|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Recap – Week of 5/10/10|
Colbert and House have referenced each other on their shows, and I think the time has come to consummate the “funniest relationship on TV.” Just do it, guys: just make appearances on each others’ shows. In character.
Perhaps the most obvious thing is for House to do his own version of Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA. I’m not sure how to do this exactly, since it is usually Colbert hawking products of the dubious Prescott Pharmaceuticals (“Where they say, ‘That’s why you have two kidneys.'”) In this version, would House rebut Prescott? Or tell us how to really cheat death by not doing stupid things like smoking, drinking or snorting coke off a hooker’s ass?
Alternatively, House could be just a regular guest on the show and chat about what it’s like to be a world-renowned doctor and stone-cold jerk. Maybe he’d even have something specific to talk about: a tasty new disease, perhaps?
In the interest of reciprocation, Colbert would clearly have to be on an episode of House as a patient. Let’s just say his megalomania is covering up whatever real symptoms exist which in turn are complicated by his staunch refusal of universal health care, or any health care at all that violates the terms of the free market.
What do you guys think?
(Well, House *is* a fictitious atheist, and a really cool one…)
Firstly, please check out the Secular Nation podcast in which David Driscoll and I talk about atheist comedians. Comedians, such as yours truly, are very prominent in new atheism. I can’t think of any similar movement when this was the case. Were comedians very relevant when it came to feminism? Civil rights? Gay rights? Not really… but it’s hard to imagine new atheism without names like Bill Maher and Julia Sweeney.
Since I brought it up in the podcast, I’m now very curious about the Nation of Islam. It occurred to me that I haven’t heard any comedians seize on it, the way they have other religions, including mainstream Islam.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that a non-black comedian making fun of NOI would be perceived as racist. I don’t feel like it truly is racist, since it’s only reporting the truth, but I can understand avoiding the whole hornets’ nest. I know I couldn’t get away with making fun of any black institution. (Unless I were really, really funny.) Are there any black comedians out there who make fun of it?
Comedy aside, in all the media I’ve seen about atheism and its (justified) attacks on religion, none of the atheist media criticized NOI– even though they (justifiably) criticize Islam all the time.
This all-American 20th century take on Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the US. While I can understand the sentiments that attract blacks to it, I definitely have some problems with it, not the least of which is its anti-Semitic slant (also homophobic and misogynist slants, which are no day at the beach either). I say this as a Jewish woman, and as someone from West Philadelphia, where it had a large presence. Unlike Scientology or Mormonism, it actually was in my face.
While I don’t know if it is from a reputable source, here is a quote about the NOI mythology.
It is the teaching of Elijah Muhammad that all black men today are a part of this God-race. The black race is thus divine and superior to all other races. Modern day blacks came into existence some 66 trillion years ago when a great explosion ripped the moon from the earth. These people were black and called the tribe of Shabazz. They explored the earth and settled the better places to live, two of which are the Nile Valley and Mecca. Again, neither the Qur’an nor the Bible support such a concept.
W. D. Fard taught that the white man is the result of genetic manipulation by an evil black scientist named “Yakub.” Through a special method of birth control, Yakub bred the black out of his experimental creatures until they were white. This took about 600 years to accomplish. According to the theology of Elijah Muhammad, black really is the symbolic color of good and white symbolic color of evil. His reasoning is that all colors are present in black, and all colors are taken out of white. His conclusion is that the whiter Yakub’s creatures became, the less good there was in them and the more evil there was in them. The final product was so evil, they became devils. Black Muslims call the white man Blue Eyed Devils and blame all of the suffering in the world upon them. The creation of the white man occurred some 6,600+ years ago. Again, this teaching is foreign to both the Qur’an and the Bible.
There is also a rather unique space man mythology associated with the Nation of Islam’s teachings. Elijah Muhammad contended that it had been revealed to him by W. D. Fard, (Allah) that there was a great mother plane (aircraft/spaceship) which is really a small maneuverable planet that orbits as much as forty miles above the earth. Black scientists originally used the mother plane to raise the mountain ranges of the earth by dropping bombs. This great mother plane is equated with the wheel in the vision of Ezekiel. At some time in the future, Allah will bring this mother plane back into the earth’s atmosphere and bomb the cities of the world. The bombs will burrow one mile beneath the cities, and then all explode at a given time. When this happens, the evil that is the unconverted white race will be purged from the world. This aspect of Elijah Muhammad’s doctrine tends to be confusing, because, in the same speech, it starts off being a plane that must return to the atmosphere of the earth every six months of so and ends up being a small self-sustaining world. This doctrine, again, is foreign to both the Bible and the Qur’an.
If any of you are former NOI, or from a family that is NOI but elected not to partake, I’d like to hear from you. For that matter, if you’re black, how do you feel about the Nation of Islam itself?
One more thing: I’m still looking for a place that will pay me to do my act, since this stuff is really hard, so when I do, I want to do more atheist material. If anyone has a hilarious story, please send it to me.
And keep on laughing. It’s a great survival skill.
Not My God focuses on persecution and hatred of atheists. I’m not saying that I equate anti-atheism rhetoric with segregated bathrooms under Jim Crow laws or genocides. What I am trying to say is that many people in the US hate atheists, all else being equal. I’ve heard time and time again of people saying that they didn’t believe in God– without sarcasm, without “and neither should you,” without any fanfare– and getting rejected or attacked. Sure, atheists make fun of religion and have blasphemy challenges and the like– nowadays. Even when atheists are just simply atheists, that’s apparently bad enough. Here is a comment that illustrates this beautifully:
“I live in the bible belt and am 17. I have been an atheist since I was very young and for my entire life I have been made fun of, treated diffrently and attacked because of my beliefs (well, actually lack thereof, but whatever) and about 4 years ago I tried to tell my parents. My mom told me she wasn’t going to let a devil worshiper live in her house (she knows what atheism means; she was just using that as an insult), so I instantly told her it was a joke and she has yelled at me for it ever since. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
Rationalatheist has a page on this topic.
Here’s another great example from Dawkins’s forum:
“I am 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. My parents divorced when I was 2 and my mother knows I do not believe in God. My father, on the other hand, is a heavenly devoted Christian (Methodist). I have never really believed in God but till I was around 14 my dad kept asking me if I believed in God, or if I accepted Jesus. I always lied and said “yes.” I always felt if I responded no, he would “physically” hurt me. I know he would mentally, for sure. For the past 2 years I have never answered his questions and he always tries pushing religion on me. As of the past 4 or so months, I have really started researching religion and arguments against Christianity and other religions. I have also taken some interest in Darwin’s theory of Evolution. Now my father has not asked if I believe in God lately, and in my opinion he knows that I don’t believe and is afraid to ask. I really love my dad I love him a lot. I do pity him tremendously because of how much religion affects my life. Every Sunday he gives his congregation over $300 and tells my mother he is broke and can’t help out with my bills etc… It’s a bad situation. Every month or so I go to his house to visit for the weekend and we go to church. I’m considering next time I go down there to lay out to him that I don’t believe in God and tell him I do not want to go to church. Hopefully, something tremendously bad won’t happen and I can make a good stand against his stand on religion to put his views in perspective. Now that I am 16 and have outgrown my father, I think if he out lashed physically I could stand my own and if he started yelling at me I could just hop in my car and go home. Wish me luck……”
I’m always intrigued by stories of the younger set, especially knowing how much harder it is when you are at the mercy of your parents.
Here I am doing comedy in the talent show at The Amazing Meeting, James Randi’s skeptic convention.
Here in the Not My God penthouse, I focus on stories of atheists that are particularly difficult and moving for the purposes of illustration and because this obviously makes for a more interesting book. So if anyone out there thinks I cherry-pick the extremes, yes, I am, but that’s sort of the point.
I found this story on Dawkins’s Converts Corner.
“For many years I was a victim of religious child abuse without realizing and it took me a long time to be able to escape from the psychological terrorism of the Catholic church.
“Nowadays I’m an animation filmmaker and visual storyteller. Recently I started to work on a little personal project about overcoming the fear of hell. It evolved into a sweet non-religious book about tolerance and more than anything it helped me heal some scars from my childhood days.
“I thought I would keep that little project to myself but all that changed after reading ‘The God Delusion.’ The moment I read the chapter on child abuse I became determined to share the little fable to the world. The book is ‘I’m Not a Little Devil,’ part of what I hope will become a storytelling movement that explores the negative consequences that religion has on young kids. So far the response has been very positive. I wanted to thank you guys for inspiring me to put this tale out to the world and I hope you help me spread the word of it. A future world with no religion is in the hands of children. I definitely hope this book contributes to that change.
I’m hearing a lot about how the Catholic priests “only” abuse children as often as anyone else. Whether that is true or not, and I tend to doubt this because of the vow to celibacy required, the church’s greater sin in sheltering child rapists is almost as bad as the rape itself.
Even if the priests are no more likely to abuse children than anyone else, for such a thing to happen in the realm of religion somehow makes this a much worse crime. Survivors could easily think god sanctioned this abuse, for example.
As to Hell, it’s at times like this I’m glad I was raised Jewish: no hell. No fear of hell.
Here in the Not My God penthouse, I’ve realized that I’ve been doing this blog for almost a year. Praise Darwin! I’m acknowledging the milestone a little early since I’ll be in Germany meeting my new nephew soon and probably away from the blog.
I’ve certainly learned a lot about the subject matter and gotten a lot to think about through this book project. I conceived Not My God in the first place around Darwin’s 199th birthday party when I heard through Boston Atheists about a teenage boy in the area who was an atheist and lived with his grandmother, who was religious, and he knew she would kick him out of the house if he let her know he was an atheist. That got me thinking that there must be many stories like that. I also knew that if this could happen in the Boston area, it must be many times worse in the Bible Belt. I wanted to illustrate how Americans hate and persecute atheists, and how this is relevant in the New Atheist movement.
Through networking, I found potential interviewees and selected 20 that I thought should be included in the book; I interviewed two of these and wrote sample chapters. The stories and characters were so much larger than life that people assumed I had written fiction.
Thanks to all of you who have contributed your stories or thoughts to this project. I realize that, anonymous or not, it takes a lot of chutzpah.
The most important fodder I’ve gotten from this blog is the debate that maybe atheists deserve to be hated. I admit that there is a lot of truth behind that point of view and I can’t reconcile it.
Back to the subject matter, here’s something from Dawkins’s Converts Corner:
“I am 42 years old and was born into a multi-generational Mormon family–a descendant of polygamists on both sides of my family. Like so many others I was taught that it was a sin to ‘delve into the mysteries’ that god had not yet revealed. All literature that told Mormon history from an objective perspective was labeled anti-Mormon and of the devil. I began my departure from Mormonism last year after stumbling across some objective information regarding the history of the church…
“So, Dr. Dawkins, I am on board. This has got to stop. I have three little girls under 5 years old and my soon-to-be ex-wife wants to raise them in the cult. Now that I have broken free, I must now wrestle my daughters free from the grips of such a destructive cult. My family reminds me that so many of my ancestors gave so much for the faith–some crossed the plains pulling handcarts. I find it sad that they were deluded into the pain and suffering and polygamy. The indoctrination and brainwashing is incredibly powerful and difficult to penetrate with reason.
“In all cults, those who leave are labeled as bad, deceived, evil, etc. So it is with me. My wife, many in my family, and former friends all believe I am the bad guy. I read Raven about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple cult. It is a great book, and a fascinating example of cult dynamics. It helped me recognize the same dynamics at play in my religion. There were striking parallels between Jim Jones in isolated Jones Town and Brigham Young in isolated Utah in the 1850s.
“The good news is that I am now living life for the miracle that it truly is. I was in many respects waiting for heaven instead of living life. I recently was asked by a Mormon how I could be an Atheist. I explained that it was not really that far from Mormonism. Mormons believe that all other churches are false, so there is only one more to disprove. Thank you for helping me to shake off the anesthetic of familiarity and to see this world for the amazing place that it truly is.
David Arnold, proud Atheist
Las Vegas, Nevada”
Divorce lawyers, how do you handle this one?
Happy Blasphemy Day, everyone! Why celebrate blasphemy, you ask? It’s important to put into to practice the concept that we shouldn’t respect religion just because it’s religion. It is not exempt from criticism the way so many people seem to think it is. Don’t bow down to religion when it treads on you in the name of “respect.” Respect has to be earned.
Another personal aspect of atheism. Pride may be a deadly sin, but while I’m not proud of many things about myself (for those of you who know me, you understand), I am very proud to be an atheist and think all atheists should be proud of themselves.
Like many people, at least like many people in the U.S., I was surrounded by religion from birth and I don’t think not having a religion was ever presented to me as an option. Like many of you, it was drilled into me that religion was good and a “moral compass.” Many of you suffered great personal costs for open atheism as it resulted in people hating you or families disowning you. While this wasn’t as extreme in my case, I did know that I would socially be punished for being an out atheist. Other atheists may have been in the closet, but resented this in their own way.
We knew these things. Yet, there was something inside of us that was strong and smart enough to say, “I’m not going to buy this.” For many of us, there was something strong and smart enough to say, “Religion does a lot of harm and I’m not going to let it off the hook.”
I feel that I have, in a sense, beaten the odds. I have broken free of the chains, to use a cliche, of socialization and religion which everyone seemed to want to impose on me. How we did this in the first place, for many of us who were never offered the option, is a mystery. Why us and not others? As in, why us and not more people?
I wouldn’t obey. I broke free, even at my own personal cost.
Tomorrow is the eighth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history. For many, the events of September Eleventh strengthened their belief in god– for some, in an angry, vengeful god, and for others, a kind, loving god. Others, still, wouldn’t retain their faith in the aftermath of the tragedy. Some of you may be among them.
It is probable that Richard Dawkins wrote the God Delusion and started the New Atheist movement in direct response to the attacks. Would New Atheism have come about if it hadn’t been for the last straw, this one fell swoop that illustrated in the most gruesome way how dangerous religion is?
For certain, many claimed and still do that the terrorists were not acting because of religion. Critics said it was for reasons having to do with the economy or occupation. However, the terrorists themselves believed that they were acting in the name if Islam, and that is what really mattered.
I was an atheist before the attacks and remain so. It wasn’t until afterward did I arrive to the conclusion that, yes, religion is dangerous… that, yes, September Eleventh gave us cruel evidence of that reality. For at least a few years after the tragedy, I was still making excuses. It’s not about Islam, I kept telling myself. Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.
Finally, I had to call a spade a spade.
How many of you became atheists, or started to lose faith, as a direct result of the September Eleventh attacks? If we count the God Delusion and the resulting New Atheism as indirect results, we can count many, many more.
I once heard a story about two rabbis who survived the holocaust. The first said,
“After what we went through, how could I still believe in God?”
His friend replied,
“After what we went through, how could I not?”
I would rather have heard the story with those lines reversed and the atheist having the last word.
I’m reading Dawkins’s Converts Corner on his site and there are so many great quotes– people have a lot to say about how significant, and often very difficult, it is to lose one’s faith. It’s so inspiring that, even though “conversion” may be painful, it can be so freeing and positive.
“The few arguments I’ve been able to hold onto for the existence of god (Parts of the Ontological and the Cosmological arguments) have been torn out, vivisected, and sterilized before my very eyes… and though it left me a little mentaly raw at first from having a belief I’ve been told I must have since I was a child cut open like a frog on a lab table, I feel that a large weight has been lifted off of my mind.
Drastic brain washing will take drastic deprogramming to fix, and I thank my luck that someone in the world had the stones to stand up and stop being polite about it.”
“I then came across a book that changed my life. It was the late Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (a book version of the famous television documentary series). I was an Atheist.
I then read Richard Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and that nailed God in to the coffin as far as I was concerned.”
No wonder creationists prefer this version of Cosmos
“It is a humbling thought that we can look up into the night sky and feel so inconsequential on our little gem of a planet, but yet make such an impact on this world because of some courage, intelligence, and the support of millions of like-minded beings that we will never meet.”
It’s stirring how often I hear this sentiment expressed in the accounts I hear. One of the interviewees told me that one winter night, she and her husband were walking and she looked up and didn’t see heaven, but “just stars.”
One final thought:
“Thomas Huxley : Darwin’s Bulldog….Richard Dawkin’s : Darwin’s Rottweiler.
May I, arguably your greatest fan, lay claim to the title of ‘Dawkin’s Bloodhound’. Thank you so much for raising my awareness …I can now carry on sniffing out the truth, in true ‘bloodhound’ fashion.”
I think that makes me Darwin’s bitch. (Just kidding.)
Everyone, don’t forget to enter the Christian Kitsch Contest. So many great contenders out there…
Please check out my new Not My God submissions, link on the right. Thanks to everyone for sharing. I’m heartened by all the response I’m getting.
Here’s some of Matt’s submission:
“I’ve always had problems with dating. I am just a very different person. I was as a theist. I am as an atheist. I have had to go through public school with Asperger’s syndrome. In addition to that, as I said before, I’m very straight laced. The thing that is the real kiss of death with my dating is the fact that I don’t want children. I will not date a girl that wants children, because I see no point in setting myself up for failure. I’d like to get married eventually. It’s not on the top of my list now (I’m a college freshman), but eventually.
I thought I was successful last summer. She didn’t want children, and shared my moral uprightedness. She was a very deep and insightful person, too. But I knew that something wasn’t quite right at the same time. She was always very shy around me in person, in spite of being talkative on the phone when we were some distance from each other. It was almost as though she was a different person. She later admitted to being uncomfortable around men.
We ended up breaking up. I realize I’ve left some holes in that story. In a nutshell, her discomfort around me was becoming emotionally draining for her, so she figured it was better we weren’t together. I thought it a smart decision on her part, but of course I was still upset.
I later learned that when she was only seven, her own father sexually abused her.
My faith was put to the test in a way it had never been before. Why would God put such a nice person in the hands of such a horrendous human being?”
So many people on this site have had their faith tested when bad things happen to good people. After all, the tenets of religion pretty much say that if you’re a good person, god will reward you. Matt talks about this and also in the context of how challenging it is for him to find someone to be with… and then was his faith most challenged.
How many of you have been there?
One thing I wonder: how come no one ever seems to ask why good things happen to bad people?
Just kidding. This is Not My God, a site for the personal aspect of atheism. I'm putting together a book with that title, having already 20 interviews lined up, but I still want to hear from more of you.
I've expanded the blog to include material not related to atheism, including rants, raves, consumer issues, curmudgeonly matters and other miscellany.
Read more about Not My God on the About page
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