September 2010


My Religion is sane. That other one is…

Before I get started, let me be painfully clear about a couple of things:

  1. I am an atheist, and like many atheists I’m pretty well informed when it comes to things religious, even more so than the religious.
  2. I believe that religion has done far more harm to society than to help it, however I recognize that a lot of people have a lot invested in religion so I am content to let people waste their time and money on religion as long as they don’t push their religion on me and don’t tell me how to lead my life.
  3. This post mocks some fundamental beliefs common to the Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Mormon strand of faiths, so if you’re the type who is easily offended, please move on.

I’ll note that my standard commenting policy applies to this post as to every post: I don’t delete comments unless they are spam or unless there are some exceptional extenuating circumstances that justify doing so. I’ve only deleted one comment in the past year. One. So keep that in mind if you write something that makes you look like an idiot and hit submit. It will not be deleted.

So, without further ado, here’s my story about Christianity and me.

A couple years ago I made a pilgrimage to Cincinnati and its famous Creation Museum. This is a museum put together by people who take the Bible quite literally, believing that god created earth in something like six days a mere 6,000 years ago.

Adam in the Garden of EdenI behaved pretty well at the museum, despite its insane basis and the devout belief of most visitors. My biggest sin was eating an apple in the Garden of Eden. I’m Adam: I had to eat an apple in the garden, along with my pal the dinosaur—what else was there to do?

That said, I was pretty unobtrusive—I didn’t do this in the middle of a crowd of Christians, I waited for a lull in the crowd and did it with nobody around. I also took a few photos here and there around the museum, including the one below of Noah’s Ark loading up with animals—a photo that is posted to Flickr.

Noah's Ark

As imagined by the Creation Museum.

Now in general I grant permission to people who want to use my photo, unless it seems out of place or if it promotes religion—any kind of religion. People are free to be religious but I’m not going to be an enabler who helps heroin addicts get their fix.

So this is what I told a publisher and author yesterday who contacted me asking permission to use the photograph in an illustrated Bible.

Now despite the fact that I told them that I would not give permission for my photograph to be used in order to promote religion, I did suggest that they contact the Creation Museum to see if the museum could offer up a photograph for them to use.

I fell out of my chair when I got a response from the author:

I’ll probably not go to the Creationist museum folks, though. They’d probably want me to put a dinosaur in the picture. And that’s just a tad whacked.

And an ark carrying all the entire spectrum of animal life isn’t whacked?

11 comments to My Religion is sane. That other one is…

  • … and _I_ can tolerate atheists as long as they don’t push their ‘religion’ on me and don’t tell me how to lead my life 🙂

    But you have to admit, you can fit an awful lot of DNA on an that size of an ark.

  • There was a dino at the creation museum…huh…I always wondered if they really thought that that dinosaurs walked along with humans…interesting. I guess all that scientific data showing that their bones are millions of years old is all just a load of crap. Oh well. And if Noah really was around, why the hell didn’t he kill the mosquito…or the tick. What the hell is the point of those things anyway?

  • […] do not believe in organized religion because, like TQE, I believe that religion has done far more harm to society than to help it, but […]

  • I dunno Adam, I think I’d have let the guy use that photo, as long has he has a clear photo credit with the name of your blog and a link back to yours. I mean, can you imagine seeing That Queer Expatriate mentioned in an illustrated Bible? It would have been ironic to say the least.

  • Jul

    Here I was sure this post was going to be about this recent news: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html

    Also, I was informed that god put dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith, even though dinosaurs never really existed. What kind of heathens run that museum?

  • Meh. I’m unconvinced. Is the message here that the more religious an American you are — especially if you’re not agnostic, Jewish, or Mormon, after reading the NYT article Jul linked to — the more generally ignorant you are?

    I’m pretty unwilling to draw that parallel. The prevalence of American ignorance sadly seldom fails to atound me.

  • They’re gonna need a bigger boat.

  • Reko

    While I cannot really speak to Mormonism or Islam, I can say with certainty that in 2010, a belief in a literal Great Flood occurring approximately 4,350 years ago and from which 8 people and 2 of every animal species were preserved on an ark is NOT a “fundamental belief” “common to the Jewish/Christian stands of faith”–Mainstream contemporary thought in Judaism and Christianity would view the Genesis account as a composite narrative expressing (at least two distinct generations’) attempts at wrestling with their understanding of the nature of God, humanity, sin, retribution, and redemption. In particular, a close reading of the text suggests that it is (the authors’ understanding of) God, not of humanity, that seems to be transformed. “Creation Science” is not only not science, it also has virtually nothing to do with non-fundamentalist Judaism and Christianity.

  • Hey!

    It’s almost time for the next “5 on the fifth”. You can either take 5 random pictures of something that happens to you on the 5th of October (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is ‘Round’.


  • MT – Thanks!

    Scott – There could be a lot of DNA on that ship. There’s also a Tube Sock Holocaust.

    Jentry – When you enter the museum, you see displays of children playing with dinosaurs.

    Ian – It’s for a book and I really, really do not want my name associated with anything that remotely promotes religion.

    Jul – That news story got passed to me on chat from a couple of people. I missed one question — the ten commandments question. And I guess the people running the Creation Museum are whacked in a different way.

    Cliff – that’s not at all the implication of the NYTimes article. It says that, in general, the more religious you are, the less likely you are to know much about religion (In terms of Americans living in America). It is, in fact, the American atheists who are more likely, ceteris paribus, to know the most about a wide variety of religions. Jews and Mormons, apparently, also tend to know a lot about a variety of religions and not just their own.

    This rings true based on my life experience: Once I was the only non-Christian in a room watching the Simpsons episode where Lisa raises a civilization in a petri dish and when looking through her microscope, she sees somebody nailing something to the door of a church and exclaims, “Oh my people are Lutherans!” I was the only person in the room who laughed, and I realized that I was the only person in the room who knew the history. On a similar note, I once related having met somebody who thinks he is a descendant of Martin Luther to an American, and the American wrote back, “Well, is he black?”

    We cannot extrapolate out from this study to say anything about the general ignorance levels of Americans.

    CN – I like how perfect and big the boat is, especially given the technical tools available at the theoretical time.

    Reko – Is the story about Noah’s Ark not in the bible? Isn’t it in Genesis, chapters 6-9? I’m pretty sure that the presence in the Bible, in Genesis, makes the story a foundational story common to all Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Mormon faith strands. One could argue about the particulars of when it happened, but the point is that regardless of when it happened, it’s something to be believed. There’s no evidence of it ever actually happening, despite all the people climbing all over Mount Ararat looking for it.

    At best Noah’s Ark is an amusing myth that can be retold to scare the shit out of little kids. At worst it scares people into thinking that there is a God, wrathful or not.

    Stephan – thanks for the reminder!