Saturday, November 27, 2004

fun at my aunt's house

It's now almost 1 in the morning. I'm not usually up this late (or this early?). But tonight was unusual.

Most of of my family members that live in the Louisville area are more-or-less evengelical/fundamentalist in religion and conservative in politics. That makes my aunt (who moved here just a year or two ago) stand out a bit. She is a Christian, but of a more open-minded and liberal variety compared to most Christians I know. She knows about my atheism, and we have had a few good discussions about religion/politics/philosophy when we are away from the rest of the family.

Anyway, I was at her house until shortly after midnight tonight. I had gone there earlier today to help set up a new TV and sound system along with Mom and Dad. Luckily I came in a seperate car, so that when Mom and Dad left I could hang around for a while with my aunt and some friends that she had over. And we had quite a time. The highlight of the night was the "talking stick." That is where the whole group gets in a circle and there is a decorated stick (Native American theme in this case). The stick is passed around the group and only the person holding the stick can talk (though that's not always how it worked LOL).

So, we would get started on some question that would get a conversation going. The first one was "Are we humans having a spiritual experience or spirits having a human experience." Basically it was a "who are we and why are we here" question. And in the small group of people who were there, there were answers ranging from belief in karma and reincarnation, to the idea that we are all gods who create our own reality, to my own naturalistic pantheist views. I once commented, when I had the stick of course, that I was thankful for the stick because it reminded me to keep my mouth shut when listening to views I diagree with. And actually it was interesting hearing what they had to say. It was especially interesting hearing a rather long debate on the ethics of karma between my aunt and one of the guys.

I don't think anyone changed their point of view as a result of all this conversation. I didn't anyway. But it was a great experience to be able to say what you want, and question what the others were saying--even openly disagree. And I did openly disagree, often, particularly with the guy who was saying we create our own reality. It's amazing to me how people can talk like that without degrading into an argument, and without me feeling as if I must convince them that I'm right or bad things will happen. I won't go to sleep tonight afraid for the soul of the ones that don't agree with me. (Ok, I don't believe in souls. But I used to. And when I did, the things that I heard tonight would have terrified me. As a Christian anyway. Well, if you've ever been there you know what I mean.) And it paid off--at least I think I understand the whole idea of karma better now then I ever have before.

And now that it is past 1:30am, I think I'll go to bed before I doze off at my keyboard.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

quote of the day

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.

-Carl Sagan

who i am in the universe

I've been in one of my funny moods today. I think it started yesterday when I was running around with my folks. Mom had the contemporary christian station playing in the car, and though she usually changes it when I'm with her she didn't this time. I didn't mind--it actually brings back a lot of memories since I listened to nothing but christian music--mostly CCM--until I was about 17 years old. It reminded me of what it felt like really to believe in all that, and, to be perfectly honest, it was painful. Of course I've realized for a long time that it would take a whole lot more than an emotional experience for me to ever believe again. Though I miss the feelings that I can have influence over events miles away by praying. I would say I miss the feeling I got in worship, but I do get those feeling when contemplating nature and in the services at First Unitarian. It seems I have an irrepressible religious impulse whether I like it or not. Or perhaps emotional impulse is a better word for it.

Anyway, all this put me in the mood for a writing project so I decided to try something that I've seen a fellow extian do. This is a short list--compiled in about 10 minutes--of "who i am in the universe."

  1. I am a natural part of the universe.

  2. I am a self-conscious part of the universe.

  3. I am responsible for my own actions, for better or worse.

  4. I am a doubter, because that's how I seperate the truth from lies.

  5. I am a computer geek. (LOL)

  6. I am an amateur astronomer.

  7. I am able to think for myself--no one else can tell me what I believe.

  8. I am a pantheist.

  9. I am an atheist.

  10. I am not the center of the universe.

  11. I am very important to a lot of people.

  12. I am a self-educator.

  13. I am a lover of new experiences.

  14. I am a seeker of truth.

Thanks to Heather Ann Kaldeway for the original idea. Click here to see her list.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

gotta love sundays

This has been an interesting morning. Mom invited me to come to the Thanksgiving service at her church today. What I ended up doing was going to the service at First Unitarian and going to eat at First Nazarene. And I'm still adjusting to the culture shock . . . At least I got through it without any shakeups over me being an atheist (or a Unitarian Universalist, for that matter.) Sometimes I just wish someone would ask me about my "walk with God" or what church I've been attending, just so I have an excuse to set the record straight. But until someone asks, I'll just let 'em think whatever they want.

Well, my boyfriend lost a younger brother last week and the funeral is today. If I really got what I wanted I'd be with him. But of course you can't always get what you want, can you? At least I'll get to see him Friday, if all goes well.

I've got to get back to my homework now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

My best Acquaintances are those
With Whom I spoke no Word—
The Stars that stated come to Town
Esteemed Me never rude
Although to their Celestial Call
I failed to make reply—
My constant—reverential Face
Sufficient Courtesy.

Oh Matchless
Earth, We
underrate the
chance to
dwell in thee.

-Emily Dickinson

Sunday, November 14, 2004

on being an atheist in a christian family

I was raised in a evangelical Christian home. But when I finally decided that the disconnect between religious truth and scientific truth was intolerable, what could I do? Why, in the relatively liberal tradition in which I was raised (I'll just say liberal Evangelical--which just means very lenient as Evangelicals go, though not "nominal" by any definition), are they willing to give ground to any scientific theory as long as they can somehow leave open the slightest possibility that God has something to do with it? And how is it that religion always gives ground to science, and never the other way around? I'm thinking here of the idea of theistic evolution--the idea that God used evolution to create life. If I believed in god I would think that was blasphamous. (see my post entitled "the devil's chaplain") Even as a Christian, before I knew anything about evolution, I thought the idea was fishy.

But the point of this post is not to explain why I'm an atheist. If you want to know, go to

Anyway, in a liberal Evangelical tradition, what are the options? If they totally reject the findings of science in favor of religious dogma, they run the risk of being labled backwards ignorant and prescientific--though it would greatly simplify their faith. Where science contradicts scripture, they could just say it's a trick of the devil and ignore it.
On the other hand, if they were to truely accept whatever science finds they would run a serious risk of atheism--unless they are very good at truely believing two mutually exclusive propositions at the same time (a skill Orwell called "doublethink"). If you want to take me on about what I mean about this, leave a comment. Now to get back to the subject of this post.

How do you have a discussion about atheism with a person who basically agrees with all your arguments but can't stomach your conclusion? You can't. Of all the times I've talked to my mother about it, the only thing she has to offer is "you should believe it because it's true."
Excuse my language, but WTF?
Actually this has had the effect of making my life a lot easier. Since she knows she has no arguments that will persuade me, and she doesn't believe in threatening hellfire (back the the liberal Evangelical thing), she has fallen back on the tactic of letting me know that the doors are open when I decide to come back. And beside the occasional invite to church functions, she mainly leaves me alone about it. And Dad has never brought it up in the first place.

Now not all atheists in Christian families face the same easy situation as I do, unfortunately. Just a lookover of a few of the posts at make it abundantly clear. Though it looks like I'll get my chance to deal with the less-than-tolerant, hellfire threatening, fundamentalist type of Christians sooner or later. That's the type of family situation my boyfriend has found himself in--and yes, he is also an atheist. This could get interesting . . . Just thinking about meeting his folks brings back all the fear I once had about my folks finding out that I was an atheist.

Friday, November 12, 2004


It's hard to believe I ever believed in Christianity. And then I flip though my old journals and find a little gem like this:

01/22/1997 8:35am

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for this new morning you’ve given me. You have kept me alive to see it. I know that you are the one who holds the universe, the world, and me together; never let me forget that.
Please help Grandma [W] come to know you. Help her to see past all those lies of Mormonism to the truth of your Word.
Bless Mom and Dad and G and C and our youth group.
Thank you for the opportunity to home school and to get a Christian education. Thank you for loving me. I love you. Amen.

Just so you know, Grandma W. died without ever converting from Mormonism--which isn't such a big deal to me now. And I now rather regret having homeschooled the way I did (the "Christian education" I was talking about.) In some subjects I did very well, basically teaching myself from the books. But it really set me behind in Math, and the Economics book was worthless. And of course there was all the crap they fed me about America's supposedly Christian heritage. And the bull-shit straw-man caracature of the Theory of Evolution they sold me.

So glad I saw though that, eventually. And thank you Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins for showing me the wonders of Evolution! And Carl Zimmerman! And Steven Hawking! And Michael Shermer! And a big thanks to Robert Ingersoll for being the 'Infidel Preacher' and calling religion's bluff. How I wish I could have heard you speak! And Thomas Paine, I can't forget him! And there are so many others that I'm not mentioning right now, who have helped me fill in the gaps in my education.

How far I have come.
"I'll take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day."
--Douglas Adams

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

recap of the day

I'm feeling a lot better now. The presentation was the best we've done so far, and I found out I got a 95% on the last test.

I am still greatly looking forward to Thanksgiving. ;)

passing the time

Right now I'm sitting and waiting for a class to start at 9:30. Management 301. I wouldn't even bother going except that the prof wants us to write a two page paper whenever we miss a day. That's the only reason to go to class since the prof just tells stories in class and everything for the test is straight out of the book.

Well, anyway . . . I can hardly do anything useful for any of my other classes in 30 minutes so I might as well write.

I'm facing that usual condition that hits me right about 2/3 of the way though a semester--lack of motivation. Actually I think I'm starting to get over it, but I tell you I really did not want to get up this morning. It feels like the only things keeping me going are the pressure not to fall behind (at least in my CIS classes), and the prospect of going to see Jacob at Thanksgiving. Ah, it sucks living hours away from your boyfriend.

Today I have a group presentation in CIS320--Systems Analysis and Design. I'm on a team designing a system for the Fund for the Arts in Louisville and we have to turn in milestones and make presentations and all that. This will be the fourth presentation. I'm finally starting to get used to it, I think, but I'm looking forward to being done with this class. Then next semester in CIS420 we get to implement the system. At least 3 out of 4 members of my group will be in the same class next semester. Sometimes I wonder why I even took a business major . . .

On a more positive note, there was an absolutely gorgeous sunrise this morning. There are just some things you can't beat about getting up early :)
And on the way to school I saw sundogs. If you don't know what I'm talking about, try this link about sundogs. I wonder how many other people driving to work or school noticed?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

my busy life

It's been nearly a month since I last wrote . . . and it's been a really busy month at that. It seems I've been living in the CIS lab doing database homework. Well, I'm not complaining much. ;) It's interesting stuff.

I have so many things on my mind it's hard to settle on one thing to write about. There is school, Jacob (my boyfriend), the election and my worries about the direction this country is taking, my need to find employment soon those are the major ones. It's hard to know where to start.

Now that I've finally got a little time to write my mind is blank. LOL

Here is an update on my church situation:

I'm now regularly attending First Unitarian Church with my parents full knowledge. If I don't have their blessing, at least I have their consent. I don't have to go back to their church--where I was feeling very awkward and out-of-place. I must be getting bolder--I just told Mom that I didn't like going to her church and she didn't argue with me about it.

And Jacob, if you are reading this, qez em sirum. :-*