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Atheism is the true embrace of reality - Comments

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 1 by irate_atheist

Another high quality piece.

It really doesn't come any better than this.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 14:39:18 UTC | #635374

tommcc's Avatar Comment 2 by tommcc

Nice piece well written, an example of stating the obvious in clear simple language, devoid of word salad and semantic soup. Sophisticated theologians take note.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:05:52 UTC | #635392

holysmokes's Avatar Comment 3 by holysmokes

That was a great "First Lesson" Paula! Keep educating them until they see the light .....errrr, get the idea. :o)

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:11:36 UTC | #635394

superbeanson's Avatar Comment 4 by superbeanson

Persuasive writing

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:23:09 UTC | #635408

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 5 by chawinwords

This intelligent and reasonable argument brings to mind a continuing phenomenon about humans and religions. Using two examples, out of countless thousands, I can use two American religious cons: David Koresh and James Jones. We need to ask ourselves why so many quite ordinary humans followed these two men to their deaths, with emphasis on the word followed. What is internal in human brains that cause this phenomenon -- what chemical firing mechanism causes such insanity. Then too, the willingness to blindly follow comes in degrees. Is it magic? Is it sorcery? Is it a disease? Why does it effect billions? I suppose there may be a genetic virus, passed down from generation to generation, and occasionally passed from one innocent to another through the medium of language in the hands of a charismatic charlatan, the masters of the con. Then the most dangerous of all, the con who comes to believe in his/her own con, without reservation, without skepticism. Heck, even the man who recently and idiotically predicted the rapture of the conned, sincerely believed in his own con. It is just plain stupid! My grandmother told her grandchildren that ignorance was not so bad, that it could be cured with education and hard work -- but, stupidity, becoming incapable of changing or learning, can only be cured with a 45 (caliber).

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:27:58 UTC | #635413

Aztek's Avatar Comment 6 by Aztek

Bravo, Paula. Bravo.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:28:48 UTC | #635414

healthphysicist's Avatar Comment 7 by healthphysicist

It is well done, but I also find a bit of an error.

Atheism is NOT the true embrace of reality.

Scientific reasoning (or critical thinking) is.

And that results in atheism.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:38:04 UTC | #635423

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 8 by quarecuss

So good to see this kind of recent flowering of atheism in an Irish context. The Hibernia Times with Paula Kirby on board hard on the heels of the atheist conference in Dublin!
The "land of saints and scholars" becoming a beacon of critical thinking?
"saving civilization" ... again?

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:38:53 UTC | #635424

skiles1's Avatar Comment 9 by skiles1

I just read this article from a link provided on Why Evolution Is True. -Spectacular to hear more female atheist voices.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:55:52 UTC | #635447

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 10 by Tryphon Tournesol

..a chilling insight into the (mechanisms of) the faithful mind. Paula, thank you for writing this, not in the least for making yourself a case study. What bravery!

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 16:39:21 UTC | #635482

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 11 by crookedshoes

Paula, Your piece made me put my guitar down (gasp) and read with my full attention. Could not agree more and was glad to read the comments at the bottom and find them all supportive. Great stuff.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 17:51:16 UTC | #635527

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 12 by Mr DArcy

As usual Paula puts it clearly, succinctly and with eloquence. Alright, the 'true embrace of reality' may not result from atheism, - but it bloody sure helps!

When Paula is back in Inverness, she can perhaps help to make the Wee Free even wee-er.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 19:13:36 UTC | #635570

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 13 by Stonyground

I am rapidly becoming a big fan of Paula Kirby, whenever I see that there is one of her posts up I always look forward to reading it. Good to see that the comments seem to be supportive too. I always feel a bit of a duty to read comments that are in neutral territory before coming back here for some sanity. Usually the neutral threads descend very quickly into pointless arguments with theists posting arguments that have been debunked a million times before and atheists explaining to them yet again why they are wrong. glad to see that this has not happened so far.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 20:19:44 UTC | #635608

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 14 by Stafford Gordon

It's late, so I'll save this for the morning.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 21:13:09 UTC | #635632

locutus7's Avatar Comment 15 by locutus7

Nicely said, Paula.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 21:16:00 UTC | #635636

mmurray's Avatar Comment 16 by mmurray

Very nice. Definite candidate for the Foundation Chair of Atheology at NCHUM.


Tue, 07 Jun 2011 22:28:46 UTC | #635665

Mariner's Avatar Comment 17 by Mariner

This is a very good article and worthy of respect. However, (apologies to Stonyground for proceeding as he/she hoped no-one would) the many conflicting and apparently paradoxical viewpoints that exist within the realm of Christianity do not necessarily have to lead to the conclusion that they are all wrong.

If you study the history of Christian thinking - theologically, morally and structurally - from the initial establishment of the Christian Church in the 1st century you can see that a) there is a single church i.e. the Catholic Church, that has maintained consistency in what it says is the truth about God, humanity and salvation (whether the individuals within that church have chosen to accept those truths, or maintain the required behaviour and practices that arise from them or not) and b) that each of the contradictions mentioned in the article have arisen at specific points in history because people have departed from the one church and formed another church or movement within that church.

If you accept the principle ideas that Christianity presents about God, creation and the story of humanity then it is reasonable to accept that a) as God's message is about a spiritual and moral reality that just is then the establishment of one church to maintain that truth would be necessary to combat the inevitable temptations to reinterpret and change things in accordance with people's own comfort and perception (which by consequence divorces what they now say is true from the actual truth) and b) that as that reality requires people to accept things they cannot see and change their behaviour in ways they may find difficult, that there will be those regularly taking what they like about the original message, ditching what they don't and so starting all over again on their own.

I totally agree that the consequence of this constant separation and multiplication of viewpoints within Christianity is an obstacle to its credibility, but propose that this is a matter of perception only. If there was no church that had been consistent in its teaching then it would be case closed, but as there is one church that has maintained that consistency (and you could reasonably argue that this consistency is present in much of the Orthodox Christian Church and to a lesser extent in some movements within the main Protestant churches too) then you cannot logically conclude that the Christian God does not exist. Just because there inconsistency in some, does not mean there is inconsistency overall.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 23:02:40 UTC | #635684

Sofa King Cool's Avatar Comment 18 by Sofa King Cool

"An atheist life, well lived, leads to the only kind of afterlife there is any evidence for whatsoever: the immortality of living on in the fond memories of those who loved us."

Just beautiful. With all the love that one can receive from family and friends i still can't see why some people need more than that.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 23:12:52 UTC | #635688

jac12358's Avatar Comment 19 by jac12358

Great article, yes, I agree. But like those who dislike the term "atheist"* I think the term is unfortunate in how it defines us as being against an unproven claim, rather than FOR something.

  • (The term "agnostic" is criticized as wishy-washy fence-sitting hedge-betting, "ignostic" - my favorite - is routinely ignored as an excellent alternative whenever I mention it, "skeptic" sounds like you go around doubting everything as a default mode, and are a pessimist, "bright" sounds too snobby and has failed to catch on, and "realist" "scientist" "reason-ist?" etc. aren't as satisfying.)
  • It is fun to use the "anti-stamp-collector" analogy, though that has been effectively mocked and supported.

    Still, to define oneself as an atheist is to by definition constantly remind oneself and others that, whatever else you might be FOR, you are first and foremost AGAINST religion. Were it not for the delusion of religion, atheists would have no name - or another name. What if what we had to deny the existence of was the divine essence of snot - would we then be obliged to adopt the term a-snottists but insist it really meant we were just a bunch of reasonable folk who required evidence and liked the scientific method?

    I'm also a nice guy, but I don't define myself as an aterrorist or an anti-wife-beater. How can we wean ourselves of this religious term?

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 23:34:22 UTC | #635706

    Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 20 by Tyler Durden

    Comment 17 by Mariner :

    I totally agree that the consequence of this constant separation and multiplication of viewpoints within Christianity is an obstacle to its credibility...

    That, and the complete and utter lack of evidence for any and all assertions.

    but propose that this is a matter of perception only.

    Yes, but sometimes perception is reality.

    If there was no church that had been consistent in its teaching then it would be case closed, but as there is one church that has maintained that consistency... then you cannot logically conclude that the Christian God does not exist.

    Is this the same church that taught the geocentric model of our solar system? Or burned heretics at the stake? While both Pope Innocent VIII and Pope Urban VIII accepted slavery as legitimate.

    And what exactly is the church's view on mass in Latin? Or Sunday worship? Or gluten-free Eucharist? Hardly consistent.

    We can conclude that the Christian God does not exist due to the lack of actual evidence.

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 00:20:33 UTC | #635719

    Vicktor's Avatar Comment 21 by Vicktor

    This is an excellent article. I hope a lot of Muslims read it.

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 04:17:16 UTC | #635765

    kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 22 by kaiserkriss

    Thanks for writing this Paula- excellent! You have put into writing an argument I've had with a Roman Catholic colleague who switched to another brand of the 38,000 variations of Christianity after the recent revelations of the covering up of pedophilia at the highest levels. Keep up the good work.jcw

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 04:26:17 UTC | #635769

    Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 23 by Laurie Fraser

    Another goodie from Paula! Although some may say that the article was simplistic, it needs to be pointed out that many people who have not been exposed to the arguments of atheism (and this may include many readers of the Hibernian) would benefit from a first encounter such as this. If I were to present arguments for atheism to a "first-time" audience, I'd probably start from somewhere like this (if I could ever write as well as Paula.)

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 07:07:15 UTC | #635798

    Karen Hill Anton's Avatar Comment 24 by Karen Hill Anton

    One of the best things I like about your writing, Paula, is that as you are a former devout Christian, it carries such credibility. I almost always have a good friend (who has inexplicably given over his brain to Jehovah Witnesses) in mind who I want to share it with ... and I will.

    Many thanks again.


    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 07:41:21 UTC | #635806

    Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 25 by Stafford Gordon

    Excellent, as usual. But I would say so, since it tallies with my world view; as I suspected it would. So although I enjoyed reading the article, I personally learnt nothing from it; smart arse that I am.

    This material is obviously welcome here, but would be of much more benefit to those wandering around in the mists of religion. It could be for someone like the warmth of the sun clearing the air, making it possible for them to see the horizon.

    I think the place for this and other of this author's writings is in the likes of the church times.

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 09:12:54 UTC | #635832

    Vicktor's Avatar Comment 26 by Vicktor

    Comment 24 by Karen Hill Anton

    Not only that. Paula is also a relatively "young" atheist (since 2003), which, coupled with her literary skills, gives her a unique and refreshing woman-child point of view on the subject as compared to some of the older, calcified, male atheists.

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 10:11:53 UTC | #635847

    ghost of numf-el's Avatar Comment 27 by ghost of numf-el

    Superb article once again Paula. Thank you.

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 11:27:40 UTC | #635877

    SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 28 by SaganTheCat

    Paula rules

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 13:43:08 UTC | #635935

    Dave H's Avatar Comment 29 by Dave H

    Paula, you are a great thinker and writer.

    You've hit the nail on the head, as usual. I recall that many of the creationists I've had discussions with over the years have explicitly claimed to absolutely "know" for sure 100% that they are going to heaven. And I remember telling them that their "knowledge" was not fact but was only their opinion. I also remember that they would often repeat the claim several times in the same discussion, and I repeated the same rebuttal every time until they eventually got the message and stopped saying it.

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 13:53:36 UTC | #635940

    Emmeline's Avatar Comment 30 by Emmeline

    Another ACE from Paula.

    She always says what's in my head but I could never convert it into such succinct and eloquent prose. She has such a talent for nailing the issue beautifully and I'm really grateful she's out there doing it for people like me who don't have that ability to express their thoughts with such precision and elegance. I used to "know" God too so I completely understand this article.

    Well done again Paula and keep it up!

    Wed, 08 Jun 2011 17:55:27 UTC | #636041