Thursday, June 07, 2007

And we're back

I have an interesting story to tell but unfortunately I will not be going into much detail - for legal reasons.

I recently lost my job. I was forced out - fired - ostensibly for disagreeing with my boss over the subject of faith. He felt, as a catholic, it was absolutely fine for him to express a sincere distaste of all things Arab on the grounds of religion. I mentioned that I was an atheist and decided to defend my opinion in further conversation. Of course, this meant thoroughly undermining his own brand of fantasy.

So anyway, he decided he wanted me gone and gone I am, but since you can't sack someone for their religion, or lack thereof, especially when you are a high ranking executive of a multinational who has just spewed forth a whole load of anti-Muslim rhetoric based on nothing whatsoever than your own catholic bullshit then they had to make me leave quietly. Quietly I left, and I shall remain quiet so as not to get my arse sued off, but I think it is quite safe to relay the very basics of the story. This is now done.

So, I am now unemployed and to be perfectly honest quite relieved to no longer be suffering that particular job and it is also the first time I have lost my job for atheism. What a beautiful and interesting life we lead here still stuck in the dark ages of the planet of the apes.

If you enjoyed this article please feel free to digg it down below.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that. I do worry sometimes about my views ever getting me in trouble. I've never really gotten into it with someone yet. I don't think my odds are good being an atheist in Texas but so I also think it depends on the power of the person I argue with. Fortunately its never been my boss that I've discussed religion with.

Terry Storch said...

Really stinks that you got canned for being an atheist. As a Christian, I think that sucks to be frank.

Sorry dude....

Stew said...

Good to have you back, I'm a supremely selfish person, so I'm not too fussed if you've been fired or won the lottery, as long as I can read you blog!

OK, that's not true, I think you've been hard done by. But soemthing will turn up. It always does. Go to and find the talk on "what makes us happy"
its in the "how the mind works" theme. It's mind blowing

Take care

Stew said...

Hi, you have a link on this site to Atheist Girl, this blog requires a login, I would very much like to get one how do I go about that?

Intergalactic Hussy said...

Can't you sue out of principle? Or perhaps find a job you like... :p

Sorry about losing your job over such a ridiculous thing (really). I choose not to discuss (bring it up, anyway) religion at work. Not because my boss won't agree ('cause she won't) but because I live in LA and I doubt they'd go that far here...but surprisingly many theists work in "godless Hollywood".

chooseDoubt said...


Thanks. I worked in Texas a few years back and my atheism, in fact my generally critical attitude, caused some bumps right at the start. After a few days though people understood that I wasn't an untrustworthy bastard and it was never an issue again. I think everyone enjoyed the discussions, but perhaps I was just lucky.

It sucks in principle but in practice, well, let's just say today will be another beautiful day spent on the beach with strawberry daiquiris =)

Stew - thanks for the TED pointer. I'd not seen that video before. I'll get back to some writing soon but I'm being selfish right now and enjoying the sun. - I'm not an invited reader either. Have you dropped Roya an email? Her address is listed on her profile.

Intergalactic hussy - I can't sue out of principle as I signed papers to get some cash in return for not causing a noise. It is indeed ridiculous but we live in ridiculous times with ridiculous people with their heads kept vacant by the blocking effects of ridiculous and petty ideas. I'm trying not to worry about it for a while.

Rhology said...

That stinks, you shouldn't have been fired for that! Lame.

May I ask a question based on that? Was it morally wrong for your boss to fire you on that basis?

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Rhology - good question.

I'd have to say that I think such decisions should be based solely on performance. If my performance was inadequate or if I was adversely affecting the performance of others then I should have been terminated, or warned. The reality of the situation was that I had been promoted less than a week prior to the incident and the main incident itself happened at a three day training event for other employees in which I was responsible for providing around 70% of the training in order to improve the performance of other employees. I therefore believe that I was terminated purely due to the hurt pride and prejudice of a senior employee. For me, that is not a moral action and it was also inconsistent with my performance metrics up until that point.

But from my ex-boss' point of view it probably was a moral action. For him, someone openly criticising his religious beliefs - even outside of the office in a social situation - probably does somehow make me a bad person in his model of things. I just chalk it up to another case of a theist placing their loyalty to their fantasy mumbo-jumbo above their loyalty to reason. As I often try to point out, the two are mutually exclusive and wherever mumbo-jumbo is given respect it is certain to result in a reduction in the likelihood of reasonable decisions being made.

Letting people believe whatever they want to believe without having to provide reasons is simply giving them a licence to behave unreasonably to those around them. Personal faith results in shared suffering. In my book that's immoral because it's irresponsible.

Rhology said...

I see.
If you'll permit, I'd like to understand that line of reasoning, b/c couldn't your boss just say "It's irresponsible to be an atheist, and I don't keep irresponsible employees, and that's MY morality"? And wouldn't his 'moral stand' be equal to yours w/o some higher moral authority like the God he says he believes in and the God you don't believe in?

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Rhology,

I'd say his moral stand is not equal to my own, essentially because mine is primarily a reasonable stand more than a moral one that requires no authority, only relevant reasons. His stand however requires no reasons and rests solely on the "higher moral authority like the God he says he believes in". That is a clear difference. My view is determined by metrics of my performance in the real world as an active agent of the company fulfilling requirements for the company and this fulfilling my role. His view is determined without recourse to any such relevant metrics and instead the "authority" is handed off to an unrelated and in fact utterly unsupported belief.

"It's irresponsible to be an atheist"

Incidentally this is exactly the sort of nonsense that I am quite keen to address since I think I have made some very valid arguments in the past as to why the reverse of that statement is actually true. It is irresponsible to be a theist as at that point you base your decisions and thus your behaviour on an unverifiable and rigid "moral code" as opposed to an open minded and critical analysis of relevant evidence and real world objectives.

Rhology said...

I think what I'm trying to get at was demonstrated by you at the end of your comment. You made a value judgment, assigning "responsibility" to being an atheist and "irresponsibility" to being a theist (all other things being equal, I know what you're saying).
That value judgment, if atheism is true, is no more valid or binding or reasonable than a theoretical boss' firing you just b/c you're an atheist, or b/c you have red hair, or b/c you brush your teeth twice a day instead of only once like him. That is, the value judgment begins and ends w/ you, and his begins and ends w/ him. So I don't see how you could validly be upset w/ him for operating according to his value judgment, since yours would have no more right or reasonableness than his. Why NOT simply retreat into absurdity in that case?

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Rhology,

I rather think you are missing the point, but that’s okay – I’ll try to be clearer. There is a very big difference between firing an employee for a personal prejudice and firing an employee because relevant and reliable information shows that they are not doing their job. I’m very certain that you understand that.

If I say “I got fired because I’m an atheist” you seem to think that is somehow an equally valid “value judgement” to being fired for not actually doing the job. Personally I call it an irrational prejudice. If I were to say “I got fired because I’m black” then I suspect you’d agree it’s an irrational prejudice and certainly lacking in validity as a reasonable business decision. It’s exactly the same as that.

I’ve said many times that theism is irresponsible and my own sacking is a simple example of why that is true. When people have beliefs that are in no way bound to reality through any requirement for coherence or evidence then they tend to make unreasonable decisions. Me losing my job is one little example. Long term for our societies the stakes are far higher and the damage has already and will continue to be done. Prejudice against homosexuals, women, people with other religious faiths or ethnic backgrounds are the product of faith. Prejudice against science, which is essentially prejudice against knowledge is also rife. I’m not aware of any non-religious efforts to force frankly absurd and infantile Bronze Age fantasy in science classes. And that is another fine example of exactly the point I hope I have got across.

Not all value judgements are equally valid. The value judgements of whether evolution is fact or whether the Genesis version (pick either) of creation is fact are not equal. One is simply wrong and the means of knowing that is the vast quantity of evidence, the struts of reality that prop up one argument under the force of constant questioning and investigation whilst the other position fails to provide even one piece of evidence to support it and is directly contradicted by all the evidence that exists. Creationism is simply wrong. Thinking critically, requiring evidence, and honest investigation mark the path by which we can retreat out of absurdity of faith and into reason and knowledge. The faithful can never be honest in their investigations or thinking because they are constrained by the necessity of one particular conclusion regardless of what reality has to say about the validity of that conclusion. That is absurd and the consequences are bad decisions and irrational behaviours that are a burden for all people. That is irresponsible and I am convinced that history can only record faith as our most ridiculous and costly mistake. If faith persists we will eventually reach the day when we destroy ourselves thanks to the insane belief that Armageddon is a good thing.

Rhology said...

hi Choosedoubt,

OK, I understand what you're saying and maybe it's good that you said what you did, b/c that gets us closer.

The thing is, w/ this comment you keep making value judgments and statements on morality that begin and end w/ nothing better than your personal preference, or at best, "societal good."
But could not Joe The Other Guy come to you and say, "You brush your teeth twice a day. Not only are you fired but I'm going to kill you."
You would object, of course: "But it's wrong to murder me b/c of my oral hygiene habits!"
He: "To me it's perfectly morally acceptable."
You: "But society agrees that murder is wrong."
He: "'Society' is another word for 'statistical average' and evolved concerns. Why should I care?"
You: "B/c we have to live together in society."
He: "I don't care about that, and my personal morality has no concern for 'living together' in society."
You: "Then you're a freak."
He: "That's just another allusion to statistical average. Why should I care?"

Might I ask, where would you go w/ him after that? Wouldn't the question of what is right and wrong simply come down to who is stronger?
In the theist's case, though Joe might not accept it, couldn't the theist tell him that it's wrong to murder b/c the Maker said it was wrong? Why wouldn't that be an improvement over the total inability to establish a reason beyond personal or societal preference that murder is wrong?

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Rhology,

I've sent you an email instead of replying here as I think I know where this is headed and if I'm right then this is a discussion that would be better presented outside of the comments and as a series of blog posts. If I'm wrong then let me know and I'll respond here.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I am outraged at your situation. But in Texas, at least, one can be fired "at will" unless one is part of a civil service system. I hope they paid you BIG bucks to maintain their cover. Other Christians would be in as much jeopardy from a rabid Catholic as you were, not to mention many other large, small, mainstream or peculiar sects.
I am a non-theist because I no longer base my life on myths, fairy tales, or stories for which there are only circular arguments.

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