Tired of the Bullshit?

I’ve seen enough false claims and heard enough lies during this election season to last a lifetime, but there is too much at stake, and this one is too incredulous for me to go idly by without addressing a few things. Out of respect for my very sweet friend who posted this, I chose to rebut these issues in a blog, rather than engage on her social media page. The following are my layman responses to this meme.

Business owner: Contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, Joe Biden will not shut down the country, at least not unless scientists say there is no other option, and it is much worse than it is even predicted to be. Biden wants to listen to scientists’ recommendations and open everything safely. Yes, there will be required masks, but I’d rather wear a mask than have the country shut down again, and masks have absolutely been proven to be the best defense against the virus in public spaces. Also, Biden takes science and the health of our citizens seriously. Even young people who recover quickly from Covid 19, often have lasting damage to their lungs or hearts. This disease should not be taken lightly as Trump encourages. Biden also has many plans to jumpstart the economy following the devastating economic downturn due to the coronavirus.

Taxpayer: Trump has done a very foolish thing that will help no one. He has frozen the federal taxes from being removed from our paychecks. This isn’t a tax break. We will owe it back when we file our taxes at the end of the season. Unless you are putting several hundred dollars a month in savings to cover your taxes, this will be a major strain on Americans. Additionally, Biden will only raise taxes on those who make more than $400,000 per year. The middle class has carried the tax burden too long. The rich are only rich because of the middle class. The middle class are their workers and their customers. The poor don’t consume a lot of products, and the rich are too few to keep themselves in business. Destroying the middle class by having them carry the majority of the tax burden is biting the hand that feeds them. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the rich have paid more than 50% taxes, and they still prospered hugely. They’ve had forty years of not paying their fair share, and it’s time for them to step up. Under a Biden/Harris administration, the middle class will not have their taxes raised except to end having their current taxes deferred.

One thing that should always be funded and protected is Social Security. It is the single most important thing that has protected the elderly in this country and kept them from starvation, homelessness, and poverty. It is not a handout, but is an investment you pay for your entire life, and no one should have the right to put it in jeopardy.

Christian: I don’t even know why people think Biden and Harris would be a threat to Christians. They are both Christians. The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution is meant to prevent what Trump is currently trying to do, and make no mistake—Trump is not a Christian and doesn’t care about Christian issues. He’s pandering to a group who is scared of losing privilege based on unfounded rumors and direct lies. I’ve been an educator for 18 years in public schools. Prayer, reading the bible, and talking about your beliefs is allowed in all schools. The only rules are that teachers or school officials cannot endorse any religion or appear to favor any religion (The Establishment Clause) by leading prayer or requiring prayer or bible reading, etc. Of course, students can’t read the bible when the math teacher is explaining fractions, but they certainly can in their free time. They can have after school bible studies on campus and choirs often sing religious songs as cultural education. This is true across all government institutions. Keeping religion out of government protects Christians as much as anyone else. Without the Establishment Clause, if the current leader favored Islam, Christians might be forced to kneel to the east, wear head coverings, and celebrate Islamic holidays. It is short-sighted to want your own religion favored because your preferred religion may not always be the most popular, and there is a multitude of evidence that the founders wanted to avoid this mixing of religion and government. Also, no one is against Christmas. I’m an atheist and Christmas is my favorite holiday. If there ever is a war on Christmas, I’ll be the first to defend it.

If you want more hard facts about the founders wanting to ensure a religion-free government, check out this wonderful book. The Founder’s Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American by Andrew Seidel.

Parent: I really don’t see where this criticism comes from, so I’m not sure how to address it, so I’ll just guess. Raising your kids, sending them to school, keeping them fed and safe, not separating them from their parents are all at the forefront of Biden’s plans. One thing about Biden is that he has a great deal of empathy and compassion for the American people and that certainly includes children.

Police Officer: As Biden has stated many times before, he is against defunding the police. In fact, he believes the police need more funding for training and to add social workers and counselors to take some of the load off of them. Biden and Harris are both strong on law and order and want to improve the system without abolishing it. They take a strong stand against looting and rioting, but also do not defend racist militia groups who want to antagonize and create violence or add to violence.  They intend to work on systemic racism within the force, rather than throwing it out and starting over. They also take a hard line on national defense and love and appreciate our military, giving them the respect they deserve, unlike Trump.

Gun Owner: Biden and Harris support the 2nd Amendment and do not want to abolish gun rights, collect people’s guns, or put gun owners on a list. They only support common sense legislation that requires background checks to prevent the mentally ill or violent criminals from owning guns and would only support restrictions on paramilitary-type weapons. Almost every American agrees with this. Fully automatic weapons are already banned. It’s true that restricting sales of paramilitary-type weapons won’t stop all mass shootings, but it would make them more difficult for the un-savvy troubled youth or mentally ill to get one. If restrictions stopped one mass shooting, it would be worth it. Biden and Harris support the rights of Americans to defend their homes, to hunt, and to shoot for sport, and do not want to take your guns.

Unborn Baby: This seems pretty much a moot point right now since it appears the new justice will be confirmed before the election in the biggest display of hypocrisy ever seen in the Republican party. However, even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, the states would make the decision about whether or not to allow abortion. It is true that Biden and some Democrats support a federal law allowing abortion that would supersede state intervention, but legal or not, abortions will likely not stop, but just become more dangerous. 

I have never met any liberal or Democrat in my life who likes abortion, thinks it should be used as birth control, or thinks there shouldn’t be restrictions on late term abortions. Late term abortions are not abortions at all. They are surgical procedures to save a mother’s life when the health of the baby is unquestionably compromised and the mother’s life is in danger. Choosing to save the only viable life capable of being saved at that point is no different than triaging patients in a hospital. You treat the ones you can save first. It is also a fact that free and accessible birth control and education are the most effective ways to reduce abortions. Most Democrats and progressives are perfectly willing to have common sense restrictions on abortions, such as when late term abortions would be denied. The Right to Life movement is largely a religious movement and legislation that affects others cannot be made on the grounds of religious preference. No one likes or wants abortions, but physical autonomy over one’s own body is probably the most important freedom someone can have, and thus makes this issue, and whose rights are maintained, a complicated one, and wherever you stand on this issue, it can’t be the only deciding factor for your vote. Is anyone else’s life less important than unborn children? Pandemics, economic crises, healthcare, and Social Security are all life and death issues. Without Democracy, which Trump is quickly eroding, we won’t get a say in anything.

Immigration: This meme did not mention immigration issues, but this is a common talking point among conservatives. Biden supports Dreamers and so do the majority of Americans. The United States has a long history of immigration, and all of us descend from immigrants at some point. Immigration has only helped America throughout our history, and there are so many myths about it. For one thing, immigrants pay more taxes and Social Security than Trump, yet they don’t collect anything from it. Biden and Harris support legal immigration, help for political and religious refugees, and a reasonable and compassionate path to citizenship for those who were brought here through no fault of their own. They do not support open borders and unlimited immigration.

I hope I dispelled some of these mistaken ideas regarding Biden and Harris, but don’t take my word for it. Visit BBC’s “Where Does Joe Biden Stand on the Issues”or Joe Biden’s website to see what he and Harris stand for. There are so many other issues and lies involvingTrump that are not covered here, such as Trump’s claims of the illegitimacy of science, his tax evasion, his collusion with foreign powers, his use of the office of president by his family as a business opportunity, healthcare issues, his negligence regarding global warming, our status in the world and our relationship with other countries, and so much more. Please go beyond social media and visit some sites that don’t just validate your own bias. It’s just too important this election year.–Christina Knowles

Book Review: Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment by Robert Wright

BuddhismMy bad. I should have noticed that this book had “Philosophy” in the title. I don’t have anything against philosophy in general. In fact, I really enjoy Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Nietzsche, and many more. However, with this book, I was hoping for just some science-based evidence to back up the claims of common Buddhist practices like meditation and non-attachment, etc. Instead, I got a head-splitting treatise on how the self does not exist. My mind hasn’t hurt so much since I took “The Philosophy of Mind and Reality.” The only discipline more aloof from clear-cut answers than psychology is philosophy, and that’s entirely what this book is–philosophical psychology. In fact, psychology is the one science where there is so much disagreement between sub-disciplines that I have no idea what is truly accurate. As a non-religious person who is completely open to the benefits and lifestyle of Buddhism, I did not agree with even half of what Wright explains in this book, at least the part I could even wrap my head around. It’s quite possible, the mind-numbing coma his arguments induced in me contributed to my lack of comprehension.

If you are looking for a secular view of the benefits of Buddhist practice, I recommend anything on the subject by Sam Harris, especially Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion. Don’t torture yourself with this one, unless you want to feel like a freshmen in Philosophy 101 again.–Christina Knowles

Missionary Atheism? Let’s Start by Coming Out by Christina Knowles

 

quote-a-fool-s-brain-digests-philosophy-into-folly-science-into-superstition-and-art-into-george-bernard-shaw-26-83-67            Of course, I dislike the concept. I am not a missionary. I have no religion to spread. No message to proselytize. I don’t normally care what someone believes if it doesn’t affect me. But I’ve heard the religious describe atheism as a religion we’re trying to spread, which is highly offensive. Shaking free of ancient belief systems that have no more merit than Greek mythology and expecting evidence to accept the unbelievable does not qualify as a religion.

I’ve also heard that we are scared that religion is becoming more popular, so we’ve become missionaries against their religions. We may be scared, but not that religion is growing. Atheism is growing, a natural consequence of ready access to ideas and information on the internet. Nevertheless, some of us are scared, scared of a nation that seems more inclined toward theocracy than ever before in our entire U.S. history.

When beliefs seemed more benign and simply ritualistic, not spoken of in polite conversation, there was no need give it a second thought. A bemused smile or a shake of the head was sufficient. However, our country, and even our world, is under a growing and alarming threat posed by religions that seeks to undermine basic civil liberties, impose antiquated and prejudiced values on others, and maybe most sinister of all, denies science and common sense on an unprecedented level, threatening to destroy the very earth under our feet in a way that cannot be undone. Laws can be overturned and rights restored, but we have reached the tipping point when it comes to climate change. The denial of basic science and the indoctrination of America against facts, even by people who should know better, perhaps, do know better, but are so consumed with greed and self-interest that the collateral damage inflicted by their aggressive domination of the earth is of no concern to them. The earth will last as long as they need it to, and what happens when they are gone is of no consequence to them. They lead the blind and uneducated by reinforcing archaic notions of being saved miraculously by the gods. Who cares if we are destroying the earth when our god intends to destroy it and create a new earth and promises a heavenly Eden in its place?

These politicians and corporate predators pander to a deluded and ignorant public who, because of their own confirmation bias, see these politicians as heroes of the faith. All a crafty, self-interested politician has to do to gain the support of these fundamentalists is to say that they are saving them from an imagined moral decline, pretend to care about the pro-life movement and the sanctity of marriage, and they forever own the minds and votes of this programed group. They tell them how to think, how to vote, and teach them to fear the rational educated who could actually save them. This group is already pre-disposed to indoctrination, having been thoroughly relieved of critical thinking skills by their religions.

So, is it time for missionary atheism? Do we need to take a more active stance in proclaiming reason over superstition? There is too much at stake to stay quietly in the closet. The risk of losing family and friends, to straining relationships, and to being looked upon with disdain and suspicion pales in the light of the greater threat to our world. Those of us who have shaken the scales from our eyes to see reason, to overcome childhood conditioning and think for ourselves, to demand evidence and logic for extraordinary claims must come out openly and strongly so that others may wake up from the delusions passed down from generations of conditioned superstitions and ignorance. Most of us have been there and woken up, and we were glad we did.

I’m not suggesting a massive deconversion campaign. I am asking that we no longer stay politely silent when those around us claim a god is blessing them with a new car while millions of innocents in Aleppo are slaughtered in the streets. They don’t even realize the depth and magnitude of their fallacies, and they never will unless someone is forward enough to point them out. Let’s make it socially objectionable to float around in a cloud of delusion, at least publically. Let’s show them that atheists are everywhere, in their families, in their offices, in their clubs, and on their teams. We are citizens with a voice, and we need to start using it.—Christina Knowles

Angry Atheist or Justifiably Angry? by Christina Knowles

religion We’ve all heard of the stereotype of the “angry atheist,” and I’m really tired of it and all it implies. If you really want to know why this atheist is sometimes angry, I’ll tell you, but you aren’t going to like it. I’m tired of being told that I am angry at a god I don’t believe in. I’m not, but lately I have been angry at some of those who believe in this god.

In general, I am a happy and pretty serene person. I am easy to get along with, I don’t get mad very easily, and I can’t think of any wrong done to me that I don’t easily forgive very quickly. However, I am angry at religion, at least organized religion. I don’t really have a problem with vague beliefs of some abstract spirit world where are there are no holy documents dictating how everyone else is supposed to live, regardless of whether or not they also believe it.

The kind of religion that makes me angry is the kind that is preventing progress, inhibiting intellectual reasoning, brainwashing children and cultures, interfering with the rights of others, and destroying our world. That’s right, destroying it. And I’m not just talking about the terrorism of some Islamic groups, or the overt oppression of homosexuals and women, but, at least in the United States, I blame fundamentalist Christianity for the dumbing down of the world when it comes to science, the environment and climate change, over-population, and for popularizing the belief in the superiority of mankind and his “dominion” over animal life and nature, as well as attempting to morally justify the worship of capitalism and making it acceptable to vilify and oppress the poor. Religion is leading to a mass extinction on our planet.

Any species that takes more than it needs from its environment eventually becomes extinct. The only way out of this that I can conceive is education. Education in science, history, literature, social studies, math, in everything, including de-bunking religious superstition. As long as people are conditioned to check their brains at the door and believe a book written by bigoted men thousands of years ago, men who had no understanding of science and every reason to perpetuate thought which put them in control. This book causes good people to discriminate against other good people, this book causes women to accept or even welcome their own subjugation, and this book causes intelligent people to dismiss intellectual thought in lieu of “faith,” which leads to denying scientific fact and embracing fantasy notions of escaping this planet for an imaginary perfect place where none of the people they find offensive will be allowed to go.

And when you believe there will be a new earth, why take care of the old one? Why not have “19 kids and counting” if a god will take care of all of them or rapture them up and take them to heaven? We don’t need to worry about the exponentially growing population and the fact that we do not have enough resources to support them or enough jobs available for them as they become adults. And if animals do not have souls, and men do, obviously, men can do whatever they want to them. And prejudice and discrimination against those who do not agree that your god makes the rules is suddenly justified because you are just “trying to save them” and are worried about their eternal souls.

One of the most disturbing things about American Christianity is the apparent worship of capitalism and the disdain for the poor. While, in the past, Christians prided themselves on caring for the poor, this new generation of Christianity seems to prefer quoting aphorisms about God helping “those who help themselves,” “no working-no eating,” and “teach a man to fish,” etc., effectively blaming the poor as being lazy without looking at factors such as opportunity and oppression, instead, promoting corporate greed as God’s blessings for the entrepreneurial spirit. They seem to think that if they please God enough, enforcing his edicts on the world, they, too, will be blessed with riches.

But if you really want to know why I am angry, you first have to understand my perception of religion. While Christians may think I am lost, I think, as a former Christian, that I have awakened and narrowly escaped a cult. I believe that Christians are nice people, more often than not, who have been deceived and brainwashed into joining a damaging and intellectually debilitating cult. This cult lures people in by quoting the nice parts of the bible, and there are a few, very few. These people are drawn in by the idea of an all-powerful and benevolent being who personally created them and loves them. They aren’t immediately informed about this god’s past immoral and psychotic displays of rage on humanity. And when they do run into these passages, eventually, they are explained away with such illogical nonsense as “We can’t begin to understand God,” or “Because God is perfectly just, He has to destroy sin,” (even the innocent children, apparently, and despite the notion that He created it), or my personal anti-favorite, “You just have to have faith.” Why? Why would anyone think it a good thing to believe something for absolutely no good reason, contrary to the observable evidence, and with no supporting evidence of its own? Especially, blissfully ignoring the fact that this god seems strikingly similar to a very flawed, over-emotional, prideful, vindictive, and sexist early Middle Eastern man. This is exactly what I mean. This cult ensures its survival by making sure its members believe that looking too closely at its logic is a bad thing and blind faith is admirable.

I’m sure at this point, some people are thinking that I sound like I am mad at God. I’m not. I don’t believe he exists, but if the god of the bible were real, I certainly would not find him worthy to be worshipped or obeyed, not to mention that he seems to be a trickster engaged in the longest hide and seek game of all time. However, I am mad that this mythology is continuing to block progress and affects millions of people who do not share these beliefs. I am angry that persistent sexism exists because of religion. I am angry that discrimination of all kinds of people exists because of religion, that wars are started over religion, that disdain for the poor exists because of religion, that scientists are scoffed at because of religion, that we are killing ourselves, plant life, and animal life because of religion. I don’t mean to single out only Christianity for the blame; there are other factors, but, in my opinion, it is this dominant religion causing the most harm here in the United States. I am angry that in America, there are still some laws on the books that prevent an atheist from holding political office, which is completely unconstitutional. Personally, I would rather see a person who depends on reason in charge of public policy than someone who wants to determine what is right and wrong from an ancient book that should have long ago been relegated to the status of mythology, a category to which it most certainly belongs. However, we all know that even if there were no “religious test” for public office, the “moral majority” of America would never elect even the most ethical and upstanding atheist as president. An atheist would be forced to pretend to have the popular religion in order to have a chance for a political career in the United States.

Yet, Christians cry religious persecution all the time—whenever they are prevented from forcing their religious dogma on others. It is not enough anymore to spread the gospel, they must enforce their imaginary god’s laws on rational people who think they are delusional. I apologize if this is too blunt, and I want to make sure everyone understands that I do not think Christians are stupid. They aren’t. They are brainwashed, usually from birth, indoctrinated into a culture of Christianity and held there by fear of hell, fear of losing community and family, and being ostracized as godless heathens. When Christians do allow themselves to doubt and question, they are quickly reined in and corrected. And even when they no longer believe, they fear admitting it. I was once among them, and I feel for them, but I refuse to stand by silently while they destroy the world I, too, must live in. So, yeah, I am angry, and I do feel the need to say what I think is really going on, but I am not mad at an invisible dictator in the sky whom I do not believe exists.

I am not an angry person. I am a person who gets angry, especially when it really matters. I am a moral person, and I want to see us solve problems and move forward in a way that best protects our future. So you see, in this way, we aren’t really that different. We both think the other is ruining the world, we both think the other is deluded. However, I don’t think you are going to hell. I think you can be woken up. I think you can snap out of it and realize the wool has been pulled over your eyes. I’m sure you think I could come back to Christianity, but I won’t because I never want to believe something for no reason again. I want to see a new age of reason emerge, and the United States return to its former position as one of the world’s freethinking leaders of democracy and scientific thought, rather than being known as the largest free country still holding on to magical thinking and holding back progress. Reason, in the end, is the only savior out there, and I’m justifiably angry because we are encouraging ignorance and fantasies over rationality at the cost of our future.—Christina Knowles