God Without Spellcheck

I love/hate this kind of thing. Either way, it’s often worth a laugh.

I’m sure you have your own unfavorite misspelled signs, posters, etc., from the goddy demographic. Send me some links! Let’s start a collection.

Small-Town Blowhard Kills Jesus

I wrote a piece for my local newspaper some weeks back, and it came out today in the Times Union newspaper of Albany, New York: Atheists Aim for Goodness.

Anytime you have a letter or an opinion piece on atheism in your local paper — something well worth doing, by the way — you get a storm of letters in response. Nice Christians diligently explain why you can’t possibly be right, and how you have no logical basis for your atheism, and even how there are no such things as real atheists.

The following week, some nice local priest, or a nice rabbi — both sure to have actual college degrees in the finer points of religion — point out the desperate flaws in atheism, which is, after all, a religion just like any other. Besides which, Hitler and Stalin.

But meanwhile, if you’ve done it right, somewhere out there a 15-year-old girl reads it, or a 19-year-old guy, or a 35-year-old mother of two, and goes, “Exactly what I was thinking! I’m not alone!”

Or at least “Hey … um. I never thought of that. Hmm.”


By the way: If you’re a Schenectady or Albany resident and got here via the link at the end of the article, you may want to know about these three local organizations:

Capital Region Atheists & Agnostics

Capital District Humanist Society

Capital District Skeptics

Each of these groups is filled with bright, kind, interesting, involved people who can answer questions, tell you more about what they do, or help you get involved at the local level in helping us make a better world.

In Which I Admit to Being Wrong

Kudos to the lot of you! I’m more than a little pleased with how the discussion worked out in comments to my Liberal Knees post about the burkha.

All of the comments were thoughtful, most were lengthy, and none of them were flames against me or the other readers/commenters.

Best of all, I learned some stuff, and I hope others did too. There were more nuances in the issue than my simple formulation of “I don’t get to wear a mask in public; I don’t think anyone else should.”

Most telling was the argument that Muslim women, arguably already suffering the repression of being forced to wear the burkha in the first place, were the ones being legally penalized for … well, wearing the burkha. Definitely something worth considering. Continue reading “In Which I Admit to Being Wrong”

Stilling the Jerk of My Liberal Knees

Look at this picture (click to embiggen) of a woman arrested in France for refusing to remove her veil. A tiny, defenseless woman, a plucky warrior for the rights of a minority to live and breathe free, is manhandled by racist government thugs.

It came up on my Facebook wall recently, from a group called the Muslim Defense League (MDL) United We Stand, Divided We Fall (“Fighting against racism, fascism and oppression”).

The photo caption was “A Muslima is arrested in France for refusing to remove the veil! If you are against this act then Share it everywhere!” Continue reading “Stilling the Jerk of My Liberal Knees”

The Great Debate

I went to the “great debate” – Does God Exist? – last night at Binghamton University in Upstate New York. The event was double-hosted by the Campus Bible Fellowship and the Secular Student Alliance.

Ex-Mormon Erin M. and I caught a ride with Michael McElroy, all members of the local atheist Meet-Up group, Capital Region Atheists and Agnostics. Nice trip, the both of you. I enjoyed the wide-ranging conversation immensely. Sorry I fell asleep on the late-night return trip; hey, I’m old. —Oh, yeah, also saw Rick Martin, one of the CRA&A founding members.

McElroy has an excellent recap of the actual substance of the debate on his own blog.

I’ll post the YouTube videos when I see them up. Don’t know when that will be. But meanwhile …

I thought Matt Dillahunty (host of The Atheist Experience) did a fantastic job against Christian apologist Jay Lucas.

Matt was thoughtful, open, generous, honest and funny. Continue reading “The Great Debate”

Earth Day 2012: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves

[This is a reprint of a piece I did several years ago, slightly edited for 2012.]

Leaf One

Con games and sleight-of-hand magic work because, one, we humans only have so much attention to spare at any one moment, and two, they direct that attention deliberately in one direction. If you look at where the finger points, you miss … well, everything else.

Like the movie teen backing through a darkened doorway in the serial killer’s lair, we focus intently on one thing while something more important takes place just outside the sphere of our focus.

I’ll give you a real-life example that has bugged me for a long time. Continue reading “Earth Day 2012: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves”

Reason Rally: The Speech That Didn’t Happen

This is the speech I would have given, if I’d been asked to speak at the Reason Rally. No, there’s no reason anyone should have asked – I’m not well enough known just yet – but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be up on stage anyway. Saying this:

Hank’s Reason Rally Speech

Just as we still talk about the Enlightenment, or the discovery of fire, a thousand years from now, people will still be talking about this moment.

Because this is the moment when civilization left the launch pad. This is the moment when we broke free from the restraints of unreason, when the umbilical of religion finally fell away, the moment when the rocket of our true capabilities really began to thrust up into the sky.

There’s still that long, long journey ahead of us. But this is the moment when we made our final break from the insanities of the past, and people a thousand years from now will know it, and talk about it.

Or … they won’t. Continue reading “Reason Rally: The Speech That Didn’t Happen”

Throwing Out Leftovers, Civilization-Wide

I’m gonna tell you about four things I used to do. Four actions – habits – I picked up when I was a kid and continued at least into my early adult life.

First, I used to eat large amounts of ice cream and other rich, fatty foods at every opportunity.

Second, I used to actively avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk when I was walking.

Third, I used to vigorously snap my towel when I stepped out of the shower and pulled it off the towel rack.

Fourth, I used to look both ways when I stepped out into the street. Continue reading “Throwing Out Leftovers, Civilization-Wide”

Doing My Part: Christopher

[ This is a response to Doing My Part for the Godless Future. If you’d like to submit one of your own — what you’re doing to help the world, or just yourself, get free of religion — email me via the link in that post. ]


My very small part is to reply to xtians who use the “Love the sinner but hate the sin” in the same way I did to my sister when she stated that Jesus said, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.”

So I asked her, “When did you become Hindu?” “Whaa?” she said.  Then I informed her that, no, Jesus didn’t say that, even though far-too-many xtians do, that is a quote from Gandhi.  Makes a nice little wake-up punch, a real two-fer: plops them into a religion that many of them consider paganism, and shows they don’t even know what their bible says. Continue reading “Doing My Part: Christopher”