Carnival of the Godless #12027 June, 2009
I volunteered to host an edition of Carnival of the Godless. Should be fun, right? Entertaining, right? Bring lots of visitors to my blog, right? Easy, right?
Well, after I waded through three condo sales websites, one Christian Bible Studies sitewith the ever popular Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ”There is no God,”” followed by lots of circular reasoning, and two adult male enhancement adverts, I started to wonder about the ‘fun’ part. Though, I admit the godbot idiocy was mildly entertaining (much the same way a train wreck, a Dallas Cowboys victory, or a Vin Diesel movie is entertaining — disgusting, but you cannot look away). The CotG should bring some visitors, but it sure as hell was not easy.
First, hosting this carnival is hard work!.
Take Greta Christina, for example. Her writing is incisive and entertaining. However, the writing is so good and thoughtful that finding the money quote can be quite difficult (like I said, ya’ll make this hard!). Her interview skills would put your average TV interviewer to shame (okay, that was damning with faint praise, but trust me, it is meant as a complement). In “The cultural tethers of organized religion”: Interview with Black Atheist Sikivu Hutchinson she takes a close look some questions which invite critical thought:
“What is the difference between being actively inclusive and welcoming of people of color… and simply not being overtly racist? And how does that play out in the atheist community?”
And, of course, the answers are just as good as the questions:
. . . the European- American atheist community can’t be truly inclusive unless there is some recognition of how privilege and positionality undergird the very articulation of atheism as an ideological space that empowers white folk to deconstruct the cultural tethers of organized religion. . . .
Sometimes finding the money quote is easy. The straight-forward writing over at …And That’s How You Live With A Curse is just as satisfying, just as insightful (or maybe that should be inciting), and, in get evidence first, quite in-your-face:
if you have no actual evidence for your particular god, sharing your beliefs is a waste of my time. you are irrational and i don’t really have to listen to you on that particular subject.
Finding the money quote at The Uncredible Hallq is also hard. He deconstructs the potential woo factor of self-confidence so tightly, so carefully, that pulling out one quote from Can Beliefs Change the World?: Thoughts on Self-Confidence took a while. I succeeded (reading it boosted my self-confidence quite effectively) by reading (of course) the conclusion:
The path that gives you the best of both worlds–the benefits of real self-confidence without the costs of pedestrian self-deception–is the one where you do your best to see the world as it really is, including a realistic understanding of what greater self-confidence can do. This will allow you to have more self-confidence where doing so will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Second, some of your writings brought the froth and rant in me into full bloom.
VJack (who, I have to admit, was the first atheist blogger I ever read (back when I was a universal deist agnostic wishy washy guy)) explores the old dishonest and self-serving morality quandary: “If You Don’t Believe in an Afterlife, Why Be Moral?” And the answer? In part:
It is simply the right thing to do. How do I know? Because it makes good intuitive sense and helps maintain a desirable social structure.
Of course, we should be happy that believers in the afterlife are afraid of the the big skydaddy, otherwise who knows what they would do, right? Sikivu Hutchinson (the same Sikivu Hutchinson interviewed by Greta Christina) shows just how well behaved and moral true believers can be in “God Sent the Shooter:” White Christian Terrorism and the Assassination of George Tiller:
Those who invoke Christian fundamentalism as justification for their barbaric incursions against women and their allies are dismissed as aberrations, even though the profiles of the killers are always the same, the suspects—generally disaffected white middle aged males, aligned with a crackpot anti-government militia and/or fundamentalist ethos steeped in the bloody retribution of the Old Testament—virtually plucked from central casting.
Ah, but such terrorism (sorry, unusual aberrations in no way reflective of real Christianity) is the exception, right? Most believers are so scared of the sky daddy that they behave, right? The Socratic Gadfly submitted two which nest nicely. So rant away, Socratic Gadfly, rant away. In Another GOP hypocrite can’t keep his pants on, SG points out the full hypocrisy of Republican sex:
Extramarital heterosexual sex is OK for the GOP.
Gay sex is not OK at all.
Extramarital heterosexual sex is NOT OK for Democrats. (Or “others,” if Bernie Sanders ever gets busted.)
Sounds simple, right? Well, not to worry. Hypocrisy goes both ways as SG notes in Corruption and religious cover-up is bipartisan:
What, gOd will magically becloud the minds of federal jurors? Good luck with that one.
Oh, and given the ethical slap on the hand the hubby got from the House Ethics Committee two years ago, this must run in the family.
Obviously, what is needed is a way to tell people that it is perfectly acceptable to be an atheist. That rationality, a reality-based view of the world, is okay. Luckily, there are ways, as the Aardvarcheologist himself, Dr. Rundkvist, points out in Swedish Atheist Ad Campaign:
Gud finns nog inte — “God probably doesn’t exist”.
Works for me.
Third, sometimes you just make me laugh at loud, as Bay of Fundie’s Ron Britton did with Dining with the Devil:
The cop gave this woman a speeding ticket. Then she looked at her odometer. The last three digits were 666! Satan made her speed!
Living With Mormons has an amusing (in an odd way) post about dealing with Cognitive Dissonance vs. The Holy Ghost: a guide to understanding your burning bosom. And has some sage advice:
Lastly, if you do pray and you do indeed receive a (non-literal) burning of your bosom, you might want to consider the possibility that Satan is simply fucking with you.
And fourth, damnit, ya’ll make me think. I come home from a long hard day interpreting industrial history and want to relax. I start reading, get drawn in, and the next thing I know, (((Wife))) is asking if she should print a keyboard on her stomach so I’ll pay attention to her!! Sorry. Ya’ll write thought-provoking posts.
For instance, C. L. Hanson (who writes Letters from A Broad). She compares the long GLBT fight for human rights with the one that atheists are just beginning in Unrequited? Why the atheists love the gay more than vice-versa…. She explores what might bring the two communities together, as well as what separates the two groups:
This isn’t an atheist/gay thing — it’s human nature in general. You don’t improve your popularity by hanging out with the folks who are even more nerdy than yourself,
Andrew Bernardin, writing at Florida Freethinkers, explores the possible roots, and uselessness, of spirituality in The Hot-Air Balloon of Spirituality:
When a person in ancient times fell over and died, it was plain to see that they had stopped breathing. They lost their breath; no longer did they respirate.
Is this how “spirit” acquired the connotation of being some pure and essential up-force? If you are spiritual, you have plenty of up-force. When you die, you fall down: your up-force has left you.
And lastly, also by Andrew Bernardin (but writing this time at Evolving Mind), an exploration of the social benefits of ceremonies in Real World Benefits of Religion. He argues, quite effectively, that the ceremonies associated with religion have a
. . . real social payoffs for groups of individuals. I am fully serious when I propose that part of the social payoff could be seen as a welfare program for schizotypal personalities. Tending to hear voices and finding (projecting) meaning at a pin drop–call them shaman, call them prophets, call them priests. Whether they are born that way and/or adapt to a social niche is likely a complex phenomenon.
The selection of godless posts above are a good cross section of the on-line atheist community. Humour, thought, challenge, and questions, are all part and parcel of what we all do as part of the atheosphere.
Keep living, keep thinking, keep questioning, keep creating.