“Explore God” and you’ll explore existential despair

Hey everyone, Martin here. Nice to see you all again.

HT to my buddy Amy Angela on Facebook for the heads up on this. Nothing quite illustrates the hopelessness and futility that having a deeply religious mindset inculcates quite like the Explore God movement. A recent post on their Facebook page asks the basic question “Do you believe things in our world are getting better or worse, or both?”

Virtually without exception, the Christians are wailing “WORSE!” — despite generally being folks living in conditions of privilege where they have access to technology, employment and modern conveniences — and pleading for the sweet release of heaven, and atheists are pointing to general improvements in quality of life, while acknowledging the real problems that still need addressing. QED, if you have a rational outlook on life rooted in a respect for science and human ingenuity, you will be a lot happier and more optimistic than those soaked in Biblical belief. And yet they’re the ones who don’t think (hello Oprah Winfrey?) we can be positive and experience wonder and awe. Show me the awe in people who see a world of bleakness and despair.

Here’s a reply I gave to a young woman who needed a perspective check. What are the odds she’ll take my reply as encouragement and food for thought, do you think? (I won’t post the screengrab, as I’m always reminded there are people who use readers that can’t read images. I’m a derp.)

Liliana (So-and-So) Worse! Wish the Lord would come tomorrow!

Martin Wagner Liliana, without I hope being offensive, let me give you some perspective, and perhaps a clue as to how your religious beliefs have skewed your answer here. Your profile’s cover picture is a banner for “Breast Cancer Awareness.” Here is what I found from the American Cancer Society on breast cancer survival rates:

“After slowly increasing for many years (0.4% per year from 1975- 1990), breast cancer death rates decreased 2.2% per year between from 1990-2007. The percentage decline was larger among younger women. From 1990-2007, death rates decreased by 3.2% per year among women younger than 50, and by 2.0% per year among women 50 and older. The decline in breast cancer mortality has been attributed to both improvements in breast cancer treatment and early detection.”

So clearly here are facts and figures demonstrating something that is getting better and not worse (except for certain demographic groups who don’t have as good access to health care). Now, it seems to me there are two ways you can approach something like breast cancer awareness. You can support the scientific research that makes survival rates even better. Or you can do what religion has taught you to do, which is throw up your hands, give up, and beg for the lord to come tomorrow. Which is DEMONSTRABLY the better choice?

Open thread on episode #829: The kinder, gentler AXP

A couple of days ago, we got another email from an atheist, chiding us about what big meanies we are on the show. It was the usual tone-trolling thing: “You will surely admit that your show creates a great deal of anger and resentment in many of your viewers.” Why do guys like that automatically assume they speak for “many” of you?

It all boiled down to Oh no, MY FEELS! He didn’t have any particular examples to give, only that he was convinced our M.O. is to get on the air and make people feel as bullied and devalued as we possibly can.

So, considering how pleasant — almost to the point of the whole episode being a complete emotional flatline — today’s show was, I have to say that some viewers must just watch us highly selectively. We had two theists on the phone today, and the calls could not possibly have been more cordial. The only way they could have been friendlier is if we’d exchanged baby shower invitations at the end. Of course, we have a lot of calls that get heated as well. You can find those all over YouTube. But this is the nature of live television. Sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes hot, sometimes cool. But if you’re going to be foolish enough to characterize the whole show based on what you see go down on a specific episode…well, don’t be foolish.

Anyhoo, discuss amongst yourselves.

Trolling level: ICELANDER!

So this is phenomenal.

Some churches in Iceland invited Franklin Graham to speak at an event there. Now, take into account that in countries not named The United States of America (or Russia, I guess), the kind of Level 9000 evangelism Graham markets — rife with arch-conservative homophobia — tends to be a minority rather than majority viewpoint. Which means that the majority of Icelanders, upon learning that a celebrity God-bothering homophobe was about to pollute their shores, were less than pleased. So how did they respond?

By reserving hundreds upon hundreds of the event’s free tickets, with absolutely no intention of using them, that’s how! The idea is to present Graham with a nearly-empty arena for his blathering idiocy.

That. Is. Epic! But what would you expect from a group of folks who invented something as thoroughly metal as the edda? I think you deserve to compose a new one for this. Well played!

(HT to my friend Amy Angela on FB for this epicosity.)

Right ways and wrong ways

Addendum: The Tumblr discussed herein, “More Will Be Named,” has been deleted as I wrote this. So I guess the general point of this whole post has been vindicated, or something. Well, I wrote this thing, so I’ll leave it up, because the point still applies generally.


Have you heard? Harassment is back in the discourse. Oh frabjous day.

With the recent reveal by Karen Stollznow discussing the harassment she faced during her time with CFI on the part of one of its highest-tier figures, Ben Radford, to today’s followup by Carrie Poppy corroborating Stollznow’s claims and adding that they were trivialized and dismissed by JREF, the message is once again out there: the godless, skeptical community is not yet a Safe Space for its women, even its women respected for their activism. [Read more…]

So we thought, we have this new building and all, let’s use it!

And reviving a certain long-dormant podcast that we all missed seemed just the thing.

We were dead. But we got better.

We were dead. But we got better.

Yes, beginning August 7, The Non-Prophets returns with a biweekly schedule on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Jeff Dee returns to the host’s chair, with Denis Loubet and Russell Glasser in support, with occasional participation by Martin Wagner (dat’s me!). The first episode will be pre-recorded as the show finds its feet again, but after that it should be going out live. And it will be a pure podcast this time, no Google+ hangouts. So it’s very much back to the old days.

Open thread on episode #823

Have at it.

It never ceases to amaze me how often we keep having to go back to “Atheism is a religion too!” and “Why don’t you just call yourselves agnostic?” Cripes. Doing this show for a decade and a half, and every week still manages to feel like you’re teaching a remedial course in Disbelief 101 to unwilling students with no desire to learn.

Don’t harsh my narrative with sexyfun!

This is amusing, though darn it, I wish I’d captured screenshots before the inevitable happened. (Some folks say they have done so.)

So this youth minister, who does the usual thing of framing moral issues strictly in terms of self-denial and guilt, writes a blog post in which he says, among other funny things, “I have never met anyone who is actually happy about having sex before they were married. All I’ve ever seen and heard is massive regret.

A number of folks, including myself, LOLed, and fearing Mr. Buer just wasn’t getting out of the house enough, left comments on his blog introducing ourselves as regret-free sex-positive people who saw no need for either a Bible nor a ring before making hay whilst the sun shines. And gosh darn, wouldn’t you know it? He just up and deleted all our comments and closed the whole article to further comments!

Well, now we know he’s lying when he says he’s never met people like us. But I guess if he wants to inculcate guilt among his readers, he has to keep pretending he hasn’t.

Funny how, in insisting that the Bible mandates “sex is for marriage and nowhere else,” Aaron’s forgotten some of its freakier Brazzers moments, like the time Lot’s daughters got him drunk and incestuously double-teamed him, all with God’s apparent approval. The Bible is absolute this and absolute that, except for the inconvenient parts you can pretend to ignore (rather like inconvenient comments)!

I don’t know about you…

…but for me, today has been all about the schadenfreude.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 7.08.37 PM

In Texas, news is that Rick Perry has thrown a petulant snit over last night’s trouncing of SB5, and has called for a new special session on July 2, to try to ram the law through again. Everyone should consider that anti-choicers absolutely took note of what took place at the state capitol last night, and will doubtless be mustering their troops to put in a heavy presence on the 2nd. I anticipate an epic, Game of Thrones-scale battle.