Friday, December 01, 2006

Lordy, Lordy how I love reading the posts. And I wanted to write a thoughtful response to Michael's post of a few days ago and now today is all gone and I am too bleary eyed to write or read. And tomorrow is going to be even harder... I may not be able to write till Monday! But keep writing. I love it so much. I mean, if you want to. Thanks!



Fargofan1 said...

I'm the first commenter! My insomnia paid off! But sadly I have nothing to say except, Julia, if you ever left a comment at my blog it would give me bragging rights forever. So, you know. Just throwing it out there.

Also, your contrast of Darwin and Jesus (with Darwin as the winner) reminded me of the Happy Heretic's contrast of Carl Sagan and Mother Teresa, whose halo came out pretty tarnished. That blew me away.

Aaron said...

My first post here. I went through much the same thing with letting go of god myself. Looking back I can't believe I ever believed in some of the things once did. For me it was fundamentalist Christianity in my teens, then a new agey belief in my earely 20's, then a yoga cult in my mid 20's, then Buddhism, then Zen Buddhism, then finally just a form of materialist atheism where I am now. Been there, got the T-shirt, got out fortunately.

I totally agree that, yes, "Moral Animal" by Robert Wright was DEVASTATING to me also, but in a good way- I had already given up ever being able to believe again when I read it, and this book slam dunked any motivation I had to postulate a creator, broke the backboard glass, and shredded the net. I'd also forgotten about that book until I saw you mention it here, and it brought up a thought , or a question that I think is an obstacle to many people:

This is that many people believe that a lovingly intended creation through evolution is a perfectly reasonable idea (particularly those who have not educated themselves much with how evolution through natural selection works). Somehow lizards that squirt blood from their eyes and deep sea predators with phosphorescent lures hanging from their noses in front of a swimming nightmarish jaw are the works of a loving designer. 99% of all species that ever lived are extinct, but it was all brought about just for humans right? God was just practicing with his giant barbaric meat eating predators.

But even more than natural science, I think that the social sciences make people lose faith in a creator because the study of human nature reveals that people use their altruism for non-altruistic purposes without even realizing it. Our brains and nervous systems are geared for self-deception and interpersonal manipulation, and the best way to motivate others is to lie to yourself so well that you are perfectly convincing.

As Sam Harris has said- religions allow people to believe by the millions what only a lunatic or madman would believe by themselves.

Somehow we are designed by natural selection to believe that if large groups of people believe something, there must be something to it. I guess some people have this mechanism working more strongly than others.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins had some kind words in there about you, indeed!

Anonymous said...

For those who love the story even though nonbeliever

Anonymous said...

Regarding Christmas--I was raised in a household in which we celebrated a secular Christmas, as a result of my father having "let go" of God because of so many questions about the Bible (sonds familiar). We loved every minute of the holiday. We sang all the songs, even the nativity-oriented ones--we just looked at ALL of it as myth and quaint custom.
The only difficulty for me was the prevalence of messages in the community, in the media, etc, that continually told me that the "true" meaning of Christmas can only have to do with the birth of Jesus. (I adored the Peanuts characters, and when the Charlie Brown Christmas special came out, and Linus told me "what Christmas is all about," I suffered some considerable discomfort.) But my family was always there to reinforce that so much of Christmas is mythology, and that most of the celebration pre-dates Christianity, etc.
The point is that it will not harm your daughter to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" along with "Jingle Bells" as long as you are there to provide some balance. It will all give her a stimulus for questioning and thinking.
I still love Christmas--as do my own children--and it doesn't bother me that some people focus on the nativity. I don't mind seeing creches here and there. However, I do think we need to offer the balance, and I do wish we would stop being bombarded with the message that there is only one true meaning to Christmas (implying that we non-believers should just hide in a hole somewhere until the season passes by without our participation). But don't shield Mulan from the reality of majority opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Julia and everyone who reads this blog will be interested in Nicholas Kristof's column in today's New York Times ( Dec. 3). I don't know how to create a link. Maybe someone else can.

Ben Turk said...

hey, to anyone reading this, i highly reccomend Jan Svankmeyer's newest film, "Luncay" it's the most blasphemous and beautiful thing i've seen in a long time.

Lots of animated meat and a scene where the Marquis De Sade pounds hundreds of nails into a statue of jeasus on the cross while denouncing and mocking god. But, really, it's not all shock value, thre's a lot of interesting philosophical argument about moralit and what not to it and it is a technically and visually amazing film.

Sheldon said...

Oops! Ben, you mis-typed the title of Jan Svankmeyer's film. It's Lunacy, not "Luncay."

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

Julia, in no small part inspired by seeing your show here in Cambridge, MA, I've just started a new blog called "Bible Study for Atheists."

I loved the part of your show about your Bible study class, but I couldn't imagine putting myself under a minister's tutelage.

So, I'm out here reading the King James Version myself, hoping some recovering Judeo-Christians will join in with interpretations and stories of church and temple life, and how the Bible has helped them, let them down, or messed them up.

Ben Turk said...

thanks sheldon,

i got Svankmejer wrong too...

Sheldon said...

Yep, it's Jan Švankmajer.

As my daddy would say, "Damn fer'ners!"

-- Shel : )

Anonymous said...


So, I read your post the other day about wanting to take Mulan to hear Christmas carols and experience elements of the Christian holiday without taking her to a church. Well ya just need to come to the rural midwest... I was at a public high school winter choral concert the other night and 9 out of 10 songs were Christian in nature: Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Away in a manger,... you get the picture. I thought maybe we'd confused the event with the neighboring parochial school. It only confirmed for me that Sheldon and NMB are correct in their positions.

Sheldon said...

Hey, Undecided:

I saw that story last week, and thought it would be a great post on Julia's blog, too. BUT, being an educator myself, I smelled a rat more and more as I read the story. By the end of the article, rather than seeing this kid as a "victim," I'm afraid I'm leaning more toward "trouble maker."

The girl's leprechaun story was unbelievably childish and unplausible, but I doubt Mr Averill was as gentle and sensitive as he lets on. This is evinced by the fact that he's had run-in's with, not one but, two faculty members in the past, both of which ended with him apologizing and admitting guilt. Although I commend him for being man enough to do that, it also seems to suggest that he has trouble getting his point across in a respectful manner.

Now, if the Leprechaun Girl had approached him, or if she had visited his blog and made these outlandish statements, he may have been justified in debating her into the ground. But, to approach someone else's conversation uninvited, and then to (I think) be rude and abusive, is inexcusable.

And, regardless of how the Portland Mercury News portrayed it, he wasn't expelled for his religious views; he was booted for being a jerk and exhibiting a pattern of abuse that affected others' ability to be educated in a pleasant atmosphere.

It's really too bad it got any publicity at all, in my opinion, because it ends up making Atheists look bad.

-- Sheldon

Anonymous said...


I had the same thoughts as I read it again after I posted. I spoke too soon which, unfortunately, is not unprecedented for me. I checked out his blog and he appears to be changing his tone to a more respectful one.

Sheldon said...


Isn't it all very interesting? He claims to have wiped out his old blog because of (surprise, surprise!) people drudging up past grievances (e.g., playing the victim again), but I'd bet dollars for donuts that he's really just covering his tracks. I mean, if you're accused of being ascerbic, it's a little difficult to maintain your innocense when there's a cyber trail of such behavior in the form of a blog.

We had a similar incident here on Julia's blog recently. A certain someone (who shall remain nameless, but it easily revealed if you look at earlier posts) was posting some very offensive things about gays, and even worse things on his own blog, but ended up deleting that blog after a certain someone (who shall also remain nameless) reported him to his fellow board members of the "Humanist Fellowship of North Texas." They were NOT thrilled with what they saw on his blog, and it disappeared within days.

Interesting, eh?

Lesson: If you're gonna be a fuck up, do it in private cuz there's no such thing as anonymity on the 'Net, baby.

Anonymous said...

in re "The Leprechaun Story:"
Steel yourself.
For among the other things that so many Christians and believers in general don't seem to notice about the season to be jolly, but that are the lifeblood of atheist humor (as well-I won't kid you- of some dispair) is the plethora of anecdotal tales of both religious moral superiority and goodness, as well as persecutions ameliorated by faith that appear as if by magic to move us to tears of both wonder and awe at the beauty and grace of faith.
Copy cat stuff!
Jealousy of the wondrous miracle that ONLY god and his love for his Chosen people could have produced with that slam dunk oil that lasted eight days when LOGIC and REALITY indicated it could last only one.
Yes, when all is said and done , it is envy of Yahweh's abiding devotion to the Jews that drove the first Gospeleer, Matthew, into such a creative frenzy allowing him to come up - CAN YOU TOP THIS? - with Virgin births, manger, magi and the assorted tales of divine intervention for which the human species has been paying ever since.
And even if one discards the splaying, flaying, immolations and general slaughters that it has bought us, these seasonal inspirational stories of persecution vindicated at last, are hard enough to take..
But hey, there ARE moral lessons that manage to make their way through the miasma and the sludge: the season DOES demand reflection that includes that man does not live by consumerism alone.
And that bunco writers have to make a living too.


P.S., Someone referred to celebrating a SECULAR CHRISTMAS.
What IS a secular Christmas?
Isn't that like saying one celebrates a secular Mass?
Has the name Jesus acquired a secular meaning?
Language itself has suffered at the altar of religion and the sometimes really bizarre ideas that keep it going even among people who really should know better.

Donita Curioso said...

Julia (and everyone),

Have you ever seen the film "Heaven" by Diane Keaton? You'd probably enjoy it. It's a documentary about people's views and ideas of heaven. There are interviews interspersed with film clips. Very entertaining and thought-provoking. It actually helped me with my "letting go" process.

Sambian said...

its x-mas!!