Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Don't Panic (about Trump)

Miracle Girl: Don't Panic (about Trump)

It's scary to see the underbelly of hate that was lying dormant before Trump began stirring it up. But there's a greater population that the Donald is stirring up. And unless the Republican Party changes course, the growing Hispanic population added to the changing beliefs of society will doom the GOP the way Prop 187 did in California.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Message from a Time Before Creation

Miracle Girl: Message from a Time Before Creation

170, 500 years ago in Bruniquel Cave in SW France, Neanderthals built rings made of stacked stalagmite, which had been deliberately broken. Why?

The discoverers can only guess. But it took several people to do the work, likely supervised by another. Was it for ritual purpose? Perhaps further excavation will reveal further clues.

But the fact remains that this complex behavior happened 164,500 years before the universe was created, according to creationists.

That's a dumb as Neanderthals were once thought to be.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

He opened the rock and...something flowed out

Miracle Girl: He opened the rock and...something flowed out

That substance also poured forth from the creationist commenters in my Secular Spectrum post, Holy Moses.

My secular upbringing prevents me from truly understanding the religious mindset. That means in many cases, my readers know more about the subject than I ever could.

How did you swallow religion when you were a believer?

Monday, May 23, 2016

So Always Look on the Bright Side of Death

Miracle Girl: So Always Look on the Bright Side of Death

Monty Python's Life of Brian is one of my favorite films. I can't count how many times I've seen the movie. It seems unlikely that it could've been made today, so we have the pre-Moral Majority times it came out in to thank for its release. Not that it wasn't a subject for protests, of course.

But I digress. My second Miracle Girl post is really about how life is indeed a piece of shit, when you think of it, as Eric Idle sang on the cross.

Yet atheists don't wonder why God put that shit in front of their shoe. And when a door closes, they don't wait for God to open a window. They do it for themselves.

And so have I, as I've coped with my illnesses in the last few years. Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Miracle, My Ass!

Miracle Girl: Miracle, My Ass!

I have laid out all the reasons why my recovery wasn't a miracle in Coma Chameleon. Yet all the logical and scientific arguments fall on deaf ears with theists. They continue to believe God saved this long-time atheist's life. It's not about logic or evidence; that's why they call it faith.

But I say...miracle, my ass!

Hey kids (okay, maybe not kids), check out my new Patheos Atheist blog Miracle Girl. It's guaranteed lower in calories than Miracle Whip, and it's a lot funnier too! But wait, there's more! You can now follow Miracle Girl on Facebook absolutely free!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Which Came First, the Science or the Atheism?

The Secular Spectrum: Which Came First, the Science or the Atheism?

Surely scientists--especially in the natural sciences--couldn't help but let go of the idea of supernatural agency in the creation of physical or biological forces. Where does God fit into it when the process of adaptation and speciation seems to run just fine on its own? To me, it seems obvious, but of course I'm biased.

So are most of the studies I found online while researching the subject. I felt I needed to add more detail to my coverage of studies of the religious beliefs of scientists in my SecSpec post, Unnatural Selection.

Though I found more studies that seemed to find what I expected, they all seemed to have been conducted by partisans themselves.

I'd love to read a dispassionate study that breaks religious beliefs down by scientific specialty, because the one thing that is clear is that when it comes to belief in God, all scientific disciplines are not the same.

Is it a coincidence that the handful of contemporary creationist scientists the Ken Hams of the world trot out are all in such fields as chemistry?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Coming to a newsstand (or mailbox) near you

The cover of the issue where my first Free Inquiry essay was published. It was appropriate for someone who was called "funny, profane and adamantly atheistic" by the Washington Post.
Free Inquiry has been been berry berry gooood to me! (Perhaps I'm dating myself with a reference to that old Saturday Night Live catch phrase. That bit is also kind of racist, making fun of Latin American accents, but, hey, I didn't create that sketch!)

Anyway, it's gotten so that when I submitted my latest essay to them, I expected that they would accept it for publication. I would've been crushed if they had rejected it, but my assumption proved correct, fortunately.

"Saving My Life by Saving My Soul?" shares the title of a Coma Chameleon blog on the same subject. It tells the tale of the mendacious minister at the hospital, who made the situation around my apparent death bed more stressful for my secular loved ones.

The essay also talks about the very first time someone implied that my recovery was a miracle. That was the priest in my Catholic nursing home, All Saints. He took one look at me after my awakening and said, "God is good."

I've written about these stories both in Coma Chameleon and in the Secular Spectrum. The essay is a synthesis of what I've written in both blogs. It's slated for the October/November issue of Free Inquiry. My first essay, "Without a Prayer of a Chance," also appeared in their October/November issue, in 2015. The publication of the new essay will therefore make a fitting anniversary celebration for my secularist writing career. Though I'll always hold a special place in my heart for the first work I published for secularists, the Skeptical Inquirer article, "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience."

I guess you can say that my coma-related experiences have been berry berry gooood to my writing career, too!

Here are the Coma Chameleon posts on the aforementioned stories: All Saints; one "none"Saving my life by saving my soul?God say me eat COOKIE. And here are the SecSpec posts: "God is Good," But for What?Isn't There Something in the Bible About Lying?The Chaplain's Cat Logic; A Little Birdie Told Me to Do It.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Rock and stroll

Tumblrs: Vasquez Rocks

One of the most challenging places we hike is Vasquez Rock. It's also one of the most visually stunning. Indeed, it has been a backdrop to countless TV shows, movies, and commercials. And next time we go, I'll be a bit more sure footed because of the hiking boots Keith bought me for my birthday.

But I still managed pretty well with my athletic shoes--with an occasional small slide in slippery sections--during our hike on April 24. (We skipped the hike this past Sunday to attend a charity event.)

Except for the flights of stairs I climbed (I avoided the elevator for the exercise) and the steep steps to
our stadium seats, the loong event was only a workout for my butt. Still, we more than made up for it on our typically strenuous hike at Vasquez Rocks.

But it was a far cry from the first time I left the rollator behind and tried out my hiking sticks there. The terrain which seemed so difficult for me then feels like an easy stroll now.

Just as I could barely imagine hiking the rough interior of the park, I can scarcely picture what I'll be able to scale next year, after another year of rehab and recovery. Plus, more appropriate footwear for what can now be properly termed a hike.

We'll be back to hiking next Sunday (we're taking our moms out to dinner on Friday to avoid the crowds). And I don't want to miss another hike. I didn't get where I am in my recovery by sitting on my butt.

Well, except when sitting down seemed to be the easiest way down a steep, natural stone step.

Some easier past walks through Vasquez Rocks, though they didn't seem like it at the time.

Walking in view of the monolithic outcropping I've nicknamed Gorn Rock in March of 2014.

Leaving my walker behind amidst the wildflowers in March of 2015. (Yes, I wound up wearing the same dress, but note the smaller rollator in the background,)

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.