There is no better evidence for God than there is for unicorns, fairies, Zeus, or the three- inch- tall pink pony behind my sofa who instantly teleports to Guam the moment anyone looks back there. If you don’t treat those ideas as plausible, you shouldn’t treat the God hypothesis as plausible, either. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.
Important note: This post discusses my personal sexuality, in a certain amount of detail. Family members and others who don’t want to read about that stuff, you may not want to read this piece. This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.
And how can it be reached?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sexual intimacy. I wrote about it in my recent exegesis on masochism; I wrote about it in my review of the Japanese movie about the blow-up sex doll. I’ve been thinking about what sexual intimacy is, and how it’s different from sex. And I’ve been thinking about why it’s often so elusive… and what we can do to create it.
But at the same time, intimacy doesn’t happen without work. It takes work to listen carefully to what your partner wants… whether they’re saying it in words, or without words. It takes work to let go of expectations, and to let experiences and people be what they are. It takes work to let go of anxieties and regrets, and let the present moment be what it is. It takes work to let go of self-consciousness and overthinking; to put a gag and a blindfold on the detached observer in your head who’s constantly sitting back offering running commentary on your life, and to just let yourself fucking well experience your life already. (She said bitterly, knowing way the hell too much about this one.)
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. (I’m still thinking about it, by the way, so if you have ideas about this, please speak up in the comments!) And the concept that keeps coming to mind is readiness.
I don’t think we can make intimate sexual moments happen. As my Facebook friend Elin said when we were talking about last week’s masochism piece: “That’s one of the really exciting (and maddening) things about sex, isn’t it… getting completely in the moment and then one second later realizing you’re completely in the moment… at which point, of course, you’re not anymore. ” That’s what I was getting at a few paragraphs ago when I said that intimacy can’t be forced, or captured and preserved. Trying to force it chases it away; trying to capture it makes it slip through our fingers.
And finally — well, finally for today anyway, these ideas are definitely a work in progress and none of this is my final conclusion — I think we can work to accept and embrace yet another paradox of sexual intimacy… and be okay when it doesn’t happen.
Sometimes sex is just sex: pleasurable, delightful, orgasmic, and just plain old good clean dirty fun. And that’s wonderful. That, just by itself, is entirely worthwhile and valuable. Being disappointed in yourself and in each other when sex isn’t an intense intimate connection… that’s an almost ironclad guarantee that the intense intimate connection isn’t going to happen. Being willing to enjoy the pure, animal pleasures of sex — and being willing to share that pleasure and experience it together — is one of the ways we can make ourselves ready for those moments of intense connection to sneak up on us without warning.
Atheism is not just as much a matter of faith as religion. Atheism is a provisional conclusion, based on the currently available evidence. If atheists see better evidence for God in the future, we’ll change our minds. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.
Quick summary of the talk (from the intro):
I don’t think it’s news to anybody that the current atheist movement is largely dominated by white men… especially in positions of visibility and leadership. And I also don’t think it’s news to anybody that many atheists resist seeing this as a problem that we need to take action on. These people aren’t overtly racist or sexist (usually), they’re not saying, “We don’t want women or people of color in our movement.” They just don’t see this as their responsibility, and they don’t see it as particularly important.
So today, I want to talk about why this is important. I want to talk about how, with the best of intentions, both individuals and a movement as a whole can become exclusionary without ever meaning to. I want to talk about why it isn’t enough to just not be overtly racist or sexist, why we have to take positive action to counter this trend. I want to talk about why the atheist movement should make this a priority — for pragmatic reasons as well as ethical ones. And I want to talk about what, specifically, practically, we can do about it.
To find out how movements can become exclusionary even without meaning to, why atheists have to take positive action on diversity, why we need to make it a priority, and what exactly we can do about it, listen to my talk. (Video is embedded after the jump, since posting video before the jump mucks up my archives. You can also see it at the link.) Many, many thanks to the University of British Columbia Freethinkers Club, the Simon Fraser University Skeptics, and the Secular Student Alliance, for making this tour happen. I should have video and/or audio of my other talks from this tour soon. Happy to be back and blogging again!
Atheism is not nihilistic, cynical, or despairing. Most atheists experience great meaning and joy in our lives, and are passionate about engaging with the world and making it a better place. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.
Important FYI: This event is in a room with limited space, so it’s first- come- first- served on getting in. If you want to go, get there early.
Here are the details:
Burgers and Beer
401 NE Northgate Way, Seattle, WA
Sunday, Sept. 12
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Limited space! The Seattle Atheists have a reservation for 20 people in the banquet room/ back room/ whatever room it is they have reserved at the Ram. But that’s all the room there is. So get there early if you want to get in!
Also, there is apparently more than one Ram in Seattle. Be sure to go to the right one, at 401 NE Northgate Way.
If you’re in Seattle on Sunday, I hope to see you there!
ANOTHER IMPORTANT UPDATE! There will be a reception after the University of British Columbia talk, on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Railway Club at 579 Dunsmuir Street, from 9pm until midnight. It’s open to the public.
IMPORTANT UPDATES! The location for the Reed College talk has been changed! See below for details. And we’re working on a last-minute event in Seattle: the details aren’t set yet, but it looks like it’s going to be on Sunday, Sept. 12, in the early evening. It’ll probably be a more informal hanging-out/ Q&A session rather than a formal talk. I’ll post the exact where and when and other details as soon as I have them.
LOCATION: Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada
AQ 3005 (Academic Quadrangle)
TIME: 2:30 – 4:30 pm
SPONSORS: SFU Skeptics
TOPIC: Atheism and Sexuality. The sexual morality of traditional religion tends to be based, not on solid ethical principles, but on a set of taboos about what kinds of sex God does and doesn’t want people to have. And while the sex-positive community offers a more thoughtful view of sexual morality, it still often frames sexuality as positive by seeing it as a spiritual experience. What are some atheist alternatives to these views? How can atheists view sexual ethics without a belief in God? And how can atheists view sexual transcendence without a belief in the supernatural?
LOCATION: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
WOOD 3 (lecture hall 3 in the Woodward building; here’s a map)
TIME: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
SPONSORS: UBC Freethinkers Club
TOPIC: Diversity in the Atheist Movement. The most visible representatives of the atheist movement tend to be white men. Is this a problem? If so, should the atheist movement be doing something about it — and if so, what?
EVENT: Reception after UBC talk
LOCATION: Railway Club
579 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
TIME: 9:00 pm – midnight
SPONSORS: UBC Freethinkers Club and SFU Skeptics
LOCATION: Seattle. Somewhere.
TIME: Don’t know yet.
SPONSORS: Seattle Atheists.
LOCATION: Reed College, Portland, OR
Psych 105 Bio 19 lecture hall (new location!)
TIME: 7:00 – 8:00 (possibly ending later if Q&A is going well)
SPONSORS: Reed Secular Alliance
TOPIC: Why Are You Atheists So Angry? The atheist movement is often accused of being driven by anger. Is this assessment accurate? What are so many atheists so angry about? Is this anger legitimate? And can anger be an effective force behind a movement for social change?
Hope to see you there!
And I’m going to be taking a break from the blog while I’m gone — including from the Atheist Memes of the Day. I may post something now and then if I have time and get inspired, but while inspiration will almost certainly not be lacking, time almost certainly will. I’ll be blogging again after I get back on the 14th. See you then!
“I love sex,” she says. “And some people thought it was a bad thing. But I’ve learned that a slut is just a woman with the morals of a man.”
Sudden, screeching rewind back in time, slightly less than nine months. The free-spirited adventurer in question, Angela (Karin Anna Cheung), has just learned that one of her adventures has resulted in an embryo. She considers getting an abortion — her gay best friend, Gabriel (Wilson Cruz) practically demands it — but her conservative sister Juliet (Lynn Chen) pressures/ fearmongers/ persuades her that her life would be better if she settled down to a normal, stable family life. “Settle down,” she exhorts. “Grow up, and be happy for once.” Somehow neglecting to notice that Angela is already pretty darned happy. And definitely neglecting to notice that Angela is making her own conscious decisions about her own life… pretty much the textbook definition of being grown up.
So Angela decides to keep the baby… and embarks on a comical search to figure out which of her many adventuring partners is the father. It’s a challenge: Angela’s partners are sufficient enough in number that she keeps track of them through what she calls “baseball cards,” Polaroids with personal stats scrawled on the back. But she narrows the possibilities down to the five men she didn’t use birth control with — and goes through an assortment of wacky hijinks to collect their DNA for paternity tests. Her heart is pulling her in one direction — toward Jefferson (Archie Kao), the sweetheart labeled on her baseball card as “Mystery Man” — but she’s bound and determined that she’s going to have a normal married life, which means the man she marries should bloody well be the man she happened to conceive with. Regardless of whether she actually, you know, likes him, and wants to spend the rest of her life with him.
Yes, I know. It’s another “shmashortion” movie, in which a woman who under any other circumstances would be off to Planned Parenthood in a nanosecond for an abortion mysteriously decides to keep the baby… because if she didn’t, it’d be a fifteen minute movie. It’s an annoying pattern. Noted. Annoyed. Let’s move on.
Because “The People I’ve Slept With” is, in fact, a movie worth moving on to. It’s an odd duck: a mutant offspring of a smart, quirky, genuinely funny character study/ comedy of errors, and a sloppy, under-written jumble of cliches and careless implausibility. But the good stuff is sufficiently good — and sufficiently uncommon — to make it well worth a look.
Especially for anyone interested in movie depictions of unconventional sex.
Thus begins my latest Media Darling column on CarnalNation, The People I’ve Slept With. To find out more, read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to Carnal Nation — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!
And now, a cute picture of our cat.
This is Violet, helping me write by sitting on my chest, plonking her butt on my lap desk, and draping her tail on the keyboard. (Am wondering if this would qualify for Cute Overload’s Cats ‘n’ Racks series.)
“People have a right to their beliefs” is a terrible argument against atheist activism. Of course people have a right to believe whatever they like. But people don’t have a right to never have their beliefs questioned and criticized. We question and criticize all other kinds of ideas — why should religion be the exception? Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.