December 31, 2012

Atheist Revolution's Most Read Posts of 2012

Keyboard (Photo credit: cheetah100)
Based on the number of pageviews accrued, these were the 10 most visited posts at Atheist Revolution during 2012:
  1. Why I Am An Atheist
  2. Atheist or Agnostic? I'm Both
  3. Bible Commands Christians to Kill Nonbelievers
  4. How to Promote Atheism With Almost No Effort
  5. Atheism 101: A Reading List
  6. As Catholic Child Rape Details Emerge in Court, What Are Catholics Waiting For?
  7. Existence of Atheists Offends Christians
  8. Real Christians Do Not Have Christmas Trees
  9. Atheists, We Are Costing People Eternal Life
  10. Distinguishing Between Criticism and Attacks
It is noteworthy that only half of these were posted in 2012. Clearly, older posts can continue to drive traffic long after they were written.

Thanks to all of you for making this a great year. Here's to a lively 2013!

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December 30, 2012

Impersonator Accounts on Twitter

Elvis-impersonator-martin-fox-01-1- (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you use Twitter, you've almost certainly come across "parody accounts" (i.e., those operated exclusively or almost exclusively for the purpose of making fun of someone). I have seen parody accounts for the Christian god, Jesus, the Pope, Atheism+, and many others. It is usually easy to tell them from the real thing. Some can even be quite funny at times.

In the past few weeks, there has been a proliferation of a different type of parody account on Twitter, one that seeks to impersonate real people. For example, a few of the bloggers who write for Freethought Blogs now have accounts that attempt to impersonate them. I have run into a few of these that were easy to recognize as impersonators and a couple that weren't.

December 29, 2012

When We Oppose Science

Ostrich (Photo credit: LenaCorazon)
Many evangelical fundamentalist Christians are opposed to science because science provides compelling evidence that their superstitious worldview is inaccurate. Rather than modifying their worldview to bring it closer to reality, they dismiss science. As a result, we preach abstinence to our children, fight a "war on drugs" that is as ineffective as it is costly, and willingly surrender one of the most promising scientific finds in decades - the promise of stem cell research.

It may be uncomfortable to wrestle with the challenges before us. We may wish that climate change is a hoax or that limiting access to firearms would not reduce the likelihood of our children falling victim to gun violence. We may console ourselves with the ridiculous notion that it is okay for our neighbors to live in poverty because they will be rewarded in heaven. And yet, when we oppose science and cling to superstition, we retard our progress and undermine the future of our children.

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December 28, 2012

Obstacles to Atheist Activism: Infighting

infightingThere is going to be some amount of internal conflict (i.e., infighting) in any large group, and the atheist community is certainly no exception. Some of us may be more rational than religious believers on the question of gods, but there is nothing like infighting to expose the flawed human nature we share with the religious. While a certain amount of internal disagreement, debate, and conflict can be healthy in a group or community, excessive infighting may be detrimental. This is particularly evident when the various parties involved in a disagreement stop listening to one another and regress to hurling childish personal insults. Such behavior can be an obstacle to atheist activism.

December 27, 2012

Claims I Rejected in 2012

ridiculous claimsIf claims can be questioned, even those that are religious in nature, perhaps other ridiculous claims can be questioned, challenged, and even rejected.
  • "By criticizing President Obama, you are just helping the Republicans out to destroy him."
  • "You should be nicer to Christians on your blog because mocking them is only going to make them hate atheists more."
  • "If you aren't absolutely convinced that it is wrong for a man to ask a woman back to his room for coffee in an elevator, you are a misogynist."
  • "Forming third parties or activist movements is a waste of time. We should just work within the existing system or wait for things to change."
  • "Even if you do not share someones's religious beliefs, you should respect them because they clearly mean a great deal to him or her."
  • "You are wasting your time criticizing atheists when they behave badly; the religious are the problem."

These are all claims I have heard and rejected during 2012. I recognize that I could be wrong about any or all of them, but each is something I have considered and then rejected. I do think that any of them are likely to be accurate.

December 26, 2012

Southern Baptists and Clergy Abuse

Southern BaptistCatholics are not the only Christian denomination with problems related to the sexual abuse of children by clergy. Southern Baptists have been on the radar quite a bit too.

While the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has worked tirelessly to conceal sexual abuse by priests, sometimes transferring them, paying off victims' families, and the the like, the Baptists appear to have a different sort of problem. In addition to their tendency to deny that abuse is occurring, it appears that the manner in which the Southern Baptist church is structured may prevent accountability.

According to Tim Townsend (The Post-Dispatch, St. Louis and available through CNN), Rev. Travis Smith only has to face his own congregation after his arrest for sexual abuse and statutory rape.
Unlike members of many denominations — such as Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalian and Presbyterians — Southern Baptists don’t conform to a centralized, hierarchical structure.

Instead, authority resides at the local church level. And that’s true even amid allegations of clergy misconduct.

December 25, 2012

Jesus to Send Christmas Tornadoes

tornado threatIf the weather forecast for this area is to be believed, this part of the country could be in for some nasty weather today. Severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes are being predicted throughout the area. Why they've even been telling people to remove all outdoor holiday decorations so they do not end up being projectiles! At least I don't have to worry about that.

I'll never understand why one of the most thoroughly Christian parts of the U.S. has some of the worst weather. Even if Pat Robertson is correct that his god is determined to destroy New Orleans due to "sin," one would think that his god could aim a bit better.

If the forecast turns out to be wrong, then it will be "a Christmas miracle." On the other hand, if tornadoes do strike, those who survive will proclaim their survival to be "a Christmas miracle."

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December 24, 2012

The Christmas Eve Church Service

church bell
One of the many holiday traditions from my childhood that I am happy to be rid of is the Christmas Eve church service. I was forced to join my family for an evening church service on Christmas Eve until I was about 16-17 and they finally agreed to stop forcing me to attend church. When I think back on it now, I realize that I disliked it for different reasons over the years, depending on my age at the time.

Prior to about age 12, I disliked the Christmas Eve service even though I was still a Christian. Church was the last thing I wanted to be thinking about on Christmas Eve. It was late, I was tired, and I was excited about Christmas the next morning. The last thing I wanted to do was get dressed up in uncomfortable clothes and listen to adults sing badly and hear the same Jesus story I'd heard so often it felt like it was seared into my young brain. I had no interest in holding a dripping candle outside the sanctuary while old ladies who smelled like they had used an entire bottle of perfume pinched me. I was a Christian, but believing this stuff did not make me want to waste the night in church.

December 23, 2012

Secular Alternatives to Christmas

CandleOne of the things I find most tiring about this time of year is the shock, dismay, and even condemnation I face every time someone assumes that I celebrate Christmas and I have to explain that I do not. Given the large numbers of Christians I encounter online insisting that atheists should not be allowed to celebrate Christmas, one might think that at least they would be thrilled when I inform them that I do not celebrate it in any way. Even if this information might appease a few, it seems to upset many more.

Worse still are the reactions of some atheists upon hearing that one of their own does not celebrate Christmas. I've addressed how defensive some atheists seem to be about their desire to celebrate Christmas previously and do not need to repeat that here. Instead, I'd like to address the suggestion I've heard that atheists should create alternatives to Christmas.

December 22, 2012

I Have Problems and Might Not Be Reincarnated as a Tree

reincarnated treeI could tell this email was going to be a good one because the subject field asked, "Do you have problems?" Yes. Yes, I do. Thank you for asking. I have many problems, and while I do not want to bore you with them, I would feel remiss in failing to explain that I'm struggling with the worst cold I've had in some time. As I write this, my feverish mind is trying to cope with entirely too much cough syrup. I'm not entirely sure whether I am awake or still having those bizarre dreams that kept me up half the night. I think I must be dreaming, as I'm not sure how else I could feel too hot and too cold at the same time.

But enough about me and my problems. We should take a look at this email, unedited and presented in its entirety for your enjoyment:
So how does it feel trying to destroy something that give millions of people hope and purpose? You want to start a revolution? You fight Christian extremism? First of all Atheists can be even more extreme beliefs by making benign, irrational statements, as of which all of you do. Why do all of your quotes have the most obnoxious comments? Can you keep to yourself, there's a reason you have under three percent of the worlds population believing in your idiotic so called belief. You are coming across as ignorant, and shallow minded when you say other beliefs are "irrational." I hope you know that you will not reincarnate as a tree or some other stupid thing. For the record, atheist have the reputation among the general population, not as intelluctuals, but as a group full of holier than thou douche bags. Good luck with you meaningless life (according to you). Please get back at me and tell me how you feel, so you know I attend a top academic program in the country, and my classmates and I sit around typing this email. Maybe you should really just give up on your irrational, non-sense, joke of a belief.
I think I will get back to my meaningless life now, or at least go back to bed. I will rest easier in the knowledge that students attending "a top academic program in the country" will be our future leaders. Perhaps I'll revisit this message when I'm feeling even mildly coherent.

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December 21, 2012

Real Christians Do Not Have Christmas Trees

christmas treesMany of us who live in the U.S. are told that the winter holidays are supposed to be a time for coming together and focusing on our similarities rather than our differences (i.e., the so-called "Christmas spirit"). I'd like to do that by sharing one of the things I have in common with "real Christians."

You see, I do not erect and decorate any sort of tree this time of year. I do not do so because I regard the practice as silly, wasteful, and because I have no particular emotional attachment to it. "Real Christians" do not engage in the practice either, as their bible frowns on this pagan practice (Jeremiah 10:1-25 NIV) that predated the time in which Jesus is alleged to have lived. You and I both know that "real Christians" read their bible as the literal word of the god in which they claim to believe. So yes, they are fairly serious about doing what it instructs.

The Christian bible informs Christians that theirs is a jealous god. Even the first of their 10 commandments reinforces this point. Messing around with pagan practices that could be mistaken for the worship of false gods is not something any "real Christian" would take lightly. It would be one of the worst things they could do.

You may see other sorts of festive decorations on the home of a "real Christian" this time of year, but you will not find a Christmas tree.

Atheist Divide Over Christmas is Trivial

atheist christmasThe mainstream news media in the U.S. really seems to love conflict and is not above attempting to amplify trivial disagreements to sell their conflict narrative. For the latest example, we turn to Dan Merica's post on CNN's Belief Blog, "Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion."

I realize that you and I can read Merica's post and recognize that the conflict it tries to create is little more than a a difference in preferred tactics. What worries me is that we are not his intended audience. When I try to imagine the opinion the average reader might form after reading this article, I have to imagine him or her coming away with an erroneous view of the atheist community.

To be sure, we have our share of disagreements and divides in the atheist community. There's no denying that. But the disagreement to which Merica refers, particularly as it pertains to Christmas, is about as trivial as they come. Worse still, Mercia alleges that Christmas reveals "a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion." This simply isn't true.

December 20, 2012

Merry Kitzmas!

Panda's Thumb reminds us, today (December 20) is Kitzmas, the anniversary of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision. In case you need a reminder, Kitzmiller was the 2005 case out of Pennsylvania in which teaching "intelligent design" in public schools was found to be unconstitutional. You can find detailed information about the case, including the full decision and even trial transcripts, at Talk Origins.

Finally, there's something worth celebrating this time of year!

And while we're on the subject of science education, please join me in thanking the Orleans Parish school board for their recent decision to ban textbooks that teach creationism as science and prevent teachers from teaching this nonsense in science classes. You better believe they are hearing all sorts of outrage from the creationist contingent in Louisiana, so let's make sure they hear something positive from us.

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Holiday Reading for Atheists

readingI suspect I am not alone in having a bit of extra free time around the holidays. One of the things I almost always try to do with this extra time is get started on a new book. Naturally, this leads me to think about picking up a book or two I've been wanting to read for awhile. Here are a few I'm planning to pick up this year:
Even if I don't end up with time to read them all now, I'll be well stocked for the beginning of 2013. How about you? Has anything caught your eye that you plan to read over the holidays?

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December 19, 2012

Obstacles to Atheist Activism: Myopia


You can find the introduction to this series here.

Myopia refers to nearsightedness, but I am using it as sort of a metaphorical nearsightedness here. One important obstacle to atheist activism is our unwillingness to look beyond our own personal experience. This can be a problem in many other areas, but I am focusing here on atheist activism.

So how exactly does our difficulty in looking past our personal experience adversely affect atheist activism? I have written previously about how this has interfered with our ability to build a sense of community among atheists and has resulted in us attacking ideas with which we do not immediately agree.
One of the ways each of us can help the atheist community is by asking ourselves a question whenever someone brings up an idea that we don't immediately love: Do I really think that is a bad idea, or is it just that I personally wouldn't have any interest in doing that?

The Atheist Census Needs You

Atheist census logoAtheist Alliance International brings us the atheist census, a project designed to collect some basic demographic data on atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other non-religious individuals around the world with Internet access. Aggregate data are available but will only be useful if many more people complete the census.

If you have not already done so, you can be counted here. It took me no more than one minute.

Once you have completed the census, please join me in helping to spread the word to others.

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December 18, 2012

President Obama Continues to Alienate Atheists

President ObamaAfter he insisted on quoting the Christian bible at the end of one address, President Obama laid the religion on even thicker in his speech from Newtown, Connecticut. In doing so, he again managed to alienate those of us who do not believe in gods and those of us who, regardless of our religious beliefs, are not interested in hearing about his. At times like these, we need a leader - not a pastor-in-chief.

John (Reason Being) asks whether every single one of the victims, victims' families, and first responders were religious. If not, why did President Obama insist on all the Christianspeak? Did it never occur to him how this might be perceived by those who do not share his particular superstitions? John explains precisely why atheists should find the President's speech offensive:
It cuts to the center of so many of the discriminating comments that us atheists face—those regarding morality and the purpose of life. It leads people to derisively ask atheists “how can we be good without god?” and “without god, what is the purpose of life?” These questions are a source of great pain for many atheists who are discriminated against.

December 17, 2012

Extreme Weather and End Times Prophecy


According to CNN, the results of a poll released last week show that more than a third of those surveyed believe that the extreme weather we have seen in the U.S. this year is evidence that we are approaching the "end times" described in the Christian bible. The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that most respondents (59%) attribute severe weather to climate change. But as CNN reported, just over a third (36%) are convinced that it is evidence of some sort of biblical prophecy.

I wonder how many of these same people have laughed at those who claim that the end of the world is happening this month in accordance with the Mayan calendar? My guess is that several have done so without realizing that what the Mayans believed is no more ridiculous than what they believe.

It is tempting to point to the 36% who link our weather to supernatural factors, call them morons, and move on. Unfortunately, widespread belief in "end times" theology is detrimental to us all. How can we reasonably expect someone who thinks that the end of the world is rapidly approaching to be future-oriented? We can't. And how can we expect such people to have our interests and the interests of future generations in mind? We can't.

One Month in Religion

This video shows just some of the ways in which religion contributed to the world from November to December 2012. It was brought to my attention by the author, and he says he's considering making it the first in an ongoing series to document the harm religion is causing. I think this is an excellent idea, and I hope he gets enough interest to go forward with the series.

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December 16, 2012

In Wake of Tragedy, Believers Seeking Gods

DSeek Godan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, co-editors of CNN's Belief Blog, wrote an aptly titled post yesterday about the mass murder in Connecticut: Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where's God?' It makes perfect sense to me that religious believers would ask this question following such a tragedy. And even though I arrive at a very different answer than many of them will, I think it is an appropriate question to ask.

Gilgoff and Marrapodi note,
From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.

Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.

December 15, 2012

The Christian Extremist Version of the Tragedy in Connecticut

When you prevent public school employees from reading Christian prayers over the PA system each day to our children, many of whom are not Christian, you invite mass murder. At least, this seems to be the argument a few Christian extremists are making in the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut. Here is the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer explaining how it works:

December 14, 2012

Michael Shermer is Latest to Be Demonized

Michael ShermerMichael Shermer is a prominent atheist and skeptic who has done as much as anyone to make the modern skeptic movement what it is today. A former fundamentalist Christian, Shermer outgrew his faith during graduate school. He founded the Skeptics Society, serves as Editor and Chief of Skeptic, writes a column in Scientific American, and co-hosted a television series called Exploring the Unknown.

Here are a few of the books written by Shermer currently sitting on my bookshelf (or in my Kindle):
You can tell by their titles that they are likely to be of interest to atheists who are interested in science and skepticism. Shermer has a knack for explaining difficult material so the lay reader can grasp it. His books are easy to recommend. In short, Shermer has earned a fair amount of credibility in the atheist and skeptic communities.

December 13, 2012

Atheism and Nonconformity

Nonconformist jpgAre atheists living in the U.S., where atheism entails a certain willingness to go against the grain, any more likely to be nonconformist in other aspects of their lives than Christians? I find this an intriguing question. While it makes sense to me that this would be the case and while my limited personal experience lends support, I do not have any empirical basis for suggesting that such a claim is likely to be true. What do you think - are atheists more likely than Christians to be nonconformist in other areas of their lives?

I will admit that I am interested in this question for reasons other than pure intellectual curiosity. I been in a few situations where I have listened to atheist youth discuss their experiences with discrimination and bigotry at the hands of the Christian majority. And while I have every reason to believe that many atheists do indeed face this because of their atheism, there have been times - not many but a few - where I have wanted to ask a different sort of question.
Is it possible that at least some of what you have faced is as due to your tattoos, piercings, unusual attire, and blue hair as it is to your atheism?

December 12, 2012

Political Correctness: Shielding Religious Belief From Criticism

Political correctness

Back in 2005, I wrote a three-part series on political correctness and religion. I started by taking a look at how political correctness (PC) is usually defined, how it flourished in academia, and how it initially marginalized social conservatives. I noted how the PC movement would come to include religious belief as a component of culture, greatly restricting the degree to which it was permissible to criticize religious beliefs. I then considered some of the implications of this inclusion, suggesting that shielding religious belief from criticism was detrimental to our progress.

This theme - that the inclusion of religious belief as a matter of culture and the resulting opposition to criticism of religious belief by the PC movement has been disadvantageous - is one to which I have returned many times. For example, I have written about how atheists are often marginalized by the political left because we are generally not content to withhold criticism of religion. I have also repeatedly pointed out the vast difference between "I'm offended" and "That is offensive," noting that one of the real dangers of PC is the manner in which it can stifle valid and necessary criticism.

December 11, 2012

The Condescending Nature of Proselytizing

VCU Proselytizing
VCU Proselytizing (Photo credit: Gamma Man)
When it comes to things that annoy atheists, at least those that annoy this atheist, religious proselytizing ranks toward the top. And yet, I've had a difficult time putting my finger on exactly what it is about proselytizing that I find so annoying. I do not like anybody knocking on my door in the first place, but opening the door to find someone selling something is not quite as bad as finding someone who wants to rot my mind.

I've generally thought that the reason I'm so annoyed by religious proselytizing is that it amounts to peddling delusion, but another atheist blogger has helped me realize that there is a bit more to it than that.

Here's how Rick Levy (Towards a Rational America and an Enlightened Judaism) opened a recent post:
One of the objectionable customs of many religions especially most theistic ones is proselytization. I consider this practice rude and condescending because of its implication that the adherent's beliefs are superior to those of other people's and thus they need to be saved from the error of their ways.
Yes! I am not sure why I did not see it earlier. It is precisely the condescending nature of proselytizing that I find so objectionable. As Levy says, it carries the not so subtle implication that the beliefs of the proselytizer are superior to those of everyone else. I think this goes a long way of explaining why I react the way I do.

December 10, 2012

Gift Ideas For Atheists

gift ideas
This post was initially written in 2008 and was updated for the 2012 holiday season. You can find a new (2014) version here.

Looking for a Christmas gift for that atheist on your list? Yes, many atheists do in fact celebrate Christmas. If you have such an atheist on your Christmas list and want to get them something that has to do with atheism in order to show your support, I have some suggestions for you. Best of all, since none of my gift ideas are in any way Christmas-specific, they would be appropriate for birthdays or other occasions too.

Before offering some atheist-oriented recommendations, a quick disclaimer is needed. We atheists are just like everyone else except that we do not believe in any gods. If you are a religious person, you probably don't believe in most of the gods that have been worshiped over human history either, so you can relate. The only difference is that we atheists place your god(s) in the same category as all the others which you do not believe either.

Shunning and Boycotting Fellow Atheists

boycottI've read Ron Lindsay's post on atheists shunning and boycotting other atheists again since posting a brief mention of it, and I want to come back to some questions it raised from a somewhat different angle now. I am happy to see that it has already generated quite a bit of discussion, as I think that is potentially quite useful.

Shunning and Boycotting

Lindsay defined both shunning and boycotting in the context in which he discussed them, so I will use his definitions even though I find his view of boycotting a bit different from how the term is usually used. He defined shunning as:

…deliberately avoiding association with an individual, even when the association is as attenuated as attending an event or conference where the shunned individual is speaking.
He defined boycotting as:
…deliberately avoiding association with anyone or any entity (such as an organization that sponsors an event) which does not support one’s shunning.
I am going to set aside Lindsay's argument that the organization he represents, the Center for Inquiry, should not acquiesce to requests to bar particular speakers. That can be debated another time. Instead, I'd like to examine the question of whether it is ever appropriate for atheists to shun or boycott other atheists. Admittedly, this is a question which Lindsay does not directly address apart from his organization. However, I have seen a few other blog posts addressing this broader question, and so I'd like to give my opinion.

December 9, 2012

Responding to Christian Email

After I joined several other atheist bloggers in encouraging people not to buy holiday trees from the Boy Scouts this year, I noticed several of these bloggers talking about how their posts on this subject brought out some interesting responses from proponents of the Scouts. I did not receive any emails like this, but I did get one that I thought was going to be similar and then turned out to be something else entirely. I'd like to share it and offer my response because it raised some good questions.

The author of this one identified himself as an Eagle Scout and "part of the Catholic Church." This was what led me to believe that he was going to defend either of these institutions. He did not. Here is his email (unedited except for the removal of his name and the paragraph breaks I've inserted for the purpose of addressing specific questions) and my response:
I'm __________ Eagle Scout and part of the Catholic Church. Now I understand that in our great country we have the right to believe in what ever we want with the understanding of not getting Judge. I honestly don't give to shits that you are a atheist and I respect you for having your on thoughts. What i do like to know is are you doing this for the right reasons.

December 8, 2012

Holy Hyperbole, Squidman!

hyperboleWhen Ministry Best Practices referred to people who dare to leave their church as excrement, atheists noticed. From the perspective of these Christians, someone who does not agree with their particular doctrine should leave. Fair enough. I mean, it is not like they are going to change their doctrine and become more reasonable.

Still, the comparison to excrement may have struck me as being a bit over the top at one point in time. But that point would have been sometime before I read PZ Myers' (Pharyngula) comparison of atheists who disagree with him on the Internet to mass murderer Marc Lépine.

After quoting a news article about Lépine, PZ wrote:
I remember following the events of that day intently, horrified that there are people who will kill women simply because they are women. And these anonymous monsters on the internet who shriek affrontedly about women and feminists and moan that any feminist allies are ‘manginas’ — to me, every one of them has the name Marc Lépine, and is just hiding it in shame and fear and hatred and cowardice.
Right. Because calling PZ a "mangina" or expressing opposition to what passes for feminism in some corners of the atheist community today is an awful lot like murdering 14 people and injuring 14 others with a rifle.

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Skip the Salvation Army

Salvation ArmyI was driving home from work yesterday, and I had the windows in my car about half-way down. It has been way too warm for this time of year, and I believe yesterday's daytime high was approximately 75 degrees F. I had the radio tuned to NPR, as I often do. As I stopped at a stoplight, I could clearly hear the unmistakable sound of a hand bell being rung. I was surprised by how loud it was, and I looked around to see where it was coming from. To my surprise, the Salvation Army bell ringer was standing in front of a drug store that had to be at least 300-400 yards from my position. That I could hear it at all with my poor hearing, engine running, surrounded by traffic, and radio on still surprises me. But there it was.

December 7, 2012

I Get Email…For Someone Else

Cartoon sunI am used to getting quite a bit of email from misguided Christians, most of whom either want to threaten me with hell or attempt to convince me of the "no true Christian" fallacy (i.e., we're sorry you've had bad experiences with Christians, but they weren't real Christians). If you are active in the online atheist community, you've probably seen these as well.

I received a different sort of email recently. Evidently, this Christian is under the impression that I am Brian Flemming, director of The God Who Wasn't There. I have seen this film, and I enjoyed it very much. But I am not Brian Flemming and have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Flemming. My best guess is that this particular Christian saw an ad for the film on Atheist Revolution and decided I must be the director.

December 6, 2012

Democrats Don't Go to Heaven

Here we have a story about a teacher in Kentucky informing her class that one cannot be a Democrat and go to heaven. Technically, she's right. Nobody can go to imaginary places because they don't exist. Still, this seems like highly inappropriate behavior for a teacher. The student's mother thought so too and has filed a complaint with the state board.

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December 5, 2012

Credibility and Popularity in the Atheist Community

argumentum ad populum

I started taking a look at the subject of credibility in the atheist community recently, and I'd like to continue that topic here by considering the relationship between credibility and popularity. A few readers commented, correctly I believe, that my last post presented an unrealistic and overly idealized view of credibility in our niche. I was writing about earned credibility without making this sufficiently clear.

Credibility, Popularity, and Logic

What started me thinking about credibility and popularity was a recent post at another blog. In discussing some of the more common logical fallacies, Reason Being described one of my least favorite, argumentum ad populum, as follows:
Argumentum ad Populum—this is the fallacy that states something must be true because most people believe it to be true. It is absurd and a common tactic by U.S. Christians on Twitter.
I suspect every atheist living in a heavily religious country recognizes this one and has had considerably experiencing being on the receiving end of it. Just think of how many times you have heard the various counters. We typically take the position that we would rather pursue truth than popularity. We are not going to go along with something false just because many people believe it.

December 4, 2012

All of You are Blinded By a Demonic Spirit

demonicComments left on this blog that are 100% Christianspeak do not typically last long because they violate the comment policy. They are likely to be flagged as spam and end up in my moderation queue, where they will eventually be deleted. But once in awhile, one of them is so good that I feel it should be shared with the widest possible audience. In such cases, simply allowing the comment to go through is not good enough. These rare comments demand to be turned into posts so they can be appreciated by all readers.

Here is the latest example of a comment that deserves to be seen, reproduced in its entirety without edits:
When Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there, he was interrupted by Jesus who said to him "Saul Saul, why are you persecuting me. After that encounter Paul's life was changed forever and he no longer was a persecutor of the brethren of Christ but a follower and a determined one. I think that people are atheist because people don't want change. God changes that sinful nature and makes you serve him. Paul explained in the 1st book of Timothy that it is God's desire that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. But you have free will to choose your destiny. But with that being said the bottom line is this. We all have a right to choose, but simply because you don't believe in God does not change the scientific and natural fact that God does exist. Again JUST BECAUSE YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT THAT HE IS WHO HE SAY'S HE IS. IT JUST MAKES YOU A LIAR.

The bible clearly states that one day EVERY KNEE WILL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, now whether or not you believe that is also without relevance that too will indeed in fact happen. My joy is that God loves you with all His heart in spite of the fact that right now all of you are blinded by a Demonic Spirit that has blinded you to the truth. The bible say's even the demon know and tremble at the name of Jesus.

With the Love and God

Based on the liberal use of all caps and the outrageous claims, I was reminded of an email I shared here last month about how we are costing people eternal life. The email addresses were different, but I realize that does not necessarily rule out a common author.

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