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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

E Pluribus Unum vs In God We Trust

I'm in Chicago and doing some vacationing. There are several types of vacationers: mountain vacationers, beach vacationers, hiking through Nepal vacationers. There are also passive vs active types. The former are the relax by the pool folk while the latter are more on the go. I am more of the on the go type since hanging around the pool or beach is (for me) akin to lightly banging my head against the wall for a long time. Not only am I normally a big geek but on vacation I need to be a geek in motion. Ergo, I museum (I can use it as a verb if I want to!) quite a bit - often to the consternation of my long suffering wife.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm actually a rather new reader to your blog, and I'm in a much younger demographic. You know, as I read your blog, I'm realizing that I've been lucky and lived in a very secular community. Now, I'm gonna be taking a trip into the heartland. Any tips?

This is an anonymous question from the Ask Me Anything page. I've been in Chicago on vacation so I'm a wee bit slower to answer than usual (I try to answer on the same day this has been sitting around for two).

The writer, I imagine, is in their teens or college age and has been living in what may be called Civilization. Civilization is a great place to live! People talk about issues intelligently. In Civilization Conservatives may not have to resort to the Bible for government policy tips. Good for them.

I have noticed, however, that people who live in Civilization do not always get how the rest of the the old U S of A works. I have friends in Civilization (Brookline and Cambridge MA for example) who are just not adept at maneuvering the social intricacies in what I call the Provinces or the Outter Rim. I have grown up in and travelled to these dark places and can give some meaningful advice.

Declaration of Religion in Public Life

Hey everyone, I found this on Pharyngula this morning. Recently, there was an international, Atheist run conference named Gods and Politics in Copenhagen. Below is a document concerning a list of principles called the Declaration of Religion in Public Life.

•We recognize the unlimited right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and that freedom to practice one’s religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.


 

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Newest Confession: I'm A RUSH Geek

I was checking my Facebook page when one of my buddies posted about a mind blowing, world changing event...

Rush has finally gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (check it out here).

What? You don't know who Rush is?

Rush are the Patron Saints of white middle class guys from the suburbs - doesn't that sound awesome?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Christianity Is The Worst Religion Ever

It's been over a week and the votes are in for the Worst Religion. There were a total  of 288 votes and the final results are:

Christianity: 31% (89 votes)
Islam: 62% (179 votes)
Judaism: 4% (12 votes)
Hinduism: 1% (4 votes)
Buddhism: 1% (4 votes)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Explanation-Chicago-Tomorrow

Sooo... I haven't posted in two days but the time has not been wasted!

I'm in Chicago with the wife (no kids - left'em locked in the closet at home with water and bread) and have been been busy having fun. Most of my time yesterday (Friday) was spent scouting a location for my next short film. It's really super cool. Why? Robots! Yep, I've got a location with programmable robots and we're going for a Alice In Wonderland meets M.C. Escher vibe.

Tomorrow I plan to post the results and personal opinion to the Worst Religion poll.

I hope everyone has a happy, godless weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What I've Learned Blogging

It's been just over six months since I started Laughing In Purgatory and here are some tidbits I've picked up.
  1. I can crank out material. I've always had the fear that I would wake up one day and not be funny or that the comedic well had run dry. Writing this blog has allayed that fear.
  2. Writing every day is hard. This is not for the undisciplined.
  3. Atheists are a wide assortment of people. D'uh you may say - fair enough. It's interesting that my most vigorous discussions are not with Theists, they are easy to deal with, rather it is with non-God people about morality, responsibility, political action, etc.
  4. Atheist bloggers by and large are fairly decent people. They tolerate my antics and support the variety of ramblings that I call posts.
  5. I never want the Theists to go away completely. Who would I make fun of? Oh wait, I forgot about politicians, lawyers, and BP (I know they won't be in the news forever though I suspect some other company will take their honored spot).
  6. I've learned a lot. It's kinda funny, when you read informative posts some of that information - just by osmosis - sticks in one's head.
  7. My screenwriting has helped my blogging. Screenwriting is about using language economically (maybe not if you are Quentin Tarantino) blogging is similar.
  8. I have become less computer illiterate. Got that? I'm not even close to being computer savvy, but I'm not in the Special-Needs class anymore (and yes I can make that joke because I was in a Special Needs school/pullout classes for a time).
  9. My children are useful for something else beside tax deductions. I've gotten some good material from them.
  10. I need to learn quite a bit more so I can make fun of more people. There's a lot of crazy religions in dem dere hills! I need a map to explore every nook and cranny.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Joss Whedon

Have you every had a lot of respect for an entertainer? You know what I mean, you feel this connection with their work and it's as if you know them. An interview is on TV and you are soooo happy and then it turns out...
they're really into Jesus.

Luckily that did not happen with the REAL God  on Earth - Joss Whedon.

From an 09-Oct-2002 Onion AV Club article titled Is There A God? (click here for link)

The Onion: Is there a God?

Joss Whedon: No.

O: That's it, end of story, no?

JW: Absolutely not. That's a very important and necessary thing to learn.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking Responsiblity


I  have a policy when I get angry - get some sleep, re-address the issue in the morning before I write anything.  Most of the time it works and I wake up with some perspective.

Not this time.

Probably because I'm right.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Carnival Of Progressive Politics

Hey! It has happened again - I was able to convince someone that one of my posts is worth being in a blog carnival. The post is My Jihad Against Traditional Values (I dare say it is one of my funnier ones) and it's in the Carnival of Progressive Politics (click here for the link). This carnival has a lot of ooey-gooey goodness in it!

How Not To Get Screwed (In That Bad Way)

I remember my twenties fairly vividly. It was a time of promise, of college, and a lot of drinking. My long term game plan was fairly fuzzy - get a job, marriage at some point (it's a bit more complicated than that, but I'll leave that for another post), and everything will more or less fall into place.

Pffffft! (My utterance of disdain for my own stupidity.)

I have a buddy, in his early 30's, who's about to have his first child. He was a bit... anxious about the event. I asked him if he had a plan for what happens after the baby is born. A plan about minor stuff like work, schedules, and lifestyle changes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Do you agree with Richard Dawkins that religion is the "root of all evil"?

This is my response to an anonymous question from the Ask Me Anything page.

No, (I'm not aware of that quote) but I'm going to give an answer that Richard Dawkins may agree with.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm wondering what are peoples thoughts concerning these "miracles" that occur (bleeding rocks, extreme healings etc..). I don't believe in any organised religion or there explainations but science can't seem to explain it either??

This is my response to an anonymous question left on the Ask Me Anything page.

Theists want you to believe in miracles. Miracles are the manifestations of God's will on Earth, yet Theists are always willing to say that you shouldn't rely on physical proof to believe in divine power. It is a common human phenomenon called I want my cake and eat it too. I'm going to talk about miraculous healing first and then go onto bleeding "stuff" like rocks, statues, etc.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Letter Concerning Sunday School

I live in Whitman, a town of 14,500 souls and a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Like many suburbs Whitman has a town newspaper. It's a hotbed of social discourse about: budget gaps, the police log, and high school sports. I'm a news junkie of sorts and was reading it when I found this disturbing ad.  It has been shortened so not to cause any eye bleeding or seizures.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mormans And The Moral Blank Check

God needs stuff to get done! In order to get that stuff done...

God wants me to kill you.

But it's OK because God is good and I know this because he told me he is good.

That's pretty crazy - eh?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Which Religion Is The Worst?

It's an interesting question isn't it? I placed a new poll up and you can vote on this burning issue. You can choose one of the five major world faiths (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism). In a week I will do a post with my opinion on which religion is the worst and why.

I've also added a My Movies page where I have posted some (not all) of the short films I wrote/directed. A few are Atheist related, most are funny, and one may be considered disturbing (and funny).

I added this cool rotating globe thingy that shows when people visit the site and where they are from. It's actually part of a  plan devised by the Religious Right to ferret out Atheists so the Mind Control Satellite can be trained on'em. Yes, this does mean I'm a double agent - sorry to break the news.

Of course, feel free to use the Ask Me Anything page to anonymously ask me a question.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Beef With Karma


I've heard this a gazillion times-

He'll get his!

What goes around comes around!

Karma will get her!


Most of the time this sage wisdom is from someone who is angry, annoyed, or generally pissed off. The aggrieved party states that the source of their aggravation (the aggriever?) will suffer for their sins. How? By karma, the universal law of morality (click here for full description). I have heard this kind of sentiment from a wide range of folks from theists to atheists. The theist will explain it as God's will while the atheist will say that it's a Moral Law of the Cosmos akin to the Law of Gravity.

My response?

Nope.

Nada.

Not buying it.

The theist is the easiest to answer: No Evidence of God = No God = No God's Will = No Karma.

Done and done, thank you very much.

Atheists come in a broad range of beliefs. That may come as a surprise for the God people who read this blog (don't laugh there are a few) but it's true. There are atheists who believe in ghosts (Atheist Revolution did a post about this - click here to see it), atheists who believe in ancient alien visitations to Earth, and atheists who are skeptical and follow Carl Sagan's motto: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I am (unsurprisingly) in the last group. The only characteristic one needs to possess to be an atheist is not believing in God or gods.

I have seen nothing that would prove karma exists. You may say, "What about criminals who are in jail? They did something wrong!" Maybe (there are convicted criminals who are innocent), but those are either the criminals who were stupid or just unlucky - of course they are the ones who get caught. There are many, many evil and successful individuals who will die asleep in their beds when they are 90 years old. These are the smart and lucky criminals. There are also the smart and lucky sociopaths in business/politics/everyday life who have manipulated the system and never had to break the law.

Oh, the atheist/karma believer may retort, "The scoundrel will get theirs in the next life," (yes there are Atheists who believe in reincarnation).  However, that seems as likely as the evil going to Hell. It's the same equation minus the God: No Proof = No Reincarnation.

For some atheists this karma stuff is a hold over from their God days. As someone who once was a God guy it took some time for me to wrap my mind around this. Think about it. A theist goes from a Just Universe, even if that justice is delayed until the after life, to a universe where people are responsible for forging justice. Ick. It's like (to paraphrase Lincoln) the bottom falling out of the bucket. It's that bad. Karma is a way to salvage the just universe while getting rid of God. Unfortunately, karma makes as much sense as God.

So what's a person to do?

Control the things you can control,

educate yourself about the important issues,

let your voice be heard.

Because...

this is Purgatory.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Christians Of The Southeastern States Unite!


To all Evangelical Christians living in the Southeastern (Old Confederacy) States of the USA,

I have been noticing a trend for some time. You people get the sh*t end of the stick a lot. The latest in a run of disasters is the oil geyser that is spreading it's petroleum based love all over your shores, into your ecosystems, and eventually into your (and everyone elses') bodies. Let's take a quick look at some of the other ways y'all (if you excuse my use of  your colloquialism) have suffered.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

This I Do Not Believe.

I Do Not Believe:

in fairies,

in Sky Fairies,

that Moses parted the Red Sea,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My New Super-Cool Religion: Numbers!

I want to talk to you today about something very important: numbers. Numbers area everywhere: 8 slices in a pizza, 13 of whatever in a bakers dozen, 12 condoms in a box. Numbers are used in branding a company too: 7-11, Store 24, and the First Bank of any random number of Robber Barons. But do you know who has maximized the marketing potential of numbers? Religion.

The Legion of Catholic Cleanerupper-Men



What? You haven't seen the rest of the series?
Q&A With Catholic Cleanerupper-Man
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man's Original Costume
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man II
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Hugh Laurie


Today is Hugh Laurie's, Atheist extraordinaire, birthday. His thoughts on the Sky Fairy?
"I don't believe in God, but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted he'd take it away." The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 28 October 2007 (thank you NNDB).
Most of you probably know him from the Fox TV show House. However, I came to know Mr. Laurie's work from that classic, high drama that is shown here.




That of course is from Blackadder the Third (Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder) where Hugh Laurie plays the bumbling  Prince Regent George IV.

I was reading through his biography on Wikipedia (click here for it) and I found three items from his life particularly interesting.
  1. His father won a Gold Medal in the 1948 Olympics in coxless pairs rowing.
  2. Hugh Laurie is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, granted to him in 2007. I wonder if there is a problem in any of the colonies his services would be called upon?
  3. I've never seen the Blackadder Christmas Carol. Hmmm... I've got to check that out. 
Regardless, Happy Birthday Hugh!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Q&A with Catholic Cleanerupper-Man


A quote from the interview with the Cathoic "fixer" who silenced those irritating rape victims of priests.
Click here for the article (you will need to listen to the audio for the quote).

Other Catholic Cleanerupper - Man posts:
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man's Original Costume
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man II (the eternal enemies)
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man (the original limited edition post!)

My Guest Post at Common Sense Plus

Hey everyone! I did a guest post over at Common Sense Plus (click here to see it) about sex, drugs, and the time I spent in Vietnam. OK, the post isn't about drugs or Vietnam but it is about sex.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Catholic Cleanerupper-Man's Original Costume


Thanks to Lurker111 for the idea!
Catholic Cleanerupper-Man is based on the Catholic "fixer" who hushed up victims of abuse by priests (click here for the story).

Atheism, Parenting, Karate

"Your boy is pretty smart," I looked up from my magazine with a raised eyebrow. I was at the dojo (karate studio) and waiting for my son, Will.

The Sensei (karate teacher) is a big guy. Height wise we measure up but be has - what do you call it - oh yeah muscle. Lot's of muscle.

"Thanks, what did he do?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catholic Cleanerupper-Man II

Catholic Cleanerupper-Man  is based on the Catholic "fixer" who hushed up abuse cases against priests (click here for the article).
To see Catholic Cleanerupper-Man's first appearance click here

Carnival of the Godless #143

Hey everyone, my post Personal Revelations Of An Atheist got into Carnival of the Godless #143 (click here for the link). I'll admit it, the other pieces are pretty good too!

Also, I've added a page (see above) listing some of my posts on parenting.

Of course, if you want to ask an anonymous question go to the Ask Me Anything page (also above) and click the link.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What advice do you have for an "undeclared" Atheist whose friends and family (minus one other person) are strong Christian (many Catholic) believers?

You've done the smart thing by asking for advice. By formulating a plan you have a better chance of maintaining family/friend relationships.

I don't know how old you are. If you are in high school or in college I advise extreme caution. There are many stories about religious parents cutting off tuition payments because their child is an Atheist. I'm not saying not to "come out" when you're young, but you need to be honest with yourself about what that means financially.

Catholic Cleanerupper-Man

One thing i fear about atheists is that if they could do something wrong/bad, and get away with it (in secret), they would. As for theists, this is impossible as God is the police, omniscient being who knows your darkest, deepest secrets.Any suggestions?

NOTE: This is an anonymous question left on my formspring.me account. To ask a question go to the page Ask Me Anything (above) and click the link.

I think this is a common fear amongst people who don't have Atheist friends. The innate fear of someone who looks or behaves differently is a common problem. That being said, I'm going to talk about my personal life and then get into a study by Gregory S. Paul that I found in the Journal of Religion & Society (all submissions are subject to a blind peer review).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 55th Humanist Symposium

Hey everyone, my post on A Talk About Brain Function With A Five Year Old made it into the 55th Humanist Symposium that is hosted by No Forbidden Questions. The Symposium has a collection of cool posts on a variety of Humanist topics and well worth your time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

God Hates The U.S. Constitution


It's true! God hates the U.S. Constitution. What part does he hate? The Supreme Court? The 15th Amendment that protects a person's right to vote regardless of race (more on that later)? Maybe Prohibition (the18th Amendment), Jesus did turn that water into wine.

Would you say that your atheism is as important to you as someone's religion is important to him/her? (let's imagine a "true believer," not just someone who goes to church on Sundays)

It's an interesting question and one I'm going to be careful about because I don't want to offend Theists. Now you may say that's crazy, Laughing In Purgatory is nothing but offensive to believers. Yes and no, I do talk about the silliness of the Sky Fairy, but that is a critique on the belief of the Sky Fairy and not on the character, per se of the believer. It would be disingenuous for me to automatically say, "My belief in Atheism is more important to me that any "true believer's" belief in their god," because I'm not a mind reader nor can I peer into another person's heart.

Luckily for you, dear reader, there was a time that I was a true believer (and thought about going into the ministry). My mind (as Luther would put it) would "rest on God". I would think about God, pray, and attempt to convert my heathen friends. I was troubled that I would go to Hell because of playing Dungeons and Dragons. I was in deep. Comparing my current Atheist state of mind with my religiousy past is easy.

Yes, Atheism is just as important to me now as Christianity was back in the day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are The Gays Planning To Get Rid Of Us All?

I was on the blog, Atheist Revolution the other day and read this.
Don't you just love it when the news media runs one of those sensationalistic headlines containing an obviously false statement with a question mark at the end to absolve themselves of responsibility?

How can I get apathetic atheists to get up and do something atheistic?

I am guessing that the person asking the question is referring to locally organizing Atheists. There are a variety of national organizations (the Humanist Society and Freedom From Religion Foundation are two) that a person can join and support. However, getting things done in your town or city poses problems.

Getting people motivated and organized is a common issue. There is a dynamic where 20% of the individuals in any group (whether it's a church, fraternity, environmental group, etc.) will do 80% of the work. The trick, at the early stages of community activism (that is what you are doing by the way), is to find a few people who are motivated and willing to do work. This core group does not need to be large at first (even 2 would be OK). You can find other Atheists through a variety of online forums and Atheist sites. Once you find your motivated core group the work goes to the next stage.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Jihad Against Traditional Values

I have had it! Every once in a while a word or a phrase gets to be so irritating I need to take action. I am officially launching Jihad against Traditional Values. The last catch phrase I had to get rid of was, "You're drinking the Kool-Aid" (see my post about it here). But that was different. Traditional Values has become an uber-bad phrase and it needs to be put down. Now.

Blog Update

I quick review of some of the new features on the blog.

Feel free to use the Ask Me Anything page (above) to ask a question anonymously.

I've also added a Search this blog feature. It's pretty useful.

I'm also offering a 50% discount off my free Services I Provide (see the page above) for those who sign up for an Email Subscription. Just put your email in the Get Purgatory In Your Email box on the right hand side of the blog.

Ted Haggard, He Takes A Lick'n And Keeps On...

Quiz of the day! Can you guess which video was made before the gay sex scandal of the righteous Reverend Ted Haggard?










What I'm happy about is that Ted has been made into a heterosexual. Praise God!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What if you're wrong about your atheism?

A good question!
This could be a really looooong answer, but I'm going to boil it down.

I could be wrong. There. That's that. See ya later.

But seriously, the only way we have to make decisions is to place your money on the best bet. If you were in a casino and wanted to make some money, your wagers would reflect (hopefully) the best odds of winning. Oh sure, people say they "know" stuff about God, but ultimately that statement is based on a feeling (see my recent post on the problems of making decisions on feeling and personal revelation).

Well, the Theists will argue, you can't prove there isn't a God. My response has been traditionally something like, "Look, I'm not the one making the outrageous statements like: the world was made in 6 days, a world wide flood occurred, or a man died and was brought back from the dead. When you make statements like that you have to back them up with proof. I could tell you the world was made by Magikal Green Hamsters and you would raise an eyebrow and say prove it."

For the sake of argument let's say there is a God. Which god should I go with? I was brought up Baptist but I think it would be arrogant of me to assume the Christian God is automatically the One. What criteria should I use to judge one god against the other? Popularity? Nifty accessories?

Ultimately, I can live my life morally without a god looking over my shoulder. My big secret? I try not to be a dick to other people. That seems to cover a lot of bases.

Ask me anything

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Personal Revelations Of An Atheist

You hear a lot of theists talk about receiving a revelation from God. I just saw a preacher use it the other day on TV while watching TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network). He was talking about  Biblical prophecy (of course) and the soon to be Rapture and Second Coming of Christ. Now he was an old guy and had been predicting the imminent end of the world for most of his adult life. What makes him right this time? Why is the Kingdom of God really, really going to be here soon?

Ask Me Anything!

I just signed up for a formspring.me account. This will allow you to anonymously ask me a question and I will answer it on the blog. Is this a good idea? Have I really thought this through? It may be the caffeine speaking, but who cares! If nothing else this should be fun.

To ask your question click here:  http://formspring.me/AndrewSHall
 
Do I have to say it? I'll show some judgment about which questions to answer. No, I will not tell you where I hid the bodies or the codes to launch a nuclear strike. Sorry.

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