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Getting to Know Me October 30, 2006

Posted by noah nywno in : General , add a comment

Since one of the purposes of the ravingatheists site is to explore who we are as individuals, I thought I would take the oppurtunity to give a little background information on myself.

I was born in Houston, TX in 1976 to a mother of 16 and a father of 18. My natural father was, pretty much, worthless so my mom divorced him in 1980. She remarried in 1983; we all moved to Hazleton, PA right after the wedding,  and my step-father adopted my brother and I when I was in 5th grade. We’ve had  his last name ever since (he is to whom I’m refering whenever I say “my dad”.) My parents also had two more kids, a son and a daughter. (For those keeping score, that means I have 1 full brother, a half-brother and a half-sister, but we usually don’t think of ourselves as “half” anything.)

In 1991, my dad got a promotion/transfer to his company’s headquarters in Chicago, IL. We moved to a suburb of Chicago called Oak Park and I graduated high school  from Oak Park and River Forest High School (alumni include Ernest Hemmingway, Judy Tanuta, and Mary-Elizabeth Masterantonio.) My parents didn’t much like Chicago (I loved it) so when my dad got laid off in ’94, he looked for jobs primarily in PA and landed one in Lancaster , where my parents have lived ever since (with one small exception not worth mentioning.)

I joined the Army and served from August 1994 to October 1998 as a paratrooper and infantry/mortarman (that means I jumped out of airplanes and blew stuff up).

After the army, I moved to PA, where my parents were, met a girl (Laura), got married, spent  our honymoon at the beutiful Sandles resort in Antigua,  and now we have 1 daughter (Carinn) and a son on the way (due January 11, 2007, but my wife is experiencing a case of “The Incredible Shrinking Cervix” and he could come sooner.)

I was raised Roman Catholic, did the whole alterboy thing, attended CCD/sunday school pretty much my whole young life. Now I’m an atheist, go figure.

I have an Associate of Applied Science (AAS)  degree in Machine Tool and Computer Aided Manufacturing (fancy way of sayng “Machine Shop” ) and am working on a second AAS degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

I’ve been a life-long comic book fan (although it’s a hobbie I can no longer afford). I’m into most types of music; I don’t have a favourite style but topical/political music has always been my favourite, so alot of punk and folk.

Favourite Book, fiction (this tends to change): Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Hienline

Favourite Book, non-fiction (also tends to change): Denying Evolution by Massimo Pigliucci (a great bit on anti-intellectualism here).

Favourite Band (never changes): Dead Kennedys

Favourite Film (old movie): Wonderman starring Danny Kaye

Favourite T.V. Show (and guilty pleasure): Nip-Tuck

Current Hobbies Include: Gardening, Home Pickling, Smoker Bar-b-cueing, Jerky Making and coming soon, Home  Brewing.

Speaking of brew,

Favourite Beer: Hop Hog from Lancaster Brewing Company.

That’s more or less the lowdown on me. Granted, there’s alot of stories and history in there that I haven’t covered, but this is mainly for   introductory purposes.

Belief October 30, 2006

Posted by noah nywno in : Belief , add a comment

Several months ago, I posted this thread in the forums explaining how I came to atheism. http://ravingatheists.com/blog/forum/viewtopic.php?id=4729  It is mostly my personal story, so there  aren’t alot of rational arguments there. It’s just about how I was feeling at the time and how those feelings led to my atheism. What I hope everyone get’s out of it is this: No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t believe in God, and it caused me pain. Once I stopped trying, my life got alot better.

So, let’s talk about BELIEF. Here’s how MSN Encarta defines it:

be ·lief [ bi lf ] (plural be ·liefs)
1.  acceptance of truth of something:  acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty
belief in an afterlife
2.  trust:  confidence that somebody or something is good or will be effective
belief in democracy
3.  something that somebody believes in:  a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true
4.  opinion:  an opinion, especially a firm and considered one
5.  religious faith:  faith in God or in a religion’s gods

I’m sure if you checked just about any other dictionary, you would find something similer. But what are the properties of belief? What makes a belief something that people hold as true? I guess it has something to do with the evidence one gathers over the course of his life, but it seems to me that it also involves that extra element of…well…being believed, internally. As I said in my last post, it’s an element within a person that says, “This is true”.

So, why couldn’t I believe? What was it about me that I didn’t have that “This is true” voice regarding the existence of God? Granted, I guess I could have done more research, gathered more information, but that’s something I continually do. Still, no voice.

One of my pet peeves is when theists say, “You’re just in rebellion against God” or “You KNOW there’s a God, you’re just denying it.” I don’t think it’s fair to make assumptions like this about others. I can’t read anyone’s mind, so I wouldn’t speculate on what people REALLY think. So, if a christian tells me she REALLY  believes, I will take her word for it. I just hope she will treat me with the same respect when I tell her I don’t.

But that leaves us with a problem. If were talking about a personal god who takes an interest in our indvidual lives, and who wants a personal relationship with us, then why the disparity? Why give some belief and not others? It can’t be a mere matter of education, I know plenty of theists who don’t have a thourough education is spiritual matters and still believe. I also know plenty of theists who have an education far beyond my own and still believe. And, of course, I know educated and uneducated atheists. So what’s the problem here? Why does belief seem to come naturally for some and so hard for others? Why would a god that wanted me to know him put such an insurmountable road block in the way (or at least allow for it)?

If anyone is interested in discussing this, go ahead and comment. Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this.

My Atheism: An Introduction October 29, 2006

Posted by noah nywno in : General , add a comment

Well, I guess it’s best to start this whole thing off by explaining my atheism, how I define it, and what it’s based on.   This will be   a reletivly quick explaination, but I will use this introduction to lay out some subjects worth exploring in more depth in future posts.

I subscribe to Geroge Smith’s definition, layed out in Atheism: The Case Against God,   of atheism meaning without belief in god or gods. I would call myself, again as George Smith defines, an Agnostic Atheist, mening I don’t believe in any gods, but admit that ultimate knowledge of the existence of gods, either way,  is probably unatainable. (I would do a better job of quoting Smith, but my sister currently has my copy of Atheism, so please forgive any misquotes.)

Although I believe ultimate knowledge of godlike beings is unatainable, I do feel reasonably confident that none of the particular gods worshiped by humans, past and present, actually exist, and that includes the god of the Bible.

My atheism basicly breaks down to four concepts:

1) Belief – I just don’t believe in gods. It’s as simple as that. I think there’s more to belief that simple making decicions based on available evidence.; you need to have something, that little voice in your head that says, “This is true”. I just don’t have that when it comes to gods and the supernatural.

2) Morality – I don’t believe god is needed to acount for morality. I think naturalistic/materialistic explainations do a fine job. (In short, I believe they are the rusult of evolutionary processes). I am a moral relativist, but by that I mean I believe the origin of individual moral values is ultimatly subjective. I don’t subscribe to some “I’m OK, your OK” philosophy. Even though I believe morals are subjective, I believe we are justified in protecting ourselves from moral positions that would do us harm.

3) Existence – I don’t believe a god is necessary to account for existence. If, indeed, we need an “unmoveable mover” then I don’t see any reason why that mover MUST be intelligent or concious. If SOMETHING had to come first, then ANYTHING could have come first.

4) The Afterlife – This seems to be a major concern for many believers that I know. I have no need for it. I can be, and am, happy in my life without the promise of it lasting forever.

Well, I think that’s a pretty good introduction. Next time, we’ll tackle the nature of belief.

Take Care

Ground Rules October 22, 2006

Posted by noah nywno in : Administrative , 4comments

I’m a big fan of free speach. One of the things I’ve liked about the   RA forums is that it’s pretty hard to have a comment deleted or to get banned, even if you happen to be a theist. The down side to that has been that discussions can sometimes turn into page after page of trolling and insults. So, as I want this blog to stay within the realm of civility, I’m going to take a different tack here and lay out some rules for posting comments.

1) No abusive language. Try to lay off the personal insults. I won’t let personal insults through as comments. However, if you feel a person is using a dishonest discussion tactic, feel free to call them on it. I would. I will allow such comments through and if I feel a charge of dishonesty is unwarrented I will adress publicly and leave it open for the readers to decide.

2) Profanity and Obcenity. I, personally, don’t have a problem with “four letter words”. Granted, some words are offensive, such as racial/sexual slurs. Words like that are intended to hurt, hence, to offend. But I don’t know why a simple “F” word is offensive to people. What is it about such a word that we SHOULD find offensive? However, as I want this blog to stay civil, and out of respect for posters who DO find such word offensive, I’m banning them. I would like for posters to feel they can let their children read this blog and it’s comments. So, please,  no potty talk.

3) Try to stay on topic. This is more of a suggestion. I’m open to suggestions for topic ideas, so if the discussion is straying from the topic at hand, I can alway write a new post for discussion.

4) NO TROLLING. I think this goes without saying. (Added October 29, 2006)

That’s pretty much all I have right now. If anyone has any ideas for further rules, I’m open to suggestions.

My Promise. If I decide to delete a comment, I will To the best of my ability, publicly state the reason why in the tread to which it was posted. If   anyone feels they have been treated unfairly, I will give them a public forum (in th form of a seperate  thread)  to air their grievences (provided, of course, the grievance is in keeping with the rules I’ve mentioned above. Ultimatly the decision is mine, but as I’m not perfect, I will allow others to comment on decisions I’ve made and take any contrary opinions into  consideration. consideration.

Also, if any one wishes to comment privately (ie. they wish to comment to me personally, for my eyes only,  but not the comments section) please state that in your comment. I will respect your wishes and keep it confidential.  

Definition and Suggestions October 20, 2006

Posted by noah nywno in : Administrative , 1 comment so far

Hi everyone, this is Noah Nywno. The purpose of this blog will be for, shall we say, more civil discussion. I love   a good  rant as much as anyone, but I like some of the theists we’ve had on the old site and I’d like to use this blog to explore some common ground.

Another purpose of this blog will be to look at some issues facing atheists as individuals, i.e. how do YOU define morality, what comes first, atheism, family, community? Do you ever have doubts? etc.

Lastly, I will be holding up MY half-baked  views on atheism/religion for public scrutiny.

I am rather busy these days, but I hope to post often. In the meantime, I’m open to suggestions  for topics.