Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What would you like to see in an Atheist website?

An idea occurred to me while driving home last night, and idea for the website I needed when I first came out of religion. It would serve as a repository for articles on science and religion (from an atheist viewpoint). Basically, an entire site dedicated to saying “You are not alone, and you don’t have to suffer.”

There could be different sections dedicated to issues unique to former members of different religions, comparative religion studies, articles by well known freethinkers (like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc etc.), a bookstore (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “What are some good atheist books?”), links to videos like Skepticon and other talks, Blog hosting, social networking, the potential ideas are endless.

I’m looking for ideas in what you would have liked to have seen when you came out of religion. High level ideas are great, but I’m more interested in specifics, like “I wish somebody had told me about The God Delusion”, etc. If you have come across articles that helped you, or would have helped you if you had known about them, I want to know. If you have ideas you would like to see implemented, also let me know. Just post a comment. Every honest suggestion will be taken seriously and is likely to be implemented.

Trolls be warned, I will delete your comments because I’m really just not in the mood for it. I’m not looking to start a debate here, so troll comments are less than unnecessary. I’m quite serious about giving new atheists a resource for coming to grips with their atheism.

That said, please comment. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You’re a closed minded bigoted Atheist!

A friend recently blogged about a t-shirt she had seen that read “Fuck God”. An interesting discussion ensued in the comments and me being the opinionated asshole I am couldn’t resist but to jump in. The original post is here: It’s worth your time to go read the whole thing.

Another friend once told me that sometimes my comments are better than my blog posts. I read the comment again I kindof agreed with her, so instead of the post I had planned next, I’m just simply posting the comment I put over there more or less verbatim (with an occasional spelling correction).


First of all, you do not have the right to not be offended. While I would never wear a Fuck God shirt, my only objection to wearing it in public is the word “Fuck”, which would be awkward to explain to my kids. As far a Christian’s right to not see that, you don’t have that right. I drive by at least five churches no matter where I go, and I don’t get to object to that. I don’t get to object to the Christian dogma displayed at the Seventh Day Adventist based hospital where my mom went for surgery, because that’s where her insurance is good at. I just have to deal with it. If a Christian has to do the same, I’m not going to get upset about that.

I have found no Christians coming to my defense. Indeed, I find myself needing defense against Christians. No Christians objected when George H. W. Bush said Atheists were neither citizens nor patriots. This is the former president of the United States saying this, not a crazy pastor from Florida. An elected leader of the country of which I’m a citizen thinks I have no worth to this country because I don’t subscribe to your dogma.

Do Christians come to my defense when I’m fighting against the teaching of Intelligent Design in the public school system? No, they’re the ones I’m fighting. They see no problem with teaching Christian dogma in the public schools in direct opposition to proven science.

Did Christians come to my defense when I lost everything to my ex-wife joining cults? No, they’re running the cults.

Did Christians come to my defense when I was fired for not hiding my atheism in the workplace? No, they’re the ones who fired me.

Did Christians come to the defense of the Atheist who lost custody of his/her children for being an Atheist?

Did Christians stand up against the blatant violation of church and state that occurred by placing “In God We Trust” on our money in 1956? Or “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance in 1954?

Could you even imagine an open Atheist being elected President? Or to any public office? Did you know religious tests for public office are explicitly forbidden by the constitution, but we have to pass them anyway, don’t we? One of the crazy claims leveled against Obama is that he’s a Muslim or even worse (gasp!) an Atheist. How is that not a religious test? You have to be Christian to get elected. Period.

If you want to know what upsets Atheists, this would be a great place to start.

If you want to call it closed minded and prejudice, that’s your right. I call it real world experience. Christians are in politics fighting climate science, fighting evolution, fighting health care reform, fighting NPR, fighting Planned Parenthood, and running our country into the ground with debt from needless wars. I’m perfectly willing to accept other information, and I’m quite aware that these behaviors and actions do not represent all Christians, but it’s the vast majority. And I don’t see the moderate or liberal Christians fighting back, I see the Atheists fighting back, and for that we’re labeled “Angry” and “Militant” or “Combative” because we’re standing up against this bullshit. Fuck God? If he’s out there and lets these things happen, Yes.

If you want to present evidence for Christians who do not behave like this, I’m open to it, but your definition of “Closed Minded” is a little off. You seem to be saying “I should agree with you or I’m closed minded” and that’s bullshit. Religious groups CAN be painted with the same brush to a certain degree. Ethnic groups cannot, because the color of your skin does not determine your behavior. Your gender does not determine your behavior. BUT YOUR RELIGION DOES. You have a holy book that tells you what to do and how to behave. Sure, people interpret it differently BUT IT’S THE SAME BOOK.

Atheists, on the other hand, only have one thing in common, we reject superstition. That’s it. We can’t be painted with the “Evolution is a religion” brush or whatever other brush they like to paint us with, because Atheism is not about a set of beliefs, it’s about a lack of certain beliefs. Past that, it’s fair game. Atheists are liberal, conservative, libertarian, and every other variety of political orientation that you can think of. We’re scientists, artists, writers, every day working Joes, whatever. Not all of us study evolution. Some of us just don’t care.

But we get painted with the Atheist brush all the time, and if you run across a blog entry by an Atheist who’s pissed off about that, are you really surprised? You just did it yourself. She said “we get treated differently” and you said “you’re closed minded and prejudiced”. I would say if you only find angry atheists but no bigoted Christians, you’re either A) doing it wrong or B) falling victim to confirmation bias. In which case it would be YOU who is closed minded.

Let me leave you with another video about what being closed minded really means.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I got back from Skepticon IV late last night and it was a blast. I loved every talk I was able to attend. Sprint sucks ass, by the way.

But something happened while I was there, and I’m going to address this first. You may have heard of what became known as “Gelatogate”. Saturday evening, a gelato store just down the street from the theatre where Skepticon was being held put this sign up in the window.

Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business

I heard about this Sunday morning via the twitterverse. As soon as lunch hit I ran down to the store to see the sign for myself, but it was gone and Gelato Mio was closed (they’re not open on Sundays, fancy that).

We were pissed. I’m not sure how many attendees knew about this, but those of us who did were pissed. Some nastiness was said over twitter, and I was right in the middle of it. We ate lunch across the street at a place called Trolley’s who normally doesn’t open until 3pm on Sunday, but had opened early just for us and gave us an express menu so we could eat quickly and get back for the next talk. Restaurants being overwhelmed by us and lunch/dinner taking too long had become a bit of a problem, so this was appreciated, especially in light of the stupidity from across the street.

Let me be clear, this crap is not universal. We were, of course, in Springfield Missouri, capital of Jesusland, but most everyone was quite nice to us. I told our waiter at Trolley’s about the sign from the previous evening, and his response was “Jackasses!”. Yeah, he got a good tip.

Later that day, the owner apologized for the sign on the official website.


When I looked at this on Sunday, the second and third paragraphs were not there, they were added later. Here was my response


At some point during the day, the blog posts began showing up. First was JT Eberhard, one of the original founders of Skepticon.

Later came this one from @emilyhasbooks

Earlier today, The Friendly Atheist added his analysis of the same.

These are all good treatments, but something is missing. As a roughly middle aged white guy I don’t usually get discriminated against much. As a rule I oppose bigotry and discrimination in whatever forms I encounter it in, but aside from occasionally being treated less preferentially than thinner more attractive people, I don’t usually get to see the ugliness from the receiving end. It’s an eye opening experience.

One of the first things I noticed about Skepticon was that it almost seemed hidden. The Gilloz Theatre where it was held had no mention of a large 1100 person conference being held there on it’s website. When we arrived there, the sign above the theatre was advertising a John Wayne movie that would be shown there a couple of weeks from now. The first Skepticon sign I saw was inside the theatre.

On Saturday over lunch I was hard up for some foo foo coffee, and went in search of a Starbucks like coffee house. I found one not too far away. The friendly (and kinda hot) barista, who had to have noticed the “atheist” pin I was wearing, asked me if there was some kind of conference going on, because she had noticed a lot of people with nametags on. I told her about Skepticon, which was being held a mere block and a half away from her store. She was still friendly and smiled, but I was surprised that she didn’t know about a huge conference practically next door.

Lastly, on Sunday evening before we drove home, we ate dinner at a local restaurant. Some ugly glances came our way and somebody was overheard saying “yeah, they’re atheists”. 


All of these things combined to show me the ugly side of bigotry first hand. We were bothering no one, we were boosting the local economy, and yet we were hidden as much as possible, told not to come to a local store, and by (admittedly a minority) made to feel unwelcome.

It makes me feel ugly. Dirty. Violated. It makes me want to scream.

I argue with Christians, but only when they want to. I oppose religion in schools, but they Christians are the ones trying to bring it in. I respond to their internet hate, but it’s in response. I don’t go to their churches and protest. I don’t carry signs that read “God Hates Westboro” (even though that would be kinda funny). I want to live in a rational world. I don’t begrudge the religious their right to be religious, and I would certainly never ban them all from a restaurant.

This is bigotry, plain and simple. This is little different than how people with dark skin have been treated for years. Or Jews, or women, or any number of groups who have been discriminated against.

This is kind of new to me. There’s no real response for it except to make it known, which the community has. Gelato Mio’s ratings have taken a serious hit since Saturday. They also ought to know that we will be back, and most likely nobody will patronize their store next time, most certainly not me. The record profits shared by other local businesses will not be theirs. This is sad since they were apparently a sponsor of Skepticon initially. Perhaps they didn’t know that nearly all skeptics are also atheists.

But most importantly, it shows how far we still have to go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stupid Round Up #1

Someone said I haven’t been posting. She’s right, but I’ll be honest, I don’t have much to say. The stupid coming from the religious right is really the same stupid it’s always been. They don’t really come up with new stuff much. On the crazy psycho ex wife bitch front, more of the same crazy there.

The problem is that while there’s still an assload of crazy out there, it’s the same old shit. There’s just more of it lately.

So just for fun I went perusing YouTube and found a handful of videos that were so stupid I laughed. Some of them might be parodies, but Poe’s Law makes it hard to tell. Here they are.

The answer couldn’t possibly be “3000 year old goat herders with no concept of modern science.”

This is why Logic and Critical Thinking should be required classes in public education. I would bet money that the religious right would fight it if someone tried.

I really hope that one is a spoof.

Actually this one was more painful that funny. The stupid actually truly does burn. Help me…. I want to rebut this one so badly, but I have to remind myself of the futility of such action.

Ok, the only political entry. The spin is high but the insanity is low. The main thing that caught my eye was… well, two things. Damn. I mean DAMN! Does the fact that I’m not really sure what she was saying make me a sexist? It’s weird how she actually kinda makes me want to vote Perry.  Almost.

Ok, it’s Family Guy, but it’s funny anyway and fits the theme.

Feature = Related

A production with a little money to it. Yet the stupid is thicker than ever. OW OW OW OW OW BURNING OW OW MAKE IT STOP!!!

Ah, the classic Ray Comfort banana argument. If, by chance, this one is new to you, I’ll clue you into the answer. Bananas don’t occur naturally.

Ok, this one isn’t stupid, it’s smart. It’s well produced. It’s by one of my favorite speakers, The Thinking Atheist. Let’s say I put it here for balance, if you can call it that.

Well, that’s enough for me, I’m driving.