Interview with a Camel: The Atheist Camel Chronicles
Author and Anti-Theist Activist, Bart Centre, Tells all
Interview by David G. McAfee
Frequently, I’ll post interviews with authors of non-theistic works to the website in hopes of encouraging freethinkers to pursue new and relevant literature; and when I read The Atheist Camel Chronicles, I was more than excited to find a well-written work whose target audience is the non-believing ‘community’. As the book’s subtitle indicates, it contains “Debate Themes & Arguments for the Non-Believer (and those who think they might be)”, and is written by the creatively pseudo-named Dromedary Hump. I had the opportunity to interview the author behind the Dromedary caricature, Bart Centre, in order to share with us some details regarding the unique and useful book.
Can you tell us a little about your background … when did you realize you were an atheist and when did you become a vocal anti-theist activist?
I’ve been an atheist since my late teens. But I never considered myself an anti-theist. In fact, in my earliest years I thought that religion did more good than harm, and actually found anti-theists like Madalyn Murray O’Hair to be offensive and evil people. But through personal experiences and observations of theists I came to gradually realize the harm belief in the supernatural can do; harm not only to the individual upon whom religious delusion is thrust at an early age in terms of their stunted perspective on the value of life, intellectual growth, and respect for science and self-reliance; but also harm to our freedoms, civilization and the planet itself.
I understand this is your first book. How is it doing?
Although I have been an active contributor to local news papers and periodicals for years, this is my first foray into publishing. Atheist themed books are a niche market, and given the fact that I’m an unknown author I just decided to self publish and see where it went. .
I’ve been getting really nice reviews from Amazon readers who share my take no prisoner style, my book’s rating is 4.6 out of a possible 5 stars. I was as surprised as anyone to find it consistently on the list of the top 20 best selling atheist themed books on amazon.com for its first six months. According to Amazon this is groundbreaking for a previously unpublished / self published author in this genre. To see “The Atheist Camel Chronicles” and my cover’s camel face right along side Hitchens’, Dawkins’ and Harris’ terrific books were a great feeling.
What’s the story behind the pseudonym “Dromedary Hump”?
I’ve been using that name for years in chat rooms, message groups and on my blog The Atheist Camel http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ . Most people have heard the Arab proverb about a camel and what happens once he gets his nose under your tent flap. Given the opportunity the camel will eventually be sitting in the tent with you. I adopted a camel avatar and gave myself the name Dromedary Hump as homage to that concept. It represents the objective of my blog and my book: if I can get my nose under the tent flap of fence sitting theists or apathetic non-believers; get them to examine their beliefs and consider the dangers religious teachings represent to a free secular society; then perhaps it will open the door to reason and activism
What inspired you to write “The Atheist Camel Chronicles: Debate Themes & Arguments for the Non-Believer (and those who think they might be)” and what do you hope to achieve with this book?
There are some really terrific books on atheism by famous personages out there. But I wanted to give atheists a hand book of short, hard hitting , amalgam of funny and serious easy to read essays that could be referenced and used in formulating responses to what I call “theist think.” By giving first person accounts of my debates and personal experiences with religionist both on line and face to face – if they spend any time interacting with fundamentalist theists on the internet, at work, or in their personal lives — most atheists will eventually encounter many of the topics I cover. I’m hoping my retorts and experiences will better prepare freethinkers to counter those ever so annoying religionist platitudes with logic; and give those on the brink of free thought to see through the religious nonsense and contradictions they blindly embrace.
You are the co-creator of a post-rapture pet rescue website; what is Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA?
Guilty! One of the essays in my book discusses the 2012 Mayan calendar end of the world scenario, and how it will probably be seen as a harbinger of the End Times that fundamentalist Christians are always touting. I mused that there had to be some way to make some money from the hysteria religionists will likely be working themselves into as 2012 approaches. Shortly after my book came out a friend in Minnesota sent me a link to a funny website in the UK offering to rescue cats when the rapture happens. It all kind of clicked from there. After all, we’ve got more Rapture believing fundamentalists in the US than any other country.
We now have 29 pet rescuers in 22 states ready, willing and able to recue and care for the pets of our Christian brethren if and when the Rapture beams them up. At $110 for the first pet, $15 for each additional pet, we offer ten year contracts. Currently we have just over 200 paying clients. Our website has been the talk of the internet, print and broadcast news media from all over the world http://eternal-earthbound-pets.com/
Your book has many useful arguments for active secularists; can you please summarize one of your favorites?
Well, that would be like trying to choose which of my children I love the most. I will say that of the 105 essays I particularly enjoyed writing about my hypothetical trial at the hands of modern day Inquisitors. It was based on an exchange with a particularly vapid fundamentalist in a Christian chat room to whom my reason, respect for science and logic, and reading of secular books was a clear sign that I was guilty … of something.
But many readers tell me the “God of the Ants” essay is among their favorites. In it I recount my childhood experience with an ant farm, and compare my attitude toward and treatment of those ants with god’s attributes and treatment toward its creations. The conclusion as to how the respective “victims” view who and what their life giver is prompts a “eureka” response with many readers.
Where is “The Atheist Camel Chronicles” available to be purchased?
It’s an exclusive with Amazon.com. Although I do offer signed copies through my book’s website http://theatheistcamelchronicles.blogspot.com
Is Mr. Hump working on another book?
Yes. My next book will be a sequel tentatively entitled “The Atheist Camel Rants Again.” The publisher and I are targeting a Spring 2011 release. It will be widely available in books stores as well as on Amazon.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Just to thank them for their support and for the many supportive emails and comments I have received. Also, to invite them to friend me, Bart Centre, on FaceBook, and encourage their activism by joining The Freedom from Religion Foundation, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State if they are not already members.