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Does your family know that you are an atheist?

Some of them do, and the rest probably have their suspicions. The subject doesn’t come up that often between myself and two of my siblings, but the other one – my oldest sister – knows about my atheism for certain, and we frequently talk about it. For the record, almost all of my relatives are Christians of one sort or another.

I have mentioned this in an earlier post, but it applies here as well, so I’ll repeat it – When my mother was alive, I was much more secretive about my atheism. She was a devoted Catholic, and was very concerned about the fate of both our souls if I did not follow the Catholic way. In the interest of making the latter years of her life as calm and peaceful as possible, I never told her about my lack of faith, and I was as evasive and deceptive as I could be when the issue came up.

Yep, I lied to my dying mother to make her final days more comfortable. Just another example of vile atheistic depravity.

I recognize how fortunate I am in that I have no worries about my lack of belief becoming a problem for my relationship with my family. The same cannot be said for many people who are atheists, unfortunately. Many atheist teens have been kicked out of their homes by believing parents, and in extreme cases, people have been disowned by their families because they don’t share their belief.

While this is certainly not the case for every believing family with nonbelieving members, it is a sad reality for many.


I have a new blog!

I’ve created a new blog in response to a very short-sighted comment that was made on a popular horror/drama TV show.

It’s called A Field Guide to Atheist Parasites, and you can have a look right here.

Check it out, and let me know what you think!


How did you spend your Saturday? (09/11/10)

Sundown Friday to sundown Saturday is the Jewish sabbath, and I’m afraid to say that I broke it quite a bit.  Last night, my partner A. and I watched Religilous, Bill Maher’s documentary on religious beliefs and how ridiculous they can be. To do so, I needed to turn on both a television and a DVD player, both of which are forbidden during the sabbath.

The movie was pretty good, but I kept wishing Maher would have asked some tougher questions.

Today, the family and I went to an outdoor festival in a nearby town, met with a lot of our theatre friends, and talked about painting some more sets, and bringing my kids to an upcoming audition for the Christmas show.

The sun has set now, which means no more sabbath, and all of the keystrokes I’m making right now are completely kosher.

You make have noticed that the blog has been lacking updates lately. That’s because I’m out of questions! I’ve covered so much in the last year and a half since I started this blog – even with my frequent absences – that I can’t really think of any other questions that believers have asked about nonbelievers.

But I’m certain there are more things to discuss. If you have any suggestions, please post them in comments, and I’ll answer them in future posts! Thanks!


How are you spending your Sunday? (09/05/10)

(Atheists have Sundays too, we just tend to sleep in. Almost every Sunday, I post about how I plan to spend – or just spent – my day.)

I’m writing this entry on a laptop that a friend donated to my oldest daughter, who just started high school last week.  It’s a gorgeous day outside, so I’m on the back porch now, taking advantage of the fresh air while I’m installing programs and setting passwords and such.

Thankfully Hurricane Earl, which was threatening to tear up the East Coast, left us with clear skies, cool breezes, and lower temperatures instead. Which means that I can finally get back to cutting the grass. That should make the neighbors happy.  A bit later this afternoon, the kids and I will head to the theatre for rehearsal of the new children’s play that we have parts in. Tonight, I have some work to do on a huge bag of peaches that we bought from the local orchard – some of them have started to get a bit soft, and I want to cut them up and freeze them for potential pies.

I was thinking about these Sunday posts the other day, and how they may come off as a little discriminatory. Not everyone celebrates Sunday as a holy day. All Jews and some Christians recognize Saturday (or sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) as their sabbath day, while for Muslims it’s Friday.

While I offer equal time in not recognizing either of these days as holy, I haven’t really been representing this in the blog. To correct this, I may start doing so from time to time.

So, don’t be surprised if you start seeing “How are you spending your Friday/Saturday?” posts in the future.


What is your opinion of “Burn the Koran” day?

For those who are not aware, Terry Jones, a Florida pastor and author of the book “Islam is of the Devil,” has declared September 11th to be International Burn a Koran day, and claims to have been inspired by another recently created “awareness holiday,” Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. (WARNING: Linked page contains images of the prophet Mohammed!)

Someone asked for my take on this recently, and I thought it would be an appropriate topic of discussion for this blog.

First, I’m always skeptical of any kind of bold public statement made by someone who has a book out. It almost always seems like shameless self-promotion to me. I don’t want to leave out the possibility that this is all just an effort to move a product, and nothing more.

That said, there are two different issues that I feel need to be discussed here – burning the Koran (or any book) and drawing Mohammed (or anything else).

First, burning books: I’m against it. I don’t care if it’s the Koran, the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, Going Rogue, or The Origin of Species; burning books is one of the greatest acts of fearful ignorance that I can imagine. It is a throwback from a more primitive time, when anything that made the villagers nervous had to be destroyed with fire – and that occasionally included other villagers.

We are smarter than that now. We really shouldn’t be burning books anymore, and those who still have those urges should be embarrassed over them, not displaying them proudly. It makes us look stupid when we do it, and I really wish people wouldn’t participate in it.

But, it is free speech. And because it is, I support anyone’s right to do it.

Now for the second bit – the one about drawing Mohammed, and how such activity could inspire something like Burn a Koran Day. Since I am an artist, you can probably guess where I’m going to go with this one.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was inspired by the reaction to depictions of Mohammed on an episode of South Park and in political comics in newspapers and magazines. Devout Muslims have issued death threats against artists for drawing their prophet – an act forbidden by certain Islamic texts (but not the Koran).

As I have said in previous posts here, I support anyone’s freedom to believe as they wish, and follow any rules that those beliefs may include, as long as those rules do not involve harming others.

But you don’t get to try to force me to follow those rules, too. I can make all of the graven images I like (and I do, daily) because your religious rules do not apply to me.

It is an act of independence, not of ignorance.  An act of creation, not destruction. That’s the difference.

So, to recap: Burning books is stupid and shameful, but in the end, I support it as free speech. Drawing Mohammed is an act of independence from rules that should not be enforced against nonbelievers, and is nothing at all like burning books.

(Now that I’ve written all of this out, I have been thinking that this September 11th, the greatest act of independence from both Dove Ministries and Islamic fundamentalism that I could do would be to read some of the Koran along with some skeptical analysis of it, at the Skeptic’s Annotated Quran.)


How are you spending your Sunday? (08/29/10)

(Atheists have Sundays too, we just tend to sleep in. Almost every Sunday, I post about how I plan to spend – or just spent – my day.)

My daughters and I have landed parts in the next children’s play at the theatre where we volunteer, and the first read-through of the script is later this afternoon.

While we’re there, we plan to meet up with a theatre friend of ours that we haven’t seen in a while, and have a few adventures today. Maybe we’ll go to the beach or the park and goof around for a while.


How do you feel about the controversy over the mosque at Ground Zero?

For those who may not know about the story: There is a big controversy brewing in the United States right now regarding the possibility of a mosque being built on the former site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed by terrorists on September 11th, 2001. Some have suggested that since the terrorists were Islamic, this act could be seen as a sort of religious “conquest.”

As it turns out, this is yet another case of the American public having an incorrect view of reality, which has been aided by a news media that isn’t very interested in setting the facts straight (after all, rationality doesn’t sell as much cat food and laundry detergent as outrage does).

Here are some facts on this issue:

1. The “Ground Zero Mosque” isn’t slated to be built at Ground Zero (or, the former site of the World Trade Center). It is two blocks away.

2. The “Ground Zero Mosque” isn’t a stand-alone building, nor is it even a mosque. It will be a prayer room contained in a community center.

3. There is already a mosque built closer to the WTC that no one seems to have any sort of issue with whatsoever.

Now, for my opinion. I’m not comfortable with the government deciding which religions can build  holy sites and which cannot. That act goes against our Constitution. If they were to decide that no religious buildings were permitted at all, then that would be as reasonable as permitting any of them. So if there’s going to be a ban, then they must ban everything – mosques, churches, synagogues, temples, you name it.

A few folks who are much smarter than myself have made some excellent points on this issue. In the New York Times, Dick Cavett had the following to say:

“What other churches might be objectionable because of the horrific acts of some of its members? Maybe we shouldn’t have Christian churches in the South wherever the Ku Klux Klan operated because years ago proclaimed white Christians lynched blacks. How close to Hickam Field, at Pearl Harbor, should a Shinto shrine be allowed? I wonder how many of our young people — notorious, we are told, for their ignorance of American history — would be surprised that Japanese-Americans had lives and livelihoods destroyed when they were rounded up during World War II? Should all World War II service memorials, therefore, be moved away from the sites of these internment camps? Where does one draw the line?”

The only point I would add to Mr. Cavett’s comment is this: The Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by Christian terrorists. Are there churches near that site? If so, we should tear them down before we start restricting mosques at Ground Zero.

I am an atheist, a person who does not believe in the existence of any gods.

Many people don't know a lot about atheists, and have questions about them. In this blog, I do my best to answer them, to help build an understanding between atheists and theists.

Do you have a question? You can post it in the comments to any of my blog entries, and I will do my best to answer it in a new entry.