Thinking is a terrible thing. If done correctly it ought to frighten you and shake you from your comfortable foundations, because it should reveal things, raise questions and challenge your ideas about yourself, your beliefs and the world.

In most situations, Americans go out of their way to avoid not only seeing reality, but try especially hard to evade any semblance of truth when it comes to themselves and their beliefs because it may require readjustment, realignment or worse, retreat. Avoiding or denying the truth does not make it go away nor does it make it any less true or any softer. Make no mistake, truth is unbreakable, solid. Molecularly speaking water and ice are much the same except that ice makes a much harder reality, but hitting either from 1,000 feet once again reveals there is little difference. It is the same with the truth. Truth cannot be legislated nor can it be destroyed. It simply is.

Nevertheless, the truth must always undergo interrogation because what passes as fact is little more than the proverbial tip of the iceberg, which may or may not hide its heft beneath the surface. In the world of icebergs, shapes may vary widely from the traditional mountain of ice to what is termed a tabular berg, “table” or “tablet-like,” which is flat. Viewing a tabular iceberg gives no hint as to its depth if it has any at all. Unless a glaciologist, there is no one way for an average individual to know without specialized equipment and knowledge, but it does not matter as the iceberg acts only as a parallel.

Seasons once attributed to the gods now are fully understood as products of the earth’s movement relative to the sun, but when early humankind believed the season came about at the whim of the “gods” they were not wrong. It was the truth as they or anyone else knew it at that time. However, as time passed and knowledge grew humanity discovered the basis for seasons and discarded all supernatural beliefs regarding the weather to caves they emanated from.

It was not a matter of the truth changing because that is impossible, rather it is a case of it being discovered as progress brought knowledge, technology and understanding of different phenomenon. Just as earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes were once believed to come from ill-tempered gods any such ideas today are thought of as quaint idiosyncrasies, misguided religious belief or outright ignorance.

In 2015, the number of unchurched individuals in the United States reached nearly 125 million adults or almost half of the population[1]. Does this mean that all of them are atheists? Hardly, but it does mean that more and more Americans are finding that “church” offers them little in the world of technology and science that provides answers in no ambiguous terms.

[1] Mark Chaves, American Religion: Contemporary Trends, Princeton University Press, August 28, 2011

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Comment by Joan Denoo on February 16, 2016 at 11:13am

OK, We have many things about atheism that touches that spot of emotion, which is what believers seem to want ...or need.  We can do that. Pile it on with many short blurbs; that is what they want as well, soundbites. Make cute pictures, sayings, quotes. Flood Facebook and whatever social network that I don't know about. Cutesy-pie, emotional, tear-jerker type of stuff for the emotional ones. Intelligent, factual, realistic for those such as Collins.

The goal is not to recruit but to inform.  

Comment by Michael Penn on February 16, 2016 at 8:56am

I'm going to cite something here from the gospels that many overlook, and believers in particularly. The royal lineage of Jesus is given in 2 of the gospels. Once through Joseph and once through Mary (so the preachers say.) This last is a mistake and the writer had his facts wrong. Each account is through Joseph but one is in error.

Let's point out the entire error. If Jesus is a product of Joseph and Mary he certainly is not the savior that believers think he is. This negates the entire New Testament.

Yet we have the believers happily wanting to believe the lie. More religious nonsense is being made up every day.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 16, 2016 at 8:40am

[shrug] Maybe so, Bertold ... but my suspicion remains that, to move any situation in a positive direction, lies not only don't work in the long haul, they will almost invariably work AGAINST such progress.  I have no doubt that change may be effected with lies, but then, while all progress is change, not all change is progress.

Perhaps I should have said that lies cannot honestly and substantially IMPROVE on what is.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on February 16, 2016 at 8:30am

You hurt the ones that I love best

and cover up the truth with lies

One day you'll be in the ditch

Flies buzzin' around your eyes

Blood on your saddle

--Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on February 16, 2016 at 7:23am

> but since lies are beliefs, they cannot change what IS.

Loren - it seems to me you've waxed a tad overly idealistic here. To cite a cheap example, the lie that the constitution says the federal government cannot own land recently wrought some changes in a small community in Oregon. The lie that a god not only exists but gives a shit what you do has also had some pretty profound effects. Tell Karl Rove that lies or beliefs can't change what is. He's got a bridge to sell you.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 16, 2016 at 7:11am

I've said many times that the second the first irrationality is introduced, there's no telling how many more will follow.  This fact is bad enough by itself, but made worse because dealing in irrationalities makes it next to impossible to manipulate reality in any kind of effective way ... and like it or not, lies are irrational, because they do not correlate to or reflect reality.

Facts, comfortable or not, reflect reality by definition and as such, can be used to understand, control and even alter reality.  Facts allow us to confront reality effectively where as lies mostly are a means to hide from it.  Lies can also be used to control people who are not or will not be informed by the facts, but since lies are beliefs, they cannot change what IS.  As Glen said, truth falls where it falls and doesn't care how pretty it is or what its appeal may be.  And to bring out the quote storehouse once again:

What are the facts?  Again and again and again -- what are the *facts*?  Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars fortell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" -- what are the facts, and to how many decimal places?  You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue.  Get the facts!
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Comment by Frankie Dapper on February 16, 2016 at 2:02am

Truth falls anywhere; it is not aesthetic unlike the designed lie. My uncle nutty ass

Comment by kathy: ky on February 15, 2016 at 9:29pm
Michael, "god given rights" doesn't apply to atheists does it? :-)
Comment by Michael Penn on February 15, 2016 at 2:51pm

People are still funny. On You Tube some man was giving a lecture on how you can drive without a license and then said "you have a god given right to drive." I commented on that and pointed out the folly and somebody else wanted to know why I was bringing religion into it. Hello, dumbass, it wasn't me, it was him!

Comment by The Flying Atheist on February 15, 2016 at 1:37pm

Loren, you're a master at coining profound phrases.

"...people covet the privileges of democracy without considering the responsibilities associated with citizenship..."



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