Whoops

Early today I accidentally posted a story about my son that was completely irrelevant to the Atheist Experience. Although 5 people left comments, this was really intended for my son’s blog and not this one. Sorry for the confusion, but I deleted the post.

Too busy to blog, back this weekend

For those of you wondering why I’ve been AWOL from the blog and its comments threads lately, rest assured I am planning a lengthy and detailed post addressing the remarks of Dan Marvin (which a number of folks have been addressing nicely themselves in said comments) — but I will not be able to get around to it until the weekend at the earliest. This is good news, of course; a very busy week is what anyone working in the nebulous world of the Austin film community wants to have. So look for the next big post from me Saturday or Sunday at the earliest. Perhaps in the interim, some of the other guys on the team here — this is a team blog, guys, right? — will find time in their own schedules to toss up a post or two.

Kansas rejoins 21st century

According to Red State Rabble, the Kansas State Board of Education has adopted a new set of standards that undoes the damage done by creationists, and assures that science classes will actually be teaching science. It was only a 6-4 victory, though, indicating the forces of politicized ignorance still have a strong presence there in the heartland. But for now, students from that state won’t find schools actually making them stupid, however much they may not appreciate it.

In commemoration of this event, one day after Darwin Day, allow me to post the following inspirational message, shamelessly ganked from somebody’s MySpace page.

Leileu: a follow-up

Turns out I do have a picture, courtesy of Hollye. RIP, ol’ girl.

A few folks have asked me about helping out Purrfect Hearts, Hollye’s shelter. Right now, she could use — as all shelters could — donations, particularly for litter, which you tend to go through stupefying quantities of when you’re taking care of fifty cats. You cat fanciers can make Paypal donations here. (Yes, I’m the webmaster for the shelter, so you can e-mail me with queries.)

Non-Providencial Poetry

I received the following in my corporate e-mail today:

“Anyway”

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered
   Forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people accuse you of selfish ulterior motives
   Be Kind anyway
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies
   Succeed anyway
If you find serenity and happiness, there may be jealousy
   Be Happy anyway
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow
   Do Good anyway
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough
   Give the World the best you’ve got anyway


You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God
It was never between You and Them anyway.

This wasn’t random spam. It was sent, to the entire company, by a Senior VP. It’s a beautiful poem, but whoever wrote the final lines, doesn’t have a solid grasp on the first line. They’ve completely ruined great sentiments by adding the concept of a God and an appeal to eventual, cosmic rewards for good deeds.

In the final sentence, replace the word ‘God’ with; Zeus, Jehova, ‘Whatever higher power you believe in, if any’, Magical Sky Pixies or Flying Spaghetti Monster and you’ll begin to see how absurd this really is.

If I had sent out this poem (to the entire company) with the last two lines replaced with; “Do good for its own sake — and not because you want a ‘gold star’ from some deity”, I would probably be writing my resume now, instead of a blog post.

If, instead, it had ended with “Do good for its own sake — do it because it makes you happy. Happiness is its own reward.” The poem would have been motivational, true and apart from a little sappy, who could really object?

Why is it so hard for people to see that appeals to a diety only serve to diminish the value of everything?

A flower can be appreciated for its own, natural beauty. To marvel at how wonderful ‘God’ is to have created a beautiful flower is completely backward. An omnipotent God could create beauty we could scarcely imagine; a flower so beautiful that gazing upon it sent one into euphoric fits. Flowers are beautiful, but they’re not miraculous.

If there’s an afterlife, isn’t this life just a place to wipe your feet until you get to the “real” life? Doesn’t the absence of a deity make this life infinitely more valuable? If there’s no cosmic justice, doesn’t that only encourage us to treat each other well, right now?

Let’s celebrate life. Let’s celebrate variety, diversity, knowledge, compassion, cooperation, good works, exploration, achievement and discovery.

No gods required.

When life intrudes…

Not much activity here the last few days. Well, the other guys post pretty rarely anyway, but I’ve had a number of other obligations on my time so it’s been quiet here overall. As for the final TAM report, I will probably post some photos and a quick rundown of the last day shortly. But to be honest, I’ve been kind of disappointed by the lack of response to the TAM coverage, so I’m wondering if the trouble I went to — running all over town to rent a laptop in the midst of an ice storm, paying the ridiculous surcharge for wifi that didn’t even extend to the Riviera’s convention center — was worth it. I’m sure it was; those reports resulted in much higher than usual traffic on the days they were posted. But the comments were light to nonexistent, making me wonder if the largest skeptic’s conference in the US is something people care all that much about. I mean, they really should. For all the work Randi’s doing, the woos and wackos still draw bigger audiences, and we need involved, not apathetic, people on the pro-reason and skepticism side making their voices heard.

Anyway, not to come across all angsty today. But I thought an explanation of why I’ve had better things to do than blog here over the past week was in order. I imagine I’ll get fired up again here soon. Somewhere out there in the world are religionists doing stupid things that deserve a smackdown, and I’ll be back here with a big smile on my face and a big stick in my hand.

Fear of an atheist planet

A Christian author by the name of Os Guiness is warning of a “growing atheist backlash to the political strength of Christian conservatives.” Well, duh, and it’s about bloody time, too! We’ve had it up to here with theocrats and religious demagogues attempting to legislate their faith, replace proper science education with Sunday School myths, deny large segments of the population basic rights like the ability to buy birth control or get married or have joint insurance for no reason other than ignorant prejudice, and generally running the country (and the world, if the gleeful drive towards Armageddon in the mid-east is any indication) into the ground. The fact that many of said theocratic demagogues are either arrogant bastards who think little things like tax laws don’t apply to them, or repellent hypocrites who rail publicly against giving gays and lesbians marriage rights while conducting alleged meth-fueled extramarital gay sexual liaisons with male prostitutes on the down low, only makes a backlash far more essential to the health of the body politic.

Guiness says:

…he hopes there can be a respectful exchange of ideas somewhere between the militant extremes of religious violence and militant atheism.

What is this “militant” atheism of which he speaks? I know some people have called Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins “militant,” but as far as I can tell, they only seem “militant” to theists who have heretofore gone through life enjoying an undeservedly privileged position of holding beliefs that it is considered impolite and “just not done” to question and critique in any public forum. If atheists can only be called “militant” because we exercise our free speech rights to voice our opinions, then it seems to me that cheapens the true meaning of the word “militant,” which can, I believe, be better applied to theistic maniacs who crash airplanes into buildings, shoot abortion doctors, beat up gay men, slice off women’s clitorises, and, you know, wage massive wars.

And if Christians want a “respectful exchange of ideas” with this “militant” atheist, perhaps they can start by repudiating the notion that I deserve an eternity of torture simply for not believing as they do.

That’ll do for starters.

The Worldview Quiz

Discovered this by way of my very favorite godless blog grouch in all the world, PZ Myers at Pharyngula. Go ahead and try it yourself. The choices are pretty much A vs. B or C, but then when you think about it, the questions being asked seem to have pretty doggone obvious answers to me. Then again, I did have kind of a problem with question 8, which I thought I could give two answers to.

Anyway, I ended up in exactly the same dot on the x-y graph as Carl Sagan. Fancy that.