“God” Loved/Hated Rock Beyond Belief

The first Atheist event in a military context ever.

Rain poured from the sky as I ran from a Wallmart to my rental car, my new raincoat in hand in preparation for Rock Beyond Belief.  When I arrived on post, Justin Griffith, Richard Dawkins, and a full bird colonel were engaged in a press conference while volunteers prepared the stage and did all that was humanly possible to keep the electronics from being soaked from the rain.

When the internet heard about the rain, I sadly was not IN B4 GOD HATES ATHEISTS. But, the rain didn’t last, although it did (presumably) impact attendance. RBB ended up kicking off about an hour and a half late yet as soon as the event started, the sky cleared and blissful sunshine rained down upon us.

IN B4 god loves atheists. [Read more…]

God Given Morality

The Moral Argument.

Since I am a nerd, I often listen to debates on Youtube with one ear bud while I continue to grind to level 30 on LoL. In the past week, I have heard the argument that morality can only have originated from God repeated dozens of times. I dislike this argument, more so because I have read a book that indirectly speaks to this issue quite well. So here is something for my fellow members of the godless horde to toss in your debate “kit bag” as we surge ever forth to fulfill Glen Beck’s paranoid prophecy to destroy grandma, America, and apple pie.

So if you want a good case study in how our morals evolved in respect to homicide those morals are expressed in humans before cultural militaristic / violent societal indoctrination, I present On Killing by LTC Dave Grossman.

On killing is the story of how western governments first recognized an apparent instinctual avoidance of inflicting fatal wounds during battle which was expressed by around 80% of Soldiers. The author goes on to discuss how governments have learned to retrain humans to improve their likelihood of killing in combat with an in-depth discussion on how the United States mastery of Pavlovian training has assisted in the military’s dominance on the planet. In the modern American Military, 9 out of 10 Soldiers will shoot center mass if presented with a situation where he or she deems deadly force is required.

A thesis emerges from On Killing, barring Sociopaths (at least 10% of us), human beings will go through elaborate measures to avoid killing; even doing things that increase the likelihood that the person themselves will kill, such as purposely shooting over an enemy’s head or using melee weapons in the least lethal techniques. Interestingly, these methods of avoiding killing blows are employed by the majority of un-trained Soldiers around the world with absolutely no formal instructions on being less lethal, according to Grossman. [Read more…]

My Leave Hath Been Approved For RBB

Game on

Today I got my leave approved for heading to Ft. Bragg for the wondrous, free, and open to public event that is Rock Beyond Belief. Ed, you owe me beers (for no particular reason) and Justin owes me absolutely nothing (never take from Soldiers). But if one of you can get Richard Dawkins (and anyone else who can put marker to cloth) to sign one of my Squadron T-Shirts, my fellow godless officers who can’t attend are planning on getting it framed and hung in our Operations office. [Read more…]

OP Brown

A silent night.

I just got done with sitting on a ridge line for 2 days. We sat on a windy ridge, huddling together against the bitter wind and whipping snow. We watched as artillery rounds rained down in the valley before us. Night fell. We attached our night vision goggles to our helmets. I flicked my monocle on and beheld my surrounding. For a brief minute, I didn’t feel the wind or the cold. My bleeding lips and swollen knee didn’t matter. For through the goggles, I beheld the stars. Those stars that are too dim to see with the naked eye glowed before me.  It was, as they say, a mind-gasm.

Science really did save my “soul”.

I Love my Uncle but, Newt Hates Him

Medina Valley Independent School District settles prayer case, Republicans surprise no one by flipping out.

 

My Uncle, Federal Judge Fred Biery, is a badass. Last June, he waded into a particularly religious area of small town “Real America” Texas and smacked down the overt proselytizing that had pervaded the Medina School District. Yet, as Fred executed his duty to uphold the tenants of the constitution, members of the political right used his completely unsurprising ruling to fan the flames of Christian “repression” ( Help, Help, I’m being repressed).

Newt “Moon Base” Gingrich was especially blood thirsty as he tried to reassert his conservative credentials, trying to keep his election hopes afloat despite the rising tides of Santorum after the results in Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Newt called Fred an “anti-religious, dictatorial bigot.” Which makes complete sense as Fred continues the proud tradition of the Biery clan. A family that has done nothing but turn out District Attorneys, Federal Judges, civic servants, teachers, and combat veterans since WWII. So clearly my family is a bunch of hippie, communistic shitbags. I am getting a little sick of having my family name, which is not too common, being said with vehement disdain by the likes of Beck, Gingrich, Rush, et all. [Read more…]

A Foxhole Atheist Story

Thanks to the Soldier who allowed me to reprint his story, originally posted in the February issue of ISO Lehti.

Resilient Reflections: On Atheism, Service and Cooperation across faiths.

By A. Stringer.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and not those of the United States Army, the United States of America or any outside organizations mentioned or discussed.

A week ago I was sitting on a bus in Yongsan Garrison, when someone in a seat nearby started talking about the Religious Retreat Center, the only one of its kind in the Army. He was telling his friend about the change to a ‘Resiliency Retreat Center’, as a part of the Army’s move towards ‘Comprehensive Soldier Fitness’.

Sometimes you get the see the fruits of your labors.

Though it’s hard to pinpoint just when it began, it’s become apparent that over the last few years the case for secularism has made itself more and more distinct in the Army. Though it doesn’t by any means signal an end to religion in the force (more on why religion is not bad, later) it begins to break away some of the stigmatism that is associated with atheism and the military, and atheism in general.

Despite the cultural and societal advances of the 20th and 21st centuries, atheism is still regarded as a small and untrusted minority. Religious and political figures use the ‘secularists’ as snarl words in their campaigns, recent polls show us to be as untrustworthy as rapists in the eyes of most Americans,  and atheist advertising, from billboards to nativity scenes, continues to be the target of unpunished vandalism. The often vocal majority continues to peg atheism, and atheists, as devoid of any moral compass or usefulness in society. [Read more…]

Support our Troops Unless…

RBB experiences even more controversy.

“Support our Troops” in a saying that I personally don’t like. I just am not a big bumper sticker person, though I do have one simple U.S. Army star stuck to my car expressly for the purpose of getting out of the occasional speeding ticket. While I do agree with the sentiment behind “Supporting the Troops,” I think that it is used far too often in common discourse. Just like saying “bless you” is almost reactionary for most people when they witness someone sneeze, people will spout something to the effect of “support our troops” when they see Soldiers, it has become almost mandatory.

I think that because it is overused so much, “support our troops” is losing the sincerity behind the thought. Now normally I base this on my slightly nihilistic and narcissistic worldview but, today I have evidence and my evidence is Rock Beyond Belief.

Recently, FOX News reporter Todd Starnes conducted an interview with FTB’s own Justin Griffith. The issue was that Todd saw an opening for a story in a post Justin made on the Rock Beyond Belief website. To introduce the band Aiden, Justin posted one of their music videos, Hysteria, and called it a kick ass “atheist anthem.” The Fox News reporter had his opening, if that was the type of music going on at RBB then a  controversy would erupt, since as we all know Heavy Metal videos are NEVER a controversial art form, EVER. But after conducting the above interview with Justin, Todd on some level must have known that the story was not a homerun. After all the genesis of this event was Justin, a Soldier who we must, of course, support and who is more than a little accustomed to dealing with rules and regulations.

Justin made it absolutely clear that Aiden, like all other performers at the event, would adhere to a standard of family friendly content. But, I guess deadlines are deadlines and Todd ran his story anyway. Soon I watched as people did the ultimate American sin, they shit on Soldiers. [Read more…]

Sign This Thing Right Meow!

Paradise Valley High School wants signatures? Then FINE we will give them signatures!

Update, the preamble of the petition has been updated:

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support. I never imagined that the petition would gain so much attention. However, this whole situation has been a large misunderstanding between myself and the administration.

I never meant to shed Paradise Valley in a negative light. PV is an accepting community of diverse students and staff. I have met with my principal and this situation has been resolved.

The misunderstanding was completely on my end of things. Again, thank you all for your activism and support.”

So the requirement seems to be a case of miscommunication but, in the end the kids are getting their club, huzzah. [Read more…]

Alaska Airlines Ends Prayer Card Service

In response to customer reactions, airline axes mixing prayer and air travel.

 Two days ago Alaska Airlines broke with thirty years of tradition by ending the practice of distributing “Prayer Cards” with meals out respect to company’s diverse group of consumers and their many faith traditions or lack thereof.

What I find interesting is that up until 2006, the airline conducted meal service to the entire plane and during that time most responses to the prayer cards were positive. However, after 2006 meals only were served in First Class and the reviews became more and more negative until the airline preemptively removed the cards. Which says something about demographics, but I am too biased to draw any conclusions.

Anyhow, huzzah for small victories.

(Source: The T and D)