Atheist Climber Prominent People Project

September 24, 2010 § 7 Comments

Atheist Climber Blog is turning One year old on October 10! Yay! And I remember like yesterday thinking “Do I have anything to write about? Will anyone care? Will anyone read it?” I just wish I had taken more baby photos!

Well you have all spoken to me by visiting and commenting on my blog. My measure of success has been reflected in the blog stats with over 60,000 page hits, over 100 subscribers, and more than 1500 comments for the 100+ articles and videos I have posted. This far surpasses my expectations and for that I thank you all.

To celebrate, I am in the process of interviewing a selection of prominent figures in humanism, atheism, science and critical thinking. Most of these will be in the form of written interviews, but who knows? I might, down the track, do some video or audio interviews too. This will be dependent on how these interviews are received by my readers.

I don’t want to say too much at this stage, but suffice to say, I already have confirmation from a few very prominent and important people who I’m sure you’d recognise. More information to come. So stay tuned!

The first interview will be published on Atheist Climber Blog’s first birthday, October 10, 2010. So come celebrate with me, and feed your brain with the words of some great thinkers.

Thanks again,
Atheist Climber

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Humanity, the spoiled child of the universe.

September 18, 2010 § 5 Comments

We are all born onto this Earth as the product of a mother and a father in a more-or-less helpless state. From the moment of birth we depend upon those around us to feed us and protect us from the ravages of the outside world. Unlike most other species on the planet who are born or hatched into situations that warrant that they are already on the move, a newly born human comes into the world as a completely dependent being, requiring the parents and extended families to be there for him or her. Our first moments on earth are bonding moments with our mothers, a time when we create ties that we hold onto for life. For most of us, our mothers, and to a lesser extent our fathers, are a symbol in our own lives of safety, caring, knowledge and guidance. Even into adulthood, we hold onto these bonds, for they are our introduction into the world. We are born at the center of our known universe. Parents care deeply for their children, would do anything in fact to protect them, even risking their own lives for the children to be safe. In the perfect situation, every need was provided for by our mothers and fathers, and if we asked nicely, our simple wishes could be granted. Humans need their parents and protectors, and we crave the unconditional love of our protectors well past the time when they are needed for our immediate survival. Our parents and carers are our immortal figures, always right, always there for us, and all-powerful. And they are also the deliverers of discipline and rules and guidelines for our lives.

Earth from the moon

Earth from the moon

This kind of unconditional love is soft-wired into our brains, and evolutionary advantage, which allows the brain and mind of a person to develop the complex and needed skills in early life such as speech and speech recognition, facial recognition, communication, and later motor skills like crawling, walking and digital manipulation of objects. Our societies grant us this privilege by providing us with a relatively safe place to rear our children. Most of us are not born into situations where imminent death looms in the grasses, at least, not any more.

As we grow up, our bonds to our parents weaken slightly, as we become more independent and self-reliant, but there is a part of us that still craves to be the focus of everything. We realise that our parents are simply people like ourselves, mortal, fallible and fragile. Some would say we all desire, somewhere in our psyches, to return to the infantile and helpless state, one where we are looked after and safe, with not a care in the world. As we extend our boundaries and our knowledge, our needs and wants become more complex, and we have to balance out our days in our schools, jobs, home life, social responsibilities etc. so the immediate need for parent-figures diminishes. Eventually, we pass this on to children of our own, and we become the carers and protectors of the next generation.

We know at an early age about death, and realise that we will each face death one day. Even our own parents, the ones who seemed invincible will too, one day, die. Quite a daunting idea. And in a child’s naive voice we will ask “But what comes after?” No matter how we mature we never seem to truly leave behind this need for a parental figure. We want the protection of something larger than ourselves, stronger than us, wiser and more powerful. This position is vacant in our lives, our parents being more like ourselves than we first conceived, so we have a tendency to fill this position, in our minds, with exactly what we miss from our childhood.

A creator, who by its divine hand, brought us (and everything else) into existence for us. A protector, old and wise, who knows everything. A provider, who miraculously brings to us everything we could possibly need. A disciplinarian, who will bring punishment upon us if we disobey. A friend who can see our deepest thoughts, and tell us that we are indeed special. A hand that is always there to guide in life, and help when times are tough. God is the ultimate parent-figure.

By this logic, if we are special, and cared for from above, and all is provided for us here on Earth, the logic follows that it must have been put here for us, and us alone. We are so special that God made all things bright and beautiful for humanity to enjoy, use and benefit from. Because God chose to give us life, it is our birthright to take and have all that we might want from this earth, for it is ours to take. And if we don’t get what we want, we ask, pester and request of God that we get what we want.

Once upon a time, there was the belief that the god or gods looked over all of us, the same gods for everyone. But our human conceit and self-importance has grown to the point where many believe that God is personalised, like the license plates on a car, to suit the wants and needs of an individual, as if to say that a single life is so important that God will be what you want it to be. So often people say things like “My god isn’t like that” or “The god I know is against that,” to match the intended outcome of the person saying it, like matching the personal god to the shoes that person is wearing. God is the ultimate accessory that no Prada handbag can match.

It seems that despite all the personal maturation that each person does in a lifetime, we as a species still struggle with being alone. The formative moments of our lives, where each one of us is the center of the known universe, carries on into adulthood in the form of creator-gods and all-powerful beings. And this carries with it the unfortunate side-effect of thinking that, because the Earth suits us so nicely then it must have been made for us. We have to realise that the inverse is true, that it is precisely because the Earth suits us so nicely that we exist at all. Humanity is the spoiled child of the universe, and we need to grow up.

The passage that lead me to write this blog is below, in Carl Sagan’s piece entitled “Consider Again that Pale Blue Dot”, a revisitation to the Pale Blue Dot from 1996.

“We seem to crave privilege, merited not by our works, but by our birth; by the mere fact that, say, we’re humans, and born on Earth. We might call it the anthropocentric, the human centred conceit. This conceit is brought close to culmination in the notion that we are created in God’s image. The creator and ruler of the entire universe looks just like me.

My! What a coincidence! How convenient and satisfying!”  – Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan – Consider Again that Pale Blue Dot

September 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

“We seem to crave privilege, merited not by our works, but by our birth; by the mere fact that, say, we’re humans, and born on Earth. We might call it the anthropocentric, the human centred conceit. This conceit is brought close to culmination in the notion that we are created in God’s image. The creator and ruler of the entire universe looks just like me.

My! What a coincidence! How convenient and satisfying!”  – Carl Sagan

God says you are a fraud!

September 7, 2010 § 27 Comments

It’s that time of the month again, and Outreach Media have released their new poster, which this time is an interesting one, and on a topic I have been thinking a bit about lately.

It can be forgiven

It can be forgiven - from outreachmedia.org.au

Basically this month’s billboard tells us that we are all forgiven for WHATEVER we do, as long as we take Christ into our hearts. OK, I disagree with this from the outset, but it’s the article that accompanies it that really gets my blood boiling. From the article:

“But the Bible’s opinion is that we’re all bad. For example, Jesus declares that our anger makes us all murderers at heart. Jesus makes it clear that God is only interested in those people who […] are ashamed and appalled at their sin.

“Is that you? Are you quietly dying inside? Is there something you’ve said, thought or done that’s ripping your insides out? Are you struggling to be around people because you feel you don’t deserve their company and they probably know you’re a fraud anyway?”

That’s right, you are a fraud! And don’t you try to pretend otherwise.

What really gets me about this whole attitude that the bible portrays is that firstly, you are corrupt and can ONLY find your way to truth if you put your trust and faith in God and Jesus, and secondly, that it doesn’t matter what you do, if you put your trust and faith in God and Jesus you will be forgiven for whatever you do in life. So many christians try to tell me that this is not what the bible means when it says these things.

What kind of incentive is there to actually take some responsibility for your own actions if you are just going to be forgiven for them when you “give up” everything to Jesus? What sort of incentive is there to be kind to your fellow-man if you can just repent at the last moment, feel some fleeting regret and instantly be forgiven?

And what sort of incentive is there for people to feel good about themselves if they are fraudulent, lying and born sinners? What sort of attitude is this to pass on to our children?

According to this, feel bad about yourself, and do whatever you please but as long as you believe in God and Jesus, you will be rewarded with a beautiful afterlife at God’s side.

I don’t know about you, but I was born right the first time. As were we all. I don’t need a Christian re-birth in heaven to make me perfect, I am perfect with all my human failings.

Sorry am I missing something?

EDIT: Added links to Outreach and the offending article.

RSA Animate – 21st century enlightenment

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is another in the series of lectures from the Royal Society of the Arts, in the same vein as the one I posted yesterday, thius one covering off the idea of The Re-Enlightenment. From the page:

“Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today, and the role that can be played by organisations such as the RSA.”

Richard Dawkins: An atheist’s call to arms

August 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

One of the more entertaining and funny talks by Richard Dawkins, this time from TED talks in 2008. I’d be interested in what you think of this one. I tend to agree with him, though BadAstronomer and Sam Harris don’t seem to be 100% in line with him either. Is there room for all types of discourse? Or should we be looking to find a united voice?

Language as a window into human nature – Steven Pinker

August 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is an amazing insight into the uses of language, the way we say things, and swearing. It reveals more about our nature as humans than we give it credit for. It’s quite lengthy, but to be fair to the topic, I think it deserves this amount of time. So grab a coffee/tea/beer and sit back and enjoy.

WARNING: There is some very crass language in this talk.

From the YouTube page:

“For Steven Pinker, the brilliance of the mind lies in the way it uses just two processes to turn the finite building blocks of our language into infinite meanings. The first is metaphor: we take a concrete idea and use it as a stand-in for abstract thoughts. The second is combination: we combine ideas according to rules, like the syntactic rules of language, to create new thoughts out of old ones”

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