Category Archives: atheism

Things Not to Say to an Atheist


The title of this post is probably a topic for a weekly feature all its own. Perhaps even a daily one. Fear not, This blog is not about to go full militant atheist.

Still, when somebody wanders into my house and starts flinging poo at the walls, I think it’s only fair to feel some kind of way about it.

I present to you the following comment, which landed on this post just yesterday (emphasis mine):

I wonder why some humans take no personal responsibility for what happens in the world? Just because you have never had a personal relationship or experience with God, doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. It just means you may not be one of the humans He has chosen to show Himself to. Even if He did, the way you think would cause you to attribute His interaction with you to something you did to make it so. I feel such pity for humans like you. If you had lived my life, you would KNOW Him as I do. But He has given you freewill, and thus, the option to say He does not exist. All will become clear when you encounter Him after death. Humans are wrong about many, many, many, MANY things. Believing there is no God is the most tragic of all.

I could pick this thing to pieces, but again, that’s not my schtick — I’m a more-or-less friendly atheist. There’s at least four or five questionable assumptions and dubious claims in here, but the one sticking in my teeth like a popcorn kernel is the bolded line.

Pity.

Pity assumes that the pitied party is in really dire straits. (Sidenote: are you familiar with Puddles’ Pity Party? You should be, and I say that even though my comfort level with clowns is barely inches above the pavement.) Pity assumes that the pitier is in a superior position, somehow, to the pitied. And pity is, therefore, pretty much innately condescending. Someone up high feeling badly for someone down low.

Get the hell out of here with that.

If I’m to be pitied, it’s only for thinking that I could somehow start turning a dime off my words after almost 40 years walking this earth, not because I don’t believe in the specific god that you happen to believe. I’m doing just fine in my heathenism. Good house, good job, good family.

And, somewhat off the point: what’s up with calling me a “human”? Are you not a human? Am I somehow less than a person? I can’t prove it, but it definitely feels derogatory, so minus points for that, too.

This is not the humble, shrinking atheist you were looking for.

You can go about your business.

Atheist Symbol

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Liechtenstein!


It finally happened; I’ve had a visitor from Liechtenstein!

Actually, a lot of folks landed here after the interweb dumped them out of the tubes from Eastern Europe. Funny story actually.

Turns out, some douchenozzle hijacked a photo of my son from my blog. You know, the gross one — the one immediately following his birth, where most of his small intestine is in a toothpaste tube attached to his belly button (he had gastroschisis, but don’t worry — he’s fine now). Said douchenozzle then used said picture to fuel one of those garbage social media posts. You know the ones. Look at this suffering baby. Like = 1 prayer, Comment = 10 prayers. Essentially, a ploy for attention and clicks using my son to bait the faithful.

Which is shameful, but I guess not shocking. The internet is a place for all sorts of deplorables to get together, after all. Funny thing, though? That picture is lifted from my “Why I Am an Atheist” post. Which goes to show you — not that it’s shocking or anything — just how hard this particular deplorable worked when he stole my picture. (Spoiler alert: not hard at all. Searching that picture brings you straight here.)

But wait!

The hits, it seems, are coming from this site — which is in German, thanks Google Translate — which appears to be something of an aggregator for skepticism and debunking fake news. Two of my favorite things! And somebody at that site saw the post, researched it, found out it was a load of hot garbage, and pointed out the proper home of the picture. Along the way, they cheekily pointed out that the picture, property of an avowed godless heathen, was being used to garner prayers. Ha!

So a handful of Eastern European atheists — a gaggle of Germans, a smattering of Austrians, and my one Liechsteinian (that’s so much fun to say!) are landing here. That kind of makes me smile.

Although I have to wonder how well the stories about toddler poop hold up when they get translated into German.


Harry Potter and the Unfalsifiable Speciosity


Yes, “speciosity” is totally a word. (I googled it after I decided that I needed it. Sometimes things work out in your favor. Oh ah.)

‘I’m sorry, but that’s completely ridiculous … You could claim that anything’s real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody’s proved it doesn’t exist!’ – Hermione Grainger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

author J.K Rowling

Thanks to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe for reminding me that there are things to love about the Harry Potter books that go way beyond the whimsical. (The SGU wraps up every episode of their (really quite excellent) weekly podcast with a skeptical quote, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear this one.)

What? My commute is over a half-hour each way. I listen to a lot of podcasts these days. (To be fair, I listened to this episode while running. BTW, it’s still effington hot out there.)

Happy Sunday!


The Weekly Re-Motivator: Right Place, Right Time


Yesterday was a rough day for a run. Long week at work, the spectre of even more long days next week (auditions are going to start up, so that’s after-school hours, HOORAY), and the general fatigue that the summer months and the summer heat have left me with — all of them took their toll. The alarm went off, and I’m not too proud to say it. I fell asleep again.

But something woke me up again, and I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I had set a goal to run four times this week or if something unremembered was tickling my subconscious, but there I was. I knew I had to get up. No cashing in my slacker tokens for a Friday sleep-in. It was time to lace up. (Okay, so I don’t “lace up” anymore since I’ve basically given up on running shoes, but it sounds cooler than saying “time to pull on my goofy-ass foot-gloves.)

And it wasn’t a miraculous run or anything. Pretty much as rough and unfun as any run for the past month has been. I almost don’t remember what comfortable running weather feels like — in my nightmares, it’s always 76 degrees with the relative humidity making it feel like 90. And then I wake up, and that’s the actual temperature. But at least the sky was clear.

And as I entered the first leg of my loop, I remembered — that’s why I wanted to run today. The Perseid meteor shower. I’m a little bit fascinated with the universe and with space in general, so celestial events like this hold a special obsession for me … even if I rarely get to see them. Living just outside Atlanta — one of the most light-polluted areas on the east coast — kinda puts a damper on any of those majestic sights. It would take a near supernova-level blast of light to penetrate the haze of ambient light that hangs in our night sky.

Still, every time a meteor shower rolls through, I cast my eyes skyward in hopes of seeing something, anything — a bit of first-hand evidence that there are bigger things out there, that the cosmos is still pushing and pulling at us. I’ve been disappointed every time. But this time, I saw it. A tiny flicker drew my attention up toward the southeast, and then, while I was trying to figure out if it might have been a meteorite or just a passing plane, it happened.

A shooting star. There one second, gone the next. Streaking across the sky like lightning late for a date. Blazing a glowing white scar in the black sky. Impossibly fast and impossibly bright, and then, just as impossibly gone. It was over so fast, I’m almost not sure I didn’t imagine it.

It was the only meteor that I saw, and if something hadn’t drawn my eye up at just that moment, I would have missed it.

I always get mixed up at things like this. The quiet, ineffable majesty of the cosmos works on me in ways I don’t properly understand. It’s easy to see how people mistake this sort of thing for the divine, how they read the machinations of a deity into these things that seem too awesome, too powerful, too magical for beings such as we to understand. And I could certainly fall into that trap myself, too; intimating meaning where there is none, insisting upon significance in the meaningless collision of a couple specks of galactic dust.

But things don’t always mean things. The universe doesn’t rearrange itself in order to inspire us or shock us or overwhelm us into epiphanies about the meaning of life. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, looking up at the right part of the sky.

But just because the beauty isn’t designed, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because the falling star wasn’t set in motion for my benefit, doesn’t mean that I can’t benefit from it.

I finally managed to see a meteor — and a doozy, at that — not because it was my time to see one. I managed to see it because I’ve wanted to see one for years, and I keep doing the best I can to try and make it happen. This time, it worked out. Maybe next time the Perseids roll around, it will, too.

And that’s life, innit?

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.


May the Fourth Be With You (And Also With You)


Know what I like best about the “religion” of the force in Star Wars? It doesn’t take sides.

I mean, let’s be honest, the Force is religion. This guy or that girl or some other dude or your long-lost father is strong in the force for reasons never stated and certainly not comprehensible (and you can GTFO with that midichlorians sharknado). If the Force is on your side, you can perform straight-up miracles, like levitating your Orange Crush across the room because you’re too lazy to go get it during the commercial break in Coruscant’s Next Top Jedi, or force-choking your idiot friend who won’t shut up about how Han shot first.

The miracles are cool and awesome and super. But what I actually like best is that the Force is an equal-opportunity personal savior. The Force is perfectly happy serving Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker or Kylo Ren or Rey WhoTheHellKnows. Everybody and anybody can call on the Force to bless themselves or anybody else.

Maythe4th

“May the Force be with you.”

Ben Kenobi says it. Anakin Skywalker says it. Emperor Palpatine says it. Princess Leia says it. Yoda says it. Darth Vader says it. Even Han Solo says it, and he is an explicit non-believer on the subject.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tree-hugging freedom fighter, a power-crazed space slumlord, a half-insane cave monkey or a floppy-haired debonair space ace, you can call on the Force to help you out, and if you’re lucky, it just might save your ass.

What does this mean?

Well, if the Force is an explicit metaphor for religion, I think it shows that religion, faith, belief, are much like a lightsaber. Be it red, yellow, green or fantastic purple, it’s just a tool. It isn’t intrinsically good or bad. It just is, and whether it’s a symbol of good or bad depends entirely upon the person wielding it.

And if the Force isn’t religion, well, that’s okay too, because it’s still just a tool. Like the hammer collecting dust in your garage, it doesn’t have a stake in whether your house stays in good repair or if it crumbles to dust. It’s there to bang on some nails if you want to, or to go smashing up some drywall if that’s your thing, or, hell, it’s even happy just hanging there watching dust motes swirl in the stale air.

*makes the jump to lightspeed without plotting coordinates first because that’s the way we do it in the new era of Star Wars*

 


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