Who Ya Gunna Call?

I cannot remember the last time I bought a cake for a social event. If I did find myself in the market for a commercially made cake for an LGBTQ+ friendly event, I would probably ask around. Why would I bother with a bakery that I know will refuse my business for any reason, much less a religious one? Litigation is not my gig.

People are going to want to eat this thing. I need someone I can trust. I’m not saying that anyone would poison the cake, but people have been viciously beaten or murdered for being gay or black, atheist, Jewish, trans, or even a friend or ally of such people. Why risk it? I would be responsible.

As I’ve read about litigation over such things, I wondered how religious beliefs would work when more critical things are in question: health care, for example.

I noticed that South Carolina recently passed a law allowing medical personnel to refuse providing healthcare based on their conscience (faith, religion, beliefs, morals). This law amends existing legal code. State and federal laws already provide such protection. No doctor can be forced to do what they don’t agree with, except in an emergency.

Personally, regarding me, I don’t want medical staff doing anything they object to, are not skilled at or familiar with. I don’t want to be their first case—a guinea pig. I prefer no students, interns, or even residents practice on me, based on past experiences. I should have the right to decline treatment by students, but that is another argument.

Over the years, I have been hospitalized several times, I’ve had surgery and procedures where I have been helpless and/or unconscious. On a few of those occasions, I met the doctor and the rest of the surgical/procedure team for the first and last time in the OR/Lab.

I was able to glean some things about these people. Sometimes I knew one, but never all. Of those I knew, I could guess that maybe their native language was not English. I could also guess about gender/sex, but little more. I knew nothing of their religious or moral beliefs. It was a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. No doctor or nurse ever clearly prayed in my presence. That might be bad for business.

In one case, I met with the head of cardiology. As part of the discussion, he asked what I wanted them to do, if the pending procedure went south. I verbally approved extreme measures to keep me alive (unnecessary as it went well). He was not my attending physician/surgeon, but no one else asked me that question. I felt that if I had said, “No extreme measures. Let me die.” He would have made the note and been okay with that. I knew nothing about his moral or spiritual beliefs, nor the policy of the hospital regarding such issues.

Except for interns and residents, I expect medical professionals to know what they are doing. I hope they had good training, and I hope we get along in our provider-patient relationship.

But I wonder how often doctors are forced to perform non-emergency procedures their religion or morality prevents. Why are existing laws insufficient? Is this SC law political grandstanding and a waste of time and money? I don’t know. I live in Texas, so I also don’t care. But I did ponder some things.

I can’t say for other countries because I don’t know. But I’ve noticed that medical facilities/organizations, doctors, other medical professionals, and insurance companies always seem to get their way in the USA. I know there are such things as various patient rights, but what are they and what are the consequences of non-compliance?

I would like to believe that hospitals and doctors are dedicated to keeping everyone alive and healthy. I want to think that at least the doctors, if not the entire medical staff, will apply the best medical science to treatment. If a facility or doctor will place religion before my health and welfare, I want to know up front. Must I ask such questions?

Happy St-Jean-Baptiste Day to all my friends in Quebec,


If you really want to get into this topic, HERE is a JAMA study on people considering religion in selecting medical care (Guess what? Care quality matters more than religion).

And THIS is a list of traditional religious guidelines regarding healthcare (rabbit hole warning).

One Miracle at a Time

When one does not believe in any god or similar form of spiritual otherness, it follows that one might struggle with miracles (walking on water, curing lepers, making zombies). It’s the word, not the wonderment. By one definition, a miracle is an “extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” A synonym for manifest is obvious. That means it is easy to see some god or divine intelligence did it.

On the secular side, an alternate definition is “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” That is how my wife uses it. That works for me. Synonyms for miracles include something that is amazing, a marvel, phenomenon, splendor, or wonder.

Unfortunately, too many people think atheists do no appreciate amazing things because we don’t think there is a god to do it. They think that without attribution to a deity or cosmic intelligence, we are unable to appreciate amazingly splendid marvels and awesome wonders. That is false conjecture. I know it is not true because I am an atheist. I appreciate many natural and real things, in my opinion, often more than spiritual people do. I find the god can do anything argument childishly boring.

When atheists claim such appreciation, many people insult us by saying we are not true atheists. Like they would know. Or they may confuse atheism with nihilism. That’s easy to do and quite common. I can’t fix it. But Google can. However, I’m not going there now.

Interestingly, some atheists claim an even higher awareness because without something like a god to attribute things to, we see wonders and splendors as even greater natural events. That includes our own human ability to know (science) and to appreciate intangible things like art and music, or love and friendship. Be it the universe or a single human cell, amazing things are exactly that.

While I attribute neither the Universe (or Cosmos) nor humanity’s existence to the sudden whim of any intelligence or some god, I am fascinated by earthly nature, the heavens, and biology. In the secular sense, it’s miraculous. Evolution is incredible and ruthless, but so amazing.

Science, not religion, must be given center stage in any study or discussion of either life or the cosmos. In fact, science itself provides the knowledge that makes what little we know and understand more appreciative of awesomeness. With deference to Poe, thank you Science.

We can speculate about life existing on some planet other than on Earth. But we don’t know. Regarding all things, we can develop hypotheses and theories about what happened and when. But we seldom know. Yet, there is one huge miracle I have in my mind that flies above all others. The odds against it are enormous.

It’s what Bill Bryson calls the “supremely agreeable condition known as life.” We are, as he goes on to claim, “in the most literal sense cosmic.” I agree with him. Not only is all life tied together, but it also seems the entire Universe is one big (bang) bag of marvels.

But honestly, I once believed or accepted the idea that one god created it all. The fact that I can no longer attribute things to theological answers makes none of it less amazing. If my view is different now, things are even more awesome for me. I now pay much more attention to it all.

That life happened beats tremendous odds. For me, the very fact that no creator or intelligence did it (nod to those who believe otherwise) makes it more amazing, not less.



Shorty: Skeptical Evangelicals

That headline got me to reading about that huge homogeneous group of American citizens and why they had little faith in science.

The definition of oxymoron is “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” Okay. Maybe the idea that the deeply religious can be skeptical of things other than their god is not so incongruous. But in a way, this is a clear lack of faith: in science, in government, and in this case, big pharma (and who likes them?).

It sounds to me like these thumpers want Jesus to ensure they win the lottery without buying a ticket (gambling’s a sin, ya know).

They want god to protect them from the COVID-19 virus and variants without taking the shot. While there are certainly anti-vaxxers who are Christian of one brand or another, nothing in Christianity specifically forbids taking injections to use the human body’s natural defenses to prevent the spread of disease. While some may interpret it that way, or shoehorn in some weird, twisted interpretation, the shots are working and saving lives. THANK YOU, JESUS!

I might have bought the “let’s wait and see if it kills everyone else first” strategy for a while. But we have passed all that. All they are doing is giving atheists like me ammo to gun down religion as evil and dangerous.

I’ve been criticized before for my bizarre thinking about masks and medicine, about religion and gods, about baseball and apple pie. But here is what I think: if you don’t get the shot, you either have a good reason, or you are a dumb shit who cares little about human life. If you also refuse to wear a mask, you either have an excellent reason, or you’re an asshole who…. I can’t say it.

None of my bitching will convince anyone to do right. But it feels good to me.


Evidence for God: None Detected

Because I’ve been lurking around medical clinics and hospitals for the past few weeks, their protocol required I be tested twice for Coronavirus. Both times the results emailed to me said, None Detected. Then they cautioned me with, “A negative test does not exclude an active SARS-CoV-2 infection…. Documentation of infection may be possible by retesting or testing of other specimen sources.” In other words, there is no proof that I am not infected. They just have no evidence that I am. Only a positive finding is proof.

A couple years ago, virtually everyone (doctors, family, me, and at least one surgeon) identified a lump on my forearm as a cyst. There was no discomfort or symptoms to indicate otherwise. I had it removed for the sake of my vanity. The operating surgeon removed the tissue, showed it to me, and said, see, it is just a cyst.

Later, pathology determined the specimen was cancerous. Following months of treatment, I’m now periodically monitored by medical science for recurrence. So far so good. While some may say that I am cancer free, I don’t use that term. I, and other cancer patients, prefer use of the initialism, NED, which means no evidence of disease. Medical science, without evidence to the contrary, was unable to claim that I positively had cancer at the time of the test. I’ll take it. Unless they prove otherwise, it isn’t there.

When I confessed atheism to a friend, she asked me if I could prove there is no god. I told her that while I couldn’t, I didn’t have to prove it. The requirement, at least for me, is that if I am to accept or believe the existence of something (COVID, cancer, or a god), there must be sufficient convincing evidence of existence. I don’t know what that evidence or proof might be, especially regarding something like a god, a black hole in space, or an exploding star.

It gets complicated. Which god am I to have evidence for? Do you claim only one?

How do I know that such evidence supports that specific god and not some other?

If there is “something” out there because someone (not me) can just feel it to be so, or because all this exists, or because there are stars in the sky, what does any of that prove? We perceive and experience many things, like bizarre nightmares, emotional trauma, or mental euphoria. It rains, plants grow, life continues, and there is a Universe.

If someone asks me why I do not believe in any god, especially theirs, I simply say I know of no proof that such an entity exists at all, much less one that is of a supreme being or god status. I may ask why that person chooses to believe in a god. They are usually much more committed and convinced of existence than I am in doubt. However…

In every case I can think of, the discussion about belief ends with what is called faith. Faith is seldom defined in the same way by believers and skeptics. Simply put, some folks prefer to believe a god exits than to admit ultimate agnosticism. No one knows if there is a god. In that case, NED is for no evidence of deity.

When I sneeze or blow my nose, my wife asks if I am catching a cold. Or, it could be the flu. Or it could be allergies. Or it could be nothing, just dust particles in the air or pepper in my nose. I never know. Only by testing to prove a positive can any hypothesis be supported.

I strongly doubt the existence of what most people claim as god. I make no serious claim that some sort of intelligence or deity absolutely does not exist, although I have said as much to counter the claim that there is a god.

It is possible that I have COVID-19, cancer, a cold, or that I am insane, but I’m simply unaware because no positive evidence indicates otherwise (although the latter diagnosis has been offered).

For me, religion is another matter. Religion exists, immaterial of a god’s existence. Either there is a god or there’s not, regardless of anyone’s beliefs. I try to write about the existence of god and the efficacy of religion separately, even though they should be closely related.


A to Z Challenge 2020 (L = Lucid Dreams/Dreaming)

This is when you are asleep, and your frontal brain lobe makes you aware that you are sleeping and dreaming. I’ve seldom had this experience, but it has happened, and I remembered it. Like dreams themselves, it’s interesting. Also, like dreams, you can spend thousands of US dollars on learning and doing more about it. But, even with personal experience, I must weigh in with a bit of not so fast. The whole dream business is packed with frauds, charlatans, and quacks, and the awareness aspect has been roped in at great profit.

If you need help with lucid dreaming (I cannot do it intentionally) you can purchase books, tapes/CDs or whatever the tech is today, scientific publications, and induction devices such as special lights and speakers. You can spend money and time going to seminars to help you tap into your unconscious mind and get continuing education or college credit (Psyc.).

Perhaps you will fly (in your dreams) with spirits and have an out-of-body experience you enjoy, and that makes you free (again, you’re dreaming) of the restraints of being human and gravity bound to Earth. Maybe you will even feel better. But I doubt it.

There is no special state achievable by paying a fee through which we can find transcendent consciousness any more than we can stop having nightmares because we don’t like them. But, as with so many things, you can pay the price and take your chances. You can also read a lot more about it, if you are so inclined.

I prefer to know when it happens and what the biological cause is. When I wake from my off-base dreams, many of which relate to my life 30 or 40 years in the past, I know immediately that I was dreaming and what facts were twisted in my dreams to create the imaginary scenario.

So, yes, it is a real thing. But I doubt that it is what many seem to think. From reality to woo-woo, and to $$ all the way to the bank once again.


A to Z Challenge: Willful Water Wizards of Wicca (W)

Water – becomes holy when they boil the hell out of it. It is used to be born again or to be baptized. Slung around in Catholic churches because people want free showers on Sunday mornings. Best used for bathing or swimming, but is truly essential for life (as we know it) to exist.

Warlocks, Wizards, and Witches – are apparently not the same, two male and the other female. A warlock is a deceiver or one who breaks his word. The word was used to designate Satan, wizards, sorcerers, and (incorrectly) male witches. Witches are what Christians burned when they thought something was wrong (Exodus xxii, 18). While they were seen to be involved with Satan (often sexually), people who claim to be modern day witches eschew all that in favor of a new age view of nature religions such as Wicca or modern-day Druidism. Wizards are more often considered wise persons.

Werewolves – do not happen. There is no evidence that anyone has turned into a wolf and then back. However, a delusion known as lycanthropy is real, and there are cases of people who believed they were werewolves. Again, ok entertainment (and the first thing I think about during full moons), but it does not happen. To believe it does happen to one’s self is probably due to some medical disorder.

Wicca – is a neo-pagan nature religion based on beliefs and rites said to be of ancient origin. I see wiccans not as members of a religion, but as people with a shared spiritual basis in natural phenomena. They practice their rituals but have no formal doctrine or must-do stuff. However, local covens may have their own rules. I await my invitation to dance naked in the forest during the next full moon.

Willful Ignorance – is related to wishful thinking, misinterpretation, falsification, dissembling, and perversion of the truth. One should never do this sober. Have you ever tried to show or explain something to someone, only to have them put their fingers in their ears or their hands over their eyes? Ignorance may be bliss, but only to a point. The ignorance of others is always annoying.



A to Z Challenge: Tarot True Theist Telepaths Talisman (T)

Talismans – are objects held or worn to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortunes. Simply put, they’re lucky charms. Requires belief otherwise it is jewelry. I have worn Saint Christopher, Miraculous (Mary) medals, crucifixes, and scapula in my life. They were talismans. What I might wear today is jewelry.

Tantra – is a type of Hindu or Buddhist scripture, or the rituals and practices described therein. They deal with meditation and sexual techniques. More fun.

Tarot Cards – are used in fortune telling. Fun, but woo-woo.

Telepathy – is mind reading, as in mental. Read anyone’s thoughts with ESP?

Teleportation – Beam me up Scotty (he never said that). Don’t we wish? Someday, maybe.

Theists (theism) – are persons who deny that gods do not exist. I say there are no gods. Most agree with me in every case except one. Close, right?

True-believer Syndrome – is a wow. It’s very real. Many continue to believe in the reality of the paranormal despite overwhelming evidence of fraud. People still follow psychics, religious charlatans, phony channelers, faith healers, taro card readers, and other phony mediums despite proof they are fake. (Political figures?) No amount of logic or evidence can shatter their faith, which is why such fakes are as abundant as ever.

A to Z Challenge: Quacks Quantum Quest (Q)

Quantum Entanglement – is when pairs or groups of particles are generated, interact in ways where the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the state of the other(s), even when separated by a large universe-size distance. It’s weird. Einstein questioned it. It’s hard to understand (or care) but is included here because of its current spin with metaphysics. I also recently became aware of the QE relationship with the term synchronicity. If Einstein was skeptical, but this is real, then what? Things are just as they are, understood, true, or not. The youtube videos are better than I at explaining this. To save space I’ve provided links here and here.

Quackery and quacks – are currently referred to as alternative health practices (very profitable) in the medical fields. When people want this, if no harm is done, I don’t object until I do see harm. But a spade is a spade. It is quackery. It is also legal. It can be harmful and is usually wasteful (like religion).

In general, quacks are people making showy pretenses of knowledge or abilities. They are charlatans willing to do and say virtually anything to remain in the spotlight. And it works. But they’re still quack-a-roos.

Religious quacks are often on radio and television to take money from foolish and ignorant listeners, thus channeling money away from real churches, legitimate charities, and followers who need it. There have been, are, and will continue to be thousands of these religious quacks. Many today are new age, but most work main-line protestant/Christian/Zen/some form of whatever.

Q (Star Trek) – was the closest thing to a god on the show, but never identified as such. He was an extra-dimensional being of unknown origin who possessed immeasurable power over normal human notions of time, space, the laws of physics, and reality itself. Despite his vast knowledge and experience spanning untold eons, he enjoyed practical jokes for his own personal amusement. He was said to be nigh-omnipotent and was evasive regarding his motivations. He sounds damn godish to me. I was a bit of a treky, but Q could be such a dick.


A to Z Challenge: Plural penile past prayer pentup problems (P)

Prayer – is an attempt to communicate with a supernatural being. People are taught to pray, it’s not instinctive or logical. Depending on interpretations there are three to seven kinds of prayer. I say three:

  1. Adoration, as a radical Islamist may do before blowing up a bus full of school children, “God is great” or “Allahu Akbar,” which really means a specific god is greater (hairsplitting). This would include any from of blessing or praise of a god.
  2. Petition prayers are for things people want, such as money or health for self or others, or sex. These are the childish gimme a winning lottery ticket or touchdown prayers and are sometimes questioned by believers. It is suggested that one include some kind of ‘thy will be done’ to cover a god’s butt, thus making the prayer even more absurd. It’s the most common type.
  3. Thanksgiving prayers are often for food, family, friendship, being alive, the winning lotto ticket, a safe trip, almost any given touchdown for virtually any team, a win by a political party, or victory on a specific side in a war or battle. First one petitions, then remembering one’s manners, one thanks. It implies that a god will play favorites, if you ask.

To pray, posture must matter because people stand, sit, kneel, lie face down (prostrate), bow, rock, do a hands in the air dance, jump around, speak in tongues, hold god up in the air for all to see, sing, mumble, use Latin or Hebrew, dance with snakes, meditate (centering prayer), and just all manner of things that must matter to a god of some kind. Some even yell “Oh, God!” in gratitude for an orgasm. Cool.

Pluralistic Ignorance – is a situation in which most group members privately reject a norm but go along with it because they incorrectly assume that most others accept it (religion or belief in a god). This is also described as no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes. Kind of related to what is known as the Abilene Paradox.

Pagans – are types of believers. They aren’t atheist or specifically agnostic. However, this word has different meanings. I have had only one person in my life say to me, “I am a pagan.” His intent was to say he was a new age polytheist with Wiccan leanings. Others simply said they were Wiccan (specifically, witches of some kind). They all considered themselves Pagans and followers of a natural, New Age, religious belief.

Many, if not most, Christians use the term pejoratively for anyone who does not accept the god of the Bible. This seems to be how one dictionary defines it and applies synonyms (atheist, heathen, agnostic). So, like the boogie man, people may not know what it is, they just know it is a bad thing and to be avoided (Druids and Wiccans may identify as pagans). Like atheist, clarification of meaning for the term may be necessary for communication to be effective.

Past Life Regression – is a technique of New Age therapists wherein patients may recall something of alleged past lives. I don’t believe it and wouldn’t do it, but it seems harmless enough for the curious (or believer) to try.

Penile plethysmograph (PPG) – is a machine attached to the male member to measure changes to the size of one’s penis while watching or listening to sexually suggestive, pornographic, erotic pictures, or sounds. I will let you determine the usefulness of such a device, but they do exist and are used in more than scientific studies.

Pentagram – is a five-pointed figure used in magic, the occult, or other belief systems. I was walking past a Christmas decoration display for a neighborhood where someone had the bright idea to insert a Star of David (Jewish) into the round wreath (Pagan), with a cross (execution method of Rome) and several angels scattered about. I did not see a traditional crèche scene, but I was amused by what I first considered a pentagram inside of a circle that I’m sure was intended to be inclusive with the Jewish tradition and not the older pagan one. One might inadvertently invoke the evil spirits, if one is careless with symbols.

Problem of Evil – questions how to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient god. Because evil exists, either god doesn’t exist or does not have all three of those properties.

PPG (photos can be searched on line)

A to Z Challenge: Objective Outing of Ouija (O)

Objective (subjective) morality – addresses the source much more than the moral standard. The objective implication is that morality comes from a god, is fixed, and therefore objective. When someone concludes that there are no gods and rejects all religion, the assumption by some is that morality is no more. That is not correct. Only the source changes from scripture to conscience, culture, law, or agreement. Given that slavery, The Spanish Inquisition, war, physical mutilation of children, and hate (9-11) can be scripturally supported yet easily rejected, objective morality is not valid. One does not have much of a moral unraveling when one abandons religion. The fluidity of secular morality makes it subjective, and therefore more adaptable, realistic, and useful.

Out of the closet (atheist) – means we no longer hide something about us. Sexual preferences, political opinions, and religious beliefs are examples. Atheists frequently hide their conclusions regarding the probably of existence of deities, gods, or spirits of any kind. This is to avoid persecution from family, friends, strangers, government, employers, supervisors, plumbers, electricians, painters, small children, teenagers, college students, evangelists, and people in places where most others believe atheists are evil and are people doomed to be damned forever by said non-existent deity.

Religious ministers of any kind, politicians, members of fundamentalist religious families, and Hobby Lobby employees will intentionally hide their lack of religion and belief in any gods for their own protection and that of their families. Others may be semi-closeted by not disclosing or by behaving in cooperation with others as a keep the peace gesture. My personal experience is that I prefer to be out for many reasons. But I keep the peace and suffer severe cognitive dissonance headaches because of it.

Ouija board – is a game that I have not enjoyed playing in many years. Out since the late 1800s, it is played with a board containing an alphabet, a yes and no, a maybe, and goodbye. While I reject divination, spiritualism, and the paranormal, I find such things fun (it is a game). However, in the occult sense it has been blamed for many psychic and psychological disturbances and is often rejected for that reason (as is the game D&D).

So why the answers? That is from the ideomotor effect. The players really do force the planchette (three-legged thingy) over the letters and answers, whether they know it, admit it, or not. Play blindfolded and see (chuckling). Also, good people harbor indecent subconscious, or dark side, thoughts which may be revealed playing the game. If it bothers or frightens you, don’t play.

Occultism – includes alchemy, magick, divination, incantations, magic formulas, and other mumbo-jumbo and woo-woo that people (sadly) believe provide hidden powers for some to control both the natural and supernatural worlds. More BS. At the basic level, this is no more or less nonsense than any religious belief.