My husband and I were at the Woody's BBQ the other day for lunch
when, at the table behind us, these people started talking about the
end times. Out loud. Like it was just the most normal thing. They
talked about how all signs pointed to Jesus coming back very soon.
The discussion ended with the matriarch saying, "I don't know when
he's coming back but I'm waiting. He comes when he comes."
This is the most
I really, really
don't get it.
I remember once a
long time ago, one of my relatives was asking me about religion for
some reason and she said, "Does it make you uncomfortable?" I think
the implication was that the idea of the Christian god and Jesus
make nonbelievers uncomfortable because we're somehow actually
afraid, or worried, or...I don't know.
Well, I'm here to
tell you that, yes...listening to otherwise normal people talk about
the end times and Jesus coming back makes me very uncomfortable. But
it's not because it scares me, or makes me think maybe there's
something wrong with me, like, I need Jesus. No. It makes me
uncomfortable that I could be sitting so close to people so
incredibly, deeply deluded. It's freaky.
I just do not
understand religion. I don't understand how anyone can look at this
world and believe that there is a god who is intimately interested
in his or her sex life. And I don't understand how anyone could
believe the Bible is in any way true and that Jesus, who most likely
never even existed, is going to return and usher in some kind of
paradise on earth...or whatever crazy thing Christians believe.
People like this
look at Muslims, especially the most fanatical, radical Muslims and
call them crazy. But they're not very different. So, sure, talk like
that is a little scary. I mean, look at it this way: there is no god
anywhere telling any of us what it wants and certainly there is no
god around telling Christians what the Bible means. They all think
it means what they want it to mean, or what their preacher tells
them it means. Look, you've got some of them talking about
homosexuality warranting the death penalty, so don't try to tell me
right-wing, fanatical Christians are harmless.
I used to whisper
when I said the word atheist. But not anymore. We've got crazy
people talking about god and Jesus and the end times out loud, in
public. I think it's time we stopped hiding the fact that there are
plenty of us around who aren't deluded by religion.
I'm an atheist.
Does that make you uncomfortable? Why?
So...I go to the art show downtown and this guy hands me a flyer
that says: I Love Chocolate.
And I'm like, I
love chocolate, give me one of those. But, the picture on the front
has a lady drinking something called "double mocha espresso," so,
I'm like, ich, coffee. Well, as it turns out, the guy who gave me
this flyer is a lunatic. A Jews for Jesus lunatic.
Oh, look how great
chocolate is, except, dang it, it doesn't last. What does? Jesus!
Jesus. Your no caffeine, zero calorie source of comfort!
And get the "please
don't litter" request at the bottom! Yeah, well, I didn't throw it
away. All I can say is, Oh, my friggin' gawd. You can't even enjoy
the art show without nuts. But we had a good laugh reading it.
So, I was reading
this article about Lee Strobel, the guy who likes to tell people
he used to be an atheist but if you ask me he most likely never
thought deeply enough for it to actually have happened. I mean,
really. After reading his book, The Case for Christ, I could
tell he doesn't think very deeply at all. Anyway, as I was reading
the article, one thought struck me. Here's an excerpt:
author Lee Strobel has teamed up with Houston Baptist University to
launch a new initiative that will address the urgent “crisis” of
skepticism and non-belief that he believes is running rampant in
American society. “We are facing a crisis in America. Skepticism is
rising. Too many young people are leaving the faith. Few Christians
are able to effectively share Jesus with others,” Strobel told the
outlet. “At many churches, reaching spiritually lost people falls to
the bottom of their priorities. This is a crisis we need to confront
Here's what I was
thinking when I read this. How would it be if instead, the article
author Lee Strobel has teamed up with Houston University to launch a
new initiative that will address the urgent “crisis” of religion and
belief that he believes is running rampant in American society. “We
are facing a crisis in America. Religion is rising. Too many young
people are joining churches. Few atheists are able to effectively
share logic and reason with others,” Strobel told the outlet. “At
many places of science and research, reaching religious people falls
to the bottom of their priorities. This is a crisis we need to
confront — urgently!”
Can you imagine the
outcry? Can you hear Christians screaming out their persecution
complexes? How dare we try to evangelize people into atheism! How
dare we spread our "non-values" to the world! (Because anyone who
doesn't share their values must not have any.) Anyway, this
hypocritical nature has always bugged me. I suppose it's what
happens when your religion is the favored one. Must be hard to see
the world objectively when you're in your safe "Christian nation"
bubble. But clearly, the skin of that bubble is wearing thin
because, as this article shows us, they're losing their majority
So, Strobel and a
couple of his buddies have created this program at Houston Baptist
University called The Center for American Evangelism. One of its
courses is called, according to the article, “Evangelism, The
Unexpected Adventure.“ Sounds like one of their Vacation Bible
School curricula, doesn't it?
The class, which
costs $200, will equip students to naturally speak about Jesus “in
an increasingly diverse and skeptical world.”
Good luck with
Oh, my god*, I got into another argument online. There's just no
satisfaction in it, you know? Clearly, other people get something
out of it. I don't. But, I figured out a way that I can. Heh, heh.
I'm going to post it right here. I'm giddy with snarcastic glee at
the very thought of it. So, let's do it.
I had the
unfortunate opportunity to try to read an article at The Atlantic:
Irrational Atheism**. It was supposedly written by an atheist
and let me tell you, does it prove my point: you don't have to be a
rationalist, or even very smart, to be an atheist. I got to the
line, "I have taken a leap of atheist faith," and had to stop
reading. It's like, ohmyfrickingod when will the stupid stop? It
won't, I guess. Anyway, against my better judgement, I commented. I
figured, as long as I'm commenting, I ought to get something out of
it, so, I included the title of my book at the end. I thought this
was quite brilliant. I'm sure it's also arrogant; but I hear a
certain amount of hubris is required to merely write a book, much
less tell people about it. So, I suppose I'm just the person for the
I should have known
better than to respond to this guy. He's still over there making
snotty comments to people. Anyway, his "logic" is nothing more than
the typical nonsense of stating that lacking a belief is a belief.
Somehow, in this guy's mind, not seeing meaning or purpose in
"reality," is taking a leap of faith. Refraining from making
judgements is taking a leap of faith. It's absurd. And
unfortunately, still a tad infuriating. But, stupidity often is.
He calls atheists
"so called," because...let's see if we can figure out what he's
trying to say (a pretty good indicator of bullshit is a lot of words
that don't really say anything)...when you refrain from seeing
meaning and purpose, you take a leap of faith, and the "fact" that
you can't even see what you're doing there, makes you not a real
atheist... Because you wander in and out of...? What the fuck?
Look, the universe
either has meaning and purpose or it doesn't. But we don't know
whether it does or not...right? I mean, to a rationalist (to anyone
who is honest enough to admit it, frankly) it looks like there is no
purpose, no meaning. But honesty also means admitting that it's
possible (in the way that nearly anything is possible)...we
just don't know. Nobody knows.
trying to force a meaning or purpose onto something when we have no
evidence that would urge us to do so is not a bias, it's not faith.
There you go.
Because I don't agree with him, I've provided him with another
example of someone who doesn't agree with him. The guy's got it all
He doesn't know how to use the word
"oxymoron" correctly, either. Evidence of meaning does not at all
produce an incongruous or self-contradictory effect. You know, like
jumbo shrimp. There can be evidence of meaning in people's lives, in
literature, etc. I'm not so sure I'm prepared to say there could not
be any evidence of meaning or purpose to life, "reality," or the
universe--if it were there. I'm willing to engage the idea that if there were purpose
to the universe, we might be able to detect and discuss, even study,
evidence of it.
He says we "ignore"
meaning. So, he's pretty much saying that there is, for a fact,
meaning and anyone who chooses to "ignore" it, or not "believe in"
it, is biased, or having a "faith" that there isn't any meaning in
the universe. OMG. Just insert God where you say universe and this
is just another stupid theist argument for belief. And once again, I
was treated to nonsense under the guise of meaning: "Someone you
could really call an atheist is incredibly rare, since you're [sic]
have to forgo all possible symbolism in reality." What? What does
that mean? NOTHING! It means nothing. Wait...is that the "you can't
know god doesn't exist because you'd have to know everything to know
that and you don't" non-argument? SMH. Why do I talk to crazy
The best part of
this guy's response, though, is his calling my statements "scientistic."
This is just the same old, "you worship science instead of god"
meme. "You've got to put your faith somewhere," the believer tells
you. "I put mine in God; you put yours in science. You're no
different, no better." See? Bullshit. There is something really
wrong with people who don't even understand what science is.
Here's a clue:
Don't try to dismiss an irrational person by making fun of him with
a metaphor. Stupid people can't make connections. Remember? And the
dude even got in the "militant" barb. That's right. Speaking my
mind = militant! Making a rational argument = militant! Let's face
it, to people like MarkML, just being an atheist = militant!
Aw, sorry I scared
you irrational dude. But...instead of being scared, maybe you could
try being logical. Yes, folks, you read that right. Nobody without a
degree in psychology could know anything about the human condition.
Well, you know what? I'm just as good as a psychologist...I'm an
*You'll just have
to buy my book to know what I think about that. (You see what I did
**Is the hyperlink the new "quotes" for titles?
Well, it seems I've rekindled my blog. Fine, fine. Just don't expect
much. Below are some very old blog posts I found in my archives.
July 23, 2006
On July 6, I had a letter published in Florida Today in which
I said this: "Theocrats must think they've hit on a winning
strategy. They get their religion into our government under the
guise of secularism, and then use their victory to further their
I was talking about Florida's official adoption of "In God We Trust"
as our state motto. Theocrats get around doing crap like that by
saying that God, in this context, isn't religious, it's patriotic.
Same with the Pledge of Allegiance: Saying we're a nation under God
in no way makes the patriotic exercise into a religious one.
But then theocrats, or their army of drones, come at us with
nonsense like, "Our nation was founded on Christianity; why else
would we have our God in our motto and in our Pledge!" So, it's a
win-win strategy for them, and we all lose.
And sure enough, today, we find this letter by Thelma Craigie in
U.S. mottos underline commitment to God
A July 6 letter to the editor was headlined "Use God in government
and it cheapens both." Our nation's laws were founded on God's law.
There is a level of commitment and acknowledgement he is God. In the
"Star Spangled Banner," we sing "And this be our motto, In God is
our trust." On our coins it says "In God we trust." Our Pledge of
Allegiance says "One Nation under God." The Bible says the Lord is
our judge and our king. The Christian faith is the basis of the
freedom of our country."
If only Florida Today would publish an "I told you so" letter.
February 6, 2006
I receive the strangest mail. This story started with letters to
editors in some Florida papers. I received a few emails that
contained nothing but cut-and-pasted web pages. After the first, I
responded asking the sender why he sent it to me. And later, I told
him if he'd like to discuss something that would be great, but I
really wanted him to stop with the cutting and pasting of these
large documents and filling up my inbox.
He wrote back and said: "Maybe we didn't want to read your junk in
the Winter Haven news chief and Lakeland Ledger either so I'm giving
you what I believe. Jesus is Lord!! So remember, you started it."
Okay. So, I started it by getting published in the paper. Whatever.
We went back and forth and came to what I thought was an
understanding. He wouldn't bother me anymore. But then he sent me
another email. I'm not complaining really; I don't mind if people
want to talk. He didn't, after all, just send another web page.
He sent me this [There are too many errors in this email to keep
putting sic all over it; so just muddle through the best you can.
It's pretty bad]:
From: deleted to protect the delusional
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006 10:03 AM
To: Dianna Narciso
I was reading my Bible and guess what?, you are mentioned in there.
read Psalms 53:1. I know that the following men are not as
intelligent as you are, but I want to give you some quotes.(1) "To
suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for
adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different
amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic
aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I
freely confress, absurd in the highest possible degree....The belief
that an organ as perfect as the eye could have formed by natural
selection is more than enough to stagger anyone.
(2)"This most elegant system of suns and planets can only arise
from the purpose of an intelligent and mighty Being."
(3) "The harmony of natural law reveals an intelligence of
such superiority that compared with it, all the systematic thinking
of human beings is utterly insignificant."
If it its all the same to you, sweetie, I think I'll stick with my
original belief in the Bible and God and His Son.
Oh yes, Who said those quotes above?
(1) Charles Darwin: Shute,E., Flaws in the Theory of Evolution,
Craig Press, pp127-128
(2) Sir Isaac Newton.
(3) Albert Einstein.
I'll give you the last word because I believe this should come to a
end, don't you? Sincerely [deleted], Florida
I'm sure your wheels are turning like mad with ideas on how to
respond to all this. Here's what I said:
I hadn't realized we had "started something" to end, but all
right…we'll end it. I certainly appreciate being "given" the last
word, but I always get the last word when I want it. I have two
blogs filled with last words.
Anyway, back to ending this.
I do not, nor did I ever, care what you or anyone else believes. I'm
sure I never said you should not believe whatever you wish. You are
free to continue to believe in your gods and your holy book. I have
always only demanded that you respect the rights of conscience for
everyone else on this planet, and in this country, by keeping
religion and government separate.
I am not surprised anymore when I am insulted by Christians. I've
grown used to it over the years. The typical response to being
called a fool by a Christian is to quote Jesus back to him: Matthew
5:22. But they always have a witty rationalization for why it's okay
for them to do what Jesus asks them not to. I'll ignore the
"sweetie" remark, as that may be attributable to some misogynist
tendency on your part that may or may not be (though likely is)
related to your religion.
You also insult me when you snidely claim that I would pretend an
intelligence greater than Darwin, Newton, or Einstein. You mean to
call me vain, I suppose. Not knowing me, I suppose you say such a
thing because I do not believe in god, and those men, supposedly,
did. Certainly Darwin was a theist. He remained a believer of sorts
even after his work on the Beagle. But he was not a Christian.
Newton, certainly was as far as I recall.
Einstein was not a
religious man and said as much:
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious
convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not
believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have
expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called
religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of
the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein in
Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas
(Einstein's secretary) and Banesh Hoffman, and published by
Princeton University Press.
But the point you were trying to make illustrates very well the
difference between you and me, and between science and religion.
Science does not work like religion. In religion, you have great men
who speak for gods. They tell you what to think and everything they
say is held dear. Science does not respect every word out of the
mouths of great scientists merely because they say it, and because
they are great scientists. Science respects the things great
scientists say that can be shown to be factual.
So, what Darwin, Newton, or Einstein said is meaningless in the
debate over religion, science, and human origins. It just doesn't
matter what they believed. It only matters what can be tested and
shown to be factual. But, just to show you that people are so much
more complicated than you would apparently like them to be, here is
Darwin, from his autobiography, Recollections of the Development of
my Mind and Character, 1876:
"....During these two years (March 1837 - January 1839) I was led
to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite
orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several
officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an
unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was
the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually
come by this time (i.e. 1836 to 1839) to see the Old Testament, from
its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel,
the rain-bow as a sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God
the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than
the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian....
....Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at
last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and
have never since doubted for a single second that my conclusion was
correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish
Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text
seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would
include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be
And this is a damnable doctrine...."
As to the quote you offered by Darwin on the development of the eye,
I must apologize to you profusely. You have been duped...badly.
There are people in this world who, like you, very much believe that
there is a God and he had a son and he wrote a book called the
Bible. And they are willing to say anything to get other people to
believe it, too. They are even willing to lie. Perhaps, like St.
Paul, they believe that lying for God is okay. (Romans 3:7)
If you had read Darwin's
The Origin of Species yourself, you would know that Darwin,
throughout his work, posed rhetorical situations regarding the
impossibility of this or that by natural selection, only to continue
to explain in what way natural selection could, in fact, explain it.
After making the rhetorical claim you quoted about the eye, Darwin
goes on to say:
"When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world
turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine
false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every
philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me,
that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one
complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful
to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever
varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the
case and if such variations should be useful to any animal under
changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a
perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though
insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as
subversive of the theory."
And scientists have gained a lot more information since Darwin's
day. Darwin didn't know anything about genetics, for example. The
study of genetics has gone on to shape and mature Darwin's theory of
So, I suppose this
ends it. Here is where it stands: Some people believe that the
Christian God exists. Whenever they get information that seems to
discredit science, they use it. But they are wrong. They are wrong
for one of two reasons. Either they have not bothered to educate
themselves about the science they denigrate and do not understand,
or they refuse to accept whatever evidence they come across in that
study because it defies their cherished belief.
But either way,
they are willfully blind.
January 30, 2006
It took me a while, but now I'd like to respond to this
blog by Danny Carlton, in
which he calls me and the Musgroves vampires. Carlton quotes an
Associated Press article giving the basic details of the lawsuit
against Brevard County over allowing graduations to take place in a
church. Then he says: "So according to Judge Gregory Presnell
bigotry and intolerance is constitutional?!? Since when? How much
harm would it do these kids to see a cross or a Bible from a
distance. What, are they vampires?"
Carlton is a deeply religious man, I find his insulting comments
unsurprising (while at the same time feeling more respect for former
President Jimmy Carter, another deeply religious man whose book I am
reading, who would probably agree with the judge in this case).
Point 1: Judge
Presnell did not say that bigotry and intolerance are
constitutional. Carlton's obfuscation is blatant and bizarre. The
lawsuit was not about bigotry or intolerance; it was about
separation of religion and government. The government can not compel
any person to visit a church. By holding the solemn and important
ceremony of graduation in a church, students and their families were
compelled to choose between entering a house of Christian worship or
missing this event.
voting in churches here to nip in the bud the arguments from those
chomping at the bit: by law, churches opening their doors to voters
must cover religious symbols. Also, voting absentee or early in
little way renders the act any less patriotic, while graduating with
one's class in cap and gown imbues the ceremony with import and
grants lifetime memories to the student and parents. Graduation from
high school is a once-in-a-lifetime event.]
The government is
not allowed to invite students to churches. Judges have already
agreed that when assemblies are held in schools, the presenters are
not allowed to invite the students to a church afterward, or to any
event that is religious. Why? Because the school authorizes the
assembly and by allowing the presenters to invite the students to a
religious event, even held outside school hours and off school
property, the school is thereby authorizing the religious
invitation. And government schools can't do that. They have no
business inviting our children to attend religious events.
similar. When the school program is held in a house of worship, on
an altar, in front of an enormous cross, the school is giving the
appearance of endorsing Christianity. And not all parents will be
comfortable watching their children receiving diplomas against the
backdrop of a religious symbol. Certainly not all students will feel
welcome in that venue. Religion is divisive. Keep it out of
government and government schools.
So, this has
nothing to do with bigotry or intolerance, except that directed
toward the Musgroves and me for standing up for the rights of all
students and their parents to be free from religious coercion by the
Point 2: How much
harm would it do these kids to see a cross or a Bible from a
distance? (That, Mr. Carlton, is not your call. It is my decision
what my children will learn regarding your cross and holy book.) But
again, Carlton's obfuscation is desperate. This is not about our
kids seeing a cross or Bible "from a distance." This is about being
compelled to enter a house of worship for a solemn and important
ceremony and enjoying a life-changing moment on an altar in front of
an enormous Christian cross.
Point 3: No, we're
not vampires. Seeing a cross or a Bible doesn't hurt us. If you can
not understand why it is wrong to take a secular ceremony and move
it to a church, I don't know if there is any hope for you on this
issue. But think about it this way: Can the school erect an enormous
cross in its auditorium for graduation ceremonies? Of course not.
So, it can not put the ceremony in front of a cross. If Palm Bay
High School chose to use another school's auditorium for graduation,
would the kids feel comfortable graduating with, say, a huge wooden
cut-out of Melbourne High School's mascot with the letters MHS on it
as a backdrop? Wouldn't they cover that up? Of course they would.
Why? Because symbols have meaning.
And there's the
rub. The church is God's house when they don't want to pay taxes on
it or want to scream "hate crime" when someone vandalizes it. But
when they want secular school students in it, suddenly it's just a
building. And the cross is their holy symbol, meant to show God's
greatest gift to mankind (self-torture), until they want students in
the building for a solemn secular ceremony; then it's just two
Would Carlton step
up for religious freedom if his children's graduation ceremonies
were scheduled to take place in the American Atheists' headquarters
against the backdrop of a huge sign that reads: NO GODS? How about
in the local Satanist Church with a pentagram behind the altar as
well as on the floor upon which students will stand to receive
diplomas? ....I thought so.
It's very clear to
me with whom the bigotry and intolerance lies.
January 1, 2006
Happy New Year! It's been an amazing year for me and for Space Coast
Freethought Association. Reading over the past year's blog reminded
me of all we've done. It's hard to believe all that happened in just
one year. I'd like to start the new year off right by exemplifying
the treatment atheists receive regularly from the general public.
Often people like to pretend that we're a Christian nation where
other religions and atheism are tolerated. But atheists get
reminders all the time about just how tolerated we would be if this
were a Christian nation. There are always letters to editors
letting us know that if we don't like the way things are done here,
we should just leave. But sometimes we get to the heart of what's
really on the minds of religionists.
I had a recent
letter published at the TCPalm
website for Treasure Coast newspapers. My letter was published
on December 21 and can be found in the letters archive section for a
while, I suppose. [No longer available] With their new website,
users can respond to letters and articles online by clicking the
comment link below them. A man named Vernon Shiloh responded to my
letter with this:
Good Lord, it's scary to know that someone like DIANNA NARCISO is
living in this area. Isn't there some government agency she is
required to register with? If not, there should be!
9:54:22 p.m. on December 21, 2005
VERNON SHILOH | #
I also responded to
some of the other letters and Vernon Shiloh has seen fit to make
some other interesting comments to and about me.
I responded to a
letter called "Remembering Christ at Christmas." Actually, I was
responding to other responders. So, Vernon Shiloh called me a drunk:
NARCISO, I don't know what heathern diety you worship, but if I had
to guess, it would be clothed in a brown paper bag and usually
worshipped when people are not looking. Quite often your diety will
manifest itself when you are required to blow into a little tube,
after being confronted by a heathern Christian wearing a badge, and
having a little blue flashing light on top his sleigh.
10:15:20 p.m. on December 21, 2005
VERNON SHILOH | #
atrocious spelling. Why is that so common with bigots? What is a
heathern anyway? And it's deity, not diety. Diety isn't a word is
it? I've been all diety lately from lack of junk food? I don't think
so. I did NOT respond to "Just can't get enough Christmas," but
Vernon felt it necessary to attack me there anyway:
And Merry Christmas
to you Robin....I can smell those cookies and feel the happiness in
your home through your loving words.
Too bad a pathetic soul like DIANNA NARCISO is being eaten from the
inside out with such smoldering internal hate. I truly hope she is,
or is destined to be a barren woman, so as to not further
contaminate the world with any offspring who might sadly be reared
by her and "conditioned" to carry on her wrath.
10:30:17 p.m. on December 21, 2005
VERNON SHILOH | #
Same thing with
"Vero lacks Christmas spirit":
May its because
DIANNA NARCISO has a lot of her relatives living there.
9:59:11 p.m. on December 21, 2005
VERNON SHILOH | #
So far he's gone
quiet. Of course, I don't read the comments of everything in that
paper so who knows. It's comforting to know that there are Vernon
Shiloh's in the world showing people just what religious intolerance
and bigotry are all about. Maybe they'll make the connection and
finally understand the danger minorities face when religion and
government are merged.
October 4, 2005
Check out George Colburn's LTE in Florida Today, published on
October 1: [that hyperlink won't be good forever...darn Florida
Washington saw nation as being 'under God' [I can't fault him for
the title; we LTE ranters don't get to make those up.]
"In regards to all the controversy over our Pledge of Allegiance
having the phrase 'under God,' and therefore being unconstitutional
for recitation in public schools, as some courts have claimed, I
would point to the words of George Washington as suitable precedent
from on of our Founding Fathers. In July 1776, the leader of the
Continental Army fighting for our independence wrote, 'The fate of
unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and
conduct of this army.'
Let us never give in to the atheists. We always have been a
Don't you just love
bigots? They make things really easy for smart people...but
stupidity sure does spread quickly among them. Where to start.....?
First, IF the quote
by Washington was accurate, which it is not, it would mean nothing.
Washington, in Colburn's mangled rendition, appears to be saying
that the FATE of unborn millions is under God. What the hell does
that mean? It's a good thing that's not what Washington said.
"The fate of unborn millions will now depend on God, on the courage
and conduct of this army."
Second, if the
Founding Fathers words and actions are precedent...we'd still be
owning slaves and denying women the right to vote. Sheesh, Colburn,
get a clue.
And third, thanks
for making it very clear to everyone that you don't think atheists
deserve the same rights you have. At least you're not pretending to
grant us equality out of one side of your face while denying it out
of the other like so many of your friends.
Dear Mr. Swank,
Thank you for adding to the vitriol with your inappropriately named
truth about separation of church and state. We're all so happy
to have been twisted about to fit your pretzel, I'm sure. I have to
say, you had me in agreement with paragraphs two through six. (I
wasn't sure what the first line was all about.) I'm not a liberal,
so if you want to lash out at them for something you feel they did
wrong, go for it. But, as I continued on with paragraph seven, I
began to understand that not only do you not understand the
separation problem (dare I say, "per usual"), but you even fail to
target your opponent.
Let me help you
out. It'll make me feel better. After all, as evidenced by the entry
for September 1, you'll realize I've been in a bad mood of late.
secularists aren't liberals. And all liberals are not secularists.
Secularists are those people who understand the importance of
freedom of conscience and who demand that government recognize that
freedom in its dealings with the citizenry. So, you see, many people
who are not secularists, are not so because they do not understand
it. And many people are not secularists because they're bigots.
After you read this, you can tell me of which sort you are.
paragraph seven of the 'truth' <ahem>, you say that liberals want to
redefine the phrase 'separation of church and state' to "exclude
Judeo-Christian religious expression in America." Naturally I balked
at such an absurd idea. I wanted some specifics...and you valiantly
attempted to offer evidence for your accusation. You failed,
however, first to link secularism with those nasty liberals. [You
know, there are a lot of Christian liberals. A lot, a lot.] Then you
failed to adequately prove such a notion. [I notice you like to use
the word "prostituted" a lot. I'm wondering if there's anything
Freudian in that.] Your evidence involves the idea that the
prostitution-oriented, liberal secularists are trying to oust
religion from America by the strange method of replacing it with
Islam. [I'm confused, here.] The specifics are as follows.
districts [unnamed] are hiring Muslims [unnamed] to speak to
teachers [unnamed, of course] about giving Muslim students honor and
space. This is very bad, you seem to think. "No such invitation, of
course, has been extended to Judeo-Christian specialists speaking to
public school educators on how to give Judeo-Christian adherents
honor and space." Well, my first question would be, do we NEED
Judeo-Christian specialists to do that? Are Jewish and Christian
students having a problem? Are they a minority that is being left
out somehow? If that were true, I am sure people like you would see
to it that Christian specialists, at least, were hired to talk to
the apparently non-Christian teachers about how to honor and "space"
the Christian students among the non-Christian majority. Funny, I'm
not seeing the world that way at all. Didn't you, after all, just
spend a few paragraphs telling us about our Judeo-Christian heritage
and how we "tolerate" other religions? And now you're complaining
that the majority Christian student population needs help with honor
and space? Something's not right here.
Two: In a nearby
[where?] high school [unnamed], a prayer room has been set aside for
Muslim students. This is very bad, you say. "No such prayer room or
any other respect has been presented those of the Judeo-Christian
heritage." Well, let's see...do Christians have to pray at certain
times during the day to keep a commandment? I didn't think so. So,
why would they need a prayer room? What other "respect" do they
need? I may be with you on this one, anyway, Mr. Swank. We might
need to take it to court and get a clear <cough> judgment on it. It
seems to me that if you're going to attend a government, secular
school, you'll have to do your praying in silence somewhere...like
the rest of the students. But I'll have to think about it some more.
So that's it.
That's your evidence that "liberals will do whatever it takes to
obliterate America of its rightful Judeo-Christian heritage." That's
sort of silly, really. Again, if you didn't get it the first time: a
lot of liberals are Christians. And secularists...well, you don't
understand secularists at all, do you? I wonder why that is? Before
I explain secularism to you, let's take a look at something really
You said, "This is
accented every year particularly during the Christmas season. Any
other so-called 'religious expression' can come to the fore but the
Christian particulars must be silenced at all costs."
I have to giggle
there. I'm wondering what sorts of "other" religious expressions you
might find at the "Christmas" season. As if...Christians own the
season! Ah, well. You are wrong again, of course. The concern is not
to get rid of the Christmas symbols and replace them with other
religious symbols. If you really think that's what it's about, I
have to wonder where you've been.
Now, here's your
call to arms: "What those of the Judeo-Christian heritage must do —
and far more concertedly than they have ever done in the past — is
to make clear to the public what 'separation of church and state'
So, I must ask you,
Mr. Swank, what exactly DOES separation of church and state REALLY
Of course it does
not mean to wipe religious expression out of America. And it doesn't
mean to wipe Christianity and its expression out. No one [except
those who don't understand it] thinks it does. Not the liberals, and
not the secularists. No one wants to stop you, or any American, from
expressing his religion at any time, at any place. Americans should
be free to worship, to gather, to build churches, to collect money,
to spread the word, to debate and disagree. That's freedom of
religion. We're supposed to have that here.
Americans should also be able to be free from religion, if they
choose. They should be free from any coercion by the government to
support, acknowledge, or endorse any god or religion. That's freedom
of religion. We should have that in America.
To separate church
and state means to allow freedom of religion in the only way
possible: by keeping religion and government separate. When
government endorses religion over non-religion, it infringes upon
the freedom of conscience of the nonreligious. When it endorses a
particular god, it infringes upon the freedom of conscience of
millions of citizens. When government acknowledges one religion, we
have no true freedom of religion.
Anyone who would
use the government of a religiously diverse population to
acknowledge, support, or endorse his god and/or his religion, is
Now, you have accused "liberals" of misunderstanding and misapplying
separation of church and state. I have to wonder how well you
understand it. Do you acknowledge the rights of non-Christians and
atheists to be free from government endorsement of your god through
the motto (changed in 1956), the Pledge (changed in 1954), money
(added beginning in 1864), and religious displays on government
Or are you just as
bad as those nonexistent, prostituting, liberals you attack in
warping the meaning of the phrase so as to allow government to
endorse only your god and your religion?
August 19, 2005
DH and I were recently discussing the basic human motivators. He's
got them down to just a few: greed, lust, anger, power and fear. I
think that's his list. When I look at them, I wonder if we can't
just boil them all down to fear--fear of loss, inadequacy, and the
the psychologist, created what he considered the hierarchy of human
needs. First are the survival needs, then safety, social,
self-esteem and finally, self-actualization needs. It was his
opinion that the lower-order needs must be fulfilled before higher
needs can be met. His hierarchy looks like this:
hunger, thirst, shelter, clothing, sex
physical, emotional, financial
love, affection, companionship, acceptance
achievement, recognition, attention, respect
reaching our full potential
psychologists spend much time ruminating about things and making up
answers to perceived problems, more often than not muddying things
up rather than clarifying. I think too often we try to make humans
into something more than what we are to explain our behavior in
anything but evolutionary terms. A better description of human
needs, I think, is
Alderfer's ERG which looks like this:
But I'd toss out
growth. Humans grow. I don't see growth as a motivator...or a need.
Existence is a very big motivator; though as modern humans we may
not feel it so much. Relatedness, I think, is the key. We fear
exclusion, abandonment, rejection, and death so deeply that we act
not only to avoid them, but to deny our own fear of them--to admit
the fear is to admit the possibility. Greed, lust, envy, pride,
gluttony, anger, and sloth are all methods we use to avoid and/or
deny the fear of abandonment, rejection, and death.
Greed: If we have
more, we will be loved more. If we are god-like, we won't die.
Lust: If we have more sex, we are loved more. If we reproduce a lot,
we won't die.
Envy: If we had what they had, we'd be loved more.
Gluttony: If we fill ourselves up with more food, sex, whatever,
we'll forget how little we feel loved.
Anger: We are so afraid of losing our place in our community
[family, tribe, life], we explode.
Sloth: If we stop trying, that we are unloved is not our fault.
Oddly enough, or
not, those are the seven deadly sins.
Why would modern
religion tell us to consider these motivators of human behavior
sinful? They'll say, I suppose, because those behaviors lead to
evil. I would disagree. It is true, I think, that unchecked [and
more importantly, unacknowledged], these behaviors can lead to
problems with our interpersonal relationships, which then only
exacerbate the origin of the behaviors and increase them. But, if we
stopped labeling these motivators as sinful, and accepted them as
natural human reactions to fear, wouldn't we then be more capable of
conquering said fear and living fulfilled and happy lives?
One would think.
And yet, modern religions are eager to make natural human behavior
into something vile and distasteful, if not outright deadly. We
ought to turn away from anything that reminds us that we are fearful
animals and instead concentrate on the lie that we are immortal
divine beings, or immortal children of a divine being [same
difference, if you ask me]. Why?
What is it about
religion that it calls us to deny our humanity and our fear, when
doing so only leads to neuroses? Religion can't survive unless it
denies reality. It creates that denial in us, agitates it with
threats of torture and abandonment (by the divine parent), and then
increases our anxiety by not allowing us to act on the confusion it
has created in us. We must trust, with faith, that we are
control the people through agitation and fear. So do religions.
August 11, 2005
Here's another interesting letter. In the Pensacola News Journal
today, Don Dippel Sr., a regular letter writer like myself, said
that letters claiming God was unfair to cause "hurricanes,
accidents, cancer and other calamities" were nothing more than
"self-righteous drivel." He was pretty upset about it. He said that
we don't know even 1% of everything there is to know. Then he went
on to say stuff like: God knows 100% of what can be known; those who
disdain God's rules are the ones breaking them; those same people
think they can judge God; "the truth is we are all sinners;" we
deserve punishment for breaking God's law; God was perfectly
justified to leave us in that sin state; God sent his only son to
pay the penalty for us; God only asks that we accept this gift;
After accepting said gift, we will experience the joy of living in
fellowship with God.
So, for someone who
admits he knows less than 1% of all there is to know, Mr. Dippel
sure claims to know a lot about this character he calls God.
His final words are priceless. He says, "Stop being so
Right back at ya,
Dippel, you funny guy.
August 3, 2005
One of my LTEs got a response--that's always exciting. My letter was
titled "Prayer doesn't work" and was published in the Pensacola News
Journal on July 22nd. I was responding to a guest column by Reginald
Dogan who claimed that he prayed about hurricane Dennis and his god
saw fit to lessen its strength and spare Pensacola. He claimed this
was a scientifically observable phenomenon. Well, naturally, I said
that he was mistaken. I said that what he was saying, basically, was
that his prayers were answered while the prayers of thousands during
the season of 2004 were not. What made his prayers worthy? I also
mentioned that people pray all the time when children go missing;
but usually those prayers aren't answered. I said that Christians
make up excuses for why their prayers aren't answered the way they
hoped. One of those excuses is that the will of their god takes
precedent over what they want. So, why bother praying?
Bob Ward of Myrtle
Grove answered that question with his letter, published August 2.
Here is his profound explanation:
"Sometimes say no" [I find this title intriguing--I wonder what the
editor was thinking]
In response to Dianna Narciso's letter appearing in the July 22 News
Journal (''Prayer doesn't work''), it is my experience that God
always answers prayers. Sometimes he says no.
So, that's it.
Sometimes, God says no. Please God, save my child from the
pedophile/murderer. No. Please God, save my children from starving
to death. Nope. Sorry. Please God, save me from this
rapist/murderer. No. Ain't gonna do it. And yet, if an athlete prays
to god for a win, God often says, sure. God took the time and energy
to put George W. Bush in the oval office, but he wouldn't save three
boys who'd accidentally locked themselves in the trunk of a car in
What kind of god do
these people worship? And, why?
June 30, 2005
I just finished reading
Godless in America: Conversations with an Atheist, by George
Ricker. In his book, Mr. Ricker describes coming face-to-face with
his own mortality--that moment during which evangelical Christians
claim we atheists will backslide faster than Jimmy Swaggart in a
strip club. But, as Mr. Ricker describes it, he never considered
gods or the hereafter when he thought he was going to die...instead,
he thought of his family and friends, the people he loved.
That reminded me of
something that happened to me about thirteen years ago. I developed
a lump on my neck. Naturally I imagined all sorts of horrors, most
notably, cancer. My first doctor's visit did nothing to allay those
fears, and in fact, made them worse when I told her that it didn't
hurt. She seemed to think that was not a good sign. From that point
I was passed along from specialist to specialist and had some very
interesting tests and procedures that finally pinpointed the
problem. It was a my thyroid and not life-threatening.
But in those couple of weeks of waiting and wondering, and being
probed and photographed, I went about wavering between numbness and
constant tears. There I was with a brand-new baby and a toddler
under two. I was going to die soon and they were going to be without
a mother! How would that affect them? Would they be wounded badly? I
decided to tell my husband to please marry someone else as quickly
as possible so the children would think they had a mother all along.
That thought only sent me into more spasms of tears. How could I
expect my husband to just marry someone else so quickly? But he HAD
to! I even thought about finding him a new spouse before I died.
I didn't tell him any of that, of course.
Well, as you see, I
didn't die. And now that I recall it, I realize I never once thought
about gods or the afterlife. I was never afraid of a hell; I didn't
even think about a heaven. I was concerned only with my husband and
children and their welfare. I recall also spending a good amount of
time imagining all the things in their lives I would miss. I planned
letters I would write to them to be opened on those important
occasions. But I spent no time concerned with my actual death.
Now, I don't know
what that says about me personally. But I think it says one very
clear thing about Christians who are so quick to presume what other
people will think or feel in frightening situations. They obviously
have so little confidence in their faith and so much fear of death
that they can not imagine someone else not also being so neurotic.
May 19, 2005
It's been an interesting couple of days, to say the least. I've
learned quite a bit. One thing I learned is that reporters are
pretty sloppy. I've been in the news quite a bit and too many times
the facts were just wrong. And when certain people get hold of a
wrong fact, they really don't want to let it go. I've also learned
that people make connections in their own heads that shouldn't
necessarily be made. That's due to a horrible lack of critical
thinking skills, if you ask me. Still, all in all, the press wasn't
I'd like to share
with you some of the hate mail I've received. (It's always fun to
irritate people.) Virtually everyone who wrote me, did so through
the Space Coast Freethought Association's website, because, for some
odd reason, they thought SCFA was a plaintiff in a court case
instead of me. Silly people. So, some of the mail is directed at all
As is the usual practice in sharing hate mail, I'll leave all the
spelling errors as they were when we received them.
From Mark W. we
have this lovely comment:
"You and your group are a complete waste of oxygen, the
repercussions of your graduation debacle will come back to haunt
you. Ceratinly you can dedicate your cause to something worthwhile
but no, you feel you can impose your will on the majority who want
the graduation at Calvery. I suppose it's OK to vote at a church
since I don't hear a peep out of you at election time. Hippocrites!"
Well, Mark, what
can I say? I guess we're not allowed to complain about one case
unless we've first complained about the cases you think we ought to
be complaining about. But then, you really have no idea what we've
complained about and what we haven't. You also have no idea what
thought and work go into deciding what you're going to fight and how
and what you're going to wait and see on. But then, deep
consideration of the issues is probably not your strong point.
Jarred L. had this
"To Whom It May Concern, Your recent actions against the Brevard
County School board are utterly rediculous. Thousands of graduating
high school seniors and families are looking to celebrate a
significant milestone in their lives. For this organization to
support and try to keep graduation ceremonies from occuring because
of the building in which they take place, is to put it simply,
absurd. It doesn't matter what building the commencements take place
in, no one is celebrating religion or even acknoledging a higher
power. If one feels they can not accept the place of graduation,
they're always welcomed to not participate, but to try and ruin a
clebration of education is proposterous ! This organization should
be ashamed of itself for trying to upset thousands of graduation
seniors and their families."
I just have to
wonder if Jarred would feel the same way if the ceremony was held at
the American Atheists headquarters...or a mosque, or maybe a druid
circle out in the woods.
Roger G. wrote
"Well, maybe you're getting some of the 'press' you must desparately
need because I saw your organization's name alongside the idiocy one
of your members is displaying in protest over the location of his
child's graduation. Too bad a child has to be submitted to such
forms of parental abuse, that is, growing up with the prejudices
foisted upon the child by such a parent. The 'hall' in which a
graduation is held is pretty irrelevant, given the excitement of
such an event for the kids. Y'all ought to find a worthy endeavor or
two. Be Well Stay Fit *-R-*"
What prejudices are
the parents in question foisting upon their children? I don't get
it. And it's not a "hall," it's a church sanctuary. But thanks for
the thought on fitness...I guess.
May 10, 2005
Yesterday, in the Herald Today out of Bradenton, Nancy L. Davis, in
a letter to the editor, had this to say:
"I would also like to comment on another letter the same day,
entitled 'Free not to believe,' written by atheist Dianna Narciso,
in which she takes issue with the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge
of Allegiance. Ms. Narciso, whether you want to believe history or
not, this country was founded by believers. The majority of our
population are believers and we continue to want it that way. The
last statement in your letter read, 'How can this country be
indivisible if we let religion divide us?' It isn't religion that
divides us, it is the atheists who want to take all semblance of God
out of our nation. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in a
country that doesn't believe in God but before you consider that,
you should read up on the history of that country and see if it
thrived. God bless America."
First, note how
Mrs. Davis makes a point of emphasizing my atheism. That is very
important to her. As an atheist, in her mind, my view is suspect.
Next, look at her assertion that our country was founded by
believers. She doesn't mention what our founders believed in; I
think we're supposed to take it on faith that it was whatever Mrs.
Davis believes in. She, naturally, completely misses the point that
whatever our founders believed or didn't, they created a secular
constitution, free of any mention of her God, Jesus or Christianity.
That the majority of people in this country are Christian "and want
it that way" is a very telling statement, indeed. What Mrs. Davis is
saying is that she and theocrats like her want to remain the
majority in this country and they are willing to infringe upon other
people's freedom of conscience to do it.
Mrs. Davis then
claims that it is the millions of American atheists who are the
problem. We're trying to take "all semblance of God out of our
nation" and that is causing dissent. Zealots excel at twisting their
opponents' arguments into extreme nonsense. Sometimes it feels that
trying to set the record straight is a wasted effort. Nonetheless,
here I go again: Secularists do not want to limit the freedoms of
believers; we want all people to enjoy freedom of conscience and
we're intelligent enough to know that when government acknowledges
gods and supports one faith over others or over no faith, we are not
I am aghast at Mrs.
Davis' insinuation that fighting against oppression and theocracy is
divisive and somehow bad. All Mrs. Davis needs to do, if it's
possible for her, which I doubt, is to imagine being on the other
side of the issue. She should imagine herself, a Christian, living
in a country filled with atheists. Now imagine they want her to say
a Pledge of Allegiance that states our country is "under no gods."
Is she trying to tell me that she wouldn't balk at such an
infringement on her right to believe? Of course she would.
Lucky for Mrs. Davis, no one wants the Pledge of Allegiance to say
any such thing. We'd just like it to stay silent on the issue of
gods. Somehow, for theocrats, if the government doesn't support
their god outright, it's somehow forcing atheism on them. That's
such an absurd idea; I am at a loss as to how to explain the very
reasonable idea of separation of religion and government to such
And finally, Mrs.
Davis tosses in the typical rallying cry of the bigot. If you don't
like it here, leave. I should consider living in a country that
doesn't believe in her God. But again, because she has so skewed my
argument, her offer is ridiculous. I'm not interested in living in a
country in which no one believes in her God. I'd like to live in a
country that recognizes everyone's rights to conscience in a secular
government. The best example of such a country was the United States
of America at its founding. But from the very beginning, theocrats
and zealots have fought against secular government. They are anxious
to instill in all our lives, their god, their morality, their
righteous indignation at not being allowed to control all of us.
The oddest thing
about Mrs. Davis' final statement is that she can make it without
thinking too deeply about it. If she did, she might think about,
perhaps, researching the history of countries with theocratic forms
of government. But I have a feeling that Mrs. Davis isn't really all
that interested in history, and I doubt she'd recognize the warning
signs as having anything at all to do with her theocratic
tendencies. That's the problem with dullards--they talk a lot
without thinking, and they offer a good deal advice without empathy.
March 20, 2005
So, there was this article in the newspaper the other day about a
lost dog. His owners lived somewhere up north when they lost him and
now they live here. Some guy found the dog and took him to his own
state and then got arrested. While he was in jail, the dog was found
by somebody else and they used his tag information to locate the
owners here. It's been a few years, apparently, since they lost him.
There's nothing truly remarkable about this story except that the
guy who found the dog never replaced the tag (no, it's not
remarkable at all that he never bothered to contact the owners).
However, the owners
here attribute the dog's return to God. That's right folks, God does
nothing while 9-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford of Homosassa is
abducted and murdered by a pedophile, but he returns these bozos'
dog. This is the all-powerful and benevolent God of Christianity.
Even the criminal
who had the dog attributes the coincidence to some spiritual
shenanigans. He said that was the reason he was arrested and jailed!
It was all so that the dog could find its original owners. Sheesh.
The world has gone completely mad and I'm stuck here in the middle
of it. No wonder I eat too much chocolate.