Archive | December, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Skeplings

29 Dec

Greetings and welcome to the new-and-improved Cupcake Atheist.  We are very excited about our new home here at wordpress and about the total redesign.  It is much, much more cupcakey thanks to my designer who took the time to spice up this blog even while smack in the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle.  Please feel free to say howdy in the comments section and to subscribe to follow this blog via email.

For my first blog post in our new home, I must brag a bit.  My little boy is a thinker.  My husband and I are both atheists, but his grandparents are super religious.  I’ve had a couple tense conversations with the grans about boundaries in terms of sharing their faith.  In my view, any sharing at all is completely inappropriate knowing that my husband and I are openly atheist and anti-theist.  Well, apparently all of the boundary discussions were totally unecessary.  My little guy can handle things just fine himself.

My husband and I celebrate winter solstice, but lest we be left out of the family festivities we accompanied the grans to a gathering on xmas eve.  They were worried about making it back home in time to attend a church service that evening.  As we were leaving the gathering and getting buckled in the car, I (out of politeness) asked if they thought they would make it back in time for church.  My son piped up then, and this is the conversation that followed:

Boy child: You want to go to church?  Why?  To learn about god?

Granna:  Yes.

Boy child: But god isn’t real.

Granna:  He is real to some people.

Boy child:  Have you ever SEEN god?

Granna:  I see god all around me.

Boy child:  [more persistent this time] But god isn’t REAL!

At this point, I interjected and gently let my son know that he had made his point.  But silently, I was bursting with pride.  Here is the kicker, though.  I wasn’t necessarily proud of my son’s insistence that god isn’t real.  He gets that from listening to my husband and myself. He was simply regurgitating what he hears us say in the same way a child being brought up in a religious household would say the opposite.  What made me the most proud was the way he questioned what he was being told.  “Have you ever seen god?”  Beautiful.  Without really understanding the importance of what he was doing, my little almost-four-year-old was exercising critical thinking.  He was asking for a bit of evidence.  This was preschooler skepticism in action.

I was equally satisfied with my mother’s responses.  They just served to reinforce my impression that religious people don’t understand why it is they believe what they believe.  Let’s break it down, shall we?  “He is real to some people.”  Um, no.  God is either real or not.  God either exists or not.  God cannot be real to some people and not to others.  I think what she was trying to say is that some people believe in god and some don’t, which is true.  But still, that doesn’t say anything about the plausibility of god’s existence, only that some people buy it and some don’t.  Next: “I see god all around me.”  Again, nope.  People see nature all around them and they don’t understand how it all works.  Instead of turning to science or skeptical inquiry to help them make sense of things, religious people fill in the gaps of their knowledge with a deity.

When we were safely back home and the grans were on their way to sing hosannas, I grabbed my little skepling, looked him in the eyes and told him how proud I was of all his questions.  I told him he has a good brain.  I never want him to be atheist just because his father and I are atheist.  I want him to think through things and arrive at conclusions based on facts, evidence and reason.  As he grows, I expect that his questions will become even more insightful.  Whatever the future holds, I am one proud mommy.





Battle Formations

21 Dec

This is supposed to be an atheist / food blog, RIGHT???  These candy mice make a stunning presentation and are totally fun to make:

Candy Mice

Candy Mice

My legion of atheist mice are ready for the War on Xmas (kidding)

  • 1 package slivered almonds
  • 1 bag of Hershey’s chocolate kisses
  • 2 jars of maraschino cherries with stems
  • Chocolate bark
  • Red gel icing.

Place wax paper over a baking sheet.  In a microwave-safe dish, melt the chocolate bark in the microwave until just soft.  Do not overheat.

Dip one cherry at a time in the melted chocolate, being sure not to pull off the stem.  Place the chocolate-covered cherry on the wax paper with the stem pointing up and afix a Hershey’s chocolate kiss to the front before the chocolate sets.

Give the candy mouse two almond slivers for ears and use the red gel icing to make eyes.  Repeat until you have used up all the cherries and then eat the remainder of the bag of kisses (that last part is optional).

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Reality Needs No Season

13 Dec

When I came out as an atheist a little over a year ago, one of my first “out” acts was to post this video to my Facebook profile.  As a response to all of the “Keep the Christ in Christmas” and “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” proclamations, I acknowledged that it may be difficult for believers to grasp what joy a nonbeliever can possibly derive from the holiday season.  The wonder and joy, however, is that the reality of nature is awesome.  And reality needs no season.  I am in a constant state of wonder at the world around me, and ever more curious about what makes it so.  Thanks to science we have ways of attempting to understand our existence and our surroundings that don’t include just making shit up.

As a former christian, I can only shake my head at the rabid, angry response by many believers in the face of the perceived secularization of christmas.  I honestly think one solid history lesson about world religions and the evolution of winter celebrations since ancient times would put many on the path to less mouth-foaming, nativity-bumper-sticker-sporting, and general denying of every other culture and belief system not their very own.  Hell, a brief overview would probably do.  Twenty minutes tops.  But alas, time and again I’ve observed that beliefs not based in reason are difficult to reason away.

Last year at this same time, someone at work wished me a merry christmas to which I responded in my sweetest, cupcakiest way “happy holidays.”  She looked confused for a moment and then said, “Oh, I don’t even know what to say anymore.”  Why oh why is this so difficult?  Not everyone buys your kookie, god-baby birthday story.  What I consider standard politeness many believers feel constitutes a personal attack.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve read the phrase “war on christmas” in the media this year and its not even the winter solstice yet (did you see how I snuck solstice in there?).  For my part, I’ve resolved to continue my cupcakey efforts and to not be a dick.  But I don’t think there is anything dickish about wishing someone happy holidays.

So, what DO atheists have to celebrate?  Reality.

Watch this video.  It features some of the greatest communicators in science today.

Feel free to leave comments about your winter experiences.  How do you celebrate?

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