Anti-Theist Activism Is Social Justice Activism

I’ve seen many atheist activists, particularly young atheist activists, dismiss the idea of doing anti-theist activism because they’re “interested in social justice”. This is wrong.

It isn’t wrong that they don’t want to do anti-theist activism. Being confrontational, particularly about a topic that raises emotions and tangles with taboo the way religion does, isn’t for everyone. It’s a long haul without much in the way of immediate reward. Besides, there is plenty of social justice work needing good, dedicated, atheist hands. As long as you’re accomplishing something in line with your goals, the good kind of activism is the kind that keeps you motivated to keep pouring your time, energy, and money into it.

However, I have to disagree with the idea that anti-theist activism isn’t social justice activism. [Read more…]

Saturday Storytime: Boat in Shadows, Crossing

Tori Truslow says she’d like to be a genderfluid cyborg on Mars. Given her talent for making the suspension of disbelief a small thing, one would almost think it could happen. Thanks to AJ Fitzwater for the pointer to this and other good short fiction from 2013.

Listen: down in the mangroves, just a few days before this story-telling night, a certain fisher pulled up wicker eggs that turned into wicker fish. He showed his wife the trap that bore them, shiny stones tied onto it like eyes. She shook her head and turned to their daughter.

“It’s because you made it too lifelike,” she scolded, “and now something’s possessed it.”

“Oh, no,” the daughter said. “I made it more deathlike. So it’d suck fish to the same fate.”

And her parents thought, and conferred, and spoke to their cousins and their neighbors, who all agreed: a girl with such a talent could marry well.

One said he’d heard of a wealthy ice merchant from across the seas with an unmarried son, who needed someone with haunt-tricks to help their business—he had bought a ghostwood barge to use as a roving shop but couldn’t get it to go. Now, Bue’s parents cared for their daughter but not for ghosty fish-traps—and to be joined to a merchant family was a fine thought. So they asked her, as they sat down to supper, what she thought.

“But Ma, Pa, who’ll tend the traps?” Under her calm face, dismay tumbled with delight. The city, the city! But as a merchant’s wife?

“I can do that,” her mother said. “Just think! No more blistering your fingers with work, but sitting in a high chair and commanding a house! And there’d be money to send home.”

“So send me as a servant,” Bue said, ladling soup into their bowls. “I’ll earn you some coin, and I’d rather work with my hands than worry about accounts.”

“I’ve heard nothing good about rich boys and servant girls,” said her father.

Bue’s smile was not a delicate thing but a big rash grin when she said, “why should I be a girl?”

Keep reading.

Permission to Shock and Anger

Chris Stedman has done a good job advocating for atheists recently, which made his opinion piece for CNN this Saturday all the more disappointing. What did he do with his opportunity to speak to a national media audience? He told Dave Silverman and American Atheists to stop waging their War on Christmas. Specifically, he objected to this ad, which ran in Times Square in New York City this month:

Stedman gives several reasons for his suggestion, and even aside from the fact that I oppose limiting our types of activism on principle, I disagree with them all. Let’s start with his basic statement of the “problem”. [Read more…]

“A Manual for Creating Atheists”, Peter Boghossian on Atheists Talk

This Sunday Atheists Talk will speak with Dr. Peter Boghossian. Dr. Boghossian is a philosopher, skeptic, author, and public speaker. He is currently an instructor of philosophy at Portland State University in the College of Liberal Arts and Science’s Department of Philosophy. Dr. Boghossian’s primary research areas are critical thinking and moral reasoning. He joins us to discuss his newly published book, A Manual for Creating Atheists.

From the publisher:

As an urgently needed counter to this tried-and-true tradition of religious evangelism, A Manual for Creating Atheists offers the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith–but for talking them out of it. Peter Boghossian draws on the tools he has developed and used for more than twenty years as a philosopher and educator to teach how to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition and irrationality, and ultimately embrace reason.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

 

Saturday Storytime: The Ghosts of Christmas

Paul Cornell is most broadly known as a writer for Doctor Who, though he’s worked widely in television and comics as well. He wrote the scripts for “Father’s Day” and the two-part “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”. He wrote several original Doctor Who novels and created the character of Bernice Summerfield, a character many feel inspired River Song. This short story also explores the concept of time travel, though in a very different way.

I grew numb with fear as autumn turned to winter. I grew huge. I didn’t talk to Ben or anyone about how I felt. I didn’t want to hear myself say the words.

In mid-December, a couple of weeks before the due date, I got an email from Lindsey. It was marked ‘confidential':

 

Just thought I should tell you, that, well, you predicted it, didn’t you? The monkey trials have been a complete success, the subjects seem fine, mentally and physically. We’re now in a position to actually connect minds across time. So we’re going to get into the business of finding human volunteer test subjects. Ramsay wants ‘some expendable student’ to be the first, but, you know, over our dead bodies! This isn’t like lab rats, this is first astronaut stuff. Anyway, the Project is closing down on bloody Christmas Eve, so we’re going to be forced to go and ponder that at home. Enclosed are the latest revisions of the tech specs, so that you can get excited too. But of course, you’ll be utterly blasé about this, because it is nothing compared to the miracle of birth, about which you must be so excited, etc.

 

I looked at the specs and felt proud.

And then a terrible thought came to me. Or crystallised in me. Formed out of all the things I was. Was already written in me.

I found myself staggered by it. And hopeful about it. And fearful that I was hopeful. I felt I could save myself. That’s ironic too.

My fingers fumbling, I wrote Lindsey a congratulatory email and then rewrote it three times before I sent it so that it was a model of everything at my end being normal.

I knew what I was going to be doing on Christmas Day.

Keep reading.

“Not Home for the Holidays”, Sarah Morehead on Atheists Talk

For many of us, even as atheists, the winter holidays are a time of celebration, feasting and gifts with family. However, for some of us, leaving religion came with the cost of leaving part or all of our families behind. Some of us have been shunned. For others, strife over religion makes time with our families anything but a happy holiday.

Sarah Morehead is the Executive Director of Recovering from Religion, an organization that has helped to support countless people through and after their transition away from belief. She has experience with the challenges of losing faith as part of a strongly religious family and with helping others through the same process. She joins us this Sunday to talk about the challenges formerly religious atheists face during this time of year and some of the ways people find to cope.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

Saturday Storytime: Blood Makes Noise

Gemma Files claims to be perfectly ordinary–until you take a peek inside her head. Have one such peek.

I press my eyes closed, momentarily forgetting to remember just how deep we must already be. HPNS regulations at least breached, for certain-sure, if not exceeded — more than deep enough to check my hands for tremors, and count off the rest of those prospective High Pressure Nervous Syndrome symptoms our mission literature listed:

Increased excitability, motor reflex decay; aphasia. Mental glitches.

 …under the deep black sea, who loves to die with me…

—glitches. Psychosis. Cyanosis.

And eventually…

I slam my head back, skull on wall, hard enough to ring myself true — short, sharp shock, broken left incisor into lip, tweak of clarifying pain. Instant coherence. Kiley’s rules, channeling themselves: Keep alert. Tell it through. No opinion without research. No solution without…

 …with — out…

“Book,” the Doctor whispers, beside me. I shift a bit towards him, deliberately trying to find the floor’s sharpest angle, to bend my hip in such a way as to make the pain flare just so, girdling my pelvis. Making myself uncomfortable.

“Doctor,” I answer.

“Book, Regis. American. No…registered rank.”

“Specialist.”

He coughs. “I…didn’t know that.”

“No reason you would.”

The Doctor give a snuffling gasp, a liquid retch. Something catches in his throat, rattles there briefly — then flicks out again, splattering the floor between us with wet, red bile. I glance back at the wall I just used for a memory aid, which could frankly use a few shadow animals right about now. And as though he’s read my mind—

—which may, I suspect, no longer be quite as hard to do as it once was—

“Black…Ops…operative. ‘Wet…boy.’ Yes? C…I…A — puppet.”

I smile, thinly. “Whatever.”

But at least you know my first name.

“You…are a — coward, Book,” the Doctor tells me. Then lets all his breath out in one big rush, ragged with the effort, like he expects me to pause, to take note — to congratulate him on his sudden insight, his startling perspicacity.

As though this were really some big revelation.

Keep reading.

“A Better Life”, Chris Johnson on Atheists Talk

One of the main ideas that is celebrated by our atheist and humanist communities is that we can be good without god, that we as nonbelievers can live happy, fulfilled, satisfying, beautiful and good lives without having or wanting to involve supernatural beings. Chris Johnson is sharing this narrative with his new book of stories in writings and photographs of atheists from the US, Canada and UK, A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God. From his website:

I decided to travel through the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and put together a book of photographic portraits. From the airline pilot, to the musician, I wanted to document my fellow atheists and ask them what brings meaning and joy to their lives. The goal of the book was to visually capture the diversity of non-believers and the ways they maintain a better life, not in spite of their atheism, but because of it.

Among those those who were interviewed and photographed  for the book are A.C. Grayling, Steven Novella, Daniel Dennett, Rebecca Watson, Christopher Hitchens, James Randi, Carolyn Porco, Julia Sweeney, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, James Watson, Jessica Ahlquist, Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker.

We hope you will join us this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central time when we speak with Mr. Johnson about his journeys and what he found along the way.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.