In about twenty minutes my taxi will arrive to take me to the train station, which with then whisk me into London for the start of TAM London 2010, taking place at the London Metropole Hotel.
To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. Last year saw the inaugural TAM London, the first ever Amaz!ng Meeting event to take place outside of the US. It was a resounding success and was attended by people from all around Europe from all walks of life — some of whom were household names. During that weekend I made a number of friends, most of whom I have been in regular contact with ever since. Many of us have subsequently joined or started skeptic groups in our own communities and have become more active in our fields of interest.
This year the event is taking place in a bigger venue, as there are far more people attending, and I’m looking forward to seeing those same friends again this weekend, making new ones, enjoying the talks and performances — particularly the world première of Tim Minchin‘s Storm movie — as well as the chance to chat with and get to know people during the breaks.
If you’re a skeptic, atheist, humanist, secularist, or scientist, then the opportunity to commune meaningfully with like-minded people is not to be underestimated.
After all, who said only the religious get to have a social life and sense of community?
Normally I’m reluctant (believe it or not) to post blatantly antagonistic anti-theistic posts, but I do make the occasional exception, as I am both qualified to and normally only do so to make a point. This is one such example.
Top Ten Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian
10. You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9. You feel insulted and “dehumanised” when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8. You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7. Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in Exodus and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in Joshua including women, children, and trees!
6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5. You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4. You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects — will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving.”
3. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to “prove” Christianity.
2. You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% failure was simply the will of God.
1. You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history — but still call yourself a Christian.
/ Hat tip to EvilBible.com.
Okay, let’s not. Yet still I wait for the furiously-typed refutations to come: typed on keyboards attached to computers, powered by electricity from power plants transmitted from miles away via the Internet over telecommunications infrastructure, by people who managed to avoid the above tragedies, whether by medical advancement or due to vaccinations that provided herd immunity.
Hmm, there’s a theme in the italicised terms. I wonder what it could be? Wait, don’t tell me…
That’s it: SCIENCE! From the Latin word scientia, meaning ‘knowledge.’ (Not ‘anti-religion’ as much church-/temple-/mosque-/Murdoch-sourced propaganda would have you believe).
Hat tip: LOLgod
A while ago I covered Pascal’s Wager, the logical fallacy used by some religious people to ‘reason’ non-believers into believing ‘just in case’ their particular god story is true. And then along comes a single image to cover it simply and succinctly:
When you then consider the likelihood that this is the only life we get — that there’s nothing once we pop our clogs — all of that suffering, brutality and ignorance becomes tragic.
Of course if there is a god of some kind, then he/she/it/them will appreciate the person who used the brains they were given, rather than hitching their horse to the wagon they were born next to.
Hat tip: LOLgod
Many people who either cannot see evidence for the existence of gods or are convinced that gods do not exist (there’s a difference) keep to themselves and never speak of it, watching in bemusement as their loved ones structure their twenty-first century lives according to the words of pre-scientific Bronze Age nomads and shepherds.
Or perhaps they haven’t given much thought to their position on the supernatural — or are frightened for one reason or another — so when asked their beliefs, they’ll write or say the same thing as their family. In some cases this can be an act of self-preservation, as much of the world does not enjoy religious freedom (yet) and can be punished severely. However, for most in the West this normally revolves around our relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
Wherever you live, the unfortunate result of this passive acquiescence is that governments and organisations with a strong religious ideology are then able to claim that the percentage of religious believers is far higher than is actually true (this can be skewed further by families with a domineering religious parent, or parents who take their babies to be christened or equivalent). Religious Tolerance states that, as of 2000, one-third of the world’s population is Christian, 19.6% is Muslim, 13.4% is Hindu, 12.7% are non-religious, and has atheism at 2.5%. They state that non-religious includes those with “no formal, organized religion include agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, secularists, etc” but clearly consider atheists to be a separate category. I think this is misguided at best — I consider myself a Secular Humanist (i.e. humanist), which is very much an atheist world view. One could also say that non-theists (i.e. all those without religion) are 15.2% of the world population, and thus the third-largest group, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, either.
So with all these statistical fun and games taking place from the school classroom to the highest seats of government power, isn’t it time we stood up to be counted?
Funny you should ask! Next week is the start of the ‘A’ Week on Facebook campaign (29 March to 6 April, 2010), hence the scarlet letter ‘A’ image at the top of this post. From the campaign’s front page:
Good without God? Imagine Facebook with ‘A’s all across the site showing the world is full of people who are ‘good without God‘ and don’t need religion to influence their lives. Imagine the awareness we can raise during ‘A’ Week On Facebook if 1,000s of people take part. Imagine… you can be a part of making a difference…
Details on how to go about joining this campaign can be found at its website:
Simply follow the recommended steps, then you’re good to go!
In the past I’ve been reticent to connect myself with groups such as the Out Campaign, as I consider many of them to be too aggressive to otherwise normal people who just happen to believe in a sky fairy. However, in this case I think the value of a worldwide Facebook atheist awareness campaign outweighs any differences I may have. So those who know me on Facebook can see that my profile picture is now showing the scarlet letter in support of the campaign.
Perhaps this will put paid to the oft-quoted fallacy that atheists are a tiny but vocal minority.
I hope you’ll consider joining the campaign, and look forward to a week of increasing the general public’s awareness of atheists and atheism by showing that:
- It’s okay to be atheist
- It’s okay to let others know you’re atheist
- We’re not all aggressive iconoclasts
- We don’t hate everyone
- We’re not all “angry at God” or “punishing God” for something
- Not all of us reached this point after a traumatic event
- Not all of us insist your unexplained events are hallucination or mental illness
For most of us, atheism is simply a logical process held up to the light and examined critically.