Your kids aren’t a “get of work free pass” when the holidays roll around



There’s a phenomenon in the workplace sometimes. Many of you who don’t have children have probably experienced it before. For some reason, every person with children automatically assumes that they’ll get the holiday off and everyone without kids can work! Which is total bullshit.

I have nothing to do with your children. They’re yours. They’re your responsibility. It is NOT my responsibility to come in and work every holiday so you can spend time with your kids, the same kids you see the other 364 days of the year.

Even though I don’t have kids, I still have a family. And sometimes they like to see me at holidays! Imagine that?! Crazy, I know.

But I am not going to sacrifice my time and my personal life because you decided to have kids. Get over it.

Some new rules moving forward



Now that I’ve started to post about religion again, I feel like I need to lay down some ground rules. First, I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings, beliefs, and values, and I will always try to respect them even if I don’t agree with them.

On that same token, since I’m included in “everyone” that means that I, too, am free to believe and value whatever I want. This blog is a means for me to share my thoughts. Sometimes they may evolve as I continue to learn and grow. But they may not. And you may not agree or like them. And that’s fine.

But I will no longer spend time on this blog arguing with people, and I will no longer spend any time on this blog justifying my views or beliefs to anyone who disagrees with them. We can disagree with each in a mutually respectful way and that will be that. You can continue on with your beliefs and views and I with mine. And that’s perfectly fine. My intention with this blog isn’t to convert people or change anyone’s mind. It’s simply to air my own thoughts and complaints.

Feel free to not read things if you feel so inclined. And if you do feel inclined to respond to something I have written feel free to do so. I will not close down comments or block people or censor things in any way. If you do choose to leave a comment, I will thoughtfully consider it and respond in some fashion. But no longer will I enter into circular arguments with people, and no longer will I try to justify to another person the way I feel. If you want to thoughtfully and respectfully question something I have written or believe, I will try to respond with equal thought and respect, so long as your intent is to genuinely try and understand me and what I’ve written better…NOT to proselytize, tell me I’m an idiot, tell me I’m wrong (unless I’ve made a factual error–in which case feel free to fact check me) or otherwise antagonize me. Such actions only serve to waste my time, your time, and the time of my readers.

Thank you. Now let’s move on.

Why should I take the bible literally?



I think this is a perfectly valid question. I can’t really think of a good reason why I should take it literally, and I haven’t been presented with a good reason by anyone else. But more importantly, plenty of other religious people haven’t and don’t. So what gives? What changed? I think looking back at history can shed some light on this phenomenon.

We can take this all the way back to the 4th century. St. Augustine of Hippo (Yes, that’s right, a freaking saint), wrote extensively about how Genesis should be considered allegorical, and that the timeline presented in the text is not a literal one, but rather a logical framework. According to Augustine, when Genesis says it took the lord six days to create the earth and the heavens, it isn’t talking about human days. It’s talking about what a day to God, an eternal being, would be. Which, according to him and many other biblical scholars, should probably be considered a reeeeeally long time (like maybe 14 billion years?). 

Moreover, Augustine was pretty progressive for his day. He believed that our interpretation of the bible should change based on available knowledge. On this subject, he wrote, in matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision … we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture. Wow. Mind you, Augustine died in 430 AD. But he goes on:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

And this was about a thousand years before the development of modern science! These quotes, by the way, are taken from Augustine’s work, “On the Literal Meaning of Genesis.” In case anyone is interested in exploring this more. But it’s pretty clear that Augustine believed that the bible was more of an allegorical guide to God–not a literal historical, scientific document. It also seems pretty clear that he believed such a belief was damaging to the faith in general. And that prediction seems to be true. As Christians increasingly reject science and fact, they alienate people. That’s probably why atheism and agnosticism are on the rise. 

And it’s hard to make the argument that Augustine was a quack, considering his works were used at the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople. Clearly, the religious who’s who of the day believed Augustine was a very learned and wise man, and his views profoundly influenced the church. And that attitude continued well into the 20th century. Take a gander at what Pope Pius XII had to say about evolution back in 1950:

The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

Here’s a wonderful scene from the film “Religulous” where Bill Maher interviews a Vatican astronomer. This scene is interspersed with a second interview with our old favorite here on this blog, Ken Ham. The comparison between Ham and a Vatican scientist is quite nice. Here’s another speech given by the same priest about the age of the universe. The views of modern science are not incompatible with the beliefs of Christians. Unless of course you take everything in the bible to be literal. The problem with that viewpoint, though, is that there literally is no reason to do so. I think Father Coyne and St. Augustine and the freakin’ Pope make that pretty clear. Hell, the Vatican employs astronomers! Let that sink it. 

So where did the fundamentalist, literal movement we see today come from? Why do people see the bible as a scientific document? Well, young earth creationists are the main proponents of this way of viewing the bible. This movement can be traced back to the work of George McCready Price. Price was not a scientist and was not an accredited geologist. Yet he felt compelled to write science-like papers about the subject in relation to genesis and evolution. It’s very crucial to note here that absolutely no science whatsoever took place here. Price did ZERO FIELD RESEARCH, no experimentation, or anything else that could remotely be considered scientific. He simply critiqued work which was already published and established that he personally did not like. 

I feel this bears repeating. In no way did Price scientifically discredit any modern science. Zero. None. Zilch. What he DID do was start with biblical suppositions and then if he encountered evidence to the contrary, simply refused to believe it. That is not science. There is nothing scientific about the way young earth creationism was born, and there’s nothing scientific about the way it exists now. Presenting it as “creation science” is completely and utterly disingenuous. 

I think there’s pretty strong evidence that the bible should NOT be taken literally. That seems to the standpoint of the majority of biblical scholars, religious historical figures, and a fair amount of the faithful every man today in the 21st century. Hell, even people in 430 AD who had no concept of the scientific process knew better than to take the bible as a literal scientific document. I’m particularly fond of this quote:

shaw-taking the bible literally

You don’t need to take the bible literally to follow the teachings in it. Even young earth creationists don’t take everything in the bible literally. If they did, I would assume people would get stoned to death for working on Sunday and that they’d be arguing that the bible justifies us bringing back slavery. But they don’t. I hope that’s because they know those two things are wrong, and not just because it isn’t looked upon favorably in our society anymore.

Regardless, the bible does contain great teachings. Loving thy neighbor, treating others how you want to be treated, turning the other cheek, the parable of the good Samaritan. All of these things, they’re all things that I, as an atheist, can get behind 100% from a philosophical sense. There are a lot of good things in the bible that shouldn’t be ignored and that everyone, regardless of faith, should probably try to incorporate into their lives. But please, stop taking the bible literally. It makes no sense. Besides, what impact could that possibly have on one’s faith? Why can’t you embrace Jesus as your lord and savior–which is the crux of the religion–and believe that God created a universe that is 14 billion years old? 

Do young earth creationists and other fundamentalists really, truly believe that if they don’t believe that the earth is 6,000 years old that God will hold it against them? Do they really, truly think that if they spend their lives having accepted Christ as their savior and lord and living according to the teachings of Jesus, that when they finally die and get to the pearly gates that St. Peter is going to say, “Ooh, sorry. If only you’d believed that man coexisted with dinosaurs. That was the most important part of the test!” and pull the lever and send them to hell? 

Come on, get real. 


Dear Christians of the world: put up or shut up


I am getting downright sick and tired of all of these “moral” arguments against abortion coming from Christians. And I’ll tell you why. 

Christians love to denigrate people who are pro-choice based on their alleged moral superiority. The fact of the matter is, though, that not everyone is capable of dealing with, say, a disabled child. Or a child at all, for that matter. So what about adoption? That’s usually a popular response from the pro-life Christian crowd. I don’t see too many people rushing out to adopt crack babies, do you guys? Okay, that’s a rather blase statement I just made, but I’ll back it up with some numbers.

UNICEF estimates that there are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets in the world. According to Pew, there are 2.18 BILLION Christians in the world. So why don’t they all step up, then? Hmm? If only ONE PERCENT of Christians actually walked the walk, every orphan in the world would have a loving, Christian home.

In 2012, 23,396 youth aged out of the U.S. foster care system without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed. There are about 130 million self-professed Christians in the US. And 23k of them couldn’t step up the plate and do the Christian thing? Seems pretty suspect to me. But we can do one better.

Every year in the world more people die from a lack of clean water than all forms of violence in the world–even war. The UN estimates that it would cost $10 billion a year to fix this problem. That’s less than what Americans spend feeding the family dog every year. It’s half of what Europeans spend annually on alcohol. The cost per year to end world hunger? $30 billion dollars. In the US alone, religious institutions dodge taxes to the tune of $71 billion annually. That’s enough to end world hunger, provide everyone with clean drinking water, and still have about $30 billion left over. So where does all that money go? Because it certainly isn’t going to actually solving any problems that are killing living children in the world right now.

And that’s what bugs me the most about these “moral” arguments. People of faith talk a good talk, but they can’t even put their money where their mouth is. It’s very easy to sit behind a bible and judge people and deliver sermons and quote scripture. But that won’t feed a hungry child. It won’t put a roof over a child’s head. So rather than lecture the world about how evil abortions are, why don’t all the Christians in the world lead by example and all adopt a child? Or end world hunger? Or give children clean drinking water? They’ll do everything they can to save a fertilized egg. But once you’ve already made it into this world? Screw you, you’re on your own! 

So next time that collection plate comes around, Christians of the world, instead of putting that dollar in the collection basket so that the Vatican can pay off another child molestation scandal or so your mega Church pastor can get caught cheating on his wife with gay prostitutes on your dime (that last thing actually happened, by the way), or even so that you can build another Our Lady of Tax Evasion chapel down the street, put your money where it will actually make a difference. Try taking that church collection money to UNICEF and do some real good in this world for a real, living, suffering child. 


You beat Ebola because of science, not God


I read in the news today that the two workers who were helping with the Ebola outbreak in Africa were cleared for release from the hospital. That’s right, these two people survived Ebola. That in itself is awesome, of course. I don’t want anyone to die the agonizing death caused by Ebola. But things that both of these people said upon their release really stuck in my craw.

Kent Brantly, the physician, said, “God saved my life.” Nancy Writebol said, “To God be the glory,” as she left the hospital. And only one thing came to my mind.

How disrespectful.

Statements and sentiments like this are ridiculous on two levels. First and foremost, God did not save you, science did. Is any rational human being really going to tell me that if these two people had stayed in Africa that they would be cured right now? No. Because if it really were all God’s work, then their location wouldn’t make any difference. What made the difference was returning to a western, first world country and receiving the best science and evidenced based care on the planet. Receiving a brand new experimental drug probably didn’t hurt either. A drug that was developed, by the way, by science–not Jesus. Give some credit where credit is due. It shouldn’t be “To God be glory,” it should be “To Medicine be glory.”

Secondly, how insulting to all the people who have already died from the Ebola outbreak. To insinuate that your survival was ordained by a supreme being suggests that those who died deserved to die in God’s eyes. For what? Why? What is so super special about these two people? They don’t think that those people in Africa who they were treating were doing the best they could do? This attitude is patronizing and condescending to the people you’re trying to help, and especially to those whose lives have already been claimed. 

At the end of the day, God had nothing to do with the survival of these two people. Clean water did. Antiseptic did. Being surrounded by trained professionals did. IV fluids did. An experimental new drug did. I’d be willing to bet that if given the same treatment in America, more of the people who died in Africa would have survived as well. So, please, let’s all stop pretending that an invisible man in the sky is deciding who lives and dies for his own reasons and acknowledge who the real heroes are: doctors and scientists.



The work experience conundrum



This pretty much perfectly encapsulates the job market for a new grad. When I graduated college the first time, it was at the very beginning of the ’08 recession. The market was literally flooded with overqualified applicants, so it didn’t really bother me that I didn’t get much attention from the places at which I applied. Well, I mean, it did bother me, but at least I understood why I wasn’t getting anywhere. 

Flash forward to the present. People who regularly follow this blog know that I am again a new grad, this time with a degree in nursing. We’re no longer in a recession; the economy has been experiencing growth for awhile now. And with the projected shortage in nursing that’s coming up coupled with the retirement of the baby boomers, all I’ve ever been told is that nursing will be the most in demand field for next 20 years or so. 

Well you could have fooled me. 

I’m still plagued by this whole ‘experience’ bullshit. How exactly is a new grad supposed to get work when even the most basic of nursing jobs requires 2-5 years experience? Do these places not realize how ridiculous that is? Sure, there are new grad residency programs in a lot of hospital systems, but you’ll typically get thousands of people competing for literally probably 20 positions total. That’s not exactly an efficient system. 

And the stupidest part of this is that places do indeed need nurses like crazy. I can comb, Craigslist, or the employment section of any professional nursing organization and there are listings and openings up the wazoo…if you already have 5 years of field experience. Let’s look at an example, shall we? This is a real life job listing for a part-time telephone advice nurse. Now let’s take a look at the qualifications. These are the MINIMUM qualifications:

  • Current, unencumbered Oregon RN license
  • Current unencumbered Washington RN license or must obtain within 6 months of hire
  • Must obtain other required nursing state licensures within 6 months
  • Minimum 3 years acute care nursing experience as an RN

Right off the bat, I need to have a minimum of 3 years acute care experience to work in an outpatient clinic. Part time. Doing nothing but talking to people on the phone. Do you know how much assessment you do over the phone in acute care? A BIG FUCKING ZERO. So why is this a requirement? And I also have to be dual licensed in two states, which is easy, but it isn’t cheap. But that’s not even the best part! Here are the “preferred” qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing
  • Five years nursing experience as an RN
  • Ambulatory Nursing Certification

I do happen to have a Bachelor’s in nursing. But FIVE YEARS experience as an RN. And certification as an ambulatory nurse? That’s a looooot of time and work for a part time telephone advice job. How would I know this? Because I spent a six month practicum at a primary care clinic, probably not at all dissimilar to the one in this job posting, and one of my duties was phone triage. And would you like to know what the job entails?

Reading from a binder. 

That’s right. The RN at the end of that telephone isn’t using years and years of vast experience and knowledge to from-the-hip triage the people who call in. They’re reading straight out of a decision tree developed as part of a clinical triage protocol. There are protocols and decision trees for pregnant women, pediatrics, adults, geriatrics–you name it and there’s a clinical triage tree for it. All one has to do is ask the questions and follow the tree and you either a) give the client the home care advice at the bottom of the page, b) schedule an appointment for them with their provider, or c) tell them to go to the ER or an urgent care. 

Someone with limited to no medical training could probably do this job. Yet I need to have 3-5 years experience, possess TWO licenses, AND be a certified ambulatory nurse? Give me a fucking break. And this is but one job posting. There are countless others similar to this. And I honestly do not get it. I’m not looking for supervisory or managerial positions. I’m not looking to do something highly specialized, like oncology (it takes literally years to get cleared to work with chemotherapy drugs) or helicopter flight nursing. Just a basic, entry level job. I’m fine starting at the bottom of the ladder. I get that. I’m cool with that. But there literally is no more bottom rung of the ladder. 

It’s like someone took all of the rungs off the ladder except for the top one, so no matter how high I jump I’ll never reach it. Why? That’s what’s bugging me most. I went through an entire program specifically designed to make it so that I could provide basic nursing care in any setting. I passed an exam that certifies I would practice safely in any setting, and that I have the clinical judgment and critical thinking necessary to do these jobs. So what gives? 

Quite simply, in the 21st century, employers aren’t interested in investing in their employees anymore. That’s the only thing I can think of. Money. When someone leaves a position or retires, companies would rather clone that person than take the time and money to help train a new employee. Rather than take someone who has the foundations to be a good employee, companies just want to skip all of that time and money and find someone who is a carbon copy of the old employee, experience and skills included. Which is a really shitty business model, because it only allows from horizontal hiring. Eventually they’ll have to hire a new grad. But until then, anyone who just graduated can expect the same stonewall over and over again: