Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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…or I might be full of shazbot.

On the precipice of a full decade of Ask an Atheist, Sam talks about the show and his increasing disillusionment with being a public atheist. Then, we talk about real-life Scooby Doo ghosts.


It’s getting increasingly difficult to talk about atheism these days, and I’ll explore some of the reasons over the next few weeks. But I’ll mention one now: The problem is no longer “Salvation,” but “Liberty.” Obviously.

Ever since this nation turned to marketing as it’s instrument of national consensus, all political power has pointed to a mythical, trans-cultural and poorly-educated Bud the Chud who swills natty ice; owns a pickup truck he destroyed to roll coal on; eight rattle-canned AR-15s he can’t shoot, can’t maintain, and can’t handle with any degree of safety; all bought on credit he can’t afford.

Anyone with a clear eye and the philosophical equivalent a drink in their belly can tell you that all political entities in America tilt to Bud. Even the good ones and sometimes, especially the good ones. Again, obviously.

In the last couple weeks, “Live Free or Die” has transmogrified into “Live free and Die” as Bud’s aspirants gather ’round and huff each other’s bodily fluids. All of this in the name of a “Liberty” defined before modern medicine, before genetics, before even germ theory, at a time when “fornicating with livestock” wasn’t as much of an insult as it was a tempting career opportunity.

These people are not Bud. They have morality, they care about others, they pay attention to the news enough to be scared. We live with them , we trade with them, we lend each other power tools. But it’s getting harder and harder to get through to them, thanks to the instruments of national consensus and mob psychology– and we have to, one way or another. Time is running out. People are dying.

I’m American enough to believe in Liberty. This is why, in the past, I’ve stood up for people who believe in it even when I think their notions of liberty are at best childish. For Liberty to be true, it must not be a spiritual concept but a mundane one that contends with physics and biology, with desire and need. We need to engineer it, just as the framers did, but more cogently and with more nuance, for our morality is superior and our world much larger than theirs.

I am aware that the similarities between Bud’s Liberty and Bud’s Salvation are profound. On Sundays, Bud can be found in Church, praying for an eternal subservience to a celesital Authority, disguised as Salvation. His prayer is presided over by a Micro-Torquemada who fancies himself a mere shepherd. He has sex with Bud’s children. During the week, Bud can be found at a rally, rooting for an eternal subservience to a corporeal Authority disguised as Liberty. His rally is presided over by a Micro-Hitler with good teeth or bad hair and a lack of moral conscience. He has sex with everything else Bud has.

But I must face the mein as well as the method, and here I find the atheism stance falls short. But what does that mean? Like, in reality, not on Junior High Civics Planet.

First, the presidential election. 2016 was a weird year, and I found myself feeling like a Cassandra and ultimately treated like one. I have no desire to repeat that experience. Even if I could, my crystal ball is cracked and only plays reruns of McHale’s Navy and I don’t even know what auspices are let alone how to read them. The political waters are turbid and rough with this present crisis, and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. The best thing I have is silence, and I shall provide it.

Second is how we’re going to deal with the political and religious hucksters and jackasses who are using the pandemic for personal gain. We’re collecting those stories and we’ll deal with them in-depth, but I’m going to wait until we know what the death toll is. That way, I know what tone to take.

Hair Care

To Whom It May Concern;

I see where this is going, and before you ask: no. Holy cats, no. Absolutely not. Please register my official protest in the log. I love you dearly and I also prefer being alive, therefore I must respectfully decline.

The last time I had any input on your hair was such a “success” that I’d sooner sign on to issue you three high colonics and an appendectomy before I would have any responsibility– and therefore potential blame– for your hair.

Issue the first: I do not manage my own hair in any reasonable capacity. Also, I have nearly zero experience with any sort of hair care. The last time I even got a haircut was only because a powered drill got caught in it. I have less hair experience with hair styling than a four year old with a pair of crinkle-cut scissors and a bad idea.

Issue the second: We are completely at odds when it comes to the philosophy of hair. To you, it appears to be a primary form of self-expression and identity, tied not only to personality but also to professionalism. To me, hair is a tertiary sexual expression substance that exists mostly for the enjoyment of others, expressly yourself.

This is not a criticism. It makes sense. Professionally, you’re a literal figurehead: you exist at the front of the classroom and must be meaningfully interfaced with in order for the ship of education to progress. On the other hand, I’m more akin to engine oil: I have no fixed position, when I’m functioning properly I’m essentially invisible, and under no circumstances does anyone really want to look that closely at me.

With Love, Respect, and more than a little Snark,




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Steve Kluth

Sam, I’m fine if you don’t want to continue this. It’s been 10 years. That’s a lot of time to devote to something that takes a lot of effort, and even things that are greatly rewarding emotionally and personally can also take their toll. Some call it burnout. But it’s often you accomplished a lot of what you wanted to accomplish, but the emotional payoff isn’t the same anymore. Or you just can’t do it. Whatever. I and the rest of your audience was lucky to get what you so freely gave and shared with us. And I, for one… Read more »

Charlie still in AZ

Hi Sam and Becky. Listened to the latest AA episode. This is a deep one. I haven’t been involved with anything atheist in years but I keep listening to AA for episodes like this. Thank you. Can’t wait for Ask an Anarchist or whatever the political Sam show is called.

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