Yes, it has been a while. I am a mom to a young kid. That’s my excuse for everything now 🙂
Lately, I’ve found myself consumed by the subject of physical beauty, specifically facial, and perhaps more so that of men. Probably this is because male facial attractiveness seems harder to define and there is less written about it, and partly because it’s because I’m attracted to men, not women.
As far back as I can recall, I’ve always been a very aesthetic person. While it’s not a new question, I’ve been looking with more curiosity lately at what we mean when we say that someone is (facially) attractive. We talk about things like a strong jaw or chiseled features, but what does that mean exactly? I couldn’t find the answers that I was looking for when I did some research, which would have involved geometry. What sort of feature do we mean by chiseled? What sort of nose, lips, etc?
Why is it that a few seemingly small differences in things like bone structure result in something that we call “beautiful”? Just a quirk like the shape of the jaw or cheekbones, the size of the eyes in the face, etc. determine this.
This is so important since attractive people get the goodies in life: pretty much everyone is aware of this. This seems to be even more so for attractive women. Women and girls will do pretty much anything to be more beautiful and hence reap greater rewards in life.
Also, what percentage of the population is attractive? Many times, it seems to me that there are a lot of beautiful women out there. Does it seem like a higher percentage if you are looking at one age group, namely young adults?
And finally, am I hot enough?
Remember my Christian Kitsch contest a few years back? Good times. The outcry about the gift shop at the National September 11th Memorial Museum reminded me of those good times. After looking at the products (see the link) that the museum gift shop offered, I was left going, “That wasn’t so horrifying. They could have sold products way more tasteless than that.” Off the top of my head, how about BBQ charcoal briquettes shaped like the World Trade Center towers? Now that’s tasteless.
This got me thinking (which is rare indeed), what are tasteless September 11th items? So I found this article, 9/11 Memorial Merchandising: Where Should We Draw the Line? The truly tacky items in this article, as far as I can tell, are not in the National September 11th Memorial Museum gift shop.
Somewhat tangentially, I’ve heard of this interesting item. While I wouldn’t describe it as tacky or tasteless exactly, neither would I want it at the memorial museum.
So, should I make this a contest? What’s the tasteless-est 9/11 product out there? And should I be shocked that there is a market for tacky tasteless 9/11 memorabilia?
New atheist bio. I’m going to try to post more often again. Motherhood and lack of optimism have gotten in my way.
“Hello. My name is Joyce. I’m 45 years old and consider myself a recovering Catholic. I read the article about the priest who left the priesthood and is now atheist. Reading
his story helped make me feel so alone with the guilt of not being the perfect Catholic the way my parents especially my Mom raised me to be. As a child I enjoyed Mass and felt a deep love for Christ. As I grew older that’s when all the dogma set in. I was told if a person missed Mass on Sunday and weren’t sick it was considered a mortal sin. That meant if I happened to die without receiving absolution my soul would go to hell. It was a very rigid upbringing. As I grew older I felt I could never measure up to the church’s doctrine. My Mom told me if she used any form of birth control besides the approved method of the Church which was called the rhythm system, she could not receive holy communion. As an adult I knew birth control was the responsible thing to do when married. The love of Christ, slowly faded and the worry of committing a mortal sin overwhelmed me. So I pulled away.
Since then both parents have died. It was a relief not having to measure up to my mother’s expectations of me any more though I miss her deeply.
Recently I have been educating myself in science. Attending Catholic schools we were not taught anything about evolution. Basically we learned about the solar system and God created it. I have read so much. What I have come to find is that all religions are basically the same. A copying mechanism for man to deal with the debilitating awareness of death. Back before man had scientific explanations I can see why they created a supernatural being to explain natural phenomena. During this time science has proven so much. Evolution is fact. There are many believers even fanatics that insist creation is the truth based on faith only. How the believers stay close minded is the fear that if they don’t accept Jesus as their savior and he died on the cross so that sins would be forgiven they will not be ‘saved’ and go to hell. Fear is a powerful force. It’s alive and well!
I don’t and cannot understand why a loving forgiving God would require a blood sacrifice for sins to be forgiven? All those innocent lambs and then the final sacrifice is God’s own son? Suffering a horrible crucifixion? That isn’t love. That’s just sick. Why not simply just forgive? If an all knowing God made us, he would know our human weakness? He set us up for failure.
I cannot understand the reason behind this? An logical person would say this is insane!
The reality is man wrote this and fabricated the story. It reflects the rituals of that time. If it were to happen today, it would be consider a sick and dangerous cult. No question about it.
The difficult part is feeling the need during difficult times to want to belong to a loving church for emotional support. When I look back on my life, it wasn’t my faith that got me through, it was the love of my family and close friend. So in reality would you agree that the religious whom find strength in their faith are really doing the work themselves and using their faith as a crutch. In reality, God, god’s, angels and saints are imaginary beings. The only difference is that I am looking at life realistically. We are born and we die. No afterlife, no heaven, no hell( thank God lol).
People say faith is what gets people through crisis. Can’t a person find that inner strength from within?”
Sarah again here. What I want to say to Joyce is I’m sorry about losing your parents. Having never lost someone before, I can’t say that lack of faith in religion would support me, but clearly you found that you didn’t need religion to get through your grief. I think many people, even some atheists, would say that the best thing about religion is that it supports people during the loss of a loved one (“Mom isn’t really gone. She’s in heaven.”). I personally see religion as a double-edged sword during times of grief, but you are living proof that it’s possible to grieve in a healthy manner without faith.
Hello Atheisterinos and others,
First, what I’m reading now (or technically just finished reading). Killer Stuff and Tons of Money by Maureen Stanton, which I found out about when the author came to speak about the book at my local library. Since I love antiques, flea markets, etc., this was pretty interesting. All the same, I’m glad I don’t try to make my living dealing with antiques and whatnot, since it sounds quite difficult. The early morning schedules alone would do me in. All this is getting me excited about going to the Brimfield antique and flea market, which I’ve gone to three times already.
I have a thing for antiques (not usually “fine” antiques, but more in the way of things you can actually live with that aren’t too expensive) and today took my baby, Jessica, to a new-to-me place in Manchester, New Hampshire, MillCity Antiques and Consignment. I am not getting kickbacks for saying this, but what a great place! I loved everything I saw so much, I think I want to move in. I especially loved the industrial items. Is it me, or is “industrial chic” a thing now? When did that happen?
When Jessica learns to talk, it’s just a matter of time before she complains about me dragging her to all these places. 🙂
On a completely different note, I’ve never been all that interested in celebrity gossip, but I like to gawk at the pictures of stars without their make-up, like these. Maybe it makes me feel superior for a few minutes or maybe it’s just schadenfreude to see the mighty fall. Of course, it’s possible that these photos are doctored to make the stars less attractive for my entertainment purposes.
All that aside, though, where are the men? You just know that guys like Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan look like corpses without their make-up. I realize that physical attractiveness is a more important attribute in a woman, but surely it counts for something in men with these careers. So come on, paparazzi– don’t be sexist. How does Brad Pitt look when he rolls out of bed?
Sometimes in the tangents and fun I have on this blog, I forget why I started it in the first place: to illustrate how atheists are hated in America. Apparently, we’re just as bad as rapists.
Someone in my local atheist group responded, “Just re-affirms my personal belief that I’m included in a group that’s more hated than any other race, religion, gender (or sex) or sexual orientation, Also, the most publicly accepted prejudice.” Another commented, “But if it is true that the hatred is even more than the hatred against rapists, I really want to know exactly who are those people who trust rapists! If such people really exist, that should be more disturbing than anything else, don’t you think?”
There are a lot of issues at play here. Who trusts rapists at all would be a good one. Is the experiment the article is about valid? Would people really be just as (un)comfortable hiring a rapist as an atheist for a high-trust job such as childcare? And if childcare is a high-trust job, why doesn’t it pay better?
Food for thought!
Including some unexpected atheists.
Right now I’m reading Ingrid Ricks’s Hippie Boy, her memoirs of growing up in a religious Mormon family. More on that later.
1. Paul Giamatti – Giamatti is known for his outstanding roles as a supporting actor. In a 2006 interview, Giamatti stated that he is an atheist. Although his wife is Jewish and his son is being raised Jewish, he noted in the interview that he might influence his son’s beliefs: “I’m waiting for my time to step in and tell him how things really are but I’ll do that when he’s a teenager. I figure he’ll be ripe for atheism when he’s a teenager.”
2. Sir Ian McKellen – Known for his outstanding work on the stage and in film for diverse roles such as King Lear, Gandalf, and Magneto, McKellen is noted for saying, “I’m an atheist. So God, if She exists, isn’t really a part of my life.” He came out in 1988 and has been a prominent LGBT rights activist.
3. Eva Green – She is best known as the smoldering Bond girl of Casino Royale. Eva is actually a French actress who speaks English fluently. She was raised as an atheist and starred in the film, The Golden Compass, which is based on a young adult novel by atheist author Philip Pullman.
4. Mark Zuckerberg – The co-founder and CEO of Facebook has “atheist” listed for his religious views on Facebook, although he was raised Jewish. He was named Time magazine’s person of the year in 2010 and is the world’s youngest billionaire.
5. Hugh Laurie – Like his cynical TV character, Dr. Gregory House, Laurie is a self-proclaimed atheist. In a 2007 interview, he said, “I don’t believe in God, but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted he’d take it away. So he’ll be like: ‘You think this is going pretty well?’ Then he’ll go and send down some big disaster.”
6. Woody Allen – The neurotic director is of Jewish ethnic descent but declares himself as an atheist. He has made numerous witticisms on the subject, such as, “Not only is there no God, but try finding a plumber on Sunday.”
7. Julianne Moore – When asked what God would say to her when she appeared before him in heaven during a 2002 interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio, she said, “Well, I guess you were wrong, because I do exist.” She is also a pro-choice and LGBT activist.
8. Roger Ebert – Perhaps the most famous of film critics, Ebert is slowly dying of thyroid cancer, but has stated the he does not fear death. In an article about his beliefs in 2009, he wrote, “I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist–which I am. If I were to say I don’t believe God exists, that wouldn’t mean I believe God doesn’t exist. Nor does it mean I don’t know, which implies that I could know.”
9. Stephen Hawking – Hawking has been a longtime proponent of the extraneousness of a belief in God. He first raised the prospect of a self-creating universe in his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, which was published in 1988. In his 2010 book, The Grand Design, he wrote, “The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second.”
10. Angelina Jolie – Jolie has stated that she does not identify with any religion because she doesn’t feel the need for a God and dislikes authority-based religion. Her equally good-looking partner, Brad Pitt, has been noting as saying he is 20% atheist and 80% agnostic. In another interview, Angelina mentioned that she and Brad are raising their six children to respect all religions and they have a bookshelf in their house with a Bible, a Torah, a Koran, and other religious books.
Patricia Duggan has a Masters in Psychology and has been in practice for 12 years. She runs the site Psychology Degree Finder. She writes about various subjects within psychology.
Let’s not forget that the point of Not My God is that in the US, atheists are hated and persecuted. As Stephen Colbert said about distrusted people according to polls, “I wouldn’t trust a Muslim any more than I could throw him at an atheist.”
Do a search on Google or YouTube for “hate atheists” or some such and you’ll come up with a lot of hatred for (not so much of) atheists. People don’t like us, or at least not yet. If and when we become a larger group to contend with, perhaps the hatred will abate into reluctant tolerance. If we become a majority, Darwin willing, we can’t bloody well hate ourselves, can we?
Let’s not forget.
First of all, please check out my guest posts on David Orenstein’s blog, Paleolibrarian:
Libraries and the Homeless
My Dad on “Teaching the Controversy”
David was kind enough to write a guest post for me. Cheers!
Atheism as Personal Choice
I became an atheist at the age of 8. I think I chose not to believe because I never really thought the supernatural was special in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I had and still have an active imagination and I loved reading comic books about the exploits of Superman and his ilk. But religion and god belief never seemed to make sense to me from a practical point of view.
In the end, as I look back on my choice, I think that I’ve always been a person without religious faith. However, I do have faith in humanity and I remain optimistic even though there is plenty of evidence for great sadness in our world. I believe at its root, this sadness is caused by some form of religious philosophy, sectarian violence or god worship.
But let’s get back to my atheist journey. When I was a pre-teen, I became ill with rheumatic fever. The infection left me with both a damaged mitral and aortic valve. I thought if there was a god and if he was a kind and loving deity, why would he hurt me so? After all, as a child, I never did anything to hurt him or anyone. Why if god controls all, do I have to suffer or for that matter why does anyone have to suffer. If god is so powerful, why not just fix everything. Then I realized in my own words, what Woody Allen said years after, “It ‘s not that god isn’t all powerful it’s just that he is an underachiever.” As a fellow Jew from Brooklyn, I get the joke and the pathos of Allen’s comment.
So in 1979 at the age of 17, I underwent open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. They put in a porcine valve (a fancy way of saying “pig”) and so while I was no longer Kosher (not that I ever was) at least my short life was extended a little longer. That was, up until 1987, when the porcine valve calcified and a new non-organic value was put in its place. Both times I was told that my family and friends prayed for my survival. Each time I went under the knife I neither prayed nor pleaded with “god” to spare me. Frankly, I was more concerned with the job experience of the heart surgeon than I was hoping for divine salvation.
I guess you can say that my heart surgeries were a form of battle, and in that case I can assure you that there are atheists in foxholes, because I am and will always be a non-believer. I choose atheism because I have never seen evidence to contradict my belief that there is a god. So if there isn’t a god, it follows that there is no need for a religious or spiritual life. It also follows that one can and will act morally and with kindness to others even without the threat or reliance on god or a theistic philosophy.
The great Carl Sagan is quoted as saying, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Without evidence, humans backslide into a Paleolithic set of beliefs which existed way before science could show us that the natural world and the mechanics of the universe are knowable. But the physical world can and is testable, it can be understood through human invention and inquiry. New discoveries in all scientific disciplines are being made daily.
Frankly, what I knew as a little boy I know as an adult man. There is no need for god. We have science and the scientific method to fill in the gaps of our understanding and more importantly to explore what we don’t know. So long as we can test the mechanics of the universe we can ensure that what we do know is valid while at the same time question and continue to make discoveries to enliven our world.
I have a confession to make: I’ve never read the Koran. Nor have I read the Old Testament cover to cover. I’ve never read the New Testament. What I know about Christian myth I’ve mostly gotten through Osmosis and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.
Still, one doesn’t have to have read the Koran to know that suras (passages) are a plenty which order Muslims to do what I think of as terrible things, and which most people in free, democratic societies would detest. Many people deny that Muslim extremists are only doing what their holy books tell them to do. Then again, some Western apologists allow that we should let Muslims do whatever they want in the name of tolerance, no matter how awful. For example, female genital mutilation has no mention in the Koran, but many non-Muslims advocate that we should let people in Western nations do it in the name of “tolerance.” I ain’t much tolerant of so-called “tolerance.”
Point is, many people claim that the horrors of which Islam is capable aren’t true to Islam.
Back to the suras. Here are a few that, if Muslims do follow them because they are in the Koran, justify some horrible behavior.
From New World Encyclopedia:
Kill the pagans wherever you may find them…(Sura 8:58)
Remember your Lord inspired the angels with the message: “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: you smite them above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” (Sura 8:58)
The infidels should not think that they can get away from us. Prepare against them whatever arms and weaponry you can muster so that you may terrorize them. (Sura 8:58).
From Howie Unveils God:
4:15 As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify (to the truth of the allegation) then confine them to the houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way (through new legislation).
24:2 The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.
And so on.
If you take the Koran literally, and follow its rules and commandments, are you a monster? As they say in Minnesota, you betcha.
Jews and Christians who are alert must know that distasteful passages exist in their holy books that do not belong in the modern world. They either obey them selectively (cherry-pick), or say the passages don’t apply. I think we’ve all heard of some Christians who defend their homophobia by quoting Leviticus, but don’t stand by or know about not wearing mixed fibers, abstaining from shellfish, etc.
Just because suras are in the Koran doesn’t mean adherents have to follow them any more so than Jews shouldn’t wear mixed fibers. Muslims do awful things because it is written, but Christians and Jews, percentage-wise, don’t seem to not follow things to the letter.
A had a friend who I’ll call Jane who, while charming, friendly and lovely, was on the gullible side. She and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, including Tarot card readings.
Once Jane, who was raised Catholic, although I don’t know how much she practiced at the time, told me, “It isn’t hard to be an atheist. It’s harder to have faith.”
On one hand, I saw, and still see, Jane’s point. It’s hard to have faith in the face of no evidence that god(s) exist. Faith, almost by definition, requires one to believe something in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Christians who believe in “intelligent design” do so in spite of oceans (or primordial soups) of evidence. They say that their faith is just as valid as our evidence.
Still, that’s not what I thought Jane meant, and I said,
“Jane, I like you, but I disagree. It is easy to go with the flow and believe in god because that’s what you’ve been told to do all your life and because it’s what everyone else does. It’s a lot harder to think about it and ask questions. It’s a lot harder if you might get ostracized because you asked those questions.”
I swam upstream, I suppose is what I was trying to tell her… you didn’t.
And just because I can now post media again, enjoy this video just for our enlightenment.
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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