Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The stinkiest stinker

I am re-reading Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion and I came across this passage that I think is totally hilarious. This is from Chapter 3, "Arguments for God's Existence" and Dawkins is reviewing a few of Thomas Aquinas's most famous arguments.

Let's move on down Aquinas' list.
4. The Argument from from Degree. We notice things in the world differ. There are degrees of, say, goodness or perfection. But we judge these degrees only by comparison with a maximum. Humans can be both good and bad, so the maximum goodness cannot rest in us. Therefore there must be some other maximum to set the standard for perfection, and we call that maximum God.

That's an argument? You might as well say, people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference by a perfect maximum of of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

atheist gratitude

It can be hard to be an atheist in the United States. I read about it in stories on the Internet, talked about it in the extian email list, seen it on ExChristian.Net, talked about it in the local Atheists Meetup group, etc. I've contributed my share of material to these sources to share the fear, religious pressure, fights with my parents, etc, that went along with the discovery within my family that I was not a Christian anymore. Some of that you can read on this blog from the last few years.

However, things have smoothed out since then, and I am very grateful for that. Religion is no longer a source of open conflict between my Mother and I--and I think that this is more to her credit than it is to mine. Maybe it is because she knows that she is not going to bring me back to her church by arguing with me, so she has toned down a lot. Maybe it is because I'm at least going to a church now, even though it's not really a Christian church. Better Unitarian-Universalist than totally heathen :) Could also be that she is seeing that I have not really changed my basic values much after embracing my atheism. What I do know is that she loves me, religion or no. Dad too, of course, but there was never much conflict between us. And I am grateful for all of that.

Another area where I have been incredibly fortunate is in my workplace. I work as an IT Programmer/Analyst in a moderate sized company in Jeffersonville, right across the river from Louisville. One of the striking things about this this working environment is the incredible amount of open mindedness and diversity. I have co-workers there from many different national and religious environments, and religion has never been brought up yet in conversation as anything but a cultural interest. And there is no prostelization and no pressure of a religious sort that I hear that atheists encouter all to often in office settings. And I am very greatful for that.

There are other areas which I'm also greatful, my Unitarian-Universalist church, the internet which gives me the ability to share my thought and communicate with people from other parts of the U.S. and the world about this stuff, and many things that I'm just not thinking of now, for sure.

Dang, I almost forgot to mention that I'm even dating an atheist. How sweet is that? :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Five Favorite Quotes Meme

I've been tagged by Stardust [I stand corrected :-p] to list my five favorite quotes (of the moment). So here goes :)

  1. "I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved [and I cannot resist forming one on every subject], as soon as the facts are shown to be opposed to it."

    Charles Darwin (Freedom:Quotes and Passages from the World's Greatest Freethinkers

  2. "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

    Douglas Adams (Pulled from Positive Atheism's List of Quotations)

  3. "There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

    Another one from Douglas Adams (from The Quotations Page)

  4. "When he looks into his hand, he can see thousands of generations before him and thousands of generations after him. He can see that he exists not only in the evolutionary tree branching along the axis of time, but also in the network of interdependent relations. He told me that he never feels lonely."

    Thich Nhat Hanh (from Peace is Every Step)

  5. "If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?"

    Carl Sagan (from The Quotations Page)

I have tagged Luminous Phenomena and Contemplative Activist.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Life Quiz

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dance classes

This is something that I've really always wanted to do since I was a kid--I have started taking dance classes. While doing an internet search, I found a fairly new dance studio in town that offers dance classes for not a whole lot of money. I got a $40 a month membership so I can take as many of the classes as I want, and I've been going for a week now.

I enjoy this a lot because it means that I'm learning some new skills--which makes it challenging--and I'm getting exercise. And it's a great social activity, especially since this is ballroom dancing, with a partner.

So far I've learned the basics of the tango, salsa, waltz, and samba. With a bit more practice I might get really good at this :) I figure that this is a prime time in my life to pursue these interests, while my time after work and on the weekends is still free.