Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Well, I just did “The View” and I am waiting at the airport to head back to Los Angeles. I had such a nice, even fun experience doing the show. I was moderately concerned about the response. I think I was just skeptical that they were really going to have me on at all. I mean, this is a major daytime talk show – whose target audience is mainstream American women, and it’s ABC, y’know a huge corporation. And all that usually means that people who have views outside the norm are not on. But it was really great. I had a wonderful time. Rosie came to my dressing room before the show and told me how much she enjoyed the CDs. I was really impressed that she actually listened to them. I mean – not that she wouldn’t have, but come on, there must be so much material in one week on that show that I figured it would get lost. Joy Behar was delightful and even Elizabeth, the conservative Christian, who I was worried about -- a little bit – she was just receptive and nice and open. We spoke after the show for several minutes and she told me how she just can’t look at a little baby and think that that baby was an accident. I tried to explain evolution to her in, like – 30 seconds. She said when she sees the beauty in the world, she feels it must be designed and come from God. And I explained that we all innately have a feeling that the world is designed and blah blah blah – everything I’ve said before. And she was really nice and sweet and said she wanted to listen to the CD and I was really bowled over by her sincerity and graciousness. I felt a little more nervous than I usually feel, going on shows like that. I guess it’s been a long time. I think the audience didn’t quite to know what to make of me, and I was so glad they put my CD/book in their gift packages. I mean, to me this is a major deal that they did that. Anyway – one little voice out there and all, but still it felt good.

One of the producers walked me to the limo and told me how he was feeling more comfortable being outspoken about his lack-of-faith. That was really nice, too. There is so much I wish I could have said – I wish I’d been more relaxed and funnier – I was worried that people wouldn’t know that the show is a comedic look at my search for God too. But all in all, when I figure I really had only six minutes and two minutes were taken up with “Pat” and talking about Mulan, so really, four minutes, I did okay. I feel good.


Next week, on December 11: Craig Ferguson.

Oh! My big news, and I really wish I had said this on The View as well, is that my show is now downloadable from Audible.com. This means that in two weeks it will be up on iTunes as well and will be linked from Amazon as a download. I got several emails from people in the last few weeks saying, “Come into the Twenty-first Century Woman!” And so, I have. You can download it. Go to audible if you care. And there will be a link on my site to audible very soon.


Kristen Helmer said...

I loved you on the View. I think you spoke for many of us atheists and agnostics. I'm thankful that you did it. We need more people like you to publicly discuss life without religion.

Becky from Texas said...

Hi Julia!

I was surprised to come across your blog. I loved you on SNL, and I am very intrigued by your book and your take on atheism.

What courage you have to come out and say what you did. I really admire that. I'm not exactly atheist, but organized religion fails me. I can't wait to hear what you have to say.

Great job today!

bookboy said...

Will someone put The View with Julia on YouTube so I can see it. I worked with a guy who would say "Every time I see a beatiful sunset I see God". I asked him if he every saw God in the face of a starving face of a child. No answer.

Maureen said...

I agree with Kristen, I thought you were great on the View. So full of common sense, funny, insightful, all in your time allowed. I'll be watching for you on Craig Ferguson's show.

worldlygoods said...

I just caught the very end of The View and I feel very lucky. Some would say that I have wasted this day since that moment, but I would disagree. I have managed to find this blog, sign up for a possible newsletter, purchase the 2CD/booklet "Letting Go of God" (elsewhere) and enjoy a lightening of spirit around this purloined Winter solstice. Thanks, Julia.

pmsmom said...

You were great on the View! I just
bought your CD/book. Can't wait to
get it.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

You did excellent today. But then again I'm not the typical person who watches the View. Male, straight, Canadian Atheist.

I would have liked to have seen Star Jones deal with you. Elisabeth is far too nice. And I have a feeling she believes in a Young Earth too, making evolution next to impossible.

A few people have posted blog entries on your visit to the view.
Check them out here.

Moglandor said...

This is what I said one time in response to the "design from beauty" argument. (I'm sure a proper philosopher could probably tear it apart, but for a quick response it worked pretty well.)

If there is "evidence" of the existence of god, there has to be at least theoretical evidence of his non-existence. For example we have plenty of evidence the Earth is round, but conceptually you can imagine evidence of it being flat - for example, reaching the end and being able to peer off the edge, or being stopped by the the physical "pillars of heaven." If this were not the case, "evidence" would lose all meaning. So, if beauty and life are evidence of the existence of god, what is the hypothetical evidence of his absence? Ugliness and death? Of course we find those things in abundance, so it would seem we are back where we started.

Anonymous said...

You did great! I too was please with the response from the hosts, although I did feel like they were pretty ready to deflect anything that sounded the least as though it was heading toward controversy. They certainly don't flee from disagreement when they talk among themselves. But that being said.... it was a good 6 or 4 minutes.

susan in Spokane

Kelly said...

As a christian, I am concerned about the aetheist view. Although naturally I believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, it does seem odd that people who do not believe in God, believe that intricate human beings just evolved from monkeys or some nonsense. Look at it this way: If you take a watch, open it up take a long hard look at all of the mechanisms, gears and miniscule parts that work together in order for that watch to work, we are amazed. Wow! That watch certainly didnt just appear or is an evolution from a grandfather clock millions of years ago. It is it's own creation. SOMEONE had to have created that watch. A watchmaker. If even a small intricate thing like a watch has a maker, (because no way on earth did a watch just appear on it's own) why is it hard to believe that we, as amazing, beautiful, complex creatures didnt have a maker? WE are THE most intricate design on the planet. We have systems, dreams, memories, etc... and you think we jsut appeared from nowhere? If a watch has a maer, we have a maker. There should be no doubt.

Rene in Texas said...

I've never created, let alone respond to a blog, but I had to comment on your appearance on The View today. I applaud your ability to discuss such a delicate topic with humor and intelligence. I hope that some day atheists and agnostics will be accepted as members of society, just as other segments of society that were once shunned or ostrasized are now accepted. I made the break with organized religion after 25 years in 2001. I live in the Bible Belt and I don't discuss my beliefs with anyone but my husband. I hope your works will help people without religion be more accepted by society. Good job!

Willow said...

and "Amen" haha (only kidding)
It was so good to hear and see you on The View.
After much pondering and questioning over many years, I have also come to the "No God" conclusion:
Humans, with their evolved superior intellect and ability to reason, cannot accept the finality of death. This explains why some, have created a Heaven and Hell and a belief in the continuation of the soul or spirit in order to give reason for their existence.

We teach and imprint our children, throughout their developmental years, to believe in many unseen supernatural spirits or entities, like the Tooth Fairy, Elves, Ghosts, Santa Clause, God, The Easter Bunny, Angels, Leprechans, etc. All of these, we are taught, have some effect on our lives in some way.

As we mature, these imprinted childhood teachings influence how we perceive life's events and experiences.

There are however, those who believe that there is no supernatural entity controlling the universe, no continuation of spirit or soul after death.
They accept their mortality and are dedicted to living in the present, doing good deeds for their own rewards, not as compensation to achieving continuation after death. Their spirituality comes from a deep appreciation, respect, and enjoyment of all life on earth.

Now if only some of those Pompous, Tunnel vision, Self-righteous Fanatics would stop trying to "save my soul"........

Anonymous said...

Hello Julia:
The view needs more visitors like you. I read a long article a while back about "Letting Go of God" and now know that I have to see/hear it. I've always been a fan of yours.
In a former life I was one of those Mormon missionaries you spoke about. Since coming out (yes, I'm on Rosie's team, only male) and leaving Mormonism I have found myself asking/questioning/doubting/and eventually finding great peace within MYSELF. Who knew that I could simply look inside to find all the answers I would need for me and my life.
I have no idea if there is a God or not. I frankly don't care either way. But, what I do care about are all those supposed Christians who spend their days doing anything but being Christlike. Perhaps that in itself is my answer. And don't get me started on all the wars that religion is responsible for. Didn't God tell Bush to invade? Please.
Thank you Julia. I so appreciate your honesty, strength and wicked sense of humor.
PS: that watch comment was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time!

Shelli said...

How refreshing to see you on The View and I agree with the others, you did great. I was a smidge annoyed at some of the comments from the hosts like the guest host asking if your disbelief stemmed from god not healing you...if god doesn't exist to you, how can you be angry with him?!? And Joy Behar's question about your faith if you get cancer again. Maybe she should read Lance Armstrong's memoir to see how he dealt with cancer without giving it up to god. But you were awesome and handled them very well.

As another atheist in the bible belt, I too avoid discussing my beliefs with anyone aside from my family or close friends. I would like to thank you for your openness. You are my new hero!

Kelly said...

if you think that comment about the watch is the funiest thing youve read in a long time, dude you need to get out more and breathe in the world. Remember, church and GOD are 2 different things entirely. The church is hypocritical, GOD is not. We are all sinners, Christians or aetheist. MANY Christians do not act Christ like, even those who claim to be called by God. It is hard being a Christian. It is a struggle. We are imperfect people who need God. Being Christian doesnt mean we are perfect. For me it means simply that I believe in GOD as my saviour. I also do not think it is healthy to put all of my faith and trust in organized religion. I ut it in God, whom is perfect, not in man, which includes the church.

Disneybear said...

Dear Julia! Loved you on the view! I can't wait to heare your CD too! I have a feeling our spiritual trek has many of the same parallels. Keep up the wonderful work and keep up the blogging! It is very insightful and refreshing!

ShellyD said...

Julia, you were really bold on the View. I was impressed at how straightforward you were. What you said about randomness struck a chord with me, the "I happened to get cancer" vs. "God wants me to have cancer." A person's emotional response depends on which of these beliefs she holds.

It reminds me of something my father said after the tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004. My parents are conservative Christians, and my dad something along these lines: The tsunami hit that part of the world because those people, in their poverty, committed horrendous sins like selling their kids into sexual slavery.

Now, I condemn sexual slavery as vehemently as the next person. But it occurred to me that my parents have to do mental gymnastics whenver tragedy strikes. Basically they think the world is fair. So if something awful happens, people must've done something awful to deserve it.

Obviously that leads to a lack of compassion, even heartlessness, whereas someone like you could point to naturalistic causes for the tragedy and empathize with the sufferers, who are innocent and undeserving.

In other words, you don't have to play the role of one of Job's "comforters." You can give real comfort.

Anyway, once again, good job today!

Sheldon said...

Steve and I just watched you on The View (Comcast's version of TiVo is great!), and you were amazing!

I kept thinking, there's no better person to get this message out there than Julia Sweeney. If it'd been me, I probably would have gotten into a big argument with Elizabeth, and wouldn't have expressed myself nearly as well as you. In a way, you're a Messenger, Julia...and a very important one, at that.

Considering the audience that The View has (probably millions), you'v planted a LOT of seeds in the minds of middle-class women in our country. And who knows where that might take us?

I also couldn't help feeling like I was watching a member of the family! Reading this blog and commenting along with everyone else has created a little community here that's very powerful in and of itself. I was glad to see that you plan on starting a Discussion Board soon. I actually thought of that some months ago, but was reluctant to suggest it for fear that it might pull people away from your blog, causing them to comment less.

Hey, maybe we'll start our own version of the Amaz!ng Meeting some day, and actually get everyone together?

Anyway, good on ya, Julia!

Ellysa said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective on the View. As someone who also has left organized religion behind, it really helped me to see someone like you speaking publicly about this on such a prominent show.

It took courage, and I confess, I was a little worried that the crowd (or Elisabeth) was going to turn against you.

I thought you did a terrific job of being funny and forthright!


Anonymous said...


Hopefully your View segment will be available on youtube soon. In the mean time you might all get a kick out of a youtube video my son tipped me off to titled, "Door to Door Athiest - Spreading the Word of Darwin." 2nd half in Salt Lake is pure genius.

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly...
I really hope you stick around and possibly read some of the other material on Julia's blog; you'll find the watch maker theory has been addressed and refuted many times. Long story short, If a watch has a maker then we must have a maker and if we have a maker then our maker must have a maker and his maker must have a maker and obviously God has a maker. Problem solved...

just my $0.02

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Kelly, you aren't going to win anyone over here. There is mounds and mounds of evidence that supports evolution and nothing that contradicts it. None.
Besides, many people believe in God but don't deny evolution (scientific fact).
Also you mention Jesus and the church being man made. Well, the bibles are man made, and you accept Jesus where there is absolutely no historical evidence that he even existed.
If you are sincerely looking for answers as to what Atheists think, watch the second video here for why we are here.

bookeraptor said...

Well, I didn't get to see you on The View, but after reading the many positive comments, I'm sure you were awesome, and I'm bummed that I missed it. Echoing some of the other posters, I think you are the best voice for all of us free-thinkers: articulate and informed and funny all at the same time. I hope you are still floating after all the praise...

Flippy said...

Oh, but Kelly, watches DID evolve. We started with a stick in the sand, then went to a sundial, then so on and so forth. A fancy schmancy Swiss watch that keeps perfect time didn't just happen overnight; the process evolved, just like humans from monkeys. See, evolution is everywhere.

vida said...

i love this blog, i love the comments even more. and to whomever referred to this as like a support group, it is! i deal with parents who are catholic and a boyfriend who is a jehovah's witness. i don't try and force them to think what i do, i just try to explain how i feel and why i do, but they can't accept me that way. i'm starting to think the boyfriend might not last after 2 years because of this issue. i'm willing to accept and agree to disagree, but he isn't. seems as though that makes me the one who is more accepting and loving of everyone..isn't that a main point in christianity?

Sherrie in Omaha drinking wine... said...

Listening to you today on The View reminded me of the day I decided not to hide my atheist's views with a few of my co-workers in the Big Red State of Nebraska. A little bit of silence then sincere questioning. It was so foreign to them they didn't know how to respond initially. But, we then had some really great conversations. I loved your take on The View and you didn't back down. Almost the same response as here in Nebraska which seems odd in New York. But you stood your ground, and were sensible! My "militant atheist" husband disagrees with my approach but ultimately I believe conversation will further understanding. He really has no "faith" in the American public. One more thing, and not to completely change the subject, but I really love that Rosie is being so open about her sexuality, Kelli, and her children on the show. This is groundbreaking and I think in hindsight will be considered one of the true breakthroughs on the acceptance of gays.

Ralph said...

Dear Julia,

All your fans were living vicariously through you. Knowing that you had so little time, I imagined your predicament: Where do you put your emphasis? Trying to appear intelligent, funny, friendly, appealing, entertaining, persuasive? So little time ...

Of the millions of atheists out here, there are so few with both the opportunity and clout, that are willing to put themselves in front of the public. Bless you.

BTW, the picture of your daughter was beautiful.

Marta said...

I wish I'd been able to watch The View. If I can, I will watch Ferguson. But please keep expressing yourself! And would some believer out there please explain to me why evolution doesn't make sense, but creationism (don't try to hoodwink me with that intelligent design crap!) does? So there is some vague being floating around in...where? in what? and he (that is the gender, right? so gender must have existed before Adam and Eve) decided to make the universe out of? What? Clay? And this clay was where? In his pocket? Floating in space? Oh, wait. There is no space because he hasn't made it yet. I forgot. So is he sitting (but then he would have had to create chairs already) when he does all this work, or standing? Does it pour from his fingers or pops out of his like (like Athena from Zeus)? Hmmm...and somewhere along the line he decided to create fleas, man, and the ebola virus. Of course.

I know I'm being flip, but while I really believe that every person must have the right to believe what he or she believes, I honestly fail to see why this belief system makes more sense than a scientific process that has evidence. And why is it so unbearable for some people to realize we are descended from primates? This doesn't bother me. It doesn't insult me. It does not make me fear that my liking of bananas is somehow going to trigger latent genes and make me live in a tree. Typically when I see a monkey, I think--whew! Didn't I get in the lucky line.

And (I can't stop myself) what about Jesus? I have never understood this died for my sins. Some guy who may never have lived said he was dying for all mankind. I suppose this means he died for the sins of, say, Stalin. Mao. Paris Hilton? Look, real people die for others everyday--soldiers for their country, parents for their children, and on and on. I learn lessons from these people. Not from some guy who probably didn't live and if he did, thought it was okay to abandon your family to follow him. Who else does that sound like?

Enough ranting today. Thanks for the space.

Carolyn said...

My girlfriend and I really enjoyed your appearance on The View. It's so refreshing to have someone talk about their lack of faith. Religious people seem to think we atheists simply haven't bothered to educate ourselves or think about our personal beliefs. Thanks for having the courage to make your statements in so public a way. We can't wait to read your book and hear your CD.

CaliforniaGrant said...

You ROCKED MY WORLD - TWICE!! Earlier this year I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer that spread through my body (at only 26). During this time I heard some of God Said Ha on NPR and it really gave me something to relate to and laugh about.
Today I saw you on the View gracefully and effectivly representing an atheist viewpoint - something I have found difficult to do especially with all the 'prayers' of support I have been getting.
Thank you for your example and helping me cope with - and laugh about - two major aspects of my life.
Best Wishes to you and your daughter,

uk dan said...

Hi Julia
Great news about itunes so finally your UK supporters can get the cds . For a while I have felt like the cousin who has to watch from his bedroom window, cos he has measles, whilst the rest of the kids get to go to the zoo .

I have tried The View site and interesting as Rosie's medical adventures are I have been dissapointed not to find your piece on file . I suggest an email campaign requesting this piece being posted .

If Craig ( a good bloke ) trys to give you any hassle ask him if he still has problems with Norwegians , hopefully he should remember, if not , you could prompt him with Yellow Kagools and dog eating .

To Californiagrant my best wishes .

Amanda said...

Thank you for going on the show. I'm ordering Letting Go of God now.

Maria Alexander said...

Julia, I sorely wish I could have seen you on The View. I'm temporarily living overseas and don't have access. However, I'm really excited about your CD on iTunes! Coolio with cool sauce! The 21st century is a grand place, indeed!

Jarrid said...

Ahhhh, what a sense of relief! It's about time this come into more open water. I think this country is drowning in religion! It's the main roadblock of all things that need to happen in America! The mix of Church and State is out of control!

Religion is a multi-billion dollar business! I would rather help the needy, or feed the hungry instead of paying the Lincoln Town car note for the pastor! You are a total inspiration!

Anonymous said...

My cousin called me today to say that she had seen you on The View and that when watching it she said aloud "This is like having a conversation with my cousin!" I have been an atheist for a long time(about 16 years,)and although she isn't sure of her beliefs, we often discuss the subject. I commend you for going on that national show and stating your views. After watching my 54 year old father die a slow, humiliating death from brain cancer for 4 years, I cannot fathom how anyone can say they believe in this "loving" god with a plan who could do something like that to such an amazing person. I found it easier to deal with the facts of mutated cells and an end to the agony of that disease, than to have to also try to reconcile a god/master plan with it. I will be ordering your CD's soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia,
I just wanted to comment on something you said on The View yesterday. I am a mormon, and I was surprised at the misconception of our religion that you professed while on the show. I wanted you to understand that we believe in the Virgin Mary and in Jesus Christ the Son of God. You said on the show that we only believe in Joseph Smith, and the record that he brought forth of the ancient American people. We use the Bible side by side with the Book of Mormon. I just wanted to clarify that. Anyway, I'm glad you have found happiness in your atheism, while it's not something I'll ever understand, I believe our purpose in this life is to be happy. I don't want to sound preachy so I'll end with... I am a big fan of the character of Pat, and I'm sorry they didn't use your talent more while they had the chance on SNL.

Anonymous said...

Julia - Your blog has become a real bee hive of activity. The comments section is not a very effective way to discuss the issues. Have you considered adding a discussion forum like some web sites have? The most common one I see is powered by vBulletin. Just a suggestion.

Ryan said...

Hi, Julia. The title, "Letting Go of God," assumes that you once held God or rather a right understanding of who He is. Isn't it possible that the perception you had of God was never correct, that you never actually knew Him?

I think you were wise to question the reasons why you believed what you believed. Certainly, true faith isn't based on assumptions of who God is. And we can't base our relationship with God on the faith our parents or friends claim to have. Simply being identified with a denomination or church is no proof that you know God either. Moreover, God's primary concern isn't to comfort His creatures through their hard times--though of course He does comfort His creatures, it's just not HIs primary concern.

I didn't see The Bible in the list of 17 books you read along the way. The sincerity of your search for truth deserves exposure to the truth, found in our final, authoritative revelation of God: The Bible. There, by God's grace, you may find the true God--of whom no one who has ever really known has let go--and His story of redeeming sinners. You may find answers to the questions you're asking: Who is God, and who am I in light of Him?

May you find the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Undecided said...


You obviously have not listened to her CDs. I recommend you do that as soon as possible.

Jamie Kilstein said...

I do believe in intelligent design for watches...however they were created by humans...who unfortunaly evolved from monkeys.

Julia yor a rockstar

hud_callahan said...

I'm glad there is a growing group of eloquent atheists to help forward human thinking.

Mare from Seattle said...

I was delighted to see you on the View Julia...in fact I laughed out loud at the Pat clip. I've been enjoying your work for years. But it seemed like the View audience response was pretty subdued. I was disappointed that you really didn't get a chance to actually do part of the monologue, it might have lighted things up a bit. But I'll bet you were feeling very comforted when Shaun Robinson suggested that if you were going to get cancer again, you could always go back to god. Just ordered the CD...thanks!

Carl R. Sams said...

Dear Ryan,

Why would you assume that atheists who were religious never read the bible, never had deeply moving religious experiences, or never understood scripture? I may be paraphrasing but that is he gist I assumed from your post. Personally I had many deeply touching experiences, even had an episode of "speaking in tounges" when I was attending a pentacostal service (BTW, I'd love to see a study done on paralells between such services and group hysteria. The descriptions I've read sound like what I experienced). And not to be too picky, but when you say THE bible.....which one do you mean? Which collection of books, and which translations? For a believer's approach to the fascinating history of this text, please check out "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart Ehrman. Again, this is not secular attempt at destroying faith, but a facinating history. My thanks to whoever my fellow poster was who originally mentioned it, I fear I have forgotten whom.

Just a stray thought, but ministers of many religions are able to live comfortably while studying and teaching their philosophy.And I don't mean televangeleists either :P. Anyway, they are free to do this through the donations of their Followers. Isn't it a shame that rational phisosophers and thinkers cannot do this? What if Dr. Dawkins could do this without having to stop and teach Physics 101 for instance, or if Ms. Sweeney could lecture with an eye to appealing to thinkers, not whether the venue would be able to help her pay her living expenses. What could we learn about ourselves and the way we think if those so inclined could do so uninterrupted? I for one would donate to such an academy. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my 10%. :)

- Veritas Imprimis

Anonymous said...


Julia, like most of us has in fact read all or parts of the bible. I believe she was focusing on the books that helped her see the inherent flaws in the bible and what it professes.

Please explain or defend your claim that the bible is the final, authoritative revelation of God? Please, show me your data. Please take some time to read some of the prior work posted on Julia’s blog; there’s a lot of very insightful material here. In the mean time, I will try and send you a book via the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville titled, “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris which does a far better job of responding to your beliefs than I could within the confines of this blog.

Just my $0.02

Anonymous said...

Julia, I was at a doctors appointment having skin cancer removed and stuck with the VIEW on the TV - I am not a big day time TV fan - but really enjoyed your interview. I love to discuss religion - raised a lutheran married a jewish guy - my father was catholic so basicly I have heard it all. While I can say that I actually do believe in the spiritual relm, I love to discuss options and it was so nice to hear you talk about it on TV. I can not stand the holy roller BS the current administration is attempting to jam down our throats and thank you for balancing the field a bit!
You did a great job on the View (I will tell you I could see that you were a little unsure of how you were being taken).
Keep up the good work - you did great!!!
Lisa in NJ

dabradster said...

(If you saw this on another comment section of Julia's blog, please pardon moi - I intended to post here, but goofed. First post nerves?)

You are my heroine! Bravo! Thank you!
Didn’t see the TV program, but saw you at Ars Nova, listened again to the cds, and sent them to a relative today, whereupon I found your blog.

You’re doing a WONDERFUL job speaking for so many of us who, for example, have carefully read the Bible and come to the only realistic conclusion – that it’s the work of primitive humans, not a god of any sort. And also that the Bible is a poor guide indeed to lving a fulfilling and ethical life.

(George W. Bush is my other hero, since he, too, has done so much to prove that the “higher father” doesn’t exist. But, needless to say, your methods are far more constructive and fun!)

My own journey to reason started when, as a 10-year-old evangelical preacher wannabe, I was given a fancy leather and parchment New Testament for Christmas. I resolved to read every word. But problems began on the cover page - even before I got to Matthew! Nobody could explain to me why God let the King of England have his own “version.” (I think I’d previously read the last few verses of Revelations.)

It became clear in a hurry that my questions about all the biblical things that didn’t make any sense weren’t welcome either at home or in church. Forty years later, I’m still learning and asking questions, and the honest answers all lead me to…Deepak Chopra.
(Just kidding, Julia!)

To respondents above:
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that today’s humans DID NOT evolve from monkeys! Modern apes and humans evolved separately from a more distant common ancestor. Apes and humans, then, are very distant cousins. This is an important point, and one that has long been distorted by those who stand to gain by casting doubt on the plain reality of evolution.
(Of course, the average chimp is more humane than some homo-sap cousins, but that’s another story.)

Congratulations to those who have been brave enough, like Julia, to come out and tell their families, friends, and neighbors that they don’t believe in Zeus, the Sun King, Yahweh, Santa, Jehovah, or any of the other imaginary friends that mankind has dreamed up for comfort or for a good story!
If many more of us would emulate Julia, Dan Barker, Charles Templeton, and others, maybe we could help save, well, everything.

Norma Manna Blum said...

So many closet atheists from the so-called "Bible Belt" (hasn't the whole country turned into one grand bible belt albeit with various bibles?) seem to turn up in forums like this, that perhaps the belt is not so all encompassing as you all imagine.

Who knows that if by speaking aloud, you won't find that your next door neighbor has been harboring doubts for a long time too, and just needs someone with whom to converse about his/her incertitude?

Before the advent of Bushism most people I know openly discussed their beliefs, but in the wake of 9/11 what with wire taps, demands on book-sellers for sales records, and inquiries about library requests, a certain understandable inching toward conformity seems to be the order of the day.
Religion and fear of authority DO seem to be inextricably entwined at all levels of human interaction.
But maybe we are misunderstanding the level of conformity; this is after all reputed to be a proud nation of individualists.
And certainly it can't be that the citizens of land of the free, home of the brave could so quickly be reduced to behaving like Pinko- Socialist - Commie SLAVES...
Us? Us?
No.. craven silence is for THEM!

What can your neighbors, your fellow citizens, do to you for your disbelief?
Doubt of the preternatural has, after all, existed since Genesis: who really knows that what the denizens of Sodom and Gommorrah were actually being punished for, above all, was skepticism, and all the rest of those sins attributed to them were merely red herrings?
Burn your house down?
Um... I guess they could, but every form of iconoclasm, deviations from the norm, has had its inconveniences if not its suffering.
Can atheists be weaker, greater snivelers than Christians whose finest, happiest hour, if y ou think about it, seems to have been when they were happily being martyrized by being thrown to the lions for their faith?
Gird yourselves with some Mark Twain to remind you that humans are above all funny, and religion even funnier, and go for it.

SweetThursday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coby said...

I'm sure you get frustrated when people dismiss what you think to be real encounters with God as imaginary emotional experiences. Here, you've done the same thing to Julia. You have unintentionally judged her religious experiences to be fake and unworthy. You do not know her story my brother. Like some of the others here, I recommend that you buy LGOG off of itunes when it gets posted and listen to it with the heart of a student. As a Christian, I have learned a lot from the questions posed by Julia and the many others on this BLOG.

SweetThursday said...

Darn it I missed The View!

Gosh, I never thought I would say that.

I am listening to a tune from "Carousel", and it made me wonder. . .

Evolution and the deep dark void aside, here is a more frivolous question: what does an atheist think of such movies with a life after death theme and/or with God making an appearance as a special guest star?

One of my favorites is "Heaven Can Wait". Though I don't see God as James Mason, nor do I think an omniscient being would hire Buck Henry as a gate keeper (and undervalue Buck's talents?), I am romantic/silly/nerdy enough to think energy moves on.

So, now do you see such movies in this genre as grouped among "The Lord of the Rings" or does it give you a nostalgic recall of your past beliefs?

Carl R. Sams said...

Dear Sweetthursday,

Speaking for myself,I have, to be honest, felt a little odd watching them now. I's similar to when you play tennis, and someone asks you where you place your thumb on the racket when you play. You become hyper concious of what's going on, and mess up completely. I find myself analyzing how I feel, and miss the point a bit. But mostly the warm fuzzy is.....dampened. Oh I'm thrilled the hero wins out, andd all is well, but it kind of falls flat for me. And I would'nt even place it in the catagory of The Lord of the Rings. In such high fantasy, youjust push the "I Believe Button" and away you go. But since this is nominaly supposed to be the "real world" I find it feels more like nitpicking a science fiction movie when you can hear explosions in space. Like a little voice keeps saying "That's not how that works." As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I've got to say about that." :)

- Veritas Imprimis

becky2259 said...

I saw you on The View and thought you were fantastic. You were articulate and got your point across. I traveled your same journey which resulted in my admitting to myself that I am an atheist.

Thank you for your work and for making me feel that I am not alone. Sometimes I feel I am the only one who can really see. I feel as though through admitting there is no god it opens up enormous potential and responsibility for life. It is frightening at first admitting that when you die you are just dead but once you accept that you can really start living.

I do find myself slipping into the old comfortable habits of faith...like when my cat recently passed away I told myself he was going to be with the other kitties we have had who died. Now I know full and well that this is not true but I said it anyway. It is comforting and a defense mechanism.

Like you I was raised Catholic. I went to 12 yrs of Catholic school and all in all it was ok. I even taught CCD when I was in my late teens and early 20s. When I had my children in 84 and 88 I had them baptized but we had pretty much stopped going to church right around that time. When they got to be 5 I looked into CCD thinking they needed it to develop a conscience. I was so turned off that they wanted to charge me to educate them for this after all the time I "volunteered" to teach this myself. I just could not reconcile paying for it so I just didn't. Over the years I worried that I was not providing for my children spiritually, but as it has turned out I have raised two spectacular human beings that have developed a conscience apart from a fear of going to hell.

At any rate I appreciate your having the courage to speak your message for all of us and look forward to posting on your forum when you get it up and running.

Becky in OHIO

Norma Manna Blum said...

Please do not think of this question as snide, although I quite understand that it sounds so .
I apologize for my lack of talent for dressing it up more tactfully; years of erosion have weakened the tie between the brain and the tongue..
But can you explain why you would imagine that a Church whose dogma - whether by design or the exigencies of history- encouraged and abetted the mindless slaughter of untold millions in its 1800 year long history (and still does) in the name of greed for power and gold, could be a vehicle for providing your innocent children with, of all things, CONSCIENCE?
One need not have a world view to see the Church in such a light: one need only isolate the smallest county in Ireland, or the poorest. most depleted country in Latin America to see the lasting, the immutable damage done by an institution completely lacking in anything remotely related to human consilience.
Thus the mystery remains WHY even apostate Catholics continue to send their own children for more of the same.
I would say - not original from me by any means - that to the extent that we are moral beings at all (and there is much to suggest we are) it is IN SPITE of religioius teachings rather than in any way related TO religious instruction.
This is, of course, quite apart from any discussion or conviction anent the existence of god, or any god.
A totally separate kettle of fish story, because it is hard to totally dismiss the idea that man seems to have some mysterious need to BELIEVE that the world is under the care and attention of some manner of spectral HAND - whether good hand or bad hand doesn't seem to be of any great importance.
But there is no indication whatever that man is in need of catechisms, or Torahs, or Qu'rans, or of instruction by mere humans who have made a profit-making business of teaching them that to be obedient above all is better than to think for oneself.
Ergo I am interested in why, having lived without liturgical direction yourself for some length of time, apparently without ending up either on the streets or in jail, you felt compelled to seek it for your kids.

Norma Manna Blum

zigory said...

I just wrote a comment and I think I lost it before I posted it, so I'll write the gist of it again.

Julia, your "one small voice" is a very important one. Your ability to explain your point of view so that ordinary people can understand it, is better than almost anyone else's. You can reach many more people than an author who writes a book of theory (although in the long run, his or her ideas can trickle down, too).

You are one of the most important messengers of pro-reality even if you don't want to be. As you have seen (via "The View" producer), your efforts give courage to people to speak up, when they aren't really religious but pretended to believe in God to avoid controversy.

I'm not saying you need to instigate a Movement. You're great "just the way you are." But what you have been doing and are doing is superb, don't stop.

I missed you on "The View" but I'll be sure to see you on "Craig Ferguson."

reek! said...

Your appearance on the view was fantastic --- I thought the hosts received your truth with an open mind, even Elizabeth (grin).


Jeremy said...

Just bought it from audible. Thank you so much. I love what you do. Keep going regardless of how hard or dark it may be. Cause reality - our real universe - is so much more grand than the minds of man could ever dream up.

Becky2259 said...

norma manna blum,
I was in my 20s when I considered sending my children to CCD, and I was not yet enlightened to the fact that they did not need church to develop a conscience since that was what I identified as the origin of my conscience. I later found out that this was not true.

Now that my children are 18 and 22 and both atheist and good people I can see proof that it is not necessary to go to church to gain a moral compass.

Andrea said...

Did you see that Rosie linked to your site from her blog? www.rosie.com

Hana said...

I happened to catch you on The View and commented to my husband later that day about how funny your appearance was. Mostly because it seemed like the hosts were almost like: "Wait, but you don't REALLY not believe in God. What about now? Now do you? Okay, um... how about now?"

In any event, I loved God Said Ha, and I'm happy I stumbled across your blog, so I could let you know how much I enjoy your work.


hughgilmour67 said...

In response to Kelly and the watch argument - Yes, Humans are very complex organisms, far more complex than a watch. If, as you believe, complex things require a designer and that God created and designed humans, then God must be a VERY complex thing. Following the logic of your argument, I must ask: Who designed and created God? Perhaps HE evolved? For more info on the beauty and mechanics of evolution Kelly, I suggest you read Richard Dawkins' book; "The Blind Watchmaker" I congratulate Julia Sweeney on making the case for atheism in such a funny and original way......cheers!

Anonymous said...

I can not tell you what it means to me to have someone else stand up and say that they just can't believe anymore. I feel like my own personal story is very similar to yours. I was actually a very devote and strong believer for many years. I was even the youth director at my church. When my dad died at 49 of pancreatic cancer I started to lean even heavier on my faith. The strage thing was thought that I actually started to question more and more and believe less and less. I now consider myself an atheist. When ever people find out they're shocked and say that I'm just mad at god. This drives me crazy. I am not mad at the invisible man in the sky, I promise. Just because I can't believe that he is real doesn't mean it's an anger thing. It's not like Santa pissed me off one year and now I don't believe anymore.

I saw you on "The View" and am a little confused. I went to the bookstore and then amazon.com for your book "Letting Go of God" they say it won't be out until May 2008. Is that right? I can't wait that long!!!!

Once again I applaud your courage. I'm so glad that there is someone out there willing to say "Hey, I just don't believe in God but it doesn't mean I'm a terrible, unkind, unloving person."

Massillon, Ohio

Patty said...

Have you ever read the book. " Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis..an interesting read.

Debra said...

Regrettably, I am an atheist, too. I was raised as a Jew, and still love all the traditions (and the food!), but sadly I have lost that childlike conviction that someone -- not unlike an invisible grandpa -- was watching over (and out) for me. I miss that. I envy those who believe that it is possible to attain whatever you want, get healed of whatever you have, get answers for whatever questions you pose with prayer. I miss the security and comfort that my personal interpretation of God brought me. But I have lived too long, and seen too much to believe a higher power responds to me personally, or to those in the world who need a miracle far more than me.

I would love to be proven wrong, of course. If (if?) there is a God, then surely there will be understanding and forgiveness for all of us who question its existence. And we will forgive God for being...an underachiever.

You've held a special place in my life since I first saw "God Said Ha!" We've gone on similar journeys before (you lost a uterus, I gained a kidney, for example). This is another time I find we are on the same path, and it's good to have you as a companion again. Best wishes. I'm sure we'll meet again farther up that metaphorical road.


Anonymous said...

I love you, Julia!

Susan said...

I do think it's odd we have to label ourselves on this -- Here Is What I Do Not Believe -- Like the time in a restaurant, when I asked the server to "hold the tomato" from my sandwich, she said: "I'm sorry, but we're out of tomatoes today." Hmmm.
Anyway Julia, I do believe in "dualism" and dabble in the quantumly mechanical explanations. So far, dualism always works for me -- explains EVERYthing! Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

wow a lot of comments and I'm late, but I wanted to say that I saw that view episode and was reminded of you (I had forgotten) and I downloaded your book on audibles and now I'm here. Anyway great job. I was so impressed that something like that was on television and that the interactions were so peaceful and accepting. It gave me hope that mainstream acceptance was nearer then I thought.

Anonymous said...

I could just be a kooky Christian that is vain enough to want to hear himself talk. I'll buy that. We all are. Two things come to mind though after hearing your view.

First why wouldn't we have Cancer and be starving if there was a God. Which do you think is more important in contemplating, the small 70 year span that we are here on earth to learn, or with eternity in mind. I agree Cancer sucks, the fact that there are children starving out there sucks. Who knows why it happens but I guarantee you it has served as a learning tool to the people suffering from it or the people that have shown compassion towards them. I believe that humans, no matter how old and "wise" we become on this earth will never have the wisdom to combat the logic of God. Let's see 70 years versus a billion years plus of experience. I think in comparison it would be like my two year old saying Dad sit down and I will tell you about the world. Who are we to know what tools Cancer, starvation, or anything we consider negative play in our spiritual education. Your spiritual makeup is different than mine and needs different things. I don't know anything but I do know that when I die and get to heaven God will say “this is why I did this and this” and I will say “okay God you're the man, I wouldn't have done it any other way either but man I sure was questioning you on some of those things.” My two year old also loves to eat candy, all the time in fact. How do I teach her that it isn't good to eat candy all the time. Do I break down the molecular structure of the body? Or do I tell her it isn't good for you, trust your dad and one day you will understand. Though a very simple analogy, I think in the differences between us and God in infinite wisdom versus the small speck of the puzzle piece that we can see it is effective. I was diagnosed with Cancer 4 months ago. Do I think that it was because I must have done something wrong and now I am being spiritually spanked. No, I don't. I do think though that there is valuable wisdom for me to learn in this. You spent so much time looking for God only not to understand him and end up turning away from him. I'd like to think that if you looked at things with an eternal perspective versus this doesn't make since with what is going on right now, you would have found him.
On another note, in all beliefs whether it, Christianity or Atheism, people get Cancer or starve or have tragedy bestow them. A lot of these people believe in God and Christ, and hopefully with such strong conviction that they will not be shaken from their faith. However, regardless of who is right and what’s behind the dark curtain of death, what upsets me is that you take hope away from people that other wise would have none. It’s easy for someone to say hey that person is starving or suffering lets feed him or help him for they are not the ones afflicted. Why though give someone hope, with a small loaf of bread, that will get them through the day but destroy the hope that will get them through tomorrow? So what if you sit on the street, drinking lemonade, quietly laughing at all the passer biers with a Bible in their hand, what does it pain you? Why the need to convince patients that are terminally ill or even casual people on the street that what awaits them very shortly is vast nothingness. That makes the winners the people who are holding the ticket for “ right now” and the losers the ones holding the ticket for “back then” Also I listened as you spoke of religion shopping and the uncertainty that you felt as you weighed through all of this. Are you sure now? Do you feel that confident in your abilities and wisdom that you would try to convince other people to walk away from their faith? To them, if you are wrong, the stakes are very high so it is good to make sure you are certain. I know it’s fun and exciting now and you have gotten a lot of attention from many people and groups on wanting to hear your philosophy on how there is no God and it’s a good feeling to be heard. I am interested, though, in hearing your opinion in another 30 years. I would like to see if you will have changed your opinion. If when you near close the, now believed, vast nothingness if you will whistle a different tune. Life, and religion are easy to contemplate when all is well and death seems far, far away. It’s when death starts knocking on your doorstep that you truly explore your heart for what you believe. I encourage you to contemplate these things. I write not as a lunatic Christian with Hate Julia Sweeney slogans written all over the place, but as a brother who truly loves you.

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