Take the right turn on life’s highway

My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

Gartner said that his father retired when he was 70, and “nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with my mother to St. Augustin’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the two parish priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests ‘Father Fast’ and ‘Father Slow.'”

A lovely, sentimental story about Gartner’s father, but what caught my attention was what the father once said to Gartner, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?” Well, here it comes folks, a confirmation of my three rights make a left. His father’s secret was: “No left turns.”

Take the right turn on life’s highway

I also use tactics such as making 3 rights to make a left. It is a certain mindset to try to work with the flow instead of against it and it works for so many things more than just traffic.

I sometimes search the news for something to blog about and this article showed up because of the agnostic reference. However, this Agnostic shares the same trait of trying to flow with our environment as I have. Is this a possible common trait of those that are accepting of all they do not know? Are our Atheist and theistic friends more rebellious towards the universe?

Battle Over ‘Under God’ Continues – Christian Newswire

?For more than 50 years the Pledge has included two words that sum up the most basic element of our nation?s political philosophy: we are a free people because our rights come from a source that is higher than the State, and to which the State is ultimately accountable. In short, we are one nation ?under God,?? said Kevin (Seamus) Hasson, president and founder of The Becket Fund.

“Saying under God in the pledge is like Jefferson saying ?endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,? in the Declaration of Independence. And reciting the Declaration of Independence cannot violate the constitution,” Hasson said.

The Knights of Columbus first added the words to the Pledge in 1951 and petitioned Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower to add ?under God? to the official version of the Pledge. The new version was formally adopted in 1954 and schoolchildren and civic-minded citizens have been reciting it that way ever since.

Battle Over ‘Under God’ Continues – Christian Newswire

That’s a few more words on the “Under God” debate that I just have to answer. First, the statement that our rights come from a source higher than the State. That is completely false. This is a government of “we the people” that provides rights “to ourselves” and “do ordain and establish this Constitution”. To contend the State is ultimately accountable to God is to say that I am, which is a violation of my freedom of religion. We are by no means, one nation under God.

Second, the Declaration of Independence has no bearing on our government and current rights. We weren’t founded as a nation on that document so its mention of “their Creator” has nothing to do with the legality of claiming this is one nation under God. “Their Creator” is also more individualistic instead of the more definite and definitive “God”.

Yes, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, was behind adding the words in 1951. Does that sound like there was a nonreligious, inclusive motive for this? Does it sound like such a long tradition that we invoke the founding fathers to defend its use? Finally, I object to the notion that “civic-minded” citizens recite it that way. That implies that since I object to saying the country I love is “under God” that I am not a good citizen. It is this kind of exclusionary language and thought that should not be a part of a pledge to a country that stands for inclusion and freedom.

E Pluribus Unum

Atheist Attacks ‘In God We Trust’

“Federal lawmakers authorized a reference to God on a 2-cent piece in 1864, according to the Associated Press. Congress passed a law that required all U.S. currency to bear the words ?In God We Trust? in 1955.?

Michael Newdow, Sacramento doctor atheist, wants a totally secularized America. Therefore ?In God We Trust? must go.

?Newdow?s ?In God We Trust? case claimed that the government was ?excluding people who don?t believe in God,? and violating the constitutional principle of a separation between church and state.?

Once again, the atheists and secularists don?t get the freedom of religion as guaranteed in the First Amendment. How many times does that basic lesson need to be repeated throughout the country before so-called intelligent persons get the drift?

There is a God. He is watching and taking.

God is God; therefore, when God has been pushed over His patience line, He will act according to His eternal wisdom. In the meantime, those who are wise will stand alongside the God who has the last word in all matters planetary.

Atheist Attacks ‘In God We Trust’ by Grant Swank

It sure does take a long time to fight the legality of something. Yes, Mr. Swank, freedom of religion is guaranteed. Does In God We Trust speak for the Buddhist, or truly to the Muslim? It definitely does not speak for me. What drift am I supposed to get from this? I see. Your next sentence says “there is a God.” No sir; there is not.

This is the people’s government and our motto should reflect it. It did reflect that very well before Eisenhower and his religiousness in 1955 made it law that “In God We Trust.” But we do not all trust in “God” and the specific judeo-christian God that that implies.

The motto should be restored to E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One. That is the true American spirit and should be restored as the motto of this country if it is to survive as the embodiment of freedom and true freedom of religious thought and expression. In God you may trust, but WE do not.

Being an Atheist in America Isn’t Easy – Newsweek

Here are some more musings of nonbelief from some recent authors I should check out, even though the author of the article has a religious bias. Here are the bits I found interesting:

“Tell a devout Christian … that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible,” Harris writes, “and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.” He asks: How can anyone believe in a benevolent and omnipotent God who permits a tsunami to swallow 180,000 innocent people in a few hours? How does it advance our understanding of the universe to suppose that it was created by a supernatural being who communicates only through the one-way process of revelation?

These authors have no geopolitical strategy to advance; they’re interested in the metaphysics of belief, not the politics of the First Amendment. It’s the idea of putting trust in God they object to, not the motto on the nickel. This sets them apart from America’s best-known atheist activist, the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, a controversial eccentric who won a landmark lawsuit against mandatory classroom prayers in 1963 and went on to found the group now called American Atheists. When a chaplain came to her hospital room once and asked what he could do for her, she notoriously replied, “Drop dead.” Dawkins, an urbane Oxfordian, would regard that as appalling manners. “I have no problem with people wishing me a Happy Christmas,” he says, expressing puzzlement over the passions provoked in America by the question of how store clerks greet customers.

But Dawkins attempts to show how the highest of human impulses, such as empathy, charity and pity, could have evolved by the same mechanism of natural selection that created the thumb. Biologists understand that the driving force in evolution is the survival and propagation of our genes. They may impel us to instinctive acts of goodness, Dawkins writes, even when it seems counterproductive to our own interests?say, by risking our life to save someone else. Evolutionary psychology can explain how selfless behavior might have evolved. The recipient may be a blood relation who carries some of our own genes. Or our acts may earn us future gratitude, or a reputation for bravery that makes us more desirable as mates. Of course, the essence of the moral law is that it applies even to strangers. Missionaries who devote themselves to saving the lives of Third World peasants have no reasonable expectation of being repaid in this world. But, Dawkins goes on, the impulse for generosity must have evolved while humans lived in small bands in which almost everyone was related, so that goodness became the default human aspiration. This is a rebuke not merely to believers who insist that God must be the source of all goodness?but equally to the 19th-century atheism of Nietzsche, who assumed that the death of God meant the end of conventional morality.

But Dawkins, brilliant as he is, overlooks something any storefront Baptist preacher might have told him. “If there is no God, why be good?” he asks rhetorically, and responds: “Do you really mean the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward? That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up.” That’s clever. But millions of Christians and Muslims believe that it was precisely God who turned them away from a life of immorality. Dawkins, of course, thinks they are deluding themselves. He is correct that the social utility of religion doesn’t prove anything about the existence of God. But for all his erudition, he seems not to have spent much time among ordinary Christians, who could have told him what God has meant to them.

Being an Atheist in America Isn’t Easy – Newsweek Society – MSNBC.com

What God means to them? The author is apparently a believer that thinks morality only exists because we fear God’s punishment. He can’t present the authors’ works without throwing in a counter to it. He just can’t accept that we determine our good by what is good for society and our individual roles in that society. He closes the article with the following thought that should be a little scary for everyone:

If Dawkins, Dennett and Harris are right, the five-century-long competition between science and religion is sharpening. People are choosing sides. And when that happens, people get hurt.

Yes people, religions kill…

Agnosticism as offshoot of Atheism?

A reader emailed disagreeing with Bertrand Russell’s view of the difference between Agnostics and Atheists that you find on the Answers page of this site. He goes on to say that Agnosticism is the “Atheistic mormonism” and is an offshoot of Atheism. His main objection appeared to be Russell’s view that Atheists disbelieve in God as a positive rejection based upon knowledge.

My response was that he was arguing with Russell’s quote even though he directed to rebuttal to this site. Russell’s writings are presented as historical ponderings of Agnosticism. There is no bible or authoritative source to tell anyone what is exactly right or wrong concerning what anyone may think Agnosticism is or isn’t.

In my view, Agnosticism is not the same as Atheism even though they share the same bottom line that neither believes in the gods of the theists. Atheism is the lack of a belief in gods and makes no real statements about a natural creation. Agnosticism is a broader acknowledgement of the ignorance of mankind concerning the creation of the universe and our place or purpose in it. It is a belief that we have no true way of knowing anything that may be supernatural (like a creator of our universe) because we are natural. This lack of knowledge would leave the possibility (slim as it could be) that the Christian God or something similar does actually exist. But this is the same kind of possibility to me that unicorns, winged horses, or other mythical creatures exist on the planet. I haven’t explored the entire planet to prove they’re not there, but it doesn’t make sense to me that they would exist even though some people have imagined them and written about them in books.

Agnosticism is still relatively young for humanity and only became a word in 1869. Thomas Huxley picked it over the term atheist because he lumped atheism in with a group of “-ists” that believes they have the answers to questions of existence in the positive or negative sense:

“When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain “gnosis,”?had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble.”

Huxley did not say he had any view of his belief as an offshoot or derivative of Atheism. He simply lumped Atheism in the lists of things he was not. He also took the view that Atheism had solved the problem of existence as a positive rejection of the supernatural.

Definitions of atheism from dictionary.com are 1) Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods 2) The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

The reader that wrote me replied to my first response to say that this site should not state that Atheists have a positive denial for the existence of gods. It sounded like he was trying to say that the definitions for Agnosticism at this site is really Atheism and that Agnosticism is nothing unique or separate from Atheism.

If Atheists do not “believe that there is no god” then why do our definitions of it say that it is a positive denial? Here we arrive at the various arguments of strong versus weak Atheism as well as Agnosticism. I think the weak versions of both are the true fence sitters and source of confusion here. A weak Atheist should commit to the idea that their belief is a belief that no gods or supernatural creators exists. If you are truly “without theism” then you reject the whole notion of it, correct? Likewise, a weak Agnostic should commit to the idea that we cannot truly know or understand anything of the supernatural. This should mean that you can’t call something God or creator in any sense of knowing such things enough to put a name to it. Creation and our “creator” is unknown and undefined.

Atheists have a belief in the lack of existence of a type of definied entity, namely supernatural creators defined by mankind. All gods that Atheists reject or simply do not believe in are supernatural creators. Agnostics do not reject the idea 100% that a supernatural creator does not exist, though we tend to agree more with the Atheist than the theist on the matter of gods as defined by mankind.

Here is a simple summing up: Atheists view the universe as existing naturally, Agnostics view its existence as being beyond our understanding. The Christian God and all its stories is silly to both views. Atheists reject that God on a belief that it is wrong and that an intelligent creator doesn’t make sense. Agnostics reject that God on belief that humanity can’t have that kind of information about creation or our creator.

I do not believe that Agnosticism is necessarily an offshoot of Atheism because that implies that it is a variation of a parent belief. I prefer to look at them each as their own specific view of existence. They are compatible in their lack of belief in theism, but they are not the same view with the same conclusion.