Tag Archives: atheism

Atheists to Remember: Marie Curie

Marie Curie, née Maria Sklodowska, was born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867. She abandoned her family’s Roman Catholicism to become an agnostic as a teenager and received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. In 1891, she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne where she obtained Licenciateships in Physics and the Mathematical Sciences. She met Pierre Curie, Professor in the School of Physics in 1894 and in the following year they were married.

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Marie broke many barriers for her sex, becoming the first European woman to earn a science doctorate. She is most notable for the discovery of polonium, radium, and coining the term “radioactive.” Together with her husband, she was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, for their study into the spontaneous radiation discovered by Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of the Prize.

In 1906, her husband Pierre was tragically run over and killed. Marie took over his professorship of general physics, winning another first for women. When she won the 1911 Nobel Prize for chemistry, she was the first person, male or female, to have received two Nobel Prizes. Despite the impressive feat of being the first person to ever win two Nobel Prizes, she was barred as a woman from the Academy of Sciences, which was an all-male organization. Marie continued on to become the director of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute of the University of Paris in 1914.

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The importance of Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. In addition to the two Nobel Prizes, she also received, jointly with her husband, the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1903 and, in 1921, President Harding of the United States, on behalf of the women of America, presented her with one gram of radium in recognition of her service to science. In August 1922, Marie Curie became a member of the newly created International Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations. In 1924, she penned “What Do I Read Next”, a memoir of Pierre Curie. In the memoir she stated, “Pierre belonged to no religion and I did not practice any.”

In 1925, she visited Poland, to participate in the ceremony that laid foundations for the Radium Institute in Warsaw. Her second American tour in 1929, succeeded in equipping the Warsaw Radium Institute with radium; President Hoover of the United States presented her with a gift of $50,000, donated by American friends of science, to purchase radium for use in the laboratory in Warsaw. The Warsaw Radium Institute was opened in 1932 and her sister Bronisława became its director. In 1930, Marie was elected a member of the International Atomic Weights Committee where she served until her death.

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Throughout her life, Marie actively promoted the use of radium to alleviate suffering and during World War I, assisted by her daughter, Irene, she personally devoted herself to this remedial work. She spent much of the remainder of her life pursuing her humanitarian goal of “easing human suffering.” Due to repeated and long term exposure to radiation, Marie died in 1934, at age 67, of leukemia. She became the first woman to be interred at the Pantheon on her own merits.

In her final moments, Marie worked on a book, “Radioactivity”, which was published after her death. The following year, Curie’s oldest daughter, Irene, with her husband Frederic Joliot-Curie, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for work in artificial radioactivity. Eve Curie, in her memoir of her mother, Mme. Curie (1937), described all of her family members as rationalists.

“Marie Curie is, of all celebrated beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted.” –Albert Einstein

Let us never forget those who sacrificed it all to make the world a better place, not for a posthumous reward, but for the sake of being good.

Sources:

http://www.nobelprize.org/

http://www.ffrf.org/

 


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Athemyths: Without God, There is No Purpose!

A recurring myth among religious individuals is that without God, life has no meaning or purpose. There are many reasons why a theist may hold this idea, none of which are grounded in reality. This is usually a refusal to accept death as the ultimate end and an appeal to emotion, in which a person assumes that their life has a meaning or a purpose given by God or presumes that there is an objective meaning to life.

First, there is no evidence that there is any objective meaning to life and it cannot be established with any epistemic certainty. Testimonies do not hold up to scrutiny as they are subject to the myriad biases of your brain. Holy texts are riddled with contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright falsities. Until there is a reliable means of establishing an objective meaning of life that provides substantial evidence, the appropriate response is to suspend judgment. Sure, it is an uncomfortable thought to some that there might not be any objective purpose to life, but the inability to accept this does not mean that we should adopt fallacious concepts to satisfy our ego.

Second, there are many people that do not believe in your deity, or any deity, and it would be preposterous to claim that the 1.2 billion Chinese who have no predominant religion, or the millions of people who claim to be nonbelievers, are not leading meaningful lives. The existence of a god is not required in order to have a meaning or purpose in life. Meaning is subjective. What you find meaningful someone else may not. There is plenty of meaning to be found in literature, music, science, and human connection, to name a few. To think that these things somehow lose their meaning if there is no god is absolutely absurd.

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Finally, this myth presupposes that the god given objective meaning or purpose in life aligns with their own. What if it doesn’t? Without evidence to support the claim, there is no way to know if your subjective meaning or purpose of life coincides with any objective meaning or purpose of life. Most Abrahamic religions hold that the purpose of life is to serve God. What good is life if you are going to spend it grovelling in fear at the feet of a celestial dictator? What good is life if your only purpose is to worship, praise, and be a subservient slave to a cosmic master? Would you accept that same purpose if it were a terrestrial dictator or master? If God is the ultimate embodiment of love why isn’t he held to a higher standard?

As an atheist, I have everything to live for and nothing to die for. The finality of life is exactly what gives life meaning. Death only appears on the surface to invalidate any meaning or purpose of life because it seems to give rise to an idea that there is no reason to do anything all, like garner knowledge or improve the self, if we are going to die anyway. However, there is a point to garnering knowledge or improving the self and that purpose is to enjoy life. The very finite nature of life prevents us from knowing and experiencing everything our world has to offer. That ephemeral epiphany allows us to relish in the moment, whether it be the laugh of an elderly loved one or the taste of your favorite food. These things matter and have value because the opportunity to experience them is finite in nature.

Suspending the real fantasy, the thing we call life, and devaluing your earthly life, the only guaranteed life that you have, is truly living without a purpose or meaning. That would make religious believers that perpetuate this myth the real nihilists.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts

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5 Dumbass Comments of the Week #10 with Lee Lemon

Join Lee Lemon (@LemonLifts), the Godless Engineer (@godlessengineer), and Aeolus (@GodWorksOut) as they take on the 5 Dumbass Comments of the Week!

At 4:16, a Muslim says that we are lost and rebellious meaning Allah must send us to hell. He ends his comment on an argument from design.

At 23:51, two theists accuse us of taking a specific passage out of context and trying to destroy other people’s spirituality.

At 39:50, a theist finds it funny that we spend so much time on something we don’t believe and asks why do atheists care so much about what other people believe.

At 1:03:45, a Christian declares that Christians are discriminated against, no one discriminates against Muslims, and atheists are all idiots.

At 1:16:35, a theist says that it is stupid that science can’t figure out why cells age and you are going to die, but god has been telling you all along why you are going to die.


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dumbass

When feminism borders on religion

So, Richard Dawkins was disinvited from a speaking engagement for the Northeast Conference of Science and Skepticism because he shared a video by SyeTenAtheist lampooning radical feminism by comparing it to Islamism. Whether or not you agree with the decision, it’s theirs to make. They don’t owe Dawkins anything. That being said:

SyeTenAtheist lampoons a lot of people. Usually it is theists, be they famous creationists or apologists, or even YouTube evangelists who are well-known in atheist circles. Granted, this video is hyperbolic, but his videos are always over the top. That’s just his style. He uses heavy satire to make valid points.

I don’t see how mocking a radical feminist (keep in mind that many people who believe in and fight for equality amongst the sexes are “feminist” under that definition, but don’t identify as “feminist” because of the stigma that gets attached due to radical feminists) is promoting rape or misogyny. Ideas are not immune from criticism. As atheists, you should be well aware of this. Just because someone is a feminist, that doesn’t mean their arguments are unassailable or can’t be criticized. It’s dangerously close to religious dogma when others come to the defense of even extremist feminists simply because they share a label. That’s the point that’s being made in this video. That extreme feminism is reminiscent of extreme religion (in this case, Islam). Of course he’s not implying that feminists actually love Islamism or its misogynistic tenets.

Atheists often compare Christian fundies to Islamists in the US, saying things like “Christian Sharia” to refer to attempts to put Christian dogma into government. Again, this is hyperbolic, as Christianity is generally more benign, but it doesn’t change the fact that both Islamists and Christian fundies want theocracies. This is in a similar vain to this video.

The fact that people would call this video “misogynistic” proves the very point it is making. Anyone who criticizes Islam is called an Islamophobe by apologists for Islam, oftentimes because they mistake criticism of ideas as attack on those who hold them, or even the entire culture.

 

Here’s the video: Feminists Love Islamists

5 Dumbass Comments of the Week #6

5 Dumbass Comments of the Week #6

This week I am joined by the Godless Engineer as we take on the dumbest comments that we could find this week.

At 1:42, a theist claims that he has undeniable evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that gives 100% proof that God exists, but first he says that we must give him 1 solid reason why he should not kill us first.

At 8:05, a theist says that atheists always try to make creationists prove that god exists, but that atheists never try to disprove god first.

At 18:25, a theist says there are only three reasons why the universe is even here and that everyone must choose.

At 25:48, a theist says that the Bible is a peerless example of a book which has maintained relevance over 1,000s of years and that the main thrust of its message could not be more clear.

At 37:30, a theist says that all these theories; like the Big Bang and evolution, are theories that do not intersect with his religion and his “One Rational God.”


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Christian Persecution or Christian Privilege?

Most people are so oblivious to their Christian privilege that they have never thought to look at it from another perspective. Imagine that Islam was being pushed on you and your children against your will and that when you spoke out against it they cried “persecution!” Yes, somehow, when we ask you to keep your religion to yourself and out of everything that affects everyone else, you claim to be “persecuted.”

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Christians are so persecuted that they can expect time off for “religious holidays” and they are never pressured into celebrating a religious holiday outside of their own religion. Christians are so persecuted that they can readily find music and television programs pertaining to Christianity without fear of ever coming into contact with any from another religion. Christians are so persecuted that they can worship freely without any fear of threats, violence, or being socially stigmatized or disowned by family and friends.

Christians are so persecuted that it is almost guaranteed that the politician representing them or their area will be a member of their religion. Christians are so persecuted that they don’t have to fear losing their jobs due to their religion and people will not judge them in the workplace based on their beliefs. Christians are so persecuted that references to their beliefs can be seen every day by everyone, such as billboards, churches, and more. Christians are so persecuted that they can pretty much guarantee that anyone they come into contact with will have a decent understanding of their beliefs.

Christians are so persecuted that their faith can be an aspect of their identity without it being a defining aspect (e.g., people won’t think of you as their “Christian” friend like they would their “atheist” friend). Christians are so persecuted that they can complain about being “persecuted” and their religion being under attack without it being perceived as an attack on another religion. Almost like how someone is going to view this as an attack on Christians and Christianity. Almost, but not quite.

That’s only naming a few of the ways in which Christians are “persecuted”, yet they cling to this incessant idea that they are persecuted. When do they feel most persecuted and oppressed? When other people do not share their belief system! On closer examination of this “oppression”, it’s more commonly the case that claims of persecution are better explained as annoyance at the removal of privilege or the curtailment of their ability to force their views on others.

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Everyone has the freedom of expression. There are still consequences to the expression. There are still legal limits to the expression. Your rights and freedom of expression end abruptly where mine begin. This perception of freedom of expression was well addressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes when he said, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

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Recognize that you have privilege. You are not being persecuted, but you are persecuting others. I am going to end this post on two amazing quotes that address this issue perfectly. Enjoy!

“…one of the great secrets of human nature is that the one thing people want more than love, security, sex, chocolate or big-screen TV’s is to feel hard done by. Why? Because being hard done by is the shit. Feeling hard done by is the sweetest of drugs. If you’re being persecuted — it must mean you’re doing the right thing, right? You get the mellow buzz of the moral high ground, but without arrogantly claiming it as your own. You get an instant, supportive community in a big dark scary world of such scope it may well literally be beyond rational human processing. When you are hard done by, you get purpose in a life where otherwise, you’d have to find your own. And when you ride that high, then no amount of logic, no pointing out that in actuality you and your beliefs are at a high point of popularity and influence for the last hundred years — is going to pry that sweet crack-pipe of moral indignation from your hands.” —John Rogers

“Racism tends to attract attention when it’s flagrant and filled with invective. But like all bigotry, the most potent component of racism is frame-flipping — positioning the bigot as the actual victim. So the gay do not simply want to marry; they want to convert our children into sin. The Jews do not merely want to be left in peace; they actually are plotting world take-over. And the blacks are not actually victims of American power, but beneficiaries of the war against hard-working whites. This is a respectable, more sensible, bigotry, one that does not seek to name-call, preferring instead change the subject and straw man. Thus segregation wasn’t necessary to keep the niggers in line; it was necessary to protect the honor of white women.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates

Some of this script was adapted from a wonderful post called 30+ examples of Christian Privilege by Sam Killerman on It’s Pronounced Metrosexual.


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God, and the Bible, is not Prolife!!!

I saw an anti-abortion billboard this morning that said abortion is wrong because life begins at conception. It reminded me of this Neil deGrasse Tyson meme and I decided to provide some statistics to make the case that, if you believe this is true and that the Christian god is responsible for all life, your chosen deity is responsible for billions of natural abortions.

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Estimates have placed the amount of humans who have ever lived around 100 billion. Anywhere between 10-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. In fact, approximately 30-40% of all fertilized eggs miscarry, often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. With just some simple math we can see that billions have been naturally aborted throughout human history. That’s being generous too, since our ancestors did not have access to modern medicine and had to deal with harsh conditions like diseases, infections, and malnutrition.

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Let’s get more specific. What if you are a Christian who believes the Bible is the Word of God?

In Hosea 9:11-16, Hosea prays for God’s intervention. “Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, Lord: what wilt thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.” Clearly Hosea desires that the people of Ephraim be no longer able to have children. God of course obeys by making all their unborn children miscarry. Terminating a pregnancy unnaturally is abortion, right?

In Numbers 5:11-21, there is a description of a bizarre, brutal, and abusive ritual to be performed on a wife suspected of adultery. “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.” Basically, if a husband suspects his wife of adultery, he should take her to the priest and have her drink a “bitter water.” The priest will cast a curse, that she will miscarry the child if she has been unfaithful, in the name of Yahweh. Inducing a miscarriage is abortion, right?

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In Numbers 31:17, Moses gives the command, “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every women that hath known man by lying with him.” In other words, women that are with-child should be killed. Killing the mother of an unborn child is abortion, right?

In 2 Kings 15:16, God allows the pregnant women of Tappuah (aka Tiphsah) to be “ripped open”. The verse states, “At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.” Something tells me that ripping open the bellies of pregnant women might just be categorized as abortion.

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Abortion: Hosea 9:11-16, Numbers 5:11-21, Numbers 31:17, Hosea 13:16, 2 Kings 15:16

Infanticide: 1 Samuel 15:3, Psalms 135:8 & 136:10, Psalms 137:9

The murdering of children: Leviticus 20:9, Judges 11:30-40, Psalms 137:8-9, 2 Kings 6:28-29, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Judges 19:24-29, Exodus 12:29, Exodus 20:9-10, 2 Kings 2:23-24, Leviticus 26:30, 1 Samuel 15:11-18, 1 Kings 16:34, Isaiah 13:15-18, Jeremiah 11:22-23, Jeremiah 19:7-9, Lamentations 2:20-22

Child abuse: Genesis 22:9 & 10, 1 Kings 3:24-25, Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14 & 29:15, Matthew 19:29, Mark 7:9


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