Category Archives: Atheism

Awesome Hot Air

God is all around me.

And it’s bugging me. You know as well as I do how pervasive the old bird is.

Well, not exactly him, but his messengers and agents. He has priests, pastors, imams, rabbis, lamas, and a whole raft of other paid flacks. On top of that he depends on millions and millions — wait, billions — of unpaid volunteers who are more than happy to crow about what a swell dude he is. Perhaps only The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia has a publicity machine as widespread.

God's Guys

Brand Strategists

Walk into any diner and order a cola. When the waitperson repeats your order, s/he’ll say, “And you wanted a Coke, right?”

Right. Even if it’s a Faygo or a Pepsi, it’s a Coke.

Same with the Big Daddy-o in the Sky. Whenever a legislative body wants to initiate proceedings for the day, it calls in Christ’s vicar or G_d’s interpreter to start the festivities off right. Whenever a plane crashes or a lunatic opens fire in a shopping mall, people climb all over each other to say the Big Boy himself was responsible for any survivors. Hell, I sneezed the other day and some woman said, “God bless you.”

He’s everywhere.

Only he’s not. Like Bob Dylan, he’s not there.

And, like Dylan, his reputation is based on layers upon layers of bombast and myth.

There is no Bob Dylan, as you well know. There is a fellow named Robert Allen Zimmerman, born May 24, 1941, who one day decided to market himself by borrowing the given name of the poet Dylan Thomas and adopting it as his surname.

Both Bob Dylan and god have had spectacularly trenchant and brilliant mots attributed to them. These pearls of verbiage, though, have been largely excavated from under massive piles of nonsensical and silly pronouncements.

Maybe Bob Dylan is god.

Blake's God/Dylan

Separated At Birth?

Nah. Can’t be. Because there is no god.

The godly among the populace will counter that it is the height of presumption for me to say such a thing. Pious logicians will argue that I cannot definitively assert the non-existence of something. To which I might respond, Okay, you guys have had some 50,000 years (yup, humans in the Upper Paleolithic Period worshiped a god) to prove the Large Lummox created everything and is concerned with love, peace, war, and the result of yesterday‘s Monday Night Football game. You haven’t yet.

Carl Sagan famously told about the fire-breathing dragon in his garage. Prove that it isn’t there, he said. Guess what: You can’t.

Then the believers will cluck their tongues and shake their heads. How sad, they’ll lament, that you’re so lacking in awe and wonder. Your world is empty and prosaic. They’ll tell me that when they look at the petals of a flower they see the handiwork of the creator. When I look at it, I see a bionic machine. Such an emotionally empty experience.

Not so. For instance, I could hardly get to sleep last night after reading about astronomers’ latest supposition that tens of billions of stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy host Earth-like planets in their Goldilocks Zones (that is, the area around them that is just right for terrestrial type life to develop in.)

Habitable Zone

Dig: One of the astronomers who studied the results of a four-year Kepler Space Telescope search for Earth-like exo-planets was driven to ejaculations of Oh, Wows by what he’d learned. Here’s Erik Petigura of the University of California-Berkeley:

When you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing.

So tonight, I’m going out in the backyard to look at the dark sky. Weather permitting, I’ll see dozens and dozens of stars up above. If I feel really ambitious, I might take the five minute drive down to Lake Monroe, where the sky is even darker, so I can see many more stars. And as I watch them twinkle, the odds are overwhelming that I’m seeing, as it were, the homes of countless civilizations that communicate, reproduce, fight, discover, share, and play football. Maybe even baseball, if their intelligence is advanced enough.

And I will be in awe. My imagination will run wild. I’ll try to think about what those creatures look like. I’ll ponder the near-impossibility of humans ever visiting them. I’ll hope for the much more likely chance that we’ll exchange messages, perhaps soon.

Radio Telescope Array

“Are You There?”

The feeling I’ll have will easily be as profound as that of someone who marvels that god let that plane go down, with several hundred poor souls burned to a crisp and torn limb from limb, but decided, because he is loving, to spare one little tot.

This I guarantee: My awe will be far more holy than that of the football fan or the tight end who was certain god deigned that the Bears beat the Packers last night.

Spirit In The Sky

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” ” Richard Dawkins

OH, GOD

So, some god fetishist who got fired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for haranguing people with his myth-belief is suing NASA for wrongful termination.

David Coppedge says NASA tried to discipline him for spouting his fairy tale.

NASA says he created a hostile work environment for his underlings by laying Intelligent Design propaganda on them.

This is perfect, kiddies.

It’s the Battle of the Century. That is, the 11th Century versus the 21st Century.

Standing Tall Against Knowledge For A Thousand Years And Counting

Democritus, Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, and Sagan are all spinning in their graves. Hawking would spin if he could.

It’s god versus man in a cage match. The brain against the heart. Want a hint as to where I stand (as if you needed one)? The brain is the seat of thought; the heart is not. It’s a pump, dig?

I hope this lawsuit turns out to be as dramatic as the Scopes Monkey Trial some 90 years ago. I hope there’s a mouthpiece as deft and elequent as Clarence Darrow was. I hope NASA’s attorney puts Coppedge‘s lawyer on the witness stand. I can’t wait for the hologram movie about it all to come out in 50 years.

Who knows? Perhaps by that time we’ll have progressed so far as to tax churches. We may even have open atheists and agnostics running for high office. Our generals might not feel compelled to invoke the almighty to help us blow the brains out of enemy soldiers.

Nah.

I forgot; this is America.

COLLEGE MAN

My old neighbor Rod R. Blagojevich gave his last press conference as a free man outside his home in Chicago yesterday.

The former governor of Illinois now begins his long stay at the federal hotel in Colorado. Or, as Outfit bosses used to put it, college. — as in, “Paul ‘The Waiter’ Ricca is still da man in dis operation, but he’s in college right now. Curly Humphreys is workin’ his ass off tryin’ to get him paroled.”

It’s funny: that’s the one thing Blagojevich was never accused of — playing footsie with the Chicago Mob. That’s probably only because the Chicago Mob was finished by the time Blago took over the state. Over. History, baby.

All the old Mustache Petes were long dead. Those who had been known as the Young Turks were either dead, senile, or in college.

“The Last Supper” Photo Of Chicago Outfit Bosses (c. 1978)

Rod could have cleaned up had there been a lively Outfit to support him in his duties to the people of Illinois. The Outfit generally had county, state, and, on occasion, federal prosecutors in their back pockets. Judges and cops, too. Old Man Mayor Daley, the first pharaoh of Chicago, never made any bones about it — he had no choice but to work with the Outfit.

Now, thanks to the wonders of competitive capitalism, a Chicago mayor may work with any number of disciplined criminal organizations. There are, to name a few, the Latin Kings, the Vice Lords, and the Black P Stones. None of them, though, is as thorough and effective as the old Outfit.

None can point to their rolls and boast of a fixer as capable of gaming the political and justice system as Curly Humphreys.

Fixer Extraordinaire

I’ll bet Rod Blagojevich rues the passing of the good old days.

Anyway, Blagojevich met the press and a passel of chanting supporters on Francisco Avenue yesterday. It was a circus. And Rod was the clown.

You’d expect a guy facing a stiff prison sentence to act somewhat contrite. Hell, most people would have the good sense to fake it if they still harbored thoughts of the unfairness of it all.

Not Rod.

He sounded more like a man running for another term in office rather than a convicted felon about to start a term in the joint.

What — Me Worry?

“I believe,” he told the crowd, “I always, always, thought about what’s right for the people. And I am proud as I leave, and enter the next part of what is a dark and hard journey, that I can take with me the sense of accomplishment and a real belief that the things that I did as governor and the things that I did as a congressman actually helped real, ordinary people…. One thing I had a lot of was a desire to help average, ordinary people.”

Later, as he climbed into the car that would take him to O’Hare Airport and his flight to the federal pen, he said he had “a clear conscience and I have high, high hopes for the future.”

Wow.

Not a hint that he might have done one or two things differently during his term as the top influence peddler in Illinois. Not a breath that he even should have tempered his language, that maybe his faux tough guy, street wise lingo could have been misinterpreted. No.

“I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m gonna do it. And, and I can always use it.”

Blagojevich spent his last day as a free man telling reporters, neighbors, and supporters what a terrific servant of the people he’s always been.

Man.

I’ll tell you one thing I learned yesterday. Blagojevich’s defense attorney, Sam Adam Jr., blew his best shot to get his client off. He should have advised Rod R. Blagojevich to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Pencil Today:

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

So, I’m on the alert for lightning bolts directed at me right now because I hereby present one Penn Gillette, one of my fave people on Earth, rating the presidential candidates on their friendliness toward — cringe! — atheists.

I’m not really trying to cause trouble here (oh, alright, yes I am) but a little balance is in order, no?

The Fox News rightists had apoplexy a week and a half ago when President Obama neglected to mention the all-powerful sugar daddy during his annual Thanksgiving message to the nation. Those campaigning to become president and those fortunate — or unfortunate — enough to become one rarely miss an opportunity to thank their sky-dwelling BFF.

Anybody who hopes to become president has to believe in god, still, today, some 300 years after the Age of Enlightenment and nearly 130 years after Neitzsche pronounced, “Gott ist tot” (god is dead.)

Me? I’m looking for the first prez aspirant who, well, doesn’t believe.

There’s your balance.

WHO’S AMERICA’S BIGGEST LIAR IN 2011?

Hey, PolitiFact, the website that vets political statements and claims, has released its 2011 Lie of the Year Finalists. The lucky contestants include Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Facebook posters who claimed Republicans have proposed “zero job creation” legislation, and — horrors! — Barack Obama.

Go there and vote. It’s fun.

LOOK OVER YONDER

Here’s a good song for your Saturday morning, by Tommy James and the Shondells. It made the charts during that magical summer of 1969.

And just to show what a broad-minded fellow I am, it mentions, um, y’know, that big guy in the sky.

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