Category Archives: The Atheist’s Pulpit

One believer’s view.


I had a chance encounter with a colleague recently. Waxing philosophic,

he began to address great issues of creation. I didn’t object; I like him and he’s no bible-thumper. But, there came a point when I had

to say, somewhat to his surprise: I am an atheist. I don’t say that very often, though I’m not ashamed of it.

I have a friend who is probably the most literate person I know on matters of the

bible. She asked me recently, in effect, what do atheists believe, in the sense of what satisfies our common human need to understand or

explain difficult things.

Sometimes I half-jokingly refer to myself as an “antagagnostic” (antagonist + agnostic), defining such

as one who doubts there is a god but hates him just the same. Indeed, I hate the god of the bible, it is true. I have expressed that in

far stronger language on many occasions.

I don’t mind if you are a believer, even though I know many believers mind very much

that I don’t believe. I don’t seek to change believers, though many seek to change me. Doesn’t quite seem fair, but that’s just a

trivial bit of evidence that there either isn’t a god or s/he is extremely distant or heartless and unjust. There is far greater

evidence everywhere you look.

Oh, but what of all the good people I love, some of whom have faith? What of my sweet dog, Lucky,

who is the nicest person I know. What of those glorious morning glories that so inspire me, the mammoth mountains, waterfalls,

rainstorms, everything I love in the world. I do love it all, but I have no need to thank a god I don’t believe in for it. I’m grateful

and feel lucky — I just believe it was random chance that brought me here and will sweep me out of all memory in time. Misfortune and

sorrow are just part of the balance, as are joy and gratitude. mjh

Today’s Sermon

Kids, stop reading now.

Tell me if any of this is news to

you. There is no Santa Claus. There is no Easter Bunny. There is no Tooth Fairy. There is no god.

Why is that last statement such

an unacceptable thought to so many people?

Generally, I believe in letting people believe what they will, especially in a matter

that is so deep in our kind and so entrenched in our culture. I really don’t need to PROVE there is no god, anymore than one with faith

needs to prove there is (and yet, the evangelicals really seem to need to prove something).

I’m writing about atheism today

having read an article about Christians finding common ground in the matter of evolution. One might not think that Christians agreeing on

something is terribly news-worthy, but, of course, it really is because religion divides as much as it unites.

Now, I don’t

expect atheism to get equal time — ever, anywhere. But, I chafe a bit at a quote that:

[Ideologies ‘laid on top of

science’] have ranged from “eugenics” … to atheism….

Much as a conservative chafes at “Great leaders

from Hitler to Duhbya” or a liberal at “Notions from genocide to public transportation.”

Again, I don’t expect equal time —

ever! Especially in an article that isn’t in any way about atheism, except in so far as Religionists agree it’s bad.

Bless you,



Scholars Say Science, Religion Can Co-Exist By John Fleck, Journal Staff Writer

In Christ We Trust?

In the paper this morning, a comics character tells Santa she wishes people would recognize

our nation was founded on “Christian principles with a broad tolerance towards other faiths.” I’m touched by that right-wing politically

correct notion of “broad tolerance” — ie, mind your place and we’ll put up with you.

Where exactly in the Constitution does one

read “In Christ We Trust” or “Christ Bless America”? I am aware of the very few references to god and a creator in our founding

documents, but where is Christ mentioned?

You understand the confusion. Christians aren’t merely monotheists, they’re monopoly-

theists. They accept the notion that the only way to god is through Jesus. Frankly, I find it hard to believe the gentle Jesus was so

arrogant. Still, with Jesus as the gatekeeper, all references to god must implicitly include Jesus. So it is that a nation that makes the

blandest references to an unspecified god must really worship Jesus.

Or maybe it’s just that Christians, like the Radical Right,

associate all that is good with themselves and all that is evil with others. That is, they deny their humanity and the humanity of others

— we are all flawed in good and bad ways. But, if you only have good on your side and, we agree, the Constitution is a “good” document,

it must be a “Christian” document. Nonsense.

I’ve never understood why anyone worships the god of the Old Testement — just read

Job or Issac. The old god is one mean and demanding being. Good news, everybody, there’s a New Testement with a sweet nice guy as it’s

protagonist. You’ll go to hell if you don’t fully accept that as fact.

My Messiah would surpass the very best teachers I’ve

ever had. S/he would say, “good for you for finding your own solution.” My Buddha would say, “damn, I wish I’d thought of that as a way

to enlightenment.” My Muhommad would say to the others, “you should see this kid — no one has ever asked that question before.”

Or, more likely, “where the hell did you get the idea that it is OK to push others around and take their stuff?” mjh

From The Atheist’s Pulpit

Somebody light a

candle because Krauthammer and I are on the same side of an issue. Holy cow! Even as I savor this moment of worlds-colliding, I marvel

that I could argue Krauthammer is being unfair to some IDers (this is a disturbing universe, indeed). Those very few IDers who

believe they are pursuing a “science of irreducible complexity” — a bold new way of looking at things — feel tarred by the “Jesus on a

dinosaur” brush. Sorry, but there are many more who believe evolution is the devil’s tool and the world is 4000 years old than believe

there are merely points in an otherwise clockwork system where god intercedes. Not that truth is a popularity contest.

Still, I

always enjoy the Clash of Conservatives. Krauthammer is one of the cardinals of the Radical Right — a ‘must read’ in the West Wing (or

have read to you). Here we see the arrogance and utterly unshakable certainty directed against — good god! — forces equally arrogant

and unshakable. ‘The Truth is Ours‘, both sides shout with equal ferocity, and ‘those who disagree are beneath contempt.’

The true gift from god here is not that the ranters can’t simply give up and shout “Commie! Hippie! Democrat!” No, no, sweeter still

is that somewhere deep inside each opponent has to realize, “damn, I just called another right-winger wrong.” The Monolith of Radical

Right Infallibility called into question by its own faithful?! Hosanna! mjh

PS: I believe Krauthammer

would join me — again! — in irritation at the Albuquerque Journal’s headline, “God and Science Made the Lemurs”. There isn’t

a person alive — whom you’d want to talk to — who would say ‘science made the lemurs’. Made? Are headline writers less

educated than real journalists or does years of straining for groan-inducing puns dull the wits as much as it seems to?

Two more


Kansas wrong to see science as an enemy of God, just ask Einstein — Quad City Times

[mjh: so much for the pursuit of brevity]

Science isn’t religion’s foe: an idea that’s still evolving — Bothell Herald

[mjh: groan]

Charles Krauthammer: Evolution by any other name is still . . .

BECAUSE every few years this country, in its

infinite tolerance, insists on hearing yet another appeal of the Scopes monkey trial, I feel obliged to point out what would otherwise be

superfluous � that the two greatest scientists in the history of our species were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and they were both


Newton’s religiosity was traditional. He was a staunch believer in Christianity and member of the Church of England.

Einstein’s was a more diffuse belief in a deity who set the rules for everything that occurs in the universe.

Neither saw science

as an enemy of religion. On the contrary. “He believed he was doing God’s work,” wrote James Gleick in his recent biography of Newton.

Einstein saw his entire vocation � understanding the workings of the universe � as an attempt to understand the mind of God.

Not a crude and willful God who pushes and pulls and does things according to whim. … Newton’s God was not at all so crude. The laws

of his universe were so simple, so elegant, so economical, and therefore so beautiful that they could only be divine. …


be clear. “Intelligent design” may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud.

It is a self-enclosed, tautological

“theory” whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge � in this case, evolution � they are to

be filled by God. …

How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple,

more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet

interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give

us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education too.

QOTD: “How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God.Amen.

Smoky Musings

Swisher SweetsMost mornings, I see him there, in the park. The old man drives up and walks to a bench, sunny or shady according to season. Every time, he pulls out a cigar, some slimmer, some fatter. He takes a moment to contemplate it, lights it, and settles into the bench.

I do not know his smoky musings. Done, he doesn’t linger. Back to his late-model car, back to the real world. Does he go home to his wife, or is she dead? Does he have children waiting for him? Or is it just an attendant at some senior center.

I do not know — we never speak. We know the timeline would be at risk for this Mark to speak with that Mark. Some things we must just wait for. mjh