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September 2013 Blog Posts (16)

My atheism is about a lack of need for gods, not just a lack of belief in gods.

As a sociologist, I can not rely on naturalism or materialism (especially methodological naturalism).

The study of social life would be impossible from any of those positions.

Thus it is important to understand the epistemological and ontological basis of all worldviews, even if they do not lead to truth. It is enough that people believe them to be true (because sociology is not about truth, but about how people make sense of the world.

Having said that:…


Added by Justin Murray on September 20, 2013 at 7:56am — 1 Comment

Is religion a form of abuse?

Is religion a form of abuse?

Having recently spent quite a bit of time looking closely at the doctrines of a wide range of religions, I have come to the conclusion that most follow the same pattern:

1. An authority figure makes a claim that the individual is in some way flawed or dependent on a supernatural entity;

2. The authority figure make the claim that only they have special access to that supernatural entity;

3. The individual is thus convinced they are…


Added by Justin Murray on September 20, 2013 at 6:46am — 2 Comments

Everyday Religious Practice 5: The Power of Ritual in the Catholic Mass and a Sense of Place.

"...if not for the women of this church, it would be poorer. So we acknowledge the role of these women who serve us with enthusiasm.” Different man in many layers


Again I let go of my skepticism about gods and let the power of the ritual of the Catholic Mass surround me.


I meet a skinny man who had been going to this church since 1961. Not this exact building, but the same precinct. The building in which we chat now has been a school chapel, a school house and…


Added by Justin Murray on September 20, 2013 at 12:30am — No Comments

What does it mean to have faith?

What does it mean to have faith?
For me, when I was a believer, faith is accepting something as true without ever looking for…

Added by Justin Murray on September 16, 2013 at 8:30pm — No Comments

Everyday Religous Practice 4: Church for Agnostics? The slow decline of a Unitarian Universalist community.

“Once you give up one doctrine, it is easier to give all of them up. I am an agnostic.” Man with beard.

It is almost redundant to say that 25 years is a long time. It has taken a complete break from my routinised everyday life to make me realise this. At the time that I left the Catholic church, there were many worshippers and many services on both Saturday and Sunday. I remember regularly attending the…


Added by Justin Murray on September 15, 2013 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Explain That!

"So, you're an Atheist/Scientist/Rationalist/Skeptic, eh?"

"Yes... And?"

"I saw a ghost - EXPLAIN THAT!"


If something similar hasn't happened to you guys yet (assuming you're all 'Atheists/Scientists/Rationalists/Skeptics', which I hope isn't necessarily the…


Added by Carnun on September 14, 2013 at 5:58pm — 4 Comments

Atheism and the strawman of cultural relativism

As an atheist and a trained sociologist, I fail to see any evidence for innate human rights (what some may call natural rights). While I personally agree that all humans should be extended equal rights  and that this should occur in all places and at all times. Yet, at the moment there is no evidence that such origins of such rights are to be found in either biology or human nature (if there is such a thing).…


Added by Justin Murray on September 11, 2013 at 9:27pm — 1 Comment

Are men obsolete?

Given that the tasks for which men may have been necessary no longer require them (via the invention of IVF, vibrators, the mechanisation of typically masculine work, the ability of women to work & jar opening technology), can we say that men (in the roles by which they have traditionally been known) are obsolete?

Partly a joke (at least the jar opening bit), but mostly serious.

The 21st century may be a good…

Added by Justin Murray on September 11, 2013 at 9:26pm — No Comments

Sociology of Irreligion

As a sociologist, I have been wondering about the sociological aspects of irreligion, with key questions like:

· under what conditions is it safe to come out as an atheist?


Added by Justin Murray on September 11, 2013 at 9:25pm — 1 Comment

What is antihumanism?

My introduction to antihumanism came though reading Heidgger, Marx and Michel Foucault. But they are not really a great place to start for a…


Added by Justin Murray on September 11, 2013 at 9:25pm — No Comments

Religiousity, death and utility in life

Reading "A Model of Religion and Death" by Derek Pyne.


He is trying to make sense of why fear of death is strongest in those with lower levels of religiousity. And  whay it is low in those no religiousity (atheists) and very high religiousity.


I think the take home mesage is, in my words:


"Atheists have everything to gain in life and nothing to lose in death."


"Theists who think they’ll go to heaven have little to nothing to…


Added by Justin Murray on September 11, 2013 at 9:23pm — No Comments

God is a woman? Gender identity, biological sex and the trans man Godess.

Just a small thing that has troubled me for some time - it may seen like a joke, but I'm genuinely curious.


In the catholic faith (the only one I know), god is always referred to as a man (He, the Father, et cetera...) and the only woman prayed to is Mary (not a godess, but as the mother of Jesus, son of god). This always appeared to me to be a way to make women into second class members of the church (that and a whole lot of other things in the catholic…


Added by Justin Murray on September 11, 2013 at 9:22pm — 1 Comment

Everyday Religious Practice 3: Contesting Authenticity: Distant relatives and the Catholic Latin Mass

On an unseasonable warm spring day, a man dressed in a multiple layers of clothes: black coat, covered with flowing white robes and a scarlet red poncho, stands in front of a crowd. Behind him is a towering statue of a Jewish man who was believed to live 2000 years ago, and who was tortured to death by the soldiers of the Roman Empire. The man dressed in multiple layers believes that the statue represents one part of a three part deity that he worships. To his left is another statue, a…


Added by Justin Murray on September 10, 2013 at 12:30am — No Comments

Everyday Religious Practice 2: The Uniting Church and Surrendering

Everyday Religious Practice 2: The Uniting Church and Surrendering

“If you sin… God loves you. If you are kind… God loves you. If you are selfish… God loves you. If you follow all the commandments in the Bible… God loves you.”


I am nervous, very nervous. There is no need to be. I am about to enter a building where people talk about love. They smile, sing and clap hands. It is a friendly place.


But there are other things there, invisible things.…


Added by Justin Murray on September 10, 2013 at 12:00am — No Comments

Secular Party of America Rallies as National Sponsor of Apostacon

The Secular Party of America is proud to announce their becoming a major sponsor of Apostacon, the 5th annual Midwest Freethought Conference. Apostacon will be held September 20-22 in Omaha, Nebraska and has been organized by the Omaha Coalition of Reason, who welcomes the Secular Party of America.

“Thanks to a generous anonymous donation from one of our members we…


Added by Secular Party of America on September 5, 2013 at 10:55pm — No Comments

Atheists and fortune

I have recently written a blog post as a response to a theist who claims that the atheist is the most unfortunate person. He writes the atheist's life is devoid of wonder, love, hope, happiness and mystery. That we serve a tyrant? he didn't say which and that only god would remedy this malady.

Faith, I bet faith in god, is touted as the greatest thing one can have and since the atheist doesn't have it, he is miserable creature. Natural processes, we are told are devoid of wonder and…


Added by Onyango Makagutu on September 3, 2013 at 8:26am — 3 Comments

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