I will never learn to live in God

no god

I don’t believe in the supernatural.  The natural is fantastical enough without needing some anthropomorphic figure that controls all forces of nature and also justice.  The more I see of humanity and nature, the less I believe that such a figure is likely, and such a figure could not be contained in the ancient edicts of scripture and clergy. It is not that I am rebellious or angry. It’s that I can no longer be illusioned.

To not believe and live in Norway is a lot different than to be in the same theological position and happen to live in West Virginia.  I no longer do, of course, but when I did live there, I felt that I always had to keep my mouth shut.

I no longer feel so constrained. I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God or the Devil.  I came to this conclusion in my 20s, though by the time I was 16, my own version of Christianity had a deist divinity and the Christ figure was but a metaphor.

I never was “born again,” but when I was younger I pretended that I was. Maybe, it was all like make-believe in the literal sense of the two words. Maybe if I just made myself believe it would all work out.

I knew things were going to be strange when I was the only student in my tenth grade biology class who believed that humans resulted from evolution. Most of my classmates either believed in creationism, but the more enlightened ones had some belief that all other organisms evolved. Humans did not. Humans were still a special creation of God.

Christianity and I were never good fits. I remember getting in trouble for praising God for my new pet duck when the pastor asked for praises at the beginning of worship service. I was told that this was not something one praised, but when you’re in the first grade and crazy about animals, there couldn’t be anything to be happier about, right?

My parents were uncomfortable with me leaving my dinosaur figurines behind the rear glass of their car.  They were okay with evolution. We even went to a church that was okay with evolution in terms of doctrine, but lots of people who went to that church were not okay with it.  Some of them may have doubted whether dinosaurs existed at all  and would think that my parents were doing me a great disservice.

I tried really hard to be a Christian and remain curious and skeptical about the world. I found that I could not reconcile the things I found out about nature with the cosmos as described in the Bible.

Further, I came to resent Christians’ hateful obsession with homosexuality. Though I am hetero and cis, I realize that both these things are not of my own choosing. I don’t remember when I chose to be into girls or why I am okay with being stinky old man. I had an epiphany in the eight grade that whatever God I worshiped could not damn people for their sexuality. That would be like damning someone for the color of their skin.

I spent my adolescence trying to reconcile my values and knowledge with Christianity. I wound up discarding lots of Christian doctrine. And then I realized that I should discard the whole thing.

Finding values based in secular morality has not been tough for me. However, realizing that others could not see that their own morality was ultimately secular– they wouldn’t kill  or rape someone because God told them to– was one of the hardest things to deal with.

At one point in my life I was active in the Democratic Party. As an undergraduate I campaigned hard for John Kerry. I had been told that West Virginia was in play, and that I should be doing all I could to get people to vote Democrat.

It turned out that West Virginia had undergone a political sea change in the years in which I was maturing into a young activist. For most of my childhood, no one would admit to being a Republican for fear that you’d be cast in league with Herbert Hoover, the great villain of the 1930s.  But in those years in which I was becoming an adult, the state shifted hard to the right. Fundamentalist Christianity and a dying coal industry were working hard among the rural populace.

I attended college with many kids who were first generation college students. I was aghast at the Iraq War, and many of them were too.

However, when I asked them to vote Democrat, they would say something like “Bush is a Christian.”  I got that answer so often that I wondered if there would ever be any hope for humanity if people could use that religious identification as a justification for political choices.

I was growing more and more skeptical about the world.  And I realized at one point that I needed to let it go.

And I was a quiet atheist for several years, but one day, while perusing the new Youtube on my laptop, I came across Kent Hovind’s lecture “Dinosaurs and the Bible.” The man was an obvious huckster, a true flimflam man from the days patent medicine, who also sold his own patent medicine in the form of laetrile, a supposed cancer cure that is actually the cyanide in the seeds of fruit-bearing plants.

When I finished watching that monstrosity, I was certain that I could never be brought into believing again. I would have to hide my atheism, but at some point, I did become more public with it.

I am not ashamed that I don’t believe in God and that I never will again. As time marches on, my nation is becoming more and more secular, just like the other formerly majority protestant countries in Europe.  It has just taken the US a lot longer.

The fact that so much of Christianity is now tied up in the worship of Trump pretty much means the eventual downfall of the institution in the United States. His are the politics of the old and angry, stilling holding onto a world that will never exist again.

I will never learn to live in God. I will instead learn to live with the reality that my time is finite. In that finite existence, I must be who I want to be and nothing else. If this is offensive, then you stand to be offended. But I will not hide what I am and what I seek to be.

Someday, I will cease to exist. The same goes for the oak tree that grows tall on a distant ridge. Its acorns feed the deer, the squirrels, the turkeys, and bears. It will live through many generations of its beneficiaries then on some windy day in March, the great wooden edifice will come crashing down. It will decompose into the leaf litter, restoring its elements to the soil from whence it came.

I am no more significant in the grand scheme than an oak or the squirrels that bury its acorns. We are all biotic beings, produced through the great story of evolution.

Who could need anything else? Why invoke some supernatural thing, when the natural explanation is so wondrous and so complete?

And that’s where I fall on that great question. I wager this, because I cannot live in the unlikely wager that the Bible is correct, when it is wrong about so many fundamental things. Not just wrong about biology or cosmology but wrong about moral questions too. Slavery is not condemned in the Bible nor is genocide. Indeed, both are commanded at  various books.

So this is where I stand. A heathen but an intellectually honest one.

 

 

 

Natural History

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Our Weekend-Only Giveaway!

This weekend we’re running a special weekend-only giveaway, in honor of Memorial Day! Win a FUREVER YOURS engraved bracelet stack, perfect for honoring your pets, whether they live at your side…



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Friday Funny: You’ve Got Some Explaining To Do

Enjoy your cookout this weekend, and make sure you share at least a little something with your dog! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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A Fun End-of-School-Year Interview for Kids

A Fun End-of-School-Year Interview for Kids
A Fun Start of School Year Interview For Kids

For the last couple of years, I’ve been using a list of questions I put together for my now 5 year-old-daughter to ask her on the first and last day of school. When I initially shared it here, it received a lot of traffic and was pinned quite a bit on Pinterest, so I’ve shared it every first and last day since.

Some of my daughter’s responses on this school year’s first day were the same as her last day (which was last week; kindergarten here we come!), and some changed quite a bit. It’s endearing and bittersweet to see her growth just through her answers to the questions. 

(I’m putting her previous answers from the first day of this school year in italics.)

1. What is your name? Essley. Essley.
2. What grade are you in? I just graduated from Pre-K! Pre-K.
3. How old are you? 5. 4-1/2.
4. What is your favorite color? Pink and purple. Pink.
5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Play in the kitchen. Play with my friends. And learn how to not be bad. (No comment on that one.)
6. What is your favorite activity outside of school?
Acting, ballet, jazz, tap, soccer, and swimming.  Tap, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, theatre, and swimming lessons.  
7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dance teacher, a horticulturist, and an acting teacher. A dance teacher and an artist.
8. What is your favorite food? Tacos. Strawberries.
9. How old is your mommy? 24. (I wish!) Old.
10. What is her job? Blog poster. She works a lot on blog posts.
11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Tacos. Indian food and a lot of smoothies.
12. How old is your daddy? 58 (hahahahhahaha!). Old. I think 20.
13. What is his job? Stage Manager. Stage Manager.
14. What is daddy’s favorite food? Tacos. Kabobs. He likes cheeseburgers.
15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Play with us. Work. (Yikes.)
16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? A baby brother and his name is Emmett. Emmett. Sometimes I call him Crispy.
17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 3. 2.
18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Tacos. Mac and cheese. Also olives.
19. What is your favorite toy? Rosie and Owly. Rosie (doll) and Owly (her favorite owl toy since she was a baby).
20. Where do you live? Chicago area. Somewhere by Chicago.
21. What is your favorite thing to do? Play. Play with my mommy.  
22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The Fun Play Place. The candy store.
23. Who is your best friend? Emmett. Mommy and ….. (an endless lists of friends; too many to type.)
24. What is your favorite animal? Elephant. Tiger.
25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? A unicorn. A bunny for a pet.

And because my little man is finally old enough to answer the questions as well, I’m sharing his. He has grown tremendously this year, and was so excited to answer my questions like his big sissy. (He was nowhere near ready to do the interview on his first day, and was also terrified of school. He went from weeping at drop off to only being sad on the days he didn’t have school. So proud of this guy!)

A Fun End-of-School-Year Interview for Kids


1. What is your name? Emmett
2. What grade are you in? Preschool.
3. How old are you? 3
4. What is your favorite color? Blue.
5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Play.
6. What is your favorite activity outside of school? Sports class.
7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dinosaur and a farmer.
8. What is your favorite food? Mac and cheese.
9. How old is your mommy? 11.
10. What is her job? Kiss.
11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Mac and cheese.
12. How old is your daddy? 48.
13. What is his job? Kiss.
14. What is daddy’s favorite food? Mac and cheese.
15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Play.
16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? Essley.
17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 4 (she’s actually 5).
18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Tacos.
19. What is your favorite toy? Grover.
20. Where do you live? Chicago.
21. What is your favorite thing to do? Run.
22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The Fun Play Place.
23. Who is your best friend? Tucker and Millie and Olivia.
24. What is your favorite animal? Pig.
25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? Go to Mully’s house.

If any of you use these question to interview your preschoolers or grade schoolers, I’d love to hear some of their replies! Oh, and we purchased the chalkboard signs we used for our photos from this awesome Etsy shop.

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Review: Pug Life All-In-One™ No Pull Dog Harness

We love nothing better than to take Barli and Tiki with us on errands and day trips–and the number one rule on any trip is that the dogs need to stay safely with us. I love the assurance of a…



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Magicicada in Ohio

The 17-year-cicadas (Magicicada) are coming out this year in this part of Ohio, as well as the Northern Panhandle of WV and parts of Western PA.  They emerged last night on our lawn and began their adult form on our silver maples.

(All photos by Jenna Coleman).

magicicada 2019

The discarded exoskeleton of the Magicicada nymph:

magicicade nymph husk

An adult one is bursting through its nymph exoskeleton.

bursting throuhg the exoskeleton

The adult exoskeleton is pasty and takes a few hours to harden into black.

pasty exoskeleton magicicada

hardened into black

Our maples are covered with discarded nymph exoskeletons, drying adults, and adults that are almost ready to start whirring in the trees.

maples coavered

The adult form is so oddly ugly that it is beautiful.

magiicada

magicada 2

magicciada 3

These cicadas have a life-cycle based upon brood. They spend 17 years underground. When that time comes in late May, they climb up out of the ground and begin mating and laying eggs. Their will be whirring loudly from the trees in a couple of days, and by the end of June, you won’t see a single one. This reproductive strategy is meant to overwhelm their many predators with so many easy targets that more than a few will manage to reproduce.

This blog covered another Magicicada outbreak in 2017, but that was a different brood. This one is Brood VII. That one was Brood V. 

So we are ready for the weird noise of these cicadas as they complete their final life stage.

And we will soon be tired of it.

 

 

 

 

Natural History

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New Friends

I met a mini horse (Dakota) and Golden twins (Jersey and Abby) at the vet today! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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Our New Look!

We’re so excited to unveil a new look here on DogTipper! Along with a new template and menus that will be easier to navigate, we’ve put more emphasis here on our new goal: getting you out…



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12 Adorable Kids Swimsuits Under $18

1. Gold Ruffled Bikini ($ 17.99)   |   2. Yellow Flounce Bikini ($ 17.99)   |   3. Rainbow Bikini ($ 12.99)   |   4. Coral Striped Swimsuit ($ 5.99)    |   5. Striped Ruffled Swimsuit ($ 12.99)   |   6. Heart One-Piece Swimsuit ($ 5.99)   |   7. Shark Swim Trunks ($ 12.99)   |   8. Turquoise Palm Swim Trunks   |   9. Red Floral Swim Trunks ($ 12.99)   |   10. Navy Dinosaur Swim Trunks ($ 5.99)   |   11. Striped Swim Trunks ($ 5.99)   |   12.  Navy Palm Swim Trunks ($ 12.99)

It doesn’t quite feel like it yet, but pool and beach season is (almost) here. We are really fortunate to have an incredible pool and water park across the street from our neighborhood, and it opens next week. The kids are stoked! I realized that their current suits no longer fit them though, and am currently on the hunt for new ones for this year. I came across these styles you see above in my search, and wanted to share because they’re not only adorable, they’re also all under $ 18. Which one is your favorite?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Win a Surprise Package of Dog Goodies!

We’ve been having a BUSY month, first with a booth at POP Cats show in Austin, and this past weekend with a booth at the Austin Pet Expo! We had the chance to meet some super cute dogs at the…



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