Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is it Our Duty to Come Out as Atheists?

I'm sure many of you know it, but just to set the stage for my discussion of this topic, last week was 'A' Week. Atheists have been encouraged to set their Facebook (and other social profile, I suppose) picture to the scarlet 'A' -- or, in a twist on the concept that I personally prefer, to take a picture of themselves smiling with a small sign saying that they are an atheist, and use that for their profile picture.

'A' Week is a strategy which I highly support.

'A' Week is an event in which I do not participate.

What gives?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Apologies for My Lack of Posts

I know there are a few people who actually check here, and I do seem to have some traffic on this blog, so I'd like to apologize for my apparent inability to post the last two weeks or so. It's not quite the end of the semester panic time yet, but it just dawned on me that all of my classes require an end-of-term paper, with length requirements ranging from four to ten-plus pages. Between that, my 21st birthday coming up this weekend, planning the Free@VT Ask an Atheist Day booth, and a mega-birthday bash to plan two weeks down the road, I've been a little swamped.

Please accept this xkcd strip, which you've probably already seen, but which is probably-maybe my absolute favorite of Randall Munroe's comics thus far, as my apologetic offering:

I used to ascribe to that sort of belief that everything is somehow less beautiful and mysterious once you understand it... and then I realized, when I learned about astronomy as a kid, I wanted to learn more, not just because I was thirsty for knowledge, but because knowing more about something made it more interesting, and more beautiful, and even more mysterious, because now I knew more questions to ask, and more topics about which to ask them.

And, of course, xkcd manages to put the idea succinctly into four panels of stick figures.

PS: I should have a post up for you sometime tomorrow, with any luck.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Response to a YouTube Evangalist

Today I received a message on my YouTube account from a Muslim evangelist. Here is the part of the message that wasn't a big long list of poor justifications for his faith:
“Hard questions for an atheist!
  1. were you created by nothing or did you create yourself?
  2. whats purpose of life?
  3. Apart from scientific evidence, what else would make you acknowledge the existence of God Almighty?” (sic)
    Furthermore, the video featured on his profile read as follows:
    “In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    Questions an atheist avoids to answer correctly!
    1. Were you created by nothing or did you create yourself?
    2. Define the God you are rejecting?
    3. Do you believe in natural instinct? If so, how do they relate to Evolution?
    4. Are suffering from a God complex?
    5. Man is a worshipper by nature! Who do you worship?
    6. Everything we see around us has a purpose! Whats your purpose in life?
    Answer honestly, please!” (sic)

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    It's Women's History Month... So Get Back in the Kitchen

    As I'm sure you all know, since International Women's Day was just last week, March is Women's History Month. Now, deny it as some might, gender equality is still not as widespread as it ought to be, and I wholeheartedly applaud those who are bringing that fact further into the public spotlight.

    I appreciate the free self-defense classes that are offered to women (and men) on campus here at Virginia Tech. While in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry about having to defend ourselves, being able to do so is definitely an empowering skill.

    When I saw that the weight room in the gym was being cleared for a women-only session, I was totally jazzed. It's intimidating to walk into a room of sweaty dudes and try to figure out how to use some obscure piece of equipment. I think it's great that the gym took a day to make sure that the ladies on campus had a chance to learn how to use that stuff.

    I'm having a hard time, however, with how our cafeterias decided to celebrate Women's History Month. Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad they're acknowledging it. But... cupcakes?

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    To GodBlock, or to Educate?

    As a college student, I spend a lot of time studying on StumbleUpon. Recently, I came across this site for a religion-blocking web filter to protect little atheist kids from the terrible thing that is religious content on the internet.

    At first, I kind of laughed at it. Then I wondered whether anyone actually used it. Then I considered whether I would ever use it as a parent.

    The long and short of it is, "NO."

    As an atheist, I don't like the idea of indoctrinating children. I personally find the fact that many (if not most) children are brought up in a faith, believing that that faith is the capital-t Truth, and that to question that faith is to reserve oneself a spot in hell to be utterly repulsive. I am still angry about my own religious upbringing and the horrible guilt that I went through (and, in some cases, am still fighting through) as I left the Catholic faith. Indoctrination is a Bad Thing, capital letters and all.

    Friday, March 04, 2011

    So They Tell Me God is Good

    This is something that I'm sure many people struggle with, and it probably doesn't need my rant about it in addition to everyone else's, but it's been driving me up the wall lately, so here it is.

    Recently, a relative of mine suffered a terrible accident. I shan't be going into any specifics, but I do assure you, it was quite serious. Thankfully, they lived. They are now going through the traumas of understanding their prognoses and comprehending all the horrible consequences of what has happened. Again, I assure you, what they are going through is not anything that would be taken lightly by anyone.

    Through all this, the family has been receiving periodic reports of the process from my grandmother. These letters are basically outlines of the details of the dire situation. And they all end with the same tagline: "God is good."

    And with each and every correspondence, I wish to reply, "What the fucking hell do you mean by that? If your god were 'good,' they wouldn't be in this situation to begin with! Your god would have altered the course of events, or the laws of physics! This would have never happened! Where the fuck do you get off in proclaiming this situation 'good'?!"

    Thursday, March 03, 2011

    Queer Press Support Post

    So, Harding University's blocking their Queer Press from being viewed on campus. My hope is that if there're enough mirrors of the zine, they can't keep the message out!

    At some point, I may write about this fantastic piece of guerrilla journalism and how I admire the courage of those who produced it, but for the moment, well. I really think it speaks for itself.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    Can We Rock Beyond Belief?

    **EDIT (part two):  Those fucking hypocritical, lying bastards. Rock Beyond Belief has been canceled due to what, from the evidence, I can only assume is Colonel Stephen J. Sicinski's utter lack of moral fiber (though I'm sure he'll claim that he is being "moral" by killing this event), lack of dedication to the defense of the U.S. Constitution (which, I hear, is one of those things you swear to defend as a member of the armed forces), and general self-righteous favoritism.**