Monday, November 23, 2009

Seven Days of Folly

My daughter wrote a song. Well, she wrote words to a song, with the tune of an existing song in mind. I think it's pretty awesome.

Here is the note she sent me about it, followed by the lyrics she wrote:

ok, right now it's 12:45 in the morning so i'm sending you this instead of
waking you up. you're welcome. i'm just so excited. you know horse shoes and
handgrenades? well i wrote new lyrics. sing these lyrics to that song. its about
how bad a job god did in genesis.

The seventh day

What the fuck is wrong with him?
I think he’s gone insane.
All the tornadoes, and volcanoes
What the hell’s with the hurricane?

Mabye he’s all powerful
But he won’t have your back in a fight
The first six days he ruined every thing
And the seventh is the flag of white

He better turn this around
We don’t like how it is
We want domestic, not hectic
What kind of world do you call this?

Mabye he’s all powerful
But he won’t have your back in a fight
The first six days he ruined every thing
And the seventh is the flag of white

She's 13. I think it's really good. :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Few Responses

In the real world, I don't advertise my atheism for several reasons. The two biggest reasons involve my family back in my hometown. My mother is in poor health, and I don't want her to spend her last years tortured with the idea that her daughter is going to burn in Hell; and my brother owns a business in my tiny, ultra conservative hometown, and if word got around that N was an evil, godless heathen, that would damage his livelihood considerably. My right to free expression is not important enough to me to cause my family grief.

I live far enough away from my hometown that I could be more public with my atheism here than I currently am. But, a lesser reason that I avoid the topic of atheism in mixed company is that I feel ill equipped to defend my position. Sure, here on my blog I voice a strong opinion, and ramble freely in defense of what I believe; but when writing a blog post, I have plenty of time to think about what I'm going to say. I have access to, where I can look up passages to back up what I'm saying. I have the luxury of the delete button if I re-read something I've said and it turns out to actually be dumber than banana kool-aid. I don't have those advantages in a tête-à-tête with a fundamentalist christian who has plenty of preconceived notions and canned responses in his or her arsenal.

I expect that the day will come when I am willing to be honest about my lack of belief in a public situation. I think about what I will say to the standard questions and comments. Some of the responses I imagine are repetitions of excellent arguments made by brilliant skeptics I've read; some of them are original statements drawn from my personal experience over the years. I'll share some of them here. Please feel free to comment/critique/debate any of them. I'm not afraid of friendly debate and conversation. I only avoid conflict in the land of the living because I fear my response to the flaring tempers that I would be sure to encounter. Cyberspace shields me from that, somewhat. So, fire away.

  1. Why are you angry with God?
    I'm not angry with God. I don't believe in a god. How could I be angry with something in which I don't believe? Why are you angry with the little blue marmoset that lives in my shoe?

  2. Jesus loves you.
    You are wrong. There is no magical dead guy who loves me. The fact that you believe this based on a book of which you frankly know almost nothing regarding its origins and history floors me. My daughter loves me; my mother loves me. My brothers love me. Of this, I have evidence. Show me the evidence of this 2000 year old myth's love, and I will reconsider my position.

  3. You have so many blessings. How do you explain those without God?
    All of my blessings can be explained by chance, probability, hard work, or careful planning. You may argue that those I attribute to chance or probability were bestowed upon me by God; I say to you that I need evidence that God is the source. I am fortunate to have been born into a loving, intelligent, hard working, middle class American family (Yes, I feel fortunate to be American; you folks in other countries should feel fortunate to be from your country, too. It’s a matter of perspective.). That was luck of the draw; I had nothing to do with it. Was it a gift from God? Explain to me then where God is in relation to the baby born to abusive parents in a filthy, overcrowded crack house with no one who cares enough about him to ever teach him how to get out of his situation as he grows. Tell me why there are so many babies born into poverty and famine in underdeveloped countries. Why the polar differences? Wouldn’t it make more sense that a god who loves all of his children would give them all an equal start? At least closer to equal, at least?

    That being said, yes, I am very fortunate, and I reflect on my good fortune often, with a very grateful heart.

  4. How can you look at [that beautiful sunset, those majestic mountains, your daughter, anything natural and beautiful] and not believe in God?
    I read. And I studied science. I know what makes those things. Guess what? It wasn't a god.
  5. Aren't you afraid of going to Hell?
    No. I'm also not afraid of ghosts, Freddie Kreuger, vampires, or zombies. I'm not afraid of anything that I don't believe in. Especially things that make absolutely no logical sense whatsoever.
  6. Why don't you just believe? Isn't that safer than taking the chance that you are wrong?
    Well, how do you know which religion I should believe in order to give me the greatest likelihood of achieving eternal bliss? How do you know that Christianity is right, and not Hinduism? Jainism? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Islam? Satanism? Sikhism? Shinto? Rastafarianism? Scientology? They all have exactly the same amount of evidence supporting them. Which is none.
  7. You are just evil.
    Yes. I know. I work hard to provide for my daughter. I call my mama to check on her several times a week. I do everything in my power to help my friends when they need me. I give to charity. I recycle. For the love of all that is just, WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN LOCKED UP YET?!?

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Praising the Virtues of Ignorance

    I decided to go to, Pat Robertson's website, and look for the craziest thing I could find on there to ridicule mercilessly. Upon browsing the site, I saw more crazy than I could have ever imagined.

    But you know what? It didn't immediately make me feel like mocking them. It actually made me feel sorry for the people who go to that site in earnest, seeking truth. There are so many people who have been deceived so completely, brainwashed so thoroughly, that they will believe anything they read, as long as it comes from a "Man of God." These people go to CBN and make decisions based on what they read there about what charities to support, how to raise their kids, how to handle their money, and even what movies to go watch. It is very sad to know that people so freely hand their life decisions over to a money and power crazed charlatan.

    That being said, I did find something to ridicule.

    Jackie Overpeck, a CBN contributor, wrote an article entitled The Smudgy Sin of Disbelief. She seems to be a nice enough lady; she even seems very sincere in her desire that her writing will help people. She is, however, an ignorant follower of the religious dogma that she was no doubt taught from childhood. She freely admits that she believes that doubt, skepticism, and knowledge-seeking are by their very nature sinful, and implies that they should be avoided at all costs.

    Jackie writes:
    A person who doubts is a called a skeptic. A skeptic is someone who hesitates at
    the truth, especially religious teachings, including the Bible. Skepticism
    has the same effect in our hearts that blotchy makeup has on our eyes.
    Au contraire, my dear.

    How can one say in good conscience that a skeptic hesitates at the truth? A skeptic is one who seeks the truth, above all else. Religious teachings, especially the Bible, are not truth; they are questionable history at best; fable and myth, most likely; and outright manipulative lies at worst. A skeptic hesitates at the unproven. A skeptic seeks evidence, repeatable outcomes, logical connections. In other words, the truth.
    Being a doubter fills the heart with darkness. Why? Doubt divides us from the
    truth. The truth is that which is sincere. The truth isn’t always easy, but it
    is authentic and real.
    Doubt does not divide us from the truth. Doubt causes us to probe further into cause and effect; to seek out the concrete; to execute the scientific method. Doubt leads us to truth. It's true that the truth isn't always easy. But without doubt, we never know what is authentic and real.

    The best thing you can do is tell God about it. Disbelief causes us to
    stand far away, point and say, “I doubt that.” Instead, get certainty. Get out
    your Bible and search the Scriptures. Find out for yourself what God says by
    quieting your mind and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.

    Yeah. That's great advice. I could (and probably will) write and entire blog post about the absurd things one can find in the scriptures. Someone smarter than I said it before, but it's true that the fastest way to atheism is to read the Bible.

    And sure. Quiet your mind. Let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. My guess? It's going to tell you EXACTLY WHAT YOU'VE BEEN WANTING VALIDATION FOR. The Holy Spirit is your own internal self-justification, numbnuts. You're just giving it an external validity.

    Finally, she closes with:
    I’m convinced that God has a Maybelline mascara remover bottle in heaven. How do I know? He has washed my darkened eyes from the smudgy sin of disbelief and
    doubt many times.
    Jesus. Why do christian writers always feel like they have to use a clever and witty analogy to begin and end their work? It's awesome when a writer is randomly inspired by a great analogy (a fantastic example is this entire post on skepticism by my friend Lord Runolfr). But the Maybelline mascara remover bottle in heaven? Really. That's lame. Dude.

    I have learned to revel in the "smudgy sin of disbelief and doubt." I used to fear it, just as Ms. Jackie does. I used to sincerely believe that it was the work of the Devil. What opened my eyes? I'm not sure. I know that my realization of the futility of prayer was the first step; but it was a long, slow road to real reason.

    I'm glad I travelled it.