Book Cover Contest – The Runners-Up!

So I’ve already shown you the cover for my upcoming book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, designed by Casimir Fornalski. Here it is again, in case you’d forgotten:



But I got a lot of excellent submissions for my book cover contest. I hugely enjoyed seeing all the different visual spins people gave to this book: the variety is astonishing, and wildly entertaining. And I think all the designers deserve recognition and attention for the work they put into their submissions.

So here, as promised, is the gallery of the runners-up. Designers are being credited as they’ve asked to be credited — with real names, pseudyonyms, first names only, or anonymously — and with Websites and/or contact information, or not, as they’ve requested. Enjoy the gallery of godless rage! [Read more...]

Birth Control, and Why I’m Proud of Americans Right Now

Three recent news stories. You’ve probably already heard about them ad nauseum, so I’ll just recap them quickly so I can get to my point.

Story One: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation organized to fight breast cancer, recently pulled funding from Planned Parenthood, one of the major providers of breast cancer screenings for women around the country. A massive public outcry ensued — and Susan G. Komen apologized and reversed its decision, and the official generally seen as responsible for the decision resigned, all as a direct result of the fiasco.

Story Two: The Blunt Amendment, a law that would have permitted employers to refuse to fund health insurance coverage for birth control or any other medical service they had religious or moral objections to, began to wind through Congress. A massive public outcry ensued — and the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

Story Three: Rush Limbaugh spent three days spewing vitriol at a young woman, Sandra Fluke, who had testified before Congress in opposition to the Blunt Amendment, calling her (among many other things) a “slut” and a “prostitute” for supporting employer-paid birth control, and saying that she should have to post public sex videos if she wanted her birth control paid for by government funding. (Which she didn’t say, but never mind.) A massive public outcry ensued — and advertisers are pulling out of his program in droves, with some affiliates pulling his program altogether.

There’s a common theme to all these stories. And it’s making me very proud of my fellow countrypeople.

The theme: Americans are creating massive public outcries in favor of birth control.

Translation: Americans are creating massive public outcries in favor of sex for pleasure, sex for reasons other than procreation, sex for sex’s own sake. Americans are willing to stand up and acknowledge that they have sex because it feels good — and they are creating massive public outcries when people try to interfere with that, or try to shame them about it. [Read more...]

“the ugliest of all atheists!”: #mencallmethings

When I was speaking at the University of Chicago last week — awesome event, btw, thanks to everyone who put it together! — the event organizer showed me a publicity poster for the event, which had been graffittied. Next to my photo and under my name, someone had hand-written the words, “the ugliest of all atheists!”





#mencallmethings

Because that’s the important thing, isn’t it? When determining the worth of a writer or speaker or other public figure, the most important issue is whether said figure is nice-looking or ugly. It doesn’t matter if we’re stupid or smart, accurate or off-base, innovative or entrenched, boring or inspiring. What matters is whether random strangers find us sexually attractive.

If we’re women, anyway.

I’m reminded of something Tina Fey said in the New Yorker about show business. “I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women though, they’re all crazy. I have a suspicion — and hear me out, because this is a rough one — that the definition of crazy in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”

It’s not just show business. The definition of crazy is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore. Or, indeed, a woman who keeps talking even if the person she’s addressing doesn’t want to fuck her. A woman who keeps talking even if the person reading the poster advertising the talk doesn’t want to fuck her.

Oh, btw, I’ve said this before when the #thing that #menhavecalled me is “ugly,” and I’ll say it again here: Please, unless you’re a personal friend or someone I’m having sex with, don’t try to make me feel better by saying that I’m not ugly. If I write about fashion or post the hot pic of myself in the Skepticon calendar, you can say nice things about how I look… but please don’t do it here. I’m not calling this out to garner reassurance about my appearance. I’m calling this out to show people the kind of shit women routinely deal with. I have a thick skin, and I don’t get my feelings hurt by sexist jackasses calling me names. That isn’t the point.

The point isn’t that I’m not ugly. The point is that it shouldn’t matter.

Truth Is Not Boring

It shocks and upsets me that I should have to say this. It especially shocks and upsets me that I should have to say this to another atheist. But apparently I have to:

Truth is not boring.

You may have been following the debate about Alain de Botton’s article on CNN, What atheists can learn from religion, which began thus:

Probably the most boring question you can ask about religion is whether or not the whole thing is “true.”

And the sound you’ve been hearing over the last couple of days has been the tops of atheists’ heads coming off.

Including mine. I read de Botton’s piece when I was stuck at the Charlottesville airport waiting for a re-scheduled flight, getting over a stomach bug and trying to sleep on the airport floor… and I immediately started rage-writing this piece in my head.

Truth is not boring.

Reality is not boring. Reality is not irrelevant. Reality is not some trivial footnote in the larger, more serious business of keeping our brains in a bubble of happiness.

Reality is all that we have.

There’s something JT Eberhard says a lot in his talks, and he said it again in some of his responses to de Botton: Caring about reality is a moral obligation. You can have the best intentions in the world, but if you’re not committed to understanding how the world really works, you’re going to make bad decisions: decisions that hurt yourself and others around you. You’re going to let your child die when medical treatment could cure them; you’re going to cut off your little girl’s clitoris; you’re going to tell people in a country ravaged by AIDS not to use condoms because they make baby Jesus cry. If we really do care about making ourselves and one another happy, we owe it to ourselves and to one another to understand reality, to the absolute best of our ability.

I totally agree. But I’m going to say more. Again, it shocks and upsets me that I should freaking well have to say this, but apparently I do:

REALITY IS NOT BORING.

Here’s the thing. We have two competing hypotheses about how the universe works: religion, and naturalism. The religion hypothesis says that the universe is the way it is because a super-powerful supernatural being wished it into existence. The naturalism says that the universe is the way it is because of a chain of physical cause and effect.

And I’ll be honest: Either of these hypotheses would be fascinating. [Read more...]