aspect of the scietific view point.

It is perfectly acceptable to say “I do not know”. Saying “I do not know” does not mean that my ascertions as a whole are incorrect or invalid. It just means that there are areas that need further investigation. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Therefore, Dawkin’s ad hominem response is merely a reflection of (IMO) an ad hominem question.

20. debese - August 27, 2008

So, morality is the result of “civilized” society? To borrow from a previous example, the only reason we don’t eat our young is because we’re “civilized?” A couple of questions arise:

1. This concept of “civilized”: Is it an eternally abosolute definition that one day recently evolved humans as a whole got together and said…hey…I’m getting tired of eating my babies…let’s be civilized. (going to the absurd there I know). But the question remains…who decided what “civilized” was and how did it happen…especially since those people would have no prior concept of it.

2. If morality (aka right and wrong) is the result of “civilized” human beings why use the animal kingdom as arguments for or against certain practices?

I cannot accept that civilization made evolution a “non-issue”, because ultimately, if we came from animals and have the same end as animals (and the potential that “millions of years from now” the dominant species will view us as lesser evolved creatures) why buy into anyones views of right and wrong? Sure, obeying a law or two might keep one out of the electric chair, but if they can get away with stealing, and killing, and it makes makes them happy and fulfilled…why not? Who died and made whoever defines civilization god?

As far as the ad hominem question…the question was not a personal attack, but a simple question. The question wouldn’t be labeled as ad hominem had Dawkin’s answered it…therefore the label has been applied due to Dawkin’s lack of an answer.

21. Agersomnia - August 28, 2008

To borrow from a previous example, the only reason we don’t eat our young is because we’re “civilized?”

It partially is. But we’re civilized because that helps the homo sapiens as a species stay alive, and pass on their genetic code generation after generation. Knowledge, intelligence, technology, are all products of the work of humans acting in groups. Right now, a society all around the world, but not so lo long ago they were sporadic groups in specific geographic zones.
Communities help people survive as helping others a little ends up making others help you. Also, is there are people doing full time recolection of food, then others can be crafting tools full time, and everyone is better at what they do: that’s where specialization started at small tribes and clans. I can keep going, but the main idea is: for humans, working in groups resulted generally in a better success rate than going alone in the world, so humans that worked in groups predominated. Also, agriculture gives more food than just search for wild fruits, so it also predominated. And as an impact of humans on what they ate, the vegetables that were cultivated also have changed with the time.

About eating our babies and civilization? Well, not long ago people left babies to die of exposure when they weren’t strong enough or when babies were born sick or with deformities. And that used to happen for the most part on civilizations that had a very limited amount of resources, so the survival of the group was above the survival of the individual.

Also, the conflict between siblings is not that far away from two birds in a nest where the older one pushes the other out of the nest, killing the other bird. Some times, it’s not the big brother, but a parent. And it also happens when resources are low or when a species grew with low resources. We’re much more like the animals we want to differentiate from than we’d like to…

And if genetics, or at least family ties are not important… Even when trying to gain absolute power its hardly common that a heir to a throne risks going to assassination with those too close to family.

…But there is also a purpose to the way some things are in our societies, in “civilization”, that have an explanation in the survival of the people that share social and genetic ties. If not, then why Jew people are so demanding with getting money, oil, and land? they share genetic ties, cultural ties, and religious ones. All working to get individuals with a strong purpose of helping the survival of the group, and directly or indirectly, their genetic code.

So civilization is a side effect of having brains and working in groups (both useful for staying alive)… and civilization subsists because it also helps our survival. Civilization didn’t made evolution a “non-issue”, because it is a result of evolution, and while we’re not noticing our own biological evolution that would keep our organisms adapted to the world, civilization helps a lot in adapting the world to us in a very notorious way.

22. a different teen atheist - September 7, 2008

Pretty much repeating what many people have already said, this whole, “Well how come we don’t eat our young?” thing is pretty much blatantly silly. Because it doesn’t make sense to eat our babies. We didn’t evolve to eat our young because it is not evolutionarily beneficial.

But we do a form of this, in modern society, through abortion. I don’t particularly want to get majorly into this topic because I don’t think that it is all that relevant to this discussion. But 80-90% of women who know that the fetus has down syndrome abort the pregnancy, in America. (Interestingly enough, a lot more than 10-20% of people in America are “pro-life” so…)

Okay, now for the “hey, let’s just be civilized” thing. So, there was this thing, called the Neolithic Revolution. I suggest you read about it. (http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/kushana/Neolithic.html) It is very important when it comes to understanding the evolution of society. (Note that when I say evolution of society I am not talking about biological evolution. In this case the word just means change.)

You clearly don’t have any accurate understanding of evolution. Evolution has nothing to say on the subject of how the world began or how life began. That is abiogenesis (how life began) and Agersomnia had a really good list about scientific fields that address the origin of the cosmos and the origin of the earth.

You say things like “lesser evolved creatures” which also shows a lack of understanding. Evolution is not a ladder. There is no goal, there is no better or worse. This video is quite good (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYybiwLRgfI) I recommend starting at around 5:40 to get to the point.

I want to clarify about my example of gay animals. The problem there is that you are viewing sexuality as a moral choice. SEXUALITY IS NOT A CHOICE. This is a fact. I am not saying, “oh, well animals do it, so should we!” I am saying that this is something that is very natural and shows up throughout the animal kingdom. It is natural, and the whole practice of calling it a lifestyle and talking about it in terms of morality is FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED.

As far as the Dawkins “unanswered question” I think that it was made pretty clear that the question was answered in many places. Dawkins did not answer the question then and there for the reasons that were giving in the article in the link I posted.

I personally have never met a creationist who understood evolution. If you have, then tell me so, but I am willing to wager that virtually all creationists have some misunderstanding about the nature of science or the nature of evolution.

23. John - September 23, 2008

> It was more centered around the sexual freedom of the era, which
> made me sad in realizing the truth: that we’d experienced a
> regression since then. Whatever happened to the days when being
> gay or bisexual was cool?

Aids.

> And then I get to thinking, was it easier to be an atheist back then,
> as well?

Yes. The conservative forces of darkness (Reagan, Thatcher, the fundee preachers who touted virtue while having their wicks in alterboys’ pants) hadn’t taken over yet.

24. Teen Atheist - September 23, 2008

Thanks for clearing that up for me, John!

25. a different teen atheist - October 4, 2008

I hate to bring this up again, but I just noticed this thing debese said and wanted to say something seeing as I have been hearing it a lot lately,

“These arguments obviously don’t change my beliefs as I know nothing I say could change yours.”

I would say that this is a major difference between us. You could easily convince me if you could come up with any evidence. I hold the same criteria for these subjects as I do when determining whether I believe anything. If you came up with evidence, I would have to re-evalutate my position.

Sorry to bring this up again… I just thought I’d mention it.

26. “Atheist” =/= “Alien” « Diary of a Teenage Atheist - October 10, 2008

[…] me a good bird’s eye view of how people in my country see atheists. There’s the weird “I was gonna tell you something but now I’m not because you might get offended” reaction, for one. And lately I’ve been more open about religion to more people. Luckily, the […]


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