Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller fame explains strong atheism as an ideology. It is quite funky. The only point I don't cuddle up to with a licentious gentleness not seen enough on this Earth is that there's any need to actively believe God does not exist to enjoy reality. It is enough for me to recognise that He cannot in any foreseeable future be suggested to exist by empirical experimentation. I think some models of God could in principle exist, but pending the downfall of science as a useful methodology, using Him as an explanation for a natural phenomena is an added and untestable hypothesis; a hindrance to understanding clung to for ideological reasons. Anyone therefore using Him as a justification for any action worries me somewhat, that they must respond to the outside world by relying on a persona which they or others have almost certainly made up.
The universe is a remarkable and glorious thing, and there are people who are good, kind, reasonable and intelligent. Understanding why people act kindly; the rationale behind their behaviour, can make their actions all the more wonderful, allows us to understand how and why they are good, allowing them to serve as an inspiration. Understanding the world and its horrendously complex intricacies only makes it all the more wondrous and fascinating. For instance male giant squid mate by impaling the tentacles of females and injecting them - and often, in their frenzy, themselves and other males - with packets of semen. Science!
There are bad parts to the world, too, and I think it is most appropriate to begin to deal with those parts with understanding them to the best degree that mankind can. It is certainly preferable to the alternatives, such as hiding from them or assigning to them mystical, ineffable properties.
The Raving Atheist brings us news of the insidious hatred within a faith-based charity. If people use their religion in order to serve the greater good of humanity, then all the more power to them, though I wish people were able to acknowledge that they simply enjoy helping others. Events like these serve as a reminder that religion, even in a form often associated with the alleviation of suffering for the downtrodden, can always serve as a vehicle for prejudice. Religious people are still people, after all.
I get the impression that this opening of a gate between Egypt and Palestine marks something joyful for Palestinians and Israelis, but am delightfully ignorant about the whole mess. I've been loosely following the Israel-Palestinian conflict for a while, but remain completely baffled and overwhelmed by the duelling political stances of journalists and pundits.
Have I mentioned how much I love Sadly, No!? Deutschland uber alles!
Lastly, I would like to take the time to remind certain idiots that Christmas was made a federal holiday in 1870, precisely because the founding fathers were entirely in favour of the vile antiChristian nonsense that is wishing other people a happy holiday. Bill O'Reilly is anti-American.
(Thanks to The Evangelical Atheist for Penn's ridiculously good article, and Sadly, No!, for sharing Kaye Grogan with the world.)
-The Rev. Schmitt.