The Vatican is by far the smallest State in the world, being just over a hundred acres in size. It plays at being a real State by issuing its own stamps, but it has no proper citizens (just transient employees of the Catholic Church), few public services (Italy provides it with police and water) and no real economy (though it does have a novelty ATM machine that issues instructions in Latin).
An atheist running for President of the United States today faces roughly the same level of prejudice from voters as a female candidate would have faced in the 1940s while women workers were being sacked to make way for returning soldiers.
When Tibetan Buddhist monks meditate for many years, they gradually change the molecular structure of their brains. MRI scans show they experience more activity in the left pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain that is associated with happiness, and less activity in the right-hand side, which handles negative thoughts.
Why do people believe that living in California would make them feel happier than people who do live in California actually are? And why do people, who are afraid of being rejected, want more drugs than people who have actually been rejected?
I am an atheist because I reject the idea that gods exist, in the same way and for the same reasons that I reject the ideas that that the earth is balanced on the back of a sea turtle, that homeopathy is more useful than a heart transplant, that Rapunzel wove her hair into a ladder or Rumpelstiltskin wove straw into gold, that stepping on a pavement crack will break my mother’s back, that a deposed Nigerian prince wants to email me several million dollars, that Uri Geller can bend spoons with his mind, that I am in danger from vampires or zombies or broken mirrors, or that I am protected by angels or leprechauns or horseshoes.
Americans elect a lot of public officials – over half a million, from the President down to school district level. If atheists and other nonbelievers were represented fairly, you would expect about 50 in the US Congress and another 50,000 at State and local level.
Between 1995 and 2005, the best six countries in which to live a long happy life were Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Sweden and Australia. If you lived in one of these places, you could expect to have sixty or more ‘happy-years’ of life. ‘Happy-years’ are calculated by multiplying happiness levels by life expectancy. Continue reading “Where to live a long happy life”
The idea of gods is bad for society, because it spreads irrational dogma that causes good people to do bad things. This affects three practical areas of our lives: the quest for knowledge, treating people fairly, and civic society.
Rational thinking makes the following more likely: Enquiry: an ongoing unbiased quest for knowledge and truth. Empathy: adult ethics, based on relating to other living beings. Equality: a secular society that protects everybody’s rights.