This Week in Atheism 2018–05–27
“The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, always ready to create a controversy where none exists, claims in a press release that the media is covering up the Santa Fe High School shooter’s atheism. His headline even reads, “MEDIA COVER UP TEXAS KILLER’S ATHEISM.”
That’s not true. You know how I know that? Because I read Donohue’s press release, which includes this line:
The only big media outlets that reported on his atheism were the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.
What a cover-up! The only people talking about it are TWO GIANT MEDIA OUTLETS.
There’s another reason the shooter’s atheism wasn’t mentioned in a lot of the news coverage, though, and it’s not because everyone’s trying to hide something.
It’s because it’s Just. Not. Relevant.”
“Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) founded Jichojipya (meaning with new eye) to “Think Anew”. He is the Founder of Jicho Jipya/Think Anew Tanzania. We have talked before about freethought in Tanzania. Here we talk about atheist thinkers in Tanzania and atheist thinkers and literature.
Nsajigwa talked about an individual elder in the Tanzanian community, who was known as a public figure. His name is Kingunge Ngombale-Mwilu. In Tanzania, and an important point for even some more developed countries, Ngombale-Mwilu is the only person known, in a public position, to be sworn in without holding a Bible or a Quran.
Since Tanzanian independence, he has served in top ranking positions as a minister of the state. “That is, how we suspected him to be a nonbeliever and on interviewing him recently he came out as such, a freethinker who is Agnostic (though our society thought of him as a socialist communist),” Nsajigwa explained.”
“The steady decline of religion in the Western world is being mirrored by the growth of so-called atheist churches, statistics show.
According to the Washington DC-based Pew Research Center, the religiously unaffiliated are now the second-largest religious group in North America and most of Europe.
A study by theology professor Stephen Bullivant, from St Mary’s University in London, found that more than half of the UK’s population does not identify as religious. “The rise of the non-religious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century or so,” Bullivant says in the introduction to his report, titled The ‘No Religion’ Population of Britain.
At the same time, there has been a growth in the number of atheist churches, which aim to replicate much of the church service atmosphere but without the religion.
A “small subset of those people who have lost their faith in a supernatural being still want the community spirit and behavioural norms that go with religious experience”, Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in California, told The Economist.
But what are atheist churches and what do they offer the people who attend them?”
“The news media and the pundits are wading through another fog trying to figure out why the latest serial killer went on a rampage. As a sociologist who has written on this subject before, I can attest that serial killers have much in common, and this is especially true of young killers.
To begin with, let’s dispense with a popular myth about the latest tragedy. Contrary to what most are saying, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the killer who shot his victims at Sante Fe High School, did evince warning signs.
Soon after 10 innocent persons were shot dead, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “The red-flag warnings were either nonexistent or imperceptible.” He was fed the wrong information.
A few weeks before the shooting, there were at least three perceptible signs of trouble: Pagourtzis made two alarming changes on his Facebook page, and, more importantly, he threatened to kill someone.
For example, he posted a picture of a black T-shirt on his Facebook page with the words “BORN TO KILL” on it. On the same day, he posted a picture of a jacket with genocidal symbols on it: the hammer and sickle of the Communist Party, and the Nazi Iron Cross of Germany’s Fascist regime. These two postings were obvious signs that something was wrong.
Then there is the tragic case of Shana Fisher. Two weeks before Pagourtzis shot her, he told the 16-year-old student that he was going to kill her. She told both of her parents. According to her father, who did not live with either his daughter or his ex-wife (he had remarried 13 years earlier), “He [Pagourtzis] had told her himself he was going to kill her. He was walking around planning this in his head for weeks.””
“P.Z. Myers is an atheist Darwinist biologist who has turned sour on the New Atheist movement. Two cheers for his candor. He quotes another atheist activist, Eiynah, who writes:
It’s quite depressing that movement Atheism has turned into such a joke. I valued it so much once.
Professors Myers agrees about the “shambles [that] movement atheism is in right now”:
OK, that’s eerie — it’s the same scene, only about 5 years later, with different players. I noticed the “troubling turn” about 8 years ago, as more and more atheists began to rally around two themes: the Glorious Leaders who were fonts of inarguable Reason & Logic, and a definition of atheism that exempted them from all social responsibility or ethical obligation. The other big difference was that unlike Eiynah, I resisted criticizing with the excuses of #NotAllAtheists and they’ll outgrow the regressive social tendencies if we just keep trying. I was wrong. And it is quite depressing.
There’s some inside-baseball discussion of big names in the atheist firmament that have fallen to the earth, or are believed to have otherwise somehow betrayed their followers.”
“Jordan Peterson’s main problem with atheism, as can be seen from the below clip, is that atheism is, supposedly, morally bankrupt. The problem, he claims, is that atheism doesn’t have any grounding in morality. If you’re a “radical atheist,” he says, why not kill? Why not steal? Why not transgress? The only thing holding anyone back would be traditional Western morality, but in the scheme of atheism, without a personified foundation, this morality has no teeth or fundamental reliability.
This translates to a confusion, on his part, as to why atheists would want to do good — why not, he says, act in our own self-interest? Why not be psychopathic? Why not be completely and thoroughly selfish?
My response is that most of us are not psychopaths. Most of us care about each other and, in addition, acting as if we don’t will lead to mutually assured destruction. Sure, we all bend the rules a bit here and there, inevitably. But most of us care about other people beside ourselves — especially those among us who make us where we are, who allow us to recognize ourselves and our position in the world, or who we respect and admire as beautiful.
That’s something I’ve found about being an atheist — for me, other people replaced God as the foundation of places I find my worth and value.”