I've Moved!

Atheist Morality is now West Coast Atheist at Wordpress. Stop on by and feel free to comment over there!

18 August, 2011


I really like that non-believers are getting out there and able to say, "Hey, we're here and we're not immoral, evil, baby-eating freaks, we just need to see some more evidence before we jump on your band wagon and start praising Jesus or Allah or whomever!" It's even nice to see the various atheist/humanist groups not get along on things because dissension and discussion is so important to growth, learning, knowledge, wisdom, humanity itself. That being said, I am a human with my own opinions and have every right to state such opinions on my own blog whether I think anyone will care to read them or not. So here goes.

I don't really care if a cross-beam from the World Trade Center gets put in a museum. I find myself objecting to a lot of the lawsuits that American Atheists bring out, carrying the flag of the ACLU. I love the ACLU and appreciate that American Atheists can be credited with getting the word out that closet atheists or skeptics aren't alone, but there are more important things to be fighting against.

A bunch of people in a country made up mostly of Christians found comfort in a cross at the World Trade Center after a horrific, terrifying and tragic event. Regardless of the fact that "it's a religious symbol," it's there. It's part of that day, it's part of that history. Bring to the museum some things that people from other religions (or non-religions) found comfort in and have a multitude of symbols that everyone can look at and say, "Wow, different people find comfort in different things." That, to me, is win-win. This lawsuit just isn't worth it when you have places like Texas that want to pull Thomas Jefferson out of their textbooks and put in John Calvin in his place as a Founding Father. It's nothing but a distraction from the fact that women in some states are being forced by law to carry zygotes in their bodies because that state has determined that it can decide and legislate moral and philosophical questions about the origin of life based on a book written by superstitious desert nomads from the Middle East.

Humanism, secularism and atheism should be concentrating on these glaring issues facing us today, not possibly setting a legal precedent by losing cases like the WTC museum lawsuit. It's irritating to think that real church/state separation issues are getting less spotlight than the bickering of street names ("Seven in Heaven") and cross-beams. If secularism is going to be a movement, they should start by picking their priorities.

10 August, 2011

Empowering Women

It's interesting to me how Christians have tried to co-opt feminism and rebrand it as women taking on the old, submission roles and loving it no matter what, damnit. Womens' jobs are still housework and child-rearing while men are reminded how they are the stronger sex, the leaders, the head of the household and need to be responsible with this awesome power and use it to support their meek little wives.

Kirk Cameron's Marriage Strengthening Event was infiltrated by Annie Thomas writing for Friendly Atheist. Was there anything useful at all to marriages? Apparently, not. It's the same old, "submit to your husband," stuff that they've been spouting for hundreds of years, but it's now dressed up as "empowerment" through subservience.
Whenever he referred to how hard a woman worked during the day, it was always in reference to her cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children — never to a woman’s professional life.
Would you expect anything less? Now that I myself am married, I can look forward to...giving up the career I found that I love, stop going to school and just clean up after my husband? And since his employment in academia means he gets the whole summer off, we can just both do nothing until I start squirting out children and hope the tax break will pay our rent. God will drop us an extra welfare check or something, right?

So there you have it folks, feminism in the twenty-first century! Stay weak, stay at home, stay married no matter what. God says so.

03 August, 2011

The Problem with the Space Shuttle

With all the talk of how unamerican it is that the US doesn't have it's own way to space anymore, it's easy to get indignant with national pride and start wanting to blame someone. The public is upset at NASA, Congress, and whoever else they want to blame for the end of the Space Shuttle program, but in a way, they have themselves to blame. Not only did the public not have enough interest in space travel to write their congress people or vote for politicians that would have funded not only the Space Shuttle program, but also the programs that were supposed to eventually replace the Space Shuttles, but this disinterest cause NASA to create a program that was ultimately a failure.

After the first moon landing, public interest rapidly waned. People had been so proud that we had gotten to the Moon before the Russians and yet had failed to be interested in what we found in subsequent missions. They weren't interested in the Moon itself, they were only interested in being able to say they had beat the Commies.

As public interest waned, a new generation of NASA engineers began formulating the next phase of space flight, a phase that was to only be a stepping stone between the Apollo rockets and a new era of space vehicles that would have taken us to the Moon again as colonists perhaps, or even to Mars as explorers. The problem was that they were overzealous and worked on timelines with expectations that were beyond what they could reasonably do.

NASA, time and again, had to make decisions during missions that basically juggled with the lives of the astronauts that they had sent into space. Twice, they dropped the ball, the biggest cost being the 14 lives of the crews of Challenger and Columbia.

The Space Shuttles were designed and built to operate for about ten years. They flew for thirty. Some see that as a success, and can point to successful missions and projects such as Hubble and ISS as testimony to the grandeur of American progress and ingenuity, but statistically, the failure rate was two out of 135 in the tests that matter most. It's amazing that more of them didn't explode. The program was also supposed to save us millions and instead cost us almost two-hundred-billion dollars.

Now Americans are crying and whining about having to go up in space with Russians, and weep about their national pride and heritage in space. NASA is to blame, the government is to blame, but most of all our society is to blame, for not recognizing the sugar-coating and aggrandizement of a dangerous, outdated and extortionate shuttle fleet. Cry all you want, America, but you should be weeping that you didn't care enough to bring these failures into the light sooner or that you kept voting for people who refused to commit to taking the next step into space flight. Ultimately, it's your own fault.

29 July, 2011


So, I don't update this nearly enough (busy getting married and being newlywed and all that) but I'd just like to mention a couple of things that have been interesting me and to offer my own opinion about them.

Elevatorgate: Sexual harassment is never defined by the intention of the person doing the harassing, it's defined by how the victim perceives it. Line 1 of any employee handbook, really. Maybe you didn't know you were a creep, elevator dude, and maybe due to thousands of years of rape and violence at the hands of men, women are hyper-weary of late-night encounters in strange places with men when they are alone, but there's no need to jump down the throats of women who just want some respect. To the other side that wants to jump to Rebecca's defense and throw the word misogynist around and burn "The God Delusion," because RD got involved and isn't on your side: chill the fuck out, you're no better than those on the other side screaming "Prude! Victim!" Everyone just chill the fuck out. We are free-thinkers and skeptics, can we not have a civil discussion about these things?

Jessica Ahlquist and Damon Fowler: I couldn't be more proud of these two young activists. Keep up the good fight!

See? I'm totally behind, right? This stuff is old news, but like I said, I've been pretty busy.

Then there is this, which is actually some recent news and relevant to the topic of my blog!

***Update: It took me all of five seconds to find my own:

Fox News had Blair Scott of American Atheists on for an interview. Soon after, Fox's facebook page was inundated with "Good Christians" so fearful of the five percent of us that don't believe what they believe that they have to use threats to show those atheists a thing or two. Talk about morality. Fox was trying desperately to take down the inciting and downright violent postings as fast as they could, but some were screen captioned and are available for view.

It doesn't surprise me that people who hold onto such irrational beliefs would get so angry. The very fact that atheists exist is dangerous to their smoke-and-mirrors world. After all, if we don't find it satisfactory to answer the big questions with a simple, "God did it" then why should they? It surprises me more that they would go on facebook, use their real names, and actually write what they really want to do to atheists, allowing their fear and their hatred glare like a lighthouse. The best we can get out of this is that moderates will see that and be turned off by it, instead seeking more knowledge and information instead of dogma. That is, if they aren't disgusted by the digression of our sexism debate.

That's all for today.

24 July, 2011

A Christian Terrorist

When the bombing in Oslo happened, even I, who tries to keep an open mind and not make snap judgments on things, didn't even entertain the idea that it might not be an extremist Muslim that carried out the attack. I even wondered, "What the hell did Norway ever do to anyone? The French have the burqa ban and the US killed Bin Laden, why are they attacking Oslo?"

Cue foot in mouth when it turns out that the person responsible for the horrific attack was a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. In retrospect, that doesn't surprise me. We've all seen what Christian terrorists can do to abortion clinics and doctors, to churches who have more Black people than White people, to Gay people and to churches that lean more moderate. And that's just in the US. What does surprise me is that our media suddenly isn't calling it a terrorist attack. That would imply that the man was a terrorist, but since he was a Christian, they can't call him that. Only the dark-skinned people worshipping Allah get that title in the US.

So what happens when you call out the people that are redefining terrorism to fit their own little prejudices and bias? You get, "He wasn't really a Christian." What? How do you get to define a Christian all of a sudden? Merriam-Webster online has a good enough definition that has always worked:

a : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

b (1) : disciple 2 (2) : a member of one of the Churches of Christ separating from the Disciples of Christ in 1906 (3) : a member of the Christian denomination having part in the union of the United Church of Christ concluded in 1961

If you go to church and you call yourself a Christian and you believe in Jesus, you're a Christian. Once you start defining a Christian by how people act, you are doing nothing more than explaining why there are 30,000 denominations of Christianity. No one can agree on the doctrine or how people should act. You could take a narrow view and define Christians only as Young Earth Creationists. Or you could say those people are nuts and only Christians who accept Evolution as God's glory work are Christian. Anyway, it all gets very convoluted and pretty soon, no one can fit every standard, so no one would be able to be called Christian.

The Oslo bomber was a Christian Terrorist, just as are the people who bomb abortion clinics, burn Black churches, shoot abortion doctors, and terrorize Gay people. If you can't swallow that because you don't want to admit that you have some bad people in your fold, then you have to stop calling Al Qaeda a Muslim Terrorist Group. There are millions of Muslims that don't act on their religion like the terrorist cells and they would all insist and show passages of peace in their Quran to no avail. We would still call them Muslim Terrorists. I believe that all religions should be held to the same standard; it should be even across the board. Yes, Christians, even you can be terrorists. Get over it and do something about it.

10 July, 2011

Belief and Cognitive Dissonance

What does it take for a person to hold onto a belief without any evidence whatsoever and not be able to let it go despite hearing evidence that proves it to be false?

Some might think it takes a lot to clutch onto a fairy tale with the zealousness that some people show. We all make fun of Ray Comfort, who-no matter how many times the process of evolution is explained to him-will continue to repeat the phrase, "Well, I've never seen a monkey give birth to a human or a dog give birth to a cat," every time he's confronted.

Quite counter-intuitively, it actually doesn't take a whole lot. I'll explain.

My fish, Leo, a crown-tailed betta, got fin-rot. I was devastated. I gave him a new tank, new plants, bought new gravel and started testing his water all the time (which was actually fine, but I'll get to that later). Perusing betta websites all over the internet got me a lot of helpful information, a lot of contradictory information, and a lot of misinformation.

One such website listed a cause of fin-rot as the fish resting on the gravel at the bottom of his tank. No other website claimed this, but I was looking for an answer, something I could pinpoint to and say, "This is what caused it."

A few weeks later and it didn't seem to be getting better and the live plants didn't have enough light to stay alive and were murkying up the water. Back to square one. I went to a pet store and I started asking questions. The woman seemed very knowledgeable and helpful. When I mentioned the gravel thing, she looked at me funny and said, "I've never heard anything like that before." Apparently, the only place that I could find this information was on one website in the middle of the Internet.

Over the next two weeks, I got married, went on my honeymoon, gave Leo to Chris's mom to take care of and ended up getting him yet another tank because the other was just too big to keep clean. While doing all this, I kept mentioning to Chris, "He's on the bottom again, he needs to rest on his rock or the fake leaves," and he'd remind me that the woman that works with fish every day said that was probably a myth. It took a few times for me to realize what I was doing. I finally said, "I really want to believe that the gravel is the problem, don't I?" Every time I had seen my fish resting near the bottom, I completely forgot what the woman had told me at the pet store. The fact is, I wanted to believe it.

Even I fall prey to this type of fallacious, wishful thinking. Now that I recognize it, I can see it in more places as well. For example, I work in a field which requires people to be First Aid and CPR certified. I've worked at different facilities and at each one, there has been people who I have gone to CPR and First Aid class with and then immediately forget what we spent three hours learning. Someone will get a bloody nose or someone will swallow their food wrong and start gasping and coughing. While not usually life threatening, these things are still alarming and cause the adrenaline to kick in, which apparently isn't great for keeping a clear head and remembering your training.

It never fails that people start telling the person with the bloody nose to hold their head back instead of forward, because this is the way that people did it up until the eighties or nineties. I remember my own mom telling my sister to hold her head back when I was little. The First Aid training makes it very clear that you pinch the nose and hold the person's head forward so they don't aspirate on their own blood. People have died doing it the other way and I've even heard of people in management positions giving this very advice to their employees.

Same with the choking. If a person is gasping for breath and coughing and has clearly aspirated on food, you are supposed to do nothing. It is only when a person cannot speak, breath or cough that you do any sort of First Aid, and you do it in the form of abdominal thrust, not hitting them on the back or turning them over like Grandma used to do. You can do a quick finger sweep, but you run the risk of pushing whatever it is further down the windpipe. Despite learning this and taking a quiz on it at the end of training, people still automatically do it the way they were taught when they were little. If you asked them later, they wouldn't even remember that the training said any different, yet year after year, they take the same classes and the same test.

It's easier for the brain to remember things that it likes or that it's already agreed with in the past. In a way, it's safer because remembering the traditions and customs of your social group kept you from being outcast from the family or tribe that would keep the saber-toothed tigers from picking you off alone in a forest. These little beliefs stick and are sometimes harmless, but sometimes more than harmful.

It's the harmful ones we should really be looking out for, always vigilantly searching for evidence that would contradict our own beliefs. Even so, we are never safe and should talk to as many people with differing opinions as we can, gaining as much knowledge as we could hope for and being eager to shed it if it turns out to not have a solid foundation in reality. This is the only way we can keep our minds from falling into these kinds of ruts.

05 June, 2011

Stupid, Stupid Email Evangelism

Here is the format for every creationist “story” that floats around on the Internet: Characters: -Atheist authority figure in an institution feared and rejected by creationists, most often a school or university. -Humble yet steadfast Christian young person in a subordinate position, most often a student. Plot template: Atheist asks Christian if they believe in God. When Christian answers positively, atheist mentions some tragedy in their life that God didn’t save, even though this story has nothing to do with anything he’s going to say next. Must have tragic occurrence because becoming an atheist without a some anger at God just doesn’t make sense. Atheist asks Christian questions that are supposed to challenge the faith. The questions are usually leading and when the Christian answers positively, the atheist starts going the Christian shit in an “I told you so,” kind of way. Christian then humbly asks the teacher his own questions, usually having something to do with evolution meaning we came from monkeys or some other blatant misunderstanding if science. Despite this, the atheist answers positively to these questions and is now “stumped” when the Christian challenges these “teachings.” Insert random miracle or event that proves the atheist wrong, such as when the atheist teacher says God won’t stop a piece of chalk from falling and breaking on the ground and the chalk lands in his pant leg. You know the one. Conclusion: Bystanders are stunned. Christian begins converting and witnessing for the lord. Turns out the Christian/kid is George fucking Washington or some shit. The-fucking-end.

This post was inspired by a story that was floating around about a Christian student challenging a teacher about God. Student turns out to be Albert fucking Einstein. The German Jew who repeatedly clarified that believed in no gods. Facepalm.

30 April, 2011

Bending Over Backward

They should just rename their religion "BOB" because it is a constant "Bending Over Backward" that they must do in order to explain away the inconsistencies and atrocities of their Holy Book and history. William Lane Craig is explaining how our silly, "naturalistic" morality isn't sufficient to judge God for commanding children to be killed and trying to empathize with the Israeli soldiers who were commanded to do so.

This is just disgusting, no matter what your religious influence is, and PZ nails it on the head when he says,  "If I station myself outside a church door with an AK-47 and murder all the happy saved Christians exiting the service, I am doing the Lord's work." This type of twisted logic doesn't belong in a civil society, period. William Lane Craig should be ashamed of himself.

Well Said

This video here sums up the morality debate very well.

27 April, 2011

The Voice of God

No one can agree on everything in the Bible. It's why there are 30,000 different sects and denominations in Christianity, all claiming have the "correct" interpretation of the Holy Book. There are obviously things in there people today wouldn't agree with. The majority (I say majority, because who knows, maybe some do) of Christians aren't going to sell all of their possessions to join the church. They aren't going to stone Gay people to death. They don't sell their daughters into slavery. If someone today was telling them God commanded them to sacrifice their child on an alter, even the most fundamentalist Christians would call the police, and yet Abraham is revered for nearly killing his own son in the name of God.

So obviously some other morality is involved in Christian lives if it's so clear that they aren't getting all their values and ethical judgements from the Bible. How, then, do they know what is God and what is their own imaginings? I'm not going to take any "feeling" or "just knowing what's right" as an answer, because crazy-ass people who drown their children also had a "feeling" God was telling them it was "right." I also won't accept the "Well, if what you think God is telling you to do is abominable, it probably isn't God," because obviously, Abraham would have been 5150'd by those standards.

I'm asking for someone to draw out a definitive, clear standard for determining whether or not a voice, feeling, intuition-whatever- is actually from God and not an internal delusion. If you can do it without relying on the examples above, by all means. If not, what, then, is the difference between a secular morality  and conscience inspired solely by the divine?

24 April, 2011

Happy Easter Everyone!

Think you know well the story of the Lord? All day today, I plan on checking facebook as little as possible so I don't have to keep being reminded, "He is Risen!" Because we all know they've been waiting since 33AD for him to come back. (1 Thessolonians 4:15-17).

If you really think you know the story by heart, though, I welcome you to take this quiz! Test your knowledge! What really happened on that Monday? (Yes, Monday. How Christians still think that you get three days and three nights from Friday to Sunday beats the hell out of me). Go ahead! I dare you!

21 March, 2011

What Is An Atheist?

I got my first question in the comments section of my last post. The user asks, "What is an atheist?"

A simple dictionary reference is insufficient and often-times misleading. Many dictionaries name an atheist as "A person who doesn't believe God exists." That definition itself assumes that something called God exists and that there are people who don't believe in its existence. The definition is actually more simple than that. In fact, it should be the default position and not have a label at all. The reason that atheists are labelled as such at all and have come together to form a community is because theism has been the majority world view for the entirety of human history.

Think about all you know about the Christian God. (I'm directing this post to the Christian God but, these same points are valid with any deity). You first learned about God from church; people told you about God. You learned about his history and qualities by reading the Bible. Along the way, you've no doubt changed your perception of God if you are a person who has switched denominations at all. Some things one church tells you doesn't sit well with something you've already been told and so you either adapt or discard the new information. Nothing is constant, even among Christianity. There are over 3,000 different denominations and sects of Christianity and none of them agree on even the basics.

So to take a step back from what all these people have been saying about God and the nature of God, the atheist takes the position that whichever one is right has to prove that their position is true and correct. The first thing they have to do is prove that God exists at all. God is invisible, highly inconsistent at answering prayers and goes against the observations that scientists have made about the natural world. If something exists, it must be observable and measurable, because that is how we've determined everything in our world to be. "Extraordinary claims call for extraordinary evidence."

That God exists is the hypothesis, therefore, the null hypothesis is that God does not exist, the basis at which we start our investigation. There are many philosophical arguments that theists use for the existence of God, including but not limited to:

The Cosmological Argument

The Ontological Argument

The Teleological Argument

Evidence from Scripture

And many more, however, they fail to stand up to not only philosophical scrutiny, but the scientific method as well. Therefore, until God shows up, the atheist does not accept the claim "There is a God" as a true statement. Could there be a God? Of course. Anything is possible. Of course, if it were true, it would make our Creator out to be quite a faulty being, but that's a theological argument for another day.

So that's an atheist. A person who rejects a hypothesis. The thing is, we don't label people who don't believe in homeopathy ahomeopathists or people who don't believe in Nessie alocknessmonsterists. So really, an "atheism," "darwinism," etc, aren't really anything. The reason that atheists get together and form groups and speak out against religion, and even in the belief in God itself, is because religion is so good at undermining secularism, controlling politics and nations, and causing a lot of harm and wars along the way. The first 1500 years since Jesus supposedly lived is a great example.

Of course, I don't speak for all who don't believe. There are atheist religions, such as some sects of Buddhism. There are atheists who don't form groups or speak out. There are people who call themselves atheists because they are mad at their God without ever really looking at what they do or don't believe and why.

Is atheism a religion? No. Is atheism a movement? Perhaps. Is atheism bad? Not at all. Is atheism trying to make everyone believe the same? No, many don't care what you believe as long as you keep it out of our lives, our schools, and our laws.

I hope this answers your question. If you'd like to ask more, feel free.

20 March, 2011

Ask Anything

I'm thinking about changing this blog to a question-answer format for the people in my life that have questions about the road to non-belief, or about atheism itself as I see it. Obviously, I can't speak for all atheists. I don't actually know that many personally, though there are a lot on blogs and YouTube, so I can't say what everyone thinks about atheism, but there are common misconceptions that I might be able to clear up about atheism. I had someone confuse atheism with polytheism once and so I feel like there is a need to create a forum for people to ask what they want. Anyway, I'll let you all know how it goes.

15 March, 2011

Sobriety, 2

I've continued this entry from the previous blog post. It had originally been a single article, but turned out to be really, really long. The first part can be read here.

I was told that doubting God would just get me in trouble. I was told that if I didn't go to meetings every week, I would drink again. I was told to "stick with the winners," which were people who really acted outside of the program like nice people, which was sound advice, but the biggest "cliques" in AA were the groups of people, mostly young, between 3-7 years of sobriety who constantly talked about other members, and would go out of their way to exclude people who weren't cool like them. I was told that hanging out with people who drink would lead me down the abyss and back to where I had been when I was drinking. If I didn't end up drinking, I was doomed to become a "Dry Drunk," a person so miserable and angry because they couldn't drink but who didn't have the program to prop them up and make them happy again.

I've been sober eight years. I'm not miserable. I have as many problems as anyone would expect me to have, not really any more or less than I had when I was in recovery (actually, probably less because I don't have that bad, bad advice anymore or the "cool" crowd to try to keep up with). I've seen rants online by people who spent time in AA and are very, very angry. Perhaps they are "Dry Drunks," but I can only go off of the angry tone they use in their blogs. I didn't come away from AA with the feeling that I had been brainwashed by a cult for six years. I simply didn't believe in God anymore and so the paradigm didn't work for me anymore. I didn't have an AA message.

I was told that no one ever comes back to AA after leaving and says, "It's so great out there, you all should join me and give up this AA stuff." But then again, why would any happy person do such a thing? I won't go back because I have no need to. I'm thankful for the things I learned about living with other people. I learned how to see how my own behavior creates conflict in my life. I learned that I need to mean what I say and say what I mean. I learned that my word is my bond. I learned how to meditate and concentrate and use tools during emotional times so I don't have to drink. No one can say those are bad things.

To the atheists that are adamantly against AA, I can just say that AA is not where your fight against theism should be. Fight the courts who demand that people go get their "slip signed" at these meetings. Many AA's also don't like this idea that the courts send people their way as a get-out-of-jail free card. The Higher Power of AA is not one God Head with holy book and a defined set of charicteristics like Christianity. Each person decides for themselves what they believe and arguments between members about the nature of God are almost non-existent. Atheists, there are bigger fish to fry.

If atheists really want to help change the way alcoholics and addicts are given treatment, we need to become counselors or start sobriety groups of our own, based in science and reason. We won't convince anyone by telling them the place they finally found relief from addiction, if even just for a short while, is a cult.

To the AA's who look down their nose at atheism: read again the quote I included at the top of this blog entry.

To the AA's who may be doubting the existence of whatever Higher Power you've chosen and still don't understand: You are not alone. You won't get drunk just for asking yourself questions. Alcoholism is not as simple as what your religious beliefs entail. You can stay sober and find answers for yourself. I know because I did and I know there are more people out there. The fact is, you have as much chance of staying sober on your own as with a religious support group, statistically. If you want more information, a quick Google search for "secular recovery" will bring up more information, or you can go to LifeRing's website here.

Sobriety, 1 (Or perhaps, Came to Unbelieve Pt 3)

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation." (Incorrectly attributed to Herbert Spencer in Alcoholics Anonymous, aka: The Big Book of AA).

I've already explained some of the events or realizations in my life that attributed to the back-and-forth between belief and non-belief, culminating in my realization that I was, in fact, an atheist. They can be revisited here and here. This time, I want to talk specifically about Alcoholics Anonymous and my six years as an active member and my last two as a sober atheist.

First, it's all true what people say about AA. They do tell you that you are powerless without a supernatural being. They do recommend reliance on the group and building a social network of like-minded sober people (the latter of which is excellent and I have no qualms with). Yes, they do tell new members that they have character flaws that cause them to drink and that doing the steps will allow them to stop altogether. They have books that they recommend reading, repeated slogans and catchphrases. They are often found in church buildings.

Whether anyone has a problem with what they do is up to them. To me, being in it, working the steps, having that support group-all of it, was the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, I could have had the same thing without belief in a Higher Power. I realized later that believing helped salve the pain of my addiction while I worked through those character flaws I mentioned. I have no shame or guilt in regards to my time with AA, no regrets. In doing the steps I learned how to be a better person. I learned how to talk about my feelings, to be friends with people, to show up and be responsible. I learned to volunteer for a cause greater than my own selfish ends. I learned how to not run to alcohol or drugs when I was having problems. I make no excuses for my time there; I was addicted to alcohol and drugs and I have still been clean and sober since February 3, 2003.

That being said, I am still aware that I didn't need a Higher Power. There are secular recovery groups, but none are as widespread or well-known as AA. I wouldn't suggest an atheist who was having trouble with drugs or alcohol go to AA. In fact, I would point them to a group like LifeRing, which operates with the support group/commitment to abstinence principles of AA without steps or God, and suggest finding professional support for emotional issues.

My first experience with "God" in AA was a list of characteristics on a piece of paper that I would attribute to a Higher Power. It was God by design, basically, and I could discard the angry, jealous figure that had hung over my head during my upbringing as a Christian. I've found that many, many AA members have this same view of their own Higher Power and that even recovering Christians tend to discard the dogmatic, concretized God of their own Bible; they are the most open-minded theists I know.

There were many coincidences that led me to believe that God was "working in my life." I was hired by Starbuck's in August of 2003 and the next year I got a 200 dollar bonus for all baristas hired from that August on as a thank you for the great year Starbuck's had. It was enough to cover the rent that my live-in boyfriend had squandered going out to eat and movies with his AA sponsor. There was a time I was driving on the freeway and noticed two cars on the side of the road and glass and taillight plastic all over the road. The accident had been about five minutes ahead of me and I thought, "God kept my at my house looking for my keys longer so I wouldn't be in that accident." (Today, I realize that with a three-lane freeway in a pretty rural area at a time of the evening when there weren't very many cars on the road, the accident would have been pretty easy to avoid and, if by chance, I had been involved, I wouldn't have blamed God for making me on time for it). All it was was coincidences, though. I never got a "burning bush," (some members did have such strong religious experiences, but I can't base my own faith on someone else's word).

There were, however, problems. I was told that "In AA, families stay together because alcohol had been so good at ripping them apart," which contributed to my staying in a two-and-a-half year long abusive relationship with said live-in boyfriend who spent our rent on hanging out with the guys. I should have known better, as one of the people telling me this bad advice had been indicted for felony embezzlement the previous year. After I finally escaped from the relationship, my ex's sister, who worked for a rehab as a counselor, threatened my life while I was at work because her brother had threatened suicide if I left him.

Update: After posting this, I decided to make it into a two-part entry because of it's length. This is continued on the next blog here.

11 March, 2011


A quick Google search brings up plenty of ways to help the people in Japan that doesn't include "prayers and thoughts," for you atheists out there that want to do more.

The Red Cross is a large, trusted (and of course, secular) organization that sends relief around the world. You can visit their website here or text "REDCROSS" to "90999" to send $10.

Charity Navigator put out their list today. A few listed are faith-based, so do your research.

Facebook also has a page. Again, I recommend visiting websites to ensure that your money is going to actual aid and not to set up prayer groups or hand out holy books.

09 March, 2011


Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta posted the other day about cohabitation, or as some people know it, shacking up. An article in the Christian Relevent was providing a lot of information about relationships where people live together before marriage. It was saying things like, "Although an expanding body of evidence shows that “shacking up” damages individuals, relationships and communities, acceptance of cohabitation is growing, even among young Christians." Rob McNiff, the author, also says things like, "As it turns out, cohabitation actually weakens relationships and promotes divorce. Cohabitors break up at a rate much higher (up to five times higher) than married couples," and, "Research also shows that..." but doesn't provide any sources for any of these claims or "research."

Hemant cites his own sources and provides links to the National Center for Health Statistics that show that there's really no difference at all between living with someone before or after marriage. As you would guess with any article that pins one reason for the success or failure of marriages in the US today, the issue is much more complex than that and probably completely unrelated to whatever any non-expert is willing to spout for his own political or religious means.

I wonder how many people actually read the article by McNiff and scrolled down to see if he cited any sources for his numbers and, seeing none, researched more or disregarded the post entirely versus the number of people who took it as word and started sharing it with all their friends and pointing their noses down at people who choose to live together without getting the piece of paper first. I'll bet the ratio doesn't look very good on the side of critical thinking.

27 February, 2011

Still Sick

I still can't talk normal. I've taken today to just relax and try to get better, but if my voice isn't back tomorrow, I don't know if I can go to work.

Chris bought me won-ton soup and a new case of water and we watched The Hound of the Baskervilles, with Basil Rathbone. For those of you not up to date on movies from the thirties, it's a Sherlock Holmes flick about a mysterious hound that haunts a family, cursing the males to a tragic death.

I just took Nyquil. I expect to start being loopy in about twenty minutes. That stuff knocks me on my ass. Before that happens and I start writing ridiculous ramblings on my blog, I'll go ahead and sign off for the night. Goodnight world.


Yesterday I posted this article to my facebook profile because I thought it was interesting. For those who don't want to read it, it's basically saying that the atheist position always offends religious people simply by being said.

In one paragraph:

"This simple declaration that I think someone is wrong about what is fundamentally a pretty abstract topic appears to offend large numbers of people for no particularly good reason. If I tell someone that I disagree with them about sports, politics, the death penalty, weather or any number of other topics, they might be annoyed, but disagreements about religion seem to cause offense at the drop of a hat."

The writer compares this reaction to our non-belief to instances where we state opinions about other things and notes that only our non-religious position gets people's panties all in a bundle. Simply stating our opinion is enough to incur wrath.

In the end of the article, the writer notes that the atheist position is based on what science has told us is true about the world and that theists who find that the science clashes with their 6,000 year old world shouldn't be mad at the science, they should be mad at whoever told them the earth was 6,000 years old and just get over it.

He could have made his point better than saying at the end, "In summary, if my position offends you, I wish that it didn’t but, well, suck it up, princess," but it's still a good point. If a Raiders fan can handle my pro-Niners stance, if a conservative friend can handle my Socialist, pinko-commie rantings, if my male friends can handle my over-excited posts about the latest hook-up on Glee, then theist should be able to handle the atheist position without calling themselves oppressed by our mere existence.

So what happens as soon as I post this article online? A couple religous people come onto my page telling me what I should and shouldn't post because it's offensive. The first person to comment only read the title of the article (Atheism is All About Upsetting People of Faith) before even commenting with, "so your just a atheist to piss of people who have faith?" (I left his original spelling intact). After asking if he had even read the article, he posted the first paragraph as "evidence" of it's offensiveness:

"When I proclaim myself to be an atheist, I am saying that all of the hundreds of proclamations that various religions make about the existence of gods are, in my opinion, not believable."

And then added something about the "Golden Rule" (as if he was following the Golden Rule by coming on my page to give me his what-for), and said, "It's also good to know Kate that you like 'upsetting' me and others of faith." As if simply stating my position was intentionally upsetting him and people of faith. Which was, if you'll remember the entire point of the article in the first place. There were other commenters, none so rude as this person who ended up removing me as their friend, but all as ignorant to their own hypocrisy in dealing with atheists. In one instance, atheism is "just another religion" and in another, it is a position to be exhorted against and derailed, which is something they would never do to another person's religion.

It's sad that people are so ignorant and can't "suck it up, princess," but this ignorance at the cost of a friend? That's a tragedy. However, I did tell this person in a private message: "Anyone that would remove me as a friend for stating my own religious non-belief was never my friend in the first place. And I'd NEVER remove someone for joining any religion they want. Take the post however you want, but you did exactly what it predicts theists do: become offended simply for saying, "I don't believe in god and here's why."

I still haven't heard back from this person, and I don't expect to. Still, the entire situation is sad.

26 February, 2011

Atheist VS Theist

Theist: I believe in God

Atheist: I don't. There's no scientific evidence to support it and I think that the scientific method is the best way to find an accurate model of the universe.

Theist: How dare you shove your atheist religion down my throat!!