Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A simple guidemap to wedded bliss

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook about "Why You're Not Married" by Tracy McMillan.  Sorry if you are reading that and you are married, but it is the title of the piece.  It is written to women who want to get married;  apparently women who want to get married for the sake of getting married.  So, why can't these ladies find themselves a man?  Why can't they "seal the deal"?  Simple, they are shallow, selfish, slutty, lying bitches.  And they are not good enough.  No really, that is what she says.  Seriously.  Read the article.  I read it about four times to see if I could glean something good out of it.

Now, I am not an idiot.  I know that being in a relationship requires you to make sacrifices and compromises, but McMillan actually suggests that women should be more like Kim Kardashian.  If you are a woman, and you want to be like Kim Kardashian (warning: I don't really know who that is) then by all means do so.  It is your life, right?  But to suggest that you "smile" and "wiggle" to avoid scaring men is repulsive.  Just keep your opinion to yourself, smile and be a good doting wife.  How else is a reader supposed to take that?

Beyond that I think that McMillan is painting with pretty broad strokes.  I am sure that there are shallow, selfish, slutty, lying women who want to get married, but are having a hard time.  I am sure that there are shallow, selfish, slutty, lying women who are happily married.  To suggest that in all cases the reason that a woman can't find a man that she wants to marry is because of six simple (and offensive) reasons is really undercutting how complex human relationships are.  Off the top of my head, I can think of many other reasons why two people don't get married.  Here are a few: finances, career, distance, different goals, children, fear, lack of interest, family pressure, peer pressure, illness and, yes, religious differences.  I am not going to expand on those and I would like to note that the list is not exhaustive, but I think you get the point.  Simply saying that X or Y is why someone is not married is a bullshit oversimplification, especially when applied to such a diverse demographic as unwed women (who want to get married).

Anyhow, maybe I am way off base here, and I am a man, so I feel weird writing about women's issues regardless, but this one really got under my skin.  Now that I got that out, would someone please be so kind as to write an article titled "Why You're Not Married to Newt Gingrich"?  I would love to read that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens has passed away.  His light has gone out of the universe.  He has, however, left us with a mountain of writings and wonderful debates.  He entertained, he challenged and he pissed people off.  I never met the man, but I would have liked to.  I will miss him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I love the blog Bad Astronomy.  Phil Plait serves up awesome space pictures and videos, as well as pointing out and explaining things scientific that the media either ignores or gets wrong.  Whenever some big science story is breaking, Bad Astronomy is usually my first stop.  Today for example I went there to see if he had chimed in yet on the latest news about the unfortunately nicknamed Higgs Boson (the "god particle").   Sadly, he has not, although, I think that is probably because there has not been enough news yet. 

Anyhow, once I saw that there was nothing new on the Boson there, decided to peruse the other entries.  I came across one about holiday giving.  I was not happy to see this link on the Bad Astronomy page.  Don't get me wrong, I am happy that I know.  I am just upset because I usually drop a few bucks in the Salvation Army's buckets each year while I am shopping.  I hate to think that I have been supporting a charity for most of my life that openly discriminates against gays.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, and perhaps I had been a bit naive.  At any rate, I will not be dropping any cash into any red buckets this holiday season unless it is part of a drinking game. 

P.S.  Bad Astronomy also has a list of charities that skeptics and atheists would find much more appealing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Atheism != religion

Just saw this comic over at SMBC.  If you follow the strip daily, you probably have already seen it.  If not, enjoy.  Also, if you don't follow SMBC, you should begin immediately.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hooray for winter!

Huzzah!  Snowboarding season is upon us again!  Thank gravity, geology, and the various states of water!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

War were declared

 It is official.  John Stewart has declared war on Christmas.  God help us all.  Yuk yuk yuk.  Joking aside, I really like Christmas.  It has never been a religious holiday in my family, but that hasn't stopped us from enjoying it.  Plus, we never have to go to any midnight masses, which is good, because I doubt that many of us would be good to drive by midnight.  Sometimes people tell me to remember the reason for the season.  I just roll my eyes.  I learned that in high school astronomy.  I don't let it bother me.  Some people, however, get all wound up when elected officials don't call a tree a religious symbol.  Keep in mind this tree is on government property and often paid for with tax payer money.  Not to mention the bombardment of Christmas that people receive just by walking out their front door.  Get over it.  Christmas isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  I for one am happy about that, as I said, I like Christmas.  I do wish it was out of government buildings though.  That, or make space for all religions and a nice big friendly atheist billboard.  How's that for compromise?


Saturday, December 3, 2011

99% to the 53%

I just read this over at Daily Kos.  If you haven't read it, I think you should.  It sums up the whole point I think Occupy is trying to make quite succinctly.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I must be out of the loop or something.

I am sorry, I have lived outside of the U.S. now for about 5 years.  As such, I have missed out on a few things.  I have family members with children that I barely know (the children, not the family members. Although, the children are also family members).  I am also a bit out of touch with pop culture.  I understand there is a funny show called the Big Bang Theory that sounds great.  Never seen it.  I am consistently about a year behind on popular music, and I rarely watch new movies.  But the thing that pisses me off, the question that really gets me worried about the future is:  Who the hell are the Kardashians, and why does anyone care about them?  Seriously, I have no idea.  Kim.  Who's that?  Khloe? There are two of them?  More?  I am sure I could find out more if I looked into it harder, but I am about 90% sure my brain would fall out if I did. 

Sorry.  Just had to get that out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A long absence

Sorry, it has been ages since I have posted anything on here.  I will try and rectify this.  In the mean time, I saw this video.  As if I needed another reason to love Eddie Izzard:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Geocentrism? Sure, why not...

I was reading about geocentrists today.  I have to admit, they are a strange lot.  The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that their beliefs, while strange, are not really that far out their.  Relatively speaking, of course.  I mean a large portion of the worlds population believes that an invisible spirit of unlimited power got some girl pregnant and then when the child grew up he was killed so that we could all have an invisible, undetectable part of ourselves go for eternity to an invisible, undetectable place that no one has ever seen.  Compared to that the sun going around the earth seems pretty straight forward.  Hell, it even looks that way from our perspective.  Perhaps the reason that the geocentrists views are considered strange even among the religious is that they have been so thoroughly proven false.  Of course, this make me wonder why people who choose not to believe in evolution and climate change are not equally shunned.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's like a sale!

Attention ladies, have you recently found yourself in a state of mortal sin?  Excommunicated from the Church?  Well, are you in luck, this week and this week only you can be absolved for your evils!  Stop by today!  (Only at participating Churches)

Now, I apologize for making light of a serious issue, and I am about as pro-choice as they come, but this just seems ridiculous.  I mean, people shoot doctors over this.  They take it very, very seriously.  What's next?  Murder: okay on nights and weekends?  Genocide?  Actually, apparently genocide won't get you excommunicated.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rick Perry takes his crazy up a notch.

I hate to dwell on just one person, but this guy just keeps sending up red flags with me.  Gov. Perry recently had this to say about evolution.  Really?  Theory with gaps.  Okay, let's be completely fair.  I doubt we know everything there is to know about evolution.  Regardless, it is not really in question whether it does happen.  Creationism, on the other hand is a theory with only one gap, one gap that makes up the entire theory. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

There is crazy...

...And there is crazy.  And then, there is this.  Sun goddess???  What?!  Does the empress know?  Compared to this, Russell's Teapot seems pretty down to earth (yuk yuk yuk).   

Saturday, August 6, 2011

90 degrees.

I have heard only a little of the debate over the 9/11 cross, so I won't go to far into it.  I think perhaps both sides have blown this one out of proportion.  On the atheist side, I think a lawsuit might be a bit much.  I agree that a set of cross beams (get it? cross beams?) set at a 90 degree angle found in the debris of a collapsed commercial building being seen as a sign from god in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history is more than a bit of a stretch.  I am not sure what it is meant to be a sign of or a message about.  It just seems a bit weak.  That said, I kind of have a live and let live taste in my mouth about this one.  On the other side, however, things get a bit freaky.  Please see here, and here (or for just some general, if mostly unrelated, crazy, here).  A twelve gauge to the head?  Really, Joe Martinez?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I live in Japan...

Therefore, I am sometimes surprised when I get Jehovah's witnesses knocking on my door.  Today, it was two nice old ladies that were knocking, so I was on my best behavior.  I don't really speak Japanese, certainly not at the level of abstract language required to communicate about religion, so I didn't understand what they were saying.  They had a book full of colorful pictures.  First she pointed to a picture of a fish and a car.  Then to a picture of a salamander's foot.  I don't really know what this was all about, but I am guessing it has something to do with intelligent design.  On the flip-side, maybe they were saying that cars evolved from fish.  That would be hilarious.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

What would it take?

I posted at the end of an entry (the only one :/) that I would remain skeptical even if Christ was to come down from the skies flanked by angels.  It got me thinking, what would it take to make me believe in the supernatural.  I wasn't always this skeptical.  It has come from years of first pondering religion (Christianity), then finding religion to be inconsistent, just pondering god, until finally, I just found myself one day realizing that there is just not enough evidence to support such a grand claim.  Since then I have read quite a bit of atheist literature, and found much of it to be quite in line with that realization.  Are you sleeping yet?  Yada yada, first I was....yada yada...finally,  yada.  Yes, I know, pretty boring stuff. 

Anyhow, today I am very skeptical, especially of any claim regarding something supernatural.  Really think about what that word means: supernatural.  What would be supernatural.  If fire-breathing dragons were real would they be supernatural?  Nope.  Psychics?  Nope.  Magic?  Depends on how you define it.  The problem is, if we find one of these "supernatural" phenomena to be true, then that would simply change our view of nature. 

So, what could make me believe in a supernatural god (without simply using some natural technique to change my mind for me)?  I think it would take something supernatural.  Har har.

P.S. I also kept thinking about an old episode of Star Trek TNG that this thought always reminds me of.  TNG fans probably already know, but for you uninitiated, it is called "the Devil's Due".  Check it out if you can.

Atheism the religion?

Whenever I read any comment threads in which non-religious folks and religious folks are debating (to put it very nicely), it seems that eventually a religious person will come right out and declare atheism a religion.  I am not sure where this confusion comes from.  It may be that people who come from religious backgrounds do not have the experience required to understand a life without religion of some sort.  It maybe that some religious group out there is pushing this idea in order to frighten, confuse, or otherwise influence people. Or maybe some group is pushing this idea because it is what they really believe.

But none of that is important.  It is not important for one important reason.  Atheism is not a religion.  I repeat, atheism is not a religion.  Look, I didn't even capitalize it.  To illustrate this point, I have prepared a simple analogy.  Theism is a belief in a god or gods.  Atheism is the belief that there are no gods.  If you have a house, and I do not have a house, we are not different kinds of homeowners.  If you play baseball and I do not, we are not different kinds of baseball players.  But wait it gets better!  Not only is atheism not a religion, theism isn't a religion either!  Now a theist is probably a million time more likely to be religious, but that does mean that every person that believes in at least one god also belongs to a religion.

So, not only are people who claim atheism to be a religion confusing two very different things, but are by accident creating not one, but two religions (theism and atheism) where none exist.  Please say it with me now: atheism is not a religion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Conversion Stories

Every so often as I am slumming around the web, I come across a conversion story.  Occasionally, the conversion is from a position of non-belief to one of faith.  These confuse me.  Don't get me wrong, people convert to religions all the time, the fact that I think that they are mistaken to do so doesn't really matter.  They have nothing to prove to me.  The stories disturb me though, because there is something that is always just a little off about them. Take this one for example.  The guy starts out not believing in god, then gets into witchcraft and freaks out after he summons a demon.  A demon.  I am not joking.  Atheists, so far as I know, are not into witchcraft.  I mean, we are a pretty difficult group to classify, but nature gods seem to go out the same window as sky gods when it comes to not believing in any gods. This is an extreme (and I think silly) example, but there are quite a few stories out there that are similar.    The person starts out a "real hardcore atheist".  In this case he also killed his pet rabbit as a child (have you read the article yet?  I am not making this up).  I don't know.  I believe that people have religious experiences, or rather what they interpret as religious experiences.  But the way these always come across like "and then one day: Jesus." or "I came upon a bible passage and just kept repeating it."  On the one hand it sounds like they were in a rough spot and pulled themselves up, then giving the credit to the mystery.  On the other hand it sounds like they have drunk the Kool-Aid and they have learned afterwards what their conversion was about.  Of course, I can't say for sure.  It would be very presumptuous for me to walk up to someone and tell them what they feel.  And hey, maybe it is God talking to them through vague metaphor and random Bible passages, but I doubt it.  I mean I really doubt it.  Then, I am very skeptical.  If Jesus was descending from the sky on a golden chariot flanked by choirs of angels and whisking people away to paradise left and right, part of me would still say, "this is some sort of trick, right?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

The non-believer's story.

I was going to write a piece to bore you with the details of how I became an atheist (I seem to be putting this off), but I found this article by Paula Kirby, which expresses how I am sure many of us feel, and more eloquently than I am capable.  Please read it.  It is a lovely piece.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Onion strikes again

I do so love the Onion.  And when they post articles like this, it reaffirms that love.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Climate Change

I am sure that I am not the first one to hit on this topic, but I wonder what percentage of climate change deniers are religious.  I would be interested to know.  It seems strange that someone can take something as unlikely as the existence of God on faith, but require absolute evidence for something that is very likely.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Intelligent De-Fail

Having just written a post yesterday on civility in discussions of religion and non-belief, I was interested when I came across this article attacking biologist, and popular atheist blogger P.Z. Myers via Project Reason.  Now I understand that Professor Myers is not afraid to say how he feels, so to speak, and therefore it is not so surprising that some people might, from time to time, get upset with him.  I quite enjoy his writings, which I recommend you read if by some tiny chance you made it here before seeing his vastly more popular and established blog

Anyhow, back to the article in question.  I read through the piece which was one part ad hominem attack and one part tutorial in the inanities of intelligent design.  I felt the need to say...something.  But when I got to the comments thread it seems that someone had beaten me to the punch.  More like someones.  At last check there were 218 comments with the majority by far defending Professor Myers.  I think there were only one or two that were in support of the article.  Myers also replied on his blog.

Seriously, P.Z. Myers doesn't need me to publicize this.  I just wanted to say that, even though I tend to be less vocal, I do so enjoy seeing an ID pusher get shredded whenever I can.  Thank you secular internet.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Should we play nice?

It seems that right now the question of how aggressively atheist we should be is floating around in many media outlets.  The Guardian published this interview with Martin Rees (which incidentally ticked me off bad enough to start this blog, but that is a topic for another day).  Perhaps it has something to do with the recent failed predictions of Harold Camping.  That is the suggestion over at Skepticblog.  Indeed, I myself have been pretty hard on Mr. Camping and his followers.  They were pretty easy targets, and I still believe that they behaved in a foolhardy manner, but it is important to remember that they are people and that this whole experience has probably been a difficult and painful one for them.  At the same time, how do you react to people who behave or believe so irrationally.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle on the confrontation scale.  I don't think it is necessary to go out of our way to poke fun at people with strange or unsubstantiated beliefs.  People are allowed to think whatever they want.  However, if someone challenges me on my non-belief or tries proselytizing to me, they should be prepared to defend their beliefs, because they voluntarily crossed that line.  In cases like that I think that it is important for us to be quite vocal about why we are non-believers, and show that we are also normal human beings.  Basically, we shouldn't hide who we are because we are afraid of a) being socially outcast or b) offending the overtly religious.  I think that that is pretty straight forward.  We are who we are, and we believe what we believe (or don't believe) and we shouldn't be ashamed of it.

It becomes a more difficult question, however, when we are dealing with someone who is not directly challenging us or trying to convert us, but is still speaking with an air of religious authority.  It is like when someone at a party says something that is just blatantly wrong like "cockroaches are smarter than dogs" or "potato chips are really healthy" or "I think I am a little psychic" or "the Secret is such an awesome book".  You feel bad correcting them, because you don't want to be that person, but you also feel the need to correct an obvious factual error.  One that I encountered recently when talking about the economy was "Christ said, 'there will be poor always'."  Do you let that go?  Incidentally, rather than challenge the religious aspects of it, I challenged the statement on its own.  Of course this conversation was with a family member whom I have a great deal of respect for.  Would I have reacted differently if it had been someone whom I did not respect so much?  I don't know.  I can say though that I believe that we should pick our battles.  Sometimes the offense is too great to let slide and we should challenge it, even at the risk of appearing rude.  Other times, we should just let it slide. 

How about mockery?  I quite liked the attitude of Daniel Loxton's blog entry from Skepticblog (linked above).  Really, how effective is mockery?  Even if it works, it is kind of going over to the dark side, in that it is coercive and doesn't make people think critically.  One exception that I could possibly see is when we are actually publicly debating someone or dealing with a powerful organization.  In a debate if you can make your opponent look obviously foolish, without making yourself look like a bully or a jerk, it could help you win the debate.  When dealing with powerful organizations that promote wrong ideas I am not really concerned about their feelings, and would like to be a part of decreasing the quality of their public images.  Some examples include:  Answers in Genesis (people living with dinosaurs), The Discovery Institute (intelligent design), the Thomas More Law Center (have a look), and many others.  Still, I think belittling a person you are having a friendly conversation with, in almost all cases is a lose-lose idea.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In for a penny...

Harold Camping.  The Campmeister.  El Camparino.  Camper.  I am starting to like this guy.  Not because I think he is on to anything.  No, I think he is pretty much out of his mind.  But reading this article about his reaction to the Rapture fail, I have to say he is good value.  Sticks to his guns and all that.  It reminds me of the first Austin Powers movie when Austin hits on a 21 saying that he "too like(s) to live dangerously".  So, the Rapture didn't happen, but the world is still going to end on October 21 of this year.  Whatever you say, buddy. *wink* *wink* 

Sadly, I doubt this one will get quite the media attention of the last one, but I can dream...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Okay, faith and what else?

Today, for the second time in my career as an atheist, someone has presented me with the argument that they believe in god because of faith.  I don't know why people think that this is a good argument.  Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't faith mean basically the same thing as belief?  I know there are variations on the definitions of faith that give it some different shades of meaning, but essentially it is the same thing, right?  If I told someone I believe something because I believe it, I am sure that I would be met with blank stares and derision, but if I replace the word "belief" with the word "faith", suddenly it becomes an argument. 

I find this argument especially annoying because everyone has faith is something or someone, but we do it because there are reasons that we have that faith.  I am not talking about anything supernatural.  I am talking about things like faith that friends care for you and family members love you.  Maybe it is all a lie, but I have reason to believe it is not.  Sometimes the reasons for faith end up not being reliable, but they are there.  I am sure it is the same for religious peoples' faith.  Has it been instilled in you from childhood?  Are you afraid of god's wrath?  Is it the sense of community you feel in church?  Do you believe the Bible is the literal word of god?  Is it a feeling you get when you are alone?  Does god talk to you?  Have you been visited by angels?  You are not likely to convince me, but at least we can have an adult conversation about it.  So if you are religious and you insist on talking to me about religion please tell me the reason that you have faith, not simply that you do!  The thing worries me is that people might not know why they have this faith, and they are unwilling to really think about it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A spot of tea

In my recent rage over current politics in the U.S. I decided to take a look at how the other half live, so to speak.  This landed me over at the home page of Tea Party Patriots.  I was immediately struck by the banner that reads "TEACH U.S. HISTORY IN OUR SCHOOLS".  Ignoring the conundrum of a group who thinks that teachers are making too much money demanding more education, I remembered that I did indeed study U.S. history in school.  Have schools in the U.S. stopped doing this?  I had to know more.  So I went here.  I found the campaign interesting in that it not only asked its readers to send a letter to their school superintendent, but it asked for them to send three letters, and they want you to send letters that they (Tea Party Patriots) have written.  Hmm.  What was their angle here (Sharon?)?  At the bottom of the text I noticed there is a link to the NCCS store which sells a "Constitution Week Education Package".  NCCS, huh?  NCCS stands for National Center for Constitutional studies.  Fair enough, I think it is important for us to study the Constitution.  Wait, was the NCCS the same group that published The Making of America by Cleon Skousen, which claimed that "white slave owners were the worst victims" of slavery?  I'll spare you the suspense; it was.  Is that the U.S. history that they want taught in schools?  Anyhow, if you have some time to spare you can go over to NCCS site and test your knowledge of history with one of their super fun quizzes.  See if you can spot the agenda. 


Now that we know that the destruction of the world is not imminent, I feel it is safe to talk about more serious topics.  Right now there is no subject more guaranteed to raise my blood pressure than the all-out assault that the right is carrying out on the middle class in America.  I know times are tough and the money to run everything has to come from somewhere, but why are we taking it away from the people who educate our children?  And why must we take away unions' collective bargaining as well?  What does that have to do with anything?  Why aren't we taking the money from the irresponsible villians (that is the nicest way I feel I can describe them) who caused the world economy to nearly collapse on the first place?  It literally boggles my mind to think of how anyone can vote republican unless they make over $250,000 a year.  They are the only ones being served by this.  The rest of the base must be held hostage by social issues, which most of the time do not even concern them (e.g. gay marriage).  That is the only explanation that I can think of that makes any sense at all.  A few years ago a coworker complained to me that the United States was turning into a third world country.  At the time I thought he was nuts, and I told him so.  Now, he may be right. 

Anyhow, I am a bit out of my depth talking about economics, but I read this article from Vanity Fair,  and I recommend you read it too.  Chilling.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Still here

Well, looks like the Rapture didn't happen.  I am glad I decided not to sell all of my personal belongings, and quit my job.  I hope that for the people that did, this has served as a powerful lesson.  Sadly, however, even though this "guaranteed" prophecy has completely, and utterly failed, I doubt many of the true believers will be shaken in their faith.  Oh well.  I will take a victory for reason, even if it is a tiny one.  It was a good party, regardless.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The main event

It's been a pretty exciting week for atheists.  Stephen Hawking weighed in on heaven.  Friday is draw Muhammad day, and Saturday is the Rapture.  It is like a double header.  To top it off, Newt Gingrich, who recently said we have to fight to keep America from becoming a secular nation ruled by Sharia law, is now fighting for his life in his bid to get the GOP nomination.  Yes, pretty exciting indeed.  Here's hoping you make it through the end of the world (wink wink), but if not, will it really be so bad

Thanks, Katy, for the cartoon link.

Oh, and these church signs aren't real, but it would be great if they were.

UPDATE: Well really it is just another link, this one is quite helpful.  I want to get in as many shots on this as I can before it becomes a non-issue tomorrow afternoon.  Thanks, John, I totally stole another link from you.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The word of god?

Just wanted to share this article that I happened upon today.  I found it interesting, although not surprising to read about many books in the New Testament being written by people who were not who they claimed to be.  This by itself would not discredit the Bible as being true, but it certainly weakens its claim of being a primary source.  Given that it is the primary source, or as I called it in the entry about Stephen Hawking, the "evidence" for Christianity, I would say that Christians are standing on some shaky ground when they make truth claims.  I guess that is not so surprising.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cue R.E.M. song

As I am sure you have by now heard, the Rapture is this Saturday.  Apparently, no ear shall hear his coming unless that ear has been listening to Family Radio (linked above).  This Harold Camping fellow also predicted that the world would end in 1994, but to my knowledge no one has been "raptured" to date.  One possible exception might be the guy in charge of maintaining their website.  It looks like it is from 1994.  I seriously recommend going there and checking out the "FACTS about May 21" section.  It makes fun of itself, so I really don't feel the need to.  I have heard some people complaining that this event has been getting to much media attention.  In my opinion, I think it is great!  I am even having a Rapture party on Saturday.  It doesn't start until seven, but I doubt that will affect my guest list.  More importantly, it shows how silly the whole concept of the Rapture is.  I think that people are more comfortable with such foolish notions when they are down the line, but when it gets close, I have to imagine that even the believers are starting to wonder if it is really going to happen.  Any predictions of the BS that will begin spewing forth from Family Radio on May 22nd (local time)?

Also, here are some super fun cartoons from NPR website.   The Double Take Toons don't usually agree.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Full metal atheist

There are atheists in the foxholes.  I have never actually seen the argument that there are no atheists in the military employed in a debate, but I have always found it to be a repugnant one.  For one, it has an undertone suggesting that we are cowards, and much more importantly, there are undeniably atheists in the military!  Now, according to the article I linked to about, on top of having to remind people that they exist (in greater numbers than military Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists), they receive less support than their brothers and sisters in arms.

Thanks, John, for the link! 

Stephen Hawking on Heaven

In an interview with the Guardian Stephen Hawking refers to the idea of heaven as a "fairy story".  Pretty blunt, Doc, but I like your style.  As before, when he declared in his book The Grand Design that a god is not necessary to explain the universe, this statement about heaven has created a little firestorm amongst the religious.  The comments on the Guardian article were somewhat interesting, if only because there were 44 pages of them (last I checked) and seem to be a fair mix of religious and non-religious folks debating at varying levels of civility.  But my favorite response so far has come from this article at the Washington Post.  In it, Bishop Wright is arguing that Professor Hawking doesn't understand the Christian notion of heaven.  Perhaps this is an argument meant to confuse people.  I certainly don't get it.  I mean, I understand what he is saying, that Christians don't necessarily believe that they will be swooped up to a bright cloudy place to play harps until the end of....well, forever.  So what?  It is still life after bodily death.  It is still supernatural.  I would imagine that Professor Hawking also rejects the Muslim views of the afterlife.  I would be very surprised after a statement like the one he made Sunday to hear that Hawking believes in any sort of afterlife.  Bishop Wright then goes on to say that Hawking's opinion is not valid because he hasn't looked at the "evidence for Jesus and the resurrection".  We have heard that one before.  I have even tried looking for the evidence.  I even found a couple of copies of the "evidence" in my apartment.  You can also find the "evidence" in most hotel bed stands in the U.S..  If you know of another primary source referring directly Jesus please let me know so I can have a valid opinion on whether or not magic is real.

Sorry, got a bit snarky there for a minute...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby factory

Today I read about an article on Project Reason.  I say I read about it because the Wall Street Journal requires a subscription to read some content, and I try to avoid giving News Corp. money whenever I can.  The excerpts I read (one at PR the other at WSJ) suggested that some conservative lawmakers are trying to make the issue of gay marriage an issue of religious freedom.  Anyhow, as I mentioned, I couldn't read the whole article so I can't say too much about it, but it did get me thinking about a couple of things. 

The main thing I started thinking about was the definition of marriage as an institution designed to produce and raise babies.  Let me be clear, if that is what you think marriage is about, or that is what your marriage is about, I am not saying that you are wrong.  That is often a religious point of view, but it doesn't have to be.  I am not criticizing people who think that way.  I am criticizing people who expect other people to think the same way.  Providing a good environment to raise children is a definition of marriage, but it is not the only definition of marriage.  Even if somehow you could go back a hundred thousand years (or so) and prove definitively that the first man and the first woman walking the plains of Africa got married and the only reason for it was so that they could more effectively raise children, to suggest that in modern society we must stick exclusively and strictly to that ancient definition would be asinine.  People get married for many different reasons, and I think it is quite presumptuous to tell any married couple what their relationship is about.  What if they don't want children?  What if they are infertile?  What if they are elderly?  Should we deny the right to marry to them as well?  In this case, it seems strange and dishonest to say that a woman and a sterile man who love each other can get married, but two men or two women who love each other cannot.

I am tired of this subject.  It is a silly waste of time that one day we will look back on and uncomfortably explain to future generations.  *sigh*

Incidentally, I wanted to learn a little more about some Christian ideas about marriage and I found some interesting links, which I have included here:

Biblical Definition of Marriage

Christian Marriage

and an L.A. Times article by a "liberal"

That passage from Romans 13 was especially revealing.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Taxing non-profits

Just saw this article on NPR's site.  I read this article carefully, and not once was the idea of taxing religious institutions (with the possible exception of religiously allied hospitals) brought up.  Why are we going to increase the taxes on institutions that are vital for society and continue letting religions rake in the cash tax free?

The secret stash

I just read about this over at the L.A. Times website.  Seems like ol' Osama couldn't wait for his 72 virgins.  I imagine the exchange going something like this:

Guard:  Osama, what are you doing in there?  Why is this door locked?

ObL:  [muffled through the door] Ugh, I!  Yes, cleaning.

I tried to think of a good porn name for bin Laden, but I couldn't think of anything postworthy.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Hello and welcome to Atheist Apartment.  This is my first attempt in several years at blogging so please bear with me as I get warmed up.  As opposed to my previous blogs, which were more like awkward online diaries about things I thought were funny, this blog is about something that I feel strongly about.  That is to say reality.  I have recently (about a year ago) given up any belief in anything supernatural, and since then I have been gobbling up books, articles, online university lectures, debates, and probably some other media outlets I am forgetting about on the subjects of a) secular ideas and b) science.  Now then, I would like to take this moment to be perfectly clear that I am not a scientist.  So in the future (if anyone reads this) if you see something wrong with something that I have said, please alert me via the comment thread.  I want to be as accurate and honest with myself and with you as I possibly can.  That said, I majored in history when I was in college and as a historian (ha!) I do have a skeptical vein running through me.  Therefore, if you correct a mistake of mine, please, please do not say something like "I read somewhere that...".  This will not do.  Now that I have finished sounding like a professor (which I am not) on the first day of a lecture (which it is not), lets get down to the meat.

I was going to kick things off by boring you with some details about myself and a heartfelt journey through my becoming an atheist and maybe even conclude with a short anecdote about how I chose the title "Atheist Apartment".  However, something else has caught my eye and I have decided to spare you the personal details and journey, except to say that, I am from Indiana and I am indeed an atheist.  Both of these details have bearing on what I would like to talk about:  Politics.  Ah!  What a dirty word it is.  It is often mentioned with religion when discussing things about which one should not talk on a date.  And, seemingly, it is almost always peppered with religion when it is in the United States.  A few weeks ago I read an article on NPR's webpage about Indiana passing a bill to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.  I was horrified at the time and am even more horrified now that the thing (and I do mean thing) has been passed and signed into law.  Being a big fan of science, I am also a big fan of things like reason.  Now, here we have a group of legislators who, for religious reasons, are cutting funding to an institution which primarily provides reproductive health care to low income women who have no other options.  Real tough guys.  But let's not beat around the bush, there is no question about what this is about: abortion.  Nevermind the fact that the vast majority of what planned parenthood does is NOT abortion.  Now, let's look at what really casts this bill in the crazy bin: the fact that the money that is getting cut cannot be used for abortions anyway.  So basically, in the midst of high unemployment many poor folks are going to be left with no where to get things like birth control, cancer screenings, and STD tests.  Congrats, assholes.

Anyhow I saw this cartoon over at NPR as well.  There are actually two cartoons on the page, I like the one on top, not so much the one on the bottom.  I don't mean to trivialize the seriousness of this issue, but doesn't it seem like the baby looks sad to be in heaven.