Back to Utah for me

It’s been a long time since I was last in Salt Lake City, and I’m looking forward to flying out there tomorrow. I know it’s full of weird strange Mormons, but they’re actually mostly nice people with wacky ideas, and the state itself is freakin’ gorgeous — we have very pleasant memories of raising young (godless) kids there.

I’ll be speaking on Saturday at 4pm in Orson Spencer Hall on the University of Utah campus. The topic will be The Good Atheist: Goals for the Godless 21st Century. Would you be surprised to learn that my definition of “good” does not include rolling over and playing friendly little puppy with the religious? There might be a little bit of fire-breathing in town Saturday night. Bring your Mormon friends!


  1. says

    I hope you address the real-world consequences of religion–such as the fact that over 40% of homeless teenagers in Utah are gay teens kicked out by their loving families, that rejection worsens teens’ health, and that gay teens in general may be seen as mentally ill.

    Combine that with the habit of expelling straight young men because they compete for young women against their elders, and you have quite a sexual mess.

  2. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    I’m a little disappointed that this happens the week after I get back from SLC, but my friend might go! ♥

  3. 'Tis Himself says

    Would you be surprised to learn that my definition of “good” does not include rolling over and playing friendly little puppy with the religious?

    Didn’t your time with Chris Stedman teach you anything? Everyone* knows that being mean to the goddists, asking rude and embarrassing questions like “how do you know that?” and “what’s your evidence?”, never works for making them question their beliefs. You’ve got to be nice to them, indulge them with some ass kissing, before they’ll even listen to you.

    *Just ask the folks at the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy, they’ll confirm it.

  4. duane says


    “Combine that with the habit of expelling straight young men because they compete for young women against their elders…”

    I think you’re referring to the fundamentalist sect out there in Texas led by Warren Jeffs. Traditional Mormons in Utah, particularly young men and women, have no problem getting together. Believe me.

    Polygamous sects do, however, hide out in plain sight all over SLC and the Utah Valley. My sister teaches grade school nearby, and a few children of polygamous sects do attend.

  5. joed says
    State Name – Ute Indian word meaning “home on mountain top”
    State Capital – Salt Lake City
    Population: 2,699,554 (2007 Estimate)
    Statehood Day – January 4, 1896 (45th state)

    Land Area
    84,916 sq. mi, 65% of the state of Utah is owned by the federal government.

    Highest and Lowest Point
    King’s Peak 13,528 ft (Uinta Mountains, Duchesne Co. – NE part of state)
    Beaver Dam Wash 2,350 ft. (Near St. George, Washington Co. SW part of state

    “Utah is the rooftop of the United States. The average elevation of the tallest peaks in each of Utah´s counties is 11,222 ft. above sea level – higher than the same average in any other state.” (Hiking Utah´s Summits by Paula Huff)

    Great Salt Lake
    Area – 1,060,000 acres
    Average elevation – 4,200 ft.
    Highest elevation (1986) – 4,211.85 ft.
    Lowest elevation (1963) – 4,191 ft.

  6. kp71 says

    I recommend the Red Iguana for dinner. Best Mexican food I’ve had north of Los Angeles.

  7. says

    Yes, I am going to the Iguana.

    But I disagree — you want really good Mexican food, you go to the little hole in the wall restaurants in the Mexican neighborhoods. The quality is more variable, though: the Iguana is reliable. Or at least it was, when I was last in SLC…19 years ago. Jebus, it’s been a while.

  8. nonpersonhobofico says

    I’ll try to make it as well. Being a Utah Valley based atheist married to a Mormon, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to listen to reason.

  9. says

    PZ has the right of it here. For all that we’re pretty homogeneously white here, we have a large enough Latino population to have great Mexican food. It depends on what kind of Mexican food you’re after. If you want a traditional mole that will knock your socks off, the Red Iguana’s the place. But we also have all sorts of hole in the wall places. There are at least two Mexican seafood places a few miles from my house where all the signage is in Spanish, and when you walk in, you’re the only non-latino there.

    PZ, I don’t actually know if you’re a whiskey guy, but I might recommend trying a rye from the local distillery, High West. The Rendevous Rye is my all time favorite whiskey. Plus the liquor taxes help toward the education budget, which can use all the help it can get.

  10. Greta Christina says

    If you have time, and if you need a drink when you’re there — as I strongly suspect you will, we sure as hell did — check out the Beerhive. And the motion for High West whiskey is heartily seconded.

  11. some bastard on the net says

    Back to Utah for me.


    I’ll be speaking on Saturday at 4pm…


  12. says

    Women, prepare yourself. If you are venturing into the morridor to hear PZ’s talk, you may want to know what to expect.

    If you want to know how mormon men talk about themselves, and to each other, when women are absent, here’s an example:

    This video features David A. Bednar speaking at a Quorum of the Priesthood (penis holders only, no women allowed in the audience), April 2012.

  13. says

    Yes, the Red Iguana is still good. They’ve got a few new locations now, I can only vouch for the North Temple location, West of State Street. (Church and state intersect literally in SLC, with both N. Temple and S. Temple crossing State St.)

  14. Levi Claussen says

    I’ll be in WVC for my grandparent’s 60th anniversary, if things wrap up early enough that afternoon I’ll try to make it to some of the event.

  15. writzer says

    Ah, the memories. Orson Spencer Hall, the classes I took, the classes I taught. The anti-war protests. This was back in the day when 3.2 beer was the strongest drink on tap and you made six trips to the bathroom before you even felt a hint of a buzz.

  16. says

    Utah, the most beautiful state in the union. I would give a left arm to move there. I’m sorry as hell that I can’t make it.

  17. aegerine says

    Welcome back! I’m taking my volcanism class on a field trip to young volcanoes in Utah (some slightly more than 6,000 years old and some much younger). So sorry I’ll miss your talk. Red Iguana is still great. For the ultimate in beer choice, it’s Bayou. Thanks for coming – it will be a real treat for our students.

  18. MG Myers says

    After reading PZ’s post, I went looking online for one of my favorite old SLC places, the Natural History Museum of Utah. Wow! I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the community recently built an impressive new museum for $102.5 million. Has anyone been to the new Natural History Museum of Utah yet?

  19. says

    I have been to the new museum. It is awesome. They have this giant dna strand with interlocking pieces to show how proteins are coded (and of course dinosaur stuff). The old one wasn’t really much of a museum. The upper level is devoted to native americans and their history in utah. The food at the cafe is from The Point (at the huntsman cancer hospital, very swanky).

  20. says

    The video in the previous post makes the claim that 74% of LBGT BYU students have contemplated suicide, and that almost 25% have attempted suicide.

    Why these kids stay mormon is the next question. It’s obvious that they are living within an all-mormon culture. They don’t have anything else.

    This is one of the oddest “It Gets Better” videos I’ve seen.

  21. sundiver says

    Remember Ed Abbey’s jibe, Welcome to Utah, set your watch back 50 years? I also recall a coffee shop in Moab that sold t-shirts with ” COFFEE, STILL LEGAL IN UTAH ” on the back.

  22. magic pants, celestial slacker says

    Bummer, I finished my PhD there two years too soon. I’ll try and get some grad school buddies still finishing up to attend.

    One of my favorite holes in the wall for Mexican food is Tacos Daniel, not far from the Red Iguana. ¡Sopes!

  23. says

    Pteryxx, sorry about that link. This one says 40% nationally, 50% in Utah.

    Nationally, between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to a January 2007 report released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In 2007 these numbers held true for Utah according to a survey the Homeless Youth Resource Center, conducted of its drop-in clients. But in January and February 2008 something strange happened: the numbers jumped to slightly over 50 percent.

    “Over half of our youth coming in at that time identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or other,” said Teresa Stocks, Homeless Youth Resource Center program manager. In past surveys, she said, the numbers of such self-identified youth ranged “between 29 and 35 percent.”

    Here’s an article about a documentary on homeless teens in SLC.