Natural Selection and the Newspaper Industry March 30, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: evolution, intelligent design, natural selection, newspaper
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Evolution is a fact. We have seen it happen, so it is certain insofar as we can be certain of anything. Evolution is the basis for modern biology, and is as solidly supported by scientific evidence as gravity. The evidence is so overwhelming in support of the fact that over millions of years processes have caused species to come into being through natural means.
The central process that is responsible for this evolution, natural selection, is rather simple. And yet it is commonly misunderstood, even by intelligent people, in a number of different ways. Thus, I have decided to write about an example, analogous to natural selection in another place than biology; journalism.
In this case, the environment of this process is the media. And in this case I will talk about the newspaper industry, and use its demise as an example of how the change in an environment can cause a species to die out, leaving behind a mutation of itself behind. Thus, in the future, there could be some journalist that might say that there career was not the descendant of a newspaper, because if that were true why are there still newspapers? (as a few newspapers might still exist even then)…and we might recognize this as familiar to us.
The recording of information is a rather old convention of human culture. The very definition of history is intimately tied to this convention, in fact. At some point we became technologically advanced enough to produce pieces of paper in large enough quantities, and quickly enough, in order to have hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions of copies sold a day. Thus the newspaper industry was born.
As technology advanced, information was able to be disseminated by other means. Television was one effective change on this industry, but the internet, especially paired with mobile devices, is the most effective of these technologies. This is a change in the environment. It’s the analogy of a climatic change for information. As more people started to read news on the internet, newspapers started to sell less copies. Now we have come to the point where major segments of the newspaper industry are closing down.
Now the analogy is not precise. It is, in fact, largely very different. Nonetheless I think its an interesting analogy to compare the information that is transmitted through news media and the genetic information passed down through sexual reproduction in looking at the ways that the environment will select certain carriers of the news. In a similar way that the genetic information carried in a smarter, stronger, or better hidden biological life form will tend to pass down more offspring, the technology we have will select the vehicles of information that will reach human readers in better ways.
Newspapers are a species that are having less and less offspring. At some time in the last few decades a mutation of this form of media came about and, at first, was odd looking and not well adapted to the culture. But over time,, as the environment changed as the internet spread in usage by more people, this mutation began to transform and be shaped into a wonderful tool that we use today.
Now, there is one major difference between my analogy and the processes involved in evolution. While the transmission of information through various media (like blogs) is the result of intelligent choice (although some choices may not be particularly intelligent), the process of natural selection is not based on any intelligence at all. For the vast majority of evolutionary history, there was no such thing as intelligence, as intelligence is one by-product of this process. That is, while we choose where we read our news with self-awareness, the universe (or the Earth, in this case) does not choose which species survive with any self-awareness. The process is blind, in biology, but it is not blind in terms of where we read our news.
It is this that creates the fundamental misunderstanding about natural selection. It is not a selection in the sense of a choice. It is not a process that has life choose its path and certain choices work better in nature. It is a random mutation that has either no effect or a change in the offspring, having a detrimental effect, positive effect, or no noticeable effect on that offspring’s ability to reproduce itself.
And as these mutated offspring either have no offspring (mutation is not passed on), more offspring (Spreading the mutation at a increased rate) or has little to no effect (mutation becomes moderately spread in the species), then we will see a change in the species as a whole.
This is a natural process, not one driven by intelligence or intentional design. It does not need a god to explain it, and it has nothing to do with the ultimate origin of life. This only deals with what happens when life already exists, and so retreating behind the question of “ok, well how does life get there in the first place” is not a challenge to evolution at all.
The reason, by the way, that there are still monkeys is because we didn’t evolve from them. Other primates and ourselves evolved from a common ancestor. Thus, the monkeys, apes, etc are as evolved as we are. Evolution is not a ladder, nor does it have a goal. We are not more evolved than an ape, a cat, or bacteria. We just have the perhaps unique quality of self-awareness that allows us to actually try to make sense of a senseless process, and thus to add gods to it unnecessarily.
Irreducible Complexity; a conversation with God March 24, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: design, god, irreducible coplexity
He sat for a while considering this argument. It had a subtle, yet undeniable truth that his mind wanted to reject, but couldn’t. It was a good argument, and he didn’t know how to reconcile it in his mind quite yet. He had thought that this was all there was, that no greater world existed, that this was the only reality. And on top of that, this was supposed to be his day off and he was supposed to be resting. Instead, he found that his mind was as busy as he had been with the rest of himself for the previous six days. It had been a long week, and and he wished that he could just rest, but rest would not come.
“So, what you are saying is that things in this world are too complex, and that no amount of time or normal processes could be enough to have these things come about by chance. They have to have a designer?”
The question had already been answered, but he just had wanted to make sure he could package it altogether nicely. Rather than answer him, his visitor just sat there, smiling.
He suddenly felt very presumptuous. He tried to remember how important he had felt as he built and created all week. He tried to recapture that feeling of pride in having done good work, but suddenly he thought that it had all been part of a greater plan. Because if this visitor of his was right, it would seem to indicate a need for there to be something larger, more powerful, and more intelligent than he–greater than this whole world that he thought he knew.
The argument of this visitor seemed air-tight. How could this world with all of its complexity and beauty have been brought about by simple chance? It must be the design of some greater force. He suddenly felt very humble, and the feeling of some presence, some power, some beneficence that surrounded him suddenly became overwhelming. It felt as if it had always been there, but that some pride or refusal to feel it had been present too but was now too weak to maintain itself. And as that pride began to crumble, he allowed it to wash over him, and he felt reborn.
Tears flowed, thoughts and muttered words of gratefulness, love, and overwhelming joy filled him as he felt this presence flow through him. As his visitor watched, he walked over to him and put a hand upon his shoulder, and they both stayed that way for some time.
“I thought that I was somehow in control. I thought that I was only answerable to me. I thought….”
“It’s OK; you didn’t know. But now that you do know, what will you do about it?”
He thought about this, and in that moment of deep feeling and passion for this new understanding, he rose to his feet and proclaimed to all that could hear him that….
“I will submit myself to this greater force. I will heed its commandments, share its love, and I will hope to one day make myself worthy of it. I will make sure that I spend my days in worship of this new found presence, and I thank you for showing it to me.”
The visitor smiled a little and looked into his eyes.
“I did nothing. I merely helped you open a door that you had closed through your own pride. You have denied the presence of its power too long, and you are now on the path to being righteous.
And as Yahweh looked at the visitor he fully appreciated, for the first time, that he, the great Yahweh, must have been the creation of an intelligent designer, for anything that is complex needs a maker. And to think, he had thought that it had been all about him, just because he created a universe. These superficial things, these false points of pride, were as nothing to this greater force. He tried to imagine what this greater power must have been like. It was probably beyond his ability to know.
So he stopped thinking about it.
And that is how God found super god.
Super god sat for a while considering this argument. It had a subtle, yet undeniable truth that his mind wanted to reject, but couldn’t….
A Message for ‘Agnostics’ March 20, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
I’ve met, in my travels, a number of people who call themselves ‘agnostic.’ In many cases, they contrast this position against my being an atheist, saying that they are not willing to say that there is no god, they just don’t know. They aren’t religious and they just don’t understand why we atheists can think that we know there isn’t a god. Well, I have a message for people who hold this point of view.
Agnostics, you are atheists too.
OK, allow me to clarify. When a person tells me that they don’t know whether a god exists, thus calling themselves an agnostic, they are trying to contrast their perspective with what they think mine–an atheist’s–is. What they do not understand is that in most cases, when someone calls themselves an agnostic, they mean exactly the same thing that I do when I call myself an atheist.
I call myself an agnostic-atheist in these conversations. This usually causes the self-identified ‘agnostic’ to look at me with some confusion. “How can you be both?” they ask, and I say that the terms ‘agnostic’ and ‘atheist’ address different questions and are not mutually exclusive.
Let me break it down for you:
Theist: One who holds a belief in some god or gods.
Atheist: One who lacks belief in any gods (a- = negation or lack)
gnostic: this is a Greek word for knowledge. Not to be confused with the ancient religious traditions generally referred to as the Gnostics. This term simply means knowledge, and in this context it implies that to be a ‘gnostic’ is to know whether or not there is a god.
agnostic: to either claim to not know whether there is a god or not or to believe it to be impossible to know whether there is a god or not.
Thus, if I am an agnostic-atheist, it means that while I do not know with certainty that there is no god of any kind, I do not currently believe there is one. That is, I am not convinced in the existence of a god. I do not claim to know that there are no gods of any kind.
Also, an agnostic-theist is someone who, while not having certainty, believes that a god exists. And while they may claim certainty, I believe that this is impossible. While one cannot deny the experiences they have, they can be skeptical about the interpretation of those experiences. Thus, a person’s ‘experience of god,’ while it may be a real experience, may have another explanation and thus cannot be used as certain knowledge of god, just of some experience that they interpret as god.
So, what would a gnostic-atheist or a gnostic-theist look like? This would be a person who was certain that they knew whether or not there was a god. Does anybody fit this criteria? I don’t think so.
And while an atheist might say that a particular god does not exist, whether due to logical impossibility or for any other reason, this does not address that larger question of whether any gods exist. Thus, ‘gnostic’ seems to be an impossible position to hold, for me, and thus agnostic actually becomes redundant, since everyone is an agnostic.
Agnosticism is not some fence position between atheism and theism. It is not some place where you can sit and feel superior to atheists because you aren’t being judgmental towards belief in god. Rather, it is what you call yourself when you don’t know what an atheist means when they say they don’t believe in god. It is a way to weasel out of answering the question of whether you believe in god or not. The answer “I’m agnostic” is answering a different question, not fence-sitting.
You either believe in some god or you do not. There is no possible middle ground on this issue.
If you are not sure or you are still thinking about it, it means that you don’t currently actually hold a belief in a god, and are, technically, an atheist. Similarly, if you believe but are still questioning, you are a theist. I’m sure that some people waver between being an atheist and a theist many times, perhaps depending on mood, the last argument for or against, and maybe even how their day is going.
But for you ‘agnostics’ who think that calling yourself an ‘agnostic’ because you have bought this BS about atheism being the absurd position of certainty that no god exists have swallowed it whole. You are likely atheists.
My SO has an OSO March 18, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
What the hell does that mean?
This is poly lingo. It means that my significant other (SO) has another significant other (OSO). It means that my girlfriend has another boyfriend. As a song does, My girlfriend’s boyfriend isn’t me…or something.
How does this make me feel? Well, at first I felt a little bit threatened and jealous. But then I thought about it. See, I don’t get to spend enough time with…crap, this is the point which I wonder how identifying the specific people might be a problem. OK, I’m calling her Susan. In any case, she tells me that she’s met a guy that she likes, and has been seeing him for a little while. The thing is that I don’t see her enough to satisfy her. She wants more, and I cannot blame her. She deserves to be happy, and I can’t see her enough to keep her happy enough, and so I’m OK with her dating someone else. Bottom line, I love being with her, and I want it to continue. So, what could go wrong?
Well, despite the fact that they are both bisexual, they don’t get along. They did for a short while, but that time has passed. Now, my primary (I’ll call her Natalie) is not sure about this situation, and wishes that things had not turned out this way. She will not be happy knowing that I am having sex with a woman who is having sex with another man, mostly because it can be risky in terms of STI’s. It is a valid concern. But I trust ‘Susan’s’ judgment, and I will make sure that my caution is satisfied before this goes too far. My concern now is the fact that if ‘Natalie’ wants more than I can give, and her reluctance to pursue this.
Details are not necessary. All that matters is that both of them have needs I cannot fulfill myself, just as each of them cannot fulfill my needs themselves. I want them to be happy, but love them both, yet in different ways. I will feel a little jealous at times, but I recognize that I am able to share myself and feel joy and love for both, so can they both as well.
We, as a culture, need to stop worshiping the need to own our loved ones. Think how many love songs talk of the ones we are with belonging to us, or whatever. This is a drug that is based on our own fears and insecurities. We need to love the people we are with, including their desires as they really are, otherwise we are mostly pretending to love them rather than the mutual dependence that our culture calls monogamy.
I’m happy that ‘Susan’ may find another to care about. I feel genuine compersion (look up this term, it may be of interest to you out there).
The assumption of monogamy; being polyamorous at a party March 14, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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So, I’ve noticed that when people are at parties, meeting people, flirting, etc, there is a time in the conversation when it becomes clear that the person you are talking to is involved in a relationship. At this point, I have noticed that the flirting dies down, and often the physical distance increases. You suddenly see the person going into “respectful distance” mode or something.
Now, it isn’t that I’m looking for hookups, or that I’m interested n another relationship or anything, just notice that in almost every situation (except polyamory meetups, of course), someone being in a relationship somehow automatically throws out the possibility of continued flirting. And if it doesn’t stop, the tone of it always ends up as being playful, at most. I wonder if this is an indication of how many people still may harbor desires that would be compatible with polyamory. I also wonder if this is a way to test the possible waters of an affair or to see if, just maybe, they may not be particularly happy with their relationship and may be thinking about establishing some chemistry in case things don’t work out. The next time they see the same person at a party both flirting interlocutors may be single; then, well, nature takes its course.
I bring this up because of a particular situation. I was at a party with one of my lovely ladies last night when I noticed that a guy was apparently flirting with her. He may have just been friendly, but she’s an attractive woman, and I wouldn’t blame him for being interested. Now, at some point, he asked about the nature of our knowing one-another, and asked if we were together. When he found that we were, his demeanor changed slightly, probably not enough for her to notice, but I did. Now, I appreciate the respect that is most-likely intended here, but I could not help but think that it was based upon the assumption, shared by most people for fair reasons, that we were monogamous. I suppose I’d rather live in a world where the next question would move towards figuring out if we were monogamous or not, rather than assume it.
I don’t know if it’s ever happened to me in particular, but what happens if two polyamorous couples (or two swinging couples) meet at a party (just a regular party, not at a swinger’s club) and they both just assume the others are, well, “normal?” Well, what happens is that everyone may be thinking about something that won’t come up. Oh wait, that’s why there is alcohol and the “swapping” jokes that lots of couples say with one another, sometimes to test the waters or just because it tickles them the right way.
I just wish people could be more direct. Yes, I now that this will intimidate people who have not found comfort in these non-normal ways of life, and that some who may be interested will become defensive and react as such, but that’s their problem, right?
In any case, I just sort of wish that monogamy was not assumed. Hell, if my lovely lady and this gentlemen liked one-another, and both wanted to pursue a possible relationship, I might have been OK with that. He seemed lie a nice guy and (while I’m not bi) he was attractive, so it may not have been necessary to discontinue the flirtation. But, in the end, nothing came of it. And what’s worse, for me, is that I was unable to even educate people about this lifestyle of mine. I think that there are more potential poly people out there who just don’t think that anyone else thinks about things like this, thus they remain monotonous…sorry, I meant monogamous.
And then there was this girl there that I thought was interesting…but, like I said, I’m not looking….
Theists; it is time to put away childish things March 10, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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Seriously, enough already. It’s time to put away the childish mythologies and join reality. It’s time to stop holding onto bronze-age myths and superstitions. It’s time to challenge yourself to either seriously look at your beliefs with an honest desire for reality.
You want to believe in god, fine. But for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, stop with the silly virgin births, reincarnations, prayer, and sin already. These things are silly and absurd, and we must, as a species, move past them if we are to move forward to make this world better fir all of us.
Please, enough already.
“luke warm” atheists March 9, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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I have atheist friends that think I’m a bad atheist.
No, really. I do actually have friends. I also have acquaintances and perhaps an enemy or two. I’ll keep you up to date if any legendary battles ensue that involves any kung fu or car chases.
Now, most of my friends are atheists. OK, I would define them as such, but perhaps they would not self-identify as such; most of them are generally non-religious, at very least. I am close to a few people that are religious and theists as well, and I do get along with them quite well. But what I have come to realize is that people have personalities independent of an opinion about gods or religions. I mean this in the sense that there are certain dispositions towards certain types of issues that have some determination on how they will behave. Now, before I cause your vague-o-meter to explode, allow me to be a bit more specific, if I may.
One’s opinion considering the existence of god is one thing. Another is what one does with this conclusion, assuming they really care at all. Within some Christian circles you will hear criticism about those that are “luke warm” (and I don’t think they mean that they left the New Testament on the radiator), rather than being “on fire for Christ,” or whatever the kids are saying these days. Similarly, there are people who are “luke warm” about their position in our society as atheists, rather than active, outspoken, etc.
I get this. No, really, I do! For them, this activity to criticize and battle against the minority that are trying to maintain some theocratic type of control are wasting our time or, as some have said to me, doing more harm than good. They live in a world, a real world, where progress has moved on. They ignore or are willing to live along side those that they disagree with because they don’t see what people like me are doing as helpful, but rather harmful or merely setting back progress. They have other priorities.
I want to be them, I want to live in the world that they live in. But, frankly, I think that their world has a little bit of fantasy in it as well. I think this because they forget that it was the efforts of people like us, the people “on fire for the lack of god,” (lol) in cooperation with the work of scientists, engineers, inventors, and so forth that we have progressed. They also fail to see what we are really doing. They tend to think that we are creating the problem by putting people on the defensive, when in fact we are generally only responding to the problems we see.
Now, I will grant that there are some that do provoke people, and this may cause defensiveness. I also believe that this is sometimes the only way you will get through to some people. There have been a number of comments sent, for example, to the Rational Response Squad that have said that without their aggressive tactics, they would have never realized their own delusions and moved past their religious convictions. And then there will be some people simply put off by such tactics. Their insecurity about their beliefs are the real issue for those people, I think, the faith itself being a symptom. Criticism of your beliefs should be either shrugged off or taken as a personal challenge, and not be met with defensiveness.
There are many out there that are still swayed by the proclamations of the minority fundamentalists. There are families being torn apart as people discover their lack of belief in some god, people swindled out of their money by televangelists, and there are people that believe that scientists are involved in an evil conspiracy to promote the lie of evolution. In my opinion, there must be a front line in this set of circumstances; their must be people that engage the people that promote and are insidiously duped by these promoters. To do otherwise would be to leave the misinformed, ignorant, and swindled on their own.
And the more people willing to stand up for good science standards in our schools, good sex education, and the freedom to criticize will help ensure that the future will be one that these people already think they are living in. And if they don’t already think we are living in that world, then what harm are we doing? And if we aren’t doing it right, then, by all means, show us how.
Because right now, you (and you know who you are…) are not doing anything but ignoring the undesirable effects of continued religious influence on society except to tell us we are doing it wrong.
So put up or shut up, haters.
The false wisdom of religious myths March 4, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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‘Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way,…and few there be that find it.’ When a modern religion forgets this saying, it is suffering from an atavistic relapse into primitive barbarism. It is appealing to the psychology of the herd, away from the intuitions of the few.
This is a quote from the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, from his Religion in the Making. To some it might sound like a promotional phrase from a local Christian organization, in that it might be interpreted such that it demonstrates how so many seem to miss God’s word, and only the few will accept it. But, knowing Whitehead a little better than that, I can say that it means something quite different.
Whitehead’s use of the term “few” is interesting and perhaps misleading. He does not mean that few will attain or choose this straight and narrow, but rather that few will comprehend the complexity in order to navigate it. The issue of religion in all of its philosophical, psychological, and sociological factors is much too complex to be comprehended in simplistic dogma handed to us as the “truth.” Thus any religious group that gives answers to the difficult questions of life in a way that hordes of people can understand and try to follow has severely, I believe, oversimplified the matter, and acts as a stumbling block to true wisdom. True understanding takesr genuine effort.
For those that would respond by saying that it is through belief that we will understand, I say bullshit. Our minds are plastic enough to rationalize something nonsensical which we accept, but this does not ean it will stand up to more objective scrutiny. Socrates is credited with saying “I know that I know nothing,” which made him wise in the eyes of many both ancient and contemporary. Many of those you will find preaching the “Word” today might claim a similar ignorance in saying that we only have the wisdom of man, while there is a wisdom of God available to those who choose to accept it.
But how is our “flawed” human wisdom to recognize divine wisdom without a divine point of view on our parts? This would not be a problem for a theoretical God-man, but it is a serious problem for any fully human receiver of that message to be able to recognize that the messenger or the message is legitimate without access to the divine wisdom in question. (Can anyone say circular reasoning?)
Our wisdom is indeed limited, and we each have much to learn in order to understand the vast universe. But this reasoning is not sufficient to conclude that our wisdom is so inferior that we should capitulate to dogmas and doctrines about the universe that offer a simplistic solution to difficult issues. The fact is that most people will never understand the world or themselves sufficiently in order to approach religious notions with serious comprehension. Yet some will. It is for the more rare mind that the social and psychological constructions of religion become clear. Many others, the “herd,” adhere to simplistic ideologies and beliefs in place of truly comprehensive understanding of religion either because they lack the time or energy to do so.
Religion in our culture has become so watered down, so common, that even someone uneducated in critical thinking, religious history, and philosophy can claim the supremacy of the “Word.” This is not to say that religion is without merit or significance, as there is much to religious thinking that is wonderfully deep and philosophical. Unfortunately, most are unable to appreciate this. And when they do appreciate it they utilize religion’s philosophical depth in order to argue that the simplistic notions epiphenomenal to this depth to are valid in themselves. In other words, they use the wisdom hidden behind the superficial myths to validate the myth.
As a Zen master once said, once you have used the finger to point out the moon, you no longer have use for the finger. So, if you find something useful and wise in the depths of religious traditions, wonderful. My suggestion is to throw away the simplistic dogmas that are promulgated as a lure for the masses in order to truly understand what is important in religious thought for the pursuit and love of wisdom. After all, the few are so few only because the masses don’t try hard enough, don’t care, or are too defensive or stubborn about their beliefs to challenge them.
Tags: life lessons, responsibility
You know, sometimes the only way to learn a lesson about yourself is to see what evil you are capable of. Sometimes, for the unfortunate few, you can only truly grow and improve yourself upon reaching lows in life. I think that this is because when we are low we are finally willing to face the tough questions, challenge ourselves in deeper ways, and the ascension gives us newer perspectives.
The shame is that so many people that discover this give “god” the credit. I think that this diminishes the lesson.
There is a myth about atheists which I hear regularly from people, especially Christians. Basically, the idea is that people want to live a certain way, and knowing that god would not allow such things, they simply reject god in order to live a life of…well, sin. A Christian might say that our desire for sin overpowers our desire for salvation. That’s an interesting way to frame the discussion, but it is not how I would phrase it. I would say that I want to enjoy my life in ways that some would consider wrong, but which I don’t see reasons for them being wrong.
The idea that atheists turn away from god in order to not be subject to god’s laws (no matter the particular set of laws they believe) is based on the assumption that god’s truth is obvious to us, but we reject it. I understand why this line of thought makes sense to believers; the idea of god’s reality is so close to their mind that they have trouble imagining not believing in god. But the conclusion that atheists make concerning their views on gods is not a derivation of the lifestyle they choose. In fact, this conclusion is not a choice at all.
I never chose not to accept god, to reject god, or to not believe in any hods. Atheism is not a choice at all. It is what one concludes upon looking at the reasons, evidence, etc concerning god and finding that they are not convinced that one exists. Of course, one can have good or bad reasons to believe or to lack belief, and if one were to say that they didn’t believe in a god because they want to live their lives without hindrance, that is not a good reason.
So, if someone asks me if I am an atheist so that I can live my life in ways that are not acceptable according to their scripture, I tell them that it is mostly irrelevant what their scripture says because I don’t believe that it is any more than a fairy tale anyway. If a book tells me I can’t drink alcohol, I don’t reject that god and that religion because I want to drink., Rather, I have already found that I don’t believe in the god of that religion and subsequently found that this rule about not drinking to be silly in addition to my pre-existing lack of belief. And even if I think the rule silly before this lack of belief, people don’t actually reject deities solely because they don’t like the rules.
What I think is really going on here, in some cases anyway, is religious folks feel the desire to do things which their religions say they cannot do in good standing with their god. So when they see people outside of their religion doing those things, they project the sting of that desire as well as the guilt they feel at desiring it and place it on the person they see. Thus, they may conclude that the other person, in order to deal with this guilt, has convinced themselves that there is no god so that they can go about their sinning without feeling bad. The theist, for some reason, either cannot or will not understand that the lack of belief is actually derived from the so-called evidence not standing up to scrutiny.
Now, from my point of view, what religion often does is tells you that you cannot do things that are often in our nature, telling followers that these desires are either the work of Satan tempting us, our human pride in our own sinful ways, or some other mythology to explain away why we have desires that lead us towards “evil.” And some of our desires will lead us to do things we should not do, and we need to make sure that we are not controlled by these desires completely. But sometimes our desires are OK to explore, and not doing so will create resentment, guilt, and other long-term harm to ourselves for no good reason at all.
I’ve met too many people in my life who have lived a life of guilt, repression, etc based on religion-based fears to be able to give religion a pass on this. Telling people that their desires are evil is disgusting. Making people live in the closet (Ted Haggard, anyone?), creating a culture that makes cheating more acceptable than polyamory (I can’t tell you how many people will react worse to an open and honest sharing of your loved ones than to doing it behind closed doors in secret) , and to generally convincing people that they are sinners and guilty automatically for some mythological fruit-based sin….
For fuck’s sake, the Original SIn was because someone gained knowledge of good and evil? I won’t even comment…
I live my life according to an ethical view that makes primary honesty, concern for the desires of others, and doing no harm where hard is not wanted. If your scripture (or your interpretation thereof) states that something I’m doing with full consent of all involved, then I find your book silly. I find it silly because I see no reason to accept that any gods exist, let alone your particular interpretation of your particular book of your particular god.