I am no atheist!

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Some days ago I lost a post I was writing about ‘my’ atheism.  Strangely enough it was a wordpress article and normally wordpress saves your work, but I can’t find the post. I did find the picture I uploaded.  Perhaps I lost the post when I turned of the computer while traditionally ignoring all the warning signs that pop up on the screen when doing so. Seems you can’t shutdown your pc anymore without warning signs and alerts popping up all over in such abundance that you ignore them.

Because I put a lot of effort into it I felt spent, so I probably wouldn’t have written this it if I hadn’t been watching a video made by Logicked(see below: the relevant passage is at 16:00).

Logicked is the identity for someone who says of himself: (I am an) Atheist / anti-creationist “debunking entertainment” videos with a top hat.
At some point in the video he tells that he was not raised with religion and this struck a cord with me as I can’t actually recall to have grown up with religion either. My parents had grown up with ‘religion’. She come from a group called Nederduits Hervormd(impossible to translate well but here we go: Lowergerman reformed)My mother told me once that her parents were looked down upon by some distant family members because they were related(they were nephew and niece), which according to those family members wasn’t allowed according to the bible(figure that for a book that has incest at the core of it’s writing). My father’s parents were vaguely catholic. I can’t recall my grandparents ever mentioning church or going to church.
My father was the most dominant of my parents by far, and a firm believer in science, so he ‘acquired’ books from the then popular Timelife series. This covered an extensive range of subjects in history, art and science and geography. He also liked science fiction novels and had a subscription on a popular science monthly. I always got the feeling that he wanted to give his children all the advantages he never got. I think he was very proud when I got my masters in history. It is all conjecture on my part, for my father died suddenly, so I never got around to ask about these things.
Religion was for me something on par with Tolkien and the Norse gods. I name these in one sentence because the time life series had a book called the early middle ages, basically the period of 400 to around 1200, which was mostly about the vikings and early England. It is that time in which the legends of Arthur are set. It has some very beautiful pictures in it. I don’t have those pictures of course, but here are a view similar ones I found on the internet.

Germanic_bracteate_from_Funen,_Denmark_(DR_BR42) copy
Germanic Bracteate
nordic art
Nordic carving
c78d661a2e50128513b6e391d8c23cc8
Coast line in scandanavia(not sure where)


For me these pictures speak of a vibrant society.
It might be one of the reason I like to make landscapes like these:

Book of summer
Book of summer(an inspired bit of nonsense I made on Veleda’s sim).

Religion was only talked about in our family in the way people talk about dwarves or orcs. Or, perhaps, like in role play games, where you have to pick a god as a trait, such as other people like to collect stamps.
Later on I joined the young humanists, not out of a conscious act against religion, but simply because I had a friend who invited me to join. Again, religion never played a part, nor did we ever think of religion as being a valid source of ideals that could only be supplied by religion.
When I went to university to study history, I did get to study religion, or to be more specific, Christianity, but it was like reading about the Scandinavian Gods(Hence the picture at the top). Some kind of religion that once held sway but has no relevance in our world. Of course there were people who killed in the name of religion, but these were to me nutcases belonging to a very small minority.
It is therefore that I don’t feel like an atheist even though other people might describe me as such. For me atheist supposes  that there is something valid to differ from, but in my world there was never something else. Besides, I don’t like be part of a group by default. I fact I have problems with belonging to groups regardless.
So I never felt like an atheist simply because religion(or perhaps I ought to say theism(which Is not the same I know)) is something I wasn’t  much aware of in my day to day life. Perhaps there were people who believed one thing or another, but probably my world is mostly populated with secular people or people who see religion as something personal.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the state of affairs in the United States. I actually started to find this out via Steve Shives, who  posted a video about five stupid things about Ayn Rand(a proponent of way of thinking that has led to some very objectionable ideas).  From Ayn Rand we got to Ayn Rand and Jesus and then from Jesus to the Logicked.

So we get from I an no atheist to I am one.

Damm, how do I hate to admit that.

—-

Logicked on himself(https://www.youtube.com/user/logicked/about).
Logicked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91d9hBisMg).
Steve Shives on Ayn Rand(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CyunRUJmc).
Steve Shives on Ayn Rand and Jesus(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeRAnNvyk5c).
Steve Shives on Jesus(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FLEnBK7s7o).

Sucker Punch, Tacitus, atheism and Orwell

” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

I don’t like quotes like these, because it feels like mindless repeating something that someone else has thought off and is probably quoted out of context anyway.. I heard  this quote when I watched the movie Sucker Punch, just to give you an idea of the context..
Sucker Punch is a curious movie. On the face it seems to be an over-the-top action movie filled with scanty dressed women who are facing various diverse unrealistic situations such as world war I with zombie Germans and so on.. The whole is tied together by a double layered story. The first layer is the ‘real’ world in which the main character is locked up in a psychiatric hospital. She fantasizes to escape her dreary environment and impending doom(being lobotomized). The next layer has her and her other inmates being held by a sleazy guy who acts like a pimp and the environment has a definite vintage feel. It is the layer in which she escaped to the next world.
Sucker Punch has not been received well and I think I can make case  that this has much to do with the pretty women dressed in fetish outfits and the over the top action scenes. It is too flashy and too sexy to look like a profound movie and as such it isn’t.  And that is ironic. Perhaps more quotes would have helped, even if these quotes are totally out of context such as the quote above. And as the case may be: quoting things out of context and cherry picking is a well established practice.

The quote made me also think of an issue I have been struggling with these last few months. I have been watching a lot discussions surrounding atheism on you tube. Atheism can be described as a rejection of the claim that a god(or gods) exists on the ground that there is not enough proof to think otherwise.  In the western world this discussion focuses mainly on the god of the Christians because that god is culturally tied to those areas.

In the Netherlands(my native country) there are almost no discussions surrounding atheism and as far as I can tell nobody takes exception when you say you are an atheist. Perhaps it might lead to an exchange of views, that eventually ends with stand off, but nothing more.
In the US and on You Tube however the discussion is on. There are good reasons for that.  In the US the obvious conflict is the one between fundamental Christians, spearheaded by creationist and apologists, and the atheists. But it isn’t just a fight between ‘extremes’ but one that has a profound influence on our world and thus affects us all. The well funded extreme Christian basically denounce anyone who oppose their claims and want any other claims suppressed. And this is scary because the US is the most powerful nation in the world both economically and military and also very influential in many other areas. A right winged extreme Christian United States is no blessing too the world.

An example of a group of people that are seen as enemies of the faith are those scientists who hold views that are contrary to the views held by extreme Christians. If their scientific investigations do not match with the Christian claims  or even contradict them then science has to take a backseat and adapt to fit the Chritian. claim. Such extreme views are propagated by the likes of a Sye ten Bruggencate.
An example is a passage from the works of the Roman historian Tacitus. When describing the burning of Roman in 64 AD he tells us that the emperor Nero shifted the blame to a group of people called Christians by the populace.. He then tells that the name Christians comes from a man called Christ who has been killed on orders of Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.  More about this can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ
This is the only passage on Christians and Christ that exist in the extant works of Tacitus. It is often pointed to as proof of Christs existence. The whole issue comes down to the interpretation of this sentence: Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,[]
Either this sentence builds upon the previous sentence in which Tacitus says that the name Christians is a name given to these people by the populace.. and then what is said about Christ is also derived from that source(whatever the value of such a source) or this sentence does not build upon the previous one and is one that stands on its own: this is what I Tacitus have found about about Christs(from other sources than mere hearsay). As you might have gathered, even the best of ancient writers do not out of habit mention their sources.

Whatever viewpoint is  the most valid one is very much in dispute, but one thing can be said for sure: this passage is not undisputed proof for the existence of Christ for the passage inself is disputed.
But extremist Christians still keep submitting that Tacitus offers precisely that: undisputed proof for the existence of Christ.

In the US the conflict is taken to the classroom where intelligent design is pushed as valid alternative scientific idea next to ideas such as evolution. These attempts have often failed, so an alternative strategy is develop: remove disliked theories such as evolution from the classroom.
And here we touch a profound  pattern. This is no longer about a conflict over opposing ideas,. this touched on  the progress of humanity. Evolution is not the only view that collides with intelligent design and creationism. Ideas about how the universe and life evolved contradict extremist views and eventually any critical thinking will. So when evolution is removed, this will be just the first of ideas that will be removed, because evolution isn’t a stand alone idea, it is part of a bigger picture, remove one and you need to remove the next . And then the next will follow. And the next. And the next. Until nothing remains.
But these are the idea that are born from critical thinking and eventually critical think will need to go. But it  this same critical thinking that underpins progress and inventions.  Without critical thinking there would be no internet or mobile phones or cars or advanced medicines or science.
Critical thinking, out of the box thinking, qualities that are so readily demanded from applicants by companies and institutions alike, have to be suppressed to make the world match with  extreme Christian concepts .And so we are now entering Orwells world of 1984 where history is rewritten to match the current state of affairs between the superpowers, because suggesting that it might have been changed is to suggest that ‘Big Brother’ has changed his mind, which suggest that he might have been in error. And ‘Big Brother’ does not make errors. The world will be eternally frozen into the now.. there will be no past and no future. There will be no progress.

I have often seen these discussions about atheism as fringe discussions,  interesting only to inhabitants of the United States and not ‘us’  Europeans. In addition I do not always like the methods and arguments of those that fight Christian fundamentalism. But the fact is that they, atheist, sceptics, scientists, artist and anyone else who are not liked by extreme Christians) are actually fighting for something that we accept as normal and we are not helping them.  They are up against some pretty powerful well funded organisations that do not hesitate to stoop to lies, deceit and manipulation to advance their agendas, and which will include an attempt to brainwash the next generation in thinking that the bible is the only proper source of knowledge and truth. And although  I don’t feel on any level qualified to join the discussion, I can at least report on it.. for even writing about it will be contrary to those who like to drag humanity down into ignorance.

So more posts will follow…

 ” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” might seem to be a reason to take a stand on something. But as a matter of fact, if you do stand for something it doesn’t mean you are doing better than those that stand for nothing. Fundamentalist stand for something.. and see what that leads to.

A life in addictions: conformity

Perhaps no addiction is as disastrous  to the world as the addiction to conformity. Or rather: the desire to force others  to conform. Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norm(says the wikipedia). It might sound strange that in a society that seems to underscore the drive to be unique and to stand out, a desire exists to have others behave the way we want them to behave. But is it so strange?

An example can be found here: http://www.autostraddle.com/im-a-trans-woman-and-im-not-interested-in-being-one-of-the-good-ones-172570/

Actually it isn’t at all strange if you come to think of it. In fact: standing out or excelling can only be done in a society where everyone conforms to the same rules; the rules that define who stands out or not. You need something to contrast with: the grey masses.

If nobody cares that you have a lot of money and don’t see this a as sign of quality, then money becomes irrelevant as a means to acquire status and stand above others who lack wealth. For a lot of westerners the idea that there are other means to acquire status besides riches is a strange idea. Yet it isn’t. There used to be and are other means to feel superior to others, means that are closed to those others. Just to give two examples: birthright and the caste system.

In the west the idea has developed that the best should lead and preferably lead without restraint. This is the essence of Objectivism, a philosophy that has been developed by a person called Ayn Rand and has found favoritism by a sizeable portion of (American) society, especially by those who belong to the higher echelons and see it as a vindication of their position.

Objectivism was an answer to the collectivism of  Socialism, Marxism and other ‘left wing’ political constructs.  Objectivism says that progress or the advancement of humanity as a whole is furthered by key individuals.  In this mythology examples of these leading people abound: Edison, Franklin, Einstein, Ford and so on.  The idea of the lone scientist who in his laboratorium discovers new theories and invents better things is so strong that is has become the leading staple idea of modern western society and is used over and over again in movies and books.(Ayn Rand will use this for her books as well.)

But one should take not that Objectivism is not to blame for this development. One should not think this philosophy was the cause or even the consequence of this idea of the unique individual who excels and should therefore lead. Objectivism is but a philosophy that fits the dominant culture of self centered individualism and finds favoritism with people who feel uncomfortable with their wealth and yearn for a reasoning that says: it is good to be wealthy. It is good to be rich.  It is good to strive for more even though you have more than enough.

Why do people feel uncomfortable with wealth?

This is because putting wealth before anything else doesn’t fit well with Christianity and the liberal democratic ideas that gave birth to the French revolution and the independence of  the United States. The French still have the essential ideas of their revolution on their official buildings: liberty, equality and brotherhood and Christianity still has it that everyone is equal before God and even, most shocking of all, that the meek shall inherit the earth.

This does not fit in well with Objectivism. But the power of humanity is such that it can combine diametrically opposed ideas into one culture: even in one person.  One can be a devout christian supporting the basic tenets of the Christian faith while at the same time be a devout follower of Ayn Rand supporting the basic tenets of Objectivism and denouncing those of the christian faith.  Ironically something Ayn Rand does and gets away with it.

Objectivism strongest asset is that it tells us that it is okay to be rich and we are not required to share our wealth with others because they should get their own.

But what has this to do with conformity?

The whole point of Objectivism is not what it says, but what it does not say. Few individuals are as brilliant and developed as the main characters of Ayn Rand book Atlas Shrugged. It is probably that you would not be able to find anyone in this world who is like them. They are makebelieve persons born from the fantasy of Ayn Rand, just like Superman is dreamed up by Jerry Siegel and given shape by joe Shuster. And yes.. Superman does not exist. Well at least not yet.

In fact the millions of people who might adhere to Objectivism might not find anything in that philosophy that describes their sorry plight and they will actually have to face the truth  that they themselves are not like Dagny Taggert, but just like everyone else: losers.

Thing is that a highly fabricated construct of Objectivism can only work if everyone else besides the Taggerts shuts up and does what they are told. For without the guys and gals cleaning the toilets, fixing the roofs, driving the cars and pushing the buttons that make the trains of Taggert go, the brilliant leaders of society would not see their plans bear fruit.

In a very ironical way Objectivism is not so much opposed to collectivism but a philosophy that develops it further. In collectivism everyone is equal, in Objectivism some are more equal than others.

Conformity is therefore essential to Objectivism and western society. You shall not stand out unless you do. And as long as you don’t you will be part of the grey masses whose sole purpose is to support those who do excel. In the meanwhile we entice you with the idea that you can stand out, but in fact few ever will. In fact you never will.

Objectivism is not so much a philosophy that explains, but a band aid for those who feel uncomfortable with their wealth and their positions. And when they appear before Jesus or God after they died, they can explain to Him(or Her) that they did it all to further the progress of Humanity just like Ayn told tells in her writing.

And Jesus will probably forgive them regardless, because the bible tells you so.

But I am sure that Ayn Rand will not forgive those who do not excel and in her heaven there is only room for those who are more equal than others.

And for all others there is just oblivion.