Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why Fabio is an atheist

Fabio Jardim has a guest post on Pharyngula explaining why he's an atheist. His post and my comments:


Why I Am an Atheist – Fábio Jardim
January 1, 2012 at 9:09 am PZ Myers

I’m an atheist because I want to live my life honestly, not only in deed but in thought.

What "honesty" has to do with atheism is unclear. I guess it's more "honest" to deny ultimate purpose or meaning in existence. Of course, the intent to be honest is to act for a purpose, which atheists deny exists, at least ultimately. So Fabio's own purpose is thus fabricated, having no basis in ultimate reality. So Fabio believes that faking purpose in life is living honestly. I feel dizzy.

I used to be an enthusiastic catholic boy. The notion of an ordered universe, with a clear cause and effect for both good and bad things, was immensely appealing.
Does Fabio really think that Catholicism teaches that good and bad things have clear cause and effect? Catholic moral theology teaches the subtlety of motives, conscience, and discernment of God's will.
Ironically, it was catholic school that stomped that belief out of me. First in showing how the actually engaging, intelligent teachers got frustrated and stonewalled by the older, conservative dogmatists, and eventually how even the best of them could only offer non-answers or cruel ignorance when confronted with any meaningful question.
Maybe the engaging intelligent teachers offered only non-answers and cruel ignorance because they weren't so wise, and imprudently dismissed the "older, conservative dogmatists", who had deeper insight than they had.
Children actually have a good bullshit detector, and mine was always reading off the scale, all the time.
Characteristically, atheists extol their hyperacute childhood bullshit detector-- "when I was twelve years old I saw through it all..."-- but the detector runs out of batteries about the time they become atheists. "Stuff happened" is the atheist explanation for existence. Note to atheists: replace the batteries, and ask the same questions of your nihilism that you asked of the belief that existence has meaning.
My father actually helped, and not by accident. Like me, he was a catholic school student growing up; since they get colossal tax breaks, they actually offered decent education, comparable to the expensive private schools, for a very affordable price.
Fabio, the excellent education offered by Catholic schools is because of those "older, conservative dogmatists".
So when my dad was confronted with the choice of putting me in a lousy school or try to give me a better shot even if it came with religious strings attached…he decided that since he survived it without too many scars, so could I.
That's right, Fabio. Meticulously avoid making the obvious connection between the excellent education and the religious strings. It's not a contradiction. It's cause and effect. The Church has educated the West for a thousand years. Classical learning was preserved by monks. The modern university system derives from Catholic and Protestant universities, which were the first real universities. The Jesuits are master teachers, and educated countless generations in the West. Excellent education has long had religious strings. Christian strings, Fabio.
He was right, but not for the reasons he thought. My father came out of catholic school a faint deist, perhaps, with a somewhat comical distrust of clergy. He doesn’t think much about it.
I found the library and became an early history buff. I learned about Phoenicians and ancient greek and romans, and all the gods they believed in, with as much fervor as any christian or muslim of our times, and about as much proof. Even the funny gauls in the Asterix comics had a roster of deities as believable as the Christ being used to officiate marriages, fight sin and give us our morals.
In other words, you put your excellent Catholic education to good use, and started asking questions. Did you forget to thank those "older, conservative dogmatists" for equipping you so well?

Becoming a teenager, I kept waiting for the excuses and dogma to make sense, as if it was my failure to trust them that caused any confusion.
You were asked to understand, not to trust. Faith is fidelity to understanding arrived at by weighing necessarily incomplete evidence. Faith has nothing to do with blind trust. You still have a prepubescent understanding of faith, Fabio.
But it only got worse. Seeing priests and religious people passing both judgment and comfort in the name of something so tenuous felt increasingly uncomfortable, then repulsive.
Perhaps you found it repulsive because you didn't understand it, and they did. But I guess it's not possible that a teenager would understand less than old conservative people.
It’s odd how you don’t really feel how omnipresent religious presence (and pressure)in society is until you start to doubt, and it was a disquieting time, to say the least.
You can go to many places in the world unstained by religious presence. They're hellholes.
It wasn’t until I leafed through Carl Sagan’s A Demon-Haunted World in high school that I finally saw I wasn’t alone.
Sagan isn't alone now either. He's surprised, but not alone.
Ironically, I heard about it from a friend who had thoroughly misread the book and thought it was a vindication for superstition and pseudo-science (“He says there are demons in the world! And he tells of how he could remotely see the war in Europe from the USA as a kid!”).
Your friend must have been educated in a public school.
It wasn’t an overt defense of atheism, and that made it even better. It showed me that there were other people in the world saying “They don’t really know. All the mystics and priests and holy books do not have the automatic claim to truth and respect they try to claim”, and it was educated, respectable people saying so.
Of course they don't have automatic claim to truth. Each of us has to evaluate evidence for himself. To do so, you need to understand the issues. The more I learn about the issues, the more I respect mystics and priests and the Bible. And the less I respect atheists.
And so I stopped even pretending to believe.
Never pretend. But you need to strive to understand.
If I do anything praiseworthy or noble to and for others, I want it to be due to my empathy and commitment, not to earn points with some vague, unearthly being, nor to advertise my piety to my religious tribe or convert others.
All good Christian moral principles. Atheist moral codes are generally Christian knock-offs. Atheists generally lack the insight or integrity to admit the obvious source for their moral insight.
And if I ever do anyone harm, the responsibility is also mine.
Do Christians teach otherwise?
There doesn’t need to be anything more attached to that premise. It works fine without theistic add-ons and glitter.
Without God, there is no basis for objective morality. Atheists have no choice but to acknowledge that if atheism is true, morality is a subjective human invention. Atheist morality is opinion, nothing more. If you believe that some things are genuinely right and some things are genuinely wrong, you can't account that without acknowledging a Source for morality that transcends man.
Brazil used to be overwhelming Catholic, but now evangelical Protestantism is putting a large dent into that and in turn making the Catholic church more obstinate in its pursuits.
Protestantism has added some needed vitality to Christ's Body in many parts of the world. I had the privilege of participating in a beautiful Protestant worship service in Hungary several years ago. It is good for all, Catholics and Protestants alike.
It’s not a good shift for the non-religious here.
Yea. Other people believing other things has always enraged atheists.
Popular television anchors say on the air here that all the criminals in prison are atheists and only get more fame out of the deal.
The belief that there is no objective moral law and no ultimate accountability for immoral acts is a formula for criminal behavior. Can't imagine what that would have to do with atheism.
I’d never say atheists and agnostics here have it worse than anywhere else; not even close.
Atheists and agnostics don't "have it worse" anywhere. There have been tens of millions of Christian martyrs in the past century alone. There have been no atheist martyrs. Atheists are the least oppressed people on earth.

Atheists are the oppressors, not the oppressed. The Christian martyrs were murdered mostly by atheists. If you're going to join the club, learn its history.

But it’s still seen as synonymous with evil and immorality,
Wonder why?
and it’s going to stay that way for a good bit yet. I’ve lost girlfriends when I told them of my lack of faith.
Perhaps they understand things that you don't.
But I don’t believe in hiding it. There’s a lot of comfort and not a small amount of pride in knowing that whatever friends, ideas and respect you have, you came by it being honest to yourself.
Fábio Jardim
Especially pride, which is what atheism is all about. Try examining atheism with the same "honesty" with which you examine Christianity. Question everything, Fabio, and remain faithful to what genuine insight you find.

You haven't found much insight so far.


  1. Your comments would be more intelligent (not actually intelligent, just more) if you provided evidence that God exists, that Jesus was actually resurrected, that the Trinity is actually rational. That Christianity is true...

    Atheists reject religion because there's no evidence for the existence of god(s). God is progressively disappearing from the Universe as we find better explanations. God used to walk on the ground appearing to Adam and Eve, then later only appearing from behind. Later appearing in burning bushes. And nowadays appearing only as Jesus in such items as toasted cheese sandwiches.

    All you've done is making unsupported assertions. What evidence do you have that Carl Sagan is now not alone but surprised?

    'Objective' doesn't mean god-given. You can't make up your own definitions.

    Communism killed a lot of people. It was an odious ideology as practiced. But it was ideology that resulted in human death. Atheism isn't an ideology - it's a worldview; there's no god(s).

    North Korea is a hellhole agreed, but because of its bizarre Communist ideology. There are a much larger number of hellholes around the world which are actually strongly religious. Angola for one, with 50% of its population Roman Catholic. Countries become hellholes because of their history, not because of their religion or lack thereof.

  2. Typical internet atheist all-but-mindless rationalization: the best that can be said of it is that it is jejune.

    And then there are the village-atheists-with-ethernet who buzz about on you blog: they make the jejune 'Fabio' look mature in contrast.

    1. llion,

      Care to learn some English, so that your comments actually make some sense?

  3. Maybe the engaging intelligent teachers offered only non-answers and cruel ignorance

    And once again, you demonstrate that you are colossally ignorant. Fabio isn't saying that the engaging intelligent teachers offered only non-answers and cruel ignorance. he's saying that the conservative dogmatists did so.

    Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit. Maybe that's why you fail to understand things like basic science.

  4. Right. If you visit a prison, all you see are inmates praying, doing the Rosary, etc.

    What crap. The study you cite is bullshit that no one believes. If you define "atheist" as a middle-aged academic evolutionary biologist and "religious" as anyone who might believe in God maybe, your "study" might work. I've looked at the study you refer to, and I'm not impressed.

    What is true without doubt is that Democrats are astronomically more likely to be in prison than Republicans. That's why the dems actively recruit the felon vote. It's what gave Al Franken his fradulent vote and Senate seat in Minnesota-- 1000 felons who voted illegally.

    Franken's election by voter fraud was essential for passage of Obamacare.

    You always know which party felons are voting for.

  5. The study you cite is bullshit that no one believes.

    No. It is not a study. It is a report from the Federal Bureau of Prisons which details how the religious affiliations of actual prisoners breaks down. As in, not a study, but instead the actual data about prisoners.

    But you didn't know that. Which is unsurprising, since you appear to be virtually illiterate and prone to lying about everything you disagree with. You just hate the fact that the evidence is against the fairy tales you wish were true.

  6. If you visit a prison, all you see are inmates praying, doing the Rosary, etc.

    If you think you wouldn't, you haven't visited a prison lately. Or ever.

  7. [It is a report from the Federal Bureau of Prisons which details how the religious affiliations of actual prisoners breaks down. As in, not a study, but instead the actual data about prisoners.]


  8. "But it only got worse. Seeing priests and religious people passing both judgment and comfort in the name of something so tenuous felt increasingly uncomfortable, then repulsive."

    Oh, hell! We *all* know (including the trollish 'atheists' who can't seem to stay away from your blog) that Fabio was "repelled" at being told, "No, actually, you're not allowed to use God's Creatures, whether that girl over there (or that boy), or yourself, as pieces of meat."

    We *all* know that what it boils down to is that Fabio wants to **** without moral censure.

  9. Here's a reference on the fake atheist-prison stats that might help clear things up:

    "It seems Swift misrepresented the data.

    So in other words, the actual number of atheists is about a quarter as high as the Christians. It's not this tiny 0.something percent, it's actually pretty high.
    It's pretty clear he fabricated the data. These mistakes are too far off to be merely mistakes in recording."

  10. mregnor "That's why the dems actively recruit the felon vote."
    Those monsters! It's almost as though they think ex-cons are citizens, too!

    "It's what gave Al Franken his fradulent vote and Senate seat in Minnesota-- 1000 felons who voted illegally."
    No. Also, No. And, lastly, no.

  11. It seems Swift misrepresented the data.

    From a biased site that can't even figure out how to do basic HTML formatting. Yeah, that's credible.