23 November 2008

Moving to Wordpress

Cuddly Atheism will now be found here on Wordpress.com. A lot of exciting things are going on so you may want to keep up.

22 November 2008

And the Answer is 'No' (Emphatically)

Yesterday as I was on the plane to Seattle, Tiana received this response from Casey Luskin (after having issued a second invitation):

Dear Tiana,

Greetings and thanks for your e-mail. Of course you have made no such “assumption” that I’d rather not have such a discussion. You wrote me your e-mail to me about 24 hours ago and the fact that I haven’t replied yet means nothing other than that I’ve been debating whether to send you the e-mail I drafted yesterday in reply. I guess, now I’ll send it, even if my words turn out to be wasted.

To help you understand my response, I’d like to give you some background on me first.

I have a long track record of acting in good faith to try to build bridges between ID proponents and proponents of evolution for the purpose of having warm, friendly, civil, and serious dialogue and debate over ID and evolution.

In college, I founded the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Club whose mission was (in part) to “Facilitate discussion, debate, and dialogue over these issues in a warm, friendly, and open atmosphere where individuals feel free to speak their personal views.” After graduating, I founded the IDEA Center as a non-profit with the same mission, and it has helped dozens of students found similar clubs. IDEA Clubs have successfully brought people on “both sides” of this controversial issue together to have warm, friendly, civil, rational, and honest dialogue, discussion, and debate over ID vs. evolution. In fact, just this week I reconnected with an old friend of mine from the UCSD IDEA Club—a committed evolutionist—and we’re planning to get together sometime.

The IDEA Club first formed in 1999, and at that time the debate was far less-politicized than it is today. Since that time, Darwinists have shown a dramatic decrease in interest in rational, friendly, civil dialogue and a dramatic increase in name-calling, antics, persecution, and scare-tactics. In my view (and this has been my view for a few years now), the most significant factor which led to the decline in Darwinist interest in serious and friendly dialogue / debate was the advent of the blogosphere around 2003-2004, because that has fostered and bred an internet “culture of demonization” among Darwinists against ID proponents. In this “culture of demonization,” status means everything. Participants in this “culture” score points and raise their “status” by mocking ID proponents or dicking around with them (your blog provides a nice example) and claiming that opponents of Darwinism are immoral, ignorant, silly, and evil, etc. In short, status among internet Darwinists is raised by the lengths one is willing to go to dehumanize ID proponents. The behavior of the internet Darwinist community highly driven by a desire to increase social-status, with intellectual pride being the hamster that turns the wheel. In many instances, this culture of demonization has spread off the ‘net into the real world. In one instance, elements of it got incorporated into a judicial ruling. Just so ya know, this “culture of demonization” does not go unseen by reasonable lurkers watching the debate, and it drives more folks towards my side of the debate than you would guess.

Though I don’t have the time to be as involved with IDEA as I used to be, I continue to take advantage of opportunities for serious, friendly, and civil discussion over ID, and in fact I’ve had had multiple private and friendly coffee / meal meetings with Darwinists in recent months to have friendly dialogue over ID. So I have pretty awesome street creds when it comes to my track record of being serious about having friendly conversation, dialogue, and debate over ID vs. evolution, and I put my money where my mouth is: I’ve invested countless hours and thousands of my own dollars trying to help students promote serious, friendly, and rational dialogue between ID proponents and evolutionists. I don’t say this pridefully: these “street creds” aren’t the kind of thing I wish to keep for myself and I wish that most internet Darwinists involved with this debate could build these same “street creds” rather than practicing their usual behavior.

This whole caricature you’re trying to label me with as being someone who is not interested in debate or dialogue is simply an extension of your involvement in the culture of demonization, and there’s no truth to it whatsoever.

With that background, here’s my response to your request:

I’d love to have coffee with someone who is interested in serious dialogue over ID and evolution, and in fact I’ve had countless such “coffees” since I started the IDEA club at UCSD in 1999. But I make it a rule to only go to such coffees when I think the person I’m meeting with are interested in serious and friendly, dialogue, and discussion and has good faith intention. You have not convinced me that you’re interested in that.

Not only did you enter our prior conversation with false intentions where you admit you were “drunk and lying” (your words), but on your blog you then proceeded to call me and my co-workers names like “dumb,” “angry tank,” “deranged,” “backwards, nearly illiterate, dangerous fundamentalist,” “scary,” “full of shit,” and other various things. (You’re also blogging about this current incident, showing that your current intent is not good faith dialogue but that you hope to use this encounter to score points in the Darwinist culture of demonization.)

I get called unjustified names all the time on the ‘net and so I made my peace with such people and such incidents long ago; so I’m not angry about this, and as I said in my prior e-mail to you, I forgive you. But just because I forgive you doesn’t mean I have to choose to further interact with who might verbally abuse me. I am under no obligation to have coffee with people who would go into our meeting not with the intention of having friendly dialogue, but to use the encounter to score points in the culture of demonization. Also, my time is very limited and I don’t have time to talk to people who aren’t interested in serious discussion. So unless you prove to my satisfaction that you are interested in serious, friendly debate, I’m not not going to take time to meet with you. But since I feel it’s important to offer second chances, so I am willing to offer you a second chance:

If we’re going to have a private conversation, then it’s going to be completely on my terms and you’re going to have to prove to my satisfaction (it’s my call in the end) that you are serious about leaving the “culture of demonization” permanently behind you and moving into my community, the culture of civility, which includes many ID proponents and evolutionists, and is a community that is interested in serious, friendly, and civil dialogue with intellectual opponents. There are many evolutionists and ID proponents in this community, and I hope you might wish to join all of us. But I will be not be able to believe you are willing to believe you want to enter this community until, at the very least, I see the following:

(1) You privately apologize for your behavior towards me and my coworkers. (They didn’t ask for this, and I don’t need an apology, but if you want to prove to me that you are serious about wanting friendly conversation, you’d probably need to do this.)

(2) At the beginning of every page on your blog that discussed your visit to DI, you should place a disclaimer that (a) states that your behavior both inside and outside of DI with respect that incident was inappropriate and publicly apologizes for your behavior and (b) encourages other internet Darwinists to change their attitude and start engaging in friendly, civil debate.

(3) You make a new series of several posts on your blog supporting the importance of having civil, friendly, and rational dialogue in the debate over evolution, explaining that you feel that your prior behavior towards me and DI was inappropriate, and calling the internet Darwinist community (PandasThumb, Pharyngula, many other ScienceBlogs, and their associated smaller cheerleader blogs, like yours) to dramatically change their attitude and demeanor towards ID proponents and start treating ID proponents with respect, civility, friendship, and warmth. These blog posts should include criticizing many (like a few dozen—they’re easy to find) specific incidents of namecalling and incivility on the part of Darwinists against ID proponents on various Darwinist blogs and discussion groups.

(4) From the time I send this e-mail, I see you exhibit no further uncivil attitudes towards me or any other ID proponents. Note: If you post this e-mail publicly or discuss any contents of this e-mail publicly without first asking my permission, that will be a sign to me that you are not interested in serious, friendly discussion, and I will not meet with you under any further terms, regardless of what you do.

So it’s up to you. If demonstrate to my satisfaction that you will go into our conversation in good faith and with honest intentions, and if you demonstrate to my satisfaction that you want serious, friendly, rational dialogue and that you are interested in treating ID proponents with respect, I’ll happily consider meeting with you. And if we do have our conversation, it will be for the purpose of private dialogue, friendship, conversation, and reconciliation, and we will both agree that since we’re all interested in the best things life has to offer (friendship, honest and introspective truth-seeking) that there is no need to blog about it publicly. In fact, if we do meet, I would ask that you NOT bring a tape recorder in such an instance. We may disagree on ID vs. evolution, but we’re all fellow truth-seekers and fellow human beings we can respect and appreciate that shared quality and treat one another kindly in friendly conversation, dialogue, and debate. But if your future behavior shows that you simply want to score more points in the internet Darwinist community, that will show me that you aren’t interested in serious conversation and I won’t meet with you.

I’m sorry but it’s going to take a long time for you to demonstrate to me your interest in leaving the culture of demonization, and you won’t be able to do it before Kate leaves. If we ever have coffee, it’s going to take many months of you building up a track record of being someone who disavows the culture of demonization and applauds and participates in the culture of civility.

Regardless of where you choose to go from here, I want you to know that I forgive you, I wish you the best in your life, and I also hope, for your own sakes that you can join the culture of civility and friendship that is very real and very vibrant. I know you’re capable of better.

Again, all the best to you.


Casey Luskin

21 November 2008

Seattle Day!

I'm flying out in a few moments. Hopefully by day's end something exciting will have happened. No word yet from our dear friend Casey Luskin. We'll keep you posted.

19 November 2008

An Open Invitation to Casey Luskin

My dear friend Tiana had the brilliant idea to invite Casey Luskin (of Discovery Institute fame) out for a drink and a chat while I'm in town this coming weekend. Tiana addressed any concerns he may have beautifully, if you ask me. I just hope he doesn't claim he'll be out of town because we all know he has a little cot at the DI and isn't allowed to leave (kidding, kidding).

Hello Casey,

It’s been awhile since we’ve chatted, I hope all has been well with you and yours. I’m writing because Kate will be in town this weekend, and we’re hoping that you’d like to join us for a drink and a talk.

We’d love to sit down, now that the “jig” is up, and have a real conversation about our visit, the Discovery Institute, and the complexities of the issues involved when discussing intelligent design vs. evolution.

I understand you may have concerns about talking with us, and we’d be happy to address that by having a tape recorder on hand so that no one feels their statements were misrepresented in any way.

Please let us know if you’d be interested, we’d quite like to see you again.


So, please, please come, Casey. If you don't care for an aperitif, there's always Starbucks.


18 November 2008

A Burgeoning Atheist's Letter to God, Age 6

So, uh, God. I totally have faith, but what's with this existing forever thing? Prove it. Love, Kate. P.S. Here's my contact info.

dear god but
dear god but 2

I wish I remembered the results.

17 November 2008


Oh no! As a child I wrote about demonic things like fairies (or feries) and Thanksgiving shit and please don't send me back to Catholic school, mommy and daddy!

Age 3:

fery tell

Age 5:

thanksgiving shit

Age 13:

catholic education

And now for a typical 15-year-old poem:

poorem page 1
pooren page 2


15 November 2008

The Official Podcast Drinking Game is Here!

Just follow the instructions to play along. We have a studio time but we don't know when the air date will be yet. In the meantime have fun and be responsible. And go to the Discovery Institute and claim to be a skeptic and atheist and see what sort of reception you have. Just saying is all.

scorecard podcast copy

To see the large, printable version, go here.

Tiana, Kate, Seattle, Skepticality!

So, gentle readers, this coming weekend I'm flying up to Seattle to see my fabulous friend Tiana. There shall be drinks. There shall be fun. There shall be ... doing an interview for a Skepticality podcast about our time at the Discovery Institute, what? Yes! Stay tuned for more information, but realize in the meantime that it shall be awesome. I only wish I was flying into Seattle on Friday so we could visit Casey Luskin and pals one last time so Tiana and I could test the theory that all skeptics are welcome at the DI with open arms.

I'll be sure to post the date it comes out because I'm sure you'll all want to tune in. We can even make a drinking game. Every time Tiana and I saw 'Bwaha' for Behe (as in Michael Behe), take a shot. Every time we mention the term 'Country Club Christian' take a shot, etc. We'll formalize this as time goes on, but I think it's a fantastic idea.


14 November 2008

Later at the Airport - Beauty and Logic in the Universe

I had the fortune to sit next to a kind and interesting gentleman. We began our conversation about cameras as he had a Canon I would maim for. Somehow this led to the topic of astronomy, which is something I'm very interested in and unfortunately know very little about. Eventually, after he explained some very excited long-exposure astro-photography techniques, we were on the subject of atheism. I won't try to directly quote him and if my paraphrase is slightly off, I do hope he'll correct me, but I found what he had to say to be beautiful and close to how I feel. He related that his notions about theology and where we come from are directly related to cosmology and the origins of the universe - pure logic and objectivity. It doesn't put god into the equation and it doesn't take him out. It doesn't involve philosophical ponderings on the existence of god or circular reasoning. I'm a big fan of what he had to say and I realize it's the same way I feel, only I choose to label it atheism. I lack a belief in god, not so much because I dwell on it but because there are so many more beautiful and helpful ideas to spend time thinking about. It's nice to meet someone who elegantly states a position you realize you already held. It's a conversation I imagine Carl Sagan would have enjoyed.

We are star people.

13 November 2008

Sitting in an airport

One hears a lot of woo. Last time I heard a lot of skeptic bashing over an acai berry product. "Oh, so-and-so is a skeptic so naturally she didn't even listen to me when I asked her to buy my product." A product, I (mona-vie) I might mention is about $40 a bottle. Today I'm in the Burlington airport and people are talking about mold toxins. I come from post-Katrina Gulf Coast and I can tell you. It's hype. Well, if you have conditions that cause mold, you have conditions that cause other conditions. It's as simple as that.

The question is, why aren't people critical thinkers?

12 November 2008

Expelled (Oh, Stein - Really?)

I finally saw this poor excuse for a documentary the other day and since I'm up with one of those post-alcohol binge sugar rushes I figure I'll blog about it. It was available for instant viewing on my roommate's netflix account which means I got to see it for free, though I'm sure the makers of Expelled got some paltry compensation for my efforts, unfortunately. First off, I have this to say.


And now for the serious review. Maybe.

Throughout the entire ... thing ... Ben Stein tried to affect this tragically thoughtful look as he thought about Soviet and Nazi regimes and Darwinism and instead of making me sympathetic (as, you should note by now, I so often am), it made me want to give him shaken baby syndrome. Secondly, if you understand the phrase 'argument from (pseudo-)authority' then you understand this film. How many times will you hear Stein say 'and now let's go find out from someone who really knows what's behind this' only to have him interview, say, the author of The Dawkins Delusion. Really moving objectivity. Point 3 - editing. Here I'm a bit confused because Michael Shermer comes off so sterling in his countenance and communication that I'm surprised the editors let it in. He doesn't harrass or attack or name-call. Unlike the others (Dawkins, Dennett, Myers, Hitchens, etc.) he is speaking with his audience in mind and it seems effective. Of course, later in the program Ben Stein learns that even Michael Shermer is 'wrong' but at least he got his foot in the door. As for the stuffier (though still absolutely correct) scientists, it's unfortunate that their valuable words were minced and turned into sound bites because I'm sure someone somewhere would have learned something had they been able to extend to discourse. The lovely Eugenie Scott was another who spoke with her audience in mind as well but, unlike Shermer, she was ripped a new one for it. Why? For being dishonest (basically, she disagreed with Dawkins and Dawkins must be in the right, so she must be lying ... wait, logic?).

I even got to be reunited through the lens with Casey Luskin and Anika for a short time when Stein took the Discovery Institute tour! I do believe Tiana and I had a longer and more interesting experience, however.

If you can manage to watch this, er, film for free or close to it, I urge you to do so - for the lulz and so you know what you're up against when people say they don't believe in evolution. When people say that creationism or intelligent design should be given equal time in the classroom, you'll know what sort of information they're basing this decision on. And now here's a photo of me enacting a fantasy in which I battle to death the 'reptilian' (you'll get why this is amusing if you watch) doom of the ID movement. Cuddles.

roomies 018

11 November 2008

Kill 'Em With Kindness

There's a "virtuous woman" who believes that child abuse is going to save her tiny tot's soul for all eternity. Please read and, if you agree that this is tragic, comment on her blog in a non-alienating way so we can perhaps help at least some people see just how atrocious this sort of behavior is. Please don't engage in any of the "other side's" baiting tactics. Keep it civil and sane and eventually we'll get the message across to ... well, at least one person would be a victory, wouldn't it.

I posed the following question, which I hope someone will answer:

"A question for the religiously-inclined: If this lady was an atheist telling her child she was born evil and awful would THAT be abusive? Honestly, take religion out of the picture and it’s just as bad. It just so happens that religion gives the majority of people an excuse for this sort of atrocious behavior."

If anyone can answer this for me, I'd greatly appreciate it.


On a Personal Note

Today is my wedding anniversary.

And my divorce is finalized on Friday.

Shy Atheists, Bashful Skeptics

I am sure you know or have met somebody who thinks like this. You may, in fact, be one of these people I'm about to describe. If you are, I strongly urge you to consider what I'm about to say.

You're an atheist, but you feel that too many hard-nosed vitriolic cynics have given the label a bad name so now you refuse to refer to yourself as what you truly are. And yet. Yet, you could always make an effort to proudly assert that yes, you are an atheist but that you're willing to discuss your (lack of) belief system with anyone in an open and non-biting fashion. It's what I do. So many people, after talking to me, remark in surprise that they thought atheists were supposed to be bitter and angry and closed to all other arguments. They walk away with at least one new example of atheism and I feel good about myself for representing both myself and my belief system in a positive light.

The same is true of the 'skeptic' label. So many choose the term 'critical thinker' which is fine, but I don't see why a word I view as positive (skeptic) should be taken away from us because others choose to use it negatively. I choose to take it back. I explain, with a smile on my face, what being a skeptic means to me and how I use it to view the world and make decisions by thinking critically. At this point nearly everyone agrees with me and I feel I've reclaimed the world for happy skeptics everywhere.

My point here today is that there is no reason we should let the terms 'atheism' and 'skepticism' become negative words. I've been called an atheist before in a negative fashion. It was spat at me like a slur. I should have wanted to laugh but it stung and I never want anyone to feel that particular arrow again. There is no reason, if you lack a god belief, to not declare yourself an atheist (unless, of course, your job depends on it which will hopefully seem a ludicrous notion one day). So, if you can put a positive face to these labels, by all means do so. In fact, I see it as your duty. Let's move forward for the next generation.

10 November 2008

Would God's Creation Do This?

I'd like to report that on this morning of the 10th of November in the year 2008, I was attacked on the nose by a snowflake. I pose the following question to my readers: If there was a god, would he allow such an abomination to happen to one of his beloved creations? Would he create a design so foul as to flutter about in such a way that one never knows where it may land, thereby making all dodging efforts futile? Nay, I say. If ever there was proof there is no sentient god, this is it, for I was hit on the nose by a snowflake today, and may I say, my friends - it was farking cold.

snowflake on my  nose

On a more serious note, Vermont is amazing. Cuddles.

09 November 2008

A Photo Journal of Our Discovery Institute Adventures

Tiana met me at the Seattle airport on a Friday. It was nearing noon and we decided to hit up a bar for some liquid courage before embarking upon our mission to infiltrate the Discovery Institute disguised as good little Christian school teachers. Our first stop was to a dive place for organic burritos and enormous margaritas. This, clearly not being enough to raise our spirits, displeased Tiana and so we headed down the street for Jack and Cokes.

tiana at our first drinking hole

And so moments later we gulped down our second drinks of the day, and all was good.

second drink before the discovery institute

All was good, that is, until we realized there was a baby. There was a baby in our bar and we had to get out as our inebriation depended on it.

there's a baby in our bar!

All was made right shortly, however, as we found a lovely little place that not only served alcoholic beverages but also provided entertainment in the form of pinball machines. Unfortunately, rum smoothies plus pinball equals pinball death. Observe.

third and final drink before the discovery institute

Lost to the pinball gods

pinball death

Then we had to get down to serious business and plan the gruesome details of how we were going to go about making our precious way in. The prospects were daunting and we didn't expect to last more than five minutes in such a place as we were sure our giggle fits and rum breath would give us away.

dreading the mission

umbrella drink

By the time we were having a blast with our cocktail umbrellas we knew it was time and we could no longer put off the inevitable.

Prior to Crashing the DI ...

Prior to Crashing the DI ...

So away we went. You know the story as Tiana so brilliantly wrote about on her blog (and I linked to each episode in my last post). We were giddy as we left with our unlikely information and our loot and I managed to snap a photo of the seemingly hidden door before we skipped off into the sunset to sing our praises to each other and into more glasses of alcohol as the night approached.

discovery institute

First we went home to roll around in our loot and then we decidedly kicked god out of our hotel room.


rawr evolution

not want

We then went out for more drinks and thought of all the blatant lies we were told in the name of Intelligent Design and it vexed us quite sorely.

seattle 188

seattle 187

seattle 184

But then we went to the park and nobody can be sad or angry at the park so we ended on a high note, especially since we came back and our Do Not Want Bible was gone!

Tiana preferred the swingset.

tiana swing

tiana swing 2

While I preferred the slide.

slide 1
slide 2
slide 3
slide 4
slide 5
slide 6

And there you have it. A perfect day.

05 November 2008

I Figure It's Been Long Enough

So much has happened since my last post. I crashed the Discovery Institute with my friend Tiana in Seattle (we made Pharyngula!), I was laid off from my job, I moved from Mississippi to Vermont and now we've elected our first black president.

My parents never went to school with a black person due to segregation so this is nothing short of monumental. One generation's youth sees civil rights riots and grows up to see overwhelming support of a black presidential candidate. Forgive me if it brings a tear to my eye.

Now if we could just make an atheist electable....

Cuddly Atheist for President 2012!


24 July 2008

Obama Dismisses Faithless Europe

I began viewing Obama's Berlin speech as it was already in progress so I may have missed an appeal or even passing reference to Europe's substantial faithless population. I did hear quite a few appeals to people of different 'faiths' working together and specifically 'Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews'. I know it's political death for an American politician to discuss atheists or atheism, but a part of me was hoping that, while in a different socio-political climate, the Obama who wasn't afraid to discuss secularism (2006) would reappear. Oh, well. It was a nice dream while it lasted.

Looks like it's Lose-Lose again in 2008.


21 July 2008

Atheist Nexus - Quit Crying Into Your Ice Cream

Because you're not alone anymore! That's right, you have friends! Or at least, you will have if you join Atheist Nexus, an exciting new social networking site for atheists, humanists and freethinkers. Brother Richard, site admin, has taken the bumps and twists of braving such a task as launching such a site beautifully and those of us enjoying his site owe him a great deal. It has not gone without controversy and the site has grown much more quickly than he anticipated.

So, join. You will meet more atheists in a week than you've met in your lifetime, especially if you live in the Bible Belt or other highly religious areas.

If you've already joined and you enjoy your time on the site, think about ways you can fundraise for the site. It isn't inexpensive to keep up a quickly growing social networking site and since we're using a service we could all afford to chip in a little either with our money or our time/service. Atheist Nexus is a valuable asset to the atheist community and one I hope to see grow so that others can find shelter in a world that is so often hostile to the unreligious.

I'll see you there, nancies.


19 July 2008

Right, So ...

I realize my new blog is about the friendly face of atheism and I kind of started off with a rant. I mean, it was a valid rant because let's face it. Anyone who believes in the Zodiac has not done their research or is choosing to ignore the evidence and therefore is a complete moro- oh. I was meaning to not do this, you see. Here are some peace offerings for you. Butterflies and puppies! Now everybody is happy!

So About This Zodiac Thing ...

Upon signing up for blogger and filling out my profile information, I couldn't help noticing, after I hit the 'review profile' button, that displayed prominently were my Zodiac sign and Chinese horoscope. Why is there no option to leave this nonsense off one's profile? I feel like I'm supporting this woo by association. I don't even feel this is an atheist thing, either, though it does astound me how many followers of the 'Good Book' subscribe to something so, well ... ungodly. Anyone with even the slightest degree of knowledge in astronomy knows that the stars aren't in the same position they were in when the Zodiac was poofed into idiotic and lucrative existence so many years ago. And it isn't just blogger - it's Myspace and other networking sites, as well.

The Zodiac is as dead as as the armadillo you ran over coming back from Boudreaux's Swamp Shack 3am last Saturday, my friends, and it stinks just as badly. This is no longer an age of dogmatic superstition but an age of science and reason - an infinitely more beautiful thing if you ask me.