This week, we are joined by Zach Nyhus, who was also “background voice #1″ on last week’s episode. Like last week’s guest Marc (who is our background voice this week), Zach is a recovering alcoholic and an atheist. He, however, has found a secular chapter of AA. Atheist & Agnostic AA (4A)is a new movement within the larger AA structure that recognizes that some people don’t want to have god be on their road to recovery. Zach even reads to us from the Big Book! And finally, even though he asked us a question from the audience on our first episode, he never got to answer our five questions…until now!
This week we talk with Marc Baker about his experiences as a atheist who is also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. In something new for us, we recorded with next week’s guest Zach Nyhus in the room because he is also a recovering alcoholic. Marc shares his feelings about the way AA pushes god as a part of the twelve steps and how he manages to make it work for him. Then, because we read his answers on our Left Behind episode, Marc gets to ask us five questions!
Inspired by our talk about asshole atheists, we decided to watch Bill Maher’s film Religulous. Maher himself is frequently referred to as an asshole atheist and he certainly does his best to rile up several believers throughout the movie. We’d all seen the movie before but it elicited strong reactions and got us to think about what made us decide to be “out” as atheists. Molly, especially, has a lot of thoughts on the film. Like, three pages of thoughts. Then we get five answers from the UK!
Well, here we are in February and we know you are wondering we might have in the hopper for the next few weeks. Never fear, we have all the information you need to fill your podcast planner for another month! Here’s what we have coming up:
Februray 26th – Atheism & Dr. Who
Our friend and Doctor Who expert Matt Savelkoul joins us to talk about atheism in Doctor Who. We’ll explore the subtle (and not so subtle) ways the show makes it clear that The Doctor is living in a universe without god.
March 5th – Religulous
As a companion to our Asshole Atheist show, we look at Bill Maher’s film, “Religulous.” Maher is often cited as an asshole atheist and this movie can ignite a lot of strong feelings in atheists and believers alike. We re-watched the movie and can’t wait to share our opinions.
March 12th – Creationist Science Fair
We are joined by author and journalist Rob Callahan, who will tell us about his recent visit to a creationist science fair.
March 19th – Atheism and AA, Part 1
We’re doing a two parter! Two guests will talk with us about being an atheist in Alcoholics Anonymous. This week, we talk to Marc Baker about being a recovering alcoholic in an organization that spends a lot of time talking about god.
March 26th – Atheism and AA, Part 2
In part two of our look at atheism and recovering alcoholics, our friend Zach Nyhus will talk about a new chapter of AA – atheists AA. What happens when you actively work to take god out of the twelve steps?
This is obnoxious. First of all, the surface problems with this are clear. It’s very entitled, and it’s a shining example of Christians not understanding that loss of privilege ≠ loss of rights. On its face, it seems accepting enough. After all, the author goes out of his way to let you know that you Jews and blacks are all right by him, so long as you don’t get offended by him wishing everyone a Merry Christmas because that’s what he celebrates. But I am willing to bet that, were this Christian to be wished “Happy Hanukkah” during Hanukkah, he would be annoyed and say, “I’m not Jewish!” Similar for a Blessed Kwanzaa. So right away, I’m wondering if the respect he demands for his Christmas celebration would be given in return to, say, everyone else.
But let’s get to what really gets on *my nerves. I’m a huge word nerd. I also have a very strong opinion regarding words. THEY ARE JUST WORDS. They only have the power you give them. If you are so bothered by someone saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” you really need to grow the fuck up. There’s no difference. None. Think of it this way: if I said “Happy Holidays” to you in a language you didn’t understand, and you asked me what I said, and I told you it means “Merry Christmas,” you wouldn’t know the difference. Because it’s the thought, the feeling, the intention that matters.
Words are the tools we use to communicate with those around us. Someone who says “Happy Holidays” to you is just conveying “I wish you well during this season of celebration” in their own way. And despite what the crazy Christians would have you believe, no one is legally forcing companies and businesses and television stations to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” They’re choosing to do it. Because they want to include everyone and to make everyone feel warm and happy and festive. It’s not about taking away your Christmas. It’s about letting everyone else in to celebrate together.
Go ahead and call it a Christmas tree. Guess what, asshole? I’m an atheist, and I call it a Christmas tree, too. Posting this doesn’t mean you’re taking some moral stand. You’re not the Rosa Parks of Christmas. You’re just an insecure bully trying to make everyone do things your way.
I got asked the question a few weeks ago. You know the question, right?
“Isn’t atheism just another form of religion?”
I gave the flippant answer right away: atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.
Atheism is the absence of religion. I have no deity guiding what I do.
“Yeah, but isn’t science your religion?”
No. Because if new research shows conclusively that the prevailing scientific paradigm is wrong, I’ll change my view. If the existence of ghosts could actually be proven, I’d totally believe in ghosts.
I want to talk about Gabby Douglas and God. As you may or may not know, Gabby Douglas is an Olympic gymnast for the United States, and she won gold. She was amazing. Of course, people felt the need to bitch about her hair, but that’s not what I want to discuss. Gabby Douglas attributed all of her success to God.
Now, let me show you the image meme someone posted on Facebook that got me thinking about all of this:
The text that “For America” has provided with this image says that “some in the media are complaining” about Gabby Douglas’ Christianity. It then implores you to Like the image if you are “tired of liberal attacks on Christians.” One of the first comments I saw was from a man who said he had spent the last hour and a half scouring news sites, feeds, media aggregates, and search engines, yet he could not find a single instance of any person from the media lambasting her for or complaining about her remarks. He went on to say that these sorts of things are dangerously divisive, and I have to agree.
You might think that I, as an outspoken atheist and anti-theist, would have a problem with what Gabby has said. But I don’t. Because SHE did the work, and SHE won the medal, and if SHE wants to say that was her god working through her, that is her prerogative. What I can’t stand is when someone has heart surgery, or survives a car crash due to emergency responders, and then says that God saved them. No, a surgeon saved you. A paramedic saved you.
But see, Gabby Douglas did this on her own. This is her victory, her achievement. I can’t think of any reason anyone, atheist liberal godless heathen socialist or not, would deign to say she is in the wrong with her statement. If a neurosurgeon removes a tumor from your brain, and you say, “Thank you, doctor, you saved my life!” and the doctor’s response is, “No, I was merely the vessel through which God worked His miracle for you,” so be it. He did the surgery, he gets to say who deserves the credit.
But fuck you if you wake up from that surgery and give all the glory to your god and none to the surgical team or the scientists who came up with the medicine practices used.
My earliest memories of religion involve being a brat during Sunday School , which was led by my grandmother or (now atheist) mother, or getting dragged out to rural Minnesota to go listen to my grandfather deliver his lengthy Easter sermon.