Smiting Science (Redux)

Hi All! I have had a rather difficult weekend, so I thought I would “repurpose” something I wrote before about my time in Texas. I’ve mentioned before here I have Texas issues.
Teek has written about the origins of her skepticism, and while I certainly was a scientist/skeptic when I started that job, the experiences I had there really made me begin to be a skeptic in a formal way. I began to examine both my assumptions about religion, and the literature about why people get so damn cranky when you disagree with them.

My first day on campus is one of my favorite stories:

On my first day of work as a new assistant professor at the Permian Basin branch of the University of Texas, I signed in and bantered with one of the university secretaries, a nice woman who wanted to make me feel welcome.
After we established that I did not wish to purchase any Amway products, she invited me to go to church with her family that weekend. “Oh, no thanks,” I said.
“It’s a lovely Lutheran church. You’ll love it.”
After a few more urgings on her part, I gave her the truth: “Um, actually, I’m an agnostic.”
“Oh. Well, I don’t think we have one of those churches here. You’ll probably have to drive to Lubbock.”

One book I read during that period which I really loved was “Naming the Antichrist.” It’s a great history of (as it’s subtitle says) “an American Obsession.” Since I was being named an agent of the guy, I wanted to learn more about him.  If you like history non-fiction, I recommend this one!


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

Related Articles


  1. I didn't look, actually. I didn't want to use the word "athiest"–her head would have blown up. Or, there would have been an Amway product for that.

  2. Two ways to get along in West Texas — wear very nice clothes on Sunday and talk vaguely about chicking out some new pastor in Lubbock.

    Then get broadband and lock your doors.


  3. Ahaa Texas the land of big hair and pickup trucks. If I was to live there all I can say is like Matt: "Internet" or like Bug_girl said: "Run Away!"

  4. When I first moved to North Carolina from Minneapolis, I was appalled at the number of invitations to church activities I got from co-workers. And by how many times I was asked, when meeting people who knew I was new in town, what church I attended and/or which denomination I belonged to (as in, which kind of Baptist are you?).

    I learned fairly quickly that they were not trying to proselytize so much as they were just trying to be friendly & help me get connected with people. It never would have occurred to them that I simply didn't go to church, or belong to a denomination.

    I eventually found a Baptist Church that had a large presence in the Gay Pride march, did lots of anti-racism work, and had either left or been thrown out by the Southern Baptist Convention for objecting to the teaching that women must 'submit graciously' to their husbands. I found out about it when I learned that the fabulously beautiful woman I was dancing & drinking margaritas with at some event or another was the assistant pastor there. So from then on whenever anybody asked me about it, I told them I went there, and enjoyed the look of shock on their faces. And I enjoyed even more the lack of further questions on the subject.

    I even actually attended church there once.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button