National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 5th

May 4, 2011

Saskatoon Freethinkers (aka CFI-Saskatoon) will be supporting the National Day of Reason on Thursday instead. Our group has decided to repeat last year’s blood drive which will help our group meet our pledge as a Partner for Life. This means we’ll be doing something useful with our time instead of wasting it on prayers. Research has demonstrated that they have little real-world effect, and sometimes makes things worse.

What are you going to do to celebrate the Day of Reason?

EDIT: 12:43 pm Prayer can’t even stop crime!

in late 2010, after a cost-cutting proposal led to a showdown with the local police union, Newark Mayor Corey Booker fired 167 city police officers. The results are unsurprising. By mid 2011, reports CBS, murders were up 71%, shootings up 29%, and auto theft up 39%. The magical results of Pray For Newark’s prayer-based crime fighting effort seemed to suddenly evaporate.



atheism “unnatural” ?

April 12, 2011

I was poking around the search engine terms that led to blog hits yesterday and came across this one.

julie exline atheism unnatural has to be learned

I had to look up who that was. She’s the author of a study that supposedly concluded that atheists hate god. ERV made a good point about the media coverage of this study (lack of apostrophes all his fault, not mine. Tsk.):

considering the fact no one has linked to it, and I cant find it anywhere online, lets be honest. It was opinions on second hand opinions using third hand opinions.

High-five there, traditional media!

I didn’t find it online either, but I found the abstract via a database called Infotrac (specifically in General OneFile, which is part of it) that I can access through my library even from home. (breaks added):

Many people see themselves as being in a relationship with God and see this bond as comforting. Yet, perceived relationships with God also carry the potential for experiencing anger toward God, as shown here in studies with the U.S. population (Study 1), undergraduates (Studies 2 and 3), bereaved individuals (Study 4), and cancer survivors (Study 5).

These studies addressed 3 fundamental issues regarding anger toward God: perceptions and attributions that predict anger toward God, its prevalence, and its associations with adjustment. Social-cognitive predictors of anger toward God paralleled predictors of interpersonal anger and included holding God responsible for severe harm, attributions of cruelty, difficulty finding meaning, and seeing oneself as a victim.

Anger toward God was frequently reported in response to negative events, although positive feelings predominated. Anger and positive feelings toward God showed moderate negative associations. Religiosity and age correlated negatively with anger toward God. Reports of anger toward God were slightly lower among Protestants and African Americans in comparison with other groups (Study 1).

Some atheists and agnostics reported anger involving God, particularly on measures emphasizing past experiences (Study 2) and images of a hypothetical God (Study 3). Anger toward God was associated with poorer adjustment to bereavement (Study 4) and cancer (Study 5), particularly when anger remained unresolved over a 1-year period (Study 5).

Taken together, these studies suggest that anger toward God is an important dimension of religious and spiritual experience, one that is measurable, widespread, and related to adjustment across various contexts and populations.

And if you do want to read the whole thing, here’s what to ask for at your library. They’ll have the resources to find you a copy if they don’t subscribe to the journal itself:

Exline, Julie J., et al. “Anger toward God: social-cognitive predictors, prevalence, and links with adjustment to bereavement and cancer.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100.1 (2011): 129+.

Exline has two web-based studies running now for those interested in doing them.

One study involves reflecting on your own personal experiences and beliefs involving God and suffering (including anger toward God). Another study allows you to share your own ideas and suggestions about ways to help people deal with anger toward God.

Tell them to consider becoming atheists. Since atheism requires rejecting the notion that gods exist, an atheist can’t hate god. Hating god means agreeing to accept the “fact” that a god exists and thus is in a position to be hated. I think a lot of atheists would say they hate the idea of gods, not actual gods. They’re hating the ideologies, not some undefinable being that nobody seems to really agree about anyway. Going by the the abstract, it seems Exline would concede that’s the case.

So let’s get back to the search itself. The fact of the matter is that we’re all born atheist. We have no beliefs at all until our parents start instilling some. Parents who want to raise their children from birth with the notion of a god overlooking things are going to tell their kids all kinds of crap about this being and the kids are going to swallow it whole. Any sensible skeptical questions they may have will be deftly handled by their “we know better, trust us” parents. Atheism is our true, natural state of being. God beliefs are what need to be unlearned — especially in cases where parents used the notion of god to punish children into feeling guilty for natural sexual urges, or justified abuse because they think their kids are sinners deserving of it.

How does that lead to well-adjusted adulthood? It didn’t help their parents, after all. They compound the problem by creating another generation conditioned to think the same way and the guilt and abuse rages on.

I totally get why god-belief in general can be a comfort in troubled times. I just think more believers should see the logic behind rejecting all of that in favour of a life devoid of supernatural meddling. Why should anyone approve of and support a god that would allow parents to do those things to their children? Why would any loving, caring god desire or require that kind of malicious trickery in order to create more believers? That whole belief system is flawed and problematic.

One of the first beliefs religious people ought to unlearn is that goodness can only come from god. That’s clearly wrong and atheists the world over live each day proving that it’s wrong, yet the belief lingers and proliferates. What more can be done to combat that notion? Maybe atheist groups need to get into the mainstream news even more than they are now, not just with “controversial” billboards but food drives and charity work and be vocal about making a difference as atheists.

Which reminds me, CFI-Saskatoon has a blood drive scheduled on May 6 in support of the Day of Reason, which runs the same day to counter the National Day of Prayer. Which one of those gets the most headlines? At some point I hope Reason is the one that comes out ahead.

It’s (inter)National Day of Reason

May 6, 2010

To celebrate, some quotes:

Reasoning is a robust source of hope in a world darkened by murky deeds. – Economist Amartya Sen

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow. – Essayist Anais Nin

Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he’s been given. But up to now he hasn’t been a creator, only a destroyer. Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life’s become extinct, the climate’s ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day. – Author Anton Chekov (from his 1897 novel, Uncle Vanya)

There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings. – Journalist Dorothy Thompson

There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California. – Environmentalist Edward Abbey

Reason guides our attempt to understand the world about us. Both reason and compassion guide our efforts to apply that knowledge ethically, to understand other people, and have ethical relationships with other people. – Humanist and author Molleen Matsumura

Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. – Thomas Jefferson

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. – Ibid