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Episode 4: Partial Transcript

February 28, 2013 1 comment

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And now, the Scathing Atheist:

 

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s February 28th and when I asked for more reviews on iTunes I meant good reviews, but thanks anyway.

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from New York, New York, THIS is the Scathing Atheist.

On this fortnight’s episode:

  • A school board in Jackson, Ohio decides there’s nothing explicitly Christian about a picture of Christ,
  • Eli Bosnick will join me to try to fuck up the rhetorical meaning of the phrase “Is the Pope Catholic?”
  • And I’ll try to figure out what all these little knobs on my new mixer do,

But first, the diatribe:

Diatribe:

Today I’d like to talk about being the only atheist in a room full of theists.  It’s a diatribe I like to call “There is too a God, now pass the fucking string beans!”  Because that’s usually where it comes up.  It’ll be at some social event or a family gathering, you’re sitting around the table, minding your own business and suddenly those 7 fateful words’ll come up.

Somebody’ll say “So you don’t believe in God, huh?”

And you don’t want to have the conversation.  You don’t feel like playing “stump the atheist”.  You even try to distract them with something like “hey look, your kid’s on fire”, but it never works.  They’re in that zone.  They lean in really close and they put on their best “profound” face and then they’ll pose… “the challenge”.

The challenge usually come in the form of a question, and the question usually starts, “So how do you explain…”

And that’s where I stop them.  I’ll say, “Hey man, I’m gonna let you finish your question and everything, but before you do, I’d like to point out that my ability or inability to answer whatever question you’re about to ask has absolutely no bearing on the existence of God.  When I say that I don’t believe in God, I’m stating a lack of belief, not a claim of knowledge.  I’m not an expert on the origins of life or the cosmos any more than the next guy and failing to be so doesn’t disqualify me from atheism.  What’s more, whatever question you’re about to pose is also one for which you have no answer.  I know that you think you have the answer, but ‘my guy has super-powers times infinity’ doesn’t really count at all… but by all means, carry on.”

I don’t want to dissuade them, after all.  It’s pretty easy to argue with a Christian, since they only really have about three different arguments.  So they’ll throw out Pascal’s wager or the Lunatic, Liar or Lord shtick or the First Mover argument or whatever and I’ll refute it in whatever way I refute it.

Sometimes you’ll even get that “sophisticated theist”, you know, that one who went on that there internet and looked up ways to stump atheists?  And that’s always fun because you get to hear them try to pronounce words like “abiogenesis” and “flagellum”.  And you can refute these points too if you want to, but there’s usually no point.  Most of the time they don’t even understand the argument they’re regurgitating enough to know when you’ve countered it.

So you sit there suffering the slings and arrows of their tortured logic and you’ll come out on top, but eventually the tone of the argument will change altogether.  It’ll no longer be a rational discussion on any level.  It’ll turn into something like “Well I don’t want to live in a world without God,” or, “There is too a God, now pass the fucking string beans!”

And that’s when the real nature of the argument comes out.  That’s when it becomes obvious that this conversation was never about logic, it was never about reason, it was about emotion.  It wasn’t about the world you observe, it was about the world you want to observe.

Eventually you’ll have to come to understand that there is no logical reason to believe in God.  If there was, atheists would believe in God.  We got where we got by using logic and believe me, if there was a shred of evidence to suggest that I get to live on for eternity in space Disney Land, I’d take that deal even if it meant I couldn’t have fish on Fridays.

But even knowing that logic will never work, you’re still going to try to employ it you silly little Christians that stand between me and a second helping of mashed potatoes.  So I’d like to make a request of you.  Before you bring your “logical” argument to me, I want you to take a deep look at it and ask yourself, “If this was evidence going the other way, in other words, if this was offered as proof that God doesn’t exist, would it sway you at all?”

If I walked up to you and said something like, “I’m gonna prove to you that God doesn’t exist.  Now let me tell you about the bacterial flagellum.” Would you listen to anything else I had to say at that point?  And if the flagellum evidence ended up swinging the other way, would you give up your belief in God altogether?  Are you subscribing to all the flagellum blogs and newsletter so you can know for sure if this God thing holds water?

You’re never going to win an argument with an atheist by using logic.  We’re just better at it.  That’s kind of our thing.

You have to admit going in that yours is not the rational argument.  If you insist on arguing with atheists, at least be honest with yourself about where your beliefs come from.  And I’ll give you a hint, it’s not your brain.

Headlines:

Joining us for the headlines this fortnight is Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to inform?

Hello, Noah Lugeons.  As you said, I’m Heath Enwright . . . and there’s nothing clever about our names.  

Now, before we jump into our lead story tonight, I should note that the Pope is still stepping down. Of course, we’ve known that shit for weeks, but that hasn’t stopped media outlets everywhere from covering it nonstop as though it somehow remained newsworthy even after everyone knew it.  In fact, I’ve spent two weeks combing through news items for this segment and, like far too many altar boys in the past, I’ve been up to my balls in bishops and cardinals the entire time.

So what follows are the few non-papacy related nuggets I could dig up in that morass of ass-rapists and ass-rapist enablers.

In our lead story tonight, the House of Representatives recently passed HR 592, a bill that would allow taxpayer money to be allocated to houses of worship as part of FEMA federal disaster grants.  The bill, which passed by an overwhelming 282 vote margin, was created in response to recent caterwauling by Christian Leaders over FEMA’s refusal to grant churches and synagogues relief money after Superstorm Sandy.

When FEMA abandoned black people after Katrina, I gave them a pass.  But now they’re neglecting Christians and Jews.  A line has to be drawn somewhere.          

Amen brother.  There are, of course, numerous compelling reasons not to grant federal money to churches, but strangely Christian leaders have chosen not to address any of them and instead opt for a policy of crying, whining, bitching and flailing about like wounded animals.

Take pastor, author and latenight-accident-attorney-infomercial clone Paul De Vries’ recent Op-Ed in the Christian Post.  Rather than tackling the constitutional and logical concerns one might have against giving taxpayer money to organizations that don’t pay taxes, he instead chooses to obscure the issue with a series of points that can easily be refuted in three sentences or less.  Are you up to the challenge, Heath?

Game on.

#1      “…[the policy] treats churches as outsiders” After all, why should a groups devotion to god make any difference when it comes to public policy?

1.  That’s why they should be paying property taxes, rather than being treated differently in public policy because of devotion to god, and getting a tax exemption.  
2.  If they were paying taxes this whole time, they would – in turn – be eligible to receive federal disaster aid.
3.  That’s how taxes work.  .  

#2       “This ‘discrimination’ could open the door to “other risky discrimination”.  Will the government stop providing churches with firefighters and police officers?

1.  They should stop providing them with police, fire fighters . . . roads, water, electricity, freedom of speech, and any other government-provided privileges, unless they pay taxes.   
2.  Again . . . that’s how taxes work, and this is a basic principle of organized society.
3.  And even if they did pay all the same taxes as everyone else, churches are clearly not the most important thing to rebuild.  

#3      “…[the policy] ignores the immensely positive roles churches have already played after Superstorm Sandy”, and then he lists how many millions of dollars churches donated and raised for victims.

1.  Don’t they justify their tax exemptions by citing their benefit to society?!?  
2.  They’re honestly trying to say, “The reason we should get tax-funded aid without paying taxes is the same reason we don’t pay taxes.”  
3.  That’s like saying that a disputed book is valid because in several passages within the disputed book, it indicates that the disputed book is valid.

Not to mention that “look how much money we had to give away” is a shitty argument when you’re asking for money.

Is their an entire bad tautology department at Christianity HQ?

And finally,  My personal favorite, #4: “blocking FEMA grants to churches is to pretend to be ignorant of the continuing soul care needed by the many and various victims…”

I guess we can always feed starving children with the bullshit the church consistently feeds parishioners.  
And of course, deep-fried figurative cannibal wafers would be good soul food.  
You’d think that somebody with a good batting average could have been praying for the hurricane to go offshore: If that praying shit works, forget the church volunteerism after the storm, and try some simple fucking preventative medicine, idiots.   

Well, they’ll probably say that the gay marriage interfered with their prayer frequency.

Can’t imagine a lot of people needed blankets, jackets, and bibles.  If you gave bibles to homeless people in NYC after Sandy, they would have been burned in trash cans, just like the bibles they started with before the storm.

One can only hope.  Anyway, the bill will now go to the Senate where we expect it will die quietly.

Like the way god died.

De Vries Op-Ed: http://www.christianpost.com/news/femas-ugly-superstorm-sandy-policy-no-churches-allowed-89755/

Taking a page out of the Catholic playbook, a Baptist group has fired the independent investigators that were looking into child sex-abuse allegations against a member of the group mere weeks before the findings of their investigation were scheduled for release.

The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, or ABWE has terminated the investigative firm “Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment” or “GRACE”.  They cite a laundry list of general complaints about GRACE’s investigative technique, especially, one would speculate, the ones that result in them finding massive culpability within the group.

GRACE has issued a response to the allegations, pointing out that the ABWE refused to meet with them to address the alleged poor-practices that led to their eventual termination, repeatedly breached their contract by refusing to disclose documents and make witnesses available for interview, wantonly delayed the investigation and have the far lamer acronym.

Reminds me a little bit of the internal affairs department within the Gestapo.  I think they were called Hitler Examines Internal Legality, or HEIL.  They made sure that atrocities were carried out with dignity and GRACE.   Brought it back full circle – nailed the joke.  Seriously though, the Nazis would probably have gotten in big trouble if they hadn’t disbanded HEIL right before the release of their controversial report on the morality of holocausts.  I’m led to believe that HEIL did, in fact, uncover one or two questionable practices.   

Main Story: http://www.christianpost.com/news/us-missions-group-fires-child-sex-abuse-investigators-claims-process-fatally-flawed-90100/
GRACE’s response: http://netgrace.org/wp-content/uploads/GRACE-Response-February-10-2013.pdf

In other news, Heisman Trophy winner, Christian Evangelist and former 3rd string New York Jets mascot Tim Tebow has cancelled a planned April appearance at the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  The church, which is led by controversial pastor Robert Jeffress, is decidedly anti-gay, anti-Islam and anti-Mormon.

Tebow, who claims to have only recently realized that this church is even more ridiculous than average, announced the cancellation on Twitter, but added “I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day, except the ones who are fans of whatever unfortunate team has me on its roster.”

If god wanted Tebow to be a star QB, and big spokesman for religion, why did he give him the throwing ability of Helen Keller’s less-coordinated little sister?  
He looks like a drunk redneck throwing a folding chair at a bowling alley fight.
He looks like he’s throwing a gallon of milk, but without the container.  

This is only the latest piece of evidence that suggests that Tebow is as bad at picking PR events as he is throwing a fucking football.  You’ll recall that in 2010 Tebow appeared in an ad where he encouraged women to ignore any doctor who said they had high risk pregnancies because “what do those doctor’s know? Just look how good I turned out.”

We can’t deny that without the Tebow fetus avoiding responsible parenthood planning, the Jets certainly wouldn’t have been able to convert those 3 fake punts, salvaging a 6-10 season in 2012.   

And I apologize to all our international listeners who could give a fuck less about all these American football references.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/21/tim-tebow-pulls-out-of-speaking-at-dallas-church/

Sticking with the regional focus, Oklahoma becomes the latest in a dishearteningly long list of state’s that are pushing some cretinous law that would give creationism a foot in the door of public schools.  Republican State Representative Gus Blackwell has introduced a bill which he, of course, vociferously insists has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, claiming [quote] “I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks”.

And in my mind, it’s about damn time somebody stood up for the right of students to ignore all those realities in the curriculum.  What gives textbooks the authority to determine what is and is not a fact?  Other than school boards, textbook guidelines, knowledgeable authors, federal and state educational mandates and rigorous review by experts, I mean.

Can’t students study falsehoods at church like they always have?  Isn’t there already a chapter in the science texts at Sunday school, that’s discusses in detail, many baseless claims about creation?

But you don’t understand.  Blackwell promises with all his heart, so help him die, that this bill is in no way informed by his religious views or the multiple decades he spent working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Is he claiming that he intentionally erased his subconscious?

That probably wouldn’t be the dumbest thing he’s claimed.

Oklahoma Creationism Bill: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/02/oklahoma-hr1674-science-evolution-climate-change

In other news, a horrible bitch is suing New York’s Department of Education because they did not grant a religious exemption to vaccination for her five year old daughter.  Proving definitively that there’s no stupid like religious stupid, she argues that [quote] “To inject invasive and unnatural substances into [god’s] divine creation is showing a lack of faith in God and His way”.

I forget which verse, but I’m pretty sure the bible does eloquently suggest, that law suits against public school districts are a good show of faith in god and his way.

I believe it’s in the book of Macabee-otch

Is it? Could’ve sworn it was in the Penta-douche.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/02/15/catholic-mom-sues-new-york-city-so-she-doesnt-have-to-vaccinate-her-kid/

And finally tonight, Jackson Ohio has become a central front in the battle for the proper separation of church and state.  A recent lawsuit by the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation charges that a portrait of Jesus that hangs in a public middle school illegally promotes religion and stands in direct violation of the first amendment.

Those Jews are always rubbing our smaller noses in the fact that they had Jesus first, aren’t they?

Rather than politely acknowledging their error and removing the portrait, school officials have dug in their heels and cobbled together an argument so disingenuous you almost expect them to use the word “quantum” at some point.

Damn godless hippies trying to take down our jesus poster.  Somebody better stand in the way of this progress . . .
Is that approximately their argument?

Even worse, I think.  They say that portion of the wall is reserved for clubs within the school to place pictures of “inspirational figures central to the club’s meaning and purpose”.

To get me pumped up before a big game, in my locker, I would always keep a little figurine of the sports god named Baal.  I think he stood for good sportsmanship.  I really idolized that little guy.

Well that’s, of course, the “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t, pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain” legal defense, but the layman’s defense is the same ones that worked so well when it was used to justify slavery, oppose women’s suffrage, rationalize prejudice against gays and validate circumcision: “It’s been there a really long time”.

http://news.yahoo.com/ohio-town-latest-focus-religion-legal-debate-204126487.html

That’ll do it for headlines, when we come back I’ll be joined by unlikely papal candidate Eli Bosnick.

Calendar:

I made a request in last fortnight’s calendar for help finding a good online source for atheist, humanist and skeptical events in Australia and I got a few responses, but I really have to single out one listener in particular, @workMX on Twitter seemed to take this as a personal challenge and helped out a lot, so I decided that on this episode I’d devote the calendar section entirely to March Meet Ups in the land down under.

On March 13th – The Brisbane Rationalists are meeting from 6:30 to 8 and encourage anyone who enjoys rational conversation in an informal environment to join them… Although I’m sure if you show up in a tux they won’t turn you away.  The monthly meet up will be held at the Coffee Club on Albert Street.

http://www.somewheretothink.com.au/events/brisbane-rationalists-2013-03-13/

On March 20th we have a few events worth noting – The Central Victorian Atheists will be holding their monthly gathering at the Albion Hotel in Kyneton. Or Keyenton. Or whatever. I’ve gotten some mixed advice on the pronunciation there.  All free thinkers in the area up for an evening of godlessness are encouraged to attend, regardless of how they pronounce it.

http://www.somewheretothink.com.au/events/central-victorian-atheists-2013-03-20/

Also on March 20th in Adelaide the Humanist Society of South Australia will be holding their monthly meet up as they do on the third Wednesday of every month.  The meeting runs from 7 to 9 at the Weatsheaf Hotel

http://www.somewheretothink.com.au/events/humanist-society-of-south-australia-monthly-meeting-2013-03-20/

Moving 1400 kilometers due east, on March 24th Sean Faircloth, author of “Attack of the Theocrats” will be appearing with AC Grayling and other secular speakers at the Sydney Opera House.  This appearance will kick off a national “Reclaiming a Secular Australia” tour organized by the Rationalist Society of Australia and the New Zealand Association of Humanists and Rationalists.  Additional appearances include:

March 26th at Melbourne University

March 27th at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute

March 28th at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne

For a full calendar of appearances, including stops in Perth and New Zealand, check the link on the shownotes for this episode at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

http://www.somewheretothink.com.au/events/reclaiming-a-secular-australia-sydney/

That’ll do it for the Calendar this fortnight.  On our next episode we’ll turn our eyes to Austin and breakdown the schedule of events for the American Atheist’s 50th annual meeting, which I hope to be attending.

As always, if you’re involved with or aware of an atheist, secular or skeptical event that’s in need of some free publicity, feel free to email me or send me a Tweet.  You’ll find all the contact info, along with links for all the events covered on this segment, at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

Feedback:

I wanted to respond to a couple of quick emails before I closed out the show.  First a correction: how quickly we forget. The Pope announced his retirement and within days I’m already forgetting the asshole’s name, apparently.  On Episode 3 I accidentally called him “John” Ratzinger.  Quick slip of the tongue while my mind was focused on a pretty crappy “John Ratzenburger” joke.  Sorry about that.  Kind of kills one’s credibility when one does shit like forgetting the Pope’s name.

Anyway, on to a more serious correction.  I woke up to a pretty compelling comment on the blog on Sunday.  John took me to task for repeatedly calling Ex-Benedict a Nazi in the last couple of episodes.  As he points out (and as I will readily admit), mandatory membership in the Hitler Youth does not a Nazi make.  But rather than frame this simply as an ad hominem, John hits me where he knows it will hurt.  It’s not just an ad hominem, but a lazy one.  After all, why go after a spurious connection to Nazi-ism when one could just as easily point to all the horrible shit that he actually did without being forced to by the state?

So I apologize for calling that sexist, homophobic, child rape enabling, child rape ensuring, genocidally anti-condom, thoughtless, heartless, antiquated, purposeless, money-laundering, hypocritical, superstitious, felonious Palpatine lookalike a Nazi.  It won’t happen again.

That does it for our show but if you want more, there’s more.  The interview with Eli went on a lot longer than I anticipated and when I cut it down for the show I left a lot of great stuff on the cutting room floor.  If you want to hear the full version, check out Scathing Atheist (dot) com and click on the “Extras” tab at the top of the page.

I want to thank Heath and Eli for joining me and I want to wish Eli good luck in his bid for the papacy.  I encourage you to follow him on Twitter if for no other reason than to see pictures of him wandering around Manhattan on Ash Wednesday with a smiley face drawn on his forehead.

We’ll be back in two weeks with our Countdown to Austin Edition.  Between now and then, check out our erratically published blog and follow us on Twitter.  If you liked the show, help us spread the word by leaving a good review on iTunes.  If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info at Scathing Atheist (dot) Com.  All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

 

Episode 4 is Up

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

by Noah Lugeons

We just polished off episode 4.  It’s recorded, edited, processed, published and awaiting your approval.  You can get it through iTunes (which I recommend if for no other reason than it ups our showing and gets the show in front of more people), but if you can’t wait for all that synching bullshit, you can also listen to it now by clicking here.  And in case you haven’t picked up on this yet, this show is certainly NOT SAFE FOR WORK unless you work in a really cool place.

Enjoy.

Episode 2 Transcript:

January 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the world’s top-selling spiritual supplement, “5 Hour Piety”.  So if you’re desperate to go to church but you’re still carrying the stench of Saturday night’s heroin, Wild Turkey and underage hooker sweat, reach for a bottle of Five Hour Piety.  Hours of virtue now, no Jeremiah 2:13 feeling later.  And NOW, the SCATHING ATHEIST.

INTRO

It’s Thursday, It’s January 31st and it’s hard out there for a Pope.  I’m your host Noah Lugeons and THIS is the Scathing Atheist.  On this fortnight’s episode, we’ll find a catholic priest who might be going to jail for something other than molesting children, we’ll look forward to the big game and figure out why Christian athletes always forget to thank god for helping them lose and Heath Enwright will join us for a seven and a half minute segment that includes no fewer than 85 poop jokes.  But first, the Diatribe…

DIATRIBE

The numbers are in and once again in 2012, the world’s third largest religion was “Give me a fucking break”.  In the recent pew survey on the global religious landscape, roughly one in six people identify with no religion at all; which puts the worldwide number of non-religious at well over a billion.

Numbers in the US are actually significantly better than the worldwide average.  About one-fifth of Americans now claim “no religion”.  That’s an increase of 25% over the last five years and it’s up from basically zero when they introduced color TV.

And as bad as this looks for the imaginary friends camp, it’s actually much worse.  When you break down the demographics, the non-believers are more plentiful the younger you go.  Nearly a third of Americans between 18 and 29 have kicked the habit-habit and the numbers are likely even higher for the under-18 category.  Add to that the fact that religious people have a head start on senility and you can see where this is going.

And make no mistake, the divine-osaurs have seen it too.  Their pathetic attempts to rationalize away the preface to their obituary are clogging the blogosphere like digital-cholesterol.  They point to signs in some polls (but not others) that show that the rise in irreligion might be leveling off.  They go all Orwellian and try to make “no religion” somehow mean “still pretty religious”.  They rant and rave and try desperately to maintain some modicum of relevance in a world that’s already been to the heavens and brought back pictures.

But to be fair, I’ve seen a few atheists misrepresenting these data as well so let’s be clear on exactly what the numbers do and don’t say.  In the recent Gallup poll, they asked respondents “What is your religious preference?” and then offered these choices:

  • Protestant
  • Roman Catholic
  • Mormon
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Another Religion, or
  • No Religion.

When faced with that question in 2012, 17.8% of people answered “No Religion” or refused to answer.  And according to Pew’s annual study, we’re actually doing better.

The current media narrative on the “nones” is that most of these people aren’t atheists, but rather seekers, doubters and temporary apostates.  But the fact remains that they answered “no religion” and the effective definition of atheist is “person with no religion”.  Sure, these numbers include agnostics and those people who say that they’re “spiritual” and then can’t say exactly what the fuck that means.  Only about 2% of people are actually willing to identify themselves as “atheists”.

Of course, a lot of the noncommittal are dictionary atheists.  They’re people like Neil Degrasse Tyson who is quick to say that he’s not an atheist, but he doesn’t remotely believe in god or a spirit or any of those things one needs to believe in to not be an atheist.  A lot of these people are atheists that simply don’t want to get lumped in with assholes like me.

Some are just atheists who’ve been convinced that there’s some intellectual nobility in riding the fence.  They think that agnosticism is the logical default position when it comes to God.  But look, I’m not willing to say with absolute “gnostic” certainty that I’m not going to get raped by bigfoot tonight, so maybe in a technical sort of way I’m agnostic about it, but I’m certainly not living my life with non-consensual sasquatch-sodomy as even the remotest concern.  So am I a bigfoot-rape agnostic or a big-foot rape atheist?  And when the chips are down, is there any difference?

But as much as we make in the godless community about the technical differences between agnostics and atheists, that’s not really where the nomenclature becomes a problem.  I call it the “agnostic gambit”.  What many of them are saying is “I’m an atheist as long as it doesn’t piss anybody off.  I’m an atheist but I don’t want to argue about it.  I’m an atheist as long as it doesn’t interfere with my chances of getting hired (slash) promoted (slash) laid.”

I understand where that comes from, but it has to change.

When I look at that 18% of non-religious, non-atheist respondents, I see opportunity.  I see the target market for our devangelism.  I see a group of people who are ready to have the conversation, ready to embrace the certainty, ready to hear exactly what we have to say.  We may only be 2%, but keep in mind that that’s still six million people.

You’re never going to convert a devout 45 year old evangelical with a logical discussion, but a twenty-something wavering skeptic is ripe for reason.  We shouldn’t be ashamed to devangelize.  We shouldn’t hesitate to defend ours as the only logically coherent position.

I’m not suggesting you go out and knock on doors, hand out blank pamphlets and ask people “Are you prepared for the eventuality that you just die?” (Although incidentally, if you do, please send me the youtube link.).  What I am suggesting that next time you hear someone say that they’re “spiritual” or “agnostic” or whatever, don’t be afraid to put on your best salesman smile and give them the pitch for atheism.

There’s a marketplace out there where people are selling “truth” every day.  I’m just saying that I think the people who are actually telling the truth should get in on it.

Global Numbers: http://www.pewforum.org/global-religious-landscape-exec.aspx

National Numbers: http://www.pewforum.org/unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

HEADLINES

Hoping that the 4th time’s the charm, Missouri State Representatives have resurrected a piece of unconstitutional legislation that was already defeated in 2012 and twice in 2004.  House Bill 291, or “The Missouri Standard Science Act” was introduced on January 23rd and seeks to require “the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design”.

Arguing that requiring science class to carry equal amounts of science and religious bullshit is something of a nationwide trend with Missouri joining Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma in introducing similar bills.

Lawmakers unconvincingly argue that there’s nothing religious about discussing religious theories in science class, so apparently the “not lying commandment” is less important than the not believing in biology one.

http://ncse.com/news/2013/01/intelligent-design-bill-missouri-0014690

Not to be outdone, Arizona Republicans have proposed a law that would withhold a graduating high school student’s diploma unless he or she took an oath swearing fealty to God.

To be fair, the oath is actually the Uniformed Services Oath, which ends with the lines “So Help Me God”.  Of course, it also includes the words “I take this obligation freely”, so one way or the other it’s a pretty stupid thing to require people to say.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/25/arizona-republicans-propose-bill-that-would-not-allow-atheists-to-graduate-high-school/

Archdiocese of Milwaukee is seeking Bankruptcy protection.  Spokesperson, oh, I’m sorry, they’re Catholic… Spokesman Jerry Topczewski says that their savings, reserves and investment earnings have all been exhausted and it will be unable to pay its monthly operating expenses beginning in April.

Some observers cite the poor economy for the church’s troubles, others cite lower church attendance.  Still others point to the more than 9 MILLION dollars the archdiocese has paid in legal fees and settlements in relation to an unending stream of sexual abuse litigation.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/archdiocese-of-milwaukee_n_2550425.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles made headlines when recently released documents prove that higher ups in the church went to great lengths to cover-up instances of child sexual abuse and worked to ensure that the abuse continued by moving priests into new, unsuspecting congregations.

In a related story, the sun rose in the east yesterday.

http://www.goddiscussion.com/106609/los-angeles-church-shields-child-molesting-priests-covered-up-incidents/

In other “What-the-Fuck-is-wrong-with-Catholic-Priests?” news, Monsignor Kevin Wallin was arrested in a drug bust in Connecticut on January 3rd.  Authorities allege that this 61 year old, cross-dressing priest was selling upwards of $9,000 worth of Meth a week, laundering the money through his North Haven sex-toy emporium.

If convicted, he could face life in prison, where his experience with cross-dressing and sex-toys should be well appreciated.

http://www.goddiscussion.com/106510/alleged-meth-dealing-priest-arrested-in-connecticut-in-drug-ring-bust-liked-sex-in-rectory-according-to-sources/

Proving that you don’t have to be Catholic to be a conspiratorial pedophile, Hasidic leader Nechemya Weberman was sentenced last week to 103 years in prison for 59 counts of criminal sexual acts, abuse and child endangerment.

A popular and influential leader in the ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect, Weberman was convicted of abusing a girl over a three year period in a Brooklyn neighborhood where he worked as an unlicensed religious counselor.

After years of trying to bribe, discredit and bully the accuser, the Satmar community, which largely stood with the child-torturing rapist in the belief that such things should be dealt with inside the community, was ultimately unable to cover up the crime.

This case gives new hope to the unknown number of abuse victims in the community that are still seeking justice.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/22/new-york-hasidic-leader-gets-103-years-for-abuse/

In other legal news, the Supreme Court has declined last Tuesday to hear the case of three North Carolina men given excessive sentences by a religious zealot (slash) judge.  Brothers Josiah and Andrew Deyton and friend Jonathon Koniak plead guilty to 11 counts of armed robbery with a deadly weapon.   Their heist netted about $3000.  During the robbery a gun was discharged, but nobody was hurt.

They were sentenced to between 53 and 71 years in prison.  The reason for the extreme length of the sentence was, or rather, most certainly was not, the fact that the three chose as their target the Ridgeview Presbyterian Church in Bakersville, North Carolina.

Apparently the Supreme Court believes that the judge’s religious feelings were not a factor in his harsh judgment, despite the fact that during the sentencing he was quoted as saying, “You didn’t just steal money from those people.  You took God’s money.  You took the Lord’s money.”  This revelation, in my mind, would suggest that it was a victimless crime, but apparently the judge felt differently.

http://news.yahoo.com/did-judge-insert-religious-views-case-supreme-court-163339659.html

The Supreme Court also declined hearing the case of Rob Sherman, an atheist activist who was trying to block the state of Illinois from appropriate $20,000 of tax payer money to restore a giant cross that sits atop Southern Illinois’ highest peak.

Apparently the justices also see nothing religious about a gaudy, 11-story, 63 foot wide, fully illuminated symbol of the Christian faith that can be seen from 50 miles away.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/24/after-lengthy-battle-supreme-court-declines-atheists-case-rules-in-favor-of-illinois-politician-to-give-20000-to-christian-group/

And now it’s time for an update on the number one threat facing humanity today.  Montage of crazy You-Tube preachers, would you care to guess what it is? {Sound insert} No, I’m sorry, Condoms was the right answer.  We were looking for Condoms.

In the Vatican’s indefatigable effort to defeat common sense contraception in over-populated parts of the world, the church is now attacking a new law in the Philippines that would provide free access to contraception to every citizen.

Luckily for the Philippines, the Catholic Church isn’t in charge and the people are pushing back against this stone-age dictate.  Speaking to a reporter from the Calgary Herald, 30-year-old roadside vendor Giselle Labadan summed it up better than I could ever hope to, saying “I have prayed before not to have another child, but the condom worked better.”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/18/in-the-philippines-the-catholic-church-is-hastening-its-own-demise/

A recent study from the California based Barna group shows that a majority of Americans are worried that religious freedoms will erode in the next 5 to 10 years.  If you pair it down to only the religious respondents, a slight majority say that religious freedoms have already eroded.  This is interesting because that’s not an opinion based thing.  It’s either true or it isn’t.  And it isn’t.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/most-americans-think-religious-freedom-fast-declining-in-us-88542/

Atheist Census

http://www.atheistcensus.com/

That’s it for headlines, when we come back, we’ll discuss one of the most controversial theories in all of Christian Apologetics.

CALENDAR

It’s time now for the Atheist Calendar portion of the show.  I promised on the last episode that we’d be covering some international festivals and conventions on this episode and I’m a man of my word.  We’ll get started with a couple of Skepti-Camp events.  If you’ve never been to one of these events, well, join the club.  I’ve hear good things, though, so even having never been to one, I feel confident in highly recommending them.

We’ll start out down under because who couldn’t use a little summer right in the middle of winter?  On February 9th in the beautiful Aireys Inlet just southwest of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road Skeptics are hosting the Surfcoast Summer Skepticamp.  Sun, surf, science and secular skepticism in the middle of February… if anything’s worth a 20 hour flight, that might just be it.

http://www.eventbrite.com.au/event/5064686614/eorg

If you’ll be in the wrong hemisphere for that one or just prefer cold and ice to warmth and sand, perhaps you can make it to Skepticamp Ottawa on Febraury 24th.  It’ll start at 1 pm and run until 6.  The day will consist of a series of 15 minute talks by a variety of skeptics with the final lineup still being hashed out.

http://www.skepticamp.org/wiki/SkeptiCamp_Ottawa_2013

On the weekend of April 13th we’ve got an all-star event in Manchester, England.  The QED is a two day conference on Science and Skepticism and will feature a who’s-who of atheist and secular speakers including (but not limited to) Ben Goldacre, Lawrence Krauss, Natalie Haynes and the paragon of gnu-atheism, Richard Dawkins.  Unfortunately this one’s already sold out, so if you’re just hearing about it now, it’s way too late.

http://qedcon.org/

We’ve got two big events in May.  For my German speaking listeners, you can check out the 22nd Skeptics Congress in Cologne from May 9th to the 11th.

http://www.gwup.org/

For those who prefer their atheism in English, we have “Imagine No Religion 3” on the following weekend in Kamloops, British Columbia.  This event features Dan Dennett, DJ Grothe, Mr. Deity and some people whose names don’t start with D as well.

http://inr3.eventbrite.ca/

Finally, beginning on June 7th and running to the 9th, we’ve got the British Humanists Association Annual Convention in Leeds.  They’re still hammering out the lineup, and, of course, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more about this one.

http://bhaconference.org.uk/

As always, you can find more information, including links to the homepage for each of these events on the show-notes for this episode at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

BIG-GAME PRAYER ADVICE (full version)

Heath Enwright will be joining be momentarily for an apologetics segment that’ll include the classiest run of poop jokes in Podcasting history, but first I thought we’d turn our attention to the Big Game coming up on Sunday.

There are three things I feel confident expecting: Some elusive play-making from San Francisco’s dynamic sophomore quarterback; some high speed, brutal hits from the rejuvenated Ravens defense and some egocentric Christian athletes thanking God when they do well and then forgetting all about him when they lose.

Of course, many people see thanking God for their success as a humble gesture and I’m sure that’s how the majority of these athletes see it as well.  But to me, it’s the quintessence of arrogance to think that an all-powerful, all-knowing, father-of-all-things would have chosen to favor you over the defensive linemen during your touchdown run.  After all, isn’t it this same “God likes me better” attitude that justifies all the wars religion starts?

I sympathize with the religious athlete, though.  I can understand what it must be like to have your whole career dependent on a series of ultimately chaotic plays where centimeters can be the difference between mediocrity and glory.  A wide receiver can practice 12 hours a day in the off-season, study tape for weeks before the game, perfect his routes and know every play backwards and forwards, but none of that helps if the Quarterback overthrows him or the corner makes a spectacular play on a well-thrown ball.  All his preparation can be rendered worthless by a mistake of less than an inch, but what’s more, it doesn’t have to be his mistake.

So, when we’re faced with a situation that we can’t control, many of us turn to magic and bullshit in a fruitless attempt to control it anyway.  The whole institution of religion is built on exactly that so it’s no wonder that a lot of these people turn to God and it’s no wonder why most of these teams have a prayer before the game.  You can’t actually control every aspect of the game, so you might as well pretend that you can then pretend that you did and then put it out of your mind.

Sometimes this backfires, sure.  If you actually start believing this shit you’ll accidentally start wars, inter-factional bigotry, oppression of women and minorities, opposition to science, fear of gays and suicide bombings.  And of course, at best it’s a waste of time, so your best bet is to accept that praying is stupid and move on, but some people are clearly unwilling to do that.

But even amongst those of us who have, sometimes sports can be the exception.  I’ve heard an atheist football fanatic chanting to the screen, “Interception… Interception… or just sack that bastard and knock them out of field goal range at least!”  Now what is that if not a prayer?  Sure, he might not say, “Please God, just that bastard and knock them out of field goal range in Jesus name, Amen”, but it’s the same basic concept.  Of course, the atheist probably doesn’t think that his chant has any magical powers or anything, but he still does it.  Or she.  But probably he.

And think of all the silly little superstitions that sports still bring out in people.  How many otherwise rational skeptics start crossing their fingers and turning their hats inside out when their team is down?  How many generally rational or at least semi-rational athletes stop shaving or changing their socks (slash) underwear in some vain attempt to dupe fate into favoring them?

Now, obviously, I don’t believe in any of this crap or I wouldn’t be qualified to host this podcast.  I tried out every stupid religion or pseudo-religion I could find for a while and found that science was the only thing that seemed less like a complete load of shit as I learned more about it.  I cast away the demons of faith and magic a long time ago, but along the way, I did learn an awful lot about it.

And of course, the majority of people in this country and this world still do believe in this gobbledygook.  They believe that somehow that some inter-dimensional, omnipotent space man will personally reach down from heaven and directly influence the outcome of what even I as a football fanatic will admit is a pretty silly competition.  They believe that while he can’t seem to be bothered to end all the wars or cure all the diseases or do any of those things one would expect even the most derelict of inter-dimensional, omnipotent space men to do, he will nevertheless find the time to see to it that Ray Rice hit’s that first down marker or that Michael Crabtree gets both feet down inbounds.

Because I’m an atheist, of course, there’s nothing “absolute” about my beliefs.  I have a pretty scientific approach to the world and I try to maintain the ability to change even my most cherished beliefs if new evidence appears that contradicts them.  And while I don’t hold out any “hope” that God exists, I am willing to occasionally grant, for rhetorical purposes, that the possibility of him existing are greater than absolute zero.

So I figured that as a person who (a) knows a little bit about a lot of religions, (b) doesn’t believe in any of them and can thus speak from a detached perspective and (c) is willing to grant for rhetorical purposes that the possibility of God’s existence is non-zero, I’m uniquely qualified to offer the religious and otherwise superstitious folks of the world some advice if they’re going to be doing any pre-Superbowl praying.

  1. Pray with Pizazz – You figure, if there is a God (and there isn’t), he’s getting pelted with a million contradictory prayers before a big game like this.  You gotta make your prayer stand out.  Iambic pentameter is a must but if you really want to get his attention, make that shit rhyme.  He’ll appreciate the effort.
  2. Be specific – If you’ve ever seen any of those angel movies (and for your sake I hope you haven’t) you’ll know that God’s a trick little fucker when it comes to teaching us larger lessons and what-not.  Make it clear that you want the Ravens to win, but you want them to cover the 3 and a half point spread as well.
  3. Don’t Pray to Jesus – I know, I know, you’re Christian and praying to Jesus is kind of your thing, but trust me on this one.  Everybody and their mother are praying to Jesus and he’s not even a football fan.  So fifty million people pray to Jesus and each of them gets one fifty millionth of his devotion.  But if you’re praying to the Gurzil, Alala or the Etruscan God “Larau”, you’ve probably got their undivided attention.  And those dudes love some pigskin.  And that lead me to…
  4. Pick the Right God – It’s not going to do you much good to pray for a Niners victory if you’re praying to a God who’s a Baltimore fan, right?  Now clearly you never really know who a God is pulling for, but you can make some pretty educated guesses, right?  I mean, if you’re a Ravens fan, pray to Odin.  He loves Ravens.  Seriously, just ask Huginn and Muninn.  Who are Huginn and Muninn? Odin’s fucking Ravens.
  5. Burn Some Shit – Seriously, go all out.  Don’t just put two hands together.  You need to inscribe a circle of salt on the floor, burn some incense in a copper bowl, sacrifice a rabbit and whip yourself to you bleed.  I can’t restate this enough: Everybody is praying.  You’ve got to be praying harder.
  6. Spread the Love Around – Why pray to one god when you can pray to two, three or eighty six?  If you’re going to waste time babbling to fictional characters, why not waste as much time as possible?  Don’t stop at Gods either.  Seriously, praying to Superman, Steven Spielberg and Hanna Montana are every bit as effective, so you might as well toss them in as well.

After all, if you’re not willing to pray to every imaginable God, follow the rituals and sacrifices described for them exactly, devote endless hours to it and self-flagellate, haven’t you already admitted that prayer is bullshit?

THE SHIT-PORN PARADOX

From time to time on this show, I’ll be setting aside a few minutes to tackle some of the more common apologetics arguments and a few of the paradoxes that arise in a world with an all-knowing, all loving God.  On this episode, Heath Enwright had rejoined us to tackle one such debate, known in academic circles as the “Shit-Porn Irregularity” or the “Shit-Porn Inconsistency”.  Heath, fill us in on the basics of this debate.

Sure thing Noah.  In the Shit-Porn paradox, the skeptic argues that a universe in which God and Shit-Porn coexist is logically untenable.  It was first proposed by the Greek Philosopher Heap o’ Crappus who noted that if an all-powerful and omnibenevolent God did exist, shit porn would not.  Since shit porn does exist, it follows that an all-powerful and omnibenevolent god must not.

And what of the classic rebuttal to the Problem of Evil that suggests that God is simply allowing us to prove that we are incapable of ruling ourselves before he cures the world of Shit-Porn?

Well, the “Jehovah’s Shitness” defense can’t really be applied to the Shit-Porn Paradox.  The existence of Shit-Porn shows that we’ve already crossed any reasonable line of depravity.  Nobody can say where the line should be drawn exactly, but all philosophers agree that it should be drawn before Shit-Porn popped out.

Now, apologists haven’t taken this lying face down, they’ve pushed back against this intrusion in a number of ways, haven’t they?

Right, they weren’t just going to let this pass.  Early apologists had a spotty record dealing with this paradox.  At first, they tried to argue that shit porn didn’t exist.  For a time that was the accepted defense, but in his seminal work “The Fecal Fallacy: Evidence for Shit-Porn”, Reverend Corholius Pile pointed to little known works such as Armegeddon Shit On, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turdholes and Stools of Engagement as unambiguous evidence that shit porn did, in fact, exist.

And of course, as we all know, his work was famously attacked by Cardinal Deficatus in his number two theodicy commonly called “The Poophole Loophole”, which was basically a much less watered down version of his number one theodicy.

Yes, the Shit-Porn Debate was buried for centuries until Deficatus stepped back into it in the late 1700s.  He argued that Shit Porn might actually represent a higher good of which we are unaware; perhaps saving the participants from later digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diverticulitis.

I see where he’s going there, but couldn’t an all powerful God find a way to insure a high fiber diet for these people without having to resort to Shit-Porn?

Deficatus’ theodicies weren’t meant to redirect the argument.  What they do do is soften it.  They suggest that Shit-Porn might be a necessary kernel in the proper functioning of the human social unit.  Could true purity exist in a world without Shit-Porn to counterbalance it?  Could it be that without overcoming the lurid temptation of Shit-Porn, a soul could never achieve true communion with the Holy Spirit?

Of course, today’s apologists have stepped away from that line of argument altogether, isn’t that right?

Modern day shitologists hold their noses at it, yeah.  The Poophole Loophole defense was really wiped away in the late 19th century when philosophers on both sides came to agree that Shit-Porn was too vile to be compatible with a loving God.  While earlier works such as The Princess Diarrheas and Poop Fiction could be justified on the merit of their social commentary, the late 1800s saw the rise of titles like Number 2 Fast, Number 2 Furious and Mr. Smith Goes to Wash His Ass; heinous anus-related depictions of fecophelia that would have made Richard Gere blush.  It was impossible to continue to argue that such depravity was part of God’s plan.

So what was the next real movement in the debate?

The whole thing really erupted again when noted British Philosopher Dr. Dick Brown took a back door approach to the question.  There are three premises in the Shit-Porn paradox that apologists can attack: One is that Shit-Porn exists.  Number two is that a world without Shit-Porn is preferable to a world with Shit-Porn.  Attacks on those two premises had failed in the past.

But Brown took a different approach?

Brown looked at the third premise; that an omniscient God could create a world without Shit-Porn.

But if God is powerless against Shit-Porn, how can he still be all powerful?

Brown’s approach was to suggest God himself was a Shit-Porn and that if he were to rid the universe of Shit-Porn altogether, he would also have to remove himself from the universe.

And as popular as it was with laymen, a lot of his colleagues said he really didn’t know shit.  In fact, this theory stained his academic reputation considerably, didn’t it?

Stained him?  It damn near wrecked him.

So do modern day theologians still wrestle with this shit?

I guess the most familiar example of the modern argument is the Shit-or-be-Shit counterpoint first offered by American philosopher Ann L. Bead.

And for those who haven’ turd of her before, tell us who Dr. Bead was.

She had a number of duties at the Pew Public Policy Forum and briefly held the Lucasian Stool at Cambridge.

And her later career was absolutely covered in shit, isn’t that right?

It was.

Tell us what she piled on to the existing debate.

Bead proposes a mental exercise where someone was about to accidentally watch Shit-Porn and you could prevent it by shitting on them.  Now, most people would agree that shitting on someone is justified in certain conditions.

If they were on fire, for example.

Or if they were singing “Whoop it Gangnam Style”, yes.  But Bead takes the analogy one step further.  What if you could prevent someone from watching Shit-Porn by Shitting on them, but someone was watching you and they were masturbating at the time?  Would you then be Shit-Porn?  Would it still be a moral act?

Well, as interesting a nugget as that is, I don’t see how it relates to the larger debate.

Here, Bead is straining to push through an analogy that spreads the blame around a bit without smearing it on God.  Basically, she’s asking if we can know the true cost of Shit-Porn from a purely mortal perspective.  The idea is that if you can introduce one instance of justifiable Shit-Porn, it stands to reason that God might have a higher purpose in allowing it to exist.

And given God’s well documented opposition to homosexuality, how does Bead’s argument hold up against gay Shit-Porn?

Great question.  Some say that might be the fatal flaw in her argument.  The whole thing really craps out when you start considering titles like Charlie in My Chocolate Factory or Jock, Cock and Two Steaming Barrels… and a cup.

So having weighed the arguments on both sides, what do you think it all says about God’s existence?

While it’s easy to argue that their might have been a divine touch in films such as The Turdman of Alcatraz, Fahrenheit 98.6 and Dark Shitty, I believe that films like Starship Poopers, Deuce Almighty and 21 Dump Street prove definitively that God is a load of shit.

EMAILS & COMMENTS

I want to close the show out today by responding to a few emails I got regarding our inaugural episode.

First a quick correction: last fortnight I accidentally referred to the American Atheists’ Annual Convention as the “Reason Rally”, which is, of course, incorrect.  I had “from the people that brought us last year’s Reason Rally” written in the notes and managed to skip a line when I recorded it.  Thanks to Doug in Jacksonville for pointing it out.

I also wanted to acknowledge an e-mail we received from a listener that didn’t leave their name.  They were curious about my penis size and wondered if I’d like to enlarge it with an herbal supplement.  So to this listener, look… I’m not sure what you’ve heard but I have a really small wife, so I think I’m good, but thanks for the concern.

And finally, I wanted to offer an apology to someone who commented on the blog in response to a post I put up a while back about how much of an asshole God must be if he exists (which he doesn’t).  Autumn writes:

“Your points are very valid, but like most atheists you’re defining god as the Abrahamic god, a fatal error for your credibility. All you’ve put to shame is Christianity which isn’t very hard to do, and says nothing about the idea of god in general.”

The criticism was invalid, as the opening line of the post was “I sometimes argue with Christians” so I think I made it pretty clear that all I was tackling in this post was the Abrahamic God.  That being said, I do want to apologize to Autumn for not putting her definition of God to shame as well.

Since the most convenient defense against having your beliefs eviscerated is failing to precisely define them, it might be some time before I happen upon whatever wishy-washy, evidence free incarnation of a logically impossible creative, theistic force you happen to subscribe to.  Just be assured that I’m working on it and I’ll get to you as soon as possible.  If you’d like to speed up the process, feel free to take me up on the long standing invitation to tell me exactly what your definition of God is.

That’ll do it for this episode.  Be sure to check us out next fortnight for a special Valentine’s Day episode that’ll feature full frontal nudity.   I want to thank Heath Enwright for joining me tonight and I’d also like to thank Zach, Nesbitt, Josh, Joel and Lucinda for brain storming Shit-Porn titles with us.  If you enjoyed the show (and how could you not?) please help us spread the word by leaving us a glowing review on iTunes or wherever.  If you have question, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info at “Scathing Atheist (dot) com”.  All the music used in the show was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

My Conversation With God

September 3, 2011 3 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Late last night, God spoke to me.

“Noah…” he said in a rumbling whisper.  I rolled a bit in my sleep, unsure if I was dreaming or awake.

“Noah…” he said again.

“Ben Affleck?” I asked, hoping against all odds that he was finally abiding by the restraining order.

“No, it’s God,” he explained.

I sighed warily and sat up, glancing quickly to my wife to see if I’d awakened her.  “God?” I asked.

“God,” he clarified.

“Look, I don’t mean to be a dick, but is this something that can wait until morning?  I’ve been drinking…”

“I had nothing to do with Bieber winning that VMA.”

“What?”

“I actually prefer Bruno Mars.”

“Who?”

“But I’ve got plenty of problems dealing with the drought in Africa.  I didn’t even get to watch the VMAs this year.”

“God, I’m really tired,” I complained, but I knew this wouldn’t shut him up.

“Yeah, I guess that’s kind of off topic anyway.  Sorry.  Just wanted to make that clear.  I’m so sick of Justin Bieber that I’m about ready to smite him.  Could you imagine?  One piece of brimstone… BAM.  One more lonely girl if you know what I mean.”

“You know I’m an atheist, right?”

“Yeah, that’s actually why I’m here.”

Convinced that this conversation wasn’t going to end any time soon I reached to the bedside table and grabbed a cigarette.

“I notice that your not blogging lately,” God said, followed by a forced and unconvincing cough as I lit my smoke.

I rolled my eyes.  “Give me a break, God, you’re not even corporeal.”

“I know, but smoke still bothers me.  It’s a disgusting habit.”

“I know, I know,” I uttered.  “Can we just get to the point?”

“I want you to start blogging again.”

“Really?  You know I write an atheist blog, right?”

“And podcasting.  You need to get back on that.”

“But… I blog and podcast about the fact that you’re just a figment of the cultural imagination.  I blog about the logical incoherence of your existence.  I talk about the denialism of science and atrocious lapses in morality that are justified under your name.  I write about the sheer stupidity of holding bronze age beliefs in the modern-day.”

“Yeah, but the world needs more of that.”

“I agree, but I’m kind of surprised to hear you say it.”

“I want humans to be the best they can be, Noah.  I’m not going to get that if people are busy stifling discovery and retarding social progress.  I created disease and strife so that humans could come together against a common banner of necessity.  I put the obstacles there so that you could climb over them.  The idiots that believe in me are, forgive my language, fucking things all up.”

“You’re forgiven,” I said with a hint of irony.  “Do you realize how many atheist blogs are on the internet?  Do you really think that one more is going to make a difference?  Hell, nobody’s really reading it anyway.”

I’m reading it,” God said reassuringly.

“Yeah, but you don’t show up on Google Analytics.”

“If you tweet it, they will come.”

“Are you stealing lines from Kevin Costner now?”

“I loved that movie.  I was awesome in it.  Not like Bruce Almighty…”

“So if I promise to start blogging again, will you let me go back to sleep?”

“And podcasting.”

“Fine.  I’ll get to it first thing in the morning… or afternoon probably.  I’ve got some errands to run in the morning.”

“Okay.  So what, Tuesday on the next episode?”

“Sure.  Tuesday’ll work.”

“Alright.  Night, Noah.”

“Night God,” I said, snubbing out my cigarette and curling back into my pillow.  Rudy made a brief nocturnal purr as I threw my arm around her and in an instant I was unconcious once more.