[first posted Tue 08/18/09; resurrected six years later]

LuckyDog died a week ago today. Soon, it will have been a month ago, then a year [,then six]. One day, he will have been dead longer than he lived. So it is for each of us.

I’ve categorized Lucky’s blog entries under “The Atheist’s Pulpit.” I created that category years ago to collect entries pertaining to my thoughts about life and death and what, for other people, are religious experiences.

I do not believe there is or ever was a god. I know, you got that from “atheist,” but I say it more emphatically because I never hear anyone else say it so baldly. I used to call myself an agnostic and, then, an antagnostic (one who is irritated by the belief in god). However, the absurd overconfidence of people who believe in a micromanaging patriarch compels me to speak for myself.

More relevant to my thoughts over the past week: I believe death ends individuality. I don’t really care about the particulars of what happens to a once-living being’s molecules or the energy that animates it. What we call personality, identity, self, or soul, ends at death. Memories and photos aren’t the same.

Even people who reject the notion of a cartoonish heaven where everyone is miraculously reunited with everyone else usually take comfort in something beyond death. My mother expected to reappear as a cardinal or a butterfly, although she spoke sometimes of radiating out into space, like an old TV show. Most of my godless friends fill the void with Life or the Universe itself, which I find tempting, but one might as well worship the sun at that point. (I would be in the minority, worshipping the moon.)

So, I don’t believe in god(s), I don’t believe in heaven or hell (but I know where I’m going if I’m wrong), I don’t believe in reincarnation, an afterlife, or an immortal soul. Feel free to feel superior or scandalized, or to pray for me. By all means, rib me gently should we meet on the other side of Death. I’ll owe everyone a Coke. peace, mjh

PS: If I were going to believe in gods, I’d be a polytheist. It is easy to imagine countless petty, incompetent, jealous, and quarrelsome gawds looking for ways to trip us up.

PPS: I do appreciate a beautiful Buddhist image of the river of life cascading over a falls. A droplet of water appears for an instant – that is your life. In no time, that individual droplet returns to the All. Beautiful, but no comfort, if you like being yourself or want to see your dog again, someday.

Oklahoma Supreme Court orders removal of Ten Commandments monument

As an atheist, I’m heartened by this ruling, though I know the zealots will be enraged.

Oklahoma Supreme Court orders removal of Ten Commandments monument

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a Ten Commandments monument placed on State Capitol grounds must be removed because the Oklahoma Constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

The 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter) stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state, was installed in 2012, prompting complaints that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s provisions against government establishment of religion, as well as local laws.

In a 7-2 decision, the court said the placement of the monument violated a section in the state’s constitution, which says no public money or property can be used either directly or indirectly for the “benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion.”

Forget god

God doesn’t exist — he never did. We created all the gods in our image to embody the ideals we aspire to and the unfathomable misdeeds of which we’re capable. God is a fable, at times a cruel hoax, a story we all need to outgrow, just like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, the demigods of childhood.

But god is good, you say. No, you may be good. Your family, neighbors, friends are good — without god. But religion does good, you say. No doubt, but religion, like every human institution, does both good and bad — it’s our nature and the nature of all our creations and tools. Some of the bad we do in the name of god is genuinely horrible beyond the pale. We need to get beyond religion by forgetting god.

The most devout believers I know are Jewish. They have a code of behavior thousands of years old and they have discussed, debated, argued every word of it freely. What has it gotten them? The Dark Ages. The Holocaust. Palestine. Odds are some of their smiling neighbors whisper, “They’re Jews.” Praise the lord.

Few Christians are more full of love than African-Americans. Talk about the Stockholm Syndrome and mirroring the behavior of your abuser. Some American blacks take great comfort from god and faith. When did he start comforting them? Before their own holocaust, their ancestors had gods. You may shrug those off as heathenism — it’s all the same to me. Their religious neighbors sold them into slavery, before being enslaved themselves. Slaves endured centuries of unspeakable cruelty at the hands of good Christians. Deny the “good,” if you will. When did god stop listening to the prayers of the enslaver and start listening to the prayers of the enslaved? (Ask the Jews. They must have a day for that.)

What about Islam? Leave aside the tiny number who would kill me for blasphemy. (Whereas, the Jews will crack a joke about me, while the Christians say they’re praying for me.) Muslims also have strict codes selectively applied. What has Allah done for them? Made a few nauseatingly rich, so rich their table scraps comfort thousands of others, but not so rich that they choose to deal with the poverty and ignorance of the radicals. (Note how poverty and ignorance always go hand-in-hand with every religion. There will always be poor.)

But the Buddhists! They’re cool, right? Sure, they have lots of rules and demigods, plus all the pomp and circumstance of every religion. (Gotta give the folks a show as a key part of the sleight-of-hand.) Following Buddha may have helped them wait-out communism. That’s something.

And the new kids on the block? The Mormons? They carry on while the non-believers laugh and shake their heads. Where was their god when non-Mormons slaughtered them and drove them into the desert? No, the Scientologist, the most blatantly unapologetic con game. The latest hoax is the most obvious because it’s new. Given time, any nonsense finds followers. All believers are faithful to their own fantasy.

Just as we must recognize god as fiction — metaphor, at best — so we must stop chasing the delusion of heaven, the carrot in the deadfall. You have one life. It will end. NOTHING of your consciousness will live on. You may have kids who look, sound, and act like you. You may create art or devastation people talk about for generations. That’s not YOU. YOU will die. Childish stories will not change that. Believing, hoping, praying something better is coming will not change your fate or mine. Your hope is exploited by the charlatans and propheteers (sic). Grow up, be good, get on with life, be kind, take care of yourself and others. Accept the bad you can’t change and take responsibility for the bad you can change. You don’t need a god or heaven or soul for any of those good things — they are in our nature.

Sun Stand Still

Tick … tock, the pendulum swings so slowly. Lub … dub, another beat of Gaia’s heart.

longest day

From today on, the sun rises a little later each morning. Paradoxically, the sun sets a little later each night for the next week before it begins to set earlier.

Once every 100 years

Draw a circle at 9:26:53am. I’ve always felt that Pi proves there is something wrong with our number system. It’s like saying “there is no word for [untranslatable] in our language.” Pi is compact, elegant, integral to examining the natural world. It’s translation into Arabic numerals is comical. Pi is smoothly analog. Its numeric rendition is arbitrarily digital, cut off from the continuum. Pi is a pearl in the palm of an ape that needs all of its fingers and toes to count.

Going all out for math and pastries on special Pi Day | Albuquerque Journal News

Saturday is the day when love of math and a hankering for pastry come full circle. Saturday is Pi Day, a once-in-a-year calendar date that this time squares the fun with a once-in-a-century twist.

Saturday is 3-14-15, the first five digits of the mathematical constant pi: 3.141592653. The best times to celebrate are at 9:26 and 53 seconds, morning and evening. The next time that happens is in March 2115.

Going all out for math and pastries on special Pi Day | Albuquerque Journal News

American Christian Conservatives embrace, crave, demand ignorance

Ignorance snowballs. Conservative opposition to science and education will put us into a death spiral.

Conservative Christians Abroad Seem More Accepting of Evolution

The theory of evolution may be supported by a consensus of scientists, but none of the likely Republican candidates for 2016 seem to be convinced. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said it should not be taught in schools. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is an outright skeptic. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas will not talk about it. When asked, in 2001, what he thought of the theory, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, “None of your business.”

After Mr. Walker’s response, the interviewer in London, an incredulous Justin Webb of the BBC, said to the governor: “Any British politician, right or left wing, would laugh and say, ‘Yes, of course evolution is true.’ ”

Unlike the United States, where Republicans and conservative Christians are more likely to deny evolution and climate change, most conservative politicians in other countries, as well as other branches of Christianity, see Darwin more favorably. The BBC reporter’s response to Mr. Walker could serve as a reminder that American evangelicals, and the Republicans who woo them, are the exception, not the rule. …

By contrast, evangelicals’ commitment to the Bible — for many, the 17th-century King James Version — can come between them and new scientific learning.

But all of this theological discourse assumes that Governor Walker, or anyone else, actually understands what evolution is. Edward Humes, author of the 2007 book “Monkey Girl,” about the court battle over anti-evolution “intelligent design” theory in Dover, Pa., schools, said that many evangelicals did not really understand evolution.

“When the people on the school board were asked to explain in Dover what they took the theory of evolution to be, they couldn’t,” Mr. Humes said. “Nor could they explain the intelligent design theory they were embracing.”

For example, Mr. Hume said, some evangelicals believe that evolution is a theory of how life began. In fact, he said, “it explains the diversity of life on our planet, and why so many have become extinct and others have risen to prominence.”

Conservative Christians Abroad Seem More Accepting of Evolution