Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

I’m leaving in a couple hours for time with my family, delicious food, and egg hunting. I’ll probably be gone all day, so consider the comments an open forum if you get bored. I know not every atheist is busy celebrating something they don’t believe in!

Here are my favorite memories about Easter:

– Dying Easter eggs with my grandma (who is the most amazing grandma in the world) was always the best. The traditional Greek way is to dye all the eggs red, but she’d crack out the other colors and crayons just for me. Even now that she just does the traditional eggs, she always dies one blue for me, because that’s my favorite color. This is why I love the smell of vinegar, because it always reminds me of dying eggs.

– One of the fun Greek traditions is a little game you get to play with the hard boiled colored eggs. Each person takes an egg, and you get to smash the tip of your egg onto the tip of another person’s. Only one egg will crack (don’t ask me the physics there, just trust me). After going around the table, the last person with the uncracked egg is supposed to have good luck for a year. There always seemed to be one super egg, and we joked that my grandma was pouring concrete into some of them. I think this is supposed to represent cracking open Jesus’s tomb or something, and you’re supposed to say Christos Anesti (Christ has risen) while doing it, but whatever. I just like smashing other people’s eggs.

– One year when I was about 7, my grandma asked me why we celebrate Easter. I of course happily answered, “Because that’s when the Easter bunny comes!” Whoops. Needless to say, she wasn’t too happy with my mom over the fact that I had never even heard of Jesus or God by that point. Oddly enough this is the only time I remember my grandparents explicitly mentioning religion. I wonder if they’ve just given up on me in that area?

– My parents would hide plastic eggs around the house filled with candy or quarters, which holy crap is a lot of money to a little kid! I always loved looking for them, but after a couple years I had memorized where all the good hiding spots were, so instead of an “Egg Hunt” it was more like a “Methodical Egg Retrieval.” One year I was playing upstairs in my room, and they rang the door bell pretending it was the Easter bunny. “The Easter Bunny was here, you just missed him!” they said. Wow, was I pissed. Why the hell didn’t they warn me the Easter bunny was here?! Didn’t they think I’d want to meet him?! Couldn’t they have made him wait just a minute?! These are the potential anxieties you’re instilling in your children whenever you perpetuate fictional characters, haha.

See you tomorrow, the real holiday to celebrate – Half Priced Easter Candy Day!

My favorite dinner-time prayer yet

Tomorrow I’ll be going to my brother’s house for Easter. We’re not really a religious family, so there’s no big anxiety in going. We’re the type of family who celebrates all the different holidays without any of the religious mumbo-jumbo attached. Christmas is always Family + Presents, and Easter is always Family + Chocolate Bunnies (Though x2, because I’m half Greek. Woohoo!). The in-laws are pretty much the same way, though they’re religious enough that they occasionally go to church, and they had my nephews baptized (and I’m the Godmother…they kind of don’t know I’m an atheist. Whoopsie). They do traditions, but I’ve never heard them talk about it or treat it too seriously.

This usually leads to great fun when it comes to the dinner time prayer, especially since my not-exactly-religious brother is seen as the new “head of the house.” He’s achieved greatness far beyond my dad, who’s longest prayer was probably “Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub” to the chagrin of my Greek Orthodox grandparents.

This Thanksgiving was my favorite so far:

Sister-in-law: Why don’t you say a prayer?
Brother: (who has had a little to drink by now) Um, sure. Give me a second. (looks very contemplative) Dear God, thank you for bringing us together today, for our health, and for this meat that we have killed and smoked. Amen.
My side of the family: (desperately tries to stifle giggles)
Sister-in-law: …
Brother: What?
Sister-in-law: I don’t know, what about our sons? (who were born premature, are fine now)
Brother: (innocently) They were part of “health.”
Sister-in-law: (sigh) Really, for the meat we smoked and killed?
Brother: No, no, killed, then smoked. What you said would just be cruel.
Sister-in-law: (exasperated wife-ly look)

Now you know why I’m excited for tomorrow!

Anyone else have some classic dinner time prayers?

Book Review: The Professor and the Dominatrix

This weekend our club received a copy of the book The Professor and the Dominatrix in the mail. It included a two page (form) letter from the author, John Harrigan. Let me just include snippets from it, so we’re all on the same page:

“I am a secular humanist, John Harrigan by name. … My suspense novel is dripping with sex and has occasional violence along the way–to attract those who don’t read science or who never have seriously examined their religious beliefs, our regular folks. The hero of the story is a humanist professor, the villian a pious serial killer. … So, I am promoting The Professor and the Dominatrix by sending a free copy to each secular humanist group, especially college campus ones. I ask only, if you like the story, talk it up. … It is selling in Germany for an astounding sixty dollars, presently at Amazon for twenty-five. Frankly my publisher over priced it–worth about fifteen.”

Dripping with sex and violence? Humanist professor and a sexy dominatrix? Showing random people what atheism is really about? Hell yeah, I thought, I’ll read it! I had nothing else to do this Sunday, anyway.

Oh God.

I really wanted to be nice to this book, I really did. I was all ready to give it a chance and write up an honest review to help this guy out. Well, this review will be honest, but not what he was looking for. This has to be one of the worst books I’ve ever read. At first, I thought may it would get better if I kept reading…maybe the plot would pick up. Then it got to the point where it was so bad that it was making me laugh. Then it went back to just being plain awful, but I had already wasted my time reading half of the book. I figured I would finish it and write a complete review so no one would have to suffer through this novel ever again. Unless they like torturing themselves and making Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary…in which case, you’ll absolutely love it. I’ll warn people that there are spoilers below, but no one in their right mind should even read this book anyway.

There is so much stuff wrong, I’ll have to break it into sections. I know it’s long, so I’ve bolded the especially ridiculous stuff in case you want to skim.


Dear lord, this man is not a good writer. You’d think a retired professor would have some sort of verbal ability, but no. I had to stop myself from writing corrections on the pages because it felt like I was reading a first draft. Sometimes I didn’t know what sentences were even trying to say until I reread them three times. There were even typos, including this gem:

“Homosexuals would be demons working for Satin.”

Damn the minions of satin, with their smooth, silky seduction!

Most of the book is rambling nonsensical monologues by our protagonist, Professor Synan Slane. There would literally be pages without any description or action, not even “he said.” All of Ch. 4 is describing him in class with his students…and if a real lecture was as unorganized as this, I’d drop the class. It looks like the author tried to condense every argument against religion and for atheism into one chapter…without any flow between ideas or description. Let me summarize the topics he flies through on a single page to give you an idea:

People used to believe in geocentrism > Eucharist comes from cannabilism > Rejection of evolution > Thinking Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife > Not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shiite > Sweden being atheistic > Bonobos turning into fundamentalists (wtf?) > Child rape by priests

That continues for a solid 33 pages. The rest of the book is littered with it as well.

The descriptions, when he actually had any, were awful as well. When setting a scene and describing a dog in the room, I don’t need to know that it had “balls the size of honeydews.” Actually, most of the book was completely irrelevant to the “plot” (if it had any). I had to skip a two page discussion on boxing that was literally two people having small talk with each other. Maybe instead of all the pointless filler, he could have actually described what was going on with the murder mystery, since I was constantly lost.

And for the love of god, don’t phonetically spell accents. No. NO. Especially when you decide 90% of your characters need some sort of bizarro accent. It’s not cute, it’s annoying.

Character Development

The above phrase is something this author has obviously never heard of. Professor Slane is a giant Mary Sue. For this of you who aren’t knowledgeable about fanfiction lingo, a Mary Sue is a “pejorative term used to describe a fictional character who plays a major role in the plot and is particularly characterized by overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors or readers.” Hmm, now why would I ever think Professor Slane is a Mary Sue? Maybe I’m being too judgemental.

Professor Slane


Psychology professor

Psychology professor

Angry atheist

Angry atheist



Former combat marine

Former combat marine


Writes crap that makes me want to punch babies

The kicker is that Slane, along with every other character, is completely 2 dimensional. You’d think if you were just writing yourself, you could give the character some depth. But nope – instead every character is just the voice of the author. I even thought maybe everyone seemed like a flat stereotype because he was being tongue in cheek…but I’ll get back to that later. He desperately tries to make up for this by describing each character’s entire live history in a giant wall of text. You know what, I don’t need to know that Joey Damico (random police officer #5) has a mickey mouse watch and a mother named Rita, especially when that character is never mentioned again. Or really, why are all these random passing characters even getting full names? There were so many names and pointless characters floating around that I couldn’t even keep track of the important ones. I don’t need to know that the janitor who never even appears in the book is Theodore Poopface Von Winklehiemer III. Just call him the fricking janitor.


I was constantly lost, because whatever murder plot this book might have had was interrupted by atheist rants. Oh, and the climax occurs on the last page of the last chapter. There’s a page and a half afterward to sum up what happened to everyone. Great writing, there.


I have to give it to him, the gratuitous violence was the only part he did well. Which is sad, because it just ended up freaking me out more.


I felt weird knowing some 60 year old professor wrote this, especially with his photo staring at me on the back of the book, but I thought I’d give him a chance. It only takes two sentences before there’s some awkward discussion about a guy’s erection, but then there’s no sex for a while. At first I’m a little upset. I was told the book was dripping with sex! Finally I sense a sex scene coming, so I start getting excited.

Oh God.

There are two sex scenes in the book, and it’s a blessing there aren’t more. The first is the most frightening description of oral sex I’ve ever read. If you want to subject yourself to the whole thing, ask politely and I’ll type it up. To summarize, the entire segment refers to the guy’s penis as “Captain Marvel.” For two pages. What the hell. The description included such Shakespearean writing, such as:

“She was a connoisseur. A gobbler of whangs par excellence.”

Seriously? That’s the most horrible, amazing, ridiculous thing I have ever read in a book. Not just wangs, but whangs. Hhhwwhhaanngs. This may honestly be the only good thing that’s come out of this book, because I’m going to use this phrase as frequently as possible.

And if the oral sex wasn’t bad enough, the sex later was even more horrible. No foreplay whatsoever, guy just sticks it in and rams home, the girl instantly orgasms after insertion, keeps orgasming over and over again just from penetration alone…what the hell? Has this guy ever even had sex? If he has, I feel bad for whatever woman had to put up with it. And in a later scene he describes someone’s behind as a “bummy.” Really, are we all five years old now? You couldn’t say ass, butt, booty, anything else?


The author apparently thinks the best way to win people over to atheism is by being a gigantic troll. The killer, and really any villain in the book, is shown to be overtly and over the top religious. Slane and his atheistic partner, the Dominatrix, both show the error in theists’ ways by constantly ridiculing and mocking them. I don’t know how any Christians could read the first page and still want to read the rest of the book, let alone get through his Chapter 4 diatribe.

Since Slane has absolutely no personality, his only purpose is to insert random facts and quotes about atheism and religion into the book. Some of his long monologues about random topics would be good as blog entries… that is, they’re (mostly) factual, they explain concepts decently…but a book meant to be fiction shouldn’t read like a one sided debate. But that’s the problem – it’s only good enough for a blog entry. Not even a great blog entry. In fact, I’ve seen these arguments explained much better in various blogs. It’s like he wanted to write a book about atheism but his arguments weren’t well thought out enough, so he filled the gaps with a poorly written murder plot. Even then, they’re not the sort of arguments that are going to win over people to atheism…they’re mostly just random facts about all the horrible things religion can potentially lead people to do.

I had a neutral view on the book’s atheism (I thought the random facts were mostly just disjointed and annoying) until the end of the book. The two atheist “protagonists” (I use the term lightly, as I eventually came to hate every character in this book) get into a televised debate with two evangelists. Long story short, the atheists insult and mock the intelligence of the evangelists, the preacher tries to punch Slane, and Slane the macho boxer procedes to beat the crap out of him. The female evangelist then tries to attack the Dominatrix, but the Dominatrix rips off christian girl’s dress so she’s naked on TV. The atheists then laugh and joke about their victory. All of this occurs while a man dressed as Jesus gets a handjob in the audience. What the fuck? How the hell is this book supposed to make me like atheists? How the FUCK is this promoting atheism and secular humanism in a positive light?


Holy shit was this book sexist. Now, I consider myself a feminist, but I’m usually pretty laid back about things. I do things that are “bad” like making and laughing at sexist jokes. But this book crossed way over the line, and was packed with stuff offensive to women. At first I wanted to believe that some of the characters were just being described as jerks…but even the enlightened “Professor” would spew garbage about women all the time. And it really didn’t matter, since every character basically came off as the author speaking through them (this holds true for the next two sections as well). That is, even when characters said dumbass, bigoted stuff, no where in the book was there context to show these are bad points of view. Sometimes they were even shown as being positive.

Every female character was a demeaning stereotype. This is especially annoying when the majority of atheists are men, and they should be trying to actively recruit more women…not scare them away by acting like chauvinistic douchebags. If you’re not a hot, young, ditsy sex object, you’re old and disgusting. Don’t believe me? Let me list all the female characters, major and minor:

  1. Mindless university secretary, submissive, easily scared
  2. Two raging butch dykes in charge of “Dykes Taking Over”, lesbians only because they had bad experiences with men/their fathers (WTF?), short crew cut hair and hiking boots
  3. Coy cunning Dominatrix…who seemed like an independent woman for about a page, but then she reveals her inner most desire is to just find a good man. 24 hours after meeting main character wants to have his baby and marry him, they talk about marriage after the first time they have sex, and she doesn’t use protection so she can get pregnant. They get married after knowing each other a week.
  4. Frumpy neighbor lady whose physical appearance disgusts Slane.
  5. Frumpy dense secretary at police station, easily manipulated by men in order to get facts about the case.
  6. Cheating wife of the murder victim, has many DUIs, shoplifted, used to be a skanky “ho” who was in pornos.
  7. Police officer that doesn’t say much. Her only purpose is to supply someone for the male officers to hit on. When she has to interview someone about sex she gets all bashful. While the other officers talk about furthering her career, she is more worried about flirting with her boss. Actually the most independent female in the book…until she gets brutally murdered at the end for no reason. Yay.
  8. “Fem-nazi” department head/woman’s studies professor who flunks students if they don’t spell woman “womyn.” Sleeps with female students, total man hater.
  9. Student described as sleeping with the female womyn’s study professor in order to get an A, airhead who jumps from one religion to the next for whatever is popular. Training to be a dominatrix.
  10. Militant Christian female student…who instantly sees the light once atheist superhero professor owns her arguments, because she’s a dumb girl (note: all the male classmates are atheistic to some extent and “get it”)
  11. Girl working at a sex shop who’s also a hooker…and hitting on everyone, giggly idiot
  12. Frumpy old hotel maid who does nothing but talk about her deceased husband.
  13. Slane talks about his two middle school teachers. One was a hot young teacher who wore skirts without underwear and knew the boys would try to peek up them, and would let them do this. Slane still found this wonderfully awesome. The other teacher was an angry fat old lady that everyone hated.

If those characters aren’t enough, huge chunks of the books are devoted to bashing “gender feminists” and just females in general. Of course, it’s not just females he bashes…


There are two full pages dedicated to describing how the town’s mayor, the only African American in the book, speaks “black English,” not “proper” “standard” English. All of his dialog is written to seem ignorant, and he’s constantly swearing. This is in light of the fact that everyone else in the book, including the police officers, hookers, pimps, dominatrixes, and students all talk with the vocabulary of a college professor (aka, the author). Wow, way to go.

Homophobia, etc

The whole plot revolves around two gay guys, one a closeted pastor obviously meant to parallel Haggard, being brutally murdered. At first I thought the plot would be pro-gay since it’s about investigating this hate crime. Nope. Every homosexual in this book is a flaming stereotypical nancy boy. Even one guy’s name is Sisley, which sounds like “sissy.” I don’t think I’m stretching here, since the forward states that the characters have metaphorical names meant to mirror their personality. In fact, any sort of gender or sexual deviation is associated with a villian or outwardly mocked by the characters. The only sex scene shown in a “positive” light is Slane’s minute man missionary no-foreplay romp. Let me just show you some of the gems the book had to offer:

About a boy Slane went to school with: “Everyone called him Sis [not related to Sisley]. He really should have been a girl. He didn’t play with the boys or know and dirty jokes, or want to. If you started to tell him one, he’d throw his hands up and turn away. No normal boy would act like that.” WTF

About the closeted pastor/bisexualism: “Wright seems to have been bisexual, probably never formed a clear gender identity or more likely is genetically different from the norm, perhaps has a brain pattern or map more like a woman’s than the average hetereosexual male’s.” WTFFF

And I need this whole section to make my point:

Alfie thought back to what Evan had said when he faced off with Charles who had become Charlene. “That Evan had some good lines: ‘Female hormone injections and having your penis mutilated does not make you a woman, just a medical mess. God made you a man, a surgeon can’t change that.”

“No wonder Charles now Charlene broke down and screamed.”

“Remember when he called him-her an it then said, ‘Homosexuality is an abomination.'”

“God, yes! When the it jumped up and scratched Evan, that was the highlight of the show.”

“It was quite a show,” Alfie agreed.

“Ya know,” Grant said, “this whole homosexual and sex change stuff is weird. Put it this way, if women are no more than makeup, so to speak, that falls right onto the lap of the gender feminists. The only difference they recognize is that anyone with a giblet is bad, rotten, evil, oppressive – you name it. Men are bad just because they’re men; women are good just because they’re women. So, the name is the difference? Some of those gender feminists want to keep as few men around as possible, ten percent I’ve heard, for breeding only. Jesus! What will they do? Drown nine out of ten baby boys? Well – not long ago gays and lesbians were called unnaturals, now they’re considered okay, a preferred minority, and anyone who doesn’t think homosexuality is okay is a fucking homophobe, has a mental called homophobia. The gays calling in were saying Evan is a big homophobe. Boy, when it comes to name calling, the shoe is on the other foot now.”


Don’t read this book unless you get off on being angry at this sort of tripe. This proves to me that not all atheists or professors are enlightened intellectuals. I just hope theists don’t get a hold of this book as see it as a representation of all atheists, because this guy does NOT speak for me. The only positive thing that came out of reading this is that I’m now more motivated to finish my own books I’ve been working on…because hell, I KNOW I can do better than that.

Friend: do you need a drink now? or at the very least, good sex?

Me: This book has made sex disgusting to me currently. I don’t want to think about someone’s Captain Marvel.

Friend: that’s a real feat

Me: Yes, yes it is

EDIT: Except of the awful Purple Prose is up

EDIT 2: The Professor responds, and he’s not happy

Attempts at Theism – Prayer

I’m one of those weird new atheists who didn’t leave some religion. While both of my parents went to church as kids (Dad Protestant, Mom Greek Orthodox), they pretty much left me to my own devices. We never went to church, I was never told about God or Jesus, and I didn’t really even know what religion was until I was about 12 and started hearing about it from friends. My dad always told me to just be a good person via the golden rule, and everything would sort itself out. It was more important to be good than to be a jerk who goes to church. Now my dad is probably an atheist (or a very atheisty agnostic) and my mom is one of those wishy washy agnostic theists who hopes there’s some sort of higher power thingy to make the world a happy place.

I can go on and on about my various experiences, but one thing just popped into my head now. For people who were basically raised as atheists, there might have been a time where you thought you were supposed to be religious. Was there ever a time you tried to pray just out of the hopes that it would work?

I attempted prayer a total of two times, both around the time where I was in my Hopeful Deist stage. The first was when I was 14, and my cat had died. Now, this was the most lovable cat in the world, and I had him my entire life (he was 18). I was sort of a lonely awkward little kid, so he was my friend when I didn’t have anyone else. It sounds kind of pathetic saying it now, but it was the first time something close and comforting had been taken away from me. I was crying for days about it, to the point where I couldn’t sleep. One night I asked my deisty God that if he existed (and wanted to stop being deisty for a moment), to please give me the strength to stop crying.

I did stop crying about my cat, but looking back, I know it wasn’t some divine being that gave me the strength. It was from inside of me (cue the cheesy music). By asking for that strength, I had made up my mind that I needed to move on, and move on I did.

The other time was when I was convinced I was pregnant…even though I was a virgin. Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but 16 year old girl logic isn’t the best. When you’ve fooled around with your boyfriend to any degree and your period is just a tad late, you’re convinced the boy has super-sperm that can dissolve through the air from a meter away and still get up your vajayjay somehow. Saying I was scared shitless is an understatement. Praying seemed like a better alternative than jumping out a window, so pray I did. I promised God I wouldn’t do such naughty things if he gave me a free pass this time through (Um…a promise I’m kind of failing at. Whoops, oh well).

A couple days later, my monthly visitor finally came. Do I really think God did it? Of course not. But at the time, it was comforting thinking the situation was in the hands of someone who could do something about it. Maybe that relaxation releaved some of the stress that was making it late in the first place. I can only speculate, but I think it does show how prayers can make people feel better even if they’re not being directly answered. And to an extent, they create a sort of placebo effect that actually helps out.

The actual efficacy of prayer is a whole other topic. The thing I find most interesting is that these two positive situations still didn’t make me suddenly believe in God. Even though my prayers were “answered,” I think I knew I was just tricking myself into believing them for the benefits. Double think is an amazing and scary thing. I wonder how many theists are in a similar situation.

Duped and Annoyed

I’ll be leaving for a three day biology conference in Nebraska early tomorrow morning. If the blog is dead, that’s why.

On Monday I agreed to be a part of a panel for a class here titled Communicating Across Cultures…one of those required classes everyone loves to take. All I was told is the class was discussing religious oppression on campus, and that needed a non-theist for a panel to answer questions from the audience. I said sure. I asked for more details about what specific questions were going to be asked, but they never replied. I shrugged it off, thinking it was just short notice, and along with my agnostic friend (who was the one who directed them to me), went to the panel this morning.

Unfortunately, I felt like I’d been duped.

Maybe duped is too harsh of a word. I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt that they’re not being malicious, but either way, I was seriously annoyed. I arrived about ten minutes early and sat waiting with Agnostic Friend until class was going to start, with no real instruction from the professor. She then asked us to sit down with the other panelists…one of which is a middle aged man. Okay, I think, maybe he’s in charge of some diversity program.

She introduces us to the class, and says that we’re going to take about 5 to 7 minutes to explain why we believe what we believe, and then we’ll open it up for questions. Agnostic Friend and I exchange looks of “Eep, wish she would have warned us about that.” Unfortunately for him (and thankfully for me), she asked him to start first. He talked for about 2 minutes, basically just briefly defining what it meant to be an agnostic. It was then my turn, and I probably stammered on about atheism for about 3 or 4 minutes. It’s hard enough listing all the reasons why you’re an atheist in less then five minutes when it’s taken you a decade to figure out, but I tried my best. I thought I did a pretty good job for having absolutely no notice about the question.

That is, until the next person spoke. The older guy wasn’t just some diversity person…he was a professor and doctor at our student health center. And not only was he presenting the Christian view point, but he had a typed up perfectly organized speech, full of all the usual horrible arguments for God and Christianity (which I will talk about after the biology conference). On top of all that, he’s beautifully eloquent, charismatic, and filling his introduction with personal, emotional, funny stories. I know they’re horrible arguments, but that they’re going to sound amazing to the audience, especially after my improvized talk. To make matters worse, the fourth panelist was a graduate and former head of the Muslim Student Association…and had an actual Powerpoint presentation that he had obviously given many times before.

You can understand why I’m pretty annoyed. The two non-theist junior undergraduates are sitting up there, not even notified what the main question (or even PURPOSE) of the presentation is, while two eloquent, older, and more prepared theists make us look like unprepared fools. It was honestly embarassing…not because I’m not able to make good presentations or arguments (because I can *grumble*), but because I had absolutely no warning while they obviously did. Not only am I personally embarassed, but I regret losing this opportunity to present atheism to a large group of students who 1. probably never encountered it and 2. now won’t ever want to encounter it again.

Of course, even if I was prepared, would it really have been fair facing me off against Mr. Professor Doctor “I’ve Traveled the world and dined with Kings” Former Atheist Saw the Light Jesus Cures What Even Medicine Can’t? I’m fairly certain even the brightest 21 year olds with the best arguments will look foolish when debating a charismatic “adult” with horrendous arguments.

The cherry on top was that because the format was Q&A, I never got a chance to refute any of the garbage the Christian and Muslim were saying. I guess that gives me some blogging material for after my trip.

Is Anti-Theism Necessarily Bad?

Today I went to an event titled Non-Theism and the Right to Freedom from Religion, which was part of a diversity conference on campus. What could have been a decent presentation was ruined by the fact that a whopping 8 people showed up, including myself. Regardless, we still had some interesting discussions about the public perception of atheism in the US and the separation of church and state.

One key point the presenters repeated was that atheism does not necessarily equal anti-theism. Now, this is completely true – not all atheists are necessarily against religion. In fact, I’d say the vast majority of atheists are apathetic about the whole atheism/theism debate. The problem, however, is that the presenters kept labeling anti-theism as this horrible thing that atheists need to distance themselves from in order to be publicly accepted. Before I say anything, I want to clarify that by anti-theism I mean being against religion, religious beliefs, religious practices…but not religious individuals. This is the same definition that the presenters were using.

But is anti-theism really that bad?

I’d argue no, it’s not, assuming you’re not treating the actual religious individual poorly or trying to oppress their rights to have such beliefs. In fact, I think it’s crucial that we are able to criticize beliefs and customs that we find dangerous, ridiculous, and/or false.* What if we didn’t speak out against these things we disagreed with? Why is it okay for me to disagree with Republicans, pro-lifers, racists**, but not with Christians, Muslims, or Hindus?

I know the answer: Nobody enjoys having their beliefs criticized, but especially not ones as important as religion. If we didn’t feel strongly that our beliefs are correct (or at least the best option), we wouldn’t have those beliefs! So it’s understandable that people get upset when you say “There probably is no God,” “Scaring children with hell is tantamount to child abuse,” or “Homosexuality is not wrong.” But just because their annoyance is understandable doesn’t mean we should go out of our way to not offend their sensibilities. It doesn’t mean when someone says “It’s my religious belief” to defend an argument that we need to throw up our hands and go “Oh shucks, well, can’t beat that!” Of course not.

Religious belief shouldn’t be sacred (pardon my word choice). It needs to stand up to criticism in the marketplace of ideas just like every other belief or practice. By giving religion a Get Out of Jail Free card and having criticism be taboo, we create an environment where bad ideas spread because…well, no one gets to point out that they’re bad ideas.

Now, should atheists still distance themselves from anti-theism in order to gain public acceptance? On one hand, I feel strongly that we need to be able to speak up and voice our disagreements. On the other hand, it’s a lot more difficult convincing people you’re a decent person when they view your opinions as attacks on what they hold dearest. I think our best chance is to convince people that religious belief must stand up to criticism like any other idea, and that acceptance of atheism will eventually follow. Not exactly an easy task, but stuff like this is never simple.

*I’m in no way saying that all religious things fall into these categories, but I think even most religious people will agree with me that some do.

**Again, not saying these groups are equally bad or anything silly like that. Just examples of things I disagree with.

Shocker: Vatican uptight about another pointless thing

Sometimes the Vatican likes to take a break from condemning raped little girls for their abortion and sending our progress with sex education in Africa back to the dark ages. Now its focus is on the movie Angels & Demons, the prequel to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Apparently they’re gearing up for a boycott (surprise, surprise). I still wonder how people can get so upset over works of fiction…but this is the Vatican we’re talking about, and they sort of specialize in having a hard time separating reality from fantasy.

Anyway, Angels & Demons has more important things to worry about than a Vatican boycott…mainly, that the Da Vinici Code movie sucked ass. Maybe they’re just hoping there are a lot of people like me out there who loved the books (and love sticking it to the Vatican) and are willing to pay nine dollars and masochisticly subject themselves to another horrible film.

Boards games + inclusiveness = Evil Homosexual Agenda!!!

So apparently some conservative Christians have their panties in a twist because the online version of The Game of Life allows you to be a homosexual couple.

One concerned mother wrote to WND about her experience with downloading the game to play with her daughter.

“You know how kids are,” the mother told WND. “My daughter noticed right away (even before I did) and clicked on one of the girls instead of one of the men and then asked, ‘Mom, how come I can marry a woman?’ And then that led into a lot more questions that, quite frankly, I was not ready to talk to my 6-year-old about.”

While I personally think there’s nothing wrong with young children knowing about homosexuality, why can’t this mother just dodge the question like parents do with other things they don’t want their children knowing about? How many little kids ask their parents where babies come from before their parents want them to know the grisly facts of life? Granted, I don’t think we should lie to children about that either…but the fact is, blaming an online game for something that’s everywhere is just downright silly. Why not blame Life for including babies in the game?

And like the article states, nothing in the actual board game forces you to be straight. You can put two pink pegs together in your little plastic car and cruise your way through life as a lesbian couple with four children (and damn those rugrats are expensive!). If mommy is so uptight about what her six year old sees, maybe she should check the game before she lets the kid play it.

And anyway, there have already been gay versions of the game of life available for kids: