An Open Letter to Believers

Note: This has been altered slightly to protect identities.

Dear Believer,

I am confused. I do not hate you because you believe in God, but many of you seem to hate me because I refuse to. I could remark on the irony of that, but it hardly needs pointing out.

It is true that I am an atheist. In fact, I’m proud of my atheism. I came to this belief myself. No one told me to believe this way, no one told me what this book or that book means. I read and determined for myself what it meant. I acknowledge no savior or eye-in-the-sky diety, watching my every move, just waiting for a slip-up. I do not worship a capriciously malevolent bully who punishes thoughtcrime even as he not only condones but commands slavery, genocide and the murder of one’s own children. I find such things repugnant. Why don’t you? Perhaps you have previously encountered only timid atheists, ashamed to admit to their friends and families that they just don’t buy all that superstitious nonsense.

Now, you may be offended by my beliefs. I am equally offended by yours. I get accused of being cruel, insensitive and self-righteous. My experience with most believers has shown you to be a closed-minded, sanctimonious, prejudiced bunch.

I often post controversial statements in my status update to engender debate. These are serious issues, and it’s long past time that we discussed them in the open.

This may surprise you, but I was raised by devoutly religious parents who took both the religion and the heritage seriously. I attended religious school for ten years. My studies included not only the religion I happened to be born into, Judaism, but also a comparative survey of major world religions. I continued my studies on into college and beyond, and still read the Bible and other religious texts regularly. I enjoy the stories, the characters, and most of the all the mythology. But I don’t believe for a second that the laws of physics, biology, mathematics, geology and meteorology were suspended for a while two thousand years ago.

I do not begrudge anyone their faith, but I do insist that if you’re going to make public policy based upon your faith, you back it up with rationality and evidence.

I would love to discuss this issue further with you, and I hope you have the spiritual fortitude to engage in such debate. In my personal experience, it is only those whose faith is weak who wish to avoid the discussion altogether.

Is a serious, well-thought challenge to your core beliefs so beyond your measure?

Let’s talk – really talk – about these issues that inflame so many passions.

Your friend,


Posted in Prejudice, Religion, Science, Society Tagged , , ,

A News Day for the Ages

A man so mad at Discovery Channel programming he actually got a gun, went to their headquarters in my old stamping ground (or is it stomping ground) of Suburban Maryland, and took people hostage just so he could complain to the CEO about a show.

Wow. I’m kind of in awe of the guy’s desperation, actually. Maybe the Mythbusters will rename Buster, their crash test dummy, after him.

Couple that with a story so bizarre it seems lifted from A Very Special Two-Part Law and Order: Special Victims episode, and I’m inclined to have my water tested.

A man in the tony-but-bankrupt bayside town of Vallejo has apparently committed at least four murders. He led police on a high-speed chase with his dead girlfriend in the car. That sort of think takes a serious commitment to your psychotic break.

Although both men were clearly deranged, they were also both killed by police who have no training or even a concept of how to handle the truly delusional.

How does society deal with such grand delusions?

Besides just shooting it dead, I mean.

Posted in Laws, Psychology, Society Tagged , , , ,

Endure the Offense

So many people are up in arms about this Muslim Community Center near ground zero, and I’d just like to know why.

How far is far enough from ground zero? Half a mile? A mile? Nowhere in SoHo? Not in Manhattan? What does it take to satisfy you people?

Once upon a time in this country, Jews needed an act of Congress in order to build a synagogue anywhere. Yes, it’s really true.

Why should Muslims have to move their community center because some group of people is offended by the location? I’m pretty sure the First Amendment not only guarantees freedom of worship, it guarantees your freedom to worship wherever the hell you want.

There’s no “Oh, sure, you can build your church…Just not there. And not there either…just take a step back…one more…one more….” and how many steps back must they take until they fall off the cliff?

You don’t have the right not to be offended by other people’s religious practices. Sorry, you don’t.

Everywhere I go, I see something that offends me. Usually a church or some other place where abject nonsense is peddled as Truth. Not once have I called for a law to ban these offenses.

Being offended is quintessentially American. Learn to endure.

Posted in Immigration, Laws, Politics, Prejudice, Religion

Where Awe Comes From

The vastness of the universe and the depth of literature. Looking at a picture from, say the Hubble telescope fills me with absolute awe.

Imagine the power of a black hole, pulling light itself into its central maw. Now they say that every galaxy has a black hole at its center that provides the spin of the galaxy and may give us some clues to the nature of gravity. That’s fucking amazing! I love it! I love this universe, or multiverse or megaverse or fractoverse or whatever you call it.

The Hubble Peers into the Heart of the Nebula

And the most amazing thing of all is that there’s nothing special about any of this amazing stuff – in our universe, amazing is normal.

Posted in Astrology, Astronomy, Cosmology, Mythology, Religion, Science

What Is an American, Pt. 2

Admittedly, this issue is not easy to reconcile, and not an easy problem for which to provide solutions. A significant number of people want to just round them up and throw them out, a sentiment I can sympathize with but not empathize with, I’m afraid. It’s just a senseless idea with no concept of the reality of the problem. It’s the classic “simple solution to a complex problem” problem that has been with since Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign made the so-called war on drugs seem like the simplest of things. Oops.

So it is with immigration. You can’t solve a complex problem with a simple solution.

There are within the sphere of the larger problem that can be solved simply – but there are so many of them that no single solution can address all the problems.

So it brings us back around to the original question. Why is immigration illegal?

I think to answer that question, we must first ask another: What is an American?

Because how can figure out what constitutes an illegal presence if we have no national identity by which to measure citizenship?

So: What is an American?

Posted in Immigration, Laws, Politics, Prejudice, Society Tagged , , , ,

Why Is Immigration Illegal?

This is a fundamental question for which I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer. How are we determining who is illegal, anyway? People who don’t fill out some government paperwork?

This country was created to be a haven for the beleaguered from around the world. But people with a certain mentality in this country have decided that it’s a haven for them and now that they’re in charge they’re gonna make a bunch of rules outlawing newcomers from taking advantage of the benefits and privileges they so ardently enjoy.

They’ve decided the country is theirs, and not only do they not have to share, sharing is decidedly un-American.


Next: What Is An American?

Posted in Immigration, Philosophy

What Is an American?, Pt. 1

Frankly, I don’t buy any of the arguments people throw out against immigration.”Well,” they say, “they’re breaking the law by being here and they should pay the price.”

Why? Why do we have laws that make it “illegal” for people to be in this country? Most Americans have ancestors who immigrated here. If the immigration laws currently in place had been applied to your ancestors, you’d still be living in the old country.

So I don’t get it. Why is it bad for people to come here? Diversity is the spice of life!

“Well,” they say, “Why should I have to pay for the education or health care of an ‘illegal?’”

You wouldn’t if there was no such thing as illegal immigration. And why wouldn’t you want to meet your personal obligation to society anyway?

After that, the only remaining arguments seem to center around the notion that people who come here “illegally” must have started out as criminals, otherwise they would just have stayed home.

I don’t even know how to begin explaining the depth of prejudice that attitude reveals. To assume that someone is guilty of a crime because they cross an international border without filling out some paperwork is not only prejudicial, it’s the height of elitist arrogance.

I got sour news for you, Jack. This country wasn’t made so you could decide who gets to come and who doesn’t. The Founding Fathers understood that when they wrote that all are created equal. Not just people who already live here and have money, influence, property and power.

Concludes in Part 2

Posted in Immigration, Laws, Politics, Prejudice, Society Tagged , ,

Another Nail in Meat-Eating’s Coffin

More and more research suggests that eating animal flesh has a direct link to aging.

Last month, as reported by AOL News a new study released shows that calories aside, meat consumption causes greater weight gain than vegetarian diets.

Both science and religion agree that all life on earth is made of the same material. Genetics confirm that all planetary species are closely related. So it seems to me that eating any flesh is essentially cannibalism.

It certainly isn’t very healthy

Oh, and by the way, this is not a study done by a group with an agenda. This one comes to us courtesy the National Institutes of Health.

Read it and weep, flesh eaters.

Posted in Cosmology, Food/Eating, Philosophy

Ben Folds vs. Joseph Campbell

Joe Campbell

Joseph Campbell said he had “neither philosophy nor ideology.”

Ben Folds said “Go ahead, you can laugh all you want, I got my philosophy

What can I say? I agree with both of them. It’s the classic 21st Century Conundrum: In a world of infinite communication and infinite mobility, how do we interpret the important stuff from the dreck?

Hammer down, Ben!

Posted in Music, Mythology, Philosophy Tagged , ,

Praying with Lior, Part 2

I watched the second half of the film Praying with Lior (see Part 1 for a synopsis). Now (spoiler), Lior celebrates his Bar-Mitzvah and successfully becomes a man. The Bar-Mitzvah itself is portrayed in a montage fashion, answering the question posed at the beginning of the film: What will his Bar-Mitzvah be like? Answer: Pretty much like any other.

Lior worked hard, and his speech as edited by his Dad was heartfelt. But it was a little strange – here’s this rabbi telling him he’s a spiritual conduit carrying their prayers to God – heady stuff even if you’re not afflicted with Down Syndrome. Does Lior’s inability to interpret social cues make him immune to that sort of ego-trip? Or does he think he’s actually God’s representative on earth? Such matters don’t really seem to concern him, actually. He’d much rather be up there, beating his drum and singing to Hashem.

Lior davens (prays)

It’s also impossible to tell if his awareness of his disability translate to the understanding that the way Lior is different from other people is different from how most people are different from other people – a fine distinction perhaps, but isn’t that at the heart of it?

Maybe I’m just griping. He’s obviously a sweet kid with nary a mean bone in his body. Or maybe that’s it – he’s all heart – literally – there’s that Sagittarian influence again. He’s only heart.

Considering the left-brained wall we’re running into as a species, maybe we need a few people who are all heart.

Posted in Astrology, Astronomy, Movies, Mythology, Religion, Science Tagged , , , ,