Because I am an atheist: Comrade Physioproffe

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBlogger, and master of concise writing, Comrade Physioproffe

Because I am an atheist…

…I organize my life around the principle that my overarching goal is to act in ways that enhance other people’s lives, instead of around a bunch of made-up bullshitte principles supposedly imposed by a fake sky-god but which really are just designed to provide cover for the worst of human impulses.

Consider submitting your own statement, by e-mail or as a comment!

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Talking the tightrope

I’m not sure how many of you are aware of the sheer unmitigated genius that is the comedy of Mitch Hedburg, but if you haven’t heard his repertoire of brilliant one-liners, please do yourself the favour of wrapping your ears around one of his albums. One of my favourites of his goes something like this:

“If you had a friend who was a tightrope walker, and you were walking down a sidewalk, and he fell, that would be completely unacceptable…”

His bits are all like that – observations that were seemingly plucked from the weirdest and most non-sequitur place imaginable. This one in particular resonated with me because it almost perfectly encapsulates how I feel when I hear fellow skeptics repeating, often with no ill intent, the same kinds of racist nonsense I hear from the general public.

The thesis underpinning this blog, at least the part of this blog that specifically deal with race, is that we can use skeptical methods to identify the racial components of attitudes, behaviours, and institutions. In so doing, we can learn to mitigate the damage caused by these things, and find productive ways to address topics that are often fraught with emotional landmines that can be triggered by careless statements, no matter how delicately put. Anti-racism in this context is therefore simply the application of skepticism to issues of culture, history, and social constructs around ethnicity.* [Read more…]

But what about Teh Menz!?!1!

Part of the problem with starting a new blog (or joining an already stellar one) is hitting on the right tone for the first post. Come on too strong and the writing appears forced (“ALRIGHT EVERYONE! HERE ARE MY WORDS AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM ALL AND YOU WILL KNOW HOW AWESOMEANDWITTYIAMBYTHETHIRDSENTANCEBLAKJSRSR!!!”), but exercise too much restraint and the blog post may read more like a detailed analysis of proper moisture content for haylage (yes, it’s a real word, and it’s 30-50%, by the way). I had originally written a fairly lengthy article about the current state of research on masculinities in the social sciences is but, you know, haylage. So here’s the plan: I’ve scrapped the post and written a new one, and done my best to lighten the tone a bit while keeping the core argument intact. I probably won’t have too many links contained in the body of the post, but I will absolutely put a small bibliography at the end (complete with links) for some of the more important works in the field.

The study of men and masculinities in the social sciences has been taking place since the very birth of the social sciences. Of course, back in the day just about everything that could be talked about with regards to society and social institutions was about men, by men, and for men. It wasn’t until the arrival on the scene of those uppity wimmenz with their ‘rooms of one’s own’ and their radical demands to be allowed to vote – or even be considered ‘persons’ under the law in the first place – that the analytical lenses of sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, etc. began to swivel to scrutinize women and women’s lives. And what they found was that women had it pretty bad. Horribly bad, in fact and perhaps it would be wise if some small amount of time was devoted to trying to understand why they had it so bad, don’tcherknow? [Read more…]

Movie Friday: The Straw Feminist

I remember a party at a neighbour’s house where we were discussing dating and ‘red flags’. The hostess, a headstrong and independent young woman who really had her shit together remarked that what she liked was a ‘manly man’ (by which I assume she meant a guy who closely adheres to societal gender norms). I replied that, while she was entitled to her preference, I thought that she might be precluding a lot of decent guys simply because they didn’t meet her standards for ‘macho’. Her reply was “I guess. I just really hate feminists, you know?”

Puzzled, I responded that were that the case, she hated me. The other guy in the room (who would later go on to become her boyfriend) responded in kind. I dare say that I imagine that, had she looked up the definition, she probably would have identified herself as some kind of feminist, just “not one of those feminists”.

Which kind? The kind made of straw:

[Read more…]


I will likely never get a chance to ‘boo’ Mitt Romney in person, so I will have to do it on the internet.

You may have heard that political windsock Mitt Romney* visited the NAACP yesterday. The audience, obviously predominantly black, booed him when he announced his intention to repeal “Obamacare” should he be elected into office. He then said… well he said a bunch of stupid shit. It was a fairly typical example of a white conservative politician rolling in and telling black people what they should care about instead of the silly frivolous things they do care about (like, y’know, being able to access health care):

Mr. Romney received polite applause at several points during the speech. But he was interrupted again when he flatly accused Mr. Obama of failing to spark a more robust economic recovery.

“I know the president has said he will do those things. But he has not. He cannot. He will not. And his last four years in the White House prove it definitively,” Mr. Romney said as the crowd’s murmurs turned to louder groans.

Finally, he stopped amid loud jeers.

“If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look,” Mr. Romney shot back.


The part that I love about this story is the photos of the audience reaction. This one is my favourite: [Read more…]

Well I’m gonna have to find a new job

If you’ve been following the #FTBullies controversy ridiculous hissy fit reasoned discussion by reasonable people (with reason!), you may have come across a number of people calling my credibility and motivations into question with regard to my refusing to grant any legitimacy to the meme that Freethought Blogs is a hive-mind that silences dissent. “Of course he won’t criticize them,” say the nay-sayers “He has too much to lose! He’s trying to stay on PZ’s good side! He’s trying to ‘move up the ladder*’!”

Well folks… they’re on to me. I need this gig. You see, being employed full-time as a researcher, playing in a rock band, and juggling personal and volunteer activities simply isn’t enough for me. I need to have people occasionally tell me that they like my writing. I need it. I also can’t live without the ~$60/month mega-haul that I get from being on FTB. It’s all part of a grand scheme I hatched 2 years ago, pretending to care about racism and other social justice issues in a devious plot to be included as a middling-trafficked site on a blog network that didn’t exist yet. You got me.

And now apparently my meal ticket is about to blow away: [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Rebecca Watson

Today’s contribution comes from a Twitter conversation I had with Rebecca Watson, who took a decidedly minimalist approach to her response:

Because I am an atheist…

Rebecca: "I don't know that I really do anything bc I'm an atheist, except maybe cringe at the things atheists say, haha"

Rebecca: “I don’t know that I really do anything bc I’m an atheist, except maybe cringe at the things atheists say, haha”

I have been intentionally selecting the responses from people who have been saying that their atheism makes a big difference in their lives, but there is a large contingent of the atheist population whose atheism simply does not play a meaningful role in their decision-making. While the way I framed this issue does presuppose that a lack of god belief is something that makes you do things, the fact is that many people simply do not see it that way. A response of “nothing” is an entirely valid way of answering the question of “what does your atheism change about your life?”

Consider submitting your own statement, by e-mail or as a comment!

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The unbearable whiteness of TVing

There have been few times in my life where I have had a single-race group of friends. Living when and where I have, there have even been few examples where I was the only person of colour (PoC) in my immediate social circle. Part of it came, to be sure, from the fact that my high school was ludicrously multicultural, and I went to university for the next 6 years of my life before moving to Vancouver, a city with a huge PoC population. Simple probability theory dictates that you can’t really put together a monoracial group without more than a little bit of intentionality behind your friend selection.

Which is why shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and How I Met Your Mother annoy the living shit out of me. Well, to be fair to HIMYM, they eventually cast Kal Penn, so now the only thing that annoys me is the terrible writing. Anyway, these shows somehow manage to be about a group of white people living in one of the most multicultural cities in the world who only have ny kind of meaningful contact with other white people. Sure, PoCs occasionally pop into existence on these shows, but it’s almost always as either one-off characters or as “hilarious” jokes based on stereotype.

Last week I invited you to think about privilege as a pair of coloured goggles that prevented you from being able to see certain parts of the spectrum. Of course, if it were simply the case that privilege caused you to ‘miss out’ on things, it wouldn’t be much of a privilege, would it? Here’s the thing – that kind of selective blindness has consequences: [Read more…]

Religion of peace

I am openly (and perhaps notoriously) anti-theistic. It is not simply that I do not believe; I think that you shouldn’t believe either. By no means will I endorse any sort of measure to ban belief, even if I thought such a thing were possible. Nor will I sit idly while any group is selected out for unequal treatment based on their religious beliefs, even if I find those beliefs risible. I do, however, believe that religious belief, particularly the special form of ‘faith’ that is specifically instructed to be impervious to contradiction by evidence, is inherently harmful.

It has become a nearly zero-thought maxim in atheist circles to point out the sheer number and shocking depravity of acts committed in the name of religion. The theist counter-points about how evil atheistic people like Stalin were have been refuted so many times as to beggar belief that anyone would honestly use it (of course repeated refutation of bad arguments has never stopped people before, so whatever). And while we know that there are usually a multitude of reasons why people do shitty things, we are happy enough to take them at their word when they say they are doing evil things that are specifically motivated by their religious belief.

So it would be somewhat hypocritical of me not to give credit where credit is due, which is apparently in Kenya: [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Scotlyn

Today’s contribution comes from Scotlyn via email

Because I am an atheist…

…I enjoy a private life.

I was prompted to reflect on the singular importance of this when an evangelical relative posted the following:

“No single piece of our mental world is to be sealed off from the rest and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ ” – Kuyper

(PS – I don’t know who Kuyper is, this is the only attribution that was given in the post).

I can’t tell you how much that quote, and the concepts embodied within it, fills me with utter revulsion.  How can anyone live authentically, truly, bravely, when their very thoughts are not, cannot be, their own?

I grew up as the daughter of evangelical missionaries, and going to college was a catalyst, for me, to assess my faith, and find it wanting.  This process was lengthy, taking place over a number of years, but I remember with extreme clarity a moment when I realised how lacking my childhood had been in mental privacy.  I was on a visit home (age approx 25) and met a family acquaintance who was unfamiliar with the then painful process of my communicating my doubts and workings and my eventual departure from their faith with my family.

This person casually enquired, “so how is your walk with Jesus.”  And several realisations hit me with sudden force: [Read more…]