Tag Archives: introduction

Introduction

An Introduction Is In Order

I guess when one gets into this kind of thing that one is somewhat obligated to make a first post to introduce themselves and to lay out their “mission” of sorts with the blog, so that is what I am going to attempt to do here. First things first, the name I chose for the blog is TheAtheismo, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the icons of today’s atheism and how their words are revered in a way not dissimilar from how fundamental Christians revere the words of their Bible. At one point in designing the banner, I had put one of the icon’s face in where God’s is to make the point more explicit, but I decided afterward that such a thing didn’t look as good as the original, and it would probably get missed by most people. It did look funny though.

My original idea with this blog, when I first thought of the name and reserved the twitter account(@TheAtheismo) was that I would play a sort of Stephen Colbert role in satirizing the type of atheism that I find pretty terrible. I would take on the pseudo-role of the privileged, white male upper-class New Atheist who calls religion a mind-virus, who dismisses feminism in the movement(among pretty much all other struggles against institutional privilege). At first blush, such a thing seemed like it would be really funny, especially since I would probably get actually mistaken for one of those that I was making fun of, showing that even the most ridiculous positions don’t seem out of place among the most popular forms of atheism.

After I thought about it more, though, I realized that I would be walking a really fine line; I would always in danger of being just unfunny or ineffective, or on the other extreme just promoting the kind of horrible things that I saw myself as fighting against. Colbert had the advantage of being on screen, of being charismatic, of having audible laughter in the background, things that made it inescapably clear that he was performing satire(and he still messed up big time in some regards). I would have mere text, a medium which can cause one to be easily misunderstood, on top the fact that I am not a very good writer. The possibility┬áthat I would do what I called satire in playing the privileged anti-feminist atheist, but having those words understood by the people I am satirizing as actual support, or being understood by feminists as promoting misogyny, was just too scary. Worse, is that it would very likely propagate those “satirized” ideas, thus doing actual harm. I would not risk doing real harm to a movement–and people–that I support just for some laughs.

So what’s left? Simply put, I still want to focus mostly on fighting against what I see as the worst of today’s atheism, but in a more serious role. To be sure, I will not be taking myself too seriously, but I at least will not be punching down in an attempt at cheap humor. More specifically, I want to talk a bit about the movement’s anti-feminism, about its bad philosophy, bad theology, and just bad thinking. I will not promise to write exclusively on those subjects, but I see those as the ones that I am most interested in at the moment. I really hope that in the process I write things that I am happy about even a decade later when my mind has matured a bit more, and I hope that you, whoever you are reading this far into this post, find something of use or at the very least entertainment in these posts.

 

Thanks!

Lifestyle Religion

Allow myself to introduce… myself.

Hello all!

You don’t know me; my name is Dave Muscato, I’m an atheist, and I’m one of the new writers for Skeptic Freethought.

First off, I want to thank Ellen and the other writers for giving me the chance to contribute here.

Let’s get to it: I’ve been racking my brain for a few days trying to think of a great topic for my first post, and I finally decided that the most appropriate topic would be… an introduction. I think that if I’m going to write for you, it’s only appropriate that you know where I’m coming from and why you should bother reading what I contribute.

So, this is ol’ atheist me:

Just kidding, of course. There are some atheists who make that face, but I’m not one of them. Actually, I’m a vegetarian, I have two kittens, I love to read, and I play classical guitar music and jazz bass. I like yoga, running, hiking, biking, road trips, ancient languages, and hugs. I’m a student, a feminist, and an LGBTQ ally & activist. I do fundraising consulting for non-profits, and I volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Actually me

I’d like you to think of me as your neighbor, you know, the guy who lives in the apartment down the hall and dog-sits when you go away for the weekend. If you see me while you’re out & about, say hi!

I recently wrote an article on my own group’s blog with ideas to help other atheist group leaders. In it, I stressed the importance of a getting personal during and outside of meetings, of opening up to each other and bonding as friends. I’m vice-president of my school’s atheist group, and I also study anthropology – the study of people. One area in which the atheist community simply does not compete with religion is… well, community. If you guys are anything like me, we spend a lot of time looking at cartoons, watching YouTube videos, and reading science books & journals. This is all great; we should strive to expand our knowledge and amuse ourselves. But something is missing.

Just a few short years ago, I was a professional Christian praise & worship musician. I breathed Christ Jesus. I prayed regularly, I studied my Bible, I lead others in worship. I truly believed that laying on hands had healing power. I worried about the souls of my deist parents and my two apathetic brothers. I became obsessed with the Bible, which I knew was God’s Word, and I studied it intensively.

I’ll save my “deconversion testimony” for a future article, but when I started to open my eyes to atheism, I didn’t leave the church right away. In fact, I kept my atheism to myself and continued as a professional P&W musician, leading others in worship, participating in small groups, and performing for an entire year.

I did this because there is more than one reason people go to church, and the “other” reason was strong enough to keep me going, despite the obvious flaws in the rest of it. As I wrote in the article linked above, aside from getting (ultimately incorrect) answers to The Big Questions, people go to church because they want fellowship. It’s a foundational part of being human, and as social animals, we must embrace this. During that year, I was no longer impressed with my pastor’s ideas about the origin of the universe, the meaning of life, what constitutes moral behavior, or what happens to us after we die, but I did – still do – love the music, the sympathetic ears, the encouragement, and the feeling of being among friends.

As an out-of-the-closet atheist and now group officer, although it’s not part of my official charter, I consider it my duty to be available as a resource for other skeptics, especially those still on the fence or still in the closet. Not just for information about evolution, secular ethics, science, and skepticism in general, but as a friend, someone who wants to listen, someone who wants to help them free themselves from the clutches of delusion and welcome them to the real world.

A few people from my group at Skepticon last year :)

If you are out of the closet, I encourage you to make an effort to reach out to people you know. Invite them to your group meetings. Invite them to have coffee with you one-on-one. Invite them to the bar with you and your friends, and don’t talk about religion at all. Invite them to lectures and skeptic’s conferences. If you have friends or know people who are religious, make them a deal: You’ll go with them to church, if they’ll come with you to your skeptics’ group meeting. (It nearly goes without saying that if you’re not already part of a local skeptics’ group, join or start one!). If you need help finding a local group, please let me know and I’ll help you locate one. If you have never been to a skeptics’ conference, find one near you and go!

I look forward to hearing from you all. Have a wonderful week, and take care!

Dave :)