Sunday, December 16, 2012

What if Bryan Fischer Is Right?

I'm sure by now you've seen the video of Bryant Fischer and his disgusting assessment that school shootings happen because "God doesn't go where He's not wanted." Here's the video if you missed it and would like to torture yourself with it.

But what if Bryan Fischer is right? What if we're seeing more violence because we've taken prayer and Bible reading out of schools? Let's consider that from a Christian perspective.

Yahweh, according to the Bible, is all-powerful. He sees all and knows all - even before it happens. He can be everywhere at once and almost nothing can stand in His way.

Therefore, if Yahweh does not go into a school, it's because He chooses not to. We can't reasonably assert that He is rendered powerless to enter the building unless, of course, the entrances were guarded by iron chariots (Judges 1:19).

Why would Yahweh choose not to enter a school and protect the students? According to Fischer's explanation, He does not protect those who don't love Him and don't want Him around. Considering that Newtown, CT, is 85% Christian, that answer doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The only thing left to consider is that these teachers and students were only nominally Christian - in other words, they weren't "True Christians." Not only is this fallacious thinking, but it leads us to a very damning conclusion.

If these victims weren't "real Christians," then who is to blame? It's not the government's job to teach kids religion. It's not the city council's job to teach kids the "real" meaning of Christmas. As any honest conservative who takes personal responsibility will tell you, it's the PARENTS' job to teach their kids how to be good Christians.

In other words, if you buy Fischer's claims, you must blame the victims' parents for not indoctrinating their kids well enough to buy them some mafia protection from their god.

That's not a position I'd want to advance, much less stand by. How Bryan Fischer, Mike Huckabee, and all the other shills can utter these notions without choking is beyond me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taking Back Mississippi

Credit: Thomas Thornycroft
It's no secret that Mississippi has long been under the boot heel of preachers and politicians who put their own interests above those of the people. I think it's even safe to say that corruption is so ingrained in our way of life down here that we've come to expect it and take a rather lackadaisical attitude towards it. Many are the times I've heard people say, "That's just the way things are down here," or "It's never gonna change. It'll always be that way."

Mississippians proved that wrong in 2011 when we said NO to amendment 26's "personhood" initiative. Against the dollars funneled in by Colorado's forced-birth group, against the organization and bullying of the local churches...against all hope...we defeated them by 58%. And now we've done it again.

Last night - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - in Corinth, MS, the voters passed a liquor referendum by 70%. The churches posted their signs. The pastors thundered their sermons of doom. But 70% of the voters paid them no mind. Now the pastors are weeping and caterwauling at this stinging defeat and well they should - it's a sign of the times and conservative religion is losing!

The most damning belief we can hold is that we can't change anything. It's a message you'll hear all the time from those who don't want things to change or those who have already given up. The future is not for those people - it's for us. Mississippi doesn't have to always be the third-world state of the union. It doesn't always have to be the brunt of every joke. We can make it a better, freer place to live but it's going to take work.

Be sure, that work is going to continue to be arduous, maybe even risky, at times. It's always hard to take a stand against something that is so deeply ingrained. Nevertheless, we owe it to ourselves, our country, and our future generations to turn this ship around. Someone has to fight these battles and last night's victory is proof that votes - and voices - matter.

Every soldier in this fight is valuable. It doesn't matter whether your job is to stand on the front lines, fire the cannons, lead the calvary, run the ammunition, or cook for the troops. Everybody has a place in this fight. So do what you can. Plant the seeds of freedom by challenging myths and assumptions. Spread those seeds on Facebook and Twitter. Use humor. Be creative. Find your place in the ranks and help us pull this state out of its corrupted and prohibitive rut.

We pay a lot of lip service to the concept of freedom. Now it's time to claim that freedom - to claim our natural rights as free people. We don't need Mississippi's version of the nanny state, always telling us what religion says we can't drink or view or buy. We need to make those decisions for ourselves.

Use your voice. Use your vote.

Take Mississippi back!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Delay in posting next set of interviews.


Due to technical difficulties and illness this last week (I hate having chronic Sinusitis) we were unable to complete the interviews scheduled but will reschedule them asap and get them out to you.

Thank you all for your support in this project, the response and volunteers has been amazing.

In the mean time please take a few minutes and check out Tweenky's shop

Thank you again.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Shut Up and Listen

The noise of the horns, big rigs, the TV or radio. God has trouble getting a word in edgewise, eh? If we'd just shut up and listen, we would be able to hear him speaking directly to us. Right?

All this time we thought we were basing our disbelief on lack of evidence but it turns out that we are just being too loud to hear God. Guess the "still, small voice" was literal and not metaphorical.

Well, I'm convinced. Are you?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Interview with Atheist in Mississippi - 2 - with Chris

Our latest adventure leads us to the front porch. 
Join us as we conduct our 2nd interview with a fellow atheist in Mississippi.

Also available in audio only format through our podcast here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interview with Atheist in Mississippi - 1 - with Alex

Our latest adventure leads us to the front porch. Join us as we interview fellow atheists in Mississippi.

Also available in audio only format through our podcast here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How Can I Believe?

The resurrected Christ appears
Do you remember the story from Luke 16 about the rich man who died and went to hell? He saw the beggar Lazarus with Abraham and asked them for help. After Abraham refused, the rich man begged them to visit his brothers so they wouldn't end up in hell too. This is Abraham's reply:

29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

I always thought this was bullshit as a kid. If someone came back from the dead and told my family and me about hell, I'd definitely listen!

Nathan and I were talking about this absurdity the other night and he raised a great point. If someone rising from the dead won't convince anybody about something as important as hell, then what's the point of Christ's resurrection?

Now I know that the resurrection means more than that to Christians. I want you to see it from a nonbeliever's point of view instead. I do not believe in the testimony of Moses and the prophets. How then can you expect me to believe the supposed testimony of the risen Christ...especially when I did not witness this resurrection?

The very Bible that Christians hold in such high regard says plainly that a resurrected witness will not convince anyone who hasn't already been convinced by the Old Testament prophets.

So what's the point of a resurrected Christ to nonbelievers? How can I believe when the Bible itself says that I will not?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Southern Girl Goes to Skepticon

Skepticon has come and gone . Those of you who were unable to go may already be sick of hearing about it. Fear not - I have pictures for you so you can experience it vicariously. Mind you, these aren't the pictures you're going to see all over the internet. If you want to see the pics of all the famous folk, you can find them most anywhere. I'm going to show you Skepticon through a different perspective - that of a first-time Southern female visitor with a lot of anxiety.

The first thing I noticed is that Arkansas and southeast Missouri are dirt-poor and heavily Christian. Jobs seemed to be very scarce and the homes were in disrepair or completely abandoned. Many of the buildings looked like they didn't make it out of the early 20th century but churches abounded and, with them, so did pro-life signs.

This is the sign that just blew my mind. God's stimulus package? What the ever-living hell does that mean? I can kind of understand the billboards that said, "End Abortion" or "Don't Kill Your Baby" but what is this? I thought red state Christians were against the stimulus any way.

I felt nervous going through these areas, as if every horror flick about a couple on vacation that I'd ever watched was going to come true. If there was a place in the South to make someone disappear, this was it. I was actually glad we didn't have any religious or political stickers on our car.

Once we got to Springfield, however, all that anxiety melted away. We got to the hotel and I instantly fell in love with it. For the Skepticon rate of $89.00 a night, we got a 5th floor room in this beautiful 9-story hotel. All the rooms opened into the interior of the hotel and looked down upon a lounge, bar, water fountain, and restaurant.

Looking up from the bottom floor

Glass elevators

Rock garden surrounding part of the lounge

Fountain separating the lounge and the restaurant

For a small-town Southern girl, this was luxurious! We raced upstairs to our room, eager to get our stuff unpacked and get started. This is the scene from our room:

Springfield, MO

I'd never been to Missouri before, let alone Springfield, so I was taking in everything. While Nathan checked to see if there was a Gideon Bible (I had found a dollar in the last hotel Bible I'd found but there was no Bible in our room), I checked out a laminated paper that was left on our bed.

Hotel Prayer

Ok, it was kind of pretty as generic blessings tend to be. I wondered if this was standard practice or if we just got prayed for because we were with Skepticon. We had a chuckle, took it as a nicety, and got about the business of being skeptical!

We'd gotten a late start due to a delay in picking up my medication that morning so we missed some early talks, especially Matt Dillahunty's talk that I'd really been wanting to hear. We raced across the street to the Expo Center and got in to hear the second half of Greta Christina's talk and to see all of JT Eberhard's talk which ended in a marriage proposal to Michaelyn and had many in tears. I never ceased to be amazed by the sharp minds we have in our community but I must admit that JT's ability to bring things down to earth where even the most stubborn believer can understand it is incredible.

We didn't go to the Gastropub Friday night but we did sit in the lounge and talk to some wonderful people. We were sitting by Matt Dillahunty, Beth Presswood, and Rebecca Watson. You know how you sometimes start seeing these people as larger than life? As heroes or giants that can't be reached? I didn't feel that way at all. They were extremely kind and generous, down-to-earth people. I spoke with Beth for a while and was so impressed with her genuineness. 

Then he walked in. 

Earlier in the day, he had appointed me as the Keymaster on Twitter and told me to prepare the way but there was no way to prepare for his coming.

PZ Myers was in the house...late but fashionably so.

For someone who has such a reputation as being shrill, hateful, and vicious, that man is very gentle, soft-spoken and sincere. We spoke briefly and he said that we should have him down to Mississippi to speak sometime. Somehow, someway, I'm going to make that happen!

The next day we got up early (for me) and headed over to the Expo Center again to mingle, buy some stuff, and listen to some more talks. This is what greeted us at the door:

Credit: Beth Presswood

Talk about stereotypes! I really wouldn't have shown up to protest in overalls. But these protesters seemed to be pretty kind and I overheard one of our crew say, "We're all really nice people." I was glad that they were trying to emphasize our good qualities.

Credit: Meg Rotenberg

I stayed away from this guy because I didn't really want to discuss how I came to be living in "adultery" or why this was the best option for me. I didn't think he'd understand.

We went inside and checked out all the vendors. I bought some stickers and a necklace from EvolveFish as well as some Surly-Ramics from Amy. CFI and the AHA gave out some free goodies. I met Ed Brayton and Debbie Goddard, both long-time heroes of mine as well as some Facebook and Godless guild friends. We talked for so long that we didn't have time to eat a proper lunch. By the time we got seated for Sean Carroll's talk about the Higgs Boson, I was starting to crash. Nevertheless, I learned more about fields and particles in that time with Sean that I ever had.

At this point I had to make a choice: if I stayed for Jessica Ahlquist's talk, I was going to fall asleep and I wouldn't have enough energy to make it to the Gastropub or any talks later that night. I did not want to miss Jessica's talk but I chose to sacrifice that one in order to recharge my batteries. I'll definitely be picking it up on YouTube when it's available!

So after my nap (damn my disabilities!), we went back over for PZ's talk on genetics and evolution as well as Rebecca's talk on evolutionary psychology. Now that I had my fill of science, it was time for Gastropub!

We took the hotel van over and I managed to bang my head on a steel bar trying to get in. By the time we got to the pub, my head was ringing and all I wanted to do was sit and relax. I took a picture of the pub but tried to get only the flags on the ceiling since I didn't know whether some of the people at the pub might not be out.

Farmer's Gastropub

The place was loud beyond belief. As one who rarely ever drinks and doesn't tolerate loud noises well, this was a challenge. Yet I was grateful for this place where people could gather and make choices that they weren't allowed to make back home. Namely this:

and this...

It probably sounds crazy to those of you who live elsewhere but the Mississippi county we live in is dry. You can't legally buy alcohol or even possess it. So when I show you this, it's not to glorify drunkenness but instead to glorify choice (although inebriation is fine if that's what you want).

Although I didn't get up and mingle with anyone, I did see a friend I'd met the day before. You should really check out this guy and his blog/podcast The Skeptic Wire. Tell him Tweenky D sent you.

Greg Perrine of The Skeptic Wire

Despite leaving early and taking all my meds early, I overslept the next day and missed Matt's second talk. I can't tell you how sorry I was to have missed those talks and to have to leave early and miss the afternoon talks as well. I'll be catching up on them on YouTube, no doubt.

So we packed our stuff and left that rainy, Sunday morning. Although I didn't get to participate fully, I have no regrets. I had a great time and met some wonderful people. Everyone was kind to me and I felt really safe and comfortable. I say this to encourage any of you who want to go to a conference but have doubts - just fucking go!  The organizers work hard to put this stuff together and they want you to have a good time. Hell, almost all of us want you to have a good time. I daresay you won't find a group of kinder, smarter, more confident, more outgoing, and more interesting people than you'd find at Skepticon.

I slept for a few hours on the way back thanks to the rain but I did get some pictures of a little town whose name I love but whose looks make me fear: Ravensden.

Ravensden, Arkansas

I love crows and ravens. They are some of the smartest creatures around. I'd love to have a statue like this in my front yard.

However, this is the good side of the road. The rest of the area is filled with scary places like this:

It was operating on a Sunday and it smelled funny. Even a Southern girl like me couldn't help but imagine stuffed city folks. I have got to stop watching horror shows on Netflix late at night.

And of course no Southern trip is complete without seeing a dead deer. When you don't have a proper grocery store for miles around, you have to take matters into your own hands. Isn't the South amazing?

I plan to go to Skepticon #6 next year and be better prepared. I'm also hoping that my physical and mental health will continue to improve so I can participate more. But let me tell you, my first time was awesome! I felt a lot of love and respect from everybody - from the folks roaming around with hot pink hair, to the guy in the utility kilt, to the Matt Smith lookalike, all the way to our Overlord PZ. These skeptics are fantastic!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Skepticon 5 and looking forward to SK6

As some of you may have heard late last week we got notified that Skepticon 5 was in jeopardy of not having enough money to finish paying for the room at the expo center. Word got out and JT Eberhard said "if everyone that was registered (1,200 or so people)  just gave $5 ea they would meet their goal."

Well guess what? We met that goal and then some in less then 32 hours time. It was amazing and the response was astounding to say the least. But it was something that we can help make sure never happens again. As a group and all our connections we have online and in real life, we can make this event never have to worry about last minute money issues.

OK here is "our"(DFFT) dedication to the Skepticon event from here forward. We will be producing a SK6 Donation page with "Steg" buttons, with the help of Katie Hartman (Thank you), on the side column here that will collect money all year. All donations go directly to the Skepticon event. This collection will be used to help pay for the venue, help those in need to make it to the event and any other need as they see fit.

We have been meeting people all weekend and plan to introduce them to our goal below and ask them for some support in raising awareness and promoting the cause henceforth.

Our Goal:

Our goal is to raise at least $12,000 for next years event.

If 10% of you that attended this years event donated just $10 a month to the cause we could raise well over $14,400* in time for Skepticon 6. What an accomplishment that would be for everyone all around.

*(Arithmetic ya gotta love it. This was based on 120 people donating $10 per month for 12 months)

This is a wonderful event and it needs to remain free to everyone but it can not do so without our help along the way. Please help us in our goal and commit to a monthly donation of at least $10 a month.

Endorsement sent by Jeff Markus from Skepticon

If you would like to help  then please visit this page here 

We will be also setting up a separate fundraiser to raise money for Mississippians to come to this event as well. Find or message me if you want to help out or are apart of the SSA in MS.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Surly-Ramics exclusively made godless [gdls] necklaces are here.


The godless necklaces for our Guild Wars 2 Guild have been created and are ready for ordering. There are 18 already made and more to come as needed.

If you want to receive your Surly-Ramics created [gdls] necklace at Skepiton 5 or shortly there after be sure to get yours purchased ASAP. First 18 orders will be reserved and all following ordered will become available as soon as Amy can get them made. So order today and we can have them all in time for the meet up at Skepticon 5

Order link is on the right-hand side of our blog page -------------------->

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oh, Hell

Hell is eternal torture for temporary crimes. It's the punishment of the immortal soul for something that the fallible mortal body did.

What kind of sense does that make?

What can you do on this earth that is worth eternal torment? Even murder, as bad as it is, doesn't warrant eternal punishment.

But you don't have to be a murderer in the Christian religion to go to Hell. All you have to do is not accept Jesus as your "lord and savior" and you've got a one-way ticket to Hell. What is your crime? That you weren't convinced by the "evidence" presented. 

Hell cannot be the creation of a just god. It can't be the creation of a merciful or loving god.

There is no reason to believe that Hell exists.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kirk Cameron Persecuted under U.S. Blasphemy Laws

Blasphemy is illegal
This I know
For Kirk Cameron
Tells me so.

Um, not really. Although Cameron claims that he fell victim to our blasphemy laws, he fails to  deliver any kind of evidence. Being disagreed with or even mocked is not the equivalent to being arrested and sentenced to jail.

And even if you buy into his claim that he blasphemed the "god of political correctness," that still doesn't really have anything to do with the law. If he wants to lash out against our growing godless culture, fine - but leave the law out of it. Kirk wouldn't know the law if he fell over it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jesus, Take the Deal

I've suffered a lot in my young life - disease, depression, and a near-death experience - and the way in which I've handled these issues has changed dramatically. When I was a young Christian and in pain, I would pray and beg Jesus for relief. He healed the sick while on earth, right? Why wouldn't he help one of his children out? But when no relief came, I'd always end up a blubbering pile of weakness, making deals with God and going so far a few times as to even agreeing to be a missionary in Africa if he'd just take the pain away. He never did and I never went to Africa.

As an atheist, I've handled these issues very differently. I know now that no amount of prayer, posturing, and deal-making is going to make a difference. There is no personal god out there who cares that I'm in pain. The universe is quite indifferent to all our suffering and, while that terrifies some people, I find it to be soothing that there is indeed a great equalizer. The universe has no demands or expectations and so I get to be the final judge of my own experiences.

Today shook my faithlessness. About 6 this morning, I woke up with a particularly nasty Norovirus swelling my intestines and sending everything into overdrive. The norovirus is commonly called "stomach flu" around these parts and most everybody gets it. The problem is that I have diverticulitis and a section of my colon is prone to swell so when you add a norovirus, you get a super helping of pain.

I've had this stuff off and on my whole life and it's never pleasant. Projectile vomiting and projectile diarrhea usually means that, when you're done, you're going to have a mess to clean up. And since all the fluids in your body have just been rather nastily ejected, you're going to be as weak and helpless as a kitten. This is a great test when looking for a spouse or long-term partner by the way - if s/he takes care of you during this time, you've found a keeper!

So back to the story: I was in so much pain that my body was turning cold and clammy. I felt like I was dying which isn't so scary except that it was proving to be a slow, painful death. At some point, my mind wheeled back to the old Christian days and I started lashing out: 

"Jesus, you're supposed to be the Great Physician! Help me!" 

Then I'd hear the counterargument in my head, "You have to have faith."

Faith is in short supply, you see, but I plowed on, "I don't have any faith but, if you miraculously heal me, I will know you're real and then I'll have a faith I can share with everybody! What a testimony!!"

There was no healing. Nothing but another round of vomiting and pain.

I can't tell you how ashamed I am now that I gave in to this weakness, the human drive to do anything - to make any deal with anybody - in order to survive. I thought I was past of the point of making deals with a non-existence deity but today's illness tested my resolve and I lost.

What do I take from this? One, I'm still human. I'm still susceptible to the same fears and desires as everyone else. And that brings me to an even better discovery: my compassion for those who turn to faith during pain and death is renewed. Although I do not agree with these people and I realize that their reliance on faith may cause them more harm than good, at least I can see them as hurting people again rather than some stupid, lost cause. I found some of my empathy again and I'm glad for that.

Did you make deals with God as a believer? What do you think of those who cling to religion when they feel they have nothing else? How can we reach these people better in their time of need?

P.S. - there is a "Great Physician" - she's my sister. 

Friday, September 14, 2012


I'm perplexed at the uproar over the Atheism Plus idea. I'm absolutely nonplussed.

Instead of rehashing everything that's already been said about it, I'd like to present my own ideas about it. Here's my disclaimer first:

I intend to adopt the A+ label for the purposes of some discussions but, at other times, I will use other labels. I reserve the right to use whichever label or labels that I think will best inform my audience. Likewise, I believe that you should be free to use whatever label best describes you.

The purpose of a label is to inform others about some facet of your life or some belief (or lack thereof) that you hold. Some labels are have inherently negative connotations (racist, sexist, bigot, etc.) but most just serve to give you a general idea about something. For example, the only thing you can know from the "atheist" label is that the person does not believe in any gods. You can't correctly read anything else into this label. You can't automatically know that this atheist accepts evolution, hates religion, or cares whether IGWT is on our coins. It takes conversation for you to discern that. This brings me to my first major point:

1. Labels work best when used as a springboard for conversation in order to get to know a person better. They do not work well when we make assumptions and value judgments that are not inherently tied into the label's definition.

If you see a person wearing an A+ pin, don't assume s/he is a man-hater. Talk to that person and ask them about their views. Likewise, if you see someone at a gathering who isn't wearing an A+ pin, talk to that person as well. There is no reason to automatically assume that either person hates anybody. In fact, jumping to conclusions is lazy and a poor substitute for making the effort to get to know the other person.

2. When we question something, we use the scientific method to try to discover what's right. I see A+ as a scientific experiment - it will either stand or fall on its merits. If it is a kind and welcoming place for atheists of good will, I believe it will stand. If it chooses to promote misandry, control/censor people, and such, then I believe it will fail. As much as we might feel invested in the outcome, it's critical that we take a step back and let this experiment run its course.

3. The final thing I want to bring out is that I've seen people conflate "secular humanism" with "humanism" in order to make secular humanism far more different from atheism plus. I can't speak for every secular humanist group in the world but I will say that my understanding of secular humanism is that there are no gods to do good works so we must do them ourselves. I understand that many (if not most) secular humanist groups are atheistic at their core even though they may not use that word. I see such a tremendous overlap in A+ and secular humanism that, to me, they are practically the same thing in deed. But I understand the need for different wording: A+ wants to retain the word "atheist" and promote that as much as possible. Secular humanists often shy away from the atheist label so they can work more effectively with community and church groups to accomplish their goals. When it comes to religion, I consider myself an unapologetic atheist. When it comes to my philosophy or ethics, I call myself a secular humanist. I see no real difference but some do. To each his own, I say, but please don't consider me any less of an atheist because I sometimes choose to call myself a secular humanist.

And that brings me to my conclusion: let A+ do it's thing. Join the effort if you want and, if you don't, that's ok. I'm not going to treat you any differently and I'd hope that no one else would treat you badly. We benefit when all atheists of good will can come together at the table under many banners and work together toward our common goals. Our labels should not be an excuse for us to distrust each other; rather they can be our opportunity to get to know each other better.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Get Thee Behind Me, Jesus!

In today's local paper, Baptist preacher Ronnie Barefield encourages his readers to show more leadership at home, in the church, and in the community. This is mostly par for the course except for this one particular sentence which was a big ole slap in the face:

We need to elect good, moral, Christian, conservative, pro life, pro family state and national leaders to office.

Wait, what? Let's set aside the fact that no religious test is required for office. What does it mean to be "Christian" in America these days? We have two Christians running for the Presidency right now and lots of Baptists don't like either one or even consider them to be "real Christians." Christianity today can be anything from traditional Baptist to Mormon, Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, or even African Methodist Episcopal. You can't guarantee what baggage comes with the label "Christian" so this is far from a sure bet.

What about conservative? Does he mean fiscally or socially conservative? Does he mean "conservative" in a traditional sense or is he talking about this brand of far-right, religious neo-conservativism that is dragging us all down? Does he mean that liberals or libertarians can't be good and moral people?

What about pro-life? Are they the only good and moral people? Can they allow for abortions in case of rape or incest? Can they allow for IVF? Or must they follow the rigid, dogmatic narrative of the most rabidly forced birth among them?

What about pro-family? What kind of family? Can they allow for families that don't look like their own? Can they accept families with two dads, two moms, or any number of both? Or must they only define "family" in the narrow way that the Religious Right does?

Bro. Barefield would have done better to simply say "We need to elect good, moral state and national leaders to office." The problem is that he feels that he has the duty and the ability to define "good" and "moral" for us. I suspect if you took him to task for this, he'd claim that he was only saying what God said but this is untrue. The Bible doesn't talk about abortion or gay rights. It doesn't talk about conservative politics. And Jesus says to stay out of earthly politics and work for his kingdom instead. The most a Christian is admonished to do is pray for their earthly leaders and obey them as much as possible.

But hell, who needs to listen to Jesus when you can just listen to modern-day preachers instead?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Please Don't Be Sexist

To the two sweet-looking little ladies standing outside the store tonight:

Please don't be sexist.

I realize you grew up in a different time but I don't think that's a good reason to be prejudiced.

It was storming tonight and my husband and I had a cart with a couple of bags of food and four cases of diet soda. I said I'd bring the car around so I started walking through the rain to our car while Nathan waited with the cart.

While I was trudging through the rain to get to the car, you both turned around to my husband and curled your nose up disdainfully. The point wasn't lost on him but one of you went far enough to say sarcastically, "It must be nice having someone to bring the car around for you!" as if he were somehow morally deficient for allowing me to brave the rain and get the car.

Here's what you don't know: the car I was trudging through the rain to get was a rental car that, by contract, only I can drive. For Nathan to have driven it even through the parking lot would have been to violate our contract.

Here's what else you don't know: Nathan is a very kind man and a very good husband who respects me and goes way beyond the call of duty to care for me. He treated me very well before I became disabled and he takes very good care of me now. He does not enable me or treat me like I'm helpless; instead, he helps me manage my care and monitor my health.

And here's the last thing you don't know: I'm disabled - not dead. It's harder for me to do things than it used to be but I still do them. I'm not a delicate flower that will melt in the rain. I'm not a helpless female who can't drive. And I'm certainly not some entitled-minded bitch who thinks that men were put on this earth to serve me. I'm a woman and I can drive, make purchases, and do all manner of other things without input from a man.

Now, due to the nature of our relationship, Nathan and I act as partners. We consult each other about major decisions and we share the burden of bills. We don't tell each other what to do and we don't play mind games or indulge in power trips and pity parties. We are adults who choose to live together as equals. Where one is weak, the other is strong and vice versa.

So please stop judging my wonderful husband and stop judging me. Please don't be sexist.

Thank you,

To the readers: There's been a lot of talk about the sexism in the atheist community for a while now and we've seen how disgusting and reprehensible misogyny can be. I don't mean to detract from any of that. The purpose of this post is to show another, more insidious, side of sexism and to demonstrate how sexism is harmful to both men and women.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beat the Heat and Beyond

After 6 long weeks, we can finally say that DFFT, through the donations of many generous nonbelievers, have "Beat the Heat." What began as "an idea in the car in the driveway" morphed into a full kindness campaign that we hope will continue for many years.

At first, we thought this would be simple: we'd ask for donations, buy a couple of air conditioners, find out who needed them, and then provide them. Things turned out to be much more complicated.

First, we had zero luck getting any local help. Everybody claimed it was a great thing to do but nobody had any real desire to do the work. It seems people around here - even churches - are very skeptical about helping others who aren't of their own flock. Everybody talked a good game but when it came down to actually giving their money, they weren't willing. 

Second, we had a really hard time tracing the Community Action group that had the list of folks in need. The phone number in the original article was wrong and, when we got the right one, it was for a different group. We spent a lot of time calling all over northeast Mississippi trying desperately to find out which organization could help us. When we finally found Community Action, we took the time to vet them. They are part of a government program to help elderly, disabled, and low income families. They screen people to prevent fraud and, because they are federally funded, they do not discriminate against any person for race, religion, etc. They told us that they have lots of requests because the local Good Samaritan and Salvation Army don't provide enough help. By this time, we were thoroughly unsurprised.

There was a light at the end of this long tunnel, however. We ended up with a ton more money than we had thought we would thanks to the Friendly Atheist and his wonderful community. These people came out of the woodwork to donate to the cause and, because of their efforts, we were able to buy seven air conditions instead of just one or two. To Hemant and his readers, we thank you so much for trusting us to make the lives of the poor and elderly just a little bit better.

Here are the seven brand new air conditioners we purchased with the donated funds:

We had some money left over so we decided to go shopping and see what else we could put together for donation. This is what we found:

It may not look like much, but this is enough file folders, notebooks, pencils, and hand sanitizer for 40 kids. There are also about 20 rulers in this pack. No child should have to start school without the basic stuff! 

We still had money left over after we grabbed every notebook and folder off those shelves so we went to another store and found some discount medical supplies. We decided to make some little first aid kits.

Just some basics here: alcohol, band-aids, aspirin, antibiotic ointment, and some OTC allergy relief. Not perfect but just what a Mississippian needs going into school and flu season!

So here's the financial breakdown of this campaign:

We're so pleased with how this campaign went that we want to do more of this. And that brings me to some really great news: this campaign has given birth to the Northeast Mississippi Secular Humanist Association (NEMSHA). We are in our infancy stage with only 4 members right now but we want to continue this charitable work in our area and to promote education and secular values. If you live in the Northeast Mississippi area and are interested in participating, please send an email to

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Get the Lead Out, Alex Jones

I listened to 5 minutes of Alex Jones on the radio last night - 5 precious minutes that I will never get back. I don't know which "expert" he was talking with but I knew as soon as he trotted out the old "Fluoride lowers your IQ" study, that this guy was scientifically illiterate.

As if to confirm my hypothesis, this "expert" then started talking about how we need "a little" arsenic and lead in our bodies. He finished up this dangerous nonsense with the statement, "Our DNA is made of lead."

Lead is Pb on the Element Table. Here's a photo of it on the chart:


Now, here is a picture of DNA. See if you can spot the Pb in there:

Image: Scientific Psychic
Nope, I couldn't either. Whoever that guy was doesn't know diddly squat about biochemistry. Furthermore, this is his 3-step plan to cure sickness. When you contract an illness, do these things:

1.) Fire your doctor.
2.) Sign up for his website/newsletter.
3.) Buy their natural supplements 

Why do this? Because "healing is easy," folks. You don't need any science. Just pop some quacko vitamins and everything will be o-tay.

I am not going to sit here and claim that the pharmaceutical companies are saints. We know they can be very corrupt and, at times, even unsafe. But if you think quackery is a good alternative to science, you're just wrong. It's bad enough that quacks make statements that are scientifically wrong but then they want to sell your their overpriced, unregulated shit on top of that. You cannot guarantee the content or purity of anything that is not FDA approved: homeopathic remedies are mostly just sugar water and those vitamins you take could have any level of any substance in them and you'd never know until it started making you sick.

It's great to look for things that you can do to naturally improve your health (like moderate diets and exercise) but you're taking a huge risk with this kind of quackery - an industry that has so little regard for truth that they will even tell you that your DNA is made of lead in order to sell a subscription and some pills.

Let the buyer beware indeed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Doctor Who Is My God

One of the last, great tenets that Christianity doggedly holds onto is the idea that all morality must come from God. Far better writers than I have demolished this notion but I want to speak to the idea myself. You see, my tongue seems to have gotten lodged in my cheek today and my snark factor is high. That said, I have a confession to make to all theists: my morality does indeed come from God...and Doctor Who is my God.

I wish to share my faith with you today which is based on my own version of "The Ten Whomandments" and is backed with the authority of 35 years of study and devotion. It goes a little something like this:

***spoilers ahead***

1. Never resort to violence first... How many times have we seen the Brigadier pull out a gun only to be told, "This isn't the way."? How many times have we seen the Doctor refuse to carry a firearm, much less use it. As he says in The Hand of Fear, "I think we should try much older weapons...speech, diplomacy...conversation." We don't have to tackle everyone and everything in life with all our guns blazing. Many times the simple, gentle approach is enough. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

2. ...but be prepared to make tough choices when all else fails. No matter how strong our morals or high-minded our purpose, some people will not work with us and will, in fact, do whatever they can to tear us down. The Tenth Doctor made a point of always giving the bad guys the option to stop hurting people and leave but he was prepared to deal with them when they refused. It's a sad fact but some people can't be reasoned with and they won't stop their destructive behavior. When this happens, we must make tough choices and be ready to accept the consequences of those decisions. Dealing harshly with others should never rest lightly on our shoulders.

3. The ends don't justify the means. We can become the monsters we hate. In Genesis of the Daleks, the Doctor had the option to destroy the Daleks before they became a widespread menace. He could not do it. If he committed genocide, he would have been a mass murderer just like them. Likewise, in Survival, he lamented his struggle with the Master saying, "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!" This was literally true but holds metaphorically too - when we choose the methods of our enemies, we become our enemies. What's the point of eliminating a threat if, in the process, we become just as vicious and corrupt?

4. Emotion is not a weakness. The Cybermen taunted the Doctor in almost every episode for having emotions that would not allow him to see his companions suffer. Yet the Doctor always maintained that his emotions were not weakness but rather a strength that made life worth living. In Earthshock he says, "For some people, small, beautiful events is what life is all about." It would be tempting for those of us with impaired emotions to buy into the Cybermen's idea that our feelings are a liability because they cripple us and make us vulnerable. Certainly, many of us have felt vulnerable or been manipulated because of our emotions. But the Doctor is right - emotion is what makes us human and gives us such wonderful things as love, compassion, and motivation. Our capacity for altruism and our ability to empathize help us form relationships deeper than any other animal could conceive of.

5. You can't save everybody. I love the Doctor's conviction that, "Nobody dies today!" It would be wonderful if we could save the world and always make things right. But the real world isn't like that. Not even the Doctor can always assure a perfect outcome. Over his life he has lost a few companions: Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Rory Williams (although he came back to life) but no loss was probably more devastating than that of Adric. We're so used to seeing our heroes always save the day so it was quite a shock to see the Doctor watching helplessly and in horror as the Earthshock freighter collided with Earth taking Adric with it. As the credits rolled in silence against the backdrop of his broken star, I realized that no one is immune to suffering and death and no one can save us all. No matter how hard we try, we can't fix everything and we can't fix everyone. Sometimes decisions have consequences and those are out of our hands.

6. It's ok to be different. The Doctor has encountered all shapes, sizes, colors, and kinds of creatures in his travels and he tends to treat them all with respect. Whatever stance he takes is based on their actions and not on their particular race. Likewise, he treats our beloved bi-sexual Captain Jack Harkness the same as he treats anyone else. He even allows Jack to hug him and give him a kiss without going nuts about it. The Doctor is secure in his identity and has no need to torment others simply for being different.

7. There is always a rational explanation. Magic is high-tech science, gods are powerful aliens. The devil - well, we don't really know what that thing in The Satan Pit is but it's bound to make sense one day. In Robots of Death, the Doctor quips, "Nothing is inexplicable, only unexplained." This attitude keeps us searching for answers in a world where answers aren't always easy to come by. And it reminds us that the authoritative, "easy" answers we've been given may not always be the right ones. Rather than have the arrogance of one who thinks he has all the answers, it's far better to admit that we really know only a little about our world and we will unapologetically continue to search for the truth.

8. Megalomania sucks. There is no shortage of creatures out there who want to "rule the universe" though I suspect most of them wouldn't know what to do with it if they had it. Lust for power tends to become an uncontrollable, consuming force whether one wishes to dominate a galaxy or just a conversation. Take Davros for example: his quest for power scarred him both inside and out. Not only did he lose his eyes, legs, and one hand but he also lost his capacity for empathy and genuine relationships. He became dependent on "lesser" creatures and, ultimately, on his own creation (the Daleks) who despised him. Megalomania might look cool on TV for a while but it has ugly consequences. If you want to control everyone in your home, your workplace, or your community then be prepared. People may fear you but they won't love you. They won't even really respect you. And there will always be those who are looking for your weakness and will take you down given the slightest opportunity. Piss off enough people and it's guaranteed that you won't be able to hold that power for long no matter how smart you are or how well you've done for yourself. Nobody likes a control freak.

9. Everyone has value. In The End of Time, the Doctor has to make a choice: he can surrender his life to save an old man or he can walk away and just let the guy die. He rages against this choice saying, "...look at you, not remotely important...but me? I could do so much more! So much more! But this is what I get. My reward." In a moment of self-awareness, he realizes that he has gone too far, he's lost a vital part of himself to his own pain and fury. He is not the man he thought he was. But here was one simple human who needed help...a person of value. The Doctor sacrifices himself to save this man saying, "Wilfred, it's my honor..." We likely won't ever be called on to give our lives for another person but what if we took the time to try to see the value in others? What if we struggled with our own faults before mindlessly searching them out elsewhere? What if our honor depends on being true to our principles, especially when it's no longer convenient?

10. Life can be fun no matter your destination. Most of us are not where we want to be and many of us will never get to see and do the things we've dreamed about. But that's ok. The Doctor reminds us in Kinda that, "...there's always something to see if you keep your eyes open." It's just as well that he holds to this philosophy because we know he rarely ends up where he plans. That's just part of the fun for him, though. No matter where he goes or who he travels with, he knows he will find excitement and adventure because his mind is open to new possibilities. Some of us don't get to travel too far but the world around us holds more mystery than we can possibly comprehend.  Don't be afraid to explore your reality. You don't have to understand it all in order to enjoy it. Let life knock your socks off every once in a while! Be amazed and share that with a friend.

Why are you still here? The universe is waiting!

*This post is reprinted from my old blog in its entirety and, of course, with my permission.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Invitation to All Persecuted Mississippi Christians

I read today's letter to the Daily Corinithian with great interest. Donny H. Davis of Rienzi laments the divisions between Christian denominations and encourages all Christians to band together against "the Enemy." This isn't altogether odd except that when he says "enemy," he isn't just talking about Ol' Nick (Satan). He clearly describes two kinds of enemies who are taking over America and persecuting Christians:

1. Those who "seek to destroy Christianity."

2. The government who has sided with #1.

According to Davis, anyone who practices a different religion from Christianity is an anti-christ and, therefore, an enemy of Christians. That means the American government and every single American who dares not to be Christian is an anti-christ and an enemy. Strong language, eh? Davis fears that a day is coming where Christians will be thrown into American prisons if they don't band together now and ... what exactly he hopes to accomplish is a thing of my nightmares, I guess.

So here's my open invitation to the poor persecuted Christians of Mississippi:

Please post comments here and tell us about the time you were fined or jailed for going to church. Tell us about the time your church was fire-bombed or some non-Christian came in and started shooting. Tell us how federal agents burst into your home and arrested you for praying. Tell us how groups of vigilante atheists, Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists dragged you out of your house and beat you in front of your wife and kids. Tell us how you were denied a job or refused a promotion because you dared to admit that you're a Christian. Tell us how vandals spray painted graffiti on your house and broke out the windows because your religion is so unpopular. Tell us about all the death threats you've received because you had to file a lawsuit preventing the local school from forcing your kid to face east and pray toward Mecca. Tell us your stories.

Oh wait, you can't do that because you're all lying sacks of whining crap. You have an undeniable position of privilege and power in the United States, especially in the South. You've never had to worry about anything on a Sunday more than whether or not there would be fresh food still out on the buffet if the preacher went a little over noon. You've been petted and pampered by our culture with undeserved deference, tax breaks, and boons yet you dare to call yourself persecuted.

Your brothers and sisters overseas who are busting their asses to spread the gospel put you to shame. They are in foreign countries suffering from disease, hiding in basements to study the Bible, and running from bombs yet you think that somehow you should get to play the martyr instead. You're a real piece of work and your attitude disgusts me.

We non-Christians don't want to take over the world and wipe out Christianity. We just want equal rights to practice our beliefs (or not practice any belief). We want equality - not superiority. But I suspect on some level you already know that. You just can't stand the idea of living in a world where not everyone is just like you.

So for all the Donny Davises of the world, listen up: the next time you want to cry persecution and play the martyr, take a look at the picture up there of that little girl. She was burned in a fire-bombing because she's a Christian. What the fuck has happened to you lately?