Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blasphemy Day at Purdue

Wednesday the 30th was International Blasphemy Day, and Purdue was one of the many campuses where an event took place. What the heck is Blasphemy Day, you ask? Well, here's the information the Society of Non-Theists had on the flyers we handed out:
Blasphemy Day International is a campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a day to promote free speech and stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, and reprisal. The primary focus of the Blasphemy Day movement is not to debate the existence of any gods or deities, to promote hate or violence, or to insult or offend. Nor is it a movement of atheists – the tenets of one religion blaspheme against another if they disagree. The main objective of Blasphemy Day is to open up all religious beliefs to the same level of free inquiry, discussion and criticism to which all other areas of academic interest are subjected.

Why September 30? It is the anniversary of the original publication of Danish cartoons in 2005 depicting the prophet Muhammad's face. Any visual depiction of Muhammad is considered a grave offence under Islamic law. The fury which arose within the Islamic community following this publication led to massive riots, attacks on foreign embassies and deaths.
So what did the we do? Like it stated, our goal isn't to offend just to get our rocks off. And since Purdue is a fairly conservative campus, we went the safe route of just celebrating freedom of speech. We put up blank posters that anyone could write or draw on, with no censorship at all.When I set up the event at 9am, we had 6 starkly blank flyers. At 11:30 I walked by on the way to my next class, and they were already full. By 12:30 when I returned, six more posters had been purchased by a new member (a friendly theist, actually!) and were already filling up. By 1:20, we had a total of 18 posters up, and by the end of the day people were having a hard time finding space to write anything new.The messages ranged from politics, religion, and philosophy to potty humor, penis drawings, and internet memes. Some messages were deep, some were hilarious, and some were downright strange. Some I agreed with, and some I definitely did not. But that was the great thing about the day. I wasn't offended if someone wrote about Jesus or Glenn Beck because our goal was to show everyone has the right to free speech, even if it's criticizing others, including myself.Throughout the day we attracted quite the crowd. Many random students wanted to add their opinions, and many more just wanted to read what others had said. I didn't hear a single negative reaction through the day. Everyone was smiling and saying what a cool event it was, and people were asking if we could leave it up for the rest of the week. Unfortunately we couldn't, especially since we later found out taping things to buildings is a no-no.
Yes, I had about a 30 minute conversation with the police about tape (I guess that's how I pantomime adhesives). I think I scared the crap out of my members, because they had no idea what I was talking to the police about for the longest time. Effectively there was a miscommunication between me and the people approving the event (they didn't realize we were taping it to the pillars), so it ended up not being a big deal at all, especially since we only had an hour of the event left. Pablo, the Dean of Students who I know from doing club stuff for the last three years, basically just had to come and make sure it was okay.

Pablo: Tape, that's it? Man, I was ready to march down here and defend you guys and your freedom of speech and it's just about silly tape?

All we had to do was promise to clean it up, so all was right with the world!

All in all, I'd call the day a success! Who knows, we probably offended someone (I think our mere existence offends some people), but the most common reaction was very positive. Let this be a lesson to all the atheist activists out there - you can be outgoing and controversial while still being nice!

Tomorrow I'll have time to photograph each of the signs, and I'll post them here for your viewing pleasure. But other than that, what should I do with them?! Art exhibit? eBay? Wallpaper to cover the hideous wood paneling in my apartment?

Thanks

Hey guys,

I just wanted to sincerely say thank you to everyone who left such nice uplifting comments on my last post. I promise I'm not quitting the club or blog or converting or anything. I've just been having a stressful week (which is an understatement*) and those letters were the final straw, you know? Much of what was said is exactly what I've repeatedly told friends and members, but I think I needed to hear it from someone else to make sure I wasn't just deluding myself.

Now, off to go finish our poster for Blasphemy Day! I'll give you an update later, assuming I don't get lynched before the day is over.**

Also, I will hold you all to your offers of buying me drinks.

*So far I've had two presentations (one of which I woke up 10 minutes before I was supposed to be there), a big exam, teaching, organizing our Richard Dawkins trip, I lost both my debit and credit card, I got triple charged printing BD flyers because I'm an idiot, I had to beg people to volunteer for BD...and I still have 3 scientific papers to read in the next couple hours, BD itself, trying to finish my research paper for my lab, a genetics presentation Thursday worth half of my grade, my Physics lab report, and my final paper for my laboratory class which is also worth half my grade. I actually have had about 3 different blog posts I've wanted to make, but I think you can understand why I haven't yet.
** The way this week is going, I wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Atheism Activism Frustrations

Sigh.

Sometimes, I admit, I have to wonder if what I'm doing is actually having any effect. Yesterday's letter got me a little down, but after reading Greta Christina's great post discussing what if the atheist movement actually succeeds, I felt a bit better. But there are now two more letters in the Exponent that illustrate what the atmosphere at Purdue is really like. Effectively, "stop criticizing us because Christians have the right to do and say whatever you want, but since you're a mean poopy head atheist you need to shut up."

Why do I bother?

I have devoted so much time, effort, and even money into developing the Society of Non-Theists, and while we're a big active group, are we actually accomplishing our goals? We do one event that's mildly controversial, and instantly we're being called lazy, ignorant, zealots, idiots, biased... I'm not necessarily upset that people disagree with me, but I'm upset that people are so damned ignorant about it. You can tell from their letters that they either didn't read our flyers, didn't visit our website, or at the very list didn't try to rub two brain cells together to understand what we were doing. They don't even try to be intellectually honest. And I can write letters back, but even if they do get printed (which only some will), they're not going to have any effect because these people are so closed minded. Even ranting here seems effectively pointless, since I'm just preaching to the choir. It's all well and good that people pat me on the back for writing a well thought out argument, but does it matter if only non-theists and skeptics are reading it? Or that even if a theist did read it, they'd just ignore it?

Or how do we even go about planning events if one controversial one is going to totally ruin our reputation? People will see our tame Blasphemy Day event tomorrow and think we're a bunch of jackasses. They'll go on claiming we're amoral or don't volunteer, even though we have volunteered and have many more philanthropic events coming in the future. But they're so set in their ways they're not going to take the time to ask questions or read a website. They know we're not doing those things.

Blah. Maybe it's just Indiana, or just my campus, or just the US, but it's getting pretty damned frustrating.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One thousand and one atheist blogs

Nope, not Dalmatians! The Atheist Blogroll, "a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world" that's run by Mojoey over at Deep Thoughts, has finally grown to more than a thousand blogs! Who was the lucky number 1000? ...Me! I say lucky because Martinpribble actually signed up before me, but forgot his url, so go check out his blog too (looks like he has some awesome rock climbing photos over there, if you're into that).

I think I may possibly get new people stopping by, so let me awkwardly introduce myself. I'm a nerdy biology-loving chick trapped in Indiana and the president of my university's student group for atheists. I like to draw silly comics, talk about sex (a lot), cringe at atheists behaving badly, behave masochisticly by visiting religious things like the Creation Museum, and of course (and predominantly), ramble about atheism and religion.

So...uh...hello blogosphere, interwebs, etc!

Non-theists just whiny brats?

I didn't post earlier because I'm having a kind of sour day, mainly because I opened the newspaper to find this lovely letter to the editor:

Non-theists are ‘little more than a club of whiny brats’
Publication Date: 09/28/200

To the Society of Non-Theists:

All right guys, so apparently it is rude and bad for a man to come here and share his opinions with others who wish to listen. Oh, but I thought this was America, not North Korea.

And also, taunting said man with open mockeries of his beliefs is how you attempt to argue his opinions? I thought this was a college, not a kindergarten. You all seem like little more than a club of whiny brats merely exploiting the trend that in today’s “cool” society, it’s perfectly acceptable to prosecute and heckle Christians. Oh, you think I’m full of crap, and that you guys somehow acceptably embody non-theism and encourage tolerance amongst all peoples without merely harassing any single group? Why don’t you go pull your pirate and spaghetti bit in front of the Islamic Center all day (they are theistic, after all), and see how many people won’t see you all as bigoted assholes?

I’m all for open, equal debate, but the way your group goes about things is very childish and more anti-Christian than non-theist.

Josh Phillips

Junior in the College of Science

Sigh. I could write a book in reply to this, but yet again, I am limited to 300 words. I'd love to elaborate here, but I'm frantically studying for my Physics exam (electromagnetism is magic, MAGIC I tell you!) so here's the letter I sent in reply:

Josh Phillips: First, I want to clarify that the quote of me saying Brother Jed was disrespectful so the Society of Non-Theists could be rude too wasn’t a misquote: it was a complete fabrication. I didn’t even talk to the reporter about Brother Jed, nor would I say something so immature. We had our Pastafarian Preaching planned for that day before knowing Brother Jed was coming. Furthermore, we never stopped Brother Jed from speaking – we fully support free speech, which is why we can talk too.

Now that that’s out of the way…Josh, I think you need to look up the meaning of “satire.” We were trying to look as silly as possible because that is exactly how fire and brimstone street preachers like Brother Jed look. One of our goals was to show that waving signs and yelling isn’t the proper place for civil discourse about religion. That’s why we preached the Flying Spaghetti Monster rather than atheism. The vast majority of our events are civil discussions or lectures on theism and atheism. However, it’s impossible to communicate with someone whose beliefs are based on emotion. Faith, by definition, is not based on evidence. We can present rational arguments until we turn blue, but that doesn’t matter to many theists.

As for your Christian persecution complex… You live in a country where you’re privileged that your religion enjoys the majority status. Someone disagreeing with Christianity isn’t discrimination. If Hindus made national laws outlawing eating beef, or Muslims changed our motto to “In Allah We Trust,” we’d be protesting them just as much. If you want to understand persecution, ask a Christian in China, a Bahá'ís in Iran, a Muslim in America, Hindus in Kashmir, Jews all over the world…I think having your feelings hurt will pale in comparison.

Not sure if mine will be printed - haven't gotten a phone call yet. Apparently many other members sent in a response letter, though, so hopefully some reason will get into our student newspaper. Ironic how this happened right after one of my friends, who is a Christian, told Christians who claim persecution to stop their whining.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Contact: The Musical

Apparently a theater group has come up with the musical adaptation to Carl Sagan's Contact. I usually either love or hate musicals, but I have to admit this one causes some giddy excitement. When someone asks me my favorite movie, I will unhesitatingly say Contact. I love it despite people harassing me for it or South Park teasing it. I first watched it with my dad when I was about 10, which was the same time I was super interested in everything space-related: I was in our elementary school's astronomy club (yes, we had one) and was absolutely dying to go to Space Camp (parents wouldn't let me though, sadness). I loved that movie so much that my dad bought me the VHS, and we probably watched it at least once a year. I'm sure after the fifth time he wanted to stab his eyes out, but what are dads for if not to suffer through things for their child's enjoyment? The one theist I dated bought the DVD for me before I graduated so I could have it at college, and watching the love scenes between Ellie and Palmer (an atheist and theist, respectively) with him probably motivated me to give our relationship a chance (even though it eventually ended pretty badly).

But other than my emotional (and possibly irrational) attachment to the film, I'm still excited about the songs. Who doesn't want this potential soundtrack about science and religion, the search for extraterrestrial life, and aliens that look like your daddy?

Blogging is serious business

It seems like I've been on a trend of ranty/serious blogging lately. While I enjoy reading the discussions that go on in the comments, they also start to drain on me after a while. So, here, have something silly:

Me: Will you take my picture? I want a before shot, while I'm still female
Friend: Sure. No, pose more girly.
Me: KayAmerica's Next Top Model, I am not. I can totally imagine Nigel telling me that my hand looks like a claw or Tyra saying I'm not smizing enough (yes, I fully expect you all to shun me for watching that stupid show). Oh, and sunburn from our Pastafarian preaching, yay!

But then the clock struck 8, and instead of turning into a pumpkin, I turned into......a skeevy used car salesman! I mean, a male! Actually, with my hair down I looked eerily like Penn Jillette, which would explain my magic trick of making my D-cups disappear.

Yes, Friday night I held a drag party. I think that's an acceptable excuse for not blogging.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Porn and Popcorn clarifications

When giant discussions/debates erupt in my comments, I'm generally more pleased than annoyed. I consider it a success that I have enough readers who care enough to keep checking back. Even when someone posts something trollish, or maybe just something I disagree with, I usually don't have to take the time to reply because someone else will. But the comments from my letter to the editor about Porn & Popcorn have exploded, and I feel compelled to personally reply before the arguments get any sillier.

First, Donny Pauling, the ex-porn producer who spoke at the event found my post and has done most of the posting. To be honest, Donny, I really don't need to say anything to you because your posts have totally proven my point. You retold the same stories you said at the event that show you and other horrible predators are the problem, not porn itself. You also show that you have absolutely no solid evidence for your claims, only emotional stories that may or may not have actually happened. Show me scientific studies by unbiased groups that show the same evils of porn you claim exist, and then I'll take you seriously.

I'm not necessarily 100% pro-porn. I recognize that there are probably plenty of issues in the industry (just as there are with any industry). There are probably women who get tricked into doing it or who suffer negative consequences, and it may contribute to unrealistic body image expectations of women - but that doesn't mean all porn is bad, or that porn itself is actually the problem. I would argue our society's views on sex in general are the real problem. If we had comprehensive sex education, people would know how to properly use contraception, would know what real sex is like, would not use porn as their standard. Everyone would be able to recognize it as purely fantasy (a thing I think most people do anyway), just like watching a romantic comedy and realizing all relationships don't happen like that, or a sci-fi movie and knowing aliens really haven't invaded the Earth. And to argue that porn is the only thing presenting unrealistic images of women is laughable - have you ever watched tv, read a magazine, seen any advertisement? Unrealistic body images is a thing we need to confront, but the way to do that is not to demonize porn.

Oh, and Donny? While I usually don't condone arguments devolving into caps lock and swearing, I'm going to have to agree with jemand:
WOMEN!!! WOMEN you FUCKING IDIOT DOUCHBAG! You are such a misogynistic prick... of COURSE you have to call them girls, because then you can dismiss and belittle their choices.
You deserve this reaction because you were acting like a total prick and provoking the commenters with your passive aggressive and misogynistic comments. The fact that you needed this as an excuse to give up on the discussion shows how your arguments don't have a leg to stand on. You could have been the better person, ignored it, maybe even apologized for obviously causing hurt feelings - but instead you used it as an excuse to run and hide. Thank you, Donny - now I won't have to have my inbox cluttered with your repetitive, long winded comments.

Miranda, who apparently helped put on the event, claims:
"You came to this event to make it into a joke, to try to provoke us and to cause debates."
Really? Prove it. Where did I ever say that was my goal? I went with many club members, and I repeatedly told them to be respectful, to not shout things or interrupt, and to try to keep their giggling to a minimum as to not disrupt others. Nor did I want to start any debates or piss people off. I did want to ask questions since the event presented such gross misinformation, but of course, it didn't allow for a Q&A session. When not able to do that, I decided to post my review on my own personal blog. If someone disagreeing with you offends you so much, either get some thicker skin, improve your arguments, or just avoid the internet altogether. And Miranda, you didn't need me to make the event into a joke - it did that all on its own.
"But just because you disagree does not give you the right to take things out of context and spread lies about what was said."
Both you and Donny have claimed that I spread horrible lies about the event, yet have failed to present any proof of this. The only thing Donny has pointed out was that I said a mechanic, rather than his buddy, said his God inducing electrical shock was a shock plug problem. I admit this tiny detail was wrong, but it's also irrelevant to the point of the story. If that's the worst I did, I'm ahead of most of the American media. I had a notebook that I was taking notes in, and many of the others who were there confirmed the quotes that I mentioned. Do I need to start bringing video cameras to events to prove what ridiculous things they're saying? Actually, that may have been better. That way I could have just posted the video without my commentary, and then when hundreds of people reached the same conclusions as me, you'd have a lot harder time calling me biased.
"...but my questions is why can’t you accept us for our beliefs? You chose to believe in no god or in a god that is not involved, and that is your choice. I chose to believe in God and in Jesus, so why can’t you accept my beliefs and the beliefs of Stewart Cooperative and of XXXChruch?"
You can go on believing whatever you want. And I in no way want to ban Christian groups from voicing their opinions, a position I explicitly state in my letter. But that doesn't mean that I need to shut up and accept whatever you're saying. You have the right to state your opinion, and I have the right to say you're wrong. If this was just some private event at a church or something, I wouldn't bother - but you decided to present this nonsense to the entire student body. Not only that, but PSUB, an organization meant to represent all Purdue students, sponsored it. I have the right to go, and I have the right to say it was awful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Video of my Creation Museum presentation

At long last, here's the video of my presentation about my trip to the Creation Museum - yes, the one that Ken Ham is already blogging about. I do warn you, it's long. My talk is about an hour and then there's about 25 minutes of Q&A. The first couple minutes are a little rocky because I was kind of nervous, but then I get in my groove and I think it's pretty good, if I do say so myself.



Overall I received very positive feedback, even from some of the theists in the room. As you'll see if you watch the Q&A, Pastor Brent Aucoin of the Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette attended. He was nice enough to email me and ask if he could come to the event (of course he could!) and disclosed that he helped with the construction of the Creation Museum (and I can only assume he is the supporter that Ken Ham mentions in the post about my talk). He was very civil, and I thank him for that, but he did repeat the same creationist arguments that we hear over and over again. My favorite part is at the 1:09:00 mark. At the very least, watch it for my friend doing a literal *facepalm* twenty seconds later.

Though, the thing that made my talk totally worth it? My former Human Genetics professor (you can see her behind the Pastor) who's 80-something, super liberal, intelligent, hilariously witty, a fan of Stephen Colbert, a non-theist, and a Holocaust survivor came up and shook my hand for about five minutes straight, saying how we needed more people like me who were brave enough to speak out against this stuff. Coming from someone I respect so much, that meant a lot.

Oh, and the tiny little blip about 50 minutes in isn't us hiding something, it's us changing the tape, haha.

Ken Ham blogs about my Creation Museum lecture!

I've hit the big-time, guys - Ken Ham, founder and head of the Creation Museum, is blogging about the talk I gave at Purdue last night. And of course, even though he wasn't there, hasn't seen any video, and has yet to put up the reports from his informant (the pastor who came), he's already reacting to what I may or may not have said:

Of course it is no surprise this person mocks the Bible’s account of origins—she’s an atheist! And one of the mantras of these atheists is that they vehemently attack the Creation Museum because children visit and are challenged concerning what to believe about origins. Of course, what is no surprise is that the atheists want to indoctrinate children in atheistic evolution and that there is no God.

And it would be no surprise to you that they don’t complain about the thousands upon thousands of children who visit the secular evolutionist museums, including the specialist children’s museums across the country where they are presented with atheistic and evolutionary ideas as fact—with no suggestion there could even be a different way of looking at things. (At the Creation Museum, children and adults are told about different ways of looking at the same evidence, and, so, we present the evolution belief system, but we do take a strong stand on the biblical account nonetheless).

As you'll see when I post the video tonight, I fully disclose at the beginning of my talk that I am a biologist and an atheist, so people in the audience know where I'm coming from. I also repeatedly mention that the Creation Museum does not represent all Christians.

Then he starts talking about the Indianapolis Children Museum:

In the very popular dinosaur exhibit, millions of years is presented numerous times as fact. But also look at the other sign—there are neither “good” nor “bad” values or beliefs—just different ones.

  1. Atheists today (like the one from Purdue University) claim Christianity is “bad,” that children should not be exposed to Christianity—but, of course, they can be exposed to everything else, and as far as everything else is concerned it is neither “good” nor “bad”—only Christianity is bad!
  2. This is indoctrinating children not only in atheistic evolution, but indoctrinating them to believe that morality is relative—that there really are no rules—one can do what one wants (except believe in Christian morality, of course).
I never claim Christianity is bad, or that you must be an atheist to believe in evolution - I explicitly say in my talk that many Christians believe in evolution. But tonight you'll be able to see for yourself what I did and didn't say. Unfortunately I'm stuck on campus until 8 or 9 PM, so it won't be up until late tonight. Maybe I'll send it along to Dr. Ham and see what he thinks after really hearing what I said.

I have a feeling he still won't like it.

Oh, what is it with Creationists not linking to their opponents or mentioning them by name? He went out of his way to delete any instance of Jennifer McCreight (or even Jennifer), and didn't link to the Society of Non-Theists's website (wouldn't expect him to know my blog). Sadness.

My Letter to the Editor

I guess the Exponent has been running it's special "Jennifer McCreight Edition" over the last couple of days. Not only was I quoted in two articles yesterday, but my letter to the editor was printed today:

PSUB's 'Porn and Popcorn' slandered non-Christians

Publication Date: 09/22/2009

Last time I checked, PSUB’s purpose is to “Present programs designed to meet current entertainment, cultural, recreational, social, and educational needs of students.” So why did they sponsor the Stewart Cooperative’s Porn and Popcorn event Sept. 11?

The event was a Christian anti-pornography event full of emotional arguments and void of scientific information. They presented gross misconceptions and outright lies about human sexuality to young adults, individuals who need proper health information the most. They went as far to say that “Protective sex is a joke” and that you would get diseases and pregnant no matter what sort of contraception you used, which is simply not true. Is this the kind of “educational” event PSUB sponsors?

Not only that, but the event slandered non-Christian students by stating that “To connect with an unbeliever is to connect with the devil” and “If he can’t be faithful to God, he can’t be faithful to you.” As an atheist and the President of the Society of Non-Theists, I am extremely concerned that PSUB would sponsor an event that told downright lies about a significant percentage of Purdue’s student body. Non-believers are just as faithful to their partners as Christians, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous and unfounded.

If religious groups want to put on biased programming that alienates people, go ahead. But PSUB is supposed to represent the entire student body, and for them to fund this is unacceptable. Why doesn’t PSUB remain religiously neutral like RHA?

Their only reply to my concerns was a form e-mail stating that Stewart Cooperative’s “application met our requirements.” So PSUB, once someone gets your money, they can do whatever they want with it? It doesn’t matter if their event is an unwelcoming environment for many students or contrary to PSUB’s purpose?

Jennifer McCreight

Senior in the College of Science

Let's see if I get any responses!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I am a technology n00b, help!

Alright, I'm sure at least one of my followers has to know a thing or two about computers...so please help me! Here's my problem:

I had a canon camcorder for the Pastafarian Preaching day. When I plugged it into my computer with a firewire cable and turned it on, my computer recognized it and I was able to transfer that day.

Fast forward to today. I have a different camcorder, but very very similar model. This one is a Canon Vixia HV30. I connected it in the same exact way with a firewire cable (different one, provided with this camcorder - I don't have the previous one) and my computer will not recognize it. It'll do the little "You connected something!" beep, but that's it. When I open Window's Movie Maker and try to capture video, it says I have nothing connected. The website says drivers should automatically download and there's nothing on the site you can download. I've tried restarting both the computer and the video camera. It's recorded on a tape, not an SD card. I'm on Windows XP.

If you want the video of me giving my Creation Museum talk...help!

Non-theists in student newspaper

Our Pastafarian Preaching got us into not one, but two articles in the Exponent today! The first one focused on just us, and was the better of the two articles:
Non-theist group demonstrates against religion

By Bridget Johnston

Staff Reporter

Publication Date: 09/21/2009

A band of swashbuckling pirates occupied campus on Friday, but not to loot and pillage.

The Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University gathered to voice their opinions on religion. Members chose to dress as pirates to satirize religious teachings that certain followers are better than everyone else by sarcastically saying that pirates are the chosen people.

“Our main message is that everyone should be able to criticize religion just like every other idea,” said Jennifer McCreight, a senior in the College of Science and president of the Society of Non-Theists, “especially if it is silly or hateful.”

The group for atheist, agnostic and non-religious students carried signs and read verses from the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is a parody of religion itself. The book challenges religious teachings and contradictions the Non-theists find absurd.

Although the responses to the demonstration were generally positive, some students felt that it was disruptive.

“I think that they definitely have a right to encourage students to think about these things,” said Quinn Frey, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts. “Although, they were kind of in the way, making passing through the area a little inconvenient.”

The Society of Non-Theists has been trying to humanize the bad reputation that non-religious people sometimes have. Along with a day dedicated to “debunking atheist stereotypes,” the group is planning on working on a service project on the National Secular Service Day on Oct. 18.

McCreight believes that overall, the student responses to the pirate demonstration were positive.

“Although we have previously had some people get angry, the vast majority of responses to our actions are positive.”

The second one focuses on Brother Jed, and they didn't misquote me...they just completely made it up!

The Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University were at Memorial Mall by coincidence to talk about Pirate Day.

“When we found out he was here we made signs to refute his arguments,” Jennifer McCreight, president of the society and senior in the College of Science. “I don’t think it’s disrespectful that we’re here because it’s rude that he’s here.”

What the hell? I never said anything even resembling that. I got to talk to the reporter for about five seconds, and all she asked me about was how non-theists felt on Purdue's campus. I talked about our flyers being torn down, prayer at graduation, being in the minority...yet somehow they quoted me as saying that?

Maybe one of our members said that, but I most certainly did not...especially because it's false. We did not make signs to refute his arguments. We had the signs left over from last year. We didn't even know he was coming until after we planned our event. And the second line doesn't even make sense! Gah!

Of course, by now I've pretty much lost all faith in the media actually reporting things correctly...bah humbug. At least the first article was really nice.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My dad is awesome

In case you didn't figure that out from my previous post about my family...

Dad: [On Facebook, about Pastafarian Preaching photos] Some great looking pirates. I had do some research (you're keeping my mine active) figure out what Pastafarian meant. It makes good sense to me.
Me: [Through email, to mom and dad] You'd both probably like to know that your daughter was interviewed by the local tv station for the 5 o clock news...dressed as a pirate. Thankfully the piece was very positive. Love, J
Dad: Got a kick out of you facebook pictures - you make a great pirate. You represented yourself well on the news interview -- but tell them to get your name right next time. Love, Dad
Me: They even had me pronounce it on camera, and they still got it wrong! And spelled it wrong, did you catch that? Not to mention the club name..."Non-thesis" ha!
Dad: The reporter is probably in training for Fox News.

<3

Purdue's Pastafarian Preaching!

Yesterday the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University had their annual Pastafarian Preaching. We go out in full pirate regalia preaching the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and hand out flyers to the confused students who run into us. One side of the flyer contains the "Eight I Really Rather You Didn't"s and the other side explains what the FSM is really about. We want to be a satire of your stereotypical fire and brimstone street preacher to show not only how ridiculous these people look, but that we have the right to criticize religious beliefs, especially if they're silly or hateful.In a stroke of wonderful luck that proves to me that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does exist, we found out Brother Jed was going to be there the same day as us. Brother Jed is a fairly infamous campus preacher who unites all religious denominations in laughing at him. He also looks exactly like Eugene Levy, which makes it all the more hilarious.We basically caused chaos for poor Brother Jed. We had our own readings from the Gospel while he was reading from the Bible, we held up our silly signs all around his, we giggled at all of the ridiculous things he was saying, we skipped around him singing pirate songs...but most of all, we got a great response from students who were sick of Jed's nonsense.
We started to get a little bored with his ranting, so we decided to commandeer the Boilermaker Special, to the cheers of the crowd around Brother Jed. The train is Purdue's mascot, so we have a little train looking car thing that you can get rides on on Fridays. So we climbed aboard and enjoyed our new ship, shouting piratical things at the now even more confused Purdue students.
When we returned Brother Jed was still going strong. Two of the Mormon missionaries approached us and asked what was going on. Oddly enough, they became our allies. We talked about how hateful Brother Jed was and how his method of preaching really didn't make any sense. As silly as I think Mormonism is, I have to admit that the missionaries on campus are generally nice guys. Much preferred to people like Brother Jed.
Overall, the day was a success. We didn't have any negative feedback, we handed out thousands of flyers, many people thanked us for what we were doing, we got interviewed by the Exponent for multiple stories, and we made the local tv news. I'm not sure how we could have done much better!
I can't do the day justice through talking about it, so here's a video of some of our pirate antics and Brother Jed's hilarious nonsense.

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, me harties! Arrrrr!

EDIT: One of our other Pirates has blogged about it too, with more photos and video!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Purdue Pastafarians make the local tv news!

I just got home from a full day of pirate preaching and dinner, so I longer post will be coming later...but The Society of Non-Theists made the local news!


I'm so excited! And they didn't show me saying anything dumb! One minor quibble - they said my last name wrong. It's pronounced Mc-Crite. Sadness. Oh well, I'm used to it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best TA ever

Last night I emailed my Physics TA about my Friday 2 hour lab class. It falls directly during the peak hours of our Pastafarian Preaching, which greatly saddened me. Physics lab, however, has set make up dates for if you miss a lab for a valid reason, like illness. I asked if me being in charge of a student organization's day long counter protest would constitute as a valid reason...and he said sure!

Granted, I didn't include details of what we were going to be protesting (Brother Jed, I can't tell you how excited I am for that) or what we'll be wearing while protesting, or even what club it was for...but he didn't ask. Maybe his noodliness used divine intervention to sway his opinions.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get my pirate costume ready.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I love internet memes

It's hard to judge how quickly a meme is going to become annoying, so I'm going to enjoy this one while it's still hilarious. At least, hilarious to me.

(Hat tip to Mark)

A blogger's dilemma

I got out of my biology laboratory about two hours early thanks to my awesome lab partner being bored and coming in to start an hour early. As I was happily walking home, I ran into something you'll reliably see on a fall afternoon at Purdue: the two Mormon guys with their Books of Mormon and posters about Jesus.

Mormon: Hi, do you have a minute to talk?
Devil on my shoulder: Oh my god, this will probably make a hilarious blog post. Who doesn't like illogical arguments from Mormons?! Do it, do it.
Devil on other shoulder: I'm want to go home, drink a coke, and take a nap. Don't you dare.

Unfortunately for you guys, lazy Jen won out and I just said "No thanks." Well, I guess I'm still making a blog post about it, so whatever.

To be honest I don't like engaging random preaching theists unless something special really draws me in. I have talked to the Mormons once, and it went something like this:

Me: *accidentally makes eye contact* Oops
Mormon: Hi, would you like to hear the question of the day?
Me: Oh no, now I'm curious. Sure.
Mormon: What's the meaning of life.
Me: Life has no preordained purpose, only that which you give it.
Mormon: *shocked look, like no one has said that to him all day* ...What? You don't believe in a God given purpose?
Me: I'm an atheist.
Mormon: ...What? *even more shock*

Unfortunately I needed to run to class so I couldn't stay and answer his further questions about my godlessness, not like it really would have made a difference. I would have gone on being a heathen, and he would probably still be giving away pocket bibles in his short sleeve dress shirt and little backpack*.

*As a side note, would someone like to enlighten me why the Mormon missionary outfit is so dorky looking? I mean, I understand that they don't want to walk around in jeans and a t-shirt, but why not a long sleeved shirt or a polo? Why where the little backpack that straps in front at all times? Do they dislike homosexuality so much that they refuse to listen to basic fashion advice?

A form letter response to Porn and Popcorn

On Monday I wrote to the Purdue Student Union Board about the problems with the Porn and Popcorn event. I thought I may have slightly better luck since I somewhat know the President (had a couple classes together, are Facebook friends, will wave hello when we pass, etc). Here's my email:
This past Friday I and approximately 25 members of the Society of Non-Theists attended Porn and Popcorn, an event cosponsored by the Stewart Cooperative and (according to the flyers) PSUB. I am writing you because I am very disappointed that PSUB decided to sponsor such an event, as it seems against its purpose to "Present programs designed to meet current entertainment, cultural, recreational, social, and educational needs of students." I have two major complaints about the event:

1. No part of the event was based on factual or scientific information even though it claimed to be education. They presented gross misconceptions and outright lies about human sexuality to young adults, individuals who need proper health information the most. They went as far as saying that "Protective sex is a joke" and that you would get diseases and pregnant no matter what sort of contraception you used, which is simply a falsehood. It appalls me that such dangerous information could be connected to PSUB's name, especially when Purdue University and PUSH work so hard to educate Purdue students about sex. If anything, this was detrimental to the educational needs of the students.

2. The event slandered non-Christian students by stating that "To connect with an unbeliever is to connect with the devil" and "If he can't be a faithful to God, he can't be faithful to you." As an atheist and the President of the Society of Non-Theists, I am extremely concerned that PSUB would sponsor an event that told downright lies about a significant percentage of Purdue's student body. Their discussion that non-believers are of the devil and are certainly going to cheat on their significant other is troubling, and hopefully you can understand why. In addition to this, when the speaker was asking questions about audience member's boyfriends and girlfriends, and asked if anyone had a "crazy drama girlfriend," two of our female members raised their hands. A student then walked by and called our group "Faggots." I know neither Stewart nor PSUB can control audience members, but this sort of "If you're not a straight sex-abstaining Christian, there's something wrong" attitude seemed to be the main theme of the event. I understand that the majority of Purdue students are Christians, and thus PSUB will likely sponsor Christian programming, but I am disappointed that this event was not welcoming to non-Christians.

I in no way want to ban further Christian events from being held at Purdue - they have every right to have their voice heard - but it worries me that PSUB, which is supposed to represent the student body as a whole, was associated with such an event. Thank you for listening to my concerns, and hopefully these problems won't occur again in the future.

Jennifer McCreight
jmccreig@purdue.edu
Unfortunately, all I got in response was a form email:
Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for your interest in campus programming at Purdue and your concerns in regards to the Porn and Popcorn event. Part of PSUB’s mission is to promote student programming on campus that enrich and entertain and recognize the campus’ diversity of interests. One way we meet this mission is by offering co-sponsorship opportunities to other student organizations seeking to hold programs on campus. We provided monetary support to the Stewart Co-operative Council for this event to help promote campus programming. The information they provided on their co-sponsorship application met our requirements and so the event co-sponsorship was granted by our Board of Directors. If you would like to further view the co-sponsorship guidelines and application, it can be found on our website at union.purdue.edu/psub.

Thanks again for your interest and concerns and I’m sorry you did not enjoy the event.
Wow, talk about a non response. So it's totally okay that they provided misinformation and lies about sex and non-Christians because they didn't include those things on the forms? Is there absolutely no consequences for people who do such things, or is it that once you get PSUB's money you can do whatever you want with it? They apologized for me not having fun (even though the event did amuse me, but not they way they intended), but didn't apologize for anything that really mattered.

I think it's time for a letter to our student newspaper.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sometimes accidental journeys bring you back to the beginning

You know when you start looking up the Wikipedia article for fly fishing and then you're somehow reading about Impressionism in Poland? It's even odder when that happens outside of the confounds of Wikipedia or Google. For example, look at the journey I took today:

1. My friend asked how I got interested in Evolution. I said I didn't remember how I was first introduced to it, but around age 14 I started thinking a lot of Intelligent Design arguments made sense. I asked my then Science Olympiad coach (former 7th grade science teacher) if he could explain how evolution worked to me, and he promptly explained why ID was bunk.

2. I remembered I wrote a debate paper for AP Composition near the end of my senior year of high school why Intelligent Design shouldn't be taught in school. Said teacher was a source (paper required one interview.)

3. I wondered if I ever wrote down my thoughts about Intelligent Design/Evolution/Atheism since I had a journal at the time. Old journal was terrifyingly emo, mildly hilarious, occasionally insightful, and full of emoticons and quizzes. It was also full of quotes from said teacher since I pretty much had the biggest crush on him for a long long time (I feel no fear admitting this because pretty much everyone in the universe knew about it, including him. Yeah, young girls aren't too subtle.).

4. Remembering he had a blog, I go to check if it was updated. Hadn't been updated since shortly after I graduated high school.

5. Wondering if he maybe kept the same username but moved to a different blog, I search for his username in Google. I see one of the links goes to Pharyngula, so I click.

6. I find this comment by him in late April, 2006:

Thanks for making available your presentation. As a science teacher, I recently recommended some links (including Pharyngula) to a student preparing a debate paper against teaching ID in science classrooms. Her paper was finished prior to this (and it was superb), but I will be sure she sees this piece.

Again, thanks.

That was him talking about my previously mentioned ID paper. My initial reaction was "Wow, he thought it was superb?!" with a sort of basking glow and those same girly butterflies in my stomach (old crushes die hard, I guess). But then it dawned on me. That's how I found Pharyngula. People were always asking me how I stumbled upon it, but I never could remember. It was the first blog I ever read, but did I Google it or what? But now I remember - he linked me to it for that project. He was also the one who introduced me to the Index to Creationist Claims.

When I think about it, that man affected my life in pretty much every way I could imagine. His class was the first time I really got interested in science. He made me fall in love with genetics, and in a year I will be going somewhere to get my PhD studying it. He was always there to answer my questions about evolution, and made me passionate about the surrounding debate. His encouragement of logical thinking helped me get out of my weird supernatural deist funk and back to being an atheist. He even linked me to Pharyngula, which would eventually motivate me to become an atheist activist and start a blog, and be the thing that made my blog somewhat popular. And on the risk of sounding creepy, he likely started my trend of being attracted to sarcastic, somewhat cocky, skeptical, scientific men.

Hm.

Friend: He reads Pharyngula? PZ has linked to you a ton. What if he reads your blog?
Me: ...I would be honored, and he might be creeped out that I just wrote this big post about him.

Creation Museum Lecture

In case you're anywhere near Purdue, I just thought I'd let you know that I'm giving a talk on the Creation Museum on Monday.
When Dinosaurs Walk with God
A godless biologist's trip to the Creation Museum
Presentation by Jennifer McCreight, President of the Society of Non-Theists and Purdue senior majoring in Genetics and Evolution

Mon, Sept 21
6:30 - 8:00 pm
LILY G126
Free and open to public

This summer Jennifer visited the Creation Museum, a multi-million dollar enterprise by Answers in Genesis to spread the gospel of literal Biblical Creation. The museum teaches that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, evolution is a lie, and human reason and science are dangerous. Its child friendly environment complete with animatronic dinosaurs and a petting zoo is worrisome to those interested in science education in the US.

She'll be presenting a virtual tour of the museum with some commentary and rebuttals of the scientific inaccuracies seen within (did you know that a T-Rex was a vegetarian until the fall of man?). There will be time for a Q&A session at the end.
I'll admit, it'll be similar to the blog posts I made about my trip, but more cohesive and with more background information. We'll also probably head out to dinner together afterward, if that's more incentive for you to come!

Monday, September 14, 2009

No scientific knowledge in radio personalities

Every once in a while I'll search for "Indiana, atheist" just to see 1. If the Society of Non-Theists has made the news without me knowing or 2. What stupid things people in Indiana are saying about atheists. Unfortunately, it almost always results in number two. For example, take this lovely editorial by Peter Heck, radio host of Kokomo, IN's Peter Heck Show (self described as "a conservative Christian commentary on social and political issues"). It's titled "No atheists in birthing centers" and offers the birth of his child as proof of God. It's like an I Spy of illogical theist claims! At quick glance I can find:
What can you spot? Or better yet, how many of you are dying to get out of Indiana or happy to have escaped?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dear Pastor Tom

Hey there! How's it going? Oh, don't seem surprised - I know you're subscribed to my blog since twice now you've written a rebuttal to my posts within 24 hours of my original posts. I just want to say it's incredibly cute how you're too afraid to mention my name or link to my blog lest someone read an alternative opinion and make their own decisions. I mean, we don't want people thinking or coming to their own conclusions, do we? I giggle every time you make up a new excuse to not name me, like:
"Many atheist bloggers have expressed joy over this, but it's not worth taking the time to tell you about any more of them."
and
"because I don't subscribe to the language and advertising on the blogs that are defending pornography, I'm not going to give any links, and will not permit any to be posted on this blog."
But please don't stop. I get a certain amount of glee knowing someone feels so intimidated by my arguments - must mean I'm explaining my points really well! And what an honor that you'll mention Pharyngula and Friendly Atheist all the time, but Blag Hag is just too much of a threat! I am a little disappointed, though, that you didn't come up with some witty pun of my blog to put under your "Evil Sites" links like PharyTales or Hateful Atheist. Can I suggest "She Who Must Not Be Named?"

Your favorite atheist blogger,
Jen

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Anti-Porn event - emotional appeals and dangerous misinformation

*I apologize for this post being so long. If you want to read the most humorous parts, scroll down until you get to the quotes from the former porn actress, Shelly. They're the "highlight" of the show.

As many of you know, last night I attended Porn and Popcorn, a Christian anti-pornography event hosted by the Stewart Cooperative, the Purdue Student Union Board, and other various Christian organizations and local businesses (Chick-Fil-A was one, nothing too surprising there). Oddly enough, about 25 other members of the non-theists joined me. At least I had an excuse of "this will make a good blog post," but I think they're all just a bit masochistic. Or in it for the free pop and popcorn, which we received without bursting into flames or being struck with lightening.
Proof I wasted my time going to this thing

We settled down on Slayter Hill, a big open air amphitheater on campus where you just sit on the grass to watch the stage. There were about 600 - 1000 people there (wide range, I know, I'm not good at guestimating crowds). The band was already playing (not well, but playing), and I was amazed that they weren't playing Christian rock. Actually, the fact that they were singing songs I enjoy unnerved me a bit, because I suddenly heard the lyrics from a different perspective (Wait, this is about God and not his girlfriend?!). They even had about 10 female groupies in front of the stage jumping around with their hands in the air. Eventually they had 20 people holding hands and skipping around in a circle, at which point the giggling began.

As we were waiting for the real show to start, they had PowerPoint slides cycling through with what would be the only "scientific" facts of the entire show:
  1. "90% of kids age 8 - 16 have seen porn." What a wide age range. I'd love to see the distribution of that, because I'm sure the vast majority of those numbers come from the older kids. When you have a skew like that, you can't just keep including a lower age for shock tactics.
  2. "True or False: 18-24 year olds are the highest porn users - False. 12-17 use porn the most." Wow, shocking. Maybe that's because 18-24 year olds are actually having sex and are less curious about human sexuality because they've already learned about it? Oh wait, no, we're supposed to be in shock that middle and high schoolers are looking at sexual things. Sorry.
  3. "Women are more likely to act out their sexual urges, like casual sex, multiple partners, or affairs." Um, no. Buss 2006 summarizes the many studies that show men desire casual sex more than women, and both sides would engage in the same amount since they need to be doing it with someone, assuming heterosexual sex. Men and women would on average have the same number of partners, but men desire more. Laumann et al 1994 found that 25% of married men and 15% of married women had an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. Nice try with the lies to slander women.
The show opened with a nicely produced video set to some hip hop music (dude, they get us) about how horrible sex and porn is. They had some skeevy looking guy taking of advantage of what I have to think was a thirteen year old girl, especially since they had toys and children's drawings everywhere. Afterward the pastor* comes out and tells us this is a reality (*Side note: I just want to make it clear that these are the "good" Christians who say Jesus loves everyone, only God judges, love the sinner hate the sin, yadda yadda). Yeah, sexual abuse of children is a reality, but it has nothing to do with pornography and should not be used as an emotional tool. But that's the only tool they have. The entire two hour presentation contained nothing but emotional arguments and personal stories - those "facts" I listed above were as close as you get to "science." To illustrate my point, here are some of the scare tactics they used at the beginning (bold is their arguments):
  • Senior citizens are the highest porn users. Doesn't that make you want to throw up? Wow, way to marginalize an entire group of people for being sexual. Oh wait, that's the whole point of this presentation.
  • A mother called us saying her 8 year old son stumbled upon a porn site. Yeah, he "accidentally" found it. Rigggghttt.
  • Porn destroys the economy because you're wasting your money on it. This said right after they tell us how porn is a multi-billion dollar institution. Doesn't that mean it would be stimulating the economy? (EDIT: Apparently even Gingrich agrees with me)
  • When this anti-porn Christian group went to a porn convention, everyone their loved and accepted them. Therefor they're doing the right thing. Could you imagine a Christian convention accepting a porn group? Or maybe people at porn conventions are more liberal and open minded, and accepting of people who are different than them?
  • Men feel terrified and guilty that they have to hide porn from their wife. Maybe you shouldn't marry someone who's so uptight and anti-sex that she's not cool with you watching porn. Some great communication you have in your marriage there.
  • Porn is a gateway drug to child porn. What. No.
They then brought out a former porn producer to talk about how he saw the light, quit the porn industry, and became a Good Christian. Every story he told didn't shed any light on the evils of porn - it just showed that he was a giant douche bag. He cheated on his wife multiple times before even getting started in porn. He secretly was a porn producer for 3 years without his wife's knowledge, and then when she found out, she left him. It's not porn that ruined your marriage - it's that you're a lying dick who was duping your wife. He then went on and on about how he ruined all of these women's lives and tricked them into porn, how in between shoots they would curl up in the fetal position and suck their thumb, how they needed surgery to correct the sexual things he made them do. I'm going to call Bull Shit on all of this, but even if it was true, that just further reflects on the guy's character, not porn - he's a giant insensitive ass.

Pastor: What did you think of our group when you first saw it?
Porn Producer: I thought you were a porn site making fun of Christians, and I thought it was a great idea!
Us: *laugh* ...*realize we're the only people laughing, go quiet*

He then went on to tell the story of all his inner turmoil because of porn (no, because you're a jerk) and how he used to be a troll at Christian forums. But they were all so nice and even though they banned him they kept telling him over and over again that they would pray for him. And eventually he prayed that God would give him sign.

Pastor: At some point you need to give up.
Us: ...

His car broke down and while the mechanic told him it was something wrong with the spark plug, he knew it was God. And that's when he stopped being an atheist and accepted Jesus. ...Yeah, buddy, if you're asking God for signs and you're willing to believe events with rational explanations are signs, I'm inclined to believe you weren't an atheist. Stop trying to make us look bad. He then went on to say how he was at peace, which including crying and puking... uh, okay, sounds real peaceful to me.

Porn Producer: There are bad Christians, but not a bad God.
Josh: Because there's no God
Me: *high five*

These sort of emotional, personal stories went on all night: they never presented any scientific studies or even included possible credentials they have (anyone have a degree in Psychology? no?). It even included a video of Pornmobile Confessions where people talk about their porn problems while riding in the backseat of a Mini Cooper at night. Their main argument is that they get people writing them all the time about how porn has ruined their lives. Um, have you heard of sampling bias? You only see the people who have been negatively affected by porn because those are the only people who are contacting you. The vast majority of people have had a neutral or positive experience, but you don't see them because you're not seeking them out. I'm sure some people really have had negative experiences with porn, but they're blowing it way out of proportion.

And with the people who did have bad experiences with porn, those were all caused BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION. People feel guilty/scared and hide porn from loved ones, and it ruins their marriage because of bad communication. People feel guilty for being sexual beings or need to turn to porn for their sexual curiosity. You know where this guilt comes from? RELIGION. If conservative Christians didn't beat over your head that sex was so evil to begin with, people wouldn't be having these problems. We'd have comprehensive sex education and open dialog about human sexuality so little kids wouldn't have to turn to the internet for information. We wouldn't feel guilty for engaging in normal sexual activity. We'd be able to talk about sex with our loved ones before marrying them and finding out they have incompatible viewpoints.

It's like Christians have fabricated the problem of sex so they can come down and fix it. And that's the only solution or "reasoning" they give: Jesus. All they repeated is that you need to follow God's plan and be a pure person. "Jesus died and can help you," but they don't say how. They never give a single other reason other than God. What about people who aren't Christians? What's their incentive to stop watching porn? I guess they either forget us non-Christians even exist, they figure we're a lost cause, or they see this as a good method to get us to convert to Christianity. The Religiosity Level was through the roof at this point as they told people to give themselves up to Jesus, and I really expected them to ask people to come up on the spot, but they didn't.

And as an important side note, this whole beginning piece came off as very demeaning towards women. All women were painted as fragile children who couldn't make their own decisions and were duped into porn. I never heard the pastor or the porn producer refer to females as women or ladies - they always called them "girls." Whether you were a helper in their movement, a porn actress, or the producer's wife - you were "Girl." Way to show some respect to adult women.

Then the night took drove right past Religiousville and took a right into Bizarroland. They brought out Shelly, a former porn actress who talked so nonsensically that the whole audience (not just us) was murmuring in confusion and convinced that she was either high or that her brain was permanently warped from years of drug abuse (which she later admitted to). Her talk was not only rambling, but incredibly sexist and racist, which was even more ironic coming from a black female. It was so rambling that I can't form coherent paragraphs about what she was saying, so here, have some lovely statements:

  • "Women were created as helpers." Isn't it lovely how Christianity can brainwash you into subordination? Why do women take this shit?
  • "Chosen virginity" Apparently those times you lose your virginity when you were a confused heathen don't count. You get to start over when you're Christian again!
  • "Once you start having sex, God's plan doesn't want you to stop." Or maybe you don't want to stop because you realize how nice sex is. What does that have to do with God's plan? If he doesn't want you to have premarital sex, why would he keep you going unless his plan is flawed?
  • "If he can't pay for the movie, he can't pay for the rent! You don't want him!" What the fuck? So that's all women want in a man - support? I rarely have had guys pay for dinner because we usually split, but if he does, I'll usually pay for dinner sometimes to. I can't imagine the idea of a boyfriend paying my rent. My parents raised me to be able to take care of myself without a man, thank you very much.
  • She was introduced to masturbation by her African Studies Professor, who said it was the best way to have an orgasm. She also supposed he was sleeping with half of the students. First of all, what is the purpose of pointing out he was an African Studies Professor? Second of all, since when is it okay to make wild libelous claims that you give absolutely no proof of?
  • "Think of a clean glass of water. Now imagine greasy finger prints all over it, like I was just eating fried chicken. That's what masturbation is." ...I don't know what's more disturbing here, the fried chicken comment, or the fact that masturbation is considered dirty.
  • Many women like masturbation more than sex, and that ruins their sex life. Therefore masturbation is bad. Or maybe their lack of communication ruins their sex life because they're too ashamed to tell their partner what they enjoy.
  • "Women were created to receive." ...Feminist rage in 3...2...
  • God created sex so you could be one with your partner. Every time you have sex, you're creating oneness with that new person, so you're fracturing your soul into pieces. OMG SEX CREATES HORCRUXES. That's really how Voldemort was doing it, but Rowling had to keep the book rated PG-13. Man, so does that mean when I reach 7 sex partners I'll become all powerful? Sign me up!
  • Do any of you watch soap operas? *looks at audience* A DUDE watches soap operas? Man, we're going to need to have a talk. Yes, because you're not conforming to your gender stereotypes! Oh, she then went on to say soap operas were evil, which I guess I'll agree with to an extent.
  • "Non-married sex is fake, it's counterfeit. The devil came up with it." ...Yeah, around this point she started invoking the devil. I have to admit this made me really uncomfortable. I mean, I've heard a lot of ridiculous religious things before, but just something about someone going on about the devil's influences and truly believing he exists unnerves me. It's such a convenient excuse for all the bad things you do that it absolutely absolves you of personal responsibility or control.
  • I had four abortions because my friend told me they were an option. Yes, blame your friend for your irresponsibility. Four, really? I mean, I'm pro-choice, but at a certain point you have to learn to be responsible. Maybe if she had proper sex education she would have known how to properly use contraception.
  • I had such bad self esteem that I would sleep with any guy who complimented me to thank him. Yeah, how is this porn's fault and not some serious issues you have? Go see a Psychologist, not Jesus.
  • I was sleeping with this gangsta guy who was had seven girlfriends at once. Again, what does this have to do with porn? This just shows that you made really poor life choices and have bad self control when it comes to sex.
  • I was a wedding planner for my best friend, and I slept with the groom. Okay, what are all of these stories illustrating other than you're uneducated about sex, out of control, have severe psychological problems, and are a horrible friend? Oh, that's right, they're setting you up to be incredibly hypocritical:
  • To connect with an unbeliever is to connect with the devil. and "If he can't be a faithful to God, he can't be faithful to you." Yep, can't go a whole Christian event without bashing the atheists. This quote made me fume. I just listened to a bunch of Christians go on about how they cheated, had promiscuous sex, kept giant secrets from their spouses, got STDs, did drugs, had abortions, etc etc - but that's all okay because they found Jesus. But those atheists? They have no morals, so they're all going to cheat on you. What a bunch of fucking shit. Our whole group was sitting their in awe of how morally bankrupt these people were, because we're actually good, honest people, and then they go and say we're the cheaters. Or as my agnostic friend said, "My current girlfriend (atheist) is the first one to not cheat on me, compared to all the Christians I dated." PSUB is going to get quite a few unhappy emails about how they're sponsoring events that slander non-believers with unfounded lies. I yet again had the wonderful feeling of being an outcast; that if I introduced myself to random people at Purdue and they found out I was an atheist, the vast majority would instantly not like me. But if you can believe it, that wasn't the quote that upset me the most that night:
  • "Protective sex is a joke." Wow. I can't think of a more horrible thing to be telling a crowd of 18-25 year olds. This is just plain irresponsible and dangerous. Again, I can't believe PSUB would sponsor an event that could have a severe detrimental affect on the health of students at Purdue. I...I'm really left without words.

After they basically had to kick Shelly off the stage because she ran over her time and refused to stop talking, they went right back into the Christian rock band. That's right, no time for questions. But you know what, it doesn't really surprise me. This type of religion isn't about asking questions or thinking for yourself. The event was to give you a biased view (no one pro-porn there) and to tell you what to do and how to think or else God will be very disappointed in you. I guess I was naive to assume they would encourage any intellectual discussion.

We then left and went to Qdoba to eat food and rant, and I'm sure some of the arguments we came up there were far more intelligent than the things I have just said. But I'm getting to the point where thinking about this depresses me, so I'm going to leave the rest of the insightful comments to you guys, and give you some funny highlights from the event:

Pastor: What better truth than the Bible?!
Non-Theists: *giggle*

Pastor: God wants to come inside you!
Friend: Woah, kinky

Shelly: *first comment* Sex outside of God's intention is desicration.
Me: ... *feeling insane at this point, lays down, covers face with notebook, and has a stifled tear-producing giggle fit, which in turn makes all the other members giggle inappropriately*
Friend: Jen's down! Jen's down! Monya [Treasurer], you're our first in command now!

Shelly: How many of you are virgins?
Audience: *some people put hands up*
Shelly: I mean a real virgin. Oral sex and anal sex and masturbation count.
Audience: *everyone puts hands down*

Shelly: What's that one guy's name with the long flowing hair?
Me: (from all the way in the back) FABIO!
Shelly: Yeah, Fabio! He's used as a sex symbol -
Non-theist females: Ewwwww Fabio

Shelly: Any of you ever want to admit to having a roach in your apartment?
Me: *only person in audience who raises hand*
Shelly: Yeah, you live it up, girl!
Me: ...Wait...IS SHE TALKING ABOUT MARIJUANA? I MEAN THE INSECT! *horrified, lays down in grass dying laughing along with all the other Non-Theists*
Minutes later
Friend: Jen! Now she's talking about bugs! Either she was always talking about cockroaches or she just got confused mid metaphor.
Me: Knowing her, it's the latter.

Shelly: How many of you girls have asked a guy what his life goals are before dating him?
Non-Theist girls: *raise hands*
Shelly: Only you four? You go girls! (Yeah, those evil, corrupt atheists...)

Shelly: How many of you have had one of those crazy drama girlfriends?
Some Non-Theist girls: *raise hands*
Angry Christian nearby: Faggots

Yeah, that last one wasn't funny - just wanted to illustrate what we're dealing with at Purdue.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Religious fanatics and 9/11

Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings. - Victor Stenger

I posted this as my facebook status, fully knowing that it would probably turn into a flame war. And of course, it did. But I wasn't just trying to piss people off - I think this is something people seriously need to think about, especially on 9/11.

A mildly religious friend responded that this wasn't all religion, just the fanatics. This sort of view is a problem, really just a one true Scotsman fallacy. They say, bad people of religion aren't really religious - they're just abusing real religion, which is good. But do you just get to conveniently draw the line between religion and fanaticism so it arbitrarily suits your needs?

You simply cannot deny that so many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion - to do so would be delusional. This is different than a religious person just doing something bad, or someone who happens to be an atheist committing a wrong. There are good and bad people whether you look at theists or atheists, but who has ever heard of killing in the name of atheism? Religion doesn't corrupt all to the point of suicide bombings, but the fact that it occurs at all should make us care.

The thing I find most interesting is that these so called fanatics - the evangelical Biblical literalists, the fundamentalists of Islam - they are the ones most accurately representing their religion. They take their holy books at face value and don't allow for metaphorical interpretations or loop holes. They're not the ones who use doublethink to tell themselves God is good when he's ordering genocides, that slavery is bad even though it's condoned in the Bible, that anal sex doesn't really count as losing your virginity (yay saddlebacking). While I'm glad these people aren't subscribing to archaic views, they're also being hypocritical in saying that certain groups aren't "real" religion.

September 11th certainly was caused because of political reasons, but we cannot ignore the religious aspect. Would these people go fly planes into buildings if there was no reward of eternal afterlife? Would we have had the initial political divide if we didn't have this mentality of Christian nation versus Muslim nation? If anything, being an atheist makes it all seem sadder to me: people who believed in something that doesn't exist died and murdered thousands for a reward that doesn't exist, and the one solace of their families is that they've gone to a better place...which doesn't exist. To say religion played no part in the deaths of thousands of Americans cheapens that tragedy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Questions for the anti porn people?

Hello there loyal readers! Sorry I've been somewhat absent lately - this week has been absolutely destroying me. Guess my professors feel like they have to make up for us having Monday off. Anyway, I'm capping off my week by going to that vile Porn and Popcorn event tomorrow with some other club members because 1) Other people don't want to go alone 2) I'm a masochist and 3) for yooooouuuuu *insert hearts and sparkles here*. If this event is as mind numbing as I suspect it will be, you all owe me. If you have no idea what Porn and Popcorn is, go here and here.

Does anyone have any good questions they'd like the anti-porn people to be asked? Any scientific studies I should have under my belt (links would be nice)? Suggestions of alcoholic remedies for afterwards? Maybe I'll have a Sex on the Beach followed by a Screaming Orgasm.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dating Biologists

In case all of you haven't already seen today's xkcd:Win. The funny/sad thing is that I have actually done this. But no Punnett squares on the first date, I'm one of those girls who likes to take things slow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blasphemy Day Ideas

Blasphemy Day is September 30th, so I'm trying to solidify our club's plans. Here's a description from their Facebook group (since their website is continuously hacked):
Blasphemy Day International is a campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a day to promote free speech and stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, and reprisal. It is the obligation of the world's nations to safeguard dissent and the dissenters, not to side with the brutal interests of those who demand "respect" for their beliefs (i.e., immunity to being criticized or mocked or they threaten violence).
We're definitely doing something, but the question is what. Part of me is nervous because Purdue is such a conservative, religious campus. Our two most controversial events are our Pastafarian Preaching (how dare you mock religion! My God isn't anything like a Flying Spaghetti Monster!) and Fiction for Fiction (Are you saying the Bible isn't completely true?! You're going to hell!). I'm afraid for our reputation and our member's physical well being to do anything too blasphemous.

But that speaks loads, doesn't it? The whole point of Blasphemy Day is to stand up for our freedom of speech and right to criticize and mock religion, just like any other topic. We're supposed to be fighting this exact feeling of fear that I have. I shouldn't have to feel unsafe for standing in public and saying "If God was real, he's a megalomaniac and an asshole. Thankfully he doesn't exist." Or something.

Here are some of the ideas I've come up with so far. The event will be outside to get maximum publicity, and we'll have a table or two. Some of these things are more meaningful/positive than others, some are things I find hilarious but probably wouldn't dare to do.
  • Have a large banner that anyone can write whatever they want on. Only rule is they can't cross out other people's stuff.
  • Instead of a banner, have a ton of post it notes that people can stick to something (a wall, maybe). That way one message doesn't take up more space than others.
  • Have a megaphone where someone can say whatever they want for a predetermined number of seconds. You have to wait in line to get the megaphone.
  • Have line drawings of religious figures (Jesus/Moses/Mohammed/Buddha/Shiva/Thor/Zeus/The Pope) and let people color/deface them however their hearts desire
  • Play "blasphemous" music that mocks or criticizes religion
  • Have a laptop playing a continuous loop of short blasphemous videos from YouTube (Rock Me Sexy Jesus comes to mind)
  • Have a bunch of blasphemous cartoons, including the banned Mohammed drawings
  • Have someone dressed as Jesus...well, doing anything, that would probably be blasphemous. Let people throw pies at him for a dollar? I dunno.
What do you think? Horrible ideas, bad message, pointless, hilarious, necessary? Please let me know any Blasphemous suggestions you have, whether they be whole event ideas or just specific videos/songs/images we definitely need to use.