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And then there are the Christian terrorists June 19, 2007

Posted by Joe in belief, Christianity, freethought, god, immorality, morality, religion, theism.
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Paul Hill Memorial Tour

Festivities include a “Reenactment of 7-29-1994″. 

Someone tell me that’s a hoax.

Secular Ethics June 11, 2007

Posted by Joe in belief, blogs, ethics, immorality, morality, psychology.
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Here is an interesting blog about a system of secular ethics, or more specifically how to decide what is right or wrong without consulting the supernatural.

What does it mean to be a moral person? June 7, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, ethics, freethought, immorality, morality, psychology, skepticism, theism.
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This is not an easy question to answer. It is an issue that philosophers have been struggling with for centuries. I don’t pretend to have figured it all out, but I do have my own thoughts on the issue.

First I want to consider the source of morality from a secular perspective. I believe that individual concepts of morality come primarily from two sources.

Call it genetics, call it innate, call it whatever, but it does seem there is a sense of fairness that just comes “built-in” to most people. Children have a highly developed sense of “fairness” which at first is quite selfish, but as they develop they come to apply to others. As a child grows he develops a Theory of Mind, which is a natural human understanding and empathy for the “other”. They grasp the idea that other people are like them. This is when they see that fairness is not about getting their share, but about everyone wanting a “fair share”.

Then there are external influences. How a person makes moral decisions will depend highly upon what they learn to value. If they grow up in a environment which values possessions, their morals will contain strong rules against stealing and abusing property. If they are brought up in an environment that values personal expression, their morals will contain strong rules against suppress of creative and expressive impulses. If the environment contains religious influences then their morals will be highly influenced by the religious instruction that they receive.

All told a persons morals are a part of their personality and a result of genetics, development and environment.

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What is an atheist? June 1, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, freethought, god, immorality, nihilism, religion, skepticism, theism.
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An atheist is nothing less and nothing more than a person who has no belief in god. It is not an actual belief in itself, but merely describes the lack of belief in any of the god or gods.

Despite this simplicity, it is a term often misunderstood by believers. Some believers seem to equate it with nihilism, belief in nothing, satanism, anti-religion, god-hating, evil, immorality, etc… Any given atheist may be any or none of these things. I and most of the atheists I know are none of them. Atheism does not imply any particular political beliefs, or any stance on any particular social issues. On many issues there are more atheists on one side or the other, but there is rarely an issue where they all agree.

One of the most common responses when a believer hears someone state that they are an atheist is something along the lines of “You don’t believe in anything?” I assure you this is not what atheism means.

I am tempted to go on about all the things that atheists believe in to counter this claim, but I don’t want to mislead you. I don’t know what atheists believe (regarding anything other than god) anymore than I know what a chef believes. There is only one thing that all atheists have in common.