Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Prayer

Great post Erica! It was getting lonely around here.

So in another passive aggressive move (see this for background if you care) my mom got me to say grace at the dinner table tonight. I was put on the spot, especially since my grandmother was there. I thought about it for half a minute and then said something like this:
We pray and we hope to the consciousness inside our heads that we have a better year coming up. We've started to see a bit of change this year, and we hope that things get better and that we see some real improvements in the world. Amen.

Not exactly eloquent, but I did manage to do a prayer without invoking anything explicitly supernatural, so I was proud of myself. I'm pretty sure I meant to say "conscience" rather than "consciousness" though, and it would have sounded a lot less new-agey if I had.

Merry Christmas Everyone! (I'm not being sarcastic, I actually do love Christmas)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Generic Season's Greetings

I figured the Atheist's Log would be the best place to vent about the Christmas season. While I do like that Christmas seems to be getting more and more secular, it's also getting more and more materialist and consumerist, which isn't a good thing. Additionally, the Christian right always seems to go bonkers all over Christmas, as if they don't even realize that Christmas is a syncretic holiday, just like many aspects of Christianity exhibit syncretism. It really bothers me that the Christian right isn't interested in scholarship, science, or facts; it is more interested in maintaining power, placing guilt trips, and manipulating its way in the government. I feel that a true Christian scholar would study the origin of the religious texts and traditions and recognize that paganism has had vast influences on the religion. Yet modern-day fundamentalists want to ignore this simple fact, as well as the separation of church and state. The way I see it, there is no way to represent every single religion equally and fairly, so the government should represent none. There should be no presidential recognition of the national Christmas tree in Washington DC. It is merely a disgusting display of discrimination. And the fact that the biggest religious diversity we've had in a president was Catholicism instead of Protestantism is just a gross demonstration of the US of A's intolerance. People seem to think that they can remain politically correct by representing a variety of religions, but the fact remains that there are so many religions and so many interpretations of those religions (and then there are the atheists with no religion! what do we get??) that it is better to refrain from political public displays of this sort. Even at the College of William and Mary where there is a traditional Yule Log Ceremony (an obvious shout out to the pagans, right?) the students tried to represent every religion. The Christians spoke first, of course, quoting the Jesus birth story from the Bible (but wait, wasn't Jesus born in the spring?), then students representing the faiths of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and the holiday of Kwanzaa spoke. But I, as an atheist, felt left out. And what about an acknowledgment to the pagan tradition of Yule Log? Oh, that tradition was read later, but only as a reminder of the rules of the event, like where to rub the sprig of holly. Is no one willing to recognize the lies and hate mongering that is Christianity? Before realizing other religions were represented at this Yule Log Ceremony, I yelled something like "Fuck this Christian shit! This is a pagan holiday!" causing the woman in front of me to turn around and give me a look.

I am willing to exchange gifts around Christmas; it is a nice gesture and, to be honest, with so many people celebrating the Christmas holiday, there is no escaping it. But I am not willing to believe "little baby Jesus" was born in a manger on December 25 to a virginal Mary. Because it isn't true. And any quick look on the Internet would show that Christianity borrowed greatly from existing traditions.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Belief System: Waste

I hate waste. That sentence basically sums up this part of my philosophy, but I'll go on so I can explain some of the repercussions and practical principles that come from it.

When I talk about waste, I'm not just talking about the obvious physical waste that everyone can see. Of course we should recycle, reuse, compost, and reduce the stuff we use. At the same time, there are many kinds of waste besides the physical: wasted time, wasted potential, wasted mind power, wasted space.

I see all sorts of waste all around me all the time. For example, there's school. At every level, assignments are used mostly to further the students themselves. Many of these assignments, with a few modifications, could be exported to the "real world" and actually affect it. For example, rather than make students write a report on, say, National Parks in the US, you could get them to make a Wikipedia article on protected areas in Western Australia, most of which don't have articles yet. This way, rather than the report rotting on a desk, it can become part of the growing body of knowledge being built in this amazing resource.

One principle that I try to live by based on this whole hating waste thing is "Use what others might not." For example, if I see napkins that someone left on a table at a restaurant, I'll use those rather than get new ones from the dispenser, because those napkins will probably be thrown out. I don't know for sure that other people won't use them, but they might not, so I might as well use them.

Another principle is to use what you've got until its unusable (in terms of stuff, not nature of course). This is the reason I still carry the wallet I got when I was 14, even though the zippers are broken and the window for my ID is gone. As long as I can stuff a bill into it, I'm gonna keep on using it.

Its extremely easy to get carried away if you take any principle to far, and I'll talk about how I keep myself from doing that in my next post.

Peace and Plants

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Belief System: Life

Lets see if I can get this into one post. I've spent a large part of my short life trying to figure out what I believe in, and it looks like I have finally been able to collect enough thoughts to put together a relatively coherent version of that.

Most of my core beliefs are based on five principles: a love for Life, a abhorrence for waste, an obsession with questions, a distaste for radicalism, and an extremely long timescale. Lets go through these one by one. And no, there's no way this is going to fit in one post.

The love of Life is a love of all life - plants, animals, fungi, microbes, and people. As the product of 4 billion years of biological evolution, its only fitting that Life itself is at the core of my belief system. I believe there is a fundamental choice behind almost every decision we make: we can either respect, love, and further the systems that produced us, or we can destroy them. The most obvious product of a life - centered philosophy is of course, environmentalism.

I've basically always been an environmentalist. I've seen everything from enormous roadside dumps in Mexico to rivers of sewage in India to enormous rivers of concrete in California, and all of these things disturbed me greatly as I was growing up. There's plenty of writing about the environment out there, so I won't get into it too much, but I will say this: environmentalists have been pessimistic to the point of hopelessness. As a movement, we need to start focusing on solutions rather than problems, to start playing offense rather than defense.* No, we can't get that old-growth forest back in our lifetimes, but we can plant something that will someday resemble it.

If environmentalism is obvious, there are other results of this focus on life that might not be. The first of these is my very non-supernatural version of an afterlife. We live on through our children and through the ideas we pass on to others. In the ancient past, of course, it was only through our children that we could live on by passing our genes to the next generation. For a long time, however, probably since right before the first mammals, we've been passing on memes; ideas and behaviours that complement our genes and allow us to essentially skip thousands of generations with a single step. In fact, if you're reading this right now, I believe that a part of me is now in you! Scary thought huh?

The second, non-obvious result of basing a whole set of life principles on life itself is the desire to replicate it. I'm not just talking about having kids, or even restoring life on disturbed ecosystems... I'm talking about replicating the entire biosphere on other planets. You may be thinking this is a ways off, but the fact is that we are the only species on this planet capable of bringing life to lifeless worlds. We're less than half a century away from putting people on Mars, and I hope that we can bring more than people with us to that new world. This is where life-centered environmentalism parts with landscape or wilderness-centered environmentalism. Whereas many traditional environmentalists might say that we should leave other planets in their natural state, life-centered environmentalism essentially requires that we adapt life to live on these worlds and adapt these worlds to life. If you want a three-novel exploration of these ideas, check out The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

Anyway, thats about as much as I can get out right now. Look forward (or beware) of at least four more posts on this as I try and get my belief system down on paper. And down on paper I mean out on the internets...

*For more information about ecological restoration and my personal journey through it, see my other blog at

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We are not alone!

Hey 'yall,

Our little blog has just joined the wider Atheist community by being added to the Atheist Blogroll! Its a growing collection of like-minded blogs from around the world. Check it out on the sidebar towards the bottom. Also, if you have another blog you would like added to the blogroll, let Mojoey of Deep Thoughts know and he'll hook you up!

While we're on the subject, lets talk about some of the other features of the blog. For starters, there's the Atheist Google search. Its like a normal search, but biased toward our beliefs (or lack thereof). I just typed in Spore and got this hilarious video from the creature creator. I also typed in Jesus (after seeing the video) and found atheists for jesus as the first result. The second result is an interesting article by Richard Dawkins.

Below the archive and subscription links, which are pretty self explanatory, is the slideshow. It basically displays anything on flickr tagged with the word "Atheism." So, if you want to throw something in the mix, just go on flickr and tag it. Because its unfiltered, some of the pictures are bound to be from religious folks trying to piss us off, but thats all part of the fun!

You may have noticed the ads on the blog. As full disclosure, I do earn revenue from those ads. I've made $1.30 so far!!!! The ads are based on the content of the site, which is rather Atheism heavy, so just like the pictures, many of the ads are meant to try and convert us... because I know so many folks that have "found Jesus" on the internet. He's probably lurking around here somewhere.

Anyway, this post has gone on longer than I wanted, so play around with the blog and I'll put up a real post later.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Real Christian?

I've taken a new job registering voters on the streets of Richmond, and this means that I have a lot of interesting conversations with people every day. Yesterday, I registered a woman who had never registered to vote before because of "religious reasons." We had earlier established that she was a vegetarian, so I put two and two together and asked her "Oh, are you a Seventh-day Adventist?"

I immediately regretted this question, because I thought it would cause her to go into her conversion speech, but was pleasantly surprised that she just started talking about her beliefs in a reasonable manner. She told me about her journey, how she spoke to god on a blanket in her living room, how she stopped going to church because people there were too "prescriptive." Then she started talking about how the religious right has twisted Christianity into a hateful, literalist, unreasonable faith. She had earlier told me about how she was really excited to see Sarah Palin speak until she actually started talking and spitting hate. She even spoke against religious intolerance, saying that everyone has a different path to follow.

As she spoke, I realized I had come across a real rare gem: a Christian that actually follows the spirit of what jesus did. As far I can tell, Jesus was a pacifist, a political activist, and one of the most tolerant people that ever lived. Its only been through centuries of dogma, power struggles and mistranslations that his teachings have been turned into what we see today. As we ended our conversation, I left her with this comment: "I think you're the closest thing to a real Christian that I've ever met."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts Part II

So I'm sitting in class (let me specify: a science class) and I feel the need to blog. I was just thinking about what a terrible atheist I am. Even though I am a Biology major, and I believe all the stuff that goes with it (AKA stuff "proven" (as much as something can become fact) by the scientific method), I must say that I am not an atheist because of science but because of faith. Even though I know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, the vast majority of my belief, or lack thereof, comes from faith. To be honest, I am no better than the religious folks. After a while I just felt in my gut (like Stephen Colbert!) that nothing like god or souls or spirits or afterlives exist. In fact, I don't believe anything exists, but that's another story. Maybe all of this comes from some sort of self-association with the philosophy of nihilism, but who knows? I blindly walk, led only by feeling, through much of my life, and this is no different. People can cite logical arguments against god at me all they want, and I will believe them. But they don't move me to really feel strongly about an issue like, well, gut feeling does.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


This isn't really related to a specific story, but is composed of some thoughts about my atheism.

I've realized more and more that I don't necessarily object to other people's ideas of god (unless it's like the man with a beard/more physical stuff). But I have heard some people's interpretations as more of a spirituality that holds us together, or maybe just some abstract form of energy. Now, I am not one to be spiritual, but I would object to this view a lot less, I have discovered, than I would object to the idea of souls and an afterlife. My feelings on this are: as a society we are so afraid of death (we are constantly trying to extend our life expectancies with medicine and make ourselves look younger with plastic surgery) and yet the great majority (85%) of this country believes in heaven. This makes no sense to me. If people truly believed they would live forever in heaven, why would they be so scared to die? I call BS on the part of the American people. I, for one, will admit I am scared of death because I know this life is it. So what I'm really trying to say is, I don't necessarily object to people's ideas of abstract deities if that is what they choose to believe. I do, however, get riled up about the idea of eternal life. This finite life is all we have. And we should make the most of it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Family Visit

Well, my birthday was last Monday and my brother, his wife, their daughter, and my Dad came to visit. I have to say that right now I'm also pretty passive aggressive and have yet to really tell anyone directly that I'm an atheist, except for my brother and his wife because they tend to be more liberal and accepting. Well, when my Dad came to see my apartment I made sure that right underneath the TV were my books including: a bible from my first communion, a bible from my confirmation, and right next to them "God is Not Great" and "The God Delusion." Unfortunately, my Dad didn't say anything and I still don't know if he even noticed them. I guess I'll just wait and see if my lack of a religious preference comes up in the future.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Facebook Fallout

I'm a rather passive aggressive person, so rather than go through the trouble of confronting people about atheism individually, I decided to change my religion status on facebook to "Atheist." Back when facebook was populated entirely by college students this would have been fine, but unfortunately my change of religious preference coincided with a rather disturbing trend: all of my Mexican relatives are getting on facebook!

It started with my younger relatives, of course. Slowly but surely, I watched helplessly as facebook spread through the ranks of my relatives in Mexico, moving from young (14-16 year old) cousins to their older siblings and finally their parents.

This of course changes the game up a bit, since coming out as an Atheist to a bunch of American college kids and coming out to my Catholic (by default) family in Mexico are two entirely different animals. As the deed was already done, however, I decided to let it ride and see what happens. It was only a matter of time before my own MOTHER was on facebook. It started out innocently enough:

Hi Nandon,
How are you doing?

Yes thats right, my mom used a pet name, the strangely punctuated word "hugs' and an emoticon in one shot. As soon as she got on, I let her know what was up:

I'm rockin, mom! Have fun looking through pictures of me at parties!

And for a while, that was that. It wasn't until I came back from my summer internship in Oklahoma that I was confronted again with what I had done. My dad was the first to mention it, at dinner after he picked me up from the airport:

Your mom's really worried about this whole Atheist thing, but I told her that its not like you don't believe in a higher power, you just don't believe in the conception of one that has been fed to you by traditional religion.

At this point, I marveled at the fact that my dad decided to reinterpret my lack of religion into a simple denial of tradition or a rebellion against organized religion. I did not, of course, say anything, and instead I'm writing this blog post because, as we've already established, I'm passive aggressive. But he went on, and I shall continue depicting paraphrases as quotes:

So I told her, if he really didn't believe in anything higher than himself, he wouldn't be doing all this stuff for the environment. So its not like he's a selfish person, he does believe in *waves hands in circles as if to indicate the world* something.

Someday, I'll tell him that yes, I do believe in something, but that something has absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural. It has to do with nature, with morality, with the ability of each person to pass ideas to others. But for now, I kept quiet. I have to think before I try to do these things.

I got home, and my Mom, the ultimate source of my passive aggressiveness, of course did nothing. Nothing except for making two snide remarks:

Snide remark one (when asked at a company party about what church we went to)-
I go to Metodist church, but he *points at me and rolls eyes* doesn't go to churh anymore. (if only she knew that I've been going to Unitarian Universalist church)
Snide remark two (after a brazillian swimmer who had crossed himself catholically won a race on the Olympics)
See? It works!

I guess at some point I'll sit my parents down and try to explain my beliefs to them. For now, though, I think I'll let this ride for a month or two, and I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe they'll find this blog and I wont have to do anything.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

A God, You Say?

I hate to interrupt Andon's amazing posts, but I really must tell this story...

Just as fun back story, today I broke my little toe. It was pretty obviously broken; all sideways and stuff. Anyways, I was in the emergency room and I was being quizzed about the information they keep on record and keep updated. Well, after a series of semi-normal questions, like my mother's maiden name, I was asked, "Religious preference?"

My family and I had had the atheist talk and so we all were silent for a second and maybe laughing awkwardly when I chimed in with, "none." My Dad decided to revise this by mumbling some stuff and then said he guessed it'd be Christian.

The guy who worked in the emergency room then replied, "Well, Christian is better than..." And kind of trailed off. What? Christian is better than none?

Thanks, world.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Ex-Catholic

A journey from Kimberly, an activist, a mother and a bio-geek:

I was raised in a Catholic family. My mother was catholic by marriage. She says that she is a christian but I do not ever recall her going to church or mass or even owning the book. I was a good kid but whenever I did something wrong I remember her saying that I needed to get down on my knees and prey so I would not go to hell. I cannot imagine saying that to my children. It really was not a big deal as I was pretty GodDamn sure I was not going to hell.

During those early days I was trying to figure in God's creation of the world and the dinosaurs. I was skeptical. My Dad's family is from Mexico and they have a long history of catholicism. However, I must say like most catholics they have a great deal of respect for the rituals but are far more openminded than my Mom's protestant family. If I were going to be a christian, I would definitely be catholic. Catholics do enjoy their drink so that is a plus. Thought about buddhism but I like my wine too much.

Then I went to college and received a degree in microbiology. This is were I decided christianity was not for me. As a scientist I have great deal of respect for reason and so evolution makes perfect sense. However, it was probably more my anthropology and history courses that really helped me come to the conclusion that there was no God. I mean, consider what the catholics did to the Aztecs and Native Americans. What the protestent missionaries did to the Native Americans. All in the name of God. Of course, I think we know there was more behind it than God. Like Oil, Gold and Land.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Right Reasons

The long awaited conclusion of the saga of Zach:

I have attached a facebook note by a friend of mine followed by a series of comments. In the note my friend comes out against Christianity and as an atheist. He gets mainly non-confrontal feedback from friends. I post a comment about what his reasons are for becoming an atheist, and he gives me reasons to which I reply, "Good. I was just checking to see if you were an atheist for the right reasons." I get a reply saying, "I am wondering, Zach, what are the "right" reasons for being atheist?" From there, all hell breaks loose. It's all in the attachment, but I warn you, there are some 50 comments mostly between my friends and me debating religion.

Just to let you know, in those comments of mine in the attachment I compare god to: Zeus, Brama, Wotan, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, leprechauns, and of course...a teapot.

However, the only ones people get offended by is when I compare god to unicorns or leprechauns. Hmmm.....

Facebook Discussion (Word Document)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oklahoma Christian

The second of three in the Zach saga:

I went to a Dark Knight midnight showing. I was sitting by myself because all of my friends had gone back home for the summer and my coworkers were in another theatre. Anyways, as I was sitting reading my book I get to talking to a guy next to me who’s with a group. We introduce ourselves and I said I was going to OU and he said he was going to OCU. I asked him, “Oklahoma City University?” And he said, “Oklahoma Christian.”

We proceeded with some small talk until his friends got his attention and I proceeded to read my book. A few minutes later he asked me what book I was reading. I hesitantly turned to the front cover to him revealing the words, “The God Delusion.” We laughed a little bit and talked some more, but didn’t get into a big argument or anything. (After all I was going to be sitting next to this person for the next two and half hours.)

A few minutes later, I sneezed, to which he quickly and sincerely responded, “Bless you.” I started laughing mainly because I knew he didn’t do it on purpose but just the irony of the situation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Half the Catholic and Twice the Fun!

From Zach, a sophomore at Oklahoma University:

I was raised Roman Catholic and was an alter boy until about my early to mid-teens. I always pretty proud of Catholicism for allowing the theory of evolution, but that was pretty much it. I knew everything in the Bible wasn’t true and I thought, “Well, why do I consider the rest of it true?” My answer was in science. I never really fully believed everything that the Church or the Bible said, but it was starting in my junior year in high school I started having severe doubts about my religion.

It was during this time that my brother was too, so him and his wife converted to Episcopalian or “half the Catholic and twice the fun,” as they would put it. By the time I graduated high school in 2007 at the age of 17 I considered myself agnostic, but not necessarily an agnostic theist, nor an agnostic atheist. I started college in the fall, and by December realized that was an atheist but told myself that I could be an agnostic theist around my family.

I remember visiting my dad and he wanted me to go to mass with him. I went, but I didn’t want to. I believe I mainly did it for him. Over the previous months my parents had separated, my mom just basically left my dad because she just didn’t want to be with him anymore after 24 years of marriage. He was in a rough time and I didn’t want him to think that their separation caused me to turn away from god (which it didn’t). But by the end of my spring semester in 2008 I realized I was an atheist and if it came up I would tell the truth (sort of).

I came home during June for a weekend (I was taking summer classes) and Sunday morning came around, but my Dad didn’t ask me to go, nor did he mention going to church at all during the weekend. I wasn’t guilt tripped into going to church, nor did the subject of my atheism come up. A week or two after that my sister called me. She wanted me to be co-godfather to her son (one of the godparents has to be Catholic). Since I was technically a confirmed Catholic I went ahead and accepted. I also thought the idea of godparents was nothing more than a tradition that had absolutely no utility.

Anyways, afterwards at the get-together at my grandmother’s house my brother and his wife arrived and we were talking and I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I let them know I was an atheist. Ever since then they have been very supportive of me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oklahoma Atheist Meetup!

I'm in Oklahoma for the summer, and of course surrounded by religious people on a daily basis, so I needed a little break. I checked to see if there were any Atheist groups in the area, so I could find someone on the level to talk to, and was pleasantly surprised to find FOUR groups in the area. Excited beyond comprehension, I joined the nearest meetup and contacted the organizers, to see if we could schedule something before I left. They arranged for a potluck, and I brought the last non-ramen menu item I had left, brown rice. The energy and excitement of such people to be around others that think like them is amazing. The conversation ranged from liberal politics to renewable energy for a while, only barely skimming upon religion and lack there of.

At one point, I interrupted what looked like the beginnings of a heated argument about the military with the statement "Hey, so, like, we don't believe in god and stuff right?" Which was funny because in any other situation, that statement would have ignited a heated argument, not squelched one!

After we ate, we began a discussion about where our morality comes from, which was really interesting and really got everyone's mind going. It started with a video by Vilayanur Ramachandran on The Science Network, a scientist who talks about the neural structures controlling such things as empathy and consciousness. From there we discussed the idea that empathy is hardwired into the brain, and David (the organizer) made the distinction between this hardwired morality and an "intellectual" ability to make moral decisions. The example he used involved a lifeboat with too many passengers on it. Your instinctual morality tells you to save more people, but your intellectual side realizes that if you let one more person on, the boat will sink.

From there the conversation turned to in-group out-group dynamics, basically the idea that people only care about their "in-group" and disregard anyone outside of it. Brett, a psychology grad student at Oklahoma University, described an experiment he was involved with
that explored the issue. The subjects were presented with one of four news stories and asked what they thought of the main character and how much they should be rewarded or fined for their actions. One story involved an OU student saving a student from the University of Texas (the schools have a rather bitter rivalry), the next a UT student saving an OU student. The last two involved an OU student throwing a keg at a UT student, and a UT student throwing a keg at an OU student. Only one of these was presented to each person, so they didn't get to compare and decide on rewards or fines. Interestingly, people not only rewarded the OU students more highly, they also decided to punish them more harshly. Brett's explanation is that you care more about the actions of the people around you, be they positive or negative, because they have more potential to affect you.

Being in such a red state, the conversation often turned to creationism, and there was much preaching to the choir about why its stupid and evolution rocks. A popular idea of the night was that "God is in the gaps" or that as science continues to explain more and more of the natural world, and the role of god is used less and less to explain natural phenomena, religious people use god as a kind of scientific filler. In the old days, god was invoked for everything from weather to tidal waves, but now we have decent explanations for those things, so intelligent design type people have to find ever more creative places to stick their god.

For example, how did the universe start? Oh, it was the Big Bang. But what about before that? Well, we don't know, so it must have been god. How did DNA first form? We've created early Earth-like conditions and gotten amino acids out, but how do we get from there to DNA? We don't know, so it must have been god. Brett even mentioned an idea he'd heard from some of his colleagues, that "God is in the error" of experiments, hiding in the decimal places you can't get to.

Overall, it was a great night. I asked everyone in the group to email me a story for the blog, so hopefully we'll see some posts come of that in the near future. I believe that might work better than trying to get tons and tons of co-authors on the blog, so if you have a story you'd like to share, please email it to me at

If you're worried about your writing skills or what to put down, let me know and we can even do a phone interview where I can just take notes and write the story for you. And good times will be had by all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm Gonna Go To Hell When I Die

I'm glad my recent nightmares have been attributed to my atheism.

This is all I have to say. Because laughter is the best medicine.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Search for an Atheist Symbol


So the other day (actually more like 6 months ago) I was sitting at my computer, procrastinating for something or other, when I had a thought: most religions, political philosophies, etc. have a symbol that represents them, whereas I have never seen a decent symbol for Atheism.

Immediately questions arise of whether or not we even need a symbol. Basically the only thing that all Atheists have in common is the fact that we don't believe in God, and there's a wide range of beliefs in spirituality, morality, utilitarianism, humanism, and so on. Can something as broad as a lack of belief in a deity can be summed up in a symbol? Questions of its utility aside, I find the actual search for a symbol intriguing.

The slideshow on the page is actually a part of that search, since it just shows anything tagged with the word "Atheism" on Photobucket. As a result, some of the images are amusingly anti-atheist, but its a good collection overall.

Another good collection is on this page by "a finnish atheist." It does a really god job outlining the pros and cons of several symbols, as well as the debate about wether or not we need a symbol at all. My favorite serious ones from this site are the simple circle and the "two ellipses". I also like the secular humanist's symbol of an empowered-looking human.

There's a couple of really funny symbols out there, including the Darwin Fish and a new one on me, the "invisible pink unicorn" which looks more like a cross between a bird and a spaceship than a unicorn. I would consider the flying spaghetti monster to be an atheist symbol, or at least a symbol of the ridiculousness of religion.

I just found out about the OUT campaign (say that three times fast) which was started by Richard Dawkins and is encouraging people to come out as atheists, with the goal of empowering atheists and showing our numbers. Their symbol, the scarlet A, is now one of my favorites. I actually kind of like the literary allusion, and the symbol is hip and stands out and makes a statement. Actually, the only problem with it is that it is hip, and thus prone to fading away with fashion. For now, though, its a great way to start conversations and "come out" as an atheist to those around you.

I was also thinking about what I would use, and I came up with the infinity sign. Its symmetrical, it looks good on paper and its easy to draw. Its a good alternative to a zero or a null sign, in that it is kind of the positive opposite of what those things represent. Unfortunately, it also carries a bunch of religious connotations and might be confusing, but hey, so are all the others. I also came across this t-shirt with a cross between an Atheist "A" and an infinity sign, which makes for an interesting and original symbol and is probably now copyrighted.

In all likelihood, we're gonna have to wait for a decent story or event to portray through our symbol, like someone dying on a cross or passing out fish to people. Until then, we're going to have to stick to the story of Flying Spaghetti Monster, and I think I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Atheist LULZ

OMG. There's a website where you can store a message to be emailed to your heathen friends after the Rapture! Check out the Wired article here or the site itself here. They also have a hilarious/scary blog with sample emails for after the rapture. I wonder how many people will fall for this obvious scam (hey, use the encrypted box for "personal private information such as passwords and letters to be sent to your closest lost relatives and friends.") and how these people will come up with their list of people they think will be left behind? Is it just any old sinner or only the serious ones? Gays, liberals and teenagers are sure to be on the list, but wait, maybe you should stop associating with such types!

By the way, people that seriously believe in the Rapture scare me. Its a very twisted way to look at historical events, whether it be the unification of Europe or the existence of Israel. Not to mention the way that it allows you to cop-out of major world problems by saying "hey, it will all be over soon."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking the News to the Parentals

So it's not like I was ever deeply religious. I always had an aversion to attending church and/or Sunday school as a child. But the guilt that comes with Christianity had definitely been instilled in me. Even though we didn't regularly attend church, my mother always told me to pray. On Christmas Eve she would tell me to thank God for His only son. You get the picture. If I didn't pray, ask God for forgiveness, and believe in God, I was going to hell.

As you can imagine, I have been trying to figure out ways to break the atheism news to my mother. Even before I was atheist, I greatly disliked Christianity, and made it a point to say so when the topic came up at home. My mother's response was usually, "You aren't atheist, are you?!?" At the time, I could honestly say, no, I wasn't. Now, however, I was imagining the conversation going something like:

Mom: You aren't atheist, are you?!
Me: Yes.
Mom: No! You don't want to go to hell!
Me: Well, I'm pretty sure as a Christian I was going to hell anyways. Now I don't believe in hell so surely I can't go there.

In reality, the conversation was much less thrilling. My mom thinks I'm crazy and hell bound, and I'm not even sure I blatantly admitted my atheism, just implied it. But in my family we sweep things under the rug and pretend they never happened. So... All's well that ends well.

See you in hell :-D (I'm pretty sure all the cool people are there anyways)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Atheists UNITE!

Welcome to The Atheist's Log. The goal of this blog is to become a repository for personal stories and thoughts about day to day life as an atheist. The idea (and the name) came from a blog some of my friends started called My Vegan's Log. If you haven't got the pun in the webaddress yet, you'd better head on over to their first post, where they talk about its punny glory. The other inspiration for the blog came from the following experience:

I'm working as an intern at an Air Force base over the summer, and on my second day we're getting our government driver's licenses. The man who is showing us around asks us, out of the blue, whether we have accepted Jesus as our lord and savior. The other intern, a Christian, says yes, leaving me in the awkward position of expressing my unbelief to two people I've just met. Thankfully, I've recently decided that I'm just going to be completely open about my atheism to everyone. I say something along the lines of, "Uhhh, actually I'm a total atheist, hehehe..."

He replies something like "Hopefully you'll change your tune" soon enough. As he goes on to talk about how Jesus came to him and changed his life, I'm standing there thinking "This is a federal government facility and we are all government workers on the job... shouldn't I be safe here?" Apparently not. The guy was actually really nice, and after we got our licenses he told me how much he respected that I was straight with him about my Atheism. As a strategy to avoid further preaching, I simply started talking about anything and everything, from my experiences with Hinduism in India to those with Catholicism in Mexico. I felt a mixture of empathy, dread, awkwardness and anger after the experience, and wished there was a place to share it.

How many other people have a story like this? Lets get blogging!