Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Atheists Take to the Streets

Wake up, Americans - when will we have something like this in the U.S.??

Atheists Take to the Streets http://insidecostarica.com/special_reports/2008-09/religion_atheists.htm
"Atheism is the philosophy of those who believe there is no reason to accept that, beyond material reality, there are beings of a different nature, superior to humans, in which lie the origin and meaning of our existence"
By Diego Cevallos

MEXICO CITY (IPS) - Atheists who have built up a virtual community over the last decade will hold the "First Global Atheist March for a Secular Society" on Sunday, with the aim of defending their views and protesting that they are misinterpreted and in some cases discriminated against. The organisers say the main marches will be held in Madrid, Mexico and Lima, while demonstrations may also take place in London and Rome.

"We have decided to take to the streets to fight prejudice and discrimination against atheists, stress that although we don't believe in god, we have ethics and values, and demand that secularism should be respected," Alfredo Villegas, spokesman for the group Ateos Mexicanos (Mexican Atheists), told IPS. There are hundreds of religions in the world but only a handful of large ones, of which Christianity and Islam have the biggest numbers of followers.

Meanwhile, different studies estimate that atheists (those who deny the existence of god) and agnostics (those who believe that at our present level of knowledge we cannot know whether or not a god exists) number between 500,000 and one billion people worldwide. The "First Global Atheist March for a Secular Society" is organised by people from several different countries who over the last 10 years have established an active on-line community.

"We have been engaging in virtual communication for 10 years. But in February the idea came up to take to the streets to express our concerns, and we agreed on a date to hold our global march," said Villegas, a student of English language at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "There may not be many of us coming out on Sunday, but you have to understand that this is just a start, and that funds are scarce. Next year we’ll repeat the march, and we’ll organise seminars in universities and a world congress," said Villegas who, like most Mexicans, comes from a Catholic family.

The main organiser of the march is CyberAteos (CyberAtheists), a group that is registered as a not-for-profit association in Spain. Other participants are Ateos Mexicanos, Ateos del Perú (Atheists of Peru), the Asociación Madrileña de Ateos y Libres Pensadores (Madrid Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers), and Ateus de Catalunya (Atheists of Catalonia, a province in northeastern Spain). According to a study by Pitzer College, a private college in Claremont, California, between 15 and 24 percent of people in Spain do not believe in god.

In Mexico, 3.5 percent of the population of 104 million people said in the 2000 census carried out by the national statistics institute that they do not profess any religion. But Ateos Mexicanos says that proportion is undoubtedly much higher today. The Asociación Madrileña de Ateos y Libres Pensadores says atheists are people "who have decided to stop being slaves of religion and to exercise their own freedom."

"Atheism is the philosophy of those who believe there is no reason to accept that, beyond material reality, there are beings of a different nature, superior to humans, in which lie the origin and meaning of our existence," says the group’s web site. To be an atheist is to have "a positive mental attitude that promotes freedom of consciousness and stimulates knowledge, seeks to establish a lifestyle based on man as the motor of progress and well-being, and encourages the development of an ethical system that foments mutual respect, comprehension and tolerance," it adds.

Villegas complained that, out of ignorance, many people who are religious think atheists "don't have ethics and can't tell good from bad, when in reality most of us have strong values. "We are opposed to any religion imposing its point of view, influencing the public administration, and discriminating against atheists," he said.

The report "Discrimination Against Minority Religious Groups in Mexico 2007", by Mexico’s National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination, says that many people who belong to religions other than Roman Catholicism or who do not believe in god have problems finding stable jobs that pay decent wages." Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion," says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The "First Global Atheist March for a Secular Society", which in Mexico will be held under the name "First Global Atheist Pride March", will take place in the capital in a downtown park, the Hemiciclo a Juárez, and in the Juárez Park in the city of Guadalajara, the second-biggest city in the country.In Madrid, the Spanish capital, the march will take place in the Plaza Mayor, and in Lima, the capital of Peru, in San Martín square.

"If these atheists feel misunderstood and have a need to express themselves, I think it’s right for them to come out on the streets," Sabino Herrera, a high school philosophy teacher in the Mexican capital, told IPS. "I’m an atheist, but in my case I haven't had any need to draw attention to it as something special, although people do definitely react with surprise when I mention it," he said.

Villegas said he hoped public demonstrations by people who do not believe in god or religion or by agnostics can help build social tolerance and contribute to "toppling prejudices.""We also hope other atheists will realise they are not alone, but form part of a wide community," he added.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Addicted to God

Addicted to God
(Adapted from "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer)

Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Salvation now is what it takes

You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
You burn in hell, you can't breathe
To be reborn is what you need

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh yeah
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you know
You're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to God

You see the signs, but you can't read
Your sins are lust and greed
You heart beats in double time
Just come to Christ and you'll be mine

Surrender mind
And you'll be saved
Life after death is all you crave
If God's embrace can make you sigh
Pull out the cash for your next high

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh yeah
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you know
You're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to God

Might as well face it, you're addicted to God
Might as well face it, you're addicted to God
Might as well face it, you're addicted to God
Might as well face it, you're addicted to God

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Anthropomorphizing mystery

“We must be vigilant to discern between words that exist for imaginary things and the existence of imaginary things.” ~ LL Sovrana

Human beings have always created gods in their own image: gods with names, faces, histories, even geneaologies. We imagine ourselves, and others like ourselves, and others that might be like ourselves or even in odd combination with ourselves and other sentient creatures, and we give our imaginary productions names.

In the realm of religious belief, we see human beings who have trembled in fear of the unpredictable nature of existence. To cope with our fears, we give probability a name. A face. A family history. A mythology. We "anthropomorphize mystery."

Imaginary things are entertaining to think about, but we court danger when our own image in the mirror, our own narcissism, seduces us away from the hard work of authentic exploration.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just released! "Alpha, Omega"

Alpha, Omega is published and available for sale on Amazon.com! Here's the press release and reviews:

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2008
New Novel Explores Holy Scriptures, the Addiction of Religion

SEATTLE, Washington—Fresh from the keyboard of science-thriller writer Lori Stephens, Alpha, Omega is—like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code—fiction with a forceful message. The story starts with a corpse. A defector from a cult called Omega has bled to death, and the only clue is the book he’s clutching: the Librah Vae-ta, the holy scripture that the Omega founders engineered over a century ago. Dr. Gatsby Donovan resolves to help solve the bizarre murder. As she spirals deeper into the danger zone of spies and assassins, she discovers that the Omega script is based on the ancient languages of the Bible, Torah, and Koran.

Alpha, Omega’s back cover cautions, “WARNING! Read at your own risk!” Could the mere act of reading this novel be dangerous? Readers may wonder if the holy book in their own home libraries contains much more than maxims for living.

Alpha, Omega is an intelligent (and wild) ride through cults, religious scriptures, ancient languages, neuro-addiction, murder, betrayal, revenge, and ultimately, love. As it challenges readers to rethink the agendas of the religious organizations that have become global superpowers, it poses startling questions that deconstruct the very nature of belief.

While The Da Vinci Code asks the question, “Is our eschatological symbol for goodness who we think he is?” Alpha Omega asks “Come on now, what does it really mean to be human?”
—Decia Rowland, PhD, Scholar of Religion

Alpha, Omega will keep you on the edge of your seat.—K. McElroy

Web site: http://www.lori-stephens.com/

ISBN10: 1-4196-8925-8
ISBN13: 978-1-4196-8925-3