Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, December 17, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The doubting parent’s guide to the holidays

parenting beyond belief during the holidays.

Just be honest with your child and tell him that many people celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, but you don’t. Then give him a chance to talk about what makes the most sense to him.

“They need to know that most of the people around them see the world through a religious lens,” said McGowan, who lives in Atlanta.

“Every time I make a statement about what I think is true, I let them know that others think differently and that they get to make up their own minds. It’s not necessary to put blinders on them and not let them see the religious aspect of the holidays. That would be strange.”
The Meming of Life » The doubting parent’s guide to the holidays (WaPo) Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Wiz, secular humanist parable

"Dorothy and her friends have deep, yearning human needs — for home, knowledge, heart and courage. When they express these needs, they’re told that only the omnipotent Wizard of Oz can fulfill them. They seek an audience with the Wizard, tremble in fear and awe, then are unexpectedly ordered to do battle with Sata… sorry, the Witch, who turns out pretty feeble in the end. (Water, seriously?)

When they return, having confronted their fears, the Wizard dissembles, and Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a mere human behind all the smoke and holograms — at which point they learn that all the brains, courage, heart, and home they sought from the Wizard had always been right in their own hands.

It’s really not much of a stretch to see the whole thing as a direct debunk of religion and a celebration of humanistic self-reliance..."

Dale McGowan, The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"One last question" from Dale McGowan

"I’m finishing up the [Atheism for Dummies]chapter on great works of atheism in the 21st century. One of the things I’m trying to offer is a way for the uninitiated to think about the books of the Four Horsemen — Harris (End of Faith), Dawkins (God Delusion), Dennett (Breaking the Spell), and Hitchens (God Ain’t All That). They tend to be lumped together, but they’re dramatically different in tone and approach.

One last question then:

Q: What insight would you offer the uninitiated reader about any or all of these four books?

It might be something that surprised or irritated you, a suggestion about which one to read first — anything at all.

As an example, I might make the point that Dawkins’s tone in TGD is a lot less contemptuous and angry than most people expect. I rank him third out of the four on the Contemptometer.

(These aren’t the only books I’ll be talking about, of course, but they’re the ones I’d like to have your thoughts on.)"

The Meming of Life » Q: The Horsemen Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Sagan Day

It's Carl Sagan Day again. Light billions & billions of candles!

“Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature.” 
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Broad road to freedom

"in 1903, Kentucky-based newspaper "Blue-grass Blade" asked its readers to write in and contribute to a forthcoming feature named, "Why I am An Atheist." Hundreds of letters soon arrived and many were subsequently reprinted in the paper; over a century later, in 2011, they were compiled to form the book, Letters from an Atheist Nation..."
I cannot accept a salvation that is based wholly upon the dreams of an ancient and superstitious people, with no proof save blind faith...it was one of God's main points to oppress women and keep them in the realms of ignorance.
I am in the ranks of Liberalism because of its elevating principles, its broad road to freedom of thought, speech, and investigation. MINNIE O. PARRISH, 23 years old, Leonard, Texas 1903
Letters of Note

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Another question from Dale McGowan

"A lot of the most brilliant expressions of disbelief and challenges to religion have been satirical. I’ve written before about the connection between humor and thinking. I’ve always been fascinated by that. As soon as I finish laughing myself to tears over a line of Minchin or the picture at the top of this post, I start trying to figure out why it’s hysterical, and why the next line or the next parody photo isn’t.

The chapter includes Twain and Carlin, parody religions (FSM, Landover, Bokononism), music (like Tim Minchin), film (Life of Brian, The Invention of Lying), TV (Simpsons, South Park), web (Mr. Deity, Jesus and Mo), and more (The Onion). I’m never going to get to everything — even leaving out some of my own favorites — but lemme ask:

Q: What are some of your favorite examples of humor aimed at religion or atheism?"

The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here we go again

"Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) has introduced legislation in the House promoting the “importance of religion.”

Here’s the purpose of House Resolution 789: Reaffirming the importance of religion in the lives of United States citizens and their freedom to exercise those beliefs peacefully.

As if that was really a problem in our country…"

Tennessee Congressman Introduces Legislation to ‘Reaffirm the Importance of Religion’

Monday, September 24, 2012


Our A&P friend Meghan couldn't make it to the meetup reunion the other day, but she does send along her regards and a couple of laughs:. Types of extremists, & more atheist cartoons.

Good luck bringing up baby, Meghan! Let us know how "parenting beyond belief" is going.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Alain de Botton on a School of Life for Atheists | On Being

"Alain de Botton is a philosopher who likes the best of religion, but doesn’t believe in God. So he’s created “The School of Life,” a secular community in London. He explains why wisdom and ritual shouldn’t be reserved just for believers..."

Alain de Botton on a School of Life for Atheists | On Being

Friday, September 7, 2012

Meetup Sep 13

Alumni of last Spring's Atheism & Philosophy ("A&P") course at MTSU, and interested others, are invited to join Phil Oliver & Dean Hall at Boulevard Bar & Grill near campus beginning at 4:15 pm next Thursday, September 13 for an informal reunion (or what some might call "fellowship"). Y'all come!

You can RSVP here or via Murfreesboro Freethinkers, or just show up.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another good question from Dale McGowan

"My feeling about death is pretty straightforward: I’m opposed to it. I’ve pretty much mastered it intellectually, but emotionally I’m still not a fan. Natural selection will keep me at least somewhat skittish until I get there, at which point I’ll relax completely. Engaging the insights of my fellow bits of temporarily animated carbon has helped put it in perspective for me, even bringing out the beauty and poetry of it.


Q: What ideas or ways of thinking about death have been interesting, thought-provoking, intriguing, helpful, and/or comforting to you?

Note that comfort is just one element here. As I wrote in Raising Freethinkers, “The most significant and profound thing about our existence is that it ends, rivaled only by the fact that it begins.” So tell me the best things you’ve thought about that profound fact, ya mortals."

The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Friday, August 24, 2012

A rose by another name

"There is a great deal of overlap between humanism and Atheism Plus. They are very similar ideas, very similar visions. There is great value in both. I suspect that many people will call themselves both, and I look forward to the two movements working in alliance for many years to come. But I don’t think they’re the same. And I think it’s reasonable for some people to identify primarily as one, and some primarily as the other."

Humanism Is Great — But It’s Not Atheism Plus | Greta Christina's Blog

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Youth & diversity among the godless

"avowed atheists are still a tiny sliver of the population. But people with no religious affiliation are the country’s fastest-growing religious category. When asked about religious affiliation in a Pew poll published this summer, nearly 20 percent of Americans chose “none,” the highest number the center has recorded. Many of those people would not call themselves atheists; “agnostic,” which technically refers to people who believe that the existence of a higher being can’t be known by the human mind, remains the safer option. The godless are now younger and more diverse than in the past, with blacks and Hispanics — once vanishingly rare — starting to appear in the ranks of national groups like the United Coalition of Reason and the Secular Student Alliance.

The movement has also begun cultivating a new breed of guru..."

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader - NYTimes.com

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Why Are Atheists So Angry?"

Is it because they're selfish, joyless, lacking in meaning, and alienated from God? Or is it because they have legitimate reasons to be angry - and are ready to do something about it? Armed with passionate outrage, absurdist humor, and calm intelligence, popular blogger Greta Christina makes a powerful case for outspoken atheist activism, and explains the empathy and justice that drive it. This accessible, personal, down-to-earth book speaks not only to atheists, but also to believers who want to understand the so-called new atheism.
Why Are You Atheists So Angry? drops a bombshell on the destructive force of religious faith - and gives a voice to millions of angry atheists.
Why Are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless Audio Book | Greta Christina | Download Why Are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan on Rand's atheism

"It’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”

More recently, however, Ryan distanced himself from Rand, whose atheism is something of a philosophical wedge issue on the right, dividing religious conservatives from free-market libertarians. This year, with his political profile rising, Ryan stressed not only that he had differences with Rand’s atheism—a point he had made as far back as 2003—but went so far as to denounce her whole system of beliefs, describing his early attraction to her writing as little more than a youthful dalliance. He admitted that he had “enjoyed her novels,” but, as Mak notes, he stressed that, “I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. "

Paul Ryan and the Influence of Ayn Rand : The New Yorker

Hitch: Make Mitt Answer

"The Mormons claim that their leadership is prophetic and inspired and that its rulings take precedence over any human law. The constitutional implications of this are too obvious to need spelling out, but it would be good to see Romney spell them out all the same.

So phooey, say I, to the false reticence of the press and to the bogus sensitivities that underlie it. This extends even to the less important matters. If candidates can be asked to declare their preference as between briefs and boxers, then we already have a precedent, and Romney can be asked whether, as a true believer should, he wears Mormon underwear. What's un-American about that? The bottom line is that Romney should expect to be asked these very important questions, and we should expect him not to obfuscate and whine anymore but to give clear and unambiguous answers to them."

Mitt Romney needs to answer questions about his Mormon faith. - Slate Magazine

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

AHA! moments

1. What was the first realization that got you questioning religious assumptions?

2. What was the biggest AHA! moment on your path to atheism?

3. What are some of the myths you’ve heard about why atheists are atheists? Reply here.

(Please share this widely. The more input the better.)"

The Meming of Life » Q: AHA! moments Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Letting Go

Speaking, as Dale McGowan (@memingoflife) was, of Julia Sweeney's "brilliant ending"...

Richard Dawkins wrote, "Certainly those unborn ghosts include poets greater than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. And in the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."
I suddenly felt very deeply that I was alive: Alive with my own particular thoughts, with my own particular story, in this itty-bitty splash of time. And in that splash of time, I get to think about things and do stuff and wonder about the world and love people, and drink my coffee if I want to. And then that's it...
...I hope I can teach my daughter that true mystery is all around her.
Because you know, the Church has it all backwards when it comes to mystery. In fact, it trivializes the very thing it claims to represent: the awe-inspiring grandeur of true, deep mystery. We live on a planet, spinning about in a wondrous universe without any apparent purpose. And the mystery of why there is something rather than nothing is a question we may never know the answer to. Letting Go of God
But, our time has not yet expired.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Another "Dummies" question

Dale McGowan's still soliciting:
"Once you decide God does not exist, the tendency is to go back and ask all those old questions in a new light (like the brilliant ending of Letting Go of God). Then once that process is done, the newly-minted atheist begins to ask some entirely new questions — things that didn’t even occur to him or her to ask while a believer.
My question for you: What are some NEW questions you asked once you began to identify as an atheist?"
The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

The ultimate question, left a little vague

It has been said that the question Why is there something rather than nothing? is so profound that it would occur only to a metaphysician, yet so simple that it would occur only to a child. I was too young then to be a metaphysician. But why had I missed the question as a child? In retrospect, the answer was obvious. My natural metaphysical curiosity had been stifled by my religious upbringing. From my earliest childhood I had been told—by my mother and father, by the nuns who taught me in elementary school, by the Franciscan monks at the monastery over the hill from where we lived—that God created the world, and that He created it out of nothing at all. That's why the world existed. That's why I existed. As to why God himself existed, this was left a little vague. Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story - Jim Holt - Google Books

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Boobs" perhaps, but...

Winterton Curtis, Damned Yankee prof from my alma mater and avuncular personal hero, in Dayton, 1925:
"Reporters were present in such numbers that I could well believe the statement they numbered more than 200 and that never before had there been so many reporters present at any trial.  Notable among them was H. L. Mencken, who had made himself so odious to the orthodox by his scathing criticisms of the Fundamentalist Crusade and its Crusaders.  As no seats were reserved for the expert witnesses we sat in the press chairs.  Many times I sat next to Mencken.  He resisted my attempts at conversation, but I got the flavor of the man from listening to his talk with other reporters. 
The courtroom audience impressed me as honest country folk in jeans and calico.  “Boobs" perhaps, as judged by Mencken, and holding all the prejudices of backwoods Christian orthodoxy, but nevertheless a significant section of the backbone of democracy in the U.S.A.  They came to see their idol “the Great Commoner” and champion of the people meet the challenge to their faith.  They left bewildered but with their beliefs unchanged despite the manhandling of their idol by the “Infidel” from Chicago...." Impressions of the Scopes Trial by W. C. Curtis, Defense Expert
He and the other scientific witnesses never made it to the stand. But Curtis's 1922 book Science and Human Affairs from the Viewpoint of Biology had already given eloquent testimony to the humane core of the evolutionary perspective. It was the Demon-haunted World of its day, and he was a Saganesque figure: lighting candles of reason rather than cursing the darkness or belittling Mencken's booboisie.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

"How does an atheist find meaning and purpose in life?"

Dale McGowan is working on Atheist for Dummies, and he's soliciting our input. Not sure "Atheist Dummies" is a club I want to be a member of, but it's nice to be solicited. Anyway, share your thoughts:
Concise comments only, please. Give me only your best thought whittled down to a tiny, singing sentence or three. Just a link is great too, but please include a brief summary of where it’s going. Also, please try not to get into extended discussions. It’s OK to build on someone else’s comment, but don’t feel the need to convince, rebut, or dissuade.
Here’s the first question:
How does an atheist find meaning and purpose in life?
...This is an unmissable opportunity to plumb our collective mind — I’m looking forward to hearing from you." Reply here: The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Friday, July 27, 2012

Heaven, but not really

"Just as Einstein’s use of “God” to mean “no, not really God” confuses people into thinking he’s a theist (see how I’m stuck in present tense??), so Chinese philosophy is obsessively focused for centuries on t’ien or tian, which translates loosely as “heaven,” but really means “no, not really heaven.” Nothing to do with a place for human souls after death. Instead, t’ien means “that which causes the world to be as it is.” Theistic philosophers use it to mean a god or spirit realm, while the nontheists use the same word to mean natural, physical law."

The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

In Fred We Trust

Dawkins on Grayling on Behe... "There is a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University in the United States called Michael J Behe, darling of the Creationists, who says that biological structures are 'irreducibly complex' and their existence can therefore only be explained by invoking a divine designer.  This absurd argument, which alleges a mystery (the existence of complex biological structures) and claims to solve it by introducing an arbitrary and even greater mystery (the existence of a deity), has exactly the same logical force of saying that the shapes of clouds are designed by Fred... 

Against All Gods - Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net

Thanks, Dean.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Hard Week Not to Be Disgusted with Religion

As a resident of Colorado, I have watched my state struggle through one of the worst summers we’ve ever known in our lifetimes, and for most of us who live here, it can’t come to an end soon enough. From horrific natural disasters to the unspeakable shootings in Aurora that claimed twelve lives mere days ago, we have literally been walking through the fire. And because our tribulations have been national news, everyone with an opinion has felt the need to weigh in.
It’s really difficult to write about this without 1) crying in fury and disgust, 2) wanting to take a sledgehammer to my own belongings just to work out the anger, and 3) wanting to beat some of these “opinionators” senseless with a baseball bat. I know you’re not supposed to answer violence with violence, but when you have people “lending their perspective,” who are so callous, so malicious, so arrogant, and so evil in their words, it’s kind of hard not to feel that way, because they’re not here, yet they feel as if their pontificating and insulting commentary should somehow bear weight on our situation. More...

More friendly atheism in our back yard

"Bob Smietana‘s article in today’s edition of The Tennessean tackles two big issues for atheism-at-large: Is Secular Humanism a religion? And can atheists achieve any type of political power? (My answers: No… and not anytime soon, but we have to try.)"

Can Atheists Become a Political Force in Tennessee?

Diverse voices seek receptive ears

"Good w/out God" is easy. How about "Civil..." too?

@HemantMehta, The Friendly Atheist:
"It’s true that atheists are alike only in the fact that we don’t believe in God, but one would hope more of us would treat each other with respect when we disagree. It’s not enough, it seems, to use reason and logic to pick apart another person’s argument. We also have to resort to name-calling or imply that the person is a traitor to our cause. I’ve heard atheist “firebrands” say that they support having more diverse voices in the conversation only to throw those attempting an alternative approach under the bus. Forget any potential merits to the alternatives; the battle is won only when you’ve made yourself feel superior."
Council for Secular Humanism

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Suck at Your Religion

How to Suck at Your Religion or Why Religion Sucks

Christian Dominionism

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein is the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. In this article, he takes a good look at the extremist rhetoric of evangelical Christian fundamentalism and their quest for Dominion, which seems to be the exact hidden agenda underlying the protests of the Murfreesboro mosque.

These Christians are projecting their very own motives on the "other" and attacking Muslims for the very thing they wish for themselves. From their own bronze-age book: by their fruits...

As an atheist, secularist, humanist, pluralist and an egalitarian, I'm glad the Muslims won their case.

Lots of good links and resources. Enjoy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shep­herds of Salvation

I would ask the same of any other
If they stood by and watched the help­less die.
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

There are those who help their fel­low brother;
They do what’s right and never bat an eye.
I would ask the same of any other.

Some will pray and wait, then there’s Another—
Long­ing for a man­sion in the sky.
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

Should they pray to rid the world of hunger
Or bet­ter lift a hand to feed a child?
I would ask the same of any other.

What are we to tell the bro­ken mother
Whose hun­gry child lies down to sleep at night?
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

All in all we really have to won­der—
Could it be that God is just a Lie?
I would ask the same of any other.
Where is God when chil­dren hurt and suffer?

— Dean Hall

Growing the Secular Community

"Some people assert that atheism means nothing more than "lacking belief in gods", and that we shouldn't try to make it anything more than that. And on a purely lexicographic level, I agree. Anyone who lacks belief in gods is an atheist, no matter what I may think of their personal or political views on other subjects. But if we're going to build an atheist community - that is to say, an organized movement whose members can support each other, motivate each other, work together to lobby politicians, and cooperate to improve atheism's public reputation - then we have to have a little more in common than just that bare foundation of godlessness.

...the success of atheism is inextricably tied with the success of progressivism and social justice. The most effective way yet discovered to weaken the influence of anti-intellectual fundamentalism is to create a more prosperous, more egalitarian society where the illusory comforts of religion have less appeal. The conservative-libertarian worldview, which treats high levels of inequality and economic instability as a feature and not a bug, will thus never be able to banish the specter of superstition. This is a self-contradiction that I believe atheists who hold to this worldview have never fully faced up to."

Growing the Secular Community | Daylight Atheism | Big Think

A poem about the meaning of life

The Atheist Pig

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Why Aren’t Atheist Parents Raising Atheist Children?" Well, duh

"We’re not Catholics. We don’t have Sunday schools. We don’t indoctrinate our kids “into atheism” from a young age. We don’t have “traditions” to follow. Atheism isn’t attached to any particular cultural identity. Many atheists parents, I gather, encourage their children to think for themselves and not believe in something just because their parents believe it.

We don’t “raise our children as atheists” because that’s forcing our beliefs onto them — and that’s not something many of us want to do.

But damn near every atheist I’ve ever met became an atheist despite his/her parents’ attempts to raise them in a particular religion..." Hemant Mehta, Why Aren’t Atheist Parents Raising Atheist Children?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Minor League Baseball Promotion for Atheists

The St. Paul Saints are holding a No-Faith Night. Are you paying attention, @nashvillesounds?
"Our banners will hang in the stadium and we will rename the team the “Mr. Paul Aints.” The team will wear Mr. Paul Aints jerseys during the game, which will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for us. You may also order in advance a custom Mr. Paul Aints jersey with your name and a number on the back for $69…
The letter “S” will be covered up on the word “Saints” throughout the ballpark and we’ll have an information/greeting table at the main entrance. American Atheists president Dave Silverman will throw out the first ceremonial pitch of the game. After the game there will be a fireworks display."
In a Minor League Baseball Promotion for Atheists, St. Paul Saints Will Become Mr. Paul Aints

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The philosophy of "No"

But no's never enough, we need a "Yes" too. Several, in fact, and that's just what we've got. 

Yes, we will be heard. Yes, we believe in something larger than our solitary selves. Yes, we're good without god. Yes, we've got "spirit." Yes yes yes...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Atheists to launch Tennessee lobbying group

"A national atheist group plans to organize a lobbying group in Tennessee to advocate for stronger separation of church and state.

The Washington, D.C.-based Secular Coalition for America announced plans Tuesday to set up a local chapter aimed at giving local atheists more political clout.

It’s part of an effort to organize coalition chapters in all 50 states.

“There are 40 million Americans who don’t identify with any religion, but our political influence has been limited because we have not been organized,” said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the coalition, in an email Monday. “This year, that changes...”

The Secular Coalition for America will hold an organizational meeting for a local chapter by conference call at 2 p.m. Tuesday. To take part, call 530-881-1400 and use the access code of 978895

Atheists to launch Tennessee lobbying group | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Creeping scepticism

Compelling small people to listen...

Jesus and Mo

Carl's biggest question

He read "Who Speaks for Man?" and later asked "Who Speaks for Earth?" His ultimate question, of course, was always about who else than us might ever speak for the cosmos?
...continues at Delight Springs

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hitch at the gates

"He has a list of demands. First up, he wants you to stop poisoning everything..."

Hitch on Orwell, & the complete Hitch archive in Vanity Fair: http://t.co/ScY2Gcnf

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Spiritual" and an atheist too

As we made our way to the Orlando airport the other day, Pat Tillman's widow was on the radio. (He was the football star who gave it all up to go and fight the good fight against terror, only to be felled by "friendly fire.")

She was asked about his reported atheism, but could not bring herself to confirm it. "He was a very spiritual person," that's all.

It'll be a noteworthy mark of  progress towards spiritual sophistication in this culture when even an apparent theist like the former Ms. Tillman can finally, comfortably affirm: Yes, he was a very spiritual person. And yes, he was an atheist as well.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Scopes roadtrip next year

Rachel Held Evans, who lives in Dayton, TN, tweeted yesterday that the annual Scopes re-enactment was going to be discontinued. That would be disappointing. I almost got down there summer before last but had to scrub the trip at the last moment.

But apparently the report was in error. A Bryan college rep says
"We are planning to present the Scopes Festival again in 2013 (July 19-20) and at that time premiere the new play."
Alright, roadtrippers, mark your calendars. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Atheists still in the cellar, but climbing

"The good news for nonbelievers is that, for the first time ever, more than half the American population would vote for a qualified, open atheist for president.  A recent Gallup poll shows that 54 percent of Americans would not consider a candidate’s atheism to be a disqualification for holding the nation's highest office...

The bad news, however, is that atheists still rank lowest among the groups listed. Muslims (58 percent), gays and lesbians (68 percent) and Mormons (80 percent) all ranked higher. While no fair and rational observer would suggest that membership in any of those groups should disqualify a candidate for office, to secular activists it is nevertheless troubling that nonbelievers still occupy the cellar of American public opinion."

Atheist Acceptability on the Rise in America | Psychology Today

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Gospel According to Disney

I've been ragging on Disney, psyching myself for the impending family visit with Team Rodent I've not been able to extricate myself from. But on the other hand, there's this to consider:
...in the more than thirty-five animated features Disney has released since 1937, there is scarcely a mention of God as conceived in the Christian and Jewish faiths shared by most people in the Western world and many beyond.
It may be a commercial decision, to embrace the godless form of magic, but wouldn't you rather wish on a star than suborn your soul to servility?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Black atheists break one more set of chains

An Agnostic in Wheaton issues a call for courage and solidarity.

"Religion is so very deeply engrained in the black culture that it can be very difficult for young people to take the path of rationality and independence. With internet communities such as Facebook and YouTube there is no reason for any black atheist to feel isolated. Come on out, be proud and be heard. Logic has no color..."

Quotes by African American free thinkers:
"As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion." – Butterfly McQueen“A black Christian is like a black person with no memory.” – Chris Rock“Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within.” - A. Phillip Randolph“Gods always behave like the people who make them.” - Zora Neale Hurston“being in the pulpit, was like being in the theatre; I was behind the scenes and knew how the illusion worked.” – James A. Baldwin“It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.” – James A. Baldwin“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson“The more I learn about the universe, the less convinced I am that there's any sort of benevolent force that has anything to do with it, at all.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
ContinuesBlack atheists break one more set of chains | An Agnostic in Wheaton

And don't forget the great Hubert Harrison, the "Black Socrates":
“Show me a population that is deeply religious, and I will show you a servile population, content with whips and chains, contumely and the gibbet, content to eat the bread of sorrow and drink the waters of affliction. The present condition of the Negroes of America is a touching bit of testimony to the truth of this assertion. Here in America the spirit of the Negro has been transformed by three centuries of subjection, physical and mental, so that they have even glorified the fact of subjection and subservience.” 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bald Eagle

This Sunday was the day to eat Jesus
And drink His blood—transubstantiation of sorts or
“Holy Mystery” as the Methodists called it—but secretly
I knew it was just grape-flavored juice and tasteless wafers,
Regardless of how it was interpreted.

The old folk
Took turns in groups
Kneeling at the altar as the church organ bellowed
Amazing Grace while the pastor solemnly bestowed
The “flesh and blood” of their Savior. I quickly scanned some
Of the worshiper’s tightly closed
Eyes looking for a gleam—
Even a glimpse or contemptuous gaze—
Or any indication that someone else noticed
The absurdity of this charade.
Unfortunately, inquiry revealed that I was the lone
Youth faking my piety—destined for Hell.

The murmurs and chants
Echoed through the distant background of my distracted
Consciousness (daydreams, if you will), which never failed to save me
From the agony of organized delusion.
My avidity transported me to the barren flats at the base
Of Bald Eagle—the mountainous hill of dirt left forsaken
to gaze upon the completed construction Interstate 64.

At this point in the service,
I was two prayers, one chant,
A parting handshake with the preacher,
And a 10-minute ride home with my Grandmother
From giving every pop
Bottle and can along Barrett’s Creek
Hell with my grandfather’s 22-caliber rifle.

As I walked the cool banks of Barrett’s Creek,
Ascending toward that forsaken hill,
The reality of Paradise and the Mystery of Adventure
Crushed beneath
My feet on that well-worn path. I could still hear
The echoes of church-bells ringing
Off in the distance behind me;
I never looked back.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cold Snakes

Reverend Jim Casey reached confidently into the yellow pine box and pulled out a two-feet long timber rattler and held it up for all the congregation to witness. The serpent— seemingly undisturbed by the apprehension—coiled around the Pentecostal preacher’s hand as a song of praise echoed down that sleepy hollow in the foothills of West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. As his flock spoke in tongues, sang hymns, laid hands on the sick, and wept and moaned for the lost and the dead, Reverend Casey paraded around the church shouting praise and demonstrating his faith to their Lord and Savior—serpent in hand.

 This was a typical Sunday morning worship service but that day Reverend Casey was asking the congregation to pray for his only son, Little Jimmy. Reverend Casey said Little Jimmy was accident-prone and, once again, had fallen out of the family barn loft on Friday. Little Jimmy, sitting on the front row with two black eyes, several cuts and bruises on his face and his arm in a sling, bowed his head as the Reverend asked the Lord to deliver his son from the Devil’s hands. “My boy narrowly escaped many accidents in the last few years…the Devil is trying to take my boy,” exclaimed the Reverend as he waved the serpent upon high. “Please, Lord, deliver him from evil.”

Ever since Little Jimmy was six years old, a considerable portion of his weekly chores involved helping father prepare for each Sunday's service. Almost every Saturday afternoon, Little Jimmy would walk two miles to Pucker’s Grocery and buy three ten-pound bags of ice and carry them home on his wagon. One bag was for Mrs. Casey’s fresh lemonade that she made for the congregation’s enjoyment after the service. A cold glass of lemonade seemed to compensate for the church’s lack of air conditioning. The other two bags of ice were for the snakes.

 Any snake handler still walking about knows that a snake exposed to cold temperatures will go into a state of inactivity. The last thing a Pentecostal snake-handler wants is an active snake. It was Little Jimmy’s job to make sure the snakes were as inactive as possible for his father’s service on Sunday morning. The Reverend kept the snakes in a pine box in his barn in the summertime and in the spare bedroom of their home during the winter. Little Jimmy would feed the snakes barn rats every Tuesday, then every Saturday evening he would use a long pole with a hook on the end to place the snakes in the old whisky barrel that was half filled with the remaining two bags of ice. In the winter months, placing the snakes on the back porch for a few hours during the night—depending on the temperature—produced the same effect. But spring, summer and fall required a mile long trip to Pucker’s to buy ice. In any event, by Sunday morning the snakes were cold as stones and ready to prove the unshakable faith of Appalachian church leaders. This slight-of-hand was unbeknownst to the congregation.

This Sunday morning was no different from any other service except for one thing: the night before, Little Jimmy had taken the two bags of ice reserved for the rattlesnakes and tossed it down the embankment behind the chicken coop while no one watched. The whisky barrel sat empty as he left the snakes coiled up in their pine box, bathing in the Appalachian heat. That Sunday morning, Little Jimmy loaded the timber rattlers into the family station wagon as usual, careful not to strain his injured arm or soil his pressed white dress shirt.

Ten minutes into the service, the boiling Pentecostal fervor began to grow more intense—weeping, wailing and speaking in tongues—as they laid hands on Little Jimmy to drive out the demons that gripped the youngster's soul. “The Lord will deliver my boy from evil,” shouted the Reverend as he laid down his Bible and reached into the pine box to retrieve yet another serpent to prove his faith in the Lord’s ability to drive the Devil from his son. Some worshipers were shaking about wildly on the church floor in epileptic-like seizures as others shouted in tongues, crying uncontrollably and jumping pews. The six women who kept their hands firmly on Little Jimmy’s cut and bruised head began to sing Amazing Grace in perfect unison. Reverend Jim Casey, in the full charisma of Pentecostal commitment, reached into the box and began to raise a second snake above his head for the congregation and the Lord to witness. But fate and faith crossed paths. As the Reverend raised the second poisonous snake with his left hand, the serpent struck and hit him on the left side of his face, piercing the Reverend’s left eye and cheek with its fangs. The Reverend’s screams of agony blended perfectly with the fever pitch of the Pentecostal service and went completely unnoticed until he fell headfirst into the front pew—emitting an eerie cracking sound as his forehead gave way to the hardwood pew. The timber rattler coiled around the Reverend’s neck as the other serpent bit deep into his right thigh as his upper-body slid off the pew onto the tail of the other snake. Screams and mayhem echoed down that sleepy hollow while Little Jimmy just stared up at the lone stained-glass window like he had so many Sundays before. The Pentecostal church buried their pastor three days later. The minister presiding over the funeral said Jimmy Casey was a man of faith.

Little Jimmy’s mother raised him as a single parent. He grew up and developed into a fine young man but that summer’s Sunday was Little Jimmy’s last day in church. Miraculously, in light of the demonic possession that caused his many accidents, he never as much as slipped on a shoelace after his father’s death. Little Jimmy went on to attend college and became a lawyer with a successful practice in Lexington, Kentucky before eventually moving back to his hometown to take care of his aging mother. The town folk would always ask Little Jimmy—they still called him by that name—why he never came to church anymore. Little Jimmy never said much more than he was too busy with work or his mother wasn’t feeling well, but the town folk always reminded him how he was always so accident prone until that day his father begged the Lord to deliver him from the Devil’s hands.

“You should come to church…the power of God is real,” they would say, “The Good Lord saved your life.”

“Yes he did,” Little Jimmy would say as he walked away, “Yes he did.”

The cause of all problems

Jesus and Mo:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Namaste, PZ

I stopped following PZ Myers (@pzmyers) on Twitter about a month ago. I just noticed how much I've enjoyed not missing him, and wonder if others wouldn't benefit similarly from shutting off that particular faucet of vulgar, constantly-streaming antipathy for pretty much everyone not in lock-stop with the masher from Minnesota.

The "Why I Am An Atheist" series on his site did admittedly provid a useful template in our "Atheism & Philosophy" course at MTSU. (Most contributors, like just about all of my students, are a lot nicer than their host.)...

Continues: Delight Springs: Why I stopped following PZed Myers

Saturday, June 16, 2012

God damn it, you’ve got to be kind

Dale McGowan's last blogathon post, inspired by Bertrand Russell and  Kurt Vonnegut (that's his imperative instruction to "babies" in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater), merits special attention on Fathers' Day.

"Nonreligious folks are not unkind. Many are the gentlest and kindest people I know. But as a movement, we too seldom recognize the importance of talking once in a while about human emotional needs — until those moments when we are feeling “the opposite of triumphant” and find ourselves, as individuals, hoping for a kind word or thought or deed.

As a parent, I find myself more upset by the unkindnesses my children do — especially to each other — than by any fuzziness of thought. And I find it harder to forgive my own lapses in the former than in the latter."
The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Great Controversy!!

Did anyone else receive this book in the mail recently? It's from a NPO in Maryland. Originally written by E.G. White in 1888 (yes, that old), The Great Controversy was edited by White in 1911 and then re-released over the following 100+ years all over the world. It speaks specifically of end-times and the battle between good and evil, God and Satan. On the back it says that it "transcends culture, nationality, and religious affiliations." I have a serious problem with this, being that the entire book quotes the King James Bible--a specifically Christian text. I'm also really disturbed by the insert advertisement in the center of the book. It shows an opportunity to receive FREE BIBLE STUDY GUIDES from a company calling itself "Amazing Facts." I'm truly concerned by the insert's claims to answer "with laser-light accuracy" (whatever that means) questions about what happens after death, who is truly deceiving us, what freedoms are taken from us and by who. It goes on and on about how it has this "universal" message for "every person." It's based specifically off of "the infallible Word of God" and it's complete "truth."

I have no problem with people believing whatever they want...but when you sit there and write this book, quoting a Christian-only source, and then you claim that it's the only one, true way, you're offending far more than just atheists. This is an obnoxious reminder that "the one, true God" has his eye on us, and that historical "evidence" points to his existence. It uses practically no historically accurate information. I need to stop or I'll start ranting about insignificant things...

My point is...I received this Christian-only book IN THE MAIL from an organization that I have literally no affiliation with. I did not request this book whatsoever. They're soliciting a belief structure that "must be read by all persons" and requires us to believe in the truth of their Bible. It's a sort of harassment for anyone who isn't a part of the Christian community...even other religious affiliations. Why is it that I don't receive scientific books in the mail? I would rather read about current developments in genetics or neuroscience etc etc. Why can't we receive a book that's like a catalog for religions? Here's some Islam! This month's edition: Buddhism. We don't get books like this for free because no one is gaining anything from it...other than knowledge....and why would we want that?

Freethinkers in the south, unite!

"SAUCE FOR ALL stands for “Southern Atheists United for Candid Expression, Freethought, Openmindedness, Reason, and Living Life.” It was founded in 2011 in Starkville, Mississippi by a pair of students at MSU, with support of several groups around that state. It has since grown to 17 groups in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas, and continues to grow..."

Blogs / Podcasts / Etc.

Sauce For All – About

Doubting millennials double

The percentage of Millennials reporting doubts about the existence of God has doubled in five years, from 15% in 2007 to 31% today. No other generation saw a change larger than 2%...

"Our generation is causing a fundamental shift in how society will see religion,” said Jesse Galef, the Secular Student Alliance Communications Director. “The internet has exposed young people to different worldviews, and they’re carrying their newfound skepticism onto campus to organize.”

Millennials’ Religious Doubts Double, Causing Campus Atheism Boom - Butterflies and Wheels

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hello, everybody

Apologies for my late arrival to the party, but my summer has been unusually busy.  I can't promise that I will be as prolific as I have been in the past with regards to posting and commenting, but I will promise to put God-free in Tennessee in my regular rotation of blog reading.  I look forward to reconnecting with all of you.


Bill Maher's new Religulous is very much worth the watch for any doubter or believer. It's more on the jesting side of atheism--poking fun at the religious, but it's sincere and Bill seems to be fully concerned for the humans around him. He preaches doubt, and that is exactly what we all need to preach.

The end of the film is a sort of call to arms for all atheists and sort-of believers still on the fence. He begs us to let go of the dogma in order to stop the self-destruction of mankind. This is a point that I hope we can all stress when we're in a conversation with a believer. Regardless of the existence of an afterlife or omnipotent being, we should be very wary of what's going on in the world around us. Just because many religious people are peaceful does not mean that many aren't looking forward to the "end times." This obsession with an apocalyptic future leaves many unmotivated to preserve life on Earth. That's something I cannot stand idly by and wave at.

I suggest that all of us Godless Tennesseans not argue incessantly with the religious, but that we try to inspire all of those around us to care just a little more about others and the future of the world as is. You can believe whatever you want about life after death, but it would be a lot easier for all of us if we were a bit more concerned about life before death...and not just our own lives, but the lives of our fellow men and women.

Either way...Hi everybody!! Hope all of your summers are going well!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"What kind of church raises such frightened followers?"

"...the church to which they said they belonged believed that the prayers of any nonChristian were pleas to the Devil, and that even to sit through one quietly would put their souls at risk.

I have no problem with anyone running to save his soul, but from words? From another person’s heartfelt prayer of gratitude? I began my interfaith studies in my junior year of high school, and I’ve sat through lots of prayers to lots of Gods in decades since, and I never felt any fear for my soul. That may be because I don’t believe I have one (having a personal soul negates my belief that we are all manifestations of the One Soul, the One Self, Brahman, God, etc.), but still, what kind of church raises such frightened followers?"

Beyond Religion with Rabbi Rami

The lazy atheist

The blogathon continues...
"It should be easy to be an atheist, since all you have to do is not believe in God. But here’s the thing — it’s really hard.
The not-believing isn’t the problem. There are a thousand good reasons for deciding that God was created by humans, not the other way around. But like not breathing or not stopping at a red light, the problem isn’t the act itself — it’s what happens next.
Tell your mother-in-law or boss or boyfriend that you don’t believe in God and suddenly everything becomes complicated..." 
Dale McGowan, The Meming of Life » 2. The lazy atheist Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Meming of Life supports SSA

Dale McGowan: "Here’s the first of 33 consecutive posts in 16 hours — about the same number I’ve done in the past six months. I do this NOT because I think I have 33 things to say, but because Jen McCreight told me to. I am nothing if not obedient.

I also do it to support the Secular Student Alliance, the World’s Bitchinest Freethought Organization™ and beneficiary of this Blogathon, to which you must donateifyoureachtheendofthissentence. HA! Now go straight to the sidebar and chip in for the future you say you want..."

The Meming of Life » 1. Naked Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Support the Secular Student Alliance

"SSA Week will be ten days devoted to supporting secular student activism. Writers across the country will be fundraising for the secular students, highlighting their accomplishments and bringing attention to their need for your help...What can you do?  Well, you can donate to the SSA.  You could also...

Secular Student Alliance | organizing atheist, agnostic, humanist, and skeptic students

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Welcome Jamie & Dean!

Welcome to new "God-free in Tennessee" contributor Jamie Sutton! He's neither "in Tennessee" this summer,  nor entirely "God-free" by my definition; but he brings a uniquely valuable perspective to this forum. (See his comment on "An Atheist Defends Liberal Religion" below). 

On the question of tolerance and pluralism, Jamie and I do find solid common ground. But I also have a degree of tolerance, even measured approval, for the more hard-core uncompromising atheists among us as well... so long as they're careful to emphasize what's positive and good about non-theism, not just what they reject in theism.

Dean Hall has also taken the plunge, though he warns that holding his "stridency" in check will be a challenge. Good, you'll keep us all on our toes. Dean is the sweetest-natured strident atheist you'd ever want to meet.

More new contributors are in the wings, I think. Andrew, David, Steven, Brian, Rachel, Kat, y'all... Come on in, the water's fine!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Freethinkers of the world, unite...

"Would you like to start or help start a secular student group on your campus? Just follow the steps below to request a free Group Starting Packet"

Request a Group Starting Packet | Secular Student Alliance

Snake-handling in Tennessee

The new Religious Studies specialist our department just hired is interested in studying this phenomenon. She's coming to the right state.
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
While other churches ignore this passage or treat it metaphorically, serpent handlers follow it literally. Their intense faith demands sinless living and rewards them with spiritual ecstasy — the chance to hold life and death in their hands."
Snake-handling believers find joy in test of faith | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Friday, June 1, 2012

The delusion continues

"According to a Gallup poll released today, 46% of Americans believe in Creationism, 32% of Americans believe in god-guided evolution, and 15% of Americans are actually right... We are a country full of deluded people…" Gallup Poll: 46% of Americans Are Creationists

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"God is simply an irrelevance to physics"

“I’m not bashing religion,” [Lawrence Krauss] explained. “In fact, physicists spend so little time thinking about God they don’t bother worrying whether they are atheists. God is simply an irrelevance to physics.” Even so, as someone who recently debated the evidence for the existence of God with leading religious apologist William Lane Craig, he knows that his book could sound the death knell for one of the key arguments on which theists rely. (More below.) As for the likes of Craig, Krauss says they are “hucksters running cheap arguments and pedaling a philosophy that has been overtaken by science. They may not like the way the universe works, but who cares? The universe is the way it is.” Skeptic » eSkeptic » Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Mr. Deity and the Rights

"Just make freedom of religion part of the free will package." Mr. D: "I can't do that!" Mr. Deity and the Rights - YouTube

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You might be an atheist if...

"Dennett was one of the stars of the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne and gave a brilliant and whimsical talk on defining the atheist..."

Or as someone comments: "'You know you're an atheist if you think...' That's the whole quote."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hitch, orator of the mind

"At the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Richard Dawkins offered a tribute to Christopher Hitchens"

Richard Dawkins’ Eulogy for Christopher Hitchens

Saturday, May 26, 2012

An atheist defends liberal religion

Dale McGowan offers more context for Karl Marx's notorious "opium" quote. Marx:
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. 

For most of the people on the planet, for a hundred reasons, life is more painful than it is for me. Before I demand that they give up their pain reliever cold turkey, I need to do something about the pain itself. That’s why I think improving the human condition is THE great humanist project.
In the meantime, I think of liberal religion as the methadone of the people — oh so much better than the original addiction, and a therapeutic step toward the cure.

The Meming of Life » The methadone of the people Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

(Non)belief should never be inherited

"This colorful and engaging book was designed to help foster dialogue between parents/adults and children as they begin to make sense of the wide range of religious beliefs/nonbelief in the world around them. The book's main character narrates as children are guided through a short introduction to three world religions, the concept of afterlife, and on to the character's parents' nonbelief/atheism. Religion or belief/nonbelief should never be inherited - the takeaway message is that everyone should educate themselves and form their own opinions whilst respecting those of others." Nonbelief Book

Thanks for the link, Steven.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Scopes Day

"On May 25, 1925, a grand jury indicted John T. Scopes, a Dayton, Tenn., schoolteacher, for his classroom instruction on Darwin‘s theory of evolution, in violation of a state law that banned the teaching of “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”"

May 25, 1925 | A Tennessee Teacher, John T. Scopes, Is Indicted for Evolution Lessons - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mencken week: Day 2 « Why Evolution Is True

Jerry Coyne had a "Mencken week" on his  blog last week, leading with this on Day 2:
"It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities"...
Mencken week: Day 2 « Why Evolution Is True

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faith makes smart people say the dumbest things

Emory's invited commencement speaker said what?!
"Can you prove evolution? No. Can you prove creation? No. Can you use the intellect God has given you to decide whether something is logical or illogical? Yes, absolutely. It all comes down to “faith”–and I don’t have enough to believe in evolution. I’m too logical!"
Creationist surgeon to give commencement address at Emory University « Why Evolution Is True:

Atheists are people too

"Most atheists do not have PhD’s and high-paying positions at prestigious universities. Many of us are every day people with every day concerns."

Red Neck, Blue Collar Atheist… | Al Stefanelli

Saturday, May 12, 2012

‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ by Edward O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson's Social Conquest of Earth "offers a detailed reconstruction of what we know about the evolutionary histories of these two very different conquerors [insects & humans]. Wilson’s careful and clear analysis reminds us that scientific accounts of our origins aren’t just more accurate than religious stories; they are also a lot more interesting." ‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ by Edward O. Wilson - NYTimes.com:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reason leads to atheism or agnosticism

And that's a good thing, right? Depends on who you listen to.
"The person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic." William Lane Craig.
Yes, really, he did say that. The source is here. A very interesting article. Thanks to this forum.
Does Craig really mean what he appears to mean? You should make your own mind up about that. But these other quotes from Reasonable Faith may be relevant:
"Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa." 
ContinuesStephen Law: Craig: reason leads to atheism or agnosticism

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What do you get out of NOT going to church?

Dale McGowan's "long been interested in what people get out of going to church... you can sometimes get even better answers by asking former churchgoers what they miss about church." The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

I'm more interested in hearing what people get out of not going, and about where else they go that gives them what they used to look for in church.

I get a charge out of walking my dogs around Brook Hollow Baptist, for instance, especially on Sundays.

And slightly more seriously, I often find a trip to the ballpark (usually Greer Stadium here) spiritually filling. And Radnor Lake in Nashville. Warner Parks. Bobby's Dairy Dip. Bosco's & Blackstone's...

Why Atheists Gather

...in person or in cyberspace:
"Because we believe in ideas that transcend religion such as love, respect, science, reason, the separation of church and state and good will towards others." It’s Good to Have a Response When Someone Asks Why Atheists Gather
Nontheists can be lonely in places like middle Tennessee, but we're not alone. "Shall we gather at the river?" Or the pub, or a Sounds game, or...?

Mencken in Dayton, 1925

"Fundamentalists, in the view of Mencken, belonged to the great masses of Americans who neither appreciated, nor contributed to, the best of American culture. They, like most people, were ignorant, ignoble, and cowardly. Moreover, fundamentalists lacked the intelligence to understand their own follies and superstitions.  Homo boobiens is a fundamentalist for the precise reason he is uneducable,” Mencken wrote.    Fundamentalists, he believed, found comfort in the imbecilities of their creed and “no amount of proof of the falsity of their beliefs will have the slightest influence on them.”  They accepted Genesis because it offers a cosmogony “so simple that even a yokel can grasp it”—it holds “the irresistible reasonableness of the nonsensical...

The people of this Christian valley, he wrote, “are simply unable to imagine a man who rejects the literal authority of the Bible.  The most they can conjure up, straining until they are red in the face, is a man who is in error about the meaning of this or that text.  Thus one accused of heresy among them is like one accused of boiling his grandmother to make soap in Maryland.”" H.L. Mencken - UMKC School of Law

My old landlord Winterton Curtis, in town to testify on behalf of science (but barred by the judge) had a different view of the folk:
Many times I sat next to Mencken.  He resisted my attempts at conversation, but I got the flavor of the man from listening to his talk with other reporters. 
The courtroom audience impressed me as honest country folk in jeans and calico.  “Boobs" perhaps, as judged by Mencken, and holding all the prejudices of backwoods Christian orthodoxy, but nevertheless a significant section of the backbone of democracy in the U.S.A.  They came to see their idol “the Great Commoner” and champion of the people meet the challenge to their faith.  They left bewildered but with their beliefs unchanged despite the manhandling of their idol by the “Infidel” from Chicago.... A Defense Expert's Impressions
I do think Dr. Curtis, whom I knew as a kindly old man who fetched dollars from my boyish ears, was too kind to his malefactors. But "boobs" is too rude. Civility, civility. As Kurt Vonnegut said, love may fail but courtesy will prevail.