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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where are Atheists When Bad Things Happen?

I am an atheist. Here I am. Does someone out there need me? Contact me, and I will do what I can. Please, I am very serious!

Unlike Mr. D’Souza, I don’t have a national platform to get out my message. I have a day job, a job in a public institution where I just advised the safety committee in light of the Virginia Tech shooting, and I have other duties that can’t be put off no matter what, but if Mr. D’Souza thinks that I should be doing something else for my fellow Americans, and if my fellow Americans need something of me, I am here. I am not medical personnel, but I am a good listener. I am a very good and supportive and sympathetic listener. Even those close to me who are appalled that I am an atheist will attest to that, and anybody, no matter what you believe, can say anything to me. You can talk about anything.

Dinesh D'Souza would have you believe that atheists are monsters. I don’t know what purpose that serves other than to whip up some new movement to cleanse America of enemies that do not exist. He probably doesn’t realize that he already knows some who have never told him, because atheists fear other people’s fear. So I make this offer – contact me, if you need help. I am just one person but I will do what I can.

That’s all we can do anyway. Atheists help America every day. We are behind the scenes most of the time, working in hospitals, working in labs to find cures, working in offices to make institutions work; we choose to be respectfully silent when others pray or speak of God in times like this; but if someone needs me to articulate my beliefs at this time I am happy to do so.

In a way, Mr. D’Souza, I am grateful to you. In a backhanded way you are letting me know that America needs to hear from me, too. I didn’t know anybody wanted to listen to me. Most people react with horror to me and I don’t understand why.

UPDATED: Rev. BigDumbChimp pointed me to this - Dinesh D'Souza says I don't exist: an atheist at Virginia Tech:

We atheists do not believe in gods, or angels, or demons, or souls that endure, or a meeting place after all is said and done where more can be said and done and the point of it all revealed. We don’t believe in the possibility of redemption after our lives, but the necessity of compassion in our lives. We believe in people, in their joys and pains, in their good ideas and their wit and wisdom. We believe in human rights and dignity, and we know what it is for those to be trampled on by brutes and vandals. We may believe that the universe is pitilessly indifferent but we know that friends and strangers alike most certainly are not. We despise atrocity, not because a god tells us that it is wrong, but because if not massacre then nothing could be wrong.

D'Souza harps in reply to yesterday's comments on his piece:

One clever writer informs me that atheists don't deny meaning, they simply insist that meaning is not inherent in the universe, it is created by us. Okay, pal, here's the Virginia Tech situation. Go create some meaning and share it with the rest of us Give us that atheist sermon with you in the pulpit of the campus chapel. I'm not being facetious here. I really want to hear what the atheist would tell the grieving mothers.

To which I reply, YOU MEAN LIKE YOU, DINESH D'SOUZA? Or like the Westboro Church? They're theists, too.

Lead by example, man. After all, you once said that "America should be destroyed."

Shimmies to Rev. BigDumbChimp.

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Blogger Spirula said...

For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho's shooting of all those people can be understood in this way--molecules acting upon molecules.

For religious conservatives like D'Souza, Cho's shooting of all those people can be understood in this way--an opportunity to exploit this tragedy by knocking down straw-men while blowing himself.

April 19, 2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D’Souza is an ignoramus who (as my father used to say) closely resembles the south end of a north-bound horse. In the last 30 years I've done in excess of 500 hours of community service per year in volunteer emergency services on a fire department/emergency squad.

When I've laid in a pool of gasoline in an overturned auto trying to get the driver free of crushed metal not one patient has ever asked whether I'm an atheist. I am, even though the patient thanks God for the rescue, implying, of course, that God killed the other passenger (a cute little 15 year-old girl) who we couldn't get out in time to prevent her from asphyxiating on her own blood because her throat was crushed.

April 19, 2007 2:52 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Spirula, I agree that D’Souza is seizing this opportunity to make a self-serving statement. So I seized the opportunity to make a positive statement. I’m not literally grateful to D’Souza (I know he’s an ass) but if more of us say, “Hey, thanks for the opening, here’s what I stand for, blah blah blah, and here's how much I love America, blah blah,” they’ll probably stop spewing this destructive hatred, because it won’t serve their interests.

Anonymous, you are a hero to me. I’m sorry that you have to see ugly things that most of us avert our eyes from. Thank you for all that you’ve done to save other people’s lives. We need to share more of our stories, not just so that American will start seeing atheists, but so that people can get to know each other before we eulogize them in obituaries and in memorials on TV.

April 19, 2007 4:50 PM  
Blogger Dusty said...

Wow. anonymous is seriously the real deal.
A.M., thanks... I appreciate your post. Will have to visit more!

April 19, 2007 8:17 PM  
Blogger great_ape said...

Hmmm... As an atheist, would you be available to console those who are being continually subjected to the wrath of a vengeful God? I don't think so. And as I imagine this constitutes the overwhelming majority of human existence, I suspect there's little you can do for people. We appreciate the thought, though.

April 19, 2007 8:46 PM  
Blogger Cats Staff said...

I also worked on an ambulance service for a while and many times credit was given to God for all the hard work we did. I have also worked in a food bank where I heard a lot of people thanking God. One was even sure that the good things that were happening to her (caused by God, not all the volunteers and donors) was a sure sign of the end times.

I wish they would have had a real Christian speaker...real according to someone like Todd Friel who was on the radio the other day talking about how the victims deserved it...they are all wretched sinners who deserve to go to hell...that's what he said about the 9/11 victims too. The Westboro Baptist Church folks at least put the blame on homosexuals. Todd just goes straight to the victim. And he says it's the only thing that makes sense. Why couldn't they have had him talk?

April 19, 2007 10:55 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thanks for stopping by, Dusty.

I suspect there's little you can do for people.

Probably. I cannot solve other people's problems. But there were times when I did listen, and to people who expected me to be shocked at what they said. I wasn't. They told me that I'd helped. That's all.

I also worked on an ambulance service for a while and many times credit was given to God for all the hard work we did.

I have worked with a lot of African-American women in low-paying jobs who thought God was teaching them a "lesson" because they couldn't pay their light bill or afford something. I couldn never understand what they thought they were supposed to learn from that.

April 19, 2007 11:33 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

Yea, that's a real shame isn't it? No wonder they have dificulty climbing out of their poverty hole. God will provide.

I am an Atheist and I am helping to design machinery that treats cancer patients. I'm not doing it for the money since I used to get paid more for designing electronics for military tanks.

You will find a great number of believers working there, building devices that blow the arms of small children. And their children's children - and thier children's children's children.....

By the way the three pillars that formthe foundation for con men: Cancer, Children and Sex.

April 20, 2007 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, just where the hell was God this past Monday in Virginia? A merciful, omnipotent deity would not have allowed that to happen. Such a kindly divinity would not have allowed poor Cho to get so fucked up in the skull.

If there is divine justice, and I have no shred of evidence that there is, Cho is in some unpleasant, uncomfortable corner of purgatory reflecting on the error of his ways.

Popular theology is cluttered with two notions, that God is omnipotent and that he is all-merciful. Events in Virginia and elsewhere demonstrate that such a being may be one or the other, but not both. Of course, such a being may be neither, for the main simple reason that such a being just ain't, period.

April 20, 2007 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah rats!!! I forgot to sign my comment.

April 20, 2007 10:01 AM  
Blogger Rev. BigDumbChimp said...


Check this out.

April 20, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Chimpy! Thank you!

I've added it.

April 20, 2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Popular theology is cluttered with two notions, that God is omnipotent and that he is all-merciful.

I think the two are irreconcilable. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

April 20, 2007 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're saying then, that if a god is omnipotent, then that entity is one mean sumbitch. Let's hope that no such being exists.

April 20, 2007 3:08 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

As well, let us hope that watermelons cannot talk to cell phone towers. Hey, its "possible" and if everyone believed it you would be drawn and quartered for saying otherwise.

April 20, 2007 4:39 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

The idea of God was based upon the idea of the dictator. (King of kings, etc.) We've outgrown kings.

The idea of self-organizing nature inspired our idea of democracy, but don't tell Dinesh D'Souza that.

I'm afraid that Americans have come to see democracy as something presided over by a "strong leader," like George W. Bush.

April 20, 2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Vodyanoj said...

AM: I completely agree with the democracy point; but there are some very scary people in this country who derive an opposite conclusion: that religion (specifically, exteremely right-wing Catholicism) and democracy 9at least the American kind) are necessary for one another and stem from the same source (god). In a stunning history rewrite they claim that the Founding fathers were Catholic(!) and these people--the theocons--are very close to the current administration. (google Neuhaus, First Things; a book called Theocons is in your local library, I am sure. Check it out).

Good work: will be back.


April 21, 2007 4:29 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Oh, yeah, I'm aware of the people who want to rewrite history. Trouble is, they want to rewrite democracy, too.

The Patriot Act is "democracy." Get me?

April 23, 2007 8:58 AM  

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