The Great Courses


Who is The Thinking Atheist?

TTA isn't a person. It's an icon. It's an idea. Religion often asserts that reason is an enemy of faith, and that those unable to reconcile problems in its doctrines and holy books are simply thinking too much. The church says they should disengage the mind and take things on faith. Rationalists think that faith (believing something without the evidence) is a terrible way to navigate through life, and this site simply encourages everyone, everywhere, to question everything...and start thinking.

Isn’t "Thinking Atheist" redundant?

No. I never assume anyone is thinking, atheist or otherwise.

Isn’t "Thinking Atheist" an oxymoron?

You’re from "Answers in Genesis," aren’t you? I love you guys! Tell me again what happened when the baby Velociraptors walked to the desert and climbed aboard Noah’s Ark alongside the arctic penguins.

Why do you hate god?

Doesn’t hating something assume that it exists? This is like asking if I hate the Easter Bunny, Lord Voldemort, Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy. (Actually...I do hate The Tooth Fairy. Cheap little @#$%!)

Don’t you know that god loves you?

Awesome. Which god? Yahweh? Allah? Thor? Wotan? Zeus? Isis? Osiris? Loki? Odin? Mithra? Lolth? Aphrodite? Poseidon? Cronos? Horus? Beddru? Krishna? Zarathustra? Baal? Dagon? Dionysus? Enki? Gaia? Helios? Hermes? Marduk? Ra? Seti? Vishnu? Shiva? Xenu? Akuma? Raiden? Gekka? Bumba? Eshu? Jupiter? Romulus? Ilia? Venus? Abaangui? Ewah? Imhotep? Periboriwa? Dagda? Ishtar? Baldur? Tyr? Quetzalcoatl? Ixchel? Qi-Lin? Dievas? Adonis? Xanthus? Kali? Akka? Anubis? Sif? Mercury? Juno? Brahma? Frith? Eric Clapton? Or one of tens of thousands of others?

Do you think religious people are stupid?

The people, no. The beliefs, yes.

Why do you parody and mock? All belief systems deserve respect.

The people, yes. The beliefs, no. Here in the 21st century, if someone states that the earth is flat and expects his belief to be "respected," he shouldn’t be personally attacked, but he should prepare himself as his outlandish assertions are stacked, skewered and roasted over the white-hot fires of science, reason, evidence and common sense. In this crazy world, some things are deserving of mockery.

Why do you focus so much on Christianity? Where are your videos on Islam and other religions?

Christianity is my background. Debunking my former belief system is what I’m passionate about. For the record, I believe all religions and cults are superstitious nonsense. As TTA evolves, I hope to tackle other religions with greater frequency. But for now, I’m pretty focused on the bible and mainstream Christianity.

Isn’t atheism a religion?

Sure. And not smoking is a habit.

Atheists gather together in groups to talk about their beliefs. Isn’t that like church?

This idea confuses church with community. People should feel free to connect and celebrate the things they have in common. I think opposition to superstition qualifies as a common denominator, and human beings shouldn’t isolate themselves because they’re scared of labels. The Thinking Atheist and other online communities have given thousands the opportunity to make friends and find support all over the world.

But why spend so much time speaking out against a god you don’t believe in? Are you obsessed?

When’s the last time an atheist knocked on your door with brochures about the Good News? When’s the last time you found a Richard Dawkins book in your hotel room? How many atheists pray to Charles Darwin before dinner? And how many atheists accost you with the threat that, if you don’t believe as they do, you will be tortured forever?

Religion started this. And my page exists as a response to the overwhelming wave of religious messages and influences in our culture.

What do you think happens when you die?

It’s like before you were born. Non-existence.

Isn’t that rather sad? No afterlife?

What’s sad is watching people squander decades of this life under the delusion that they’re super heroes on a divine mission with eternal reward. Carpe Diem, folks. This is the only time around. And you don’t need an afterlife to make this earthly one meaningful, rich and happy.

You were a Christian for 30 years? What took you so long to walk away?

When you’re indoctrinated from birth, it’s not as easy as it sounds. I compare it to the coma patient who takes weeks or even months to regain full consciousness. Emerging from the cocoon of religion is rarely done easily or quickly. I’m just thankful I woke up.

When did you finally "come out" as an atheist?

2008. And with a devoutly religious family, it wasn’t pretty.

Do you have religious friends?

Many. And they’re terrific people.

Isn’t that weird?

We agree to disagree. Then we go have sushi. I cut ties with the fire-and-brimstone types long ago.

What software do you use for your videos?

I use the Adobe Production Suite.

How long does a video take to produce?

Between 10 and 60 production hours, depending on the project, with budgets ranging from $150 to $1200. That’s why the store exists, to help alleviate the financial load.

You sound like a radio announcer on your podcasts.

I was a broadcaster for 20 years. Ironically, much of it was Christian radio. Ain’t life strange?

Pet peeves?

People who politicize my website. Militant Christians. Militant atheists. ALL CAPS. Apologists. Westboro Baptist Church. The humorless, armchair intellectual. Televangelists. Tom Cruise’s Scientology tents. Any culture which requires a burqua. Facebook drama queens (and kings). Communion wafers. Crucifix jewelry. Jehovah’s Witnesses on my front porch. Christian summer camps. Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" and every sterile, pretentious, horseshit Jesus movie that came before.

Who inspires you?

I’ve found Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Barker, Daniel Dennett, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Michael Shermer, James Randi and Sam Harris inspiring and helpful. Julia Sweeney’s "Letting Go of God" is frequently in my DVD player. On YouTube and the web, I really enjoy and appreciate Thunderf00t, Matt Dillahunty, Evid3nc3, Mr. Deity, PZ Myers and a litany of videos from TEDtalks.

I’m also inspired by the thousands of regular people who connect and interact here and on my Facebook and YouTube pages. Their participation, humor and passion have encouraged and emboldened me in my own life. These people serve as a living refutation to the common religious charge that atheists are rudderless, angry and sad. I’m proud to be a part of the TTA community with them.