There Are No Foxes in Atheist Holes

I read an absolutely fascinating and terrifically-written article today:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/28/my-faith-what-people-talk-about-before-they-die/

First of all, this lady is my new favorite chaplain.  To be fair, I didn’t have a favorite chaplain before this, just a favorite Chaplin.  But now I have a favorite chaplain, and it’s her.  Her absolute compassion and humanity shine through in this article, and I truly wish that more people were this thoughtful about their faith.  But aside from the inspiration I drew from the article, I also reflected on a most-likely-unintentional point that Ms. Egan (if there’s a more proper title for a chaplain, feel free to inform me) made here.

One popular fallback of the self-righteously religious is the oft-heard phrase, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

Before going on, I’d like to direct everyone to http://militaryatheists.org/, where you can learn all about the many, many atheists serving in our military.

This phrase is always invoked to get the stubborn atheist-on-the-street to realize that, in the direst circumstances, they’ll figure out that they really believed in a god all along.  The general myth seems to be that in our last moments, everyone abandons the convictions they held in life (no matter how important they were) and embraces Jesus.  I say Jesus, because I’ve never once heard this tripe from a non-Christian (which may just have to do with my geographic location).  So what I find amazing about Ms. Egan’s experience is that it not only shatters the myth of the repentant atheist, it turns the myth on its head and makes it do a little dance.  We don’t have any images of atheists breaking down in tears and realizing that they’ve wasted so much of their life fighting the inevitable acceptance of a personal lord and savior.  Instead, we find a much different narrative: the faithful on their deathbeds looking to the earthly and very tangible loves that they’ll be leaving behind.

I think it’s truly beautiful how Egan ties this narrative in to her idea of a god, and I completely respect her faith.  And one of the reasons I respect it so much is that it makes her god very real, in the way that matters most.  She doesn’t care if everyone shares the exact same ideas she does, nor does she seem to care if we all interpret a very old book the same way she does.  Instead, she finds her god in the common experience of love and human bonding that we all share.

And I don’t have any problem with that god.

Up next: Dolphins, friend or foe?  Tonight at 11.

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How to make technology work for you

You know, people often ask me how I got to be such a huge geek when it comes to computers and technology in general.  I guess everyone assumes that I’ve done a lot of research, taken a lot of classes, or that I’m just gifted with an innate genius (and handsomeness).  And I’m sure they’re right about that last one.  But that has nothing to do with why I’m able to make machines do what I want.

It’s all about attitude.

First, you need to talk to your machines.  Now, most people are under the impression that sweet-talking is the way to go here.  Treat the machines nicely.  Stroke them, feed them, tell them how good they are and how much you appreciate their efforts.  Then, when they don’t do what you want, you throw things, curse, beat your fist against your breast, and rage to the heavens.  But this couldn’t be further from the right approach.  All you’re doing is showing weakness.  They’ll capitalize on that, and use it against you.

But don’t fret.  I’ll show you how to take back your power.

When I get/build a new technological marvel, be it a battery-operated wall clock or a high-performance computer, I talk to it even before turning it on.  I explain to it in no uncertain terms that I am a human, while it is merely a machine.  A construct of humans.  Made to do our bidding.  I am not simply superior.  Nay, I am its lord and master, to whom tribute and worship is due.  I am as a god to this simple being, and it will please me, or suffer the consequences.  It’s that simple.  It helps to already have a narcissism that borders on a god complex.

Now, like every deity, I have to deal with my heretics.  Otherwise, they start to bring the whole population out of line.  Example: my printer started making a strange noise the other night.  So I picked it up, set it down gently on the floor, and I shot it.  I probably could have found out what the problem was and tried to fix it.  But I already knew what the problem was.  The problem was a lack of undying devotion to me.  I left the printer on the floor so that all the apartment could see it.  And it did the trick.  My microwave has been getting things cooked even faster, and the fridge starts shaking when I get near it.

Technology was created to serve us.  Unless we want a Matrix on our hands (and I don’t, because that means we’d have to deal with the crappy sequels), we need to make our technology serve us as it should.  In abject fear.

Hey, it worked for Jehovah.