Why do I post about atheism so much?

My father has written another good one.

Some time ago, my good friend Kevin asked “Why do you post about atheism all the time?”

Valid question. I have pondered it at length.  So, for my theist facebook friends, here is why.

Atheists are stigmatized in our culture. A great many people who contribute to that stigmatization do not realize that not only do they know some atheists, but that they have found them to be perfectly acceptable human beings.  Until these good people are made aware of the atheists around them who are indistinguishable from every other good person,they may buy into and promulgate the existing institutionalized stigmatization.

In short, if you know me and like me, then let me inform you I am an atheist, and I am still that very same person whom you knew and liked.  Informing you of my lack of belief does not suddenly outfit me with horns, a forked tail, and a pitchfork. Until we come out of the closet as individual atheists, we will continue to be stigmatized and marginalized as a group.

The second reason is that I am a very strong supporter of the Constitutional separation of church and state which is under nonstop attack by theists.  I suppose I could fight that without declaring my atheism; however, it is simpler to self-identify as one of the groups the Christian Taliban is wanting to use the government to marginalize into second-class citizenry.

Make no mistake:  there is a radical religious right that is determined to turn us into a theocracy.  Their ongoing goal is to use our government as a proselytizing, indoctrination,  and enforcement arm for their narrow minded version of religion.

The third reason is that, frankly, I am annoyed by gullibility, ignorance, stupidity, propaganda, falsehoods, poor logic, and bad arguments.  I am disgusted with people who don’t know  jack shit about science demanding to determine what is taught as science. I am sick of people wanting to force their Iron Age morals onto everyone, despite mountains of studies and evidence that show them to be wrong. I think it is pathetic that people use religion to marginalize entire classes of people based on gender, sexual orientation, and color.

Some other reasons:

In the entire history of Congress, there has only been one avowed atheist, Pete Stark.  We are not represented and will not be represented until we speak out.

Because it took until 1961 for atheists to be guaranteed the right to serve on juries, testify in court, or hold public office in every state in the country.

Because religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful.  Its very nature compels the believer to proselytize, preach, promote, convince, convert and prevail.

Because the idea that skepticism and questioning are the same as cynicism, nihilism, and despair.

Because I can, and the only punishment thus far is societal, not legal…..at least for the present.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1468751142 Kevin

    Gee, I wonder if I declared myself to be an atheist if I could get out of jury duty next Wednesday? There’s a benefit!

    Seriously though, nice post. I’ll only offer a slight amendment — they’re Bronze Age morals. The Israelite god could not defeat chariots of iron, clearly demonstrating that they did not have iron-making technology. Oh sure, other societies were Iron Age, but since it was a military technology, it wasn’t widely shared and the adoption worldwide came in fits and starts. There was overlap between Bronze and Iron age societies. The society with all the weird rules about sex, hair, food, and penises was Bronze Age.

  • Brownian

    Man, I wish I had a dad who wasn’t a douche. Good on Mr. Eberhard.

    • Mike

      He did a good job of summarizing many atheists frustrations with religion and its societal consequences. I hope that the mentality that we need to be open and honest with people about our conclusions becomes more the norm and less the exception. Good on your father!

  • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com TCC (fka The Christian Cynic)

    I hate this question. Even when I was a Christian, I could easily understand why atheists write about atheism and religion. The question is equivalent to “Why do black writers write so much about race?” or “Why do gay/lesbian/trans/etc. writers write so much about LGBT issues?” or “Why do female writers write so much about gender?” The answer to those questions should be absolutely obvious: because those are issues near to them by virtue of their identity.

    By the way, posts like your father’s (inadvertently) continue to make me feel guilty for the fact that I haven’t come out as an atheist. (I swear, I’m working on it!) It’s not easy to take the risk that people will irrationally changing their opinion of you because of what should be an inconsequential belief (or lack thereof), although I think I agree that it is beneficial for the public perception of atheism to have people you know be open about it. It just seems like one of those “easier than done” sort of issues.

  • Mark

    “In short, if you know me and like me, then let me inform you I am an atheist, and I am still that very same person whom you knew and liked.”

    God does not judge based on how many likes you get. The point should not be to get you to act a certain way, but to point out that no one (including you) can measure up to God’s standard.

    “I am disgusted with people who don’t know jack shit about science demanding to determine what is taught as science.”

    Why? Why should scientists have any more say in how a public institution is run than anyone else unless they are elected as a representative? We are NOT a technocracy but a democratic republic.

    • Katie Tims

      Do you like it when people who have never opened a bible try and tell you what the right way to please your god is?

      • Mark

        Not sure of the relevance of your question. Spell it out for me.

        • Katie Tims

          Mark: What you’re suggesting is tantamount to the same thing- someone who hasn’t studied a discipline demanding the right to say what in the discipline is of use to future disciples, or even what counts as valid.

          If you want something else taught in schools, go you. Work on that- that’s what school councils and principles and teachers DO. That does NOT give you the right to teach anything about science as if you were an expert, any more than you would have the right to teach construction as cooking. Elected officials have nothing to do with science, and have no right declaring what science is/is not- it’s a slap in the face to every doctor, engineer, chemist, astronomer, etc. If you don’t want to teach science, fine, but anyone that teaches nonscience as science is an insult to the entire disciple and is why the United States is a joke in so many scientific disciples. Doing so is fraud and lying, which I’m sure you agree is wrong.

    • John Phillips, FCD

      Is this the same god whose ‘high standards’ allow him to off most of mankind anytime he gets a hissy fit for things that are ultimately his own responsibility and by his own ‘design’. Wicked bit of cognitive dissonance you got going there Mark. You can stuff that mythical god of yours where the sun don’t shine, as secular society beats god’s so called morality hands down every time.

      • Mark

        The wages of sin is death. My God would be justified in “offing” all of mankind, but He has shown an immense amount of mercy allowing us each an opportunity to accept His offer to restore the relationship.

        • baal

          oh goody, a “shoot the bunny” argument. BTW, it’s immoral to use the argument.

          If you’re not familiar with the term, google it +southpark. The bus driver wants the kids to shut up so she pulls a rabbit and a handgun out. Then she proclaims, “if you don’t shut up, you’ll have forced me to shoot-the-bunny.”

        • http://justdfacsmaam.wordpress.com MarkNS

          “He has shown an immense amount of mercy allowing us each an opportunity to accept His offer to restore the relationship.”
          How exactly does your god convey this “opportunity” to a starving Islamic Somali child who dies at 18 months old? Your claptrap smacks of privilege and narcissism. “I have this good life…god must be awesome! Oh, those OTHERS…they must not have enough faith or have the wrong faith”.

        • Sam C

          Oh wow, if your god is so great, wouldn’t he be even more powerful if he actually existed?

          There is not one iota of evidence to support your crazy statements – the world is clearly irrational and unfair, and nothing remotely like your juvenile conception of Superman-made-God exists.

          It’s time to grow up and stop hanging onto childish stories from the deep and distant past, stories that have retained their magic because they make believers soft in the head and provide a rationale for powerful people to bully others.

    • John Eberhard

      “God does not judge based on how many likes you get.”
      There is no god except for Pikkiwokki, the Padua New Guinean Mud God who promises his followers a pig and all of the coconuts they can carry. How many likes I get is very important to him.

      “Why? Why should scientists have any more say in how a public institution is run than anyone else unless they are elected as a representative?”
      Do you also ask why aeronautical engineers should be the ones to design aircraft? You go ahead and try to fly in aircraft designed by elected representatives. I’ll pass, thank you. Should medical doctors decide how medicine is to be practiced in public hospitals, or elected representatives? You get your heart surgery from an elected representative, I’ll take mine from a knowledgeable surgeon, thank you very much.

      Seriously, who do you suggest be charged with deciding what is proper English, to be taught in English classes? Would it be an elected someone who doesn’t know anything about it but may be very well versed in Farsi? Would you have an illiterate decide what is to be taught in Literature classes because he was elected?

      Science is neither a democracy nor a popularity contest. I’m surprised to find someone who didn’t know that.

      • Mark

        A pig and a coconut are nice and I sure wouldn’t mind having a set, but the LORD of Lords seems to have a better offer. That offer is open to you as well!

        You make it sound as if the field of science is incompatible with our form of government. Maybe there ought to be a separation. Maybe schools are something that should not be publicly funded.

        • NotAProphet

          Mark, can you please answer the question: Do you think a botanist should be able to determine what is taught as math, purely because they are elected? I’d like to credit you with some intelligence and believe that you are being wilfully obtuse, rather than too dim to get the point here, please show me that my faith in you is not misplaced.

        • Ubi Dubium

          Your lord of lords offers an eternity of telling him what a great guy he is for torturing most of my friends and family forever. I’ll pass.

          My god offers a beer volcano and a stripper factory. No contest there!

          Considering how horrible your god’s idea of an eternal reward is, I’d take the coconuts from Pikkiwokki any day.

      • Rrr

        John E, I guess Mark doesn’t have a total grasp of simple arithmetic (beyond counting to one coconut) nor very good reading comprehension. Maybe that’s why he is so much against quality control over education and so much for a private grip on all US schools; that way he’ll stand out even less like a sore thumb after a generation or … wait, what comes after one?

        • Rrr

          Oh btw John, I guess you mean Papua New Guinea? Padua is in Italy. slup of the thumb perhaoops?

      • ‘Tis Himself, OM

        I was a government bureaucrat for a good number of years. When the elected officials wanted expert advice on the laws they were considering,* they often called people like me to look at the proposed laws and give our opinions. Sometimes legislators will call outside experts to give opinions, but usually experts of some form are called upon to advise on bills.

        Certain legislators made a point of not referring laws to the experts. I was once before a Congressional subcommittee being grilled about a policy my department had. I pointed out that a certain law required us to have that policy, even though it was suboptimal. I refrained from mentioning that particular congresscritter was a sponsor of that law.

    • Andrew B.

      Yes! Thank you soooo much I agree completely. And another thing: why should airline pilots be the ONLY ones that get to fly the airplane? Why not give random passengers a try, too? Damn elitist airline pilots and their precious “flight experience” and “training.” Why shouldn’t my opinion count, too?

      • Mark

        Airlines are not directly owned by the government. It is also not a government requirement that you ride an airplane. You can probably go to a local flight school and do some actual flying yourself today. I know people who have done that. Your opinion does count! Look for a candidate that holds your views on piloting aircraft and vote for them in the next election.

        • Rrr

          Opinions vary, of course. But most people should be able to agree that it would be a Bad Thing to let anyone run around in aircraft without any training or supervision, and also many would agree that the reasonable way is to let government govern and regulate such things. Nobody wants planes to fall out of the sky, maybe into their homes (even though accidents happen, like in San Diego a couple of years ago when a jettisoned warplane with engine problems plunged into a suburban house, killing the kids who lived there and their babysitting Granny).

          Where was God’s hand in that cockpit? Too busy counting coconuts?

          • Mark

            No one said anything about flying without training or supervision. I said, “You can probably go to a local flight SCHOOL and do some actual flying yourself today.” “School” usually implies training and supervision, but I may have assumed too much in inferring this.

          • Rrr

            Apologies, I probably should have said insufficient training or supervision. The tragic incident I was referring to is this: Officials: 3 dead after military jet crash – CNN A grandmother, mother and her child died when a military fighter jet crashed into a house in San Diego Monday, igniting a huge fireball,
            My own theory, which is mine, is that the pilot did not possess enough insight into basic physics to understand that while he had set the auto-pilot on a safe course to crash beyond populated areas, the upward acceleration of himself plus seat etc by catapult resulted in a downward acceleration of the headless aircraft, which sent it crashing right into an inhabited building, killing its inhabitants.
            Now, if this conjecture is true and if he had had those insights in mechanics, as well as the cool head to count it right before ejecting, perhaps by virtue of a proper science course in school, perhaps he could have avoided this conflagration as he intended.
            Again, why wasn’t your God keeping his hand on that joystick?

          • Mark

            A military fighter pilot is government trained and educated, correct? I do not try to divine God’s purpose for an incident for which I have very little detail, as His ways are higher than my ways.

          • Rrr

            According to Wiki, the San Diego F-18 crash on Dec 8, 2008 occurred after one engine failed and the other one had insufficient thrust to accomplish a safe approach. The second engine had run 146 flights after a fuel fault had been reported but not yet repaired. Also, there were numerous mistakes in air traffic control, including the choice of emergency landing site. Several people were disciplined after the unfortunate incident.
            Accidents are mostly caused by a chain of multiple factors. All the weak links of this chain were arguably the result of too little expertise, not enough oversight and training, insufficient understanding of events, processes and procedures and an overabundance of trust in Someone Else, Fate or maybe a Higher Power. And most if not all of them could have been strengthened by proper basic education, training and application of duty.
            People do tend to get sloppy; more so when they do not understand the reason for, importance or mechanics of what they are supposed to be doing. It really irks me that such attitudes are seeping into the very fabric of education. One important parameter in that slippery creep into substandardism is the constant, malignant interference of the extremely religious, i.a. with education; not to mention many other important aspects of public life. It’s popular stupidity and ignorance that keeps them afloat. This worries me, but there is not much I can do to get smarter people elected — as a non-US citizen I can’t vote and I am not eligible for any office.
            Please help keep the worst nincompoops out of reach of the Doomsday button.

    • Zinc Avenger

      Don’t you think science lessons should be determined by a scientific basis?

      Do you think botanists should have equal say in determining a math curriculum?

      Perhaps French teachers should write the geography curriculum.

      Or maybe those who are experts in a field ought to carry more weight when designing a curriculum.

      • Mark

        You may have misunderstood me. I said, “Why should scientists have any more say in how a public institution is run than anyone else unless they are elected as a representative?” If a school cannot operate consistent with a democratically elected representative government, maybe it should not be a public institution.

        • Zinc Avenger

          So we should democratically elect math teachers?

        • Rrr

          Mark, maybe I also misunderstood you. If you are saying that the problem is that there are school boards (more or less democratically elected) which poke their uneducated fingers into details of school curricula of which they have not a shadow of a clue, like what kind of science is to be taught, we may well be in agreement after all. Just as long as religion is kept separate from public schools! That does not mean anyone is prevented from practicing any religion (or none) — as long as it is done privately, without state involvement in any shape or form.

          This latter part appears to be the hardest thing to get for a lot of USAsians, no matter how fervently, even violently, they protest their allegiance to their Constitution.

          That is probably what I find the most exasperating, and astonishing.

          • Mark

            I think you are headed in the right direction. I am saying that it is the school board’s (elected) responsibility to direct hiring and school curriculum. The onus is on the public (you and me) to elect school board members who seem to them, most qualified to do the job . . . and, if a scientist, you, or me feels he/she should have greater input into the curriculum, he/she should put his ideas on the open market by running for the position himself/herself. If the school board is one with “uneducated fingers” it is the fault of those who could have presented an alternative candidate, or those who voted for the unqualified member.

          • Katie Tims

            Mark, I was under the impression that private schools are the ones with the most leeway in creating school curricula. Public schools have to (at least loosely) follow a national set of criteria or the government cuts off funding. The officials in charge of this process refer to expert opinion when updating these national curricula and the standardized testing used to judge schools. Am I incorrect here?

    • Mike D

      We are NOT a technocracy


      but a democratic republic.

      TRU… wait… USA, right? We are in fact a Constitutional Republic and not a Democratic Republic.

      If we were a Democratic Republic, then yes, the majority would have the right to govern the minority and force their beliefs on them. Christianity, specifically the Anglican or Episcopalian church, would have been the law of the land and we could all speculate on where that may or may not have led us.

      However, our founding fathers, aware of the dangers of a majority rule and the awful tyranny of religion, had a fantastic idea. They used the very first stipulation in the very first amendment to bar our government from endorsing any religions. And thus, the nation was forever a secular nation.(hooray!, yea!, woo!)

      The End!

      I didn’t actually know this until fairly recently. I hear a lot of people make the mistake and I can’t help but think we were incorrectly taught this in school at some point.
      The more you know!

  • Larry

    I’m saving your Dads posts. This is a great one. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, no damn wonder you’re so good at it. We should all be so lucky. In a way we are, historic history before your eyes folks, lifes are changed by wise essays.

  • http://cookiescholar.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    “Because the idea that skepticism and questioning are the same as cynicism, nihilism, and despair.”
    makes me thunk thunk thunk

    Marginalization, recognition of the quest for power… hmm. thunk thunk thunk.

    My wish is that from here a point of common ground and understanding could be had. *sigh* We humans are a silly lot.

    Bottom line: The apple doesn’t fall TOO terribly far from the tree. ;)

  • Anonymous

    I have asked myself the same question and I couldn’t agree more. I would add one more thing and that is that we know the main reason of the prevalence of religion in our society today. It is due to the indoctrination of children. Dawkins calls this tantamount to child abusive and I agree. Openly declaring our atheism can act as a lifeline to believers that are smart enough to think for themseles but have been essentially shut out from contemplating these ideas. So many religious people have been completely surrounded by other religious people and have never even known any atheists. I meet people all the time that simply assume god exists because everyone they know has alway made that same assertion. They associate doubt with weakness and assume non belief is the mark of the devil. By simply standing up and making our presence known, we can throw some of these theists a lifeline. By showinghat atheists are not devil worshipers and can be moral human beings and that there is no evidence to justify their beliefs, maybe just maybe we can open some minds.