An Atheist Professor at Virginia Tech April 23, 2007

An Atheist Professor at Virginia Tech

Mapantsula at Daily Kos has a response to Dinesh D’Souza (who thinks atheists have no way to respond to tragic events like the shooting at Virginia Tech and are nowhere to be found in these cases).

It’s a beautiful piece, worth reading in it’s entirety. But here are a couple excerpts:

I know that brutal death can come unannounced into any life, but that we should aspire to look at our approaching death with equanimity, with a sense that it completes a well-walked trail, that it is a privilege to have our stories run through to their proper end. I don’t need to live forever to live once and to live completely. It is precisely because I don’t believe there is an afterlife that I am so horrified by the stabbing and slashing and tattering of so many lives around me this week, the despoliation and ruination of the only thing each of us will ever have.

You can find us [atheists] next week in the bloodied classrooms of a violated campus, trying to piece our thoughts and lives and studies back together.

With or without a belief in a god, with or without your asinine bigotry, we will make progress, we will breathe life back into our university, I will succeed in explaining this or that point, slowly, eventually, in a ham-handed way, at risk of tears half-way through, my students will come to feel comfortable again in a classroom with no windows or escape route, and hell yes we will prevail.

You see Mr D’Souza, I am an atheist professor at Virginia Tech and a man of great faith. Not faith in your god. Faith in my people.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Mapantsula, Daily Kos, Dinesh D’Souza, Virginia Tech[/tags]

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  • Funny that God, Zeus, Thor, and the lot have been entirely absent as well.

  • MTran

    The atheist professor is eloquent.

    But as for Dinesh D’Souza, what’s with that guy? I really can’t stand to read his woo but from time to time I take a peek at his stuff on the HuffPo and he is constantly shredded by the regulars over there.

    Is he some sort of masochist? Because there are some really sharp barbs hurled rather constantly at his columns. Perhaps any attention is counted as good attention on a political blog site.

  • Richard Wade

    A quick scan of the comments at D’Souza’s blog looks like the majority are carving him a new orifice. As one asked him, where the hell was he? Several are incredulous that he has a fellowship at Stanford. Behold the power of tenure. I’m getting sick of these parasites exploiting the pain of real people to push their personal agendas.

  • Thanks for that link. I read another article from D’Sousa which blanketed atheists as haters of God. From this rebuttal to complaints of his previous article:

    One atheist wrote to say that rather than rely on idle promises of fantasies of life after death, what atheists would say is that we need gun control laws and a better health care system. Fair enough, but is this what you tell a crying mother? “Madam, you should feel much better because new gun control laws and mental health reforms are on their way.”

    Here’s what I’d hate. I’d hate being lied to at my most vulnerable. Even if it made me feel better at the moment, I’d feel so empty, and would have a feeling of distrust from anyone who claimed to have definite theological answers.

  • I don’t think Dawkins is especially swift when it comes to questions of religion, but I also think D’Souza is flat wrong when he says that Dawkins (or most other non-believers, for that matter) would chalk up tragedies like Virginia Tech as just “molecules acting on molecules.” What’s the point of this kind of vilification? What end does it serve–except to polarize folks who are already too polarized? It makes no sense to me. It’s a non sequitor. And incredibly mean-spirited.

  • Aimee

    I’m glad you posted this. I don’t know if anyone read all of the comments from his essay, at the time when I did, I read all 11 pages, I’m sure it is higher now, but I think this was one of the best..

    #135. Here are atheists in action for you:

    Atheists are making the world a better place, while hate-mongers are worsening it.


    TIME: 4:00 – 6:30 PM
    310 EAST 67TH ST. (2ND)



    Atheists to Counter “National Day of Prayer” with Blood Donations

    Lifesaving Action, Not Passive Prayer, Is the Message

    What do you do on May 3, 2007, the “National Day of Prayer,” if you are an atheist, do not believe in prayer and are opposed to the observance of a prayer day being imposed on all American citizens?

    While Believers are praying on May 3rd (an act that has been scientifically proven to be ineffective*), groups of atheists will go to Blood Banks in scores of U.S. locales to donate their blood and sign up for organ donation programs. It is a nationwide action which we hope will point out that there are alternatives to silently beseeching a deity to perform miracles.

    “While religious people are on their knees, we atheists will be on our feet, giving a part of ourselves for the benefit of humanity,” says Kenneth Bronstein, founder of the Center For Atheism, an informational and activist group based in New York City. “We know that prayer does not work–but medical science does.”

    This year, CFA will be joined by atheists from The Rational Response Squad, an activist network ( formed in 2005 by Philadelphia-based Brian Sapient and Rook Hawkins. The Rational Response Squad has grown from a popular internet radio show into a force of 20,000 members in 15 regional chapters and a youth division.

    “We want to make a public statement about how nonreligious people can observe the so-called National Day of Prayer, which we have renamed Gift of Life Day,” says Sapient. “At the same time, we want to let America know that there are millions of us who know that praying is nothing more than talking to yourself. So on that day, we atheists will be engaging in action that we can prove scientifically has real-life impact on our fellow citizens.”

    In the past three years, Gift of Life Day has become a tradition among New York City atheists. Last year, members of NYCA celebrated Gift of Life Day by giving blood at the New York Blood Bank in upper Manhattan. A group of atheists arrived together to donate their life-giving blood and then celebrated together in a small anteroom with coffee, juice and light refreshment supplied by the Blood Bank. “We found that the Blood Bank was delighted to have us, cooperated with us in every way and allowed us to post our atheist banner for the occasion,” notes Bronstein.

    The Rational Response Squad will focus on logging the effort on one of their new websites ( to help make the project an International success.

    If you want to start a Gift of Life Day in your locale, it’s simple. Here’s what you do:

    1) Find your local blood bank by accessing or, then type in your zip code to find your local blood bank

    2) Phone the blood bank to make arrangements for a group donation (You will find them amazingly supportive and accommodating.)

    3) Notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is doing this and why. It?s important to alert them long before the event.

    4) Visit to log your donation.

    It’s simple, it’s positive, it’s effective. Come on, Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Secularists, Nonbelievers, Separation of Church and State advocates, join us in our humanitarian protest against the Day of Prayer! Show the world
    that while religious people are on their knees, Atheists are on their feet giving of themselves to humanity.

    For further information, contact:

    Ken Bronstein:
    Brian Sapient: sapient@rationalresponderscom

    Mike Caprio at 11:33AM on Apr 19th 2007

  • Karen

    The atheist professor is eloquent.

    Second that – what a beautifully written essay! I will keep that piece for future reference. I’m more impressed than ever with Virginia Tech and its faculty.

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