I don’t agree with what Dawkins retweeted. This website with its platitudes did not make me see a reason to become more accepting when dealing with irrational bigots. The only parts that spoke to me were the point that if you can’t correctly explain someone else’s argument and have it accepted, then you don’t understand it enough to refute it. Active listening is a problem in our society. Of course, theists are bad listeners and very impatient so you will not usually get that far.
The other line I liked from the comments is that “Perfection is the enemy of the good” -Volataire. I take it to mean that we must choose our allies and work for small changes if we are to be progressive, rather than being ideologically pure isolationists/special snowflakes. It’s true I don’t agree with Sam Harris on certain things, while he is clear minded and has insights in others and shouldn’t be shunned simply because he doesn’t fit into a familiar box idealize.
So if I agree with that, then what is the problem you ask? I’ll tell you. Reddit and others tell you to attack ideas and not people. So It’s okay to attack Christianity or Islam but not Christians or Muslims. I question why not?
The two are interwoven. If you are a Christian you subscribe to Christianity.
You will potentially act in ways that hurt me. If an skeptical atheist hears a voice and sees visions telling him to go to an abortion clinic and blow up some doctors, he will dismiss it and get psychiatric help. A Christian might too, but he could potentially think It’s the voice of God. That alone makes Christians a threat. And generally Christians are predictable, irrational bigots, and are relatively lame to hang out with. I feel justified in disliking Christians and attacking them along with Christianity. The only argument that might stay me is that attacking groups of people and/or individuals can sometimes be ineffective or counter-productive.
Moreover. I do not respect their underlying epistemology enough to even respect a difference of opinion as I might with someone who looked at the same set of facts I did, and came to another opinion of politics. That’s just finding a difference of view when there is a margin of doubt. But with Christians their underlying facts are definitely wrong. And if I attack Christianity you will still feel insulted that I don’t respect your core values, and react as though I attacked you personally. Why keep up the pretext of not attacking them? For civility? As Hitchens quipped, “Civility is overrated.”
I personally think I would have been happier if I were gay. Allow me to explain: atheists are significantly more likely to be men, and gays are significantly more likely to be atheists. Therefore I believe it would be easier to find people I agree with if I were gay.
Being an Atheist makes funerals with burials especially tedious. There’s an unbelievable amount of mysticism and ritual, and I realized that I don’t think our culture is as emotionally mature as the Pirahã tribe who don’t believe in an afterlife, and just calmly think “Well, death sucks, but it happens.” Their Amazonian tribe buries their dead without any ceremonies, and without a coffins.In our culture we have days of viewings, we beat our chests to show our grief, pray, sing, recite poems, write melancholic speeches called eulogies, and pay priests hundreds of dollars to preach at a funeral and sometimes talk about someone they probably haven’t even met. We make food and take photos, we look at pictures of the dead, put on suits, have pallbearers wear gloves, and drop flowers on the grave, we greet dozens of people and send cards with condolences, and if they’re Catholic or it’s a military funeral there’s even more pomp to keep you from doing anything else on that Sunday. And it’s not even over yet because anyone who pays four times more for burial rather than cremation is going to come back to the grave again.
Anyway, I was asked to recite a death poem at a funeral for Christians. What should I have done? I was seriously tempted to just troll them and quote Euphrates, or use a Japanese death poem:
So in ten years the conservatives have moved from denying climate change to denying most of it is caused by human activity, retrenching their position to where they’ll be safer.
Scott Adams is one of the “deniers.*” (You might remember Scott as the famous artist of the “Dilbert” comic who turned into a Trump fan.) He acts like he is sharing his neutral observations, while he tilts everything against his target. Recently he criticized “Bill Nye: the Science Guy,” just like the Fox News program he linked to.
It’s acutely painful to watch this decline in clear thinking, because I have read a couple of good books by Scott Adams from when he wasn’t a wingnut, and I don’t know what happened to him. He’s getting old though, and may have developed brain cancer. Either his brain has fried, or (as a result of his hand injury that has made it harder to draw,) he plans to switch to blogging about politics to the Trump zealots on his new social media platforms for an eventual monetary return. If you want clear proof that his remaining core fanbase don’t understand how to do accurate research (they’re simply hopeless idiots and probably the lazy kind), just read the comments.
Then fairly read his article, and watch the video of Bill Nye annihilating the Fox News anchorman, and think about how for every single allegation Scott Adams he falls flat. Bill Nye was put in an inferior position on a talk show, with a guy who tries to steer the conversation, force him to answer scripted trick questions in a short time slot, without giving Bill Nye to develop his arguments or present his side.
Nevertheless, Scott Adams says Bill Nye developed cognitive dissonance when his position failed him, and refused to answer a precise question because he didn’t know — which according to Scott shows that Bill Nye is just another believer “on faith.” (Scott Adams you’ve said you’re an atheist, so you should have awareness from having encountered this fallacy before. Theists and reality deniers love to say “You can’t know *anything* for sure, and anything less than 100% confidence leaves room for me. Therefore even if though am not an expert in what you are talking about, you should take my position seriously as though my position has an equal chance of being true.”
It is shows Scott Adams hasn’t thought it through when he expects Bill Nye to answer the trick question with a precise answer, (and treats any abscence of an answer as proof that Bill Nye is wrong.) Had he took the bait and answered, Bill Nye’s credibility would still have been attacked even if he had pulled a number out of thin air and said 70% or 90%, rather than what he said — “If you want a number, global warming is 100% accelerated by human activity.” The precise number is a technicality when Bill Nye is plainly arguing that most of the warming is caused by humans, and that he believes the rate is hazardous.
This is confirmed when the host keeps interrupting him before he can make any good points. Of course I don’t think Bill Nye is a good debater, and he isn’t good at quick one line retorts, but he is a good presenter or lecturer.
When you look past his clumsy retorts and look at the content of his arguments when he has time to do them, he always makes better points than the less developed minds he’s pitted against who make unscientific arguments like,
>”If global warming is caused by CO2,
>and CO2 causes global warming
>and if there were volcanos on the moon,
then why is the moon cold?”
It’s superb irony how Scott Adams calls Bill Nye deluded. (Of course Scott Adams is really rich but he is still an opportunist who usually ends every post with shilling one ofhis products. Which makes one wonder if he tries to create controversial posts to shill for his company, but is a shady technique he seems to have learned from reading Donald Trump.)
Tl;dr: Bill Nye is great, Scott Adams is an idiot, and my farts prove Global Warming is caused by humans.
*”Climate Change deniers” don’t like the word anymore because it is too objective about their relationship to the position. They instead prefer to be called “Climate Change Skeptics” even though skepticism does not mean denying overwhelming sound evidence, and as “unskeptics,” or “pseudo-skeptics” they diminish the gravity of the word. Conservatives have done a good job at moving the word choice since we can’t even “Global Warming” anymore without them cherry picking exceptions (usually of freak weather like tornados or cold spells which we wouldn’t have if not for the messed up weather we cause,) so we now have to say “Climate Change” to prevent those objections, which sounds really ambiguous. It makes it sound like scientists aren’t sure about Climate Change, like it could even be getting colder, and in effect it is a minor victory by technicality for the less educated side–the more obstinate side. I won’t pretend to be neutral about the question of global warming on my blog when they’re clearly wrong, and scientists rightfully want the public to recognize it to be a closed question we’ve debated and solved, so that we can “get the move on” to our other problems.
Granting that all men are entitled to their opinions, doesn’t mean that men are entitled to their own set of facts. The climate change crowd are the skeptics, they are the scientists.
The conservative estimates scientists publish erring on the safe side to avoid being wrong are alarming enough, but what is more alarming is the succeses of the propaganda campaign by anti-intellectual forces in America, and of the fossil fuel companies–who as the richest companies on Earth have reason and money to finance disinformation experts as easily as they hire lawyers. Oddly, the other side refuses to believe that paid liars could exist, or somehow believe the green companies are hiring more paid liars even though those companies are not nearly as prevalent, profitable, or unconcerned about “the tragedy of the commons.”
It amuses me that people believe a blue collar carpenter had deep stuff to tell the world. He was probably illiterate like Mohamed too.
Here is the cumulation of Jesus’s best advice: “I’ve been a carpenter my whole life. Don’t build yer house on sand, build it on a foundation on bedrock.’ (Later that turned into a proverb about how to lead your life.) To be fair President Abe Lincoln was raised by a carpenter, but then he avidly read books and went to law school and became a great speechwriter, which you don’t hear about with Jesus. We know Jesus was a rough alcoholic prone to angry outbursts too. You don’t hear about him being tutored or mentored when he visited the synagogues either.
Buddha was the son of an aristocrat, who then ran away and wandered alone while thinking and meditating for a few years. Point is he was probably sufficiently educated in childhood about the classics to have a lot more nuanced understanding about how human society operates.
A couple of handyman visited my house the other day and they were rough and spoke in slurred voices about how Obama’s wife looks like a Transvestite and how Trump is gonna fix them dems gud. It does not take much brains to cut and nail a few boards together, just really simple arithmetic -and learning by trial and error – no critical thinking required, it’s all practical stuff. 2000 years ago before there were universities, the flunkies and Mexicans Sears hires to service my house could have been Jesus. Christians who look up to Jesus should seek therapy from their local carpenters, locksmiths, plumbers, farmers, car mechanics, and the guy who fixes your cellphone when you crack the screen.
So one day Jesus decided he was fucking tired of carrying boards and climbing onto roofs to labor in the sun, and being ripped off by taxman and scoundrels who don’t even pay him. He would rather travel Israel like a prophet, entertained by locals while drinking and giving speeches as a guest. And so Christianity began when Joe Smith quit his day job and started lecturing about what he had thought about while sanding planks for his whole life.
My life is shit. I’M GONNA MOVE AWAY AND BE A TEACHER.
I’m tired of doing work and not being paid to the agreement by those fucking greedy Pharisees, while they get paid generously for light work and they can tell all the chicks who is their daddy. I could do that job too. And while I’m at it I’m gonna tell the world that everyone should pay their handymen what is due or they’ll be sent to hell. I’ll say it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to get through the head of a needle, and jab my finger at the Pharisees and tell them to eat shit.
“You can’t lie to the young. You must not bullshit the young. It’s an absolute principle. These people were asking me questions, ‘Seriously what should I do with my life? Should I commit to socialism or not?’ I reviewed it. Is there now an international working class movement linked at the point of production, internationalist that could replace capitalism as was once thought possible. No. There isn’t. Is it in long term decline that idea? Yes. Is it coming back? I don’t think so. Is there an ideology at least, without anchorage in a material class movement, that could at least say it was a critique of capitalism that could transcend it? Not known to me, no. And one’s I’ve seen on offer, not very persuasive. At that point it seemed meaningless to go on calling myself a socialist.” -C. Hitchens
It’s interesting he stopped being a Socialist, although he doesn’t say much about it, and if something made him decide that doesn’t work. He pussy-footed about it, saying it’s not politically viable to join a Socialist movement now, rather than saying he changed his mind and doesn’t work. (And of course he asserted that Marxism still made valid observations, which is why he used to call himself a Marxist even if he wasn’t a socialist-whatever that means.)
Sadly he’s dead, so his political meandering has come to an end – how interesting that he has continually tracked right after starting to the left in the sixties, becoming allied with the Neoconservatives on several issues like the invasion of Iraq. When I age, I’ll be a conservative too, as my mind calcifies, I become resistant to change and cut off and immune to new information. No matter how liberal you are in your youth, usually the world becomes more progressive and catches up, and if you aren’t competing to stay more liberal than the rest, you will wind up as part of another new conservative hegemony if you die of old age while feeling “future shock”.
So many Christians refuse to engage with a person’s arguments seriously on their own grounds without saying, “Mark Twain was agnostic and he railed against God because he became bitter when his daughter died.” Or, “Your kid turned atheist? He is just rebelling and he will pass through that phase.”
You hear it in politics too. “You’re a socialist? That’s because you’re young and brainwashed by the prevalent liberal education at universities nowadays. You wouldn’t think that way if you held a job for 20 years and saw the government stealing the money you worked for. I bet you’re on welfare and want more benefits without working.”
It is annoying to have to defend your character whenever you throw out any kind of statement. When they do this it is reductionist, if not outright incorrect to focus on another person’s psychology or life circumstances, and make that the dominant factor for understanding their views. Many of us can absorb facts and coolly come to conclusions analytically. I guess they mainly jump to conclusions on emotion and in response to events their life, and when dealing with others they imagine others must have come to conclusions by the same processes? Example:
“Something bad happened to him/someone in the family died? Well it’s no wonder he turned atheist, and let’s forget about what he is saying because that is the real reason. How pitiful.”
They like labels, and you can’t defend “child rape suspects” on any issue around those people without the nagging implication that you yourself must be a rapist! If they could run the government freely they’d have you tick a label for every little form you do.
What direction does a Muslim astronaut pray in if he’s on Mars? If Earth is straight up that’s gonna strain your neck. Why don’t Muslims ever pray straight down? How do you determine qibla if you’re in a wormhole?
Praying in a direct line to Mecca when off Earth, and praying in a curvilinear line while on Earth is inconstant to begin with. Jupiter and Hydra have ten hour long days, so you have to wake up to pray more right? Hydra has a tumultuous chaotic orbit – every time you pray you’d need to figure out your bearings because up and down change constantly. Imagine if there’s ever a major nuclear war and Muslims emerge from a fallout out shelter after 40 years, to find they lost track of time and were praying in the wrong direction.
Good luck finding which way Mecca is let alone Pluto.
I want to see Muslims on an astronomical body that rotates hundreds of times in 24 Earth hours. And if there was no relativity then following Salah (prayer) times on a ship closely orbiting a millisecond pulsar would kill Muslims with insomnia.
> Astronauts will eventually use an atomic clock that’s adjusted to account for the current time in Mecca.
Now what about the effects of relativity? Days on high gravity bodies take longer. Are muslims gonna stop praying if they live by a blackhole and days stop progressing? Will the new plan to pray according to local times on a clock, not the sun? Or suns? You won’t be able to follow Mecca time when weeks of of your life equal a day on Earth.
What about if the sun or Earth die? Will they pray towards the dust? Do astronauts adjust the prayer times in accordance with the local sun(s)?
But here’s another one: how do you get buried facing Mecca on Hydra, much less Mara?
So here’s the problem with prayer times. Either:
1. Follow time in mecca
2. Follow a system clock
Trouble is you can’t do both with relativity. Time dilation messes it all up. How many days on Earth pass for years lived by a black hole. Suspended animation on a colony ship also would result in sleeping through prayers towards mecca. Traveling close to the speed of light would make days in mecca speed by in hours or minutes on your ship.
For number 2, every single ship in the universe will wind up with its own time. All clocks tuned to absolute mecca time will glitch up and require offsets as the ships start accelerating and decelerating around stars. Two ships that left Earth at the same time traveling to the same destination at different speeds will still quickly develop different “Mecca clocks” and would pray at different times. If one crashed and had to be rescued by the other, the clocks would not agree and the crew would all pray at different times.
Praying together as one quickly becomes impossible in space.
Here’s another astronomy one. A fatwa was recently issued barring all Muslims from going to Mars. Would that stop you from going if the chance were there? Supposing even that space travel was a one way trip?
Not that I expect answers to those questions since Quranic thinking says the Earth is flat.
I think you would have to be schizophrenic and suffer confirmation bias to believe in a god of your own creation. For me, a major stepping stone towards Atheism, was when I wrote a story about a hero, who became more powerful as I kept writing due to “power creep.” Did you know that in the beginning Superman could only lift cars and jump high and far, but later he could lift skyscrapers, and had the ability to fly? Well, my chunibyou capeshit character became OP too. (You know, the way Yahweh probably started as a sky God and then became the lord of everything on Earth.)
Gradually I started comparing my character to Yahweh, realized to my shock that I would rather worship my character than the capricious God who indirectly murdered everyone in the Book of Job. At least my character was charismatic, sexy, humane, and had a more consistent moral compass. If I had to choose to worship a God without evidence, I’d choose the one I had designed myself.
Someday I would like to know how many Sci-fi/Fantasy authors deconverted largely due to writing? I haven’t read of anyone else doing so.
Anyway, the possible interpretations multiplied in my writing in the way theology develops – I realized I had created a theology with a pantheon of “Gods.” I had to introduce a villain as an antagonist, and he promptly became like Satan – a mechanism for explaining why my hero didn’t have the power to fix everything, and why there were problems in the world. (Unlike Satan, he had good intentions though, so I guess my story was more sophisticated than the bible.)
I began to suspect the bible was little more than a collection of highly-polished fan-fictions based on some ancient folklore. That’s how my research into religion began. Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t have figured out it was BS if I hadn’t written the story. Supposing I had been a wage slave after High School, with less hours for thinking about my writing? (It’s not a comforting thought, and another reason I don’t like low minimum wages. Surely that increases the religiosity in the poorer countries….)
You don’t have to be a writer to read enough and come to the same conclusions though. A study showed that the whether a child was brought up with religion makes it easier or harder for them to tell if a story is fictional.
(So remember kids, only read the bible, keep your thoughts on God and don’t get distracted with aliens, wizards and vampires in young adult novels. Pay no attention to the literary conveniences and tropes in the bible which would indicate the story was shaped by a master creator, who does not necessarily have to be God.)
I know some Atheists are seduced into reverting to prayer and Theism. But does it really feel better to be responsible for your life when it’d be so much fun to see your life as a predetermined film, or some cosmic test?
Religion allows someone to play make-believe when the truth is too hard to bear. It allows someone who was crippled by wolves to pretend that supernatural forces have conspired to put him in the center of a bildungsroman genre film in which he is fated to be tested before an audience. This lets the religious float through life with a form of depersonalization derealization syndrome, thinking about themselves in the 3rd person to better understand how god must see them, while they neglect reality and only care about the invisible things that are happening. Religion is a placebo treatment for certain debilitating symptoms that can lead to suicide, (but read the warning because the drug can have harmful side-effects.)
I suppose in saying this I might be reverting to my original position when I was more of an Agnostic Atheist and less of an Anti-Theist. At that time I thought religion would inevitably give way to rationality eventually, (because how could people turn away from the truth?) At the time I was still considering embracing a different theology, and I thought that perhaps fiction did work better for some people, particularly if they were so weak-minded that they needed it. Of course, that was before I was aware of how much harm religion has done, and has the potential to cause.
Most likely I’ll toggle between these positions throughout my life. Ursula le guin said she is not a truth-seeker (which makes sense as she is a fantasy writer and will appropriate whatever lie works to spice up the worlds she builds), but then she ruins it by saying she thinks there are multiple truths. A vague thing to say…A cowardly thing really – I’m sure there are objective truths even if they’re hard to find, even in a chaotic universe chance itself is an objective truth.
But she might be right that there are other things worth focusing on. With that in mind, perhaps I can pay less attention to the religon debates and live a more worthwhile life. I can return to enjoying the serene (which I wrongly used to call spirituality), and live quietly without the arguments that people like Hitchkens will do for me. After all, I might be living at the apex of rationality, and it might be inevitable that a worse religion will undo all the progress we’ve made in this century at some later point. In that case, I’d have wasted a lot of my life, the only one that subjectively matters, for a future generation that doesn’t care one bit about me or my struggles.