Is Atheism The New Black? Resources for the New Non-Believer

February 20th, 2010

A few months ago when I finally admitted to myself that I no longer believed in god, I knew I was going to need some support.  So I did what every brand new non-believer does in the era of cyberspace. I googled ‘atheism’.

The first few times I typed the word ‘atheism’ into my google search bar, I felt certain that a thunder clap from heaven would descend upon my quivering hide and immediately smelt me into a blackened crisp.  Just the word alone –  atheism – is such a thorny term.  You can literally feel the pointed horns, see the flicking barbed tail, and smell the charred flesh.  I have noticed that a lot of people prefer the terms ‘free thinker’ or ‘skeptic’, ‘secular humanist’ or even ‘infidel’ to the disagreeable snarl of the word ‘atheist’. I don’t like the word ‘atheist’ either. Not because it is a bad word, it’s just the images that the word tends to summon. It seems to describe someone who rejects goodness and light, someone who has a stone in place of a heart, someone who spits on bibles and urinates in churchyards laughing maniacally all the while.  I too had this idea in my head and panicked at the thought of one of my kids coming up behind me while I was watching Mr. Deity or a video of Richard Dawkins interviewing Ted Haggard I mean JESUS!  What if my entire family finds out that I not only don’t believe in god anymore, but that I am actually looking for OTHER PEOPLE that don’t believe in god EITHER!  

But I was desperate.  So I kept up my secret searches when the house was empty or everyone was asleep.  And Lo!  In the midst of my searching a new heaven and a new earth did descend.  And a world of atheism opened up before my very eyes.  AND GUESS WHAT!!!  It turns out that I am not the only person who has ever lost their faith and then looked on the internet to find other people that were in the same boat.  

AND GUESS WHAT ELSE!!!!  

None of these sites were coated in pure evil!  

I know!  

It’s so totally weird!

There were no melting humans or smoldering cauldrons.  No gnarled fingers, poisonous apples and toothless rag pickers muttering curses under their breath.  I must admit that I was mildly disappointed in the benign appearance of the various atheism sites.  I mean if you are going to be an atheist on the internet shouldn’t you at least take a photo of yourself with a large ’666′ on your forehead and stick it up on the header?  But these people weren’t scary at all!  And once I started to read, listen, watch and participate in their sites, I discovered that they are actually quite sane! 

MAYBE THE MOST SANE PEOPLE EVER!

But there is MORE!

Because there are a lot of intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate atheism sites out there.  

A LOT!  

No.  

You don’t understand.  

There are more intelligent, thoughtful and influential atheism sites on the internet than you can imagine!  And best selling books, world renowned comedians, clever skits, powerful debates and riveting videos.

It is almost like a quiet revolution is taking place.  

ON THE INTERNET!

Where once atheism was such a reprehensible idea that no one felt free to utter their disbelief aloud, the internet has allowed atheists to find each other.  To talk to each other.  It offers safe zones and communities where fellow unbelievers can discuss issues freely amongst themselves without worrying about a social stigma.  There are also believers on those sites.  Their dissent is tolerated and their debate is welcomed, but for once they do not have the crushing power of the majority.  The success of these sites, books, videos and other resources honestly makes me wonder if the belief in any kind of a god will come to a complete end in my own lifetime.  

I know!  

It’s a crazy thing to say!  And probably completely wrong, but once you have participated in these groups, seen the sanity of the way they think, understand that humanity is so much better at taking care of themselves than any imaginary deity – you begin to see such incredible potential.  

Potential for war to just dry up altogether because if people aren’t fighting over god, they really aren’t fighting that much. 

Potential for people to take full responsibility for the here and now because there is no golden eternity with wings and a halo waiting for them on the other side.  

Potential for the focus of life to change entirely from  grab, grab, grab, and go.  To care, care, care and prepare.  

I wanted to make a list of the resources and sites that were critical for me especially during my first few weeks of disbelief. Thanks to everyone who writes, creates, and keeps these sites going.  They helped me greatly when I really needed it and they continue to help and provide support for me in this brand new way of looking at life.  

 

Atheist Blogs 

Unreasonable Faith  – Written by Daniel Florien, a former evangelical christian who attended bible college and worked in christian ministry.  Daniel was just never able to completely shut his brain off and he kept thinking, reading, thinking, reading and in the end, god had to go. There is also a forum that accompanies his blog on such topics as evolution, creation science, close minded relatives, and what three movies would you take with you on a deserted island (assuming a DVD player is available). I also found a great interview where Daniel addresses all that guilty sex before marriage that christians can’t seem to stop having even though it is so, so, SO bad.

The Red Headed Skeptic – A former Baptist Minister’s wife lost her belief and then her marriage and writes about her journey. This is a very compelling and often sad story, but Laura is determined to keep moving forward with her new life.

The Friendly Atheist – Written by a Chicago math teacher Hemant Mehta, the same guy who sold his soul on Ebay.  People often write to Hemant and the contributors on his blog seeking advice on how to handle various issues that occur when one does not believe in god.  Everything from how to escape from a country with unbearable religious tyranny to how to deal with angry relatives that can’t cope with an atheist’s disbelief. His blog also covers a variety of other issues.  

Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees? – If you are a person of faith or diminishing faith and have never asked yourself this question, the time has come. I don’t know how many hours of my life I have sat in church services while the prayers of the people were lifted up one by one almost all of them asking god to heal various illnesses throughout the congregation. Miraculously, many of those people were healed – cancers, heart attacks, more cancers, even more cancers, EVEN MORE CANCERS, but never once did a person ask god to re-grow an amputated limb. Why is that? I mean if god can make a tumor disappear, why can’t he re-grow a leg?  God Is Imaginary  is another site that appears to be written by the same author who chooses to remain anonymous. This site is a great collection of essays and videos that look at christianity and the bible from a perspective of hard core reality.

Julia Sweeney’s Blog – Okay, I just found this one and Holy Crap! I am going to go leave a comment on Julia Sweeney’s blog right now!…  Okay, I’m back….  Julia Sweeney is the actress that was ‘Pat’ on Saturday Night Live.  Surely you remember Pat! How can you forget Pat?!  She also wrote the wonderful movie “And Then God Said Ha!”  which is a must see.  I have also linked to her show ‘Giving Up God’ in the video section of this post.  If you want a gentle approach to understanding how a true believer can become a true unbeliever this is the show you need to hear. Beautifully, humorously, carefully, and tenderly done.  I think even my mom would like it.  

 

Thought provoking videos/films

 Mr. Deity – Oh Lordy – You have to watch all of these. You will never look at your faith the same again. A reader of my blog directed me to these videos many months before I officially gave up my faith and it became even harder to keep up the last bits of my farcical belief after I watched them.

God Is Imaginary  - This video forces people to examine what they really believe if they think the bible is ‘god’s word’.

Ricky Gervais on the bible. - Hilarious! You can’t watch this video and not be forced to look at the insanity of what christianity requires people to believe. Unless you are insane yourself.  Or completely devoid of a sense of humor.  

Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God - As I mentioned above, this is the show to listen to if you can’t comprehend someone giving up god after a lifetime of belief. Funny, thought provoking and bittersweet, only Julia could make us laugh and cry over her loss of faith.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Four of the world’s most well known and extremely brilliant atheists from various fields of study (biology, journalism,neuroscience and philosophy)  sit around and talk about religion, politics, morality and atheism. An absolutely fascinating film.  

 

Some Truly Riveting Debates.

I spent entire days watching famous religious apologists like William Lane Craig go head to head with brilliant scientists and journalists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.  It’s amazing to see how defensive the theists are and how relaxed the atheists are.  After all, it is the believers that have the burden of trying to prove that an interested, caring god exists.  By the way, has anyone ever asked why they are called ‘christian apologists’?  Is that because they have so darn much to apologize for?  

Christopher Hitchens (atheist or anti-theist, best selling author and political commentator) vs. the Reverend Al Sharpton(former presidential candidate, civil rights activist and devout christian).

Richard Dawkins (one of the world’s foremost evolutionary biologists and avid atheist)  vs John Lennox ( Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science and devout christian)

Christopher Hitchens (journalist, best selling author, anti-theist) vs William Lane Craig (professional and excruciatingly uptight, christian apologist)

There are hundreds of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins videos that are wonderful to watch.  They are both great speakers with tremendous wit and sparkling intellect.  You can literally feel your mind expanding just by listening to them. ‘Tis a good cure for anyone who may have spent too much time over at Pioneer Woman (har har).

Please feel free to add more great resources in the comments.  

Or not.  

Peace Out,

Rechelle

Comments

  • Spinny:

    Rechelle, if you haven’t seen any of his stuff yet, Tim Minchin is absolutely hilarious.

    His 9-minute beat poem Storm is amazing and my new favorite Christmas song is his “White Wine in the Sun.”

    Storm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0W7Jbc_Vhw

    WWitS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

    I was really happy to find such a funny comedian who is so intelligent and also an atheist.

    I also love the Ricky Gervais bit you linked. He is another smart, funny guy. One of his stand-up specials is on my DVR right now.

  • Melissa:

    That Ricky Gervais clip is hilarious!

  • LucyGolden:

    Thanks for all the great links. I can’t wait to wade through them!

  • Ah and let’s not forget the Intelligence Squared Debate:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XpGyHJZ9b0

    Christopher Hitchens and especially Stephen Fry is a delight to watch. That is, if you can manage to stand Ann Widecomb.

  • I never had any faith to lose, yet really didn’t have non-belief either. I had a boyfriend several years ago who was into Bible prophecy and the like, so I listened along and pondered. But really, I knew in my heart that I did not believe in God. It’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve felt comfortable saying “I am an atheist.” Even then, sometimes it’s hard to speak up…

    I’ve also found the online resources to be really helpful – and entertaining. I’m particularly fond of Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/), and enjoy Planet Atheism (http://planetatheism.com/), which aggregates a number of atheist blogs.

    And I’ve really been enjoying your blog too!

  • Cooter:

    Absolutely anything by Robert Ingersoll:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_G._Ingersoll

    Too few remember him today, but everything he wrote still rings true. He was a man far, far ahead of his time.

  • Wendy:

    If you’re a parent…the blog Meming of Life by Dale McGowen and all of his books, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers are WONDERFUL. His writing helped me immensely.

  • Johannes:

    Thank you for posting.
    And all the best for you and your thoughs!
    kind regards from a likeminded person from europe.
    keep publishing!

  • MKB:

    An interesting blog to see what is up with young people is Blag Hag by a female student at Purdue: http://www.blaghag.com/.

  • paula:

    None of these sites were dripping in pure evil…
    well – check out http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula

    damn’d funny atheist blog. PZ might not have 666 emblaxoned on his forehead, but Im sure some of his commenters do!

  • paula:

    doh. emblazoned. sorry

  • lola falana:

    It’s not that I don’t “believe” in God, it’s that the question of “God’s” existence is mostly irrelevant to my life. Theism is but one philosophy, a way of organizing life, of approaching the tough questions that occur to the mammal with the large forebrain; those questions being: why are we here, what does it all mean., etc. And the less conscious why do we die and I’m afraid to die. And many, if not most humans persist with magical thinking into adulthood.

    Important to remember that Christianity is but one of many theistic philosophies. Does God exist? It’s highly probable that we created him. Rochelle, you may enjoy reading Western traditional philosophy. Puts the bible in broader perspective.

    As a scientist, faith has had little to do with my approach to knowledge of the world, and proof has had everything to do with it. Yet, there are many researchers who firmly believe in God. Go figure. I cotton mostly to rationalism and existential philosophy.

  • Lori:

    “Potential for the focus of life to change entirely from grab, grab, grab, and go. To care, care, care and prepare.”

    Just out of curiosity, if one doesn’t believe in an afterlife, what is one preparing for?

    Very interesting this turn you have taken in your life. Was it a long transition or was it one event that made you question? I went thru a period of questioning also (d/t some fellow “Christian” behavior) and it was one of the toughest periods in my life. Thankfully, I am on the other side and I am actually thankful it happened. The situation made me much stronger in my relationship with Jesus and much wiser about humanity. I take it you have never read any C.S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn or Josh McDowell books? Very good for the other side of the debate…

  • Anna:

    What to prepare for? How about actual life?

  • Ashley F.:

    Thanks for the links round up–as I mentioned once before, Julia Sweeney’s story is what really tipped the scales in my mind when I was struggling with these things myself.
    Also, this is the absurd Google ad that showed up for me:
    http://i46.tinypic.com/2j66bs9.jpg
    I snickered.

  • Kimberly:

    Hitchens: “Look through the Hubble telescope if you want to see something awe inspiring, don’t look to blood-stained, old myths.”

    Thanks for the debate links, Rachelle, they are great! I like to refer to myself as an animist, I feel it blends my non-belief in a god and a ‘worship’ of the natural world around me. That, and I am a child of Daniel Quinn. :)

  • Brian V.:

    Landoverbaptist.org is a recommended church if you are ready to see the hatred of sin brilliantly, caustically displayed. It’s not for everyone but as a recovered religio Baptist preacher’s son, these folks are a balm to me. Best wishes Rechelle.

  • Well, since you asked I’ll just plug my own site…

    http://www.agnosticweddings.com

    If hell existed I could say I only marry the hellbound.

    Check it out!

    Sasha

  • Carol:

    Rechelle, you can not be serious that wars end when there is no belief in god. Jeepers, heard of Stalin? There are warmongers interested in power in every form of belief of god and no god. Atheism is no more the answer to the problems of the human being than is theism.

  • Katherine:

    I thought of sharing some links with you..but something told me you were probably already digging on your own.
    I hold the same common sense thought on war ending when religion does, but we know that isn’t going to happen any century soon, all we can do is work with the younger generations to try to get them into the light of awareness.
    I wish there had been more support for me way back in the late 60′s and early 70′s…but there was no internet and I was stuck in small town America with Christan values holding me back from discovery and freedom.
    Sorry…got on a little rant there

  • When I was in college (only a couple of years ago), I told a dear (very Christian) relative that I was thinking of minoring in religion. She said, “For someone who claims not to be religious, you sure are interested in religion.”

    “Yes,” I said. “I’m also interested in serial killers. It doesn’t mean I want to be one.”

    She had no comment after that.

    I am not an atheist, but I do not feel that organized religion is right for me.

    You go, girl.

    Jules

  • What does this line mean, Rechelle?
    “Potential for the focus of life to change entirely from grab, grab, grab, and go. To care, care, care and prepare.”
    I mean, I don’t feel I’m leading a grab, grab, grab, and go life now.

    Typically I avoid religious sites, and I have the same inclination to avoid these. I’m dismayed by the hatred and vitriol that can be a part of sites dealing with belief or non-belief. I’ve spent too much time in the past being hurt and angry or just completely wrapped up in what someone else is saying (or rather *how* they are saying it), and now I just avoid it. Civil conversation and respectful debate are wonderful, but I don’t expect to find it often when the sole topic is belief or disbelief.

    I’m wary of the believer and the non-believer alike, and I find that incredibly sad. If people can truly do so much better of a job at taking care of themselves and one another, why don’t we do it? I think a good start is not calling each other stupid for what we choose to believe.

  • Jenny:

    I’m with Carol. I don’t believe that all wars are fought for a God. I’m not sure very many are at all. Fighting for a God sounds a lot better than what could be the truth…fighting for vengeance, power, money or land. It’s probably a simplistic view to think war would end if humans gave up believing in “a God”.

    I have often wondered if religion began in the first place as a way to “control” some of the unpleasant elements of human nature. For many I think a belief in a higher power is comforting because it’s hard to be strong enough to carry the whole responsibility. To me the trouble isn’t with finding comfort as an individual in the thought that there is a God, but in the human definition of who that God is and what he wants from us…also the human tendency to want our fellow humans to act in prescribed ways, which often leads to judgement. Is it a good thing to have rules against killing or stealing, etc? How else would we make it through the day? Is it not-so-good to believe that what you “must” believe resides in the Bible, the Torah or the Koran (et al.)? Doesn’t that limit a human’s thinking power? I also think it takes a person down the path of I’m right because I have the Bible, et al. to back me up and YOU are wrong.

    Sadly, I think we humans are a bit psychologically frail and we are often shaken when someone thinks differently from us. I’m with Jenni that the “how” you say it does matter, but assuming it’s well said, we could strive to be more open to other perspectives. Being more open to understanding one another may be more important to peace in the world than whether or not someone believes in a God.

  • LucyGolden:

    Hi Rechelle! I’m curious, now that you’re no longer bound by the chains of religion, what do you do on Sunday mornings?

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    LucyGolden – LOL, that’s what I was just thinking!

  • Christine from Canada:

    Relgious people don’t see how ALIKE they are to other sects of whom they make fun.

    My Catholic friends are just appalled at other churches’ rites and rituals. Are you KIDDING me???? As if crossing themselves automatically in church and repeating mumbo jumbo after certain phrases, or standing/kneeling/sitting at the ring of a bell isn’t brainwashing. One friend in particular is terribly OCD about her Catholicism — never ever missing a mass (she’ll go on a Saturday night if she can’t make the Sunday), pinning a St. Christopher’s medal on all four of her babies until a certain age, etc. For the love of God in whom I do not blieve, how is that different from Mormons’ magic underwear????

    They know that I’m an atheist, but there will come a day (when I’m feeling particularly menopausal and edgy) that I might say these things in a loud and sarcastic voice to them.

    *Sigh!* But that would make me no better than religious nutcases trying to convert ME…

  • Rechelle:

    Iola – I just watched Richard Dawkins speak at TED and he cited a survey of the National Academy of Sciences that revealed that only 7% of leading scientists believe in a personal god. 20% called themselves agnostics and 73% DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD AT ALL. You can find the talk here – /www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxGMqKCcN6A. Fast forward to 17 minutes if you don’t want to watch the entire thing – but the entire speech is great.

  • Rechelle:

    What I do on Sundays – by Rechelle

    We have been trying to have a sort of ‘Sunday Salon’ – which is not a series of beauty treatments but a time when we sit down as a family and read the paper, haul out the globe and talk about current events. They boys are not exactly ecstatic about this, but they also don’t seem to hate it. If it ever becomes brilliant – I’ll write about it. So far it is still in development.

  • @Wendy – thanks for the Meming of Life blog suggestion! On a lighter note, may I recommend Christopher Moore’s book “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”. Delightfully irreverant, surprisingly thought-provoking, and it goes down easy.

  • Chris:

    Rechelle,

    yes, to others it can seem paradoxical the amount of interest in religion we atheists have. But, damn! it really IS fascinating. Like the ubiquitous ‘train wreck’ meme: it was so awful I didn’t want to look, but I found I couldn’t look away. Yeah, like that for me.
    I would recommend “Who Wrote the Gospels”, by Randel Helms. Turns out that, contrary to what far too many religious believe, the gospels were NOT written by those “authors” – oh, shocked I am!
    Keep up the good living, loving, and fun blogging of just being human — love your site. Thanks!

  • I have always found the practice of pretend cannibalism to be more than odd, too, Christine, from Canada. That and a bunch of women wall married to a man, who if he existed, died 2000 years or more ago….

  • Chris-surely the answer is because religion controls ALL of us and therefore affects ALL of us. For instance, the ridiculous Sunday Trading Law in England (and most of the mainland). And the abuse of children, women and gay people.
    None of us are free from religion so of course we think about it if we think at all.
    Your post brought to mind our being taught that the fossils which back up Evolution were placed there by Satan to fool us…. Satan was blamed for many things, including my doubts. I am one his ‘spawn’ according to my family an done of the teachers I had (and I am sure to some of the commentators here too!)

  • Chris – were were taught that the fossils were a trick of Stan to lure us away from the path of righteousness. It was Satan who was to blame for my doubts though in the end they did indeed decide I was his spawn so really I was to blame. I can see the funny side now but not at the time which had me shaving me head convinced I would find a 666 birthmark.

  • Ted Powell:

    What to do on Sunday mornings?Personally, right now, I’m here, while waiting for the coffee machine to do its thing, but what came to mind when I read the question was the song Sunday, from Flower Drum Song.

  • And don’t forget /r/atheism on reddit is awesome as well!!

  • Lori:

    Rechelle,

    I am a 41 year old woman from Colorado. I love to read blogs and started reading yours last spring pretty frequently. I am not sure how I stumbled across it, but you crack me up and –as we are the same age, I can relate to a lot of your posts.

    Oddly (or not so oddly), I was surprised by your post last december regarding attending church in the snow. I just did not think that you were religous. Anyway, I did not see any new posts after the holiday and I had not been back to your blog until today and I went back and read (with fascination) your journey.

    I grew up attending church 3 times a week and my entire family is super religous. Though I always had questions and shaky beliefs, I became a total atheist when I gave birth to my son. Upon his birth I knew at that moment that I could never harm my precious baby. I realized that no god who loved me could send me to hell for misbehaving.

    My now 21 year old son(I was in college when he was born), my husband and I are enjoying our Sunday and not wasting the day away at church like the rest of my family. Though they all believe we are going to hell, we know otherwise. Like you, after I let go of god, I became a more tolerant and better human being with more appreciation of this life. I have no problem knowing that this is all I get. As a child i was terrified of heaven because it sounded super boring and there was absolutely no end to it. I imagined an eternity of sitting in an elaborate church telling god how great he is : )

    I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Lori

  • Lori:

    oh and one more thing, I did not come to your site via pioneer woman. I do not care for her blog content–and she has an odd way of writing that I do not find appealing. I have always wondered what the fascination with her was/is.

  • jan:

    The time has come for me to say goodbye
    Mark 6:10-11

    10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”

  • Rechelle, when you became an atheist, did your husband automatically become one too?

    Why should an atheist be concerned with a Christian who is honestly living by the golden rule and believing in an eternal life? There are plenty of Christians around who make this world a better place, just as there are many who don’t. Even if the atheist is right in the end, what harm did it do to mankind to live as a Christian? And I don’t mean a person who is just religious. Live and let live.

  • LucyGolden:

    Your “Sunday Salon” sounds wonderful. I’d love to be a mouse in the corner listening in…I just lay around with my kitties drinking coffee, listening to the TV morning shows & reading my e-mail…

  • Thank you for showing me the Redheaded Skeptic :)

  • farmgirl:

    Most (all?) wars are because of religion, not because of yes or no believing in God, but because one person wants the other to believe what he or she believes.

    I don’t care if people do believe in God..and I don’t if they do.
    I think it is important to understand but even more to accept that not everybody is the same.

    Personally I think you are going over the top with this subject.
    Who cares if you believe..who cares if you don’t, just love others and love yourself.
    You are trying to “turn” other people towards what you believe, I think that is exactly the same as trying to let people believe in God.
    Even the 10 commitments, with or without a god, it would be nice if people lived by these “rules”
    There would be world peace…..

    I”m happy for you if you feel freed by calling yourself an atheist, I’m happy for others if they feel safe by trust in God.

    Please let them be…and let yourself be, there must be more interesting subjects to write about.

  • PJS:

    May I recommend: http://www.reasonproject.org/. It is an excellent site: “The Reason Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. The foundation draws on the talents of prominent and creative thinkers in a wide range of disciplines to encourage critical thinking and erode the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.” Might be fun to check on during your “Sunday Salon”. My best to you.

  • Ted Powell:

    jan wrote: And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you…For the month of February, there only appear to be two previous comments by jan, here and here.Other people’s views may of course differ, but both of those comments struck me as pretty much conversation-stoppers.

  • Twin-Skies:

    I can recommend a couple of other films. They’re not necessarily atheist in nature, but they do provoke critical thinking:

    1. The Power of Nightmares

    A BBC Documentary on the rise of Neoconvservatism in the US, and how it parallels the rise of the Taliban.

    2. For the Bible Tells me So

    A documentary on the religious right’s attempt of using faith as an excuse for bigotry against homosexuality.

    3. Life of Brian

    A Monty Python film satirizing the fanaticism of Jesus Christ’s early followers.

    As for sites…
    May I recommend Filipino Freethinkers? We’re a community of skeptics in the Philippines.

  • Twin-Skies:

    @Junebug

    Why are you bringing Rechelle’s husband into a discussion that has nothing to do with him?

  • Ted Powell:

    Junebug wrote: Even if the atheist is right in the end, what harm did it do to mankind to live as a Christian?None at all, because anyone who does do harm to mankind by the way they live is clearly not a true Christian.

  • jalf:

    @farmgirl: And yet you care enough to write a comment? Apparently *you* care. Apparently it worries you that people dare to state that they don’t believe the same as you.

    “Please let them be”? Isn’t she? Writing a blog post about your newfound atheism is hardly intruding into other peoples lives, is it? It’s hardly trying to “turn” everyone towards anything.

    Can’t we say “this is what I believe”, without being accused of trying to force our views on others?

    Please share your beliefs. We as a people can only improve through it. If your belief is better than mine, let me know. Perhaps you can turn me into a better person. And if my beliefs are better than yours, why shouldn’t I give you the opportunity to learn something new?

    That is probably the thing that disturbs me most of all about religion: The built-in resistance to questions and to new information. The *fear* of being contradicted. The idea that we should all just let each others be wrong in peace. A few decades ago, many people were wrong about black people’s rights, or about womens rights. A few centuries ago, many people were wrong about the rights of slaves. Should we have “left them to be”? Should we have said “this is their belief, I will respect it, and I will not intrude on it”?

    Or should we voice our disagreement and together try to learn a new, better, truth?

    I’m an atheist. Not because I have anything against God, but simply because so far, no one has been able to convince me that he exists. If he does, I’d quite like to know — after all, I could face an eternity in hell if I’m wrong. So don’t “leave me be”. Tell me how and why I’m wrong. And I’ll return the favor, and try to help you realize how you’re wasting your life in service of a non-existing deity. If one of us can be persuaded to change our mind, isn’t that a good thing? And if we can’t, what have we lost by trying?

    The last thing we should do, whatever our personal beliefs, is to “leave them be”. If you believe you’re right, by all means try to spread your views to those who are wrong. And let them do the same in return.

    The alternative, that we might be wrong about everything and never find out is just appalling to me. If my beliefs are wrong, I want to find out right here and now. I can’t think of anything worse than for people to “leave me be”, when they could have helped me improve myself and learn new things.

    Rechelle: you might be interested to know that in much of the world, the word “atheist” doesn’t sound quite as scary. Atheism is pretty widespread in most of Europe, and what’s more important, the word is taken for what it means: Someone who does not believe in God. No more, no less. It has nothing to do with satanism (which is just worshiping a *different* supernatural entity), or evil, or even disrespecting the bible or churches.

    I always find it interesting how Americans are so polarized over the word: how declaring yourself to be an atheist is almost a declaration of war. Here, no one really finds it at all remarkable if I or anyone else say we’re atheists.

    But it’s always interesting to see how American atheists are struggling to be accepted and understood, or how simply blogging about atheism is considered an accomplishment. :)

  • Ted Powell:

    A couple of news and advocacy sites:National Secular Society

    Promoting the separation of Church and State, we campaign both at home and in the EU against the undue influence of religion in public affairs and education. We defend scientific rationalism, freedom of speech and Human Rights, standing for equality for all regardless of religious conviction or non-belief.

    The Wall of Separation

    The official blog of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

  • Cheyenne:

    I’ll second the recommendation of Dale McGowan. I’m a big fan of his stuff. I’ve got The Meming of Life bookmarked. He’s currently doing a great series called, “Can you hear me now?” about how to effectively communicate with believers in your life.

    I also check the Friendly Atheist and Pharyngula daily. Though, Pharyngula is very much an anti-theist and doesn’t play nice. I especially get a kick out of his mockery of Ken Hamm and all the creationist nonsense.

    Love Mr. Deity! There’s also a lot of good stuff on YouTube. You’ve got to check out NonStampCollector and Edward Current for some great laughs, and I also like watching clips from The Atheist Experience (a public access program from Austin, TX). Lots more I’m forgetting right now.

    As for the commenters who think you shouldn’t write about atheist stuff, that’s such a double-standard! Religious people can write about their beliefs and others’ beliefs all they want, but atheists have to live and let live and never have their voices heard? What???

  • Lori:

    @Jalf

    I would recommend CS Lewis or Randy Alcorn. Great authors, balanced authors if you want to find out more about God. Not hellfire and damnation stuff. Just great reading.

    My thought throughout reading the comments is, as athiests, what if you are wrong?? What if there is an afterlife? I mean, Jesus must have been “something”. He changed the time line (BC/AD). Not a small feat in my book…

  • Ted Powell:
  • Jill:

    Re jalf’s post: I haven’t seen any posts equating atheism with Satanism since Rechelle “came out” a few weeks ago. There are many posts, however, that disrespect the bible and the faith of non-atheists. What I don’t get is why, if a person is an atheist, they feel the need to tear down the faith of others and mock their deities.

    There have been alot of posts regarding fundamental Christians and how they have indoctrinated and harmed those under their direct influence, leading a number of people to reject Christianity as a whole. I can understand this. However, having lived my entire life thus far in the bible belt of the american south, I can assure you that fundamentals are a small minority of Christians. They are not even a majority when it comes to home schooling, by the way. Most Christians live good lives just the way most atheists do.

    Christians are sinful and imperfect just like anyone else, atheists included. Like atheists, theists, agnostics and any other group, there are EVIL individuals. Sometimes those individuals gather like-minded people about them and they are an EVIL group, able to inflict terrible damage on those over whom they wield power and/or influence.

    But they are NOT the majority of Christians or atheists or whatever. All in all, after reading this for the past several weeks, I see the Christian faith being bashed by the nonChristians far, far more than the Christians mocking and denigrating the atheists’ viewpoint.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Indeed, there’s an entire world of common sense out there on the internet! Love it!

    One such YouTube video is by Brian McNaught, a gay man trying to teach heterosexuals what it feels like to be gay among straights. This is relevant in more ways than one: it attempts to instill in gay-hating Christians a sense of fairness and equality toward gays; AND it is a lot like how atheists feel in a world of believers.

    You may have seen this before, but here it is anyway:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7JUFZT8thk

  • Ted Powell:

    Lori wrote: My thought throughout reading the comments is, as athiests, what if you are wrong??This has, of course, been a subject of discussion for centuries. See Pascal’s Wager on Wikipedia.[Jesus] changed the time line (BC/AD).Actually, that was Dionysius Exiguus, in 525. According to Wikipedia the Anno Domini era became dominant in Western Europe only after it was used by the Venerable Bede to date the events in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, completed in 731.

  • The idea that war is caused by religion is a myth that atheists love to perpetuate. If any one were to take an honest look at history it wouldn’t be necessary to go too far back before noting that atheists have the high score when it comes to wartime slaughter….ten million Ukranians killed by the atheist Russian communists, Lennon, Stalin, Pol Pot as well as other Chinese/Asian wars tilt the scale clearly away from religious wars.

    In a book called “Faith and Doubt” John Ortberg writes:”I invite you to consider two alternatives and their consequences. One of them, to paraphrase atheist Bertrand Russell, is ‘You are the product of causes that have no purpose or meaning. Your origin, your growth, your hopes, fears, loves, beliefs are the outcome of accidental collections of atoms. No fire, heroism, or intensity of thought or feeling can preserve your life from beyond the grave. All the devotion, all the inspiration, all the labor of all the ages are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. The whole temple of human achievement must inevitably be buried in the debris of a universe in ruins. That’s what we’re all headed for.’

    Or you can choose this: ‘You are the uniquely designed creation of a thoroughly good and unspeakably creative God. You are made in His image, with a capacity to reason, choose, and love that sets you above all other life forms. You will not only survive death, but you yourself were made to bear an eternal weight of glory you cannot now even fathom and you will one day know.’
    You must decide which one to bet your life on.”

  • Twin-Skies:

    @Clayvessel

    So let me ask you: Did Stalin and Pol Pot kill explicitly in the name of atheism? No they didn’t, so do stop trying to use them as examples.

    And even if they are atheists, do they speak for the conduct of the millions of atheists today? No more than Hitler speaks for Catholics today, and it would be stupid to even attempt to draw that connection.

    Secondly, we would very much appreciate that you cut the bulls**t with trying to assume that atheists live life with no meaning. You are painting a false dichotomy with your quote-mining.

  • Twin-Skies:

    And if I may add, it is EXACTLY because I am capable of reason and love that I decided that devote myself to living. I’m not sure if you noticed, but acting out of kindess to your fellowmen just because of some promise of eternal salvation sounds very, very selfish to me.

    People are an end in themselves, not a means to an end.

  • Brian V.:

    Dear clayvessel, read all of Bertrand R. on this matter and you get a better picture… by better better I mean more balanced, overall rather than snapshot quotes. I find his writings on this matter very full of humor and wit. As a matter of fact, you might read your own post through and change it to say what you really mean, that you would feel lost and destitute without your special belief. This is your personal feeling and has little to do with BR or the evangelical faith you espouse. I am sorry that you are so lost without the sky-god, your personal ticket. I too have felt a similar pain in time. I can tell you, the pain goes away with time and honest feeling. We must be true to ourselves. Honesty is no easy matter and it is especially difficult in the fantasy worlds called churches.

  • Forgive me if this is a repeat. I didn’t see it in your links or anyone’s comments. The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    I went there a lot when I first let go of god. It really shows how absurd the bible is.

    And thanks for the time wasters. After watching the first Ricky Gervais video, I spent the better part of an hour searching for more of his stuff. He’s hilarious!

  • @Twin-Skies: I bring Rechelle’s husband into the discussion because I can, because I was wondering about him, and because Rechelle mentioned that he was partaking in their family Sunday Salon time. I may be wrong but I dare say that I have been reading Rechelle’s blog much longer than you, probably over two years.

    Rechelle,
    PW was the first blog I ever read. I found her because I live in Oklahoma very near her and it was mentioned in the local newspaper. I also personally know the Drummond family and have for many years. I do not personally know Ree. I found the blog after my dad passed away and started my own to express some feelings and post some photos. I found your blog through her website. I have read you because I found you interesting and witty, a good writer and I like your photography. I did not read you because I thought you might be a Christian or sent your kids to public schools. It did not matter at all to me. I looked at your sister’s blog because you had mentioned it and I have never really taken much time to read her, not because she might be a Christian or schools her children at home. It matters not to me. I just found you more entertaining. I still find you interesting or obviously I would not be here commenting.

  • Jill:

    Twin Skies, Christians don’t act out of kindness to their fellowmen just because of some promise of eternal salvation. That is a gross oversimplification, and one that I’ve seen repeatedly expressed in these dialogues – even Christians themselves disagree on whether it is their faith or the way they live their lives that ultimately ensures salvation. At any rate, good people are good people aside from their religious affiliation, or non-affiliation, just as people who commit evil, atrocious acts on their fellowmen do so whether or not they claim any religious affiliation.

    I’m sure you realize that atheists aren’t the only folks who carefully consider and reason their stance, for or against the existence of God. Most adult Christians are Christians because that’s what THEY have reasoned through. Besides the fact that it’s a process for ANYone that continues throughout our lives – what we are so certain of at 15 or 30 or 50 or 70 can evolve or totally make a 180 as time marches on.

    I don’t see where Clayvessel assumes atheists live lives with no meaning. That would be a totally ridiculous stance. I don’t see why she can’t toss out a couple of quotes along with the ones posted all day long that support YOUR point of view without getting her head bitten off. Why so reactive? Live and let live, right? Except when our own belief systems are criticized…? Or is this an atheists only blog now?

  • Twin-Skies:

    @junebug

    Fair enough, I’ll stay out of your way then.

    @Jill
    I have nothing against Christians deciding to live according to their religion. I do, however, have an issue with Christians and people of other beliefs decide to lay down the bible thumping on me or non-theists, and calling our way of living empty.

    Live and let live.

    As for clay, read her quoting of Bertrand Russell’s statement:

    ‘You are the product of causes that have no purpose or meaning. Your origin, your growth, your hopes, fears, loves, beliefs are the outcome of accidental collections of atoms. No fire, heroism, or intensity of thought or feeling can preserve your life from beyond the grave. All the devotion, all the inspiration, all the labor of all the ages are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. The whole temple of human achievement must inevitably be buried in the debris of a universe in ruins. That’s what we’re all headed for.’

    That quote was taken out of context – am I not allowed to point that out? And besides, did I say clay should just clam up when I call her out? I did not. She is welcome to reply as much as she wants.

    I simply will not stand for anybody drumming up a strawman attack an non-theists, much in the same way you dislike being reprimanded. Or will my head also be bitten off when i state my opinion?

  • Twin-Skies:

    Changing a wrongly worded sentence:

    “I simply will not stand for anybody drumming up a strawman attack an non-theists, much in the same way you dislike Christians being demonized.”

  • Jill:

    Probably not. Besides, you simply woudn’t stand for it, I hope.

  • Twin-Skies:

    You’re more than welcome to disagree.

    In retrospect though, I admit that I let my anger get the better of me there. For that, I apologize.

  • @Twin-Skies
    You don’t have to stay out of my way. I’m sorry for being flippant.

  • Jadehawk:

    I want to second the recommendation for Pharyngula; it’s probably the closest to an “evil” atheist site, but only because the comment section is FIERCE. it has been on several occasions compared to a shark tank or a piranha pool :-p

    also, the No Longer Quivering blog and forum are interesting reads. they are written by former members of super-fundie religions, started by a woman who was part of the Christian Quiverful movement but is now a non-believer

    :-)

  • Jadehawk:

    hmm, I think my post was eaten. I was gonna second the suggestion for Pharyngula, which is the closest to an “evil” atheist blog there is. the comment section has been compared to shark tanks and piranha pools :-p

    I was also gonna suggest the No Longer Quivering blog: http://nolongerquivering.com/

  • cath:

    I’m loving this new you, except for the odd time when a dig at someone else makes me a little queasy. I’ve often sat and wondered why most American blogs all have this huge religious twang to them, almost like a badge you must wear if you are an american blogger. In Australia we don’t quite have the same relationship with religion. In fact, looking down my street, I can’t name anyone that goes to church, yet I also couldn’t say whether any of my neighbours are religious or not. We do have our religious crackpots though – we usually tend to step away from them though if they come too close.

  • I have thought for quite some time now that psychic pain, like physical pain, is a sign that something is wrong. I have also wondered how one can judge whether or not one is travelling a forward and upward path rather than doing the opposite and flailing about in lies and self deceit and confusion from all the information available?

    I have come to the considered conclusion that my own psychic well being, my happiness and contentment, is a measure of the veracity or not of my ideas and meaning creations. Since ditching old ideas and replacing them with new ones, my experience of life has changed from one of misery to one of love, creativity, pleasure, happiness, optimism, contentment, consolation.

    My previous received ideas of being a defective, evil person, of a vengeful punishing God who required belief in an unbelievable story and total submission or one would be damned eternally caused nothing but evil: misery, suffering, excruciating pain, desire for death and 24/7 mental, emotional and spiritual pain.

    Pain is our guide. Place your hand on heat, it hurts, you move your hand. Psychic pain is felt but it is not so apparent that to stop it one has to change the cause: the ideas/beliefs held.

    We really do create our own world by our thoughts and ideas and the meaning we create from our experience. Often we are taught ideas and beliefs as TRUTH and this is the root cause of most of human suffering. None of us knows TRUTH and we cannot ever do so. We each develop our own worlds and we inhabit them. We each create differing meanings and ideas from them.

  • Marilyn:

    I find it interesting that some of the commenters think Rechelle’s new life has nothing to do with her husband or children. I strongly disagree. In fact, we have already gotten a glimpse of the effect it has had on her mother. You absolutely can’t be a Christian alone; and, I don’t think you can you be an athiest alone. Your beliefs affect everyone around you.

    To Rechelle – you have explained your reasons for no longer attending church; but, I don’t understand why the other five members of your immediate family are attending “Sunday Salon” rather than their usual house of worship.

  • Marilyn-children have no place in church until they are adults and can think for themselves. Forcing them to participate in an adult idea that they are not capable of understanding the implications is an abuse of them of the worst kind.

  • jalf:

    @Jill: About equating atheism with satanism, I never meant to imply that posts on this blog had done so. It’s just been my experience talking to other Americans that many Christians “over there” feel that “atheism” is a Bad Word, that it has evil connotations far beyond its actual meaning of “someone who does not believe in a deity”.

    “What I don’t get is why, if a person is an atheist, they feel the need to tear down the faith of others and mock their deities.”

    Fair question. I think my previous post said a bit about that. I think questioning the faith of yourself and others is a good thing. I don’t generally *mock* other people’s faith, but I do question it when I get the opportunity. I don’t see this as an attack or as “bashing” anyone or anything, but many Christians are thin-skinned enough to think of it as such, in the same way that even the declaration “I am an atheist” is considered an attack on their beliefs, hence the comment I originally responded to, which requested that Christians be “left alone”… Asking this on another woman’s blog, where she is only talking about *her own* beliefs?

    “Most Christians live good lives just the way most atheists do.”
    Perhaps. (although apparently, atheists are severely underrepresented in US prisons. As I recall, 10% of the US population declare themselves to be atheists — but only 0.2% of the prison population does so. Perhaps an indication that atheists lead *better* lives than Christians? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdVucvo-kDU for these very interesting numbers)

    But is their religion a contributing factor? Does their religion make them more or less likely to live good lives?
    If it has has a negative effect, you’d be better off without it. If it has no effect, there is no harm in criticizing your faith (as long as we avoid personal attacks and disrespecting you as a person, of course).

    “All in all, after reading this for the past several weeks, I see the Christian faith being bashed by the nonChristians far, far more than the Christians mocking and denigrating the atheists’ viewpoint.”
    I have two comments on this.

    The first is, simply, “what did you expect”? You’re reading a self-declared atheist’s blog. Of course it’s going to deal with criticisng religion. And of course it will attract commenters who think likewise. And of course, the picture is exactly the opposite if you go to a dedicated Christian person’s blog: they’ll bash and assault atheism just as much. As will their commenters.
    The second comment is this: Are anyone really being mocked? Is anything being bashed? I only found this blog yesterday, but so far, everything I’ve seen has been respectful and mature on a personal level. I haven’t really seen anyone “mocking” anyone else. I’ve seen lots of criticism levelled against religion, but is that so terrible? I haven’t seen any “bashing”, any unprovoked attacks or needlessly offensive or cruel attacks.

    Perhaps you’re just too thin-skinned and sensitive when it comes to your religion? No offense, of course, but it does seem that many Christians go blindly into defense-mode the moment their faith is brought up. Why? Can’t it survive being questioned? Isn’t it possible to discuss, and yes, even criticize, your faith without it being a personal attack on you?

  • Kimberly:

    Colin-perfect rebuttal to Marilyn. What baffles my mind is why some think that the rest of Rachelle’s family is their business. This is Rachelle’s blog, not Rachell’s Family’s blog. It is up to her whether she talks about her family or not and I’m sure there is a line somewhere.

    I, personally, am just really touchy when it comes to children/family privacy issues. Just because sometime posts a blog doesn’t mean we should be entitled to any part of his or her life that we, the readers, choose.

  • Marilyn – I was driving the church bus around this house Marilyn. When the driver got out of the bus, no one else wanted to stay on either. Because church just isn’t that fun.

  • jalf:

    @Lori: What if I’m wrong? Good question.

    If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong, and that would really suck for me.
    But ultimately, I can’t *choose* what to believe.

    You can’t convince yourself that an elephant is standing behind you, and is about to sit on you. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t make yourself *believe* it.

    And likewise, whether I’m right or wrong, I can’t just flick a switch and make myself *believe* that God exists.

    Of course, I could pretend. I could go to church and play along, and try, as far as possible, to live by the Bible, but I’d still be bluffing on the really important part: I still wouldn’t believe in God, or in Jesus.

    It might be possible to bluff and “cheat” God in this way… But I doubt it. And would you really want to worship a God who falls for that kind of cheap trick? If God wants my belief, then my pretending to believe is as worthless to him as my outspoken atheism.

    If he does exist, I just have to hope for his mercy. Perhaps he’ll understand that I just tried to find the truth, and forgive me for arriving at the wrong conclusion. Perhaps not. But there’s nothing I can do about it, other than try to learn more every day, and *find out* if I’m wrong. I don’t currently believe that he exists. I can’t make myself believe it. But perhaps one day I’ll learn something that changes my mind.

    Of course, we could turn the question around though, and ask a Christian the same thing.

    What if *you* are wrong? Think of all the things you do throughout your live, for your church. Rechelle even mentioned the tithe a few posts ago. Think about it: Paying 10% of your income throughout your life, to an organization that is built on a lie! Think of the hours spent praying that could have gone into doing something useful. Think of the ways in which you could have helped others and spread happiness, if you hadn’t been bound to doing as the Bible says? Think of the people you’d have spent your life hating (again, Rechelle mentioned homosexuals), for no other reason than because a book said so.

    So what if *you* are wrong?
    If I’m wrong, I’m completely at the mercy of God. I know that and I accept it. If I’m wrong, then all I can do about it is try to make the most of my life, and hope that if I live a good life, that’ll count for something to him.

    As for changing the time line, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t do that. ;)
    People did that later, after deciding just how important he was. And yes, he was an important figure. Even if he was just an ordinary man, perhaps a drunken carpenter as some historians claim, even if he never performed a single miracle, he was important in our history *because* people have founded a religion in his name. *Because* our time line is named after him.

  • farmgirl:

    jalf
    February 21st, 2010 at 11:18 pm
    @farmgirl: And yet you care enough to write a comment? Apparently *you* care. Apparently it worries you that people dare to state that they don’t believe the same as you.

    No I don’t care if people are believers or not…and it doesn’t matter what I am.
    I didn’t say that I was yes or no a religious person.
    Only reason I wrote, is that in the past I liked this blog.. .now it changed so much it turned into a I’m going to convert the world blog, that there is no fun in it anymore.

    So I might have react because I would like the same old funny blog back.
    Of course I can shut up and just move on to other blogs and that is probably going to happen.
    I take my loss (in as loosing a fun to read blog) and move on to other blogs.

  • I wonder what sort of God condemns a person to eternal torment for making a genuine mistake and using the brain they created?
    If this God, as we are always told, is a God of unconditional love, then why the fear?

  • jalf:

    @farmgirl: I see what you mean. I’m sorry I misunderstood what you were saying.

    I guess people tend to write about what’s on their mind when they’re blogging. And I think it’s understandable that someone who’s changed her personal beliefs so radically in the last month or two is going to have this subject on her mind for a while. ;)

    People change… And when they do, the contents of their blogs probably does too.

    And you’re right, I can see how this would turn off a lot of those who followed the blog for a different reason.

  • when we label people as evil we deny the possibility of change and thus remove their humanity in our eyes. From a Xtian point of view, it is denying the possibility of redemption.
    Evil ideas and behaviour yes, evil people, no. or ‘hate the sin not the sinner’

  • Maria:

    What’s weird is that you are reminding me of the homeschool blogs/forums I avoid for their preaching……same…but different.

    This won’t get posted I’m sure….but whatever…

  • This may have been covered already, but in debates: Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens v. Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdencombe MP on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world.

    Part 1 of 5 is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XpGyHJZ9b0

  • Jill:

    re jalf: I haven’t declared my own religious preferences (or lack of) on this forum. My comments stem from the entire tone of the subject matter beginning when Rechelle first announced her non-theism. Since you’ve only just joined in, you aren’t aware of the many condescending, judgmental references previously posted regarding concepts Christians (not fundamentals by the way) hold near and dear.

    No, I’m not thin-skinned. I haven’t yet defended my own beliefs, as I’m confident in them and don’t feel it necessary to defend or even share on this forum. However, I’ve been a participant on this blog for over 2 years and am interested in Rechelle’s opinions and challenges. I continue to participate because of Rechelle, and only because I support her and don’t want to abandon her blog because of controversial subject matter.

    I feel strongly that others are free to choose any life course they wish without my judgment. I have spoken up from time to time when I see one side bashing the others belief systems – it can get quite heated. Take a look at some of the past posts if you’re interested and you’ll see what I mean. I didn’t come to this blog because of this particular debate – it was introduced and I’m participating and I don’t have a vested interest in one viewpoint over another. But the sniping at others’ beliefs, whatever they may be, is getting kind of old.

    The statistics of theists in the prison population is interesting, but begs the question…were they theists prior to entering prison, or did they come to that viewpoint once incarcerated? It would interesting to know.

    All in all, the posts more recently have been more interesting, substantive and less antagonistic. I enjoy your comments.

    Colin, I really liked your last post. Well put, and I admire how you’ve handled your journey.

  • Maria:

    Rechelle:My last comment was supposed to be posted on the other post about the Baptist at your door. I came across as snarky, because my posts keep getting lost on here….but honestly the comments “maybe you gave him something to think about…” I have heard out of fundies mouths….different tune, same song, you know…and your blog…write what you want. I’m just seeing a touch of irony here.

    But meanwhile, I am following this conversation with some interest. I’m still suck way up on the comments about wars in the name of religion. Amen (no pun) to that! Could not agree more. And I also agree with the argument stated that wars were done in the NAME of religion/God. It’s abhorrent. However, am I to conclude (being unfamiliar with atheism as a whole) that atheists do not go to war? Are conscientious objectors?? That we would have less war? Or just less war blamed on God??

    Thoughts??

    • Maria! Is that you Maria! It’s nice to hear from you! As to all atheists being conscientious objectors – I kind of doubt that. I imagine there are all kinds of atheists – some objectors and some not. I am new to this idea of atheism so I really don’t know what the rest of the atheists in the world think. It is however obvious both historically and presently that religion is a huge motivator of war – so it seems plausible to me that without religion there might just be a lot less war. It’s no guarantee – but it seems possible. Religion just tends to generate so much hatred which often results in war.

  • Maria:

    “stuck” I’m still stuck….geesh perhaps I could learn to spell.

  • Marilyn:

    Thanks, Rechelle, for answering my question about the rest of your family. I know in my home, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I wish the best for you all.

  • jalf:

    @jill: I see, and I agree. I personally enjoy religious discussions, but I also try to keep it civil. We’re all human beings, and as such, deserve respect, regardless of our beliefs. I think where misunderstandings and conflicts can often arise is in those “concepts that Christians hold near and dear” you mention. A lot of Christians identify very closely with their deity. Many Christians get offended if you say God is cruel. Of course, the evidence is right there in the Bible, in all those stonings and commandments to kill babies and whatnot, but it’s so close to many Christians’ hearts that they feel it is a personal attack to point this out.

    Whereas to an atheist, well, it’s nothing personal. We’re talking about a god who may or may not exist, not the individual Christian we’re debating with. It’s easy to forget that the other person identifies so closely with the subject matter. Of course, no offense is typically intended, but it might be perceived differently.

    Anyway, you’re right, condescending or judgmental statements don’t really belong here (or anywhere else, for that matter), which goes for both sides.

    About the prison statistics, I did a bit more reading on it when I first found the numbers, and apparently it’s not quite as clear cut. The numbers are from a single survey, in which the prisoners were simply asked what they believed. And it was speculated that the numbers may have been biased by atheists being frightened of their religious inmates finding out that they’re atheists. So it is possible that the difference isn’t quite as big as those numbers suggest.

    But yes, more reliable or detailed data would definitely be interesting.

    @Maria: “However, am I to conclude (being unfamiliar with atheism as a whole) that atheists do not go to war? Are conscientious objectors??”
    I think the point is simply that there’d be *fewer* wars if atheism was the norm, because one of the most common reasons for wars has been that it is “God’s will”.
    Of course, wars might still be started over land, over cultural differences or a number of other reasons, but one of the more popular justifications would be gone, and so we’d get rid of *some* wars. Better than nothing. ;)

    I’d love to believe that atheists as a whole are just more peaceful, and it generally fits with my own experience, but I don’t really have any hard data on it.

    But if everyone were atheists, it would put an abrupt end to *some* wars at least. Think of how much simpler the middle east situation would become if religious differences didn’t separate Israel from their neighbors. If they all want to control the same holy city purely for religious reasons.

  • Maria:

    Thanks jalf for your answer.

    I think that you are right, there would be less wars excused by “God is on our side” if everyone was atheist. I think that religions in general tend to be hand in glove with political movers/big business. It’s so much easier to wage a war when you’ve got religion giving the masses the “go-ahead” by blessing the troops, isn’t it?

    That having been said, I have a feeling that taking religion completely out of the equation would only go so far. There would be some other political excuse to wage a war….nationalism runs deep. Patriotic fervor gets intense. And might makes right wins the day. Weapons of Mass Destruction seemed like a good idea, too. Sigh. So while I point the finger at religion myself….I think we’d still have to deal with the whole war thing even w/out religion. Unless everyone just played Gandhi. Or Jesus.(as historical figure) They had some choice opportunities to get politically involved in war and they didn’t go there. Maybe if religion and individuals “just didn’t go there” we’d have an end to war.
    Wait, Wait!! I feel a John Lennon song coming on!!

  • Lori:

    @ jalf

    Thanks for your willingness to “spar” in this. I love a good debate! :)
    Just to hit a few points in your post… I feel my tithe (which I choose to give willingly) is given to the Lord (oh boy, I can feel the heat already that I am going to get for that one). Like any non-profit organization, once the money is given they are responsible to be wise with it. Some churches are built on a lie but not all. Heck, I have known some Christians that lie. But not all do. I do hope I spread happiness and do useful things. I just did a walk for homeless women and children and you know what? I left my big, ginormous coffee table Bible at home. I guess I just didn’t feel like thumping anyone with it… I take meals to people in need (and they don’t even go to my church! What AM I thinking??), I adopted a dog from the animal shelter, I bake cookies for the neighborhood kids. I know, I know. I am a crazy terrible person. It’s that darn Christianity coming out….My Bible states that I am to treat others like I want to be treated, love my neighbor as myself, the greatest of these is love and much, much more. And for the record, I don’t hate homosexuals. And I have a feeling Jesus doesn’t either. As much as Christians make assumptions about Atheists, it seems just as many assumptions are made about Christians. Don’t get me wrong, some things we christians do are pretty blatantly stupid. Um, like attempting to smuggle kids out of Haiti?? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Preachers who commit adultery, Christians who gossip. The list could go on and on. But does that mean I turn my back on Jesus?? I feel following Jesus makes me a better person. Not better than anyone else, just a better Lori… I really think you should check out CS Lewis. I think you would get a kick out of his writing style and what he has to say. God bless.

  • Cheyenne:

    @Lori,

    I’m confused about some of your comments. I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from, but on 2/21 2:53am you said:
    “I went thru a period of questioning also (d/t some fellow “Christian” behavior) and it was one of the toughest periods in my life. Thankfully, I am on the other side and I am actually thankful it happened. The situation made me much stronger in my relationship with Jesus and much wiser about humanity.”
    Then on 2/21 7:35pm you said:
    ” Like you, after I let go of god, I became a more tolerant and better human being with more appreciation of this life. I have no problem knowing that this is all I get. As a child i was terrified of heaven because it sounded super boring and there was absolutely no end to it. I imagined an eternity of sitting in an elaborate church telling god how great he is : ) ”
    And your last comment reccomend CS Lewis and ends with “God bless.”
    Are there two Lori’s? Or do you mind clarifying, because I’m trying to understand. Thanks.

  • Isabel:

    I really enjoy listening to the Atheist Experience. One of my favorites must be “Do You Believe in Australia”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbcS234hvQc

  • Isabel:
  • jalf:

    @Lori:
    re. the tithe:
    But why? What does God need 10% of your money for? Doesn’t he think it could have been better spent elsewhere?

    It’s not really about whether the church is built on a lie. It is the *idea* of funnelling so much money into an organization that spends it mostly on maintaining itself, when it *could* have been donated to people in need.

    You’ve listed a bunch of things you do to help others. Try adding it up. Do you spend more or less on these things combined (both in terms of time and money) than you do on your church?

    Anyway, remember that the point I was making, and to which you’re responding is not that “Christians are bad people”, but simply “what if you’re wrong”. (I never accused anyone of hating homosexuals either, I just said that Rechelle had mentioned it in an earlier post, and it is one way in which *some* Christians might do harm if it turns out they’re wrong)

    If you’re wrong, you’ll still have done all the good things you’ve mentioned, but you’ll have *also* poured so much money, time and effort into a lie. Time and money that could have been spent elsewhere. Either on yourself or on others.

    My point was really just how much you’ll have wasted, in terms of both time and money, if it turns out in the end that God doesn’t exist.

    It seems to me that Christians have at least as much at stake as atheists, if it turns out they’re wrong in their beliefs. If I’m wrong, God might punish me personally. If you’re wrong, you’ll have spent a large amount of resources on a lie, when they could have been spent helping yourself or others.

  • Brian:

    I highly recommend a smart ex-fundy writer, Lorena and Rechelle might have a lot in common.

    http://exfundy.wordpress.com/

    This guy is also a thoughtful writer:

    http://thebeattitude.com/

  • Maria:

    jalf said: “It seems to me that Christians have at least as much at stake as atheists, if it turns out they’re wrong in their beliefs. If I’m wrong, God might punish me personally. If you’re wrong, you’ll have spent a large amount of resources on a lie, when they could have been spent helping yourself or others.”

    What if we’re all wrong.

    God exists but he’s not using religions as we know them because they aren’t following him at all.

    Just a thought.

  • Priss:

    I love to listen to podcasts. You can subscribe through iTunes or zune.net and I’m sure through other programs as well as downloading directly through the shows’ websites. A couple of my favorite atheist podcasts are Reasonable Doubts, which has a lot of counter-apologetics and still is entertaining, and Freethought Radio, from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Point of Inquiry is another one I like that focuses sometimes on religion, sometimes on the paranormal. For Good Reason is a new podcast from the James Randi Educational Foundation and so far has been quite good. There was an interview with Richard Dawkins on that one last week. There are lots of other podcasts on the topics of atheism and skepticality, but these are the ones I’ve settled on listening to regularly.

    I was listening to Freethought Radio’s most recent podcast this morning, and Christopher Hitchens was the guest. Turns out he’s doing a column in Vanity Fair in April on the topic of the Ten Commandments and Rechelle, sounds like his ideas are very much in line with yours. Be sure to get a copy in April!

  • Priss:

    LOL I just read over my post and saw I used the word skepticality instead of skepticism. One podcast I sometimes listen to is called Skepticality and I guess I switched the words in my head. Ah, how I wish I caught my mistakes before posting.