Every week I’m gonna highlight some of the people in this movement who deserve more recognition. They may not have the name recognition of Dave Silverman or PZ Myers, but the work they do is just as important.
1. Guy P. Harrison
Whenever people think about books dealing with atheism, they tend to think of The God Delusion or The End of Faith. Those books have merit to be sure, but when someone asks me for a recommendation, those aren’t the ones that come to mind. Rather, I think of Guy P. Harrison’s books. In 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God Guy doesn’t go into the ontological argument, C.S Lewis apologetics or anything like that. Because those aren’t what lead people to believe in God, but are rather explanations after the fact. If you want to get into the meat of why people actually believe in gods–and also why those reasons aren’t particularly compelling–you have to read 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God. Guy demonstrates in plainspoken language why a basic understanding of logic and scientific literacy is all that’s necessary to really understand religious truth claims. If you want to go beyond theism, be sure to check out Guy’s book dealing with a wider range of topics, 50 Popular Beliefs People Think Are True.
2. Andrew Ti
Andrew Ti is a comic genius. He runs the Tumblr, Yo, Is This Racist?. The premise for the site is that people can ask a man with no qualifications whatsoever a question about whether or not something is racist. Usually the answer is yes.
The skeptic community deals with very big and complex ideas on a regular basis, and as a result we tend to be more than a little verbose. But sometimes the point can be conveyed very simply.
You can also check out his dating advice at Yo, Should I Dump This Asshole?
3. Beth Presswood
Beth Presswood is a board member for The Atheist Community of Austin, and occasional host of The Atheist Experience and The Non-Prophets. Beth got started with activism in college when she started The Atheist and Freethought Club of ETSU and the blog Atheist Girls. In 2011 she started a spinoff podcast of The Atheist Experience, Godless Bitches. With Lynnea Glasser, Jen Peeples and Tracie Harris, Beth addresses issues dealing with the intersection of atheism and feminism. It’s one thing to talk in the abstract about religion causing harm, but Beth shows you enraging cases of actual harm being done. Follow her on Facebook and you’ll see a flurry of posts about what the anti-choice, anti-woman religious organizations are up to. Beth does an excellent job of demonstrating that atheists are angry for very good reasons and that if you aren’t already, you should be up in arms about religious bullies infringing on the rights of others.
4. George Hrab
If you’ve been to The Amazing Meeting or Dragon*Con, you’ve probably seen George Hrab and know how awesome he is. If you don’t get to make it to the big conventions, you owe it to yourself to check out his podcast.
On the Geologic Podcast George shares stories as a professional musician with the Philadelphia Funk Authority, interesting science news, sketch comedy, and a ton of other segments. My favorite recurring bit is “The Religious Moron of the Week.”
George manages to be comical, insightful and then almost out of nowhere hit you with something powerful that brings a tear to your eye. It would be very difficult to find someone more earnest in this movement.
5. Rebecca Hensler
We are told repeatedly that religion is necessary even if it’s false because of the comfort it gives when we experience the loss of someone we love. Sometimes the truth can be a very tough sell, particularly when we’re hurting. One of the people willing to take on that challenge is Rebecca Hensler. Rebecca started Grief Beyond Belief in 2011. Grief Beyond Belief serves as a community for mourning non-believers who seek solace without the intrusion of mythology. This was a niche that was begging to be filled, and once that happened it received the support of the atheist blogosphere and podcasts. Very quickly the group reached a critical mass with tons of atheists pouring in to share their pain and their support. You can help Rebecca by joining the page to help other people with their loss and telling non-theists about the group when they lose someone. Or if you’re willing to really go the extra mile, Rebecca could use help building a directory of resources including secular grief counselors and therapists, secular grief support groups, and secular funeral officiants–or even religious counterparts willing to do their work without the religious aspect.
Rebecca saw a problem–a difficult one–and rather than kick the can down the road she got up and did what was needed to get it done. We need more people like her in the movement. If you’d like to hear more about Grief Beyond Belief Rebecca will be giving a talk at the Sacramento Freethought Day on October 6th.
That’s all for this week. If you have someone you’d like me to mention, just send me an email telling me who they are, what they do and how to contact them at geekysteven at gmail.
I write a lot of jokes. Some of them are in this book.
I also host the podcast of the Skepchick events team, Some Assembly Required, and cohost the WWJTD Podcast.
You can also follow me on Facebook or that bird thing.