Archive for August 2nd, 2011

By Duganz

I’m an atheist, but more than that I am a moral person. The two are related despite what many people say or think.

Atheism informs most, if not all of my morality. My views on everything from taxes to the death penalty start with where I am on existence. I believe that this is it. We live. We die. There is no eternal place. We have this planet, our life, and each other.

At the end of our lives we have nothing, as bleak as that may seem to some. Myself, I sometimes get emotional when I take a minute to think that I’m part of humanity, an ape with a brain that has helped us make everything from arrowheads to iPads, and travel everywhere from Antarctica to the Moon. To be part of this for even a few decades has been wonderful; I can only imagine how happy I will be when I’ve lived something like 80 years.

Life is just so beautiful, and we are lucky to have it.

And so I embrace life, and guide myself not by fear of the unknown or the things I cannot see (death, gawd…ninjas), but by the love of life, and the belief that everyone has a right to it (just fyi, that is not an anti-abortion statement).

Sam Harris writes in his book The End of Faith: “[E]very person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?”

When we strip away heaven, hell, 72 virgins, nirvana, and all other pieces of the religion-pie we are left with each other, and each of us will have roughly the same life: We are born, we live, we die. In between so much else happens, but regardless the outcome is the same–be it cancer, car wreck, or any other means. We start as one, we end as zero.

A worldview built around putting mankind first, and believing in the best for man is usually referred to as humanism (though, I am giving quite a tiny summary of it). Humanists believe in a human-centered world, which is very different from a religious worldview, which puts gawd first. A humanist, for instance, would see a famine and say, “We need to get food in here.” A religious person may agree about the food, but would also waste valuable time praying for food, or rain. Or ninjas. (Another quote from Harris, and I’m paraphrasing, says that if you saw someone muttering to a hairdryer you’d find them crazy; remove the hair dryer and you would say they were praying.)

On a recent post I engaged in a light battle of philosophy with Rev. Timothy Gordish, a man whom I respect greatly for his willingness to defend his belief. I believe reading our “debate” may aid some of you in asking the big question: “Do I really believe in gawd?”

If you read the contradictions I point out (And Rev. Gordish denies) and think that they say a lot about the inaccuracy of the bible, I encourage you to explore that idea by looking into humanism and reading a book like The God Delusion, which I found utterly inspiring. So much in fact that at the end of it I was inspired to out myself as an atheist.

You may also find it useful to attend a meeting of the Missoula Area Secular Society. Though I haven’t myself they seem like a nice group of people and they are obviously passionate about what they think. (And if you’re thinking “Why do atheists need a club?” my wife said it best, “Humans are social creatures. Everyone needs to congregate.”) Don’t be afraid to lack belief, many people do (please see the included video below).

If you read our “debate” and think Gordish makes perfect sense, I encourage you to attend his church in Ronan and support him (though if you could, please be more pro-gay than the Rev). Don’t be afraid to believe.

This post is only the first of many I plan on writing about atheism in the coming months. I just want to introduce the idea here because of what Rev. Gordish and I have been throwing around. Please feel free to debate among yourselves about gawd, JESUS!, the bible, ninjas, my lord and savior the invisible pink unicorn, or his father the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But keep it on topic. Debate ideas, not persons.

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by jhwygirl

Rachael Phillips is a 37-year old woman who’s trachea is collapsing. She needs a new trachea, and her medical costs are mounting and the only surgery that could possibly save her life is not covered by health insurance.

I could go into a sorry long rant on healthcare.

Rachael has friends here in Montana though – including Kirsten who is willing shave her head as a means of helping Rachael get herself that life-saving trachea. The goal here is pretty lofty – $5,000 – but the cause is worthy. There’s a link there on the page for donations.

I can’t imagine the feeling of needing life-saving care and knowing that the only way to get it was to pay for it, cash. How is it we have a healthcare system that allows a young woman to die for lack of money?

Death panel? People were scared of death panels? How is what Rachael Phillips going through not a death panel?

Remember Mikaslyn Larson, the 8-year old girl here in Missoula that needed a new hip That insurance wouldn’t pay for? Mikaslyn is getting better now and can move around- all because her family was able to raise the money and avoid the death-panel free-market healthcare insurance providers.

At least someone makes money while these people have to beg.

How can anyone champion a system that allows people to die for lack of money? We’re supposed to live in a civilized society. It’s as if our nation has decided it’s find to sit by drinking a beer while another human being sits before you and bleeds out.

Kirsten, though, is a good egg. Shaving her long locks for a friend? That’s soul. Kirsten is a commenter here on occasion. She has Libertarian tendencies..and describes herself as an anarchist. we bump heads a lot. Frankly, I don’t have the energy to debate her – so do feel free to debate her on Twitter. I hope you can all consider helping her friend Rachael get herself a new trachea.




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