Behold my magnificent and selfless sacrifice FOR SCIENCE: posting a survey link on my blog.

Full disclosure: I don’t have anything close to a scientific background. I majored in Theatre ferchrissakes, and graduated with my B.A. a few credits shy of a minor in Philosophy. Unfortunately I had crappy science teachers in high school, and as an undergrad I managed to dodge rigorous science classes by meeting my degree requirements with shit like Meteorology 101 and whatnot.

Years later however, I fell deeply and madly in love with the sciences in general, and with evolutionary biology in particular. (In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, that doucheweasel Dawkins’ books contributed in no small part to my intoxicating enlightenment; also, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish remains one of my favorites reads of all time. Mind: blown.) So although I can spot a cumulonimbus cloud along with the best of ’em, during my formal education I missed out on so much cool science stuff (OMG astronomy! Geology! Marine biology!!!).

My worst regret about all of this is that I have contributed nothing of any significance to the truly amazing troves of knowledge humans have acquired via the scientific method.

Until now.

I am thrilled to announce that the Atheist Research Collaborative is conducting a survey study on how and why people become atheists. FreethoughtBlogs has been encouraged to publicize the survey to our readers, so I am posting about it in case participating in this research might be of interest to you godless heathens out there. From the researchers:

The study is open to those who are at least 18 years of age, and those who once believed in god(s) but do not now; this means you are not eligible to participate if you have always been an atheist/nonbeliever. The survey is a maximum of 76 questions, and a minimum of 64 questions.  On average, the survey should take 20 to 30 minutes to complete, although individuals may find that it takes them more or less time than this, depending on their answers. The survey can be found here.

Joseph Langston ARC Affiliate/Web Admin

Phew! Wow. Doing this science stuff sure is exhilarating – and exhausting! I had no idea.

Well I’m sure we can all agree that I’ve stepped up in a REALLY BIG WAY and done my part for SCIENCE. And that obviously I deserve at least a co-author credit on any published research that comes from this survey data. And of course the best part is this: “make major Nobel Prize-worthy scientific contribution” is now crossed off my bucket list.

What a great day.


Excellent news.

I just heard Florida governor Rick Scott say – TWICE in a brief live interview – that the single most important thing the state needs right now is everyone’s thoughts and prayers.


Right now I am sick with worry about my friends in Florida, including one in the Panama City area, and my oldest, dearest friend sheltering in the home of a couple he knows in Pinellas County, 20 miles inland from his house on the Gulf Coast. Both of my friends are nonbelievers. I’m sure they take great comfort in knowing the state government has its priorities straight.

I can’t even.

I’m becoming an Irish pagan!

OMFG you guys! I cannot help but think that I have found among the Irish pagans the place where I truly belong!

When I read the email exchanges posted by Pagan Federation Ireland on their Facebook page, I shouted hallelujah! (<-It’s a relic of my xtian upbringing. Obviously, I will have to learn what my new fellow Irish pagans are supposed to shout in similar situations.)

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What if we’re wrong?

Our esteemed colleague and beloved friend Don Ardell forwarded an interesting exercise he received from his friend, a fellow Robert G. Ingersoll enthusiast. The Great Agnostic was asked what he would do if he passed on and discovered there was indeed a God. The Christian god, of all the possibilities. Ugh.

Q: If you died and somehow found yourself face to face with Jeezus Haploid Christ Incorporated, what would you say to him?

I have to admit my instantaneous reaction was to imagine myself getting right up in his grill and saying FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCK. And not just because I’m a New Yorker and that’s how I greet everybody. It’s probably no secret ’round here that I detest Christianity (though I do not detest all Christians) with the burning passion of ten thousand UY Scuties. Cursing Jeezus out would succinctly convey my feelings perfectly well. But upon further reflection, a more thoughtful (though no less enraged or revolted) reaction might go something like this.

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Christ as colonic?

[CONTENT NOTE: discussion of fecal elimination and common problem associated therewith.]

As readers here may recall, I take tremendous pride in my half-assed, poorly executed, semi-regular attempts to extract $82 billion worth of amusement every year from the Religion-Industrial-Complex on behalf of atheist U.S. taxpayers. I perform this service 100% free of charge; it is my noble, selfless, one-woman protest of the appalling injustice that is $82 billion in yearly taxpayer subsidies to the R-I-C. Okay, it’s probably not much of a sacrifice on my part, because I happen to thoroughly enjoy mocking a particular church sign in the small town in Northern Maryland where my mother lives. Hey, someone has to do it.

And today’s sign is a doozy.

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It’s bad enough of course that the Catholic Church as an institution has precisely zero respect for the bodily autonomy of living people. Like all authoritarian panty-sniffers, the hierarchy strives to control every aspect of human existence in keeping with its morbid and moribund dictates whenever and wherever it can get away with it. Now, in accordance with its bizarre and stunted worldview, the Vatican has helpfully narrowed its mandates for what Catholics can and cannot do with their bodily remains even after they’re fucking dead.

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GUEST POST: I’ve Seen Bears Kill.

Please enjoy these beautiful thoughts, beautifully expressed, by my friend Ian. (Posted with permission.)


I think one of the advantages to having been born and raised in Alaska, and having a mother who encouraged me to explore my world, was that in those massive wide open expanses, the unending forests, the freezing lakes and rivers, impassible mountains, and temperature extremes that think nothing of ending your life…

I learned that life is not given to us. That the world doesn’t belong to us. It was not made for us… In fact, for the most part we aren’t even suited to it.

We survive the world. We live small in an unimaginably massive universe that would kill us instantly in our natural state.

I learned all of this before I even turned 5 years old.

So when someone first told me their stories about their God, or their religions, or their books… All I could think was:

“That makes absolutely no sense! Why would anyone make something so mean to us? No. I just don’t believe that. I’ve seen a bear kill. I’ve killed fish. I once fell in a river during the winter. I know I almost died. Nothing invisible saved me. I saved myself! That book is ridiculous.”

I’ve lived another, what? 35 years now?

Nothing’s changed.

We survive the world. We live in that unending and harsh world.

And that’s the best feeling there is. Walk any forest without your tools to save you, and you’ll see. No God. Just you, and the world that makes you.

I’ve never felt more free than in those mornings when the world was about to end me – without malice, without anger, without hatred or rage…

Just the ice wind, blowing into my lungs. Quietly asking,…

“What are you doing here? How are you going to live?”

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 3: Yes and hahaha no.

UPDATE: WordPress apparently black holed a few of sentences re: Purvi Patel (and some formatting tags). I fixed it—I think.

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does mention: rape, sexual assault and violent abuse, including against children; mental illness including suicidal ideation; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

To briefly recap: While atheist Big Willie Jerry Coyne is notoriously prone to poo flinging, he also said some very interesting things in his Darwin Day lecture at the British Humanist Association (and elsewhere). I transcribed a few sections of his talk because I’d like to have a handy link to it to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. I also thought some readers here just might (a) find some of this talk as worthwhile as I do (see Part 1), and/or (b) enjoy my documenting Coyne’s insulting, dismissive, nearly comical obliviousness to his privilege (Part 2).

Part 3 focuses on a section of the Q&A wherein Coyne manages both to say some more really cool stuff, and then go into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pull a classic Dear Muslima.


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Reason Versus Faith, Freethinking Versus Dogmas

Reason and faith, freethought and dogma lead the seeker of positive well being to different pathways, including support for or resistance to church/state separation.

Introduction: Reason Is In Season – Year Round

No one should throw away his reason, the fruit of all experience.
It is the intellectual capital of the soul, the only light, the only guide,
and without it, the brain becomes the palace of an idiot king,
attended by a retinue of thieves and hypocrites. 
Robert Green Ingersoll

A sweet sentiment from the seemingly inexhaustible warehouse of Ingersollian brilliance. In a similar vein are these thoughts of Ingersoll, once featured on a plaque at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York CIty, where Ingersoll and his family once had a private home:

I shall follow the light of reason, be true to myself, express my honest thoughts, help destroy superstition and work for the happiness of my fellow beings.

Note the qualities Ingersoll extolls: Devotion to critical thought, respect for human judgement, observation and experience, the celebration of intelligence, personal integrity, reason and the embrace of happiness.  Contrast the credo of reason with the credo of Christian faith:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead, he ascended into heaven and sitteth (sic) on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.

On what basis would a sentient adult believe such improbable claims? Would it happen if the individual were devoted to critical thought, respect for human judgement, reliance on observation and experience, the celebration of intelligence, personal integrity, reason and a fondness for the pursuit of happiness?

I find the likelihood of that difficult to believe.

If Ingersoll Lived in Our Time

Wouldn’t it be lovely if The Great Agnostic were with us today, if we had his commentaries on topical matters like the state of the Republican Party that in his era was the Party of Lincoln? Imagine his observations on the not-so-Plumed Knight who seems certain to be the Party’s choice for president in 2016.  Or his take on any of the multiple incursions of religion into government and the rights of women, gays and non-Christians? A partial list of such incursions, as shown below, comes from an essay by Iris Vander Pluym; details on the listed violations of church/state separation can be read here at the Palace:

*  Religious exemptions for withholding medical treatment from children.

*  Religious education that enjoys little to no regulation with a host of predicable tragic results.

*  Catholic hospitals that can and do refuse treatment when quality medical care conflicts with dogmas affecting rights to contraceptives, abortion, end of life, etc.

*  Pharmacy conscience laws that enable zealots to refuse to fill prescriptions, whenever their interpretations of religious beliefs conflict with recommended medical care.

*  A White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives that provides taxpayer support for dogma-guided programs.

*  Abortion restrictions, biased counseling, mandatory delays, forced ultrasounds and other theocratic  legislative acts that reduce access and close secular clinics.

A conservative estimate is that government supports for religion amount to at least $83.5 billion annually.

The Unfortunate Immersion of Children in Religious Dogma

My take on the sentiments expressed by Ingersoll is that few today consciously discard their intellects though sadly, the neglected soils of youth provide little but a barren harvest of experience. The capital of the soul, in such cases, is capable of little more than the faintest light. This, alas, provides little guidance for the discovery and embrace of freethought as a part of a larger, REAL wellness philosophy.

There is, for most, not much of reason’s light to follow, so the paths of loyalty to the unknown self are unmarked, and convenient impressions are easily mistaken for honest thoughts, at least by oneself. Instead of destroying superstitions, the discarded, un-nurtured intellect defends superstition, a lamentable state in evidence today. Too little reason as a foundation of positive well being does little to advance happiness or improve men and women.

Needed: A Product to Treat Early life Brainwashing

Perhaps there is something to be said for targeted, pinpoint brainwashing. If the local supermarket had over-the-counter brain-cleansing products along with polish removal, mouthwash, rinses and the like, I would purchase and apply it, carefully of course, so as not to suffer collateral memory loss, to the portion of my brain that holds to this day the remnants of jejune Catholic elementary school prayers, such as the voodoo-like Christian example quoted above.

Ingersoll’s words on that plaque deserve our attention:

No one should throw away his reason, the fruit of all experience. It is the intellectual capital of the soul, the only light, the only guide, and without it, the brain becomes the palace of an idiot king, attended by a retinue of thieves and hypocrites.

Well, I suppose re-education is the best method of brainwashing we can hope for, informed by the embrace of reason for a better, secular future for each person and the nation. Reason does not get a lot of support but is it our best hope – and that’s why the positive, life – enriching form of wellness with reason as the foundation dimension of skill-building (along with exuberance, athleticism and liberty) is so invaluable for quality of life promoters to advance at every turn.

Support for reason (versus superstition) is tenuous, at best, as Ingersoll suggested:

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the star-less night, — blown and flared by passion’s storm – and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.

All good wishes.


Donald B. Ardell can be reached at; his latest books are 1) Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy and 2) REAL Wellness – it can be examined and ordered here.

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 2: NOPE.

(Part 1 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while atheist Big Willie Dr. Coyne may communicate some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers here may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.

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