Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Pope Has Hired a Lawyer

From the blog Proud Atheists:

In Kentucky, the 51-year-old attorney is defending Pope Benedict XVI from a deposition motion in a case involving child abuse by clergy. In a suit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Lena is arguing that the Vatican cannot be tried for transferring a predatory priest from Ireland to Oregon. In Mississippi, he is defending the Vatican against accusations that it participated in a money-laundering scheme. In New York, Lena is defending the Holy See in a commercial-licensing dispute about the use of images belonging to the Vatican Museums.
Wherever it is in the United States that the Vatican stands accused, Lena is there to protect it.
“I am counsel for the Holy See,” Lena said.

(The rest of the article from Washington Post)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is atheism just a negative?

To begin with, for the sake of keeping things simple, atheism is in fact just the non-belief in deities. But does it really end up being "just" that?

I think atheism is a moment of transformation, it's a radical change in focus. It's like when you stop running after the mirage far away in the desert (the one that when you get close you realize there's nothing there) and start paying attention to what's immediately around you, having a good chance to find something that could really give you a means of survival.

The moment we stop believing in any deity, most people also stop believing in any supernatural fenomenon, soul and afterlife. When we drop these concepts, the focus of our lives end up changing radically. Since we're not going to have a "second chance with the people we love, all that's left is to pay attention to them now, be with them and treat them well while they are here with us.
We become humanists.

Since there are no supernatural fenomena, there's no point in waiting for a "divine intervention", we have to act and make decisions on our own. Since there's no "soul", the idea of "sin" also loses its meaning, and what matters are the concrete consequences of our acts.
We become practical.

We start to understand that we have to act here and now, and that knowledge is fundamental for us to be able to act more effectively. Studying and learning more about the world around us becomes more and more important, and we also want to share our knowledge with other people.
We analyse the evidence and draw conclusions instead of believing.

We start giving more importance to compassion and empathy towards all others, instead of worrying about some rules written in a book.
More humanism.

I have already said this in other occasions, and I will say it again: atheism is not something we decide to adopt, it's a conclusion that we draw after analysing the facts and comparing to what we have been told. Nobody convinces anybody to become an atheist, it's an inner, private process of each person. It might seem something simple and small but, as I tried to show above, it has dramatic consequences on the way we look at our lives.