If you’ve got several spare hours, I’d recommend watching Steve Shives’ series “An Atheist Reads The Case for Christ” and “An Atheist Reads I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist”. They’re great deconstructions of a couple of books that I and many other atheists often have thrown in our faces as ‘good’ arguments for Christianity.
In case you haven’t seen it before, The Atheist Experience is a live call-in talk show hosted by The Atheist Community of Austin. The hosts take calls from theists and atheists alike, and the discussions are occasionally really good. The show is broadcast live on public access in Austin, Texas and over the internet on Ustream. For example, during today’s show, a Christian called in to challenge the hosts on whether or not an objective morality was possible without a god. The conversation was pretty amazing. Watch it for yourself and see!
Until last Tuesday, atheists had precisely one out-of-the-closet representative in Congress: Representative Pete Stark of California’s 13th district.
In the run-up to the election, there was excitement from atheist blogs and from groups like the Secular Coalition for America about Kyrsten Sinema, who (it was believed) was an openly-bisexual, openly non-theistic candidate. The news hit big blogs like the Huffington Post, and was mentioned in the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section.
There’s just one hitch: She’s not an atheist.
Father Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest, wrote a rather ridiculous screed against atheists on his blog. When atheists began to respond to him and challenge his bigotry, he deleted the post and replaced it with another one where he threw a whiny tantrum about how the atheist trolls were being mean to him. When people continued to challenge him, he deleted that post as well, hoping it would all fade away.
Well, it won’t. This is the internet.
It’s Patriots’ Day, so I just wanted to say this.
Get all the political slogans out of the way. Get rid of the hot-button issues that push our emotional buttons and keep us from looking at the deeper long-term problems. Get to the core of it all, and I think most Americans agree that we’re in a bad situation and we need to find a way to get out of it. We may disagree about the fundamentals of how to do that, but that doesn’t make the other side evil.
We’re all human beings. We’re all flawed. We’re all often quite wrong, even if we’re too stubborn to admit it. And we all have ideas to bring to the table.
Somehow, compromise has become a dirty word in American politics. Those at either of the extreme ends of the liberal/conservative spectrum have painted the other side as evil, bigoted, hate-filled, know-nothings.
I’m a liberal. My heart is constantly bleeding, and I’m not ashamed of it. But this doesn’t mean that I think everyone who disagrees with me is the scum of the earth. It means that I have a set of values that differs from those of other people. When I discuss important issues with conservatives, I can understand how their positions derive from their values. We may disagree, but I don’t think they’re (necessarily) irrational or small-minded simply for disagreeing with me.
At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I think that this is the sort of attitude that our current political dialogue sorely needs. The polarity of our parties is not only hurting political discourse in our country; it’s pushing people further and further to the ends of the spectrum, and that can only have dire consequences for our future.
If this democratic republic is to long survive, we must return to a place where we can stop trying to prove how liberal or conservative we all are, and instead focus on how each one of us, as Americans, can help us come together to restore our faded greatness to what it once was. For better or for worse, we are the descendants of a nation of rebels who overturned the most powerful empire the world had seen in centuries. Our forefathers foresaw many of the challenges we’ve faced thus far, but they had faith that those who followed them would maintain a healthy body politic with a genuine interest in the affairs of state, and in doing so would keep the principle of freedom alive. We owe it to them, and to all who have fought and died for this ideal, to give our all toward keeping the American political system vital, focused, motivated, and sane.
This is totally unrelated to atheism, but it’s related to one of my hobbies… so shut up, I’m going to talk about it. Give me my nerd space.
A local public school has recently attracted the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation for teaching a song that made explicit mentions of ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ to elementary-aged kids. As the article mentions, previous case law has specifically identified the song, “Thank You for The World So Sweet,” as being a prayer. This should really be an open-and-shut case.
Atheist blogger Justin Vacula is in a bit of a quandary.
You see, Justin recently wrote a post about his dissention from Amy Davis Roth’s (SurlyAmy’s) position on anti-harassment policies at skeptical/atheist conventions. Whether or not you agree with either of them isn’t really the point of this post; I don’t know enough about the whole discussion to know what the situation is here. But that’s completely irrelevant.
From the folks over at ThinkProgress – Delhi Charter School in Delhi, Louisiana has a serious problem with pregnant students. That’s not to say that there’s an epidemic of teen pregnancy at the school; rather, they had a policy in place which forced girls to submit to a pregnancy test on demand, and if the test was positive or the girls refused to take the test, they were ejected from the school.
Fascinating and terrifying stuff: “Can Religion Justify Bullying Children?” (a talk by Sean Faircloth.) If you’ve got a spare half hour or so, I highly recommend giving this a watch. Never let it be said that fundamentalist Christianity isn’t a threat to nonbelievers or believers of other stripes.