Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Death Penalty

Cousin Don and I have been discussing the death penalty. We're both against it for various reasons. At the end of his email he inserts this line of nonsense:
As I said before, I believe as long as a person is alive, there is hope for them. I believe that God can work miracles and can redeem anyone at any time, thus there is always hope.

So I'm thinking: Do I respond to that or just let it go? He has to know that I think that statement is absurd and unfounded. I struggle with it for a day. This morning I decide to address his assertion in a polite and tactful way.
As an non-believer I have to wonder, while God can work miracles and redeem anyone at anytime, why he doesn't seem to do this very often. Why not just make the person good and bypass the costly trial and the horrible prison time?

The reason of free will doesn't make sense to me. If he gave us free will then why intervene at the most inopportune moments to insert his will? To teach us lessons about life? Why would that be necessary if he just interfered sooner and make us good, productive, happy people? And why do it for some people and not others?

It makes better sense without entering God into the picture. Some people are bad as a result of genetics or environment. (Sorry, I know this is very simplistic.) Sometimes these unfortunate people can be rehabilitated if they are mentally healthy and want to be helped. If religion helps them, great! Some people need that kind of structure and fear to help them be good people.

Others cannot be helped. They are damaged beyond repair, mentally handicapped, or criminally insane. Nothing reaches these people. God doesn't talk to them, or if he does he's not saying anything good or productive to help them. These are the tragedies of every society, of every country, and of every religion. My observation is if God is helping these people then his record is extremely poor.

If all criminals in prison were miraculously helped, then I would agree with your statement. I would believe in an intervening, benevolent God. But when it looks like he helps only some people and not others with no clear reason and no clear pattern, then it looks as if there is no such God; just a God who doesn't care, or no God at all. Logically that makes better sense.

I do think there are ways to decrease our prison populations. It involves better social programs and education. That's extremely simplistic, but we have to start somewhere.


I'll post his response.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

FCD stands for...

Friends of Charles Darwin. You can join here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

New Freethought Podcast

From American Freethought, a new podcast and blog. I've listened to the first four podcasts and I find John C. Snider and David Driscoll very thoughtful and thorough in their subject matter. I also like that they have a very positive spin on their atheism, something I think we need more of in our community.

You can link from the above site to download to any MP3 player or search on iTunes under "freethought" to load to your iPod.

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I have.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thoughts on the Season

As much as Christmas irks me there are aspects of the season that I do like. I enjoy the parties, the food, and the spirits. And I love getting and giving non-extravagant presents.

Here's what I don't like: I don't like the religious aspect of a secular holiday where some people feel they have to impose on others a faith they do not share. I feel strongly that faith is a private matter that should stay in the homes, churches, and with friends and family who share said faith. I don't like the commercialization of the winter season. I'd rather donate all the money I spend on family and friends to a cause like "Doctors without Borders" or "Planned Parenthood."

I don't like the way my mother emphasizes Christmas by capitalizing CHRIST in the word. I makes me want to be a bad person and write it Xmas just for her to get upset.

That's it in a nutshell. I hope everyone has a safe and uneventful Xmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Strangest. Gift. Ever.

My mom gave me the first season of the Waltons on DVD. I'm wondering if there's a hidden message there.

And I was hoping for "Sex in the City." Damn.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

De-Godding Money

Last Monday I had the opportunity to teach my young niece the reason I de-god all my paper money. I usually take care of this task at home whenever I get change after spending already de-godded money, but this particular time my niece and my brother were with me and I needed to de-god a $10 bill in order to use it to pay for sushi.

My niece asked me why I was doing it and I jumped at the chance to teach her about the First Amendment of the US Constitution:
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I then explained that putting "God" on our money is our government establishing this as the preferred deity over all others in the world. Clearly a violation of this Amendment.

Later her father let her de-god some of his money.


It brought a tear to my eye!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Family emails at a minimum.

This weekend I will be attending a "get together" with my fundy sister and fundy preteen son, my fundy mother and Catholic husband (I'm 46, I refuse to call him my step-father), and my atheist brother and atheist family. With DH and me that makes 5 atheists and 4 Christians. Ah! We got them outnumbered!
I'd like to think that we can counteract the religious overtones of the event but I don't want to get my hopes up. Perhaps I can hope for the best and be happy with what actually happens. Unfortunately, when it comes to family, shit never seems to happen smoothly. Also, the older I get the more cynical about the religious I've become. I may be able to fake a good smile and be a "happy" gal but I always feel dirty in the end.

My reason for the lack of blogging: I'll be spending quality time with religious family members this weekend so I decided to lay low on the email until after the event. It's better for everyone that my apostasy isn't in recent memory. Some people I can talk to about this subject but not my sister or mother. It'll get ugly and someone is bound to lose an eye.

So hold tight, after January 1 I'll be writing more and getting great material.

Culling them out!

Science Debate 2008. At least we can expose the Republicans for what they are: Ignorant buffoons and right wing nut mouthpieces.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Crazy Christians!

Wow. This and this. The irony!

I think my head just exploded....

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mitt Romney is no friend of mine

I hope most of us got a chance to review Mitt Romney's speech on religion. There is no comparison to the speech that JFK gave in Houston promising to uphold separation of state and church.

I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement:

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."


I'm not religious and yet I experience freedom and commune with nature. Curious. Also, he seems to forget countries where freedom and religion do not endure together: Saudi Arabia and Iran to name only two. We can look back on the Dark Ages to see how Christianity stifled human freedoms. We don't even need to go back that far: women's suffrage is a prime example of how Christianity was used to keep women from voting; a right we now take for granted.

He also says:

"There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it's more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs."


This is the only time he mentions Mormon in this speech. He knows this religion will sound crazy if mainstream Americans find out too much about it, so he focuses only on the fact that he believes in Jesus. But did you know he doesn't believe in the Trinity? Google Mormon and learn about this cult and be very afraid.

Again he says:

"But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It's as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism. They are wrong."

Sorry, but Mitt is so very wrong here.

From Dictionary.com:

sec·u·lar /ˈsɛkyələr/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[sek-yuh-ler] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective 1. of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.
2. not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred): secular music.
3. (of education, a school, etc.) concerned with nonreligious subjects.
4. (of members of the clergy) not belonging to a religious order; not bound by monastic vows (opposed to regular).
5. occurring or celebrated once in an age or century: the secular games of Rome.
6. going on from age to age; continuing through long ages.


We have freedom of speech in this country and anyone can say or do anything anywhere. Secularism is not a religion and he seems to forget that our Constitution is a secular document and that our founding fathers were secularists. Our secular government was designed not to interfere with religion and vice versa. This has nothing to do with what we can or cannot do in public life. He is so wrong here that it boggles the mind!

"Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: Does he share these American values -- the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another and a steadfast commitment to liberty?"


Article 6 of the US Constitution: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

As I have pointed out in earlier letters, being religious doesn't automatically make you a good person. Being non-religious doesn't either. Being a good person makes you a good person, regardless of what religion you consider yourself or god you choose to worship. We all have the ability for much goodness and much evil. Mitt Romney has said in another speech that we all have freedom of religion but not freedom from religion. This makes no sense; for us to have freedom to do something you also have to have the freedom not to do something.

What Mr. Romney is doing is pandering to people who are not knowledgeable about the US Constitution and the US Government. He's taking advantage of people who don't have the privilege of knowing what he knows about government. In other words, he's lying to us. (Oh no! He's a religious man, he wouldn't lie!) He knows that this very large voting group gets very emotional about religious issues such as creationism, stem cell research, and same sex marriage and will come out in large numbers to vote for God. If pastors and ministers were really interested in the truth they would strive to educated themselves and help their flocks to understand our secular government. It is in your best interest, not just mine, to keep religion separate from our government.

/end of rant

Friday, December 7, 2007

Atheist Charities

Techskeptic has done us all a huge service by providing a list of atheist charities. If you get that feeling to pass on a little money to a good cause we now have lots of choices.

Another email hoax from unsuspecting Xians

I just received another email hoax that attempts to paint Christianity in a better light than Islam. (For the record I find them equally as offensive.) It's about a man named Rick Mathes that deliberately lies about an event he said he participated in within the prison system. Read this to find out what really happened when someone traces the real origins of the story.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Allah or Jesus?

In the email I received Mr. Mathes attempts to use scare tactics by claiming that Islam is the fastest growning religion in the US. It may be true across other parts of the world, but it's the non-religious that are gaining popularity here. Which one should they be more afraid of I wonder?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The F Bomb

I was over at No More Hornets reading his post on his tribute to the word FUCK.

I personally love using the word! I'm a petite woman with bright blue eyes and a pretty smile so when I say "fuck" in the course of a conversation people perk up. I especially like it when I can get a laugh out of a serious subject with a well placed expletive or defuse a tense situation with a nicely timed f-bomb.

I have to be careful because sometimes I can lose an audience by using the word for personal gratification. I also have to be keenly aware of the nature of my audience; saying "fuck" to my grandmother wouldn't prove a point and would get me an ass chewing. Doing it during dinner with my mother, sister, niece and nephew probably isn't going to win me awards either.

Over the years I've perfected my timing and I'm proud to say I haven't had a bad screw up in many months!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New videos on Beyond Belief 2007


I've been waiting for weeks for these to be uploaded. I can't wait to view them!

Monday, December 3, 2007

I still have dog problems

I've got a very weird problem next door. My neighbor has let her bull mastiff dog stay outside when she leaves in the evening around 6:00 pm. This time of the year it gets dark around 5:30 so this poor dog sits by the gate and howls non-stop until she gets back past 9:00. (This means that he is less than 20 feet from the office where Al works when he gets home.) I let it go for the first few times because it's the neighborly thing to do, but after the 3rd time it became obvious this was only going to get worse unless it was pointed out to her.

The day after a particularly bad evening of over 3 hours of constant baying I caught my neighbor outside and mentioned it to her. I suggested she keep the dog inside when she leaves to which she stressed to me that it would be cruel to keep a 135 lb dog inside for all that time. In other words, I was dismissed as not being as important as a dog. I was floored.

It wasn't every night but on the 3rd evening during the same week I had enough. I called the security guard to find out what recourse I had. To make a very long story short, the guard contacted the home owners association about my call, who contacted her to let her know a neighbor complained about her dog.

Just as I figured all hell broke loose. I tried to talk to her a few days later but she cried hysterically and screamed at me that we should have just gotten used to the dog like everyone else. She actually looked insane as she was shouting at me.

Unfortunately this woman is going though some tough times. She and her husband are ex-pats and her husband as been transferred out of the country. She doesn't want to join him and believes she can stay here while he remains overseas. I suspect, but have no proof, that she is also having martial problems. Now she blames me for everything bad that is happening in her life and is telling all the neighbors how horrible I am. It's sad actually. I've decided to rise above and not mention it to anyone who knows both of us. Even if asked I'm going to state that I'm not at liberty to discuss this subject.

Keep in mind that DH and I have always been good neighbors. I have kept her 3 pet mice on at least 4 different occasions for over a week at a time. When her kid throws a ball over the fence I'm always pleasant when asked to retrieved it. I almost got bit by a cotton-mouth in her backyard when she asked me to come by to identify the snake for her. She has asked and I have given advice on many occasions and have thought of her as a friend. I have always thought the dog was too big for her but I never said as much. So you can imagine how disappointed I am to be so thoroughly dismissed just because I couldn't get used to a baying dog.

Another point. As everyone knows, we have only been in this house for 2-1/2 years. Previously we lived in a house that backed up to a very busy road. One which was very noisy. Very large trucks, thumping music, police and fire trucks all in a day's time. It was disturbing to the psyche. The number one reason we bought this house in this location is because it was quiet and peaceful. We should not have one day of having to listen to a nuisance barker especially since he wasn't here when we bought the house and we didn't force that woman to buy that dog. We don't live in a trailer park and shouldn't have to be subjected to that kind of mentality.

Based on her reaction to all of this I'm glad this has happened. It's been very quiet around here. She believes that I can have her precious dog taken away so she is doing everything she can to keep him from barking and howling. Added bonus: she won't be calling me to remove poisonous snakes from her yard anymore! I guess it's not a problem anymore.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Church/State Issue Resolved in Houston

First from the KPRC Channel 2 News web site:

Supreme Court Refuses Houston Courthouse Bible Lawsuit

HOUSTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review lower court rulings that a monument outside a courthouse featuring the Bible should be removed and that Harris County must pay the legal fees for the woman who sued over the monument.

Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford had asked the high court to vacate a ruling by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, who sided with a woman who sued in 2003 claiming a monument featuring the King James version of the Bible was offensive.

Second from Americans United:

High Court Refuses To Re-open Religious Symbol Case

A dispute over the display of an open Bible at a Texas courthouse came to an end today when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the case.

The legal battle centered over a display in front of the Harris County Courthouse. Originally erected in 1956 by a Christian charity to honor William S. Mosher, a Houston businessman and philanthropist, the memorial is a glass-topped case housing an open Bible lighted by neon.

“Courthouses are not the place for religious symbols,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Government should never send a message that a person’s belief about religion is a factor in a hall of justice.”

The Houston Chronicle had the same article as the Channel 2.

Yeah! The good guys have won!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Praying for rain - Response by Atheists

Astrology anyone?

This actually happened to me yesterday.

I'm at a Starbucks drive thru ordering my usual triple grande latte. The girl taking my order is sweet and cordial but in the background I can hear someone cutting up and mocking my answers. It's obvious she's doing it for fun and I smile at the the easiness she seems to have in her humor.

When I get to the window there are two girls running the register. One is serious and hands me my coffee, the other is dancing, smiling, and singing. She's the one who was mocking me! In good humor I told her I could hear her in the speaker. She covered her mouth in surprise and apologized while flashing a huge grin at me. In response, while flashing an equally huge grin back, I said it was no problem and was quite fun listening to her. Immediately she asks me if I'm a Scorpio. Being a skeptic I know her chances of guessing my zodiac sign is 12 to 1, so you can imagine my surprise that she guessed it right!

Anyway, she was a Scorpio too and seemed to think since I found her funny and also showed a little humor that I must be too. With no time or interest in explaining why astrology is silly, I chalked the experience up to a good time had by all. It was fun!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I'm grateful for

Here in the States on the fourth Thursday in November we have a holiday called Thanksgiving. It supposedly dates back to the 1600's or earlier when the Pilgrims came to America and needed help from the native American people. We celebrate that event by eating tons of food with family or friends and watching football on television.

Another custom, not practiced by everyone, but done by many is giving thanks or revealing what one is grateful for. It's another excuse to grovel for God and my family is no exception. God was always the No. 1 reason for being thankful and grateful. Every year it's like this and every year I write something like this:

I wanted to write what I'm thankful for as well. As I grow older I find I'm thankful for the wonderful genes my parents passed down to me. At 46 I'm still very active and able to play tennis within carefully thought out parameters. I'm reasonable healthy but feel the effects of gravity and over use everyday, so I'm thankful to the scientists that have designed drugs to allow me to continue to be physical relatively pain-free.

Here's the big one. You can equate this to your gratefulness in God. I'm very grateful for my husband and the hard work he does to allow us to live the way we do. He has very carefully managed his education, his time, and his energies to maximize his earning potential. I am aware of this situation and help to make this possible for him by keeping our household as stress free as possible. In other words, I'm not a drama queen.

I'm also grateful for the many friends I have that keep me honest. What I mean by that is my friends are intellectually stimulating and keep me from getting lazy in my skeptical thinking. I want to thank Sheila (a distant cousin) for being a friend in spite of our differing religious views. I'm grateful that you didn't stop emailing me and realize that being an atheist doesn't mean I'm a bad and evil person. I admire the strength of your faith and your willingness to talk about it without getting defensive. I know it's been difficult at times but you hung with me and I'm happy and grateful to call you my friend. We have both benefited from this wonderful relationship and it gives me hope for the future. Thanks!

I'm grateful for a great many other things too. Too many to account for here.

Peace and have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is God?

Religion is supposed to be comforting to those who believe. This does not provide comfort but manipulates those who suffer with fear and misery. I found this truly disgusting beyond words.

Also I found it weird that Goldie Frances is not the real name of the person who wrote this article and it was changed for "security reasons." First this God kills people and send them to hell just because they were born in the wrong place and now the writer feels he/she needs to be anonymous because God can't protect him/her.

This is one of many reasons I don't believe. This god makes no sense to me.

The arrogance in this article was sickening beyond belief.

Their prayer: that faith in Christ follows cyclone
By Goldie Frances*
Nov 19, 2007

Bangladeshis left homeless by the Nov. 15 cyclone wait for relief goods at the village of Maithachomohoni in the country’s southern coastal area. The official death toll is 3,100 and climbing, and, as one media worker noted, "Untold numbers of survivors were in urgent need of food and water in ... one of the poorest areas of the world.

More.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What would you do?

The scenario: My next door neighbor has a 2 year old bull mastiff that weighs 135 pounds. "Sam" was diagnosed early with hip dysplasia which was very expensive to fix. My neighbor Mary loves this dog as if he were a human and refers to him in human terms. She is also moving in 4 weeks to Qatar.

The problem: When she is gone in the evening she leaves the dog outside because "it is cruel to leave a dog that size in the house by himself." He howls and barks nonstop until she gets home several hours later. Constantly from 6:30 PM to 9:15 PM at least 3 nights a week, but it seems much more than that.

What I've done so far: I like Mary a lot. She's nice and sweet and she's on my tennis team. She's very weird about animals, giving them human feelings and emotions, which is the problem. After one bad night when the dog was out past 10:00 PM I had to let her know the barking was unacceptable. Since then she's been good about getting him in the house before 10 PM, but now, since daylight savings time, and it's dark here around 5:15, the barking is worse.

Tonight I called security (we live in a gated community with a roaming guard) and asked what to do. You see, I don't want to get the community association or the sheriff involved but I needed to know what my options are if she doesn't comply, which I don't think she will for reason mentioned above. Worse case scenario is calling the sheriff and having her fined. Perhaps I'll just have to mention that fact to her.

Updates in the future.

Church rejects interfaith service on its property

Hyde Park Baptist says it didn't realize Muslims were leading annual Thanksgiving event.
By Eileen Flynn
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, November 16, 2007

Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, the city's largest interfaith organization, announced Thursday that its annual Thanksgiving celebration Sunday had to be moved because Hyde Park Baptist Church objected to non-Christians worshipping on its property.

The group learned Wednesday that the rental space at the church-owned Quarries property in North Austin was no longer available because Hyde Park leaders had discovered that non-Christians, Muslims in particular, would be practicing their faith there. The event, now in its 23rd year, invites Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Bahais and others to worship together.

Organizers had booked the gymnasium at the Quarries in July and made the interfaith aspect clear to Quarries staff at that time, said Simone Talma Flowers, Interreligious Ministries' interim director.

Several Muslim groups were acting as this year's hosts for the event. Kent Jennings, associate pastor of administration at Hyde Park, released a statement Thursday that said church leaders received a postcard about the service Monday and only then realized that it "was not a Christian oriented event."

The postcard also "promised space for Muslim Maghrib prayer and revealed that the event was co-hosted by the Central Texas Muslimaat, the Forum of Muslims for Unity, and the Institute of Interfaith Dialog," according to Hyde Park's statement.

"Although individuals from all faiths are welcome to worship with us at Hyde Park Baptist Church, the church cannot provide space for the practice of these non-Christian religions on church property," the statement said. "Hyde Park Baptist Church hopes that the AAIM and the community of faith will understand and be tolerant of our church's beliefs that have resulted in this decision."

Central Texas Muslimaat and Forum of Muslims for Unity are local Muslim nonprofit groups that promote charitable works and education. The Institute of Interfaith Dialog holds regular interfaith gatherings that aim to teach non-Muslims about Islam.

With hundreds of people expected to attend and only a few days to find another site, Muslim organizer Shams Siddiqi said they couldn't find another facility. That's when leaders at Congregation Beth Israel, Austin's largest synagogue, offered to host the celebration.

"Symbolically, that's a very good thing," Siddiqi said of the joint Jewish-Muslim endeavor.

Of Hyde Park's decision, he said it was "unfortunate that people still feel this way in this day and age."

Some Christians object to praying with people of other faith backgrounds or allowing those people to worship in their sanctuaries.

Hyde Park Baptist, an evangelical megachurch at West 39th Street and Speedway, is not a member of Interreligious Ministries, and church leaders were not planning to participate in the service, Flowers said.

Every year, a different faith group hosts the Thanksgiving event, which typically includes food, prayer, song and dance. Last year, St. Louis Catholic Church hosted. This year, because the Muslim groups did not have their own space that was large enough, they decided to rent the Quarries, a 58-acre property near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and Duval Road that the church has owned since 1984.

Flowers said she was disheartened by the church's decision. "As a Christian, my first response is, what would Jesus do in this situation?" she said.

She also stressed the importance of respecting all beliefs and said Beth Israel's involvement is a blessing.

"They said, 'It's an honor to be able to provide the space, especially knowing our co-hosts are Muslims,' " Flowers said.

Synagogue leaders said they would arrange space for Muslims to make their evening prayers, Flowers said. "What a great testimony of inclusion."

My Daemon

Monday, November 12, 2007

Stirring it up again

That last post was pretty creepy, wasn't it. We don't have much contact with this side of the family but it's obvious there's some serious mental problems there. Even knowing that this cousin is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet the religious stuff will creep you out quick. She's helped us out of a few minor jams and was always willing to go that extra mile, but the religious stuff gets too much for me in a very short amount of time. Fifteen minutes is all I can take. It's bad.

I've been stirring it up again with my relatives. The latest question I asked was what is a "child of god?"

The answer, no surprises:

I believe everyone is a child of God. I try to respect everyone as a child of God. When I disagree with someone I try to remember that they are a child of God and treat them as such. Sometimes I am more successful at this than other times, but it is what I believe.

My response:

(Please read this in a light airy tone. I'm trying not to be too serious.)

But there is no scripture in the Bible that supports this notion. How do you know that everyone is a child of God? Just because you believe it doesn't make it so. I will say that I do understand why you feel this is the right thing to do. It feels moral to you.

I suspect that this is an expression that is left to each individual to interpret. I've heard it several times and I bet if I ask each person to tell me what it means to them I'd get a slightly different answers from each person.

I'm not saying that it's wrong. I'm just saying that should raise some red flags about some aspects of your religion.

I can remember the song "Jesus loves you" from my brief stint in Sunday School before the age of 7. It scared the living daylights out of me. Even at 7 I knew he had been dead for a very long time so there was no way anyone could know that he loved me. It was creepy to me, even at that age.

This is how I feel whenever anyone says "Jesus loves me" or "God loves me" or she's a child of God. How do you know? The concept of God being so mysterious that we can't know him, yet this kind of thing being assigned to him by mere mortals is troubling to me. How do you guys keep it all together?

Faith is a weird concept to me. To much to keep track of. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?)

More email from family

This time it's from my husband's side of the family. It's seriously creepy.

The names have been changed to protect the delusional from God.

Dear Family and Friends,

This is one fast way to get the news to many of you. We praise the Lord for the gift of a son to Mike and Debbie. John was born late last night and weighed in at 8.5 lbs. Thank you for your many prayers over the months. As my mother said,
"It's a miracle!" Truly this is.

John is beautiful and doing well. Please keep Debbie in your prayers for her to gain her strength. May this new family be bonded in love to each other and to the Lord.

I must add a p.s. It is just great for the Lord to make me a grandmother as well!

We praise His Name for all His goodness to each one of us.

Blessings and love,
Sonia(Grammie or whatever they may choose to name me.)

It continues to amaze me when I get emails like this. The pandering to God is so horrible one wonders why a person would grovel in this way. It seems so immature and juvenile. How does this person face each day?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Islam, Christianity, and Women

A cousin of mine wrote to the family about how horrible Islam is in which he referred to several videos depicting beheadings, stonings, and hangings as punishment for acts like adultery, homosexuality, stealing, etc. Being that I have strong opinions about religion that are much different than the rest of my extended family I felt I needed to reply.

Sent this morning:

I haven't seen those videos Bart referred to but I have read about them. Islam, like Christianity, is a patriarchal religion. Since the beginning of human history men have controlled groups of people with fear, violence, and religion; often all three at the same time. Unfortunately Islam has yet to go through an enlightenment that Christianity experienced several hundred years ago.

A personal observation: I will never understand why women buy into any of these patriarchal religions. Men who lived hundreds of years ago (who wrote these so called Holy Books) were only interested in sex for procreation and thus treated women as property. Heaven forbid if the woman couldn't bear children or hold a viable pregnancy. Notice in the Bible that punishment for women is much higher for certain crimes such as adultery or rape (when a man rapes a woman she still gets punished, WTF?) than it is for men. One of the ways the Koran enslaves women is by putting the blame of rape solely on them. They are required to cover most of their skin and hair so men will not be tempted to ravage them. Imagine living in a community afraid that a toe might slip out of your shoe and a man (not related to you) might see this and have an overwhelming desire to have sex with you. It gets worse. Your male family members can kill you if you happen to fancy the wrong guy because that will dishonored the family.

I, for one, am grateful to live in a place where women have progressed to be almost equal to men. If it had not been for the maturation of Christianity in the last two hundred years we would be at the same place Muslim women are now. I know some of you are shaking your heads in disagreement but think about this: women weren't able to vote until 1920! Do you know the main reason for not giving us the vote before then? The Bible!

Elizabeth Cady Stanton says it best: The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman's emancipation.

It is worse for Muslim women.

Another cousin responded to Bart's email:

I agree with you that Islam is very evil, at least the radical part. Unfortunately, we can't not fight them. They started it. If they'd stay put and kill each other off there would be no problem. They are spreading their pernicious belief system all over the world. Either we stand and fight or I get ready to buy a burka! And that I refuse to do, so I'll be dead. I wish they would stay in the Middle East, but they're here and demanding Sharia Law in certain situations. Why should public money be used to put in Muslim footbaths in public restrooms? We truly can't have our cake and eat it too in this situation. I would love to see all our boys come home and be safe.

Yes, I agree that Islam is bad (the radical part too) and is in dire need of an enlightenment. I'm curious as to what it is you think they started? If you mean they attacked us first, be careful: they think we started it by occupying their holy lands. What better reason to attack us: God's blessing and paradise in the afterlife. What do you mean when you say we can't fight them? We are fighting them: in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our president claims "God told him to invade Iraq and attack Osama bin Laden's stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state for the Palestinians." How are we different from them?

Wearing a burka. If the Muslims did take over the United States, as highly unlikely as that may be, you bet your ass I'll be in a burka. I will not sacrifice myself for any religion and being alive, even in a burka, one can live to fight irrationality in the most subtle of ways. I would hope that all women would join me in that fight.

Islamic footbaths. If Christians get the Ten Commandments in schools and courthouses then Muslims have every right to request and get foot baths in public restrooms. This is the reason we cannot accommodate the religious in public and/or government areas. Our founding fathers were wise to put the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. You're right; we can't have our cake and eat it too. If Christians want to fight this kind of thing they have to practice what they preach.

BTW, I don't think Muslims should have foot baths in public restrooms for the same reason I don't think "In God We Trust" should be on our money and "under God" should be in our pledge. The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


End of rant.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

God in our State Government

Our state senator Dan Patrick sent us a newletter in which he complains about how he fought hard to keep spending down but met with great resistance. Then he writes this drivel:

Despite these disappointments, this session may have been the most successful session in history for Judeo-Christian values in Texas. I was honored to help lead the way along with other conservative leaders in both chambers. My first legislative success was to have the maxim "In God We Trust" displayed prominently over the Senate Chamber for the first time in Texas history. I also joined Representative Debbie Riddle in passing legislation that now inlcudes the words "under God" in our state pledge. Students will once again be able to invoke the name of their God at events, and the Bible can now be taught as an elective subject in our schools.

I was madder than $#@& and was provoked to write an email to the honorable Dan Patrick to give him an opinion he perhaps hadn't thought of:

I received your newsletter today and I must say I was appalled at your message. You claim to advocate fiscal responsiblity and yet spent our hard earned tax money to display a religious epigram in the Senate Chamber when clearly it is in violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. You wasted more of our tax dollars by putting religion into our state pledge and urge our youngesters recite this abomination.

I feel very strongly that teaching children about religion should be done in the privacy of their homes and churches and should not be a matter of state concern. I do not understand why you feel it is the state's responsiblity to expose our children to your religious values.

I pray you do not waste our hard earned money in this way again.

Thank you.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Starting a new book

We've had our usual SE Texas fall weather; cool at night in the lower 60's warming up to 80+ in the afternoon. Perfect. We all remind each other that this is why we love living in Texas, it's worth the 2 unbearably hot months in the summer. I even laid out in the sun for over an hour in a bikini! It was nice to get my beneficial dose of vitamin D.

I started reading a new book a few days ago. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Did you know that Charles Darwin never used the phase survival of the fittest? Here is what Wikipedia says:
Survival of the fittest is a phrase which is a shorthand for a concept relating to competition for survival or predominance. Originally applied by Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology of 1864, Spencer drew parallels to his ideas of economics with Charles Darwin's theories of evolution by what Darwin termed natural selection.

The phrase is a metaphor, not a scientific description; and it is not generally used by biologists, who almost unanimously prefer to use the phrase "natural selection" exclusively.

Why am I reading Origin of Species? I've read the Bible a couple times all the way through and felt the need to read the other book which changed the way we think about life and it's complexities. So far, I have to say, it makes much better sense than the Bible. The added bonus is there's no blood sacrifices, genocides, rapes, stonings, or dogma is this book. Just science.

There's another email going around that spreads misinformation by using Christianity to bring up intense, hateful emotions. It starts with a photo of several soldiers bowing their heads in prayer with a title that reads "What's wrong with this picture?' The misinformation is that the ACLU is trying to remove GOD from everything and everyplace in America. I urge each of you to go to their website at www.aclu.org and find out what this organization really does for Americans. I'm absolutely sure you will be shocked that a great organization that fights for civil liberties (which includes religious freedom) gets such a bad reputation from conservative Christians. If you don't have the time to find out the truth about the ACLU please don't contribute to nasty emails that spreads lies about something you know nothing about. I was taught by my mother that Christians value the truth but so far, with the spread of this and many other nasty emails about atheists and the ACLU, I can see that this value isn't a virtue anymore. /End of rant.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Religious Experiences

One reason for believing in God is the many religious experiences people have throughout their lives. I've actually had a few.

Over 20 years ago I attended the Unity Church here in Houston. It was one of those non-denominational Christian churches that isn't into the fire/brimstone hellfire sermons that I had been exposed to as a child in the Baptist Church. No, it was the touchy-feely, nice, Jesus was a wonderful person, sort of church and I really enjoyed for a short period of time. The reason I left is the subject for another post, but I did grow tired of the same old thing week after week and decided it wasn't for me.

Anyway, one day during the morning mediation, as a visiting lady minister was guiding our thoughts, I had a religious experience. A deep tingly feeling started at the top of my head and traveled quickly to the rest of my body. I ended up with tears flowing down my face wondering if I had felt God at that moment.

Here's the best part. I wanted to test it to make sure. I went to that same church for several weeks in a row, listening to a different minister but hoping for the same results. Never happened. For a second I actually entertained the thought that the lady minister was the cause of my feeling but I was sure God wouldn't work in such a focused way. I abandoned this line of thinking very quickly and stopped going to church altogether.

The good news is that I've been able to have that feeling several times over the past 20 years. One great way is through SEX! That's right: plain, old-fashioned, dirty sex. Another is driving over 100 mph with the top down in my Carrera on a cold December day. I got that feeling again seeing my grandson play violin for the first time in front of his family. Brought big ole tears to my eyes. It was great!

So the next time you have that God feeling just think, "Did I have that feeling last night as I was getting boinked?" I bet you did!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Who's the fool now?

That "joke" that was sent to me (April Fool Joke) which originated from a Christian relative really bothered me and I want to discuss why.

First I have to premise this by saying I was never a Christian. As a child I felt a disingenuousness in the church that prevented me from trusting it. Besides everyone knows that virgin births are impossible and I couldn't bring myself to believe. Christianity was what I was most familiar with so that's were I started when I felt I needed to belong somewhere. I started by studying different denominations of Christianity. I was familiar with the Southern Baptist denomination and knew that because of my past I would not be accepted by them. I looked into Methodist, Pentecostal, 2nd Baptist, etc. and that I couldn't buy into the rules and dogmas of these and other denominations. Reading the Bible, which every good Christian should do, confused me. After talking to a few ministers about my confusion I decided that if the Bible couldn't stand on its own it shouldn't be used as the handbook for Christianity. I also found out that most Christians don't read the Bible in it's entirety and cherry pick thru it, most times by just attending services, for their own values and morality. That really bothered me.

My next path was to study the Eastern Philosophies. Thru yoga I studied Buddhism and became familiar with the Seven Noble Truths and the path to enlightenment. Fortunately for me I also became familiar with the supernatural aspect of this religion and was disappointed in the departure from reality. I soon abandoned this area of study.

Another thing that I noticed as a child is the total uselessness of prayer and how random events were taken as an answer from God. As I child I was unable to separate the hits from the misses and noticed that the misses were totally ignored or taken as mysterious actions from God. Even as a child it made no sense to me.

As I abandon the Eastern Philosophies I noticed in my studies a particular group of people on the Internet said all the things that had been bothering me about religion. These were the freethinkers, agnostics, and atheists. I began to read about secularism and how the founding fathers consciously kept religion out of our Constitution because of the atrocities committed by theocracies of their day. I began to see that Christianity lies about many things to keep us ignorant and bound to the church. (Evolutionary biology is a huge target now and it's incredible the lies that Christians are buying into. It's sad and embarrassing. Unfortunately it's a testament to the reason the US is lagging behind countries such as China and Russia in medical science.)

Then our country was hit by a terrorist attack now known as 9/11. I listened to as people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwall claimed that we brought these attacks upon ourselves by being a secular nation. I listened as I found out these terrorists were extremely religious people who martyred themselves so they and their families would be assured a place in paradise by killing infidels. Religion was the common denominator and I sought to find out why.

This is how I became a non-believer. I wanted to know about Christianity and I found out many things about it that didn't add up. The more I discover about religion verses the natural world more the natural world makes better sense. Natural science as yet to provide proof of a supernatural force that created something as huge as the universe and something this powerful would leave evidence.

Dictionary.com defines fool as:
1. a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.
2. a professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement: the court fool.
3. a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid: to make a fool of someone.
4. an ardent enthusiast who cannot resist an opportunity to indulge an enthusiasm (usually prec. by a present participle): He's just a dancing fool.
5. a weak-minded or idiotic person.


I think we can all agree that these definitions are what most English speaking people would use when referring to a fool. The little you know about me, by these definitions, I am not a fool. And, I might add, my atheist friends are not fools either.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stupid email

What a nice thing to get sent from a relative. All this means to me is that this person is mean, vindictive, and uneducated. Please see this page for a rational explanation of this kind of misguided humor. (If you can't get to this link, cut and paste: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/atheist.asp)

Great Answer from the Judge

In Florida , an atheist became incensed over the preparation of Easter and Passover holidays. He decided to contact his lawyer about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while atheists had no holiday to celebrate.

The case was brought before a wise judge. After listening to the long passionate presentation by the lawyer, the Judge banged his gavel and declared 'Case dismissed!'

The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling and said, 'Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah... yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!'

The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said, 'Obviously your client is too confused to even know about, much less celebrate his own atheists' holiday!'

The lawyer pompously said, 'Your Honor, we are unaware of any such holiday for atheists. Just when might that holiday be, your Honor?'

The judge said, 'Well it comes every year on exactly the same date - April 1st! Since our calendar sets April 1st as 'April Fools' Day', consider that Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53 state, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.'
Therefore, in my opinion, if your client says there is no God, then by scripture he is a fool, thus April 1st is his holiday!'

PRAY THAT SOME DAY OUR COURTS WILL BE FULL OF THESE KIND OF JUDGES..... MAYBE THEN, WE CAN PUT GOD BACK WHERE HE BELONGS - IN EVERYTHING WE DO...

Way to go, Judge!

Fundy discussion on Arrogance

On a previous post in which I discussed Tony Snow's testamony and how it made him look arrogant, a fundy has decided that I'm wrong to attack his god belief. The last post she states:
arrogant? arrogant is someone who puts down a person who is going through cancer and someone who's dealing with all pain and suffering. it's somone who thinks there belief is better. i could argue the existence of God through science. it takes just as much faith to believe there is no God as to believe that there is. i just think before you put someone down you should know more about them. i'm angry too. i don't know why your dad had to suffer so much. I don't know why mine has to too. I do know that this world is full of suffering and pain, but also with happiness and Love. I hope in your journey you will find happiness and Love.

Typical fundy stuff. I felt inclined to answer in a gentle way:
Before you claim to know what being arrogant is please look it up in the dictionary. From dictionary.com:

arrogant - 1. making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud: an arrogant public official.

This doesn't say anything about putting people down. What you and Tony Snow are doing is claiming to be special and claiming that that specialness helped to cure the cancer or helped to comfort you thru the cancer. In making this claim it makes those who have gone thru the same situation with different results as not as special. That is what Tony and you are doing.

Please post claims that science makes to the existance of God. I have searched and searched but have not found these claims. Just because you wish it so does not make it so.

BTW, I'm not the angry one here. I realize my father died as a result of his lifestyle. Period. No deity decided that his grandchildren were going to be denied his presence and his lessons just because this make believe sky daddy decided that with billions of souls in heaven that my father was needed there as well. It's much simpler than that. Dad died because he smoked for a very long time and he was genetically predisposed for cancer. My niece knows this and isn't troubled by the notion that god took her grandfather for a mysterious reason that we can't fathom. What a horrible thing for a young person to have to carry!

What you decribed lastly is called the "Problem of Evil." Epicurus says it best:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?

-- Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

I have not attacked you or Tony Snow. In fact, I have wished you well and hope that you are finding good medical care. I have simply made an observation based on the above definition.

Please feel free to join the comments and help educated her.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Atheism's moral philosophy not consistent with Baylor's mission

Oct. 17, 2007

Article here.

I feel sorry for atheists. They are so much in the minority in American society and they are bound to feel some marginalization if not persecution.

Christians should be the last people to persecute anyone -- including atheists. But that doesn't mean Christians have to accommodate atheism as they tolerate and love atheists.

We have to recognize atheists' full freedom to believe God does not exist, but we don't have to embrace atheism as a social good. In fact, I would argue that atheism has no redeeming social value.

Atheism undermines values. How? Let's look at care for others. Yes, an individual atheist might care for other people. But when have you heard of an entire atheist organization serving the poor, the sick or the hungry?

So far, at least, atheists haven't demonstrated their concern for others in any organized way.

But more importantly, atheism undermines values such as care for others because it cannot explain why anyone should care for others. If there is no God or anything at all above nature, then nature is all there is. The law of nature is survival of the fittest. Why help the less fit survive unless there is a God who loves them because they are created in his image?

What argument can atheism marshal against "might makes right"?

Many atheists argue that caring for others can be encouraged based on self-interest.

But what answer can an atheist give (that is consistent with atheism) to the question, "What if I figure out a way to be personally happy and fulfilled while oppressing other people?"

There is no answer to that without appeal to someone transcendent to whom we are all accountable.

And atheism has no answer to social Darwinism -- the idea that society should not help the weak because it's nature's way to weed out the less fit.

Helping the weak goes against nature and if nature is all there is, well, why should we fight it? A person might choose to, but not because of any transcendent, objective obligation (such as that all persons are created in God's image).

Not only does atheism undermine values; it also undermines meaning. I'm talking about meaningful reality -- life with meaning and purpose.

German theologian Hans Küng wrote Does God Exist? An Answer for Today. In it, the maverick Catholic thinker argued that atheism can provide no basis for "basic trust" in the meaningfulness of reality.

The only logical option for the atheist is nihilism -- belief that nothing has any objective meaning or purpose.

Küng admitted that atheism is a rational "basic choice" and it cannot be proven wrong in any kind of absolute way.

But most atheists demonstrate their basic trust in the meaningfulness of reality by being outraged at evil and injustice, thereby demonstrating that atheism cannot be lived out consistently.

What makes something evil or unjust if nothing like God exists -- if nature is all there is? Only subjective choice either by an individual or a society. But that can change and it often does. Without God, the social prophet has no way out of relativism.

Baylor and universities like it exist to promote objective values and meaningful existence.

For them atheism is not benign, but the enemy -- even if atheists themselves are not.

Finally, let me repeat that I have nothing against atheists as persons and neither does Baylor University.

But in my opinion, they are people of character and virtue in spite of their philosophy of life -- not because of it.

Dr. Roger Olson is a professor of theology in George W. Truett Theological Seminary.


This article and many others like it is why we atheists are misunderstood by Christians. Dr. Olson and many other Christians who feel compelled to write misinformation such as this don't personally know any atheists and have imagined that atheists are marginal people at best. I know many, many atheists and many, many theists and there isn't any real moral difference between these two very diverse groups of people.

Here's a small sampling of this man's mistakes and how I feel about them.

This guy says "So far, at least, atheists haven't demonstrated their concern for others in any organized way." There are many groups that atheists/secular humanists have formed: Freedom from Religion Foundation, Atheist Volunteers (I'm a member), Doctors without Borders (secular), and many others. Dr. Olson was too lazy to research and lies to prove a point.

Dr. Olson also says, "And atheism has no answer to social Darwinism -- the idea that society should not help the weak because it's nature's way to weed out the less fit." Dr. Olson's first mistake is to equate Darwinism with atheism. Being an atheist only means that we have no belief in God or gods. Period. We have no opinion, as a group, about Darwinism or social Darwinism. I personally find the idea of social Darwinism abhorrent and disgusting. I would never endorse anything Hilter or any other tyrant did in the name of racial purity or survival of the fittest. By the way, Darwin never used the phase "survival of the fittest." Evolution is about natural selection not "survival of the fittest." I would also add that Christianity has no answer to social Darwinism either.

Another lie Dr. Olson tells: Not only does atheism undermine values; it also undermines meaning. I'm talking about meaningful reality -- life with meaning and purpose. One of the most important aspect of being an atheist is that I know there is no afterlife. No singing with the angels, no eternal punishment from Satan. I'll be as nonexistent when I die as I was before I was born. Please, please give me proof of a heaven and I'll believe, but until then I live my life fully and give it lots of meaning until my last breathe of air and my last heartbeat. Atheists know that our lives have no meaning unless we make it meaningful. Just as every Christian does the best for each day she's alive, we do exactly the same, only without the promise of a reward/punishment in the end.

He ends his essay of lies by stating: But in my opinion, they are people of character and virtue in spite of their philosophy of life -- not because of it. Here's a surprise: I'm a good person because I'm an atheist. My morals don't come from an outdated book (the Bible) put together by a group of bishops in 325 CE just so Constantine could control the Romans. My morals, as I would argue that most of yours, come from wanting the best for me and my family and friends, for my society and, I might add, the world. My actions are guided by those wants and I give a tremendous amount of thought into why I feel this way.

An example of my morals verses Christian morals and the reasons behind this can be shown in the pro-choice/pro-life debate. I am pro-choice. When researching the arguments for and against abortion one finds that in countries where abortion is illegal women are still getting them in large numbers and many of them have died or suffered serious medical problems resulting from a "back ally" or self-induced abortion. Letting our country get to the state where a woman's reproductive health is in jeopardy is immoral. Instead of trying to make abortion illegal we should be making birth control and sex education more available and arming our daughters with information instead of scary religious dogma. This will make them more aware of how to prevent pregnancy, but will also give them a safe environment in which to obtain an abortion should they need it. Would you rather have your daughter alive and healthy or dead? Yeah, me too.

As you can tell, this article hit a nerve with me. It's bad enough that I get told what a good Christian I am every now and then, but I'm not a bad person because I'm an atheist. This man was arrogant because of his Christianity and condensing to atheists because he feels he has the moral high ground. What's sad about this is he wrote this article without a hint of research which basically means he lied. He lies for Jesus and he feels smug about it. Shame on him.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Will start blogging again soon...

I've been suffering from a head cold for about 10 days and haven't felt any inspiration for writing. Hopefully this thing will be gone soon and I can resume my writing again. I do miss it. Until then enjoy this essay by Greta called Atheists and Anger. The comments and follow up are excellent as well. I found myself nodding in agreement with much that she is angry about and able to organized my thoughts around them. Perhaps I'll write on what I'm angry about someday when I'm feeling alot better.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Select a Candidate quiz

I'm not sure how accurate this quiz is but these are my choices in order:

Chris Dodd
Score: 49
Agree:

Iraq, Immigration, Taxes, Stem-Cell Research, Health Care, Abortion, Line-Item Veto, Marriage, Death Penalty

Disagree

Social Security, Energy


Hillary Clinton
Score: 42
Agree
Iraq, Immigration, Taxes, Stem-Cell Research, Health Care, Abortion, Line-Item Veto, Marriage

Disagree

Social Security, Energy, Death Penalty

Barack Obama
Score: 42
Agree

Iraq, Immigration, Taxes, Stem-Cell Research, Health Care, Abortion, Line-Item Veto, Marriage

Disagree

Social Security, Energy, Death Penalty

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Another Sam Harris article

I haven't read it yet but I wanted to get it out there for you to read.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Taking God out of the Pledge

I wish I had been more aware of the separation of state and church at this young age. I admire these young freethinkers in Boulder, Colorado for speaking their mind and doing something about it. What I don't understand is the idea that these young people might be facing disciplinary actions as a result of actions based solely on the First Amendment of the US Constitution.



In this video is a young Senior states that if people don't like what the pledge says then they should just leave. WTF? Folks like this are ignorant of what the Constitution really says and means and why and, in my opinion, are purely evil and arrogant.

They are arrogant because they haven't looked at the world around them and seen that it doesn't revolve around the Christian worldview. They are arrogant because they refuse to see the beauty in our secular government and will only consider what they see out of their small Christian window. These are the reasons they are evil too.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How to Believe in God

Six Easy Steps

1. First, you must want to believe in God.
2. Next, understand that believing in God in the absence of evidence is especially noble.
3. Then, realize that the human ability to believe in God in the absence of evidence might itself constitute evidence for the existence of God.
4. Now consider any need for further evidence (both in yourself and in others) to be a form of temptation, spiritually unhealthy, or a corruption of the intellect.
5. Refer to steps 2-4 as acts of “faith.”
6. Return to 2.

The rest of the article from Sam Harris at washingtonpost.com.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fear

We are all afraid of something. Sometimes our fears are rational but most times they are irrational and fed to us by our media and government. For example: more people die from bee stings than by shark attack but the media loves to talk more about sharks than bees. As a result you'll get people who will not go to the beach for a fear that is almost nonexistant.

Our government does this to us as well. Listen to Keith Olbermann tell us of the lastest fear:

In my opinion the fear of "they will attack us here if we don't attack them there" is unfounded with no evidence to back it up. Most people aren't going to get on the Internet to do the research and find out about these lies. I do my best by informing friends and family when I can and I was able to do this while visiting family in the Midwest last weekend. When this is revealed most people tend to agree that they are afraid of something based only on what they hear in sound bites on the news.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We're not the crazy ones

A video of the end of "Real Time with Bill Maher" where he states his "new rules." This idea that if a presidential candidate believes in a god then they should be held accountable by rational people. This is something I've noticed from my fundimentally religious family members; they tend to believe almost anything without critical thinking. They still think Bush is a great president who talks and gets moral advice from God daily. Sigh!

Enjoy the video:

Rationalists are a big enough minority to make a difference in the 2008 election. Let's make some noise!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cutest Picture ever!


Got back from our trip this afternoon and immediately had to download these pictures. This is my grand daughter riding the family's new quarter horse Jay.

My stepson's family is moderately religious and they know how we feel about religion. There was some comments about the high number of churches in the area, but other than that there were no uncomfortable moments.

It was a nice weekend and I'm glad to be back home.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I'll be gone for the weekend, spending time with family in the Midwest United States. It'll be a little cooler there so I must remember to pack a light jacket. The book I'll be taking is "Letters from the Earth" by Mark Twain. I've updated my iPod so I'm good to go.

Cya on Monday!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kathy Griffin on Larry King

Golden!

I love the way she is totally unscathed by the religionists and enjoying the controversy. She is now my new favorite comedian.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

God Bless You?

I received a letter this morning from a cousin which was a response to an email message I wrote about the death of my father. At the end she included this remark:

I know you don't believe in Him, but I'm asking God to bless you anyway!

WTF! I getting tired of those guys not getting it. Don't they know that this is insulting to atheists? Can they be that oblivious?

I wrote back:

Short story: My best friend says "Gesundheit" to me after I sneeze. (Which mean "health!" in German, not "God bless you" which is "Gott segnen dich.") She's a practicing Christian. We never talk about religion because she's aware that she has no argument against atheism and isn't interested in mulling over it. I respect that. Anyway, she told me that she respects my lack of belief in God and would not insult me by saying "God bless you!" when I sneeze. It amazed me how thoughtful she was and my regard for her increased. I didn't ask, but I suspect she doesn't pray for me either.

Just a thought.


I hope I was able to let her know in a tactful way that she could, with little effort, be respectful of my lack of belief. I bet this goes over her head.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sally Field Rules too!



Fox censored her remarks too. Feels like the Taliban is here among us....

Suck it, Jesus!

Give support to Kathy Griffin.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Bad

I haven't been blogging and I have no excuse. Seems I've been busy with something called life; or more specifically, my life. I've got some letters and responses from my fundie relatives that I'll share along with thoughts about life in general.

I posted earlier today about it being the third anniversary of my father's death. It isn't something I've been dwelling on and I probably wouldn't have remembered if my mother hadn't written about it in the family email. Something about Dad singing praises to Jesus. That creeped me out. Shudder!

I don't see any reason to recognize anniversaries that celebrate death events or wars. Glorifying them in this way seems hideous to me and only serves to encourage more of these events. In the case of my father's death, the first year recognition was appropriate and helpful with closure, but going beyond is not necessary. At least not to me.

I think he would've agreed with me.

The Anniversary of a Death

Today is the third anniversary of my father's death.

My dad wasn't a great man or a well known man. He was pretty average. Spending 20 years in the Navy, moving his family from state to state every few years, he did what he could to make life comfortable for his wife and three children. He was born to a generation which viewed smoking as the cool thing to do. When smoking was discovered to be very harmful his generation so firmly entrenched in it's unforgiving addictive clutches many could not get out. My father was one of those people. He enjoyed his smoking and didn't quit until he had to.

My father never struck me as a religious person. This was in direct contrast to my mother. He was the stabilizing force within the family while Mom was out there with Jesus. He taught his children to always walk with our head up, to show people that we weren't afraid. He taught us to agree to disagree when appropriate and to think for ourselves. He also taught us to always question authority, an attribute which helped me overcome my religious indoctrination. I admired him because he was his own man and did within his limited ability to provide for his family.

Fast forward to April 2004. He had been nursing a persistent cough for several months so his primary care doctor finally gave him a chest x-ray. This revealed a huge tumor in the top of his right lung. On September 16, 2004 he passed away after suffering through a very short time of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He died early that morning in my sister's living room with my mother sleeping close to his side.

It seems so long ago. Sometimes I think, "Did it really happen?" I dream about him often and in my dreams I realize that he's gone forever and that I must make the most of seeing him in this way. He seems not to care that he's dead, although we don't discuss it, and he's always happy. When my dream ends I wake up sobbing; missing him so much. Although I'll never see him again, he lives on in my memories and in my heart. I am the person I am because of him, he was instrumental in the formation of my personality and my morals. I miss him very much and my best tribute to him is to be a good person and stand up for myself as he taught me. Although he might be disappointed that I'm an atheist, he would be proud that I exhausted all avenues of research before I came to this conclusion and that I'm still searching just to make sure.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

State/Church Separation issues

I've found this verse in the bible which supports keeping prayer out of the public arena. This means public schools, public courthouses, federal, state, and local governments, and many, many other places except your own room. It even says not to do it in synagogue, or church as the modern Christians call it.

Matthew 6 (New International Version)

5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


I would even argue that if "your Father knows what you need before you ask him" why pray to begin with. Seems praying doesn't change anything.

But I digress.

Secularists, such as myself, do not want to take prayer or worship away from people. This is a myth perpetrated by the Religious Right for some unknown reason. The freedom of religion is clearly stated in the First Amendment of the Constitution. You are free to pray at home, in church, in your car, etc. The only places where this is in violation of the same First Amendment is public, government, and places that are maintained with tax payer money. The reason is because the federal, state, and local government cannot show preference to any one religion. It is also a safeguard to keep the government out of church related activities and to prevent the church from influencing the government.

Are any of you familiar with Thomas Jefferson? He was a great visionary and one of the founding fathers of the United States. In 1802 he sent a letter to the Danbury Baptists, who were being persecuted because they did not belong to the Congregationalist establishment in Connecticut. Imagine, another Christian sect infringing on the rights of another Christian sect. In this letter Jefferson says:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

Pretty clear. Jefferson wasn't the only one who wrote about this. Madison himself also referred to the concept of a wall of separation. In a letter from 1819, he wrote that "the number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church and state." Madison wrote (probably early 1800s), "Strongly guarded...is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States.

I hope this helps to clear up any misconception about the reason secularists feel strongly about this issue.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Republican bites the dusk

We're getting lots of rain today. It was expected. I did manage to get a 3 set doubles tennis match finished before the rain and have an interesting discussion about religion with my friends. Seems I was in the company of liberal Christians and agnostics. We were discussing the apparent hypocrisy within the Republican party with this most recent news about Senator Craig from Idaho. You got to admit that it seems the party with the "Christian family values" platform seems to be having the most problem with scandals. Prostitutes, homosexual behavior, pedophilia; tsk, tsk. The Democrats haven't had a problem since Clinton got a BJ in the oval office. At least that was from a consenting adult of the opposite sex! If you think this Craig thing is overblown just remember how the Republicans treated Bill.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Reaction to CNN's God's Warriors - Christianity

To any Christians reading this blog: Do you feel comfortable letting any one of these different Christian denominations take over our government? What happens if the Catholics get the NE, the Methodists get the Midwest, the Baptists get the south, and the Episcopalians get the west? What side will you be on? How horrible is that war going to be? Don't be naive in thinking this won't happen. The Protestants and Catholics fought for years in Northern Ireland. There will be issues that start wars. If there is no war, how would you feel about having to move to the area where your religion is better represented? How do you feel about being put in jail for the thought crime of thinking a movie star or a member of the same sex is good looking or has a nice body? Or having the government censure a cool movie because of an obscure moral dilemma that the religious police feel we can't be exposed to? Who makes that decision? What if you feel the decision is unfair? How would you feel about going to prison for watching an illegal copy of said movie? How much time should a woman spent in prison for having an abortion? How about for an abortion after being savagely raped? Raped by her father? Gang raped? How much time should a doctor spend in prison for performing such an abortion? Which one of the 10 Commandments should be posted in classrooms and courthouses: the Catholic one or the Protestant one? Be careful not to offend the majority religion or you will go to prison. Just which Christian denomination provides the prayer in school? Should the Blessed Mother be included in these prayers, why or why not? Should we divide the Catholics and Protestants up for prayer and leave poor atheist Timmy in the hallway to be teased later? I have many, many more questions, but these should be enough to provoke some thought.

One of the biggest glaring problems I saw was the wealth associated with these Christian groups that are trying to interject their morality into our government. Didn't Jesus say....oh, never mind, I'm sure Christians feel it's irrelevant in this case. Where do you think this wealth comes from? Do any of you give to your church? How would you feel if you knew your money was being spent to force others to believe as you do? Why would you be OK with that? What if your religion wasn't the right one and you were being forced to adopt religious dogma you're uncomfortable with? Who makes that decision? You get the idea.

The power these people want is another glaring problem. As we all know power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These people want absolute power over every little aspect of our lives. When Lord Acton said this in 1870 he was referring to Pope Pius IX and the dogma of papal infallibility. As much as you may not want to believe it being a Christian doesn't make one immune to such corruption. We don't have to look far in our immediate past to see the evidence of this statement.

What have we learned by watching this show? The religious don't have the cornerstone on morality and it's been proven time and again it can't be legislated. (Alcohol Prohibition in the 1920's as one example.) What is it that these people really want? It's simple: money and power, and tight control over me and you and our thoughts. Perhaps you'll be happy in such a world, but I suspect once it becomes clear what these people want under the guise of morality and family values you'll see a backlash like one that has never happened.

One thing I was disappointed about after watching this show was the lack of reaction from non-religious people. I really wanted to hear from the other side; the rational, secular humanist side that values the rights of each individual including the freedom of and from religion and right to privacy. Just from listening to what these religious leaders were saying about secularists we are hugely misunderstood. Not only are we misunderstood, but in some cases your religious leaders are lying to you about us. People like us include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and many others. These people were not Christians and they were not atheists; they were great men with a vision of keeping government from influencing our churches and our churches from influencing our government. It goes both ways. This great vision is under attack and we need to stop powerful Christians from turning our government into a theocracy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Response!

My cousin finally answered my email. It's a typical response from a typical Christian. You'll see what I mean:

I was shocked and hurt by your statement above. I said what I did intending it to be a humourous statement in much the same way my mother would say she never contemplated divorce but had thought of murder. My mother was not serious and neither was I. I HATE conflict of any kind and will go out of my way to avoid it. My faith in Christ is teaching me to deal with conflict with love and understanding, rather than avoid it. I have never had anyone tell me I am angry/violent until you did.

What is it about Christians that you always look for the worst?

In Christ's love,
Your Cousin

This is my response:

I don't know you or your mother personally and I didn't know that you and your mother are not serious people. I really thought you were being honest and I wanted to know why you felt this way. No offense was meant, just simple curiosity.

Your question really doesn't make sense but I'll try to answer what I think you might be asking.

The beef I have with some Christians is that they don't seem to objectively look at reality. Most things are filtered thru an ancient, outdated holy document and it leaves the Christian saying and doing irrational things. For example: it has been proven that homosexuality is not a choice, yet just because the bible says it's an abomination a lot of Christians oppose same-sex marriage. Rationally, it makes no sense to keep these basic rights from a group of people based only on suggestions made by ancient Jewish men more than two thousand years ago. It also makes no sense in light of the evidence that people should keep this opinion. I say if you don't like same-sex marriage then don't marry someone the same sex as you.

There are the same prohibitions on eating shellfish but I don't see Christians protesting shrimping or serving the delicious crustacean at restaurants.

Another flaw I see in some Christians is the ability to be offended very easily. In all the discussions I've had with you and the others I have yet to be offended. I guess the reason is the information I rely on can stand on it's own merit. You can take it or leave it. I really don't care. Christianity on the other hand calls on you to defend the religion. The Bible demands it of you. It's a personal attack if I criticize God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit and as a small child you are taught to defend this personal relationship. This is what it seems to me based on reactions I've gotten from many Christians. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Now, I do know many Christians that don't behave in this way. Many of my Christian friends are liberals who feel strongly that gay people should have the same right to marry the person they love just as straight people do. Many feel strongly that women should have the right to do with their bodies as they see fit. This is a basic right to privacy. If you don't like abortions then don't get one. Others feel it's a shame our president can't overcome religious bias to help people in the future with stem-cell research. Many more feel our Christian president lied to us to go to war with Iraq and we should get out now. Those are the Christians that have given careful thought to what their religion says and how it should be applied to the modern, real world. Perhaps it's as our other cousin says, they are not real Christians. What do you think?

Sincerely,
Summer


Several things I found wrong with her response. First is her immediate defensiveness and attempt to place the blame of ad hominim on me. Her email to me in which she states if she were God she would've killed human beings many times over should have been prefaced with the statement "Oh, I'm only joking!" We have never joked with each other in the course of our emails so there was no reason for me to assume she was attempting to be funny.

Another thing that bothers me about her email how she ends it "In Christ's love." She knows I'm an ardent atheist and that this phrase is meaningless to me, so I can only assume she's feeling pretty superior and ignores the fact that there's a way to end a note where both of us are happy, such as the way I ended mine.

One more thing about her response; she completely ignores the last email and focuses only on how hurt she is. Oh, the humanity!

I'm beginning not to like her very much.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Response from last letter

It's been several days since I wrote my fundy cousin and I still haven't received a response from her. As with most difficult questions I believe fundies will dismiss them as being unanswerable from their point of view, or perhaps they honestly think that Satan has possessed me and to engage in a discussion is a sure way of inviting evil into their lives. I'd like to think my last letter struck a real nerve as to how immoral her thinking is to say if she was God she would've killed us several times over already. Simply amazing that such a loving religion could invoke such a violent response.

Enemies of Reason


This video by Richard Dawkins is about people who believe in such superstitious things as astrology, psychics, and new age spirituality. I like it that he's focusing on other crazy belief systems other than religion. Perhaps an unsuspecting religious person will see themselves in this video but I suppose that would be asking too much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Killing humans many times over?

A fundy relative and I were discussing the Bible and I realized she wasn't nearly as familiar with it as I was. I revealed to her that I had read it twice and was curious as to how many times she had read it. Here is her answer and some commentary which I found scary:
I have read through the entire Bible once, and sections from every book in the Bible another time. I hope that when I finally get totally retired and moved that I can read through it again.

After reading through it the first time I was awed by how patient God has been with people throughout the ages. If I were God I would have wiped out human beings many times over!!!
I shouldn't be surprised by her comments anymore. They seem spontaneous and without thought. I can't imagine what she was thinking when she wrote about wanting to wipe out humans many times over. Also, notice the multiple exclamations after that sentence. She truly thinks she's saying something profound.

The following is my response to her. I hope it gave her something to reflect upon.

As I was reading the Bible I was awed by how concerned he was with our sex lives. I was shocked by the amount of blood sacrifices he demanded. I was horrified by his determination to kill whole groups of people for trivial reasons. I was concerned with the two different creation myths, the two different flood myths, and the two different Ten Commandments myths. So you can imagine how confusing it is to a young teenage girl reading the Bible for the first time to find out that the all-loving, all-powerful, all-merciful God does not have these attributes. You do know that God wiped us out (except for Noah and his family) in Genesis. I remember thinking about all those poor innocent babies who died such horrible deaths by drowning. Did you ever think about them? Did you wonder why God killed those babies when he could've easily saved them?

I would conclude that your definition of patience is much different than mine.

Dr. Francis Collins opined that God exists outside time and space which is why he is immeasurable. Perhaps giving God this particular human attribute is an error since, according to this definition, he can pop in and out of reality at anytime he so desires. Therefore patience is not required, just the ability to travel thru time.

I'm curious as to why you would've wipe out the human race many times over if you were God? What is it about Christianity that makes you want to do this? Or are you angry about something?

For the record, such a violent thought as never occurred to me. I'm a pacifist.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Harry Potter review and dolphins

I'm sorry it's been a few days since my last post. My DH's son and young teenage daughter were here for a week. It was fun but I was unable to get to my computer and devote the time nessassary for the blog. They are now gone and I have more time.

I finished the seventh and last Harry Potter book a couple of nights ago. Although I have to admit enjoying the whole series of books and the subsequent movies, I've been a little disappointed in the writing style of the author. There were a few inconsistencies and confusing behavior from the main characters. The treatment of some of the significant minor characters was frustrating and undeserved. I wanted to read more about them and less about Harry. I liked the book enough to cry at the end and be happy for the surviving characters and how they defeated evil to save the world.

Here's a bit of news that may have passed under the radar: The Yangtze River dolphin is extinct. Why is this important? This animal was a large vertebrate which is now extinct as a direct consequence of man's influence over his environment. Douglas Adams, a science fiction writer and atheist wrote this about the dolphin in a non-fiction book called Last Chance to See:
As I watched the wind ruffling over the bilious surface of the Yangtze, I realized with the vividness of shock that somewhere beneath or around me there were intelligent animals whose perceptive universe we could scarcely begin to imagine, living in a seething, poisoned, deafening world, and that their lives were probably passed in continual bewilderment, hunger, pain, and fear.

I was very moved by what those poor intelligent mammals must've felt as they died one by one from pollution and disease. We did this to them.

Anyway, try to have a great day.