Take A Number

If you don’t like what I have to say: take a number, get in line and kiss my ass.–Christopher Hitchens

He was cynical and venomous, and famously uncouth;
He refused the path to heaven—ah, but now he knows the truth!
I can only hope he saw the light, before he had to pass
—Take a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.

So beloved an opponent, when we met in fierce debate;
He was far, far, too intelligent to meet a heathen’s fate!
Now he’s hectoring Saint Peter, cos Hitch had balls of brass
—Take a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.

He was secretly a Christian, in his hidden heart of hearts
You could see it in his essence, which was greater than its parts
Like the picture that emerges from the fragments of stained glass
—Take a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.

In his essays and his arguments, he always held out hope
Which confirms his similarity to Christians like the pope
If he weren’t so gosh-darned stubborn, we’d have seen him there at Mass
—Take a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.

Is it really so impossible to think, perhaps, he died
Without ever seeking Jesus—no, not even “deep inside”?
He expressed it for himself, you know—like this, succinct and crass:
—Take a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.


Why Brother Smoggy Is A Christian (A Guest Post)

I am delighted to share with you a guest post by friend of good people everywhere Smoggy Batzrubble, beloved of all, member of the Order of the Molly on Pharyngula. Smoggy did send this to PZ for his “Why I am an atheist” series, but since that gives it a less than 1% chance of being posted by Christmas, and since it contains a Christmas poem by Smoggy, I am performing the public service of expediting the delivery of high art. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Why I am a Christian, A Conversation with Jesus
Transcribed by Smoggy Batzrubble

(With a Bonus Christmas Rhyme)

Smoggy Batzrubble: Dear Jesus?

Jesus Christ: [sigh] Yes, servant Smoggy?

SB: Dear Jesus, those Hell-bound atheists are baring their tormented
souls on the evil Pharyngula blog, blathering on the theme of ‘Why I
am An Atheist’ to justify their pointless existences and pretend
they’re not terrified of the eternal damnation which awaits them.

JC: And?

SB: And? And… and… and it’s not good enough Jesus! What if some
impressionable young believer gets whiff of the heady haze of heresy
and starts thinking rational thoughts? Can you imagine a world with no
religion, no heaven, no hell below, above us only sky?

JC: Careful Smoggy, you’re getting lyrical. (continues after jump) [Read more…]

Theist Tropes We Can Do Without

Hey, it’s only fair. We’ve got a ton of the tropes we atheists can’t stand; can we put ourselves in the other person’s sandals for a bit and list some of the tropes that go the other way? In this, I’m going to accept any that apply to any religion, cos otherwise we’d have hundreds of posts collecting Catholic tropes, Southern Baptist tropes, Mormon tropes, Shia trope, Sunni tropes, Reform Judaism tropes, Seventh Day Adventists tropes, Wiccan tropes, Hindu tropes, Shinto tropes… you get the picture. So for purposes of commenting here, we may treat all believers alike. (continues after the jump:) [Read more…]

Thirteen Hours…

Thirteen hours on the road, and I feel like someone has jammed a red-hot poker through my right scapula.

But now Cuttleson is home. Cuttledaughter has been home for a couple of weeks. Yeah, I have a ton of grading to do, but life is good.

Do I have to turn in my “angry atheist” card?

Atheist Tropes We Can Do Without

What with the death of Christopher Hitchens on the front page of pretty much every news outlet in the world, the comments are full of people’s opinions about atheism and atheists. In the spirit of Shakesville, asking the question “Which film trope needs to go away forever?” (somebody quoted me there, which is how I saw it), I want to know which atheist tropes need to take a dirt nap.

I’ll start (thus snagging the easy ones): Inflamed hemorrhoid and commenter “Art Aficionado”, on NPR, on his third comment in the first eight on Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s piece on Hitchens (seriously, NPR, BBH? Were all the interns gone on college break?) writes “I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Hitchens prayed to God in his final moments. It’s very plausible.” He repeats this claim several times across the comments, in response to those who show him how unlikely this would be, and how irrelevant.

In the same thread, we see multiple commenters noting that Hitchens, despite Dinesh D’Souza’s (again, NPR, this is why BBH shouldn’t have been let near this piece) description of Hitch as “a happy atheist” (given D’Souza, this description made him stand out from other atheists), seemed to them to be bitter, unhappy, and angry. This trope imposes a personality on atheists that outshines any description or actual evidence of happiness, and it’s old, by this point.

Oh, but there are more! Another commenter pulls out the old favorite “atheism is like a religion in many ways.” In the same way that it is like peanut butter, or b-flat, or fuzzy kittens, maybe—they are both nouns. Any way that atheism is like religion, that is not much more true of Manchester United fandom, is utterly irrelevant.

I could go on, but that would defeat the purpose. What atheist tropes can we bury in an unmarked grave in Potter’s Field?

For Hitch

A reminder of the sort of thinking he so eloquently battled. When Hitch was first diagnosed, a writer who doesn’t deserve mention by name in this post (you can click to find out who, but it really doesn’t matter) said that God was being kind, offering a lingering and painful death to give him time and reason to reconsider his atheism.

How fucking sweet. This was my response at the time (I think Hitchens’ response was an eloquent silence).

So I heard, today—you’re dying; God has blessed you with a cancer
In the past, a certain-death-by-torture sentence.
So I send congratulations! “Why?” you ask; well, here’s my answer:
Now there’s time and motivation for repentance!

Since the hand of God has touched you, with His doom-inflicting fingers
Your esophageal cancer is sublime!
And I wish for you the type of death that lingers, lingers, lingers,
With the merciful benevolence of time!

You have time to turn to Jesus, and to thank your carcinoma
If you’ll listen to Our Lord Almighty’s voice
Just repent to God, your savior, just before you lapse to coma,
Cos Jehovah gave you time to make your choice

If you choose to shun the chance to make a godly new beginning
And you tell yourself it’s really just as well
Then you’re reaping what you’ve sown, and since you spent your life a-sinning
Then I hope you like eternity in Hell!

Sorry, writer-who-will-not-be-named, looks like Hitch died without giving you the satisfaction. He’s left quite a legacy, but there’s a great many around willing to keep his flame going.

…So He Cut Off Her Fingers.

I know, don’t give away the whole thing in the title. I don’t care; I am too angry.

Yesterday, I wrote of the success of Bulgarian women; part of their success, you may recall, was attributed to the absence of institutionalized (read: religious) structures supporting discrimination. There was discrimination, of course, but also optimism that change is coming swiftly.

Today, I see the other end of the spectrum. In a BBC report:

Human rights groups in Bangladesh have demanded a severe punishment for the husband of a young wife who allegedly cut off most of her right hand.

Police say Rafiqul Islam, 30, attacked her because she pursued higher education without his permission.

Police say that Mr Islam, who works in the United Arab Emirates, tied up his 21-year-old wife, Hawa Akther Jui, earlier this month. He then taped her mouth and cut off the five fingers.

I can’t imagine.

If there is any good news in this story, it is that the young woman is refusing to be deterred:

Ms Akther – who is eager to continue her studies – said that she wanted her husband to be severely punished for the attack.

“I have now started practising writing with my left hand. I want to see how far I can go. I never imagined that my fingers would be chopped off like this because of my studies.”

Proof Of God?

Over at Debunking Christianity, John Loftus answers a question. Specifically, the question of “what would it take for you, an atheist, to believe in god?”, and the objection that in reality, our answers are all lip service, that we are closed-minded and unwilling to budge. You can go take a look at his answer, but mine is a bit different. For me, this is one of those questions better answered with another question: What would it take for you, a christian, to believe in someone else’s god?

The same evidence that should be sufficient to convince an atheist, will necessarily disconfirm some religions, given that they disagree with one another, and positively proving one of them may well violate fundamental tenets of another (come to think of it, it might support none; there may be a very real deity that every single religion gets wrong). Gods are intentionally fuzzily-defined; if they were clearly defined, they would be easy to disconfirm. Absolute proof of a specific God would be a believer’s worst nightmare! With so many options, the odds that their own god is the right one are better in the absence of evidence. Besides (he said, cynically), old habits die hard, and the habit of denying empirical evidence has a long history.

Can you imagine what the various reactions of atheists and believers might be, to the sort of evidence that would make PZ check himself into a padded cell? My version, after the jump: [Read more…]

What, No Second Date?

Come back with me, babe, to my villa in France
It’s romantic as hell, and I might get the chance
To get in your—wait! What I mean is, to dance
With my lovely American girl
There’s a pool on the roof; I’ve got flowers, and wine,
And the view from the bedroom is frankly divine
There’s a slight little problem; it’s not really mine,
But I think we should give it a whirl

There’s a poster I’ve hung, that’s of Winnie the Pooh,
To imply I’m a teddy bear, crazy for you,
And to show I’m a rogue, there’s a pirate flag, too
Cos I’ve never known bad boys to fail
My American girl, such a beautiful date
But you didn’t show up, until three hours late
Then refused to come home, cos I didn’t quite rate…
Could you visit me, sometime, in jail?

True story of an insane seduction attempt gone predictably wrong, after the jump: [Read more…]

Headline Muse, 12/14

In the government, business, and school,
Though the prejudice sometimes is cruel,
If you want something done
Who’s your pick? Who’s the one?
In Bulgaria, smart women rule.

Headline: Do women rule Bulgaria?

In my experience, Bulgarian women are one of the more powerful forces of nature. The people who got things done–whatever was needed–while my group were in Bulgaria, were strong, smart, Bulgarian women. Today’s headline was a nice chance to see that I was not merely seeing things. More after the jump: [Read more…]