Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter, A Photographic Wonder

I'm a fan of the crazy pictures of kids with Santa[1].  But Easter pictures tend to be way better.  To illustrate that point, Ebaumsworld[2][3] & Happy Place[4] have shared a few.  There's some overlap between them, but they're both worth checking out.  Here's a few of my favorites.

And here's a few other fun Easter related bits for the day.

(via Jesus McChrist)[5]

(via We Fucking Love Atheism)[6]

(via Empty and Meaningless)[7]


Happy Easter / What Is Jesus?

Today's the day atheists will be calling Jesus a zombie[1].  But I'm going with PZ Myers[2] on this one.  Jesus not a zombie.  He's a lich.

Although, I do really like the Cyanide & Happiness take on it[3].

What do you think?  Zombie, lich, or marionette?


Please Tell Me This Is A Joke - Jesus Take The Wheel Edition

I've heard of the concept of letting "Jesus take the wheel", but I've never heard of it being taken seriously, even by Christians.  But then there's this event[1][2].
On March 31, 2013, Christians all over the world will take to the streets in their automobiles. Relying only on the divine protection of Jesus Christ, they will prove that the Savior of Man will not abandon them when they remove their hands from the steering wheels of their cars for a total of 5 minutes. They will not be at a red light, or a stop sign, they will be on the highways. This is TRUE FAITH. Jesus Christ does not abandon his children, and with the current state of the world, it's time to show Jesus that we have not abandoned him. Do not come to this page telling us that we are crazy and that we are going to die. Jesus is our Shepherd, and he will tend to his flock. Please join us and show that you are NOT AFRAID to place your life in the hands of Jesus Christ.
This cannot be serious.  Can it?  I sure as hell hope not.  I know religious beliefs are stupid, but come on people.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Morning Shares - 03-30-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Most were also shared on this Facebook page or retweeted.  Please feel free to add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Random Stuff:

5 Alternatives to Unfriending Someone on Facebook (via @mashable)

Tea Partiers boycotting FOX News for being too leftist. (via @jteberhard)

(via George Takei)


Gay Stuff:

GLAAD to Fox News: You're on Thin Ice (via The Advocate magazine)

(via Americans Against the Tea Party)

Religion Stuff:

(via Steven Olsen)

‘Militant Atheism’ Isn’t a Religion; It’s an Oxymoron (via @hemantmehta)

Creationist offers $10,000 to anyone willing to challenge literal interpretation of Genesis in court (via Bob)

How Skeptics Can Break the Cycle of False Beliefs (via Becky)

Secular Coalition of America's Weekly Update:

National Secular Movement Update Call (03/28/2013)

Asshole Of The Week:


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I Carry A Sharpie

When the United States of America was founded, it was given the motto "E pluribus unum"[1].  Out of many, one[2].  It's a beautifully simple phrase to describe what America was all about.  Thirteen colonies united to stand up to the oppression of a monarchy, to become one united nation.  And after earning their Independence, they created the world's first secular nation.  A nation that valued freedom and justice, even despite our recent many failures in both arenas.

What dollar bills looked before 1957
We remained united for over a century and a half.  Perhaps it's fitting that the Civil War is when the eventual end of "E pluribus unum" was put into motion[3].
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:
Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.
In other words, "In God We Trust" on our money is explicitly Christian in origin.

Even as a child, I knew it was wrong that our money referenced a god.  I would have also stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance[4] too, if I hadn't already stopped because it was so creepy[5].

Our government is supposed to be entirely neutral on the subject of religion.  This is what ensures our Freedom of Religion, including my Freedom From Religion.  I was able to figure that out long before I ever learned of Teddy Roosevelt's thoughts on the matter[6].
I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools. (Address, New York, October 12, 1915).
This is also why when I do mark my money, which is always, I make a point to never make it specifically atheist.  That would be just as wrong as what our government is currently doing with the money.  For example, I'm against stuff like this[7].

No one's religion, or lack thereof, has any place in anything to do with our government.  Our government is supposed to be secular.  Not Christian.  Not Muslim.  Not atheist.  Our government should have nothing to say on the matter whatsoever.  Secular.  Instead, we overreacted to "atheist" Communism during the Cold War and forced it back onto our money and made it our national motto[8].

Today, the "America is a Christian nation" crowd regularly uses that motto, and all the other ways they've forced their god into our society[9][10] as a way to justify that ridiculous claim.  They've rewritten history enough that many teenagers don't realize reality[11].  Its presence on our money is not without consequence.

And that is why I carry a Sharpie[12].

I prefer the Sharpie because it's portable.  But another option is the stamp a friend had made for a few of us using VistaPrint[13] and this image[14][15].

I'm not foolish enough to think the relatively small amount of bills I mark will solve the problem of religion being forced into our government, but I simply cannot accept the alternative of leaving my money broken when I know I can fix it.

9. (ACLJ is the right wing's response to the ACLU)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sometimes Science Happens In Nebraska

Living in Nebraska means not having a lot in the realm of science happening around me.  Usually, the only bright spot on that subject comes from the presence of Nebraska oldest non-theist group, REASON[1].  But the University of Nebraska recently did something newsworthy[2][3].
The precise methodology of Richard Feynman’s famous double-slit thought-experiment – a cornerstone of quantum mechanics that showed how electrons behave as both a particle and a wave – has been followed in full for the very first time.
I'm not all that into the particulars of physics, possibly because I don't understand most of it.  But I'm quite happy that there some who are into it enough, and understand it well enough, to have achieved this scientific landmark.  I'm even happier that it happened in Nebraska.

You cannot stop progress or science.  Even in a red state.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I Am An Atheist

Patheos challenged its bloggers to write 200 words or less on why they are the religious view they are.
Hemant Mehta shared his[1][2] and a couple others[3][4].  Hemant asked if anyone else had one to share, and I thought it would be worth trying.  So, here's mine.
I am atheist because I've never known how to be anything else.

I have never needed a god to know right from wrong; and I reject the notion that a god, who condones slavery, can be an arbiter of morality.

Faith is not something I am capable of.  I cannot believe something for which there is no evidence. A comforting lie is no comfort and is still a lie.

I am an atheist because I know no other way to be.

I am an atheist because it’s all I am, all I’ve ever been, and all I ever can be.[5]
It's not perfect, but it's mine[6].  What's yours?

5.  Yes, I ripped off Sagan.  Deal with it.
6.  And Minchin.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Crocodile Tears About Norm MacDonald

The Blaze[1] & Big Hollywood[2] are both accusing atheists on Twitter of bullying comedian Norm MacDonald into silence.

MacDonald expressed his faith in a tweet while responding to an inquiry[3].

He got some responses to that expression from a few who didn't agree.

These are the examples they provided of the "bullying".  The idea that these tweets qualify as bullying is weak sauce. None of them threatened him. No one even suggested he should not express his opinion. If they had done so, that sure as fuck would have been included in both articles.

MacDonald would have been just fine if he had left the tweets there. Deleting them was his own choice. Personally, I'm more disappointed that he deleted them than that he said it in the first place. I enjoyed his comedy before this contrived controversy. I don't see how this incident would change that.

The Big Hollywood article that started this ends with:
Atheists and secularists won’t be satisfied until they bully every last religious person into silence. And as Macdonald could tell you, that’s not funny at all.
That's what this is really about. They are determined to paint us a particular way, so they grasp at straws to twist innocuous events to fit that mold. It's horseshit. But, then again, horseshit is what Beck & Breitbart deal in best.

This is how scared they are of us. They make up stupid shit like this. If they want to see truly despicable words, they should see their own comments section.

Or some of the tweets on the issue.

And what did the guy who started it all have to say about it?

Those are not the words of a bully.

I will call atheists out when they're behaving inappropriately[4] and I adamantly oppose the practice of blaming the victim[5].  But simply speaking up in opposition to religion does not qualify as bullying.

Bullying did occur here, but it wasn't by the atheists.  This whole thing is an attempt to shame us into silence.  It's pathetic and should not be tolerated.


Star Trek On Rape

Thanks to a post by George Takei[1], I found Star Trek on Hulu[2] and have been watching The Original Series.  I noticed something interesting in the episode, "The Enemy Within"[3].  The premise of the episode is a transporter accident causing Captain Kirk to be split into 2 different halves.  One good, one evil.

In the scene at 9:19 Evil Kirk goes to Yeoman Rand's quarters and attempts to rape her.

In scene soon after, at 12:40, Rand is in sickbay with Spock, McCoy, and Good Kirk.  At this point, none of them know there are 2 Kirks running around.  So, as far as Spock & McCoy are aware, they're talking the victim of a sexual assault with the attacker in the room.  Better yet, the accused attacker is in charge of the questioning.

The conversation went like this[4]:
AND: Then he kissed me and he said that we, that he was the Captain and he could order me. I didn't know what to do. When you mentioned the feelings we'd been hiding, and you started talking about us. 
KIRK: Us? 
RAND: Well, he is the captain. I couldn't just. You started hurting me. I had to fight you, and scratch your face. 
KIRK: Yeoman, look at me. Look at me, look at my face. Are there any scratches? 
RAND: I was sure I scratched you. I was frightened. Maybe 
KIRK: Yeoman. I was in my room. It wasn't me. 
RAND: Sir, Fisher saw you, too. 
KIRK: Fisher saw? 
RAND: If it hadn't been. I can understand. I don't want to get you into trouble. I wouldn't have even mentioned it! 
KIRK: It wasn't me! 
FISHER: It was you, sir. 
KIRK: Do you know what you're saying? 
FISHER: Yes, I know what I'm saying. 
MCCOY: Back to that bed, bucko. Come on, let's go. 
SPOCK: You can go now, Yeoman. (Rand leaves) There's only one logical answer. We have an impostor aboard.
The only reason she even reported the attempted rape, by the ship's captain, was the witness.  Had Fisher not been there, Rand would have let the assault go unreported.  She would have just let it happen without consequence.  For the attacker at least.  She would have still had the consequence of working for man who had tried to rape her.

Then there's the final scene.
FARRELL: Status report, green. 
SPOCK: All sections report ready, sir. 
KIRK: Good. Thank you, Mister Spock, from both of us. 
SPOCK: Shall I pass that on to the crew, sir? 
KIRK: The impostor's back where he belongs. Let's forget him. 
RAND: Captain? The impostor told me what happened, who he really was, and I'd just like to say that. Well, sir, what I'd like is 
KIRK: Thank you, Yeoman. 
SPOCK: The, er, impostor had some interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, Yeoman? 
KIRK: This is the Captain speaking. Navigator, set in course correction. Helmsman, steady as she goes.
According to the Star Trek wiki, Memory Alpha, Grace Lee Whitney (the actress who played Rand) had something to say about that[5].
Actress Grace Lee Whitney was very unhappy about the last scene of this episode, in which Spock asks Yeoman Rand, if "The imposter had some very interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, Yeoman?". In her autobiography, she wrote: "I can't imagine any more cruel and insensitive comment a man (or Vulcan) could make to a woman who has just been through a sexual assault! But then, some men really do think that women want to be raped. So the writer of the script (ostensibly Richard Matheson - although the line could have been added by Gene Roddenberry or an assistant scribe) gives us a leering Mr. Spock who suggests that Yeoman Rand enjoyed being raped and found the evil Kirk attractive!" (The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, p. 95)
No shit?  Praising the attacker, jokingly or not, to the victim is inappropriate?  Weird.

It may be a television show, and the incident is fictional.  But film is a reflection of society at the time.  For a show praised for its diversity[6] and tolerance[7], it really missed the ball on the subject of rape.  This is how one of the most progressive shows of its time portrayed rape.

I guess I would feel a little bit better about their failure 50 years ago if we had learned anything since then.  But then there's Steubenville[8].

Yay for us.  Way to go.  Ugh.

Maybe we'll treat victims properly after another 50 years.


Saturday Morning Shares - 03-23-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Most were also shared on this Facebook page or retweeted.  Please add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Random Stuff:

(via George Takei)


There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written (via Sarah)

Two ships passing in the night: neuroscience and social media (via @Alyssa_Milano)

Shorter-winged swallows evolve around highways (via Mark)

Secular Coalition of America's Weekly Update:

National Secular Movement Update Call (03/21/2013)

Religion Stuff:

The High School Performing a Play About ‘Adam and Steve’ Isn’t Being Anti-Christian (via @hemantmehta)

(via Atheism)

Cardinal asserts that child raping priests shouldn’t be punished. (via @jteberhard)

Frans de Waal's Bottom-Up Morality: We're Not Good Because Of God (via Omaha Coalition of Reason)

(via @tsh1118)
An Increasing Number of Atheist and Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous Groups Are Altering the Twelve Steps (via @hemantmehta)

Digital Bible Reaches 100 Million Listeners (via @mashable)

Atheist Student Questioned By Police For Being an Atheist (via Kansas City Atheist Coalition (KCAC))

Expert: Gay Rights Opponents Misrepresenting Religious Liberty

ACT NOW:  Tell your Senators not to use your taxpayer money to fund religious schools! (via @OmahaCoR)

Pope Stuff:

Geography of the Conclave: Where Do the Cardinals Come From? (via @ZacharyNelson)

(via Rational Hub)

Asshole Of The Week:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How To Respond When The Boy Scouts Ask For Money

The Boy Scouts were a big part of my adolescence.  I learned a lot from my involvement with them.  I even remember a few bits of it.  While I didn't properly appreciate it at the time, it was one of the ways I spent time with my father.  I was involved enough that I was at the 1993 National Jamboree, a trip that I still have fond memories of.

I was bothered by the 12th part of the Scout Law and other references to a god[1], but I never said anything about it, as I was used to ignoring religion in all sorts of places.  I had already been not saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school for years.  My troop never kicked me out for being atheist.  Although, I'm not sure if any of the leaders, other than my father, even knew I was. I was an adult before I learned how bigoted they are regarding atheists[2] and homosexuals[3].  Seeing them be this bigoted has been incredibly disappointing, especially with all the drama of maybe ending their bigotry[4].

This has been the first time, since receiving it, that I've wished I could find my Eagle Scout Medal.  So I could send it back[5].

If it weren't for the bigotry, I would probably be eager to donate.  But they are bigoted.  So, I'm left unable to morally justify supporting them.  That's why I like the letter[6] Josh Hyde[7] recently sent in response to a request for a donation.

He even included some quality snark with the stamp[8]

Activism isn't just protesting with signs.  It's showing people they're why wrong in a variety of ways.  While this one letter will not magically make the Boy Scouts be as inclusive they should be, it helps show the bigotry does not go unchallenged.  The more of us who let people know that bigotry isn't acceptable, the more they'll know bigotry isn't acceptable.

And if we let them know in such a polite, straightforward way as Josh's letter, it's that much better.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Some Questions For So-Called "Pro-Life" People

Today, the Facebook page Bigot Vanquisher has posed a few questions[1] on the issue of abortion that I think are worth sharing.
For those who are 'against' pregnancy termination, would you answer the following questions please?

1) If a woman accidentally gets pregnant (because she is a stupid whore, obviously) do you think she should be forced to carry the pregnancy? How far would you be willing to go to make sure she carried the pregnancy to term?

2) If abortion was illegal and a woman got an alley-abortion and managed not to die, but got caught, what should her punishment be?

3) Would you rather a young woman had access to an early pregnancy termination, or put her newborn baby in a dumpster or toilet?
I have some of my own to add.
  1. How much of a tax increase would you be willing to accept to provide the universal healthcare for pregnant women to keep them healthy enough to prevent the complications that are the reason for most late-term abortions?

  2. How much of a tax increase would you be willing to accept to provide for the care of the children who would have otherwise been aborted?

  3. Have you lobbied your legislative representation to make those changes happen?

  4. If against your taxes going up for programs that would reduce abortions, how do you justify calling yourself "Pro-Life".

  5. Have you ever lobbied to have our military budget cut?

  6. If you support our military spending, how do you reconcile that with calling yourself "Pro-Life"?


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ernie Chambers Takes On Nebraska Homophobes

Living in Nebraska means putting up with a lot of religion and other types of nonsense from our politics.  We're not quite as bad as some other states, but it's bad enough that I have to compare our state to the shenanigans of states like Tennessee[1] or Mississippi[2] to make it seem better by comparison.

But we've also got Ernie Chambers[3].

He's even caught the attention of The Friendly Atheist[4].  If Nebraska can have one Ernie Chambers, I bet we could have more.  We would just need to work to make it happen.


Chick fil-A, Still Assholes

Since the publicity last year about Chick-fil-A's[1] donations to hate groups[2], I've heard a variety of things about the issue.  Some friends have tried to say "it's just a sandwich".  But enough people stood up to  Chick-fil-A[3] that they promised to stop the donations[4].

Last week, Think Progress reported on their 2011 donations to these ant-gay hate causes[5][6].
In 2011, the group actually gave even more to anti-LGBT causes. Its contribution to the Marriage & Family Foundation jumped to $2,896,438 and it gave the same amount to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and National Christian Foundation as it had in 2010. In total, the anti-LGBT spending exceeded $3.6 million — almost double the $1.9 million from the year before.


In essence, Chick-fil-A’s “charitable” contributions in 2011 were no less hateful than in 2010 — just less transparent.
This spike in donations occurred before the promise for them to cease.  I wish I expected us to see anything different when the information on their 2012 donations comes out.

1.  Chick-fil-A Does Not Want Your Money

Saturday Morning Shares - 03-16-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Please add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Not At All About Religion:

Meet the woman with the world’s strongest VAGINA (via Todd N Tyler Radio Empire)

designed-for-life: Invisible Farm (via @ZacharyNelson)

Seals Yelling Like Goats Yelling Like Humans (via @mashable)

R2-D2 Papercraft  (via @MattersofGrey)

(via @thinkgeek)
Don't Be Offended. Seriously, Don't. (via @SethMacFarlane)

Secular Coalition of America's Weekly Update:

National Secular Movement Update Call (03/14/2013)

About Religion:

Young, Sick and Invisible: A Skeptic's Journey With Chronic Illness (via @jteberhard)

Humanist Essay Contest (via @Teresamacbain)

(Thanks to Kevin, fellow fan of Atheist Experience & Non-Prophets)

(via @hemantmehta)

My father, the hate preacher: Nate Phelps on escaping Westboro Baptist Church (via @OuRR_World)

Petition Interdiction: Tenn. Legislator Seeks To Make It A Crime To Protest Church-State Violations

CIA Director takes his oath of office the right way. (via @jteberhard)

Last Year, Atheists Raised $430,000 for Cancer Research; Let’s Do Even Better This Year (via @hemantmehta)

Next Week Is ‘A’ Week (via Omaha Atheists)

Pope Stuff:

Who Is Pope Francis? (via @hemantmehta)

New Pope, Same Old Homophobia (via @hemantmehta)

Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Rages Against Abortion “Death Sentence” (via @hemantmehta)

All Of These Pope Twitter And Facebook Accounts Are Fake  (via @Alyssa_Milano)

What a New Pope Means for Atheists (via @hemantmehta)

Pope Francis in 92 Seconds (via @mashable)

(via Satan, thanks to Sarah for sharing)

Asshole Of The Week:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Making The Case For Marriage Equality

I've said for a long time that there's more truth in comedy than anything else.  It's why The Daily Show is what it is.  This video may have been meant as humor, but it presents one of the best cases for marriage equality I've seen.

Opponents of marriage equality should pay attention.  But I doubt they will.  After all, if bigots were smart, they wouldn't be bigots.

1.  18+ Humour (Thanks to Sarah for sharing)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Has Recovering From Religion Helped You?

Has Recovering from Religion[1] helped you?  If so, they'd like to hear about it[2].
We get "hate mail" all the time, but let's focus on the positive! If you'd like to share how Recovering From Religion has helped you, we'd love to hear it! If you'd like us to consider your comments for inclusion on the website, please email a brief comment to and include the first name and last initial you would like listed. Thanks for being a part of our world!
If they haven't already helped you, and your life is negatively impacted by religion, they probably could[3].


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Harlem Shake - Apostacon Edition

With so many versions of the Harlem Shake[1] out there, The Omaha Coalition of Reason[2] decided to get in on it[3] and do one to support their upcoming conference, Apostacon[4].

Omaha has a fun bunch of atheists.  Apostacon is going to be good times.  It's definitely worth registering now[5] so you don't miss out.


Dishonesty About Honesty, Again

The subject of my last post[1], read it and responded on the Twitters, where we were already conversing.
I, of course, said no such thing.  It's difficult to tell if he really doesn't get it or if he's intentionally lying.  He went on to say:
I already knew he didn't, by what he wrote in the article in question[2].
If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we're alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.
But, as anyone who read his article probably knows, he's twisting the views entirely backward.

Learning there's no god doesn't take away the answers of prayers that we already know don't get answered.  It takes away the threat of Hell.  It takes away a tyrant who makes mundane so-called "sin" punishable by death.  It takes away the idea that we're all inherently deserving of eternal torture.

Learning there's no afterlife does not mean our lives are meaningless.  It does the exact opposite.  The promise of an afterlife is what would make this life ultimately meaningless.  An eternal afterlife would make this short life, as Matt Dillahunty has put it, nothing more than a place to wipe your feet.

The knowledge that there's no afterlife means knowing this life is all we have.  It means having to get all we can out of this life, as there's nothing after this life is over.  That's far from meaningless.

And the idea that the absence of a god means "those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free" is utter nonsense when said by a Christian, who believes believers in Jesus will get eternal bliss no matter what crimes they committed in their lives.  His religion not only states the evil will not be punished, it states evil will be rewarded.

So it's not the absence of his tyrant of a god that is "utterly tragic".  It's that god, and all the evils that come with it that is tragic.  It's the complete disregard for honesty many of that god's followers have that is tragic.

It's their unwillingness to have an honest discussion with anyone who doesn't agree with them that is tragic.


Dishonesty About Honesty

Damon Linker seems to think the only honest atheist is a nihilist[1].
If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we're alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.
Honest atheists understand this.
This assertion is as absurd as it common. It assumes that without a god, there is no beauty in the world. No hope. No happiness. Nothing worth appreciating anywhere.  I wonder if Linker has ever heard of Carl Sagan[2] or Neil deGrasse Tyson[3].  He could not honestly suggest they do not believe what they say about the wonders of the universe.

When reading the article, I was not sure if he had ever actually talked to an atheist at all about their beliefs. I suspected not but also realized he could be one of those theists who, after having their misrepresentations of atheists corrected by atheists, simply ignore it in favor of continuing the strawman.

After a brief conversation with Linker via Twitter[4], I'm left thinking he's the latter.  When pressed, and when he apparently thought it was giving him an edge over me, he recognized that atheists aren't all the same.  In other words, he knows we're not all nihilists like he claimed in the article.  He knows this, yet he still wrote an article suggesting we are.  He lied.

He also displayed an interesting level of arrogance, telling me the obvious[5], as if between the two of us I'm the one who doesn't understand that truth is independent of perception.  It's still amazing to me that people can get so close to getting it and still actively misrepresent atheism is such a drastic way.

It's almost as if they're actively avoiding an honest discussion because they know it wouldn't turn out in their favor.

Well, if they're not going to participate in anything honestly, I guess we're only left with the option of calling out the liars for what they are.  It's a shame.  Honesty would be so more productive.  Which is probably why Damon Linker was pretending to revere it.