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The atheist community is about more than “does god exist?” December 10, 2011

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Religion, Skepticism and atheism.
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A few years back I was pretty close with the people over at the Rational Response Squad.  They made a little noise, became small celebrities in the early atheist community, and probably helped that community grow in ways that other less-quiet ways could not have helped.

There were revered by some, reviled by many more, and a couple of years ago or so they sort of fell off the map in the atheist community.  I know more about all of that than I really need to know, and I do not care to relate the soap-opera involved.

But in any case they never really disappeared completely.  I have been in contact with some of the members of the RRS over the last few years and have watched them change and move in different directions.  One of those old friends is now blogging about history, and I have continued to read his blog consistently because he is a dedicated and intelligent person with interesting things to say.

Then yesterday I read this:

(A)Theism: A Brief Autobiography with a Word of Caution

For those who I left behind in my journey, I have no words of comfort for you.  I suspect that you are either filled with disgust, with acceptance, or are just noncommittal.  Maybe you’re working up a response.  Of course I welcome any discussion.  But it might be important now to note that I have not even yet ventured at an answer to the question ‘does god exist?’  I have refused to answer.  I do not wish to indulge your egotism, your wish to label me, to place me in some convoluted category.  To hell with that.  If you want to judge me, do so on my positions in other more serious matters.  Do not trouble me with your bothersome rantings about the pointlessness or the value in the exultation of faith.

He says more than just that, of course (read the whole post, for full context).  But this was the paragraph that stuck out to me while I was trying to sleep last night (I was not home, so I could not get up and blog about it then).  I kept trying to figure out what this was all about.

I responded in the comments (currently under moderation) [comment has been accepted], and I would like to have some discussion with Tom about this larger issue, because I think that the atheist community has become so much more than the question about the existence of god itself.  Yes, we certainly still deal with that question, but we deal with so much more.  Readers of my blog should know that, in any case.

We deal with questions of skepticism, science and faith, religion and culture, morality, and so many other things which are not only relevant but also important to deal with.  The atheist community, as well as the larger skeptical and reason-based community, are going to be very important in the formation of our culture over the next 20 years (and beyond, probably).

We are no longer a movement surrounding the (possibly unanswerable) question of “does god exist?”  As Matt Dillahunty says, we want to know what you believe and why.  This goes for questions having to do with gods, science, relationships, and everything else.  I personally love it.

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What do atheists do for Christmas? December 21, 2009

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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Happy Solstice everyone!

I know, I’m not a pagan, but I do sort of like the idea of celebrating astronomically-inspired holidays.  They are so much more preferable to those holidays that copied off of the pagan ones.  You now, like Christmas.

So, what do atheists do on December 25th? Well, that all depends.  Many, probably most, celebrate Christmas with their families.  Christmas has become, after all, a secular holiday here in the United States, so why shouldn’t they if that’s what they enjoy?

Some do the old Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food, catch a movie, or just relax with a day off.  I have done this myself with some Jewish friends in the past.

Some atheists work on this day so that their Christian co-workers can have the day off.  That’s nice of them.  Plus they might get paid extra for working on a holiday.  Bonus!

So, what do I do? Well, I have traditionally spent Christmas with my family, but I have never really liked the holiday that much.  I am not a fan of the consumerism, awkward family gatherings, and I am certainly not Christian.  I’m not even convinced that Jesus was a historical figure, let alone believing the mythology about his birth.

So Christmas is not a big deal for me, and I stopped celebrating some years back. I insisted that people don’t give me gifts either, because I felt hypocritical taking gifts on a holiday that I didn’t want to celebrate.  My parents still do get me something, but to a lesser extent than they did when I was younger.

But this year, I will be participating in something new.  My girlfriend and I will be be going to my friend Brian Sapient‘s house to celebrate the annual ChristMyAss festivities.  Yes, that’s right folks, that’s Sapient of the Rational Response Squad.

Since I moved out of the Philadelphia area, I have not been able to see Brian or many others from my home town, but come the holidays I will be back in Philly.  And while I am there, I’ll be live on webcam (no, not that kind of live on webcam, pervs…) for your viewing and listening pleasure.

The details of the webcast are as follows.

Place: http://www.rationalresponders.com/rrs_webcam_room (stickam.com)

Date: December 25th, 2009 (AKA Christmas)

Time:

Chat etc: 2:00 PM

Live on Webcam: 6:00-9:00

Stop by early for some chat, music, and introductions, and stay later for the same.  Brian, Seana, and I will be on from 6-9, then we will commit ourselves to a few drinks and hanging out.  I wonder if bars will be open in his area.  It will be Friday night….

I hope to see you there.  What else do you have to do on a Friday evening in late December?