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10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.

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be an unapologetic atheist

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melb100I think that

I, like most Brits, am far more apologetic about Islam than about Christianity. This article made me feel uncomfortable even though I know that rationally, it makes sense and that had the journalist been talking about Christianity, I would have felt no such unease.
The biggest challenge for me is to be consistent with my atheism, and not shirk away from criticising Islam where I would have no such qualms concerning Christianity. 5 years ago


The music teacher just asked me to listen to a CD of gospel songs and write out the lyrics. I did so without qualm, but then he asked me to translate them and we ended up having a huge conversation about the Christian church in Japan and the missionaries who roam the streets here.
Turns out he (and all the other teachers who happened to be listening) finds them just as offensively patronising as any unapologetic atheist does.

“Japan has had its own religions for hundreds of years, so who on earth do they think they are to turn up and tell us all we’re going to hell just because their religion was invented thousands of miles away where we were unlikely to hear of it!”

“We go about living our lives, and they go about living theirs, and leading a good life should be all there is to it. I don’t understand how they could think that leading a good life in the name of their god is better than leading it by following the teachings of Buddha, or just from a general respect for the world and things in it.”

And, my personal favourite…
“If their god does exist, shouldn’t he be able to come up with a better way of revealing himself to us than sending these idiots on their bicyles to accost us as we try to do our shopping?” 6 years ago

melb100atheism in action, part 5

silly religious arguments

friend: shit, it’s cold today!

me: yes, minus 25! Beautiful clear sky though. Did you see the sunrise?

friend: no, I overslept.

friend’s friend: that’s why Dawkins is wrong.

me and friend: er…sorry?

friend’s friend: if evolution was [sic] true, then no one would have been able to live in these temperatures.

me and friend: er…sorry?

friend’s friend: because evolution happened a long time ago, and obviously monkeys wouldn’t have had clothes or central-heating, so how could they have survived long enough to turn into humans?

friend: er, evolution doesn’t actually say that monkeys turned into humans.

friend’s friend: yes, it does.

friend: no, it doesn’t. A common ancestor is not the same thing as one thing “turning into” another.

friend’s friend: ......... isn’t it? Oh. But what about all the art that wouldn’t have been made without religion?

friend: er…. but you’re not saying that actually increases the likelihood of Christianity actually being true, are you?

friend’s friend: [thinks hard for a while] no. But religion isn’t necessarily about truth.

friend: do you think maybe that is part of the problem?

friend’s friend: there’s no need to be so aggressive. I have a right to defend my beliefs!

friend: and you believe that religion creates art and that is a reason for endorsing it?

friend’s friend: yes.

me: Wilfred Owen’s poems are art. That isn’t a reason to endorse war.

friend’s friend: yes, it is.

friend: .......... more tea, anyone? 6 years ago


If one or two people tell you that you’re an ass, you can ignore them. But if three or four people tell you you’re an ass, you might think about putting on a saddle.”
- Yiddish saying 6 years ago


Apparently, atheism is a religion in itself. What do you reckon? 6 years ago

melb100Atheism in Action , part 4

Man in bookshop: do you know if they stock Reader’s Digest here?

Me: [flicking through Japanese print advertising, 1930-1955] erm…maybe. Have you tried the foreign magazine section?

Man in bookshop: Oh, good idea, I’ll do that. Do you live here?

Me: erm, [Is he a stalker? Is he a stalker?] ..... nearby. Not actually in the bookshop, obviously.


Me [Oh my god he is a stalker! That wasn’t funny, why is he laughing like that?]

Man in bookshop: Say, can I have your number?
Me: [looks at him witheringly] I’m an atheist.


Awkward pause.

Man in bookshop walks away. 7 years ago

melb100Being 5 foot 10,

and a woman, people often ask me:
“How tall are you?”

Recently I have started responding, to the English speakers at least,
“How tall was Jesus?”, and then nodding sagely.

Hilarious.  Highly recommended.
I imagine this would work in most other cases of irritating questioning, too.

“How much do you weigh?”
“How much did Jesus weigh?”

“How old are you?”
“How old was Jesus?”

“What shoe size are you?”
“What shoe size was Jesus?”

Unless you’re in a shoe shop at the time, in which case such a response is likely to lead to awkward pauses amongst the sales staff

“Do you mind if I smoke?”
“Does Jesus mind if you smoke?”

“Do you come here often?”
“Does Jesus come here often?”

“Can I come in?”
“Can Jesus come in?”

“Do you floss?”
“Did Jesus floss?”

“What’s your inner thigh measurement?”
“What was Jesus’ inner thigh measurement?”

“Who will you vote for?”
“Who would Jesus vote for?”

and so on and so forth. 7 years ago

Kazim27Get out there and be bold

Here in Austin, we now have two thriving atheist groups. We do cable access TV and internet shows, and we get together for lectures, and support political protests.

People are uneasy around atheists largely because they do not talk to them. You often hear casual slander of godless people; well-meaning theists blame a lot of society’s problems on us. I’d say don’t be a jerk about it, there’s no need to bring it up at every possible opportunity. But if somebody says something that ought to be answered, then answer it. It’s hard at first, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did. 7 years ago

melb100Atheism in action: part 3

Japanese seller of dairy produce: Would you like a yoghurt?
Me: I’m an atheist.
Japanese seller of dairy produce: Really? That’s nice. Would you like a yoghurt?

I think the Japanese have a very healthy attitide towards religion. That is, they don’t understand what all the fuss is about. There are religions of sorts, of course, but Japanese Buddhism is more a code of living rather than an actual religion, and Shintoism is just ceremonial traditions coupled with an ancient respect for nature. Nobody actually believes that there is literally a god in every tree. I dated a shinto priest for a while, and even he didn’t believe it. Moreover, the fact that these different “religions” have co-existed for so long here – most people have shinto marriages and buddhist funerals – means the concept of a jealous monotheistic religion is all a little bewildering for them. Nobody gives atheism a second thought. They just want to sell you yoghurt. It’s only the over zealous foreigners you have to watch out for (see atheism in action parts one and two).
Which is nice. 7 years ago

melb100atheism in action: part 2

Inspired by my recent success with the missionaries, I have decided to make the phrase “I’m an atheist” a more active element in my conversation répertoire.

Saturday afternoon, my weekly coffee extravagence. Just a latte, nothing more, but I limit myself to one a week and thus the pleasure factor is heightened. An open copy of The Handbook of Modern Illustration at my side. I am obviously busy. I mean, I’m attaching post-its to various pages and cross-referencing things in the index. I couldn’t look any less open to social interaction if I tried. Unless I was covered in pig’s blood and twitching menacingly, I suppose. But then some cretin would undoubtably have approached me anyway to inform me that my trench coat was dripping onto the floor and hasn’t the weather been lovely these past few days. Alas, there’s no getting away from the fact that some people simply can’t read the “I am feeling insular” sign you have printed onto your forehead in large upper-case letters.

Unless of course…

Annoying man (late 20s? Peroxide hair in dire need of intensive conditioning treatment): Uh, hi there.

Me (taking a moment to note the fact he is wearing a tie-dyed [possibly heat sensitive – I think I remember there being a trend for that back in 1973] purple and pink T shirt):
a curt nod before pointedly returning to my book.

Annoying man: uh, sorry to bother you [well then, since you’re so sorry about it, here’s an idea for you: DON’T], but, uh, have I seen you somewhere before?

Me (looking up at him wearily): No.
Return to book.

Annoying man: Are you sure? I mean, you look pretty familiar, so..

Me: Sorry. I think you must be thinking of someone else.
Return to book.

Annoying man: Hmm, I don’t think so. I have an excellent memory for faces, and I definitely remember yours from somewhere.

Me (sensing the time for politeness has now passed): Well, I also have an excellent memory for faces, and I assure you we have never met. Have a nice day.
Return to book.

Annoying man (coming over to sit at my table, can you imagine the cheek of it): Well, I definitely remember you. I mean, let’s face it, no-one is going to forget a face as beautiful as yours. Not to mention that hourglass figure.

Me (wondering if this is what chat-up lines have come to and whether feminism was all a convuluted dream I had after one too many camemberts during dinner one evening):
Hold his eye determinedly for a minute or so.
“I’m an atheist.”

Annoying man: slinks back to his table, picks up his jacket and leaves. 7 years ago

melb100atheism in action

Missionaries on the streets of Asahikawa at the weekend (two of them, suited, pale complexions, bespectacled, pushing their bikes along the pavement, name tags written in English and Japanese, an armful of yellow lettered literature)

Man one: Wow! A foreigner! Hey, like, now we don’t have to pretend that we speak Japanese! Awesome!

Man two: How long have you lived here?

Me: A year

Man one: Wow, a whole year eh? That’s like, awesome!

Man two: yeah! Awesome!

Man one: You know what else is awesome?

Me: .... no….

Man one and two together: God! God is like, totally awesome!

Man one to man two: Is God awesome, Jerry?

Man two to man one: He is so awesome!

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I don’t really -

Man one: And you know what else is awesome?

Man two: Jesus Christ! He is awesome!

Man one: Like, totally awesome!

Me: I’m sorry, I really have to -

Man one: and the most awesome thing of all? Jerry?

Man two: God loves you. Now that is awesome!

Man one: yeah! Awesome!

Me: I’m an atheist.


I stride serenely away into The Body Shop and buy some new strawberry body butter in celebration.

“I’m an atheist”, it turns out, is a magical phrase guarenteed to rid you of most unwelcome visitors most of the time.

I encourage you all to use it at every possible opportunity.

Atheism in action? Like, totally, awesome. Yeah. 7 years ago


I think I have now attained status as an unapologetic atheist. Readers of my blog and religious apologists who raise the topic in my presence be warned.

However, I am keeping this goal on the list, since its presence there and the cheers it illicits from well-minded strangers provides me with a welcome respite from the endless, endless, endless goals of the “read the entire Bible” ilk.

You mean to say you believe in that nonsense without even having read for youselves the book responsible for it all? Good god (to coin a phrase), somebody slap them in the face with an oversized fish, all 1762 of them.

I’d love to stay and discuss this further but I have a pot of creme caramel waiting for me at home and sadly, my gelatin cravings wait for no man.

Merry 3rd of July everybody! 7 years ago

melb100One of my goals

Is to look in the mirror every morning and say “I am beautiful” out loud. Somehow even after all these weeks it still fills me with joy and the realisiation that hell, I am beautiful.

Yesterday I looked in the mirror and said “I am beautiful, without god.” It felt amazing, so I said it again, louder.
“I am beautiful, WITHOUT GOD

It was the strangest kind of thrill, like a whole winter’s worth of snow suddenly shaking itself from my arms and leaving only spring.

I was laughing.

I said, through my laughter, “There is no god. And I am beautiful. And I will die. And I am still beautiful.”

I laughed for sheer joy at the immensity and improbability of my being there at all, at the freedom of it, at the riot of biology (and nothing else – and nothing, NOTHING else) buzzing inside of me, and I carried the laughter round with me all day; and now, tyring to rewrite that experience, I am laughing again.

I am standing on a hilltop with a wild wind blowing in my face (and the wind’s name is truth, or the search for it), and so great is my joy that there is almost no room for the sorrow that sees so many people standing on this same hilltop, turning their backs against the wind, burying their sight instead in the pursuit and cultivation of ignorance.

I have glimpsed now on an emotional level what I have intellectually known for a long time:

“I am beautiful, without god.” 7 years ago


Strange: in Europe few people would feel the need to be apologetic about being an atheist (though even here we are a minority). Live and let live! 7 years ago

melb100Dear believers,

I’m not aiming at any specific religion; it makes no difference to me whether you believe in unicorns or leprochauns – they’re both as absurd as each other.

I am sick and tired of pretending that I feel anything other than disdain, mingled perhaps with a little bit of pity, towards all those people who walk round thinking their belief system is somehow superior to the superstitions of the Ancient Egyptians and is therefore deserving of respect.

I do not respect your belief system because I think it is wrong, utterly and irretrievably wrong.

I don’t care how much comfort it brings you during the difficult times of your life. Comfort is not truth. Please take a moment to face the facts of your creation (self-replicators), existence (transitory and without “higher purpose”), and destruction (complete and for ever). I cannot imagine the sheer pomposity that requires belief in a special “biology PLUS” status for human beings.

No longer will I nod distractedly when you advise me to “find God”. I will tell you exactly what I think, which is that you are wasting your beautiful, superlative, intricate, wonderous life on something that isn’t there, a non-existence.

Unapologetically yours, Madeleine 7 years ago

Dan DBe unapologetic?

Heck, be proud of it! Take the Blasphemy challenge7 years ago


i used to apologise or not put my beliefs forwards, if faced with a fanatic of any religion, for fear of offending them. ‘though now i’m fine with not as to be honest my belief is equal to everyone elses and they never seem to worry about maybe offending me (sure they couldn’t offended me anyway but that’s not the point!). just realise that your view’s just as important… 8 years ago


What’s holding you up? 8 years ago

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