Proximity

It is an annual tradition that the Red Arrows perform a flyover of the quayside to signify the start of the Great North Run, the largest half marathon in the world. The Red Arrows make me happy. I feel a great sense of pride and awe when they do their thing, one year rudely waking me up as I slept in, the sound of those engines so close to the ground had me jump up in sheer panic thinking the building was collapsing. I checked the flight path this time around, instead of following the River Tyne from the west and flying over the famous seven bridges, they flew in formation from the north and directly over what would have been busy traffic had it not been for the 57,000 runners. I made it with a minute to spare (seriously, I was exhausted) to record them flying over. The above image isn’t a photograph but a screenshot of my video.

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I pass this hotel everyday. Sadly, two teenage employees went to Manchester on the 22nd of this month and did not make it home. I did not know them. I do however know two people that did make it back home safely. To think that world leaders and international superstars had these people in their thoughts in the past couple days is pretty surreal. As I have said previously with similar experiences, I am unsure whether its a sign of the times or spending longer on this planet that I feel such stories are seemingly closer to home.

I will be the first to admit I am incredibly lucky to live in a nation with relative peace and security. In no way do I believe otherwise. Some regions of Earth experience similar atrocities with relentlessness frequency and I can only attempt to fathom such hardships. This does not mean that I want to play down the severity of the losses experienced in Manchester, nor do I want to pretend I have no concerns of the potential for an increasing number of tragedies within the UK and Europe.

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The same building can be seen above, between the Sage on the left and the Tyne Bridge in the center. I feel this building will be a constant reminder that terror is becoming more of a norm, paired with the heavy armed presence at every busy venue this week. I want to talk about that. The fact that I had rarely seen officers with guns growing up and now it looks like my children will grow up feeling strange if they don’t see armed police.

Strangely, the more attacks I hear of the more I am forced to respect religion or be labeled a bigot. The more I want to talk about the perils of blind faith in the 21st century I can’t without people losing it, and I’m finding more and more reasons to do so. Saying that, I live in one of only a handful of nations in which we can speak out as atheists freely. Most people here are non-religious, with a reeaaallly big urge to hug theism when religion demonstrates a hatred for diversity and a desire for death. I won’t blame a whole religion, just the aspects that deserve it. I will make the most of life in a non religious country to speak up about a religion that I guarantee so many people would do too given the chance. If flogging, beating, murder, honour killings, prison time, torture and slavery weren’t repercussions for questioning reality for some people, I would have a lot more time for religion. Millions more would have time to be free.

I don’t want the light to go out on free speech. I want to see red, white and blue trailed in the air from the Red Arrows, not lighting up the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building in sympathy after another attack. This of course is how I feel about every nation, I can only talk of mine. I trust that many of you are doing a great job fighting similar battles, keep fighting.

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Fate

We have a choice, do what we are told to do or face the consequences. The most tragic aspect of all is that we believe this is a choice at all. You can give the bully your pocket money or don’t. If he really cared about your right to choose, his fist wouldn’t be clenched.

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Am I really enjoying my right to live a life without religion if I am aware of the supposed repercussions?

‘See, you do have a right to reject God, you are doing it right now.’… I hear echoed without diminishing. That may be the case, but am I content with so many varying beliefs about my fate? How could I? How can I be fooled by this illusion of choice? This is supposed to be free will? I don’t like to be swayed by false liberties.

I am not an idiot, even if my opinionated, rebellious actions seem to contradict this. If I cannot see the end of the road, I know it is there. I reject the judgement awaiting me on the horizon not because I struggle to comprehend that the horizon will one day be in touching distance, but because I think of the day when the horizon is in front of me constantly. What better way to avoid the end of the road than to step off it completely and focus my life on what makes me happy instead of what makes me fearful.

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An Atheist American

I would say I first realized I was Atheist at the age of 7, but I was jumping around Christian denominations, and Buddhism, until I was 21. I’m 22 now.

Being an Atheist is difficult. We’re pushed to the outskirts of an excessively religious society hoping someone will acknowledge our existence, beliefs, and credibility. Some do, and for that we will be forever grateful, but many, particularly in the southern area of the United States, do not.
I am apart of a minority that isn’t ostracized overtly (not often at least). It is a quieter discrimination. Like a parasitic fungal infection, you feel the judgments microscopically. The hyphae of others’ beliefs interwoven into our skin, infecting, and feasting on our organic bodies. I scratch and scratch to rid myself of these judgments only to become inflamed with humiliation.


Many religious people are well meaning. Their hands reached out in sisterhood -or brotherhood-, acutely attuned to the vulnerable hearts. I’ve learned this is the tactic the religiously involved take full advantage of. The shedding of a tear sends them into savior mode. The gospel is shared, hands are pressed in prayer, and then they move on when they realize their fair weather attempts pushed us further away. They interpret this as resistance to the inevitable, a denial that will be reckoned with at the end of life, or something we will rue so deeply and irrevocably we will stretch out our arms in their churches and cry, “you were always right, forgive me!” I push away because they send me a slew of platitudes. “Everything happens for a reason,” or my personal favorite, “god gave you a sister with special needs to teach you patience.”


Apparently God uses other human beings as pawns to teach other people virtuous behavior, according to some. I push away, because where their mind is consumed of where they go when they die, I am focused on how to make the only opportunity of existence I have as fulfilling as possible. I push away because I see religion absolving selfishness. I don’t see humans helping because it’s the human thing to do, I see them helping for a ticket into heaven. Why be apart of that?
Atheism is not a cauldron bubbling with noxious fumes. It is not the temptation of freedom from a spiritual law. It is the simple fact that Atheists cannot will themselves to believe, and this is where the religious disagree. They claim we aren’t trying hard enough, or we are angry. They say these things with blind confidence as if Atheists haven’t found themselves hunched over divine doctrine in the middle of the night trying to understand why people keep saying they hear music of the supernatural, but we hear nothing. Most Atheists I meet know just as much as the religious do, if not more.
I believe the most difficult aspect of Atheism is the false preachings of endless “blessings” with religion. The religious in America, as in many countries, are the good. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “it’s the Christian thing to do,” when referring to a good deed. I am disappointed the society I live in believes goodness comes with qualifiers. Maybe I would be content in my own world if the religious would stop saying my life is unfulfilled, that I am missing something, that I have no ultimate morality. What have my convictions done to leave me unfulfilled and have no morality, exactly? The missing opportunity to pick out the ones who don’t go to heaven because they didn’t believe in a giant spirit in the sky, and say, “at least that’s not me?” Is it the ability to commit heinous crimes, ruin people’s lives, and lift my chin to the ceiling with tears of self-pity and guilt and ask for forgiveness, with the knowledge I will be absolved of my wrongdoings because God is merciful (funny, he’ll forgive a serial killer, but not the Atheist)? Is it the ability to feel superior somehow compared to other animate beings that I live along side? Is it the knowledge to boast of historical victories, conquering indigenous tribes of people just because the religious want the world to mirror their image of their interpretation of the perfect human being?

I refuse to accept those injustices, and I never have. I may be apart of a quiet minority, but it’s because people have begun to listen. Our perspective has penetrated the world, and the religious are afraid of someone who doesn’t need religious law to guide them. Being an Atheist is hard, but at least we carry full responsibility of our actions, we love people because every human deserves love, and we will never point a finger at someone saying they don’t deserve something because they are different.

Love whoever is around to be loved. Love when people don’t love back. Love unconditionally.

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See more from Summer Janacek’s writing here.

This is the first of the INSIGHT guest posts, which will provide a glimpse into the lives of atheists around the world and an opportunity to connect with bloggers of a similar nature.

Follow for more and thank you Summer for the perspective!

The new Amazon advert is anti-intelligent design!

Okay beautiful people of WP, I would love to hear what you think of this new advert I found being shared on social media.

It tells the story of two old friends, an imam and a priest, buying each other the same present for their shared ageing problems. 

In an attempt to promote togetherness, never a bad thing, Amazon is receiving brownie points for this ad. It’s what we want to see after what has been another successful season for the terrorists. Will this end terror? Does this make sense of worship? Sadly, no. 

To need knee pads is a sign of bad design. If they need assistance to pray to God, don’t they have an additional duty to praise Amazon? Online shopping is the true saviour here.

You only dislike discrimination, hate is too strong of a word 

I say this in a world in which all forms of discrimination are present. Martin Luther King fought for the advancement of civil rights, preceded by African American preachers condemning the acts of radical homosexuals. Women use their relatively recent voting rights to elect a president promising a ban on Muslims. White males need no introduction. When the fight for freedom has been won, the desire to oppress can form.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The #illridewithyou hashtag brought much sympathy towards the Muslim Faith after a terrorist used the religion to murder dozens in Sydney. People were not afraid to show support of the religion that birthed fundamentalists in the hope it would not create a further divide. In recent years Christian protesters have formed protective circles around Muslims as they prayed. Pakistani Muslims returned the favour, forming circles around Christians after events that further created tensions between the religions. It seems obvious that we are willing to let the occasional terror attack slip by. If suicide belts are detonated only hundreds or thousands of times a year, it is not worth hurting the feelings of moderates.

We are too busy trying to treat every religion equally to notice they are all tearing the world apart, having done a damn good job of that for centuries.
I hear many women portray their anger at a newly elected sexist president. The same women that will hold a Bible in church containing Corinthians 11.3:

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.

Getty images. This post does not reflect the thoughts or beliefs of the females pictured

It seems that sexism isn’t a big enough deal to leave religion behind. Whether this is down to weighing up the alternatives or a lack of knowledge of such discrimination depends on the individual. Religion isn’t a part of our genetic make up. It isn’t a skin colour or sexual orientation that cannot and should not be criticised. It is a damaging ideology that has many thrown of buildings for being gay, stoned to death for being raped and hung from trees for being black. If we truly had self respect and a vision of an equal society, we would leave behind the habits that hinder such progress.

We don’t like discrimination. Is it bearable enough to endure? It seems Stone Age inequality is worth suffering, provided we can keep our Stone Age beliefs.

‘I would rather be a follower of another God than be an atheist!’ 

It’s very obvious that some believers simply want a God to reign over them than none at all. It doesn’t matter which one- Zeus, Jesus, Thor… Who cares? As long as there is one, it’s all good. 

This seems to be the case over at Faith, Philosophy and Science in his/her post Atheism: A growing or dying ideology?

There are lots of stats thrown into the mix. Basically, non religious populations will die out and will be insignificant compared to religious numbers in the upcoming decades.  I won’t look into the validity as it is irrelevant. If people of faith are having more babies… Erm, Jesus really existed? Is this the point? There is nothing to be gained here when it comes to understanding our universe. 

The reason I mention this post is this. Many theists simply do not like the idea of a Godless world. It scares them. I understand how this can be a tough pill to swallow, having a safety net made by an enemy is better than no safety net at all. This is how I imagine it is perceived. Why else would someone take pride in another religion gaining ground? Disregarding Thou shalt have no other Gods seems to be an easy task.

After 2050, their numbers will start declining, as Christianity and Islam both undergo continuous major growth. Why are they going to begin declining? Very simple, babies. The non-religious have an extremely low fertility rate, and thus they do not reproduce enough in order to grow — they reproduce so little their numbers will disappear. Let’s examine the baby and fertility rate department of the non-religious, and how it will contribute to the death of the non-religious.

So no evidence needed, babies are enough proof…

This means that on the global level, the non-religious fad will get even more irrelevant. The fact is, atheists tend to cherry pick Western countries where this group is growing, like Australia or the United Kingdom or Canada, ignoring the rest of the world, where it is overall dying

I would like to add, the countries mentioned above are first world nations. This should be an important factor when looking at religious trends. Some nations with the highest birth rates are some of the words poorest and therefore unsurprisingly faithful. I don’t like to say it, truly, but some of the worlds most devout followers live in the worst conditions. God likes a sufferer.

Have you heard a similar argument? How optimistic are you that non religious populations will grow in the next 50 years?

Rio 2016 and book writing 

Hello WP, I’ve missed you.

My absence has been one of great productivity and experience, I am relieved to say. I have finally ticked the South American box on my bucket list of continents, as I attended the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics before travelling around the amazing country of Brazil. 


I understand the controversy  around the games and despite an event that has cost so much to run with such poverty on its doorstep, my visit was one that has provided me more awareness than I would have ever had at home. My first stop was São Paulo (which is insanely huge and full of character if you haven’t been) to see two friends get married. If that wasn’t a great entrance into the party culture of Brazilians, I don’t know what would have been.

I was fortunate to have had friends show me around their home city, introducing me to great people before venturing to areas as new for them as it was for me. A country the size of Europe is always going to offer new reasons to explore, even for the most keen domestic traveller.


Pre-trip I imagined a developing nation in Latin America to have religion at the forefront of culture. Having Christ the Redeemer as the postcard image for Brazil- more so with the worlds eyes on Rio this summer- preserved this perception. Despite spending a month within one social circle and visiting Belém (a city that simply translates to Bethlehem) I did not feel the weight of religion one bit. We were happy to eat, drink and dance without the ‘G’ word, and managing to keep this up for a whole month is almost unheard of in any nation.

Now, back home with a tan that seemingly washed off after my first shower, I have started writing my first book. With the content I have been able to share on WordPress and the discussions I have had throughout the years I have produced enough content to (hopefully) publish on a topic that fascinates me. Whether I add the chapters to my blog or continue to use WordPress purely to inspire further ideas I will be hitting that Publish button plenty more.


70,000 words and counting!