On This Day Five Years Ago

On this very day five years ago I published my first post on This, That, and the Other. It was basically an introduction to who I am, and it was aptly named “Practical Pragmatist.”

In case you are at all interested in reading my first post on this blog, here it is. It’s a rather long post for me — almost 500 words; my average post length so far this year is around 240. But if you have a minute or two, you might enjoy it.

Practical Pragmatist

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I am a pragmatist. And I think of myself as a practical person. Thus, I am a practical pragmatist.

So what is a pragmatist? A pragmatist is a person who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.

A pragmatist is an advocate or adherent of pragmatism, which is the philosophy or conduct that emphasizes practicality.

Philosophical Pragmatism

The pragmatic philosophy is based on the belief that the best way to evaluate the practicality of ideas, policies, and proposals is through their workability and usefulness. Pragmatism stresses action over doctrine. The philosophy embraces the notion that ideas base their meanings from their consequences; that they are essentially instruments and plans of action.

So how do I know that I’m a pragmatist? When I was a young adult working a full-time job and attending graduate school at night to get a Master’s degree, the girl I was dating at the time lambasted me for putting more emphasis on “dollars and degrees” than on my relationship with her. I wasn’t, she bemoaned, giving her as much time and attention as I was giving my job and my school work. She didn’t like being the third priority in my life, yet she was.

I knew I needed to work hard at my job in order to pay for rent, food, school, and, well, life. I knew that getting a graduate degree would enable me to be more successful and secure in the future. I knew these things because I’m a pragmatist.

So what about “practical”? I describe myself as a logical, rational, and reasonable person. I am not ruled by emotions but by facts, observations, and evidence. That’s likely why, in addition to being a pragmatist, I’m an atheist. There is nothing logical, rational, or reasonable about religious doctrine or dogma. Rather than being based upon facts, observations, and evidence, religion is based upon faith and beliefs where there is no empirical evidence.

This is not to say that I can’t be open to beliefs or faith, either. Every time I board an airplane I have faith that the aircraft is mechanically sound and that the pilot and copilot are sober and competent. I just don’t buy into this whole God thing because there is no empirical evidence that such an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supernatural being exists other than in the minds of those who have embraced ancient mythologies over logic, rationality, and reason.

Nor does my pragmatism mean that I am devoid of emotions. I am empathetic and have been known to shed a tear or two when I encounter the pain or suffering of others. I may not feel as intensely as some others feel, but I feel nonetheless.

So bear in mind as you read my posts, should you decide to read beyond this first one, that, as a self-identified practical pragmatist, my perspectives are borne out of practicality and pragmatism.

And that works for me.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — April 15th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 15th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on April 15, 2018.

Is God Really Pro-Life?

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I saw this bumper sticker above on a car the other day and it made me wonder how someone would know that God is pro-life.

Is this the same pro-life God who killed all the first born males in Egypt so that Pharaoh would “let His people go?”

Is this the same pro-life God who drowned all life on earth except for Noah and his family and the pairs of animals that gathered on Noah’s ark?

The same pro-life God who permitted the Nazis to exterminate more than six million living human beings (including, no doubt, pregnant women) during World War II? Who allowed hundreds of thousands of Japanese (including, no doubt, pregnant women) to die when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Who stands by twiddling His thumbs while Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad gasses his own people (including, no doubt, pregnant women)?

So where, exactly, do people get the idea that God is pro-life? From the Bible, you say? Oh really?

The God depicted in the Bible is the greatest mass murderer of all time. He killed millions of pregnant women and their fetuses in Noah’s flood. And what about the conquest of Canaan, the incineration of Sodom and Gomorrah, and in numerous other major slaughters described in the Bible? When the entire populations of towns are massacred as part of “God’s will,” you can be sure that pregnant women and their unborn children were among the victims.

Why did God, who allegedly loves the unborn and hates abortion, kill so many unborn children — as well as living children, adolescents, and adults — throughout biblical history? What makes anyone believe that God cares about unborn children?

The anti-abortion movement continues to declare that, in the name of God, abortion is murder. Do those opposing abortion on religious grounds know that the Bible does not consider a fetus to be a full human life or the killing of a fetus to be murder? The Bible requires the death penalty for 60 specified “criminal” violations, but abortion is not one of them.

In fact, nowhere in the Bible will you find any passage that describes a prohibition or penalty for a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy. Not a single verse. Yet many politicians and advocacy groups claim that their belief that abortion is murder originated in the Bible.

So where, then, is the evidence that God loves the unborn and disapproves of abortion?

Better yet, where is the evidence that God exists?


I realize that this post may piss some people off and I may even lose some followers as a result. But as Pharaoh said, “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

Fandango’s Provocative Question #163

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Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Those of you who read my blog know that I’m an atheist. Just to be clear, an atheist is someone with an absence of belief in the existence of supernatural deities. It’s essentially a rejection of the belief that any such deities exist. That’s about it. There is no book, no dogma, no rituals, and no set of rules to being an atheist.

About a week ago, a blogger I follow and enjoy wrote, “Atheism is the religious belief held by those who don’t believe in religion.” I know this blogger was being tongue-in-cheek in that wordplay, but I responded in a comment that, “atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion.” I added to my comment, also being a bit tongue-in-cheek, “Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

Anyway, that exchange sparked a series of comments back and forth where that blogger continued to argue the position that atheism is a religion, while I continued to state my position that atheism is not a religion nor a defined set of religious beliefs. We finally ended with that old “let’s agree to disagree” discussion ender.

For this week’s provocative question, I’m not asking if you do or don’t believe in God or any other deity. I’m also not asking whether or not you practice any religion or are a religious person. My feeling, when it comes to a belief in deities and religion is, hey, whatever floats your boat. That said, my provocative question today is this:

Do you believe that atheism is a set of religious beliefs or is a religion in any sense? If so, why? If not, why not? Or, do you have no opinion on the matter or just don’t care one way or the other?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Note: Because I will be participating in the A to Z blogging challenge in April, I will not be posting any new provocative question until May. Instead, I will be revisiting some previous provocative questions that you might have missed. Please feel free to respond to them if you haven’t already.

Thursday Inspiration — I Believe

For this week’s Thursday Inspiration prompt from Jim Adams, I’m taking a shortcut. His prompt is the word “believe” and to use the photo above and to write a post around that word. Well, I discussed the notion of believe in a post I published on October 25, 2018, and feel that it fits this prompt, so here it is.


I’m a Believer

If you’re reading this because you think this post is about the 1967 song “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, it’s not. Not even close.

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What this post is about is that I was talking to a friend of mine this past weekend. He’s a fairly religious person and he knows that I’m an atheist. He told me that he didn’t understand how anyone could be a “non-believer.” Apparently he believes, like many people, that being an atheist means that you’re a “non-believer.”

Do you tend to call those who don’t believe in God “non-believers”? Well, if you do, your definition of “believer” is way too narrow. You’re thinking that the word “believer” applies only to a belief system, a religious belief system. A belief in a supreme being, a greater intelligence, a supernatural deity. And for most Americans, that means believing in God, Yahweh, Allah, or whatever you call your deity.

As an atheist, I believe that God does not exist. I believe that Christians, Jews, and Muslims made up God in the same way that Greeks and Romans, for example, made up Zeus and Jupiter and all the other gods they believed in.

But just because I don’t believe that God exists doesn’t make me a non-believer. Because that would imply that I don’t believe in anything. I believe in a lot of things.

I believe that we didn’t exist before we were born and that we will cease to exist in any form after we die.

I believe that our universe is almost 14 billion years old and that the planet we live on is 4.5 billion years old. I believe in evolution. And I believe that we are working pretty damn hard to destroy our planet’s ability to sustain human life.

I believe in a woman’s rights to choose. I believe in free speech, in freedom of (or from) religion, in equal rights for gays, and in gun control. I also believe in the separation of church and state.

But wait, there’s more that I believe. I believe that humans are fallible and that we all make mistakes. Some more than others. I believe that most people are good, decent, and moral, regardless of their religious beliefs — or lack thereof. And I believe in my country. Just not in “God and country.”

Yeah, I know. You’re thinking that these beliefs make me a liberal, which is the next worst label a person can have after atheist, right?

You’re also thinking that these are not beliefs. These are philosophies. These are ideologies. And you’re thinking that I’m expressing political opinions, not, you know, beliefs.

Sorry, I don’t believe that. Yes, these are philosophical beliefs. They are ideological and even political beliefs. But they are, nevertheless, beliefs. Other than from a very narrow religious perspective, just because I don’t believe in God, doesn’t make me a non-believer. I have a whole host of beliefs. Because I am a human being and I am alive.

There is not one of us — unless you’re dead — who doesn’t believe in something.

And now, for those of you who took the time to read my 520-word post, here’s a reward for your effort.

Throwback Thursday — Religious Influences

Maggie, at From Cave Walls, and Lauren, at LSS Attitude of Gratitude, alternate hosting Throwback Thursday. The idea of the prompt is for them to give us a topic and for us to write a post in which we share our own memories or experiences about the given topic. This week, Lauren chose the topic of “the impact of religion.”

Well, this should be interesting, given that I’m an atheist, but let’s give it a go. Anyway. Lauren wants to know…

  • Did your family attend services together?
  • Did you attend weekly, more than once a week, only on specific holidays, or some other designated time frame?
  • Was everyone of the same thought as to what faith to follow?
  • Did you have friends specifically from church/synagogue/ temple/ mosque, etc.?
  • Did your family practice religious ceremonies at home?
  • If you chose to depart from what your family believed (and feel like sharing) why did you do so?

I started to craft an answer to each of Lauren’s questions as asked, but then I decided that doing so didn’t really make a lot of sense for me, an atheist. Yes, I went to church (with my mother and my two older sisters), to synagogue (with my father), and to Sunday school as a kid. I appreciated all the great Bible stories, but I just couldn’t think of them as anything more that very imaginative and highly entertaining stories. They are great fiction. That did not please my parents at all, although by the time I was a teen they pretty much wrote me off as a lost cause when it came to embracing their faith.

I could not fathom how anybody could believe that what was written in the Bible — written by many different men hundreds of years after the virgin birth and crucifixion of the alleged son of God — as being the “gospel” truth of what actually took place 2,000 years ago. And the religious rituals seemed totally ridiculous to me.

The fact that Christians didn’t like me because I was half Jewish and Jews didn’t like me because I was half Christian didn’t help me embrace either religion. Organized religion seemed to foster divisions between people of different faiths, rather than attempt to bring us all together as human beings who theoretically prayed to the same God, only in different ways and in different languages. And even for those who shared the same overarching religious beliefs, many were designated as the “other” based which version of the Bible they read or on the color of their skins.

Yet for a long time I wanted to believe that, despite all that, some sort of god did exist. But then I thought about all the lives lost and the atrocities committed throughout human history in the name of God. I read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust. How many people were persecuted, hunted down, and murdered, not because they didn’t believe in and celebrate God, but because of the way they believed in and celebrated God? How could an all knowing, all powerful, ever present creator permit all of his children — supposedly created in his image — to behave in such a destructive manner?

I had my epiphany that God didn’t create humans in his image. Humans created God in their image. God became our answer to unanswerable questions, an explanation for the unknowable. That’s when I knew that God is a fiction.

And as we continue to destroy our planet, to fight wars, to judge and harm our fellow human beings based upon the color of their skin, their religious beliefs and practices, their gender, or the place of their birth, I am more convince than ever before that God is a contrivance designed to control the masses while the precious few gain immeasurable fortunes from the tithings of their flocks.

So when it comes to my personal perspective on Lauren’s question about the “impact of religion,” it’s very negative. But hey, that’s me. For those of you who are true believers in whatever god it is that you worship in whatever way you worship him (or her), well, all I have to say is “whatever floats your boat.” Just as long as you don’t try to sink my boat because it’s not the same as yours.

Sorry for this rather long and perhaps whiney rant.