Tag Archives: skepticism

These six superpowers are why atheists are #winning

Atheism is #winning

To be free from superstition or the belief in the supernatural is a rarity in the history of our species. It’s so rare in fact that it’s a stretch to include it in the description of what it is to be human. It is only through generations of evidence-based knowledge about the world that we have recently found ourselves in an environment hospitable to modern atheistic and skeptical world views. This niche we find ourselves in has been so out of reach to humans until so recently that the ability to experience such a detachment from gods and superstition might even be fairly described as superhuman.

There’s evidence that the origin of supernatural thinking dates as far back as 300,000 years ago when Paleolithic humans began burying their dead. If you consider that we’ve only had access to enough evidence-based ammunition to smother the absurdity of faith-based and superstitious thinking since the dawn of the scientific revolution 300 years ago, you realize that only 0.1% of our species’ existence since the Paleolithic era has been marked by the potential to be a modern atheist or skeptic.

So it can be argued that to be an atheist or skeptic in the modern world makes you superhuman. As an atheist (or future atheist) you might ask, “what’s the point of being superhuman if it doesn’t come with superpowers?” Well it does, take a look:

Superpower #1: Freedom of Thought

We have the freedom to think about anything we want without thinking someone else is listening. While our religious friends are fearful to imagine for even a second that there might not be a god because they might be damned to eternal hell-fire, we’re free to explore all ideas. The ability to entertain all ideas without the fear of a supernatural eavesdropper allows us to make sound judgments about the validity of some ideas over the absurdity of others. We’re #winning because our freedom of thought gives us the freedom to be ourselves.

Superpower #2: Wisdom

We live at a time when we have access to an unimaginable breadth of knowledge that helps us not only better understand our past, but more presciently plan for our future. Theists have to square any new knowledge they gain with the views held in their ancient doctrines. When there’s a conflict, they’ll choose the obsolete doctrine over new evidence leading them to surrender their potential wisdom to utter ignorance about the world around them. We’re #winning because our wisdom is built on the shoulders of giants.

Superpower #3: Imagination

With the unimaginable amount of knowledge we’ve garnered on the inner workings of the universe, our imaginations are given boundless range for exploration. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a theist who understands enough cosmology (see Superpower #2) to dream about, say, someday terraforming a planet, or to realistically contemplate the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, or to make a great discovery in string theory. We’re #winning because we have a “spaceship of the imagination” that runs on logic and evidence and so is limitless in range.

Superpower #4: Honesty

Understanding the world based on facts and evidence allows an honesty in our thinking. Theists have to hold in their minds competing ideas about how the world works as becomes apparent when they have to defend a belief. For example, watch what happens when you ask your Christian friend how, when Noah’s ark landed, the kangaroos made it back to Australia? Your friend will have to ignore the entire fossil record and invent a response. We’re #winning because we don’t have to make stuff up to make sense of the world.

Superpower #5: Stewardship

Our ability to consume and synthesize facts and evidence in the absence of religious doctrine allows us to make decisions that will benefit the future of our species. As is all too common in the US, Christians are the first to ignore scientific evidence in favor of faith, submitting control of the future of our planet to their imaginary friend. An atheist understands there are no gods to solve our problems and will therefore work to solve them rather than ignore them or try to pray them away. We’re #winning because our thoughts and actions are positively correlated to the survival of our species.

Superpower #6: An Evolved Morality

Our morality like everything else is subject to evidence and research and as such is able to evolve as our understanding of human nature evolves. We don’t rely on an ancient, static doctrine to mandate fixed moral codes that aren’t open to criticism as we learn more about ourselves and what it means to live in societies. A static view of morality results in a narrow understanding of what it is to be human and by extension what it is to be humane. We’re #winning because our morality is adaptable to knowledge and therefore promises to work to reduce the suffering of as many fellow human beings as possible.

We’re #winning because we possess superpowers that were out of reach for our species until very recently. If you’re a fellow atheist or future atheist, enjoy these powers, don’t squander them, and use them wisely.

An Honest Liar | James “The Amazing” Randi

For the past two years Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein have been filming James “The Amazing” Randi for a feature-length documentary entitled An Honest Liar. The film will tell the story of Randi’s colorful life and explore the dangers of magical thinking and deception. An Honest Liar will also reveal the unfolding drama of Randi’s involvement in a very personal deception of his own. Part of An Honest Liar will cover James Randi’s relationship with the artist José Alvarez, his partner of 26 years. It will also address how they are coping with the threat of José’s possible deportation for entering the country illegally decades ago to escape persecution as a gay man in Venezuela.

Check out this clip from the film of James and José discussing their frustrations over being unable to marry. In hopes of completing the film within the year, the filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. Take a look at the Kickstarter campaign for some more info about the rest of the film.

The film includes such luminaries as Penn and Teller, Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Adam Savage, and in addition to Randi’s life will explore skepticism, illusion, and how easily human perception is fooled. The importance of science and reason will be shown in contrast to superstitious beliefs and harmful deceptions, all framed through the life and legend of “The Amazing Randi.”

This is a film worth supporting.

Gay without God | Challenging the Status Quo on Two Fronts

By GWOG | gaywithoutgod.com

A few of us are gay. Fewer still are atheists. And only a fraction of us are gay atheists. Those of us who are both gay and atheists have grown up against the grain of society, a society that is very much heterosexual and theistic. Only a segment of us were raised in families that had already challenged the status quo of sexuality and religiosity before we arrived. The rest of us had to figure it out on our own.

This, as it turns out, was a blessing in disguise. 

Through the process of having to twice challenge social norms as we came of age, our minds became primed for freethinking. We can consider it a gift of chance that through necessity we were pushed to question our realities (skepticism), pushed to analyze and test the evidence of what is real and what is not (scientific method), pushed to think logically in contemplating the norms of society (critical thinking). 

And through that process of questioning, we found that society was generally wrong. Homosexuality is not immoral, and God does not exist. We arrived at both these conclusions for the same reason: there is no evidence for the contrary. We were shocked to find that society had been ignorantly humming along before our arrival on baseless assumptions, acting on those assumptions, and damaging itself in the process. Until now, no one had made enough noise to challenge those assumptions. No one had formally placed the burden of proof on society in its theistic claims and moral subscriptions. 

Things are changing. We have arrived. We are Gay without God. We will be out and proud on both fronts in challenging the status quo. 

…And What if I’m Wrong?

Raising the question, “What if I’m wrong?,” can be an immediate stumbling block for a Christian in contemplating the very idea that there might not be a God. This short video by Scott Clifton takes a pass at easing those fears by suggesting a set of thought provoking scenarios that might play out upon meeting God if he actually were to exist.

Jamy Ian Swiss – “Overlapping Magisteria”

Magician and skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss shares his passionate vision for the scope of modern scientific skepticism, live from the stage at TAM 2012.

“Overlapping Magisteria” is a phrase Swiss uses to describe the ability of scientific skepticism to provide a solid viewpoint on a whole host of different issues — for instance gay rights, or the atheistic worldview — by using a common lens through which to view the issue: critical thinking and a scientific mindset.