Saturday, February 27, 2010

Robert G. Ingersoll Speech

Read this a few days ago and really liked it, so I thought I'd reprint it for anyone who hasn't heard it before.

"When I became convinced that the Universe is natural--that the ghosts and gods and myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world--not even in infinite space. I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live to my own ideal--free to live for myself and those I loved--free to use all my faculties, all my senses--free to spread imagination's wings-free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope--free to judge and determine for myself--free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past--free from popes and priests--free from all the "called" and "set apart"--free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies--free from the fear of eternal pain--free from the winged monsters of the night--free from devils, ghosts and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought--no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings--no chains for my limbs--no lashes for my back--no fires for my flesh--no master's frown or threat--no following another's steps--no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.
And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain--for the freedom of labor and thought--to those who fell in the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains--to those who proudly mounted scaffold's stairs--to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn-to those by fire consumed--to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Donald Clegg Article in the Spokesman

A while ago Donald Clegg posted an article in the Spokesman-Review titled “Atheist can hold high standard of morality without faith”. As the title suggests his argument is that atheists can be moral without faith.

There were two responses posted to Mr. Clegg’s article in the Spokesman. You can read them here and here. I may be oversimplifying their responses, but they both boil down to the same point: that we possess moral standards is proof of God. One of the articles was certainly referring to the Biblical God and we can probably assume the same is true of the other.

If God imbued us with morals you would think He would have given us all the same morals. But if you look around the world throughout history that obviously isn’t the case. The fact is that we don’t all share the same morals. Will anyone really say that pacifist Quakers and British imperialists share the same morals? If that’s the case then one of those groups is going against their moral inclinations. While we all have our moral “slip-ups” I personally can’t imagine violating my morals day in and day out.

If God dictated our morals to us wouldn’t that violate free will? I know that in the Bible He, supposedly, explains what is moral and what is not and we are given the choice of whether or not to follow it. But it seems that if He implanted a conscience in our head that forces us to want to live by His morals that would take at least some of the choice away.

To the question of where do morals and the conscience come from I think we can look to Evolutionary Psychology (EP). If evolution via natural selection shaped our bodies then maybe it also shaped our minds. For more info about EP you can check out the Evolutionary Psychology Journal.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Petition Amnesty International

First and foremost I need to credit Mark (Libertas et memoria) with this find, I read it first on his blog. So a couple links for you. First check out the article that Christopher Hitchens wrote about Amnesty International here. Then read Gita Saghal's supporters website here. And finally if you agree, you can sign a petition to Amnesty here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Westboro Baptist Church

Got this link on Dawkin's website.

Westboro Baptist Church showed up to protest in front of Twitter’s San Francisco office on Thursday, but found themselves severely outnumbered by a crowd of absurdist pranksters, including guest blogger EDW Lynch above.

Read the rest at Laughing Squid.