Atheist Problems

Ever since coming out atheist, I’ve noticed that people interact with me differently than they did before. And I interact with them differently.

As a result, I’ve found these extremely funny.

There’s one kind of atheist problem, like that posed by the most Reverend E.F. Briggs. (Because when E.F. Briggs talks, people tune out.) E.F. Briggs of the slogan: “Anti-God is Anti-American / Anti-American is Treason / Traitors lead to Civil War.” Apparently not believing in God is now a federal crime. Or at least sufficient cause for public lynching. On the other hand, who could ever feel truly threatened by a “lunatic atheist”? (A religious nut, that’s who.)

That’s not the kind of atheist problem I have in mind, though. I mean the kind that we normal atheists deal with everyday from our slightly-less-nutty religious culture.

I’ll tell you from the start, this is going to be deeply offensive. If you’re not an atheist, or you can’t take people making crude jokes referencing your beliefs, please go do something else now. Maybe go watch this year’s Christmas episode of Family Guy. Then you can come back here and these jokes will actually seem quite tame in comparison.

Or if you really want to know what it’s like to be an atheist…
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An Atheist in an Airplane

No one raised in a religious environment wants to come out atheist. Few people who grew up in the US would want to use that word. And when I finally told one of my close friends that I was an atheist, she said, “Oh no! You lost your faith?!” But after I explained exactly what I believed and why, her tone softened. “Oh, that’s pretty much what I think, too.”

Or as Julia Sweeney described it in her solo show Letting Go of God:

I think that my parents had been mildly disappointed when I’d said I didn’t believe in God any more, but being an atheist was another thing altogether.


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A Born Again Unbeliever

The last time I wrote to you, I was a Christian fundamentalist. Now, I’m not.

That’s not quite true. The last time I wrote to you, I still gave a nod to Christian fundamentalism. Now, I do not.

In April, that house of cards collapsed. And while the fundamentalist dogma runs deep, I think you’ll find I’m largely the same guy you knew, but hopefully new and improved.

This is my coming-out post.


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More Myths about Sex

(This is part 5—and the last part in a while—in the series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

We pick up this week with more myths about sex and relationships, especially that part about relationships.
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Myths about Sex

(This is part 4 in my series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

In the words of psychologist David Ley, “many of our beliefs about sexuality have been based on myths and subjective fears.”

Indeed, numerous myths about sex and relationships persistently circulate in religion and pop culture, and you’ve been exposed to both.

Here are some of the more significant myths that I’ve culled from my research. Unfortunately, it’s a very long list. I apologize for that, but I didn’t make up these myths; I’m just answering them. I’ve divided this list up into two parts. Next week, I’ll run part 2. Today, I want to start with this interesting tidbit, which almost sounds plausible…
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Regrets of Sorrow and Forgiveness

"Regret," by MistiqueStudio

“Re had been riding her dirt bike without a helmet, accelerating too fast, when she lost control and ran headlong into a tree. She had been killed instantly. And I had been out, almost losing my virginity, when the call had come in.”

That last sentence is a lie.

When I originally wrote it, I did not mean it to be a lie. I did not believe it was a lie. But now, with the benefit of hindsight, I believe I was misleading you.

In Love through the Eyes of an Idiot, I tell the story of my whirlwind affair with Tracy (not her real name). If you read that story, you might get the sense that she was a sex-crazed, skin-deep, mixed-up slut, who would have destroyed my life if I had let her get too close. The truth is that I probably would have destroyed her life, had she let me get too close.

I’m still a little sad that she did not.
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Intimacy and Marriage, and Sexual Ethics

(This is part 3 in my series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

Yes, you heard me right: Getting married has nothing to do with getting pregnant, and getting pregnant has only a passing connection to sex.

You might think then that I want you to have wanton intercourse with boys far and wide. And it is true that some people do just that. And some of them say they’re happy with that lifestyle. And I believe them. (Many of them also say that they’re unhappy about the way society demonizes them— but more about that next week.)

But that’s not exactly what I said. What I said was: much of what society has told you about marriage and teen pregnancy is misinformation, and I don’t want you to rely on it.

However, sex does go along with marriage.
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More Artwork: You’ve Come a Long Way

A girl, smiling, in thought

Almost 5 years ago, I posted some of my Little One Abbie’s artwork. Now that she’s a full-fledged high-schooler, calling her “Little One” feels a little creepy, and reminds me too much of Lwaxana Troi. (But I still sometimes do it anyway.)

Anyhoo, in the intervening years, she’s been posting lots of stuff on her page at DeviantArt. And so I figured it was time for an update. And so I sorted through some of her latest stuff, and picked out some of my favorites, and asked if that would be okay with her. And it was. And so here it is.
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It’s Not Just about Teen Pregnancy

(This is part 2 in my series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

There’s a story that continues to permeate even modern society. If you have sex, you might get pregnant, and that would be a disaster. After you get married—or in some versions of the story, after you’re an “adult”—then it’s okay to have sex.

(This is just one of the stories we tell about sex, and I’ll be going into other sex myths in another blog post.)

There’s obviously a kernel of truth in the story. But this story oversimplifies the truth so badly that you almost can’t even see it buried within the mythology. And so when you do get married, or become an “adult,” you’ll probably have no idea how to think about sex and to protect yourself from sexual risks.
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What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex

I disagree with many other Christians about sex.

Firstly, I think God wants us to be happy and prosperous. He created us to enjoy the world and our existence in it. And sex is part of that existence. To turn a phrase, sex was made for man, not man for sex.

Sex should be fun, and it should always be fun. If sex isn’t fun, you’re not doing it right. Sex should never be dangerous, shameful, painful, scary, dramatic— unless of course you add a little drama just for fun.

I want you to find all the excitement and joy in sex that I have, and much more.

But you may find it hard to sort out sexual issues, because we now live in a complex, diverse society, with ever more options. I believe this is a good thing, because ever more options means you have ever more power to control your own destiny, and find a life that makes you happy. But it also makes sex more difficult, because you have to understand more different techniques and technologies, and wrestle with more sexual issues.
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