Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Give Me Your Links!

Yes, that's right, I want your links. I am compiling a couple of lists of atheist blogs and websites (free backlink, folks) to post on two or more Squidoo pages which will be permanent additions to Squidoo.

There's a slight catch, though. Squidoo is G rated. So basically I don't want any links to sites which contain adult content or excessive profanity. I link to That Atheist Bitch but I have to call it "That Atheist (Censored)" over there to keep my G rating.

If you have or frequent any wonderful atheist or atheist friendly sites or blogs please drop a link or links here in the comments. Those which have sufficient appropriate content will be linked to on one or more pages.

If you aren't familiar with Squidoo, here is an example of what Squidoo pages look like: An Atheist View. If your link is appropriate and a good fit, it may even end up on that particular page as well as on one of the list pages. That particular page usually stays in the top 2,000 of over a million pages so it gets some decent views, sometimes spiking with much more than decent views. The pages I'm proposing to create will probably stay in the top 10,000 out of over a million pages as that is how most of my other atheist themed pages do on Squidoo. They still get decent views, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An Atheist on Christmas

Thanksgiving is over though the leftovers are not. The retail world switched to Christmas last month. So now is the time to turn our thoughts to the end of the year. Whether we talk about it or not, each "out" atheist is bound to hear a few snide words about Christmas. So here is my page on Christmas and a few snide words of my own: An Atheist on Christmas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yep, I'm a Soulless Autistic Atheist

Earlier this year I was in a discussion about autistic people who are atheists. One person was saying that autistic people, no matter how high functioning, are too mentally retarded to "get" deep concepts like God. But another proposed the idea that autistic people, in general, have no souls. Several others jumped on the bandwagon.

I don't believe in souls but I didn't like the way the discussion was going. The statement that they don't think autistic people have souls is dehumanizing because the yahoos saying it do believe in souls. I was horrified to learn people I thought of as friends would believe such a thing, that some human beings are less human than they are. Of course, I "unfriended" those folks.

Why am I writing about this now if it happened earlier this year? Someone else mentioned something similar today so I thought I should record the phenomenon. Has anyone else heard of this or something similar?

I have bumped into quite a few atheists who are on the autism spectrum and I think it is possible that autistic people are slightly more likely to be atheists than people in the general population. But I have as theory as to why that might be. I think most autistic people live in a fact based world and are either unwilling or unable to play along with the pretend game that is religion.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An Atheist View could use a boost

An Atheist View is one of my Squidoo pages on atheism. It has some new material added and it needs boost. It used to have a spot on Squidoo's homepage but its views have been dropping. So, if you have a moment, please stop by An Atheist View to help restore it to its place of pride on Squidoo's front page. While you are there, you may want to take a peek at some of the newer atheist relevant pages that I and others have put up there.

Thanks a ton, folks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell - Why are we coddling bigots?

Some people voluntarily decide to go out and risk having to kill someone or get killed themselves by joining the armed services. They risk their physical and mental health for something they believe in, our country. Due to these brave volunteers, America has not seen a draft since 1973. We owe them a lot.

So why do we care who they love or what bits get them aroused? What difference could a person's sexual orientation make in his or her ability to serve as a soldier? Not only that, but gays and lesbians are already serving and already have served in our military with distinction. DADT is a blight on our nation's honor.

A mere mention of a husband, wife, or partner can get a gay person discharged from service. A Facebook mention by the husband, wife, or partner of someone serving in the military can get that soldier discharged. So today, Veterans Day, the loved ones of soldiers serving in harm's way dare not post their messages of support or prayers for safety online for fear of getting that loved one booted out of the service he or she has chosen.

People against repealing DADT tend to focus on sex acts and seem to enjoy talking about them in great detail. But sexual orientation isn't just about sex, it's also about who we fall in love with. Centuries of love stories tell us that we can't flip our emotions on or off with a switch and we can't choose who we fall in love with.

The folks opposing the repeal of DADT are fantasizing about gays running amok and raping hetero soldiers while the rest of us have different images in our minds, perhaps of a man embracing his partner who is going off to war or a woman, child in tow, eagerly watching for her wife and her child's mommy to come out of the gate at the airport. Now which of those things seem perverted? The perversion exists in the minds of the bigots.

I repeat myself - there are already gays and lesbians in the military and they are doing nothing at all bad. DADT is asking them to be isolated and in the closet, as if their personhood and service and sacrifices are meaningless. We'd never think of telling a soldier he can't talk about his wife but some folks, for some perverse reason, think that a soldier ought to never mention his husband.

Folks who oppose repealing DADT also love to quote the Bible to underline their perceived superiority when, in fact, many Christians have no opposition to gays in the military or anywhere else.

Most of the people troubled by the idea of repealing DADT are bigots, bigots with a bunch of perverted ideas. So puzzle me this - why are we coddling bigots?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Does God Work People Like Puppets To Make Them Do Good?

I write about my experiences with homelessness on Squidoo. On one page I bit back the pain and horror of the experience and wrote about how an amazingly brave and compassionate homeless man rescued me after I was raped and assaulted. Someone chose to use this knowledge to come to my main page on atheism and to use it to evangelize. I see this as evangelism because the comment did not appear on the page with the story about this amazing man, but on an unrelated page of mine about atheism. The person brushed off the actual man's role in saving me and brushed off his very existence, dehumanizing him, by saying he was an angel from God. He wasn't. Justus was a man, a human being who risked his freedom to bring a bleeding delirious girl to the hospital.

I think it is dehumanizing to give God credit for everything good people do and to, on the flip side, give all credit for any bad things people do to the people who did them. It's a statement asserting that humans can never do good, only evil. It demeans the sacrifice, compassion and humanity of people who choose to do good things.

I think that humans are responsible for both good and bad. I don't think that God controls people like puppets to make them do good. I suspect that even if I thought God were real, I wouldn't believe humans were not capable of good on their own. Why would they be worth saving if they weren't? Why would something that is only evil unless possessed by God something worthy of saving or even allowing to live?


Monday, November 1, 2010

An Atheist on Thanksgiving

Many people make the claim that Thanksgiving is strictly a Christian holiday and that non-Christians ought not to celebrate it. Others claim to feel sorry for atheists at Thanksgiving, based on the belief that atheists have no one to be thankful to and the belief that atheists are too self-centered to be thankful for anything.

I'm an atheist and I believe that Thanksgiving is a holiday for everyone who has something to be thankful for.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Atheist Polls

If you have a moment, please stop by my new page on Squidoo which is a collection of polls about atheists and atheism.

If you have any ideas for other poll questions, please post them here as I'd love your input. Please keep in mind that this page is not intended to be a study but was merely created as a conversation starter and to draw attention to some of the things people believe about atheists and atheism.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yes to Free Market Economy , No to Personal Freedom

I read several articles and blog posts dealing with the "unfairness" of regulating businesses today. It seems conservative businessmen are upset that they have to pay out a minimum wage, pass safety inspections, not hire children without regulation, apply for building permits, build according to city ordinances, and pay taxes, any taxes at all. They would like to do away with the FDA, the USDA and OSHA. In short, it looks like they are against any and all rules or laws pertaining to businesses.

So, if the conservative folks are against rules, regulations, and laws pertaining to the freedom to act of businesses, then why are they so fervently supportive of laws against personal freedom and actions?

If they want things many consider immoral, such as the repeal of child labor laws and the repeal of the minimum wage then why are they so hot to make illegal or get rid of things they consider immoral such as science-based sex education and equal marriage?

It looks like they don't want freedom for all. It looks to me like they want freedom for themselves and the freedom to control what everyone else does.

And after they make themselves clear about wanting to control what individuals do, they have the chutzpah to whine that businesses aren't given free reign?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Elections and Cusps

I think that, in November of 2008, we stood upon a cusp. If the presidential election had gone differently I feel that even keeping a blog such as this (non-Christian, pro-science, pro free speech, liberal) would have become illegal within the next ten years or at least legal grounds for job discrimination.

We were saved by the fact that Sarah Palin is such an extremist that the majority of Christians, even those who would support a more theocratic government, couldn't support her in good conscience. I know more than one staunch Republican who voted against her, preferring a Democrat to a regime led by extremists. I speak of Sarah Palin because she spoke her mind on so many issues that her stance was crystal clear. We don't really know that McCain wasn't of the exact same thoughts on the same issues because he kept such opinions close to himself.

We were saved from a decline into fewer freedoms and a move towards theocracy - temporarily. It's not done, it's not gone. People are forgetting the last Bush years already and people are forgetting the Palinesque extremism already. They are seeing the recession which had its genesis even before George W's presidency and blaming it on the current administration. They don't think long term, they think that if the recession could be fixed or recovered from ever any president that hasn't fixed it yet is a bad president - even though the mess was almost twenty years in the making.

I don't think the danger of a theocratic push for power is over. There are more vocal religious extremists in America than at any other time in my life. And they are not treated as fringe elements, they are verging on mainstream. So we aren't safe yet.

So my advice is to remember that we aren't safe yet and may never be so enjoy to the fullest your powers of free speech and religious freedom while you have them. And don't become complacent - get out and vote in your local and state elections when the time rolls around again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Random Thoughts on the Bible as A Reason to Object to Same Sex Marriage

It never fails to amuse me that people bring up the Bible in defense of discrimination against adult consensual relationships and then equate same sex adult consensual relationships with pedophilia and polygamy. I find this so amusing and also ironic because the Bible speaks of and condones both pedophilia and polygamy with many of its primary characters practicing one or both. Perhaps the technical term for what is frequently practiced in the Bible, even by God, is hebephilia. Please recall that the Virgin Mary was a child by today’s standards, a child who really had no option to say no to her impregnation.

I don’t follow the word of the Bible which condemns homosexuality, the eating of shellfish, and the mixing of fibers in a fabric while condoning hebephilia, genocide, and slavery. I’m simply thunderstruck that such a book could be used as a moral absolute for anyone.

Shouldn’t we instead use the yardstick of compassion and harm? If something is the compassionate path and does no harm, how can it be wrong?

As a victim of sexual abuse I am outraged that anyone DARE equate to pedophilia something as beautiful and nurturing as a loving relationship between adults. There is NO love in pedophilia. I’m outraged that a person or a society would treat loving adult partners as equivalent to life-wrecking pedophiles. They discriminate against and demonize innocent, decent human beings.

Of all things in this world love is a thing we need to nurture and support rather than attack. I suspect one day, our children will look back and be sickened by our actions as we are sickened by miscegenation laws and segregation. I know I’m standing on the side of love and compassion, the side of no harm, so I have no fear of the future’s judgment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ponderings About The Quiverfull Movement

Many Americans are riveted by the story of the Duggars and their nineteen children. Even with the serious difficulties involved in the birth of their 19th child they are praying to have another child. The Duggars are part of a fundamentalist religious movement called Quiverfull, or QF for short. Quiverfull is a movement to have as many children as possible so they can be raised up in the religion to serve as soldiers for the Lord.

I think it's a pretty kooky thing to do - to have as many children as you can until the mother either dies or can have no more. I think that each child ought to be treated as a gift - for real. It doesn't make a gift more valuable to bury it amidst a dozen newer gifts. I think each child deserves to be cherished as an individual, not raised in rigid conformity to be part of a movement without preparation for any other life.

What I find odd is that many mainstream Christians support people who are QF activists. They claim that as long as the children are not filthy or starving or being beaten a person has the right to have as many children as they can make their body produce before dying. They praise the Duggars and those like the Duggars and comment on how wonderful the children are and how clean and well mannered. In the same breath they condemn people with children who are on Welfare. It seems only certain people should have a lot of children.

They'll argue that while millions suffer and die due to overpopulation the Quiverfull people aren't a problem because their children aren't starving, brown children in poor nations are. You get the idea that there could never be too many Duggars in their eyes, that even if the whole world were suffering from starvation and choking on human waste the Duggars and other Quiverfull families still ought to have even more children.

There's this idea that the poorly educated broods being birthed and homeschooled by these folks are superior to the rest of humanity. Yes, the kids are polite but what will happen to any of the young ladies in the family if they choose to do something else with their lives? What if one of them wants to be a doctor? She's not allowed to go to college, even if she ran away her schooling wouldn't qualify her to get into college. The poorest of the poor in our country get a better education. So the girls' only choice in life is to continue in the fundamentalist religious group, to bear children unto her death or to escape from that fate and try to claw her way up in life without any tools.

But I also get this feeling, that if the world were overcrowded so badly that the Quiverfull Movement folks could see it, so that they were actively rather than passively competing for resources - I have the feeling that they'd keep having kids and make their children literal soldiers to make room for more of them. What do you think?

Currently in the news - 12 out of 19 Duggar kids have chicken pox. If they are all precious gifts from God then why the heck aren't they current on their vaccinations?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Don't Believe in Miracles

I've always figure that was a "gimme" so to speak, simply because I'm an atheist. With nowhere for miracles to come from, why would I believe in them? But some people are surprised and saddened to discover that I don't believe in miracles.

I believe that there are so many people doing so many things that something unusual is bound to happen to some people some times.

People have told me it's a miracle I didn't die on the streets, particularly after I was beaten into a coma, survived and got somewhat better and went back onto the street straight out of the hospital. Many people don't survive. Where are their miracles?

There are no miracles, just things that are rare pleasant surprises in the midst of awful possibilities.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Save Our Sam, Brother Sam Singleton Needs Your Help

Roger Scott Jackson, alter ego of comedian/atheist evangelist Brother Sam Singleton needs your help. His wife, Cari, has been in a terrible accident and is currently in the ICU. Because Cari is in the hospital, Roger is currently unable to tour and earn money.

I know about hospital bills and I'll tell you now, even if a person has the best available insurance that person will still end up with a boatload of medical bills. In fact, excessive medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in America, even among insured individuals. So if you are able, please help out Roger and Cari with a donation or by buying some merchandise from his site.

Unfortunately, I'm barely getting by myself so all I could do is put up his information and hope that someone will act on it. If you can't afford to help with a donation, you can get the code for a Save Our Sam button from episode 031 of Atheist News Podcast and post it on your own blog or website.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time Keeps on Slippin'

Wow, we're just hours away from July! I can't believe how fast things have been going. I haven't posted on here since April?!?

Well, I'm still an atheist and still thinking freely but I've been both busy and sick. And maybe the fact that I'm writing an atheist book has sapped away all of my clever little atheist thoughts.

I promise I will be better in July.

Friday, April 30, 2010

My Answers to a Question People Often Ask Me About Atheism and Homelessness

People often attempt to connect and correlate my periods of homelessness and ill health with my atheism. But I don't think that being an atheist made me homeless and I know being homeless didn't make me an atheist. Since people so often bring this idea up to me, I decided to create an answer I can direct each new person who asks the question to.

Some religious people have told me that not thinking God is real caused all of my (well-deserved in their opinion) suffering. I believe that my difficulties were not a punishment from a God - since I don't think God is real, how could I think that? Many people who are devout believers have even worse lives than mine so that logic doesn't hold up. Additionally, if I analyze what happened in my life, I can pretty well see why things happened the way they did.

As an atheist, I believe that autism is a real thing. I ascribe to no ideology that causes me to reject the existence of learning disabilities and emotional problems as real. Having been diagnosed with autism, I tend to believe I am autistic. There is a known connection between inability to perform in social interactions and autism. In fact, that's almost the definition of autism. My autism was not properly treated when I was a child and, like almost every other autistic who receives no special assistance, when left completely on my own I experienced difficulties. I was a stranger in a strange land. I had no familial support and had formed only the most inadequate of friend support structures in school.

When this left me homeless, I was the perfect victim for predators. I was incredibly naive and socially inept. I had no "common sense" to keep me from dangerous situations. I reacted to harmful stimuli (beatings, rapes, and other frightening encounters) by withdrawing into myself instead of reaching for help as most people do. That entrenched me more deeply into homelessness - a shell-shocked autistic isn't the best at navigating the hard road out of homelessness.

So that's what I think was the reason I was homeless.

As to whether or not being homeless and suffering assaults and ill-health made me an atheist - that question is much easier to answer. I've never thought God was real so becoming homeless and getting assaulted, hurt, and sick didn't impact my absence of belief. In fact, being homeless and unwanted made me want to believe. Unfortunately, I am not able to believe in anything I don't think is real.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Big Flaw in the "Everything Has a Creator" Argument

It's a common argument used against both evolution and the Big Bang Theory - that everything must have an intelligent creator. It is also argued that no thing can come from nothing so God made it all. This is all presented as logic.

Evolution is a theory as to how speciation occurs. It puts forth no speculation on either the origin of life or the origin of the universe. The theory of evolution only describes change based on evidence found in the natural world. Although the argument is often used that evolution couldn't cause the origin of the universe, I won't bother to rebut it because the two are unrelated and evolutionary theory doesn't even speculate on the origin of the universe.

The Big Bang Theory is a good hypothesis as to how the universe reached its current state. It is based on observations of the physical universe and the laws of nature as observed by man.

But the argument put forth against both theories is that absolutely everything must have an intelligent creator. The problem with this broad statement is that those who state that everything must have a creator will not answer the question of "Who or what created God?" without countering their own statement that everything must have a creator. So either God was created and their logic is consistent or God was not created and their logic is not consistent.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Without God, How Can an Atheist Feel Love?

Some religious people believe that love and other emotions are part of humanity's divine nature, an aspect of being made in God's image. Because of this, as an atheist, I've been asked where, if God does not exist,
emotions come from. I have been asked "How can an atheist feel love?"

I think that emotions are part of our biological, chemical, and psychological make-up. There is ample evidence that animals also possess emotions of similar sorts to our own. There is also ample evidence that hormonal and chemical changes to the body produce emotional effects even if the subject is unaware of them. In menopause, pregnancy and during the menstrual cycle fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone affect womens' emotions. A deficiency of testosterone can not only reduce a man's sex drive, it can make him depressed and lacking in motivation. Physical stimulation or damage to the brain produces and affects emotions. Closed head injuries can cause depression and irritability - they can also change personality and alter emotional attachments.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hate Speech Comments - Almost Always Anonymous

Have you noticed that when someone threatens your life, safety, or property or writes a comment amounting to hate speech on your atheist blog or article, they usually do so anonymously? Their name seldom links back to anything.

So, if atheists are evil liars that are destroying society and deserve to die then why are people afraid to say it using a recognizable online identity? If these people are not ashamed of their bigotry on some level, why are they staying anonymous? You'd think if they were proud of being bigots, they'd want everyone to know.

What are they afraid of? Do they think hate speech directed at atheists will harm their chances of getting a job? Are they worried about what people will think of them if they are somehow connected to their online bigotry? Are they concerned that legal consequences to their hate speech and threats will catch up to them?

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Atheist Charity Feature - Atheist Centre of India

Atheist Centre of India supports intercaste marriages and actively works to end child marriages and caste separation. The also provide aid to women in distress such as single mothers and prostitutes and promote equality of the sexes. Their education campaigns are designed to fight dangerous superstitions and practices such as witch hunts which can result in harm to innocent people.

Atheist Centre provides many services such as a Working Women's Hostel and a home for women with social problems. One of their programs, Vasavya Centre for Social Development, provides outreach services for more than 50 villages. The outreach program includes education, health care, advanced medical care including eye banks and corneal transplants, social programs, training for women, counseling and career guidance, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, sanitation facilities, drinking water facilities, sex education and contraception education, youth programs, and crèches for children along with many other humanitarian services.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Atheist Charity Feature - Kiva Lending Team: Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious

Kiva Lending Team: Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious has provided $1,630,400.00 in loans to small business owners in the developing world at the time of this writing. They have helped 44145 business owners since the group formed in August of 2008.

They are a Kiva Lending Team, a group which provides small loans to people seeking to reach economic independence and to improve living conditions for their families and communities.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Atheist Charity Feature - Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort

photo by Funch, SXC

Now providing funds for medical care in Haiti

Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort (S.H.A.R.E.) provides general humanitarian aid, food assistance, and medical relief to disaster and accident victims. They have provided aid to Sri Lankan tsunami victims, hurricane Katrina survivors, families displaced by California wildfires and Tennessee tornadoes, and many others.

Currently, SHARE is turning all of its attention to aiding Haitian earthquake victims. You can donate to the Haiti Quake Relief through this link. 100% of your donation, with no administrative fees retained, will go to Doctors Without Borders operating in Haiti.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Atheist Charity Feature - EARTHWARD, Inc.

Earth's Atheist Resistance To Holy Wars And Religious Devastation or EARTHWARD provides humanitarian aid to victims of religiously motivated violence. EARTHWARD provides aid suited to the victims usually in the form of food, clean drinking water, temporary shelters and medical aid.

Their mission is to help victims of religiously motivated crimes and violence whether committed by governments, individual terrorists, or organizations that claim religious justification for their crimes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bible Found in Home Linked to Fire

Actually, no, the title of the article out there right now is "Atheist Book Found in Home Linked to Fire" in regard to the January arson of a Texas church. Other items found at the home included a book about demonic possession, guns, knives and a GPS.

I'm not sure how books or a GPS can be considered incriminating, really.

The atheist book makes headlines? Why not the demon book? Why any books at all?

There's allegedly something to do with an inverted cross in this case - so why focus on the atheist book when inverted crosses are traditionally a Satanic thing?

You know this is going to be made into a huge deal about all atheists being immoral.

So why is this any different than a Bible being found in a murderer's home?

Spiritual Experiences are Just Emotions

Spiritual experiences are something people talk about as if they are unique to the religious experience rather than to the human experience. Wait - let me explain before you say, "That Atheist Bitch has gone all woo on us!" Most human beings have what the religious call spiritual experiences - we just don't think of them that way.

Spiritual experiences are just intense emotional experiences. Most atheists and many religious folks (of the not blinded by their beliefs and taking everything literally kind) recognize that those experiences are biological/psychological in nature. Emotional situations give us a particular sort of high which those so inclined interpret as supernatural phenomena. In fact, there's nothing supernatural about them.

A bit of electromagnetism hovered over the right part of the brain, a few puffs of cannabis smoke, or a temporal lobe seizure can produce the same effect.

I'm not sure why people are so apt to attribute emotions to supernatural sources when physical things affect them so intensely.

If they think emotions come from the supernatural, then why don't they pray instead of taking Pamprin for their PMS?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Atheist Charity Feature - International Humanist and Ethical Union

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is a union which includes more than a hundred atheist, secular and freethought organizations from 40 different countries around the world. IEHU fights for freedom of expression, human rights, and separation of church and state. They support the victims of religious persecution and superstition. IHEU fights to end untouchability - caste systems which place people in abject poverty with no hope of escape due to accident of birth.

IHEU is very active in trying to help people convicted of religious "crimes" (homosexuality, women wearing trousers, loss of virginity, witchcraft, or similar accusations) from imprisonment, torture, and execution.

image by Billy Alexander

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Atheist Charity Feature - Foundation Beyond Belief

Foundation Beyond Belief is a brand new atheist charity which launched January 1, 2010. Each quarter, Foundation Beyond Belief will feature ten charitable organizations, one each in the categories of animal protection, child welfare, education, environment, health, human rights, Foundation Beyond Belief itself, peace, poverty, and The Big Bang Fund - a small charity with a big impact. Members can choose which cause or causes to support from the featured causes.

If you haven't checked out this wonderful new secular charity program, give it a look now. It seems well focused and supports such a variety of causes there's bound to be something there you can get behind.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Don't People Understand This??? How Do You Explain?

I don't know how many times I've tried to explain why atheists care about religion but no matter how I do it, people just don't get it. They take it as an attack or some kind of persecution.

I tried (again) to explain why atheists talk about or stick our noses into religion (as they put it) even though we don't believe in God. I don't even feel like I'm writing English.

The comments are the interesting (read: frustrating) thing about one of my latest attempts at explaining why atheists are concerned about other people's belief in God. I don't know what editorial that one commenter read but I don't think it's something I wrote. If you are so inclined, scroll down that page and read the comments (the ones I didn't write in response) and tell me what you think.

But whether or not you read that or not, I'd be interested in how you explain why atheists care about religion.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Obama Uses the Word Agnostic and People Flip Out

OK, so, today President Obama used the word agnostic to describe his thoughts on raising taxes for people making less than a quarter million a year. All over the Internet and presumably elsewhere, people are flipping out over it.

He's referring to being politically agnostic not agnostic in regard to God!

So what if he were, though? What if Barack Obama were to admit to being an agnostic about the existence of God? Would people push to get him impeached or what? I know that all hell would break loose, but what do you think would happen?

An Atheist Exclusive Club?

A while back, I was asked the question
- "I perceive atheists act (behavior wise) like religious people, in the sense they belong to something. And it feels somehow exclusive. Now, tell me objectively, have you noticed that?"

It may be the area of the country I live in but, until recently, I never even met a person who I knew was an atheist outside of my own family. When you might go a lifetime without meeting someone in person who admits they are an atheist, it's kind of hard to feel a sense of atheist community.

I'll admit that I was excited to meet him because it's really nice to be able to talk openly and not have to navigate a conversation laden with religious references that one must pretend to also believe to avoid offending anyone. But I get that kind of conversation with my liberal, non-atheist friends, too.

All atheists really have in common is their absence of belief in God. Beyond that, there's not too much held in common. Most atheists are upset by religious laws, religion based discrimination, and religious practices that infringe on human rights but then again most non-atheists are, too.

What I see among online atheists (the only type I interact with regularly) is more a type of understanding of certain situations atheists in America encounter rather than a sense of community. When I relate my experiences with anti-atheist bigotry to my liberal religious friends they express shock and sometimes disbelief but most other atheists I've conversed with have had similar experiences. They can relate to the problems of biting your tongue to keep your job or having friends or family disown you if you are "outed" as atheists. They can relate to the vandalism and the death threats, especially atheist writers. Even if they've never had the specific action performed against them, generally they've experienced something in the same spirit.

While this might not create a sense of community it does tend to inspire activism. When I see a negative behavior among people as just my own experience, I tend to just take the indignity or abuse without raising a fuss. But when I see that the behavior isn't against just me, and is deemed acceptable to my society, it outrages me. I think that is the something some atheists do belong to - a desire for positive change inspired by shared negative experience. But it is by no means exclusive.

You don't have to be an atheist to be part of it. Just speak out against unjust religious legislation - anti-gay laws and anti-science education laws (religiously motivated legislation to alter the teaching of evolution, geology, history, and/or environmental sciences in public schools) that are all in the legislative process right now. Speak out against religious discrimination against non-Christians in the workplace. Object when people slander homosexuals. Protest religiously motivated discriminatory child custody practices. Protest the medical and educational neglect of children. Any of these will make you a part of it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This is Irrelevant to Modern America, Right?

Seven States' Constitutions forbid atheists from holding public office or testifying in court. They are overruled by the US Constitution so this should not be relevant in today's society, right?

Apparently it isn't completely irrelevant. You've all probably heard about the fiasco in North Carolina where conservatives are threatening to sue over the election of an atheist to city council.

That's an isolated incident, right? 99.99% of Americans would not interfere with such an election, right?

Probably wrong. I put up a few polls recently and while response hasn't been huge, I've gotten enough votes already to show that some 21st century people would agree with those North Carolina conservatives and prevent atheists from holding office or testifying in court.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Religion Taboo Interfering With Addressing a Social Problem

Many of you may know that I am somewhat of a homelessness activist. Over the years I have worked in shelters, soup kitchens, and literacy programs. I have taken homeless people into my home.

Lately, in trying to build empathy toward homeless people I've been writing some pretty frank pieces about what being homeless is like. I've pulled from my own experiences as well as my interactions with other people who are or have been homeless. I've dug into some pretty painful areas to give humanity and a face to homeless people, to show the reality and humanity of people simply in a bad spot.

But there's an aspect that I feel I'm not so free to write about. I touched on it briefly and altogether too lightly in Some Reasons People Become Homeless, but not in any depth and not with any real power. I'm a bit afraid to probe this aspect because I know that people will be cruel to me about it. Even as shallowly as I've touched on this aspect of the homelessness problem, I've already gotten some nasty mail. I know it's going to be painful but it's like a sore tooth I just can't stop fiddling with.

The taboo topic is the relationship of religious belief to homelessness in teens and young adults. If you doubt that there is one, consider this - as many as 42% of homeless teens and young adults are homosexual as compared to less than 5% of the general population. According to one study 26% of homosexual teens who come out to their parents are asked to leave the home.

You can read more about this phenomenon in An Epidemic of Homelessness.

If parents are not discarding their glbtq teens for religious beliefs then why are they?

Religious beliefs aside from religiously derived homophobia also impact teen homelessness. I only have anecdotal evidence for other religiously motivated discarding of teens so far, consisting of stories told to me by homeless teens and young adults. I recall a teenage boy of middle eastern descent who confided that he had become homeless because he'd decided to explore the Christian faith. He was completely blindsided by their decision to evict him from their home because he'd thought they were pretty laid back and reasonable. Other teens I met held Pagan beliefs counter to their Christian parents' beliefs which resulted in their homelessness. I also know of one case where suspected (but not actual) premarital sex resulted in a teen's expulsion from the home.

As you probably guessed I'm winding myself up to write something about this topic, something that will catch a lot of flack and abuse. I am well aware that sometimes I'm more thin-skinned than I ought to be so I'm just dipping my toes into sharkless water until I have all my studies and ducks in a row to stand up to full on attacks.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Illness is Not a Punishment from God

A few online "friends" recently decided to get together and hold a sort of email/pm intervention about my illnesses. It's been going on since just before Christmas. The general gist of it is this - they sent me messages blaming me for being sick and accused me of doing nothing about it because I haven't asked Jesus to heal me. They said that God made me sick to force my hand because obviously, being in pain would make me turn to Him. It was followed up by accusations that I'm "avoiding God to stay sick" because I like not having to work.

First of all religious people of all stripes get lupus. So, belief in Jesus does not cure lupus. I left a lupus support group because of the number of times people suggested I'd feel so much better if I'd just pray. People there kept telling me I should see my illness as an opportunity and as a gift from God. No thanks, I'd prefer a laptop, I thought the bugger was supposed to be all-knowing.

Secondly, if I were mentally warped enough to enjoy being as sick as I often am, that, in itself would be a serious mental illness. I'm bloody fucking miserable at times and just miserable at others. I often feel like my muscles are made of ground glass encased in plastic wrap. Yes, sometimes I enjoy myself and sometimes I can ignore and suppress the pain to great degree. But I was once an active person who delighted in all kinds of play like biking, tickle fights, and athletic sex.

Third, I want to get back to work. I just have a problem finding an employer that will tolerate occasional loss of consciousness on the job plus frequent rests and sick days. Yeah, not very damned likely. So, in the meantime, I spend about 6-12 hours per day searching for online gigs and writing things to sell. It doesn't compare to the enjoyment I got from being a florist.

But here's the cherry on top. Years back I was homeless and during that time some really awful stuff went down, PTSD bad and then some. One "friend" had the gall to tell me that I deserved all of the trauma I suffered, even as far back as childhood. She said God was punishing me then but He'd make it all better if I could "stop being so arrogant and ask for his healing."

Yeah, even if I thought it were real, that's not the kind of thing I would worship.

I am not suffering from a terminal lack of Jesus, my physical pain is not a gift. I don't deserve to be ill because I don't worship God.

So I'm now replying to all their emails and messages with a link to this blog post. I hope maybe they'll see how nasty they are being.