Because I am an atheist: Richard Carrier

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Dr. Richard Carrier

Because I am an atheist…

When I realized I was an atheist, I realized we needed godless and non-supernatural answers to important philosophical questions that have usually been assumed to have a godly, or supernatural, or wooish answer, or otherwise swept under the rug as if we didn’t need to answer them. But we do. Not only does it become the Achilles heel of atheism when we don’t have satisfying or even plausible answers to them. But in each and every case we actually need at least a good working hypothesis, because we constantly act on the assumption that we do. Our every decision is based on assuming answers to every one. So I got busy answering these questions, in a way and manner I had never done before. Which culminated in my first book, Sense and Goodness without God. [Read more…]

Movie Monday: The Camelunist Hammerfesto

Last week I sat down with Daniel Fincke from the FTBlog Camels with Hammers to chat about race and race-related subject matters. We were trying out the Google+ hangout environment that we used for last week’s FTB + Skepchick group conversation. I imagine that I’ll be finding more ways to use this tool and be releasing more videos.


We got cut off by a dropped connection, so there’s two parts:

We talked about a number of fun topics, including

  • Affirmative Action
  • Diversity
  • Colour blindness
  • Implicit racial processing
  • Feeling safe about having ‘the race conversation’
  • Liberal racism
  • Humour
  • “The black community”

It was a fun and productive conversation, and I enjoyed myself a great deal! Hope you enjoy it too.

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*I feel it necessary to apologize for the inconsistent posting recently. Up until now I have prided myself on keeping a regular schedule; however, some recent (positive) changes in my day-to-day schedule have made blogging consistently a bit more difficult. I am trying to make adjustments, but those will take some time.

Suicide of an entirely different form

The Catholic Church says that they’re opposed to suicide. They say they’re very angry about it and those advocating it should cut it the fuck out:

The Catholic archbishop of Vancouver is calling on the provincial government to appeal a landmark B.C. Supreme Court decision Friday that struck down the law that makes physician-assisted death illegal in Canada. Friday’s decision to strike down the law against euthanasia “sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop J. Michael Miller, in a statement.

“True liberty means the freedom to live one’s life secure in the knowledge that those who care for us are in dedicated to the service of life, not the taking of life.” Miller then urged the government to appeal what he called an “extremely flawed and dangerous ruling.”

As a side note, we should definitely explore the feasibility of attaching some sort of dynamo to George Orwell’s grave, because the “Freedom is Slavery” line from a repressive organization like the Roman Catholic Church trying to dictate to the rest of us what “true liberty” means could probably inspire enough spins out of the old boy to generate a few million megawatt hours.

But back to the topic at hand. I don’t think the Catholic Church is actually opposed to suicide. I’m not talking about their fetishization of martyrs – the apologetics that allows them to side-step that bit of seeming hypocrisy is not exactly that difficult to figure out. No, I think the Catholic Church is opposed to everyone’s suicide except their own: [Read more…]

SSA Blogathon songathon – Lagavulin

Well… apparently I’m not done yet.

jolo5309 requested some next-level jazz stuff that I simply couldn’t pull off with an acoustic guitar, so I asked him to re-request something. He foolishly asked me for some Canadian prairie rock, not realizing that I am newly a huge fan of Saskatchewan’s Wide Mouth Mason. I’ve been looking for an excuse to learn this song for a while, so it worked out perfectly I’d say.

Compare this to the original here.

There’s a couple more requests to handle, and then I am calling it quits for reals.

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Physician, kill myself

Anyone who follows my Twitter feed will be familiar with my habit of occasionally spontaneously going on rants about how much I love my city. I really do – we have a mayor I can respect, we have a proud tradition of social activism, we live in greater harmony with our natural environment than most cities our size. Despite its faults, Vancouver is a great place to live. Similarly, despite the fact that I don’t hold our government in terribly high esteem, I do rather like the province of British Columbia. Lots of hydroelectric power, natural custodianship, and abundant natural beauty. We got it like that.

But I am pretty confident that I have never been more proud to live when and where I live that I do after hearing this news: [Read more…]

Good because it’s good

So maybe this makes me a ‘centrist’ (a label I abjure because my conception of a ‘centrist’ is someone who can’t make up their damn mind), but I don’t see myself as being particularly partisan. A political party or movement wins my allegiance because I agree with their ideas today, not because I agreed with their other ideas yesterday. The whole phenomenon of “my father voted Republican, his father voted Republican, and right or wrong I’ll vote Republican too” seems equal parts idiotic and insane to me. Of course, voting Republican period seems idiotic and insane to me, so whatever.

This morning I talked about my approach for Canadian health care reform, which is nowhere near as big a political football as it is among our southern cousins. The ideas I put forward, as far as I can tell, don’t belong to any political party. They could be spun as products of either conservative thinking (“it’s time to stop throwing away hard-earned taxpayer money on a bloated bureaucracy that doesn’t deliver for Canadians. Let’s reign in spending by eliminating government waste!”) or liberal thinking (“we must find a fair and equitable way to deliver health care that focuses on providing the right service to the right person at the right time!”). The ideas aren’t good because Bob Rae or Thomas Mulcair thinks they’re good (or because Stephen Harper thinks they’re bad), they’re good because they’re good.

In the same way, I find the fight over the Affordable Care Act in the USA to be patently absurd. Aside from the fact that it is a massively watered-down version of a good law, there’s really not much in there to dislike: [Read more…]

Because I am an Atheist: myatheistlife

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by reader and blogger myatheistlife

Because I am an atheist…

…today I did what I did yesterday, and the day before, and the week before and the month before and the year before. In fact, being an atheist has not changed my life. I still pay my bills, work hard to be able to afford vacation and health care. I do handyman work around my house and walk my dog. Because I’m an atheist my life really has not changed…


I no longer thing a god is responsible for my hard work. I no longer think that praying for people is useful, I’d rather simply give them a helping hand. When bad things happen I know I’m just a statistic, not the victim of a vengeful god. When times are tough I know that I can’t count on help from a skydaddy… I have to take care of it myself just like I always had to do.. but now I get to take credit for fixing it.

I am no different than your cousin, brother, or friend… except that I don’t pray. Instead I do. I don’t say ‘why me?’ I say ‘damn, not again!’ I am responsible for my life… all of it. The good and the bad. I’m proud of both of them, they are me.

If you need a god crutch that is your problem.. please don’t bother me with it. I’m quite fine all by my lonesome, and I’m doing well, thank you very much.

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Doctor Crommunist’s health prescription

Okay, so I am not a doctor (yet), but I do spend my 9-5 hours working as part of Canada’s health care system, and I do have a couple of degrees in which health policy played a pretty significant role, so I’m going to take this opportunity to make one of my (thankfully) rare digressions away from the typical subject matter of this blog and talk about health care.

My master’s thesis (which was a rather shabby affair) was partially focussed on the issue of wait times for critical services. Those of you who live in civilized developed countries will be familiar with this concept already. Those of you who live in the United States will probably need a refresher. Because there exists a finite pool of resources in the world, when a large group of people want to access something that is a one-at-a-time thing, there is a good chance that some people will have to wait. In Canada, because we have a publicly-funded medical care system, we run into wait times as the inevitable consequence of more people wanting a thing than the system has the capacity to provide.

I have, incidentally, discussed why Canada’s system is not only more fair but more economically sound than the American system in a previous post that I encourage you to read. [Read more…]

Changing my tune

Oh neat! It’s time for one of my rare (but fun) retractions!

Last Monday, I put the boots to James Croft for a conversation we had over Twitter. To summarize, I thought that his advocacy for increasing the use of song as part of humanist gatherings was a) offputting, and b) dangerous. A, because there are a lot of people who identify as humanist after fleeing religion, and that adding secular hymns to humanist functions was going to make those people intensely uncomfortable and unwelcome. B, because the function of liturgical music is to make messaging more palatable by bypassing the rational parts of the brain, and that rationality is what makes humanism more than just “religion for atheists”.

James took his time in responding, but when he did, he kicked my ass: [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Timid Atheist

Today’s contribution comes from the Timid Atheist, who was luckily not so timid that she couldn’t e-mail.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am a better person and a better mother.

I accepted my atheism about a year and a half ago.  Which came about via my search in regards to feminism.  Since then I’ve learned more about atheism, humanism, feminism and LGBT activism than I ever thought possible.  I’m still learning to be a better person, but I’ve come a long way from how I use to be.  And I’ve donated more to worthy causes in the past year and a half than I have my entire life. And I did it because I wanted to not because I felt guilted into it by my “faith.”

I have more patience for my child and I have better responses to her questions than ever before. And I’m so glad this happened before she experienced puberty so I can be there for her when all of the really difficult personal things happen.  While my daughter doesn’t know that I”m an atheist yet, she knows that things are a bit different for me in regards to how I view god and the bible and she is okay with that.

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