Freedom of Existence

Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and science instead of authority, tradition, or other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena. This freedom of thought is vital to being free from the authority of people that claim to speak for the first cause of the universe. Such authority may sound legitimate, but so might the authority of a pedophile coming up to a child saying their father sent him to pick them up. The unsuspecting child might do what this person says because they think they have the authority of their father, even though the pedophile doesn’t know their father at all. If the authority of the first cause of the universe were truly legitimate, then I firmly believe we would never hear a single disgusting news story about a pedophile religious leader. Human authorities don’t tolerate such behavior, so why would the legitimate first cause of the universe allow such a person to speak for them?

Think: What authority does any being have over us if we are independent individuals with our own existence?

I only know with certainty that my parents created me and they no longer have any authority over me as an independent adult unless I choose to follow their requests. The only authority over our being is the authorities we allow, such as allowing the authority of a good and just society since it’s in our best interest to allow their authority within reason. No authority is absolute and unquestionable even when we choose to allow an authority to govern our actions. We should live our lives with the same freedom of thought and freedom of will that we have from our parents after we’ve grown up and moved away from their support. This type of freethought and freedom of existence is the true nature of human existence.

Some religions claim a creator of the universe gave us the gift our existence along with a free will to decide how we live our lives. This is despite the fact that an omnipotent being would have power over everything and would already know all of our choices. Free will is only an illusion based on our lack of omnipotence if there is an omnipotent being that knows it all. Alternatively, the first cause of the universe could lack omnipotence and only created the environment that led to our existence. That type of first cause may not know or care that we developed in this little corner of the universe. We would have free will from such a creator because it didn’t directly create us.

Yet, religious people come to us like the pedophile to the child to tell us our father sent them. They want to tell us how we must live according to our father. I’m certain they don’t actually know any of my fathers and I do possess freedom in my existence. If I’m wrong, and there actually is an omnipotent and omniscient first cause for the universe, then it doesn’t matter what I think about anything. An omniscient being already knows all of time so all of our thoughts are predetermined and believing only time can tell us what will come is only an illusion. If there is an omnipotent being then it controls and sets everything into being to produce the very moment that I think this. I actually think this is not true or the omnipotent and omniscient being that caused my existence made me think this is not true. In which case, an omnipotent first cause created all unbelievers.

Shock and Awe: A Former Christian Ponders the Cosmos

This is an excellent celebration of human life as it exists in the cosmos from someone that woke up from the fantasy that shrouded the mind of a religious believer.

Recently, I’ve been wrestling with the perplexing realization that since leaving the Christian faith, I see the planet around me and the vast universe in which it moves with a far greater sense of awe and majesty than I ever perceived it as a believer. I took an informal poll of friends whose life-trajectories matched my own, and found that every one of them felt exactly the same way. For myself, and for many of the deconverted, the awe we feel now, having left the faith, is far greater, far more wondrous, far more intoxicating and euphoric than anything we ever felt as believers. But why?

Agnosticism: Making the World We Want

Courtesy of Atheist Revolution

I agree with vjack that Bertrand Russell “captured one of the most inspiring and intimidating aspects of atheism [also agnosticism and freethought]: it is up to us to make the world in which we want to live.”

vjack continues with:

Superstitious belief has done its share of damage, but we can improve through the pursuit of reason. Organized religion has certainly caused considerable harm, but we can help to hasten its demise and reverse much of the harm it has caused. Nobody would ever suggest this will be easy; it may take generations. The question for each of us to ponder is how we will contribute.

My view of religions in general is that the harm they cause is the harm of specific individuals. They cause harm with their application of religion to others instead of keeping its impact to themselves. It’s not an inherent characteristic of the religions and we give religion too much credit to say it causes violence. If it did, then violence is a characteristic of any work of fiction or thought.

My thoughts toward religious beliefs is to think of them the same way as fans of any other fiction. Star Wars fans, Trekkies, and any other super fan of a fictional reality sometimes shroud their lives in that fiction. What they believe about that fiction could even impact how they treat others and an irrational result of any fiction could be some very bad behavior towards others, particularly people that don’t think the same way. However, do you blame the fiction and the beliefs for this or do you blame the person? Should we also hasten the “demise” of those other fictions because their fans might turn into fanatics and kill people in the name of the dark side? When do we start the book burning to save us from all fictions? This is why I blame the person and not the gun, or in this case, the belief. Firmly attack the fanaticism and not the theism, otherwise the non-violent theists will rightfully think you’re attacking them for simply believing in their fiction.

I believe in the separation of church and state. I also think religion shouldn’t be considered a public “harm” as long as that separation is defended and religion remains the activity of individuals. I don’t believe anyone should try to stop religious beliefs or push for everyone to be free from religion since it’s a part of our human freedom to believe in any fictions we want. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion should both be a personal choice as a part of making this the world we want.

However, this doesn’t mean we are free from criticism of our beliefs. Everyone should know that other people have the right to not share in their beliefs and do see them as fictional. Even the religious think the non-religious believe in a fictional view of a universe without gods. I don’t advocate for the demise of religion and the religious shouldn’t advocate for the demise of freethought. I don’t care what anyone else believes or puts their faith in as long as everyone can admit their supernatural beliefs or disbeliefs aren’t equivalent to knowledge and it’s valid for others to not believe as they do because of this.

My favored tactic for the public square is equal access (all belief and non-belief displays for the holidays) instead of trying to suppress and deny the majority religion (remove Christian displays). Fighting for the demise of religion is like fighting for the demise of “traditional marriage” in the name of supporting gay marriage. Can’t we each have our own way of life and our individual freedoms?

This would be the world I would want. Religious people with their personal freedom of religion AND an acknowledgement of the validity of everyone else to have the same freedoms including a personal freedom FROM religion. This is all an “atheist revolution” should ever strive for because when you attack someone else’s freedoms to think and believe as they want then they will respond in kind. We need freedom for all for there to be true peace for this subject.

Live A Good Life – Marcus Aurelius

Here’s a more logical view of Pascal’s Wager that I can actually agree with:

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Marcus Aurelius

The other problem I always see with Pascal’s Wager is the assumption that there is only one right choice for deity belief and you would be able to make that right choice when you follow Pascal’s Wager. I’d add to the line of “if there are gods, but unjust” and say that we’re all screwed anyway in that case and you couldn’t really hope to know how to do right for such gods.