And then I debated whether or not to put it on Tumblr…but I decided it was important. Because in my own way, I can (unfortunately) point out exactly what is wrong with men when they don’t realize how hard it is to be a woman. How we do not have equal opportunities and freedoms in everyday life….
Emotionally I hurt anyone stupid enough to get close to me all the time. I’m too distant and lost in my own thoughts. That’s a whole other issue.
The thing is, I damaged someone physically.
I was at training, regular class had ended and I was going to get water before doing some free practice. Someone came up behind me and tried to choke me. I got them off fast and turned to face them. They started punching me. I took one of their fists and started to turn it back on itself. This is an incredibly painful thing do. They just kept punching me with their free hand, so I increased the pressure of the control until they finally felt it through whatever it was going through their head that inspired the attack. They finally went to the ground and tapped out as if it was just a normal bit of training and they had just been pinned. Not a word had been spoken by them to this point. I just continued off the mats to go get some water because I was now furious and upset. i didn’t trust myself as to what I’d do next. I knew I had just applied pressure well past the point where tendon damage had to be done though. There was no doubt that their hand was now not in very good shape.
By the time I was collected enough to come out they had gone to change, and left soon after still without a word.
Everyone there it turns out had witnessed it. It was just so strange it had riveted everyone. No one tried to step in to end it, they just stood and watched.
They wanted to know why that person had chosen to attack me, and to do so from behind. I didn’t know. I hadn’t exchanged any words with them in weeks as far as I could remember. I haven’t trained with them in ages. I didn’t really know them at all to be honest, they were just another person there to me. I had only neutral memories of them, and any discussions with them I could recall were all neutral.
I don’t know why they attacked me, and everyone watching said it was an attack. It wasn’t play, it was viscous and my control on their hand should have dropped them long before it did. I was told by the head teacher there that I had comported myself very well, that I appeared to do what I could to not provoke them, and to just end the attack, even letting them continue to punch me and to use a control that should have stopped it instead of a powerful counterattack. I was told that I only scaled up my response as it was clear that I had to, instead of starting full bore.
I still damaged someone, I still committed a slow and intentional violent action. I do not feel better because I could have done much worse damage to them but didn’t. I feel I have damaged someone, not good that I only damaged them a little.
I still have no idea why I was attacked. They couldn’t have hurt me, they were punching me as hard as they could and it was not enough to damage me. Perhaps I could have just told them to stop. Better would have been if someone else had come and pulled them off and we could have found out why. Instead I was left to end it how I could (and I think I may have chosen wrong) and then when it was over, still, no one did anything.
I don’t know. I take great delight in being a thug there, but it’s for fun. I don’t do anything the other person can’t safely cope with. I’m there for a simulation of violence. At the end we all had fun and we all remain friends. I do not try to make enemies, I try to have everyone have fun. I like that people consider training with me to be a challenge, but, not something to be avoided.
I’m not ok with what they did, I’m not ok with no one else doing anything. I’m not ok with me.
Posted without tags as I don’t want to widely broadcast my failings as a person.
School year is almost done. As I go to higher level courses I feel less self conscious about my age.
First year is almost all kids, second year on there are a lot of mature and returning students. It’s not so bad.
Otherwise I would just like to say that Philip K Dick still wrote the original stories or inspired the best scifi and speculative fiction movies ever made. Also, his stories were always way better. I bring this up because, well, you can never have too much Dick.
This statement is only true for contexts in which it is true and is specifically excluded from all contexts in which it is not true.
Just by using that phrase I have proven my own hypothesis.
I really am not very immersed in pop culture, so, it takes a long time for me to notice something.
I’d finally figured I should find out what The Hunger Games was about, since it might be something I’d enjoy too. Looked it up, read about it, a few seconds into reading the premise it was clear to me it was a rip off of Battle Royal. I was not alone in noticing that I quickly found out.
So, fine, you did a localization of Battle Royal. Original work or ideas in the western world are really rare now, so, no shame in that. Still, don’t pull that nonsense about “Oh, it’s just a coincidence!”, no one believed that when Lucas said it about Kurosawa’s work, no one believed it when Steve Jobs used to claim that Pixar wasn’t massively inspired by Miyazaki, and no one believes The Hunger Games are not based off Battle Royal. I’m sure it’s a bit different and will go in a different direction in the end, so, why not be honest and admit your source inspiration.
Long ago I loved this game called Alpha Centauri. It was clear to me it was ripped off of the setting of the best Frank Herbert (and Bill Ransom) book you’ve never read, The Jesus Incident. Sure enough, in the manual it was mentioned that many of the players have probably noticed that the world was the world Pandora from said book, and if the player didn’t know that, quickly run out and find a copy and read it because it is so damn good. Then, years later, James Cameron lifts the setting (but not the story, he stole the setting from The Jesus Incident but the story told in it was ripped off from elsewhere) and denies it. I mean, he even called it Pandora, it wasn’t even subtle, and he looked the world in the eye and lied, saying that no, that was not the case. Well, yeah, don’t do that. Admit where you were inspired and let people get inspired by that same source too. They end up enjoying your work more because they get more depth and get to see how other artists face the questions the setting raises, or how other artists find different aspects to focus on all together. Stories, like all knowledge, thrive with depth and context. It is not the other way around.
Still, while we are on Battle Royal (which, well, this isn’t about anything really, is it), I used to watch Battle Royal about once a month, with the same friend each time. We had heard the sequel wasn’t too good, but one day decided to watch it anyway. We felt so betrayed by how bad it was neither of us has watched the first one again since. I was honestly offended Beat Takeshi allowed his name or image to be associated with it at all. So, yeah, I obviously take this stuff way too seriously.
Science is very hard work in fact. Being a student working in a lab has eaten my life because science is such hard work.
I don’t go out and have fun anymore in general. I still train in martial arts, which I do enjoy, but I consider exercise to be obligatory to being able to work hard with my brain, so, it’s not, I don’t know, bonus fun. I work my job to pay my bills, I work in the lab to help further science, and get a credit, and I study for my purely academic courses this term. I have a full life, too damn full, but, if I want to graduate ever, this is how it has to be.
I did do something fun this weekend and had to work all day yesterday to make up for it. Still, it was nice to be out and about, even though I pulled out a text book to study every time there was a break in the excitement.
I have a story about being offended during that excursion that I hope I can write up soon. Spoiler alert: unlike the average theist, I was offended by an expressed idea and I didn’t die. I was offended, but, you know, who cares. It amounts to nothing. I just find nothing more childish than the demand to not be offended.
Years ago, when it first came out, I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins on the subway on my way to and from work. I got muttered at, sneered at and vaguely made to feel threatened.
I’m finally getting around to reading God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens now. Sure, it’s years old and I should have gotten to it a long time ago. Bug me about not getting to this classic before now and I’ll produce a list of at least 100 book that I consider to be very important, most decades old, that I think you should have gotten to before now. Not a useful exercise, but I’ll feel all smarmy and that’s good enough motivation for me.
Reading it on the subway, I got a few smiles from people checking out what I’m reading, and got stopped in the elevator here at home by another tenant who just wanted to praise the book. I live in Canada so I can’t speak for anywhere else, but it’s becoming much better to be an out atheist here.
So, why finally read it when I have work and studying and so little time to call my own? Because the culture of offense, and especially the Islamic culture of offense, is trying to assert itself again. A sick minority want to control the very thoughts of the entire species. Because of this it’s important to be out as an atheist or agnostic. Because of this we must dare to offend. Because of this we should remember a person who knew when to be offensive, and we owe it to ourselves to not shut up because of hurt feelings, nor even death threats. Christopher was the master of calling out someones shit and offending them because they really did deserve it.
Don’t offend purely to offend, because even I think that’s just being a dick. Offend because someone doesn’t want to be challenged.
Brought to you by just being sick and tired of being told how to think, and all the following links:
On June 8th, 2010, I was “in conversation” with Christopher Hitchens at the 92nd Street Y in New York in front of his customary sellout audience, to launch his memoir, Hitch-22. Christopher turned in a bravura performance that night, never sharper, never funnier, and afterwards at a small,…
I try to avoid political posts, mostly because whereas I find swatting away religious commentators to be funny, swatting away those with odious political beliefs is just tiresome.
Still, cynical prediction time. It is an election year for the Americans. As is a tradition in the US (and to a lessor extent with the UK) Obama will probably pick his re-election war soon.
The Bushes and Clinton had Iraq, Thatcher had the Falklands, and it looks like Obama will have Iran.
Luckily, there is no such thing as prognostication, so, I’m just shoveling shit. I’ll be very happy to be wrong.
I may loathe Iran’s ruling class, but I have no quarrel with their average citizens and I’d go so far as to say I would hope they only see improvements in the quality of their lives for years to come (fun fact, everyone I know from Iran calls themselves Persians to distance themselves from the present theocracy there. Its a biased sample though since I really wouldn’t spend time with the sort of people who would support the present regime). They’re just people there after all, and it’s disgusting that they will be made to suffer more than they do for the evil of the ruling class there.
Obama isn’t what the media made him out to be. It was pathetic to watch people fall for the media created image and award him a peace prize. Just like the so called Arab spring, what we were served up was a total fabrication. The Arab spring was the ouster of the military backed dictators, true, but it wasn’t to bring in democracy; it was to bring in theocracy. Obama wasn’t a change of course for America, he was just a friendlier face for the same old madness they’ve been following for decades.
So, dear Southern neighbours, please show a lot of support for Obama, so he feels like he’ll get re-elected no problem and doesn’t resort to starting a war just to get votes. He is a warmonger though, so, I don’t hold out much hope. I don’t think he wants to avoid an armed conflict.
All that being said, I still support him over the Republicans.
So, some stupid set of ancestors of the dominant demographic arbitrarily set the new year that we predominantly follow to about now.
If you’re living in the Southern hemisphere, this is probably quite nice. For us in the Northern hemisphere (and especially those of us in the hellish frozen northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere) this is a stupid time to declare one.
So, anyone in the antipodean half of the world, stop smirking or I’ll come down there just to kick all your asses. I’d come to plunder too, but, you folk got nothing worth plundering.
So, back to our concerns. Up here we all have a nice bought of seasonal depression going. There are those who admit they get seasonal depression and their are liars, but there exists no one who does not get it.
As a result, everyone is now looking at the past year through the filtre of depression. They all now claim last year sucked, and they all hope that next year will somehow be better. Honestly, except for those who lost loved ones or are baring some other tragedy, last year was pretty good. It’s our perception that’s bad. We are guarenteed to start the next year on a negative note though, which makes everything harder.
Speaking of which, there is one new years tradition that manages to make it all much worse. The New-Years Resolution.
First of all, you’re depressed. The odds of you maintianing a lifestyle change is very low. It might happen, but, really, it won’t. When you do blow it, it’ll seem devastating, rather than just a little embarressing.
You never had a hope on a New-Years Resolution anyway. When you plan on a New-Years Resolution, you just made a plan to procrastinate. Life changes happen now. You decide to get to something later, then you just decided to repeatedly put it off then half ass it.
You want to change your life, do it right now. Otherwise, don’t take New Year’s so seriously. Don’t turn it into an opportunity to torture yourself. Just have some mostly sane fun and keep safe.
I originally started this several days ago. Upon the occasion of Christopher Hitchens’ death I have reframed a bit of it. As it’s a little long, it’s under a cut. I do hope you take the time to read it though.
Link for article describing the likely announcement coming tomorrow of the Higgs Boson being detected at the LHC.
So, Science - May have found, through extremely hard work by thousands of people from all cultures coming together, a very important confirmation that we understand many of the great secrets of the universe.
Religion - Divides the people of the Earth, and all their prayers combined can’t find a lost set of keys, let alone answer even a simple question about the universe.
Elsewhere on the internet I’m in a long term discussion about free will. Long story short, none of us think it exists. The two dominant perspectives are between myself and one other member of the discussion. My view is that because of how our consciousness works, we live in a way that is functionally equivalent to free will existing. As a result, I don’t let it ruin my day. The main counter view is that knowing you’re probably a robot deluded into thinking you’re deciding things is mental anguish, made worse by the fact that we’re not completely sure if we are just puppets thinking we’re real people or not. These are, as I said, viewpoints only about what possibly may be. These viewpoints don’t have a baring on the science so far, just on our emotional state while examining the evidence so far. Besides, who are you going to complain to about how things are that could possibly change things?
The conversation has drifted into the subject of the emergence of consciousness from a Darwinian selection perspective. If it is the case that the conscious mind is involved in very few if any decisions, then, especially when viewed from its most primitive manifestations, it isn’t worth the cost in calories for the huge amount of processing power needed to be self aware.
Now, here we are in the realm of speculation, but, since we started in that realm anyway, I hope you’ll forgive me. I believe that self awareness is not the exclusive realm of humans. In fact, I think it’s pretty well universal to anything with a central nervous system to some degree (I will accept arguments about some primitive insects and worms, but I speculate they are, although only vaguely, self aware). As such I consider consciousness to me VERY VERY OLD. This means two things. First is the above mentioned universality of it. If my hypothesis is correct, then it’s not that several lineages independently evolved self awareness, but that one of the first things we could call an animal had an incredibly simplistic consciousness, which means it’s been an integral part of animals from the start. Second, that even though I said that I don’t believe in free will, self awareness being preserved so well among all animals points to it having some sort of survival advantage. Also, if the advantage was as straight forward as an instinct to self preservation, then it wouldn’t explain why humans are such amazing survivors when the only thing impressive about us as a species is our intellect.
I’m left with three possibilities:
One; consciousness is an emergent feature of any complex central nervous system. This is a variation on the hypothesis that the mind is an emergent property of the brain, but is not quite the same. It is the hypothesis that self awareness arises spontaneously in any sufficient array of nerve cells. I’m actually very comfortable with this line of thought.
Two; that consciousness was the result of a mutation or set of mutations and was integrated into the preexisting nervous system. This is not my favorite hypothesis, but an essay by Richard Dawkins (entitled “Darwin Triumphant” in A Devil’s Chaplain) has lead me to an interesting argument in favour. I probably won’t do this justice, but, there is the idea that a change can be outright maladaptive, but if the mutation takes place in a sheltered enough ecosystem, a trait can survive despite the disadvantage it confers and can be selected upon. Eventually the selection pressures will alter the trait leading to an adaptive trait that would not have had a chance to emerge in an environment with harder competition. The idea that an adaptation could emerge from a trait that when it first emerged was a hindrance (as opposed to any maladaptive trait quickly being selected out) just because the organism had lucked out to find itself in a niche with little competition when it emerged was not something I had properly considered.
Three; that, despite the evidence we have no free will, and knowing that it takes huge amounts of fuel to run a conscious brain, that there really is an advantage so important to self awareness that even a tiny amount of it is an advantage.
(Bonus; or I could lack the data and specialized education to have a clue what I’m talking about and could be talking childishly naive shit right now. This is actually the most likely option.)
Consciousness doesn’t seem to play any role in our fight or flight reactions. In the dirty business of feeding, fucking, fighting and saving ourselves from immediate death or damage, it’s pretty well not present. Anyone who has faced an immediate danger to their lives, real or perceived, knows the conscious mind shuts down and lizard brain just does what it does. It’s like you’re in a corner, just watching. Consciousness, in our species (and I’m certainly not qualified to talk about the subjective experience of self awareness in any other species) does it’s work in the quiet times. When we are NOT occupied with simply surviving, the conscious mind busies itself with finding ways to move to a better environment, or make the existing environment better for itself. Given enough free time it switches to the pursuit of pure knowledge and understanding of this universe, instead of just accepting what appeals to it (you knew there would be a jab at religion. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out religion is just intellectually lazy and mentally crippling crap). If the conscious mind is just a waste of fuel unless you find yourself, as a species (or at least a community) in a position of some leisure time, then it does seem maladaptive before that is achieved. The less self aware and more robotic should have an advantage (and I would argue they do. The ants, before we even think of their cousins the wasps and bees, are the most successful animals on this planet by far. If humans were to disappear, in a few years it would be like we never were. If the ants were to disappear, the chaos and resulting extinctions would echo for millennia) over the more complex of thought, but those species who show very high degrees of self awareness do very well.
There is no way for me to answer this. It is always tempting to write a “just so story” arguing why my favorite hypothesis must be the correct one. That would be framing my speculation as the obvious conclusion, and is a tool of the theologian or the dishonest scientist (like, oh, I don’t know, all evolutionary psychologists). I don’t know, I don’t know if any of those options are right, or even in the neighbourhood. It’s ok not to know, and I won’t claim I do. Knowing I don’t know makes me want to keep looking to see if I can help find out. When that answer comes, it will open up new questions we can’t even imagine now. All we have to do is keep asking “but why?”
One last thought. Anyone who has ever had a sudden insight know that it seems to come out of nowhere. The insight is handed to you, seemingly from somewhere else, often when you are doing something unrelated. You brain decided what it was going to work on, and when it was going to have you implement the idea by serving it to your consciousness. Even in those times, where is your free will?
"Recommend a book. :) (Doesn’t have to be relevant to atheism, just any good book.)"
This question is cruel, as it only asks for one book. So, how about…The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It’s a damn fine book if magic realism, existentialist angst and nameless dread appeal to you in a book.
Ok, so, it was a challenge, but, only because the questions tended toward craptacular. That’s fine because my answers were not much better.
"On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with life at this moment, and why?"
At this moment I am considering my life at a small scale, not the big picture. As such, I have my health, and two people who are close to me have had great health news. At his moment, knowing that, it’s a ten, purely because people I love are no longer at death’s door. What else could I possibly need?
Yeah, I’m almost sappy, and I can’t really relate this to atheism or a naturalistic worldview. Damn I need to be less boring.
Not only do I love your blog ( heh found it ) but I also am secretly infatuated with you. K. here we go I got this idea from a spam msg I received on Facebook lol.. I know you like me but were always way too shy to say so :3 go hit up crushmasher(dót)com (uhh it wont let me do a regular link) then make an acct there. Search for the profile 'justmeandu33' ( obv me ) I posted body pix.. if u can figure out who I am msg me and we'll kick it. CC required for age but it is free. (annoying i know)
Yay! I’m finally awesome enough to get this spam too! It’s like a right of passage, wherein I prove I don’t have Downs syndrome by simply not falling for this.
"Would you ever date/marry somebody who follows a religion? Be honest."
I have! Dated that is. Love is a funny thing.
It is possible to have a deep and very meaningful relationship with someone you disagree with certain facts about.
Anyway, all because someone believes something that is, well, against all evidence, doesn’t mean they can’t care deeply about you and you about them.
I don’t see me ending up with someone who is hyper conservative and fundamentalist, but someone who believes in a god or gods, calls themselves something to do with that belief and is basically secular, sure, why not?
Another question I really do like, as it does point out that some of us can actually be close minded about having personal relationships because of their beliefs. I’m not saying to go hug a member of the taliban, but, open your life up. I count among my very good friends many jews, a few catholics, sundry other christians, a sikh, a whole bunch of buddhists and a huge pile of wiccans/pagans. My life is richer for it. We also have some bang up arguments too, and I haven’t lost one of those yet. It drives them nuts, but, also makes them examine their beliefs. Many have left their religion since I’ve known them, and I think I’ve helped with a few of them.
Had my first research subjects in for testing tonight. The other experimenter was a woman I find so beautiful that I’m somewhere between a nervous wreck and a blob of dopamine when I speak to her. There are far worse difficulties to be subjected to.
Actually the first part is nicely open ended. I’ve written about the physical cascade of events before, and how all the potential energy we store is accounted for and that right there is pretty solid evidence against mind body dualism (though how anyone can still believe in mind body dualism since Phineas Gage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage) as a case study is beyond anyone with any intelligence and education). So, I’ll put the same thing another way. You are annihilated. You no longer are. It is pointless to say you’d miss something about life after death because there will be no you. It is as it was for the eternity before you were born, there is not even void since there is no you to perceive it. Oblivion is all that waits.
Do I fear death? Fuck yeah, I don’t want to be annihilated. I accept it though, it just is.
"Are you spiritual, or are your feet always on the ground?"
Day 10 brings us a false dichotomy.
So, the word “spiritual” is like the word “queer”, it’s meaning is so completely subjective that it communicates absolutely nothing whatsoever and should just be abandoned.
I can claim that I’m not spiritual, but someone else can point out my vegetable-eating tree-hugginess and claim that’s spiritual. Someone can point out my awe at the natural sciences and mathematics and call me spiritual. Someone can point out how much I enjoy an altered mind state and call me spiritual. Someone can point out how much I love kinky sex and call me queer. People have done all of those, and I do not accept any label anyone has decided to paste on me, especially labels that don’t mean anything at all since they’ve subsumed everything possible under their aegis.
So, fuck this question. Why did I think answering these questions would be fun? Could someone ask me a non-moronic question please?
"Even though you’re an atheist, have you ever experienced a moment that could be called “religious?” Like an epiphany about the world or complete peace?"
I have taken heroic doses of hallucinogenic drugs and have had pleanty of classical religious experiences of ineffable beauty and glory, accompanied with seemingly powerful revelations. Not being an idiot, I didn’t take them at seriously when I sobered up. You have to be desperate to consider the revelations that accompany that mindstate to not be merely banal from a sober perspective. It should also be mentioned that hallucinogens are amazing tools for insight and for personal growth and change, but not at those doses. At much more sane doses with a properly trained person who is actually capable of taking a therapist’s role to help guide you, they are powerful and positive tools.
So there is the difference between a rationalist and a deluded individual, I don’t take my brain misfirings seriously.
"What’s your political alignment? Does your atheism influence how you vote and how you feel on issues?"
Economically centrist, socially very liberal.
Atheism is the stance that you don’t believe in a god or gods are there is no evidence. I fail to understand how that could influence how I feel on issues, but it does mean I’m very unlikely to vote for a theocratic party. My scientific education is what influences how I feel on issues and how I vote.
I think the questioner is confusing atheism with scientific thought and skepticism. They are closely correlated, but not the same thing.
"Except for God, do you believe in anything supernatural or pseudoscientific? (Ghosts, alien abductions, spirits, souls, demons, psychics, magic, Harry Potter, etc.)"
And we’re back to questions so stupid that I’m embarrassed for whomever wrote these.
The question presupposes that I believe in god. I know what the asker is trying to say, but their grammar is so bad that they state that I do believe in god. I don’t believe in god.
Ok, so, next part (of the first sentence, seriously, haven’t even completed a sentence in response yet. Of course there only is one sentence, but it hurt so much to read I felt like I had read a novel of dumbassness), if I was to put something in the set I call pseudoscience, then by that set’s definition I think it’s bullshit. The set I define as supernatural is the set of all things that are not in the set of natural things. The set of natural things is the set of all things that do exist, therefore by definition the set supernatural is completely contained in the set of stuff that is fictional.
So, the next part is going to be confusing if the original questioner where to read it, as they don’t seem too bright. Of course I believe in them. I’ve read pseudoscientific claims, therefore the claim exists. A claim must be conceived of to exist. I think the conclusions of the claims are wrong, as the conclusions go against predominant and sound evidence. I know the claim that vaccines cause autism exists. There is no evidence for it and the null hypothesis has no challenge from it, but of course the pseudoscientific claim exitst. The proof that belief in the supernatural is also real is so close I won’t bother with it. So, yeah, their conclusions are wrong, but of course I believe in them. Also, I really enjoyed the Harry Potter books, and he definitely exists as a fictional character.
Now, let’s go one step deeper. Let’s say I not only knew a supernatural claim exists, I’ll pick one at random, mind body duelism, but I thought the evidence, or the evidence that existed at the time, pointed to that conclusion. If it is the case that I believe I have a soul, I would not consider it a supernatural claim, I’d consider it a natural claim, and the claim that the mind is an emergent property of the brain to be pseudoscience. It is also the case that any beliefs I have, even if they are based on good evidence that turns out to be wrong and as a result I’m mistaken in my belief, are in fact psuedoscientific/supernatural. As I lack the evidence to recognize them as such, I would, in error, believe such a claim to be scientific and naturalistic. No one is going to claim that they believe something they know isn’t true.
Have I torn this question apart enough yet? That’ll teach me to commit to answering a bunch of questions apparently written by a 12 year old dropout.
"Did you lose any friends because you decided to be an atheist? Did your family flip out?"
A far less deeply flawed set of questions today. I have some deep criticisms still, but they don’t make me angry.
First part, I have to agree with several who have said that atheism is the null hypothesis. No one is born a theist, that nonsense is taught. Therefore you don’t decided to be an atheist, you decide to be a theist. I think a more accurate way to say this is “What made you deconvert from theism?”
Now, before I answer, why do I think it’s important to word the question like I did? It’s not at all for the other atheists and agnostics reading this, it’s for any theists reading this who desire to honestly understand us. They are often taught that every form of being is a lifestyle choice, and it’s exactly that sort of post-modernist sloppy thinking that is hindering their understanding. There are many things that are natural ways of being that differ from theirs. Sexual orientation is a very important example. You are born to your sexuality, you don’t choose it, and a simple analysis of the social consequences of homosexuality is a pretty simple test that it is not chosen. Who would choose an orientation that can lead to a death sentence in many parts of the world? One is born an atheist, and all are subjected to attempts of indoctrination. Why we never embraced or why we deconverted from theistic or other supernatural worldviews differ, but theism is not the default position.
Since I did not deconvert this question is moot (though I’m happy to let the question stand as my case is not the norm, so it’s a safe assumption one did deconvert, and most have a good story to go with it). The closest I can come to answering is my atheism, skepticism and demands for a high quality of evidence have driven theistic friends nuts, but they are good people or they wouldn’t be my friends, so, it’s never driven anyone away. Sorry I don’t have a good story here.
Did my family flip out still works with my reframing of the first question. No good story here. As I said before, I’m basically from a secular family, so, it just isn’t controversal to be an atheist in it. Well, there is my mentally ill half brother who has threatened to shoot me over it. It’s his illness speaking though, it’s not him. I knows he’s sick enough that it’s a legitimate worry he may do so one day, but, it’s because he’s ill and won’t accept treatment. It’s a tragedy, but, it just is.
Not too exciting, sorry. Perhaps there will be something more relevant to me in the coming days. Hope I’m not boring you guys to death.
"Do you think religion is obsolete and should be wiped completely off the face of the Earth, or does some good come out of it?"
Ok, this is a shit question. It’s actually 3 questions, at least one of which is trying to solicit a normative statement from me.
As such, I’ll answer it as three questions, and try to change it from normative to positive.
Is religion obsolete? Whether something has a functional purpose does not depend on if that purpose is positive, negative or neutral. Religion is not obsolete by definition since there does not exist something that has taken all of religion’s business. Religion is not obsolete by the definition of the word obsolete, and the phrasing of the question was a childish attempt to presuppose an answer by implying a false dichotomy.
Should Religion be wiped from the face of the Earth? I could not rephrase this as a positive instead of a normative query. Still, no, it should not, as that would be saying that I know how people should best think. I am not the thought police, nor should thought policing take place (which is, ironically, the business of religion). I cannot produce evidence that the world would be better if the concept of religion was nullified from even being able to be considered as something that once existed, and no one can make claims about this since it cannot be studied with real evidence produced. I think it’s a good idea to stop following religions, but they would still exist as historical fact in such a case. Anyway, enough time wasted on a terrible and childish question.
Does some good come out of religion? Well, gross or net? If it is the case that religion itself, in the mind of a follower inspired one good act then it is the case good came from it. I think an examination of Jainism would find a few good acts coming from people inspired by the lessons of that religion. To say I think that on net religion is a force for evil, that wouldn’t surprise you, but the question is so vague as to be meaningless.
Terrible questions today, let’s hope tomorrow’s is better.
"Are you a more outspoken or more apathetic atheist? Why?"
Outspoken. Because truth matters.
Call it a function of Judaic background, but if a lie is spoken, and you have real evidence that contradicts the lie but you stay silent, you are complicit in the propogation of that lie. If the lie can cause damage or suffering due to it’s propagation and integration into people’s bahaviors, then you, by not speaking out, are complicit. Knowledge is power, and as a certain Spiderman’s uncle is often quoted as saying, with great power comes great responisbility.
Religion is used to excuse great evils, it’s true. It is also true that religion demands great evils. Religions are vast meme-complexes, included in most of them are demands that harm be done, such as female circumcision, the death penalty for apostasy, complete submission to authority and on up to genocide. Replacing the barbaric meme-complexes of bronze age magical thinking and all the foul parasite memes that can propagate in a mind when the ground was made fertile by the magical worldview with evidence based thought does lead to more peaceful populations. For evidence see the disproportionately low atheist prison populations (http://www.skepticfiles.org/american/prison.htm).
I’m outspoken because shattering the back of religion is a step towards a world where violence is no longer righteous, no longer even romantic, instead violence is something to be abhorred. It is an ethical duty to confront the ideas not only for what they contain, but because of the other ideas that can follow and be accepted on the main ideas of a religion’s coattails by even the so-called moderates as well. Confront, challenge, offer alternatives (and by all means, don’t be a dick about it, even though I sometimes am). Just don’t be silent.