Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Check out Agnostic Mom when you get a chance. She's a fellow Arizona atheist/agnostic ex-mo, and a thoughtful writer.
[link] We should base our moral choices, not on arbitrary rules from an old book (a few that come to mind: don’t eat pork, don’t drink coffee, don’t flip the lights on the Sabbath, don’t expose your shoulders except when swimming); we should base our choices on whether they will cause others pain. To take it further, we should ask ourselves whether the action we want to take, if everyone were to take the same action in similar circumstances, would increase the overall happiness or the overall suffering in the world.
Editors Note: Here's part two. It was ready sooner than I thought! Be sure and read part one first.
Steve was at the front of the line.
Well, he thought, at least I didn't run into my mother. Smug wouldn't be the half of it. Hopefully she wouldn't run up and beg for mercy. Well, mercy was never big on her list.
He digested that thought. Great. Now they're going to say I was just mad at God.
Well, that wasn't it. He just assessed the evidence. But if there was a god and he created things to run like they did.and this sorry display of pettiness suggested this was the case. He was going to get a piece of Steve's, well, soul, I suppose.
Although that phrase seemed a bit gruesome when the supposed god in question was describing an upcoming event involving red-hot iron hooks to the fellow in front of him. The gentleman being disposed of was weeping as his sins and prospective tortures were outlined. And the effect was rather disconcerting, given that the he was about seven feet tall, huge, and dressed in full Viking regalia, including axe and Thor's Hammer around his neck.
I mean, this guy was expecting eternal combat, right? The hooks? When he was alive, he did that sort of thing to people three times a week. And he was staring into the light and weeping, not saying a word.
(Editor's Note: I found this wonderful story on the Normal Bob Smith Group mailing list and asked Steve if I could publish it on UTI. He agreed, and here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Part 2 will appear tomorrow.)
It was, in the end, damned embarrassing.
Particularly as it was, indeed, the end, and considering the likelihood of damnation.
One moment, Steve was driving along the freeway and the next moment, a large semi was crossing the line directly into his path. He had time to notice two things: the large Christ fish on the front and the fact that there was no driver.
That should have been it, shouldn't it? Bam-oblivion. That was what the evidence indicated.
So what was he doing here? This was going on far too long for a near-death experience. This was, it seemed, an after-death experience.
Well, he always said he was willing to consider proper evidence. On the other hand, he was well aware that this was anecdotal.
Nevertheless, an awful lot of people seemed to be involved in this particular anecdote.
That wasn't the worst part, though. It was the inefficiency that really bothered him.
Ray "The Banana" Comfort, who works with our good buddy Kirk "The Atheist Fighter" Cameron to produce videos showing the world what a couple of boobs they are, appeared on the Hellbound Allee Show...
...and conceded the "Banana Argument" to Allee! Wow! Great job, Allee!
[link] Hellbound Alleee : I'm just saying that, that there are very few plants, and we argue - with some environmentalists a lot who don't believe in bioengineered food, because all, because most of the food that we eat of course is farmed, and is done through horticulture, and we've engineered these - these fruits and vegetables to be more tasty to us. So actually, the banana seems to be not, not made by God at this point, it's more like um... what, what came first, the banana or the hand ? [laugh] You know ? Man took the banana and made it better for man...
Ray Comfort : Okay, you've got that one. You can have the banana.
Francois Tremblay : WE WIN ! WE WIN ! WE'VE WON THE BANANA !
An actor admitting to being an atheist? He is so screwed.
[link] 'Da Vinci Code' Star Is an Atheist
The Da Vinci Code star Paul Bettany no longer follows Catholicism, despite being brought up a believer in the faith. Bettany, who plays a member of the secretive Catholic sect Opus Dei in director Ron Howard's movie, admits he is now an "atheist."
Holy shit! Scare quotes! Because everyone knows that atheists don't really exist, right?
Youth minister David M. Boudreaux, of the Crescent Lake Christian Academy in Liberty, Missouri must be a secret EAC agent.
While engaged in a friendly, Christian game of dodgeball, one of his 16-year-old charges hit him with the ball. Which I thought was kind of the whole point of the game. Boudreaux, 27, got angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
The same teen, whanged him again, knocking his glasses off. So, what does this paragon of Christian virtue do?
He becomes enraged, of course - because apparently that's how adults who work with kids should react, according to Boudreaux's reaction. You know, with anger, and rage, and physical assault.
What an asshole.
The kid is scared, and tries to apologize to this suddenly-frightening adult man who is bearing down on him in an angry rage. First Boudreaux shoves him in the chest and forces him to fall to the ground and hit his head. Then, when the poor, scared kid tries to get up - the Christian "Youth Pastor" kicks him in the nuts.
Yup. Kicks him so hard in the nuts that he ends up in the hospital, pissing blood, with a concussion, and whiplash.
[link] The teen suffered whiplash and post-concussion syndrome and had blood in his urine after being kicked, according to court records.
Boudreaux later apologized, prosecutors said.
Jeanne D. Hewitt, administrator of Crescent Lake Christian Academy, said Boudreaux had been placed on administrative leave.
Oh. He apologized. Well, that makes it all better now, doesn't it? Apologies have been shown in scientific medical studies to cure blood in your urine, haven't they?
Boudreaux should be placed in jail. He's lucky that wasn't my kid or he'd be in the hospital himself.
In any case, to the 16-year-old victim in this story, come on over to atheism. We promise to never kick you in the nuts. In fact, that's a GREAT tagline for the EAC!
The EAC. We Promise To Never Kick You In The Nuts.
Oh, and you'll be free of a repressive, anti-thinking organization that encourages violence towards children. That too.
My worst nightmare made flesh. Rachel Bevilacqua lost custody of her son because she pokes fun at religions as a member of the Church Of The Sub-Genius satire performance group.
[link] Her ten-year-old son, Kohl lived with her and her husband in Georgia. Like she's done many times before, Bevilacqua put her son on a plane to New York to visit his father in Orleans County for Christmas. However, this time she didn't get him back.
"This is the longest we've ever been a part," she said.
Bevilacqua said her son's father filed for full custody during his visit and a judge granted it without contacting her. She flew to New York to fight the ruling, thinking it would be an easy fight since she's always had custody. However, Bevilacqua walked out of the Orleans County Court stripped of just about all of her parental rights. This after County Judge James Punch learned of her involvement in a satire performance group that pokes fun at religion, called the Church of the Sub-Genius. Court transcripts back up her claims.
"I've read through the transcripts a million times and he just said it's obvious that I shouldn't have my son. Obvious."
ACLU Director Barbara de Leeuw didn't want to comment on the specifics of the case, but she said there is not getting around the freedom of speech.
"It's a very challenging issue to think that somebody engaged in constitutionally protected activity that there are personal ramifications for it," she explained.
Bevilacqua believes Judge Punch used her to make a political statement.
"I'm a good mother and you can't play games with people's lives like this," she asserted."
Judge Punch refused our previous requests for comment on this case. And we learned he is currently out of town. Bevilacqua will be back in court next month, but in front of new judge. Judge Punch recused himself last week.
Four days ago, the Star-Telegram ran a very sympathetic story about atheists, mentioning among other things that atheists "simply want to go about their own lives without hassle or pressure" in connection with Newdow's lawsuits. Now the St. Petersburg Times has a similar but far more militant article, "Ex-Minister Walks Atheist Path." Paraphrasing the ex-minister in question, the article says:
"Public schools need to be secular because if they are used for religious brainwashing, we will never have a free society," he said. "If you look at any theocratic state throughout history, it was never a free and open society."
And with the recent Supreme Court nominations that have possibly tilted that judicial body to the right, Young said he is truly worried about what might come next. He predicts an end to abortion rights and the beginning of prayer in school.
In fact, from the executive branch all the way to local government, Young said, "we are becoming a theocratic fascist state - hate and bigotry in a society that is touted as being free and equal, when we are really not equal."
Well, if the Star-Telegram is correct, then there might be a light at the end of the tunnel in the US. It states that nontheists comprise 16% of the American population, which is symbolic because it's the approximate percentage of nontheists in the world.
On the other hand, neither article comes close to my ideal portrayal of atheism in the media. The first article would if it bagged its last paragraph, which deals with atheist morality and presents it fairly inaccurately. The second talks of the ex-minister's newfound zeal for atheism; in fact the quoted part above is a demonstration of his "fire and brimstone" (direct quote) rhetoric. But I'm a realist; between these articles and nothing, there's no question I'd rather see these articles.
Here's hoping for similar articles about atheism and atheists in more important and widely-read papers...
Susan Ager of the Detroit Free Press actually gives atheists a fair shake in her column today. Bravo.
[Link] I wrote a few weeks ago about a Barbara Walters' TV special that promised to tell us all how to get to heaven. Instead, those she interviewed shared conflicting directions. I wondered if those two hours might have been better spent featuring the 10% of Americans who don't believe in heaven.
"How do they survive challenges and unhappiness?" I wrote. "How do they face death?"
I got answers, lots of them.
I've been out on the beach.
The surf was flickering, phosphoresent (the Maori for that is poroporotitiwai). A Hector's dolphin surfaced briefly, just seen beyond the bar, in the growing moon.
It's a mild early summer midnight, my family are all well, I've drunk a bottle of Lindauer, and the air smells truly salt and good.
A large green cockchafer just whirred by. I've smoked groper roes, steamed kumara, and spinach from my mother's garden for my dinner (you'll gather I'm not an early riser!) and a sup of 15yrold Laphroaig for my night cap.
The night is quiet - a koukou calling intermittently, and the brown treefrogs, newly returned from near extinction, are lowkey practising-
the point of this?
Despite major family illness & personal pain - LIFE IS, and is mainly good. And, even when it's bad, it's still life-
-and I am an extremely lucky human. I am also deeply aware that I am - and how much anguish there is in the world.
Luck - just is: okay, tomorrow may come in with a tsunami, an earthquake (I live very close to a major fault-line) or whirlwinds may happen or I may drop dead- change is all, everything flows, I'm a human, grateful for sunlight and for the dark; loving water and walking on sand-
all this joy, all this accumulating knowledge, all these relationships-no point to it, just the happenstance of it, and the human appreciation of it happening
and no gods or religion or spirituality anywhere-
cheers! Kia ora tatou - from A Happy Atheist
I am a big fan of Reggie and Amber Finley. I think that Reggie is frightfully intelligent, and one of the best live debaters on the internet. I've been reading and nodding my head in agreement with his stuff for as long as I can remember. Amber is smart, beautiful, and an incredibly powerful example of just how cool atheists can be.
If you were a little uncomfortable watching the Finley/Stonerock episode of the television "reality" show Wife Swap, where Amber swapped places with a conservative evangelical Christian pastor's wife, like I was, and felt like something was off, like I did (I stared at the tv in a daze for five minutes after the show ended saying, "What the hell just happened there?"), then you need to read about what really happened.
[link] Now it's time to go to the Finley's house and get more acquainted with them. Amber is - gasp - not on the computer, but is goofing around with children who genuinely appear to be happy and having fun. Hmmm... Reggie's cut in and out between working the show and giving the camera crew an interview, while he superman-style speed changes back and forth between a shirt and a sweater a few times. Then we get a clip of Amber talking about the bumper sticker and people flipping them the bird, and suddenly it occurs to me that their sentences seem to be cut into pieces. Like, there should be more coming after that last word, but it's cut and edited to the next clip. It's just so sudden that it stands out to me. Besides, I know these stories, and I know there's a WHOLE lot more to them, and some of it is MUCH more relevant. Well, we wouldn't want these atheists to get too much sympathy, now would we? No, no... that would never do if we're going to CREATE drama here! Cut! Print! Next scene! Show her serving him! Yeah, that's it - make it look like he never lifts a finger! Great stuff!
DarkSyde's "Why I Am An Atheist" post garnered many responses. Some supportive - some not so supportive. I would like to take this opportunity to answer one of the commenters to that post. This person's comments are a fairly typical objection used by religious folks when atheists have the unmitigated gall to speak up for themselves and call the religionists on their BS. This started out as a response in the comments, but got long enough to become a post in it's own right.
[link] Why is it then that atheists spend so much time, like many of you, disapproving of God on any level (Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.)?
I think that this is a common misconception. Atheists, as a group, are extremely diverse in their beliefs, their wants, needs, and desires. The only thing we share is the absence of god-belief.
When you come to a blog run by an atheist, to a post where the topic is entitled Why I'm an Atheist, then complain about all the time spent by atheists in "disapproving" of your god, and other gods - then I think you're missing the point somewhat.
Let us imagine for a moment the outraged shrieks of the body politick if our revered Republican American presidents had said the following, instead of what they really said:
Ronald Reagan: "With gods, there is no virtue, because there's no reason. With gods, we're mired in the supernatural, that flat world that has us deny what the senses perceive. With gods, there is a coarsening of the society. And with gods, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under no gods, then we will be a nation gone under."
George H.W. Bush: "No, I don't know that Christians should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation, under no gods"
George W. Bush: "I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, with a relationship with the Lord."
George W. Bush: "I don't think Christianity is a religion. I would hope the military officials would take a second look at the decision they made."
Those poor Christians are so persecuted. David Limbaugh, have you read these!? I am outraged, outraged, I tell you!
This should be interesting.
A few questions. Who will god hire for his defense attorney? Attorney client privilege protects what is said between god and his attorney. Does that mean that anything god says to his attorney cannot be repeated? If so, it means a new revelation without a prophet! "God spoke to me but I can't tell you what he said."
The most famous prophet was a carpenter, The next one might be an attorney. Now that's a scary thought. But the attorney can't say anything. The Irony.
Who are the people touting Intelligent Design (ID)? People like Pat Robertson, and George Bush are just a few. What is the connection with these people? (Besides the facts that they are men and claim to be Christian.) Each one of them is a â€œpowerfulâ€ person. Power, from the American Heritage Dictionary: 4. The ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority. 5. A person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others.
The funny thing about powerful people is that they like the power. And in many cases they will do whatever is necessary to keep that power. If that means allying with Saddam Hussein or touting mythical nonsense, they will do it.
â€œGay Marriageâ€ was the nonsense used in 2004 to keep Bush in Power. By clever application of the phrase, Christianâ€™s emotions were manipulated for their vote. It was used to make Christians angry. Without gay marriage, a large percentage of the Christian voters might have stayed home or voted for the other guy. If not for the â€œgay marriageâ€ non-issue, we might be complaining about Kerry wind surfing off of Cape Cod instead of Bush â€œclearing brushâ€ in Crawford.
The strategy: pick a non-issue, turn it into a â€œissueâ€ for a large voting block, then, using that issue, tag the opponent as opposite you on that issue. Beat it to death right up to the election.
This was my answer to an interview question, posted in full (with non-religious questions) at Tales to Astonish.
Why did you give up on Religion/religion?
God told me to.
Just kidding! There is no God.
I gave up on religion because...well, I'd be lying if I said that I was ever a true believer in the first place. I was raised a catholic boy in a catholic town, and my whole family is catholic, and all my friends were catholic, and heck, even my priest was catholic. I went to Sunday school (CCD for those in the know) growing up, and made it all the way through being a fully confirmed catholic lad. And, throughout the entire thing, I really, really wanted to believe -- I mean that. I was taught that you had to believe, and I truly did my best, up until I started asking questions about my faith. I will go on record saying that I remember the people involved in my classes as some of the nicest, sweetest, most well-intentioned people I knew, so it wasn't that my experience there was hard, or trying, or negative in any way. It was a really good experience, and I enjoyed most of it. There was a problem, though...
[link] The God of the Crusaders sent them to kill Muslims. The God of the Catholics had them kill scientists. The God of the Puritans told them to kill witches. The Hindu god is OK with killing cow-tippers. The God of the evangelists tells them to kill pro-choicers. The God of the Islamists wants them to kill just about everybody else.
Pity, then, the poor atheist. With no god to tell him whom to kill, he can only practice peace on earth, good will toward men.
Copyright Â© 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Cross posted at A Rational Being
A recent visitor to my post on Blind Faith pointed me to a rebuttal (to my and many other pieces). Naturally, I was curious so I looked. You can see it here. While I'm sure the author is a fine, upstanding member of society, I must point out some of his assertions that do not stand up to scrutiny.
From the first paragraph, the author states his premise,
Since the whole premise of the need for our â€˜eternal revolutionâ€™ is predicated upon the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, it is crucial that we have a strong rational basis to support its actual occurrence.
The author asserts that "it is crucial that we have a strong rational basis" to support the resurrection. I couldn't agree more. So what rational basis for belief in the resurrection do we have? I contend there are none.
What we do have are accounts of the resurrection.4 These accounts were, according to Bible scholars, written in the lifetime of the so called apostles but not by eye witnesses. (There were, to my knowledge, no eye witnesses of the actual resurrection.) The accounts of the resurrection were written well after the event. In short, a document written from the memory and stories of those who did not witnesses the actual event.
Delta over at Freethought Weekly has posted a great article explaining some of the pain and frustration that us atheists go through in conversations with our loved ones. I was especially moved by this part:
[link] I felt that I was torn between attacking something that I hate (religion) and protecting my mother. I wanted to explain why I was an atheist, and make her understand that I had good reasons to be one. But after every comment I was afraid that I would make her very sad, and I really didn't want to do that.
Wow, Delta. Thank you for articulating this. I've been there, my friend. It's extremely difficult to get through an emotionally charged conversation with a loved one about your atheism when they are coming from a religious point of view.
I remember talking to my own mother about my atheism, many years ago. It was a doubly bad situation because I was newly-divorced and had moved into my parent's home for a few weeks until I could save up enough to get another place. It was the weekend, the house was empty due to my parents being out of town, and I decided that it would be a good time to sample the 2-year-old bottle of homemade honey-mead that I had been saving for a special occasion, or a thought-crushing depression. Whichever came first.