Questions for Atheists: What Else are You Passionate About?

Mike Clawson here again.

Maybe I should just start with the disclaimers. I am posting this question solely out of a desire to get to know people better, and hopefully to help find some common ground and common passions. I have no hidden agenda, and if you think you perceive any subtle digs directed at atheists then please assume that you are misreading me. Also, this post is not an invitation to play “Ask a Christian Pastor” again and bombard me with demands to defend every little aspect of my faith. Let’s talk about our other passions, not about what you don’t like about my faith. And if you decide to hammer me with these questions anyway, please don’t get offended if I decline to engage.

So here’s my question: I know that most of you here are pretty passionate about atheism and also usually about the separation of church and state. And I’ve noticed that whenever Hemant or whomever invites you to become more activist it usually has to do with supporting either Atheist groups, groups fighting for Separation, or (less frequently) groups supporting science education. That’s all well and good, and it’s natural that these would be emphasized on a specifically atheist blog. It’s also natural that at a blog like this people would talk about those passions and not so much about other ones.

However, I don’t want to make the mistake of assuming that these are the sole or even primary defining passions in your lives. I’m sure that many of us are also passionately committed to other causes and issues, perhaps even more so than atheism or religious/non-religious freedom. For instance, I am passionately committed to social justice issues – e.g. issues of fair trade, anti-slavery, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, ethical consumption, racial and gender equality, and active peacemaking. You might not know it based on the things I end up talking about here, but I’m actually far more interested in these topics than I am in discussing atheism vs. theism.

So I’m curious about you. What else are you passionate about? What issues are most important to you? What causes have you devoted your life to? Are “atheist” and “religious” issues your primary interests or are those simply what shows through here on this blog?

Let’s share our passions. I’m hopeful that we’ll find more points of commonality than perhaps we would expect.

  • http://endcycle.blogspot.com Jeremy

    I am passionate about music and food, mostly, though every once in a while I find other things to flip out about. I enjoy arguing with my friends (which is something the Atheism ties nicely into) and drinking heavily when I can.

    To be honest, I’m getting burned out on the atheistic passion. :) I need to find a way to reinvigorate that in myself, and soon.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Good question, Mike. Thanks!

    As will surprise exactly nobody who reads my blog, I’m passionate about sex information and sexual civil rights — including gay/ lesbian/ bi/ trans rights, but by no means limited to them.

    I’m passionate about global warming. Deeply. If that problem doesn’t get solved, then game over. Every other problem and debate will be a moot point.

    I’m passionate about social justice issues, such as poverty, health care, all the various -isms, etc.

    And not politically: I’m passionately curious about science — especially the sciences of the brain and mind, such as neurobiology, evolutionary psychology, linguistics, etc.

    Plus dancing, music, food, and books.

    And, of course, I’m passionate about my partner Ingrid. More than all the others combined.

  • sabrina

    I am passionate about racial and gender equality as well. I am also passionate about reproductive rights and justice, domestic violence, renewable energy, the diamond trade (please people stop buying diamonds), and civil rights for everyone. This is especially true for our gay brothers and sisters; they deserve the same rights as everyone else, including marriage, insurance, death benefits, etc. I guess the reason you could say I’m “passionate” about atheism, is because I see so many rights (ie gay, reproductive, womens etc) being eroded because of other people’s beliefs. I would imagine that if the Christian Right wasn’t so strong and vocal, people wouldn’t even really be talking about atheism. Its not all that easy getting passionate about non-belief; but it is easy when you see your rights eroding because of other people’s beliefs.

  • http://youtube.com/joelschooling Joel Schooling

    Simple (common) passions: MUSIC (listening and creating), Reading (Fiction and Non Fiction), Exercise (Running and Cycling)

    More personal: Arguments! (I almost said “conversations”, but I prefer there to be opposing sides.), Apple Products, Simplifying Life! (What a feeling it is to look over your house and know you have no excess crap! )

    Fruit Smoothies. There’s a brand called “Naked”. Amazing.

  • Iztok

    Interesting question! I don’t know for others, but for me I am passionate about child advocacy. I am a licensed foster parent in process of adopting a 16 year old that spent years in custody of DSS (group homes, foster homes etc…).

  • http://youtube.com/joelschooling Joel Schooling

    Simple (common) passions: MUSIC (listening and creating), Reading (Fiction and Non Fiction), Exercise (Running and Cycling)

    More personal: Film making (Check My URL) Arguments! (I almost said “conversations”, but I prefer there to be opposing sides.), Apple Products, Simplifying Life! (What a feeling it is to look over your house and know you have no excess crap! )

    Fruit Smoothies. There’s a brand called “Naked”. Amazing.

  • Colin M

    Social justice, good weather, and making people smile.

  • April

    GLBT rights, Environmental causes (especially global warming, as Gretchen says above, all other arguments are moot if that isn’t solved), Autism diagnosis (health care coverage for Autism) and treatment, reproductive rights, and abolishing the death penalty.
    As for personal passions, reading, exercise, playing with my son and educating him about the world we live in (which requires quite a bit of self education as well).

  • April

    Apologies if this posts twice. I received a SQL error when submitting the first time.
    GLBT rights, Environmental causes (especially global warming, as Gretchen says above, all other arguments are moot if that isn’t solved), Autism diagnosis (health care coverage for Autism) and treatment, reproductive rights, and abolishing the death penalty.
    As for personal passions, reading, exercise, playing with my son and educating him about the world we live in (which requires quite a bit of self education as well).

  • Elizabeth

    Even more than atheism, I’m passionate about ethically made products which support the person who made them rather than the person who imported them. After a year of working with a group in India, I can see how far the money that we in the West spend on simple things, such as scarves, can go in foreign economies.

    I also love to bake. Anything. You name it, I’ll make it for you. In fact, I like to bake things that I myself won’t eat (hello, ever-expanding waistline) for people around me to enjoy.

  • ash

    music, reading, hiding, drinking, eating cake, sex.

    (oh, and religion, rights, morals, ethics and equalities, but only when i’m wearing my serious head.)

    edit: seriously, how could i forget the t.v. show Heroes?

  • http://www.eldugan.com/ Beth

    This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Now that I have settled myself as an atheist, I feel more at peace and less riled up and passionate about it. Strange. I read this atheist blog and several other “religious” blogs (just to keep an eye on what smart people of faith are saying and doing), along with blogs about other things I am interested in (feminism, environmental issues, pets, current events, sex and politics) and while I am new and excited atheist, I just don’t get all worked up about it I guess. I am much more interested in discussing feminism, art and other aspects of society I feel are under attack. I am passionate about writing and books and thoughtfully examining the art produced this way. But I am also passionate about some of the things mentioned here like good food, good drink, good friends, and having a good time.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Here are some of my (not-directly-atheism-related) passions:

    Car-free urban living, building a sustainable society, writing novels (plus blogging).

  • Adrian

    Vegetarianism, combating racism, bias and poverty, ecology, biology, physics, astronomy, the stock market and computer programming. In my personal life, I’m passionate about exploring, backpacking and sailing.

    Incidentally, I’m not passionate about atheism. Little would please me more than if I never had to utter the word “atheist” again. Instead, I view the discussion as aberrant branches of physics and politics which I am passionate about :)

  • Brian

    Personally I believe in applying moderation to all facets of your life, and not becoming too overly passionate on one given area. It seems to be the only way I can get the right balance in my life concerning work, family and enjoyment.

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    I’m passionate about evolution! Haven’t I told you that Darwin is my dead boyfriend? Haven’t I haven’t I haven’t I haven’t I?

    Oh, wait…

  • AMT

    I am passionate about Spanish literature (weird, I know), reading for pleasure, and great music. Also feminism, GLBT equality, and fat acceptance. And crossword puzzles.

  • http://complexzeta.wordpress.com Simon

    I tend to be either very passionate about things or not interested at all. As far as issues go, though, I’m most passionate about veganism.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    Pastor Mike said:

    I am passionately committed to social justice issues – e.g. issues of fair trade, anti-slavery, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, ethical consumption, racial and gender equality, and active peacemaking.

    This goes directly to an argument I have been trying to make a bit on my blog. Pastor Mike, your quote above could very well have come out of my mouth. We share the ethics and morals that lead us to the opinions we hold on those issues. The only thing we disagree on is their source.

  • AMT

    I am passionate about Spanish literature (weird, I know), reading for pleasure, and great music. Also feminism, GLBT issues, and fat acceptance. And crossword puzzles.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    I’m passionate about LGQTB(etc.) rights and the civil rights and liberties of all people. I am passionate about advocacy of children, and I’ve adopted a child who spent most of his life so far in foster care. I’m passionate about the environment and what we can do to create a sustainable culture.

    I’m kind of post-passionate about atheism. It’s hard to keep up a good head of steam for a topic that is basically the absence of something else. It’s basically like how I really can’t get all worked up about not caring about professional or college sports.

    I am a big proponent of better science education and education in general.

  • http://bruisescolours.wordpress.com/ bc

    I’m passionate about science. I am really fascinated by all the new worlds we are discovering, over 200 extra solar planets now. I can’t wait for LHC at CERN to turn on either. Clearly physics and astronomy are my main focus, but I enjoy learning about other sciences as well.

    I am passionate about politics, which is by extension why I care about atheism (living near Liberty University will do that). Social Justice is probably my main diving focus for my political interest. Climate Change is another issue I am interested in, as well as environmentalism, coloured by the science interest of course.

    I am also passionate about sports. It reminds me that we can all come together and support something if we can put aside our differences for a few hours, and they’re fun.

  • Rachel

    Science, Technology and History.

    I could go on about other things like that I’m proud to live in a country the recognizes gay marriage, that I’m passionate about civil liberty, free speech, etc.

    But in my opinion the root cause is Science, Technology and History.
    If more people were more highly educated in Science and Technology alot of the causes of injustice (ingnorance, homophobia, etc) would be eliminated.
    Also a good understanding of History (an objective understanding of history) puts much of what we grapple with today in perspective in the larger context, makes you feel smaller, but this is good, people need to know they are not the center of the universe.

    Personally I think that a love of learning and an excellent education puts people out of their head space.
    I think people spend entirely too much time in their head space.
    It is hard to be depressed and obsessed with your own world when you are constantly grappling with puzzling science and technology problems or have the perspective to understand that I’m really a small blip on a big timeline, so I better get out and enjoy life.

    I think that countries that stress this viewpoint generally do better economically, politically and socially.

    I lament on a daily basis that enrollment rates for computer science, engineering and even skilled trades continue to decrease, it bothers me that so few women are in this field.

    I beleive that knowledge, education, experience are the only thing one can posses that cannot be taken away and ultimately set you free.

    It bothers me that I have to subscribe to History and technical magazines because no one would ever put popular science or discovery in the grocery wait line, it’s only celebrity gossip.

    It bothers me that I have only 1 woman freind, because I don’t want to talk about home decorating or complain about my kids in the lunch room, I want to talk about technology in the news, new discoveries.

    It bothers me that TLC is now just a home renovation channel.
    It bothers me that children are brought up to value clothes, celebs, cars, houses and not lifelong learning and wonder.

    It bothers me that we live in a society of overconsumption and anti-depressents and that people buy into these false ideas of happiness.

    It bothers me that self help books and and the prevaling attitude on TV overstresses a self centered self important viewpoint and touts this as a good thing.

    It bothers me when I see Oprah Winfrey’s audience of glazed over medicated housewives participating in self gratification by giving a destitute family a new car yet these are the same people that go home to their McMansions and think universal health care is a communist idea.

    It bothers me that we are a society that values conformity in actions and appearance so much we’re plastic surgery obsessed and afraid to be different.

    I beleive a value system that stresses life long learning, a love of science, technology, a system that stresses making the world a better place through inovation, being smart, being different, being yourself counteracts much of the above crap.

    It means that at the end of the day if the strange, fat, one-eyed dyke in weird clothing is valued more and people think she is way cool because she has something interesting to say, or invented something cool is valued much more than the paris hilton look alike.

    That day we’ll all be much better off.

  • cautious

    What else are you passionate about?
    To throw in a mix of superficial and not, my research (…and yet, somehow, not so passionate when it comes to writing about it), mammalian systematics, a good book on occasion, motherfrakkin BSG, the political causes du jour that I feel are worth fighting for, the people i love and (on the occasions when this is applicable) the people i love, trying to live more sustainably, whatever video game is cluttering my free time.

    What issues are most important to you?
    Anthropogenic global warming and ecological sustainability, the extension of equal civil rights to all people, the restoration of democracy to America and the spread of it around the world. I’m fairly convinced that all three of these tie in together, I’m just wondering what’s taking a critical mass of people long enough to figure it out too.

    What causes have you devoted your life to?
    (looks at short existence thus far) N/A (so far?)

    Are “atheist” and “religious” issues your primary interests or are those simply what shows through here on this blog?
    I think the interest of mine that shows through here on this blog is my interest in being a follower of Eris.

  • http://mcshaggy.blogspot.com Brett

    Politics. Especially Green politics. I ran for the Green Party of Ontario in the last provincial election. Did pretty well, but obviously didn’t get the seat. I pay close attention to all levels of government, and your presidential campaign, too. Though I don’t know how you’re sustaining this level of mania for so long. That in itself is part of the fascination, too, I suppose.

    Environmental and sustainability issues, too. And social justice (which is a part of it).

    I also consume pop culture like the Blob. Music (all kinds, except new country), movies (esp. horror movies), and books (again, esp. horror fiction).

  • http://yetanotheratheistblog.wordpress.com/ stone1343

    It may sound like I’m echoing previous commenters, but I’d say
    1. global warming & peak oil
    2. social justice, racial and sexual equality
    3. evolution, science and critical thinking

    I’m a Canadian who’s always loved the US, but right now I’m ashamed of both of our countries, for their (non) stance on global warming, peak oil, growing worldwide food shortages, inaction on misery in Africa

  • http://www.jenniferbick.com Jenni

    Vegetarianism
    Animal Rights
    Women’s Rights
    Gay Rights
    Separation of Church and State

    Basically all human rights and equality.

    and Knitting…its what i love!

  • Sudo

    Are there any atheists out there who aren’t liberal?

    Is anyone pro-life? Anyone think global warming is a hoax (wait, climate change?) How many of you believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms (in the United States anyway)? How about illegal immigration, lower taxes, affirmative action, stem cell research, and the war in Iraq? Pro or con?

  • Adrian

    Sudo,

    If it helps, much of Europe is atheist and they have a lot of diversity of political and moral views. I know some really whacky atheists here in Canada, just look at the New Age movement which is largely atheist. You’re probably seeing the effect of self-selection, rather than something inherent in the atheist psyche.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    Mike,

    I’m passionate about reality-based comprehensive sexuality education.

    Although I’m an atheist, I belong to a church (Unitarian Universalist) that affirms freedom of belief as a core value and is non-creedal. Because of that, my atheism is affirmed along with the other religious beliefs in our congregations.

    We have a series of excellent sexuality education curricula for children, adolescents, and adults that called Our Whole Lives or OWL. More information on OWL can be found here:

    http://www.uua.org/religiouseducation/curricula/ourwhole/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Whole_Lives

    OWL was developed in partnership with secular sexuality educators (Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, etc) and it was also developed in partership with the United Church of Christ (a liberal Christian denomination with historical roots in New England Congregationalism and German Reformed Christianity).

    As an atheist who works in church settings, I think it’s our job to provide salvation from those things that deny life or make life less whole. And sexuality education is one example of this type of salvation. Not only do we save lives, we can also make lives more whole by affirming the goodness of bodies, sexuality, pleasure, etc.

  • sabrina

    It means that at the end of the day if the strange, fat, one-eyed dyke in weird clothing is valued more and people think she is way cool because she has something interesting to say, or invented something cool is valued much more than the paris hilton look alike.

    That day we’ll all be much better off.

    *applause*

  • http://atheistblogger.com Adrian Hayter

    I’m passionate about computers, and more specifically the Linux operating system. I’m so passionate I’m doing a degree in Computer Science at the moment :D

    I’m also passionate about other science, like Evolution (for obvious reasons). You could also say I’m “passionate” about Intelligent Design…I mean, I’ve read numerous articles on it and know a load about it. I still think it’s an outrage.

    I’m also into Gay Rights, support of Gay Marriage, abortion, secularism, gun control, animal rights, you name it.

  • http://katsudon.livejournal.com Katsu

    There are a lot of issues that I’m very passionate about (I’m just that kind of person) but the ones that concern me primarily these days are women’s rights, the humane treatment of animals (or: animal rights in a way that still lets me enjoy being at the top of the food chain), and education – especially in that low-income children are being screwed more than ever thanks to No Child Left Behind.

  • Rachel

    Social liberal (beleive the government has no place in the bedroom and religion has no place in government).
    Fiscal conservative, I vote Conservate in Canadian elections due to their fiscal stance and the fact they largely stay out of religion/attacking gay marriage.
    I believe taxes have a horible impact on the economy (deadweight losses), but I still beleive in universal health care and glady pay taxes for this (although I think the GST needs to be abolished). I beleive in progressive not regressive personal taxation, but those who’ve invested in their education in fields where the pay is good need make no excuses so progressive taxation to an extent.
    I beleive Canada needs a stronger military presence and more military spending and I wholeheartedly support our troups.

    Also if I lived in the US I’d be tempted to vote for McCain just because I beleive the middle east is a real threat and I think he would do the best job in this area even if I disagree with his social conservative stance.

    So for a Canadian I’m pretty right wing.

  • Sudo

    Thank you for the reply, Adrian.

    I was wondering if I should turn in my Bona Fide Atheist Card if I think global warming is a hoax, believe in my right to carry a firearm for self-defense (not hunting), feel that there should be a moratorium on immigration, like my taxes as low as possible, think that kids in kindergarten should not be taught ANY sex education, let alone anything about gay rights, and that separation of church and state includes Islam, Wicca, and every other religion – not just Christianity.

    Maybe I’m okay though, because I think Bush is an idiot (well, to be fair I think Hillary and Obama are no better…), am against the war in Iraq, and am more or less pro-choice although the idea of abortion itself makes me queasy.

    Oh, and evolution doesn’t seem to me to be as airtight an explanation of our origins as people claim, affirmative action is a bad idea, and neither is socialism.

    Talk about a minority: an atheist conservative. Maybe I should start my own blog.

  • TXatheist

    Composting. When I moved to Texas I learned the soil is pretty bad so I have learned to be a natural gardener and rarely use chemicals on my lawn(only use Scott’s Bonus S because I bought a huge bag). Big on pro-choice and use to go out regularly to counter protest the guys with the slaughtered baby signs. (Son’s in sports now so Saturday’s are busy)

    Sodo,
    I have changed my view quite a bit since getter older. I understand why the gun people want

  • Karen

    Good question!

    I’m passionately interested in progressive politics, particularly providing universal health care, equal rights, improving public school education and working for the eradication of poverty. Right now I am on a continuous emotional roller coaster supporting Obama. I also support entrepreneurs in the developing world through Kiva.org and some work-related expertise I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute.

    I’m also a big BSG fan and count among my passionate hobbies horses, discovering the joys of science, road biking, reading (lifelong book worm) and creative writing.

  • Sudo

    Any of you that are pro-choice ever come down in favor of the father’s rights?

    A man and woman have sex. She gets pregnant.

    She wants the baby – he gets to pay 18 years of child support payments, whether he wants a child or not.

    He wants the baby – she doesn’t. Too bad, it’s her body!

    Equal right? I think not. If a woman wants the sole right to decide whether to have a child or not, she should accept full responsibility for raising that child, too.

  • http://intrinsicallyknotted.wordpress.com Susan B.

    What am I passionate about?

    • MATH! Seriously, mathematics is my overwhelming passion and I’m thinking about it all the time. Friends sometimes complain that I won’t shut up about it, and it’s been stated only half-jokingly that math is my religion. I like to play with logic, and this has led me to be interested in computers and computer programming as well.

    I’m also passionate about math education, partly because I want to share my love of math with everyone else, but mostly because math education at the moment is so horrendously awful that it’s no wonder most people are afraid of math. That needs to be fixed and I want to fix it.

    • Nature: I love being outside, experiencing the natural world, hiking, and especially taking pictures. I love flowers, birds, bugs, anything that catches my eye or ear. This is one reason why I am passionate about science as well–I want to learn as much as I can about the natural world, as well as physics, chemistry, and so on. It’s also why I’m so passionate about fighting creationism, especially in education; it’s anti-science and would deprive a whole generation of kids of the joy of using their brains to figure things out about the world.

    • Art: doing art, experiencing art, using my creativity and appreciating the creativity and imagination of others. I particularly enjoy sketching, as well as theatre, and I love listening to music. In the last few years, I’ve come to love knitting and crocheting as well, particularly now that I’ve gained enough intuition for it to make up my own patterns.

    I’m only passionate about atheism as a part of a much broader interest in philosophy, particularly philosophy of the mind. How do we think? How do we learn things about the world? What kinds of paradoxes can we find? Since religions so often either serve as examples or provide input to these kinds of questions, I particularly enjoy discussing religious ideas, preferably with a mix of theists and atheists. The other reason I’m passionate about atheism is for the same reason I an many others are passionate about women’s rights, minority rights, and so on–because we deserve the same rights as everybody else!

  • sabrina

    Any of you that are pro-choice ever come down in favor of the father’s rights?

    A man and woman have sex. She gets pregnant.

    She wants the baby – he gets to pay 18 years of child support payments, whether he wants a child or not.

    He wants the baby – she doesn’t. Too bad, it’s her body!

    Equal right? I think not. If a woman wants the sole right to decide whether to have a child or not, she should accept full responsibility for raising that child, too.

    Umm, Sudo, child support laws do not exist to punish men for having sex. They actually exist, well, to support children. Now, I don’t speak for all women, but its hard to imagine a woman making a man have sex with her, forcing him to not use protection, just so she could get $500 a month. If the man does not want the responsibility, condoms are very effective. I agree it is difficult for men, I can only imagine how hard it is that men don’t get to have abortions, but, biology is as it is. As for the part of your statement about the woman getting an abortion even if the man wants the baby; you’re right, it is her body. No one has the right to force someone to carry their genetic material for nine months. If a man wants a baby that bad, go find a surrogate.
    I am also curious about your problems with evolution. A lot of people confuse evolution with abiogenesis. Do you have a problem with species evolving, or is it more, where did the universe come from, how did the first life form develop, etc. Usually, evolution is not the problem, its the “where it all began” thats the issue. Also, what evidence leads you to believe global warming is a hoax?

    By the way, I too am a gun owning atheist. But I am an unapologetic liberal one as well:) Don’t despair, though, my sister is an atheist, but a conservative Republican one. But like you, she is pro choice and thinks Bush is an idiot.

  • Marlon Mendez

    I’m a heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal and everyting-that ends-in-METAL addict
    I’m an atheist metalhead

  • cautious

    sudo:

    Talk about a minority: an atheist conservative.

    Well…methinks you’re not alone.

    That said, I’m “looking forward” to this thread becoming a place to debate political opinions so that we can show that atheists are passionate about arguing. Since, well, we kinda are.

    (i’d like to have an argument, please)

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    the diamond trade (please people stop buying diamonds)

    Or buy Fair Trade, conflict free diamonds.

  • Roe

    I am a big supporter of human rights as well as separation of church and state, however I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about these things.

    I am passionate about the outdoors, I love to hunt, fish, hike, camp, mountain bike, ski etc.

    You don’t have to be a vegetarian/vegan to be an atheist ;-)

  • Ron in Houston

    Before I answer the direct question, I wanted to dispute the assumption that I’m passionate about atheism. For me, there’s nothing there to be passionate about. In a similar vein, I didn’t really understand why so many people got personally offended by the whole Rep. Davis mess. Saying that non-belief is a danger or that someone who is a non-believer should be heard is absurd, but again, what’s there to insult?

    My passion is primarily the constitution. I’m a strong ACLU type. I’d fight as hard against discrimination for some cult like religious minority as discrimination against atheists.

  • sabrina

    Or buy Fair Trade, conflict free diamonds.

    Ooohhh…I’ve been shunning diamonds for so long…I honestly didn’t know they had them in Canada. I started shunning them because of the gross human atrocities in Africa, and then because I learned that DeBeers were hoarding diamonds and artificially inflating the price. Then, add the fact that engagement rings were not exclusively diamond until the 1940′s until Debeers ran ads stating that “diamonds are forever”. After that, I was sickened by the whole industry. But this is great..thanks Mike.

  • TXatheist

    Sudo,
    Would you be a Ron Paul supporter? Anyway, I liked him up to a point. I”m fiscally conservative but I disagree with him on welfare and really wonder how reducing by military abroad will make us safer so I stopped listening to him but I liked him initially and many of his ideas still.

  • Sudo

    Well, I am glad to see I am not alone. Thanks for the link to Ayn Rand (how could I have forgotten?) and for the personal anecdotes.

    Sabrina wrote:

    Umm, Sudo, child support laws do not exist to punish men for having sex. They actually exist, well, to support children. Now, I don’t speak for all women, but its hard to imagine a woman making a man have sex with her, forcing him to not use protection, just so she could get $500 a month. If the man does not want the responsibility, condoms are very effective. I agree it is difficult for men, I can only imagine how hard it is that men don’t get to have abortions, but, biology is as it is. As for the part of your statement about the woman getting an abortion even if the man wants the baby; you’re right, it is her body. No one has the right to force someone to carry their genetic material for nine months. If a man wants a baby that bad, go find a surrogate.

    Although I appreciate your argument, nothing you’ve said puts men and women on equal footing as it pertains to reproductive rights. Condoms work wonders; so do birth control pills, IUD’s, and whatever other method a woman prefers. And yes, there are *plenty* of women out there who lie about being on birth control in the hope of becoming pregnant in a misguided attempt to dupe their lovers into marrying them; and, there are women who have more children for the express purpose of getting extra money in their welfare subsidies. More children = more $$$.

    I am also curious about your problems with evolution. A lot of people confuse evolution with abiogenesis. Do you have a problem with species evolving, or is it more, where did the universe come from, how did the first life form develop, etc. Usually, evolution is not the problem, its the “where it all began” thats the issue. Also, what evidence leads you to believe global warming is a hoax?

    Abiogenisis is one problem, yes. Panspermia and ‘lightning striking primordial ooze’ seem just as far-fetched to me as the loving Sky God who sends his progeny to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. On the other, I just don’t feel the evidence justifies the hypothesis. The same thing with global warming. Just a couple of decades ago we were headed for another ice age. Now everything is going to dry up and kill half the planet because the planet is too warm. Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe it. Just like the oil companies underestimated how much oil would be needed to meet fuel needs, so prices are going to go up to meet the demand. Yeah, righ! LMAO

    By the way, I too am a gun owning atheist. But I am an unapologetic liberal one as well:) Don’t despair, though, my sister is an atheist, but a conservative Republican one. But like you, she is pro choice and thinks Bush is an idiot.

    Gun owning liberal = oxymoron? Just kidding. All kidding aside, it’s not saying much that we all think Bush is an idiot. That’s the majority view! :D

    To Txatheist: Yes, I am / was a Ron Paul supporter. I pretty much agreed with about 90% of his policies.

  • http://www.christophermwalsh.com Christopher

    I’m passionate about arts and arts education. My background is in theater, and I’m gearing up toward a degree in English Literature. I have a massive movie collection, and a respectable book collection — mostly fiction. If I could spend all day every day reading some, writing some, watching a movie or two, and then rehearsing or performing on stage in the evenings, I would be very, very content.

    Nice question! I love this site.

  • David D.G.

    An interesting question. I agree, this is a good way to learn more about possible areas of common ground.

    Here are some things I am passionate about, ranging from abstract values to favorite interests and hobbies:

    * Equal rights under just laws (that’s “just” as in “justice,” not as in “only”).
    * Proper enforcement of those laws, with appropriate punishments.
    * Term limits for political offices, and other limitations on their power.
    * Environmentalism and sustainable energy technology.
    * Fiscal responsibility.
    * Critical thinking, especially applied to everyday concerns (e.g., advertising, comments made in the media, so-called “alternative medicine”).
    * A free, open, and honest press (whatever form of media it actually takes).
    * First Amendment rights all around. (I’m a big fan of the Bill of Rights, but of course this one occupies a special place for me.)
    * My significant other (when I have one).
    * Manners in all circumstances (e.g., not driving like a self-important jerk).
    * Good grammar, spelling, and other aspects of communication skills.
    * Promotion of learning foreign languages.
    * Education in general, including tying it into the real world more.
    * Writing (both appreciating it and creating it).
    * Music (both listening to it and creating it).
    * Sciences, especially astronomy, paleontology, and archaeology.
    * History, especially ancient history (i.e., premediaeval).
    * Classic literature (mostly Shakespeare and earlier).
    * Science fiction, especially the Golden Age of literary SF.
    * Comic book superheroes. (Don’t judge me!)
    * Roleplaying games (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons).

    I don’t necessarily get to indulge in all my passions frequently, but I share time on them in whatever ways I can, whenever I get the opportunity.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I am passionate about knitting, fiber arts, and writing.

    I am very passionate about many of the social justice issues that others have mentioned, especially women’s rights to control their own lives and bodies and trying to gain equal rights for gays and lesbians. I also am passionate about education and the right of all children to have a solid education that should not be inhibited by ignorant parents who want to indoctrinate their children so thoroughly into their religion that they don’t have the mental capability to escape.

    I am also incredibly passionate about hating the GOP and fundamentalism because what they both stand for is in direct opposition to just about every issue I am passionate about in a positive way.

    I’m not really passionate about atheism either. I’m passionately opposed to religious oppression and stupidity.

    I love math and science and sci-fi, but I don’t think I’d say I’m passionate about any of these.

  • Grimalkin

    My main passion is animal protection (particularly for farm animals). I’m not PETA-militant or anything, I’m not even a vegetarian. But I do believe very strongly that animals need to be treated as humanely as possible. And a lot of the really bad stuff is just so easy to avoid, but of course factory farmers just don’t care enough to make the little changes that really make a world of difference.

  • Ubi Dubium

    My kids (two lovely and brilliant girls),

    Global warming (I’m against it) and environmental protection (I’m for it),

    Science and History,

    Separation of Church and State (and more specifically, separation of Church and me),

    Local Politics (Yup, I’m liberal, liberal, liberal!)

    Singing in my local chorus,

    Star Trek, Harry Potter and Doctor Who. Wow, am I a geek or what?

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com Arkonbey

    I am passionate about protecting the only planet we have to live on (into the mix add passionate about mountain biking and backpacking)

    I have a passionate dislike for sprawl and consumerism (though I am by no means a luddite or communist)

    I am passionate about human rights worldwide.

    I am passionate about gay rights (I’m straight buy have gay friends and relations)

    I am passionate about art (mostly classicism and surrealism) and music (many genre).

    The answer to the underlying question posed by your title, is I am not ‘passionate’ about atheism (I don’t try to convert people). I am passionate about reason; the atheism is just a by-product.

  • Christian (My Name Only)

    Anarchism

  • David D.G.

    Arkonbey said:

    The answer to the underlying question posed by your title, is I am not ‘passionate’ about atheism (I don’t try to convert people). I am passionate about reason; the atheism is just a by-product.

    I think this is one of the most exquisite expressions of this view that I have ever seen. It sums up my position exactly as well.

    ~David D.G.

  • David D.G.

    Sorry for the multiple posts, but I just wanted to add one more item that I am passionate about: Honesty, including a willingness to deal with the truth, whatever it is — essentially, the same ideal that infuses the scientific method as well as personal integrity. Dishonesty, hypocrisy, and treachery are, in my opinions, among the worst traits some people freely exhibit.

    I really should have listed this first among my original list, but some things are so fundamental to one’s personality and values that it is hard to remember to verbalize them all.

    ~David D.G.

  • sabrina

    Condoms work wonders; so do birth control pills, IUD’s, and whatever other method a woman prefers.

    Why is it automatically assumed that its the woman’s responsibility to provide birth control? As a woman, I don’t especially want to add hormones into my body, or put a plastic device in my uterus. If I was a guy, and I didn’t want a baby, I wouldn’t trust someone else’s birth control methods.

    there are women who have more children for the express purpose of getting extra money in their welfare subsidies. More children = more $$$.

    That’s a myth. The government stopped that. I think its after two kids you don’t receive any extra money.

    there are *plenty* of women out there who lie about being on birth control in the hope of becoming pregnant in a misguided attempt to dupe their lovers into marrying them

    That comment makes me feel like you have some kind of hostility/bitterness towards women. I would hope that if you had sex with someone, you would know their values, or if they’re the type of person to do that. Plus, I don’t know any woman who wants to be married to a guy that felt like he was “trapped”. I assume you’ve seen news articles and studies where the men actually are messing up their partners birth control, to force her to become pregnant, to stay with them. I imagine it happens on both sides. In other words, thats not a gender thing, as much as an insecure, deceitful act. I will give you that its a lot easier for women to sabotage their birth control, than it is for a man to do it. But, like I said before, condoms are the key.

    Now everything is going to dry up and kill half the planet because the planet is too warm. Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe it.

    It’s a good quality to be skeptical, but, I really think you should research the evidence and studies before ruling it out. Just dismissing something out of hand is what Christians do to evolution or atheism, without ever understanding it. I agree about abiogenesis, it is a wild field, and some of the theories seem out there. But, unfortunately, there are no answers. I’m of the mindset that I don’t really care how the universe came to be formed; maybe it was aliens, purple space monkeys, a collective soul, a god or gods. I think it may be something we won’t ever know. Have you checked out the Miller and Uley experiments, though. They’re pretty interesting.

    Gun owning liberal = oxymoron?

    I always thought so, but if we can’t even get enough gun control to keep criminals from having guns, then I’d better have something. Plus I love the shooting range. I’d like to add, though, that I never use my gun to hunt animals. Well, I might go quail hunting with Dick Cheney :)

    Although I appreciate your argument, nothing you’ve said puts men and women on equal footing as it pertains to reproductive rights.

    There never can be totally equal rights when it comes to reproduction. The fact is, a woman gets pregnant, not a man. You can’t give men rights over a woman’s body, even if it is their baby. How would you stop a vengeful, abusive ex? Making a woman carry an unwanted pregnancy to term seems cruel, and a way to make it easy for a bitter ex to punish his partner. As a human being, I know you would not want someone to have control of your body and reproductive organs. And I really can’t imagine many men shrugging off their responsibilities when it comes to supporting their children. I know thats not a man I would want to sleep with. I really wish men could get pregnant and decide if they want an abortion or not; really, I do, especially one week out of every month :) But thats not the case. And once a child is born, that child is important. Not if the man was “duped”, or if he didn’t want the baby, or etc. Its not easy for women; its not like they get these $300-500 monthly checks and go “yippee. I’m a single mom with an extra $500. Of course, that has to go to electricity, food, diapers, daycare, water, etc. But, woo hoo, I really got that guy! Being a single mom is great. I can stay home all weekend and finger paint!”.

  • Laura

    I’m passionate about parenting my two boys in a way that is gentle, loving, and creative (on my good days).

    I have recently become passionate about eating local food, as an eco friendly alternative to the food industry in the US today.

    Generally, passionate about living my life, being happy with my family, teaching my boys to think for themselves and to respect all people.

    Good question.

  • Sudo

    Hi Sabrina
    Wow, lots of comments! You and I are going to take up all the bandwidth just between the two of us, lol. I won’t cut and paste your comments, I will just respond here to your thoughts.

    I never said birth control was the woman’s responsibility. Likewise, it isn’t just the man’s responsibility, either. Me, personally, I don’t trust any birth control method 100%, so I’m certainly not taking someone’s word for it, either. But alas, everyone isn’t as smart as we are, Sabrina. ;-)

    I have no bitterness towards women. I suppose if I’m bitter about anything, it’s what I perceive to be the constant beratement of men on these issues. Woman gets pregnant, it’s the guy’s fault, he should have used a condom. Wait, he wants the baby. Too fookin’ bad, it’s not his body. The issue isn’t really reproductive rights – it’s whining and complaining about equal rights when a woman already has more rights than a man (in this issue and many others, like qualifications for law enforcement or fire fighter positions, for example.)

    I admit it’s been awhile since I’ve looked up the actual regulations for welfare, but there was a time when more children = more $$$, and I heard women with my own ears admit that’s why they wanted to get pregnant. Not to mention free medical care while pregnant. And not every woman is a 30 something New Yorker living the Sex In the City lifetyle. There are plenty of women out there who will try to get pregnant on purpose to ‘trap’ a man. It’s a fact of life. So who is to blame in such cases? The man for being fooled, or the woman for lying? Again, is it solely the man’s fault that he trusted a woman? (Don’t make me trot out the Garden of Eden example. :-D JK)

    The Miller and Uley experiments were debunked, as far as I know. I don’t recall the details but I remember being keenly disappointed after researching it further.

    If you go hunting with Dick Cheney, make sure you spot the quail before he does!

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    Easy question. I am passionate about my children and everything, I mean everything, can effects them or could effect them in the future. That’s all of the above then. :)

    Mostly I’m passionate about education, I really think that the benefits of education are ubiquitous, as are the dangers of failing to educate.

  • Jen

    Orgasms.

    Oh, and some other stuff, too.

    I am pro-choice- militantly so, in the sense that I am not going to judge women for their repoductive choices. Their body, their choice, no questions. I am a vegetarian, a college graduate from a Jesuit school devoted to “justice” which is an idea I like very much, even if the school drove me crazy in most ways. I love being in cities. I studied abroad in Rome and would love to return. I would love to go back to London, too. I enjoy being social but I need my alone time or I would go crazy. I don’t believe in life-long monogamy.

    I care about peace, substainable methods of farming, shopping locally, supporting small businesses, and recycling. I am interested in personal finance- I would love to have a cushy retirement. I too hate diamonds, though I love watching Diamonique (a CZ company) on QVC. I also love QVC, though I try not spend any money there.

    I love to read. This week, my library books include a history of pornography, several romance novels, a bunch of personal finance guides, Shakespeare, and book on feminism as it relates to fairy tales.

    I am a feminist, and as such, I care about race issues, human rights, peace, equality, GLBTQ issues, and being pro-choice.

    But I really do love orgasms.

  • K

    I’m mad passionate crazy for sock knitting. I cannot WAIT to finish one and start the next pair. I’m in the middle of knitting some kilt hose for myself full of cables and bobbles and stuff. I made some for the spouse already and they made it through the entire Highland season and a plethora of marching parades (he plays bagpipes in a local band. He and my boy compete at all the Florida Highland games) without a single hole. I think it was the worsted weight instead of the sport weight that I made last year. But that’s a little monotonous. I really like knitting with Regia yarn and watching the color pattern unfold as I go.
    I’m also making a quilt, this time representing spring. I started in January but took time off because the weather is so damn fabulous that I’d rather be out than in. I’ll start back up when the ac is on full time.
    Which brings me to gardening!
    I got a pet rabbit just for the fertilizer! And he’s so cuddly.
    Pigeon peas have sprouted, I’m late in planting those though but the tomatoes are fruiting nicely. We put in a rain barrel and will be adding a couple more. Now hopefully, it will rain. Droughts suck.
    Do you want me to go into my stained glass windows and my wood turning too? I turned this birdhouse that looks like an acorn…

  • http://ethicalfreethought.blogspot.com Will

    Oh man, this is great! Thanks for the question, Mike.

    I have a lot in common with Jeremy (comment #1). I love to cook and recently got into playing classical guitar. I also enjoy a good debate/discussion – a good one, though – not the kind where the debaters simply dismiss things the other has said. My atheism passion is waning as well – but I see that as a good thing. I am less abrasive now and I think I think about being sensitive to others more clearly.

    Other passions include observing and testing human behavior. A good beer with the friends out on the patio talking about what they want to talk about – you learn a lot more this way. Cigarettes and coffee – seriously a passion, I don’t know why. Environmentalism, biking, hiking, canoing are all wrapped up in the same category as well.

  • Spurs Fan

    I would agree with previous posts and say that I am not necessarily passionate about atheism. In fact, in my neck of the woods, skeptics are not common. This blog is actually a decent “support group” for me, especially as a relatively new unbeliever.

    I am very passionate about my Christian wife and two young boys (4 and 3). I love them more than I could even express and I will continue to attend church and church functions with them as long as possible (although I will also continue to have sensitive debates regarding the sermons and continue to struggle through answering questions from my 4-year old about god, knowing my wife will give a different answer).

    As you can imagine (see user name) I’m a basketball fanatic. If I have a religion, it’s the Church of the San Antonio Spurs (CSAS). If you follow the NBA, you’ll realize that this is “season of Pentecost” for me (and right now, the men in black are well on their way to being “raptured” for the second year in a row and the 5th time in 10 years — All hail the trinity of Duncan the father, Ginobilli the prodigal son, and Parker the holy point guard).

    I’m also very passionate about politics. Part of my move into atheism came from my confusion as to why my fellow Christian friends were not liberal hippies. So, pick an issue, and I’m probably quite progressive on it.

    My biggest issue however is education. I work as a high school teacher and a teacher union representative. So, I’m very passionate about supporting teachers as the professionals they are, as well as the students they teach. So many reforms needed, so little time…

    I’m also passionate about: Music (90′s female folk rock/Lilith Fair genre and jazz!), reading (mostly nonfiction, but have read more fiction lately), the TV show The Office, random road trips, popcorn, and films with Daniel Day Lewis (there aren’t many).

    Damn that was long. I guess I like to talk about myself.

  • Milena

    I’m pretty passionate about feminism. I should mention that my idea of feminism includes the fight for equality regardless of gender, race, sexuality, size, socio-economic class, etc. (as in, I don’t limit myself to questions of gender). This summer, I’ll be doing community service at a local francophone women’s shelter.

    I’m also passionate about issues relation to censorship, whether it’s the press, individuals, or art.

    I’m passionate about writing and politics, which is why I chose to study journalism once I enter university next year. I also enjoy a good book. =)

  • sabrina

    The original hypothesis was debunked in the experiments, but they found out lots of interesting facts about the first elements on this planet. Plus, the environment in which the first life forms evolved.
    I don’t think anyone thinks its the always the guys fault his partner got pregnant. I mean it does take two. There are always desperate and manipulative people out there, male and female. Its just a problem when you say “women get pregnant to trap men”, “women get pregnant to get money from welfare”, etc. Thats like me saying, “men always rape women”, “men always beat their wives”, “men always cheat on their wives”, etc. Stereotypes are bad for either gender. Some men may get trapped, others may bring it on themselves. How many times have you heard the story, “I asked him to use a condom, but he said he would pull out”? Theres always two sides. And if someone is in a semi-serious relationship, and the woman ends up pregnant, isn’t it kind of both their faults?
    I don’t really think women have “more” rights then men. Yes, we have a right to our body. Again, sorry you can’t get pregnant. I guess as a man, you have to own that, and take precautions. I always try to have the “what if I get pregnant” discussion before a relationship, but different strokes. Maybe if we had better communication between the sexes, things could be different.
    I don’t know about your law enforcement or fire fighter analogy. My best friend is married to a fire fighter, so I know a lot of them. From what I’ve seen they love the female fire fighters they work with, and see them as equals. I know there are lots of male fire fighters they hate, because they don’t do their fair share. Again, stereotyping is bad for either sex. I’d rather have a bad ass, weight lifting, triathlete female fighter save me, than some guy with a beer gut.

  • Michael

    I’m passionate about games and fun. Not just video games, but also table top games, board games, role playing games, card games, miniature games, LARP, etc..

    In fact, I volunteer time to a organization where I live at called White Tower Gaming. We hold Games Days every so often to get people interested in playing games and meeting other gamers locally. Our goal is to use gaming as a deterrent to deviant behavior, such as gang/gun violence, drug use, alcohol abuse, etc. And also to create friends, relationships, and networks. Gamer groups are pretty tight knit groups. You never really know a person unless you know what D&D class they like best! (Can you say Ninja/Wizard, Hell ya!) I think games are a great way to be competitive and cooperative in a safe environment. Not everyone can make the football team, but everyone can roll a dice or draw a card. But listen to me rant.

    Any ways, check us out at our website. It’s small right now, but I live in W.V. so there aren’t many people around here anyways.

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com April

    I guess you could say that my other passions make my atheism an inevitability.
    I’m passionately pro-choice, and for the equality of all people, and in particular, women and homosexuals. Also, education and opportunities for single parents (as a single mom myself).
    While there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part, women who consider abortion do so because they do not have a sperm donor who is willing or able to live up to the role of parent. As a single parent, I understand that dilemma. However, being pro-choice preceded being a parent. Being a parent only enforces my beliefs that not everyone is fit for the job.

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com April

    I guess you could say that my other passions make my atheism an inevitability.
    I’m passionately pro-choice, and for the equality of all people, and in particular, women and homosexuals. Also, education and opportunities for single parents (as a single mom myself).
    While there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part, women who consider abortion do so because they do not have a sperm donor who is willing or able to live up to the role of parent. As a single parent, I understand that dilemma. However, being pro-choice preceded being a parent. Being a parent only reinforces my beliefs that not everyone is fit for the job.

  • Grimalkin

    Sabrina, you said:

    “there are women who have more children for the express purpose of getting extra money in their welfare subsidies. More children = more $$$.”
    That’s a myth. The government stopped that. I think its after two kids you don’t receive any extra money.

    I don’t know how it works in the States, but here in Ontario, you get about $1500 per child per year. You don’t actually get a check in the mail, either. What you get is credit when you do your taxes – so you have to be earning money to get that and, at the end of the year, you are refunded for what was taken out of your paycheck. Essentially, that money was yours to begin with and now you’re just getting it back.

    Furthermore, I’m sure anyone here with kids can tell you (and Sudo) that it’s pennies when taking care of a child. You could easily blow all of that just on clothes, not to mention food, rent (since you will need a bigger living space to accommodate the extra people), toys, water (more people = more showers, more dishes, etc.), and so forth.

    So yes, you are right. For people not on welfare, having more children for the sake of a paycheck would be idiotic beyond belief. To actually consider that money a profit (rather than just a helping hand that alleviates a little of the financial strain involve in raising a child), you would have to be seriously neglecting your child.

    As for reproduction, women don’t get more rights than men. She gets to decide what goes on in her body, that’s it. Men get the same right. Like Sabrina has said, it’s a shame that fetuses only grow in women, but that doesn’t mean that women have more rights than men. Men have this same right – the right to determine what does or does not take place in their body. If you don’t want to donate a kidney, for example, you have that right.

    As for childcare payments, I do think that men should have the right to opt out before the point where the pregnancy cannot be terminated (they would forfeit all future parental rights and could never be legally asked to pay child support). Beyond that point, however, neither party has any choice in the matter (except for maybe adoption, but I’ll let smarter minds than myself figure that kink out), so it’s fair.

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com April

    Apologies for the double post

  • Sudo

    Hi Sabrina
    You added ‘always’ to your comments, where I did not say ‘always.’ I did not say ‘some,’ although perhaps I should have, but I hoped that it would be implied from the context. I think we’re a bit more in agreement on this than perhaps it first appeared, at least regarding responsibility, but I doubt we shall ever see eye to eye on whether it’s ‘fair.’

    Not every police or fire department requires the same standards as every other deparment. The kind of thing I’m talking about requires men to do X number of pushups, carry X lbs. up a flight of stairs, but requires women to complete only Y (Y=

  • Sudo

    Sorry for the double post, but half of my previous post was omitted for some reason.

    Hi Sabrina
    You added ‘always’ to your comments, where I did not say ‘always.’ I did not say ‘some,’ although perhaps I should have, but I hoped that it would be implied from the context. I think we’re a bit more in agreement on this than perhaps it first appeared, at least regarding responsibility, but I doubt we shall ever see eye to eye on whether it’s ‘fair.’

    Not every police or fire department requires the same standards as every other deparment. The kind of thing I’m talking about requires men to do X number of pushups, carry X lbs. up a flight of stairs, but requires women to complete only Y (Y=

  • Sudo

    Here is the rest of my post:

    (Y=

  • Sudo

    Not sure what’s happening but half of my post continues to be omitted:

    Anyway, you get the gist. Why shouldn’t man who can complete only ‘Y’ in any task also qualify for the job?

    This is also found in entrance exams, where different passing scores are required for people of different ethnicities. The White and Asian applicants, for example, must pass with an 85 to be considered. Hispanics, an 80, and Blacks a 75. Yes, I know, past discrimination, diversity goals, yada yada, but the fact is this is not equal rights. I find that when people say they are ‘for’ equal rights, what they mean is they are for SPECIAL rights for their particular chosen group, not EQUAL rights for all.

    Saying I am for equal rights, then listing all the special sub-groups for whom one wishes ‘equal rights’ seems like another oxymoron to me.

    Finally, some of the commentors here keep saying how dumb it would be for a woman to get pregnant just to trap a man or to receive more child support. I mean, who would do that, right? Trying to say that someone wouldn’t do something because it is ‘dumb’ is ridiculou. Obviously, people do dumb things all the time. The biggest atheist rant of all is how dumb people are to believe in God, yet 90% of the planet believes in some deity or supernatural force or other, so what does that tell you about the probability that some women will get pregnant on purpose or some man will have unprotected sex without thinking of the consequences. Come on.

  • Sudo

    Seems like the latter half of my post continues to be omitted for some reason. Anyway, you get the gist.

    It seems that a discussion about equal rights isn’t always about really striving for ‘equal rights’ but rather special rights for whatever our personal pet cause happens to be.

    I agree with Grimalkin’s comments in the quote below, and feel this is more ‘equal’ than having the father stripped of any rights whatsoever:

    As for childcare payments, I do think that men should have the right to opt out before the point where the pregnancy cannot be terminated (they would forfeit all future parental rights and could never be legally asked to pay child support). Beyond that point, however, neither party has any choice in the matter (except for maybe adoption, but I’ll let smarter minds than myself figure that kink out), so it’s fair.

  • http://likwa.wordpress.com Didi

    Feminism, anti-racism, knitting the best damn retro coat ever, knitting, patient care and my family!!!!!

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com April

    Whether or not people do dumb things is not the point; the question is more about what we legislate, and what we don’t. How much liberty do we allow? How much should the courts interfere? Whose rights should be protected above all others?
    The courts don’t demand child support to reward the moms; they do it in the interest of a child.
    And fear not, there are still plenty of deadbeats running around – my ex-husband being one of them!

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Adrian said:
    “Incidentally, I’m not passionate about atheism. Little would please me more than if I never had to utter the word “atheist” again. Instead, I view the discussion as aberrant branches of physics and politics which I am passionate about.”

    I would like to second that. It’s not atheism I am passionate about it’s not believing in non-sense that I am passionate about. I believe in having all the facts or at least as many as possible before believing something.

    I am passionate about not making sweeping social or political changes by mandate without making damn sure that all the facts are in. This includes going into hobbyist wars on one hand and trying to combat global warming on the other.

    I have lots of passions like food (sushi especially) and good coffee and reading but few things get me going quite like people advocating radical change without any clue what the consequences will be. So many social and political errors have been made because people want change or something new but without weighing history and experience or all of the science or without considering other cultures and norms. We are thinking beings with so much information available and so much recorded history behind us and we seem to, as a species, learn nothing. We cry out against oppression, as we should, but when we win the freedom of the oppressed the newly freed leap at the first opportunity to become the oppressor. We hold up freedom and government by the governed, as we should, but try to deliver it to the people of the world at the point of a sword and then proclaim that their resulting anger is hatred of our freedom.

    I suppose what I am passionate about is thinking.

  • JoshH

    I’m pretty passionate about hiking, backpacking, camping…other outdoor activities like that. I prefer an isolated campsite with nobody else around to an established “comfortable” one. It’s so much more enjoyable when it’s a place you’ve spent a good part of the day traveling to (or it is to me at least :D).

    I also love music. My taste in music would be considered obscure to most people but I don’t consider it to be, though it’s usually stuff you kinda have to look around for. I also treat listening to music as a sit-down act like reading a book or watching a movie. I’ll put a CD or record on and usually listen to the whole album all the way through without any distractions. I don’t play any instruments but I recently bought a keyboard and have been messing around with it a bit :).

  • Josha

    I am passionate about so many things!!

    I love to be politically involved (debates, writing to representatives, speaking out) and issues such as GLBT rights, pro-choice, education, environment and more. Science, especially astronomy, and skepticism. Volunteering with Special Olympics and with children. Rollerblading, biking, surfing, scuba diving. Moral philosophy. Yankees baseball. Comedy. Writing. Reading. Traveling.

  • Darryl

    Mike, you’re an atheist; you just don’t know how to inject the ethical component into it yet. Read Albert Schweitzer.

  • Sudo

    I wholeheartedly apologize to Mr. Mehta and the others here for my long string of what are essentially double posts. Thanks for the conversation.

  • http://www.ineedtothink.com Seavee

    I only post sporadically but I read daily. I would consider myself an atheist. My politics are mostly liberal.

    I am glad Mike asked this question. It gives more information to put your comments in perspective. For instance, I scrolled down to read Jen’s comments first because when I read the comments in other posts I quite frequently agree with her comments and/or find her comments highly amusing. She usually says what I want to say but she says it better so I just think “here here! And “Go Jen!” without actually posting it

    I agree with Jen again. Orgasms are good! She’s a smart girl.

    Sudo:
    I believe in the right to bear arms. I grew up with guns and I don’t feel they are as dangerous as people think. I think that when people are responsible the danger is negligible. I also feel that we have a right to protect ourselves if we feel threatened. I don’t own a handgun myself because I don’t need one and I am a pretty bad shot anyway so the whole world, including me, is safer if I don’t try. I do own a shotgun to keep animals away when necessary (It is loaded with rat shot). I don’t have to aim particularly well for that.

    I am undecided about father’s rights. I do see the problem. However, I don’t know how to handle it and be fair to everyone.

  • Joe G-K

    Is anybody else passionate about human overpopulation? We should be as most of our world’s shared problems are directly or indirectly caused by unlimited population growth on a planet with limited resources.

  • http://www.ineedtothink.com Seavee

    I posted but then I didn’t answer the question!

    I am passionate about ethics. I believe that everyone should be able to think about what they believe. Then I want them to be able to, define, explain and defend it. Then they should damn well follow it. I loathe hypocrisy. My friends sometimes complain that my ideals are too rigid or perhaps to naïve.

    I am passionate about my books. I read a lot. I read any time I have a free moment. I like non-fiction and fiction equally. The Human Stain by Philip Roth is one of my favorites.

    Politically I am passionate about healthcare and education.

    I am passionate about my job. I am a high school teacher. I discovered very early on that as much as my students need education, education alone is not enough. I am a good English teacher. I have all the right test scores and statistics on paper. I teach them the things I am supposed to teach them, but that is not the part of the job that arouses my passion. If I wanted to teach for the intellectual stimulation of analyzing Jonathan Swift (which we read tomorrow), I would teach college.

    I teach because I love the connection I can make with my students. I am passionate about them. I teach the average, every-day, often unnoticed kids. I want them to know that I notice them. They are hungrier for that notice than they are for Jonathan Swift. I want them to have self-expression, creativity and free thinking for at least a short time in their lives.

    I am also passionate about art. I do stained glass, some flame work (that’s new and I still suck), I paint, draw, sew, etc etc etc. I love these things. I love to learn about how things are made. I like everything from welding to weaving pine straw baskets. It is all great.

    There are some other things but those are the big ones

    Oh yeah…. And my 3 cats and my puppy-to-be.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Is this thread only for atheists? Or are non-atheists allowed to comment? ;)

    Anyway, I’m passionate about life in general. I’m passionate about living, breathing, laughing, eating, singing, dancing… all of life, even pain and sorrow. I’m passionate about enjoying and being fully “in” each and every moment. I’m passionate about people and making the person in front of me the most important thing in my life in that moment. I try to model each day after Leo Tolstoy’s short story, Three Questions.

    Oh, and nature. Nature is awesome. Period.

    A subtle chain of countless rings
    The next unto the farthest brings;
    The eye reads omens where it goes,
    And speaks all languages the rose;
    And, striving to be man, the worm
    Mounts through all the spires of form.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    What happened? I wasn’t done writing the comment, not to mention editing, and it posted by itself…. :( Anyway, the poem is by Emerson.

  • Julie

    *Writing

    *Education–I’m a teacher.

    *Environmental issues! I’m on this mission now to let everyone know they can now recycle styrofoam in Los Angeles–it’s true! Put it in the blue bin, people! I’m interested in urban sustainability issues. Yes, Joe G-K, I’m extremely worried about human overpopulation. Even though I am personally adding to it at this very moment.

    I just finished graduate school and I’m about to be a mom, so I can’t really say I get too involved in sustainability causes, beyond doing some reading. But maybe soon.

  • Milena

    Is anybody else passionate about human overpopulation? We should be as most of our world’s shared problems are directly or indirectly caused by unlimited population growth on a planet with limited resources.

    One of the reasons why I’m not planning on having any children. It’s a difficult concept to sell though. Most people just see you as anti-family. There’s a certain short-sightedness about it, because it’s difficult to look beyond one’s own dream-family, to an overpopulated future. People just tell themselves that two or three more kids couldn’t possible make the human race grow substancially, but it adds up overtime.

    I teach because I love the connection I can make with my students. I am passionate about them. I teach the average, every-day, often unnoticed kids. I want them to know that I notice them.

    As a high-school student, I can tell you that this definitely means a lot. =)

  • Julie

    Oh, and when I have money to invest, I always pick socially responsible and environmentally sustainable investments, which is one way to be a sort of passive activist. Less of a return, but I have a clear conscience. I’m passionate about putting my money (when I have it) where my mouth is.

  • http://blackskeptic.wordpress.com blackskeptic

    Ahh, so glad you asked. First, let me say, I love you in a weird, I don’t know you, but I think you’re awesome kind of way, and I enjoy reading your posts on this site. After that’s been said …

    I’m passionate about educating the public about what atheism is (and on a lesser scale, what it isn’t). I look forward to a world where people are judged by their actions, not by ideology (I’m not saying that someone’s ideology shouldn’t be critiqued or praised, but that the person shouldn’t be judged by it). I look forward to a world where being an atheist is not a big deal, and Christians, Muslims, Atheists, etc. can all coexist/comingle peacefully.

    I’m passionate about the evolution of atheism into something deeper and more humanistic (yes, I know that secular humanism exists, but I think that all atheists should be more compassionate, and focus more on our wellbeing, our communities, and less on religious fundamentalists although we can’t just completely ignore them and allow them to take over our lives and our government). I’m passionate about equality for all humans, and for animals. I think that animals need more respect from us. We’re not meant to be here more than they are. We need to share the earth, and if we’re going to kill and eat them, at least do it more humanely. Animals have feelings too. We should put ourselves in their place once in a while.

    I’m passionate about education and healthcare reform because they would help decrease poverty, crime, etc. etc. I’m passionate about making the earth work us, without compromising it. This is my home sweet earth!

    I’m passionate about saving Africa. And by saving, I don’t mean westernizing. I mean helping to raise their overall standard of living (health, education, shelter, economy, peace, etc)… I’m passionate about caring for the poor, and helping to provide sustainability in poor communities and countries.

    I’m passionate about simple living. Living simply. I’m passionate about our spiritual evolution.

    I’m passionate about productions like these: http://www.launchproduction.com/hse/homesweetearth.mp3
    (julia sweeney talking to different scientists on earth day and the lovely jill sobule singing about earth, etc). I love pretty much everything on the Humanist Network News podcast. It’s nice to hear a compassionate, rational voice :) It’s wonderful to think about positive things for a change!

  • Mriana

    Geeze! 93 posts already!

    I’m passionate about animals- esp my own cats, writing, my family, life, Humanism, nature, freedom, equality, education

  • Raghu Mani

    I guess I’ll be echoing a lot of people here if I list the things I am passionate about – which include church-state separation, civil rights, science and science education.

    One thing I am not passionate about is atheism. I don’t define myself by my atheism. As far as I am concerned, it is as significant as my hair (what’s left of it, anyway) being black. I don’t really care to convert anyone and I get along with pretty much anyone who does interfere with my freedom to believe or with the education of my kids. My wife is a deeply religious person and we’ve had a great marriage. I really don’t care if my kids become atheists or not – it matters more that they are happy in their lives and become good, tolerant people.

    On the whole, if it weren’t for the intolerance shown towards atheists by some believers and for the myriad church-state issues that creates, I’d rather not talk about atheism at all. I’d much rather talk about stuff like why American Idol sucks and why Bob Dylan is the greatest singer ever or how come the Brits, for all their stuffiness have the most amazing sense of humor (nothing beats Yes Minister for political satire or PG Wodehouse for humorous fiction or Monty Python for all-round craziness) or how Microsoft managed to make Windows Vista to incredibly bad – all of these are long discussions I have gotten into over the past couple of weeks.

    Raghu

  • Blissful

    Sudo asked if there are any pro-life atheists out there…

    I am pro-life but not involved with any organizations. Do a Google search for pro-life atheists and you’ll find a lot of information.

  • J Myers

    Nihilism… but it’s hopeless.

  • http://www.sexysecularist.com SexySecularist

    I’m passionate about music – it’s what I do and what I plan to do for the rest of my life. Incidentally, I love gospel music and a lot of religious music, and I find one of the most frustrating elements of employment-seeking to be that so many religious groups demand that applicants be devoted christians playing music in the service of God. As if that makes the music “purer” or something.

    Also passionate about free speech, improved sex education, sexual liberation, women’s rights, and everyone getting a better sense of humor.

  • Russell

    my family.

    Nothing else comes close. I’m right there with the idea of being a realist, with atheism as a byproduct.

    On a totally separate issue: the reason rights vis-a-vis childbearing are different is because the biology is different. No way to get around it, at least today.

  • http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/ vjack

    I don’t know that I’d say I’m passionate about atheism as much as I am passionate about science, reason, and reality. These foci have led me to atheism, and I see religion as standing in direct opposition to them. Separation of church and state is very important to me, but so is quality secular education, social justice, the environment, reproductive rights, preventing animal cruelty, and a host of other political issues.

  • Spurs Fan

    One of the reasons why I’m not planning on having any children. It’s a difficult concept to sell though. Most people just see you as anti-family. There’s a certain short-sightedness about it, because it’s difficult to look beyond one’s own dream-family, to an overpopulated future. People just tell themselves that two or three more kids couldn’t possible make the human race grow substancially, but it adds up overtime.

    Milena,

    I must say that you have a very mature point on this. I have two kids, but I definitely don’t blame anyone that doesn’t and applaud them if they make that sacrifice (if you want to call it that) in the name of reducing population growth. No judgement here.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Is anybody else passionate about human overpopulation?

    Oh jeez, yeah. Human overpopulation is the cause of so many other problems! I also have no kids.

  • Euthyphro

    Salvete Amici Mei-

    I must say I am astounded by the minimal number of readers here who are passionate about education, that is education outside of the specific scientific curriculum. Honestly when children are never taught to think properly by the schools or by their parents, where the true responsibility lies, what does it matter what sort of junk they do teach. If the mind is left sterile they may as well teach that a giant monkey created the world last week from monkey butt mud.

    I am passionate about education. Specifically classical education. Voltaire said all he learned in school was Latin and garbage; Clarence Darrow said all he learned was Latin and more garbage. All I learned was garbage. To affirm this take a look at GRE scores by Intended Graduate Study. You’ll hopefully note the concentration of Education Degrees at the bottom and Philosophy and the Humanities at the higher end.

    I am passionate about preserving our intellectual heritage in the west. We have not done enough original study in the last two hundred years to stand on our own and we are slowly but surely chipping away at our foundations. I read multiple comments that put Global Warming above all other problems we face, but what will it matter how hot it gets if civil society crumbles into rubble and chaos.

    I am passionate about Anarchism and Grass Roots Democracy. In the words of Jefferson and repeated by Thoreau, “That which governs least, governs best.” I am neither conservative nor liberal in my politics, at least not in the common connotation of those words in the political landscape of the United States. I neither support Gun Control or Pro-Choice/Pro-Life nor any of the other moot issues brought up in modern political debate. It all misses the point. You cannot expect to fix problems by regulating adults, or for that matter punishing them for their crimes. Thomas More put it best when in Utopia he says that it is ludicrous to raise morally decrepit children and then to punish them when they grow up to be thieves.

    I am not passionate about atheism, but I am passionate about Freethinking, that is thinking without the encumberence of prejudice.

    Nos Libri Sunt!

    Euthyphro

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Part of my move into atheism came from my confusion as to why my fellow Christian friends were not liberal hippies.

    Some of them are. These friends of mine for instance. And these.

  • bernat

    psychology (academics), veganism, conservationism (bicycling and recycling), minimalism.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Euthyphro,

    I am passionate about Freethinking, that is thinking without the encumberence of prejudice.

    Amen to that! But it’s easy to say and hard to practice… even for atheists (in my observation) and, of course, moi.

    I also love Latin and languages in general. Hebrew, Greek, and Chinese are absoulutely fascinating as well! But I like Chinese mostly, because everything is symbolic.. it’s a visually beautiful language. What does Euthyphro mean?

  • http://www.lotusgeek.com Rocky Oliver

    My biggest passion, above all else, is my kids. I have five kids, and have been happily married for 23 years. I spend a great deal of time fighting for education benefits for kids, especially gifted kids (my kids are gifted – two have skipped a grade, and finding meaningful, challenging curriculum that isn’t just “busywork” can be difficult).

    We, as a family, are also very passionate about animals – specifically the overpopulation of dogs/cats. We rescue dogs, and we love animals in general. We have 5 dogs, 3 cats, a turtle, a hamster, a lizard, and a horse. All of the dogs and cats were rescue animals.

    We are concerned about global warming, and tend to get involved in initiatives that help address this mounting problem.

    I also am a skeptic (duh), and spend a lot of time reading about skeptic stuff.

    I have other personal passions – movies, motorcycles, books, computers, and more.

    That’s the top stuff – but it is definitely enough to keep me busy. ;)

    –Rock
    lotusgeek.com

  • PuckishOne

    My puckish passions: Education and literacy (not science specifically, but that’s definitely included). Carl Sagan said it very well when he said that “with [education] comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit.” I believe that this is at the root of many of the issues our society (I’m in the US) faces today and that we need to start here if we hope to get things moving in the right direction for future generations.

    When I’m not boring folks to tears with that, I’m a huge hockey fan and love to read as much as I can about travel, culture, sociology, and science.

  • Maria

    Lyme disease and cfids activism, separation of church and state, humanism, health issues, traveling (when I can), learning about all religions and cultures, helping those less fortunate than me, reading, hockey, football, science, psychology, politics (liberal)

  • Karen

    I love pretty much everything on the Humanist Network News podcast. It’s nice to hear a compassionate, rational voice :) It’s wonderful to think about positive things for a change!

    I love that podcast! One of the highlights of my month. :-)

    how come the Brits, for all their stuffiness have the most amazing sense of humor

    They’re Kiwis, not Brits, but for a similarly hilarious, dry sense of humour ;-) check out Flight of the Conchords some time. It’s an HBO series and I don’t get HBO, but someone gave me the first season on DVD and it is too funny. My teenagers are really loving it too.

  • Emily

    I’m passionate about language. Everything about language and linguistics fascinates me– grammar, syntax, morphology, phonology, speech disorders, i could study linguistics forever and never get bored, ever.

  • Aquaria

    Hey Spurs Fan! I’m in San Antonio, and a Spurs fan, too! Not a rabid one (too busy with my own life to follow closely all the time), but a fan anyway. The first sticker I’ve put on my car in 25 years celebrates last year’s championship.

    I always think it’s funny when theists wonder what we care about, outside of atheism or church/state issues, like our whole lives revolve around it. It’s like saying all Asians are inscrutable and reserved. You know, a real “WTF????” moment. If that’s what being an atheist is about, it’s news to me!

    Anyone who knows me knows one thing: I’m passionate about everything. It’s my defining characteristic. The ironic thing is that I’m passionately rational–if that makes sense. Rationality is what keeps me from being taken in by cults, weirdoes, scams, or creeps. Not that there’s anything wrong with weirdoes. As long as they don’t try get me involved in their form of weird. Observing is good enough for me.

    But the things I’m passionate about: My husband, my child, arts and literature, philosophy, science, history, politics (almost all of the liberal shebang), anime, foreign cultures, noodling on my computer–and so much more. I write for my own amusement, and have done so since I was a child. Taking away my computer, or paper and pens, or books, would be a torture on a par with waterboarding to me!

    Of course the negative of this is that my dislikes are pretty strong, too. But nobody’s perfect.

    Oh: GO SPURS GO!

  • Robin

    Atheism doesn’t define my life, but it’s definitely part of who I am, and I’m passionate about the right to disbelieve. (And to believe, if one wishes.)

    I’m passionate about church/state separation. I don’t want to see a single cross, Star of David, Ten Commandments monument or Christmas display on public property. Ever. Under ANY circumstances. On private property, fine. Put up all the religious stuff you want. Be my guest. But let’s keep the state secular.

    And, obviously, I’m passionate about GLBT rights. In fact, the only arguements I’ve ever heard against them come from a religious perspective. And I think it’s important that the minds of children aren’t polluted against GLBT people by those who have religious bias against us.

    And I’ve recently become a passionate anti-EXPELLED zealot. The dishonesty of this film–on every possible level it’s possible to be dishonest!–should be offensive to everyone on the planet. (Even the folks who believe the drivel Stein and Company have committed to film are being taken advantage of by these unscrupulous, evil people…) Yes, I have become convinced that Ben Stein is actually a profoundly evil man.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    It’s like saying all Asians are inscrutable and reserved.

    What?!?? You mean, they’re not? Hmmm…. :-?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    I’m passionate about
    - my family (wife and kids).
    - philosophy of science
    - understanding human nature
    - experiencing nature
    - conservation
    - sailing

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    Mike,

    I’m passionate about reality-based comprehensive sexuality education.

    Although I’m an atheist, I belong to a church (Unitarian Universalist) that affirms freedom of belief as a core value and is non-creedal. Because of that, my atheism is affirmed along with the other religious beliefs in our congregations.

    We have a series of excellent sexuality education curricula for children, adolescents, and adults that called Our Whole Lives or OWL. More information on OWL can be found here:

    http://www.uua.org/religiouseducation/curricula/ourwhole/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Whole_Lives

    OWL was developed in partnership with secular sexuality educators (Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, etc) and it was also developed in partership with the United Church of Christ (a liberal Christian denomination with historical roots in New England Congregationalism and German Reformed Christianity).

    As an atheist who works in church settings, I think it’s our job to provide salvation from those things that deny life or make life less whole. And sexuality education is one example of this type of salvation. Not only do we save lives, we can also make lives more whole by affirming the goodness of bodies, sexuality, pleasure, etc.

    And OWL is something that is also available to Christians as well — OWL can be offered in secular settings, Unitarian Universalist settings, or Christian settings depending on what supplemental materials are used with the basic secular curriculum.

  • Euthyphro

    Linda-

    Euthyphro is the name of a character in one of Plato’s Dialogues of Socrates. Euthyphro is a poet/seer who is trying his father for the murder of a servant; he meets Socrates of the steps. A dialogue ensues in which Socrates tries to come to the nature of piety. It is the origin of the Euthyphro Dilemma. Wikipedia has a decent article on the Dilemma and the Dialogue.

    Nos Libri Sunt, Quia Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogatitones!

  • http://www.williamely.name/ William Ely

    I have many passions (some say too many):

    -Learning, books (dark fantasy, sci-fi, philosophy, a little science)
    -Blogs (Reading and writing)
    -Music (Heavy metal, celtic folk, new wave, classical)
    -Dogs (big dogs, man’s best friend, always happy to see me)
    -Comic books (yes, I am a nerd)
    -Role playing games (again, nerd)
    -History of Ancient Rome (I have always been fascinated by its impact even on today’s society)
    -Great TV series (Boston Legal, Rome, Deadwood, Penn & Teller, Star Trek to name a few)
    -Movies (action, westerns, sci-fi, fantasy)
    -Collecting vintage video games (eBay sellers love me)
    -Good conversation with friends (I don’t have that many friends, but they are good ones)
    -Sex (However I do not care for long term relationships – too restrictive)
    - Freedom (DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!)

    Atheism is really more of an intellectual pursuit for me. I am only passionate about it when confronted with something that disgusts me. I have been an atheist since I was very young; it just seemed to make sense.


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