Holidays, Miracles, and Describing God as a Non-Theist

I think I deserve to be at this table

I think I deserve to be at this table

Author’s note: This post is probably about two weeks later than it should have been.  It took me a little while to get to write it.  What can I say?  I’m a busy man.  In the article, I mention God a lot, and when I use pronouns to describe that particular deity, I capitalize them.  Please don’t have a cow over it, it’s what I’m used to and I think it helps make the pronouns distinct from others.

Passover is, without a doubt, my favorite Jewish Holiday.  Well… let’s clarify that.  Since I started keeping Kosher to feel a cultural connection to the only roots I really have, the first two days of Passover are my favorite Jewish Holiday, the lack of beer in the following six days is annoying.  But going back to the original point, Passover is my favorite Jewish Holiday, bar none.  Chanukah, to be frank, is a bit of a bullshit holiday.  It’s only gotten as big as it has due to its proximity to Christmas.  There are interesting things about it, what most people don’t know is that it’s actually the celebration of a military victory, the Maccabees over the remnants of the Greek Empire in the second or first century BCE, but because Jews didn’t like celebrating a military victory, we decided to go for oil burning longer than it was supposed to.  The big Jewish gift giving/party holiday is Purim, but my family never celebrated that.  Rosh Hashanah was never a big family affair for us.  It was a day when we’d go to Shul, listen to Torah and the Shofar (big smelly rams horn hollowed out into a crude brass instrument – well, it’s not brass, but it is played the same way).  Sometimes, we’d get together with another family afterward, but it was never the affair that Passover is.  And Yom Kipor?  The whole holiday I spend waiting for the holiday to be over, and though I do generally enjoy the meal that follows, I don’t think I can give Yom Kipor the credit that as soon as the day is done I have a good time.  Passover, on the other hand, is pretty fun.  It’s like a big Jewish Thanksgiving.  It’s a ceremonial meal where you sit around, get tipsy, tell a big story, and then have a good dinner.  You ask me, it’s everything a holiday should be. … continue reading this entry.

The Temptation of Misrepresenting the Past

Old_books_-_Stories_From_The_PastAs some of you may have seen, one of Lisa’s posts and one of mine have been nominated for inclusion into The Young Australian Skeptics Blog Anthology. I’d like to congratulate my fellow nominee, and say I’m very happy the two of us got noticed. I’ve been a writer for a while, but I’ve never been published in a real like… Book, so this is pretty cool. I’m really happy about it, and I imagine Lisa is too.  The closest I’ve ever come to this is when, instead of writing his own article about Elliott Spitzer, a Boston Globe reporter decided to quote mine. There’s only one slight caveat… I’m not crazy about the article that’s been chosen. … continue reading this entry.

A Skeptic Gets Squeamish


Photo from NASA

Yes ladies and gentleman, it’s that that we all love, time for Jake to dazzle you all with an anecdote where something uncomfortable happens to me and I do my best to twist it into something more universal about all us skeptics in general.  Admit it, you’re excited. … continue reading this entry.

One more on the relationship between atheism and skepticism

I’d like to make a few comments on Jake Dickerman’s piece about Michael De Dora’s recent talk concerning the relationship between skepticism and atheism. (A fuller version of my thinking on this topic can be found at Rationally Speaking). … continue reading this entry.

Why Skeptics Should be Atheists

Enrapt audience at SkeptiCamp2009 (photo by Mitch Lampert)

Enrapt audience at SkeptiCamp2009 (photo by Mitch Lampert)

Editor’s note: this is a rebuttal to The Quixotic Man, about De Dora’s talk, “Skepticism Includes Atheism (So Deal With It),” at SkeptiCamp NYC 2009. TQM’s post can be found here.

Jacob, it was nice meeting you at SkeptiCamp NYC 2009, and thanks for inviting me to join this back-and-forth about skepticism and atheism. We  seem to agree on at least one thing, that the conversation is worth having. I tend to think we agree on more than just that, and that some of your “disagreements” with me, outlined in your post Monday, are actually due to poor communication work. I suppose the following will tell us if I’m correct. (On the topic of communication, I’d like to quickly thank Scott Stafiej, Michael Rosch, and Julia Galef for clearing up some of what I meant in their responses to your post. They did such a wonderful job I urge everyone to read their comments, because I can’t cover everything even in a 2,000-word essay).

Skepticism Includes Atheism (So Deal With It)

Let me briefly provide some background on my talk. … continue reading this entry.

Why Skeptics Don’t Have to be Atheists


Michael De Dora speaks about atheism and skepticism at Skepticamp NYC 2009.

[You can read Michael De Dora's response to this post here, and an additonal commentary by Massimo Pigliucci here.]

A disclaimer.

It is Sunday Night.  I have just returned home from Skepticamp NYC.  It’s been a long day, I may not be thinking my best, and right now I’m getting ready to piss off… I dunno, maybe half of you.  Joy of joys.  Let me go back a step.  Right before we broke for lunch today, Michael De Dora Jr. gave a talk he called “Skepticism Includes Atheism (So Deal With It).”  After the talk, I pulled Michael aside.  “Hey Mike,” I said.  “I’ve been writing for the Gotham Skeptic and, well I’m like the only person still writing two pieces a week (okay, sometimes Page does too…), and I’m really trying to find a way to only write one this week.  So I’m going to write up why I think you’re totally wrong, and if you want, you can have my Thursday spot to refute everything I say.”  He agreed.

I’m an idiot.  I should have just found a way to turn some skeptical story into a dick joke.  Oy.

This is always true, but sometimes, like right now, I feel it should be stated loud and clear.  The views expressed here represent only me, Jake Dickerman.  They are not representative of everyone who writes on the Gotham Skeptic or the NYC Skeptics in general.

Why Skeptics Don’t Have to be Atheists … continue reading this entry.

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