Atheist Culture

April 1, 2010

Atheists have no culture, and not enough community. Here are some suggestions for cultural phenomena you can cultivate at home:

Cultural quality #1: When you meet another atheist, look at them solemnly and nod. If someone asks about it later, say, “We’re going to rob a liquor store.” If they are offended, tell them it’s an atheist thing and they wouldn’t understand.

Cultural quality #2: Don’t have sex before marriage. I know this is going to be controversial but we don’t want anyone thinking that we aren’t religious just because we want to “go wild.” Also, don’t get all gay with each other. They’ve been expecting that.

Cultural quality #3: When someone wants to debate the bible and it gets onto a point neither one of you can confirm, say, “Oh, I have one right here.” Pull out a special bible that’s riddled with inconsistencies, which you’ve painstakingly prepared by cutting and pasting little strips of text from one part to another, and typing in contradictions. You can also order these from bible supply catalogs under “King James.” They use that as a code word for pranksters.

Cultural quality #4: Try to convert new members. Invite a believer to no-god parties, “non-prayer” meetings, and bar-not-zvahs. If they try to leave or question your beliefs, say, “What, do you want to go to hell?” When they ask what you’re talking about, say, “We have hell too.” Tell them this is “just because.”

Also, tell them we’ve finally taken the Christ out of Christmas like we wanted. It’s called “Mas,” and it’s in July.

Cultural quality #5: Go to church. If one of your new converts happens to walk by and see you, say, “What, you haven’t been going to church? Are you crazy?”

Cultural quality #6: Cow jokes. Do you want to be in the fucking club or not? Start thinking of some cow jokes. Udders…. Moo-something… It’s easy.

Cultural quality #7: Kill. Everything’s opposite. That one goes without saying.

Cultural quality #8: Molest children. Opposites. Wait. Don’t molest children. Definitely don’t molest children. Otherwise we’re just co-opting their culture.

Cultural quality #9: Keep monkeys in the house and talk to them just like you would a member of the family. Get as surprised as you would if a member of your family started throwing poop. Even if it’s several times in a row. We have to back up this evolution thing.

Cultural quality #10: Do anything you want, anytime you want. When believers see a naked person running down the street, yelling, knocking over old ladies, we want them to be jealous.

Oh, we’re going to have to abolish cops for obvious reasons. There’s not going to be enough for them to do anyway with no laws.

Good luck! Happy April Fools! (That’s our Christmas.)

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Frontline: From Jesus to Christ, in Three Minutes

March 30, 2010

PBS, please use the following as the synopsis for your excellent program “Frontline: From Jesus to Christ.” I don’t think you’re selling it to the nonreligious.

Jesus was an upper middle class, suburban kid who met a man named John. John was a nut job who wandered the country telling people the world was going to end. He convinced Jesus to become a traveling preacher, which Jesus did to some acclaim, especially in the area of healing.

Lots of people did this. It was a profession. Jesus would do things like mix his own spit with dirt and put it on wounds. And, clearly, the healing was to come from the treatment itself because he would, if the first treatment didn’t work, try another.

He also told people about God coming to Earth and “making things right,” which was a political statement that meant God was going to destroy the Roman Empire. Everyone hated the Romans, especially where Jesus grew up, and with good reason. The Romans had crucified thousands of people in the previous twenty-five years. (This means that the Romans crucified someone at least every four and a half days for a quarter century.)

So, what we know is that the Romans were REALLY EVIL.

Jesus kept to the countryside around his home town. The cities were full of Roman soldiers and the people there were of “such a high class” that they wouldn’t have been interested in his abilities. Then, one day, when he was in his mid to late twenties (Jesus was born around 4 AD, and this was between 27 and 33 AD) he decided to go into the city. He probably passed the permanent crucifix on his way into town that the Romans built for the purpose of torturing anyone who caused trouble, and it may well have had a dying or dead person on it who didn’t deserve to be crucified. It’s hard to imagine anyone who did.

This is a holiday and the city is packed with people. And one thing that these people all share is a belief in God. And it’s not just any god. It’s a god who is infinitely more powerful than any god ever conceived, and it’s a god who wipes out whole cities (cities in particular). If you’re in the city at that time, you die a horrible death.

Unless you’re warned.

Packed city. All believers. All don’t want to die. All certainly don’t want to be killed by God.

So Jesus goes to the temple market and starts upturning tables and telling people that God is coming.

From a historical perspective, it is very likely at this point that people went ape shit. And the Roman Empire did not like its people to go ape shit.

So the Romans killed Jesus. This was probably treated like any other crucifixion of the time. People went in and out of the city trying not to look. Nobody crowded around. The End. That is the last thing we know about Jesus from his own time.

Please buy this DVD. It’s really good.

NOTE: The one piece of archeological evidence, the plaque above the cross, that showed that Jesus was known as the King of the Jews at the time of his death, and therefore had a large following, was radiocarbon dated a few years after the program was made and was shown to be fake.

PBS website with full program


Ratz-krieg!: Management Secrets from the Master Himself Pope Benedict (Excerpt)

March 27, 2010

CHAPTER 3

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I know this from experience and I know it will help you too because there is NO business that has survived as much foul weather as mine. You’re going to get through. Keep telling yourself that, while of course Not Keeping Track of Things, and Not Caring (Chapters 1 & 2) as previously mentioned. Even if the burden on the pillars of your business is enormous, you are getting hit from all sides by bad press, complaints from customers, and even a growing sense that your product actually works counter to its intended effects (remember the baby carriage with sharks example), keep telling yourself you’re going to get through this.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’ve been accused of the most heinous crime that you can think of, and that it is the type of thing that goes against everything your business stands for. Suppose every TV ad, every press packet, official release, and indeed your whole catalog of marketing materials state that this thing is one thing your business is NOT into and it would undermine the core privilege your business has to exist.

Have I got your attention? Because that is exactly the sort of bad luck this advice will get you through. I know it because I’ve been there. I know it as a CEO myself, and 24 years heading my company’s International “Bad Luck” Department. Think of it as a things go wrong and we’re the ones who are chosen to ignore it wing.

A typical business type meeting


And let’s just say I didn’t get there by not ignoring things. I was a great ignorer before that, and afterwords I was promoted to HIIC, Head Ignorer in Charge. It works. I’m not saying it makes sense. It just works. And even though I have a limited grasp of logic, I think that means it will work for you too.

Now, I know what you’re saying. What about my business? Will this work in _____, or ______? Fill in those blanks with your business names — seriously because I don’t know any. Yes it will. I know because 1. this is the worst possibly scenario so yours can’t be this bad, unless you’re me and I don’t think you are. And 2. My business is not like your business with the benefit of revenue. My business doesn’t even make money.

Did I just shock you? I think I did. That’s right. Your business gets to spend money. Mine doesn’t. We don’t have any.

Sure we have upkeep fees like tailors who know how to repair gold robes but I’m sure you have the same things. Ceiling polishers. Things that keep your sovereign nation humming. Your tax return says, I’m just pulling this out of the air, 400 billion or something. I don’t know. Add or subtract some billion to suit even the smallest business [change to lower amount per editor’s suggestion that some businesses don’t make even a billion. Wow. Shoe shiners on the subway? Hobos? Have someone look into this.]

Our tax return says 0. So don’t write to me saying that ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. You’re not trying hard enough. I’ve spoken to several other CEOs Heads of State underlings who agree with me completely. And these are people I trust with my job. In fact, one of them just left, agreeing with me all the way, and he saved my ass by resigning. I am infallible it’s true, but this guy would have told me if something was wrong. (I don’t know what term you use in your business: “Intranet” maybe. I’m paging through this business book and I can’t find it. I think in politics it’s called unimpeachability and I know some countries have that.)

At any rate, your business has your thing, we have ours. Get your own idea that works just as well. I know it’s possible. I’ll throw out some ideas.

Ok, I’ll throw some out in the next edition. If you’ve already bought the book and you want to know what the ideas are, go to the bookstore and check it out. I’ll try to put them on the same page. Or grumble and make “me wanty” gestures towards your hand. The book should appear.

Hey there you go! Tell people books will appear in their hands if they ask for it, and tell them to pay you to listen to the idea over and over*. You’d be kind of stepping on our toes a little but just take that one for free. I’ve got to get this to my publisher.

*The over and over part is key, otherwise you could just print it up once and be done with it and that doesn’t make good business sense.†

†Writing books is easy OMG!


Who We (atheists) Are

March 11, 2010

We think a winner should have been declared in Church v. Logic. It’s as simple as that. We’re bookish. We’re squares.

Countless debates have gone on in human history with the correct party rewarded immediately, or not. History rewards them in either case because we always find out who was right. The world is round, ketchup doesn’t come out that way, here give it to me etc.

This debate is incredibly simple as philosophical debates go. The religious have no leg to stand on and their arguments are the kind that can be used for anything. It’s what you say when you get caught taking money out of a cash register in the dark, after hours at a grocery store. “I own this place.” “They stole money from me!” “I’m your superior officer.”

And anyone who has caught someone with their hand in the till so to speak (especially a little kid) knows that arguments will go on as long as you want with the accused adding more and more unlikely details. I don’t need to prove this since we know that 1, 2, 3… goes on forever, and the argument “none of this is real” is always available. (The distinction between “real” and “something else” has been used by defenders of the supernatural since before cash registers, or cash for that matter. Fraud, unfortunately, started with the ancient currency of fleas-I-picked-off-you-and-ate.)

So it has gone on. The surprising thing is that it survives almost everywhere and has broken us into a very splintered subgroup. There is no elite atheist cabal that controls the world because, ha ha, you all didn’t believe us. That is the world of Wright Brother deniers, the believers bopping around in their jets to meet with each other, or coming back from vacation tan.

Nonbelievers would be, in that case, surprised, and at a significant disadvantage.

From this idea of disadvantage, one is inevitably drawn to the thought of war. Certainly if there is a belief that wins wars, it has been sorted out by history already. There are Holocaust deniers but there are no Hiroshima deniers. The Holocaust deniers are rewarded with the fraternity of other antisemites and punished rarely, while atom bomb deniers risk evaporation.

So what am I saying? That religion wins wars (and elections, and gives the religious a distinct advantage in life outside of philosophy class)? Don’t need to prove that point, too easy. Of course it does. They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Not true. But foxholes are definitely not full of atheists. We’re not lining up for war. And I don’t need to say what would happen if you pitted two otherwise equal fighting forces against each other in which one side THINKS IT IS IMMORTAL. Even though the atheists would have a better grasp of logical fallacy, that fight is not fair.

Am I saying atheists should be more militant? Nope. We’d lose. See above.

I’m saying I want our day in court. The argument is not treated like an old fight that was won long ago. To anyone who has read or seen such a debate, it is the verbal equivalent of a boxing match between a skinny little emperor wearing no clothes and a collection of heavyweight champions. And announcers call it like a close match! “There! It looks like the emperor is showing signs of life here in the eighth round… You can see his twitching head is starting to look like the deft evasion techniques of our finest athletes! Not the epileptic spasms of a 90 pound man lying in his own blood for most of an hour, as some outspoken members of the crowd have suggested.”

Furthermore, before the fight, and most of the time after the fight the believers nudge each other excitedly — none of them actually having watched one of these things — waiting for the opening volley: the emperor, clothed in the finest silks, shoots fire from his hands. It never comes. You lost, and you will continue to lose unless you can come up with better arguments, and that’s putting it charitably. (Not that charity is going to do you any good at this point. Your boxer is trying to slide out of the ring, oddly aroused.)

UPDATE: If there is an elite atheist cabal and I don’t know about it, I’m going to be pissed you guys.


The Twilight Zone: It’s a Good Life

January 3, 2010

This has to be one of the best half hours of television ever produced:

Not only does it hold up for these past 50 years, it’s also a great piece of accidental religious commentary.

HUSBAND 1961, pipe, v-neck sweater: That was a good Twilight Zone, dear. Wouldn’t it be awful if our lives were controlled by an all powerful being like that? And he was so childish and cruel!
WIFE, apron with skirt: Yes that would be awful, hon. And everyone had to pretend to like the rules he makes. Can I take your plate?
HUSBAND: I’m still working on the toast. What a hellish existence!
WIFE: …
HUSBAND: What did I say?
WIFE: You know it makes me uncomfortable when you use the H word.
HUSBAND: Sorry Bunny. Here. I’m finished. No tears now.

THE END

There were probably a lot of half-written complaint letters to the network too.


Your Mom

December 18, 2009

Hi and welcome to the brand new Apatheism Podcast blog!

Please let us know you’re listening at apatheismpodcast@gmail.com or add a comment below.

(If you’re wondering what this has to do with your mom: nothing.  Absolutely nothing.)