Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I can't believe it's been 10 years since 9/11! The wound feels so fresh... or at the very least unhealed and festering. In the fall of 2000 I went to New York City for the first time in order to audition for the Juilliard School of Music. I distinctly remember my first view of the city as we drove in. Miles before you see anything else, you see the twin towers rising above all of the other buildings. They were beautiful, and as a small town boy from the south I was in total awe. That's when I started my love affair with New York City.

A year later, I was a freshman at Temple University in Philadelphia. I was coming back from class when I saw two girls crying in the lobby of the dorm. They had the TV on and I saw the smoking towers on the news. I went up to my room and watched it all unfold. It was horrifying. It was devastating, and I was scared.

Four weeks later I was on a bus up to New York City to see a Broadway show. As the city came into view I was shocked by the new skyline. It's one thing to see it on TV, but another to see the stark difference in person. I'll never forget what happened while I was in the city.

We had some time to walk around before the show, so I headed into Times Square which was exceptionally crowded that day. People in New York always have somewhere to go, and they need to get there quick! That day was no exception, despite the large crowd. Over the drone of voices and traffic I heard a loud horn. When I turned and looked I saw a fire truck coming down the road. There was no emergency, and all of the guys were hanging out of the windows and off the back of the truck.

Right there in the middle of Times Square, every single person stopped. For that moment, no one had anywhere to go. Every person faced the fire truck and started clapping. Then cheering. As the firetruck drove down the road all of the people, in true New York style, went back to their business as if nothing happened. But for me, something huge happened. I witnessed the spirit of New York and the spirit of this country. It was so touching that I felt my lip quiver as I started walking again.

Since that day, NYC has held a very special place in my life. I've been back many times and always remember the day I saw the heroes ride through Times Square. I hope the energy that was unleashed on 9/11/01 never dies away. I hope we, as Americans, use that energy in a positive way. I hope that we look at our neighbors with kindness, and I hope we never take a single day of this life for granted. We owe that to the 3,000 people who died that day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The 9/11 Memorial Cross

Have you ever wished for someone to die? Have you ever prayed that God would kill an entire group of people? Have you ever wanted to publicly crucify someone based on their beliefs?

Take a look at these comments that "Christian" readers made on a recent news article:

Now, what in the world would elicit such a hate-fueled response from the religious right? The American Atheist Group has received countless emails, phone calls, and letters similar to the messages above.

So, what did they do? Did they commit some kind of mass murder? Did they harm children?

No. It all has to do with this 'cross' (cross bar found in the rubble during clean-up) at the World Trade Center Memorial.

When this huge cross went on display at the memorial, the American Atheists Group asked if they could also provide a statue to represent the 1,000 non-Christians (500 Jewish / 500 non-religious) that perished on 9/11.

The request was declined and the American Atheists were told that the cross represented 'Comfort for ALL'. Really? Do Christians find comfort in a statue of Buddha? Similarly, as an atheist, I find no comfort in the display of a cross (especially since religious extremist caused the towers to fall in the first place).

The American Atheist Group decided to sue, asking that all religions/non-religions be represented equally - or - the cross should be removed from the memorial and relocated to the 9/11 museum where various religious artifacts are on display.

Now, according to some 'Christians', I personally need to be shot in the head and sent to hell for the rest of eternity. That doesn't seem fair.

If your family member died in 9/11, wouldn't you want to see their beliefs represented like all of the others? No one wants to be forgotten and no one should be.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How Do You Know It's 3.75 Million Years Old? Where you there?

For today, I thought I would bring over one of my favorite posts from PZ Myers blog. This guy is a great atheist / scientist / blogger. Now, anyone that reads my blog knows how strongly I feel about childhood religious indoctrination (aka CHILD ABUSE!)

Well, a little girl named Emma B. was instructed what to say when a person of science presented a theory contrary to the Bible. I'm sure her parents and 'religious family' wanted her to be verbally armed against the lies of an atheist heathen, should she encounter one.

I went to a NASA display of a moon rock and a lady said, "This Moon-rock is 3.75 billion years old!" Guess what I asked for the first time ever?

"Um, may I ask a question?"

And she said, "Of course."

I said, in my most polite voice, "Were you there?"

Love, Emma B

PZ Myers, a father and a scientist saw this 'innocent' question for what it really was and decided to write Emma B a letter (knowing, of course, she would never be allowed to read it). I think his response is inspiring, heartfelt, and honest. A child deserves more than an "it's right because I said so" approach to life's questions. His response is long, but worth reading.

Dear Emma;

I read your account of seeing a 3.75 billion year old moon rock, and how you asked the person displaying it "Were you there?", the question that Ken Ham taught you to ask scientists. I'm glad you were asking questions — that's what scientists are supposed to do — but I have to explain to you that that wasn't a very good question, and that Ken Ham is a poor teacher. There are better questions you could have asked.

One serious problem with the "Were you there?" question is that it is not very sincere. You knew the answer already! You knew that woman had not been to the moon, and you definitely knew that she had not been around to see the rock forming 3.75 billion years ago. You knew the only answer she could give was "no," which is not very informative.

Another problem is that if we can only trust what we have seen with our own two eyes in our short lives, then there's very little we can know at all. You probably know that there are penguins in Antarctica, and that the Civil War was fought in the 1860s, and that there are fish swimming deep in the ocean, and you also believe that Jesus was crucified two thousand years ago, but if I asked you "Were you there?" about each of those facts, you'd also have to answer "no" to each one. Does that mean they are all false?

Of course not. You know those things because you have other kinds of evidence. There are photographs and movies of penguins and fish, there are documents from the time of the Civil War, as well as the fact that in many places you can still find old bullets and cannon balls buried in the ground from the time of the war, and you have a book, the Bible, that tells stories about Jesus. You have evidence other than that you personally witnessed something.

This is important because we live in a big ol' beautiful world, far older than your 9 years, and there's so much to learn about it — far more than you'll ever be able to see for yourself. There's a gigantic universe beyond South Carolina, and while you probably won't ever visit a distant star or go inside a cell, there are instruments we can use to see farther and deeper than your eyes can go, and there are books that describe all kinds of wonders. Don't close yourself off to them simply because you weren't there.

I'd like to teach you a different easy question, one that is far, far more useful than Ken Ham's silly "Were you there?" The question you can always ask is, "How do you know that?"

Right away, you should be able to see the difference. You already knew the answer to the "Were you there?" question, but you don't know the answer to the "How do you know that?" question. That means the person answering it will tell you something you don't know, and you will learn something new. And that is the coolest thing ever.

You could have asked the lady at the exhibit, "How do you know that moon rock is 3.75 billion years old?", and she would have explained it to you. Maybe you would disagree with her; maybe you'd think there's a better answer; maybe you'd still want to believe Ken Ham, who is not a scientist; but the important thing is that you'd have learned why she thought the rock was that old, and why scientists have said that it is that old, and how they worked out the age, even if they weren't there. And you'd be a little bit more knowledgeable today.

I'll assume you're actually interested in knowing how they figured out the age of the rock, so I'll try to explain it to you.

The technique scientists use is called radiometric dating. It uses the fact that some radioactive elements slowly fall apart, turning into other elements. For instance, a radioactive isotope of potassium will decay over time into an isotope of another element, argon.

One way to think of it is that it's like an hourglass. You know how they work: you start with all the sand in the top half of the hourglass, and it slowly trickles into the bottom half. If you see an hourglass with all the sand at the top and none at the bottom, you know it was recently flipped over. If you see one with half the sand in the top, and half in the bottom, you know it's about halfway through the time it will run. And if you look at how quickly the sand moves through the neck of the hourglass, you could even figure out how long until it all runs out.

In radiometric dating, the scientists are looking at how far along all the radioactive potassium is in the process of turning into argon. The amount of potassium is like the amount of sand in the top half of the hourglass, while the amount of argon is like the amount in the bottom half. By measuring the relative amounts of the two elements, and by measuring how fast radioactive potassium turns into argon, we can figure out how long it's been since the rock solidified.

It takes a very long time for the decay to occur. It takes 1 and a quarter billion years for half the potassium to turn into argon. When they measured those elements in the moon rocks, they found that the radiometric hourglass had mostly run out, so they knew that it was very, very old.

Scientists double-check everything. They also looked at other elements, like how quickly uranium turns into lead, or rubidium into strontium, and they all agree on the date, even though these are decay processes that run at different rates. All the radiometric hourglasses they've used give the same answer: 3.75 billion years. None of them say 6,000 years.

I think you're off to a great start — being brave enough to ask older people to explain themselves is exactly what you need to do to learn more and more, and open up the whole new exciting world of science for yourself. But that means you have to ask good questions to get good answers so that you will learn more.

Don't use Ken Ham's bad question, and most importantly, don't pay attention to Ken Ham's bad answers. There's a wealth of wonderful truths that reveal so much more about our universe out there, and you do not want to close your eyes to them. Maybe someday you could be a woman who does go to the moon and sees the rocks there, or a geologist who sees how rocks erode and form here on earth, or the biologist who observes life in exotic parts of the world…but you won't achieve any of those things if you limit your mind to the dogma of Answers in Genesis.

Best wishes for future learning,

PZ Myers

I'm a Bad Blog-Daddy!

I feel like a bad blog-daddy! I've left my poor blog-child just sitting here with no attention or love. Hopefully no one called social services on me!

Sadly, I had to sacrifice a few things (this blog included) so that I could do some travel for work and spend the remaining time with my family. I can't stand when people miss out on life because they are tied to their phone / computer so I made a conscience effort to spend no time online while my kids are awake.

Therefore, I usually write when I have some downtime at work - which I've not had in a long time. I've been everywhere from the Pacific to the Atlantic in the last few weeks and spent an ungodly amount of time sitting in airports.

As luck has it, my travel schedule is finally starting to slow down and I plan to write lots of fun new posts for my blog. Be sure to stay tuned :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tim Pawlenty is a Christian... NOW Will You Vote for Him?

Oh Tim Pawlenty.

I find it amusing that you release a 6 minute video detailing your evangelical religious background in order to harness votes from the conservative religious voters... in a secular government.

I think this is a sad attempt to wrangle votes from Michele Bachmann, who's having a sudden surge of support from the ultra-conservative voters.

I really don't care if you're a Christian, evangelical, whatever - you can do what you want to on your own time in your own home, but do not drag YOUR God into OUR Government. Your religion does NOT trump my freedoms as an American.

In a positive republican note (oxymoron?) Mitt Romney refused to sign the vile Pro-Marriage Pledge.

And as if she were reading my Blog, Rachel Maddow covered Rick Perry and his 'day of prayer and fasting' on her show last night. I have to say, she did a great job showing off the crazies :)

You can watch the video HERE

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Kid's Reaction to a Gay Couple

Okay people, take note! This is how a child reacts to meeting a gay couple for the first time. It is very honest and you can tell that he is really excited yet practically indifferent.

This is the type of reaction a child has on their own, without the corruption of politics, parenting, and religion.

I believe that humans are born with open minds. As parents, it is our job to keep those minds open throughout their lives. This kid wasn't traumatized or 'converted' by meeting a gay couple. He was happy to have a new experience... to meet new people. What's so wrong with that?

"so that means you love each other? You're much alike... I'm going to play ping-pong now"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rick Perry and "The Response"

TX Governor Rick Perry is hosting a day of prayer and fasting in Houston this August. This government official decided that prayer was the best way to fix the nation's 'spiritual problems'. (to me it seems the nation's 'spritual problems' come from the spritual people... but that's just me)

In this video you can see Governor Perry giving his speech about 'The Response' day of prayer and fasting. In addition, several of his followers were added to the video to give you an idea of the people supporting his request.

*warning* the people in this video are homophobic, racist, anti-semitic, anti-equality and fueled by pure hate.

I find it sad that the Governor can blatantly ignore the First Amendment and get away with this! It is also a showy display and very un-christian:

But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly. Matthew 6:6

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some Random Updates From My Delayed Plane

Well, I'm stuck on a plane so I thought I would blog a bit. Delays CAN be constructive :)

I just saw on the FFRF website that the "Good Without God" billboard in OH was removed for the second time this week. First it was removed because a church complained. It was moved to a new location and now a 'business owner' has complained. Are religious people so worried about people turning away from God that they fear a harmless billboard stating a simple truth. Come On!

Next, have you heard about Caylee's Law. It is a new law they are trying to pass in honor of Caylee Anthony that would make it a felony for parents to not report a missing child. This is the change I was talking about in my previous blog. Head over to and sign the petition today! It already has over 450,000 signatures!

Lastly, a couple reviews came in for the new Harry Potter movie and they all seem to be very positive! One reviewer indicated the film made up for some of the deficiencies in the book (WHAT!? That is sacrilege!) The movie is the shortest Harry Potter film to date, coming in at 2 hours and 11 minutes. Only a few more days :)

You can head over to the rotten tomatoes website to read some of the reviews. So far it has a 100% fresh rating!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Sword of Truth

I just finished reading the 5th book in The Sword of Truth series. I have to say that I LOVE these books.

When I first started reading them awhile back I felt slightly overwhelmed by the series. There are currently 11 books and they all come in around 1,000 - 1,200 pages each. However, I've always enjoyed reading long books / long series because you become so invested in the characters. They become a part of your life. You devote a huge amount of time to sit with them and visit.

The first book in the series is called Wizard's First Rule and I highly recommend you go out and buy it or download it to your e-reader. The series is considered a fantasy series, and similar to George RR Martin (another awesome author).

The books are written by Terry Goodkind, who is an amazing storyteller. The main characters, Richard and Kahlan, and almost role models for me. I find that I think a lot like Terry Goodkind and relate to his ideals, morals, and ethics.

On another note... the new / final Harry Potter movie comes out in 8 days on 15-Jul-2011!!!! The previews look amazing and I can't wait to see it :)

Water to Wine

A little humor to start the day :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Caylee Anthony

There are some things that I will NEVER understand. I ran across this picture on the web and it literally made my stomach hurt.

*NOW* she's safe in the arms of Jesus? NOW?! Where was Jesus when this innocent and pure child was being molested. Where was he while she was being abused... while she was in pain... while she cried? Where was he when someone put duct tape over her mouth and murdered her? Where was your God when she cast her eyes up to heaven and begged for one more breath?

Let's say Jesus is real. He was the only all-powerful being able to help this child or that knew of her abuse. Did he use his power to give her new parents? Did he try to ensure that law enforcement got involved? Did he take her life PRIOR to her pain and suffering?


He sat there in his perfect paradise and watched this poor girl suffer every day of her life until she was murdered. Was this all just part of his plan... and what plan would that be? If this is the God you worship, then I want nothing to do with your religion

Caylee was raised, tortured, and murdered by a loveless human, and if there was a God, she was cruelly allowed to suffer and die at the hands of that God. We as humans need to stop looking to the heavens for answers and start looking at each other.

Don't let another Caylee go unseen or unheard. Look for the warning signs in every child you encounter, give them the voice that Caylee was denied.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

VBS / aka Jesus Camp

It seems like I see a new sign for Vacation Bible School pop up every time I drive down the road. They are usually big white banners displayed in the front lawn of your standard corner church, presenting bright smiling faces, crosses, and colorful rainbows.

As a good Baptist child, I went to my fair share of Jesus Camps growing up. I remember lots of praying, going to the front of the church to ask for forgiveness, raising your arms and closing your eyes to sing hymns, people getting Baptized in the lake, and watching the plays (puppets and live-action).

I don't have any bad memories from my time at VBS, but looking back as an adult it seems like a nightmare. I was presented a one-sided story, not permitted to ask questions, and told that if I didn't follow the instructions I would probably suffer an eternal damnation. Ouch.

A documentary came out about 5 years ago called 'Jesus Camp.' I've seen most of the movie by watching clips online and you can also stream it on netflix. The documentary follows a group of children attending a fundamentalist VBS in North Dakota.

It infuriated me. Take a look at the video.

I cried for these children. As you can see from the video, they are brainwashed to the point of delirium. They are told over and over again that they are impure and undeserving of love. They are sinners, vile, and cruel and can only have their sins washed away by listening to their preacher and praying to God.

These are children! My readers know I feel very strongly when it comes to children being treated badly by adults, and once again I will use the term 'child abuse'. What the adults in this video do to these children is CHILD ABUSE - plain and simple.

How do you feel watching this video? What would you think if you saw your children speaking in tongues and twitching on the floor? This video scares me and I just hope these children are exposed to other viewpoints during their lives.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Good Without God?

I've been following a few stories going around the atheist blogosphere. I wanted to post about them since I think they make a good point.

Can you be good without God? According to Dylan Galos, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the "Out of the Closet" campaign, YES! I know, it's shocking, right!?

(On the FFRF website you can create your own "out of the closet" banner!!)

This particular banner made headlines when the FFRF posted the banner on a billboard in Columbus, OH... on church property! Apparently, there was a mix-up and the organizers did not realize it was on the church's land. Of course, the church complained, even though the billboard did not directly go against the church, they demanded the sign be removed. The FFRF relocated the sign to a different part of town and all was well.

In a separate but correlating story, two Churches were vandalized in Oregon with phrases such as "Praise the FSM." For the people unfamiliar with the acronym FSM, it stands for flying spaghetti monster, an internet 'religion' devoted to his holy noodleness. He boiled for your sins!

Well, apparently-- without God --the Atheist community CAN do good and actually raised over $3,000.00 to help the church remove the graffiti. The money was raised by the friendly atheist (check him out on my blogroll) and over 200 non-believers contributed to the fund. I feel like this was a noble deed and I'm really proud of my community for stepping up and helping their fellow humans.

We can be good without God; and to me the deeds feel more sincere when they are done out of kindness instead of brownie points for heaven.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Consulting the Bible - Part 1: Slavery

What is your favorite book?

Apparently, there is an unspoken rule in Christianity that one must answer this question with 'The Bible' before the words even finish reaching their ears. Just look at facebook. Every religious person I know has 'The Bible' listed in their favorite books section, yet I can guarantee that 99% of them have not actually read the Bible from cover-to-cover.

I can't even imagine the thought process. "Well, I've always wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird and everyone else likes it... so... I'm SURE it's my favorite book."

What I can't comprehend is how a person can call themselves a Christian when they haven't read the actual Christian text. Learning a few of the verses doesn't count, nor does reading a few psalms. If I'm going to believe in something, you can rest assured that I fully understand what I'm buying into before I go out proselytizing. I expect you to do the same thing.

Also, you don't get to pick and choose which parts / verses of The Bible you accept. If you're a Christian, I'm going to assume 1. you've actually read the Bible, 2. you comprehended the Bible, and 3. you accepted the Bible as you're religious text and live you're life based on that moral code.

You know, the moral code that embraces human sacrifice, rape, slavery, genocide, and infanticide.

Part 1 - Slavery

Even though it didn't make the Ten Commandments, one would expect The Bible to be pretty clear about slavery. It's bad. People who enslave others should be punished, right? The Bible is your moral compass, right - so, let's take a look to see what the verses say about the issue.

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

That's right, The Bible clearly indicates that slavery is okay and you can treat your slaves as property.

Have you ever wondered how hard you could beat your slaves? Well, there is no need to wonder, just consult your Bible:

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

What about sleeping with your female slaves? Yes, The Bible also provides guidance on this issue:

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Maybe Jesus himself can clear up this issue, because there is no way the Bible could actually condone slavery, right? Wrong!!! Jesus said:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

The Bible is a scary place, and before you start telling people it's your favorite book, you should probably ensure you know exactly what that means. Educate yourself. Don't listen to your preacher or your friends or your minister or even to me. Open the book and read it. You may be surprised at the God you fall to your knees to worship...

Congrats New York!!

I wanted to take a quick moment to say congratulations to New York for joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C in allowing same-sex couples to wed.

I hope each and every gay couple that ties the knot enjoys every happiness that you deserve as an EQUAL American citizen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Book of Mormon

I apologize for not posting as regularly this week. I've been spending time with the family and trolloping around NYC which hasn't given me much time to research / write / etc...

I really wanted to see The Book of Mormon while I was in the city, but it was impossible to get tickets, especially last minute.

Now, if you haven't heard of The Book of Mormon it is a musical running on Broadway that was written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone (Parker and Stone are the creators of South Park). The show was the top winner at this years Tony Awards, taking home 7 awards, including best musical.

I find the show extremely appealing since most of the hard hitting humor seems to come from actual Mormon beliefs. Such as the song "I Believe"

I believe that God has a plan for all of us.
I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.
And I believe; that the current President of The Church, Thomas Modson, speaks directly to God.
I am A Mormon,
And, dang it! a Mormon just believes!


I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob.
I believe that Jesus has his own planet as well.
And I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri.
If you believe, the Lord will reveal it.
And you'll know it's all true. You'll just feel it.
You'll be a Mormon
And, by gosh!
A Mormon just believes!
Oh, I believe.

The Mormons believe some crazy things!!! Here are the my top 5 on the crazy list

5. After Jesus was resurrected, he visited the people of the Americas.

4. Baptism for the Dead - Mormons believe that because God is our Heavenly Father, he would not condemn those who never had the opportunity to be baptized or understand the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, He prepared a way by which these people could receive the necessary ordinance of baptism to return to live with Him again. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often a descendant of the person, is baptized on behalf of the individual in a Mormon temple. In other words, the baptism if performed by proxy with a living person standing in for the deceased individual.

3. There are multiple heavens. There are actually three according to the Mormon doctrine. One for those that do just ok, one for those that do better than average, and one for those that are really, really good.

2. Modern Revelation. The Mormons believe that the elected prophet of the time gets visits from god and gives him directions. The Mormons have a convention 2 times per year and the prophet tells them what God said.

1. Multiple worlds with multiple Gods. They believe that God created many planets with many people and each planet has its own God. They go further to say that if you are good and special you can also become a God of your own planet.

I have no idea how people can invest their entire lives into this belief system. It just seems insane to me; an awfully hard pill to swallow. However, there are more than 13 million Mormons world-wide.

13 Million!!!

In fact, John Huntsman is running for President of the USA and is of the Mormon faith. Maybe he will get his own planet some day :)

If anyone has seen The Book of Mormon, I would love to hear your opinion. I've listened to a lot of the songs and some were quit shocking!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sins of the Father

When I was little, my Dad use to take us fishing at this 'secret lake' out in the middle of nowhere. In order to get there, you had to drive down a hidden dirt road in the middle of the woods, cross through a fence marked "Private Property", and cross your fingers in hopes that you would make it down the road and back without getting the car stuck in the mud.

It was a secret place for our little family, and the fish were always biting. We would sit on the lake's edge and my Dad would show me how to bait the hook and cast the line. We all waited together in anticipation as we watched the floaters bobbing on top of the water. Fishing takes a lot of patience, and I remember how quite it was when we were at our covert lake.

When we spent time at the lake, the rest of the world seemed to vanish. It was almost easy to forget about the tears, the fights, and the broken promises.

My Dad was, and still is, a drug addict. I wouldn't say it was our families dark secret, because everyone knew and my Dad usually made it painfully obvious, but for me, his addiction was always a very dark cloud over my youth. I didn't want anyone to know.

I usually pretended everything was okay or that I was indifferent to his choices. Inside, it killed me.

As a child, I didn't understand what an addiction was. To me, everything was black and white. My Dad could either choose us, his family, or he could choose the drugs. Black / white. He always chose the drugs. As an adult, I understand that he wasn't always in control and that he may have wanted to choose us, but couldn't.

Our days of sitting on the edge of the lake ended, and 'going fishing' became a constant unfulfilled promise.

"When I get out of prison, I promise we'll go fishing..." he would say to me. I can't even count the number of times I heard it, but I can count the number of times he followed through. Zero.

I use to think 'If I were a better son, he would stop taking drugs.' If I were nicer to my sister, if I didn't talk back, if I wasn't so hard-headed, if I brushed my teeth after every meal, if I wrote him a letter, if I prayed... something! There had to be something I could do to make him better. I knew it was my fault. If I were a good son, he would just choose us, instead of the drugs. Black / white.

The other memories of my father are not as pleasant as the lake. I remember sitting in a drug house while his dealer measured out drugs on a metal scale. I remember bringing him a homemade bookmark with a mallard duck on it when he was in the jail downtown. The corrections officer handed it to him while I watched through the bullet proof glass. I remember Christmas morning when he pushed my mom. I remember when he received special privileges to come to my high school graduation. I remember going to see him in jail and rehab centers.

Even though it is a cliche, I believe that what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. If anything, my Dad showed me 'what NOT to do'... heck, he could have written the book! "Don't leave your small children in a house alone while you go out to buy drugs"... that would be bad. "Don't do drugs," and "Don't ever EVER choose anything over your family."

I've never done drugs. Not a single breath of pot has ever entered my body, nor will it. I've been hard on my friends that made different choices. I ended relationships and friendships over the drug/alcohol issue so that I could surround myself with non-addictive personalities. I've had enough addiction in my life, and I've never even been addicted to anything.

When I make promises to my children, I keep them. I hold me children close to my heart and cherish every moment I have with them. I promise to hear their voices and their words when other adults may discount them. I promise to guide them and protect them throughout their lives. I promise to keep them safe from pain so they won't ever look at me and think "what did I do wrong." I promise to hold their hands and tickle their bellies so that we can laugh together and make happy memories. I promise to sleep in their beds when they have a bad dream and tell them funny stories about mermaids and princesses to make the dreams go away. I promise to always be there, as a father and friend, for my girls. I promise to take them fishing.

For that, I want to say: Thank you Daddy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gay Marriage v David Tyree

David Tyree just made me mad. In fact, he kind of pissed me off.

Today, the NY State Assembly passed a same sex marriage bill. The bill is now headed to the Republican controlled state senate, where it's fate is unknown.

Tyree, a former NY Giants receiver, took this opportunity to release a video through the 'National Organization for Marriage' indicating that allowing gay marriage would

be the beginning of our country sliding toward ... anarchy

Really? Anarchy? You really think allowing gay marriage will lead to the destruction of our government and an eternal state of lawlessness? Really?

Tyree went on to say:

Marriage is the only relationship that actually mirrors the relationship with God

I am disappointed when ... not enough guys ... lift up something as honorable and near to God's heart as marriage

We're doing God an injustice by not making his heart known to our country

Is that why you had children prior to your marriage? You know, back when you were a raging drug addict? Is that how you lift up God's message? Interesting...

It is not justifiable to alter a long-standing institution because a minority -- an influential minority -- has ... an agenda

Really? Wow. As a black man, you are going to stand there and say that a minority doesn't deserve a voice because it goes against the majority? I remember a time when African Americans had to fight for equal rights. They were a minority with... "an agenda". They fought the long-standing institution of slavery, jim crow laws, equal rights, voting rights... that seemed to work out okay for you. That didn't lead to anarchy.

In my favorite point, he argued that same sex parents could not raise children of the opposite sex:

You can't teach something that you don't have, So two men will never be able to teach a woman how to be a woman.

Wow, I guess social services should come in and take every male child being raised by a single mother, and every daughter raised by a single father. "Sorry little boy, I know you Dad passed away, but we are going to take you from your mother because she doesn't have the right parts to raise you..."

I have no words.

I Pledge Allegiance to Porky Pig

Look - it's Porky Pig reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Do you notice what is missing?

When Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892, he did not use the words "under God." In fact, those words were not added to the Pledge until 1954, some 62 years later, by President Eisenhower who had recently been converted from a Jehovah's Witness to a baptized Presbyterian.

To most, the words 'Under God' are not a big deal; but think about this. What if President Eisenhower was converted to a Muslim instead of a Presbyterian back in 1953. What if you had to stand up and say "One Nation, under Islam" each time you swore fealty to your country? Would it be a big deal then? Would you fight the change? Would you stand up for your rights as a free American governed by a SECULAR government?

Of course you would. Of course I will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do Children Burn in Hell?!

When I was little, I knew my parents were going to burn in hell. I went to a Baptist church and they made it very clear to everyone, children included, that if you didn't go to church, praise the lord, and 'get saved,' you were going to burn and suffer for the rest of eternity.

As a child, I was petrified. I was saved, so I was going to live in heaven after I died, but what about EVERYONE else? My friends and family were good people, they didn't deserve an eternal roasting in the Earth's core. I had nightmares.

As an adult, I view this practice for what it is: child abuse.

Hell is used as a scare tactic to brainwash young children. A child will believe anything when the alternative is never ending pain. They are raised to accept something without question... because if they don't a mean red man will take a pitchfork to their souls.

Children think visually. When someone tells them about a place, such as hell, it burns an image into their mind. To use hell / damnation as a tool to scare children should be punishable by law.

However, kids are raised this way every single day, especially in the South where I live. What kind of adults will these children become? It's simple. Instead of doing good in order to be a good person, they will do good in order to receive a reward (in this case, heaven). These adults will be afraid to question authority or challenge the norm. They will be weak minded and constantly live in fear, not only for their own soul, but for the souls of everyone they love.

My heart breaks for these children. They will never understand or know what 'could have been'.

To knowingly and willingly do this to a child is abuse.

The day I embraced my atheism and truly accepted who I was (a non-believer), I felt a profound freedom and sense of joy. I will raise my children within this joy and I can't wait to see the adults they become.

If you look at my children and pity them for not 'knowing the Lord' - DON'T - it's not my children that need the sympathy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You the Devil, Man

There is a public TV show in Austin called The Atheist Experience that airs in Austin, TX every Sunday. You can actually stream the show online from anywhere in the world and they have a show archive on their website.

These guys and girls are fantastic and you should definitely check them out. The hosts meet up for dinner after every show and if I'm ever in Austin for business I'm totally going to meet up with them.

My favorite part of the show is when they take viewer calls. Here is a little "best of" video clip, for your enjoyment :)

Michele Bachmann: Insanity has Entered the Building

Let's take a moment to meet the new presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann, who announced her running bid last night during the Republican Debate on CNN.

Who is Michele Bachmann? What does this woman stand for? What does she represent?

"Not all cultures are equal." - Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is a tea party activist that wants to promote her Christian values in our Secular government. She is a Concerned Woman for America.

"I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist. I'm not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I'm not a scientist." - Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann supports intelligent design (aka creationism) in the public school science cirriculum and stated that evolution is 'just a theory'. When religious people say this it makes my blood boil. It shows how ignorant they are when it comes to science and evolution. In science there is nothing higher / nothing better than a theory. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is our best explanation for the fact of evolution. (Take a look at this great website that explains what a theory actually is in science: So, instead of teaching the facts, Michele Bachmann wants to teach stories with no scientific evidence... in the science class... in a public school?

Michele was actually challenged by a 17 year old high school student in Louisiana when she stated:

“there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact… hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.”

In response, the student replied to Michele with the following:

Congresswoman Bachmann, I see your “hundreds” of scientists, and raise you millions of scientists.

For the next hand, I raise you 43 Nobel Laureate scientists. That’s right: 43 Nobel Laureate scientists have endorsed our effort to repeal Louisiana’s creationism law.

Congresswoman Bachmann never replied.

Michele Bachmann supported a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to ban gay marriage and referred to the gay community as people with 'sexual dysfunction' and 'sexual identity disorders'. Here are some Quotes by the Congresswoman:

"Gay Marriage is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, thirty years. I am not understating that. - Michele Bachmann"

"And what a bizarre time we're in, when a judge will say to little children that you can't say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it. - Michele Bachmann"

"Normalization (of gayness) through desensitization. Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is take a picture of "the Lion King" for instance, and a teacher might say, "Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?" The message is: I'm better at what I do, because I'm gay. - Michele Bachmann"

Michele Bachmann opposes minimum wage increases.

"If we took away the minimum wage - if conceivably it was gone - we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level" - Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann was against a the government-run health insurance public option.

Michele Bachmann believes that global warming is a hoax since "carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature." No, I'm not kidding

As an American, I value my freedom and I have a profound respect for the men and women that serve our country to protect that freedom. Michele Bachmann doesn't believe in equality, and if you are not an equal, are you really free?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creation / How it All Started

I saw this video by Christina over on The Friendly Atheist Blog and it had me laughing out loud. She has a great sense of humor - check it out :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Immortality and Death

Immortality. Humans have searched for, written about, and lusted for eternal life since the beginning of documented history. The thought of living forever is like a powerful drug to the human body. It can paralyze the senses and make us believe almost anything. Literature and cinema are full of tales dealing with immortality.

There is the Island of Immortals in Gulliver's Travels.

The Greek Gods.

The Roman Gods.

The Holy Grail, The Elixir of Life, The Fountain of Youth.

Christianity, Islam, Taoism.

The Elves in Lord of the Rings.


Edward and Bella. Bill and Eric. Dracula.

Why do humans have such a profound obsession with immortality? Because we are scared stupid (sometimes literally) about dying, about leaving the Earth, about being forgotten, about missing life.

Death is so... final! There are no second chances or negotiations when it comes to your last breath. Sometimes I lay in bed and think "some day I'm going to die. Me. I am going to DIE!" Then I start to freak out a little bit... it's a scary thought. I accept death as part of life, but I'm in total denial about it happening to me. It's like hearing about some one's horrible freak accident and you think "well, that sucks for them, but it will never happen to me."

But eventually, death will catch up with all of us. The unspoken number-1 rule of life is to stay alive. All other goals and dreams seem pretty pointless if we can't achieve the first and most important goal. STAY ALIVE.

Also, we can't predict anything when it comes to death. Not the when, the where, the how... the why...

But eventually we will die... and then what?! This thought, the what-happens-next, is why humans are so obsessed with immortality.

Some people are so obsessed with not dying that they will waste their entire lives seeking immortality. This is where religious people and atheists differ. Religion gives people the idea that after they die, their soul can live on forever in a perfect paradise, surrounded by all of their loved ones. Sounds awesome, right. It's so comforting. Ahhhh... I could just sit back and bask in the promise of immortality.

But wait. Even in death, nothing is free. In order to reach this perfect paradise, you have to devote part of your life to God. You have to say the magic words, read the magic book, talk to God, and devote time to going to church. If you don't do these things, you can't go to heaven. The Bible says you have to accept Jesus into your heart in order to go to heaven. If you don't, not only will you not go to heaven, but you will BURN IN HELL, FOREVER!

Wait... what!?

What if I'm a good person? What if I'm moral. Honest. Caring. Loving. Compassionate. Wholesome. Funny. Sympathetic. Empathetic. Kind. Courageous. Honorable. What if I devote myself to feeding the homeless instead of wasting hours in a church. What if I decide to build houses with my own two hands, instead of clasping them in prayer. None of that matters, because if I don't speak the magic words, it's an eternity of hellfire and brimstone. Do I really deserve an eternal life of torture because I didn't go to church on Sundays? If so, what kind of God do you serve?

People often say, "well, it's better to be safe, than sorry - especially with your immortal soul." But do you know what I say to them? This is my life, my one and only chance to live. I am not going to waste a moment of my life worshipping a ghost or a phantom.

Instead I am going to play with my kids. I'm going to kiss my wife. I'm going to watch a sunset and listen to the ocean. I'm going to volunteer my time/money to help others... actually HELP them, not asking a ghost to help them. I'm going to grill out hamburgers. I'm going to cry at a sad movie. I'm going to sleep in on Sunday. I'm going to go on vacation with my family and see the world. I'm going to smile at a stranger. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to kick my feet up after a long day.

As an atheist, I believe that death is final. No pretty pictures, no fairy tales. It's hard to accept, at least it was for me; I wanted the fairy tale. But wanting it doesn't make it true.

I get it. Heaven is comforting. It is a beautiful idea. I can't think of anything better, but still, that doesn't make it true. The only truth we have is we live and we die. For that reason, I will not sacrifice one second of my life, my only life, for an unproven higher power. I will not chase immortality while wasting my time here on earth. At the end of my life, whenever that may be, I want to look back and know that I LIVED. I want to live running at full speed, jumping, flipping, and flying. I don't want to look back and see that I wasted my life on my knees, cowering in fear and praying to a merciless God. I want to leave a legacy. I want to live in the thoughts and memories of my family and friends. And they will be GREAT memories!

Dead. Death. Dying. Departure. Passing. The Big Sleep. The Swan Song. The End. How will you live? How will you love? Who will you choose to spend your life with? It's your life, your ONE life, how will you live it?

The 10 Scariest States to be an Atheist

I came across this article by Greta Christina (a fantastic blogger) on the alternet website. I'm not shocked, but sad to see good ole' NC made the list.

I've been following two of the stories listed in the article. The first one is described in state #4, Rhode Island. Here is a snippet from the blog:

4: Rhode Island. Did you hear the one about the public high school with the prayer banner in the school gym -- a prayer banner specifically addressed to "Our Heavenly Father"? The public high school that got asked to take the banner down by 15-year-old atheist high school student Jessica Ahlquist, since it's an unconstitutional promotion of religion by government? The public high school that's digging in its heels and hanging on to the banner, despite decades of unambiguous legal precedent making it clear that they're in the wrong? The public high school that's getting sued by said atheist high school student and the ACLU... and is still digging in its heels, devoting extensive time and resources to defending their promotion of religion?

That's Rhode Island, folks. And this story isn't just about a school administration insisting on its right to unconstitutionally establish religion. It's about a community's ostracization of an atheist teenager -- in some cases to the point of threats of violence. Ahlquist has been shunned, insulted, vilified, and even threatened with violence. Students in an English class in her school said -- during class -- that she should be "smacked around and beat up" for fighting the prayer banner. Comments in the Providence Journal article on the story were ugly, personal, even threatening -- to a great extent about the ACLU, but largely about Ahlquist herself. ("I think you need to talk to a doctor and get help... you are sick in the head." "Looks like we have a moon bat in the making." "Make no mistake, Jessica and the Bolshevik thugs representing her are driven by anti-Christian bigotry and intolerance and censorship... Curse them to hell.")

In fact, according to the Providence Journal, Ahlquist and another student were removed from their regular classroom schedule last month -- after some students said they intended to harm her. To quote JT Eberhard, high school specialist at the Secular Student Alliance, "In the city of Cranston, an entire community, perhaps an entire state of adults, is engaging in a smear campaign against a single high school student. Her crime? Believing her school violates the first amendment by hanging a prayer banner in the gym invoking the phrases 'Our heavenly father' and 'Amen'."

And this is in New England. This is Rhode Island. The first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule. The state specifically founded as a place of religious freedom, as a response to religious persecution. A slat in the cradle of liberty. And they are vilifying and threatening a 15-year-old girl for being an atheist, and for insisting that her public school follow the Constitution and not shove religion down her throat. Anti-atheist bigotry is everywhere. It's not just in Alabama or Mississippi. Or even Texas.

I heard Jessica Ahlquist speak on an atheist radio show called the Non-Prophets and I have to say that she blew me away. Jessica was bright, smart as hell, and so well composed during the interview. This girl is going to be a leader in our community and I hope that we can stand up and offer her the support her school / school board / and state are denying her!

The second story is described in state #1 - Louisiana. Here is a snippet from the article:

#1: Louisiana.

I freely admit that this list, and the order I'm presenting it, is subjective. It's not based on a careful statistical analysis of rigorously gathered data based on journalistically objective criteria about anti-atheist bigotry. It's based on stories that happened to get my atheist dander up. It's based on stories that made me sad -- and enraged.

And the story that happened in Louisiana made me sad, and enraged, more than almost any other.

I'm talking about Damon Fowler.

I'm talking about the atheist high school student who opposed his public school having a school-sponsored prayer at his graduation. Whose name was leaked. And who, as a result, was hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community; publicly demeaned by one of his teachers; physically threatened; and thrown out by his parents, who cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and threw his belongings onto the front porch. Whose public school went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway. Who has had to leave his home and move in with his sister near Dallas, Texas.

You know things are bad when your atheist safe haven from extremist religious persecution is in Texas.

That's Louisiana.

Worst. State. Ever.

This poor kid! He was also a featured guest on the Non-Prophets and visible shaken by the whole ordeal. This kid was torn apart by his school, his town, and his family for standing up for the constitution! That is insane to me. The 'evil' atheist community actually raised over $30,000.00 in scholarship money to send him to college while the 'christians' tossed him out on his ass.

Most of these issues reference the 1st amendment of the US constitution. The Establishment Clause in the first amendment is generally interpreted to mean that the government cannot establish a national religion by congress and that the government cannot favor one religion over another. The separation of church and state is attributed to Thomas Jefferson and often mentioned by the supreme court (Reynolds v. United States, Everson v. Board of Education). In the cases of Rhode Island and Louisiana, the public school would represent the STATE and the prayer would represent the CHURCH. These two should not co-exist.

Here is the full article:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Non-Religious Parenting

One of the most common questions people ask me is 'How will you raise your children in regards to religion and God?' That is a great question! I have three beautiful and spirited girls. My oldest is 5, my middle child is 2, and the youngest is 4 months old.

My wife and I want our girls to have a broad religious background and a basic understanding of all major world religions. All religions will be presented in the same way; none favored and none presented with low regard. Of course we will also discuss science, evolution, agnosticism, and atheism. We do not hope to raise carbon copies of ourselves. Our goal is to raise children that are open minded and accepting of all religious views. Then, when our girls are old enough to make an informed and cognitive decision, we hope they pick a path that will lead them to happiness. Weather that path leads them to God, Science, or Buddha we will support them whole-heartedly and with passion.

My wife and I know what kind of education we would like our children to have, the question for us is 'how do you teach a five year old about various world religions?'

Step 1 - Educate yourself! You can't expect to teach your child anything if you don't know the subject matter first. There are many resources on the web and in the library regarding religion and science. Do some research and ensure that you will be able to answer any questions they may have. Does this mean you need to memorize every verse of the Koran or every page of The Origin of Species? Of course not; but you should understand the basic beliefs of each religion or scientific principle.

Step 2 - Pick 1-3 religions and/or scientific concepts at a time. Present the concepts slowly, over a set period of time. Don't bombard your kids with information because they won't be able to grasp the concepts or remember them.

Step 3 - Focus on the positive and simplify the concepts, especially for younger children. When you are doing your research (see Step 1), select a few selling points you want your children to know. Here is an example of a scientific lesson and a religious lesson:
--Evolution-- "Where do people come from? Well, some people believe that chimps and humans have a common ancestor. That means a long long time ago there was an animal that kind of looked like a human and kind of looked like a chimp. Can you think of ways we look like a chimp" You could compare pictures of humans / chimps / apes / etc... My 5 year old really grasped this concept because she can clearly see the similarities.
--Christianity-- "Who is Jesus? Well, some people believe he was the son of God. Jesus accepted the outcasts, he helped the sick and poor, and told people to love one another" By focusing on the positive messages, the child will hopefully understand the true meaning of the religion.

Notice that both evolution and Christianity were presented in the same way; 'some people believe...' When you enforce the concept that everybody has their on belief system, it teaches the child that it is okay to be religiously diverse.

Step 4 - Be honest, answer their questions, and don't be afraid to say "I don't know." If your child asks, "what do you believe?" Tell them, and tell them why. Show them that you made an educated and rational decision about your beliefs. Lead by example in hopes they will also make an educated and rational decision.

I ran across a video on youtube a few months back where the speaker talks about religious diversity within the family setting. Take a look:

Other Resources: Parenting Beyond Belief

What is an Atheist

Atheist (n) - one who believes that there is no deity

It is a simple definition. Webster uses 8 simple words to define this controversial term. Atheist. :shivers:

The very word causes most Americans to gasp and turn their noses up in disgust. We are the most hated group in America, and in my opinion, one of the least understood. To be an atheist simply means you do not believe in a god. We have no dogma, no scripture or sacred text, just a simple belief in no higher power. Being an atheist does not mean you believe in evolution. It does not mean you are a liberal, or a democrat. It does not mean you worship the devil. It does not mean you are anti-American or anti-military. It does not mean you are sad, depressed and devoid of all happiness and beauty. It does not mean you hate religion or religious people. It does not mean you are a scientist or accept scientific evidence of creation.

It simply means you do not believe in a deity.

Yes, many atheists believe in the Big Bang theory, evolution, and all of that. Some don't. Either way, these beliefs are irrelevant. When a person says they are an atheist, don't assume anything... except the 8 simple words listed at the top of this post. And don't gasp, it's rude. :)

Did you know that you are actually a non-believer as well!? I would like you to do something for me. Take a look at the list below. These are some of the world's major religions along with their important figures, concepts, and books. As you read the list, think to yourself "I don't believe in this because_________________" or "I do believe in this because __________________". Ready? GO!

1. Christianity - Jesus of Nazareth, God, The Bible
2. Islam - Mohammad, Allah, The 5 Pillars
3. Hinduism - The Four Vedic Books, Brahman, Reincarnation, Karma
4. Buddhism - The 4 Noble Truths / The Noble Eight-Fold Path, Nirvana, Buddha
5. Sikhism - Nanak, The Adi Granth
6. Judaism - Yahweh, The Torah
7. Baha'ism - Baha Ullah
8. Confucianism - Confucius, Analects, Cultivation of Virtue
9. Jainism - The 24 Tirthankaras, Mahavira / Jina
10. Shintoism - Kami, Kojiki / Nihon Shoki

See!? You are probably a non-believer for 9 of the above religions. I am a non-believer for all 10. What words did you use to discount your belief in Nanak? In Mahavira? I use those same words of disbelief for Jesus, Mohammad, and God.

Why are you a Christian? Is it because you were born in the USA and raised to love Jesus. If you were born in India and raised in the Indian culture, would you still be a Christian? Or would you feel just as strongly about Hinduism as you do about Jesus? By a twist of coincidence, you were born in the USA and raised in a predominantly Christian nation - that does not mean you are correct.

Educate yourself. Think. Ask questions. Remember that you are an atheist when it comes to every OTHER world religion, I just take it one step further.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Good Man

"It is liberating to realize that my ideas, loves, and joys are neither programmed nor demanded by some god, but spring freely from my heart for however long it beats"

I'm not big on quotes or cliches, but when I ran across this saying on the Freedom From Religion facebook page I instantly felt a connection to the meaning behind the words. As an atheist, I take pride in knowing that my morals, loves, and joys are self derived. I've worked and labored for the last 8+ years to establish myself, not only as an adult, but as an educated and good man. A family man. Is this possible without religion? Without God? Many people would say 'No'. Many people believe that in order to live a moral and good life you need the hand of God to guide you and the Bible to educate you on what to do and what not to do.

Well, I hate to say it, but I know that killing is wrong without using the Bible as a reference. Adultery - Bad! Kindness - Good! We learn these concepts from childhood, from our families, our friends, and from our human ability to reason and THINK. We would know these things with or without a book.

As I stated earlier, I take pride in knowing that my personal moral code is self derived, based on current social understandings, and enforced out of desire and not the threat of eternal damnation. Why do people need an impending punishment in order to do good. Isn't doing good for goodness sake enough? Isn't that what Santa Clause told us all along!

I can't explain how liberating it is to cast aside the pre-determined religious morals and embrace your own moral code. Why is it that people can pick and choose passages from the Bible, embracing some and ignoring others, but can't listen to their own voice of reason. Should children that are abused honor their Mother and Father? Of course not! Should we discriminate against other humans based on their gender, race, or sexuality because we have an old book that supports us. No! We should treat everyone equally and with kindness - my 5 year old knows that. It is a simple lesson, one that would make this world a better place. A view that was shared by none other than Jesus (A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)) Notice it says "LOVE ONE ANOTHER"... there are no conditions or requirements of this love. It doesn't say "LOVE ONE ANOTHER... EXCEPT THE GAYS, YOU SHOULD HATE THEM!"

You are good enough to make your own choices, judgements, and morals even if they differ from previous circumstances. You ARE good enough! Don't let a text or verse determine how you live your life / treat others. If you know something is wrong, stand up for it. It will change your life.

So now, I will 'stand up' and BLOG!