Foundation Beyond Belief Launches Today

January 1, 2010

Dear Readers,

I’m trying to spread the word about this new Secular Humanist charity organization, Foundation Beyond Belief, which launches today. quarter, Foundation Beyond Belief will select nine deserving charities in nine different categories: Environment, Health, Peace, Child Welfare, Animal Protection, Education, Human Rights,  The “Big Bang”, and Poverty. You can partition your monthly donation in any way you wish so that your money helps the categories you care about the most; there’s also a tenth charity – the foundation itself.

Foundation Beyond Belief is a non-profit that was established by Dale McGowan (author of Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers – see previous posts) to represent non-believers: agnostics, atheists, and secular humanists. As you know, churches are good at raising money for charity, but they often proselytize under the banner of heaven. Foundation Beyond Belief will never purposefully choose an organization that proselytizes.

Atheists humbly make donations and quietly volunteer, but our low profile gives our spiritual counterparts an excuse to criticize our assumed lack of philanthropy. Nonbelievers don’t need to prove anything to anyone, so this isn’t about thumping our chest. We can still maintain our humbleness and dignity by quietly donating, but I purposefully want to advocate for this charity because it’s success will remind the world that Secular Humanists, as a collective, are caring, kind, and giving. It’s also a statement of our values – the nine categories align with just about everything most of us stand for. Secular Humanists are good people. We may not believe in god, but most of us believe in humanity, ethics, world peace, equality, global health, and kindness.

I don’t work for this charity. I just want to get the word out. Please forward this to any of your friends and family, who might appreciate the message. I believe it’s crucial to spread the word about Foundation Beyond Belief because many nonbelievers keep their lack of faith on the down-low; there’s not a church of atheism where this message can be disseminated.

Foundation Beyond Belief is also attempting to bring together Secular Humanist parents by creating community groups. We may not have a church, but that shouldn’t stop us from assembling and being social. You can sign up to be a community leader – positions remain open.

I guess that’s enough promotion for one post. Have a happy New Year!!!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger,

Raising Freethinkers Resources Guide Part 2

December 30, 2009

This is the second of three pages of links for the resources available in Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide to Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan, Amanda Metskas, Molleen Matsumura, and Jan Devor. You can see the first page here and the last page here.

Chapter 4: The Physical Self

Sexuality Information

General Health and Body Issues

Celebrating Difference


Chapter Five: Ingredients of a Life Worth Living

Happiness and Flow


Character, Reflection, & More

Chapter Six: Celebrating Life

Planning Celebrations – General

Rites of Passage

Special Occasions


Expressing Thanks


Earth Day

Birth/ Adoption

Table Reflections and Readings


Peace and Nonviolence

Miscellaneous Resources

Raising Freethinkers Resources Guide Part 1

December 29, 2009

This is a page of links for the resources provided in the book Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan, Amanda Metskas, Molleen Matsumura, and Jan Devor. Raising Freethinkers is a companion book to Parenting Beyond Belief, a collection of freethought parenting essays compiled by Dale McGowan. Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.

Chapter 1: The Inquiring Mind


Lateral Thinking and Brain Teasers

The Final Frontier

Evolution and Genetics

Miscellaneous Science

Philosophy/ General

Chapter 2: Living and Teaching Ethics in Your Family

Understanding Ethical Development

Introduction to Parenting Styles

Exploring Humanist Ethics

Books for the Kids

Helping Parents Find Books on Ethics for Kids

Ethical Education Curricula


Nondiscriminatory Extracurricular Programs for Kids

Programs for Ethical Education and Action

Chapter 3: Secular Family, Religious World

Religious Literacy

Separation of Church and State


About Me: A New Contributor to Science-Based Parenting

August 9, 2009

As an introduction, here are a few words about myself, of which will be familiar to those close to me, and to those who’ve taken time to read the “About Me:” section on that popular online social network.

I am not superstitious or religious. If you are, please, do not expect me to regard highly your superstitions or religious beliefs because they are in fact not sacred to me. I can’t apologize for that. Luckily, I grew up in conditions which left me to search out answers to my questions myself, rather that relying on the opinion of what ever authority there were. That being said, I was not indoctrinated by any loved ones’ version or interpretation of religious dogma, or maybe it was just that nothing ever really stuck. Hence, I don’t have any sort of mystical, magical ideas about the inner workings of human life, or all that is natural. I don’t look for meaning in life. I think nature is absolutely beautiful by itself without trying to pretend there is something mystical about it. I don’t need meaning as justification to enjoy a natural life. I do not have self righteous, self important, prejudice, ego maniacal, dogmatic, biased, or narrow minded views, beliefs, convictions, or opinions about any other persons’ personal prerogative. You may disagree if you like. My life and thinking is generally aided by humanism, rationalism, secularism, reason, critical logic, skepticism, freethought, and common sense. I will continue to think freely and live a meaningful, fulfilling life based on reason, compassion and logic. I think you have the right to believe in whatever deity or supernatural explanation you choose, just as I have the right to accept reality based on the natural laws that govern the universe, and truth sought out by the method of science, rather than ancient or current myth.

…and yes, I am a parent.  I’m a father of four girls.


Parenting Beyond Belief – LIVE!

September 20, 2008

A few weeks ago, I recommended the book Parenting Beyond Belief, a compilation of essays on secular/atheist parenting edited by Dale McGowan.  Well, I just came back from a Cincinnati seminar by Mr. McGowan himself, and I’m so glad I went.  Dale offered up a really practical and accessible workshop on how to respectfully raise good children in a religious world.

I want to focus on Dale’s recommendation for secular parents on how to relate to evangelical family members, the kind who are judgmental or fearful of the influence of atheism.  I’m personally lucky to be raised by semi-secular parents who are both accepting and open to my lack of belief.  But there are some out there who feel as if they are rowing upstream against the current of their christian families.  Some of you even have a religious spouse or religious children.

Dale gave a great suggestion… don’t fight the current.  Traditional wisdom says that when being pulled into an undercurrent, you should just swim with it.  Religious tolerance works the same way.  Atheist parents should be open to allowing their religious relatives to respectfully share their spiritual beliefs in the appropriate context.  Quoted below is one of the examples from the seminar on how to approach an eager in-law who is having trouble accepting secular parenting:

I wanted to sit down and talk this over with you because you are so important to us.  I can see that you want what’s best for the kids, and I appreciate that more than you know.

I know your religious faith is a big part of your life.  If I were in your position, I’d feel just the way you do – worried that this important part of who I am wouldn’t be shared with my grandchildren.

I want you to know that it will be shared with them.  Even though we’re not going to church, it’s really important to us that the kids learn about religion.  Otherwise how can they really make a choice for themselves?

We need you to help us teach the kids by telling them what you believe.  There’s no better way to learn about religious belief than from people who know and love it as well as you do.  Let’s set up a time for you and Amanda to have a cup of hot chocolate and talk about your faith.

Dale is quick to point out that you should make clear to your fundamentalist next-of-kin what is non-negotiable.  For instance, tell them that you are strongly against the use of fear tactics (hell), guilt, or aggressive persuasion.  Just let them know that they are welcome to share their beliefs at an appropriate time agreed upon by both parties… not every time they visit or at every interaction.

On dealing with your religious spouse (a much trickier subject), Dale recommends having a respectful dialogue to talk about ways to negotiate spiritual parenting.  Atheist parents tend to have competitive personalities when it comes to spiritual issues; they have a desire to be right, to win the contest against God and his “true believers”.  An atheist parent should just relax in a spiritually tense family and make qualifying statements such as, “Well, you know your mother thinks differently, but this is what I believe.”   Try to be respectful of your religious family.  Don’t judge your spouse or children for their choice to believe.  Try not to correct them or harass them.  Just be honest about your own convictions and why you don’t believe, and let everyone else make informed decisions.  Attempting to convert your family away from religion will only create more problems, but that should be obvious.

Well, that’s about all I want to say on the subject.  My next post will be about meeting the reigning king and queen of atheism, the founders of Answers in Atheism and Camp Quest.  My lunch with Dale McGowan and the local Free Inquiry Group was quite interesting and worth it’s own post.

Thanks to Dale McGowan for an excellent seminar.  I regret that circumstances made me late.  I hope Dale can “forgive me” (to borrow a phrase).

Harry Potter is Not the Devil

September 17, 2008

I was tricked into commenting on a conservative blog that is actually a parody.  Everyone must be in on the joke because I received a comment two seconds after posting it.  I stand behind everything I said against it, but to save myself further embarrassment, I will delete everything except one paragraph.

J.K. Rowling wrote a series of books about an abused boy who finds a way to compensate for his helpless life by achieving greatness in a fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry.  The Harry Potter novels are no different than the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of books written by a christian.  In fact, J.K. Rowling is a christian herself.  SHOCK!  Of course, if fundamentalists would chill out and actually enjoy her fiction without imagining it being written by the hand of Satan, they might notice that Harry celebrates Christmas with his Godfather; they might also read some Christian symbolism written into the stories.  But I guess that would be too much to ask.

There ya go!


May 13, 2008


This is a new segment on the Skeptic Dad blog.  Every few weeks I’ll post about scientific things in the news that you can apply to your own family.  Hopefully, you’ll be able to make science education fun by developing your child’s curiousity and enthusiasm for scientific exploration.

The first item I want to bring to your attention is the new World Wide Telescope.  Those parents who have installed Google Sky onto their desktop will not want to miss Microsoft’s sleek and stylish answer to their cyber-counterparts at Google.  World Wide Telescope is accessible, free to download, and the functions are easy to use.  It’s the perfect complement to an actual telescope.

There are a variety of summer camps, some of them religious and others secular, but there is only one Camp Quest, the first summer camp for children of secular freethinkers, humanists, and atheists.  The camp is meant to foster a rational and logical worldview, and to focus on the natural world over the supernatural.  You can find a Camp Quest in Ohio, Minnesota, Smokey Mountains, California, Michigan, and Ontario.  I don’t blame people for being a little concerned about brainwashing, but the whole point of this camp is to avoid dogma by encouraging the campers to think for themselves.  My own parents were concerned when I brought up the subject of this camp, but they forgot that I was sent to a christian camp as a child.  Why not send your kids to a humanist freethought camp?

Expelled Exposed has been doing a lovely job of squashing the arguments in Ben Stein’s despicable Expelled “documentary”.  One video on the site challenges the intelligent design argument of the complexity of the eye.  Check it out…



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