The Atheist’s Pope? Not really.

I’m an atheist. Not only am I certain there is no god, I’m sure we’ve outlived the usefulness of religion. I hope Pope Francis proves me wrong about religion causing more harm than good. Like much of the world, I’m touched by the things he says.


The Catholic Church is a corporation. CEOs don’t reach the top of corporations by being the nicest and kindest people. While it is clear that the Church made a huge mistake (which factions may be regretting) by elevating this pope, he’s still in the 1%. At least he remembers being in and caring for the 99%. I hope he can make a difference.

If some members of Congress were moved by the pope to behave decently, I’m happy and surprised. I question the true character of someone who goes from rejecting compromise to embracing it simply because one powerful person says they should. Small wonder such weak-willed individuals are easily bought.

Which fairy do you follow?

Although I was raised in a Mother Goose household, I am born-again Grimm. I live my life according to the tenets codified by the Good Brothers, praise their names.

During a Grimm conclave, I met a woman I was interested in until I discovered she practices Lax-Grimm, which picks and chooses which Grimm beliefs to follow. I’ll have none of that. It’s Devout Grimm for me or nothing.

My best friend from childhood remained a follower of Mother Goose until he took drugs in college and read Revelations. I can’t even talk to him anymore.

My boss is from a family that has followed Aesop for ages. How can he have faith in greedy foxes but not in the Big Bad Wolf. What a fool he is.

When I’m feeling expansive, I consider that any fairy tale is better than none. I can’t imagine going through life without magic to comfort and guide you. Atheists scare me. How can they be good people without fables to guide them?

The Silence of 911

For days after 911, most air traffic was grounded. I was acutely aware of the resulting quiet — and very appreciative of it. I think we subject ourselves to stress in countless ways every day, including noise, particularly from air traffic. We’re fools, killing ourselves with indifference to our environment. That indifference is profitable to many, so go back to sleep. Perhaps a pill will help. There’s another to perk you up in the morning.

The War on Christianity? Bullshit.

Once again, religion has so addled its followers’ brains that they cannot understand events unfolding around them. Once again, unscrupulous men use lies to rouse the rabble.

As you know, a clerk in Kentucky is in jail for failing to do her job. While that is an extreme treatment — firing or resignation would be preferable — the fact of the matter is that this woman won’t do her civic duty and she is in contempt of court. She is NOT a martyr, except to hypocrisy.

Now, Republican candidates, desperate to prove their own ignorance and insanity, aware that their base loves bigoted nonsense, have declared this as another example of “The War on Christianity.” BULLSHIT! This was an example of Christians’ War Against the Constitution. We are NOT a Christian nation. You are free to be a Christian, you are free to express your outrage at events. Don’t take a job you can’t perform. Quit a job you refuse to do.

I’m certain the world will be a much better place when all religions are equal to the other fairy tales: Interesting stories and metaphors we share but don’t take seriously. Sadly, I won’t live that long. I doubt I’ll live to see the Republican party return to sanity.

How many trees are enough?

It’s an unanswerable question. Science shudders at the notion of unanswerable questions. Mind you, I choose Science over Religion, but every human endeavor is fraught with error — we are flawed. So is Science.

What brings me back to wagging my middle finger at Science once again is the recent “survey” of the number of trees on Earth. How many trees are there on our planet? 3.04 trillion. BULLSHIT. We are so easily mislead by precision, mistaking it time and again for accuracy. Someone has taken an educated guess that he hopes stands scrutiny. Thus is Science. It’s the scrutiny that is vital and that requires a skeptical audience. So, don’t believe everything you read, no matter how many decimal places.

We know without a doubt that there are fewer trees than a century ago. We know that we are clear-cutting old forests at a furious pace. We also know that someone is going to take comfort in that guess of 3.04 trillion and relax a little, when we need to do more, not less.


[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.”