Behind the Design - You're an Atheist Too (Mostly) January 21, 2015 17:51 1 Comment
We’ve had this conversation quite a bit, have we not? Just what do we mean when we say “I am an atheist?” There are numerous connotations that jump into people’s minds: we are humanists, skeptics, maybe cynics, some of us liberal, some of us libertarian. The one thing we all have in common, the unifying facet, the main tenet of being an atheist: an atheist says, “I don’t believe in god.”
We don’t have a campus lawn’s worth of space, but we’ve got a torso’s worth. With this new design, let believers know that “You’re an atheist too (mostly).” Ask them to understand why they are so ready to dismiss out of hand the pantheon of gods and goddesses that do not align with the circumstances of their birth, and hopefully they’ll understand why we just add one more to the list.
Higgs Slams "Fundamentalist" Dawkins December 30, 2012 08:07 59 Comments
Theoretical Physicist Peter Higgs
In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, theoretical physicist Peter Higgs says of Richard, "What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists"
Yes, there are many believers who are not fundamentalists. I feel we must respectfully reply with: So, what? There's no avoiding it, love him or loathe him, Dawkins has earned his somewhat memetic (apropos) title of Darwin's Rottweiler. His academic, internet, and pop culture fame are due largely to his refreshingly straightforward and unafraid take on faith. Many of you can probably recall the first time you picked up The Selfish Gene, or perhaps the first time you overheard a coffee shop chat about this "God Delusion" thing, or indeed the first YouTube link emailed to you slightly timidly by an old college friend with the subject line of, "Damn. This dude is hardcore!"
Peter Higgs is certainly an incredible scientist, thinker, and for all I know, person. Yet, his problem with Dawkins is that of a perceived fundamentalism. He doesn't argue with Dawkins on the facts, the evidence, or even the arguments themselves. If we're frank about it, Higgs is put off by Dawkins' apparent inability to tenderly coax his audience with kindness and caring. Higgs flat-out calls the Dawkins approach "embarrassing." In 2007, Richard addressed so-called atheist fundamentalism by writing:
"Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may 'believe', in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will."
As an ex-Mormon who was once-upon-a-time fully indoctrinated into a sea of criminally stupid lies, I would ask Professor Higgs why he considers it embarrassing to showcase fact without regard for how it may be perceived. Why he considers it embarrassing to tell someone they're wrong, using as many words, when they claim that the earth is 5,000 years old. Why he considers it embarrassing to not shy away from terms like "child abuse" when referring to the psychological impact that promises of eternal hellfire might have on a toddler.
My views about the natural world were once very, wildly incorrect, but it wasn't the role of the scientist to try to manipulate me into seeing particles of truth which I may or may not have agreed with just as it wouldn't be the role of the accountant to tell me that my savings account is doing "pretty ok, kind of" when I'm really $300 in the shit! The role of my friends, my family, my mentors, and especially myself is to sympathize with my thoughts and question why I believe what I believe. Can we not agree that the role of the scientist is to tell, show, and demonstrate the truth as it has been revealed to them by evidence? Please let's not have them waste time by wondering how the truth might affect our emotional sensibilities. That, my fine Professor Higgs, would be embarrassing.
Please let me know if you disagree, below. Meanwhile, please permit me to humbly plug our very relevant shirt, the "Militant" Atheist!
Happy Holidays from Your Judgmental Family December 28, 2012 22:52 3 Comments
Hi, faithful faithless readers! I apologize for the lack of updates during the holidays, but simultaneously celebrating an amalgamation of pagan/Germanic/Norse mythos AND changing our e-commerce service has left me drained. Articles, talkery, and other writings are in the pipeline, but that pipeline is blocked up and needs copious amounts of Tennessee Honey Jack to unclog it (the perfect belated Christmas gift!).
If you're stuck with the question, "How do I quickly get diabetes and liver failure simultaneously," you have your answer.
In the interim, I thought I'd share a joyous little holiday anecdote from a few days back and see if anyone can top it. This is my first Christmas as an out-and-about atheist. For this holiday season, my stepmother insisted that our entire immediate family spend 3 days in Disneyland and its surrounding environs, to celebrate the season, each other, her 50th birthday. Oh, and the fact that the world didn't experience a Mayan Ragnarok on the 21st (if you press her about that last bit, she'll say she was joking on that front, but she was not. She was genuinely worried that a different culture was right about the apocalypse. She's been canning preserves for months). This was your typical family trip - awful identical shirts we all had to wear, cramped lodgings, and the predictable emotional meltdown on day 3. But, and this was an actual worry throughout, my particular brand of heathenism did not come up. We got along, we exchanged gifts, we avoided ToonTown like a plague.
Part of you never leaves ToonTown. Part of you is trapped, forever screaming for death.
I was, however, accosted by EXTENDED family. Our first day in southern California (or The So-C, as I call it), wasn't theme parks, it was a meet-up with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, hangers-on, etc., all of whom make the area surrounding Mt. Disney their home. After a dinner scheduled for 2PM - because you eat that early on holidays - we gathered at Oma and Opa's house to exchange gifts, hang out, watch toddlers be toddlers, and make general merriment. That is, until I had the following surprise conversation with my uncle:
Kyle: ::watching nieces play and have fun::
Uncle: "So, Kyle, are you a full-blown atheist or do you still go to church?"
Kyle: ::eyes pop, momentary stunned silemce:: "Uh, no, I guess the former. I don't go to church."
Uncle: "So you're fully embracing the wrath of evil, then?"
Kyle: "Well, no, I don't see it like that at all. I don't think I'm 'evil'."
Uncle: "But how do you KNOW!?"
Kyle: "I don't! That's the point...."
At this point we were interrupted by family shenanigans of some kind, and were unable to finish what was started. I have no idea how many people overheard this exchange. I don't know if my sweet octogenarian grandmother heard the word "atheist" in her home. I have zero intention of sharing my point of view with my Dutch Catholic grandparents. It's not important; to me it is trivial information, to them it could be potentially heartbreaking.And as much as I would have liked to fully explain my position to my uncle (who was always the cool uncle growing up, the one with the beat-up stationwagon who gave us surfing lessons), that was NOT the venue for such a debate. I'm glad it never came up again, but I'd have preferred it not come up at all.
What about you, gang? Please, top my holiday heathen anecdote! Was this anyone else's first Christmas out and about? Any blowups concerning the divinity of the little ceramic baby in the manger? Tell us about it!
If you're looking for the perfect belated Mithras gift for that especial non-believer in your life, look no further!
Your "War On Christmas" Round-Up! December 01, 2012 09:56 12 Comments
Pat Robertson, either communicating with God or passing one heck of a BM. (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)
Talking Heads Say Ludicrous Things with SURPRISE TWIST
Halls are being decked, sugar plums are now invading dreams, and chestnuts have begun roasting themselves on open fires (if you're wealthy enough to have picked up some of those great automated self-roasting Chestnutbots). Yes, the holiday season is upon us all, and whether or not you go in for that sort of merriment, we can all share in the warmth and joy of one yuletide tradition: the War on Christmas, waged by foreigners, non-believers, and the Jewish. Gather round, my darlings!
On the 19th of November, the year of no lord 2012, Cryptkeeper-In-Training Pat Robertson lamented that atheists were actively forcing all God-loving/fearing Christians to be miserable this holiday season because, "They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable." This came as a response to a story about the city of Santa Monica shutting down a nativity display in a public park because atheists had decided to set up their own display as well. Robertson is often attacking atheists, usually in response for how often we attack the religious, with, according to him, the same level of ferocity and determination as the Nazis vs the Jews. Frankly, I would be on board for a Grinch-like stealing of Christmas. I love Christmas. I want it just for me!
But we'll come back to Robertson in a bit. One couldn't fire the opening shots of the War on Christmas without Bill O'Reilly at the front lines, saying one of the most foolish, "get-out-of-jail-free" statements we've ever heard. In an interview with David Silverman, who is apparently our "leader," if the video's title is to be believed, O'Reilly not only calls atheists a "merry band of fascists," he not only offers us the winter solstice so we can leave Christmas alone - he outright calls Christianity a philosophy. Not a religion.
At that point, everyone in the audience and all the crew did a simultaneous spit-take, drowning seven. (Source: gawker)
He is staggeringly adamant about this. I really hope, I wish upon the furthest star in the sky, I dream the impossible dream that pressed on this issue, Bill O'Reilly would gladly advocate for the taxation of every... um, "house of philosophy" that pulls in money from its philosophy tithes. Can't tax a religion, but we can sure as hell finance our deficit with an immensely profitable philosophy, right? Bill dug himself even deeper on his next night's broadcast, where he insisted on his "philosophy-not-religion" angle while arguing about Holiday Tree VS Christmas Tree with independent Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.
But the volleys in this violent, bloody War on Christmas aren't just coming from the aged and Fox News'd. No, we have our own band of mischief makers causing a ruckus. In a severe case of taking sarcasm and crushing irony way too far, Pennsylvanian Pastafarians are demanding an equal amount of festive display outside the Chester County courthouse. Yes, beside the nativity, the tree, and the token menorah off in the corner, Evangelical Pastafarian Tracy McPherson demands equal representation for her noodle-based lord.
This deserves equal treatment. (Source: The Raw Story)
Who is this for, exactly? How cynical, sour-faced and dull do you have to be to drive by a courthouse with a display equally representing Christmas, Hanukkah, and made-up ironic mishegoss and say "Got 'em!"? What, precisely, is the point? This helps no one, this level of unbridled sarcasm and witlessness. At best it is a waste of everyone's time and energy; at worst it feeds directly into the notion that the O'Reillys of the world already have - that atheists are, at the crux of it, intent on slander and mockery. I get simply saying "Well, why not make room for every bit of 'religious' imagery - they're all as likely to be true!" But going so far as to stand in front of a council of county commissioners and state, “As a Pastafarian, I believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world and all that is in it... He holds us all to the ground with his noodly appendages and that explains why we do not float away" doesn't make anyone think seriously about their own beliefs - it just makes us quite irritable towards YOU. So cut it out.
And hey, from one Proud Atheist to another, Merry Christmas!
Speaking of the season of giving, why not give one of our wonderful shirts as a gift to that lucky nonbeliever in your life?
Just What, Exactly, Is Atheism? November 21, 2012 08:58 33 Comments
Ever since I brought the question of Atheism Plus to this blog, my being, my very core, has been shattered, and every granule remaining from the devastating destruction is poised, waiting on the brink to turn on its fellow granules and wage all-out total war in an effort to prove what is and what is not. In other, less grandiose, and, let's face it, false words, the response to the blog, and in turn the responses I was spurned to write, lit a spark of inquiry in my sunken chest - what exactly "comes with" atheism? What's bundled in with the purchase of every Deity Denial? When I order a Godless #7, do I get fries or slaw?
As many of the anti-Atheism+ folks were adamant to point out, "atheism" itself isn't really a movement. It's not really anything. I'm sure I'm paraphrasing dozens of more witty and urbane folk, but atheism is a system of belief the same way not-boxing is a sport of kings, being quiet is a genre of music, and "off" is a television channel.
Or like this sparkly thing is a vampire. (Source: allthingsd.com)
In its simplest, purest form, the kind of crystal clear Walter White would cook up, atheism means the disbelief in a "god," a supernatural force that is creator and governor over human souls. I don't even like using the word "disbelief" there; to me its more of an acknowledgement of a fact of the world. Facts don't require belief or disbelief. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I could believe all I want that I don't have a wart on my hand, but that's not going to change the fact that I either need to see a dermatologist or buy some gloves.
But even the bit about what TYPE of god is unnecessary, if we want to simplify further. To the atheist, there are NO gods, not deist types who created the infinite Multiverse, fine-tuned the cosmic dials of physics and chemistry, and then floated away to dick around on Xbox. No theist types who take a serious vested interest in EVERY SINGLE prayer, no matter how contradictory they may be to EVERY OTHER prayer. No multi-teired gods that are all part of the same god, nothing like that.
Nope, not even Thor. (Source: 1upcollectibles.com)
That's it. End of definition. This is what the anti-plus folks were arguing - lumping together a bunch of ideals and goals and shared viewpoints on top of a word that means something very simple is unnecessary. It was the same reaction when the whole hullabaloo about "brights" came up. A person could be an atheist and have VERY different opinions on a multitude of issues. Hell, and atheist could strongly believe in ghosts, cryptozoological creatures, and The Secret - they'd still be an atheist if none of those things fell under the billowy veil of "god."
I also feel it is unnecessary to define what type of god "atheism" rejects, but for the opposite reason. For me, atheism comes with a whole boatload more. Right of the bat, being an atheist also comes with a denial of most, if not all, of the world of the "supernatural." To me, there's just as much evidence for a god as there is for a ghost. These people fall into the realm of the "Spiritual But Not Religious," a group that deserves its own space on this blog for the tarring-and-feathering I feel it oh so justly deserves.
To me, atheism comes with an overwhelming appreciation for science, especially the life sciences of evolutionary biology that better explain our place on this odd little rock better than any tattered old parchment. For most it seems like a thorough understanding of evolution by natural selection LEADS to the denial of the supernatural and of creator gods. I admit - I was handed The God Delusion before The Selfish Gene and The Greatest Show on Earth, but it was actually reading an interview with Douglas Adams, published posthumously in the tragically brilliant collection The Salmon of Doubt that began my lust for knowledge on how we fit in here and why that's a better offering than the teachings of religion. I've yet to meet an atheist that is also a denier of evolution, or a proponent of the young-Earth theory. I'm not saying they don't exist, but to me, they just seem to go hand-in-hand.
Read This! But only after reading everything else the man wrote, and only then if you're prepared to cry like a little girl. (Source: neoseeker.com)
When you deny the existence of a creator god, and, depending on the god or gods, the existence of an afterlife, the crushing, almost paralyzingly so, realization that THIS IS IT comes with. Again, I'm not saying there aren't atheists that may simultaneously believe in zero gods while also believing in the eternal soul or reincarnation or alternate planes of existence or some such bullwonky, but I've yet to encounter him or her. This too seems to be an atheism package deal. No gods = this life is it. The odds stacked against one unique little swimmer uniting with the warm orb and resulting in the exact genetic code for ME is so astronomically huge that one is simply bowled over by how appreciative I, and all of us, should be every single day that we even made it, when the slightest alteration in the plan could have resulted in anyone else. Or no one at all! Of course, it's hard to live constantly in awe and appreciation of existence itself - think about it too long and you have to sit down with a glass of water.
Or, preferably, something stronger. (Source: realfoodtraveler.com)
I find the same thing happens if I try to think about what would existence be like if we had evolved to work in the world of atoms, and we could see that every object is mostly empty space. Or what if we had evolved to perceive time several times slower than we do today. OR what if another species elsewhere on the planet, separate and secluded, had developed consciousness at the same rate as humans!
Do NOT think about this stuff while operating heavy machinery. (Source: i.com)
From this consciousness-raising view of the universe and our tiny place in it, a whole slew of other stuff seems to follow. Atheists seem to be in favor of a woman's right to choose. They seem to be tolerant of the decision to let go of life in situations in which assisted suicide would be preferable to prolonged suffering. I could go on, but it seems so much simpler to connect atheism with humanism, because it looks a whole lot like the two go hand in hand. But there's an aspect of humanism that I personally feel goes right along with the entire atheism caboodle but somehow missed the kit for a whole lot of non-believing folk I've met, and that's personal responsibility - specifically, the kind of personal responsibility that would be labelled as "Libertarianism" in the political sphere. Why? Well, that's a question for next time, isn't it? I've got to go drink whiskey and contemplate our place in the universe. I expect to find all of zero answers.
"Every Day is an Atheist Holiday" - Please Take My Money November 13, 2012 22:38 1 Comment
I didn't think one could top the cover of "God, No!," with his big smirking punum, but they did it, goddamn it! (Source: bookword.com.au)
Penn Jillette's New Book Drops ... Yesterday!
Hot on the heels of his bestseller "God, No! - Signs You Already May Be An Atheist and Other Magical Tales" comes another book of taller tales from the taller magical member of the duo Penn and Teller. And I mean hot - that last book only came out a year ago! In the midst of what I'm sure is a very busy schedule, Penn Jillette has sat down with The Washington Times' Kevin Kelly for an interview on his new book, the election, libertarianism, and more.
Not much to this blog entry, really. Just a heads up to go out and grab this book - I sure will be. "God, No!" was an amazing read - often hilarious, but just as often poignant to the point of stirring tears. And all it was was a collection of goofball stories from one of the world's biggest. I've had the pleasure of hearing him tell a few tales in person, and trust me - he's a big cuddly weaver of words. I'm sure "Atheist Holiday" will be just as pleasing. The best part? He's finally allowed to talk about his time on Celebrity Apprentice. Trust me - some of the stories I've already heard, if they made it into this book, make it a MUST BUY.
Climate Change is a Hoax, Evolution is from Hell, Rape is a Gift - Vote for Me! November 06, 2012 08:54 5 Comments
With Your Help, Cute Robots Like This One Might Be Spared the Cruelty of Governing Officials With Little-to-No Intelligence. (Source: T3, NASA)
If You're A Fan of Logic, Science, and Reason, Maybe The Following People Do Not Deserve Your Vote Today
The headlining act today is Barack "Things Could Have Been Worse" Obama VS Mitt "Insert Binders-Full-Of-Women-Joke, 47-Percent-Remark, or Mormon-Reference Here" Romney. But those of us who have voted before might recollect, after waving off the fog of crushing responsibility and old people funk, that there's a lot more going on on Election Day. Each of us has the power to minutely influence not only the Presidential election, but myriad Congressional contests as well.
With that in mind, Dana Liebelson of the journalism website Mother Jones has compiled a list of the 9 Most Anti-Science Candidates in America, all of whom are up for election or re-election this today, November 6th. So, if the Curiosity Rover, newly classified species of frog, and confirmation of speculative subatomic particles give you a raging brainer, maybe those nine folks don't deserve to be making policy decisions in this country. Just maybe.
Hank Johnson Wields More Power Than Mortals Can Comprehend
I won't list them all here, but I've got to share my absolute favorite. Sure, there's Mr. Akin's abominable belief that rape never results in pregnancy because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," or Paul Broun's claim that "all that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang Theory—all that is lies straight from the pit of hell." Classic stuff. But the cake and ice cream has to go to incumbent Georgia congressman Hank Johnson, who was concerned that Guam would be overpopulated to the point of TIPPING OVER. Yep... capsizing. Because islands are just like kayaks.
Do your duty. Then wipe your bottom and go vote!
Internet Video Service Provides Public With Evidence That Candidate for Leader of Free World Believes a Ghost Will "Split Mount of Olives" November 05, 2012 09:43 5 Comments
Presidential hopeful (with emphatic stress on the word "hopeful") Mittles Romney waves to some people in an image shot from a very weird angle (Source: The Washington Post)
Mitt Romney Incredibly Uncomfortable Discussing Mormon Religion, Makes Everyone Else Even More Uncomfortable
It's been making the rounds of the internet, and even The Washington Post feels that this YouTube clip of Mitt Romney appearing on a radio show is vitally important to the voting public. I don't much mind if you're familiar with this story, I just feel, this close to the election, this stuff belongs here.
The interview was way back in 2007, back when Mitt was in the midst of his then-unsuccessful big for the Republican nomination. His Mittness appeared on WHO-AM in Des Moines, speaking on Jan Mickelson's popular conservative segment. When the show turned to the subject of Romney's faith, boy oh boy did the Mittster quickly construct a solid defensive wall made of finger-pointing, paranoia, and filibusters, with a keystone of solid dickish attitude. Seriously. Watch the video. Poor Jan can barely get a word in edgewise as Romney insists that the Lamb of Christs won't actually descend on Jacksonville, but rule the pockmarked, hellish Earth from both Jerusalem AND Missouri, but when Jan does manage to speak, it's in DEFENSE of Romney's ludicrousness.
There's so much to glean from this video, to observe and absorb and take to the polls. Romney's prickish attitude, which permeates through every syllable, every gesture. The stark, harsh look in Mittland's eyes - the look of a man who is cemented up to his Adam's apple in his beliefs. And his constant insistence that he's "not running as a Mormon." Why do you think that is? What candidate doesn't run on a platform of his or her unyeilding faith in the majesty of god's unending goodness, a faith that influences every decision and rebuilds America back to the greatest and bestest? Only those who KNOW that their faith is a divisive, racist 19th century scam, is who.
This video comes in fresh tandem with a recent flood of tweets from one Richard Dawkins, who has pumped the Twitterverse with pleas that USians vote for the man who may be expressing Christian faith only because it is a necessary foible of running for American office, and not for the man who buys hook, line, and racist sinker the ramblings of a known confidence man. While some have criticized Dawkins' tweets as blind faith in Obama, stating that the good evolutionary biologist used to judge all religions as equally bonkers but now claims Christianity is small, sane peanuts compared to the LDS bull-hooey, I personally feel that Dawkins realizes the nature of the two-party system in this country; noting that it would be preferable to NOT have a man appoint Supreme Court Justices when said man also believes in protective garments, Bigfoot, Kolob, and the White Horse Prophecy (which sounds like it should be out of a Stephen King novel, and not something ACUTAL HUMANS believe is ACTUALLY SOMETHING THAT WILL ACTUALLY HAPPEN GODDAMNIT).
Watch the video here, to see the blind, unerring passion for unshakeable dogma in a major presidential candidate's eyes.
Broken Crucifix Removes Man's Leg, No Word on Misguided Faith November 03, 2012 16:14 2 Comments
Man Gives Statue Credit for Wife's Remission, Blame for His Amputated Leg
In a case of delicious, comforting irony, as if someone baked irony with nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon and then served it with hot cocoa on a night where frost lightly collects on your windowsill but you're inside with a loved one and a good book, a large slab of stone crushed a man's leg. ...Ok, that needs some context.
Reported by CBS News, the man is David Jimenez, 45. The stone is a broken crucifix, which until recently stood outside the Church of St. Patrick in Newburgh. Jimenez was cleaning the statue when it dislodged and fell on top of him, crushing his right leg. So far, so tragic.
Jimenez was or is in no way an employee of the church - rather, he works at a pizza parlor. He was only given permission to clean the crucifix because of his hitherto unyielding devotion to the statue - you see, Jimenez's wife was cured of her ovarian cancer in 2010. Jimenez does not attribute the disease's successful abeyance to medical science, devoted doctors, or even chance remission, but to his frequent stops to pray in front of a dirty old crucifix. How could he not? He prayed in front of a statue, she was cured. No other explanation.
But the statue was clearly not done with Jimenez. Just as it had implanted healthy cells inside Mrs. Jimenez's ovaries, this manipulative and clearly powerful slab of rock brainwashed Jimenez into giving it a good scrubbing, only to topple at the opportune moment to claim its payment in BLOOD.
Or maybe statue maintenance should be left to professionals, and not 45-year-old pizza parlor workers. One can only assume his prayers to cure his wife ended with "and please, let that assistant manager position open up - I can't kill the rats behind the sauce vats forever, I'm not a young man anymore!"
Jimenez is now suing the church due to the latter's insurance company has been, "less than forthcoming," according to Kevin Kitson, the former's attorney. Again, one imagines Jimenez was wheeled around to various other faitheries, praying to random busts, crosses, and sconces before giving in and relying on plain ol' human civil courts to handle this.
...Ok, I've re-read this, and it comes across as really cruel. I sincerely hope Mr. Jimenez will be fine, and am terribly sorry that this accident ended in amputation - I wouldn't wish this on anyone. But... come on. How do I not share a story like this with you guys? I like you all too much to keep this sort of thing from you in the name of "decency."
A brief history of time. Simple, true magic. November 01, 2012 16:32 2 Comments
We all know how amazing simple scientific truths can be. This quick demonstration is something you and your children will never forget, and something that I promise you will always be received with excitement and awe.
- Extend both of your arms outward from your sides. The length from fingertip to fingertip represents the age of the Earth.
- From the tip of your left fingers all the way to your left shoulder, no life existed on our planet.
- The distance from your left shoulder to your right wrist represents the amount of time it took for complex cells to develop (mostly algae).
- In the palm of your right hand, vertebrates and land plants come on the scene.
- Most of the length of your right fingers is taken up by the dinosaurs.
- Your longest fingertip is when mammals took over.
Now, please blow the bit of dust off the tips of your fingernails.
You just blew away all of human history.
The next time a religious person tells you that atheists can't be filled with awe, wonder, majesty, and joy, just remember how absolutely awesome it is to appreciate thrilling truths such as this.
Victimless Form of Human Love Blamed for Low-Pressure Weather System October 30, 2012 21:22 2 Comments
Pastor Wins Award for Being First to Link Hurricane with Naughty Sinners
In a move shocking everyone today, Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries founder John McTernan has fixed the blame for the rampant wettening and gustimization of the East Coast on the homosexual agenda, among other awful sins, according to Gay Star News and The Raw Story. Surprisingly, the leader of the Homo Brigade has NOT come forward and confessed to angering Yahweh so much that He created a vast tropical cyclone. IF ONLY THEY WOULD TAKE THEIR DICKS OUT OF BUTTS AND APOLOGIZE!
Ahem. This... this is no longer news, you know? You can set your watch, you can successfully poach a delicious egg by sitting back and waiting for the evangelicals to pin devastating natural events on the "sins" of the world. I'm only sharing this one because, man oh (on) man, McTernan spins such a tale of conspiracy, his leaps of logic are so graceful and vast that one can't help but be impressed. He first claims that America earned God's wrath when George Bush Primus initiated the Madrid Conference to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine. So right out of the gate, he's against peace. McTernan goes on to play his CD of "Panicky, Confrontational Evangelist's Greatest Hits," like:
- Obama is 100% behind the Muslim Brotherhood
- The Madrid Conference was 21 years ago! 21 is 3 X 7, and both of those are MAGIC NUMBERS OF CHRIST*
- Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac both hit New Orleans during the "Southern Decadence in New Orleans" festival, a super-gay event**
- Katrina and Isaac were SEVEN (7!) years apart! MAGIC GOD DIGIT
Slightly surprisingly, McTernan says that voting Romney won't help, because both he and Obama are in the pocket (tee hee!) of big gay Al... genda. So, I guess we're just doomed.
How is this still a thing that happens? Do we still understand so very little about weather patterns, about low-and-high-pressure systems, about what happens on this planet given certain circumstances that grown men point to an angry tyrant punishing his subjects for living in a way that, coincidentally, happens to make said grown men a little uncomfortable? How does this still go on? Or do these adult people, who are allowed to drive cars and rear children, know full well that this is not the case, but chomp at the bit when a natural disaster strikes because it gives them another chance to flap their gums and maybe scare one or two impressionable folk into dropping a fiver in the collection bin? Think about it, won't you? Thank you.
*He's right here, at least about 3. Schoolhouse Rock!
**Since when do homosexuals get dibs on decadence? I can be decadent, dammit!
Billboard to Do What No Debate Has Done - REALLY Address Romney's Faith October 21, 2012 23:46 36 Comments
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] I hope people can read tiny fine print as a mobile billboard zooms by. Because it's important. It's a real hope! I'm not being sarcastic! (Source: CNN)[/caption]
Organized Atheists Stick to the Plan of Using the Billboard as Their Only Tactic - BUT ON WHEELS
American Atheists have licked their wounds (has? wound?) after having their billboards pulled from the convention area in North Carolina a few months back, and have returned with a vengeance. A billboard-powered vengeance! ...It's a mild, easy-going sort of vengeance, according to a recent story from CNN.
While Mitt Romney campaigns in Florida leading up to his final showdown with the President, cruising the mean streets of the muggiest place on Earth will be a mobile billboard condemning the Mittster's religion for its exclusionist practices. The billboard refers to the doctrine preventing black people from serving as priests (who am I kidding? Black men. Women will ALWAYS be NEVER allowed to do ANYTHING), that is, until 1978, when Kolob's Space God sent a magic message to change the law. It also refers to the ongoing discrimination towards the homosexual community (who am I kidding again? Gays. Because lesbians will ALWAYS be NEVER considered IMPORTANT).
But! A twist! Mormons say that the billboard's claims are inaccurate!
"People are surely free to disagree with us on the facts," Dale Jones, a church spokesman, quickly damage-controlled in an email to CNN. "This group seems not to know that there have been black members of the Church since our earliest history, and there are many faithful gay members of the Church today."
That's a very good point. American Atheists just don't have the facts! LIke the fact that, even though they're have always been black members of the Mormon church, they were originally prevented from becoming priests (something EVERY SINGLE MALE MEMBER of the Mormon church becomes) because every single black person has the mark of Cain and is a descendant of Bigfoot. (By the way, this didn't change in that "revelation.") Or the fact that 80 to 90 percent of the door-to-door volunteers pioneering for Proposition 8 (the California state amendment that would only allow the union between a man and a woman be recognized and valid in the state) were of the LDS team, and that almost 200 grand was spent by the Mormon church towards Prop 8. Yep. A church spent its funds to influence legislation of the right-refusing variety. Exactly what they're not really supposed to do.
So, yes, feel free to point out that you do have specific demographics in your congregation. But don't try to hide the face that you may not exactly want them there.
Go billboard, go billboard, go! I feel like our store needs a Mormon shirt....
Dawkins Returns To TV To Talk Boners and Corpses October 17, 2012 21:33 4 Comments
Like Ringo Starr, I apologize for the lateness of my reply.
Richard Dawkins Dares to Question the Unshakeable Morality of the Holy Word of YAHWEH.
Richard Dawkins, that ne'er-do-well and general pot-stirrer, is at it again, this time deigning to insult the infallible notion that a book written by desert-dwelling nomads centuries ago somehow shouldn't be the end-all, be-all of modern man's basis of morality. And he put this affront to decency on TELEVISION. My kids could be watching that, on Channel 4.
The special, "Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life," airs... well, a few nights ago (as of writing... sorry) and aims to address what would happen if we finally left religion behind. Are ethics and morality an evolutionary product, or do they truly come from ten laws blasted into stone by an irate shrubbery? What changes could society see in the creation of law? Does science and reason present enough incentive to behave in a moral fashion towards our fellow man? Does the dogma of religious adherence do more harm than good in the name of following a strict moral code? How many references to Douglas Adams will there be outside of the title? Lots?
Personally, I hope for an in-depth expose on the absolute ridiculousness of victimless crimes, which I personally equate with the idea of outright thought crimes. Why, in the present, when conjugating the verb is no longer the ridiculous taboo used to keep the simple out of power, is making sex the unspeakable moral pothole it still is?! The absurd punishment and shaming of adults behaving morally in the privacy of their own homes needs to be addressed. If I want to bring my Fleshlight with me whenever I travel, because most hotel beds are EXACTLY the right height for... well, using it properly, I shouldn't be ashamed when TSA needs to take it out and asks, "is there food in here?"* I think society has come far enough to give me that!
EDIT: Watched it. Dawkins really didn't address the proliferation of male sexual aides. Shame. Good though, give it a watch. Maybe in part 2.
*Entirely a true story.
Glenn Beck Knows What God Can Do With His Finger October 05, 2012 05:55 11 Comments
Romney's Falling Poll Numbers Proof of Upcoming Miracle, says Washed-Up Talking Head
One nigh-worthless human being has interviewed another, resulting in the utterance of some ridiculous things, according to a recent Raw Story article (which means we all win!). Glenn Beck (who has yet to move into the black hole of obscurity that consumes all useless mouthpieces) was interviewed by David Barton, whom you may remember as the author of The Jefferson Lies, which has been called "the least credible history book in print." The interview appears on "Right Wing Watch," which I'm sure is a wholly objective news outlet interested in only the truth**. Within said interview, Beck opened his gaping flap chasm (tm) and uttered what we all know to be true - Mitt Romney was no one's first choice (which is odd, because weren't there like nine Republican candidates just six months ago?).
This means (according to Beck), "God is trying to make this so clear to us that if it happens [A Romney win in November], it’s his finger. Because nothing looks good.” This leads to numerous questions:
- Is god's plan to watch the voting process unfold, dictating the will of the nation's voters, and then ignore it and fudge the numbers? Or
- Is god going to enter the minds of each person within the voting booth and effectively undo free will for three minutes PER voter?
- Why not simply make Romney a likable, effective, winnable politician, instead of leave him as someone that makes someone as Joseph-Smith-believingly thick as Glenn Beck say, "there’s no reason that I should feel good on this."
- What's god's finger got to do with anything?
Finally, Beck was clear to say "if." I've gotta hand it to the man - it's a great way to cover your tushy when you're spouting pure, unfiltered malarky. "Well, if Romney wins in spite of his crippling unpopularity and lack of any likable traits, it will clearly be God's finger doing the fingering. If Obama wins, then God works in mysterious ways. Now excuse me while I return to my subterranean lair, half-submerged in my own tears, covered in chalkboards filled with my inane scribblings."*
If you'd like to suffer through two grown men verbally yank off over Mitt Romney, comparing him to George Washington in the process, you can watch the video here.
Yep, I got to write "God's finger doing the fingering". This is the tops! Let's put that on a shirt!
*this may not in fact be a literal quote
**EDIT: Our intrepid readership has informed me that Right Wing Watch is a project from People for the American Way tasked with monitoring and reporting the extreme right. Thanks for the info!
The One Thing About "Innocence of Muslims" October 01, 2012 17:45 31 Comments
I shared a link awhile back that got a reaction I did not expect in my wildest mescaline-induced hallucinations. No, not the Atheism+ one (although, what fun, huh?) Not the old priest saying goofy sodomy things either. I don't blame you - it was a month ago, and I can barely remember life before that awful Kia hamster commercials destroyed my ability to reason. I'm talking about this one:
Yeah! Now you're on board. I was surprised by the response. Many called this peaceful protest an act by "militant" atheists behaving in just the same manner as the Westboro Baptist Church; that they were extremists, that they were the "Mirror, Mirror" versions of religious zealots, complete with twisted goatee and cackling laugh. Many called it stupid and childish, a pointless exercise geared only to annoy. All of this surprised me to no end, and re-reading them now to find the best bits makes me ask the same question I asked in August - did we all read the same article? I know 99.9999% of us weren't there, we didn't precisely see the demonstration, so we cannot fully know what went down on that boardwalk that day, but c'mon now - I'm still astonished that I can read this and see "peaceful demonstration that showed that much of the bible is genocidal, immoral, anachronistic and contradictory," and others see "antagonistic protest on par with bible-thumpers screeching that gays burn in eternal torment."
But I suppose that's neither here nor there. I can't claim to understand the reaction of many of our readers, both here and on Facebook, but I do have a question - how do you (and I'm referring to you specifically, you who felt this demonstration, the tearing up of photocopied pages of the Bible that say, for instance, that a raped woman must marry her rapist, or that non-virgins on their wedding nights should be murdered, was appallingly overblown, offensive, and shocking) feel about the violence-inducing YouTube video making the rounds and causing "protests" in the middle east? Protests that have ended in the murders of many in Libya and Egypt. How does that "demonstration" strike you?
I am, of course, referring to the quote (and I cannot put enough stress on the word QUOTE) "film" Innocence of Muslims, which is apparently responsible for mass outrage and violence in the Middle East. Much has already been said about this, so much so that the United Nations is now considering a law against blasphemy. I don't want this blog, this one in particular, anyway, to be about how offensive such a law would be to any self-respecting human being with an ounce of individual, unique thought in her or his head, but that's honestly how out-of-hand this has become. In a wildly misguided attempt to poke fun and satirize the Muslim religion and its wacky ne'er-do-well prophet Mohammed, some jackwagon "named" "Sam Bacile" supposedly made an amateur desert battle film without religious overtones (think John Carter but with no money), and in post-production turned it into a mess of anti-Islamic gobbledygook. It was then supported by Terry Jones (the awful pastor, not the great Monty Python member), who turned away from his pile of smoldering Qu'rans long enough to back a fourteen-minute YouTube video.
Much of the film paints Mohammed as a child-molesting self-aggrandizing fool of a Took. Naturally, in response to being portrayed as the followers of a violent zealot, many Muslim people have behaved as violent zealots, attacking and screaming and shouting and who knows what else. And absolutely no one is surprised. I must, at this point, link over to Sam Harris' brilliant and incisive blog post "On the Freedom To Offend an Imaginary God," in which he cuts to the quick the notion of any sort of "blasphemy," as well as the response.
I spoke last week a wee bit about the relationship between moderates and their fundamentalist kinfolk - how it resembles something out of a horror story: a hapless couple on their way to their honeymoon villa experiences car trouble in front of a ramshackle cabin in the woods. Inside are some creepy folk, but basically decent. They offer the use of their phone, offer a warm cup of coffee, all while keeping their guests far clear from the cellar door, emanating from which are grunts, scrapes, growls. Fast forward - the young man is killed, his ingenue set upon by the beast hidden under the house. When the authorities arrive (far too late - we've seen this film), the deranged mutant has been put down, but the family keeping him does nothing but attempt to assuage their guilt - that was our poor, deranged kin! We can't stand by his actions, but we've come to accept that our mutant cousin will occasionally break his chains and murder innocence city folk!
That's clearly what we're seeing here. The violent fundamentalists, whose restraint is a tiny twist-tie against a tide of terrific turbulence, have already acted. Their more moderate members march, merely menacing the majority with mottos of malice: "Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet," as Harris points out. How do we feel about these protests? I'm well aware that there is a vast chasm of difference between tearing up photocopies of the Bible and calling for the ban of a YouTube video coupled with the immediate death of the filmmaker, but both fall under this ridiculous blanket of "blasphemy." Again, Harris is quick to point out - any man, woman, or child has the human right to criticize any person, any idea, any belief (AND THIS LAST BIT IS THE IMPORTANT PART) without fear of violent retribution.
But there's one important bit that I think Harris neglects to mention, and this is The One Thing no one seems to mention, The One Thing completely overlooked in all this talk of protests and marches and hate mongering - did anyone actually bother to watch this video? We've all talked about it, people have apparently been killed because of it. But of all the angry folk marching and burning and screaming - did any of them take the fourteen minutes to sit down and really see what this had to say? Or did they just hear that there's some video out there saying not-nice stuff about their main man? This, to me, is so very vital. Not just because it reveals an almost inherent desire to pick up the torch and join the mob, not just because it reveals how incredibly conciliatory many on the side of the victims are willing to be by decrying the freedom of speech, but because HOLY SHIT this "movie" is terrible! I've watched it twice now, because I hate my human senses. That's twenty-eight minutes of my life, this precious, mind-bogglingly statistically-unlikely gift, that I've not only flushed down the drain - I made sure the drain was filled with utter filth before flushing. Seriously, it's really bad. Any rational human being, whose first instinct when presented with "offensive" ideas is NOT murdering those responsible wouldn't cry, "this is a tasteless debasement of long-cherished ideas" or "I can see what they're going for - a satirization of the tenets of Islam - but boy is it uncalled for and rude," but "this is horseshit." The first instinct is to laugh. To laugh and to laugh and to laugh. It's so incredibly clear from watching and listening that this was some desert drama, filmed on a shoestring budget, onto eighty percent of which has been dubbed the random babblings of someone who either A) thought he was being satirical and clever by poking these holes in the story of Mohammed, or B) just wanted to be as anti-Islam as possible with what little brain power he had left after downing his seventh Pabst Blue Ribbon. It honestly feels like the sort of scheme the wildly immoral characters from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia might pull. I mean, it ends with a goofy Benny HIll-esque chase!
Apparently every single reference to Islam or Mohammed or the Qu'ran throughout the "film" is dubbed in, and was done so without the actors' knowledge or consent. This guy got some people together to make a weird little desert battle filmlet, took it, and puked bigoted dumbness all over it. It's just not all that good, is what I'm saying! Every time I see a response video on YouTube, I'm shocked when it's "I'm very upset, and I have every right to be," or "How could they! This is an affront to all we hold dear!" and NOT "HA HA HA! What an unwatchable turd of a film. A mentally-challenged box turtle in a dark closet could make a more coherent and interesting movie!" I could see marches in the streets if Mel Gibson poured 150 million dollars into the wide release of The Passion of Mohammed: Time Rapist, sure, yes, that would be pretty messed up. But this? Come on - there's actual stuff going on in the world. Let the internet swallow this up and forget about it like "Friday" and that guy who cried about Britney Spears under a bedsheet. Where were the marches over those atrocities!?
I started by asking a serious question about some readers' responses to a mild little demonstration in Huntington Beach. I imagine many will argue that the comparison between that and these two "demonstrations" - both the "movie" and the acts in its wake - is misguided, unfair. And of course they're not the same. My goal is to not only shine a light on what makes them different, but also their similarities.
- Huntington Beach Protest: A peaceful protest on a serious subject.
- Innocence of Muslims: Dumb-dumb-stupid, and anyone viewing it should become immediately aware of how no adult person could take it seriously.
- Reaction to Film: A screaming throng vibrating with pure malice, lashing out at anyone who might represent those that may be responsible.
Clearly different. Yet the first two have something that the third doesn't - the fact that they should be protected. The fact that they SHOULD exist. I have no problem with "Sam Bacile" making his hate film and putting it on the web. Go to, speak your mind. How many people has he hurt in creating it? How many fires lit? The answer is zero. A person's hair-trigger reaction to respond to a (shitty) film with violence is not the fault of the film or the filmmaker. There is no such thing as the right to NOT be offended, and it's high time we stop being free to criticize everything BUT someone's beliefs.
I repeat: there is NO SUCH THING as the right to NOT be offended.
There are just far better ways to do it than this awful film. If Manos: The Hands of Fate and The Room had a little 14-minute movie baby, it would point and laugh at this "movie." Transformers 2 thought this movie would benefit from opening a textbook now and again. The Star Wars prequels make fun of this movie when they're all riding the short bus together.
As always, I'm prepared to be one-hundred percent wrong. Thoughts, my lovelies?
Edit: After finishing this blog, I found this great quote from Real Time with Bill Maher that explains why the acts of violence in response to the film are so scattershot - why a US Embassy in response to a YouTube film? Here:
I guess some people just don't "get" YouTube.
With Jesus' Great Hair and Sweet Bod, I Imagine He Had His Pick of Wives September 23, 2012 10:16 4 Comments
Rampant Speculation About Moldy Rag Sparks Wild Nonsense
A recently unveiled scrap of papyrus supposedly makes reference to Jesus having a wife, according to Harvard divinity professor Karen King. BBC News reports that Ms. King's researchers have identified the words, "Jesus said to them, 'my wife,'" which said researches say could be a reference to Mary Magdalene, but I say could be the set-up for one of his hilarious zingers - hopefully the rest of the sentence is, "take her, please."
A couple of highlights from this bit of quote-news: Ms. King says this scrap is from a 4th-century text copied from a 2nd-century gospel. No one still has an explanation for why there's nothing written about this earthquake-causing, wife-maybe-having, blind-healing messiah for 2 centuries, but as long as we can argue about the trivial matter of whether or not he had a wife, who cares? Ms. King is also convinced of the scrap's authenticity, despite not yet having further testing of the chemical composition of the ink. Sure, ok, just claim whatever you want.
But the delicious icing on this moist cake? Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, is one of many outspoken anti-scrappers, saying: "A statement on a papyrus fragment isn't proof of anything. It's nothing more than a statement 'in thin air', without substantial context."
He unfortunately failed to add, "...until you manage to reprint that same papyrus fragment again and again for several centuries, and limit who can and cannot read it, thereby effectively controlling who 'knows' the 'truth.' You can get a whole set of dark ages out of that, and maybe even some Crusades!"
Working With Moderates? Sorry, I'm Too Much of a Logic Fundie September 19, 2012 18:35 9 Comments
New Book from Biblical Scholar Bemoans "New Atheists" and Calls for Cooperation with Moderates
Associate Professor of Jewish Civilization and nonbeliever Jacques Berlinerblau has published a book entitled "How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom," according to a report from The Washington Post. His book, filled with stirring calls to action to preserve the first amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion, is really a call for atheists to essentially back off and unite with religious moderates. Probably. I haven't read it. I'm taking the article's word for it. But let's continue as if that's the case, shall we? Thanks.
Now, while his ultimate goal of secularism within all forms of government is incredibly admirable - I agree that religion and policy should never ever be any sort of bedfellows - I'm entirely opposed to his method. He claims that there are many faithful in the world who favor church-state separation, and that these are our natural allies. I do not see how they can be. First of all - the existence of moderates within a faith allows for the existence of fundamentalists. It just does. If a massive majority follows 90 percent of the tenets of their faith, they have no choice but to turn the other cheek when the minority follows the other 10 percent to its (quite often literal) bloody end. Second, he seems to be confusing the notions of respecting the existence of a belief and respecting the belief itself, or even the believer. Why fashion ourselves into moderates, gradually becoming more and more accepting of the foolish and dangerous things put forth by even the most moderate of the faithful? How is that making us any stronger? How is that a victory for logic and reason? I have to acknowledge a person's right to believe any ridiculous nonsense they want. What Berlinerblau calls for is one of the most clear examples of the "lesser evils" principle I've heard, and I'd rather stick to my guns than do something I'm already calling "evil."
South Korea's Dino-Tastic Science Win September 14, 2012 23:16 4 Comments
South Korea (!) Sticks to Science in Its Textbooks
Now THERE'S a piece of comforting news (from Wired)! Too bad its coming from halfway round the globe! Take a look, These United States, and see how it's done: recently, a group known as the "Society for Textbook Revise," (probably sounds cooler in Korean), which itself is an offshoot of Korea Association for Creation Research (probably sounds just as foolish in Korean), put some pressure on textbook publishers to remove certain sections regarding "the evolution of horses and the Jurassic-era early avian-like dinosaur Archaeopteryx" (probably sounds far less cool in Korean). See, this group felt that, since the archeological community is still in debate as to whether this bad mamma jamma:
...could fly, or glide, or if it's just got lovely plumage. These creationists chums say, well, since there's debate, leave it out of the books, please. Thankfully, there's a board of sensible, sane folks within South Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology who rightfully decided that scientific uncertainty can still be taught. I mean, sure, having all the answers would be great, but until we do, why keep the question away from those seeking knowledge? What a great lesson plan that is: see this wicked dinosaur? Archaeologists still don't know what this millenia-old creature was capable of! Let's talk about it! I don't remember my textbooks having info on feathered dinosaurs... crap! South Korean creationists got to my education. IN THE PAST!
Two things about this story intrigue me: First - what a smart tactic for a creationist group to take. By picking such a specific, tiny target, had they won? That could have opened the door for more and more evolutionary teaching to be dismantled bit by bit. I hope no one on this side of the world gets any ideas. Second - someone in the comments of this article, and there are always these people, argued that "both sides" should be taught so children could decide for themselves. While I do think that an understanding of other beliefs is necessary (mostly so they can be dismantled and mocked more efficiently), A) they don't deserve equal time with FACTS in a SCIENCE CLASS, and B) when someone says "both sides," what's the other side they're referring to? Someone else in the comments on Wired brought up a fact I had never considered - these "both sides" people really only mean Christian creationism when they say that, don't they? No one advocating that "creationism" be taught alongside evolution is talking about including ALL creation stories, just theirs. What if we gave them what they wanted, but forced them to include the Frost Giant Ymir's death and his body forming the Earth realm or Anum forming substance from the chaos of Nu? Now that'd be a class.
What is Atheism+ and Why Does It Make Me Slightly Angry? September 08, 2012 10:40 130 Comments
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Atheism+ Logo, and then a unique take on it that may or may not be an accurate assessment of its tenets, who knows, I sure don't. (Source: SecularCafe, Photobucket)[/caption]
EDIT: After reading and reading and reading this ongoing discussion, I'l like to start by saying Atheism+ no longer makes me "slightly angry." Not changing the title of the article, as that was my initial gut feeling based on very little understanding. Let this blog be a time capsule for future generations.
A "New Wave" of Atheism Seems a Bit Too Vitriolic
At least, for this amateur bloggist's taste. But then, this is all very new to me. I only first heard of this "Atheism+" business when The Raw Story shared this story from The Guardian. I've done a bit of internetular browsing, and have seemed to come up with bits of info here and there: a perfectly nice woman named Jen McCreight, who blogs on the FreeThought network, has created a new atheism movement called Atheism Plus, with the plus represented by + just like Prince did for a while. Her movement "cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime." Now, this all sounds well and good, right? So why is there such a divisive attitude towards it, and why do I immediately share it? Some think that it's become atheism's moral thought police, run by people who know better than you and I. Some feel that, while it claims to not be purposefully alienating, but as anyone whose even offered a polite rebuttal to their stance has been trolled to web-based death. Some feel that atheism itself is inherently socially progressive and humanist, and attempting to create an actual doctrine is foolhardy at best. And some feel that Atheism+ is a platform for extreme feminism fueled by disdain for the notion that the current realm of atheism is run by white middle-aged men of means.
I don't really want to get into my thoughts about this just yet. I still don't completely understand what it is! Is it just a name for a few people's ideas on a blog? Is it a burgeoning political movement looking for donations and memberships? Is there really a virulent swarm of caveman woman haters who are also vocal atheists? If you have thoughts about Atheism+, positive (Ha!) or negative, please comment. I'd love to talk to you internet folks+ about this, and really get into my initial reactions.
EDIT: Yeah, I figured this would be the case. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone - except for you, Jizzer. You are awful. You will miss everything good in this life, and you have our pity.
I want to stress that I still know very little about it, so my opinions are just that - opinions, initial judgment calls, but minds made up can be easily changed, if they're open to new evidence. But right now, I see an attempt of a select few to become the moral authority for a diverse number, and attach a name to it that, at its core, has no real ethical bearing. Yes, most of us who define ourselves as atheist or agnostic feel that, inherent in that, is a strong sense of humanism and social progress. I can't honestly say that I've met an atheist who wanted fewer rights for women, an amendment against gay marriage, or anything like that. But that doesn't mean that all people who don't believe in a god also agree on all the issues.
And that's entirely fine - the good parts about what I've discovered of Atheism+ through this little blog experiment is that it's an opt-in thing, it's not FORCING anything on anyone. Call yourself whatever you want, support whatever you want, Atheism+ don't care. It hopes to affect social change and fight religious influence on policy, and that's a noble ideal. Here's where my "slight anger" comes in -
Now, it looks like a lot of Atheism+ stems from a tree of feminism whose seed was that whole elevator debacle a while back. If you're unfamiliar with that whole mess, a convenient breakdown can be found here. It feels like a lot of what Atheism+ is about is in response to this environment that may very well exist - I don't know, I'm a white, unattractive male, I get ignored more than attacked or abused. But I do remember my initial response to the elevator story was similar to Dawkins' rather than Wilson's. I felt, and still do feel, that to cry misogyny and sexism in that scenario was overblown - the cry of feminism in that instance made women all the weaker, rather than equal. <---OPINION
And it feels like instances like this, especially with Dawkins' response, are why Atheism+ is so stridently opposed to being represented by the names we're all used to. No more Dawkins, Dennet, Randi, Hitchens, Harris, and the rest - since they're aged white men, their opinion must be at least a little sexist! Could it be coincidence that a lot of the people we currently see as the "faces" of atheism are older white men? Or are these the people who just so happen to be the experts on the subject? I feel like atheism+ is seeking to disassociate with these men simply because they are men. <-----OPINION
But is there really a huge, vocal base of hateful, sexist, monster atheists making death threats against Atheism+ bloggers and leaders just for speaking out? Or is this the internet, where anyone can feel the sensation that space and anonymity gives to the id? Any online gamer will tell you - all you ever hear are the racist, bigoted, vile monsters screaming obscenities. It's the power of the internet. Creating divisions and shouting back only does so much, and I think all it does is "feed the trolls," as they say. <---- OPINION.
That's all for now. Let us never forget - this would not be the first time I, Kyle Van Son, could be 100% wrong.
Signs From God (And His Atheist Buddies) September 05, 2012 21:35 3 Comments
I will never understand eighty percent of the billboard advertising I see. I live in Las Vegas, so a portion of the highway-adjacent advertising I’m forced to gaze upon each day is devoted to the hotel-casino industry. This falls into that eighty percent. The only time I’ve ever found these images and words even the slightest bit engaging is when they inform me that, oh, say, Jerry Seinfeld is back at the Caesars Palace Coliseum next month for a two-night engagement. That kind of time-sensitive information is useful on a billboard (unless it's an infuriating digital billboard). Everything else? Telling me The Orleans has looser slots? An ad about the Stratosphere’s luxurious rooms? This is information better disseminated through television or in-flight magazine, or at least far out of town, on the highways into Vegas, where the laziest of tourists have yet to make a decision on where to stay. These ads show up on our local highways and byways. It’s weird. The only other billboard images I find useful when you’re driving cross-country and are notified about something-that-shouldn’t-exist-but-does-and-now-you-have-to-visit-it.
But the billboards telling me when Family Guy airs in syndication on a local cable channel, when Shrek 6 comes out, or telling me that, since Kermit the Frog doesn’t do drugs, I shouldn’t either – we can agree on their uselessness, right?
Forbes did its own report late last year with some very interesting numbers (interesting to billboard salespeople and enthusiasts, I guess), and it looks like people are indeed influenced to visit stores or attend events based on what they learn from billboard advertising. Good for them. But enough of my lengthy and winding introduction. You’re visitng TheProudAtheist blog – you’re wondering where they godlessness kicks in. Here you go:
The ones that drive me up metaphorically furthest up the nonexistent wall are the most useless, ineffectual, bland messages, and Las Vegas, the city of sin, is dotted with them; disgusting moths blotting out the otherwise bright, friendly, prostitute-illuminating light of our city:
My "favorites:" the ones that just say “GOD” or “Jesus” or “3:14” or worse, like this lovable chestnut that will be maddeningly familiar to anyone that daily cruises the I-15: Infuriatingly, I cannot find a picture of it, but all it says, in huge letters, is “Hi! – your BFF, GOD.” “Hi!” is in huge letters, and then there’s the little indication that this is a quote from “GOD.” And then, in red ink, is “Your BFF.” Like he forgot to mention it before he had the billboard design commissioned. Garbage. Pointless.
Now, I do not want to anyone to get the right idea: I am in no way advocating that these billboards (these stupid, pointless billboards) MUST come down because they are in some way discriminatory or exclusionist to people of other faiths or those without faith. Put up whatever the hell you want, you know? Unless your billboard says “Hi, it’s your BFF, God, here – if you could just start murdering all of the non-believing infidels down there and salting the earth where they stand so that nothing can grow there again, you know, like I told you IN THE BIBLE, that’d be great,” I really can’t demand it come down. I can, however, point out how empirically USELESS they are, right? I mean… who is that for? What real-life Ned Flanders is getting a warm and fuzzy pick-me-up from this bland messaging during their morning commute? It’s more than likely not getting any Easter-and-Christmas-only asses in pews, and certainly isn’t a compelling enough argument (which it isn’t, it’s not an argument, it's big dumb words) to convince ANYONE in with the least bit conviction in what they currently believe to convert. And convert to what? Which “god” is this that is supposedly my BFF? Is Protestant GOD my BFF, but Anglican GOD kind of lost track of his friends after college, and now getting coffee would be more awkward than fun? And when did he start communicating with me like he’s the friend from high school writing a hasty message in my yearbook before he spent the summer at tennis camp? I don’t want a deity that lets me know he’s thinking of me via Las Vegas billboard. And, what, he’s EVERYONE’s BFF? I thought we had something special, God. What about that time we hit that hobo with your stepdad’s Jetta, and we both handled it like adults and never talked about it again but it bonded us for life and now we’ll have each other’s backs for like, ever, man? Do you just have that with EVERYONE?
So, I think those words in that order up there has made a compelling case for the uselessness of religious billboards. At least, the boring, “JESUS” ones. The ones that are super-specific, like Harold Camping’s hilarious May 21st rapture billboards, I am all for. Anything that gives us a specific date in which people will be proven wrong (and which, coincidentally, spurs the creation of a number of bitchin’ parties) knock yourselves out. But the blade cuts both ways: atheists have been using the ancient and mystical art of elevated cardboard to promote their unique message or organization of quite a while:
Again, I have no problem with these particular examples. They’re stating a message about themselves simply and honestly. But there are others, and recent events have made them worth talking about at length: I’m sure you were aware of this, but about two weeks ago (which goes to show how long I’ve been sitting on this article as we’ve waited for our blog page to be more kickass), this happened. That’s a news report from August 13th about the billboards put up by American Atheists in Charlotte, North Carolina ahead of the Democratic National Convention. There are two different designs, one targeting Christianity and the other Mormonism: the Christian billboard has an image of Jesus appearing on some toast, as he is oft-want to do ever since the invention of cameras, with statements like “Sadistic God, Useless Savior” and “Promotes Hate; Calls it Love.” The Mormon version has some sort glowing guy leaping for joy – Oh! I just got it! He’s in his magic under”garments,” and it says “God is a Space Alien,” and “Baptizes Dead People.” Now, you and I know that these are pretty accurate, if a little blunt, descriptions of some of the problems with these faiths: the LDS church has some nutty beliefs and even nuttier practices, and the most well-read of us could probably recite Dawkins’ summation of the god of the Christian bible from “The God Delusion” from memory. You know, the bit about him being a jealous, malicious prick.
These billboards were put up by American Atheists in a valiant effort to show that both of the candidates for the upcoming Presidential election use part of their brains to worship and obey their imaginary friends, and on paper that’s a great idea (the exposing of the beliefs, not that the potential leaders of the free world follow ancient mystic texts). But is it the right tact for this message? The billboard? Again, just like the pointless “What happens in Vegas, IS PAID FOR WITH AN ETERNITY IN HELL” crap I can see on my freeways, the usefulness of this sort of advertising is questionable at best. These billboards aren’t letting readers know about a new sale at Macy’s or Engelbert Humperdink’s 2-night engagement at the airport Hilton lounge: they’re trying to attack firmly held beliefs on both sides. Most atheists who have had the joyous feeling of converting a religious friend to a humanist and freethinking view of life will probably agree that it is a hard road – there are hours to be spent providing convincing arguments, presenting empirical evidence, and pointing out misconceptions and fallacies. If the goal of these billboards was conversion, I was one-hundred-percent convinced they would fail out of hand. In the same way that I’m not going to be convinced that “god is my best friend forever” because of a billboard, no Mormon is going to read these and think, “you know what? Baptizing dead people is a bit sketchy. In fact, now that I take a second to think about it, the whole mess seems far-fetched! Thanks, American Atheists!” The signs are too mean-spirited, too blunt and harsh. The believer must be coddled, softly rocked back and forth until they are fully awake. Plunging the believer head first in the icy water of truth will only cause him or her to jump back out that much faster – it’s got to be slow. It’s very much like The Matrix. It seems like these billboards are more about making a fuss and getting an atheist presence seen at the conferences: a noble idea, but there are better ways. I wish I could talk about this for the entire post, and I had planned on it, had even newer news not reared its ugly, free-speech-shitting-upon head (or, more accurately, if it’s shitting upon things, anus).
I’m sure we all saw this coming – the billboards? The dumb ones I’m not really in favor of because their message seems more cruel than helpful? Yeah, they’ve been yanked, days before the conference. How utterly shocking and completely out of left-field.
The billboards, which had been scheduled to remain up through the DNC and then removed September 6th were taken down August 23rd after, you guessed it, violent threats were issued against the company that put them up. American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising company both received VIOLENT THREATS after (SURPRISE) a story about the billboards appeared on the (HERE COMES MORE OF THAT SURPRISE I JUST MENTIONED) Fox News website.
Yep. Regular readers of Fox News saw the story, and the first thought that appeared in their turn-the-other-cheek, do-unto-others Christian Jesus Lamb Of God minds was to threaten two groups of people with violence. Imagine a little scenario: instead of Christian and Mormon, as our current candidates are, let’s say the very improbable happened and we had a Jewish candidate running against a Hindu candidate. If American Atheists put up one billboard mocking eight days of magic oil and other hullabaloo from the Old Testament, and the other about elephant-headed gods and a magic wheel of reincarnation, would there be violent threats demanding that the ads in question be removed? Let’s go even further, to a future that probably won’t exist for decades: it’s two atheist opponents! And some Christian fringe organization puts up billboards mocking our belief in the Big Bang and Evolution, in morals without a God. Would you see a massive influx of angry letters from atheists vowing violent retribution for being treated in such a manner? Would we see that free speech applies to the majority only, and if it’s used to present opposing ideas, all you have to do is bellow loudly enough to shut it down completely?! I don’t picture the same vitriol coming from Judaism or Hinduism (and certainly not humanists, agnostics, and atheists) the way we see daily, in and out, like the coming and going of the tides, from Christians. Where does this rampant hate come from? The most enthusiastic and optimistic atheist might claim it is the spastic flailing of the dying – they might hope that these are the last acts of an opponent on the ropes, desperately swiping at any potential threat before it collapses, beaten. I, sadly, can’t agree. I don’t know where it comes from, but it certainly isn’t from ethics or morality. It's from exclusivity and segregation, a hatred of the differing and differed. The only solace, and it’s meager, it is half-a-bean’s solace to a hungry, hungry hobo, is that at least the billboard eliciting these violent threats is an actual attack on Christianity. It doesn’t get more blatant than calling your God sadistic. But how is it that these people, whom I’m sure have stable lives, with steady jobs, with the skills required to drive cars and book travel on faulty and inconsistent websites, are unable to see the difference between an attack on an idea (an incorporeal thing that only exists in the minds that allow it the luxury) and actual people? There must be something inherent in these indoctrinated beliefs that makes rational people, who wait patiently in checkout lines and no longer discipline their children physically, make this leap to the threat of physical violence. One could hope that the threats were not in earnest – that it was just a scare tactic, and if they had not worked, there would indeed be zero violence over a couple of billboards, but one never knows. And how long until its perceived attacks on Christianity – not real criticisms like the billboards, but the absurdities of the “War on Christmas” and the like – receive the same response? It’s harrowing to think that if such behavior continues, there may be a new definition for “Christian fundamentalist,” one closer in line with its Islamic lexicographical brother.
One thing’s for sure, though. Billboards suck.
Who Framed Rimsha Masih? (You Know, the Girl Charged with Blasphemy) September 03, 2012 17:11 4 Comments
Pakistani Mullah Arrested, Accused of Framing Girl Accused of Blasphemy
Stop me if you've heard this one before - so there's a 13-year-old daughter of Christian parents living in Pakistan, who also has Down's Syndrome. One day she's carrying around some charred refuse, some of which happens to be some burnt pages of the Qu'ran. Naturally, she's arrested and put in custody due to the country's blasphemy laws, which can land offenders with a death sentence. So her defenders are struggling - trying to prove that she's a minor; trying to show that, due to her disability, she's incapable of committing a "crime" of blasphemy; trying to secure bail. And then, three assistants at a mosque come forward and claim that the mosque's mullah PLANTED those pages on this girl. This was done, according to one of the assistants, so that Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti could easily rid the area of Christians. And you can't fault him for tactics - it worked. "We are not upset the Christians have left and we will be pleased if they don't come back," said Chishti to The Guardian on August 18th, after numerous Christian families fled the area when protests demanding the burning of the young girl began multiplying.
The big deal about this? Why I'm sharing it? I'm sure we can all agree that anything called a "blasphemy" law is absolute bullshit - there are many things that can be argued to be victimless crimes, but blasphemy takes the nonexistent cake. The only result of blaspheming is that someone, somewhere, usually in a place of dogmatic power, gets offended. To paraphrase Hitchens, every struggle for free speech begins as an argument of what is and what is not blasphemous. But take note of what's at the end of the article - these blasphemy laws are abused by the petty and powerful, and any attempt to fight them, to protect people from abuse, results in violence and even death. I don't know what can be done, other than spreading the word. The entire Guardian article can be seen here, with plenty of useful links to follow up on the entire story.
There's an Epidemic of Seductive Boys!... claims Old Catholic Priest September 01, 2012 21:48 78 Comments
Catholic Priest claims that victims of Child Abuse Are Usually the "Seducers"
What? Did I type that right? That's... that's too good, right? This is something from The Onion or The Daily Show, right? Not the real words of a 79-year-old Catholic Priest and host of Sunday Night Prime with Father Benedict Groeschel (which sounds like his hilarious sketch show), right? Nope, Father Groeschel ACTUALLY said in a recent interview,
"Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer... Well, it’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that...".
Granted, he DID say this in an interview to the National Catholic Register, so he probably thought he was literally preaching to a literal choir. Now, look - I like to reserve this blog space for the promotion of good Atheist stuff and not bad religious stuff. You know, more Bill Nye and Camp Quest, less mentally-challenged Pakistani Christian girls being tried for ripping up the Qur'an. But when this just falls in my lap, well, it's my birthday and Festivus combined! The best part is where he defends Jerry Sandusky, calling him a "poor guy." You know, what you might call an old dog whose bone is taken away, the poor fella. Of course, the Catholic newspaper has pulled the interview and the deluded old coot has recanted his comments. But it's out there, and thank goodness I caught it in my meaty internet glove.
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The Stirring, Honest Coda of a Rebellious, Fierce Symphony August 29, 2012 22:51 2 Comments
Christopher Hitchens' final writings for Vanity Fair Posthumously Published
Anyone who has found this blog or reads it regularly has other, better things to read, and more often than not, the author of those words will be Christopher Hitchens. Whether detailing the majesty and necessity of Orwell, decrying the hypocrisies of figures like Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa, or giving all of us the immaculate prose to enunciate our own logical non-beliefs better than all of us could combined, The Hitch had a way with words few could emulate and many adore. His final published essays for Vanity Fair have been compiled in a volume entitled "Mortality," and a touching review can be found here, by The Guardian's Alexander Linklater. As much as I want to read it, I've only just started digesting The Hitch, and it wouldn't feel right to start with his terminal works. Even in that short review, I'm struck dumb by the fear of disease taking away MY ability to write. If I imagine I had even an iota of Hitchens' skill with language, what a true terror that slow decomposition would be. But then, I also don't have Hitchens' notorious verve and vigor. I say "don't" rather than "didn't" because it just doesn't seem right to talk about The Hitch in the third person; at least, not when we he lives on in every word he's ever written.
You can pick up Mortality on Amazon.com.
The Science Guy Says - Creationism is For the Crazies August 28, 2012 21:51 11 Comments
If This Show Returns To Television, Creationists and Climate Change Deniers Better RUN
Bill Nye, following in the footsteps of greats like Penn Jillette and Michio Kaku, has appeared on the popular web series Big Think to discuss big thinly questions, like how to talk to alien life, why we explore, and, most importantly, why creationism is a load of hooey and cannot be taught to children if our country is to stay at the forefront of scientific exploration. This is something I just DO NOT GET. I mean, we all grew up with the same television channels, right? We all saw enough Beakman's World, plenty of Mr. Wizard, and, if we were lucky, the all five series of Bill Nye The Science Guy.
We learned about clouds and dirt and how planes fly and how to make whirlpools in 2-liter soda bottles AND evolution as kids. And not once did these heroes of television do an episode on miracles or angels or the feats of Jesus. How did so many of my friends end up in church youth groups?
Ah well. Bill Nye, thankfully, is still around, trying to set these youngsters straight. His entire interview on Big Think can be seen here and the image above will take you to The Raw Story page for this bit of news.
If you've got an idea of how we can honor the man in a shirt design, let us know - the science angle is something we're hoping to explore. Because SCIENCE RULES. And INERTIA IS A PROPERTY OF MATTER. And so on.
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