life religion

What Religion?

Yesterday in class I had a twelfth-grade student ask me if I was a christian? Taken aback by this loaded topic, I took a moment to reply.

I stammered — “No, I’m not a christian.”

“Then what religion are you?” he persisted.

I found myself recalling this quotation by Douglas Adams:

“I really do not believe that there is a god — in fact I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. It’s easier to say that I am a radical Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously.”

As regular readers know, I too have thought a great deal about it, and it’s an opinion I hold seriously, nevertheless instead of proudly declaring my radical atheism I quietly hedged, “I’m less religious,” (whatever that is suppose to mean).

Although I’m still surprised that he would actually ask such a personal question, I think I understand where it came from. The student interogator presented a distinctly muslim appearance and we had just watched a documentary about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. The film, called Israel – Birth of a Nation, though balanced, covers the most heated conflict of the twentieth century and there is a heuristic convenience in knowing which religion those around you subscribe. I suspect he wanted to pre-determine my perspective on the conflict but my non-religious status defused any oncoming discussion in utero.

And that was it.

He dropped it and asked some other students what their beliefs were but as other students watched me, each doing their own mental analysis of the scene, I pondered why I couldn’t be the proud atheist role model I wanted to be?1 It’s unusual to talk about ones beliefs in a public school setting but since it came up, I wanted students to know that the perfectly happy, healthy, well-adjusted non-believing teacher in front of them practices what he preaches with regard to the importance of critical thinking.

  1. I wonder if the recent stabbing of a teacher in France just five days ago by an Islamic terrorist had me feeling reticent. I feel silly admitting my thought process but the chilling effect of such ideological murders is real. []

Why Are They So…

What people search for says a lot about the collective perspectives on things.

It’s worth noting that these results came from and are created via what people are searching for, not necessarily what any one group is actually like.

(Inspired via)


What If God Disappeared?

What would life look like if there were no god?

[What if God Disappeared – YouTube]



The BeliefOMatic matches your stated beliefs with a corresponding set of beliefs.

Even if YOU don’t know what faith you are, Belief-O-Maticâ„¢ knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic will tell you what religion (if any) you practice or ought to consider practicing.

My top three were:

  1. Secular Humanism (100%)
  2. Unitarian Universalism (90%)
  3. Nontheist (85%)

I took it before and had a higher “Non-theist” score, but this time I answered some of the questions based on what I thought was right, instead of marking them all “not applicable”.


Thank Goodness

Thank Goodness” is quality essay about being thankful from the perspective of philosopher and atheist Dan Dennet after he suffered a “dissection of the aorta”—the lining of the main output vessel carrying blood from his heart had been torn up.

[W]hereas religions may serve a benign purpose by letting many people feel comfortable with the level of morality they themselves can attain, no religion holds its members to the high standards of moral responsibility that the secular world of science and medicine does! And I’m not just talking about the standards ‘at the top’—among the surgeons and doctors who make life or death decisions every day. I’m talking about the standards of conscientiousness endorsed by the lab technicians and meal preparers, too. This tradition puts its faith in the unlimited application of reason and empirical inquiry, checking and re-checking, and getting in the habit of asking “What if I’m wrong?” Appeals to faith or membership are never tolerated. Imagine the reception a scientist would get if he tried to suggest that others couldn’t replicate his results because they just didn’t share the faith of the people in his lab! And, to return to my main point, it is the goodness of this tradition of reason and open inquiry that I thank for my being alive today.


The Four Horsemen of Atheism

Last September, four of the world’s most famous sceptics, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens gathered together for a first-of-its-kind, unmoderated 2-hour discussion on religion, belief, and scepticism.

Part 1, running time 41 min.
Part 2, running time 1 hour.
(Via Smashing Telly)

documentary religion


After several setbacks (including the Writer’s Strike) comedian Bill Maher’s new documentary, Religulous, will be released in theatres October 3rd, 2008. Known for his stance against religion, Bill Maher’s views on the various world religions are explored as he travels to numerous religious destinations, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican, and even Salt Lake City. He interviews believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups, including Jews for Jesus, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, Hasidic scholars and even Rael of the Raelian Movement.

Religulous Movie Poster

From a Variety story on Religulous:

Explaining his impetus to make the film, Maher said: “I wanted to make a documentary, and I wanted it to be funny. In fact, since there is nothing more ridiculous than the ancient mythological stories that live on as today’s religions, this movie would try to be a real knee-slapper. Unless, of course, you’re religious; then you might not like it.”

A trailer for Religulous, is online at Apple. (Also on YouTube)


Atheist Professor at Virginia Tech

An atheist professor at Virginia Tech responds to the statement that in the aftermath of the recent killings atheists are no where to be found and can offer nothing to those grieving.

humor religion

Mr. Deity

Mr. Deity is a clever video series that, to some, might explain why God acts the way he does. I particularly liked episodes 2 and 4.


The Rough History of Disbelief

In the “History of Disbelief”, Jonathan Miller goes on a journey exploring the origins of his own lack of belief and uncovering the hidden story of atheism. From the BBC here are all three parts:

The history of disbelief continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a “thought disorder”. He also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century.