What About Love?

JT gave one of the talks that opened Skepticon last night. It was a new version of his “Dear Christian” speech. It addressed numerous arguments that Christians have given him to try to persuade him into faith. One of the ones that resonated with me went something like, “If you admit you would feed that starving child where God does not, you admit that this world is not perfect. You admit that you are better than God.”

(I tweeted the quote above and had an answer waiting for me this morning. Someone tweeted back to me, “God delegates.” If so, he appears to have very poor judgment. Children still starve.)

Near the end of the talk, JT held out his hand literally and metaphorically to Christians with doubts an uncertainties. He said that while God has abandoned the believer, atheists have not. They are welcome to join us.

Then JT took one one more argument. “What about love?”

JT in front of a a slide of the cuddling couple.

Behind him, a slide show started, pictures of him and Michaelyn together and happy.

JT in front of another slide of the cuddling couple.

JT talked about how Michaelyn made him feel attractive in the face of his anorexia. He told us that there are heavens and hells that are far more real than anything in philosophy. He told us Michaelyn gives him access to all the heaven he’s ever had.

JT in front of one more slide of the cuddling couple.

While JT was doing this, a dozen of his friends who were seated all around the auditorium got up and each brought a single red rose to Michaelyn where she was sitting with JT’s parents. Then JT asked her to marry him.

JT and Michaelyn hugging after Michaelyn said, "Yes."

She said yes.

There will be better pictures. A very large number of people knew what was coming, and several of them had good cameras. But I took these anyway for those of you who couldn’t be there last night.

What about love indeed.

What About Love?
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22 thoughts on “What About Love?

  1. 3

    Atheism reduced to reality tv and soap opera slush – saccharine romance, relentless gossip, slander and vicious backstabbing for personal gain. FTB/Skepchick’s great contribution to the universe.

  2. 7

    Being unfamiliar with neither JT nor the rest of involved people, I can only say I am glad for them and wish them well.

    But that “delegating” God comment made me tninking.

    Not only is God making piss poor job at delegating (assuming, for the sake of argument, that he/she/it exits). His form of “delegating” is fairly incompetent.

    The whole point of delegating is effective division of labour. What one cannot accomplish by themselves, one delegates to others, in order to get the best possible result. Good boss delegates tasks in accordance with individual qualifications and competences of his coworkers and maintaing only tasks he cannot delegate by default. Bad boss delegates chaoticaly. Worse boss delegates even delegating. Worst boss expects that everyone reads their mind and does as they wish without them doing anything at all and occasionaly giving conflicting orders (I worked with such boss).

    It is clear to which category God belongs. But that is not the end of it. God is supposed to be omnipotent, he/she/it therefore does not need to delegate in order to increase effectivity. When somenone delegates work that they are able to do by themselves with much higher effectivity than anyone else and without hindrance to their other activities, that person is not only lazy bum, but also a bully.

    @ qwerty68: It is “good” to see, that the world is still predictable and that no matter what the topic is, some troll tries to poison the well with stinking red herring from the start, making relevant discussion and social interaction incredibly difficult. Thank you for your demonstration of that simple fact, that not only religious people can be obnoxious asocial jerks with brains the size of a wallnut, some atheists excell at it too.

    I am sure no-one here knew that allready and we were in sore need of a reminder [/snark].

    PS. Cudos for combining multiple logical fallacies in two sentences, thats quite a gift you got there.

  3. 9

    I’m a little suprised at JT over this.

    Public proposals aren’t ‘adorable’ at all. They’re either manipulative or saccharine.

    Either you aren’t sure that the person you’re proposing to wants to get married, in which case you’re setting up a situation in which it would be highly embarrassing to say ‘no’ – manipulative.

    Or the two of you have already discussed, and agreed on, marriage beforehand, and it’s just a showy performance – saccharine.

  4. 11

    I feel the same way about public proposals. It’s manipulative + usually patriarchal BS. A shared surprise announcement would be slightly less 19th century. Of course I still am happy for the two, whatever floats their love boat…

  5. 12

    Ruth #9

    Public proposals aren’t ‘adorable’ at all. They’re either manipulative or saccharine.

    A woman of my acquaintance was given a public proposal by a man she was friendly with but not in love with. She declined the proposal. His friends treated her like the Slyme Pit treats Rebecca Watson. She eventually moved to a different state to get away from the mess he instigated.

  6. 13

    Generally I agree. Public proposals are fucking stupid. But this doesn’t look like one of those cases. This looks like a couple who’ve been very much in love for some time, who’ve known and understood each other long enough to commit.

    And besides, they seem mature and progressive enough to understand situations and lives change. Marriage isn’t permanent nor should it be. It’s an expression of love and a promise to stand by someone.

    So quit being such Sad Sallies and give the young couple your well wishes! 🙂

  7. 14

    My partner and I had decided to have a ceremony years ago but felt the decision was anticlimactic since we arrived at it while discussing how best to join our assets. Kind of a, “As long as we’re hiring a lawyer to mimic marriage, why not have a party about it?” She said she’d like to propose to me and make a big deal out of it, I said that sounded fun, she asked how we should do it and I said, “You’re more creative than I am, how about you surprise me?”
    My point is public proposals can be symptomatic of the patriarchy but they are not necessarily so. Some couples like to have an audience, especially if that audience is composed of like minded individuals. If you happen find it saccharin, well, it’s about the couple and not you. As observers capable of looking away they owe us nothing.
    To the happy couple I say congrats and I hope they continue to enjoy one another’s companionship for a long time to come.

  8. 15

    @ #13 – Thank. You.

    This was neither manipulative nor a cry for attention. We’d discussed marriage before a few times, and JT knew I would say yes if he was to ask because I had explicitly told him so a couple months ago .
    The timing and how it would be done was a surprise to me, but we both knew it would happen eventually. This was meant to be memorable, and it was.

    Thanks to all the well wishers; it really means a lot.

  9. 16

    “JT knew I would say yes if he was to ask because I had explicitly told him so a couple months ago”

    Wouldn’t that effectively be you asking him? Why did HE have to ask YOU? Would it be our old friend patriarchy rearing its head?

    You don’t say to someone ‘If you were to ask me if I wanted to play cards, I’d say yes’. You say ‘Do you want a game of cards?’

    Anyway, congratulations to you both.

  10. 17


    You don’t say to someone ‘If you were to ask me if I wanted to play cards, I’d say yes’. You say ‘Do you want a game of cards?’

    No. Not always or even all that often. People signal their comfort with certain tasks and activities a million different ways without ever actually committing to anything.

    “I’d be up for a game of baseball.”

    “I dunno. Not really feeling takeout tonight. Was kinda in the mood to head out.”

    “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend my life with…”

    And we say things like that for a million reasons. Maybe we aren’t entirely sure of how they feel, maybe they’re not entirely in the best place right now, maybe you just want them to take the initiative.

  11. 19


    Wow what?

    In the act of publicly rejecting the religious baggage associated with love and marriage, you’ve unconsciously reinforced the patriarchal baggage associated with love and marriage.

    Haven’t we been having a discussion about that for a while now?

  12. 20

    Wow = this:

    Wouldn’t that effectively be you asking him?

    Sure, pretty much, and she clearly received an answer that translated to, “Not right now.”

    Why did HE have to ask YOU?

    Well, you don’t know that he “had to” in the sense you’re talking about, no matter how Michaelyn phrased it. Note that they didn’t get engaged then. Not surprising, given that JT had just quit his job and was sorting out a bunch of details. If and when JT was ready, however, Michaelyn felt she would be. That put the ball in JT’s court, to decide when he was ready. When he decided he was, he asked.

    Also, wow = there’s a rather large difference between interrogating the patriarchy and interrogating a couple as though they are answerable to you about how they managed their personal business of getting engaged. If they decided they liked that way of going about things despite the patriarchal origins of the tradition, it’s not really your business.

  13. 21


    Yes, “wow”. I figured what Stephanie said was so transparently obvious to just about everybody else who might read this thread that all I needed to do was express my shock that you could be so oblivious to it.

    Stephanie hit the nail on the head. But she ignored your response to me, which was just as silly as your first.

    “You reinforced religious baggage.”

    Riiiiiight. You act like the decision was made in order to cater to some tradition we obviously don’t hold (or that we’re inexplicably unaware of). Apparently it’s impossible that the behaviors of the religious and the behaviors of the godless can overlap unless we’ve also decided to swallow and support the kool-aid. Can Michaelyn also not elect to cook me dinner for fear of reinforcing the hierarchy? Hell, sometimes I sing on Sunday mornings, am I now supporting the believers?

    Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t want to merely say “yes”, but wanted to give the woman I love something to remember. For you to confuse that with undermining the equality of women is cynical even by my standards. Trust me, had Michaelyn first gone to all the trouble to make a marriage proposal hugely memorable to me, I would’ve said yes in a heartbeat. But that’s hardly any of your god damned business.

    The way you paint it, my *choice* to ask her to marry me means that we’re also enabling a culture that makes a series of *expectations* to how women behave. That is what was clearly implied by your comment, which was as ludicrous as it was self-important.

    And somehow you felt it was more important to criticize us for the way we got engaged, as if failing to do so by your standard somehow made us remiss, than congratulating us. Well, I’m sorry. We reject the patriarchy (and obviously so if you knew shit about the situation before commenting) and we reject your standards equally. We’ll run our relationship the way *we* please, thank you.

    Get a grip and rework your priorities. Learn to stop seeing enemies in every shadow. Sheesh.

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