Matthew Wade Dillahunty is an American atheist activist. He was the president of the Atheist Community of Austin from 2006 to 2013, he has hosted the Austin-based webcast and cable-access television show The Atheist Experience since 2005, hosted the live Internet radio show Non-Prophets Radio. He is the founder of and a contributor to the counter-apologetics encyclopedia Iron Chariots and its subsidiary sites, he is engaged in formal debates and travels the United States speaking to local secular organizations and university groups as part of the Secular Student Alliance's Speakers Bureau. Alongside fellow activists Seth Andrews and Aron Ra, he traveled to Australia in March 2015 as a member of the Unholy Trinity Tour. In April 2015 he was an invited speaker at the Merseyside Skeptics Society QEDCon in Manchester, United Kingdom. Beginning in the summer of 2017, Dillahunty joined a speaking tour sponsored by the Pangburn Philosophy foundation where he shared the stage with fellow atheists Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss.
Raised Southern Baptist, Dillahunty considered becoming a minister. His religious studies, instead of bolstering his faith as he intended, led him to no longer believe in Christianity and all religions. Dillahunty spent eight years in the U. S. Navy, before leaving to work in the field of computer software design. In October 2011, he married The Atheist Experience colleague and co-host of the Godless Bitches podcast Beth Presswood. Dillahunty describes himself as a feminist. Dillahunty is one of the subjects of the 2014 documentary film My Week in Atheism by director John Christy. Dillahunty is a proponent of debates, both formal and informal, as a effective way of conveying information. "I am convinced from my experience and the evidence that I've gathered over the years of doing this that they are valuable." He has spoken at atheist and freethought conferences around the country and debated numerous Christian apologists, including Ray Comfort, David Robertson on Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable.
At the 2014 American Atheists convention in Salt Lake City, he gave a workshop that outlined some key ideas in effective debating: "Take the opponent seriously:'The audience has to sense that I can understand their views, have rejected them.' Use logic: ` I tell them. Simple: I copy it word for word, except the parts about slavery.' And don't forget emotion:'It is theater. That is my advantage with a Baptist background over someone like Richard Dawkins, although he knows more about science.'" He has stated that he is willing to say "I don't know" in a debate, a "scary concept" to some of his audience. One of Dillahunty's recurring themes has been the superiority of secular morality over religious morality, his key contentions on the issue are that secular moral systems are inclusive, encourage change, serve the interests of the participants, whereas religious moral systems serve only the interests of an external authority. He touched on the subject again at a lecture at the 2013 American Atheists Convention in Austin: "They say we're immoral, when we're the only ones who understand that morality is derived from empathy, fairness and the physical facts about interacting in this universe.
They've sacrificed their humanity on the altar of religion. They say we're lost and broken and in need of salvation, when we're the ones who are free." Dillahunty holds the view that advocating infinite reward or punishment for finite deeds is "morally inferior". Dillahunty has advocated for reproductive rights. After hearing that Secular Pro-Life set up a table at the 2012 American Atheists convention, Dillahunty challenged a representative of the organization to a public debate on the issue; the debate took place at the 2012 Texas Freethought Convention, with Dillahunty debating Kristine Kruszelnicki. Dillahunty used bodily autonomy as his primary argument for abortion rights, based on Judith Jarvis Thompson's essay on the subject, "A Defense of Abortion." In March 2014, Dillahunty debated Clinton Wilcox, not a member of Secular Pro-Life, though the debate was advertised on their blog. The aftermath led to a falling out with the organization, Dillahunty announced in a Facebook post that he would not debate them in public again.
He and Beth Presswood appeared on Amanda Marcotte's podcast RH Reality Check to explain the events of the preceding years, said that "the optics of a cis male without a womb" debating women's rights is not what he wanted to advocate, would let others take the lead in public on the issue. Advocacy of the primacy of skepticism is another of Dillahunty's recurring themes, he said at the American Atheists convention in Austin in 2013 that the closest thing he has to a motto is "to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible," taking his inspiration from David Hume. In the same lecture, he said. In addition, Dillahunty said that skepticism has something to say about untested religious claims, that philosophical skepticism will lead to atheism, he sees atheism as a subset of skepticism, he does not see why skepticism should not address religious claims, something that has become a point of controversy in the skeptic community. Dillahunty rhetorically asked, "how popular would psychics be, how popular would ghosts be, if there wasn't this monolithic idea that 70-80% of the population believe, that within each of us is an eternal soul that leaves the body when we're dead and either goes on to some afterlife or lingers around here on the earth?...
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Criticism of atheism
Criticism of atheism is criticism of the concepts, validity, or impact of atheism, including associated political and social implications. Criticisms include positions based on the history of science, findings in the natural sciences, theistic apologetic arguments, arguments pertaining to ethics and morality, the effects of atheism on the individual, or the assumptions that underpin atheism. Various contemporary agnostics like Carl Sagan and theists such as Dinesh D'Souza have criticised atheism for being an unscientific position. Analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, argues that a failure of theistic arguments might conceivably be good grounds for agnosticism, but not for atheism. Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox holds that atheism is an inferior world view to that of theism and attributes to C. S. Lewis the best formulation of Merton's thesis that science sits more comfortably with theistic notions on the basis that Men became scientific in Western Europe in the 16th and 17th century "ecause they expected law in nature, they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.'
In other words, it was belief in God, the motor that drove modern science". American geneticist Francis Collins cites Lewis as persuasive in convincing him that theism is the more rational world view than atheism. Other criticisms focus on perceived effects on morality and social cohesion; the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, a deist, saw godlessness as weakening "the sacred bonds of society", writing: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him". The father of classical liberalism, John Locke, believed that the denial of God's existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century Irish philosopher and statesman praised by both his conservative and liberal peers for his "comprehensive intellect", saw religion as the basis of civil society and wrote that "man is by his constitution a religious animal. Pope Pius XI wrote that Communist atheism was aimed at "upsetting the social order and at undermining the foundations of Christian civilization".
In the 1990s, Pope John Paul II criticised a spreading "practical atheism" as clouding the "religious and moral sense of the human heart" and leading to societies which struggle to maintain harmony. The advocacy of atheism by some of the more violent exponents of the French Revolution, the subsequent militancy of Marxist–Leninist atheism and prominence of atheism in totalitarian states formed in the 20th century is cited in critical assessments of the implications of atheism. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke railed against "atheistical fanaticism"; the 1937 papal encyclical Divini Redemptoris denounced the atheism of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, influential in the establishment of state atheism across Eastern Europe and elsewhere, including Mao Zedong's China, Kim's North Korea and Pol Pot's Cambodia. Critics of atheism associate the actions of 20th-century state atheism with broader atheism in their critiques. Various poets and lay theologians, among them G. K. Chesterton and C.
S. Lewis, have criticized atheism. For example, Chesterton holds that "e who does not believe in God will believe in anything". Atheism is the absence of belief that any gods exist, the position that there are no gods, or the rejection of belief in the existence of gods. Deism is a form of theism in which God created the universe and established rationally comprehensible moral and natural laws but does not intervene in human affairs through special revelation. Deism is a natural religion where belief in God is based on application of reason and evidence observed in the designs and laws found in nature. Christian deism refers to a deist; the last 50 years has seen an increase in academic philosophical arguments critical of the positions of atheism arguing that they are philosophically unsound. Some of the more common of these arguments are the presumption of atheism, the logical argument from evil, the evidential argument from evil, the argument from nonbelief and absence of evidence arguments.
In 1976, atheist philosopher Antony Flew wrote The Presumption of Atheism in which he argued that the question of God's existence should begin by assuming atheism as the default position. According to Flew, the norm for academic philosophy and public dialogue was at that time for atheists and theists to both share their respective "burdens of proof" for their positions. Flew proposed instead that his academic peers redefine "atheism" to bring about these changes: What I want to examine is the contention that the debate about the existence of God should properly begin from the presumption of atheism, that the onus of proof must lie upon the theist; the word'atheism', has in this contention to be construed unusually. Whereas nowadays the usual meaning of'atheist' in English is'someone who asserts that there is no such being as God, I want the word to be understood not positively but negatively... in this interpretation an atheist becomes: not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God.
The introduction of this new interpretation of the word'atheism' may appear to be a piece of perverse Humpty-Dumptyism, going arbitrarily against established common usage.'Whyever', it could be asked, don't you make it not the presumption of atheism but the presumption of agnosticism? Flew's proposition saw little acceptance in the 20th century
Rafida Ahmed Bonya
Rafida Bonya Ahmed is a Bangladeshi-American author, humanist activist and blogger. Bonya was born in Bangladesh, she completed her undergraduate degree in Computer Information Science from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Bonya met her husband, Avijit Roy, through their writing on Mukto-Mona, the first online platform for Bengali speaking freethinkers and secular bloggers and writers founded by Avijit; this group started the first celebration of Darwin Day in Bangladesh. Mukto-Mona received The BOBS jury award. Bonya wrote Bibortoner Path Dhore, one of the first popular science books in Bangladesh about biological evolution, she is one of the moderators of Mukto-Mona. Bonya has Trisha Ahmed, from her first marriage. Trisha wrote an article with her stepfather Avijit for the Free Inquiry magazine about imprisoned secularist bloggers. Ahmed went into remission after extensive treatment. On 26 February 2015, Rafida and Avijit were attacked by machete-wielding Islamic extremists while they were visiting Dhaka on a book signing trip.
They were attacked in the middle of the street at a crowded book fair. Avijit died after he was taken to the hospital and Rafida was gravely injured. Bonya decided to take a leave of absence from her job as a senior director at a credit bureau in the US after the attack, she started working with the humanist associations in Europe and the US to raise awareness about the attacks on the secular intellectuals in Bangladesh by Islamic fundamentalists, in July that year gave the British Humanist Association's Voltaire Lecture. She is doing research work on Islamic fundamentalism as a visiting research scholar at University of Texas at Austin, she received the Freedom From Religion Foundation's "Forward" award in 2016. She is a member of the jury of Deutsche Welle's The BOBS Best of Online Activism Award. Bibortoner Path Dhore, 2007, Abosor Prakashani, Dhaka. "Fighting Machetes with Pens", Voltaire Lecture 2015. Rafida Ahmed Bonya on the UN panel "Ending Impunity for Crimes against Journalists". Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Briefing on Human Rights in Bangladesh.
Talk at Harvard Humanist Hub. Keynote address at Reason Rally 2016. Talk at American Humanist Association Annual Conference 2016. Lecture in the 4th Women in Secularism Conference 2016. Profile on Mukto-Mona Rafida Bonya Ahmed's blog Rafida Bonya Ahmed on Facebook
Hemant Mehta is an American author and atheist activist who gained fame for "selling his soul" on eBay. Mehta is a regular speaker at atheist events and has sat on the boards of charitable organizations such as the Secular Student Alliance and the Foundation Beyond Belief, he runs a blog on Patheos, Friendly Atheist, in which he and his associates publish articles several times a day. Hemant Mehta was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1983, he graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004 with a double degree in math and biology and began teaching in 2007. He acquired a master's degree in math education from DePaul University in 2010 and a national board certification in teaching in 2012, he taught high school math at Neuqua Valley High School until 2014 when he announced on Facebook and his blog that he had submitted his resignation to the school, citing that "As much as I love being in the classroom, the opportunities online are just a lot greater right now, I don’t want to have any regrets down the road about not taking this chance while I have it."
After his resignation, he stayed on as the head coach of the school's speech team. Mehta was raised in the Jain faith, he became an atheist as a teenager. Seeking to learn more about what motivated many Americans to be religious, he decided to attend and take notes at a number of churches across the United States, he based his choice of churches to attend on the results of an eBay auction in which he offered his bidders, ”I am an atheist. You can bid on where I go to church or a temple or a mosque, etc." Mehta's experiences at the churches became the basis for his book, I Sold My Soul on eBay. He is the father of two children. Hemant Mehta established a secular student group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma, at the University of Illinois at Chicago while earning dual degrees there. Still in college, he served as board chair for the Secular Student Alliance, he interned at the Center for Inquiry where he became familiar with a lot of the national organizations and leaders in the activist world at that time.
Now, he serves on the board of directors for the Foundation Beyond Belief, a non-profit charitable organization. Mehta is a regular speaker at freethought and skeptical events around the U. S, he attempts to build bridges of understanding between believers and non-believers through his blog, The Friendly Atheist. Due in part to his positive message, he is invited to speak at atheist events such as the one he presented at The Reason Rally or at the American Atheists Annual Convention in March 2012. A vocal advocate of building an atheist community, Mehta's activism includes fundraising for charitable causes, he helped establish and serves on the board of the Foundation Beyond Belief, which has raised more than $2,400,000 since it launched in 2010. He established a church cleanup fund in response to reports of church vandalism in Bend, Oregon, in 2012; the vandals tagged the church with allusions to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Mehta's readers contributed nearly $3,000 in one day to help clean up the damage.
Mehta writes for the "On Faith" column in the Washington Post and has been featured in a New York Times debate on prayer. When asked about his beliefs his response is clear: "Simply put, I have never seen any evidence of'God's work' in action. I've seen what people think is God's work, but which has natural explanations. I believe that most people are good when nobody's looking. I believe our best path to discovering the truth lies in science, not religion." Hemant Mehta continues to challenge religious believers with straight talk in a non-confrontational fashion. In June 2013 he wrote for the "Room for Debate" series in the New York Times, where he argued that "There’s a real downside to praying, it lulls believers into a false sense of accomplishment." In July 2013 he held an open discussion at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, where he explained his frustration at being confronted time and again with the same arguments for believing in God. He commented that "Many Christians had negative stereotypes about atheists that prevented fruitful conversation."Mehta was a guest on CNN on August 20, 2013 to discuss the rise of atheism among the millennial generation.
In 2013 he began publishing "The Atheist Voice" series of video discussions on YouTube, which had over 190,000 subscribers in October 2017. In January 2006, Hemant Mehta posted an auction on eBay where he explained his background in atheism and offered to go to the worship services of the winning bidder's choosing; the auction ended on February 3, 2006 with a final bid of $504 from Jim Henderson, a minister from Seattle, Washington. Mehta donated that money to the Secular Student Alliance, a non-profit organization for which he served as chair of the board of directors. Nearly a month after the auction, an article about Mehta's experiences appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, leading to a flurry of media coverage, he was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Seattle Times, the Village Voice, on National Public Radio. Henderson asked Mehta to visit a variety of churches and write about the experiences on Henderson's website, offthemap.com. Mehta wrote about his visits at nine different churches as well as two additional pieces dealing with atheist conventions and Christian media.
I Sold My Soul on eBay contains Mehta's observations and critiques of the churches along with background on how he became an atheist. Other published works include The Young Atheist's Survival Guide published in 2012 and The Friendly Atheist: Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media published in 2013; the former is aimed at students, and
Atheist feminism is a branch of feminism that advocates atheism. Atheist feminists hold that religion is a prominent source of female oppression and inequality, believing that the majority of the religions are sexist and oppressive towards women; the first known feminist, an atheist was Ernestine Rose, born in Poland on January 13, 1810. Her open confession of disbelief in Judaism when she was a teenager brought her into conflict with her father and an unpleasant relationship developed. In order to force her into the obligations of the Jewish faith, her father, without her consent, betrothed her to a friend and fellow Jew when she was sixteen. Instead of arguing her case in a Jewish court, she went to a secular court, pleaded her own case, won. In 1829 she went to England, in 1835 she was one of the founders of the British atheist organization Association of All Classes of All Nations, which "called for human rights for all people, regardless of sex, color, or national origin", she lectured in England and America and was described by Samuel P.
Putnam 3 as "one of the best lecturers of her time". He wrote that "no orthodox man could meet her in debate". In the winter of 1836, Judge Thomas Hertell, a radical and freethinker, submitted a married women's property act in the legislature of the state of New York to investigate ways of improving the civil and property rights of married women, to permit them to hold real estate in their own name, which they were not permitted to do in New York. Upon hearing of the resolution, Ernestine Rose drew up a petition and began the soliciting of names to support the resolution in the state legislature, sending the petition to the legislature in 1838; this was the first petition drive done by a woman in New York. Ernestine continued to increase both the number of the petitions and the names until such rights were won in 1848, with the passing of the Married Women's Property Act. Others who participated in the work for the bill included Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Frances Wright, who were all anti-religious.
When Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton analyzed the influences which led to the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights in 1848, they identified three causes, the first two being the radical ideas of Frances Wright and Ernestine Rose on religion and democracy, the initial reforms in women's property law in the 1830s and 1840s. Ernestine joined a group of freethinkers who had organized a Society for Moral Philanthropists, at which she lectured. In 1837, she took part in a debate that continued for thirteen weeks, where her topics included the advocacy of abolition of slavery, women's rights, equal opportunities for education, civil rights. In 1845 she was in attendance at the first national convention of infidels. Ernestine Rose introduced "the agitation on the subject of women's suffrage" in Michigan in 1846. In a lecture in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1851, she opposed calling upon the Bible to underwrite the rights of women, claiming that human rights and freedom of women were predicated upon "the laws of humanity" and that women, did not require the written authority of either Paul or Moses, because "those laws and our claim are prior" to both.
She attended the Women's Rights Convention in the Tabernacle, New York City, on September 10, 1853, spoke at the Hartford Bible Convention in 1854. It was in March of that year that she took off with Susan B. Anthony on a speaking tour to Washington, D. C. Susan B. Anthony arranged Ernestine Rose did all of the speaking. Anthony embarked on her own first lecture tour. In October 1854, Ernestine Rose was elected president of the National Women's Rights Convention at Philadelphia, overcoming the objection that she was unsuitable because of her atheism. Susan B. Anthony supported her in this fight, declaring that every religion—and none—should have an equal right on the platform. In 1856 she spoke at the Seventh National Woman's Convention saying in part, "And when your minister asks you for money for missionary purposes, tell him there are higher, holier, nobler missions to be performed at home; when he asks for colleges to educate ministers, tell him you must educate woman, that she may do away with the necessity of ministers, so that they may be able to go to some useful employment."She appeared again in Albany, New York, for the State Women's Rights Convention in early February 1861, the last one to be held until the end of the Civil War.
On May 14, 1863, she shared the podium with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Antoinette Blackwell when the first Women's National Loyal League met to call for equal rights for women, to support the government in the Civil War "in so far as it makes a war for freedom", she was in attendance at the American Equal Rights Association meeting in which there was a schism and on May 15, 1869 joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone to form a new organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association, which fought for both male and female suffrage, taking a position on the executive committee, she died at England, on August 4, 1892, at age eighty-two. The most prominent other people to publicly advocate for feminism and to challenge Christianity in the 1800s were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage. In 1885 Stanton wrote an essay entitled "Has Christianity Benefited Woman?" Arguing that it had in fact hurt women's rights, stating, "All religions thus far have taught the headship and superiority of man, the inferiority and subordina
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, was a British philosopher, mathematician, writer, social critic, political activist, Nobel laureate. At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, although he confessed that his skeptical nature had led him to feel that he had "never been any of these things, in any profound sense." Russell was born in Monmouthshire into one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the United Kingdom. In the early 20th century, Russell led the British "revolt against idealism", he is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege, colleague G. E. Moore and protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein, he is held to be one of the 20th century's premier logicians. With A. N. Whitehead he wrote Principia Mathematica, an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics, the quintessential work of classical logic, his philosophical essay "On Denoting" has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy".
His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, set theory, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science and philosophy the philosophy of language and metaphysics. Russell was a prominent anti-war activist and he championed anti-imperialism, he advocated preventive nuclear war, before the opportunity provided by the atomic monopoly had passed and "welcomed with enthusiasm" world government. He went to prison for his pacifism during World War I. Russell concluded that war against Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany was a necessary "lesser of two evils" and criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought". Bertrand Russell was born on 18 May 1872 at Ravenscroft, Monmouthshire, into an influential and liberal family of the British aristocracy.
His parents and Viscountess Amberley, were radical for their times. Lord Amberley consented to his wife's affair with their children's tutor, the biologist Douglas Spalding. Both were early advocates of birth control at a time. Lord Amberley was an atheist and his atheism was evident when he asked the philosopher John Stuart Mill to act as Russell's secular godfather. Mill died the year after Russell's birth, his paternal grandfather, the Earl Russell, had been asked twice by Queen Victoria to form a government, serving her as Prime Minister in the 1840s and 1860s. The Russells had been prominent in England for several centuries before this, coming to power and the peerage with the rise of the Tudor dynasty, they established themselves as one of the leading British Whig families, participated in every great political event from the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536–1540 to the Glorious Revolution in 1688–1689 and the Great Reform Act in 1832. Lady Amberley was Lady Stanley of Alderley. Russell feared the ridicule of his maternal grandmother, one of the campaigners for education of women.
Russell had two siblings: brother Frank, sister Rachel. In June 1874 Russell's mother died followed shortly by Rachel's death. In January 1876, his father died of bronchitis following a long period of depression. Frank and Bertrand were placed in the care of their staunchly Victorian paternal grandparents, who lived at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park, his grandfather, former Prime Minister Earl Russell, died in 1878, was remembered by Russell as a kindly old man in a wheelchair. His grandmother, the Countess Russell, was the dominant family figure for the rest of Russell's childhood and youth; the countess was from a Scottish Presbyterian family, petitioned the Court of Chancery to set aside a provision in Amberley's will requiring the children to be raised as agnostics. Despite her religious conservatism, she held progressive views in other areas, her influence on Bertrand Russell's outlook on social justice and standing up for principle remained with him throughout his life, her favourite Bible verse, became his motto.
The atmosphere at Pembroke Lodge was one of frequent prayer, emotional repression, formality. Russell's adolescence was lonely, he contemplated suicide, he remarked in his autobiography that his keenest interests were in religion and mathematics, that only his wish to know more mathematics kept him from suicide. He was educated at home by a series of tutors; when Russell was eleven years old, his brother Frank introduced him to the work of Euclid, which he described in his autobiography as "one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love."During these formative years he discovered the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Russell wrote: "I spent all my spare time reading him, learning him by heart, knowing no one to whom I could speak of what I thought or felt, I used to reflect how wonderful it would have been to know Shelley, to wonder whether