Sunday, January 27, 2008

The No Huddle Huddle part 1

I've been slacking. Sorry. It's been a busy couple of weeks. Work has gotten busy. I've had to flight off the flu. Uck.

Anyway, did have a couple of cool things happen to me this week. Hemant at the Friendly Atheist linked to my Full House post! Yay! You have no idea how cool that is for me. I've been reading his blog for ages. That made me as giddy as my older sister whenever Kirk Cameron was on the cover of Tiger Beat.

The Full House conversation, if anyone is curious, is typical of me and my roommate. Army Guy, my roommate, and Michigan Guy, my old roommate, talk like this all the time. We took to calling ourselves the Sons of Hammurabi years ago. Typical conversation, what are histories five greatest moustaches? Which hat had the greatest impact on American history? Stuff like that. Yeah, we're idiots with too many books and a lot of free time.

Also, was called a "humanist" in a meeting at work last week. We were talking about service and what service means. There was a lot of spiritually oriented ideas of why we serve being discussed and I, perhaps foolishly, brought up the idea of altruism as a beneficial evolutionary adaptation. I got a few eyebrows raised and the comment that you can look at service from a religious perspective or, with a nod to me, a humanist perspective. Now, as far as I know, only two people I work with no I'm an atheist, but I guess it would start to get around at some point. Oh well. Don't put your candle under a basket, right?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Full House of Worship

My roommate and I had an interesting discussion the other day that I wanted to get someones opinion on. We have some very odd conversations. Anyway, we got into a debate about which Abrahamic faith was most like which of the three male leads on Full House. And, when I say debate, we actually discussed this for nearly an hour. My thoughts went along this line:

1. Danny Tanner is Islam - Fanatical about the rules. Wants total control of everything around him. Case in point, when poor Danny was dating the woman who was untidy, he couldn't take it. Or look at the time Stephanie and Michelle put a hole in Danny's bedroom wall while wrestling over a pole from the closet. Everyone knew of Danny's controlling streak, and they all took great pains to avoid offending him.

2. Uncle Joey is Judaism - Great sense of humor, self-depreciating, often overshadowed by the other two housemates. At one point felt he needed to leave the house because he was being overworked. He needed to make an Exodus, you might say. His catch phrase, "Cut it out, man!" sounds like it comes straight from a how-to guide on being a mohel.

3. Uncle Jesse is Christianity - He's hip, he's now, he's full of himself. He's also kind of the rebel, see any episode where he plays rock 'n' roll, see the Scott Baio Dr. Dare episode. His music career was given new life when he joined Hot Daddy and the Meat Puppets. It was, in fact, resurrected. Also, his catch phrase is "Have Mercy!"

So, those are my thoughts. Next week, is Michelle's "Don't have a cow" indicative of a conversion to Hinduism?

Also, which Christian heresy is Zach Morris? Arianism? Tritheism? Albigensian?


Monday, January 14, 2008

The Five Stages of Ron Paul

I need to take a deep breath and admit my guilt to all of you.

I was a Ron Paul supporter.

You see, alongside and, in my opinion, inextricably linked to my atheism is my libertarianism. I subscribe to Reason Magazine, I read Radley Balko's blog, I own Radicals for Capitalism and, yes, I do like a lot of Ayn Rand's books. I believe that the highest ideal and virtue we can offer a man is liberty. Liberty in all areas social and monetary. I believe in Capitalism. I am against "The War On (insert whatever ideological war the government feels the need to fight)."

I believe Libertarianism is the political philosophy that best fits free thought. It teaches self-reliance, personal judgement and choice. It has taught me to think critically about what I'm being told and who is telling it to me. Thomas Paine taught me about freedom in the face of tyranny and Hobbes taught me about the inevitable decent into authoritarianism that most governments fall prey to. Ayn Rand taught me about philosophical materialism and objective reality. The most liberating thing I've ever read is something John Galt says in Atlas Shrugged. "I am the man who loves his life."

And, yes, I was ready to vote for Ron Paul.

Why? Well, Ron Paul seemed to be that candidate. He is against the war on drugs and the war on terror. He is for Free Enterprise. He votes "no" on virtually everything he can vote on. And I like that, I really do. But, I cannot any longer support Ron Paul.

Because of this and this and this. Because I can't remove the man from the vitriol. Because evolution happened. Because allowing racism in your name is tantamount to endorsing it.

And this has been difficult for me to admit.

Denial: No, no that can't be true. CONSPIRACY!
Anger: Who are these people trying to destroy my guy!?!?! Damn them!
Depression: Ugh, I think he really said those things. Why? Ron, why?
Bargaining: Well, I can still support the man because of his politics despite those things, right?Acceptance: Enough, Ron Paul. May flights of angels see your campaign to their rest.

So, there you have it. I offer a mea culpa and I beg for leniency. I am officially disavowing my support of Ron Paul.

Now what do I do? My number two, Bill Richardson, is out. The Republicans are a joke, Edwards comes off like an ambulance chaser and voting for Hillary would endorse the aristocracy that has had a stranglehold on the White House for two decades. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.

Than there is Obama. A man whose politics I hate but whose humanity I admire. Can I vote for someone who, on a personal level, I can point at with pride and say "That's our President" while disavowing his politics? That's a tough thing to do. As Larry David once said, "I'm in the muck, I'm trying to ascertain if there is any mire involved."

Any thoughts?


In the same spirit as the previous post, thanks to Mike and the folks at the OutCampaign for adding me to their list as well. It can seem very isolating being irreligious in communities like Muncie. So, the Blogroll, the OutCampaign, and commenting on other people's blogs have become a lifesaver. Like Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball, sometimes you just need to communicate with people.

The Atheist Blogroll

In my ongoing effort to open myself up to the larger Atheosphere, I've joined up with the Atheist Blogroll. Hat Tip to Mojoey over at Deep Thoughts for this. I've found many of the blogs and sites I love to read by linking and jumping from site to site, often times through the Blogroll. So, to any new readers who stumble upon my humble abode, welcome. And to Mojoey, again, a big thanks.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Can we be good without God?

Yes, of course we can. Can holding supernatural beliefs and basing your worldview on the cosmology of nomadic shepherds lead people to rationalize and do awful things?


To any Christians who may be reading this blog: When atheists start murdering their children because they are possessed by the demons of a competing idea of Cephalopod speciation, come talk to me about morality. Until than, get your own damn house in order.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Well, he's logically consistent

From CNN: Finally, a man who truly believes what he believes. Now, if we could only get the guys behind the Left Behind series to go this route, we could save trees and not be plagued with an endless and inane and a barely cogent understanding of the English language. I mean, Rayford Steele? Come on!

For who knows what is good for a man, in these few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow...

I had dinner with my family last night. I have a younger brother and an older sister. The sister is married, has 3 kids. The brother is not, has 1.

My mom and dad are both Catholic, and being Catholic in America is a strange thing. I know Catholics who are very faithful, go to church constantly and whose homes look like some religious Pier1 Imports knockoff got sick and vomited trinkets everywhere. But, for most of them, belief is a default. They believed as a child because their parents did, and their kids believed as a child because their parents did. They go to church because they are supposed to. They pray when they are supposed to. I mean, we have days that are frackin' called Holy Days of Obligation.

When my sister got married, her and her husband left the Church (Catholics typically call their church the Church with a capital C). Not to be atheists, but to go to a very peculiar non-denominational protestant sect. The kind of church that encourages reading the Bible. This caused much hubbub.

This is not something the Church typically does. It's amazing how much of the Catholic population hasn't read its foundational document. We have devotionals and rosaries, scapulars, rites and rituals. But, we don't have enough knowledge of our faith. Suffice it to say, when I started reading the Bible as a child, it raised eyebrows amongst my family. I can assure you though, I was doing it to strengthen my faith.

I'm writing this entry because dinner with my family really made me think. What did I think about, asks the inquisitive reader? Well, I thought about how grateful I am for the parents I have and wonder and how shocked they would be to know how helpful they were on my path to deconversion. They don't know about my atheism. They know I don't go to Church anymore, but my mom believes that I don't go because I'm into dudes. This is where I insert the cliched Seinfeldism, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." I'm just a nerd without a girlfriend. Reasoning your way out of religion is a concept they could not imagine because, in my family, being religious is just what people do.

Back to the story at hand. How did they help? By staying the hell out of my way and getting me an adult library card.

You see, in my family I was the smart one. I was the bookworm. I was the honor roll kid. But, I was also the kid who was going to be a priest. I still get asked that today. I'm 27. Get over it. Not gonna do it. So, when I read the Bible, it was unusual but not entirely unexpected. When I found the religion section of the library and brought home the Koran, Dianetics and the Apocryhpa, they never questioned me on it. They gave me funny looks when I brought home books on Wicca and Anton LaVey, but never questioned me on it. They backed the hell off. They didn't barrage me with apologetics when I questioned Abraham's actions or Noah's Flood.

So, I want to thank them for that. I want to thank all parents who raise rational kids. I want to thank the public library and books. Parents need to encourage this and foster it and love their kids regardless. Now, if I could only grow some balls and tell them why I don't go to Church!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Am I Militant?

So, as I stated in an earlier post, I was born and raised as a Roman Catholic. I was, in fact, very devout to the point of being accepted to a pre-seminarian program my senior year in college. Luckily reason, as it should do more often, prevailed. Save my brother, my family does not know about my atheism. Very few people do, actually. My best friend and roommate knows. One of my colleagues has known for awhile as he has seen my blog. Just yesterday, I finally told another person I work with. We had been having religious discussions for a while and I was tired of couching my atheism in terms like, "So, I have an atheist friend..." That gets really old after a while. But, I do work in a very religious company. I err on the side of caution. My brother knows as well.

He is the only family member of mine who is on to me. We are pretty amicable about it. I love talking about religion and so does my theist roommate. My brother does not. He's still nominally a Catholic and believes in Christ and salvation, heaven and hell. We had an interesting confrontation the other day about this. I have many of the "New Atheist" books (I really hate that term). Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris. I don't talk religion with my brother but, since he also is a roommate, he does see me reading these books in the front room of my house. The other night I was reading Dawkins' book, and he gave me a funny look. I called him on it and said I never bring this stuff up with him. He doesn't like being challenged, and while I don't respect people who won't face challenges to their beliefs, I love my brother and respect him enough to not be in your face with him. He responds to me by saying my being in that room with that book was confrontational.

Now, he was joking, or half-joking, when he said this, but I think it reveals something about the peculiar American Theistic mindset. It sees anyone who is other as a challenge, regardless of whether or not a challenge was actually proffered. I don't get this. I've read several versions of the Bible, many other holy books and writings, Kierkegaard, Aquinas, Augustine. I've read the catechism of the catholic church. I've read them all and found them lacking. Why are they so sensitive? Are they afraid of the paucity of their arguments or their lack of rhetorical skill?

I don't think it is just our ideas. It is us! The fact that we exist is an affront. They see living around us as living with and around agents of the debyll, even if we are the nicest most well-adjusted demons he has. Why is this? Why am I a "militant" atheist if I speak up? I don't go door to door telling people believe me or else. I don't condemn people to hell. Hell, I don't even care if they believe what they believe so long as they leave me alone.

Maybe they are afraid they'll be infected by skepticism? Who knows. The thing that really convinced me about atheism was actually reading the Bible. Maybe they think God will rain down wrath upon this country because of us? Maybe we're the challenge God puts in their path for them to overcome? Maybe they just plain hate us. I don't run around my town waving "The End of Faith" in people's faces. I don't stand on a street corner with a bullhorn telling people they are not condemned to hell. I don't blog to convince others about what I believe. I blog because I like to write, I like to think out what I believe and I like debate and conversation. But, I don't confront people with their logical fallacies and specious arguments.

Is this a common thing, the assumption of militancy in atheists by their mere being? It's really irritating. If your reading this and you've experience people calling you militant or confrontational simply because you're an atheist and dared to vocalize that, I'd love to hear from you. Hell, if you're a theist or Christian reading this, could you tell me why people assume all atheists are militants out to destroy you when we are simply stating who we are?