A word on censorship

Just kidding, this article is about blasphemy. Oh wait, I wasn’t kidding after all! Onward….

Ideas. Think about that word for a minute. Contemplate what an idea really is. Ideas aren’t things. Ideas aren’t objects. Ideas are not things you can physically use. Ideas are abstract functions of brains, and that’s it.  All an idea amounts to is synapses firing in the brain in a particular pattern.  Ideas don’t physically exist.

You can’t see ideas, you can’t check out someone else’s ideas, and you damned sure can’t restrict ideas. There isn’t a security system in the world that can keep a “contraband” idea out of someplace. All you have to do is just think one up.

So although ideas are completely non-tangible and incapable of any physical function, they also happen to be the very thing that informs our actions. We don’t consciously do anything without first having an idea.

So we have to have ideas, otherwise we don’t do “human stuff” like converse, plan, dream, strategize, and enjoy life.  And like everything that we need to sustain life, there is a downside. The downside is stupid ideas.

You wouldn’t think stupid ideas would gain much traction. If someone proposes a stupid idea, they are usually confronted with lots of other people with not stupid ideas. The stupid idea person then sheepishly admits it was a stupid idea and everyone else moves on.

This procedure has become more formalized, more equitable, and provides more opportunity to test an idea against peers in a process we call “science.” People with good ideas get their ideas checked and confirmed. People with stupid ideas have their ideas checked and rejected. Sheepish admission of having a stupid idea isn’t even required.

The cool thing about this process is even stupid sounding ideas, if they are checked and found valid, become good ideas. Can you imagine being the first person to propose “black holes?” Lol! Laughable! Only….. well, turns out there are black holes.

See, what we think are stupid ideas can become good ideas by good, scientific processes. Stupid ideas remain stupid ideas by failing this process.  But sometimes stupid ideas persist. How is this, you ask? Quite simply, they avoid either the formal or informal process of checking.

Informally, a stupid idea can persist if enough people think that it sounds plausible. Without a formal system to check our everyday ideas, this is a common vehicle for stupid ideas to linger on, and even gain momentum. When groups of people have the same stupid idea, good ideas seem like the outcast.  But a stupid idea can only last so long before it faces a challenge. So proponents of stupid ideas must rely on another mechanism to protect the stupidity: Censorship.

With censorship eliminating the challenges to stupid ideas, they thrive. And of course, religious ideas censor good ideas under the censorship method known as blasphemy. Blasphemy is the “security gate” that keeps good ideas out, unable to provide a defense of itself.

Blasphemy is the set of informal or formal rules that protect stupid ideas from challenge. These stupid ideas can not survive an onslaught of good ideas. But by propagating the stupid idea of blasphemy along side the main stupid idea of religion, this mass of stupid ideas remains unchallenged in normal discourse.  The stupid idea people never have to answer the challenges to their stupid idea.

Obviously, there are a such thing as formal blasphemy laws.  A few lingering blasphemy laws are on the books in various states, but the last person to actually be jailed for blasphemy in the US was way back in 1838.   Informally, however, blasphemy is still very much protected.

Challenging religion, more than any other idea, is considered rude. Socially unacceptable.  Invasive.  When someone says “that’s my faith”, it’s meant to be the end of the conversation.  The end to intellectually challenging the stupid idea.  Challenging this stupid idea is seen as an attack on the person, even if it is made clear that this isn’t the case.  People get deeply offended by challenging their stupid idea, and other people allow them to be offended.

By merely asking questions to explore a single stupid idea, the questioner becomes an attacker.  Attacking them with nothing physical.  With nothing tangible.  With nothing that can cause harm.  Yet society accepts the anger as if they were being attacked with physical means of harm.  This is ridiculous.  It’s a stupid idea.

Spreading atheism isn’t about spreading an idea.  Hell, atheism doesn’t have any ideas.  Spreading atheism is spreading good inquiry into ideas that seem stupid.  Atheism is making people with ideas show that they’re good ideas, or expose them as stupid ideas.  Atheism is putting religious ideas on the same playing field as any other idea.  There’s hundreds of religions out there.  Most of them have to be wrong.  Blasphemy keeps those stupid ideas around.  Atheism makes stupid ideas accountable.

That’s why Atheism is correct.

The Spartan Atheist

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20 thoughts on “A word on censorship

  1. A strong logical and moral case for scientific literacy and against the evil of censorship, indeed. Keep ’em coming, man. Thanks and peace.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Frank. Writing these blogs is therapeutic for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel the same way, my friend…. not to mention cheaper and more effective than a trip to the shrink’s office…. and the bonus of bringing comfort and healing to those still in the throes of coming out to themselves and the to the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True that. Atheists are everywhere. We just need to speak up.

        Like

      3. I feel the same way, my friend…. not to mention cheaper and more effective than a trip to the shrink’s office…. and the bonus of bringing comfort, courage, and healing to those still in the throes of coming out to themselves and to the world.

        Like

  2. “We just need to speak up.” But it’s so hard. My wife is the only one in town who knows I’m the “village atheist.” By the way, this post gave me an idea for my next piece of satire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there’s a reason I don’t have my name on this blog. My friends and much of my family know I’m an atheist, but I’m also a businessman in small town America. I pick my battles.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Spreading atheism isn’t about spreading an idea. Hell, atheism doesn’t have any ideas.”
    If atheism doesn’t have any ideas, how can atheism be “correct”?
    Isn’t it an idea to put “religious ideas on the same playing field as any other idea”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for playing, John. Because atheism as I described it is not the final, finished idea, but the space in which we are free to challenge ideas and find out which ones are stupid, and which ones are not stupid. Since finding out which ideas are which is preferable to just pretending one idea is right, it is the correct way to proceed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree it is preferable to find the better idea. I’ve never heard that called “atheism” before. That’s just critical thinking.

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  4. Spreading atheism isn’t about spreading an idea.

    In actual fact , I would consider the idea that everyone eventually becomes atheist a great idea, and definitely worth spreading in one form or another.
    Or did I misunderstand something?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To elaborate, more atheists is clearly a good thing. This is borne out by all statistics. But since atheism has no tenets, beliefs, or ideas itself, it needs to be filled with other ideas that are good.
      However, the process of becoming an atheist seems to me to be challenging stupid ideas for what they are. Skepticism doesn’t equal atheism, but I posit that becoming an atheist frequently requires skepticism. Its the process that counts.

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      1. You might want to investigate the difference between “tenant” and “tenet”.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oops. Good catch! I can’t change it…

        Like

      3. Yes you can. Go into your Dashboard/Comments. Click on the comment you made (with the misspelled word), click “edit,” make the change, and then click “Update.”

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Blasphemous attacks on religion are not a right. They are a duty.

    I would not put it that “atheism doesn’t have any ideas”. What’s true is that atheism doesn’t have any beliefs — it is, by definition, the absence of a particular type of belief. The falsity of religion is an idea and can be spread and supported.

    Challenging religion, more than any other idea, is considered rude. Socially unacceptable. Invasive.

    I give a lot of credit to the “New Atheist” writes like Dawkins and Hitchens for starting to break down this taboo (as you say, it is a taboo, not a law any more in the West). In earlier times even brilliant atheists like Bertrand Russell felt the need to frame their challenges in polite, timid phrases. Perhaps the culture of the time required that, but it also kowtowed to the lie that religion is deserving of deference and respect. Dawkins and Hitches simply expressed, in plain English, the obvious fact that religion is all rubbish, and dangerous rubbish at that. This created the freer environment in which it’s possible to discuss the subject honestly, such as talking about “stupid ideas” the way you do here.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your comments, Infadel. I’m certainly not the first person to make this observation. Props to them. I’m just keeping it moving. It’s a great time to be an atheist!

      Like

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