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.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    I’m convinced the Hulk doesn’t exist. No Hulk, anywhere, ever.

    No Hulk?!?? But I saw a movie and read illustrated books about the Hulk. I want to be the Hulk when I grow up.

    Damn, Hank, you sure know how to dash a guy’s hopes and dreams.

    • Zinc Avenger

      Millions, perhaps billions of people want to be the Hulk when they grow up. You’ve heard of the Hulk, even if you haven’t read the illustrated books, or watched the movies. This proves there is something – maybe not THE Hulk, but some sort of essential Hulkiness that is the basis for the Hulk you have heard of, which we may as well call The Hulk.

      The fool hath said in his heart, “It’s okay to make me angry.”

  • teawithbertrand

    “aim for goodness rather than godness”

    Nice one, Hank! I want the t-shirt.

  • akimom

    “we do all the things religious people do. We just do them without religion.”

    Nice & concise. Took me a long time to come out of the closet – I had to realize we’re just normal people, not the demons religion would lead you to believe.

    PS Thanks for the local plug!

  • sharon howard

    I really appreciated the article. Looks like we’re finally mainstreaming.

  • BCPA_Lady (now appearing in MN!)

    Excellent piece!

    …because a load of fear comes off your shoulders, and you begin to see the world around you more clearly.

    This. Acknowledging I was an atheist was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. Decades of shame, guilt, and fear dropped away leaving me happier and more at peace than my former religion ever did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001682409207 margaretwhitestone

    But all that goodness you learned from religion and god, even if you choose to deny him. He stamped his law on his heart, yadda yadda yadda.

  • jamessweet

    Besides which, Hitler and Stalin.

    It’s OT, but every time this is brought up, I have to say the same thing…

    There is a question to be answered regarding the relationship between atheism and Stalin/Pol Pot/Mao/etc. It’s not a particularly difficult question, but still, any historical account of atheism is going to have to deal with the phenomenon of 20th century totalitarian states which enforced atheism with the barrel of a gun.

    But Hitler? Hitler????? It’s a complete nonsequitir. It’s like saying Christians need to answer for Atilla the Hun. Or that the highlander peoples of Papua New Guinea have to answer for the American slave trade.

    I mean, if you are going to commit the Association Fallacy, at least make sure that your A actually is a B before you argue that all B’s are C’s!

  • ORAXX

    Evidently, being a non-theist means you can’t possibly want to live in a better world. Anyone who believes the world suddenly became a better place with the advent of christianity, needs to spend some time studying the bloody, gory, history of Europe.

  • Carlie

    That piece is everything I love about your writing. Simple, direct, no-nonsense, sounds just like common sense. Nothing anybody can argue against without twisting it all around first.

  • Aaron Ross

    So what about Stalin? Was he not REALLY an atheist?

    There is no question that Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin set in motion the operations which led to the Gulags, and which killed MILLIONS of Christians.

    Lenin and Trotsky especially were committed to eliminating religion.

    After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

    Better to face up to it rather than keeping up the No True Atheist dodge.


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