Sioux Falls Atheists
Sioux Falls Atheists and Atheism, Agnostics and Humanism

Atheists Food For Thought
By Jack McDevitt's book character Gregory MacAllister,
from his book "Deepsix", available at Amazon: Deepsix

  1. As there are some professions that demand believers in the amity of Providence, like those who work among the downtrodden, or who teach adolescents, there are others for which atheism is desirable. I am thinking particularly of pilots. When you are adrift among the clouds or the stars, you want someone in the cockpit who has as much to lose as you do if the party goes down.
  2. It's customary to argue that intelligence grants an evolutionary advantage. But where is the evidence? We are surrounded by believers in psychic healing, astrology, dreams, and drugs. Are we to accept the premise that these hordes of unfortunates descended from intelligent forebears? I'm prepared to concede that stupidity does not help survival. One must after all understand not to poke a tiger with a stick. But intelligence leads to curiosity, and curiosity has never been a quality that helps one pour his or her genes into the pool. The truth must lie somewhere between. Whatever the reason, it is clearly mediocrity, at best, that lives and breeds.
  3. We are all afflicted with a Lone Ranger syndrome, a belief in the masked stranger who arrives well armed at dawn and settles problems in a straightforward simplistic manner. The character, whose origin stretches back to the twentieth century, owes his longevity to the fact that he connects with our most primal impulses, and represents the way we truly would be, if only we could. That we cannot results not only from a lack of courage and ability, but also because the world is simply not built that way. When the night is dark and the storm closes in, one had best be prepared to help himself. Because as surely as the stars wheel overhead there will be no one else, masked or otherwise.
  4. Few of the virtues are really useful. Fidelity leads to lost opportunity, truth-telling to injured feelings, charity to additional solicitations. The least productive, and possibly the most overrated, is faith. The faithful deny reason, close their minds to the evidence of their senses, and remain unfailingly optimistic in the face of disaster. They inevitably get just what they deserve.
  5. That anyone could believe the human animal was designed by a divine being defies all logic. The average human is little more than an ambitious monkey. He is moronic, self-centered, cowardly, bullied by his fellows, terrified that others will see him for what he is. One can only assume his creator was in something of a hurry, or was perhaps a member of an Olympian bureaucracy. The more pious among us should pray that next time he does the job right. But we might in justice concede that there is one virtue to be found in the beast: he is persistent.
  6. Put men and women in the same room and everyone's IQ drops thirty-six points. Psychologists have recorded it, tests have shown it, studies leave no doubt. Passion doth make fools of us all.
  7. Living well is a high-wire act without a net. It is a matter of locating one's proper place and balancing it against the programming imposed by society. We're surrounded by the wrecks of those who have crashed, the reformers, the upright, the various militants and the true believers who think the rest of us need their guidance.
  8. Faith has its price. When misfortune strikes the true believer, he assumes he has done something to deserve punishment, but isn't quite certain what. The realist, recognizing that he lives in a Darwinian universe, is simply grateful to have made it to another sunset.
  9. Show me a man of unflinching rectitude and I'll show you a man who hasn't been offered his price. And it's a good thing for the progress of the species. Throughout our long and sorry history it has been men who supposed themselves to be exemplars of integrity who have done all the damage. Every crusade, whether for decent literary standards or to cover women's bodies or to free the holy land, has been launched, endorsed, and enthusiastically perpetrated by men of character.
  10. The impending collision out there somewhere in the great dark between a gas giant and a world very much like our own has some parallels to the eternal collision between religion and common sense. One is bloated and full of gas, and the other is measurable and solid. One engulfs everything around it, and the other simply provides a place to stand. One is a rogue destroyer that has come in out of the night, and the other is a warm well-lighted place vulnerable to the sainted mobs.
  11. Religion is like having children, or taking medicine, or eating, or any of a thousand other perfectly rational human activities: Taken in small doses, it has much to recommend it. One need only avoid going overboard.
  12. Freedom sounds good. Freedom of religion. The right to privacy. The right to protest when you don't like the way things are going. Unfortunately, all these benevolences assume a mature, rational population, because they can be powerful weapons when misused. Freedom and idiots make a volatile mix. And the sad truth is that the idiocy quotient in the general population is alarmingly high.
  13. Faith is conviction without evidence, and sometimes even in the face of contrary evidence. In some quarters, this quality is perceived as a virtue.
  14. It is not faith per se that creates the problem; it is conviction, the notion that one cannot be wrong, that opposing views are necessarily invalid and may even be intolerable.

Atheists Food For Thought
By Jack McDevitt's book character Gregory MacAllister,
from his book "Deepsix", Available at Amazon: Deepsix