April 13, 2013 Leave a comment
December 12, 2012 Leave a comment
by an unapologetic atheist
Hate is a strange concept.
We’re all taught not to hate, yet we all hate something.
Despite my mother’s pleas for me and my brothers to say we “dislike” certain things, we always ended up saying we “hated” them.
Some people hate allergies.
Some folks hate the rain.
I hate people who hate people for no reason.
Why all this talk about hate?
I’ve recently entangled myself in a rather strange series of offset debates with an apocalyptic occultist group fascinated with homosexuality and determined to teach the world of its evils.
My apparent lack of hatred for gay and lesbian folks—and my having attested to that fact on a local AM radio show I frequent—has prompted the social terrorists of a local religious group to monitor my words and condemn me as a so-called contributor to the downfall of traditional America.
When I was younger I would see people mistreating one another based on their skin color, religion and even their gender, and I would wonder what drove them to be so hateful.
After a few decades of people-watching, and a decade or so as a journalist, I now posit that people are not generally driven to hate; instead, it seems as though we are all equipped with the capability of behaving in a hateful manner.
Due to the ease with which we tend to engage our xenophobic, colorist, sexist, superstitious tendencies, it has become obvious to me that most of the hateful need only a good reason with which they can justify their hatred of various others.
Are you a black person who hates whites? Just tell yourself it’s OK because some Europeans brought African nationals to the New World between the 1500s and 1800s.
Are you a white person who hates Mexicans? No sweat! Just tell yourself it’s OK since some of those folks sneak across the border and take American jobs.
Are you a religious person who hates gays? Easy-peezie-Japaneezie. Just tell yourself that your favorite holy book labels homosexual acts as abominable.
This odium of people who choose same-sex life partners and engage in homosexual acts is the type of loathing which I least understand.
After all, the issuance of a municipal acknowledgment of civil partnership to a couple consisting of two men or two women bears no weight on the marriage licenses of couples consisting of one man and one woman.
Further, the types of sex acts consenting adults perform in the privacy of their home in no way affect the rest of the population in any great or even small way.
So why all the unfounded psychosexual hysteria?
Well, while there are certainly some secular folks who hate their fellow brothers and sisters simply because they are homosexual, the bulk of the disdain emanating from the frothy maws of Middle America comes from the select individuals who justify their disgust claiming it is rooted in their particular brand of mythology.
Islam calls homosexuality a gateway to disobeying the rest of their god’s rules.
Both the Christian Bible and the Tanakh also claim their god character forbids homosexual acts—men lying with men and all that jazz.
I won’t waste your time or mine by feigning shock at the hypocrisy of it all. I long ago gave up being surprised at the irony of people who claim to worship a supposedly all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful magical being and then turning around and treating much of their fellow man and beast like garbage.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the citizen tyrants’ trepidations: they have likely been taught that gay people are subhuman, mentally compromised and—through the power of dark magic—responsible for everything from earthquakes and herpes to thong underwear and the Fiscal Cliff.
After all, the gods have damned everything from shrimp curry and mixed clothing types to idol worship and homosexuality.
But, any deity character that would punish people for eating shellfish, wearing a poly/cotton blend shirt or living the life of a homosexual person isn’t worth praise or even a second thought.
Frankly, the fact that so many of these death cult members have taken their gods’ alleged duties into their own hands tells me they know it’s a myth as well, and are simply acting out their pathetic fearful and misdirected rage on an easy target.
Ultimately no one can be stopped from hating. Nor would the Libertarian in me would ever demand anyone love another person who they cannot stand; But, when one attempts to materialize that hate in the form of tyrannical legislation, mental and physical abuse … well, those scoundrels must be identified and marginalized.
Make no mistake: this is not a mere difference of opinion; this is a relatively subdued war waged by zealots who hunger for the torture and eradication of people based on their sexual proclivity. Whether by laws that prohibit gays from marrying or donating blood or adopting children; by pseudo-psychological warfare in the form of gay reversal therapy; or even public humiliation and intimidation through media campaigns, those who seek to do more than privately dislike gay folks are an enemy of public safety. They are social terrorists. They are the planters of the seeds of holocaust, of genocide, of crimes against humanity.
If you’re going to mistreat certain sections of the population who have done you no wrong, then you must prepare yourself to be placed in history’s file cabinet with the great bigots, rapists, molesters, murderers, slave-traders and thieves of history.
So, why do I care about this issue?
I feel that any one of us who stands by and allows this type of suffering to occur is complicit with the aggressors.
One final note to any so-called “culture warriors” still reading: do you really want your legacy to be that you spent your brief and oh-so-precious time attempting to fulfill the spurious Bronze Age scribblings of the absolute worst humanity has ever had to offer? Do you really think the best version of you is one who needlessly harms others? Can you really justify hate by claiming to do so out of love for your god?
September 13, 2012 Leave a comment
EDITOR’S NOTE: The release of this book has been pushed back six months due to work
commitments at two of my businesses, but I continue to plug along on the final editing process. I hope to have review copies available by spring.
Despite centuries of propaganda to the contrary, study after study shows secular populations have lower rates of crime and disease while tending to be more peaceful and attentive to the needs of their sick and poor. The new paperback book “The Moral Superiority of Atheism” clears up common misconceptions about non-theists while detailing the moral superiority of merely having no religion at all.
Journalist and Essayist Benjamin J. Gohs, editor of an unapologetic atheist, challenges the accepted notions of morality in his upcoming non-fiction book: “The Moral Superiority of Atheism.” Gohs proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Abrahamic religions are founded upon immoral deity characters so vile, vicious and repulsive that no one who calls himself “moral” can any longer associate with these cults without at least being very selective in which parts they choose to believe and which dogma they decide to follow. Gohs further makes a compelling case for the moral superiority of atheism by detailing an utter lack of wicked requirements for being a non-theist–a fact that is in stark contrast with the laws of religion.
Morality is a mixture of instinct and external natural forces, and is only molested by occultism. Atheists, because they are free of pathological dogma, are naturally more inclined to be kind to one another … and this is backed up by study after study which shows secular populations tend to be more peaceful, healthy and prosperous.
“The Moral Superiority of Atheism” is sure to further the cause of equality for non-theists while shaking the errant foundation of belief that God is good and to love God makes one good.
September 13, 2012 1 Comment
Religion shows little respect for humanity while demanding it unconditionally
By an unapologetic atheist
By now you’ve likely heard about the four American Embassy workers in the port city of Benghazi, Libya, who were killed outside the consulate building as they attempted to flee a riot by Muslims allegedly upset over an American-made low budget movie which negatively portrays Islam and the prophet Mohammed.
That the event occurred on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil may have served as the catalyst for a press release the embassy released at the outset of the riots which would later turn deadly. In the release, consulate officials said they strongly condemn any attempt to denigrate religions and that religious freedom was paramount among American values.
Attempts to assuage the rabid hoodlums were futile as American diplomat Christopher Stevens—a man who, by many reports, was highly regarded by the people in the Mediterranean town—was murdered in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. It is not believed that Stevens or the three unnamed casualties were targets of the violence.
The overall theme of the attacks was anti-American sentiment apparently whipped into a frenzy by the movie “Innocence of Muslims,” made by Sam Bacile, a man who reportedly (according to AP) created the movie with the expressed purpose of insulting Islam.
The White House condemned the riots, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped just short of an apology for Bacile’s movie.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton stated. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”
She further stated, “But, let me be clear, there is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
I’ll spare you the platitudes about what a tragedy this was and move right on to the offending notions: respect and tolerance for religion.
After all, what is religious tolerance? Why should I respect your beliefs?
“Tolerance” means to “put up with” and respect means “reverence for something.”
I certainly have no reverence for the range of silly-to-horrifying, of which the world’s religions consist.
And, since I have no desire to control how people spend their time, there is no need for me to “tolerate” anything. It causes me no harm for my neighbor to go to church. I am not physically disturbed by others when their thoughts turn to the ethereal.
I have no respect for the Qur’an’s treatment of women or the Judeo-Christian rituals of genital mutilation. But, no one needs my permission or “tolerance” to celebrate their holy days or pray in the public square.
What I do respect is the importance of concepts as vital to basic human liberty as free speech and free expression.
Religious beliefs and practices—so long as they do not directly harm another—are a form of free speech and free expression, and deserve to be protected as such.
In that I don’t owe anyone or anything my blind respect for their mere existence, and since the act of tolerating something that has no effect on me smacks of arrogance bordering on hubris … I will consent to neither.
What I do not have to respect or tolerate is a group of violent, superstitious dullards who harm people and property, stifle education and hijack legislation—regardless of how supreme they think their celestial dictator may be.
Ultimately, all humans should have the right to speak and express themselves as they see fit: whether that be by making a movie critical of religion or by praying to the east five times per day. What they don’t have a right to do is silence the voices of those with whom they disagree.
The popular, though spurious, solution to this issue of hurt feelings among religionists is to pass hate speech laws. Countries from Canada and Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Singapore and a dozen others have rules which criminalize everything from insulting and ridiculing religion to defaming religious figures and generally creating an air of disharmony between religious factions.
If it isn’t enough that entire groups of malicious cowards are given somewhat of a pass by blaming cartoons and movies and newspaper articles for their wicked actions, the passage of so-called hate speech creates an entirely new set of problems: what is hate speech? One man’s joke is another man’s denigration. My criticism may be your defamation. An off-color joke may be sufficient grounds for people on the other side of the planet to wage war. We’ve already seen for what 13 minutes of amateur cinema posted on youtube.com can be blamed.
Demands for respect or tolerance, to paraphrase Shocknet Radio’s John Mill, is something patriots do not need and scoundrels will not heed.
The freedom of religion is only as important as the freedom to hold up one’s middle finger; it is only as necessary as your ability to scream “Hell no, we won’t go!”; it is only as relevant as our ability to ridicule the ridiculous.
True freedom of religion will only exist as long as the freedoms of speech and expression are paramount.
I hope my enchanted brethren worldwide consider this last point before sharpening their swords and unfurling their crying towels: when you scheme to smother the expressions of others, you run the risk of extinguishing your own.
August 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Can non-believers believe in magic and still call themselves non-believers?
By an unapologetic atheist
Considering some of the far-fetched claims that escape the mouths of religionists it takes a good bit of nonsense to make me shake my head anymore.
However, just the other day I was witness to a couple of self-proclaimed atheists engaging in a discussion about contacting the dead. The one so-called “atheist” told the other so-called “atheist” that he knew some people who had contacted a dead relative using a OUIJA board. The gentleman went on to describe how the people uncovered details about the relative that they could never have known—this was his proof that the board worked. After a few minutes of watching this back-and-forth I interjected something along the lines of, “And to think: Milton-Bradley devised a means of communicating with the dead for only $14.99.” I was promptly informed that, not only was the OUIJA board a bonafide tool for clairvoyance, but it had existed before game companies latched onto it.
Sensing I had ambled into verbal minefield, I gracefully bid them adieu.
I knew arguing with them was pointless, but the conversation stuck in my brain. As I mulled it I thought back a few decades to when I was 12 years old. My family and I moved into a great big farmhouse that was well over a hundred years old.
In addition to rooms within rooms, creepy closet cubbyholes and an enormous cobweb-laden basement straight out of a Bela Lugosi flick, the landlords informed us our new abode was apparently haunted.
As a life-long atheist I was skeptical at the notion that the essence of some long-dead farmer was somehow magically lingering, floating from hall to hall, fulfilling his ghostly agenda. But, for reasons still unknown to me, my parents began reporting strange goings-on.
First they awakened one Sunday morning and told us they had heard the cupboard doors in the basement being flung open then violently slammed shut in the late-night hours.
Then there was the strange little girl my father swears he saw in an upstairs window one afternoon while we were all in the backyard.
The spookiest account allegedly involved my father who, in the basement starting a load of laundry, swears he heard a voice calling his name from one of the small dark rooms far off in the back.
At the time, and out of respect, I went along with the charade. I went so far as to make a game out of ghost hunting with my brothers in the basement and in the giant dark closets in the old place. Secretly, I knew it was all bunk. And, as I look back now, nearly every case of some ghostly “event” was witnessed by only one person: my father. Knowing the very rough life my father has led, I think it safe to say his “encounters” were likely stress-induced imaginings.
Perhaps you’re thinking that this is not so extraordinary. After all, many millions of people believe in ghosts and spirits, angels and demons. The anomaly in this case arises from the fact that both my parents claim to be atheists. Now, to be fair, my mother was raised Catholic, and I’m not sure I heard her say she didn’t believe in some sort of deity more than once, so I seriously doubt she is not at least a deist—which makes belief in the supernatural all the more plausible.
Contrarily, my father was much more affirmed in his non-theism, but his willingness to believe in magical beings places him in a completely other category than atheist. Perhaps he, too, is a deist.
The very definition of atheism is a lack of belief in gods, a rejection of religion and skepticism in the face of supernatural claims.
Would my parents have fallen for the self-delusional carnie trick that makes the OUIJA board work? I know not.
Neither can I answer why blatant spiritualists would consider themselves atheists. Perhaps this is merely a matter of ignorance as it relates to proper terminology. After all, there are numerous degrees of belief in the supernatural ranging from absolute belief in an established god character and its related rules and regulations to belief in an unspecified magical being or beings with no adherence to any established dogma and just about any combination of all or none in between.
Spiritualism, with its all-inclusive dogma that basically states all religions have some value, and all peoples worship the same magical creature whether they know it or not, can be confusing for people who were raised with stringent occultist bylaws and well-defined deity.
Though modern spiritualism dates back to 1848 when a family began allegedly communicating with the “spirit” of a dead man that, far removed accounts claim, came in the form of “rapping” on the family’s cabin.
By the late-1800s people were bedazzled by this new form of magic worship and soon folks were holding seances, getting their palms read and consulting with the new-fangled talking board marketed under the name “OUIJA.”
Considering the accounts detailed in the Abrahamic mythologies, it is apparent that belief in spirits and ghosts dates back at least several thousand years if not further.
Regardless of its origins, some people who believe in magic are calling themselves “atheists.” And, as cute as Richard Dawkins concept of everyone being an atheist because they all have certain religions they don’t believe in, a true atheist is one who does not believe in anything supernatural—or so I thought.
Just as I was ready to finish my research and begin this column I spotted a PEW survey on the religious landscape which claims 21% of atheist believe in a god.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Now, to be fair, the study included just over 35,000 people, of which 1.6 percent were supposed atheists; 2.4 percent were allegedly agnostic.
Once again I had to ask myself: was this a matter of people simply not understanding terminology? Perhaps a segment of the people interviewed gave purposely false answers. Maybe those who were identified as atheists were actually deists or all agnostics.
The bigger question may be: “Why does it matter?”
It matters to me because atheism as a social movement has always been a mish-mosh of people from all backgrounds who don’t necessarily have anything in common other than not believing in the supernatural. This makes for a frustrating and nearly impossible mission of fighting against religious tyranny.
However, it is increasingly evident that we do have more in common than we may have originally thought: we are all impinged upon in ways great and small by theocracy.
Whether it is something relatively minor like not being able to purchase liquor on a Sunday or holiday, or getting stoned to death for having sex out of wedlock, religion’s cruel claw is locked around the throats of billions worldwide.
If we are ever to unite under the banner of liberty and justice for all in this fight against religious supremacists, who work diligently to impose their beliefs in magic in nearly every aspect of life, then we must be armed with knowledge about liberty, law, religion and history—and if those in our numbers do not possess the ability to understand what they believe and who they are, then our goals are truly unreachable … like a ghost in the night.
Copyright an unapologetic atheist
This material may not be reprinted in part or whole without the author’s permission.
an unapologetic atheist is a long-time journalist and columnist in the areas of news and opinion ranging from humor to civil liberties.