Category Archives: Atheism

Another year, another needless finger to the Christians

I think skepacabra pretty much said it all.

The latest round of atheist billboards don’t impress me any more than they did last year. Not because I care about offending anyone, but because I find it pointless to go out of the way to give Christians the finger rather than promoting a positive message about atheism. These ads don’t tell anyone what atheists are about, but they do give a solid impression that atheists are obsessed with Christianity in particular – for some reason.

Or did I just not catch the Hanukkah sign that makes fun of the Jewish? ‘Cause we all KNOW that oil lamp thing is a Myth, right?

Next year, could we maybe try to make a name for ourselves for fostering a sense of community and charity rather than going out of our way to use expensive billboard space to remind everyone that Christianity exists?

There’s a time and a place for more aggressive tactics, but a promotional billboard is not either. And if not promotional, what is the billboard for? It’s not supportive either. It seems like some atheist orgs need to think harder about what message they are trying to get across and choose their forums more wisely.

We’ll see you next Christmas… sigh.

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Thanksgiving

I am thankful for the people who farmed the food I ate today.

I am thankful that I get to eat turkey at least once a year to celebrate the end of the harvest, which where I live (lots of farming here) is a big hairy deal. And it’s delicious.

I am thankful to my husband who helped me peel all of the root veggies for the feast.

I am thankful for the sharing of recipes and the existence of summer savory.

I am thankful for all of my family, friends, and coworkers.

I am thankful that the skeptical community does what it does to try to help people every single day.

I’m also an atheist, which apparently perplexes some people on Thanksgiving. I don’t need a diety, I have lots to be thankful for right here.

Sorry, but you’re not non-religious *enough*

I’m so sorry about this. I like Hemant and his blog Friendly Atheist, but sometimes things can go off the rails a bit. I don’t know if he just had a bad day, maybe he didn’t express himself clearly, or if he really does feel that way, but the post about Anne Rice today was uncharacteristically unfair. More…

I don’t understand why you’re offended, therefore you shouldn’t be

The FFRF has a new ad saying “Sleep in on Sundays” and it has been followed by what seems to be an unfortunately predictable atheist chorus of  “I can’t believe people are upset about this”.

While I don’t disagree that sleeping in on Sundays should be a fairly innocuous suggestion, I have to wonder what is expected to be gained by essentially saying to the religious community: you’re feelings are stupid. Have we become so jaded by religious controversy that our only response, as atheists, is to blandly complain about it?

Of course religious people are going to be offended by the ad – they’re being challenged (albeit subtly, but challenged nonetheless). It’s not unusual for a challenge about something people really don’t want to think about to be met with hostility or frustration. We’re putting these messages out there, it’s up to us to deal with the response constructively whether we want to or not – that’s how we raise awareness of atheism.

Isn’t outreach the point of these ads: To 1) let atheists know that there are other atheists and 2) to make society in general aware that the world isn’t only made of religious people? The FFRF expects a response, it’s part of the publicity. And if I’m part of a religious group that hears all the time about how evil and immoral those baby-eating atheists are and how they are trying to destroy religion in America, I might interpret any sign that challenges me as an affront to my rights or beliefs. It’s not true, but consider the perspective and the background necessary for someone to think it’s true.

Simply saying “I can’t believe you are upset” isn’t actually addressing anything and we’re not contributing to positive outreach when we react this way – challenging religious beliefs in a religious population is a big deal. Even many atheists find FFRF ads offensive sometimes. [And before someone misunderstands me – I’m not advocating for the FFRF to stop their messages – I think the religious should be challenged in these ways given their self-assigned moral and societal superiority, even though I wish sometimes it was focused more positively towards atheists and less negatively towards religion.]

Patience is indicated when dealing with strong, culturally-rooted beliefs. I can’t figure out if people are saying these things (“I can’t believe people are upset”, etc) because they genuinely don’t understand or because they are being disingenuous and intentionally adding further challenge. If the former, some education is in order – we can’t expect to make gains in groups that we refuse to understand. If the latter, after the challenge has been issued, I’m not convinced that it’s constructive to then continue to flog the horse. We’ve got their attention, now it’s time for patient explanation – as exasperating as mindless offendedness is… Someone sensible is hopefully listening to the explanation.

VFX has gone too far

UPDATE: DPRJones and VFX have come to some sort of agreement. The details are here. Hopefully this will be the best scenario for VFX to end his destructive behaviour and each of them can move on with their lives. I certainly hope he can come to realize that although some people disagree with his worldview, that does not make them vicious monsters and he will stop spreading the message of hate. But I don’t necessarily support VFX’s request for people to remove videos about him so he can “move on”. It’s part of not repeating the mistakes of the past (as he indicated was his goal). Consequences: he haz them – his behaviour affected more people than just DPRJones. Being a new person and moving on involves accepting, not forgetting, past behaviour and giving people a opportunity to recognize new commendable behaviour. And being forgiven involves change and, if appropriate, consequences for bad behaviour.

See this video for another update from VFX and his dad.

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Over the past week or so, some shit hit the fan on YouTube. The user VenomfangX, famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for his videos supporting creationism and against atheism, has yet again filed false DMCA notices against several of his critics. He did this before against another YouTube user, Thunderf00t (of the Why People Laugh at Creationists series, among other things), who forced VFX to issue an apology and read a statement outlining his new understanding of DMCA law.

For a complete history of VFX’s shameful behaviour (not just the DMCA, but his other morally questionable actions) please see this detailed post by Skepacabra. I’ve also written before about his past behaviour, in which I expressed some pity for him – it’s getting much harder to feel that. More…

“New Atheism”, Blasphemy Day, and Christmas

I’ve weighed in on “new atheism” before and now I will again…in a meandering sort of way. I just read this article from NPR courtesy of a Twitter person that I can’t quite remember now (sorry) about the “Bitter Rift” dividing atheists. There’s a rift? I suppose there is. More…

Atheism in the military

The sermon was based on what he claimed was a well-known fact, that there were no Atheists in foxholes. I asked Jack what he thought of the sermon afterwards, and he said, ‘There’s a Chaplain who never visited the front.’ [Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus, pg. 182]

More…