Why Can’t Atheists Stop Talking About Atheism?
December 19, 2012

I hear this all year ’round, but it’s particularly well-used around the holidays, when Christians in the US start to really feel their own privilege and attack just about anyone that doesn’t have Jesus tattooed on their face.

“Why can’t atheists just stop talking about atheism? Why do they have to be “in your face” about it all the time?”

I have several actual answers to this question, and then a follow-up answer on how you’ve imagined the whole damn thing.

Now personally, I live in Texas, where atheists are few and far between and we live in very hostile territory.  But even nation-wide, atheists are a rare breed.  Since we are so rare, it can be difficult to find others to talk to about our philosophy of following evidence and reasoning over superstition and ancient dogma. In fact, many of us believed when we were kids that we were the only ones.  I can remember getting kicked out of Sunday School because I kept asking questions and pointing out that the answers given made no sense.  Because of this loneliness and isolation, when we do find others who think like us, in person or in internet forums or social media, perhaps we overcompensate.  But it’s very nice to find you are not alone in what can, at times, seem like a crazy crazy world.

Some atheists are former believers who have come to realize that what they have been taught all their lives is simply a glorified mythology.  Those atheists experience a kind of conversion fervor, and just like religious converts, they feel so happy and right about it that they want to share that with others.  They want to talk about it and try to help others see what they have seen.  I can’t blame them for their enthusiasm, but I can see how it might annoy believers, just as believers trying to convert me would irritate me.  Look, I sympathize, but trust me, they’ll calm down eventually and settle in to their new outlook on life.  Be patient.

So there you go, a couple of reasons why you might hear atheists talking about atheism a lot.

Only you won’t really hear that.  More than likely, you’ll almost never hear it.  The reason you won’t hear it is because it’s drowned out by the non stop expressions on belief given by believers all day, every day, everywhere they go, and in every single thing they do.

When I wake up and check Facebook in the morning, I get to read the daily religious affirmations of every believer I know.  I turn on the television and am greeted by television shows with religious themes, commercials for Christian services, news showing political figures who are all believers and all discuss the effect of God on their lives.  Every radio show is brought to me believers who tell me every good thing that happens is by the grace of God.  This includes morning shows and musical broadcasts.  I pass churches on every street, with Biblical quotes and other affirmations.  Bumper stickers on a vast majority of cars are emblazoned with expressions of belief.  When I enter a business there are Christian samplers and religious symbols on the walls.  My local donut shop has an open Bible on the counter, turned towards me.  People wear religious t-shirts or carry expressions of belief.  They talk about it openly everywhere.  If someone sneezes, another person will say “GOD bless you”, sometimes putting a strong emphasis on the word ‘God’.  When I leave, I am told to have a blessed day.  Recently, I gave a co-worker of mine some advice she thought would really help her.  She told me I should be a minister.

I never stop to ask any of these people why they feel the need to be so “in my face” about their beliefs or why they talk about God non-stop.  That is considered normal and perfectly accepted behavior in society.  It is I who am the odd one.  I am afraid to talk about being an atheist or to let people know it.  I would never wear clothing that proclaimed it, and I wouldn’t DARE to show it on my car.  When my co-workers talk about God or church as they do every day, I can only smile and nod. I dare not give my opinion.  I don’t know any other atheists in my daily life, and it’s possible this is because others are afraid to say anything either.

Trust me, we are not going around talking about atheism all the time.  We bend over backwards to never be “in your face”
about it, while tolerating a never-ending onslaught of religion every day.  So if you happen to have found a tiny pocket, a safe haven where a few atheists feel comfortable finally lowering their guard enough to give their opinion on something, give them a break please.  We only want a tiny semblance of the comfort you have every day.  We’re not trying to take it away from you, and clearly, we couldn’t make a dent in the mountainous privilege you enjoy, even if we tried.

Sound fair to you?


More Than a Little Curious…
August 5, 2012

It’s here.

In just about six and a half hours’ time, the NASA rover Curiosity will land on the surface of Mars, joining its still-active brother, Opportunity, in exploring the red planet.

This time, though, we’re sending a complete organic chemistry analysis lab, capable of testing samples for the components, or remnants, of life as we know it.  For the first time, we’ll be in a great position to determine once and for all if Mars has ever supported living things.

Excited yet?

Let’s just say that drill goes down and pulls back something that tests positive.   What will it mean for us all?

My mom and I were discussing it today, and she commented “It won’t affect us.”

“Whaaat?” I said, “Of course it will! If we find even extinct life, it would mean for the first time we know life exists outside our world!  Our whole concept of the universe would change, our whole view of our place in it would change.  Science itself would be changed forever, it would be the biggest discovery of all time!”

“Well, yeah,” she added. “But that’s ALL…”

She’s a character, my mom.  But she went on to say that our daily life and experiences wouldn’t change.

IS she right?

Say NASA / JPL announce this week that Curiosity has found actual microbial organisms in the Martian soil.

How would your life change?

How would your views/beliefs change?

How would your understanding of what it means to BE alive change?

Would it be better to find out they are wholly unrelated to us and unique to Mars, or would it be better to learn we all came from the same comet strikes, or something of that sort?  Or would it matter at all?

How much more or less likely would you be to support space exploration?

Would you care at all? Or is it just something for us nerds to geekgasm over?

I can tell you that I, for one, will be watching tonight and hanging on every press release from NASA / JPL in the coming weeks. Who knows when or if such a discovery might happen / be announced?  Or it might not happen at all.  It might be that Curiosity finds nothing, except more rocks and dirt, yielding no doubt fascinating geological data, but nothing that would shake us to our philosophical and religious cores.

But that won’t stop us from wondering, and wanting to go out there more and more, and further and further, and see and touch and examine and seek and find all the secrets of the world and unlock each and every one of them.  At least, I desperately hope it doesn’t, don’t you?

Aren’t you curious?

Quote: Jim Crawford
February 24, 2012

Man has always required an explanation for all of those things in the world he did not understand. If an explanation was not available, he created one.

Quote: Steven Weinberg
February 16, 2012

With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

Quote: Annie Wood Besant
February 7, 2012

No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.

Book Review: God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, 2007
December 21, 2011

Given the author’s unfortunate passing only days ago, the temptation to write a review overflowing with praise is one I shall have to resist. It is only fair that I confess that I also agree wholeheartedly with his core atheist beliefs, so that may generate bias as well, but there you are.

This book is not merely an argument for atheism, or against theism (or deism), it takes the case much further than that. As the subtitle makes clear (“How Religion Poisons Everything”) Hitchens intends to demonstrate that belief itself is dangerous. Religion, he contends, has done harm both to individuals and society itself wherever and whenever it is practiced.

That’s a bold claim, encompassing as it does all of (recorded) human history and the entire worldwide spectrum of faiths. Hitchens makes a surprisingly effective effort, taking you all over the globe through his eyes as a journalist, and through history via his extensive study of philosophical and religious texts.

As for readability, the book varies. The book is at its strongest when Hitchens relates his own experiences. It is filled with riveting anecdotes from war-torn regions and harrowing times. However, when discussing ancient tomes or turning to classical knowledge from antiquity, Hitchens can be somewhat didactic, and I found these passages harder to wade through.

Overall, though Hitchens makes strong points, I think he fails to make his overall case, that it is religion itself that is at fault for every one of the woes he brings up, and not simple human greed or ambition. His erudition and intelligence are everywhere on display, though, and it is a pleasure to see the world through his keen eyes.

Hitchens’ brilliant mind is now sadly lost to us, and though neither he nor his work were perfect, I highly recommend giving it a read to expose yourself to his passion and searching intellect.

Yes. YES!
November 26, 2011

Obama’s Thanksgiving Speech

September 26, 2011

If we expect God to subscribe to one religion at the exclusion of all the others, then we should expect damnation as a matter of chance. This should give Christians pause when expounding their religious beliefs, but it does not.

Sam Harris

September 25, 2011

Science strives to overcome ignorance. Religion perpetuates and exploits it.

Darren Marfleet

September 4, 2011

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish.