Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

Jesus vs. Doctor Who

January 24, 2012

Heh. A kickass atheist, nerdy, Doctor-loving coworker forwarded this to me. It’s copyright 2007, so I’m assuming it’s made the rounds in the past, but I’ve never seen it and it made me lulz lots, so I thought I’d pass it on.

Seen at Unholy Office. Original material in two posts from Home on the Strange.

 

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Sean Faircloth: Attack of the Theocrats

January 17, 2012

Atheists Talk radio show is interviewing politician and church-state separation activist Sean Faircloth this upcoming Sunday, January  22nd. Starting in 2009 Sean Faircloth was the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition of America, and in 2011 he became the Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

I’m hosting Atheists Talk this weekend, so in preparation and interest I have started reading his newest book, Attack of the Theocrats, and watching videos of his speeches. I think I’m going to connect with his message that secular activists need to focus first on the real human harm that results from religious privilege, and not get lost in symbolic battles that  stoke theistic ire and strengthen resistance to secular activism.

From Attack of the Theocrats:

…the secular movement suffers from a noble flaw. Secular people tend to have an almost religious faith in statistics and dry arguments and abstractions as the proper method by which to carry the day. This has made it difficult to connect with the broader American public, particularly when many of our battles emphasize symbols – and not the numerous religious laws that harm real people.

Secular Americans remain a sleeping giant, a huge demographic that has thus far failed to flex its own muscle, much less galvanize the general population. We ignore people suffering under religious privilege while shaking our fist at a slapped-together manger with a plastic baby Jesus in the town square at Christmas time. While symbols are meaningful and these particular symbols on public grounds do violate Madison’s Constitution, Secular Americans must do better to reach all Americans. We must explain the human story – the human harm and the outright abuse of our tax dollars that result from religious privileging in law.

In the video below Mr. Faircloth outlines for the audience a few of the cases from Attack of the Theocrats, and lists his proposals for how secular activists can direct our efforts to focus on religious privilege that is enshrined in laws, and which are causing real human harm and waste of tax dollars.

Video first seen at RDF.

Upcoming Show: Atheists Talk with David Silverman

November 12, 2011

Imma be on the radio again tomorrow! I’m actually pretty excited to sit in on this interview; we’re speaking with David Silverman, the current president of American Atheists. He’s going to talk about the upcoming Reason Rally in Washington D.C., which is an event that the Hubby and I are considering attending next March. From the Reason Rally website:

The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it! It will be the largest secular event in world history. There will be music, comedy, great speakers, and lots of fun… and it’s free!

The three main goals of the rally are:

  • To encourage attendees (and those who can’t make it) to come out of the closet as an atheist, or at least a supporter of secular values.
  • To dispel stereotypes – there is no one “True Atheist” no matter what your pastor or parent may tell you. We will have non-theists from all political persuasions, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. We will show that there are atheists in every American demographic.
  • Legislative equality. We want to show the country that atheists can run for office and adequately represent theists, just as theists in office can represent atheists proudly and openly. We deserve a seat at the table just like theists, and we hope this rally can put our values in the radar of American voters, who may one day elect an atheist to public office.

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey estimates that 12% of Americans identify as atheist or agnostic. According to google.com/publicdata there are 307,006,550 people in the United States. 12% of that is 36.8 million people who identify as atheist/agnostic.

That number sounds large, but it still seems pretty lonely being a non-believer when I’m outside of the internet or my close circle of friends. I feel a bit sad when I hear coworkers talking so freely about going to church on Sunday or going to a Bible study this or that evening, while I hesitate to share the exciting news that I’m a radio show host! because the next comment is “Really? For what?” And then there’s that sinking feeling when I realize that I’ve just shared a secular viewpoint that is not appreciated by the majority of people in the conversation. Also, there are the often innocently asked but ultimately silly or annoying or frustrating or laughable or offensive questions revolving around my atheism. Like the question I received from someone at work when I told them that I had visited Asissi, Italy. They looked confused and asked “But why? You’re an atheist. What did you do there?” 

I know a handful of people who think that they don’t know any atheists (hah!). Heck, I spoken to atheists who think they’re the only atheist they know!

If we can get a large enough number of people to the Reason Rally, not only do we have a fun time at a secular event with other non-theists, but we show the world that there are more of us around than they may think. We show them that people they know are atheists. We show them that we’re happy, healthy and not afraid or ashamed to tell the world that we don’t need a god to make us good, moral, upstanding human beings. We show them that we can know joy, exhilaration, peace and love without any sort of supernatural presence or interference. We show them that there is an entire group of us who are willing to fight to keep religion out of our government. And I imagine we’ll suprise the heck out of ourselves when we look around the mall that day and think…oh wow – there really are a lot of us!

So yeah.

Reason Rally. David Silverman. This Sunday, 9am on 950AM KTNF. You can listen to the show live or find us on iTunes under “Atheists Talk”.

Upcoming Show: Atheists Talk with Alex Rosenberg

October 27, 2011

I had (great intentions for conceiving and writing) an awesome post for yesterday, but instead spent most of the evening (you know, after cooking dinner, preparing lunch for today and eating dinner over some Mythbusters with the Hubby; I totally knew those breast implants weren’t going to expand at high pressures!) writing up my first-ever Atheists Talk radio program notes for the MN Atheists website! And then I had to muddle my way through navigating the website for the first time. I admit, there were a few frantic emails between me and the other administrators last night and this morning (frantic on my part, not theirs), and at least one header that included the plea “HALP!”. But I finally got all of the content in the right place and in a format that I’m almost happy with(dadgummed HTML!).

On Sunday we’re interviewing the American philosopher Dr. Alex Rosenberg about his new book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions. I’m currently halfway through it and I’m enjoying his writing style. It’s a lot of science and deep reading, but every so often Rosenberg will slip in some completely unexpected humor and I’m reminded that, oh yeah – this is actually really fun stuff! 

I’ll be interested to hear the interview because there are a few things in the book that I’m not completely on board with, and I’m excited to hear Dr. Rosenberg expound on his ideas. This will only be my second time hosting, so I’m still allowed to be a little star-struck about our guests, right?

If you want to learn more about the upcoming radio interview on this Sunday October 30th at 9am (and see my shiny write-up!) visit mnatheists.org

I was on the radio!

October 16, 2011

A few months ago I was invited to do something new and exciting: I was asked if I wanted to be a radio host for MN Atheists radio show, Atheists Talk! I was very excited to be asked, but I didn’t want to put anything out here on the blog until all the details came together. Today they did.

Today I was the host for an interview with Dr. David Eller on his book Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History. It aired at 9am this morning on AM950 KTFN. You can listen to the interview here or on iTunes (the podcast is called “Atheists Talk”, and this is episode #137 “Exploring Religious Violence”). I won’t go into the details of the interview itself here, but it was interesting enough that I found it a little hard to stay focused on the technical side of things, instead of letting myself get completely engaged in the issues Dr. Eller was discussing.

Being the radio host was a neat experience. I read all of the intros and outros, kept an eye on the clock, introduced the guest and the interviewer, thanked the sponsors, and theoretically would have read any email questions or taken any phone calls for the guest, had that happened. There was a kick-butt radio engineer in studio who took care of the actual sound quality, getting Dr. Eller on the phone, turning the mics on and off, and other techy goodness. And aren’t we all grateful for that?

Hosting was a little nerve-wracking and I did mess up a few sections. I totally, utterly cut off Dr. Eller at two of the commercial breaks, but then the engineer came in and clued me in to how those were supposed to work (as opposed to how I had been doing them, lol). Going to commercial is a bit of a delicate dance between the interviewer, the interviewee and the host, but after messing it up twice we NAILED the third break. But then we ran out of time at the end. And I said “uh” quite a bit. And I missed an entire paragraph of script for one of the intros.

So, there’s room for improvement, but now I’ll be one of the regular hosts and I’ll have a chance to try it again! I’ll be alternating with Atheists Talk radio host (and the blogger behind Almost Diamonds) Stephanie Zvan most weeks. My next show is on Sunday October 30th at 9am. We’re scheduled to have Alex Rosenberg on to discuss his book The Atheist’s Guide to Reality.

Fun, huh?

Atheists Don’t Swear Oaths On Darwin.

July 22, 2011

I’m a fan of Mike Peter’s Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip. I’ve been reading the adventures of Grimmy, Atilla the Cat, Mom, Ralph and the many other side characters featured in Mother Goose & Grimm since I was a little girl too young to understand the jokes. Also, I agree with a lot of Mike Peter’s political cartoons and editorials.

But I was disappointed with yesterday’s MG&G.

The comic presents the idea that atheists worship Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection as Christians worship the bible. The joke isn’t funny because I would bet that a lot of people have this misconception about atheists. If it’s taken as truth, then it’s not really a joke. As one lovely gentleman from the comic’s online comments section wrote in response to a man who said the comic wasn’t funny to him:

As an atheist I am frustrated by the connection of my lack of belief in gods to evolution; while of course related, the two have little to do with each other. I learned about and accepted evolution over a decade before I embraced atheism (for a long time I was a fan of the idea that God created the process of evolution). This comic muddies the water about the relationship between atheism and evolution, and has the potential to negatively influence public understanding of the relationship between the two.

While it’s true that atheists can decline to swear on a bible, so can anyone. Before testifying, a person must assure the court that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Traditionally people swear to Almighty God because we have a little (teensy tiny) issue with Christian privilege in this country. In that situation one is swearing under pain and penalty of God’s judgement that they will not tell a lie. If you chose to not swear an oath to God, you may solemnly and sincerely affirm, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you won’t fib to judge and jury.

On a side note, the portrayal of the atheist as a middle-aged white male feeds into the stereotype that all atheists are…middle-aged white men (with lots of crazy facial hair). Not true.

And one more point: “Atheist” can be a scary word, and being known as an atheist is a scary idea for some people. There are notions that atheists are god-denying (we are), creation-denying (that one too) trouble-makers (not all of us) who would refuse to swear an oath on a bible in court (a lot of us in some situations might) just to cause a stir (but not for that reason). But I think that it would take some courage to refuse to “place a hand on the bible” in front of a room full of strangers who are expecting you to do just that. Swearing before god might make you look more trustworthy to a judge or jury, while refusing to swear before god might make you look less so, and could have serious outcomes for your case. The comic isn’t funny because we might be brave enough to ask for a secular affirmation before testifying. Or we might not. It’s a tough position to be in.

Putting out a comic strip that is published in over 800 newspapers which 1)encourages public misunderstanding about the connection between atheism and evolution and 2)makes light of atheists who are in the difficult position of having to either swear an oath they don’t believe in or ask for a secular affirmation which might damage their case – isn’t funny, it’s potentially damaging, thoughtless and cruel.

Humanist reflections

November 16, 2010

These videos have made me feel all sentimental, inspired, and humanist-y.

Resistance to allowing gay service members to serve openly is one of those things that I just cannot wrap my head around.  Jeff Shang’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell exhibit contains photographs of closeted men and women who are serving in the military under DADT.  The photos and the subjects are beautiful, heartbreaking and haunting.

I followed that up with Science Saved My Soul by philhellenes, which I found over at Attempts at Rational Behavior.  The beginning of this video will take your breath away; the images of the night sky and the universe, the well-delivered script describing the beauty, the horror and the immense magnitude of the universe, and the music are all beautiful.

After giving the viewer a few seconds to catch his/her breath, the next ten minutes are devoted to a eloquent argument against organized religion, to being open to finding God without religion.  As philhellenes writes in the description for the video “I’m not against the Creator(s), if they exist, if they ever existed. I’m not against the search for the Creator(s). What blows MY mind is that people think religion has anything to do with it at all.”

Bow to Lord Vader. Or God. Whichever.

November 13, 2010

I found this over at Attempts at Rational Behavior, a blog that tracks Facebook and Twitter messages having to do with religion, far Right politics, and pseudoscience:

“the worshipers of darwin believe that God did not create life. however they cannot say, or prove that there is no other life form somewhere out there in space. all scripture re: God, says that He is in a place where we cant go, or see until death. a place where science can never find. i know alot of you believe in star wars. and i think if darth vader came and told you bow down, you would have no choice but to do so. God promises that someday he will come and wipe out and evil, and every knee will bow. you have a choice right now, to evolve your way of thinking, and ask Jesus to save you before you run out of time.”

Hmmm…using one type of fiction to support another…  Who believes Star Wars?  What does that mean?  I believe Star Wars is an awesome underdog-comes-out-on-top, good vs. evil, ficitional series.

Yes, if Lord Vader appeared before me and told me to bow down, there’s a good chance I’d comply.  Likewise, if God appeared before me and told me to bow down, there’s a good chance that I’d comply. But I’m not bowing to Vader if George Lucas is the one telling me to do so.

One of the reasons why I can’t get behind all of this religion stuff is because it requires me to take Joe Shmoe’s word that God wants me to comply (or ELSE!).  When God (or Lord Vader) starts doing her/his/its own talking, I’ll be allllll ears.

Xmas Wars

September 19, 2010

This is not an SNL skit or other parody group’s work.  This is fo’ real.

This movie will be loved by some people, but in the light of recent events and the us vs them mentality going on with the Ground Zero “Mosque”, the planned burning of the Koran,  the Pope’s visit to UK, Tea Party candidates calling for less church-state separation, et cetera, et cetera, I think the majority of people will see this for this movie for the divisive piece of crap that it looks to be.  And since this Christmas with a Capital C is straight-to-DVD, I don’t think the majority of the mainstream will ever even know about this movie.

Go go gadget optimism!

And to be clear, Christmas with a Capital C is the movie’s official title.  But I think How the Atheist Stole Christmas is more appropriate and filled with truthiness.  Or, as Balk from The Awl suggested Bullshit Resentments Fomented To Somehow Convince The Practitioners Of America’s Most Widely-Followed Faith That They Are Under Siege: The Movie

Via BlagHag, Joe My God, and a gazillon billion other rationality, atheism and skeptical websites.

Oh, and check out the movie’s namesake – a video about Go Fish, the Christian rock band that wrote and performed the song “Christmas with a Capital C”.  It’s pretty great when the lead singer says that Christmas didn’t used to be about religion, it was about culture and everyone used to participated in the holiday even if they disagreed with the religion because it was good for all of us.  Say what?  And I love the part where they make fun of people who say Happy Holidays by lisping the “s” and speaking in a soft voice (read: speaking like The Gays).  It’s FAB-ulous!

Nightlife and An Atheist in Perugia

July 20, 2010

The Hubby and I went out about Perugia this evening.  We left the apartment at 10:30pm and headed to a couple of bars that we had discovered earlier in the day.  We stopped at La Terrazza,  a quiet, snazzy, classy place with what I can only describe as “experimental” music playing over the speakers.

At La Terrezza bar

Then we headed to an Irish tavern named Shamrock’s Pub, where we met a bunch of English-speaking students from the Foreigner’s University.  Next we stopped and sat on the steps of the Piazza Quattro Novembre (THE fountain in Perugia) with all of the rest of Perugia’s nightlife – the steps of Cathedrale S. Lorenzo were packed with people drinking birre, smoking, laughing and generally having a great time.

At the Piazza Quattro Novembre

And then we strolled up the busy touristy street of Corso Vennucci, where the Hubby bought some gelato.  On the way back we ran into a guy who was standing with a small group of people  and wearing a shirt that said Kill Your Idols with a picture of Jesus Christ wearing the thorns and gazing upward.  I approached him with my phrasebook in hand and asked “Mi scuzi, ateo?”, which means “Excuse me, atheist?”, although with my broken Italian (did I say broken?  I meant non-existent), who knows what I really asked him.  He and a girl standing next to him looked a little worried, but I grinned and pointed to myself and said “Atheist!  I’m an atheist – ateo americana!  I didn’t expect to see too many out atheists in Italy.”  He grinned, and his friend grinned.  He said in heavily accented English, “You like my shirt?  It’s a very important message.”  To which I replied, “Yes, yes, I like it very much – may I take a picture with you?”  And there we go.

And now off to bed at the wee hour of 2:00am local time – 7pm Minneapolis time 🙂