Sunday, February 3, 2008

What This Blog Is About

Is this blog about skepticism? Yes it is. Is it about atheism? It would seem so. Is it about libertarianism? Well, yeah. Is it about me? How could it not be. Are all these things linked, do they somehow go together naturally? Penn Jillette has stated that "Skepticism...libertarianism and atheism... are kind of joined together" and I think he's right, even though not all atheists are libertarians and not all libertarians are atheists or skeptics. Atheism and skepticism seem a natural fit. Skepticism will inevitably lead to atheism if the skeptic is truly honest with himself. My own inquisitive nature eventually brought me to question the basis of religion and finally the very existence of a "higher power." Libertarianism is another animal all together, but I still think you can make a case for its belonging in the group with the other two.

Now, when I first gave up religion, I wandered to the left politically, supporting and voting for Democrats in every election. No doubt much of that was a reaction to the Republican party's takeover by the Christian right. But I was also motivated by the temporary nature of this life, and because I no longer believed in an afterlife, I felt that moving in the direction of a more social democratic if not outright socialist society was the just and right course for the country and the world to take, as there was no heavenly reward coming to make up for all of the injustices and inequalities of life. I soon realized, however, that giving ever more power to the state was just as dangerous as power in the hands of the church. In our pluralistic culture no one religious sect dominates (though the politicized Christian right has tried to gain such influence and dominance for itself) but with the government you have an authority with monopoly power, including the monopoly of the use of force. It came to having to acknowledge that the State's threat of fines, jail and prison inforced by police and courts was as reprehensible as the threats of damnation and hellfire that the Church uses to keep people under its control. Libertarianism or anarchism is therefore the only political philosophy consistent with atheism's rejection of all gods, for to rid ourselves of the gods of Christianity, Judaism and Islam while retaining the God of the all-powerful State only trades one tyranny for another.

Then there was the simple fact of capitalism's amazing productivity and the abundance of goods and services it produces. Life is made better for all through the freedom of the market and the poorest Americans today are richer in real terms than the wealthiest of times past. Would you rather be a millionaire in 1808 or 1908 instead of a person of average income in 2008? We are getting richer and richer (over the long term) and the only way for that progress to slow or come to a halt is if we abandon the principles that gave us that wealth in the first place. How much wealthier might we all be if the United States had not heeded the call of the early progressive movement and had stayed the course that had brought so much prosperity to so many so quickly during our nation's first one hundred years?

So that's part of my explanation for the topics this blog covers. If you are an atheist but not a libertarian (nothing to do with the loser Libertarian party, by the way) then I see you as a fellow freethinker just the same, and likewise if you are libertarian in your political views but of a religious persuasion then we can agree to disagree on gods and holy books while remaining friends and allies when it comes to opposing state oppression. Anything else I write about here you can just attribute to my personal idiosyncrasies.

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