Michael Sherlock’s Atheist Atrocities

Posted by Jim Newman on October 24th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in religion

gottMitUnsMichael Sherlock writes a rebuttal against the popular misconception that Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot were atheists and had they been real Christian their atrocities wouldn’t have happened. If they were Christians, they weren’t good Christians.

Atheism is exploding into sects, branches, and social syncretes of the tautologous but facile idea that atheism just means no gods. Yet atheists want to say they are more moral than the religious or at least as moral to show social and political acceptability. Social justice types go further and say that atheism must include some definitions of morality, or that atheist groups must pay attention to other issues, often member oriented, besides the constant screaming of there is no god.

The easy thing is to pick through history, find the tyrants-conquerers, and then discern whether they were really religious or not. The difficulty of this is that those who follow a religion rarely follow all of it; they prefer to follow certain parts of their faith and reinterpret others. The easy ploy, like “it’s all faith,” is kin to claiming “that’s not my religion.” In conquest the balance of using local religions versus imposing another is difficult. A new religion is like having a common ally against others–the alien theory of social cohesion where everyone bands to gather to fight or endorse yet another party. Or conquer lightly and infiltrate over time.

We have to look over the manifold expressions of a religion to discuss the dogma, or ideology, of the religion. If there is immorality there, then it has to be excised or others can at any time refer to the ideology as support, even, or especially, when many don’t follow that particular part. The difficult part is the response to Hitch, that atheists can’t be moral because they do not make a covenant with god. That’s why religion is systemically poisonous–its premise is no matter how you behave, unless you do it for Jesus you’re immoral–natural morality can be followed with praise but you will not be saved.

Want to make a difference? Take a small part of a religion and elevate it to high status. Old followers see commonality and comfort in familiarity and radicals see the newness and progress towards what they value. All of the time insisting that these truths are absolute and revelation or divinely inspired intuition has motivated the epistemic change.

Hitler is a fine example of a conflicted religious follower. It is unlikely that he was a devout Christian, in the common sense, (does avoiding communion mean you’re not Catholic?) though he does claim such, he does work with the papacy, and he does claim to follow god in his wars to elevate true Christians to world dominance. He mimics Luther’s hatred of Jews in a long history of Christians hating Jews. They were the Christ killers, and they were a competing religion that was having too much success yet were insular, conversion not allowed.

“Besides that, I believe one thing: there is a Lord God! And this Lord God creates the peoples.” [1] ~Adolf Hitler

“We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations; we have stamped it out” [2] ~Adolf Hitler

It would be impossible to deny that John was antisemitic.

From all of the evidence available in the volumes of historical works, both Christian and non-Christian, it is clear that there is an unbroken chain of hatred, intolerance, and racism toward the Jews, which began with “John’s” Gospel (see also the Synoptic gospels) and continued all the way down into the twentieth century, ending with Hitler’s bloody campaign against the Church’s most despised enemies. [7]

More than a few bible scholars have made mention of the virulent anti-Semitism of John’s gospel. This anonymous and falsely named piece of work goes beyond its synoptic counterparts (Matthew, Mark and Luke) to directly accuse the Jewish people of being the “sons of Satan” (John 8:44), thereby demonizing the Jewish people and opening the door to a millennia of Jewish suffering at the hands of credulous Christian maniacs.

But we can better blame Luther for having created World War II against semitism. It goes back through all of the wars before.

“If we wish to find a scapegoat on whose shoulders we may lay the miseries which Germany has brought on the world, I am more and more convinced that the worst evil genius of that country, is not Hitler or Bismarck or Frederick the Great, but Martin Luther.” [24]

Hitler was the logical conclusion of a particular kind of German destiny. In a sense he was a perfect pawn. You can be sure the US didn’t join the war for Jews though. They joined because the Germans and fascists were including Americans as part, a haven, of Jewish culture.

If Christians don’t believe it could be true that a people would consider themselves world leaders or the bearer of good news to all, let them look to their own motivations to have everyone saved, or that only through Jesus can one be saved. “With god you can do anything.” Is this really helpful? Psychs say a sky daddy gives strength. Yes, including world domination. “With democracy you can do anything.” “With kindness you can do anything.” “With economic support you can do anything.” The structure becomes meaningless–all that is heard is “you” and “anything” until reflection and then it is the subjective god.

Indeed, the heavy castigation of atheists being so militant is that atheists show the totalitarian and fascist aspects of the religious. Even though atheists are hardly represented in politics even the hint that the religious aren’t the world’s most saved and blessed people is too much to bear. It’s still a huge competition for world domination by religious factions. To disarm the very premise of this causes the religious to ban together. At least some religiosity continues the competition–the only thing worse than losing is being told the competition is invalid.

A big reason atheists hate to claim an inherent morality is many do not want an absolutist morality other than vague abstractions like reason, evidence, and science. One of the reasons many older atheists are *difficult* is that they rebelled against authority and religion long before it was popular and they never cared for any particular moral climate that was impressed upon them. They don’t want to create yet another authoritarian morality. Let atheists be democrats or republicans they say. Yet, politics is the point and always has been. Knowledge without according action is empty. Atheism must show some sort of way to action or it is utterly meaningless like “how many angels on a pin.” Reason has to show itself to morality or why use it?

Sherlock provides a good summary that so called atheists dictators were religious either self avowedly or for reasons of conquest. An ideology of conversion, good news, and idiosyncratic salvation, helps subdue people.

Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com

Atheism as Quasi-Religion

Posted by Jim Newman on October 22nd, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in religion

religion as politicsI am adding foam between the framing of a shed to be converted into a play house or for overflow sleeping. It had been going to be a shop but the owners realized that was unlikely, and they really needed a separate space for visiting kids during holidays. They had considered building a yurt but that was equally expensive and less versatile for their needs.

Cutting out squares of foam so they fit and then spraying liquid foam to hold the pieces in place and fill voids is not a difficult task. It is pleasant compared to working with fiberglass batting which is one of the worst construction chores possible.

Though cheap, fiber-glass insulation should be banned. It creates silicosis-causing dust, is extremely itchy, hard to install properly, provides vibrant nesting material for insects vermin, and holds a fair amount of water after water intrusion.

It’s popular for many to call atheism a religion. A News24 post pretty well sums it up.

I believe that atheism, like Islam currently, is also concerned with politics. In politics, secular belief systems, especially, have the character that the world must be changed in order to achieve the perfect state – a secular state. Why else do secular humanists want a secular state if atheism is not a belief system?

I conclude that we deal with much more than a denial of something here and that atheism, shorn of all its semantics is in my opinion a belief system akin to religion and if you look at the nature of the beast you see nothing but a quasi-religious belief.

By this measure my proselytizing that fiber-glass insulation should be banned is quasi-religious. Or do I have to have written 10 posts against fiberglass, or gone on a speaking tour with a new book?

Does a String theorist who spends his life battling against the Classic model a religious proselytizer or just quasi-religious?

Does promoting universal health care or a political party display a religion? Are politicians religious? Educators?

If I am a pain in the ass to my friends, does correcting them when they make errors in critical thinking, memory, and observation make me really just more quasi-religious? Or just an annoying personality, or an oppressed personality that is still privileged enough to complain?

Is the climate change battle a religious battle on the face of it? One world view battling another? Was the morality of women’s and race’s suffragism a religious morality play? There are certainly religious inputs and justifications. Certainly there is prayer for guidance.

When religious dogma has advice on how to live life or what life-reality is then countering those claims do not create another religion. It is too easy to conflate religion as the top, umbrella, world view and every other world-view is a subset. These are epistemic or ontological questions, not choosing a religion.

It gets really tiring that in atheism anyone having a strong opinion, or wearing their opinion on their sleeves is religious. I suppose that makes all of those people wearing pink or yellow or red bands as jewelry religious expressionists, and not just promoting gay, MIA, or breast cancer research.

The more tiresome phrase, “it’s all faith,” tells us nothing about what to believe but attempts to make choosing impossible, there is no ultimate true faith, just mine and yours, no real proof, stop asking. But when a faith, just like a material, causes harm then demanding it to be banned or removed is nothing more than consideration of harm and benefit, along with mediation to freedom and privacy.

If we were talking taxes and why one tax system is better than another would that be a religious discussion? Tax systems embrace nearly all parts of our life including issues of social, government, and moral goodness and worth. Not just money, but ideology. The money lender fables are ubiquitous. The castigation to belief and faith is political and insular. Nothing more.

I saw this idiotic style present in computer wars where one side says they will never use Windows and another side says they will never use a Mac.  it became an all encompassing world view including the work environment (no Macs/PCs here), the real environment (the Green/Ruinous machine), and the user environment (ease of use, versus expert efficiency–doer vs tinkerer). More people spend time on their computers than in church by far. After awhile I wanted to make both of them use an abacus and pencil again.

Football, sewing circles, book clubs, all become quasi-religions by this measure. Which is nonsense. Religion is not the definition of social structure, it is an example of it.

When you hear someone whine faith or belief it is nothing more than a shield to halt discussion.

Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com


New Pope, Same Vatican

Posted by Jim Newman on October 20th, 2014 – 1 Comment – Posted in Catholic Church

gays and bishops

Two hot waters fail in a week. Changes creates stress. In one case a user who turned up the temperature blames herself for breaking water heater. How easy it is too take responsibility or give blame for something of which we have little control.

The great thing about dogmatic institutions is how layers of control ensure no one layer can have excessive control. The Pope has been welcoming on many levels but then rescinded on many levels by high order Catholics, lackeys to the dogma–but ideology doesn’t drive discourse, right, moderates…

The synod’s final statement failed to include remarkably conciliatory language revealed a week ago that would have welcomed the “gifts and qualities” of gay Catholics and called on pastors to “avoid any language or behavior” that could discriminate against divorced Catholics.

While the language on gays had been softened during discussion in the meeting’s last days, the final document failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote it needed. The bishops did, however, praise conjugal love — love within the bounds of traditional marriage — calling it “one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.”

Don’t you just wanna praise how USA Today contradicts their own “however” since Catholic traditional marriage makes sin many other kinds of marriage, sex, religious or not? Praise conjugal love as long as it’s hetero’s in the missionary position… Or is it Ok to go from behind, or cowgirl, now? I forget or was that Paul who said doggie style was Ok? The shifting dogma is hard to follow. It would be a good sign if it were in a better direction–the heels dig in like power affronted.

You have to to wonder which sex positions? If it’s all about economy, disenfranchised young men, honor, cultural vitality, why gay and conversely, why missionary?

image source

Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com

Rational Atheism, the New Irrational Atheism

Posted by Jim Newman on October 17th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Uncategorized

hitchens-smokingPost work-weekend reunion is a rapid transition. Everything is happening at once with declining daylight. It is simply not possible to have enough light to continue working at what most needs to be done. Even interior work lags, fighting artificial light.

Irrational Atheismn posts that atheism is just another faith, yawn, but atheism is still exciting..

Ironically, this is similar to the totalizing worldview of religion—neither can be shown to be true or false by science, or indeed by any rational technique. Whether theistic or atheistic, they are all matters of faith, stances taken up by tiny creatures in an infinitely rich environment.

I’m an atheist because I think of the universe as a natural, material system. I think of it, on the basis of my own extremely limited experience, as an infinitely replete but morally indifferent thing. It isn’t bent on saving me, or damning me: It just is. I find comfort in that, as well as pain; wonder as well as loathing. That’s my experience, and my atheism is a reflection of that experience. But it’s not an argument; it’s an interpretation.

The thing is that most nonbelievers don’t posit, for example, that a really big white sky daddy created us and is here to allow us to torture each other to be able to go to a world we think is better.

From near all views humans have used evidence and reason to form whatever world view they want. Even intuition(s) reduce to evidence and reason. This does not make all world views the same or equal. People trust they are thinking, eating, defecting, feeling pain. Heuristic biases focus thoughts. Reflection aids. There are things of which we are more certain than others.

Kierkegaard is great to torture one’s aesthetic self but the witless leap is praising action to stasis without regard to content except in its promise of movement. Using this to choose a religion requires a near constant changing as one gains more or less evidence, reason, sufficient to create action. It is existentialistic in that it is a constant creation of meaning in the face of a changing environment and self. But I don’t think that’s the religion most mean, atheistic or not. Nor is it certain that this kind of rapid cognitive evolution is helpful in societies meriting tradition. All this time considering I’m using reason and not jumping to conclusions, though like walking is falling, I am. We can still think and walk effectively, run even.

Irrational is a convenient term to mark a point on a line where rationality suddenly becomes unreasonable. Just where is that point for you?

Everything is an interpretation may as well be everything is a misinterpretation. While semiotics helps deconstruct many biases in reasoning, science, and culture it doesn’t preclude prescription and some decree of moving certainty. It’s okay to say genital mutilation is wrong for absolute humanitarian reasons.

Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com

Atheist Rehab Care

Posted by Jim Newman on October 16th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Uncategorized


Family, farm-work, reunion weekends are an all embracing aspect of living here. Requires several days of prep and then recovery.

It’s nice to see Barry A Hazle Jr win a couple million for refusing to join faith-based rehab programs.

Barry A. Hazle Jr., 46, served time for a conviction of methamphetamine possession in 2007. As a condition of his parole, he was enrolled in a drug treatment program where participants were required to acknowledge a “higher power,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

Hazle complained and asked for a different treatment program, but was told the only option in his area was the faith-based, Westcare 12-step program, according to the Record Searchlight.

Hazle was sent back to jail for more than three months for allegedly being “disruptive, though in a congenial way, to the staff as well as other students” and being “sort of passive-aggressive,” the paper reported.

Disruptive though in a congenial way. Annoying but not alienating.

There needs to be better and many more rehab programs for many levels and extents of addictions; part of basic mental health services freely and easily available. Therapy booth and birth control at Walmart next to the optical center.

“I’m thrilled to finally have this case settled,” Hazle said on Tuesday. “It sends a clear message to people in a position of authority, like my parole agent, for example, that they not mandate religious programming for their parolees, and for anyone else, for that matter.”

The higher power can often be anything, a lucky rabbit’s foot, a chair, whatever. Which is more like totemism or material fetishism, but why would I, for example, do it? How would it work without conversion? If faiths are supportive to wellness then the faiths of the unfaithfuls need their own remediation.

The California Department of Corrections has since issued new rules stating that parole officers may not require parolees to attend faith-based programs.

Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com

Accepting Others

Posted by Jim Newman on October 9th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Personal Stories

the family placeYesterday and for the next three days family will be arriving to participate in work weekend. By now, generations along, in familial diaspora, familial culture has mostly changed. Returning to an ancestral home provides cultural challenges and assurances. Some see the farm as dear to the family culture. Others wouldn’t care if it were sold off. This farm has been in the same family for 250 years, which is unusual for this landed entity, properly call a plantation rather than a farm. At its peak, a small city of 60 or so people.

Families that have dynastic tendencies provide means of holding bonds across time and place. Families that divide into individual units eventually lose track of each other and  no bonds form or remain. The culture of the one group becomes very different than the other. Using religion as an example of cultural unity this dynastic family centers around an Episcopalian type of faith which is useful because of its greater inclusiveness. For the second type of family even Episcopalianism isn’t sufficiently inclusive as common ground, irregardless of whether they are more or less conservative.

Neither a strict biblical literalist nor a holy book hater are going to find much sympathy or condolences in their politics supported by faith. Respect only works until one side or the others needs to act to maintain integrity.

But even in the first group, over time, alliances change and the more liberal types may become buddhist, belief in belief types, or secular. Others may become more conservative insisting that really a strong Christian belief is most acceptable and conservative politics are necessary.

It’s a hard balance because you want everyone to enjoy and respect each other to keep the land and family together on its trajectory of good care, a sense of land, history, and shared value with support. But it’s hard to listen to prejudice and bigotry when it casually comes up.

I can see how tasks and entertainment provide a distraction from too deep discussion of sensitive topics that have a danger of division when unity is more helpful. This tension is relieved but broken when unity loses value over principle and departure is the only relief.

As an in-law I find these dynamics fascinating and scary because I can’t help but be involved in them.

Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com