An Unabashed Merry Christmas

I have no reservations about saying “Merry Christmas” to people or having it said to me. The truth is, a majority of the population in this country celebrates Christmas. Even if someone doesn’t celebrate it they’re aware that this time of year marks the celebration of the major holiday known as Christmas. Saying “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” is really interchangeable…unless you’re a hardcore, right-wing conservative Christian (also known as “Fox News host”). To me, “Merry Christmas” has become as generic as “Kleenex.”

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Family Ties

One thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they’re all about family.  Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS).  For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone’s keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo.  I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I’ve seen.  Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I’ve seen are religious as well so it’s not as though they have a corner on the market.  I’m just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.

As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone’s keeping the faith.  They don’t say, “The family that prays together stays together” for no reason.  It’s literally true.  I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast.  My family’s treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.

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Like Fish in a Barrel

Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad (you can click the link if you haven’t seen it; I refuse to embed it into my blog) has been getting a lot of negative press lately.  I’ve been fuming about just how incredibly stupid the guy is for the last couple of days but haven’t as yet done a whole lot of commentary on the thing.  I wanted to make a YouTube video in response but I didn’t get around to it and it doesn’t seem like it would be timely and relevant anymore.  Then again, it’s such a timeless tragedy that people like Perry even have a voice in politics I may still make that video.  For now, I’ll devote a few minutes to a blog post dedicated to all of the “duh” in this ad.  Luckily, it’s so easy I won’t even have to strain myself.

Rick perry
"I'm Rick Perry, and I'm an ignorant piece of shit."
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Lowering the Bar

Whenhen I was a Christian it seemed like everything I saw pointed to the truth of god’s existence.  I had the Bible, my parents’ word, my Sunday School teachers and preachers, any number of books and pamphlets, and nature itself bolstering my faith.  I felt like I had good reason to believe what I did and I didn’t even have to look for evidence: everything was evidence!

That is, until I actually started examining my beliefs and my reasons for holding them.  What I found was not that the evidence for god was strong, but that I was willing to accept pretty much anything as evidence so long as it adhered to my preconceptions.  Those things that didn’t conform to my beliefs were simply ignored without any thought at all.

Christian evidence
Christian? Evidence? Hmmm.
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Dear Catholic League

JT Eberhard recently posted a story about an “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. I, like many others, think this is a great idea! I’d love to have the Catholic Church send a few unsuspecting saps my way to try to justify the behavior and beliefs of the Catholic Church, its clergy, and the whole of Christianity. If you’re an atheist and you want to be adopted by the Catholic Church, you can fill out this contact form and let them know.

Come at me, bro
Seriously, Bring It!

Here’s my invitation:

Dear sirs,

I recently got wind of the “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue and want to congratulate you on such a wonderful idea! As an atheist activist myself, I’d like to let you know that I’m effectively orphaned from gods and as such up for adoption. Since no gods have contacted me as yet, I avail myself to humans to rescue me from my spiritual broken home and make me feel wanted again.

You see, I’ve personally been guilty of anti-Catholic bias. More accurately, I’m biased against all untestable, unfalsifiable claims to the supernatural and the people in leadership positions who exploit the gullibility of other human beings. It’s not just Catholicism, if you want to know the truth. It’s all forms of manipulation, greed, abuse, oppression, ignorance, violence, intolerance, and bigotry. It’s a bias against people who enable others to harm children by looking the other way. It’s a bias against those who avoid responsibility for their actions by claiming that a cosmic “good guy” forgives them unconditionally so long as they apologize telepathically. I’m most certainly biased and I think the only way for you to show me the light is to adopt me and put some real time and effort into helping me see exactly why all of this is OK. You certainly have your work cut out for you.

I suppose the worst that could happen is that I talk some sense into whomever you send my way and you lose a tither. In that case, you shouldn’t look at it so much as the Church losing money but as the world gaining one more rational, responsible, compassionate human being. I said before that your idea is wonderful and I mean it. Send us some Catholics! We love the challenge.

You can reach me any time at jon(at)willisweb(dot)com or via my contact form on The Wayward Willis, http://willisweb.com.

Yours truly,
Jon

If they get back to me (their contact form says they have a high volume of requests so they may not answer all e-mails), I’ll most certainly be posting up the results here. I doubt anything will come of this because the religious community seems to be all talk and no action but you’ll hear it here first. Stay tuned!

The “War” on Christmas Begins Anew

Every single year, without fail, controversy will brew and boil over regarding the Christian-hijacked Winter Solstice celebration known as Christmas.  You might ask what kind of petty, childish, arrogant group of non-believers would subject our good, kind, religious society to such ridiculous outbursts of intolerance and hatred.  Maybe you wouldn’t.  Regardless, it may or may not surprise you to know that it’s the religious people themselves who continue to stir this pot and we irreligious people can either react or let them fight it out among themselves.  I choose to react, but only in a limited capacity.  I’ll comment on the religious mindset and attempt to dispel any myths being spread about how I feel toward Christmas.

This year, Ben Stein has written an essay detailing the problem with not saying, “Merry Christmas.”  You might think that not saying something is harmless.  I know I do.  However, Mr. Stein makes it perfectly clear that not greeting people with a, “Merry Christmas” is directly tied to the downfall of society and the destruction of this country.  Let’s begin.

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Skepticon IV: LIVE BLOGGING!

Well, the awesome first day has now come to an end. Tonight is a night of drinking and revelry and tomorrow is another day of godlessness. It’s a great weekend to be an atheist!!

-Jon
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Revival! Goddamn!!
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7:55 PM
Ready for Brother Sam’s Revival!! I love Sam Singleton and always try to get myself to any social event where he’ll be.
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PZ and me (I’ve obviously gained some weight). He’s a very approachable scientist and a very friendly guy.
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PZ looking for Rebecca Watson for a special presentation because of the shit she’s been taking online.
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7:00 PM
Next up, PZ Myers! I always love hearing him speak and am looking forward to a more science-driven talk. What can I say? I love learning!
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6:30 PM
Rebecca Watson is talking about the religious right’s war against women. Her facts on reproductive health and education are amazing. I came back from dinner too late, unfortunately, but she’s really rocking it. I’m glad I didn’t miss her talk!
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Greta!!! That woman just hits home runs every time. Her talk was “Why are you atheists so angry?”
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4:10 PM
Greta Christina is up next. She’s awesome!!
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3:30 PM
I officially don’t like Julia Galef’s talk about rationality and emotions. It’s not that the information isn’t accurate or useful, it’s just that she’s difficult to follow and her voice is wearing on my ears.
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2:00 PM
Dan Barker has taken the stage to talk about his experiences as a pastor who lost his faith and had to eventually come out as an atheist to stop lying to people. He just told an excellent story about how Christianity solves a problem that Christianity creates:

Man: Good news, folks!
Passersby: What’s that?
Man: You don’t have to go into my basement!
Passersby: Huh??
Man: Yeah, I had built a torture chamber down there and I was going to put you guys down there to do all kinds of nasty things, but it’s OK now! I sent my son down there instead so now I’m satisfied and don’t need to torture you anymore.

Given this scenario (which Christians will recognize as their deity’s salvation plan) would you then fall down and kiss the man’s feet for “saving” you? Honestly.
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My buddy Frank showed up just before the panel discussion! I’m bringing new heathens into the movement. 😀
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1:00 PM
After a delicious Jimmy John’s BLT for lunch, we’re getting ready for a panel discussion on how non-believers address and deal with death. This should actually be really good.

Oh, and as a sidenote, Brother Sam Singleton recognizes me on sight! That’s freaking awesome.
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10:50 AM
I have my picture taken with David Silverman by JT Eberhard. Everyone here is awesome!
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David Silverman took the stage first to talk about what atheism is/isn’t. Great speaker with good presence. He’s a fantastic representative.
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10:05 AM
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9:45 AM
The conference is HUGE this year! Last year there was a really good turnout and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people but this year the registration table lines are overflowing into the street. It’s so awesome to see so many freethinkers banding together in Springfield.

Of course, Christian protesters and proselytizers have showed up at the doors to try and save attendees. When we walked up to the theatre, a debate was going on about god’s nature. Good stuff.
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9:00 AM
It’s that time of year again! The Midwest is again host to the largest skeptic and non-believer conference in the area. I’ll be live-blogging for two days, so check back here hourly for the scoop!

Who Makes the Rules?

I was always taught as a child that god was in charge.  He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law.  He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer.  God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted.  There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do.  Then I read the Bible.

At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means.  It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he’s constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that’s just way too complex to work.  Here are some examples:

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Respect for Respect’s Sake

I’ve been in a number of debates in person and online where emotions flared and the conversation eventually boiled down to a variant of the following:

Why can’t you just respect a person’s beliefs?

Here’s the problem with that: not all beliefs are created equal and not all are worthy of respect.  The person saying the above is usually emotionally invested in the beliefs I’ve questioned and is usually unable to present any rational reason for a person holding those beliefs in the first place.  What they’re really saying is, “Since I can’t defend my untenable beliefs I really wish you would leave them alone so I don’t feel like I have to!”

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