Friday, November 4, 2011

A Proposition: Religion is a quick path to security

I am in the middle of something really cool right now. I have an old friend (we're going to call him Sam) who turned to faith several years back when life threw him its typical curve ball. He recently declared that he doesn't know what to believe any more and appears to have become disillusioned with his chosen church and, on a deeper level, is questioning his faith in God. I saw this as an opportunity to provide Sam with solicited information on atheism and its foundation in logic, reality, science, and free thought. To my delight, Sam has asked that I provide him with resources to understand what I, and all other atheists, "view" to be the truth about the origin of the cosmos, the earth, life etc. I put "view" in quotations because, believers like Sam see a non-believer's knowledge of things like evolution, astronomy, and natural science as beliefs. And while I guess we as atheists  do believe in what we know, I find labeling this knowledge as a "belief" or "view" somewhat demeaning. Anyway, I digress.

As I continue to embark on this attempt to enlighten Sam, I will be posting what I am learning about my atheism, science, and the complexity of "deconverting" a believer.

Here is a sample from today's discussion. Sam is really wanting me to provide him with "the truth" I keep referring to when I speak of  the origin of the earth and everything on it. He wants the "quick and dirty" on big bang theory, cell mutation, evolution, etc etc. In an attempt to start with foundational information, I have been presenting him with videos on how scientists have determined the age of stars, other galaxies and so on.Sam's response has been, "yeah, that's nice but how do you prove God didn't create that"; and  "I want to know how earth formed - from star dust?"; and "Did humans just come from monkeys?" My response to Sam has been that, unlike religion, which just provides a finite story of how it all began, asking you only to believe it "just because", science requires far more exploration into obtaining proofs of what it hypothesizes. Furthermore, scientists (and atheists) are comfortable with accepting unknowns without the need to contrive and then believe in myths all for the purpose of creating security where unknowns exist.

So may I propose the following for discussion: Religion is simply instant gratification for impatient people that just want quick security from that which we haven't yet discovered or that which requires a higher level of cerebral exertion?

Oh, and if you know of any good resources for people wanting to learn more about the true origins of, well, everything, please feel free to post them below. I will add them to my new tab, "Resources for Doubters."

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Effort and Laziness

The challenge for Atheism lies in the fact that for a  believer to enlighten themselves to the truth and logic of non-belief requires them to educate themselves on some pretty lofty scientific truths. It requires, at the very least, quasi-academic study and thinking because atheists don't just throw their trust into whatever makes them feel good. On the other hand those who have been indoctrinated into faith or are in the process of establishing their path, being wooed by religion,  need not worry about such scrutiny. For to be a "good believer" requires only unabashed trust in what you are told. Quite easy and may I say, lazy.

So we are left asking people to take the route that requires effort while religion requests that you let them do the thinking for you.

Sometimes human nature sucks. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is worth a post

In the last twenty four hours I have had one person tell me he appreciates the words I spread; one man tell me he has decided to turn his back on religion; and one man tell me he is frustrated with belief and wants to talk about "other options."

I think I have mentioned, snow balls require snow flakes. It's a good day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

God Is Pro Choice - A Deductive Argument

Deductive arguments are attempts to show that a conclusion necessarily follows from a set of premises or hypotheses. A deductive argument is valid if the conclusion does follow necessarily from the premises, i.e. the conclusion must be true provided that the premises are true. A deductive argument is sound if it is valid and its premises are true. Deductive arguments are valid or invalid, sound or unsound. Deductive reasoning is a method of gaining knowledge. An example of a deductive argument:
  1. All men are mortal
  2. Socrates is a man
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal

So let me practice:

1. God is all-powerful and the architect of everything that occurs on Earth. (In the eyes of a believer true or untrue?)
2. Miscarriage is a spontaneous, non-medical, naturally occurring abortion (True or untrue?)
3. One who believes that abortions should occur is considered "pro-choice." (true or untrue?)
4. God is pro-choice  (true or untrue?)

I know the arguments that believers will use to attack this very logical and accurate representation of their chosen god. They are the same arguments employed by believers whenever holes in their fairy tale are revealed. They certainly aren't deductive arguments.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Anti-Choice Hypocrisy

I was enjoying a pleasant Autumn walk home from the pub after watching my beloved Arsenal put the final touches on a convincing  Premier League victory. The sun was shining, it was unseasonably warm, the leaves were half-way between Summer-green and Fall-color, and my afternoon was going to consist of enjoying the company of my wonderful wife and daughter. It really was a moment of nirvana. Then, shockingly, I was forced to look at the ghastly image of an aborted fetus. You may have seen it, the one where the head and legs are disconnected from the torso. Lots of blood. It was on one of those placards being held by an Anti-Choice activist.

My instinct was to berate the arsehole for exploiting the very being that he claimed to be protecting. However, I decided to respect a citizen's right to protest and stood at a distance far enough away to clearly dissociate myself from the Anti-Choice cause. It was an uncomfortable wait for the light to turn green. It got more uncomfortable when the subject arsehole asked me if I wanted a pamphlet.

I decided at this point he had opened himself up to hearing my own protest, not to his cause, but rather the medium he had chosen to promulgate his cause. Using an image of an aborted fetus to gain followers is blatantly disrespectful to that fetus and a complete contradiction to the Anti-Choice movement. If you seriously view that fetus as a life why do you feel it respectful to take a photo of it, blow it up to 3'x4', and stand on a busy street corner flashing it in strangers' faces?

Listen, I recognize that people can have different opinions regarding the exact point where life begins. It is a highly emotional and personal debate with ostensibly no "right" answer.  My personal view of life's genesis  is obviously far different than this protester's but I respect that he feels life begins when a tadpole meets an egg. In terms of abortion, there are several scenarios where I don't feel it should be legal however there are many instances where I feel it should be available as a choice for women. But that debate is not what this blog post is about.  

I will end with two scenarios that I hope will make my point or at least generate some meaningful debate.  I apologize for the harsh mental imagery they  may cause but feel my generic descriptions, involving fictional people, will make an important point.  So here goes:

As an obvious Pro-Choice advocate I decide to head down to the local corner with an explicit  3'x4'  image of a 16-year-old girl involved in sexual intercourse with a 45-year-old man. The sign reads: "This girl is being raped by her father. He has AIDS."

As a pro-euthanasia advocate I start a web page to promote the cause. The background image is of a 95-year-old woman connected to various machines; some performing respiratory functions while others ensure she is nourished. She is wearing a diaper however it appears to have failed to contain her last bowel movement adequately. The sign reads: "Is this dignity?"

Do my causes really matter?

Friday, September 23, 2011

"With God's help..."

Photo: Reuters
So, I was thinking that Netanyahu's speech to the UN was poised, tempered, and somewhat un-religious until he stated that "with God's help" Israel and the Palestinians would find peace. I have a better idea: stop believing in God, the cause of this utter clusterfuck, and start really  working on peace. Am I the only person who sees the absolute ridiculousness of this god business?

Monday, September 12, 2011


9/11/2001 with no religion. Would we be talking about that day's tragedy today? Me thinks no. A good day to listen to Mr.Lennon's anthem of reality.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 24, 2011

Atheist Word Association

To assist me in writing a far more poignant piece than this one (to be posted at a later date), I asked my "friends" on Facebook to play a little word association. Simple: when I say Atheist, what comes to mind? Now, it is not my intention to judge those who responded because I truly do appreciate them helping me out on this. Plus, as anyone who has played word association knows, the first word that comes to mind is not necessarily your actual definition or belief regarding the subject with completely unrelated jibberish a frequent result - hence the fun of the game over a few beer. Nonetheless, here are some of the responses and my thoughts on them. Like I said, this post is not the ultimate product of this little experiement but rather some Friday fun.

Societal Outcast
Love this one because it is ironically true. Those who would rather have fairy tales proven before believing them are considered socially deviant in our current society. Happy to be part of this group of misfits.

Common Sense
Aside from the obvious, my favourite aspect of this response was the follow up: ("which I suppose isn't so common"). Amen.

Modern, moderate, rational
Nice to think we are thought of as modern. I suspect this is because Atheism is "trending" in social circles right now. While, superficially I will take this as a compliment for the movement, I certainly hope we become more than just today's leg warmers. I love hearing "moderate" and "rational" (even though I know this person thinks I am anything but). These are two descriptors that are welcoming and will, over time, allow closeted sceptics to comfortably walk through the doors of logic sans fear.

This one bugs me even though I recognize the point and admit my aggravation is one of silly semantics. While I understand that anyone can subscribe to anything for which they have strong passion for as a religion (i.e. hockey in Canada; public breast feeding in Ottawa)  I pettily default to Merriam Webster's first definition of the word and hate being associated with a faith in the supernatural.  But c'est la vie.

Lost Little Boy
This is either a classic response with absolutely no relevance to the subject or someone who needs to spend some time with me or another male atheist in their locale. We aren't lost nor are we dwarfs.

As humans, yes we are, at times, snarky. Not sure what we would call the god of the old testmament then.

Nice reponse especially when we think about what Atheists really are. Simply people who choose to believe based on their logic and reason. Quite a benign and mundane lot really.

Sceptical but not without compassion
Love this one. Hits on exactly what my greater purpose is for this project. Will leave it at that and ask you to come back when I finally finish it.

I suspect this is what came to mind when this person thought of me, and if the case, an accurate first impression. However, she may also think of Atheists this way in a general sense. We have to be argumentative when we have women covering their bodies in the name of religion; school boards discriminating against gay students; governments listening to Christian lobbyists in an effort to thwart equality; and mythology being taught in science class.

Closed Minded
While I love this person very much and will always defend people's right to religion as much as I fight for my protection from religion, this is definately my favourite. Two general, but not inaccrate comments:
Atheists: people who choose to believe only what has been objectively proven to date or that which has strong probability based on scientific trends, with the willingess to be proven wrong by future discoveries - including the true proof of the supernatural.
Theists: people who believe in something with no objective proof, generally unwilling to admit they could be wrong and that their belief is based on blind faith alone. Fought to have the phrase "There probably is no god. Be good for goodness sake" removed from a bus.
You decide.

You don't believe everything you are told
Can't think of a better compliment

Lost, radical, and sad
A real trend towards being lost...interesting and worth a post on its own. Atheists get lost like anyone else. Oh, and sad too. But it's not our sense of logic's fault.
Radical: One guy believes in a ghost. The other doesn't. Let's play "Who's radical?" In all seriousness, this is one concept I genuinely find fascinating and illusrates the incredible marketing job religion has done over the centuries. I can accept someone chosing faith over atheism. But to call atheism the radical of the two choices makes absolutely no sense to me. Call me, ah, radical I guess.

Whitty response. Biting my tongue.

I can understand if a person that has a perceived relationship with a god equivalent to a real person, depending on him for clarity, purpose, and guidance views an atheist as lonely. Speaking for myself, I have a great wife, hilarious daughter, a solid family, and top notch friends. All is good with me. I am sure there are lonely atheists.....the ones with none of these things.

Interesting and in many ways true.  This response speaks to the general intolerance of society. To think that you have to be brave to state that you only believe in proven things in the year 2011 is a sad commentary on society. This is why I write this blog and drive people nuts on Facebook!

We're not.

As more responses come in I will add them and eventually make this a seperate page link, as I think they are at the heart of the misunderstanding of Atheism. Like I said, I will also be using this information to discuss a more pragmatic topic: the need for Atheist charity and community-building.

Considering the centuries of social persecution of Atheists at the hands of organized religion, misconceptions are logical.  To those of you reading this who contributed, I genuinely appreciate your time and respect your opinions and beliefs.

Enjoy your days!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Atheists doing good things. Time to make it a first impression.

Check out and contribute to the great new charity listed here on the left: Foundation Beyond Belief. It's time for people's first impression of Atheists to be that of compassionate community builders. This is a great place for us all to start. Thanks FBB!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dumb Chicks Talking About Smart Stuff

I was about to call this disturbing but then I came to my senses and thought about the collective IQ of these bimbos and their lack of  relevance in the world. But seriously, aren't beauty pageants a great example of a less evolved element of human existence? The good news? The winner actually believed unequivocally that only evolution should be taught in schools. Natural selection begins!

Friday, June 10, 2011

End of Week Thoughts on The Potential of Science and What It Means to Atheists

Everyday I use the time spent walking home from dropping my daughter off at daycare to reflect on things. Sometimes about work. Sometimes about family. Sometimes about my non-belief. This often results in me generating hypothetical conversations with imaginary believers or just trying to find the perfect phrase to capture an element of my belief system. This shouldn't be confused with a quest for the perfect debate clincher - although at times it does take this tone in my all-to-busy mind.

Today I was thinking about atheism, science, belief, and knowledge. The following statement came to mind:

Atheists aren't Atheists because they believe science has found all the answers. Atheists are Atheists because they believe that science CAN find all the answers.

An obvious statement to some. Maybe not so much to others.

Either way, I found it to be a nice thought to end a great week. Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Inspiring Words from a Christian Convert

I read this article written by Ms. Paula Kirby in the Hibernia Times. It is an incredibly articulate and intimate description of a former believer's path from faith to reason. Thoughtful. Respectful yet pointed. Inspiring to any Atheist, skeptic, or troubled believer. My favourite passages:

"Knowing what kind of god someone believes in tells us a great deal about that person – but nothing whatsoever about the truth or otherwise of the existence of any god at all."

"An atheist life, well lived, leads to the only kind of afterlife there is any evidence for whatsoever: the immortality of living on in the fond memories of those who loved us."

This is a great piece for someone trying to come to terms with the reality that their faith is faltering and the fear of not knowing what exists after the leap of logic.

Thank you Ms. Kirby

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Human Rights Are Not Religious Rights

It will be short and sweet today. I am reading Maryam Namazie's keynote address to the World Atheist Conference in Dublin last week (I wish I could have been there). Her talk was entitled The Islamic Inquisition. While I find her entire speech compelling, the following passage in particular intricately captures society's growing, and dangerous, desire to defend Muslims' collective "right" to Sharia law as an individual's right to freedom:

"As a result of such politics, concepts such as rights, equality, respect and tolerance, which were initially raised vis-à-vis the individual, are now more and more applicable to culture and religion and often take precedence over real live human beings. Moreover, the social inclusion of people into society has come to solely mean the inclusion of their beliefs, sensibilities, concerns and agendas (read Islamism’s beliefs, sensibilities, concerns and agendas) and nothing more. The distinction between humans and their beliefs and regressive political movements is of crucial significance here. It is the human being who is meant to be equal not his or her beliefs. It is the human being who is worthy of the highest respect and rights not his or her beliefs or those imputed on them."

Thank you Ms. Namazie for so accurately presenting one of the myriad theistic threats facing our society today. Of course, to get the full context of her concerns head to her blog:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Believer's "Coming Out"

Photo courtesy of

I have had a few conversations with believers lately that have brought the concept of blind faith to the fore. I am proud to say that I don't believe in a god. Sure, at times it can be a bit awkward to say when I know I am in the presence of believers whose relationship with me I value. But I am always very proud to declare my non-belief. It is a core element of who I am on par with my gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, and being a fan of Arsenal FC.

While believers and I will likely never see eye to eye on anything to do with our chosen paths of belief, I would assume we both share one thing in common: a pride in the belief system we have chosen. I have to assume that the sense of identification I have in stating "I cannot believe in a god because I don't believe in blind faith" is mirrored by a believer stating "I have blind faith in God because I think some things are 'bigger' than science." In fact, I will even say that I "get" the latter statement. While I know I could never accept blind faith personally, I do respect that many people feel it.

So where am I going here? Well my aforementioned conversations have revealed several believers who appear to be "in the closet" with their blind faith. While they clearly declare their belief in "God" they become hesitant to base this belief on faith. When I say, "I respect your decision to believe in god I just can't have blind faith in something," they respond with a statement indicating that their belief in "God" is based on something more empirical than faith. It's at this point that my "New Atheist" side is revealed.

I don't claim to know for sure that there is no god. I claim that, based on all of the objective, measurable, falsifiable information available to me, I believe there is a near absolute improbability that a god exists. My lack of belief is based on my need for objective proof and I am proud to say it. When a believer states that: a. They are certain of god's existence and b. That their belief is based on the existence of proof......proof in the form of miracles, I lose my cool.

I'll end this with some semantics. "Faith" refers to the concept of hope and belief in something and it is a word with a broad range of utility. For example, I have faith that my wife and I will do our best to raise our daughter to be a responsible and considerate adult. I have no internal conflict when I make a statement like this. This "faith" is based on observable and reproducible behaviours that my wife and I plan to use in our parenting. What I cannot control are my daughter's genes, what may happen to her parent's health, what happens to the earth during her lifetime etc. I have no faith in those things because they are beyond any one's control and my psychological make up just does not allow me to have faith in these types of things. This is how I would characterize religious faith or "blind faith." It is a trust in the truth of of an unproven deity, the questionable history of a messiah, the future return of this messiah, and the existence of an afterlife. None of which has any objective, reproducible evidence or tangible probability of happening based on trends to date. As such, any one believing this is putting faith in something far different than putting faith in a sports team, family member, or friend. This is what I, and I will confidently predict most people, mean when they use the phrase "blind faith." While I don't have the ability to have blind faith I certainly appreciate its attraction and would fight for people's right to it. I just wish those whose belief depends on blind faith were as proud of it as I am of not having any.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 23, 2011

Who's More Crazy? A Post (non) Rapture Reflection.

Photo courtesy of
I know we are all sick of hearing about Harold Camping's rapture predictions. So I will attempt to make my point in as few words as possible.

Here is the question that the rapture media frenzy has left me with: What makes Mr. Camping all that more crazy than all the "normal" believers out there? Over the past three weeks I have observed so many believers, primarily those that we would call "moderate Christians",  exclaiming their opinion that Camping is a nut-job; that predicting the date and time of the rapture and posting it on billboards across the continent gives all Christians a bad name.

It's as if we have all forgotten about the subject of Mr. Camping's prediction and the one thing that his fellow Christian naysayers generally have no problem with: the return of a dead man, said to be the son of God and a virgin ,sent  to bring all of his followers into heaven while leaving us non-believers to suffer and  die in his created earthquakes followed by an eternity of  suffering in hell. Sure Christians of varying sects and degrees of belief may have variations on this story but the essence is the same: that Jesus will return from the dead, rapture his believers, leaving the non-believers to struggle in hell with Satan.

But what element of Mr. Camping's proclamation do believers feel most tarnishes their own Christian beliefs? May 21, 2011. 6pm. A date. A time.

I don't know, call me crazy, I have a harder time with the rapture part.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A pre May 21 Question

Okay, so let's play make-believe and say the predictions of the May 21 rapture are true. How many of you think that Jesus will accept into his eternal kingdom, atheists who have treated their fellow man and planet with deserved respect?

And before you proclaim that I am worried, I leave you with this: send me to hell if you must Jesus, because I still don't believe in your heavenly father.

Come on people, leave some comments on this one. It's not very often you are faced with a rapture.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Keeping It Simple on a Day of Extravagance.

While Will and Kate push this day over the top, I figured it would be a nice foil to go back to basics. This is what being Atheist means to me.

I don't believe there are any supernatural gods. I don't know that there aren't any supernatural gods but my commitment to applying logic to what I believe leads me to a conclusion that there is a much stronger probability of the inexistence of gods than the existence of gods. I am not afraid of being wrong and hence don't feel compelled to close my mind to the possibility (albeit incredibly unlikely) that a god exists. What makes me, and I suggest all non-theists, different than believers is that the foundation of my non-belief is based on that which is objectively probable, while their belief is based on a faith with no objective probability. This is not a judgement statement, just an indisputable observation.

Simple as that. My deeper value set and how I choose to treat the world and its creatures doesn't come from my lack of theism just like a theist's approach to life doesn't stem from his or her non-belief in the thousands of gods outside of their chosen faith. How shallow would that be? My chosen life approach comes from an innate desire to treat my world with deserved respect. An inherent feeling that it is just "right" to do good. Call it humanism if you must label it.

That's it. If this sounds like you, embrace it openly.

Enjoy the wedding and congrats William and Kate. You seem lovely.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When 2+2=5

Newt Gingrich
(Credit: Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Likely Republican Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich (he of two failed marriages and extramarital affairs, self-attributed to "passion for his country") recently prophesied that America is at risk of becoming a secular atheist country ruled by radical Islam. Here are his exact asenine comments taken from Politico, "I have two grandchildren -- Maggie is 11, Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American." 

 Okay Newt, I am going to send you on a scavenger hunt. I want you to find me some black white people; a couple of German Mexicans; and a dead living person. Having trouble? Well, so too will it be to have a secular atheist nation dominated by radical Islamists. If you think your current flock of Jesus-lovers have a tough time with Atheists, ask your "elite" opposition to explain  what radical Muslims think of non-believers. It isn't pretty.

There's a reason people like Newt fear "elites" and academia, who he claims aren't brave enough to defend America's Christian values: they provide the truth that derails  fear campaigns. Oh and Newt, be careful not to ostracize the people that made that cue card for you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sometimes a simple quote is all a new post requires....


"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion."
– Robert Pirsig

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Arrogance of Belief

A great quote borrowed from

But one question: could the earth have evolved all so that I could exist? My self-absorbed side likes this theory.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Man with an Annoying Voice and an Imporant Message

I know it is lazy to just insert other people's work into your blog. I just don't care. What are you going to do? Send me to hell?

Monday, February 28, 2011

CNN Plays Pretend

I have (i.e. had)  a habit  of checking CNN's website for my up-to-the-nanosecond fix of news. However, after today I may not make the network a frequent cyber-stop. Why you ask? Because this is one of their current "news" stories:

"How would Jesus cut the budget?"

I'm more interested in knowing how Bugs Bunny would oust Gadhafi from Libya.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are Rational Religious People All That Rare?

This is my response to an article written in the Huffington Post today. See the link below for the article.

If you claim to "have no idea what happens to you after you die" are you really a believer? While I respect your liberal approach to religion, it appears to be so progressiv­e as to represent agnotistic rather than theistic principles­. Is it possible that you are confusing "rational religion" with agnosticis­m? I ask this because the approach to religion that you have described appears to very much depend on doubt and logic. You see, religion is not religion if you remove the "Santa Claus" element. In order for any religion to exist its followers must believe in a supernatur­al deity: a santa claus. They must demonstrat­e faith in its existence. Remove this and you no longer have religion. You may have a movement with a fulfilling approach to life but you, by definition­, no longer have religion. I think what you are describing as "rational religion" is the gradual transition from blind faith to atheism.

In short, there is nothing rational about believing in the supernatur­al. As long as this belief is part of the definition of religion the two concepts will remain mutually exclusive.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sorry Mr. President, I Still Don't Believe You....But Thanks For The Plug.

President Obama gave a speech today at The National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. For past-presidents this would certainly not rank very high on the press' "sexy" list but with President Obama it certainly does. Many Americans (and at least one Canadian I should add) question his faith. I would be ecstatic to hear that President Obama is, at the very least, doubting. Most Americans on the otherhand view such skepticism in the supernatural  in the same light as "sins" like theft, adultery, and rape (oh the possibilities for a Pope joke here).

While President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Christianity during his speech to believers today, I still hold that he is far more a wise man than a Christian one. He knows his approval ratings would nose dive at a rate similar to Piers Morgan's viewership  if he were to even hint at questioning his beliefs. Not to mention the fact that he is in his first term with a pack of bible-thumping, gun wielding, tea-baggers cocked, loaded, and awaiting election season. If he decided to be the first modern era President to publicly question his faith he would at least wait until the farewell tour of his second term.

So after reading his speech from this morning I am certainly not any less ardent in my theory (see hope) that President Obama is an atheist. I am, however, happy to have read a portion of his speech where he discusses his parents and upbringing. He describes his father as a "non-believer" and his mother as "growing up with a certain skepticism" (this is his way of saying she was atheist without giving America a collective heart attack). It's what he says he learned from his mother that brought a smile to my face and, I feel, was a subtle message to atheists, agnostics, and skeptics. He said that his mother "was somebody who was instinctively guided by the golden rule and who nagged me constantly about the homespun values of her Kansas upbringing, values like honesty and hard work, and kindness and fair play. And it's because of her that I came to understand the equal worth of all men and all women, and the imperatives of an ethical life, and the necessity to act on your beliefs."

Get ready to soil your gitch America. You have a president that learned his "Christian values" from an atheist. Values on which  many believers feel they hold a monopoly. How many times have we atheists heard the argument that without a belief in God one is unable to live a life of morality? Right-wing believers may hate his politics but look me in the eye (just click on "About Your Bartender") and tell me the guy is amoral. Then again, you can look me in the eye and tell me you believe the story of Noah so forget it.

I'm no conspiracy theorist  but I really think Obama is speaking to the skeptical population when his speeches contain these subtle passages. I think he wants us to know that he has doubts, respects skepticism, and knows we're good people even if we don't believe.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Semantics of Miracles

Have any of you noticed the frequent references to "miracles" in our media? An example: I was shocked to hear Dr. Michael Lemole, congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's neurosurgeon, state that it would be "wise to believe in miracles" when explaining Mrs. Giffords' remarkable rate of recovery. Are you serious? A man of science crediting divine intervention over his own intelligence, the skills of his team, the rapid response to the shooting, and at the very least, yet to be discovered scientific rationale. I mean, I can't say it was surprising to hear Oprah suggest that it was a miracle that her newly discovered half-sister bears the same name as her deceased sister (it was Patrica by the way). I equate that to another believer confusing miracle with coincidence. But for an esteemed member of the medical community to even consider including "god" as part of his medical team shocks me. I guess he could be playing to his geographic constituents (and by geographic I am referring to his entire country). It was evident to me while watching the ra-ra-sis-boom-ba "memorial service" that it is wise for any public figure speaking to the masses affected by this tragedy to include some god-references. Even Obama (who I still hold is a closeted Atheist) quoted scripture. I really hope this is what was behind Dr. Lemole's "miracle" statement.

Okay, so I wrote the previous paragraph about three weeks ago and then saved it as a draft with plans of revisiting it for a witty closing illustrating my frustration with people who liken the unexplained to divine intervention. However I thought it would be wise to visit Merriam and check out the definition of "miracle". To my delight, I discovered that the second definition is terrestrial, stating "an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." So why is this a significant finding worthy of your discretionary time? Well, this means that believers don't have a monopoly over such a weighty word. While I don't think that disseminating  the semantic details of the word "miracle" is the best use of the atheist movement's time, it certainly wouldn't  hurt to stake some claim over it during our efforts to take over the world. Think of it as synonymous to the word "marriage" - another word that believers have to learn to share.

It also means that when asked "do you believe in miracles" I can respond "are you referring to definition one or two?"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hedonistic Priests and the Case For "Normal"

So Benedict says that the pedophilic behaviour of his priests must be seen in a broader social context where the world now views child pornography as "normal" and where drug use and sexual tourism are on the rise. Okay, so tell me pope, how many of your paedophile priests took hedonist cruises or were regular drug users prior to their sins? And can you go find me a non-paedophile who views child pornography as "normal"?  The only remotely "normal" thing about the behaviour of these priests is that their behaviour is likely somewhat "normal" for someone who has been indoctrinated into the sexually repressive regime of the priesthood. You are a criminal Ratzinger. You are no better than the "dirty old man" on the local news. If you weren't the world's most prolific shepherd with an elephantine herd of dazed and confused disciples, you would actually be held accountable for your disgusting behaviour. There are very few times where I hope I am wrong about the non-existent afterlife. This is one of them because I know where you would land you pig.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Belief or Illness.....or both?

I have to admit...I find myself wishing bad things on these people.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Of Atom Bombs, Pin Pricks, and Doing Good

It's good to be back. I apologize to anyone who has shown up to the pub over the last month only to find it "closed". I also thank you for making a return visit. Where have I been? To be honest, I have spent the last month in the haze of an anxiety attack. Yep, anxiety is my chronic condition and the last month has been a nightmare. The good news is that 2011 appears to have ushered in a renewed state of reality and calm (at least some more prolonged periods) and I am energized to get back to contributing to the cause of reason, logic, and rational thought (oddly enough, three concepts that I lost sight of personally over the last month).

So what does this all have to do with today's post? Well, I last left you with a hint towards my next rambling: should the atheist movement take an atom bomb or pin prick approach to spreading its word? What's the difference? The atom bomb approach is akin to "The New Atheism" and is an all-out war on all religion aimed at disproving and eliminating all theistic and supernatural belief. A great example of this approach is Richard Dawkins' film, The Root of All Evil . When I say "pin prick" I am referring to an approach that is not  any more tolerant of theistic beliefs but much gentler in its approach to opening the eyes of those believers who are ignoring their own skepticism and disbelief.  My first use of the phrase "atom bombs versus pin pricks" was in response to a post by "Godless Girl" ( Her argument was that atheism is just not a big deal. It simply means that you believe in one less deity than a religious person. I commented that there is place for both the "atom bombs"  and "pin pricks": atom bombs on a macro level, fighting the systemic permeation of religion into our social and political institutions by making atheism a "big deal"; and pin pricks, on a micro level like Godless Girl's blog, spreading the uneventful, normalness of atheism.

So what does this have to do with my recent journey through the abyss of anxiety? Well at some of my lowest points I thought of people who are faced with personal struggles, whether it be poor health, loss, or poverty and how it is natural to look for something positive to grasp onto. I was feeling it at several points. I could see how, when presented with the support of organized religion and the concept of "god", people in the darkest of low points feel compelled to believe and be a part of a greater existence. The concept of community and supernatural saviour that comes with committing to religion is understandably attractive to someone looking to be propelled out of any type of suffering.

The atheist community has an opportunity to reach out to those who are looking to be lifted out of a personal mire. While we cannot offer a supernatural fix I believe we can offer something better. A fix based on the power of the collective human good. A fix that explores the capabilities of our own mind and personal strength. A practical fix that relies on that which already exists within a person rather than that which hypothetically exists "somewhere out there". All of this with the same sense of community that organized religion has perfected.

For too long atheism has carried a negative connotation, and while the noble (and necessary) efforts of Mr. Dawkins, Mr. Hitchens, and the like will surely continue to be misinterpreted by those afraid of the possibility of their truth, local atheist organizations  have an opportunity to create positive "pin prick" communities, reaching out to those in need while spreading the message of logic, rational thought, and reason. For every bus sign declaring there is no god we should post another sign advertising our local soup kitchen. For every humanist meeting aimed at debating morality without god there should be another proving that morality through charitable activities. For atheism to lay the roots we so desperately need it to, it must begin to focus equally on what does exist in this world: atheists who care about their communities.